How Ayurveda Can Help Prevent Asthma, Arthritis and Heart Disease

The Ayurvedic approach to creating health has two goals: to restore balance to the level of underlying biological intelligence and to open the channels of communication and circulation. This helps bring re-establish the lively coherence between biological intelligence and the material level of the physiology.

Enhancing Mind-Body Coordination

At its deepest level, the body is a network of intelligence that is constantly being influenced by our mental state. In fact, Ayurveda holds that all health problems are ultimately due to “mistakes of the intellect.” This is because in the mind-body system that constitutes our selves, “consciousness is primary and matter is secondary”. Enhancing the body’s connection with the network of intelligence at its source is the most important step in creating ideal health.

Diet and Proper Routine of Life

Proper routine of life is also a prerequisite for health. In the majority of cases the imbalances at the basis of disease are created over time by simple life-style mistakes in diet, exercise and behavior that disrupt natural biological rhythms.

Our diet and daily routine of eating, sleeping and exercising determine whether we become stronger and healthier day by day or whether we create imbalances that continually grow toward disease. Without proper diet and routine of life, the effectiveness of any treatment program, whether it is a Western medicine approach or an natural medicine approach, will be greatly reduced. This is because the true cause of most diseases and disorders will continue to exist. The primary goal of an Ayurvedic program is to help structure day-to-day behavior so it has a balancing and strengthening effect on health. (See our blog, Staying Healthy with an Ayurvedic Routine)

Internal Cleansing

Impurities blocking the channels of circulation and communication are a major factor in the body losing contact with its own network of intelligence. Most blockages develop gradually over time due to poor digestion, which leads to the creation of impurities (referred to as “ama”), and poor elimination, which allows the impurities to be absorbed into the system.

Improving digestion and elimination and removing accumulated impurities is an important step in your Ayurveda health program. This can be achieved by simple internal cleansing therapies that can done at home can be prescribed by an Ayurveda expert, depending on your individual state of health and balance. For more profound internal cleansing, the traditional detoxification treatments, called Panchakarma, are recommended. (Read our blog on Panchakarma)

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The following examples describe how an accumulation of ama can be at the basis of various diseases.

1)Arthritis: When ama starts to accumulate in the joints, this can create an inflammatory and immune response that creates the symptoms of arthritis.

2) Asthma: When ama accumulates in the lungs, impeding the circulation in that area, the body can both accumulate more allergens and also become more sensitized to those allergens.

3) Cardiovascular disease: Modern medicine describes how impurities block the cardiovascular system. When the accumulating impurities are high in free radicals, they become very reactive with the blood vessel walls and damage them.

For more information about specific disorders and how Ayurvedic programs can help restore balance, contact the Vedic Health Office at The Raj, Ayurveda Health Spa:

www.theraj.com

Why Aging and Disease Aren’t Synonymous: the Value of Panchakarma in Maintaining Health

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It is a fact that the functioning of the body suffers as impurities and toxins accumulate in the cells and tissues. Such impurities can come from both inside and outside the body. From inside the body come internal metabolic and cellular waste products, such as free-radical-damaged cells and tissues. From outside come external impurities and toxins, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants. In the history of mankind, never before have we been faced with such high levels of toxicity in our environment. A variety of man-made toxins often find their way into the deep tissues of our bodies and can wreak havoc on our immune systems. All these impurities (collectively referred to by Ayurveda as “ama”) block the free flow of our body’s inner intelligence. If left to accumulate, such impurities can lead to degenerative disorders and life-threatening disease. While the body has its own effective self-purifying mechanisms, these prove increasingly inadequate as we age, due to our ever-increasing toxic burden.

Western medicine has, for the most part, focused on putting substances (e.g. pharmaceuticals) into the body rather than taking unhealthful substances out. One of the specialties of the ancient science of Ayurveda is Panchakarma, a group of therapies that work together to purify the body of impurities, and thus avert or reduce the development of disease and aging. Panchakarma treatments are designed to first loosen impurities from bodily tissues, then eliminate them from the body altogether.

