My journey of What's Possible living an Ayurvedic-Yogic lifestyle at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat has evolved into much more than a study of the physical body, but this week's blog will focus on the physical aspect.
Changes are definitely occurring - some small and some pretty substantial. Even my mom noticed that I was stronger and had little trouble opening jars in the preparations for holiday company this year. My hair is growing in thicker, my nails are healthier, my toes are slowly straightening out, my cracked skin is much healthier and sleeping patterns have changed dramatically (more details in future blog postings).
I have a pitta/vata constitution (prakruti), and I have a vata dominant current dosha imbalance (vikruti).
KP Khalsa is treating almost exclusively vata dosha (insomnia, fatigue, pain, constipation, dry skin, etc.)
Since I am here for the long term, and not in crisis, we can work methodically and consistently to get to root causes.
According to Ayurveda, the proper functioning of the digestive system is the key to preventing most diseases. The common phrase of 'you are what you eat' comes to mind, as our food is said to be the building block of our body at the cellular level.
The digestion of our food is important in order that the cell growth is comprised of good nutrients. Even the best food, undigested properly, can form toxins in the body and manifest over time in disease.
Digestive issues are often at the root of poor sleep as well.
The 25 feet of intestines is where much of the action takes place in digestion. Resourcing KP Khalsa's article on Superior Digestion, the food we eat must be transformed before we can use it inside our body.
While food and diet are important, just as critical is what comes out of us in the form of waste. If food doesn't get properly digested or the food waste cannot get out in a timely fashion, a proper diet won't matter much.
For people who eat healthy, unprocessed, whole food, the average transit time through our system is 30 hours. Yet, 18-24 hours transit time, according to Asian medicine is optimal. And 48 or more hours is pretty common place in our Westernized society.
Wondering what is the problem with the longer transit time? The end products of digestion stay in the colon, and the longer they remain, the more chance of decomposition into unhealthy compounds resulting in the development of gallstones and over time may be implicated in colon cancer.
Even the definition of constipation for the West is fewer than 3 bowel movements a week.
Being mammals, we are designed so that each meal elicits a bowel movement. Ayurveda and other natural medicine practitioners say that at least one waste elimination a day is needed for good health.
One of the big changes for me is daily, healthy elimination without coffee.
My diet is vegan, and 1/3 of my daily food intake is cooked root vegetables (mostly beets, carrots, sweet potatoes) - root vegetables are liver cleansing to support overall detox from many years past of inappropriate eating. I also eat soups and rice and oatmeal and fruit and many amazing creations by our chefs, such as lasagne and shepherd's pie - so delicious!
I also have one cup of hot water on an empty stomach to enkindle my agni - digestive system. I drink a mixture of cumin, coriander and fennel brewed tea in the morning to also aid in digestion.
No coffee or caffeinated beverages, no alcohol and limited amounts of sweets - mainly special occasion cakes.
What are the main Prescriptives I am taking?
Triphala - a blend of three fruits: alma, bibitaki and haritaki - they are sundries, made into powder and mixed together. It is good for all three constitutions and everyone can benefit from the herbal mixture. Besides being a general tonic, it is a light laxative, skin, eye, and liver nourisher, and a general detoxifier. a tonic for the blood, bones, liver, and heart. It enhances production of red blood cells and strengthens the teeth, hair, and nails, as well as improving eyesight and regulating blood sugar. It is one of the strongest rejuvenatives, and an extraordinarily rich source of vitamin C and bioflavonoids. (Caution: it tastes awful - will need to hold your nose:)
Castor Oil - The oil comes from the bean of the Evergreen Castor Plant. The bean is deadly poisonous, but the oil is not. Castor oil supports joint, muscle, connective tissue and skin health. It is used for wounds, trauma and minor pain. It is very effective for organ dysfunction such as an affected liver, menstrual pain, constipation or general abdominal discomfort. It is used in to reduce benign masses and swellings, including ovarian cysts, breast cysts, varicose veins, swollen lymph glands, enlarged liver or spleen, cracked heels and other traumatized tissue. (Caution: messy and sticky, but it does soak in after a little while. I take this internally, and I massage it into my skin daily. It is good for vata imbalance.)
Trikatu - This three part mix is composed of ginger root, black pepper, and long pepper (“pipali”), it is used as a mildly warming tonic for enhancing digestion and circulation. This is especially good to fire up the digestive system at meal times. (I like the taste of this - actually spices up food a bit)
Ashwaganda - This is a bitter, astringent, sweet and slightly warming herbal remedy. Ashwaganda is a superb remedy for nervous exhaustion and is considered grounding, while enhancing productivity and endurance. The herb positively impacts general debility, sexual debility, nerve exhaustion, problems of old age, loss of memory, loss of muscle energy, emaciation of children, insomnia, paralysis, multiple sclerosis, weak eyes, skin problems, rheumatism, cough, breathing difficulties, anemia, fatigue, glandular swelling, infertility - an all around boost to the system.
Shatavari - in the asparagus family, herb made from this root is sweet, bitter, cooling and works on all tissues. Shatavari is the main building tonic for women. This herb is used as an effective moisturizer for the membranes of the lungs, digestive tract, and, like other asparagus species, the kidneys and urinary tract. It is an effective rejuvenative to the female reproductive tract and the blood, and to build the body.
Vitamin D3 - essential for virtually every human body function - I am deficient, likely from the Midwest location and climate I lived all of my life
Kapi Kacchu - Rejuvenation and increase natural steroid hormones (the good kind) - good for energy, cognition
Magnesium Glycinate - Nerve support, sleep, anxiety Needed for 800+ reactions in human body. Most common nutrient deficiency in America (I take 2-3 of these every night)
I'm also drinking prescriptive tea and taking Chyavanprash jam daily. As KP Khalsa humorously stated, to me - in working with me, he's trying to move the Titanic:) With so many years of a fast paced lifestyle, a typical American diet of processed foods, plenty of sugary sweets, wine, margaritas and martinis - so many herbs and supplements are needed to rebuild my cellular health. I looked fine on the outside, but my foundation - inside - is a mess.
Though I'm looking forward to not having to take so many prescriptives eventually, I can tell you,
that they are working! AND There are no side effects - only better and better health:)
Sending You Love from the Bahamas,🌞
Thank you for taking this journey with me!
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