The Magic of an Ayurvedic Hair Mask (Lepa) & how you can use one to improve hair

All about ayurvedic hair masks or lepas
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Reading Time: 9 minutes

The regular use of an Ayurvedic Hair mask / Lepa can be that clincher to accelerate the nutrition that is being delivered to your scalp, jump start holistic hair growth and ensure that your scalp and hair absorb the MAXIMUM nutrition for our Hair oils.

What makes the Ayurvedic Hair Mask (Lepa) such a potent game changer? The answer lies in both the composition, processing and the way an Ayurvedic Hair mask should be used for best results. Read on to find out more.

What is the role of an Ayurvedic Hair Mask (Lepa) in hair care?

Every week , during the Krya production meeting, I review the entire Krya Production & Customer team’s Home work – yes you read that right, Home work!

As a company focused on creating products that solve customer problems efficiently and holistically using ayurvedic wisdom, it is imperative for all of us to wear our learning hats whenever we do something at work. When we question and understand why we do something, I find that it sinks into our heads better and we are able to do what we do from a place of understanding and appreciation.

In this week’s questions, I had quizzed the team about the Krya Damage Repair Hair Mask. I had asked them about why an Ayurvedic Hair Mask was an essential part of a good hair care routine .

When it appears slightly time consuming to use, and we have a perfectly good hair oil that delivers nutrition, why do we need an Ayurvedic Hair Mask / lepa? 

What is the purpose behind an Ayurvedic Hair Mask or Lepa?

The answer of course, lies in the Ayurvedic principles of nutrient extraction.

Correct extraction of Herbs – how do we extract goodness from tree barks, roots and leaves?

When we formulate products at Krya, we study the correct methods of processing each herb, so that their nutrition is readily available to us when we use them. All of our herbs come to us in absolutely raw forms – like a large chunk of bark, or a heap of leaves.

Ayurvedic raw herbs need to be broken down and processed before we can use them

We cannot simply take this bark / leaf and rub it on our skin / hair – for one we will get scratched / bruised – and the second, what is in this bark / leaf has not yet been made readily available to the body.

Hence we use processing techniques like cutting, hammering, grinding, sifting, boiling in water, boiling in oil, etc to process each herb separately. When we do this correctly, we are able to un-bind the locked nutrients from each herb and make them easily available to transform skin, hair and health.

Procesisng of each herb unlocks nutrients from deep within it

Apart from processing techniques, the right “anupana” or medium is also important to ensure that the nutrients we have unlocked from each herb works correctly.

Anupana / Medium and Water soluble and Oil soluble nutrients:

Ayurvedic processing techniques also teach us about the difference, the Anupana (medium) of herb use and extraction brings to a product. In Tila paka manufacturing technique (ayurevdic herbal oil processing technique), we are asked to choose between extracting herbs in water (kashayas, Kwathas), in oil as a herbal paste (kalpa) and also as freshly extracted , cold pressed juice (Swarasa).

Each of these processing techniques is used to extract a different set of nutrients: the water extraction method (Kashaya and Kwatha) is generally used to extract water soluble nutrients that are bound tightly in ayurvedic barks, stems and dried leaves when fresh herbs are not available.

Kwatha and Kashaya are ayurvedic processing techniques to extract water soluble nutrients

Depending upon the hardness of the herbs and the availability of volatile elements like taste, aroma and fragrance, we can choose to extract nutrients via a cold infusion, or a boiled decoction. In the boiled decoction, we can opt for a less boiled extract or a very strongly boiled extract (reduced to 1/4 or 1/8th original volume) in the case of very hard and woody herbs.

In the case of fresh leaves, stems full of rasa (botanical juices) ,when available, we are encouraged to cold press these herbs to extract the rasa – this is called “Swa” (self generated) “Rasa” (juice).

Swarasas are cold pressed freshly extracted plant, vegetable and fruit juices from fresh produce

In the case of oily herbs with strong aroma and taste , which suggests the presence of volatile oil based compounds, we are asked to methodically grind these herbs to release these oils and add them directly to cold pressed oils. In the presence of the cold pressed  carrier oils, these herbs release their volatile essential oil based aroma and tastes. This extraction method is called making a “kalpa” or fresh herb paste in oil.

Kalpa is an extraction method for oily ayurvedic herbs

A typical herbal oil made in Tila paka method can carry kwatha, kashaya, swarasa and kalpa or a combination of these techniques used to extract nutrients from herbs. Each method is able to extract a particular kind of nutrient that is soluble in either water or oil.

Stiff and dry scalp & clogged srotas : with regular use of synthetic hair care products

As new customers discover the work that we do at Krya, they make the switch from synthetic hair care products to Krya’s all natural products. But the many years of using synthetic shampoos, silicone laden conditioners, and clogging hair sprays and serums takes a toll on the scalp’s basic health.

Synthetic haircare products leave the scalp dry, hard and brittle

The scalp becomes stiff, dry, and hard with the vata aggravation caused by excessive shampooing. Because of the high use of coating products like synthetic conditioners, we find the srotas of the scalp are clogged with sebum plugs, dead skin and silicones and the other plasticizing compounds from the hair sprays, serums and conditioners used.

Imagine a clogged tea filter – when we pour the best tea through a clogged tea filter, we get very little tea to drink as the tea is not able to pass through the clogged pores.

Synthetic hair products also clog the scalp preventing nutrient absorption
So too with a dry and clogged scalp. As the scalp is stiff and brittle it does not absorb oil easily. As the Srotas are clogged, the oil that is absorbed is unable to fully pass its nutrients into the scalp.

Unclogging the Srotas: functionality of the Krya Ayurvedic Hair Mask (Lepas)

All Krya hair masks have a dual purpose. First and foremost, they are formulated to be deep cleansing, astringent and help unclog the srotas in the scalp.

The Krya hairwashes are also designed to cleanse the hair and scalp. But the Krya Ayurvedic Hair Mask (Lepas-all variants) has a deeper and more concentrated action on the Srotas of the scalp. This is also because, by design, the Hair masks are left to interact with the scalp for a longer period of time, compared to our Hair washes.

When the Krya Ayurvedic Hair Masks are used regularly as a part of the Hair routine, we find that the scalp is able to absorb a larger volume of good quality hair oil in the daily routine. The hair and scalp also respond better to the nutrients being received via the hair mask and regular hair oiling. The transformation we seek is more holistic and quicker by using the Mask as a deep cleansing and de-clogging product regularly.

Regular application of teh hair mask deep cleans and unclogs the srotas allowing nutrients to be absorbed deeply by the scalp

To enable the Srota clearing property of the Masks, we use many astringent, cleansing and de-clogging Barks like Shirisha, Udumbura, Ashwattha, etc. These barks are best processed either as Kashayams or are processed as choornas.

To help the Krya Ayurvedic Hair Mask in the de-clogging and deep cleansing property , we process these deeply cleansing and astringent barks as Choornams (herbal powders).

So they are pounded by hand, size reduced and then further finely ground and sifted. As we hammer and chip away at the bark, we are able to release its tightly bound nutrients better.

Barks, roots and stems need a lot of tough processing to unlock the nutrients

When these finely processed choornas (herb powders) come into contact with water, as we have worked on the herbs and already unbound the tightly bound particles of the herb, the nutrients are easily released by the herb.

When these nutrients come in contact with water they work very well in their cleansing process.

Boosting scalp nutrition: second function of the Ayurvedic Hair Mask (Lepa)

Apart from the deep cleaning and de-clogging property of an Ayurvedic hair Mask, it is also a potent nutrient booster of the scalp. However, this functionality is unlocked and is fully available only when the srotas are unclogged and ready to receive nourishment.

To enhance the nutrient boosting capability of the Krya Hair Masks, we use a potent set of herbs and spices which are naturally full of volatile oils. For example, we process spices like Jatamansi, Mace,  Clove, etc into our Hair Masks. Along with these spices, we also process oil rich barks , stems and roots like Devdaru, Daruharidra, Usheera, Mushta, etc.

Oily and aroma rich herbs should be extracted differently according to ayurveda

Herbs and spices which are rich in volatile oils are best extracted in oil based pastes. To enable this extraction and to also ensure that the product does not go rancid / get spoiled, we process these herbs with a small amount of nutrient oils. In the presence of these oils, the herbs easily release their nutrients.

How to use a Krya Ayurvedic Hair Mask (Lepa) effectively

    • Start by adding clean cool water, or any other Lepa liquid suggested for you into the appropriate Krya Hair mask chosen for your hair type / problem
    • Mix the product well, until there are no lumps
    • The paste should be mixed to of a slightly runny consistency, like pancake batter. As we are going to let it stand, the paste will thicken slightly before we begin use
    • Allow the mixed paste to stand for about 30 – 45 minutes. We suggest mixing the Hair Mask paste before you begin oiling your hair in preparation for your hair mask to utilise your time more effectively
    • As the mixed paste stands, the herbs, essential and volatile oils and nutrient oils all interact with each other in the presence of water. This allows for better nutrient release. It also ensures that the paste is thoroughly mixed and easy to apply on hair
    • When your hair is well oiled, begin application of the Hair Mask (lepa)
    • Make appropriate scalp partings using a tail comb and
      “paint” the mask in using a henna applicator brush
    • The focus should be on applying the Mask as close to the scalp as possible before applying it on the hair length
    • Make as many partings on the scalp as possible with a tail comb and paint the mask in – if mixed properly and at the correct consistency, the mask should easily glide in when you apply it
    • Once you have finished applying the mask, cover your head properly with a shower cap / old towel. This is essential as the mask works properly only as long as it is moist. when it starts to dry up, it pulls at the hair and Srotas excessively and should be rinsed off at this stage.
    • If well covered and if the Mask has been mixed to the correct consistency, you can usually leave the mask on for 30 – 45 minutes before it starts to go dry
    • When the Mask starts to dry, rinse it out with clean water and follow up with the recommended Krya hair wash.

 

To sum up:

In this post, we looked at the benefits of adding a good quality ayurvedic Hair mask (Lepa) to your regular Hair routine. We saw how adding this Lepa helps deep clean and de-clog the scalp, boosting the way it absorbs nutrition.

We also saw how a good Ayurvedic Hair Mask (Lepa) can deliver potent nutrients to the scalp by judiciously using herbs and processing them the correct way to quickly and actively release nutrients for the scalp to absorb.

We finally looked at how to effectively use the Krya hair Mask (lepa) and how it needs to be mixed and applied for best results.

Krya has a wide range of Ayurvedic Hair Masks (Lepas) formulated for different kinds of hair types and hair needs. For more information on this, please go through our website. You may also call us (075500-89090) or email us for help on selecting the right Krya hair masks for you.

If you haven’t yet tried one of our Hair Masks do try one out – I promise you that the time spent will be worth it!

 

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The Abhyanga and its benefits on reducing period pain & menstrual cramps

Effect of Abhyanga on women's health
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Reading Time: 12 minutes

An Abhyanga is a valuable Dinacharya which helps regulate dosha balance and overall health in everyone. It is particularly valuable for Women and is an excellent scientific tool that helps regulate reproductive health. A regular abhyanga can help make the menstrual period regular with minimal cramping, bloating and discomfort. Why is this so? In this post we will look at the various benefits that a regular abhyanga has on reproductive health.

Trigger warning: Important

Ayurveda tells us that pregnant women must not be exposed to Menstrual blood, its odour or a Menstruating Woman. Similarly a pregnant woman must not see / read any violent imagery, or anything related to violence or Menstruation during the entire time of pregnancy. The acharyas tell us that our thoughts are extremely powerful and act as a precursor to all physical conditions.

So if you are pregnant and reading this, PLEASE STOP. This post is NOT meant for you. You can come back to this post after delivery – thank you !

This post is not meant for pregnant women - if pregnant please avoid reading this post

For those of you who are NOT pregnant, please read on.

Feedback from a Krya Customer: Effect of regular Abhyanga on period pain & menstrual cramps

Here is some feedback we recently received on the benefits of an Abhyanga:

“Quick update on the super positives that I experienced with doing continuous Abhyanga. While I’m regular with full Abhyanga twice a week & Mini’s in between, due to non availability of Bodywash, was compelled to do complete Abhyanga. This was for about 7 days till i got my periods which thanks to Abhyanga comes bang on time. I didn’t have any PMS this time.

While Mini Abhyanga alleviated few symptoms that i get during periods, due to continous Abhyanga those were completely eliminated. Didnt experience 1) Any pains ( esp.lower back & calf) 2) Absolutely no bloating 3) Cramps – the lower abdomen which used to be so so painful and uncomfortable vanished !

It was after a long time that period was so normal and so was the flow. I had forgotten what pain free, normal periods were. I’m now going to incorporate this regular everyday Abhyanga a week before my periods. Thank you so much 🙏 “

To summarize this feedback: 

  • The effect of doing regular mini + full abhyanga has ensured that her cycle is NOT delayed and that her periods appear at the correct time
  • When she did full abhyanga 7 – 10 days BEFORE her periods she observed that she had lessened period pain and menstrual cramps
  • In her description of lack of pain, she referred to the fact that there no cramps and no bloating of the lower abdomen, and no pain in the lower back and calf
  • She also observed the blood appeared normal with normal flow during her periods

Why did this change occur? Let us analyze this as per Ayurveda’s definition of what dosha can impact Artava / menstrual flow and what could be the causes behind the uncomfortable periods MOST of us have today.

Please note: this is NOT a detailed post on Menstrual health. As many of you have asked for guidelines on this, we will be covering this in greater detail in a separate post .

Apana Vayu and its importance in menstrual and reproductive health:

Acharya Charaka says this about “Vayu” in his chapter on Vata dosha and diseases due to aggravation of vata:

"Vayu gives life. Vayu gives strength. Vayu helps sustain all
 creatures. (Therefore) Vayu is the entire world and Master 
of all”.

 

Acharya Charaka tells us that Vayu helps sustain life and strength

There are 5 types of vayu / vata dosha which work in different parts of the body to aid different functions. The first 4 types of vayu are involved in digestion, the movement of breath / prana, the ability to speak and our energy levels and in aiding the body’s movement – both gross and subtle.

Apana vayu, which is of great importance here to us in this post, governs the following activities: it helps release semen, urine, faeces, menstrual blood and also aids the easy delivery of the foetus. Apana vayu’s seat in the body are the testicles, urinary bladder, penis, navel, thighs, groin and anus – so the entire portion from the navel upto the knees (front and back).

Apana vayu has its set from the lower abdomen upto the knees. It controls all outward movements in the body of Mala and Shukra, etc

Menstrual blood and menstrual cycle: understanding in Ayurveda

Menstrual Blood is an “upa dhatu” or by-product / ancilliary Dhatu formed by Rasa – lymph. Rasa is the first Dhatu formed after ahara is processed and Rasa forms Rakta / blood which circulates in the rest of the body. Ayurveda tells us that Menstrual blood carries all the qualities of Pitta dosha and tends to be slightly elevated in Pitta levels compared to normal rakta circulating in the body.

The menstrual cycle in women is called “Ritu Chakra” or the cycle of Ritu (we also see the word Ritu in Ritucharya which is seasonal care).

Each Ritu Chakra is between 27 – 30 days and the first day of the menstrual period is counted as day one of your Ritu chakra.

In the first part of ritu Chakra is the Rajasrava Kala – the period where rajas / menstrual blood (also called Artava) flows out of the uterus and into the vagina. In this period, Ayurveda says that the blood which has been formed from the rasa dhatu and has been actively working in the Uterus to form the endometrial layer, the unused ovum, and balance nutritious blood which would have otherwise been used to nourish the embryo is all removed from the uterus and all subtle srotas in this region and is expelled out of the body.

To ensure what has slowly been used over the month is expelled quickly out of the body, the powerful forces of Vayu come into play via Apana vayu – As we may recall, one of the qualities of vayu is “swiftness” / speed – this speed comes into play as the menstrual blood is expelled from the body over 3 – 7 days.

Apana vayu helps swift removal of all collected menstrual blood + dhatus every period

Role of Apana vayu in Menstruation:

We have seen that the Apana Vayu in the body is responsible for downward and outward movement of Malas (wastes), Artava and the embryo during delivery.

So we can surmise that when Apana vayu is not in balance, its speed, swiftness and ability to efficiently carry out its function will be impeded. So we may have improper or slower or delayed evacuation of menstrual blood, evacuation which is not smooth and is in fits and starts, so periods are longer.

Similarly as Apana Vayu helps squeeze out the blood from all subtle channels in the uterus as it is expelled, if the dosha is not balanced, we do not get a smooth squeezing action. There will be uneveness and ups and downs in the action of the dosha – this can result in deep seated period pain, menstrual cramps, etc.

When smooth action of Apana vayu is imapired due to vata aggravation we get period pain and cramps

Also, Apana Vayu is one of the 5 types of vayu in the body – each branch of Vayu depends upon the overall balance of vata dosha in the body. If the vata dosha in the body is imbalanced, apart from painful periods , the quality of artava (or menstrual blood) itself may be affected.

When vata dosha is aggravated, the Menstrual flow becomes more scanty. The blood colour turns darker with a brownish tinge. We will speak about the effect of aggravation of other doshas on artava in our other posts on Menstrual health.

On the other hand when our doshas are in balance, we can see the effect both on our experience during our periods and in the appearance and quality of Menstrual blood. When doshas are in balance, Menstrual blood is of good quality. Such good quality artava / menstrual blood has the following characteristics according to Ayurveda:

The colour of good quality Menstrual blood is similar to the 
gunja seed / lac insect,it glows like gold because this is 
the quality of Pitta dosha in balance, it has no special foul
odour, it flows properly and is not thick or full of clots 
or very thin;most importantly it does NOT leave a stain on
 cloth when it comes in contact with it.

Balanced menstrual blood has a good red colour, glows like gold, flows easily and does not stain cloth says Ayurveda

How to positively influence Menstrual cycles and reduce period pain:

From the above description, we can see that we can influence Menstruation, quality of Menstrual blood, the experience we have during Menstruation, and our reproductive health in many ways according to Ayurveda. Specifically 3 things are in our control:

1. Having a clear, period pain free and easy period :

We can affect the experience we have during our periods (less cramping, free flow of menstrual blood, timing of periods and regularity of periods, painfree periods and quality of blood) by controlling Vata dosha , specifically Apana Vayu in the body

2. Developing good quality Artava from good quality Rasa dhatu:

We can improve the quality of our Artava (menstrual blood) and the health of our reproductive system by the regimen we follow during the rest of the month via ahara, Dinacharya , Nidra, Vyayama, etc

3. Overall Improvement in reproductive health

By following the Menstrual guidelines outlined in Ayurveda there is a noticeable improvement in women’s reproductive health. There is a deep seated and profound yet subtle (sookshma) effect on the quality of ovum, health of the subtle nadis and channels in the women’s body and quality of artava (menstrual blood).

The first part, i.e having clear, pain free and easy period as we have seen is most governed by Vata dosha. In the other 2 parts we can see many factors come into play like Ahara, Dinacharya, our Mental state, our ability to follow Menstrual guidelines, etc. But in the case of the Rajasrva Kala, we can see the effects much faster as we are dealing with a single entity: i.e balancing the forces of vata dosha, specifically Apana vayu.

Our upcoming posts will focus on detailed aspects of all 3 factors to help you improve the quality of Artava, have an easier and pain free period and share Ayurvedic guidelines on menstrual care and regulations during your period.

Balancing vata dosha for a better period:

As we have seen earlier in our many documents on Vata dosha, the ONE thing that acts to bind and balance Vata Dosha is eating and applying Sneha (fats) on your body.

When we eat Sneha like good quality ghee, we drive down air and space in the body. Ghee helps balance all 3 doshas, balance Agni in the body and helps lubricate the body from within, helping balance aggravated Air and space in the body.

Ghee and good quality finds help bind aggravated vata from within

When we apply Sneha (medicated oils and fats), via Abhyanga, we push Vata dosha which tends to spread quickly through the body back to its seat by binding it with medicated oil and herbs. This is why the regular practice of Abhyanga through the month has such a profound effect on your periods.

In our posts on Abhyanga and Mini Abhyanga, we have suggested that women focus on the lower abdomen, hips and thighs when doing an abhyanga. If a full abhyanga is not possible, the Mini abhyanga suggested focuses on these areas. The focus on these areas helps bring Apana vayu into balance .

A regular abhyanga and mini abhaynag helps bind aggravated vata

If you have extremely painful periods with high cramping, this indicates that Apana Vayu is severely out of balance. When Apana vayu is out of balance you should also feel constipated quite often, and bloated as Apana vayu aggravates outward movement of pretty much everything.

But the good news is , when you begin doing regular abhyanga, this Apana vayu comes under control. When Apana Vayu comes under control you will see an improvement in all its functions: your bowel movements will become regular, free, and easy with no incompleteness. Similarly, your menstrual flow will also become easier, freer and regularized.

What Abhyanga oil to use to ensure your period pain is reduced and the cycle is easy?

Moderate to severe vata aggravation needs medicated oils and fats – plain, cold pressed base oils like Sesame oil are less efficient at binding aggravated Vata. To pacify Vata, oils need to be made more sookshma so that they can penetrate the subtle channels that vata excesses hide in.

Because vata itself is very subtle, when aggravated it spreads extremely deeply into minute channels. So only a good sookshma oil which has been processed with vata pacifying herbs can dig this hidden vata out of the channels.