All Panchakarma treatments are individualized, depending on the doshic balance and specific imbalances of the person receiving the treatments. The treatments can result in a relief from a wide range of disorders, because the series of procedures free the bodies own self-repair mechanisms and remove blockages that are at the foundation of many symptoms and disorders.

The efficacy of these traditional treatments was shown in a two-month longitudinal study on subjects undergoing five days of Panchakarma treatments at The Raj. Researchers Robert Herron, PhD, and John Fagan, Ph.D. compared to tests taken prior to treatment showing blood levels of the highly toxic PCBs and Beta-HCH. These substances, which are known to attach to the lipid layers that surround our cells, were reduced by 46 and 48 percent respectively. Without this detoxification program, the natural expected drop in PCB and Beta-HCH over a two-month period is only a fraction of one percent. No other method has been scientifically verified to reduce fat-soluble toxins in the human body without causing negative side effects. Normally these fat-soluble substances remain in the body for many years, but Panchakarma allows us a healthy alternative for coping with a toxic world.

Once toxins are loosened from the fatty tissue, they need to be safely eliminated from the bloodstream and the body. Panchakarma treatments include specific steps that take care to properly remove the toxicants from the blood stream without so that they are not reabsorbed or able to create more damage. At the end of each day, after impurities from different parts of the body have been loosened and drawn into the intestinal tracts, a gentle internal cleansing treatment, called a basti, is given. These treatments essentially warm herbalized oil enemas that lubricate, and nourish the colon, as well as induce eliminative action. According to the original Ayurvedic texts, “by basti alone, 50% of illness can be cured.”

Panchakarma can be taken for as few as three consecutive days, and as many as 30. It can be done in-residence, or you can visit an Ayurvedic center for a few hours each day and return to your home afterwards. These treatments are most effective when done regularly each year.

Our bodies are designed to maintain a balanced state in which everything functions properly. Both fasting and these drastic detox regimens can alter this homeostasis, often in a harmful way. Liver glycogen stores can become depleted, alterations can occur in the mineral and electrolyte balance in the blood, muscle and bone tissue can begin to break down, changes can occur in the acid-alkaline balance, and immune function may be impaired. Extreme detox can also overtax adrenals, which means that the body will hold on to the calories we ingest after the fast and store it as fat. In Ayurvedic terms, an extreme fast creates high pitta/low agni. This can start a whole new cycle of imbalances.

While Panchakarma can bring big results, the process itself is gentle and even luxurious. In essence, Panchakarma is an integrated sequence of procedures that, together, dislodge impurities from the cells and then flush them from the body. The doshas are brought into balance and the natural healing mechanisms of the body are “freed” to resume full functioning.

For more information of Panchakarma, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site:

www.theraj.com

Joint Pain and Regular Lifestyle: New Research Upholds Ayurveda Approach to Arthritis

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Ayurveda has always connected joint pain to Vata dosha. While there may be other contributing factors to the disorder, such as the accumulation of ama, an imbalance in Vata dosha is always associated with arthritis and joint pain. One of the most important Ayurvedic recommendations for balancing Vata is regularity in routine: eating at the same, exercising at the same time, and going to bed at the same time every day.

Now modern science lends strength to this seemingly simple Ayurvedic “fix”.

A new study from Manchester University concludes that regular mealtimes, exercise times and bed times could help keep arthritis at bay. Apparently there are tiny biological clocks inside our cartilage cells that control thousands of genes that are involved in keeping in keeping our cartilage healthy and strong.

The most common form of arthritis is caused by wear and tear of the cartilage that helps our joints withstand the strain of lifting, kneeling, bending, gripping, etc. When the little biological clocks in the joints are working properly, the genes are timed to be more or less active at different times of the day and night. This allows daily repair to happen in progressive and sequential steps.

As we age, our biological clocks in our joints can stop working properly and the repair process no longer gets carried out properly. The lead scientist on the Manchester University study, Dr. Quin-Jung Meng, found that the simple act of keeping a regular daily routine actually helped keep the cartilage clocks working properly, allowing them to do their job in supporting self-repair of the cartilage.

And the study concluded that not only can a regular routine delay the onset of arthritis, it could also help relieve pain in those already suffering from arthritis.

