Abhyanga: Ayurvedic Oil Massage – Healing & Nourishing Ritual | Dylan Smith #090

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Abhyanga: Ayurvedic oil massage, is one of the most popular and impactful treatments & practices in Ayurveda.

Abhyanga should not only be considered a treatment that is occasionally performed by a trained therapist, but also as one of the essential practices and integral parts of the Ayurvedic dinacaryā (daily routine).

The Ayurvedic sacred texts (Śastras) break down the great importance & healing capacities of Abhyanga, and most particularly the importance of incorporating self-Abhyanga as a daily habit.

This episode is for those that are absolutely new to Abhyanga, as well as those who have already been practicing it for years. On this episode, we break down the ins & outs of this wonderful healing practice.


In this Episode we Discuss:

What is Abhyanga & What Are Its Unique Features

Abhyanga is a form of Ayurvedic oil massage.
Abhyanga can be in the form of self-massage or it can also be performed on one’s body by a trained Ayurvedic body therapist. 
Ayurvedic massage is very different to the more common massages on the market - deep tissue, Swedish, Japanese, Chinese, Thai massage, sports massage, Lomi Lomi/Kahuna, etc.
The main differences are:
The Medicated Oils
This is a key aspect of the Abhyanga. 
Usually, coconut or sesame oil is medicated with various herbs according to the season and the individual's unique constitution.
Ayurvedic massage oils have the power to penetrate through all layers of skin and enter into all 7 body tissues (dhatus) to do their job of effective detoxification, nourishment, and more.
If you want to get a treatment you can either come to the Vital Veda Clinic in Sydney, Australia, or go to a nearby certified Ayurvedic therapist and take our precious medicated oils with you. 
For self-Abhyanga massage, you can buy the oils from us or prepare your own oil at home with our medicinal herb pack called Kumkumadi Powder.
Strokes
The strokes are selected and applied in a vigorous and rhythmic matter according to the client's constitution and imbalances.
Marma Points
Special consideration is given to the Marma Points.
  • Marma Points are the special storehouses of energy and concentrated life force. 
  • The Marmas are enlivened for vast harmonious effects. 
  • Perhaps when performing Abhyanga daily there’s no need for marma therapy or acupressure (which can potentially be very dangerous) as abhyanga already activates the marmas. 
Healing The 7 Chakras
The 7 chakras are also worked on to unblock any problems related to them.


Benefits of Daily Abhyanga

ābhyaṅgamācarennityaṃ sa jarāśramavātahā

dṛṣṭiprasādapuṣṭyāyuḥ svapnasutvaktvadārḍhyakṛt //

- Astanga Hrdayam, Sutra Sthana, Chapter 2, Verse 8.

Meaning:
Whoever does the abhyanga every day, for them:
  • Jarā – aging is reduced
  • Śrama – tiredness is reduced
  • Vāta - dosha is reduced
  • Dṛṣṭiprasāda – improves the clarity of vision and strengthens the eyes. 
  • puṣṭi – gives energy and nourishes dhatus.
  • Ayu – prolongs age.
  • Svapna – induces good sleep (when vata is pacified, you have good calmness and निर्मलत्वाम् / प्रसन्न)
  • tvaktvadādhryakṛt – improves skin tone and complexion.

Abhyanga should ideally be done daily, morning. 

Other benefits:
Lymphatic Drainage
The Lymphatic system is critical for good health according to Ayurveda, and Abhyanga specifically stimulates and strengthens the lymphatic system, thus improves immunity and stabilises hormones, and in this way it improves physical and mental states.
Pacifying the Nervous System 
The skin has more nerve endings then any part of the body, and this is why Ayurvedic massage, through appropriate strokes channelled harmoniously with the body's channels, is so effective in calming the mind down, grounding a frantic mind, releasing stress, promoting proper sleep, and providing a state in which the body can deeply rest. There isn't any other way to pacify 20,000,000 nerve receptors in the body’s skin in just a couple of minutes.
Studies have shown that people with hypertension and depression improve with massage therapy.
Massage appears to decrease cortisol, a disease-producing and degenerative stress hormone.*
It also increases dopamine, norepinephrine & oxytocin, which boost mood, reward, pleasure and wellbeing.*
  • Amazingly, research also shows that oxytocin*:
    • Extends life in cancer patients
    • Reduces cravings for sweets
    • Reduces anxiety and depression
    • Increases sexual potency and desire
    • Reduces cortisol and boosts immunity
Improve Immunity and Increase Stamina.
Massage has also been found to boost immunity and killer T cells in AIDS patients.*  
Enhance blood circulation.
Promote flexibility of the muscles, tissues and joints.
Strengthens The Skin, Muscles & Bones
Promotes softness and luster of the skin as well as youthfulness.
Correct injuries, specifically the muscle and bone tissue.
Enhance positive microbiology in your body (your skin is home to massive colonies of microbes).
Balances The Three Doshas
It opens the flow of Prana (Life Force) by balancing the three doshas.