Medicated oils and fats have a more sookshma action - they are more efficient at binding vata dosha

Abhyanga oil selection by Prakriti:

Pitta aggravation or Pitta prakriti:

When selecting an abhyanga oil, go by your overall body type. If you are pitta leaning and in moderate / good health, go for Krya Classic abhyanga oil. Pitta prakritis tend to have high intense Agni (get hungry very quickly), sensitive skin (flushed and easily breaks out), are of moderate build, and typically have reddish tints in their hair with a tendency towards premature greying. They tend to exhibit leadership and perfectionist tendencies with a tendency towards anger.

Please note: these are just indicators – you need not exhibit all of this, but can still be a Pitta dominant Prakriti-the only properly accurate way of diagnosing your prakriti is through careful observation and nadi diagnosis

Classic abhyanga oil recommended for Pitta aggravation and Pitta prakriti

Vata aggravation or Vata Prakriti:

If you are highly vata prone, or are in a special state of vata aggravation (post partum, high exercise, vata diagnosed), go for Krya Intense Abhyanga oil. Vata parkritis tend to have lean build, prominent bones, dull, rough looking skin and hair, lose weight very easily. They are usually easy going, make friends easily, are very creative and quite talkative. When out of balance, they stay up late, have difficulty sleeping, etc.

Please note: these are just indicators – you need not exhibit all of this, but can still be a Vata dominant Prakriti -the only properly accurate way of diagnosing your prakriti is through careful observation and nadi diagnosis

Krya Intense abhaynga oil is suggested for vata aggravation or vata prakriti

Kapha aggravation or Kapha Prakriti:

For high and dominant kapha leaning prakriti, go for Krya Intense Abhyanga oil. For mixed Kapha prakritis (kapha + pitta or kapha + vata), try a combination of classic and intense abhyanga oil. When in doubt, always start with classic abhyanga oil.

Kapha prakritis tend to have a slightly bulky build, good clear and very smooth skin, thick lustrous and dark hair with good hair growth, very stable weight, and have a very balanced and measured disposition. When out of balance they tend to suffer from Manda agni (diminished appetite and digestive power), aggravation in mucous in the body, weight gain and lassitude and poor energy levels.

Please note: these are just indicators – you need not exhibit all of this, but can still be a Kapha dominant Prakriti – the only properly accurate way of diagnosing your prakriti is through careful observation and nadi diagnosis

Abhyanga schedule to be followed to ensure easier periods and balanced Apana Vayu : 

  • Level 0 – If you have never done abhyanga / or are doing very patchy / irregular abhyanga:
    • 2 mini abhyanga + 1 full abhyanga (friday) + 3 pada abhyanga (on days when you are doing neither abhyanga / mini abhyanga)

This is the beginning level where we are simply getting the body used to the abhyanga process. Abhyanga is quite rigorous on the body, so it is recommended we ease into the process. This level of abhyanga can be done for 6-8 weeks before stepping up into the next level.

 

  • Level 1 : Entry level Abhyanga once body is used to process
    • 3 mini abhyanga + 2 full abhyanga + 4 pada abhyanga (ensure no day is oil free)

This abhayanga level is a good maintenance level for apana vayu. This helps if your period pain is mild – moderate, and you are able to subsist without using pain killers and are able to have a moderately normal day during menstrual cycle. At this level of abhyanga, the body will slowly become saturated with good quality herbs and there will be a gradual and measured balancing of Apana Vayu.

  • Level 2: IF you are trying to conceive, are trying to overcome reproductive health disorders like PCOD, PCOS, or have excessively painful periods, etc :
    • 4 mini abhyanga + 2 full abhyanga + 5 pada abhyanga
If trying to conceive: some more suggestions need to be made – please  email us
  • Level 3: Post Partum mother / Recovering from Vegan diet / Highly Vata aggravated :
    • 3 – 4 Full Abhyangas + balance days mini Abhyanga + Pada abhyanga EVERY night – every day the body must be oiled in some manner or the other
In this level, if you are starting from scratch, start from Level 0 and work your way up quickly. Eat lots of ghee and milk and good nourishing food. Don’t over massage / over strain , taking care to gradually build up strength.
Please note:A regular abhyanga is like a recurring deposit in your bank. When done regularly it accrues compound interest. So for good effects it must be done through the month, regularly, using correct oils and correct technique.

To Sum up: Abhyanga for reducing period pain and menstrual cramps

We maintain that the Dinacharyas given to us by the Ayurvedic Acharyas like abhyanga, hair oiling, careful vyayama, etc are huge blessings and gifts. When we carefully practice these techniques we can see the effects across various organ systems in our body.
In this post, we saw the subtle and profound action of a regular abhyanga on Menstrual health.  A regular abhyanga strongly controls Apana vayu, regularizing menstrual flow and reducing cramping, period pain and discomfort.
Ayurveda offers us many pointers on maintaining good reproductive health in Women. we hope to write many more posts on this subject over the next few months.
If you have any questions on this post or if you too would like to start Abhyanga for good Menstrual health and are unsure about which products to start with, please get in touch with us – please call us (0-75500-89090) or email us.
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Pink Predators: Common carcinogens in your home

Breast cancer awareness - the pink ribbon walk
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Reading Time: 12 minutes

Update: Breast cancer rates are alarmingly on the rise and a few months ago, one of our close friends who is in her early 40s started 12 rounds of Chemo after detecting a tumerous lump in the left breast after a routine examination.

Krya regularly gets Cancer survivor customers who come to us for skin and hair products after the dreaded disease + even more dreaded treatment. Many of them have a simple question: “Why me”. Most of them are in good physical health, they exercise, take care of their diet and many dont even have a family history of this disease. Yet they contract it. Why is this so?

This post helps answer this question and looks at the extremely worrying effects of 3 possible carcinogenic chemicals which are commonly used in beauty, skin care, hair care and household cleaning products. Read on.

The dreaded “C” word:

In Oct 2014, I attended a meeting of women entrepreneurs. On the sidelines, we were invited to a breast cancer awareness campaign organized by one of the entrepreneurs who had been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. This young lady is a passionate advocate of early diagnosis of breast cancer. As a part of the worldwide pink ribbon day, her team conducted awareness camps for women employed in the major IT parks in Chennai.

As she spoke, a palpable tremor ran through the women in the room. Many had some encounter with the dreaded “c” word, having watched a loved one suffer.

I lost a favourite aunt in 2009 to breast cancer, or perhaps the aggressive chemotherapy given to her. I watched my bright, active danseuse Aunt shrivel away, lose her hair, her energy and eventually her life after four repeated chemotherapy assaults on her body. Breast cancer is one of the most common and fast growing cancers in India today and forms nearly half of all the cancer detected in India . In 2012, 70,000 Indian women died due to breast cancer.

The Pink Ribbon movement

In 1985 in the US , the breast cancer awareness month (BCAM) was created as a partnership between American Cancer Society & a pharma company that is now part of Astra Zeneca. The main aim of the BCAM is to promote mammography as the weapon of choice to diagnose and fight breast cancer. Such partnerships are fraught with ethical dilemmas. Astra Zeneca is the manufacturer of the breast cancer blockbuster drugs Arimidex and Tamoxifen. Some have argued the overly visible and alarmist tone of breast cancer awareness pushes for over reporting and aggressive promotion of the treatment which are the drugs. Worse still, it is now understood that X-ray mammography to detect breast cancer is dangerous and is a carcinogen.

The breast cancer awareness movement came into its own in the early 1990’s with promotion of the pink ribbon as the symbol. In 1993, Evelyn Lauder, Senior Vice-president of Estee Lauder and a  breast cancer survivor herself founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and widely popularized the pink ribbon as its symbol. In that year, Estee Lauder make up counters handed out 1.5 million pink ribbons with a information card describing the steps to construct a self breast exam.

Pink marketing for Breast cancer awareness

Since then, the pink ribbon has become one of the most visible symbols of cause related marketing across the world. Research shows that given parity cost and quality, more than 50% of consumers would switch to a brand associated with a good cause. Going by the popularity of the pink ribbon, breast cancer certainly seems to be a popular and profitable cause for the brands piggybacking on this cause.

1Pinkmarketing.jpg

From NFL costumes to cosmetics, from shoe sellers to cricketers, the pink ribbon has engulfed them all during the awareness month. While many critics and naysayers tend to dismiss this as pink washing, there are positives. Millions of dollars have been raised from these campaigns due to which early warning signs are now part of the general lexicon.

But one critical issue continues to trouble the general public.

Despite the top management support, and marketing muscle thrown behind breast cancer awareness, several cosmetic companies who support this cause, continue to use ingredients that are suspected to be carcinogenic. In many cases these suspect ingredients have been found in breast cancer tissues.
Think about it.
The very brands that raise money for awareness continue to use suspected carcinogens in their products.

Pink washing?

In 2013, 15 beauty brands devoted to defeating breast cancer got together to start an offshoot campaign called “we are stronger together”. But according to EWG’s Skin Deep cosmetic database, 12 of these companies, including Aveda, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, and Estee Lauder & Origins sell a wide assortment of cosmetics that contain known carcinogens and other toxics.

The carcinogenic impact of these toxic ingredients is relevant to the study of what causes breast cancer. Research suggests that genetic causes form only 5 – 10 % to breast cancer develops. 90 – 95% of cancer exposure is thought to develop from a series of environmental causes including radiation exposure, excess alcohol consumption, and of course exposure to dozens of carcinogenic chemicals.

The Krya series on toxics

This Krya series on toxic chemicals in household products has been developed as a result of hundreds of queries from concerned users, very often in categories where Krya does not have any product yet. We are asked for our opinion on product categories on the potential hazards of chemicals and more importantly, recommendations for safer natural alternatives.

For the last 4 years on the krya blog, we have maintained our stand that the consumer products industry in India is dangerously under-regulated. Many products are sold widely with little understanding of long term human safety or environmental protection. In our personal experience, we have seen that R&D in global consumer products companies operates in silos, with a narrow focus on cost and immediate consumer gratification. Their safety standards are decades old. They continue to play with the boundaries of safety and often wait for a public outcry or a government order to cut back on toxic ingredients. This laissez-faire attitude has introduced to the trusting public a set of new, potentially dangerous, hydra headed monsters.

The Pink Predators

 Parabens : common possible carcinogen

Parabens are a big family of preservatives found widely in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industries. and have been around for nearly 100 years. They are the industry standard for anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Parabens have been detected in urine, serum, breast milk and seminal fluid, but the most worrying fact has been their detection in breast tissue from patients with breast cancer. In one important north American study, it was calculated that the average person is exposed to 76 mg of parabens every day, with 50 mg from cosmetics, 25 mg from pharmaceuticals and 1 mg from food.

Research from the CDC’s National Centre for Environmental Health found that the blood of over 60% of the children surveyed during the National Health and Nutrition examination survey was contaminated with more than 8 toxins including significant levels of 3 kinds of parabens.

One alarming property of parabens is their ability to enter the body through the skin, something that most people are not aware of. This has been widely studied in underarm cosmetics like deodorants and whiteners. Breast cancer research shows a higher concentration of parabens in the upper lateral breast near the armpit corresponding to the use of deodorants which contain parabens.

3deo caution

After the work of many consumer awareness groups like EWG, Johnson & Johnson pledged to remove both parabens and formaldehyde from its baby care and adult skin care products by 2015 including brands like Aveeno & Neutrogena. But Johnson & Johnson continues to re-assert the safety of parabens and made this decision to eliminate parabens only to assuage certain consumer groups.

Globally most governments have not re-examined the safety of parabens. Some outliers are the Danish government which has banned the use of products for children below 3 years. In India,  parabens are commonly used in cosmetic and other applications.

While we can go back and forth on the safety of parabens , we certainly do not want to be learn 30 or 40 years later that the early researchers who warned against the use of parabens were absolutely right. This is exactly what happened in the global debate on smoking and lung cancer. While the debate raged, many were smoking their way to cancer hoping that the warnings would turn out to be false alarms.

On the other hand it is important to note that parabens do not have any beneficial or therapeutic whatsoever to humans. So the question to ask is this, are there safe alternatives to parabens ? The answer is YES! Paraben free products are available globally and are waiting for you to discover them.

Phthalates :

Phthalates are chemicals used as plasticizers, to make physical products pliant and flexible – they are widely found, in vinyl flooring, raincoats, adhesives, detergents, nail polishes, soaps, toys and skin care lotions. For example, DEHP, a common phthalate, is added to PVC at concentrations between 1 – 40% to make it soft and pliant. Unplasticized PVC without DEHP is hard and brittle.

Phthalates are physically bound into plastics using a heating process, which means that they are very easily released into the environment when this physical bond breaks. This happens in many innocuous ways when phthalate containing products are kept near heat or exposed to strong solvents. For example : when phthalate containing plastic dishes are washed with harsh chemical cleaners.

Phthalates are cheap and versatile: so they are found in products as diverse as children’s toys, and utensils, coatings in pills and nutritional supplements, emulsifying and suspending agents in lotions and shampoos, binders and gelling agents in liquid detergent and dishwash. Other personal care products that contain phthalates are liquid soap, perfumes, deodorant sprays, hair sprays, eye shadow, nail colours and moisturizers.

When used in vinyl flowing, phthalates like DEHP easily leach into the atmosphere, contaminating indoor household air. Once released this toxic air can be inhaled by babies crawling on the floor or pets. A 2008 Bulgarian study found that higher dust concentrations of DEHP was found in the homes of children with asthma and allergies compared to non- asthmatic children.

While a lot of the present phthalate research focuses on infants and children, it is believed women are at a much higher risk of phthalate exposure due to their higher consumption of cosmetic products and exposure to household cleaning products.

Recent (2010) in-vivo and observational studies show an association between phthalate exposure and breast cancer. Also, phthalates like many other endocrine disrupters are both bio-accumulative and additive – when mixed with other classes of chemicals like BPA or nonyl-phenols, they exhibit a deadly chemical synergistic effect. Essentially this means that all these toxic chemicals gang up against your body with a multiplier effect.

2Nail paints caution

A recent published study for the first time studied the positive correlation of DEP (diethyl phthalate), with breast cancer. DEP is found in a high proportion of perfume carrying products like deodorants, hair sprays and moisturizing lotions because of its ability to make fragrance “linger” for a long time. DEP is also used as denaturant in alcohol and is found worryingly in products like mouthwash.

Endocrine-disrupter effect of Phthalates

Why are phthalates dangerous to human health? Simply put, they are endocrine disruptors. Their behaviour can mimic endocrine hormones like estrogen , which really confuses our bodies , leading to disease.

In 2000, Puerto Rican scientists reported an association between DEHP & premature breast development in young girls signifying an early onset of puberty. At the same time the CDC in the United States tested blood samples of 289 Adult Americans and found phthalates in all of them. The levels of some phthalates, including DEHP in women of childbearing age far exceeded government mandated safe levels to prevent birth defects.

Two studies published in Environmental Health perspectives in 2003 found that pregnant women with phthalate exposure on average give birth one week earlier than those without significant phthalate exposure.

A 2006 study among Indian women with endometriosis showed a significantly high level of phthalates in their blood – this included phthalates which are restricted for use in the EU like DEHP, DBT, BBP and DnOP.

Regulations around Phthalates:

Most restriction around phthalates today focuses on children. The EU has restricted the use of certain phthalates like DEHP, DBP, in children’s toys from 1999. Phthalates like DINP, DIDP and DNOP are restricted in toys that can be put into a child’s mouth. The restriction allows these phthalates to be present only upto 0.1% of the plasticized mass of the toy.A similar act was passed in the United States in 2008.

5childrens toys post

Phthalates in the Cauvery river:

A study published this year studied water and sediment samples of the Cauvery River, one of South India’s major rivers. A two year soil sediment and water study found DEHP in 92% of the water samples and DEP and DMP in every water sample. Similarly 94% of soil sediment samples also contained DEHP. While the contamination percentage was said to be below USEPA guidelines for water, the soil concentration exceeded this guideline.

The Cauvery river basin covers Karnataka, Kerala , Tamilnadu and Pondicherry.  It is the source for both an extensive irrigation and hydroelectric system and also supplies drinking water for many towns and villages. Bangalore, Mysore and Mandya depend almost completely on the Cauvery for their drinking water. In this situation, the fact that some of the most toxic phthalates like DEHP have so comprehensively contaminated this river cannot be ignored.

Nonylphenols (NP ) and  Nonyl phenol ethoxylate (NPE) :

Nonyl phenols come from a class of chemicals called Alkyphenols. Alkylphenols, including nonyl phenol are precursors to chemical detergents , and are used as additive to fuels, lubricants and other polymers.

All alkylphenols including Nonylphenol ethoxylate are xenoestrogens. They mimic the effect of estrogen in the body and they can disrupt the normal process of reproduction. Xenoestrogens can increase the growth of the endometrium, leading to endometriosis, and can also increase breast cancer tissue in tissue culture studies.

Precocious puberty or puberty among young girls below 8 years is one of the effects of Xeno estrogens. Studies across America, Europe and Asia suggest that irrespective of race and economic conditions, the earlier onset of puberty is attributed to the environmental chemical exposure. Precocious puberty has been studied to lead to significant psychological distress, poor self image and poor self esteem in a young girl. It has also shown to lead to reduced adult height, paediatric & adult obesity, gynaecological disorders like endometriosis, poly cystic ovarian disorder and infertility.

Nonylphenols are chemicals used in laundry and dish detergents, cleaners and emulsifiers, paints, pesticides and in personal wash products. Since the discovery of Nonyl phenol in 1940, its production has been growing every year – it is now a high production volume chemical, with 100 million- 500 million pounds of NPE being produced globally every year.

4synthetic dishwash

Nonylphenol persists in aquatic environments and can take months or longer to degrade in water and soil. Because Nonylphenol is used in so many cleaning products which “go down the drain” like dishwash products and detergent products, it is a ready contaminant into sewage and water supply. Nonyl phenol bio-accumulates inside the body, and is a potent endocrine disrupter.

Synergistic effect of Nonyl Phenol:

As already mentioned, one of the most troubling problems of ingredients like Nonyl phenol which are used as filler in pesticides for their “inert” properties is their ability to work synergistically with other chemicals and multiply their toxic effect on humans.

Current regulations around Nonyl Phenol:

The EU has eliminated the use of Nonyl Phenol and its ethoxylate in most industrial and product sectors. Canada has implemented a pollution prevention plant to drastically reduce the use of NP/NPE.  The US EPA plans to encourage voluntary phase of using NP/NPE in industrial laundry detergents.

In India this is not yet regulated.

Products that contain Nonyl Phenol & Nonyl Phenol Ethoxylate:

Used as a surfactant in shaving creams, detergents, dishwash, hair dyes, hair styling products and pesticides. It is difficult to ascertain if your brand contains this chemical as it is a feedstock chemical which is usually unlisted.

A quick Sum -up: 3 possible carcinogenic chemicals to avoid at home:

Pink could be the colour of happiness. But it is not , in the case of beauty or consumer products, especially those marketed with a pink ribbon to provide awareness and support for breast cancer.  Our article discusses just 3 kinds of toxic chemicals that are commonly found in Indian homes today in their cleaning, skin or hair care products. The US FDA lists over 100,000 industrial chemicals in use today!

Parabens, phthalates and Nonyl Phenol and its ethoxylate find their way into several of the products we use for ourselves, our children and in our home. The worrying problem behind these chemicals is that they come to us in innocuous and friendly looking products like that bottle of nail pain, our favourite brand of deodorant, or simply, our dishwashing liquid that promised to carry the power of 100 lemons in each drop.

As most of these formulations do not declare what exactly goes into them, we would never be able to tell if our favorite brand of synthetic shampoo is actually free from parabens and phthaltes or not. Hence in the spirit of extreme caution and avoiding adding any manner of toxicity to the body, we advise a through and deep detox of all synthetics from your personal and home care list.

Specifically for those trying to conceive, pregnant women, women with a family history of PCOD and endometriosis and breast cancer should avoid using synthetic deodorants, nail paints, synthetic shampoos, bodywashes and shower gels, and also industrial cleaning products like detergent and dishwash products. A wide variety of alternatives exist which are completely natural and avoid using such potentially dangerous synthetics.

Having read this post, you may be left with a deep feeling of “why”. Why do companies use these chemicals? Is it out of malice? Are they out to get us? Are they as unaware as we are? Our next post will look at common myths and facts when formulating household products. Hopefully some more answers will emerge there.

This article is a part of Krya’s series on toxics in household and personal care products. Through this series, we hope to inform, educate and inspire you to look around your home and detox it and yourself from the harmful action of more than 100,000 suspect industrial chemicals that surround human life today.

 

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Sadhana : The why & how of a Spiritual Practice

The why & how of a Spiritual Sadhana
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Reading Time: 23 minutes

A Spiritual Practice is high on our prescription list whenever we encounter deranged vata, high anxiety, extreme stress, grief, deranged vata, or when people struggle with chronic or debilitating illnesses either with themselves or in the role of a caregiver.

This prescription comes straight from the Ayurvedic texts as the Acharyas tell us that a physical disease has its roots in the mind and our responses to situation. Therefore cleansing, and control of the mind and reining it with structure, discipline and “good mental food” is part of the ayurvedic Dinacharya.

