Staying Flexible And Pain Free as We Age

I’ve noticed that many friends over the age of 60 have switched their modes of exercise to less aggressive or intensive sports. Most of them were prompted by whispers from sore elbows and knees and/or aching muscles. This growing stiffness reflects in increase in Vata dosha that inevitably accompanies age.

According to Ayurveda, there are three stages of life. The first stage is Kapha-predominant. Childhood is all about growing and increasing structure. The second stage is Pitta-predominant. This stage begins at puberty and continues until we are around 50. The third stage is Vata-predominant and continues through the rest of our life. Many times what we consider signs of normal aging are actually the results of a growing imbalance of Vata: stiffness, memory loss, insomnia. By putting extra attention on keeping Vata in balance, as we grow older, we can often eliminate these symptoms.

Vata also increases when the weather is cold and dry. This is why many people experience more pulled muscles and joint problems in the winter, as well as during their later years.

As Vata increases, an imbalance in Vata can make the joints drier and more stiff. When Vata moves from its proper location is can start to dry out Kapha dosha, cutting down on Kapha’s natural lubricating abilities. To counter this tendency, daily oil massage can be extremely effective. Using warmed sesame oil (or olive or coconut oil for those with lots of Pitta); massage the joints in a circular motion each morning before your bath. If you are already experiencing joint pain, follow your massage by applying three to five minutes of moist heat to the joint.

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In addition, regular stretching of the joints and muscles through yoga and sun salutations helps keep the body limber. No matter what form of exercise you prefer, adding regular yoga exercises to your routine will help you enjoy your favorite sport for years to come. Yoga is unique in that it can strengthen and lengthen the muscles. Most forms of exercise that strengthen muscles also tend to shorten them. Shorter muscles tend to become stiffer due to the increase in collagen. Yoga, however, lengthens the muscles while they are being strengthened, and can prevent the increase of collagen.

Avoid straining when you exercise. Yoga (and any other form of exercise) should always be comfortable. Feel the stretch, but ease up if there is discomfort.

If you have significant joint problems, be sure to get medical attention. Joint problems commonly reflect ama in the system. Specific recommendations regarding diet, herbs, Ayurvedic topical preparations and Panchakarma can be made by an Ayurvedic expert.

For more information on consultations and Panchakarma, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Exercise to Uphold Health and Beauty

The winter-to-spring transition is a delicate time when it comes to physical activity. While exercise is beneficial in balancing the natural increase of Kapha, the Vata that has accumulated in our physiologies over the long, cold winter can make us prone to joint pain, back pain and muscle spasms. Therefore it is good to pay attention to what your body is telling you. Back off if you feel any twinges or pain. As you increase your exercise, think to balance Vata at the same time. Being regular with your morning oil massage and yoga exercises, and favor warm, nourishing foods that can help pacify Vata while you wake up your Kapha. A visit to an Ayurvedic expert is the ideal way to determine how much Vata has accumulated over the winter and what procedures are best to restore a healthy balance.

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That said, let’s look at the benefits of exercise. Exercise can help us look and feel better on almost every level.

  1. Improves digestion and prevents constipation: According to Ayurveda, poor digestion leads to an accumulation of ama, which is a contributing factor to most diseases and disorders. A study published by the Gastroenterological Society of Australia showed that exercise helps strengthen the walls of the abdomen and the intestinal muscles, allowing for the more efficient breakdown food by effectively moving it through your digestive tract. Even intermittent walking throughout the day can improve the functioning of your digestive tract.
  2. Helps beat anxiety, stress and depression: When we workout, our brain releases powerful, relaxing chemicals like seretonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. These hormones help relieve stress and anxiety. For this reason, exercise is often recommended to those with depression.
  3. Helps reverse aging. Reducing stress also means reducing the production of the stress-related hormone cortisol in the body. Cortisol has been shown to interfere with the production of collagen, the protein that helps keep our skin supple and elastic. Given that exercise boosts the production of collagen, it makes sense that walking, biking and other forms of physical activity can delay the onset of wrinkles and other signs of ageing.