“The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.”

Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89 (One of the Great ancient texts of Ayurveda)

Protection From Negative or Draining Energies 
  • Healthcare workers
  • Bodyworkers - massage therapists, etc.
  • Hospice
  • Death doulas
  • Drug and alcohol
  • Bacteria and viruses - energetic periphery
  • Viral or spike protein shedding
  • Meditation teachers
  • Occupational therapists
  • Overly sensitive people
  • Etc.
Develops Dhatu Metabolism and Enhances Mala Kriya
Between each of the 7 layers of skin is one of seven dhatu agnis.
Bhrajaka Pitta absorbs nutrients and medicaments we put on our body. 
So the more we do abhyanga, the more dhatu development happens.
 “When we are not oleating daily, and not protecting the communicating intelligence in our skin, then due to the dryness the channels will be blocked. Then the proper knowledge is blocked because the correct pathway is blocked. This blockage is the cause of disease“

~ Vaidya Krishna Raju







How to Do Self-Abhyanga

Download the Self-Abhyanga instruction poster here.
Verse 9: Important Areas in Abhyanga and When to Avoid Abhyanga 
śiraḥśravaṇapādeṣu taṃ viśeṣeṇa śīlayet 
varjyo 'bhyaṅgaḥ kaphagrastakṛtasaṃśuddhyajīrṇibhiḥ
Massage should be especially done on head, ears, and legs (these need to be done more). 
Also ears, feet (increases circulation) big toe good for eyes, navel (main vata places)
When to do - morning or evening before shower. Ideally in the morning.
Śiro Pichu + Pad Abhyanga - before sleep.
“Disease does not go near one who massages his feet before sleeping, just as snakes do not approach eagles”.
- Ancient Saying

Self-Abhyanga Contra-Indications

  • Increase in Kapha in the body
  • Soon after shodana karma like pancakarmas
  • During indigestion
  • During nausea
  • Congestion, cold, jvara, flu
  • Headache
  • Menstruation
  • Strong ama doṣa - e.g. amavata / Rheumatoid arthritis - or give svedana / with certain oils
  • Post certain surgeries
  • New tattoos - avoid that area
  • First trimester of pregnancy
  • 8th month of pregnancy - for receiving abh - or any body treatments, unless your physician applies.

Oils to Use

  • If you can get your hands on an Ayurvedic medicated massage oil that is suitable for you, that will be beneficial.
      • Medicated or herbalised oils are created when herbs are cooked into certain oils. This is different to just adding essentials oils to a base oil, which is not really an Ayurvedic medicated oil.
      • When the oil becomes medicated, it becomes a "nano-medicine" that has the ability to enter the body on a deep level (suksma karma).
  • Sesame oil in winter/cold climate & coconut oil in summer or for those with sensitive skin.
      • You can also use other oils like almond and macadamia, or whatever is locally grown to you, but the former two are primarily recommended by Ayurveda.
  • Warm up your massage oil. This will increase the effect and nourishing quality as the oil can penetrate deeper into the skin and tissues.

Giving Abhyanga to Others

After people receive an authentic Ayurvedic massage, mostly they experience an underlying sustaining bliss, while simultaneously their grounded, relaxed and refreshed mind is surprised. They often ask "what did I just receive?"
If you want to learn to give Abhyanga to others, check out the Abhyanga: Ayurvedic Oil Massage course


References

  • *Altern Ther Health Med. 2012;18;960;11-18 - Massage increases oxytocin and reduces adrenocorticotropin hormone in humans - Vera Morhenn 1, Laura E Beavin, Paul J Zak
  • Massage increases oxytocin and reduces adrenocorticotropin hormone in humans - Vera Morhenn 1, Laura E Beavin, Paul J Zak

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The Super-Nectar Ayurvedic Beverage that is Beyond Divine & Simple to Make: Takra | Dylan Smith #075

Vital Veda Podcast Banner: Takra / Thin Lassi
There is a certain beverage in Ayurveda which supersedes “superfood status” and offers an impressive spectrum of therapeutic benefits. This simple beverage is even categorised with “divine status.”
And the awesome part? This beverage is ridiculously simple to stir up.
The beverage is called “Takra” in Ayurveda, which refers to buttermilk or “thin lassi.”

In this Episode we Discuss:

What is Takra?

Takra is the liquid that is left over from churning the butter out of fermented or cultured cream or yogurt.  If cream is left out for a while the naturally occurring lactic acid-producing bacteria will lower the pH, making it more acidic, which then allows the fat/butter to separate.
Butter-milk is of 3 types:
  1. From which fat is completely removed; - kapha, mandagni, low strength.
  2. From which half of the fat is removed; - good for pitta, moderate power of agni, and if the patient has moderate strength.
  3. From which fat is not at all removed. – vayu, strong agni, patient has enough strength.
Takra’s Tri-Doshic Effect
Thin lassi is known as one of the only foods that pacifies all doshic combinations (various body constitutions).

