The History of Abhyanga: What Ashtanga Hridayam says about Abhyanga

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

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

Abhyanga is a key dinacharya practice recommended in ayurveda

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

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

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

Ashtanga Hridayam: part of the Brhat Trayee Texts in Ayurveda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Concept of “Living Right” in Ayurveda:

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

Ayurveda varies gretaly from allopathy in the emphasis on living right

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abhyanga recommendations at Krya:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Splitting Abhyanga into mini units – some benefits

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

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

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

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

An Interpretation of Acharya Vaghbatta’s Shloka on abhyanga:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ashtanga Hridayam - shloka on Abhyanga's importance

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

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

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

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

Abhyanga products available at Krya:

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

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

Classic abhyanga-snana range:

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

Krya abhyanga Oil - classic

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

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

Intense abhyanga-snana Range:

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

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

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

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

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

To sum up: the Benefits of a Regular abhyanga

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

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

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

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

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

Share

Eating for Good Health – An Ayurvedic Perspective : Part 2

Share
Reading Time: 6 minutes


krya on ayurvedic eating

As I had written in Prat 1 of this article, many Ayurvedic diet prescriptions do not go with modern notions on health and nutrition. In fact, they seem contrarian and sometimes weird or even “unscientific” as per modern and often western expectations.

However, as I have always maintained, good health reflects in great skin and hair. At krya we get many queries every day on tackling skin & hair care problems, which cannot be solved with the just use of external products alone, so we do end up gently nudging people to take a second look at their diet and lifestyle.

So here is part 2 of my post on eating sensibly according to Ayurveda. As with all new information, please read this with an open mind.

IMPORTANT NOTE :This article does NOT discuss the ethical consideration behind these food choices as some of the Ayurvedic prescriptions use animal derived products. At this point of time, I am simply talking about how Ayurveda analyzes each food choice in terms of its dosha and how it would impact human health alone.

1. Ayurveda follows a holistic approach to eating. There is no measurement of micro nutrients or break up of food into the terms we measure today like protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals etc.
Instead, Ayurveda and all traditional medicine talks about eating a balanced meal. And is concerned about eating local and seasonal food that is right for each dosha type. This cannot be compressed into a simple diet chart but has to be worked out according to the needs of the individual, their current state of health and the environment they live in and the nature of their work, etc.

So for example, the diet prescribed for me, a Pitta-kapha type would consist of foods that are cooling but do not cause mucous. So if I am prescribed milk, I would be asked to have it unsweetened. Milk is considered as “Madura rasa (sweet taste)” which means it is already high in kapha qualities. As milk calms pitta but can also increase kapha – I might also be asked to drink with a pinch of turmeric, and drunk warm to ensure that my dosha is not aggravated. I would also be asked to have only native cow’s milk and not buffalo milk, as cow’s milk is lighter and does not have the quality of tamas that buffalo milk has .

I might also be asked to cut down completely on consuming jaggery and sesame if my pitta dosha is aggravated or during summer . Both increase pitta, and would perhaps not be ideal for me to eat given my constitution. I would also be asked to include shitali pranayama as part of a yoga practise to cool down my body.

Someone with a high kapha dosha, who often gets mucous filled coughs and colds, would be asked to cut down dairy completely. They would also be asked to cut down sweets, perhaps eat millets for a meal instead of rice, and do brisk exercising or surya namaskar to melt excess kapha in the body and encourage its release.

2. Ayurveda and many new lifestyle diets or ethical diets do not go together. So there is no Vegan Ayurveda. Or Gluten free Ayurveda. Or Paleo Ayurveda. Or Grain free Ayurveda.

Ayurveda prescribes the use of limited quantities of dairy products for good health. This is non negotiable among 3 classes of people: children, people above 60 and pregnant women. For everyone who falls in between, certain kinds of dairy can be avoided as long as they are in good health. Ghee appears to be universally prescribed for everyone as it is considered extremely good for the body and useful to bring down both vitiated pitta and vata.

Many Ayurvedic medicines are made using ghee, honey and sometimes curd and even bone marrow. Each medicine has been formulated keeping the health condition in mind and depending upon what medium will deliver the medicine fastest to the patient.
In certain conditions like vitiated vata, ghee is used extensively to quickly bring down vitiated vata. Every fat is treated separately in Ayurveda, and the qualities of taila, ghrita and majja (oils, ghee, bone marrow) have been extensively documented. In cases where ghee is required, it is cannot be substituted with a vegetable oil, even with coconut oil.

In cases of extreme emaciation, the text books recommend giving very weak, debilated patients mamsa rasa (meat soup) to quickly build up strength. I have seen documented evidence of this treatment working, and working well.

Again here, Ayurveda does not treat plant protein and animal protein as the same. Both are said to have different qualities and are used in different situations. For example, plant protein like lentils is considered as high in vata. So in cases where patients are suffering from vata vitiation driven weakness and emaciation, animal fat like ghee or in extreme cases animal soup (which is considered higher in kapha) is given to build strength.

3. Raw food, is considered as difficult to digest and is considered as stressful to the digestive system. Also, raw food is considered extremely high in vata, and the quality of the food changes depending upon how it is cooked.

So foods already high in vata like cabbage, cauliflower, millets, bread, cornflakes must be eaten only after their basic nature is tempered by the way we prepare them. The texts suggest that these foods should not be eaten raw, and should be cooked in fats like ghee or coconut oil, and must be eaten warm and not cold to bring down their vata increasing effect. Spices like turmeric and jeera should be added to make it easy for the body to digest them. And they should be eaten at peak digestive capacity which is during noon and not after sunset.

For this reason, if your vata dosha appears to be high, eating cornflakes or toast for breakfast would be an absolute no. Both would further aggravate vayu. Instead, you might be best served eating a rice and mung dal pongal / khichdi, or a rice based upma.

4. The ideal meal plate in Ayurveda – would vary by season but would consist of a higher proportion of grain and lentil and a smaller proportion of mainly cooked, seasonal vegetable. This is in direct contrast to what many of us believe – in fact a lot of us consume a much higher proportion of both raw and cooked vegetables than rice/ wheat or lentils. Ayurveda believes that the essential nature of many vegetables and lentils is that it is high in vata. So it must be balanced by eating rice which is laghu (easy to digest), madura (sweet and kapha promoting) and which helps balance the vata nature of lentil and vegetable.

A meal which consists only of vegetables, or vegetable + lentils or only fruits would be extremely unbalanced according to ayurveda and promote vata.

5. Food combinations and prohibitions: The Charaka Samhita mentions many improper food combinations and restricted food, which is unhealthy and sometimes downright lethal to your body. I have listed a few basics below.

• Curd – considered very high in heat and difficult to digest. Only very young people and people who do a lot of high physical exercise are considered strong enough to eat curd. As it is high in heat, curd can be eaten in limited amounts, only in extremely cold weather, and that too only during the day (when the digestive system is very strong). Prohibited in pregnancy, other seasons, at night, and for people with high pitta dosha.

• Heating honey or honey in hot drinks – honey is an amalgamation of flower nectar sourced from many types of flowers, plus bee saliva. Some of the flowers from which nectar is collected could be mildly toxic. When honey is heated, it breaks down to its individual combinations and could release these toxins and become poisonous to the body. So honey is never used in cooking or heated in any way. So drinking honey in hot water is absolutely prohibited. As is adding honey to hot liquids like tea or coffee.

• Drinking large amounts of tea and coffee (even green tea) – tea and coffee are high in vata and are astringent in nature. They should not be consumed at all, and can only be consumed y people who live in regions where they naturally grow. They should definitely not be consumed immediately after meals.

• Drinking large amounts of water – puts a strain on the kidneys and removes nutrients from the body. Water should be drunk when you are thirsty (unless you work in an unnatural environment like an air conditioned office, in which case you should monitor your water consumption).

