Healthy habits in Ayurveda 1
Hitahitam Sukham Duhkhamayustasya Hitahitam | Mananca Tacca Yatroktam ayurvedah Sa Ucyate
The details of healthy and long age and which defines what is good and what is bad for the four different types of ayush (life) namely, hitayu, ahitayu, sukhayu, and dukhayu, concerning different conditions of diseased or healthy life is Ayurveda .
The basic purpose of Ayurvedic knowledge is
“Swasthasya Swastharakshanama Turasya Vikara Prashamanam Ca”
Ayurveda aims at the protection and maintenance of good health of the healthy people and elimination of and control over the ailments and health disorders of the unhealthy. What is health…
Samadoshah Samagnishca Samadhatumala Kriyah | Prasannatmendriyamanah Swastha Ityabhidhiyate
This is probably the most important shloka of Ayurveda as it defines what health is. No other science actually has this detailed of a definition. Only that person who is healthy, whose doshas, dhatu, mala, and agni are balanced and free from all disorders and whose mind and soul are in perfect harmony. This definition explains the completeness and comprehensive approach of this great science. With this, you gotta see that there is a lot to it. Prakrti Nidana is the basis of diagnosis and treatment describes one’s original state constitution, prakrti, in terms of three basic functional elements of vata, pitta and kapha. This is what has become popularized in the masses but is far from all there is to know in Ayurveda. In terms of physiological activities of the body, the modern researchers interpret vata as the energy of movement, pitta as the energy of digestion or metabolism and kapha as the energy of lubrication and structure. In truth, vata is what controls the nervous system and everything that it has within its realm. This would be sensory and motor functions of the body. Vata is prana, not air. We need to dispose of the need to try to translate everything into our concepts to try to understand them for what they are in their paradigm. You will fail miserably at trying to learn French by translating it to English to try to learn it. Harmonious balance of the doshas are regarded as the sign of normally healthy state. Any disturbance, excess, or deficiencies in any of these upsets the normal concentration of elements, and physiological and biochemical reactions and functioning inside the body and therefore results in different kinds of diseases. If the waste products inside the body are not discharged properly, these will cause harmful effects. (how do the waste products eliminate from the body?) Ayurveda explains proper beneficial habits of eating, sleep, and other items of a daily routine as per the individual in one’s prakrti and the environment one lives in. One of the major causes of bad health and disease in the modern world is the haphazard and undisciplined life style adopted by most people today. In other words, adharmic.
What is the ideal routine of the day according to Ayurveda? After getting up in Brahma muhurta, we have our sadhana, paying respect to mother earth in the form of Namaskar, cleaning the teeth, massaging the body with oil, morning walk, physical exercises, bathing followed by japa sadhana with meditation, swadhyaya self study of enlightening books and scriptures. These are the successive steps of the daily routine before having lunch. Getting up in the Brahma muhurta is given significant importance in the scriptures for physical, mental, and spiritual development. It is probably the one most important thing out of all to maintain a healthy body and mind.
Just a note here, Western Ayurveda has been touting to drink water first thing in the AM. Nothing like this is told in Ayurveda and is actually opposing what Ayurveda is by foundational knowledge of the srotas closing like a flower when the sun sets. The srotas are closed and kapha builds in the form of kleda. When you wake in the morning, if you were to drink water, it would stop the natural cleansing of that kleda that would happen by drinking that water. This is understood in the chapter of Charaka Samhita on Grahani if there are any doubts at all. Also, there is no such thing as lineage differences, that is a BS excuse for people having poor education and never reading the real texts and just studying blindly with their teacher.
Brahme Muhurte Hyuttish hejjirna Nirupayan Rakshartha Mayusah Swastho A. Su. 3 Brahme Muhurte Budhyet Swastho Raksharthmayusah | Bhavaprakasha 1| 24
In order to enjoy a long, healthy life, a person should get up in the brahma muhurta with positive thinking. He should also take care of what he eats at night, knowing whether it is digested properly or not.
Manu Smritti has advised Brahme Muhurte Budhyet Dharmarthacanucintayet | Kayakleshanshca Tanmulan veda tatwarthameva Ca -Manu Smritti 4 | 92
One should get up in the brahma muhurta with thoughts focused of dharma and artha. That means one should determine the righteous mode of utilizing the day ahead and also plan for constructive use of his time during the day. One should also contemplate on his body functions and analyze whether it is in healthy state or not. If not, they should try to investigate the cause by introvert concentration on the body of what is going wrong. This cannot be done in a life that is hurried along rushing here and there, stillness is foundational.
