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Organic, or, local-GMo or NON GMO--Ayurvedic Perspective



By Monica B Groover

Today we will talk about organic, local foods.

Ayurveda propogates fresh, local and Organic, plus, it should be compatible with the dosha, the season, the country and terrain we live in and our age and strength. Whew!

Its a long list. How can we hope to remember this.

Lets just focus on Prana in the Food.

Prana is the vitality of the food.

One of my students asked me recently, "My question pertains to fruit that is organic, from a local farm, picked at the height of ripeness, but then frozen (but without any additives or preservatives).

In the West, I have often heard that frozen fruits and vegetables can be more nutritious than fresh, because they are picked when they are ripe, and then flash frozen which retains most of the nutrients."


Image: Wikipedia. Creative Commons by Erdbeere_Senga_Sengana

My student asked this question after our class, in which we talk about frozen food being depleted of prana.

So, I answered leading with the Ayurvedic concept of Rasa. There are shad rasa or six tastes mentioned in Ayurvedic Texts. (Naturally sweet, sour, naturally salty, bitter, astringent and pungent--a topic for later study!)

How does a fresh fresh picked organic strawberry from a field--taste? It has the following rasas--sweet, astringent, a little sour--and it is juicy and full of PRANA and vitality.

Try to taste the same organic strawberry after freezing it for one month. You will notice that all the beautiful rasas or tastes have disappeared and there is practically no prana. (You can taste it!!)

How can a frozen strawberry have the same energetics as a frozen one? (Even if organic). Answer is no--it cant. If it is not how nature intended, and, it tastes different--how can prana be intact.

Take an example of a squirrel that died in winter--and it snowed.

The squirrel's body was perfectly preserved along with nutrients, proteins in the very cold snow for the entire winter. When the snow melted--squirrel was PRESERVED--but it was a DEAD BODY!!!!

Frozen, canned, tinned---is food that has died. It is dead. It has no prana from an Ayurvedic perpsective...yes, it has nutrients-some of it.

If something organic is frozen--yes the nutrients are preserved--but PRANA is not! However, when it is sun dried

Some of the prana is preserved--because seeds retain prana when dried. (Strawberry has seeds on the outside that will be preserve prana when sundried--but when frozen may not)

There are some seeds that will retain prana when frozen--but they are few and far in between.

It is always better to eat something local--even if not organic--then organic, frozen that has travelled from a long time.

However, we are bound by time, convenience, cost and availability depending on where we live.

1. Best foods that retain prana and therepeutic and healing to body and mind are

LOCAL, ORGANIC, NON GMO

2. Second best--foods that can be stored--in winter in very cold places.

Sundried organic foods, organic seeds, organic nuts, legumes. Whole grains (not ground into a flour) can stay for a longer time and will retain maximum prana.

3. Third best.

Better to eat fresh food, plants, veggies and fruits that are not organic, but LOCAL--compared to fresh food that is frozen and organic. Or, local dried fruits and vegetables--can be used in soups--if fresh vegetables not available.

4. Best choice

Mix and match--depending on your budget and availability.

More to come on...GMO FOODS and Ayurveda.

If you have any questions feel free to post it on our Facebook Page SDCOA

https://www.facebook.com/AyurvedaYogaTraining

Yoga and Ayurveda Compared

Yoga and Ayurveda Compared

Julie Neiman

(Track B- Level 1 Student)

Ayurveda is a holistic health modality which originated in Indian and has been practiced for thousands of years. The goal of Ayurveda is to maintain an optimal healthy balance in the mind and body, according to each individual’s unique constitution, or inherent nature. The word Ayurveda is made up of two Sanskrit words: “Ayu” meaning “life” and “Veda” meaning “knowledge”.

I had my first experience with Ayurveda when I was in the middle of my 200 hour Yoga teacher training. It was October, and my studio was organizing a fall Ayurveda cleanse, which lasted for one week. It was at this time that my yoga practice changed dramatically. Yoga and Ayurveda are often referred to as “sister sciences” as their teachings go hand in hand, complementing one another. From my personal experience I will say that yoga introduced me to Ayurveda, and Ayurveda took my yoga practice to a completely new level.

Not surprisingly, there are many similarities between Ayurveda and Yoga, as the two are deeply rooted in various ancient Indian philosophies and texts, and are created from many of the same, or similar, concepts.

Yoga, like Ayurveda, is a way of life; both philosophies have the potential to become integrated into many aspects of the practitioner’s daily routine, as they focus on caring for the whole, multi-dimensional person. They both acknowledge the five sheaths of being, or the five koshas. It is understood that each of the five koshas (physical body, energetic body, mental body, intellectual body, and spiritual body) must be in balance for a person to be considered truly healthy. Caring for all sheaths of being means that instead of just focusing on the body, as we commonly do in Western culture, the mind and spirit must also be nurtured equally in order to achieve this optimal health and wellbeing.

