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Are you familiar with Rasa (Six Tastes) in Ayurveda?

By Laura Loma and Liberty Elliot

Are you familiar with Rasa (Six Tastes) in Ayurveda?

In Ayurveda, Rasa is translated as tastes. Each rasa is made of two of the five elements known as Mahabhutas. These consist of Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.

The six Rasas and their elements are:

● Sweet made up of Earth and Water
● Sour made up of Earth and Fire
● Salty made up of Water and Fire
● Pungent made up of Fire and Air
● Astringent made up of Air and Earth
● Bitter is made up of Air and water

Why is this Important to Know?

Ayurveda recommends a nourishing whole food diet such as fruits and vegetables that are full of Prana (life force energy) however, not all foods may be benefiting you, and perhaps they may be slowing down your Agni (digestive fire).

Your digestion is the best indicator in knowing what foods and their rasas are healing you or harming you. So ask yourself, do you find your digestion sluggish and dull? Or perhaps it’s sharp and explosive? Or is your digestion irregular and you tend towards constipation? Consuming the Rasa rich Foods best suited for you is key to a balanced digestion and overall health. Ayurveda recommends meals to offer the six tastes, this is called Shad Rasa which is most important to balance the digestive system. Considering any present digestive imbalance, you would consume more of some rasas than others.

Are You Aware of Rasa’s Additional Beneficial Properties?

Each taste offers impressive health benefits listed below:

Sweet Rasa consists of natural sweets offerings from Mother Earth. Such foods like whole wheat grains and rice. Fruit such as mango, banana, dates. Dairy such as buttermilk, yogurt and cream. Grounding root vegetables such as carrots, yams and sweet potatoes are known to build tissues, calms nerves, improves semen and nourishes sense of organs.

Hello my healthy minded friends! This is Liberty, sharing ways that we can create healthy habits in our diet and lifestyles that can bring balance into our lives and encourage a state of optimum health.

We have learned about the 5 great Elements- Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth and how everything we touch taste and see, including the foods we eat are made up of a unique composition and combination of these 5 Elements.

Today we dive deeper into this concept by exploring the 6 tastes, or Rasas as they are known in Ayurvedic vocabulary. They are- Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter and Astringent. The six tastes relate to the Elements and they have specific effects on the bodily functions and tissues.

Sweet- this Rasa is made up of Earth and Water Elements. Sweet is calming for Vata and Pitta types, but may aggravate Kapha. Foods like natural sugars, Fruits such as mango6, ripe banana, dates and grains and carbohydrates as well as some dairy, milk and butter are sweet. Sweet foods have the ability to build and restore tissues in th body and they tend to have a calming effect.

Sour- this Rasa is made up of Earth and Fire Elements. It is balancing for Vata and may imbalance Kapha and Pitta types. Fruits like Citrus, fermented foods like yogurt and pickles and vinegar are sour. Sour flavored foods are have a cleansing effect on the body's tissue and enhance the ability to absorb minerals.

Salty- this flavor is made up of Fire and Water elements. Foods like Salt, minerals, Seaweed and salted snacks like nuts and chips are salty. Salty foods improve the taste of other foods and act as a natural lubricant bringing water element into the body's tissues.

Pungent- this Rasa is made up of Fire and Air elements. It is balancing for Kapha and may imbalance Vata and Pitta types. Spicy foods like Chili Peppers, Garlic, Cayenne and Black Pepper are pungent. Pungent foods stimulate digestive and metabolic functions in the body.

Bitter- this flavor or Rasa is made up of Space and Air elements. Bitter has a balancing effect for Kapha and Pitta but imbalances Vata type. Foods like dark leafy greens, Kale and Dandelion and some spices like Turmeric are bitter. Bitter flavored foods have a detoxifying effect and tend to lighten the body's tissues.

Astringent- this Rasa is a combination of Air and Earth elements. It is balancing for Pitta and Kapha and may aggravate Vata type. Vegetables such as legumes and some fruits like Pomegranate and Cranberries are astringent flavor. Astringent foods have natural diuretic properties, removing water from the body's tissues and drying out fats in the body.

In a healthy and balanced diet, all of the 6 flavors will be represented. By understanding the qualities of the 6 Rasa and and elements which they relate to, we can make proper food choices according to our individual Dosha type and current condition that can help us restore balance and maintain a state of optimum health.

Shad Rasa (Six Rasas)

By Anisa Shukla and Tejal Shukla

According to Ayurveda, it is important to taste our foods - Rasa - the Sanskrit word for taste also means experience, enthusiasm, juice, plasma and essence.

Ayurveda recognizes six tastes or rasas, each of which has a vital role to play in our physiology, health, and well-being. Sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes combine in many different ways to create a diversity of flavors that we encounter throughout our lives.

The sweet taste, as a naturally appealing element of our diets. It is the flavor of sugar that could be found in dates, wheat and fruits. Sweet tastes pacify vata and pitta but aggravate kapha doshas.

The sour taste tends to be fairly familiar to us - it is primarily the result of acids in our foods such as citrus fruits. We often “pucker” when we encounter the sour taste and it immediately moistens the mouth and increases the flow of saliva. The sour taste tends to increase pitta dosha in the body.

The salty taste is almost singularly derived from salt and is readily identified in our diets. We find this taste in fish, soy sauce and celery. The salty taste is said to be heating thus aggravates Kapha dosha.

