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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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.


Tamarind Tree (Imlī / Amlikā / Tamarindus indica)

Tamarind leaves and fruits
Sanskrit name: Amikā
Hindi name: Imlī
Sanskrit synonyms:
  1. Cukrikā
  2. Amlī
  3. Cukrā
  4. Dantaṣaṭhā
  5. Amlā
  6. Ciñcikā
  7. Cincā
  8. Tintiḍīka
  9. Tintiḍī
Tamarind Pods

Focus: The Ripe Fruit…

Many parts of the tamarind tree are used medicinally for culinary purposes. Below are the qualities of the ripe pulp (from the fruit pod), which can be bought as pods themselves, as paste, pulp, purée or a concentrated paste.
Rasa (taste): amla (sour), madhura (sweet)
Vīrya (energy): heating
Vipaka (post-digestive effect): amla (sour)
Gunas: ruksa (dry) & guru (heavy)
Doshas: KV- P+
Can increase Kapha and rakta (blood) together if had in excess.
Parts used: flower, seed, fruit, kshara (alkali bark ash / fruit skin), leaves.
Karmas (Actions):
  • Dīpana (increases digestive fire), the ripe fruit
  • Laxative (1)
  • Vasti shuddhikrut - cleanses urinary bladder
Tamarind pods
Tamarind paste

Uses & Benefits

Arthritis

Helpful for arthritis, especially when Vata is trapped in the joints.
The unripened fruit is also helpful for rheumatoid arthritis: Unripened tamarind paste that will suck the expanded ama (undigested toxic food material) to one place, then it is easier to get out of the place with some elimination therapy.(2)
Note that tamarind is not the herb of choice for arthritis.

Digestion

Tamarind is a good pre-biotic. It acts as a laxative and enkindles digestive strength.
Add the Sour Taste for Wholesome 6 Tastes
In Ayurveda, a balanced diet means having all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, astringent). Tamarind is a great way to include the sour taste. You can do this by adding tamarind pulp, paste or tamarind water (see recipe below) filtered or not.
Sour taste characteristics:
  • Mahābhūta (elements): earth and fire.
  • Vīrya (energy): heating
  • Gunas (qualties): laghu (light), snigdha (unctous)
  • Vipaka (post-digestive effect): amla (sour) - (in general)
  • Doṣas: PK+ V-
  • Karmas (actions): enkindles agni (dīpana), metabolises ama/ undigested toxic food materials (pacana), moves liver stagnation, increases bile, building (bṛṃhaṇa), stopping (stambhana), contraction (contraction), nourishes and energises the body, awakens the mind, nourishes the heart (hṛdaya), satisfying, soothing and appeasing (prīṇanam), washes or clears oral cavity.
Tamarind is part of the recipe for Six Tastes Drink: A Sweet Drink to Enliven the 6 Tastes and Agni (Digestive Fire)
To learn more about the six tastes and how to help recognise the medicinal qualities of food in any food item or substance, check out Vital Veda’s Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition course.

Ally to Purify Food, Herbs and Cleanse in General

Tamarind water is used to wash and purify fruit and vegetables.
To make tamarind water, add 1 tablespoon of tamarind pulp to 1L of water, mix and mash well. Leave for 15 minutes, mix again and filter.
Tamarind water is a form of tartaric acid - it helps remove fertilisers and chemicals that are on non-organic food.
Tamarind is used for cleaning metals like brass and copper.
Purify pumpkin
The common yellow pumpkin is considered a vata aggravating vegetable, and a vegetable to not have too much of. Cooking pumpkin with tamarind and cumin is an antidote to the vata aggravating qualities of pumpkin.
Antidote to Sliminess of Okra (Lad’s Finger)
For those who don’t like the slimy quality (picheela guna) of the okra vegetable, using tamarind during the cooking process will prevent it from getting too slimy.
Pumpkin Tamarind Gravy
Sambar

Classical Food Recipes With Tamarind

Tamarind Rice is a classic prasadam (holy) dish that is offered in many Hindu temples. It is also used in Vedic astrology in combination with other ingredients to pacify the nine planets. Check out this Nine Planet Tamarind Rice Recipe 
Tamarind is a common ingredient used in small amounts in the classical south Indian dishes Sambar and Rasam, light, nutritious soups that are great for dinner or as part of the main, noon meal.

Ayurvedic Medicines Containing Tamarind

Krishna Paste
Tamarind seed bhasma and tamarind seed root is used in the skincare product Krishna paste.
Shankha Vati (a.k.a. Shankar V)
A classical Ayurvedic medicine used for gastric conditions, dyspepsia, anorexia, high pitta in the gut, and other digestive disorders.
Rasnadi Chūrnam
A powder to apply over the scalp and crown of the head. Used to relieve headache sinusitis or Kapha in the head, and is good to apply after shirodhara/takradhara and/or after bathing post shirodhara/takradhara treatment.

Tamarind Flower Properties and Medicinal Uses

  • Ruchiprada - improves taste, useful in anorexia
  • Meha - diabetes and urinary tract disorders.
  • dīpana - enkindles agni (digestive fire)
  • Rasa
  • Doshas: Kapha Vata hara (KV-)
  • Gunas: laghu (light), vishada (clear)
Tamarind flower

Ripe Fruit of Tamarind Properties and Medicinal Uses

  • atyamla - extremely sour
  • laghu - light to digest
  • asruk krut - causes blood disorders (1)
  • doshas: PK+ V-
  • Constricts channels (2)
  • Clears the urine passage (2)
  • For rheumatoid arthritis: Unripened tamarind paste that will suck the expanded ama (undigested toxic food material) to one place, then it is easier to get out of the place with some elimination therapy.(2)

Semi-Ripe Fruit of Tamarind Properties and Medicinal Uses

  • grahi - absorbent, useful in diarrhoea, IBS
  • dīpana
  • ruchya - improves taste, useful for anorexia
  • doshas: VK-

References:

  1. Bhāvaprakāśa-Pūrvakhaṇḍa āmrādi phala varga
  2. Vaidya Rajus from Hyderabad

Ayurvedic Daily Routine, Guru & Spirituality | Vaidya Aditya Raju #089

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Daily routine, “dinacharyā”, is one of the pillars of health in Ayurvedic medicine.
Integrating certain practices into your daily routine that are rooted in natural law supports one to smoothly flow on their path of evolution with minimal friction and maximum health.
This podcast features world renowned Ayurvedic doctor, Vaidya Ādityā Raju, who generously shares wisdom on the Ayurvedic daily routine in such an elaborate way like you have probably never heard before.
This episode was auspiciously recorded on the eve of the fullest moon of the year, known as "Guru Pūrṇimā.”
Thus, we explore the role of Guru - which literally translates to “that which removes darkness”, and the multitude of qualities of “Guru consciousness."

