Fundamental Ayurvedic truths – Part 1

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This is the first part of our 4-part series on fundamental Ayurvedic terms – that will help you navigate the wonderful world of Ayurveda with confidence rather than frustration or confusion

An important reason to know these terms is simply this: these are fundamental truths about how the human body functions and how it relates with the world around. These terms are NOT merely “theories” or the opinion of a group of scientists. So even if your minds doesn’t agree with these concepts at first, your body will continue to obey these fundamental truths ( more on this will be explained in great detail in part-3 of this series)

To get started, here are the first two Ayurvedic Axioms

  1. Everything on this planet earth, living and inanimate, is made up of the 5 basic elements, the Pancha Maha Bhutas. These are Air, fire, water, earth and Space ( Ether).
  2. These 5 elements combine in unique pairs to form the 3 Doshas which are Vata, Pitta & Kapha. These 3 doshas can be thought of as “mind-body” types or “energies” and the human body is made of these 3 doshas.

2000px-Ayurveda_humors.svg

 

Vata Dosha:

Vayu + Akash (Air + Space) forms Vata dosha. When 2 great elemnts combine to form a Dosha, the qualities of both these elements are found in this Dosha. So Vata Dosha carries the speed and mobility of vayu and its dryness, and the vastness and emptiness of space.

vata dosha - vayu and akash

 

Pitta Dosha:

2 seemingly opposite elements, combine to form Pitta Dosha – Agni + Jala  (Fire + Water) . This gives Pitta dosha its ability to spread quickly, the copious water it secretes in the form of sweat, its intensity and sharpness and also its ability to subside as quickly as it started.

pitta dosha

 

Kapha dosha: 

Prithvi + Jala ( Earth + Water) forms Kapha dosha. Kapha dosha therefore carries the qualities of both elements – it carries stability, weight, hardness, oiliness, firmness and slowness.

kapha dosha

The 3 doshas in each of us:

Every person is made up of a combination of 3-doshas, which is determined at the time of birth and is known as a person’s prakriti. This is not static. As a person grows older and moves through life-stages, various doshas dominate that particular life phase. For example, childhood is dominated by Kapha, from puberty till about 50 years is dominated by Pitta & the old age is dominated by Vata dosha.

tridosha theory

 

The dosha –based understanding of the human body is unique to Ayurveda & this is what makes it so effective. For example, Kapha (Earth + Water) is the building block which builds the human body. So it makes sense that childhood is dominated by Kapha, so that a baby which is 3-4 kg at birth can grow and becomes 60-70 kg adult. If all life-stages were dominated by Kapha, we would continue to grow taller & bigger till the day we die.

 

Have you ever asked yourself why we stop growing taller after our teenage years? Why is there no answer to this question, based on first principles, in western medicine?

 

Further, now that we know that childhood is dominated by Kapha (Earth + Water) it is easier to understand why babies are so susceptible to colds , since Kapha already is a fundamentally “cool” or “cold” dosha.

 

Therefore the dosha concept is the fundamental method by which Ayurveda determines good health & disease. This is summarized in the following Axiom, (Reference Textbook: Ashtanga Hridayam)

 

“Vata, Pitta & Kapha are the three functional units of the body. They destroy or maintain the body, when vitiated (impaired) or not respectively. “

tridosha theory of health

This is a very important concept in understanding health & disease in Ayurveda. When the three-doshas in your body are in equilibrium (right quantity & in the right place) then you have good health. When they are vitiated, either in wrong quantities or wrong place, then it leads to disease. This also helps create the right practices or medicines to balance doshas and restore health.

 

For example, the creative part of the brain is driven by Vata and the ability to focus comes from Pitta dosha. An excessive use of creative brain force, like say an art director or excessive use of focus , like in project management , vitiates the respective doshas. So Ayurveda recommends specific herb-infused hair oils to be applied regularly to balance these excesses. The sense of touch when massaging the scalp and certain herbs like Brahmi & Jatamansi calms & pacifies Vata. So an Ayurvedic hair oil is both very specific to a person and also very powerful in its action despite being an external use product.