• Dairy with fruits / vegetables – Dairy is considered heavy to digest and a meal in itself. Most fruits have the opposite qualities of dairy, so by combining them, we are putting a strain on our digestive system. For example, a banana or chikoo milkshake is an absolute disaster.

• Milk with a meal – milk is considered a meal in itself. And difficult to digest. So when milk is prescribed, it should be consumed as a separate meal. And you should give your system atleast a few hours to completely digest it before eating the next meal

This list does attempt to be a complete prescription or a substitute to visiting a qualified Ayurvedic Vaidya. This is merely a starting point to think about what you put into your body 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.

As always, do remember that good health has no shortcuts. You have to eat your apple everyday and not seven on Saturday night to keep the doctor away. Great skin and hair comes from every meal you eat and every liquid you drink.

click here for part 1 of the article .

 

Share

Krya Baby Skin 101 series : 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin and improve immunity
Share
Reading Time: 8 minutes

—————-

Caring for baby’s skin the right way is a challenge. Every single day, media reports tell us yet another company is making unsafe products. For confused parents looking for holistic, completely safe and natural baby products, Ayurveda provides many answers.  In this post, we will discuss 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin. These 5 skin care practices also help boost baby’s immunity and overall health.

Pregnancy: a time to take stock and re-evaluate choices

Most of our consumers tend to discover Krya when there is a particular problem they have not been able to find answers to like persistent hairfall, or when there is a new and wonderful change in their life (pregnancy or the birth of a child).

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : pregnancy is a time to re-evaluate our existing product choices

Most of us adults tend to bludgeon through life, and are willing to experiment quite widely with our health, skin and hair. Nothing else can explain how, despite all the evidence to the contrary, we continue to eat pesticide ridden foods and hormone and antibiotic filled dairy. However, when we see the fragility and delicate nature of an infant, we are forced to re-examine our choices and we make much better and more informed choices.

Why is it critical to treat baby’s skin and hair with care and reverence?

Human skin is the largest sense organ in our body. It is considered the seat of the Indriyas / sense organs and is literally the seat of sight, sense, touch, feeling and hearing. It is our first barrier layer and helps protect our internal organs from damage and bacteria. It is a marvel of bio engineering and hosts a massive colony of micro organisms which work along with us to ensure a constant pH of 5.5, with an acidic mantle that keeps harmful organisms away from us.

The skin and hair structure in children is one of the last major systems to be formed. The sweat glands which help regulate temperature, eliminate toxins from our body and help maintain the skin’s natural acid mantle takes upto 3 years to form. This means that babies stay sweet smelling longer, but this also means that their body does not have the mechanism to readily eliminate toxins like adults do.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : baby's skin is extremely under developed and therefore vulnerable

This means that they can handle far smaller toxic loads than adults – so it makes NO sense to keep on massaging them and washing them with toxin filled synthetic oils, lotions, creams and soaps. Even if the label says that it is “gentle” and will not make your baby cry.

How should we be protecting and caring for baby’s skin instead? Read on below for 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin

1. Follow the 3 step ayurvedic fabric washing routine for baby’s linen and clothing

Baby’s skin is under-developed and fragile. It lacks the ability to resist attacks by micro-organisms, fungal organisms and small insects and bugs. Therefore Ayurveda recommends that baby’s skin is to be cleansed with suitable herbs.

Step 1: Wash with a natural detergent

Ayurveda also recommends that all fabric coming into contact with baby’s skin is cleansed thoroughly in natural, non irritating, anti bacterial, “Rakshoghna” herbs like Shikakai, soapberry, Triphala, Vacha, Neem, etc.

To prevent rashes, contact dermatitis, we recommend double rinsing baby’s linen, cloth diapers and clothing using only a gentle natural detergent.

When we use the words “gentle, natural detergent” we mean a completely plant based herbal detergent. Any other detergent which uses either castille soap or SLS is too harsh for baby’s skin. If using a synthetic detergent, consider switching to a completely natural detergent.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : always wash baby's clothing in a pure, plant based detergent

Step 2: Line dry in hot sun

After washing baby’s clothing in a completely natural detergent, line dry it in the hot sun (forenoon sun is recommended).

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : line dry baby's clothing for natural anti bacterial effect

Step 3: Fumigate with natural herbs

Additional fumigation of dried clothing is recommended in very young or delicate infants or in humid and wet weather. Fumigation can be done in pure sambrani (benzoin resin) or Guggulu resin.5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : additional natural fumigation is excellent for premature or very young babies

Why is a 3 step washing routine a part of a post that is titled “5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin”?  In our experience at Krya, synthetic detergents are the culprit for a huge host of skin related issues for baby.

Many parents who are told that their baby has contact dermatitis and are pained to see baby suffering with a constant itchy skin rash find that it vanishes when the detergent is changed. Switching to a good ayurvedic fabric washing routine can do wonders for baby’s skin health.

2. Massage baby everyday before bath with a nourishing botanical oil

As baby’s skin is still under-developed, the sebaceous glands are not fully formed. Therefore there is a decreased production of natural oils to coat the skin. In adult skin, the natural sebum also forms the skin’s barrier function. So in the absence of this, the baby’s skin has to be assisted through daily massage using a mildly acidic, herb infused botanical oils.

Oil application of the skin has a twofold effect: the herb infused vegetable oil is able to penetrate the skin easily and nourish it, ensuring baby’s skin does not go dry.

It also has the ability to work with the skin to boost its barrier function. This increases the baby’s immune response and improves the body’s ability to protect itself from harmful micro organisms.5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : daily oil massage with a good botanical oil supports baby's skin health

Krya recommends daily oil massage of the baby 15 minutes before the bath to boost the skin’s natural oils and improve skin’s barrier function. This everyday oil massage with a good botanical oil is a critical part of the 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin. This oil massage ensures that baby’s skin is well hydrated, and well supported and the right synergistic bacteria are encouraged to colonize.

3. Cleanse baby’s skin with right products

As baby’s skin is still under-developed, the sweating mechanism is not present. Therefore it is important to assist the skin in its thermoregulatory function.

For thermoregulation, the srotas (minor channels of the skin) need to be massaged, detoxified and cleaned well every day. The massage of the skin every day helps deep cleanse the srotas.

Snana (bath) that follows should be done using a mixture of grains, lentils and Ayurvedic herbs. This mixture has the capacity to gently massage the srotas, and remove toxins along with excess oil. When the srotas are active and clean, they can do the job of thermo regulation properly.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Baby should be bathed with the right herbal ubtan

As per Ayurveda (unless you live in a very cold climate), the srotas should not be masked or covered after a bath with any moisturising substance. This brings down their activity. This is why Taila abhyanga (oil massage) is done in Ayurveda before the Snana.

Many parents write to us asking for the best moisturizing lotion that can be used on babies. They are surprised when we ask them to do a pre-bath oil massage and use a Krya baby ubtan instead. When we cleanse skin correctly, there is NO NEED to apply any post bath moisturisation. Also this application blocks the skin and impairs its functioning. This is why correct cleansing is an important part of our post on 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin.

4. Keep baby warm

Because of the unformed nature of baby’s skin, infants are very sensitive to temperature and changes in humidity. Because of their growing nature and diet which is high in liquids, they are prone to kapha dosha imbalances. Hence Ayurveda suggests the following:

Keep infants well covered and slightly warmer than you would keep yourself. Protect all vata based organs like skin, feet and ears, especially when taking baby out in the open.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Always protect baby's core temperature

Babies must be bathed in warm, and not hot water. Check the temperature before bathing baby.

Baby’s nursery should be kept slightly warm, and draughts of wind must not be allowed inside. Fumigation with rakshoghna herbs atleast once a day, especially in late evenings is advised to keep infection at bay.

