Ten ways knowing your individual constitution or Prakriti can empower you

You’re at dinner with a friend who does just fine with kidney beans and salad and you can only seem to digest light soups. Meanwhile, your other friend enjoys a flaming hot chili which no one else at the table can touch. One person’s food is another person’s poison and indeed, everybody is unique! 
According to Ayurveda, the 5,000 year old ‘science of life’, your structure, function, tendencies and affinities are governed by what is called your Prakriti, or constitution. Learning more about this empowers you to make optimal lifestyle choices that prevent disease and support overall wellbeing. This is crucial in today’s day and age when 6 in 10 people in the US suffer from lifestyle based chronic illnesses like diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and certain forms of cancer.1 Their incidence and the debilitating toll they take on our lives, and livelihood, can be reduced through preventative medicine. 

 

Prakriti: your Ayurvedic Constitution

Prakriti is your constitution or natural state at the time of conception, which is a combination of three energy principals called Doshas. Prakriti is unchanging through life. Prakriti inherently cannot be the cause of disease, though it could generate a propensity for certain disorders. Assessment of Prakriti is the first step in traditional Ayurvedic treatment as practiced in the Indian subcontinent, as it establishes what is a person’s unique “normal.”

Prakriti is often known simply as “Dosha” and you might come across the question – “What’s your Dosha” To be accurate: everyone has all three Doshas present. Your constitution could predominantly consist of one Dosha, two Doshas, or rarely, a balance of all three. Prakriti is also perceived as an Ayurvedic body type, though it also includes mental and emotional qualities.

Let’s explore each individual Dosha. What resonates with you and sounds like you?

 

Vata Dosha

Vata-dominant individuals are etheric and often drawn to creative pursuits like dance, which plays on their love for movement

Vata Dosha is formed from the air and ether elements and is the energy principle of movement. It is cold, dry, light, mobile, irregular and rough. If Vata predominates you are likely to be either very petite or very tall (think: extremes), with dry skin and sensitivity to cold and dry weather. Your sleep may be light and restless. You could be active, enthusiastic, open-minded and creative, but your energy levels may be variable. You are prone to nervous and joint disorders, allergies, constipation, anxiety and restlessness.

   

Pitta Dosha

Pitta-dominant individuals are fiery and known for their sharpness and precision, which makes them the frequent “organizers” of any team

Pitta Dosha is a combination of fire and water and is the energy of metabolism. It is a hot, oily, light, liquid, sharp, soft and smooth principal. If Pitta dominates you are likely to be medium built with warm, ruddy skin and a tendency to get sunburnt. You have a robust appetite, could get irritable if you skip meals. You have light but good sleep. You are bright and intellectual but could be excessively competitive and argumentative. You are prone to inflammation, heartburn and aggression. 

 

Kapha Dosha

Kapha-dominant individuals are like the nurturing earth with patient, loving personalities

Kapha Dosha is a combination of water and earth and is the energy of cohesion. It is cool, wet, oily, heavy, dense, static and stable. If Kapha dominates you could have a larger frame, tendency to gain weight, steady appetite, a loving, easy-going nature with a resistance to change. You could be prone to congestion, edema, sluggish digestion, weight gain, depression and lethargy. 

 

Dosha combinations

Your Prakriti could be:

Vata – Vata Dosha is predominant

Pitta – Pitta Dosha is predominant

Kapha – Kapha Dosha is predominant

Vata-Pitta – Vata and Pitta Doshas are both predominant over Kapha

Vata-Kapha Vata and Kapha Doshas are both predominent over Pitta

Pitta-Kapha – Pitta and Kapha Doshas are both predominant over Vata

Vata-Pitta-Kapha – this is a rare Prakriti in which all three Doshas are fairly equal; no Dosha is predomindant over any other

 

Determining your Prakriti

There are many online quizzes to determine Prakriti, but they have their anomalies and shortcomings. It is difficult to incorporate the skill of a trained Ayurvedic professional’s assessment into a digital format, so it is best done in an Ayurvedic consultation. 

Knowledge of your Prakriti helps you with a plan that has aided many achieve a breakthrough in their overall health.2 It’s also part of the healing transformation in our basic and level I certifications, the Holistic Ayurvedic Coach and Ayurvedic Health Counselor programs. Here are some examples of how you could benefit from knowledge of your Prakriti, just like our students and wellness seekers!

 

Ten ways knowledge of Prakriti can transform your health

 

1. Preventative health practices for total mind-body-spirit balance

Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in America, and a leading driver of healthcare costs, which makes preventative health so important.3

Consider Vata qualities like dryness and cold that eventually impact joint health. As a Vata person, you can be mindful of this right from childhood and balance them with opposite principles through hydrating, oleating with oil in your diet, regular self-massages, staying warm and eating warm foods. 

 

The various chutneys in Indian cuisine are how Ayurveda is intrinsically built into the culture: each individual can personalize the meal to their needs

2. Dietary habits to maximize nutrition, digestion and absorption

All food is classified in Ayurveda based on elemental compositions into Shadrasa, or six tastes, that are suitable in different amounts for the various types of Prakriti. All tastes are necessary for a balanced diet, though you will benefit from favoring or minimizing certain tastes at different times of the year and for your Prakriti. The tastes include sweet, salty, sour, bitter, astringent and pungent.

For example, as a Kapha person, you can follow a “Kapha diet” by favoring bitter, pungent and astringent tastes, and eat warm and light foods. Such simple adjustments can prevent heaviness, lethargy and congestion, especially during winter and spring – the Kapha seasons.  A Pitta diet would favor sweet, bitter and astringent tastes, and a Vata diet may emphasize sweet, salty and sour.

 

3. General lifestyle adjustments for feeling your best!

Your overall lifestyle is altered with a knowledge of Doshas

As someone who is Vata-Pitta, you know that you have a tendency to overdo things and burn out. To accommodate, you make time to go over your priorities each morning and eliminate anything which isn’t necessary. You also build in breaks for meals, walks and meditation, setting an alarm so you don’t forget. This helps you slow down consciously. 

 

4. Sleep patterns for better rest and improved energy

Sleep is one of the three pillars of health in Ayurveda and can make all the difference to your health. Sleep recommendations are personalized, too! 

If you’re a Kapha person, you don’t need as much sleep as any other Prakriti, and should avoid daytime sleep, especially during spring. This simple alteration can help with depression and respiratory ailments. 

 

5. Exercise and yoga guidelines

Exercise and yoga can be tailored to your unique Prakriti to ensure you get the most benefit, and no negative side effects from your activity.

As a Vata, you could have degenerative tendencies and need strengthening exercises and grounding yoga. Pitta are stronger but can be overly competitive and should avoid burnout. Kapha are known for taking things too easily, but have good strength and need more exercise! Reference this article on how yoga can be adapted to different Doshas. 

 

6. Select a job and hobbies to meet your needs

Your career and hobbies can align with your talents and tendencies through the knowledge of Doshas

Imagine a start-up company: Vata would have the brilliant idea, Pitta, the drive to set up the company and lead it and Kapha, the ability to sustain it! 

As a Kapha person, you would do well in customer service since Kapha tends to be patient and nurturing. As a Pitta, you could get triggered in an unorganized environment, and as a Vata person, you are likely to lose focus easily in long, ponderous meetings! Vata-Pitta could burn out easily, Pitta-Kapha are organized yet patient and Vata-Kapha have the creative ideas and wherewithal to sustain them! Knowing yourself helps you pick a career, optimize strengths and adapt your interactions with colleagues. 

 

Prakriti can be understood in terms of the relationships of the three energy principles, or Doshas, and this doesn’t just occur within each individual, but also between couples, groups and the interplay of Doshas in communities

7. Harmonious relationships and the ability to help family and community

What is the Prakriti of your family members and friends? As you delve deeper into Ayurveda, besides knowing yourself, you may be able to help your community make lifestyle adjustments. You would also be able to empathize with people better and have harmonious relationships! 

Have you encountered someone who gets angry and argumentative easily? This person could very well be Pitta dominant. Then there are those who are quiet and don’t express an opinion or preference easily. Most likely they are Kapha! You know not to be combative with a Pitta person, to enjoy the whimsical side of Vata and the stability a Kapha brings in a relationship! 

 

8. Adaptivity to your surroundings

You are a part of nature and adapting to it can help you with your health.  

A Vata, Pitta and Vata-Pitta aggravation is likely to get worse in dry, arid lands (Jangala Desha) but they can learn to balance this with awareness. Vata, Kapha and Vata-Kapha disorders are more common in marshy lands (Anupa desha). A more temperate climate (Sadharana Desha) is Dosha balancing. You can customize your diet and nutrition to balance the qualities of your surroundings. 

 

9. Adapting to daily, seasonal, natural rhythms and stages of the life cycle

Being mindful about natural rhythms can help you adapt your lifestyle. 

Afternoon is Pitta time and the best time to have your heaviest meal. Pitta is also more likely to be aggravated in young adults and in the summer. Knowing your constitution allows you to make adjustments to minimize these kinds of imbalances.

 

Knowledge of the Doshas and your Prakriti is power! You’ll view yourself and the rest of the world with a holistic lens for creating harmony

10. Mental health and stress management

Stress can lower immunity and render you susceptible to many diseases, Ayurveda is a holistic science that acknowledges the mind-body connection. Understanding your tendencies helps you manage stress. 

Are you a Pitta person who tends to fly off the handle? A Vata with a tendency to anxiety who needs to follow a routine, oleate and stay grounded?

Mental health management also involves an understanding of the Mental Doshas, or GunasSattva, Rajas and Tamas. You can read more about the Gunas and self-care here

 

Prakriti and natural healing

Prakriti teaches you about your entire mind-body system, and how you interact with people and your environment. While your Prakriti is unchanging, Vikritis or imbalances creep up and generate diseases based on your lifestyle, diet, stressors, environment, natural and external factors and genetic propensity. An Ayurvedic professional will work to assess both and generate a healthcare protocol to restore health naturally and holistically. 

The pandemic has also taught us the importance of preventative health, ensuring our immunity is strong and comorbidities are in check. The health of the community begins with the health of an individual and knowledge of your Prakriti is a powerful ally in healing yourself… and the world.