The researchers noted the importance of understanding the role that the body’s circadian rhythm (our in-built body clock) has in maintaining healthy joint tissue and how disruptions to this process could contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.

In many cases, the wear and tear in the joints is aggravated by the accumulation of ama. When ama, the toxic residue from poorly digested food, enters the blood stream, it can build up in weak areas of the body, including the joints. To remove ama once it has settled into the joints and tissues, the traditional purification and detoxification treatments, called Panchakarma, can be very helpful. These treatments help bring the aggravated doshas and accumulated ama back into the digestive tract for elimination. Once ama has been cleared, a program of prevention can be recommended. This will include life-style, diet and herbal recommendations that will help keep Vata in balance while supporting proper digestion so that ama no longer accumulated in the body.

For more information on programs for arthritis at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa, visit the web site:

www.theraj.com

Staying Healthy with Ayurveda Daily Routine

 

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According to Ayurveda, following a proper daily routine is a prerequisite for health. Almost 90% of ill health in the United States is said to be preventable. In most cases, the imbalances at the basis of disease and disorders are created over time by simple mistakes in diet, exercise and behavior that disrupt our biological rhythms.

Our diet and daily routine of eating, sleeping, and exercising, determine whether we become stronger and healthier day by day or whether we create imbalances that continually grow toward disease. Without proper diet and routine of life the effectiveness of any treatment program we undertake will be greatly reduced because the true cause of the disorder will continue to exist. One of the goals of a successful Ayurveda program is to help structure day-to-day behavior so that it has a balancing and strengthening effect on health.

Ideal daily routine means a routine that is in accord with the laws of nature; a routine that keeps the mind/body system functioning efficiently with the least amount of wear and tear.

Here are a few examples of how ideal daily routine can promote health.

Ideal Times for Sleeping

There is a saying, “The day starts the night before”. Only by going to bed early can the next day’s activity be fully supported. By going to bed during Kapha time, (before 10:00 P.M. when the evening Pitta period begins), we take advantage of Nature’s natural cycle of healing and rejuvenation. The qualities of Kapha, (heaviness and dullness), allows us to get to sleep most quickly, and to have the deepest, least interrupted sleep.

After 10:00 Pitta begins to dominate. Pitta at this time of day should be involved in metabolic cleansing. The body needs to be inactive at this time so that it can focus its intelligence and energy on metabolic cleansing and rejuvenation. If we are up and active during this time, we may enjoy an effective spurt of energy but we cheat our bodies on much needed self-repair. Over time this can take a serious toll on our physical and mental health.

Going to bed on time allows us to easily rise at the proper time, before 6:00 A.M. The period before 6 AM is the time when all of Nature is waking up, and a time when Vata is enlivened in the environment. If we start our day in Vata time, our mind will experience more of the qualities of balance Vata throughout the day: increased energy, clarity, intelligence and alertness.

If we sleep past 6 AM, we sleep into the Kapha time of the day. When a person sleeps until 7:30 AM they have been lying dull and dormant of 1 and 1/2 hours in Kapha time and they wake imbibed with the qualities of excess Kapha: dullness, heaviness and lethargy.

Understanding and following the ideal times for eating and sleeping means harmonizing our behavior with the rhythms and cycles of the body and the cycles of nature. This is the key to living a health-promoting life. If we live a lifestyle that disrupts our natural biological rhythms, we are sabotaging our own health, breaking down the resistance of the body and contributing to the creation of disease.

Ideal Times for Eating

Breakfast

Digestion is not strong when we first awake, so breakfast should not be a heavy meal. Cooked apples and pears are a perfect way to begin the day. It is best to avoid cheeses, meats and other heavy, hard-to digest foods at breakfast.

Lunch

In the middle of the day the heat element in nature is at its peak. This activates the heat element, Pitta, in our own bodies. Pitta is responsible for digestion and metabolism.

For this reason we should eat our largest meal at noon. The ideal time for lunch is between 12:30 and 1:00, as this is the period of highest Pitta and greatest digestive power. Lunch should be a warm, cooked meal, with all six tastes. Take at least 30 minutes, eat in a relaxed setting, and then sit comfortably for 10 to 15 minutes after you finish.

