monica's blog

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.

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.

Ayurveda and emotions

Ayurveda and Emotions

By Nina Elliot (Ayurveda Counselor Student)

In one of our first classes we were introduced to the Shad Darshan (6 philosophies of Life) as the foundation for Ayurveda. The Sankhya philosophy detailed the journey of Consciousness into Matter. Simply put, Purusha (pure consciousness) just IS, and when Prakruti (latent matter) and its three gunas (Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas) are added, we have our existence as we know it.

The human being is made of three components: Manas-the Mind, Atma-the Soul and Sharira-the physical body, and according to Ayurveda, wellness depends on the balance of these three. We covered our Sharira in the first months, and we are now expanding our knowledge to include the Mind. Just like the Sankhya concept that everything in creation is in movement, the mind is the same thing, in this case it is thoughts moving through consciousness.

The mind is a layer of energy, which, when combined with Ahamkara and Intelligence, form the seat of Consciousness, and makes us knowledgeable. The basic components of the Mind are Atman (soul), Ahamkara (ego), Buddhi (intellect), and Manas (mind). If the mind is disturbed, all the aspects of the mind will not thrive, and functioning normally is not possible.

Manas is our unique door to reality, as well as a unique door in structure. It swings both ways, as it is an organ of both reception and expression, making it an Atindriya, or the 11th Indruya (the others are the 5 knowledge-acquiring senses and 5 working senses). On either side of this Atindrya, we have two more ‘panels’ which make up the door; one side is the subtle Anutva, which makes the mind unmeasurable, yet inferred, while the other is the Ekatva, describing One, but made up of many Ones. All of our perceptions are taking place in the mind and all the actions originate in the mind. This doorway’s location is in the heart, yet its power can permeate throughout our subtle and physical body. Another interesting metaphor for the mind brought up in class, is to think of the mind as the Central Processing Unit, as it connects our external world to our inside through the senses.

Basic functions of the mind are as follows:

To think

To judge

To decide

To keep control of self

To keep control of organs

To set goals

Similar to the concept of the 5 elements creating the doshas, which are the groundwork for our physical bodies, the three gunas (Sattva, Raja and Tama) are the essential components of the mind. And just like we are made up of combinations of Vata, Pitta and Kapha, all three Gunas are needed to provide the mind’s structure. Sattva represents intelligence and light of knowledge, Rajas represents activity and turbulence and Tamas represents darkness and inertia.

The gunas can show up as predominance in the mind; ie much like a person can be Vata dominant, a person can also be considered Sattvik, yet still having Rajas and Tamastic qualities. A person who has cultivated Sattva guna has intelligence, compassion, full awareness and speak with non-offensive truth. People with Rajas tend to overpower others, and show dynamic energy. They can be hot tempered, creative, ambitious. Lastly, one who is considered Tamastic may be lazy, ignorant, excessively indulge in food, sleep and sex, health or hygiene may not be top-priority. Though we should strive to be more Sattvik, we should also honor and witness the Rajas and Tamas part of ourselves. A hopeful aspect is that unlike our physical Prakruti, which tends to be more fixed, is that our Manas prakruti can change and evolve over time.

Emotions can be tasted determined by the mind; these Rasas are associated with mood, personality, or motivation of an individual. Just like the Shad (6) Rasa in our Ahara, there are 9 rasas associated in the mind: Shringara (love/beauty), Hasya (laughter), Karuna (sorrow), Raudra (anger), Veera (courage), Bhayanaka (fear), Bibhatsya (disgust), Adbutha (wonder, awe) and Shantha (peace). When we ‘eat’ our emotions, our mind acts like a digestive enzyme, and can offer either nutrition in good mental health, or destruction if unbalanced.

Ayurveda, in its holistic approach to health, can help with maintaining balance in the soul and body; the mind is no exception.

Ayurveda and the Mind

A Definition of the Mind or Manas according to Ayurveda-

By Liberty Elliot (Ayurveda Counselor Student)

According to Ayurveda, Humans are beings who are layered and multidimensional, comprised of a Triad of Existence which consists of the Body, Mind, and Soul. These parts are inseparable and coexist together in order to maintain our life and consciousness.

