Creams and lotions ultimately dehydrate the skin because of the surfactants/emulsifiers that are used to keep the ingredients (oil and water) from separating. There are very few creams and lotions that are edible, but as the public become more educated, more edible creams and lotions will be made without surfactants. Surfactants are similar to detergent. They feel great when they are applied to the skin, but then, when you shower or bath, the water suds up the surfactants still sitting on the surface of the skin and inevitably washes away any of your skins own natural oils. Carcinogenic, toxic pollutants are as damaging when applied externally as they are when ingested.
Using oil on the skin can help prevention and eliminate ama in the outer layers of the body. Ama is a Sanskrit word for toxin. The use of creams, lotion, and refined oils are not only harmful, it suppresses the metabolism and poisons the body. This may not be apparent immediately, but there is no question that many of the fancy products that people are applying to their skin today is indirectly linked to our society’s manifestation of a low immune system, among other things. The immune function is weakened by constantly fighting ama (toxins). On the other hand, using nourishing oils expel ama and strengthen the immune system. Ayurveda states that you should not apply anything to your skin that you would not put in your mouth, i.e., food.
Ayurvedic Classification of Massage Oils
What is the best oil to apply to your skin? As stated by Chakara, an ancient Ayurvedic text, there are two sources of anointing substances for the skin: vegetable or animal (ranging from ghee, milk and bone marrow, believe it or not!).
When making choices on which oil to use, one must absolutely remember to consider the allergies of the person receiving the oil massage. Although not extremely frequent, allergic reactions can be triggered by dermal application of oils. It is advisable to avoid nut-derived oils (almond, macadamia, peanut and even apricot kernel, etc.) for those with wheat & gluten allergies, celiac disease (CD) or dermatitis herpitiforus (DH).
It is a known fact, at least among the aromatherapy community, that grapeseed oil is the universal safe haven and that when in doubt, it is advisable to do a patch test on the skin of the inner fore arm (which is most sensitive) to test reactions. Be sure to find cold-pressed grapeseed oil. To stay on the cautious side, it is advised to use a 1-3 percent dilution of essential oil per milliliter of carrier oil base.
One should bear in mind that the lower spectrum of dilution percentage will address subtle, mental, emotional issues and the higher end will have more of a physical impact. In French aromatherapy, dilutions range from 1-99% in medical practice.
Below is a list of oils rated in terms of the doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. The = sign indicates that it balances all three doshas. The minus sign indicates that it reduces and soothes a particular dosha. The plus sign indicates that oil increases and aggravates a particular dosha. Once you determine which dosha is excessive within your physiology, you can decide which oil to use. An Ayurvedic Counselor can help you with this or take the dosha questionnaire here. Key: ‘V’ is vata ‘P’ is pitta‘K’ is kapha The minus sign means it will reduce and soothe the dosha. The plus sign means it will increase and aggravate the dosha. The equal sign means it will be good for and pacify all three doshas.
Mahanarayana oil: V-P-K- "Oil of Krisha". Infused with 34 or more herbs, this mystical oil is one of the best remedies for arthritis and pain.
Castor oil: V-P-K+ This oil has been a naturopathic arsenal for time immemorial. Famous medical intuitive and author, Edgar Cayce, advocates it for many things. When applied with heat, it dissolves cysts, growths, warts, and cellulite. It helps softens corns and calluses. When applied to the feet, it helps pull excess heat from the body and increases the energy of the eyes. It is recommended as a warm compress for the belly and back pain. It increases immune function by increasing white bloods cells when applied topically as a compress on the belly.
Corn oil: V+P+K-This is highly diuretic, consequently, it is the carrier of choice in the case of edema and swelling. It can be used on all skin types.
Apricot kernal oil: VPK= This is good for all skin types and is very rich and nourishing. It is helpful for prematurely aged, sensitive, inflamed, delicate or dry skin.
Avocado oil: V-P-K+ This thick and heavy oil is very penetrating and nourishing for dry and dehydrated skin. It is good for eczema, solar keratosis, and conditions where skin elasticity can be improved, such as stress lines and wrinkles. It can go rancid quickly.
