Pink Predators: Common carcinogens in your home

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

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

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

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

The dreaded “C” word:

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

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

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

The Pink Ribbon movement

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

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

Pink marketing for Breast cancer awareness

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

1Pinkmarketing.jpg

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

But one critical issue continues to trouble the general public.

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

Pink washing?

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

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

The Krya series on toxics

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

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

The Pink Predators

 Parabens : common possible carcinogen

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

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

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

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

3deo caution

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

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

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

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

Phthalates :

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

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

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

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

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

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

2Nail paints caution

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

Endocrine-disrupter effect of Phthalates

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

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

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

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

Regulations around Phthalates:

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

5childrens toys post

Phthalates in the Cauvery river:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4synthetic dishwash

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

Synergistic effect of Nonyl Phenol:

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

Current regulations around Nonyl Phenol:

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

In India this is not yet regulated.

Products that contain Nonyl Phenol & Nonyl Phenol Ethoxylate:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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6 ayurvedic strategies that help reduce Digital Addiction

are you a digital addict?
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Reading Time: 13 minutes

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

What am I talking about? A Digital Detox program.

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

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

are you suffering from digital addiction?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digital Addiction and Vata dosha:

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

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

The medium and very nature of social media excites vata dosha

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

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

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

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

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

Over using the ears can lead to vata aggravation

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

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

Over stimulation and use of ears aggravates vata and impairs hearing

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

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

Why Digital Addiction can derange Vata dosha

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

Social media is primed to aggravate vata dosha

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

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

Deranged vata dosha leads to chaos

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

6 Strategies from Ayurveda to reduce Digital Addiction :

Fixed Electronic cut off every day:

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

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

What do we mean by an electronic cut off?

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Shavasana:

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

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

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

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

Daily Shavasana practice helps calm and still the mind

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

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

Complete Sensory deprivation:

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

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

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

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

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

The Ultimate Sensory deprivation treatment – Kutir Praveshika method

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

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

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

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

Night Sky Gazing:

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

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

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

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

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

Pada abhyanga:

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

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

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

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

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

Hair Oiling:

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

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

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

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

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

To sum up:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Reduce Eye Strain & naturally nourish the eyes with Ayurveda

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Reading Time: 13 minutes

Due to the high use of electronic devices, and excessive eye engagement, many of us commonly face eye strain & eye fatigue.  We have recently been receiving a lot of queries on tackling eye fatigue and improving vision through Ayurveda. So we have re-written and expanded one of our earlier posts on this subject. This post will explore how you can easily & visibly reduce eye fatigue & eye strain with Ayurveda .

Do you have eye strain?

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

Eye strain is a real and wide-spread problem today, which affects both children and adults. For several hours every day, we stare at electronic screens across phones, tablet, TV and computers.

As we continually use our eyes for subtle / sookshma purposes, we strain the  minute eye muscles and do not allow them a chance to recover or relax. So we are all affected with eye strain to varying degrees.

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

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

Causes for Eye Strain as per Ayurveda :

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

Imbalance of hot and cold ( Ushnabhitaptasya) leading to eye strain

When the body heat is very high, there is a vasodilation of blood vessels to help excess heat to be transmitted outside. When this hot body steps into a cold environment, the dilated vessels suddenly have to constrict to ensure heat loss is minimal.

When we constantly keep having this change in temperature, we over-work all blood vessels, including the ones in the eyes, leading to eye redness, weak muscles and poor circulation.

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

An example of Ushnabhitaptasya causing eye strain:

Many of us use our smartphones to read / chat whilst in our cars. The environment is usually an airconditioned one. Also, Indian roads are NOT smooth, so we travel in jerky conditions with sudden braking and stops – the eye muscle has to work harder in such a jerky / moving environment.

So apart from the strain of reading from a small device, we are also over-working the eye muscle by making it focus on a small screen in jerky, non-smooth motion.

All of this eye work is done in the cold confines of our car air conditioner, so we unknowingly causing Ushnabhitaptasya.

Vision distortion due to over-reliance on one kind of eye work – Doorekshanat :

All of us are subject to the complications of Dorrekshanat, as we have all transitioned to using our eyes for only one kind of work.

Increasingly, as we all become knowledge workers, we no longer use our eyes and muscles for doing work that involves eye work over the long distance or even over the medium distance. All work that involves using our hands to make large movements – sewing, cutting, cooking, pottery, painting, other forms of art involves both fine and moderate eye work.

Any form of outdoor physical work like working in the fields, cleaning, sweeping, walking to fill water, etc involves both medium and long distance eye work.

Instead, most of us who work in office environments work only using our laptops, computers and phones. So we substitute the wide range of work our eye is supposed to do, with a large amount of fine work or sookshma work.

This is referred to as “Doorekshanat” in Ayurveda – interestingly the Samhitas say that too much of any one kind of eye work – long distance eye work or short / fine distance eye work strains the eyes. This distorts the vision, over accustoming the eye muscle to only one kind of work.

In ancient times, the samhitas tell us that jewellers and those who worked with very fine and intricate crafts like small paintings and canvases, etc were subject to Doorekshanat.

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

Krodha, Shoka & Bhaya (Anger, Grief and Fear) leading to eye strain

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

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

Anyone who has undergone loss, depression or grief will know that the eyes feel wrung over after a bout of weeping. When this continues for a long time, it tends to affect eye health and vision quality.

A special note on PMS

Many women are prone to pre menstrual tension / depression. This is aggravated when we follow an improper diet which is high in Pitta and Vata stimulating foods. Not only can such foods increase bloating and discomfort, they can also trigger strong PMS symptoms like temper tantrums, fits of weeping, mood swings, etc. There is a lot of advertising and media driven acceptance of PMS and women are asked to “indulge” themselves during this time.

The acceptance of and acknowledgement of PMS is in itself a good thing. But unfortunately, this acceptance comes with encouraging unhealthy food habits which will further trigger PMS. For example: chocolates, wine, fried foods etc are common cravings during PMS and during periods. Chocolates and wine excite Pitta dosha. Fried foods excite Pitta and vata dosha.

If your diet consists of such foods before and during your periods, you will regularly notice that your temper is out of control and you have depressive mood swings leading to high amount of weeping, and eye strain due to binge watching television, etc. This should be observed and dealt with.