Exercise also helps reverse the ageing process at the cellular level. According to a study conducted published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, exercise helped reverse cell damage due to oxidative stress

  1. Helps improve sleep: A study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine Reviews connected exercise with increased sleep hours. When we sleep our body produces a growth hormone that helps repair and rebuild body tissues.
  2. Gives us glowing skin. When you workout there is increased blood circulation in and around your face, giving your skin a healthy glow.
  3. Promotes healthy hair: Exercise helps increase blood flow to the scalp, keeping hair and its follicles healthy. It also helps circulate oxygenated blood to our hair, which makes it stronger.

If the end of winter brings with it poor sleep, increased joint and muscle pain, constipation, and other symptoms of Vata imbalance, you might want to consider Panchakarma or day spa treatments to help removed deep-seated Vata from the tissues. For more information on available treatments, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Are Night Owls Lazy Owls While Early Birds Stay in Shape?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAccording to a new study from the Academy of Sleep Medicine, night owls tend to be more sedentary and feel that they have a harder time maintaining an exercise schedule.

“We found that even among healthy, active individuals, sleep timing and circadian preference are related to activity patterns and attitudes toward physical activity,” said lead researcher Kelly Glazer Baron, associate professor of neurology and director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Feinberg School of Medicine.

“Waking up late and being an evening person were related to more time spent sitting (particularly on weekends) and with difficulty making time to exercise… Even among those who were able to exercise, waking up late made it perceived as more difficult.”

To anyone who knows about Ayurveda, this makes total sense. From an Ayurveda perspective, sleeping into the Kapha time of the day allows the heavy, slow, lethargic qualities of kapha to influence our mind/body system. Let’s examine the mechanics of this phenomenon.Alarm_Clocks_20101107a

According to Ayurveda there are three time periods in every twelve hours: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. The Vata dominated period is from 2 until 6, the Kapha from 6 to 10, and the Pitta from 10 to 2. The cycle repeats itself in the next twelve hours, so that there are two Vata times, two Kapha times, and two Pitta times each day, one during the daytime and one during the nighttime.

Quickly reviewing the qualities of the doshas:

Vata dosha is a combination of air and space. Vata’s qualities are light, mobile, dry, cold, erratic and subtle.

The Pitta dosha is comprised of fire and water. Pitta’s qualities are hot, sharp, light, and intense.

The Kapha dosha is comprised of earth and water. Kapha is heavy, steady, dull, stable, soft, and static.

We know that the doshas exist not only within our bodies but throughout all the world around us. Our bodies experience increased balance and ease of functioning when we follow a daily routine that is in tune with the natural rhythms of the day.

To stay in sync with the cycles of nature, we should go to bed before 10:00 so that we take advantage of the slow, stable and heavy quality of Kapha time, which is ideal for falling asleep. Following the same reasoning, we want to rise before or near to 6:00 am, taking advantage of the light, energetic quality of Vata time. If we extend our sleep into Kapha time, we bring that heavy, dull quality of Kapha into our waking hours. Sleeping as late as 8:00 or 9:00 am can make us feel sluggish —and it makes sense that exercise would be perceived as uninviting.

As we discussed in last week’s blog, increasing the influence of Kapha, especially during the spring and summer, can lead to an accumulation of ama throughout the body. If you are find that you have gotten into bad habits in terms of bedtimes and rising times, and notice any increasingly sedentary habits, it’s time to take steps to reset your daily routine before serious imbalances develop.

For tips on resetting your sleep schedule, visit our February post, Time to Wake Up.

For information on consulting an Ayurveda expert or information on the balancing and detoxifying treatments of Ayurveda, visit The Raj, Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center.

WWW.THERAJ.COM

 

( Picture of sleepy owl. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Googles Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)

( Picture of alarm clock. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Googles Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)