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Know Your Prakriti: Are You Vata, Pitta or Kapha?

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Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that refers to the 'science of life and longevity'. Ayurveda adopts a holistic approach towards healthy living and is considered to be one of the oldest medicinal systems in the world. Though native to India, this philosophy has gained popularity all around the world. The base of Ayurvedic philosophy is to balance the body, mind and spirit. Both prevention and healing are carried out through natural means.

According to Ayurveda, each person is born with a life force that comprises the five elements or building blocks of nature: Earth, Air, Water, Fire and Space. We possess a unique balance of these five elements in varying degrees. This balance of elements is known as a Dosha. There are three fundamental doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and good health is considered to be a perfect state of balance between these three doshas.

Vata is constituted by space and air, which is the energy of movement; fire and water constitute pitta, the principle of digestion and metabolism; and water and earth make up kapha, the dosha of structure and lubrication. Unhealthy diet, stress, repressed emotions and insufficient exercise are considered to be elements that disturb ones’ doshic balance. Hence, to maintain the balance and good health, a person has to juggle with the three doshas, and increase or decrease them, as conditions demand. In simple words, health means order and balance, whereas disease is disorder and imbalance. Everyone has all the three doshas, but one of them is usually primary, the other secondary and the third one is the least prominent.

The Three Doshas: An Overview

1. Vata: Vata is considered as the leader of the three Ayurvedic principles in the body. As the principle of mobility, Vata regulates all activity in the body, mental as well as physiological. It is responsible for breathing, blinking our eyes, beating of our heart and many more functions. When in balance, the Vata is lively and energetic. Adequate rest and relaxation is needed to keep the vata in balance. Dry skin, cough and dry hair are some problems that one may face when the vata is imbalanced.

2. Pitta: Pitta is the fire element. It is responsible for regulating the body temperature through the chemical transformation of food (governing digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition and metabolism), promoting vitality and appetite. Those dominated by the pitta dosha are strong willed, determined and tend to have leadership qualities. If the pitta is imbalanced, it can lead to anger and agitation, and may even cause burning disorders such as ulcers and inflammation. To maintain a balance, meditation, massages and inhaling cooling scents such as rose, mint and lavender can help relax the body.

3. Kapha: This dosha maintains body resistance. Those dominated by kapha are said to be thoughtful, calm and steady. To maintain a balance, gentle exercises, stimulating activities and an extra intake of fluids can keep the energy flowing. Kapha is primarily responsible for anabolism, the process of building the body, growth and creation of new cells as well as cell repair.

What determines your dosha?

Ayurveda Specialist, Dr. Surya Bhagwati from Dr. Vaidya's explains, “The human body is made up of 5 elements -air, ether, earth, water and fire. A combination of these five elements determines one’s 'prakriti' or constitution. Ayurveda defines the combination of these five elements into three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. Although each human body is composed of all the three doshas, each body has a different combination of them and this determines one’s genetically inherited physical and personality traits. Through one’s life, these constitutions may change based on physical, mental and emotional. conditions. It is important to identify one’s dosha and then create a lifestyle that suits it. This means adopting a diet and daily routine based on one’s dosha."

Ayurveda divides the different body types into seven categories. Hence, it is possible for a person to be: vata, pitta, kapha, vata-pitta, pitta-kapha, vata-kapha, or tri-dosha. However, there is no ‘best’ or ‘perfect’ body type or dosha. Each of the categories have their own advantages and disadvantages.

What to Eat for Your Dosha An imbalance of doshas in the body can be checked with the help of herbal remedies, warm oil massages, yoga, and your diet. To balance each dosha, certain foods need to be consumed while some need to be avoided.

Balancing Kapha: One of the major reasons for kapha imbalance is excessive food consumption, and therefore, a light, low-fat diet of bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes is recommended. This can include steamed or raw vegetables, ripe fruits, grains like oats, rye, barley and millets, honey and strong spices like pepper, cardamom, cloves, mustard and turmeric. According to Ayurveda expert, Dr. Dhanvantri Tyagi, "Kapha prakriti should avoid fats, milk and rice in their daily diet but can consume them occasionally."

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An Ayurvedic Treatment For Cancer in The Pipeline?

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After creating ripples in the country and abroad for it’s home-based and natural cures, Ayurveda may soon be eying the territory which has had doctors and scientist abroad worked up since decades- Cancer. So says, the Union Minister of State AYUSH Shripad Yesso Naik

The ancient medicinal practice of Ayurveda has taken the global circuit by storm with its cure to various skin and health ailments. And Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), is tirelessly working to revive the glory and reinstating people’s faith in the ancient practice, which according to them has the cure to the severest of ailments.
Recently, Naik hinted about the ongoing research in Auyrveda , which may bring about the cure to cancer in the recent future. This comes soon after his earlier statement on a yoga-based cure to diabetes and cancer.

