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The Sensual Art of Eating with the Hands

For thousands of years, people across South Asia and the Middle East have eaten with their hands, and not utensils. Even today, the practice has become very common – and to the casual onlooker, it may seem somewhat strange!

However, first of all, we have to understand that eating itself, as also cooking, is somewhat a sensual art, deriving from our creative powers and stimulating our digestions. We now know about the enteric nervous system of “brain/gut” axis, that systems such as Ayurveda have known about since time immemorial.

Touch (sparsha) is, in itself, a sensual and necessary comfort for humans, via love, embrace etc.  Thus also, these “street foods” apart from the Italian pasta fork!

Take for example, every brain impulse, the effects on neurotransmitters; when people ‘tuck in’ to the kebab, to the fried chicken and eat with their hands, the brain is fully stimulated to relish the full taste, unobstructed by the (cold, inorganic) aids to deliver such to the mouth. Half of the subconscious “stress” of eating is aside, due to etiquette being waved. The nerves of the fingers also may touch the lips – such stimuli humans, as sensory organisms, crave!

In India, however, it is the right-hand only used for eating; the left, used for ablutions, is considered ashuddhi or impure/unclean. This has to do also with the right-hand representing the sun, fire and pingala nadi in yoga (thus, better for improving digestion), thus higher and more subtle and masculine. The left hand is considered lunar, watery and feminine, as the ida nadi in yoga runs through it and is hence more dense and earthy – thus relates to wastes (malas), considered of these more watery and earthy elements. Touch is hence more perceptible subtly on the right and is pure (sattwika/shuddhi). The left is akin to leftovers (ucchishtha), relating to the Goddess and impure. Yet, in higher yogic circles, the path of the goddess, especially the taboo, is hence known as Vamamarga or the left-hand path.

Touch itself is related to the element of air or oxygen (vata, vayu), which is connected to the skin, in Ayurveda. Vayu/vata is itself responsible for life in the body as a biological constituent (dhatu) in the body providing movement (gati) of the blood, respiratory system etc. Without it, the heart wouldn’t beat, the brain wouldn’t think and we are but a lifeless corpse! Touch/vayu also relates to the highest form of prana or the breath of life, connected to the soul. Thus, the connection between inner peace, calm and our own soul (Ayurveda tells us we should eat in a quiet, calm place for such a purpose).

The science of eating with the hands also goes deeper. When we eat, the index finger and thumbs are connected, forming the jnana-mudra, the symbol of wisdom via subtle pressure points via nadis or subtle channels across the body, also in the hands. This stimulates our intellect, and also has a reaction on our digestive system and is said to awaken the digestive fire, assisting with metabolising our foods.

Connecting the middle-finger and ring-finger to the thumb, as we do when eating, activates a form of the apanavayu-mudra, a hand symbol where the index-finger is tucked in (similar to apana-mudra where the small and index fingers remain erect), and assists with elimination of wastes in the body (by apanavayu, which takes them out and down, from the body), provides good colonic health in such a manner, etc. When eating with the hands, food is actually being stimulated in such a manner via this.

In the ancient system of palmistry, apart from planets, the system of mudras or hand gestures tells is that the thumb is itself the principle of agni or fire, relating to metabolism at all levels – from digestive metabolism, to that of the bodily tissues. Stimulating it – as we do when eating (as the thumb is required) activates this by pressing on the thumb. It is also believed that such energies are imparted to the food via this also, giving it an “energised” aspect. Of the fingers, the little finger represents water, ring finger represents earth, whilst the middle and index fingers represent ether and air, respectively.

In this way, all of the three biological humors in the body, the doshas, are combined via these combinations. Food may also taste more delicious, since all of the five elements are imbibed it it, at the subtle level of the tanmatras or base atomic levels, viz. ether (sound), air (touch), fire (sight), water (taste) and earth (smell).

Here, we can see that combining the fingers to eat, also sends heightened messages to our brain’s neurotransmitters via the nerves and nadis, the subtle channel systems – and helps us to better appreciate food from a “warm” than a “cold” aspect as we would via utensils. In this way, we relish foods by having a better perception, a more intimate connection via the sounds it makes when we eat it, the touch and texture of it which we perceive via our fingers, as also the warmth, which provides our minds with more nourishment – as well as relishing in the sight of foods, the taste and finally, the smell.

In this manner, the five elements are perceived via eating with the hands as a kind of “meditation”. For this reason since ancient times to the present day – many Indians, of all castes and classes, regions and beliefs share a common goal of eating with the hands – an ancient sensual art, for these reasons!