The Vedic Mythology of Takra / Thin Lassi

The Story of Lord Indra, Ahalyā and Maharishi Gautama:
  • Lord Indra impersonating the rishi to be able to lay with his wife, Ahalyā.
  • The vile curse of Maharishi Gautama, and how the Ashwini brothers declared takra to be the cure for it. 
Takram śakra Durlabham | Lord Indra can’t even get Takra.
Other Devatas missing out on Takra:
Painting of Indra and Ahalyā
Indra, impersonating Gautama, and Ahalyā
  • Lassi is the antidote to the poison in Shiva's throat (Nīla Kantha)
  • Ganesh wouldn’t have a belly if he drank lassi (it would help him digest, lose weight and be less bloated).

The Recipe for Thin Lassi

Mix one tablespoon of yoghurt with a cup of water, mix it with a fork, and drink.
The exact ideal ratio of yoghurt to water should be 1:14.
  • Those looking to make the takra a bit more thick can do a ratio of 1:6 or even 1:4.
    • Thick Lassi is great for those suffering from loose bowel motion/loose stools or diarrhoea.
Yoghurt used:
  • Homemade yoghurt - to learn how to make your own yoghurt check out the reel we posted on our Instagram page (@vitalveda).  
Different ingredients to add:
  • Dried mango + cumin seeds roasted in ghee + buttermilk - best drink.
  • Milk and Lassi are always better to have with spices.
  • Anything but sour or fruit. Cocoa or carob.
  • Amla (Indian goose berry) or honey added to the yoghurt will counter the channel-blocking qualities in yoghurt.
      • Amla pickle - wait a year till they turn black
      • Rice + blended yoghurt + Amla pickle.

Thin Lassi for Dairy Intolerant People

Food intolerances are the product of an imbalanced digestive fire, also known as Agni 🔥. 
  • To decide that one is going to stop eating a certain type of food merely because it cannot be digested properly is not a solution to the root problem. 
  • The Agni needs to be enlivened in such a way that allows for the proper digestion of that food and then one can gradually re-introduce said food. 
    • To read more about the Ayurvedic view on how to overcome food intolerances click here.
    • To learn more about how to use Ayurvedic principles to bring your Agni back to balance, check out our online course: “The Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition”.
Takra, or Thin Lassi, is actually an excellent way to reintroduce dairy once the Agni has been brought back to balance. 
  • You can prepare the lassi very thin and even add a pinch of salt. 
  • Another option is to make the lassi, let the yogurt simmer to the bottom of the glass, and then drink only the water. 

How Often Should One Drink Takra / Lassi

Lassi is described as Nitya Ahara | Nitya Sevaniya Ahara Dravya 
  • Lassi is one of the foods that can be had every day. 
Some Vaidyas even say it is mandatory to be had daily.
Contra-indications: Perhaps not for those with aggravated kapha, suffering of sinus congestion, or with strong dairy intolerance.
When to Drink it:
Especially during the summer, avoid during dinner, with lunch or as a snack.

The Difference Between Yoghurt and Thin Lassi

Yoghurt:
  • Atyanda (more) Abhishyandi (blocking).
  • One can eat it until 16-20 years old, past that point it is not advised.
  • Amla (Indian goose berry) or honey added to the yoghurt will counter the channel-blocking qualities in yoghurt.
      • Amla pickle - wait a year till they turn black
      • Rice + blended yoghurt + Amla pickle.

Benefits of Takra / Thin Lassi

“Those who daily take takra do get sick not have diseases, and any disease cured from takra will not return. Have no doubt that what Amrita is the Nectar of the Devata, so Takra is the Nectar to Humans.”
~ BhavaPrakash Nigantu

“Pharmacy in a glass”
~ Vaidya JR Raju.
Eyes:
Good for itchy eyes, sore eyes, tired eyes; even for those suffering from degenerative eye diseases. 
Skin:
Good for eczema, psoriasis, general inflammation, dermatitis, acne and several other skin diseases.
It brings a moist glow to the skin.
Pitta Shamaka:
  • Very hydrating & cooling. 
  • Protects against heat strokes, hot flashes & other heat-related ailments. 
Digestion:
Lactic acid bacteria:
Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) help ‘pre-digest’ your food and also add the bacteria’s digestive metabolites to the food. Pre-digestion makes the foods digestion much easier and brings far more nutrients into the body.
And the bacteria metabolites, which is basically bacteria poop has incredible health benefits since it includes enzymes, antibodies, vitamins, exopolysaccharides, and more!
  • Detoxifies the GIT.
  • Alkaline drink.
  • Increases absorption of nutrients.
  • Good post surgery / pancakarma / rehabilitating gut 
  • Adoption of this procedure will promote and maintain his energy, maintain the kāyāgni and promote his strength, plumpness and complexion.
Helps regulate optimal weight.
  • To loose weight - drink takra
  • To put on weight - add sugar, rose water, cardamom and make it sweet.
    • Spoon off the foamy stuff (part that clogs peoples body, like the foam of ghee).
            • Leave the foam in for weak/debilitated or emaciated people.
Buttermilk cleanses the srotas as a result of which rasa reaches appropriately. 
More benefits:
  • Hair health - good for thinning hair, greying of hair and baldness.
    • In this cases, pitta (fire element) is burning the hair follicles. 
  • Keeping veins and arteries clear
  • Kill viruses
  • Hemorrhoids / piles
    • “There is no medicine, better than butter-milk, for the cure of piles caused by the predominance of aggravated vayu and kapha" - Caraka, Cikitsa Sthana
  • Asthma: add to the Takra mostly fenugreek (also mustard seeds + cumin seeds) cooked in ghee or mustard oil in an iron pot.

