5 ways to balance aggravated Vata dosha to heal dry hair and skin

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Do you have dry hair and dry skin? Are your bowel movements sluggish with a feeling of incompleteness? Do you have scanty periods? Is your hair generally rough and dry? You could be experienced dryness due to vata dosha aggravation. Read on for Ayurveda can help tackle both rough and dry hair and the underlying vata aggravation behind this.

We recently received a consultation request from a 36 year old lady, who was experiencing very high hair fall and hair dryness. From our investigation, we found 3 signs of high vata aggravation:

  • She found it difficult to fall asleep despite being very tired. In her email she said: “I toss and turn at night for nearly an hour before I fall asleep”.
  • She described her bowel movements as being sluggish and incomplete. The bowel movements felt hard , compacted and were difficult to pass out
  • She described her periods as being scanty and variable in their nature – so menstruation cycles varied from 29 days to 36 days every month

Nature of vata dosha and its role in the body

Vata is the most powerful dosha in our body – it governs the action of the other 2 doshas in our body as neither have mobility without vata. The 3 doshas in our body are made up of the pancha bhootas or the 5 basic elements – and vata is made up of air (vayu) + space(akash). This gives Vata dosha the quality of movement, lightness, swiftness and speed.

5 ways to control aggravated vata dosha: Vata dosha is powerful and a mobile dosha

All of are made up of a mixture of the 3 doshas. Naturally, for each of us, one or two doshas show pre-dominance making up our general character and determining our attitudes, behavior in situations and the kind of illnesses we are prone to, etc.

Apart from our basic dosha nature, the doshas in our body can increase or decrease depending upon what we eat, how we behave and how the environment around us changes.

Why does Vata dosha get aggravated easily in city people?

Acharya Charaka says that 50% of diseases occur due to aggravation of vata dosha. Vata aggravation is extremely high in cities. By their very nature and by the nature of our demanding jobs, there is a natural increase in vata in urban dwellers.

 5 ways to control aggravated vata dosha: CITY LIVING AGGRAVATES VATA

This is because we tend to travel long distances so we expose ourselves to high mobility and wind (both of which are components of vata), work late (again a characteristic of vata dosha), eat food which is high in vata (potatoes, bread and other baked goods, urad, cauliflower, cabbage, fried food), drink stimulating drinks like tea and coffee (which remove moisture and therefore increase vata).

Where does Vata aggravation show up in our body?

Vata governs all mobility and downward movements in the body. So if your back feels stiff, your knees crack or pop, or if your wrists tingle or hurt from excessively using your smartphone, then Vata has been over used and is hence aggravated.

Vata governs all downward movement. So for correct and regular bowel movement where the stools are not excessively dry or hard, and where the bowels are completely emptied in ONE shot, Vata needs to be at the optimal level.

So, if you have dry stools, a feeling of incomplete bowel movements, and the system does not do “its job” correctly, on time every day without external stimulants like coffee, then Vata is aggravated.

Similarly if you have scanty periods where timing is uncertain and there is a lot of variability in the cycle, your body is aggravated with too much Vata dosha.

Vata aggravation also shows up in the state of our hair, nails, skin and feet. Excessively cracked heels which do not respond to any form of moisturisation can be attributed to aggravated Vata dosha. Similarly chronically dry skin and hair can also be a result of vata aggravation. People who lose weight very quickly or find it very difficult to gain weight may also be naturally high in vata dosha.

 5 ways to control aggravated vata dosha: severely cracked heels is a sign of aggravated vata

Vata aggravated people find it difficult to get high quality , restful sleep. They either find it difficult to fall asleep, or do not stay in deep sleep for long – so they wake up feeling fatigued, run down and low on energy. This makes them choose stimulants like tea and coffee which are again high in Vata dosha, starting a vicious cycle.

What can aggravate Vata even if our prakriti is not high in Vata dosha?

Not everyone’s constitution is basically high in Vata dosha. Yet, we CONSTANTLY see symptoms of aggravated Vata at Krya. This is because all of us are doing certain things which are calculated to drive up Vata dosha in our bodies. What are these?

 5 ways to control aggravated vata dosha: excessive media usage aggravates vata

  • Chaotic days without a proper , regulated schedule of eating or sleeping – Vata thrives in chaotic environments. The more chaos you subject yourself to , the more Vata dosha is increased
  • Late nights with high media activity – Vata dosha aggravates during night time. So if you habitually work late or stay up late, you will be over using vata dosha
  • Eating foods which are high in Vata dosha: Ready to eat Noodles, Instant foods, Breads, breakfast cereal and vegetables like potatoes and cauliflower whichconsume a lot of oil, are deep fried and which are hard and crisp are high in Vata dosha. In times of stress, people tend to consume these foods preferentially over others. This in turn severely aggravates Vata dosha.

 5 ways to control aggravated vata dosha: Junk food aggravates vata

How to tackle aggravated vata dosha : Tackling dry skin & hair at the root cause

Vata is “rooksha” (dry), “laghu” (light) and “Sheetya” (cold) , “vishada” (non slimy), “khara”(coarse) and “Daruna” (instable).

Therefore, it is NO WONDER, that when Vata is aggravated, the very same symptoms are manifested at the level of the skin and the hair. So to permanently reverse this condition of dryness, we have to BRING DOWN Vata dosha from its current abnormally high level in the body. How do we do that?

5 point program to bring down aggravated Vata dosha and improve dry skin and hair:

  • FIRST, apply oil all over the body, especially in the primary vata seats (ears, abdomen, wrists, knees, joints, etc). This oil should be vata pacifying and should be applied WARM to counter the cold nature of Vata dosha. Oil Abhyanga traps scattered vata dosha and forces it back to its original place. For very high Vata, Abhyanga can be done DAILY. Else, twice or thrice a week. More abhyanga instructions can be found here.

 5 ways to control aggravated vata dosha: abhyanga controls aggravated vata dosha

  • Apply oil FREQUENTLY and REGULARLY on dry skin & hair. For chronically dry skin, we suggest twice a day application of Krya Moisture Plus skin oil. For hair, we have many options like Krya conditioning hair oil, Krya harmony hair oil, etc. Oil application has to be FREQUENT and REGULAR. This helps trap scattered vata dosha, nourish scalp and skin deeply and help proper, re-generative and correct skin and hair growth.

 5 ways to control aggravated vata dosha: Apply oil regularly and frequently

  • REGULATE your exposure to cold and dry winds carefully. Strong wind, cold air, long distance travel and office air conditioning all aggravate Vata . To control this impact, plus your ears and cover the head while travelling. Keep your body warm in cold temperatures by wearing layers of clothing and additional garments like a shawl for warmth. Layering of clothing is an extremely practical and effective way of controlling vata .

 

  • CUT DOWN on your use of electronic media especially post 6 pm. We have seen earlier posts on how use of smartphones and electronic media interferes with sleep patterns and excites Vata. So when vata dosha is aggravated, use of devices that stimulate it should be controlled.

 

  • MONITOR your diet – In times of stress, all of us gravitate towards vata aggravating food (pizzas, burgers, fries, cola, caffeine, etc). The more such foods are consumed, the more they throw our doshas out of balance and the more dry our hair and skin get. Read here for more insights on choosing the correct food for you.

To sum up:

All skin and hair issues are indicative of a deeper underlying imbalance. Ayurveda, therefore, treats at the root cause level. So even dry skin and dry hair are analyzed for what they truly represent: aggravated or imbalanced vata.

Skin and hair systems are not just important for aesthetic reasons. They are our early warning systems through which our body communicates with us and lets us know of underlying problems.

Chronically dry skin and hair point to deeply aggravated vata . Vata dosha is a critical dosha in our prakriti which governs many important functions. As it is the only dosha capable of movement, it also does the job of transporting the other 2 doshas where they are supposed to be. So when Vata is aggravated the functions of the other 2 doshas are also impaired.

City living easily and quickly aggravates Vata dosha. This post explored different aspects of how we can bring aggravated Vata dosha back to balance in easy, do-able ways.

If you have any questions on aggravated vata , or would like our advice , please write to us.

Krya products suggested to bring aggravated Vata dosha under control:

  • Krya Abhyanga Skin Oil : A traditionally formulated ayurvedic abhyanga oil designed to balance all 3 doshas. Can be used everyday.

  • Krya Women’s Ubtan and Men’s Ubtan : to completely cleanse skin and remove excess oil after an Abhyanga without drying, dehydrating or damaging Srotas of the Skin
  • Krya Moisture Plus Skin system (consists of Krya Moisture Plus skin Oil, Moisture plus face mask and Moisture plus Face wash) to help chronically dry skin

 

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Hair oiling – the ayurvedic secret to healthy hair growth and balance. Krya shares a testimonial and tells you how .

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Reading Time: 13 minutes

Sub: Miracle

Hello Preethi & team Krya,

I’m CM from Kerala. I hope you remember my earlier email to you on April 19th 2016. I had written that my hair was dry, frizzy, and was breaking very easily, especially when combing and washing the hair. I was facing a lot of hair loss and I also had severe itchiness on my scalp. I wanted to try your products and wanted to know if I should go for the anti dandruff treatment. Earlier I did a keratin treatment as per a hairstylist recommend to reduce breakage of hair, but it went a total disaster my hair become worse than before. I came to know about Krya a year after my Keratin treatment.))

Along with the product suggestions you asked to go through 2 links of the Krya blogs which explained how SLS and SLeS aggravated the hair and scalp and altered sebum production on hair causing dryness.  