Dinner

In the evening, digestion is less strong. In a few hours we should be sleeping, which further slows the digestive and metabolic processes. Therefore dinner should be a lighter meal. Heavy foods like cheese, ice cream and met are best avoided at this meal.

It is better to eat earlier in the evening that later. The later you eat, the less food you should consume and the lighter the food should be.

If we have been living a life that is out of tune with nature’s laws, it is never too late to make healthy changes. A consultation with an Ayurvedic expert can pinpoint imbalances that have built up in the physiology, and provide specific recommendations for restoring a healthy balance. The traditional purification and detoxification treatments of Ayurveda, known as Panchakarma treatments, can remove accumulated imbalances and blockages from deep within the tissues.

For more information on Ayurveda, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Center:

www.theraj.com

Understanding Ojas

According to Ayurveda, Ojas is the finest material substance in the body—in fact it is as much consciousness as it is matter. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who founded the Transcendental Meditation technique and inspired the revival of Ayurveda in its comprehensive and integrated form, referred to Ojas as a “lamp at the door”—the junction point between consciousness and matter—lighting both inside and outside.

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Because Ojas links consciousness and matter, it serves to integrate the whole mind/body system when it is properly enlivened and maintained. It is Ojas that allows all the contradictory values of physiology and mental functioning to be bound together, acting like a cosmic glue. The more Ojas, the better your health, and the stronger your immunity, balance, and happiness.

Shrotas, Channels and the Gap

The traditional Ayurveda purification treatments, known as Panchakarma, help promote Ojas in the body. When Ojas is produced in the body, it provides a channel for consciousness to flow into matter.  Ojas is the finest physical value of biological intelligence. And that finest physical value needs to flow through the body through proper, unobstructed channels. These channels are known in Ayurveda as “shrotas.”

On the grossest level, the “shrotas” or channels can be seen as blood vessels, lymph circulation channels, capillaries, cellular pores, etc. But if we look more closely, we find that shrota represents the space through which intelligence flows—the gap that allows transformation from one value of matter into another. Shrotas, then, are gaps in the body.

Most people think of a gap as emptiness, a place where nothing exists. But according to Maharishi Ayurveda, all healing mechanisms operate in the gaps.

Musicians tell us that the rests, the silences between the notes, and also the upbeats, the spaces between the main beats, are where music’s life really comes from. “Take care of the gaps, the silences,” said a gifted soprano, “and everything else takes care of itself. The music flows forward naturally.”

It is the same with the creation of anything in the universe. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said the gap is the “lively nothingness” that allows the transformation of one state of matter to another. This includes the transformation of imbalance to balance.

Actually, the whole body can be viewed as nothing other than gap. One of the principle texts of Ayurveda, the Charaka Samhita, says, shroto mayo purushan, which means, “the whole physiology is nothing other than gap.” The entire body is a shrota for the flow of biological intelligence. The body is an innocent channel that reflects the beauty and wisdom of nature’s intelligence.

By purifying the shrotas, nature’s intelligence (physically manifested as Ojas) can flow freely throughout the body. This is why having regular Panchakarma treatments supports the prevention of disease. By keeping the channels of the body clear, Ojas—that lively intelligence that links consciousness and matter—finds no obstacle to its free flow and functioning.

This is the specialty of Panchakarma…linking oil massages with consciousness, heat treatments with the intelligence of nature.

For information on Panchakarma treatments, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Ayurveda Tips for a Healthy Baby — 4 Important Steps Before You Conceive

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Good parenting begins before a child is even conceived. Ayurveda offers knowledge to help parents enhance the health of their offspring before conception occurs.

Food and Digestion

Sex cells are produced long before intercourse. According to the Ayurvedic texts, it takes six weeks for the entire process of digestion and then the formation of the tissues to take place. Ayurveda outlines seven steps of the digestive process through which all the tissues of the body are formed. The last, the seventh step, is responsible for the formation of the reproductive tissue. All six prior steps need to be balanced and complete in order for the final step to be balanced and complete. For parents to provide balanced, healthy genetic material, attention needs to be paid both to the quality of their digestion and to quality of the food they eat. Ayurveda recommends fresh, organic, cooked foods during this time.

