Ayurveda - Agni

Ayurveda - Introduction

 

Introduction to Ayurveda

Definition
The word 'Ayurveda' is derived from two words—'Ayus' meaning life and Veda meaning 'knowledge' or 'science'. So the literal meaning of the word Ayurveda is 'The science of life'.
 

Life or Ayus, according to Ayurveda, is a combination of senses, mind, body and soul. So Ayurveda does not just limit itself to the body or physical symptoms, but also provides comprehensive knowledge about spiritual, mental and emotional health.
 
The traditional healing system of Ayurveda is based on a theory of balance between the body (physical), the soul (spiritual) and the mind (psychological).

 

Aim
Ayurveda has two main goals:
 
• To maintain the health of the healthy.
 
• To heal the sick.
 

The ultimate aim of Ayurveda is to always maintain good health and well-being. And health, according to Ayurveda, is not merely eliminating the physical symptoms of a disease, but also restoring the happiness of the person's mind and soul. Often people may not be suffering from physical problems but they may very unhappy and disturbed mentally. According to Ayurveda, such a person would be in a state of ill health.
 

Problems like depression, anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia, originate mainly from sickness of mind and soul. Unfortunately, most of our actions and activities today, are related to materialism and our physical body. We rarely pay attention to our other half, which is equally important—the mind and the soul. The diets and lifestyles we follow for achieving peace and happiness may not be healthy for our inner selves. Since we are no longer taught the importance of mental and spiritual health—we remain unhappy, depressed, anxious and insecure, despite our best efforts. This is clearly indicative of something being wrong in our approach.
 

Ayurveda helps us in our endeavor to find happiness in life by teaching us the appropriate lifestyles to adopt. It teaches us how to live in natural balance by following the right diet, daily regimen, lifestyle, actions and activities.
 

Ayurveda is the perfect solution for all our needs. Not only does it help people understand themselves and their needs, but it also provides guidelines on diet, lifestyle, exercise regimens and much more. But above all, Ayurveda teaches us to live in harmony within our society, with nature and with the universe at large, without disturbing the delicate natural balance.

 

Basic Principles
According to Ayurveda, the five basic elements in nature are, space (akash), air (vayu), fire (agni), water (jala), and earth (prithvi). In our bodies, health is a state when these elements remain completely balanced. Conversely, imbalances lead to disharmony, which ultimately leads to disease.
 

All aspects of nature can be explained in terms of the elements, including seasons, times of the day, geographical and topographical location and even more subtle aspects like emotions.

Dosha Constitution
According to Ayurveda, the elements are represented in a human being as vata, pitta and kapha, known as the three doshas or biological forces.
 

Vata is comprised of the elements air and space and is responsible for all movement related functions in the body, such as respiration, circulation and thought. On an emotional level it is responsible for such positive emotions as creativity and flexibility and its' negative aspects are fear and anxiety. 

Pitta is composed of fire and water and is responsible for metabolism, including digestion of food and life's experiences and for hunger and thirst. Emotionally it is connected with courage, ambition, anger and pride. 

Kapha is comprised of water and earth and is responsible for cohesion; it provides the body's structure. It governs emotions such as love and devotion, greed and jealousy. 
Everybody is born with a unique combination of these three doshas and this is termed as their prakriti or constitution.
 

Apart from these Ayurvedic body energies, there are also other elements:
 

Dhatus
These are the basic tissues which maintain and nourish the body. There are seven dhatus—plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone, marrow and reproductive fluid. The quality and quantity of each dhatu and its balanced functioning is very important for good health.

Mala
These are the waste materials produced as a result of various metabolic activities in the body. The main mala are urine, feces and sweat.

Proper elimination of mala is equally important for good health. Accumulation of mala causes blockages in the body, resulting in diseases.

Srota
These are channels, which are responsible for transportation of food, dhatus, malas and doshas. Proper functioning of srota is necessary for transporting different materials. Blockage of srota causes many disorders.

