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By John Douillard | April 2, 2013

In a recent study, an extract of turmeric was tested against the growth of herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) in a cell culture.

One group of cells was treated with a turmeric extract and the other group was left untreated. HSV-1 was then introduced into the cell culture.

The cells treated with turmeric experienced significantly less growth and a reduced size of HSV-1 compared to the untreated cells. These results indicate that turmeric extract aided cells in resisting an HSV-1 infection and slowed the replication or growth of the herpes culture (1,2). The mechanism for the anti-viral effects was thought to be the suppression of the HSV-1 gene expression (1).

This study was of course done on a growth medium, and whether a turmeric extract will have a corresponding effect in the human body requires further study.

Another strategy to prevent cold sores or herpes outbreak is to not feed the virus its favorite food. Herpes will be stimulated by arginine rich foods like seeds and nuts – especially walnuts – chocolate, carob and orange juice. Caffeine and watermelon can also drive arginine levels. Help balance arginine foods with foods rich in lysine, which is found in most vegetables.

0. Kutluay SB. Curcumin inhibits herpes simplex. Virology. 2008 Apr: 239-47
1. Ninger L. In the News. Curcumin Shows Promise Against Cold Sore Virus. Life Extension Mag. Dex 2008


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Because we are in the transition between seasons, it is a particularly good time for a gentle cleanse, such as a few days of kitchari mono-diet, or perhaps a more vigorous cleanse such as panchakarma if this is available to you.

John Joseph had been feeding the homeless at Tompkins Square Park since 1980. Help him keep making it possible to serve over 6000 meals a month with Adi at Interfaith Community Services.

From Dr John Drouillard:

Traditional cultures around the world cooked their food slowly over many hours. Perhaps this was because heating an oven to over 300 degrees was just not practical without electricity. Little did they know the incredible benefits they gleaned from cooking at low temperatures. Or did they?

According to Ayurveda, cooking foods slowly is a way to preserve the prana (life force) and nutrients in the foods. The concept of a microwave is forbidden in Ayurveda, and maybe for good reason.

In a recent study, foods that were cooked at over 300 degrees were shown to inflict damage to the body’s cells after this food was ingested (1).

Scientists have also found that high temperature cooking significantly increases the rate of aging, causes chronic inflammation, and excessive glycation (2).

Advanced glycation end products (AGES) produced from barbecuing, frying, broiling or baking are responsible for increased risk of abdominal fat, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, immune changes, inflammation, obesity, skin damage and early aging (3).

Cooking foods at high temperatures results in a “browning effect,” whereby sugars and oxidized fats react with proteins by sticking to them and forming glycotoxins, which the body has a tough time ridding itself of.

In one six week study, when food was cooked at low temperatures the glycated LDL cholesterol was reduced by 33%. When the exact same foods were cooked at high temperatures, the glycated LDL cholesterol increased by 32% (4).

In another study performed at the University of Minnesota, women who consistently ate “well-done” overcooked hamburgers had a 50% increased risk of getting breast cancer (5).

To be safe, consider boiling, poaching, stir-frying, steaming, stewing and/or using a slow cooker. According to researchers, cooking in water can protect the food from heat and slow the process of creating glycotoxins. Marinating foods in olive oil, wine, lemon juice, or cider vinegar can also help protect the foods.

1.Mutation Research 2005 July
2. Proc Nat Acad Sci US. Nov 2002
3. Proc Nat Acad Sci US. Aug 2012
4. Proc Nat Acad Sci US. Nov 2002
5. J National Cancer Institute. 1998;90(22)

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Ashtanga Yoga Background

Ashtanga yoga is a system of yoga recorded by the sage Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Korunta, an ancient manuscript “said to contain lists of many different groupings of asanas, as well as highly original teachings on vinyasa, drishti, bandhas, mudras, and philosophy” (Jois 2002 xv). The text of the Yoga Korunta “was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900’s by his Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari, and was later passed down to Pattabhi Jois during the duration of his studies with Krishnamacharya, beginning in 1927” (“Ashtanga Yoga”). Since 1948, Pattabhi Jois has been teaching Ashtanga yoga from his yoga shala, the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute (Jois 2002 xvi), according to the sacred tradition of Guru Parampara [disciplic succession] (Jois 2003 12).

Ashtanga yoga literally means “eight-limbed yoga,” as outlined by the sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. According to Patanjali, the path of internal purification for revealing the Universal Self consists of the following eight spiritual practices:

Yama [moral codes]
Niyama [self-purification and study]
Asana [posture]
Pranayama [breath control]
Pratyahara [sense control]
Dharana [concentration]
Dhyana [meditation]
Samadhi [absorption into the Universal] (Scott 14-17)

The first four limbs—yama, niyama, asana, pranayama—are considered external cleansing practices. According to Pattabhi Jois, defects in the external practices are correctable. However, defects in the internal cleansing practices—pratyahara, dharana, dhyana—are not correctable and can be dangerous to the mind unless the correct Ashtanga yoga method is followed (Stern and Summerbell 35). For this reason, Pattabhi Jois emphasizes that the “Ashtanga Yoga method is Patanjali Yoga” (Flynn).