Purification

More and more studies are finding that toxic chemicals are abundant in pregnant mothers – and subsequently in their newborns. Therefore it is essential to detoxify your body before you decide to get pregnant. Prevalent chemicals in pregnant women include pesticides, flame retardants, phthalates (found in many plastics and artificial fragrances), pollution from car exhaust, PFCs used in non-stick cookware, and PCBs, toxic industrial chemicals that were banned in 1979 yet still persist in the environment.

Just recently testing has found high levels of glyphosate in the breast milk of American moms. Glyphosate-containing herbicides are the top-selling herbicides in the world and are sold under trademarks such as Monsanto’s ‘Roundup’. Monsanto’s sales of Roundup jumped 73 percent to $371 million in 2013 because of its increasing use on genetically engineered crops (GE Crops).

These toxicants pose a danger to the health and well being of the child. For example, BPA (an estrogen-like ingredient in plastic) was found in 96% of pregnant women. The Food and Drug Administration has expressed concern that BPA affects both the development of the brain and behavior in children exposed to these toxins both before and after birth.

In addition, many women in their 30’s and 40’s are having a difficult time conceiving because of low amounts of progesterone in their bodies. While this can be a natural result of perimenopause, this can also be due to presence of certain estrogen-mimicking environmental chemicals such as pesticides, plastics, and herbicides. When the body absorbs these, it gets tricked into thinking that estrogen levels are too high and compensates by lowering progesterone levels. Progesterone levels are very important for conception.

Ayurveda recommends undergoing traditional detoxification treatments, called Panchakarma, eight weeks prior to conception. These Ayurvedic purification treatments are available at Ayurveda Health Spas in the US and India. A published study in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Sept/Oct. 2002 showed that a five-day program of Panchakarma resulted in a 50% reduction of blood levels of fat-soluble toxins such as PCBs, DDT and dioxins. Currently modern medicine offers no means of removing these fat-soluble environmental chemicals from the body. The half-life of these chemicals in the human body is thought to be 7 to 11 years. (A half life is the time required for a given substance to fall to half its initial value.)

Once the impurities are removed from the tissues, the body is more able to respond to the dietary and behavioral changes of the parents-to-be.

Behavior

For six weeks following Ayurvedic detoxification treatments it is recommended to follow a pure, organic, vegetarian diet, to abstain from negative influences (like alcohol and cigarettes), to go to bed early, and to practice celibacy. This allows the sperm to become strengthened during the six-week period.

The ideal sequence of steps is to purify the body and then to nourish and build up the tissues. This is the ultimate step in prevention. The best approach to creating a strong, healthy baby is by strengthening the basic material that creates the child.

The Raj, Ayurveda Health Center in Fairfield, IA offers a special 8-week program for couples wanting to conceive a child. The program includes one week of in-residence treatments and individualized diet and life-style recommendations.

For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site:

www.theraj.com

Oil Up! Enjoying the Benefits of Ayurveda Oil Massage

One of our top recommendations to guests at The Raj as they head home is to continue with daily oil massage (abhyanga). The effects of daily Ayurveda oil massage (recommended before bathing in the morning) are multifold. Not only will a morning oil massage help pull toxins from the skin (the largest organ in the body and an important organ for the elimination of toxins), it also leaves a protective film that acts as a barrier between your skin and harmful environmental elements.

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While oil massage helps balance all doshas — especially when you use oil infused with herbs that specifically target Vata, Pitta or Kapha — it is especially good for balancing Vata. I know many people who never travel without a small container of sesame oil. After a long plane or car ride, there is nothing more grounding than an oil massage followed by a good soak in a hot bath. (Add in some Vata tea and aroma oil and you are well on your way to side-stepping the jangling effects of travel.)

But the beneficial effects of oil massage don’t stop there. Research also suggests that sesame oil (the oil most often used in abhyanaga) selectively stops malignant skin cancer cells from growing in laboratory tissue culture, and at the same time allows normal skin cells to proliferate.

According to the study, sesame and safflower oils selectively inhibited the grown of malignant melanoma cell cultures, but coconut, olive and mineral oils did not. The traditional Ayurveda texts specifically recommend sesame oil massage to promote health and longevity.

