Tag Archive for: Ayurvedic

My Ayurvedic experiment focused upon making my hair thicker and healthier.
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.

The Pancha Karma is a very regimented cleanse.  The first several days were spent eating to my dosha, which in my case meant eating a pitta pacifying diet.  Just coming off the heat of the summer, I felt like this was probably a good thing to tone down a bit.  Along with this, the following rules to keep the diet clean were given, saying no to: sugar, gluten, dairy, meat, and any processed foods (including anything in a package or can).  That alone was pretty difficult for me, not to mention that I really enjoy my morning coffee ritual.  As if this wasn’t already difficult, considering which grains, vegetables, and fruits were ok within the restrictive diet added a whole other element.

After the restricted pitta diet other practices came in such as the intake of ghee, self massage, sweating, and eating kitchari.  Every morning for 5 days the day started with a shot of warmed ghee.  This was so hard to choke down, and even harder to burp up throughout the day.  Learning that I should do asanas before I took the ghee helped me to feel a little better through the day, I learned this for the last couple of days and it would’ve been really helpful to know right away just to keep feelings of being sick down a bit and motivation up a bit.  The self massage was a beautiful way to nurture myself and give some love back to the body.  The sweating was difficult with the ghee trying to make its way back up.  The kitchari, ahhhh the kitchari, sometimes it tasted good but mainly I was so tired of eating it that I don’t think I was getting close to the amount of necessary calories.

Many, if not most, of the students who complete the Axis Yoga Teacher Training program will describe how Yoga has enriched their lives. Often times in ways that were completely unexpected. This student’s story of performing panchkarma for the program’s Ayurvedic experiment is another example of attaining gifts other than those sought.

Students in the Axis Yoga Teacher Training program have the fortunate ability to experiment with Ayurvedic principles in their daily lives. Each student writes a short paper describing their experience. The following account shows the insights that were gained by one of these students.

For my second experiment I was originally going to try three life changes. I was going to give up processed sugar, adjust my sleeping patterns and do a daily oiling routine. Quickly I realized that changing my sleeping schedule was not going to fit into my current life situation so I had to remove this part of the experiment.

I decided to give up processed sugar because I have somewhat of an addiction to sugar and feel that removing process sugar will allow me to gain more freedom in my eating habits. I feel that breaking this habit will allow me to eat healthier and more conscientiously. Furthermore, I believe that removing sugar will allow me to have a more stable and balanced energy throughout the day. I have decided to oil my body after I shower because I believe it will help me feel more calm and relaxed before I go to bed at night. I also believe that this practice will be rejuvenating by bringing moisture to my often dry  skin especially my cracked feet.

Oiling produced many of the results I had expected.   Taking the time to oil my body allowed me to become more relaxed and present in my body.   I often had a feeling of gratitude for the amazing tool we have been given during the process of oiling.  The sesame/sunflower oil I used was infused with lavender, chamomile and sage which brought an even deeper state of relaxation to my being.  The oil also brought warmth to my body which was welcome on these colder nights.  My skin felt less dry in general and my feet which were especially cracked became rejuvenated.   There were a couple evenings when I was stressed out and didn’t want to deal with the extra task of oiling. Looking back on this I find it quite ridiculous that I operated like this, as I had already experienced the benefits of this previously. Maybe I subconsciously wanted to be miserable?

Anyone who knows anything about Ayurveda can take one look at me and guess that I am kapha. I have the dark curly hair, curvy body, softer than soft skin, and a soothing voice. All of this is obvious. As I read and learned more about the kapha dosha it became more and more apparent how much of my composition is taken up by this abundant dosha. Slow moving, check. Satisfied doing nothing, check. Prone to depression, check. Full of compassion, smothering, great memory, codependent, clings to emotions, radiates love, full of mucus, overweight, easily chilled. Check, check, check! The good and the bad, I have got them all.

At moments I am representative of kapha in balance. Unfortunately, I often exude many of the characteristics of kapha out of balance. My experiment was to challenge myself to treat my kapha well by reducing it and not allowing it to overflow in its abundance. I started with the observation that I am kapha dominant. I then formulated the hypothesis that my general well being would improve by reducing kapha in my life. To reduce kapha I decided to wake up earlier, get more vigorous exercise, keep myself warm by using sauna and limiting cool drinks, and eliminating sugar. My experiment was ten days total. I happened to be sort of sick for the first 8 days of the experiment. This caused me to be a little more lax than I would have liked to be. Maybe it was the illness, or it could have just been my kapha nature to resist the challenge of change. Either way, I learned a lot from my life style modifications even if they were less drastic than I had originally intended.

While kapha is the majority of my constitution, I am also easily vata aggravated. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder at age 14, a typical vata ailment. I am very sensitive in every possible way, including having a sensitive nervous system and subtle body. So part of my challenge is to reduce my kapha while also taking care of my vata. My vata has been very out of balance in the past few months for obvious reasons. I am busy, plain and simple busy. This leaves me with the obligation of getting active to reduce my kapha, but to also do less to take care of my vata.

Sleep is one area that I am not a typical kapha. I do usually sleep hard and well, but I am not a marathon sleeper who can sleep the whole day away. I typically go to sleep by 11 and wake up without difficulty by 730. I thought that reducing my sleep could still be useful. Day one of the experiment I woke up at 6:15 AM, a full two hours before I really needed to be awake. I woke up early just fine, but then was a typical kapha. In those two hours I did not accomplish much of anything. I took my sweet time with my morning cleansing and breakfast. I crawled back into bed at least three more times. Never with the intention or want to go back to sleep, it just felt good to lay there. I thoroughly enjoyed the extra time in the morning and loved my new sense of awareness of my tendency to want to chill out and do nothing. More than anything it made me smile to myself. That first day I was painfully tired by 10AM. I recognized that I pushed myself a little too far by waking up a full 2 hours before I needed to. The remainder of the experiment I woke up between 6:45 and 7:30. There were a couple of days that I really struggled to pull myself out of bed, but I never got tired throughout the day again.

The main thing that I did accomplish in those two hours was practicing my sadhana. Up until this experiment I had only been practicing in the evening. Switching to the morning has revolutionized my personal practice. When I was doing it in the evening it felt much more like a chore than something that I was doing for myself. It added to the list of things that I needed to do, it added to my vata anxiety.  I have started doing sadhana that is good for vata. I am doing a lot of belly breathing and bee humming breath followed by So Hum meditation. Throughout the entire experiment I made time for at least a short sadhana practice. My anxiety has been greatly relieved in the past two weeks. This could be for a variety of reasons but one factor is definitely waking up early. Waking up early has allowed me to integrate sadhana into my life in a much more meaningful way.  Waking up early also ensures that I have time every day to do the cleansing practices of neti and tongue scraping. Both of which are very helpful for my mucous friendly kapha body. Extra time in the morning also allows me to check a few things off of my to do list, which is tremendous for reducing my anxiety. For example, I usually think about and maybe prepare my breakfast and lunch at night. Now I stop myself the second I start to think about the next day’s food because I know I will have time to be more present while preparing food the next morning. I get home from work around 8 pm so even small tasks like thinking about breakfast or sadhana become overwhelming with so little time before I need to go to bed. I have recognized for years that my energy is drastically different in the morning than it is in the evening. In the early morning I am more productive, optimistic, impulsive, emotive, and creative. In the evening I tend to be duller. This correlates with the doshic times of day and makes sense that I am better served to leave simple tasks to the morning rather than overwhelming myself in the evening.