Blogs

Yoga and Meditation Techniques for Balance

Meditations are most effective when consistently performed. For this reason I believe, one minute meditations for all individuals is best. Everyone can meditate for one minute! Early morning upon awakening is best. If unable to meditate upon awakening, choosing the same time each day to meditate is best. After the habit is established I would increase the meditation and possibly change the time to suit proper doshic dinacharya. (Daily Routine based on doshas)

Vata in Satva is creativity and Joy. Meditation to deepen the expression of joy – Mantra – I am Ananda

Vata in Rajas is anxious and fearful. Meditation with mantra – Om Tara tu tare ture soha -to promote idea of speech, body and mind free of fear.

Vata in Tamas is Sadness and Grief.

Meditation with mantra –

Lokah samasta sukhino bhavantu.

May all beings everywhere be happy. To keep mind centered on others. Ultimately happiness for all will include person with Vata in Tamas. Can use Vanilla aromatherapy during meditation to dispel grief.

Pitta in Satva is spiritual and logical. Meditation, that includes alternate nostril breathing to keep balance of Ida and Pingala and maintain Pitta in Satva.
Pitta in Rajas is aggressive and competitive.

Meditation with mantra – I am Samtosha – I am content. In order to dispel rajas and induce feeling in mind of non-competitiveness because all is ok as is. Can use lavender aromatherapy during meditation to dispel aggression.

Pitta in Tamas is anger and Jealousy. Meditation with pranayama focused on Ida nadi to reduce pitta and Tamas. Cooling energy that flows through Ida will help dispel anger of Pitta.

Kapha in Satva is Love and compassion. Meditation with Kapalbhati to help promote drying and lightness in kapha and maintain Satva.

Kapha in Rajas is Greedy and sentimental. Meditation emphasizing practice of releasing greed. Mantra - I am Aparigraha (greedlessness).

Kapha in Tamas is depressed and lethargic. Moving meditation (Hatha Yoga) emphasizing practice of releasing the physical body. You are not the physical body. The physical body is merely a vehicle for the meditation. Can use Ylang Ylang, aromatherapy during meditation to dispel depression.

Ultimately, meditations for each dosha can be simple as long as:

Satu dirgha kala nairantarya satkara asevitah dridha bhumih

The practice is attained to for a long time with great effort, no interuption and with consistency and devotion. (rough translation)

To learn Meditation and Yoga, you can contact Susan at Haven Yoga in San Diego.

Please note that these are the personal views of the student, and, does not necessarily reflect the view of the college.

By Susan Connor, RYT, AWP(Haven Yoga)
Teacher- Yoga Therapy, Ayurvedic Nutrition, Meditation

Ayurveda and the Mind

By Dr. Nandini Daljit

In the Bhagvad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna “Surrender to me your mind and understanding(Bhagvad Gita, 8:7)”. It is here we see the Ayurvedic distinction of the mind as “that aspect of consciousness which receives impressions. For ease of example, the mind could be thought of as the equivalent of the central processing unit (CPU) of our computer which not only takes external energy (electricity) to sustain itself as the mind takes in prana and nutrients to sustain itself. but has the dual The experiences we encounter are processed (as though a software program sifts and sorts the experience) and this new input is now compared against and organized according to previous impressions (previous data) to so we can achieve and understanding of the experience. Once the experience is recognized as similar to a previous experience we achieve understanding. Our previously imprinted feelings and emotions of experiences of the experience are then attached to further elaborate our perception of the experience to our senses and our perceptions. “Understanding is that which defines impressions and gives them meaning (Kriyananda, p. 348)”.

Whereas in the Western view the mind is often determined to be located in the brain. According to Ayurveda the mind is a conscious flow of energy that originates in the heart and flows to the brain which creates thought and pervades the body which facilitates sensation, perception and experience. When the mind receives the impression the energetic experience of the event evolves from the heart where “the heart’ is used in a Western context to mean evolving from one’s feelings, true being or soul. The next logical question would then be what is the soul?

It is our identification with the encasement of our body which gives us our sense of self or ego. “The jiva, or soul , is individualized consciousiness: the infinite limited to, and identified with, a body (Kriyananda, p.305)”. Swami Yogananda explains that in the Bhagvad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna “Such is My lower nature (Aparaprakriti). Understand now, O Mighty-armed (Arjuna)! that My other and higher nature (Paraprakriti) sustains the soul (jiva), which is individual consciousness, and sustsans also the life-principle of the universe.” (Kriyananda, p. 305). If we accept that the soul, which is the true heart of the being, is the essence of the true being then we understand that the mind of the being emanates from the heart.