5. Bathe baby with a special herb infused water

To boost baby’s immunity, support skin and keep micro organisms and diseases causing germs at bay, Ayurveda recommends adding s special herb mixture to baby’s bath. A simple herbal decoction can be made at home using either Neem or Tulsi leaf. Neem leaves is used when the weather is hot and Tulsi leaves when the weather is cold. The leaves can be added in the following manner:

How to make a bath steep for baby’s bath:

Mild decoction: Boil 4 – 5 Neem / tulsi leaves in 1 glass of clean water. Boil until the water reduces in half. Strain and add to baby’s bath water. Ensure the temperature of the water is suitable for baby’s skin before bathing her.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : It is a good idea to add ayurvedic herbs everyday to baby's bath water

The same decoction can also be done with dried Neem leaf or Dried Tulsi leaf powder. In this case, boil the decoction until it reaches ¾ the original volume, strain and use.

To sum up:

Baby’s skin is fragile and vulnerable. As the skin system is under developed, the products we apply on baby’s skin must protect and support its healthy growth.

Ayurveda offers worried parents many wonderful solutions to holistically nurture and care for baby’s skin. These solutions are specific and range from how baby’s linen must be washed to how baby must be bathed.

We hope you found these 5 simple Ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin useful and easy to follow. Please do try them out yourself or forward the same to a friend in need.

If you have any questions or queries on the same, please write to us.

Krya products recommended for baby:

  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
    • Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala & ashwagandha – traditional formula that aids baby’s muscle development . Can be used from the time a baby is 1-2 days old. Not recommended for babies with sensitive skin, dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis. For these conditions, see below.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin - Use the Krya traditional baby massage oil everyday

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Use Krya baby ubtans to gently yet thoroughly cleanse baby's skin. does not irritate sensitive skin.

  • Krya detergent – completely natural, plant based herbal detergents to cleanse baby’s linen without irritating baby’s skin
    • Krya Classic Detergent – made from forest collected soapberries. Recommended for premature babies and infants with skin conditions5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Use the Krya natural plant detergent to wash baby's clothing and linen
    • Krya Lemon detergent – Made from forest collected soapberries, lemongrass and lemon – for all other infants

 

Share

Eating for Good Health – An Ayurvedic Perspective : Part 1

Share
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.


 

Share

Treating open pores with ayurveda

Oily food aggravates pitta dosha clogging pores from within
Share
Reading Time: 11 minutes

Email 1:

“Dear Team Krya

I have large visible open pores, oily looking skin and craters and blemishes which are remnants of my acne filled youth.

Can you help with this?”

 

Email 2:

“Dear Team Krya,

I am 35. My skin tends to be normal – oily and has a tendency to break out around my periods. My pores are generally large and oily looking. And this is made extra obvious to me when I visit my parlour, and I am told to try chemical peels or microdermabrasion to minimise this.

Is there any natural, non invasive way to get better skin?”

What are open pores?

Have you been “expertly diagnosed” by your parlour facialist as having open pores? Or has a quick perusal of a beauty magazine suggested this term to you? Does your make-up look cake-y on application ? Has a makeup expert suggested that this is because of your open pores?

blog 1 - magazine

Open pores are our chief complaint at Krya as well, and the reason why so many women write to us asking for a better solution to their skincare woes.

Open pores are a mysterious animal though. While commonly experienced and often self diagnosed by many of us, there is no strict definition from a Dermatology point of view, as to what might constitute an open pore. Neither is there a precise definition of when the pilosebaceous ostia (sweat and sebum expelling openings) are enlarged enough to call them an open / magnified pore.

Clinical dermatological Research on open pores:

A study published in the Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology journal in 2015 gives us some clues about these open pores. This study analysed responses from a multi ethnic group of women (Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Brazilian, French etc) of 2400+ women from the age group of 18 – 80.

Some of the conclusions this study drew were as follows:

  • There is no one definition of what is a common open pore. Pore sizes varied across ethnicity, age and region
  • The lowest variation in pore size was seen in Chinese and Japanese women
  • There is a slight increase in pore size from the age of 18 to the age of 40 across all ethnicities and regions. This increase was the most marked among Indians and Brazilians (this increase was not statistically significant nor was it rigorously tested having a reasonable sample size of the full age spectrum in each ethnicity).

Despite not reaching too many statistically significant conclusions, the study concluded that aging affected pore size in some way, and there were differences in pore size across ethnicities. Cultural conditioning and expectations of beauty largely determined each ethnic groups focus on open pores.

Unsurprisingly, the Brazilians and Indians were extremely concerned by their open pores.

blog 2 open pores

Current aesthetic beliefs and practices around open pores:

Pore shrinking is a very common beauty service offered at beauty parlours and dermatologists’ practice. This service exists despite the fact that open pores are not a serious part of any dermatology text. There is also no clear cut acceptable research to show what causes their enlargement to take place.

Opinions among dermatologists vary about the origin of these open pores. Some believe that we are simply referring to old acne scars and pits as open pores. This is explained by the fact that every open pore contains the openings to several pilosebaceous ostia (pores). So what we call an open pore is simply the unevenness of skin.

blog 3 pitting
Dermatologists attached to beauty companies have a different take on this. Many beauty companies say that open pores are a natural result of skin cells being clogged with dead cells, sebum and cosmetic products. As the ostia are clogged by these toxins, the opening of the ostia widens to help the skin perform its excretory function properly. This explains the slowly expanding nature of the open pore.
blog 4 activated charcoal

Depending upon whose explanation you choose to believe, different kinds of beauty products and services are now available to tackle open pores.

For those who believe in the “clogged pore” theory, products and services designed to “unclog” skin exist. Hence you have exfoliating scrubs, toners, and foaming / non foaming face washes being sold with claim ingredients as varied as tea tree ,rosemary to activated charcoal.

For dermatologists who are still on the fence about the cause behind open pores, services to peel or sandpaper away the top layer of skin are the treatments of choice. Hence chemical peels and micro dermabrasion are suggested to literally sand paper the skin and remove its outer layer and encourage a new and smoother layer of skin to grow back.

blog 5 peel

The Ayurvedic point of view on open pores:

Let’s start with the most obvious point: Ayurveda does NOT have any point of view on open pores. What Ayurveda does have, is a very strong, well researched point of view on skin health, and several rational explanations to make us understand why our skin texture and nature changes with age. Ayurveda also focusses heavily on health of Srotas. Through various practices and products, Srotas are supposed to be kept pliable and clean in order to function well.

The Rise of Pitta dosha in middle age:

First, Ayurveda says that “pitta” strikes us at 2 phases in our life. The first is at puberty, when it is triggered by hormonal changes in the body. The second time Pitta strikes is in middle age (defined in Ayurveda and Siddha as the age between 30 – 60). The increase in Pitta in middle age is due to the increase in responsibilities that we face in this period, necessitating the gifts that enhanced Pitta dosha gives us.

blog post 6 teenage pitta
Pitta dosha is the dosha responsible for decisiveness, an ability to complete things, the ability to lead. In short the ability to lead your family, shoulder responsibilities, make financial decisions , plan your career, etc. When we enter Ayurvedic middle age, we throw away the carefree nature of childhood and become responsible . We get married, perhaps start a family, shoulder responsibilities for our parents, take charge of our careers, etc. It is therefore no wonder that we draw upon the qualities of Pitta dosha to see us through this time.

blog post 7 middle age

However, high use or over use of a dosha, leaves the body vulnerable to the effects of that particular dosha being aggravated. Also, as per Ayurveda, like attracts like. So when we are overusing a particular Dosha, we tend to aggravate it further by eating Pitta stimulating foods or doing Pitta increasing activities.

So in our Pitta phase of life, we may see ourselves gravitating towards sharp, spicy, tangy foods (Chinese hot and sour anyone?). We may also became more impatient, get stressed out more, and become less tolerant to things not proceeding as per our plan.

blog post 8 eating pitta
When this mixture of life phase, foods and behaviour all overload Pitta dosha, we see its effects on the way our body functions and the way our skin and hair looks.

