Ayurvedic Healing Methods – Meditation

Another Ayurvedic method of promoting healing and aligning mind and body is through meditation. Meditation helps realign the prakriti, or each individual’s unique combination of doshas, and restore proper health and bodily function. There are multiple forms of meditation in Vedic teachings. The specific form that is used depends on the individual’s prakriti and the particular mindstate that person is in. There are three states of mind an individual can have according to Vedic tradition: tamas, rajas, and sattva. Tamas is a state of inactivity and darkness that comes from ignorance (ignorance meaning a lack on not only life knowledge, but self knowledge). Rajas is the state of movement, motion, and energy. Sattva is the state of balance, alignment, and life and self intelligence. A basic form of meditation anyone can do consists of sitting on the floor on a folded towel or mat, crossing the legs and placing the open hands on your knees with your palms up and index fingers touching the tip of the thumbs. The back should be straight yet relaxed, and eyes closed. The area they sit in should be as quiet as possible and distractions should be eliminated. Take a slow, deep breath, then exhale. Focus on each breath and nothing else. Continue to take deep breaths slowly, then exhale. They may find they continue to have thoughts coming into their consciousness. Do not dwell on them. I understand it can be difficult not to entertain the constant thoughts that come from your subconscious. Do not worry about these. They will move on on their own. Focus only on each breath you take, one at a time. Do this each day for 5-10 minutes when you first begin your meditation, gradually lengthening the meditation to 30 minutes at a time. The most important thing is to stay consistent. Do a little bit each day and focus on each individual breath.

Meditation is not only beneficial from an Ayurvedic point of view. Western medicine has also shown that meditation has a beneficial effect on physical health. Evidence from a scientific study done by a major university in California showed lower levels of cortisol in the bloodstream and a drop in abdominal fat when meditation was practiced over a four month period versus no meditation whatsoever. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to increased levels of stress in the human body. Too much or too little cortisol over an extended period of time can negatively impact your health and lead to elevated blood pressure, increased body fat, sleep disruption, and blood sugar imbalances. In fact, I have a personal acquaintance who can attest to the power of mediation. She runs a window tinting and car wrap shop and she is the sole owner of her business. Her business is extremely busy because of the warm Texas weather most of the year. I spoke with her one time about her health and she told me she was constantly tired and was getting sick more often. She told me she was getting as much sleep as possible but she still constantly felt tired. I told her to try a week’s worth of meditation when she got home at the end of the day for about 10 minutes each day. Four or five days after that I spoke to her. She told me it really helped alleviate the stress she came home with and the constant train of thoughts that went through her mind during the day. She told me she was able to fall asleep more quickly and get better quality sleep. Over time the daily meditation helped her out immensely. She was able to eliminate her chronic fatigue, become more productive, and improve her decision making during the day.

Ayurvedic Healing Methods – Yoga

For the past month or so, i’ve experienced tightness in my lower back. This tightness is a result of my second job as a valet at a local hotel and indoor water park, where I worked during the spring and summer of this year. The main cause was the casual hi-tops I wore to work. Although they were all black as required by my job, they lacked the cushioning needed for the frequent back and forth running I did. Although I later began to do stretches before each shift, by the time summer ended I was experiencing lower back discomfort. This was the first time in my life I had encountered back tightness to that extent. Last week I was still experiencing discomfort in my back so for the first time in my life I tried a couple of basic yoga poses to provide some relief. I tried a hamstring stretch laying on my back, then something called the sphinx, then a two knee twist, and finally a stretch called the pigeon. These, along with a hot towel I placed at the sight of the tightness really provided my with some relief. I definitely noticed a difference in the way my back felt.

Yoga is one of the most popular and most enduring forms of exercise. It’s used to strengthen muscles, improve core strength, relieve stress, improve blood flow, eliminate toxins from the human body, and provide relief from acute pain and discomfort (as im my case). Yoga’s origins date back almost 6,000 years to the forth and fifth centuries BCE. Although yoga has a physical component to it and it highly beneficial to the physical body, yoga is actually a complete set of philosophies whose purpose is to unite the body, mind, and spirit. In fact, the word yoga come from the Sanskrit language meaning “to join” or “to unite”. To engage in yoga in the truest sense is to unite the mind with the Self. By Self, we refer to the body, its thought processes, its physical processes, and its spiritual being. Yoga is a holistic philosophy like Ayurveda is. The purpose of both is to achieve the highest level of balance one can achieve. Through this balance and optimization of mind, body, and spirit we can obtain true self knowledge and liberation from struggle and suffering, i.e salvation. We find our highest levels of self consciousness we can achieve. In other words, we achieve nirvana.

The conclusion can be made that neither ayurveda nor yoga cannot be done without the other. As I’ve covered before, Ayurveda is a Vedic philosophy that focuses on holistic physical healing though “pre-emptive” (eliminating detrimental relationships, diet, environment, stress reduction) and “after the fact” means such as panchakama in order to balance the doshas. Yoga is the process of “yoking” the body to the mind to achieve the highest self attainment and enlightenment possible. Yoga is also one of the methods used to promote healing and realign the doshas. The two therefore are best utilized together.