Eating for Good Health – An Ayurvedic Perspective : Part 1

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Reading Time: 11 minutes

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

1. universally healthy

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

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

3. gradual is better

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.damp agni

 

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

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

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

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

7.cheese

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

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

 

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

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

8.putrefecation

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

10.idly

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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


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

9-ubtan

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


 

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Treating open pores with ayurveda

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

Email 1:

“Dear Team Krya

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

Can you help with this?”

 

Email 2:

“Dear Team Krya,

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

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

What are open pores?

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

blog 1 - magazine

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

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

Clinical dermatological Research on open pores:

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

Some of the conclusions this study drew were as follows:

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

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

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

blog 2 open pores

Current aesthetic beliefs and practices around open pores:

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

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

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

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

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

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

blog 5 peel

The Ayurvedic point of view on open pores:

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

The Rise of Pitta dosha in middle age:

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

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

blog post 7 middle age

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

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

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

Pitta aggravated skin and hair symptoms:

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

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

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

blog post 10 pitta hair

How pitta aggravation enlarges and worsens open pores:

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

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

Oily food aggravates pitta dosha clogging pores from within

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

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

How is Pitta aggravated skin treated in Ayurveda?

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

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

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

blog post 11 treat gently

Ayurvedic Srota cleansing

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

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

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

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

blog post 12 srota cleansing

Use of pitta balancing, cooling herbs

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

blog post 13 pitta balancing

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

Use of bitter, anti bacterial and anti fungal herbs

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

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

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

Use of complexion improving and blemish correcting herbs

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

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

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

blog post 15 even out

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

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

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

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

To sum up:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Krya Products suggested for Pitta prakriti Skin :

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

 

 

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Krya formulation Tuesdays – Krya classic skin oil with Manjishta & Chandana for oily skin

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Reading Time: 10 minutes

I recently received an email from a consumer asking for help to choose the right skin care products for her. She is a 21 year old girl who lives in a very hot and dry climate where temperatures are usually between 37 – 40 deg centigrade. She found that her skin was going dry in summer, so she opted for a reputed brand of moisturizing face wash (synthetic).

At first, her skin responded well and the sense of dryness was gone. Within a few weeks of continuing to use the face wash, this young girl found that her skin started to get much oilier than normal, and whiteheads and blackheads started to crop up.

Here’s where Ayurveda’s subtle nuances on diagnosing exactly which dosha is unbalanced can help us. Regular cosmetic science simply diagnoses dry skin as well, dry skin. So skin is simply subjected to an oilier lotion with a higher number of humectants. As all synthetic creams and lotions are made from a base that is derived from petroleum, we see that the product tends to be comedogenic (pore clogging) and is also not absorbed by the skin.

1.when dry skin isnt really dry skin

So any difference we see is surface, and we are not helping the skin at a deeper level. Also, because of the pore clogging nature of the products themselves, we are interfering with or impairing the normal functioning of the skin underneath.

 

Prakriti (individual constitution): a valuable tool to identify the correct dosha imbalance in skin

Ayurveda classifies our prakriti as the unique mixture of doshas that make up who we are. This is made unique by taking in factors like our age, the season, the climatic conditions where we live, the current stresses we go through, our life stage, etc.

Each of these factors contribute to our prakriti at any point in time. Depending upon where we live, season, age, etc, our natural prakriti may see an increase in specific doshas or a decrease in specific doshas. This can cause an imbalance which can lead to skin, hair or other health issues.

 

Example 1: Life stage and diet affecting prakriti

Take the case of a Vata-Pitta prakriti individual. She is around 30, and has just delivered a baby 2 months ago. She is not following standard pathiyam diet and is instead eating a lot of sour and spicy food. Her hair is greying and is also looking very dry, with brittleness and snapping of the hair when ebbing combed.

 

In Ayurveda, we would analyse her condition thus:

Being a Vata-Pitta prakriti individual, she is already subject to the drying, mobile influence of Vata and heating influence of Pitta. As she is in her 30s, age-wise she is in Pitta dominant stage of her life. As she has just given birth and has not followed proper pathiyam and post partum abhyanga, her Vata dosha will be in excess. As she is now eating Pitta increasing foods, pitta prakriti will also be in excess.

