Reduce Eye Strain with Ayurveda in Seven Steps

how ayurveda can help relieve eye fatigue and strain by Krya
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Our series this week discusses 5 common problems that urban dwellers face and what Ayurveda recommends should be done to mitigate these problems. A common problem we face today is Eye strain and fatigue due to over use of laptops, computers and electronic devices. Today’s post will explore how you can easily & visibly reduce eye strain with Ayurveda .

 

5 comoon urban problems

The first in our series is eye fatigue and strain caused by over use of the laptop or smartphone: Computer vision syndrome. 

Do you have Eye Fatigue?

Do you constantly feel eye fatigue? Do you develop headaches after a long bout at your computer? Are you seeing premature greying and hair dryness?  Do your eyes feel dry, scratchy and itchy? You could be experiencing computer vision syndrome / computer related eye strain.

Eye strain is a real and wide-spread problem today, which affects both kids and adults. For several hours every day, we stare at electronic screens across phones, tablet, TV and computers. So we are all affected to varying degrees.

Do you have eye strain & fatigue? You could be suffering from Computer Vision syndrome.

The symptoms are blurred vision, double vision, dry eyes, headaches, eye pain, neck strain, eye-irritation and eye watering. The factors that induce eye strain are the number of hours of screen-time, the size of the screen, the strength of your vision, light levels and posture.

Causes for Eye Strain as per Ayurveda :

It is astonishing that our ancient Ayurvedic texts are able to give us a rationale behind a seemingly modern problem. Acharya Sushruta tells us that all Netra Rogas (diseases of the eye), occur due to the following causes:

Imbalance of hot and cold ( Ushnabhitaptasya)

When the body heat is very high, there is a vasodilation of blood vessels to help excess heat to be transmitted outside. When this hot body steps into a cold environment, the dilated vessels suddenly have to constrict to ensure heat loss is minimal. When we constantly keep having this change in temperature, we over-work all blood vessels, including the ones in the eyes, leading to eye redness, weak muscles and poor circulation.

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: hot-cold imbalance causes eye strain

Doorekshanat :

This is when we repeatedly strain the eye muscles to see far away objects or to see fine and small objects (Sookshma vision) – This distorts the vision, over accustoming the eye muscle to only one kind of work

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Repeatedly straining the eyes to read fine print increases eye strain

Krodha, Shoka & Bhaya (Anger, Grief and Fear) :

Emotional strain in difficult environments over aggravates the emotional qualities of Pitta and vata dosha. Krodha or anger activates Pitta dosha, and Shoka and Bhaya activates Vata dosha. The dosha aggravation strains the eye’s muscles.

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Excessive anger, fear and grief increase eye strain.

Vega vinigraha (suppression of natural urges) :

In many office goers, we observe suppression of urges like urination – this is especially common among women. This leads to disturbance in Apana vayu and aggravates vata dosha throughout the body when it is carried out for a long time. The urge to sleep (nidra) and the urge to cry (Ashru) are both urges which should not be suppressed as per Ayurveda. Working well beyond our bed time, suppression strong emotional responses, and not blinking often to help the production of tears to moisten the eyes, worsen the health of our eyes and increase eye strain.

Vriddhi Ahara (incompatible food) :

Ushna and Amla ahara (salty, spicy and sour tastes) aggravate eye strain. All 3 tastes aggravate Pitta dosha which increase the Agni in the eye, causing high eye strain and watering.

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Foods that are sour, salty & spicy aggravate Pitta Dosha. This in turn, increases eye strain.

Ratri Jagarati – (Night vigil) :

In the texts, the Acharyas mention that certain occupations which require Night vigil (Ratri jagrati) are more prone to eye strain like soldiers, guards, etc. Today, Ratri Jagrati has become a common feature in many urban homes. Due to late night working, late dinners, and late television watching, we are all prone to eye strain due to use of the eyes at the wrong time.

 

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Staying up late and night and delayed bed time can also aggravate eye strain.

 

Ayurveda says that a disease must be tackled from the “Hetu” or root cause. So also, eye strain or Computer Vision Syndrome must be treated by examining the root causes listed above.

In addition, here are 7 Ayurvedic recommendations on how we can reduce / prevent eye fatigue below.

Reduce Eye Strain with Ayurveda in Seven easy ways:

Control the hot-cold imbalance 1 : Regular hair oiling to reduce Ushna

Keep the head cool and allow natural removal of excess ushna everyday through daily oil application. Remember, we encounter fresh stress everyday – so this fresh stress which aggravates pitta dosha must be tackled everyday by regular and frequent application of the right Ayurvedic hair oil. We have given recommendations for Krya hair oils below.

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Regular hair oiling reduces eye strain and fatigue.

 

Control the hot-cold imbalance 2 – regulate the body temperature

Regulate the body temperature, especially if working in an air conditioned atmosphere. We often advise that you carry a light jacket / shawl to simulate the normal temperature outside your office. Request office admin to set temperatures between 24 – 26 degrees centigrade (this will also bring down electricity bills), and drink warming, non diuretic, and nourishing drinks in your office (so no tea, coffee, cola, cold fruit juices – instead warm water and a warm, natural spiced beverage is ideal).

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Keeping your body temperature steady and warm and avoiding hot-cold imbalance improves vision.

 

Alternate between “Sookshma” and far vision:

Use your complete range of eye vision – so if you are constantly on a computer, take a break every hour or so to gaze into the distance (preferably at trees or greenery). Reduce your “Night vigil” and work towards saner and more balanced work timings.

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Take a break from repeated fine use of your eyes to gaze into the distance. This relieves eye strain.

 

Do not suppress natural urges:

Do NOT suppress natural urges like the urge to use the washroom, the urge to sleep or the urge to blink or yawn. If you are doing this often to appear polite and well mannered , you are setting up yourself for a serious range of eye diseases later on.

Suppressing the urge to visit the washroom tampers with “apana vayu” a sub set of vata dosha. This also sets up for more serious disorders related to the urinary and reproductive tract. So, when you gotta go, JUST GO!

 

Reduce screen glare and over-bright light :

Control the amount of bright light your eyes work in. Many computer and smartphone screens are said to highest level of brightness. This along with the bright, white office lighting and pale walls, re-create the sun even in your office.

This amount of light is fatiguing and drying to the eyes. Re-set screen brightness and switch off a few lights if the room is bright enough. But do remember too much light AND too little light both strain vision – experiment and arrive at optimal light for yourself.

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Turn down your phone's screen brightness to reduce eye strain due to screen glare and blue light.

 

Re-set aggravated pitta and vata through regular abhyanga:

Balance aggravated pitta and vata through the body through regular abhyanga – a regular abhyanga helps dissipate aggravated vata and pitta dosha and moves it back to its original seat, thus bringing the body back to balance. We often see that people with high pitta aggravation experience profuse eye watering and release of hot vapour from their eyes when Abhyanga is done. This is a good indication both of how aggravated the dosha is and how powerfully the abhyanga works in restoring the body back to balance.

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Regular Abhyanga Snana balances aggravated vata and pitta dosha, reducing eye strain and fatigue.

 

Practice Eye cooling measures:

Cool the agni in your eyes with the qualities of Soma (the moon). Overusing agni in the eyes leads to computer vision syndrome. Hence Ayurveda recommends increasing soma properties to the eyes. This can be done by doing the following:

Eating fresh, warm, nourishing foods:

Regulating Pitta dosha helps regulate Pitta aggravation in the eye. So addition of milk and ghee to the diet, using warming but not irritating spices like pepper, cumin and not red and green chillies, eating meals on time, and using cooling grains and vegetables like split mung, aged rice, and gourds all help in pitta regulation.

Night gazing:

Star and Moon gazing are prescribed Ayurvedic practices to infuse cooling, nourishing energies into the eyes. This also helps counteract the strain brought by close gazing

Electronic cut off time:

At Krya, we often recommend a strict cut off time in cases of aggravated vata and pitta dosha. Setting limits for smartphone and laptop usage go a long way in restoring health and harmony to the body.

Application of cooling substances like Ayurvedic Kajal to the eyes:

Many synthetic eye make up products increase Pitta dosha in the eyes. They also contain ingredients like lead and other suspect minerals and substances which are transdermally absorbed through the eyes. Ayurveda recommends using only a suitable herbal kaajal that strengthens vision and cools the eyes.

To conclude:

Modern choices come with many serious, dangerous fall outs, which we remain unaware off. The practice of using a cell phone is barely 20 years old in India. Apps are even more recent – 3 / 4 years old. However, we have already begun reaping the ill effects of over use of these conveniences.

Ayurveda is always immensely practical – the Acharyas are not strict or “Methodist” in their advice. They always recommend leading a life of balance for good health.

We hope our post helped you appreciate many of the deeper reasons behind Computer vision syndrome. We also hope you will go through and follow the Ayurvedic recommendations we have suggested to help you get the most out of your eyes.

Krya Hair Oils to reduce Eye fatigue :

  1. For very high Pitta aggravation – (premature greying, scalp dryness due to high heat, and hair thinning) – choose the Krya Vibrant hair colour hair oil
  2. For moderate – high Pitta aggravation – (premature greying, scalp dryness due to high heat, and hair thinning) – choose the Krya Classic hair oil
    1. Note : If in doubt whether your Pitta aggravation is moderate or severe, start with the Krya Classic hair oil . If after a month you do not see good progress, crank it up a notch with the Krya vibrant hair oil
  3. For Vata aggravation due to high stress (difficult work atmosphere, frequent air travel / travel, long commute, missed / skipped meals, difficulty sleeping, long working hours AND dry and falling hair ) – chose the Krya harmony hair oil
  4. For Vata aggravation due to moderate stress, inherently dry scalp, hair full of static, hair that breaks easily and forms split ends and is dull, rough – choose the Krya conditioning hair oil
  5. For Vata and Pitta aggravation due to excessive chemical treatments (lots of heat treatments, re-bonding, perming, straightening, twisting treatments, hair colouring) – Hair is dull, frizzy, difficult to manage, rough and straw like with very poor hair growth – choose the Krya Damage repair hair oil
  6. For Fungal dandruff (thick, yellow, flakes of dandruff with scalp thickening and itching) – choose the Krya Anti dandruff hair oil

Krya Abhyanga Products to reduce Eye Strain & Fatigue:

  1. For Women – Krya Women’s abhyanga system
  2. For Men – Krya Men’s abhyanga system
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Screentime, Stress and falling hair – Krya Ayurveda series for IT employees

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Circadian rhythms and the effect of sunlight on our moods, health, physiology, growth and fertility is an extremely well documented and researched subject. It is of great concern in countries that are far away from the equator with long periods of winter and no Sun. So a quick search online can actually throw up devices that mimic natural day light to be used in Nordic countries where winter not just means cold weather, but also a day without any sunshine. In these countries, the effect of a complete lack of Sun is extremely well documented, so people living in these countries and the health care system and offices, make a special effort to compensate for this lack of light.