 

Notes
  1. Chronic Disease Center (NCCDPHP) | CDC
  2. Research on Prakriti: In Preventing Lifestyle Diseases
  3. About Chronic Diseases | CDC

 

REPRESENTATION MATTERS | Encouraging the Black community in Ayurveda: an interview with Dr. Tara Collins

Ayurveda is a form of traditional medicine in India and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in the US. It has been through its own journey of colonial oppression in India, its country of origin, during which time it wasn’t allowed to be practiced during British rule. Ayurveda was around long before India became a country, an estimated 5,000 years. This oppression led to broken lineages and difficulty in transmission of traditional knowledge that India is now working to overcome. Indeed, racism and discrimination is nothing short of a disease in the universal consciousness. Awareness, education, expression and open discussions play an important role in the journey to healing and change. Kerala Ayurveda believes that it is part of our Dharma to create wellness by educating ourselves, opening space for discussion in our community and working towards diversity and inclusion to help eradicate racism.
As part of this effort, we were honored to interview Dr. Tara Collins. Dr. Tara Collins is a board-certified psychiatrist, registered Yoga teacher and certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from Kerala Ayurveda, in the process of completing her Ayurvedic Wellness Practitioner (AWP) certification. She has set up an Integrative Psychiatry Practice (www.talapsych.com) in which she incorporates a holistic approach with psychiatry, yoga, meditation and Ayurvedic principles for the best outcomes for her patients. As a trailblazer in the Black community, she spoke to us about the steps we can take to improve inclusivity and representation in Ayurveda.

 

Dr. Tara Collins: Kerala Ayurveda Academy alumnus and Psychiatrist, UCSF; Founder, Tala Integrative Psychiatry, Yoga Teacher, Ayurvedic Counselor

How Dr. Collins got involved with Ayurveda

« I had a friend who suggested becoming a Yoga teacher, and in the course of the 200 [training] hours, we had one session on Ayurveda. I ended up reading a book by David Frawley, Yoga and Ayurveda, and reading about Vata and Vata imbalances sounded like me! I decided to look into it and was so excited to do AWC [Kerala’s level I certification program]. During psychiatry residency, a friend had also said she thought I was “really Vata” and needed to eat some grounding foods! A lot of the AWC training was to improve my own health and wellbeing, but then I started an integrative Ayurveda practice in October 2020. The response has been great; I have a whole lot of patients looking for holistic health.

Dr. Collins is encouraged by the reaction to holistic and culturally competent care and has a very diverse practice. She believes there’s much scope in integrative medicine and hopes this trend will continue as many people actively seek it out. Dr. Collins has also given lectures about Ayurveda, and in time will do more community presentations and start teaching Yoga through her practice. 

 

 

Medical school and encounters with racism

Dr. Collins is from Ohio and went to a historically Black college in Washington D.C. Transitioning afterwards to medical school in the South where she was a minority created a stark contrast in experience. There were 7 African Americans in the class of 110. She did experience racism, which was a huge and tough change; some of it was explicit and some in the form of microaggressions. 

« My other Black classmates and I did not have any Doctors in the family, or any experience like that, so this was really brand new to us. Many of our (non-Black) classmates grew up pretty wealthy and a lot of them had physicians in their families; they had a different level of ease, comfort and knowledge that we didn’t share. We often felt like the “others,” like outsiders in a very competitive school. I connected to some of my classmates really well, but for a lot of them it felt like we were in completely different worlds. Med School involves class work for the first two years and the next two years are in hospitals and clinics where I had experiences with patients who didn’t want me working with them. It was hard, but not all doom and gloom 100% of the time; I definitely made a lot of friends and learned a lot, but there were times it was really challenging.

 

Dr. Collins (center, rear) with fellow students and instructor Vaidya. Sheena Sooraj during a Kerala Ayurveda cooking class

 

The Ayurveda study experience

Dr. Collins moved to California 15 years ago, trained at University of California and stayed there, joining the faculty. 

« It is very different here in California. There still is racism – there’s racism everywhere – but it is a really different experience. It’s the same when I started with Kerala; I never felt like I did in medical school (like the Black person in the room), not at all. This is so much more diverse, open and welcoming.

Dr. Collins has travelled to India many times in the past couple of years. She’s been to S-Vyasa Yoga University and National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), visiting their Ayurveda and Yoga Units. She never felt out of place; people were enthused by her wanting to learn about these fields and were very helpful and welcoming. 

 

Healthcare for the Black community and how holistic health can help

The American medical institution has traditionally subjected Black bodies to cruel experimentation, exploitation and abuse throughout slavery and after. They uncovered corpses for study and sterilized Black women without their knowledge. Here are some examples: 

  • J Marion Sims, the ‘father of modern gynecology’ performed excruciatingly painful vesico-vaginal fistula surgeries to conduct experiments on Black women without anesthesia. 
  • There was the notorious Tuskegee Syphilis Study, in which 400 poor, uneducated Black sharecroppers were denied treatment for syphilis over 40 years. In 1932, U.S. Public Health recruited them to observe the natural history of untreated syphilis, under the guise of treating them. They watched many die avoidable deaths over time, even after a cure was found and many wives and children were infected. 
  • Henrietta Lacks is another example; she was the source of the first line of ‘immortal’ human cells to be cloned back in the 1950s, about 20 ton cells have been grown by researchers, but the cells were harvested without her knowledge and permission and the family medical records published without consent. 

 

A doctor and patient interaction during the Tuskegee Syphilis Study (National Archives Atlanta, GA – U.S. government)

« The Black community has a sense that the medical system is not for them. They are treated differently, their symptoms are not respected. It is believed they are faking matters or exaggerating to get drugs. Many patients don’t feel heard or seen and are often misdiagnosed. There is the history of the Tuskegee Experiment, HeLa cells, Sims’ atrocities, and people wonder why they should trust the medical system. There is a lot for Black health professionals to restore trust. I don’t blame patients for being leery because it’s not been a good experience at all; it feels like there are two different healthcare systems, just like it feels like there are two different countries.

When it comes to holistic practices, it can help with health inequity and prevention but a big part of it just seems to be education. Many people, Black or otherwise, just don’t know about Ayurveda. And that’s a starting point. Establishing trust and connection is the other priority: that Ayurveda genuinely is for everybody and Ayurvedic professionals are here to help them.

 

Dr. Collins’ job at UCSF has included an African American focus that she really appreciates, and many Black people have never had a Black psychiatrist before. It’s a completely different experience for them. 

At Kerala Ayurveda, we raise the question: what can we in the Ayurvedic community do about this? As Ayurveda integrates psychology and the mind seamlessly, Ayurvedic professionals always serve as a counselor. This methodology can help us to understand the Black experience. Since there has been an issue of systemic racism, discomfort amongst clients, and a lack of Black representation in the medical community, an opportunity exists for Ayurvedic professionals to seek representation in the community, and at the very least, for non-Black practitioners to understand and heal trans-generational trauma and create a space of trust. 

 

What we can do to encourage more Ayurveda students and Ayurvedic healthcare in the Black community

Dr. Collins was the only Black student in her class at Kerala Ayurveda and she shared many ideas about outreach and encouraging Black students to study Ayurveda. She also discussed ways to create awareness and provide access to Ayurvedic healthcare to the Black community by being sensitive to their needs as a community and meeting them where they are at. 

 

Community outreach and education

Dr. Collins in her Blac-cinated tee

« We have to meet the Black community where they are and understand their needs. Outreach will involve a lot of creative ways: for some people it will be in person, for others online, and for yet others it will be partnering with trusted people in the community to get the message out. People who are part of the Black community need to be involved in the outreach as they can speak to the experiences of the community.

Dr. Collins suggests doing community presentations in churches or community centers and finding groups where we can reach maximum people. She also suggested setting up free healthcare fairs in Black neighborhoods, which was something they did in Medical School, to introduce people to Ayurveda and its offerings. This is difficult with COVID-19, but can be done through online events or in person when the pandemic abates. In some areas, outdoor events are already on the rise.

 

Creating familiarity and establishing trust with Black clients

« More people in the U.S. need to be educated about the benefits of Ayurveda, as do the Black community, and they need to trust Ayurveda is for everyone.

Dr. Collins added that seeing Ayurvedic practitioners from the Black community would help the Black community gain trust, which is part of why Kerala Ayurveda initiated this interview series. It does not have to be up to Black practitioners alone to carve out their individual visibility; we as an Ayurvedic community can support this effort. 

Another way to make Ayurveda more accessible is through offering discounts to avail of services (on a sliding scale as needed). Until Ayurveda is a licensed medical profession and can generally accept insurance, making it accessible to the Black community will require bridging this financial gap. Another potential way the community can support this effort is through partnerships between diversely trained professionals, to create integrative practices with a potential license. Individuals must still operate within their scope of practice, though an integrative effort enables referrals, which ensures clients receive the best care they need.

 

Dr. Collins (left) showing off a perfectly wrapped bolus, used for Panchakarma skin therapies with classmates and instructor Alka Mulakaluri

Encouraging Black students to Ayurveda

Mentoring of Black students could help…. as would any other opportunities for education, outreach and connection.

Dr. Collins agreed that offering scholarships for Black students is a good idea, as is setting up an Ayurvedic group similar to the Black Yoga Teacher Alliance. Having people who are part of both communities would lend credibility and trust to such a venture, and she would love to participate in it! 

An example of this effort in progress is the National Ayurvedic Medical Association’s (NAMA) Diversity and Inclusion Committee, launched in August 2020. Committee Chair, Tesia Love told us that they are currently doing three rounds of anti-racism, diversity and inclusion training for NAMA members that will be uploaded and available for other members as well. They wish to be strategic in their approach, and once the training sessions are concluded, they will do an internal assessment and discuss plans, programs, opportunities, resources and outreach for all students.

 

Preventative Health education

« Preventative health suggestions from Ayurveda, and how to incorporate it with limitations and limited resources would help the Black community. People can get turned off with expensive suggestions. There are different levels of wealth that we need to be sensitive to and suggest simple things that can be done at home, for instance, how can you incorporate yoga without needing to be super flexible or go to a yoga studio, or do a self massage. Similarly, for food suggestions, if you’re in a food desert and do not have a lot of access to vegetables, coming up with ideas to operate within a budget would help. For example, frozen and canned foods can be made to work. Also, culturally, the cuisine may be different and pairing up with a Black chef in the community to provide culturally pertinent recipes that are suited to different Doshas would help. 

Dr. Collins asserted that education on lifestyle factors, daily routine and seasonal modifications could help the Black community. Ayurveda provides guidelines, not rules, and there is much adaptability available to professionals for making it work no matter the client’s situation. She also explained that we need to design suggestions based on the history of disproportionate health issues, and incidence of stress and trauma in the community. 

 

Supporting book stores have entire sections devoted to resources for allies

Education for allies to the Black community

Dr. Collins recommends that Ayurvedic organizations and schools get involved with implementing these suggestions to reach the Black community in a meaningful way.

« They could add some targeting the Black community, and to get more bang for your bucks, focus on topics that are salient to Black communities. This would help create awareness about Ayurveda as an option in holistic health.