12.harmony hair oil

*Krya harmony hair oil – suggested for high mental activity + aggravated vata based hairfall

 

It is also important to note that the dosha theory extends also to times of the day – so at different times of the day, different doshas dominate. So at noon, with the sun at the zenith, Pitta dosha dominates the environment. Doshas also extend to foods and how they interact with doshas. For example dry, baked foods like breakfast cereal or biscuits will further aggravate Vata. So a person with joint pain (a Vata vitiated condition) will suffer more when they eat these dry foods.

like aggravates like
On the other hand, desi cow ghee is considered sacred because it is Tri-doshic (in small quantities) ,which means that it works well in different ways to pacify all 3-doshas , a very prized quality in Ayurveda. So this explains why a person may be lactose intolerant and allergic to milk but NOT to ghee, a concept only explained by Ayurveda.

This is the end of Part-1 of our 4 part series on Fundamental Ayurvedic Terms

At this point, many readers new to Ayurveda might find it overwhelming to choose products based on their Prakriti – so we have made it easy to choose krya products, suitable for your prakriti , be describing the typical symptoms. So if you can identify with these symptoms, you can easily select the appropriate hair-care system.

If you are still confused, or unsure please write to us or give us a call (0 – 75500-89090).

 

 

 

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An acne program that works – natural, authentic and holistic. Krya tells you how

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“Hello Team Krya,
Hope you’re well. Sorry for the late reply. The anti acne face wash has been working brilliantly for me. It’s no less than magic. Skin feels AMAZING after it. Regarding my hair, my existing hair feels much stronger now. Regrowth is still taking time. I haven’t been consistent with the abhyanga so far.. Thank you so much “ UN, Mumbai

Here is a bit of background to this email. UN is a young aspiring model who lives in Mumbai and had gotten in touch with us for a skin and hair consultation in August. He was exhibiting the classic signs of high Pitta – acne and hair thinning and was alarmed at the state of his skin and hair, given his profession. He was put on a pitta balancing diet with suggested regimen, lifestyle modifications along with a series of Krya products designed for pitta balance.

His email to us reporting drastic improvement in his skin is extremely encouraging – it means we are on the right track and that his dosha balance has begun improving. If the regimen is fully adopted, we should be able to see much stronger results on his hair as well.

What is acne?

Western science treats acne as a skin disorder where the hair follicles are clogged with dead skin cells and oily secretions from the skin (sebum). Depending upon how often this acne is picked, and the dust and pollution around the sufferer, the skin will have blackheads, whiteheads, be greasy, and may have scarring as well.

what-is-acne

Western cosmetics have also evolved to support this theory: so people are classified by the oil production on their face as those with oily skin, normal skin and dry skin. As the pimples are filled by sebum and dead cells, all external synthetic anti acne cosmetics focus on only 3 goals:

  1. Dry up the oil secretions on the surface so that the pimple is drained using alcohol based toners, and surfactant based washes
  2. Aggressively sanitise the skin so that there is no bacterial contamination of the skin
  3. Use highly astringent substances to give the skin a feeling of being “cool and non greasy”

The problem with cosmetic approaches to acne

Benzoyl peroxide is a common chemical used in anti-acne products. It is a known skin, eye and respiratory irritant. There are also a few concerns about its eco toxicity and its effect on other important organ systems within the body.

Triclosan is another common ingredient used in anti acne products for its anti bacterial effect. There is growing research to suggest that the increased use of Triclosan is giving rise to the growth of superbugs – bacteria resistant to antibiotics. A few studies also indicate that Triclosan could be a thyroid and hormone disruptor.

Oral contraceptives have also been used widely to treat acne. This has been linked to semi permanent and permanent changes in hormone secretion and birth defects if wrongly used in pregnant or lactating women.

synthetic-toners

The use of alcohol extracts in the toners sold for acne prone skin is also extremely troubling – besides being an environmental and respiratory hazard, this substrate is extremely drying and aging on skin. With constant use it upsets the natural sebaceous secretions on the skin, and dries out permanently areas of the skin where sebaceous secretions are fewer causing the early appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Similar effects are seen in the use of salicylic acid based anti acne products – topical application typically results in dry skin and skin darkening especially when used by people with a darker skin type.

What is acne according to Ayurveda?

Ayurveda treats acne as a pitta disorder where pitta dosha is vitiated. This could arise as a result of the person’s prakriti (individual constitution), the climate they live in (tropical climates tend to have a pitta aggravating effect), food eaten (sharp, spicy, salty, sour food tends to aggravate pitta dosha), nature of work (high level of stress, focus, aggression required).

tropical-climate

As the root cause of acne is identified as out of control Pitta dosha, an Ayurvedic company like Krya will attempt to correct this dosha imbalance by changes to the food, changes to the way you conduct your life, additions to your daily regimen, and changes to the products you use.