About our guest: Vaidya Aditya Raju

Vaidya Aditya Raju is a specialist in Panchakarma, Pulse diagnosis and Sukhamarma.
Aditya is the youngest son of J.R. Raju, the foremost disciple of the world-famous Vaidya Balraj Maharishi and head of the Raju Family. He is also sishya (disciple) and devotee of his holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, under who’s guidance he trained for several decades of his life before the Maharishi dropped his body.
He is a visiting teacher in Italy, where he provides consulting and training to hundreds of doctors. He also serves as a consultant to Maharishi Ayurveda products Italy.
He is a visiting Ayurveda consultant to European and Asian Ayurveda Panchakarma centers.
With grace and a pure spirit, Aditya shares his vast and rich wisdom of Ayurveda, hoping to enlighten and assist as many souls as possible during this lifetime.

In this Episode we Discuss:

The Essentials of the Ayurvedic Daily Routine (Dinacharya)

Firstly, waking up in the brāma muhūrta
  • For more information on the brāhma muhūrta click here.
Drinking cool water first thing in the morning (after cleaning your teeth & scraping your tongue) and later hot water the rest of the day. 
  • This assists in the cleansing of the body & the removal of ama (undigested toxic material). 
  • After washing your teeth it is advised that you do some form of gargling or oil pulling (ideally use the special Gandusha Oil or plain sesame oil)
Nasya नस्य (sniffing a drop of nasya oil like our Nasika Oil up each nostril) to lubricate, cleanse and protect the upper srotas (channels). 
  • Advice: don’t do nasya before taking a shower, before having a meal, before going to bed nor when having a cold/flu. 
Abhyanga अभ्यङ्ग massage to stimulate the lymph & blood flow around the body, hydrate the skin & pull toxins out it + much more.
  • You can read more about abhyanga massage, how to do it and its many benefits here
  • After your self-abhyanga practice you can take a shower or bathe in the sea/ocean. The water invokes the essence of ganga, the goddess or supreme intelligence of water that is all-purifying. 
    • It cleanses on the external/superficial level.
Practicing some form of meditation will allow you to de-excite the mind & to establish yourself in a state of pure being. Meditation is the way for you to cleanse the internal and deeper level.  
  • At Vital Veda we recommend the Vedic Meditation practice. 
    • To find a Vedic meditation teacher near you click here & scroll down to “Vedic meditation”. 
There is no need to be strict with your Dinacharya. Start gradually. Explore & implement different practices out of joy.

Other Powerful Practices

Bringing awareness to your hands and observing the three main aspects of the mother divine (Lakshmi, Saraswati & Uma). You can chant the Karaagre Vasate Lakshmi mantra. 

कराग्रे वसते लक्ष्मीः करमध्ये सरस्वती

Karagrei Vasate Lakssmi ∽ Kara-Madhye Saraswati

करमूले तु गोविन्दः प्रभाते करदर्शनम्

Kara-Mūle Bhavet Gauri ∽ Prabhaate Kara-Darśanam

The upper hand is the seat of Lakshmi (fingers). The middle of palm is the seat of Saraswati, the base of the palm (lower pads & thumbs) is the seat of Gauri (Durga/Parvati). The first sight of the day has a special power and makes a deeper impression on the brain ~ especially during Brahmi Muhurta. So when we see our palms first while repeating the Mantra, we are enlivening all three special energies in our physiology because:

Before putting your feet on the ground you can chant the Samudra Vasane Devi mantra. 

समुद्रवसने देवि पर्वतस्तनमण्डले

Samudra-Vasane Devi Parvata-Stana-Mannddale

विष्णुपत्नि नमस्तुभ्यं पादस्पर्शं क्षमस्वम

Vissnnu-Patni Namas-Tubhyam Paada-Sparsham Kssamasva-Me

  • The meaning of this mantra is the following:
    • Line 1: (Oh Mother Earth) O Devi, You Who have the Ocean as Your Garments, and Mountains as Your Bosom.
    • Line 2: O Consort of Lord Vishnu, Salutations to You; Please Forgive my Touch of the Feet (on Earth, which is Your Holy Body).
  • This mantra or shloka beautifully describes the tolerance, compasion, patience and nurturing quality of earth and it is meant to enliven our appreciation for mother nature & all the organisms that it holds & provides for. 
Doing some asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breath regulation) early in the morning before the abhyanga
After your morning meditation, you can do a puja पूजा (a ceremonial worship). 
  • Firstly invoking Ganesha (the remover of obstacles) & afterward your Guru(s) and your ishta devata (your personal supreme deity) to show your appreciation & to ask for guidance. 
  • Everything that you do before the puja is a preparation for this moment. You first cleanse your body & mind, get established in being, and only then do you engage with the puja. 
    • This ideally is the first real “action” of the day. 
  • The puja allows for the enlivening of siddhis (divine-human capabilities)

Seasonal Routines

Ritucharya ऋतुचर्या translates to seasonal routine. The ritus are the Vedic seasons & the word charya means “routine”. 
  • The year is divided in 6 ritus of 2 months each:
    • शिशिर (śiśira) – Late winter
    • वसन्त (vasanta) – Spring
    • ग्रीष्म (grīṣma) – Summer
    • वर्षा (varṣā) – Rains
    • शरद् (śarad) – Autumn
    • हेमन्त (hemanta) – Early winter 
“There occur some special changes in environment and humans in every Ritu, and hence certain foods and exercises are specifically told for each Ritu, this process is known as Ritucharya”
Source – aruṇadatta commentary on aṣṭāṃga hrudaya, sūtra 3.1
For more information on the advised ritucharya for your specific physiology & the current ritu please schedule a consultation with Dylan. 
  • You can book a consultation with Dylan by clicking HERE.

Mantras

The regular and intentional practice of mantras allows for them to fully imbibe their essence within one’s physiology, to the point of one being able to recognize the beeja and mudra for said mantra(s) naturally. 
  • When the mantras have been assimilated to that degree, one can recite them & do their mudras at astounding speeds - beyond what can be perceived with the naked eye. 
    • It is a level of mantra-mastery that is often only achieved by the most dedicated brahmins.
  • This deep familiarization with mantras has epigenetic repercussions, to the point where the energetic effects of these primordial sounds on one’s nervous system ends up being passed down to one’s own progyny.

What is “Guru” गुरु?