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Jala Rahasya: The Secret of Water in Ayurveda

“May waters filled with medicinal properties protect my body, so I may have the vision of the Sun!”
-Rig Veda, IX.9.7 (Author’s translation)

According to Ayurveda, the properties of water vary. Different types of water are thus useful for different people, disorders and times.

Unboiled water is said to take 3 hours to digest, boiled and cooled water 1.5 hours to digest and boiled water taken warm takes 48 minutes to digest according to the principles laid out in Ayurveda.

Drinking too much and over-hydrating suppresses the digestive fire and enzymes and hence can lead to disease. Especially drinking cold water can lead to various complications such as hiccups, gas, pains etc. and is thus also contraindicated in such cases (vata-rogas and kapha-rogas).

Warm and hot water helps alleviate these symptoms, especially when taken at night-time as it helps reduce the cooler properties of vata and kapha respectively.

The below isn’t at all a rigid nor exhaustive system, but one merely based on properties and generics alone, relative to jalapana (intake of water).

Note these seasons are based on the western four-season model outside of India, since India has a unique six seasons:

Vata Prakriti / old age / late autumn and early winter:

Warm water baths and warm water taken internally and warm milk with spices (ginger, cardamon etc.). For dryness, warm water taken with a little ghee is useful or castor oil with ginger at bed-time for constipation. Waters from the jungle-regions is better as it is agni-dipana or stimulating to the digestion, as well as water that has been reduced by 75% while boiling, which is good for vata.

Pitta Prakriti / middle-aged / summer, early autumn and men:

Luke-warm and cooler water baths and cool water, milk or coconut milk taken internally or aloe juices. Water that has been reduced by 50% by boiling is suitable for pitta as well.

Kapha Prakriti / young age / late winter, spring and women:

Warm to hot water baths and warm/hot water taken internally as well as honey (except when there are menorrhagia and pitta disorders / artavavahasrota rogas). Jungle-water can be taken as well for kapha. Spiced water can be taken here such as with pippali, dry ginger or trikatu formula to stimulate digestion and alleviate accumulation of phlegm. Water that has been boiled and reduced by 25% is suitable for kapha-types and disorders.

In addition:

Cold water on the face is useful for all types (except kapha) as also is not using excess hot /warm water on the head (especially vata and pitta types) as this causes excess sadhaka-pitta leading to premature balding, dry scalp, grey hairs etc.

*Geographical climates to be considered

*Women should alternate these according to hormonal changes and cycles also.

*Where there is ama or fevers, this also needs to be tweaked accordingly.

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Ritucharya (Seasonal Routines):

[EXCERPT from Up-coming book “Ayurvedic Wellness Tips”]

© Durgadas (Rodney) Lingham/Arogya Ayurvedic Health Ltd.

All Rights Reserved.

No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form, without direct permission from the author. Quotes may be used in research works, providing proper citations and references are given.

Ayurveda considers the effects of seasons on our lives, due to their constant changes due to exogenous effects, that can affect our daily metabolic functions, both physically and mentally.

We have discussed in the beginning, how Ayurveda correlates various times of the day and correlates them with the doshas and their aggravation. Likewise, as a part of the Ayurvedic circadian clock, Ayurveda also looks at various effects relative to seasons (ritu), which we will now discuss here, as an important topic, relative to the scope of this book.

As a part of its preventative medicine scince, Ayurveda thus looks at the effects of these seasons and the changes they have relaive to affecting us, as individuals.

According to the traditional six-season model in India, vata accumulates in the summer-time and aggravates in the early rainy-season; pitta accumulates in the rainy or monsoon season and aggravates in the autumn and kapha accumulates in pre-winter and aggravates in the spring.

Here, the six seasons are:

Vasanta
or Spring
Grishma or Summer
Varshaor Monsoon season
Sharada or Early autumn
Hemanta or Late autumn
Shishira or Winter

Today there are many that claim to use the classical six-season system of the classics of Ayurveda (introducing shishira or late-winter / cold season and varsha or rainy / monsoon season) and apply them to western and other environments. Yet, the reality is that that we cannot use the six-season model of Ayurveda as in India, as we don’t have six seasons! Moreover, the seasons also differ in the Northern and Southern hemisphere! In Australasia for example, we celebrate Christmas in the summer-time, not in the cool winter as in the Northern Hemisphere and hence the same regimens and times cannot be superimposed. India is also a tropical nation, whereas others are not and change accordingly.

Moreover, these differ as per nation as per specific climates and cycles also, especially in relation to the North and South pole, which Ayurveda understands well with desha (land or region)etc. which all of this also comes into.

