Brāhma Muhūrta: The Time of Totality & Potent Part of Each Day | Dylan Smith #067

Vital Veda Podcast Banner: The Brahma Muhurta
The Brāhma Muhūrta, also known as the "time of totality" is the period of the day where creative intelligence is at its peak.

Being able to understand and harness these energies is a fundamental aspect of the Ayurvedic daily routine (dinacharya).


In this Episode we Discuss:

An Introduction to The Brahmā Mūhurta

Brāhma in Sanskrit means totality. 
  • It is the field of creative consciousness from which everything springs. 
Muhūrtha is a unit of time. Vedic tradition divides the day into 30 muhūthas of 48 minutes each. 
The brāhma muhūrta is the time of totality. 
These are the names of the 30 muhurtas:
  1. Samudra-muhurta
  2. Brāhma-muhūrta
  3. Dyumadgadyuti-muhūrta
  4. Viṣṇu-muhūrta
  5. Jīva-muhūrta (also known as Amṛta-muhūrta)
  6. Aditi-muhūrta
  7. Kaṇḍa-muhūrta
  8. Agni-muhūrta
  9. Vidhātṛ-muhūrta
  10. Yama-muhūrta
  11. Aśvinī-muhūrta
  12. Puṣya-muhūrta
  13. Ahirbudhnya-muhūrta
  14. Ajapāda-muhūrta
  15. Girīśa-muhūrta

16. Bhaga-muhūrta,
17. Aryaman-muhūrta,
18. Varuṇa-muhūrta,
19. Vāhinī-muhūrta,
20. Naktanakarā-muhūrta,
21. Puruhūta-muhūrta,
22. Sutamukhī-muhūrta,
23. Viśvedevā-muhūrta,
24. Vidhi-muhūrta,
25. Varaha-muhurta,
26. Vasu-muhūrta,
27. Pitṝ-muhūrta,
28. Mitra-muhūrta,
29. Āhi-muhūrta,
30. Rudra-muhūrta

The shloka (Vedic hymn) that introduces the aspect of Dinacharya in Ayurveda states the following:
Brahmī Muhūrta Uttiṣtha Jīrṇajīrṇa Niru Payan
ब्राह्मी मुहूर्त उत्तिष्ठ,जीर्णाजीर्ण निरु पहन
Brahmī comes from the Sanskrit word brahmīk - which is the verb form of brahmā
  • Therefore meaning “that which has Brahma”. When placed before to the word mūhurta, it is saying “The time period that has the value of Brahma, or of creation”. 
Utishta means “get up” + Jīrṇa and Ajīrṇa mean “digestion and indigestion” + Nirupayan means “to judge”.
What this shloka is saying is: wake up in the brāhma muhūrta (the time of totality) & judge your state of digestion or indigestion. 

The Benefits of The Brahmā Muhūrta

The brahma muhurta is the time period before sunrise.
  • Generally speaking, it is said to go from 3:30 am - 5:30 am, but the cusp of the energies available during this period lies on the last 48 minutes before sunrise
One should ideally wake up every day during the brahma muhurta.
The brahma muhurta is also considered in Ayurveda to be the part of the day with Vata dominance
  • Ayurveda divides the day into three parts pertaining to the three doshas.
      • Vata (space & air elements) - from 3am to 6am. 
      • Kapha (earth & water elements) - from 6am to 10pm. 
      • Pitta (fire & water elements) - from 10pm to 3am. 
  • The Vata part of the day is where the air & space element become the most dominant; where subtle movement and actions start to occur
    • The stars are still shining and very much visible. 
    • It is the time period where dreams often occur. 
Brahma Muhurta
    • It is the time when movement starts to happen; some animals begin to wake up & activity is about to start back again.
    • Curiously, it is also the time when people usually wake up to go to the toilet.
According to Ayurveda, the most important aspect when it comes to sleep is when one sleeps, rather than how many hours one sleeps for
  • One should be asleep between 10pm & 3/4am.
    • The pitta (fire + water) part of the day is where the various metabolic processes occur within the body (like digestion of food). Still being active and doing things (even if it is watching a movie or series on your phone in bed) during that time period takes away from our capacity to properly metabolise, which can, in turn, perpetuate various types of ailments in the body. 
    • To learn more about the optimal guide to sleep listen to Optimal Sleep: The Ultimate Guide | Dylan Smith #045
The vata time of the day is also characterized by the quality of gandhana which means “knowledge perception” & sometimes "manifestation". 
Woman doing Yoga during the brahma muhurta
  • During the Vata part one is able to perceive and absorb more knowledge and wisdom
  • According to Ayurveda, this is a great time to study & to do those activities from which we want to make the most out of
Another quality of this Vata time is gati which means “motion” or “movement”.  
  • Waking up during this time period allows one to feel more energized for the rest of the day, you carry on that gati aspect with you for the rest of the day.
    • You feel more energised, creative & light-minded. 
    • On the contrary, if you sleep in and wake up during the Kapha period, that earth & sluggish element will be carried forth the rest of the day.