Ayurveda says that menstruating women should be cheerful and in good temper, eating healthy pathya food, and must avoid mental and physical strain at all cost. This is not just good for eye health but promotes overall feminine health and well being.

Vega vinigraha (suppression of natural urges) leading to eye strain :

In many office goers, we observe suppression of urges like urination – this is especially common among women. This leads to disturbance in Apana vayu and aggravates vata dosha throughout the body when it is carried out for a long time.

The urge to sleep (nidra) and the urge to cry (Ashru) are both urges which should not be suppressed as per Ayurveda. Working well beyond our bed time, suppression strong emotional responses, and not blinking often to help the production of tears to moisten the eyes, worsen the health of our eyes and increase eye strain.

Viruddha Ahara (incompatible food) :

Ushna, Lavana and Amla ahara (salty, spicy and sour tastes) aggravate eye strain because these  3 tastes aggravate Pitta dosha. When Pitta dosha is aggravated in the body, the amount of Agni energy in the eye increases – this weakens the accompanying muscles in the eye , causing higher eye strain and eye watering.

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

We receive a lot of enquiries from stressed out, type A individuals who write to ask seeing help for premature greying and hair thinning. On investigation, we find a predominance of Pitta aggravating foods being eaten by such people like curd, spicy food, chinese food, etc.

When such Pitta aggravating foods are eaten in a time of high stress, it further compounds the body’s Pitta dosha. This leads to hair greying, hair thinning, acidity, digestive issues, inability to relax / sleep and also affects eye health and well being.

Ratri Jagarati – (Night vigil) / Insomnnia or delayed sleep  :

In the texts, the Acharyas mention that certain occupations which require Night vigil (Ratri jagrati) are more prone to eye strain like soldiers, guards, etc.

Today, Ratri Jagrati has become a common feature in many urban homes. Due to late night working, late dinners, and late television watching, we are all prone to eye strain due to use of the eyes at the wrong time.

 

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

 

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

If you have nodded yes to any of the points mentioned above like Ratri Jagriti, Doorekshanat , Virruddha ahara, etc, you must first start by correcting some of these behaviors. In addition, here are some Ayurvedic recommendations on how we can reduce / prevent eye fatigue below.

Reduce Eye Strain with Ayurveda in these easy ways:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

When in your car, avoid working your eyes. Use this time to gaze out of the window, instead and engage in long distance eye work instead. Keep the temperature at a comfortable degree. If not, lightly wrap yourself using a jacket / shawl in your car.

Alternate between “Sookshma” and far vision:

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

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

If you work in an air conditioned environment, it is possible that your neck muscles and shoulders are also strained from hunching over your laptop.  A short walk around the block every 2 hours will help stretch out these muscles and also give your eyes a rest.

Most of us also have strained our blink reflex with excessive screen use. Remember to  gently blink your eyes every 4 – 5 minutes or so to ensure your eyes do not go dry. Shifting your eye range also helps in this.

Do not suppress natural urges:

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

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

This is very common among women who are embarrassed to use the washroom due to public scorn / ridicule. This is also a problem when we are in public places and are afraid of unclean washrooms. Again: the possibility of an infection form an unclean washroom is less of a health issue compared to not using the washroom at all.

So, JUST GO! Please encourage your children to listen to their natural urges and not “learn the bad habit of suppression”.

Reduce screen glare and over-bright light :

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

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

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

 

Re-set aggravated pitta and vata through regular abhyanga:

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

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

Practice regular Pada abhyanga to improve eye strength and vision clarity:

Pada abhyanga is a gem of a dinacharya that is a gift from Ayurveda. When regularly done, Pada abhyanga deepens sleep, improves energy levels the next day, removes excessive fatigue and strain stored in the legs, balances vata dosha, and most importantly , gives “drishti prasadaka” or vision clarity.

A regular pada abhyanga helps reduce eye strain by nourishing the eyes, clarifying vision

This Drishti prasadaka benefit of Pada abhyanga can be explained using references from various Ayurvedic texts. Bhela Samhita tells us that one important centre of Alochaka Pitta is the feet. Alochaka Pitta is a sub division of Pitta dosha that is responsible for good vision. Alochaka Pitta’s primary centre is the Liver – so eating Pitta aggravating food over stimulates Alochaka Pitta which leads to eye degeneration.

But by doing a regular Pada abhyanga AND adopting a Pitta balancing diet, we can temper the Alochaka Pitta and help strengthen the eye.

Acharya Vagbhatta tells us that 2 important Siras (veins / circulatory vessels) of the eye end in the feet. Through the process of pada abhyanga using special herbs and oils, we can detoxify and strengthen these 2 Siras, thus helping nourish the eyes.

 

Regulating aggravated Pitta dosha through Ahara Niyama (diet + food regulation) :

Regulating Pitta dosha helps regulate Pitta aggravation in the eye.

At Krya, we advise various means of regulating Pitta through Ahara. This can be read in detail in some of our earlier posts on this.

In short, the addition of madhura and ojas building dravyas like milk and ghee to the diet, using a careful selection of spoces that warm and aid digestion but do not irritate the body (pepper, cumin and not red and green chillies), help balance aggravated Pitta. To ensure Pitta does not flare up, we advise following ahara niyama (meal regulations) like  eating meals on time. Delayed and untimely meals are a strong aggravator of both Pitta and vata dosha.

Regulating aggravated Pitta through right food is critical for eye health

Adding cooling grains and vegetables like split mung, aged rice, and gourds (ash gourd, ridge gourd, bottle gourd, snake gourd, parwal) are also very useful help in pitta regulation.

Night gazing:

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

Night sky gazing is an excellent practice to reduce stress and improve vision and well being

Night sky  gazing is an excellent practice to counter feelings of depression, high stress, inability to switch off and aggravated Pitta-vata dosha.  At Krya, we have seen that consumers with moderate depression, anxiety and stress related hairfall, benefit greatly from this practice. It helps calm down the brain and visibly brings down stress.

Electronic cut off time:

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

Many of us use broadband and wi-fi at home to surf the net / watch television, etc. We often forget to switch off this wi-fi signal at night. Many of us also sleep with our cell phones in the bedroom  near our heads.