Additionally, Ayurveda uses many concepts from the Yogic eight-limbed path (the guideline for Ashtanga Yoga, outlined in the Yoga Sutras) in order to balance the body and the mind. These concepts include: asana (physical practice), pranayama (breath work), pratyahara (sensory control), dharana (concentration), and dhyana (meditation). The Yogic yamas (external ethical disciplines) and niyamas (internal ethical observances) relate to the Ayurvedic concepts of Hit-ayu (righteous living), and karma, respectively. Furthermore, the ultimate goal of both philosophies is spiritual liberation, which is Moksa in Ayurveda, and Samadhi in Yoga.

Both Yoga and Ayurveda work to prevent disease and injury by creating an optimal, harmonious balance within the body. There are specific Yoga asanas, or poses, that help to balance the three Ayurvedic doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha). Meanwhile, when the doshas are balanced, the practitioner is able to delve even deeper into their personal Yogic journey, as a body free of disease and imbalance is more receptive to a deeper spiritual experience.

The focus on achieving individual balance, rather than striving toward a specific, pre-defined outcome, means that both Yoga and Ayurveda are relevant to all people, and not just those with a certain body type or particular condition. Each practice encourages individuals to connect in with their own deeper self to identify what they truly need to heal and improve their own personal situation.

In summary, Yoga and Ayurveda are both ancient Indian philosophies of self-care, which focus on optimizing and maintaining total health on an individual level. Each philosophy is incredibly effective when practiced on its own, and even more astonishing when practiced together.

Let seasons help you detox!

Monica B Groover, Ph.D, AWP
Director- San Diego College of Ayurveda

Starting a DETOX program after New Years Day in the middle of the winter while your body is dormant, and, storing energy is a NON STARTER.

I always laugh at this--because the BEST TIME to melt that kapha and toxins is SPRING, and for Vata and Pitta is FALL.

How is the physical body going to detox or lose weight, or, let go of toxins. It is hanging on to everything and dormant--because we are the microcosm of macrocosm. (I explain it later)

Why not take the assistance of mother nature in detoxifying? If you are a Kapha, you can also begin an Ayurvedic detox in the early summer. However, I would say pittas should just restore themselves and take it easy.

Why do we want to take help of the seasons?

Ayurvedic practitioners like myself to say – we are the microcosm of the macrocosm. This is repeated in religious and spiritual texts throughout history. If we are the microcosm of the macrocosm, a small part of the bigger pictures, minute part of the bigger whole – then, it goes without saying that we have the same purpose, same aim and same journey as the nature and our universe.

Going against the nature, against the natural laws of nature and universe is harmful to us, our planet and our future. In the last fifty years we have become disconnected from our environment and with the greenhouse emissions, we are making sure that future generations suffer.

Whether its raising huge amounts of livestock so we can overeat and become obese and subject ourselves to all the health issues caused by red meat, or using ridiculous amount of resources by raising this livestock; whether, its filling our landfills with trash that cannot be recycled , or filling our space with orbiting space debris, –we, as a species are not in sync with ourselves, our nature. That, my friends – is one cause of disease right there.

In my lectures, I talk about four types of lifestyle choices. Ayurveda suggests that living ahitayu – life not in sync with nature will cause havoc, imbalance and trauma.

Lets discuss this disconnectedness more. We communicate to the world and people around us through texting, Facebook, twitter and emails. We have created a virtual persona of ourselves – our virtual Doppelganger.

You’d be surprised how many clients I get whose physical imbalances stem from spending too much time on the social media websites. Living other people’s lives instead their own. Nature –being our parent, our macrocosm—has its own way of communicating with us. Nature provides feedback in many forms to us. However, in our virtual Doppelganger form it is hard for us to get the message. our body, the changing seasons, omens, sights, smells, how we feel – how our body feels. And, the universe lets us know. How?

We get instant feedback via our near environment. To give you an example, if you clutter your refrigerator and do not clean == strange smells will emanate. Instant feedback. If the winter is about to onset, fall will create dryness in your skin, your hair and preparing your body for the winter.

This is the season providing feedback to the body to start lubricating your skin with warm organic oils, and start eating soups. Moving on, lets clarify what we mean by our environment. What surrounds us is our immediate environment – be it social environment, the weather. The Macro environment would be prakrti or mother nature, and earth or the bigger universe – the planets and being part of the greater whole.

Ayurveda suggests we bring this journey of outer environment and what’s happening in and around us in sync. We can do this by living in sync with the seasons, with the cycle of day and night, with cycle of waxing and waning of moon. (Lunar and Solar cycles). Lets discuss a small example. Water is regulated on earth through moon. Moon gives rasa or taste to the fruits and fragrance to the flowers.

It regulates the oceanic tides. Water in the outer world is signified by the vast bodies of oceans. In fact 2/3rd of earth is water. Inside our body, the moon also influences the water element which is manifest as all fluid secretions, mucosa, lymphatic system, and blood.

