Ayurveda

Achieve Balance through Ayurveda

By Kei Kurimoto, Student SDCOA

OUR CURRENT STATE OF IMBaLANCE:

We have become a society obsessed with weight, our appearance and material objects. In the midst of this technology age, where we are all constantly “connected”, it has left us with a societal expectation of immediate results. Whether this be that customer service for your bank is available 24 hrs a day, expecting an immediate response from an email, taking a pill to immediately rid you of a cold or finding a weight-loss diet that will deliver immediate results, many of us have become a very empty, completely lacking true connection to others, to nature and to what our unique individual soul-purpose is. And the reality is that…we are too tired or too stressed to even care.

But something is changing…

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE:

Ayurveda, which translates to “the science of life”, is the sister science of yoga. The growth of yoga into mainstream society over the last 10 years has been incredible! This has laid the foundation for Ayurveda to now step into the mainstream light of the western world and present itself as a full holistic paradigm on how to live life in tune with, not just nature, but our own natural constitution. When we live “ayurvedically”, we have energy, clarity, feel bonded and connected to others, feel genuinely happy, are aware of and connected to our “dharma” (life purpose), are connected to our own soul, and are doing work that not just benefits our own pockets, but betters the world.

Seems a bit optimistic right?

WHAT IS CHANGE?:

Change is an option. Change is a desire. The secret however, is that to truly change…you have to TRULY CHANGE.

WHERE DO WE START?:

Let’s start with some “healthy diet messages” that may be more familiar to you. “Eat low fat because fat is unhealthy and only makes you fat.” “Eat low calorie because calories make you gain weight.” “Eat Raw to extract the most nutrients from foods such as fruits & vegetables.” “Eat Paleo because this is what man ate when he was hunting and gathering: animal protein and plants.”

Do you feel full now? I have personally felt like 'something was missing' when trying different 'diets' in the past. I felt like I was blindly following a regiment and denying that our bodies have a lot more wisdom than we give them credit for.

OK, now focus…

Ayurveda, in contrast, is maintaining balance of your own individual constitution, maintaining stable digestive fire, achieving proper functioning of your tissues, proper elimination, and maintaining a pleasing state of the soul, senses and mind. Yes…all this through FOOD (and lifestyle).

WANT TO GO DEEPER?

The ultimate goal of eating food in ayurveda is the creation of “ojas”. Ojas is a sanskrit word which Wikipedia translates as “the sap of one's life energy which, when sufficient, is equated with immunity and, when deficient, results in weakness, fatigue and ultimately disease.”

Let that sink in…

Ojas is created through another sanskrit word, “prana” which we know as “chi” in chinese medicine or “life force”. Prana is in everything from the sun, the moon, water, trees, to all the food that comes from the earth.

As Ayurevdic Practitioner, Dr. Marrianne Teitelbaum states, “When you put intelligent food in your body, your cells act intelligently. When you put ‘dumb’ food in your body…” well, you get the picture.

And apart from the quality of the food you are putting into your body, if you are not properly digesting your food, you are creating what is called “ama”. Ama are “toxins” that eventually lead to imbalance, such as a cold, to a fully blossomed disease like cancer.

So what are the key points to walk away with?

1) Learn how to eat quality food (full of prana)

2) Learn best practices to properly digest food in tune with your personal constitution, the season & your lifestyle.

There are many other factors that play into each of these. If you feel drawn to learn more, there are wonderful resources for you to start your own journey into wellness and understanding that you have to tools to listen to your own body and the knowledge to achieve balance physically, mentally & emotionally. And don't forget to acknowledge any desires for immediate health results and then let them go. Ayurveda is a slow process of healing over time, and a life-long journey of learning!

Ayurveda and the Four Lifestyle Choices

By Rita Shylesh Nair (Student - SDCOA)

Ayurveda translates as the Science of Life. As a codified system of medicine, Ayurveda considers a human being as a whole being encompassing all aspects of mind, body and spirit functioning as one in coherence. It recognizes that a human being is a finite container of consciousness established with boundaries of their ego, mind, intellect, emotions and sensory filters. Any experience of life come through these filters and layers creating an impact on the individual’s emotional, physiological, mental and spiritual aspects.

