Just Breath: Science of Breathing for Optimal Health | The Breathing Diabetic (Nick Heath) #072

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Nick Heath, aka The Breathing Diabetic, is utilising simply breathing techniques to manage and improve his type 1 diabetes - a medical condition that requires 24/7, 365 days/year attention.
But simply shifting your breathing mannerism has other health benefits beyond just healthy blood sugar levels. 
Nick is a breathing nerd. He’s hooked on breathing. And the beautiful thing is that he’s not an extremist, but rather shares very practical interventions and subtle adjustments to your way of living (breathing) that has the potential to significantly heal and prevent imbalance + and optimise overall health.
We dispel the myths of oxygen is good and carbon dioxide (C02) is bad.
We explore the Nobel prize winning panacea molecule that is freely available to you, how to optimise your exercise, sitting and walking practice + much more!
Take a deep calm belly breath through the nose and get ready to dive deep into the realms of oxygen, breath and our fundamental life-force. 

About our guest: Nick Heath

Nick Heath Ph.D., a.k.a. The Breathing Diabetic, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 11.
At age 30, he began practicing simple breathing exercises that helped improve his blood sugars, improve his sleep, and increase his energy levels, all of which helped him better manage his diabetes.
Having a background in scientific research, Nick wanted to understand the inner workings of breath to not only be able to explain the reason behind the changes he was experiencing, but to exploit and push the boundaries of breath therapy.  This curiosity led him on a deep quest to understand the science behind breathing its implications on the human physiology.
Nick Heath, a.k.a. The Breathing Diabetic
By means of the The Breathing Diabetic platform he generously shares and breaks down complex pieces of wisdom for all to understand and make use of.
Nick’s formal education is in atmospheric science, and he is also a certified Oxygen Advantage instructor.

In this Episode we Discuss:

Nick’s Early History with Type 1 Diabetes

He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 11 years old.
At the age of 25 he started wondering what habits he could implement that would positively influence his capacity to regulate blood-sugar levels. 
  • Little by little he started changing his nutrition, and his energy levels and long-term averages of his blood sugars started to improve. 
After that he was intrigued by the lengths to which meditation, yoga and breathwork practices could allow him to attenuate and/or eradicate his diabetes. 
Up to this point he has managed to reduce his insulin injections in 40-45% while keeping stable blood-sugar levels. 

Why Put In The Effort When There's Insulin Out There?

Diabetes is not merely a nuisance in terms of having to inject insulin, but it also often turns into a liability due to its proven relationship to various long term complications, and emotional/mood instability (since blood sugar tempers with your brain chemistry therefore severely affecting mood & emotional health).  
Over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
According to the World Health Organization: 
  • Adults with diabetes have a two-to-three-fold increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Diabetes is the cause of 2.6% of global blindness.
  • Diabetes is among the leading causes of kidney failure.
Being able to have a grip on your health and taking some control back from the disease is very empowering and allows for an increased wellbeing & peace of mind. 

The Relationship Between Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide In The Body

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the molecule that indicates to our body it is time to breathe. 
  • The inhaling of air is triggered by the body sensing high levels of carbon dioxide, not low levels of oxygen
Carbon dioxide loosens the bonds between the oxygen molecules and hemoglobin in red blood cells, which allows for the assimilation of those oxygen molecules into the cells of our tissues. 
In breathwork techniques such as pranayama (प्राणायाम), we are tough to reduce the volume of our breaths, which causes an increase in CO2 levels, which in turn allows more oxygen to enter the cells.
Intermittent hypoxia
This practice consists of a person or animal going through alternating periods of normoxia and hypoxia.
  • Normoxia is defined as exposure to regular oxygen levels and hypoxia as any oxygen levels lower than those of normoxia
This practice teaches your body how to withstand higher levels of CO2, which is going to allow you to breathe less air and more effortlessly in your everyday life.
Although holding your breath for too long can lead to a lowering of oxygen saturation, when done in a controlled manner it can be very therapeutic.
  • It can help with insulin sensitivity.
  • It can help with immune function.
The spleen contracts and triggers red-blood cell production to increase oxygenation, which in turn increases oxygen assimilation and energizes you.
There is a type of breathwork in which people take light inhales with deep exhales and then hold their breath while walking or jogging. This increases carbon dioxide levels to extremes and gets their body in a very acidic state which induces a lot of stress in the body and mind.
  • Many athletes practice this to increase their level of performance.

