Anti Ageing and Ayurveda
Interview with Vaidya Palakurthi Manohar
Maharishi Ayurveda Team: In Ayurveda, the way to prevent or even stop the ageing process is described by the catchy phrase "Vaya Sthapan". That sounds tempting, dear Vaidya Manohar, but is it really possible to maintain a state of constant renewal?
Vaidya Manohar: From the Ayurvedic perspective, it is actually like that. Of course, the mental aspect is also quite important. We should always take care to keep our mind young, inspired and balanced. Here, the behavioral Rasayanas have a special significance.
We know of Rasayanas as food supplements, especially our precious Maharishi Amrit Kalash, but behavioral Rasayanas? Exactly what do you mean by behavioral?
VM: According to Ayurveda, the aging process begins in the mind and thereby affects the body. When our mind, behavior and emotions are happy and balanced, transformational and digestive processes are promoted in our body. If these processes run perfectly, Ojas is produced. Ojas is the finest product of metabolism which, somehow, makes us shine from the inside out. In the ancient scriptures there is even a list of behavioral rasayanas.
Please tell us and our readers some of them.
VM: Well, we should favour unconditional, peaceful, positive thoughts: love of truth, goodness, compassion, and contentment. We should avoid fear, aggression, violence, coarse language and negative feelings, greed, ignorance and dullness.
Ojas gives us not only charisma. It is also an indicator of health.
VM: Right, and by maintaining the body’s intelligence, Ojas helps each cell to remember its original, healthy state, and restore it. So, Vaya Sthapan is also about the formation of Ojas. As always, everything is a question of balance. When the three doshas, our body’s energies, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, are in equilibrium, the intelligence of our body is in harmony with the cosmic intelligence. In this harmony, we have the natural ability to prevent the ageing process, because the overall orderliness of nature is the main source of good digestion and metabolism.
When we are able to maintain digestion and metabolism in a balanced state, we support the following three key features:
- Ayus - duration and quality of life
- Varna - healthy, elastic skin and a vital radiance
- Bala - strength and immunity
To maintain these three qualities, it is important that we protect our Agni, or digestive fire.
For good digestion, it is not only important what we eat, but also how we eat our meals. Five ayurvedic tips for good digestion:
- Meals should be eaten in a pleasant atmosphere while sitting comfortably, so that the stomach is relaxed and attention naturally turns to the appearance, aroma, and taste of the food.
- Chew well and only fill your stomach to about two-thirds of its capacity.
- Avoid ice-cold foods and drinks.
- Between meals, occasionally sip some hot water.
- Before meals, chew a piece of fresh ginger with a few drops of lemon juice and a few grains of salt, or drink hot ginger water.
What else can we do to keep our body young and agile?
VM: We can best strengthen the mind-body coordination of all dosha types with meditation, yoga, and long walks. In this way we are optimally protected from stress.
In addittion to the behavioral rasayanas we have already mentioned, appropriate periods of rest and activity are useful.
Pitta types can find working in the garden balancing, and swimming pleasantly cooling. Kapha types can enjoy a vigorous workout, for example, by walking, jogging or running daily. For Vata types, next to yoga, cycling is good.
So anything that allows light and air to the skin ...
VM: Exactly. The skin, as our largest organ, is in direct contact with external nature. Therefore one of the best things you can do for your skin, is daily morning oil massage, Abhyanga. The skin is the mirror of the soul - its lustre, radiance and health is affected not only by sensory perceptions and external factors, but also, by feelings which are expressed through the skin. Abhyanga massage is beneficial because it touches both, body and soul.
Our readers are probably wondering whether they have to put everything into practice immediately, and when best to start with the tips.
VM: The nice thing is: It's never too late to begin Vaya Sthapan, the Ayurvedic program for a long, healthy life. Support your body to keep its channels free of debris 'ama' (see Note) and to keep your metabolism vital. Favour fresh, nourishing foods: whole grains, seasonal fruits, nuts, ghee, olive oil, natural sugars, such as fructose, lots of green vegetables, lentils, beans, fresh cheese, lassi, fresh and dried herbs and spices – everything preferably in organic quality. Take into account what is good for your constitution.
Enjoy your meals in peace, freshly prepared and sufficiently seasoned. Take the right amount for yourself, and eat neither too much nor too little. Finish your meal as soon as you have a slight feeling that you have had enough. The stomach is then about two thirds full. Only eat again when the last meal has been digested.
Make sure you have adequate rest: through regular meditation, morning Abhyangas, early dinners (if possible at about 18:30), and agreeable fragrances in the bedroom. All the above will produce deep restful sleep.
A nice Ayurvedic tea or a warm (almond) milk drink, and relaxing baths with aroma oils are just the things to put the body in a peaceful mood that promotes good sleep. A regular bedtime is beneficial.