Beginning with the Soul, or Atma, there is a spark of Divine Consciousness. The Atma is like the God particle, an inseparable part of us that resides in and is the Universe. This indestructible energy animates our body with Prana (subtle and vital life-force energy) and it also interacts with the external world via our mind and senses. Soul resides in the Heart. This essence can transmigrate from one physical being, carried with the subtle mind and ego, to the next in a progression of reincarnated existence. Bliss is the natural state of the Atma.

Mind is an integral part of humans that interacts with both the soul and physical body and could be likened to the Conductor in a Symphony of Life. Mind, or Manas as it is known in Ayurvedic terms, is our consciousness and becomes both Ego (Ahamkara) and Intellect (Bhuddi) as it evolves. Our Ego is the first layer after the Atma, providing our sense of identity and purpose, it is the doer. Buddhi or Intellect is responsible for our powers of logic, reasoning, and memory, it resides mostly in the head.

The mind is very powerful and permeates both subtle and physical bodies via the circulation of Prana, our vital life force. Residing in the heart and brain, it circulates throughout the body in the Pranavaha and Manovaha Srotas. The mind creates consciousness in connection with the body and senses. It is the command center of the Sensory and Motor Functions, sometimes referred to as our 6th Sense. It also is responsible for thinking, feeling, and being willing. The mind is an organ of both perception and action and it greatly determines our perception of reality. Mind is comprised of the three energies (Gunas) of Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas.

Rajas-a mode of passion or desire, characterized by activity and turbulence, it can relate to ambitious and dynamic action, but if imbalanced also greed and heated temper

Tamas-a mode of darkness, ignorance, and inertia, characterized by inactivity and a depressed state, is responsible for important functions, like sleep, but it can also relate to laziness and indulgence.

Sattva-a state of peace, intelligence, and enlightenment, characterized by traits of compassion, courage, and good intellect. Sattva is a state of pure existence, a balanced and peaceful state of mind where the Gunas are all in a state of balance and harmony.

Mind oversees how we think, feel, and our actions and decisions. It is said that the mind is a powerful servant but a dangerous master.

In Ayurveda, most imbalances arise first in the mind due to its most powerful effect on our behaviors. Suffering and diseases may be caused by Rogas or improper behaviors which arise from our egotistical desires. They are likened to the seven cardinal sins. Actions like lust, gluttony, greed, violence, and anger will lead to inevitable suffering and heavier karmic debt. This is why it is important to make an effort to practice restraints and willpower in such cases to overcome our most basic desires and evolve in a more spiritual way. Practices like Meditation, Mantra Yoga, and Chanting can strengthen our minds. Charitable actions too are very helpful in raising our awareness and can help to achieve great peace and balance in our mind which can flow from consciousness into our life for the benefit of all existence.

Difference between Western Astrology and Jyotisha?

By Liberty Elliot

Having first understood the Western Astrology system, I admit that I too considered it to be somewhat of pseudoscience, but that misconception is due to the fact that it is greatly simplified, sometimes just boiled down to a convenient pickup line "What's your sign?" which refers to the Sun Sign in a person's Natal Chart. The first great differentiation which I have learned from Vedic Astrology is that there is a much more complex system of sub-classifications, Planets, Constellations, and Houses, commonly called the Grahas, Rasis, and Bhavas in a person Chart, all of them interact to paint a combined picture of the result of a person's past Karma, and what I understand to be the lessons which we are most seeking in this incarnation in order to better align with our true Soul and purpose.

One major difference between to two systems is the adjustment of the Planetary positions relative to the Constellations or Backdrop of Stars, as we have come to know, this backdrop is not fixed and moves counterclockwise in the Zodiac belt approximately 1 degree every Seventy-two years. At one time the two Systems coincided in their positions but this precession of the Zodiac causes a current discrepancy of around 23 degrees and 51 minutes, called the Ayanamsha.

For me, this was a stark discrepancy because my Natal Sun Sign actually does differ in the two systems. Having always identified as an Aries since my birthday is on March 25th, it was a mind-blowing moment when I discovered that according to my Vedic Chart, my Sun sign is actually in Pisces.