Ayurveda as a social and spiritual system provides a set of rules for right and natural living. It promotes the idea
that one should live a life of balance, wholeness and truth for the betterment of not only oneself, but also one’s
family, society and the world. It also stipulates that one should live from the heart, live a life of truth and
principles of right living without causing harm to oneself or others.

The 4 types of Ayurs as described provide us with a methodical way on how to live life and provides insights on what causes an imbalance or for life to go out of balance thereby causing suffering and misery. It also enables us to evaluate and assess whether the individual is living a life in concordance with the principles of right living and determine root causes of suffering and unhappiness. One’s actions, thoughts and words (karma) all have a direct bearing on one’s state of suffering or health. Karmic factors extend and span across time and space boundaries as perceived by us. It also takes into account ancestral and familial factors towards health.

When one lives a life of comfort, free from physical and mental ailments and lives in concordance with nature and its principles, one is said to live a Sukh- ayu. When one lives a live contradictory to nature and its principles, one is bound to experience mental, emotional and physical suffering. This includes poor lifestyle factors, stressors, poor diet etc. This is said to be a life of Dukh-ayu.

When one lives his life in accordance with Dharmic principles of life, a life of truth, right effort, right balance, for the benefit of himself, his family and society, one is said to live a life of Hit-Ayu.

When one lives life in a state of lack of awareness or mindfulness in contradiction of truth and engages in negative thinking, attitudes and mental states that adversely impact one’s life, and others and society, one is said to live a life of Ahit-Ayu.

This system also recognizes that our actions if unconscious and without mindfulness also has a direct impact on those around us and our environment. If we do not perceive the cyclical nature of life and the phases of life that follows nature’s cycles, and live accordingly, then we are bound to experience its effects adversely upon our
physiological, mental and emotional being.
Our excessive demand for fuel has depleted earth’s resources
thereby destroying earth’s natural riches without replenishment.

The impacts of climate change are self-evident.

Many countries see increases in temperature and pollution. This has created a toxic environment and spawned
respiratory illnesses that impact millions. We continue to reach for western drugs which also create its own set
of effects. We are no longer connected to the earth by growing our own food and most food supplied in the world unfortunately has been tainted by toxic chemicals or Gentically Modified Food.

Chemicals introduced in farming practices destroy soil and has created a new slew of GI related illnesses. Our reliance on conveniently packaged and processed food has increased a hundred fold which in turn has created a whole set of diseases as well.

Our fast-paced stress filled lifestyles no longer permit us to have downtime to engage in spiritual practices or rituals
that allow one to connect back to our sense of Higher Self. This intrinsic sense of lack of connection to
ourselves and others create a sense of alienation and we live increasingly separate lives. While we live in a more
technologically advanced society, we also live lives of increased stress and stress related illnesses and
depression and other psychological issues.

The examples of disease and imbalance abound in society and
present day culture. All of these can be traced back to how the principles of life and living as laid out in ancient
Ayurvedic texts have been overlooked and ignored.

Doshas and the Three Gunas in Ayurvedic Psychological Principles

By Lisa Bailer, Student: San Diego College of Ayurveda
(Ayurveda Wellness Practitioner Program)

An overview of the three gunas in Ayurvedic Psychological Principles

1. First Guna - Sattva Guna (Mode of Purity) is good, nourishing, harmonious, this is the ultimate goal of our mind. When moving out of sattva mode you can exhibit fear, anxiety and restlessness and worry- similar to vata imbalance.

2. Second Guna - Rajas (Mode of Passion or activity) is active , creative, initiates change. In the negative it is angry, aggressive, jealous, hatred.

3. Third Guna - Tamas (Mode of lethargy) is slow going, lethargic, passive. In the negative it can be destruction, selfish, attachment.

In a sense pitta dosha can be equated to Rajaguna and Kapha can be like tamagun, especially when out of balance. Pitta Imbalance may lead to emotions like anger, jealousy, being competitive and aggressive while kapha in an imbalanced state may get sentimental, greedy and attached so that is turns to destruction of whatever it is attached to.

Since vata governs all, it can display any of the above qualities of the gunas.
To balance a rajastic mind Pitta types should use mantra meditation, left nostril breathing and visualize cool and calming things. Daily affirmations of forgiveness and acceptance with compassion can decrease rajastic mind. Asanas with moon salutations and yoga nidra are calming and cooling.