(One note of caution: sesame oil has a naturally heating property. Those with a Pitta body type or with Pitta imbalances may need to opt for another oil and may react to sesame oil with rashes or redness. If you are in this catagory, you will want to opt for a more cooling oil.)

Researchers have known for years that linoleic acid, an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid that is present in small quantities in the body, inhibits many kinds of cancer growth. But because pure linoleic acid is highly unstable and can irritate a person’s skin and eyes, it cannot be used or ingested safely. In the above mentioned research study, scientists used the whole vegetable oil, rather than trying to isolate the active ingredient, thus avoiding unnatural side effects.

Research also shows that oil massage is an important component in removing synthetic chemicals from our physiology. In the US there are thousands of these kind of chemicals used in various types of industry or agriculture. These toxins are present everywhere in our environment and can be found in virtually every living organism around the world. Regardless of our lifestyle, profession, eating habits, or geographic location, by the time we are 40 years old, our toxin level is substantial.

A study on clients participating in the traditional Ayurveda detoxification and purification treatments (Panchakarma) at The Raj showed that blood levels of these chemicals were reduced by 50% after a 5-day course of treatment. Because these harmful chemicals are fat-soluble, they are able to be “washed” from our fat cells by the deeply penetrating sesame oil (as well as by other components of the treatment program.)

Integrating a 10-minute sesame oil massage into your morning routine can have a significant impact on reducing Vata imbalances, purifying the skin and maintaining balance throughout the body.

To learn more about the research on removing fat-soluble toxins through the detoxification treatments of Ayurveda (Panchakarma), visit The Raj website:

www.theraj.com/rajresults/index.php

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Detox Tips for Spring

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Our bodies were not meant to be toxic dumps. Yet improper digestion, high levels of stress and pollutants such as chemicals in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods we eat, continuously create toxins in the body. If not flushed out on a regular basis, this toxic buildup can eventually manifest as disorders. And as we grow older, the body’s built-in mechanisms for eliminating impurities tend to be less efficient, thus stressing the need for periodic internal cleansing therapy.

THREE KINDS OF TOXINS

Ayurveda describes three kinds of toxins. The most common is “ama”, which is the sticky waste-product of poor digestion. Ama builds up in the digestive tract when your digestion is either weak or overloaded with the wrong foods.

If ama is allowed to build up over time, eventually it can leave the digestive tract and start circulating through the body. Once it settles in a specific area, the ama begins to mix with the subdoshas and or the dhatus (body tissues). When it mixes with these parts of the physiology, it becomes “amavisha” — a more reactive and toxic type of ama. This is the kind of ama that underlies many chronic disorders and diseases.

Ama can also block the channels of circulation in the body, preventing the unrestricted flow of nutrients to the cells and organs. Or it can clog the channels that carry waste from the cells and tissues, resulting in a toxic build-up.

The third type of toxin is the category of environmental toxins — or “garavisha”. Environmental toxins come from outside the body and include pesticides and chemical fertilizers that make their way into our foods or get carried by the wind, as well as preservative, additives and genetically engineered foods. These toxins have been associated with hormone disruption, immune system suppression, reproductive disorders, several types of cancer and other disorders such as allergies.

SPRING IS THE IDEAL TIME FOR CLEANSING

The reason many people feel the signs of ama build-up in spring more than at other time of year is because that is when toxins that have built up in the body over the winter start to display their symptoms. If you don’t follow the proper seasonal diet and routine during the first two months of winter (November and December), the toxins you accumulate that time get stuck or “frozen” in the walls of the channels because of the cold weather. By the time spring comes and the temperatures rise, the “frozen” ama starts to melt.  As it flows the channels of the body become flooded with toxins. Because of this yearly phenomena, Spring is the best time to detoxify. By necessity the body goes into a mode of eliminating toxins at this time of the year, so it is the perfect time to support the body in that role.

If you experience a heavy feeling in your body, if your joints are stiff, if your tongue is coated when you wake up in the morning, if you have an unpleasant body odor, if you feel dull and sleepy after eating, and/or if your mind is foggy, you may have a build-up of ama. Diarrhea, constipation, joint pain, sadness, dullness, lowered immunity, and frequent bouts of colds and flu are all health problems that can be caused by ama.