We talked about how allies should educate themselves about the challenges that Black people face in being included and integrated in the community, and assess how to genuinely help and be proactive in providing solutions and opportunities. We also discussed supporting Black herbalists and related businesses, and highlighting successful people in the holistic health community. As mentioned earlier in this article, being able to relate to the faces of the industry can inspire newcomers to explore what Ayurveda has to offer. It also builds strength and awareness to the effort through providing education to other allies.

She also suggested that we continue to educate ourselves. Very often people ask Black people about what is happening to them, when they’re already swamped by the challenges and may not be able to hold space for a conversation. There are wonderful books and resources to get a sense of their history and experiences (read more here), uncover one’s individual blockages to work on, and find ways to make a change. Learning what to do is just as important as what not to do. This research will allow you to make yourself available to people who need support in genuine and effective ways. 

 

What would be the most important step in taking action on diversity in Ayurveda?

After a lot of helpful dialogue and wonderful insights from our interviewee, we had to ask Dr. Collins this pivotal question.

« We need to inspire people from the Black community to study or trust Ayurveda as clients.

One challenge Dr. Collins anticipates is finding more Black practitioners in the community to form groups and facilitate mentoring. We discussed that it should be ok to ask that question of Ayurveda groups online and in schools, so that these groups can be formed, which would inspire newcomers and foster inclusion and diversity. 

« I am comfortable with this conversation, as one of the few Black women in my  department at UCSF and in similar organizations, I’ve already talked a lot about my experiences, what they have been like and what can be done to bring about change.

 

Black Lives Matter mural in Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Dr. Collins’ advice to the Black community

Dr. Collins has weathered challenges to become a successful, integrative healing practitioner. From her experience, she has advice for her community.

« I’d like to tell the Black community: there are challenges and it’s difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it and you can’t succeed. There are a lot of people out there who want to help. It’s unfortunate that it’s not always easy to find them, but you can certainly get support for your ventures. People feel they’re struggling alone, but that’s not the case. While it’s challenging, you can get the help you seek; you can do this!

It’s our goal at Kerala Ayurveda to build a safe and welcoming space for the Black community at our Academy and Wellness Center. Talking to Dr. Collins is truly inspiring for us in the effort to change how our community approaches racism. While we know that a holistic community like Ayurveda is already heart-centered, the world needs us to take new and novel action. Stalwarts like Dr. Collins help in advancing Ayurveda and guiding many on this beautiful journey of healing. To have medical professionals include holistic health in their practice is a significant step in the direction of integrative health. We hope we can heal some of the wounds of a racist past and foster a kinder, more inclusive community with the values of Vasudev Kutumbakam (One World Family).  

 

About Dr. Tara Collins

Dr. Collins graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Biology from Howard University, and received her M.D. and M.P.H. at Emory University.  She completed an adult psychiatry residency, where she served as Chief Resident of Intensive Services, and a forensic psychiatry fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco.  She is board certified in adult psychiatry and forensic psychiatry. As an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Collins is passionate about patient care, teaching, and mentoring. She has presented at local and national conferences and is published in academic journals. Dr. Collins is active in the community, partnering with local nonprofit organizations to teach emotional competence workshops and dream interpretation, and serves on the board of two nonprofit community agencies. She also teaches yoga classes at Ocean Beach Yoga and throughout the community. Visit www.talapsych.com to find out more about her practice. 

Interviewed by Anuradha Gupta, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Engineer, MBA, Content Specialist Copywriter, Kerala Ayurveda 

 


Feedback + want to participate in our diversity series?

We welcome and appreciate your feedback so we can continue expanding our efforts to dissolve racism in a meaningful way. If you or someone you know should be interviewed on this topic, please let us know! Contact: help@keralaayurveda.us.

 

Ayurveda and mental health for pandemic recovery

What are the fundamental principles in Ayurveda that govern mental health? In this article, we’ll explore how the ancient wisdom guides us to care for mental health, naturally. We’ll also uncover the revelatory connection between mental health and immunity.

 

« During pandemics, people who are not mentally resilient require extra assistance, breaking down with low thresholds for trauma and showing poor stress management

—Dr. Bhattacharya, Bhattacharya, Fulbright Specialist, Public Health-Integrative Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College and an Ayurvedic Practitioner

The COVID-19 pandemic led to another crisis: it took a major toll on the mental health of millions across the globe. The past year, many people experienced increased worry about their health, jobs and their loved ones. Many have suffered from loneliness or lack of space in relationships, and are continually anxious about the economy and how the future will unfold. The latest data reveals staggering spikes in anxiety, depression, substance use, drug overdose and suicide rate. A recent survey by the CDC  on adult mental health found that more than 40% of U.S. adults have reported at least one mental health issue during this pandemic, and more than 1 in 10 adults had seriously considered suicide. During this period, 7 out of 10 young adults (18-24 years old) reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression, and more than 25% have seriously considered suicide.

What better time to talk about Ayurveda and mental health?! Vaidya. Jayarajan Kodikannath, Director of Kerala Ayurveda USA addressed this in a “Wednesday Wisdom” Facebook live session with the insight that stress is our own internal response to circumstances outside of us. There was an outpouring of concerns participants shared, from loneliness to extended media time, insomnia, anxiety, food cravings and worries about the future. Let’s look at the Ayurvedic perspective of how this occurs and what we can do about it for ourselves, clients and dear ones.

 

Ayurvedic psychology and mind-body connection

Case scenario: Sam’s linked anxiety

10-year-old Sam’s Mom takes him to a Vaidya (Ayurvedic Doctor) because he has allergies and asthma. The minute Sam sits across from him, he bursts into tears. His Vaidya very kindly reassures him, “Don’t worry, you’ve revealed what is bothering you.” Sam has an anxiety diagnosis from his therapist, and his Vaidya has observed how this is linked to his other symptoms as a severe imbalance of the Vata Dosha, or air and ether energy principle. He has the typical expressions: the allergies and asthma, which his mom has observed; additionally, he experiences sensitivity, random aches and pains, restlessness, sleep issues and spacey dreams. After a protocol of Vata management, not only do Sam’s asthma symptoms improve but his anxiety reduces, and he grows in confidence. 

 

Mind and body: it’s all the same

Ayurveda defines health as Swasthya (being balanced in the self), enumerated in the root text, Sushruta Samhita as:

Sama Dosha Sama Agnischa Sama Dhatu Mala Kriyaha |   
Prasanna Atma Indirya Manaha Swastha Iti Abhideyate ||

 

Health is a state of equilibrium of the Doshas (energy principals), Agni (digestive and metabolic fire),  Dhatus (tissues), Malas (excretion) and homoeostasis involving a blissful state of spirit, sense organs and mind. 

Ayurveda is a holistic science that clearly acknowledges the mind-body correlation. Ayurvedic mental health management (Manas Shastra) focuses on prevention through gentle, natural, effective and long lasting means to reduce the tendency of recurrence. Its healing methods promote higher self awareness, balance in the body and contentment in the mind. Psychiatric ailments are clubbed under “Unmada.” Ayurveda does not stigmatize mental health and every Ayurvedic intake delves into a Sattva Pariksha, or mental analysis as part of the classical Dasvidha Pareeksha, or ten fold wellness assessment. Modern medicine is increasingly emphasizing the the mind-body correlation, the gut-brain axis, and has linked stress and anxiety to cardiac ailments, gastrointestinal issues and type 2 diabetes. 

 

Ayurvedic science of mental health

We’ve all had days sitting around like couch potatoes, munching junk, binge watching shows and feeling lethargic; other days when we’ve been super productive and competitive and yet others when we’ve felt strong, light, inspired and happy for no apparent reasons. 

 

Gunas and mental health

There are three attributes of the mind:

  • Tamas is synonymous with laziness and lethargy. It has its role: it enables us to sleep and be restful. In an imbalanced state, it can lead to depression or serious psychological disorders such as suicidal tendencies, in which case one must seek professional help. 
  • Rajas is at the opposite scale of Tamas, characterized by activity and pursuing one’s passion. Extreme Rajas leads to physical restlessness and an inability to relax. In a Rajasic state, you could be bombarded with thoughts and exhibit impatience, indecisiveness, irritability, anger and aggression. In a pathological state, Tamas is like violence towards the self while Rajas can be equated with violence towards the outside world. 
  • Sattva: You can’t live devoid of Tamas and Rajas; Tamas is needed to rest and Rajas is needed to act. Sattva is the natural state of the mind in balance; a pure, clear quality of the mind that enables you to relax, be in harmony and feel cheerful while giving your 100% effort in getting things done. Sattva endows us with good mental health, happiness and wisdom. 

 

Doshas and mental health 

The three energies that influence the structure, function, tendencies and affinities of the body are called Doshas and our unique body constitution or Prakriti is a combination of these. It is determined at the time of conception and while Gunas can change, our basic Prakriti does not. When Doshas are in balance, the mind is balanced and pleasant. Vata personality people tend to be creative and imaginative; Pitta-dominant people are intellectual, analytical and motivated; and a Kapha personality is nurturing and loving. 

A person with Vata dominating would typically have the brilliant, creative idea to commence a startup, a Pitta person would have the fire to implement the idea and lead the company, and a Kapha person would nurture and hold the stable ground to maintain and keep it going as a steady business. 

A Vikriti or imbalance in the Doshas impacts the mind or Manovaha Srotas (body channel responsible for mental function). Here are some typical expressions: 

  • Vata imbalance manifests as restlessness, fear, anxiety and loss of focus; faith and grounding are an antidote. 
  • Pitta imbalance manifests as anger and irritability and showing compassion and letting go of judgements are an antidote.
  • Kapha imbalance manifests as lethargy and depression and valor and non-attachment are key to letting go. 

 

Conversely, when the mind is in a state of imbalance, the Doshas can go out of balance. For instance, if you encounter grief and fear, Vata Dosha could go out of balance. A Vata pacifying protocol would involve utilizing a routine, nurturing practices, unctuous warm food with sweet, sour and salty tastes in the Shadrasa (six tastes according to Ayurveda), warming spices, Abhyanga (self massage), light, restorative yoga and meditation. Cleansing or Shodhana is an important guideline here because not only does it help in getting rid of imbalances, it also prevents future imbalances.

 

Causes of mental imbalances (Manovikara)

Succumbing to food cravings? Binge watching TV instead of working? Cut yourself some slack; awareness of the factors at play helps restore balance. 

Other than a genetic propensity, the same factors that cause disease at the physical level impact mental health, but one that we pay particular attention to is Prajnapradha

 

Parinama  – time

The external environment impacts diseases, like an extreme variation in temperature. Awareness of these factors helps in restoring balance, for instance following Ritucharya guidelines to balance Vata during fall would help with conditions like anxiety, insomnia and focus-related issues that are linked to Vata and could get aggravated.  

Asathmya Indriyartha samyoga missuse of senses

Improper and excessive utilization of the sense organs results in under- or overstimulation of senses, which can harm our mind-body complex.