The Wim Hof Method

It basically consists of hyperventilating the body, which increases your pH to alkaline levels & severely reduces carbon dioxide concentration in the body.
  • Since high carbon dioxide levels are the triggering stimuli for breath, lowering these in that manner allows for an extended period of time in which the body doesn’t feel the need to breathe. 
What happens then is that oxygen-blood saturation in the body plummets to about 50% due to a lack of carbon dioxide
Wim Hof sitting bare-chested on ice

The Many Benefits of Nasal Breathing

Nasal breathing reduces your breathing volume naturally, so by teaching yourself to breathe through your nose consistently you will be able to breathe less and more efficiently
The turbinates in your nose filter out pollutant particles and cilia (microscopic hairs) move said particles out of your sinuses and back into your nose so that they don’t make it down into the lungs; as opposed to the mouth which doesn’t have such a complex filtering system.  
Nitric oxide is a gas that’s released in your nasal cavity.
  • It not only has antibacterial & antiviral properties, but also acts as a vaso-dilator when the air enters your lungs (opens up blood vessels and improves blood flow, thus oxygen assimilation [which in turn leads to higher energy levels]).
Nasal breathing can be of great help to those suffering from ailments such as acidity, reflux, or any other upward-moving condition (Ūrdhva ऊर्ध्व in Sanskrit).

Meditation & Breath

When meditating your body enters into a hypometabolic state, where there’s a reduced oxygen concentration & an increased carbon dioxide levels. 
  • Experiencing this regularly teaches your body how to adapt to low-oxygen availability and high carbon dioxide levels, basically allowing your physiology to do more with less resources.  

Mouth Taping

It is a life-altering practice for those who are chronic mouth breathers. 
It forces you with very little to no inconvenience, to breathe nasally during the night, which allows you to harness all the benefits of nasal breathing. 
Mouth taping assists entering deep sleep. 
Couple sleeping in bed with their mouths taped
It decreases the incidence of obstructive sleep apnea. 
Breath becomes much more regular and consistent when happening through your nose, as opposed to through your mouth.

Treating Asthma With Breathwork

Nick’s mentor and world renown author and breath practitioner, Patrick McKeown, was asthmatic and yet by the power of breath he taught his body to tolerate higher levels of carbon dioxide, which helped him quit inhalers and all the asthma-medication he was taking.  
The Buteyko Method, originally formulated by the Soviet doctor Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko, consists of the use of chronic repetitive breathing exercises to correct hyperventilation and hyperventilation-related conditions (such as asthma).

Treating Diabetes With Breathwork

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is composed of three main branches: the sympathetic (in charge of fight-or-flight responses), parasympathetic (in charge of rest and digest responses) and enteric nervous systems. 
  • In most cases of diabetes, the sympathetic nervous system is substantially more active than the parasympathetic
    • This causes blood sugar to fluctuate a lot, stress to be heightened,  sleep quality to be poor and cardiovascular complications, amongst many other possible ailments. 
      • Breathwork reduces the level of activity of the sympathetic nervous system, hence severely contributing to returning the autonomic nervous system to balance.
The stress alone of merely being concerned by one’s own diabetes every single day, all day, is long-term very straining for the body. 
  • It is therefore important to be equipped with tools and techniques that allow one to take back some control without needing to depend on any external source/context for relief or sustenance. 
Diabetes-related ailments mainly surge from a poor regulation of blood-sugar and improper blood circulation, and those two health fields are the ones breathwork practices manly affect. 
Tissue oxygenation being one of the main issues that lead to diabetic complications. 
  • Theory is that diabetics get less oxygen delivered to their cells, which leads to insulin resistance & chronic sympathetic (fight-or-flight) activation
  • By practicing breathing techniques that optimize gas exchange, carbon dioxide levels, and give you nasal nitric oxide (which improves oxygen assimilation into the cells), you are preventing many of these possible diabetes-related complications

Simple Breathwork Practices

Slow Breaths: 4 seconds inhalation, 6 seconds exhalation, through the nose only. After two minutes you should get a feel of how it starts to affect you.
  • This is a good place to start for anybody, even children.
Then there’s simple pranayama techniques such as alternate-nostril breathing.
Phone apps you can use:
  • iBreathe
  • Breath Wrk
    • Details on the giveaway of a 1 year-subscription down below in “Resources”.
“Breathwalking”: Counting your steps with your breath is a common easy-to-apply practice for starters on breathwork.
  • e.g. 4 steps during inhale, 6 steps during exhale (or whatever number feels comfortable)
  • For diabetics, walking after meals helps with blood-sugar spikes.

