Reduce premature greying by avoiding these foods

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Our skin and hair’s health depends on what we eat. Some foods can nourish and heal us. Other foods can throw us off balance and aggravate our doshas. This post will explore foods that aggravate and increase Pitta dosha. This will help you reduce premature greying by avoiding these foods which aggravate Pitta dosha.

These food rules may seem slightly tough to follow in the beginning. But if followed, they can help balance imbalanced doshas, reduce pitta aggravation and improve health. Read on.

Premature greying is caused by Pitta aggravation

Premature greying is considered a condition of unchecked pitta aggravation in Ayurveda. When Pitta dosha in the body is sharply imbalanced, it increases heat and oiliness throughout the body.

In skin, unchecked Pitta dosha leads to skin oiliness, blackheads, whiteheads and skin clogging and breakouts.

Aggravated pitta dosha affects hair in a different way. It burns the hair and thins it down. This makes the scalp more visible and gives the impression of a receeding hair line. It also prematurely greys hair, stripping it of its natural colour.

So to reduce these hair and skin effects, we must control Pitta aggravation at source and influence it through a carefully chosen diet.

Ayurveda tells us that sour, spicy and salty foods increase Pitta dosha which in turn aggravates premature greying.  So we can reduce premature greying by avoiding these foods with these tastes.

Sweet, bitter and astringent foods reduce and balance Pitta dosha . Eating more of these foods can help us balance and reduce aggravated Pitta Dosha, thus slowing down premature greying.

Traditional Indian cuisine and cooking methods

Indian cuisine liberally uses souring agents in food. Traditionally this was done to preserve food in the absence of refrigeration. Sour foods were eaten carefully, at the right time. For example, sour foods were eaten on a long journey, when there was no access to fresh cooked food. In South India, Puliyodharai (tamarind rice) is a good example of this.

Tamarind rice traditionally used as a travel foodTamarind rice: traditional travel food

Traditionally, Puliyodharai was made before a long journey, where the food needed to last for atleast 3 – 4 days without refrigeration.

Similarly, India has a long tradition of pickling. Pickling was done from ancient times to preserve seasonal fruits and vegetables. Pickles were also used judiciously to improve appetite and digestion in cold months, and give the body access to vegetables that were out of season. Being salty , sour and spicy, Pickles stimulate Pitta Dosha which is useful in rainy or cold season where appetite can be dull.

Pickles: traditionally used to preserve seasonal fruits
& vegetables & stimulate appetite in WinterReduce premature greying by avoiding these foods: traditionally pickles were eaten in small quantities only and were home made

Traditional cooking always understood the idea of balance. We never overindulged in sour or salty tastes. Care was taken to provide a wide variety of tastes in each meal. Pickles and condiments were eaten in small quantities , in the right season, and were used as medicine. By staying in balance, our diet helped slow down aging and reduce premature greying and early wrinkles.

Food was always made at home. There was no concept of pre-packaged or outside food. so home picklers and papad makers used local, high quality spices to make these condiments. Potassium sorbate and synthetic preservatives were not used to flavour these condiments. Instead home makers used different kinds of salt and high quality cold pressed oils and clean hands to ensure long shelf life.

Modern changes to foods and cooking methods that upset dosha balance

The wise and holistic traditional methods of preservation and cooking have been completely overturned in today’s world. Pickling and condiment making is no longer a home made affair. Instead we buy mass manufactured, pre-packaged pickles, papad, from a  super market . These mass manufactured condiments come loaded with preservatives, E-numbers and excessive salt, severely aggravating Pitta dosha. We no longer use pickles, chutneys and condiments as medicines. Instead we over-indulge in them purely for taste.

Our perceived lack of time has us looking for quick foods. Breakfast for many today is a pre-packaged instant cereal, instant oats, instant upma etc. The shelf life of these “foods” is sometimes 3 years. This food is not just nutrient dead. It is also immensely upsetting to the delicate dosha balance in your body.

Eating dead food loaded with chemicals puts a huge strain on the body and increases our toxin load.

Is your breakfast live with prana? Or dead with synthetic
chemicals, additives and preservatives?Reduce premature greying by avoiding these foods: instant breakfast cereal is low in Prana and high in salt

With globalisation, we suddenly have access to foods that were never a part of our cuisine. So we have enthusiastically added vinegar, tempeh, olives and aged cheeses to our cuisine. The introduction of these alien foods severely upsets the dosha balance in our body. Most pre-packaged, shelf ready foods are very high in sodium preservatives, aggravating Pitta dosha. This aggravates premature greying.

Reduce Premature greying by avoiding these 5 foods :

We have seen that “amla” (sour), “lavana” (salty) and “teekshna” (spicy) tastes aggravate Pitta dosha.  This in turn thins hair, rapidly changes its colour to a dull grey or white. So we can reduce premature greying by avoiding these foods which stimulate Pitta dosha excessively.