1.winter

 

But in India, we are fast developing our own version of a Nordic winter in our offices: where the temperature is often a steady (and freezing for many of us) 16 degree Centigrade with white fluorescent light through the day. Given our tendency to stay longer and longer in office o finish up an increasing pile of work, and to avoid traffic snarls, many of us are spending time within an artificially cold environment without any natural light. This is especially true of IT professionals today.

2.it office

 

So in our post today on Ayurvedic hair and skin care for IT professionals, we are going to be looking at the influence that natural sunlight (or daylight) has on our bodies, why artificial light is not the same for our bodies (and why overexposure to artificial light can be harmful to us), and a few simple suggestions to get more daylight to help your body balance better.

 

What is so special about Sunlight? Why is it important for our bodies to get a certain amount of sunlight every day?

Our existence on this planet and of every other life form depends upon the Sun. Autotrophs organisms that make their own food), like most plants, use the Sun’s energy to perform photosynthesis. Heterotrophs (organisms that derive nourishment from organic sources of carbon like the soil, other plants, and other organisms and animals) use Sunlight and the Sun’s energy in many ways. The sun’s energy reaches our bodies by the food we consume (which has used Sun’s energy to create itself).

3. sunlight

 

In all animal forms , from the lowest to the highest and most complex organism like human beings Sun light also additionally regulates the body’s fertility, moods, the time we sleep and we get up, and how we feel about ourselves, and how we eat.

 

Sunlight and its effect on Melatonin production:

Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxy-tryptamine) is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in animals (and human beings). Melatonin is also secreted in plants. The synchronization of all circadian rhythms in the body like sleep cycles, blood pressure regulation, menstrual cycles, fertility, etc, is regulated and worked upon by Melatonin.

4. melatonin

 

The normal pathway of Sunlight is as follows: Light passes through the retina to the optic nerve. One part of the optic nerve goes to the brain’s vision centre and the other part of the optic nerve goes to a portion of the hypothalamus called the superchaismatic nucleus. The superchiasmatic nucleus is the body’s internal clock. From here, a light generated nerve message travels through the brain to the spinal cord and out of the superior cervical ganglion to the pineal gland.

The basic signal sent via this pathway to the pineal gland is simple: if the body is exposed to light, do NOT secrete Melatonin. If there is no light, START secreting Melatonin.

 

Melatonin and the rest / repair cycle of the whole body:

When Melatonin begins secreting, it starts to relax the brain, signalling to the body that it is time to go to sleep. Darkness and the lack of light stimulates the release of Melatonin by the Pineal gland which then reaches our blood stream and travels through the cerebrospinal fluid into the brain.

This tells our whole body and brain to calm down and go into the state of repair associated with good quality sleep. When we get this good quality sleep at the right time, preferably 1-1.5 hours after eating our last meal (and hopefully a meal that is easy to digest), our body and mind go into a state of rest. Unencumbered by the digestive process, and relaxed into sleep, every organ system is meticulously examined and repaired.

The brain whizzes through the events of the day, analyzing and sorting and storing our impressions. When it encounters strong impressions, it creates dreams that help it process these impressions, and gives us signals / intuitive signs of incidents / people / behaviours we need to work on. It then goes into the deepest dream state, where it rests and repairs its own cells ready to re-start the next day.

 

The effect of using Blue light (from screens) on your body’s Melatonin production

Laptops, smart phones, and tablets and PCs emit light in the blue-white range. Several studies have been done on how this affects the Melatonin production in the body. Here are a few:

Mariana Figueiro of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and her team studied the effect of using an Ipad or a Tablet at night. The study showed that 2 hours of using an Ipad at night in maximum brightness mode was enough to suppress the volunteers’ normal night time release of Melatonin.

Two hours of screen time with a device held close to the eyes, reduced Melatonin levels by 22%.

When this is done every day for a few years, it is enough to chronically disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm with serious health consequences. The dose of light in this case is as important as the amount of light. The same researcher found that the Melatonin suppression was less when the device was positioned further away from the eyes – therefore a TV screen will also suppress Melatonin production, but not as much as a tablet / e-reader / Smartphone held close to the eyes.

Another interesting piece of research was done by the University of Basel in Switzerland. When LED screens were used in computers and laptops (vs. old style fluorescent monitors), Melatonin levels took much longer to rise in the evening and stayed deficient until the next day. Blue light exposure also gave the subjects higher scores temporarily on memory and recall.

The alertness and “awakeness” caused by exposure to blue light via the LED screen frustrates the body’s ability to go to sleep later. The longer our exposure is to this light, and the closer this exposure is to our bedtime, the more difficult it is going to be for us to fall asleep.

5. 22 percent drop

 

The manifestation of excessive blue light exposure:

A common recommendation at Krya when we see stress related hairfall is to investigate the nature of the stress. When we see that stress is manifested in insomnia and an inability to fall asleep, we ask about the nature of the job. When we are told that a laptop is used well past sunset, and a Smartphone is further used at home to check and respond to email until 10 pm or later, we can understand the reason for stress.

 

As we have seen above, even 2 hours of using an Ipad to simply play games is enough to decrease Melatonin production by 22%. Imagine the depletion and increase in stress in the body when we use our laptop to answer an angry work email or finish a presentation late into the night? With not enough Melatonin production, our sleep is going to be less, poor in quality and cause our other organ systems to malfunction. Several health conditions like diabetes, PCOS, infertility and obesity are linked to poor sleep caused by improper exposure to sunlight and excessive exposure to blue light.

 

When the levels of blue light exposure are high, we see the following health conditions at Krya: high hair loss and a marked slowdown in the growth of hair. We also see rapid aging of the body as manifested in dull skin, early appearance of wrinkles, premature greying, etc. There are often problems associated with the reproductive organs. In women we see delayed menstrual cycles, scanty bleeding, PCOS or PCOD, and infertility or delay in conception.

6. stress

 

This link with sunlight, exposure to artificial light is not new or surprising: studies done in the 70s and the 80s measured how Nordic countries had a definite correlation between sunlight availability and exposure and fertility. For example, conception peaks in June and July in Finland, when Finns are exposed to nearly 20 hours of sunshine per day!

 

While the artificial light and screen time is definitely unhealthy in our work environment, there is perhaps not too much we can do to directly and rapidly change this. But we can influence our bodies and health by making important, small changes in our home. We will see this below.

 

Ayurveda on sunshine and vata disorders:

The Dinacharya recommendation of the Acharyas, lays emphasis on exposure to different kinds of light. We are asked to appreciate and be exposed to different kinds of sunlight, specifically early morning and late afternoon and evening sunlight. We are also asked to be exposed to moonlight, and this is particularly true of those with a marked Pitta constitution.

This is also considered particularly important in the growth and development of infants. Infants are supposed to be exposed to the rays of the rising sun alone, and this is considered a very important health giving practice in Ayurveda. The Acharyas say that this practice strengthens immunity, improves bone and joint development and aids proper growth.

7. sunlight benefit

 

Similarly, the texts recommend a gradual slowing down at night and break from all brain related activity post sunset. The brain engages both pitta and vata dosha through the use of the eyes and mental thought, so all devices and activities that engage with the eyes and the brain cause restlessness.

8. slow down

 

When we over use these  doshas, we have high heat in the body, extreme fatigue, restlessness, inability to switch off and associated skin and hair complaints like premature greying, hair thinning, hair fall, rough and coarse skin and dryness.

Many vata based disorders like joint aches, slipped disc, chronic fatigue, and insomnia can start with poor quality sleep due to excessive and overuse of the brain and high exposure to blue light via screen time. As we have seen, simply using your e-reader at night can set off a chain of events leading to depletion in Melatonin production, change in menstrual cycles and increased risk of conditions like diabetes.

The antidote to this in Ayurveda is twofold: cut down the increase in vata dosha at source and pacify agitated vata dosha in the body. We will see these recommendations in detail below.

 

Krya’s recommendations when vata and pitta dosha is aggravated due to excessive screen exposure:

  1. Give your brain and eyes frequent rest breaks at work: 10 minutes once an hour is ideal. At this time, if possible, take a walk outdoors or stand outside of an air conditioned environment. Gazing at greenery is also recommended. Ayurveda recommends avoiding direct sun exposure between 10 am – 3pm, so this is not the time to go and do an energetic walk, atleast in India.
  2. Creation of a vata reducing “time out” between office and home: Ayurveda recommends creating an intermission or a space between places/ periods of intense brain activity. This helps the brain slow down, rest and get used to working at slower and more restful speeds. So if you have a stressful atmosphere or are overworked at office and use your laptop intensively, we recommend coming back home and taking a pause. Lie down in a dark room, without any stimulus (no sound, no cold air, no conversations, no reading) for 15 minutes. This helps the brain slow down and step down to a less stressful mode of operation. You can resume your activities at home post this “intermission”.
  3. Switch off or reduce use of screens after sunset. If you must, you may watch television for 30minutes. What is much better is to chat with your family, and cook a fresh meal together. If your vata dosha is very high, do not watch television either. Switch off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in your home and go for a walk instead.
  4. Eliminate / Reduce personal screens both in the evening and the first thing in the morning. The evening suggestion is obvious: this is to help your body sleep better. We recommend avoiding using your Smartphone to check emails until 9 am to give your body time to accustom itself to natural sunlight. Ayurveda recommends waking up the body gently and lovingly: a Smartphone early in the morning is the electronic equivalent of waking your child up by throwing a bucket of cold water on her. It is harsh, unnecessary and quite frankly rude.
  5. Monitor your levels of natural sun exposure: We recommend atleast 30 minutes in the morning sun, and 30 minutes in the evening sun – the light spectrum is different at both times and both kinds are required by the body. Sun exposure should be whole without any barrier: glasses bend the light spectrum as do windows. So it is not enough to watch the sun through your glass window, you must be out in it. If you wear glasses / contacts, it is actually better to remove this during your walk, if possible. This allows the light to enter your body unfiltered and work its magic.
  6. Existing aggravated vata in your body (accumulated through the stress of multiple PowerPoint presentations and angry client calls) has to be contained by oil application. When your stress levels are high, be diligent about abhyanga. Increase its frequency if possible, and definitely do not skip t. Oil your scalp atleast 3 – 4 times a week to cool the brain and improve the function of the eyes. If you are highly stressed, add a pada abhyanga (foot massage) to your daily routine – this helps de-stress the body and helps you relax.
  7. Existing aggravated vata should be addressed by nourishing, dhatu building food. Cold food and drinks aggravate vata further as do crisp and hard foods. So avoid eating a burger and a coke when you are stressed and reach for a freshly cooked, warm Mung dal kitchdi instead. This will reduce stress and also nourish your body well.

 

Slow down and smell the roses:

In final analysis, health is built every single day by the simple choices we make and the things we say yes or no to. A full and rich life is not measured only by what we achieved at work or how much time we spent there. It is also measured by our health, optimistic outlook on life, and the relationships we nurtured and the conversations we had.