Prajnaparadha – an insult to the intellect

This is the main cause of mental disorders  (caused by Rajas and Tamas) in which we knowingly indulge in wrong speech, actions and thoughts. This involves Dhi (intellect), Dhrti (will power) and Smriti (memory) going out of balance. These are the working parts of the brain, and if they’re in order, we make good decisions that nurture better physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health. 

 

Ojas, immunity, and mental health

Strengthening Vyadhikamatvam, or immunity, is correlated with Ojas. Ojas is overall vitality and strength, including mental health. Boosting mental health also has a positive impact on immunity and Ojas. Ojas is the essence of all the bodily tissues and the ultimate resort of both our nutrition and our genetic inborn strength. Depleted Ojas impacts mental health, and psychological factors like grief or anxiety could trigger a depletion in Ojas and immune resistance. A paper on the “Public Health Approach of Ayurveda and Yoga for COVID-19 Prophylaxis” discusses that the  concept of stimulating immune function is a cornerstone of Ayurvedic practice in an integrative approach. 

Another study emphasizes that psychological distress is a common response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which may affect the immune response to respiratory infections. It points out two scientific models corroborating Ayurveda’s efficacy:

  1. Evidence of the link between nervous, endocrine and immune systems; stress and emotional disorders can modulate the immune response in infections.
  2. Psychoneuroimmunology and the ‘meaning response’ – what effect does a treatment that works via a non-conventional ‘scientific’ paradigm have, through the meaning ascribed to it. For instance how are certain herbs ‘perceived’ as strengthening?

 

Dr. David Frawley, a world-renowned authority in Vedic Studies, Yoga and Ayurveda talks about improving our individual and collective physical and psychological immunity during the pandemic with Yoga and Ayurveda. He stresses the importance of both physical and psychological immunity. Psychological immunity is indicated by our ability to withstand difficulties, opposition, stress and uncertainty. It is also indicated by our capacity to tune in with the peace of our own inner Being and Divine Self. Much of Frawley’s life work has been devoted to translating the ancient texts and illuminating how  Yoga, mantra, connecting with nature and meditation can increase our psychological immunity. 

Ayurvedic management of mental health enhances immunity as it inherently acknowledges the connection between both. For better mental health, Ayurveda works towards homeostasis by balancing Doshas, which leads to better Ojas and immunity. 

 

Traditional Ayurvedic management of mental health

Ayurvedic protocol involves a thorough assessment of constitution (Prakriti) and imbalance (Vikriti), from which customized suggestions are developed by the practitioner. The following are common therapies used for cases of mental health.

 

Daivyavyapashraya

Spiritual therapy that includes the use of prayer, Mantra, chanting and wearing precious stones. Faith in nature, a higher power or as per one’s personal belief system helps alleviate stress. Pandemics are part of the Japapada Dvamsa Vyadhi discussion in Charaka Samhita, the Ayurvedic root text; in ancient times they would play drums in unison across the land during epidemics and people would clap which was a type of marma for the heart, lungs and kidney and would help raise Prana or the subtle life force. 

 

Satvavajaya

Ayurveda recommends psycho-behavioral therapy by a qualified Ayurvedic Practitioner.

 

Yuktivyapashraya chikitsa

Includes Shodhana (cleansing therapies/Panchkarma), and Shamana (pacification or palliation) with herbs, nutrition and lifestyle therapy with emphasis on Medhya Rasayanas like Guduchi or Amruth, Brahmi, Yashtimadhu, Amalaki, Ashwagandha, Shanka Pushi, Vacha, Holy Basil, Guggulu, Brahmi Ghrita, Kalyanaka Ghrita, Chyawanprash and Manasamitra Vatakam.

 

Achara Rasayana 

Mental hygiene practices  There is a concept of psycho-neurological immunology (PNI) in modern medicine; neuro-hormones that enhance immunity, which is similar to Achara Rasayana or rejuvenation through practices like being truthful, non violent, practising meditation and cultivating a positive state of mind.

 

Other techniques 

Yoga, Pranayama, Meditation, self reflection and Marma Therapy help alleviate stress, boost immunity and increase Sattva. Sadvrutta practices like preventive health routines, following natural rhythms and codes of conduct that improve mental, physical and social health enhance resilience. Soothing the senses and avoiding sensory overload calms the mind and  is part of a Dinacharya practice that includes:

  • Eyes/Visual – Akshi Tarpana, Color Therapy, periodically resting the eyes and doing eye exercises 
  • Nose/Smell/Respiration – Nasya, Neti Pot, steam inhalation and Aromatherapy with essential oils
  • Skin/Tactile – Abhyanga, Shirodhara and Marma. These practices go much beyond soothing the tactile sense and are employed in many therapeutic ways. 
  • Ears/Hearing – Karna Poorna (medicated oil in the ears), Chanting and Soothing music 
  • Tongue/Taste – Tongue cleaning, having nourishing food at regular meal times, herbal teas, avoiding overeating

 

COVID-19 recovery could be arduous and it is commendable that the Indian government has issued guidelines that pay attention to the vital aspect of mental health by recommending in an integrative manner, Ayurveda, herbs like Turmeric milk and Chyawanprash, Yoga, counseling and social support. India is the birthplace of Ayurveda where it is practiced as a form of medicine and gives paramount importance to holistic health. 

The entire consciousness is connected and this is a tough time we are navigating. In the words of Dr. Frawley, “Outer difficulties push us back on our inner strength. We have been relying too much on external factors for our wellbeing. We must recognize that our ultimate strength lies within our own consciousness for which this current human life is but one episode in a greater cosmic existence.” 

 

Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah Sarve Santu Nir Amayaah
Sarve Bhandraani Pashyantu Maa Kaschid Dukha Bhaag Bhavet 
Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi
May all beings be happy, may none fall ill, may all behold auspiciousness everywhere, may none ever encounter sorrow. May there be peace. 

 


Note
  1. What Are the Mental Health Effects of COVID-19? (Psychology Today)
  2. Coping with Stress (CDC)
  3. The Connection Between Mental & Physical Health (Psychcentral)
  4. Public Health Approach of Ayurveda and Yoga for COVID-19 Prophylaxis (Liebert Pub)
  5. Ayurveda and Covid-19 (psychological distress and immunity); contemporary scientific models (Science Direct)
  6. Meditation and Yoga Practices as possible adjunctive prevention and treatment for Covid-19 study (Liebert Pub)
  7. COVID-19 pandemic: A pragmatic plan for Ayurveda intervention (Science Direct)
  8. Harvard recommends Yoga, Meditation and Breathwork for Covid-19 anxiety (Harvard Health)
  9. Coronavirus Prevention: Boost immunity with Ayurveda and Yoga (Organiser)
  10. Dr Vasant Lad shares the Ayurvedic perspective on Covid-19 (Ayurveda.com)
  11. Ayurveda can play a significant role in the fight against Coronavirus (Weather Channel)

  

Upskill to the level II Ayurvedic practitioner program

In a quest to be productive, we live in a stressful world. Technology and advancements ought to have made us healthier and more resilient; yet, we are in the midst of a pandemic, back to the drawing board stage worried about matters such as boosting immunity and managing comorbidities. World over, chronic and stress related disorders abound. At home in the U.S., six in ten people suffer from lifestyle-based disorders, such as, type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, lung, kidney and joint diseases and certain forms of cancer. We have ignored two aspects of health: prevention through diet and lifestyle management, and personalized disease management. The 5,000 year old wisdom of Ayurveda addresses both. With more and more people turning to complementary and alternative medicine and integrative solutions, Ayurvedic wellness training offers a unique opportunity for career advancement in the new age which is unfolding.

The Ayurvedic Wellness Practitioner (AWP) program is a 1,000 hour, 1.5 year level II course, as part of our advanced Ayurvedic training offerings. It is approved by the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) for level II professional competencies. 

 

In a snapshot, the educational journey to level II includes:

 

As Ayurvedic Counselors, you learned to align people with nature and balance their intrinsic constitution. However, many people do have allied conditions they’d like to address and the Ayurveda Practitioner training helps you understand the etiology and management of diseases. You are also able to guide people with creating balance in much greater depth. The advanced Ayurvedic training imparts the clinical skills to help people heal holistically from physical or mental imbalances by addressing the root cause of diseases rather than providing symptomatic relief. 

 

Learn about upskilling from our Academy Director

Our Academy Director, Vaidya. Jayarajan Kodikannath (BSc, BAMS) discusses upskilling from Level I to Level II AWP 

 

Benefits of studying the Ayurvedic Practitioner Program 

AWP provides advanced clinical training in disease management that includes both theory and practice through case studies. The course combines the best of classical Ayurvedic texts with modern clinical application. You learn personalized disease management of clients based on treating the individual holistically. You are trained to make a detailed clinical assessment of the disease process, pathways and device management protocols in different disease stages. You have access to the knowledge of additional herbs and Vedic formulations and the Shamana (pacification) and Shodhana (cleansing) strategies are more comprehensive, in-depth and robust.  

You can now practice as independent Ayurvedic Wellness Practitioners. Our graduates are trailblazers, redefining health care. Many of our alumni set up independent practices or join integrative practices while some add Ayurvedic consulting to their existing healthcare practice. Some continue with study or research, others become educators and yet others use their entrepreneurial drive to set up manufacturing companies or blogs, become chefs, retailers or writers. 