Amavisha and garavisha types of toxins are best handled by an Ayurvedic expert and through the classic Ayurveda purification and detoxification treatments, Panchakarma. There are, however, are a number of things you can do on an ongoing basis to prevent ama from building up in your body. –

TIPS FOR REDUCING AMA

The most important thing is to eat your main meal at noon, when the sun is strongest and the digestive fire reflects that strength. If you eat too much at night, or eat heavy foods such as meat or cheese then, the food will sit in your stomach and create ama. Eat light at night and your food will be easily digested before you go to sleep.

Don’t snack between meals unless you are actually hungry, Wait until the food is digested before eating a meal. If your digestion is already occupied with digesting and you add new food on top of that, the result is ama, the sour, undigested waste product of undigested food.

Going to sleep before 10 p.m. is essential, because then during the Pitta time of night (10 p.m.-2 a.m.) your digestion has a chance to cleanse and rejuvenate itself. If you stay up, you’ll probably feel hungry about midnight and will want to eat, which will tax the digestion and create ama.

Waking up before 6 a.m. is recommended, because if you sleep late into the Kapha time of the morning (6-10 a.m.), the channels of your body will become clogged with ama and you’ll feel dull and tired.

Daily exercise that is suitable for your body type will stimulate digestion and help cleanse the body of toxins.

It’s also important to manage your stress. Everyone can benefit from spending time each day practicing the Transcendental Meditation program to remove mental, emotional and physical stress.

Spring is the ideal time to visit an Ayurvedic expert to determine if you are dealing with ama, and, if so, what type of ama it is. An Ayurvedic expert can then recommend an individualized approach to clearing your system of impurities. For more information on consultations and on the detoxifying programs of Panchakarma, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website.

www.theraj.com

Spring Ayurveda Health Tips

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Ayurveda cautions us to be especially alert during seasonal transitions because the body functions differently in each season. This is especially true in the transition from winter to spring—from Vata season to Kapha season. Late winter marks the transition time from Vata to Kapha. The frigid temperatures of January and February are behind us, the days are lengthening, giving more time for the sun to warm the earth, and nature is beginning to wake up.

As the temperatures rise, melting snow and ice, our environment and our physiology shift into a different mode of functioning. Moving from “hibernation mode” during which our bodies tend to store fat and crave heavier, Vata-pacifying foods, the body now begins to melt accumulated fat. If we have accumulated ama during the earlier months of winter, these toxins start getting released into the body’s micro-channels. This flood of toxins can compromise our immunity, opening the door to colds and flues. This excess of ama can also create joint problems and lead to sinus problems, asthma, bronchial infections, allergies and hay fever.

In addition to the build-up of ama, as the cold, wet qualities of Kapha increase in our environment, they also increase in our body. Kapha is what our body is made out of — our bodily fluids and our muscles, fat and bone. The main seat of Kapha is located in the chest, but we also find Kapha in the throat, sinuses, nose, stomach, joints, plasma, and also in secretions of the body, like mucus. Mucus has its function in protecting important tissue in the body. But an excess of mucus can lead to colds and other disorders. Because childhood is the Kapha time of life, during this season children may be especially vulnerable to producing excess mucus and experiencing upper respiratory illnesses. You can see why spring in a traditional time for cleansing and detoxing. The body is already in a natural detox mode and often needs our support.

Tips for Kapha Season  Diet:

Generally try to favor Kapha-pacifying foods such as bitter greens, beans and dals, and fruits such as apples, pomegranates. Continue to eat warm foods, but opt for lighter foods such as soups. Switch to grains such as barely, quinoa, couscous and millet. Avoid cold drinks and food, processed foods, fried foods, and heavy foods such as red meat and dairy.

Spices:

Adding pungent spices to your food will help increase your agni, or digestive fire, and help eliminate mucus and phlegm. Enjoy black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, clove, and ginger. Try drinking ginger tea to help enliven your digestive fires. Also a glass of lukewarm water with ½ tsp of unheated honey first thing in the morning is a good combination. It not only helps warm the body but also digests all the toxins.