The pungent taste is one of dry, intense heat that can be found in spicy foods and many herbs and spices. It is usually created by the presence of aromatic garlic and chili that stimulate the tissues and nerve endings of the mouth with a sensation of sharp and fiery heat. The pungent taste can increase pitta and vata dosha but pacify kapha dosha.

The bitter taste is a flavor that is not necessarily something enjoyable, although some people truly enjoy it. For some coffee can be a very enjoyable bitter taste for most along with dark chocolate. The bitter taste can pacify pitta dosha but aggravate vata dosha.

The astringent taste is a flavor of dryness that is generally produced by tannins such as the taste of red wine. It causes the mucus membranes in the mouth to contract and results in an immediate dry, chalky, and sometimes puckering sensation in the mouth. The astringent taste is frequently complemented by the sweet or sour tastes. Finally, this taste can increase vata as it is drying.

Ayurveda teaches us to appreciate that, every substance is made up of a combination of the [5] basic elements or Panchamahabhutas- Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. There are 6 tastes according to Ayurveda and these elements in 2 different combinations are present in all of the 6 tastes.

The 6 tastes-sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent, are based on the actual taste in the mouth. Rasa, means to taste or to experience, "Ra"= taste, and "sa" = juice. This applies to food, herbs and minerals. According to Ayurveda, a balanced meal has a little bit of each rasa. When there is an imbalance of doshas or blockages in channels (srotas), Ayurvedic practitioners recommend a nutrition plan that pays special attention to the 6 tastes. Each taste can either increase or decrease the doshas.

1. Sweet Taste: (madhura) made up of earth and water, its qualities are heavy, cooling and oily. it pacifies vata and pitta but increases kapha. Sweet taste can relieve thirst and burning sensations and is nutritive to the body tissues. The sweet taste from foods for example, like rice, milk wheat and dates can enhance the vital essence of life or Ojas. Other examples or sweet foods are, beans, maple syrup, peas, and sweet potatoes. Psychologically, sweet taste in moderation enhances love and compassion.

2. Sour Taste:(amla) made up of earth and fire, it is sour, acidic, and that which ferments easily. The sour taste decreases vata but increases pitta and kapha. Sour taste is found in foods such as yogurt, vinegar, lemons, fermented foods and sour cream. A small amount of sour taste is refreshing and energizes the body and enlivens the mind.

3. Salty Taste: (lavana) made up of water and fire, it is heating , heavy, oily and hydrophilic in nature. The salty taste decreases vata while increasing pitta and kapha. Just a little bit of salt enhances the taste of food. When used in moderation, salt balances the doshas and it stimulates salivation, aids in digestion, absorption and assimilation. salty taste comes from foods such as, himalayan salt, soy sauce, seaweed, celery. Psycologically, salty taste enhances spirit, and interest.

4. Pungent Taste: (katu) made up of fire and air. It is light drying and heating in nature. It pacifies kapha but increases pitta and vata. When used in moderation, it kindles agni (digestive fire), improves digestion and absorption and cleans the mouth. It can also aid in circulation and helps to eliminate waste products from the body. Psycologically, pungent taste brings enthusiasm, and vitality to the mind. Pungent foods include radishes, onions, ginger, black pepper and chili to name a few.

5. Bitter Taste: (tikta) made up of air and ether, it is cool, light and dry in nature. It increases vata but decreases pitta and kapha. We need all 6 tastes in our diet, but this taste is lacking in the western diet. It is important because bitter taste improves all other tastes. Bitter taste is cleansing, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying, it helps to kindle agni due to its light and dry qualities. Psychologically, bitter taste helps you become more self-aware. Bitter taste can be found in coffee, turmeric, olives, cabbage, grapefruits and green leafy vegetables.

6. Astringent: (kashaya) made up of air and earth elements, it is cooling, drying, and heavy in nature. It reduces both pitta and kapha, but increases vata. The astringent taste improves absorption and creates binding in the stool. Psychologically, astringent taste is supportive and grounding due to the earth element. Helps the mind become collected and organized. The astringent taste can be found in most raw vegetables, raw banana, pomegranate, chickpeas, walnuts, lentils, green beans and sprouts.

Taste can tell us a lot about what we are eating but most important, about the physical and energetic qualities from the universe we are taking into our being.

Six Tastes in Ayurveda

By Maria Hall

Ayurveda Counselor Student.

Ayurveda describes a balanced meal as one with six tastes, sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. According to Ayurveda, each taste is made of two primary elements. The six tastes and their elements are as follows:

SWEET

Sweet taste has earth and water, and examples of sweet tastes are rice, grains, milk,
wheat, ripe bananas, and pineapple.

SOUR

Sour has earth and fire, and examples of sour tastes are tomatoes, citrus fruits,
tamarind, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, fermented foods, and vinegar.

SALTY

Salty has fire and water, and examples of salty foods are sea weeds, celery, water
cress, spinach, mineral water, table salt and sea vegetables.

PUNGENT

Pungent has air and fire, and examples of pungent tastes are cayenne pepper, chili
pepper, ginger, garlic, wasabi, radish, mustard seeds, turnips, and cloves.

BITTER

Bitter has air and space, and examples of bitter tastes are dark leafy greens, dandelion root, bitter melon, turmeric, dark chocolate, and coffee.

ASTRINGENT

Finally, astringent has air and earth, and examples of astringent taste are lentils,
pomegranate, cranberries, broccoli, and rye. Now that you have an idea of the six
tastes, let me explain how they play a vital role in bodily functions.