Today, there is a general habit of eating late in the night and watching television till late or just staying up late. You gotta ask yourself, why?Also then how could one get up early in the morning? But if we want to stay away from all diseases and enjoy a healthy life, we will have to change this. We must create the habit of getting up before sunrise. We must make best use of every moment of this precious life. The idea of vacations in the West is interesting. Taking a vacation is thought as taking a break from a hectic life. Just need to think about this for a moment to see the disease forming effects of the thoughts about ones life from the idea of taking a break from ones life. This is also the same disconnection and disease state of the mind thinking that we can do harmful things and make up with doing detoxes or dieting or exercising binges. How utterly foolish. Flowers open with the dawn of the day, birds welcome it with their songs, everything in nature’s creation appears to gain new life. New energy is in the brahma muhurta. If we miss these beautiful moments by sleeping in, our loss will be great in terms of our health and our soul awakening as it really is the time of meditation and spiritual practices.
Varna, Kirti, Mati, Lakshmim, Swasthyam Ayushca Vindati | Brahme Muhurte Sanjagracchiyam Va Pankajam Yatha
Getting up in the brahma muhurta helps gaining beauty, charm, brilliance of intellect, glory, prosperity, health and long life. The body gets energized rather than heavy if one is awake at this time. We should get up in this energizing phase of the day and do the sadhana of self realization. The conscious mind and all associated faculties go into rest with sound sleep in the night. The visible world ends and one lives in a different world of unconscious perceptions. The soul has only a tenuous connection with the body and the gross world in this phase. It is just sufficient to enable continuity of the vital functions that maintain the living state of the body. The consciousness and its connection with the body is regained the moment one gets up. The instance of awakening and getting up is much like having a new birth. In order to perform the above sadhana , sit up on the bed or on some asana with an erect spine; preferably with legs folded as in sukhasana, padmasana, or ardra padmasana. Keep both the hands on your lap. The body may be covered with extra warm clothes or a shawl in the winter or if it is too cold in the room. Take a deep breath in a relaxed mode and exhale it slowly, breathing is through the nostrils only. Try to bring your focus to the middle of your head. Find the very smallest perceptible center. This is a profound exercise for most people as not many have ever experienced being inside them self. Our perception, for most people, never stop being one external to oneself. From this place experiencing oneself as compared to the entire house or city you live in, envision all the people that live there, all the beings including animals. The amount of someones consciousness is limited to its ability to expand. This is the limit for most people if even this. From here you can develop the ability to be in connection with the entire country you live in, the entire hemisphere that you live on and even the entire planet. It is not hard, it just takes time to develope as well as living in that perception and not just doing a practice then dropping it and continuing on with the oblivious life that is lived prior. The next step of your routine should be to pay obeisance to the mother earth.
Karaagre Vasate Lakssmi Karamadhye Sarasvati |
Karamuule Sthita Gauri Prabhaate Karadarshanam ||
Look at your hands, for Lakshmi resides in the tip of the hand, in the middle there is Saraswati, and at the root / base is “Durga” or “Gauri”.
Lakshmi is in our fingers. Why? Because all we do to make resources, create or earn them, to type in a blog, to plough the fields, or do card tricks, we do it because of the opposable thumbs and our fingers! It is because we can hold things in our hands and make tools. Imagine if we didn’t have the fingers and opposable thumbs! Look at the pigs and lions, still as they ever were!
Hold the palm like a book, look at it. The destiny on our palms. We make our own destiny with knowledge, Saraswati.
Look at the wrist, the power to use the hands is from the wrist, the root, where lies the shakti. Imagine without energy to work or think what use would your body or brain be?
They are the spouses or consorts of the three murtis (Shiva / Vishnu/ Brahma); and (2) These deities represent three very important Shaktis or powers (resources). Durga Devi represents our health, especially important as we are growing old. Lakshmi Devi represents wealth. for when health is lost you will realize the importance of wealth in the form of expensive medical bills. Saraswati Devi represents “wisdom” or “knowledge”.
These three basic resources are required by every one of us: health, wealth, and knowledge. When we have them, we don’t know their value and take them for granted. Only when we are deprived of any one of them, we discover the value of that particular resource. Therefore, all the three are equally important. When we are sick, we think that health is the most important. In poverty, we feel that wealth is the most important. So, when we are deprived of whichever of the three, we conclude that it is the most vital for living.