Exercise: One of the best ways to balance Kapha is to get exercise. Breaking a sweat by going for a brisk walk, run, or even using Swedna, or steam bath, can help relieve congestion and increase circulation. It’s important to choose the right exercise for your body type. If you have not been exercising regularly throughout the winter, start gently so as not to strain the physiology. Brisk daily walks and yoga postures are good for Vata types. More vigorous daily exercise is helpful for Kapha. Working up a sweat is during Kapha season, because it helps to boost agni, increase circulation and relieve congestion.

Sleep: Ideally, try to be in bed by 10:00 p.m so that you can wake up around 6:00 a.m. Try not to sleep into Kapha time (6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p,m.)

Oil Massage: Start the morning with an oil-massage followed by a warm bath. This will help to open the pores, and regulate your body’s internal thermostat. This is helpful in both Vata and Kapha season.

Panchakarma: This is also a great time for Panchakarma — the traditional purification treatments of Ayurveda. Panchakarma includes a full program of Ayurvedic massage, steam and heat treatments, and intestinal cleansing treatments, to rid your body of ama accumulated during the previous season. Panchakarma also helps to strengthen your agni, or digestive fire, in order to help prevent a build-up of ama in the future.

For more information on Panchakarma or consultations with an Ayurveda expert, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa

web site: www.theraj.com

Ayurveda: Bringing Healthy Babies into a Modern World

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Today I’m going to look at two crucial ways that Ayurveda can help to bring healthy children into the world. One involves improving fertility; the other involves promoting the healthy brain health of fetuses and babies.

Falling sperm count is a serious modern problem. Back in the 1990s, Danish researchers reported “a genuine decline in semen quality over the past 50 years”, with possible implications for male fertility.

Numerous studies have linked this phenomenon to BPA, a chemical found in many plastics used to make food containers, bottles and coatings in tin cans. It is also commonly used in thermal paper in cash register receipts. Researchers claim BPA can disrupt hormones, raising the risk of a wide number of health problems such as diabetes, obesity and cancer — and disrupted sperm production. A recent Washington State University study indicated that the chemical “disrupts the delicate DNA interactions needed to create sperm.” BPA also has the potential to harm infants and the fetus. The chemical has already been banned in baby bottles in Europe because of safety fears.

The second and equally disturbing concern is the high “body burden” of toxins carried by women of childbearing age: toxins that can harm the brain development of fetuses and babies.

While the commitment to organic food and natural materials is steadily increasing around the world, we are still faced with the legacy of industrialization: a level of toxic exposure that has serious implications for future generations. Studies have focused on the three pollutants (lead, mercury and PCBs) because they are especially pervasive and persistent in the environment. Scientists identified specific risk factors to fetal and infant brain development for children of women with higher blood levels of these chemicals.

And studies show that as women grow older, the blood levels of chemical toxins increase exponentially. Women aged 30 – 39 had a 12 times greater risk and women aged 40 to 49 had a risk 30 times great than women aged 16 – 19.

The reason that risk increases with age is because the toxins accumulate in body over time. PCBs and BPA are fat-soluble chemicals. They bind to the fatty lipid layer that surrounds every cell in the body. This is where the ancient detoxification treatments of Ayurveda provide unique benefits.

In a study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine in its September/October 2002 issue have shown that Maharishi Ayurveda Panchakarma therapy offered at The Raj, Ayurveda Health Spa greatly reduces the levels of 14 important ˜lipophilic’ (i.e. fat-soluble) toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in the body, which would otherwise remain in the body for a very long time. Studies founded by the National Institute of Health and conducted by Maharishi University have shown that person’s receiving Panchakarma treatments had a 70% reduction of heavy metals, pesticides and other hazardous chemicals than the general population.

These are the only treatments that have been proven to reduce the levels of fat-soluble toxins in the body.

For both women and men considering parenthood, a serious commitment to reducing the levels of toxins would be considered at least three months before trying to conceive a child.

The Raj offers a pre-conception and infirtility program that includes individualized treatments, diet, life-style recommendations and herbal preparations. For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com