Sweet almond oil: V-P+K+ This is helpful for all skin types, especially good for eczema and helpful in relieving itching, soreness, dryness and inflammation. It is useful against burns(although aloe vera would be your first choice) and thread or spider veins. Very lubricating, but not penetrating, it makes a good massage oil and protectant. It tends to go rancid fairly quickly.
Sesame oil: V-P+K+ This is a thick oil with a strong smell. It is used in cases of rheumatism, arthritis and as a tanning aid, and it softens all skin types. It is the oil of choice according to ancient ayurvedic books.
Aloe Vera: VPK= This is considered a medical oil, this is actually the first choice of applications for burns, scalds, skin irritations, abrasions, as long as it’s fresh. The cold pressed, stabilized version can be used on open wounds directly. The leafy extract will sting if applied directly on an open wound due to the high level of bitters; it’s generally used only for local applications.
Flax seed oil V-P+K- This oil is said to reduce cholesterol when taken internally and it is useful externally for oily skin, acne, psoriasis, and eczema. It is an estrogen precursor when taken internally. The high vitamin E content makes it useful for preventing scarring and stretch marks. It needs refrigeration as it goes rancid very easily.
Peanut oil: V-P+K- This is used for all skin types. It is helpful for painful sprains, bruises and inflamed joints. Very light and odorless, it goes rancid easily.
Grapeseed oil: VPK= This is the carrier of choice for the massage therapists who cant afford fractionated coconut oil as a base. It is light, excellent for all skin types, odorless, penetrating and has no allergic pathogens known. It is slightly astringent, tightens and tones the skin and does not aggravate acne.
Evening primrose oil: VPK= This oil is indicated internally for PMS and menopausal symptoms. Externally it helps in cases of psoriasis, eczema, prevention of prematurely aged skin, wound healing, and any sort of dermatitis. It tends to go rancid very easily.
Olive oil: V-PK+ This is a very heavy duty, strong smelling oil that is indicated in conditions such as acute rheumatic pain, sprains, bruises, hair and nail care and cosmetics. It is fairly stable.
Coconut oil: V-P-K+ Refined coconut oil is extremely compatible to human subcutaneous fat and along with macadamia oil, it is the base of choice in French aromatherapy. The penetration rate of essential oils applied via this medium is superior to others. The refined and sterilized coconut goes under the name of fractionated coconut and does not go rancid. Due to its lightness, it does not clog the pores, making it an ideal carrier for trouble skin. It helps pitta people stay cool in the hot season. It is also used as a tanning aid.
Sunflower oil: V-P-K- This is s light textured oil that is easily absorbed. It is useful for all skin types, and can be used to treat leg ulcers and skin diseases, bruise, diaper rash and cradle cap.
Macadamia nut oil: V- P+ K+ This has a high absorption rate and is good for all skin types. It tones aged or dry skin and is used for skin softening and wound healing.
Wheat germ oil: V-P-K+ This thick and sticky oil is used to treat dry, cracked skin, eczema, psoriasis, prematurely aged skin and stretch marks. It is an estrogen precursor when taken internally. Synthetic anti-oxidants oil are commonly added at this oil at the time of production.
Jojoba oil: V- P+ K+ This is very similar to human sebum, its high penetration rate is very nourishing for the skin. It is good for inflamed skin, psoriasis, eczema and any sort of dermatitis. It can also help to control acne and oily skin or scalp, since excess sebum actually dissolves in jojoba. This oil contains myristic acid, which is anti-inflammatory and good for helping pitta problems.
Neem oil: V+P-K+ This helps clear skin eruptions, roscea, dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema and acne are a classic pitta problem, and in India, neem has come to the rescue against topical fungi, viruses, and other infections.
A mono-diet of kitchari, for several days can be a wonderful way to hit the "reset" button on your digestion.
It Is Considered A Complete Protein And Is A Safer Alternative Than Most Monofasts.
Adjustments and omissions of various spices will make it dosha specific.