Kapha types need to let go and move away from tamasic mind and move to rajistic mind so walking meditation to keep them moving and increased pranayama to stimulate opening and space in the mind. Affirmations on detachment and independence. Bhakti yoga which focuses on love and usually involves groups to keep them motivated may help.

Vata types need to calm their minds so doing mantra or visual meditation will help keep their minds focused. Asanas with slow sun salutations, Affirmations of peace, security and supported by t he universe are to help alleviate their tendency toward worry and doubt.

Meditation for Vata, Pitta and Kapha in Ayurveda

Juliana Adhikari

Student: Ayurveda Wellness Practitioner Program, San Diego College of Ayurveda

Meditation helps decrease stress, promote focus as well as help individuals be more conscious and aware of their mind and itʼs behavior.

When determining what meditation is best for an individual a practitioner should consider

i The individuals dominant dosha - Vata, Pitta and Kapha
ii The 3 gunas (Sattva, Tamas, Rajas), and,
iii Consider the theory of similar and dissimilar to help bring the mind back in balance.

A vata mind is dominated by the air quality and is all about movement so they tend to get mentally ungrounded, scattered, anxious or spacey when out of balance.

They should practice meditations that help keep them grounded, enhance stability, and help them release stress and stay focused. All meditations
help vata in some beneficial way but some in particular like TM, Zen, and Yoga Nidra are more calming and can help ease a vata mind.

Trees and mountains are solid, rooted, earthy, grounded so meditating in nature and near or around them
can have a grounding effect on vatas in tamas.

Sitting in peaceful contemplation near water can be good for both vata and pitta minds in tamas.

Water is very soothing to all the senses so sitting in deep contemplation with their feet in the water, taking in the peaceful sounds of the surroundings, the smells, and the energetics of the flowing water can instantly sooth and ease any disturbed mind.

Rajasic vatas tends to be hyperactive and nervous so a sitting meditation will not be a good choice for them.

They should instead do a walking meditation on a
beach or take a peaceful hike in a woodsy area.

When in tamas their focus should be on feeling grounded on the earth with each step they take.

Consciously sensing and feeling the ground beneath them.

If possible they should walk slowly and also pay attention to all the sounds, smells, and sights of their surroundings.

Walking meditation is also great for lazy kaphas in tamas to get them up and moving.

Since kaphas can be heavy and lethargic they can benefit more by doing stimulating pranayama techniques before any meditation.

Because of their lazy and unmotivated tendency, kaphas will do better when encouraged in group meditation or when participating in kirtana.

Mantra mediation can help an emotional kappa in rajas.

Practicing loving kindness and doing a meditation that opens their heart chakra is great for promoting sattva in Kapha individuals.

Pitta individuals would benefit greatly from meditation that stimulates and promotes peace of mind.

Japa and mantra meditation is great to mentally stimulate and sharpen the mind.

Soothing meditations in nature or by water as
mentioned above help cool and ease a pitta in tamas.

Pitta should also do pranayama techniques - while practicing meditation to help promote sensory control for a mind in rajas.

What does Ayurveda teach us?

By Shyam Madas

Ayurveda teaches us that there are five dimensions of our being. These five dimensions are physical, spiritual, energetic, mental and intellectual . Just as a river flows into a sea, and clouds from the sea feed the river, each dimension of self effects the other. In this context all disease can be defined as systemic imbalance.

Ayurveda recognizes that health and self do not begin and end within the confines of what we would consider “an individual”. Our relationship with nature and the world around us is a constant exchange. Just as the five levels of humans are interwoven, so are we interwoven into the community of life. It is because of this understanding Ayurveda will take into consideration the quality of a persons relationship with nature as a part of the qualitative assessment of a persons health.

Ayurveda recognizes that our health is connected to the health of everyone and everything around us. It teaches us of three types of disease and suffering. Those which are directly related to the body and mind of self, those which are caused by other living beings and those which are outside of the first two, such as a rock falling on your head. All three of these are thought by most Ayurveda practitioners to be driven by personal karma.

Putting aside the more esoteric ideas of the deeds of past lives, we can easily see karma at work in our lives every day. Karma is action. Every action has a reaction. If we do not follow healthy lifestyles , we are likely to get get sick. Simple action and reaction. This same understanding of action and reaction can also be applied to actions related to other beings, not just actions performed upon yourself by yourself.

