Hi friends! As you know, currently on every TV channels, WhatsApp, Facebook, newspapers, in discussions with friends and relatives, only hot topic is coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic… So many patients detected today, his relative got positive, the boy in our lane got positive, all such chats are going on over the phone. And there is a fear in the mind that we shouldn’t get it. Many immunity-enhancing drugs are being used for this purpose. People think that taking these drugs means you are healthy is a mindset. But it is important to understand exactly what it means to be healthy. Ayurveda describes daily routines and seasonal routines to stay healthy. In one of the previous blogs by my colleagues, we have discussed seasonal routine in rainy season. Now let us see what is described as a daily routine in Ayurveda.
This article is written by Dr. Supriya Bandagar. She is an Ayurvedic physician, and Director of Shree Dattaguru Ayurved Chikitsalaya, Warje Pune. Dr. Supriya has more than 8 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyle, treating patients with chronic diseases and metabolic disorders such as cardiac diseases, diabetes, hypothyroidism etc. She is specialises in gynaecological and obstetric problems in women, and skin diseases. She envisions promoting holistic lifestyle with Ayurveda.
A daily routine is a daily diet and healthy behavior. Now, what is the purpose of Ayurveda mentioning the daily routine? Well, in order to get rid of the disorders that have arisen and to prevent the disorders that have not occurred, we have to change our daily routine and eat accordingly.
Brahme muhurte uttishtet, swastho rakshartham ayushah!Ashtang Hridaya Sutra 2
In Ayurveda, it is said that we should arise by the Brahma Muhurt. What is the meaning of Brahma Muhurt? Brahma Muhurt is one and a half hour before sunrise, which is around 5 o’clock. Why would it be better to awake one and half hour before sunrise? Because, this is the period of Vaat dosha dominance. So you don’t have to make a separate effort to speed up bowel movements during this period. Hence it is necessary to get up early in the morning, that is, at the time of Brahma Muhurta to become ventilated to defecate.
We saw the connection between rising at the Bramha Muhurta and the cleansing of stomach. But what is the connection between clean stomach and health? If the stomach is not cleansed properly, then the stomach becomes heavy, we become lethargic, complaints of gas and indigestion increase, and depression also increases. As a result, your efficiency decreases. Improper bowel movements can lead to poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, and so on. See how important it is to clean the stomach, that is, how important it is to get up at the Brahma Muhurta. The atmosphere is also pleasant during this period. Sattva Guna is more. Therefore, along with the body, the mind also has an pleasing effect of Brahma Muhurta. The mind is pleased. It helps to stabilize the mind and body.
We will now discuss the set of activities to be followed everyday. Followed in a sequence, these are helpful in maintaining the balance of Doshas in the body, preventing illnesses and attaining the maximum health.
Dant dhavan means cleaning your teeth. Why is cleaning your teeth so important? When we eat food, it is bitten by the teeth, mixed with saliva and then swallowed. Isn’t the teeth helping your body digest the food and get the energy that your body requires? So isn’t dental hygiene important? Teeth and gums should be cleaned regularly. Ayurveda has recommended the using powders with sour taste for brushing teeth. Soft stems of Rui, Wad, Khair, Karanj, Arjuna etc can be used to clean the teeth.
After going to the hospital, the doctor asks the patient to open his mouth to see the tongue. What is the reason for doing so? Your mouth is mirror of your digestive system. If your digestive system is not functioning well, then there will be visible white patch/ layer on your tongue along with bad breath & tooth decay. Brushing teeth and tongue cleaning plays vital role in improving power of digestive fire.
Panchendriya Shuddhi (Cleansing Five Sensory Organs)
There are some techniques mentioned in Aurveda for protecting our 5 sensory organs (Eyes, Ears, Nose, Tongue, Skin ) are Nasya, Gandush, Dhumpana, Tambulsevan, Anjana, Abyanga.
After brushing teeth one should do Anjan vidhi. Anjana means administering or applying medicine in eyes. As our eyes are associated with fire element (Agneya Tatva), we should protect them from Kapha Dosha. We can apply honey or caster oil as anjan to the lower eyelid.
One should do nasya after anjan vidhi. There are 2 different types of nasya- Marsha & Pratimarsha. Main difference between them is of dosage. Marsha Nasya requires High dose (10 drops) whereas Pratimarsha Nasya requires less dose (1-2 drops). Pratimarsha nasya is suitable to do on daily basis. We can put 1-2 warm drops of Anu Taila or Sesame Oil or Goghrit (cow ghee) into both nostrils.
Regular application of nasya cleanses the sinuses, Cures the defects of organs of Head and Neck. It clears the eye sight, Soothes a cough and recurring common cold (Pratishyaya). Nasya is also beneficial in treating DNS (Deviated Nasal Septum). So, now do you see why Nasya is important… but please remember one thing, Nasya should not be done at night, or in the rainy season.
Gandush (oil pulling)
Gandush means holding the medicated liquids such as kadha, a ball of medicines, or oil in the mouth for some time and gargling. We saw how useful Anjan and Nasya are, now let’s talk about gandush. Sometimes, because of the medicines administered through the nose, we might feel like the Kaph in the mouth. Gandush helps to throw this Kapha out. It also strengthens teeth and gums. It also makes our cheek muscles work, in turn giving shine to our face.
