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Greeshma Ritucharya – Ayurvedic Guidelines for Summer

Greeshma ritu guidelines krya

According to Ayurveda, greeshma rtu is a two month season of peak summer. It lasts from mid-May to mid-July. Greeshma rtu is the last of the 3 seasons in the adana kaala or Northern solstice, when the Sun moves in the northern direction (same as Uttarayana). 

Adana kala and its impact on our body

Adana kaala starts from makara sankaranti, which falls in mid-january, and lasts till the end of greeshma rtu. This is considered to be a period of ‘reduction’ or ‘extraction by squeezing out energy’ for humans and all sentient beings on this planet. During this period, the Earth’s atmosphere becomes more dry and hot due to the northern movement of the Sun. 

As adana kaala proceeds from late winter till summer, and the intensity of the Sun rises, we experience two things; 

  • We feel increasingly tired and listless .
adana kala in summer
  • When the Sun becomes more piercing, the kapha dosha in our body depletes. The overall ojas (vitality) in our body also depletes because ojas is linked to a healthy kapha dhatu. That’s why we often speak of feeling “wrung out” or “squeezed out like a fruit” in this season. And, the Ayurvedic texts confirm this effect as well.
  • The fresh produce and water bodies become tikta (bitter), kashaya (astringent) and katu (pungent/ sharp)
  • In the uttarayana path of the Sun (from winter to summer), there is a strong increase in teekshna (piercing and intense), ushna (hot) and rooksha (drying) properties of the Sun, which also reflects in the Earth’s atmosphere. Hence, the fresh produce and water bodies get affected by the piercing intensity of the Sun, and carry these tastes. 

Properties of greeshma rtu / summer season

During greeshma rtu we experience many symptoms associated with heat, dryness and intensity. 

  • We feel wrung out or squeezed out. The Ayurvedic term for this is ‘sankshipta’
  • The kapha in our body gradually weakens and vata aggravates because of the combined effect of the Sun and wind
  • The weakening and aggravation of the two doshas in the body impair the basic digestive process.
Adana kala weakens kapha

On one hand, there is not enough kleda (moisture) in the body to sufficiently coat the food and slowly ‘cook it’ with our digestive agni. When the food is not properly digested, the body won’t be able to extract nutrients fully. 

On the other hand, for those with pitta dominant prakriti, the increase in heat fans the agni to teekshna (intense) levels. This is similar to what happens to our food when we cook it in high heat and without enough moisture. The food gets burnt and becomes unpalatable.  

In effect, when our digestion becomes impaired, our body absorbs little nutrients from the food we eat. Our body becomes weak. And we find it difficult to handle heavy or hard-to-digest foods. The body’s inability to extract nutrients efficiently also hampers our strength. And all our dhatus become weak. 

These effects show us that greeshma rtu is the season when our bodies become the most weak.

Food rules or ahara niyamas for greeshma rtu (Summer)

correct foods for summer
  • Eat madhura (sweet) tasting foods to replenish kapha, and balance vata and pitta in the body

  • Choose foods that are laghu (light) to avoid aggravating or  straining the digestive process

  • Include snigdha (slightly unctuous /oily) foods to counter the drying nature of the atmosphere, and to balance the weak kapha and aggravated vata

  • Choose plenty of liquid foods that are sheetya (cooling in nature) to balance ushna and teekshna properties in the atmosphere

  • Reduce ati-snigdha (deep-fried) and guru (heavy) foods like maida, because they put a strain on the digestive system

  • Avoid high amounts of tamasic food. For example, over-sweet, fried, junk foods are tamasic in nature. They induce lethargy. In greeshma rtu, they aggravate this condition further

Foods you can eat in greeshma rtu (Summer)

  • Eat polished or semi-polished rice (with bran removed), or white rice (Ayurvedic texts mention rice that looks like the moon or jasmine). White-coloured rice is easier to digest, has good madhura rasa, does not put a strain on digestion, and doesn’t aggravate pitta.
  • Make your daily dishes like dal and sambar more watery than usual. Use less tamarind in daily cooking. Try souring agents like amla or lemon (which have madhura vipaka). You can also experiment with non-sour versions of these dishes.
  • If you regularly eat meat, have the rasa (watery soup) of lean animals.
  • Include melted A2 desi cow ghee in all three meals.
  • Drink boiled and cooled water stored in an earthen pot. You can flavour the water with specific herbs like patranga and vetiver. Unboiled water is guru (heavy), and hard to digest
  • Have well churned lassi or buttermilk (sweet or spiced). Have drinks like panaka. For example, it is good to have fresh fruit juices made from sweet fruits, and prepared with lemon and sugar. Coconut water is beneficial in summer as it is sweet & brahmanya. But remember to have it in the evening, like a snack, because it is also guru (heavy) in nature. Sugarcane juice is also a panacea in this season. It helps ease excess heat, burning sensations, burning urination, prickly heat, weakness and more.
Best drinks for summer
  • Include seasonal fruits in your diet. However, be careful to choose organic fruits grown without chemical contamination . Eat well-ripened, natural mangoes which have been plucked slightly raw and ripened at home naturally. You can also blend such mangoes with milk and drink. Well-ripened mangoes increase both pitta and kapha and reduce vata. Remember that in summer, an increase of kapha + reduction of vata is welcome, but not an increase in pitta. To avoid the ill effects of pitta aggravation, don’t overeat mangoes. If you are prone to heat boils or sores after eating mangoes, soak the mangoes for an hour in clean water before eating them. This reduces the pitta property of the mango. Chemically ripened mangoes and pesticide sprayed Mangoes are tasteless, high in heat and very bad for the body – PLEASE AVOID chemically grown or ripened mangoes.

Foods you should avoid in greeshma rtu (Summer)

  1. Avoid brown rice, red rice, black rice and millets
  2. Avoid ice creams. They do you NO GOOD. Stick to freshly squeezed fruit juices with some good quality, organic, sulphur-free sugar
  3. Avoid drinking iced, frozen and cold foods as well. They freeze pitta and cause blocks in the body. If you’re having foods like buttermilk, sugarcane juice and coconut water, don’t add ice or cold water to them. These liquids by themselves are cooling in nature
  4. Avoid CURD throughout the summer. Curd strongly aggravates pitta. It causes serious hives, prickly heat, itching/ burning sensation on skin, and excessive menstrual bleeding. Buttermilk, as mentioned above, is a better choice
Avoid these foods in summer

Strongly avoid alcohol in Summer

Avoid alcohol in summer because it is teekshna (piercing) and drying, which is already the nature of this season. If Alcohol is unavoidable, dilute it well before consuming. Otherwise, it can lead to dizziness, inflammation and fainting due to pitta aggravation.

Other general guidelines for greeshma rtu (Summer)

use a snana choornam in summer
  • Avoid using sweat-suppressing products like antiperspirant deodorants. Such products also clog the pores and impair the skin’s thermo-regulatory function. Instead, take steps to ensure your skin is clean, pores are properly opened, and are functioning well for proper thermo-regulation
  • Wear white or pastel-coloured clothing. They help cool the body, and feel fresh and pleasant
  • Try to have food in a banana leaf or a silver plate. Both are kapha enhancing and are good for the body
Use a banana leaf to eat in summer
  • Reduce sexual activity this season. Unless you are trying to conceive, Ayurveda suggests that you restrict sexual activities to 3-4 times a month in summer. This is because sex depletes kapha, which is already quite depleted in this season. Some compensatory measures you can take after sexual activity are drinking milk. Milk makes up for the loss of ojas & dhatu from sexual activity
  • If you feel over-depleted in summer, apply nabhi ghee at night. Take a drop or two of cow ghee and apply it in the navel/ belly button region. This helps balance both pitta & vata aggravation
Nahi ghee application helps in summer

4 Krya routines that can help with keeping the body cool in Greeshma Ritu

  • Oil your hair frequently and wash hair twice a week. Apart from ensuring healthy hair growth, regular hair oiling balances vata and pitta in the scalp and body, improves eyesight, reduces anxiety and stress, improves bone strength and promotes cheerfulness
  • Use pitta-balancing hair lepas (masks) and hair wash choornams (powders) to wash your hair. The predominantly aromatic & pitta-balancing herbs like vetiver, chandana (sandalwood), rakta chandana, ku-chandana (patranga) and nannari are great herbs for summer
  • Use Krya’s face lepas (masks) also liberally this season. It helps cool down pitta in the body
  • Do pada abhyanga with a small amount of ghee added to the abhyanga oil, especially if there is a burning sensation in the body. If you have a dominant pitta prakriti, we recommend you use the Krya Classic Abhyanga Oil or Krya Traditional Baby Massage Oil. You can also try a 50:50 combination of both oils for abhyanga and pada abhyanga in summer. Here is a Krya video guide on how to do a pada abhyanga

Special instructions for greeshma rtu (Summer)

  • Finish cooking earlier in the day to avoid aggravating pitta in your food 
  • Avoid daytime exercise. Many people try to squeeze in a workout just before lunch or do their workout well after 9 AM when the Sun is already hot
  • Avoid vigorous exercises too in this season. This is especially not the season for absolute beginners to start new exercise regimens like running or weights
  • Keep yourself sensibly hydrated with fluids. Include liquid preparations in your meals as well
  • Avoid the heat of the Sun by staying indoors in the daytime as much as possible
  • Avoid doing a late abhyanga snana. In summer, you should do abhyanga MILDLY, and preferably before 8 AM. If you’re not used to a full abhyanga massage, do a mini-abhyanga during the week. And, do the full abhyanga once a week. The suggested practice for full abhyanga this season is, Fridays for women & Saturdays for men. Abhyanga controls vata, which is likely to aggravate without our knowledge in summer. Remember to also  avoid over-straining yourself by doing a vigorous abhyanga, which can deplete kapha
  • Take a short afternoon nap if absolutely required. This is a recommended practice only in summer, because this season increases kleda (moisture) due to increase in kapha. That being said, afternoon nap also increases kapha AND pitta in the body. To avoid aggravating pitta and over aggravating kapha, follow these precautions if you intend to take a nap;
    • Wake up earlier than usual in the morning. This way, the body is sufficiently tired out to require an afternoon nap
    • Do NOT sleep with AC on. In fact, it is always better to avoid air-conditioning
    • Sleep on a non comfortable surface. For example, sleep on the floor with a pai / dhurrie
    • Time your nap and sleep only for a short duration. This duration varies in each person’s case. For example, in my case, any nap above 10 minutes makes me foggy
    • After the nap, wash your face and rinse your mouth

Note: These nap precautions do not apply for small babies, patients, older people, and people who are very lean / emaciated. Read our blog to find out more about who is eligible for an afternoon nap.

Unique, ancient & effective recommendations from Ayurveda

  • Have water-based cooling devices in the bedroom. For example, the texts suggest hanging curtains which have been soaked in water and squeezed well. This screens the heat and blows cool air into the room. This helps you avoid ACs as well, which are bad for health in all seasons
How to use the AC in summer
  • Spend the evening and night time in the terrace, especially when the night sky is bathed in moonlight
  • Relax your mind and withdrawn from sexual activities, strain or stress
  • Wear garments made of ultra thin or finely woven cotton cloth
  • Wear fragrant flowers like jasmine in your hair or as a garland
  • Wear necklaces made of natural pearls or sandalwood beads
  • Prattle small babies and toddlers. This is very soothing and pitta balancing. The texts encourage us to spend time with such innocent children
  • Apply fragrant and cooling unguents like sandalwood paste on your person
  • Spend summer days near rivers, lakes and forests with cool, fragrant trees around

Common greeshma rtu (Summer) health problems & solutions

Stomach Ache/ Diarrhoea

  • Eat watery and non-spicy/ sour/ salty food to prevent this
  • Avoid all street food and chaat. Immunity is low in this season and such foods can trigger infections
  • Ensure you have 30 to 40% liquids in your daily diet
  • Drink boiled and cooled water with summer herbs like we’ve suggested above
  • Do not sleep till late in the morning
  • Eat your meal in the right order – from sweet & heavy to light. And, end your meal with watery, well churned buttermilk (which also helps supplement gut flora)

Prickly Heat/ Rash

  • Spray rose water frequently on the affected skin areas
  • Use the Krya Baby prickly heat lepa on the easy areas. Apply after mixing in rose water. Leave on for 5-10 minutes like a thick apck and rinse out before it dres. It cools, soothes the area and reduces itchiness and inflammation. 
Healing prickly heat in summer
  • In very high cases of prickly heat, use the Krya Kashaya snana churna for sensitive skin. 
  • Avoid using creams/ lotions/ moisturisers and any such pore clogging products
  • Use the appropriate Krya Body Wash as a lepa (mask) by mixing it in clean water and applying it on the rashy areas. Don’t allow this mask paste to fully dry out on your skin. Instead, rinse it off during bath. Avoid rubbing/ scratching the affected areas
  • Reduce heavy-to-digest foods and increase fluid intake in your diet. Include fresh fruit juices and sugarcane juice. Reduce consumption of mangoes till the rashes completely heal

Krya products ideally suited for greeshma rtu (Summer) 

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Do you Qualify for afternoon sleep ? The Ayurvedic Checklist.

do you qualify for afternoon sleep - a krya blog post

Afternoon sleep, also known as the power nap or cat nap has long been hailed as a secret to increased productivity and high energy levels. Stealing some afternoon sleep is especially a favorite productivity hack of early risers.

is afternoon slep suggested for everyone?

Night time sleep has been extensively researched across the world in the last few decades, as a result of a sharp increase in sleep disorders. A primary reason for poor night sleep is the consistent disturbance of the circadian rhythm , also called “body clock”.

The Circadian rhythm is the natural, internal biological process by which the body controls our states of wakefulness and sleep. This circadian rhythm is directly linked to the movement of the sun , and over a 24-hour period, the body controls the urge to sleep at night and to remain awake during the day. When we disturb the rhythm, by forcing the body to stay up late at night, by drinking very stimulating beverages or by overuse of electronic devices, we get lower quality or less sleep. Digital Detox and digital limits are extremely important to set for everyone. Please read our earlier post on ayurvedic detox strategies as well.

So the sleep-deprived person has to compensate the next day with daytime sleep or suffer poor energy levels. Medical journals and scientific studies are a little more balanced about this. Western research is now beginning to understand what Ayurveda always knew: an afternoon nap does not help everyone. In fact in many people it can be counter productive. And the timing and the duration of the nap have a lot to do with the benefits you may experience.

The Ayurvedic Triad of Good health : Sleep is a part of this list

Ayurveda is an ancient, holistic and well thought through science.  Acharya Charaka , one of the foremost ayurevdic gurus ,states emphatically in the Charaka Samhita, that the three supporting pillars ( upastambhas) of life are Ahara ( correct food) , Swapna ( sleep) & Brahmacharya ( proper control and utilization of sexual urges). When these three pillars of life function correctly, we reach our full life span and our body has a good appearance, growth and strength.

Ayurvedic triad of health : sleep, diet and abstinence

The Acharya in a later chapter mentions that good sleep bestows happiness, nourishment, strength, virility, knowledge and life. On the contrary, poor sleep causes misery, emaciation, weakness, sterility, ignorance and ultimately death.

So it is very clear that we need to get good sleep at night while following other important rules like waking up at Brahma Muhurta ( a period of 48 minutes, that starts 96 minutes before sunrise in your location).

However due to the vagaries of life including disease, work stress , or poor lifestyle habits, we may need to fall back on afternoon sleep, to compensate for poor night sleep.

Is afternoon sleep bad for healthy adults ?

Afternoon sleep or habitual day time sleeping is not a good habit for healthy adults in the normal course of life. There are some special disease cases when the Ayurvedic acharyas prescribe daytime sleep as a therapy but in general it is to be avoided as it is a cause of disease. We will learn further about the special cases and individuals who can  indulge in daytime sleep.

Unplanned afternoon sleep can lead to many health issues

Those who violate the rule of correct sleeping and indulge in afternoon sleeping can be at risk for the following diseases as per Acharya Charaka – these are headache, timidness, heaviness of the body, loss of digestive power, Halimaka ( type of jaundice),oedema, anorexia, nausea, rhinitis, hemicrania, urticaria, eruptions , abscess, pruritis, drowsiness, coughing, throat diseases, impairment of memory and intelligence, obstruction of the circulating channels of the body, fever and weakness of the sensory and motor organs.

The Qualities of afternoon sleep as per Ayurveda

As expected, Ayurvedic texts have defined separately the fundamental nature of afternoon sleep as opposed to that of night time sleep already explained above.

Acharya Charaka in his textbook, Sutrasthana sections,Chapter 21, Shloka 50 says this about sleep :

“Remaining awake at night is Rooksha (dehydrating, causing dryness of the system) while sleeping in the daytime is Snigdha ( unctuous , increasing kapha). Sleep in a sitting posture in neither Ruksa (drying) nor Abhisyanda ( excessively secretory)”

Sleeping at different times has different effects on the body.

The shloka above is filled with startling insights which needs to be read several times to appreciate its full import and usefulness in our lives. Firstly ,staying up late at night is best avoided in general ( except in treatment of certain kapha-disorders). It is extremely vata aggravating and drying for the body. For people who are coming off severe ratri jaagratha (keeping awake at night), like night shift employees, we suggest snigdha (oily) therapies like a regular abhyanga.

The second insight crucially tells us that sleeping in the daytime, in a completely supine position , is kapha aggravating and has Snigdha guna or increases moisture and oiliness in the body. This gives us a clear direction to analyze why afternoon sleep is mostly prohibited and the special cases when afternoon sleep is permitted. THe last part of the shloka gives us an excellent method to take a power-nap or catnap in the afternoon.

Ayurvedic Hack for afternoon sleep /powernap for Healthy Adults

Based on the last line of the earlier Shloka from the Charaka Samhita, it is clear that sleeping in a sitting posture has a neutral effect on our doshas. So if you are a healthy adult, for whom afternoon sleep in the full supine position is not allowed, then it is a good idea to take a powernap in a seated posture.

You can do this by placing your head on your work desk if you are at work. At home, if you have a reclining chair with a slight incline ( an easy chair), that is also a good option for a quick afternoon nap that does not aggravate kapha dosha.

afternoon sleep - nap hack from ayurveda

Afternoon Sleep should be Avoided in the following cases

Acharya Charaka further gives us the various contra-indications and problems that arise due to afternoon sleep.

  1. In all seasons of the year except Greeshma ( hot summer), afternoon sleep should be avoided by all healthy individuals
  2. Those who are overweight, obsese, who are addicted to consuming unctuous (oily) foods, suffering from kapha-aggravation diseases & suffering artificial poisoning should AVOID afternoon sleep.
  3. Sleep is to be avoided in the day time immediately after taking lunch

Do you qualify for an Afternoon Nap ? The Ayurvedic checklist

  1. In the two months of Greeshma (the hot summer as per traditional Indian calendar), daytime sleep is permitted for all including healthy individuals
  2. In all the seasons of the year, those who are very exhausted due to the following exertions , afternoon sleep is permitted. So those who are very exhausted from excessive singing, studies, alcoholism, sex , elimination therapies, lifting heavy weights & walking very long distances can indulge in afternoon sleep
  3. Daytime sleep is prescribed in the following diseases – phthsis, wasting, excess thirst, diarrhoea, colic pain, dyspnea, hiccuping and insanity.
  4. Daytime sleep is also prescribed for the following categories of the people  – the very old and the very young ( babies) , very weak and emaciated, those exhausted by long journeys, injuries , late nights , fear and anger.
  5. Finally the Acharya also mentions that those who have a day time sleep habit but do NOT fall into above categories should give up this habit gradually and not suddenly.

do you qualify for afternoon sleep - checklist

In all the special cases mentioned above, daytime sleep provides equilibrium to the dhatus( tissues) , provides strength and increases kapha-nourishes the depleted organs.

The Ayurvedic rule to make up for lost sleep

Acharya Ksarapani, one of the original six disciples of Sage Atri, the father of Ayurveda, has given this rule to compensate for lost night sleep – If a person loses a certain number of hours of sleep at night , then he can compensate this by sleeping for Half the number of hours lost the next day during the daytime. It is preferable to get this compensatory sleep on the next day BEFORE eating food on an empty stomach, as it is best to avoid sleep immediately after eating.

Let us illustrate this with a use case from a work from home (WFH) scenario – Let us say you normally get 7 hours of sleep between 11 PM – 6 AM on a regular basis. During a stressful deadline, you work through the night till 4 AM and then again get up at 7 AM, to start your day. So you have lost a net amount of 4 hours of sleep compared to your usual quota of sleep.

As per Acharya Ksarapani’s rule, you can then sleep for an extra amount of 2 hours and wake up at 9 am instead of 7 am as you would normally do.

If it is not possible to do this, you can try sleeping before your lunch and after a very small breakfast which is completely digested.  So you could log out of work between 11 AM and 1 PM for a two hour nap and then proceed for lunch.

This method ensures your ideal recovery due to the stressful loss of sleep at night. It is easier to illustrate this example in a WFH scenario, but things are more tricky if you have to work in a physical office the next day. If you are low on sleep and do not have access to any place to take a nap at your workplace, then you could perhaps just put your head down on your desk before lunch and nap for sometime , as much time as permitted by office etiquette and culture.