The climates across the US alone can change quite dramatically, especially the South closer to the equator and the North which is closer to the North Pole! This reveals that different models are here required as seasons have different properties even in the North American continent, let alone between continents themselves and localised variations of weather patterns. Land-locked regions of the south are also different in the desert to those bordering coastlines etc.

Even ecologists today employ four-seasonal systems in temperate and sub-polar regions, but employ a six-season system for more temperate or tropical regions. Kerala for example has to be treated as a kind of “rainy season / monsoon” (varsha season) climate due to having the highest rainfall of India. Hence, such issues need to be addressed relative to these sciences, as such again doesn’t apply to the rest of the world – just as the consumption of turkey, chilies, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, avocados etc. native to the Americas[1] is suitable for those habitually used to other foodstuffs in their diets for thousands of years (as Europeans) – whereas such are anti-doted with spices to aid in their digestions in the orient where they were introduced through trade in the past 400 years[2] – what is known as satmya or suitability in Ayurveda, as per cultural and social norms in dietary, lifestyle and other habits that are not always the same. Not all nations eat curries or spiced foods as India does for example and thus may not be able to handle the hotter, more pungent spices (such as Indian long pepper, ginger and garlic) traditionally used in South Asia.

Here we must remember that regions nearer the equator will have different kinds of seasonal effects to those nearer the poles, especially relative to summer and winter. India as a more tropical climate has its system centered more upon this system which differs from many other nations here and thus such properties must be assessed in a more unique manner – just as one should differentiate between predominating doshic factors in a patient, as also their vayas (age) in which doshic predominating factors are high, as also relative to their ethnicity also, as such variations exist. Smaller eyes for example are not always a sign of a vata person, just as a larger nose is not a sign of a kapha person when it comes to race. India possesses various racial types from Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Australoid and Negrito. We have to allow for differences here, just as we do for seasonal changes and changes in climatic factors and properties relative to them.

As such, the following four-season model is adapted to the west and such relative to Ayurveda. We must remember that Ayurveda considered such things as desha (location) and the effects of such regional changes, relative to how it assessed various things and gave such various properties accordingly. We know these by our own regions, once we have understood the gunas or properties of these.


[1] As per Ayurveda, these foods wouldn’t necessarily cause issues to people habitually suited to them, but may for others newly adopting them. Ayurveda often,as Indian cooking, uses spices to “anti-dote” these toxic effects of new foods and those we are unaccustomed to. 

Here, Charaka Samhita, Chikitsasthana, XXX.321-325 gives examples of, just as how the diets of Chinese, Europeans etc. doesn’t affect them, though sometimes contrary to disease, so sometimes like qualities of the doshas can alleviate them, as pitta deep within the tissues can be brought out by heat as in poultices or hot application and that excreta from a fly, though causing vomiting sensations, can also cure it (things which are normally contrary, but in certain cases help the disorder)!

[2] There is evidence to support the use of potatoes, chillies, maize, pumpkins etc. in India and Indian cooking in the pre-Columbian period.  Maize is seen on Hoysala and other sculptures in earlier times, as as early as 100AD (Sorenson, John L & Johannessen,  Carl  L: Scientific Evidence for Pre-Columbian Voyages Sino-Platinoc Papers,  Dept. of  East Asian Languages and Civilisations,  University of Pennsylvania, April 2004.).        Amaranth has also been culyivated since Indus-Valley times (source: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/indus-valley-non-vegetarian-national-museum-6278349/).

Here, we know that India-America relations were possible in the earlier centuries AD, as also as early as the Ramayana and the Chola etc. Empires. Thus, it’s possible we used chilies much earlier!

According to the Asian Scientist magazine (June 1, 2018), sweet potatoes have have first been cultivated in India itself, and not the Americas as history tells us., due to fossils of leaves around 57 million years ago (Source: https://www.asianscientist.com/2018/06/in-the-lab/fossil-sweet-potatoes-asia-india/ ).


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India’s Curry Influence

Today we see many curries across the globe, from the Indonesian and Thai to the classic India, as well as other influences. Many ask how this came to be?

Curries originated in the Indus Valley civilisation, which began as early as 7,000BCE in Northern India, however, many spices came from India to the West, notably cinnamon, cardamom, pepper and condiments such as sugar. Aubergines and cucumbers were also natives to India.

Across SE Asia, from the Khmer people of Cambodia, to the people of Thailand, was a great influence from Hindu and Buddhist India – including why such people use adaptations of the ancient Indian (Brahmi) scripts, via Southern India, where Buddhist and Hindu Monks, as also kings spread their influence of these religions to Japan to SE Asia. Ancient universities at Nalanda (northern India) and Takshashila (ancient Gandhara) attracted students from Greece, Rome as well as the Arab world to Japan, SE Asia and beyond to learn Indian sciences such as Ayurveda (medicine – out surgery came from India, transmitted west by Arabs), mathematics (out decimal system, zero and numerals came from India, as also algebra, trigonometry etc.), Astronomy, Politics etc.