Radiation fatigue can excite vata in the body

These practices increase the amount of radiation our body absorbs over time. Research tells us that this radiation exposure causes deep seated fatigue and vibratory responses in the body. Minute nerve cells are excited by these radiation based energies and vibrate in response to them causing depletion of ojas and fatigue in the body. So from both eye health and overall well being, an electronic and radiation cut off is extremely beneficial for the family.

Application of cooling substances like Ayurvedic Kajal to the eyes:

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

Frequent eye washing using pure, clean water

Eye washing is an approved Ayurvedic practice to clarify the eyes, remove toxins and balance aggravated Pitta.. We will do a more detailed post on this later on the Krya blog.

Eye washing is recommended using pure clean water, or herb infused water in Ayurveda in the following times: on waking up, after meals. Each of these has a slightly different effect on the eyes, which we will read about in a later post.

For the best eye cleansing, we are asked to hold clean, cool and pure water in our mouths while washing the eyes. Once you have finished washing the eyes, the water held in  the mouth can be discarded.

A Summary: ayurvedic practices to strengthen vision naturally and reduce eye strain

Infographic on simple ways to strengthen vision naturally

To conclude:

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

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

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

Krya Hair Oils to reduce Eye fatigue :

  • For very high Pitta aggravation – (premature greying, scalp dryness due to high heat, and hair thinning) – choose the Krya Vibrant hair colour hair oil . This hair oil is very potent. If you experience high premature greying, hair thinning, have anger management issues, are a type A personality and have high stress (and other such signs of classic pitta prakriti / pitta agravation), please choose this oil.
  • For moderate – high Pitta aggravation – (premature greying, scalp dryness due to high heat, and hair thinning) – choose the Krya Classic hair oil
    • Note : If in doubt whether your Pitta aggravation is moderate or severe, start with the Krya Classic hair oil . If after a month you do not see good progress, crank it up a notch with the Krya vibrant hair oil
  • For Vata aggravation due to high stress (difficult work atmosphere, frequent air travel / travel, long commute, missed / skipped meals, difficulty sleeping, long working hours AND dry and falling hair ) – chose the Krya harmony hair oil

Krya Abhyanga Oils for Pada Abhyanga :

  • Classic Abhyanga Oil – can be used by everyone in the family. Balances all 3 doshas
  • Intense Abhyanga Oil – Can be used by people with high vata aggravation, those with very high physical activity, Post partum women                                       
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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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Eating for Good Health – An Ayurvedic Perspective : Part 1

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Reading Time: 11 minutes

I am often asked what Ayurveda prescribes as a healthy diet. I hesitate to write down a fixed diet plan for many reasons: there are many diet fads these days which have become accepted as healthy diets (for example the vegan diet, keto diet, millets diet, etc). Most of this is contrarian to the principles espoused in the texts.

1. universally healthy

The second is that Ayurveda is the ultimate customised medicine. The texts opine that health, regimen and medicine should all be customised to the individual, and what works for one individual is especially unique to him / her. Therefore, what works for you is a customised blend of your food culture, what you are used to your prakriti, and where you live.

2. customised approach
The third is a very interesting reason: Ayurveda recognises the importance of “patterns and habits” in the way we eat, behave and live. The Acharyas tell us that even a great diet. Or a set of behaviours considered universally healthy cannot be suddenly introduced to the system, as the system, which has reached a sense of balance with whatever it is doing, will rebel in shock. So for someone who has persisted on a diet of fried bacon, bread and no vegetables, cannot be suddenly asked to substitute fish for fried bacon and introduced to a whole lot of vegetables. The Acharyas tell us that for the system that has been used to food which we consider unhealthy will react to healthy food (if introduced suddenly) like it would react to poison!

3. gradual is better

Obviously our notion of what is healthy food ad not healthy food will have to vary by region, season and availability of food. So if you live in a dry, hot desert I cannot tell you to eat broccoli all the time, despite the fact that it is considered a nutritional superfood.

 

So rather than speak about specific foods to eat, we focus our posts on how to eat. We saw a post this week on eight Ayurvedic eating techniques, and how chewing food well, eating on time, eating when hungry, etc are timeless principles of healthy living. We saw how even the right foods eaten wrongly can cause distress to the body.

 

Speaking further on foods to eat, here is our 2 part series on Ayurvedic eating for good health. Again, these posts are in the form of eating principles, and cover aspects of eating like ethical diets (vegan / vegetarian), eating timings etc. These are atleast as important as what you eat, so do read on.

 

As with all new information, please read this with an open mind. The science of Ayurveda has evolved over thousands of years and is extremely sophisticated in its understanding of both food and its effect on human beings. Many of the things I have written down may seem contrarian to what we believe in now – but the system has survived and thrived for thousands of years

  1. Timing is everything (in health, food & life)

The time of eating is at least as important as what you eat and depending upon your body’s condition, it is sometimes more important than what you eat.

Every organ system is said to have a particular time to cleanse itself and do necessary repairs. For example, the liver, the seat of pitta in our body, cleanses itself around midnight. Cleansing of organ systems occurs ONLY after digestion is through, nutrients have been extracted and toxins have been removed from the body. So if you are eating dinner at 11 pm, your organ systems will NOT cleanse themselves, and will wait until the next available time slot to do so. Which means your body will feel dull and sluggish the next morning (especially if you are consistently eating late).

This does not mean you can get away with eating junk food like a burger everyday at 7 pm for dinner. Do read point 2.

This is corroborated by many systems of traditional medicine. TCM opines that the window to eat breakfast is between 7 am – 9 am. When you consistently eat breakfast after this window, your chi energy or stomach fire energy gets weak and dampened. This in TCM is said to lead to digestive disorders, high production of gas in the system and an inability to digest foods leading to a high accumulation of toxins.

4.damp agni

 

  1. Ideal food is local, freshly cooked, lightly spiced and eaten warm. No spoiled food should be eaten. And no food should be stored, re-heated and eaten.