Takradhara Treatment

To read all about this treatment click here.

Resources

Book a consultation with Dylan HERE

The Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition Course HERE

Article: How to Overcome Food Intolerances HERE

Recipe for Sweet Lassi HERE

Recipe for Digestive Lassi HERE

Recipe for Cooling Lassi HERE


Support The Show

Please leave me a comment below (I love to read every single one).


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Please seek advice from a qualified practitioner before starting any new health practice.


The Ayurvedic View on Asthma (Śvāsa)

Man standing on a cliff with his arms stretched to his sides
The name for Asthma in Ayurveda sounds just like someone finding it difficult to breath - “Śvāsa” श्वास , pronounced “Shvaa-sa”.
Śvāsa is closely related to other respiratory ailments that are also exemplars of Sanskrit’s unique expression of naming a word based on the sound that which it is describing (onomatopoeia). Namely, these other two ailments are hiccup (“hikkā”) and cough (“kasa”).
Ayurveda’s detailed understanding of the pathology and treatment of Śvāsa goes beyond just asthma, but also dyspnoea (difficult or laboured breathing).

In this article we discuss

The Seriousness of Asthma

There are five main types of asthma in Ayurveda.
According to Ayurveda, asthma, dyspnoea and hiccup are actually very serious diseases that can be deadly, thus need to be attended to at all stages with great care.
"If these are not properly treated at the appropriate time or if the patient indulges in unwholesome regimens, these diseases being exacerbated become fatal like the deadly snake-venom."
~ Caraka Samhita, Chikitsa Sthana, Ch 17, 8-9
But do not fear! 
These diseases are classified into various varieties, which range from mild to serious.
For example, you would be familiar with the odd and harmless hiccup, but there are people who have painful hiccups that wake them up throughout the night every hour, everynight, which can get very serious.
Furthermore, Ayurveda has an extensive treatment protocol for these respiratory ailments.
Taking action on your health, especially with a preventative approach, is key.
Let’s start with understanding the root causes of asthma.

Causative Factors (Hetu) for Asthma

Causative factors that aggravate vāta dosha then specifically may lead to asthma

  1. Exposure to dust, smoke, environmental pollutants or wind;
  2. Residing in cold places and use of cold water for bathing and drinking;
  3. Exercise, sex and walking beyond one’s capacity;
  4. Habitual intake of drying foods, e.g. organic crisps, organic corn chips, chickpeas, millet, caffeine.
  5. Intake of food in deficient or excessive quantities,
  6. Eating meals at irregular times,
  7. Vitiation by āma (undigested food products).
  8. Constipation associated with flatulence (ānāha);
  9. Dryness of the body, (e.g. from electro-magnetic fields, lack of oil application, residing in air-conditioning etc.);
  10. Fasting in excess;
  11. Weakness and injury to vital points of the body (marmas);
  12. Incompatible food combinations (Viruddha Ahara);
  13. Excessive “cleansing “procedures (shodana cikitsa);
  14. As a consequence of diarrhoea, fever, vomiting, coryza, phthisis, consumption, hyper-acidity, upward movement of vata (udāvarta), cholera, alasaka (intestinal torpor), pāndu (anaemia) and poisoning. (1)

Causative factors that aggravate kapha then specifically may lead to asthma

  1. Habitual day-time sleeping (nispāva)
  2. Excessive sesame oil in the diet;
  3. Heavy food;
  4. Excessive intake of fish and meat;
  5. Intake of yoghurt and unboiled milk;
  6. Intake of kapha-aggravating ingredients (heavy, cold, unctuous or greasy food)
  7. Injury to the throat and chest;
  8. Different types of obstruction to the channels (srotas)(1)

Causative factors that aggravate kapha then specifically may lead to asthma

  1. Habitual day-time sleeping (nispāva)
  2. Excessive sesame oil in the diet;
  3. Heavy food;
  4. Excessive intake of fish and meat;
  5. Intake of yoghurt and unboiled milk;
  6. Intake of kapha-aggravating ingredients (heavy, cold, unctuous or greasy food)
  7. Injury to the throat and chest;
  8. Different types of obstruction to the channels (srotas).

