Why is routine so important?

I often hear this question whenever I insist a patient will keep a strict routine.

By routine I mean specific sleeping patterns, eating and drinking patterns and so on.  Knowing this is crucial for curing disease and I will outline here the reasons for it, including quotes from the Ayurvedic texts, and some of my understandings.

Sleeping Patterns

Vagbhat, the author of Ashtanga Hridyam says:

“The healthy person should wake up during Brahma Muhurta to protect his life.” (Sutrasthana, 2.1).

To those who are not familiar with the Indian terminology, Brahma Muhurta refers to few hours in the early morning (3-6 AM). Within those hours, meditation, study, and understanding Brahma, are advised to be practiced.

According to Ayurveda, we humans, are part of the Cosmos. In fact, we are depicted as the Microcosmos of the Macrocosmos. Whatever is there in the universe is present within us as well. The universe is consistently in routine, and has certain rhythm. One can see the routine of day and night, routine of seasons, and so forth. One should understand the same thing is happening within us humans as well. Our digestive system is stronger and times, and weaker at others, our senses and mind are stronger at times and weaker at others. Therefore, it is advised to wake up early in the morning, before the sun rises, in order to get in rhythm with the universe.

Sleep

Why do we sleep? Can’t one stay awake at night?

Of course we can, however, that will not be a healthy choice. We go to sleep when our senses, mind and motor organs are tired of getting information from the outside world, and require their rest.

Charaka says: “Sleep is one of the three supporters of life.” (Sutrasthana, 11.35), and continues to enlighten: “When the mind, including the sensory and motor organs, are exhausted and they dissociate themselves from their objects, the individual sleeps.” (Sutrasthana, 21.35)

By these statements, one can clearly understand the importance of sleep. Adequate amount of sleep is necessary, however, it does not mean to over sleep. Sleep increases Kapha dosha, so sleeping during the day is not advised as it will aggravate Kapha. Sleeping a lot, or during the day will also produce Ama, hence will affect digestion. Sleeping during the day is permissible only to the elderly, children, users of intoxicants, and some more specific cases.

Night is made for sleep, as one can see in the universe. Hours of sleep preferably are 10 pm maximum, and to wake up before sunrise.

Eating patterns

As mentioned above, the individual follows the universal cycles as it is one and the same. In Ayurveda, we look at the sun as a symbol, and an indicator for the state of our internal Agni (digestive power). When the sun rises, we tend to get a bit hungry and so we eat breakfast (around 8 AM). When the sun reaches the mid-sky, scorching its sun-rays, we feel hungry and eat our dinner (preferably 1-2 PM), this is the time to consume the larger meal of the day. When the sun sets, however, still in the sky, we feel hungry for supper (around 6-7 PM), which should include light food and preferably no protein. After the sun sets, no solid food should be consumed. Drinks are permissible.

Failing to follow these rules will result in digestive issues at the beginning and further problems later.

Water

Most people think water is not being digested, and that is just moves in the system and flow out. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Whatever will enter the digestive system will be digested, water included. It is very important to mix the water we drink with the saliva in mouth before swallowing it. As we know, the digestive process is starting with the saliva.

Agni in our body is composed of digestive juices; drinking water will certainly dilute it. When the digestive juices are diluted, the digestive process is weakened and forms ama. In order to avoid it, water should not be consumed an hour prior to eating food, and an hour after it. That way, the digestive process will not be affected.

Exercise

Exercise is healthy, isn’t it? Why shouldn’t I exercise a lot, and be very healthy?

Unfortunately our body doesn’t work this way. One should exercise, however over exercising is not advised. Over exercise has its toll on the body, except from physical injury, breathing system will be affected, and digestion as well.

So how much exercise is good?

When one feels sweat is coming to the forehead, exercise is enough. When one starts to pant, exercise is enough. When one has a bit of thirst, exercise is enough.  Exercise is best done in the morning after evacuation. For example: in Yoga we practise Surya Namaskar, which is sun salutation, how can one practise it at night? There is no visible sun.

 

To sum it all, please follow these rules for a healthier life. I am sure one can understand why a routine is so important now, and why adjustments are not always acceptable.

Knowledge by:

  • Charka Samhita.
  • Ashtanga Hridyam.
  • Vaidya Sumit Kesarkar.
Advertisements
Posted in Ayurveda, Yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

8 Tips for a good digestion

One of the most important aspects in Ayurveda as well as Yoga is proper digestion. The bodies we possess are made up by the five elements (Panchamahabhoota), and so is everything around us, food being one of it. In order to nourish the body and its tissues, a healthy and strong digestion is required, that way the five elements in the food (along with Prana) will be absorbed and keep the five elements within the body be at perfect state.