  1. Sour foods – tomato and tamarind based food, fermented foods, curd, etc
  2. Salty Foods – pickles, papad
  3. Spicy Foods – red and green chillies
  4. Sour Foreign foods – sauces, soy sauces, vinegar, cheese, olives, greek yoghurt, hummus, pesto
  5. Salty Commercial packaged foods – instant cereal / oats / upma

Why do we include foods that are considered healthy like idlis and foreign foods like hummus and vinegar? We will see the reasons why below.

1. Avoid Sour foods

Indian cooking, especially south Indian cooking loves sourness. Tamarind is almost universally used in preparations like Sambhar and Rasam. Additionally sour curds and buttermilk is often eaten with rice everyday or in other dishes like Morkuzhambu.

The unchecked use of Tamarind is not a healthy practice. This also goes against traditional food rules.

An excess amount of sour taste in food aggravates Pitta dosha, leading to premature greying and hair thinning. So , sour taste needs to be balanced in your cuisine. Depending upon level of pitta imbalance, we advise severe restriction of sour agents or limiting its consumption to 2 – 3 days a week.

Fermented foods are very healthy for us. But as they age, they become very high in sourness. Traditionally foods like idli and dosa were consumed only few times a week / fortnight. But today, due to easy availability of ready made batter, many of us eat these foods nearly every day.

8.fermented foods high in pitta

Chaats are notoriously high in sour especially golgappas and dahi-based chaats.  Originally chaat was invented in North India as a medicinal item to cure constipation. This makes sense if your diet is very high in meat and protein leading to severe constipation. This is also okay in small, occasional doses in the right season.

However, today all of us eat hotel made chaat. The puris are made with pre commercial maida which is clogging to the system. Oil is re-used many times making it unhealthy. Plus we eat it in high frequency and un seasonally.  This much be kept in balance, again.

9. chaat

Krya recommendation for Sour foods :

Reduce premature greying by avoiding these foods which are very high in sour tastes by following these restrictions:

  • Restrict amchur, kokum and tamarind based dishes to twice a week. On the other days, have non-sour dishes like Dal, Kootu, etc.
  • Restrict the consumption of cooked curd based dishes. If making raita, do not eat more than once a week. Use diluted , churned, non sour curd for Raita.
  • Restrict Fermented foods to twice a week. Ensure the batter is home made, and fresh (do not eat if batter is more than 2 days old)
  • Avoid curd completely. You can have thin buttermilk (3 portions water: 1 curd) thrice a week, tempered with salt, roasted jeera and pepper ONLY if the curd is not sour. Avoid all sour buttermilk
  • Avoid tomatoes as much as possible. You many use fresh lime twice a week instead.

2. Salty food:

Pitta dosha increases with salty food which in turn increases premature greying. Pickles, papads, and other condiments are naturally high in salty taste. If these products are bought from shops, the salt content is even higher.

Restrict pickle consumption to small amounts. Eat only
home made, preservative free pickle.Reduce premature greying: Pickles, sauces and other condiments increase premature greying and hair thinning

Krya recommendation for salty foods :

Reduce premature greying by avoiding these foods which are very high in salty taste by following these restrictions:

  • Avoid iodised , synthetic salt. Eat only rock salt or “Indhuppu”. Kala namak is to be had very very rarely as it aggravates Pitta dosha.
  • Completely avoid all store bought pickles, sauces, and other condiments
  • Fresh, non aged, home made pickles can be eaten occasionally in autumn, spring and more regularly in Winter. Avoid completely if possible in Summer.
  • Preserved home made, aged pickles can be eaten infrequently if the rest of the meal is low in sour and spicy. For eg: a traditional combination of mung dal kitchdi with a small amount of pickle is okay, infrequently.
  • Do not eat pickles with sour foods like idli, dosa, curd, buttermilk, sambhar, rasam, etc.
  • Restrict papads to occasional consumption.  Balance the rest of the meal to ensure overall low salt. Choose a well made, non commercial papad (organic, small scale), if possible.

3. Avoid Spicy food

Ayurveda says that the nature of pitta dosha is “Teekshana” or intense and sharp. Teekshana foods therefore aggravate pitta dosha because they are similar in nature to Pitta dosha. Many spices we eat are not only Teekshana but also foreign to India. Chillies for example, were introduced into India a scant 400 – 500 years ago.  However, they have been studied and described in Ayurveda with a detailed study of their effects on our body.

Red and green chillies are considered much more Teekshana in Ayurveda compared to indigenous varieties of pepper. So when we use chilli powder in our cuisine, pitta dosha aggravates, increasing premature greying.