Ayurveda frowns upon the wonders of modern food preservation. In fact, the Charaka Samhita specifically says that for good health one should not eat too much of pickles, traditional papads or even traditionally salted and preserved vegetables (like vadagam and vathal).These references are to HOME MADE preserved vegetables, lentils and fruits. So this definitely rules OUT eating preserved, commercially processed foods like biscuits, sauces, etc which have a shelf life of 1 year or more (so most of the time we are eating stuff that has been made at-least 6 months ago in a factory and would contain several harmful chemical preservatives).
5. processed food
Local in Ayurveda means something that not only grows naturally within 100 miles of where you live. It also means eating foods you and your digestive system are accustomed to. So if you have grown up eating rice, rice will suit your system the most. Not quinoa. And not even millets. Any new food must be slowly introduced to your digestive system. (This does not take away from your responsibility of sourcing high quality food. Most of us grew up eating untainted, pesticide-free food – so this naturally means you should source the same now. And not just buy the first available pesticide sprayed pack of rice you find in the supermarket).

6. local food
The point about spoiled food is an interesting nuance and goes to our food culture. For example cheese eating is not a practice that is universal to many parts of India. It is usually common only in cold and hilly regions. In hot and humid regions, fermenting a dairy based food will quickly lead to rot, mildew and fungus. However the same food is very well preserved in a cold, hilly region.

Cheese, especially aged cheese, tends to be very salty, sharp and concentrated. In Ayurveda, this has all the makings of a pitta food group. So it makes sense to eat this food, if it is eaten traditionally, in a cold, hilly region where the atmosphere is low in pitta dosha. The pitta in the food is welcome to stimulate digestion.

7.cheese

However in a hot, humid city like Chennai or Hyderabad, where the atmosphere is full of Pitta, the pitta dosha from the cheese would over stimulate pitta dosha. Which is probably why in practice, it does not form a part of traditional food.

If you live in the city of your childhood, it is probably best to stick to your traditional food practice. If you live in a foreign city, it is still better to stock to your traditional food unless the weather and climate is dramatically different from what you are used to. If you are living in an utterly foreign land, it makes sense to slowly acclimatise and add foods and eating practices local to where you live, while continuing to eat traditionally most of the time.

 

  1. An ideal food for you is something that is digested quickly by you and puts the least amount of stress on your digestive system. This can differ from person to person.

Ayurveda believes the more effort the body has to take in digesting your food, the more energy is diverted away from your organ systems. Also, depending upon your state of health, if your food is difficult to digest, there is a possibility that your body will not complete the job of digestion within the allotted time. The longer your food sits in your body without being processed, the more poisonous it becomes to your body.

8.putrefecation

 

Food that is undigested and sits around in your body becomes “Ama” or undigested waste + toxin. Ama prevents the healthy functioning of your organ systems and leads to faster aging and illness. Ama can accumulate across every organ system, but is linked primarily to an improperly functioning digestive system, brought on by eating improper food.

Now how your digestive system will respond to your food group is completely unique. Some of us can easily digest fried food, and can eat copious quantities of this without losing sleep or productivity. Others are extremely sensitive to certain food groups: a single Chinese meal can set us back by 2 – 3 days when we feel dull and sluggish.

9.digestive ability
These digestion patterns tend to change as we age, and by season. They also change when we are under a high amount of stress. So it is important to listen carefully to your body and develop a sense of what works for you. Limit food experimentation to a window where you can take the consequences, and always plan for “cheat” or “treat” days.

  1. Many foods we think are healthy and should be eaten in copious quantities are considered unhealthy in Ayurveda

Many foods that we now consider healthy and are eating a lot of are considered difficult to digest in Ayurveda or are considered unbalanced as they are very high in one particular dosha: these include raw vegetables (yes salads!), raw sprouts, millets, brown rice or cereals with a high amount of husk on them, fermented foods like idly and dosa, cheese, curd, milkshakes. These must be eaten with the proper preparation and caution and at times when the body is capable of digesting them.

Example 1: Fermented foods like idly and dosa are considered high in pitta as they are sour foods. Eating them every day for breakfast will mean your pitta will increase. It is important to balance them with something like a coconut based dish as coconut is both cooling (and high in kapha) and will balance the pitta in the idly / dosa. (Please note that this does not apply if you spike your coconut chutney with an impossibly high amount of green chillies). Eating a fermented food with another pitta heavy dish like a Sambhar high in tamarind or acidic tomato based chutney will not be balanced.

10.idly

 

In this there is obviously a gradation. Freshly fermented idlis are lower in pitta dosha than 3 day old batter. Batter made at home is obviously superior to something bought from outside, because we can guarantee that no other additives like baking soda have been added. Idlis eaten in cold winter season are better for the body compared to idlis eaten in summer.

 

This is because in winter, the heat of the Idlis through Pitta dosha is opposite to the cold produced by the winter – so the load on the body is less. But an idly eaten is summer is far more stimulating to Pitta dosha.

 

When you are suffering from an intense imbalance of Pitta dosha, eating an idly everyday for breakfast can throw you out of gear and is not advisable.  The key, as always is finding balance.

 

Example 2: Raw foods are considered “lekhaniya” (scraping quality), and depending upon what kind of raw foods we are describing, they may be “rooksha” (dry), rough, and “guru” or difficult to digest.

 

An example of a “guru” raw food is raw beetroot. An example of a “rooksha” and “guru” raw food are raw sprouts. From a western, raw food perspective, eating raw food is considered healthy as we get access to many nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are destroyed when cooking. So eating the raw food as a juice, smoothie or as a salad is considered health boosting.

11.raw
Ayurveda however says that the process of digesting this raw food dampens or weakens Agni, hence this food is not properly digested (especially when consumed in quantities that are much higher than what we are used to). So despite eating healthy foods, we could be increasing the ama in our body as the act of digesting this healthy food has weakened Agni.

 

Seasonal fruits and fruit juices are not necessarily a part of this list. But even here, temperance is advised – you cannot suddenly force the body to eat, digest properly and assimilate a very large quantity of fruit juice of fruit salad. Depending upon your constitution this can aggravate Agni, leading to diarrhoea, or leave you feeling sluggish and listless.

12.fruits
Example 3: Millets are now extremely popular across South India as a healthy replacement to rice. Ayurveda however considers many Millets as dry and difficult to digest, which makes sense as they are traditionally dry land crop. Substituting rice completely with Millets will mean that your vata dosha will increase. This is welcome if you have a health condition like diabetes where kapha dosha is high – so here the vata of the Millets will balance excess Kapha. In fact, millet is prescribed in diabetes for just this reason instead of rice. But if you have no such health conditions and have decided to substitute rice completely with Millets, you will be drying out your body, especially if you do this very suddenly.