Connecting to the mother earth
Samudra-Vasane Devi Parvata-Stana-Mannddale |
Vishnu-Patni Namastubhyam Paada-sparsham Kshama-Svame ||
ocean draped, adorned with mountain breasts, consort of vishnu, forgive me for stepping on you.
so in the first one, we gave thanks that we have our hands, figuratively meaning that our fate and future is in our hands to make or destroy. Now the day has begun, and we need to make the most of it. But how? No matter where we go, we will have to step on the ground. Mother earth supports you and you will always put your feet on her, she will always hold your burden.
This mantra is stating, Mother earth, forgive me for I have to step on you, trample and touch you with my feet, for I have to go around my daily chores to make my destiny, my fate, and live my karma.
There is a hidden bit of knowledge in all mantras and understanding of them. The feet are considered dirty as they touch the ground and are the lowest part of the body. In pranam, or touching the feet of a guru or elder, it is not only in giving and showing your respect but also this puts one into a posture. The heart is facing the earth, the top of the head is facing the guru or elder. Think about it.
The following shloka describes what should be our feeling at these moments (the shloka may be chanted like a prayer):
Samudra Mekhale Devi Parvatastana Maale| Vishnu Patnim Namastubhyam Padasparsham Kshamasva Me
You who wear a waistband of oceans, huge mountains cover whose breasts; who is the eternal Companion of Lord Vishnu, I pay obeisance to you Oh Mother Earth! Kindly forgive me, as I have to commit the sin of putting my feet upon your surface (to begin my journey of life for the day ahead).
Sitting in the same bed where you sleep everyday, without cleaning the teeth-face-body is why this mantra is chanted, because the body was horizontal for the whole night while sleeping. It becomes vertical suddenly when you get up. In the vertical position of the body the force exerted by the heart for pumping the blood is more. The change of position of the body from horizontal to vertical level should be slow and steady. We are instructed to sit on the bed for few seconds before standing as it has been statistically estimated that 23% of the heart attack deaths take place in the individual when they suddenly get up and stand/walk from the lying position. Similarly with this mantra we touch the floor, the electricity in the body gets grounded through the fingers instead of the feet, reducing the chance of arthritis and many other nervous based disorders.
Before taking the food, pray for a few seconds. This prayer is a Hindu acharas and during this prayer time, while looking to the food, the flow of saliva in the mouth takes place and this liquid activates the generation of other digestive enzymes also, activating the process of digestion. Fasting leads to cleaning of the intestine, certain fasting in which change of food is instructed in the custom. Thich leads to getting variety of micro nutrients from different types of food sources. Chudakarna is the ceremony connected with wearing of the earring and is just like giving the first vaccination. Annaprasana is the first food giving ceremony and is like the first inoculation to the baby through the hands of different people> The earring in the former and food in the latter carries little dirt which lead to augmenting the immunity in the body of the baby. These are only very few among thousands of acharas practiced for physiological benefit.
Acharyaath paadam aadatthe
paadam sishya swamedhayaa
paadam sa brahmachaaribhya
sesham kaala kramena cha
This is an important advice given in smrttis. It means a person can get only one quarter of knowledge from acharya – the teacher, another quarter by analyzing self, one quarter by discussing with others and the last quarter during the process of living by method addition, deletion, correction, and modification of already known acharas or new acharas.
Aachaaraath labhathe hi ayu:
aachaaraath labhathe suprajaa:
aachaaro ahanthya lakshanam
Acharas are followed for the psychological and physiological health and long life; acharas are followed for prosperity and wealth; acharas are followed for strong family and social bondage and following the acharas give a fine personality, dharmic outlook and vision
Then upon arising one should cleanse their bowels…..
Vigat Ghan Nishithe Prataruthaya Nityam, Pivati Khalu Naro Yo Ghranarandhrena Vari | Sa Bhavati Mati Purnashca Kshusah Tarkshyatulyo, Vali Palita Vihina Sarvarogervimuktah
The person, who consumes water through the nose, soon after the darkness of the night is over, gains bright intellect and sharp eyesight; his hair do not become gray or white and he remains free from all diseases. The water used in ushapana may be kept at a lukewarm temperature in the winter seasons to avoid irritation in the nose/throat. The next step (after ushapana) in the daily routine is excretion of faeces (shauca).
