Abhyanga modification for Spring (Vasanta Ritu)

abhyanga modification suggested for vasanta ritu - by krya
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Reading Time: 8 minutes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abhyanga Contraindications :

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

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

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

Abhyanga modification for spring (Vasanta Ritu):

1. Yoga / Exercise BEFORE Abhyanga

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

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

In vasanta do exercise before abhyanga

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

2. Do Abhyanga early

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

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

An early morning abhyanga is recommended in Vasanta

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

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

Late Abhyanga in Kapha peak = Aggravated Kapha

3. WARM the oil before Abhyanga

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

In Spring, use warm oil for abhyanga

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

Cold Oil = More Kapha

4. Use LESS Oil and Massage MORE

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

In vasanta, use less oil fo abhyanga with more massage

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

More oil = More Kapha = More stiffness

5. Squeeze the limbs well during Abhyanga

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

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

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

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

6. Soak LESS after your Abhyanga

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

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

The more you soak, the colder your body gets.

Cold = Kapha.

7. Bathe TWICE after Abhyanga

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

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

Bathe twice after abhyanga in vasanta

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

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

8. Bathe in reasonably warm water:

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

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

Melting Kapha = Vasanta / Spring.

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

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

bathe in warm and not hot water in Vasanta

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

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

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

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

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

Keep the scalp dry in Vasanta

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

Cold = water freezing on scalp = Kapha.

Krya’s Abhyanga Products for Vasanta Ritu:

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

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

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

 

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

Intense Abhyanga Snana Range:

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

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

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

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

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

To sum up – abhyanga modifications in spring

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

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

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The History of Abhyanga: What Ashtanga Hridayam says about Abhyanga

Benefits of abhyanga according to ashtanga hridayam
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Reading Time: 10 minutes

The Abhyanga is a key Dinacharya, daily practice recommended in Ayurveda to impart Bala (strength), Ayush (health and Immunity) and Ayu (long life) to the body.  This practice forms an important part of Krya’s recommendations to improve hair growth, impart better strength and texture to hair and to also improve the quality, tone and texture of skin.

Abhyanga is a key dinacharya practice recommended in ayurveda

An abhyanga is also a very important Dincharya that is recommended for specific cases of hairfall like post partum hairfall, hairfall due to sudden and extreme weight loss (cases of high vata aggravation).

Many Krya consumers have found a HUGE difference to their hair health, skin texture and overall well being and immunity when abhyanga is added to their daily routine. The practice of abhyanga is mentioned as a health giving practice in all the Ayurvedic Samhitas.

In today’s post, we will analyse the abhyanga shloka in Ashtanga Hridayam’s Dinacharya chapter and see why Acharya Vagbhatta says this is such an important and useful practice.

Ashtanga Hridayam: part of the Brhat Trayee Texts in Ayurveda

We have written often about how empowering Ayurveda is as a Vaidya shastra. Ayurveda is considered an UpaVeda, an offshoot of the vedas themselves and is found in the Atharva Veda. This Upa Veda is a Divine Science which has been handed down from the Devas to the Raja Rishis.

Ayurveda is an Upaveda: it si incredibly ancient and of divine origin

It was then passed down in oral tradition until it was compiled about 3000 – 4000 years ago by Agnivesa. Agnivesa’s Samhita, was then further redacted by Charaka.  Charaka’s redaction of Agnivesa Samhita became much more famous than the original, and soon everyone began to refer to Charaka’s redaction as the Charaka Samhita.

Charaka Samhita is one of the 3 ayurvedic texts in the Brhat Trayee.

Charaka Samhita forms the first of the Brhita Trayee. The second text in the Brihat Trayee is Sushruta Samhita. The Sushruta Samhita concentrates more on surgery and surgical methods than general Chikitsa (medicines and general healing) which Charaka Samhita focusses on.

The Ashtanga Hridayam is the 3rd text included in the Brhat trayee – the great 3 texts of Ayurveda . This classification of “Brhat Trayee”  is of the 19th century origin. The classifier appears to have chosen 3 texts that are of universal repute in the field of Ayurveda, with use in almost the entire length and breadth of India.

The Ashtanga Hridayam is of more recent origin. Various datings ascribe it to the 7th – 8th century AD.  Despite its more recent origin compared to Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita, it is not surprising that the Ashtanga Hridayam text is included in the Brhat Trayee . This text is extremely lucid, clear with  easy to understand and shorter Sanskrit shlokas .

Concept of “Living Right” in Ayurveda:

One of the stark differences between Ayurveda and Western Medicine is the high emphasis on “living right”. Each Acharya tells us that if we followed “Dinacharya” (daily practices for health and well being), followed Ritucharya (seasonal modifications to adjust to changes in weather and internal doshas) and followed Ahara Niyama (guidelines to eat, choosing right food, avoiding incompatible foods, etc), we can avoid nearly 85% of the disease.

Ayurveda varies gretaly from allopathy in the emphasis on living right

A Vaidya is then only required for the balance 15% of the stubborn diseases which may occur due to accidents, karma etc. Even the effect of these diseases, their severity and the speed of our recovery can be greatly affected if we have been following Dinacharya, Ritucharya and Ahara niyama.

As Ayurveda spans a long length of time (over 4000 years), it makes sense that there will be variations in the variety of herbs used, and also additions to the disease conditions discussed, chikitsa techniques, etc over time across various texts.

But the basic fundamental chapters like Ahara Niyama (how to eat / food guidelines), Dinacharya (daily living) and Ritucharya (seasonal living) are largely unchanged from the time of the MOST ancient Ayurvedic Samhitas.

Abhyanga in Dinacharya: ancient and unbroken guideline to “Living Right” in Ayurveda

We have already seen that the chapters on Dinacharya and Ritucharya have remained largely intact, with only minor modifications and additions from the time of Acharya Charaka. So also,  Acharya Vagbhatta’s Shloka on Abhyanga is a modified and modern retelling of the Shloka found 3000-4000 years ago in the Charka Samhita. Since Charaka Samhita itself is a redaction of Agnivesa Samhita which is even more ancient, we can surmise that a similar shloka on abhyanga would have been found there also.

As many ayurvedic texts and commentaries are lost today, we cannot physically verify this fact. But each Acharya in his retelling confirms this and tell us that he is presenting in a brief manner what he has already read / seen / studied from earlier texts. The abhyanga tradition can therefore be seen as a distilled piece of practical wisdom that follows an unbroken chain across thousands of years of traditional Indian medicinal wisdom .

Abhyanga is a distilled piece of wisdom form an unbroken line of indian traditional medicine

So, without doubt, when we practice abhyanga regularly, we should get the benefits that the acharyas have described.

Abhyanga recommendations at Krya:

At Krya, we recommend doing a “regular” abhyanga for good health. What is the meaning of “regular”? As the abhyanga is mentioned under “Dinacharya” chapter in Ayurvedic texts, along with activities like brushing our teeth, etc, it should also be done “Dina” or daily.

However, most of us are unused to even the idea of a Dinacharya, let alone the concept of an Abhyanga. So at Krya, we start by suggesting that Abhyanga be done two times a week as a complete routine including Karna abhyanga (ear massage), Shiro Abhyanga (head oiling) and Pada abhyanga (feet oiling).

In addition, we have recommended doing a shortened version of the abhyanga, called “Mini Abhyanga” 3 – 4 times a week. The Mini Abhyanga is mainly done for women to balance Apana vayu. This is very useful to correct Vata imbalances in the lower abdomen – this helps regulate menstrual cramps and ensures periods are relatively easy and pain free. In Men, the mini abhyanga helps regulate digestion.

Similarly, we recommend doing Pada abhyanga atleast 3 – 4 times a week. The Pada abhyanga is a vital part of the daily abhyanga and is an incredibly health giving, relaxing abhyanga to do. For those who are unable to do a regular full abhyanga, the Pada abhyanga is a great way to start inculcating the Abhyanga Dinacharya.

Pada abhyanga is to be done atleast three to four times a week

We will do a separate post on the benefits of Pada Abhyanga. But in short, it helps relieve fatigue, improves sleep quality, balances vata dosha and is a “drishti prasadaka” practice – clarifies and strengthens the vision.

A pada abhyanga is especially recommended for Men and those with high mental stress, insomnia, late nights, high vata aggravation, etc.

Splitting Abhyanga into mini units – some benefits

By splitting the abhyanga into full and mini Abhyanga units at Krya, we have been able to overcome some part of the resistance to take time out to do this Dinacharya. As our consumers start experiencing the benefits of these mini abhyangas for themselves, they are much more motivated to attempt doing a full abhyanga regularly.

Also, we are seeing a high rise in certain repetitive stress disorders due to the nature of urban careers. For example, we see a lot of wrist injuries, frozen shoulder, lower back ache etc, due to the high use of smartphones and laptops and also due to long commutes in a car. This tends to aggravate Vata dosha in these specific areas in the body.

Hasta abhyanga - good mini abhyanga that helps in repetitive stress disorders

So when Mini abhyangas like Pada abhyanga & Hasta abhyanga are done, there is an immediate improvement in the flexibility, working and health of these areas.

An Interpretation of Acharya Vaghbatta’s Shloka on abhyanga:

How did we arrive at concept of Karna abhyanga , Pada abhyanga, and mini abhyanga ? We arrived at this by interpretation of the abhyanga Shlokas themselves. How did we arrive at the benefits of doing a regular abhyanga? Again by reading and interpreting the shlokas first and then following their instructions and then experiencing these benefits.