The traditional role of the guru is to allow for the shishya (disciple) to chip away old habits,  also known as Vṛtti(s) वृत्ति, that do not contribute to the evolution of the spirit.  
  • The cleansing of our karma & samskaras becomes severely accelerated when under the guidance of a master. 
  • When these imperfections are removed by means of a specific sadhana (spiritual practice), all that is left is pure chitta (awareness). 
The meaning of jagadguru जगद्गुरु - a term composed of the words jagat which means “the entire world” and guru meaning “spiritual master” or literally “remover of darkness”. 
  • A jagadguru is a spiritual master of the whole world.
  • There are several jagadgurus recognized in history, amongst them the legendary spiritual master Adi Shankaracharya, founder of the Advaita Vedanta school of philosophy; Veda Vyasa, the master who compiled the Vedas; and even Lord Kṛṣṇa who gifted the world with a lot of wisdom, especially in the Bhagavad Gita.
How Gurus manage to engage with the world in a completely frictionless manner due to their unique level of transcendence. 
  • Being established in pure being allows for one to flow through life effortlessly, free of attachment. 

The field of guru consciousness
A guru can be anything and anyone. A guru is everything that teaches you a lesson and removes darkness from your life. 
  • Guru can be a traditional master, but it can also be a mother, a father, a friend, one’s sangha (spiritual community), an event/experience, and even elements of nature like a tree, a butterfly or a stone.
The Mother is the first guru of everyone.  

Guru-Sishya Relationships
How these relationships come to be.
The love and devotion between student & master.

The Vedas & The Idea of “Spirituality”

Spirituality in the Vedas is not merely religious practices. It is not an isolated concept or something that is practiced in isolation from other things. 
The Vedas show that spirituality permeates everything, and all things can be spiritual. In the Vedas mathematics are spiritual, science is spiritual, the medical system (Ayurveda) is spiritual, etc. 
All things are integrated with each other in the Vedas, everything is a part of the whole, hence there is a Saṃbandha संबन्ध (connection) between all things.

Vargas (Caste System)

The karma of family lineages.

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Lower Back Discomfort, & Ayurvedic Remedies to Help Rectify Lower Back Pain

Lower Back Pain
The most troublesome area of the spine is the lumbar (lower back) region. Its problems are multifarious.
The paravertebral muscles stemming from the sacrum and iliac crest become stiff and painful. Vertebral discs become diffused, desiccated (degenerate), herniated or bulge.
The spaces within your spine become narrow (spinal stenosis), putting pressure on your spinal nerves. Nerve obstruction, sciatica where nerve pain radiates in the hips and maybe down the legs.
Torn ligaments in the spine, Spondylolisthesis, (bones slip our of place), vertebral fractures, spasms, osteoporosis… the list goes on.
Problems in the lower back can occur due to injury, improper exercise (you may not even know it), sedentary lifestyle, improper digestion, and the build-up of emotional, sexual, and menstrual tensions.
The muscles of the spine may even become unbalanced if the bodyweight is not equally divided between both legs, due to some imbalances of the lower limbs.
If one is overweight, this adds extra strain on the lumbar (lower back) region.
Back pain
Slipped disc and sciatica are caused when the cartilaginous ring of the shock-absorbing spinal discs ruptures and creates pressure on the nerves between the vertebrae. This can be excruciatingly painful.
If the discs degenerate, friction from one vertebrae moving against the other can cause further wear and degeneration of the vertebrae along with a great deal of pain.
Unfortunately, many have become accustomed to lower back discomfort, and this dull body becomes the norm and they don’t recognise this as an issue, nor act on it. They have temporarily lost the cellular memory of a free and healthy body that is their natural state.
Ayurveda luckily has a wide variety of interventions to help.
I always say to my clients who are considering or who have been recommended any type of surgery, if it’s not an emergency (most cases) try natural methods before lastly resorting to surgery.
Graphic of the Spine Anatomy Labeled
I have seen people turn around the need for spinal surgeries, particularly disc disectomies but also spinal decompression procedures, after implementing proper Ayurvedic treatment coupled with appropriate exercise, sometimes other therapies and definitely a passionate action-filled drive to heal themselves.
Most pain in the lower back can be treated without surgery. In fact, surgery often does not relieve the pain; research suggests that 20-40% of back surgeries are unsuccessful.(1) This lack of success is so common that there is a medical term for it: “Failed back surgery syndrome.”

A handful things you can do for Lumbar Freedom and prevent lower back complications:

1. Regular Yoga Asana (poses) - I highly recommend “Sūrya Namaskar“ or “Sun Salutations”. This sequence of 12 asanas works all the major muscle groups and organs, and regular proper practice of this sequence helps improve the condition of the spine and may very well ensure a lifetime free from back problems. If you already have severe back problems, ensure to work one-on-one with a qualified yoga teacher or therapist to adjust appropriately for you.
2. Move - Counter your sedentary lifestyle with getting up from your desk every 1 hour and perform the 1-minute spinal sequence by Simon Borg Olivier on Youtube. Diversify your work positions - check out @vitalveda Instagram reel on alternative work postures. O, and stop running on concrete - run barefoot on grass or sand instead.
3. Oil Massage - Daily abhyanga (full-body oil massage) will help prevent lower back problems, particularly degeneration but so many of them. If you already have deeper spine issues, use special medicated oils warmed before massaging them into the local areas of concern.
Yoga asana in the beach
Follow with heat. We also have some medicated herbal pastes (Upanaha Leham & Marma Lepam) to apply to the areas of pain and obstruction.
4. Ayurvedic Body Therapies (“Back Bastis”) - This where we really see clients establish lumbar freedom and shift imbalances. “Kati, Greeva & Pṛṣṭa Bastis” are traditional Ayurvedic body treatments where warm medicated, analgesic oil is “held” over the targeted vertebrae. The oil and the herbs penetrate deep into tissues of muscle, fat, ligaments, tendons, bone, bone marrow and nerves. Stiff and tight muscles may instantly become lubricated and softened, to help solve many of the problems mentioned.
    • For our clients outside of Sydney and around the world, we provide a special medicated oil for your local Ayurvedic therapist to use on you. This makes a big difference. Reach out to us if interested.
5. Internal Herbs - Various herbs in Ayurveda work on different problems and the root of them. They help relieve pain, inflammation, sprain & spams, nourish the disc, prevent degeneration, repair nerve damage and heal ligament injury.

Lumbar freedom (lumbaton plus)

Helps give freedom from lower back pain.
Helps restores the freedom of movement and liberate from low back pain.
This medicine is also administrated for joint pain, swelling, and sprain. It is formulated using quality natural herbs.
  • Helps relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Helps relieve sprain and muscular spasms.
  • Nourishes the disc and helps prevent degeneration.
  • Helps repair nerve damage.
  • Helps heal ligament injury.

