An Ahoratra is the word used to describe 24 hrs in ayurveda, which like all Vedic sciences, provides a very scientific division of time. Dinacharya or daily schedule is the part which provides a beautifully described regular, disciplined, detailed regimen of the day for the optimal utilization of an amazing work resource of abundant energy i.e. the human body. This dinarcharya encompasses methods of the minute detoxification, rejuvenation of every single part of the body all that can be done during the day very easily to reduce ageing, maintaining energy levels, skin care, etc on a daily basis. (Watch video summary here)
- Ayurveda advises that the ideal time to wake up is Brahamamuhurutam i.e. 2 hours before sunrise, it is the most peaceful time in the morning when nature itself awakens to welcome the sun, our ultimate source of life and energy. Interestingly, Research suggests that it is time when the fewest robberies take place as it is the least time of any kind of stress making it the best time to meditate, study or research. ‘
- This is an ideal case scenario, however how you can adapt it in present setting is to wake-up with school going kids i.e. between 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. for the people who already have kids, schedule your morning in such a way that you have time for self-preparation for a busy day ahead. The point is here to have an ideal time gap between waking up and going to office to cleanse and then nourish the body.
- Splashing of water on face should be done first thing after waking up, followed by rinsing of mouth, also fill your mouth with water and splash water on the eyes, this is very effective exercise for the eyes. All this has to be done with regular room temperature water.
- Proper voiding of bowel is quite essential and allot a specific time out for this because if u feel that there is no natural urge for defecation, you may need to sleep a bit more. However if u feel proper evacuation of stool doesn’t take place on its own, taking triphala a night before will help in regularization of the schedule. It is an effective detoxifier and it is not habit forming in most cases. Most of the other laxatives available in the market are habit forming and in case of regular usage end up drying the intestinal lumen, resulting in loss of essential electrolytes. Fruits like papaya, water-melon, pomegranate, maousambi, and beetroot are excellent gastro-cleansers and should be included in the diet in case of habitual constipation.
- Cleansing the bowel first thing in the morning is mandatory for the release of toxins and to have a very light feeling. The position of squatting is very useful to relax the involuntary sphincter of the anus; one can use a small stool with the western lava oratory to improve the sitting posture on the toilet seat so as to relax the evacuating area of the lower body completely. Indians in general abide by this direction, however due to lack of proper toilet training skills in children nowadays , it has been noticed that school going children are developing unhealthy habits of afternoon cleansing of the bowel. This creates a lot of tamasic or negative energy in the body. Also if your stool is not well formed e.g. it is greasy, watery, discolored or spilt it may signify an inflammation of the digestive tract. Medical (ayurvedic) consultation should be done in these cases as there a lot of patients with chronic latent gastric infections which remain untreated for years
Cleansing the oral cavity
- Ayurveda is one of the earliest medical sciences to talk about the benefits, significance, herbs and method of brushing which is as scientific as modern dental science. Gum care and tongue scrapping are two essential factors given, which only recently have been advertized by manufacturers of oral products.
- A dental cleanser should be fibrous but not too hard to avoid injury to the gums. The cleansing medium should be mainly astringent & bitter but including a lit bit of sweetness. Kindly avoid toothpastes which are too sweet in taste.
- The usage of salt should be limited to gargling as it is an excellent cleanser for soft tissues (like gums, base of tongue etc.) of the oral cavity but should not be rubbed into the teeth. Tongue scrapping is the best remedy for anyone suffering from bad breath or frequent throat infections as a lot of debris gets deposited there.
- Our largest organ skin like any other organ needs all-around nutrition and since it is the seat of vata; external nutrition needs to be oil based since oil is the best way to pacify vata. No matter how many moisturizers one may use there is no substitute for pure natural oil.
- Oiling of the body is like a family tradition in India, for generations it has been used as a secret ingredient for beautiful skin and hair that Indians are known for in general. There is no better natural method to improve the tone of the body, increase vitality and vigor & decrease sensitivity to physical wear and tear.