If after reading this article you have seen signs of vata imbalance and health issues associated with excessive screen usage, take some time to slow down and analyse this. A small decision you take today to cut down screen time at home, take a healthy walk, and spend time with loved ones instead of your Smartphone can have rich dividends in your future.

 

Krya products recommended for hair and skin to control aggravated vata (due to high mental stress):

  1. Krya harmony hair oil (contains Brahmi and other herbs to cool and relax the brain)
  2. 13. Krya harmony hair oilKrya Abhyanga Skin Oil (for full body abhyanga and pada abhyanga) – available separately and in the Krya Women’s Abhyanga system and the Krya Men’s abhyanga system

blog-post-11-krya-abhyanga-oil

If you would like further recommendations or help choosing Krya products, please write to us or call us on (0)75500-89090.

 

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How extreme exercise is linked to hair loss: Insights from Ayurveda

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Reading Time: 8 minutes

Is there a thing as too much exercising? , you may ask. This is an age of obesity, of food walks, of people describing themselves as foodies, of people wanting to quit their corporate jobs and start a restaurant, of the rise of several food networks, celebrity chefs, reality shows around food, and travel destinations centred on food.

Yes our addiction with food is not healthy. And is certainly causing an epidemic in weight gain.

However, there is also an exercise epidemic. Hand in hand with the addiction to food there is a growing addiction to working out. Almost every week, the newspaper I subscribe to, carries an interview of a corporate CEO, and 7 out of 10 of them describe their new found hobby of long distance running. Many of them describe running as a catharsis, and say they have seen good benefits in health and well being after embarking on their new exercise regimen.

1.extreme exercise

 

Ayurveda: and its goal of promoting health and well being

Ayurveda is described as the 5th Veda and a divine science and its goal is the promotion of Ayu and Ayush. Ayurveda attempts to reach its twin goals of Ayu and Ayush through balancing the 3 doshas in our body, and harmonising our interaction with our environment by controlling our regimes and our food.

2. ayurveda twin goals

It is important to note that Ayurveda is not rigid. The skilled Vaidya always tailors his / her recommendations to suit your individual constitution, nature of work, and the place where you live. Your goals and dreams are always to be taken into account when designing the right regimen for you.

 

Krya case study: hair loss due to weight loss and extreme exercise

One of the consumers we interact regularly with is a young aspiring actor who lives in Mumbai. He is in his twenties, and due to the demands of his profession, he maintains a very gruelling and rigorous exercise schedule. For his career, he needs to maintain a certain body aesthetic, muscle tone and appearance which is he is extremely dedicated and religious towards.

For a general grihasta (householder), Ayurveda maintains that the daily exercise should stop at “Ardha Shakti” or at half your capacity. This is reached when your forehead and axillae begin to sweat and you are no longer able to comfortably breathe through your nostrils and start breathing air through your mouth instead.

3. exercise - when to stop

In the case of a grihasta, the exercise is to ensure that the body is kept in good health through gentle regular exercise – the goal always is that exercise should aid him / her to conduct his day with energy, cheerfulness and the mental faculties remaining sharp. This is not possible if we have tired ourselves out by reaching our full capacity as we literally have no gas in the tank.

In the case of our young aspiring actor, his life goals are very different. In order to maintain his desired aesthetic, he need to exercise much more than the average grihasta – one could argue that the exercise itself forms a part of his goal. Also, given the changing nature of his movie roles, he may need to put on more muscles (bulkier look) or get much leaner.

In this case, Ayurvedic advice should be tailored to ensure that his dreams and aspirations are kept in mind – we cannot be rigid and insist he lead the life of a grihasta and stop at ardha Shakti alone.

 

Why hair loss follows high exercise and weight loss: insights from Ayurveda

But in his case, the extreme exercising was leading to a high level of hair loss. Ayurveda teaches us that many forms of exercise like running and weightlifting sharply lifts the Agni in the body.

 

Repetitive exercising uses the control and focus of pitta dosha – so the very form of exercise and its physical effect on the body raises the Agni in the body. This raised Agni manifests in hair loss – this is the classic male pattern baldness hair thinning we see. Here the excess Agni literally burns its way through your hair.

4. agni increase

 

Adequate kapha dosha levels important for good health:

Ayurveda also says that a basic level of good fats need to be present in the diet to provide adequate “kapha dosha”. This kapha dosha, at the right level, helps promote hair growth. This is validated by modern scientific research.

Good fats, in adequate quantity are essential in the body to help repair wear and tear, promote growth, improve connective tissue and ensure adequate collagen is present in the skin.

5.good fats

When the fat levels are high, as in lifestyle obesity, PCOD and PCOS, the excess kapha brings down the capacity of hair follicles to sprout new hair.

When the fat levels are low, as seen in extreme exercising and a conscious no fat diet, we see that skin starts to sag, darken, there is greater muscle wear and tear, joints are affected ad hair becomes dry and there is poor hair growth.

Pure unprocessed fats which are madhura and growth promoting are therefore recommended in Ayurveda as a part of a healthy diet. These include pure cow’s milk which is drunk warm without any additives like sugar or health drink powders.  It also includes small quantities of good fats like A2 cows ghee.

When physical wear and tear is high (for example during extreme exercising, or high physical stress), we are advised to adequately supplement our diet further with good fats to ensure good cell repair.

 6. right kapha level

 

Insights from traditional Indian wrestling – how to balance high vata and pitta while exercising:

To suggest the right balance for our young actor consumer, we had to turn to the texts to see how professional sportsmen conducted their day. We found some answers in the akhadas which trained professional wrestlers.

Professional wrestlers of yore would typically train for 4 – 5 hours intensively. Their regime included running, skipping, working the upper body using a very heavy type of “gada” or mace followed by one on one contact wrestling. If you recall the Mahabharata, Duryodhona and Bheema would come to mind as examples of this.

7. akhada

There were 2 ways in which the Akhadas balanced the heat generated by this exercising. The Agni would be balanced by kapha – so badam milk was given to the wrestlers as a part of their diet. Badam added kapha and the heaviness of earth, and milk was both cooling and kapha promoting – so it would balance the Agni produced during the exercising and give the fat required to ground vayu and Agni.

This kapha in the form of milk would also help quickly repair minor injuries and muscle tears that usually arise as a result of intensive training. Apart from this internal consumption, professional wrestlers would usually devote the last hour of their practice to an abhyanga. If the exercising was this intensive, they would do an abhyanga EVERY SINGLE DAY. The abhyanga is so much a part of this routine that it was sometimes added to the exercise regime itself as an additional challenge – so the Puranas and our ancient tales describe the sport of oiled wrestling – where the wrestlers would wrestle after applying copious amounts of oil to their body – this made the whole thing extremely challenging and promoted dexterity and skill in the game.

8. abhyanga

 

Krya’s recommendation to the consumer:

The above was the source of our recommendation to the consumer who exercised professionally. He had to add kapha promoting foods to his diet – and this had to be foods that would not imbalance another dosha. So cashew nuts are not suggested, but almonds are as cashew nuts are slightly higher in pitta compared to almonds. Ayurveda says that the almond’s skin is high in pitta and can irritate the stomach, so it must be soaked overnight in water and the skin removed before consuming in the morning.

9.soaked almonds

To balance the digestive capacity of the body which could be thrown out of gear due to excessive heat, we suggested the addition of cooling vegetables like pumpkin, lauki, okra, parwal and other pitta balancing native vegetables. Coconut water (nariyal paani) was also suggested as a good natural electrolyte replenishing drink which also helped bring down pitta. We also advised the consumption of cow ghee from a native cow which is tridoshic. He had long forgotten the use of ghee and was living on highly processed artificial protein substitutes.

 

We also suggested shifting the timing of the exercise – he was currently doing this around midday which is the time when the world carries the highest Agni due to the movement of the sun. Moving this exercising to a cool part of the day, preferably early morning, would help balance Agni.

And to add to his regimen, we suggested a daily abhyanga if possible and a proper cool down after the exercise preferably using cooling yogic poses.

Along with this, frequent hair oiling in small amounts was suggested to ensure excess pitta accumulated in the upper region of the body is also removed, cooling the scalp, brain and eyes.

9. krya hair system

 

Krya note on protein supplements :

No matter what your views may be on supplementing protein while sculpting your body, here are some insights from Ayurveda. Ayurveda classifies proteins as vata aggravating or not, depending upon their source. This classification further changes depending on how exactly they have been processed.

So in general, plant based proteins are considered vata aggravating. But if they have been isolated, and freeze dried, they would become highly vata aggravating. Similarly, animal proteins like dairy or meat are less vata aggravating. But if you are having dairy isolates, then the properties again change to vata aggravating.

10.supplementing

High amount of vata dosha in the body promotes hair loss, and joint pains. So you need to balance vata by eating madhura (sweet), growth promoting foods in a warm state – like warm milk, supplementation of ghee, and addition of wind reducing spices like cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, etc.

So golden milk (turmeric flavoured warm cow’s milk) is a good addition to your diet if you’re supplementing for lean mass, for example.

 

To conclude:

If you are a heavy exerciser, do long distance running or cycling, or follow any form of rigorous sport, you may notice fatigue, dull looking skin and hair loss over time. To control the excess vata and pitta generated as a result of this exercise and to balance depleted kapha dosha, here is what we suggest:

  • Regular abhyanga on the days you exercise much more than Ardha Shakti
    • This abhyanga will remove the fatigue of excess vata which comes after exercising and cool down the excess Agni generated after intensive exercising.

1.abhyanga

 

  • Monitoring and ensuring that you compensate for kapha loss due to exercise by adding adequate good fat to your diet
    • This is critical especially if you are supplementing with protein supplements as fats are needed to balance the high vata of protein supplements
    • This helps promote kapha dosha to help muscle repair, regeneration and internal lubrication of your bones, joints and organ systems.

Krya’s abhyanga range can be explored here. Our hair care range can be explored here.

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Does onion juice really stimulate hair growth? Ayurvedic insights from Krya

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

We are often asked about 2 Internet miracle cure remedies for hairfall: the application of Onion juice on scalp and the use of castor oil on hair for boosting hair growth and to treat alopecia and balding. Even when we suggest Krya products, a change in diet and lifestyle practices like Abhyanga and Yoga, we are asked if these home remedies can be continued along with our products and suggestions.

 

What is the cause of intense hairfall according to Ayurveda? Is there any scientific basis to some of these miracle cures? Why might they work / might not work according to Ayurveda? This post will explore whether there is a scientific basis behind onion juice for the scalp and what Ayurveda has to say about it.

1. hairfall

Onion juice application on the scalp

Onion juice is a very popular hair growth remedy on the Internet. It is considered a miraculous hair growth boosting treatment supposed to boost micro circulation on the scalp, “rejuvenate follicles” and improve hair growth.

2. onion juice therapy

There is only one scientific study which has attempted to study the effects of onion juice on the scalp, and this study was performed on a very tiny sample of people in 2002. The study was published in the Journal of Dermatology in 2002.

