Ayurveda and lifestyle.

Constitution of the body. Vata – air+ space responsible for movement like respiration, circulation and thought. On an emotional level creativity, flexibility m fear and anger. Pitta: fire+ water responsible for metabolism including digestion of food, hunger emotionally courage, anger, ambition, pride. Kapha Water+ earth cohesion and body structure govern emotions like love devotion, greed and jealousy. These doshas are essentially body energies activity, diet and lifestyle effect the doshas. Pitta increases with hot spicy food, anger and strong summer. Kapha increases with heavy cold food, inactivity dampness and winter. Vata increases with dry light food, overwork and autumn winds. The knowledge of our prakriti helps us to maintain by altering our activity, lifestyle and diet according to our constitution. Imbalance of these elements leads to ill health. This is called vikriti. Health is restored by balancing the doshas Guna: If doshas deals with physical component Guna deals with Psychological constitution.. These are again 3 in classification Sattva harmony and purity Rajas agitation and vitality Tamas darkness and ignorance These are perceived but are deduced from our actions. The combination of doshas and gunas give us our individuality. The guna’s can be influenced. Tamas: Apathetic, lazy, dishonest, insensitive and prone to addiction. Avoids work, lack of willpower and discipline. Rajas: Ambitious, dynamic, and often dominate others. Spire for power, wealth and status. Their positive feature is strength, bravery and leadership. On the negative aspect it is cruelty, manipulation, egotism, and anger. Food that encourage Rajas quality are: fried, spicy and greasy food. Sattva A person displaying the characteristics of pure Sattva is a saintly figure and they are very few and far between. Sattvic qualities include intelligence, compassion, generosity, and kindness. Sattva -dominant people concern themselves with humanitarian and spiritual activities. They possess mental clarity, humility, enthusiasm, and joy. The diet that increases Sattva includes fresh fruit and vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds, milk, ghee, and buttermilk. Sattvic food should be freshly cooked and eaten in a peaceful environment. Discipline, cleanliness, spiritually uplifting, and selfless activities—all increase Sattva. Many of us are a combination of the three and this may fluctuate at different stages of our lives. Pressures of modern life make it difficult to incorporate ideal Sattvic qualities into our lives; but over time, and regardless of physical constitution, if we make efforts to modify our lives appropriately—we will surely experience long-term enhancement of health, happiness and content Ayurveda is a science that teaches you to live in a natural balance. This natural balance is not only limited to proper internal functioning of your body, but also means a balanced relationship with the Earth and with your fellow human beings. According to Ayurveda, each one of us is a combination of body, mind, senses, and soul. However, most of our attempts to become happy and peaceful relate purely to the physical body and to materialistic ends. We strive to achieve physical perfection or to obtain items thought to bring security and pleasure, such as a high-income career, car, house, designer clothing, jewelry, or friends and partners. We rarely pay attention to our mind or soul, even though they are largely responsible for our health. Our lifestyle and diet, which we think provide happiness and pleasure, may not really be healthy for our mind and soul. That is why, even after achieving material comfort and obtaining good physical health, we are often still not contented. Fruitlessly, we strive even harder to achieve more physical comforts, and are confused when this does not create a sense of satisfaction. We struggle to obtain transitory physical pleasures, mistaking this for genuine and lasting happiness. In the process, we over-stimulate and disturb our senses, creating physical and psychological imbalances. This situation is like keeping a beautiful bird (soul) inside an intricate, precious cage (body). Rather than feeding the bird and listening to it sing, all of your energy is devoted to polishing and maintaining the cage. You are so busy looking after the cage (body), that you forget the bird (soul) is inside and don’t even notice when it begins to waste away from neglect. Why do we persist in following lifestyles or diets that make us unhappy or physically sick? It is because we have not learnt how to tend to our psychological or spiritual needs. It is assumed that if we nurture the physical, the rest takes care of itself. However, despite our best efforts, time, and resources spent meeting all of our physical needs and desires we are unable to achieve lasting contentment and peace. This is because we have ignored our spiritual and psychological health. Overlooking the mind and soul means that the majority of our genuine needs are ignored. Complete health and genuine contentment are obtainable with Ayurvedic principles as they provide guidance on physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects. Ayurveda teaches you how to live in both society and the natural universe without disturbing the natural balance, and how to live in harmony with each other and the Earth. Ayurveda describes diet and hygiene, as well as lifestyle, conduct, and attitude that can bring total health. Spiritual growth, mental balance, and the maintenance of physical well being are complementary and equal aims of this science. It is essential to understand both the needs of your mind and soul when attempting to obtain complete health, as they are equal partners with your body in determining