Cervical freedom (cervilon)

Used for Fibromyalgia, Cervical Spondylosis, Upper Back Pain
Benefits:
  • Corrects the dehydration of the intervertebral disks
  • Arrests the degenerative changes of the cervical spine
  • Strengthen the para-vertebral muscles of the neck
  • Relieves myo-fascial spasm
  • Provides mild anti-inflammatory action
Cervical Freedom is effective in treating neck pain, Upper back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, Cervical spondylosis, stiffness, tingling & numbness.
This medicine is also administrated for joint pain, swelling, and sprain. It is formulated using quality natural herbs.
  • Helps relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Helps relieve sprain and muscular spasms.
  • Nourishes the disc and helps prevent degeneration.
  • Helps repair nerve damage.
  • Helps heal ligament injury.

Sciatino (sciatilon)

Used in the treatment of Lumbar Spondylosis, Sciatica, and many other issues in the lower back.

Swarna Dhatu

Restore, Regenerate & Strengthen Tissues
Stabilises the Physiology
Restores and regenerates nerves, bones and tissues, because it nourishes and strengthens all seven layers of the dhatus (tissues) in the body.
Helps to strengthen and stabilise the whole system.
Similar to Dhatu but more powerful.
Can be used by pregnant women to provide strength for woman and foetus.
Swarna Dhatu (Golden Nourisher) by Vital Veda

Special Matra Basti

Works on apāna vāta (pelvic floor and lower back), helps release nerve obstructions, removes blockages from the musculoskeletal structure, aids with joint health, and works on the cellular level all throughout the body.
Special Matra Basti Oil by Vital Veda

Shodana Vati

A powerful detoxification agent and whole-body cleansing rasayana.
  • Best free radical scavenger and anti-oxidant that helps eliminate ama (toxins).
  • Helps in gastrointestinal disorders, trouble passing bowel motions, dry stools, constipation, tissues, piles/haemorrhoids. 
  • Immune modulator.
  • Blood purifier.
  • Helps in allergies.
  • Helps in tooth and oral problems.
Shodana Vati
  • Helps in female problems and helps clear out toxins accumulated.
  • Helps balance cholesterol and metabolism.
  • Helps in chronic cough.
  • Very helpful in eye disorders.
  • Helpful in overcoming addictions.
  • Helps clear the skin by clearing out the toxins accumulated in the tissues. Helps in eczema, psoriasis, hives and other skin conditions.

MGP Oil

Oil for sore muscles, pain, joint issues, arthritis. Can be used for Ayurvedic treatments musculo-skeletal bastis.

6. Good Diet and Digestion - Particularly associated with the large intestine and excess “air” in the gut.
7. Rest During Menstrual Period - This has a big correlation with the lower back and pelvic floor. Check out our articleAyurvedic Guide to Healthy Menstruation.”.
And there are a lot more things for you to for your specific spine and physiology.
MGP Oil (Joints & Muscles) by Vital Veda
Not only when it gets bad, but to PREVENT common ailments. Reach out for some spinal liberation - we do online consultations and treatments in our Sydney clinic.

Base of Spine, Sacrum and Dūrgā (Divine Power)

According to the Vedas, the lower tip of the spinal cord and the sacrum is the source of energy, called “Shakti”.
This source of power is also known asDūrgāin the Vedas, the aspect of consciousness with immense feminine power to remove obstacles so evolution can transform and proceed.
The sacrum is the center of glandular activities and all of the body’s energy.
The sacral bone in the vertebral column is the base and support of the entire vertebral column and nervous system.
The sacrum has eight nerves that correspond to Dūrgā’s eight arms, according to Dr Tony Nader, author of Human Physiology, Expression of Veda and the Vedic Literature.
The filum terminale is also at the tip of the spine. It is a delicate strand of about 20cm of fibrous tissue, about 20 cm in length. It gives longitudinal support to the spinal cord and represents the infinite silence of the Veda in the first maṇdala of Ṛk Veda, according to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Goddess Dūrgā at the sacrum shields and protects the total infinite silence of her consort Shiva at the filum terminale.
How do you care for your lower back? Comment 👇

Iron Deficiency Anemia? – Boost Your Ferritin Levels Naturally

Red Blood Cells

- The Ayurvedic treatment for iron deficiency -

Iron is a mineral that serves several important biological functions, its main one being to carry oxygen throughout your body via your red blood cells (1). 
Iron deficiency has become the biggest mineral deficiency in the world. (3)
About 20% of women, 50% of pregnant women, and 3% of men do not have enough iron in their bodies. (2)
Adolescent girls are most vulnerable, due to increased iron demand, menstrual blood loss, infection, etc. (4)
Disorders of iron metabolism are among the most common diseases of humans and are related to a broad variety of diseases and clinical manifestations.
The solution for iron deficiency, in many cases, is to consume more foods high in iron. (2)
Iron is an essential nutrient, meaning you must get it from external sources like food and/or quality supplementation (read about effective and safe supplementation below). 
Red Blood Cells

What is Haemoglobin, Red Blood Cells and Ferritin?

Serum iron - the amount of iron in your blood.
Haemoglobin - The body transports oxygen to cells via a protein called hemoglobin, which is mostly iron.
Low iron levels mean you’re unable to deliver oxygen or energy to the cells of your body. This is called anaemia, which means “without oxygen.”
Woman yawning
Symptoms of anaemia include:
  • Tiredness / fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Low immunity
  • Headaches
  • Stomach pain
  • Pale skin (in Ayurveda, the name for anemia is “Pāṇḍu” पाण्डु  which means “pale white”)
  • Joint pain
  • Cognitive decline
  • Mood instability
  • Fast heart rate. (5, 6)
Often these symptoms occur even when iron levels are still in the “normal range” of a blood test.
This may indicate a more common issue, ferritin deficiency. 
Serum ferritin (stored iron) - a protein that stores iron and releases it into the bloodstream as the body requires. 
This is the main factor to consider when assessing your iron panel and blood analysis.
Low Ferritin Levels are associated with: (7)
Total iron-binding capacity (TIBC) - How much transferrin (a protein) is free to carry iron through your blood. If your TIBC level is high, it means more transferrin is free because you have low iron.

Blood Testing for Iron - What are the Ideal Ferritin Levels?

Average normal ferritin levels range from 12 to 300 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/mL) for males and 12 to 150 ng/mL for females. (8)
Remember “normal” in standard blood tests is based on the “norm” or average of an unhealthy population. 
Most experts agree ideal ferritin levels are somewhere between 30 and 60 ng/mL. (9)
Above 80-100ng/ml is dangerous (see high iron and hemochromatosis below), and below 20 is too low.

