Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Ayurvedic Protocols Used For Cerebral Palsy

 

For many sitting here reading this blog, the ability to readjust to a comfortable position, sit still, move the eyes side to side, and scroll with the fingers, often goes unnoticed. The motor function from the brain through the nerves into the muscle tissue is so harmonious that we do not notice this order and ease in daily living. For many others, however, this is not the case. 

    Cerebral Palsy (CP) is an impaired motor function disorder commonly diagnosed in many children. “Cerebral” refers to the brain and “palsy” refers to weakness or issues using the muscles. The symptoms of CP vary depending on the severity in each individual. For example, one person may walk awkwardly and another may not be able to walk at all. There are four main types: Spastic, Dyskinetic, Ataxic, and mixed. 

    Spastic CP is the most common, effecting 80% of individuals with CP. Spastic CP is characterized by increased muscle tone (stiffness) resulting in awkward movements. Individuals with dyskinetic CP are unable to control the movement of their limbs making it difficult to sit and walk. Individuals with Ataxic CP have impaired balance and coordination. And lastly, individuals with mixed CP have symptoms of more than one type of CP. The most common mixed-CP disorder is spastic-dyskinetic. 

    Many of us without a disability often take easy and controlled movement for granted. There are, however, a number of methods to decrease the severity of symptoms and increase the quality of life for an individual with CP, including Ayurvedic treatments. Looking at CP from an Ayurvedic perspective, the predominant energy, or dosha, of the disorder is vata which constitutes vitality and governs all movement processes. Therefore, vata balancing treatments will help to reduce the symptoms of CP. These treatments which help balance the doshas and reduce the symptoms of CP include: Udhvartana or Abhyanga Massages and Pinda Swedana; Therapeutic Bolas Applications or Nadi Swedana described below.

    Udhvartana is a dry powder massage which improves muscle tone and circulation. For individuals with CP, Udhvartana reduces spasticity, brings lightness to the body, and relieves pain. Abhyanga (oil massage) strengthens the muscle and improves muscle tone as well, aiding in the reduction of spasticity. Pinda Swedana, on the other hand, uses a cloth bolas filled with cooked plants, medicinal herbs, milk, and rice, which is then massaged over the entire body. This therapeutic treatment stimulates the nerve endings and nourishes the muscles. Following the heat massage, the individual undergoes Swedana, or herbal steam, which excretes the toxins out of the skin through sweating. Therefore, Pinda Swedana gives the individual with CP a bit more control over muscle movement and a renewed sense of freshness and vitality in the body. 

    It is unfortunate that there is no cure for Cerebral Palsy, however, there are numerous methods which help reduce the symptoms and increase the quality of life for individuals with CP. The ancient science of Ayurveda is designed to bring total harmony to the entire body and mind using natural remedies. While it remedies specific limitations caused by Cerebral Palsy, Ayurvedic treatments bring an overall sense of peace and harmony into the individual’s life.  

ChayaVeda Ayurvedic Massage and Bodywork Program offers training in individual modalities or learn them all and become a Certified Ayurvedic Massage & Bodywork Specialist.

Our next Pinda Swedana module is January 22, 2022
Watch a video about our Pinda Swedana Module
Our next Abhyanga module is February 5 & 6, 2022
Our next Udhvartana & Nadi Swedana module is February 19 & 20, 2022
Early bird registration is typically until 1 month before the program start date.
Watch a video about our Ayurvedic Massage & Bodywork Program

Learn more or register.

Resources for this article:




Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Ayurveda for Healthy Sinuses

 

It’s estimated that over 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from allergies each year. While many people automatically reach for over the counter medicine, the ancient practice of Ayurveda, instead, outlines multiple natural remedies for allergies. Shiro-Abhyanga-Nasya (SAN) is highly effective treatment for Sinusitis, or sinus congestion. It includes a head, neck, face and shoulder massage that stimulates the lymph in the head and helps drain the sinuses. Eucalyptus steam is administered along with medicated nose drops. The whole treatment is about 50-60 minutes and brings clarity and purity to not only the sinuses, but the entire body and mind. 

