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My Ayurvedic experiment focused upon making my hair thicker and healthier.
Background:
Shortly after giving birth to my daughter I started to notice hair loss and even developed bald spots on both sides of my forehead. Previous to this course, I had tried taking vitamins that promote hair growth in addition to shampoos recommended by my hairstylist, but neither seemed to work for me. The suggestions for the design of this experiment were taken from the Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies by Vasant Lad.
According to the Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, hair (along with nails) is considered to be a byproduct of bone formation. Even though I was aware that the hair loss occurred because of the hormonal changes from giving birth, I read that proper bone nutrition is necessary for healthy growth of hair. For example, if I don’t completely absorb both calcium and magnesium, not only will my bones themselves be adversely affected, but my hair may become brittle, develop split ends, break easily, and even begin to fall out.

My Experiment:
My experimental timeline was 4 weeks, during which time I focused on two main areas: diet/supplements and massaging hair oils.
First, it was immediately obvious that eating a properly nutritious diet would be vital. Adding more calcium in the form of dairy foods such as cheeses, milk, and freshly prepared yogurt is beneficial for bones and hair. Additionally, I bolstered this diet with a daily mineral supplement containing calcium, magnesium, zinc, among other minerals.
Second, I focused on two specific massaging oils for my hair. According to the Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, rubbing a little oil on your scalp each night can be beneficial for your hair. This part of the experiment was run with two types of oil, Bbringaraj oil and Amla oil, graciously provided by one of my mentors, Ms. Susan. Before going to bed each night, I took extra time to oil and massage my scalp. At first, I had to overcome the strange odor and fear of making an oily mess on my pillows. The application was focused on my forehead scalp and then gently massaged gradually to the back of my scalp for 10­15 minutes. Next, to stimulate the scalp, I brushed my hair continuously for 5­10 minutes. The brushing benefits are twofold: it helps improve the blood circulation at the root of the hair which makes the hair healthier as the necessary minerals are delivered to the hair through the bloodstream. Brushing also helps the oils absorb deeper into the scalp.
As early as the third night, I started to notice a tingling sensation on my scalp during my massaging which led me to believe that the process was working! Previously, I would shower daily, but in order to allow this experiment to work properly I decided it was necessary to skip a day or two giving my scalp a chance to absorb these essential oils more thoroughly.

Sometimes it just takes one small change to trigger a series of healthy transitions.

This is something Axis Yoga Teacher Training students have the chance to experience first-hand. The following student committed to adding a short Yoga practice to the morning routine and soon experienced the desire to make other healthy changes. This all resulted in better awareness of what the body needs and a commitment to continue making positive changes. Axis YTT students prove over and over again, every journey really does start with one small step!

I have a tendency to aim higher than I can jump, so for my Ayurvedic experiment I decided to keep it simple. My goal: To do just ten sun salutations, the eight Kriyas, and some meditation every morning. This turned into other things as well – drinking water with lemon every morning, as well as meditating before bedtime and avoiding screen time in the hours of the evening. The hope: that my energy throughout the day would be more focused and that I would be able to use some of that energy to keep my life more organized.
I have always loved mornings, so setting aside time for me first thing in the morning has been lovely. I rearranged my room so that I have a place – a very small place, but still – to do my yoga and meditation, and, as a result my room stays more organized. My energy throughout the day is much more stable – part of that may also be due to the fact that I don’t usually feel like I need to drink coffee after my morning practice, so my caffeine intake has dropped severely. This doesn’t mean that at first I didn’t want to just keep drinking coffee anyways – but that I noticed I didn’t want it as much, and then made an active decision to stop consuming it. The same goes for alcohol – not that I was much of a drinker anyways, but it has come to my attention that even drinking on the weekends once in a while (which so much of our culture finds totally acceptable) is detrimental to the rest of your week.