Pathology of Asthma

Let’s understand what is (generally) going on:
  1. Vāyu (air) located the chest after afflicting the channels carrying life-force or prana (prānavaha srotas) gets aggravated.
  2. This aggravated vata means biological systems, including respiration, are moving in an agitated and aggravated way.
  3. This stimulates kapha.
  4. Now we have a complex situation of vata, predominantly associated with kapha, (complex because these doshas/biological elements are both opposites) are obstructing the respiratory and water channel (pranavaha and udaka-vaha srotras),
  5. Due to this obstruction, these vitiated doshas re-route off course to circulate all over the body,
  6. This aggravated vāyu being obstructed itself (in the circulatory course), causes śvāsa.
  7. This leads to asthma (śvasa) and hiccup (hikkā). (2)
Sāmānya-Samprapti (General Pathogenesis) of Hikkā and Śvāsa:
1. They both originate from the upper site of pitta sthana (āmāśaya or stomach), (this does not mean pitta is involved)
2. These disease are caused by the simultaneous aggravation of kapha and vāyu.
3. They adversely affect the hrdaya (heart) and all the sapta dhatus (seven main biological tissues).

5 Types of Asthma

There are 5 types of asthma, according to the classical treatise Caraka Samhita:
  1. Mahā-Śvāsa - great respiratory difficulty leaving one feeling intoxicated
  2. Ūrdhva-Śvāsa - prolonged expiration and inability to have inspiration
  3. Chinna-Śvāsa - affliction of prana-vata-srota (respiratory channels) with great distress. Deadly type of asthma.
  4. Tamaka-Śvāsa - vāyu (air) moving in the reverse order pervades the prana-vaha-srota, afflicts the neck and head, and stimulates the phlegm to cause rhinitis. Difficult to lie down. Lungs are weak. This includes two types of śvāsa called Pratamaka and Santamaka Śvāsa
  5. Ksudra-Śvāsa - vāyu mildly aggravated in the GIT leading to mild dyspnoea.

Pre-Symptoms of Asthma (Purva-Rupa of Śvāsa)

1. Constipation with flatulence;
2. Pain in the sides of the chest;
3. Pain in the cardiac region;
4. Reversion (vilomatva) of the respiratory functions (prana). (3)

TREATMENT (CIKITSA)

Foods to Include in Your Diet

1. In general, ingredients which reduce vata and kapha, which are heating (usna virya), and which cause downward motion of vata (vātānulomana).
2. Pippali (long pepper / piper long), good fried with ghee and added to food as a spice
3. Ginger
4. Black pepper
5. Mung beans
6. Moringa leaves - can use as a leafy green. Can used dried if fresh is not available.
7. Neem leaves - can add a little bit with mung dahl. Use dried leaves if fresh not available.
8. Old rice, old wheat or old barley (old grains do not increase kapha as much as new).

Tulsi

Tulsi is known as the “Queen of Herbs” in Ayurveda. It is very effecting for regulating Prana and respiration in the body.
Drink tulsi tea with fresh tulsi leaves or quality tulsi tea bags 1-2x/day.

To read more about the wonderful healing power & benefits of tulsi click HERE.

Foods to Avoid

  1. Cold foods and drink - e.g. cold water or cold milk.
  2. Yoghurt and cheese
  3. Cold fruits, such as fruit straight out the fridge.
  4. Pumpkin without spices.
  5. Bread and pasta in excess.
Pumpkin

Lifestyle Recommendations

Home environment:
  • How is the ventilation in your home? Open your windows more.
Exercise:
  • Ensure you are nasal breathing, not mouth breathing. This way, you are getting oxygen to the lower lobes of the lungs and not stressing out the chest. Learn more about the power and importance of nasal breathing HERE.
  • Swimming - Swimming is one of the exercises where you can mouth breath. Also beware that swimming in cold water or chlorine will aggravate asthma.
Pranayama:
Pranayama is a yogic body of knowledge of breath-work practices to “administer prana (life-force)” to the physiology.
This is very helpful for a variety of diseases, especially asthma.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
There is a bunch of pranayama practices that can be practiced. One of my favourite pranayama practices for a variety of applications is Nadi Shodana, AKA Alternative Nostril Breathing or Anulomana Viloma.
  • Administer Nasika before your pranayama practice for a greater effect.
Nasya:
Nasya is the daily practice of sniffing medicated oil up the nose.
This is included in the Ayurvedic daily routine as a regular practice to lubricate and strengthen the brain and respiratory system.
Sniffing Nasika regularly up prevents asthma and respiratory challenges from escalating.
It can be used to help treat asthma, dyspnoea and other respiratory conditions.
For those with chronic or severe asthma or dyspnoea, start with Nasika oil and once you get the hang of this practice, switch to Special Nasika Oil as this works more on the lungs.
Chest Treatment:
You can massage a pungent medicated oil like MGP Oil into the chest, followed by a heat pack or hot water bottle.