2.post partum greying

 

So we see vata and pitta vitiated condition in hair like premature greying, drying of scalp, and brittleness of hair. If we further question her, we may also see dryness and redness in skin, presence of youvana pidaka (acne on back and skin), aches and pains in the back and hips and IBS or constipation depending upon what is being eaten.

For this lady, we should give pitta and vata pacifying (shramana) measures. Her diet must be corrected, eating timings must be regulated, and vata pacifying measures like Abhyanga should be adopted. Hair oiling must be done with a pitta reducing oil and ghee intake and stomach and back exercises must be done to regulate both doshas and promote strength and vitality in the body.

 

How is skin diagnosed in Ayurveda: an example

Taking the example of the young girl who had written to us about her skin. She is 21, and lives in a hot and dry climate. In this age, pitta is generally dominant. Pitta may have gotten worse by the pitta in the environment because of high temperature.

Skin can go dry in Ayurveda because of 2 reasons: Vata dosha dominant climate so in peak winter, due to cold weather, we see “rooksha” or roughness in the skin.

Skin can also go dry in hot sum. So when we spend a day at the beach, or stay outside in very hot weather, we see that the skin goes dry and parched when the sun removes moisture from the skin. Tanned skin is also dry due to high heat. However, it does not crack like skin does in cold and dry weather. Instead it burns and becomes tight and uncomfortable due to excess pitta.

3. sun aggravated dryness

 

The herbs and anupana used for vata related dryness and pitta related dryness will therefore be completely different. For vata related dryness, we use moisture-rich herbs and seeds like almonds, charoli, and sweet herbs like Yashti (Liquorice) and damage repairing herbs like Ashwagandha.

The herbs and anupana used for pitta related dryness are quite different. We use pitta balancing herbs like Neem, Durva, Sariva, etc. All these herbs suck out excess Pitta and improve the skin pigmentation and darkening brought in by excess pitta. We use circulation and rakta rejuvenating herbs like Manjishta and Daru haridra. We also use rejuvenatory and skin improving herbs and fruits like Brahmi, Mangoes, etc.

4. neem

 

 

Facial care in Ayurveda: cleansing rules

Skin cleansing is done following a rigid set of rules in Ayurveda. Skin is always cleansed with a well thought out combination of herbs, grains and lentils. This ensures that the skin’s pH and barrier function is well maintained. Depending upon the prakriti of the individual and ritukala (season), specific herbs are added to the base.

When cleansed this way, the sebum levels in the skin are never suddenly depleted or added to. Skin remains soft and does not feel parched and tight. Most importantly, the cleansing is strongly functional and removes clogs and toxins from the cells leaving the skin free to continue its normal functioning.

5. gentle ayurevdic clenaisng

Facial skin is always cleansed in cool or luke warm water. The cleansing is done using gentle circulatory movements and is done after yogic exercise or any sort of movement to help flush out toxins from the skin pores.

 

The role of lepas (creams), oils and leave on masks in Ayurveda:

Try as we might we do not see references to leave on skin products in Ayurveda. Certain lepas (creams) are formulated specifically for diseased skin conditions like burns where the skin requires the healing effect of herbs and cannot be left open and unprotected.

Masks or short leave on products are routinely referenced too and used in Ayurveda. Sometimes this could be a part of the bathing routine itself where the ubtan / bathing powder is itself used like a mask. Sometimes, a specially formulated mask is used to transfer the healing and repairing properties of the herbs to skin.

6. lepas and masks

 

The concept of emulsions is very well known in Ayurveda: so many ancient recipes for Ayurvedic creams exist. However, lotions are not a common skin care format in Ayurveda. For skin application, different kinds of oils are routinely used.

 

Many specific facial oils are referred to in Ayurveda: kumkumadi tailam is one such formulation, which has now become extremely well known (we will do a separate post on this later on the Krya blog). This is a very ancient formulation said to have been developed by the Ashwini Kumaras. Kumkumadi tailam is generally used for youvana pidaka (Acne) or skin which has hyper pigmentation, blemishes and darkening due to excess pitta or sun exposure.