The Relationship Between Vitamin C and Iron

Vitamin C boosts the absorption of iron, so low Vitamin C levels may be a causative factor of low ferritin levels. (10,11,12)
Fruit, veggies and herbs to boost Vitamin C levels:
  • Davidson Plum (Native Australian plum)
  • Citrus fruits
  • Papaya
  • Broccoli
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Mango
Anand Sidhi Yogi, an Ayurvedic herb that helps treat iron deficiency

Ways to Naturally Boost Iron & Ferritin

The Ayurvedic treatment for iron deficiency consists of a holistic approach that will ultimately ensure that you not only incorporate proper sources of iron into your diet & lifestyle, but that your body also develops an enhanced capacity to assimilate iron from these sources.

Iron Increasing Foods

Heme iron sources (animal products, easier to absorb iron), from highest to lower concentration: (1)
  • Oysters, mussels
  • Blood Cockle (iron levels range from 227.85 - 247.98 ppm) - This is very high source of iron so caution even needs to be taken. (16)
  • Goat or chicken liver
  • Sardines
  • Turkey
  • Ham
  • Fish like wild salmon
Oysters served on a plate with lemon slides
Non-heme iron sources (not as easily absorbed, but is possible to obtain sufficient iron), from highest to lower concentration:(1,13)
  • Moringa leaves (can used dried leaves or powder if fresh is not available). Do not cook for maximum iron, just sprinkle on and mix into hot dish.
  • Spinach (lightly cooked, when raw, iron is blocked by oxalates). Organic and fresh as possible is best.
  • Amaranth leaves (lightly cooked)
  • Seeds - pumpkin, sesame, squash and sunflower seeds.
  • Cooked beans and lentils (e.g. kidney beans, white beans, chickpeas, black beans)
  • Firm tofu (beware that soy is a phytoestrogen and may cause hormonal imbalance)
  • Dried figs (careful those with high blood sugar)
  • Baked potato with skin (organic. Beware, increases vata).
  • Plantain (green banana) cooked
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Dried fruits (apricots, raisins, figs, dates, prunes etc)
  • Nuts (peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, roasted almonds, roasted cashews)
  • Warrigal greens (New Zealand spinach)
  • Broccoli
  • Pomegranate, papaya
  • Figs (fresh), kiwi fruit
Related article: Which leafy green vegetable has the highest amount of iron? (article coming soon!)

Soak Your Beans and Lentils

When you soak beans, a compound called phytic acid is released and removed from the bean or lentil.
If you do not soak the beans, this compound stays in the bean, and when ingested in the gastro-intestinal-tract, it latches onto iron and removes iron from the body.
Related article: Phytic Acid in Beans

Cooking in Iron Cookware

This is actually a significant way to increase iron in the body.
And of course, it is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for low iron!
When you cook food in iron vessels, it reacts with the metal surface and the iron gets released in the food.
“Food prepared in iron pots increases the haemoglobin concentration of anaemic/iron deficient individuals.” (14)
Foods that have a higher moisture content absorb the most iron.
For example, one study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that the iron content in 100 grams of spaghetti sauce jumped from 0.6 mg to 5.7 mg after being cooked in a cast iron pot! (15)
That iron load is equivalent to about 200 grams of cooked spinach!
So instead of adding 200 grams of cooked spinach into your lunch-time pasta for 52% of your recommended daily iron, just cook the pasta in an iron pot! (or add the spinach to double the iron content).
Other factors that boost the iron content of foods include:(15)
  • Longer cooking time in the iron vessel
  • Frequent stirring
  • Cooking iron-rich foods in an iron vessel.
  • Use cast iron, rather than the glazed iron.
A cast Iron pan
Acidic foods may absorb more iron also, however sour or acidic foods may react with the iron to create an unpleasant metallic taste. 
Iron vessels are also commonly used in certain Ayurvedic herbal preparations.

Related article: Cooked vs. Raw Food Diet: Transcend Food Fads | Dylan Smith #025

Self-Pulse: Self-Referral Technique and Healing Mechanism to Optimise Iron in the Body

Self-pulse reading
Utilising the self-referral technique of Ayurvedic self-pulse reading can be an intimate and effective tool to gain insight into the levels and sufficiency of your own mineral levels and tissue health.
It is particularly useful to use while you experiment with various interventions like herbs, foods or cooking methods to monitor and gauge the changes in your pulse and hence, the changes in your mineral levels.
You may also share your self-research and insights with your Vaidya (Ayurvedic physician) to refine the process.
Self-pulse is a profound way to gain an insight into your mineral levels that has the potential to be far deeper and holistic than standard blood tests.

Ayurvedic Herbs that Boost Iron

When it comes to the Ayurvedic treatment for iron deficiency, herbal formulas become a key component in the holistic approach. 

Here's a list of our top Ayurvedic formulas to increase iron levels and enhance the body's natural capacity to absorb & assimilate iron from food:

Iron Mineral - The Ayurvedic Way: Loha Bhasma (Iron Ash)
Bhasma is the highly acclaimed Ayurvedic process of purifying a mineral or metal, then calcifying it into ash, then utilising it in a herbal formulation for internal use.
This is a highly advanced and extensive process which creates an end-product that is very different to the original elemental metal.
Bhasmas have the ability to penetrate certain parts of the body very well.
For example, iron molecules are too large to enter the cells, but the bhasma is reduced to nano-particle size, so it can enter the cellular level. The body actually absorbs it effectively.
The purification method (śodana saṃskāra) of minerals is given extreme importance in Ayurveda. It not only makes the mineral and metal more hygienic and safe, but enhances the potency.
One of my favourite classical Ayurvedic formulations that involve loha bhasma (iron ash) is Punarnavadi Mandura.
This herbal preparation promotes cellular re-incarnation, revitalises and restores iron and the lymph system (rasa and rakta dhatu).

Blood Toner (Ayurvedic Raktda herb formula)
Raktda is an ayurvedic supplement that helps maintain optimum hemoglobin levels naturally, boosts energy, and is effective for iron deficiency/anemia.
It enhances your bodies ability to absorb iron naturally from your diet.
This formula is safe (and effective) for pregnant woman.
A wonderful benefit of quality Ayurvedic herbs including iron bhasma is mostly they do not cause constipation or have side effects.
Rakda, an Ayurvedic herb that is very efficient to treat iron deficiency

Iron Supplementation (Nutraceuticals)

Iron supplementation is normally not the answer (long term) and will only lead to more oxidised iron in our system and further iron accumulation in the liver.
Just like iron rusts (oxidises), the same happens in your body with excess iron, which accelerates ageing and tissue degeneration.
Furthermore, iron nutraceutical supplements aren’t the easiest to digest. The liver may find it hard to metabolise and it may cause some digestive issues like constipation.
Iron Infusions:
While iron infusions can provide rapid relief when someone is very iron deficient, it usually doesn’t fix the underlying problem.
In my clinic, I see patients who have been recommended or received iron infusions when their blood markers have not been so dangerously low. 
A potential side effect of iron infusions is the strain and pressure on the kidneys. The kidneys will have to process and eliminate iron which has not undergone proper purification. At least when supplementing with tablets, the un-purified iron gets metabolised by the liver. In the case of intravenous supplementation, it is bypassing the liver and digestive process.
We need to look at why the body is not utilising iron properly
Bio-available copper and other minerals play a role. As do hormones, digestion, and absorption capacity. 
I find assessing the overall metabolism, hormones and energy function of the individual with Ayurveda more effective than a reductionist approach of getting caught up with the numbers and levels of specific minerals.
Iron supplementation can be helpful to acutely address iron depletion or deficiency, but please consider using herbal support, diet and optimising digestion to increase iron levels first.