Pitta dosha deconstructed

In the Pancha mahabutha theory of Ayurveda, Pitta dosha which is made up of Agni (fire) is usually held responsible for the outbreak of acne. The seats of Pitta in the body are the Amasaya (stomach), sveda (sweat), Lasika (watery discharges from soft tissues and membranes like Lymph), Rudhira (blood), rasa (the nutrients absorbed by the body after digestion), Drk (the eyes) and Sparshana (the skin).

properties-of-pitta-dosha

Do make a note of all these diverse organs which are controlled by Pitta, because we will soon see the connection between what you eat, the nutrients you absorb, your eye sight and the state of your skin.

The Ashtanga Hridaya describes the qualities of Pitta dosha thus:

“Pittam sneha teekshano ushna laghu vishram sara dravam”

“The characteristics of Pitta dosha are Sneha (oiliness), Teekshana (sharp and intense), Ushna (Warm or hot), Laghu (light), Vishra (offensive or strong odour), Sara (fast moving) and Drava (liquid like).

Skin and hair characteristics of people with high Pitta dosha

As Pitta is oily and warm, people with high pitta dosha will have oily skin and hair with a feeling of heat. This means they will feel increases in temperature much more. Pitta is the seat of liquid secretions and offensive odours, so people with high Pitta dosha will sweat much more than others and may often have strong or intense body odours.

Pitta is also fast moving so all fast moving skin disorders come under Pitta’s influence: this include redness or itching that spreads on skin like prickly heat, measles, chickenpox and acne.

Pitta dosha affects hair by burning it and thinning it down and burning out its natural colour. So if your pitta dosha is high, you will grey faster, you will start balding faster and your hair will also thin much faster.

symptoms-of-pitta-dosha

The connection between your food and acne

Pitta dosha comprises of 5 types of Pitta which operate in different parts of the body using the intensive metabolic activity of Agni to give the body its vital nutrients. In acne we are concerned with 2 important types of Pitta Dosha.

The Bhrajaka Pitta dosha is located in the skin. This form of Pitta dosha gives skin what we are looking for in all skin products – true lustre and radiance from within.

But here is the key to understanding how Pitta dosha operates. The master key to Pitta dosha is the Pachaka Pitta dosha. The Pachaka Pitta dosha operates in your stomach and its key role is to digest your food and separate the useful part of your food which can be reabsorbed and separate the useless part which gets excreted.

The Pachaka pitta in your stomach, nourishes and kindles the other forms of Pitta including the Bhrajaka pitta which affects your skin.

Food and digestion: the master key to acne and greying

If Pachaka pitta, which handles digestion in your stomach is the key to all pitta dosha we must understand how we can influence Pachaka pitta through our food and our lifestyle.

For people with a predominantly pitta constitution, the Agni in their body is very high and intense. Think of it like a forest fire which rages out of control if left unchecked. So the key to controlling the disorders of high pitta lies in controlling the Pachaka pitta in the stomach.

4 diet changes to control acne:

  1. Reduce the intensity of Pitta by reducing Pitta increasing foods: – eliminate or reduce highly salty, highly spicy and highly sour foods which include:
    1. Red and green chillies

red-chillies

b. Curd

curd-rice

c. Tamarind, Kokum, Tomato, Raw mango

d. Foods that are high in salt – papad, wafers, commercially produced salty snacks, commercial chips

e. Foods that are high in salt – preserves, pickles

pickles

f. Pitta increasing oil seeds – sesame, sesame oil

g. Pitta increasing pulses – Tuvar / arhar dal (Pigeon peas)

h. Pitta increasing sugars – jaggery

  1. Reduce the aggravation of Pitta by feeding it on time
    1. Eat strictly on time at the same time everyday
    2. Eat with the sun – follow the sun cycle so that you eat when digestive power is aided by the sun. If you eat lunch at 2:30 pm for example, you have to rely on your internal Pitta dosha to supply a high amount of digestive fire power. If you eat lunch at noon on the other hand, the sun will help your internal pitta, so energy is not depleted from your body

midday-lunch

c. Do not skip or delay meals – Pitta will rage on, feeding on your soft tissues leading to disorders like ulcers in advanced cases or a feeling of light headedness