7. kumkumadi tailam

Generally even these facial oils are used pre-bath. The texts also allow for application at night on damp skin in very minute quantity. When doing a leave on application of any skin care product, we must take great care to understand the right dosage of the product for our skin. The product must be easily absorbed by the skin and should not persist, and clog its pores.

 

How does very dry skin occur as per Ayurveda:

I often receive emails from consumers stating that their skin is very dry and literally “drinks up” moisturiser. So they are dismayed when I tell them I have no natural substitute to their leave on moisturiser. Being used to routinely applying a leave on moisturiser, our no-moisturiser-on-skin policy is received with dismay.

 

Here are some points where Ayurveda differs when it comes to slathering skin with moisturiser:

  • Skin is supposed to perspire and do heat exchange with the atmosphere keeping the rest of the body cool
  • Sweda (sweat) is an important vehicle to remove excess salts, and toxins which are excreted form the body. The proper production of Sweda supports other excretory organs like the kidneys which can get overloaded if your skin does not do its work
  • Therefore the goal of Ayurvedic skin care is to properly moisturise the skin and all its layers and then cleanse it well so the minor srotas (circulatory channels) are open and functioning well to do their job of heat regulation and cleansing.

8. Sweda

This leads me to the main reason many of us like using a moisturiser: dehydration due to the AC at home / work.

 

Skin dehydration due to high usage of the air conditioner:

If we work in an air conditioned environment, we are subjecting our skin and body to microbes which are constantly being circulated in the stale air, low humidity and temperatures which are not ideal for the body. Living and working in an air conditioned environment sharply increases vata in the body so skin becomes dry, and aches and pains increase. When vata aggravating food is added to this (tea, coffee, crisp, and dry food, junk food), the vata aggravates even more.

10.ac and coffee

In this environment, it is good to eat a meal which is rich in good fats like ghee, avoiding dehydrating drinks like tea and coffee and taking breaks from the ac environment to give your body a break. It is also important to stay hydrated and ensure you drink a minimum amount of clean water (preferably warm) to keep vata from being unbalanced.

 

The use of Ayurvedic facial oils to supplement skin healing, nourishment and moisture retention:

When you eat right, cleanse right, and broadly live right and either avoid the ac or supplement for the AC, you will find that your skin is able to generate enough sebum to protect it.  A weekly Abhyanga is a very important health giving practice that is extremely beneficial to skin and hair health as well. Once this is done, skin requires only small amounts of external moisturisation to aid it during difficult seasons like winter or to overall boost its radiance and lustre.

 

Therefore a popular Krya recommendation is the use of appropriate facial oil, in very small doses to help the skin balance and heal itself. The facial oil is usually applied in very small quantities before a bath and left on for 15 minutes before cleansing, if the skin is very dry to begin with. This helps protect the skin until its health is restored and it is able to help itself.

9. moisture plus skin oil

 

Another very beneficial way to use facial oil is at night. Here we use even smaller quantities of oil, as a little oil goes a very long way o skin. Facial oil is applied 1 hour before sleeping on clean, damp skin. The slight amount of dampness on skin helps take up the oil being applied. Precisely 3 – 4 drops of facial oil are used and very gently and lightly massaged onto damp skin using the ring finger. The oil is left on at night.

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The needs of different kinds of skin vary, and skin also needs sometime getting used to a new routine. We advise that you start slowly (application before bath) and then graduate to night time use. When in doubt, use less product and not more.

 

The Krya Classic skin oil with Papaya and Jatamamsi:

We have been working and re-working our formulation with the classic range for some time now. This variant has been in existence at Krya for more than 1.5 years now, and with every successive batch, we have made minor tweaks to the formulation based on our growing body of research and consumer feedback.

 

The Krya Classic skin oil with Manjishta and Chandana has been formulated with 22 nourishing, oil balancing and pitta balancing herbs and fruits like Manjishta, Chandana (Sandal), Lodhra, Brahmi, Neem. We also add complexion enhancing and blemish reducing seasonal fruits like papaya into the oil.

11. Krya classic skin oil resized

The oil also uses sneha (oils) like Neem and Tamanu which classically help balance sebum secretion and are useful for pitta prakriti skin.