This was a true eye opener for me and helped me find the root cause of my hair problems. On may 20, onwards my problems slowly started to reduce when I received Krya classic hair oil & Krya classic hair wash powder and I started to do  hot oil message once in a week with this .After that I went through a hair cut to remove my treated hair. I also started doing a hot oil massage in parlour with my classic hair oil of Krya just see the results, and I was thrilled with the results ( I’m like oh God my hair is back and I’m really feel grateful to use this product!)

And I know everyone believes in proof. So I’m attaching the pictures of my hair latest version after using Krya’s hair products. My hair has grown in the last few months, it is shiny, thick and healthy and my hair fall has greatly reduced. “CM, Thrissur, Kerala

 stencil.default

 

The myth of the shampoo: and no, it does not give you healthy hair

Unlike what synthetic shampoos tell you, using a shampoo and conditioner will not give you healthy or well nourished hair. The purpose of a hair wash product is to cleanse your hair of oil, dead cells and debris. This cleansing has to be done without altering the pH of the scalp and hair, without damaging the delicate cuticular structure of your hair, and without altering the working of your sebaceous glands.

However, time and again we have seen how this delicate balance of the hair and scalp is shattered repeatedly by the use of a synthetic shampoo. The primary surfactants in any synthetic shampoo (SLS and SLeS) are extremely harsh, synthetic degreasing agents developed for industrial cleaning.

1.SLS industrial degreaser

Here’s the crucial point here: even if you are buying a SLS free or sulphate free synthetic shampoo, you are still buying a shampoo whose primary ingredient is a commercial surfactant.

A commercial surfactant is designed to do one thing and one thing only – remove oil and remove dirt. By the nature of this format which is application plus immediately rinsing, it is untrue to expect any delivery of nutrition, health or well being.

2.shampoos - simple cleansers

 

Yet time and time again, all commercial shampoos tell you that you simply need to apply and rinse off for good hair health. In the short 5 – 10 minutes that you spend in the shower, with most of the shampoo’s composition being the synthetic surfactant, how are you supposed to satisfactorily give your hair this supposed health?

 

Yes, all of us buy into this shampoo hair health myth because of a single reason: silicones / artificial conditioning agents.

 

The irony is that silicones were first added to shampoos in order to smoothen out hair that was damaged by the harshness of shampoos. As shampoos started out being alkaline, they tampered with hair’s structure and caused damage in the cuticular structure leaving hair drier, frizzier and full of static. Silicones and other conditioning agents and pH adjusting agents were added to shampoo formulations to smoothen over these defects. Please note the use of the word “smoothen over” – the silicones do not heal or repair but simply added an artificial smooth layer over the damaged hair that mislead you into believing that your hair is actually healthy.

3. hogh hair gloss silicones

 

So when we begin washing and over washing our hair with a synthetic shampoo, our hair feels smooth and shiny because of the silicones in the shampoo. The hair also looks glossy for a while and we are fooled into believing that our hair is healthy and full of life.

Soon, the excessive oiliness on the scalp, the thinning of the hair, the fact that the hair breaks easily and the hairfall now make us understand that the smoothness and glossiness we were temporarily fooled by were just decoys – our hair is in real danger.

4. silicones hide teh truth

So if you are watching an advertisement that says that the latest shiny synthetic shampoo is fill of milk proteins, or essential oils, or natural extracts and is going to make your hair grow, switch off that television right away. You know better.

 

My hair stylist tells me not to use hair oil and go for a hair spa instead

Most consumers are aghast when we speak to them about the Krya hair oiling programme. We consider this an essential and indispensable step to hair health. As we have demonstrated in the paragraph above, a wash off product like a shampoo /hair wash cannot give you hair health simply by its transient nature. For long lasting hair and health benefits you need to use hair oil that is preferably left on for extended periods of time on your head.

 

Most of us have moved away from good hair oil. Oiled hair is no longer aesthetically appealing. Neither is long hair. We are also quite frankly addicted to the lure of hair shampooing because of the heavy scents, bubbles and the artificial silicones. And the temporary highs of frequent hair shampooing, and the look and feel of shampooed hair in the beginning leads us to believe that everything that was said about hair oiling is either over stated or a myth

5. the hair oiling horror story

This is further compounded by our time in beauty salons. Many of us have a fixed monthly routine where we spend time in a beauty salon. We learn to, over time, trust the recommendation of our favourite hair stylist, because we assume that they are much more experienced than us, and are, after all handling many any customers like ours – therefore we believe they have nothing but our hair’s health in mind when suggesting products for our head.

 

The simple fact of the matter is that most stylists have been trained by companies that manufacture hair products. Most of them have also experimented heavily with their hair as their profession demands it – most hair stylists learn on their hair and their colleagues’ hair first. This is true of hair colours, cuts, keratin treatments and hair spas. So as expected, their hair is usually in extremely bad shape.

 

The second fact is that employees of a salon are incentivised to promote products and services. Every month, the salon sets a target especially for high profit services like hair colouring, hair conditioning and hair smoothening treatments and hair spas. So a salon employee has a financial incentive to urge you to treat your hair to the latest hair spa or hair keratin treatment. And as they are trained by the company promoting these products and services, they are also under the assumption that these services are good for your hair, not damaging and that they will promote hair health.

6. hair advice

 

The multiple benefits of hair oiling – for hair growth and health

Ayurveda teaches us that hair oiling is an essential part of maintaining the body’s health and as a side benefit, ensuring the smooth health growth and care of health. Hair oiling in Ayurveda performs an extremely important function: to balance the pitta dosha generated by the workings of the brain and the eyes. As millions of neurons fire through our brain and we take in the sights of the world and process this information, pitta dosha helps us analyse this information and make intelligent sense of our day.

 

When pitta dosha aggravates in this area, it impairs the working of both the brain and eyes which are both made up of fatty tissue provided by kapha dosha. This is why Ayurveda advises that this heat generated, should constantly be kept in check to keep the body cool and ensure the doshas are always in a state of balance.

7. eyes seat of ushna

When heat goes out of balance in the hair, Ayurveda teaches us that there are a few definite consequences.

“Krodha shokha shrama kritah
Shariroh shama shiro gataha
Pittacha keshanu pachati balitha thena jayate” – Sushruta Samhita

Brief translation – “The pitta and ushna (internal heat) generated due to anger, grief and stress strike at the head (or hair root), resulting in premature greying of hair.”

 

This is why all Ayurvedic for premature greying have cooling herbs in them and are often made with either cow’s milk or goat’s milk which are considered cooling and tridoshic – an example of this kind of preparation is the Neelabhringadi tailam and also the Bhringamlakai tailam. Both are made with cow’s milk and/or goat’s milk.

The internal use of amla is also prescribed in premature greying as amla is a tridosha balancing herb.

9. amla

 

Several synthetic treatments that are now prescribed for the hair like keratin treatments and synthetic hair colour have a similar consequence – the chemicals used in the treatment increase ushna / heat in the body, so the hair suffers just like it would if pitta dosha is in excess.

 

Hair loses its natural pigmentation tending towards brown or red tones and then grey. Hair becomes rough, dry and brittle from the excessive heat, and hair starts to fall with poor regrowth as the doshas are out of balance.

 

When we reduce this ushna / heat generated in the head, we are not only able to balance the doshas, we are also able to effectively delay premature greying, control hair fall and hair breakage due to excessive heat and return the body to a state of health where hair begins to grow.

 

How does the Krya Classic hair system help you restore hair growth, reduce hair fall and delay premature greying

We started this post with a testimonial where we shared the magical transformation experienced by CM when she switched to the Krya Classic hair oil and hair ash. Are we selling magic here? Have we discovered a new Amazonian berry? The fountain of eternal youth?

NO!

We follow the basics as described by Ayurveda.

 

The head is prone to a quick increase in heat because of the activity of the brain and eyes. All of us are engaging our eyes and brains much more with the visual stimulation we subject ourselves to, use of smart phones, consumption of media, etc. Therefore it stands to reason that we are producing great deal of ushna / heat. This combined with the fact that we have all stopped oiling definitely means that this excess Ushna is going nowhere. It is sitting in our heads, unbalancing all our doshas and striking at our hair drying it with heat, turning its colour, making it dry and brittle and slowing down hair growth.

 

So the Krya Classic system, which we usually suggest for pitta related problems, is designed to remove this excess ushna.

 

The Krya Classic hair oil is a proprietary formulation that takes inspiration from the classic Bhringamlaki hair oil formulation in Ayurveda. Just like Bhringamlaki hair oil, the Krya Classic hair oil has been designed to reduce excess pitta and increase hair health, growth and strength. In this formulation, we use 9 classic hair rasayana herbs like Bhringaraj (which we harvest wild), Amla (organically cultivated), Moringa (organically cultivated), hibiscus (wild harvested), Curry Leaf (organically cultivated), Haritaki (wild harvested), Nutgrass (wild harvested).

The herbs used are known for their pitta reducing activity and promote deep rooted, strong hair growth. In addition, our consumers report that their hair feels much softer, healthier and smoother with regular use.

10.krya classic hair oil

 

Why is my regular non sticky hair oil not working? I am still seeing hairfall, hair greying and hair breakage!

We had recently written about an independent research conducted to test claims of popular hair oils in the market. A consumer panel had tested various brands of hair oils offered by reputed companies and had found that contrary to what they said in their advertising, most of these oils contained 60 – 92% by weight of simple Liquid Paraffin or Mineral Oil.