11.chillies

To bring aggravated pitta dosha to balance, we advise cutting down red and green chillies and all varieties of capsicum and bell peppers.

Krya recommendation for spicy food:

Reduce premature greying by avoiding these foods which are very high in spicy taste by following these restrictions:

  • Avoid red and green chillies, capsicum as much as possible. As they are nightshades, they also interfere with many of the body’s natural functions.
  • Learn to spice food instead with pepper, ginger, dhania and jeera.
  • Pitta aggravated people can liberally use coriander seeds, and roasted jeera in their cooking. Coriander seeds balance pitta. Jeera warms without aggravating Pitta dosha. A small amount of roasted fenugreek seeds can also be used to supplement cooking. Fenugreek also stimulates Pitta dosha , but it can be used as long as other Pitta aggravating spices are avoided, in small quantities.
  • Reduce mustard and mustard oil in your cooking. Yellow mustard is milder than black mustard and can be used infrequently.
  • This is not the time to eat jalapenos and bhut jalokia.

4. Avoid Sour Foreign foods – sauces, soy sauces, vinegar, cheese, olives, greek yoghurt, hummus, pesto

With rapid globalisation, we have been introduced to many new cuisines and tastes. While this is great to understand different cultures, it can play havoc with the balance of doshas in our body.

When we import foods, we do not import the other things that surround food. Food comes with local traditions, historical changes and unique geographical conditions that contribute to the development of this cuisine. All of this help the natives of a particular geography adapt and live well in that environment with the help of that food.

Food culture also comes with ingredient availability. In India, Rajasthani cuisine is famous for the use of many local shoots, roots, due to the non availability of other vegetables and fruits. So yak cheese evolved in a region where the climate was cold, and no other dairy animal was present. These region specific foods often make most sense in their area of origin and travel poorly. When those of us living in hot, tropical conditions consume this kind of food, we upset our dosha balance.

Indo chinese food notoriously aggravates premature greyingIndo-chinese food notoriously aggravates Pitta dosha

Krya recommendation for sour foreign foods :

Reduce premature greying by avoiding these foods which are foreign to our bodies and have a sharp, sour taste by following these restrictions:

  • Sharp aged cheeses aggravate pitta dosha. Avoid strongly.
  • Reduce consumption of pickled vegetables like olives, jalapenos as much as possible. Synthetic, commercial vinegar is used for this pickling which is harmful for health. If using, use very infrequently and ensure the vegetable is soaked and rinsed many times before eating.
  • Avoid indo-chinese food as much as possible. Among all cuisines , this upsets and aggravates Pitta dosha the most.
  • Avoid eating packaged tahini and hummus which are high in salt and sour taste. Make your own dips instead.
  • Avoid greek yoghurt: it is very high in fat, sourness and can also imbalance kapha dosha leading to breakouts and dandruff.
  • Experiment with other cuisines in a very restrictive and balanced manner. Follow up experimentation with atleast 1 / 2 weeks of regular home made food to ensure the toxins accumulated do not build up
  • If you have a choice, choose cuisines with tastes as close to Indian food as possible.

5. Avoid Salty commercial pre-packaged foods :

10. salty foods

All packaged , ready to eat food is high in salt. This comes in the form of synthetic sodium preservatives and emulsifiers. Packaged sweetened foods like breakfast cereal, instant oats, are also similarly high in salty taste.

When we habitually eat these foods, our taste buds get adapted to a much higher degree of salt. So we unconsciously start using much higher amounts of salt in our food as well.

Krya recommendation for salty, commercial, pre-packaged foods:

Reduce premature greying by avoiding these foods which are very high in hidden salts by following these restrictions:

  • Avoid / Restrict the following completely: Instant noodles, oats, upma, ready to eat foods
  • Completely avoid powdered or ready to eat soups. They are NOT healthy and are NOT nutritious and are filled with toxic chemicals.
  • Slowly phase out dependence on breakfast cereals and plain oats.
  • Paneer is preferable over cheese . Home made Paneer is infinitely preferable over store bought Paneer. Eat within two days and do not eat sour, fermented Paneer.  You can flavour it at home if needed without aggravating Sodium or premature greying.

To Conclude:

“Ahaara” (food) has a very important role to play in health, and our external appearance. Hair and skin systems react very quickly to a badly planned diet and show up symptoms of dosha imbalance. In this post, we saw the connection between salt, spice and sour tastes and Pitta dosha. we also looked at 5 common types of foods that we all consume everyday, which are high in these tastes.

If you have the typical signs of aggravated pitta dosha like rapid premature greying, hair thinning, early stage female / male pattern baldness, your diet could be at fault. Making these simple changes to your diet can help bring your doshas back to balance, restore health and help you reduce premature greying.

