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ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HEALTHY HAIR – PART 1

In conversation with Dr. Nidhi Pandya – third generation Ayurvedic practitioner. Speaking from pure experience and from her immense love for Ayurveda, Dr. Nidhi shares some wonderful tips and answers questions related to every day hair care through the perspective of Ayurveda.

She strongly believes that it is important to understand the principles before following any Ayurvedic practice, so that one is more likely to sustain it and understand the effects it has on one’s own body.

She can be found at: Instagram: @my_ayurvedic_life

Question. Can we reverse greying of hair?

Answer. Greying of hair results due to the burning of melanin cells that give color to the hair. This happens when there is excess heat that is formed in the body ie. excessive Pitta accumulation. Long periods of stress lead to building heat and drying up of the nervous system and fluids associated with it, the collagen and the oil glands leading to greying of hair.

So, it’s not possible to reverse the greying of hair but it’s definitely possible to make sure that the new hair that grows is darker and healthier. So, in order to slow down greying, its important to work towards lessening the excess heat in the system.

One way to get the heat out of the system is through a Kansa Bowl Foot Massage. 

Question. “I am experiencing a lot of hair fall in spite of oiling my hair, using organic, paraben and sulphate free shampoo and trimming regularly. What should I do?”

Answer. There are two ways to look at hair fall. One is the external reality and the other is what is happening internally within the body.
Tying your hair too tight and not brushing it can lead to hair fall which is the external reality. The tissues in the body get fed in a certain order, the essential tissues are nourished first and the last among these tissues are the bone tissues. A part of the bone and fat tissue constitutes your hair on the scalp.

Excessive wind or drying in the body is caused by harsh diets or low fat diets.
Staying up a lot of night – causes the nervous system to move faster which creates excess wind leading to drying. Here are some more ways to prevent hairfall:

1. Do inversions or head stands to improve the blood supply to the head. (supervision advised)
2. Use light weight Ayurvedic medicated light hair oils. Have a look at our Brahmi & Hibiscus Hair Massage Oil
3. Use clean products and avoid coloring of hair.
4. Practise Shatavari Ghrita Nasya every morning ideally after Pranayama (advised for age group between 30-50 and if you don’t have any toxic undigested waste and heat related symptoms.)

Question. Does coloring of hair affect the new hair that is growing?

Answer. Coloring of hair is a very harsh process which affects the entire scalp and the new growing hair. It not only degenerates the cells but also affects its lifespan. Additionally, gasses like Ammonia get absorbed by the system too causing harm.

Question. How many times should you oil your hair?
Answer. Ideally, hair can be oiled everyday through the technique of Shiro Pichu but it is not advised to wash your hair every day, as shampooing daily depletes the natural sebum and oils.

Hence, it is advised to oil hair twice or thrice a week only. Use a light shampoo post oiling your hair that doesn’t strip of the natural sebum. 

Stay tuned for more in our next blog.

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FIRE UP YOUR BELLY: THE ROLE OF AGNI IN DIGESTION

In Ayurveda, there is a saying;

A man is as old as his ‘Agni’

What Is Agni In Ayurveda?

Agni is the fire element whose primary function is digestion, absorption, assimilation and transformation of food and sensations into energy. In short, if the individual’s Agni is in optimal condition, his/her immune system is healthy.

Agni Devta

Agni is also responsible for removing waste products that build up in our cells and tissues. Hence if the fire of Agni is low, we have low nutrition coming into our body and thus poor elimination of waste. This leads to feeling weak, lack of energy and low immunity. If our Agni is robust and healthy we feel energetic and rejuvenated.

Interestingly, the presiding deity of Agni – Agnidevta has two faces. One face represents the creation of new cells and that other governs the destruction of old cells. He has three tongues that represent the three doshas: Vata, Kapha and Pitta. His three legs represent the physical body, the mental body and the consciousness. Thus, Agni represents the unified functioning of these structures and energies!

पञ्चाग्नेस्तस्य चान्यौ द्वावधिकं ज्वलतः क्षुधा । जठराग्नी सभार्यस्य दरिद्रस्य प्रजाधनैः

(Jāṭharāgni (जाठराग्नि, “metabolic fire”) is of the prime importance in the maintenance of health as well as causation of diseases. Food which is consumed by the person shares the major responsibility for being healthy or manifestation of diseases. The relation between food and health is mediated by Jāṭharāgni (the metabolic agent in Ayurveda).

Jatharagni, the central fire is very important as it acts as a doorway to digestion. In other words it governs the initial digestion, all food that we intake first pass through this Agni.

