Maharishi Ayurveda Health Tips
Drinking Hot Water
Drinking hot water regularly is a classical Ayurvedic recommendation for balancing Vata and Kapha dosha, strengthening digestive power, and reducing metabolic waste (Ama) that may have accumulated. Boil a sufficient amount of unchlorinated tap water or (still) mineral water in an open saucepan, for at least ten minutes. Keep this water in a thermos flask and take a few sips (or more, if you are thirsty) every half-hour throughout the day. It is the frequency rather than the quantity that is important here. To increase the positive effect you can add 1-2 slices of fresh ginger (or a pinch of ginger powder) to the water when boiling it.
Exercising for Good Health
Exercise is an important part of Maharishi Ayurveda but as with many good things in life, there is a limit to the amount of exercise that should be taken, and if one goes beyond this, the results will be negative rather than positive.
- Do not strain the body in your daily exercise. Remain within 50% of your capacity When you begin to breathe heavily or perspire a lot, then you should stop or slow down.
- Regularity is the key to success. A quarter of an hour each day is better than five hours once a week.
- Do your exercise preferably in the mornings between 6 and 10 o'clock.
- Follow a healthy diet, and support mind and body with Ayurvedic food supplements.
- Observe the important relaxation and regeneration phase after exercise.
- Practise Yoga Asanas regularly.
Daily Oil Massage
One of the most enjoyable things you can do for your body and health is to have a full-body oil massage in the morning before your bath or shower. An oil massage has a soothing effect on the nervous system (Vata), strengthens the circulation, and helps to remove toxins from the body. The Ayurvedic texts explain that the use of oil massage brings about a soft, flexible, strong and attractive body. It is extremely beneficial for the skin and should therefore be done regularly.
Guidelines for oil massage
Allow about 15 minutes, in the morning. The massage can be done either standing up or sitting down, in a comfortably warm room. Ideally the oil should be heated beforehand to a little above body temperature. Massage slowly and evenly, using the whole hand. By the end of the massage, a thin film of oil should cover the whole body.
Start by massaging the head region, with small circular movements. Then do the neck, throat, shoulders, arms and hands. Massage the limbs with long straight strokes up and down; for the joints use circular movements. The chest and stomach area should be massaged very gently. Use circular strokes on the chest, straight up-and-down strokes over the breastbone and solar plexus. For the abdomen use a slow, circular, clockwise movement. Massage the back and the base of spine up and down with the flat of the hands - as far as you can comfortably reach. The legs are done in the same manner as the arms: circular movements on the joints, straight strokes on the limbs. Finally, massage the feet and the soles of the feet. Best results are achieved if you leave the oil on for 15 minutes at least, before taking a bath or a shower, so that the body has time to absorb the oil. If you are short of time, then massage only the head, ears and soles of the feet.
Nowadays many people find it difficult to switch off in the evening and enjoy a good, deep sleep. The Ayurvedic texts give the following recommendations for people who have difficulty in sleeping: Regular oil massages; occupying oneself with pleasant and uplifting things; warm baths; light food in the evening (e.g. soups) and not taken too late; use of aroma oils; listening to relaxing and pleasing music; a comfortable bed and a pleasant atmosphere in the bedroom. Ayurveda recommends going to bed before ten o'clock: Each time of day has a different "quality". From 6 to 10 in the evening Kapha dosha is predominant, which facilitates failing asleep. From 10 o'clock onwards is Pitta time, when mental experiences should be being processed during sleep. If instead one remains awake, it is a common experience that the tiredness gradually disappears and one is then unable to fall asleep till well past midnight.
Recipes for Lassi
Lassi is an Ayurvedic yoghurt drink, which not only tastes wonderful but
also helps digestion and balances all the doshas. Yogurt and
lassi are not considered the same thing in Maharishi Ayurveda. Lassi is best
taken after lunch or late afternoon rather than evening.
Basic recipe for making lassi: Blend thoroughly one part fresh, set yoghurt with 2-4 parts water, preferably using a mixer or a whisk). The flavours may be varied to suit your taste and the season. Try cooling rose or coconut, and cardamom with a little sugar in summer, and warming almond or salt in winter.
Rose lassi: Before mixing, add a few drops of rosewater, and sweeten if desired (rosewater can be obtained in delicatessen and chemist shops).
Almond Energy lassi: Before mixing, add 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of "Almond Energy" powder.
Coconut lassi: Add a dash of coconut milk or coconut puree, and cane sugar if desired. An added refinement could be to add a pinch of vanilla and cardamom.
Digestive lassi (helpful for gas problems): Add some rock salt, ground cumin, and two pinches of cumin, half a tsp of fresh coriander chopped. According to Ayurveda, salt lassi is particularly good for the digestion.
Also try lassi with vanilla, cardamom or cinnamon.
Relaxed Meals for Good Health
The following tips on healthy eating are simple and yet very effective. If your eating and dietary habits are substantially different from these, introduce the Ayurvedic guidelines gradually. These tips are for educational purposes only and should not be used to treat, diagnose or mitigate a disease. If you are under the care of a doctor check with her/him the suitability for you of these suggestions.
- Eat only when genuinely hungry and when your last meal is fully digested (about 3-6 hours after a main meal).
- Eat in a quiet and relaxed atmosphere. While eating you should not read, work or watch television. Always sit down to eat.
- Do not over eat. After eating, the stomach should be only up to 3/4 full.
- Sit quietly for 5-10 minutes at the end of each meal
- Lunch should be the main meal of the day. Breakfast and evening meals should be light. The evening meal should not be taken too late.
- In the evening avoid heavy foods such as meat, fish, yoghurt, cheese, buttermilk and fromage frais.
- Try to be regular in your meal times. Eat at the same times each day.
- Avoid eating between meals. Instead drink hot water, or if necessary eat ripe sweet fruit.
- Food should be freshly prepared; it should be wholesome and should taste good. Avoid reheated or stale food.
- Most of one's food should be cooked, as the body can more easily absorb cooked food. Raw food should be eaten only as a side dish (e. g. salad).
- Make use of culinary spices. They not only make the food tasty, but support the digestive processes as well.
- Include all 6 tastes in each meal: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. The tastes also have their own influence on the subtle inner balance of the physiology.
- During meals you may sip liquids such as water, juice or lassi. Do not drink a lot and avoid ice-cold drinks - they dampen down the digestive processes.
- Milk should not be drunk with the main meal. It can be taken alone or with a light meal of sweet tasting foods (e.g. toast, cereals etc). Minimise food of other tastes.
- Honey should not be heated above body temperature (40 degrees C) and therefore should not be used in cooking or baking.
- Take appropriate food supplements as required.
Ghee or Clarified Butter
Ghee has many fine qualities according to ayurveda. Used in cooking it enhances the sattva or pure quality in food. Also it acts as a digestive. It is good for both Vata and Pitta. Take 250g or more unsalted butter and melt slowly in a large pan. Gently simmer for 30-40 minutes. When the frothing has stopped and the ghee is clear and golden brown, remove from the heat and strain through muslin into glass jars. Ghee does not need to be refrigerated.
Profound but gentle cleansing is an important element of Panchakarma treatment. At home Ayurveda recommends a short period of gentle cleansing at the start of each season and especially in springtime. The general advice is to follow a light diet for about ten days, together with regular drinking of hot water and food supplements to support the digestive power. It is best to consult an Maharishi Ayurveda doctor to get a programme tailored for your own needs.