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

Krya hair and scalp products to reduce premature greying and hair thinning:

Krya classic hair mask: an authentic ayurvedic hair treatment mask to reduce premature greying and hair thinning

Krya classic hair nourishing system: Ayurevdic hair rpoducts to reduce premature greying and hair thinning

Krya’s safe , all natural hair colours to colour prematurely grey hair:

Krya All natural hair colour is made with nourishing ayurvedic herbs that colour hair safely and help strengthen and nourish it deeply.

 

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Herb Thursdays at Krya – the ayurvedic properties & benefits of Shikakai (Acacia concinna)

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Shikakai: a herb that we all love to hate. A herb that reminds both of having our hair washed by our mother and grandmother, and of eyes stinging during the process. But also paradoxically, we associate Shikakai not just with painful childhood memories, but also having the hair of our childhood: thick, long, dark, and strong. A time when it was impossible to manage our hair because it was so voluminous and so long!

1. vintage shikakai

Shikakai is referred to as “the hair fruit” in India, and the Shikakai pod has been used as a biological surfactant to cleanse hair and skin for thousands of years in India. The Shikakai pod along with the Reetha pericarp, (Soapberry fruit) have together been the only cleansers India used to clean the laundry, dishes and our hair.

Because of the relatively low level of surfactants in both these soapy herbs, the skin and hair is always protected from excessive stripping of natural oils, breakage of hair and destruction of the acid mantle. Both these herbs also have a naturally mildly acidic pH which again makes them both ideal cleansers to used on human skin and hair.

2. hair fruit

 

Shikakai in Ayurveda:

Ayurvedic texts like the Raj Nighantu classify Acacia concinna as laghu (light), tikta (bitter) and kasaya (astringent). It cures vitiated kapha and pitta dosha, which is why it works so well across Krya’s anti dandruff products like the Krya anti dandruff hair wash and the Krya Anti dandruff hair mask. It also cures leprosy and other skin diseases so it is classified as a “Kushta” herb and also heals oedema due to wounds which is why it is classified as a vrana-sopha herb.

In folk medicine, Shikakai’s analgesic, anti bacterial, insect repellent and wound healing properties are very effectively utilised. For non specific pain in the leg, hips and joints, Shikakai is sprinkled on the affected area after a hot castor oil massage and then wiped away, providing great relief to the aching area.

Shikakai is also very well employed in traditional medicine as an oral rinse to help cure halitosis, dental caries, mouth ulcers and gum bleeding. Its kasaya (astringent) properties helps reduce oral inflammations, stops excessive bleeding and also helps flush out oral pathogens.

Shikakai is also very well used to fight any manner of skin infection. The Shikakai is used as a tincture / infusion to bathe and frequently wash stubborn skin infections which accumulate pus and clear exudates like psoriasis, skin rashes etc. Here the herb’s cleansing and inflammation reducing properties are used.

Shikakai in Krya:

Krya uses Shikakai across our range of hair cleansing products to help effectively clean dirt and grease from hair without altering its structure and damaging it. In fact, the use of Shikakai in our hair cleanser formulations helps us delver hair cleansing that is both effective yet gentle on hair. The consistent use of this herb also helps improve hair volume and texture.
3.shikakai in krya

Shikakai is also a key ingredient in Krya’s anti dandruff hair wash and hair mask. Our Anti dandruff products are able to work on even very long term and chronic cases of dandruff within a short period of time and this is due to the powerful herbs we use like Shikakai. Shikakai is used by Krya in the anti dandruff range for its unique ability to cleanse without irritating the scalp – this is extremely important when dealing with chronic dandruff because we always see small lesions and wounds on the scalp which have formed due to the inherent itchiness because of this condition.

4.shikakai in krya dandruff range

 

Krya also has a range of “Sensitive” skin products. These products are recommended for chronic skin issues like contact dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema, and requests for these products are constantly on the rise. Many of these skin conditions do not have an exact causative factor in allopathy and are usually managed with the use of topical steroids (both ingested and applied locally). Stopping these products even for a day triggers the condition and it is extremely difficult to live with.

Switching from a synthetic soap (even those recommended for these skin conditions) and using one of the Krya sensitive skin products along with the oil recommended, usually gives people an almost immediate relief from these conditions.

Shikakai helps these conditions through the action we explained above: Its kashaya (astringent) nature shrinks the thickened growth and brings down inflammation. Because of its tikta (bitter) nature, it is ideally suited to tackle both vitiated pitta and vitiated kapha, so it stops the redness and itching associated with pitta and the skin thickening and expanding nature of kapha vitiated skin diseases.

To sum up:

So there you have it: So there you have it: that’s a brief glimpse into the properties of Acacia concinna /  Shikakai which goes into Krya’s hair care products and certain specialised skin care products. As we have said before, Ayurvedic herbs are potent and strong, and must always be tailor made using the right anupana to suit your constitution. Do not attempt to self medicate. If you feel internal consumption of Shikakai could help you, please meet an Ayurvedic Vaidya who can diagnose your condition and prescribe Shikakai in the right dose and right format for you.