Herbal Remedies Helpful for Asthma

Swasananda Leham:
Improves "rasa and prana" health. Rasa is the plasma, dhatu or tissue, that comes before blood; and prana means "life force" which comes from proper oxygenation.
It is particularly effective for helping coughs and congestion problems.
Prandhara:
Literally meaning “flow of life,” Prandhara helps take care of some of very common problems like headaches, cold-like symptoms, asthma, nasal congestion + much more.
A full steam inhalation with Prandhara can be used during acute respiratory difficulty, at a time when one would usually use a puffer or inhaler. This is not a substitute, and you need to examine your self with the guidance of a quality health practitioner.
For those suffering asthma or respiratory difficulty can regularly inhale + sip prandhara in hot water throughout the day.
Swasakasantak Yog: 
- great for kids + prevent allergies and respiratory difficulties.
Swasakasantak Yog helps support the upper respiratory system and very helpful in nasal congestion, coryza, excess mucous, blocked nose, hay fevers, asthma etc.
Dasmoola Katu Trayadi Kashayam:
A very well known classical Ayurvedic medicine in liquid form. It is widely used in the treatment of respiratory conditions. Particularly good for upper respiratory tract infections. Specifically works on the lungs rather than the upper respiratory system.
Anand Sid Yog:
Anand Sid Yog (Nutritious Immune Boosting Bliss) promotes bala (vital strength), that helps the body fight back disease. It is useful to boost immunity. It enhances overall vitality and helps prevent disease.
It is a powerful anti-oxidant formula that helps strengthen the lungs and helps in cough.
Shodana Vati:
Shodana Vati is one of the best Ayurvedic elixirs to help scavenge   free-radicals, purify toxins out of the body and regulate the metabolism and digestion.
It thus has the potential to play a significant role in gradually eradicating asthma.
Even keeping a shodana vati tablet in the mouth and letting it dissolve can be used as a remedy during respiratory difficulty.
Nasika / Special Nasika:
As stated above.

Food Recipes

Eggplant soup (vārtāka):
Prepared with ginger, long pepper (pippalī), black pepper and ghee. (5)
Medicated Rice or Barley Gruel (Yavāgu):
  1. Boil old rice with hing, rock salt, cumin seeds. You can also use old barley or old wheat.
  2. Boil with 8x water to the amount of grains, and reduce to half.
  3. If you have these therapeutic herbs you can add these while boiling for stronger medicinal effect - pauskara (inula racemose), ativisā (aconitum heterophyllum), citraka and karkata-śrngī (pistacia integerrima / zebrawood). (6)
Rice or Barley Gruel (Yavāgu) with Dasmula:
Dasmula is a classical Ayurvedic preparation meaning “10 roots.”
Cooking rice gruel with the decoction of dasmula is useful in bronchitis, hrdaya roga (heart disease), pain in the sides of the chest, hikkā and śvāsa.
  1. Boil with 8x water to the amount of grains, and reduce to half. (6)

Panchakarma (Purification Therapy)

Pachakarma is Ayurveda’s premier detox and rejuvenation therapy.
Firstly fomentation therapy is administered to loosen up the toxic blockages (ama).
As snow melts over the creepers in the mountain range, on account of hot rays of the sun, so does the stable kapha in the body gets dissolved on account of the heat generated by these fomentation therapies. (4)
Then certain purification procedures are to be administered to eliminate the doshas out of the body.
These Panchakarma procedures are not for everyone, and have to be done under expert Vaidya guidance.
“If the flowing water of a river gets obstructed on its way, then the level of water rises further. 
Similarly, if the channels carrying mobile vāyu (in the chest) get obstructed, then the vāyu located at the point of obstruction gets very much aggravated.
Therefore, the srotas (channels) of vāyu should always be cleansed [by panchakarma]." (7)

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Resources

  1. Caraka Samhita, Chikitsa Sthana, Ch 17, (10-16)
  2. Caraka Samhita, Chikitsa Sthana, Ch 17, (17-18 1/2)
  3. Caraka Samhita, Chikitsa Sthana, Ch 17, (18 ½-20)
  4. Caraka Samhita, Chikitsa Sthana, Ch 17, (70 - 76)
  5. Caraka Samhita, Chikitsa Sthana, Ch 17, (94 - 100 1/2)
  6. Caraka Samhita, Chikitsa Sthana, Ch 17, (100 1/2 - 104)
  7. Caraka Samhita, Chikitsa Sthana, Ch 17 (121-122)

8 Tips to Avoid Toxins Over Xmas🎄 & Silly Season (& Still Indulge)

Cupcakes, which very often lead to ama

The festive season is here! and along with it an abundance of edible delights seem to be just about everywhere!

Over 99% of us are going to break the rules and indulge. Great! Enjoy it! (guilt-free and in moderation).
But accordingly, support your digestive ability to "digest the silly season" at ease with minimal repercussions.

It is hard not to overindulge and accumulate Ama, the toxic sticky waste-product of incomplete digestion.