How To Maintain A Strong Agni (Digestive Fire)

Having a healthy digestive fire is extremely crucial for digestion and overall well-being and immunity. There are many ways to keep our Agni healthy and here are some:

  1. Eat well but eat only when you are truly hungry. Eat till you are satisfied and not completely full. Genuine hunger is an indicator that the previous meal has been fully digested and Agni, or digestive fire, has re-awakened.
  2. Keep that water intake coming. Drink warm or room temperature water between meals.
  3. Eat foods that are rich with Prana! (life). This translates to eating food that is light and well cooked. Certain raw foods, such as lettuce, parsley and sprouts have high Prana, so we can eat them raw as the body can digest it.
  4. If you feel heavy post a delicious lunch, then try lying on your left side for 5–15 minutes after lunch.This position activates the solar energy channel, which is linked to agni, so it is not only relaxing and rejuvenating, but also very supportive of good digestion.

Hence we understand that the role of Agni in digestion is very important and that maintaining a balanced Agni is very crucial towards achieving great health and longevity. It not only governs our digestive process but it also plays an important role in governing our emotional well being.

Reference: Lad, Vasant. Textbook of Ayurveda Vol III: General Principles of Management and Treatment. Albuquerque: The Ayurvedic Press, 2012. Print. 64-69, 134-135, 140.

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COVID-19: PRACTICAL TIPS ON STAYING PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY HEALTHY THROUGH AYURVEDA – PART 2

In continuation with our previous blog, here are 5 more additional tips that can help you stay healthy and fit.

4) MEDITATION AND SELF-AWARENESS

Meditation is the practice of thinking deeply or focusing one’s mind for a period of time. Meditation helps you to develop a stronger understanding of yourself, helping you grow into your best self.

The brain is the part of the body where meditation really works as magic. Meditation helps to the decrease negative neurological connections to the medial prefrontal cortex or ‘me center’ of the brain dampening traits such as fear, stress, and anxiety. Alternatively, it also builds new positive neurological connections to the parts of the brain responsible for promoting traits like focus and decision-making.

According to Ayurveda, Dhyana is process in which mind and the body are inextricably connected. It helps to gain self-consciousness and keep you away from the sense of fear.

a girl holding a books page with right hands tip with a pair of glasses in the background

5) BUSY YOURSELF

Keeping yourself busy is the key to a healthy and happy mind. Involve yourself in activities you like – create art, listen to music, read books, dance, spend time with nature, get close to your family members and pets.

Busy people are likely to have more opportunities to learn as they are exposed to more information and encounter a wider range of situations in daily life. When you are busy, you don’t have time to dwell on the negativity and also your neurotransmitters are regulated in proper manner.

6) SLEEP

Sleep is as important to our health as breathing, drinking and eating. It allows our body cells to repair themselves and our brains to consolidate our memories and process information.

Poor sleep is linked to physical problems such as a weakened immune system and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Lack of sleep affects levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones in the brain and impairs thinking and emotional regulation. So it is much necessary that you should take adequate sleep of at least 7 – 8 hr per day for mental wellbeing.

Ayurveda teaches us that sleep (Nidra) is one of the three pillars of health, along with food (Ahara) and energy management (Brahmacharaya). “Happiness and unhappiness, nourishment (good physique) and emaciation, strength and debility, knowledge and ignorance, life and death—all are dependent on sleep.”

glass bottles with dropper & lavender flowers in background.

7) AROMATHERAPY

Aromatherapy is a holistic approach that uses natural plant extracts to promote mental health and well-being. When we inhale the oils of aromatic herbs like lavender, sandal wood and basil through inhalation the specialized nerve cells in the upper part of the nose detect smells, they send an impulse to the brain along the olfactory nerve to an area called the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb processes the impulse and delivers the information about the smell to other neighboring areas of the brain. These other areas are known as the limbic system.

The limbic system is a set of brain structures that play an essential role in controlling behavior, emotions, memory, and mood and immediately helps to feel calm and stress free.

8) AYURVEDIC AND NATURAL HERBS

In addition to helpful lifestyle and diet changes, Ayurvedic and traditional herbal supplements can be used to treat various ailments including depression. There are many plants mentioned in Ayurveda that supports mental health.

Herbs like Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus microphyllus), Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Jatamansi (Celastrus paniculatus) and Vacha (Acorus calamus) are clinically proven to boost overall brain function thereby enhancing its capacity to deal with stress, while allaying anxiety. These mentioned herbs are potent natural nootropic and help to regulate the secretion of neurotransmitter like serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine. Also these herbs are adaptogenic and have been independently researched to show anti-stress, anxiolytic and anti-depressant properties.

To improve the brain’s cognitive function and reduce stress

Additionally, take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news and consuming viral information, which could exaggerate the anxiety levels.  Simply follow the natural ways and stay mentally strong and healthy during lock down and in the world-order, post the lockdown.