 

To sum up: Ayurvedic Rules for Afternoon Sleep

  1. The qualities of afternoon sleep is fundamentally different from night sleep
  2. If you are a healthy adult, then by and large you should avoid afternoon sleep ( except in certain rare conditions)
    • A simple hack as per the texts for a safe afternoon nap for healthy adults is to sleep  in a seated position, in a chair.
  3. Afternoon sleep is recommended for babies, the very old and those who are very exhausted from heavy work
  4. If for some reason you could not sleep at night, apply Acharya Ksarapani’s rule of half to make up for sleep the next day

 

We hope you enjoyed reading this blog post on afternoon sleep, and how Ayurveda analyses it. At Krya, we work hard at providing authentic, useful and actionable Ayurvedic information that helps improve your health, well being, happiness and productivity. If you have any questions on this or any of our products, please write to us or call/WhatsApp us (0-75500-89090).

 

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Ancient Indian System for the ideal Oil Bath for Men & Women

oil bath - krya blog post on the indian routine

The Oil bath , also called Abhyanga Snana in Ayurveda is a highly revered health technique from antiquity in India. In the ancient Siddha medicine system of South India it is known as “Yennai Kuliyal”. Apart from these formal medicine systems, the oil bath ritual is deeply woven into the cultural fabric of India, across all its regions. The Diwali Oil bath (also called Ganga Snanam or Anghol) is a very special ceremony for health and prosperity that is widely practiced even today. 

From ancient times, there was a complete system around the oil bath ritual , which involved selection of the ideal oil bath days for both Men & Women, the specific oils and herbs to be used, the Shloka to be recited for longevity while applying oil, the days on which Abhyanga was contra-indicated and of course the post-Abhyanga pathya diet.

Moreover for newborn babies and post-partum mothers, there was an extensive oil bath schedule followed across India as part of the Ayurvedic baby care practices. This played a massive role in the healthy growth of the baby and swift recovery of the new mother.

However In recent years, the oil bath habit itself has seriously declined across India. And in families which have managed to cling onto this precious habit, all the activity has shifted to Sunday due to the 7-day work week & weekly Sunday holiday structure.

Is Sunday the right day for the oil bath for both everyone in the family ? Is there any special rationale to choosing a special day of the week for the Oil bath for Men & Women ? What are the benefits to following the Ancient Indian system for Abhyanga Snana ?

Abhyanga Snana & it’s benefits

The Oil bath has two key parts

  • The Abhyanga part , which is the self-massage from head to toe using a suitable herb-infused Ayurvedic oil 
  • The Snana Part : a bath to wash off the excess oil from the body with a herb bath powder called Ubtan or Snana Choornam or Nalangu Maavua.

It is also customary to wait for a few minutes after the oil massage and before the bath to allow the oils to soak and penetrate deep into the tissues. In order to facilitate the deep penetration of the oil, it is usually warmed before use and applied with vigorous massage stokes , till the skin is well saturated with oil. There are also specific Shlokas for Men and Women to be recited just before commencing the oil massage for maximum health benefits to accrue to us. 

While there are different shlokas recited across India , we have shared here one of the widely used shlokas each for Men & Women.

The extraordinary health benefits of the oil bath , Abhyanga Snana , are clearly documented in the classical Ayurvedic textbooks like the Charka Samhita , Susruta Samhita & the Ashtanga Hridayam.

For example, Charaka Samhita, Volume 1, Chapter – 5, Slokas 88-89 say that :

“The body of one who does a regular Abhyanga does not get affected by accidents or strenuous physical work. A daily Abhyanga endows one with good skin, good physique and the body becomes strong, pleasant to look at, has good lustre and is not affected by old age”.

In the Ayurvedic textbooks, Oil bath is defined as a Dinacharya ( daily habit) for good health with certain contra-indications. The Abhyanga Snana is not recommended for those who are ill , exhausted , suffering from indigestion and is also prohibited for women during periods.

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The ideal oil to be used for the oil bath

 For oil bath, in Ayurveda , when the Acharyas refer to Taila ( oil) in the context of massage, they usually refer to cold-pressed sesame oil ( also known as Til tel, gingelly oil or Nalla Ennai in Tamil). Plain coconut oil is not generally recommended for Abhyanga Snana as it does not have the specific dosha-balancing properties and neither does it have the skin penetrating ( teekshana) property of sesame. In north & east India, mustard oil is also commonly used , especially for new born baby massage. In South India, it is a very common folk practice to give a spoon of castor oil to drink ( on an empty stomach) , along with the oil massage to cleanse the digestive system. However the castor oil is generally not used for the oil massage itself.

The Ayurvedic textbooks have given a wide range of Abhyanga oil formulations which involve extracting specific herbs in oil (kalka) and as water decoctions (kashayams) and then cooking these extracts in the base oils like sesame oil. This Ayurvedic protocol for manufacturing skin oils and hair oils as well, is known as “Tila Paka Veedhi”

Ayurvedic tila paka method is an efficient nutrient extracting oil method Ayurveda that we follow at Krya

As per Ayurveda, the best oil for oil bath is always a “cooked” oil made in the “Tila Paka ” process as opposed to merely using cold-pressed base oils. The process allows us to extract powerful herbs in their fresh form into the oils and the process of cooking the oils fundamentally transforms the base oils , making them subtle and penetrative. So when you apply such Ayurvedic oils on your skin, they penetrate the deep tissues well and are very strongly dosha-balancing as well.

In this video, you can see an actual example of how one of the krya oils is manufactured in the Tila Paka Veedhi (also called as Sneha Kalpana) method.

Ancient Indian References to the Oil Bath

The Oil bath is an extremely integral part of life in India from antiquity. The saturday oil bath routine is deeply ingrained in the childhood memories of Indians across the entire geography of the sub-continent with many regional names and references. The Ayurvedic textbooks in which  benefits of the oil bath are described are themselves of great antiquity. Beyond these texts there are important cultural references as well.

The Deepavali Oil bath is a very important ritual all over India, called as Ganga Snanam in South India or Pahili Anghol in Maharasthra. On the Naraka Chathurdashi day, Indians wake up well before sunrise and have an Abhyanga oil massage with sesame oil infused with herbs and then have their Snana with an Ubtan or Nalangu Maavu. This Diwali oil bath is highly auspicious as on this particular day, Goddess Mahalakshmi is represented in the Oil & Mother Ganga in warm water. Therefore this special oil bath removes sins, bad luck and enhances our health and prosperity.

Avvaiyar, the great 3rd century BC woman saint from Tamil Nadu , wrote a work of aphorisms called “Aathichoodi” . In this work she has written 109 quotations to help us succeed in life and one of these is “Sani Neeradu”, which literally means “bathe on Saturday”. When placed it in the right cultural context , this means that the author is exhorting us to take an oil bath with sesame oil on the correct day, which happens to be Saturday for Men.The word “Sani” refers to the planet Saturn as well as the day “Saturday” and the ruling planet of the sesame oil seed also happens to be governed by the planet Saturn. 

Deepavali Abhyanga Snana

Even the Gods have a regular Oil Bath.

One of the common rituals in many Indian temples, especially in South India, is the annual “Oil Anointment Ceremony ” , known as “Taila Kappu” in Tamil ( literally meaning Oil Protective Layer). Usually in the month of Karthik , on the Pournami (full moon day), the prinicipal archa moorthy of the deity is anointed with a special medicated oil , infused with herbs. This is exactly like an Abhyanga oil application on our bodies as well. Then depending on the temple Agama ( the traditional rules of temple rituals) the deity sits in the oil layer for several days , and then on an auspicious date, the oil layer is removed with ceremonial bath. This is a highly significant ritual on many levels but the key lesson for us here is that an oil bath is protective and health giving even for the gods.

Periazhwar, the Great Srivaishnava saint, one of the twelve azhwars , composed divine works on Lord MahaVishnu in the early part of Kali Yuga. As per traditional accounts, he was born in 3102 BCE, the 47th year after the start of Kali Yuga. In his divine work called Periazhwar Thirumozhi, which forms a part of the Dravida Veda , also called the Divya Prabandhams, he describes a scene in which Mother Yashoda is inviting the little Lord Krishna for his bath :

In this verse , from Periazhwar Thirumozhi 2-4.1 ,  Mother Yashodha says she has been waiting for a long time with the “ oil & cleaning nut ” for his bath and that he should delay it any further. Even the Lord is given an oil bath by his mother , which sheds light on its importance in the Indian way of life. In a later verse, Mother Yashoda also says that she has boiled water with Amla in a large vessel for Krishna’s bath and further entices him to have his Snana.

Finally, there is a very special and divine example where the Lord himself instructs us that Abhyanga is a Nitya Karma, which means a daily habit. There are Eight rare Swayamvyakta Kshetras (Self Manifested) temples of Lord MahaVishnu in India. These Eight temples are Srirangam, Venkatadri ( Tirumala), Srimushnam, Totadri ( Vanamamalai), Saligrama ( Muktinath), Pushkar, Badrikasramam & Naimisaranyam.

Of these eight special temples, the Lord at Vanamamalai Temple in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, is given a special sesame oil Abhyanga every single day.There is a very unique legend behind the origin of this oil bath, originally given to heal a wound on the moorthy of the Lord here. Everyday , the divine oil that overflows after being poured over the Lord, who is also known here as Deivanayaka Perumal, is collected in a special tank that measures 20 feet * 10 feet . As you can easily understand, this oil has very powerful medicinal properties. Once again as mentioned in the Ayurvedic texts, a daily oil bath is very beneficial for us. The temple authorities can courier this divine oil to you anywhere in India upon request – you can get the details from their website here .

Vanamamalai Divya Desam Temple , Tamil Nadu, Divine Sesame oil tank

The ideal days to have an Oil bath for Men & Women

At krya we often refer the traditional Indian recommendation to our customers which is : Tuesday & Fridays are the ideal days for Women for their Abhyanga Snana while Wednesdays and Saturdays are highly recommended for Men.

This recommendation of ideal oil bath days for women on Tuesdays & Fridays and  for Men on Wednesdays & Saturdays has been passed orally in India, particularly south India, for such a long time now, that very few people actually question its origins.. As we saw earlier, there are very early references to the Saturday Oil bath. 

However In recent years, the oil bath habit has seriously declined across India. And in families which have managed to cling onto this precious habit, all the activity has shifted to Sunday due to the 7-day work week & weekly Sunday holiday structure. Is Sunday the right day for the oil bath for both everyone in the family ?

The Ayurvedic textbooks do not explicitly mention the specific day of the week recommendation. They only examine Abhyanga purely from the health perspective. The concept of Abhyanga has been greatly extolled in the Ayurvedic textbooks with a clear description of the many health benefits of the oil bath. In all the major textbooks, the Acharyas have clearly mentioned Abhyanga as a dinacharya, i.e. a daily habit . They also mention the contra-indications for Abhyanga , the special conditions during which to avoid Abhyanga .So Abhynaga should be AVOIDED when a person has fever , cold, other illness, if one has in-digestion, extreme tiredness. Women should strictly avoid oil bath during periods. Pregnant women should also avoid abhayanga / oil bath in general and should do so only under direct supervision of their Ayurvedic Vaidya.

But it is also well known that all Ayurvedic Acharyas also studied other important vedangas like Jyotisha , which have given us these day-of-the-week rules. It is entirely possible that the Ayurvedic acharyas have restricted their discussions to the health perspective and have assumed that practitioners would add the Jyotisha based rules additionally. In actual practice this can still be observed as women across India choose Friday for their Abhyanga and Men follow the Saturday rule.

The Rule of Tuesday / Fridays for Women &  on Wednesdays / Saturdays for Men can be derived from the following  factors :

  1. All Ayurvedic textbooks mention the use of Tila, as the base oil for Abhyanga. Tila is sesame oil derived from the black sesame seeds , is also the generic Ayurvedic terms for oils. Now black sesame has some very special spiritual properties beyond its physical properties and can only be used in specific ways , it should not be treated as just any other spice. ( For example, we should not eat any sesame based foods after sunset). The growth of the sesame plant is governed by the planetary influence of Saturn.Sesame seeds
  2. Each day of the  week is ruled by a different planetary influence which results in different benefits to men & women.Each planet has a distinct character which gives that day ( called varam or vara) its particular character. For example, Sunday, Monday & THursday are respectively ruled by the Sun, Moon & Jupiter. As a result, these 3 days of the week are primarily Sattvik in nature. Mars & Saturn are the planets that rule Tuesday & Saturday – these two days are Tamasic in nature. Wednesday ( Mercury) and Friday ( Venus) are Rajasic in nature.
  3. In addition to planetary influences, each day of the week is also assigned to a particular god or goddess. The divine feminine energies are particularly accessible on Tuesday, when Goddess Durga is worshipped & Fridays, the day of goddess Mahalakshmi.

While the exact rules of Jyotisha applied here are beyond the scope of this discussion, these factors are used as inputs to arrive at the final oil bath recommendation, which is :

  1. Ideally,  Men should have an Abhyanga on Wednesdays & Saturday. This schedule increases their strength and longevity.
  2. Ideally, Women should have an Abhyanga on Tuesdays & Fridays. This schedule increases their health and brings prosperity and abundance to the home.

The specific day of week rule for Men & Women is to be strictly followed if you are having a full Abhyanga with just plain sesame oil or plain gingelly oil. Interestingly the Shastras give us a work-around to mitigate ill-effects of using PLAIN sesame oil for Abhyanga on other non-specified days of the week. In this rule specific herbs and flowers are added to the oil to make it suitable for Abhynaga throughout the week. are eliminated if we used a herb infused Abhyanga oil with specific flowers and herbs. So if you use special Ayurvedic Abhyanga skin oils like the Krya Abhyanga Oils, you can use it on any day of the week for Abhyanga. This is the solution to the common query – can we have oil bath on Sundays  ?  The answer is to use a good herb infused Ayurvedic oil & avoid using plain sesame oil for oil bath on Sundays. 

Further if you observe the pairing of days for Men & Women, for each gender , one  Tamasic & one Rajasic day is scheduled to help reduce the ill-effects of these Mano gunas ( mental qualities). The reduction of Tamas & Rajas and the consequent increase in Sattva is a highly desired outcome in Ayurveda , as Sattva is directly responsible for excellent health. An increase in Tamas & Rajas indicates the possibility of disease. 

These recommendations have nothing to do with religion , the energies specific to each day are common to all human beings. So these are not merely Hindu oil bath days, and anyone can follow this schedule for ideal results. For example, the divine feminine portal energies that open up on Tuesdays & Fridays are freely available to all women, of all faiths, to receive the maximum benefits.

A few years back, one of our customers who is not a Hindu, decided to follow  the Tuesday/Friday Abhyanga sincerely for 3-4 months. Apart from many health benefits, she found to her utter surprise that her thyroid hormone levels had become completely normal. The oil used, the act of Abhyanga itself and the correct alignment of the schedule were all factors that helped her achieve this excellent result.

Special Note on Oil bath on Amavasya (No Moon / New Moon)

A summary of Oil Bath Recommendations

  1. A regular Abhyanga is very important for our health, even the gods perform a regular Abhyanga Snana ( Oil Bath)
  2. It is ideal to follow the Tuesday/Friday (Women) & Wednesday /Saturday (Men) Abhyanga schedule recommendation. 
  3. Please follow all the contraindications during which you should avoid Abhyanga , like during illness etc , as given earlier in this article.
  4. At Krya we have added special herbs and flowers in our Abhyanga Oils, so you can use them on any day of the week.
  5. Even if you use a special Abhyanga oil, following the Tuesday/Friday (Women) & Wednesday /Saturday (Men) will help maximize your oil bath benefits. However to start with, if you only get time on weekends, do start the Abhyanga on weekends and then slowly work it into the rest of the week as you gain experience. It is actually a very simple and yet powerful routine.
  6. Women should strictly avoid oil bath (abhyanga) during periods.
  7. After taking an oil bath, one should not sleep in the afternoon. The oil bath has good dosha balancing properties. So after an oil bath, there is a good pitta-dosha reset, and excess unwanted heat is released from the body through the eyes. For this the eyes need to be kept open for proper heat release. This is the reason why we should not sleep in the afternoon after an oil bath.
  8. It is also ideal to have the oil bath in the morning , on an empty stomach, before 9-10 AM. This gives the body the complete day to gently reset the doshas. Therefore oil bath should be avoided in the evenings. Moreover since the oil bath has a cooling effect on the body, those with a dominant kapha prakriti, could also catch colds if they have an oil bath in the evenings.

A proper Ayurvedic Abhyanga Snana ( oil bath) is  the most incredible health habit.  Download this free e-book from Krya to help you get started with the Abhyanga habit. Krya also has a wide range of Abhynaga oil and Ubtan products for Women, Men and babies. 

Krya products for Abhyanga Snana :

1. Babies
a. Krya traditional baby massage oil   (common for boys & girls)                                                                                                                              b. Krya Ubtan for Baby girls
c. Krya Ubtan for Baby boys

2. Kids
a. Krya traditional baby massage oil  (common for boys & girls)
b. Krya Kids Ubtan for Girls                                                                                                                                                                                                    c. Krya Ubtan for Boys

3. Men & Women
a. Krya Classic Abhyanga Oil 
b. Krya Classic Women’s Ubtan
c. Krya Men’s Ubtan

References

  1. Caraka, Caraka Samhita, Vol. I , Text with English translation by P.V. Sharma Chaukhamba Orientalia, Varanasi, 2014.
  2. An article on Yennai Shastram, “Why Oil Bath ?”  :  http://jayasreesaranathan.blogspot.com
  3. N.P Subramaniam Iyer, Kalaprakasika , With Original text in Sanskrit & English Translation ,Asian Educational Services , New Delhi, 1982.
  4. Picture credit for the Vanamamalai temple images – Ram Gopalan 
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Oily Scalp Treatment in Ayurveda

how to heal oily scalp with ayurveda

Oily scalp or scalp greasiness is a common problem that affects many Indians. So we often get emails and social media messages from those eagerly searching for a natural options for oily scalp treatment. A majority of these people are looking for and assume that a natural Shampoo would solve their problem. They are extremely surprised when we recommend the Krya Classic Hair Oil or the Krya Classic Plus Hair Oil. 

oily scalp tretament: most people are shocked when we ask them to oil an oily scalp

Why do we recommend using a Hair oil on already oily scalp? And why does it work so well? Is there an Ayurvedic secret we are missing out on? 

Hair Oiling has received a lot of negative press in recent years

Hair oiling as a habit has received a lot of negative press from a wide spectrum of influencers like dermatologists ,trichologists , hair stylists ,beauty bloggers and fashion magazines. All of them reinforce the myth that  oil = greasy scalp . So a greasy scalp must never be oiled. In fact these influencers will tell you to dry out the greasy scalp by frequent or daily shampooing. This is not a useful treatment for oily scalp.

hair oiling si unpopular among celebrity influencers and hair stylists

In fact, in many people aggressive hair washing and cleansing, especially with harsh chemical shampoos produces the opposite effect. Hair becomes more greasy, necessitating MORE frequent washing.

Mineral Oil based Hair Oils are the main culprit

One of the reasons for this incorrect assumption about hair oils is that 99% of the commercial hair oils sold in the market today are actually petroleum based and absolutely not suitable for scalp and hair application.

oily scalp treatment: commercial hair oils are high in mineral oil

Commercially available hair oils , sold as “non sticky” or “light hair oils” , use mineral oil as the main ingredient, sometimes upto 90% of the product volume. Mineral oil is a by-product of the petroleum refining process and is also known  as paraffin or light liquid paraffin. Mineral oil has zero hair nourishment properties and it is not good for scalp or hair unlike actual vegetable oils like coconut oil or sesame oil. So when this petroleum based hair oil is applied , your scalp is unable to absorb it and it just sits there , attracting dust and dirt during the course of your day and leaves you feeling greasy. Naturally this is not a pleasant experience. You can read more about the shockingly high percentage of mineral oil in hair oil brands in a study by consumer voice magazine available on the website of the ministry of consumer affairs here.

A proper Ayurvedic hair oil made from a base of nourishing vegetable oils like coconut oil into which several beneficial herbs like Amla , Bhringraj, Curry leaf , Brahmi , Neeli ( Indigo), Haritaki, Vibhitaki, Yasthimadhu , Guduchi  etc have  been extracted is highly beneficial for your scalp and hair , is well absorbed and will actually solve the problem of greasiness. This is the exact formulation template for an authentic Ayurvedic hair oil  as given in the Susruta Samhita, one of the two primary Ayurvedic texts.

oily scalp treatment: ayurvedic hair oil helps solve the underlying problem

Read on to understand the Ayurvedic principles that explain the genesis of the oily scalp problem and the benefits of a good Ayurvedic hair oil. 

What is the root cause of Oily Scalp as per Ayurveda ?

Ayurveda tells us that high amounts of sweat and flowing greasiness are both signs of Pitta dosha. When a particular organ system displays such signs, the first possibility is that pitta dosha is aggravated, which could be due to diet , lifestyle habits or certain high-stress life stages. The  other possibility is that the person has a dominant pitta prakriti by birth and is predisposed to pitta dosha aggravation. 

What is Pitta Dosha?

All human beings are born with a unique combination of the three doshas which are Vata , Pitta & Kapha. These 3 doshas are in turn created by a specific combination of two of the five fundamental elements i.e space, air , fire , earth & water. 

Pitta dosha is created when Fire (Agni) and Water (Jal) elements are combined. With this information we can now have a better understanding of the nature and behaviour of Pitta dosha.