Tempting sweets and mouth watering food platters that pull you in by the eyes and nose can lead you to over-eat and snack at irregular times, promoting the accumulation of Ama.

Ama according to Ayurveda is a sticky, thick, mucus-like substance that if not cleaned out, will clog bodily channels and vitiate the “weak part” (Kavyaguna) in your body.

Joints, lungs and sinuses are typical weak spots where ama accumulates, but the ama will vitiate different tissues and areas depending on the person. Some people may experience respiratory symptoms, constipation, gas, bloating, skin rashes or breakouts, congested lymphatic system, weight gain, headaches, ulcers or stress.

The accumulation of ama is the first of The Six Stages of Disease (Shat Kriya Kala) according to Ayurveda.
After that, it will eventually manifest into disease and more full-blown clinical features down the track.

This is the beauty of the prevention aspect of Ayurveda. It can detect disease way before it gets even slightly complicated.

A key solution for conquering "Christmas-time Ama" according to Ayurveda is to keep your digestive fire (Agni) burning and balanced.

We want our agni to digest any food and from it create a thin liquid nourishing substance called "Ahar Rasa."
Ahar Rasa means "the essence of the food."
This essential bi-product of digestion will nourish your body and provide the required nutrients and energy for you to thrive.

The following tips will help keep your agni strong and balanced...

Tips for Less Ama, more Nectar

1. Eat Seasonally

Digestion is stronger in winter and weaker in summer.

"The temperature of the body beaten by the cold wind goes deep inside, gathers like a lump in the stomach increasing the digestive fire; hence, [in winter] people have the ability to digest foods which are hard by nature."
~Astanga Samgraha of Vaghbata, Hemantartucarya (regimen of winter), ch. 4, (8-13).

Modern science is now proving ancient wisdom as studies show the amylase enzyme (which increases our digestive strength), increases in our body in winter and decreases in summer.

What more is that the parasympathetic nervous system, AKA the “Rest and Digest” nervous system, also increases in winter and decreases in the spring and summer.

Our digestive fire is hot, fiery and acidic. We don’t want that in summer, we want that in winter to keep us warm and insulated and to help us to break down the hard to digest, high protein, high fat and dense foods like grains, nuts and dairy that nature intelligently organises to be harvested for the winter time.

If your holiday season comes in winter (USA, Europe, India):

You are lucky. Even though you do have stronger digestion at this time of the year, still do everything in moderation and follow the tips below to remain balanced.

If your holiday season comes in summer (Australia, NZ):

Choose loads of fresh local fruits as your party foods.

Fruits have been ripening on the vines all year long and assist in dissipating the heat out of your body. Fruits are easy to digest for your weaker summer agni.
Ironically barbecues and ice-cream by the beach are more appropriate for winter time. Stick to light foods.

2. Eat Your Main Meal & Schedule Food Celebrations at Midday

Your agni (digestive fire) is regulated by the sun.

When the sun is strongest, your digestion is the strongest and most robust.

Modern sincere is once again proving ancient wisdom by showing that not only is our digestion stronger, but the food you eat delivers more nutritional value at the middle of the day when the sun is up rather than at night time.

  • Schedule social events at lunch rather than dinner.
  • Start preparing your Christmas lunch earlier so that you can stick to a 12pm-2pm mealtime schedule.
  • If you do have an evening party, make it earlier while the sun is still up or around 5pm.
  • Dinner should be the lightest meal of all. A big meal will not only tax your digestive system but will disrupt your sleep as your body will be burdened with this unwanted task. Your body’s job at night is to detox the liver and regulate hormones, not digest a big dinner.

3. Avoid Snacking

Stick to three meals a day, no snacks.

This will allow your digestion to rest in between each meal

Furthermore, it will trigger fat metabolism as you will be using fat as your source of fuel. Fat is the stable, long-lasting, calming, detoxifying, non-emergency fuel.
If you are eating every 1-2-3 hours, the body will continue to burn the readily available fuel from these foods. This fuel source is sugar. Sugar burns quickly and often comes crashing down along with your energy levels, leaving your body craving another short-term “pick me up.”

Fat on the other hand as your primary fuel source is effective for stabilising mood, emotions, good sleep, increasing cognitive function, less cravings, losing weight, balancing acidity and maintaining good energy levels.

Re-establish fat metabolism by eliminating snacks.

4. Use Herbal Digestive Support

Over 99% of us are going to break the rules and indulge. Fine, enjoy it! (guilt-free). But accordingly support your agni with nature’s intelligence through the use of herbs and spices:

Shodana Vati

Detoxification agent and whole-body cleansing Rasayana. 3 dosha balancing. 
Best free radical scavenger & anti-oxidant; immune modulator and blood purifier. Good for gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, tooth and oral problems, female problems, high cholesterol, chronic cough, eye disorders, addictions, and helps clear the skin and more.Raju family formula. For those looking to eliminate ama and cleanse the body, this is one of the best solutions Ayurveda can offer. 