A sustained and disciplined Spiritual Practice helps us choose happiness. We learn to respond to difficult situations from a better and more balanced place. It also gives us tremendous control over our physical body, reins in illnesses and weaknesses and helps us achieve our goals.

Regular spiritual practice is key to healthy and happy life

Many times when we have suggested starting a Spiritual Practice, we have been asked what this means and what all it would constitute. This post is therefore our detailed answer to this question.

Before we begin, here is a disclaimer from our end. The post describes what we believe is an ideal Spiritual Practice. This in no way means that we are qualified Gurus . We too are seekers on this path, and have shared our personal experiences through this post.

We have limited this post to Spiritual Practice derived from Santana Dharma (Hinduism) alone as this is what we follow. We are not qualified to suggest a Spiritual Practice for other faiths / denominations. For these, we suggest you read this post as a starting point and then speak to an elder / teacher within your faith to take this further.

An Introduction to Spiritual Practice :  from the Adi Kaavya

The very first shloka of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana, which is the Adi-Kavya , the first ever written work, gives us very deep & complete insights into the nature of both Sadhana & the Sadhaka.

Srimad Valmiki Ramayana is the holiest of spiritual texts and is highly regarded as being equal to the Vedas themselves. This work of divine origin is endowed with several layers of deep meaning and each stage of meaning reveals itself to the aspirant who applies himself with steadfast devotion. So we can be absolutely sure that we are on the right path if we take instructions from this work, which has been personally blessed and authorized by Lord Rama himself.

The Ramayana - a foundation for all spiritual Practice

The first Shloka is as follows :

तपस्स्वाध्यायनिरतं तपस्वी वाग्विदां वरम् ।

नारदं परिपप्रच्छ वाल्मीकिर्मुनिपुङ्गवम् ।।1.1.1।।

 

The word-by-word meaning of the above sloka is as follows :

“The Ascetic Valmiki enquires of Sage Narada, who is the most pre-eminent of sages , one who is most eloquent in speech and who is completely engaged in austerities and the study of vedas.”

There are 4 important concepts clearly expounded in the above sloka :

a. Shabda : words of a great Guru

The word of a great person ,a very reliable authority. The ascetic Valmiki, begins his enquiry by approaching Sage Narada, who is clearly established in all the worlds as an true and reliable source of correct information. So this illustrates the point that we should always begin a serious endeavor on the authority of a great person of unquestionable character and knowledge. We cannot afford to take any risk and base our actions on the word of an unknown on un-reliable person.

Shabda of teh words uttered by a great Man forms the basis for spiritual practice

In fact, in Indian knowledge systems , there are a standard set of  accepted methods of proof (Pramana) of anything, including a proper Spiritual Practice which are

    • Pratyaksha – direct perception
    • Anumana – Inference
    • Shabda – the word of a great authority or source

Hence “Shabda” or the words of a wise and Great Guru is critical for the foundation of any kind of Spiritual Practice.

Similarly, the whole system of Ayurveda has been based on the 3 methods of proof of Pratyaksha, Pramana and Shabda. Therefore when we make an Ayurvedic taila or a choorna, we do not base it on our own instinct or a new trend. Instead we choose herbs, preparation methods from the texts which is based on the Pratyaksha + Pramana + Shabda of the Great Acharyas. This reliance on a long, well thought out clear tradition with clear antecedents is what makes the ayurvedic formulations fool proof, error free, safe and still potent and good to use – this .

Ayurveda is also based on the 3 pillars of proof of Indian classical texts

b. Guru-Sishya : teacher – student relationship

The need for a Guru,  in Indian tradition is to guide, encourage and bless us . In sadhana, a true guru is of paramount importance and this is one the most important pillars of Sanatana Dharma .

Guru sishya relationship: cornerstone of sanatana dharma

Many volumes can be written about the vital role of a Guru in our life. This is why this concept is illustrated clearly in the Taittiriya Upanishad as “ Acharya Devoh Bhavah” i.e. the teacher is to be revered as a god. In the shloka mentioned above, Valmiki approaches Sage Narada as a Sishya would approach a Guru.

 c. Tapas-Svadhyaya : austerity, sacrifice and self study

These two great words Tapas & Svadhyaya reveal the heart of spiritual practice.

Tapas , which means austerity or discipline , contains a wealth of meaning for a single word. Spiritual Practice is a discipline, for which we need to put in effort and hard work, perhaps give up un-necessary distractions and apply ourselves.

Tapas: the practice of prioritising Sadhana and making sacrifices for Sadhana

Our sincere effort is the fuel for the spiritual practice and nothing is going happen if we don’t discipline ourselves. The actual details of the sacrifices and disciplines will apply to every part of our life from food rules, sleeping and waking times, taking care of our body, right company, thoughtful speech, honest vocation, commitment to our duties & family (dharma) etc

 Svadhyaya, literally means the daily self-study of the vedas. So this essentially means applying ourselves to regular, daily study of holy texts and scriptures. This definition does NOT apply to reading self-help books or reading technical books for your work and certainly not to fiction.

Swadhyaya - dedicated self study and practice of Spiritual Sadhana

This definition strictly means the daily ,devoted self-study of holy texts like the vedas, Upanishads , itihasas, puranas, smritis ( also ,from #2 above , when you get doubts in svadhayaya, you will automatically feel the need for a guru !)

In the shloka, Sage Narada is described as Tapas-Svadhyaya Nirattam – one who is constantly engaged in the austerities and study of the Vedas, and these qualities that mark him as a great sage (Muni Pungavam)

d. Sadhana is mandatory for All:

Even for the exalted Sage Narada, who is of divine origin, constant daily sadhana is mandatory. In fact, it is the daily disciplines that elevate him to his pre-eminent status among sages and he cannot stop his sadhana after achieving greatness.

There is a clear directive in this shloka that spiritual sadhana is required for everyone regardless of their status and it is a constant endeavor. This is another important lakshana (mark) of a true Guru – He / she is constantly practicing their spiritual sadhana with utmost rigour, before advising you. You must always assure yourself that a prospective Guru is first upholding Tapas & Svadhyaya, before giving them that exalted position of your teacher.

Swadhyaya mandatory for all everyday

Why do we need a Spiritual Practice?

 Sadhana, or spiritual practice is simply the work required to reach a state of permanent god-consciousness, which is an end in itself.

As Shri Ramanujacharya states in his seminal work , the Sri Bhasya, True Bhakti or perfect god consciousness is demonstrated as “Avichinna Taila Dhara Vat” – which means that true Bhakti or god-consciousness is perfectly smooth, continuous and un-interrupted like the flow of Taila (oil) from one container to another.

Bhakti is described as Avichinna taila dhara

A human being is a composite of 3 entities – the Mind (Manas) , the Physical body (Shareera) and the Soul (Atman).

The mind perceives the world through the 5 sense organs and if unchecked, the sense organs completely take control and leads the body into all kinds of troubles and diseases. A stable and steady mind , with the sense organs in control , helps us lead a life of balance and harmony. The control of the 5 sense organs appears as an important theme in the Bhagavad Gita and Sage Patanjali famously starts his instructions on yoga with the statement : Yogah citta-vritti Nirodah.

But beyond the mind and the body, we have the soul, the Atman.

Sadhana is for the Atma

It is very obvious to all of us that there is a “spirit” within all of us – which we call the Atman or Soul , hence the term “spiritual practice” – because these is an in-dwelling soul, the Atman , which is clearly different from the physical body covering it, we are able to differentiate between life and death. This spirit within us, is what animates us and gives the sense of “life” to the body outside. Hence like we need food, sleep and exercise for the physical body, we surely need daily sadhana or spiritual practice for our soul.

 

The presence of “3  parts” to each of us is clearly illustrated in Ayurveda, especially in the sections on conceptions. Here the Acharyas have clearly stated that without the presence of a willing soul / atma, conception cannot take place. Hence the parents to be are asked to do a strong spiritual Practice in order to access their higher state of being, make a connection to the divine and Invite a pure and evolved soul to make its journey in this world through them as Parents.

Conception does not occur without a willing atma prepared to be born to the parents to be

The Acharyas tell us that Parents with evolved Spiritual consciousnesses through daily Sadhana of a Spiritual Practice are able to attract highly evolved souls as Children. Such parents are considered to be blessed and worthy of high praise, as they are able to give the world highly evolved beings who can do their Dharma well and help many other people in their journey. It is not enough for Parents to be to be simply in good physical health and take their ante natal vitamins according to ayurveda. They should also be practicing to uplift their spiritual quotient in order to both attract and raise an evolved soul.

The importance of Sadhana or Spiritual Practice in Indian tradition

Classical Indian texts tell us that there are 3 pillars for the foundation of a  spiritual life :

  • Tattva – the Nature of reality (and the discussion on the relation of man and god)
  • Purushartha – the Goals of life , which are Dharma , Artha , Kama & Moksha
  • Sadhana – The means to attain the Purusharthas mentioned above.

Sadhana has a triple purpose in Indian Spirituality. It helps us understand and come to terms with “Tattva” . It also helps us achieve our Purusharthas with ease, clarity and balance.

But over and above these 2 goals, Sadhana is a goal unto itself. This is because it is the means to achieve the both happiness in material life and also help us attain the ultimate aim of Moksha. Therefore there is a tremendous body of divine knowledge in India which has been developed by the Great Masters to guide us and give a clear blue-print on how to live our lives.

The purpose of Sadhana is 3 fold: to understand relaity, achieve life goals and as a goal in itself

Sustained Sadhana clarifies and purifies our intellect , making it fit to receive Jnana , true knowledge which leads to Moksha. While this is the big picture , Sadhana also bestows a lot of bliss , happiness and strength to succeed in the material life as well.

Ayurvedic texts also clearly discuss the importance of spiritual practice in the section on Dinacharya or daily regimen. The 5 fundamental elements, Akash, Prithvi, Vayu, Agni & Jala combine uniquely to form the 3 doshas of the body – Vata, Pitta & Kapha, so too the human mind operates in 3 gunas or modes know as Sattva , Rajas & Tamas.

The texts say that the derangement of the 3 doshas causes physical disease and the derangement of the 3 Mano-Gunas causes mental or psychic diseases. Right conduct in our daily life helps maintain correct balance of the Mano gunas and this is achieved through consistent spiritual disciplines.

What constitutes Sadhana or Spiritual Practice?

 Once you are clear in your mind that you need a spiritual practice, the next question obviously is this: What constitutes Sadhana or Spiritual Practice?

  • Is it meditation? Is it Prayer ? Visiting temples ?
  • Is it living mindfully in the present moment ?

Luckily, these questions have been troubling mankind from the dawn of time and we have a number of instructions derived from Great Masters who have drawn direct references from authoritative texts.

The Indian tradition of Vedas, Upanishas, Itithasas, Puranas , Smritis are vast , extensive , comprehensive , authoritative and mind-boggling.

For example, the Bhagavad Gita in 18 chapters is the most authoritative text on Yoga and in the 4th chapter , lord Krishna defines 12 different types of Spiritual Sadhana to achieve perfection. Yet these are at the abstract , conceptual level , and it is difficult for us to translate these instructions into our daily lives.

Gita is an authoritative text on Sadhana

It is beyond the reach of most of us to make an authentic and wide study of these texts and arrive at a program for ourselves , hence we rely on the works of Great Masters to give us a program – however a vital point to note here is this : The spiritual practices are NOT the opinions or thoughts of these masters, they have merely helped us navigate the vast world of authoritative texts and their works are always based on first principles.

One must also remember that there are some fundamental philosophical differences in the works of the masters. So if your family has traditionally followed a particular school of thought (Sampradya) , then you must stick to that school and not try to look beyond the instructions of that school.

I have given below some examples of texts on spiritual practices by great masters , to give an idea of what is Sadhana. While there are numerous texts in India  , these are some of the well known ones.

a. The Narada Bhakti-Sutras

 In this post we once again take the assistance of Sage Narada – who we met at the beginning. In his Bhakti Sutras, Sage Narada gives us 84 extra-ordinary Sutras divided into 5 chapters, with clear guidance on the goal and the sadhana techniques to achieve the goal.

Sage Narada has written the Bhakti sutras for achieving spiritual prowess

b. Sadhana Panchakam of Adi Shankaracharya

 A student of the eminent Advaita Vedanta Philosopher, Adi Shankaracharya, asked him the direct question – What is the essence of Spiritual Practice ?

Adi Sankara composed the Sadhana panchakam

In response, the great master composed the “Sadhana Panchakam  or  “5 verses on Sadhana” . In these 5 concise yet comprehensive verses, he lists 40 different instructions on how to lead a spiritual life and achieve the ultimate aims of human existence.

c. Sadachara Smriti By Sri Madhvacharya

Sri Madhvacharya, the Dwaita Philpsopher , along with Adi Shankaracharya & Sri Ramanujacharya are the 3 prinicipal teachers of Vedanta. To help his followers,he has composed a short work in 35 Sanskrit shlokas called “Sadachara Smriti” – Or the instructions in Right Living.

Madhwacharya wrote Sadachara Smriti

This work is great starting point for spiritual practice , as Madhvacharya gives very clear prescriptions on how we should structure our day and this work is very lucid and not at all abstract. But as with all great masters, he has ensured that these prescriptions are comprehensive and complete. Even though this is a small text , it is very profound in its impact.

d. Dasabodha of Samarth Ramdas

 Swami Samarth Ramdas, was a 17th century Advaita philosophy Guru and the spiritual preceptor to Chattrapati Shivaji. He has composed a massive tome called “Dasabodha” or “ instructions to disciples” , which is another valuable work for those following that Sampradaya on how to construct their lives.

Samarth Ramdas wrote Dasabodha

Similarly many valuable works by the masters of different Sampradya’s exist in order to guide the followers on a well-structured spiritual path. Some more examples are :

  • Shodhash Grantha of Shri Vallabhacharya
  • Sadachar  Prakash of Shri Nimbarka
  • Shiksa Ashtakam of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

 

For one or more of the following reasons , I have deliberately referred to works by Sages of ancient India and not great men of recent times.

  1. Recency bias : Many of the modern masters are very close to us temporally , so we have a large amount of internet based resources , books , videos, pictures , discussions and hagiographic accounts given by direct disciples – the large volume of readily available online information clouds out the ancient masters but that is not a good reason to NOT know the ancient masters.
  2. Purity of doctrine (or) absence of Syncretism : The ancient masters outlined their doctrine in its pristine form with great adherence to textual evidence. Due to several hundreds of foreign invasions of India in the last few centuries, the modern masters had no choice but to follow a syncretic path and in my opinion it is very important to know the original doctrine well before studying the syncretic works.
  3. Re-energizing dormant Spirituality : By their own , admission, many modern masters acknowledge that they have nothing new to teach – their purpose is to merely re-energize the dormant spirituality in society through the timeless principles of Dharma
  4. Importance of Disciplic Succession : This is a very important point to ensure authenticity of teachings. All Sampradayas should have a clear Guru-Parampara or Disciplic succession , which traces the lineage of the current head all the way back to the Supreme creator of the world. By establishing this lineage through authentic accounts, we are assured that we are following a sound doctrine. Sadly, many modern teachers have literally sprung out of thin air, with no clear initiation by a acknowledged Guru and neither do they have proper successors. So it is extremely risky to trust our spiritual bank account to teachers without a clear lineage. It may work or it may not. The risk is too high.

7 Key Themes of All Indian Schools for Spiritual Sadhana

 After you conduct a comprehensive study of all instruction manuals of Indian systems of Sadhana, some important common elements can be easily observed

a. Preparing the body, to be fit for Sadhana :

Without fail , in all spiritual texts and Ayurvedic textbooks , we are exhorted to wake up before sunrise, in Brahma Muhurta, have a Snana, wear fresh clothes, apply the religious marks on our body as per our tradition and then remember God and our Gurus. This is the ideal, recommended start to our day for both spiritual progress and great health.

Prepare the body for spiritual practice

The steps outlined above for preparation to be fit for Sadhana i.e waking up early, having an Abhyanga-Snana, wearing fresh clothes, are all potent Ayurvedic practices that is deeper than what is obvious. They help build discipline, balance the 3 doshas and are designed to remove tamas and sloth from the mind and the body.

For example: In Ayurveda, a very potent medical tool to balance aggravated Kapha dosha in diseases like diabetes is to simply regulate sleep. By controlling the number of hours slept, the time of waking up and regulating afternoon naps, we are able to achieve an extraordinary balance in kapha dosha leading to regulation of blood sugar levels. This example is given the illustrate the power behind each of the so called simple preparatory steps listed in this point.

The application of religious marks on our body is an extra-ordinary subject in itself and deserves a separate article to fully describe its importance. In Sanatana Dharma this could encompass wearing a tilak, a bindi, an urdhva pundrum , or a “thiru neetru pattai ” (viboothi), gopi-chandan, etc. Both the substance used to wear the appropriate religious marks (vibhooti, thiruman kaapu, Kumkum, gopi Chandan), and the act of applying the mark on your forehead has deep spiritual significance – and helps clarify and open the ajna chakra. We will write a separate, more detailed post on this in the future.

Prepare teh 3rd eye for higher consciousness

b. Remain in God-Consciousness in everything you do

Remaining in God-consciousness is central to all Spiritual Sadhana :, in every thing we do. An atheistic or secular Sadhana has not been defined at all in all Indian traditions and is in fact to be strictly avoided. The method of god-remembrance is through chanting shlokas, japa , lighting lamps, worshipping at temples and a proper and complete Upasana ( or worship of the Physical form of god) at our home.

Even when we exercise and take care of the body, god consciousness is encouraged. Despite the non religious nature of yoga abhyasa today, its roots lie in the deepest form of God Consciousness. Here the entire body is worshiped as a temple with God / divinity residing within. So yoga and pranayama is done both as a method of cleaning the inner temple and also to go closer to the divinity within.

While the above form a specific portion of our day, i,e our daily Puja / Worship, we are encouraged to remain in God consciousness through the day in everything we do. So we are asked to practice God consciousness while brushing our teeth, eating, cooking, dressing, commuting, working , surfing the net, chatting with colleagues, etc.

Remain in god consciousness throughout the day
So this state of being slowly begins to permeate through our speech, thought, desires, the way we respond to external situations, the way we eat, etc. This state of entering and remaining in God-Consciousness is the secret key to all spiritual success.

c. Paramount Importance of Nitya-Karma (daily duties)

Nitya-Karma or our daily obligations are to be performed without fail , on all days. These supersede voluntary spiritual activities like visiting a temple. Nitya Karmas are well defined and examples are : waking up before sunrise, Snana, Sandhya-Vandana , Upasana , eating as per proper food rules , choosing a Dharmic Vocation , doing that vocation to the best of one’s ability , performing the role of spouse or parent with utmost dedication.

In Indian spiritual tradition, we are assured that no matter what our life stage is, the proper discharge of duties itself constitutes half our spiritual sadhana. Hence seeking a  spiritual path is open to all, not just renunciates, or anyone from a particular gender, creed, community , etc.

Similarly the proper discharge of our responsibilities be it at home, or at work is itself considered a sadhana. This is especially true when we choose the right vocation / career and seek to fulfill our highest moral and spiritual values through our work.

The loving & involved discharge of our duty is also part of Spiritual Sadhana

Even if we chose not to work, raising our children well, looking after our parents, or developing ourselves is also considered Sadhana in Sanatana Dharma.

 d. Need for a Guru :

There is no spiritual practice in a perfect vacuum or all by oneself. It has been clearly established in all Indian doctrines that a true Guru to guide us is absolutely necessary. How to find our true Guru is an important subject in itself.

 e. Svadhyaya :

This is another vital pillar of spiritual practice. The Daily, devoted self-study of holy texts and scriptures. This is an absolutely guaranteed route to purifying and elevating the mind.

 In Indian tradition, we are advised to keep copies of certain essential texts at home like the Ramayana, a portion of the Ramayana like the Sundara Kanda, Devi Mahatmayam, and the Bhagavad Geeta. In addition we can also keep copies of certain Puranas like the Bhagawata Purana, Padma Purana, etc.

The daily reading of good spiritual texts is a part ofSadhana

A small portion of our day can be devoted to reading a small portion of any of these texts every day, or even just a single stotra. The reading and re-reading of these texts give great spiritual strength, resilience, clarity of purpose and purity of thought.

For example: in many south Indian homes, a reading of the Sundara Kaanda (the portion of the Ramayana which spans a single day encompassing Lord Hanuman’s search for Sita Devi in Sri Lanka) is considered strengthening and auspicious especially in moments of great trouble. We are asked to practice reading of this Kaanda alone when people are ill, unwell, when we are going through a  tremendous crises of faith and when we seem to have exhausted all our logical options.

Another example is the dedicated reading of the Devi Mahaatmayam during Navratri. Over 9 days, during this spiritually charged period, we read the entire story behind the origin of Devi Durga, the battles she fought and are taught using divine parables the virtue of great courage, resilience, femininity, divine spirit, etc.

These practices are a beautiful exercise in positive visualization, strength giving and brings tremendous purpose and clarity. It is also a very handy tool to engage with the mind and spirit at a higher level, and give the mind a better rock to hold onto during moments of crisis.

Different people connect with different such texts. We encourage you to try out a few of the above options and see which one resonates most with you.