Pitta dosha: combination of fire and water panchamabootha

Acharya Vagbhata, the author of the important 7th Century textbook , Ashtanga Hridayam defines Pitta dosha as :

“Pittam sasneha teekshno-ushna laghu vishram saram dravam”

This translates as:

Pitta is slightly oily (sasneha), teekshna (intense), ushna (hot), laghu (light), vishram (has a strong / offensive odour), saram (flows) and dravam (has a liquid property).

An important feature of the three doshas is that they are naturally present in various organs of the body , which is called their “seat” . Each dosha is supposed to be present at a specific level in each of its “seats”.  When we say that a dosha is aggravated , it means that either it is increased beyond its normal level or it is pushed to a organ which is not a natural seat.

One of the seats of Pitta dosha is “sweda” or sweat. Therefore, when we have smelly sweat, greasiness in the scalp with foul odour, and the feeling of hotness and warmth we are experiencing the signs of pitta dosha overload.Pitta aggravation also leads to other scalp and hair issues like premature greying, hair thinning, etc.

Hence when the scalp and hair exhibit greasiness, premature greying, and hair thinning, the correct Ayurvedic treatment is to pacify pitta with suitable herbs. A great format to deliver these herbs effectively to the scalp is a Hair Oil formulated for this purpose. Therefore, at Krya, when someone comes to us with an oily scalp and wants treatment products for this condition, we suggest using a Pitta pacifying hair oil, a Pitta pacifying Hair Lepa / Mask and a Pitta pacifying Hair cleanser for the condition. 

Pitta balance in Ayurveda: Herbs that have opposing properties

Ayurvedic herbs that have the fundamental tastes (rasa) of Kashaya (astringent), tikta (bitter) and madhura (sweet) help balance Pitta dosha. They have the exact complement of properties opposite to pitta and therefore are pacifying and help treat aggravated Pitta dosha very effectively.

In a typical pitta-balancing hair oil formulation we use the following cohorts of herbs

  1. Haritaki and Bibhitaki which have kashaya rasa  
  2. Nimba, Kalmegh, which have tikta rasa 
  3. Guduchi, Yashti madhu, Amla, Coconut Milk and oils like Narikela (coconut), Kokum butter  which have Madhura rasa. 

These herbs chosen in the formulation are then carefully extracted in both water and oil and then cooked in the base oils as per the classical Tila Paka Veedhi method to manufacture the final hair oil. When the oils are cooked in this process, they are fundamentally transformed and are able to penetrate the fine channels in your scalp when you apply it , transporting the herbs into your scalp and the roots of your hair.

Ayurvedic tila paka method is an efficient nutrient extracting oil method Ayurveda that we follow at Krya

As you can clearly see here , a proper Ayurvedic oil is vastly different from a commercial hair oil made from petroleum derived mineral oil.

We must remember that an Ayurvedic hair oil is not just any oil. It is a specifically formulated, specially prepared oil that carries certain Rasas (tastes), and gunas (properties) that are designed to combat the signs of aggravation you are experiencing.

The benefits of using a Krya hair oil that balances aggravated Pitta dosha

 When we manufacture a pitta-pacifying hair oil like the Krya classic hair oil or the Krya classic-plus hair oil using the groups of herbs mentioned above, we get a oil with the following Shareera gunas (physical properties)

    • Guru (heavy) to balance the laghutva (lightness of Pitta dosha) 
    • Slightly thick and viscous  to balance the flowing nature of Pitta dosha.
    • Hima (cooling) nature to balance Ushna (heat of Pitta dosha)
    • Madhura, Tikta and Kashaya rasa (sweet, bitter and astringent taste) to balance the Amla, Lavana and Katu rasa (Sour, salty and pungent taste) of Pitta dosha. Kashaya and Tikta rasa help balance Pitta and control the oily scalp problem , arrests further graying. Madhura rasa helps balance Pitta and improves hair growth, working on hair thinning as well. 

 When Pitta is aggravated it gives rise to  mano gunas of krodha (anger), egoism, pride, and jealousy. Therefore by regular daily application of a  pitta-shamana oil  also help work on these excessively Rajasic Mano gunas. Conversely, over indulging in feelings of jealousy, anger, ego and pride can trigger Shareera Gunas of Pitta dosha resulting in problems like scalp greasiness, premature greying and hair thinning. Spiritual sadhana is key to control Mano gunas – read more about this here. 

Mental behaviours like anger, jealousy, ego, etc can trigger pitta dosha at the body level

Since Ayurveda always analyzes the correct root causes and treats it holistically, when you apply a correct hair oil for premature graying or hair thinning, you also get a wide range of other health benefits like improved eyesight , cheerful & well nourished sense organs and deeper sleep. You can read about the wide range of health benefits of daily hair oiling herehere

Shampoos aggravate and further worsen the oily scalp problem

A shampoo uses chemical surfactants to bind and remove oil and dirt from your hair. Both SLS and Sulphate-free shampoos use surfactants that aggressively clean your hair and scalp, stripping it dry of oil and sebum. So on the day when you use the Shampoo, your scalp will feel clean and dry but due to excessive removal of sebum, your scalp will compensate and produce more sebum the next day. This will again make your scalp oily, which is made worse if you also have pitta-dosha aggravation.

So merely using a shampoo, even a sulfate-free shampoo, will lock you in a vicious cycle of dry scalp – oily scalp. In time the scalp will also start flaking due to excessive dryness from shampoo usage. Please read more about how shampoos can damage hair and irritate scalp here and here. 

Ayurvedic treatment for Oily scalp : a holistic and complete solution

Oily scalp, scalp greasiness, high sweat, and high scalp odour, hair thinning and premature graying are all signs of pitta dosha aggravation. When you have pitta aggravation on the scalp, using the correct pitta balancing Ayurvedic hair oil will help you and NOT hinder your scalp (even though this sounds contrarian).

However, if you use hair oils which are made with mineral oil , your problem will not be solved and the fine channels of the scalp will further get clogged. If you use plain vegetable oils  which have similar properties as Pitta dosha, like sesame oil which is Ushna ( heating) in nature ,  this will further  aggravate Pitta dosha. If you use plain coconut oil into which pitta-pacifying herbs have not been added, this will also not resolve the condition. 

The correct Ayurvedic hair oil along with a gentle herb hair wash powder will pacify scalp level pitta dosha, nourish your hair from the roots, arrest premature greying and hair thinning and of course give you a clean , non-greasy healthy scalp. So the oily scalp treatment given by Ayurveda addresses the root causes, is holistic and gives you many other important health benefit. As with all ayurvedic solutions, for a deeper workaround of the problem, the Ahara (food) must also be balanced to work on aggravated Pitta dosha. Read more about this here and here

Krya Hair Oils & hair care : Oily scalp treatment

Krya has 2 Hair care ranges that help balance out of control Pitta dosha, bring it to balance and improve the condition of the scalp and hair.

The Krya Classic hair system :

The Krya Classic Range: is formulated for moderate Pitta balance and is an excellent oily scalp treatment system. This is usually a good option if you are dealing with scalp greasiness, sweat, and high odour, and you have the makings of  a premature greying problem. If you have very high premature greying or high hair thinning, this product range may be too mild for you. Read on for what can help you in this case.

Krya Classic hair nourishing system is a 3 part hair system that cleanses, unclogs the scalp, and provides balanced nourishment to oily pitta prone hair

The Krya Classic Hair Oil:

A classic Ayurvedic oil, formulated in Ayurvedic Tila paka veedhi using 34 ayurvedic herbs and 7 cold pressed organic base oils including Himalayan Apricot oil and Tamanu Oil. The oil is formulated with hair growth promoting herbs like Kamala, Draksha, Vatama, Godhuma, Narikela, Ksheeratumbi, etc. The oil also contains Keshya ranjana (hair colour improving) herbs to improve premature greying like Bhringaraj, Neeli, Japa flower, Althenera, etc. The product uses potent Pitta balancing herbs like  Bhuiamla, Nimba, Vetiver, Mushta, etc. Regular use of the hair oil balances scalp oiliness and Pitta aggravation, reduces premature greying and improves hair quality and growth. Additionally regular uses of the product helps cool and nourish the eyes also.

 

The Krya Classic Hair Mask (Lepa):

This is a 42 herb formulation that helps cleanse and unclog the scalp, and balance Pitta build up in the head region. Using a  Krya hair mask is best done once a week / once a fortnight as a part of a healthy hair care regimen. The Krya Classic hair Mask helps deep cleanse scalp, remove sebum plugs and prepare the scalp to receive balanced nourishment from the hair oil. It also helps further balance Pitta dosha, condition hair and improve the texture, and shine of hair.

Krya Classic hair mask is formulated to de-clog and intensely nourish oily, pitta prone hair that is prone to premature greying

The Krya Classic Hair wash:

This is a 29 herb formulation that uses mild, non irritating plant surfactants like Arishtaka, Desert date, plant adsorbents that help effectively remove grease without irritating the scalp like Mung bean , Heritage Rice and Albizia leaf. The formula then uses classical Pitta balancing herbs like Amla, Hibiscus leaf, Neem , Badam gond. Herbs that have an astringent and highly cleansing action on the scalp like Manjishta, Khadira, are also used. Deodorizing herbs like Mushta, Rose, Vetiver help remove Pitta aggravation based malodour and cool the scalp. Herbs like Vana tulasi, Sweetflag, help disinfect the scalp. Finally Bala, Bhringaraj, etc help promote healthy scalp and hair system.

Krya Classic hair wash

 

All 3 products can also be bought as a part of the Krya Classic hair system. This system is an excellent treatment for oily scalp.

The Krya Classic Plus Hair care range:

This hair care range is formulated for very high Pitta aggravation. Here we typically see high premature greying, a tendency towards hair thinning, along with high sweat , scalp greasiness and an odoriferous scalp. We currently have 2 products in this range:

Krya Classic Plus Hair Oil:

A classic Ayurvedic oil, formulated in Ayurvedic Tila paka veedhi using 34 ayurvedic herbs and 5 cold pressed organic base oils including Kokum butter and Karanja Oil. The oil is formulated with sweet, dhatu building and hair thinning reducing herbs like Gokshura, Tila bheeja, Narikela, Kushmanda and Ksheeratumbi. The oil also contains Keshya ranjana (hair colour improving) herbs to improve premature greying like Manjishta, Bhringaraj, Neeli, Japa flower, Althenera, Vibhitaki, etc. The product uses potent Pitta balancing herbs like  Jatamansi, Amla, Bhringaraj, etc.

Classic Plus hair oil

In addition, the formula includes Vata Balancing herbs to improve hair thickness, deep rootedness of hair like Brahmi, Bala, Methika, etc. The product also includes herbs like Kushta, Kutuja, Tulasi, etc to effectively sanitise the scalp and keep down growth of fungal micro organisms. Regular use of the hair oil balances improve premature greying, reduces hair thinning, improves hair growth and scalp health. Additionally regular uses of the product helps cool and nourish the eyes also.

Krya Classic Plus Hair wash:

This is a 30 herb formulation that works on aggressively out of balance Pitta dosha in the scalp and hair. The formula uses mild, non irritating plant surfactants like Arishtaka, Shikakai and Desert date that cleanse without irritating the scalp or inflaming the sebaceous glands. The formula also uses lentils for grease adsorption – their action is very mild yet surprisingly effective at containing scalp greasiness.

Krya Classic Plus hair wash

The formula then uses classical Pitta balancing herbs like Kalmegh, Amla, Hibiscus leaf, Neem , Badam gond. To work on premature greying, we use Keshya ranjana herbs like Rosemary, Curry Leaf, etc. Deodorizing herbs like Mushta, Rose, Vetiver help remove Pitta aggravation based malodour and cool the scalp. Herbs like Rama tulasi, Sweetflag, Kutuja bark, and Kushta help disinfect the scalp and keep down growth of harmful micro organisms. Finally Guduchi,  Bala, Bhringaraj, Urad bean etc help promote healthy scalp and hair system.

To sum up: treatment of oily scalp in Ayurveda

Many times the holistic wisdom and deep rooted advice Ayurveda offers seems contrarian to all our new age fads and trends. Whether it is the the question of avoiding dairy, or adding certain Nitya rasayanas like ghee to diet, importance of eating on time, or healing an oily scalp, Ayurveda offers very specific advice that actually works (despite how contrarian it sounds).

In this post we saw the ideal way Ayurveda approaches oily scalp treatment. we saw how, contrary to the modern notion of over washing and rinsing out residual sebum from the scalp, Ayurveda instead goes to the root cause. we look at exactly what in the body’s causing the imbalance. and we attempt to correct it and bring it back to balance with Ahara, Dinacharya, ritucharya and the right use of the right hair care products.

This approach gives us a more effective and permanent solution to the problem.

If you too want to try our oily scalp treatment line of products or want help choosing the right hair or skin acre products for yourself, please call us or send us an email.

 

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Ayurvedic properties and benefits of Daruharidra (Berberis aristata)

In this blog post, we are going to talk about an Ayurvedic herb called Daruharidra with multiple benefits. This ayurvedic herb has anti inflammatory, anti fungal, anti-viral, and anti diabetic properties , and is great to use for skin both as a lepa (face mask) or as a dusting powder. 

Benefits of Daruharidra: morphology and occurrence

Daruharidra is a wild shrub found in altitudes of 5000 feet and above, typically in the Himalayas and Nepal – it is also found in high altitude regions in the Nilgiris in South India.

Daruharidra is a wild shrub endemic to the Indian sub continent found in high altitudes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shrub itself grows between 5 – 10 feet in high. We have also seen it growing like a semi creeper “climbing” on hilly rock faces in high altitude regions. In our use of Daruharidra in hair and skin care, we usually use harvested roots and stems. However the leaves, flowers, etc are all high in medicinal properties. The flowers are also highly laxative in nature.

Ayurvedic properties & benefits of Daruhridra

 Daruharidra, like Haridra is an excellent ayurvedic herb used in eye, skin, and pitta aggravation diseases like anemia, jaundice, and pitta-kapha aggravation disorders like diabetes.

In skin disorders like eczema, dermatitis and oozing slow healing wounds, Daruharidra is used in Ayurveda with other healing herbs like Durva, Khadira, Nimba, etc. It also forms a part of hoary ayurvedic skin formulations like Kumkumadi tailam which we have blogged earlier about. 

Daruharidra is used in several skin diseases in its choornam form

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The skin benefits of Daruharidra accrue when we use it in multiple ways. Daruharidra can be used as a as a lepa (paste applied on skin, snana aid (for bathing), as a seka (decoction used to irrigate the wound) and as a Kashaya (decoction) that is added to bath water, drunk internally etc. All 3 application methods of Daruharidra have excellent benefits in kushta Roga (skin disorders). 

In eye disorders, also Daruharidra offers potent benefits. A special extract of Daruhridra called Rasaut / Rasanjana is used where the Kashaya of daruharidra is boiled along with goats milk until a solid mass forms. This solid mass is made into Anjana (collyrium) paste / stick and applied to the eye. Due to its hot and bitter potency ,this extract helps clear out Mala from the eyes by inducing profuse watering. It also helps shrink styes in the eyes, inflammation of the eyes, etc.

Benefits of Daruharidra: properties of Berberine extract vs Whole Daruharidra 

With all herbs, there is a lot of excitement around the Isolates extracted. Every herb is a powerhouse of nutrient benefits and pure potent action – most importantly when used in their natural form, they are much lower on side effects and work extremely holistically.

In order to create IP protect-able formulae , many companies are in a rush to isolate the botanical “actives” in herbs. Berberine, is one active found in daruharidra. It is also found in other herbs like Goldenseal, Oregon grape, etc. It is an isoquinolone alkaloid and across hundreds of studies has been found to have potential benefits in diabetes, helps regulate metabolism, and is studied to cause a major reduction in sugar levels.

Berberine isolate can be extracted from many plants. However Ayurveda says that instead of focusing on extracts and isolates we should study the property of teh whole herb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a pure Ayurvedic company, we have an issue with the unnatural focus on one active among a potential set of thousands of actives that *could be found in each herb, perhaps even in each plant part.

Also, the Berberine isolate found in Daruharidra would have different markers and different effects compared to the Berberine found in the Oregon grape, for example. Everything including the soil, country and climate are different from the Himalayan Daruharidra and the Oregon grape, so it makes little sense to treat their isolates as identical.

Ayurveda is certainly not crude or unsophisticated in its approach to pharmaceuticals . Ayurveda and Ayurvedic acharyas have described an astounding variety of complex extraction processes. Rasa shastra which is the ayurvedic sub branch of extracting various metals and elemental compounds utilizes even poisonous elements like Mercury to create healing formulations.

Yet, ayurvedic acharyas have repeatedly stayed away from simpler isolate extraction methods from plants. This is not because they were unaware or incapable of doing this extraction.  The Acharyas have understood and practiced several powerful concepts like Anupana (medium through which a drug is absorbed well), complementary drugs and herbs and most importantly, using the same drug in different compositions, dosage , anupana and extraction methods according to the prakriti of the patient. Ayurveda studies the drug in its whole form and understands its multiple properties and benefits well. It then advises how each herb must be processed and used in external and internal applications so that each person is able to absorb the herb’s properties better. 

So in disease conditions like Prameha (diabetes), Daruharidra is used along with Amla in an anupana of Madhu (honey) – this is a potent and powerful combination which treats many manifestations of prameha including excessive teekshna agni (very high levels of agni), blocked Ama in the body, tendency towards Kapha aggravation, etc and not just blood sugar levels taken in isolation.

If you would like to take Daruhridra for its benefits, make sure you consult a good Vaidya and take it in an appropriate form , and preparation that will suit your Prakriti and disease condition.

Benefits of Daruharidra: How Krya uses this herb

At Krya we use Daruharidra extensively for its skin healing properties. For our Classic Skin Oil serum and the Moisture Plus Skin serum, we extract Daruharidra both in its Kashaya and kalpa form (as a herb decoction) and as a wet herb paste.

These 2 extraction methods are recommended in Ayurveda when you want to extract the botanical nutrients of a herb into an oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Krya classic skin oil is designed for providing balanced nourishment to Pitta prakriti skin. Here we find that the skin tends to have a lot of open pores and textural ups and downs due to frequent clogging, acne, etc. The use of Daruharidra helps heal these minor skin issues and make the skin texture more even. Plus due to its hot and dry potency, Daruharidra is able to provide a holistic anti bacterial and anti fungal effect on the skin and balance out excess sebum production. 

In the Moisture plus skin oil we are addressing a slightly different set of problems. Here the skin tends towards being very dry due to aggravated vata. So here Daruhridra with its hot and intense potency is able to penetrate deep into skin and allow the action of the other botanicals in the oil to help with vata aggravation. Here we use the herb for its deep and penetrative ability and its skin healing property.

Do any of Krya’s products promise skin fairness? For a more detailed analysis on India’s obsession with fairness and why we at Krya stay away from this line of products, please read our earlier post on this

Daruharidra in Krya’s Sensitive range of products:

Krya has a Sensitive Range of products for both toddlers and adults. Here we address the issues of contact dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis in skin. The skin we deal with is often patchy, thickened with production of scales, is sometimes filled with oozing clear liquid, is intensely itchy and irritable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To calm down the skin and to cut down on skin thickening, skin discoloration we use Daruharidra as a key ingredient in both the Sensitive Skin oil and the Sensitive Skin bodywash (choornam).

When used in the sensitive skin bodywash, we use Daruharidra in its processed form as an Ayurvedic powder. When used in this format either as a wash off product or as a dusting powder, the herb helps dry and cut down skin thickening, provides a strong anti inflammatory effect and also has a noticeable anti fungal and anti bacterial effect.

Food triggers are one of the big reasons for aggravation of minor skin disorders. Please download and read our free eBook which gives you food triggers to avoid in psoriasis, eczema and contact dermatitis.

Some experimental products we have used Daruharidra in:

We have also used Daruharidra in a few experimental Krya products. We have used it in a Kashaya preparation meant as an additive to Snana (bath water) for post partum women. Here we utilise the ushna veerya and teekshna property of Daruharidra to help drive down Vata aggravation.

As per the suggestion given in Bhavaprakakasha Nighantu, we have also tried Daruharidra both stand alone and in a multi herb product which is a dusting powder meant for psoriasis and eczema. Additionally , we have experimented with Daruharidra in a toothpowder formulation meant for kapha aggravated conditions like gum inflammation, frequent caries, etc.

In all of these the hot, intensive, sharp, bitter , kapha reducing and skin healing properties of Daruharidra are very ideal.

To sum up: the benefits of Daruharidra 

So there you have it: that’s a brief glimpse into the properties and benefits of Berberis arista /  Daruharidra which goes into Krya’s skin care products. Daruharidra is a potent skin healing , wound healing and and skin restoring Ayurvedic herb that has been discussed in the Brhat Trayee texts and across other Ayurvedic texts.

We harness Daruharidra’s potent skin healing properties across a wide range of skin care products at Krya, specifically our healing and restoring skin serums and oils.

A word of caution: although this post discusses several ways that Daruharidra can be consumed internally, all Ayurvedic herbs are potent and strong, and must always be tailor made using the right anupana to suit your constitution. Do not attempt to self medicate. If you feel internal consumption of Daruharidra could help you, please meet an Ayurvedic Vaidya who can diagnose your condition and prescribe Daruharidra in the right dose and right format for you.