 

Study design and sample size used:

Patients were divided into 2 groups. The control group had to apply plain tap water on their scalp. The second group had to apply onion juice onto the scalp. The control group had 15 patients (8 men and 7 women) and the second group had 23 patients (16 men and 7 women).  After 4 weeks, hair growth was seen in 17 out of 23 patients and at 6 weeks among 20 out of 23 patients.

 

Scientific loopholes in the study :

The sample size is small and statistically insignificant and does not have a meaningful number of patients spanning ages. The average median age of both groups was between 18 – 22 years of age. The groups did not follow any fair patterns of selection like the same number, same composition of men and women and age groups.

The control group was treated with plain tap water. What is significant that even when the scalp was massaged with plain tap water, 2 out of the 15 patients experienced hair growth.

If we assume tap water to be a neutral hair growth ingredient, anything in comparison should give us good hair results, like a vegetable oil or any other herb. This study therefore does not do justice to the hype around onion juice as a miraculous hair growth ingredient, and does not form any kind of basis for the hundreds of websites now out there promoting onion juice.

 

Is there a chance it could work? What does Ayurveda say?

Onion juice is considered high in pitta as per Ayurveda. It is a natural anti bacterial and high sulphur containing herb. It is advised to be used in small quantities in the diet whenever pitta is required to be stimulated.

3. onon and garlic pitta herbs

 

We typically need the properties of Pitta when we are trying to digest a heavy meal. Therefore onion and garlic are usually used when we cook meat to help us digest the meat better. Similarly we find the use of onions in making hard to digest lentils like rajma, chickpeas, etc.  Additionally, if we are eating heavy meals or at odd times when pitta is naturally low, onion and garlic can be used. Onion and garlic is also used in very cold seasons where pitta is naturally low. This helps stimulate the digestive fire.

4. rajma and onion

In cases where Pitta is already high, like in the case of hair thinning and premature greying brought on by excess Pitta, Ayurveda advises that we cut down on pitta stimulating foods like onion and garlic.

 

Sudden excessive hairfall in Ayurveda: Indralupta

Indralupta is the condition described in Ayurveda which is closest to alopecia. Here the texts describe that hair fall is both sudden and intense where the hair becomes weak rooted and falls on the slightest pressure. Indralupta is usually seen as a tridosha disorder where 2 things happen:

Aggravated Pitta and Vata enters into the hair follicle. The effect of these 2 doshas is twofold: Pitta heats the hair follicle, dries out moisture and thins it down and greys it. Vata sucks out oil and moisture and dries out the hair. It also weakens the root making it fall very easily. Kapha which produces Sleshma (oily and fatty layer giving strength) oozes below the scalp, blocking the follicles from sprouting new hair. Therefore you have 2 doshas weakening existing hair and making them fall and the third dosha preventing the growth of new hair.

 

Indralupta therefore sees symptoms attributed to derangement of all 3 doshas: deranged vata will cause dryness, whitish discoloration of scalp, and rough frizzy hair that breaks and falls. Deranged Pitta will cause premature greying and thinning and ring pattern balding. Deranged kapha will cause prevention of hair growth. Depending upon the dosha imbalance in the specific person, we could have Vataja Indralupta where the deranged Vata is very high, Kaphaja Indralupta, where Kapha derangement is highest and Pittaja Indralupta where Pitta derangement is highest.

5. indralupta tridosha

 

Ayurvedic treatment for different kinds of intense hair loss (Indralupta)

Treatment given for each kind of Indralupta varies slightly. In Pittaja Indralupta, emphasis is given on cooling the whole body. So Milk and butter is prescribed and application of the paste of cooling and Madhura herbs like Mulethi and Amla is suggested.

6.pittaja

 

In Vataja Indralupta, herbs like Sugarcane are added to nourish the body and citrus fruits are used in combination with wound healing herbs like Tulsi to reducing the itching and dryness associated with Vataja Indralupta.

7.vataja indralupta

 

Since many times there is a combination of doshas leading to imbalance, the texts advice using a combination of heating herbs to dissolve kleshma, sweet and astringent herbs to nourish and reduce Pitta and unctuous, healing and nourishing herbs to bring down Vata.

 

How Krya treats intense hairfall: varies as per dosha imbalance

At Krya, whenever we receive complaints of excessive hairfall, we try and analyse the dosha imbalance behind this hairfall. Based on this, we suggest either using the Krya Intense hair system alone or the intense hair oil with a combination of our other hair oils.

10. krya intense hair system

 

So for a Pittaja Indralupta, we may suggest Krya classic hair oil + Krya Intense hair Oil. For Kaphaja Indralupta, we may go along with Krya Intense hair Oil alone for the hair + body abhyanga to bring down Kapha as a whole. For Vataja Indralupta, we may suggest supplementation of milk and ghee along with combination of Krya conditioning hair oil + Krya Intense hair oil.

 

For mental stress based Vataja Indralupta, we have successfully tried a combination of Krya harmony hair oil + Krya Intense hair oil.17.frequent oiling

 

Ayurvedic approach: identify dosha imbalance behind hairloss and treat accordingly

The point being made here is that Ayurveda treats balding and hair loss as a combination of several factors. Depending upon the reason behind the hair loss, we have to use herbs in the right combination to treat the disorder.

Onion juice application may help in Kaphaja Indralupta as Onion juice can irritate the scalp, produce heat and help dissolve Kleshma. However, it cannot add nourishing substances or astringent factors and these are also required to support hair growth. It is also worth noting that the texts have not used onion juice application for the scalp at all, despite suggesting a very wide array of herbs of both plants, mineral and animal origin.

 

Krya verdict: to continue with onion juice or not?

As we have said above, unless we have identified the dosha imbalance behind the hairloss, we cannot adopt or suggest any single herb remedy. So if you have pitta or vata imbalanced Indralupta, onion juice will worsen the problem and not cure it.

When in doubt and facing a serious hair loss, it is far better to consult an Ayurvedic Vaidya and determine the cause behind hairfall then try out an internet remedy.

It is also important in the case of severe hair loss to seriously adopt health giving habits like the abhyanga, correct your diet, reduce stress and eat well. Ayurveda tells us always to choose the holistic, long term solution and choose good health. When we follow health giving habits and a diet, our imbalances are gently but steadily corrected.

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Is your hairfall stress related? Krya shares some insights from Ayurveda that can help

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“Hi, Is there any product that can help my hair? I am 23 years old. I have a stressful job and my hair is greying very rapidly”.

“Hi Team Krya. I am a B school graduate and I am just 25. I have a travelling stressful Sales job, and I have been losing hair at an alarming rate. For the last year, everytime someone meets me, this is all they talk about (how quickly I seem to be losing hair). Can Krya’s products help me?”

“Hi Preethi, I was extremely overweight until a year ago. Over the last year, I started a very good exercise programme with good quality foods and managed to lose about 15 kg. I eat very well and good quality fruits and vegetables. Inspire of this, my skin is now looking dull, sallow and aged. Can you help”?

 

In our last blog post on Stress, we spoke about how stress can affect hair growth and hair fall. For human beings, stress takes about 180 days to show up on hair, so when we receive complaints of sudden, inexplicable hairfall, we try and trace events that occurred about 3 – 4 months back to understand the cause.

Stress appears to excessively stimulate our androgenic hormones, perhaps to help with our flight or fight response. While the physical pathway of how stress works continues to be unravelled, its net result on hair and skin is quite certain. In times of stress, your hair’s Anagen phase abruptly shifts to Catagen phase. In normal hair, atleast 85% of hair is supposed to be in Anagen phase at any point of time, and only 1% transitions to Catagen phase.

1. stress and hairfall

 

This ratio is altered in times of stress, as a large proportion of Anagen phase hair shifts abruptly to the Catagen phase. This causes a sudden loss of much larger amounts of hair. We also saw the currently accepted stress scale the Holmes Rahe scale. This scale lists 43 events that have been researched to cause stress, and surprisingly, this list includes even happy events like pregnancy, a job promotion as events that are likely to cause stress.

 

The Mind body connection that is acknowledged and celebrated by Ayurveda and Siddha

Ayurveda and Siddha, our two forms of traditional medicine have always consistently acknowledged the role of the mind and its connection to the body. It is this mind body connection that gives you Ayu and Ayush: and a healthy body along with a healthy mind and a long life has always been the goal of traditional medicine systems.

2.mind-body connection

 

The Sutrasthana section of the Charaka Samhita recognises 3 origins of disease:

  1. Innate
  2. External (exogenous)
  3. Psychic

Innate diseases are that which arise from combinations of the doshas in the body. Externally caused diseases are those caused by Bhuta (micro organisms, bacteria, and bad energy), poisoned air, poisons (visha), accidents, trauma, etc. Psychic illnesses are categorised as those caused by unfulfilment of deeply held desires and when faced with undesirable circumstances.

 

3 types of therapy that are practiced in Ayurveda: Spiritual therapy, Rational therapy and Psychological therapy. In many illnesses as the mind and body are interlinked, the physician prescribes a combination therapy which involves some elements of Spiritual therapy or Psychological therapy along with the rational therapy. We will see some examples of this below.

 

How each dosha plays a role in physical and mental well being

Pitta dosha

Every dosha in Ayurveda is linked not just to a physical set of attributes but also to a set of mental attributes.

Pitta dosha is the dosha related to Agni in the body. It brings about digestion, helps the body assimilate and absorb nutrients, helps form blood, and gives vision, and colour and lustre to the complexion. So when pitta dosha is strong and not in excess, it brings about the qualities of leadership, focus, clarity, and prowess and an ability to get things done.

3.pitta dosha

 

But when this dosha becomes vitiated it brings about an inability to see the bigger picture, a tendency to lose your temper, dominate the people around you and get your way, no matter what. Similarly when this dosha is greatly reduced, it brings about confusion, fear, an inability to focus and bring things to fruition, besides giving you poor or impaired digestion.

 

Vata dosha

When vata dosha is strong and not in excess, it holds up the systems and organs , initiates all upward and downward movements in the body, employs all sense organs, causes the formation of all the dhatus in the body, promotes speech, etc.

A strong vayu dosha is the source of exhilaration, courage, creativity, movement and physical lightness and well being. When strong, vayu improves strength, complexion, and valour, normal development of the musculoskeletal structure, improvement of knowledge and maximum expanse of life span.

4. vata dosha

 

When vayu is vitiated in the body it affects strength, complexion, happiness and even the life span. Aggravated vayu agitates the mind, affects the sense organs, and produces fear, grief, confusion, anxiety and even delirium. Perhaps because of this all pervasive nature of vayu and its deep seated effects when it goes out of order, Vayu is variously called “PrajaPati”, Aditi, Vishwakarma and even Yama in Ayurveda. Vayu is both the producer and the indestructible. Vayu brings both happiness and misery and brings positivity and an all pervasive negativity as well.