Pitta aggravated skin and hair symptoms:

We have seen the basic nature of Pitta dosha before: Ayurveda terms Pitta dosha as “sara” or liquid, “teekshna” or intense, dravya (oily and spreading nature), foul smelling, hot and quick to spread.

If we interpret this in skin terms: we see that Pitta afflicted skin is oily, sweats easily, reacts quickly to disturbances in pitta (quick skin rash), is usually warm to touch or flushed looking, and can have a foul odour .

blog post 9 pitta skin
On hair and scalp we see something similar: pitta afflicted hair has an oily scalp, can sweat easily, and hair is usually prematurely grey, and has reddish tints in it naturally (like Agni / fire). Pitta aggravated hair thins easily especially in the parting and the hair is usually fine and not very thick.

blog post 10 pitta hair

How pitta aggravation enlarges and worsens open pores:

High pitta in the body dilates the blood vessels, and heats up skin. In this scenario, you will have a greater amount of sebum being secreted. This excessive sebum attracts the invasion of micro organisms. As they multiply, they fill the skin surface with debris and dead cells.

When pitta is aggravated, we are repetitively drawn to eating Pitta aggravating food. If you respond to this call and eat junk food, and sharp and spicy food, you are also reducing the body’s ability to metabolise food properly . As metabolism is impaired, there is an internal build up of Ama / toxins.

Oily food aggravates pitta dosha clogging pores from within

This internal toxin build up and external clogging affects Srotas at both ends. Without enough free space to perform their normal functions, they are forced to expand further resulting in larger and more visible open pores. The excess material in the srotas is ejected improperly onto skin in the form of whiteheads and black heads and acne.

This can make your scars and pits look larger, and generate a lot of excess material which should be removed gently from skin.

How is Pitta aggravated skin treated in Ayurveda?

All Ayurvedic skin and hair care starts with the right diet and regimen. So, there is no point in treating pitta aggravated skin without correcting the underlying diet or behaviors.

Once we have tackled the diet, and adopted the right lifestyle practices to control excess Pitta, we look at specific herbs and products that Ayurveda recommends for Pitta aggravated skin.

Pitta aggravated skin is treated extremely gently in Ayurveda. This is because pitta reactions start very fast and spread in an uncontrolled manner through the skin (imagine a forest fire raging out of control, and you will get this analogy). So Ayurvedic skin care for pitta problems (open pores, oiliness and acne) has a very gentle approach.

blog post 11 treat gently

Ayurvedic Srota cleansing

The original Ayurvedic equivalent of ostia is the Srota. We have seen how Srota are present all over skin and help in heat exchange, excretion of sweat and toxins and also produce minute amounts of sebum to help skin stay at the right pH and well moisturised. Ayurveda says it is critical to cleanse these Srotas properly to ensure they are debris and clog free and open to doing their job well. This cleansing has to be done WITHOUT drying out the srotas. When Srotas are dry, they do not expand and contract properly, so the skin’s job of toxin removal and heat regulation is not done properly.

Srotas have to be cleansed with the adsorption and pressure method as per Ayurveda. As Ayurveda says each Srota is like a tube, we have to scoop out debris and dirt from inside the tube (think of cleaning a slim plastic straw). Soaps and face washes use surfactants that only clean the opening of the srotas.  But, because of their drying nature, they also suck out moisture from skin. So the dirt and debris lodged in the srotas still remain and the srotas lose their elasticity.

So a mixture of grains and lentils and herbs that are ground and sifted to a very small particle size are used. By the gentle pressure they exert on the skin surface, the Srotas are encouraged to open up and dislodge dirt trapped inside. The cleansing base adheres to this dirt and excess sebum and sponges off the dirt and debris by skin.

As there is no surfactant use, there is no stripping of sebum from skin.

blog post 12 srota cleansing

Use of pitta balancing, cooling herbs

To counter excessive pitta, Ayurveda suggests using specific, pitta balancing herbs. These herbs counterbalance Pitta in the skin surface by using sweet and bitter qualities to pacify aggravated Pitta. Therefore herbs famously used for Pitta aggravated skin are Usheera (Vetiver), Chandana (Sandal), Sariva (Indian Sarsaparilla), Avartaki (Cassia auriculata), Bilwa, etc.

blog post 13 pitta balancing

These herbs counter the warm and hot nature of Pitta aggravated skin and bring a soothing, cooling effect on skin, besides balancing Pitta and improving the complexion.

Use of bitter, anti bacterial and anti fungal herbs

Because of the nature of Pitta to generate so much liquid (sweat and sebum), it tends to create an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.  Hence all Ayurvedic formulations for pitta prone skin use bitter, anti bacterial herbs to help keep invasive micro organisms out of skin. Obviously, these herbs do not work like standard synthetic anti bacterial ingredients like Triclosan do.

Instead, Ayurvedic herbs work along with the body’s microbiome layer and helps keep invading organisms out by boosting conditions for friendly organisms, and working on keeping out only harmful micro organisms. Most importantly, we do not develop resistance to anti bacterial herbs – like we often do to ingredients like Triclosan.

Some of these herbs include Nimba (Azadirachta indica), Bhui nimba (Kalmegh), Triphala (blend of 3 Ayurvedic fruits), Bakuchi (Psoralea cordifolia), etc.
blog post 14 bitters

Use of complexion improving and blemish correcting herbs

Ayurveda classifies many herbs as “Kantivardhaka” herbs, which means complexion improving. When we use the word Kanthi vardhaka, we mean something that is very different from “fairness”.

Ayurveda does not especially value “fair skin”. Skin is only measured for its health aspects and ability to function well. So smoothness, quality and evenness of complexion, etc are all ways of understanding the underlying balance of skin.

Kantivardhaka herbs work to improve micro circulation of the skin and boost cellular repair. They therefore promote an even skin tone, good texture and good elasticity in skin. Some of these herbs include Kushta , Punarnava , Durva, Ashwagandha, etc.

blog post 15 even out

Judicious use of skin balancing facial oils to maintain elasticity of Srotas :

Ayurveda suggests a 2 pronged approach to skin care. The first is cleansing with live, whole grains and herbs. This ensures the srotas are thorough cleaned and that skin is not stripped of its natural protective oils. The second is to augment the skin’s natural facial oils by a carefully prepared botanical oil.

An ayurvedic botanical oil judiciously adds nourishment to skin and srotas leaving teh skin system healthy, supple, elastic and well nourished.

When we apply herb, flower and fruit infused botanical oils on skin, we help improve the elasticity of the srotas. We also selectively encourage the growth of a healthy microbiome.  Balance and health are restored to skin.

To sum up:

We have discussed open pores, and seen the differences between how they are treated by Western Cosmetic ‘Science’ and Ayurveda.

Ayurveda focuses on holistic living and looks at the sum of everything an individual is doing to treat problems that may arise. Therefore, this post discussed how the right diet, right lifestyle practices combined with the right herbs and skin care routine can help look after pitta prone skin.

One of the biggest differences in how Ayurveda treats skin lies in the ayurvedic concept of Srotas. This post saw how Srota health = Skin health . We also discussed why Ayurveda recommends the use of special facial cleansers made of grains , lentils and herbs to cleanse and care for skin.

This is why chemical peels or microdermabrasion are not a long lasting holistic solution to open pores, breakouts and oily skin. Unless we tackle oily skin both internally and externally, we cannot reverse the appearance of oily pores or blemishes.

We hope this post gave you good insights into your skin and explained how to care for skin. Please do try the methods we have recommended to cleanse and care for oily, pitta-prone skin.

If you have any queries on the above, please write to us. 

Krya Products suggested for Pitta prakriti Skin :

Visibly reduce open pores, heal oily skin and improve skin functioning, appearance and texture:

 

 

Share

What your breakfast can tell you about your hair: Ayurvedic eating fundamentals

Share
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Millets have made a wonderful come back across India, with a lot of extensive research now available on the health benefits of various millets, the micro nutrients in the millets, and their satiety factor. It is no wonder that when we ask for diet charts from consumers who come to consult us on skin and hair, we see a preponderance of Millets among consumers who believe in eating healthy.

