Ayurveda

AYURVEDA

“Let nature be your medicine and medicine be your nature”—Hippocrates

Ayurveda, literally translated, is the science of life. It is a consciousness-based approach to health. It is the most ancient health care system. It predates almost 5-6000 years. It is the mother of all medicine: Natural, Holistic, Integrative, Complementary, Alternative, and Traditional.

The underlying principle is that health is a state of vibrant BALANCE in which ALL the layers of one’s life are fully integrated and connected and balanced with Nature. Vedic literature says “Yatha Pinde tatha Brahmande”. It means what is going on within you is the same as what is going on in the universe. Simply put, We Are Nature.

Basic Tenets of Ayurveda

  • It respects the uniqueness of the individual; No cookie cutter approach
  • It considers ALL the levels of the individual (Physical Body ,Breath, Mind,  Intellect, and Consciousness)
  • It offers natural ways of treating dis-eases and promoting health
  • It emphasizes prevention
  • It empowers everyone to take responsibility for their own well-being
  • It is cost effective and IT WORKS.

Ayurveda works with the principles of nature to individualize diagnosis and treatment. One of the Ayurvedic tools are the DOSHAS which rely on the principles of the 5 natural elements. We as natural beings are made up of the same 5 elements in varying proportions:

  1. Space (Akasha)– The realm of pure potentiality
  2. Air (Vayu) – Movement, Flow
  3. Fire (Agni) – Transformation
  4. Water (Jala) – Protection
  5. Earth (Prithivi) – Structure

 DOSHAS  in Ayurveda are mind-body constitutions or mind-body types that reflect the varying elements within us which result in the expression of particular patterns of energy – unique blends of physical, emotional, & mental characteristics. We all have varying degrees of all the doshas but one will usually dominate at any given moment.  By identifying your Dosha, you can create a lifestyle that balances, sustains and nurtures your unique nature.

 Which Dosha are you?

 VATA – combination of space and air

Characteristics

  • Thin, light frame, Dry skin and hair, Cold hands and feet, Variable digestion and sleep patterns, Moves & talks quickly, Resists routine, Welcomes new experiences

When Balanced, Vatas are energetic, creative, adaptable, good communicators and spontaneous

When Imbalanced, they can be anxious with an overactive, unruly mind, have difficulty sleeping and have GI distress with constipation, Gas or bloating 

To Balance VATA, incorporate

  • Regular habits, balanced routine
  • Quiet time, meditation
  • Attention to fluids

PITTA – combination of fire and water

Characteristics:

  • Medium build, Strong digestion, Warm body temperature, Sleeps soundly for short periods, Sharp intellect (sometimes sharp tongue), Direct & precise, Stays close to routine, Courageous

When balanced, Pittas  are bright, warm, friendly, good decision makers, leaders and have a strong dgestiion

When imbalanced, they can be angry, irritable, extremely critical, judgmental, aggressive and suffer from skin rashes, inflammation and indigestion

To Balance PITTA, incorporate

  • Moderation
  • Coolness, calm
  • Attention to leisure
  • Exposure to natural beauty

KAPHA – Combination of water and earth

Chaacteristics:

  • Heavyset, Smooth skin, Thick hair, Deep, sound sleep, Slow moving, Easy going, Good stamina, Methodical, thoughtful nature, Enjoys routine

 When Balanced, Kaphas are steady, consistent, loyal. strong, supportive, content, calm

When Imbalanced, they can be dull, inert, needy, attached, congested, overweight, complacent, and overly protective

To Balace Kapha, incorporate

  • Stimulation
  • Regular exercise
  • Weight control

“Ayurveda Amritanam” – Ayurveda is for Immortality

Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research (SYTAR)

What a day here in Austin, Tx at SYTAR – the Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research with Drs. Lorenzo Cohen and Richard Miller.  I am so fortunate and grateful to be in the presence of these beautiful, brilliant and inspiring individuals.

The Keynote speaker was Dr. Lorenzo Cohen, PH.D. Dr. Cohen is a Professor and Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is a founding member and past president of the International Society for Integrative Oncology. He conducts large-scale NIH-funded clinical trials examining the bio-behavioral effects of integrative medicine practices aimed at reducing the negative aspects of cancer treatment and improving quality of life and clinical outcomes including studies of meditation, yoga, tai chi/qigong, and other strategies such as stress management, emotional writing, neurofeedback, and acupuncture.  He is interested in examining different types of complementary programs that can be easily incorporated into conventional treatment to decrease the side effects of cancer and cancer treatments and improve outcomes.

Dr. Cohen is also conducting research to demonstrate that lifestyle changes can influence cancer outcomes. Likewise, I believe that lifestyle changes can influence outcomes of cardiovascular disease, the #1 cause of morbidity and mortality in the US.

