By Guru Simran Khalsa
Ayurveda is the ancient science of India, meaning literally “the art of healthy living”. It is one of three sister sciences, or Vedas, the other two being Yoga and Meditation. When we study and practice Ayurveda we learn how to be bountifully healthy; yoga gives us the experience of God consciousness, and meditation trains our minds to connect our finite selves to the infinite. These three sciences are thousands of years old and were originally designed to be utilized together. However, in our modern age there is a tendency to separate them. Fortunately, we can still derive great benefit from practicing Ayurveda on its own.
The ancient seers of India saw that there was a principle of energy which gives life, force, animation, and energy to all living things. This energy of life is called Prana, meaning the primal life force. As well, there are the principles of light and love. Life is connected to the element air, light to the element of fire, and love to water.
We, and all of nature, are composed of the elements of ether, air, fire, water, and earth. Two of these five elements combine to form biological humors called doshas, which are considered “that which can decay or go out of balance’. Air and ether combine to form Vata, which is “that which creates our mental balance”. Fire and water combine to form Pitta, or “that which digests things”. Pitta also governs our ability to perceive reality. Water combines with earth to form Kapha, “that which holds things together,” which provides the bulk in our body and governs love, compassion, patience, and forgiveness.
In order to stay healthy we need to keep these three doshas in balance. Summer is the season when Pitta dominates with its corresponding heat and long days of light. In fall Vata dominates and the weather can change dramatically from one day to the next, as we would associate with the element of air (dryness of skin, colds from drafts). In winter Kapha prevails, and we experience wet, cold, moist weather. Springtime is a combination of Kapha and Pitta as the earth comes to life and all of nature experiences a rebirth.
As we have the stability of Kapha and the fire of Pitta, springtime is the ideal time to cleanse our bodies from the tendency to overeat and hibernate in winter.
There are many different ways to cleanse our bodies. Upon arising it is helpful to clear the nostrils as through them flows the energy from our Pranic body to our physical body, and if this channel is blocked we will lack energy and open ourselves to a weakening of our immune system. Place ¼ teaspoon of iodized salt in ½ cup of warm water and pour part of this into a netti pot. Position the open end of the netti pot into the left nostril and tilt the head to the same side. The water will flow into your nostrils and head. Carry out the same procedure a few times in each nostril. Also scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper. This removes the undigested food mass, or Ama, which accumulates on the tongue, from the previous day. By removing the small amount of Ama, you will improve your breath and your health, as the accumulation of Ama over a period of ars in our internal organs is the pre-condition for developing disease. Follow this by putting a few drops of ghee (clarified butter) or almond oil on the tip of massage inside each nostril. Do the same with your ears. This simple regime, carried out daily or twice daily, of nasal washing, tongue scraping, and monitoring of nose and ears will fill you with energy and mental clarity and will facilitate your long-term good health.
An ideal cleansing diet for the first 30-60 days of spring is to avoid all animal products, including dairy and meat, as well as highly refined foods, such as white bread and refined sugar. Eating fruits, vegetables, healthy grains, fish, salads, and nuts and using vegetable oils for salads will give your body a wonderful opportunity to utilize the energy of spring to re-energize itself. You can add to this regimen, cleansing teas such as Bija Deep Cleanse Tea, which contains detoxifying Burdock Root, Dandelion, and Yellow Dock Root, contentment building Licorice, and strengthening Cinnamon. In addition, throughout the day drink Bija Double Ginger Tea or Lemon Ginger Echinacea Tea as the Ginger promotes the increase of your digestive fire, or Agni, which promotes physical and mental vitality and also destroys Ama.
Or if you like curry flavor you can go on a mono diet of mung beans and rice for thirty days (see Kichadi recipes in Ayurvedic Cookery by Morningstar and Desai). The combination of the mung beans and rice is a complete protein and the spices and vegetables cooked in it make it delicious. You won’t feel hungry and will be re-vitalized after eating instead of feeling full and tired. Also combine with Bija Deep Cleanse and Bija Double Ginger teas through the day.
May God bless you with good health and contentment.
About Guru Simran Khalsa
Involved in the natural health industry for 25 years, Guru Simran Khalsa has dedicated himself to the study of traditional healing practices from around the world and has taught Ayurveda, yoga, meditation, and nutrition courses throughout North America. He is a graduate of the City College of the City University of New York (CCNY). Having majored in history, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from CCNY in 1971. In 1973 Guru Simran Khalsa earned his teaching certificate from the Toronto Teacher’s College.