Sushruta has mentioned about its importance as
Ayushyamushasi Proktam Maladinam Visarjanam
Excretion of the dirt inside the body in the morning before sunrise helps in maintenance of long healthy life . The Indian style of toilets is most suitable in terms of proper pressure on the legs and stomach. Excretion at the right time in the morning is important as a delay in it leads to harmful deposits of the toxic and waste substances in the body that eventually cause or support the occurrence of diseases. Everyone desirous of healthy and active body and mind should have shauca twice a day once in the morning after the atmabodha sadhana and once in the evening. Some people resist going to the toilets or urination at times against the call of nature. This should be avoided, as it is quite harmful for health. Also, care should be taken to wash hands, legs and face after each visit to the toilet. This is essential for hygiene and also for refreshing the body and mind . Because of the fast and tension-filled routine, many people have complaints of constipation or unclear stools these days. “Dantadhawana” the process of cleaning the teeth and mouth is also given significant importance. Root causes of many diseases are said to grow from dirty teeth. Teeth are like the guards sitting at the main entrance of the body. If we do not take care of our teeth through proper eating habits and cleaning, these become the hideouts of germs. The diseases of gums, formations of cavities in the teeth, toothache, etc are clear signs of the damages caused to the teeth by our negligence. Much before such manifestations, the dirt and the bacteria hidden in the teeth are carried inside the body along with whatever we eat. We must therefore follow prescribed disciplines for keeping our teeth clean and strong. Ayurveda gives due importance to teeth as the key elements of healthy body. They had recommended datuna (small pieces of soft branches of certain medicinal trees) as the best for dantadhawan. The medicinal trees/plants of Nima (margosa), Babula (acacia), Sihora (Siamese Roughbush), Khadira (Black Catechu), Kanera (Indian Oleander), Mahua (Bassia Latifolia), Arjuna (Terminalia Arjun), Badama (almond), etc are found most suitable for this purpose.
The Scriptures say:
Avekshyartum Ca Dosham Ca Rasam Virya Ca Yojayate | Kashayam Madhuram Tiktam Katukam Pratarutthitah || Nimbashca Tiktake Shreshah Kasaye Khadirastatha | Madhuko Madhure Shreshah Karanjah Katuke Thata|| -Su. Chi. A. 24
A datuna of sweet, bitter, astringent or spicy taste should be used as per the state (determined in the Ayurvedic diagnostics in terms of kratu, dosha, rasa and virya) of the teeth and general health of a person. Datuna of Nima is acrid spicy, Khadira is astringent, Mahua is sweet and Kanera is bitter in taste. Use of these strengthens and beautifies the teeth with shining glow. Sushruta has also recommended the datunas of the above kinds for different tastes and effects. Nima is generally good for every one as it eliminates the dirt and mucus in and around the teeth, gums and mouth, works as a disinfectant and removes stinking odors from the mouth. It is also important to use a datuna properly. The teeth should be brushed gently and the datuna should be pressed beneath the teeth so that its juice is extracted and spread around the teeth and gums and fills the mouth. One should sit and use the datuna with full concentration; whenever needed, the saliva or the used juice of the datuna should be spitted in a pit, bathroom-canal or washbasin without dirtying the surroundings. Usually, a datuna should be about six inches long and have thickness about that of the little finger. After brushing the teeth the datuna should be torn into two pieces at length; one portion of this should be used as a tongue-cleaner.
Cleaning of the tongue and the palate is as important as that of the teeth and the gums (as cited in the following scriptural quote):
Jihvanirlekhanam Raupayam Sauvarna Varkshameva Ca | Tanmalapaharam Shastam Madushlakshanam Dashagulam || -Su. Chi. A. 24
The tongue cleaner could be (if not of datuna) made up of gold, silver or any metal or wood but it should be soft, smooth, flexible and (long enough for proper cleaning of the tongue). In case people have problems in getting datuna every day, they may make use of (herbal) toothpaste or toothpowder. One may make use of a brush and stainless steel tongue-cleaner but the method of cleaning should be slow, consistent and long enough, as it is while using a datuna. The toothbrush should be moved upward and downward on each tooth (on the front as well as back and around). Middle finger could also be used for this purpose. The teeth should be cleaned with the help of this finger with proper gargling each time we eat something. Sometimes some particles of eatables or grains are stuck in between the teeth; in such cases, the particle should be brought out with the help of the brush or toothpick followed by thorough gargling. The teeth should also be cleaned before going to bed. Many people have a habit of drinking milk before sleep. They should be extra careful, as the deposited layers of milk, if left unclean, will invite attack of germs. Proper cleaning of the teeth, gums and mouth (including tongue and palate) in the morning and night is a healthy habit that must be adopted by every one who cares for good health.