To fully understand how Sinus/SAN works, we first must understand a little bit about the sinuses. Sinusitis, or sinus congestion, is categorized by the inflammation of sinuses (air spaces) located behind the forehead, nasal bones, cheeks, and nose. There are four types of sinuses: frontal sinuses above the eyes, ethmoid sinuses behind the nose bridge and between the eyes, maxillary sinuses in the cheek bones, and sphenoid sinuses in the upper nose and behind the eyes. All four sinuses open into the nose and join the nasal passageway through a continuous mucus membrane. The sinuses are responsible for maintaining pressure, air filtration, air circulation, and internal balance, as well as provide protection of the skull through shock absorption. Although sinus blockage can be caused by anything such as the shape of one’s septum, it is most commonly acquired from allergies and common colds, and from the Ayurvedic perspective low agni/digestive capacity and/or accumulation of ama/toxins and stagnation.    

The first portion of Sinus/SANs treatment is Shiro Abhyanga, a head, neck, face, and shoulder massage followed by a facial lymphatic massage. This portion of treatment lasts about 15-30 minutes. Shiro-Abhyanga drains, opens, and clears the impurities in the sinuses. Following Shiro-Abhyanga comes Nasya, which means nose and refers to herbalized nasal drops, followed by an aromatic steam, which further facilitates the cleansing and removal of accumulated fluids in the sinuses and improves agni/ama. With all of the sinuses connected to the nasal passageway, Nasya is an essential part of SAN treatment. Nasya Oil soothes and protects the nasal passage while nourishing the tissues and is made with a variety of Ayurvedic herbs to balance prana and one’s constitution. Depending on the severity of symptoms and the person’s constitution and condition, there are multiple different types of Nasya preparations, varying in dosage, and each bringing about a fortitude of benefits.

The entire SAN treatment brings about a balanced flow of air and prana through the whole body. Prana is the subtle life force energy stored within the body, primarily from the nasal breath. Healthy uncongested breathing is important to ensure proper flow of prana throughout the head and body. A smooth flow of prana ensures healthy living by promoting an energized body and clear and calm mind. The benefits of Shiro-Abhyagnga-Nasya, therefore, extend far beyond the sinuses and physical body, but instill complete harmony of the body, mind, and soul.  

The same is true for Pranayama, or the control of prana flow through breathing exercises. Kapalabhati, also known as the skull-shining breath, is extremely beneficial for sinus blockages. Kapalabhati focuses on the exhalation and with passive inhalation through the nose. You may want to have a tissue nearby because this practice efficiently clears out the nasal passages of excess mucus. Other benefits include balanced circulation bringing cleansing and nourishment to the tissues, purification of the lungs, strengthening of the abdominal muscles, regulating the nervous system and calming the mind. 

Everyone who has experienced sinus congestion knows how much blocked sinuses affects their quality of life. A clear nasal passageway, healthy uncongested breathing, and drained sinuses are the keys to clear and healthy living. Ayurveda outlines a number of treatments and daily practices to keep the breath and prana flowing freely, like SAN and Pranayama.   

Our next Sinus/SANS program is December 11, 2021. Learn more here. 

https://www.ayurvedabansko.com/sinusitis-treatment-with-ayurveda/ 

10 Ways to Beat Allergies with Ayurveda | Kripalu

Friday, October 1, 2021

Ayurveda for Obesity Part IV: The Ayurvedic Diet


“May the food we are eating make us aware of the interconnections between the universe and us, the earth and us, and all other living species and us. 
Because each bite contains in itself the life of the sun and the earth, may we see the meaning and value of life from these precious morsels of food.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Diet is a major factor contributing to the health of the body and the mind. One of the main causes of obesity is unhealthy eating habits including overeating and eating unhealthy foods. We sometimes get so carried away indulging into the taste of food, that we often forget the purpose of eating, to maintain healthy functioning of the body and mind. Learning how to evenly balance the specific nutritional needs with delicious flavors is key in the Ayurvedic diet and healthy living. 