Western Astrology utilizes a more fixed placement of the Constellations which begins always with Aries at the Spring Equinox and therefore the Signs are based on the Sun's position and the Seasons. I appreciate the Vedic system which accounts for the actual position of the Planets in Relation to the Stars and Constellations.

Secondly, what is striking to me is something I mentioned at the beginning. There are complex systems of the different Planets, Constellations (or Signs), and Houses that all interact to paint a full picture.

I never even knew of the Planets in Astrology other than knowledge of the Sun Sign, so it was a great expansion of my understanding to know that we're all these Planets-Seven plus two Shadow-like Nodes of the Moon which are located in both the Houses and the Constellations. Where they are in relation to each other casts great meaning for each individual.

Additionally, there is the Dasa or Planetary period that is determined by when an individual is born. It is super interesting to me how the Current positions affect each individual differently, depending on their particular Dasa as represented in the Vimshottari. Essentially a planet that is ruling over a specific Dasa may gain more power over an individual, influencing them to act per the nature of that Planet.

A planetary effect is also amplified when the current Planetary position crosses over a Constellation in someone's Birth chart, for example, Saturn in Capricorn (current position) for someone with Saturn in Capricorn on their Natal Chart, or is presiding over a current Planetary period that is the same as a person's Dasa, example a current Venus Dasa for someone who is also experiencing their Venus Dasa at this time.

The final difference I will note is the importance of the Moon in Vedic Astrology versus the Sun in Western Astrology. Moon is representative of our Mind and sub-conscious Mind. Tropical Astrology emphasizes the Sun Sign or our outer personality, a sort of "Business Card we present to the World." Vedic Astrology is paying more attention to the Journey and evolution of the Soul, often the transformation of Consciousness occurs when inward work is done and we unplug from the expectations of outer reality.
Moon representing our mind influences our emotions, peace of mind, and general well-being. It casts a shade through which we perceive our external reality and circumstances as they occur. A weak position or an afflicted Moon often means the individual's Peace of Mind may be disturbed.

The Moon also has a separate divisional System in Vedic Astrology called Nakshatras, 27 Lunar Mansions which occupy the Zodiac and are identified by the brightest star in each one. They also occupy the Rasis, each Nakshatra equals 13 degrees, 20 minutes of the Zodiac, and each Constellation 30 degrees, so there is a little more than two Nakshatras per Constellation and one that is split between Constellations.

The Moon travels through all 27 each Lunar Cycle and each Nakshatra adds further meaning to the current placement of the Moon and Planets.

There are so many layers and aspects to this Beautiful Science or "Study of Light", and it is based on a premise that what is happening in the Universe also occurs on a micro level within a person's body, mind, and consciousness, their entire being. Utilizing this subtle information can help us to identify a person's strengths and potential challenges or places where growth is required.

We can then prescribe balancing or remedial measures including the wearing of Gemstones, Mantras performed to a specific Deity or Planet, and Pujas or Ritualistic Practices and Sacrifices which can strengthen or appease the Planets and their energies in order to achieve the desired outcome or to soften the challenges presented by their placements.

Are you familiar with Rasa (Six Tastes) in Ayurveda?

By Laura Loma and Liberty Elliot

Are you familiar with Rasa (Six Tastes) in Ayurveda?

In Ayurveda, Rasa is translated as tastes. Each rasa is made of two of the five elements known as Mahabhutas. These consist of Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.

The six Rasas and their elements are:

● Sweet made up of Earth and Water
● Sour made up of Earth and Fire
● Salty made up of Water and Fire
● Pungent made up of Fire and Air
● Astringent made up of Air and Earth
● Bitter is made up of Air and water

Why is this Important to Know?

Ayurveda recommends a nourishing whole food diet such as fruits and vegetables that are full of Prana (life force energy) however, not all foods may be benefiting you, and perhaps they may be slowing down your Agni (digestive fire).

Your digestion is the best indicator in knowing what foods and their rasas are healing you or harming you. So ask yourself, do you find your digestion sluggish and dull? Or perhaps it’s sharp and explosive? Or is your digestion irregular and you tend towards constipation? Consuming the Rasa rich Foods best suited for you is key to a balanced digestion and overall health. Ayurveda recommends meals to offer the six tastes, this is called Shad Rasa which is most important to balance the digestive system. Considering any present digestive imbalance, you would consume more of some rasas than others.