- Ideally should be done every day, however thrice a week in winters and twice in summers manages the body quite well.
- Still if you are time pressed the five points should essentially be massaged with oil before taking bath. They are the naval, the sole of feet, the ears, the head (in particular the soft spot), hands and elbows. This should be part of daily or weekly chores and the earlier you start in life, the better it is for you.
- Oils that are beneficial to use are sesame-seed oil, olive oil, coconut oil, mustard oil and almond oil. Keep on changing them and we will discuss about their seasonal utility in the ritucharya chapter.
- Nasyam or clearing the nasal tract with herbal remedies is another easy to do, yet profound method of maintaining health. The nasal tract is the first entry point of air in our body therefore gets first exposure to dust, change in temperature, chemicals etc. whatever is basically polluting the air. So therefore needs to be cleansed and nourished. Nasyam is the way to do that. Many of you may be remembering how your grandma used to insist on putting oil like almond oil (badam rogan) in the nostrils especially in the winters.
- This works exceptionally well because in winters the moisture content of air goes very low so air gets dry and irritates the nasal tract, any other additional irritant like dust triggers allergic reaction causing allergic rhinitis (running nose) or allergic sinusitis (sinus, headache) which in further inflammation may lead to infection causing fever & further aggravating the symptoms.
- You may have noticed this in the month of oct-nov when winter arrives biding adieu to autumn or in feb-march upon arrival of spring many of us fall ill exhibiting these very symptoms. The best way to prevent this is to start applying anu-tailam regularly in the morning and evening, one drop into each nostril thus conditioning and cleansing the nasal passage. Please remember to do this specially in the days of changing season. If u can make a habit if doing nasyam daily, it can easily lead to improved concentration and focus, proper breathing, as the nose is considered to be the door of the head in ayurveda. ‘Nasa tu shirisho dwaram’
Humble water-your easy daily fix
- Japanese people have researched and published papers on the benefit of drinking water on an empty stomach, this easy to do detox chore is one of the main-stay of panchmahabhoot chikitsha i.e. curing through the five elements.
- What is important here to note is that the quantity of water varies from person to person also from season to season. It was very difficult to change mindset of my patients when the fashionable trend of drinking 8 litres of water per day started spreading like forest fire.
- 1 glass of water empty stomach may be enough for Kapha-prakriti people, 11/2 glass is enough for vayu-predominant prakriti and pitta people can drink upto a litre of water at room-temperature.
- Water stored overnight in a copper vessel works very well for people suffering from lack of energy. Warm-water with lemon is not advised for people suffering from acidity. It might be a questionable trend for loosing weight. I prefer plain warm water for advising to obese patients.
- Kindly avoid the vicious routine of bed-tea by replacing it with cinnamon tea (dalchini) or fennel-tea (saunf), then switch to warm water and consequently switch to glass of plain water . Bed-tea or coffee acts as a havoc to the physiological system of the body, it is one of the easiest primary observed factor in people suffering from chronic acidity, obesity, dry-cough, Vitamin-b12 deficiency, dental issues and even heart disease in some cases
- Ayurveda puts a great emphasis on having a daily workout schedule for everyone no matter the age or sex however anyone suffering from illness is exempted from this rule.
- Stretching, doing asanas, working out, walking, sexual activity and laughing all are examples of Vyayam. Vyayam or exercise creates stability to the body &mind, resistance, flexibility, agility, lightness and hunger like no other.
- It provides a natural mechanism to the body to fight Medhodusti which is related to leptin resistance, leptin is the satiety hormone produce by fat cells in the body which maintains amount of fat stored in the body. It does so by maintainting sensation of hunger and energy expenditure. In case of leptin resistance body slowly fails to respond to this mechanism thus there is excessive hunger & haphazard energy expenditure thus resulting in excessive fat storage in the body. This is the vicious circle of obesity explained time n again in ayurveda albeit using Sanskrit terms. However where there is a problem there is always a solution if we are willing to take it.