Continuing with the analogy of the computer, once the experience comes to the attention of the mind in the CPU it must now be deciphered through software. The mechanism for the software is Sadhaka Pitta. Sadhaka pitta gives momentum to the Manovaha srotas which are the channels of consciousness of the mind. When an experience is recognized in our mind, it has touched our heart and gained momentum from our Sadhaka pitta to move the energy of the experience through the Manovaha srotas. Mano vaha srota--the channels which carry thoughts, ideas, emotions, and impressions. In the analogy of the computer this could be considered data. Our mind then asseses the data for familiarity, determines level of understanding and then releases an emotional, perceptual or cognitive reaction.

When the Manohava srotas are insufficient, the affect of an individual can be reduced with lack or absence of emotion, energy and motivation that could result in depression. When the Manohava srotas are in excess, the mind and affect of the individual can become more animated, agitated or even anxious with thoughts and emotions ceasing to rest to the point where insomnia may be provoked. With the Manohava srotas being located in the heart and circulating in the heart, imbalances could affect heart fuctioning and cause imbalances in circulation of both blood and oxygen.

Analysis of Ayurvedic Herbs

By Jennifer Salvo,

Student

Using plants as medicine has been a mainstay of traditional societies around the world for dealing with health problems for thousands of years.

The Ayurvedic approach to harmony- using diet, lifestyle, and drugs (plants, minerals, and animal origins) was first written in the Caraka Samhita roughly 3000 years ago. It details preventative health and therapeutic measures to treat disease. Ayurvedic drugs were first chosen by experiment, intuition, and discussion among scholars and the therapeutic findings can be read in sutras. It is very important to take into account the dosage of the Ayurvedic drugs given. These herbs, minerals and animal products can be safe and very effective when taken correctly.

The patient must also understand that these drugs are not a “quick fix” and must be taken correctly over a period of time for the desired effects to be achieved. Also, they are most effective when combined with proper diet and lifestyle as well. Some drugs may be taken alone, but most will be given in formulations which promote and harmonize their respective actions. This results in a greater therapeutic effect then taking herbs alone.

Even though there are modern equivalent medicines for many Ayurvedic diseases and symptoms, the popularity of alternative medicine is growing in the west. Most are seeking different strategies for health care driven by the inadequacies of modern medicines to treat disease and chronic conditions.

Understanding Samkhya in Ayurveda


By Monica Bhatia, PhD, PK

One of the most difficult and esoteric topics to grasp in Ayurveda is the Samkhya Philosophy. Our co founder and teacher prepared this 3d video to illustrate the Samkhya, in order to explain the creation of universe, mind, ego, the senses. Our co founder and teacher prepared this 3d video to illustrate the Samkhya, in order to explain the creation of universe, mind, ego, the senses.

The Three Doshas in Ayurveda

By Dr. Nandini Daljit,

Student- San Diego College of Ayurveda

At the cosmically determined time when Parusha meets the destined Atman our Prakruti is determined. Our individual Prakruti is our unique combination of the Pancha Mahabutas within our constitution - that is to say each of us as our own unique combination of the five elements of the Pancha Mahabhutas - those being ether, air, fire, water and earth. "Doshas are bio-energies composed of two of the great Five Elements (Pancha Mahabhutas) that govern our mind, body and spirit" (San Diego College of Ayurveda, Block 1 Module - Ayurveda 101, p.5/56). The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

There are seven combinations of the doshas i.e., Vata-Pitta, Vatta-Kapha, Pitta-Kapha etc. The three Doshas can be considered as the three 'models' of body structure. In class we learned that dosha means fault and that our prakruti is our 'fault-line'. From a strengths-based perspective I would said our dosha or Prakruti is our state of natural balance and any deviation from that natural balance will result in dis-ease.

The Vata dosha (Vaya & Akasha) offers energy through movement and thus holds the Pancha Mahabhatus of Ether and Air. From the elements of ether and air the body is empowered with the energetic force of movement. Vata moves blood through the body (circulation), movement of the limbs and organs (mobility, respiration, pulse) and the movement of communication (nervous system, thought, perception). In terms of communication Vata informs the Tanmatra speech.