  1. Add Desi (native) Cow Ghee
    1. Desi Cow Ghee is the primary Ayurvedic food weapon to control Pitta dosha. It calms down agni in the body and channels it by reducing its intensity but keeping up its strength

desi-cow-ghee

b. Desi Cow Ghee is light and aids digestion so helps the job of Pitta

c. Desi Cow Ghee is also tridoshic – so it acts without weakening the other doshas

  1. Add foods that are cooling and opposite to that of Pitta dosha
    1. A small amount of bitters help calm down Pitta – this is why Ayurvedic solutions for acne use bitters like Neem. Similarly eating a small amount of bitter foods like bitter gourds are very useful in bringing down Pitta

bitters

b. Add cooling foods to the diet: Aged Mung dal, the liberal use of coconut, mucilaginous vegetables like okra, ash gourd, pumpkin, and beetroot, native greens are all useful vegetables to add in Pitta disorders. Ensure the vegetables are pesticide free, fresh and in season.

okra

The way we live our life can itself be aggravating Pitta dosha. So we will see next the regimen changes we advise when Pitta dosha is aggravated.

Regimen changes to make in Pitta disorders:

  1. Regular hair oiling – One of the important seats of Pitta is the Sira (head), and this is the seat which generates Ushna (heat) by the activity of the eyes and the brain. When this Pitta is left uncontrolled, it not only greys hair prematurely, causes thinning and balding, but it also affects vision. Apart from directly affecting the hair and the eyes, excess pitta in this area ultimately affects digestion, Pachaka Pitta and therefore your skin. The hair oil chosen should be formulated with pitta cooling and pitta channelling herbs so that it effectively traps the constant pitta being generated and releases it from the scalp. Please note: that a mineral oil based hair oil SHOULD NOT be used on the head as it increases pitta dosha.

pitta-reducing-hair-oil

  1. Weekly / Bi-weekly Abhyanga – The practice of a regular abhyanga unclogs the srotas of excess oil secretions, and gives the heat generated by the body an effective medium to be trapped and come out. The process of the abhyanga generates heat, helping unclog blocked skin pores and removing dead cells, micro organisms and excess sebum. Oil application may seem contrarian when viewed from the Western lens – if we see the problem of acne as being simply oily skin, then oil application seems unjustified. But if we view acne through the lens of Ayurveda and understand aggravated Pitta as the problem, then an abhyanga is perfect. When done with the right oil and in the right manner, an abhyanga traps excess pitta immediately and effectively and leaves the body in a state of balance. Regular abhyanga practitioners will find that their skin and hair improves in appearance, their digestion improves and their moods become much more balanced. This is the magic of the abhyanga!

abhyanga

 

  1. Practice of meditation to calm down the body and bring down high stress levels – Meditation and pranayama (along with yoga) are extremely useful in controlling the high focus, high stress and high tension brought on by aggravated Pitta. The mind becomes clearer and sharper and is able to work better when given a restful and healthier environment.

meditation

  1. Reduce eye strain: As the eyes are also an important seat of Pitta, we advise reducing eye strain by following a few Ayurvedic methods.
    1. Start your day by rinsing your eyes in clear cold water. You can blink your eyes rapidly in cool water held in your palm.
    2. Gaze into the horizon around sunrise and sunset. The rays of the rising sun at dawn especially are very good for the entire body and the eyes

dawn

c. Gaze into the rays of the moon on Poornima – walking on bare sand or the earth on full moon days after moon rise is extremely beneficial for the body especially to cool aggravated Pitta dosha

full-moon

d. Take a screen break every hour and give your legs and eyes a change – walk over to your friend’s desk or better still, walk around the block post 3 pm to give yourself a break

e. While E-readers are better for the environment, they will strain your eyes much more compared to physical books. Ensure atleast half your reading is on physical books

printed-books

f. Read less in artificial light and at night. Utilise natural, unshielded light (unfiltered through glass panes or windows) much more for work that involves your eyes.

Ayurvedic treatment of Acne and acne scars

We have seen how Ayurveda diagnoses and treats acne, so you should expect a different approach from Krya’s anti acne products as well. We have seen how western cosmetics superficially attack acne. The focus there is on removing excess oil through surfactants and alcohol, controlling sebaceous production and the use of anti bacterial agents to control the spread of bacteria.

We have seen the environmental and personal dangers behind the ingredients used on these products. Apart from these, most acne sufferers find that their skin becomes patchy, dull, unbalanced and loses its radiance with these solutions. Faster aging of skin is also a common complaint with the rapid appearance of wrinkles and fine lines with constant product use.