The safest spiritual books to start with are Ramayana, Ramcharitra Manas, Bhagawad Gita , Bhagavata Purana and Sundara Kanda. Among Puranas, please choose the Sattvic Puranas to start with.

Please avoid Puranas which are not supposed to be kept and read at home like the Garuda Purana. When in doubt, please consult the elders in your family or your family’s Upadhyay. This information is not reliably available online.

 f. Satsanga , Satsanga , Satsanga :

The company of Holy & good people. From the dawn of time , every Indian Sampradaya has been exhorting the importance of Satsanga – which is the company of Holy & Good people and how by the mere association , we are accelerated on the fast track in spiritual progress. Equally important is the avoidance of bad people or Dur-Sangati. One must actively thirst/yearn for Satsanga and also be very aware of who we keep company with. Satsanga is extremely powerful and totally overlooked.

Choose your Sangha (community) carefully

 The concept of Satsangha is repeatedly explained in the Ayurvedic texts, along with Shlokas on right conduct, learning to keep the mind in control, etc. The Acharyas opine that even a very well brought up person from a family with good values can be led astray with Dur Sangha. In fact the choosing of our friends, associates, workplace and which colleagues we would like to associate with is a critical step in our spiritual evolution. The right company can help us progress and progress with us. The wrong company can completely devalue our spiritual progress and set us back by a few decades.

 g. Japa (Repetition of a Mantra or the Lord’s Name):

Japa ,the constant mindful , mental chanting of a mantra or the Lord’s name is very central to all spiritual Sampradayas. It is truly good fortune to get initiated by a Guru who can chose an mantra for you. If not, you can easily chose a mantra of your favorite Ista Devata and start Japa. The masters have assured us that this pillar of spiritual practice is guaranteed to put us on a good path and take us where we need to go.

The simplest and most potent Japa to start with is “Rama”. This japa was able to even transform a simple robber to a Maha rishi and a poet when he mechanically chanted this mantra in reverse unknowingly (“Mara, “Mara” chanted by Valmiki).

Kapa chanting is a potent tool of Sadhana.

 So What should I do to Start my Spiritual Practice Right Away ?

This is the most obvious difficulty for all of us neophytes – where do I start ? What concrete and easy steps can I take right now ? So based on personal experiences, here are a number of easy and effective starting  points

Learn your Gotra & Nakshatra :

Across India, we have a tradition of identifying our biological lineage through the Gotra system and also the ruling Nakshatra on the day of our birth. In sanatana Dharma, every one and their family has a gotra. No one is left out of the Gotra system.

However, Many of us are not even aware of the names of our Gotra / Nakshatra. If this is the case, please check with your family and firmly identify your Gotra & Nakshatra.

The Gotra system traces our biological ancestry to a set of sages who were present at the dawn of time. These sages are extra-ordinary and realized souls who are eager to help us and ensure our welfare.

In Indian tradition these Rishis are “Nitya Suris” – immortal and ever present across all worlds. As our ancestors, they are awake to our calls asking for our help and are ever ready to reach out and help you.

Rishi from Gotra is a potent seer and guru

But they cannot interfere in your life without you actively seeking their help. You must seek them. They have utmost respect for your free-will and choice. By merely knowing their name and meditating on them, you will activate a very powerful source of guidance and benedictions. We have already discussed the vital importance of a Guru , and your ancient ancestor will help you in that quest along with other blessings.

Identify your Family’s Sampradaya :

In India, it is very likely that your family belongs to a well-established Sampradya, like those discussed earlier. In the spiritual quest , there is No greater advantage than traditional family adherence to a Sampradya. If you can easily identify this, then you should not look for other Gurus and other systems.

Your family has likely found success through the principles and practices of this Sampradaya and it is not correct to abandon this tradition with serious cause. Moreover, you already have the blessings of the Gurus of this lineage – all you need is to activate them.

Most vitally, all spiritual quests must make the family unit stronger and not weaker. If a member of the family suddenly starts off on a new Sampradaya or aligns themselves to a new Guru , it can cause serious rifts in the families progress. This is the problem with many new cults of god-men. They really isolate a key member of family from their tradition and cause serious troubles. It is usually a very bad idea to abandon a long-held family Sampradaya in favour of a new ,shiny Guru.

Create a Small Puja Room / Alcove ( your spiritual office)

 Spiritual Sadhana is serious work. It will not happen in your balcony or living room. You need to allocate an official space for this quest. If not available already you can create a small alcove with pictures of your Ishta-Devta.

You should light a lamp with cotton wicks and A2 cow ghee along with incense sticks daily in this space. There is special relationship between high quality Cow ghee and Agni – cow ghee is considered “the havis” or “best offering” for Agni Bhagawan. It also carries immense spiritual vitality and clarity and helps purify the space around it. This is the reason we suggest lighting a pure ghee lamp – when lighting a lamp, it is important to make offerings which are of the same or better quality than what you consume or use.

Currently there is a practice of offering slightly inferior quality ghee or “lamp oil” in your Puja, This is absolutely wrong. In our spiritual practice, we are appealing to the highest of our selves and then connecting that highest of selves to the divine. So every offering we make to this highest of selves must be pure, elevated and of extraordinarily high quality.

This spiritual office, is also the area for respectfully storing your holy texts , to do your Svadhyaya & Japa. With regular sadhana, this becomes a highly charged space which can re-charge your spiritual batteries and re-energize you. If would be very ideal if you can allocate a closed room for this purpose.

The pooja room is your spiritual office

 

The allocation of a “spiritual office” is an important investment. IF the energies in this room are regularly built up through your daily sadhana, this is like a charged battery waiting to uplift you when you are low. Therefore it is ideal to keep this space private and work in this space everyday to recharge yourself and the space.

 Start Swadhayaya :

The Srimad Valmiki Ramayana , Bhagavad Gita ,Sundara Kaanda portion of Ramayana ,the 5 Satvika Puranas ( Bhagavatam, Narada, Vishnu , Varaha & Padma) , the 10 principal Upanishads are amazing starting points for Svadhyaya. Of course these are all in Sanskrit , so it would be ideal to procure a copy that has the original Sanskrit text along with English translation for your Svadhayaya.

Begin your swadhyaya

Beyond these timeless texts, we also have great regional texts like the Ramcharitmanas, which are also good starting points. From personal experience, even the careful study of the English translation of an important text, we can derive tremendous benefits.

Start Japa & Puja of Ishta-Devta

 Many of us would have an Ishta-devta or favorite deity ,especially from childhood memory , one who has captivated us in some way.

Doing a simple puja to the Ishta Devta through decoration with fresh flowers, lighting of good ghee lamp and offering food for the Ishta Devta is a good way to invite their presence into your life. It is quite simple to learn the basic moola mantras of these deities and start chanting them with regular frequency daily. This again activates powerful latent forces within us and from outside as well.

Puja & Japa of Ishta devtha

This practice also powerfully re-charges our home space. The aura of the home is more positive, healing and gives us vibrancy, positivity and the ability to heal.

 Visit Temples Regularly ( if possible , ancient Temples) :

India’s temples, built as per specific Agamas, are its priceless treasures. They are all around us, open every single day without fail from ancient times, have free entry and are guaranteed to help us in many different ways.

The mere act of visiting a temple near you home daily or once a week is yet another exceptional spiritual practice and will surely benefit us massively. But we need to make the conscious effort to visit temples , to actively seek the priceless spiritual gifts within them.

We suggest visiting ancient temples which are well worshipped in to access the huge fount of stored positive spiritual energy within them. A good temple visit can give you a full battery recharge and wipe your mind free of negative and depressive thoughts with fresh and renewed purpose and clarity.

Visit more temples

The faith and belief of the devotees, sincerity of the priests, construction of temple to conserve spiritual energy as per Agama , Vastu & Shilpa sastra and power concentrated in the Archa Moorthy all work together to give you this cleansing and spiritual experience.

A temple must be visited as a separate visit in itself at first. We suggest proper preparation like visiting the temple after fresh Snana, wearing of clothes especially chosen for the temple (traditional dress is best), and on a comparatively empty stomach.

In our experience a temple visit can fill you with pranic shakti and energy – if you have visited on a full stomach, this can leave you uncomfortable, disoriented and sometimes with feelings of nausea as the body has literally received too much nourishment.

 Actively seek Satsanga

 Satsanga is a very important and over-looked spiritual Sadhana. It is the company of holy and good people. Now this is why the earlier point of regularly visiting temples is vital. You are un-likely to find Satsanga in a bar or a mall or even in your office. For urban Indians, the ancient temples are their best friend in developing Satsanga. Down-right bad people are un-likely to be found in temples as well.

As you perform Sadhana by the other methods mentioned above, your spiritual antennae will develop and guide you in identifying these holy & good people. With spiritual sadhana, many down-right bad people will also stop crossing your paths. You must actively seek Satsanga –  finding it is an art and an interesting journey.

 

To Sum up:

In traditional Indian works, is to customary to begin with a request for blessings from the almighty. So there was a deliberate choice of starting this post with the first shloka of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana, which is sure to bless all our endeavors with success.

 In traditional Indian works it is also customary to end with a Phala-Shruti Shloka, which means a shloka which explains the benefits that will accrue to the reader as a result of reading and following that work.

 Since our sincere endeavor in this post is to provide a simple outline of Spiritual Sadhana, we choose to end this post with the Shanti Mantra from the Taittirya Upanishad , which nicely summarizes the objectives of this post and we are sure that the regular chanting and meditation upon this mantra will help us in the spiritual path.

 सह नाववतु ।
सह नौ भुनक्तु ।
सह वीर्यं करवावहै ।
तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 ayurvedic strategies that help reduce Digital Addiction

are you a digital addict?
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Reading Time: 13 minutes

Kanye West did it. So did Ed Sheeran. Research tells us that when we practice this , our memory becomes sharper, we are able to sleep deeper, our posture becomes better, we are able to form more meaningful connections with people, and that we are open to more life changing perspectives and decisions.

What am I talking about? A Digital Detox program.

A conversation on another group I am a part of spurred this post. The author of the post shared that she felt that she was “digitally addicted” to social media and found that she had developed a need to stay connected and consume vast amounts of information. So she reached out asking for help and suggestions to help her digitally de-addict.

The number of responses in this discussion made me realise how much of a digital addiction problem all of us have. I began working at a time when I had no cell phone. I have even resisted using a cellphone for 2 – 3 years entirely and I avoided using a smartphone or using apps for a very long time. Yes even I find myself inexorably drawn to my smartphone. The ease of buying with pre-installed apps has left even someone like me, a self confessed Ludite, far more digitally addicted than I would like to be.

are you suffering from digital addiction?

Therefore I have written this post drawing on ayurvedic strategies to help everyone do a Daily Digital Detox. This post also shares the ayurvedic reasoning behind this, explains about the nature of vata dosha and how vata dosha is powerfully aggravated with digital addiction and what we can do everyday to control this addiction.

Background : Why it is critical to keep Vata Dosha in balance

We are all made of a combination of vata, pitta and kapha dosha. Each Dosha has its own set of functions in the body. The amicable and harmonious team work of all doshas in the body gives us a body in a state of health and balance and Mano gunas (mental traits) which are cheerful, positive and in control.

A combination of teh 5 great elemnts in balance gives us the correct and harmonious working of the mind and body

Vata dosha is made up of a combination of 2 Pancha mahaboothas (primordial elements) of Vayu (air) and Akash (space / ether). Hence vata dosha can be described as a combination of Mobility and lightness and speed due to the presence of Vayu and vast emptiness due to presence of Akash mahabootha.

Only Vata dosha has “Akash” or Space as a primordial element within it. This explains many symptoms of disease when vata is affected and also helps us understand the structural composition of organ systems which are givereend by Vata dosha.

When Vata dosha is in balance, the body has the ability of speed, lightness, mobility and the willingness to accept change. Vata dosha in balance gives us enthusiasm, creative fire, speed, willingness to get up and move the body, the capacity to talk in an animated and creative fashion. Vata dosha also helps provide “excitation” to the brain and is what get us “firing” with new ideas, thoughts, unique ways of doing things etc.

in balance, vata dosha gives us energy, creativity, mobility and lightness

Vata Dosha also governs important body systems. It governs all organs of movement (entire musculo skeletal movement) and governs transportation of all fluids, foods and wastes through the body and out of the body. So Vata in balance gives us timely “excretion” of urine, and bowel movements. Vata in balance gives us easy removal of menstrual wastes.

Due to the nature of urban living, the foods we consume and the high level of mental excitation, access to new information, fried food and vata exciting devices, most of us have an imbalanced Vata dosha (as it has been over used / over excited).

When vata dosha is over -used, it imbalances rather dramatically leaving you with insomnia, panic attacks, mood swings and depressive states, inability to fall asleep easily, tendency to wake up in the middle of the night several times apart from other issues. It also leads to catches in the muscular skeletal system, porosity of bones, weak teeth etc as the air in these parts increases due to excitation of Vata.

When vata is over used it leads to highs and lows in mental states besides many physical issues

Aggravated Vata dosha also leads to a chicken and egg situation which we will read about further . It leads to addictive behavior which in turn further excites Vata Dosha.

Digital Addiction and Vata dosha:

There is a growing body of research in Ayurveda which links the over use of smartphones and social media and even news to this state of imbalanced and over used vata dosha.

Vata dosha is light, mobile and subtle. Hence as these devices radiate at a minute level, are used close to the body, and use “Vayu “and “Akash” to pass signals, they easily stimulate and excite the nerve endings and subtle channels in the body causing minute, almost imperceptible movements in the body.

The medium and very nature of social media excites vata dosha

Due to this subtle excitation of cells, and due to the nature of the signals passed by these devices, and their nature of proving interesting and fresh stimulation to the mind, the overall vata dosha in the head and body is excited.

In fact in many kinds of addiction (binge watching of television, alcohol, smoking, shopping, binge-eating etc), we can see the excitation of Vata dosha as a cyclical cause of the addiction. The addiction excites Vata dosha which gives us the “crack cocaine effect” which in turn leads to further addictive behaviour . Thus, we keep on steadily unbalancing and aggravating Vata dosha.

Any kind of addictive behavior has its roots in vata aggravation and also triggers vata aggravation

Over using the cell phone to talk: an example of vata aggravation

Many times, after a long call, we feel “buzzed”. The ear feels over heated. We are unable to shut down and feel the need to visibly calm down. This is an example where the use of a vata exciting device on an organ dominated by Vata dosha has led to vata aggravation.

Over using the ears can lead to vata aggravation

The ear is considered a sookshma organ governed by vata dosha. The fine and minute bones in the ear are less dense and light, with a lot of “Akash” and “Vayu” in built in them. This light and airy bone composition allows these bones to vibrate physically and pass on auditory signals received. When vata is in good balance, we are able to hear very sookshma noises and have good hearing.

When vata is over used in the ear, the bones are tired from over vibrating and passing on a lot of auditory signals. So, when we are habituated to hearing loud discordant sounds, live in a high traffic noisy road, or speak a lot over the cell phone, the ear’s capacity to hear is diminished due to vata aggravation.

Over stimulation and use of ears aggravates vata and impairs hearing

In particular, the use of a device that uses Vata based signals like the cell phone, when over used on the ear, leads to a dramatic aggravation in vata dosha.

This is why Ayurveda suggests doing karna abhyanga (ear massage with medicated oils) regularly to balance vata dosha in the ear – taila and abhyanga are the best balancers of vata dosha and this principle is used in Karna abhyanga as well.

Why Digital Addiction can derange Vata dosha

Social media has often been described as crack cocaine for the mind. The always-on nature of social media, constant use of images and sound, and the presence of so much new news excites the Vata carrying channels of the brain. Because of this excessive neural activity, a high amount of pitta is also  generated in the brain.

Social media is primed to aggravate vata dosha

Vata dosha by its nature is irregular and chaotic. Therefore when we over-use this Dosha, its chaotic and irregular effects extend to our daily routine and schedule. So we find that our sleep timings become irregular, we are unable to eat at the right time and the brain is so over stimulated that we are unable to go to sleep at our regular time.

Excitation of Vata Dosha almost always leads to the derangement and increase of chaos in our daily routine. Conversely, when our daily routine and schedule is extremely chaotic, we can detect that we are suffering from an imbalance of vata dosha.

Deranged vata dosha leads to chaos

To rein in deranged Vata dosha, we follow the principle of opposites in Ayurveda. We focus on cutting excitement to the brain, calming down the brain through the use of specific herbs and using sweetness, and unctuousness to balance the dry, light and excitable nature of Vata dosha.

6 Strategies from Ayurveda to reduce Digital Addiction :

Fixed Electronic cut off every day:

To rein in the chaotic nature of Vata dosha and to train the body to an atmosphere of lowered stimulation, we advise those who seem to have vata excitation an electronic cut off every day. This is easier to implement than a onetime social media cut off, and trains the body to look at the day in buckets – in which at least one bucket is used to calm the senses down.

A planned daily electronic cut off helps gradually reduce vata burden on the body

What do we mean by an electronic cut off?

  • Switching off the wi-fi router
  • Turning the phone into airplane mode
  • Shutting down the laptop
  • Not using an e-reader
  • Closing all screens including the television
  • No smartphone / radiating devices in the bedroom

Every time this is done, there is a stark difference in the quality of sleep – sleep is longer, deeper and more restful.

A practical way to implement an electronic cut off is to set a time limit after which you will not excite Vata dosha. There is no need to go aggressive on this time limit – you can start this as small as you like.

For example: You could set your electronic cut off to 8:30 pm every day. After 4 weeks of following this, you could work on moving the time back by 15 minutes. Steady practice of this limit and slowly increasing the timing is very useful in training your body and controlling vata dosha.

Remember: do not approach this with a heavy hand. Be gentle with yourself.

Daily Shavasana:

This is the yogic pose most of us love to hate. Sometimes we end up sleeping while attempting to do this pose. Other times we are fretting while doing this pose, mentally calculating how long it would take to go home, shower and hit the office.

Our yoga teachers have always stressed on the high importance of doing correct Shavasana as a part of a good yoga practice. In the case of digital addiction and vata excitation, Shavasana again is a crucial aid.

The basic working of the Shavasana calms the mind and stills it by helping us focus entirely on the breath ,after cutting out any visual distractions by the simple act of closing our eyes.

The Shavasana is recommended to be done for at least 10 minutes or more after a 45-minute yoga practice. Similarly, after nearly 8 hours of continuous screen time and mental stimulation, a 15-minute Shavasana is essential to still the mind.

Daily Shavasana practice helps calm and still the mind

With this practice, the mental activity and strain drops, vata and pitta is calmed down and we are left ready for the next part of the day, i.e. dinner, time with family and alone time. This practice greatly aids in improving sleep quality.

Tip: Ensure Shavasana is done AFTER Sandhya time / twilight or during Sun rise and Sun set. If you are hungry after getting back from work, eat a light snack before doing a Shavasana.

Complete Sensory deprivation:

Ayurveda tells us that the smooth governing of the Idruyas (5 sense organs) is only done by Vata dosha. The skin, which is an important sense organ and Touch, is completely governed by Vata dosha.

Therefore an important ayurvedic practice to help balance Vata dosha is to cut down use of the 5 sense organs. This can be done by a daily sensory deprivation practice . So, after a day of working online with social media, etc, you can take a 15-minute sensory deprivation break in the evening, perhaps close to electronic cut off time.

During this time, dim the lights, remove any strong fragrances from the room, cut off all sound, and lie down and wear a blindfold / eye mask. Do not go to sleep – but lie in Shavasana (again). 15 minutes of this every day is very helpful for vata excitation.

This is strongly recommended for those in creative fields, jobs which involve a lot of social media consumption, those in Digital marketing, IT, etc. You will find that the brain is calmer, able to focus better and that your food cravings are lower after this practice.

Tip: If you do not have time to do a sequential shavasana followed by a sensory deprivation pose, you may combine both and do this as one practice . However doing these 2 practices sequentially helps till the mind much better.

The Ultimate Sensory deprivation treatment – Kutir Praveshika method

The ultimate sensory deprivation technique is followed in the Ayurvedic Kutir praveshika method, an ancient rejuvenation technique followed in Ayurveda, described in the Charaka Samhita. In this method, the patient enters a solitary hut, which has been constructed on Ayurvedic and Vastu principles. In this hunt, by the special construction methods used, light, air, sound, aroma and touch inputs are strictly controlled. The Kutir / hut is usually constructed in a solitary, well chosen place without any strong flow of wind.

Kutir praveshika is an ayurvedic long term sensory deprivation treatment used for rasayana therapy

The patient eats a strictly controlled diet, with properly chosen rasayanas and meets no one in this period of Kutir praveshika. This treatment starts from a period of one month and goes upto 1 year. It is called as a rejuvenation treatment that is almost like a “re birth”. The texts tells us that it is acutely life extending and rasayana (rejuvenating and youth giving) in its benefits. This treatment methodology has been reintroduced in India, and practitioners and recipients of this treatment methodology tell us of amazing reversal in age and health after this method.

Most of us do not have the psychological strength nor do we have the family circumstances or time to undergo such a tough and extreme treatment process, nor is it even needed. But even practicing this at a small level everyday as described above, can greatly help balance the mind and body and improve our health.