 

Kapha dosha

Kapha dosha is the dosha of Prithvi (earth) and Jal (water). It is the dosha that builds the dhatus, muscles and allows growth of the body. When strong and not in excess or depleted Kapha dosha provides fertility, strength, firmness, patience, good humour and enthusiasm for life.

An un-vitiated kapha dosha promotes detached attachment towards material objects, promotes generosity, loyalty, commitment, and the ability to form deep nurturing relationships.

5. kapha dosha

 

When kapha is in excess, it shows as excess weight, an ability to accumulate mucous quickly, a greater love for earthy pleasures like food, material objects, a high attachment to objects, a tendency to relax and sleep much more, indolence, etc. When kapha is reduced, there is inability to put on healthy weight, reduced fertility, a feeling of instability and an inability to stay grounded, etc.

 

Balance and peace: the key to leading a life of health and well being

We have seen the inherent strengths and qualities each dosha gives us. Many times we are asked what the ideal combination of doshas is. Or what is a good proportion of doshas to have? And this is very obviously, a difficult one to answer.

 

Ayurveda understands and respects our individuality: and every one prakriti is unique. It is made up not just of the combination of doshas that we receive when we are conceived, but also the environment with which we are brought up, the food we eat, the experiences we receive and of course our response to all of this.

 

Ayurveda also tells us to seek our own balance within the framework of our life, and how we seek to find this balance is also unique. A Vaidya will always give each of her patients a unique programme that recognises the individual’s unique prakriti.

6. path to balance

The central framework behind this approach in Ayurveda is the belief that each one’s balance is achieved differently. For a spiritually inclined person, their balance may come with chanting certain mantras, and praying to their Ishta devata along with certain changes in their diet. For a person who is much more rationally inclined, their treatment may come from diet and lifestyle changes alone.

There is no one formula or combination to achieve balance. Ayurveda teaches each of us to find our very own recipe for balance.

 

How the body affects the mind and vice versa: Ayurvedic insights into pregnancy

The connection between the mind and the body is extremely well explored in Ayurveda’s treatment of pregnancy. From the 4th month onwards with the formation of the foetal heart, Ayurveda believes that the foetus is able to communicate its deep seated desires to its mother.

 

This is why, Ayurveda calls the Pregnant woman the “Dauhridini”, the woman with the 2 hearts. Many of the pregnant women’s cravings for certain kinds of foods are explained in Ayurveda as the desires of the foetus. At this stage, Ayurveda says the foetus carries some of its unfulfilled desires and dreams sometimes from its previous births, so it is imperative for the family of the pregnant women to treat her food cravings with care.

7. dauhridini

 

Not allowing the foetus to fulfil its wishes leads to deep seated psychological harm, so Ayurveda insists that the Dauhridini’s peculiar  cravings or wishes be fulfilled with unconditional love, support and tact.

 

How the body affects the mind and vice versa: Ayurvedic insights into the post partum state

Post partum depression is recognised as a reality today for most mothers. This is a subject that is not openly acknowledged or treated or even spoken about. It will come as a surprise to no one that Ayurveda spoke about this and devised an elaborate post partum care programme to help improve not just the mother baby bond and also the father baby bond.

 

Recognising that post partum depression can come due to severe vata derangement post birth, most Ayurvedic practices centre around bringing vata back to balance. The new mother’s meal timings and sleep timings are strictly regulated and external and internal oleation is strongly practiced to bring vata dosha back to normal.

8.post partum care

 

In addition to regulating vata through diet and regimen, Ayurveda also uses spiritual and psychological therapy to help with vata imbalance. The nursery is ritually purified and special homams or ritualised prayers are held post delivery. At the beginning of vata periods like late evenings, the nursery is fumigated and strong devotional music is either sung or played outside the nursery door. Vata carrying winds are warded off and the nursery is kept warm to bring down vata influences.

Here we see an example of how mental well being is attended to by addressing the physical body and the surroundings.

 

How the mind affects the body: Ayurvedic insights for students and calming mental stress

We were at a specially organised organic event last week, and I met a consumer who wanted me to help with her daughter’s recent hairfall issue. She was studying for her board exams and had been attending a series of coaching classes for the last year to help her pass her engineering examinations. This meant that her sleep and eating timings were erratic. This also meant that she was under a high amount of mental stress and strain surrounding her exams and her future.

 

Believe it or not, Ayurveda addresses the problems of students as well! (Even if we believe that CAT, NEET and IIT entrance examinations are a modern student’s problem, I am sure an ancient student also had to pass oral or written examinations to be allowed to study with the Guru of their choice). Ayurveda recognises that nutrient assimilation is especially poor in times of stress. When this is compounded with erratic sleep, then no matter how healthy your diet is, your body will not be able to utilise the nutrients in your food.

 

This is why Ayurveda augments external application products for children and teenagers with certain types of herbs. For example, the Krya Kids hair oil utilises nervine herbs like Brahmi (Bacopa monnerii). Not only is Brahmi a great aid to memory, it also helps calm and soothe down overwrought nerves and aids good sleep. This is especially useful when you are dealing with a stressed out teenager which has been burning the midnight oil and is too wound up to sleep properly.

 

In the case of the exam stressed teenager, the reason for her hair fall was the mental stress she was facing. So she was advised to use hair oil with Brahmi which would help soothe the stress and also advised to increase her intake of cow ghee. Cow ghee is very useful in periods of mental stress when the brain has to work very hard. The brain comprises almost purely of fat, so Ayurveda uses another good quality, pure fat like ghee to support the brain during periods of strain. In addition, we also recommended pada abhyanga (foot massage) atleast thrice a week to calm down vata and aid sleep and rest.

 

So here we see how working on the physical body through external application and food helps work on the mind and calm it down.

 

How the Dinacharya prescribed in Ayurveda work on our mind and body:

Many dinacharyas given in Ayurveda also combine 2 – 3 types of therapies and this is why they work in such an eerily wholesome manner. We have, for instance, been hearing from a lot of consumers who have been doing an Abhyanga. While it was suggested by us as a general practice to balance doshas and pacify aggravated vata, we found, unexpectedly that it seemed to somehow improve the functioning of the thyroid gland.

 

The functioning of the thyroid gland can be broken up into 3 parts: improvement of metabolism, maintenance and upkeep of breath and cardiovascular system and upkeep of normal developmental activities. At the right level, the thyroid gland also helps maintain normal sleep, rest and sexual activities.

 

So by their action the thyroid hormones help assimilation of nutrients, help move it around to where it is needed, increase oxygen consumption in the body, maintain heart rate, help growth in children, brain development. Most importantly, the literature says that when the thyroid hormones are in excess, there is said to be an increased generation of thoughts but a sharply decreased focus.

 

Going by the working of the thyroid glands, it makes sense to look at it as an organ of vata dosha. So when over stimulated it gives typical vata aggravation symptoms like weight loss, an inability to shut down, excessive and hyperactive thoughts, delirium, an inability to stay calm, etc. When it is in low quantities, all the normal workings of vata dosha are affected: so the strength and lightness of the body, the mobility, the creativity and the exhilaration and courage given by vata dosha are all in short supply.

9.abhyanga

Given this, it makes sense that an Abhyanga twice a week seems to work so well to balance the workings of the thyroid gland. Warm oil is the counter to vayu and it helps keep vayu in check and present at healthy levels by stimulating and balancing all the 3 doshas.

 

Why is an abhyanga a self massage and NOT an assisted massage in Ayurveda?

Many people often ask us if we mean an assisted massage when we use the term “Abhyanga”. A massage given to us at a spa or by someone we love does seem much more relaxing than something we do for ourselves. However, the central idea of an abhyanga in Ayurveda is a self massage. It is assisted only in the case of babies and small children and the infirm and the old who lack the strength to give themselves an Abhyanga.

 

The obvious reason behind this is that the Abhyanga helps generate heat and when done vigorously by you are a form of exercise in itself. This gives the body the heat and the circulation required to help the oil penetrate, manage excess vayu and cool down excess pitta and stimulate excess kapha.  It also helps you understand the proper functioning of your body. You gain a greater appreciation of the workings of your body, are able to understand its subtle signals much better and start to understand its signals and signs of overwork much better.

 

An even more subtle reason is that the 5 sense organs are ruled by Vayu. And the sensation of touch is very enjoyable and strengthening to Vayu in the body. Self love and self belief are an essential part of health and well being. So it is no wonder that Ayurveda forces you to touch your entire body, lovingly massage it with oil, listen to its complaints and protests and give your mind and body a sense of union.

 

Many of us grow up, especially in the adolescent years feeling a sense of outrage and irritation towards our physical bodies. Our heads carry an idealised picture of beauty and physical appearance that our bodies struggle to respond to. The dosha which promotes union in the body is Vata dosha. So Vayu by its mobility and ability to travel across subtle and gross spaces and unite the functions in the body helps promote this sense of union between your head, heart and body.

10. touch

The Acharyas tell us that this Union gives us a firm sense of self. It helps us chart our path and move forward with courage and conviction. It is wonderful to me that we can approach such a mystical thing as this union through a simple everyday practice of the Self Abhyanga.

 

We are not a collection of organ systems!

Through this post we wanted to illustrate and highlight just how deep and complex the workings of the human body are. We are not simply a collection of organ systems that can be “repaired” with mechanical adjustments. Ayurveda teaches us that when we approach our body as a whole and treat it with attention, care and sensitivity, we are able to achieve much better, deeper and longer lasting results. Ayurveda also teaches us how to access our mind by the workings of our body and how to harness our mind by directing and controlling our breath.

 

It is also our experience that when we start doing the dinacharyas prescribed in Ayurveda like the Abhyanga or the Gandusha, our practice is rewarded by deeper insights into how our body functions. We learn what disturbs it, how we respond in periods of stress and from these insights we begin to understand how to look after our body and our mind and how to achieve that state of union we all desire.  Our fundamental belief in Krya is that external well being and beauty springs from a well spring of health and balance. Simple external application or the use of superficial products cannot help you achieve what you are looking for. But a deeper exploration of health and a willingness to make fundamental changes can get you to your goal much faster.

 

Through our work and the products we offer, we hope to help you move towards that well spring and experience health, balance and joy and well being for yourself.

 

Do you suspect that your hairfall is being caused by mental stress?

Talk to us (075500-89090) . OR send us an email and we will do our best to help.

Here are some products that can help:

  • Krya harmony hair oil with Brahmi & Vetiver
    1. Recommended if you have high mental stress, or have trouble switching your brain off and going to sleep
    2. Helps in healthy hair growth and reduces hairfall brought on by mental stress and anxiety

12.harmony hair oil

5. womens abhyanga system

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When stress causes hairfall – Insights from Krya on how your hair bears the brunt of grief and stress

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

3 months.

 

This is the time that it takes for your hair to display signs of the stress you are facing.

 

If you are losing hair today by the handful, then we have to dial back to what happened roughly 180 days before.