Some tips I have found to be very helpful in aiding digestion:

  1. Eat at proper times. Eat when you are hungry, and on the other hand, don’t eat when you are not. Hunger is the sign for us that the previous meal has been digested,  and so the body requires more energy in order to function. Having a routine of eating times will tremendously benefit one’s Agni, and by that will assist digestion, absorption and elimination. Proper times for eating will be: 8 AM, 1 PM, and dinner before sunset (around 6:30 PM). Do not munch in between.
  2. Sit while you eat. While eating it is best to sit down and not stand or walk around. While sitting, the stomach is relaxed and ready to welcome the food we eat. One will feel when the stomach is filled to the optimal quantity while sitting, rather than while standing.
  3. Chew each morsel well. Don’t eat quickly, have time while chewing your food. Let the saliva mix with the food, and all the flavours to come out so the tongue can perceive it. According to Ayurveda, once the tongue perceives the taste, it sends a message to the brain to secrete the appropriate enzymes in the stomach.
  4. Don’t overload the stomach. Eat up to your fill, but not more than that. Lots of people ask, how do I know my fill? Well, my answer is just watch how much you eat. When one gets the first belch, and it doesn’t carry the flavour or smell of the food eaten, will be the sign to have one’s fill. When we overfill our stomach, proper digestion cannot take place, as the stomach (a muscle) cannot contract and relax.
  5. Don’t drink while eating. Well, I am sure some will disagree with me on this, however this is what I feel from personal experience. Do not drink an hour before and after food. While drinking we dilute the enzymes in the stomach, which will lead to poor digestion. Most of the foods we eat are with some kind of liquid, so it isn’t really necessary to drink along with food. If the food is dry, it is permissible to have few sips of lukewarm water along with the meal.
  6. Rest after eating. Don’t do rigorous work or exercise after eating. Let the stomach do its work. After eating, the blood flows towards the stomach to help with the digestion process, that is why one should rest, and let the body do its work. When one will not rest and let the blood flow to the peripheral (instead of the stomach), digestion will be affected. Rest does not mean sleep! Food should energize the body and not make it heavy and dull. If lying down, do so on your left side, so the right nostril will be active (it will help digestion).
  7. Practise Yoga. Having a Yoga practice routine will help digestion as well as absorption. Surya Namaskar as well as other asanas, will help in enkindling Agni, the factor crucial to digestion. Few things I feel help with digestion are: Kapalbhati, Nauli (even just the madhyama – central), uddiyana bandha and of course agnisar kriya . All these three exercises are helping with making Agni optimal. If you don’t find Yoga appealing, even walking and having any other exercise will help. Yoga is better as it has a linking to the digestion process.
  8. Sleeping patterns. A very important aspect which influence digestion and of course elimination is sleeping times. Waking up early, preferably before sunrise, and going to sleep by 10 PM will be the best. see how you can adjust to these timings. If you will follow the rest of the tips it will be easy. If one finds it difficult to wake up early, cut 15 mins at a time from the sleeping time, until reaching the goal.

 

Try and implement as much tips as you can. Try few of them, in the beginning,  to see the change in your own digestion and overall health. Digestion is crucial as even medicine will not be effective if it isn’t digested properly.

 

Posted in Ayurveda, Yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Origin of Man and Diseases

I most Vedic texts, one can see a specific pattern. A Guru (or teacher) and disciple(s) having conversation on various topics.

As a student of Ayurveda, I am more than fascinated to see this pattern in the Charaka Samhita, one of the ancient texts in Ayurveda. These kind of conversation teaches us a lot about Ayurvedic thought and principles as well as the state of thought the ancient Rishis and students had.

In chapter 25 of Sutra Sthana, there is a conversation between Lord Punarnavasu and his nine disciples. Vamaaka, the king of Kashi (Varanasi) asks Lord Punarnavasu a question about the origin of Man and diseases. In return, Lord Punarnavasu tells his disciples: “You know the knowledge, so you will be able to answer Vamaaka”.

As one can guess, each student gave his own answer, using his knowledge and understanding of the science being taught. I will outline the nine different answers, so each one may see the wonderful mind-storming.

Parikshi

Man originates from the soul, so diseases as well are originated from the soul. The soul collects and enjoys actions and results. Happiness or misery cannot occur without a soul.

Saraloman

The soul cannot be the origin of diseases, as the soul is by itself averse to miseries. Diseases arise from the mind. When the mind is governed and covered by  Rajo and Tamo gunas.

Varyovida

Negates both of his fellow students. How can the mind create diseases? Both physical diseases as well as the mind cannot exist without a body! Rasa is the root of man as well as disease. When water is abundant in Rasa Dhatu, that causes diseases and man as well.

Hiranyaksha

One cannot claim Rasa as the cause. Just like the soul isn’t originally from Rasa, same is true for diseases. All diseases as well as man originate from the six dhatus – the Atman along with the Panchamahabhuta (the five gross elements).

Kaushika

How can living beings originate from the six dhatus (mentioned above), without their ancestors? No. Just like man is born out of man, a cow is born out of cow etc. diseases originate from parents and are hereditary. Man and diseases are both originated from one’s parents.

Bhadrapakya

I’m sorry, this opinion cannot be true. Just like blind parents give birth to a non-blind child. On top of that, if everything originated from the parents, where did the parents originate from? There is only one answer: Karma. Karma is the reason behind man and his diseases.