 

We do herb related posts at Krya to give you a glimpse into just how potent, powerful and good for us the plants used in Ayurveda are. We hope you found this post inspiring and useful. Do leave your thoughts and comments on this post below. If you would like us to write about a specific herb next Thursday, do leave that in your comments as well.

 

 

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

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Reading Time: 13 minutes

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

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

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

 

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

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

1. stress and hairfall

 

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

 

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

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

2.mind-body connection

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Pitta dosha

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

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

3.pitta dosha

 

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

 

Vata dosha

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

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

4. vata dosha

 

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

 

Kapha dosha

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

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

5. kapha dosha

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

6. path to balance

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

7. dauhridini

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

8.post partum care

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

9.abhyanga

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

10. touch

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

 

We are not a collection of organ systems!

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Here are some products that can help:

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

12.harmony hair oil

5. womens abhyanga system

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

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

3 months.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The 4 phases of normal hair growth:

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

 

Every strand of hair grows through 4 phases:

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

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

anagen phase

 

The 2 take-aways here are this:

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

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

 

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

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

catagen phase

 

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

telogen

 

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

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

 

Changes in the 3 phases of Hair growth under stress:

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

 

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

stress effects

 

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

 

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

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

 

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hair growth:

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

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

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

 

The Holmes and Rahe Stress scale

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

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

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

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

holmes rahe scale

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

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

 

The effect of stress on skin:

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

skin stress

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

 

To conclude:

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

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

 

 

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The Krya ten point programme to help you heal, revitalise and repair chemically damaged hair

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We have been receiving a lot of excellent feedback on the Krya Damage repair hair revitalising system lately. We have also been receiving a lot of queries on just why chemical treatments like hair colouring, hair re-bonding, smoothening and treatments like the Cysteine treatment and the Brazilian damage hair.

 

Many of our consumers come to us after several years of chemical colouring with a few texture alteration treatments thrown in. At this point their hair is written off by the very parlour that damaged their hair, as too damaged for any more beauty treatments !

 

This is a subject that is very close to my heart, as someone who has gone through all these damaging treatments herself, and has painstakingly restored her hair health – my hair volume is still not as good as what I used to have, but despite my prolonged damage, I have reached a happy situation where my hair growth is good, texture is excellent and strength and elasticity is very good.

 

Just why are these chemical treatments so damaging to our hair? What about treatments advertised to “repair” hair damage like the cysteine treatment?

 

For the real truth on why you should run and not walk away from your hair stylist and your parlour, and how you can begin to heal damaged hair, do take a look at our presentation on this today .

 

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The Ayurvedic alternative to a shampoo and conditioner – Krya explains why a synthetic shampoo and a conditioner worsens hair fall, decreases hair elasticity and increases hair breakage.

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Reading Time: 12 minutes

“I can’t believe the difference just 2 months of using the Krya extra conditioning hair system has made to my hair,” said SB of Delhi to us this morning. My hair used to break, was dull and lifeless and I had almost given up hope on it”, she added.

 

Why are synthetic shampoos and conditioners so similar to Lex Luthor and his evil sidekicks? We have been discussing hair, how dosha imbalances affect it , and how what we eat, and do can severely affect our hair. Here’s a post on something else we do that affects our hair – our consistent use of synthetic shampoos and conditioners.

 

In this post, we will see how synthetic shampoos and conditioners, in their very design, can damage your hair, dry it out, increase hair breakage and slow down hairfall.

 

Why are synthetic shampoos so harsh on hair?

Harsh surfactant

Synthetic shampoos use only one grade of cleanser, the synthetic surfactant to clean hair. The synthetic surfactant like SLS / SLeS is basically a modified detergent which strips hair of oil and dirt.

1. industrial car cleaner

 

Unfortunately, SLS and SLeS do not have any safeguards – so even if the weather is dry, and your scalp really needs the sebum, a synthetic surfactant will still remove oil aggressively. This is why scalp gets either very dry, or reacts like the less mild mannered Hulk and over compensates by producing huge amounts of sebum in response to this aggressive cleansing.

 

SLS and SLeS have also been implicated in contact related allergic reactions on scalp and skin. Most people who use synthetic shampoos do not rinse their hair well and will have traces of SLS and SLeS lingering on the scalp. As scalp and skin sensitivity increases, you may find your scalp flaking aggressively (dandruff), developing excessive itching (mild dermatitis) and even resulting in conditions like boils, and scalp psoriasis.