In our mind, the moon supports water element that is manifested as feelings of relaxation, love, romance, winding down after a hard days work. It has been proved that listening to sounds of waves or waterfall can induce a feeling of relaxation in our nerve center. Earth element is manifested as mountains, deserts, rocks, the crust and inner part and center core of our planet.

Earth in our physical body is the structure, the muscles, the bones and the organs. In our mind the earth element is manifest as a feeling of being grounded, decision making, sticking to one’s guns so to speak.

The fire element in our planet is the summer season, transformation process of how seeds grow into a plant, then tree, the volcanoes. For example, all trees are made up of wood – which has the inherent fire element in it. In our body the fire element is exhibited by the digestion of food, transformation of thoughts into ideas, The air manifests as atmosphere and the gases like oxygen and carbon dioxide, in the planet and manifests as the exchange of gases in our lungs.

In the mind it manifests itself as creativity. Space in the nature is important. Most important. All planets exist in space. Space in our body is the space in our stomach, our lungs, nerves. Without space element, our mind would be crowded by thoughts and we wont be able to function.

So, use the early summer or spring--to its full advantage. Start your detox program at this time.

What is Panchakarma?

What really is Panchakarma?

June 13, 2015

Monica B Groover, Ph.D., AWP, CMT, RPYT

There is detox. Then, there is Ayurvedic detox. As you see in this post--a regular detox may involve some fruits, smoothies or pills. And, it is generally aimed at clearing in a general way. It is not specific to an area of the body. For example, detox for kidneys. (TCM has a lot more specific detox --however, I am not talking about TCM)

Ayurvedic Detoxfication is very specific, customized to the individual, very powerful, and, must be done under a qualified professional with years of training and experience. Ayurvedic Detoxifcation may be aimed at balancing agni, doshas, tissues and eliminating Ama (food molecules decomposing and creating toxins).

Ayurvedic detoxification procedure is called Panchakarma.

So, I will specify it here for my future students, and, anyone reading this.

PANCHAKARMA IS NOT A MASSAGE.

So, what is it, if not a massage. Massage with Ayurvedic Tailams (medicated and herbal oils prepared in a traditional way) may be used for Vata or Kapha individuals before Panchakarma. Yes, Before--as part of snehana in preparatory stage. (See snehana below).

Panchakarma is a THREE STAGED bio purification program. Each stage has many steps. And, practitioner chooses the steps.

If a person is weak, post partum, menopausal and does not have the strength, we follow the palliative or the first portion of this process called Purvakarma. (Preparing the body and mind for Panchakarma). We also call this stage Shamana stage. (A lot more about shamana later!)

In Purvakarma, we prepare the body and mind by herbs, diet, meditation, agni dipana (increasing digestive fire), snehana (Oils, and fats--externally and internally) and svedana (sweat therapies).

When the person is ready, we move to stage two. This is panchakarma.

Lets break down the word panchakarma--

1. PANCHA- FIVE

2. KARMA- ACTIONS

These five actions are cleansing therapies. If I say, I am going to start Panchakarma tomorrow--it is not going to happen unless I have prepared myself --my doshas, dhatus and mental self. Plus, there is a large list of contraindications.

There is a period of preparation for the mind and body. (In the west, people just leave certain foods and habits cold turkey--which is not suggested in Ayurveda).

The preparation period is called PURVAKARMA. (yes, a lot of sanskrit words--bear with me)

Panchakarma is a deep cleanse of the mind, and, body and very specific areas of the physical body, organs, dhatus that requires bringing AMA (undigested and unmetabolized food molecules that may be lipophilic or hydrophilic) back into the the GI tract, and, then eliminating them. That can take weeks, if not more just to get to the point of starting pachakarma.

What these people are looking for is SHAMANA. That is a sanskrit word for pacification. Not a hose me down with therapies, herbs, kitchari and self enema with decoctions and sesame oil. PK is rather a SHODHANA or deep cleanse and purification of either middle area- (Liver, spleen cleanse for pitta) with Purgatives like Kalamegha, Kutki, Panchatikta ghritum (Very very bitter herbs cooked in ghee), OR, ENT, chest and stomach area (Kapha area) with Kaphatic (my friend Sudevis phrase for kapha issues) herbs like Trikatu, Triphala with raw honey (Although these herbs are pretty standard Ama busters). Kaphas tend to recieve dry massages with herbs like Triphala.

And, last, but not the least a special lubrication and oleation called SNEHANA for the Vatas.

The SNEHANA means lubricating the inside and outside of the physical, mental and spiritual body with oil baths, oil massages, drinking soups made with ghee and pouring herbal oil onto the hair, and, sneha pana--eating ghee for a few days. Finally, there is also oil bastis

So, I will write more about Shamana, Shodhana and Brihmana(Tonification), as well as Rasayana (Rejuvenation) and PK for Vata, Pitt and Kapha issues in the days to come.

The suppressible and non-suppressible urges

The suppressible and non-suppressible urges
By: Alexis A. Arredondo

Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of physics states: “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” In Ayurveda, this very same law can be applied through the suppressible and non-suppressible urges.