  • Another aspect of this gati quality is bowel motion, the elimination of waste (a.k.a. mala kriya), which should be carried out early in the morning - before any coffee or breakfast is ingested.
Waking up during the brahma muhurta will promote the creation of sama dhatu (healthy tissues). 
Advice: if you wake up at any time after 3am, to go to the bathroom or whatever reason, start your day right then and there. 
  • Brush your teeth, scrape your tongue & do your dinacharya
Special circumstances:
Cases like infants. the elderly, sick people & night workers are exceptions to these guidelines. 
If you had a celebration/event, went to sleep later than usual and in the morning feel the need for some extra hours of sleep: 
  • Still wake up during the brahma muhurta, do your dinacharya and once you are done with that, judge what your needs are. If needed, then go back to sleep. 
    • BUT, when going back to sleep, sleep for half of the time that you lost
      • i.e. if you went to sleep 3hs past your bedtime, you can ponder sleeping up to 1.5hs extra in the morning. 

"Waking up and not feeling the need to snooze and stay in bed is an indicator of proper health."

In Ayurveda there is a concept called sama dosha which consists of our capacity to both rapidly fall asleep at night & waking up energized and full of vitality. 
The concept of perfect health in Ayurveda is explained in one shloka of the Sushruta Samhita:
“Sama dosha sama agnischa sama dhatu mala kriyaaha
Prasanna atma indriya manaha swastha iti abhidheeyate”
This means: one is in perfect health when the three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), the digestive fire (digestion, assimilation and metabolism) all the body tissues & components (dhatus), all the excretory functions (the physiological functions of urination and defecation) are in perfect order with a pleasantly disposed and contented mind, senses and spirit.

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


Travel Healthy! Reduce Aeroplane Stress

Aeroplane travel will surreptitiously “suck the life out of you.” It sucks all the moisture out of your body.
With the humidity level in the cabins of most commercial aeroplanes at just 10-20%, and some even as low as 1%!(1), this makes aeroplanes drier than the Sahara Desert! which sits at about 25% humidity.

Take a good look at yourself in the mirror after travelling, especially if you travel a lot. If you are slightly in tune with your body, you will probably realise how much aeroplane travel accelerates your ageing process.

You may be surprised to learn the many risks associated with air travel.

For example, one study shows how bacteria can stay alive and continue to be infectious for more than a week on the armrests, seat pockets, seats and bathroom doors of commercial aircrafts. The dry air is said to contribute to their extra-long life on aeroplanes. (2)

That’s not to mention the health risks associated with jet lag, dehydration, swelling and fatigue.

Altitude Shock = Dehydration & Dryness

Ever wonder why it is so easy to fall asleep in a plane? It is likely because the oxygen has been literally sucked out of your brain as the cabin is being pressurised.

When people flock to mountain towns to hike, ski or for leisure, it is very common for them to get altitude sickness. Even fit athletes who train at altitude can tell the difference when they climb to 3,000 meters. In a plane, this altitude change happens in just a couple of minutes!

Dehydration and body dryness is the most instant result of altitude shock.