Night Sky Gazing:

This is an Ayurvedic technique designed to balance over use of Sookshma (close / minute) vision and helps calm Pitta and Vata dosha down. We also suggest it for those who have mild depression, panic attacks and other signs of vata aggravation.

As we gaze into the night sky, we expand the vision from a minute field to a vast field. This relieves the tiredness in eye muscles. As there is a change in the light patterns between a phone screen and the night sky, Sharma(fatigue) in the minute channels is reduced.

night sky gazing calms and soothes ethe mind, balances vata and pitta

Plus, in this technique, we harness the infinite nature and vastness of Akash as we stare at the night sky. The acharyas tell us that this gives us a sense of belonging in the larger world, and we also gain perspective about the actual size of our problems.

This ayurvedic method is consistently recommended for panic attacks, depression, digital addiction, and vision problems.  It can also greatly help stressed out mothers who need some time to themselves.

Pada abhyanga:

Pada abhyanga is a recommended ayurvedic dinacharya / ayurvedic practice that should be done everyday for good health. Charaka Samhita tells us that with regular pada abhyanga, coarseness, roughness and stiffness of the feet is reduced. Fatigue reduces as does numbness in the feet. Similarly pada sphutana (cracking of soles), is removed, and Acharyas tell us that feet are endowed with firmness, stability .

More germane to this post, the practice of Pada Abhyanga reduces imbalanced Pitta , and nourishes the eyes, improving vision. Therefore this is a drishti prasdaka practice (practices that improves drishti). Further the Acharyas observe that “Marut” or “Vata dosha” is brought under control. Interesting we are also told that due to regular Pada abhyanga, there is freer movement and flow in blood vessels without any constriction. This is why we advise Pada abhyanga for those who are highly stressed with elevated BP levels.

Pada abhyanga helps reduce vata and pitta build up, improves vision and deepens sleep

Because of the pada abhyanga’s strong balancing effect on imbalanced Pitta and Vata throughout the body, and particularly the head region, this is an excellent practice to counter the effects of digital addiction.

If you are in the grip of digital addiction, Pada abhyanga should be done every night for 3 weeks – this gives a very quick and deep relief from vata aggravation. For extreme vata aggravation we recommend using the Krya Intense Abhyanga oil as it is formulated with higher degree of vata balancing herbs.

Hair Oiling:

When digital addiction is leaving you sleepless with vata aggravated sleep (light and poor sleep quality), night head oiling is recommended. It is best done just before sunset so the oil can slowly work on calming vata over 2 – 3 hours until you go to sleep.

Head oiling helps calm down the brain and strongly reduces pitta + vata buildup

Any good ayurvedic oil that helps calm Pitta and Vata should be chosen. At Krya all of our hair oils (except the Intense and Lice hair oil) can be used for Pitta and Vata calming effects. But for extreme Vata aggravation, we recommend using Krya Harmony hair oil (best choice) or as a second alternative,  the Krya Conditioning hair oil. These 2 oils are formulated as vata + pitta balancers, especially Harmony hair oil. We use a large set of brain calming and rejuvenate herbs like Brahmi, Jatamansi, Guduchi, deodar, etc.

If using Krya Harmony hair oil for strong digital addiction and vata aggravation, please warm the hair oil slightly. Use this warm oil to massage the head and scalp well, preferably around Sunset or within the first hour of Sunset. If this timing is unsuitable, the head can be massaged 1 – 1.5 hours after dinner, atleast 30 minutes before sleeping. In the second case, after oil massage, as a precaution to avoid Kapha aggravation, please use Rasanadi choornam.

The consistent use of this hair oil has a brahmanya (nourishing) effect to the brain. The herbs calm down stress, and balance imbalanced vata and pitta dosha – obviously this works best when you follow all the other strategies described above in conjunction with hair oiling.

To sum up:

In this piece, we discussed the new malaise of social media and Digital Addiction. We examined this problem through the lens of Ayurveda and understood how digital addiction can trigger and excite vata dosha and Pitta dosha in the body.

Therefore, we looked at 6 Ayurvedic strategies that help in digital addiction to balance imbalanced Vata and Pitta dosha in the brain. These are:

  1. Electronic cut off
  2. Shavasana
  3. Sensory deprivation practice
  4. Night Sky gazing
  5. Pada Abhyanga
  6. Hair Oiling

In our work at Krya, we have observed the deep and potent effects of following all of these ayurvedic practices to calm down unbalanced Vata dosha in the case of digital addiction, high stress, lifestyle change or even temporary stress / grief. These practices come straight from the Ayurvedic texts and have been recommended by our acharyas after a deep study of the doshas and how each one of them affects both the mind and the body.

This is a part of Krya’s continuing series on Ayurveda. We write this series to educate, inspire and empower you to adopt these seemingly simple, yet astoundingly well though through and deep Ayurvedic practices to regain your health and well being.

If you have any queries on this post or about any of our products, please call us (0-75500-89090) or email us.

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The Importance of Ayurvedic Ritucharya for good health

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Reading Time: 7 minutes

Ritucharya (seasonal guidelines for living) and Dinacharya (daily living guidelines) are two cornerstones of ayurvedic health. The Ayurvedic acharyas practiced the concept of “preventive health care” . This means that a great deal of work is given to the end user to practice and follow to ensure that the body remains in a state of balance.

Ritucharya is an important cornerstone of ayurvedic healthcare

At Krya, we put a strong emphasis on educating our consumers on the health guidelines prescribed by the acharyas for both Dinacharya and Ritucharya. We and our customers have seen appreciable benefits occurring, the more these guidelines are practiced and implemented in the family.

We have been regularly putting up Ritucharya (seasonal regimen) for various seasons from Hemanta / Shishira last year. We have so far progressed through Hemanta, Shishira, Vasanta, and are now in Greeshma (summer). We are shortly going to go into Varsha (Monsoon) in a few weeks.

Officially Varsha is supposed to start around July 20th-21st , and goes on until mid September, by which time Sharad Ritu (autumn) starts. These dates can have a variation of nearly a month across India depending upon climatic zone and also climate change. So many of us may have already seen Varsha Ritu beginning in our city and some of us may be waiting for this Ritu to start.

Before we share Ritucharya guidelines for Varsha Ritu, we wanted to do an introductory post on why Ritucharya must be followed at all, and the benefits that incur if we do. So , read on.

Adana Kala vs Visarga Kala: An Ayurvedic concept:

Depending upon the movement of the Sun, the Ayurvedic Acharyas have divided the year into 2 parts of 6 months each. Each of these 6 month periods have 3 seasons of 2 months each.

Shishira (late Winter), Vasantha (Spring) and Greeshma (Summer) are the 3 seasons that fall in the Uttarayana period, when the Sun is seen to move in a Northern direction. The Acharyas term this period, “Adana kala” .

Adana kala means “time phase / period” of “extraction / lessening”. During Uttarayana, the sun travels towards the North of the equator. As its heat becomes intense and piercing, it starts to evaporate the moisture of the earth and the organisms on earth. Therefore everything has  less moisture content and the air is drier. All these changes affect the health and strength of all living organisms – so Adana kala is considered a period when “strength is decreased or taken away”.

Greeshma (Summer) is the last season in Adana Kala. Hence in Greeshma, our strength is at our most depleted as we have gone through 3 seasons of decreasing body strength in this period.

Adana Kala - 6 months of reducing strength due to sun's movement

During Visarga kala , the Sun moves in a direction south of the equator (hence away from us living in India). This direction of the Sun is called Dakshinayana. As the Sun moves away from us, the Moon assumes greater importance in our life. The Moon’s saumeya / gentle properties weaken the agneya (fiery) properties of the sun. The coolness of clouds, strong winds and cold rains further cool the Earth which has been fiery until Greeshma ritu (summer).

Hence , unlike Adana Kala , all organisms gain strength gradually in Visarga Kala. This strength gaining period starts in Varsha Ritu (Monsoon) which is the first season in Visarga Kala. This strength gradually builds up until it reaches its peak in Hemanta Season (early Winter).

Visarga Kala - period of increasing strength as Moon's qualities assume importance

The natural variation of Doshas in each season & the importance of Ritucharya

Just like the influence of the Sun , Moon , Clouds, Air and Space cause the seasons and affect all organisms externally, internally our bodies are also influenced by the change in seasons. Our Doshas do not remain still and in the same volume within our body throughout the year. They respond to external inputs like age, lifestage, stress levels, humidity, geography, day part, and most importantly to season.

Doshas naturally change in volume in response to extrenal factors like life-stage, season, geography, etc

Every season sees large variations in the way the Pancha Mahabuthas behave . For example, in Greeshma Ritu, there is a massive increase in the intensity of the sun’s rays due to the double combination of Adana Kala + the season itself. This piercing sun intensity dries up the atmosphere and earth itself ,depositing heat in every part of the world, including our bodies.

In Greeshma Ritu the intensity of the sun has a drying effect on us and the earth

To cool and balance this naturally increased Pitta energy, Ritucharya rules state that we should eat cool, watery , light ahara. This ahara is chosen as digestion is weakened due to excess Agni in the atmosphere. The body is unable to digest heavy, oily foods.

The dryness in the air and the body in Greeshma Ritu due to high , piercing Sun energy further aggravates in Varsha where the atmosphere is cold and windy.

So Vata dosha naturally aggravates in Varsha (monsoon) Ritu. This is also augmented by the wetness and coldness in the body due to the depleted Agni levels, which may have otherwise kept Vata levels in check.

In Varsha Ritu the increased vata dosha from Summer aggravated due to cold wind and rain

These specific examples are given for us to understand that dosha vitiation is both NORMAL and NATURAL in each season.

To cope with this natural movement in Doshas, the acharyas have suggested Ritucharya – seasonal guidelines for living. When these Ritucharya rules are followed, they help keep the dosha aggravation in check. The Dosha imbalance is not allowed to peak, and it subsides normally and naturally with a change in season.

Dinacharya and Ritucharya guidelines help cope with dynamic dosha changes

To reiterate: If we follow the Ritu sanctioned diet + Dinacharya practices, this improves strength and immunity and ability to absorb and metabolise nutrients better. In this strong state, we can cope with seasonal dosha variations without it getting too imbalanced. As we continue to follow daily and seasonal living guidelines, the aggravated dosha naturally comes to balance in the next season. This normal process of aggravated dosha going into a state of balance is called  prashamana stage.

Natural Process of Dosha Vitiation – Ritucharya

 

Natural process of dosha aggravation and balance

 

Dosha vitiation leading to Disease : when Ritucharya is NOT followed

If the body is weak, immunity is low and Dinacharya and Ritucharya practices are not followed, the normal stage of Sanchaya (gradual accumulation of dosha in season 1), followed by Prakopa (normal aggravation of dosha in season 2) and Prashamana (dosha is pacified normally in season 3) is not followed.

Instead of Prashamana (dosha is normally pacified in season 3), the Dosha instead undergoes Prasara stage (spreading stage) in Season 3. Here the aggravated Dosha grows in volume in season 2, as it  has not been calmed by adopting Ritucharya measures. In this aggravated stage, it further spreads, until it spills out of its normal seat and spreads to other parts of the body.

Once it begins to spread, if it is still not found and calmed down, it goes into Sthana samshraya stage – where it spreads and attacks a weak organ / tissue. In this Sthana samshrya stage, disease manifestation begins, but is as yet not visible outside.

After Sthana Samshraya stage comes the Vyaktha stage. In the Vykatha stage, the aggravated spreading Dosha which has gone into weak tissue/organ manifested and visible signs appear which are noticed by the patient.

If not treated even at this stage,  Disease proceeds to Bheda stage where it is difficult to treat / incurable.

Dosha vitiation leading to disease when Ritucharya and Dinacharya is not followed

When we read this, we can understand that no symptom of dis-ease is instant / starts overnight. It takes atleast 4-6 months for dosha imbalance to reach the spreading stage. If we then continue to ignore Ritucharya, Dinacharya and Ahara Niyama guidelines, we cant blame anyone else for our symptoms!

Sadly, most of us recognize Disease symptoms only in Stage 5 – Vyakta stage when symptoms start to manifest. On the other hand, if we had simply understood the importance of Ritucharya and Dinacharya, and followed the Ahara guidelines, we could have controlled dosha aggravation right in Stage 2 itself.

To sum up: the importance of Ritucharya:

Ritucharya is a powerful, health giving ayurvedic tool that helps us live according to the changes in season and make internal adjustments so that our doshas are in a state of balance. Ayurvedic health guidelines are extremely powerful and potent. The importance of following Ritucharya is that we are able to stop disease even before it starts.

With health care costs on the rise, high stress lives and weakening immunity, Ritucharya and Dinacharya assume even greater importance to us. It helps us take charge of our health and our families health and gives us simple yet powerful tools to help our body.

This is a part of Krya’s continuing series on ayurvedic education. Our next post will take about Ritucharya guidelines for Varsha Ritu.

If you have any questions on this or any of our products, please email us or call/WhatsApp us – (0)75500-89090.

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The Authoritative Guide to Kumkumadi tailam by Krya – decoding its formulation, properties & benefits

Krya's authoritative guide to Kumkumadi tailam
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Reading Time: 17 minutes

We are often asked for our opinion of Kumkumadi tailam by our customers. We are asked to explain its benefits. Many also ask us if it is indeed the gold ayurvedic standard in beauty / skin oils as it is made out to be in popular media. Many also complain that it did not work well for them, and they would like to know why it did not work for them.  Of course we are then asked if Krya makes a kumkumadi tailam – when we answer that we do not, we are requested to immediately make one .

Confused about the benefits of Kumkumadi tailam and wondering if you should buy it?

This blog post has been written to answer the questions asked commonly by Krya’s customers – we seek to demystify and explain the big picture behind Kumkumadi tailam. This post will explain the history behind this formulation, the dravyas that go into it, who it suits, what conditions it is not suitable for. It will end with a brief piece on 2 of the new Krya facial oil serums which are excellent options to consider when you seek an ayurvedic facial oil / ayurvedic facial serum.

What is Kumkumadi Tailam? Who formulated it and for what condition  ?

 Kumkumadi tailam is an ancient, classical ayurvedic skin oil formulation which is now gaining popularity among many companies which promote luxurious Ayurveda. This formulation is being marketed as an ultimate, all purpose Ayurvedic skin oil to solve ALL skin problems. Costs of this product are also going through the roof, with some companies selling 12 ml for close to Rs.2500 (around 2 lakh rupees per litre!)

Kumkumadi tailam has quickly been appropriated by the Luxury retail segment

This post aims to cut through this hype and educate about the real benefits behind Kumkumadi tailam and who should be using it. Read on.

In classical Ayurveda, many hoary formulations exist which according to Indic tradition, have been formulated by the Gods and the Devas.

The Ashwini Kumaras are Devas / Divine beings who are the royal Physicians of all Devas. In Ayurveda, they are the twin Vedic gods of Medicine and are the Sons of Surya the Sun God and his wife Sarayu, the Cloud Goddess.

Nasatya Deva is the older of the Ashwini Kumara twins and is considered the Deity of Health. Together with his younger twin Dasra, the Deity of Medicine, they are said to appear in the sky in a golden Chariot at times of need, bringing divine oushadies (herbs) and formulations to help mankind.

Kumkumadi tailam is a divine formulation created by the Ashwini Kumaras

The Divine Ashwini Kumaras have created many healing formulations and medical techniques over time (as is recorded in the Puranas). One such medicinal formulation was created for Rishi Chyawan by the Aswini Kumaras which still exists today as Chawanprash, the immunity boosting avaleghya (ayurvedic herbal preserve).

The Aswini Kumaras do not just create herbal medicines. In the case of the Vedic Warrior Princess Vishpala, a legendary Rig Vedic queen of India, the Ashwini Kumars created the first prosthetic limb. After losing her leg in battle with King Khela, the Aswini Kumaras appeared on the eve of the battle to Princess Vishpala and fitted her with an iron leg – after which she went on to emerge victor in the battle.

The first recorded mention of a prosthetic limb is in the Rig Veda - created by the Ashwini Kumaras

Unfortunately , unlike the case of Chawanprash or the Iron Leg, we do not know enough about the actual history behind why the Ashwini Kumaras formulated Kumkumadi tailam, and what they originally intended for .

So we have to reverse engineer its origin story by taking you on a journey discovering its formulation.

 What  goes into the original Kumkumadi tailam formulation? What is the overall effect of this formulation

The formula for original Kumkumadi tailam is found in 2 texts: the Ashtanga Hridayam and Bhaisajya Ratnavalli.

Kumkumadi tailam is a classical ayurvedic formulation

It contains a single Kashaya(ayurvedic decoction) made from the following ingredients:

  • Kesara (saffron)
  • Chandana
  • Laksha
  • Manjishta
  • Yastimadhu
  • Daruharidra
  • Vetiver
  • Padmaka
  • Nilotpala
  • 2 banyans – Vata & Plaksha
  • Kamala Kesara (lotus stamen)
  • Dashamoola (10 ayurvedic roots)
  • Bilwa
  • Agnimantha
  • Shyonaka
  • Gambhari
  • Patala
  • Shalaprini
  • Prishnaparni
  • Gokshura
  • Brihati
  • Kantankatri

 

This Kashayam is reduced to ¼ its original volume. It is then boiled along with Tila taila (sesame oil), Ajaksheera (goat’s milk) and the following herbs present as Kalpa form (wet herbal paste):

Kumkumadi tailam is made in classical tila paka method

The Kalpa (wet ayurvedic herbal paste) contains:

  • Manjishta
  • Madhuka
  • Laksha
  • Patranga
  • Yashtimadhu

 

Basic concepts of ayurvedic taila formulation:

To understand the effect of the formula, we must try and work out the effect of the Kashayam separately and the Kalpa. We must also analyze the properties of the base oil, i.e Tila Taila and the special dravya that goes into this formulation, Ajaksheera.

When preparing a Taila(oil) as opposed to a Ghrita (ghee), we are trying to temper / adjust the properties of the taila using the herbs that we add as Kashaya and kalpa.

Analysis of base oil in Kumkumadi Tailam – Sesame Oil

The choice of Taila used in the Kumkumadi tailam formulation is Tila taila (Sesame oil).
Sesame oil is the base oil in Kumkumadi tailam with specific medicinal properties.

Ashtanga Hridayam Samhita tells us that Tila taila (sesame oil) is teekshna (sharp in action), vyavayi (spreads / penetrates quickly), is sookshma (subtle) in its action, and ushna veerya warming.

Acharya Vagbhatta says that if treated with the right herbs, sesame is capable of curing any disease.

Properties of the herbs in the Kashaya:

In the original formulation, each herb is taken in equal quantity. So we can conclude each herb is equally important and the synergistic action of each of these herbs is what we are looking for in the Kashayam.

Properties of the herbs used in the Kashaya formulation of Kumkumadi tailam:

  • Kumkuma (Saffron) – potent herb – warming, kantivardhaka, when taken internally pacifies rakta-pitta, vata
  • Chandana (Sandal wood) – potent pitta pacifying herb – helps in pitta aggravation disorder with rakta-pitta disorder like diarrhea with blood, bleeding piles, etc. Is cold and bitter and is a good astringent. Cleanses skin, reduces inflammation
  • Laksha (Lac insect resin) – Wound healing, fracture healing – famously used in formulae for post partum women and severe vata aggravation
  • Manjishta – Blood purifier, improves micro circulation. Indicated for Kushta roga (skin disease), in bleeding inflammatory conditions, and in wound healing, healing fracture and improving complexion
  • Yastimadhu (Indian liquorice) – Helps in Pitta roga like piles, anemia, in vata roga like urine retention, vata rakta, and in wound healing, reducing inflammation
  • Daruharidra (Tree turmeric)– Checks Pitta aggravation conditions like jaundice, helps in Kushta roga (skin disease), helps in Pitta aggravation conditions like vaginal discharge, diabetes, etc. Also an excellent wound healer
  • Vetiver – helps in hemorrhage and bleeding disorder, reduce Pitta aggravated conditions like fever, boils, etc. Kanti vardhaka
  • Padmaka (Indian lotus) – Helps in bleeding disorder, hiccoughs, asthma, etc. Also a kantivardhaka
  • Nilotpala (Indian Water Lily) – Pitta and Kapha balancing, Wound healing, helps in Rakta pitta disorders
  • 2 Healing Indian banyans – Vata & Plaksha – Plaksha helps in bleeding disorders, inflammations, and aids in wound healing
  • Kamala Kesara (lotus stamen) – checks excessive hemorrhage and bleeding, checks bleeding piles, dysentery and promotes strength and virility when taken internally
  • Dashamoola (10 medicinal roots) – excellent at curing vata aggravation conditions like lower back pain, hip pain, slipped disc, etc. Reduces pain + inflammation.
  • Bilwa (Bael ) – Works to balance conditions of aggravated Pitta like Diarrhoea, piles, jaundice, etc. Reduces inflammation. Is pitta+kapha balancing.
  • Agnimantha – medicinal herb useful in diabetes, obesity, piles, inflammations, edema and pitta aggravated conditions like utricaria and vyanga.
  • Shyonaka – useful in diarrhea, ascites, ENT disorders,
  • Gambhari – one of the dashamoola roots; reduces inflammation, is wound healing and nourishing
  • Patala – helps treat burns, wounds and reduces blisters, burning sensation, etc
  • Shalaparni – strong vata balancing drug effective in cardiac pain, hemi crania, and checks pitta based disorders like diarrhea
  • Prishnaparni – helps bleeding disorders like diarrhea with blood, bleeding piles, etc. Also helps in wound healing, setting fractures, etc
  • Gokshura – excellent herb to dissolve urinary calculi; also helps in bleeding disorders, dysuria, and is a general rasayana drug
  • Brihati -Helpful as an internal drug in piles, fever, cough, anorexia, etc.
  • Kantankatri – Helpful again in pitta based inflammatory conditions like Piles, fever, thirst, etc. Also helpful in cough, asthma and such conditions.