Mineral Oil is ubiquitous in cosmetic formulations of body oils, baby oils and hair oils in India. It is used extensively across moisturizers, sunscreens, lotions, body oils, baby oils and hair oils as it is colourless, has a thick consistency and is neutral in its colour and odour and is therefore able to easily take in a synthetic fragrance and colour and other additives.

A study published by the American Journal of Dermatology found that moisturizing creams containing mineral oil were tumorigenic when applied topically to UVB pre-treated high risk mice. These creams increased the rate at which tumours form.

Occupational exposure to mineral oils may occur among workers in automobile manufacturing, airplanes, steel products, screws, pipes and transformers, brass and aluminium production, engine repair, copper mining, and newspaper and commercial printing.

11. what your hair oil is hiding from you

 

The National Cancer Institute says that occupational exposure to untreated or lightly treated mineral oils is strongly associated with an increased risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer, particularly of the scrotum.

On scalp, mineral oil forms an occlusive barrier, and prevents the healthy interaction of the scalp with the environment. It also seals in dead cells, dirt and grime which could lead to blocked pores and toxin accumulation. Most importantly it does not penetrate the scalp or nourish it any manner.

 

How are Krya’s hair and skin oils processed? And how are they different from mineral oil based products?
Krya follows several important Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita, Sahasrayogam, Saranghadhara Samhita and Bhaisajya Ratnavalli to understand what classical Ayurvedic medicine prescribes is the right way to manufacture Ayurvedic oils for skin and hair. We also take inspiration from the kind of herbs suggested by the texts to work with different skin and hair types. However, our formulations are unique and are not the classical formulations from the text. We have developed our formulations through extensive research and understanding of new age hair and skin problems like hair damage due to synthetic colour, etc.

The 2 most important differences between a genuine Ayurvedic oil like Krya’s and a standard synthetic hair or skin oil that uses Mineral oil is the process followed and the selection and quantity used of base oils and herbs.

 

Sneha kalpana / paka method followed at Krya:
Sneha kalpana is a prescribed pharmaceutical process followed in Indian traditional medicine to prepare medicated oils or ghees from kalka (herbal pastes), Kwathas (infusions), Kashayas (decoctions) and Swarasa ( self expressed fresh herb juice) taken in specific proportions and heated in a particular way along with a mixture of oils or ghee. This method has been outlined in order to extract the active principles of each herb in the medium in which it best expresses its active ingredients.

 

Sneha Kalpana is a unique extraction process followed in Ayurveda. Through this process, the formulator aims to transfer aqueous and lipid soluble active principles of all the herbs and other raw material used into the oil.

 

So a genuine Ayurvedic oil will always use 3 components to make a herb enriched oil –
• Water based herb extracts like kwathas (mild infusions), kashayas (steeped , boiled and reduced decoctions) and Swarasa (self expressed juices from fresh plant parts)
• Thick granular herbal pastes or kalpa that are cooked in oil to extract the oil loving active principles
• Base oils
12. hair oils

 

Difference between medicated Sneha kalpana oil and the pure base oil :
The process of Sneha Kalpana alters the very nature of the base oil. Gingelly oil is often used across Krya’s formulations because of its vata reducing nature and also because it does not aggravate kapha. Gingelly oil is considered very good base oil for most skin and hair conditions, so many traditional formulations use this oil.

This oil is usually considered extremely strong, heavy and sticky to use on skin, but when processed in the Sneha kalpana method, the oil becomes much lighter, less sticky and is able to easily penetrate skin and hair without leaving a lot of oil or residue behind.

This however in no way means that Ayurvedic oil is as light as a mineral oil based product – it is not. However, it is much much lighter and more penetrative compared to the base oils themselves.

13.sneha kalpana process

 

The 5000 year old Ayurvedic secret to healthy hair and health

We have a secret at Krya. And this is why our formulations work so well. And it isn’t because we have invented something that no one has seen before. OR because we chanced upon a secret stash of ancient Himalayan scrolls which gave us the recipe for eternal youth.

 

Our secret is that we follow the basics. As outlined by Ayurveda.

 

And this secret is simple: if we remove the conditions that cause dis-orders, the body should return to a state of health.

 

So if we take away your synthetic shampoo, and replace it with a gentle, non invasive hairwash made entirely from herbs, add a rigorous regime of hair oiling with the best and most rasayana hair oil, and gently remind you to follow a balanced diet and regimen, then we have taken away the reasons that your hair went out of control in the first place.

 

This means that your hair will regain its health. It will stop breaking. And it will grow. Just like it did for CM of Kerala.

It is not magic. And it doesn’t have to be. Life is already magical. We just need to remove the blocks.


 

Krya’s range of hair care products for different kinds of hair and challenges:

  1. Krya Classic Hair nourishing system – useful if you have straight – wavy hair, are seeing premature greying, have hair that is fluctuating in its oiliness, and hair tends to be dry or break due to excess ushna / heat production

16.classic system

  1. Krya Conditioning Hair system – useful if you have wavy to curly hair that is inherently dry, and are seeing manifold issues of dryness like dull un-glossy hair, hair that has split ends, lots of static when you comb hair, and are facing issues of aggravated vata dosha

15.conditioning system

  1. Krya Anti Dandruff hair system – useful if you have large flaky, itchy dandruff which is persistent and nearly chronic, which could sometimes be accompanied with a fungal infection of the scalp

14.anti dandruff

  1. Krya Damage repair Hair system – useful if you have hair that has been persistently chemically treated – coloured frequently and regularly, has been permed / straightened or exposed to treatments like the Brazilian, Keratin, etc. This kind of hair is described as straw-like – is extremely coarse, ragged, dull and frizzy. This is the kind of hair that requires heavy application of silicon based conditioners to get it into any kind of manageable shape (and this is this way because of chemical damage and not its inherent nature)

9. Krya damage repair hair system

  1. Krya Intense Hair system – useful if you have medication and illness based hairfall.

7. Krya intense hair system

 

And there’s a 6th component to this – balancing pitta is also about controlling the heat generated through the rest of the body. Read more about how the Abhyanga can help you in this here.

 

 

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Worried about your post partum hairfall as a new Mom? Here are 5 Simple yet powerful Ayurvedic Ideas that can help you

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Reading Time: 7 minutes

Childbirth is a singularity event.

The birth of the Universe itself is treated as a singularity in the big bang hypothesis, where about 15 billion years ago, there was a point when there was no space or real time. From an infinitesimally small and infinitely dense point, the big bang happened causing the birth of the Universe.

1-singularity

The birth of a baby is a similarly a very singular event

In a very small period of time, the pregnant woman experiences a spectacular change to become a mother and enters the post partum phase. Since this is a very dramatic, extreme event, Ayurveda recognizes the need to treat the new born baby and mother also with extreme caution, attention and thoughtful detail.

This caution and detail is mentioned to protect the Mother and Baby from infectious disease, to allow their muscles and dhatus to fully recuperate from the ordeal of child birth and build strength, and to allow only positive energy to surround the young growing child.

For example, in the Ayurvedic pediatric texts, it is clearly mentioned that the new born baby can leave the home for the first time only after the 3rd / 4th month to be taken to the temple for a brief visit and then should avoid going outside the home till the completion of the first year. The visit outside is allowed at the stage when the neck does not require support. This is also the time when baby begins to respond to social stimuli and smile back, so a visit is encouraged at this time.

 

Understanding Vata Aggravation is the Key

From an Ayurvedic perspective, with the birth of the child and expulsion of placenta, a large empty space forms in the womb. The nature of vata dosha which is made up of Vayu (wind) and Akash (space) is to rush in to fill this gap left behind by the newly born baby.

The aggravation of Vata is heightened further by urban living as the very nature of city life is vata promoting. Long commutes, late nights, irregular meal times, highly processed foods, excessive cell & device usage and multi-tasking are all factors that aggravate Vata.

2-vata-aggravation

The key to putting together a good post partum care regimen for the new mother lies in this Ayurvedic understanding of the nature of Vata aggravation and the resultant management techniques.

The Ashtanga Hridayam defines Vata as dry, light, cool, rough and very mobile. To pacify aggravated Vata, the key Ayurvedic principles are :

Diet – Food which is warm, unctuous, freshly cooked. The use of ghee, rice , moong dal, milk , warming spices like pepper are highly recommended.

Regimen : Since Vata is mobile and agitated , a fixed daily routine for waking up, meals and sleep times controls Vata

Abhyanga – One of the seats of Vata is the skin. So the use of unctuous oils through a massage helps in removing excessive Vata and therefore this is a principal Ayurvedic tool to help in post-natal care.

 

The 5 Simple yet Powerful Ayurvedic Ideas for post partum care and health

If this very important concept of aggravated Vata is understood properly, it gives us a deep insight into the root causes of post partum hair  loss, dry skin , joint pains etc. While you can read in great depth about the Ayurvedic practices of post natal care on the Krya blog and more about the results of vata aggravation on a new mother and its effects on skin and hair, we have summarized below the top 5 simple yet powerful Ayurvedic ideas that should form part of an ideal post partum regimen

  1. Sequestration of mother & baby & Controlling travel : While this is a very good idea simply from the point of view of avoiding germs and infection for the newborn, it is also useful to control Vata. Travel and movement are Vata aggravating and simply eliminating all manner of discretionary travel, even short local trips, is an excellent starting point. For example , the new mother may wish to take a break and drive down to the supermarket to buy groceries. If there are clear symptoms of vata related disorders, then even this discretionary travel should be replaced with say, ordering groceries online, and say taking a short regular walk around your building. Regular western science cannot comprehend this very deep principle and only Ayurveda views travel as a cause for concern in Vata related disorders.