Richard C. Miller, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, researcher and yogic scholar. He is the founding president of the Integrative Restoration Institute (IRI), co-founder of The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) and founding editor of the professional Journal of Yoga Therapy. He is also a founding member and past president of the Institute for Spirituality and Psychology. He serves as a research consultant studying the iRest Yoga Nidra protocol that he has developed, researching its efficacy on health, healing and well-being with diverse populations including active duty military, veterans, college students, children, the homeless, with issues such as PTSD, sleep disorders, chemical dependency, chronic pain, traumatic brain injury and so much more. He encourages all of us to allow the life source within all of us to guide us in service.

 

Blue Zones Characteristics 7-9

The last three characteristics for living a long, healthy, happy life are so easy — surround yourselves with loving family and friends who share your same values.

NUMBER 7. RIGHT TRIBE.

The world’s longest-lived people are either born into or choose to create social circles that support healthy behaviors. Ikarians enjoy tight-knit communities that socialize frequently, while Okinawans build “moai” groups of five friends that commit to each other for life.

Research from the Framingham Studies shows that smoking, obesity, happiness and even loneliness are contagious. Assessing who you hang out with, and then proactively surrounding yourself with the right friends, will do more to add years to your life than just about anything else.

NUMBER 8. COMMUNITY.

All but five of the 263 centenarians interviewed in the original Blue Zones® areas studies belonged to some faith-based community. It doesn’t matter if you’re Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish or another religion or part of a yoga community. What matters is that you attend regularly and truly feel part of a larger group.

Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy. If you already belong to a group, great! If it’s been a while or you aren’t sure where to start, try asking friends and neighbors for their suggestions or search for additional information online.

NUMBER 9. LOVED ONES FIRST.

Happy, healthy centenarians in the Blue Zones® areas put their families first. This can take shape in many ways, from keeping your aging parents and grandparents in or near your home to being in a positive, committed relationship, which can add up to 6 years of life expectancy.

Caring for children is important for many reasons too, and many people in the Blue Zones areas go out of their way to invest time and love their children to ensure they’ll be more likely to care for them when the time comes.

Blue Zone Characteristics 4-6

The next three characteristics are easy to achieve. 

NUMBER 4. 80% RULE.

Marketers tell us we can eat our way to health, but America has been eating its way well beyond health. The 80% Rule is a strategy that focuses on taking things out of everyday diets, instead of putting more things in.Saying “Hara hachi bu,” the 2500-year old Confucian mantra, before meals, reminds Okinawans to stop eating when their stomach is 80% full. This 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it.

You can also replace your big tableware with 10″ plates and tall, skinny glasses, remove any TV’s from the kitchen, and remember that people in the Blue Zones areas eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then don’t eat any more the rest of the day.

NUMBER 5.   PLANT SLANT.

While most people in the Blue Zones areas only consume small amounts of meat on rare occasions, all of them eat a rich array of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are packed with disease-fighting nutrients. The cornerstone of most centenarian diets is beans, favorites including fava, black, soy and lentils.

You can eat meat if you want to, but try considering it as a condiment and make sure you buy the leanest, finest meat you can afford. Limit portions to the size of a deck of cards and don’t exceed serving it more than twice a week. This is consistent with the USDA’s MyPlate recommendations to make fruits, vegetables and grains the majority of your intake. You can also focus on eating nuts—a handful a day can give you an extra 2-3 years of life expectancy!

NUMBER 6. WINE AT FIVE.

Thanks to healthy plant compounds and antioxidants, wine has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and slow the progression of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

Limit your daily intake to one glass for women and two glasses for men. Try drinking while you eat a meal with friends to experience the full benefits of this Power 9® principle. Remember, however, that if you go overboard, the positive effects will be replaced with negative habits, so be mindful of your intake.

Blue Zone Characteristics 1-3

The people inhabiting Blue Zones share certain lifestyle characteristics that contribute to their longevity. Here are the first 3 of the “Power 9” and ideas on how we can develop the same characteristics.

NUMBER 1. MOVE NATURALLY.

The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. They live in places where they can walk to the store, to their friend’s house or places of worship. Their houses have stairs. They have gardens in their yards.

To start moving naturally, consider making things a little inconvenient. Take that extra trip up or down the stairs instead of loading things at the top or bottom to take up later. Walk to your airport gate instead of taking the moving walkway or park far from the entrance when you visit a store. Walk a dog, do your own yard and housework, and get rid of some of the timesaving electronics and power equipment that have “simplified” your life.

NUMBER 2.  KNOW YOUR PURPOSE

Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy. The Okinawans call it “ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida”—for both, it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.”

Begin investigating your own purpose, by creating an internal inventory of your life. Try to articulate your values, passions, gifts and talents. What are the things you like to do and the things you don’t? Then incorporate ways to put your skills into action in ways that will add meaning to your life and the lives of others.

NUMBER 3 . DOWNSHIFT.

Stress leads to chronic inflammation, which is associated with every major age-related disease. Although everyone experiences stress, the world’s longest-lived people have routines to shed that stress. Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap and Sardinians do happy hour.

You, too, can find a stress-relieving strategy that works for you and make it a routine. You’ll be able to benefit both physically and emotionally! I recommend Yoga!!