The eight suppressible urges are greed(Lobha), grief(Soka), fear(Bhaya), anger(Krodha), vanity(Mana), shamelessness(Nirlajja), envy(Matsarya) and attachment(Raga).

As students of the Dharma and Ayurveda, we are aware that by allowing ourselves to give in to these urges, we run the risk of an “equal and opposite reaction” from them.

For example, by giving in to attachment, we open the door to the equal and opposite reaction of greed, envy or anger.

These urges not only affect our mind and body, but also effect the four goals of life which are:

i) a life of righteous living in harmony with nature (Hit-Ayu),
ii) a self-absorbed life not living in harmony with nature (A-Hit-Ayu),
iii) a life of good health/comforts with partial consideration to nature (Sukh-Ayu), and, a
iv) disturbed mental/physical state of negative karma (Dukh-Ayu).

By giving in to these urges, we quickly climb our way down to Dukh-Ayu by allowing our minds and bodies to take 0n that negative karma.

The non-suppressible urges are Urination(Mutra), Defecation(Purisa), Ejaculation(Retas), Flatus(Vata), Vomiting(Cardi), Sneezing(Ksavata), Hunger(Ksut), Thirst(Pipasa), Tears(Vaspa), Sleep(Nidra), Breath(Srama Nihvasa) and Cough(Kasa). Once again, like Newton’s law, each one of these urges will create an “equal and opposite reaction” to the suppression of that urge.

I still remember being in high school and having problems with flatus. When we are in that awkward age, we do what we can to impress others and remain socially viable. I would often hold in flatus in order to save myself embarrassment and began to develop constipation, stomach aches and pains. I know now that these were caused by the “equal and opposite reaction” of suppressing flatus.

Perhaps the most interesting discovery in my path, is that the suppressible urges often played a role in my non-suppressible urges. My attachment and vanity to be thin caused me to skip meals. Then by having that fear of violating social stigmas, I would suppress my flatus which would cause even more suppressible urges and non-suppressible urges to arise.

Finally the combination of all these imbalances would lead to Dukh-Ayu, a life of disturbed mental and physical state. Each suppressible and non-suppressible urge is related because each action reaches an “equal and opposite reaction” to each other. It is our goal in Ayurveda to keep the urges balanced in order to attain Hit-Ayu, a life of pure balance in body and mind.

Karma and kleshas in Ayurveda

Four Types of Ayus (Life) and Three Karmik Kleshas (Three fold miseries)
By Nandita Gaur, Block 1 Student

Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya |
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya |
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

A Sanskrit shloka which means

Om, Lead us from Unreality (of Transitory Existence) to the Reality (of the Eternal Self),
Lead us from the Darkness (of Ignorance) to the Light (of Spiritual Knowledge),
Lead us from the Fear of Death to the Knowledge of Immortality.
Om Peace, Peace, Peace.

This shloka sums it all. Each and every word points to the life that we, as humans should lead. All these words have much deeper meaning than it appears at the surface.

As of now, let’s not talk about the big words or words with deeper meaning but even smaller words like “us” “from” “to” “the”. For example in this prayer they use the word “us”, “lead us” therefore it is not for one individual but it is directed towards the whole mankind, whole society we live in and that is what “Hit-ayu” is; a life with righteous living, truthfulness, living in harmony with nature.

As a result of partial darkness or insufficient spiritual knowledge we are digressing from our real path. Instead to living and aiming to live hit-ayu we are leaning more towards Sukh-ayu; a life with good health, sound body and mind, life with comforts and partial consideration towards nature. There is no harm in living such life but it is slightly self-centered. One just considers self and “I” becomes important aspect of life.

I feel sorry for some unfortunate human forms that are in complete darkness. They might be literate but not educated. What Mark Twain said holds true here, “Never let school interfere your education” There are people who forget their real goal in life. They lead a life of Ahit-ayu; life that is completely selfish, there is no consideration for other life forms or environment. The sad part is that these people don’t even realize that there is something missing.

People who live Sukh-ayu or sometimes ahit-ayu have the choice to change and indulge in hit-ayu but there are some people who are forced to live Dukh-ayu. Opposite of Sukh-ayu is dukh-ayu. It is a life in which people are disturbed on mental and physical levels. It is the result of negative karma that has collected on them over lives. They don’t have a choice but to lead that miserable life without having slightest hint of what action resulted in such loss or pain.

This leads me to think about actions. Our actions decide our course life, so if we live hit-ayu we accumulate good karma and vice versa.

Karma is ones action, which produces good or bad results as per their actions. According to Ayurveda karmic balance is important for ones health and wellness. There are three-fold miseries or sufferings that we as humans have to go through.

1. Adhibhuatika;

These are the result of our material life like money, relations etc.