The Pitta dosha (Teja & Apa) brings transformative energy to the body through the Pancha Mahabhatus of fire and water. Pitta assists the body in converting raw energy and is tied to metabolism. Pitta brings fuel to the digestive fire through this conversion. Pitta informs the tanmatra of taste through the saliva and conversion of food to digestive enzymes.

The Kapha dosha (Prithivi & Apa) brings cohesion to the body and is resonsible for the buliding of muscle, connective tissue and fat. Kapha brings the Pancha Mahabhuta elements of earth and water to the body which contributes to form and mass. The Tanmatra of Kapha in terms of action is excretion which allows the body to elmininate those solids that no longer solve the body.

All bodies are in fact Tridoshic. We all hold elements of all of the Panch Mahabutas in our natural constitution of our Prackruti. The Vedas teach us that there are three potential sources of disease and suffering: Klesas (mind/body), Adhyatmakika (suffering caused by other living things) and, Adihidaivika (seasonal changesa and natural disasters). In maintaining balance of our Tridosha it is advantageous to consider all of these sources of imbalance collectively.

Often the quest for Tridoshic balance involves identification of obvious stressors that are external. As Vata is the primanry dosha of life - often it is through deep internal self-reflection that our doshas can acheive balance. In this regard

Yoga is an important part of Ayurvedic practice. "Yoga views of anatomy, physiology and psychology were originally formed by doshas (Frawley, 1999, p. 39). As we understand our doshas we also come to understand the specific practices of nutrition, sleep, physical activity, climate, nature, interaction and spirituality that connects our dosha and prakruti as a microcosm to the the universal macrocosm.

What is Ayurveda and the best lifestyle?

By Monica Bhatia, PhD
Students of San Diego College of Ayurveda

We asked our students to give their interpretation on the four types of lifestyles described in Ayurveda, as well as the three types of sufferings described in Vedas. These four 'lives' are:

Ayurveda is the knowledge of 'life'. There are four life paths that we may choose to live -- Hitayu, Sukha-ayu, dukhha-ayu, and, Ahita-ayu. I will mention them later in this article.

1) hit-ayu: A Life with righteous living, truthfulness, living in harmony with nature
a-hit-ayu: A Self absorbed life, conservative , not living in harmony with nature, other entities and environment
3) sukh-ayu: Good Health with sound body and mind, life with comforts. Partial consideration to the nature.
4) dukh-ayu: Disturbed mental and physical state. Negative Karma Accumulation. Harming the Balance of Nature, environment and other entities.

Vedas, as well as the Bhagavat Gita describe three sufferings -- for all living entities -- caused by environment, caused by other entities, caused by physical and mental suffering.

So, if we look at the above four kind of lives, we can actually say that Ayurveda is the systematic knowledge of life.

A student answered, "We have learned that Ayurveda literally translated means life knowledge. This is fascinating to me as the word Ayurveda brings together two words or concepts that independently each hold definitions that are both quantitative and absolute and qualitative and interpretive. In this way the term Ayurveda can represent both the finite and the infinite depending on the balance of the elements and knowledge being considered at any given moment. In this way Ayurveda encapsulates our level of being by interpreting our level of consciousness with what we understand to be our live environment and the knowledge we access to construct that understanding at any given time.

With this in mind, my understanding of Ayurveda is that it is a way of engaging life that embraces a constructivist approach to engaging our presence through a dynamic interplay with the universe - not through an adherence to structure laws of nature but rather through our adaptive capacity to our metaphysical environments. In this regard I was drawn to Ayurveda for it's dichotomous connections with both systems theory and chaos theory two elements that assist me in understanding disease through Ayurveda.

What is most compelling about an Ayurvedic approach to health is it's acknowledgement of the body beyond it's mechanics and form. Emotion, stress, over attachment, lack of attachment, resistance and even persistence all impact our health. Sun, rain, snow, wind all inform our cell structures. Most strikingly - balance in ourselves lies beyond ourselves in our appreciation of that part of ourselves that we see in others (positive or negative). This initiates the connection between the internal cosmos of humans and collectively amongst human beings and the universal cosmos. More concretely - in order to heal ourselves we can support that in those around us that we have nurtured within ourselves.

Response # 2. Ayurveda, defined as the science or the study of life carries with it a description of 4 different types of Life. These types of life are based on the lifestyle of the individual, and takes into account our existence as mulit-dimentional beings.
I have interpreted the text in the passage as a way of describing causes of illness and disease based on these four types of Life's or "Ayu".

