Ayurvedic medicine teaches us about self-care using healthy routines as a way to create and sustain a healthy body and mind. Pronounced (eye-your-Veda) – Ayurveda is the ancient science of life from India. “Ayur” means “life” and “Veda” translates to “science, knowledge or wisdom.” Ayurveda is a 7,000-year old science of life. It is ancient, yet its principles are as applicable today as they were in so many years ago.
- About Ayurveda a brief description
- Creating health using Ayurveda’s healing modalities.
- How to be healthy through the Seasons
- Daily routine, Dina Charia
- How to give Abhyanga, self-oil massage.
The 3 goals of Ayurveda are:
- To prevent disease.
- Preserve health.
- Promote longevity.
These goals are achieved by applying these
four healing modalities:
- Mindful eating: Your diet is one of the most common ways to implement Ayurvedic principles for self-healing, an easy way to introduce the beneficial qualities of healing foods into your system since we all tend to eat two to three times per day. * Click here to view or print out Food guidelines for the three constitutional types.
- Pancha Karma. This is a very quick way to eliminate toxins and create balance in the body and mind.
- Ayurveda body treatments. Treatments help to balance the bodily humors/doshas, open the body, and they eliminate pain and energetic blockages.
- Yoga: Yoga practice is an important aspect of how Ayurveda helps people in creating health. In ancient times, people were taught yoga on a one-to-one basis in order to address their individual needs. Group classes are beneficial, and it’s always a good idea to get an Ayurvedic assessment of both your current yoga practice and your needs according to Ayurveda. When you have a practice that serves your precise needs (which tend to change over time), you will feel your best. Classes cater to all skill levels as they feature a Hatha flow style with an Ayurvedic overview. Private customized yoga classes at Hanalei Day Spa are available by appointment, year round.
Understanding Ayurveda’s how the elements affect you and your body/mind types help you determine the best path for your self-care. Ayurveda recognizes that there are 5 basic elements that comprise everything we know. They are, in order from subtle to gross: space, air, fire, water, and earth. Each one of us is a combination of these 5 elements.
There are 3 general body/mind types.
They are Vata (wind), which governs movement, Pitta (bile), which governs transformation, and Kapha (phlegm/mucus), which governs structure. Like a grand cosmic recipe, we are all a combination of each general body/mind type. Traditionally Pancha Karma, a cleansing and rejuvenation program, is very effective in eliminating excesses of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha
Our basic, original body/mind type remains unaltered throughout our life and is called “prakruti.” Pronounced “pra-krooti,” it is determined the moment the father’s sperm meets the mother’s egg. After that point, we acquire “vikruti” — disorder or departure from order. Vikruti frequently occurs in the junction between seasons or during stressful times.
Each season we can grow in health and Ayurveda teaches us how. For instance:
Winter: During the winter months, Kapha (phlegm) accumulates as a result of the cold, damp, cloudy and heavy qualities of the weather. As we move into spring and the temperature rises, Kapha begins to liquefy and becomes increased at the main Kapha sites, which are; the stomach, chest, sinuses, and nose. This explains the predictable yearly spring allergies, colds and flu that many people are afflicted with during the season. Click here for more seasonal tips.
Spring: As a result of the excess Kapha, the digestive fire “agni” is reduced. This is why during the spring (and if you know that your Kapha is prone to increase) it is important to make Kapha pacifying food and lifestyle choices. This would include foods that are lighter in both quality and quantity, drier, warmer and rougher. Click here for more seasonal tips.
Summer: In the heat of the summer, Pitta (bile) is increased so you may see common symptoms such as inflammation, diarrhea and skin rashes. People with Pitta constitution should follow a Pitta pacifying food routine during the summertime. Click here for more seasonal tips.
Fall: Fall is the season that Vata (wind) increases which means dryness and movement in the body also increase. The seat or home of Vata is the pelvis. If you experience tightness here, it is an indication that the qualities of Vata have lodged there. Click here for more seasonal tips.
Your lifestyle choices may change based on these self-care routines. seasonal routines. Therefore, you may want to make food choices appropriate for the climate, season and body/ mind type; change the times you choose to eat and sleep; there are even seasons where it is advised that sex is practiced more or less. Other suggestions involve herbs, color, and yoga. Ask us about it during your retreat at The Ayurvedic Center of Hawaii.