Before diving into what specific foods to eat according to the Ayurvedic diet for obesity, we first must understand general guidelines on how to eat. These guidelines help us to create healthy habits for consumption. Some of these include: 

  • Eat only when you feel hungry 
  • Eat at a moderate pace, not too fast or too slow 
  • Eat freshly cooked meals whenever possible 
  • Wait until one meal is digested before eating the next one (Intervals of 2-4 hours for light meals, and 4-6 hours for full meals) 
  • Leave 1/3 to 1⁄4 of your stomach empty to aid digestion 
  • Eat your largest meal at lunch around noon time when digestion is strongest 
  • Give Thanks 

It is recommended for someone looking to lose weight to first follow these guidelines before cutting calories. “You will be surprised to find that your excess weight is caused not just by what you’ve been eating but by how you’ve been eating it – carelessly or compulsively, on the run instead of sitting down, between meals instead of at regular hours. There are simple things, of course, but they make a big difference.” (ChayaVeda Ayurvedic Yoga Immersion Manual). 

An important guideline to note is the difference between the breakfast and lunch meals compared to dinner. Breakfast and lunch should be fuller meals, lunch being the larger meal around noon, while dinner is on the lighter side not later than 6 or 7pm. The dinner meal should be healthy and simple while still delightful to the taste buds. Because humans do not produce much bile at night to digest food, the meal should be easy to digest. The later you eat, the lighter the meal needs to be. 

Ayurveda’s essential focus when eating is mindfulness. This means savoring every bite, feeling the textures, tasting both the obvious and the subtle notes of flavor, and bringing awareness into how the body feels during and after consumption. Mindful eating aids in digestion by eating at a natural rhythm, alerts us to stop eating when full, expands our intuition on suitable food choices, and brings a sense of connection with our food and the earth which gives rise to our food. Mindful eating supports wellness and may also promote weight loss.

Our body’s intuition is a strong guidance system that gives us many signs about what and how we consume. Listening to and honoring the body’s communication helps us live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Sometimes certain foods don’t seem to sit right in our stomachs, this is a sign that either the food is not right for us and/or our metabolism or digestive fire (agni) is disturbed, making the food toxic to the body at that moment. That does not necessarily mean that the food itself is toxic, but rather the body’s way of simply telling us that whatever was consumed was not needed to support the body’s current state. 

Ayurveda provides guidelines to help us choose the right foods and combinations of food to avoid feelings of unsettled digestion. Ayurveda provides ways of improving metabolism and lists of incompatible foods to avoid eating together. For example, not mixing dairy with fish, eggs or meat, not mixing raw foods with cooked foods, as they are incompatible. Another example is fruits, which should be eaten alone with the exception of apples, pears, dates, and coconuts. Incompatible foods are those that do not digest properly when consumed together, creating undigested food that leads to the production of toxins (ama), clogging the channels in the body and mind, hindering digestion, slowing metabolism and resulting in imbalance and disease.  

Individuals with obesity are likely to be experiencing a kapha-imbalance, as explained in  previous parts of this blog series, so the individual should consume foods which reduce kapha and balance the doshas. The kapha-individual should consume vegetables and foods that are pungent and bitter, such as broccoli, collards, and asparagus. All spices are great to reduce kapha, except salt. Honey, raw and unprocessed, is a suitable sweetener for these individuals as it is hot, astringent and dry. The kapha-predominant individual should avoid sweet, sour and salty tastes, packaged, frozen, cold, deep-fried, heavy, fermented and processed foods. They should avoid eating large quantities of food at one time and avoid eating at night, favoring foods that are pungent, bitter and astringent, that are also light and dry. Below is an example and recipe of a kapha-reducing meal, Mung Dal Kitchari

Mung Dal Kitchari - KAPHA
Serves up to 4-6 – V↓, P↓, K↓

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup yellow split mung dal
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 3 tbsp. ghee
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 small pieces cinnamon bark
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 whole cardamom pods
  • 6 cups water
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Directions: 

  • Wash the mung dal and rice twice. Soak the dal for a few hours, if you have time.
  • Heat a saucepan on medium and add the ghee. When it is hot, put it in the bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and stir until the spices are mixed and fragrant. 
  • Mix in the rice, dal, salt, and water. Cook at a low boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat until the dal and rice are soft, about 25-30 minutes. 