According to Ayurvedic Science, our karmic balance of our exsistance (on all levels), determines our likelyhood to develop disease, as well as the type of disease we will likley develop.

For example, if an individual has a life of Hit-Ayu they are less likely to develop disease of any kind. While a person who has a life of A-Hit-Ayu may be more likley than most to develop mind and body illnesses (Adhyatamika). A person who is more Sikh-Ayu may be at risk to develop diesases caused by other living things (Adibhautika). While a person more on the Dukh-Ayu side may be more likely to experience seasonal or environmental diseases (Adhidaivaka).

This is my understanding of the quoted text. I Believe that it describes very well the connection of our exsistance (Physical, Soul, Energetic, Mind and Intellect) and how it comes into play with our lifestyle and finally the diseases we are likley to encounter throughout that exsistance.

Based on the above statements, Ayurveda, as a holistic philosophy, teaches us quite simply that every thing that we do affects our health. From our life styles to the food we ingest, to the good or ill works we do towards others and the planet.

Response #3. These separate parts of our being; physical, spiritual, intellectual, as well as our behaviors, are often seen by western society as statically separate from one another. Ayurveda, like TCM and other Asian philosophies teaches us that these components of self are deeply interconnected and interdependent on one another.

You cannot possibly be physically well if the mind is out of balance. You cannot be emotionally well if the body is unbalanced and so on.

There is much to be said in this earthly life for the laws of attraction. It can be associated with the Vedic viewpoint on karmic balance. If one is consistently thinking negative thoughts and doing negative deeds, they will in fact create and be more susceptible to disease and negative consequences, whether immediate or in the distant future.

Conversely, if one focuses on balance of body, mind, and spirit, strives to do good works and stay positive, the majority of the time good health and wealth is bestowed upon this person. This is not necessarily because we are being rewarded by some cosmic power but rather because our entire universe responds to this energetic law.

That being said, we still suffer, obviously from things that are outside of our control. No one chooses to be affected by earthquakes or to be accidentally hit by a car. No one wants to be infested by a parasite or even to have allergic reactions to their household pet. Most of these things are outside of our power and have little to do with karmic balance. We can, however, influence the healing process with Ayurveda and return once more to homeostasis to the best of our abilities.

All of our being, physical, mental, emotional wants to work toward homeostasis. When we eat foods that are “anti-doshic”(yes I just made up that term), when we are too sedentary or too stressed, when we think ill thoughts of ourselves and harbor hate, grief, and pain, when we do not forgive, when we are unkind to others, when we do not breath and allow in new experiences and love, when we use drugs or become dependant on mood altering substances, when we ignore divinity; these are all contributors to disease.

Ayurvedic Herbs for Self Healing

By Midori Hatakayama- Ayurveda Wellness Practitioner

I believe that herbal medicines are important to us because they connect us with the very source of our life that is the nature, which is full of vitality and pure energies. Further more, herbal medicines are the time tested holistic and preventive medicines that have least side effects if at all.

It is said that the many of the herbs on the market are wild grown and the destruction of the natural habitats and the growing needs for herbs are inviting the phenomenon of over harvesting which are risking the extinction of potent and popular herbs grown in wild.

By choosing herbal medicine, one must recognize the value of the nature and the five elements within. Herbalists must become aware of the environment that surrounds not only themselves but also the environment that surrounds the very plants that save us from suffering. It is crucial for herbalists to learn about the local cultures and the lives of local people and how the plants are harvested.

It is important that we become aware of the circumstances of the plants and that any suffering of the source we use for the medicine will directly affect the effect of our medicine not to mention the extinction of the source. It is also important that herbalists
and the practitioners of traditional medicines unite themselves in the protection and conservation of the nature.

To protect the future of the herbal medicine, cultivation and certification of herbs must be encouraged and the practitioners of Traditional Medicine and herbalists should make a conscientious choice of correcting cultivated and certified herbs instead of wild grown endangered herbs for their practices.

By choosing the way of herbal medicine, not only we have chosen the holistic health for ourselves but also chosen the holistic way of life in which we must stand aside with the nature and wildlife and participate in a conscientious and ethical practice of collecting herbs.

DOSAGES

In general, low dose restores, stimulates, or cleanses the target system by balancing related dosha; medium dose directory affects the target dosha and counteracts to the symptoms of its imbalance; and high dose dramatically increases or decreases the target dosha whereby causing aggravation of non-target dosha.