Our work at Krya is part of our larger mission to bring in more awareness of traditional Indian medicinal systems like Ayurveda and Siddha, inculcate a sense of pride in India’s deep historical, cultural, spiritual and medicinal traditions. We also exist to bring in a sense of balance: there are too many products and companies out there recklessly and thoughtlessly endangering human health, water and soil health by using highly toxic and dangerous chemicals to formulate everyday consumer products. We exist to provide you with safe, holistic and sustainable alternatives using India’s divine and sacred herbs.

We do herb related posts at Krya to give you a glimpse into just how potent, powerful and good for us the plants used in Ayurveda are and to help you understand how safe and effective hair, skin and home care products can be easily formulated using these healing herbs. We hope you found this post inspiring and useful. Please go through our other herb posts on other ayurvedic herbs like Bael, Arishtaka, Vacha, Daruharidra, Mulethi, Mushta, Shikakai, etc. Do also go through our posts on Hair care herbs around the world.

If you too would like to transition to our holistic sustainable goodies and need help choosing products, please call us (0-75500-89090) or write to us.

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Pink Predators: Common carcinogens in your home

Update: Breast cancer rates are alarmingly on the rise and a few months ago, one of our close friends who is in her early 40s started 12 rounds of Chemo after detecting a tumerous lump in the left breast after a routine examination.

Krya regularly gets Cancer survivor customers who come to us for skin and hair products after the dreaded disease + even more dreaded treatment. Many of them have a simple question: “Why me”. Most of them are in good physical health, they exercise, take care of their diet and many dont even have a family history of this disease. Yet they contract it. Why is this so?

This post helps answer this question and looks at the extremely worrying effects of 3 possible carcinogenic chemicals which are commonly used in beauty, skin care, hair care and household cleaning products. Read on.

The dreaded “C” word:

In Oct 2014, I attended a meeting of women entrepreneurs. On the sidelines, we were invited to a breast cancer awareness campaign organized by one of the entrepreneurs who had been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. This young lady is a passionate advocate of early diagnosis of breast cancer. As a part of the worldwide pink ribbon day, her team conducted awareness camps for women employed in the major IT parks in Chennai.

As she spoke, a palpable tremor ran through the women in the room. Many had some encounter with the dreaded “c” word, having watched a loved one suffer.

I lost a favourite aunt in 2009 to breast cancer, or perhaps the aggressive chemotherapy given to her. I watched my bright, active danseuse Aunt shrivel away, lose her hair, her energy and eventually her life after four repeated chemotherapy assaults on her body. Breast cancer is one of the most common and fast growing cancers in India today and forms nearly half of all the cancer detected in India . In 2012, 70,000 Indian women died due to breast cancer.

The Pink Ribbon movement

In 1985 in the US , the breast cancer awareness month (BCAM) was created as a partnership between American Cancer Society & a pharma company that is now part of Astra Zeneca. The main aim of the BCAM is to promote mammography as the weapon of choice to diagnose and fight breast cancer. Such partnerships are fraught with ethical dilemmas. Astra Zeneca is the manufacturer of the breast cancer blockbuster drugs Arimidex and Tamoxifen. Some have argued the overly visible and alarmist tone of breast cancer awareness pushes for over reporting and aggressive promotion of the treatment which are the drugs. Worse still, it is now understood that X-ray mammography to detect breast cancer is dangerous and is a carcinogen.

The breast cancer awareness movement came into its own in the early 1990’s with promotion of the pink ribbon as the symbol. In 1993, Evelyn Lauder, Senior Vice-president of Estee Lauder and a  breast cancer survivor herself founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and widely popularized the pink ribbon as its symbol. In that year, Estee Lauder make up counters handed out 1.5 million pink ribbons with a information card describing the steps to construct a self breast exam.

Pink marketing for Breast cancer awareness

Since then, the pink ribbon has become one of the most visible symbols of cause related marketing across the world. Research shows that given parity cost and quality, more than 50% of consumers would switch to a brand associated with a good cause. Going by the popularity of the pink ribbon, breast cancer certainly seems to be a popular and profitable cause for the brands piggybacking on this cause.

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From NFL costumes to cosmetics, from shoe sellers to cricketers, the pink ribbon has engulfed them all during the awareness month. While many critics and naysayers tend to dismiss this as pink washing, there are positives. Millions of dollars have been raised from these campaigns due to which early warning signs are now part of the general lexicon.

But one critical issue continues to trouble the general public.

Despite the top management support, and marketing muscle thrown behind breast cancer awareness, several cosmetic companies who support this cause, continue to use ingredients that are suspected to be carcinogenic. In many cases these suspect ingredients have been found in breast cancer tissues.
Think about it.
The very brands that raise money for awareness continue to use suspected carcinogens in their products.

Pink washing?

In 2013, 15 beauty brands devoted to defeating breast cancer got together to start an offshoot campaign called “we are stronger together”. But according to EWG’s Skin Deep cosmetic database, 12 of these companies, including Aveda, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, and Estee Lauder & Origins sell a wide assortment of cosmetics that contain known carcinogens and other toxics.

The carcinogenic impact of these toxic ingredients is relevant to the study of what causes breast cancer. Research suggests that genetic causes form only 5 – 10 % to breast cancer develops. 90 – 95% of cancer exposure is thought to develop from a series of environmental causes including radiation exposure, excess alcohol consumption, and of course exposure to dozens of carcinogenic chemicals.

The Krya series on toxics

This Krya series on toxic chemicals in household products has been developed as a result of hundreds of queries from concerned users, very often in categories where Krya does not have any product yet. We are asked for our opinion on product categories on the potential hazards of chemicals and more importantly, recommendations for safer natural alternatives.

For the last 4 years on the krya blog, we have maintained our stand that the consumer products industry in India is dangerously under-regulated. Many products are sold widely with little understanding of long term human safety or environmental protection. In our personal experience, we have seen that R&D in global consumer products companies operates in silos, with a narrow focus on cost and immediate consumer gratification. Their safety standards are decades old. They continue to play with the boundaries of safety and often wait for a public outcry or a government order to cut back on toxic ingredients. This laissez-faire attitude has introduced to the trusting public a set of new, potentially dangerous, hydra headed monsters.

The Pink Predators

 Parabens : common possible carcinogen

Parabens are a big family of preservatives found widely in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industries. and have been around for nearly 100 years. They are the industry standard for anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Parabens have been detected in urine, serum, breast milk and seminal fluid, but the most worrying fact has been their detection in breast tissue from patients with breast cancer. In one important north American study, it was calculated that the average person is exposed to 76 mg of parabens every day, with 50 mg from cosmetics, 25 mg from pharmaceuticals and 1 mg from food.

Research from the CDC’s National Centre for Environmental Health found that the blood of over 60% of the children surveyed during the National Health and Nutrition examination survey was contaminated with more than 8 toxins including significant levels of 3 kinds of parabens.

One alarming property of parabens is their ability to enter the body through the skin, something that most people are not aware of. This has been widely studied in underarm cosmetics like deodorants and whiteners. Breast cancer research shows a higher concentration of parabens in the upper lateral breast near the armpit corresponding to the use of deodorants which contain parabens.

3deo caution

After the work of many consumer awareness groups like EWG, Johnson & Johnson pledged to remove both parabens and formaldehyde from its baby care and adult skin care products by 2015 including brands like Aveeno & Neutrogena. But Johnson & Johnson continues to re-assert the safety of parabens and made this decision to eliminate parabens only to assuage certain consumer groups.

Globally most governments have not re-examined the safety of parabens. Some outliers are the Danish government which has banned the use of products for children below 3 years. In India,  parabens are commonly used in cosmetic and other applications.

While we can go back and forth on the safety of parabens , we certainly do not want to be learn 30 or 40 years later that the early researchers who warned against the use of parabens were absolutely right. This is exactly what happened in the global debate on smoking and lung cancer. While the debate raged, many were smoking their way to cancer hoping that the warnings would turn out to be false alarms.

On the other hand it is important to note that parabens do not have any beneficial or therapeutic whatsoever to humans. So the question to ask is this, are there safe alternatives to parabens ? The answer is YES! Paraben free products are available globally and are waiting for you to discover them.

Phthalates :

Phthalates are chemicals used as plasticizers, to make physical products pliant and flexible – they are widely found, in vinyl flooring, raincoats, adhesives, detergents, nail polishes, soaps, toys and skin care lotions. For example, DEHP, a common phthalate, is added to PVC at concentrations between 1 – 40% to make it soft and pliant. Unplasticized PVC without DEHP is hard and brittle.

Phthalates are physically bound into plastics using a heating process, which means that they are very easily released into the environment when this physical bond breaks. This happens in many innocuous ways when phthalate containing products are kept near heat or exposed to strong solvents. For example : when phthalate containing plastic dishes are washed with harsh chemical cleaners.

Phthalates are cheap and versatile: so they are found in products as diverse as children’s toys, and utensils, coatings in pills and nutritional supplements, emulsifying and suspending agents in lotions and shampoos, binders and gelling agents in liquid detergent and dishwash. Other personal care products that contain phthalates are liquid soap, perfumes, deodorant sprays, hair sprays, eye shadow, nail colours and moisturizers.

When used in vinyl flowing, phthalates like DEHP easily leach into the atmosphere, contaminating indoor household air. Once released this toxic air can be inhaled by babies crawling on the floor or pets. A 2008 Bulgarian study found that higher dust concentrations of DEHP was found in the homes of children with asthma and allergies compared to non- asthmatic children.

While a lot of the present phthalate research focuses on infants and children, it is believed women are at a much higher risk of phthalate exposure due to their higher consumption of cosmetic products and exposure to household cleaning products.

Recent (2010) in-vivo and observational studies show an association between phthalate exposure and breast cancer. Also, phthalates like many other endocrine disrupters are both bio-accumulative and additive – when mixed with other classes of chemicals like BPA or nonyl-phenols, they exhibit a deadly chemical synergistic effect. Essentially this means that all these toxic chemicals gang up against your body with a multiplier effect.

2Nail paints caution

A recent published study for the first time studied the positive correlation of DEP (diethyl phthalate), with breast cancer. DEP is found in a high proportion of perfume carrying products like deodorants, hair sprays and moisturizing lotions because of its ability to make fragrance “linger” for a long time. DEP is also used as denaturant in alcohol and is found worryingly in products like mouthwash.

Endocrine-disrupter effect of Phthalates

Why are phthalates dangerous to human health? Simply put, they are endocrine disruptors. Their behaviour can mimic endocrine hormones like estrogen , which really confuses our bodies , leading to disease.

In 2000, Puerto Rican scientists reported an association between DEHP & premature breast development in young girls signifying an early onset of puberty. At the same time the CDC in the United States tested blood samples of 289 Adult Americans and found phthalates in all of them. The levels of some phthalates, including DEHP in women of childbearing age far exceeded government mandated safe levels to prevent birth defects.

Two studies published in Environmental Health perspectives in 2003 found that pregnant women with phthalate exposure on average give birth one week earlier than those without significant phthalate exposure.

A 2006 study among Indian women with endometriosis showed a significantly high level of phthalates in their blood – this included phthalates which are restricted for use in the EU like DEHP, DBT, BBP and DnOP.

Regulations around Phthalates:

Most restriction around phthalates today focuses on children. The EU has restricted the use of certain phthalates like DEHP, DBP, in children’s toys from 1999. Phthalates like DINP, DIDP and DNOP are restricted in toys that can be put into a child’s mouth. The restriction allows these phthalates to be present only upto 0.1% of the plasticized mass of the toy.A similar act was passed in the United States in 2008.

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Phthalates in the Cauvery river:

A study published this year studied water and sediment samples of the Cauvery River, one of South India’s major rivers. A two year soil sediment and water study found DEHP in 92% of the water samples and DEP and DMP in every water sample. Similarly 94% of soil sediment samples also contained DEHP. While the contamination percentage was said to be below USEPA guidelines for water, the soil concentration exceeded this guideline.

The Cauvery river basin covers Karnataka, Kerala , Tamilnadu and Pondicherry.  It is the source for both an extensive irrigation and hydroelectric system and also supplies drinking water for many towns and villages. Bangalore, Mysore and Mandya depend almost completely on the Cauvery for their drinking water. In this situation, the fact that some of the most toxic phthalates like DEHP have so comprehensively contaminated this river cannot be ignored.

Nonylphenols (NP ) and  Nonyl phenol ethoxylate (NPE) :

Nonyl phenols come from a class of chemicals called Alkyphenols. Alkylphenols, including nonyl phenol are precursors to chemical detergents , and are used as additive to fuels, lubricants and other polymers.

All alkylphenols including Nonylphenol ethoxylate are xenoestrogens. They mimic the effect of estrogen in the body and they can disrupt the normal process of reproduction. Xenoestrogens can increase the growth of the endometrium, leading to endometriosis, and can also increase breast cancer tissue in tissue culture studies.

Precocious puberty or puberty among young girls below 8 years is one of the effects of Xeno estrogens. Studies across America, Europe and Asia suggest that irrespective of race and economic conditions, the earlier onset of puberty is attributed to the environmental chemical exposure. Precocious puberty has been studied to lead to significant psychological distress, poor self image and poor self esteem in a young girl. It has also shown to lead to reduced adult height, paediatric & adult obesity, gynaecological disorders like endometriosis, poly cystic ovarian disorder and infertility.

Nonylphenols are chemicals used in laundry and dish detergents, cleaners and emulsifiers, paints, pesticides and in personal wash products. Since the discovery of Nonyl phenol in 1940, its production has been growing every year – it is now a high production volume chemical, with 100 million- 500 million pounds of NPE being produced globally every year.

4synthetic dishwash

Nonylphenol persists in aquatic environments and can take months or longer to degrade in water and soil. Because Nonylphenol is used in so many cleaning products which “go down the drain” like dishwash products and detergent products, it is a ready contaminant into sewage and water supply. Nonyl phenol bio-accumulates inside the body, and is a potent endocrine disrupter.

Synergistic effect of Nonyl Phenol:

As already mentioned, one of the most troubling problems of ingredients like Nonyl phenol which are used as filler in pesticides for their “inert” properties is their ability to work synergistically with other chemicals and multiply their toxic effect on humans.

Current regulations around Nonyl Phenol:

The EU has eliminated the use of Nonyl Phenol and its ethoxylate in most industrial and product sectors. Canada has implemented a pollution prevention plant to drastically reduce the use of NP/NPE.  The US EPA plans to encourage voluntary phase of using NP/NPE in industrial laundry detergents.

In India this is not yet regulated.

Products that contain Nonyl Phenol & Nonyl Phenol Ethoxylate:

Used as a surfactant in shaving creams, detergents, dishwash, hair dyes, hair styling products and pesticides. It is difficult to ascertain if your brand contains this chemical as it is a feedstock chemical which is usually unlisted.

A quick Sum -up: 3 possible carcinogenic chemicals to avoid at home:

Pink could be the colour of happiness. But it is not , in the case of beauty or consumer products, especially those marketed with a pink ribbon to provide awareness and support for breast cancer.  Our article discusses just 3 kinds of toxic chemicals that are commonly found in Indian homes today in their cleaning, skin or hair care products. The US FDA lists over 100,000 industrial chemicals in use today!

Parabens, phthalates and Nonyl Phenol and its ethoxylate find their way into several of the products we use for ourselves, our children and in our home. The worrying problem behind these chemicals is that they come to us in innocuous and friendly looking products like that bottle of nail pain, our favourite brand of deodorant, or simply, our dishwashing liquid that promised to carry the power of 100 lemons in each drop.

As most of these formulations do not declare what exactly goes into them, we would never be able to tell if our favorite brand of synthetic shampoo is actually free from parabens and phthaltes or not. Hence in the spirit of extreme caution and avoiding adding any manner of toxicity to the body, we advise a through and deep detox of all synthetics from your personal and home care list.

Specifically for those trying to conceive, pregnant women, women with a family history of PCOD and endometriosis and breast cancer should avoid using synthetic deodorants, nail paints, synthetic shampoos, bodywashes and shower gels, and also industrial cleaning products like detergent and dishwash products. A wide variety of alternatives exist which are completely natural and avoid using such potentially dangerous synthetics.

Having read this post, you may be left with a deep feeling of “why”. Why do companies use these chemicals? Is it out of malice? Are they out to get us? Are they as unaware as we are? Our next post will look at common myths and facts when formulating household products. Hopefully some more answers will emerge there.

This article is a part of Krya’s series on toxics in household and personal care products. Through this series, we hope to inform, educate and inspire you to look around your home and detox it and yourself from the harmful action of more than 100,000 suspect industrial chemicals that surround human life today.

 

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Sadhana : The why & how of a Spiritual Practice

A Spiritual Practice is high on our prescription list whenever we encounter deranged vata, high anxiety, extreme stress, grief, deranged vata, or when people struggle with chronic or debilitating illnesses either with themselves or in the role of a caregiver.

This prescription comes straight from the Ayurvedic texts as the Acharyas tell us that a physical disease has its roots in the mind and our responses to situation. Therefore cleansing, and control of the mind and reining it with structure, discipline and “good mental food” is part of the ayurvedic Dinacharya.

Regular Spritual practice is key to healthy & happy lifeA sustained and disciplined Spiritual Practice helps us choose happiness. We learn to respond to difficult situations from a better and more balanced place. It also gives us tremendous control over our physical body, reins in illnesses and weaknesses and helps us achieve our goals.

 

 

 

Many times when we have suggested starting a Spiritual Practice, we have been asked what this means and what all it would constitute. This post is therefore our detailed answer to this question.

 

Before we begin, here is a disclaimer from our end. The post describes what we believe is an ideal Spiritual Practice. This in no way means that we are qualified Gurus . We too are seekers on this path, and have shared our personal experiences through this post.

We have limited this post to Spiritual Practice derived from Santana Dharma (Hinduism) alone as this is what we follow. We are not qualified to suggest a Spiritual Practice for other faiths / denominations. For these, we suggest you read this post as a starting point and then speak to an elder / teacher within your faith to take this further.

An Introduction to Spiritual Practice :  from the Adi Kaavya

The very first shloka of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana, which is the Adi-Kavya , the first ever written work, gives us very deep & complete insights into the nature of both Sadhana & the Sadhaka.

Ramayana: sets the foundation of spiritual practiceSrimad Valmiki Ramayana is the holiest of spiritual texts and is highly regarded as being equal to the Vedas themselves. This work of divine origin is endowed with several layers of deep meaning and each stage of meaning reveals itself to the aspirant who applies himself with steadfast devotion. So we can be absolutely sure that we are on the right path if we take instructions from this work, which has been personally blessed and authorized by Lord Rama himself.

The first Shloka is as follows :

तपस्स्वाध्यायनिरतं तपस्वी वाग्विदां वरम् ।

नारदं परिपप्रच्छ वाल्मीकिर्मुनिपुङ्गवम् ।।1.1.1।।

The word-by-word meaning of the above sloka is as follows :

“The Ascetic Valmiki enquires of Sage Narada, who is the most pre-eminent of sages , one who is most eloquent in speech and who is completely engaged in austerities and the study of vedas.”

 

 

There are 4 important concepts clearly expounded in the above sloka :

a. Shabda : words of a great Guru

Shabda or the words of a great guru sets teh basics of a spiritual practiceThe word of a great person ,a very reliable authority. The ascetic Valmiki, begins his enquiry by approaching Sage Narada, who is clearly established in all the worlds as an true and reliable source of correct information. So this illustrates the point that we should always begin a serious endeavor on the authority of a great person of unquestionable character and knowledge. We cannot afford to take any risk and base our actions on the word of an unknown on un-reliable person.

 

 

In fact, in Indian knowledge systems , there are a standard set of  accepted methods of proof (Pramana) of anything, including a proper Spiritual Practice which are

    • Pratyaksha – direct perception
    • Anumana – Inference
    • Shabda – the word of a great authority or source

Hence “Shabda” or the words of a wise and Great Guru is critical for the foundation of any kind of Spiritual Practice.

 

 

Ayurveda is also based on the 3 pillars of proof of Indian classical texts

Similarly, the whole system of Ayurveda has been based on the 3 methods of proof of Pratyaksha, Pramana and Shabda.

Therefore when we make an Ayurvedic taila or a choorna, we do not base it on our own instinct or a new trend. Instead we choose herbs, preparation methods from the texts which is based on the Pratyaksha + Pramana + Shabda of the Great Acharyas.

This reliance on a long, well thought out clear tradition with clear antecedents is what makes the ayurvedic formulations fool proof, error free, safe and still potent and good to use – this .

 

 

 

 

 

b. Guru-Sishya : teacher – student relationship

The need for a Guru,  in Indian tradition is to guide, encourage and bless us . In sadhana, a true guru is of paramount importance and this is one the most important pillars of Sanatana Dharma .

Guru sishya relationship: cornerstone of sanatana dharma

Many volumes can be written about the vital role of a Guru in our life. This is why this concept is illustrated clearly in the Taittiriya Upanishad as “ Acharya Devoh Bhavah” i.e. the teacher is to be revered as a god. In the shloka mentioned above, Valmiki approaches Sage Narada as a Sishya would approach a Guru.

 c. Tapas-Svadhyaya : austerity, sacrifice and self study

These two great words Tapas & Svadhyaya reveal the heart of spiritual practice.