Action of Sweet Taste

Sweet taste has cooling energy or “virya” and it helps to build tissues and relax the mind. It also soothes and nourishes the sense organs and gives the mind
compassion and satisfaction. An imbalance of the sweet taste creates attachment,
laziness, and heaviness. It also weakens the pancreas and causes thyroid
imbalances. Some common diseases due to excess sweet taste are diabetes, obesity
and low agni. According to Ayurveda, there are also six stages of digestion. The
first stage is the sweet stage, and it begins in the mouth with the digestion of
starches.
Action of Sour taste
Sour taste has heating virya and it helps to cleanse tissues, stimulates organs, and
increase absorption of minerals. An imbalance of sour taste increases anger, envy,
and passion. Some common diseases due to excess sour taste in the body are
infections, ulcers, thirst, and boils. Sour stage is second stage in digestion where
HCL is secreted making the food acidic. Digestion of proteins and fats begin in this
stage.
Action of Salty taste
Salty stage also has heating virya and this taste helps to improve taste, lubricates
the tissues, stimulates digestion, gives confidence, and builds enthusiasm. An
imbalance in salty taste creates greed, overambition and blood pressure. Some of
the common illnesses due to high salt in the body are kidney stones, swelling, skin
disease and hypertension. Salty stage is the third stage in digestion when food
enters the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. Acidic food is mixed with
alkaline secretions and bile resulting in salts.
Action of Pungent taste
Pungent stage has the most heating virya among all the taste and it stimulates
digestion and metabolism. An imbalance in this taste results in anger and boldness.
Some of the common illnesses because of the imbalance are dry cough, low
energy, and reproductive issues. Pungent taste is the fourth stage in digestion, and
it occurs in jejunum, the second part of the small intestine. The fire element present
in the taste increases the heat and circulation. Air element facilitates intestinal
peristalsis and creates gases.
Action of Bitter taste
Bitter taste has the most cooling virya. It detoxifies the tissues and stimulates
digestion. An imbalance of the taste can create dissatisfaction and loneliness.
Constipation is a common cause of bitter taste imbalance. Bitter stage is the fifth
stage of digestion when food enters ileum, final section of the small intestine. Air
element in the bitter taste creates peristalsis and there is rapid absorption of
nutrients.
Action of Astringent taste
Astringent taste has a cooling virya. This taste is responsible for drying the fat,
tightening the tissues, removing excess heat, and reducing sweating. An imbalance
in this taste causes insecurity and fear. Some common diseases caused by
imbalances of this taste are anemia, insomnia, gas, bloating, low blood pressure
and constipation. Astringent taste is the sixth and final stage of digestion where
ileocecal valve opens and food enters the cecum, the first section of the large
intestine. Absorption of minerals and liquids occur, and feces is formed by the
earth element in this stage.
Now that you understand how the six tastes play a vital role in the digestion
process, I hope you will remember to incorporate all six tastes in every meal

Importance of Daily Routine

By Nina Elliot (Ayurveda Student)

“We are what we repeatedly do” (Aristotle). Routines are the mindful ways of doing things in a pattern, they form schedules, which anchor us to daily life by creating stability and comfort, and without them, we feel overwhelmed and stressed out. When we are in a flow, life just seems to be a little easier. Ultimately, our many habits are done to accomplish a particular goal, and in Ayurveda, the goal is stay healthy and have a balanced Dosha. ‘We are a microcosm of the macrocosm’…I keep hearing this phrase over and over again in this course, weaving itself in and out of each component of Ayurveda, from philosophy to more pragmatic routines. I am now beginning to understand it is the essence of Ayurveda.

So if we are a microcosm of the macrocosm, this means we are driven by Mother Nature, her cyclical flow of existence, and what affects Her will also affect us (and vice versa).


Photo by Mark Tegethoffon Unsplash

If the power of the lunar and solar cycles deeply affect us
(especially the lunar cycle for women), our goal is stay in sync with this flow.

The routines that help us be synchronous are daily/nightly
(Dinacharya) and seasonal routines (Ritucharya).

Dinahcharya seek to establish balance in an individual’s Dosha,
within the 24 hour time span. Within these 24 hours, our Vata,
Pitta and Kapha energies are present in our bodies at all times,
and mirror the actual structure of the day/night with its own VPK
energies.

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

For example, 6am-10am/6pm-10pm is the Kapha period, 10am-
2pm/10pm-2am is the Pitta period, and 2pm-6pm/2am-6am is the Vata
period.

These time periods dictate when one should do certain
recommenced activities like diet (Ahara) hygiene (bathing, tongue
scraping, oil pulling, nasya, etc) exercise, meditation, and
spiritual practices.

An example for a Pitta would be to eat their largest meal at
lunch, since Pitta is highest at this time and the chance of
optimal digestion is then. Again using Pitta as an example, a
good daily exercise would be to do calming exercises like Moon
Salutations, and a good oil for self massage would be warm
coconut oil.

Similarly, Ayurveda prescribes a seasonal routine to maintain a Doshic balance that sin equilibrium as seasons change. Each season also needs a unique diet, lifestyle and routine living.
An example would be to eat pitta pacifying foods in the summer (coconut, melons, foods that are sweet, astringent and bitter, and avoiding spicy, oily pungent warm foods, as this will aggravate Pitta. Ritucharya helps us to learn to adjust and build upon our daily routines, which too is a necessary point of growth, as change is a part of life.