3-travel

 

  1. Daily Rhythms : The nature of Vata is mobile and agitated, so the discipline of fixed times for major activities like Abhyanga, bath, meal times and the time of going to bed provides a daily rhythm that can keep Vata in check. Even though to the new parents it may seem that their baby’s sleep and feed patterns are necessarily chaotic, it is still a worthwhile exercise to impose some sense of routine and rhythm for the mother. For example, her Abhyanga and bath times and her meal times can still be strictly monitored to ensure a sense of routine. Regularity, order and routine pacifies aggravated Vata dosha.

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  1. Abhyanga : We cannot overstate the importance of a regular Abhyanga in post-partum care. The use of warm, unctuous Ayurvedic skin oils balances Vata dosha which is coarse, rough, dry and light. In the abhyanga, special attention should be given to the abdominal area (for C Section moms, wait until the stitches are fully healed before attempting massage here), waist, lower back, joints ( wrist, knee & ankle) , the soles of the feet and the ears. These areas are the primary and secondary seats of Vayu and an abhyanga focused on these areas will help eliminate aggravated Vayu.  The Abhyanga will improve circulation and thereby repair minor soft tissue injuries, tone the abdominal and pelvic muscles and aid digestion. Please ensure the abhyanga is done with a warm, sesame based oil to help control Vata dosha. A simple pada-abhyanga (abhyanga for your feet alone) can help relieve exhaustion, tiredness and insomnia if done just before sleeping every night and is very useful for exhausted parents.

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An abhyanga is also vital for the young baby. If no help is available, this is something that can be done by the new Mother or the father and can be a very enjoyable activity for the parent and the child. If being done by the Mother, ensure her stitches are well healed and also ensure that she has had her abhyanga, bath and meal so that she is not tired when attending to the baby.

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  1. Vata-balancing diet : Reduce or eliminate following Vata-aggravating categories
    1. In vegetables avoid potato, peas, cauliflower, cabbage, beans and other “gassy” vegetables
    2. In lentils avoid / reduce all other lentils with the exception of split, yellow moong
    3. Avoid processed foods like Maida, bread , readymade cereal and colas
    4. Avoid diuretic drinks like tea and coffee

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Add the following nourishing foods like cows ghee and milk, aged rice, split moong dal, nourishing seasonal vegetables like squashes, beets and carrots. Use spices like cumin , pepper , dhania and turmeric and avoid chillies and other pitta aggravating foods

 

  1. Embrace Focus ( & avoid multi-tasking) – Ayurveda tells us that the nature of Vata is mobile and agitated , so the Vata constitution person moves around quickly, talks fast and multi-tasks. To pacify excess Vata, focusing on one task at a time, silence and present moment awareness are excellent tools. The practice of focus will help controlling the Vata aggravation faced by new mothers. Becoming a parent can be overwhelming and you may feel that there are literally a million things to do at any given moment. Remember that focusing on one thing at a time and doing whatever you do with focus and to the best of your capacity is good for you, your baby, your family and most importantly your doshas and health.

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We have been focusing on post partum Ayurvedic care over the last few posts as this is such an important piece of the puzzle to answer the high amount of hair loss that new mothers face today. Motherhood has indeed changed from ancient times when a Mother had access to high quality post natal care, rest. There was also a strong availability of traditional knowledge in the form of the older generation, and given that babies were born much earlier than they are today, mother and sometimes grandmothers were also available to provide physical care and attention to the new mother and baby.

This is no longer available for many of us. We live in cities. We are having babies much later than our mothers and grandmothers used to. Many of our Mothers are not as physically fit as the previous generation and because of the nuclearisation of our families, many of us do not have access to the traditional knowledge that our families used to have to let us know what should be done.

This is the reason behind focusing on this important topic and having many guest writers write for us on the Krya blog. Ayurvedic first principles are not difficult to follow and come with a lot of innate sense. It is our hope that if this knowledge were more widely available, new mothers can pick and choose what works for them and attempt to regain health using traditional, Ayurvedic first principles. You can choose as many or as few principles to start with. Adopting even one of these principles will lead to measurable changes in your health and well being. It is our experience that awareness and taking the first step are the hardest part of any health programme. Once you begin, the changes you will see for yourself will inspire you to keep going on this path.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post and also hope you were able to appreciate the difference in approach Krya follows when treating hair and skin problems. If you too are alarmed at your post partum hair fall and would like to consult us, do call us on 075500-89090 or write to us.

 

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Ayurvedic post natal care to strengthen, nourish and care for a new mother and a new born baby. Krya shares a first person account.

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The Krya blog has been speaking these last few days about different types of vata based disorders. The last few of our posts have been speaking in particular about post partum hair fall and related vata disorders and how the root cause of this can be traced to uncontrolled vata dosha because of a lack of proper post natal care that follows Ayurvedic principles.

As we have discussed earlier, Ayurveda opines that the birth of a child causes an imbalance in the body’s doshas as a large gap is created in the womb that was once occupied by the fetus and her placenta. The process of childbirth which is physically demanding and rigorous excites Vayu. Once Vayu is aroused, it is in its nature to rush in and occupy empty spaces and childbirth gives Vayu a large empty space to occupy.

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Traditional post natal practices therefore centre around nourishing, oil and ghee based warm food and regimens like abhyangas to remove fatigue, provide strength back to the body and reduce the likelihood of vayu rushing in and upsetting the body’s dosha balance.

Our posts on post partum health have led to a lot of enquiries on how mothers should be looked after post child birth for good health. So we are fortunate today to carry a piece written by Seetha Anand Vaidyam on the traditional post natal practices that were followed in her home for both her pregnancies.

Seetha is a holistic educator, remedial therapist and an author (a longer bio follows at the end of her piece). Along with her piece, we have also included textual references to the practices described wherever relevant to clearly establish that these time honored practices flow from Ayurvedic first principles.


Old is Gold,

I was always told,

This advice I followed,

Especially when lo behold!

The most precious being in my hands I hold.”

Seetha Anand Vaidyam

 Good news! You are pregnant!” — My Gynecologist told me. I was 22 years, I had been married for 2 months, I had gone for my check up alone and I was nervous. “What should I do Doctor… In terms of how should I take care, what foods should I be eating…anything I should bear in mind… ? “, I asked her in part shyness, part embarrassment and even fear. I wanted to have children and had planned it, but now that I was pregnant, I was nervous, especially since I was in a new city away from my own relatives.

“Just act as normal as you are. You can do all what you did … just be normal.” my doctor said to me. And I did try. Surely a blanket “be normal” is not the soundest of advice and this is something I re-learned in my research and working with children of different needs in later years.

Pregnancy is the time to begin the nourishment of the baby in-utero. Seldom are first time mothers aware of the extent of influence their lifestyle can have on the baby. Stress, sadness during pregnancy can be especially detrimental. Sadness brings a kind of constriction in the abdominal region for most people, (we use terms like stomach churning feelings etc.) This constriction, tension can damage the tender nerves and muscles of the fetus in-utero. Nothing, nothing but the well being of the baby is paramount in that period and for this the pregnant mother’s wellness of body, mind and soul is imperative.

blog-post-2-pregnancy-special-period Ayurvedic first principles:  from the Putrakamiya chapter of Ashtanga Samgraha of Acharya Vagbhatta

“Sattvaviseshakarani Punarmathapithrasvadyoganatharvarthnyah:  Shruthyaschabhikshanam

Swopachintah cha karma bhavathi Poorvabhayschethi”

 This can be roughly translated as: “ The factors that influence the mental makeup of a child are the mental traits, purity , behavior of the family, cleanliness and purity of parents, the sounds that the fetus hears, the sounds and vibrations the pregnant women hears, and the karmic effects of the past lives of the fetus”.

 

It is to be noted here that Acharya Vagbhatta says that the collective set of emotions, thoughts, feelings and the sensory stimuli offered by the external environment shapes the mental makeup of your child. In this context , a pregnant woman and her caregiver must evaluate the television she watches, songs she listens to, people she meets and books and newspapers she reads and ask herself if each of these influences are positive and useful for the growing child.

Fast forward … 9 months later I was in another city, my home city and I was now a mother of a new born! This time, both my mother and me nervously asked the doctor, what I should be fed, if we could follow our traditional post natal care at home (especially since my first delivery was a Cesarean section and my mother had no experience of that, she was very confused as to what should be done), if we could give the traditional “orai marundhu” to the new born etc. My obstetrician said something similar to my gynecologist in the other city: “Just give her normal foods, no massages, use simple baby soap for the baby, and just stick to mother’s milk and if the baby is not satisfied top feed!!!” And what was worse, she said, “Don’t come running to me if an infection develops in the baby due to use of traditional oils and powders!”

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Being from and married into a traditional family, the words of the Doctors were ignored with contempt. My mother and mother in law consulted each other and a few other elderly aunts and grandmothers and the plan for my massage and diet and that of my baby were chalked out.

My pregnancies are not something I relish writing about since till date I wish I had taken better care of my babies when they were inside me! I was in a new city, unaware, helpless and overwhelmed by so many things in my new life! But like they say no point in getting negative with regret. The post natal care that my mother lovingly provided me and my babies hopefully made up for most of my earlier shortcomings. I will share details of traditional post natal care based on my own experiences and observations.

Post natal care is extremely elaborate and specific in South India. Even in today’s times of hospital deliveries, many of the customs are followed.