- Exercise, yoga, walking are the first steps in this process. Ancient sages continuously caution about one arena of working out that it should only be done to half to the body’s strength.
- In case of panting, gasping of breath and over-persipiration, one should relax as stamina building should be a daily phenomenon.
- Over-exercise can lead to even bigger problems than under exercising. it may lead to weakness, excessive thirst, lethargy, allergic respiratory disorders, fever, bleeding from nose etc. exercising at evening or night time tends to increase vata (air element) in the body and should be avoided.
- Many royals and not just of Indian origin were very diligent about their bathing rituals, there are folklores of Cleopatra using goat’s milk, rose & aloe Vera for bathing herself, many ayurvedic texts contain substantial information about various combination for bathing containing sandalwood, red sandal, milk, jasmine, champa, amla, reetha etc. for bathing as some of those texts were written for Rajaas.
- Bathing in a way is a sensory pleasure for the sense of touch, a meditative process, why only sit and meditate when it is meditation in motion. It is said in Sanskrit that it is ideal to bathe like an elephant, which loves water and enjoys it whole-heartedly.
- Water carries a lot of energy in it depending upon area of sourcing like mountain water which is very restorative. Always check the temperature of water on legs first.
- The Vedic way of bathing suggests using water at higher temperature for area below the naval, at medium temperature for between the naval and shoulders and at a lower temperature for face and the head as these are areas of vata, pitta and kapha respectively.
- Alum is a very effective natural deodorizer & disinfectant which can be used in the water reservoir or rubbing upon sweat prone areas.
- One of our most resplendent sciences, yoga has been seen through the eyes of the western world which has embraced it and made it its own. Yoga means the realization of the union of the body and mind. All asanas are a part of yoga , however yoga encompasses eight parts or angas that is why it is also called astanga yoga . asanas is only 1 part of that. These asana should be done only to one capacity of flexibility and should be gradually increased in difficulty. The basic aim is to relieve stress on various sections by relieving pressure, stretching and relaxing. The accumulated toxins in even the minutest muscle mass of the body gets eliminated. The internal organs tend to release their secretions at aappopriate time and adequate quantity.
- Pranayama is the adept balance of prana and apana vayu i.e. energies on the top and bottom part of the body. This is achieved by practicing rhythmic breathing eexercises to ensure premium oxygenation of the body and eliminating toxins particularly from the respiratory and cardiac faculties of the body.
- Dhyana or Meditation is neither contemplation nor concentration as is perceived by many. It is mere thoughtlessness of the mind. Upon emptying the mind, one achieves the control of losing the sense of self without going to sleep. It is silent alertfulness and dynamic peace of the mind. It can be done by everybody with or without the help of a guru. It should be practiced daily at least for 10 mins in morning and in the evening.
- Uddavartanam or udhgarshanam or ubatan has been an intergral part of the ancient beauty regime. Its importance in todays world becomes even more in cities where the amount of sub-particulate is so high that it tends to deposit between the pores of the skin thereby increasing the proncity to blackheads, acne etc. it should be done atleast once a week.
- One of easy to make uddavartanam recipe is chokker aata(whole wheat) 1 part, oat meal (1part), Turmeric (1/8 part), Malai (1/2 part), Coconut oil (1/2 part), aloe vera gel (optional esp for acne porne skin (1/2 part) and rose water to keep the moisture intact. This should be applied with gentle small circular motions and washed off after half an hour to get rid of blemishes, marks and unwanted hair.
- Little things like combing, cutting nails and hair are clearly mentioned in acharya(routine care) as even though they might seem like unimportant chores yet they end up defining the standard of hygiene and health.
- One might deduce that the substantial importance on personal hygiene ayurveda has laid upon has a greater purpose than only outer beauty.