Jyotish (Vedic Astrology)

Iron (loha) is associated with Saturn (Shani).
Wearing an iron ring on your middle finger (check with your local Jyotishi if this is right for you), using iron vessels to cook with, donating iron or using iron in other ways may enhance and pacify Saturn energy.

To learn more about the effects that Jyotish can have on your health check out "Jyotish: Celestial Organisation of Life with Vedic Astrology | Blaine Watson #041"

Sings of the Zodiac

Caution: HIGH Iron Levels

Excess iron in most cases is even more harmful than low iron and more common!
Hemochromatosis - the term for when your body absorbs too much iron from the foods you eat, can be toxic, cause free oxidative damage and even if overdosed can even be life-threatening.
Always get a blood test before starting any iron supplementation.
Hemochromatosis Treatment:
Luckily, an effective treatment for hemochromatosis is very simple and free - donate blood according to your levels. This may have to be done regularly throughout the year.
One Ayurvedic treatment which also helps plus helps work at the root level is rakta mokṣana (“blood liberation”) by blood-letting treatments like leech therapy. 
Turmeric in high amounts is also an effective chelator of iron, which can be used when iron is elevated. (9) Note, those with low iron should not reduce turmeric, it will actually help build blood when you need it, or clean the blood when you need that instead.
How do you balance your iron levels? Comment below!

The Ayurvedic View, Medicinal Qualities and Risks of Onion & Garlic (2nd Biggest Myth Of Ayurveda) | Dylan Smith #082

Vital Veda Podcast Banner
When ancient wisdom gets popular, confusion and misunderstanding tends to arise within.
The essence and authenticity tends to blur, and this has happened with the knowledge of Ayurveda - the Sacred Science of Healing and Higher Consciousness.
Ayurvedic practitioner and educator Dylan Smith, known for his authenticity and devoted role to keeping the purity of Ayurveda alive and thriving, dispels the 3 Biggest Myths of Ayurvedic medicine.
These MYTHS are:
  1. “You have to be vegetarian” according to Ayurveda - or even that “Vegetarian is the best diet.”
  2. “Onion and garlic are prohibited”.
  3. “Ayurvedic medicines are commonly contaminated with heavy metals.”

In this Episode we Discuss:

The Principle of The Three Gunas

The three maha gunas (great qualities) are: 
  • Sattva: purity, harmonious, creative & virtuous. 
  • Rajas: passion, acceleration, agitation. 
  • Tamas: trapped light, inertia. 

The Emergence of This Myth Being Rooted in The Realm of Yoga

Yogis and Brahmacharis typically avoid onion and garlic in their food because they are high on the rajas guna
  • They stimulate the nervous system and can possibly lead one to break bows of austerity like celibacy or brahmacharya which require the enlivening of the sattva guna instead of rajas

How to Purify Onion and Garlic to Facilitate Digestion & Reduce The Rajas Guna

It is very important to purify these foods in order to make it easier for your body to digest them, and to also enliven the sattva and simultaneously reduce the rajasic qualities in them. 
Purifying garlic: 
  1. Take out the inner green sprout (in GMO Garlic it tends to either be white or indistinguishable) and discard it. 
  2. Fry the garlic in ghee
Purifying onion: 
  1. Remove the skin from each side of the layers. 
  2. Fry it in ghee. 

The Medicinal Qualities of Garlic

Garlic is a very powerful medicine in Ayurveda, prized as a rasayana (literally meaning “that which spreads the elixir of life [rasa]” or anti-aging elixir). 
  • In India, they even call garlic “poor man’s gold”. 
Garlic is good for boosting immunity, fever, sore throats, asthma, various heart conditions and acts as a powerful blood purifier. 
When experiencing a cough/cold: garlic with chili powder and rise is a recommended food. 
It is used in the patra poultice treatment (Ayurvedic massage with boluses of herbs that help with joint pain and various other conditions). 
  • To learn more about this treatment click HERE.
According to the Aṣṭāṅgasaṅgraha of Vagbhata Sutrasthana (Ch.7), garlic is good for:
  • Heart and hairs
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Unctuous
  • Improves taste and digestion
  • Helps unions and/or fractures
  • Gives strength
  • Vitiates blood and pitta (caution here!)
  • Cures lucademia, leprosy and other skin diseases
  • Abdominal tumors, hemorrhoids and diabetes
  • Worms
  • Diseases caused by kapha and vata
  • Hiccups
  • Nasal cataracts
  • Dyspnea and cough
  • Rejuvenates the body 
A very rare feature of garlic is that it has all 5 out of the 6 tastes. 
  • Sweet
  • Salty
  • Bitter
  • Pungent
  • Astringent
Using the gunas (qualities) of garlic to heal certain imbalances in the body.

The Medicinal Qualities of Onion

Onion is cooling
It pacifies pitta when it’s cooked because it turns from pungent (raw) to sweet (cooked). 
Onion gives you energy and enlivens healing when the body feels drained. 
Onion acts as a breast milk purifier & increases sperm count in semen. 
Onion is an aphrodisiac and invigorates strength in the body. 
Good for the respiratory system: congestions and colds. 
Good for nausea.
Good for nose bleeds: cut an onion in half and give it a good sniff. 
It has a sweet post-digestive effect which is very nourishing for the body. 
Great for pitta and kapha

Why Onion And Garlic Tend to be Hard to Digest & How to Amend That

They have certain carbohydrates called fructans.
These fructans react with the gut’s flora and produce gas & bloating. 
Onions also happen to be really high in sulfurous compounds. Sulfur tends to smell quite bad, so it stands to reason that any ‘byproduct’, released as these compounds are digested, will smell quite bad too. 
Onions contain a natural sugar called fructose. Like raffinose and sorbitol, fructose contributes to gas when bacteria in the intestines break it down.
The key to solving “intolerances” to these foods is to improve your digestion. You are not really intolerant to anything! It simply is a matter of teaching your body to digest a certain food! 
  • To learn more on how to enhance your nutrition with Ayurvedic principles you can check out our Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition course.
  • If you are interested in overcoming a specific “food intolerance” you can book a consultation with Dylan HERE
  • To read more about overcoming food intolerances check out our article: "How to Overcome Food Intolerances".