 

The design of the New Mother and new born baby’s Chamber

The room where the new mother and baby are housed, is kept spic and span and fumigated with sambrani over a ‘kumiti’ or iron stove with coals. It is a well lit room but not overly bright or close to noises, the windows were closed by dusk. The room is kept very warm and cozy. The room is protected from strong sensory stimuli such a smell, sound and light.

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Ayurvedic first principles:  from the Balopacaraniya (care of new born child) chapter of Ashtanga Samgraha of Acharya Vagbhatta

“The chamber that holds the new born baby and recovering Mother should be architecturally beautiful, equipped with all necessary materials, should not have too much wind, and should have only soft wind blowing from the east. The room should be entered only by a few elderly women and physicians and should be free from bedbugs, mice, mosquitoes and other vermin. The room should not be too dark, or too bright. The cradle, bed, and bed sheets should be clean, well washed, unwrinkled, soft and fumigated with rakshoghna drugs.

 

It is important to note again, that Acharya Vagbhatta specifies that the baby’s nursery should have restricted entry with good cleanliness and fumigation using certain drugs. This helps prevent infections as Ayurveda considers that both a new mother and the baby have low immunity and depleted strength. The mention of controlling wind in the nursery is also a point to be noted – this is because Vayu (air) is already considered high in the mother post delivery. So additional Vayu is not to be allowed in as a strong breeze. Ayurveda actually classifies wind as having different properties depending upon the direction from which it blows!

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Clothing

Both the mother and baby are given soft cottons, often used clothes. New clothes for the baby are actually discouraged. Often old cotton dhotis and saris are converted into “jablas” /tie string tops and diapers. The diapers from the first day of the baby made from old saris or dhotis are thrown away and not washed. Later they are rinsed and then soaked in hot water with herbal powders, brushed, washed and dried in the sun. Care is taken not to have them washed by unmarried, young persons who may have an aversion for tending to soiled clothes.

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Even the repulsive feelings that a person may have for the soiled clothes were considered strong enough to harm the tender baby. Such was the extent of sensitivity towards the new born! And of course the new mother was forbidden from wetting her hands or staying near moist areas. She was considered to be in a delicate physical state and vulnerable to colds and infections after the hard task of child birth. If the delivery happened during monsoons, the washed napkins were dried indoors but were further dried on top of sambrani fumes that were covered with a metal rice sieve.

Ayurvedic first principles:  from the Balopacaraniya (care of new born child) chapter of Ashtanga Samgraha of Acharya Vagbhatta

“Fumigation of the nursery and the linen and bedding of the mother and child should be done with guggulu and other rakshoghna resins which are mentioned in the prescribed texts. The child and mother should also be adorned with small bundles of herbs like Vacha, and other rakshoghna herbs to ward off the evil eye and deter krimi and germs”.

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Negative energy and the warding off this are addressed with a great deal of care across Ayurvedic texts including the Ashtanga Samgraha. The use of specific herbs, chanting of mantras and specific stotras, prayer, and restricted access to the new Mother and baby helps protect both and helps them conserve their spiritual energy.

 The mother and baby are kept warm, ears of the mother are covered with cotton, and the mother’s waist is bound by a folded sari tightly so that the sagging belly after delivery is held tightly. I went through this procedure after both my deliveries, the first being cesarean while my second was normal delivery. The baby’s head and ears are well covered, feet are protected with socks.blog-post-7-covered-ears

Ayurvedic first principles: the procedure described by Seetha above to cover the ears, feet and bind the stomach of the New mother all flow from the principle of correcting excess Vayu. The ears and feet are the seat of Vata dosha, so it is kept covered in both Mother and Baby to prevent entry of excess Vayu.  The space in the stomach is kept physically restrained in the Mother to restrict the space available for Vayu to rush in and fill the now empty womb.

 

Daily Rhythms of a post natal home

A post natal house functioned like clockwork. Sleep, wake, bath, meal, visitor timings were all strictly followed. It is considered healthy for babies to wake up early. Lactating mothers need as much rest as possible and new born babies sleep long hours and need frequent feeds. Child birth is considered to be a tiring effort sapping the mother of energy and certain essential nutrition.

Therefore apart from the special diet given, the daily rhythms or routines were sacrosanct since they also build up the etheric forces/ life forces of the mother which tend to get weak during the birthing process. The baby is tender and depends immensely on a precise rhythm to build its body clock and bio rhythms. Today modern medicine talks so much about the connection between health and bio rhythms, which traditional wisdom always believed was sacred.

 

Visitors and Outings for the Newborn and Mother

Visiting new borns and new mothers was highly restricted. Only certain inmates of the house entered the room. Relatives and friends from outside were allowed for one day on the 11th day after birth where the child is given a formal bath and placed on a cradle and the naming ceremony is carried out. After the completion of the function, restrictions continue and visitors are not encouraged.

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Ayurvedic first principles: from the Balopacaraniya (care of new born child) chapter of Ashtanga Samgraha of Acharya Vagbhatta

“Shoorairayodhibheergupathmadrashyam nagaram paraiha

Yatha shishovarpurathdhwagatho thaovirddhibhigrahaiha”

 

“Just like a city is protected from enemies by brave men with suitable weapons, similarly the body of a child must be protected from different kinds of invaders / evil spirits using appropriate methods”

 

This is the concluding verse in the Balopacaraniya chapter which brings together the point behind all of the prescriptions of newborn and maternal care in Ayurveda. Every single ritual prescribed is done with the view of protecting the health of the child and mother – the care given post child birth to the Mother and in the first year of the child are seen as critical for establishing the lifelong health patterns of the Mother and Child.

After 30 days, a visit is made by the new born and the new mother to a nearby temple. The child is brought outside the room to sit in a place where the evening sunlight falls. By the end of the second month the child is allowed to be placed in the other rooms of the house. The mother is still not very active and is confined to feeding the baby, in some cases bathing and changing diapers, folding clothes. Physically exerting activities are not carried out by the mother.

 

Massage and Bathing Rituals

Nothing is discussed, prepared for and spoken about as much as massage rituals in a post natal household!!! In some houses a masseur is appointed these days, but traditionally the mother or grandmothers who were usually in a fit condition bathed the new mother and the new born baby.

 

Cold pressed Sesame oil or Coconut oil was used for the massage. While the baby received a full body and head oil massage every day after the 11th day of birth, the mother received an oil massage for the body everyday and head oil massage every alternate day. After the 11th day of giving birth. The mother’s body oil was mixed with generous amounts of kasturi manjal and especially rubbed well on the waist, feet, elbows and face.

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This everyday oil massage of the body helped prevent dryness and itchiness that result after delivery. In case of girl babies too turmeric was added to the body oil. Massaging around the navel area for both mothers and babies was regarded important and also on the area on top of the head where there is a slight depression, considered to be the crown / sahasrara chakra.

Ayurvedic first principles: from the Balopacaraniya (care of new born child) chapter of Ashtanga Samgraha of Acharya Vagbhatta

“An abhyanga with a special herb infused oil should be done every day. Medicated oil prepared, with herbs like Bala, Chandana, Kushta, Ashwagandha, Eranda, Tila and other herbs is ideal for massage. “

 There is a special emphasis on muscle and dhatu nourishment and growth and vata reduction given in Ayurveda which percolates the philosophy behind formulating abhyanga oils for babies and new Mothers. As we have discussed before herbs like Bala are extremely useful in balancing excess pitta and vata and are extremely nourishing and helpful in building muscle mass and relieving fatigue and tiredness. Ashwagandha is excellent for skin and also helps with inflammatory conditions that the Mother could face.

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 Tila as mentioned as the oil of choice here and this is different from what has been practiced in Seetha’s home. We must be cognizant here of regional differences and modifications in Ayurvedic practices depending upon the geography and climate. Being hot and humid, Ayurvedic practices in Kerala have traditionally adopted coconut oil as the base oil of choice. However, to control the kapha promoting nature of coconut oil, the oil is usually prepared with certain warming herbs and spices to control any kapha based excesses.

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The oil for the baby was prepared at home by my mother. She would grate enormous amounts of coconut and then extract milk from it, this was gently heated till oil emerged from it. ‘Venda Velichennai’ or virgin coconut oil thus got was carefully stored in glass bottles or ceramic ‘baranis’/’jadis’. This oil smelled like ghee and was prepared in a kind of secrecy away from the eyes of all so as to avoid any feelings of greed or lust for the oil. It is amazing how the new born was protected even from negative thoughts and feelings. Such was the reverence for a new life in the olden days. This is now considered as discrimination and blind belief. Thoughts and feelings produce energies and babies are very sensitive to energies.

The entire bath water was heated and then allowed to cool down a wee bit before being used (cold water was never added to make the hot water tolerably warm) And of course in the days of yore, copper boilers or cauldrons were used to heat water over firewood and coal.

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Ayurvedic first principles:

 Acharya Vagbhatta and Acharya Charaka recommend bathing the baby and the mother with water which has been boiled with Jivaniya herbs (restorative and vitalizing herbs). Some of these herbs include Mahameda, Kakoli, etc.

 The purpose of using Jivaniya herbs is to restore Prana to the tissues, promote the longevity and health of all the dhatus and promote deep nourishment.

 

New born mothers and babies thus massaged and bathed glowed with soft and well moisturized skin. Especially mothers and girl babies looked golden due to the application of turmeric. Hair of new born mothers under such care generally became lustrous and thick and abundant. At least for the first three months when she gets maximum personal care pampering!!