2. scalp itching

 

One of the other ways synthetic surfactants damage your hair is by reducing its elasticity. The elasticity of hair is an important property where the hair shaft is able to cope with varying changes on hair. For example, hair elasticity comes into play when hair is combed, brushed or tugged. If your elasticity is good, your hair can handle pulling and snap back to place easily without damage. If your hair’s elasticity is poor, the slightest pulling, tugging or even wetting can instantly snap and break your hair.

 

Poor elasticity comes from excessive dryness and cuticular damage – this is the reason for extreme hair breakage and split ends. And synthetic surfactants are the primary cause of poor elasticity. The second cause for poor hair elasticity is chemical treatments like straightening, perming and hair colouring.

 3.chemical colouring damage

 

Silicone based conditioning agents that mask damage

If I shampoo and do not condition my hair, it is a mess”

 

How many times have you said this?

Is the conditioner repairing your hair? No, it is simply hiding damage. One of the side effects of using synthetic shampoo is that your hair’s cuticular structure is damaged. Some of the scales are ripped off, and some are broken or misaligned. As a result your hair will feel coarse, rough and look dull and lifeless.

 

To hide this damage, a synthetic shampoo is formulated with a silicone based conditioning agent. This is also the main ingredient in synthetic conditioners and gloss enhancing serums and spray on products. The silicones form a thin coating over the damaged cuticular structure – this is similar to a plastic wrap on your hair. As light falls on your hair, it reflects off this thin coating, making your hair look glossy and shiny. However, under this layer, the damage still exists. This is why every time you shampoo, your hair continues to feel rough. The silicones are simply hiding the damage done by the shampoo, and fooling you into believing your hair is healthier than it is.

 

Why are Krya’s hair washes better for you?

The Krya hair washes are designed differently from synthetic shampoos to cleanse in 3 different ways:

  1. a) through a natural surfactant
  2. b) by adsorption
  3. c) by the use of natural plant acids.

5. 3 types of cleansing

It is this combination of using 3 types of cleansing that makes the Krya hair washes milder, gentler, and better for the hair’s cuticular structure and helps us reduce hair breakage due to scalp dryness, and chemical treatments.

 

Natural surfactants

Krya uses biological surfactants like Soapberry and Shikakai for their oil removal and dirt cleansing effects. A mature, organically harvested soapberry contains 12% saponin content. A mature harvested Shikakai contains 6% Saponin content. The saponins in Soapberry and Shikakai are biologically and chemically unique. When we add 3 – 4 different kinds of detergent plants, we get a rich cornucopia of cleansing properties which complement each other.

 

Acacia concinna (Shikakai) at Krya

Acacia concinna alone contains several saponins, of which atleast 5 types have been chemically isolated. Apart from saponins, chemical analysis reveals that the Shikakai pod also contains acids like tartaric acid, oxalic acid, and  acacic acid, ketones like lactone, and natural sugars like glucose, arabinose, etc.

6.acacia

 

Ayurvedic texts like the Raj Nighantu classify Acacia concinna as laghu (light), tikta (bitter) and kasaya (astringent). It cures vitiated kapha and pitta dosha, which is why it works so well across Krya’s anti dandruff products like the Krya anti dandruff hair wash and the Krya Anti dandruff hair mask. It also cures leprosy and other skin diseases so it is classified as a “Kushta” herb and also heals oedema due to wounds which is why it is classified as a vrana-sopha herb.

 

Soapberry at Krya

Krya has a long and delightful history (and experience) of using Soapberry in our cleansing formulations. We use upto 3 species of Soapberry at Krya, and always try and introduce Soapberries from different geographical terrains in order to imbibe their varying properties across these places.

7.soapberry

 

Soapberry is recorded in the Raj Nighantu as having tikta (bitter), ushna (hot), katu (pungent), snigdha (oily) properties. It is a vatahara herb (reduces vata), and is kapha-hara (reduces kapha) as well. This is why the soapberry is indicated in both vata conditions like dry scalp and kapha conditions like psoriasis, itching, boils, etc.

 

The soapberry is therefore used at Krya in hair washes, ubtans and in certain formulations meant for difficult skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. We use 2 different species of Soapberry in Krya’s hairwash formulations: the South Indian Soapberry, Sapindus trifoliatus and the Himalayan Soapberry, Sapindus mukorossi.

8. soapberry 2

 

Sapindus trifoliatus grows across South and Western India and is found upto Orissa. We source Sapindus trifoliatus from Tiruvannamalai which is a dry region in south India and from the forests in Orissa which are much more moist, have greater tree cover with much higher bio diversity. The “tikta” content of Sapindus trifoliatus is much more than the Himalayan soapberry, which is why it has greater prescriptive use in therapeutic conditions.