By now, you must have noticed a clear pattern. Most of the herbs chosen in the Kashaya are pitta balancing, improve rakta-pitta conditions and wound healing with a pronounced inflammation reducing effect. Therefore the overall effect of this Kashaya appears to be:

  • Highly wound healing
  • Reducing inflammations
  • Helps solve Kushta roga (small skin disorders)
  • Checks the effects of Rakta & Pitta based disorders like excessive bleeding, burning sensation, rashes, etcKashaya used in Kumkumadi tailam has a pronounced pitta balancing, wound helaing and inflammation reducing effect

Properties of Kalpa used in original Kumkumadi tailam:

This kalpa has 5 ingredients in it. In an ayurvedic tailam, we repeat selct ingredients from the Kashaya in the Kalpa to extract both water and oil soluble properties of the herb and strengthen its dosage and action in the formula.

Kalpa ingredients:

  • Manjishta – helps heal wounds, reduces inflammation, improves micro circulation
  • Madhuka – helps balance aggravated Pitta in conditions like bleeding disorder, thirst, and reduces pitta based inflammations, heals fractures, etc
  • Laksha – helps wound heal, reduce inflammations, heals fractures
  • Patranga – Kanti vardhaka, Pitta balancing, reduces inflammations, helps in Pitta conditions like diarrhea
  • Yashtimadhu – Reduces pitta + vata – soothes and heals skin, improves skin texture, reduces inflammation

Kalpa used in Kumkumadi tailam also has pitta balancing, wound helaing and inflammation reducing effect

Again, this Kalpa, like the Kashaya is also powerfully wound healing. By the higher number of complexion improving Kanti vardhaka agents here, we can say that this Kalpa is designed to be slightly astringent, anti inflammatory, healing and Pitta balancing . It is slightly more rasayana in action compared to Kashaya as there is a use of sweet herbs like Madhuka, and Yastimadhu.

Aja Ksheera (Goat’s milk) properties:

 Acharya Vagbhatta says that Aja Ksheera is laghu (light), with katu (pungent) and tikta (bitter) taste. It helps cure pitta and rakta pitta disorders like jwara (fever), diarrhea, asthma and emaciation.

Aja Ksheera (Goats Milk) is light, pungent, bitter and cleansing and pitta balancing

Aja Ksheera (goat’s milk) is highly medicinal, light , cleansing and astringent in Ayurveda. Hence it is a favourite choice in formulations where we are trying to cleanse, dry up or detoxify something. An example is Anutaila which is used as nasya (oil dropped into nostrils) to help dry up aggravates sinuses, and kapha in the nose, throat and chest area.

This is a light ,healing, bulk reducing and astringent dravya and is not not nourishing or rasayana (anti aging).

 What is the overall effect of Kumkumadi tailam?

To re-iterate, there is no record of the origin story of Kumkumadi tailam. So the analysis of the formulation will help us divine the purpose behind this divine formulation.

From the analysis of the Taila, Kashaya, Kalpa and Ksheera used, this formulation appears to have healing and balancing as a primary goal. It does not appear to be nourishing or rasyana (anti aging) in its basic nature. It seems to be a product designed to detoxify, cleanse, reduce inflammation and heal wounds and treat skin diseases.

Overall efect of Kumkumadi tailam is to heal skin, reduce pitta and treat pitta related aggravation and inflammation

This might be a good formulation for those who have pitta-kapha aggravation in skin like cystic acne, where the purpose is to balance the Pitta, shrink the inflammation and provide astringency and repair to skin. It should help in other Rakta-Pitta skin disorders as well.

However, as this is a pure taila formulation, it must be used very carefully to avoid increasing the oiliness and therefore aggravating the skin condition.

This formulation does not seem  to be designed for anti aging, skin nourishment, anti wrinkle, moisturizing effects or to improve skin texture . But as it works on Pitta balance and Rakta pitta disorder, it can work on blemishes, and correct complexion disorders. Although, being a powerful ayurvedic oil, it will still work to some extent as a moisturizer and rasayana , it does not appear to be focused on these aspects.

Obviously there is no comparison between Kumkumadi tailam and ANY synthetic product. It will beat all synthetic products hollow.

 Is Kumkumadi tailam good for skin?

Kumkumadi tailam is certainly good for skin and is a good skin healing formulation. As discussed above, the combination of herbs used in the Kashaya (ayurvedic decoction), kalpa (wet herb paste) and the choice of dravya (goats milk) in combination with Tila tailam (sesame oil) makes a very powerful, healing formulation.

However, we want to stress that Kumkumadi tailam is not the ONLY ayurvedic skin oil out there which is good for skin. Many other classical ayurvedic formulae also exist that are good for skin and have different properties like Nalapamaradi tailam, Lakshadi tailam, Durvadi tailam etc, which are formulated for different skin concerns.

Kumkumadi tailam appears to be formulated primarily for Pitta aggravation where wound healing and inflammation reduction is required .

 Does Kumkumadi tailam suit all kinds of skin? Does it suit oily skin?

Based on the above analysis, We believe that Kumkumadi tailam is better used as a wound healing and repairing ayurvedic skin oil for Pitta and Rakta-Pitta based skin disorders..

Some potential applications of Kumkumadi tailam could be:

  • Psoriasis / Eczema with Pitta origin / Pitta dominance
  • Cystic acne
  • Wound healing
  • Scar tissue
  • Old deep acne based pitting

From this analysis, it will be clear that Kumkumadi tailam is not a general purpose skin oil that is suitable for all skin types.

 

How to use Kumkumadi tailam correctly if it suits me

Kumkumadi tailam is a formulation made completely in sesame oil with Kashayams and no swarasas(fresh juices). The formulation does use Aja Ksheera to lighten it slightly. But the overall formulation is still quite potent and concentrated.

So it is important to train your skin to this formula by getting it slowly  accustomed to the formula.

First ascertain if the product suits you and does not trigger any allergic reaction by doing a patch test.

Patch tets is essential to understand if teh formula and brand suits your skin

Once the patch test is clear, we suggest starting by first using pre-face wash. Apply it as a very light coating on skin and wash after 15-20 minutes using a good quality, pure, herbal face wash powder. If the product feels slightly heavy on skin, apply less than recommended.

Use the product this way for atleast 3 weeks. This allows skin to get used to this formula.

After this, try leave-on night application. Use 2 – 3 drops of the product on damp, well cleansed skin at night. Apply lightly and massage using upward strokes onto skin. Allow the formula to air dry for 15 – 20 minutes before going to sleep.

Observe the skin the next morning – if there are breakouts or white heads appearing, then reduce the quantity used slightly.

Please choose a reputed brand that makes the correct Kumkumadi tailam formulation. The original formula for Kumkumadi tailam is given above in this blog post. By law, any company making a product called “Kumkumadi tailam” must follow this same formula if they are using this name. Check the formula of the brand you plan to use to see if they too follow these ingredients.

Choose your brand of Kumkumadi tailam very carefully

A commonly accepted substitute for Saffron (Kumkuma) is “Naga kesara” – “Mesua ferrens” This substitute is done to bring down the cost of the formulation. So please check what your product contains.

Again, I have stressed this point: Kumkumadi tailam is one of the hundreds of brilliant formulations available in Ayurveda. Do not have Kumkumadi tailam FOMO!

What do I cleanse skin with after using Kumkumadi tailam?

The choice of what to cleanse skin after using a potent, healing product like Kumkumadi tailam is extremely important. The right face wash can assist and support the healing work of the Kumkumadi tailam and further balance skin’s sebum levels, provide the right astringency, and help further heal and reduce inflammation.

For serious acne issues and cystic acne, we suggest combining Kumkumadi tailam with the Krya Anti acne Face wash and the Krya Anti acne Face mask.

Combining Krya Anti acne face products with Kumkumadi tailam:
Use the face wash twice a day, to prepare skin for Kumkumadi tailam.

Use the Face Lepa (mask) once / twice a week for deeper cleansing . Apply the Lepa thick (thickness of 1/2 the width of your thumb ) and rinse out when it begins to dry. Do not allow the Lepa to dry completely on skin. Seal off with One drop of Kumkumadi tailam applied on damp, clean skin.

Combining Krya Classic face products with Kumkumadi tailam:
For healing Pitta aggravation, oily skin and healing old scar tissue and blemishes, we suggest using Krya Classic Face wash and Krya Classic Face Mask.

Choose this range only if acne is well under control, and your problem is to simply balance sebum levels and lighten scars and blemishes.

Use the face wash twice a day, to prepare skin for Kumkumadi tailam.

Use the Face Lepa (mask) once / twice a week for deeper cleansing . Apply the Lepa thick (thickness of 1/2 the width of your thumb ) and rinse out when it begins to dry. Do not allow the Lepa to dry completely on skin. Seal off with One drop of Kumkumadi tailam applied on damp, clean skin.

Kumkumadi tailam for baby: is it suitable for use

Kumkumadi tailam is a potent, concentrated and pitta balancing and wound healing formulation. Before applying this product, or any product for baby, it is better to do a patch test to rule out any allergies / rashes / irritation from this product.

Please ensure you select a good brand with good quality ingredients – some brands of Kumkumadi tailam can be too ushna and can trigger skin allergies in baby’s skin.

If Kumkumadi tailam is found suitable for your baby, it can be mixed in a very small dose to the regular baby massage oil. The maximum dosage attempted should be 8 – 9% of the overall mixture.

Please think carefully before adding Kumkumadi tailam for baby massage. It may not suit tender skin

For example, if you want to mix Kumkumadi tailam to the Krya traditional Baby massage oil or  Nalapamaradi tailam, you can use 20 ml of Kumkumadi tailam to 200 ml of Krya traditional baby massage oil / Nalapamaradi tailam.

It is critical to cleanse baby’s skin well after using an ayurvedic massage oil / combination of ayurvedic massage oils. Some parents think that simply wiping off the oil with a hot towel is sufficient as baby’s skin is very tender and especially if they live in cold countries.

Baby’s skin is very tender, but ayurvedic oils are very thick, penetrative and potent: unless they are cleansed properly from baby’s skin, there is a tendency for the remaining oil to cool rapidly and then aggravate Kapha. Please ensure you use a pure herbal bath powder to cleanse baby’s skin. You can also use a home made combination of herbal bath powder – remember to avoid chemical filled synthetic soap.

Ensure baby's skin is cleansed well after oil application

With baby’s skin, it is best to stick to tried and tested traditional baby massage oils. Kumkumadi tailam does not appear to have been formulated for baby massage purpose.

 How should I choose a facial oil from Ayurveda?

Ayurveda tells us that formulations should be chosen based our prakriti (inherent dosha combination) OR vikruthi (problems caused by dosha aggravation). For many of us, it takes time to understand our inherent prakriti as we are thrown off by our current state of imbalance.

So starting from our problem areas / skin concerns / vikruthi is a good start if you do not know your actual prakriti.

Once you have listed your skin concerns, you can list down what your skin needs are from your facial oil.

If your skin needs moisturization, and currently the skin texture is rough and the appearance is dull, you could be suffering from vata aggravation. Hence you should look for a facial oil that gives your skin a rasayana effect , which is sookshma (subtle) in its action, penetrates skin well and nourishes it deeply.

If skin is rough and dry, it may need a nourishing and rasayana formulation

If your skin needs balance, often erupts, is clogged with visible open pores, you may need a product that evenly balances sebum, has a cleansing and astringent effect on skin while supplying light moisturization. So you should look for a pitta friendly product that is not very heavy / dense and is made with a lot of cooling, pitta balancing dravyas, which offers light moisturization.

If skin is sensitive, erupts easily and has unbalanced oil production, choose a light balancing oil

With all genuine ayurvedic skin moisturization products, less is more. You would need only 1 – 3 drops of the product, applied correctly to begin working on the skin. Do not apply liberally or with a heavy hand – this is not an abhyanga oil!

2 facial serums available from Krya

Krya offers a good range of moisturizing oils and serums which are made using a strictly ayurvedic formula and manufacturing technique. Our facial oils and serums are made using ONLY whole herbs where the nutrients are extracted using the ayurvedic distillation process.

Krya's skin oils and facial serums made using whole herbs and cold pressed oils

Krya does not use essential oils or solvent extracted nut and seed oils to make our facial serums. We believe that many essential oils are extremely potent and cannot be used except under medical supervision. We are also wary of the chemical contamination of nut and seed and essential oils that are extracted using procedures like solvent extraction.

Hence, we stick to the tried and tested Ayurvedic principles of manufacturing and formulation where we use well researched, properly studied herbs and cold pressed oils in combinations approved by the acharyas.

The Krya Vyoma Serum:

Krya Vyoma ayurvedic oil serum is a serum formulated to go with the Krya After Sun range. This ayurvedic facial serum is designed to hydrate Pitta aggravated skin (high sun exposure, pitta dominant prakriti, tanning beds). It helps combat skin patchiness, hyper pigmentation, melasma, blemishes, freckles and textural changes due to frequent sun exposure OR sun exposure on an already aggravated Pitta individual.

As Vyoma facial serum has been designed to balance aggravated Pitta, it has been formulated with a high number of pitta cooling, astringent and balancing kashayas and dravyas. The serum contains 25+ organic fruits, vegetables and forest collected ayurvedic herbs including Beetroot, Durva, Udumbura, Ashwathha, Ashoka, Vata, Bala, Manjishta, etc.

Krya Vyoma serum designed for Pitta aggravated skin with hyper pigmentation, tanning

The herbs have been chosen for their complexion evening, skin nourishing and hydrating property. The oil is designed to balance aggravated Pitta which is the reason behind these textural changes post excessive sun exposure.

Pitta prakriti individuals have a greater sensitivity towards sun exposure – hence even if they are in the sun for short periods, when Pitta is aggravated they burn faster and skin changes are much more rapid.

The regular use of Krya Vyoma serum is recommended for those with pitta dominant or pitta aggravated skin type which has moderate to high sun exposure and has tanning, hyper pigmentation, melasma and blemishes primarily due to sun exposure.

The formula helps calm aggravated pitta, soothes and balances skin, evens out complexion and reduces pigmentation and blemishes in skin.

The Krya Dyuti Serum:

Krya Dyuti ayurvedic oil serum is designed for dry, dehydrated and mature skin that is vata dominant or vata aggravated . This vata aggravation can be due to inherent nature (vata dominant / vata vitiated) or lifestage (40 + and dry). This is a nourishing, skin repairing and rasayana (anti aging + nourishing) formulation.

The formulation is one of our most complex formulations: we use 43 different dravyas in this formulation including 9 cold pressed organic plant oils. The oils used include Moringa seed oil, Almond oil, Apricot Oil and the intensely healing and re-generating Chalmoogra seed oil. A whopping 34 herbs go into this product as Kashaya (decocotion), kalpa (wet herb paste) and swarasa (freshly squeezed herb juice with minimal water).

Krya Dyuti Serum designed for vata aggravated or aging skin to nourish with rasayana effect

These 3 forms of extraction are used in Ayurveda to extract both water based and oil based bio actives from the plants. When we create a serum using these extracts, the bio actives are more easily absorbed into the oils, transforming the nature and properties of the oil. The resultant oil / serum is very light, easily penetrates skin / scalp and is nutrient dense.

In Dyuti, we use organic Kumari (aloe vera ) swarasa . Kumari is an excellent anti-aging and rasayana dravya for skin. This is enhanced by twachya improving, rejuvenating ,madhura rasa herbs like Ela (elaichi), Draksha (organic raisin), Vatama paya (almond milk), Dadima (pomegranate), Yashtimadhu (Liquorice), Bala, Guduchi, Fennel, etc.

The internal code name of Dyuti is “jaraa nashini”. This name is taken again from the Namavalli of Thaayar, Goddess Lakshmi, who is called “nashini” (destroyer) of “Jaraa” (brittleness, decay and attrition) and Mara (death itself).

The whole focus in our “Jaraa nashini” serum or Dyuti serum is to intensely hydrate, support and replenish naturally dry / drying skin. The texture of the serum is therefore quite different from Vyoma.

This is an intensely rich and nourishing and extremely potent serum. Just 1 – 2 drops are more than sufficient per use. One drop if you are applying in the daytime and 2 drops at night. Dyuti works primarily on skin texture. So if your skin feels rough (rooksha / khara) and dry and looks dull, this is the product for you.

To sum up:

A part of our work at Krya is to educate everyone about the power and potential of Ayurveda. We would like to encourage people to adopt the powerful practices suggested in Ayurveda to improve one’s health.

There is a lot of misinformation out there today in the name of Ayurveda, Siddha and traditional medicine. Companies are exploiting people’s interest towards leading a chemical free life and are over promising benefits in the name of Ayurveda. We hope this post of ours on Kumkumadi tailam helped demystify this classical formulation for you and give you the information to make the right choice on whether kumkumadi tailam would benefit your skin or not.

 

If you have any queries on this or on one of our ayurvedic serums, please call / WhatsApp us (0-75500-89090) or write to us.

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Ahara Niyama : The Value of Desi A2 Cow’s milk in Ayurveda

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One of the recommendations we make to improve hair and skin health is to include good quality, desi A2 Cow’s milk in the daily diet. This is an ayurvedic ahara (diet) recommendation which helps improve ojas, tejas, build good dhatu and improves the health and nutrient availability in the body.

Regular drinking of desi A2 Cow's milk is recommended in Ayurveda for health and vitality

However, there is a lot of confusion and issues linked with Dairy sourcing in India today. For one, what we freely get in India is processed, homogenized, pasteurized mixed milk which is predominantly A1. There is also a rise in the vegan movement where dairy consumption is rejected on environment, animal rights and health reasons. Also, many of us, have gotten used to drinking tea and coffee and have given up almost completely on milk.

So we wanted to write a detailed article addressing these issues, and also explain the many benefits behind drinking desi A2 Cow’s milk. This article expands on a shorter post already shared on the Krya Product Support Community on the same topic.

Isn’t Dairy bad and cruel?

A2 Cow’s milk in Ayurveda (Go Ksheera from a native cow) is considered an elixir. Obviously at the time the texts were written, there was no need to make a distinction between A2 and A1 and we ONLY had A2 cows in India. A1 Cows are a very recent addition (of about 50 years vintage) to Indian dairy farms.

The adoption of foreign breeds into India dairy farming is a new practice

Today we see a huge backlash against Dairy, some of it legitimately so. We are seeing disease condition of epic proportions and are handling certain forms of auto immune disorders, chronic skin conditions, allergic and respiratory conditions and cancers of various kinds. Desperate for answers and solutions, we latch onto every new theory / opinion that tries and explain the spread of such disease conditions.

There are 2 unfortunate reasons that Dairy, especially commercial dairy has taken such a huge backlash around the world:

One is the rise of commercial dairy farming with epic proportions of animal cruelty, all designed to treat the Cow as a machine and literally milk her to her death, shortening her Life span and treating male calves as fodder to the leather and meat industry in the bargain.

Commercial dairy farming is cruel and unethical

The second reason is linked to the first. Because of the huge , single minded focus on Milk , and Milk alone of a particular variety with a certain amount of Fat, India has joined the world of commercial dairy farming by exporting ad nauseum Jersey / Holstein breed cows that give higher fat, A1 milk .
Comemrecial dairy farming promotes A1 cow breeds over native A2 breeds

In the process, we have carefully ruined our indigenous dairy genetic strain and almost sounded the death knell for what Ayurveda terms as “ojas improving, dhatu improving and prana extending” – A2 milk.
Desi A2 cow breeds have been neglected in commercial dairy farming

Cow as Gau Mata – unique status in Indian Ayurveda, Krishi vigyan (agricultural science)

The Cow is revered and respected as “Gau mata” in the Indic civilization. This reverence extends beyond India to other lands where the civilization has reached like Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Java, Sumatra, etc This high status comes not just from the way the Cow is revered in India’s temples, Agama, Puranas, iconography, etc, although the extent of the Cow’s reverence in these systems should be seen to believed.

Cow is richly revered in Indic civilisation

But, this particular status of the cow comes from the value of what the cow offers not just from her udder, but also the “Mala” she secretes, namely the Cow Dung and Cow Urine (Gau mutra). Gau gobar (Cow dunk) and Gau mutra are extensively used in Ayurveda, Siddha and Krishi vigyan (agricultural science in India).

Cow dung and Cow Urine are important by products that are used in traditional medicine and agriculture

Go-bar (cow dung) is used in ritual purification, in homas and yagnas, and also to purify various kinds of Rasa (metals), minerals and poisonous herbs.