1.millets health fad

 

In most cases, we advice that these consumers cut back on Millets and we are met with major disappointment from the consumers end. Many of these people have been told that regular cereals of choice like rice and wheat are nutritionally poor and Millets are far better, healthier and good for them. Therefore, in their zeal to improve their health and their family’s health, these consumers completely ban conventional cereals in their home and substitute this with Millets.

 

Why do we advise against excessive consumption of Millets? How is this linked to good health, good skin and good hair? We will examine this in today’s post.

 

Basic Ayurvedic framework:

We have spoken extensively about the Ayurvedic framework behind health. So I am going to repeat this very briefly. We are all made up of 5 basic elements: these 5 basic elements combine to form 3 doshas (humours) in the body. The combination of these 3 doshas decides our prakriti / constitution.

2.basic ayurvedic framework

So if we have a predominance of fire, we would be called a Pitta prakriti. If we had a dominance of air and space, we would be called Vata Prakriti. A predominance of water and earth makes us a Kapha prakriti. We can also be combinations of 2 or even three doshas, with one dosha being more dominant over the other.

 

The importance of Vata dosha:

Vata dosha is a primary dosha to examine when we have dis-ease. Acharya Sushruta and Acharya Charaka say that 50% (or more) of human illnesses are due to the derangement of Vata dosha. Vata dosha becomes even more important for city dwellers, because the Ayurvedic texts say that cities are already high in Vata dosha. So for a city dweller, where the environment itself is high in vata dosha , it is very easy to have your own body’s vata dosha aggravated when improper food is taken or proper lifestyle practices are not followed.

3.city living vata

 

Whenever vata dosha is deranged, it also quickly helps derange the other 2 doshas as well. Therefore all Ayurvedic preventive healthcare looks at reining in vata dosha through external and internal means.

 

What happens when Vata dosha is aggravated?

Vata dosha is the dosha that brings in dryness, dullness, brittleness and pain, when it is aggravated. It is also the dosha that governs all movement, physical energy and a positive mental attitude. So whenever Vata dosha is impaired, we see extreme darkening of the skin, dryness and dullness of skin and hair, a tendency of the hair to break and get damaged easily.

4. dry hair

We also see joint aches and pains, a lack of energy, a feeling of tiredness, and improper digestion or constipation.

 

Why does Vata dosha get aggravated in a stressful job?

We have many consumers who work in IT and Finance where the job entails very long hours, being available on the phone for a long time, a long commute and uncertain eating hours. Vata dosha is the dosha that governs all mental activity and mental stimulation.

5.corporate life

Typically working with a laptop or a Smartphone excites and energises vata dosha. When this is compounded with a long commute, a cold air conditioned environment and uncertain eating timings, we have all the elements that can over stimulate vata dosha and push it over the edge.

 

How can my diet help control Vata Dosha?

Vata has 6 properties: roughness, dryness. Lightness, coldness, hardness, coarseness and non-sliminess. Ayurveda says that foods which have the same property as vata dosha are vata promoting in nature. So if your vata dosha is already high, eating vata promoting foods will aggravate vata dosha further.

 

Example 1: Millets

Ayurveda considers Millets dry, rough, coarse and slightly hard to digest compared to Rice and Wheat. Traditionally, Millets are sprouted, roasted and made into flour to make them easier to digest, or soaked, made into a liquid batter and fermented before eating. These are practices meant to make the millets easier to digest and to not put a strain on the digestion.

 

Millets are also in many areas consumed in cold season. For example certain kinds of millets are typical winter foods in Rajasthan and parts of Gujarat. This is because Ayurveda teaches us that digestive ability is extremely high in winter. This gives our body the power to digest even difficult to digest Millet preparations.

6.bajre ki roti

 

Specific millets are paired along with fermented foods like buttermilk and drunk in Summer  as a porridge in states like Tamilnadu and Karnataka. These millets are Kambu (Pearl Millet) and Ragi (Finger Millet). These millets are prepared as roasted and sprouted flour and then cooked into a thin porridge like consistency and then mixed with fermented buttermilk. The mixture is traditionally considered both satiating, cooling and easy to digest. However, it is always drunk in the morning., which is a time when digestion is much more stronger.

 

7.kambu kanji

 

In lifestyle diseases like Diabetes, Ayurveda says that the body is very high in kapha dosha (earth and water). Therefore foods given in this disease are mean to be light, rough and drying in order to balance the Kapha dosha. So here, Millets are a very good dietary substitute to conventional cereals.

 

If you do not fall into any of the above categories, and have simply substituted rice with millets, then you may be aggravating your vata dosha further. If you already have hair and skin dryness, brittleness and lack of healthy growth, then you should be consuming less millets and not more.

 

The safe way to include Millets in your diet is in moderation. Do not consume more than twice a week. Try and make millet preparations using flours or the fermentation technique to avoid straining your digestive system. Ensure that you eat Millets only as a warm preparation with plenty of ghee to reduce its vata aggravating properties.

 

Example 2: Dry breakfasts like Cereal, granola bars and Bread

Most of us have moved to the system of 3 meals a day with breakfast being the first meal of the day. A well cooked, well planned breakfast can give us a good jump start to the day. Similarly, a breakfast that aggravates one dosha can worsen its effects and make us feel worse.

 

Most working people opt for an instant, ready to eat breakfast as it saves times. However, breakfast foods like instant cereal, cornflakes, granola bars or even bread are considered very high in Vata dosha. This is because all these foods have the same property as Vata dosha: they are rough, cold, crisp, brittle, light and bind water (reducing its availability in the system).

8.breakfast cereal

 

Again, if you are already suffering from the effects of aggravated Vata dosha, it is far better to go for a freshly cooked, traditional Indian breakfast (upma, poha, idly, cheela, etc). If eating cereal, cornflakes, granola or breads are unavoidable, always follow these suggestions:

  • Eat vata aggravating foods warm. This somewhat brings down their Vata nature. Eating cereal with cold milk will only aggravate Vata.
  • Eat vata aggravating foods after making them soft in some manner. For example, bread can be buttered well and warmed, or ghee can be added. Cereal can be soaked for sometime in warm milk until it becomes slightly soggy before eating. Making the food soft brings down its Vata nature slightly.
  • Reduce the particle size of the food to make it easier to digest. So you can crumble the granola bar well and soak it in warm milk. Mashed and soft food is kinder on the stomach.
  • Add warm ghee to all vata aggravating food – this helps make it easier to digest and reduces its vata aggravating nature slightly.
  • Avoid making vata aggravating foods harder or crisper – so dry toast, crisps, or fried bread is not advised.

9.dry crisp foods

 

External oil application: the other Key to controlling Vata dosha

Apart from diet control, an Abhyanga is a key practice to controlling excess vata dosha. Regular Abhyanga atleast twice a week physically restrains vata dosha, brings all 3 doshas to the right balance and promotes harmony and good health.

10. oil application

With this practice, you will see visible effects of vata in balance: your skin and hair will be healthy, supple and well moisturised. Your energy levels will be high and consistent, your digestive ability will be good, and your physical fatigue will reduce dramatically.

 

Vata dosha’s primary seat is your skin. This is why external oil application is so helpful in controlling Vata dosha. Even if your vata aggravation is felt elsewhere (for example dry, brittle hair), an abhyanga on the body will help control the overall vata dosha and bring your hair back to health.

11.vata pacification

 

The Abhyanga is such a key health giving practice that the Acharyas have put the abhyanga in our Dinacharya list.  A practice that can be followed by anyone, irrespective of age or gender, every day for health and well being. Tuesdays and Fridays are prescribed Abhyanga days for Women and Wednesdays and Saturdays are prescribed Abhyanga days for Men. These days are prescribed if you are unable to find the time to do an Abhyanga every single day.