Soaps were a strict no no! A Bath powder for babies was made with moong dal/ channa dal while for mothers vasanai podi or ubtans were made at home with various herbs and lentils. Hair wash powders for the mothers were also made at home with Shikakai, karsalanganni, ponnanganni, hibiscus flowers and leaves, lime peels, fenugreek, curry leaves, many other flowers, leaves, seeds, seed pods — which were all cover dried in the sun and powdered. These powders and oils were sent with the new mother when after a period of 3 months she returned to her in laws and husband.

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After bath babies and mothers were well dried and gently warmed with sambrani fumes. Kajal or kann mai was the only cosmetic item that was allowed. This was applied even to the eyes of boy babies and their forehead marked with a dot/bindi/tilakam. In order that the bindi/ tilakam/ pottu did not smudge, a bit of vibuthi that was again home made with cow dung ash was rubbed slightly over it. Thus there was no need for any chemicals in body care. This not only ensured glowing skin but also made sure that there was adequate probiotic microbial activity in the body which is the foundation of immunity and health.

The fragrance emanating from new born babies and mothers under such a personal care regimen has to be experienced to understand the value of such homemade, pure, chemical free personal care products. My mother’s sister sent me home made kann mai made from castor oil, pachcha kalpooram, nadyaravattai flower extracts. It smelled good and brought a refreshing tingling in the eyes when applied.

Ayurvedic first principles: the use of herb enhanced collyrium

Collyrium / Kajal is an Ayurvedic medicine and is so much more than a regular cosmetic product. It has been designed to protect the eyes which are an important secondary seat of Pitta by reducing excess Pitta. As the eyes are also made up of kapha based fatty substances, the use of herb infused Kajal helps the healthy removal of fat based toxins from the eyes .

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 Rasajnana is a famous Ayurvedic extract made from Daruharidra, which is used in Ayurvedic Kajal. Rasanjana when prepared properly helps promote the dislodging of kleshma (fat based toxins) by triggering a watering reaction in the eyes.

Diet

While babies were strictly only fed mother’s milk, they got just a dash of ‘orai marundhu’ which was a mixture of a set of seeds/herbs, gold etc which were rubbed on a stone along with a drop of mother’s milk and applied to the baby’s tongue. Babies were fed in a private area and a serene silence was maintained during the baby’s feeding time.

In case baby is taking very short feeds and falling asleep only to wake again very soon for another feed, the mother is advised to caress the ear lobes gently. I was given this advice too and I found that the baby sucked for longer when I did this!!! Babies were fed with solely mother’s milk for upto 10 months and were fed mother’s milk in addition to other foods even after the first year. Some scriptures and ancient texts indicate that mother’s milk was given till the fall of, milk teeth. With changing times, consciousness changed and priorities changed.

Children lost their dreaminess, unconscious behavior and innocence prematurely. So as a result, it was considered embarrassing to feed children with mother milk once they became conscious. Mother’s milk is loaded with microbes and lauric acid. This helps the growth of beneficial gut bacteria which are the essentials of a strong immunity system in the body.

The first thing a new mother is given to eat is a ‘legyam’ again home made with so many different heat inducing herbs, spices, lemon, ginger, ghee etc. A gooseberry sized ball of this is given in empty stomach. This is a decongestant, anti inflammatory and digestive. The beneficial properties of this is passed to the baby through the mother’s milk.

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Babies and mother’s are especially hungry after a laborious bath!! So usually the mother’s were fed while the baby is being bathed so that they are not hungry while feeding the baby. Bathing soon after a meal/feed for anyone was absolutely forbidden.

Ayurvedic first principles: from the Balopacaraniya (care of new born child) chapter of Ashtanga Samgraha of Acharya Vagbhatta

 “A child should not be fed with the breast milk of the women who is hungry, grief stricken, tired, exhausted, angry, whose tissues are diseased, who is pregnant, or who is indulging in unhealthy foods”.

 Ayurveda is very particular about the health of the mother as this science recognizes the deep spiritual, mental, emotional and physical connection between the Mother and her baby. By nurturing the Dauhridini (pregnant woman) from the stage of pregnancy, keeping in her in good spirits and providing her loving emotional and physical care post child birth, Ayurveda ensures the baby too is well looked after and has the chance to develop well.

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 Many of us have seen tired, exhausted and depressed or even hungry modern mothers tending to their children’s needs. This is not a healthy practice and you are not supposed to sacrifice your well being for that of your child. Ayurveda recognizes that only if you are nourished and healthy, can you give your child the right environment to be nourished and healthy as well.

Mother’s diet consisted of short frequent meals. Parboiled rice was given preference since it is easier to digest. Tuvar dal and channa dal were avoided since they induce vata or gas. Moong dal was given in limited quantities. Lots of iron rich curry leaves, drumstick leaves, bean varieties, perandai or bone setter thogayal that is rich in calcium, dried sundaikkai or thai brinjal, manathangalikkai which had properties of healing wounds and ulcers were included every day. Gourds were by and large avoided, so were brinjals, potatoes, sweet potatoes etc. In short gas producing foods were avoided. Pepper was the preferred spice and chilies were avoided or minimized.

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Betel leaves were given at the end of the meal and even in the evening to aid digestion and bring down acidity.  Ginger was another spice that was used every day. Coolants and cold foods were completely avoided. Ghee was served generously. Water was given in restricted amounts. The use of tamarind was restricted. Peanuts were avoided. Bananas especially the nendram variety was given to satiate odd time hungers. Par boiled rice gruel/ puzhungal arisi kanji with salted narthangai or salted lemon pickle were given. The baby’s stools were an indicator of whether the diet of the mother was suiting the baby. Greenish or whitish yellow stools were considered not healthy and immediately changes were made in the mother’s diet. Curds were not given.

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The practice of giving white bread, certain types of vegetables, etc might have crept in during the in-between period. What are truly traditional needs to be understood. After the entry of the Britishers in 1600 A.D., many traditional customs were modified. Cropping patterns were altered. Grains traditionally grown were discontinued and certain foreign ones introduced. Therefore even what has been practiced for 400 odd years may not be truly traditional!

 

Ayurvedic first principles – a healthy post partum diet

All the Ayurvedic texts that refer to kaumarabhrityam (gynecology, obstetrics and child care) have given special importance to the pathiyam diet that is given both to the pregnant woman and the recovering Mother.

 The purpose of the diet in each stage is different – in the pregnant woman the diet is meant to be nourishing, full of good fats and cooling. The diet is supposed to nurture the fetus at every stage of the development and not cause any ama or toxic residue in the body.

 The pathiyam post partum diet has a different purpose. The food is meant to nourish all the dhatus of the woman which may be depleted following child birth. It is also supposed to ensure that the breast milk is full of the nutrients required by the growing child. The food is sweet (madhura) and kapha promoting in nature to build the dhatus and nourish the tissues.

 The food is also cooked so that excess pitta and vata is controlled. So the vegetable and cereal selection is quite deliberate.

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The time immediately after delivery is usually an extremely restricted diet. It is high in nourishing liquids like milk cooked with galactologue herbs and ghee. Cleansing mixtures like panchakavya is also used to stimulate digestion, remove ama and toxins form the body as these may pass onto the baby through the breast milk.

 Post the first 15 days / month 1, the recovering Mother is put on a more solid diet. A very careful selection of lentils is given – if the Vaidya feels that vata is high, she may be advised a diet without any lentil except Mung dal and not lentil based vegetables like beans. Hard, difficult to digest lentils like peas, rajma, channa are usually restricted.

 Ghee is key to the pathiyam diet to promote adequate digestion, keep the body in a tridoshic state and reduce vata dosha. Warming spices like Maricha (black pepper), Sunthi (ginger) and Jiraka (Cumin) are also liberally used in the food to expel wind, promote digestion and cleanse the respiratory passages of mucous if present.

 

General atmosphere in a post-natal home

Care was taken to avoid overwhelming sensory stimuli. Noise levels were restricted. Loud noises which would startle a sleeping baby or disturb the deep sleep of a new mother whose sleep depended on her child’s sleep were consciously avoided. Very often grandmothers or elderly members of the house or the new mother would sing lullabies and other specific baby songs.

The entry of too many visitors as mentioned earlier was avoided. In some communities, the inmates of the house where a baby is born would also not go to other houses for a period of 30 days. This was like a quarantine that was observed. The close relatives of the new born could not even attend functions and festival celebrations for a period of 30 days after the birth of the child in their family.

Feeding time of the mother is considered sacrosanct. The mother is advised to be calm while feeding the baby since the babies are tender in every way and would be affected by any physical, emotional or mental disturbances around them.

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A post natal care household was full of busy activity — preparing bath oils, powders, fresh legyam, meals, fumigation, washing clothes etc. So there was no time for gossip or idleness. Today we hear so much about post natal depression and mood swings. In a traditional home, where so much activity is going on there is so much to observe and participate, to absorb and learn that one does not get the time to become depressed. Moreover the food given is so carefully chosen that it balances hormones and leads to emotional stability.

At the end of 3 months and in much earlier times after 5 months, the new mother left the luxurious pampering in her mother’s house and returned to her in-laws and husband.

Even then till the baby turned one year old, that is till the mother is lactating, she was not allowed to cook or go into the kitchen since the heat from the kitchen fires might interfere in the lactation. Mother’s milk was considered to be ‘oushadam’ or medicine and hence every measure was taken to safeguard it. New mothers were pampered, nourished and their motherhood and the baby’s childhood were cherished.