 

As we have seen in the example shared above, even Pitta prakriti skin can go dry in certain conditions. This is a dryness which comes with excess heat, so a skin moisturising product that works with skin without disturbing Pitta and adding excess oiliness will suit this skin. Continued use of the product helps work on minor skin blemishes, scars and evens out skin tore and lustre. The anti bacterial nature of many of the herbs and oils used also helps preventing microbial infection and the occurrence of cystic acne with regular use.

 

To sum up:

On Formulation Tuesdays, we generally focus a lot on how we make the formulations we discuss for that day, and our philosophy behind the herbs, oils and manufacturing process followed. As I re-read my post, I notice that the post discusses the concept of Ayurvedic skin care in much greater detail than the formulation itself.

I hope this background was useful to you and you were able to understand, appreciate and resonate with the differences between how Ayurveda cares for your skin (vs. modern cosmetic products). Our ongoing Formulation Tuesday series is designed to improve transparency and give you a greater understanding into how we think about, design and manufacture our products. We believe that greater transparency promotes better choices and helps you make better decisions on what you apply o yourself or use around you in your home.

 

If you have any questions on our products, the philosophy behind our products, or a specific question on skin and hair, please do get in touch with us.
Krya’s skin oils can be explored 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.

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

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

 

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

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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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!”

blog-post-3-harsh-synthetics

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.

blog-post-4-fumigation

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”.

 blog-post-7-vacha 

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.

blog-post-8-naming

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

“Shoorairayodhibheergupathmadrashyam nagaram paraiha

Yatha shishovarpurathdhwagatho thaovirddhibhigrahaiha”

 

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

 

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

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

 

Massage and Bathing Rituals

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ayurvedic first principles:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Ayurvedic first principles: the use of herb enhanced collyrium

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

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

Diet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ayurvedic first principles – a healthy post partum diet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

General atmosphere in a post-natal home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The changing patterns of motherhood

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

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

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


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

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

 


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

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

 

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

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

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

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

 

Manasa Vikasam – Psychological development of the infant

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Excess vata – an urban malaise

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

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

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

 

Ayurvedic herbs to control excess vata

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

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

 

The Krya Abhyanga skin oil with Vacha and Ashwagandha

Bala (Sida cordifolia)

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

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

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

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

 

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Krya products recommended to balance vata for women and men:

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

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

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

 

To conclude:

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

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

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

Remember, beauty is achieved only when health is achieved.

 

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Is post pregnancy hairfall giving you sleepless nights? Try Ayurveda instead. From Krya

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

We have been speaking on the Krya blog on the benefits of the Abhyanga. We recommend that everyone incorporates the Abhyanga into their weekly regimen to experience the dosha balancing benefits of the practice.

In our posts on Pitta dosha yesterday and the day before, we mentioned what a vital piece of the pitta balancing puzzle the Abhyanga is. When done regularly and with the right oils, the practice of Abhyanga helps trap excess heat throughout the body and in the eyes, and releases this heat through the sweda or the sweat along with the debris, dead cells and micro organisms that are also dislodged from the skin during the practice.

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One of the most common reasons today for hair fall is the post partum loss of hair. Many of our consumers write to us in alarm having experienced a loss of volume of nearly 50% post pregnancy.

Western medical science tells us that a small amount of post partum hair loss is normal and inevitable. The rationale behind this is that oestrogen levels rise to extremely high levels during pregnancy. This drops to its normal level post partum – so the high oestrogen level contributes to thicker, fuller healthy hair growth during pregnancy. Post pregnancy as the oestrogen levels drop, there is supposed to be a temporary drop in hair growth which is supposed to adjust after a few months to the normal hair.

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You may use the pointed use of many “supposeds” in the paragraph above. This is because the reality is quite different.

A modern pregnancy and how it deviates from many of the principles proposed by Ayurveda

We will explore this subject over the course of more posts, but the modern pregnancy and the diet followed is very contrarian to the principles proposed by Ayurveda. Ayurveda treats pregnancy as a special condition, (not an illness) and proposes that the pregnancy woman be treated very differently from what is normally done as regards to the diet, herbs given, and lifestyle.