The most differentiated aspect of a Krya anti acne face wash is that it is one of our most gentle face wash products among a range which is already very gentle. This is very different from how western cosmetics are formulated – a synthetic anti acne face wash will usually be very drying and stripping on skin.

gentle-face-wash

Why does Krya treat acne prone skin extremely gently?

Krya follows the Ayurvedic rule of opposites when treating acne which is a Pitta prone disorder. Pitta is strong, intense, sharp and rapid. We formulate our acne products to be cool, gentle, mild and soft on skin.

So you will find that the Krya anti acne face wash is very soft textured, very gentle on skin, cleanses very mildly and does not provoke any intense or adverse reaction. Among all our products it is the most gentle and healing.

Natural herbs to combat acne and reducing scarring

The Krya anti acne skin products use our special patent-pending production process and herbs recommended by Ayurveda to work on acne prone skin. Manjishta (Indian madder) is one of the herbs we use extensively in Krya’s anti acne products. Manjishta is a gentle, bitter herb that is renowned for enhancing complexion and radiance.

herb-enriched-krya-acne-products

Acharya Charaka describes Manjishta as a Jwarahara (reduces fever) and Acharya Sushruta describes it as a Pittasamaka (balances Pitta). All the Ayurvedic texts have described Manjishta as a herb that enhances complexion and radiance of skin. It is a famous Rakta Shodaka herb (blood purifying herb) in Ayurveda and Siddha. When used in our products, Manjishta improves micro circulation of the skin, cleanses well, draws out toxins and evens out scarring and complexion with regular use.

We use Manjishta in 2 ways in our acne products – Manjishta forms part of our medicated lentil base where we make a special herb decoction for acne into which our lentils and grains are steeped in for a day. In this way, the base lentils and herbs are charged with the medicinal properties of the herbs used in the medicated decoction.

patent-pending

Apart from this, Manjishta is also used separately in the formulation as an ingredient.

Lodhra (Symplocus racemosa) is another famous Ayurvedic skin repair herb that we use in the Krya Anti acne products. Lodhra is astringent, cooling and a tonic Ayurvedic herb. It helps gives firmness to skin, reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines and helps reduce pitta in skin.

Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna) is another renowned Ayurvedic herb used to reduce acne in Krya’s anti acne products. It is widely known as a drug given to improve cardiovascular health without side effects. Arjuna is an astringent Ayurvedic herb and is also classified in the list of “Udarda prashamana” herbs – that are used to treat certain skin disorders and infestations like ring worm. Being cooling in nature, it balances pitta dosha. We use it in Krya’s anti acne products to bring down the inflammatory effect of acne, shrink down pimple volume and cool aggravated pitta. It also helps treat minor skin infections which may arise in recurrent or cystic acne.

arjuna-1

These are just a small sample of the 31 Ayurvedic anti acne herbs used in the Krya Anti acne face mask and the 19 Ayurvedic anti acne herbs used in the Krya anti acne face wash. Details of both of these products can be found on the Krya website.

In addition to our acne products, here are some associated Krya products that will help bring down acne, and balance pitta dosha as described above:

  1. Krya Classic Hair Oil with Amla & Bhringaraj to cool the head, reduce pitta in the eyes and the scalp

classic-hair-oil

  1. Krya Abhyanga Oil with Vacha & Ashwagandha for biweekly Abhyanga to reduce overall body pitta

The final pimple solution from Ayurveda

Through this post, you should be able to understand how the Ayurvedic treatment for acne is unique, different, well rounded and holistic. The difference lies in understanding the root cause of acne unlike western treatments which are merely superficial.

When viewed as a pitta disorder, the solution to acne becomes multifold: the use of high quality, timely food which is right for you, a balancing regimen that brings down dosha imbalance through corrected behaviour and the use of high quality, and natural herb filled products that are formulated based on Ayurvedic first principles.

It is no wonder that our consumer, UN, saw an almost magical cure to his yearlong acne problem. In fact he is also seeing changes in the health of his hair by just working on reducing his Pitta holistically.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post and also hope you were able to appreciate the difference in approach Krya followed when treating hair and skin problems. If you too have battled acne , scarring, stubborn pimples or are alarmed at rapidly greying hair or hair fall, and would like to consult us, do call us on 075500-89090 or write to us.

As we often see and say at Krya, true beauty comes from wellness, and wellness alone.

 

 

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Ayurvedic Tejas – Krya Abhyanga Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

blog-post-10

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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