your welfare. An understanding of these aspects can bring happiness and peace. Material things may give temporary happiness to your body or to your mind, but they do not meet the needs of your soul. That may be one of the reasons why there is so much suffering and anguish today, despite the wealth available for material goods and physical pleasure. Diet (food for the body) is only one factor in maintaining health. Spirituality (food for the soul) and mental harmony are equally important. Ayurveda is the only medical science to have defined “health”. In the Ayurvedic sense, health is not merely being free of physical pain or the symptoms of disease. The mind is a very important consideration in the overall assessment of health. A person can only be said to be healthy when the mind is clear, calm, and contented (balanced), complementing a balanced body. In many cases, people may not have any physical problems or symptoms of illness, but they are very unhappy or agitated at the psychological level. According to Ayurveda, such people are not healthy. Thousands of people are in this category. They may be disturbed, depressed, irritable, and insecure, suffer from insomnia due to stress, or feel generally unfulfilled and aimless. These types of conditions mainly originate in an unbalanced mind. Ayurveda propounds the principle of natural balance within the body, and harmony with the environment. We are an integral part of our habitat. Living in harmony with our habitat and nature according to natural principles ensures complete physical health and peace of mind. Modern life often violates the principles of natural living. Many of us work long hours in offices with artificial light and air conditioning systems. We rush from one mundane task to the next while being bombarded with advertising and constant noise, and absorbing pollution through the air and water. Pure water and air are becoming scarce resources, in an environment that is becoming increasingly toxic to us. Our lifestyles are often as detrimental to our health as the environment. Many of us don’t have time to prepare breakfast, eat a fast food lunch at our desk, and a pre-prepared dinner in front of the television. Coffee keeps us alert, alcohol “relaxes” us and drugs treat our ailments. When the weekend arrives we are so exhausted that we often don’t even have time to really enjoy it! And then it is Monday again with that familiar feeling of dread – we are back in the race of trying to make enough money to buy processed food, gadgets to save us time, and amusements to distract us from the monotony of our lives. In our efforts to seek pleasure we are working hard to achieve personal suffering and poor health. So why are people in modern times, with all the conveniences of technology to make life easier, finding that life has lost all joy? It is because we have lost contact with nature – and we often feel empty and unsatisfied, as well as physically sick for reasons we cannot really identify. We are overlooking the fact that we are as much a part of mother Earth as all of the other species. We are often brought up without a basic education of how the body functions, what is beneficial and detrimental from both the physical and psychological perspectives, how to prevent illness, and how to achieve peace and happiness. This is like buying a brand new car and instead of reading or understanding the manual, just jumping behind the steering wheel and taking off to see how fast it can go. Without knowledge of how to check your new car’s water, oil, tires, or fuel, it will not be long before the car is not performing at its peak. Sooner or later it will begin rattling and jolting, and eventually the engine will seize up and the car will be useless. It might look almost immaculate on the surface but ignoring the signs of rust, putting in the wrong fuel, and not checking the basic systems will lead to irreversible damage. The benefits of your car can then no longer be enjoyed unless you spend a lot of money fixing or replacing the parts. The car becomes a liability instead of an asset – it takes up space in your garage, drains your bank account, and doesn’t even take you to your destination safely. It is like a sick body that can no longer enjoy the advantages offered by life. The human body is a far more complex and valuable vehicle than a car. You may be able to just dump a car when it becomes a liability and buy a new one, but a body is irreplaceable. But many of us seem more concerned with cleaning and checking their car than looking after themselves physically and mentally. Living naturally according to some simple principles can prevent the need for expensive medical treatment or suffering needlessly from debilitating conditions. Learning to listen to your body and read the signals of distress can help you maintain health, making you more productive in your life as well as contented. So is this ancient wisdom secret, or only available to a fortunate few? Or are the principles hard to comprehend and difficult to apply? You will be pleasantly surprised to know Ayurveda is easily learnt by anyone, and can be adapted into your life starting from today. It does not require any fancy equipment or expert knowledge, and costs no more (and probably less) than what you already spend on groceries. Maintaining your health is based on nothing more complex than understanding the characteristics of your body and qualities of the food you eat. Many of the remedies for common ailments can be simply and quickly prepared in your own kitchen with widely available herbs. Ayurveda’s systematic approach to health includes gentle exercise, and daily practices that vary according to season. The purpose of these living habits is to encourage longevity, vitality, and physical and