The sages of ancient India, being concerned about the well-being of society, decided to pass on the science of life to the people. Sage Patanjali is the father of yoga—in Linga Purana, yoga means nirvana, the condition of Shiva. The Sushruta Samhita says Dhanvantari, god of Ayurveda, took human form and taught physicians of Varanasi the 5,000-year-old Vedic art of healing named Ayurveda. Both life sciences lead to enlightenment, and were integrated as our way of life until modern medicine, brought by Europeans, contributed to the decline of Indian medicine. Both are flourishing globally and in India, and are incorporated in spa regimens, hospitals and even work places.
Yoga and Ayurveda are deeply symbiotic: A healthy body is the most important vehicle of spiritual evolution. Yoga, the sister of Ayurveda, leads to enlightenment by awakening latent senses. Ayurveda recommends the correct foods and practices to prepare the body to attain yogic strength. Issues like negative relationships at home or at work upset the body’s balance thereby disturbing the gunas—the inherent qualities that link our spirit to nature. Forgetting our spiritual essence subsequently leads to rajas and thrusts you into a whirlpool of worry, anxiety, anger, attachment, resentment and fear.
In yoga, these are known as ‘Kleshas’ (dirt), which stop us from achieving samadhi. The obsession with our fears brings darkness in our lives, which is certain to harm us and our loved ones, since we lose our connection with the divine. This leads to tamas—inertia and darkness. Ayurveda attributes depression, schizophrenia, mania, violence, addiction and suicidal feelings to the tamas effect. Ayurvedic physicians see rajas and tamas as manodoshas ( mental disorders). Without consciously cultivating harmony, attaining sattva isn’t possible.
- Wake up at sunrise. Be aware of your body and thank the Supreme One to be alive. Start your day with prayers, meditations and breathing exercises. Exercise using up only half your strength until you get a sweaty glow.
- If you are exhausted, sick or elderly, sleep as long as you like. Don’t get out of bed immediately when you wake up.
- Consume a glass of lukewarm water with lemon, first thing in the morning. It will flush the intestinal tract and kidneys to stimulate peristalsis. To cure sluggish digestion, add half a teaspoon of ginger root powder to it.
- If there is undigested food, foul odour, mucous, excessive dryness after attending to your nature calls, alter your diet, lifestyle and use Ayurvedic herbs as recommended by a physician.
- Gently scrape your tongue with a scraper from back to front eight times—the tongue reflects your digestion. Thick white coating is indicative of ama (toxins). Splash water on to your face and wash your eyes with cool water or rose water, preferably using an eye cup.
- Massage your gums with sesame oil. Gargle with two tablespoons of pure sesame oil to improve your voice quality.
- The nose is the gateway to the brain and doing neti keeps it alert and healthy—dissolve a quarter teaspoon of salt in warm water and drain through each nostril. Then lubricate with five drops of warm sesame oil or ghee. This will clean the sinuses and improve voice, vision, and mental clarity, prana and intelligence.
- Do abhyanga or self-massage to replenish the nervous system, boost lymphatic flow, vitality, skin health and restore equilibrium between the body and the mind. It also detoxes the body. Use natural Ayurvedic products for bathing.
- Meals: Breakfast should be sattvic food. Lunch must be your biggest meal of the day. Bless your food first. Once you have lunched, lie on your left side for roughly 15-20 minutes to allow the digestive organs to do their work. Take a power nap in the evening just between sunset and dinner, which should be eaten three hours before you sleep.
- Switch off all overhead lights after dinner. Turn off the TV and your computer. Avoid all intense mental activity. Light a scented candle or read a soothing book. A warm bath scented with oils of frankincense, myrrh, lavender, honeysuckle, chamomile, neroli or pure rose will soothe your nervous system, and bring sleep.