The definition of yoga is “the controlling of the mind” [citta vrtti nirodhah] (Jois 2003 10). The first two steps toward controlling the mind are the perfection of yama and niyama (Jois 2003 10). However, it is “not possible to practice the limbs and sub-limbs of yama and niyama when the body and sense organs are weak and haunted by obstacles” (Jois 2002 17). A person must first take up daily asana practice to make the body strong and healthy (Jois 2003 10). With the body and sense organs thus stabilized, the mind can be steady and controlled (Jois 2002 16). With mind control, one is able to pursue and grasp these first two limbs (Flynn).

To perform asana correctly in Ashtanga yoga, one must incorporate the use of vinyasa and tristhana. “Vinyasameans breathing and movement system. For each movement, there is one breath. For example, in Surya Namskarthere are nine vinyasas. The first vinyasa is inhaling while raising your arms over your head, and putting your hands together; the second is exhaling while bending forward, placing your hands next to your feet, etc. In this way all asanas are assigned a certain number of vinyasas” (“Ashtanga Yoga”).

“The purpose of vinyasa is for internal cleansing” (“Ashtanga Yoga”). Synchronizing breathing and movement in the asanas heats the blood, cleaning and thinning it so that it may circulate more freely. Improved blood circulation relieves joint pain and removes toxins and disease from the internal organs. The sweat generated from the heat of vinyasa then carries the impurities out of the body. Through the use of vinyasa, the body becomes healthy, light and strong (“Ashtanga Yoga”).

Tristhana refers to the union of “three places of attention or action: posture, breathing system and looking place. These three are very important for yoga practice, and cover three levels of purification: the body, nervous system and mind. They are always performed in conjunction with each other” (“Ashtanga Yoga”).

Posture: “The method for purifying and strengthening the body is called asana” (Jois 2002 22). In Ashtanga yoga,asana is grouped into six series. “The Primary Series [Yoga Chikitsa] detoxifies and aligns the body. The Intermediate Series [Nadi Shodhana] purifies the nervous system by opening and clearing the energy channels. The Advanced Series A, B, C, and D [Sthira Bhaga] integrate the strength and grace of the practice, requiring higher levels of flexibility and humility. Each level is to be fully developed before proceeding to the next, and the sequential order of asanas is to be meticulously followed. Each posture is a preparation for the next, developing the strength and balance required to move further” (Pace). Without an earnest effort and reverence towards the practice of yama and niyama, however, the practice of asana is of little benefit (Flynn).

Breathing: The breathing technique performed with vinyasa is called ujjayi [victorious breath] (Scott 20), which consists of puraka [inhalation] and rechaka [exhalation] (“Ashtanga Yoga”). “Both the inhale and exhale should be steady and even, the length of the inhale should be the same length as the exhale” (“Ashtanga Yoga”). Over time, the length and intensity of the inhalation and exhalation should increase, such that the increased stretching of the breath initiates the increased stretching of the body (Scott 21). Long, even breathing also increases the internal fire and strengthens and purifies the nervous system (“Ashtanga Yoga”).

Bandhas are essential components of the ujjayi breathing technique. Bandha means “lock” or “seal” (Scott 21). The purpose of bandha is to unlock pranic energy and direct it into the 72,000 nadi [energy channels] of the subtle body (Scott 21). Mula bandha is the anal lock, and uddiyana bandha is the lower abdominal lock (“Ashtanga Yoga”). Both bandhas “seal in energy, give lightness, strength and health to the body, and help to build a strong internal fire” (“Ashtanga Yoga”). Mula bandha operates at the root of the body to seal in prana internally foruddiyana bandha to direct the prana upwards through the nadis (Scott 21). Jalandhara bandha is the “throat lock” (Jois 2002 23, n.27), which “occurs spontaneously in a subtle form in many asanas due to the dristi (“gaze point”), or head position” (Scott 23). “This lock prevents pranic energy [from] escaping and stops any build-up of pressure in the head when holding the breath” (Scott 23). Without bandha control, “breathing will not be correct, and theasanas will give no benefit” (“Ashtanga Yoga”).

Looking Place: Dristhi is the gazing point on which one focuses while performing the asana (“Ashtanga Yoga”). “There are nine dristhis: the nose, between the eyebrows, navel, thumb, hands, feet, up, right side and left side.Dristhi purifies and stabilizes the functioning of the mind” (“Ashtanga Yoga”). In the practice of asana, when the mind focuses purely on inhalation, exhalation, and the drishti, the resulting deep state of concentration paves the way for the practices of dharana and dhyana, the six and seventh limbs of Ashtanga yoga (Scott 23).

Instruction in pranayama can begin after one has learned the asanas well and can practice them with ease (Jois 2002 23). “Pranayama means taking in the subtle power of the vital wind through rechaka [exhalation], puraka[inhalation], and kumbhaka [breath retention]. Only these kriyas, practiced in conjunction with the three bandhas[muscle contractions, or locks] and in accordance with the rules, can be called pranayama” (Jois 2002 23). The three bandhas are “mula bandha, uddiyana bandha, and jalandhara bandha, and they should be performed while practicing asana and the like” (Jois 2002 23). “When mula bandha is perfect, mind control is automatic” (“Ashtanga Yoga”). “In this way did Patanjali start Yoga. By using mulabandha and by controlling the mind, he gradually gained knowledge of Yoga” (Jois 2003 11).