If basic recommenced routines are not followed, digestion/Agni may be impaired. For me, every time I travel, particularly via flying - my Agni gets disrupted and I will get constipated. Additionally, a diet guideline would be to eat fresh satvik foods, which can also be difficult to obtain while traveling, creating further gastric disturbances which can affect my mood, my stress level, depleting my energies and my sleep.

As much as I do enjoy traveling, I find that after a trip, even if it’s a vacation, I spend a lot of energy focused on ‘getting back on track’ when I get back. Knowing this, and now with Ayurveda’s help, there are ways I can prepare myself for a trip prior to ensure a smooth journey.

Six Stages of Disease in Ayurveda

By Syama Mehta, Franciska F. and Anuradha Rao,

Shata Kriya Kala is the methodical approach to assessing disease progression in Ayurveda. There are six stages in this process by which we can track the movement of the doshas and their expression in the body.

These 6 steps are a crucial way to diagnose the path of a disease or imbalance in the body. Ayurveda, the ancient holistic healing methodology, emphasizes early intervention, prevention, and removal of the problem. Breaking down an imbalance into 6 stages helps in achieving all 3. This is an important part of Ayurvedic Nidana, to arrive at the chain of causation.

Stage 1-Sanchaya

This is the first step wherein the dosha gets accumulated in its own sthana or original place in the body. For eg: Vata may accumulate in its own sthana i.e., lower abdomen/intestines.

This is the stage where doshas start accumulating in their “homes”. Vata accumulates in the colon, pitta in the small intestine, and Kapha in the stomach. If the person pays attention to the body, he/she will recognize the signals given by the body. They will feel an attraction to the opposite qualities of the dosha that has increased.

In the first stage of the process, Sanchaya, the doshas are in their respective sthana and beginning to increase. This mild imbalance can be managed by applying the opposite gunas and pacifying the increasing doshas. However, if the dosha is not pacified and continues to increase in the sthana, then they begin to aggravate the sites further. In the stage of provocation

Stage 2-Prakopa

In the 2nd step, the dosha starts to aggravate in the same place.
Eg: the vata in the lower abdomen aggravates and creates an imbalance in the original place, i.e, abdomen & intestines.
If the doshas are not contained at their sites, they get aggravated and start to overflow from their sites.

Prakopa, the individual may still be able to apply common-sense measures to pacify the imbalance (reducing hot foods when feeling hot, reducing Kapha-inducing foods when feeling heavy, etc). Should these measures not be taken, or inadequate, the imbalance moves to the third stage.

In the stage of provocation, Prakopa, the individual may still be able to apply common-sense measures to pacify the imbalance (reducing hot foods when feeling hot, reducing Kapha-inducing foods when feeling heavy, etc). Should these measures not be taken, or inadequate, the imbalance moves to the third stage, Prasara.

Stage 3-Prasara

This is the SPREAD of the disorder. Here the dosha starts to spread throughout the body after overflowing from its sthana or location. For eg: the above vata imbalance can now move into any part of the body through various srotas that originate from amashaya (stomach).

Once the overflow of doshas happens, they start spreading throughout the body via different channels.

Here the doshas begin to spread beyond their sthana. This is an important stage because it is here that we begin to see “pre-symptoms” of disease (Purva rupa). The doshas begin to roam the body in search of a weak area. Cravings for tastes of the imbalanced doshas often increase in this stage of the disease. Vata is involved in this stage as it carries the doshas. Once they have moved out of their sthana, they have to be managed with targeted therapies to bring the doshas back to the GI tract.

Stage 4-Sthana-Samshraya

(Deposition/Localisation) - The spread dosha then tries to find weak spots or khavaigunyas (weak spots) in order to deposit. For eg: vata can lodge itself in reproductive systems

Once the doshas start moving away from their sites, they start to look for a place to deposit. It can take place at an organ, marma, joint, dhatu, etc. At this stage, premonitory symptoms appear.

Here the disease has found a weak area in the dhatu, khavaigunya, to deposit itself. Once this happens, the offending dosha begins to try to exert its influence upon the dhatu. The dosha will lodge itself into the asthayi dhatu. If the dhatu agni is strong it will keep the dosha’s influence at bay. If it is not, then the dosha will enter the sthayi dhatu. This is dhatu gata dosha, the disease moving into the tissue. It is at this stage that cellular intelligence is affected. Signs and symptoms begin to appear but can still be managed and pacified before the disease moves on to the next phase, Vyakti.

Stage 5-Vyakti

Once the disease progresses to this stage, signs, and symptoms start to appear.
In this stage of manifestation, the newly accumulated dosha imbalance will result in the manifestation of various symptoms. For eg: vata in reproductive systems can manifest in amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, etc.

In the fifth stage of disease, manifestation, the disease can be clearly seen. At this point, the effect of the dosha (or doshas) has adversely influenced the dhatus, srotamsi, and organs. The function has also been affected.

Stage 6-Bheda

At this stage, the disease becomes chronic and complications may develop and is very difficult to treat.
This is the stage of differentiation and change. The manifested stage can further take any route possible and create various complications or chronic issues in the body. For eg: the above vata manifestation can further result in cysts, fertility issues, and various other symptoms spread throughout the body.

If the disease is not addressed at this time, then the final stage, Bheda, is reached. This is known as differentiation. The doshas have entered the dhatu and affected function, while also affecting the surrounding tissue. This is the most difficult stage to treat as the disease has created so much qualitative change.

DISCLAIMER: Ayurveda is a complementary health system and is not allowed to treat, diagnose or cure any disease. Ayurveda practitioners are holistic health practitioners. The above article is for informational purposes only.