The basic components are the rice and mung beans.... It's not advisable to add additional protein sources, as multiple proteins create a greater challenge on the digestive system, and Kitchari is designed for ease of digestibility. This is also why white basmati is recommended, as opposed to brown. While we often think of brown as preferable to white rice, brown is more difficult to digest. We've all heard the phrase "you are what you eat" but, Ayurvedic principles actually indicate that this is but a partial truth. Ultimately, we are what we DIGEST. No matter how good for us a thing seems to be, on paper, the truth is that anything which goes undigested gives rise to ama (toxins). The more challenged digestion is, the more thoughtful one should be about adding extra layers of vegetable to this dish. Personally, I like to add carrots and parsnips.
Hing is a very intense powdered spice which aids in digestibility, and a little goes a very very long way. Ayurvedic recipes often call for a "pinch" of Hing. Many times this is omitted, due to it's not being readily available (may be able to find it at an Indian store... or can order online).
If you opt for whole mung (moong) beans, rather than split, be sure to soak them overnight.
Do be sure to rinse your rice until the water runs clear.
Adding Turmeric very close to the end of cooking will help preserve the vital constituents of this medicinal spice.
A squeeze of fresh lime makes an amazing condiment for kitchari!
Here is a list of foods and spices by dosha. https://www.ayurveda.com/pdf/food-guidelines.pdf and food combining information https://www.ayurveda.com/pdf/food_combining.pdf You can certainly start with the base ingredients of mung beans and rice and invent your own dosha specific variety!
It’s “Chi” or “Ki”. Pra: before Ana: breath. Prana is made from the sun (fire), the moon (nectar) and the ether that creates movement between the sun and the moon. It is what gives us life. Prana can become imbalanced in our bodies if we make wrong lifestyle or food choices, or if we allow ourselves to get caught up in the illusion of negative emotions or thoughts. A radiantly healthy person will have lots of prana.
“Prana is an auto-energizing force which creates a magnetic field in the form of the Universe and plays with it, both to maintain, and to destroy for further creation. It permeates each individual as well as the Universe at all levels. It acts as physical energy, mental energy, where the mind gathers information; and as intellectual energy, where information is examined and filtered. Prana also acts as sexual energy, spiritual energy and cosmic energy. All that vibrates in this Universe is prana: heat, light, gravity, magnetism, vigor, power, vitality, electricity, life and spirit are all forms of prana. It is the cosmic personality, potent in all beings and non-beings. It is the prime mover of all activity. It is the wealth of life."
This self-energizing force is the principle of life and consciousness. It is the creation of all beings in the Universe. All beings are born through it and live by it. When they die, their individual breath dissolves into the cosmic breath. Prana is not only the hub of the wheel of life, but also of yoga. Everything is established in it. It permeates life, creating the sun, the moon, the clouds, the wind, the rain, the earth and all forms of matter. It is both being (sat) and non-being (asat). Each and every thing, or being, including man, takes shelter under it. Prana is the fundamental energy and the source of all knowledge.”
How can we increase prana in our lives?
• Breath-work, ie., pranayama (alternative nostril breathing).
• Eat unprocessed, fresh foods like organic veggies and fruits. Storing food in the freezer destroys prana.
• Eat food made with the heart and home-made.
• Sing, smiling and laughing.
• Light exercise and yoga.
Pranayama: Breath in the form of alternate nostril breathing, also called circular breath.
Instructions on Pranayama
By Sri Swami Sivananda
1. Early morning, answer the calls of nature and sit for the Yogic practices. Practise Pranayama in a dry, welt-ventilated room. Pranayama requires deep concentration and attention. Do not keep anyone by your side.
2. Before you sit for Pranayama practice, thoroughly clean the nostrils. When you finish the practice, take a cup of milk or light tiffin after 10 minutes.
3. Strictly avoid too much talking, eating, sleeping, mixing with friends and exertion. Take a little ghee with rice when you take your meals. This will lubricate the bowels and allow Vayu to move downwards freely.
4. Some people twist the muscles of the face when they do Kumbhaka. It should be avoided. It is also a symptom to indicate that they are going beyond their capacity. This must be strictly avoided. Such people cannot have a regulated Rechaka and Puraka.
5. Pranayama can also be performed as soon as you get up from bed and just before Japa and meditation. It will make your body light and you will enjoy the meditation. You must have a routine according to your convenience and time.
6. Do not shake the body unnecessarily. By shaking the body often the mind also is disturbed. Do not scratch the body every now and then. The Asana should be steady and as firm as a rock when you do Pranayama, Japa and meditation.