Practicing asana for many years with correct vinyasa and tristhana gives the student the clarity of mind, steadiness of body, and purification of the nervous system to begin the prescribed pranayama practice (Flynn). “Through the practice of pranayama, the mind becomes arrested in a single direction and follows the movement of the breath” (Jois 2002 23). Pranayama forms the foundation for the internal cleansing practices of Ashtanga yoga(Flynn).

The four internal cleansing practices—pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi—bring the mind under control (Stern and Summerbell 35). When purification is complete and mind control occurs, the Six Poisons surrounding the spiritual heart [kama (desire), krodha (anger), moha (delusion), lobha (greed), matsarya (sloth), and mada(envy)]—”will, one by one, go completely” (Stern and Summerbell 35), revealing the Universal Self. In this way, the correct, diligent practice of Ashtanga Yoga under the direction of a Guru “with a subdued mind unshackled from the external and internal sense organs” (Jois 2002 22) eventually leads one to the full realization of Patanjali’s eight-limbed yoga.

Works Cited

“Ashtanga Yoga.” Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute: Method. 2001. 11 June 2003 .

Flynn, Kimberly. “FAQ.” Ashtanga Yoga Shala: Articles. 2001. 11 June 2003 .

Jois, Sri K. Pattabhi. “An Informal Public Talk on Traditional Yoga.” NAMARUPA Spring 2003: 9-12.

Jois, Sri K. Pattabhi. Yoga Mala. New York: North Point Press, 2002.

Pace, Annie. “Ashtanga Yoga in the Tradition of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.” Ashtanga.com: Articles. 1998. 11 June 2003 .

Scott, John. Ashtanga Yoga: The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide to Dynamic Yoga. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2000.

Stern, Eddie, and Deirdre Summerbell. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois: A Tribute. New York: Eddie Stern and Gwyneth Paltrow, 2002.

From Ayurveda.com

Apples are loaded with a powerful group of antioxidants called polyphenols. Although many other fruits contain polyphenols, apples have much higher concentrations.

One of the most powerful polyphenols is called phloridzin and is uniquely concentrated in the apple skin.

Phloridzin-rich apple skins have been shown to be especially active against glycation, which is one of the most reliable markers of aging. They have also demonstrated the ability to burn abdominal fat!

Glycation occurs when sugars and carbohydrates in the blood stick to proteins in the blood, creating large molecules that clump together. These large molecules damage arteries, cells and tissues throughout the body. These “advanced glycation end products,” or AGEs, are found at the site of most chronic degenerative diseases and considered most responsible for accelerated aging.

Apple skins rich in phloridzin block the sugar from leaving the small intestine and entering the bloodstream in the first place. If the sugar never gets into the blood, the sugars cannot glycate. In one study, phloridzin inhibited glucose (sugar) uptake by 52% (1).

Better yet, when the ice cream you ate with your apple pie gets into your blood, the phloridzin may block the sugars from sticking to the proteins, preventing glycation.

Of course, one of the (welcome) side benefits of the body burning less sugar is that it is more inclined to burn fat. In one study, patients ate 600mg of phloridzin a day for 16 weeks. The group eating the apple skin extract lost 8.9% of the original body fat and the placebo group actually gained 3.3% body fat over the same period of time (1).

While apples have gotten a bad rap for boosting blood sugar, nature seemed to be one step ahead of us and designed this amazing fruit to have it’s own blood sugar-balancing and fat-burning properties. How cool is that!

1. Randall, George. Apple Polyphenols and Longevity. Life extension Mag. 2012. Apr

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Focus of the Month Teaching Tips

Shake It Up Baby (Febuary, 2013)

John Lennon sings, “Well shake it up, baby, now twist and shout,
come on, come on, come on, come on baby now, come on and work it on out.”
(from the song “Twist and Shout,” originally written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns, and covered by the Beatles with John Lennon on lead vocals and released on their first album, Please Please Me)

How to use this focus? I would say use it in a very direct way-get people to shake. Shake out their bodies. Encourage uninhibited shaking. Shake off the inhibitions, tameness, domestication, boredom, predictability and normalcy.

Blind-folds could be helpful in allowing people to feel free to move. But let’s keep the focus on shaking and not on dancing in general. I don’t think you should try to lead a trance dance-keep it to shaking. Big shakes, hand shakes, trembling, vibrating.

The goal of Yoga is moksha-liberation, freedom. Through the practices of yoga we can dismantle our present culture and resurrect ourselves as the wild beings we really are! Remember that originally Yoga was a reaction against the increasing urbanization, which was focused on exploiting animals and the earth-taming, enslaving and confining, and in the process we became tamed (estranged from our creative source), enslaved (can’t think for ourselves-no common sense) and confined (can’t move-we are in a head-trip and don’t acknowledge the body from the neck down as intelligent).

