Ayurveda is an ancient science that studies the universe’s patterns and applies them to living a wholesome, healthy and happy life. Science, as we know it, is continuously evolving. New theories based on non-linear, holistic and systems approaches are evolving. Hence what is sometimes termed as a mindless ritual today, was perhaps a very scientifically proven method for healing then.
Modern science is only now validating Ayurvedic rituals for their deep-rooted benefits towards our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. It is vital to understand that the basis of Ayurvedic principles lies in the three Doshas, which form the basic framework of the human body. Any imbalance in these three can cause disease. Thus, to live a healthy life, all 3 have to work together in accordance with the underlying principle of the cosmos.
Science Behind Ayurvedic Rituals
Recently, a study found that air bubbles found between joint spaces and bone cavities in CT/MRI scans are the cause of arthritis, joint disintegration and weak bones. Ayurveda has diagnosed this as a Vata Dosha, thousands of years ago.
For a healthy life, Ayurveda prescribes rituals based on the cycles of nature, planets, seasons, time of day and our body’s circadian rhythms. Let’s take a close look at some popular rituals recommended by Ayurveda and understand the science behind them to help us live a balanced, healthy life.
- An ancient practice passed down from the Indic sciences strengthens the neural network and can rewire the brain circuits to change a life. Focusing on the breath and looking inwards activates dormant parts of the brain, improving our productivity, health, emotional balance and spiritual connection. It increases the connection between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex and can induce positivity and happy hormones. It also relaxes the neural pathways and aligns the body’s circadian rhythms.
- In Ayurveda, intermittent fasting is the space between your meals. It is the practice of eating only at an assigned time and not having any food in between. The reason behind this practice is to have periods where your stomach is not always busy digesting food. This helps optimise metabolism and conserve energy in the body. Intermittent fasting is shown to help gain more energy, have better bowel movement and a high-functioning digestive system. It is imperative to remember that eating healthy is a must, no matter what diet you follow. You are the food you eat.
- Abhyanga is the Ayurvedic practice of self-massage with oil. When cortisol levels are left unchecked and chronic stress sets in, it causes inflammation in the body leading to problems across from digestion issues to chronic illnesses. Practising self-massage helps the musculoskeletal and nervous system health. It also helps lymphatic drainage and most importantly, betters oxygenated blood circulation in the body, providing cells with much-needed nutrition. Abhyanga also has many physical benefits such as strong limbs and soft skin. To practice Abhyanga, take a natural daily massage oil and massage your arms, chest, stomach, legs, neck and back.
Pressure Points and Marma Yoga
- Marma therapy is a routine part of traditional Indian sciences such as the Ayurveda and Siddha practices, where technicians engage relevant Marma points to increase blood flow to the weaker parts of the body. Major Marma points are connected to the seven Chakras, or energy centres of the body and the minor points are spread along the trunk and limbs of the body. There is deep scientific evidence to prove that Marma points therapy internally impacts everything in the body and mind; from the functioning of organs to the production of hormones in the gut and brain.
- Surya Arghya is the practice of offering water to the sun early in the morning. The early morning sunlight is known to have many benefits for the mind and body. The sun is revered as the source of all energy in the Vedas and is worshipped as the life-giver. According to neurobiologist, Andrew Huberman; “There’s a lot of data to support the fact that getting as much bright light in your eyes throughout the day, provided it is not painfully bright, is excellent for your wakefulness mechanisms and even for the mechanisms of the brain and body that control metabolism and feeding, mood, and well-being.” Exposure to the sun in the morning helps the circadian rhythm of the body stabilize, helps the cortisol rise by afternoon and also impacts the quality of sleep. During Surya Arghya, you look at the sun through the pouring water, which allows us to absorb sun rays through a filter, helping our eyes shield us from ultraviolet rays.
There are many such lifestyle prescriptions like Dinacharya or the ideal daily routine, Gandusha, Surya Argya, Abhyanga, Kaval, Pranayama, Shirolepa, Jal Neti and others. They can ensure a fully functioning immune system, prevent disease onset and help us live a healthy life.
We believe that the future of health is going to be more holistic, where allopathic interventions will be supplemented by natural lifestyle sciences like Yoga and Ayurveda. It is up to us to embrace this wisdom of the ages, passed down in the homes of this country and bring it into the forefront of our life and world.
Authored by Radhika Iyer Talati, Founder of Anahata Organic, an Entrepreneur, Yogini, Mountaineer & Philanthropist.
Views expressed by the author are their own.
Photo credit: Rishihood University
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