Shodana Vati is my herb of choice for mostly everyone to take. We live in a time where toxins are prevalent. In the US, a whopping 4 billion pounds of toxins are being dumped into the environment each year—72 million of which are carcinogenic.(1) Even your organic kale probably have mercury and glyphosate on it.

Purchase Shodana Vati HERE

Triphala

An inferior digestive support option to Shodana Vati. Take 1-3 grams of quality triphala before dinner.

Tridoshic Digestive Tea

Vital Veda's digestive tea contains 22 organic herbs blended into coarse powder.

Drop a large pinch of the powder in hot water after meals or when you experience digestive discomfort.

A gem to sip on after overindulging in a feast to help digest the ama.

Suitable for all body types. Purchase here

Home-Made Digestive Tea:

An inferior version to Vital Vedas Tridoshic Digestive Tea to be used when the latter is not available. 

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon lightly crushed cumin seeds +
  • 1/2 tsp lightly crushed ajwain seeds +
  • 1/2 tsp lightly crushed fennel seeds +
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder or freshly grated ginger.
  • Put the powdered herbs in 1.5 cups of water and boil down to 1 cup.
  • Strain and add 1 pinch of black salt.

Sip hot/warm as a tea after each meal and if you experience digestive discomfort.

You may make larger quantities and keep in thermos for the day.

5. Sip Hot Water

This is a powerful technique to melt toxins and flush them out of the body.

Like you use hot water to wash the grease off dirty dishes, a similar thing happens in your intestines. Sipping plain hot water regularly (frequency, not quantity matters) dilates the channels in your body so things can move better. Don't underestimate this powerful tool.

Click here for more on this surprisingly powerful detoxification technique. 

6. Fasting

Just in case you strayed from the Ayurvedic path and collected Ama along the way...

Fasting is a quick and effective fix.

When dealing with the accumulation of ama, Ayurveda says:

If you eat a heavy meal that did not digest properly, skip the next meal.

For example:

  • If you had a ridiculous dinner (ice cream, cake, plenty of rich food), skip breakfast or just have hot milk.
  • If you put out your agni by overindulging in a heavy lunch, skip dinner that night or just have some fruit if you really need to eat.

Ayurveda also recommends fasting one day per week. Fasting does not mean no food. You can have liquids such as hot milk, lassi, fruit juices, and even fruits if your current body type is uncomfortable too fast. Also at night if you feel you may take a light dinner.

A gentle fast allows the agni to recover its strength and burn away accumulated ama, leaving you feeling light and energetic.

Always sip hot water frequently on fasting days to assist in removing the ama.

I soon will be releasing an online course on Ayurvedic nutrition which has a whole module on fasting according to Ayurveda. Sign up to the VV Newsletter to be in the loop.

7. Avoid Agni-Destroying Foods and Drinks

Ayurveda also states that some foods are especially hard to digest and easily produce ama.

Heavy foods produce "tamas" or dullness in the mind and body.
Fresh foods are easier to digest and contain more Prana (life force).

Items that diminish agni and contributes to the accumulation of ama:

  • Leftovers - will oxidise and are very tamasic.
  • Deep fried foods are hard to digest.
  • Raw foods are hard to digest. Why make your internal fire do the cooking? Let the external fire do the cooking to make the food more compatible with your body.
  • Cold foods and drinks will put out your agni (digestive fire).
  • Ice-cream - cold, sweet, heavy and dull are the same qualities of ama. "Like increases like."
  • A lot of water with meals dilutes the digestive enzymes. Iced drinks with meals is like throwing cold water onto a fire. Lassi is the best to have with a meal to support digestion.

8. Panchakarma Detox Therapy / Vital Short Home Cleanse

Despite all your good efforts to keep balanced, our physiology still needs regular detoxification and rejuvenation.

Ayurveda has a very effective tool to cleanse the body from ama and other toxins: Panchakarma ("PK"). Panchakarma is a methodical combination of taking herbs, treatments and adjusting diet and lifestyle to cleanse and renew the body. These treatments are hands-on, rejuvenating techniques that purge the physiological stress and toxins out of the body that covers the underlying natural state of perfect health residing in everyone.

This detox and rejuvenation program is best to be immersed in-residence at an authentic, safely practised ayurvedic clinic. I highly recommend Dr. Raju's Institute of Ayurveda.

If you can't run away to India, the Vital Veda clinic in Sydney offers PK for 5, 7, 15, 23 or more days where your program will be tailored to tie in with your home and work life.

If you want to DIY at home, check out my free Vital Short Home Cleanse.

As you can see, Ayurveda offers a ton of possibilities to conquer ama while still being to enjoy yourself.

I wish you a happy holiday season filled with unity and relish.

"Even if you eat ice-cream, enjoy it."
Vaidya J.R. Raju 

References

(1) http://www.mountsinai.org/patient-care/service-areas/children/areas-of-care/childrens-environmental-health-center/childrens-disease-and-the-environment/children-and-toxic-chemicals