*This kitchari recipe is tridoshic, but especially good for kapha because of the warming and pungent qualities of the spices.  

While in Western culture, weight reduction is focused on fad-diets and cutting calories, the Ayurvedic approach focuses on eating whole foods that induce balance and harmony within the body and mind, based on each individual’s unique constituents. Because our body and personality are constantly changing, how, when, and what we eat should also change to cater to our needs. Eating based on the blend of dosha imbalance, intuition, and mindfulness leads to the removal of obesity and disease and in turn promotes radiant health of the body and mind. 

Check our resource page for an AMA Questionnaire to see more about what symptoms let you know if you are accumulating AMA, and another recipe for AMA Reducing Dahl.

Happy eating! 

Ayurvedic Diet: Pros, Cons, and What You Can Eat


Saturday, September 25, 2021

Ayurveda For Obesity Part 3; Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy

 


            Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences of Self Realization derived from the Vedas, the oldest literature to exist. Yoga, stemming from the Sanskrit syllable “yug”, means to “yoke” or to unite. Yoga is the union of our limiting adjuncts (body, mind, and senses with the True Immortal Self, or the soul. Ayurveda literally translates to Life (Ayur) Knowledge beyond ordinary perception (Veda), where Life is defined as the “integration of the four parts of life--body, senses, mind and soul. Therefore, we understand Yoga and Ayurveda to be one in the same, both the means and the end to Self-discovery through integration.

            Through purification of the body, mind, and senses, all pain, suffering, and disease, of both the body and mind, are removed and the Truth of “Who am I?” is revealed. Ayurveda specifically defines this purification as being: “doshas balanced, dhatus (tissues) well formed, malas (waste products) excreting properly, and has a bright shining soul.” The purification process through Yoga integrates the four paths of Yoga into our daily life to harmonize the four aspects of our personality with the nature of the soul. The four paths are: Karma Yoga (the purification of action), Bhakti Yoga (the purification of emotion into Absolute Devotion), Jnana Yoga (the purification of intellect into Intuition), and Raja Yoga (the purification of personal will into Divine will through meditation).

            In the West, however, Yoga is mainly centered around the asanas, or poses. The asanas fall under Hatha Yoga, also known as Ashtanga Yoga, translating to 8-limbs Yoga. This is the physical practice of Yoga resulting in “chitta, vritti, nirodha”, removal of the fluctuations of the mind, according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Alongside the other three paths of yoga, Raja Yoga, or the royal yoga, occurs as we move through Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi, which are essential to purify the body, mind, and senses. The 8 limbs of Patanjali's Raja Yoga include:

1.      Yamas -- external restraints

2.      Niyamas -- internal observances

3.      Asanas -- poses

4.      Pranayama -- breathing exercises

5.      Pratyahara -- withdraw of senses

6.      Dharana -- mental concentration

7.      Dhyana -- meditation or unbroken mental focus

8.      Samadhi -- Super conscious state of Oneness  

While there are thousands of asanas, pranayama exercises, and methods for mental concentration and meditation, Ayurveda tailors every healing modality and physical yoga practice to harmonize the imbalances of each specific individual. This individual tailoring is designed to balance the doshas and resonate with the individual to bring radiant health to the body and mind. The doshas, as explained in part one of this series, are the elements and constitutional nature that make-up and govern the biological functions and structure of every human being and all of nature. Kapha-imbalanced individuals are more likely to develop obesity due to their tendencies to overeat, oversleep, and feel slow, stagnant, lazy, depressed, sleepy, and so on and have a larger structure and slower metabolism. Therefore, it is suitable for the practitioner to practice certain asanas, pranayama exercises, and types of meditation and in ways that target Kapha imbalances.