Importance of a Daily Routine in Ayurveda

By Donah, Ayurveda Counselor Student

It is important to have a daily routine or Dinacarya, because we are the microcosm of the macrocosm. Which means that all part of our being is connected to the bigger picture of the universe. We are connected to nature and all things that make up the planet, therefore everything affects us. We are affected by the water on the planet that is connected to our blood and plasma. We are connected to the earth that is connected to our bones. I was taught that our teeth and bones hold the memories of the earth just like the rocks and stones. We are connected to all phases of the moon as well as the rise and setting of the sun. Our energy wanes and waxes with the moon. When the moon is dark it is a time to be quiet and plant the seeds for creation. When the moon is full everything comes to fruition. A woman's cycle is in sync with the moon.

By maintaining a Dinacarya we are essentially establishing a base line in our bodies. so that when we bring in something different, like staying up to late, too much of one food or person, we notice the different. Being balanced in Ayurveda for me is about noticing all the qualities, elements that we take in. If we take in too much of one, then we can balance it daily, because we have a 'dosha dance' that changes if we do not stick to the "plan", that is why dinacarya is so important

Some imbalances are taking in too much of one quality or element. We can also miss if something subtle comes up. If we stay up one night too long, the next morning we could be sleepy, then our eating schedule is off, then it continues like this.. like a domino effect. At the end it could be very chaotic.

A daily routine or Dinacarya keeps us in sync with nature and the universe. If we are in sync our at our best health, and our minds, heart and spirit are clear, because we are connected to all there is. When we do not follo a Dinacarya we are more likely to feel disturbances in the body and mind. Having a Dinacarya also helps the body be more disciplined and scheduled. When this happens the body is prepared for what comes next and more capable of bouncing back from what is unexpected because it is stronger. It supports digestion, absorption, agni and the balancing of the doshas.

When we do not have a daily or seasonal routine, Ritucarya, we are more susceptible to disturbances, including disease and illness. Some of the things that can be disturbed are sleep. If we go to bed at different times each night, the body will not know when to be prepared for sleep, and the natural circadian rhythm may be disturbed. This can cause hetus, which is a disturbance.

Not enough sleep prevents the body from resting and healing which can cause insomnia, mental and emotional disturbances as well as obesity and diabetes. Not eating at the same time every day can lead to indigestion, heartburn, cravings for foods that can upset the dosha and balances in the body.

Ritucarya or seasonal routines are important because they prepare the body for the next season, i.e, moving from winter to spring. If we are connected to mother earth then it makes sense that we would feel the change or the seasons and the change of the seasons would affect us. There are two weeks between seasons that are a great time to prepare the body for the change. One might do a cleanse moving into the warmer seasons. This is a good time to shed the extra kapha that has kept us static for winter. We move into a lighter season that has more vata or pitta energy. We begin to eat lighter foods so that our bodies can feel lighter. A pitta season such as summer would be a time to plant seeds. This would also be a good time for any type of transformation for us even if it has to do with our thoughts and lives.

Dinacarya and Ritucarya are disciplined and schedules of which to live by that create balance and harmony within the body and mind, and keep us intuned with nature, the planet and spirit.

Ayurveda-and-Menstrual Cycle

Ayurveda and Menstrual Cycle

By Ayurveda Counselor Group 9.20

Western medicine views menstruation as more of a physical process where the body removes unneeded tissue and prepares for the next ovulation cycle. The process is thought to be governed primarily by hormones. Ayurveda sees women as the embodiment of creative cosmic energy. Women are meant to create and nurture life. Women are seen as closer to the natural cycles of the earth, moon and planets and this is reflected through their menstruation cycle which roughly corresponds the cycle of the Moon as it moves from new to full to new again. Ayurveda believes that the menstruation period is on of cleansing and that women should slow down, moderate exercise, eat lightly and honor this period to reflect on their divine connections.

The Western view of the menstrual cycle is very clinical and scientific in nature. It relies completely on the objective role of the hormones finding a mean of the general population of women and presenting that as the norm.

The Western view, as a whole, does not attempt to offer pacifying remedies outside the scope of their medicinal treatments, eg. NSAIDs for all types of pain associated with the cycle(no deferential between headache remedy, cramping, low back), uses hormones to explain PMS symptoms, specifically manasic symptoms, but does not attempt to educate about these imbalances to women nor offer education to their partners about how to support during this time, yet will gladly prescribe antidepressants to 'fix' the women. In contrast, Ayurveda offers the perspective that this is a time of cleansing: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

As such, it is advised to rest and meditate and lean in to family to allow this space for themselves. Ayurveda also differs in its view of a women's cycle, not only recognizing that each woman is unique but that she will need specific balancing remedies per her dosha, agni, and cycle agni. These remedies include the use of blood tonifying herbs, diet, meditation, mantra, marma activation, abyhanga, pulling back from unnecessary activity, among others. Ayurveda offers these remedies when a woman has a period that falls outside what is considered a healthy flow. A healthy period will be moderate in flow and duration, it will have no clots, and little to no discomfort.

Another main difference between the Western perspective and Ayurveda is that Ayurveda honors the cycle throughout the month and offers pacifying suggestions through all three phases of the cycle Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. Lastly, Ayurveda honors that there are times that Western medicine may be needed but advises against long term use.

Ayurveda also sees a woman’s development from birth to menopause as representative of the 3 doshas. From birth to puberty is largely Kapha, Puberty to 40 years is mostly Pitta, 40 to 50 a combination of vata and pitta and 50 years, menopausal and post-menopausal as Vata. Menstrual periods are often experienced differently by different dosha types.