- ‘Body is the temple of mind” the realization of one’s self and the realization of the higher self both are going to be achieved through the medium of the physical body.
- Personal grooming instills a lot of personal confidence good skin care and hair care regime makes the first impression of health. We live in a visual world where we have been programmed that looking good (that too in a certain way defined by the latest fashion) is a sure-shot way of success by never-ending advertisements from cosmetic companies.
- It is actually the feel good part, feeling settled in one own body that radiance is not even comparable to all the cosmetics in the world.
- The most important meal of the day, what you have in the breakfast ends up defining your whole day. Rushing to office having breakfast while driving, eating while standing all these little things seem very unimportant during the daily chores but they make you carve for caffeinated drinks because of the lack of energy in the body due to an improper assimilation of breakfast.
- Food is a process of taking in energy from nature, it is the Bhautik (physical) aspect of the energy chain so if breakfast is hurried, there is unsatisfied craving for the bhautik that may linger on. Interestingly Bhautik also symbolizes consumerism so not just from the food aspect, but also one might end up craving for materialistic things like a car, a dress or may be jewel. You might end up making a totally irrational decision and taking a risk. So therefore breakfast is that important yes that important.
- The ground rule here is to take something sweet in the morning and by sweet I do not mean ice-cream, I mean any food that has natural sugars but medium or low on glycemic index. That means it should have an instant as well as slow-release of glucose in the body to keep you active throughout the day.
- Sweet or madhura rasa is one that produces a sense of satiety & satisfaction. This feeling of completeness is required in the morning as body goes through through required hours of fasting. Traditionally having a sweet breakfast is known as Naivedyam in south-india and kaleva in the northern India.
- There is potent nushkha that I advise all my patients and have seen marvelous results with i.e. 5 almonds, 1 dry fig, 1 walnut and 4 raisins soaked for half and hour and to be eaten first thing in the morning. This combination is a sure-shot solution for vitamin deficiencies, cholesterol issues and works wonders for diabetics. People suffering from chronic back pain (after undergoing treatment for inflammation) can be maintained only on this formula and have seen great recoveries with this.
- Other breakfast super-foods include honey, ripened coconut, coconut water, oats. These should be included off and on in your diet. Please take care of the quantity of breakfast as it should be of half or three-fourths of your full-stomach. Avoid fried in the morning as it might make you sleepy in the day
- There is no medical science in the world that talks about the emphasis of working. The famous karma theory comprises not only the principle ‘you shall reap what you sow’ but also that ‘karma is supreme’. The human-being is bestowed with the largest brain amongst all living animals for this very purpose.
- We are here for a specific work, there are glorified examples how a single leader or single human might shape the world, or how a teacher might shape the life of a student or how a mother takes care of her child. Each and every effort is equally important as it is the little droplets that fill the ocean.
- There is a universal tradition of thanking god in case of something good happening and calling him in case of something bad happening, both these calls are for the unknown. The unknown can be related to someone somewhere doing a deed that is of some good to you. The gratefulness is for this unknown karma. Therefore every human on this planet must work it doesn’t necessarily state that every human must have a profession which pays him financially, yet he must work daily. Volunteer for the environment, feed the birds, water a plant or take care of an animal. These all are our responsibilities even if we don’t feel responsible. Economic and social development without keeping these principles in policy have led to disasters.
- Karma theory also states that each work should be done with undivided attention and diligence to achieve maximum efficiency. There is greatness waiting to unravel itself when work becomes meditation. If you do what you love and if you love what you do, there is unbounded creativity waiting for you. Multi-tasking (though quite-famous nowadays) is not the ideal-case scenario. One thing to be done at one time. There is no substitute for training and discipline as fortune indeed favors the brave.
- The word yoga has been described in the Bhagvad gita as Yogah to karmasu kaushalam i.e. doing each work with absolute skill is yoga. So working with a restful mind makes one a yogi.