If you'd like to use this article, please reprint and give the link to this page, and, give the following credit to Midori Hatekayama, seasonalyoga.net and San Diego College of Ayurveda.

Read More

Regular Bowel Movements (Mala) are the secret to Health

Regular Bowel Movements are the secret to Health

By Monica B Groover, PhD, PK

A chiropractor friend recently told me, that he recently did muscle testing for a patient, and, found out that constipation and irregular elimination increased their symptoms. When his patients have regular bowel movements, their back pain seems diminished.

Ayurveda believes that balanced elimination is KEY to good health.

The definition of Health according to Ayurveda is 'Sama Dhatu (Balanced Tissues), Sama Dosha (Balanced Doshas), Sama Agni (Balanced Digestive Fire) - hence, Balanced Elimination or Mala.

Ayurvedic text books talk about two kinds of Eliminate or Waste Materials.

i Ahara mala or wastes from food
ii Dhatu mala or wastes from the tissues

Ahara Mala:

Ayurveda believes we are not just what we eat – we are also what we digest! Digesting and eliminating whatever we put in our bodies is referred to as Ahara Mala

Ahara Mala is further divided into three types in Ayurvedic Medicine:

Purisha (Faeces) – According to Ayurveda, Purisha or faeces are the elimination of Earth, and, Water element. For a healthy BM(Bowel Movement), we need to eat the earth element(Fibre from whole grains), as well as drink warm or hot water. Cold water is not suggested. Appearance of the stools differ according to the imbalance of dosha, and, dhatus. For example, if the stool is hard, it may suggest a vata imbalance. It may suggest a variable Agni or digestive fire. Constipation or less than 1 BM a day is also suggestive of Vata imbalance. 3-5 Bowel movements that are loose along with acidity and acid reflux may suggest a pitta imbalance. For vata imbalance, and, constipation -- Triphala Ghee for Vata imbalance. For Acidity, Ayurveda suggest avoiding sour foods including fermented foods and drinks, salt, and, as going very easy on hot spices like cayenne pepper, ginger, pungent foods like onions or garlic. Cumin, Coriander and Fennel tea, whey probiotic lassi drink or eating pomegranates is excellent for pitta imbalances with more than 3 or 4 bowel movements, and, acidity.

11 Mutra - Urine – Ayurvedic texts talk about balanced elimination of water element. Drinking regular herbal teas like tulsi tea, vata, pitta or kapha tea, rose tea, or simply drinking warm to hot water is suggested to have a balanced mutra.

111 Sveda – Sweat- If a person is not sweating, or, their sweat is toxic or smells – then this may be a sign of Ama. Sveda or Sweat is induced through regular exercise, walking in the Sun (shade), as well as Steam therapy.

Now, let's move to Dhatu Malas.

There are seven Dhatus and seven Dhatu Malas.

Rasa Dhatu (Plasma)
Rakta Dhatu (Blood)
Mamsa Dhatu (Muscles)
Meda Dhatu (Fat)
Asthi Dhatu(Bones, Teeth, Cartilage)
Majja Dhatu (Bone Marrow)
Shukra Dhatu (Reproductive Tissue)

Each of these seven dhatus have elimination or Mala as well.

Secretions of the nose including nasal crust, tears in the eyes, was in the ears are Mala or waste.

When we exercise and produce lactic acid, or, exhale carbon dioxide, – that is considered a mala as well. Hence, breathing deep and pranayama is suggested in the morning time.

Hair and nails are considered Mala or waste of Asthi Dhatu. Sweat is a waste of Meda or Mamsa dhatu.

Elimination through regular bowel movements, as well as sweating, is key to good health according to Ayurvedic principles.

To be considered healthy – Ayurvedic practitioners check the quantity (pramana), qualities (gunas), and function (karma) of all the above waste products.

When body does not produce enough Mala – it causes imbalance, and Ama. Ama are fat soluble and water soluble Ahara Mala that have not been digested or eliminated by the body.

Just like a compost bin filled with organic waste when not cleaned may start smelling and start producing germs, undigested food particles or Ama gives rise to toxins.

Signs of Ama may include, but, are not limited to waking up tired even with a full nights sleep, low energy, lethargy, fatigue, bloating, flatulence, constipation, or diarrhea, pain while urinating, strong odor in stool, urine and sweat; dark yellow urine, skin breakouts, abnormal discharges, white coating on tongue, colored mucous, congestion.