12.abhyanga days

 

An abhyanga must be done in a sesame based oil for the face and body. The oil should preferably use Vata reducing herbs that help balance Vata dosha and bring all 3 doshas back to balance.

13.krya abhyanga oil

 

To conclude:

We hope this post on controlling vata Dosha was both enlightening and useful for you. With the fragmentation and splintering of knowledge, we are often bombarded from all directions with health and wellness advice. Some of this may not be appropriate or right for us.

 

Ayurveda gives us a fantastic framework to understand both our constitution and determine what foods, practices and behaviours can give us health and well being. As a part of our work at Krya, we try and disseminate this information in an interesting and engaging manner. We continue to hold firmly onto our belief that the principles of Ayurveda are both timeless and relevant. We believe that Ayurveda alone holds the key to giving us a life of holistic health, harmony and well being.

 

We hope this post gave you a glimpse into the relevance that Ayurveda continues to hold for us. We also hope that the post gives you a new lens to look at your health and inspires you to take charge of your own health.

Share

Culture, stories, spirituality & ayurveda: celebrating the Divine feminine this Chaitra Navratri with sacred flowers

Share
Reading Time: 11 minutes

Today marks the start of several auspicious periods according to the Hindu calendar. Today is the Amavasya, or the New Moon day, which is a good time to start new activities. Today is also the day Gudi Padwa and Ugadi are celebrated across different parts of India to herald the New Year.

And today is also the first day of the 9 day Chaitra Navratri, a celebration of the 9 aspects of the divine Feminine. Therefore we thought it would be appropriate to do a short post on some of the sacred flowers in Ayurveda and how they are used in the worship of the divine Feminine.

 

The opportunities that sacred festivals give us:

To us, immersing ourselves in divinity and worship shows us the path to treat ourselves with reverence. When we decide to wake up at a specific time, bathe well and cook in an atmosphere of love and reverence and offer this food as Prasad, we show ourselves higher standards of living. Eventually these rituals become part of our life as we treat our lives with care and reverence, mirroring how we worship our deities every day.

1. everyday reverence

Apart from daily worship, festival times also give us a rare spiritual opportunity. The ancient texts tell us that when we worship at a common time or during a collective festival, the power of collective worship gives us access to a great deal of positive, spiritual and divine energy.

 

Worshipping the divine Feminine in the week:

At Krya, we advise a Tuesday and Friday abhyanga routine for Women. Friday is considered the day the Divine Feminine Energy is strongest in the week. We worship her in different forms like Devi Lakshmi, Devi Saraswathi, Maa Durga, Devi Meenakshi, etc.

2. abhyanga

To receive the divine feminine energy and invite the Goddess into your home, a Friday abhyanga by women is considered extremely auspicious – the benefits of this Abhyanga are twofold.

 

At a physical level, this abhyanga helps cleanse your body extremely thoroughly and activates the major srotas / channels within the skin. This aids release of toxins, and calms down vitiated doshas. Internally it also helps the working of the bones and joints, settles the stomach and leaves your body in a state of tridoshic balance.

On a spiritual level, the Friday abhyanga is said to increase the Sattvic energy in your body. This helps you attract the divine Sattvic energy of the divine Feminine and helps its manifestation in your home, workplace and in every area of your life.

 

 

Navratri: 9 days of worshipping the divine feminine, 4 times every year

Navratri means “9 nights” and is a period during which the Divine Feminine is said to be readily accessible to this world and is willing to grace our home if we invite her. Traditionally, the Navratri period falls 4 times in the Hindu year. Each Navratri falls at the beginning of a specific season as per the Hindu calendar.

The most popular Navratri is Sharad Navratri which is held in the Sharad / autumn season falling in September / October ,post monsoon season. This 9 day festival ends in Vijayadasami or Dusshera.

3.sharad navratri

 

The second Navratri celebrated in India is Chaitra Navratri which begins today. This 9 day worshipping of the divine Feminine ends in Rama Navami, which celebrates the birth of Lord Rama.

4.chaitra navami

 

The third Navratri period is Magh Navratri which is celebrated in winter in January – February. The fifth day of this Navratri festival is celebrated as Vasant Panchami where Goddess Saraswati is revered through music, poetry, different forms of art, and also kite flying.

5. basant panchami

 

The fourth Navratri period is Ashadh Navratri which marks the beginning of Monsoons in India in June – July.

 

Sacred Flowers to worship the Divine Feminine and their properties according to Ayurveda:

The Divine Feminine is revered in religions across the world. She is seen as the source of creativity, and in Hindu philosophy, metaphysical reality is considered a manifestation of the divine Feminine. Creation is considered the divine play of the Goddess and she is considered the fount of beauty, compassion, self realisation, love and protection.

6.divine feminine

We have written before about how Ayurveda and the use of herbs have deep cultural and religious symbolism. The worship of Gods and Goddesses, for example, involves the use of specific herbs that suit the divine energies attributed to these Gods and Goddesses.

Today, at the start of this 9 day Divine Feminine period, we will look at 3 sacred flowers that are used to worship the Divine Goddess and their medicinal properties

 

Sacred flowers in India and their Ayurvedic properties:

Japa (Hibiscus rosa sinensis) for Goddess Parvati:

The Tripurasundari ashtakam is a beautiful 8 stanza shloka to the Goddess Tripura Sundari and was composed by Acharya Adi Sankaracharya. The entire shloka is dedicated to Goddess Tripurasundari, the beauty of the 3 worlds and the consort of the Three Eyed One (Lord Shiva). One of the stanzas says this:

“Vidambhitha japa ruchim vikhacha chandra choodamanim,
Trilochana kudumbhineem tripurasundarim asraye “
In the paragraph above, Adi Sankara mentions that the Goddess likes the fully bloomed Japa flower. The Japa flower finds atleast 2 more mentions in this Shloka, which is of deep significance to students of Ayurveda.

7.japa

In Hindu religion, the Mother Goddess is considered the fount of expressive energy, the womb of the entire world and the Supreme One which gives form to thought. This creative force is represented as a rush of heat and energy which manifests in everything we see around us.

It is therefore no wonder that the divine heat of the Goddess is adorned with the cool red Japa flower, or the Hibiscus flower. The Japa flower is used to reduce and balance the Pitta energy of the Goddess.
8.japa for kalima
Many Mother Goddesses are worshipped with the Japa flower, especially the forms which are considered high in creative energy and the energy of destruction. For example, Goddess Kali in Kalighat Temple of Calcutta (one of the primary shaktipeeths in India) is also adorned with red Japa flower. Similarly, Goddess Tripura Sundari in Tripura, the playful Goddess of creation is also adorned with Japa flower.

Japa in Ayurveda:

Ayurveda considers Japa as a pre-eminent hair herb, and this is because of its pitta balancing property. Just like it is used to cool and balance the Mother Goddesses’ fiery creative energy, it is used in Ayurveda to soothe and cool the head and the scalp which are heated by the workings of the eyes and the brain.

Japa is used extensively in hair formulations as the head is considered one of the seats of Pitta.

In order for optimal working of the brain and the eyes, Ayurveda says that this region has to be kept cool (so you literally and figuratively maintain a cool head). Therefore oils meant for the head are always prepared with cooling and pitta balancing herbs like Japa, Bhringa, Mandukaparni, etc.

Japa in Krya

Japa goes into many of Krya’s Hair Oils, hair washes and hair masks, especially the products meant for pitta type hair. The Krya Classic hair range extensively uses Japa flower. Japa while cooling, is not suitable for use in body wash and oil formulations as it can trigger vata dosha.

9.japa in krya

 

Kamala (The Lotus) – Nelumbo nucifera for Goddess Mahalakshmi:

The lotus is associated with purity and beauty in Hinduism, Buddhism and in Ancient Egypt as well. Egyptian scholars associated the Lotus flower with re-birth as they observed that the flower closed at Night and re-opened its petals with the arrival of the sun.