 

You can lose hair by altering the balance of pitta dosha, by chemical treatments, by increasing your shampooing frequency, and by imbalancing your vata dosha. You can also lose hair when your stress levels suddenly change. And we are going to explore this in detail in today’s blog post on stress related hair loss.

 

The 4 phases of normal hair growth:

All of us have between 90,000 – 150,000 strands of hair on our head. On any given day, depending on your state of health, weather and state of mind, you could lose anywhere between 20 – 100 strands of hair. As long as your hair loss stays within this range, and as long as you have 90,000 – 150,000 strands of hair, and your hair has the right proportion of growth and loss, this hair loss is considered normal.

 

Every strand of hair grows through 4 phases:

  1. Anagen phase (active growth phase) – In this phase, the hair is in its most active growth phase. The duration of the Anagen phase varies for different kinds of hair. For the hair on our heads, the Anagen phase can last anywhere between 2 – 8 years. Those of us who genetically are predisposed to long hair, have a much longer Anagen phase allowing our hair to grow really long.

Your eyelashes, on the other hand, have a much shorter Anagen phase of 30 days.

anagen phase

 

The 2 take-aways here are this:

  • The longer the Anagen phase, the longer the hair growth
  • When the Anagen phase is atleast 2 years long, it means that the hair is being allowed the right level of nutrition, and mental health to grown normally

In normal hair, atleast 85% of your hair is supposed to be in Anagen phase.

 

  1. Catagen phase – (transition phase) – In this phase, the hair prepares for hair fall by beginning to detach itself from the skin (the dermal papilla). This phase lasts 2 – 4 weeks. This phase marks the beginning of normal hair fall

Only 1% of your hair is supposed to enter Catagen phase at any point in time. While the hair strand is detaching itself from the dermal papilla, the blood supply is cut off from the hair strand.

catagen phase

 

  1. Telogen phase – (Resting phase) – In this phase, the hair completely separates from the dermal papilla and prepares for falling out. This phase lasts between 2 – 4 months. As the hair is completely cut off from the dermal papilla, the epidermal cells of the scalp form temporary bindings around the hair, anchoring it on your scalp until it is time for it to fall.

telogen

 

When the hair follicle, which remains dormant in the Telogen phase, starts to re-grow, the hair that has been anchored in place by your scalp will break from its root and fall out. This is the normal process of hair shedding. Even as the hair is shedding, the follicle below it has already started re-growing – this ushers in new hair growth within 2 weeks, when the hair and scalp are in normal health.

In normal hair and scalp, 10 – 15% of the hair strands are in Telogen phase.

 

Changes in the 3 phases of Hair growth under stress:

Studies among Mice indicate that in times of stress, like exposure to a high degree of noise, hair moves abruptly from the Anagen phase to the Catagen phase, in large numbers.

 

A similar response is researched to be true in human hair. In times of stress, your hair’s Anagen phase abruptly shifts to Catagen phase. In normal hair, atleast 85% of hair is supposed to be in Anagen phase at any point of time, and only 1% transitions to Catagen phase.

stress effects

 

This ratio is altered in times of stress, as a large proportion of Anagen phase hair shifts abruptly to the Catagen phase. This causes a sudden loss of much larger amounts of hair.  Literature review suggests that hormones like cortisol, which are used by the body to combat high periods of stress, may be triggering this shift. An analysis of Rhesus monkeys with hair loss found that there is a high level of cortisol in the blood stream.

 

How long does it take for this stress to show up on hair?

For human beings the hair on the head takes 180 days to show as hairfall from the time of the stressful event. This could be after a physically stressful event like trauma, surgery, or after emotional stress like a divorce or a change of job.

 

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hair growth:

Chemotherapy drugs work on attacking cells that replicate fast – cancerous cells are typically covered by these drugs. However, other, normal fast replicating cells are also attacked by these drugs like the hair follicles.

Therefore, chemotherapy drugs, depending upon the dosage, inhibit new hair growth and can also determine how severe the hair loss is after treatment.

Radiation therapy, especially on the head (seen in brain tumours) can severely affect hair follicles. Hair shedding can start within 2 weeks of beginning radiation therapy where hair follicles quickly enter the Telogen phase.

 

The Holmes and Rahe Stress scale

Here’s the thing about stress: It gives us a feeling of being inadequate or unable to cope with the demands that are being placed on us. And the level and type of stress we can cope with, without feeling inadequate varies for each person.

In order to standardise this , atleast to some extent, and to understand what level of stress can make us ill, The Holmes and Rahe stress scale was developed in 1967 by psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe.

This scale was developed by researching the stress faced by 5000 patients. Holmes and Rahe arrived at a list of 43 stressful events that can occur in anyone’s life and gave each stressful event a weightage. If a person is undergoing several types of stress at the same time, these combined scores could give your doctor a sense of how high or how low your stress levels are.

Many surprising life events find their way into the Holmes Rahe stress scale – these include even happy events like pregnancy, a promotion, and moving to a new home.

holmes rahe scale

Every day, modern stresses like a long commute, high noise levels, constant television / media consumption, high use of the Smartphone, late night working, do not find their way into the Holmes Rahe scale – we can argue that this is because this scale was devised at a much gentler time when these devices, and even the now common phenomena of working women were not this prevalent.

All of us live in a world with aggravated stress levels. If you add to this any of the 43 stressful life events that further push up stress, it is no wonder that stress related hairfall is now such a huge phenomenon.

 

The effect of stress on skin:

The American academy of dermatology also has many peer reviewed papers that explore the link between cortisol and your skin. Higher levels of cortisol means higher or unregulated sebum production on skin.  This means that greater stress could cause a sudden flare up of acne on your skin. Obviously, connected with this is the fact that many of us when stressed, tend to eat oily, rich or sweet foods that could easily trigger acne.

skin stress

A 2001 study called “Psychological Stress Perturbs Epidermal Permeability Barrier Homeostasis” found that stress can also cause higher degree of water loss from your skin. This water loss reduces the ability of skin to heal itself after an injury – so you could have dry or flaky skin, or blemishes and scars that do not go away.

 

To conclude:

How do we cope with this stress? Ayurveda discusses specific techniques that are suitable for different kinds of people including colour and aroma therapy, use of certain herbs and imbibing certain Dinacharya to help the brain calm down. We will discuss these in tomorrow’s post on coping with different kinds of stress.

Is your stress high? Should you be making some changes in your life? Is your life / job hassling you at a dangerous level? No stress scale can help you conclude, but this is a good place to start.

 

 

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14 reasons for hair dryness , split ends and hair fall according to Ayurveda. Krya shares deep insights and simple remedies to help you tackle hair breakage and hairfall.

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“Dear Team Krya,

My hair is dull, dry, coarse and brittle. It breaks very easily. If I don’t use a lot of conditioner on it, it generates a huge amount of static. It also tangles very easily and breaks when I comb it brush it or wash it.

I wash my hair very frequently and apply special conditioners and serums on it. It has been more than 3 years since I applied any hair oil – my stylist told me that this will cause dandruff, so I stopped doing it.

I work in an IT job and I usually get back home quite late. I do tend to eat out quite a bit. In addition, I feel quite dull and lack energy at times. I also tend to get joint aches in my lower back and catches in my neck.

Despite spending a huge amount of money on spa treatments for my hair, the quality of my hair just hasn’t improved. What do you think could be the problem?

Can Krya and Ayurveda help? “

 

We have been speaking about the 6 causes of hairfall, hair breakage and hair damage this week on the Krya blog. We started on Monday with our post on pitta aggravation and how it is a leading cause for common hair problems like thinning, a receding hairline, premature greying and hair fall.

 

As a company based on Ayurvedic first principles, it is very insightful and enlightening for us to see how the Acharyas of yore have approached many common skin and hair problems we see today. The interlinkages between what we eat, the kind of jobs we work at, how our day is structured (or unstructured), the pressures we go through, and what we put on our bodies is fascinating and very deep.

These are the interlinkages we will explore today in our blog post, as we describe how Vata dosha, when aggravated by our diet, lifestyle or our habits, can wreak havoc on our hair and skin.

 

The importance of Vata Dosha and why it is vital to our healthy functioning:

Vata dosha is made up of Vayu (wind) and Akash (space) and is an extremely powerful dosha in the body. It is the only dosha capable of movement, so it carries pitta and kapha dosha to their respective places to help them function. Without a properly functioning vata dosha, none of the other 2 doshas can do their work.

 

When vata dosha is unvitiated and balanced, it holds up all the systems and organs, initiates all normal upward and downward movements of the body, leads and controls the mind, employs all the sense organs well, carries all sensations to the brain, causes structural formation of all muscle, bone and joint tissue.

1.balance key

Healthy vata dosha promotes the coherent working of the body, promotes proper speech, is the seat / origin of touch and sound, is the source of courage and exhilaration, stimulates digestion, throws out ama and toxins from the body, shapes the foetus and maintains the ayu / life span of each individual.

 

In nature, Vayu is said to hold up the earth itself, kindles fire, makes clouds, makes rain, initiates streams, helps plants, flowers and fruits sprout and grow, strengthens seeds and helps in normal transformation.

2.vata creates life

 

What are the qualities of Vata dosha?

The Charaka Samhita describes the qualities of vata dosha as follows:

“RookshaLaghuSheetaDarunakaRavishada “. – translated as rough, light, cold, hard, coarse and non unctuous.

In Ayurveda, like promotes like. So any food, habit, behaviour, or circumstances that have the characteristics of vata dosha, increase vata dosha in the body. Similarly, foods, habits, behaviours and circumstances that have the opposite characteristics of vata dosha help reduce it or balance it.

 

What happens to skin, hair and our body when vata dosha is aggravated?

Acharya Vagbhatta says that 50% of all diseases are caused by aggravation in vata dosha. At Krya, we have observed that almost 75% of the people who write to us with skin and hair disorders have aggravated vata dosha.

 

Skin and hair when vata is aggravated

When vata dosha is in excess, your skin will have unexplained darkening or tanning. It will feel coarse and flaky and look dull and lifeless. Aggravated vata dosha can also cause deep heel cracking where you can actually see the underlying layer of flesh as the cracks are so deep.

3.heel cracks

 

When vata dosha is in excess, your hair and scalp will suffer from extreme dryness. You may see scalp flaking where pieces of your scalp are getting dislodged when you comb or brush your hair. The scalp flakes will be white, powdery and dry.

 

Hair suffering from aggravated vata dosha tends to be much more dry and frizzy compared to normal hair. This hair breaks easily and lacks elasticity – so it will break when you brush it, comb it, towel dry it, plait it or even wash it. This kind of hair is also very high in split ends, and will generate static when you comb / brush it. The hair tends to look dry, lifeless, and coarse and lacks gloss and shine.

4. vata hair

 

Joint aches and dullness in the body – when vata is aggravated

As vata controls all joints and organs of movement, when vata is aggravated, you may notices catches, aches and pains in any part of the skeletal structure or in the legs. Lower back aches, neck catches, calf aches, ankle aches, knee pain and an unexplained dullness, and lack of energy may be noticed when vata is aggravated.