To decrease kapha, the asanas are to be held longer with awareness brought to the physical body, the earth, and the props used, mixed with more active and stimulating movements. Standing poses, inversions, backward bending poses, and vinyasa flows with stimulating music are all great for decreasing kapha. Sun Salutation is a highly beneficial asana series to reverse kapha imbalances. It increases heat in the body, thereby stimulating agni, the digestive fire and metabolism and relieves mental sluggishness and lethargy, energizing the whole body. It stimulates the thyroid gland, which plays a prominent role in growth, nutrition, and metabolism.  Every asana is designed to reap plentiful benefits to all bodily systems. Therefore, regular practice of asanas rejuvenates and renews the body, and naturally decreases obesity.

Pranayama is the most beneficial aspect of Raja yoga for individuals with obesity to practice. The breath is the connecting link between the mind and body, through the nervous system. A few benefits of pranayama include increased energy, circulation, improved health and mental clarity…basically creating a great environment for us to continue healthy living. Prana is the vital life force in all living things and “yama” means control. Our thoughts are also made up of subtle prana, so when we control prana in the breath, we also control the clutter in the mind. When the flow of prana is imbalanced in the body, toxins accumulate. The first step in Ayuredic Yoga therapy for kapha is to detox, or to reduce by removing excess toxins through the use of Brhamana practices and a focus on inhalation and holding after inhalation, which increases heat and energy, stimulating metabolism and reducing or removing those excess toxins. Through regular practice of pranayama, we increase the uptake, storage, and regulation of prana, creating harmony between the mind and body. Bhastrika Pranayama is a wonderful pranayama exercise for kapha imbalances. This breathing exercise is categorized by pumping of the belly for strong inhalation with arm movements and can be stronger with the addition of breath retention after inhalation. Some benefits to Bhastrika include cleansed nasal passage, lungs, and entire respiratory system, elimination of excess mucus, increased richness of blood, improved digestion, and increased feelings of alertness and energy.

Those kapha-type individuals need that alertness in their meditation practices. Due to their personal tendencies, kapha-imbalanced individuals tend to avoid meditation, limiting them to the physical plane and making it difficult to move out of the imbalance. Therefore, guided meditations, sound meditation, and mantra meditation with loud chanting and movement should be practiced regularly.

Ayurvedic Yoga therapy outlines specific mudras (hand gestures), mantras (cosmic energy encased in sound), and affirmations (positive statements that restructure thoughts) to practice for each specific doshic imbalance. Sleepiness, for example, is a common indicator of kapha-imbalance. To overcome this imbalance, the individual should practice Jnana Mudra by connecting the thumb and pointer finger to increase inner perception, practice Tadasana or mountain pose, chant the mantra “Om Jaagarat Namaha,” and repeat the affirmation, “I am awake to the ever new and exciting journey of life.”

Ayurvedic science also incorporates various subtle healing modalities into the practice of Yoga. These include color therapy, crystals, aromatherapy, and mantras. Individuals with kapha-imbalances would benefit, for example, by using red, orange, yellow, or gold color therapy, cinnamon or sage aromatherapy, and the mantras “HUM,” “OM,” and “AIM.” These subtle modalities increase and maintain health of the body and mind. Ayurveda outlines three important keys to life as well. These are food, sleep, and sexual energy. Food and diet will be discussed in detail in the next blog in this series, however, poor sleep has similar effects as poor diet, weight gain, lethargy, and laziness. Control of sexual energy, called Brahmacharya, balances the mind and allows the individual to gain True Knowledge of the Self. As we control the senses in all their aspects, we can live a much healthier balanced life. Detaching from the pleasures of the senses and withdrawing the senses inward (pratyahara) to realize the Divinity of the soul, allows us to stop abusing the senses. For example, it becomes natural to eat only when hungry, not just because you know the chocolate cake tastes good and will make you feel good temporarily.