Resources

Nick’s Website HERE

Nick’s Instagram (@thebreathingdiabetic) HERE 

Nick’s email (nick@thebreathingdiabetic.comHERE

-

Buteyko Clinic HERE 

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


The Ayurvedic View on Asthma (Śvāsa)

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

In this article we discuss

The Seriousness of Asthma

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

Causative Factors (Hetu) for Asthma

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

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

Causative factors that aggravate kapha then specifically may lead to asthma

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

Causative factors that aggravate kapha then specifically may lead to asthma

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

Pathology of Asthma

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

5 Types of Asthma

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

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

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

TREATMENT (CIKITSA)

Foods to Include in Your Diet

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

Tulsi

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

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

Foods to Avoid

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

Lifestyle Recommendations

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

Herbal Remedies Helpful for Asthma

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

Food Recipes

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

Panchakarma (Purification Therapy)

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

Book a Consultation with Dylan

Engage with Dylan to address your specific state of health and condition. You will be provided with a health plan designed for you to be self-sufficient in balancing your health.
  • Click HERE to book your consultation.

Resources

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

The Power of Hanuman: Accessing The Superman Within You

Illustration of Hanuman, a Vedic god

While I will share with you the beautiful mythological story of Hanuman, the deeper significance and intended outcomes you can experience from this tale will also be shared.

The Actual Purpose of Mythology

The Gods and Goddesses of Indian “Mythology” are symbols of states of consciousness. Usually states of higher and expanded consciousness which are told in a legendary format. The sequence of the story (legend) triggers a “eureka” experience. This connects oneself with the larger universe, usually experienced in an abstract fashion.

Myth is the story in the collective imagination that explains the infinite mystery of our existence.

Story Of Hanuman

It is told that as a child, Hanuman rose to the skies to catch the sun, thinking that it was a bright and delicious fruit, and wanted to eat it. He rose up to the skies in the direction of the sun to grab that substance and swallow it.

Indra, the ruler of the heavens, was startled at this adventure of a mortal trying to ascend to the heavens and grab the solar orb, so he gave such a blow on the chin of this little boy with his weapon called Vajra (disc) and Hanuman fell down unconscious.

Hanuman’s father, Vayu (wind god) got annoyed at this.

“My son has been treated so badly by these gods…I shall teach these fellows a lesson.” Vayu, the wind god, withdrew himself from all parts, and everyone stopped breathing. Nobody could breathe. There was suffocation and agony everywhere, and even the celestials ran to Brahma (the Creator): “There is some terrific suffering. This wind is very angry. Please go and give him blessing.”

Brahma then blessed Hanuman - “No weapon can hurt this child. Not even the five elements can harm him. Not even celestial missiles except my own Brahmastra can have any effect on him…he shall be invincible and no one can stand before him.”

Hanuman is the Aspect of Consciousness (in everyone and everything) which encompasses:

Cosmic Vayu (Air) manifests into Prana (Life-force)

Not just our physical prana but the prana of our mind and all the vibratory forces in the universe.

Vayu manifests as technological information (data, calculations, communications), light, or electrical force.

Cosmic Vayu links us to the cosmic mind that aligns all minds together in an interconnected network of thought. Hanuman is the most wise and observant. A master who decisively discriminates between the intellect (buddhi) and the inner intelligence (purusha) to reveal the highest truth.

This prana manifests when you connect to the unlimited potentials within us. 

Mastering the Dynamic Power of Yoga

Cosmic Vayu gives flexibility of body, unbounded vitality, stout-hearted will power, motivation and dynamic mind capacity.

Tapping into Hanuman consciousness grants certain yoga siddhis (dormant non-local potentials of perfected human-capabilities that exist in every consciousness). Capabilities like movement, extraordinary perceptivity and mastery of the senses and cosmic energies.

Our highest prana merges with immortal Prana. Dedicate ourselves as Hanuman to Rama, to offer our mortality or temporal existence to the immortal and infinite.

Cosmic Vayu Attunes One to Live in Harmony with Nature

Vayu governs the creation and equilibrium of nature and the universe as a whole.

As the wind blows, so the clouds move and rain.

Vayu moves the sun and moon, which govern the earth through gravity. Cosmic Vayu actually creates galaxies (through smoke clouds).