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The changing patterns of motherhood

In course of time life became fast paced and therefore roles changed and so have health and fitness. Stamina and stress do not go hand in hand. The elders in the family can no longer perform all the chores required of them during the birth of their grandchildren, mothers are not relaxed enough to lead life on a slow track for a certain period of time. Ambitiousness, restlessness, changed priorities have all resulted in the lack of reverence for the new born and the new mother.

The rise of full time working mothers with limited maternity holidays, emergence of packaged baby feeds, over exposure of children to excessive sensory stimuli prematurely — have all resulted in weakened bodies, minds and souls — of mothers and their babies!!

I hope this article helps in reviving the due reverence for the new born and the new mother. I hope at least some aspects of post natal care can be incorporated if not all.


seetha-anand-vaidyam-krya-blog-author-profileAbout the Author:

Seetha Anand Vaidyam, works through Ananda Foundation for Holistic and Healthy Learning & Living. Ananda, through its 3 wings — Learn to Move & Move to Learn; Plate to Planet and Art of the Hearts — offers hands on workshops, talks and one on one counseling sessions on Early Childhood, Remedial Therapy, Sustainable Living and Holistic Wellness across India and abroad. Seetha has authored ‘ “Good” Food — a guide to right cooking and eating’ which has 2 editions and 1 reprint to its credit. She can be reached at seethaanand@yahoo.com .

 


Krya would like to thank Seetha Anand Vaidyam for her generous, authentic and detailed piece on traditional post natal care today. This very important tradition of nourishing the mother and caring for her mental, emotional and physical well being which used be such an important part of Indian culture is fast disappearing today.

We hope that this post brought home the importance of these practices and you were able to appreciate the deep rooted Ayurvedic first principles behind these practices. Even if you are unable to recreate the exact set of rituals described by Seetha in this post, we hope you are able to incorporate atleast few parts of these rituals in your life or help out another young mother with knowledge about these practices.

 

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Losing hair after your pregnancy? Worried? Your vata dosha could be imbalanced. Krya explains.

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

We spoke last week about a common hair fall issue that we are seeing increasingly at Krya – hair loss that is traced to the post delivery period in women, or post partum hair loss. We spoke yesterday about how modern methods of treating pregnancy and child birth are at odds with what Ayurveda. These differences can lead to the severe dosha imbalance we see today and the many distressing extreme problems of hairfall that come our way.

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At Krya, it is a part of our mission to communicate just how advanced, well thought out and deeply rooted the science of Ayurveda is. Apart from what we post about, here is a gem I came across in my reading today.

 

Manasa Vikasam – Psychological development of the infant

An individual comprises of 24 tattvas (principles / realities) which comprise of the learnings their soul carries, their genetic makeup, their “aham” ego, their manas (mind), etc. The sum of these individual tattvas for each individual is called the “mahat”. As the Mahat begins to interact with environment, Ayurveda believes that psychic and psychological development begins. Unexplained talents and gifts that evolve in children are believed by Ayurveda to be gifts or talents developed in the previous cycle of birth.

The Ahamcara (loosely described as the I / Ego) is a set of unorganised drives, feeling and emotions which lies dormant within the Mahat. Depending upon the experiences that occur to the individual, both good and bad, the Ahamcara develops in later life, influenced by the positives and negatives surrounding the child.

Depending upon the experiences of the child, the Ahamcara may develop into a sattvic personality, a rajasic personality or a tamasic personality.

Herein lies the Ayurvedic genius of surrounding the foetus with good experiences and fulfilment at the antenatal stage. The pregnant woman is referred to in Ayurveda as the Dauhridini (the woman with 2 hearts). Her unexplained food preferences or wishes in the pregnancy are said to arise from the foetus who expresses his / her wishes through the mother. Ayurveda opines that as far as possible, the wishes of the Dauhridini should be fulfilled. Even in the case where her wishes are harmful to her and the foetus, she is to be treated in a loving manner and should be sweet talked or cajoled into accepting another similar fulfilment which does not harm her or the baby.

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Surrounding the foetus and her growing Ahamcara with positivity, love and fulfilment of her desires even at the foetal stage, helps develop her Ahamcara and mahat well and makes for better Manasa Vikasam in the later stage. Unfulfilled wishes of the foetus is said to lead to cognitive disorders in the pre birth stage or psychological disorders as the child grows to be an adult.

 

Increase in vata dosha post childbirth – leading cause of post partum hair fall

Our post yesterday discussed how Ayurveda views the process of childbirth and the after effects on vata dosha. We spoke about how Ayurveda traditional practices of internal oleation, controlling the diet of the pregnant women and the use of post natal abhyangas, tying of the stomach and inclusion of ghee (both as a diet supplement and in its medicated form) help control the excess vata post child birth.

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As the baby is born, there is a gap in the womb which vayu (air) attempts to occupy. If this space is not controlled and enough Sneha (fat) is not given internally to control the entry of vayu, the excess vata dosha can manifest as hair and skin disorders which can later lead to greater vata based disorders.

This then explains the common complaint of post partum hair fall. When excess vata is left unchecked and no measures of controlling vata are adopted, it dries up the body internally causing dry and brittle and weak hair, and aches and pains in the joints, a lack of enthusiasm and energy and an overall feeling of tiredness and exhaustion.

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We had mentioned how external oleation and hair oiling is a cornerstone in controlling this excess vata for post partum hair fall.

 

Excess vata – an urban malaise

Cities are considered high in vata dosha. By the nature of their design, the long distance commutes, high cell phone and device usage, and the nature of modern office jobs, all of us quickly accumulate excess vata dosha.

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By our frequent commutes, plane travel, excessive use of mobile phones, late nights, eating out and varying timings of eating, the vata dosha tends to aggravate. This leads to urban malaise disorders like lower back, joint aches, neck and shoulder aches, an inability to fall asleep easily, and a feeling of tiredness and a need for stimulants like coffee and tea to get us through our days.

When this existing urban malaise is combined with a serious vata affecting condition like what is seen after pregnancy, we see the vata disorders magnified by a massive amount leading to sudden, excessive and seemingly uncontrollable hair fall.

 

Ayurvedic herbs to control excess vata

Sneha (fats) are the key to controlling vata. Fats are thick, oily, unctuous, and smooth and are the opposite of vata dosha which is rough, dry, coarse and brittle. Most Sneha or fats are also kapha promoting because of their thick and unctuous nature. So when Ayurvedic oil is made for the purpose of balancing excess vata dosha, it is important to use a judicious base of oils and carefully chosen Ayurvedic herbs to ensure other doshas are kept in check.

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The Ayurvedic texts mention a good selection of herbs to help control vata. The texts also advise using carminative, slightly pitta increasing spices to help control vata for an important reason. The warming action of these herbs helps control the cold nature of vata and also decreases the kapha building property of the Sneha. In the next section, we will see a sample of vata reducing herbs that are used in the Krya Abhyanga oil.

 

The Krya Abhyanga skin oil with Vacha and Ashwagandha

Bala (Sida cordifolia)

Ayurvedic texts classify the herb Bala as a group of 4 herbs – “balachatustaya”. Bala is considered “brmhaniya” – promotes healthy muscle growth, “balya” – tonic and “vata samsamana” – pacifies vata dosha.

Acharya Charaka mentions that Bala is a rasayana drug (rejuvenative) for muscle tissue and muscular system. The literal translation of the Sanskrit word “Bala” is “strength” –so all the 4 Bala herbs are a tonic for the body and a rejuvenative when used in vata disorders.

As Bala is sweet in its rasa, it also helps alleviate excess pitta. It is therefore also considered valuable blood purifier helpful in rakta pitta disorders.

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Two Krya massage oils use Bala – the Krya traditional baby massage oil uses Bala to impart strength and aid healthy muscle development for babies. The Krya Abhyanga oil uses Bala to relieve excess vata, balance excess pitta and to bring relief in vata based complaints like post partum hair fall, joint aches, and other complaints associated with vata vitiation.

 

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha is a famous Ayurvedic herb known for its rasayana and kapha and vata balancing properties. The term Ashwagandha comes from the Sanskrit words “ashwa” meaning horse and “gandha” meaning odour – Ashwagandha as the texts describe is the herb that smells like a horse.

Just like the horse, the Ashwagandha herb imparts strength, speed and virility when used. Apart from these properties, it balances kapha and vata dosha, nourishes all dhatus (tissues) and has a rasayana effect on the entire body.

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Apart from these properties, Ashwagandha has a marked anti-arthritic effect and is very useful in inflammatory conditions like gout. It is also a calming herb and helps relax frazzled nerves and is a very strong rejuvenative herb to all the muscle tissues.

We use Ashwagandha in all our skin oils for adults at Krya. It goes into the Krya Abhyanga skin oil for its vata and kapha alleviating properties and its strong action to relieve muscle pain and inflammatory conditions.

Ashwagandha also goes into the Krya Moisture plus skin oil for its excellent skin regenerative and rasayana properties. This oil is meant as a frequent pre-bath moisturising product that we recommend for extremely dry skin and for very cold climates. Ashwagandha is also used in small doses in the Krya Classic Skin oil which is designed for the moisturizing needs of normal – oily skin and is to be used pre-bath as well.

 

Maricha (Piper nigrum) / Pepper / Kali Mirch / Milagu

Maricha is the Sanskrit name for black pepper which is one of the names of the Sun, referring to the hot and potent properties of black pepper. The use of black pepper is well documented in Indian cuisine for its ushna (heat), kola – taste improving sensation, Teekshana – sharp and intense flavour, krimihara – destroys insects and worms, etc.

