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Everyday Ayurveda

Books like this encourage you to keep healthy habits, therefore I recommend everyone to read it not only once but several times in their life to keep yourself on track.

Originally published: December 31, 2014

Author: Bhaswati Bhattacharya

Genre: Self-help book

It’s a very good book. It explains scientifically the benefits of Ayurveda. Interestingly these have been common practices in many Indian households even today, like keeping quiet while eating, touching the ground before leaving the bed, or washing our face as we wake up. As a child, I have done some of these myself but with time as we started adopting the western lifestyle, we have somewhere lost these habits. The book provides an abundance of clarity on why things happened in my house the way they happened.

People nowadays are skeptical of these ancient Indian practices because they have been disputed by recent advances in medicine. But it’s bizarre when they approve products that contain harmful elements. For instance, doctors say excess sugar leads to tooth cavities, but they approve toothpaste that uses artificial sweeteners for flavor.

Another example is chemical facewashes, when it removes harmful bacteria from our face, it also kills the natural ones which actually protects our skin. With just a little fact check, you’ll know the dangers of using products that we use in our routine. Colgate, being such a big and famous brand uses sodium lauryl sulfate in their toothpaste which can cause lung infection with long-term use.

The schedule of our western lifestyle restricts us but doesn't bound us to still reconnect to a healthy lifestyle. Although the book gives many habits that should be followed, I am summarizing very few of them here which I believe can still go with our busy life:

  • Washing the face with cold water as soon as you wake up (include the eyes, nose, and mouth)

  • Rinsing mouth after every meal and try to avoid chemical-based toothpaste to clean your teeth

  • Drink a glass of warm water in the morning

  • Do some eye exercises

  • Lubricate your nose with ghee or oil every night before you go to bed

  • Don’t eat at least 3 hours before you sleep

  • Early to bed and early to rise actually does the wonders

  • Spend some time every day to appreciate what you have

Although the book provides a basic set of routine that we can follow, it lacks elaborative explanations; for example, it says that oil has different effects on the body from good to bad depending on how long the oil has been cooked, but it doesn’t explain how long it should be cooked to get the maximum benefits. It is just touching upon Ayurveda, not giving a more detailed narration as per my expectation.

....the vaidya watched a student lather lotion onto her dry hands during class. He asked humorously, ‘Are you going to eat that lotion next?’ She quickly frowned and answered, ‘Of course not. I would get sick; it is probably poisonous.’ To this, the vaidya quickly quipped, ‘Then why do you put it on your skin. Doesn’t your skin eat?’

…..In medical terms, dry air in the operating room dries the nostrils over time, creating micro-cracks in the mucous layer inside the nose. Airborne toxins from chemicals, patients and cleansers in operating rooms find their way into the microscopic cracks and wedge in, creating a warning for the body, which sends in immune system soldiers to attack the foreign particles. These immune cells release their defences, including histamine to call in more soldiers, killing bacteria but also human cells, and they release fluids as they flood the nostrils to do their work. The result is a runny nose, itching from the histamine, redness from all the inflammatory chemicals of the immune system and a stuffy nose from all the fluids

….She found data that showed correlation with hair breakage, as well as teratogenicity, the ability to harm an unborn child. Toluene, methacrylates and phthalates were at the top of the list as known teratogens, mostly through inhalation and small vapourized particles that landed on the body or touched the nailed skin chronically, but the implications of the data were that harm was possible….

…..Āyurveda gives three points of counsel: spend time in nature, cultivate close relationships of trust and love, and go inward and reconnect daily—doing construction and repair work on the scaffolding of your mind. Negative emotions, such as fear, worry and jealousy, upset the mind’s calm, the soul’s purpose and the body’s work. Learn to express physical urges and suppress over-expression of psychological urges. To process negative emotions and repair the mind, Spend time in nature Cultivate close relationships of trust and love Go inward and reconnect daily.

…In my suitcase lives an Āyurvedic emergency kit containing small plastic bags, travel bottles and little glass jam jars filled with cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, jeera (cumin seeds), ajwain , neem, guduchi , ghee, nasya oil, mustard oil, sesame oil and attar . There is also a small mirror, a toothpick, anjana and a small cotton towel for insulation. The cloves and cardamom act as mouth fresheners and can also be added to tea to warm it if the weather suddenly turns cold. Jeera can be combined with warm sesame oil and applied below the navel to relieve unexpected lower abdominal spasms or menstrual cramps. Ajwain and neem are great emergency medicines for gastroenteritis, nausea or indigestion, especially when suspecting food poisoning. These stimulate the digestive fire and burn out anything that should not be there. Guduchi boosts immunity. Ghee is a moisturizer, dry eye reliever and great for cuts and wounds. It is applied to the eyes at bedtime to balance the dosha s and lower pitta and vāta. Nasya oil cleans dirt that gets into nostrils and moistens them. Mustard oil is great before baths in cold weather and is rubbed vigorously on the soles of the feet at the first sign of a cold or head stuffiness. Sesame oil is rubbed into the feet before bed to lower vāta . Attar is an emergency for foul body odour or dirty encounters. Anjana is for protecting the eyes from foreign unwanted energies during travel. The small cotton towel is placed over baggage or used as a pillow cover to keep the face protected during sleep while travelling.

…On relationships, principles of forgiveness, lack of ego and commitment to their relationship

I like this book more because it's like a compilation of healthy practices that I have seen in my household and it invokes childhood memories.

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