Although it takes purification of the body, mind, and senses to reach the goal of Yoga and Ayurveda, by realizing our true nature, once the goal is attained, the purification, health, and balance of the entire person is easily maintained. Our suffering, imbalances, and diseases of the mind and body stem from our own ignorance of who we are. Thus, realizing Truth, through Yoga and Ayurveda, aligns us with that Truth and brings clarity and harmony to every aspect of our being. 

Resources taken from The ChayaVeda Ayurveda and Yoga Immersion Course Manual, Chaya~Sharon Heller.

To learn more consider our Ayurveda & Yoga Immersion or personal Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy Session. Contact us with your interest.


Friday, September 17, 2021

Ayurveda for Obesity -- Part II: Shirodhara

 

In order to treat a disorder properly and effectively, it is essential for us to understand the components attributing to that disorder. Obesity, a common issue for much of the population, is categorized as an excess amount of body fat, but there are a number of factors contributing to that excess. The obvious and “direct” contributing factors include unhealthy eating habits, hormone imbalances, and sedentarism. The less obvious, or indirect, factors however, constitute a much longer list. Udhvartana, discussed in part one of this blog series, is a direct approach in which herbs and oils are rubbed on the skin to metabolize and liquify those excess fat cells. While Udhvartana treats obesity directly, there are a number of Ayurvedic modalities that indirectly treat obesity by remedying the indirect or more subtle causes.

Shirodhara (similar to a relaxing 7 day getaway in about 45 minutes) directly relieves a number of disorders such as headaches, migraines, insomnia, jet lag, PTSD, memory loss, anxiety, hypertension, diabetes, auto-immune conditions, and the main attraction of this blog... depression! I know, not the most uplifting topic, yet it is necessary to understand, because when depression no longer depletes our mental energy, obesity is also likely to be cured. A survey revealed that 43 percent of adults with depression were also obese. Over-all, adults with depression are more likely to be obese than those without depression. So, what is the connecting link between the two? Individuals who suffer from depression are likely to overeat, make poor food choices, and live a more sedentary lifestyle. Additionally, weight gain is a common side effect in many depression medications.

  The clear link between depression and obesity aids in the understanding of Shirodhara as a treatment for obesity. Now let’s explore what Shirodhara actually is. “Shiro” means head and “dhara” is the pouring of a substance onto points on the body. This treatment is categorized by pouring substances, most often herbal oils over the forehead in order to reduce stress, treat depression, anxiety, mental fatigue, and awaken to the essence of who we are. Shirodhara soothes and nourishes the brain cells and peripheral nerves through the skin, resulting in a tranquilized and stabilized mind. There are various types of Shirodhara based on the liquids used. These can include, but are not limited to, oils, milk, herb decoctions, ghee, buttermilk or coconut water, chosen according to the constitution and condition of the client. One session lasts for about 45-60 minutes, including a head, neck and face massage. For maximum benefits and it is recommended to receive Shirodhara every day for 7 days to a maximum of four weeks. 

      From start to finish, the procedure is relaxing and rejuvenating. Shirodhara begins with a five to ten minute head, neck and shoulder massage, and sometimes a full body massage if needed, based on the individuals’ condition and concerns. The client lies on their back on the Shirodhara/massage table. A small pillow or cloth is placed under the neck and a covering placed over the eyes for comfort and support. The Shirodhara pot is then positioned 4-6 inches above the client so that the oil falls onto the forehead in a steady stream. The Ayurvedic therapist then puts the oil into the pot and starts pouring onto the individual’s forehead. This is a continuous pouring from one side of the forehead to the other. Meanwhile, the individual receiving treatment enjoys the relaxation that naturally comes with the sensations. The oils are recollected, reheated, and re-administered, the oil is wiped off from the forehead and the individual rests on the table for a few minutes. The time of the treatment and the rest period are adjusted according to the person, the longer the treatment, the longer the rest period.