The modern view of the menstrual cycle is something that is considered to be due to hormonal changes in a women’s body. They do not look deeper into the meaning; they see it from a very scientific point of view.

Versus in Ayurveda, the scientific part is considered. Ayurveda does know the hormones are changing and the lining of the uterus is shedding, but it takes into account the esoteric part as well. Ayurveda sees this time as a time to be honored; a time that a woman is literally changing. She is letting go of all accumulated toxins in the body, emotional as well. Ayurveda also takes into account how we are very connected to the moon.

According to Ayurveda, the menstrual cycle is viewed as a period of cleansing for the mind and the body; and is controlled by rasa dhatu agni, artava dhatu agni, apana vayu and poshaka kapha. It’s an opportunity to rest the mind, and it’s advised to reduce chores at home, doing physical activities, invite others in our space, so we can release what need to be released and reset our personal energy. Ahara and vihara is also very important because it can smooth the feminine cycle or worsen it, which is why it’s crucial to point out if what we experience is an imbalance if PMS is present, and not normalize it. Learning the ayurvedic approach of the feminine cycle helps to learn more about our own mind and body and adjust ahara and vihara according to them. The feminine energy is ruled by the moon and the phases of the moon are directly linked to the women cycle, which is another aspect not taken in consideration in western society.

For the western society, menstrual cycle is controlled by female hormones and this moment of the month is not very honored. Women doesn’t really rest, synch with their mind and body because of the “duties of multitasked women” are considered and taught as proprietary compared to their original and vital need of releasing energy. They have to take care of everything all year long, no matter if there is this vital recurrent need to release emotions, ama and not only physical blood.

Herbs

Ashoka
Pacifies: Pitta, Kapha
Aggravates: Vata
Imbalance: Supports Excess bleeding, dysmenorrhea, prolapse, irregular cycles, PCOS.

Dashamula:
Pacifies: Vata, Kapha
Aggravates: Pitta
Imbalance: Supports Premenstrual anxiety, insomnia, cold extremities

Shatavari
Pacifies: Vata, Pitta
Aggravates: Kapha
Imbalance: Supports Dysmenorrhea, stagnant blood, constipation, heavy menstruation.

Punarnava
Pacifies: Vata, Pitta, Kapha
Aggravates: Vata in excess
Imbalance: Supports Blood clots, menorrhagia, fibroids.

Musta
Pacifies: Pitta, Kapha
Aggravates: Vata
Imbalance: Supports Cramping, heavy flow, bloating, depression, delayed onset of period.

Ashwagandha
Pacifies: Vata, Pitta (in small amounts), Kapha
Aggravates: May aggravate Pitta
Imbalance: Supports Slow onset of menses, spasms, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, weakness.

Turmeric
Pacifies: Vata, Pitta, Kapha
Aggravates:Pitta and Kapha in excess
Imbalance: Supports Fibroids, cysts, endometriosis, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, kapha accumulation.

Anantamula
Pacifies: Pitta
Aggravates: Vata, kapha
Imbalance: Supports Menorrhagia, leukorrhea, dysmenorrhea, anemia, hot flashes

Fenugreek
Pacifies: Vata, Pitta
Aggravates: Pitta
Imbalance: SupportsDysmenorrhea

Ajwain
Pacifies: Vata, Kapha
Aggravates: Pitta
Imbalance: Supports Cramping, anxiety, depression, lethargy.

Rose
Pacifies: Pitta, Vata, Kapha
Aggravates: na
Imbalance: Anxiety, stress, depression, acne.

Pomegranate
Pacifies: Vata, Pitta, Kapha
Aggravates: na
Imbalance: Supports Endometriosis, fibroids, low and high estrogen.

Disclaimer: Ayurveda is a complementary medicine modality and is not allowed to treat, cure or prevent any disease. All the information above is for knowledge/information purpose only. Ayurveda is not recognized by FDA.

What are Marma Points in Ayurveda?

By Franciska Farkas and Shubha Karnik

Marmas are a part of greater sacred physiology that maps out the body according to subtle energy currents and power points. Mama point is a location on the body where two or more types of tissue meet, such as muscles, veins, ligaments, bones or joints. Marmas are vital locations on the body where various types of tissue unite. These locations are viewed as important because they are vulnerable points where pain or fatal injury may occur. Due to the various tissues present, an increase in prana is also present due to the subtle energies in the areas, and thus marma points may be manipulated not only to harm and incapacitate but also to aid in the healing of body, mind, and spirit. Organs fall along the channels on which the marma points lie and if those points are affected the associated organs may be damaged or starved of prana.

Marmas were first thought to be utilized as far back as 4000 BC for use in self-defense and martial arts in India and then spreading to surrounding countries and territories. It was well-known to be used in the Indian martial art of Kalari for offensive and defensive purposes, as well as to restore function and heal the martial artists after injury and strain. It is still used today in this way, and of course in Ayurveda as therapy.

Marmas are centers for the vital force or prana. Mamas connect to the Nadis [subtle nerves] and chakras [energy centers] of the subtle body and the mind. They govern the interface between the physical and the subtle pranic bodies and the interchange of energy and information. Mamas, most of them are situated on the surface of the body but some are situated deeper and are related to internal organs like the heart bladder, etc. The sizes of Marma's are variable, some are just one anguli in size, others larger about the size of the palm. Since Marmas are centers for prana, through manipulation of Marmas, prana can be directed to move blockages, improve energy flow or tap hidden energy reserves and make connections with a greater part of life and nature. Marmas are key locations for Ayurvedic bodywork and massage.