Every Ayurvedic Nighantu and Samhita offers a varied nuance / flavour for each Dinacharya practice suggested. Obviously the more texts we read, the more complex and detailed our understanding of the process becomes. When we do these Dinacharyas ourselves and also observe the benefits experienced by hundreds of Krya consumers of various prakritis age groups, demographics and geographies, we get better and better at understanding the abhyanga and its benefits.

Given below is a picture of the exact shloka on abhyanga from one of the commentaries written on Ashtanga Hridayam. The Shloka itself has been composed by Acharya Vagbhatta in the 7th century AD.

The translation given here is my own based on my interpretation, the interpretation of my gurus and also derived from the interpretation of many more commentaries of the same text.

Summarizing the benefits of Abhyanga: from Acharya Vagbhatta’s Ashtanga Hridayam

In this shloka on abhyanga, the Acharya uses the word ” achareth” which means “suggested / recommended”. This is a point of change from the Abhyanga shloka in Charaka Samhita. In Charaka Samhita the Acharya makes an observation: ” the body of one who does abhyanga daily is strong, does not break easily, etc”.

Ashtanga Hridayam - shloka on Abhyanga's importance

But Acharya Vagbhatta has taken it upon himself to make a more “prescriptive” suggestion. In the Ashtanga Hridayam, The Acharya has remarked that Vata based diseases are on the rise. This could be an increase from Acharya Charaka’s time. Acharya Vagbhatta has also predicted that he expects 50% or more of all diseases in the future to be caused by Vata aggravation. This is most certainly the case today for all of us. I suspect this is why he has actually used the word “achareth” or recommend in this shloka.

The benefits of abhyanga are well known to us: but to summarize from this shloka: A regular abhyanga retards aging, removes tiredness, reduces vata aggravation, clarifies eye sight, gives good quality sleep, improves health and improves the stability and strength of the body.

Acharya Vagbhatta tells us to pay special emphasis to the Head, Ears and Feet while doing an abhyanga. This is the reason behind frequent hair oiling of atleast 4-5 times a week which is recommended by us at Krya.

Hair oiling atleast 4 – 5 times a week improves health AND hair quality, growth and texture. Similarly, doing a Pada abhyanga 4 – 5 times a week improves vision, relieves fatigue, etc. Other texts contain specific shlokas on the benefits of Pada abhyanga and hair oiling separately.

Abhyanga products available at Krya:

We have 2 kinds of abhyanga snana products available at Krya. Just as the choice of abhyanga oil is very important, the right Snana product is also equally important. The correct Snana product cleanses and removes only the excess oil present after abhyanga on Skin. This varies by prakriti – we can expect Vata prakriti skin to strongly soak up abhyanga oil leaving very little aside to remove.

Such an intelligent system like our body, also requires intelligent cleansing. We have written more about why cleansers made from Divya Oushadis and live organic grains are intelligent and better suited for your body, here. Do take a look.

Classic abhyanga-snana range:

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

Krya abhyanga Oil - classic

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

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

Intense abhyanga-snana Range:

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

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

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

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

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

To sum up: the Benefits of a Regular abhyanga

At Krya, we emphasize that external products alone do not give you the holistic changes you expect in skin and hair health. When you add on good Dinacharya practices like the abhyanga and also follow Ahara Niyama guidelines, you can see a quicker and more long lasting change in your health and well being.

Today, we are no longer trained in our Indic languages like Sanskrit and Tamil. We do not have any training of Ayurveda. We have also lost out on hard earned cultural knowledge like food norms, dietary guidelines, etc.

Despite this loss, some of what the Ayurvedic texts survive in our lives – but as a fragment of a fragment of a fragment. This is why all of us are used to only a once a year abhyanga on Deepavali day. We have lost the knowledge of the Samhitas and the shlokas which asked us to do abhyanga “Nityam” and are instead doing abhyanga once a year only.

I hope this post inspires you to adopt this health giving, wonderful practice. The most wonderful part about Ayurveda to me, is how firmly the acharyas put our health in our own hands. Every Acharya tells us that if we adopted the guidelines of Dinacharya, Ritucharya, ahara niyama and Right living, we will not fall ill often and have to meet the Vaidya.

When we follow the principles of “Ayurvedic right living”, we have to meet a Vaidya only about 15% of the time for truly serious illnesses. The balance 85% of illnesses can be avoided, averted or simply treated at home.

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Krya Body-Washes & Ubtans : Natural Intelligence for your skin

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Artificial Intelligence & machine learning in non-human systems is an accepted reality now. If it seems incredible that some human jobs could be replaced by AI, then even more incredible is natural intelligence, which is all around us but often not appreciated.

An excellent example of natural intelligence is the interaction of a good Ayurvedic Ubtan or bodywash with your skin.

Natural Intelligence for your Skin

In the Ayurvedic system, a herb & grain based powder is the ideal recommendation for clean, healthy and radiant skin. (they also recommend that you regularly apply a good skin oil pre-bath to balance aggravated doshas and nourish the skin)

All the natural orifices of the body like the ears , eyes , nose, axillia, genital organs , skin pores (sweat) and scalp secrete  waste material called “mala” , throughout the day and night. If this “mala” is not removed properly, the body loses its health and appearance of well being. This is one very important reason why a “Snana” is recommended as the first act of the day and is considered to be very beneficial.

The 3-Level cleansing process of a Ubtan & Body-wash Powder

Soaps use a purely surfactant method of dissolving all the oils and dirt on the surface of your skin , which are then removed as you pour water.

The Krya Ubtans & Body-wash powders work by combination of gentle exfoliation , natural surfactants and adsorption. The Ubtan powder is first made into a paste with water and then this herb paste is gently rubbed on the skin. This paste adsorbs excess oil, dead cells and dirt from your skin and then leaves it fresh and clean, as you pour water to wash off the mixture.

Because of the powder format and the quality of the herbs, this paste also gently opens up the Srotas or fine channels on your skin and cleanses the “mala” in them by suction. As the ubtan cleans, the herbs and grains also coat the skin with nutrients, oils and other bio-actives.

The Krya Ubtans and body-washes are also designed at a mildly acidic pH to match your skin so that your  skin’s micro-biome is properly maintained. So in this medium only those microbes that the skin deems beneficial are allowed to prosper while it eliminates other harmful bacteria.

Due to this highly intelligent cleaning method, your skin is nourished, thoroughly cleansed, and the skin’s moisture is protected. So you feel light and refreshed after an Ayurvedic Snana. Due to the deep cleaning of the Srotas, you will be protected from body-odour for several hours naturally without any recourse to artificial deodorants.

So a properly formulated Ayurvedic Ubtan or bodywash powder will cleanse at 3 – Levels

  1. The surface of the skin
  2. The fine channels or “srotas” and
  3. Protect & Nourish your skin micro-biome without destroying friendly microbes.

Soaps are NOT intelligent

Soap making technology was known to all ancient cultures and yet it was never accepted by Indian systems of medicine, and for good reason too. Synthetic soaps have a detergent like action that dissolves only the surface level oil and dirt on your skin and wipes it dry after your bath. Since the deeper level srotas have not been cleaned, soon after a bath, the sweat and poorly cleaned srotas will cause body-odour. Certain soaps may also unnecessarily load the srotas with scum and buildup, clogging the srotas further.

In this broad-spectrum cleaning , the soap also dries out the natural sebum of the skin , making it dry and crying out for a moisturizer. Also, because of their alkaline pH (your skin is at a mildly acidic pH) , soaps will also destroy the skin microbiome of friendly bacteria and make the body more vulnerable to disease causing organisms.

So effectively a soap bath is a superficial clean, and a deep level disturbance to your skin. It leaves your skin dry, unclean from within and robbed of its friendly microbial protective layer – this is NOT very intelligent.

The Difference between A Krya Ubtan & A Krya Body-Wash

A Krya ubtan has been formulated with special herbs to remove excess oil on an  Abhyanga (oil-bath) day. Whereas, a Krya body-wash has been designed for use on regular non-abhyanga days for use on plain , un-oiled skin. It is an ideal replacement to care for your skin by replacing harsh soaps. Customers who use our body-wash regularly are always surprised by the fact that their skin feels refreshingly clean, without needing an external moisturizer and is also naturally deodorized for several hours.

At Krya we have 14 different Ubtans and Body-Washes for men, women, kids & babies and by your skin type.

Buy natural intelligence for your skin here 

 

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What Everyone Must Know about ayurvedic oiling

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Reading Time: 8 minutes

The practice of ayurvedic oiling , i.e using ayurvedic skin and hair oils is essential for maintaining skin and hair health. Regular ayurvedic oiling improves hair and skin health, helps restore and repair these organ systems, balances dosha imbalances and gives many other important health benefits for the body.

 

ayurvedic oiling is an excellent practice ti give health and transform hair & skin.

Ayurveda also recommends the balanced consumption of “sneha” or oils & fats to keep the bones and joints in good working condition. Certain organs like the brain and the eyes are high in fat composition so the regular intake of good fats is recommended to keep these organs in good working order.

Properties of different vegetable oils – as per Ayurveda

Every vegetable oil / fat has a different quality as per traditional medicine.