Agni
'Agni' means fire. According to Ayurveda, there are 13 types of agni in the body, which carry out different metabolic activities. This may be compared to different types of enzymes responsible for digestion and metabolic activity in our body.

Origin
Ayurveda is as old as humanity itself. Before it was recorded down within ancient texts, the wisdom of Ayurveda was transmitted orally, from teacher to disciple, over thousands of centuries. These classical texts had been written anywhere between 4000 and 6000 BC. Although this knowledge developed in India, it does not belong to any particular country, religion or civilization. 

Ayurveda is based on unchanging and universal principles which are inherent in the natural world. Ayurveda is eternal.

 

Ayurveda - Arogya

 

Arogya -- A State of Complete Health


By Dr. Partap S. Chauhan

 

Health, according to Ayurveda, is not merely the absence of physical symptoms but a state called "arogya" which literally means "not imbalanced" or, in other words, "a state of balance". And the balance refers to body, mind and soul.

 

Although modern or Western medicine is still trying to find a relation between mind and body, Ayurveda has already described in detail that a human being is not merely the physical body but a combination of body, mind and soul. Imbalance at any of these three levels can cause physical as well as psychological symptoms in a person. Very often it is seen that a person suffers from some physical symptoms like skin disease, migraine or diarrhea but nothing abnormal is found in investigations.

All investigations including chemical analysis of blood, urine, stool as well various scans come out normal and it is inferred that there is nothing wrong with the person. Generally, vitamins and minerals are prescribed or the person is told to see a psychiatrist. The person continues to suffer from the symptoms without any change. Ayurveda offers solutions to such patients, as the cause of the disease in such cases is the imbalance of mind, which cannot be detected by any investigations.

 

In this modern age, when mental pressures have increased tremendously, specifically in the last decade, I have observed that a large number of disorders originate from a disturbed mental state and then affect the physical balance. This finally results in appearance of physical symptoms. Surprisingly, I was able to help patients suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, SLE, and Multiple Sclerosis by offering them treatment to regain their balance at the psychological level.  In cases where the root cause is in the mind, just offering treatment to the body won\'t help much. Even if we try to subside the symptoms with some chemical or natural medicines, they will come back as the root cause still lies with the person. 

 

Ayurveda has a wonderful approach to investigate the person as a whole and provide solutions accordingly. In addition it helps the person realize importance of the 'soul' and ways to cater to its need. In this age of materialism, we fail to feed the mind and soul and mainly take care of the body alone. The body is a gross part of the human being but its importance is less as compared to mind and soul. That is why a person feels sleepy, inactive and lacking energy when in a depressed state, although the body is healthy. This indicates the mind and soul are more important than body. This can also be seen in case of handicapped people, who do not have complete body organs but still perform skills, which even a normal person cannot.

 

In order to attain health and happiness, which we all are trying to do, it is necessary that we try to understand our physical and psychological nature. In addition, it is also necessary to develop a positive attitude in the mind. Greed, anger, envy, attachment to material things, and ego are the enemies of mind and cause its imbalance. The soul likes non-violence, truthfulness, love and harmony. That is why we experience a state of happiness when we have a harmonious relation with our spouse, at work, in the family, in the society, with the environment or with the universe.

 

Ayurveda is a subject that talks about the needs of body, mind and soul in detail. It is an instruction manual for every human being. It advocates the methods by which one can attain a state of complete balance at the levels of the body, mind and soul. In other words, it helps us to attain the state of "arogya". In order to achieve anything in this world, a state of "arogya" (health) is necessary.

 

For more information on Ayurveda and it benefits please contact:

Kaviraj Partap S. Chauhan (Cyber Vaidya)
Director, Jiva Ayurvedic Research Institute
e-mail:
  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
website:
 www.ayurvedic.org

Ayurveda - Spring Renewal

 

Ayurveda - The Spring Renewal

 

Dr. Partap Chauhan

 

 

Spring, in a way, is the season of shedding and composting old materials in nature in order to enable new growth. If you don’t release the old and let go of the past, there is no room for the new to come in. The same holds true for you. Your body renews itself periodically. The renewal is complete in case you are mentally and physically a part of the process.

