Forward by Dr. Vasant Lad
Ayurveda is a sanskrit word which means the “knowledge of life”, or more accurately, “the knowledge of longevity”. Its roots are buried deeply in the ancient culture of India. In fact, Ayurvedic medicine is considered to be the oldest system of medicine. Ayurveda is more than a medical science, however, and can only be understood when one realizes that it is intricately woven into the fabric of nature. Over five thousand years ago, spiritually enlightened persons known as Rishis or seers, by close observation of nature and its relationship to man through a supramental state of meditation, imparted that truth from guru to disciple. Today, however, Ayurveda exists in texts, scribed in the form of melodious poetry. Because the roots of Ayurveda were born out of the realm of the spirit, only with a spiritual orientation can one understand this knowledge.
Ayurveda contains the secrets of why people need to cooperate with nature completely in order to ensure their well-being. When there is little or no cooperation, the resultant disharmony is suffering, disease, and finally a premature death. Thus, in dealing with the body in the context of the spirit, Ayurveda is a completely holistic approach to life.
Ayurveda has suggested that a change in the consciousness of one individual, either positive or negative, influences the consciousness of all humanity. Thus, it is the responsibility of every human being to allow a radical change in his/her consciousness in order to bring about transformation in the universe. Ayurveda, having no standard therapy, only reflects and reacts to what naturally occurs in nature. Ayurveda looks at a person completely in relation to his or her environment, and treats each individual as indivisible.
(Excerpts, Dr. Vasant Lad, Pune, India, March 1980, Forward to “The Hidden Secret of Ayurveda”, by Dr. Robert Svoboda, our teacher training book of Ayurveda study for 2015)
In spring the earth sweats...
When tendrils of heat creep into the cool of remaining spring, the earth sweats, and so should you, naturally. Ayurveda teaches that “like increases like”, so the external rise of an element such as heat, enhances the power of that principle inside the body. The primal resting of slow, cold, viscous winter elements in the environment, and in our bodies, relinquishes to warmth. Heavy, accumulated energy in many forms, especially in our lymphatic and endocrine systems, must become fluid and flow freely, like streams into rivers, rivers into oceans.
Sweat (Sveda) from Hatha Yoga practice, is nutritious for the skin, and is not meant to be suppressed, wiped, or showered away immediately. Your own sweats, (Ayurveda recognizes 14 primary sweat types), their volume, odors, timing, and subtle qualities, become a diagnostic tool to help you adopt clean Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle practices. The way that you smell to yourself may actually give you subconscious information about what foods to eat for optimum nourishment, and even the timing of when to eat them.
Clean practices, specific to your constitution, bring new scents to body fluids; sweet, metallic, mineral laden fragrances, much like the essences found in the bitter and astringent native, edible flowers and greens produced by mother nature. She makes these essential healing plants, and their tastes, for us from her sweat, mingled soil nutrients of meadows and forests.
Ayurveda sutras classify six tastes present in substances, and also present in the taster: sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Each one produces more strength (for the body) than the one which follows it, (in the order they are listed).
Sweating during exercise not only reduces the body temperature perfectly for each individual, but maintains water-electrolyte and acid-base balances. Avoiding sweating, attempting to stop it with cold drinks, cold air, and chemical body care products, may not be the healthful course of action you are seeking.
Recognize also that emotions triggered by conditions of heat, those in the Pitta (fire&water) realm of energy, such as frustration or anger unexpressed, can surface as agitation toward the outer condition of heat. Yoga and meditation can help you come in closer touch with, and gain relief from, the effects of emotions held in the body and mind. Sweating is a natural physical release mechanism. Breathe deep, relax into the heat; understanding can help you to trace aversion to its root.
If you are exercising to maintain healthy weight, and bring luster, vitality, and equanimity to your body, mind and spirit, join the earth in a good sweat. My Astanga Yoga teacher, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, always cautioned never to practice in direct sunlight, but recommended sweating, “100 drops daily”!
Soaps are not recommended for use on your skin, or any scrub products which are not edible, as the skin absorbs these emollients as if they were eaten. Rely on gentle “Ubtans”, body pastes or scrubs used periodically to release dead skin layers. You can make them from organic flours, clays, mulled herbs,
combined with fruit and vegetable juices, natural oils or essential extracts.
For the past few days I have been craving watermelon. As a light dinner, I will pluck some fresh mint from the garden, juice it with the melon and mix it (by hand) with organic white rice flour and a little unrefined coconut oil, to make a paste with a texture that feels good to my skin. (In regard to eating melon of any kind, Ayurveda says, “Eat it alone or leave it alone”. Melon should not to combined with any other foods, even other fruits.
Rely on your intuition, and use Ubtans several times a week in warmer weather, so that skin can breathe freely; even less during fall and winter. Just a little research and relying on your own sensitive nose, will lead you to the right ingredients, many of which you may have in your kitchen already. The simpler the mixture, the better. Fruit enzymes can sometimes be too harsh for certain skin types, so always test your scrub. A little applied inside the wrist is a good sensitive place; never leaving on too long if it seems to irritate. You can even save “Time” by making a healthful smoothie for breakfast, and smearing it on your face!
A good resource to learn more about Sveda: Ayurveda today, Summer 2009 issue, “Rasayana for Meda Dhatu Mala”, by my favorite Ayurvedic physician and teacher, Vasant Lad, BAM&S, MAS / www.ayurveda.com
As a second recommendation, download the food combination chart from his resources section on the web site, and begin to incorporate combination practices as a firm diet foundation, while you discover your constitutional type and needs at present, and move into an understanding of the foods best for you.
Kari has practiced Yoga, meditation, dance, and a holistic lifestyle since her youth, growing up on a farm in Harrison County, Indiana. She has spent many fulfilling years traveling and studying around the world, receiving a certification in Hatha Yoga from Yoga East in 2001.
Among her most inspiring and beloved teachers are Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (Astanga Yoga), Ramanand Patel & Francois Raoult (Iyengar Yoga), Sufi Master Adnan Sarhan (Meditation), Dr. Vasant Lad (Ayurveda), Grand Master Mingye Ding (Qigong/Taiji), Steve Schumacher (CranioSacral Therapy), Esak Garcia (Bikram Yoga) & Russil Paul (Nada Yoga). She is the founder of Onecologie: finding true health and joy through intuitive synchronicity with nature.