13.millets
The benefits of Millets must of course be experienced by you. But this should form a part of your experimentative 10% and must be prepared using the correct format and in doses where your body does not rebel or where other symptoms like aggravated vata dosha develop.

 

Here are some of the ways you can experiment with Millets:

Changing the format of the cereal changes how your body digests it – In millets, flour is easier to digest as you have broken down the cereal physically and are not depending upon your digestive system to do this job. So if you would like to introduce Millets into your diet, perhaps Millet flour is a better first step instead of the millet grains.

13.millet flour
The timing of eating is everything, especially for a difficult to digest food. Noon time, when the sun is at its peak, is considered the time when your digestive system is the strongest. So this is the time your body can handle the rigors of digesting a difficult to digest food. Like millets. OR Quinoa. (After preparing it properly).

14.lunch
This list which I have compiled is by no means complete or a prescription in itself. This merely represents a starting point to think about your diet and your health. As with everything, your body and your health are unique and what works for you is something you will have to evolve with time and experimentation.

Part 2 of this post will tackle more of what Ayurveda says about food. In the meantime, do remember, there are no shortcuts to good health and good looking skin and hair. It is built meal by meal, and choice by choice.


Krya’s range of skin care products for pitta prone, normal to oily skin can be found here. Our skin range for vata prone, normal to dry skin can be found here. Our anti acne skin care products can be found here.   Apart from this, we have a range of products for Sensitive Skin (skin that is eczema, dermatitis & psoriasis prone) and for Sun Tanned skin . We also have a large range of Abhyanga-Snana products. 

9-ubtan

Our products are inspired by Ayurveda. completely natural, toxin free and extremely effective. If you would like help choosing the right Krya product for your skin, please call us (075500-89090) or write to us.


 

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Screentime, Stress and falling hair – Krya Ayurveda series for IT employees

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Reading Time: 11 minutes

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

1.winter

 

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

2.it office

 

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

 

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

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

3. sunlight

 

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

 

Sunlight and its effect on Melatonin production:

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

4. melatonin

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. 22 percent drop

 

The manifestation of excessive blue light exposure:

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

 

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

 

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

6. stress

 

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

 

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

 

Ayurveda on sunshine and vata disorders:

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

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

7. sunlight benefit

 

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

8. slow down

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Slow down and smell the roses:

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

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

 

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

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

blog-post-11-krya-abhyanga-oil

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

 

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Krya Hair 101 series – 4 principles of Mindful eating

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Ayurveda believes that the food we eat literally makes up every part of our body. Every organ system is formed by metabolising of the food we eat and assimilating the nutrients from the metabolised food. Ayurveda divides the body into seven layers (and organ systems) of increasing complexity. Each succeeding layer is formed after the previous layer has absorbed the nutrients required from the food. So if our food is poor in quality, then it stands to reason that our more complex and nuanced inner systems will not be healthy as the existing nutrients have already been used up for the outer layers of the body.

So for example, the reproductive seed, “Shukra” is the very last and most nuanced layer in the body. This layer derives its nutrients after the formation of skin, scalp, hair, blood, lymph, flesh, and bone. So if your basic diet is poor in quality, then the Shukra (quality of sperm and ovum) will also be poor in quality as there is not enough nutrients left in the food after feeding all the previous organ systems.

Hair and nails in Ayurveda is closely linked to “asthi” or the bone system. It is believed that the same components of Asthi also go to make up the nails and hair. So weak and damaged hair could go hand in hand with brittle nails which could go hand in hand with weak bones.

If your hair or skin lacks life, is generally weak and does not grow well, we must always look at the quality of nourishment you are getting and how well it is being assimilated in your body. For today’s post, here are 4 principles of mindful eating that we would like to share from Ayurveda. These are principles that can be followed by all healthy people. If you have a specific condition, are pregnant, or are recovering from an illness, these principles may need to be tweaked individually for you.

  1. Eat at the right time.
    1. The process of digestion and assimilation is governed by the forces of Agni. Agni is strongly correlated to the movement of the Sun.
    2. Therefore the largest meal of your day should be lunch, which should be as close to the midday sun as possible.
    3. Dinner should be had as close to Sunset as possible. 8:30 pm is the very latest anyone should be eating. 7:00 -7:30 pm is ideal. This meal should be the smallest meal of the day.
    4. Breakfast is had ideally between 8 am – 9 am. This is the time when the digestive enzymes are availble for food processing as well. The next time they activate is around noon.
  2. Eat less than your complete capacity. Leave a little room for the food to be further processed.
    1. Your stomach is approximately the size of your closed fist. While it is a muscle that can expand. If you fill your stomach with food that is much beyond its capacity, it will leave you dull and full of toxins.
    2. Ayurveda says that after food enters the stomach, it is further processed by the forces of Agni, Vayu and Prithvi. So watery secretions, fiery enzymes, and air will move through the food churning and digesting it. If you have eaten to the fullest, there is no physical space for any of these substances to work on the food. So always eat slightly less than your capacity (10 – 20% less). How much space you leave should be arrived at by you after experimentation.
  3. Chew your food well.
    1. Most of us gulp near solid food sending unbroken food to the stomach.
    2. The texts say that Digestion ends in the stomach. It begins in your mouth.
    3. The enzymes secreted by your saliva begin breaking down food in your mouth and partially break down your food before it reaches your stomach. The stomach is actually supposed to receive watery partially digested slurry of food. When we chew less and swallow food quickly, we are sending a mass of food that puts a great strain on the stomach. Therefore digestion takes longer than it should and the food we eat ferments and starts generating toxins instead of nourishing us.
    4. When you chew your food well, you prevent excessive weight gain, ensure higher nutrient assimilation, reduce the strain on your system, and reduce toxin build up in the body.
    5. When we chew our food properly, we are surprised to see how much less we eat, and how much food our system actually requires to feel satiated.
  4. Eat mindfully, in silence, concentrating on the food.
    1. To eat on time, eat the right quantity and chew well, we would need to eat in silence, having taking time out to eat.
    2. We would also need to give ourselves time, savour our food and practice mindfulness.
    3. This is the best thing you can do to nourish your body, and ensure that you feed it well with prana and nutrients.
    4. When you eat mindfully, you will always choose fresher food that is good for you.
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7 Ayurvedic productivity tools – On World Productivity Day

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

It is my cherished belief that Ayurveda, the science of health, well being and longevity, continues to be relevant today, despite the many quick fixes, short cuts and pills that are easily available to us. This is a science that is as old as our culture, and has stood the test of time for the last 5000 plus years, UNTIL the last hundred odd years in India.

