$#!T Happens: The body’s natural cleansing system; Why do a dinacharya (daily regimen); prana part 2
Thought that may spark your interest.
Understanding how prana works is an important part of a practice. Without this we are left doing whatever, whenever and not knowing how and why leaving us without the effects of what our practice can do for us as well as leading us down the the side of ignorance and ultimately disease.
One wakes up early in the AM 1 hour and 36 minutes before the sun rises or bramha murhurta.
“The time early in the morning, one and a half hours before sunrise, is called brahma-muhurta. During this brahma-muhurta, spiritual activities are recommended. Spiritual activities performed early in the morning have a greater effect than in any other part of the day.
Bhagavata Purana, 3.20.46
In Ayurveda, there is a delineation of how the elements move throughout the day. Vata (air and ether) time is 2 to 6 AM and PM. At this time, it is lighter, clear, and drier and energy is high. This is also the time (mainly around peak at 4:00am) one wakes up when having a vata imbalance, with nightmares, anxiety and all the demons of our mind come out.
If you wake at Brahma muhurta (the time of brahma), a healthy body will instinctually have a bowel movement. This is due to the activation of prana, the inward movement of energy caused by opening the eyes. This is also the body’s way of starting a daily cleansing. The release of the bowel movement or earth energy, lightens the body or makes prana move upward. This in-turn, stimulates the digestion and then stimulates the appetite. This can be felt if you are sensitive to your body and right after the earth energy is released. At sunrise the water and earth elements increase. If you sleep in beyond the suns rising your body gets heavier and wetter the longer you sleep in. (Kaphakala = kapha time) This natural bowel movement does not happen. The body does not cleanse or stimulate the gastric fire but normally we eat anyway….. because it is time to eat rather than feeling our digestion and seeing if we are hungry. The food does not digest and we eat lunch at lunch time anyway because it is time to eat. You can see how this is a downward spiral here, leading us into disease. The western medical research in the late 80’s said that 89% of our diseases started from our bowels. I believe today they think it is a higher percentage.
A major problem with our “technology” and conventional toilets made for luxury rather than any function of health is that in a sitting position on a toilet, the rectum cannot fully empty. If you notice asian (indian as well) toilets are but a hole in the ground and one squats to relieve them self. In this position the rectum is allowed to fully empty. Most americans can hardly squat do to lack of mobility in the lumbar spine and hip. This is also due to the health of what is internal in that area, the internal organs of the digestive system. We look at the toilets that are but a hole in the ground and find it strange and uncomfortable while we also have 89% back problems in this country, while asian countries only have 18%. As Westerners we simply do not know what we do not know. The truth is that the modern body from sitting so much is so dysfunctional. Most Americans could not squat to use a indian toilet if they tried. Don’t believe me? Simply ask 10 of your friends to squat and hang out there. See for yourself.
Lets continue the journey. After the bowel movement is released the energy moves upward. After it has stimulated the gastric fire and appetite it is now time to cleanse the face to get rid of the earth and water elements that have accumulated. Take out your toothbrush and brush your teeth starting with the lower teeth then moving to the upper teeth. Texts say to face East and sit while doing this. It is to further stimulate and cleanse the body due to the direction and the energy of the sun coming up. It is important to use a bitter, pungent and astringent toothpaste or powder. Our tooth pastes are sweet in this country. The taste of sweet is anabolic and also the elements of earth and water. Most of our dental problems can be easily corrected by simply changing our toothpaste taste. The bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes will cleanse the mouth, tighten the gums, and strengthen the teeth while sweet grows everything inside.
Take a little warm sesame oil and apply it to your entire face, then take a warm wet towel and hold it over your face as well to open the channels before doing the the following. It is crucial that you do this and no other oil is used unless specified by an Ayurvedic doctor. Every substance has its own qualities and just using something because you like it or the western world of “health” says it is good is a road paved to hell but with good intentions.
We are moving our way upwards to the eyes. Simple washing with luke warm water can be okay but a deeper cleansing by rubbing the eyes with room temp water (no hot water is used above the head to protect the senses, ever) can help incredibly. Rub the medial eyes in circles (the interior or tear duct) away from the center of the eye. Then do the outer edge of the eye as well. Kajal, a medicinal eye liner that cleanses the eye, can be put on at this time as well. (by the way, I make the stuff so you can get the real thing by just contacting me). Brad.Yantzer@gmail.com (Absolutely do not email me asking for free advise!!!!! If you do, my services fee will be double for you. )
After cleansing the eyes, we move to the nose. A couple drops, no more than that, of sesame oil can be applied into each nostril or this is where you could do jalaneti which has been commonly known as the neti pot. Do not do both unless you want to create an infection. And remember to dry it properly if you do. If you do not know how, don’t do jalaneti in the first place. Once again, you’ll more than likely cause problems, big ones. Now that we have cleansed the nose, it is back down to the mouth. There are a couple options here. Oil pulling is a new hippie dippie thing within the yoga and spiritual and cleansing world. It is from Ayurveda but what is being touted about it is completely blown out of proportion. Claims of liver detoxing to all sorts of ridiculous claims are being made. People are using all kinds of oils for it as well. It is important to understand the deep knowledge behind this. Kavala is the swishing of oil or water in your mouth until tears develop in the eyes. There are signs and symptoms of doing it correctly and not. There is dietary conditions that need to be followed including eating a light diet. To not follow these guidelines can result in disease or at minimum bad repercussions. In general, you will be fine after oiling and fomenting the face to just use warm sesame oil or water (once again, just sesame oil). An ayurvedic doctor may recommend medicinal oils for certain reasons. There are four types of kavala. Each for their specific purposes.