Tapas: the practice of prioritising Sadhana and making sacrifices for SadhanaTapas , which means austerity or discipline , contains a wealth of meaning for a single word. Spiritual Practice is a discipline, for which we need to put in effort and hard work, perhaps give up un-necessary distractions and apply ourselves.

 

 

 

Our sincere effort is the fuel for the spiritual practice and nothing is going happen if we don’t discipline ourselves.

 

The actual details of the sacrifices and disciplines will apply to every part of our life from food rules, sleeping and waking times, taking care of our body, right company, thoughtful speech, honest vocation, commitment to our duties & family (dharma) etc

 

 

 

Svadhyaya, literally means the daily self-study of the vedas. So this essentially means applying ourselves to regular, daily study of holy texts and scriptures. This definition does NOT apply to reading self-help books or reading technical books for your work and certainly not to fiction.

Swadhyaya - dedicated self study and practice of Spiritual Sadhana

 

This definition strictly means the daily ,devoted self-study of holy texts like the vedas, Upanishads , itihasas, puranas, smritis ( also ,from #2 above , when you get doubts in svadhayaya, you will automatically feel the need for a guru !)

In the shloka, Sage Narada is described as Tapas-Svadhyaya Nirattam – one who is constantly engaged in the austerities and study of the Vedas, and these qualities that mark him as a great sage (Muni Pungavam)

d. Sadhana is mandatory for All:

Even for the exalted Sage Narada, who is of divine origin, constant daily sadhana is mandatory. In fact, it is the daily disciplines that elevate him to his pre-eminent status among sages and he cannot stop his sadhana after achieving greatness.

There is a clear directive in this shloka that spiritual sadhana is required for everyone regardless of their status and it is a constant endeavor. This is another important lakshana (mark) of a true Guru – He / she is constantly practicing their spiritual sadhana with utmost rigour, before advising you. You must always assure yourself that a prospective Guru is first upholding Tapas & Svadhyaya, before giving them that exalted position of your teacher.

Swadhyaya mandatory for all everyday

 

Why do we need a Spiritual Practice?

 Sadhana, or spiritual practice is simply the work required to reach a state of permanent god-consciousness, which is an end in itself.

As Shri Ramanujacharya states in his seminal work , the Sri Bhasya, True Bhakti or perfect god consciousness is demonstrated as “Avichinna Taila Dhara Vat” – which means that true Bhakti or god-consciousness is perfectly smooth, continuous and un-interrupted like the flow of Taila (oil) from one container to another.

Bhakti is described as Avichinna taila dhara

 

A human being is a composite of 3 entities – the Mind (Manas) , the Physical body (Shareera) and the Soul (Atman).

The mind perceives the world through the 5 sense organs and if unchecked, the sense organs completely take control and leads the body into all kinds of troubles and diseases. A stable and steady mind , with the sense organs in control , helps us lead a life of balance and harmony. The control of the 5 sense organs appears as an important theme in the Bhagavad Gita and Sage Patanjali famously starts his instructions on yoga with the statement : Yogah citta-vritti Nirodah.

But beyond the mind and the body, we have the soul, the Atman.

Sadhana is for the Atma

 

It is very obvious to all of us that there is a “spirit” within all of us – which we call the Atman or Soul , hence the term “spiritual practice” – because these is an in-dwelling soul, the Atman , which is clearly different from the physical body covering it, we are able to differentiate between life and death. This spirit within us, is what animates us and gives the sense of “life” to the body outside. Hence like we need food, sleep and exercise for the physical body, we surely need daily sadhana or spiritual practice for our soul.

The presence of “3  parts” to each of us is clearly illustrated in Ayurveda, especially in the sections on conceptions. Here the Acharyas have clearly stated that without the presence of a willing soul / atma, conception cannot take place. Hence the parents to be are asked to do a strong spiritual Practice in order to access their higher state of being, make a connection to the divine and Invite a pure and evolved soul to make its journey in this world through them as Parents.

Conception does not occur without a willing atma prepared to be born to the parents to be

The Acharyas tell us that Parents with evolved Spiritual consciousnesses through daily Sadhana of a Spiritual Practice are able to attract highly evolved souls as Children. Such parents are considered to be blessed and worthy of high praise, as they are able to give the world highly evolved beings who can do their Dharma well and help many other people in their journey. It is not enough for Parents to be to be simply in good physical health and take their ante natal vitamins according to ayurveda. They should also be practicing to uplift their spiritual quotient in order to both attract and raise an evolved soul.

The importance of Sadhana or Spiritual Practice in Indian tradition

Classical Indian texts tell us that there are 3 pillars for the foundation of a  spiritual life :

  • Tattva – the Nature of reality (and the discussion on the relation of man and god)
  • Purushartha – the Goals of life , which are Dharma , Artha , Kama & Moksha
  • Sadhana – The means to attain the Purusharthas mentioned above.

The purpose of Sadhana is 3 fold: to understand relaity, achieve life goals and as a goal in itselfSadhana has a triple purpose in Indian Spirituality. It helps us understand and come to terms with “Tattva” . It also helps us achieve our Purusharthas with ease, clarity and balance.

But over and above these 2 goals, Sadhana is a goal unto itself. This is because it is the means to achieve the both happiness in material life and also help us attain the ultimate aim of Moksha. Therefore there is a tremendous body of divine knowledge in India which has been developed by the Great Masters to guide us and give a clear blue-print on how to live our lives.

 

Sustained Sadhana clarifies and purifies our intellect , making it fit to receive Jnana , true knowledge which leads to Moksha. While this is the big picture , Sadhana also bestows a lot of bliss , happiness and strength to succeed in the material life as well.

Ayurvedic texts also clearly discuss the importance of spiritual practice in the section on Dinacharya or daily regimen. The 5 fundamental elements, Akash, Prithvi, Vayu, Agni & Jala combine uniquely to form the 3 doshas of the body – Vata, Pitta & Kapha, so too the human mind operates in 3 gunas or modes know as Sattva , Rajas & Tamas.

The texts say that the derangement of the 3 doshas causes physical disease and the derangement of the 3 Mano-Gunas causes mental or psychic diseases. Right conduct in our daily life helps maintain correct balance of the Mano gunas and this is achieved through consistent spiritual disciplines.

What constitutes Sadhana or Spiritual Practice?

 Once you are clear in your mind that you need a spiritual practice, the next question obviously is this: What constitutes Sadhana or Spiritual Practice?

  • Is it meditation? Is it Prayer ? Visiting temples ?
  • Is it living mindfully in the present moment ?

Luckily, these questions have been troubling mankind from the dawn of time and we have a number of instructions derived from Great Masters who have drawn direct references from authoritative texts.

The Indian tradition of Vedas, Upanishas, Itithasas, Puranas , Smritis are vast , extensive , comprehensive , authoritative and mind-boggling.

Gita is an authoritative text on SadhanaFor example, the Bhagavad Gita in 18 chapters is the most authoritative text on Yoga and in the 4th chapter , lord Krishna defines 12 different types of Spiritual Sadhana to achieve perfection. Yet these are at the abstract , conceptual level , and it is difficult for us to translate these instructions into our daily lives.

 

It is beyond the reach of most of us to make an authentic and wide study of these texts and arrive at a program for ourselves , hence we rely on the works of Great Masters to give us a program – however a vital point to note here is this : The spiritual practices are NOT the opinions or thoughts of these masters, they have merely helped us navigate the vast world of authoritative texts and their works are always based on first principles.

One must also remember that there are some fundamental philosophical differences in the works of the masters. So if your family has traditionally followed a particular school of thought (Sampradya) , then you must stick to that school and not try to look beyond the instructions of that school.

 

I have given below some examples of texts on spiritual practices by great masters , to give an idea of what is Sadhana. While there are numerous texts in India  , these are some of the well known ones.

a. The Narada Bhakti-Sutras

 In this post we once again take the assistance of Sage Narada – who we met at the beginning. In his Bhakti Sutras, Sage Narada gives us 84 extra-ordinary Sutras divided into 5 chapters, with clear guidance on the goal and the sadhana techniques to achieve the goal.

Sage Narada has written the Bhakti sutras for achieving spiritual prowess

 

b. Sadhana Panchakam of Adi Shankaracharya

 A student of the eminent Advaita Vedanta Philosopher, Adi Shankaracharya, asked him the direct question – What is the essence of Spiritual Practice ?

Adi Sankara composed the Sadhana panchakam

 

In response, the great master composed the “Sadhana Panchakam  or  “5 verses on Sadhana” . In these 5 concise yet comprehensive verses, he lists 40 different instructions on how to lead a spiritual life and achieve the ultimate aims of human existence.

c. Sadachara Smriti By Sri Madhvacharya

Sri Madhvacharya, the Dwaita Philpsopher , along with Adi Shankaracharya & Sri Ramanujacharya are the 3 prinicipal teachers of Vedanta. To help his followers,he has composed a short work in 35 Sanskrit shlokas called “Sadachara Smriti” – Or the instructions in Right Living.

Madhwacharya wrote Sadachara Smriti

 

This work is great starting point for spiritual practice , as Madhvacharya gives very clear prescriptions on how we should structure our day and this work is very lucid and not at all abstract. But as with all great masters, he has ensured that these prescriptions are comprehensive and complete. Even though this is a small text , it is very profound in its impact.

d. Dasabodha of Samarth Ramdas

 Swami Samarth Ramdas, was a 17th century Advaita philosophy Guru and the spiritual preceptor to Chattrapati Shivaji. He has composed a massive tome called “Dasabodha” or “ instructions to disciples” , which is another valuable work for those following that Sampradaya on how to construct their lives.

Samarth Ramdas wrote Dasabodha

 

Similarly many valuable works by the masters of different Sampradya’s exist in order to guide the followers on a well-structured spiritual path. Some more examples are :

  • Shodhash Grantha of Shri Vallabhacharya
  • Sadachar  Prakash of Shri Nimbarka
  • Shiksa Ashtakam of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

 

For one or more of the following reasons , I have deliberately referred to works by Sages of ancient India and not great men of recent times.

  1. Recency bias : Many of the modern masters are very close to us temporally , so we have a large amount of internet based resources , books , videos, pictures , discussions and hagiographic accounts given by direct disciples – the large volume of readily available online information clouds out the ancient masters but that is not a good reason to NOT know the ancient masters.
  2. Purity of doctrine (or) absence of Syncretism : The ancient masters outlined their doctrine in its pristine form with great adherence to textual evidence. Due to hundreds of foreign invasions of India in the last few centuries, the modern masters had no choice but to follow a syncretic path and in my opinion it is very important to know the original doctrine well before studying the syncretic works.
  3. Re-energizing dormant Spirituality : By their own , admission, many modern masters acknowledge that they have nothing new to teach – their purpose is to merely re-energize the dormant spirituality in society through the timeless principles of Dharma
  4. Importance of Disciplic Succession : This is a very important point to ensure authenticity of teachings. All Sampradayas should have a clear Guru-Parampara or Disciplic succession , which traces the lineage of the current head all the way back to the Supreme creator of the world. By establishing this lineage through authentic accounts, we are assured that we are following a sound doctrine. Sadly, many modern teachers have literally sprung out of thin air, with no clear initiation by a acknowledged Guru and neither do they have proper successors. So it is extremely risky to trust our spiritual bank account to teachers without a clear lineage. It may work or it may not. The risk is too high.

7 Key Themes of All Indian Schools for Spiritual Practice

 After you conduct a comprehensive study of all instruction manuals of Indian systems of Sadhana, some important common elements can be easily observed

a. Preparing the body, to be fit for Sadhana :

Without fail , in all spiritual texts and Ayurvedic textbooks , we are exhorted to wake up before sunrise, in Brahma Muhurta, have a Snana, wear fresh clothes, apply the religious marks on our body as per our tradition and then remember God and our Gurus. This is the ideal, recommended start to our day for both spiritual progress and great health.

Prepare the body for spiritual practice

Prepare the body for spiritual practice

The steps outlined above for preparation to be fit for Sadhana i.e waking up early, having an Abhyanga-Snana, wearing fresh clothes, are all potent Ayurvedic practices that is deeper than what is obvious. They help build discipline, balance the 3 doshas and are designed to remove tamas and sloth from the mind and the body.

For example: In Ayurveda, a very potent medical tool to balance aggravated Kapha dosha in diseases like diabetes is to simply regulate sleep. By controlling the number of hours slept, the time of waking up and regulating afternoon naps, we are able to achieve an extraordinary balance in kapha dosha leading to regulation of blood sugar levels. This example is given the illustrate the power behind each of the so called simple preparatory steps listed in this point.

The application of religious marks on our body is an extra-ordinary subject in itself and deserves a separate article to fully describe its importance. In Sanatana Dharma this could encompass wearing a tilak, a bindi, an urdhva pundrum , or a “thiru neetru pattai ” (viboothi), gopi-chandan, etc. Both the substance used to wear the appropriate religious marks (vibhooti, thiruman kaapu, Kumkum, gopi Chandan), and the act of applying the mark on your forehead has deep spiritual significance – and helps clarify and activate the ajna chakra. We will write a separate, more detailed post on this in the future.

Prepare the 3rd eye for higher consciousness

 

b. Remain in God-Consciousness in everything you do

Remaining in God-consciousness is central to all Spiritual Sadhana :, in every thing we do. An atheistic or secular Sadhana has not been defined at all in all Indian traditions and is in fact to be strictly avoided. The method of god-remembrance is through chanting shlokas, japa , lighting lamps, worshipping at temples and a proper and complete Upasana ( or worship of the Physical form of god) at our home.

Even when we exercise and take care of the body, god consciousness is encouraged. Despite the non religious nature of yoga abhyasa today, its roots lie in the deepest form of God Consciousness. Here the entire body is worshiped as a temple with God / divinity residing within. So yoga and pranayama is done both as a method of cleaning the inner temple and also to go closer to the divinity within.

While the above form a specific portion of our day, i,e our daily Puja / Worship, we are encouraged to remain in God consciousness through the day in everything we do. So we are asked to practice God consciousness while brushing our teeth, eating, cooking, dressing, commuting, working , surfing the net, chatting with colleagues, etc.

Remain in god consciousness throughout the day

So this state of being slowly begins to permeate through our speech, thought, desires, the way we respond to external situations, the way we eat, etc. This state of entering and remaining in God-Consciousness is the secret key to all spiritual success.

c. Paramount Importance of Nitya-Karma (daily duties)

Nitya-Karma or our daily obligations are to be performed without fail , on all days. These supersede voluntary spiritual activities like visiting a temple. Nitya Karmas are well defined and examples are : waking up before sunrise, Snana, Sandhya-Vandana , Upasana , eating as per proper food rules , choosing a Dharmic Vocation , doing that vocation to the best of one’s ability , performing the role of spouse or parent with utmost dedication.

In Indian spiritual tradition, we are assured that no matter what our life stage is, the proper discharge of duties itself constitutes half our spiritual sadhana. Hence seeking a  spiritual path is open to all, not just renunciates, or anyone from a particular gender, creed, community , etc.

Similarly the proper discharge of our responsibilities be it at home, or at work is itself considered a sadhana. This is especially true when we choose the right vocation / career and seek to fulfill our highest moral and spiritual values through our work.

The loving & involved discharge of our duty is also part of Spiritual Sadhana

 

Even if we chose not to work, raising our children well, looking after our parents, or developing ourselves is also considered Sadhana in Sanatana Dharma.

 d. Need for a Guru :

There is no spiritual practice in a perfect vacuum or all by oneself. It has been clearly established in all Indian doctrines that a true Guru to guide us is absolutely necessary. How to find our true Guru is an important subject in itself.

 e. Svadhyaya :

This is another vital pillar of spiritual practice. The Daily, devoted self-study of holy texts and scriptures. This is an absolutely guaranteed route to purifying and elevating the mind.

 In Indian tradition, we are advised to keep copies of certain essential texts at home like the Ramayana, a portion of the Ramayana like the Sundara Kanda, Devi Mahatmayam, and the Bhagavad Geeta. In addition we can also keep copies of certain Puranas like the Bhagawata Purana, Padma Purana, etc.

The daily reading of good spiritual texts is a part of Sadhana

 

A small portion of our day can be devoted to reading a small portion of any of these texts every day, or even just a single stotra. The reading and re-reading of these texts give great spiritual strength, resilience, clarity of purpose and purity of thought.

For example: in many south Indian homes, a reading of the Sundara Kaanda (the portion of the Ramayana which spans a single day encompassing Lord Hanuman’s search for Sita Devi in Sri Lanka) is considered strengthening and auspicious especially in moments of great trouble. We are asked to practice reading of this Kaanda alone when people are ill, unwell, when we are going through a  tremendous crises of faith and when we seem to have exhausted all our logical options.

Another example is the dedicated reading of the Devi Mahaatmayam during Navratri. Over 9 days, during this spiritually charged period, we read the entire story behind the origin of Devi Durga, the battles she fought and are taught using divine parables the virtue of great courage, resilience, femininity, divine spirit, etc.

These practices are a beautiful exercise in positive visualization, strength giving and brings tremendous purpose and clarity. It is also a very handy tool to engage with the mind and spirit at a higher level, and give the mind a better rock to hold onto during moments of crisis.

Different people connect with different such texts. We encourage you to try out a few of the above options and see which one resonates most with you.

The safest spiritual books to start with are Ramayana, Ramcharitra Manas, Bhagawad Gita , Bhagavata Purana and Sundara Kanda. Among Puranas, please choose the Sattvic Puranas to start with.

Please avoid Puranas which are not supposed to be kept and read at home like the Garuda Purana. When in doubt, please consult the elders in your family or your family’s Upadhyay. This information is not reliably available online.

 f. Satsanga , Satsanga , Satsanga :

The company of Holy & good people. From the dawn of time , every Indian Sampradaya has been exhorting the importance of Satsanga – which is the company of Holy & Good people and how by the mere association , we are accelerated on the fast track in spiritual progress. Equally important is the avoidance of bad people or Dur-Sangati. One must actively thirst/yearn for Satsanga and also be very aware of who we keep company with. Satsanga is extremely powerful and totally overlooked.

Choose your Sangha (community) carefully

 

 The concept of Satsangha is repeatedly explained in the Ayurvedic texts, along with Shlokas on right conduct, learning to keep the mind in control, etc. The Acharyas opine that even a very well brought up person from a family with good values can be led astray with Dur Sangha. In fact the choosing of our friends, associates, workplace and which colleagues we would like to associate with is a critical step in our spiritual evolution. The right company can help us progress and progress with us. The wrong company can completely devalue our spiritual progress and set us back by a few decades.

 g. Japa (Repetition of a Mantra or the Lord’s Name):

Japa ,the constant mindful , mental chanting of a mantra or the Lord’s name is very central to all spiritual Sampradayas. It is truly good fortune to get initiated by a Guru who can chose an mantra for you. If not, you can easily chose a mantra of your favorite Ista Devata and start Japa. The masters have assured us that this pillar of spiritual practice is guaranteed to put us on a good path and take us where we need to go.

The simplest and most potent Japa to start with is “Rama”. This japa was able to even transform a simple robber to a Maha rishi and a poet when he mechanically chanted this mantra in reverse unknowingly (“Mara, “Mara” chanted by Valmiki).

Japa chanting is a potent tool of Sadhana.

 So What should I do to Start my Spiritual Practice Right Away ?

This is the most obvious difficulty for all of us neophytes – where do I start ? What concrete and easy steps can I take right now ? So based on personal experiences, here are a number of easy and effective starting  points

Learn your Gotra & Nakshatra

Across India, we have a tradition of identifying our biological lineage through the Gotra system and also the ruling Nakshatra on the day of our birth. In sanatana Dharma, every one and their family has a gotra. No one is left out of the Gotra system.

However, Many of us are not even aware of the names of our Gotra / Nakshatra. If this is the case, please check with your family and firmly identify your Gotra & Nakshatra.

The Gotra system traces our biological ancestry to a set of sages who were present at the dawn of time. These sages are extra-ordinary and realized souls who are eager to help us and ensure our welfare.

In Indian tradition these Rishis are “Nitya Suris” – immortal and ever present across all worlds. As our ancestors, they are awake to our calls asking for our help and are ever ready to reach out and help you.

Rishi from Gotra is a potent seer and guru

 

But they cannot interfere in your life without you actively seeking their help. You must seek them. They have utmost respect for your free-will and choice. By merely knowing their name and meditating on them, you will activate a very powerful source of guidance and benedictions. We have already discussed the vital importance of a Guru , and your ancient ancestor will help you in that quest along with other blessings.

Identify your Family’s Sampradaya

In India, it is very likely that your family belongs to a well-established Sampradya, like those discussed earlier. In the spiritual quest , there is No greater advantage than traditional family adherence to a Sampradya. If you can easily identify this, then you should not look for other Gurus and other systems.

Your family has likely found success through the principles and practices of this Sampradaya and it is not correct to abandon this tradition without serious cause. Moreover, you already have the blessings of the Gurus of this lineage – all you need is to activate them.

Most vitally, all spiritual quests must make the family unit stronger and not weaker. If a member of the family suddenly starts off on a new Sampradaya or aligns themselves to a new Guru , it can cause serious rifts in the families progress. This is the problem with many new cults of god-men. They really isolate a key member of family from their tradition and cause serious troubles. It is usually a very bad idea to abandon a long-held family Sampradaya in favour of a new , shiny Guru.