The Buddha said “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” When anger arises , and we then cling to it, or act upon it, one could say that this is a negative karma. If we are the type of person to cling to anger, we will always be burning with this rage and will soon develop any number of pita related diseases. If we tend to act upon our anger the action will create a pattern in our psyche , resulting in our becoming angry more and more often. This too would create imbalance , ultimately manifesting itself as disease.

When we look at the karma of anger through Ayurveda's holistic perspective, we can see other ways our health can be effected by our anger other than just it's immediate effect on our body. An example could be a employer yelling at an employee. Any number of external negative consequences could arise for the employer, but let us just assume that the employee's reaction was to be saddened by this experience and no longer as happy when he/she is at work. Modern studies have proven that through olfactory influences, and visual empathy one human can effect the autonomic, endocrine and immune function of another simply by sharing the same room. This imbalance would then become a systemic element within the office which would ultimately effect the employers health along with everyone else in the office.

This Ayurvedic perspective of karma shows us that every thought , word and deed has a reaction that will impact on our own health, and ultimately the health of the biological community as a whole.

Samkhya Philosophy and Ayurveda

Authors: Students of San Diego College of Ayurveda

Samkhya to me is the most realistic, understandable and exquisite philosophy of creation and the components of our being. From physical/material existence to the highest level of consciousness Samkyha explains it all.

Our origins and how we came into existence was always a mystery to me. From a young age I was taught that God miraculously created us. Later on I went to find out that we evolved from microscopic organisms. I, like many people out there in the world, still had many questions that couldn’t get answered. After doing a lot of soul searching and reading about metaphysics, quantum physics, yoga, and eventually Vedanta through my yoga studies I discovered Ayurveda and Samkhya. It all clicked instantaneously.

On a different note, learning about the elements of Samkhya to me is equivalent to my learning, as an artist and designer, the principles of creating art. When I was attending private art college years ago I had so much intensive training in the foundations and principles of art. No matter what form of art is created, industrial design, animation, glass blowing, painting it was required to learn these principles.

These elements of art are: movement, pattern, unity, harmony, variety, balance, emphasis, contrast, and proportion. These are the building blocks used to compose any work of art just as the elements of Samkhya are the building blocks that compose the masterpiece of the universe and our body.

Sankhya philosophy is one of the oldest and most influential of the six systems (shad darsanas) of Indian perspectives of knowledge. Sage Kapila was the founder of Sankhya philosophy. The term Sankhya literally means “enumeration”
Sankhya great achievement lay in enumerating the 25 tattvas, or cosmic categories which reflect the different states of consciousness described in Indian mystical literature.

Sankhya teaches us the discrimination knowledge between purusha and prakriti. The real self is purusha the inner witness, the unchangeable , absolute consciousness. The self is not one’s thoughts or feeling or experiences. your thought comes and go,but the inner self remains the same. Purusha is completely distinct from the matter and never interacts with it. Prakriti is a fully real material substance, and not the creation of Brahman's.

Sankhya philosophy divides the universe into 25 distinct yet related principles called tattvas. The purpose of sankhya is also that its followers attain liberation of jiva atma. In my understanding the jiva is not mentioned separately from individual soul.

The 25th element is Brahman. It is the goal of jiva to free itself of these 24 element that they are all maya in this world and recognize the brahman the 25th element as a truth liberation Moksha.

24 elements:

5 Karmendriya, 5gnanedriya, 4 Anthakaran, 5Bhuta, 5tanmantras.

The three gunas are the rope that binds both purusha and prakriti. One can cut this rope with the sword of self-knowledge and devotion.

Samkhya theory founded by Sage Kapila gives an explanation on the origin of universe and life. It offers a model of evolving consciousness from non-material to material. It regards the universe to be consisting of two realities: Purusha (consciousness) and Prakriti (un-manifested/matter). Both the “Purusha” and “Prakriti” are completely distinct. They alone cannot create anything.

Purusha is uncreated, absolute, pure and passive witness to creation whereas Prakriti is dynamic, creates, impure and which is the first principle of manifestation. It contains 3 gunas-Raja, Tama, Satva. Prakriti is the force that works like automation. All the cause and effect are already latent in it.