    Shirodhara is good for brain health and nourishment, and soothing and calming the nervous system, by synchronizing brain waves, stilling the mind, enhancing blood circulation to the brain, nourishing the hair and scalp and aiding in the release of stress and tension, it is energizing yet relaxing.  

            Although Shirodhara soothes the mind from the sensations, there is a scientific process that induces the benefits. The back and forth motion of pouring the oil synchronizes brain waves, enhancing blood circulation to the brain that nourishes the brain, and is soothing and calming the nervous system. Complimentary to this relaxation, stress is also reduced as a result of the serotonin secretion in the head. As the sensations in the head pass through the nerves and calm the brain, serotonin levels in the brain increase even more, decreasing mental stress and depression. Additionally, by opening the pathways in the brain, the body is able to deliver nutrients more effectively, aligning the body and mind resulting in our experience of ourselves at our source and with the nature of the soul, feeling calm, healthy, and peaceful. Over-all, Shirodhara positively affects our mood. And when we feel good mentally, we are more likely to feel less stressed, and make healthier choices for the body, including healthy weight loss. 

To learn more about our Shirodhara courses visit ChayaVeda School of Massage or our personal wellness services. 


Shirodhara Massage Treatment, Procedure, Oils & Benefits (ayurtimes.com)
Depression: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and More (healthline.com)


Friday, September 10, 2021

Ayurveda for Obesity -- Part I: Urdhvartana Powder Massage



Obesity is a pressing and increasing concern for the health and well being of all. Defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation, obesity ranks as the fifth leading risk for global deaths. According to OSHA, 2.8 million people die from obesity or obesity related conditions each year. Unfortunately, obesity is one of the very few conditions in which there is no magical cure or quick-fix pill for. Thankfully, however, Ayurvedic healing provides us with multiple modalities to actually treat obesity... naturally! In this blog, we will explore the Ayurvedic modality called Udhvartana -- what it is, how the treatment is performed, and how exactly it remedies obesity.   


Unlike Western medicinal and therapeutic practices, Ayurvedic remedies are tailored to meet the needs of the unique qualities of each individual. So, in order to fully understand the science behind Udhvartana, we first must understand the type of individual the treatment is designed for. In the universe there are three life forces, called doshas, which intermix to create the characteristics of each unique human being. The doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Udhvartana contains healing properties specifically for Kapha type individuals, who are more prone to develop obesity. This is because the Kapha dosha becomes prominent when earth and water elements meet and elevate vitiate beyond a healthy amount and condition, creating a heavy, slow, sluggish, cold, damp and dense combination of qualities. Therefore, overeating, insufficient exercise, excessive sleep, slow metabolism, and water retention are common tendencies for the out of balance kapha type person. 


Udhvartana addresses the accumulated or vitiated Kapha properties, by the alleviation of excess water, and Shoshana properties, absorption. The treatment consists of a full body massage with the use of dry herbal powder and sometimes with the addition of flour and oils. The massage therapist lightly massages the body in an upward direction and opposite the direction of the hair with each body part placed in their respective positions. Thirty to forty five minutes is all it takes for this treatment to work its magic! The massage is followed by either a steam bath or hot shower. Benefits to Udhvartana include: stimulation of fat cell metabolism, decreasing subcutaneous fat by inducing heat and excessive sweating, that also tones the skin and underlying muscle, and gives a good sturdy figure. The specific techniques used in Udhvartana to target and remedy kapha type qualities creates a more effective remedy for weight loss than attempted remedies in the West. 


We now have an understanding of what Udhvartana is and the benefits it reaps, but how exactly does it work? Store Jiva explains, “When the herbal powders and oils are rubbed on the skin with a specific action it opens the pores, removes blockages in the vessels, increases heat in the tissues, and stimulates fat metabolism.” As the pores open, the herbal oil percolates deep into the skin and liquefies the fat. Unlike any “weight loss pill” at a drug store which you have no idea what it’s doing to your body, Ayurvedic treatments leave you feeling comfortable and confident about the science behind the treatment and what is actually happening within your body.     