Create a Small Puja Room / Alcove ( your spiritual office)

 Spiritual Sadhana is serious work. It will not happen in your balcony or living room. You need to allocate an official space for this quest. If not available already you can create a small alcove with pictures of your Ishta-Devta.

You should light a lamp with cotton wicks and A2 cow ghee along with incense sticks daily in this space. There is special relationship between high quality Cow ghee and Agni – cow ghee is considered “the havis” or “best offering” for Agni Bhagawan. It also carries immense spiritual vitality and clarity and helps purify the space around it. This is the reason we suggest lighting a pure ghee lamp – when lighting a lamp, it is important to make offerings which are of the same or better quality than what you consume or use.

Currently there is a practice of offering slightly inferior quality ghee or “lamp oil” in your Puja, This is absolutely wrong. In our spiritual practice, we are appealing to the highest of our selves and then connecting that highest of selves to the divine. So every offering we make to this highest of selves must be pure, elevated and of extraordinarily high quality.

This spiritual office, is also the area for respectfully storing your holy texts , to do your Svadhyaya & Japa. With regular sadhana, this becomes a highly charged space which can re-charge your spiritual batteries and re-energize you. If would be very ideal if you can allocate a closed room for this purpose.

The pooja room is your spiritual office

 

The allocation of a “spiritual office” is an important investment. IF the energies in this room are regularly built up through your daily sadhana, this is like a charged battery waiting to uplift you when you are low. Therefore it is ideal to keep this space private and work in this space everyday to recharge yourself and the space.

 Start Swadhayaya

The Srimad Valmiki Ramayana , Bhagavad Gita ,Sundara Kaanda portion of Ramayana ,the 5 Satvika Puranas ( Bhagavatam, Narada, Vishnu , Varaha & Padma) , the 10 principal Upanishads are amazing starting points for Svadhyaya. Of course these are all in Sanskrit , so it would be ideal to procure a copy that has the original Sanskrit text along with English translation for your Svadhayaya.

Begin your swadhyaya

 

Beyond these timeless texts, we also have great regional texts like the Ramcharitmanas, which are also good starting points. From personal experience, even the careful study of the English translation of an important text, we can derive tremendous benefits.

Sanatana Dharma has a vast ocean of spritual texts for Svadhyaya. For a quick start you can download some free e-books given on the Tirupati Thirumala Devasthanam website Here 

Start Japa & Puja of Ishta-Devta

 Many of us would have an Ishta-devta or favorite deity ,especially from childhood memory , one who has captivated us in some way.

Doing a simple puja to the Ishta Devta through decoration with fresh flowers, lighting of good ghee lamp and offering food for the Ishta Devta is a good way to invite their presence into your life. It is quite simple to learn the basic moola mantras of these deities and start chanting them with regular frequency daily. This again activates powerful latent forces within us and from outside as well.

Puja & Japa of Ishta devtha

 

This practice also powerfully re-charges our home space. The aura of the home is more positive, healing and gives us vibrancy, positivity and the ability to heal.

 Visit Temples Regularly ( if possible , ancient Temples) :

India’s temples, built as per specific Agamas, are its priceless treasures. They are all around us, open every single day without fail from ancient times, have free entry and are guaranteed to help us in many different ways.

The mere act of visiting a temple near you home daily or once a week is yet another exceptional spiritual practice and will surely benefit us massively. But we need to make the conscious effort to visit temples , to actively seek the priceless spiritual gifts within them.

We suggest visiting ancient temples which are well worshipped in to access the huge fount of stored positive spiritual energy within them. A good temple visit can give you a full battery recharge and wipe your mind free of negative and depressive thoughts with fresh and renewed purpose and clarity.

Visit more temples

 

The faith and belief of the devotees, sincerity of the priests, construction of temple to conserve spiritual energy as per Agama , Vastu & Shilpa sastra and power concentrated in the Archa Moorthy all work together to give you this cleansing and spiritual experience.

A temple must be visited as a separate visit in itself at first. We suggest proper preparation like visiting the temple after fresh Snana, wearing of clothes especially chosen for the temple (traditional dress is best), and on a comparatively empty stomach.

In our experience a temple visit can fill you with pranic shakti and energy – if you have visited on a full stomach, this can leave you uncomfortable, disoriented and sometimes with feelings of nausea as the body has literally received too much nourishment.

 Actively seek Satsanga in Spiritual Practice

 Satsanga is a very important and over-looked spiritual Sadhana. It is the company of holy and good people. Now this is why the earlier point of regularly visiting temples is vital. You are un-likely to find Satsanga in a bar or a mall or even in your office. For urban Indians, the ancient temples are their best friend in developing Satsanga. Down-right bad people are un-likely to be found in temples as well.

As you perform Sadhana by the other methods mentioned above, your spiritual antennae will develop and guide you in identifying these holy & good people. With spiritual sadhana, many down-right bad people will also stop crossing your paths. You must actively seek Satsanga –  finding it is an art and an interesting journey.

 

To Sum up the quest for Spiritual Practice

In traditional Indian works, is to customary to begin with a request for blessings from the almighty. So there was a deliberate choice of starting this post with the first shloka of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana, which is sure to bless all our endeavors with success.

 In traditional Indian works it is also customary to end with a Phala-Shruti Shloka, which means a shloka which explains the benefits that will accrue to the reader as a result of reading and following that work.

 Since our sincere endeavor in this post is to provide a simple outline of Spiritual Sadhana, we choose to end this post with the Shanti Mantra from the Taittirya Upanishad , which nicely summarizes the objectives of this post and we are sure that the regular chanting and meditation upon this mantra will help us on the spiritual path.

 सह नाववतु ।
सह नौ भुनक्तु ।
सह वीर्यं करवावहै ।
तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 Ayurvedic strategies for an Effective Digital Detox

Time for a digital detox?

A Digital Detox is the need of the hour for nearly all of us today.  Research tells us that when we practice a digital detox , our memory becomes sharper, we are able to sleep deeper, our posture becomes better, we are able to form more meaningful connections with people, and that we are open to more life changing perspectives and decisions.

A Digital Detox program.

A conversation on another group I am a part of spurred this post. The author of the post shared that she felt that she was “digitally addicted” to social media and found that she had developed a need to stay connected and consume vast amounts of information. So she reached out asking for help and suggestions to help her digitally de-addict.

The number of responses in this discussion made me realize how much of a digital addiction problem all of us have. I began working at a time when I had no cell phone. I have even resisted using a cellphone for 2 – 3 years entirely and I avoided using a smartphone or using apps for a very long time. Yes even I find myself inexorably drawn to my smartphone. The ease of buying with pre-installed apps has left even someone like me, a self confessed Luddite, far more digitally addicted than I would like to be.

are you suffering from digital addiction?

 

Therefore I have written this post drawing on ayurvedic strategies to help everyone do a Daily digital detox. This post also shares the ayurvedic reasoning behind this, explains about the nature of vata dosha and how vata dosha is powerfully aggravated with digital addiction and what we can do everyday to control this addiction.

Background  for digital detox: Why it is critical to keep Vata Dosha in balance

We are all made of a combination of vata, pitta and kapha dosha. Each Dosha has its own set of functions in the body. The amicable and harmonious team work of all doshas in the body gives us a body in a state of health and balance and Mano gunas (mental traits) which are cheerful, positive and in control.

A combination of the 5 great elements in balance gives us the correct and harmonious working of the mind and body

 

Vata dosha is made up of a combination of 2 Pancha mahaboothas (primordial elements) of Vayu (air) and Akash (space / ether). Hence vata dosha can be described as a combination of Mobility and lightness and speed due to the presence of Vayu and vast emptiness due to presence of Akash mahabootha.

Only Vata dosha has “Akash” or Space as a primordial element within it. This explains many symptoms of disease when vata is affected and also helps us understand the structural composition of organ systems which are governed by Vata dosha.

When Vata dosha is in balance, the body has the ability of speed, lightness, mobility and the willingness to accept change. Vata dosha in balance gives us enthusiasm, creative fire, speed, willingness to get up and move the body, the capacity to talk in an animated and creative fashion. Vata dosha also helps provide “excitation” to the brain and is what get us “firing” with new ideas, thoughts, unique ways of doing things etc.

in balance, vata dosha gives us energy, creativity, mobility and lightness

 

Vata Dosha also governs important body systems. It governs all organs of movement (entire musculo skeletal movement) and governs transportation of all fluids, foods and wastes through the body and out of the body. So Vata in balance gives us timely “excretion” of urine, and bowel movements. Vata in balance gives us easy removal of menstrual wastes.

Balanced vata dosha is critical for women’s reproductive health and ease of periods. Aggravated vata dosha is one of the main reasons behind women suffering with excessive menstrual cramping, poor blood flow, and uncertain menstrual period timings. You can read more about this here.

Due to the nature of urban living, the foods we consume and the high level of mental excitation, access to new information, fried food and vata exciting devices, most of us have an imbalanced Vata dosha (as it has been over used / over excited).

When vata dosha is over -used, it imbalances rather dramatically leaving you with insomnia, panic attacks, mood swings and depressive states, inability to fall asleep easily, tendency to wake up in the middle of the night several times apart from other issues. It also leads to catches in the muscular skeletal system, porosity of bones, weak teeth etc as the air in these parts increases due to excitation of Vata.

When vata is over used it leads to highs and lows in mental states besides many physical issues

Aggravated Vata dosha also leads to a chicken and egg situation which we will read about further . It leads to addictive behavior which in turn further excites Vata Dosha.

Digital Addiction and Vata dosha

There is a growing body of research in Ayurveda which links the over use of smartphones and social media and even news to this state of imbalanced and over used vata dosha.

Vata dosha is light, mobile and subtle. Hence as these devices radiate at a minute level, are used close to the body, and use “Vayu “and “Akash” to pass signals, they easily stimulate and excite the nerve endings and subtle channels in the body causing minute, almost imperceptible movements in the body.

The medium and very nature of social media excites vata dosha

 

Due to this subtle excitation of cells, and due to the nature of the signals passed by these devices, and their nature of proving interesting and fresh stimulation to the mind, the overall vata dosha in the head and body is excited.

In fact in many kinds of addiction (binge watching of television, alcohol, smoking, shopping, binge-eating etc), we can see the excitation of Vata dosha as a cyclical cause of the addiction. The addiction excites Vata dosha which gives us the “crack cocaine effect” which in turn leads to further addictive behaviour . Thus, we keep on steadily unbalancing and aggravating Vata dosha.

Any kind of addictive behavior has its roots in vata aggravation and also triggers vata aggravation

Over use of cell phone: aggravates vata dosha

Many times, after a long call, we feel “buzzed”. The ear feels over heated. We are unable to shut down and feel the need to visibly calm down. This is an example where the use of a vata exciting device on an organ dominated by Vata dosha has led to vata aggravation.

Over using the ears can lead to vata aggravation

 

The ear is considered a sookshma organ governed by vata dosha. The fine and minute bones in the ear are less dense and light, with a lot of “Akash” and “Vayu” in built in them. This light and airy bone composition allows these bones to vibrate physically and pass on auditory signals received. When vata is in good balance, we are able to hear very sookshma noises and have good hearing.

When vata is over used in the ear, the bones are tired from over vibrating and passing on a lot of auditory signals. So, when we are habituated to hearing loud discordant sounds, live in a high traffic noisy road, or speak a lot over the cell phone, the ear’s capacity to hear is diminished due to vata aggravation.

Over stimulation and use of ears aggravates vata and impairs hearing

In particular, the use of a device that uses Vata based signals like the cell phone, when over used on the ear, leads to a dramatic aggravation in vata dosha.

This is why Ayurveda suggests doing karna abhyanga (ear massage with medicated oils) regularly to balance vata dosha in the ear – taila and abhyanga are the best balancers of vata dosha and this principle is used in Karna abhyanga as well.

How a digital detox can help calm deranged Vata dosha

Social media has often been described as crack cocaine for the mind. The always-on nature of social media, constant use of images and sound, and the presence of so much new news excites the Vata carrying channels of the brain. Because of this excessive neural activity, a high amount of pitta is also  generated in the brain.

Social media is primed to aggravate vata dosha

Vata dosha by its nature is irregular and chaotic. Therefore when we over-use this Dosha, its chaotic and irregular effects extend to our daily routine and schedule. So we find that our sleep timings become irregular, we are unable to eat at the right time and the brain is so over stimulated that we are unable to go to sleep at our regular time.

Excitation of Vata Dosha almost always leads to the derangement and increase of chaos in our daily routine. Conversely, when our daily routine and schedule is extremely chaotic, we can detect that we are suffering from an imbalance of vata dosha. To rein in deranged Vata dosha, we follow the principle of opposites in Ayurveda. We focus on cutting excitement to the brain, calming down the brain through the use of specific herbs and using sweetness, and unctuousness to balance the dry, light and excitable nature of Vata dosha.

6 digital detox Strategies from Ayurveda:

1. Fixed Electronic cut off every day:

To rein in the chaotic nature of Vata dosha and to train the body to an atmosphere of lowered stimulation, we advise those who seem to have vata excitation an electronic cut off every day. This is easier to implement than a onetime social media cut off, and trains the body to look at the day in buckets – in which at least one bucket is used to calm the senses down.

A planned daily electronic cut off helps gradually reduce vata burden on the body

 

What do we mean by an electronic cut off?

  • Switching off the wi-fi router
  • Turning the phone into airplane mode
  • Shutting down the laptop
  • Not using an e-reader
  • Closing all screens including the television
  • No smartphone / radiating devices in the bedroom

Every time this is done, there is a stark difference in the quality of sleep – sleep is longer, deeper and more restful.

A practical way to implement an electronic cut off is to set a time limit after which you will not excite Vata dosha. There is no need to go aggressive on this time limit – you can start this as small as you like.

For example: You could set your electronic cut off to 8:30 pm every day. After 4 weeks of following this, you could work on moving the time back by 15 minutes. Steady practice of this limit and slowly increasing the timing is very useful in training your body and controlling vata dosha.

Remember: do not approach this with a heavy hand. Be gentle with yourself.

2. Daily Shavasana:

This is the yogic pose most of us love to hate. Sometimes we end up sleeping while attempting to do this pose. Other times we are fretting while doing this pose, mentally calculating how long it would take to go home, shower and hit the office.

Our yoga teachers have always stressed on the high importance of doing correct Shavasana as a part of a good yoga practice. In the case of digital addiction and vata excitation, Shavasana again is a crucial aid. The basic working of the Shavasana calms the mind and stills it by helping us focus entirely on the breath ,after cutting out any visual distractions by the simple act of closing our eyes.

The Shavasana is recommended to be done for at least 10 minutes or more after a 45-minute yoga practice. Similarly, after nearly 8 hours of continuous screen time and mental stimulation, a 15-minute Shavasana is essential to still the mind.

Daily Shavasana practice helps calm and still the mind

 

With this practice, the mental activity and strain drops, vata and pitta is calmed down and we are left ready for the next part of the day, i.e. dinner, time with family and alone time. This practice greatly aids in improving sleep quality.

Tip: Ensure Shavasana is done AFTER Sandhya time / twilight or during Sun rise and Sun set. If you are hungry after getting back from work, eat a light snack before doing a Shavasana.

3. Complete Sensory deprivation:

Ayurveda tells us that the smooth governing of the Indriyas (5 sense organs) is only done by Vata dosha. The skin, which is an important sense organ and Touch, is completely governed by Vata dosha.

Therefore an important ayurvedic practice to help balance Vata dosha is to cut down use of the 5 sense organs. This can be done by a daily sensory deprivation practice . So, after a day of working online with social media, etc, you can take a 15-minute sensory deprivation break in the evening, perhaps close to electronic cut off time.

During this time, dim the lights, remove any strong fragrances from the room, cut off all sound, and lie down and wear a blindfold / eye mask. Do not go to sleep – but lie in Shavasana (again). 15 minutes of this every day is very helpful for vata excitation.

This is strongly recommended for those in creative fields, jobs which involve a lot of social media consumption, those in Digital marketing, IT, etc. You will find that the brain is calmer, able to focus better and that your food cravings are lower after this practice.

Tip: If you do not have time to do a sequential shavasana followed by a sensory deprivation pose, you may combine both and do this as one practice . However doing these 2 practices sequentially helps till the mind much better.

The Ultimate Sensory deprivation treatment – Kutir Praveshika method

The ultimate sensory deprivation technique is followed in the Ayurvedic Kutir praveshika method, an ancient rejuvenation technique followed in Ayurveda, described in the Charaka Samhita. In this method, the patient enters a solitary hut, which has been constructed on Ayurvedic and Vastu principles. In this hunt, by the special construction methods used, light, air, sound, aroma and touch inputs are strictly controlled. The Kutir / hut is usually constructed in a solitary, well chosen place without any strong flow of wind.

Kutir praveshika is an ayurvedic long term sensory deprivation treatment used for rasayana therapy

The patient eats a strictly controlled diet, with properly chosen rasayanas and meets no one in this period of Kutir praveshika. This treatment starts from a period of one month and goes upto 1 year. It is called as a rejuvenation treatment that is almost like a “re birth”. The texts tells us that it is acutely life extending and rasayana (rejuvenating and youth giving) in its benefits. This is an ancient Ayurvedic procedure and we have only mentioned it here to illustrate the concept. Please do do try to perform this therapy as just one in millions may have the psychological strength, family resources and actual to even contemplate a Kutir Praveshika.

But the concept of sensory deprivation at a small level practised daily, like electronic cut-off times , described above, can greatly help balance the mind and body and improve our health.

4. Night Sky Gazing:

This is an Ayurvedic technique designed to balance over use of Sookshma (close / minute) vision and helps calm Pitta and Vata dosha down. We also suggest it for those who have mild depression, panic attacks and other signs of vata aggravation.

As we gaze into the night sky, we expand the vision from a minute field to a vast field. This relieves the tiredness in eye muscles. As there is a change in the light patterns between a phone screen and the night sky, Sharma(fatigue) in the minute channels is reduced.

night sky gazing calms and soothes the mind, balances vata and pitta

Plus, in this technique, we harness the infinite nature and vastness of Akash as we stare at the night sky. The acharyas tell us that this gives us a sense of belonging in the larger world, and we also gain perspective about the actual size of our problems. This ayurvedic method is consistently recommended for panic attacks, depression, digital addiction, and vision problems.  It can also greatly help stressed out mothers who need some time to themselves.

5. Pada abhyanga:

Pada abhyanga is a recommended ayurvedic dinacharya / ayurvedic practice that should be done everyday for good health. Charaka Samhita tells us that with regular pada abhyanga, coarseness, roughness and stiffness of the feet is reduced. Fatigue reduces as does numbness in the feet. Similarly pada sphutana (cracking of soles), is removed, and Acharyas tell us that feet are endowed with firmness, stability .

More germane to this post, the practice of Pada Abhyanga reduces imbalanced Pitta , and nourishes the eyes, improving vision. Therefore this is a drishti prasdaka practice (practices that improves drishti). Further the Acharyas observe that “Marut” or “Vata dosha” is brought under control. Interesting we are also told that due to regular Pada abhyanga, there is freer movement and flow in blood vessels without any constriction. This is why we advise Pada abhyanga for those who are highly stressed with elevated BP levels.

Pada abhyanga helps reduce vata and pitta build up, improves vision and deepens sleep

Because of the pada abhyanga’s strong balancing effect on imbalanced Pitta and Vata throughout the body, and particularly the head region, this is an excellent practice to counter the effects of digital addiction. Here is an earlier Krya post on the benefits of Pada abhyanga in greater detail. 

If you are in the grip of digital addiction, Pada abhyanga should be done every night for 3 weeks – this gives a very quick and deep relief from vata aggravation. For extreme vata aggravation we recommend using the Krya Intense Abhyanga oil as it is formulated with higher degree of vata balancing herbs.

6. Hair Oiling

When digital addiction is leaving you sleepless with vata aggravated sleep (light and poor sleep quality), night head oiling is recommended. It is best done just before sunset so the oil can slowly work on calming vata over 2 – 3 hours until you go to sleep.

Head oiling helps calm down the brain and strongly reduces pitta + vata buildup

 

Any good ayurvedic oil that helps calm Pitta and Vata should be chosen. At Krya all of our hair oils (except the Intense and Lice hair oil) can be used for Pitta and Vata calming effects. But for extreme Vata aggravation, we recommend using Krya Harmony hair oil (best choice) or as a second alternative,  the Krya Conditioning hair oil. These 2 oils are formulated as vata + pitta balancers, especially Harmony hair oil. We use a large set of brain calming and rejuvenate herbs like Brahmi, Jatamansi, Guduchi, deodar, etc. If you have a combination of Pitta and Vata related stress, then combine the Krya Harmony hair oil with either Krya Classic or Krya Classic Plus hair oil for best effect.

If using Krya Harmony hair oil for strong digital addiction and vata aggravation, please warm the hair oil slightly. Use this warm oil to massage the head and scalp well, preferably around Sunset or within the first hour of Sunset. If this timing is unsuitable, the head can be massaged 1 – 1.5 hours after dinner, atleast 30 minutes before sleeping. In the second case, after oil massage, as a precaution to avoid Kapha aggravation, please use Rasanadi choornam.

The consistent use of this hair oil has a brahmanya (nourishing) effect to the brain. The herbs calm down stress, and balance imbalanced vata and pitta dosha – obviously this works best when you follow all the other strategies described above in conjunction with hair oiling.