With the height of southern empires as the Chola Dynasty came more influence in the Austronesian world; Austronesians include the Malays, Indonesians, Filipinos, Vietnamese as well as Polynesians (Hawaiians, Maori etc.). These people originated from Taiwan and then to the Northern Philippines, where they dispersed. From early times, the influence of India, including culinary was strong – the use of banana leaves, South-Indian inspired cocnut-based curries with tamarind and black pepper (before tomatoes and chillies were introduced) and various preparations became the norm in these areas, as we see today.

The South Indian influences of various breads (parottas etc.) have worked their way into Malay cuisine, such as Roti Cenai etc., as well as numerous other dishes. In Thailand, red, green and yellow curries with their galangal and ginger, tamarind and coconut milk and creams are strong with south Indian influence to this day, as also their use of Sanskrit (Hindu) place names, names of their Kings, art, dress, writing and architecture, as across the Khmer and Austronesian world also.

In the ancient Indus-Valley culture around 3,000BCE, Indians consumed curries with garlic, ginger, turmeric and other spices and condiments. Aubergines, chickens and others were eaten, and the existence of tandoor ovens for making breads and the classical “tandoori-chicken” are thus the same today in northern India as they were some 5,000 years ago! Not much here has changed, nor in SE Asia.

The genius Piper longum or Indian Long Pepper (Pippali) is the hotter of peppers, originally used to give curries their pungent flavours and fiery tastes, prior to chillies. By contrast, Piper nigrum or Indian Black Pepper (Maricha) was imported by the Romans from India, who, it seems, confused the names (Piper from Pippali – Indian Long Pepper, as opposed to Black Pepper).

India’s influence in areas more traditional still stands, especially in Bali in Indonesia. The influence of Japan also, via Buddhism, martial arts and the Siddha script (derived via Devanagari), as also on China and SE Asia via Indian Vegetarianism has shaped many countries to this day. Here, it has influenced the numerous vegetarian options such as tofu and soy-based faux meats in curries and other dishes across China.

Likewise, India also received various “Manchurian” dishes via trade and influences with Chinese sailors, traders and monks visiting, as Indo-Chinese, blending both worlds.

From 600BCE onwards, Indian universities were homes to various cuisines. Nalanda around 500AD – 1200AD boasted over 10,000 students at a time from, as noted, as vast of Greece, Rome, Egypt to Persia, Central Asia and the Arab world to as east as Japan, and across SE Asia from Thailand to Indonesia, Malaysia etc. This is also how much came to cross-over.

Even the pilaf, which also spurned the Paella and other dishes, originated in the Indian world from the dish of Pilau, which was first seen the Indo-Bactrian and Sindhi world by Alexander the Great and his people, which was taken back to Europe. This rice-dish is mentioned in many Indian classics as well as other literatures.

Thus, let us savour some ancient Indian tastes and contemplate the variations of curries originating in India across the Asiatic world when we next sit down, or chow down on our Thai green curries!


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The Importance of Ojas – Vitality

Ojas or vitality is a key concept in the ancient system of Ayurveda. Ojas is said to be our basic immunity, or immune system and vitality, described as a kind of “sap” in the body.

The ancient author, Charaka (1500BCE) noted (from earlier texts of his mentor, Sri Agnivesh), that ojas is either red (rakta – blood), white or yellowish in the body, and is in the heart. It is responsible for the vitiation or emaciation (kshaya) of the body and impairment of mental and sensory faculties. It is said to have the colour of ghee (clarified butter) and taste of honey (Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana, XVII.73-75).

Ancient Ayurvedic texts also mention a disorder known as ojakshaya, in which the body starts to shut down, as a result of impairment to the immune-system, causing emaciation of all of the dhatus or bodily tissues, viz. plasma, marrow, blood, adipose, muscle, bone and the reproductive system. This disease is quite different from that of arbuda (cancers, malignant tumours) noted in the body, and appears to be not dissimilar to modern diseases we known, such as AIDS.

Overactive or hyperactive immune systems with inflammations etc. are described as pitta and ama (bile, and toxins) entering into the immune system (ojas), corrupting it and causing these flare-ups. Bile in the body in excess, caused by excess salt-intake, sour foods, alcohol etc. and pungent spices aggravates the small intestine and liver, causing an excess of bile, fevers etc., eventually leading to impairing the immune system. Imagine burning oil beyond its temperature threshold!

