Blue Lotus Ayurveda Newsletter
There is no better time of the year than the fall and winter seasons to benefit from vata management therapies. Some of you may be wondering, what are these therapies and what are their benefits? Well, first of all it is important to understand what vata is.
Vata is one of three doshas or humors that govern various psycho and physiological functions. Vata is the subtle energy of movement. It rules respiration, circulation, pulsation, elimination, menstruation, and even the movement of thoughts in the mind. Vata is, of course, the dosha that moves the other two doshas, so when it gets aggravated it can also aggravate pitta or kapha doshas.
Vata is composed of the elements of ether and air, and its qualities are cold, dry, light, mobile, subtle, and clear. Now that we are approaching the end of fall these qualities are at their peak and can continue to increase wherever the winter season is cold and/or dry. We all have vata to varying degrees and are subject to its aggravation when the qualities in the external environment are similar to its qualities.
So What if Vata Increases?
On the physical level, we may experience more dryness of the skin, hair, eyes, and lips. The colon, being the main site of vata, is also subject to dryness, which can cause gas, abdominal discomfort, and constipation. The cold quality can cause our muscles to become stiff and spasm, and our joints to crack and pop. If the cold and mobile or erratic qualities of vata affect our digestive fire, our appetite can become variable and even absent. Emotionally speaking, we may experience more restlessness, anxiety, fear, and worry.
The windy weather can also cause us to feel a bit scattered or ungrounded, making it hard to stay focused in our work, study, or meditation. High vata can also weaken our immunity, leaving us more susceptible to the common cold and flu. If vata becomes deranged it doesn't mean that we will necessarily feel all of these symptoms, it may only be one or two of them. Furthermore, if vata increases it can trigger the other doshas to aggravate, leading to further problems.
Overall Balance of the Doshas...
Because vata has the power to move and aggravate the other doshas, it is important to manage it to maintain an overall constitutional balance. Vata can be managed in many ways, some of which we explained in a previous newsletter, such as eating warm cooked foods, daily self massage with sesame oil, getting plenty of rest, and so on. One of the oldest, easiest, and most profound ways to quickly restore the balance of vata, as well as prevent it from getting whacked out in the first place, is through vata management therapies. These consist of Abhyanga, Bashpa Swedana, and Shirodhara.
Abhyanga... Warmth & Nurturing
Abhyanga, or warm oil massage, is an Ayurvedic form of massage performed by two therapists, who vigorously massage both sides of the body in synchronicity with generous amounts of warm herbal oil. The refined strokes and marma (subtle pressure point) techniques are specifically designed to allow the properties of the various herbs (infused in the oil) to penetrate deeply into the bodily tissues, helping to detoxify and rejuvenate, as well as inducing a profound state of relaxation.
Bashpa Swedana... Further Cleansing
After the Abhyanga is performed, the client is placed into an herbal steam bath to allow the oils to further penetrate and to open the pores to release impurities. After breaking a good sweat, Shirodhara is administered.
Shirodhara... Letting Go
Shirodhara is probably one of the most famous of all Ayurvedic therapies, as it brings on a state of deep relaxation. Because of its effects on the mind, it has often been called "bliss therapy." The client lies down while warm medicated oil is gently poured in a slow, steady stream over the forehead for 20-30 minutes. This helps to pacify vata, calm and rejuvenate the mind and nervous system, and open the subtle channels of prana (vital energy) in the head. This therapy is helpful for improving memory, comprehension, concentration and meditation, and is also used to treat a variety of disorders of the mind and nervous system.
When the session is complete an herbal dusting is scrubbed onto the body to remove any excess oil and toxins before the client takes a warm shower.
Experience the Bliss...
The results are immediate and profound and will leave you with a wonderful sense of well being and peace of mind. Ultimately, there is no way to describe how you would feel after such a treat...ment. You have to experience it. These therapies can be done separately, but we always recommend to do them together to enhance their effects. It is good to do vata management at the transition between any seasons, especially during the cold months, as this can help to prevent any imbalance and strengthen the immune system during what can be a vulnerable time.
Marma Chikitsa Workshop
December 11, 2004
Learn about vital points that relate to different organs and systems in the body. Marma therapy can be easily integrated into a massage session to improve health, or to stimulate certain organs or bodily parts.
Free Lecture on Ayurveda
Vishnu Dass will talk about the basic principles and practical aspects of this ancient science of health, life, and longevity. Come, bring your friends, discover why Ayurveda is so effective, and see what it can do for you!
Complimentary soup will be served during this lecture. Enjoy!
December 16th, 7-9 PM,
Ayurvedic Cooking Corner
Upma for Breakfast
1 cup bear mush or creamed wheat;
Roast the bear mush in a heavy, dry pan over medium heat until slightly brown, stirring frequently. When ready, set aside to cool.
Heat a saucepan on medium heat and add the oil or ghee, then the mustard and cumin seeds. When the seeds pop, add the other spices except for salt. Stir in the onion, cilantro, and chili and cook until the onion is brown. (If you do not use the onion or chili, sautee the cilantro leaves briefly.)
Roasting decreases the allergens and glutamines in the wheat, thus also its kapha qualities. This delicious dish is tridoshic, but kapha people can increase the mustard seeds and chili to make it even more digestible.
Blue Lotus Ayurveda
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