If you would like to reprint or use this article, please email us at info@ayurveda-california.org. Please give the entire hyperlink, as well as school name – San Diego College of Ayurveda the credit.

Doshas and the Mind

By Antonia Warren

The three maha gunas, vata, pitta, and kapha each have an important role to play in our overall health (provided they remain in balance), and when provoked, each of them tends to cause a specific range of imbalances that can manifest either in the physical body or in the more subtle realms. As a result, vata, pitta, and kapha each have a particular flavor of influence on the mind, emotions, and overall consciousness, and each of them can either support or undermine our overall health—it all depends on whether or not they are in balance.

Vata and the Mind

Vata dosha, which governs the nervous system and the mind, is primarily made up of the air and ether elements. Not coincidentally, the mind is also primarily composed of the air and ether elements, making it especially susceptible to vata imbalances. When in balance, vata is generally associated with creativity, intuition, clairvoyance, the capacity to connect with the subtle realms, profound spiritual understanding, and a natural sense of expansiveness. Vata imbalances, on the other hand, typically manifest as a certain instability, agitation, or hypersensiti

vity in the mind, and often involve excess rajas as well.
Aggravated vata can cause rapid changes in mood, fear, anxiety, contraction, a sense of being scattered, a lack of direction, spaciness, ungroundedness, excessive speed in the thoughts and words, over-activity in the sympathetic nervous system, and a sense of loneliness or isolation. Excess vata also tends to draw us out of our bodies and can leave us feeling somewhat disassociated or disembodied, disturbing our sense of security and belonging to the material world.

Aggravations of vata in mano vaha srotas are often the result of overexertion, overworking, stress, trying to attend to too many things all at once, times of travel or transition, overstimulation (e.g., lights, crowds, technology, etc.), loud noises (or loud music), stimulants such as nicotine, caffeine, and recreational drugs, and excessive exercise or sexual activity. Vata can also be elevated in the mind as a result of a vata-provoking diet, which may include too many dry, light, and rough foods like raw vegetables, crackers, dried fruits, and the like.

Pitta and the Mind

Pitta dosha, which governs insight and intellect, is primarily made up of the fire and water elements. Pitta is closely associated with the gray matter of the brain and has a very important connection with the mind as a whole. Pitta is also closely aligned with a number of Rasajic qualities, which can accumulate in the mind and cause very pitta-specific types of imbalances. Healthy pitta is generally associated with courage, confidence, will power, intelligence, leadership, a sense of vision, acceptance, contentment, satisfaction, enthusiasm, cooperation, and the capacity to surrender.
But when pitta accumulates in the mind, it tends to cause anger, hatred, irritability, frustration, impatience, resentment, envy, judgment, criticism, a rigid attachment to one’s personal beliefs and perspectives, excessive ambition, and a ruthless desire for power.

Aggravations of pitta and rajas in mano vaha srotas are often caused by excess heat and upward moving energy in the body, imbalances in the liver, periods of intense focus or ambition, as well as a tendency to disregard the needs of one’s body in favor of achieving one’s goals. Pitta can also be elevated in the mind as a result of a pitta-provoking diet, which may include too many hot, spicy, especially sour, oily, or fried foods.

Kapha and the Mind

Kapha dosha, which governs structure and lubrication in the body, is primarily made up of the water and earth elements. Kapha is closely associated with the white matter of the brain, the adipose tissue that comprises the brain and nervous tissue, and is also strongly connected to our capacity for memory. As the densest of the doshas, kapha is also aligned with tamas, which can accumulate in the mind and cause very kapha-specific types of imbalances. Healthy kapha is generally associated with love, compassion, patience, groundedness, loyalty, steadiness, endurance, and an overarching sense of ease in one’s life.

But when kapha accumulates in the mind, it tends to cause lethargy, complacency, laziness, depression, stubbornness, attachment, greed, emotional possessiveness, and a tendency to hoard material possessions.

Aggravations of kapha and tamas in mano vaha srotas are often caused by excess density and heaviness in the physical, mental, and emotional spheres, and can also involve an excess of downward moving energy in the body. Excess kapha in the mind is also triggered by an overly sedentary lifestyle, a lack of stimulation or interest in one’s life, inadequate exercise, a sluggish digestive fire, or a kapha-provoking diet—which might include too many especially heavy, dense, or cold foods (like cheese, ice cream, and fried foods).