Marma therapy can be used to release blocked energy, cure some diseases, increase strength, and decrease stress. As a practitioner, using non-invasive manipulation of marmas and guiding clients to utilize marma points on their own will be helpful as sometimes the effects can be felt immediately. Also, if clients have had damage to locations where the marma lie it can give great insight into nidan and cikitsa.

Classification of Marmas

I. The distribution of marma points according to the location:
The lower extremities – 22
The upper extremities – 22
The chest and stomach – 12
The back – 14
The head and neck – 37
Total = 107
Since the mind​ is also considered as a marma, it will be 108 marma

II. Classification according to the physical structure:

Mamsa marma – muscle – 11
Sira marma - vessels conveying body fluids and impulses – 41
Sanyu – tendons – 27
Asthi – bones – 8
Sandhi - articulate points especially bone joints – 20
Total = 107

III. Classification according to the vulnerability:

Sadhya Pranhara Marma – 19
“Sadhya” means immediate.
“Pranhara” means loss of life.
Marmas are vulnerable to injury and may lead to loss of life immediately following insult.
Kalantara Pranhara – 33
“Kalantara” means after the lapse of some time
“Pranhara” means loss of life. After infliction of these marma, loss of life results gradually after
some time but within one month.
Vishalyaghana – 3
“ Vishalya” means the foreign body being removed.
Vishalyaghana means death occurring due to the removal of a foreign body.
Vaikalyakara – 44
“Vilkala” means deformity or cripple.
Rujakara – 8
“Ruja” means excess pain

Injury at this point causes excess pain.

Marma therapy or Marma chikitsa is an important method of Ayurvedic treatment for the entire spectrum of health complaints major and minor. Mamas when manipulated can alter both the organic function and structural condition of the body. Through the right use of marmas our entire physical and mental energy can be consciously increased, decreased or redirected in a transformative manner.
Example
1. Marma massage therapy can be useful to relieve blockage of energy.
2. Marma massage can help to cure some diseases.
3. Marma massage can help improve physical strength & stability.
4. Marma massage can help reduce vata vyadhi
5. Marma massage can improve the energy flow in the body resulting in healing which in turn can help reduce stress

Marmas are classified by their location, structure/tissue type, and vulnerability. Below is a chart representing these classifications.

According to Location 108

107 on the body + 1 mind=108
Lower extremities 22
Upper extremities 22
Chest and Stomach 12
Back 14
Head and neck 37

According to Physical Structure= 107
Mamsa marma 11 (muscle junction)
Sira marma 41 (crossing of vessels, veins)
Bodily fluids and impulses Snayu 27 (junction of tendons)
Asthi 8 (bones)
Sandhi 20 (joints)

Joints/articulating points

According to vulnerability 107
Sadhya Pranhara Marma 19

Immediate loss of life Kalantara 33
Loss of life after a lapse
Vishalyaghana 3
Foreign body being removed
Vaikalyakara 44 Deformity
Rujakara 8
Causing excess pain, death does not occur.

Rasa Dhatu or Waters in Ayurveda

By Anuradha Rao, Zobeida and Arjun Luthra (Ayurveda Counselor Student)

Our annamaya kosha (physical bodily sheath that covers our energetic self) is very intelligent, to convert what we consume as ahara, air and thoughts into us to sustain the life in us. The ahara becomes us and the heterogeneous separation between the annamaya kosha and the ahara, becomes homogeneous. This inclusiveness with everything has been the ultimate goal of any spiritual path (aka the liberation or moksha) and our annamaya kosha takes the first steps in this path through the act of digestion. To bring about this inclusivity, a lot goes in the body and various systems come together in order to achieve this.

Our physical bodies are made up of sapta dhatus or 7 kinds of tissues as per Ayurveda. These dhatus could be created sequentially, parallely or selectively; this again depends on the body's needs. To create these dhatus, the primary fuel or source of creation is the essence of the food or saara. Saara is nothing but the superior food that has been filtered out by the digestive agni from the complete ahara that has been consumed. And out of the sapta dhaatus, Rasa dhatu is the first dhatu that’s created out of the essence or sara.

‘Rasa’ literally translates to juice or taste in Sanskrit. This rasa could mean the taste of food (shad rasas) experienced by the physical body or taste of emotions (nava/dvadasha rasas) by the manasa/mental body/manomaya kosha. Thus, rasa dhatu is naturally the first dhatu to be born out of the saara, as digesting the first taste of food or first emotions of thoughts is the first step for any human being. Rasa dhatu in western pathology translates to lymph, plasma, and white blood cells; and is responsible for the immunity and protection of the body as well as nourishment and growth.

The word Rasa can be found in Ayurveda in more than one situation. When used in conjunction with food, it refers to taste. When used with emotions, implies taste for life, contentment. In Ayurveda Kriya Sarira, Rasa is one, and the first, of the seven dhatus (tissues) of the body.

The dhatus, are the foundation of the physical body. They provide the body with support, structure, and growth.

Rasa dhatu is the first dhatu formed post-digestion and the primary juice of life that gives the foundation for the creation of the rest of the dhatus. Rasa dhatu refers to the fluids of the body, the plasma, the lymph, and interstitial fluids. It is related to Kapha dosha and to Apa –water- mahabhuta, the gunas are cold, heavy, dull, moist, smooth, fluid, stable, liquid, cloudy.