Are You Aware of Rasa’s Additional Beneficial Properties?

Each taste offers impressive health benefits listed below:

Sweet Rasa consists of natural sweets offerings from Mother Earth. Such foods like whole wheat grains and rice. Fruit such as mango, banana, dates. Dairy such as buttermilk, yogurt and cream. Grounding root vegetables such as carrots, yams and sweet potatoes are known to build tissues, calms nerves, improves semen and nourishes sense of organs.

Hello my healthy minded friends! This is Liberty, sharing ways that we can create healthy habits in our diet and lifestyles that can bring balance into our lives and encourage a state of optimum health.

We have learned about the 5 great Elements- Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth and how everything we touch taste and see, including the foods we eat are made up of a unique composition and combination of these 5 Elements.

Today we dive deeper into this concept by exploring the 6 tastes, or Rasas as they are known in Ayurvedic vocabulary. They are- Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter and Astringent. The six tastes relate to the Elements and they have specific effects on the bodily functions and tissues.

Sweet- this Rasa is made up of Earth and Water Elements. Sweet is calming for Vata and Pitta types, but may aggravate Kapha. Foods like natural sugars, Fruits such as mango6, ripe banana, dates and grains and carbohydrates as well as some dairy, milk and butter are sweet. Sweet foods have the ability to build and restore tissues in th body and they tend to have a calming effect.

Sour- this Rasa is made up of Earth and Fire Elements. It is balancing for Vata and may imbalance Kapha and Pitta types. Fruits like Citrus, fermented foods like yogurt and pickles and vinegar are sour. Sour flavored foods are have a cleansing effect on the body's tissue and enhance the ability to absorb minerals.

Salty- this flavor is made up of Fire and Water elements. Foods like Salt, minerals, Seaweed and salted snacks like nuts and chips are salty. Salty foods improve the taste of other foods and act as a natural lubricant bringing water element into the body's tissues.

Pungent- this Rasa is made up of Fire and Air elements. It is balancing for Kapha and may imbalance Vata and Pitta types. Spicy foods like Chili Peppers, Garlic, Cayenne and Black Pepper are pungent. Pungent foods stimulate digestive and metabolic functions in the body.

Bitter- this flavor or Rasa is made up of Space and Air elements. Bitter has a balancing effect for Kapha and Pitta but imbalances Vata type. Foods like dark leafy greens, Kale and Dandelion and some spices like Turmeric are bitter. Bitter flavored foods have a detoxifying effect and tend to lighten the body's tissues.

Astringent- this Rasa is a combination of Air and Earth elements. It is balancing for Pitta and Kapha and may aggravate Vata type. Vegetables such as legumes and some fruits like Pomegranate and Cranberries are astringent flavor. Astringent foods have natural diuretic properties, removing water from the body's tissues and drying out fats in the body.

In a healthy and balanced diet, all of the 6 flavors will be represented. By understanding the qualities of the 6 Rasa and and elements which they relate to, we can make proper food choices according to our individual Dosha type and current condition that can help us restore balance and maintain a state of optimum health.

Shad Rasa (Six Rasas)

By Anisa Shukla and Tejal Shukla

According to Ayurveda, it is important to taste our foods - Rasa - the Sanskrit word for taste also means experience, enthusiasm, juice, plasma and essence.

Ayurveda recognizes six tastes or rasas, each of which has a vital role to play in our physiology, health, and well-being. Sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes combine in many different ways to create a diversity of flavors that we encounter throughout our lives.

The sweet taste, as a naturally appealing element of our diets. It is the flavor of sugar that could be found in dates, wheat and fruits. Sweet tastes pacify vata and pitta but aggravate kapha doshas.

The sour taste tends to be fairly familiar to us - it is primarily the result of acids in our foods such as citrus fruits. We often “pucker” when we encounter the sour taste and it immediately moistens the mouth and increases the flow of saliva. The sour taste tends to increase pitta dosha in the body.

The salty taste is almost singularly derived from salt and is readily identified in our diets. We find this taste in fish, soy sauce and celery. The salty taste is said to be heating thus aggravates Kapha dosha.