Who are Ayurvedic Herbalists?

By Sarah Moore

While Western Herbalists are predominantly concerned with extracting the active minerals and vitamins of an herb for its chemically medicinal usages, Ayurvedic Herbalists recognize herbs as a product of Mother Nature who has infused specific energetics going beyond the scope of chemical composition.


(Image: Curry Leaves)

Although Western Naturopathic Doctors receive special training in clinical herbalism, Western Physicians educated in Allopathic Medicine are generally not trained in the medicinal use of herbs. It is required of Ayurvedic Herbalists to be Ayurvedic Practitioners.

Ayurvedic herbalists and practitioners residing in the West don’t typically grow Ayurvedic herbs, because it’s not a tropical or temperate climate. It is not the appropriate environment for the herb to grow in a way that will offer its entire efficacy: its chemical and non-chemical energetics, Mother Nature’s essence. These practitioners may use powdered herbs rather than fresh for this reason. It is understood that Western herbalists should be able to cultivate herbs, be a gardener, have knowledge of anatomy and holistic pathology, and be able to create formulations and suggest herbs for clients’ ailments.

Ayurvedic Herbalists are also required to be gardeners, knowledgeable of anatomy and create formulations and recommendations, but unlike Ayurvedic Herbalists Western Herbalists plant and garden desired herbs in man-made, climate-controlled environments needed for these herbs to grow, irrespective of geographical location.

Western Herbalists are concerned mainly with the amount of inherent compound within an herb and how much can be yielded from it—there is more focus on quantity than quality. In other words, there is less focus on the preparation of the herb and using the whole herb (as much as possible and appropriate), such as with Ayurvedic Herbalism, and more focus on removing contaminants and extracting only the desired active compounds as much as possible. There is so much focus on the extraction (or harvest) of the herbs that they are sometimes plucked immaturely, at a wrong time of day, or by someone null of intent, love, compassion and respect for the medicinal essence of the herb.

While Western Herbalists are restricted to plants, Ayurvedic Herbalists are not. In Ayurveda, there is a word for all organic and inorganic substances: dravya. Dravya includes plants, herbs, leaves, spices, rocks, crystals, gems, resins, minerals, and animal-based products such as feathers, shells, coral, honey and milk. All dravya is therapeutic. Even water has different essences and therapeutic qualities—lake water has different qualities than mountain water.

Ayurvedic Herbalists even use herbs and metals—such as mercury—that are restricted by the FDA. Ayurveda uses different purification methods called sodhana in order to extract the therapeutic qualities from a poisonous or toxic dravya; such practices include burning or cooking. All dravya has qualities (gunas), actions (karma) and a psycho-physiological constitution (dosha), while Mother Nature gives its healing quality and essence. Each level of seeding, growing and harvesting affects the prana (life force), taste (rasa), gunas, karma, and dosha of the dravya. In Ayurveda, the herb should be full of prana and rasa.

Ayurvedic Herbalism also takes into regard the quality (guna) of the liquid component being used to process an herbal concoction, while Western Herbalists typically do not consider this. For instance, in Ayurveda vinegar has a heating quality, because of this we do not want to offer a formulation with vinegar to a client with current similar qualities, that is someone with a Pitta vikruti (current constitution), such as a woman in pre-menopause or a balanced person with a Pitta prakruti (original constitution) because it will increase their Pitta, and possibly ignite Pitta disease.

In terms of medicinal aim, Ayurvedic herbalism treats the disease, while Western herbalism is mostly focused on treating the symptoms. Ayurvedic Herbalism aims to work on the entire body, rather than focusing mainly on pathogenic organisms, as is the focus in Western Herbalism.

Ayurvedic herbs are also given to healthy, balanced individuals, whereas in Western Herbalism, aside from vitamins and mineral supplements, all other herbs are used for treating symptoms and diseases. Lastly, while most Western herbal combinations or formulations contain at most two or three herbs limiting their scope of treatment, an Ayurvedic Herbal formulation can contain a combination of up to 40 to 50 herbs allowing for a wider range of combined herbal action, bringing the individual to a more total body balance. In Ayurveda an individual is a universe made of a body, mind and soul, where all parts are involved in its fine balance; if one part is imbalanced eventually other parts become imbalanced. Ayurvedic Herbalism offers an all-encompassing approach to the treatment of the body, mind and soul.

Syndicate content