Ayurveda thus looked at preserving vitality or ojas in the body. There were many herbs, formulas and substances for this:


  1. The Formula Chyavanaprasha, which contains Amalaki (Elblica officinalis), the “Indian gooseberry”. Rich in Vit. C, this fruit is taken and prepared into this tasty, sweet paste with numerous other herbs. Amlaki is also useful relative to boosting collagen. This formula itself is named after the aged Seer, Chyavana, whose youth is said to have been restored by it, including his weathered skin, to new.

    Amla is also one of the three fruits in the recipe Triphala for eyes, skin and digestive health, and in itself, also helps to promote eyesight and hair.

    Hundreds of rasayanas or rejuvenation pastes or confections exist in Ayurveda for various purposes, including Brahma Rasayana, which contains more Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), than Amla. It is a rejuvenate herb in its own right, also, promoting ojas.

  2. Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia). One of the most immune-boosting herbs in Ayurveda, it is anti-pyretic, and also useful in cases such as HIV and Cancer to boost immunity of patients.

  3. Hira Bhasma (Diamond Ash) and Swarna Bhasma (Gold Ash). These might seem quite strange concoctions, however, the process of these goes back to the ancient iatrochemical system of rasa-shastra or alchemy in India. Parada or Mercury is also used, such as in the formula Makardhwaja, which is extremely useful for booting immunity, or ojas. These exotic, and expensive formulas are taken in extremely tiny dosages, under strict supervision of practitioners trained in their specific administration, along with specific diets for disorders from cancer, or debility or Parkinsonism.

  4. Shilajit / Mineral Pitch. The term “bitumen” originates originally from the Sanskrit “jatu”, meaning pitch. It was used as early as 3,000BCE in India to seal baths, sewers and drainpipes against leakage in the Indus-Saraswati civilisation (which also boasted sit-down toilets, separate bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms etc!). Shilajit comes from rocks in the Himalayas and is a great rejuvenate for the skin and hairs. It is also a rejuvenate for the uro-genital system, especially against diabetes (of which, Ayurveda recognises 20 different types – as also Type1 and Type2 for the first time).



    Other forms of dietary aids included the yogic-diet, consisting of wholegrains and also dairy, such as milks infused with cardamom, cloves etc. and sweetened, as well as nuts and fruits, said to help boost immunity.

    We can thus see the importance of boosting immunity in the body, especially against modern pandemics, and also general viruses and seasonal changes alone, that can disturb the natural rhythms in our bodies.

    Simple things such as taking in garlic cloves daily, can also assist with immunity, especially disorders such as fibromyalgia. Garlic cloves boiled in milk,. with a little sugar added, can also help keep disorders at bay and boost immunity on a daily basis!


    References:

    -Charaka Samhita
    -Sushruta Samhita
    -Ashtanga Hridayam
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Taking Care of Yourself Amidst COVID-19

PLEASE NOTE: THIS ARTICLE IS PURELY FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT SEEK TO TREAT, CURE OR PRESCRIBE, OR ACT AS AN ALTERNATIVE FOR ANY CONDITIONS, ESPECIALLY NOT COVID-19. ONE SHOULD ALWAYS SEEK PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE FROM THEIR HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS SURROUNDING THE COVID-19 VIRUS AND COMPLICATIONS ARISING FROM SUCH.

THIS ARTICLE MERELY ADDRESSES SUCH BASED ON TRADITIONAL AYURVEDIC PRACTICES ALONE, AND AS NOTED, IS PURELY FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.

Amidst the latest scare and also hysteria that has ensued, we must remember some things to keep us reasonably calm and level-headed, so as not to “freak out” and cause more issues for ourselves – and also others!

Anxiety:

It’s normal to be anxious, as a natural human response to any major calamity or epidemic. However, we mustn’t get too hysterical and remain calm as much as we can by stopping our minds and thinking rationally.

In certain situations, the best we can do is to remain careful about things, and take precautions, but remember the situation is such that it is out of our control, and we must develop a certain level of faith, either personally (philosophically) or in our world leaders to put steps in place to help us go forward and keep safe. Keep this in mind!

Secondly, food will not run out. There is no need to usher in Armageddon by impulse and stress-buying. Supermarkets have measures in place for deliveries and such, if need be, and the supply chains and factories remain open. Supermarket staff, merchandisers and reps of groceries and produce are currently in demand themselves and are working around the clock to keep the supply chains open. Yes, by all means “stock up”, but don’t become too hysterical due to the social anxiety out there and take every day as it comes; don’t become a doomsday prophet!