2. Adhidaivika;

These are the result of the things that are out of our control like floods, earth quakes, Tsunami etc.
3. Adhyatamika;

These are the result of lack of our spiritual enlightenment, absence of self-realization and our ignorance. Sage Patanjali enumerates some miseries in his yoga sutra that are adhyatamika in nature;
Ignorance (avidya) Ego (asmita) Attachment to Pleasure (raga) Aversion to Pain (dvesa) and Fear of Death (abhinivesah)
The miseries that are not in my control I am not going to think about them but ones that are adhyatamika in nature, I plan to take them up one at a time. Having this knowledge about four types of life and our karmic kleshas enforces me to be more vigilant about my actions and that will result in leading more wholesome life

History of Ayurveda

The History and Mythology of Ayurveda
By:Alexis A. Arredondo, Block 1 Student

The origins of Ayurveda are rich in mythology. As a practitioner of the spiritual path, I feel that the word mythology may carry some skeptical connotations. For the purposes of this blog I would like to refer to “mythology” as spiritual origins. What drew me most to this subject was its rather quick overview and its minimal attention to detail in most texts.

We are aware of the Briha Trayi, the big three ancient texts of Ayurveda: Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita & Ashtanga Hridaya. However, we are not truly aware of exactly how and when they were written The third text,Ashtanga Hridaya, has no clear origin story as well. Where did these sacred texts come from and what is their source?

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Brahma is the Hindu God of creation. Brahma has four faces, each one representing the four Vedas. The Vedas are written works of ancient india that date around 1500-1200BCE. The Atharva Veda, the book of spells and herbs, was the first text to mention Ayurvedic origins. This is where the source of Ayurveda begins but let us continue from the path of Brahma. Bramha created Ayurveda and passed this knowledge down to his son Daksha, a Prajapati or deity that presides over procreation. Daksha then taught this knowledge to the Ashvins (Ashwini Kumaras), two vedic twin brother Gods that would become the celestial physicians. Not only did this make them doctors to the Gods, but this made them Devas of Ayurveda. The Ashvins are mentioned in the Rig Veda and other sacred texts such as the Mahabharata and the Puranas. Indra, leader of Devas, was then taught Ayurveda by the divine twins.

It is from this point that we begin to see the knowledge of Ayurveda being passed down from the Gods to the living sages, however, this part of Ayurvedic history is also riddled in spiritual origin. The Mahabharata tells the story of an Avatar of Vishnu named Dhanvantari who “emerged from the Milky Ocean while it was being churned for Amrita (nectar).” After his emergence, Vishnu appeared before him and told him that he would have two incarnations. In his second emergence, Dhanvantari would “help the living beings on earth” because “uncommon disease is going to become a common feature” and he must “segregate Ayurveda, the health science, into eight broad categories for an easy applicability.” Vishnu then said that “Brahma thought of all these things beforehand” and facilitated Dhanvantari’s emergence, which could explain the earlier progression of Ayurveda down the path of the Gods. The story continues with a barren king of Kashi, who meditated upon the the God Dhanvantari so that he may bring him a son.

Dhanvantari was so pleased that he granted the king any favor to which the king replied “Oh God, if you are so pleased, then become a reputed son of mine.” Dhanvantari granted his wish and was reborn Divodasa Dhanvantari, future king of Kashi.

According to the Vedas, the Saptarishis were favored and protected by the Gods. Amongst these seven sages were two known Ayurvedic founders; Bharadwaj and Kashyapa. According to the Charaka Samhita, these are the same rishis of the Vedas who went to the Himalayan mountains to attain the knowledge of Ayurveda. The Atharva Veda does mention a council of rishis assembled with Indra as noted in the following verse:

“Let me receive the brilliance
and the wisdom of those seated here together;
and among these people assembled here
may me the most illustrious, Indra!”
-Atharva Veda (7.12.3)

They may indeed have been part of this council, which explains where Kashyapa learned the ways of Ayurveda, however I offer another theory. Kashyapa was a “wish born” son (or in some scriptures, grandson) of Brahma. He was also married to the thirteen daughters of Daksha, the deity of procreation. Scriptures state that Kashyapa had many children, some of them Devas and Avatars. Therefore, Kashyapa has a link to the first two Gods of Ayurvedic knowledge, possibly even the Ashvins as they were the celestial physicians. This is all speculation but Kashyapa would eventually write the Kashyapa Samhita, a collection of Ayurvedic pediatrics, gynecology and obstetrics.

Bharadwaj himself attained the knowledge of Ayurveda from Indra, when he performed rigorous penance to learn the knowledge of the Vedas. Indra told Bharadwaj that he already knew more vedic knowledge than the Devas themselves, and told him to pray to Shiva for blessings. After blessings were bestowed upon him by Shiva, Bharadwaj was approached by two kings to help aid in a battle against the Vaarshika demons. One of those kings was Divodasa Dhanvantari. According to the Mahabharata, Dhanvantari would learn the ways of Ayurveda from Bharadwaj as well as fulfill Brahma and Vishnu’s wishes to segregate Ayurveda into the eight branches we have today.