So how do you do Gandush? Take kadha of Triphala (ayurvedic medicinal combination with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effects) or Indian barberry (daruhaldi), or sesame oil. Fill the mouth/oral cavity completely with these liquids, hold for about 3-5 minutes, and then remove it from mouth.
Dhumapan involves burning the medicinal plants, inhaling the smoke through nose or mouth and releasing through mouth. This can be done at home as well. Medicinal herbs with antibacterial properties, turmeric, Indian barberry (daruhaldi), Indian bdellium-tree (Guggul), sweet flag (Vacha), bay leaf (tamal), ginger, garlic etc. should be used.
This helps in removing the remaining doshas from the body. similarly it also reduces the pathogens from home. This smoke also protects us when we go outside after inhaling it. This way, the medicinal smoking is very important for us.
Tambul sevan (chewing betel leaf)
Tambul means chewing betel leaf along with other medications. So what are the ingredients of Tambul? It includes cardamom, gold foil,clove, coconut, betel nut, catechu (kattha) etc wrapped in a betel leaf (piper betel). And why should it be taken? Well, chewing this Improves the digestion of food that we have eaten. It also reduces excess Kapha dosha; and removes any remaining doshas even after administration of medicines through nasya, gandush or anjan etc. Thus it surely helps us in living a healthy life.
Abhyang means massaging the body and head with warm oil. We have heard about abhyang only during Diwali. But Ayurveda describes abhyang every day. If our legs are paining, or head is hurting, we massage them with oil. What does oil do here? It alleviates the increased Vaat dosha, and thereby reduce pain and exertion.
Regular abhyang improves vision, increases energy, strengthens hair and induces sound sleep. Aurvada has taken care of our skin as well. With regular abhyang, our skin becomes shiny and healthy.
Karna puran is administering drops of medicated oil in both ears. It alleviates increased Vaat dosha and improves the listening power. It also increases our productivity.
So friends, Ayurveda has taken care of our all five senses in this manner, and has helped us to stabilise their activity. That is why, anjan, nasya, gandush, dhumapan, tambul and abhyang are important.
Exercise is recommended after Abhyang in Ayurveda. But at present, people exercise by counting calories, and as per their time. However each person is different in physique, different age, has dominance of different doshas. Then is it correct to exercise as per the numbers? In Ayurveda, there is a description of how much exercise should be done. It is called as ‘Ardhashakti vyayam’-literally meaning exercise upto half of our power. Now what is ardhashakti? How do we know that we have done ardhashakti vyayam? So, when we start sweating during the exercise, we should understand that we have done ardhashakti exercise. This differs in each person. But exercise is restricted in old age, smaller children, and in indigestion.
Exercise makes our body light, strong and toned; increases appetite, energy; and reduces excessive body fat. In short, the person who exercises regularly looks distinctively among others- by body, mind as well as confidence.
Udvartan (herbal massage)
Udvaryana means rubbing herbal paste or powder on the body and massaging the body. After exercise, we tend to sweat and there is a different body odour. To remove this smell and reduce excess Kapha and fats, Udvartan is suggested. Udvartan reduces sweating, and increases the skin smoothness and glow. For this we can use coarse powders of scented herbs such as sandalwood, Hogweed (Punarnava), Triphala, White turmeric (Amba haldi), etc can be used.
After udvartan, we should take bath over the shoulder with warm water. This removes impurities, fatigue, exertion, sweat, thirst, and burning sensation in the body. What else happens after we bathe? Well, our mind feels fresh… our digestive fire gets ignited, facial glow increases.
Always remember, since our digestive fire (agni) ignites the digestive power increases. Therefore we should always eat after bath, and should not take bath after meal.
Ahar should be taken after the digestive fire is ignited by bath, and all the rules of ahar procedure. Person should eat only when the previous meal has digested, and you are feeling completely hungry. Eating healthy meals, in regular quantity and good digestive fire is very important.
Why should we eat only when hungry? We eat even when there’s no appetite, when we go to any party, or at any time when we are in the office. What difference does it make? Let’s see… when we put ghee or oil in any wood fire when the flames are high, that increases the power of fire and the food is cooked properly. If we put ghee when there are no proper flames, and smoke is coming, then whatever fire is there will also decrease and there will not be proper cooking. Very similarly, when we eat with full appetite and ignited digestive fire, the digestion of consumed food would be easier.
Another simple example is when your office timing is over and the boss asks us to work for extra time, what happens to you? How actively can you complete that work? In the same way, if you eat when the eatimg time or appetite has passed, the digestion will take longer time, and there will be imbalance of Pitta dosha. Therefore you should always eat when hungry, and at the regular time. Usually you should eat in the time of Pitta dosha- that is morning 9-11 AM and evening up to 7 PM.
In this way, ayurveda describes dincharya or daily routine for us. When our health is ensured, the immunity will be definitely ensured, and we will be undeniably successful in the fight against Covid19.
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Ms. Rashmi Kadam, Ms. Vishakha Mane and Dr. Kavita Khilare for their contribution in this post.
(Image source: Pixabay, Google images)