10.kamala

 

In Hinduism, the Lotus is associated Goddess Lakshmi and her divine consort Maha Vishnu.

Acharya Adi Sankaracharya has composed a beautiful stotra called the Kanakadhara Stotram in praise of Mahalakshmi. Legend has it that Adi Sankaracharya was begging one day for alms. A poor woman who wanted to offer the young sanyasi some food, could find nothing in her home except an amla fruit. In her generosity, she gave this amla fruit to Adi Sankaracharya. Moved by her compassion, Adi Sankaracharya composed the Kanakadhara Stotram requesting Goddess Mahalakshmi to shower wealth on the generous woman.

Legend says that the single amla given generously away to this boy was converted by the Goddess Mahalakshmi into a shower of amlas made of pure gold that rained from the roof of the poor woman’s home.

11.kanakadhara stotra

Such is the generosity and compassion of Goddess Mahalakshmi who is moved when she sees similar qualities of generosity, compassion and sharing of wealth and food. It is said that rather than mantras and rituals, Goddess Mahalakshmi graces a home which is filled with a charitable attitude, soft speech and generous hearts.

Just like a lotus rises from the mud, Goddess Mahalakshmi is said to have risen from the Ocean of Nectar when it was churned by the auras and divas.  She is depicted sitting on a fully blossomed Lotus (Kamala), showering wealth, riches and prosperity with grace and compassion on all her devotees.

12. goddess lakshmi

 

Incidentally, the Amla (Phyllanthus emblica) is the favourite tree of Goddess Mahalakshmi, as is evident even in the Kanakadhara Stotram where she blesses her devotee with golden amlas.

 

Kamala in Ayurveda

Kamala is a revered flower in Ayurveda and is extensively used in pitta and rakta pitta disorders. It is considered nourishing and comforting to the dhatus and is said to relieve illusions, hallucinations, and physical and mental agony brought on by jwara (fevers).

Kamala is indicated in Ayurveda in thirst, burning sensation of the body, certain cardiac ailments, vomiting and unconsciousness. Flowers of the Kamala are considered diuretic, astringent and a cardio tonic.

 

 

Kamala in Krya

When available, Kamala goes into our specialised pitta formulations like the Krya Sensitive skin bodywash. This bodywash powder is used for skin conditions like acute dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis where there is severe itching and inflammation. Both these are indicative of pitta imbalance, so Kamala flower is used in this formulation.

 

Amla in Ayurveda and Krya:

Though not a flower, we have already mentioned how the Amla is associated with both Mahalakshmi and Mahavishnu. The Amla is a revered herb in Ayurveda and is used to balance all 3 doshas.

In Krya, Amla is used across our entire range of our skin and hair care formulations for its pitta pacifying, and rasayana (rejuvenative) and healing properties.

13.amla in krya

 

Palash (Butea monosperma )– for Goddess Saraswati:

Goddess Saraswati is the third facet of the divine Feminine in Hinduism. She is revered as the patron Goddess of learning, knowledge, music and the arts. Goddess Saraswati is known by many powerful synonyms in ancient Hindu Literature.

14.goddess saraswati

She is called “Brahmani” – the goddess with the power of Brahma, i.e. to create. She is also referred to as “Brahmi” which is the Goddess of all sciences. So a company like Krya owes its lineage to Goddess Saraswati. She is referred to as “Bharadi” which is the Goddess of History.

She is also referred to as both “Vani” and “Vachi” – the goddess who is the patron of both music and melodious speech or “vak”. Just like Goddess Mahalakshmi who believes in the flow of wealth through generosity and compassion, Goddess Saraswati indicates to us that true music and art flow from the sweetness of our daily speech.

15.music

 

Goddess Saraswati is also Varneshwari – the goddess of akshara or letters and Kavijihvagravasini – the Goddess who dwells in the tongue of poets.

The mount of Goddess Saraswati is the white Hamsa or the swan. In Hindu mythology, the Hamsa is said to be the bird when offered a mixture of milk and water is able to separate the milk from the mixture and drink it alone. Therefore, with the Hamsa as her vahana, the Goddess Saraswati symbolises the ability to discriminate and choose wisely.

16.hamsa

 

Palash flowers in Ayurveda and popular culture:

Just under a month ago India celebrated Holi. Today, Holi is a festival replete with commercial advertising and synthetic, toxic colours.

17.synthetic holi

 

Traditionally, Holi was an important cultural festival to mark the onset of spring. One of the meanings behind Holi was that the ritual symbolically depicted the dance and playfulness between Krishna and his Gopis.

18.radha holi

In Ayurveda, Holi was a festival that came just before the onset of summer. Summer is usually characterised by pitta based disorders like measles, chickenpox, etc. The traditional Holi gulal therefore used water based extracts of Palash, and other flowers which were designed to cool down excess pitta and keep skin infections at bay.

 

Palash is an important sacred flower in India. It is a favourite of Goddess Saraswati. It is commercially important because of its hardy wood and the resin exuded by the tree called Gum Kino. The flower itself is extremely pitta pacifying and helps prevent and cure pitta based eruptions like measles, prickly heat, chickenpox etc. It is soothing and healing on skin.

19.palash

 

Palash in Krya:

Happily, Krya will be shortly receiving its first shipment of wild harvested, pesticide free Palash flowers, just in time for our scorching summer season.

We plan to use Palash in our Classic and Anti Acne skin care formulations and also sparingly in our Moisture Plus and Sensitive skin formulations. Palash will also go into our hair colour range to see how it works in our reddish – brown series of natural hair colour.

20.coming soon to krya

 

The Sacred in the Everyday:

We hope this post gave you an appreciation of a few of the sacred flowers in Indian and Ayurvedic tradition and how these flowers are used to celebrate and worship different aspects of the Divine Feminine.

We have always seen the Krya Blog as a celebration of Ayurveda, Indian medicinal tradition and a place to discuss how we can safely and effectively care for ourselves and our families without resorting to the use of harmful and polluting synthetics.

Sacred festivals and spiritually charged times like Navratri always help us to re-focus our energies at Krya. we find that these times give us a new appreciation of what we are doing, help us appreciate the wonderful herbs, grains, lentils and flowers that we use even more, seek more divine energy as we make our products and help us re-affirm our commitment to what we are doing.

Often we are bogged down by the demands of our daily life and do not put proper care, attention and reverence into how we care for ourselves. We are tempted to skip our yoga practice, or postpone our abhyanga as we are late for work. Or we decide to open a packet of processed ready to eat noodles and eat this for dinner instead of lovingly cooking a meal for ourselves with real ingredients.

It is our hope that as you read this post, you are inspired to take the long-cut for yourself – and you develop a fresh appreciation for the Dinacharya that you need to do for yourself. Because when we worship the sacred and immerse ourselves into the divine, we carry a small part of that Divinity into us and everything we do.

A happy Chaitra Navratri to you from us at Krya.

 

Share

Ayurvedic Tejas – Krya Abhyanga Series

Share
Reading Time: 3 minutes

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within” – Maya Angelou

As I was writing my to-do list for the day, I glanced at the bottom of the page to see the quote which I have put up here.

The inner light is referred to as “Tejas” in the Ayurvedic texts, and the English translations of this word are extremely inadequate. So when the Charaka Samhita refers to an abhyanga increasing the “Tejas” in the body due to nourishment of all dhatus, an English translation would read, “An abhyanga increases the lustre in the body / improve the complexion”.

However Tejas is much much more than the external appearance of skin. Tejas has to do with an inner light and a feeling of well being when all the 3 doshas are balanced, and when the dhatus are well nourished eternally by the copious application of oil regularly through the abhyanga.

oct-19th-2016-blog-post-abhyanga-1

Different people report a different state of well being after an Abhyanga. People with a  predominantly vata based constitution report that their skin which is generally dry and itchy feels well moisturized, soft and nourished. Their joints feel supple and well oiled and they report feeling at peace, and able to bring in a strong amount of focus, and not as scattered as they usually would feel.

