What’s the best position for a good night’s sleep? How can an ayurvedic breakfast help me get a healthy start to my day? What can I do to curb hair loss? – Whatever question is on your mind, our Indian Ayurveda experts, Dr Saurabh Sharma and Dr Rajat Sharma regularly answer all your questions from the Maharishi Ayurveda perspective in our “Ask the Vaidya” feature.
We’re always impressed by the issues you raise. Here is a selection of some particularly interesting questions and answers, with lots of valuable Ayurveda tips for every day.
We hope you enjoy them and find a lot of helpful insights for your Ayurveda lifestyle!
Your Maharishi Ayurveda Team
Dr Saurabh Sharma: That water plays an important role in detoxifying our bodies. For your type, Vata/Pitta, it shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. If it’s too hot when you drink it, it can have a drying affect, and if it’s too cold, it has a negative impact on digestion, slowing it down.
I recommend a water temperature that’s easy to drink (39–40 °C), so not as hot as tea. Lukewarm water is best consumed in the early morning, at “Brahma Muhurta”, which is an hour before sunrise.”
Dr Rajat Sharma: “It’s best to eat breakfast after you’ve emptied your bowels. Porridge made from oatmeal and raisins makes a good Ayurveda breakfast. You can also add dried figs, dates, apricots or other dried fruit, to your taste, and spice up your hot cereal too with anise, caraway or turmeric, for instance. Rice cereal works well prepared the same way.
At midday, I recommend warm dishes made of fresh vegetables. For instance, you can take a slow cooker to work, start your lunch in the morning, and let it cook very slowly.
(Info: A slow cooker is an electrical cooking device with a ceramic pot and a tight lid that cooks ingredients very slowly over a longer period of time, like in slow motion.)
When your dish is ready at midday, you can season it with a Vata, Pitta or Kapha Churna. Accompanied by lassi as a drink and/or a chapati (Indian flatbread), you have a nutritious and delicious meal. The best time for lunch is between 12 pm and 1:30 pm because our digestive fire is strongest in the middle of the day.
For your evening meal, we recommend a dal soup, made of mung dal with rice or vegetables, along with a cracker or crispbread with ghee and spices.”
Tip: Delicious recipes for any time of day are available on our website.
Dr Rajat Sharma: Yes, that’s definitely a healthy breakfast. You just want to be sure not to add milk to your cereal since milk and fruit are not a good combination as per Ayurveda.”
Dr Saurabh Sharma: “Ayurveda always recommends lassi rather than yoghurt because yoghurt is difficult to digest while lassi actually strengthens digestion.
We explain how you can make your own lassi right on our website. You’ll find a good basic recipe there for probiotic lassi. From the ayurvedic perspective, ideally yoghurt shouldn’t be eaten at all but certainly not in the evening, after sunset.
Lassi has a very different effect than yoghurt. When we drink lassi before or after lunch, it supports digestion. It even stimulates the appetite when enjoyed before a meal. We also highly recommend adding a few roasted cumin seeds or a pinch or two of asafoetida (also called hing) to your lassi, this is especially good for digestion.“
Dr Saurabh Sharma: “Yes, that is very good because some legumes can increase the Vata dosha. When you soak them, they become ‘laghu’ (Sanskrit term for easy to digest, light). That can vary depending on your digestive fire (agni) but in general it’s true that soaking makes digesting legumes and absorbing their nutrients easier.”
Dr Rajat Sharma: “Honey is very healthy, but we should understand when and how to eat it. Ayurveda says, for example, that honey strengthens ojas and the immune system. What’s important is not to stir honey into fluids that are hotter than 40 °C. Honey can also be very useful when you want to reduce Kapha. What’s important is that the honey is least one year old.”
Dr Saurabh Sharma: “Ashwagandha and Amalaki are very good rasayanas. Ayurveda is very clear that all rasayanas can be taken regularly. What’s most important is that you find a high-quality product and take the appropriate amount. I often see people who overdo the quantity. So, I must recommend that they stop. The amount you said, 500 mg, is fine.
Ashwagandha supports wellbeing and balanced sleep. Ayurvedic texts also describe how Ashwagandha supports memory and strengthens the dhatus. That makes Ashwaganda a complete rasayana that I can recommend for regular consumption.”
Dr Saurabh Sharma: Everything that has to do with skin and hair is connected with Pitta. So, when you have problems with either, that means Pitta is increased or disrupted. We need to balance Pitta and choose nutrition that does that.
Hair loss in general can have many different causes but since you mentioned burning scalp, this could be the reason here. So, we should first take care of the scalp in order to get to the cause and not just the symptoms. I recommend avoiding a diet that’s spicy and overly salty and instead putting juicy and sweet food and drink on the menu.
[Note: Here “sweet” does not mean candy or sweets. For more information on the flavour classification of different kinds of food and drink, please be sure to visit our website.]
Denatured food and reheated leftovers should be avoided all together.
Pranayama – breathing exercises – are highly beneficial.
A small decoction of fennel and coriander seeds in the morning is very good.
A morning head massage with extra virgin coconut oil is good, too. Inhaling Pitta scented massage oil and the pleasure of Pitta tea can also be beneficial .”
Dr Saurabh Sharma: “A warm bath or a warm shower before going to bed is worth trying, or a warm shower before you go to bed and then massaging the soles of your feet and your hands for 2 or 3 minutes with sesame oil. That’s very good for restful sleep.
A simple recipe I recommend is just to drink a glass of lukewarm milk with 2 or 3 pinches of ground nutmeg in it before you go to bed. That’s very effective in promoting deep sleep because it reduces the Vata dosha.”
Tip: You’ll find many more valuable tips for healthy, restorative sleep here.
Dr Saurabh Sharma: “Sleep is very important in Ayurveda. The ayurvedic scriptures clearly mention that we should sleep on our left side so that the right shoulder is on top. That’s what ayurvedic texts say. Why do they recommend sleeping on the left side?
- One of the most important and quite practical reasons is that your stomach is on the left. A great deal of stomach acid is in motion there and it’s responsible for digesting your food. When we sleep on our left side, and we’ve eaten two or three hours before we go to bed, stomach acid keeps working, even while we sleep. That supports continued digestion. In other words, when we sleep on our left side, we enhance the power of our digestion. However, when we sleep on our right side or on our back, we can easily develop reflux problems.
- The heart is also slightly to the left of centre, and it keeps our blood circulating. When we sleep on our left side, that also supports the heart in giving us good circulation.
- Sleeping on the left side even avoids snoring because the tongue can’t slip backwards.”
Note: Of course, we do change positions many times during the night but it’s good to lie on our left side when we fall asleep.
There are still more interesting questions and enlightening answers in our webinar on YouTube.
And perhaps you’ll join us with your own questions at our next live webinar. We look forward to seeing you there!
Your Maharishi Ayurveda Team