 

The journey includes:

  • Core Ayurvedic principles for holistically optimizing life’s purpose and potential
  • Assessment of individual constitution, imbalances and means to restore homeostasis
  • A clinical understanding of the etiology and pathogenesis of diseases
  • In-depth diet, herbs, formulations and lifestyle practices for pacification and knowledge of detailed cleansing therapies
  • Personalized and holistic disease management
  • Research for detailed study and community presentations for outreach
  • Self-assessment and self-care tools
  • Clinical internships to be able to handle clients independently and with confidence

 

What makes Kerala Ayurveda Academy’s program unique

  1. Lineage: KAA has the backing of a 75 year lineage of Kerala Ayurveda India and US in teaching and practicing authentic, traditional Ayurveda from root principals. Globally, we touch almost a million lives every year and Kerala Ayurveda is an industry leader in high quality, traditional Ayurvedic herbal products, healing centers, research and Ayurvedic wellness training and education.  
  2. Comprehensive Program: This is one of the most comprehensive NAMA-approved programs available in the US for an Ayurvedic clinician that includes live-streamed and in class modules, virtual classes, recorded lectures and material, assessments, projects, case studies, community presentations, research papers and clinical internship. 
  3. Pre-clinical Modules: The AWP course builds on the modules of the level I of training in much greater detail including clinical assessment, herbology and pharmaceuticals and Panchakarma. 
  4. Clinical Modules: The Level II course delves into clinical modules of disease management of the gastrointestinal, nervous, musculoskeletal, respiratory, mind and other systems.
  5. Faculty: KAA has a highly experienced premier faculty of Vaidyas and practitioners who bring their vast clinical experience in teaching, research and practice into the classroom to provide a rich learning experience. 
  6. Team: Our team members are graduates of the AWC program and passionate about Ayurveda. We are committed to advancing Ayurveda and supporting future generations of Ayurvedic professionals learn, grow and flourish. 
  7. KAA Student Network: KAA has been teaching the AWP program in the US for over a decade and has a diverse network of students across US and internationally that are collaborating in various fields and advancing Ayurveda together. 
  8. In-class and distance learning options: The AWP program can be completed in-class or online through live-streamed classes. Distance learners get to interact with teachers and peers in a live-streamed setting.
  9. In-person Internship: 200 hours or 4 weeks of in-person clinical internship is mandatory and supervised by Ayurvedic Vaidyas to create confident, capable practitioners who have hands-on experience. 
  10. Internship Options: The clinical internship for AWP is offered in both US and India, open to students and graduates from other programs and AWP alumni for continuing education. The U.S. Clinical Internship is offered in five day, week-long sessions at our Wellness Center in California. AWP students may attend four sessions to complete their 200 hour requirement, or supplement one week with an Externship.
  11. India Internship Option: There is a unique opportunity to intern in India, shadowing Ayurvedic Vaidyas in a setting where Ayurveda is a regular medical practice and with access to Kerala Ayurveda’s extensive infrastructure in India in an authentic, exotic setting as a one-of-a-kind experience. Our India Internship is offered in 15-day sessions for a total of 150 hours, which can be supplemented by one week of our U.S. Clinical Internship to complete the 200 hour requirement. 
  12. Allied programs and continuing education: During the Ayurvedic wellness training, you are ably supported by teachers, class moderators and have access to mentors and support services. Alumni have continued access to the curriculum even after graduation and discounts on products and programs. You can also enroll for continuing education courses like monthly clinical case studies, courses in Pulse Diagnosis, Vedic Formulations and Ashtanga Hridayam series to name a few. 

 

Ayurveda Practitioner training expands your range of knowledge and the healing you can provide. We are deeply committed to your Ayurvedic education and delighted to be on this healing journey with you!

 

“Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
Sarve Santu Niramayaah |
Sarve Bhadrani Pashyantu
Maa Kashcid Dukha Bhaag Bhavet
Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi ||”

Translation: May all beings be happy, free from disease, witness what is auspicious, may no one suffer, may there be peace. 

 

Connect with our Enrollment Advisors to start building your future

If you are wondering how to fit Ayurvedic study into your life for your unique goals, our Admissions team is happy to connect with you. Our Enrollment Advisors are available for one-on-one sessions to support you in planning your learning journey. Complete our contact form and we’ll be in touch!

 

To learn more, join our next informational webinar

Tuesday, March 30 at 8am Pacific

Learn More

 

 

 

How Ayurveda and Panchakarma supports a Massage Therapy practice

Ayurveda or the “Science of Life” is a 5,000 year old medical practice from India, recognized by WHO and a Complementary and Alternative Practice (CAM) in the US. It is a holistic traditional science of mind-body-spirit wellness which is preventative in nature and helps in managing ailments through addressing the root cause of disorders. It is also called a lifestyle science because its three pillars of health are nutrition, lifestyle and sleep. From this foundation, Ayurveda also uses various tools in disease management: herbs, therapies like Yoga, Abhyanga and Shirodhara, and a comprehensive, detailed cleansing known as Panchakarma
Like Ayurveda, Massage Therapy is considered a CAM and has been used since ancient times in cultures across the world. It has been utilized for a variety of health concerns, such as relieving pain, rehabilitating sports injuries, relaxation, alleviating stress, and general preventative health and wellness. According to a 2019 AMTA finding, 19% of Americans have talked to their doctors about the potential benefits of massage at some point in the past year. More than 30% of Americans are using some form of alternative therapy, which includes Ayurveda1. There is a clear synergy between the goals of Ayurveda and Massage Therapy. In fact, massage therapies are embedded within the practice of Ayurveda.2

 

Ayurveda’s approach to massage therapy

Ayurveda uses massage as a therapeutic practice intensively. According to Ben Kaminsky, eminent dermatological chemist, “Ayurvedic massage, an ancient therapy that focuses on relaxation and the prevention of disease, is a spa favorite used for stress-related illnesses, to reverse the damage from negative lifestyle habits, and to maintain balance in the body.” Kaminsky is also an author and Co-Founder of B Kamins Labs, the leading cosmeceutical skincare company catering to the global luxury spa market. 

 

 

Ayurvedic massages conjure a vision of the therapeutic ambience of popular massage techniques like Abhyanga, Shirodhara and Swedana that several clinics and health spas around the world offer as “bliss massage techniques.” These services are utilized by health conscious visitors, tourists and local wellness seekers alike. Their style of delivery varies across venues, from hospitals to Ayurvedic resorts, and even hotels in India offer the treatments at their spas.

 

Oil is love

Abhyanga, a full body massage rhythmic strokes, traditionally with two therapists working in unison utilizing warm medicinal oils, helps to energize, reduce stress and muscle stiffness, plus promote  lymphatic drainage. Shirodhara, a continuous pouring of warm oil on the forehead, alleviates anxiety and insomnia, while Swedana, an herbal steam bath improves circulation and helps with various conditions like asthma, osteoarthritis and lower back pain. External Snehana oil application or Abhyanga has a beautiful connotation in the ancient Sanskrit language: Sneha means “oil” as well as “self-care” and “love.” These are time honored, nourishing, therapeutic, exquisite and exotic techniques. 

 

Creating an edge with Ayurveda for a massage practice

Dr. Raichur of Manhattan-based Pratima Spa explains that she uses Ayurvedic wisdom for both an internal and external approach. She offers Ayurvedic consultation-based massages (identifying Ayurvedically what kind of therapy a client needs – explained later in this article). Her beauty institution is renowned with a high-profile client list like model Constance Jablonski, writer Fariha Roisin and 3rd Ritual founder Jenn Tardif. 

Martha Soffer, Ayurvedic Doctor at Surya Spa, CA who offers Panchakarma treatments and massages asserts, “I want to remind myself and others that the body is a temple. Your body is the only thing that will be with you from the moment you’re born until the moment you die. It’s your only true home. We need to be more conscious and take better care of our bodies.” 

Six In ten Americans have a chronic lifestyle based disorder.3 With the focus on immunity during the COVID-19 pandemic, people have become much more health conscious, as well as open to alternative options. This is a promising trend for Ayurvedic bodywork rising in mainstream consciousness.

There are many ways Ayurveda can help you create an edge in your practice like Dr. Raichur and Martha Soffer and be on top of the growing wave of integrative massage practices. Here’s how!

 

A holistic approach for seasonal, individualized healing

Ayurveda allows you to assess clients based on their body constitution and imbalance, using the knowledge of daily, seasonal and age variations. According to Ayurveda the five elements combine to give three different energy principals or Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and it is the combination of these at the time of conception that determines our body constitution or Prakriti. Health is a state of balance which we try to restore by eliminating Vikratis (imbalances). Ayurveda also recommends detailed practices aligned with daily cardiac rhythms, seasonal and aging cycles. 

Even if you are using any other form of massage therapy, such as Swedish, Thai, Shiatsu, hot-stone, deep-tissue, or trigger-point, Ayurvedic insights can help you further customize these practices. For example, a client with a Vata Dosha imbalance may benefit from a slow, warm, meditative, relaxing massage. A Pitta-dominant client may enjoy a light Swedish massage in the summer, or a massage with a cooling oil that is coconut-based. Meanwhile, a Kapha client might need a vigorous, stimulating massage. Ayurvedic study provides you the framework and tools for determining the balance of Doshas in your client as well as the season in order to make these personalizations.

 

Target the root issue of mind-body-spirit imbalance

There are many types of Ayurvedic therapies meant for deep healing and for targeting specific ailments like degenerative diseases of joints, muscle stiffness, chronic headaches, insomnia, spine issues, hair loss, anxiety, and more. An individual therapy or combination of therapies can be used, and the ingredients for them can also be personalized to the individual need.

 

Some examples of these therapies include:

Abhyanga – vigorous body massage with herbalized oil

Shirodhara – a gentle flow of oil applied to the forehead  

Swedana – heated steam therapy

Garshana – dry exfoliating massage using a silk glove

Nasya – nasal application of medicated oil in a prescribed way

Udwarthana – dry powder massage for lifestyle and metabolic disorders

Kati Basti – warm medicated oil retained in the sacral or lumbar region within a specially formed frame; this can be done in other body parts like the knee joint for pain relief and alleviating joint disorders

Pizhichil – also called the royal bath, it means “squeezing”: to have a warm stream of oil pour down the body which helps in nervine conditions and Vata Dosha aggravation

 

Marma points and Chakras, which are powerful energetic points of the body, can be targeted in therapies to more directly address an imbalance. Cleansing herbs and therapies help in lymphatic drainage. These are traditional time-honored techniques used very effectively in enhancing overall wellness and in various disorders. 

 

Use personalized therapeutic oils and herbs

In Ayurveda, oils are used as a vehicle for herbs. The herbs have therapeutic properties and oils penetrate the lymphatic system and bind with toxins to assist in detoxification. The herbal oils also assist relaxation,  increase the flow of Prana or life force energy. There are a wide variety of Ayurvedic oils because there are a wider variety of herbal formulations and combinations with different types of oils. These recipes are all intended for specific use cases based on a client’s needs. For example, Mahanarayan Oil can be used for inflammation. Expert selection and application of ingredients can assist in alleviating conditions like osteoarthritis, insomnia, anxiety and sports injuries.

Alka Mulakaluri (AD – NAMA, AWP, LMT ) is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and Panchakarma specialist who has been practising and teaching Ayurveda in the Bay Area since the last 13 years. She is also a CA-licensed massage therapist. Her rich Ayurvedic training coupled with her massage training offer her an edge in the practice of Ayurveda, as it is easier for practitioners like her to circumvent some of the restrictions of a stand-alone Ayurvedic practice. The biggest restriction is the license to touch, which can vary between states and counties. By combining the licensure with a traditional Ayurvedic healing approach, you can perform all of the wonderful Ayurvedic therapies for the deepest healing. 

“Ayurveda is not only diet, lifestyle and herbal remedies,” Alka reminds us. “It is also taking care of our physical body. Ayurvedic bodywork completes an Ayurvedic approach to healing the mind body system as a whole, all-encompassing tool.”