Maricha is a spice that is revered in Indian medicine and was held n high esteem by the Ayurvedic Acharyas. Acharya Charaka classifies Maricha as a dipaniya (appetiser), sulaghna (relieves colic) and krimighna (removes intestinal worms). It is also classified as a rasayana drug for the respiratory system. Maricha is one of the 3 herbs used in “Trikatu” – three pungent spices which are used in severe colds, respiratory illnesses, and in reducing kapha accumulation.

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As Maricha is hot and virya (strong) and carminative (wind expelling), we add it in small quantities as  kashayas to the Krya abhyanga skin oil and the Krya traditional baby massage oil. This helps increase the warmth of both oils improving their vata reducing properties, helps the penetration of the oil better and also prevents kapha related side effects like coughs and colds.

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These 3 herbs are a sample of the 16 dosha balancing, skin improving and health giving herbs and  the 3 cold pressed , organic base oils we use in the Krya Abhyanga oil. As mentioned before we use the Tila paka method while making all of Krya’s oils.

 

The Ayurvedic Tila paka method – a sophisticated ancient oil manufacturing technique

The Tila paka method is one of the sophisticated oil manufacturing methods used by Ayurveda to make herb infused oils. Another method of making Ayurvedic oils is the Aditya paka method, where herbs are left to infuse in oil that is placed in the Aditya (Sun). This method is less popular compared to the Tila paka method, as there is a greater limitation on the use of watery herbs compared to the Tila paka method.

The Tila paka method helps transfer the properties of several carefully chosen herbs into base oil or a combination of base oils. Depending upon the properties of each herbs and whether they express their actives best in an oil phase or water phase, the herbs are either extracted through water or added as a paste into oil.

Ayurveda uses a combination of methods even in water extraction depending upon the woodiness, aroma and delicacy of the herb. Flowers are usually extracted as cold infusions or lukewarm teas to protect their delicate flavenoids. Thick hard, woody herbs are extracted in water separately using strong kashayams. Soft leaves are extracted as milder boiled infusions called kwathas.

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Oil based herbs and seeds are usually directly added to the oil to allow the oil based actives to percolate into the base oils. These form a part of the kalpa (herb pastes) that are added to Ayurvedic oils.

The result of this is a very deeply herb infused base oil which has used the correct medium to extract the actives from each set of herbs.

The Tila paka process is transformative in nature. The base oils we use like sesame oil, coconut oil, kokum butter etc completely transform in their stickiness, penetrative ability, colour and fragrance – the oil becomes something entirely new. The interesting change is also in how the base oils transform. Many of us may find sesame a thick, slightly difficult to use oil, for example. But we have seen time and gain, how the Tila paka process transforms the sesame oil to an oil that penetrates skin and hair very quickly, with a completely different fragrance from its original fragrance.

 

Krya products recommended to balance vata for women and men:

  1. Krya Women’s Abhyanga System (Krya Abhyanga Oil + Krya Women’s Ubtan with Lotus & Lodhra)

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  1. Krya Men’s Abhyanga System (Krya Abhyanga Oil + Krya Men’s Ubtan with Vetiver & Van Tulasi)

Depending on your hair type, we will also in addition suggest the right Krya hair system for you – Classic, Conditioning, Anti Dandruff or Damage Repair.

 

To conclude:

We have been speaking about the transformative effects of simple practices mentioned in the Ayurvedic Dinacharya (daily regime) on our health. The disorders caused by dosha imbalances can seem awful and daunting, but often the answer to helping your body lies in seemingly simple, yet deep transformative daily changes.

Can we give you a guarantee that our hair oil alone can help your post partum hair loss? No, and no one should give you one. As we have explained, any external disorder that manifests is a sign of a deep internal lack of balance, and a programme designed to correct this internal imbalance through diet, regimen changes and external application has the greatest chance of succeeding.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post and also hope you were able to appreciate the difference in approach Krya followed when treating hair and skin problems. If you too are experiencing hair and skin disorders, and would like to consult us, do call us on 075500-89090 or write to us.

Remember, beauty is achieved only when health is achieved.

 

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3 Ayurvedic changes Krya recommends to help dry, flaky skin this winter

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

When people write /call us for suggestions on how they can make their hair and skin look their best, we follow the 3 golden rules of Ayurveda to ensure that the life they are leading has the right balance of doshas for their constitution.

Ayurveda says that when your doshas are balanced as per your prakriti (individual constitution), then your body will function excellently well for you. All of us tend to have one or two doshas manifesting predominantly within us. Ayurveda teaches us that like increases like – so whatever is your dominant dosha, you will choose food, activities and regimens that will further increase this dosha. When it goes in excess you will have a manifestation of your dominant dosha going out of balance.

The sum of your 3 doshas adds to the same number mathematically, and this total is the same for everyone. What varies is how much each of the individual doshas contribute. But the total is always the same. So for example if the normal level of your pitta is supposed to be 60, and it goes upto 80, then your other 2 doshas will be depleted as pitta dosha has increased.

So apart from the manifestation of your dominant dosha in excess you will also suffer from the consequence of the other 2 doshas decreasing.

The 3 golden rules we follow when doing product suggestions is to always add suggestions on diet and regimen to help balance your dosha. The Ayurvedic golden rule of 3 is that the combination of right diet +right regimen +right product will lead to harmony and good health.

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Drier skin and hair? Your vata may be out of balance
If you have a prominent vata dosha, then it is likely that this season of Hemanta (Winter) can further push your vata dosha out of balance. This will result in drier skin and hair than normal, hair that breaks easily, a build up of static, an increase in joint pains and perhaps an increase in menstrual cramping in this season.

The Ashtanga Hridyam describes the qualities of vata dosha thus:

“Tatra ruksho laghu sheetah, khara sukshmachalo nilah”

The qualities of Vata are dry, light cool, rough, subtle and mobile.

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In Ayurveda, we believe just as like promotes like, to control a dosha or an imbalance we have to use foods, products and regimens which are the opposite of that dosha. So as vata is cool, we have to use warm foods, regimens and products. As vata dosha is mobile, we have to weigh it down with heavy oils and fats. And as vata dosha’s nature is light, we have to feed it with heavier and more substantial foods to balance it.

 

So if you have come to us with complaints of flaky, dry skin or brittle and frizzy hair, here are the 3 changes we would recommend:

Change 1 : Switch to the right products that will not aggravate vata imbalance:

  1. Switch from a drying soap / shampoo to a gentle, completely natural herb based cleanser for skin and hair. In the beginning you may need far more moisturising or conditioning products to compensate for the dosha balance. The use of a herb based cleanser also increases warmth (therefore bring down the cooling nature of Vata) and therefore also increases elimination of toxins through the skin.

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  1. Add an oil that nourishes (and we will explain why in the Right regimen) and arrests the dry and light nature of Vata dosha.

 

Change 2: Modify your Regimen to reduce vata imbalance:

  1. Include an abhyanga for your body + one for the hair in your regime. Twice a week if your skin and hair are very dry, but atleast once a week for good health. The abhyanga should be preferably done with an oil that is designed to balance vata using vata balancing herbs in a sesame oil base. If you are unable to source this oil, the abhyanga should be done with pure sesame oil – no other oil base will do.

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  1. Wash off the oil with a lentil and grain paste only. Do not use a soap post abhyanga.
  1. Control the timings of eating and stick to a rigid schedule. Rigidity brings order to chaotic vata dosha. Vata dosha promotes fluidity and creativity – but in excess it leads to chaos. So sticking to a rigid schedule helps bring it to normal
  1. Stick to a rigid cut off after which you will not do vata increasing activities – these include checking social media, messages, or responding to emails. Vata is excitable so you need to calm it down by reducing stimulation. Using heavy curtains and a dark room to sleep in also helps controlling vata as Vata is excited by visual stimulation.

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Change 3: Add vata pacifying foods and eliminate vata aggravating foods from your diet:

  1. Excess vata and excess pitta is best controlled by Ghee. So if you are suffering from symptoms of excess vata, it is best to add a teaspoon of melted cow ghee to every meal. Ayurveda is very particular about using dairy from native cows – so search for options where you are sure Indian native cow breeds are supplying your milk. Ayurveda is also particular about the karmic effects of consuming cruelly sourced food. Ensure your dairy is sourced from a farm where antibiotics and hormones are not used, the cows are not over bred, and the calves are looked after well.

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  1. Reduce the intake of vata promoting foods – these included baked goods, fried foods, instant and processed foods, and vegetables that are part of the vata group like potatoes, cabbage and cauliflower
  2. Reduce the intake of vata promoting drinks – tea, coffee, processed fruit juices and colas are all vata increasing. Besides this they are full of E-numbers, preservatives and sugar, so they are just not good for you. If you must drink something, warm water or tender coconut water is a better drink.
  3. Ensure you eat your food and drinks warm – warm water and freshly cooked warm food help dispel vata. Stay away from cold foods and drinks. Warm controls vata.

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Anyone following our posts or who is interested in Ayurveda will be able to appreciate this difference in approach to a seemingly simple problem. A truly Ayurvedic company cannot simply sell you a product if you complain of dryness. We must be able to understand the root cause of this dryness and suggest a diet and lifestyle change to arrest the dosha balance at the roots.

True beauty comes from balance and wellness. Not from an external product alone.

A happy, dosha balanced Monday to you from us at Krya. If you are seeking true beauty as well, and would like a consultation or advice on how to make a lasting change, do call us on 075500-89090 or write to us.

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