Gau mutra is also used in Shodana of certain Metals and Minerals. Treated cow urine is a very powerful “drug of choice” in certain aggravated disease conditions like kidney disorder, splenomegaly , certain kinds of cancers etc. Skeptics notwithstanding, there are very powerful testimonies to how well these therapies worked, when undertaken in the right Ayurvedic method.

In Krishi vigyan, Go-bar and Gau mutra are invaluable to a farm. This is why in Indian traditional systems the value of  a cow cannot be economically measured simply by the milk she produces. In fact, the Urine and Dung are of far greater value in a farm helping give good quality produce, arrest the growth of unwanted weeds, keeping down predatory population of insects that can destroy the crop, etc.

Cow is indispensable to healthy soil

Today, the Indian organic agriculture movement has access to ONE such formulation: Panchagavya – made from the 5 by products of a cow – gobar, gaumutra, milk, curd and ghee, . Virkshayurveda as a science is as old as Ayurveda – the texts talk of numerous such formulations that are designed scientifically on Ayurvedic principles to improve crop yield, nurture soil, keep down predatory insects and animals, improve quality of produce, etc.

And Gaumutra and Gobar is integral to many of these traditional farming practices and concepts.

We can go as far as to say that the Indian Cow is integral to many aspects of our health and well being, according to traditional wisdom. There is nothing better than cow dung and cow urine for improving soil, produce and yield. Cow dun and Cow urine are integral to Ayurvedic science both directly and indirectly to either enhance the qualities of the herbs, metals and minerals we work with or consumed as a drug.

Similarly, the direct fruits of a Cow, i.e Cow’s Milk , and by products made from it like Ghee, Butter, Buttermilk, and in some cases Curd are all considered Elixers. Cow Ghee is and should be an integral part of every Indian’s diet.

So for this wide reaching improving effect the Cow has on every sphere of our food, health, harmony and well being, she is rightly called Gau Mata – the Mother of us all. In fact , the Mother of all Mothers.

Gau Mata - the mother of All Mothers

Ayurveda analyses all Milk, not just A2 Cow’s milk:

The Ayurvedic Nighantus and Samhitas are extremely detailed and deep. So it should come as no surprise that the Acharyas have analysed the properties of different kinds of milks – both from animals and human beings and have given us when each of these can be consumed.

Not content with this, they have also analysed the qualities of the by products of these Milks like ghee – so the texts lay out in detail the qualities of ghee made from human breast milk, from sheep milk., from camel milk, etc , and finally from A2 Cow’s milk.

The qualities of each of these milks differ according to the basic nature of the animal, the gunas and mano gunas within the animal, where the animal is found, and finally, how the animal is treated and how these products are extracted and processed.

Properties of Go Ksheera (A2 Cow’s milk) according to Ayurveda:

Ashtanga Hridayam calls “Go Ksheera” (cows milk) “ Jeevaniya” (restores life /jeeva), and “Rasayana” (regenerative / anti aging). It is extremely useful in “Kshatksheena” or conditions of emaciation and extreme injury to slowly build and restore strength.

Kshatakhseena is a condition that is no existent among most of us today – it refers to emaciation caused by injury on the battle field. Today, this is probably applicable to soldiers and those in the defense cadre and also to those of us recovering from illness and long stays in a hospital.

Cow's milk is indispensable to recover health, vitality and strength

Apart from this, A2 Cow’s milk is referred to as improving “Medhya” or intellect, improving “Balya” or strength. It is a galactalogue and is also considered a dravya that is slightly laxative in nature (sara).

A2 Cow’s milk relieves “shrama” (fatigue), “bhrama” (giddiness), “mada” (intoxication), svasa (asthma /breathing / respiratory disorders), “kasa” (cough based disorder), trishna (excessive thirst). Ksut (excessive hunger), jeerna jwara (fevers brought on by indigestion / toxin buildup), “Mutrakrucha” (painful urination / dysuria), vitiated disorder of Rakta + Pitta (anemia, bleeding and circulatory disorders, etc).

Most importantly Milk is considered both Mangalyam and as a remover of “Alakshmi”. This explains its deep significance in auspicious events like going to a new home, during festivals like Lohri, Pongal, etc.

Personally, I have experienced both of these qualities first hand: the Mangalyam brought in by Milk and the “Alakshmi” brought in by rejecting Milk.

A2 Cow’s milk – benefits for Women, Men and Children

Go Ksheera is an elixir for Women as it pacifies Rakta, Pitta and Vata aggravated disorders. women are very sensitive to disorders of both Rakta and Vata . One Rakta disorder that many Indian women have is anemia and post partum women and working women are very affected by aggravated Vata dosha.

A2 cow's milk is an indispensable nutritional supplement for Indian women.

Bhavaprakasha Nighantu says that those who are weak, emaciated, suffer from chronic jwaras (malaria, dengue, chikungunya), emaciation are advised to have Milk. It is especially suitable for those who suffer from vata disorders like vertigo, anxiety, spasms, and pitta disorders like anemia, burning sensation, excessive thirst.

For women suffering from infertility / reproductive issues, , UTI, vaginal discharge, etc , Cows Milk is ideal. Women who suffer from repeated miscarriages are much benefited by daily consumption of Milk.

Also children, old people, those who suffer from “Kshata-kshina” (translated as emaciation and fatigue due to battle – in today’s context overwork) are suitable candidates for Milk drinking.

Sexually active adults are also advised to drink Milk regularly. Reproductive tissue like ova , semen are considered the very last dhatu to be formed in the body by Ayurveda, just before Ojas. So when we are sexually active, there is a chance that we lose vital dhatus in the body, especially Men. So a common practice suggested in Ayurveda is regular Milk drinking in sexually active adults to continually re-charge the body and ensure vital energy is not depleted.

Self care through Ahara: How to prepare and drink A2 Cow’s milk everyday

The simplest, and easiest and most potent form of self care you can do for yourself is to drink a glass of good quality A2 Cow’s milk every morning.

The Ayurvedic Samhitas give us some rules for preparing and consuming Milk:

  • GoKsheera must be freshly boiled, preferably within 4 – 5 hours of Milking. Once boiled it should not be heated / re-boiled in any way as the samhitas tell us that this enhances its kapha and mucous clogging properties.

A2 milk to be drunk freshly boiled

    • Many of us in India consume pasteurized milk which we re-boil at home. So we are re-boiling already “cooked” milk. As per this rule, we are all automatically subjecting ourselves to a Dravya which is guru (heavy to digest) and kapha aggravating.
    • Hence, we advise sourcing raw, fresh A2 Cow’s milk which we can boil at home
      Milk should be soruced raw, and whole without pasteurisation
  • The Go Ksheera we get should be whole and taken directly from the cow – this means it should not be altered / changed in any way.
    • Commercial milk has fat extracted/ added back to suit standard trade definitions like low fat, medium fat, full fat etc
    • Whole milk has its own proportion of fat which depends upon desha, kala, cow species, etc.
    • The properties we have described of A2 Cow’s milk only hold if this milk is unaltered in any form – so we advise sourcing fresh, whole Raw A2 cow’s milk
  • Go Ksheera must be boiled with 25% water. The Milk has to be boiled until the water completely evaporates. This makes the milk lighter, and more easy to digest.
    • When milk is boiled this way, it is processed to ensure that no Kapha aggravation results.
    • The milk is lighter, more easy to digest and is absorbed much better as well.
  • Freshly boiled, warm milk is ideal to drink. It should be flavoured with the right spices that suit each one’s prakriti

A2 Cow's milk should be flavoured with correct spicces for your prakriti to enhance absorption

What can be added to make the taste of Milk more appealing?

We have a detailed post that talks about what flavouring is beneficial for each prakriti to make A2 Cow’s milk better absorbable by the body. Please take a look.

In Greeshma (summer) , Milk drinking is very vital . As excess heat drains the body and depletes Ojas – Milk is sweet, cooling and nourishing and ideal for this weather.

Many of us have a love-hate relationship with Milk. As a child, I refused to drink warm Milk. I also disliked the sight of plain Milk. So I would demand addition of chocolate flavoured Milk additives.

The addition of such commercial Malted beverages is virrudha ahara. Many of the synthetic preservatives added to such drinks have a salty taste, and salt is virrudha ahara with Milk. Similarly adding sour substances is also virrudha ahara – citric acid and such preservatives added to these commercial Milk additives is also Virrudha Ahara.

Malted milk and other commercial milk additives are viruddha ahara

Hence: Do NOT add any commercial Malted beverage , chocolate or any flavouring agents to Milk. Please use the spices I have suggested in my post, and add good quality, unbleached, sulpharless sugar to your Milk.

I drink A2 Cow’s milk in my tea / coffee: is this good enough?

Many times I hear a response that Milk is consumed with Coffee / Tea. Please note, this is NOT Milk. Any substance added to Milk, changes / alters its properties. This is why we add certain spices to Milk like Turmeric, black pepper etc, to reduce its “Snigdha” (oil) guna, reduce its “Madhura” (sweet ) rasa and vipaka, etc.

Both coffee and tea strongly alter of the properties of Milk. So when we add these to Milk, we get a milder version of Coffee / Tea and not a slightly altered version of Milk.

Milk based coffee and tea is not milk.

This is good if you habitually consume Coffee and tea – both beverages are too strong and acidic to be consumed black / without Milk. You will do your gut lining a great favour by adding Milk.

But you will not get any of the good properties of Milk  in this manner.

Some other Issues with dairy farming: Commercial dairy practices and Going Vegan

As with all things that are good for us, we must learn to love and respect Cows Milk. It is important to choose a dairy farm where cruelty free diary practices are followed and the cows are respected and looked after well. Drinking hormone laced, antibiotic full Milk is harmful to health. It is also critical to choose milk from a dairy farm that contains desi, indigenous Indian cow breeds.

Ayurveda tells us that the Milk of the Gho (cow) is ideally suited for us. The Acharyas describe the Cow’s love, Compassion and kindness and intelligence and conclude that such Milk can ideally add to the human diet and enhance Medhya and Buddhi in the body, especially when enhanced with select herbs. Such a Divine Animal must not be mistreated. If we drink Milk from an abused Animal, it does us more harm than good and we accumulate Paapa (sin) according to Ayurveda.

Even small amounts of well sourced, cruelty free A2 Cow’s milk can act as an elixir to us. On the other hand, even high amounts of cruelty filled, antibiotic A1 Milk will do no good for us.

My experience with going vegan and why I do not recommend a vegan diet in general:

There is a whole, separate post waiting to be written about my experience with going vegan. As a lifelong vegetarian and wanting to live a more ethical life, I was horrified by commercial dairy farming practices.

So on the strength of my conviction, I went vegan in 2010 along with my partner, Srinivas Krishnaswamy.

We were committed and strict vegans until 2015 for 5 years. In 2016, on the consistent advice of my Vaidya and seeing disastrous health issues with being vegan, I switched back to a Vegetarian diet. At that time, I was suffering from severe anemia, and nutritional deficiencies. All of these were slowly corrected through Ayurvedic treatment and Ahara Niyama including drinking Milk.

In the case of Srinivas, his health issues were MUCH more severe. He developed a form of gout, described in Ayurveda as Vata Rakta. This is a SEVERE and aggravated increase in vata Dosha leading to extreme weight loss, extreme degeneration of bone, joint and teeth , and severe, constant pain while using the bones and joints. So for 2 years, Srinivas suffered from loose and shaky teeth, severe weight loss, reduced appetite, insomnia, anxiety and swelling of bone and joints – all signs of aggravated and imbalanced vata dosha.

Again in his case, it took Ayurvedic treatment of nearly a year with special medications, restricted travel and addition of good quantities of carefully sourced Milk and Ghee to make up for the nutritional deficiency.

When we begin to follow Ayurveda, we come to the realisation that Ayurveda and veganism do not co-exist. Go Ksheera , carefully sourced A2 Cow’s milk is a panacea in Ayurveda.

It is consumed extensively during pregnancy, post partum, as a child, as an adult and in old age. It is only restricted in a few disease conditions.

All the modern milk based foods that we consume are not advised in Ayurveda. So there is no over dosing on cheese, curd, high amounts of paneer etc. We are advised to have some milk, small amount of buttermilk (obtained after making butter) and decent quantities of ghee.

There is a huge, disastrous, un-thought through urgency in the Vegan movement today, especially in India. Buoyed by a few studies like the China Study and limited success in a few disease conditions like diabetes (where Ayurveda anyway advises to follow a largely vegan diet), many Medical professionals, Nutritional experts and Vegan concerts are urging people to drop Dairy completely.

Nuanced debates on A1 vs A2 milk, on the benefits of a small amount of carefully chosen dairy, or even the differences between different Milk by products are not discussed in this wave. Ayurveda does not treat A1 and A2 milk as the same. Neither are the properties of Milk and curd the same nor is butter and ghee interchangeable.

Most importantly, enough is not being said about the issues many Vegans continue to face after many years of giving up on the beneficial aspects of Milk. I have shared my issues and my partner’s issues in detail here.

However, We are far from being the only Ex Vegans with health issues.

In my work, I have met many Vegans with extremely high vata aggravation, bone and joint disorders, restricted Menstrual blood flow, oral issues like loose and falling teeth  etc. At a simple level, many of the Vegans who have come to us at Krya complain of loose and brittle and falling hair, very high skin darkening and joint and bone issues like gout. All of this is linked to aggravated Vata dosha DIRECTLY affecting asthi dhatu (bone ) which is a key seat of Vata dosha in the body. Asthi Dhatu has a direct and immediate correlation with bone and joint health and the health of hair.

The aggravation in Vata dosha in the Vegan diet can be attributed to 2 key causes: Dropping Milk and ghee from the diet which potently bind aggravated Vata dosha in the body. The second reason is ADDING on a high amount of nuts, seeds and lentils and attempting to substitute Dairy with modified forms of Nuts , seeds and Lentils.

As we can guess, Nuts , Seeds and Lentils are already high in Vata Dosha and have dramatically different properties from Milk, ghee and other dairy products in Ayurveda. For example: Cashew milk can never be a substitute to A2 Cow’s milk – to think that something that looks and tastes like Cow’s Milk IS Cow’s Milk is absurd.

Nuts and their derivatives can strongly aggravate vata dosha

I share my Vegan story and my concerns around this movement to sound a warning bell. If you do intend to make such sweeping health changes, please consult many more health professionals, especially an Ayurvedic Vaidya who can examine you and ascertain if your body can handle this transition.

Do remember: We never miss good health until we lose it!

I haven’t drunk A2 Cow’s milk in a while: how to start?

 Most of us have an aversion to Milk. I did too.

At first it was extremely difficult for me to drink Milk. Milk is dense and slightly heavy to digest. It takes getting used to. It also has a subtle taste, especially if it is drunk without additives like chocolate, coffee, tea, etc.

I started with a small glass of Milk. I was slowly able to increase the volume of Milk drunk as my system got used to it. I am still unable to drink Milk twice a day as is advised for my stress level and activity. But I am able to drink 1 glass of Milk in the morning everyday and it is a good start.

Silver enhances the properties of Milk:

The Ayurvedic texts advise that Milk is ideally stored and drunk in a silver vessel. Metals are extremely important to enhance health as per Ayurveda and we are advised to eat and drink out of glasses and plates made with silver and gold. This ensures very minute quantities of these metals enter our body via the ghee and milk we consume in these vessels.

silver enhances milk properties

Milk drinking procedure to be followed:

Keep a separate silver glass / tumbler for each family member if possible. This is the case with all personal eating utensils, as the metal interacts with your lips, fingers, etc as you mix your food and drink your milk. The body the  absorbs whatever is appropriate for it from your glass / plate.

As soon as the milk is boiled, pour the appropriate amount into your silver tumbler and mix your sugar, spices, etc into the tumbler. Allow the milk to cool in this tumbler until it reaches a temperature you are happy with. Milk should be sipped warm, but everyone differs in how much warmth they can handle.

When should you be drinking Milk, ideally?

Ayurveda advises that you give yourself time to slowly enter the day when you wake up. This contemplative time is ideal for Milk drinking. Find a comfortable spot and look outside at trees / birds, etc while you slowly sip your milk.

Milk should be had only on an empty stomach. Morning is best as it gives your body time to absorb the Milk slowly. If this is not possible, evening time (around 4) is ok, but the stomach should be clear and empty.

Night Milk drinking is ONLY advised for old people, patients, people who are very emaciated, small children etc. Here too, in the case of Adults, Milk should be drunk on an empty stomach and enough time should be allowed for the body to digest the Milk – one must not go to sleep immediately. For these reasons, I suggest drinking Milk only in the daytime.

To Sum up: Benefits and Properties of A2 Cow’s milk

I hope this article gave you an insight into the great esteem with which Ayurveda holds carefully sourced A2 Cow’s milk and its by products.

We write this article after a great deal of personal experimentation, harrowing health issues, and after experiencing the painful process of building our health one step at a time. We hope our experiences helps you make the right health decisions for you and your family. We also hope this article gives you insights into the importance of dairy and how you must include it for good health benefits.

If you have any questions on this, please write to us or call / whatsapp us (0-75500-89090)

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Abhyanga modification for Spring (Vasanta Ritu)

abhyanga modification suggested for vasanta ritu - by krya
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Reading Time: 9 minutes

The abhyanga is a powerful Dinacharya that gives us good health and well being. When done regularly it helps improve strength, balance aggravated doshas and also improves skin health and hair health. However, as we have seen, Ayurveda also advises following Ritucharya practices. These are changes / modifications to food habits and daily practices in each season.  In today’s post we will look at the abhyanga modification to be done for Spring (Vasanta Ritu).

In our earlier post on Vasanta Ritucharya, we have covered why a change in habits is required in this season. In Spring (Vasanta Ritu), just like ice melts in the Mountain tops due to the presence of the sun, the Sun’s movement helps melt accumulated Kapha in our bodies too.

Just like ice melts in the mountain top in spring, kapha melts in our body in spring

As this Kapha beings to circulate in the body, we experience a surfeit of mucous related issues like colds, runny noses, hay fever, etc. Particularly if we did not follow the Ritucharya rule in Winter about putting accumulated Kapha to work through intensive exercise, we will have to deal with aggravated Kapha in spring.

The presence of this liquid Kapha in the body creates a few challenges to the practice of abhyanga in spring. As there is more Kapha circulating in the body, there is a resistance to oil absorption.

Also, as Kapha tends to increase heaviness and stiffness in the body, we must be VERY careful during Abhyanga NOT to contribute further to this feeling of “gurutva” or heaviness and stiffness in the body.

Abhyanga Contraindications :

Before we get into the post on the abhyanga modification to be done in spring, here are some basic precautions to follow while attempting this Dinacharya.

  • Do NOT do Abhyanga is you are pregnant or are menstruating
  • Do NOT do Abhyanga if you are tired, have had low sleep or are otherwise fatigued
  • Do NOT do abhyanga if you are running a temperature, have a fever or are ill
  • Do NOT do an abhyanga if you have indigestion or any gastric complaint
  • Do NOT do an abhyanga AFTER a heavy meal or in the evening
  • Do NOT do an abhyanga after an intensive workout or after heavy sun exposure

Abhyanga contraindications and general rules should be followed in all seasons.

Abhyanga modification for spring (Vasanta Ritu):

1. Yoga / Exercise BEFORE Abhyanga

In Winter, we recommend doing intensive exercise or doing housework AFTER doing an Abhyanga. When this practice is done in Winter where the external cold is high, the warmth generated by the body during exercise helps in the deeper and better absorption of the oil. However the exercise has to be of an intensive level in order to generate warmth in a cold season.

An important part of the abhyanga modification in Spring is a change in the order of exercise and abhyanga . As Kapha is already melted and circulating in the body, we recommend warming the body with light exercise or housework BEFORE starting the Abhyanga.

In vasanta do exercise before abhyanga

This exercise BEFORE the Abhyanga helps settle down circulating Kapha. It also helps the body warm up internally and allows the oil to penetrate the skin better in this season.

2. Do Abhyanga early

We have written earlier about how the day is divided into 4 hour parts and how each part is dominated by a particular dosha. The period between 6 am – 10 am is dominated by Kapha dosha, when we all wake up, do an abhyanga, bathe, eat breakfast, etc.

Doing an abhyanga in the Kapha period is generally not recommended. This is much more of a problem in Spring when aggravated Kapha is already flowing freely through the body. So if you are doing an Abhyanga between 6 am – 10 am, please do the Abhyanga as early as possible in this 4 hour period.

An early morning abhyanga is recommended in Vasanta

Even if you are unable to wake up before dawn for abhyanga, try and do your abhyanga in the early part of the Kapha period.

This abhyanga modification is recommended to ensure that the abhyanga leaves you feeling light and refreshed. Doing an abhyanga at 9 am vs 6 am will make your body feel stiff and heavy as you are applying oil ( a kapha increasing dravya) in a high Kapha time During a Kapha dominant season.

Late Abhyanga in Kapha peak = Aggravated Kapha

3. WARM the oil before Abhyanga

Warming oil is a generally useful suggestion throughput the year. However, it is especially relevant in Vasanta Ritu to avoid cooling the body and aggravating Kapha further.

In Spring, use warm oil for abhyanga

This abhyanga modification is recommended to help penetrate the skin and body much better. Warm oil is lighter, more sookshma and penetrates skin much faster than cold oil. Cold oil can further aggravate Kapha in the body.