 

blog post 1 - ayurveda

 

Ayurveda has been able to hold its own and learn from and absorb the learnings from so many different cultures which have come into India, learned from our sciences and added back to our learnings. So what we have is a vast body of medical knowledge that spans different aspects of life from daily care of ourselves, the care of women and children, the science of anti aging, surgery, etc. What is left of Ayurveda in our country is only a remnant of a remnant – due to neglect, lack of pride and understanding in our ancient medicine, and because of the dissipation of traditional home medicine and knowledge of herbs. Still, this remnant of a remnant, when practiced everyday and diligently helps bring us to preventive health care.

 

I have mentioned that all the Acharyas record that only 15% of diseases require the assistance of a Vaidya. Most conditions that we are seeing today can be prevented by following the right diet, living well and managing the beginning symptoms with traditional home interventions.

 

blog post 2 - holistic living

 

Most of us do not suffer from full fledged disease: rather, we suffer from the symptoms of a lack of balance. When we do not take action based on these warning signs, our condition progresses further until it becomes a full blown disease.

 

But today I am taking a step back from even these early warning signs of imbalance, and moving instead to having a useful and productive day. As an entrepreneur, I measure my output every single day, and cannot afford to have a single day where I perform less than par. This is where following the well laid down principles of Ayurveda help me get the most out of my day. Why I am speaking about productivity today? Today happens to be World Productivity Day. While you can measure and increase productivity by adopting software and productivity tools, I am looking at productivity the old fashioned way.

 

Does my body and brain work well, without needing stimulation, without any highs and lows, in a state of balance and steadiness to help me achieve my best work? How do I reach this state?

blog post 3 - ayurvedic productivity

 

Here are 7 Ayurvedic productivity tools to help you achieve a state of laser sharp focus, precision along with an even positive temper:

  1. Understand your body’s capacity to absorb food and eat only as per this capacity
    1. This changes as per season, health and mood
    2. You cannot understand this if you are eating unconsciously, having an animated discussion while eating or eating while watching television
  2. blog post 4 - focus on your foodEat only upto 85% of your capacity at any given meal
    1. Food “expands” when it is being digested, so you will always feel “full” about 10 minutes after you have finished eating
    2. Food requires space (Akash) to move, circulate and get digested. If your stomach is full of solid matter, there is no “Akash” for your food to get assimilated
  3. Stop eating atleast 2.5 hours before you go to sleep
    1. This ensures your food is well digested before you go to sleep
    2. This ensures that when you sleep, your body gets better rest because it is not busy in digestion
    3. This also ensures that your food is well assimilated and waste is thrown out well the next morning
  4. Give your body time to wake up and assimilate the day before plunging into activity. Avoid mental stimulation and talk for atleast an hour after waking up
  5. blog post 5 - ease into the dayYour body requires daily asana (yoga) practice to stay in shape and assist all bodily functions. Even a 15 minute practice every day is a huge help.
  6. Do an abhyanga every single day – if not atleast twice a week. The abhyanga strongly balances all doshas, and allows the removal of excess vata dosha and pitta dosha. This helps keep your mind sharp, focussed, clear and even.
  7. blog post 6- abhyangaCultivate evenness of expectation and living. Seeking balance in health involves living a balanced life. Give yourself time to achieve your goals and tae on only reasonable targets. Always be holistic about your decisions and do not sacrifice the long term for the short term.

 

The above 7 Ayurvedic productivity tools are simply a tiny fraction of the wealth and wisdom available in Ayurveda. Life philosophy forms a large part of Ayurveda where the texts force us to really look within and understand who we are and what makes us tick.

 

A happy world productivity day to you from us at Krya. Remember: In Balance lies the Key.

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The Krya Intense program for PCOD & PCOS hairfall : 27 ideas on diet , lifestyle and regimen

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We are seeing a very high proportion of sudden and severe hairfall these days triggered by conditions like PCOS, PCOD and fertility treatments. Androgenic balding is rapidly increasing among women, and many of our consumers come to us for help after having gone through the entire round of Minoxidil, PRP, laser treatments, injections and medicines to regain hair growth.

Obviously the above treatments are synthetic, have limited success and come with many side effects, which are enough to prompt people into researching a good natural alternative.

 

The Krya Intense Hair system – designed for severe and sudden hair loss

We launched the Krya Intense hair oil last year, after we began receiving requests for hair growth products from Chemotherapy patients. Our research into hair loss took us to how Ayurveda defines Indralupta (sudden, intense hair loss) and we co related it with the kind of medication that Chemotherapy & radiation therapy patients received, so we could understand which doshas were imbalanced.

Our list of customers for the Intense hair oil slowly started expanding: we recommended this product to people who had undergone major surgeries, who had prolonged illnesses, and had been on medication for many years. We have also used the Krya Intense hair oil in severe cases of PCOD and fertility treatment related hair loss.

To complement the Krya intense hair oil, we now have the Krya Intense hairwash and the Krya Intense hair mask, which form a part of the Krya Intense hair growth system.

7. Krya intense hair system

 

Why is severe and sudden hair loss so difficult to treat? How is it different from normal hairfall?

In most cases, the reason for Hair problems is a simple imbalance. This does not need an advanced or specialised system and the body responds very quickly to the diet and lifestyle and product changes to give you good results.

In the case of severe illnesses or long term illnesses like PCOD, we see much slower results because the entire body has been left unsettled and stressed due to the illness itself and the medication used. In these cases, the body’s metabolism and nutritional intake is itself damaged. Usually, when nutrients are limited, teh body reserves its limited nutrition for extremely important organ systems.

So hair and skin are usually left un-nourished and can go bad very quickly.  Therefore, a natural fallout of these illnesses is extreme and severe hair loss, where you lose upto half your hair’s volume and growth is slow.

 1.lack of nutrition

Can we guarantee new hair growth?

We are often asked if we can offer guarantees for hair growth from these consumers. We empathise with the questions: after all they have often spent huge amounts of money and have been disappointed by treatments which have preyed on their natural insecurity and desire for normal hair growth.