The pungent taste is one of dry, intense heat that can be found in spicy foods and many herbs and spices. It is usually created by the presence of aromatic garlic and chili that stimulate the tissues and nerve endings of the mouth with a sensation of sharp and fiery heat. The pungent taste can increase pitta and vata dosha but pacify kapha dosha.

The bitter taste is a flavor that is not necessarily something enjoyable, although some people truly enjoy it. For some coffee can be a very enjoyable bitter taste for most along with dark chocolate. The bitter taste can pacify pitta dosha but aggravate vata dosha.

The astringent taste is a flavor of dryness that is generally produced by tannins such as the taste of red wine. It causes the mucus membranes in the mouth to contract and results in an immediate dry, chalky, and sometimes puckering sensation in the mouth. The astringent taste is frequently complemented by the sweet or sour tastes. Finally, this taste can increase vata as it is drying.

Ayurveda teaches us to appreciate that, every substance is made up of a combination of the [5] basic elements or Panchamahabhutas- Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. There are 6 tastes according to Ayurveda and these elements in 2 different combinations are present in all of the 6 tastes.

The 6 tastes-sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent, are based on the actual taste in the mouth. Rasa, means to taste or to experience, "Ra"= taste, and "sa" = juice. This applies to food, herbs and minerals. According to Ayurveda, a balanced meal has a little bit of each rasa. When there is an imbalance of doshas or blockages in channels (srotas), Ayurvedic practitioners recommend a nutrition plan that pays special attention to the 6 tastes. Each taste can either increase or decrease the doshas.

1. Sweet Taste: (madhura) made up of earth and water, its qualities are heavy, cooling and oily. it pacifies vata and pitta but increases kapha. Sweet taste can relieve thirst and burning sensations and is nutritive to the body tissues. The sweet taste from foods for example, like rice, milk wheat and dates can enhance the vital essence of life or Ojas. Other examples or sweet foods are, beans, maple syrup, peas, and sweet potatoes. Psychologically, sweet taste in moderation enhances love and compassion.

2. Sour Taste:(amla) made up of earth and fire, it is sour, acidic, and that which ferments easily. The sour taste decreases vata but increases pitta and kapha. Sour taste is found in foods such as yogurt, vinegar, lemons, fermented foods and sour cream. A small amount of sour taste is refreshing and energizes the body and enlivens the mind.

3. Salty Taste: (lavana) made up of water and fire, it is heating , heavy, oily and hydrophilic in nature. The salty taste decreases vata while increasing pitta and kapha. Just a little bit of salt enhances the taste of food. When used in moderation, salt balances the doshas and it stimulates salivation, aids in digestion, absorption and assimilation. salty taste comes from foods such as, himalayan salt, soy sauce, seaweed, celery. Psycologically, salty taste enhances spirit, and interest.

4. Pungent Taste: (katu) made up of fire and air. It is light drying and heating in nature. It pacifies kapha but increases pitta and vata. When used in moderation, it kindles agni (digestive fire), improves digestion and absorption and cleans the mouth. It can also aid in circulation and helps to eliminate waste products from the body. Psycologically, pungent taste brings enthusiasm, and vitality to the mind. Pungent foods include radishes, onions, ginger, black pepper and chili to name a few.

5. Bitter Taste: (tikta) made up of air and ether, it is cool, light and dry in nature. It increases vata but decreases pitta and kapha. We need all 6 tastes in our diet, but this taste is lacking in the western diet. It is important because bitter taste improves all other tastes. Bitter taste is cleansing, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying, it helps to kindle agni due to its light and dry qualities. Psychologically, bitter taste helps you become more self-aware. Bitter taste can be found in coffee, turmeric, olives, cabbage, grapefruits and green leafy vegetables.

6. Astringent: (kashaya) made up of air and earth elements, it is cooling, drying, and heavy in nature. It reduces both pitta and kapha, but increases vata. The astringent taste improves absorption and creates binding in the stool. Psychologically, astringent taste is supportive and grounding due to the earth element. Helps the mind become collected and organized. The astringent taste can be found in most raw vegetables, raw banana, pomegranate, chickpeas, walnuts, lentils, green beans and sprouts.

Taste can tell us a lot about what we are eating but most important, about the physical and energetic qualities from the universe we are taking into our being.