 

Vata dosha helps you stay longer, much like the energiser bunny. When it goes out of control, you might find yourself unable to switch off, having difficult falling sleep, have disturbed sleep where you wake up easily, and a general feel of ennui, and depression and dullness during the day.

5. depression

 

Vata prakriti – some clues

We have said before, that doshas can be aggravated because of your inherent nature / tendency towards that dosha or because of your activities, lifestyle and general regimen.

 

When we identify Vata prakriti, we look for a tendency towards movement and overuse of any of the vata rules organs. For example, you could be a very active sportsperson, someone who loves to exercise frequently, a runner, or even a professional singer.

 

Vata dosha encourages lots of mobility and creativity, excitement and love for variety and new things. So if you are talking to us with a lot of energy, talking nineteen to the dozen, and display an inherent creativity and love for new things, we think your vata dosha could be prominent.

6. vata creativity

Just like the texts say people with Pitta dominant prakriti make good leaders, and gravitate towards causes and missions and bring a single minded focus to what they do, the texts are also descriptive about vata dominated prakritis. They are extremely mobile, love creative pursuits, are said to be very intelligent and also display the qualities of air in their mental makeup – they are comfortable with ambiguity, creative and quick.

 

A predominant vata prakriti is usually thinner and lighter than their pitta and kapha counterparts. They have a tendency to lose weight easily, especially if vata is aggravated

 

Here is a great truth about vata dosha in particular: almost all of us have a tendency to aggravate it easily. So even if you are not a vata prakriti, if you live in the city and are leading the highly driven, clock watching life, you are probably prone to vata aggravation. We will see just below the causes of this vata aggravation, and explain why this is of concern to everyone, even if their basic prakriti is not that of vata.

 

The 14 Causes of vata aggravation

Raise your hand if this applies to you:

“My morning routine means that I wake up a bit late, rush around getting ready, gulp down a cup of coffee, and quickly eat a bowl of cornflakes with milk or instant oats. I then grab my car keys and I am out of the home in 30 minutes flat!”

Speed is a vata trait. Unfortunately eating foods that cook quickly or easily means that they are also vata dominating in nature. Rushing around and doing things very quickly is also a vata trait. So when vata eats vata and behaves vata, your dosha gets aggravated.

 

We will see below the 14 vata aggravating foods, practices, and lifestyles that can wreak havoc on your skin, hair and health.

 

  1. Dry, hard and crisp foods are vata aggravating

Any dry, hard, coarse, crisp food can be classified as having vata dominant properties. Many new age health foods satisfy this criterion. There is a disturbing movement towards eating unnatural, highly processed foods which are labelled as fat free or low calorie.

 

I used to be a fan of roasted soy sticks and ragi sticks in my youth. These foods were marketed towards people losing weight and were made with very little oil and were roasted dry to be low calorie. However, over-eating this increased my vata which was already aggravated due to the nature of my work.

 

It is far better eat a small quantity of a regular homemade fried snack, than eating large amount of commercially processed, weird additive filled low calorie snack. Please remember oil controls vata – so if you are carving fried food, eat a traditional preparation which uses oil, ghee or butter. Of course, even this is not good for you, so try and control your craving!

7. old fashioned

 

 

  1. Light, airy foods are vata aggravating

Foods that are light and airy in texture and tend to float like cornflakes, millet flakes, poha, are all high in vata as well. This is why it is a far better idea to eat cornflakes with whole milk instead of eating a granola bar for breakfast. When you add milk which is high in kapha and cooling to a vata based food like cornflakes, you are reducing its vata properties. However, if you are eating a plain baked granola bar as is, you are aggravating vata much more – and this is despite the nutritional benefits of the granola bar.

8.cornflakes

 

When we see vata aggravation at Krya, we normally recommend a switch to traditional, freshly cooked foods, especially at breakfast. While we can reduce vata present in cornflakes by eating this with warm milk, it is a far better choice to eat a wholesome, freshly cooked breakfast like pongal, upma, cheela, etc, if your hair is very dry and coarse.

 

  1. Lentils , nuts and seeds are high in vata

Many of you would have observed that soaking lentils overnight releases bubbles of gas in the vessel. This is applicable to any dried lentil like whole moong, whole urad, rajma, chole, etc. This is why Ayurveda classifies all dried lentils as vata promoting.

9.lentils nuts and seeds

 

However in this definition, lies a nuanced gradation of how much vata each lentil can produce. Split Mung dal is the least vata aggravating of all lentils. Rajma and channa are extremely vata aggravating.

 

Depending on how much your vata is aggravated, at Krya, we advise a few changes in the lentils you consume. If your hair is extremely dry and coarse, we advise switching for some time to split Mung dal as the lentil of choice. Even this lentil should be cooked with ghee or atleast eaten with ghee to reduce its slight vata aggravating properties.

 

If you cannot avoid eating heavy lentils like rajma or channa, we advise consumption taking a few precautions. Eating these heavy lentils with rice is better for you versus eating them with dry breads. They should be eaten with ghee. They should be eaten warm, as this is the opposite of vata’s cold nature. Lastly, they should be eaten at noon, because this is when your digestive fire is at its peak, so your body is much more capable of digesting this at this time.

 

  1. Vegetables and foods that are traditionally considered “gassy” are high in vata

Potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, cabbage are all considered high in vata. Many vata aggravated people tend to over consume these vegetables over other vegetables.

 

Does this mean that Ayurveda says we should never eat potatoes or cabbage? No, of course not!

 

It means that Ayurveda says we should eat sensibly, with a reasonable rotation of vegetables, and take care to understand the nature of these vegetables and cook them appropriately.

 

For example, cauliflower and potatoes and other similar vegetables should be cooked with carminative and warming spices like jeera, pepper and dhania. This helps reduce the gassiness of these vegetables. These vegetables must be eaten as fresh and hot as possible – eating them cold means their vata aggravating nature is more pronounced.

 

Vata aggravating vegetables should not be eaten in a fried form – this increases their vata nature. They are best made as a liquid gravy based dished and not a fried dish. (So bye bye French fries and Gobi Manchurian!)

10. gobi manchurian

 

  1. Baked goods are considered vata promoting

Baked goods are considered vata promoting as they are dry, and sometimes crisp in texture. Again in this there are gradations. A soft bread made with whole wheat and plenty of fat (perhaps in the form of butter, milk or oil) is less vata aggravating compared to a maida based, crisp and dry lavash or bread stick.

 

11.lavash

 

If your hair and skin is dry, and you find yourself constantly reaching out for biscuits, cakes and breads try and impose some regulation on these foods. As a start, avoid commercially processed baked goods as much as possible as they are high in sugar and bad fats and E numbers.

 

Even if eating a healthily made biscuit, warming it before eating helps bring down vata. Adding a small amount of melted ghee to it further brings down the vata. Eating this when your digestive fire / appetite is strong is also a good idea.

 

Similarly, when eating bread based meals, avoid Maida based breads. Eat breads after warming / toasting them with a fat (preferably ghee, or desi butter). Eat this with a warm liquid preparation that uses vegetables like carrots, or beets that are unctuous. Bread and potatoes do not make a good combination.

 

Most importantly eat this at a reasonable time – do not eat bread / baked goods late into the night.

 

  1. A special note on Maida – and why you should avoid it strongly

Among grains, Maida is the lightest, airiest and therefore most vata aggravating. Maida also has a second dreaded quality – of being “abhishyanadi” in Ayurveda. This means that it has a tendency to coat your system, clog the fine nerve endings, and take a very long time to digest and assimilate. Besides being vata aggravating and abhishyanadi, commercial Maida is also a chemical nightmare – it comes pre-loaded with several E Numbers, raising agents and other additives especially when it is used in baking.  So it would make a lot of sense if your hair is suffering vata aggravation to completely steer clear of anything to do with Maida.

 

12. maida

 

Maida has been written separately about, because we see so much Maida in everyone’s diet charts these days.

 

A consultation I just finished mentioned that the person writing to me had eaten Maggi noodles for dinner continuously for 3 months – she was showing very high dryness, scalp thinning and hairfall.

 

If Maida should be avoided, then Maggi noodles (and all other brands of Instant noodles) should be very specially avoided. Maggi noodles is made from commercial Maida, filled with additives and pre-fried in suspicious fats, so that it can magically transform into noodles in 3 minutes.

13. instant noodles

 

Not only is this vata aggravating, it is also abhishyanadi, and very bad for health as you are eating a junky, chemical filled substitute that is very very far away from anything resembling real food.

 

Please remember: if you are eating commercial pizzas and Maggi noodles as a staple, your hair will fall. It is extremely logical.

 

  1. Drinks that remove water from your body are vata aggravating

Tea and coffee have become a ubiquitous part of urban life. This is our new addiction and coffee and tea parlours are extremely well designed, with great odours and the easy availability of baked goods to satiate our sugar craving. As per Ayurveda, both tea and coffee are vata aggravating. However, they react in a way that is very specific to their properties. They aggravate Vata by removing moisture from your body.

14. tea and coffee

 

Vata aggravated bodies are already low on water and moisture – so when you drink large and frequent cups of tea and coffee and “pee away” the water in your body, you are doing your hair, skin and body a great disservice.

 

Colas are also extremely vata aggravating as are commercially processed fruit juices (besides being high in sugar). These drinks remove biological water from your body.

 

As a part of Krya’s questionnaire for vata aggravation, we ask about the number of cups of tea, coffee, commercial fruit juices and cola that is drunk every day. Once we figure this out, we usually advise a gradual reduction (unless things are in very bad shape) in certain drinks, and the easiest way to do this is to reduce your cup size.

 

Many of us are addicted to our tea and coffee, and it gives us a lot of stress to contemplate doing away with them altogether. So we suggest starting by halving your consumption. An attractive tiny espresso / tea cup will help you feel good about the way you are drinking your tea / coffee while reducing your consumption.

 

When it comes to colas and commercial fruit juices, we advise a strict ban. In our considered opinion colas are nothing but poison for the body. Innumerable studies show their bone leaching effect, extreme acidity, effect on diabetes and other dis-eases. There is no safe dose of poison. So please throw away / flush your cola stash down the toilet – this is the safest place for it.

15.cola

 

Many commercial juices claim to be a healthy substitute to tea and coffee. If you attempt to replicate the process and make your own orange / tomato juice at home, you will understand the amount of sugar taken to make the drink taste so sweet. The existing properties of the fruits are long gone before they reach you – as all of us are aware, it takes a special amount of preservation to make an orange juice last for 6 months without refrigeration. Again, like the case of colas, avoid completely.