Whilst the news and advertising media can be useful, it is also naturally hyperbolic in nature and tends to cause more stress and anxiety, especially surrounding epidemics such as COVID-19. Look at how we, as humans, compare ourselves to the stereotypes on Television soap-operas and also advertisements relative to lifestyle, relationships, body-images etc. and also buy into consumerism as a result of such manipulation, for example. Now apply that to the current situation regarding the Coronavirus!

Simple herbs as Brahmi (Barcopa monnieri), Valerian and others can help with anxiety and also help us to reason things better – even the causes of our own anxiety. Ancient yogis used to drink a beverage of Brahmi leaves made into a tea, for enhancing mental faculties, especially discernment and reason – often in periods of social and political strife in ancient India, so as to better deal with these situations by looking at the whole.

The mindfulness method of STOP method also helps:

Stop and simply take a breather. Stop the mind for a second!

Take a few breaths. Here, slow, yogic breathing helps as well.

Observe any thoughts that come to mind and associated emotional responses. In yogic, this goes deeper with manasika-vichara or mental-questioning and origins of thoughts.

Proceed
 in another direction. Stop looking at or associating with triggers of our anxiety, especially the virus and do something more conducive, such as yoga, meditation, a walk or applying some of the techniques Ayurveda recommends to stay healthy. Be around positive people and recognise change – not hysteria!

DO NOT PANIC! Humanity has historically been a very resilient species and we’re still here, despite numerous world wars, plagues and other epidemics as the swine flu, SARS etc. and we’re still here!

Keeping Healthy:

The ancient system of Ayurveda tells us that two things cause diseases, primarily; low ojasa (immunity) and impaired agni (metabolism). When both are compromised, then disease manifests.

Ayurveda isn’t simply about a few simple herbs in villages, either. It has one of the world’s most ancient and advanced system of microbiology and surgery – from where many of our current techniques arose! Classical texts mention that wise-spread plagues and epidemics were primarily the result of corruption in society; visha-vayu (toxic air) here also referred to numerous airborne viruses and bacteria that was easily spread via air and also touch (sparsha – connected to the subtle element of air or vayu). Thus, if there is toxic air in society, viruses will spread via touch also, as with COVID-19, such as the ancients understood.

Cleanliness and good personal hygiene related to sparsha (touch, or air) is hence important. Many plagues broke out in Europe as a result of bad personal hygiene also – especially cleaning of the skin – and hands.

Indian culture has always advocated cleaning of the hands before and after meals to help prevent these issues.

Aloe-vera gel, neem powder and alcohol can make a good”home-made” sanitizer. Indian culture also believes that cow’s urine and dung also possesses these qualities, as well. I am neither stating one should be using these, or not relative to COVID-19 – I am simply stating what our ancestors have said!

Some basic tips, however:

1. Immunity Boost: Chyavanaprasha, the main ingredient which is the anti-oxidant and immunity-boosting Amalaki (Indian gooseberry), high in Vit. C has been used for both low immunity (ojasa) and also respiratory conditions for millennia.  This can be taken daily to help prevent issues relative to COVID-19. Again, whether or not it is 100% effective remains to be seen – but there it won’t do any harm and can, according to the classics, help develop immunity with many disorders and help with classic respiratory disorders as well.

The classic “Golden Milk” with turmeric and milk, as well as spices as cardamom and ginger is also said to be good for vitality.

Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) is also useful as it helps boost our immunity, as also does Sheelajit, the ancient mineral pitch.

2. Metabolism: Boosting our metabolism means metabolism of all tissues in the body also, and proper enzymic function. The classic formula Trikatu (Indian long pepper, Black pepper and Ginger powder) is a classic for sluggish digestion – and also lung congestion and related issues, as also is Holy Basil or Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum).

These help prevent disorders of the lungs and respiratory system. Ayurveda has a long-standing history of treating severe forms of TB (rajayakshma) as also pneumonia (swasanaka-jwara) by helping the lungs, as also with alchemical formulas.

To boost metabolism at home – a simple drink of warm lemon juice, ginger powder and black pepper powder can help. This also helps to dispel kapha or mucous which develops in the stomach and lungs and causes issues.

Viruses are seen as tamasika (darker and stagnant) in nature and hence need some rajas (agitation, movement or aggression) to be dealt with, returning to a state of ultimate health, or sattvas. Such spicier herbs combined with those that protect the lungs, immune system and help treat pneumonia are useful.

3. Oral Hygiene: Ayurveda tells us that we should always crape our tongue with a tongue-scraper and brush our teeth on a daily basis, as also chew mixtures of cardamom for fresh breath, and rub our gums with powders of cinnamon, clove, cardamom, rock-salt or triphala powders to keep gums healthy. These formulas, as also triphala also help with any bacteria and reduce excess bleeding and mucous; scraping the tongue also does this and improves metabolism.