People with a predominantly pitta based constitution report feeling cooler as their eyes and skin release tremendous amounts of excess heat after an abhyanga. They feel less inclined to speak sharply or lose their temper and report feeling cool, calm and tranquil the whole day.

 

People with a predominantly kapha based constitution report feeling energetic and less sluggish and wide awake and focussed the whole day. They also report having a feeling of their internal blocks being cleared.

No matter what your dosha type is, what you will feel after a regular abhyanga is a feeling of well being. Your entre body feels light and strong – the texts describe this as the “vigour and energy of a lion in the forest”. Your skin flows with Tejas – one can only describe this as an inner light switched on in your body.

blog-post-10

The practice of an abhyanga followed by a Snana with herbs and grains is not supposed to be a once a year ritual. It is prescribed as a Dinacharya (daily ritual) that helps maintain good health. Even if it is not possible to follow an Abhyanga every single day, the texts prescribe 2 days every week to do an Abhyanga for Men and Women – these days are decided by their auspiciousness and the deities that govern these days. So Fridays, governed by Goddess Lakshmi are considered auspicious for an abhyanga and traditional Snana for Women. In addition Tuesdays are also considered auspicious for Women to take an Abhyanga and Snana.

Saturdays, the day governed by Lord Shani, is considered auspicious for Men to take an abhyanga and Snana. This is said to promote good health and longevity. In addition, Wednesdays are auspicious also for Men to do an abhyanga + Snana to promote the intellect.

In this way, the texts have ensured that we do an Abhyanga atleast twice a week to promote good health and well being.

If you have been looking at adopting good health giving routines , do start with the Abhyanga. Here are some Krya products / bath systems you could explore to make your Abhyanga special.

  1. Krya Abhyanga Oil with Vacha and Ashwagandha (for the bi-weekly abhyanga – dosha balancing, fatigue reducing oil)
  2. Krya Abhyanga Bath powders for Women & Men – classic, tradition-inspired Bath powder that is cleansing, toxin removing and refreshing on skin – perfect post Abhyanga
    1. Krya Abhyanga Bath powder for Women with Lotus Leaf & Lodhra
    2. Krya Abhyanga Bath powder for Men with Vetiver & Van Tulsi

 

 

Share

The Hullabaloo around Honey

Share
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Much of the wisdom of traditional medicine is found in our culture and mythology around us, so sometimes it is worth our while to simply open our eyes and observe what is going on around us.

We often receive queries asking for for clarifications on the use of honey and the science behind the warm water-lemon-honey drink. This drink has been doing the rounds for many years now and is a favourite forward sent on smartphones and WhatsApp groups and usually is one of the many tips circulated to lose weight and cleanse your bowels.

Honey in Ayurveda:

Honey is a very revered ingredient in Ayurveda and is used as a base in many medicinal formulations. Honey is used as an anupa in Ayurveda – an anupa is a fat or a liquid which is used to deliver the herbs in the medicine deep into the body. Honey is a very common anupa in Ayurveda as is Ghee. The Anupa used changes depending upon the nature of the disorder that is being worked on , and what dosha is vitiated.

Honey is , for example, used in kapha based disorders where its sharp, light and slightly astringent qualities are used to deliver bitter and spicy medicines that are used to dissolve mucous buildup.

The Raj Nighantu’s description of honey:

The Raj Nighantu written by Sri Narhari Pandit in the 17th Century AD is one of the treatises we consult to understand the medicinal properties of herbs. The Raj Nighantu lists 8 varieties of Madhu (honey). These differences arise from the different kinds of insects that collect it. It is important to note that Madhu can be collected by a large variety of insects by foraging through different kinds of flowers and grains. Depending on which kind of insect collects it and from what source, the honey’s properties differ.

For example, the Raj Nighantu describes “Arghyam Madhura” – this is collected by big sized bees with a sharp sting called “arghya” so the honey collected by them is “arghya madhu”. Arghya madhu is yellow in colour and is considered good for the eyes. It also reduces kapha and pitta dosha.

However Pauttikam Madhu is collected by yellow or yellowish red coloured bees called Puttika – The colour of this honey is described as being close to cow ghee. This honey is dry, hot and can lead to a burning sensation in the body and can also cause Rakta-pitta disorder.

Properties of different kinds of honey:

Ayurveda also documents the differences between old and new honey – old honey is said to be astringent and “lekhana” which means that it can be used along with a good exercise programme to regulate weight. However, new honey increases obesity in the body.

Similarly, the properties of ripe and unripe honey are also very different. Ripe honey enhances taste and bodily strength.

Unripe honey, while helping remove ama, also leads to emaciation or extreme weight loss. When this honey is eaten with hot substances or in the summer, it can very quickly increase pitta in the body.

What kind of honey have you been eating everyday?

The bottom line of all of the above is this: do you know what kind of insect was used to collect your honey? What flower did this insect eat? Is it old or new? Is it ripe or unripe?

If on the other hand you are buying a bottle of commercial honey of unknown provenance, it is likely that it is a blend of different kinds of honey. In which case it may have a mixture of old and new honey, ripe and unripe honey and honey from different kinds of insects.

You should therefore take extreme precautions around this honey – do not consume it every day as you are unsure of its properties. Definitely do not add it into any hot / warm substance as it could have a lot of unripe honey it could increase pitta.

Why honey should not be heated:

The other reason honey would not be added into any warm / hot food according to Ayurveda is also very practical. The honey bee itself makes honey by sipping nectar from different kinds of flowers. This is then combined along with its saliva and brought to the comb where it is mixed with the saliva plus nectar of thousands of other bees. So even when we consume honey from one source of insects, this is itself a combination or a blend from thousands of other insects.

tea-617279_1920

Do not heat honey or add it to warm liquids like tea

When honey is heated or added to a hot liquid / solid, the blended honey can break down to its individual components and we could be consuming nectar from unsuitable flowers which will be poisonous to the body. This is why we never add honey to tea or warm water or use it as part of the basting when we bake or grill vegetables / meat. It is not healthy and can be harmful.

Honey and Lemon in the Hindu religion: 

panchamruta-abhishekam

Panchamritam offering to Lord Muruga – picture credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/mynameisharsha/

Panchamritam is a neivedyam / prasadam offered to Lord Ayyappa & Lord Muruga and is sometimes used as part of the abhishekam for the Goddess. Panchamritam is a fresh offering and is never cooked – its primary base is honey into which other kinds of sugar, ghee and fruits are mixed in.

3204292611_ba6316fdba_z

Lemon and Chilli offering to the Shakti – picture credit – https://www.flickr.com/photos/meanestindian

All sour foods are considered high in Pitta. The Lemon is usually offered to the Mother Goddess as it is a symbol of her creative energy which is expressed as heat. The power of manifesting form from the formless is attributed to the Devi, and this process increases heat around the Devi. As a symbol of this heat, the lemon is offered to the Devi in the form of a garland or is stuck on her Trishul.

Why Krya does not recommend drinking hot water, lemon and honey in the morning:

If you are starting your day with a mixture of warm / hot water, honey and lemon, you are drinking a very unstable, potentially poisonous drink which is very high in pitta. This can increase your acid reflux and unsettle your doshas severely. It will also corrode the enamel of your teeth making your teeth sensitive to cold and sour foods. And yes, it will also speed up hair loss and balding. It will not help you with sustainable, healthy weight loss either.

If you are looking to help your elimination process, then plain warm water is very helpful after you have brushed your teeth. Ayurveda frowns upon eating or drinking anything before cleaning the oral cavity. If plain warm water is not exciting, you can boil your water with a single cardamom pod and then filter and drink it.

As with any other important quest, in the quest for health, well being or healthy hair and skin for health and well being, shortcuts do not exist. The next time someone tells you to skip the yoga / walk and drink hot water and lemon instead, show them this post. And keep walking.

A wonderful, real Friday to you – from us at Krya.

Share