Cow ghee:

Cow ghee is considered tridoshic in its nature, and helps calm down pitta and vata without increasing kapha greatly. So if your skin and hair is extremely dry or chemically damaged, the addition of cow ghee in your diet will be very beneficial. To avoid aggravating Kapha, it is better to consume only melted cow ghee. Do keep in mind that this ghee should be made the ayurvedic way from the milk of hormone and antibiotic free, A2 desi cows only.

 

Cow ghee is an excellent tridoshic fat to be consumed regularly

Sesame Oil:

Sesame oil is considered “the” base oil in Ayurveda. It goes into every external abhyanga, hair and skin formulation at Krya. Sesame is fantastic at balancing vata dosha, so if you have a lot of aches and pains, external application of sesame can go a long way in correcting this.

Sesame, however, can increase pitta – so if you have a high pitta constitution, it is better to cut down on the consumption of sesame seeds and oils, although you can continue to use this externally. High pitta dosha manifests itself as premature greying, balding, a quick volatile temper, skin that is dry due to excess heat, burning and inflamed skin conditions and hair that tends to have a reddish / brownish hue.

Sesame oil is the base oil of choice in Ayurveda. It is nourishing, intense and hot in nature

Coconut Oil:

Coconut oil is extremely nutritious and good for the body. Its composition is close to that of human breast milk, so it is very beneficial for the body. However, it is very cooling and can increase mucous in the body and also stimulates hair growth. So if you have a kapha prone body tend to catch colds easily and are also slightly hirsute, it is best not to apply coconut oil on the body.

Coconut oil is highly nutritious but very cooling and kapha aggravating

In the Winter season, coconut oil is best avoided on skin for everyone. However, it can be used for the hair , after processing with herbs, as it helps stimulate hair growth and cools the brain, scalp and eyes.

Some issues with Sneha (vegetable oils and fats)

What we have stated above are facts given in the Samhitas. However, in modern times, the properties of these wonderful base oils are altered due to the way they have been extracted. Also, we have seen that each base oil comes with its own suitability issues.

Issues due to sourcing:

We have written a detailed post on Cow ghee and how it should be sourced and consumed. If we are having ghee made the commercial way where we are not extracting ghee from naturally fermented curd / cream, or sourcing ghee form hormone and antibiotic pumped A1 cows, then we will not get the benefits of ghee that are outlined in the Samhitas.

Issues due to the essential nature of Oils:

For example, Sesame oil is a wonderful base oil, but its essential nature is pitta aggravating. So in conditions of high Pitta aggravation, it is better to temper down the properties of Pitta present in sesame. Similarly, we have seen that Coconut is hair growth promoting but is also kapha aggravating. So how do we continue to use its beneficial properties without aggravating mucous or stimulating hair growth? Let us see how we tackle both of these problems at Krya.

Issues due to extraction method followed:

All commercial brands of cooking oil unfortunately follow the chemical extraction method where “food grade” hexane is used as a solvent to extract oil. In this method, an oil seed can release almost 70 – 80% of its oil content. The recovery process in the mechanical chekku /  ghani is only upto 40%.

The solvent extraction process allows us to extract oil from even brand and husk, where oil content is very low – this explains how we are seeing new oils today like rice bran oil which were traditionally unheard of, as it is impossible to mechanically extract oil from rice bran using a chekku / ghani.

Cold pressed organic oils used at Krya : the first step towards ayurvedic oiling

We use only old fashioned chekku (in tamil) / ghani (in hindi) extracted oils that have been pressed from organically grown seeds. The chekku / ghani is a wooden press that uses mechanical pressure, sometimes aided by the use of cattle to squeeze out oil from an oil seed like copra, sesame seeds, mustard etc.

 

This kind of oil is also called a “cold pressed oil” although this is a misnomer strictly speaking as the chekku / ghani also generates a small amount of heat as the wooden crushes uses force to crush seeds and extract oil.

This “old fashioned” method of extracting oil is safe, retains the aroma of the oil and is extremely nutritious to the body.

Some of the qualities of a chekku / ghani extracted oil is that there is some degree of moisture preset in the oil. Also, the oil contains minute volatile compounds that oxidize releasing a characteristic aroma for each type of oil. As the oil ages and is exposed to oxygen, these volatile compounds start to ferment , so the oil with time will have a “riper” aroma and will eventually go rancid. This is why a chekku / ghani extracted oil will never have a shelf life of more than 9 months – it will start to go rancid.

Cold pressed oil extraction is a traditional method that retains nutrients in oil

A high quality, cold pressed oil pressed from organic seeds & nuts is the first important step in ayurvedic oiling. 

Compare this with the 3 year shelf life of a hexane extracted oil – this oil has been chemically extracted, refined, bleached and deodorised to remove all its individual characteristics and has been made to unnaturally stay edible for 2 – 3 years.

If an external products company like Krya does not use commercially extracted oil for our hair and skin oils, then you should certainly not use these oils for edible purpose at home. Think of the effect using these oils can have on your body.

Transforming a vegetable oil for for ayurvedic oiling: Tila Paka veedhi process

By sourcing only cold pressed, ghani extracted vegetable oils from organically grown nuts and seeds, we are able to solve one part of the oil sourcing  problem at Krya. We are able to avoid any chemical contamination and begin with only the purest and best form of the vegetable oil.

But how do we handle the fact that the vegetable oil is suitable only for certain prakrities? We widen its suitability and improve its bio-availability by cooking it with herbs to change its properties and make it suitable for ayurvedic oiling.

When the Tila Paka veedhi process is done correctly using the right herbs, the right process and the right temperature, the base vegetable oil TRANSFORMS. It becomes a potent, bio active rich oil by transferring the actives from herbs into the oils through this process. In this process, the base oil absorbs the properties of the herbs and its nature subtly transforms.

 

Tila Paka veedhi is a transformative ayurvedic oil manufacturing process

Depending upon the herbs used, we can make the oil less kapha aggravating (in the case of Coconut oil), and less intense (Sesame Oil). By judiciously formulating the right mix of base oils, herbs that go into the final oil, we can create an oil which is readily penetrative without being “teekshna” or intense, and which is nourishing / nurturing without enhancing mucous production. This is why we say that an oil made from an organic cold pressed oil and then further transformed using herbs by the Tila paka veedhi process is the ideal oil for ayurvedic oiling. When ayurvedic oiling is done with this kind of oil, you can see holistic and widespread benefits in hair, skin & health.

How is the Tila Paka veedhi process done?

The Tila Paka Veedhi is an ayurvedic oil manufacturing process. One of the reason this process is not used widely is because it is slow, and highly labour intensive . For example, it takes between 6 – 10 hours of SLOW boiling in the Tila Paka Veedhi process to get an oil ready for use. And it needs to be gently stirred throughout this time – so it is really tough to create but totally worth the effort.

When we do this process correctly, we start by extracting nutrients in 3 separate ways: through Herb deocotions (Kashayas), Herb Cold pressed Juices (Swarasas) and Herb churned pastes (Kalpa). Depending upon the herb you are incorporating into the oil, you should be following one of these 3 extraction methods which depends upon the nature of the herb. Juicy herbs lend themselves well to swarasas. Woody herbs to Kashayas.

Kashaya - one of the 3 bio actives added to an oil in Tila paka veedhi

Once the extraction is done correctly, each of these is added to the oil, and cooked with the oil, slowly stirring the oil mixture throughout the process. This disperses the actives which we have extracted into the oil. This also slowly and gently “nano-ises” the oil, breaking it down to smaller particles.

At the end of the process, the oil we get is highly potent and penetrative. Its texture, color and aroma are completely new and different from the base oil and it is absorbed very QUICKLY by skin and hair, allowing the body to absorb the nutrients we have so painstakingly extracted and incorporated.

Tila paka veedhi is a transformative ayurvedic oil manufacturing process

To sum up:

In this blog post, we discussed the important topic of ayurvedic oiling and explained its importance in maintaining and improving skin and hair health. The Samhitas are emphatic about the many skin, hair and health benefits we can see with frequent and regular oil application.

 

But simply using a cold pressed oil may not be enough / suitable for us. There may be issues of dosha imbalance. Also,  with the rampant use of harsh synthetics in the commercial extraction technique, these oils would be contaminated by these chemicals as well as the additives that are routinely added to vegetable oils.

We saw how we address both these important concerns at Krya . We source only authentic, organically grown cold pressed oils. We then process these oils using herbs in a special ayurvedic process called Tila Paka veedhi. Through this process, we transform the oil making it suitable across prakritis and also make it more potent, penetrative and therefore a much more effective product to help with skin and hair concerns.

If you too would like to experience the holistic benefits of ayurvedic oiling for hair & skin, do explore our wide range here. If you would like help choosing the right Krya oil for your skin / hair type, please call us (0-75500-89090) or write to us.

 

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The Krya mini abhyanga guide : a bridge to the full abhyanga

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The mini abhyanga is an important bridge to inculcating an Abhyanga into your Dinacharya. At Krya, we consistently extol the benefits of the Abhyanga Snana as a very important Dinacharya ( Daily Habit). All the classical Ayurvedic textbooks have clearly defined the wide range of health benefits of a regular Abhyanga-Snana.

The full Abhyanga Snana involves a vigorous head-to-toe oil self-massage followed by Snana with a herb based bath powder.  And the Ayurvedic Acharyas recommend that all healthy adults can have a daily Abhyanga.