As per the current climate, these are very minor measures but could be conducive towards helping with viruses as COVID-19, especially with sufferers and their compromised respiratory systems, so as they do not become too vulnerable to abcterial infections that complicate the virus they suffer from already.

These methods are simply all about trying to be healthy, and again, are not a replacement for professional advice or treatment, but simply what Ayurveda has recommended for thousands of years, as also methods of “preventative medicine”, Ayurveda is also known for – just as authorities are telling us relative to keeping hands clean, using hand sanitizer, wearing gloves and isolating ourselves at present.


Namah Shivaya!

-Durgadas


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Why Ayurveda – Nature’s Healing System?

Why should I try Ayurveda?

  1. Ayurveda is the world’s oldest natural-healing system – time-tested across India, China, Korea, Japan, SE-Asia and also influencing founders of western medical systems as Hippocrates and later Arab physicians taking this science into Europe in the Middle-Ages, with the revival of surgery and humoric medicine
  2. It promotes models of biological sustainability through working with circadian rhythms as per our phenotypes (unique biologies)
  3. It sources 100% natural and organic cures from the earth which are compatible with the human body (a product of nature, not a synthetic structure)
  4. Ayurveda assesses our unique changes for optimum health, based on our own unique suitabilities (genetic, cultural and biological), rather than a ‘fad’ or ‘cookie-cutter’ dietary or yoga regime
  5. Many from Hollywood Celebrities, movements such as TM (Transcendental Medication), Deepak Chopra to Prince Charles and Camilla promote Ayurveda (the English Royal family still themselves, use homoepathic doctors, whose roots in European herbalism derive from Ayurveda)

Do I need to believe in anything to practice Ayurveda? Can I be vegan?

A: Ayurveda is based on a system that caters for all types of people and varied tastes, as per the ancient diverse dietary habits of religious and cultural preferences across Asia – ranging from meat-eaters, to lacto-vegetarians, lactose-intolerant individuals and even those who avoided root-vegetables, as well as communities such as Jews and Muslims with specific dietary (halaal and kosher) requirements.

Based on various factors such as one’s own unique biological makeup and psychology, Ayurveda then assesses the disease patterns and manifestation of the individual (if applicable) and recommends an integral dietary and lifestyle approach based upon this.

As an example, the ancient vegetarian, non-alcoholic Jainas of India, whilst mainly lacto-vegetarians unlike modern vegans – many did avoid dairy from farmers who ill-treated their cattle, and like modern vegans, also avoided honey – in addition to even more strict regimes such as fungus (as mushrooms), yeasts as well as root-vegetables, as Brahmins (priestly families) in India avoided the use of onions, garlic, alcohol etc.

Yet, it also understood and respected some regions consumed higher quantities of dairy (in the north), fish (in the east) and meats (in the Himalayas) and provided appropriated dishes and spicing in accordance with these variations, as also when treating those with religious dietary restrictions/prohibitions.

In fact, in ancient times, Indian physicians were invited to Persia, Greece, Rome and later Baghdad in the Arab world, where they were respected and honoured as teachers to people of various faiths – Jewish, Muslim and Christian. Ayurveda itself has been practiced by numerous denominations of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, atheists and others for thousands of years.

One is free to stick to their dietary and religio-cultural habits and personal beliefs, making some adjustments within these to avoid/include foods that can assist in proper health for the individual, based upon the in-depth energetics of foodstuffs – including, herbs, herbal preparations etc. and how/when these are consumed, as also with what combinations.

Yoga also isn’t just about difficult poses, but forms a major part of Ayurvedic Psychology, assessing levels of the mind, breathing practices, sound and aroma therapies that affect the mind-body complex; here, yoga can be said as the study of, and also the practice of (by way of visualisations, sound and breathing techniques, as also certain stretches [where required] ) psycho-somatics – something little understood in western approaches in the modern-day.

Carl Jung was also among noted psycho-analysts that noted Ayurveda and Yoga’s ability to understand the mind and psychosomatics to a deeper level than western medical science.

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ayurveda Uncategorized wellbeing

SPRING NEWS AND UPDATES

2019 Spring News and Updates

Spring is in the air again, with kapha (phlegm) being aggravated and starting to liquefy with the warmer weather, and the time of allergies.

For allergies, place a little ghee (clarified butter) in the nostrils after cleansing sinuses with a neti pot in the morning (add a little warm water with a pinch of salt, ginger powder and cinnamon, with a drop or two of sesame oil). Otherwise, you can use Anu Taila, which you can purchase from us.