To sum up the Digital Detox

In this piece, we discussed the new malaise of social media and Digital Addiction. We examined this problem through the lens of Ayurveda and understood how a digital detox can help calm down aggravated vata and pitta dosha in the body.

Therefore, we looked at 6 Ayurvedic strategies that to craft a digital detox progeam to balance imbalanced Vata and Pitta dosha in the brain. These are:

  1. Electronic cut off
  2. Shavasana
  3. Sensory deprivation practice
  4. Night Sky gazing
  5. Pada Abhyanga
  6. Hair Oiling

In our work at Krya, we have observed the deep effects of following all of these Ayurvedic practices to calm down unbalanced Vata dosha in the case of digital addiction, high stress, lifestyle change or even temporary stress / grief. These practices come straight from the Ayurvedic texts and have been recommended by our acharyas after a deep study of the doshas and how each one of them affects both the mind and the body. Ahara can also be a key strategy in overcoming dosha aggravation. Snigdha rasayanas like Go Ksheera (Indigenous Cow’s Milk) is an excellent aid for vata aggravation, which we have talked about in earlier blog posts.

This is a part of Krya’s continuing series on Ayurveda. We write this series to educate, inspire and empower you to adopt these seemingly simple, yet astoundingly well though through and deep Ayurvedic practices to regain your health and well being.

If you have any queries on this post or about any of our products, please call us (0-75500-89090) or email us.

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The Importance of Ayurvedic Ritucharya for good health

The importance of ayurvedic Ritucharya

Ritucharya (seasonal guidelines for living) and Dinacharya (daily living guidelines) are two cornerstones of ayurvedic health. The Ayurvedic acharyas practiced the concept of “preventive health care” . This means that a great deal of work is given to the end user to practice and follow to ensure that the body remains in a state of balance.

Ritucharya is an important cornerstone of ayurvedic healthcare

 

At Krya, we put a strong emphasis on educating our consumers on the health guidelines prescribed by the acharyas for both Dinacharya and Ritucharya. We and our customers have seen appreciable benefits occurring, the more these guidelines are practiced and implemented in the family. Many lifestyle disorders can be controlled with sincere implementation of Dinacharya and Ritucharya guidelines. 

We have been regularly putting up Ritucharya (seasonal regimen) for various seasons from Hemanta / Shishira last year. We have so far progressed through Hemanta, Shishira, Vasanta, and are now in Greeshma (summer). The next season will be Varsha (Monsoon).

Why is Ayurvedic Ritucharya so important? Why does following seasonal guidelines help improve our health and sense of well being?

Adana Kala vs Visarga Kala: An Ayurvedic concept:

Depending upon the movement of the Sun, the Ayurvedic Acharyas have divided the year into 2 parts of 6 months each. Each of these 6 month periods have 3 seasons of 2 months each. Hence we experience 6 seasons according to Ayurevda: each lasting 2 months. 3 seasons fall in Adana Kala and 3 seasons fall into Visarga Kala.

Shishira (late Winter), Vasantha (Spring) and Greeshma (Summer) are the 3 seasons that fall in the Uttarayana period, when the Sun is seen to move in a Northern direction. The Acharyas term this period, “Adana kala” .

Adana Kala in Ayurveda:

Adana kala means “time phase / period” of “extraction / lessening”. During this phase, the sun travels towards the North of the equator. Henec the direction of the sun lends its name to the phrase “Uttarayana” or northern path of the Sun.  As its heat becomes intense and piercing, it starts to evaporate the moisture of the earth and the organisms on earth. Therefore everything has  less moisture content and the air is drier. All these changes affect the health and strength of all living organisms – so Adana kala is considered a period when “strength is gradually decreased or taken away”.

Greeshma (Summer) is the last season in Adana Kala. Hence in Greeshma, our strength is at our most depleted as we have gone through 3 seasons of decreasing body strength in this period, starting from late winter (Shishira), through Vasanta (spring) and finally Greeshma (summer).

Adana Kala - 6 months of reducing strength due to sun's movement

 

Visarga Kala in Ayurveda

During Visarga kala , the Sun moves in a direction south of the equator (hence away from us living in India). This direction of the Sun is called Dakshinayana. As the Sun moves away from us, the Moon assumes greater importance in our life. The Moon’s saumeya / gentle properties weaken the agneya (fiery) properties of the sun. The coolness of clouds, strong winds and cold rains further cool the Earth which has been fiery until Greeshma ritu (summer).

 

Hence , unlike Adana Kala , all organisms gain strength gradually in Visarga Kala. This strength gaining period starts in Varsha Ritu (Monsoon) which is the first season in Visarga Kala. This strength gradually builds up until it reaches its peak in Hemanta Season (early Winter).

 

Both for conception and child birth Visarga Kala is considered ideal in Ayurveda. Children born in peak Visarga Kala, i.e in Hemanta Ritu are considered to naturally have greater strength and ojas. Similarly, chances of conception and good development of pregnancy when baby is conceived at this time is also said to be very good in Ayurveda. Of course this does not mean that all our efforts must be skewed towards this time. This simply illustrates how much season and direction of the sun can make a difference to our strength and well being.

 

Visarga Kala - period of increasing strength as Moon's qualities assume importance

 

The natural variation of Doshas in each season & the importance of Ritucharya

Just like the influence of the Sun , Moon , Clouds, Air and Space cause the seasons and affect all organisms externally, internally our bodies are also influenced by the change in seasons. Our Doshas do not remain still and in the same volume within our body throughout the year. They respond to external inputs like age, lifestage, stress levels, humidity, geography, day part, and most importantly to season.

Doshas naturally change in volume in response to extrenal factors like life-stage, season, geography, etc

 

Every season sees large variations in the way the Pancha Mahabuthas behave . For example, in Greeshma Ritu, there is a massive increase in the intensity of the sun’s rays due to the double combination of Adana Kala + the season itself. This piercing sun intensity dries up the atmosphere and earth itself ,depositing heat in every part of the world, including our bodies.

In Greeshma Ritu the intensity of the sun has a drying effect on us and the earth

 

To cool and balance this naturally increased Pitta dosha energy, Ritucharya rules state that we should eat cool, watery , light ahara. This ahara is chosen as digestion is weakened due to excess Agni in the atmosphere. The body is unable to digest heavy, oily foods.

The dryness in the air and the body in Greeshma Ritu due to high , piercing Sun energy further aggravates in Varsha where the atmosphere is cold and windy.

So Vata dosha naturally aggravates in Varsha (monsoon) Ritu. This is also augmented by the wetness and coldness in the body due to the depleted Agni levels, which may have otherwise kept Vata levels in check.

Ritucharya importance: In Varsha Ritu the increased vata dosha from Summer aggravated due to cold wind and rain

 

These specific examples are given for us to understand that dosha vitiation is both NORMAL and NATURAL in each season.

To cope with this natural movement in Doshas, the acharyas have suggested Ritucharya – seasonal guidelines for living. When these Ritucharya rules are followed, they help keep the dosha aggravation in check. The Dosha imbalance is not allowed to peak, and it subsides normally and naturally with a change in season.

Dinacharya and Ritucharya guidelines help cope with dynamic dosha changes

 

To reiterate: If we follow the Ritu sanctioned diet + Dinacharya practices, this improves strength and immunity and ability to absorb and metabolise nutrients better. In this strong state, we can cope with seasonal dosha variations without it getting too imbalanced. As we continue to follow daily and seasonal living guidelines, the aggravated dosha naturally comes to balance in the next season. This normal process of aggravated dosha going into a state of balance is called  prashamana stage.

Natural Process of Dosha Vitiation – Ritucharya

Natural process of dosha aggravation and balance

 

In the normal process, when we take care to follow Ahara, dinacharya and Ritucharya guidelines, any natural Dosha aggravation in a particular season is part of a closed loop. It gets resolved naturally within a few months.

Dosha vitiation leading to Disease : when Ritucharya is NOT followed

If the body is weak, immunity is low and Dinacharya and Ritucharya practices are not followed, the normal stage of Sanchaya (gradual accumulation of dosha in season 1), followed by Prakopa (normal aggravation of dosha in season 2) and Prashamana (dosha is pacified normally in season 3) is not followed.

Instead of Prashamana (dosha is normally pacified in season 3), the Dosha instead undergoes Prasara stage (spreading stage) in Season 3. Here the aggravated Dosha grows in volume in season 2, as it  has not been calmed by adopting Ritucharya measures. In this aggravated stage, it further spreads, until it spills out of its normal seat and spreads to other parts of the body.

Once it begins to spread, if it is still not found and calmed down, it goes into Sthana samshraya stage – where it spreads and attacks a weak organ / tissue. In this Sthana samshrya stage, disease manifestation begins, but is as yet not visible outside.

After Sthana Samshraya stage comes the Vyaktha stage. In the Vykatha stage, the aggravated spreading Dosha which has gone into weak tissue/organ manifested and visible signs appear which are noticed by the patient.

If not treated even at this stage,  Disease proceeds to Bheda stage where it is difficult to treat / incurable.

Dosha vitiation leading to disease when Ritucharya and Dinacharya is not followed

 

When we read this, we can understand that no symptom of dis-ease is instant / starts overnight. It takes atleast 4-6 months for dosha imbalance to reach the spreading stage. If we then continue to ignore Ritucharya, Dinacharya and Ahara Niyama guidelines, we cannott blame anyone else for our symptoms!

Sadly, most of us recognize Disease symptoms only in Stage 5 – Vyakta stage when symptoms start to manifest. On the other hand, if we had simply understood the importance of Ritucharya and Dinacharya, and followed the Ahara guidelines, we could have controlled dosha aggravation right in Stage 2 itself.

To sum up: the importance of Ritucharya

Ritucharya is a powerful, health giving ayurvedic tool that helps us live according to the changes in season and make internal adjustments so that our doshas are in a state of balance. Ayurvedic health guidelines are extremely powerful and potent. The importance of following Ritucharya is that we are able to stop disease even before it starts.

With health care costs on the rise, high stress lives and weakening immunity, Ritucharya and Dinacharya assume even greater importance to us. It helps us take charge of our health and our families health and gives us simple yet powerful tools to help our body.

This is a part of Krya’s continuing series on ayurvedic education where we share authentic , holistic and life changing information on health, harmony and well being from the ayurvedic texts. If you have any questions on this or any of our products, please email us or call/WhatsApp us – (0)75500-89090.

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The Authoritative Guide to Kumkumadi tailam by Krya – decoding its formulation, properties & benefits

Kumkumadi tailam - demystifying

We are often asked for our opinion of Kumkumadi tailam by our customers. We are asked to explain its benefits. Many also ask us if it is indeed the gold ayurvedic standard in beauty / skin oils as it is made out to be in popular media. Many also complain that it did not work well for them, and they would like to know why it did not work for them.  Of course we are then asked if Krya makes a kumkumadi tailam – when we answer that we do not, we are requested to immediately make one .

Confused about the benefits of Kumkumadi tailam and wondering if you should buy it?

 

This blog post has been written to answer the questions asked commonly by Krya’s customers – we seek to demystify and explain the big picture behind Kumkumadi tailam. This post will explain the history behind this formulation, the dravyas that go into it, who it suits, what conditions it is not suitable for. It will end with a brief piece on 2 of the new Krya facial oil serums which are excellent options to consider when you seek an ayurvedic facial oil / ayurvedic facial serum.

What is Kumkumadi Tailam? Who formulated it and for what condition  ?

 Kumkumadi tailam is an ancient, classical ayurvedic skin oil formulation which is now gaining popularity among many companies which promote luxurious Ayurveda. This formulation is being marketed as an ultimate, all purpose Ayurvedic skin oil to solve ALL skin problems. Costs of this product are also going through the roof, with some companies selling 12 ml for close to Rs.2500 (around 2 lakh rupees per litre!)

Kumkumadi tailam has quickly been appropriated by the Luxury retail segment

 

This post aims to cut through this hype and educate about the real benefits behind Kumkumadi tailam and who should be using it. Read on.

In classical Ayurveda, many hoary formulations exist which according to Indic tradition, have been formulated by the Gods and the Devas. The Ashwini Kumaras are Devas / Divine beings who are the royal Physicians of all Devas. In Ayurveda, they are the twin Vedic gods of Medicine and are the Sons of Surya the Sun God and his wife Sarayu, the Cloud Goddess.

Nasatya Deva is the older of the Ashwini Kumara twins and is considered the Deity of Health. Together with his younger twin Dasra, the Deity of Medicine, they are said to appear in the sky in a golden Chariot at times of need, bringing divine oushadies (herbs) and formulations to help mankind.

Kumkumadi tailam is a divine formulation created by the Ashwini Kumaras

 

The Divine Ashwini Kumaras have created many healing formulations and medical techniques over time (as is recorded in the Puranas). One such medicinal formulation was created for Rishi Chyawan by the Aswini Kumaras which still exists today as Chawanprash, the immunity boosting avaleghya (ayurvedic herbal preserve).

The Aswini Kumaras do not just create herbal medicines. In the case of the Vedic Warrior Princess Vishpala, a legendary Rig Vedic queen of India, the Ashwini Kumars created the first prosthetic limb. After losing her leg in battle with King Khela, the Aswini Kumaras appeared on the eve of the battle to Princess Vishpala and fitted her with an iron leg – after which she went on to emerge victor in the battle.

The first recorded mention of a prosthetic limb is in the Rig Veda - created by the Ashwini Kumaras

 

Unfortunately , unlike the case of Chawanprash or the Iron Leg, we do not know enough about the actual history behind why the Ashwini Kumaras formulated Kumkumadi tailam, and what they originally intended for .

So we have to reverse engineer its origin story by taking you on a journey discovering its formulation.

 What  goes into the original Kumkumadi tailam formulation? What is the overall effect of this formulation

The formula for original Kumkumadi tailam is found in 2 texts: the Ashtanga Hridayam and Bhaisajya Ratnavalli.

Kumkumadi tailam is a classical ayurvedic formulation

 

It contains a single Kashaya(ayurvedic decoction) made from the following ingredients:

  • Kesara (saffron)
  • Chandana
  • Laksha
  • Manjishta
  • Yastimadhu
  • Daruharidra
  • Vetiver
  • Padmaka
  • Nilotpala
  • 2 banyans – Vata & Plaksha
  • Kamala Kesara (lotus stamen)
  • Dashamoola (10 ayurvedic roots)
  • Bilwa
  • Agnimantha
  • Shyonaka
  • Gambhari
  • Patala
  • Shalaprini
  • Prishnaparni
  • Gokshura
  • Brihati
  • Kantankatri

 

This Kashayam is reduced to ¼ its original volume. It is then boiled along with Tila taila (sesame oil), Ajaksheera (goat’s milk) and the following herbs present as Kalpa form (wet herbal paste):

Kumkumadi tailam is made in classical tila paka method

 

The Kalpa (wet ayurvedic herbal paste) contains:

  • Manjishta
  • Madhuka
  • Laksha
  • Patranga
  • Yashtimadhu

Basic concepts of ayurvedic taila formulation:

To understand the effect of the formula, we must try and work out the effect of the Kashayam separately and the Kalpa. We must also analyze the properties of the base oil, i.e Tila Taila and the special dravya that goes into this formulation, Ajaksheera.

When preparing a Taila(oil) as opposed to a Ghrita (ghee), we are trying to temper / adjust the properties of the taila using the herbs that we add as Kashaya and kalpa.

Analysis of base oil in Kumkumadi Tailam – Sesame Oil

The choice of Taila used in the Kumkumadi tailam formulation is Tila taila (Sesame oil).

Sesame oil is sharp, hot and penetrative in nature

Ashtanga Hridayam Samhita tells us that Tila taila (sesame oil) is teekshna (sharp in action), vyavayi (spreads / penetrates quickly), is sookshma (subtle) in its action, and ushna veerya warming. Acharya Vagbhatta says that if treated with the right herbs, sesame is capable of curing any disease.

Properties of the herbs in the Kashaya:

In the original formulation, each herb is taken in equal quantity. So we can conclude each herb is equally important and the synergistic action of each of these herbs is what we are looking for in the Kashayam.

Properties of the herbs used in the Kashaya formulation of Kumkumadi tailam:

  • Kumkuma (Saffron) – potent herb – warming, kantivardhaka, when taken internally pacifies rakta-pitta, vata
  • Chandana (Sandal wood) – potent pitta pacifying herb – helps in pitta aggravation disorder with rakta-pitta disorder like diarrhea with blood, bleeding piles, etc. Is cold and bitter and is a good astringent. Cleanses skin, reduces inflammation
  • Laksha (Lac insect resin) – Wound healing, fracture healing – famously used in formulae for post partum women and severe vata aggravation
  • Manjishta – Blood purifier, improves micro circulation. Indicated for Kushta roga (skin disease), in bleeding inflammatory conditions, and in wound healing, healing fracture and improving complexion
  • Yastimadhu (Indian liquorice) – Helps in Pitta roga like piles, anemia, in vata roga like urine retention, vata rakta, and in wound healing, reducing inflammation
  • Daruharidra (Tree turmeric)– Checks Pitta aggravation conditions like jaundice, helps in Kushta roga (skin disease), helps in Pitta aggravation conditions like vaginal discharge, diabetes, etc. Also an excellent wound healer
  • Vetiver – helps in hemorrhage and bleeding disorder, reduce Pitta aggravated conditions like fever, boils, etc. Kanti vardhaka
  • Padmaka (Indian lotus) – Helps in bleeding disorder, hiccoughs, asthma, etc. Also a kantivardhaka
  • Nilotpala (Indian Water Lily) – Pitta and Kapha balancing, Wound healing, helps in Rakta pitta disorders
  • 2 Healing Indian banyans – Vata & Plaksha – Plaksha helps in bleeding disorders, inflammations, and aids in wound healing
  • Kamala Kesara (lotus stamen) – checks excessive hemorrhage and bleeding, checks bleeding piles, dysentery and promotes strength and virility when taken internally
  • Dashamoola (10 medicinal roots) – excellent at curing vata aggravation conditions like lower back pain, hip pain, slipped disc, etc. Reduces pain + inflammation.
  • Bilwa (Bael ) – Works to balance conditions of aggravated Pitta like Diarrhoea, piles, jaundice, etc. Reduces inflammation. Is pitta+kapha balancing.
  • Agnimantha – medicinal herb useful in diabetes, obesity, piles, inflammations, edema and pitta aggravated conditions like utricaria and vyanga.
  • Shyonaka – useful in diarrhea, ascites, ENT disorders,
  • Gambhari – one of the dashamoola roots; reduces inflammation, is wound healing and nourishing
  • Patala – helps treat burns, wounds and reduces blisters, burning sensation, etc
  • Shalaparni – strong vata balancing drug effective in cardiac pain, hemi crania, and checks pitta based disorders like diarrhea
  • Prishnaparni – helps bleeding disorders like diarrhea with blood, bleeding piles, etc. Also helps in wound healing, setting fractures, etc
  • Gokshura – excellent herb to dissolve urinary calculi; also helps in bleeding disorders, dysuria, and is a general rasayana drug
  • Brihati -Helpful as an internal drug in piles, fever, cough, anorexia, etc.
  • Kantankatri – Helpful again in pitta based inflammatory conditions like Piles, fever, thirst, etc. Also helpful in cough, asthma and such conditions.

By now, you must have noticed a clear pattern. Most of the herbs chosen in the Kashaya are pitta balancing, improve rakta-pitta conditions and wound healing with a pronounced inflammation reducing effect. Therefore the overall effect of this Kashaya appears to be:

  • Highly wound healing
  • Reducing inflammations
  • Helps solve Kushta roga (small skin disorders)
  • Checks the effects of Rakta & Pitta based disorders like excessive bleeding, burning sensation, rashes, etc

Properties of Kalpa used in original Kumkumadi tailam:

This kalpa has 5 ingredients in it. In an ayurvedic tailam, we repeat selct ingredients from the Kashaya in the Kalpa to extract both water and oil soluble properties of the herb and strengthen its dosage and action in the formula.

Kalpa ingredients:

  • Manjishta – helps heal wounds, reduces inflammation, improves micro circulation
  • Madhuka – helps balance aggravated Pitta in conditions like bleeding disorder, thirst, and reduces pitta based inflammations, heals fractures, etc
  • Laksha – helps wound heal, reduce inflammations, heals fractures
  • Patranga – Kanti vardhaka, Pitta balancing, reduces inflammations, helps in Pitta conditions like diarrhea
  • Yashtimadhu – Reduces pitta + vata – soothes and heals skin, improves skin texture, reduces inflammation

Kalpa used in Kumkumadi tailam also has pitta balancing, wound healing and inflammation reducing effect

 

Again, this Kalpa, like the Kashaya is also powerfully wound healing. By the higher number of complexion improving Kanti vardhaka agents here, we can say that this Kalpa is designed to be slightly astringent, anti inflammatory, healing and Pitta balancing . It is slightly more rasayana in action compared to Kashaya as there is a use of sweet herbs like Madhuka, and Yastimadhu.

Aja Ksheera (Goat’s milk) properties:

 Acharya Vagbhatta says that Aja Ksheera is laghu (light), with katu (pungent) and tikta (bitter) taste. It helps cure pitta and rakta pitta disorders like jwara (fever), diarrhea, asthma and emaciation.