Dhanvantari is now known as the the Divine Father of Ayurveda while Bharadwaj became known as the human Father of Ayurveda.

Now we can see the parts the Gods had to play in order for the knowledge of Brahma to be passed from the Heavens to the Earth. Let us explore how this knowledge was formed into written word. We have some origins on the three Founders of Ayurveda; Dhanvantari, Bharadwaj and Kashyapa. Kashyapa’s origins seem to end here with the Kashyapa Samhita being written around 6th century BC. Dhanvantari and Bharadwaj’s teachings would eventually be divided into two schools; Dhanvantari School of Surgery (9-6th century BC) and Atreya School of Physicians-“Vaidyas” (8-6th century BC). Atreya was a student of Bharadwaj and founded the school of Vaidyas. According to the Charaka Samhita, Atreya’s six disciples were asked to compose a written work and Agnivesha wrote the best one. These writings and teachings were composed into a text entitled the Agnivesha tantra.

This is where the history becomes obscure as legend states that the Agnivesha Tantra was lost. Acharya Charak is said to have found the tantra in 1st century AD, but other resources say it was simply revised by him. The spiritual origin states that Charak found the Agnivesha Tantra incomplete, with 40 chapters missing.

Charak then went into deep meditation and Lord Shiva appeared to him, revealing the missing chapters so that Charak could complete the work. This spiritual aspect could also be supported by the blessings of Shiva that were received by Bharadwaj himself, however there is no way to no for certain that the chapters were indeed lost. Charak completed the Charaka Samhita in the 1st century AD and it would become one of the Briha Trayi currently referenced in Ayurveda today. Sushrut was a disciple and surgeon of Dhanvantari. Sushrut wrote down the teachings of surgery in Sushruta Samhita, the second of the Briha Trayi, around the 5-4th century BC. Vaghbata was a disciple of Charak and studied the teachings of the Sushruta Samhita (possibly even the Kashyapa Samhita).

In 8th century AD, Vaghbata would write a collection of his works into the Ashtanga Hridaya. In essence, this work borrows from the first classic texts and would eventually find its place amongst them as the third of the Briha Trayi.

In conclusion, through further research into the spiritual origins and history of Ayurveda, we are able to see a greater influence of the Gods as well as a closer connection to the rishis of Ayurveda and their influence on the Briha Trayi. There is a basic tree graph showing a simple linear path of the origins and history of Ayurveda. I can’t help feel that this graph could be updated as the influence of the Gods and the influence of the rishi’s teachings are anything but linear. After my research I conclude that the graph should be similar to this:

REFERENCES:

Books/Articles

Panda, H; Handbook On Ayurvedic Medicines With Formulae, Processes And Their Uses,
2004, p10 ISBN 978-81-86623-63-3

Sadashiva Tirtha, S; The Ayurveda Encyclopedia: Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention, & Longevity, 1996 p3,4,5 ISBN 978-81-319-03094

Dash, R.K.S.B; Caraka Samhita 2002 p17,18,23,24 ISBN 81-7080-012-9

Srikantha Arunachala, Treatise on Ayurveda Vijitha Yapa Publications, p. 3

Meulenbeld, G. Jan (1999–2002). History of Indian Medical Literature IA. Groningen: Egbert Forsten.

Web Sources

Atharva Veda Sri Aurobindo Kapali Shastry Institutue of Vedic Culture
http://libraryofyoga.com/bitstream/123456789/1065/2/Atharva_Veda.pdf

Rahmani, R (2008) Sages of India, Retrieved from:
https://sagesofindia.wordpress.com/about/

Mahabarata http://mahabharata-resources.org/harivamsa/hv_1_29.html

“Brahma” - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. 2015-04-19.

Karma-of-food

Spiritual and Karmic effect of Food

By: Alexis A. Arredondo, Block 1 Student

“You are what you eat” is a common phrase that we often hear when it comes to food. This may simply mean that if you eat fatty foods you will gain weight, but it can also have an alternative meaning. In Ayurveda, we learn that everything we eat has a spiritual and karmic effect on the body, mind and soul. What are some other ways that food can have a spiritual and Karmic effect on us?

In the Aghor Yoga tradition of India, there is a strong spiritual connection to the Sun. The Sun, unlike humans and the ego, does not judge anyone. In other words, the “Sun provides light uniformly to every person, state, country or continent without discrimination”(Mandal,1991). The Sun also provides the energy needed for plants to grow. By eating fruits, vegetables and grains grown and ripened organically, we are taking in that same spiritual energy that the Sun provides to all living beings. The same can be said for meat eaters, but only if eating organically fed and free-range animals, because they eat a natural diet and receive the energy from the Sun as well.