 

 

On the other hand, it is inadequate in case you are not aiding it. Your nervous system as a whole, smallest cells, tissues, and even organs  are continually engaged in renewing the body and themselves – an effort that goes unnoticed by you. That, actually, is you working without  your conscious knowledge.

 

The renewal that could appear in perceivable form to you is physical; a deliberate effort that you can make to give yourself better health. This effort however, from the Ayurvedic point of view, is dependant on a number of external factors like time of the day, your food, your body constitution, seasons and so on.

 

Spring, when everything else is renewing around, offers an ideal opportunity to tune you up in accordance with the nature. The fragrance, the essence, and the soothing breeze address different needs of your body and each one of these has an inherent strength to heal it.

 

 

Spring emphasizes emotional release working at deeper levels of the mind or disturbing mental processes that have taken place previously

 

within the same. While attributes as fragrance, vibrancy, and liveliness condition the mind, the overall impact of the season releases accumulated toxins from the body and rebalances systems and organs.

 

 

The removal of toxins could further be aided by specific panchkarma techniques that show excellent receptivity during this season. These are vamana and nasya; both recommended as kapha shamak – procedures that remove excessive kapha from the body.

 

 

Kapha, as written in the previous Arogya, complements spring till it lasts. So the season desires attention particularly from you if you are of kapha constitution. Since it is not possible for everyone to have panchkarma therapy, the next and the best alterative to it is consuming honey. Only care to be taken is that the honey should be pure and from reliable source.

 

 

 

For more information on Ayurveda and it benefits please contact:

Kaviraj Partap S. Chauhan (Cyber Vaidya)
Director, Jiva Ayurvedic Research Institute
e-mail:
  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
website:
 www.ayurvedic.org

Ayurveda - Mind Types

 

Ayurveda - The Mind Types

By Dr. Partap Chauhan

 

 

Sattvic
People of Sattvic nature are intelligent with a good memory. They are instinctively clean and ordered, take good care are health—conscious. They are calm, gentle and considerate of others—polite and helpful to all, with good manners. They seek to improve themselves, even though already knpowledgeable, and are focused on work, self improvement and intellectual or spiritual pursuits.
 

They are highly positive in nature, demonstrating generosity,kindness, openness, fairness (equity) and forgiveness. They readily share what they have and enjoy doing so, but expect no reward in return. Sattvic people see life as a productive learning experience and do not begrudge their position, nor hold grudges. They do not seek to accumulate wealth or status, to dominate others or impose their will. Their mind is clear and peaceful, and they are honest, humble and quiet. They are spiriyually inclined and have a strong faith and belief in God, often engaging in selfless service or charitable activities.

Those with a sattvic nature express happiness, enthusiasm and joy. They are flexible, moderate, regular and balanced in habits and activities.

Sleep is minimal, yet deep and refreshing. Food that is fresh and not extreme in terms of preparation or taste is preferred (not heavily spiced  or very sweet).

 

There are seven types of sattvic nature:

1. Brahma - respectful, sincere, discriminating; 

2. Mahendra - studios, courageous and learned; 
 

3. Varuna - attractive, tolerant, kind, pleasant; 
 

4. Yamya - shows initiative, leadership, timely action; 
 

5. Kubera - virtuous, patient and diplomatic; 
 

6. Gandharva - wealthy, cultivated, enjoys musicand art; and 
 

7. Arsa  self - controlled, clever with good memory. 

 

Rajasic
Those that are rajasic in temperament are dynamic and seek to control and dominate others. They are medium in intelligence and have a variable memory. Those with a rajas guna value prestige and authority and so seek power, status, fame, wealth and recognition.