Every month as the foetus grows, Ayurveda adds herbs that are appropriate to that stage of growth.

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Here are some common contradictions in the Ayurvedic approach and a modern pregnancy. Once the pregnancy is established, Ayurveda‘s focus is on maintaining coolness and providing adequate amounts of nourishing, naturally sweet foods to sustain healthy growth. Therefore foods high in pitta like curd are considered strictly off limits. For the same reason, a pregnant woman is given copious amounts of tridoshic ghee and certain kinds of naturally cooling butters like navneetam to give the body a good amount of Sneha and maintain the right environment for the foetus to grow and thrive.

An increase in vata is not considered healthy in pregnant women. Also, as normal vata reducing measures like Abhyanga are contraindicated during pregnancy, aggravation of vata is controlled by strictly adhering to a simple, easy to digest diet and avoiding vata stimulating activities.

For example, Ayurveda would frown on air travel for pregnant women. It would consider this extremely vata stimulating. The main reason for taking this care is that normal vata reducing measures like Abhyanga, and in dire cases medicated procedures like vasti (medicated vata reducing enema) are not supposed to be done in Ayurveda.

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Vata is also carefully controlled to help the body prepare for the process of labour. For this reason, in Ayurveda, a pregnant woman is given carefully monitored medicated abhyangas towards the end of pregnancy in the 8th and 9th month. Medicated vastis (enemas) may also be added to clean out the body of any accumulated vata. We will see the reason for this emphasis on vata in the next section.

The effect of childbirth on vata dosha and Ayurvedic post partum care:

We have spoken at length about the differences between how Ayurveda treats the body and how Western science treats the body. This is evident even when we look at hair and skin disorders. As Ayurveda goes to the root cause of the disorder, it is able to be predictive and prescriptive and suggest holistic changes that tackle the problem much faster.

Nowhere is this more evident than how Ayurveda understands the action of vata dosha post child birth.

Soon after delivery, with the birth of the child and expulsion of placenta and other material in the womb, 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. This is why there is a strong Ayurvedic tradition of Sneha and Abhyanga for the post partum mother and child.

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Traditional childcare practices also follow this wisdom – the stomach of the mother is tied tightly using cloth and a trained nurse’s assistance is sought to give both the mother and the baby a daily Abhyanga and bath. Typically vata reducing herbs are used in the oil and the bath water. For the baby this helps remove the exhaustion of child birth. For the mother, this deters vata form increasing and also helps relieve her strain and tiredness post delivery.

Apart from physically reducing the space for vata dosha to rush in by tying the stomach and oleating the body, the new mother is also given plenty of ghee, and sweet, easy to digest foods like old rice, Mung dal and a careful selection of vegetables. Vata increasing vegetables and lentil preparations are avoided for some time. The emphasis is on giving galactologue foods and foods that enable the mother to recover her strength quickly without impacting dosha balance.

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The reality of modern post partum care

Conversation after conversation illustrates to us just how different the reality of having a baby in today’s world is. Most new mothers live in different cities from their parents and are usually working in high stress jobs almost right until their pregnancy. Maternity leave is usually around 3 months in many companies, after which these mothers rejoin work.

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Also, very few mothers are now having normal deliveries. A C section ensures that the much needed oleation and Abhyanga cannot be done until the stitches heal, costing the mother a lot of valuable progress in reducing vata dosha. Plus the absence of good Ayurvedic doctors or trained nurses who can help with traditional baby care in cities means that the Ayurvedic practices I have outlined remain unknown.

Of course, over and above this, modern doctors see ghee as an anathema. It is considered unhealthy and cholesterol inducing, so even regular people do not consume it. It is not seen as important for the post partum mom or the pregnant women, thus again depriving her of a valuable dosha balancing food.

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This means that when we at Krya get a call from moms who are losing hair at an alarming rate, we have already lost a valuable amount of time where we could have worked on the vata imbalance.