Naik said, that they have reached a stage where just like chemotherapy, they can treat cancer but the treatment would be without the side effects of chemotherapy. Naik said, beaming in confidence that research is on along with American scientists to find a cure for cancer. On completion of the research, in the appropriate way, they will find and prepare the medicine for major diseases and a cure for cancer will come.

Earlier last year, the Minister had stated that Yoga-based cure for diseases such as diabetes and cancer developed by Bengaluru-based Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana was on the pipeline.

Praising the natural healing properties and treatment of Ayurveda, Naik also said that the Ministry had set itself a target to establish an AYUSH center in every district to promote the ancient medicinal practice of India.

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Ayurvedic Tips To Gain Weight

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Are you tired of hearing the latest pitch on how to lose weight, when all you want to do is to just gain some kilos instead?

Unfortunately, this is the truth; there is way too much information on how to lose weight but barely anything on how to gain weight, especially in a healthy and balanced way. But the good news is that you can turn to Ayurveda for some solutions to put on weight the right way and the best part is that it determines your optimal weight not by the number on the weighing scale but by your body constitution- kapha, vata and pitta. Here are few important strategies that may help you gain weight in a way that it does not hamper your overall health. The Ayurvedic approach is healthy, simple and holistic along with being effective.According to Ayurvedacharya Dr. Partap Chauhan, Director, Jiva Ayurveda, "A person should always maintain healthy weight - not too much and not too less. Ayurveda recommends 'balance' or an 'optimum state' in everything, including your body weight. That said, if you are recuperating from an illness or you are very thin and you want to gain weight, do it gradually and naturally. Do not rely on weight-gain supplements which may cause liver and kidney problems. A healthy person, with appropriate weight for his or her age and height is more likely to have good immunity and lead a happy life."

As per Ayurveda, people with Vata dominant physiology are typically thin, while people with Kapha dominant physiology tend to be overweight. So, if you have a Vata body-type, there is a limit to how 'fat' you can become. Instead of worrying about gaining weight, it is imperative to focus on being strong and healthy.

Dr. Chauhan lists down some tips that Ayurveda suggests in order to gain weight in a healthy way-

- Include soy bean in diet. Soy is high in protein and is perfect if you are a vegetarian looking for good sources of protein. Eat a fruit or drink fresh fruit juice, if possible every day or at least three times a week. If your diet includes non-vegetarian foods, you can add any meat of your choice twice a week.

- Include more curd, ghee, milk, sugarcane, rice, black gram and wheat in your daily diet. These are all good for gaining weight in a healthy manner.

- Gaining weight doesn't mean you don't have to exercise. In order to gain weight healthily, one must exercise regularly to allow the body to metabolize the food you have consumed and further keep your appetite strong.

- Small quantities of spices such as cinnamon, garlic, ginger, cardamom, clove and black pepper in your diet help in stimulating your appetite.

- Sleep well at night. Get at least eight hours of proper sleep. Avoid distractions before going to bed, like mobile phones or laptops. Drink a glass of cow's milk with a pinch of turmeric for a sound sleep.

- Eat in a normal speed, neither too fast, nor too slow. Eating at a normal speed stimulates the salivary glands, which aids digestion.

- Do not watch television, use your mobile phone or read while you are eating. Eat actively and allow your body to be engaged in the act of eating.

- Choose a clean and noise-free environment to have your meals.

- Do not drink a lot of water before or after meals. You may take small sips during meals if you need. In winters, you can sip lukewarm water during meals.

- Massaging the body with sesame oil allows the muscles and bones to become strong. It also promotes blood circulation which will carry nutrients to all parts of your body.

As per Ayurveda, people with Vata dominant physiology are typically thinHome remedies to gain weight,

Take equal amounts (50 grams) of figs, almonds, dates and raisins. Add 100 grams of gur (sugarcane jaggery). Saute it in cow's ghee until it takes a jelly-like consistency. Eat this twice daily, after meals.

3 - 5 grams of Ashwagandha and Shatavar powder taken every morning and night with milk will help you gain weight.

So, if you are looking to add those extra kilos, make sure you do it in a healthy way.

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Skin Care Routine: Essential Ayurvedic Tips For A Glowing Skin

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Who wouldn't want a clear and glowing skin? Not only does it enhance self-confidence but also indicates a healthy self. Markets are flooded with products that claim to cure any skin problem but prove to be a nightmare in the long run. Our dependence on these commercial skin products has increased due to our busy schedules, considering we have no time to use home remedies that are more effective than anything else. Ayurveda practices the age old way of using kitchen ingredients and herbs to cure skin ailments.According to Yogi Anoop, Founder at MediYoga, "Ayurveda says that your skin health is dependent on two factors- physical and psychological. The foods that you ingest affect the functioning of the body, which further reflects on the skin. On the other hand, your psychological condition, whether you are happy or sad will show up on your skin."