 

Sapindus mukorossi grows across hilly terrains, and is native to the Himalayas and Nepal. We source Sapindus mukorossi from Uttaranchal and Punjab which have slightly differing heights and differing biodiversity. Sapindus mukorossi is a less pungent herb compared to Sapindus trifoliatus, so we use this for some of our sensitive hair products like the hair washes that are made for babies and toddlers. The foam produced by the Sapindus mukorossi is also different technically from what is produced by the trifoliatus herb. We find that a judicious combination of the two helps improve cleansing and detergency across our formulations.

 

Adsorption based cleansing herbs

Apart from natural surfactants, Krya’s hair washes also use several adsorption based cleansing herbs. These work differently from surfactants. They adhere to oil and grime on the hair and create a bond between themselves and these substances. So when the hair is washed, this oil, dirt and adsorbent layer is gently removed from the hair. Adsorption based cleansing herbs have always been used in Ayurveda and traditional medicine as a complementary cleansing aid to surfactant plants. Clays, muds, and certain kinds of lentils and grains form a part of this adsorption based cleansing family.

 

At Krya, we use special adsorption based cleansing lentils and grains. These are documented for their pitta hara (heat reducing) properties in Ayurveda, so they are very helpful in hair and scalp formulations. They are also very gentle and soothing in their action, and do not strip hair aggressively of sebum.

 

Why we do not use Muds and Clays at Krya

At Krya, we generally do not use muds and clays in our products. In our testing, we have found that several forms of clays and muds come highly contaminated with E.coli and other organisms that are commonly found in excreta. With arable land becoming scarce, there is a lot of animal and human contamination across land, so previously uncontaminated muds and clays have now become contaminated with these micro organisms.

9.clay

The use of muds and clays also comes with a great deal of environmental hazards. If we use river soil, we tend to take the richest river soil which could be put into better use for farming or growing of food. If we take top soil, we are again disturbing the land, without planning for replenishment of this soil.

 

Even though certain kinds of clays are documented in Ayurveda to have good skin and hair properties like Multani Mitti, because of bacterial contamination and environmental issues, we tend to avoid these ingredients at Krya.

 

Fruit and plant acids for hair cleansing, restoration of acid mantle and hair health

The pH of our skin and scalp is 5.5. This mildly acidic pH is healthy for us as it allows our skin and scalp to form a strong barrier function for our whole body to keep out harmful bacteria and other micro organisms. This acidic pH also helps our body secrete mildly acidic sebum which coats our hair and skin giving it moisture, gloss and a protective cover to keep it from drying out in harsh wind or cold weather.

 

Unfortunately by using harsh synthetic shampoos, we break this cycle of producing this precious sebum on our hair and skin. Because of the harsh way in which shampoos over cleanse hair and scalp, the body is left dry and has no acidic sebum either for its protection of for hair and skin health. This is why when we over use shampoo, we find that our hair becomes extremely oily within a day or two of washing.

14.samosa

 

Krya’s hair washes use a harmonious combination of fruit and plant based natural acids in our hair washes. When used along with the natural plant surfactants and adsorption based cleansers, these plant acids restore the acid mantle of hair and scalp, help the cleansing process and strengthen the hair.

 

One of our go-to fruit acids is the Amla (Indian gooseberry). The Amla is a famous rasayana Ayurvedic herb which promotes good health, longevity and youthfulness. It is used across Krya’s skin and hair formulations in our powders as well as our oils. The amla helps strengthen hair, works to restore the hair’s acid mantle, improves cuticular strength, and reduces hair breakage.

10.amla

 

Apart from the Amla, Krya uses a wide range of acidic fruits and herbs across our hair formulations like Haritaki, Vibhitaki, Orange, Sweet Lime, Lemon, Rose, Bhringaraj, Hibiscus, etc. Each one of these herbs come with unique hair nourishing properties apart from their acidic nature. They variously help improve hair gloss, improve the strength of hair, increase its elasticity, improves its ability to grow and help its health.

11. acidic herbs

 

The Use of hair oils and hair masks for good hair health

Krya recommends the use of generous hair oiling and the application of hair masks to improve hair health. Hair oiling is a practice traditionally recommended in Ayurveda. It helps balance pitta and vata dosha, removes excess heat from the scalp, and provides the scalp with a frequent dose of health giving herbs.

 

Hair masks are another part of Krya’s recommended hair regime to give hair strength and improve the texture, manageability and gloss of hair. Different herbs respond better to different ways of application. Some herbs are best used in hair oils where the slow boiling and processing help them release their properties. Also hair oils tend to use herbs that are beneficial when left on hair for a much longer time.

12. herbs for oils

 

Certain herbs are best use in extremely short applications like hair washing. Herbs like Shikakai, Soapberry, etc are short use herbs – they are best use in wash off applications where they can work intensively on the scalp and hair and give you immediate results.