 

Add highly sought-after Panchakarma detox programs to your services

Panchakarma can loosely refer to Ayurvedic bodywork therapies, though Panchakarma in its true definition is a formal, 5-action cleansing process. Panchakarma programs range from about 3-21 days on average, and offer a deep detox and rejuvenation. Each program is an individualized practice involving various Ayurvedic therapies, and it is much sought after service. It works as a preventative health technique and heals deep-seated chronic ailments. 

There are three stages in Panchakarma 

  1. A pre-cleanse
  2. The main cleansing phase 
  3. Post-cleanse rejuvenation

 

There are a few main treatments to choose from which may be combined with herbal therapies, steam baths, medicated purgation and enemas, plus a supportive diet and herbal supplement regimen. This is a highly popular immersive purification that prevents recurrence of disorders, and is transformative in regaining good health. 

 

Deliver comprehensive lifestyle, nutrition and Yoga advice

Once you understand Ayurvedic principles and how they can be applied to daily rituals, it becomes almost effortless to observe signs with clients and identify simple lifestyle suggestions they can take home and put into practice.  Many clients who come to you are likely already open to holistic healing. People are increasingly not satisfied with bandaid solutions – they want to get to the root cause of diseases. Some of your clients may already be seeking consultations with other practitioners to make wellness-enhancing lifestyle changes. You can help them consolidate their wellness support by expanding your services to include lifestyle support, plus gain new clients with the synergy of Ayurveda, Panchakarma and Massage Therapy. 

 

Offer regular massages and bundled therapies to ensure repeat client visits

For therapeutic gains in conditions like osteoarthritis, lumbago, spondylosis, migraines and anxiety, repeat therapies are needed. While clients want long-term results, they are not necessarily proactive enough on their own to initiate repeat visits. If you create programs with repeat visits and bundled services for them, especially with a discount included, they are likely to return again and possibly even purchase a prepaid package. This gives you the opportunity to reach the level of success both you and your client are capable of achieving together, and you can be sure they will share their results with others. Such results gain a loyal clientele with a deeply entrenched health and wellness practice. 

 

Bring balance into your own life

A lot of Massage Therapists experience burnout. Knowing your own nature helps. For instance, you may be prone to overdoing it and suffering from inflammation if you are Pitta-dominant and can learn how to manage your intense drive. You may be more likely to suffer from pain if you have a Vata imbalance, and self-massage with Ksheerabala, Mahanarayan or Bala Ashwagandha oil may alleviate your discomfort. Understanding your nature, affinities and tendencies will help you focus on your own health. Just as people in an airplane when oxygen levels dip are advised to wear their masks first before helping others, you will meet your clients at your best. 

President of Lotus Herbs, Cynthia Copple, Ayurvedic Massage teacher with 35 years of experience discusses how Ayurveda helps massage therapists avoid burnout: “Utilizing the ancient practices of Ayurveda along with the numerous Ayurvedic products on the market today is a sure way to affect peace in your own body, maintain balance and extend your Massage Therapy career.”

 

Open up new opportunities in the virtual community

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many massage therapy practices have been impacted and are only now slowly returning back to business with additional sanitization, face mask requirements, and following additional county guidelines. This experience has taught us all that adaptation is essential to survive and thrive. It’s a great time to think about investing in your future. Health is an industry that is comprehensive to mind, body and spirit. It includes massage and touch therapies, encompassing the entire lifestyle and healing journey of clients. Ayurvedic bodywork is the most well-documented ancient system which offers this integrative possibility. Ayurveda also offers a vast body of information you can share with clients beyond the treatment room. With Ayurvedic principles, you are empowered to offer virtual consultations, classes and follow ups to supplement your bodywork treatments.

 

How to get started with Ayurveda study

There are a variety of Ayurvedic courses available depending on your needs and how you wish to utilize it. Kerala Ayurveda specializes in programs designed for the professional track. As a Massage Therapist, you’ll benefit the most from a professionally-oriented program which speaks to the client relationship you intend to offer.

 

We offer three certification levels, as well as a specialty Panchakarma Therapist certification. Which programs you wish to take depends on how you want to practice. As a Massage Therapist, you’ll most likely need the Panchakarma Technician certification in order to receive a detailed training in hands-on bodywork therapies. This program offers you an introduction to Ayurveda and is open to all levels.

 

A certified Panchakarma Technician can:

  • Perform all Ayurvedic hands-on Shamana therapies in a clinic or private practice with an emphasis on utilizing the techniques for purposes of pacification. Shamana includes external calming procedures & regimen without internal cleansing.
  • Perform Panchakarma therapies in connection with a Panchakarma program, under the guidance of a qualified Ayurvedic Practitioner or Ayurvedic Doctor, with an emphasis on utilizing the therapies for purposes of Shamana and Shodhana Chikitsa. Shodhana includes detoxification & purification procedures and requires the advanced clinical knowledge of an Ayurvedic Doctor.
  • Support and help deliver the Panchakarma treatment program designed by the Ayurvedic Practitioner or Ayurvedic Doctor. The Panchakarma Technician is not trained to design a complete Panchakarma program with both Shamana and Shodhana therapies.
  • The individual’s scope of practice will be more specifically designated by local/state guidelines. It is the individual’s responsibility to be compliant. For more detail, please see the complete Scope of Practice: Panchakarma Technician.

 

If you are interested in designing comprehensive Panchakarma programs, you can pursue an Ayurvedic Practitioner or Doctor certification. This journey begins with the Ayurvedic Counselor program, which is the prerequisite to the Ayurvedic Practitioner program. From there, you can move on to the level III Ayurvedic Doctor program. You can learn more about their scopes of practice here:

Ayurvedic Counselor Scope of Practice

Ayurvedic Practitioner Scope of Practice

Ayurvedic Doctor Scope of Practice

 

Talk to our Enrollment Advisors

If you are wondering how to plan your educational journey with Ayurveda, we’re here to assist! Contact our Admissions team to receive one-on-one support and have your questions answered.

 

Notes

  1. Report on Massage Therapy in the U.S. by the American Massage Therapy Association
  2. Integrative medicine: Different techniques, one goal (MayClinic) 
  3. Chronic Diseases in America (CDC)

 

Ayurvedic formulations: two ways to study

Kerala Ayurveda Academy offers two types of programs devoted to the important topic of herbal formulations. In this article, we explore what makes these programs unique and what you need to know when planning your path of study.

 

Straight from our Academy Director

Ayurveda is an ocean with thousands of Ayurvedic formulations and individualized protocols for disease management. The knowledge of herbal formulations is a key component in the success and confidence of any Ayurvedic professional. In fact, according to the root text, Ashtanga Hridayam, 25% of the efficacy of clinical success in a treatment plan depends upon the choice of herbs and formulations.

 

Importance of continuing education in formulations

From prevention, palliation, cleansing to disease management, knowledge of herbal formulations is essential for clinical practice. It is mandatory for the practical application of all branches of Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, there are four quadrants for effective health management (Padachatushtaya) of which the Ayurvedic professional is the most important, the Dravya or herbal formulations used is the second, followed by the assistant and the Rogi (client). No Ayurvedic professional at any level starts their journey having learned about all possible herbs and formulations – there are too many. The study of different formats of formulations, their preparation, indications, ingredients, dosage, adjuvants and contraindications is all a vital part of the professional learning journey to become an empowered and successful healer.

 

Upcoming continuing education in formulations

To support this continued education, Kerala Ayurveda Academy offers two short programs:

 

Ayurvedic Formulation Making 

Offered yearly

Next session: Feb 26-28, 2021
Fri-Sun 8:00am-6:00pm Pacific Time

NAMA PACE-approved

 

Vedic Formulations: Clinical Applications   

Offered twice per year

Next session: March 8-August 16, 2021
Mondays 5:30-7:30 PST Pacific Time

NAMA PACE-approved

 

Comparing our formulations programs

If you’re wondering what are these programs are all about and how to select which program is suitable for you, here’s a breakdown.

 

Duration and learning objectives

The Ayurvedic Formulation Making class is a three day workshop that is currently all-online. Ordinarily, the program would be live streamed with the option of attending it in-class (when allowed). It is a hands-on training with demonstration in making formulations with mentored guidance, also covering general principles of Ayurvedic herbology and pharmaceuticals, different formats and recipes. It forms a vital foundation in Ayurvedic practice.

The Vedic Formulations series is an online series comprising 12 two-hour online evening classes, every other Monday, spread over six months. It delves into the clinical study of various commonly used classical formulations; chanting their essence from root texts with a Master Vaidya, learning ingredients, preparation methodologies, dosages, indications and contraindications, adjuvants and examples of where they are found effective.

 

Practical application

The Ayurvedic Formulation Making class is a practical detailing and demonstration of how to make different formats of the most popular traditional Vedic formulations. Ayurvedic herbal recipes were designed to balance healing properties of ingredients and mitigate side effects. In this comprehensive workshop, students discover the role of herbs in healing, their classification and nomenclature and understand principles and methodology of combing them, procuring, storing and protecting herbal ingredients and preparation of different types of formulations. This enables Ayurvedic professionals to prepare and customize healing oils and decoctions at home and manage modes and dosages of administration.

 

The Vedic Formulations series deals with the practical aspects of how to use classical formulations in clinical practice. The herbs and formulations recommended in the right context, form and dosage with right adjuvants can achieve impressive results in various disease processes. The most commonly used and effective formulations as detailed in classical texts are covered, which include Ashtanga Hridayam, Sahasrayogam and Bhava Prakasha which are required books for the AD program.

 

Practical comparison: one formulation studied two ways

Indukantham Ghritam is a Vedic formulation in Sahasrayogam which is very popular in enhancing overall Ojas or Immunity and reducing Vata aggravation. It is a Ghritam comprising 18 herbs; Dashamoola, Putika, Devadaru, Saindhava and Panchakola. Indukantham Ghritam can help in various disease pathologies; it enhances Agni, burns Ama, clears channels, balances Vata, helps with digestion, assimilation and nourishment and prevents degeneration and immune loss.

You would learn how to prepare the formulation through the Ayurvedic Formulation Making class under the context of studying the format of Ghrita preparations. In the Vedic Formulations class, you would chant the Shloka (Verse) listing ingredients, processing, use in the disease process, dosages and any precautions to be taken.

 

Number of formulations studied

The Ayurvedic Formulation Making class studies the 14 types of primary and secondary formulations from Churnas (powders), decoctions, cold infusions, hot infusions, Ayurvedic oils and herb infused ghee to Lehyas (jams), Arishtas (fermented preparations), ointments, tablets and one or more of each format is made. As many as 25 or more formulations can be made in the three day workshop that could include preparations like Ginger juice, Neem paste, Dashamoolakatutrayam Kashayam, Pinda Thailam, Bala Thailam, Indukantham Ghritam, Lahsun Ksheer Paka, Kushmandaka Rasayana and Draksharishtam.