The teacher could point out the perhaps not so obvious facts about “confinement” and how normal it is in our culture. As we have tamed, enslaved, domesticated animals we ourselves have lost our ability to explore the fuller potential of movement experience in our own bodies. Our bodies have become heavy and in many cases, modern people feel imprisoned in their bodies. This often leads to unhealthy entertainment just to feel some kind of stimulation, which can play out in becoming a couch potato-sitting and watching other people live out their lives on television or movies or on You-Tube, etc. Feeling imprisoned in your body can also lead to other types of unhealthy activities like gluttony-drinking and eating too much, which then in-turn causes the person to become more and more immobilized-and easily seek immediate gratification from shopping. Have you ever seen obese people, who are unable to walk very well, sitting in motorized carts, navigating their way through huge shopping malls on a quest to buy stuff?

The teacher could do some research to discover ways where wild, ecstatic, physical experience was replaced by predicable rituals and routine ceremonies in many spiritual and religious traditions-the result being far from an ecstatic religious experience of feeling one’s reconnection to all of life. At one time ecstatic experience was considered the religious experience and it was encouraged. I am thinking of Christianity and Buddhism, where at one time actual physical means were embraced to feel magic and be moved by the spirit within. I am thinking of the Shamans of the Bon religion-an early form of Tibetan Buddhism and of course the shaking of the early Quakers (hence their name), speaking in tongues and spontaneous physical take over of spirit forms in many forms of Christianity. But now everything has been put inside a box-a big box called a Church or temple-it has all become housed and the keys to the house given into the hands of appointed authorities. But there must still be some communities where shaking is alive-like among the Zulus and Kalahari bushman in Africa, Siberian shamans, and how about the Quakers? -anyway many of us may want to investigate this further during this month.

I don’t think that any of us want yoga to become just another form of entertainment for bored members of a culture who just want to find another way to estrange themselves from the natural world. Jivamukti Yoga, after all is known as the wild-child of yoga-I hope we can continue to explore the wild.

I know that with a whole month of shaking, we will at least feel a bit better as we loosen up and let go of things we don’t need. It is in the letting go (shaking off) of what we don’t need that healing begins

~Sharon Gannon


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Health is order; disease is disorder. Within the body, there is constant interaction between order and disorder. Those who are wise are aware of the presence of disorder in their body and they set about to re-establish order. They understand that order is inherent in disorder and that a return to health is thus possible.
The internal environment of the body is constantly reacting to the external environment. Disorder occurs when these two are out of balance. To change the internal environment in order to bring it into balance with the external environment, one must understand how the disease process occurs within the psychosomatic being. Ayurveda provides explanations of disease that make it possible to restore order and health from disorder and disease.

In Ayurveda, the concept of health is fundamental to the understanding of disease. Dis means “deprived of” and ease means “comfort”. Therefore, before discussing disease, we must understand the meaning of comfort or health. A state of health exists when: the digestive fire (agni) is in a balanced condition; the bodily humors (vata-pitta-kapha) are in equilibrium; the three waste products (urine, fecess and sweat) are produced at normal levels and are in balance; the sense are functioning normally; and the body, mind and consciousness are harmoniously working as one.

When the balance of any of these systems is disturbed, the disease process begins. Because a balance of the above-mentioned elements and functions is responsible for natural resistance and immunity, even contagious disease cannot affect the person who is in good health. Thus, imbalances of the body and mind are responsible for physical and psychological pain and misery.

Disease Classification

According to Ayurveda, disease may be classified according to its origin; psychological, spiritual or disease. Disease is also classified according to the site of manifestation; heart, lungs, liver and so forth. The disease process may begin in the stomach or in the intestines, but manifest in the heart or lungs. Thus, disease symptoms may appear in a site other than the locus of origin. Disease are also classified according to the causative factors and bodily dosha; vata-pitta-kapha

Disease Proneness

The individual constitution determines disease-proneness. For example, people of kapha constitution have a definite tendency towards kapha disease. They may experience repeated attacks of tonsillitis, sinusitis, bronchitis and congestion in the lungs. Similarly individuals of pitta constitution are susceptible to gallbladder, bile and liver disorders, hyperacidity, peptic ulcer, gastric and inflammatory disease. Pitta type also suffer from skin disorders such as hives and rash. Vata people are very susceptible to gas, lower back pain, arthritis sciatica, paralysis and neuralgia. Vata disease have their origin in the large intestine; pitta disease in the small intestine; and kapha disorders in the stomach. Imbalanced humors in these areas will create certain signs and symptoms.

The imbalance causing the disease may originate in the consciousness in the form of some negative awareness and it may then manifest in the mind, where the seed of the disease may lie in the deeper subconscious in the form of anger, fear or attachment.

These emotions will manifest through the mind into the body. Repressed fear will create derangement of vata; anger, excess pitta and envy, greed and attachment, aggravated kapha. These imbalances of the tridosha affect natural body resistance (the immune system -agni) and thus the body becomes susceptible to disease.
Sometimes, the imbalance causing the disease-process may first occur in the body and then manifest in the mind and consciousness. Food, living habits and environments with attributes similar to those of the dosha (humor) will be antagonistic to the bodily tissues. They will create an imbalance that is first manifested on the physical level, and later affects the mind through a disturbance in the tridosha. For instance, disturbed vata creates fear, depression and nervousness; excess pitta in the body will cause anger, hate and jealousy; aggravated kapha creates possessiveness, greed and attachment. Thus, there is a direct connection between diet, habits, environment and emotional disorder.