 

Rajasic people are never satisfied with their position or possessions- they always seek to accumulate more and enjoy flaunting what they have. In addition, they seek continual gratification of desires (sex, food), stimulation of the senses (music, color, fragrance) and entertainment (parties, functions, festivals). However, they are often distracted or quickly bored.

 

Gentrally they are very ambitious as well as highly active and industrious. They can be brave and courageous, but often display jealosy, maliciousness, cruelty and egotistical behaviour. Those with this temperament can be extremely determined, manipulative, selfish and proud.

 

They can often be rude, arrogant and angry and usually respond with irritation to external stimulus. In terms of spirituality, they are doubtful and questioning, A negative, sometimes cynical attitude is prevelant.

 

Those of rajasic nature rarely give unconditionally. It is always done with some reluctance and to demonstrate generosity (or with some expectation) rather than general altruism. Relationshis are therefore based only on their own needs and desires rather than on reciprocal interest and regard. Sleep is disturbed or troubled by intense dreams, so is not refreshing. Food that is strong and excessive in flavor (spicy, hot salty) is preferred. Stimulants such as coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco are consumed regularly.

 

There are six types of rajasic nature:

1. Asura proud of achievements and possessions, self praisng, brave but ruthless;

2. Raksasa cruel, intolerant, eats, drinks and sleeps excessively;

3. Patsacika unclean, abnormal or irregular diet and routine, weakness for the opposite sex;

4. Sarpa cowardly, deceptive, envious, fearful;

5. Preta greedy, spiteful, lacks discrimination; and

6. Sakuna passionate, unstable, ruthless, excessive appetite.

 

Tamasic
Those demonstrating a tamas guna are ignorant, lazy and fearful with poor memories. They are usually apathetic and insensitive in nature.

They show little consideration or regard for others. And are coarse, brash, immoral or violent. They may be stubborn or obstinate, and inattentive to those around them. Tamasic people show little or no desire to improve physically or mentally, or lack the will power and discipline to do so.

 

Tamasic individuals do not engage in anything that is physically or mentally taxing, and will avoid any work at all if it is possible. They seem almost to be entirely engaged in (thinking about) eating, drinking, sleeping , sex or idleness. They are dishonest, unclean in habits and have no regard for their health. Often they show no initiative and minimal interest in , or understanding of, spirituality. They have little or no faith in God. People with tamasic nature are frequently sorrowful or depressed.

 

Those predominantly tamasic in nature demonstrate no love except that based on the own sensory gratification, so relationships are totally exploitative, they rarely give, instead preferring to take or even obtain through deception, Often, they complain about their job or position in life although show no motivation or take no action to change it.

 

Tamasic people sleep heavily and are not easily roused from sleep, and are usually sedentary. They overeat, and consume food that is overcooked, sweet and heavy or stale, cold, preserved and processed. "Fast food" or "junk food" and meat constitutes a large part of their diet.

There are three types of tamasic nature:

 

1. Pasava low intelligence, animalistic behaviour, excessive indulgence in sleep and sex. Disobedient;

2. Mattasya unstable and changeable in character, cowardly, consistent desire, excessive intake of liquids; and

3. Vanaspatya excessive consumption of food, no interest in education or learning about other people and the surrounding world.

 

For more information on Ayurveda and it benefits please contact:

Kaviraj Partap S. Chauhan (Cyber Vaidya)
Director, Jiva Ayurvedic Research Institute
e-mail:
  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
website:
 www.ayurvedic.org

 

 

For more information on Ayurveda and it benefits please contact:

Kaviraj Partap S. Chauhan (Cyber Vaidya)
Director, Jiva Ayurvedic Research Institute
e-mail:
  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
website:
 www.ayurvedic.org

Ayurveda - Understanding Yoga

 

Ayurveda - Understanding the Real Yoga 
By Dr. Partap Chauhan

 

What does one achieve by Yoga? In Sanskrit, "Yoga" signifies 'connecting the soul to the Supersoul' (God). Yoga is a process in which the person clears the negative mental impressions, gets the mind and senses under control and creates a connection or link with God. In Patanjali Yoga Sutra, an authentic textbook of Yoga, the definition of Yoga is given as follows:

 

Yogash chitt vritti nirodha

 

A simple translation of this verse reads, "the complete stopping of mundane desires arising in the mind is known as Yoga". The mind is an ocean of material desires, not only from the present life, but also from previous lives. According to Vedic philosophy, the mind along with subtle body, senses and soul, transmigrates from one body to another. Mundane desires that arise in the mind remain there, and unless one cleanses the mind of these, it is not possible to realize the consciousness or the soul. And without the realization of the soul or consciousness, it is not possible to connect it to God. Therefore to connect to God, which is also termed as moksha or Liberation, it is necessary to stop or remove such desires from the mind.

 

This process of removing of mundane desires from the mind, realizing what is "consciousness" or "the soul" and then connecting it with God, is known as Yoga. Yoga is a discipline, a process that one has to practice. Depending on which method a person follows to curb such desires, Yoga is classified into many types as follows:

1) Gyana yoga - Attaining realization through knowledge.

2) Karmayoga - Attaining realization through action.

3) Bhaktiyoga - Attaining realization through devotion.

4) Mantra yoga - Attaining realization through mantra (chanting special words or prayers of God).

5) Rajyoga - Attaining realization through meditation.

6) Hathayoga - Attaining realization through practice (physical, mental processes) and
    meditation.

 

Astanga (eight parts) of Yoga: 
The Patanjali Yoga Sutra describe eight parts of Yoga, known as Astanga Yoga. Asta means 'eight' and anga means 'parts'. The following are the eight parts of Yoga according to Patanjali.

1. Yama 
2. Niyama
 
3. Asana
 
4. Pranayama
 
5. Pratyahara
 
6. Dharana
 
7. Dhyana
 
8. Samadhi

The ultimate goal of Yoga is to attain the stage of samadhi, which is the eighth and last part of Yoga. In this state, a man is away from all types of materialistic associations and is linked to God. To achieve samadhi, one has to start from Yama and practice all the eight parts sequentially.

 

1. Rules or Yama
Yama is a set of rules that a person desiring to practice Yoga should know about, and follow. It is the foundation and in order to achieve the highest state of samadhi, one must follow the rules. The following are the five basic rules, which should be strictly followed to get the best benefits. It is interesting to note that many people in the modern age practice Yoga, especially physical exercises (asanas), without strictly following the yama and niyama (rules and regulations). Such people may not achieve the ultimate goal of Yoga, as they are not following the proper process to reach samadhi.

The following five are known as yama.

a) Ahimsa: Nonviolence
b) Satya: Truthfulness, speaking the truth.
c) Asteya: Abstinence from theft
d) Brahm-charya: Celibacy
e) Aprigraha: Not accumulating more than what is required.

 

2. Regulations or Niyama:
Niyama is a set of five more rules and regulations which play an important role to create a strong foundation for a person wishing to practice Yoga and attain moksha or liberation. The only difference between yama and niyama is that the yama are rules relating to external factors, whereas the niyama are rules relating the individual's internal self. The following are the five niyama:

a) Shaucha: Purification, cleanliness.
b) Santosha: Satisfaction.
c) Tapa: Practice of controlling the mind and the senses.
d) Swadhyaya: Studying spiritual books.
e) Ishwar Pranidhana: Surrendering everything to God.

The first two steps of Yoga, according to Patanjali Yoga Sutra, relate purely to the psychological plane - they are about disciplining the mind and preparing an individual for the more challenging rigors of Asana (postures) and Pranayama (breathing exercises), integrated with the subsequent steps and culminating in Samadhi.

 

3. Physical Postures or asana: 
Asana is the next part of eightfold Yoga. The asanas are postures that mainly benefit physical health. They help in keeping the body healthy which ultimately makes the mind healthy because the mind and the body are closely related. In order to get the best results or benefits from the asanas, it is important to practice yama and niyama. There are many people practicing asanas without following yama and niyama. Some of them do not even know that Yoga has eight parts. They think Yoga means asanas.