Rasavaha srotas is the channel related to Rasa, it originates in the heart, travels throughout the body, and carries lymph.

The main functions of Rasa dhatu are:

Providing nutrition to all the cells in the body
Providing gratifying effect
Maintaining life
Giving satisfaction
Formation of asthayi Rasa –unstable Rasa dhatu-
Formation of upadhatus (Menstrual fluid, breast milk, and Tvak)
Formation of Kapha
Transport waste from the cells to the kidneys
Avoiding initiation of the disease process
The Upadhatus are constructing elements that do not give nourishment to the body. The upadhatus of Rasa dhatu are:

Stanya –breast milk: It provides nourishment and immunity to the baby. It travels through Stanyavaha srotas.
Artava/Raja –menstrual fluid: It is present only in women and flows through Artavavaha srotas.

Dhatu sara –Tissue excellence

Is a state of well tissues. When Rasa dhatu is excellent –Rasa/Tvak sara- the skin unctuous, soft, smooth and glossy. The hair is tender and the hair follicles are less in number and deep rooted.

Imbalanced Rasa dhatu

Rasa dhatu can increase, decrease or get vitiated. Hetus of imbalanced Rasa dhatu can be cold, heavy, excess of dry food, excess of unctuous food, excess eating, worry, anxiety, too much fasting.

An imbalanced Rasa dhatu leads to anorexia, nausea, lethargic feeling, drowsiness, heaviness, fever, early greying hair, anemia, wrinkles, menstrual imbalance.

When rasa dhatu is vitiated in the body, it results in the following signs:

Dryness of the mouth
Dry skin
Cracked skin
Excess thirst
Exhaustion
Intolerance for sound
Tremors
Scanty menstrual fluid
Decreased menstrual bleeding/scanty bleeding
Decreased lactation
Dryness of mouth
Dryness of vagina
Early greying of hair
Anorexia
Dry skin
Exhaustion
Intolerance for sound
Tremors
Anemia

When rasa dhatu is increased in the body, it results in the following signs:

Excess salivation
Nausea
Moist skin
Lethargy
Swelling, edema
Dullness
Heavy menstrual fluid
Increased menstrual bleeding/excessive bleeding
Fatigue
Nausea
Menorrhagia
Endometriosis
Oily skin
Water retention
Bloating
Increased salivation

Rasa dhatu is the first dhatu that is nourished from the ahara rasa(essence of the food which we take). The nourishment and development of all other dhatus is dependent on the quality and quantity of the rasa dhatu. Unstable rasa dhatu is transformed into rakta dhatu. From the western perspective, it is the water portion of the blood that carries proteins and essential nutrients. This is then circulated by the help of vyana vayu. When rasa dhatu is increased, the accessory elements are increased, which are breast milk and the menstrual fluid(aartava). Likewise, when the rasa dhatu is depleted, the accessory elements are also depleted. Thus depletion of rasa dhatu affects the quantity of rasa dhatu that is matured into aartava and is manifested during monthly periods.

This also affects the breastmilk quantity and quality. That is why it is important that a pregnant women has sufficient rasa during her pregnancy because it supports growth and development of her baby as well and it promotes life satisfaction. Having a baby can lead to vata imbalance and excess vata which is dry and mobile can dry out rasa of the body.

Rasa dhatu has the qualities of cold, unctuous, heavy, oily. And thus rasa dhatu is governed by Kapha. Rasa dhatu is created in the following manner:

Rasa dhatvagni

Saara (Essence) -----------------------> Stable Rasa dhatu + Unstable Rasa dhatu + Upadhatu (Breast milk + Menstrual fluid) + Mala (Kapha)

For this rasa dhatu to flow in the body, there are rasa vaha srotas or channels and as per Ayurveda the rasa vaha srotas originate in the heart and are spread throughout the body.

So as it can be easily deduced, the essence of what is being eaten gets converted to Rasa dhatu. Hence, the quality of rasa dhatu relies heavily on the quality of nutrition.

Other signs of decreased rasa dhatu is dry skin, dry mouth, exhaustion, tremors, excess thirst and intolerance to sound. Depleted rasa dhatu could be due to dehydration and physical symptoms could include sunken eyes, dry hair and cracked lips.

The manasa aspect is that there will be less satisfaction with life. Excess rasa dhatu relates to drowsiness, heaviness, swelling, water retention, excess salivation and heavy menstrual flow. Vitiation of rasa dhatu is related to anemia(excess paleness of face is an indicator), anorexia, drowsiness, early greying of hair, anemia and appearance of wrinkles.

Based on the dushti and diagnosis, a proper regimen is then accordingly given in order to balance the rasa dhatu such as a rejuvenation therapy when rasa dhatu is vitiated or cleansing therapy when rasa dhatu is in excess.

Saturn and Jupiter in Jyotish (Vedic Astrology)

In our previous session, We had covered the (grahas) planets. There are some basic things you need to know for the Ayurveda Counselor. We have really covered most of the curriculum. We have covered the bhavas and houses in previous classes. Today, we will talk about Saturn and Jupiter, Rahu, and Ketu.

As a general rule, people are scared of Saturn. Did you know that even countries are ruled by the grahas.

For example, India is ruled by Saturn and there is a delay and more delays in everything. if you have ever been to India, you are very aware of things always take time, and, may be delayed.

America on the other hand is ruled by Mars. Let's fight and throw an army at the problem. This is because America is ruled by Mars.

Listen to the rest of the podcast here.

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