Impairment of the bodily humors, vata-pitta-kapha, creates toxins (ama) that are circulated throughout the body. During this circulation, toxins accumulate in the weak areas of the body. If the joint is a weak area, for example, disease will manifest there. What creates these toxins and bodily weaknesses?

Key to Health or Disease – ‘Agni’.

Agni is the biological fire that governs metabolism. It is similar in its function to pitta and can be considered an integral part of the pitta system in the body, functioning as a catalytic agent in digestion and metabolism. Pitta contains heat-energy which help digestion. This heat-energy is agni. Pitta and agni are essentially the same with this subtle difference: pitta is the container and agni is the content.

Pitta manifests in the stomach as the gastric fire, agni. Agni is acidic in nature and its action breaks down food and stimulates digestion. Agni is also subtly related to the movement of vata because bodily air enkindles bodily fire. In every tissues and cell, agni is present and necessary for maintaining the nutrition of the tissues and the maintenance of the auto-immune mechanism. Agni destroys micro-organisms, foreign bacteria and toxins in the stomach and small and large intestines. In this way, it protects the flora in these organs.

Longevity depends upon agni. Intelligence, understanding, perception and comprehension are also the functions of agni. The color of the skin is maintained by agni, and the enzyme system and metabolism totally depend upon agni. As long as agni is functioning properly, the processes of breaking down food and absorbing and assimilating it into the body will operate smoothly.

When agni becomes impaired because of an imbalance in the tridosha, the metabolism is drastically affected. The body’s resistance and immune system are impaired. Food components remain undigested and unabsorbed. They accumulate in the large intestine turning into a heterogeneous, foul-smelling, sticky substance. This material, which is called ama, clogs the intestines and other channels, such as capillaries ad blood vessels. It eventually undergoes many chemical changes which create toxins. These toxins are absorbed into the blood and enter the general circulation. They eventually accumulate in the weaker parts of the body, where they create contraction, clogging, stagnation and weakness of the organs and reduce the immune mechanism of the respective tissues. Finally, a disease condition manifests in the affected organs and is identified as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and so on.

The root of all disease is ama. There are many cause for the development of ama. For example, whenever incompatible foods are ingested, agni will be directly affected as a result of the toxins or ama, created from these poorly digested foods. If the tongue is coated with a white film, this symptom indicates that ama exists in the large intestine, small intestine or stomach, depending upon which part of the tongue is coated.
Ama develops when agni’s function is retarded; however, overactive agni is also deterimental. When agni becomes hyperactive, the digestive process burns away, through overcombustion, the normal biological nutrients in the food and emaciation results. This condition also lowers the body’s immunity.

Repressed Emotions

Toxins are also created by emotional factors. Repressed anger, for example, completely changes the flora of the gallbladder, bile duct and small intestine and aggravates pitta, causing inflamed patches on the mucous membranes of the stomach and small intestine. In a similar manner, fear and anxiety alter the flora of the large intestine. As a result, the belly becomes bloated with gas, which accumulates in pockets of the large intestine causing pain. Often this pain is mistaken for heart or liver problems. Because of the illeffects of repression, it is recommended that neither the emotions nor ay bodily urge, such as coughing, sneezing and passing gas, should be repressed.

Repressed emotions create an imbalance of vata which in turn affects agni, the body’s auto-immune response. When agni is low, an abnormal immune reaction may occur. This reaction may cause allergies to certain substance, such as pollen, dust and flower scents. Because allergies are closely related to the immune responses of the body, individuals who are born with an abnormal immune reaction often suffer from allergies. For examples, a person born with a pitta constitution will be naturally sensitive to hot, spicy foods which aggravate pitta. In the same way, repressed pitta emotions such as hate and anger also may increase the hypersensitivity to those foods that aggravate pitta.

People with kapha constitutions are very sensitive to foods that aggravate kapha. In such individuals, kaphagenic foods such as dairy products produce disturbance like cough, cold, congestion and wheezing. Individuals who repress kapha emotions such as attachment and greed will have allergic reactions to kapha foods.
Ayurveda recommends that emotions be observed with detachment and then allowed to dissipate. When emotions are repressed, that repression will cause disturbances in the mind and eventually in the functioning of the body.

The Three Malas

Imbalances in other bodily systems, such as the waste systems, also may result in disease. The body produces three waste products, or malas: fecess, which are solid; and urine and sweat, which are liquid. The production and elimination of these is absolutely vital to health. Urine and feces are formed during the digestive process in the large intestine, where assimilation, absorption discrimination between essential and nonessential substances take place. Feces are carried to the rectum for evacuation; urine is carried to the kidneys for filtration and then stored in the bladder for elimination; and sweat is eliminated through the pores of the skin.

Though they are considered bodily waste products, the urine and feces are not strictly waste. They are, in fact, to some extent essential to the physiological functioning of their respective organs. For example, faces supply nutrition through intestinal tissues; many nutrients remain in the feces after digestion. Later, after these are absorbed, the feces are eliminated.

Feces also give strength to the large intestine and maintain its tone. If a person has no feces, the intestine will collapse. A person who suffers from constipation lives longer than one who suffers from diarrhea. If diarrhea continues for fifteen days, death will follow. However, one can experience prolonged constipation and live, though it will cause problems in the bodily systems. Constipation creates distention and discomfort, flatulence and pains in the body, headache and bad breath.