When the Purusha and Prakriti comes in contact with each other, the equilibrium of the 3 gunas break which results in manifestation of Mahad (Buddhi) which further manifests into Ahamkara(Ego) which activates the 3 gunas.The action of Rajas on Tamas results in, 5 tanmantras and pancha mahabhutas. These mahabhutas result in the 3 doshas of Vata,Pitta and Kapha.The action of Raja on Satva gives rise to 5 Jnyanindriyas and 5 Karmindriyas.

Student Input:

Juliana Adhikari
Paola Beth
Deepti Vats
Palak Timbatiya

Cycle of Seasons and Ayurveda

Cycle of Seasons and Ayurveda

by Shyam (Zachary Bubeck)

Within the entire observable universe, the most common reoccurring shape is the circle. This pervasive shape reflects the cyclical nature of all things. Our galaxy along with others, rotates around a common center. Our solar system rotates around the center of our galaxy. Our planet orbits around the sun , our moon orbits around the earth and our earth orbits around its axes. We can even witness this phenomenon on a microcosmic level where we can observe electrons revolving around the nucleus of atoms.

We can also derive many other cyclical abstractions through our observations such as a trees life-cycle or the food cycle etc etc.

The human being can be considered a system is embedded within a larger system. Within and without these systems there is a constant exchange of energy that moves in cycles. Ayurveda provides us with a model for understanding the direct effect that the greater cycles within this system have on us as humans. Utilizing this information we are given the opportunity to adjust our lifestyles in a way which will correct any imbalances in our microcosm caused by these external influences.

The first cycle to be considered is the earth’s rotation. During this cycle we experience changes in the amount of direct exposure we receive to various forms of light and other subatomic particles. This creates changes to the Doshic quality of the atmosphere around us and directly within us.

Although the times of these phases change through the course of the year depending on your location, the following is a general overview of the Doshic influence of different times of day:

3AM to 6AM Vata
6AM to 10AM Kapha
10AM to 3PM Pita
3PM to 6PM Vata
6PM to 10PM Kapha
10PM to 12AM Pita
12AM to 3AM Kapha

Those of us who seek balance should consider these cycles and the principal of like increasing like when making decisions on how to conduct our day to day activities. A great global example of this is that most people would be served best by having their largest meal of the day at noon when pitta is highest and feeding the Jathara Agni.

Moving out to slower cycles, we should also consider the seasons which are caused by the earths relation to the sun over the course of its annual orbit. The seasons effect on the body should be offset according to the season itself and the individuals constitution. For example, a kapha during the winter may need to eat a heating diet where a pita would be best served to maintain a balanced diet during the winter with only occasional heating foods. During the summer the pita person may need a mostly cooling diet where the kapha may be able to eat more heating foods.

In addition to the considerations of the current season we must consider the effect of seasons as they change and what they leave behind. During the winter for example, there is frequently buildup of Kapha. Pita can buildup during the winter as well because of the increased storage of internal heat as a response to the external coldness. Considering this potential buildup, the need for spring cleaning takes on new meaning as this is a great time for panchakarma or other cleansing protocols to be implemented. Seasons are different in different places, but generally the following Dosha’s are associated with the following seasons:

Summer Pita
Fall Vata
Early Winter Vata
Late Winter Kapha/Vata
Spring Kapha

In addition to these two important cycles, Ayurveda will also take into consideration more subtle influences such as the moon and other celestial bodies. The tides are managed by the moon and our bodies are made mostly of water. It then stands to reason that our bodies will be effected by the moon as well. It is a verifiable fact that more child labors start on full moons than any other day. Ayurveda also teaches us that other celestial bodies have a direct influence on our being as well.

Our environment does not only include the weather. Where we live, the people we are around, the cleanliness of our home and the wind that brought in the very air we breath will all play a role in influencing our constitution at any time. These facts all serve as wonderful reminder of the need for holistic thinking when approaching health from an Ayurvedic perspective.

To reuse this article, please inform info@ayurveda-california.org, and, give credit to the college as well as the author Zachary Bubeck, along with the hyperlink:

http://ayurvedayogatraining.com/blog/2011/10/cycle-of-seasons-and-ayurveda/

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