Bharadvaja

Karma cannot be the reason for man moreover his diseases. Karma always presupposes an existence of an agent. There cannot be a proof to ascertain that action, even if not performed, can result in creation of a living being let alone his diseases. The cause is Svabhava (Nature), like Prithvi (earth) has the nature of roughness, and Apa (water) has the nature of liquidity.

Kankayena

If what my fellow student is saying is true, then all people’s efforts such as rituals, studies etc. are useless and in vain. Results of such actions will be dependent on nature and not on the actions. Origin of disease and man are from Prajapati, with His powers and infinite creative powers.

Bhikshu Atreya

My friend, how can Prajapati bring miseries to his subjects like a cruel man? Kala (Time) is the cause of man and diseases as well. Just as the whole universe is conditioned by time, so man and his diseases.

As one can clearly sees, each student see a different reason for the origin of man and the diseases. And one can also understand each opinion as true. Now comes Lord Punarnavasu to conclude and give His answer:

My students, you all look at the truth from an individual aspect of it. How can the truth be found by relying on one aspect of it alone?

The real truth is all that you have said combined. When those factors are wholesome in combination they create the human being. On the contrary, when these factors are unwholesome they create diseases.

 

When I think of it, there are 9 different answers and according to Vedic knowledge the body is known as “the city with nine gates”. The King of that city is the soul. I am not sure if it is connected to the discussion here or not, just something I thought of.

 

  • Information from Charaka Samhita, Sutra Sthana 25. Chaukambha Sanskrit Studies, Varanasi.
Posted in Ayurveda | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When will we realise?

When will we realise                                                                                                                             we are one and not otherwise?

When will we know                                                                                                                               we are all divine and stop the show?

When will we understand                                                                                                                   death is upon us, and it’s not the end?

When will we reflect                                                                                                                             realise our true nature and stop the act?

When will we stop to adore                                                                                                                 and understand that less is more?

When will we see through the divine                                                                                                and understand that nothing is mine?

When will we stop fighting for nothing                                                                                            and live together and share everything?

When will the mind stop its tricks                                                                                                     and we will stop chasing the quick fix?

When will our consciousness shift                                                                                                     and then we will know the precious gift?

I surely hope it will happen now                                                                                                        till then to Lord Shiva I bow!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized, Yoga | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swami Sivananda on Maha Shivaratri

On this auspicious day of Maha Shivaratri, I encourage you all to read these short stories by Gurudev Swami Sivananda Saraswati.

Maha Shivratri

and this: Lord Shiva and his Lilas 

Maha Shivaratri is celebrating the night of Shiva and Parvaati getting married, it is a night were Shiva visits Earth and his devotees. Devotees obtaining fast, staying vigil throughout the night, meditating and chanting Om Namah Shivaya!

Har Har Mahadev!

swaminsivananda

Posted in Swami, Yoga | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lessons from the Yoga mat

Everyone knows the benefits of Yoga, to body, breath and mind and spiritual advancement. Every yoga practitioner works on his own vinyasa (set of Asanas), that he established through the years. Today, I wish to share with you an insight I had on the mat during my morning practice. Usually, I have my own vinyasa which I build through the years, with help of my Yoga teacher Bhoomaji Chaitanya, and my own choices and of course with my level of advancement.I do add some asanas to make the practice fun and not simply a routine to be followed. However, today, I noticed I do not tend to go and perform the balancing asanas (e.g Natarajasana, Eka Padasana etc.). When I did try to work on balancing asanas, I noticed it is rather difficult for me, comparing to the rest of my practice.

Swami Satyananda Saraswati says balancing asanas develop the functions of the cerebellum (the brain centre that controls how the body works in motion). So one can clearly see how Yoga and daily life is connected. Another insight by Swami Satyananda: “The focus required to perform these asanas with steadiness develops concentration and balance at the emotional, mental and psychic levels, removing stress and anxiety”.

Now on a personal note, lately I feel myself a bit stuck in life. I came back from India almost 6 months ago, after meeting doctors and yogis and learning their ways of treating people. I hoped to come back home and to start practising it for the benefit of all. However, as you may guess, it didn’t actually work out the way I wished. I know deep inside this is what I wish to do for a living. So, when I had this insight today on the mat, I understood it actually reflects my life! I’m not so balanced in my current life, how can I perform balancing asanas then? I understand what Swami Satyananda said on these asanas much clearer now.

My advice to you is to look at your practice, see where difficulties arise, try and reflect it on your current situation in life. Whether it is asana, pranayama or any other practice. Work on it, and see how things are getting better day by day, on the mat as well as off the mat.

This is by my opinion a way to connect Yoga and daily life. Not just practicing asanas or pranayama, but rather understanding the way it impacts one’s life.

 

Pranaams to all!

 

Picture credit: My brother Oliver Truthful Speech.

Posted in Yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sadhana

Sadhana is a regular practice one is performing. Whether it be Yoga, Ayurveda or even your daily life and work. ​​The importance is upon awareness during the sadhana.

Here you can see me chanting Maha Mrityunjaya mantra for a mala of 108,for the benefit of all!
Be blessed my followers.

Posted in Ayurveda, Yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment