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WHAT IS AYURVEDA?


 DOSHAS (CONSTITUTIONS)

At the core of Ayurveda are the concepts of 5 elements and 3 Doshas. In Sanskrit, the word Dosha basically means “fault”. Basically Doshas are biological humours in the body which are noticed as an elemental imbalance when a person is in a state of dis-ease. Every person has their own unique combination of the 5 elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Space (known in science as: Solids, Gases, Heat/Light, Liquids and Ether). These elements tend to work together in the body, thus their combination in the 3 Doshas: Vata (air +space) {wind, movement}, Pitta (Fire + Water) {metabolism, digestion} and Kapha (Earth + Water) {lubrication, protection}. Each Dosha and element has ideal quantities, qualities and functions in each individual. This is known as Prakriti or a person’s constitutional balance.

When the Doshas are balanced according to a person’s Prakriti, there is boundless energy, joy and well-being. When there is an excess or deficiency of any Dosha or element, symptoms of dis-ease occur. This is known as Vikruti or our current imbalance. Once a person’s Prakriti, Vikruti, underlying causes, diet, lifestyle and history are evaluated and understood, Ayurveda provides a literal roadmap back to health. Properly balancing the Doshas helps eliminate dysfunction and enhances health.

Any imbalances of the three Doshas may affect our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. When Vata is out of balance; digestive disturbances, nervous disorders, anxiety and dryness of the skin, etc may manifest. When Pitta is out of balance; heartburn, psoriasis, burning conditions, inflamation, impatience, etc may manifest. When Kapha is out of balance; oedema, obesity, lethargy, bronchial infections, etc may manifest. In many conditions more than one Dosha is affected.

Ayurveda provides a model to look at each individual as a unique makeup of the three Doshas and to thereby design treatment protocols that specifically address a person’s health challenges. When any of the Doshas become imbalanced, Registered Advanced Ayurvedic Practitioner will suggest specific therapies, lifestyle and nutritional guidelines to assist the individual in regulating the Dosha(s). Herbal supplements may be suggested to facilitate the healing process. When one or more Dosha has become aggravated or excessive it often hinders the proper functioning of the other Doshas as well as physiological and mental processes. In such circumstances there is usually blockage in the gross and subtle channels of the body where Ama (toxins) tends to accumulate. In such cases Ayurvedic detoxification therapies (Pancha Karma) may be recommended.

Ideally, treatment sessions should begin with an Ayurvedic consultation from an experienced Registered Advanced Ayurvedic Practitioner (beware of imitations). This helps to determine which specific herbs, oils and therapies will be most appropriate for the client, according to which Doshas are predominant for the person at that time. However, most Ayurvedic therapies are beneficial regardless of any existing conditions and can be chosen according to an individual’s interest. Please inquire for more details.

SNEHANA (OLEATION THERAPIES)

Snehana, the first step of Purvakarma (preparatory procedures) in Ayurvedic Pancha Karma, saturates the body with organic herbal and aroma-therapeutic oils. The saturation takes two forms: Bahya Snehana or external oleation, where oils are massaged into the body by various means and Abhyantar Snehana or internal oleation, where herbal oils are ingested. Snehana uses two primary types of oleaginous substances: vegetable oils and clarified butter (ghee). The oils are used match the needs of the client.

The many different applications and procedures of Bahya Snehana or external oleation listed further employ specific forms of massage to apply the herbal oil to the skin. But they should not be confused with the typical massage techniques used in the West. This process uses a traditional style of Ayurvedic massage whereby ideally two (sometimes one), trained Ayurvedic Spa or Massage Technicians work on both sides of the client simultaneously, employing a series of synchronized directional strokes on the front, sides and back of the body.

There is great significance to the strokes used in Bahya Snehana, for they match the movements of Vata’s five different directional functions. Each function, called a Sub-Dosha has a prescribed Gati or motion in the body. The specifically designed, directional strokes soothe and nourish the Sub-Doshas and help them take their proper courses. The pressure of these strokes varies relative to the presence of Marma (vital) points. The Marmani serve as connecting points between the body’s physical substance and its underlying intelligence. Marma stimulation enlivens the harmonious coordination among Vata’s Sub-Doshas, which, in turn, orchestrate every function in the body. The pressure used during the massage is also geared to push generous amounts of warm, herbal oil into the pores of the skin. Although most people don’t often think of the skin as an organ of absorption, during this process the skin actually ingests or consumes a significant amount of oil.

Several types of oil may be used for massage depending upon the aggravated Dosha(s) of the client. Cold-pressed oils obtained from the seeds of organically grown plants are best since they do not contain chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers and have not undergone any damaging processing. Mineral oils and other substitutes for natural oils are harmful for the metabolic functions of the body. They form a coating or layer on the skin and the cells suffer because they cannot breathe freely. Most moisturizers actually increase dryness after prolonged use. They also most often contain chemical preservatives, emulsifiers and perfumes. If the right oils are used, nothing is more effective in nourishing all the tissue levels of the body. Adding essential oils and Ayurvedic herbs to the vegetable oils further potentates their benefits by guiding specific therapeutic actions.