 

Certain herbs are best used for an in-between application like a mask. We have found that herbs like orange flower, fenugreek, curry leaf, are also excellent when applied directly to hair as a paste and left on for a while. In this, the curry elaf is an extremely versatile herb, lending itself to all 3 formats. When herbs are used as a (short) leave on mask, they help strongly improve hair manageability, improve cuticular structure and vastly improve hair’s elasticity, gloss and smoothness.

13. curry leaf

 

The Krya hair systems – better as a whole rather than single products

To many of our consumers who come to us for recommendations of a good hair oil and a hair wash, we often suggest the use of a complete Krya hair system which includes a hair oil, a hair wash and a hair mask. Our hairwashes are designed to be used only along with our hair oils. Similarly, using a synthetic shampoo after using our hair oils, takes away from the good the hair oil can actually have on your hair.

 

Our hair systems have also been designed to be used as a whole. Our systems use a principle of layering and complementary abilities where each product works in harmony with the next to improve the effects on your hair. So a classic hair oil works along with a classic hairwash and a classic hair mask to reduce heat, dryness caused by heat, delay premature greying and improve health. Here’s a testimonial shared by a consumer who used this entire system and how her hair grew after the use of this system.

 

Similarly, the Krya conditioning hair oil reduces vata related dryness and works with the conditioning hair wash and hair mask to reduce vata related hair breakage, improve hair gloss and improve hair elasticity.

15. conditioning hair oil

A previous blog post written by a consumer, shares her experience with the Krya anti dandruff hair system. In this, she shares how use of all 3 products help treat her previously stubborn dandruff problem.

 

It is important to understand which of our systems will suit your hair best and then use them as a complete system. We have consistently found that use of all three of these products in conditions as varying as dandruff, pitta related hair fall, vata related hair dryness and chemical damage related hair breakage and dullness, use of all 3 products together, gives a much faster hair transformation.

 
A happy hair day everyday with Krya

We have been sharing personal transformation hair stories this last month on Krya, and how even severely chemically damaged hair has been restored to health using one of our hair systems. We receive a call / email amongst every single day from grateful consumers who cannot believe the transformation in their hair after mobbing out of synthetic solutions to our holistic, natural hair systems.

Almost every one of them uses the word “magic” when they describe the change our systems have wrought in their hair.

 

Is it magic?

 

Magic exists in the body’s propensity towards health and its willingness to heal itself. We have often said that hair and skin is supposed to look good. And when the body is in a state of health, this health radiates as hair that has a great hair day every day.

 

Even if our body is healthy, by the consistent use of unhealthy, synthetic products on our hair and skin, we create a state of ill health in our hair and skin. When we switch from using these ill health creating synthetic products, to holistic, natural products, we immediately start the natural healing process in our bodies.

 

Are you having a perpetually bad hair day? Are you looking for a change?

 

Your search ends here:

  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

 

  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

 

  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

 

  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)

 

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

 

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

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Reading Time: 21 minutes

“Dear Team Krya,

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

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

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

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

Can Krya and Ayurveda help? “

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

1.balance key

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

 

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

2.vata creates life

 

What are the qualities of Vata dosha?

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Skin and hair when vata is aggravated

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

3.heel cracks

 

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

 

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

4. vata hair

 

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

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

 

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

5. depression

 

Vata prakriti – some clues

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

 

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

 

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

6. vata creativity

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

 

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

 

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

 

The 14 Causes of vata aggravation

Raise your hand if this applies to you:

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

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

 

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

 

  1. Dry, hard and crisp foods are vata aggravating

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

 

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

 

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

7. old fashioned

 

 

  1. Light, airy foods are vata aggravating

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

8.cornflakes

 

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

 

  1. Lentils , nuts and seeds are high in vata

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

9.lentils nuts and seeds

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

10. gobi manchurian

 

  1. Baked goods are considered vata promoting

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

 

11.lavash

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

12. maida

 

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

 

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

 

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

13. instant noodles

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

14. tea and coffee

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

15.cola

 

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

 

16. unreal

 

  1. Eating at irregular times every day is vata aggravating

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

17.binge eating

 

 

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

 

  1. Being unplanned and chaotic is vata aggravating

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

 

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

18.chaos

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

  1. A high amount of physical activity aggravates vata dosha

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

 

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

19. running

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

stencil.krya-blog-landscape-new

 

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

 

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

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

20.excited mind

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

21.long calls

 

 

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

 

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

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

22. raw food

 

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

 

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

 

  1. Air travel and long commutes aggravate vata

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

23. the long commute

 

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

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

 

Krya recommendation for reducing vata aggravation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

 4-schedule

  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.

5-pada-abhyanga

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.

6-baby-abyanga

  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

7-vata

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.

8-awareness

 

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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Reading Time: 20 minutes

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.

blog-post-1-vata-and-pregnancy

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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