 

16. unreal

 

  1. Eating at irregular times every day is vata aggravating

At the beginning of this piece, we described the properties of Vata and how it loves variety and mobility. Therefore, Ayurveda advises that a rigid schedule helps control vata, and a variable schedule aggravates it. Many people, who come to us with vata aggravated hair, also tell us that their schedules are very variable. They tend to eat dinner at varying times everyday and often have a weekend schedule which is even more variable compared to their weekend schedule.

17.binge eating

 

 

If you are nodding as you read this, here is a simple fact: your body does not know that it is Sunday. Or Wednesday. It is designed to expect food, of a particular nature at a similar time everyday. If you keep varying your eating time, it will bring down your ability to digest food properly. It can give you gastric issues. And pertinently for this post, it will aggravate vata, leading to poor skin and hair.

 

  1. Being unplanned and chaotic is vata aggravating

Just like being over planned and having a rigid need for control can aggravate a pitta prone person, being unplanned, chaotic and unscheduled can aggravate vata in your body, especially if you are already prone to it.

 

Some amount of ambiguity is good for creativity. However, when your life descends into chaos, at the stage when you have really no idea what you are going to be eating in your next meal, or when you are going to be eating it, then your vata will go out of control.

18.chaos

We see a lot of creatively oriented people at Krya, complaining of vata aggravated skin and hair disorders. The very nature of creativity is vata driven – so it makes sense that very creative people, or people in creative professions like music, films, and entertainment, strongly harness vata dosha.

 

But when this vata inspired creativity is further surrounded by a lack of schedule and chaos in your basic day (unplanned eating, sleeping, living), this completely throws your doshas out of balance.

 

If you are prone to vata, then we recommend you start by bring atleast one part of your day under rigid control. It could simply be the time you eat dinner, or the time you go to sleep, or doing an abhyanga once a week. This simple act of bringing one part of your life under control will act as a counter to unbalanced vata.

 

A person in a creative position or a vata dominated person may never achieve the rigid control a Pitta person can. But we suggest you choose a few areas of your life and bring order only to this as a matter of habit. This will rein in agitation and the excesses of vata, without changing your basic nature or profession.

 

  1. A high amount of physical activity aggravates vata dosha

Vata is the dosha governing movement and mobility. It therefore stands to reason that if you are using movement and mobility often and in high doses, you could end up aggravating vata dosha.

 

Many sportspersons and long distance runners have the classic vata build – they are lean, and have much darker skin colour compared to their youth. They also tend to succumb quickly to disorders involving vata related organs – joint and skeletal injuries for example. While Western sports medicine would argue that this is a simple case of overuse, Ayurveda would say that this is because vata is aggravated and the body is full of dryness.

19. running

 

 

Acharya Charaka says for example, that it is far easier to break a dry and brittle stick than it is to break a stick that has been oiled every day. External oleation is strongly recommended when you do extreme, frequent physical activity to rein in excess vata. The body is less injury prone, much stronger and remains youthful despite the physical effort.

 

At Krya, we have seen several case of hairfall related to vata aggravation after a new exercise routine has been taken up. For example, a young man came to us for hairfall advice – on investigation we found that he had started marathon running as a hobby 8 months prior to the hairfall.

 

Does this mean Ayurveda is against running or any extreme physical activity?

 

Again the answer is no. Ayurveda deeply recognises the connection between your mind and your body and is always encouraging of activities that give you deep satisfaction and happiness. So if marathon running makes you happy you must continue to do.

stencil.krya-blog-landscape-new

 

However, you must prepare your body for this activity by ensuring you do regular abhyangas, by eating foods that pacify vata and controlling chaos in other parts of your life. This will ensure you neither lose hair nor health in your pursuit of happiness.

 

  1. A high amount of mental activity and use of electronic devices agitates vata

We have seen this at Krya. Sudden extreme hairfall after a promotion, during a job change or when someone is doing a difficult project. One can of course blame the late nights, coffee and lack of routine for this excess. But an agitated brain that will not shut down easily, a high use of electronic devices, a high amount of talking and mental activity will aggravate vata.

20.excited mind

 

Vata dosha is excited by stimulus. So using your mobile phone all the time, working late into the night, having frequent agitated conversations over cups of coffee and putting in a month of late nights will give vata dosha enough stimuli to push it over the edge.

 

Mental vata aggravation has to be tackled in three ways: one is to ensure that your diet does not further stimulate your vata during this stressful time, so choosing dal-chaawal over a burger will help.

 

Second is to physically calm the brain at night by oiling the scalp – at Krya we have recommended specific hair oiling for this kind of vata aggravation where herbs like Brahmi and Usheera (vetiver) are used. These herbs soothe the nerves and are excellent for stress related vata aggravation.

 

The third and important thing to do in stress related Vata is to follow an electronic cut off time and set up an electronics free zone for yourself. Restraining the use of electronics and imposing rigidity around this, again helps control aggravated vata dosha.

 

  1. Speaking for long periods on your mobile phone / telephone is vata aggravating

Vata’s secondary seat is your ears. If your job tends to involve long and frequent phone calls, then your overuse of a vata seat can aggravate vata. Many people who are in jobs which involve long phone calls tends to have the characteristics of aggravated vata – they speak a lot, are unable to focus or concentrate, experience skin darkening and have dry and coarse skin and hair.

21.long calls

 

 

At Krya we advise a good massage of your ears everytime during your abhyanga. In addition if your job involves overuse of your ears, doing a daily ear massage with warm oil will be very helpful. A Gandusha (swishing of water in your mouth after every meal and drink) is also very good for strained vocal chords. As is oil pulling once a week with Sesame oil.

 

  1. Raw food and vegan diets tend to be vata aggravating

Raw food diets by their very nature tend to be vata aggravating. Raw food satisfies many of the criteria of vata dosha like being dry, crisp, hard, light and non oily. This is why many people on a raw food diet could end up experiencing vata aggravation symptoms like joint aches, back pain, dry skin and poor hair.

22. raw food

 

Vegan diets, while excellent from an ethical perspective, are vata aggravating as per Ayurveda. Because of the high dependence on lentils and nuts (for nut milks and dressings), the food can severely increase wind and dryness in the body.

 

I am unable to offer any improving perspectives from Ayurveda for either raw food diets or a vegan diets. All the Ayurvedic weapons of controlling vata like ghee, cooking food and milk are not of use if you are a vegan or someone who eats raw food. I have often said that Ayurveda and being vegan do not go together, and I have learned this through direct personal experience. If you are leaning towards Ayurveda, and you are finding dis-ease in your current life having been on a raw food or a vegan diet, do re-examine your choices.

 

  1. Air travel and long commutes aggravate vata

Vata is the dosha which governs space and mobility. So it stands to reason that physically transporting yourself over a long distance every day or a super long distance frequently can aggravate the dosha of mobility and space.

23. the long commute

 

Many times a commute is out of our control, unless you are fortunate enough to work for yourself. So we advice a few precautions to be taken if you are in for a long commute everyday or frequent air travel (either everyday if you have a long commute or 3 – 4 days before air travel)

  • Eat an early dinner (before 8:30) and go to sleep exactly 2 hours later
  • Reduce your tea and coffee intake by halving your cup size
  • Keep yourself warm on the flight – warm is the opposite of vata dosha
  • Cover your ears and head if travelling in public transport. Reduce the AC if travelling in car –and keep the windows partially closed to reduce draughts of wind from settling on your person.
  • Stick like a maniac to your abhyanga schedule – this will bring down the stress of your commute and plane travel excesses

 

Krya recommendation for reducing vata aggravation

Our rather long post has examined 14 ways you can aggravate vata through food choices, lifestyle and certain behaviors. I hope you are not feeling disheartened or helpless at the end of this post. As I have mentioned, Ayurveda allows for everyone to lead a unique and tailor made life as per their needs. Ayurveda is never drastic (except in drastic circumstances) and always advises preparedness and moderation to handle the excesses of life.

Our post aims to put control back into your hands. None of us are helpless if we know exactly what we are going through and know how exactly to tackle these problems.

If you are experiencing vata aggravation due to any or all of the 14 vata aggravating foods, habits and lifestyles, here is a good recommendation from us to help you balance your doshas:

  1. Add melted desi cow’s ghee to your diet – atleast 1 teaspoon per meal. Ghee is universally acknowledged in Ayurveda as being tridoshic , balancing to all doshas and is especially useful to control aggravated vata
  2. Reduce the amount of tea, coffee, you are drinking – halve your cup size and ban colas and juices altogether
  3. Ban colas and commercial fruit juices completely from your life
  4. Control your meal times – we recommend breakfast at 8:30 am, lunch at 12:30 pm, a snack if you are hungry at 4:30 pm and dinner at 8:30 pm. As we have explained controlling one part of your life, particular meals, greatly helps control vata.
  5. Add a pada abhyanga if your mental stress, commute is very high – we recommend a thrice a week pada abhyanga (foot massage) – This is to be done atleast one hour after dinner and atleast 45 minutes before sleeping. Massage your feet with warm Krya abhyanga oil and massage the soles of the feet very well. After 15 minutes, wash off with Krya Men’s ubtan or the Krya Women’s ubtan. Dry the feet well, before sleeping. The pada abhyanga reduces stress, balances vata dosha, and calms the body down and prepares you for sleep.
  6. BE a MANIAC about your abhyanga: We recommend atleast once a week or ideally twice a week abhyanga for everyone. Tuesdays and Fridays are good for abhyangas for Women and Wednesdays and Saturdays are good for Abhyangas for Men. Do the Abhyanga with warm oil – 50% Krya Abhyanga Oil and 50% sesame oil (preferably cold pressed and organic). Warm the Sesame oil with Maricha (pepper – 1 corn), and Jeera (1/2 teaspoon). Filter out hot oil and add equal quantity of Krya Abhyanga oil to this. Apply as hot as possible on skin and massage very briskly using long up down strokes. The massage should generate heat and sweat. After 20 minutes, wash off with Krya Men’s Ubtan or the Krya Women’s ubtan.
  7. In times of great mental stress, we have found Hair oiling to be very beneficial to calm down jangled nerves. Apply ¼ tsp of Krya Classic Oil or our newly launched Krya Vata reducing Hair oil directly on the scalp and massage well. Do this at 7 pm to give the excess heat in the body enough time to come out. This will help you stay calm and focused and balances vata dosha.
  8. Of course, one of the key things to do when you have vata aggravated hair fall, is to look after your hair well. It needs to be oiled religiously 3 – 4 times a week, washed only with a gentle hairwash that will not further dry it and aggravate it. Our consumers swear by the health giving properties of our hair oils and how gentle yet effective our hairwashes and hair masks are. Like all Krya products our hair systems are synthetics and toxin free. You can try our classic hair system, or our conditioning hair system depending upon the texture of your hair. We also have a special hair system to address dryness caused by chemical damage (excessive colouring, perming, straightening, etc).

We hope this article was useful to you to help you understand the leading cause of urban hairfall and hair damage. Stay tuned for the next article in this series on how unbalanced Kapha can aggravate hairfall of a particular kind – we will be discussing hairfall related to PCOD in this post as well.

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