Something else I noticed about having my own personal practice was that I felt more of the ‘side-effects’ of yoga than I do when simply attending classes. Although I attend some of the same classes week after week, they are never at the same time every day, and they usually don’t start until around nine in the morning. Not to mention the task of getting ready to leave the house- getting up and having my asana space there and ready made ‘getting to yoga class’ incredibly easy! Once I got into the rhythm of practicing every morning that is.
I will admit that at first I had trouble with that rhythm! And tried to rationalize myself OUT of doing my practice – well, I’ll go to class at nine anyways, or, I’ll just do it tonight after the gym, that counts, right? But after I started noticing how much more aware I was during the day, and how stable my energy was afterwards I wanted to practice more. And more and more things begin to grow out of this one little change – I wanted to stay away from TV before bedtime, I wanted to be outside more during the day, I started walking to the grocery store (which is so close to me I can’t believe I wasn’t walking there before) just to be out in the sunshine in the morning. I have always tried to be aware of my hydration, but through this practice I begin to drink a big glass of room temperature water with lemon in the morning, and to stay away from icy cold water during the rest of the day.

The skin care industry makes millions each year touting the latest and greatest in skin remedy products. While some of them may very well make a difference, we also have the power simply in our own self-care to solve many of the issues these products are meant to treat. The posts below illustrate how one Axis Yoga Teacher Training student managed to treat seasonal skin issues through dosha-specific diet and lifestyle changes. The Axis YTT students complete an Ayurvedic experiment as part of the in-depth and hands-on approach taken by Axis’ teachers.

If I practice dry brushing (pre shower) and utilize medicated oil massage (post shower), I will be able to mitigate the uncomfortable symptoms of a seasonal pitta rash.

Materials used:

  • Bamboo dry brush with semi-soft bristles
  • Coconut Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Lavender Essential Oil

 

**Note: All oils used in this experiment were organic in order to avoid any chemical residues**

For a period of 21 consecutive days, dry brushing and medicated oil massage were practiced to help minimize the effects of a seasonal pitta rash. Dry brushing techniques were utilized by brushing toward the heart in order to stimulate the lymphatic system, provide light exfoliation to the skin, and aid in excreting toxins. This practice was done on the entire body, not just the affected areas. Immediately following the dry brushing a shower was taken using warm (not hot) water and a mild cleansing soap for sensitive skin. I do not use any shampoos or conditioners that contain harmful phalates, parabens, or sulfate/sulfites because they irritate my skin. After the shower, 3 -4 drops of lavender essential oil was added to a tablespoon of coconut or sesame oil, applied to each limb, and massaged gently for a few minutes. In the first half of the experiment coconut oil was used (10 days). In the second half of the experiment sesame oil was used (11days).

It seems there are many factors influencing the frequency and severity of this seasonal pitta rash. I have been able to control/mitigate it using newly found techniques and knowledge; therefor my results support the original hypothesis. However, throughout the duration of this experiment I tried to focus on eating properly, drinking detox CCF tea, and minimizing the consumption of alcohol. There were a few instances during the experiment where a combination of stress, eating too much meat/gluten containing products, and drinking a few too many glasses of wine or beer caused inflammation of the rash. I know now that this seasonal rash is very influenced by what goes into my body, not just on it. I’ve always presumed this to be true and this experiment has confirmed this to be true. Going forward, I will practice a self-care routine that fits my doshic constitution and addresses any imbalances I may be having at that specific time.

Achieving more happiness through gratitude is a well-documented concept these days. But that doesn’t make it any less worthy of an experiment. In fact, what an improvement to the world it would be if we all experimented with more gratitude in our daily routine. That is what this Axis Yoga Teacher Training student did for the Ayurveda portion of the course. Each student experiments with a chosen Ayurvedic concept to see how it effects their daily lives. While the results may not be surprising, they are certainly exemplary.

 

Observation: I have a tendency to rush, taking moments, meals and other aspects of my days for granted, which leaves me feeling stressed, impatient and out of balance.

Hypothesis: Beginning my day with a gratitude practice and weaving gratitude into my daily routine (with mindful eating and a bedtime gratitude practice), would help me slow down, appreciate what I have, and process experiences (including meals) in a more balanced way.