The connection between vata dosha imbalance and post partum hair fall:

We saw the shloka from the Charaka Samhita yesterday which talks about how aggravated pitta and vata dosha causes hairfall:

“  Tejoniladhau saha keshoboomim dagdhvashu kuryath khalitya narasya

Kinchitu dagdhva palithani kuryadhyareprabatham cha shiro roohanam”

“When high pitta combines with vata, it burns the hair from the roots very rapidly, causing baldness. If the pitta is not that high, it turns hair grey or fully white.”

So a post partum mom is already on a case of vata imbalance because of childbirth and the resultant gap in the womb. To this existing large vata imbalance, we can add an improper diet, lack of oleation, intake of food that is not conducive to her current state and we have the complete recipe for aggravated hairfall, hair thinning, premature greying and unhealthy hair.

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It is no wonder that all of our post partum Moms tell us that their entire body feels dry – their skin feels dry, rough and flaky. Their hair feels brittle, coarse and breaks easily when pulled or tugged or even when washed. They report seeing bunches of falling hair on their pillows when they wake up in the morning.

The 3 step Ayurvedic approach to post partum hair loss

We will spend a little more time tomorrow to elaborate further on this so you will have a handy reckoner of what to do to slow down your post partum hairfall. But here are the basic 3 Ayurvedic steps to establish your hair and health routine:

  1. Control the vata in your diet (and we have written several posts on the earlier)
    1. Reduce vata aggravating foods like bread, biscuits, ready to eat cereal, maida , fried food, aerated drinks
    2. Reduce vata aggravating vegetables in your diet – potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, peas
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    4. Reduce vata aggravating lentils in your diet – channa, rajma, dried peas (anything that is hard, and takes a long time to cook)
    5. Reduce water depleting drinks like tea, coffee , cola and aerated drinks
    6. Add vata controlling , nourishing foods – ghee, old rice, split mung dal, native vegetables in season like squash, gourds, carrots, beets
  2. Change some parts of your lifestyle to bring down vata
    1. Eat on time every day
    2. Eat warm, freshly cooked food
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    4. Focus on your food and eat in silence (talking while eating aggravates vata)
    5. Add a regular (twice a week) Abhyanga (head and body) to your routine which is done within the first hour of sunrise with vata controlling oils
    6. Cut down excessive travel
    7. Cut down vata aggravating practices like excessive cell phone and electronic screen usage
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  3. Add the right products to your regimen (and we will give your some recommendations below)

 

Krya’s products that can help with post partum hair fall:

As the Abhyanga is the cornerstone to reducing vata which is essential to post partum hairfall, the Krya Abhyanga system can help you in balancing your doshas. The Krya Abhyanga system comprises of our Abhyanga skin oil and a specially formulated ubtan (we have different Ubtans for men and women). The Krya Abhyanga oil with Vacha and Ashwagandha has been specially formulated with Vata reducing herbs like Bala, Sunthi, Maricha, and Jeera to keep the body warm and trap excess vata.

You can explore these products here:

  1. Krya Abhyanga skin oil with Vacha and Ashwagandha (unisex)
  2. Krya women’s Ubtan with Lotus Leaf and Lodhra
  3. Krya Men’s Ubtan 

abhyanga-bath-essential

In addition to our Abhyanga products, we have 4 different hair systems depending on your hair type and hair issues.

  1. The Classic hair system helps pitta prone prakritis (straight or wavy hair that tends to get slightly oily – pitta dosha and therefore body heat is strong)
  2. The Conditioning hair system helps vata prone prakritis (wavy or curly hair that is typically quite dry, frizzy and experiences a lot of static – vata dosha therefore inherent dryness of skin and hair is strong)
  3. The Anti dandruff system helps if you have stubborn dandruff. We usually recommend treating the dandruff and then moving to a hair system that suits your prakriti
  4. The Damage repair hair system is if your hair has been severely chemically damaged
  5. The Intense Hair Oil along with other hair products we would suggest (if the hair fall is very strong due to other issues like severe medication, complicated pregnancy / delivery etc)

A holistic solution: the key to managing health

As we have been saying in the Krya blog, it is important to seek a holistic solution to your health. Skin and hair issues arise from a lack of balance in the body and are early warning signs. If we heed these early warning signs and take corrective action, we are able to prevent much bigger complications that could arise in the future.

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.

Remember, where there is health, there is beauty.

 

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