 

However, as we often say, the success or the failure of natural herbs and natural treatments differs from person to person. Many factors come into play which include your body’s state of health, your state of mind (if you are depressed or stressed, it is much harder for any treatment to have an impact), the access you have to good quality food, the stress levels in your life and your ability to do something about it, and your willingness to make all the changes suggested to improve your health. Obviously over and above all of this, we have to factor in your genes, and your body’s current state of health and its willingness to make the change.

However, as we often say, all the recommendations we give for improving hair health are all sensible suggestions from Ayurveda that restore your body back to a state of health – so the suggestions are a good place to start anyway for good health and well being.

What we can say is this: following the suggestions given below are certainly give you and your hair an extremely good chance to regain health. So let us see these recommendations below:

 

General regimen and diet to be followed:

  1. Wake up around 5:30 am
  2. Do a round of light exercise (walking, yoga, etc) that works up sweat but does not leave you feeling tired or exhausted. This is critical to melt excess fat deposits in the body which is preventing structured hair growth.3.yoga
  3. Avoid electronic stimulation (smartphone, facebook, checking email etc ) until after breakfast
  4. Breakfast at 8 am – please eat freshly cooked traditional Indian foods like upma, paratha, poha, pongal, cheela – fermented foods like idly / dosa/uthapam to be restricted to once a week only. No tea or coffee with this meal. Avoid the following: bread, maida based foods, peanuts, sesame, peanut butter, sesame butter, red and green chilly, tamarind. Add ½ teaspoon of melted ghee to your breakfast4. traditional breakfast
  5. No snacking between breakfast and lunch unless you are really hungry. If hungry you can eat any fruit in season – chew slowly. Do not drink juices, smoothies / milkshakes / cola
  6. Lunch to be had between 12:30 – 1 – this can be the heaviest meal of the day. Eat until you feel full. Eat slowly, chew well. Add 1 teaspoon melted ghee to your food. Avoid curd completely. Also avoid any food that is very spicy, or sour or salty. Eat preferably freshly cooked home food only. Avoid desserts. Eat any food that is traditional to your family and is enjoyed by you.
  7. If you plan to eat difficult to digest food, lunch is the best meal to tackle this (if you must) – difficult to digest food is non-vegetarian food, pizza, oily food, sweets, a buffet lunch, or any manner of hotel food.
  8. Tea time – Eat only if hungry. You can eat a seasonal fruit or a glass of milk – milk to be had plain , warm and unsweetened. No fried snacks, no tea, coffee, cola, juice, milkshakes, smoothies, cold coffee, etc5. avoid cold sticky foods
  9. Dinner – to be eaten between 7:30 – 8 pm – lightest meal often day. Same as lunch, with the same restrictions. Add ½ teaspoon melted ghee to your meal.
  10. Ensure you have a good rotation of vegetables and eat a different vegetable everyday –local native vegetables in season are great for you like parwal, dhoodhi (bottle gourd), karela (bitter gourd), ash gourd, etc. Most of us tend to over-eat non native vegetables like potatoes and capsicum. Our body tends to absorb nutrients given by local vegetables that are in season much better.
  11. Avoid electronic stimulation (smartphone, facebook, checking email etc ) after dinner
  12. Sleep 2.5 hours after dinner – by this time your food should be well digested. 30 minutes before sleeping, drink one glass of hot water. This helps flush out toxins from the body.

6.hot water

Notes on diet and eating regimen:

Regulation of meals and giving your body predictability about when it will get food is crucial to restore health back to the body. These simple changes like eating at the right time, showing your food well, and eating freshly cooked food can go a long way in reducing excess weight, improving nutrient assimilation and enhancing well being.

Controlling the time that you eat balances both pitta dosha and vata dosha and controls excess kapha dosha – a huge change from such a simple act!

Controlling the amount of electronic stimulation your brain receives controls vata dosha – vata dosha is responsible for skin smoothness, complexion and energy – again such a good benefit from such a simple act

 

Foods to avoid / reduce:

  1. Sesame seeds, sesame oil, peanuts, peanut oil, peanut butter, peanut candy / brittle
  2. Spicy foods and herbs: red and green chilly, capsicum, mustard oil, onion, garlic7.onion and garlic
  3. Sour foods – tamarind, tomato, lemon, kokum, amchur, raw mangoes, curd, buttermilk, vinegar, cheese, paneer
  4. Salty foods – pickles, chips, crackers, preserved food, ajinomoto, papad, salty dried vegetables (vathal), canned food, processed tomato paste, tomato ketchup, processed biscuits and cookies, processed commercial bread, ready to eat foods8.ketchup
  5. Wind increasing foods and vegetables and fruits: avoid a high amount of raw foods, raw salads, fried foods, crisp foods like biscuits, chips, fries, etc. Reduce your dependence on vegetables like cabbage, peas, potatoes and other wind increasing foods.
  6. Sticky foods that can increase mucous accumulation: ice cream, milk shake, yoghurt, paneer, milk sweets, maida based cakes, biscuits and cookies, ready to eat noodles like Maggi
  7. Milk to be specially boiled in Ayurvedic way (described below) to avoid accumulating stickiness
  8. Sweet foods – cakes, pastries, milk sweets, cold sweets (very occasionally a very small portion of a warm home made sweet that you have made like kheer / payasam / halwa is ok), out of season fruits . If eating a mango, choose an organic, naturally ripened sweet mango – eat when hungry and do not eat anything else to ensure the mango is well assimilated and digested9.home made sweet
  9. Follow the traditional “Mango soak “ technique before eating a ripe mango – soak the mango (with skin) in a bowl of clean water for 30 – 45 minutes before eating.
  10. Preferentially eat split Mung dal over other lentils – avoid lentils like Rajma, channa, vatana, lobia etc that are difficult to digest. Reduce Tuvar dal and masoor dal that tend to aggravate pitta dosha.
  11. Eat only when hungry. Eat slowly savouring each bite. Stop when you are full.
  12. Drink water whenever thirsty
    1. Drink water at room temperature or water that is warm
    2. Do not add additives to water like lemon, mint, etc which can upset one of the 3 doshas
    3. Your body’s need for water varies according to the temperature, what you have eaten and the kind of work you are doing on any given day. Do not force more water into your system based on a mistaken calculation
    4. Keep listening to your body and drink water as needed
    5. Water cannot be substituted with fruit juices, protein shakes , smoothies, flavoured water, vitamin water or anything else.