Six Tastes in Ayurveda

By Maria Hall

Ayurveda Counselor Student.

Ayurveda describes a balanced meal as one with six tastes, sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. According to Ayurveda, each taste is made of two primary elements. The six tastes and their elements are as follows:

SWEET

Sweet taste has earth and water, and examples of sweet tastes are rice, grains, milk,
wheat, ripe bananas, and pineapple.

SOUR

Sour has earth and fire, and examples of sour tastes are tomatoes, citrus fruits,
tamarind, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, fermented foods, and vinegar.

SALTY

Salty has fire and water, and examples of salty foods are sea weeds, celery, water
cress, spinach, mineral water, table salt and sea vegetables.

PUNGENT

Pungent has air and fire, and examples of pungent tastes are cayenne pepper, chili
pepper, ginger, garlic, wasabi, radish, mustard seeds, turnips, and cloves.

BITTER

Bitter has air and space, and examples of bitter tastes are dark leafy greens, dandelion root, bitter melon, turmeric, dark chocolate, and coffee.

ASTRINGENT

Finally, astringent has air and earth, and examples of astringent taste are lentils,
pomegranate, cranberries, broccoli, and rye. Now that you have an idea of the six
tastes, let me explain how they play a vital role in bodily functions.

Action of Sweet Taste

Sweet taste has cooling energy or “virya” and it helps to build tissues and relax the mind. It also soothes and nourishes the sense organs and gives the mind
compassion and satisfaction. An imbalance of the sweet taste creates attachment,
laziness, and heaviness. It also weakens the pancreas and causes thyroid
imbalances. Some common diseases due to excess sweet taste are diabetes, obesity
and low agni. According to Ayurveda, there are also six stages of digestion. The
first stage is the sweet stage, and it begins in the mouth with the digestion of
starches.
Action of Sour taste
Sour taste has heating virya and it helps to cleanse tissues, stimulates organs, and
increase absorption of minerals. An imbalance of sour taste increases anger, envy,
and passion. Some common diseases due to excess sour taste in the body are
infections, ulcers, thirst, and boils. Sour stage is second stage in digestion where
HCL is secreted making the food acidic. Digestion of proteins and fats begin in this
stage.
Action of Salty taste
Salty stage also has heating virya and this taste helps to improve taste, lubricates
the tissues, stimulates digestion, gives confidence, and builds enthusiasm. An
imbalance in salty taste creates greed, overambition and blood pressure. Some of
the common illnesses due to high salt in the body are kidney stones, swelling, skin
disease and hypertension. Salty stage is the third stage in digestion when food
enters the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. Acidic food is mixed with
alkaline secretions and bile resulting in salts.
Action of Pungent taste
Pungent stage has the most heating virya among all the taste and it stimulates
digestion and metabolism. An imbalance in this taste results in anger and boldness.
Some of the common illnesses because of the imbalance are dry cough, low
energy, and reproductive issues. Pungent taste is the fourth stage in digestion, and
it occurs in jejunum, the second part of the small intestine. The fire element present
in the taste increases the heat and circulation. Air element facilitates intestinal
peristalsis and creates gases.
Action of Bitter taste
Bitter taste has the most cooling virya. It detoxifies the tissues and stimulates
digestion. An imbalance of the taste can create dissatisfaction and loneliness.
Constipation is a common cause of bitter taste imbalance. Bitter stage is the fifth
stage of digestion when food enters ileum, final section of the small intestine. Air
element in the bitter taste creates peristalsis and there is rapid absorption of
nutrients.
Action of Astringent taste
Astringent taste has a cooling virya. This taste is responsible for drying the fat,
tightening the tissues, removing excess heat, and reducing sweating. An imbalance
in this taste causes insecurity and fear. Some common diseases caused by
imbalances of this taste are anemia, insomnia, gas, bloating, low blood pressure
and constipation. Astringent taste is the sixth and final stage of digestion where
ileocecal valve opens and food enters the cecum, the first section of the large
intestine. Absorption of minerals and liquids occur, and feces is formed by the
earth element in this stage.
Now that you understand how the six tastes play a vital role in the digestion
process, I hope you will remember to incorporate all six tastes in every meal

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