In a case study, the results of a therapeutic program that includes Urdhvartana prove its steady effectiveness. A 36 year old woman, overweight, was experiencing laziness, fluid retention, high blood pressure, food cravings, anxiety, breathlessness walking up stairs, and dizziness. After one round of treatment of Udhvartana she lost 5 kg (11 lbs) and after a year of treatments she lost a total of 10 kg (22 pounds.) Her body fat percentage dropped from 40.68% to 38.64% after one treatment and after one year continued dropping to 36.47%. Her, along with many other’s body composition statistics clearly shows how beneficial Ayurveda, particularly Urdhvartana, is for treating obesity. 


To learn more about your dosha use our dosha questionnaire and schedule an Ayurvedic Consultation with Chaya. To learn more about Udhvartana and our Ayurvedic Massage & Bodywork courses visit ChayaVeda School of Massage.


MANAGING OBESITY WITH AYURVEDA | Ayurveda Kenya

Ayurveda-Test (kostenlos) | euroved

Udvartana (Ayurveda Powder Massage): A Review Article | Request PDF (researchgate.net)

Udvartana Therapy - Lose weight and control diabetes (jiva.com)

https://www.womenbuddha.com/udvartana/


Sunday, April 11, 2021

Ayurvedic Medicine and Oral Health Care


When people think of Ayurveda, the field of oral health may not come to mind. However, dentistry is included in its Shalakya Tantra, which means system of surgery. Techniques such as chewing sticks and oil pulling have been used since Ancient India and have proven benefits for overall oral health.

In the Ayurvedic practice, chewing sticks are recommended to prevent diseases. Its recommended dose is every morning and after every meal. The sticks contain herbs that can either be described as ‘kashaya’ (astringent), ‘katu’ (acrid), or ‘tikta’ (bitter) in taste. Chewing sticks are also made from fresh stems of plants taken from a healthy tree. These plants can range from, but not limited to liquorish, cutch tree, margosa and milkweed plant. Aside from the fact that the stems have anti-bacterial properties, chewing on the stems cause a lot of salivary secretion, allowing plaque control. 

The type of chewing stick that is most beneficial to the user is determined by their respective dosha. Vata is prone to developing receding gums, Kapha is prone to having pale and hypertrophic gums and Pitta is prone to inflammation and benefits from chewing sticks with a bitter taste. The concept is similar to brushing one’s teeth, however the stick is chewed instead. 

Directions to use a chewing stick: crush one end, chew it, and eat it slowly. 

There are also studies that have shown that neem extract found in Ayurvedic tooth powders/pastes cause fewer dental cavities in children. Mango leaf is also a popular tactic to help fight against dental cavities. It’s common to wash and fold the leaf into a cylindrical pack and rub it on the teeth as well as a tongue cleaner. Mango leaves contain a compound called mangiferin, which helps fight against certain strains of pneumococci, streptococci, staphylococci, and lactobacillus acidophilus.

Oil pulling” is another technique used in Ayurveda medicine to improve oral health. This concept involves swishing oil in your mouth. The oil used is typically sunflower or sesame oil. Sesame oil has many benefits such as being anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory, it is high in antioxidants, improves cardiovascular health and aids controlling blood sugar. Oil pulling has been known to help with headaches, diabetes and asthma. This technique is beneficial to those who have gum disease, mouth ulcers, fever, indigestion, or have the tendency to vomit while brushing their teeth. Studies compared oil pulling with sesame oil vs. chlorhexidine mouthwash, a prescriptive germicidal mouthwash primarily used by dentists. It was found that oil pulling showed a reduced amount of plaque.

The realm of holistic medicine is very vast and one that people can benefit greatly from incorporating into their daily routine. 

References:

Singh, Abhinav, and Bharathi Purohit. “Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine vol. 2,2 (2011): 64-8. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.82525

Shanbhag VK. Oil pulling for maintaining oral hygiene - A review. J Tradit Complement Med. 2016 Jun 6;7(1):106-109. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.05.004. PMID: 28053895; PMCID: PMC5198813.