We need to continue our spices and herbs for the winter regimens, and also continue with those ginger drinks during this period.

Some yoga practices can also help
(these are listed further on, below).


Ayurvedic Health Tips for Spring:

  • Eat more dehydrated and dried fruits and nuts and avoid excessive intake of fresh fruit – especially in the mornings and evenings when kapha is high in our bodies
  • Use mustard oil and spices for cooking, but avoid deep-fried and fried foods
  • Wear reds, as this colour helps stimulate the mind and also heats the body, which is useful in Spring
  • Go for Spas and Saunas, as these are heating and help liquefy kapha (phlegm) build-up during this season
  • Excessive use of meats, dairy foods and seafood should also be avoided, due to kapha aggravation during Spring.
  • Drink spiced teas and beverages, such as ginger and (old) honey with warm water and a little black pepper to clear the doshas

Yoga for Spring:

Perform Kapalabhati Pranayama, which is where we ‘pump’ the stomach and force our out rapidly. This helps dispel phlegm from sinuses.

Right-nostril breathing performed faster, also helps. This helps heap the mind and body and dispel tamas or darkness and lethargy in our minds and bodies; it helps invigorate us again.

Perform heating asanas or postures such as the staff-pose (dandasana), lion-pose (simhasana) and backward bends.

Use fiery meditations to the sun, red hues, deities such as Bhairava, Murugan (Mars/St. Michael), a candle, and also mantras such as Huṃ.

Featured Article:

Ayurvedic Massages – Good or Bad?

Posted by AROGYAYURVEDAonAPRIL 26, 2019EDIT

Ayurveda has long considered the uses of massage, often as a daily palliative treatment, but performed with specific oils after a complete Ayurvedic examination by a trained professional to examine all facets of psychology, disorders, constitutional issues and others. Here, panaceas are often not the best, nor Ayurvedic per se!

Many forms of Ayurvedic massage today can actually be harmful as they can cause unwanted toxins in the body if performed outside of their required actions and techniques, which are specific cleansing actions or shodhana (purificatory) therapies; here, massages are often performed – again with specific oils, decoctions and substances – as preliminary methods (purvakarmas) to relocate toxins in the body and expel them, but in a clinical setting along with specific diets, formulas and lifestyle regimes as well. Such advanced and often aggressive methods are not to be performed for one and all, or outside specifically tailored detoxification programs, based on an individual’s disease category, age and other factors! This requires a full training in clinical Ayurveda from the classical point of view.

Other therapies are given as part of the Spa Ayurveda regimes today, which are just as bad, as such don’t target the true problems. Each disease requires specific treatment, internal and external, as a part of traditional Ayurveda over modernised New-Age Ayurveda often being practiced by Naturopaths and Yoga teachers.

For this reason, Indians were taught these sciences from youth and understood the spiritual and cultural contexts and rituals/implications that went along with this, which are important. The Hindu tradition and sciences are about specifics over generics

As an example, you wouldn’t go to a Chinese person to learn how to bake French pastries, nor would you turn to the Frenchman to teach you about authentic Qi Gong as the two cultures are completely different. Being immersed in such and understanding such means also the language behind it – which is imperative one understand from youth to gauge these nuances, over those who have culturally-appropriated and set up ‘Wellness’ businesses and organisations, who often tend to pasteurise these teachings, to the detriment of many.

Here, while massages and Ayurvedic therapies are useful, they have to be performed simply after a full clinical assessment by a trained and experienced Practitioner, not simply given based on a few quizzes alone. The therapies and manner in which they are conducted also change for the individual as well – so the use of generic oils and substances as if often done, isn’t true Ayurveda! It is merely money-making!

  • Always chose a trained, experienced Ayurvedic Professional with Clinical Training and Experience in all facets of Ayurveda, Yoga and related sciences
  • Look for those who have studied the entire tradition back to its roots, are fluent in the language (Sanskrit) as well as culture and heritage and connected to its ancient Vedic-Hindu system in practice and lifestyle
  • Avoid many vegan-based and modern veganesque and pan-Naturopathic formulas such as ‘Turmeric Coconut Milk’ and ‘Ashwagandha Coconut Milk’, Raw Food and other infusions; these are not Ayurvedic, but are simply based on other systems and aren’t good for one and all
  • Make sure you check whether or not they are simply starting a ‘Spa-Wellness’ business, or wish to share the deeper facets of Ayurveda with specific recommendations and guidelines If you are curious about Ayurvedic therapies and what might be best for you, book a consultation with us today, or fill out the form below!