In order to get a glowing skin, it is important to load up on healthy foods, especially those which directly affect your skin health.

Here are the foods that Yogi Anoop suggests for a glowing skin-

1. Essential fatty acids
Essential fatty acids are fats that help in keeping your brain healthy. These help to control and regulate your psychological functions. Foods with these fatty acids include walnuts, olive oil, flaxseeds, almonds, whole grain foods, et al., which help in keeping your mind calm and stress-free.

2. Alkaline foods
Your body needs to be alkalised, which means to neutralise the acids formed in the body. Alkaline foods help the body to produce its own healthy hormones, which further helps keep your skin healthy. Include foods in your diet like fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and beans, nuts and seeds that are alkaline in nature.

3. Magnesium rich foods
Magnesium is one of the minerals that help your liver function properly. Your liver health reflects on your skin. So, loading up on magnesium rich foods may keep your liver and skin healthy. Include more green leafy vegetables, dark chocolate, figs, banana, seeds, avocado, et al.

Apart from the foods, you can bring kitchen ingredients to your rescue. Ayurvedacharya Dr. Partap Chauhan, Director at Jiva Ayurveda suggests some kitchen ingredients that will help your skin glow.

1. Chamomile Tea and Fuller's Earth (Multani Mitti) Pack
Chamomile helps regenerate skin cells and its anti-bacterial properties will fight off acne causing germs.

Strain half a cup of chamomile tea (without sugar) and mix it with 3 tea spoons of fuller's earth. Apply this pack twice a week to remove blackheads, deep-lodged dirt and dead skin cells.

2. Sandalwood and Yogurt
Lactobacillus, a good bacterium, does two wonderful things - first, it curdles milk into yogurt and second, it makes your skin shiny.

Take a couple of teaspoons of sandalwood powder, add 3 spoons of fresh yogurt, add a few drops of rose water and your face pack is ready. Keep it on your skin (face, neck and arms) for 15 minutes before bath.

Apart from these, neem or neemba as it is known in Ayurvedic scriptures has been used for centuries; thanks to its various healing properties. Its antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties have made it a popular medicine for skin. Use neem as a part of your daily skin care and ensure a healthy skin. You can add it with multani mitti and make a paste of it and apply regularly.

Eat a balanced diet, exercise for at least 30 minutes, use natural ingredients on your skin and you are good to go!

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Sadabahar For Diabetes: How To Use This Ayurverdic Wonder To Manage Blood Sugar Levels

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Ayurveda is a treasure trove of numerous herbal treatments. The ancient medical science is said to possess herbal therapies and medicines that help manage and treat various health conditions. Nowadays, the modern and globalised science integrates a lot of Ayurvedic practises in general wellness applications and, in some cases, in medical uses. One of the most common health conditions is diabetes, and Ayurveda has a number of herbal medicines that helps manage blood sugar. According to the book, 'The Complete Book Of Ayurvedic Remedies', by Dr. Vasant Lad, diabetes (or madhumeh) is a metabolic kapha type of disorder in which diminished functioning of agni (digestive fire) leads to a tendency towards high blood sugar.In order to control the spikes in blood sugar, Ayurveda suggests having sadabahar herb, which is also known as periwinkle and vinca rosea. Here's what you need to know about this herb.

What Is Sadabahar?
Sadabahar, or periwinkle, is a commonly found plant in India and is said to be native to Madagascar. It is an evergreen shrub that works as an ornamental plant and for medicinal purposes. The smooth, glossy and dark green coloured leaves along with flowers are said to act as natural medicine for type-2 diabetes. According to Ayurvedic expert Dr. Ashutosh Gautam, "sadabahar flowers and leaves are used to control blood sugar levels. One can have herbal tea made from flowers and leaves in the morning or you can also chew some three to four leaves to get effective results."

Health Benefits Of Sadabahar For Diabetes
Sadabahar has long been used in Ayurveda and Chinese medicines and is said to be a time-tested herbal treatment for managing conditions like diabetes, malaria, sore throats and leukaemia. Vinca rosea contains two active compounds, the alkaloids and the tannins. It is believed that the plant has more than 100 alkaloids, of which vincristine and vinblastine are most notable for their medicinal benefits.

How To Use Sadabahar For Diabetes?
1. The fresh leaves of sadabahar can be dried, powdered and stored in an air-tight container. Consume one teaspoon of this dried leaf powder with a cupful of fresh fruit juice or water daily. The powder may taste bitter.

2. Take not more than three to four leaves of the plant and chew them to manage blood sugar levels through the day.

3. Take the pink coloured flowers of the sadabahar plant and boil them in a cupful of water. Strain the water and drink it every morning on an empty stomach.

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Dr. Amarsinha Nikam
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Dr. Lalitkumar Thakare
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