Hanuman is the conduit of the power of Rama: universal Self who orchestrates all nature. This is true bhakti (devotion).

Incredible Strength

Self-power (Atma Shakti) to realise our higher potential and accomplish what is supernatural and transformational. Fearlessness, self-confidence, daring and boldness to attempt the impossible and succeed.

Established in the field of transcendence, then we can playfully interact with all the energies across the vast layers of the universe.

Access your deeper cosmic energy and Become Hanuman.

Credits:

Bibliography: American Institute of Vedic Studies, David Frawley.
Feature photo: Art by MTM Nataraja
other art: unknown, but thank you.

Related Reading: The Power of Mother Divine and “Navaratri” and How to Access Its Regenerative Energy


Doshas and their Gunas (Qualities) and Functions

Learning the inherent Qualities (Gunas) and Characteristics (Lakshana) of each Vata, Pitta and Kapha provides a good framework to grasp an understanding of the nature of these doshas, or bio-energies.

Learning or perhaps memorising those the classical texts (sastras) mentioned provides more expertise as these are authoritative and pure teachings.

Some of these translations don't do the sanskrit words justice. It is wise to learn the sanskrit since sanskrit is the sound that nature makes when intending form, function or phenomena. These "sounds" are expressing the quality or function of the dosha. These words are onomatopoetic, not symbolic.

GUNAS (Qualities)

Vata: Akasha (Space) and Vayu (Air) Elements

Vata Gunas

Tatra rukso laghuh sitah kharaha suksmascalo ‘nilaha (A.H. ch 1. 11)

  1. Ruksha - dry.
  2. Laghu - light.
  3. Shita - cold (and dry).
  4. Kara - rough. With dryness.
  5. Suksma - subtle.
  6. Chala - (constant) movement. Like a snake or ant.
  7. Sara - lubricated movement (Caraka).
  8. Vishada - dry slippery like the touch of a reptile. (Caraka). e.g. Kapikachu (Mucuna prurita) before touching it is vishada.

Pitta: Tejas (Fire) and Apa (Water) Elements

Pitta Gunas

Pittam Sasneha tiktsnosnam laghu visram saram dravam (A.H. ch 1. 12)

 

  1. Sasneha - little less unctuousness. Hot due to paka (digestion) in transformation process. Feels like the wick of a ghee lamp.
  2. Tiksha - sharp.
  3. Usna - hot. e.g. aggressive and angry voice and chilli on tongue is sharp and hot (Tiksnonam).
  4. Laghu - light. 
  5. Visram - foul, fermented, strong. (not part of 20 gunas).
  6. Sara - slippery, like banana peel. 
  7. Drava - liquid.
  8. Amla - sour (Caraka)
  9. Katu - pungent (Caraka) 

Kapha: Prthvi (Earth) and Apa (Water) Elements

Kapha Gunas

Snigdha Shito Gsurur Mandaha Ślaksno mrtsnaha sthiraha Kaphaha (A.H. ch 1. 12) 

  1. Snigdha - unctuousness.
  2. Shita - cold.
  3. Guru - heavy - stable movement, solid.
  4. Manda - dull, slow.
  5. Slakshna - smooth (like ice-cream).
  6. Mrtsnah - greasy. Magnetic attraction. Binding. (not in 20 gunas, not even 41 gunas).
  7. Sthira - stable.
  8. Hema - very cold. With water quality (Susruta).
  9. Madhura - Sweet. (caraka) Pleasantness. Ojas.
  10. Mrdhu - soft. (Caraka).

Characteristics of Healthy Doshas

General Functions of Vata

  • Praspandanamrespiratory movements
  • Udvahanam – carrying dosas, dhatus, malas here and there
  • Pūranamfilling the respective viscera with āhāra rasa
  • Vivekahsegregation of rasa (essence) and malas (waste)
  • Dhāranamupholding / maintenance of the body. - Since vata governs movements and nourishment of the tissues, this way it upholds and maintains.