Now what about the Karmic effect of eating an animal? We already know that in Ayurveda, meat has a negative connotation because by eating that animal we are taking the karmic effect of that animals death. Practitioners of Spiritual Nutrition also believe that by eating animals, you are increasing “the animal-like tendencies in the body and it brings into operation more animal-like tendencies such as the vibration of anger, lust, fear, aggressiveness, and murderous impulses. It communicates the energy of destruction to the cells and brings the energy of death into our auric fields, reducing the flow if higher prana into our body.”(Cousens,2009)

Think of the way most animals are treated, grown in factory farms and never seeing the sun or eating a natural diet. If we are what we eat, then we are basically eating all the karmic effects of these poor animals who never truly live.

Now if you do eat meat, and I do on occasion when my body craves it, buy organic and free range. Go to the farmers market where local farmers are more than happy to tell you about how their animals are raised and treated.

There is still the question of how the death of an animals affects our karma. Factory farmed animals have fear and suffering as they are forced through slaughter houses. Local farmers don’t always see how their animals are treated during their slaughter so I highly advise you talk to those who do or perhaps even do it themselves, more humanely than processing slaughter houses. This is important because “the lives of the creatures we’ve eaten weigh down our astral body with their negative feelings of fear and suffering at their time of death.”(Cousens,2009)

One key phrase we often hear is Prana, or life force. Every living thing has Prana, but that life force begins to fade the minute that the living entity is cut, plucked, or killed. This is why it’s important to by fresh organically grown or raised food in order to benefit from the maximum amount of Prana within it. By partaking in that Prana we will bring balance and counteract the negative spiritual and karmic effects within our bodies that we acquire through our daily thoughts and deeds.

There is one other way we can help maintain the spiritual and karmic effects of food. This is done through prayer, offerings and spiritual practice. How many times do we offer food to the Divine? In Hindu and African traditions, food is often offered to the Deities before it is ingested. This is not only a sign of reverence but a way to bring blessings from the Divine to your food, thereby relieving some of the negative karmic effects. African, Jewish and Islamic traditions perform Ritual slaughter where the animals are not only killed humanely, but are given full spiritual reverence beforehand. This is infinitely better than how most animals are slaughtered in modern day processing plants.

Lastly, praying over food is a tradition that is slowly losing its luster among current society.

By praying over our food, or praying for the animal that died in order for us to eat, you are elevating your spiritual and karmic ties to the food as well as elevating your own self spiritually.
The question boils down to this, if we are what we eat, wouldn’t we rather eat organically grown foods that have long healthy lives of sunshine, rain and exposure to all the spiritual elements? Most people would rather eat the cheaper food than the more expensive, but we have to remember this simple analogy. If you have a brand new car, are you going to give it premium oil and gasoline, or a lower cheaper grade? Treat your body like a brand new car and you will avoid the negative karmic and spiritual effects of food.

REFERENCES:

Books

Mandal, Aghor Seva; Two World of Human Life: An Aghor Perspective,
1991, p162

Cousens MD, G; Spiritual Nutrition: Six Foundations for Spiritual life and Awakening of Kundalini, 2009

Popularity of Ayurveda in the United States

By Mariam Campos-Marquetti
Block 1 Student

I liken Ayurveda to one of the oldest known trees on the planet, the Bristlecone Pine. With a root system dating back more than 5000 years, scientists have been trekking to the White Mountains of California to learn more about the ancient Bristlecone, its properties, and how this pine species has outlived surrounding gymnosperms. As the world’s oldest known system of medicine, Ayurveda has existed for over 5000 years, outliving failed systems of healing and rather uniquely coming full circle to the forefront of alternative healthcare in the West. Ayurveda is attracting a great deal of attention from both the scientific community and average citizens, each in search of understanding the body’s natural processes and how to manage health in a very demanding world.

When I initiated research on the popularity of Ayurveda in the United States, I had no idea that I would discover a sea of books and websites on the subject. Even more surprising was learning that there are numerous US-based companies manufacturing dosha-balancing packaged foods, VPK herbal teas, and newly-found ancient beauty and environmental products -all in line with Ayurvedic principles and teachings. Only a few minutes into my online research, I was astonished by the presence of practitioners in nearly every US metropolis. I located a few accredited medical schools, including the University Of Connecticut School Of Medicine, that offer general Ayurveda courses. There are also options for Western Medicine students to study abroad in India for a semester of Ayurveda immersion. I even discovered that a former NFL running back, Ricky Williams, is an ardent student of Ayurveda and sits on the Board of a national Ayurveda college. Most surprising was to learn that the National Institutes of Health (NIH), through its National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, has devoted substantial resources to the study of Ayurveda, and has sponsored clinical trials on Ayurvedic procedures ranging from the treatment of anxiety to muscle-nourishing procedures in hemiplegia.

From an NIH-sponsored, double-blind, randomized, controlled, pilot study comparing classic Ayurvedic Medicine, Methotrexate, and their combination in rheumatoid arthritis, the outcome was reported as the following:

“In this first-ever, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study comparing Ayurveda, MTX, and their combination, all 3 treatments were approximately equivalent in efficacy, within the limits of a pilot study. Adverse events were numerically fewer in the Ayurveda-only group. This study demonstrates that double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized studies are possible when testing individualized classic Ayurvedic versus allopathic treatment in ways acceptable to western standards and to Ayurvedic physicians. It also justifies the need for larger studies.”