The Need for a mini abhyanga

The very thought of a Abhyanga-Snana seems extremely daunting to many of us who have a packed, hassled morning routine. A quick shower with soap and shampoo is the most that many of us can contemplate on a week-day

We have received a large number of message from our customers on how to get over the initial time and scheduling hurdles to incorporate this important habit into their routine – hence this guide which introduces the mini abhyanga.

The Krya mini abhyanga guide

A mini abhyanga should take around 10 minutes, focuses on key body parts that suffer dosha-aggravation and gives a few of the benefits of the full Abhyanga. You just need a Abhyanga skin oil and an ubtan to get started and it is recommended for all healthy adults.

We have designed this mini abhyanga as a bridge to the full , proper Ayurvedic Abhyanga Snana. It will help new comers to get started and experience some of the important health benefits and motivate them to graduate to a full Abhyanga. For the regulars, it will help you to incorporate a mini abhyanga when you have less time or when you are travelling.

The mini abhyanga is not meant to replace the full Abhyanga. You can read about the full Abhyanga here .

In this guide we have given the instructions for both men & women and the different precautions to be taken.

Download the Krya Mini Abhyanga Guide  & do use it to realize the wonderful health benefits of this important Ayurvedic Dinacharya.

 

 

 

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What time to do an Abhyanga?

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

We often speak at Krya about the health giving benefits about doing an Abhyanga. The question we are often asked is what time to do an abhyanga? Should abhyanga time be chosen by prakriti? This post will answer this question.

Choosing the right abhyanga time: body clock

Everything in Ayurveda is calibrated to the body clock which in turn has a strong correlation with the movement of the Sun. This clock varies subtly according to season, and also depends on whether the Sun is in Uttarayana or Adana Kala (travelling northwards or Southwards).

However, given these subtle variations, we can practically set our clock, by the body clock. The body will carry out its repair and re-set functions relentlessly during the day according to schedule.

So all things going well, our liver will proceed to re-calibrate and repair itself around 11 pm which is the second peak Pitta period. The liver is considered an organ of Agni , therefore strongly influenced by Pitta dosha in Ayurveda.

Brahma Muhurtham – second Vata peak, ideal for waking up

Similarly, we are advised to wake up in Brahma Muhurtha which is roughly 90 minutes before Sunrise which is smack in the middle of the second peak Vata period. Due to the increase in Vata in the body at this time, we can wake up without strain (if we have eaten and slept properly the previous way). The body is full of lightness and mobile energy at this time influenced by Peak Vata dosha.

On the other hand, the later we wake up up after Sunrise, we find ourselves in Peak Kapha territory. This makes us hit the snooze button, sleep some more and feel heavy and lazy.

Choosing the right abhyanga time: depends upon what you are trying to correct

By this time it should be obvious to you that depending upon what you are trying to fix, you should choose your abhyanga time. Each dosha peak time lasts around 4 hours. The beginning and ending times of this period are lighter times and times when one dosha is subtly morphing into the next one.

So at 5:55 am for example, Vata is subtly moving into Kapha territory. So BOTH doshas are at their weakest point.

But at 8:30 am, we are right in the middle of Kapha peak time where Kapha is at its strongest best. So if we have a Kapha prakriti, we will have the strongest disinclination to do an abhyanga at this period – we will be tempted to eat something, or sleep in and will try and dismiss the abhyanga to the next day. So the texts advise that we be aware of both this clock and our prakriti when we choose abhyanga times!

Choosing the correct Abhyanga time - The ayurvedic body clock

Difference between Peak & non-Peak Dosha period

Peak Kapha period

Having said the above, there is a difference between the peak Kapha time in the morning (6 am – 10 am) and the evening (6 pm – 10 pm). In the morning, the Kapha time is tempered by the energy of the rising Sun. Therefore, even though this is peak Kapha time, this period is considered nourishing and dhatu building in Ayurveda. This is why we can have a light breakfast or drink a glass of milk at this time. Due to influence of the sun, the digestion will be smooth and food will not sit in the system, unless we over-eat, do not chew well, or do not follow other ayurvedic eating rules, etc.

But the evening Kapha period does not have this advantage. As the Sun has already set, the evening Kapha period is much stronger in its scope. So if we over-eat, eat Kapha aggravating foods, etc, we will produce excess Ama in the body , put on stubborn weight, create a feeling of lassitude and heaviness in the body.

Although each dosha repeats itself twice during 24 hours, only one of these are very strong – we call these peak Dosha times.

Peak Pitta: 10 am – 2 pm (mid morning Pitta)
Peak Vata: 2 am – 6 am – (before sunrise Vata)
Peak Kapha – 6 pm – 10 pm (late evening & night Kapha)

Peak Pitta period

Peak Pitta is the morning Period between 10 am – 2 pm. Hence we are supposed to AVOID stepping out, getting into a strong Pitta flaring argument, over-eating spicy food , tamarind and curd and any sudden shocks to the system (like a bath, swimming, etc) which can interfere with Pitta building up in the system as is natural.

An Abhyanga at this time will NOT have the effects we want as Pitta is already building upto a crescendo in the system due to the Sun. Instead Abhyanga will interfere with Pitta building and douse the Pitta in the system suddenly if done at this time.So we should have bathed long before this phase has started.

The dead centre of this phase is best for digestion. Hence Ayurveda advises to have the largest meal of the day at this time, as the body has enough Pitta to digest food well.

Peak Vata period

Peak Vata period is 2 am – 6 am (early morning). Ayurveda says this is the time when brain activity has re-started so there are rapid eye movements in this stage. This is NOT the time of deep sleep. Instead the body is preparing to wake up having processed everything. So if we GO to sleep at this time (as is common among night shift employees), the body will feel tired, dissipated and restless as we have tried to sleep at the time when it wants to wake up.

Abhyanga to centre aggravated vata

An abhyanga is advised towards the end of this peak Vata period – around 5:30 am, just around sunrise. If we do it in the middle of this period (say around 4 am), there is too much Vata in the system for Abhyanga to re-set. Towards the end, if we catch the body when Vata is winding down and BEFORE Kapha increases, we will be energetic and be able to re-set aggravated Vata dosha.

We have tackled Vata prakriti and Kapha prakriti doing Abhyanga and what time they should choose. So what about Pitta prakriti?

Abhyanga to settle aggravated Pitta

As per the clock, it seems like we should be doing Abhyanga at 9:45 am! But by this time, we are supposed to have bathed and eaten breakfast, drunk our milk , etc. Abhyanga cannot be done unless atleast 2 hours have passed after last meal. This would bring our Abhyanga close to 11 am which is at the time Pitta is building up.

Hence for Pitta prakriti people, we choose the first hour after Sunrise. As the sun climbs, it becomes more and more uncomfortable for Pitta prakriti people. They may not have the resistance to physical work that Kapha prakriti people can have, so they need not stick to doing Abhyanga around Sunrise. But the later the wait, the more uncomfortable it will become for them, so we suggest 1 hour within Sunrise.

So to sum up:

This post described the ayurvedic body clock and explained how each peak and non peak dosha period allows our body time to re-pair and re-set itself. The post also explained the rationale behind choosing the correct abhyanga time for each kind of dosha aggravation.

  • For strong vata aggravation : The right abhyanga time is 30 minutes before Sunrise or just around Sunrise
  • For strong Kapha aggravation: The right abhyanga time is around Sunrise or within 30 minutes of Sunrise
  • For strong Pitta aggravation:  The right abhyanga time is within 1 hour of Sunrise – this can be stretched to slightly later if weather is not too hot

 

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Dry & sensitive skin in babies: an ayurvedic perspective

Dry & sensitive skin in babies - how you can help using herbs and natural oils
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My baby has dry & sensitive skin – how can I help her / him? – this is a question we often receive at Krya.

Dry & Sensitive skin: an alarmingly common problem in babies

One in 5 children in under the age of 5 years in India suffers from eczema , also called atopic dermatitis. It often occurs quite early ,before the baby is two years old. Eczema is different from cradle cap and can occur on any part of the skin, though it often occurs on the cheeks, joints of the arms and the legs. It is characterized by red, dry & sensitive skin that is often itchy and rough. This skin reacts quickly and aggressively to any change in cosmetic products, detergent brand, and sometimes even water hardness.

Dry & Sensitive skin in babies: 1 in 5 children experience this today

Allopathic treatments for dry & sensitive skin: where the cure is worse than the disease

Of grave concern to parents today are the common allopathic treatments given for infant eczema – which are topical steroid creams and in severe cases , oral anti-histamines. Steroid creams act on the skin by shutting down the immune cell in the skin and thereby hoping to reduce the skin inflammation caused by the eczema. This gives a temporary relief to the itching and redness produced in dry & sensitive skin. However, as the effect wears off, which is in 8 hours or so, the itching starts, sometimes with an increased vigor.

Dry & Sensitive skin in abbies: topical creams suggested to control the skin condition may aggravate the situation

However the steroid cream approach is terribly flawed and there is NO evidence that they provide any cure for the disease. On the other hand there is plenty of evidence for a number of alarming side-effects of steroid usage.

Depending on the strength and frequency of steroid usage , these are the side-effects – steroid addiction/dependence, skin thinning and atrophy, breakdown of skin barrier allowing easy entry of pathogens, unusual hair growth on skin, proliferation of visible skin blood cells (so skin appears flushed and red without any cause), discoloration of skin due to poor melanin production etc.