Vata Lakshana (Characteristics of Normal Vata)

  1. Utsaha - Enthusiasm
  2. Ucchvasa - Inhalation.
  3. Nivsvasa - Exhalation.
  4. Cesta - Action of all bodily functions. Peristalsis, circulation.
  5. Dhatu gatih sama - Proper development of dhatus.
  6. Samo mokso gatimatam - Proper elimination of malas.
  7. Vega Pravatana (Completing) (Vaghbata, Sutrastana. Ch. 11 (1))

General Functions of Pitta

Pitta Lakshana (Characteristics of Normal Pitta)

  1. Darshana (vision).
  2. Pakti (digestion)
  3. Usman - body warmth
  4. Trsna and krsut - thirst and hunger
  5. Deha (body) Mardava (soft) - eg. heat old bread to become softer.
  6. Prabha - glow. Radiant.
  7. Prasada - pleasant.
  8. Medha - intellect. Digesting information. Also if you have a digestive problem your intellect cannot function properly.

According to Vaghbata:

  1. Meda - fat
  2. Dhi - acquisition of information.
  3. Shaudya - bravery.
  4. Tanu mardave - soft body.
  5. Ruchi - taste in everything. Enjoying mentally and physically

General Functions of Kapha

  • Sandhisamślesana - Unification of joints and Unction
  • Ropana - Wound healing (because of apa bhuta / water element)
  • Pūranakrt - promoting corpulence - because of being abundant and massive;
  • Balakrt - strengthening
  • Sthairyakrt - providing firmness in trika joint (scapula junction) or in all locations of kapha.

Kapha Lakshana (Characteristics of Normal Kapha)

  1. Sneha - friendly, oily.
  2. Bandha - binding.
  3. Sthira - stability.
  4. Gaurava - heaviness.
  5. Vrsata - virility and endurance.
  6. Bala - power.
  7. Ksama - tolerance.
  8. Dhrti - patience and bring knowledge into action
  9. Alobha - not greedy.
Vagbhata:
  • Sthiratva - stability.
  • Snigdhava - oily.
  • Sandhi bandha - binding joints.

Dosha Lakshana as per Caraka Samhita, Ch. 18,(49-51).

Vrdhini Lakshana (Characteristics of Increased Doshas)

Vata Vrdhini Lakshana (Characteristics of Increased Vata)

  1. Kasha - emaciation.
  2. Karsnya - darkness.
  3. Usnakamatva - Liking the hot.
  4. Kampa - tremors.
  5. Ānāha - distention and disturbing in intestines.
  6. Śakrt (fecal matter) grahān (catch) - a type of constipation.
  7. Bala bhramsha - energy. Bhramsha = moves out of its place.
  8. Nidra bhramsha.
  9. Indriya brahmsha.
  10. Pralapa - excessive talking. Whatever comes you will say. Unnecessary.
  11. Brahma - delusions/illusions.
  12. Dinata - Timid. Lowliness (low in status). Begging/contrast. Like a king who has to beg.

Credits:

Slohkas chanted by Vaidya A.V. Raju

Pitta Vrdhini Lakshana (Characteristics of Increased Pitta)

Peeta vinmutra netra tvak.

  1. Peeta - yellow.
  2. Vit - (yellow) fecal matter.
  3. Mutra - (yellow) urine.
  4. Netra - (yellow) eyes.
  5. Tvak - (yellow) skin.
  6. Kshut - hunger.
  7. Trt - thirst.
  8. Daha - burning sensation.
  9. AlpaNidraha - Less sleep, insomnia - easy to get to sleep but wake up early, sleep disturbed with emotions.

Kapha Vrdhini Lakshana (Characteristics of Increased Kapha)

  1. Slesma Agni sadanam - displace of agni.
  2. Praseka - excess saliva.
  3. Alasya - lazy.
  4. Gauravam - heaviness.
  5. Shvaitya - pale skin, white.
  6. Shaitya - coldness.
  7. Shlathangatva - unstable like jelly. Like a baby walking.
  8. Swasa - dyspnoea.
  9. Kasa - cough.
  10. Atinidrata - excess sleeping.

Learn more by learning the sub-doshas

Credits:

  • Slohkas chanted by Vaidya A.V. Raju. Slohkas from Astanga Hrdayam.
  • General functions of doshas - Susruta Samhita, Sutra Sthana, Ch 15
  • Dosha Lakshana - Caraka Samhita, Ch. 18,(49-51) and Astanga Hrdaya.
  • Gunas of each dosha – Astanga Hrdayam of Vaghbata – Sutra Sthana.
  • Dosha Vrdhi - Astanga Hrdaya, S.S. Ch. 11,(6-15) / Astanga Samgraha Ch. 19: Knowledge of Dosas.
  • Watercolour paintings (copyright) by Dylan Smith.