7. In all the exercises, repeat Rama, Siva, Gayatri, or any other Mantra, mere number or any other time-unit according to your inclination. Gayatri or OM is the best for Pranayama. In the beginning you must observe some time-unit for Puraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka. The time-unit and the proper ratio comes by itself when you do the Puraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka as long as you can do them comfortably. When you have advanced in the practice, you need not count or keep any unit. You will be naturally established in the normal ratio through force of habit.
8. For some days in the beginning you must count the number and see how you progress. In the advanced stages, you need not distract the mind in counting. The lungs will tell you when you have finished the required number.
9. Do not perform the Pranayama till you are fatigued. There must be always joy and exhilaration of spirit during and after the practice. You should come out of the practice fully invigorated and refreshed. Do not bind yourself by too many rules (Niyamas).
10. Do not take bath immediately after Pranayama is over. Take rest for half an hour. If you get perspiration during the practice, do not wipe it with a towel
. Rub it with your hand. Do not expose the body to the chill draughts of air when you perspire.
11. Always inhale and exhale very slowly. Do not make any sound. In Pranayamas like Bhastrika and Kapalabhati, you can produce a mild or the lowest possible sound.
12. You should not expect the benefits after doing it for 2 or 3 minutes only for a day or two. At least you must have 15 minutes daily practice in the beginning regularly for days together. There will be no use if you jump from one exercise to another every day.
13. Patanjali does not lay much stress on the practice of different kinds of Pranayama. He mentions: Exhale slowly, then inhale and retain the breath. You will get a steady and calm mind. It was only the
Hatha Yogins who developed Pranayama as a science and who have mentioned various exercises to suit different persons.
14. A neophyte should do Puraka and Rechaka only without any Kumbhaka for some days. Take a long time to do Rechaka. The proportion for Puraka and Rechaka is 1:2.
15. Pranayama in its popular and preparatory form may be practised by everyone in any posture whatsoever, sitting or walking; and yet it is sure to show its benefits. For those who practise it in accordance with the prescribed methods, fructification will be rapid.
16. Gradually increase the period of Kumbhaka. Retain for 4 seconds in the first week, for 8 seconds in the second week and for 12 seconds in the third week and so on till you are able to retain the breath to your full capacity.
17. You must so nicely adjust the Puraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka that you should not experience the feeling of suffocation or discomfort at any stage of Pranayama. You should never feel the necessity of catching hold of a few normal breaths between any two successive rounds. The duration of Puraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka must be properly adjusted. Exercise due care and attention. Matters will turn out to be successful and easy.
18. You must not unnecessarily prolong the period of exhalation. If you prolong the time of Rechaka, the following inhalation will be done in a hurried manner and the rhythm will be disturbed. You must so carefully regulate the Puraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka that you must be able to do with absolute comfort and care, not only of one Pranayama but also the full course or required rounds of Pranayama. I have to repeat this often. Experience and practice will make one perfect. Be steady. Another important factor is that you must have efficient control over the lungs at the end of Kumbhaka to enable you to do the Rechaka smoothly and in proportion with the Puraka.
“Breathe and you vibrate. Vibrate and you heal. Touch and you pass the vibrations on.”
Dr. Ram K Bhosle
Balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
One of the paths to enlightenment.
Calms the mind, body and spirit.
Cleanses the body & mind of toxins.
Encourages vitality and joy.
Oxygenates the entire body.
During periods of deep grief, worry and sadness.
"Pranayama is what heart is to the human body." - B.K. Iyengar:
Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The term "Ayurveda" is becoming more and more prevalent in western society with figures such as Dr. Oz and personalities on ABC starting to recognize the healing effects. It is one of the top 3 medical systems in the world and it is a lifestyle in eastern culture. With more and more people discovering the wonders of ayurveda it is important for people to have a basic understanding of what it is.