If you are flying a lot and your body is repeatedly put through such drastic altitude changes, the effects become chronic. Chronic sub-clinical dehydration will first dry out the outer skin and then dry out the skin associated lymph beneath the skin. When this dries out, lymphatic flow is hampered, compromising its function of draining toxins and circulating white blood cells around the body for immunity.

The good news is, I’ve compiled some effective strategies to buffer these risks. Incorporating just a few simple tips to your air travel routine will help lessen the impact of flying and help you feel more vibrant during and after your trips.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Pre-Hydrate

For 1-2 days before you fly, make every effort to drink plenty of warm-hot water. Approximately 2-3L depending on your body weight. Fresh coconut water is also recommended if in season and local.

On the day of your flight, sip hot water every 10-15 minutes to help further hydrate and support the lymphatic system.

Lubricate

Perform Ayurvedic Self-Abhyanga (Massage) before and after trips or treat yourself to an Abhyanga if available, especially upon arrival.

This will not only counter the dryness but effectively move the lymph and circulate blood. Continue to topically apply oil as a moisturiser on the flight.
Pack a little Ghee as lip balm, or use the massage oil.

Shilajit

Used by Himalayan mountain climbers to gain energy for climbing at heights above 6,000 meters and to help oxygenate at high altitudes. The active ingredient of this ancient herb, Fulvic acid, has now been found by scientists to support oxygen and energy transport. Consider taking this herb around travel days.*

* It is best to take herbs in a therapeutic combination rather than by itself. If taking by itself, have 1 day break every 7 days. Consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for a proper formulation and prescription. 

Pitta body types take caution as Shiljait is very heating and may aggravate Pitta.

Recycled Air

The Journal of Environmental Health Research reported that air travel increases the risk of catching a cold by 100 times because of the recycled air.

While exposure is unavoidable, we can increase our immunity and decrease our susceptibility.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Nasya

My most prized aeroplane survival tool.

Nasya is an Ayurvedic technique which involves lubricating the nasal passages (responsible for immunity).

Oil to use:  Vital Veda/Raju Nasika herbalised oil formula is superior. Inferior but still effective is Anu Tailia or cold pressed sesame oil.

Method: Tilt the head back and drop 1-3 drops in each nostril every hour so. The aim is to sniff it through the entire nasal passages, and even further up to your brain.
Also pop a couple of drops in your ears to deal with cabin pressure.

Learn about Nasya more here

Immune Boosting Rasayana (Elixir)

Ananda Siddhi Yog
Highly nourishing to the body and boosts immunity, strengthens and repairs all the seven layers of the dhatus (tissues) and gives all the refined nourishment you need for rapid healing. Very good for chronic coughs (strengthens the lungs) and restores physical vitality.
This is superior to Chywanprash.
Take 1 tsp 1-2x/day. Contact Vital Veda to order.

Chywanprash
This trusted and popular Ayurvedic formula supports immunity. This is a classic remedy for supporting frequent travellers and mitigating your risk of catching a cold during a flight.
*Please buy a quality product from a trustworthy source such as Vital Veda or Maharishi Ayurveda.

Jet Lag

Imagine air-lifting a dolphin from the Tasman Sea off the coast of Sydney, Australia to the Indian Ocean by Singapore in just 8 hours. Then, after a quick layover, air-lift that same dolphin to the harbour in Hong Kong in 4 hours.

Would you expect that dolphin to ever re-establish normal migration patterns? If so, how long do you think it might take?

For humans too, this disruption of the body’s normal biological rhythms is very real.

Jet lag can cause fatigue and lead to cognitive decline, sleep issues, and even psychotic or mood disorders.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Daily Ayurvedic Massage

Since your skin has more nerve endings than any other organ, applying herbalised oil will pacify the nervous system. Every square centimetre of the body’s skin is innervated by sensory neurons. These neurones are much happier when fed with herbalised oil, rather than left dehydrated to become irritated and over-stimulated. Learn to do self-massage.