10.water

 

Notes on foods to avoid:

The texts have clearly classified foods , vegetables and herbs as per their properties and what dosha they aggravate if eaten in excess. For severe balding, male pattern hair loss and hair loss driven by conditions like PCOD, the texts say that 2 or 3 doshas can be out of balance, usually pitta and kapha dosha. Hence, we follow a meal plan that is tridoshic and avoid foods that aggravate one or 2 doshas.

 

Regimen changes:

  1. Abhyanga (self oil massage face and body) twice a week in the morning using the Krya women’s abhyanga system. This helps reduce dosha excesses and has been very good in aiding hair growth in cases of extreme loss.
    1. Please read here and here about how to do an abhyanga
    2. Abhyanga should be done within one hour of sunrise before the heat sets in for best effects14.abhaynga vata
  2. Hair oiling 3 times a week in the evening around 7 pm OR 1 hour before sleeping AND 1.5 hours after dinner .
    1. We usually advice oiling with a combination of the Krya Classic hair oil (to reduce excess pitta) and the Krya Intense hair oil (to reduce excess kapha).
    2. If the hair loss is very extreme, use more of the Krya intense hair oil.
    3. Evening oiling is done in small quantity directly on the scalp
    4. Oil the scalp gently and avoid tugging or pulling at the hair
    5. Post oiling use a wide toothed comb to de-tangle the hair and plait it to keep it from getting further damaged
  3. Restrict hair wash to once a week only with the Krya Intense hairwash.
    1. On hair wash day, oil your hair and scalp generously with the Krya Intense hair oil and then apply the Krya Intense hairmask.
    2. It is advisable to do one of the 2 abhyangas suggested on this day as well.
    3. Hair that is undergoing severe hairfall is very weak at the roots – this is why we advise restricting washing it to avoid further damage. Use water that is as cool as possible to wash your hair.
    4. To wash your body (below the neck) use only warm water – cold water aggravates vata and dryness further. To wash your face use cool water
    5. If your hair feels very sticky and you have been sweating profusely, you can rinse your hair in plain water without any product.
    6. Do not use a blow dryer on the hair. Allow it to air dry. Do not use a towel and rub or tug the hair hard.
    7. Do not use clips, bands and grips on weak hair. Avoid brushing. Cover hair with a scarf when going outdoors.

11. do not stress out hair

Notes on regimen changes:

For intense hair oil, we prescribe a more intensive frequency of hair oiling with a specially prepared oil that is designed to tackle Indralupta (sudden and intensive hairfall). For this kind of hairfall, the oil needs to stay longer on the hair and help reduce heat and remove the sticky scalp deposits that prevent new hair growth. This is why evening oiling is advised so that oil stays on longer.

Hair that is intensely falling is very weak at the roots. Ensure you avoid stressing it in any way.

 

How do I know this regimen is working? Some observable changes:

  1. Your sleep quality is much better
    1. Your sleep is deeper and vivid dreams or nightmares are reduced
    2. You wake up feeling much more refreshed with fewer aches and pains
    3. You feel much more energetic and sharp the whole day12.high quality sleep
  2. Your bowel movements are quick, easy and smooth
    1. Your “business” is done very quickly
    2. There is no pain, no straining, and no difficulty
    3. There is less or reduced wind
    4. The bowel movement is firm, well formed and is in 1 / 2 masses – it is not loose and liquid, pellet –like or hard
    5. The bowel movement does not have an excessively foul or putrid smell
  3. Your appetite is strong and appears at the right times
    1. You eat your food with a good appetite
    2. The food stimulates your salivary glands and you find the food tasty and satisfying
    3. You do not have any intensive cravings for salty , sour or sweet food
    4. You remain calm, balanced and steady between meals. You do not have mood swings, food cravings or random hunger
    5. You do not have a “crash” 30 – 45 minutes after eating and become sleepy or moody. You continue to stay steady and upbeat through the day, even after meals.13. strong appetite
  4. Your energy levels are good and steady
    1. You need less stimulation during the day in the form of tea and coffee
    2. You can focus more and get things ticked on your task list
    3. You “lose it” less frequently and do not give in to rage or anger management issues
    4. You are firm, yet patient without snapping
    5. You are cheerful and good humour and do not get low or depressed easily
    6. You are able to be with yourself without depending on peppy music or cricket or sitcoms to put you in a cheerful mood14.steady mood
  5. Your body is stronger and feels lighter
    1. You do not get aches and pains in your bone and joint system
    2. You are able to move fast and feel full of energy
    3. Your body has less aches and pains
    4. You do not get as many migraines, headaches, tension headaches, gastric irritation, etc as you used to
    5. Physical movement is easier, and is done without strain or a feeling of heaviness
  6. Your hair starts to improve in stages (stages given below):
    1. It needs less washing and does not secrete excess sebum or look very oily between washes
    2. Hair breakage reduces as cuticular damage reduces.
    3. Hair dryness goes down and there is a reduction in number of split ends and depth of split ends
    4. Hair’s elasticity improves – so it can be tugged more and more without it breaking and falling
    5. Hairs porosity improves as holes in the cuticular structure are improved. So it breaks and falls less when exposed to water
    6. Hair texture feels softer and smoother
    7. Hair has a healthy sheen as sebum secretion is balanced and cuticular stricture is healthy and repaired
    8. Hair colour improves and hair starts to look its natural colour and does not appear dull, brownish or reddish.
    9. You can see fresh new hair growth – the new hair is healthy and has a good colour , normal thickness and texture

To conclude:

We have had good success in cases of extreme hairfall, and have seen encouraging results when consumers have followed a large proportion of our suggestions and when changes are made across diet, regimen and lifestyle.

Obviously the suggestions given below are for a wide audience, and need to be customised for special hairfall cases like hairfall duet to chemotherapy, hairfall due to vata aggravation, etc.

If you too would like our help, please give us a call on (0)7550-89090.

Krya products suggested for PCOD and PCOS related hairfall:

  1. Krya Classic Hair Oil
  2. Krya Intense Hairfall growth promoting system
  3. Krya Women’s Abhyanga system

 

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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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