The skin is an organ of assimilation. What you put on your skin either nourishes or restricts the metabolic function of the body. Nourishing substances promote healthy metabolism in the skin by giving the correct nutrients to the plasma, blood and muscle levels of the body (Rasa Dhatu, Rakta Dhatu and Mamsa Dhatu). Blockages happen when an inappropriate substance is put on the skin. Since any substance that is put on the skin is eventually absorbed into the plasma, blood and muscles, chemicals and other inorganic substances applied to the skin are also carried throughout the body by the blood and plasma and not confined to the skin alone. When these substances enter into the body the metabolism is disturbed to a degree depending on the substance and the frequency of application. The regular build-up of such substances forms toxic material, or Ama, in the body, the main causative factor in most diseases and disorders.

The symptoms may not be apparent immediately, but there is no question that many of the products people are using on their skin today is linked to the weakening of their immune systems, among other things. Immune function is weakened by fighting Ama and disposing of foreign substances, yet it is strengthened by the use of nourishing oils that expel Ama. Ayurveda states that you should only put things on your skin that you can put in your mouth.

Sesame oil is the primary vegetable oil used for external application. It is sweet, bitter and astringent in taste, warming in action and easily penetrates and nourishes the skin. It soothes and reduces the effects of excess Vata without aggravating Kapha and promotes stability and strength. In conditions where Pitta is predominant Sunflower is the oil of choice. Sesame, Sunflower and all other oils used in Snehana are fortified when prepared with herbal decoctions and essential oils to enhance their effectiveness for individual clients. Ghee (clarified butter) is used in therapies where the main objective is to absorb as much oil as possible. By itself, ghee has remarkable properties as a nutritive and medicinal substance. Ghee increases the strength of the digestive, tissue and cellular agnis (metabolic fires), while decreasing heat and inflammation due to excess Pitta, pacifies Vata without aggravating Kapha and softens and lubricates the tissues and joints. It also carries the therapeutic qualities of the other herbal substances without losing its capacity to increase digestive fire and promote secretions.

As in so many other aspects of Pancha karma, the herbal oils are selected with reference to the client’s Ayurvedic constitution. Each oil is decocted using the herbs and essential oils which Ayurvedic texts specify to balance each Dosha. Both the massage technique and the herbs allow the oil to penetrate deep into the tissues to loosen the grip of the Ama (toxins) lodged there. The Ama which has formed on the walls of the tissues and channels is also loosened. The channels are thus opened so that the toxins can be more easily removed from the tissues via the GI tract during massage. Though this is the main purpose of Snehana, it also makes the body supple, increases strength, reduces stress and nourishes the tissues. Snehana’s actual meaning implies kindness, tenderness and love, and true to its meaning, it is a thoroughly soothing and blissful experience.

MARMA CHIKITSA (VITAL POINT THERAPY)

Marma means secret, hidden. Marma points are physical structures that connect to other physiological structures. They are gateways of life. Those sites which are painful, severely tender or show abnormal tension should also be considered as Marma or vital points. Marma points are the extensions and crossroads of the Chakras (energy centers), Nadis (energy channels) and Srotas (physiological channels) and they are the meeting place of muscles, bones, tendons, arteries, veins and joints, life entirely resides in them. The Marma points access all vital organs. They can turn on or off Prana (life energy) flow. They can tap into energy flow and direct it, allowing us to make a greater connection with the greater powers of life and nature. This is an important tool for Pranic healing. Understanding the conditions of a Marma is an important tool to dislodge emotions and toxins that have built up over the years. Disease is reflected in pain, blockage or swelling in these areas even before it manifests as typical symptoms recognised in Allopathy and other health systems.

Marmani carry messages to organs, systems and cells. Every cell has its own intelligence, consciousness, memory and electric polarity. The electromagnetic field of the body is always acting and reacting with outside energies. There are 108 main Marma points in the human body which act as receivers and transmitters of these energies. Marma Chikitsa is an integral part of Ayurveda and it is closely related to the traditional martial art form of Kerala, known as Kalaripayattu.

Marmani are similar to the pressure points used in reflexology and acupressure. In fact, it is the system of Marmani that is the origin of these systems and acupuncture. Marmani are not directly related to the energetic acupressure meridians, but many acupressure points and meridians are the same as Marmani and Nadis. Like in acupuncture, the Marmani are measured by finger units (Anjali). They are an integral part of Ayurveda and they offer a direct means to treat the Nadis and the Prana within them. The three ancient texts that form the three pillars of Ayurveda: the Charaka Samhita, the Sushruta Samhita and the Ashtanga Hrdayam, all talk about Marma points. The text by Sushruta deals with them extensively as it is primarily concerned with surgery. Knowledge of the Marmani was mandatory for a surgeon, yet all Ayurvedic Practitioners knew of them and the threat to life that they hold should they be injured.

Marma Chikitsa pacifies all the Doshas, especially Vata, re-establishing the ideal channels of movement throughout the body. It helps remove blocks in energy channels, creating physical, mental and emotional flexibility. Because of Ama (toxins) and excess Vata, human beings after 35 or 40 years of age start to become rigid. As Vata increases in our body, we experience degeneration. This rigidity can mean becoming fixed in ideas, emotions and physical movements. An experienced practitioner can help relieve many chronic disorders by working with the vital Marma points located throughout the body.

Copyright 2017 Samya Ayurveda Inc.