Abhyanga oil massage as a good alternative for hand soap

Watch the Sunrise & Sunset

Watch the sunrise and sunset to re-connect with the local circadian cycles. Natures rhythms will enter through the retina of your eyes to regulate hormones like melatonin.
Even if it means pulling yourself out of bed, it’s worth it, and beautiful.

Ashwagandha

Considered by many to be one of the most potent adaptogens, this herb supports the body’s ability to adapt to stress like that incurred by jet lag and prevent you from absorbing the crippling impact.

It is best to take herbs in a therapeutic combination rather then by it self. If taking by itself, have 1 day break every 7 days. Consult a quality Ayurvedic practitioner. I recommend the product Stresscom as a good source of ashwagandha.

Blood Clots

20 million travellers will develop blood clots, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) a year.(3)
The risk factors seem to be a combination of sitting still for hours in a pressurised cabin, lymph congestion and dehydration.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Get Up and Move Regularly During Long Flights

  • Walk up and down the aisles more
  • Yoga Asanas - find a more spacious place to do stretches - I usually go near the bathroom, back or front of a section, near the staff stations, exit rows, rows with more leg room, empty business class areas, or my favourite, the muslim praying area.
  • Stretch your neck, rotate ankles, wrists, as much as you can while sitting.

Herbal Support

If DVT is an issue for you, it is important to consult a practitioner to tackle this problem. More complex herbs and treatment are required to dilate the channels.

Rest As Mentioned Above

Hearing Loss

Airline cabins range from 75 decibels in the front of the plane to 85 to 100 in the back. A loud nightclub, for example, roars at about 100 decibels. The Institute for Occupational Safety and Health limits safe noise levels to 88 decibels for four hours. This suggests that there is potential risk of permanent hearing damage during frequent flights that last longer than four hours.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Noise Reduction Headphones

If you are a frequent traveller, consider a set of noise reduction headphones, which reduce noise by about 40 decibels.

Nasya in the Ears

Pop a couple of Nasya oil drops in your ears before flying. Hold the head on each side for about a minute for the oil to sink down deep down into the eardrum.

Constipation

Very common due to jet lag, altitude shock and dehydration.

Swelling

Mainly caused by congested lymph.
Causative factors of lymph congestion are almost all of the idea discussed above, particularly:

  • Constipation dries out the lymph concentration on the gut wall.
  • Altitude shock affects cellular pressure, which is responsible for lymph movement.
  • Sitting still for hours may congest the lymph as their is no movement to pump the lymph and regulate the circulatory system.
  • Dehydration directly affects lymph flow.
  • Jet lag creates stress on the body, which is a major cause of lymph congestion.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Vital Veda / Raju Shodana Vati

Detoxification agent & whole-body cleansing purifier. 3-dosha blanching. Accordingly these herbal pills prepared by the Raju family will support regular bowel motions.

Triphala

Tripahla is a natural bowel toner that supports regular bowel movements. It can be used for short periods of time around travels without dependency. available at Vital Veda.

*Not necessary if you are taking “Shodana Vati.”

Sip Hot Water Frequently

Ensure you have a thermos with you to keep refilling. You’ll make best friends with the flight attendant and perhaps contribute to the revolution of drink hot water rather than cold.

Vata Tea

Since the Vata dosha gets mostly thrown out during travel, a Vata tea can assist in balancing. My favourite Vata tea is from Moksha Ayurveda.

Meditate More

Due to the harsh environment of an aeroplane, meditate as much as you like! It will buffer against jet lag, provide deep rest, and get you through the flight a lot more joyfully. Vedic Meditation is recommended.

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

These only dehydrate you further while in the flight.

Tongue Scraper and Herbal Toothpaste

Don’t forget these in your carry on luggage for long flights to scrape away the ama (toxins).

My on-board travel kit. Also includes a thermos and some Vata tea bags.

Don’t just Arrive Alive, Arrive and Thrive!

References
(1) Robert Haru Fisher, http://www.frommers.com/articles/4606.html
(2) http://wireeagle.auburn.edu/news/1656
(3) “The Lancet,” New Zeland, 2003.
Credits: Dr. John Doulliard, Lifespa.com