In the past, Ayurveda has been misunderstood and seen as a religion or a cult, but now, with the yoga craze, people are starting to see that it is a beautiful medical science that encourages people to live in harmony with the earth, the elements and the seasons. While Yoga and AV are not Upavedas, by blood, they may be viewed as sister sciences--practitioners of both use data of the other science in daily life. It is a sister science to yoga and astrology. Ayurveda does not involve mandatory worship of mysterious deities. Instead it embraces all spirituality and recognizes the divine intelligence within all living things. It is the ancient healing science of India.
"Ayurveda identifies what is wholesome and what is unwholesome. It explains the nature of happiness and the nature of misery, as well as what is conducive to wellness and happiness and what is detrimental to it. It also seeks to understand and extend the span of a healthy life, and it can be applied to anything that is measurable. "-Charaka Samhita
The origins of Ayurveda are uncertain and certainly predate extant historical records. Thousands of years ago, men and women of wisdom or Rishis (meaning seers), cognized some truths known as the Vedas. About 1700 BC these thousands of verses were organized or compiled into four distinct groupings: Rg Ved, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. Within two of these--Rg Veda and Atharva Veda--are many verses dealing with medical matters. There is a verse in Rg Veda that states that balance of the three dhatus is necessary for health. Also among the content are themes of agni, soma, and prana--all concepts native to Ayurveda. While AV is not mentioned specifically, and the verses in the Vedas do not constitute a formal theory, they do point to the existence of a science of life.
It is the science of long life; of daily living; of digestion. Ayur: “span of time” or “life” Veda: “wisdom”. Ayurveda is an ancient medical science, with mystical and spiritual orientation. It can help individuals make wise, conscious choices about daily living and staying healthy. It is a comprehensive medical system of mind, body, and spirit with therapies including yoga, diet, bodywork, psychology, surgery, herbs, gynecology, pediatrics, astrology and much more.
The sacred knowledge of Ayurveda has been handed down from the guru (teacher) to the student for thousands of years. Reading about Ayurveda is one way of learning, but the highest, most powerful platform will only unfold in the presence of the guru that exists within you and outside of you. The Shakti (vibratory space) that is transferred from the guru to the student is very significant and carries the very essence of the teaching. This transference is called "entrainment". The guru is usually vibrating at a higher frequency as compared to the student. The lower vibration will naturally entrain to the higher vibration. Through this transference, the cosmic dance of Shakti and Shiva (energy and matter or creation and transformation/destruction?) will manifest within the student.
The elements are listed from most subtle to most dense. Without these elements, our five senses would not exist. For example, ether is responsible for sound. We would not be able to hear without ether. Ether is a subtle aspect of air. If one of the elements within our bodies is out of balance, one of the 5 senses will be deranged to some degree. Ayurveda classifies these 5 elements into 3 aspects. These aspects are referred to as doshas, a Sanskrit word meaning: biological principle, which generally refers to an imbalance due to ‘excess’ of one of the elements within the body.
What is a Dosha?
It is a Sanskrit word, which means a biological principle. It usually refers to an excess of one of the five great elements and is prone to change. It is not a description or definition of our constitution, which is not prone to change.
Most people get confused between the word dosha and constitution. They are totally separate from each other. Here is the definition of dosha in one of Dr. Lad's books: "Three psycho-physiological functional principles. The doshas support and maintain the proper functioning of the body when normal, and they can create disease when imbalanced.
The meaning of dosha is most completely stated in Sharngadhara Samhita 1.5 23-24: “Vata, pitta, and kapha are called doshas (blemishes, vitiators), dhatus (supports, tissues), and malas (wastes) in different contexts: doshas because they vitiate the body, dhatus because they support the body, and malas because they contaminate it.”
By Michael Dick
Food is the source of life. And digestion is the root of all health. It nourishes, maintains, and cures. Ayurveda holds that we are what we eat–literally. The ancient authorities say that food is our medicine and no amount of medicine can overcome the effects of a poor regimen of diet.
What is not appreciated, however, is that how one eats is just as important as what one eats. Specifically, the quality of digestion is related to what is going on in the mind, in the body, in our environment, and in our emotions. The autonomic nervous system takes charge of digestion automatically but since it has two aspects, sympathetic and parasympathetic, which operate in a contrary manner, the results of digestion can be good or bad. When one is not focused in the mind while eating–thinking about work or other things–the energy of digestion is diverted away from the activity of digestion. If one is emotionally charged while eating then the sympathetic nervous system functioning dominates–blood supply is shunted to the peripheral muscles away from the stomach, etc., digestive juices stop flowing, and the peristalsis of elimination stops. When the body-mind is at rest then the parasympathetic nervous system dominates and digestion and elimination proceed normally.