The urinary system removes the water, salt and nitrogenous wastes of the body. Urine is formed in the large intestine. This wastes product helps to maintain the normal concentration of water electrolytes within the body fluids. The functioning of this mala depends upon the water intake, diet environmental temperature, mental state and physical condition of the individual. The color of the urine depends upon the diet. If the patient has a fever, which is a pitta disorder, the urine will becomes darkish yellow or brownish. Jaundice, which is also a pitta disorder, causes dark yellow urine. Bile pigmentation may give the urine a greenish color. Excess pitta may create high acidity in the urine. The substances that stimulate urination, such as tea, coffee and alcohol, also aggravate pitta.
If the body retains water, the urine will be scanty and this water will accumulate in the tissues. This condition, in turn, will affect the blood and increase the blood pressure. So, balanced urine production is important for the maintenance of blood pressure and volume.

Ayurvedic texts states that human urine is a natural laxative that detoxifies poisons in the system and helps absorption in the large intestine as well as the elimination of feces. If one takes a cup of urine (passed in midstream) every morning it will help to cleanse and detoxify the large intestine.
Perspiration is a by-product of fatty tissue. Sweating is necessary to regulate the body temperature. Sweat keeps the skin soft, maintains the flora of the pores of the skin and also maintains skin elasticity and tone.
Excessive sweating is a disorder that can create fungal infection and reduces the natural resistance of the skin. Insufficient sweating will also reduce the resistance of the skin and it will cause the skin to become rough and scaly, creating dandruff.

There is a special relationship between the skin and the kidneys since the excretion of watery wastes is primarily the function of these two organs. Thus, perspiration is indirectly related to the formation of urine. Like urine, perspiration is related to pitta. In summer people perspire profusely, but their urination is reduced because waste products are eliminated through perspiration. In winter, many people perspire less and urinate more.
Excessive urination may cause too little perspiration production and excessive perspiring may result in a scanty volume of urine. Thus, it is necessary that the production of perspiration and urine be in balance. Diabetes, psoriasis, dermatitis and ascites (dropsy) are examples of disease resulting from an imbalance of perspiration and urine in the body.Excessive perspiration reduced body temperature and creates dehydration. In the same way, too much urination also creates dehydration and also will cause coldness of the hands and feet.

The Seven Dhatus

The human body consists of seven basic and vital tissues called dhatus. The Sanskrit word dhatu means ‘‘constructing element’’. These seven are responsible of the entire structure of the body. The dhatus maintain the functions of the different organs, systems and vital parts of the body. They play a very important role in the development and nourishment of the body. The dhatus are also part of the biological protective mechanism. With the help of agni, they are responsible for the immune mechanism. When one dhatu is defective, it affects the successive dhatu, as each dhatu receives its nourishment from the previous dhatu. The following are the seven most important dhatus in serial order:

1. Rasa (plasma) contains nutrients from digested food and nourishes all the tissues, organs and systems.
2. Rakha (blood) govern oxygenation in all tissues and vital organs and maintains life.
3. Mamsa (muscles) covers the delicate vital organs, performs the movements of the joints and maintains the physical strength of the body.
4. Meda (fat) maintains the lubrication and oiliness of all the tissues.
5. Asthi (bone) gives support to the body structure.
6. Majja (marrow and nerves) fills up the bony spaces and carries motor and sensory impulses.
7. Shukra and Artav (reproductive tissues) contains the ingredient of all tissues and are responsible for reproduction.

The seven dhatus are understood in a natural, biological, serial order of manifestation. The post-digestion of food, called ‘nutrient plasma’, ahara rasa, contains the nutrition for all the dhatus. This ‘nutrient plasma’ is transformed and nourished with the help of heat, called dhatu agni, of each respective dhatu. Rasa is transformed into rakta, which is further manifested into mamsa, meda, etc. This transformation results from three basic actions: irrigation (nutrients are carried to the seven dhatus through the blood vessels); selectivity (each dhatu extracts the nutrients it requires in order to perform its physiological functions); and direct transformation (as the nutritional substances pass through each dhatu, the food for the formation of each subsequent dhatu is produced). These three process – irrigation, selectivity and transformation – operate simultaneously in the formation of the seven dhatus. The dhatus are nourished and transformed in order to maintain the normal physiological functions of the different tissues, organs and systems.

Dr. Vasant Lad (Ayurvedacharya)

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The Satisfaction Diet

You can feel better and get control of your weight by adding more taste to your food

BY Hillari Dowdle

Have you ever eaten your way to the bottom of a bag of sour cream-and-onion potato chips, and found yourself feeling oddly empty? Have you then turned to a pint of chocolate chip ice cream, only to find yourself still craving…something?

Cookies? Crackers? Candy? Nibbling, nibbling yet unable to find the gratification you’re looking for?

Welcome to the American diet. “In our country, we use food for comfort , says John Douillard, founder of the Ayurvedic LifeSpa in Boulder, Colo., and author of the 2-Season diet. “We’re a stressed-out culture, going 90 miles an hour all the time and feeling exhausted. We then self-medicate with the tastes that calm and stabilize the nervous system, which are sweet, sour, and salty.”