In the Vedic Formulation series, every class details about five formulations and over 60 formulations are studied in depth over the six months. For example, under the category of formulations for neurological health, formulations like Bala Thailam and Ksheerbala 101 Avarthi are studied in detail exploring specific imbalances and state of Samprapti  (disease process) where each Vedic formulation is most effective. 

In spite of the vast number of formulations covered in this training, there are still many more due to the thousands documented in the Vedas. The formulations chosen in this course’s syllabus were selected for two primary reasons: their popularity and common usage in a professional’s practice, partially due to their ability to address multiple conditions; also, their availability for purchase in the United States.

 

Level & scope of practice

Both programs are highly valuable for continued education of Ayurveda students, graduates and professionals at any level – we offer them both for a reason!

The Ayurvedic Formulation Making class forms a foundation for Ayurvedic practice and is emphasized for level I students and graduates though it is great for any level, Counselor, Practitioner or AyurvedicDoctor.

The Vedic Formulation series with clinical usage of formulations is a level II+ scope of practice, though level I students are welcome to attend (so long as they meet the prerequisite – see below), as they can commence their learning.

 

Prerequisites

All Ayurveda students and professionals are welcome. An existing knowledge of fundamental concepts of Doshas, Subdoshas, Dhatus, Malas and Agnis (equivalent to modules 101 and 102) is required and available for purchase in the Prerequisite Bundles.

 

Ongoing study

The Ayurvedic Formulation Making class is repeated annually with similar content, so students, graduates and professionals can benefit from it during their professional certification training, or afterwards for continuing education. Graduates can attend the class again at a discounted rate.

The Vedic Formulations series repeats twice per year and students may pop in and out of each session; it’s not required to attend previous sessions before joining the next. It was designed to provide an ongoing learning opportunity which students can continue, session after session, to build a comprehensive knowledge base of many formulations. Part 1 has just concluded and its recordings are available for purchase. Part 2 registration is now open (and again: Part 1 is not a prerequisite to enroll). The series will continue with accruing knowledge of 60+ new formulations each time, which are comprehensive and successfully used in Ayurvedic practice.

 

Final thought

An Ayurvedic professional needs to take 3 steps with each client: assess the Prakriti (constitution), the Vikriti (imbalance), and select which formulation best addresses their condition.  For this reason, the Vedic texts have clear guidelines about how to process, suggest and dose herbs and formulations that address every possible pathway of diseases to give sustainable outcomes. Studying different formats and options available helps in forming a decision tree to narrow down and create individualized protocols. Clarity in knowledge of formulations is the cornerstone in obtaining successful outcomes with Rogis (clients), in disease management and in being grounded and successful in your practice as a healer. 

 

Amrutharishtam: Ayurveda’s herbal formulation from heaven

The story behind every herbal formulation in Ayurveda is as rich and unique as its properties. Here’s the story behind Amrutharistham, one of the most popular recipes used by Ayurvedic practitioners.

 

Ayurveda teaches us that having strong digestive power, known as Agni, is fundamental for overall health. When Agni is not functioning optimally, the improperly digested food can cause Ama, a metabolic toxin. When Ama is present in the body, it blocks the energy channels and hampers the adequate absorption of nutrition at the cellular level, resulting in imbalances of various magnitudes in the body. Several time-tested Ayurvedic formulations aim to loosen and eliminate these toxins and rejuvenate the body to attain harmony of the energy channels, improve vitality, and regain optimal health.

Ayurveda defines health in a very simplified manner: it is the harmonious synergy of the body with mind, spirit, and soul. Achieving the right balance of all these factors and preserving vitality helps to prevent the onset of any disease. It also improves the individual’s overall sense of health and exuberance. Beyond mere absence of disease, attainment of this dynamically balanced state is the ultimate quest of our life. It can lead you to the path of natural resistance from ailments as well as help you live life to the fullest.

 

Balancing the energy channels of the body

Your body has several meridians, the Srotas, which provide nourishment and information to all the tissues in your body. Often because of stress, improper lifestyle and diet, you might experience an imbalance of your three primary energetic humors, or Doshas. This imbalance subsequently leads to some disturbances in the state of your health. A Dosha can become aggravated and impair the Agni (metabolic fire), which will lead to the accumulation of Ama (metabolic wastes), in the body. The Ama is a slimy, sticky substance that blocks the Srotas and further hampers the Agni. This self-perpetuating, mutually reinforcing cycle ultimately has detrimental effects on your wellbeing. 

Ayurveda offers several protocols on how to deal with dampened Agni and Ama accumulation, depending on the level of imbalance. For minor imbalances, intake of herbal formulations instantaneously boosts your energy by eliminating Ama. At a more serious level, the elimination regimen also includes thorough cleansing, or Panchakarma, to eliminate impurities, reboot the energy channels and reinstate balance of the Doshas. Whether simple or complex, the healing protocol will incorporate one more multiple herbal formulations which are detailed in the Vedic texts. For this reason, learning about these formulations and Ama-alleviating herbs marks a significant step towards the journey of becoming an expert Ayurvedic healer.

 

Amrutha: the divine herb

Ayurveda is derived from the Vedas, or ancient texts from the Vedic period of present-day India. Therefore, the name, use, and origin of many herbs and formulations are intertwined with Hindu mythology. The name Amrutha (Tinospora cordifolia) is derived from the concept of heavenly ambrosia. Amrutha is the hidden secret of longevity of the celestial beings. When consumed, it bestows one with eternal youth and vitality. It is also commonly referred to as Guduchi or Gulwel

In the sacred Hindu text of Ramayana, it is mentioned that when Ravana, the demon king who abducted Sita, the wife of King Rama, a battle ensued which led to the death of Rama’s monkey army. A very disconsolate Rama requested Lord Indra, king of Gods, to resurrect his dead army, and upon hearing his wish, Lord Indra sprinkled nectar from heaven to revive the army. As the drops of nectar touched the monkeys, each one of them came back to life, and the drops which fell on Earth, sprouted into the holy Amrutha plant. For the same reason, this herb is considered to be full of life force and is highly revered and widely used in Ayurveda.

Being an adaptogenic herb, Amrutha promotes the normal expression of the immune system by improving the reaction to external stressors. This function is served while also giving optimal digestive support by eliminating Ama and hence supporting the body’s natural cleansing process.

 

Principles behind the formulations in Ayurveda

Ayurveda considers that everything in the universe is comprised of the Panchamahabhutas, so if we properly assess their Rasa (taste), Guna (properties), Veerya (potency), Vipaka (post digestion effect), Prabhava (special properties) and Karma (action) and prepare them properly , everything can be used as a medicine. Along with the five fundamental formulations: Swarasa (freshly extracted juice), Kalka (paste of drugs), Kwatha (decoction), Phanta (hot infusion) and Hima (cold infusion), many secondary formulations such as Choorna (powders), Arishtams (fermented supplements), Gulikas (tablets), Ghritas (medicated ghee), Tailam (herbal oils) are used in clinical practice as needed according to the practitioner’s rational. The processing varies according to which active form will be most suitable and assimilate the most easily. Arishtams like Amrutharishtam are fermented herbal decoctions that are very potent and known for their long processing time, and a pleasant, appetizing flavor.  

 

Amrutharishtam: the Ama annihilator

Amrutharishtam is a recipe mentioned in the Ayurvedic texts Sahasrayogam and Bhiashajyaratnavali. It is an herbal supplement prepared using the decoction of Amrutha along with many other potent herbs and spices. This mixture is then allowed to self-ferment in large wooden vats for a month. This long process of fermentation allows the properties of the herbs to be extracted into an easily palatable form, while accelerating the therapeutic action and enhancing the formulation’s concentration. Amrutharishtam balances the Tridoshas and supports the natural cleansing of Ama. This helps to promote normal digestive functions and improve the functioning of body channels. Removal of Ama increases the bioavailability of nutrients in the body, thus supporting a healthy physiological flow.

Amrutharishtam is a strong deterrent to Ama as it gently aids in cleansing the body channels from the unwanted accumulation of wastes that hampers the normal functioning of tissues.

 

Unveiling the secrets of herbal formulations and their preparation

Expertise in selecting and combining the perfect fusion of herbs into formulations is inevitable in the path to becoming a successful Ayurvedic healer. The root Vedic texts of Ayurveda provide recipes for thousands of formulations in vast details for various clinical situations. When used in the right context, dosage, form, and combined with the right adjuvants, these formulations will give you impressive results in various health conditions. Keeping in mind all these factors, Kerala Ayurveda Academy has developed a series on Vedic formulations and their clinical applications. During this series, you will receive an overview of the preparation, specific indications, dosage forms, appropriate adjuvants with special precautions, do’s and don’ts and how they work in real client scenarios all under the expert guidance of Vaidya. Jayarajan Kodikannath. 

Ancient Ayurvedic texts are a treasure house of relevant information on varied conditions and how to comprehensively address them with a synergistic approach. This multifaceted approach can be deciphered only under the guidance of an accomplished clinical practitioner. Once you understand the underlying principles of these formulations, you will become a skilled independent healer adept at managing disorders with renewed confidence. Like every practitioner before you, your own clinical practice will provide you the experience for accruing deeper wisdom of herbal healing.

 

Learn more about Amrurishtam


VEDIC FORMULATIONS: CLINICAL APPLICATIONS
Amrutharishtam
Learn more

 

Behind the sloka: customizing heat therapy according to the Ashtanga Hridayam

As an Ayurvedic enthusiast, have you ever wondered what the root texts of this ancient health science actually say? Do you wish to learn straight from the source and hear the Ayurvedic principles in their native Sanskrit?
Kerala Ayurveda Academy offers you this opportunity in our live streamed Ashtanga Hridayam series! To give you an example of what you can learn from the ancient text, we’re going behind the sloka in this article with some insight on the heat therapy.

 

Ayurveda states that the combined synergy and equilibrium of mind, body, and soul is the key to ultimate health and happiness. The subtle energy channels (Srotas) in our body are often blocked by metabolic toxins, called Ama, as a result of weak digestive strength or Agni. This leads to clogging of Srotas and disruption of tissue nutrition, weakening the immune system, and causing health issues. Vedic texts like the Ashtanga Hridayam focus on understanding the subtle changes in the body to identify and rekindle Agni and cleanse Ama, before the imbalance emerges as illness. This can be achieved through Panchakarma – Ayurveda’s unique mind-body purification system. Many of the fads practiced nowadays to cleanse the body are not customized and may thus lead to improper effect and can be debilitating. The Ayurvedic approach, on the other hand, is personalized, does not focus merely on diagnostic tools, but rather on the awareness and sensitivity of the individual with his body and is designed with a detailed preparatory and a rejuvenatory phase to support a safe and effective cleansing.