Resources

The Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition -  Online Course

Aṣṭāṅgasaṅgraha of Vagbhata Sutrasthana (Ch.7)


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


Depression, Anxiety & Ayurvedic Mind-Harmonisation

Dylan Smith looking at the sea
Drugs for depression, anxiety, and attention problems are given out in huge numbers almost like a new panacea.
Apparently we can change our brain chemistry and balance our emotional state with drugs alone.
We aren’t being taught to first consider natural alternatives or lifestyle changes
In this approach, we are also losing sovereign composure over of our own brain chemistry.
We are now becoming dependent upon and perhaps even addicted to drugs for our sense of well-being and to maintain “balance” in our physiology throughout the circumstances of life.
This doesn’t only refer to anti-depressants, chemical sedatives, benzodiazepine (anti-anxiety), Methylphenidate (ADHD), or amphetamines alone, but we can develop an unsustainable relationship with nutraceuticals, supplements, narcotics, psychedelics, and our bi-monthly “plant-medicine ceremony.”
All the above certainly have their time and place in mental disease or imbalance, and no doubt can be extremely useful. I have seen them to be lifesaving for patients in my clinic. 
Pills
But I believe overall we need to create a greater perception for a holistic way of balancing the mind and nervous system and treating mental illness. 
Luckily, nature did not leave us without natural medicines for the mind. There are special herbs that support improvement of the mind, mental state, senses, brain and nervous system.
There are a group of herbs in Ayurveda called “Medhya Rasāyanas” that have been taken for millennia to “rejuvenate wisdom”, expand states of consciousness, promote deeper meditations, rejuvenate the mind and improve brain function.
And now, they have a new application in our modern age - to mitigate mind disturbance from screens, social media, work, relationships, collective stress, mental toxins, media etc.
One of my favorite Medhya Rasāyanas for this application is the powerful herbal formula “Bliss” by One Eleven Health.
But it is not just about supporting the body’s nervous system and mind with herbal rejuvenators, we also have to consider other such factors for balancing mental health for a radiant mind and body:
Bliss by One Eleven Health
  1. A suitable meditation practice for that individual
  2. Light cycles - what light are you exposed to in the day and after sunset?
  3. Prana (Life-force) content of food, water, and air
  4. Sun-exposure
  5. Time in nature
  6. Counseling
  7. Relationships and community
  8. Time in energetic vortexes of healing (vāstu / Vedic architecture)
  9. Electromagnetic fields
  10. Sleep
  11. Activity, work, service, role in society and community (dharma)
  12. Working with a quality health practitioner
  13. Body-work therapies and treatments
Please reach out for any support in balancing your mind and emotional state. You have the capacity to and birth-right for emotional and mental stability, we have to enliven the memory of that.
How do you promote the health of your mind and nervous system? Please comment below to inspire others.

Biggest Myth in Ayurveda: Be Vegetarian | The Ayurvedic View on Meat | Dylan Smith #080

Vital Veda Podcast Banner
When ancient wisdom gets popular, confusion and misunderstanding tends to arise within.
The essence and authenticity tends to blur, and this has happened with the knowledge of Ayurveda - the Sacred Science of Healing and Higher Consciousness.
Ayurvedic practitioner and educator Dylan Smith, known for his authenticity and devoted role to keeping the purity of Ayurveda alive and thriving, dispels the 3 Biggest Myths of Ayurvedic medicine.
These MYTHS are:
  1. “You have to be vegetarian” according to Ayurveda - or even that “Vegetarian is the best diet.”
  2. “Onion and garlic are prohibited”.
  3. “Ayurvedic medicines are commonly contaminated with heavy metals.”

In this Episode we Discuss:

Ayurvedic Principles and How They Are Being Taught In Modern Days

Not eating meat is not a part of the Ayurvedic principles.

The Ayurvedic Qualities (Gunas) of Meat

Meat is generally considered to have two gunas: rajas (stimulating, agitating) and tamas (trapped light, inertia). 
Meat is a heavy-to-digest food.

The Ayurvedic Perspective on Meat Eating

Meat being approached as medicine in Ayurveda.

Practical Medicinal Uses of Meat

The Importance of Ethical Sources of Animal Meat

Ways to Replace Meat In Your Diet

It is important when not eating meat to replace complete proteins: this means making sure that you are eating the 9 essential amino acids that make up a protein - now this is not necessarily easy with a plant-based diet, but also not impossible. 
By mixing a legume and a grain (it is important to diversify your grains) you are ingesting the 9 essential amino acids. 
Quinoa, buckwheat & soy contain all 9 essential amino acids. 
  • Soy can affect the hormones (especially estrogen) so it should only be a regular food for those who have been brought up eating soy since childhood & have physiologies that are adapted to digesting these foods. 
There is a lentil in India called the Urad Lentils (Black Gram Lentil) which is often referred to as “meat for vegetarians”. You can either eat that lentil or use Urad flour which is high in protein. 
  • This grain is not to be had every day. 
Mung Dahl is also very good, tridoshic and can be had every day, but has less protein than Urad Lentils. 
Ghee is a very important ingredient that should be present in your diet.

How to Eat Meat Ayurvedically

Your plate should be 50% vegetables, 25% carbohydrates & 25% protein
  • Of that 25% of protein, ideally less than 10% should be meat. 
Have meat only at lunch, never for dinner where your digestive fire is low & your body is undertaking several other processes of repair and assimilation. 
Meat is more of a winter food than summer. 
Add spices to meat; particularly turmeric & then black pepper and ginger are also very good. 
  • These spices are very good to fight back (and kill) the constituents in meat that are not healthy for your body (not to mention the antibiotics & other additives of that nature). 
Cook meat gently, not with extremely high temperatures. 
It is extremely important that you understand the principles of desa, kala & patra and apply them to your own nutrition.

What Meat To Eat?

It is important to diversify. 
Goat meat is the best animal meat you can eat - goats are very fit and they eat a very wide variety of crops and grass. 
  • Find the most ethical goat meat you can. 
 For fish, the smaller the fish, the better - you want to go low on the food chain. 
  • The bigger and older the fish is, the higher mercury contents you will find in its meat. 
  • In general, the fishes to avoid are: bass, lobster, snapper, tuna, grouper, seabass, marlin, shark, swordfish, tilefish (they have the highest levels of mercury). 

Resources


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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


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Why Sunglasses are NOT Healthy | Light: The Divine Healer | Matt Maruca #069

Vital Veda Podcast Banner
The Sun, divine sustainer of all life on earth, also known as Sürya in Sanskrit, can be one of our greatest allies when approached with reverence and understanding. 
Having a clear comprehension of the relationship between the Sun and our own physiology is fundamental to make of this astrological body an empowering force within our lives.
In this episode we break down the science & mysticism behind this astounding & ever-reliable force of nature.  