Daily Self- Care Routine
Keeping a daily routine is a discipline, yet it creates such stability in an ever-changing world, enhances a healthy body/mind, balancing your rhythms along with nature’s rhythms, and prevents disease.
An ideal daily routine might look like this:
- Arise before or at sunrise.
- Move your bowels and bladder — fluid intake helps this via the gastro-colic reflex.
- Use abyanga oil massage, nasal administration (optional).
- Exercise (some will consider this more appropriate after meditation, but still before breakfast).
- Shower and personal hygiene like cleaning tongue, clipping nails, brushing teeth.
- Practice yoga asanas, yogic breathing, and meditation.
- Eat a light breakfast (optional).
- The main activity of day — giving emphasis to the most physical aspects when possible.
- Eat your main meal at noon.
- Take a short walk.
- Continue day’s activity with emphasis on mental rather than physical aspects.
- Eat a lighter and smaller evening meal.
- Take a short walk.
- Wind down, choose an activity, which is soothing and calming such as reading and family discussions or other bonding activities. Generally, watching TV is sometimes too dynamic and stimulating for evening viewing.
- In bed before 10 PM.
How can a ritual so luxuriously relaxing, so blissfully comforting as a full-body warm oil massage rev up your body and mind, gearing them up for peak performance? There is an explanation for the seeming contradiction. Accumulated stress and toxins in the mind and body dissolve during the daily massage. A daily full-body warm oil massage, therefore, acts as a powerful recharger and rejuvenator of mind and body.
“Abhyanga” — the ayurvedic oil massage — is an integral part of the daily routine recommended by this healing system for overall health and well-being. Traditional ayurvedic texts wax eloquent on the benefits. Here’s what one says — “Give yourself a full body oil massage on a daily basis. It is nourishing, pacifies the doshas, relieves fatigue, provides stamina, pleasure, and perfect sleep, enhances the complexion and the luster of the skin, promotes longevity and nourishes all parts of the body”.
Here are some of the benefits traditionally associated with the regular performance of this pleasant daily ritual:
- Increased circulation, especially to nerve endings
- Toning of the muscles and the whole physiology
- Calming for the nerves
- Lubrication of the joints
- Increased mental alertness
- Improved elimination of impurities from the body
- Softer, smoother skin
- Increased levels of stamina through the day
- Better, deeper sleep at night
Abhyanga provides the means for transdermal absorption of the healing qualities of the material used in the massage, and it helps the skin, which is the largest organ in the body, perform its diverse functions efficiently, whether it is allowing toxins to be released from the body or nourishment to be absorbed by the tissues. It is like oiling the engine of your car — if you do it regularly, your engine will be in peak condition and give you years and years of trouble-free performance.
The ayurvedic massage is traditionally performed in the morning, before your bath or shower, to facilitate the release of toxins that may have accumulated during the previous night. You can use cured sesame oil, an herbalized massage oil, or an aroma massage oil.
So how is the ayurvedic abhyanga done?
Use comfortably warm massage oil. (Store your massage oil in a plastic flip-top and warm it by holding the container under running hot water for a few minutes) Dip your fingertips into the warm oil and apply it lightly to the entire body. Wait for 4-5 minutes to let some of the oil be absorbed by your skin. Then massage the entire body, applying even pressure with the whole hand — palm and fingers.
Apply light pressure on sensitive areas such as the abdomen or the heart. Use more oil and spend more time where nerve endings are concentrated, such as the soles of the feet, palms of the hands and along the base of the fingernails. Circular motions over rounded areas such as your head or joints, and straight strokes on straight areas such as your arms and legs, work best.
After you’re done, relax for 10-15 minutes, letting the oil and the massage do their magic. The longer the oil is on, the deeper it penetrates. During this time you can read something relaxing or uplifting, rest, or shave, cut nails, and get ready for the day. Dab excess oil off with paper towels if you like, then follow with a relaxing warm bath or shower. If your schedule doesn’t allow for a daily massage, try and squeeze it in at least three or four times a week. You’ll find it’s worth it!
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