mental strength. As a bonus it also provides peace of mind and balanced emotions. With such perfect health, you are able to not only work more efficiently, but also able to totally relax when you want to. You become the master of your body and mind, not the slave. Ayurvedic applications can be used to explain and treat any physical or psychological ailment. There are no side effects or negative environmental impacts from the treatments, and the root cause of illness is treated rather than just the symptoms. All medicinal preparations used (herbs, plants, foods, and minerals) are already found in the natural environment and are inexpensive. Ayurveda is the instruction manual for the natural living of human beings. Understanding this philosophy of life enables you to become your own “healer”. You learn about your body, how it functions, and how to treat it through diet and herbal remedies. In fact, you also become your own dietician, personal trainer, counselor or psychologist, stylist, and beautician! Ayurveda is a unified system that encompasses all these aspects. The magic of it is that it involves nothing more expensive or complex than adapting your diet and lifestyle routines. Diet In Ayurveda, food (ahaara) is the prime preventive medicine. Proper diet and eating habits are considered the source of both physical and mental health. You can not only maximize your health through the application of dietary guidelines, but also treat sickness. Once your understand the properties of various foods and herbs, you can apply these principles to your daily diet as well as on those occasions when you feel unwell. There are dozens of remedies that can be prepared easily in your own home using common foods and herbs. At home, the pharmacy is really no further than the kitchen cupboard or the refrigerator. In order to be balanced, cheerful, and calm in disposition, it is essential to emphasize Sattvic food in your lifestyle and minimize rajasic or tamasic foods . Regular use of Sattvic food items helps prevent disease and maintain good physical, mental, and spiritual health. According to Ayurveda, eating Sattvic food and practicing a Sattvic life style is the best preventive medicine. Sattvic food is fresh, pure, and vegetarian. In terms of nutrition, this includes increasing the amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, salads, pure fruit juices, herbal teas, water and milk, nuts, seeds, and honey. Food should be eaten freshly prepared. At the same time, foods that are processed, pre-prepared, preserved, fermented, canned and packaged, frozen, micro waved, fried or barbecued, high in sugar or spices, or containing artificial flavors or colors should be minimized. Mushrooms, onions, spices and garlic should be avoided, as they are tamasic and/or rajasic. Consumption of alcohol, caffeine and meat should be moderated or eliminated for the same reason. Foods that have a naturally sweet taste are sattvic. This does not include refined sugar products, but refers to anything that has a sweet taste without any additives, such as grains (rice, wheat and barley), breads, honey, and fruits. Milk, herbal teas, pure fruit or vegetable juices, and water are also included in this group. Organically grown foods are preferred, as fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals and preservatives are tamasic. A number of clinical studies in India have demonstrated that increasing sattvic foods increases sattvic qualities. For example, animals fed mostly vegetarian food in laboratories became calm, peaceful and alert. In contrast, those fed stale or frozen foods, meat and other tamasic or rajasic food became violent, restless, and agitated (Joshi 1997:138). The hypothesis that food creates behavioral and mood changes has been replicated in studies in the West, where dietary links to behavior (body-mind) have been observed in controlled studies of children. Lifestyle Like sattvic dietary considerations, mind balance and sattvic qualities can be enhanced with activities that are sattvic in nature. These are calming, quiet, inspiring, and mentally invigorating. They may include meditation, yoga or other forms of gentle exercise, listening to peaceful and classical music, enjoying nature and the outdoors, gardening, creative or artistic pursuits, or reading good quality literature. Meditation is calming and helps balance emotions, so passion, anger, fear, and extreme emotions are minimized. Dealing effectively with stress and anxiety is the role of the mind. Managing stress through classic Ayurvedic concepts like meditation, breathing and relaxation exercises that control and calm the mind, are now accepted as scientifically valid. Such practices stop the flow of hormones associated with stress, lower the heart rate and blood pressure. All of these factors have a significant positive effect on health. The lifestyle regime proposed in Ayurveda encompasses spiritual and psychological aspects. The guidelines are based on living according to sattvic principles, including adopting personal ethics and a code of morality such as speaking the truth, serving humanity, not exploiting others, respecting elders, and devotion to spiritual growth. Practicing exercise (yoga) and meditation, regulating sleep, and controlling negative emotions (greed, envy, anger and violence) further enhance the mind and body. The lifestyle routine is based on balance in all things. Eating, sleeping, and sex are undertaken within natural limits; and working, socializing, exercising, and relaxation are engaged in with a balanced attitude. No one activity should be engaged in excessively and one area of life should not be sacrificed for another. Moderation is the key to health and happiness.

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