Parents should rightly be very very wary of using steroid creams on their child’s skin.

Factors that determine whether your baby can develop dry & sensitive skin:

Babies are prone to dry & sensitive skin condition through genetic factors – like the parents’s prakriti and the time, season and place of conception . A baby with this genetic pre-disposition develops the actual skin condition due to a number of factors that can trigger the eczema. It is a condition that many times settles down as baby grows up. But we can control and eliminate baby’s discomfort, by preventing a number of modern day factors that contribute to this skin condition.

Dry & sensitive skin in babies: skin condition is influenced by many internal factors

To understand this skin condition better, we must first remember that the human skin is the host to a fantastic micro-ecosystem of microbes called the microbiome. The typical skin microbiome can contain around 1 trillion microorganisms, both helpful and pathogenic. This delicately balanced microbiome is vital to the healthy functioning of the skin – there is a clear difference in the micro-biome of healthy skin and the micro-biome of a person suffering from eczema.

A person builds the skin microbiome ( and the many other microbiomes in the body like the gut flora) over time , starting from the colony inherited from the mother during birth. So c-section babies and formula-fed babies will have a less diverse and different micro-biome from the babies that were born via a normal delivery and were breast-fed exclusively in their first few months. However these are large factors over which many mothers have little control after the event, so what can be done now ?

Building baby’s skin health: steps for concerned parents

This is why we introduced the concept of the skin micro-biome and its vital importance in maintaining healthy skin. The baby’s microbiome is intelligently built by the skin over hundreds of happy accidental acts everyday like contact with the parent , food intake , touching clothes, toys , books, the very air in the home, playing in the sand. So the best approach for a parent is to create an atmosphere that supports the creation of a healthy micro-biome.

Avoid creating an excessively sterile environment

The first step here is to avoid creating an excessively sterile environment – like the usage of a/c for long periods. Another common factor in a new baby household is the excessive use of anti-bacterial wipes and anti-bacterial hand-wash to prevent infections. An excessively sterile environment tends to reward disease causing micro organisms and encourages the growth of super bugs – a case in point is the super bug growth in hospitals across the world.

Dry & Sensitive skin in babies: avoid creating an excessively sterile environment

While the worry is understandable, these chemical sanitizing products are broad-spectrum and kill all bacteria – both good and bad. This creates a hyper-sterile environment, preventing the growth of a healthy microbiome and stunts the baby’s progress in building general immunity by interacting with the environment.

Avoid using bacteria killing and pH altering foaming synthetic soaps and petrochemical cosmetic lotions and creams :

All foaming baby soaps and body washes are harsh on baby’s skin and are broad-spectrum , killing all the bacteria on the skin. They also alter the skin’s pH , disturbing the delicate balance of the microbiome. Read more about what goes into a typical baby soap in our previous post. 

Dry & Sensitive skin in babies: avoid using soaps and synthetic foaming bodywash to cleanse baby's skin

Another common skincare mistake perpetrated by the baby cosmetic brands is the use of mineral oil based lotions and creams, after baby’s bath. This is flawed on 2 levels – one is the use of harmful petrochemical derived ingredients which cannot nourish the skin and also clog the fine channels.

The second error is the application of a oil or cream after the bath. This clogs the pores of skin and does not allow the Srotas of the skin to perform properly.  Hence when baby has dry and sensitive skin, using a petrochemical moisturiser will give skin temporary relief. With the passage of time, heat will build in skin surface and trigger higher itchiness and skin irritation causing baby a lot of discomfort.

Dry & Sensitive skin - clogging moisturisers can aggravate heat in baby's skin

The correct procedure as per Ayurveda is to massage the baby FIRST with a  good herb-infused vegetable oil and then give baby a bath with a herb & grain based cleanser. The pre-bath oil massage keeps skin soft, moisturized and supple.

These intelligent ,rakshogana herbs in the bath powder ( unlike a soap) cleanse baby’s skin gently, do NOT alter the pH, repair minor skin blemishes, kill pathogens and yet allows the healthy bacteria to function -thereby providing the ideal atmosphere for the skin microbiome to develop. You can read more about what goes into the Krya baby ubtans in our previous post here.

Dry & Sensitive skin in babies: intelligent rakshoghna herbs used in baby ubtans cleanse skin intelligently and protect it

The choice of pre-massage oil is very critical for baby’s skin health. Many parents mistakenly believe that pure coconut oil is the right oil to be applied to relieve dry and sensitive skin. Read more about why we DO NOT recommend this practice here. 

The microbiome of a baby is an important subject. we have an ongoing miniseries on the subject, of which the first part can be found here.

For a detailed step-by-step description of an ideal Ayurvedic baby care routine and how to maintain a healthy baby nursery , please read our previous blog post on this subject.  :

To sum up:

There are many internal causes for a baby developing dry & sensitive skin. We will explore some of these in our upcoming posts. However, this sudden rise in skin conditions like eczema, atopic dermatitis and other special skin conditions among babies whose parents have perfectly healthy skin is due to other, external, avoidable factors.

Our microbiome colony is what gives us immunity, good gut health, the ability to digest food and extract nutrients and keeps our skin healthy. It is presented to us as a gift from our maternal line – many of us may have remnants of microbiota which are thousands of years old, passed on from mother to mother, and finally to us.

Unfortunately, this generation old microbiota is in short supply for our babies today – mostly due to the fear driven, poor choices we are making as parents.

We hope this post helped you understand the link between dry & sensitive skin in babies and the effect of some of our cleaning and cosmetic choices. Our upcoming posts will delve more into the establishment of a healthy microbiome in baby and explore more on the subject of sensitive skin condition in baby.

Krya baby products for dry and sensitive skin in Baby:

  • Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes – made from organic or forest collected herbs, grains and lentils . Cleans thoroughly yet is extremely soothing and gentle on baby’s skin. Can be used everyday from the 1st day of baby’s birth.
  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
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How to do an Abhyanga (a self Ayurvedic Oil massage) the right way : Krya explains how you should do a weekly abhyanga for dosha balance and well being

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

Our last few posts on Abhyanga had had people asking us the all important question: “Exactly how should I do an abhyanga for good health?”.

Our post today focuses on this all important question. We write about the right abhyanga massage technique that should be followed, and what parts of the body must be focused on during the abhyanga massage. The abhyanga techniques we are writing about are applicable to teenagers, adult men and women for good health. We will have later posts dedicated to abhyanga especially for infants and babies, post partum women and the elderly.

 1.abhyanga

 

The importance of the Abhyanga for good health:

We have shared many reasons why an abhyanga is considered an essential “Dinacharya” – a practice to be done every single day for god health. Most of us are not able to find the time to do an Abhyanga every day, so the scriptures have suggested a bi-weekly Abhyanga as well, on specific days for men and women.

Abhyangam aacharet nityam sa jaraa shramavaataha 

Drushti prasaada pushti aayu susvapna twak daardhyakrut

Translated as:
Abhyanga should be done by everyone, everyday, especially old aged and tired people. It improves eye sight, nourishes muscles, and improves age (life expectancy) and skin complexion. – Ashtanga Samgraha Sutrasthana
.

 

The Abhyanga is done by massaging your entire body, and if possible your head, with a good quality, well chosen herbal oil after you wake up. We recommend using separate oils for the head and body with different set of herbs for best effect. The massage is done in a brisk and energetic manner, with the objective being of waking up the body, stimulating heat and allowing the herbal oil to penetrate, and then after 15 minutes, washing of the oil with a suitable natural, grain and herb based ubtan.

(We will see the specific steps in a few paragraphs below.)

 

General Health benefits of doing an abhyanga:

Here are some of the health benefits of a weekly / bi-weekly regular Abhyanga which accrue because the practice helps control excess vata and pitta dosha. Please note the use of the word “Accrue” – just like one swallow does not make a summer, one single abhyanga will not give you transformative health (although you will feed mighty good after even a single abhyanga). For true lasting, benefits you need to practice the Abhyanga week after week for atleast 2 – 3 months.

  1. Reduction in muscle fatigue, tiredness, and daily exhaustion
  2. Reduction in insomnia, inability to sleep

2.better sleep

  1. Improvement in digestive ability – reduced wind, reduced feeling of constipation, reduced feeling of incomplete bowel movements
  2. Better mental sharpness and clarity – you can go on longer without feeling tired, fatigued or irritable
  3. Better skin and hair health due to reduction in excess vata dosha – skin health improves almost immediately; hair health improves after a month of regular abhyangas (depending on extent of vata imbalance)

3.better skin better hair

 

The importance of choosing the right products for your Abhyanga:

Ayurveda tells us that when the abhyanga oil is prepared with the right herbs and applied warm with vigorous motion, the herbs in the oil, the temperature of the oil , and the heat generated by the massage help open up the minute pores / srotas in the skin. There is suction like effect as we continue to massage with the herbal oil. The texts tell us that the pitta in the skin helps absorb the properties of the oil, and vayu (air) transports these materials through the srotas into the seven layers of skin into the blood stream.

 7-krya-bhyanga-oil

This absorption effect is applicable not just when we do an abhyanga. It is also seen when we put lepas on our skin like a herbal ubtan, bath powder or any other cream, ointment and lotion.

Ayurveda tells us that skin has 7 layers, so continued massage of the oil in our skin for atleast 5 minutes in each area, carries the medicated oil through the srotas upto the level of the blood in the body and gets absorbed in the blood stream. Once absorbed the medicated oil goes to work in the area where it has been applied, balancing the doshas and removing excess pitta/ vata / kapha dosha.

4.herb transport

This is why it is so important to choose a completely natural set of products for use on the skin, as the property of the skin is to transport whatever is applied on it as nutrients into the bloodstream. Imagine the effect on our body of rubbing and applying synthetics like SLS, SLeS, Petroleum derivatives, and toxics like parabens, etc!

5.avoid toxins

It is also important to note that choosing the right abhyanga oil, can improve the health benefits of your abhyanga manifold.

 

Step by step description of how to do the abhyanga:

  1. Put a ¼ cup of Abhyanga oil in a small wide mouthed cup / vessel. Place this cup on a hot pan or in a small pan of boiling water for 5 minutes, until the Abhyanga oil in your cup is warm. We do not heat Ayurvedic oils directly so that we can retain their nutrient properties
  2. The Abhyanga oil should be comfortably and pleasantly warm – not too hot, and definitely not cold or cool.
  3. Sit or stand on an old towel in a closed room for your abhyanga. Ensure the room is free from draughts, the air conditioner is switched off, and the fan is either switched off or at a very low speed.

6.abhyanga room

  1. Massage oil generously and attentively on your body. We advise that the oil quantity should be such that your hands glide smoothly without any drag on your body.

7.generous qty of oil

 

  1. Each area should be massaged well for atleast 5 minutes using easy, smooth and firm movements. This way a full body abhyanga should take you atleast 20 minutes.
  2. Start with the extremeties: you can start with your head, neck, shoulders and arms, or your toes, ankles, calves and feet. Finish the extremities and move into the centre of your body for your chest, back and stomach.
  3. Ensure you massage your head, hair and scalp with a suitable herb hair oil. This oil too is best warmed gently in a water bath as described for the body abhyanga oil, and then applied.
  4. The general rule of thumb in an abhyanga is to use long up-down strokes on the limbs and circular strokes on the joints. A continuous pulling stroke is used for fingers and toes. Circular strokes are usually done only clock-wise.

 

Special abhyanga techniques for certain body parts:

Legs:

  • Pay special attention to the feet in the Abhyanga.
  • Use a generous quantity of oil and massage the soles of the feet and work on the toes and small bones.

8. Massage for legs

 

Chest:

  • Use open and upward strokes for the chest area

 

Abdomen:

  • Ensure abdomen is relaxed before massaging it.
  • Pay special attention to the nabhi (navel) as it is capable of sending nourishment to the veins and arteries in the body (which originate from here)
  • Use firm downward strokes of the front and back area of the lower abdomen to stimulate proper movement of Apana vayu

 

Arm:

  • Pay special attention to the head of the shoulder and use circular clockwise movements in the abhyanga. Then focus on the front and back of the shoulder blades.
  • Interlock the fingers; work on the palm and all the fingers, especially if you use smart phones and computers frequently.
  • Pay special attention to the wrist and forearm as well, as they often carry vata from repetitive movements like typing, etc.
  • Deeply knead the palm and fingers to release excess vata

9.Massage for arms

 

Massage for the ears:

  • Apply a drop of oil on your ring or little finger and gently massage the oil into the outer ear canal using clockwise circular strokes
  • Massage using circular strokes behind the ear and allow the ear to remove any stiffness and vata accumulation

10. ear massage

 

When NOT to do an abhyanga: some pointers

An abhyanga should not be done by the following groups of people or at the following times:

  1. Pregnant women (An abhyanga tends to release ama from the body, so this is not recommended during pregnancy so as to ensure the growing foetus is not unnecessarily exposed to Ama )
  2. Menstruating women (An abhyanga tends to release ama from the body, so this is not recommended when the body is already tired with the menstrual process)
  3. If you are running a temperature, have a digestive disorder or are acutely ill
  4. If you are extremely tired, have had high sun exposure or a very heavy and depleting exercise practice (for example: immediately after running a marathon)
  5. Immediately after a meal
  6. Do not do an abhyanga over broken skin,
  7. Do not do an abhyanga over swollen painful areas or masses in the body
  8. Do not do an abhyanga if you have acute physical discomfort
  9. Do not do an abhyanga is you have been fasting or except to do some mentally or physically draining activity after the abhyanga

11.when not to do an abhyanga

 

Post Abhyanga care:

It is important to remember that the Abhyanga is a dosha balancing, health giving practice. If your vata dosha or pitta dosha is aggravated, the Abhyanga is going to physically bring down this dosha excess. So the abhyanga can cause some amount of temporary strain on the body during the process of restoring the body to its state of health.
So it is important not to strain your body further on the day of Abhyanga.

 

Ensure you do NOT do the following:

  1. Do not go into the hot sun
    2. Do not eat very spicy or very sour meals
    3. Do not over eat
    4. Do not eat difficult to digest food
    5. Do not eat any large and heavy meal
    6. Do not go for a long drive
    7. Do not do any form of extreme exercise
    8. Do not stay up late
    9. Do not over use your gadgets
    10. Do not eat sweet, mucous producing food
    11. Do NOT take an afternoon nap on Abhyanga day

Do NOT take an afternoon nap on the day of the Abhyanga even if you are severely tempted – one of the organs of releasing excess Pitta dosha is the eyes. Through tears and vapour, the eyes will release excess Pitta dosha through the day – if you close them and go to sleep in the day, this excess Pitta will stay within your body and could damage your body.

 

Here is what you should DO on abhyanga day:

  1. Drink adequate amount of water as and when you get thirsty
  2. Use the toilet as often as the need strikes you – do not suppress your toxin release. All teh ama and excess doshas in your body will be flushed out through sweda (sweat), mutra (urine) and mala (faeces).
  3. Eat on time and eat easy to digest freshly cooked food
  4. Remain calm and seek tranquillity and harmony today
  5. Lead a day of moderation and balance

 

End notes:
We hope this Abhyanga guide has armed with you with information to successfully incorporate the abhyanga into your life. As we have mentioned, the Abhyanga is a valuable tool to bring the body back to a state of balance and we have used it successfully in many seemingly unconnected disorders ranging from dry and flaky skin to post partum hair fall.

 

If you have any queries on how you can incorporate this Dinacharya into your life, please email us.

 

Krya products recommended for you and your family’s abhyanga:

For adults:

Krya Men’s Abhyanga system which consists of

  1. Krya Abhyanga Oil with Vacha & Ashwagandha
  2. Krya Men’s Abhyanga bath powder with Vetiver & Van Tulsi

MEn's abhyanga system

For Babies (age: 0 – 1 years):

 

For Kids & Toddlers (age – 1 +):

  1. Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala & Ashwagandha
  2. Krya Fragrant Kids Ubtan with Gotu Kola & Cassia Flower

12-kids-ubtan

Please note: If you , your family members or your child has skin prone to eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis, please write to us for other product options.

 

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How a regular self oil massage (abhyanga) can help reduce 3 kinds of hairfall – Krya shares insights from Ayurveda

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

Our last post, and many of our past posts and hints have triggered an avalanche of questions on the Abhyanga, and why we so strongly promote it. Modern life itself seems to go against the grain of adopting something that is so traditional and seemingly old fashioned as the abhyanga. So why do we at Krya persist, and continue to talk about the abhyanga?

This is because we have seen the life improving and health giving benefits of a regular abhyanga first hand and have also heard from our customers about the benefits they have experienced with a regular abhyanga.

1.abhyanga

This is also because we have seen that a regular abhyanga can aid and help any hair programme suggested by us, and can help restore hair health much faster and in a more holistic manner. We will look at how an Abhyanga can help 3 different kinds of hairfall in this post, and what are the special precautions to be taken for each kind of abhyanga.

 

  1. An abhyanga to reduce and rectify pitta related hair thinning and premature hair greying

Premature hair greying and hair thinning is considered a sign of aggravated Pitta dosha in the body. Pitta dosha is responsible for mental sharpness, intellect, courage, decisiveness, complexion, blood and hair colour. So when our work or life situations demand a lot of this dosha, or if are exposed to high heat, or if we eat foods that aggravate Pitta dosha, we can push this dosha out of control.

2.pitta dosha

 

To combat hair greying and hair thinning, we advise regular hair oiling with the Krya classic hair oil, or the Krya conditioning hair oil or the Krya harmony hair oil depending upon the hair type. All these 3 oils contain a high amount of Amla that is very useful in controlling excess Pitta.

3. Krya hair oils with amla

 

In addition, a weekly abhyanga done in the first hour after sunrise is extremely useful to control Pitta dosha further. When this is done regularly, you will notice a strong reduction in body temperature to levels where you do not sweat excessively, feel very hot or have any burning sensation. The abhyanga helps reduce Pitta dosha by stimulating the production of sweat and urine which carries out excess heat out of the body. Together with hair oiling, this strongly helps control premature hair greying (if detected early), when it is due to pitta aggravation.

 

Special notes for Abhyanga that is done for hair thinning and premature greying:

  • Ensure that the Abhyanga is done as early as possible, within the first hour of sunrise.

4.abhyanga sunrise

  • This ensures that there is enough time given during the day to allow the release of excess heat from the body.
  • Stay indoors and do not expose yourself to additional heat.
  • Do not eat pitta aggravating foods on this day like red chillies, green chillies, tamarind, curd, mangoes, raw mangoes and kokum. Avoid sour, salty and spicy food on this day.

5. avoid spicy food

 

  • Drink water whenever thirsty to ensure there is adequate urination so that excess heat is released.
  • Do not do any strong, heat increasing exercise on this day like long distance running, intense gymming, etc.
  • Do NOT sleep in the afternoon after abhyanga – this will trap excess heat inside the body and give you a headache, and further worsen premature hair greying. This is also a good practice for any abhyanga.

 

  1. An abhyanga to help hairfall related to PCOD and PCOS

PCOD is a collection of symptoms that includes either a lack of menstruation or irregular cycles, presence of ovarian cysts or other associated symptoms along with these like acne, weight gain, hair loss, male pattern balding and hirsutism.

Vata and kapha imbalance are two prominent reasons for PCOD. Apana vayu is the type of vata that governs all downward flow of material in the body like bowel movement, urine and menstrual flow. In PCOD, the flow of Apana vayu may be improper. Or, the flow of vayu (air) may be extremely strong and aggravated where it could pull kapha dosha from its normal resting place in the chest, so kapha dosha forms into small vesicles that become ovarian cysts. As kapha dosha moves from the chest to the uterine area, it pulls pitta dosha that is usually present in the stomach. So PCOD sees aggravation of all 3 doshas. Kapha and pitta dosha together cause a strong and intensive hair loss that presents as male pattern baldness.

In PCOD related hairfall, we recommend the Krya intense hair system of products that include the Krya Intense hair oil, Krya Intense hair wash and Krya intense hairwash that help with this pitta-kapha hair loss.

7. Krya intense hair system

In addition, we have consistently seen that a regular Abhyanga strongly helps PCOD related hairfall. This is because the regular abhyanga balances and restores Apana vayu, which is the primary culprit behind PCOD. Abhyanga is the best cure for any vata related disorder, so this is why PCOD related hairfall responds so well to a regular abhyanga.

8.pcod abhyanga

Special notes for Abhyanga that is done for hair fall and slow hair growth due to PCOD:

  • Ensure that the Abhyanga is done with warm oil. The Krya abhyanga oil should be heated in a water bath and not directly for best results.
  • Ensure the abhyanga is done in a full closed room without any air draughts and after switching off the fan and the a.c. This ensures that there is no excess vayu aggravation after the abhyanga
  • Eat a light, easy to digest meal on the day of the abhyanga. Avoid kapha and vata stimulating foods like fried foods, sweets, curds, maida based foods, etc.
  • Do light and easy household work on any form of physical work during the day of the abhyanga. This work should not strain you or tire you out, but should engage you and keep you moving and active.

9.light physical work

 

  • Drink warm liquids and eat warm foods on this day. Avoid exposure to the a.c. as much as possible and avoid eating cold or stale foods and drinks: these include processed foods, ice creams, sweets, cold drinks etc.
  • Avoid exposure to cold and drying winds as much as possible on this day: these include using the air conditioner for long periods and driving long distances with the wind blowing in your face.

9.light physical work

 

  1. An abhyanga to help hair fall with hair breakage, split ends and vata aggravated dryness

Hair that is excessively dry suffers from split ends and breaks easily when being combed or brushed with a dry scalp is usually considered as hair suffering from aggravated vata dosha.

Vata dosha is essential in a healthy body to promote mobility, intellect, creativity and speed. Vata is often called the companion dosha as it helps transport and moves the other 2 doshas of pitta and kapha which are immobile without Vata. Vata therefore governs the seat of the muladhara chakra in the body – the kidneys, uterus, and all organs of downward movement (faeces, urine, and blood).

11. vata dosha

 

Therefore any disturbance in Vata always affects all downward movements in the body – limbs, walking, joints, periods, bowel movements, etc.

Cities and people living in cities naturally have an excess of Vata. Vata dosha governs the qualities of wind, space, and actions associated with air like speech and hearing. So when we utilise transport to commute long distances, use our speech and hearing in excess (with most office and creative jobs), use objects that excite the sense organs and involve creativity like a computer, mobile phone, Ipad, we are engaging with our Vata dosha – if this engagement is not balanced and does not give our Vata dosha a chance to calm down, we would have excited it to the point of excess.

12.vata dosha excitement

 

When vata is extremely aggravated in the body, we can see many different symptoms like high mental stress, an inability to sleep properly, constant fatigue, skin darkening and excessively dry skin and dry scalp. When we further do chemical treatments like hair colouring or use synthetic shampoos on this already dry hair and scalp, we aggravate teh condition further.

 

For vata aggravated hair, we generally advise frequent oiling with the Krya conditioning hair oil, and in the case of excessive mental stress or high use of electronic devices, we suggest using the Krya harmony hair oil. Both oils are designed to treat vata type hair and with regular use bring down extreme dryness, nourish the hair and reduce the occurrence of hair breakage and split ends.

13. Krya harmony hair oil

It is extremely beneficial to add a frequent abhyanga to treat this dryness even more thoroughly. As we have mentioned above, the skin is a primary seat of vata dosha, so when we massage the skin with a warm herbal oil, we are instantly treating aggravated vata dosha and are bringing it down to more harmonious levels.

 

The addition of an abhyanga helps treat hair and scalp dryness in a much quicker and much more wholesome manner.  It also corrects any vata aggravation across the rest of the body and helps induce restful sleep and calms the entire body down.

14.abhaynga vata 

Special notes for Abhyanga that is done for hair fall due to dryness, hair breakage and excessive split ends:

  • Ensure that the Abhyanga is done with warm oil. The Krya abhyanga oil should be heated in a water bath and not directly for best results.

15. warm oil

  • Ensure the abhyanga is done in a full closed room without any air draughts and after switching off the fan and the a.c. This ensures that there is no excess vayu aggravation after the abhyanga
  • Eat a light, easy to digest meal on the day of the abhyanga. Avoid vata stimulating foods like potatoes, millets, biscuits, and any dry, hard and crisp / brittle foods. .
  • Ensure you include warm melted ghee in all meals on this day (atleast 1 teaspoon per meal)
  • Reduce electronic stimulation strongly this day as much as possible. Set a device cut off for yourself this day.
  • Drink warm liquids and eat warm foods on this day. Avoid eating cold or stale foods and drinks: these include processed foods, ice creams, sweets, cold drinks etc.

16.warm liquids

 

  • Limit exposure to wind and coldness as much as possible. If AC is unavoidable, dress warm to ensure your body does not go dry again.
  • Eat your meals on time and ensure you sleep two hours after dinner, preferably before 10:30 pm on this day. This will ensure vata dosha settles down and you get good restful sleep

 

To conclude:

In this post, we have described only 3 types of hairfall that can be helped greatly by having an abhyanga. However, in our experience, an abhyanga helps many many other conditions including depression, post partum mothers, people with high mental stress, sports people to reduce their rate of injuries, babies and children to improve immunity and aid growth and to nourish and vitalise older people with high fatigue and tiredness.

17.abhaynga - to sum up

 

An abhyanga is an extremely important Dinacharya, and in the true Ayurvedic tradition helps extend both ayu (life) and Ayush (health).  We hope, that this through this post, we have been able to convey to you some of the benefits of this Dinacharya. We also hope you are inspired to adopt this Dinacharya and enjoy the benefits for yourself.


Krya products recommended for you and your family’s abhyanga:

For adults:

5. womens abhyanga system

MEn's abhyanga system

 

For Babies (age: 0 – 1 years):

11-baby-ubtan

 

For Kids & Toddlers (age – 1 +):

  1. Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala & Ashwagandha
  2. Krya Fragrant Kids Ubtan with Gotu Kola & Cassia Flower

12-kids-ubtan

Please note: If you , your family members or your child has skin prone to eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis, please write to us for other product options.

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Dos and Don’ts for the perfect Ayurvedic bath for good health, great skin and well being. Krya shares some insights on the Ayurvedic Snana (bath)

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Reading Time: 11 minutes

Today is the 8th day of Chaitra Navratri and it is dedicated to Goddess Maha Gauri (Gauri means white). Goddess Maha Gauri is depicted as beautiful with a shining, white-gold complexion. She is dressed in white and holds a lotus, a trident and a small drum in three hands while the fourth hand blesses her devotees. She rides a white bull and is dressed completely in white.

1. Maha gauri

In mythology, Goddess Maha Gauri is said to relieve all the sufferings of her devotees and fulfil all their deepest desires.

 

How Goddess Maha Gauri came to be:

Goddess Parvati is also referred to as “Aparna” or the Lady of the terrible penance in Hindu mythology. The story goes that she tried to attract God Shiva’s attention through her beauty and service to him. She was assisted by Lord Kamadeva and his wife Rati in the endeavour. When Lord Shiva felt his concentration waning and found that he was not paying attention to his penance and was instead disturbed by thoughts of the Goddess Parvati, he understood that Kamadeva was at play.

So Lord Shiva opened his third eye and incinerated Lord Kamadeva for distracting him from his penance.

Now Goddess Parvati decided to throw all her faith behind intense penance and focus. She did tapas for thousands of mortal years standing neck deep in cold water, standing inside a fire and did her penance through storms, hail, floods, droughts and intense heat. She was so lost in her penance that years went by and anthills and forests grew around her. She was so devoted to her penance that she was referred to as “Aparna”, the Lady of the terrible penance.

2. Aparna

Finally, moved by her severe penance, Lord Shiva appeared to Goddess Parvati and promised to  marry her.

 

The Divine Abhyanga and Bath of Goddess Parvati

After the Goddess’ long and terrible penance where she had braved the elements, her entire body was covered with dust, soil, earth and leaves of the trees and mud from the anthills that surrounded her. Her body was covered in a thick, dark, muddy layer.

It was said that Lord Shiva himself requested Ganga sitting on his head to appear and wash away the dirt, soil and mud from the Goddess’ body. It was said that this divine, purifying bath transformed “Aparna” to “Maha Gauri”.

3. ganga purifying

 

Snana (Daily Morning Bath) is a Nithyakarma:

Our cultural myths, allegories and stories and rituals help us go deeper and deeper into the significance of the things we do for ourselves and for our families. Ayurveda prescribes several “Nithyakarmas”. These are spiritual and sacred acts that are to be done “Nithya” or everyday by us for health, well being and prosperity.

Living a life of temperance and good conduct is a Nithyakarma, as is the act of bathing every single day within the first few hours of sunrise.

4. morning snana

The morning bath is specific to India and tropical counties and forms a part of our prescribed Nithyakarma. This bath is considered a sacred and inviolable start to the day and is considered both spiritually and physically purifying and cleansing to the body. The daily Snana is such an essential Nithyakarma that we are traditionally not supposed to eat or drink anything, cook, offer prayers , do yoga, or start our office work before completing the Snana.

 

The benefits of the Daily morning bath:

“Bathing is purifying, life promoting, a destroyer of fatigue, physically removes sweat and dirt, is resuscitative and a promoter of ojas or divine energy” :  Charaka Samhita – Sutrasthana shloka on Dinacharya

The Ayurvedic texts recommend eating with the sun. So generally the last meal of the day is best had as close to sunset as possible – in practice we recommend eating before 8:30 pm. A gap of 2 hours is advised post eating to allow the body to complete digestion. So if we go to sleep by 10:30 after completing our last meal by 8 pm, our body would have completed digestion before we sleep.

5. eating close to sunset

As we sleep, our body goes into a process of repair and renewal. Every organ system has a specific time when it is renewed. This time is fixed and is not changed. The most important thing to understand here is the digestion takes precedence over repair and renewal. So if you eat late, you are taking away an organ system’s chance to repair and renew itself.

Waste / Mala is the by product of all digestion, repair and regeneration in the body. Every single organ system sheds excess, and removes Mala from the body. Every single day cells die and are born in the body. A part of Mala is also the debris of these dead cells which must all be transported out of the body for good health.

 

Health issues and dis-ease when Mala is not periodically removed from the body:

Ayurveda traces the genesis of most diseases to the accumulation of Mala in the body. Mala can accumulate as a by product of eating, because of poor sleep and because of poor habits.

When we eat food that is not suitable to our prakriti, or we eat too late, or we eat in quantities that are not suitable to us, we dampen the Agni in our body. As a result, our body is not able to digest our food, and extract nutrients from it and remove Mala. So we are left feeling weak, we lose or gain weight, our appearance is poor, and our skin accumulates impurities which take the form of acne, pimples, or other skin issues.

6. mala accumulation

When we sleep at improper times, or we sleep too late, or at the wrong time or for too long, we impair the process of repair, regeneration and renewal in our body. So the organ systems in our body are carrying excess toxins, debris or dead cells. They may be long due for a “tune up” and have not been given the opportunity to do so because we have not slept. As a result, our body functions poorly at a sub optimal level.

 

Snana – the Ayurvedic tool to remove Mala from Skin

We have spoken about the difference between an Ayurvedic Snana and a synthetic soap bath before.

The Ayurvedic texts list out the large and small orifices in the body in great detail and also enumerate the mala (impurities) that accumulate as a part of normal wear and tear from the dhatus in these orifices. Moisture of the tongue, eyes, mouth, excretions of the eyes, ears tongue, teeth, axilla, genitals, pimples, greasiness of facial skin, sweda (sweat) , sebum secretions of kesha (hair) are all mala from the dhatus (tissues).

7. sweda

 

If this mala is not removed periodically, especially in seasons where the mala can increase, the body loses its health and appearance of well being. It is only by thorough cleaning these minute pores, and removing debris and dead cells that could clog these channels, can the body be truly clean.

The Mala or toxins from many organ systems find their way to our Skin. From the skin, they are released outside through the outpouring of Sweda or sweat. Sweda contains Mala from the body in the form of oil, debris, dead cells, vapour or gases and debris of micro flora or the small organisms that live on us.

This is generated everyday as we sleep through the normal process of cell and organ system repair and regeneration.

To cleanse this Mala from the Skin, the Ayurvedic texts recommend using a specific combination of lentils, grains and specific herbs that suit each kind of prakriti. The action of this cleansing product is extremely subtle – unlike a synthetic soap, the Ayurvedic Snana product opens up the pores of the skin, encouraging the removal of Mala through the srotas of the skin. The most minute pores of the skin are gently encouraged to open up and this opening action helps suck out Mala which adheres to the Ayurvedic ubtan as it cleanses the skin. Finally when the skin is rinsed with water, the entire body is left feeling refreshed, lighter, deep cleansed and ready for the new day.

 8.ayurvedic cleanser

 

This sounds great – what is wrong with having an evening Snana? Can I not get this cleansing then?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having an additional evening Snana. In fact the Vedic texts, the “Grihya Sutras” carry more than 79 references to bathing ritual and stipulate a schedule of 3 baths a day, along with ritualized washing.

However, the morning Snana is a sacred Nithyakarma. It performs the extremely important task of cleansing the body of the Malas that are accumulated during sleeping. This Mala load is high on the body during periods of stress, high mental and physical activity, and during times of challenges and growth. If you have eaten on time and slept on time and have enjoyed a good quality of sleep, then your body would have aggressively used your sleep time to repair itself. So when you wake up in the body, all the debris from this cleansing will be present on your skin.

9.morning snana

So by removing this Mala in the morning, you are setting yourself up for a good day ahead. In contrast, if this Mala is not removed, it will mean that your body will have to carry this load much longer impacting your whole day.

 

OK this is fine during the week. But I wake up at noon during weekends after staying up late at night. Can I have my bath just before lunch on weekends alone?

Your body does not recognise the difference between weekdays and weekends. Repair, and renewal and all the rules of health apply on Sundays and Mondays. If you want health, then you need to stick to the same schedule no matter the day of the week or whether you are on holiday.

 

I live abroad. Here people prefer to have a bath at night before sleeping and not in the morning. What should I do?

Acharya Vagbhatta says that no matter where you live, the herbs of your native place and the practices of your native place work best for you. So, doing your Nithyakarma no matter where you live, makes sense.

Besides, what we have said about Mala removal and cleansing the body is the same whether you live in Chennai or in California. The body clock is the same and the time for renewal and repair is the same.

A bath signals a beginning of a particular phase in the day and not the end. So it makes sense to bathe at the beginning of the day or the beginning of the evening, not at the end. Plus as per Ayurveda a bath is energizing and refreshing and not soothing and sleep inducing, so if you want to sleep well, you should have eaten well, at the right time and gone to sleep at the right time.

10.ayurvedic snana

 

I live abroad. The local midwife and Doctor advised that I have a bath after lunch and that I give my infant a bath after lunch just before his nap. Is this okay?

In 2 words: ABSOLUTELY NOT. The shock of water on the body after eating , quells and dampens Agni , completely destroying it. Without Agni to digest the food, the food sits and ferments in your / baby’s gut and becomes poisonous and toxic. The food stays longer in the body, is not assimilated and generates a lot of Mala.

If this practice becomes a habit, the body will become weak, bloated, and listless and fall prey to disease.

11. agni after bath

On the other hand, bathing as per your Nithyakarma in the morning, promotes appetite and enhances digestive fire. Remember there should be a gap of atleast 30 – 45 minutes between a bath and eating and bathing should be done BEFORE eating.

 

Should I bathe as soon as I get up in the morning?

As the Snana physically wakes up the body, the Ayurvedic texts advise that you give the body atleast 30 – 45 minutes post waking up to have a bath. The texts advice sitting in quiet contemplation in the first 30 – 45 minutes of the day and this time is suggested to be spent in isolation and in reflection. This slowly wakes up the body and prepares it for a day of activity. A bath before this, is said to send the body into a state of shock.

12. bathing shock

Ideally we should be waking up at dawn or just before dawn, and this time is considered extremely spiritually charged.

So once we have visited the restroom after waking up, and sat in quiet contemplation, our body is now ready for the Snana and to proceed to the next phase of the day.

 

To sum up:

A synthetic soap only cleanses superficially and uses strong artificial fragrance that lull you into feeling that you are much cleaner than you actually are. The Ayurvedic Snana, on the other hand, is an excellent daily rejuvenative, detoxifying and cleansing and purificatory ritual that is best done in the morning at a quiet time. When done with the right Ayurvedic lentils, grains and herbs, it thoroughly cleanses and purifies the entire body without stripping the skin of its essential oils.

Here are your Snana options from Krya:

Bodywashes for adults: meant to replace soap; can be used even if you have not oiled your skin

Krya moisture plus range with yashtimadhu

Bodywash for Babies and Children:

Krya kids ubtan compressed for blog 2

 

Ubtans: Meant post abhyanga after body has been massaged well with oil

11-baby-ubtan

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