 

Eliminating Ama by Ayurvedic detoxification methods

Understanding the cause of accumulation of digestive toxins and emotional clutter, as well as ways to eliminate them, forms one of the most basic strategies in Ayurveda to improve health and positive well-being of mind, body and spirit. The mode of cleansing and elimination is highly customized and has to be devised keeping in mind the physical and emotional state of the individual. Some of the detoxification methods are straight-forward, like intake of internal medicines; others might require a more complex cleansing, like utilizing Panchakarma: the five cleansing actions. Panchakarma eliminates deep-seated metabolic toxins which are the root cause of illness.

Panchakarma offers many therapies and techniques to address the uniqueness of each individual and scenario. Svedana, or heat therapy, is one of them, and can be used in two primary ways: (1) as a single detoxification therapy, in case there is only mild accumulation of Ama, or (2) as a preparatory step in a longer Panchakarma program, to facilitate the movement metabolic wastes for later elimination using other cleansing therapies. The mode and duration of Svedana therapy will depend on the psychosomatic constitution or Prakriti and strength of the individual, season, and therapeutic benefit intended.

Svedana can be beneficial when used in the right way, for the right person at the right time. It is not always beneficial. The following passage from the revered Ayurvedic text, Ashtanga Hridayam, states the contraindications of Svedana or fomentation therapy:

Na svedayet ati-sthoola-ruksha-durbala-moorchitaan |
Stambhaneeya-kshata-ksheena-visha-madyavikarinah ||
Timira-udara-visarpa-kushta-sopha-adyaroginah |
Peeth-dugdha-dadhi-sneha-madhoon krita-virechanaan ||
Brasht-dagdha-guda-glaani-krodha-shoka-bhayaardithaan |
Kshut-trishna-kamla-paandu-mehinah pitta-peedithaan ||
Garbhinim pushpithaam suthaam mridu cha aatyayike gade |

—As.Hri.Su 17/21-24

 

The above verses explain in a very condensed manner that Svedana, although very efficient in removing metabolic wastes from the body, is better avoided in certain conditions like:

  • Those with improper fat metabolism
  • Those with body fluid imbalances and those who are weak
  • In a person who is experiencing light headedness or those who have consumed contaminated food or fermented beverages
  • In those with dull eyesight or are injured as it may lead to further weakening of the body 
  • In an individual suffering from accumulation of fluid in the body, infections, skin issues, bloating, stiffening of thighs, or those who have consumed milk or curd, fats and honey
  • Those who have undergone elimination therapies, who have weakened control over bowel movement, or in whom cautery is done are unfit for Svedana.
  • Svedana is also contraindicated in low mood imbalances, anger, sorrow, and fear, in those who are starved or thirsty.

 

In diseases related to Pitta vitiation, impacted liver health, poor iron absorption in blood, and abnormal blood glucose levels, Svedana should not be performed as heat will aggravate these conditions. In women who are pregnant, it is unfavorable for the fetus. It is also contraindicated for women postpartum and during menstruation, as it may lead to excessive bleeding.

If Svedana has to be employed in such conditions, due to the gravity of the situation, subdued methods can be used.

 

What study of the slokas offers to your Ayurvedic practice

The appropriate knowledge about applying the right therapy at the right time will have tremendous results, and gaining this knowledge and skill is the foundation of Ayurvedic healing. Therapies have to be customized after assessing the individual and considering precautions, do’s and don’ts, pre and aftercare, as well as management of complications if you encounter any. All of this knowledge is documented in the Vedas, though the text alone does not contain the wisdom. It is the unbroken tradition of practicing Ayurvedic Doctors, or Vaidyas, who bring the slokas to life with their expert clinical guidance, allowing the Vedic texts’ detailed translations and insight to be understood.

The Ashtanga Hridayam is the “Heart or Essence” of Ayurvedic philosophy and healing, with clear guidelines about the right way to lead life. Written in beautiful lyrical Sanskrit verses, Ashtanga Hridayam is a condensed manual for contemporary Ayurvedic healers around the world, providing unparalleled benefit in their clinical practice, as the rhythmic recitation is easier for recollection. A lot of meaning is packed into the verses of the Ashtanga Hridayam, so while translations are available, the text alone does not provide enough information for a practitioner-in-training. Expert guidance is paramount to integrating the value of the verse.

 

The value of Ayurveda’s cleansing wisdom

Ayurveda focuses greatly on the holistic cleansing of the body to get rid of accumulated toxins which are even more relevant today, because of our faulty lifestyle and contamination of water and air, when we often feel worn out and unusually emotional. Committing to the Ayurvedic lifestyle and cleansing procedures is the best way to revamp our health to promote a more comprehensive way of living and feeling refreshed and strengthened.

Understanding the right methods to implement the knowledge of Ayurveda can be a game changer in your path to be a healer and to be healthy. With the amount of stress we have to endure in our life today with increased pollution, a whole-body cleanse has to be included in our routine to support our metabolic function and wellness. As you delve into a deeper understanding and involvement about the potent Ayurvedic cleansing methods and its rewards, you will find yourself more attuned to your inner self, with a newfound strength. This is the secret benefit of studying the Sanskrit verse. It is truly a mind, body, spirit experience!

 

Studying the Ashtanga Hridayam with us

Kerala Ayurveda Academy crafted a program extracting the quintessence principles of Ashtanga Hridayam. Learning authentic teachings of the ancient Vedic texts from an expert will help you unravel the depth of the concise slokas. You will be guided through the Ashtanga Hridayam by Vaidya. Jayarajan Kodikannath (BSc, BAMS), who will illuminate the deepest aspects of the Ayurvedic principles in simplified language. Chanting the Sanskrit slokas together, the vibrant richness of the beautiful ancient verses with the healing vibrations of Ayurveda will be a blissful spiritual experience for you that will leave you energized!

The next segment of our Ashtanga Hridayam series will cover chapters 17, 18 and 19 of the text, with the clinical applications, precautions, indications, and contraindications for Panchakarma detoxification procedures including Svedana (sudation), Vamana (emesis therapy), Virechana (purgation therapy) and Vasti (enema therapies).

Upgrade your life with a level I Ayurvedic training

We’re living in a very interesting time on our planet. On one end of our human curiosity, we are exploring genomes and life forms on other planets. Meanwhile, we are still trying to understand the inner workings of our minds and bodies. What is the right food to eat? What is the best exercise and lifestyle for longevity? How do we find quality information, and make sense of what is seemingly contradictory? The questions are endless concerning our well-being, and that of our planet. This makes the ancient holistic science of Ayurveda more relevant than ever before.

 

 Why become an Ayurvedic Counselor?


Meet our Academy Director, Vaidya. Jayarajan Kodikannath (BSc, BAMS) to learn about the AWC journey

 

Kerala Ayurveda Academy conducts training in Ayurveda for both self help and professional applications. Our first level of certification is the Ayurvedic Health Counselor program, a 600-hour, 1-year program. It is a comprehensive training in all aspects of foundational principles for living, for the self and others. We’ve been conducting this program for over a decade, enhancing its format and curriculum to match the growing needs of our pioneering Ayurvedic community in the West.

 

Learning from the core of your being

Imagine a body of knowledge which you learn not just with your brain, but in your body as well. Ayurveda is a living science, which means its knowledge is not based on theory alone, but actual life experience – mind, body and spirit. It means “the science of life,” and is a science beyond just human health. Ayurveda encompasses the entire universe – for everything is connected according to Ayurveda. This kind of learning is transformational! The validation of this: at each graduation ceremony, the family members of our graduates often express how they have experienced a positive shift in their entire family’s life as a result of the student’s course work. Ayurveda empowers individuals to learn from the inside out, to become the healthy change, and this unlocks unlimited potential to make a difference in the world.

 

the journey includes
  • Core Ayurvedic principles for cultivating a holistic view of the world
  • Diet, herbs and lifestyle practices
  • Personalization for well-being through individual constitution
  • Self-assessment and self-care tools
  • Deepened sense of life purpose
  • Clinical encounter training for coaching others in a preventive health lifestyle

 

What makes Kerala Ayurveda Academy unique

We are now celebrating our 75th anniversary at Kerala Ayurveda! Joining our Family is to become a part of one of the largest Ayurvedic networks on the globe. Since our inception on the banks of the Periyar River in Kerala, India – the birthplace of Ayurveda – we have grown into an industry leader in high quality, traditional Ayurvedic herbal products, healing centers, research and education. Touching almost a million lives globally, our mission is no smaller than to support a global shift towards sustainable, mind-body-spirit living.

Our team members are all graduates of the AWC program and passionate about Ayurveda. We are committed to supporting the future generations of Ayurvedic professionals, in conventional healing practices and beyond. We’re redefining health care.  While our programs like the AWC certification enable individuals to open a wellness, client-based practice, the opportunity is truly only limited by your imagination! Many of our alumni combine their knowledge of Ayurveda with other career paths and community solutions, carving unique niches as educators, product retailers, writers, chefs, web designers and more. Ayurveda is a universal science, which enables you to carve out a holistic career path involving all of your unique skills and background.

 

Learn more and start building your future

View our latest informational webinar on the AWC program

Meet some of our team and learn more about this transformational learning journey! Visit our AWC program page to find a link to the latest webinar, or join the upcoming one.

View

 

Connect with our Enrollment Advisors to start building your future

If you are wondering how to fit Ayurvedic study into your life for your unique goals, our Admissions team is happy to connect with you. Our Enrollment Advisors are available for one-on-one sessions to support you in planning your learning journey. Complete our contact form and we’ll be in touch!

 

 

 

Updates on COVID-19 management at Kerala Ayurveda

Our new normal is constantly evolving as the COVID-19 pandemic still affects many of us daily. At Kerala Ayurveda, we want to assure you that we are continuing to focus on the health and wellness of our community.

 

Updates to our programs

To maintain the health and safety of our students and clients, we have implemented the following strategies to our services and programs:

  • We have cancelled all our in-person wellness appointments through end of September. Online consultations are available.
  • We are adapting in-class courses and workshops to live streaming format through December 31, 2020.
  • Programs which require in-class attendance for practical learning are being rescheduled.

 

Schedule Changes

AWC Practical Immersions

The next available 4-Day Practical Immersion will welcome Spring 2019 and Fall 2019 students whose sessions were canceled.

 

Assessment and Pulse Diagnosis

Oct 10-12, 2020 – live streamed only

 

Panchakarma Practicums

For Panchakarma Technician and Ayurvedic Doctor students:

PKT 321: Nov 13-15, 2020 – live streamed only
PKT 322: Jan 29-31, 2021
PKT 323: Mar 19-21, 2021

 

We know that this has been a difficult time for all. We appreciate your patience and understanding in our new age of uncertainty. We hope that you are safe and healthy.

Namaste~