About our guest: Matt Maruca

Matt Maruca founded Ra Optics to make the world's finest blue light blocking glasses, and created The Light Diet, a diet that directly addresses the root of the modern chronic disease epidemic, mitochondrial dysfunction, after having suffered from poor health and chronic fatigue at a young age due to technology overuse and an indoor lifestyle.
He is now 22 years old and travels the world, studying and teaching about the relevance of light in human health.

In this Episode we Discuss:

The Three Main Causes of Disease In Ayurveda

1) Misuse of intellect (prajnaparadha प्रज्ञापराध):
The term prajnaparadha is made up of two words: prajna translates as “knowledge” or “intellect”, while aparadha translates as “offence” or “transgression”.
This means doing things without properly discriminating as to whether they are favorable or harmful for the body and/or the mind.
Actions taken with prajnaparadha aggravate the three doshas and stimulate the tamas and rajas gunas allowing diseases to become established.  
2) Misuse of senses (asatmendriyartha samyoga तेषां कोपे तु कारणम्):
This term is composed of the words astmaya, which means "improper", indriya which means "sense organs", artha translating as "the objects of the senses" and samyoga meaning "to combine" or "to link". 
Asatmendriyartha samyoga is the improper contact of the senses with their objects, and results in an over stimulation or deficiency of sensory activity. Actions that perpetuate asatmendriyartha samyoga harm the mind-body and lead to an imbalance that prevents the healthy functioning of your organism. 
Being mindful of your 5 senses (pancha Indriya) is a deep-rooted ayurvedic practice that is fundamental for the balance and wellbeing of the body & mind.
The five senses are:
  • Sound (sabda) 
  • Touch (sparsa) 
  • Vision (rupa)
  • Taste (rasa
  • Smell (gandha)
3) Seasonal variations (parinama परिणाम or kala काल):
Parinama in Sanskrit means “change” or “transformation”, and kala means “time”. 
The external environment, be it the seasons or the weather can affect and unbalance the three doshas, triggering diseases in the body. Exposing the body to extreme weather conditions for which it is not prepared very often leads to some form of ailment within the physiology of the body. 
In a more general manner, this also means the passing of time itself and the effects this naturally has on the physical body & cellular decay. 

Sunglasses And The Tamas Guna

When it comes to human-to-human connection, sunglasses are an obstacle that stands in between. 
Sunglasses bring darkness, which in Ayurveda is often linked to the tamas guna (meaning trapped-light and/or dullness).

Rising Above the Detrimental Effects of Wearing Sunglasses

Spiritual masters such as Sadhguru & Dr. Joe Dispenza being avid wearers of Sunglasses and how they can avoid any detriments by becoming true masters of their physiology.
The Yogis who by attaining siddhis have managed to perform extraordinary feats such as living for several years without sleeping or drinking water or eating food. 
Sadhguru wearing sunglasses

The Healing Power of The Sun

Ancient cultures all over the world revered the Sun as a mighty source of healing power. 
  • The ancient Egyptians, Greeks & Romans had a strong reverence for the sun.
      • The Romans used to even have special rooms dedicated to the absorption of the healing powers of the sun, these were called solariums.
Florence Nightingale, a famous English war-time nurse who is believed to be the founder of modern nursing, reported a finding in her practice:
  • She had patients on two wards: one that was exposed to sunlight and the other was very poorly lit. Patients in the sun-lit ward healed much faster than those in the ward with no exposure to natural light.
The recognition that all life on earth is governed by, and fully depends on the energies of the Sun
Florence Nightingale Painting
The etymology of the word "Divine"
  • It comes from the Latin word divnus which in turn has an etymological meaning that comes from an early proto-indo-european language, according to linguistic scholars, is “Daylight Sky-God”.
    • Therefore the idea of something being “divine” implies the acquisition of the properties of the sky, the heavens or that which is above us. 
    • The takeaway being that to be more divine or to be a higher level being, we should embrace the energy of the Sun (that which is above us), invite it & assimilate it into our lives

Circadian Rhythms In The Body & Their Connection With The Sun

The light of the Sun, passing through our eyes is a key variable for proper health since it triggers our circadian rhythms/cycle. 
The term "circadian" comes from two Latin words: circa, meaning “around”, and diēm meaning “day”. 
The circadian cycle or circadian rhythm is the internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle which repeats itself every 24 hours. 
  • This is a very intricate & extremely important process that regulates the production of enzymes & hormones all around the body and determines the availability or scarcity of energy resources that one has every day. 
Studies show that the fission-fusion cycle in the mitochondria within our cells (which in turn regulate the energy resources those cells have) are controlled by the DRP1 protein which is also synchronized to the internal biological (circadian) clock

Woman dancing during sunset
Digestive enzymes & insulin production also being regulated by circadian rhythms.
  • Ayurveda advises that one should have a light breakfast, medium-strong lunch & light dinner
      • Ideally 4 hours before going to bed one should not eat any food. 

Hormones & Light

We have receptors in our eyes called the “Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells” which have a specific pigment called melanopsin that absorbs certain light waves. 
  • These cells are connected to the hypothalamus which regulates all metabolic action within the body.
Dr. Alexander Wunsch and his proposed theory on photo-endocrinology.  
  • How the morning light from the sun stimulates a vast variety of hormones such as the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and the Luteinizing Hormone (LH). 
    • THS regulate thyroid function, the FSH stimulates the gonads which produce the eggs of females and sperm in men & the LH produces estrogen and testosterone in women & men respectively. 
    • Then there’s dopamine and melatonine along with many others. 
        • Full video available down in “resources”.
The Alpha-Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone, which is in charge of triggering the production of melanocytes in your skin and is itself triggered by the light passing through the eye.
  • This melanocytes produce melanin which is the brown pigment that causes taking.
  • When using sunglasses you are blocking the natural entry of light through the eye and therefore melanocytes are not being produced to the extent that is needed, which can in turn lead to sunburn & potentially skin cancer.
Sunglasses filter sunlight, which consequently causes the pupils to stay dilated. But blue-light is not filtered by the vast majority of commercially available sunglasses, which means that blue light still enters the now dilated and fully-receptive pupils and can damage the retina and cause lots of other issues & imbalances

Resources

RA Optics website HERE - Discount Code: VITALVEDA

Matt's Instagram (@thelightdiet) HERE

The Light Diet Podcast HERE

-

Video by Dr. Alexander Wunsch on Photoendocrinology - How natural & artificial light is impacting human’s endocrine system & hormones HERE

Mitochondrial activity related to the circadian clock HERE

"The Surrender Experiment" book by Michael Singer 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.