When reading that a federally funded study reported a favorable outcome for traditional Ayurvedic procedures, I am filled with hope that Ayurveda has truly garnered viable attention and respect from the West, and will undoubtedly be the focus of larger studies in the future. I am also confident that as the numbers of educators and practitioners grow in the US, so will the implementation and practice of this great system of healing.
The Affordable Care Act (Section 2706) also contains a provision for licensed complementary and alternative medicine providers. In a June 3rd, 2013 Huffington Post article, entitled: Non-Discrimination: A 'Big Honking Lawsuit' to Advance Integrative Medicine and Health? author John Weeks wrote, "The law was hailed as a breakthrough for integrative treatment. Consumers could access licensed acupuncturists, massage therapists, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors and home-birth midwives. Medical specialists could more comfortably refer for complementary services knowing that doing so would not require patients to pay cash. A critical barrier keeping patients, doctors and systems from exploring optimal integration via inclusion and referrals would be history."
While many licensed complementary health providers are waiting to see measurable and lasting impacts of the Affordable Care Act, the law is still a favorable sign that the US Government is making room for an easier delivery of complementary healthcare.
When considering regulation, according to NIH, “no states in the US license Ayurvedic practitioners, although a few have approved Ayurvedic schools.” In order for practitioners to be recognized by states, it is important that lawmakers implement and approve steps towards national licensing to ensure that Ayurveda is given an equal opportunity to flourish under the Affordable Care Act.

A further look at regulation brings into focus the FDA, which often represents a huge hurdle for holistic health modalities. Without Federal approval, Ayurveda formulas and herbal medicines, especially those manufactured overseas, will not be readily available to meet the demand of the market, and skeptics in our society will always question why the FDA stamp of approval is missing.

As Ayurveda continues to grow in the US, there are some legitimate public concerns regarding the governance and accountability of practitioners, especially in states that have passed the Freedom of Health Act, which allows complementary and alternative health modalities (Ayurveda) to be practiced by non-licensed individuals. While I am a firm believer that individuals have the right to choose how their bodies will be maintained and healed, I feel strongly that some level of governance is necessary to ensure that the best treatment protocols are carried out and ethically practiced. I am happy to share that on some level ensuring this accountability is the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA), which represents the Ayurvedic profession in the US. NAMA is the only nationally recognized certifying body of practitioners, and oversees Ayurveda colleges throughout the US. According to NAMA’s mission statement, the organization operates “to preserve, protect, improve and promote the philosophy, knowledge, science and practice of Ayurveda for the benefit of humanity.”

I am certain that Ayurveda will someday become mainstream in the US. I believe that we are witnessing the process of this unfold at this time, as demonstrated by the mounting interest of the Federal Government and the public. I advocate that students and practitioners educate and lobby to ensure that Ayurveda is afforded the same rights historically allotted to Allopathic Medicine and its practitioners, and that patients have access to affordable and ethical treatment based on the highest principles of Ayurveda.

Natural urges in Ayurveda

Block 1 Student

There are two types of urges in Ayurveda. These are suppressible urges and non-suppressible urges. In short suppressible urges are those that should be suppressed to prevent disease. In contrast, non-suppressible urges will cause disease if they are suppressed.

The difference between these are pretty simple to understand. Suppressible urges are the characteristics or traits that humans all possess in one form or another and are generally not healthy. These are greed, grief, fear, anger, vanity, shamelessness, envy, and attachment. In my mind, these all relate to attachment in one form or another. We may be envious of somebody who has more than we do or have a great desire for more and more money to build up our material fortress. Or we may be angry that we did not get our way because we are attached to a certain outcome in one form or another…. By allowing these urges to dominate and control our existence will not only lead to a disturbance in dosas and cause anxiety, loss of sleep, and depression but they will also lead to an empty life if allowed to control us. Keeping these in control and at bay through any enhancement of our connection with nature or spirit (meditation/pranayama) will keep these urges under reasonable control.

Non-suppressible urges are simply those that should not be suppressed. Essentially suppressing these will be violating the harmony with nature. These consist essentially of bodily functions such as urination, defecation, flatus, vomiting, sneezing, hunger, thirst, tears, sleep, cough, ejaculation, or breathing deeply during exertion. Obviously not urinating when your body calls for it will lead to pain, cramps, UTI’s, or other trouble with kidneys or bladder. Similar outcomes will come if we try to control or hold our urge to defecate. While not the most sexy of topics, it is incredibly important to not only allow for but encourage elimination in this area. Going down the list, it is clear that not honoring the basic calls of the body will have a negative effect on overall health. This includes both the incoming and outgoing of fluids or food through the body. If we don’t drink when we are thirsty, we will be dehydrated which can lead to low agni, low prana, and ojas and if we don’t urinate when we have to, this can lead to symptoms described above.

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