But that’s only giving the body half of what it needs. Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of well-being, holds that there are six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. For optimum health, we need to taste them all, everyday. Each one has a specific energetic effect on the body. They warm us up or cool us down; rev us up or calm us down; makes us feel complacent or motivated. Taken together, the six tastes can lead to body and mind into a taste of perfect balance and create a sense of satisfaction.

Unfortunately, we too often don’t take them together. Consider the prototypical American meal: a burger, fries, and a Coke. The sweetness comes from Coke, the grains in the bun, and the patty itself (whether meat or vegetarian); sour can be found in the pickle on top and the vinegary-sweet ketchup; salty comes from, well, everything.

In a way, it’s a perfect prescription for calming the vata dosha – the Ayurvedic energy force that has to do with creativity, action, and agility. When we push ourselves to do more, faster, all the time, we become vata-deranged. Sweet, sour, and salty work well to instantly allay the anxiety that comes with 24/7 multitasking. But eating only these tastesand in poor quality, to boothas consequences.

“The entire American food industry has developed to serve and reinforce our cravings”, says Douillard. “They serve up sweet, sour, and salty, and give it to us fast so we can get right back to doing whatever it was that created our imbalance. Then we keep getting stressed and keep eating more sweet, sour, and salty. Such foods calm us, yes, but when we overdose they make us feel heavy, fatigued, and depressed.”

Just as these three flavors decrease kapha dosha – the lethargic, slow, and steady energy composed of earth and water. Too much bodily kapha leads to buildup of digestive toxins, known as ama, which coat the tongue and dull the senses.

“Our culture is consumed with the disease of over nutrition: high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity,” observes Thomas Yarema, MD, integrative physician and author of Eat-Taste-Heal. We keep developing diet plans to deal with these problems, says Yarema, yet our success rats with hearth disease and diabetes have been poor: “And most of the diets we concoct to address the obesity problem -from low-fat to low-carb to grapefruit-only diets – fail in the end. Clearly, we are confused about nutrition in modern times.”

Yarema offers this easy way to understand dosha dynamics: “The tastes of sweet, sour, and salty convert energy into matter,” he says. “Bitter pungent, and astringent turn matter into energy. The diseases in Western culture all have to do with a deficiency in energy, and an excess of matter.”

The cure, then, for what hails us? Balance the diet with more bitter, pungent, and astringent foods.

Mix It Up

Getting all six tastes doesn’t mean creating equality in volumea little salt goes a long way. And it doesn’t mean having a six-course meal at every sitting. “Keep it simple”, recommends Patti Garland, a master Ayurvedic chef and owner of Bliss Kitchen in Palm Desert, Calif. “Eat leafy green vegetables every day, and drink a lassi. Play around with spicesturmeric, cumin, coriander, and fennel will expand your palate instantly. Add quick-cooking lentils, split mung beans or red lentils, to your diet. Have a whole grain. Put it all together in a bowl, or laid out as individual dishes in one sitting or over the course of a day. Try to have your big meal at lunch, when digestion is strongest.”

Choose whole foods to ensure that the tastes have the proper physiological effects. “Whole foods provide checks and balances,” notes Scott Blossom, a Berkley, Calif. -based Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga therapist. “The sweetness of a pear will be offset by the astringency of the fiber it contains. Most foods offer more than one flavor – a pungent onion, for example, can be cooked down to satisfy a sweet taste”.

And whatever you’re eating, pay attention. If you’re craving a food, ask yourself what it is you really want. “Craving can come out of a habit, or it can be telling you about something your body needs – which may not be food,” says Garland. “once you find a bit of balance, your own intuition will guide you to the right choices . Food is not entertainment, it’s nourishment, and when you pay attention to what makes your body feel good you’re likely to be very surprised. Above all else, Ayurveda is about conscious eating, and doing what makes you happy.”

6 Tastes 101

The word for taste in Sanskrit is rasa, and it refers both to the physiological experience of the food and to its emotional effects. The two are intertwined, says Blossom. “In Ayurveda, taste is considered the master sense,” he explains. “It has the strongest influence and the most immediate effect on emotional disposition.” To understand the dynamic of the six tastes, in other words, one must understand their effect on every aspect of being.

1. Astringent is the flavor found in beans, berries, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. These are anti-inflammatory foods that cool the body and aid the process of detoxification. “Astringent is very unique in the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia,” explains Suhas Kshirsagar, BAMS, MD (Ayu), director of the Kerala Ayurveda Academy. “It creates a drying sensation in the mouth, and has the same effect on the bodyit gets rid of stickiness and sliminess in the chanels of the body, the ama, which creates disease.” That drawing effect works to inhibit appetite, suppressing kapha dosha and encouraging weight loss.

That’s a good thing, and experts agree that most of us need to get more of these foods. Overdo it, though, and you’ll create a different kind of imbalance. “Astringent pulls the senses inward,” explains Blossom . “Its great for fostering meditative states, but too much can encourage an excessive inward focus and a feeling of isolation.”