There are always more details, knowledge, and more things to add with those details but this is a really good start.
Now you are ready to start your day. if you have followed the order and details listed above, you are feeling incredible. If there is one thing that I would teach everyone in the world, it would be the sequence and timing above. It is the one thing that would bring the greatest amount of health to everyone and anyone. The senses become better, the mind starts to be clearer and function better. Healthier choices are easier to make. The world would be a much better place. Plus, this series will bring you more in touch with yourself as you begin to clear out the wet towel that covers our ability to feel and sense deep beyond our cravings and ego.
At sunrise, the airflow between the two nostrils are flowing evenly. At sunset as well. I have described this in several other articles as well as one coming soon on Prana. When these two channels are even, sushumna nadi or the central channel is open. This is why a yoga practice is only done at sunrise or sunset.
Asana is done to balance the 5 pranas of the body. It is not to get a yoga butt or open your heart. This is all our ungrounded and uneducated take on what asana is. In balancing the pranas you create health and proper functioning of all the physiology. Prana is responsible for all the functioning of the sensory and motor functions of the body. This creates health. If a teacher doesn’t know how to balance the pranas and they are just spinning an assortment of asana together because they have done it in someone else’s class or like the sequence that they have come up with, it is in no regard to the students in their class and what is going on with their unique individual. Asana also breaks the karma of the physical body. That is opens energetic stuck places of karma and makes health when done under the knowledge of prana.
Note: If sweating or breathing through the mouth occurs in your practice, you are finished. This is your capacity. The heat in the body has risen to its capacity and the body starts to try to get rid of it. Anything more than this will imbalance prana and create the opposite effects of what asana is actually for. Western exercise theory is based upon warming up, then excessive exertion. In yoga and ayurveda, excessive exertion is one of the main causes of disease later in life. Most of what is being taught out there as yoga, even in India, is not yoga asana.
After asana, the body is primed for building the capacity of prana, prana-ayama. Pranayama is energy building no breathing exercises. Prana is energy or chi or vital force. Ayama is to restrain or contain.
This leads you to the rest of the ladder of the yoga practice which is far more important in the practice; pratyahara – one pointed focus, dharna – withdrawing the senses, dhyana – meditation and samadhi – a non dualistic state of consciousness. Unlike modern yoga there is a template and a way to get there. It is work and takes time and consistent practice and lifestyle choices including food choices.
After your work in (vs workout), now it is time to do a squeezing massage (udvartana). This compacts the body and pacifies vata. This is done with easy squeezing of the tissues, it is not a kneading massage.
A warm sesame oil massage can be done at this time as well. I will write another post sometime on the proper ways of doing abhyanga.
Hit the showers, minding not to use hot water above your shoulders and you are on for the rest of your day. Also the temperature of the water should not be to much different than the air temperature. To be to far different like a hot shower in the cold Winter, will cause an imbalance to the system and the shock it goes theru imbalances vata.
Back to the poop.
Here are some ways to diagnose what is going on with your digestion:
Your BM should float.
Undigested toxic food sinks due to its heaviness.
Your poop should be much like the state of a ripe banana.
Too dry and the BM is in small pieces or constipation happens
Too liquid means that the formation is due to other imbalances like possibly aggravation of pitta (fire and water)
You really shouldn’t need to use toilet paper.
Can you believe it. If it is well digested, it doesn’t have a stickiness and you should be clean afterwards. this is why they only use water to wash afterwards in those foreign countries with just a hole for a toilet. If it leaves a skid mark you are definitely not digesting.
A sidebar here is that for some weird reason, the modern world thinks that using toilet paper is somehow cleansing. Most Westerners think that washing your anus with water and your left hand is gross or disgusting which is. Do you think washing your hands before dinner is done with paper towels and no water? Then how is using toilet paper the least bit sanitary or cleansing to your body? Also, the use of tissue paper on mucosal tissue is harmful to that tissue.
Your BM should not smell bad.
Digested food comes out without odor. Gas, smelly feces, stickiness, is all part of a unhappy digestive system.
You should have 2 to 3 BMs a day.
If you aren’t, where is the food going? Think about it. Normal in the western world of medicine is one a day. That is scary. Most people only have a few a week.
What to do? Well, read up on past posts, eat right for the seasons and if you are having digestive troubles, lightening your meals in quality or quantity is needed. Lightening of the quality of your intake is another article.