Aja Ksheera (Goats Milk) is light, pungent, bitter and cleansing and pitta balancing

 

Aja Ksheera (goat’s milk) is highly medicinal, light , cleansing and astringent in Ayurveda. Hence it is a favourite choice in formulations where we are trying to cleanse, dry up or detoxify something. An example is Anutaila which is used as nasya (oil dropped into nostrils) to help dry up aggravates sinuses, and kapha in the nose, throat and chest area.

This is a light ,healing, bulk reducing and astringent dravya and is not not nourishing or rasayana (anti aging).

 What is the overall effect of Kumkumadi tailam?

To re-iterate, there is no record of the origin story of Kumkumadi tailam and what purpose it was formulated for. So the analysis of the formulation will help us divine the purpose behind this divine formulation.

From the analysis of the Taila, Kashaya, Kalpa and Ksheera used, this formulation appears to have skin healing and balancing as a primary goal. It does not appear to be nourishing or rasyana (anti aging) in its basic nature. It seems to be a product designed to detoxify, cleanse, reduce inflammation and heal wounds and treat skin diseases.

Overall effect of Kumkumadi tailam is to heal skin, reduce pitta and treat pitta related aggravation and inflammation

 

This might be a good formulation for those who have pitta-kapha aggravation in skin like cystic acne, where the purpose is to balance the Pitta, shrink the inflammation and provide astringency and repair to skin. It should help in other Rakta-Pitta skin disorders as well. However, as this is a pure taila formulation, it must be used very carefully to avoid increasing the oiliness and therefore aggravating the skin condition.

This formulation does not seem  to be designed for anti aging, skin nourishment, anti wrinkle, moisturizing effects or to improve skin texture . But as it works on Pitta balance and Rakta pitta disorder, it can work on blemishes, and correct complexion disorders. Although, being a powerful ayurvedic oil, it will still work to some extent as a moisturizer and rasayana , it does not appear to be focused on these aspects.

Obviously there is no comparison between Kumkumadi tailam and ANY synthetic product. It will beat all synthetic products hollow.

Is Kumkumadi tailam good for skin?

Kumkumadi tailam is certainly good for skin and is a good skin healing formulation. As discussed above, the combination of herbs used in the Kashaya (ayurvedic decoction), kalpa (wet herb paste) and the choice of dravya (goats milk) in combination with Tila tailam (sesame oil) makes a very powerful, healing formulation.

However, we want to stress that Kumkumadi tailam is not the ONLY ayurvedic skin oil out there which is good for skin. Many other classical ayurvedic formulae also exist that are good for skin and have different properties like Nalapamaradi tailam, Lakshadi tailam, Durvadi tailam etc, which are formulated for different skin concerns.

Kumkumadi tailam appears to be formulated primarily for Pitta aggravation where wound healing and inflammation reduction is required .

Does Kumkumadi tailam suit all kinds of skin? Does it suit oily skin?

Based on the above analysis, We believe that Kumkumadi tailam is better used as a wound healing and repairing ayurvedic skin oil for Pitta and Rakta-Pitta based skin disorders..

Some potential applications of Kumkumadi tailam could be:

  • Psoriasis / Eczema with Pitta origin / Pitta dominance
  • Cystic acne
  • Wound healing
  • Scar tissue
  • Old deep acne based pitting

From this analysis, it will be clear that Kumkumadi tailam is not a general purpose skin oil that is suitable for all skin types.

How to use Kumkumadi tailam correctly if it suits me

Kumkumadi tailam is a formulation made completely in sesame oil with Kashayams and no swarasas(fresh juices). The formulation does use Aja Ksheera to lighten it slightly. But the overall formulation is still quite potent and concentrated.

So it is important to train your skin to this formula by getting it slowly  accustomed to the formula.

First ascertain if the product suits you and does not trigger any allergic reaction by doing a patch test.

Patch test is essential to understand if the formula and brand suits your skin

Once the patch test is clear, we suggest starting by first using the product before you use a face wash. Apply it as a very light coating on skin and wash after 15-20 minutes using a good quality, pure, herbal face wash powder. As the Kumkumadi tailam formulation is designed for acne prone skin, or skin with old acne marks and blemishes, it can be used before applying Krya Classic Face wash or Krya Anti acne Face wash.  If the product feels slightly heavy on skin, apply less than recommended.

Use the product this way for atleast 3 weeks. This allows skin to get used to this formula.

After this, try leave-on night application. Use 2 – 3 drops of the product on damp, well cleansed skin at night. Ensure you use a good quality, mild , pure herbal face wash powder for cleansing skin before applying the Kumkumadi tailam.  Apply lightly and massage using upward strokes onto skin. Allow the formula to air dry for 15 – 20 minutes before going to sleep.

Observe the skin the next morning – if there are breakouts or white heads appearing, then reduce the quantity used slightly.

Please choose a reputed brand that makes the correct Kumkumadi tailam formulation. The original formula for Kumkumadi tailam is given above in this blog post. By law, any company making a product called “Kumkumadi tailam” must follow this same formula if they are using this name. Check the formula of the brand you plan to use to see if they too follow these ingredients.

Choose your brand of Kumkumadi tailam very carefully

For example: A commonly accepted substitute for Saffron (Kumkuma) is “Naga kesara” – “Mesua ferrens” This substitute is done to bring down the cost of the formulation. So please check what your product contains.

Again, I have stressed this point: Kumkumadi tailam is one of the hundreds of brilliant formulations available in Ayurveda. Do not have Kumkumadi tailam FOMO! It is not the only skin oil available and not an all purpose panacea.

What do I cleanse skin with after using Kumkumadi tailam?

The choice of what to cleanse skin after using a potent, healing product like Kumkumadi tailam is extremely important. The right face wash can assist and support the healing work of the Kumkumadi tailam and further balance skin’s sebum levels, provide the right astringency, and help further heal and reduce inflammation.

For serious acne issues and cystic acne, we suggest combining Kumkumadi tailam with the Krya Anti acne Face wash and the Krya Anti acne Face mask.

Combining Krya Anti acne face products with Kumkumadi tailam:

Use the Krya Anti acne face wash twice a day, morning and at night before sleeping, to prepare skin for Kumkumadi tailam.

Use the Face Lepa (mask) once / twice a week for deeper cleansing . Apply the Lepa thick (thickness of 1/2 the width of your thumb ) and rinse out when it begins to dry. Do not allow the Lepa to dry completely on skin. Seal off with One drop of Kumkumadi tailam applied on damp, clean skin. You can read more about how to use Ayurvedic Mukha (face) Lepas correctly here. 

Combining Krya Classic face products with Kumkumadi tailam:

For healing Pitta aggravation, oily skin and healing old scar tissue and blemishes, we suggest using Krya Classic Face wash and Krya Classic Face Mask.

Choose this range only if acne is well under control, and your problem is to simply balance sebum levels and lighten scars and blemishes.

Use the Krya Classic face wash twice a day (morning and at night before sleeping), to prepare skin for Kumkumadi tailam.

Use the Face Lepa (mask) once / twice a week for deeper cleansing . Apply the Lepa thick (thickness of 1/2 the width of your thumb ) and rinse out when it begins to dry. Do not allow the Lepa to dry completely on skin. Seal off with One drop of Kumkumadi tailam applied on damp, clean skin.

Kumkumadi tailam for baby: is it suitable for use

Kumkumadi tailam is a potent, concentrated and pitta balancing and wound healing formulation. Before applying this product, or any product for baby, it is better to do a patch test to rule out any allergies / rashes / irritation from this product.

Please ensure you select a good brand with good quality ingredients – some brands of Kumkumadi tailam can be too ushna and can trigger skin allergies in baby’s skin.

Please think carefully before adding Kumkumadi tailam for baby massage. It may not suit tender skin

If Kumkumadi tailam is found suitable for your baby, it can be mixed in a very small dose to the regular baby massage oil. The maximum dosage attempted should be 8 – 9% of the overall mixture.

For example, if you want to mix Kumkumadi tailam to the Krya traditional Baby massage oil or  Nalapamaradi tailam, you can use 20 ml of Kumkumadi tailam to 200 ml of Krya traditional baby massage oil / Nalapamaradi tailam.

It is critical to cleanse baby’s skin well after using an ayurvedic massage oil / combination of ayurvedic massage oils. Some parents think that simply wiping off the oil with a hot towel is sufficient as baby’s skin is very tender and especially if they live in cold countries.

Baby’s skin is very tender, but ayurvedic oils are very thick, penetrative and potent: unless they are cleansed properly from baby’s skin, there is a tendency for the remaining oil to cool rapidly and then aggravate Kapha. Please ensure you use a pure herbal bath powder to cleanse baby’s skin. You can also use a home made combination of herbal bath powder – remember to avoid chemical filled synthetic soap.

Ensure baby's skin is cleansed well after oil application

With baby’s skin, it is best to stick to tried and tested traditional baby massage oils. Kumkumadi tailam does not appear to have been formulated for baby massage purpose, so we suggest avoiding this product for baby.

How should I choose a facial oil / serum from Ayurveda?

Ayurveda tells us that formulations should be chosen based our prakriti (inherent dosha combination) OR vikruthi (problems caused by dosha aggravation). For many of us, it takes time to understand our inherent prakriti as we are thrown off by our current state of imbalance.

So starting from our problem areas / skin concerns / vikruthi is a good start if you do not know your actual prakriti.

Once you have listed your skin concerns, you can list down what your skin needs are from your facial oil.

If your skin needs moisturization, and currently the skin texture is rough and the appearance is dull, you could be suffering from vata aggravation. Hence you should look for a facial oil that gives your skin a rasayana effect , which is sookshma (subtle) in its action, penetrates skin well and nourishes it deeply.

If skin is rough and dry, it may need a nourishing and rasayana formulation

 

If your skin needs balance, often erupts, is clogged with visible open pores, you may need a product that evenly balances sebum, has a cleansing and astringent effect on skin while supplying light moisturization. So you should look for a pitta friendly product that is not very heavy / dense and is made with a lot of cooling, pitta balancing dravyas, which offers light moisturization.

If skin is sensitive, erupts easily and has unbalanced oil production, choose a light balancing oil

 

With all genuine ayurvedic skin moisturization products, less is more. You would need only 1 – 3 drops of the product, applied correctly to begin working on the skin. Do not apply liberally or with a heavy hand – this is not an abhyanga oil!

2 facial serums available from Krya

Krya offers a good range of moisturizing oils and serums which are made using a strictly ayurvedic formula and manufacturing technique. Our facial oils and serums are made using ONLY whole herbs where the nutrients are extracted using the ayurvedic distillation process.

Krya's skin oils and facial serums made using whole herbs and cold pressed oils

Krya does not use essential oils or solvent extracted nut and seed oils to make our facial serums. We believe that many essential oils are extremely potent and cannot be used except under medical supervision. We are also wary of the chemical contamination of nut and seed and essential oils that are extracted using procedures like solvent extraction.

Hence, we stick to the tried and tested Ayurvedic principles of manufacturing and formulation where we use well researched, properly studied herbs and cold pressed oils in combinations approved by the acharyas.

The Krya Vyoma Serum:

Krya Vyoma ayurvedic oil serum is a serum formulated to go with the Krya After Sun range. This ayurvedic facial serum is designed to hydrate Pitta aggravated skin (high sun exposure, pitta dominant prakriti, tanning beds). It helps combat skin patchiness, hyper pigmentation, melasma, blemishes, freckles and textural changes due to frequent sun exposure OR sun exposure on an already aggravated Pitta individual.

As Vyoma facial serum has been designed to balance aggravated Pitta, it has been formulated with a high number of pitta cooling, astringent and balancing kashayas and dravyas. The serum contains 25+ organic fruits, vegetables and forest collected ayurvedic herbs including Beetroot, Durva, Udumbura, Ashwathha, Ashoka, Vata, Bala, Manjishta, etc.

Krya Vyoma serum designed for Pitta aggravated skin with hyper pigmentation, tanning

The herbs have been chosen for their complexion evening, skin nourishing and hydrating property. The oil is designed to balance aggravated Pitta which is the reason behind these textural changes post excessive sun exposure.

Pitta prakriti individuals have a greater sensitivity towards sun exposure – hence even if they are in the sun for short periods, when Pitta is aggravated they burn faster and skin changes are much more rapid.

The regular use of Krya Vyoma serum is recommended for those with pitta dominant or pitta aggravated skin type which has moderate to high sun exposure and has tanning, hyper pigmentation, melasma and blemishes primarily due to sun exposure.

The formula helps calm aggravated pitta, soothes and balances skin, evens out complexion and reduces pigmentation and blemishes in skin.

The Krya Dyuti Serum:

Krya Dyuti ayurvedic oil serum is designed for dry, dehydrated and mature skin that is vata dominant or vata aggravated . This vata aggravation can be due to inherent nature (vata dominant / vata vitiated) or lifestage (40 + and dry). This is a nourishing, skin repairing and rasayana (anti aging + nourishing) formulation.

The formulation is one of our most complex formulations: we use 43 different dravyas in this formulation including 9 cold pressed organic plant oils. The oils used include Moringa seed oil, Almond oil, Apricot Oil and the intensely healing and re-generating Chalmoogra seed oil. A whopping 34 herbs go into this product as Kashaya (decocotion), kalpa (wet herb paste) and swarasa (freshly squeezed herb juice with minimal water).

Krya Dyuti Serum designed for vata aggravated or aging skin to nourish with rasayana effect

These 3 forms of extraction are used in Ayurveda to extract both water based and oil based bio actives from the plants. When we create a serum using these extracts, the bio actives are more easily absorbed into the oils, transforming the nature and properties of the oil. The resultant oil / serum is very light, easily penetrates skin / scalp and is nutrient dense.

In Dyuti, we use organic Kumari (aloe vera ) swarasa . Kumari is an excellent anti-aging and rasayana dravya for skin. This is enhanced by twachya improving, rejuvenating ,madhura rasa herbs like Ela (elaichi), Draksha (organic raisin), Vatama paya (almond milk), Dadima (pomegranate), Yashtimadhu (Liquorice), Bala, Guduchi, Fennel, etc.

The internal code name of Dyuti is “jaraa nashini”. This name is taken again from the Namavalli of Thaayar, Goddess Lakshmi, who is called “nashini” (destroyer) of “Jaraa” (brittleness, decay and attrition) and Mara (death itself).

The whole focus in our “Jaraa nashini” serum or Dyuti serum is to intensely hydrate, support and replenish naturally dry / drying skin. The texture of the serum is therefore quite different from Vyoma.

This is an intensely rich and nourishing and extremely potent serum. Just 1 – 2 drops are more than sufficient per use. One drop if you are applying in the daytime and 2 drops at night. Dyuti works primarily on skin texture. So if your skin feels rough (rooksha / khara) and dry and looks dull, this is the product for you.

Krya Classic Skin Oil :

The Krya Classic Skin Oil (serum) is an excellent , well received formulation from Krya’s skin care range. This is formulated for pitta prakriti skin which is greasy, flushed looking, clogged and congested and uneven appearance due to pigmentation and oiliness.

Many of us believe that oily skin must be aggressively cleansed and further nourishment is not required. Ayurveda tells us that Oily, pitta prone skin must be treated very gently. When we are harsh on this kind of skin or cleanse very aggressively, the sebaceous glands get irritated / inflamed increasing the sebum secretion on skin.

The correct kind of balance nourishment is essential to soothe and heal Pitta aggravated skin. The dravyas (herbs) used must be cooling (and not freezing), soothe the skin, reduce the characteristic reddishness and sensitivity, discourage Pitta based skin eruptions and even out skin tone and complexion.

Based on all these factors, we have formulated the Krya Classic Skin Oil / serum. It can be used by people with normal – oily skin. People prone to cystic acne and high acne can also use this formulation, but with a little skin preparation, which we will highlight below.

Krya Classic skin oil / serum : for oily pitta prone skin

The Krya Classic Skin Oil is a 40 ingredient, whole herb and oil based ayurvedic formulation, crafted using th3 classical Ayurevdic Tila paka veedhi manufacturing method. In this we use a combination of Fresh swarasas (cold pressed juices), Kashayas (boiled decoctions from barks and roots and hard fruits), Kalpas (herbal pastes) which are all processed in “chakra taila” – cold pressed oil derived form organic seeds.

Swarasas in Krya Classic skin oil:

For balancing Pitta aggravation in skin, the Krya Classic skin oil uses a set of herbs with Madhura (Sweet), Tikta (bitter) and Kashaya (astringent) Rasas / taste. So in our set of swarasas (cold pressed juices),we use fresh organic Dadima (pomegranates), fresh organic Gajara (carrots), fresh organic Watermelon, fresh organic Cucumbers, Fresh Durva grass , Fresh Teak leaf, Fresh Nimba patra (neem leaf) and Tandulodaka.

We use Organic Carrot swarasa for its ability to harness “bhajraka pitta” – the pitta portion in skin responsible for warmth, lustre and tejas. Carrot carries the pitta energy of its nature into our oil , so it helps open up the srotas to allow the botanical nutrients to go in.

how to use kumkumadi tailam: the fresh swarasa that goes into krya classic skin oil

We use Organic Dadima / pomegranate for its ability to hydrate and nourish skin and balance vata in skin. Similarly we use Watermelon and Cucumber swarasa (both organic) to hydrate and nourish and cool excess pitta in skin. This helps balance the oily secretions in skin, and clarify the T zone .
We use Durva which we spoke about day before to further balance Pitta and improve the kanti / complexion. Teak leaf swarasa and Tandulodaka help reduce pigmentation and blemishes. Nimba swarasa again works on balancing excessive Pitta.

 

Kashayas in Krya Classic skin oil:

Along with these 8 wonderful swarasas, we use 2 beautiful Kashayas in our skin oil. Each Kashaya contains 7 Ayurvedic herbs. Together the herbs help by bringing in sweetness to nourish the skin (Mulethi, Sariva), they bring in astringency to balance Pitta’s oiliness (haritaki), they clear and remove toxins from skin (Khadira, udumbura), heal minor wounds (Kushta, Daruharidra), they help skin regenerate in a healthy manner (Guduchi), and they work on varnya (skin complexion) (Lodhra, Patranga, Vetivera), etc.

Kalpa in Krya Classic skin oil:

The Kalpa in our formulation contains 22 herbs. Some of these are repeated from the Kashaya formulation where we attempt to extract the actives in a medium of oil. Some of them are unique only to the Kalpa and usually consist of oil-high spices.

We use spices like organic Ela (cardamom), organic Clove , Organic Jatamansi, Organic Coriander and Organic Kala Jeera in the classic skin oil. All of these herbs are excellent at balancing Pitta and yet being able to harness Pitta’s unique gifts for skin: circulation, warmth, blood flow and lustre.

The Swarasas, Kashayas and Kalpas are processed together in low heat along with our base oils. The oil mixture is cooked for 6-8 hours on slow heat with continuous stirring, before it gets fully ready.

Krya classic skin oil - made in traditional tila paka veedhi method

Design of Krya Classic skin oil – what is it supposed to do

From a formulator’s perspective, we have designed the Classic skin oil to be a slightly dry, balanced nourisher for Pitta skin. Pitta / pitta aggravated skin does not need too much oiliness as it is already quite oily. But it is usually oily in patches, especially as skin ages and the skin gets very patchy nourishment. Also the root of this oiliness is the fire of Pitta so the skin is hot, warm and flushed and “erupts” with acne and bumps.
So the Krya Classic skin oil is designed to cool and balance Pitta, soothe the aggravated skin and offer even nourishment – hence skin is clear, even with good texture. At the same time we take care not to dampen Pitta too much -as we have explained Pitta is responsible for lustre, glow and good circulation in skin. So we ensure that this is not stripped / removed from skin.
User feedback:
Many users of Krya Classic Skin oil share this feedback with us:
  • Skin is balanced and hydrated
  • Pitta based skin burning, irritation is remarkably reduced
  • Oil sinks quickly into skin and absorbs well
  • Skin is even, does not appear flushed / patchy and has a healthy radiance
  • Acne scars and blemishes are slowly healed and are evened out
  • Open pores are less visible – skin appears smooth and even
  • Skin erupts and flares less as pitta is balanced

We have written in detail about 3 of Krya’s skin serums and oils which we believe are an excellent alternative to Kumkumadi tailam, if the classical Ayurvedic formulation is not suitable for your skin. In addition, we also carry the Krya Moisture plus skin oil which is an excellent nourishing and hydrating skin oil for dry skin and the Krya Sensitive Skin oil, which is a healing skin oil for eczema, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. If you would like help choosing one of Krya’s skin oils / serums, please call us (0-75500-89090) or write to us (goodies@krya.in).

 

To sum up : about Kumkumadi tailam

A part of our work at Krya is to educate everyone about the power and potential of Ayurveda. We would like to encourage people to adopt the powerful practices suggested in Ayurveda to improve one’s health.

There is a lot of misinformation out there today in the name of Ayurveda, Siddha and traditional medicine. Companies are exploiting people’s interest towards leading a chemical free life and are over promising benefits in the name of Ayurveda. We hope this post of ours on Kumkumadi tailam helped demystify this classical formulation for you and give you the information to make the right choice on whether kumkumadi tailam would benefit your skin or not.

If you have any queries on this or on one of our ayurvedic serums, please call / WhatsApp us (0-75500-89090) or write to us.