- Eat only if hungry.
- Skip a meal rather than eat with incompletely digested food still in the stomach. Eating would produce toxic materials, ama, which degrades physiology and health.
- No snacking–this introduces confusion in the nervous system about the timing of secretions and other digestive activities. The nervous system likes regularity.
- Eat at regular times in order to culture regular functioning of the nervous system.
- Eat the biggest meal at noontime to take advantage of the body’s greatest digestive capacity.
- No food within 3 hours of bed time. Food in the stomach interferes with sleep, which affects digestion.
- Avoid eating foods having opposite energy (virya) for example, milk and fish.
- Thoughts, emotions, and frustrations–much like material things–are energies, which influence the quality and action of food. Therefore, never criticize food while preparing or eating it.
- Eliminate bowels and bladder before eating.
- Remove shoes before eating–releasing pressure on the nerves here promotes better digestion.
- Pray before eating. This calms the mind and body and gives direction for use of the food.
- Eat only while sitting. Do not drive a vehicle while eating.
- When practical, sit in a cross-legged fashion on the floor.
- Eat in a settled atmosphere to promote parasympathetic nervous system functioning.
- Eat with awareness–recognize and enjoy the tastes, the appearance, the smell, the textures, and even the sounds, if any. This produces emotional satisfaction and balance.
- Don’t read or watch television while eating–focus on the meal. This improves digestion through awareness.
- Don’t talk unnecessarily while eating. Do not talk at all when food is in the mouth.
- During the meal, soft, gentle, healing music is OK to listen to (Gandharva music is best).
- Eat with your cleaned fingers–prana circulates and goes into the food with touch.
- Eat without attachment or aversion.
- Bring all items to the table necessary for the meal–to avoid getting up.
- Eat warm, cooked food rather than cold food or drink whenever possible.
- Avoid all ice-cold food or drink–the digestive process slows in a cold environment and this strains the digestive process.
- Sip hot water (with lemon or lime) during the meal to aid digestion. Avoid drinking lots of fluids with meals as the digestive juices are diluted and the stomach has to work harder.
- Eat about that amount of food which would fit into the hands when they are cupped together. Others say to eat approximately 1/3 stomach in solid foods, 1/3 liquids, and 1/3 for air (v±ta, pitta, kapha).
- There is no concept of dessert in Ayurveda. Sweets should be taken first (if taken at all), because they are hard to digest and they have the effect of reducing appetite and the possibility of overeating.
- Eat slowly–this means chew the food well. Some Vaidyas say this means chewing 32 times for each bite. Research suggests that the incidence of stomach cancer is related to not chewing food properly. Salivary amylase, a digestive secretion in the saliva, begins digesting carbohydrates while in the mouth and the longer food stays there, the more complete this activity can be.
- Fast on a liquid diet one day or more per week–the same day of the week is best. (Consult a doctor before trying this.) This gives the digestive and eliminative systems opportunity to rest and clean.
- Always eat only fresh food–no leftovers, no canned food, no frozen food, as these are hard to digest and lack the vitality of fresh foods.
- Brush teeth after eating–traditionally in Ayurveda a neem stick is used for this purpose.
- Lie on the left side after eating for about ten minutes. Digestion is improved with this action.
- Take a short walk of 100 steps after the meal.
- Avoid strenuous exercise within 2 hours of eating.
- Never waste food.
- Don’t eat alone–this means that sharing food with others is sacred and beneficial.
- Have a clean, well-equipped kitchen–this means utensils and condiments are important.
- Use glass pots for cooking whenever possible; stainless steel, copper, and cast iron may be OK, too; avoid
- use of non-stick surfaced utensils.
- Avoid too much raw foods, undercooked foods and overcooked foods.
- Prefer organic foods, fresh, locally grown foods.
- Before undertaking this or any other health regimen, be sure to check with your primary health care provider.
(c) copyright 2012 Michael Dick.