 

4. Breathing Exercises or Pranayama 
This is the fourth part of Yoga. After a person attains stability in the asanas and the various body functions normalize, pranayama is performed. It is very important to understand the step-by-step progress, which means the person, should start with yama, niyama, asanas and then practice breathing exercises. Many people practice pranayama without fully following the previous steps. Although this may give temporary benefits, it would never lead a person to achieve the ultimate goal of Yoga. So it is important to practice every activity step-by-step.

Pranayama is made up of two words - prana meaning 'life air' (prana vata) or 'breath', and ayama, meaning 'to control'. So pranayama is a procedure wherein an individual practices controlled breathing. Pranayama is not merely a respiratory exercise - it purifies the brain and rejuvenates the nervous system. Pranayama is thus a very important exercise both for maintaining health and curing diseases.

 

5. Self-regulation or Pratyahara
It is a process of self-regulation. In this process, the person controls the sense organs and keeps them away from their subjects. It is a stage where the Yogi starts to cut off from the external world by controlling the mind. Whenever one wants to control the mind, three types of changing sequences are produced in the mind, which are as follows:

a) Waves of various emotions produced by the external world.  
b) Waves of experiences from the past. 
 
c) Waves of happenings of the future.

Of these, the second and the third are completely psychic and the goal of Pratyahara is to disconnect the mind from the first type of waves.

Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi are collectively called sanyam. These three steps constitute the spiritual aspect of Yoga. Samadhi is a state of complete mental rest in which the person is away from all the materialistic feelings and is close to God.

 

6. Concentration of the Mind or Dharana: 
Dharana means concentration of the mind. To concentrate the mind at a point in the body or outside the body is called Dharana. Inside the body, there are two places of concentration:

a) Nasa-agra - the tip of the nose and 
c) Bhrumadhya - between both the eyebrows

Dharana is the first step towards spiritual realization. It is a type of psychological exercise. One should try to obtain more and more concentration and gradually extend the period of total concentration.

 

7. Meditation or Dhyana: 
Dhyana means meditation. Concentrating the mind on a subject continuously is Dhyana. This stage precedes Samadhi. In this, the mind gets stable over a subject and no other thoughts come during concentration. This is of two types:

a) Saguna: In this type of meditation, the person meditates on an object, to achieve dhyana.

b) Nirguna: In this type, meditation is practiced without any specific object in mind. In fact, this Nirguna state of meditation actually precedes total Samadhi. 

 

8. Connecting to God or Samadhi:

This is the last stage when all external and internal matters slip into oblivion. It is a stage envisaging the destruction of all mental activity. According to Ayurveda, sense organs confer their subjects to the mind, which turns to the soul. In the stage of Samadhi, the relation between the soul and the mind is destroyed and the soul connects with God. Thus the highest stage of concentration is reached, which is the ultimate goal of Yoga. In this stage, self-awareness disappears. During Dharana, there is very little mental distraction. During Dhyana, the frequency of self-awareness decreases, and in the final stage of Samadhi, the soul is weaned away from all types of distraction and self-awareness. The Atma (soul) combines or connects with the Paramatma (Supersoul or God). It is at this stage that man acquires psychic abilities and attains supreme knowledge. The Yogi or the person develops various supernatural powers known as siddhi. Thus the eight steps of Yoga culminate in the state of samadhi. Although this is a very detailed and slow process and requires a lot of training, this brief description will help us understand what Yoga is all about.

To conclude, one should try to practice Yoga as a step-by-step process so that she/he can receive the maximum benefit from this wonderful knowledge that helps us to attain health, happiness and peace.

 

For more information on Ayurveda and it benefits please contact:

Kaviraj Partap S. Chauhan (Cyber Vaidya)
Director, Jiva Ayurvedic Research Institute
e-mail:
  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
website:
 www.ayurvedic.org

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