2. Pungent can also be thought of as “spicy”garlic, onion, chiles, cayenne, ginger, and other foods that are hot on the tongue. The pungent taste is heating and stimulating to the body, stoking metabolism, circulation, and digestion. “We think of these foods as kick-starters,” says Theresa Long, who teaches nutrition at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, Calif. “They help energize the body, and just like astringent and bitter, they help detoxify. Pungent also draws fat and fluid out of the bodyit’s primary flavor for treating kapha imbalance.”

Emotionally, pungent fires us up. “It makes us feel energetic and sassy,” says Blossom. However, an overdose can aggravate pitta dosha, the fiery energy that governs ambition, drive, and passionbut also anger,irritability, and hatred. Heat things up too much, and you risk burnout.

3. Bitter, the flavor most lacking in the American diet, is found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and mustard greens, as well as in turmeric, coffee, and aloe vera. It’s another detoxifier with particular benefit to the liver, notes Yarema. Bitter is cooling, and anti-inflammatory, and catabolic, which means that it helps reduce overall body fat.

“Bitter has a sobering effect and creates a sense of dissatisfaction, which can be very motivating,” notes Blossom. “It gives you the edge you need to get out there and get things done, which is part of the reason we get up and drink coffee every morning. But too much can lead to a profound sense of dissatisfaction. It can make you feel bitter.”

4. Salty is found in rock and sea salts, seaweed, and kelp. It’s warming to the body, stimulating to the appetite, and anabolicwhich means it promotes tissue development, Salty helps the body retain thingscalories, fluids, and informationand motivates us to seek more form life.

“The salty taste gives you confidence, a zest for life – it adds flavor to your foods,” notes Kshirsagar. “When you eat too much, you become overambitious, and possessive. You retain fluid and gain weight.” Most of us get too much of this taste: whereas 1 teaspoon of salt a day is the perfect prescription, according to Kshirsagar most of us eat somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 to 3 tablespoonsup to nine tomes more than we need.

5. Sour, the predominant flavor in lemons, limes, vinegar, yogurt, and fermented foods, is a warming paradoxit promotes digestion and weight gaining equal measure.

“Sour enkindles digestion, and makes one ready to consume,” Blossom says “It has to do with the mind shifting into not only wanting to accumulate experiences, but holding on to them as well. It’s related to emotions like envy and greed.”

6. Sweet, says Blossom, “imparts satisfactionit’s the most important taste in Ayurveda.”Its essence is cooling and soothing. “Eating too much of it promotes complacency, dullness, and inertia, along with weight gain,” he adds.

The sources of the sweet taste are many: most fruits, many vegetables, nearly every grain, as well as eggs, dairy, meat products, and, of course, sugar and honey. It’s important to choose foods that have sweetness built in, not added. “I find that the majority of foods people consume are not naturally sweet, but are processed and sweetened with artificial or extremely concentrated sweeteners,” says Yarema. “Consuming foods sweetened in these ways creates a physiological paradox-instead of being naturally cooling, they incite inflammation.”

What’s more, these hypersweet foods change our perception of what sweet should be. “We didn’t evolve eating foods in processed formsit’s an experiment at best, a disaster at worst,” says Blossom. “When you eat a candy bar or drink a soda, you’re getting a superconcentrated hit-it gets you high. If you get used to the sledgehammer of sweet taste, you become numbed to the subtle sweetness in natural foodsand in your life.”

You literally become addicted to hyperflavored foodswhether sweet, sour, or salty. The only way to break out of the cycle is to enjoy a broader palate of tastes.

Eat for Fulfillment

In Ayurveda, the hows, whens, and wheres of eating count for nearly as much as the whats. Pay attention to the environment that surrounds your food, and you’ll be less likely to make poor choices, or eat unconsciously. Here are some expert tips for eating in balance:

Focus on the Food.
“If you feel stressed, you might decide getting things done is more important than taking time for meals,” says Scott Blossom, yoga therapist and Ayurvedic practitioner. “But eating while multitasking only aggravates stress and imbalance.”

Say Grace.
“For your body to taste the food, it has to know it’s going to eat,” says Suhas Kshirsagar, director of the Kerala Ayurveda Academy. “Sit down; close your eyes before your meal; give thanks for your food. It’s not just a religious traditionit’s a physiological tradition.”

Adjust for Weather.
“If it’s unusually cold, focus on warming foods. If it’s a cloudy day, you may need to choose drying, diuretic (astringent) foods,” advises Mary Roberson, PhD, founder of the Ayurvedic Center for Healthcare in Oak Ridge, Tenn. “You can use common sense, as informed by Ayurvedic theory, to bring yourself into harmony with your environment.”

Pause and Digest.
“Ayurveda suggests eating a larger meal with all six tastes between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., taking a walk, and then having a short rest,” says Jennifer Workman, RD, author of Stop Your Cravings. “A gentle walk after your meal and a five- to 15-minute rest give the body a chance to digest. You won’t be scrounging around in 30 minutes.”

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The Ayurvedic Institute
A Good winter rasayana (rejuvenative tonic) is pippali rasayana. Pippali rasayana is particularly powerful. It is made by mixing 1/2 cup each of milk and water and adding 5 whole pippali (long pepper) fruit. The pippali should not be powdered. Boil this mix until the added water has evaporated, which may take up to half an hour, then drink it before bedtime. Milk can be mucus forming in winter but if you take this mixture, it will not produce mucus. ~Vasant Lad

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