Cold Oil = More Kapha

4. Use LESS Oil and Massage MORE

Due to the high amount of Kapha circulation in the body, using a high amount of oil during Abhyanga can potentially cool and stiffen the body due to aggravated Kapha. Therefore in this season, it is advisable to use slightly less oil than normal during Abhyanga and MORE massage + movement.

In vasanta, use less oil fo abhyanga with more massage

This abhyanga modification helps us get the benefit of abhyanga in this season without deranging kapha dosha.

More oil = More Kapha = More stiffness

5. Squeeze the limbs well during Abhyanga

An abhyanga massage with squeezing action is called Mardana.  Mardana massage is very useful in Spring as it helps draw out Kapha out of the body and ensure it does not get stuck and cause heaviness and stiffness in the body.

Use a downward squeezing action (mardana) especially in limbs.

Mardana action is suggested in Spring Abhyanga to constrict the movement of Kapha

This abhyanga modification is suggested to remove the feeling of heaviness and stiffness in the body which is common in this season. This restrains Kapha from spreading easily in the body. It also directs its proper flow and encourages movement out of the body.

6. Soak LESS after your Abhyanga

Generally we recommend waiting for 15 minutes after your Abhyanga. This “soak time” is useful to help the oil to penetrate deeper into the body. It also gives you a breather after a rigorous Abhyanga routine before you begin your Snana.

In Vasanta Ritu, the Soak time after Abhyanga should be very short. If you are a Sinusitis sufferer or are prone to coughs and colds, you may skip the soak altogether and directly begin your Snana. This is an important abhyanga modification in this season to prevent kapha aggravation.

The more you soak, the colder your body gets.

Cold = Kapha.

7. Bathe TWICE after Abhyanga

Bathing (Snana) is a critical practice to be done correctly in Vasanta (Spring).  When the snana is done correctly, the body feels well cleansed, and light after Abhyanga without any Kapha aggravation.

In Vasanta, it is a good practice to do Two Snanas (scrub the body, rinse and repeat) with a herb ubtan.

Bathe twice after abhyanga in vasanta

This abhyanga modification is suggested for 2 reasons. It ensures BOTH that applied oil is removed and that body is left cleaner as the Snana removes oily secretions deep in the srotas. If oil remains on the body in this season, you will feel stiff and heavy due to Kapha aggravation.

Krya’s Ubtans are best for post Abhyanga baths – our regular bodywashes just cannot remove oil as cleanly as our Ubtans do. but even our Ubtans will have to be used twice in this season, because of Melted Kapha.

8. Bathe in reasonably warm water:

Many Krya consumers complain to us when we remind them that according to Ayurveda, this season is Vasanta (Spring) and not Greeshma (Summer). Due to urbanization, urban heat effect and climate change, our once mild Vasanta (spring) feels hot, boiling and like a scorching summer.

But it IS NOT summer, not yet. Even though the weather is hot, your nose and throat might feel runny, you will sneeze more . These are signs of melting Kapha.

Melting Kapha = Vasanta / Spring.

In Summer, Kapha would have finished melting and would no longer circulate freely in the body.

To ensure that you do no further add to aggravate Kapha, please bathe in warm and not cold water. Bathing in very hot water will further liquefy Kapha. So your bathing water must be warm but not very hot.

bathe in warm and not hot water in Vasanta

9. Avoid aggravating Kapha & Pitta by Ahara (food) or other activities on Abhyanga days

Eating Kapha OR Pitta aggravating food / doing Kapha + Pitta aggravating activities in Abhyanga days. Kapha aggravating food will add to already excess Kapha in the body. Pitta aggravating food will melt more Kapha causing more runniness, colds, and more circulation of melted kapha.

10. Ensure your scalp is as dry as possible in this season

In this season, a wet scalp may mean sinus and kapha aggravation. Please use Rasanadi choorna LIBERALLY in this season: Inhale it, apply it on the crown of the head, on the sinuses of the head, behind the ears, etc.

Dry your hair quickly and efficiently using 2 towels if necessary. Do NOT sit in an air conditioned car / environment with wet hair.

Keep the scalp dry in Vasanta

If you find that your scalp is sweating, you may still use Rasanadi choornam to ensure the water does not seep into the sinusitis aggravating Kapha.

Cold = water freezing on scalp = Kapha.

Krya’s Abhyanga Products for Vasanta Ritu:

Classic Abhyanga Snana Range: general purpose for all Prakritis especially Pitta leaning prakriti

This Abhyanga Snana Range is a general Abhyanga Oil + Ubtans suitable for all prakritis, with no major aggravation in any one dosha. The Krya Classic abhyanga oil is a 34 ingredient proprietary formulation. The herbs and herb compositions have been carefully chosen from the classical samhitas. This is a balanced Abhyanga oil which helps balance all 3 doshas. It is suitable for both Men and Women and is a general abhyanga oil that can help all prakritis.

The Krya Classic Abhyanga oil goes with either the Krya Women’s Ubtan (Classic) OR the Krya Men’s Ubtan (Classic).

 

If you are a high Kapha prakriti, we advise using less Abhyanga oil which has been well warmed, more vigorous massage and bathing twice with the Ubtan – this is a guideline to ensure there is no further Kapha aggravation.

Intense Abhyanga Snana Range:

If you are intensely Vata dominant, or are a Post Partum woman or have an INTENSIVE exercise routine (marathoners, regular gym goers), the Intense Abhyanga Snana range is more suitable for you.

We have also recommended Intense abhyanga Oil for those on a low fat / limited fat diet and a Vegan diet – such diets usually aggravate Vata very quickly – so if you are on one and are noticing skin darkening and sudden weight loss, it is time to both re-examine your diet and use the Intense abhyanga Oil.

The Krya Intense Abhyanga Oil is a 41 ingredient proprietary formulation. This oil has been formulated to balance aggravated Vata dosha, so it is warming and intensely Vata balancing in nature. It is not recommended unless your Vata dosha is really out of balance. Pitta aggravated individuals might find this oil too hot and warming for their liking. In some cases Kapha aggravated individuals can also use this oil. If you have any queries, please call / write to us seeking clarifications.

The Krya Intense Abhyanga oil goes with the Krya Women’s Ubtan (Intense) which is a new launch. This is a special women’s ubtan designed with a high amount of Mangalyam (auspicious), Vata balancing , astringent, skin health improving herbs. This is especially suitable for post partum women.

We do not yet have a Krya Men’s Ubtan (Intense) – so to go along with the Intense Abhyanga oil, Men can continue to use Krya Men’s Ubtan (Classic).

To sum up – abhyanga modifications in spring

We hope this post gave you a good idea of both the importance of Abhyanga as a Dinacharya and the correct modifications you should be following in this season to get the most of your abhyanga.

If you are keen on adopting this Dinacharya, but still have questions, please write to us or Call/WhatsApp us (0-75500-89090).

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What are healthy eating timings according to Ayurveda ?

Krya blog post on healthy eating timings in ayurveda
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Reading Time: 11 minutes

A common misconception we hear at Krya is about healthy eating timings to follow and meal choice at each time. Today the Media is full of advice on nutrition and guides to healthy eating. Different theories abound on calculating protein and carbohydrate content of food, eating unpolished grains and ensuring higher nutrition by eating raw, unprocessed foods. It is no wonder that many of us are confused and seek advice on ahara and ahara niyama.

Is the diet and nutritional advise out there just confusing you

A key part of Ahara niyama in Ayurveda is the selection of proper / healthy eating timings. This influences the capacity to digest food, and our capacity to extract nutrients from food.

In fact, choosing the correct time to eat each meal has  a similar influence as choosing what to eat, on our health. In other words, we should spend the same amount of time planning when to eat as planning what to eat

In this post, we will see why Ayurveda pays so much attention to good eating timings and how we can improve our health and well-being by working out a healthy eating time schedule for us and our family.

Selection of healthy eating timings: Different Doshas influence different day parts

Ayurveda tells us that each day is divided into 4 hour dayparts. Each of these dayparts is connected to the slow rise, peaking and then falling of a particular dosha in our body.

Dosha surge in body corresponds to day part

The strength of the surge in the Dosha depends upon the movement of the Sun. So, for example, if there is Sunshine during a Kapha period, the effect of Kapha is slightly reduced. Similarly, if there is good Sunshine, say during a Pitta daypart, Pitta will be much more aggravated due to the influence of the sun.

In order to take advantage of these natural surges in a particular Dosha, we are advised to do certain activities during certain day parts. Our body’s internal workings also take advantage of the dosha surges in day parts.

As long as we do not tamper with our internal clock by eating at inappropriate times or sleeping at inappropriate times, we can be sure that our body is always working to ensure that we stay in good health and harmony.

An example is to wake up during a Vata day part and eat during a Pitta day part. Pitta influenced day parts are ideally suited to digest and process food. Hence a pitta day part makes perfect sense and is ideal  for our heaviest / largest meal.

Similarly, waking up during a Vata day part ensures we are able to utilize the creativity, enthusiasm and high energy that such a day part offers us.

Waking up in a Vata influenced day part helps provdie teh body with energy, and creativity

This is why our Acharyas recommend waking up during Brahma Muhurtha ( 90 minutes before sunrise) – by design Brahma Muhurta occurs after during the peak surge plus gradual drop of Vata dosha.

Waking up this time therefore gives us high energy, mental clarity and freshness through the day. In fact, many commentators say that waking up during this times allows for a “dosha re-balance” that is close to your natural state.

Selection of healthy eating timings: Choosing the correct Pitta day part for our heaviest meals

The process of kindling of appetite, production of salivary and gastric enzymes, digestion, absorption of nutrients and separation of food into useful and non useful by-products that eventually leave the body, are ALL governed by Pitta dosha and its various branches.

Pitta dosha is strongly influenced by the sun as “Agni” is one of the 2 Pancha mahaboothas that make up Pitta dosha. Therefore when the Sun reaches its Peak, with maximum Agni, the Pitta in our body is also at its peak, around noon.

Pitta energy peaks at noon due to the movement of the sun

So ideally, the correct time for our heaviest meal should be Noon.

But here comes a problem.

In traditional times, we ate one / two meals a day. In modern times this has been stretched to 3 meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner with sometimes 2 – 3 small meals / snacks between these meals.

Breakfast is usually around 8 am. Lunch around noon time and dinner is again around 8 pm. Many of us may also additionally snack on fruit juices, buttermilk, fruits, nuts and seeds or even cooked snacks between these 3 main meals.

Are you etaing many small meals on mistaken nutritional advice?

 Hence we may be overloading our body with food at the unhealthy eating timings – this leads to Ama build up in the body and weakens digestive fire.

Also, as many of us are stressed for time in the busy morning, we reserve our largest meal for our evening meal, i.e Dinner. Many families / friends also go out to Dinner during weekends to bond and catch up over food. This is great from the point of view of building relationships, but not so great from the point of your Digestive Agni and build up of Ama (toxins in the body).

There is a strong chance of over-eating and eating the wrong food for this day part in these occasions, leading to Ama build up in the body. 

Eating with groups of people at Dinner may cuase us to overeat, increaisng chances of Ama in the body

How to utilize the 2 Pitta day-parts everyday to make a healthy eating time table?

Ayurveda tells us that there are 2 Pitta strong dayparts in the day, 10 am – 2 pm in the morning and 10 pm – 2 am at night. The first Pitta daypart peaks at 12 noon approximately and the other at 12 midnight. As the Pitta peak coming at midnight is dampened by the absence of the sun, the BEST and MOST IDEALLY STRONG digestive Agni occurs at noon, in the day time.

So we should eat our heaviest meal of the day, as close to Noon time as possible . At this time, if we eat the right Ahara for our prakriti, there is the greatest chance for this food to be well digested, and properly absorbed with high nutrient retention inside the body.

Eating at teh correct time in the correct quantity strongly influences nutrient absorption in the body

 

What happens during the second Pitta day part at night?

In normal circumstances, the Pitta peak at midnight is utilized by the body to “tune up” Pitta organs like the Liver ,Spleen, etc. This repair and maintenance activity is ONLY done if Digestion is fully complete.

It takes the body upto 3 – 4 hours to digest a single meal fully. This timing slows down if the meal is extremely heavy, improper for our prakriti, improper for the Ritu, or contains a high amount of Guru foods (curd, sweets, red meat, etc), Or if Agni is weak / impaired due to Wrong Ahara and Wrong Ahara Niyama.

If the body is engaged in Digestion at the second Pitta time, the maintenance of Liver , spleen and Other Pitta organs DOES NOT TAKE Place. Habitually eating late means that these organs are under a severe strain without the time or space given to do their maintenance. This puts the body’s health under duress.

Eating at teh correct time also allows the body to do its regular maintenance activities

The ability of the body to digest is weakened severely post Sunset. So we are advised to have the lightest meal of the day as Dinner, and NOT the heaviest as is ritually the case with many of us.

It is also wise not to go out to eat for Dinner, experiment with new cuisines which may be heavy / difficult to digest or eat socially (as we often end up over eating in these situations). Instead we can reserve these activities for Noon, when our Digestive Fire + the sun can help us digest such experimental meals.

Choosing healthy eating timings: Effect on Agni + Ama when Kapha is aggravated

 In the normal course of events, we have only one Pitta rich day part to eat and digest a meal properly. Our other 2 commonly eaten meals of breakfast and dinner are BOTH in Kapha dominant dayparts of 6 am to 10 am, and 6 pm – 10 pm, respectively.

Kapha aggravation can produce “Mandagni” (reduced digestive fire), tamasic thoughts especially when food is tamasic, sloth, laziness and weight gain when ahara is improper.

In cases of Mandagni, the Agni is in a doused and weak condition. Its ability to digest food and absorb nutrients is extremely poor. So even if we feed the healthiest and best food to our body when it is in a state of Mandagni, it will be of little use to us. The body will generate Ama instead of digesting the food as the Agni is unable to handle the digestion process.

Instead of being fully digested, Food may be only partially digested. The undigested food will putrefy inside the system producing bloating, inflammation, and reducing the appetite and increasing heaviness in the body.

Heavy eating at peak kapha periods can increase chances of Mandagni in the body

This is why the combination of improper ahara and eating during a peak Kapha period is the precursor to an Ama disaster in the body.  The evening Kapha period when we have dinner is far worse than the morning Kapha period when we have breakfast.

The morning Kapha period, is weaker in the kapha surge. This is due to the presence of the Sun and increased activity on our part . This is why we have less trouble digesting our breakfast compared to digesting our dinner.

In the evening time, as the sun sets, Kapha dominance becomes extremely strong and our activity levels are on the wane . The later we eat, the worse our digestive capacity / food absorption is going to be.

Ahara Niyama (Eating guidelines) as per Ayurveda:

Here is an Ayurvedic recommendation for meals:

Breakfast moderately, lunch well, and eat dinner very sparingly.

To repeat: Eat a moderate breakfast, a good lunch and a sparing dinner

Any fruits, or in-between meal snacks should ONLY be eaten if there is good hunger and appetite. Do NOT eat because you have read that eating 6 small meals is healthy or that it is good for you “to graze”. Grazing animals have a completely different digestive system – we cannot follow their method of eating through the day.

Ideally all meals should be freshly made and hot as per Ayurveda. However, because both our breakfast and dinner is eaten during a Kapha surge, please eat food that is freshly cooked and hot. At these meals, the body’s ability to digest stale meals is impaired. Stale meals are higher in “gurutva” as per Ayurveda, so they are more difficult to breakdown and can quickly aggravate Kapha.

 

Freshly made, hot food id recommended for breakfats and dinner to counter the effect of Kapha surge

During breakfast and dinner,  Kapha rich foods like sweets, cakes, desserts, sweet fruits,  meats and foods like curd should be avoided. Any manner of cold / refrigerated food , cold drinks should also be reduced / avoided. If leftover rice is being used from the morning, we advise that you re-wash and re-steam the rice to remove some of its “gurutva” (heaviness).  

avoid kapha triggering foods like desserts and sweets during Dinner

Avoid difficult to digest food like raw food, highly complex cereals, and heavy lentils like Rajma, Channa, etc, for Dinner. They can be eaten in very small quantities occasionally at Breakfast, only if Digestive fire is good and activity level is high.

Choosing healthy eating timings: Recommendations by Prakriti

Aggravated Kapha / Kapha leaning prakriti – healthy eating timings:

For those with Kapha leaning prakriti or Kapha aggravation (weight issues, poor hair growth) we suggest eating Dinner as early as possible within the evening Kapha cycle.  

For example, eating at 7 pm means that only 1 hour has passed in the Kapha cycle of 4 hours. But eating at 9, means that the body has had 3 hours to accumulate Kapha – so digestive fire needs to be more intense to combat the coldness wetness and heaviness produced by the natural Kapha upsurge in the body.

Eat eraly dinners if Kapha prakriti is high

Apart from eating as early as possible, food must be light, well cooked, warm and devoid of kapha aggravating foods. Foods that are rich in oils, nuts and seeds, sweet foods, etc must not be eaten at Dinner.

Deepana & Pachana herbs that are recommended for Vata prakriti can also be used. In addition, mildly sour foods help kindle appetite and reduce Mandagni for this prakriti. So food can be flavoured with local tomatoes, lemon, small amount of ripe tamarind, etc. Well churned, well diluted buttermilk can also be taken at night.

Aggravated Vata / Vata leaning prakriti – healthy eating timings:

Vata leaning and Vata aggravated individuals have “Vishama agni” (Inconsistent Agni). So they will find that their appetite, ability to digest food, etc greatly varies from day to day. So here, apart from ensuring Dinner is eaten early and Kapha aggravating foods are avoided, the Agni needs to be trained and brought under control.

Vata leaning and vata aggravated individuals often have weak and dry hair, poor skin texture, suffers from bone and joint aches and disorders, abnormal skin darkening, gas, bloating, etc.

For such individuals, it is especially important to eat Deepana (appetite kindling) and Pachana (digestive) spices along with their evening meal and eat freshly cooked, hot, light , appetizing food. This food must be eaten at the same time every day as a habit. Training the body with regular meal timings and proving deepana and pachana herbs along with tasty food brings Vishama Agni under control.

Deepana and Pachana herbs and spices are excellent for Vata prakritis

Deepana and Pachana herbs that help Vishama Agni are Maricha (black pepper), Pippali (long pepper), Sunthi (dry ginger), Jeera (cumin), Curry leaf, hingu (asafetida), Black salt (small doses) and Saindhava Lavana (rock salt).

Aggravated Pitta / Pitta leaning prakriti – healthy eating timings:

Pitta aggravated / Pita leaning individuals are very sensitive to changes in eating timings and are most affected by improper dinner timings. Such individuals suffer from premature greying, hair thinning, gastritis, acidity, anger management issues, Blood pressure, acne, skin sensitivity, sun burn, etc.

Why is late dinner so problematic for Pitta aggravated/ Pitta leaning individuals?

We often find that Pitta dominant people never have a problem with appetite, but when they eat late, they develop gastric, acidity, sour belching etc. This is because of 2 reasons:

The later we eat in the Kapha cycle, we need to utilize more Pitta energy to combat Kapha upsurge. This is already high in Pitta leaning people – so they will extract MORE Pitta energy simply to digest their food.

The second reason is that after the Kapha cycle, we are in the beginning of the second Pitta cycle which starts at 10 pm. If we eat at say 9:30, instead of Pitta energy being used up and subdued after digestion if we had eaten at 7 pm, we will experience a second wind in Pitta at 10 pm. This will excite Pitta further. This also keeps us awake, gives us poor sleep as the body is engaged in energy intensive digestion at this time, instead of repair and regeneration of important pitta organs like liver, spleen, etc which is usually the case.

Pitta aggravated / leaning individuals do very well when they have a fresh, warm meal around 8 pm without any Pitta aggravating dravyas. Such people should avoid eating fried / oily food, sour food, salty food and other Pitta aggravating foods at night.

Avoid exciting Pitta dosha heavily for Pitta individuals during dinner

Suggestions for Pitta-Kapha aggravated individuals:

For many people with high Pitta-Kapha imbalance (Acne, PCOD / PCOS, pre-diabetes, etc), we advise completing dinner before 8 pm, and then drinking a glass of hot water about 30 minutes before sleep around 9:45 pm – 10 pm.

This has a stomach clearing effect, and aids elimination of toxins out of the body. This should not be done very late and strongly into the Pitta night period as it could the re-stimulate Pitta dosha. This is why we suggest doing this at the beginning of the Pitta day part or earlier, depending upon your eating timing.

To sum up: healthy eating timings for all based on ayurveda

We hope you found this post on choosing the healthy eating timings as per Ayurveda useful. We also hope this post gave you easy to implement modifications in both your selection of food and also when and how to eat your meals depending upon your prakriti.

An ideal suggestion as per Ayurveda is to eat by 7 pm, and go to sleep BEFORE the second Pitta surge starts at 10 pm. This is most ideal for rest, recuperation, good sleep and energy the next morning. If this is not possible, we must atleast avoid eating close to 10 pm and try and complete dinner around the half mark of the Kapha period, which is 8 pm.

We often say that Ayurveda is a holistic , health giving science. As we can see in this post, the acharyas have thought through every aspect of human existence and have given painstakingly accurate, logical and holistic suggestions to maintain health and well being.

We hope you too found the suggestions given in this post useful for your and your family. If you have any questions on this, please email us.

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