THE CONCEPT OF LIFESTYLES REGULATIONS (VIHAR) IN AYURVEDA
The modern world is currently facing an epidemic of lifestyle related diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart diseases, etc., which primarily result from stress, improper diet, and an irregular or sedentary lifestyle (lack of discipline and physical activity). Ayurveda believes that in order to achieve and maintain healthful living, it is essential to practice healthy lifestyles recommended by Ayurveda. Some of these prominent practices are discussed below:
Daily regimen & Seasonal regimen (Dinacharya & Rutucharya)
Dinacharya practises include waking up early in the morning, elimination of our bodily wastes, maintaining oral hygiene (cleaning teeth and tongue, gargling etc.), exercising regularly, body massage, bathing, clothing, eye care, nasal care, etc. Eating seasonally is also an approach favored in the ancient science of Ayurveda. Health is affected by the nature and climate of outer environment which influences our body.
Ayurveda believes that getting an 8-hour sleep should be less important than getting quality sleep, which is possible only when the mind completely dissociates itself from the senses. Quality sleep recharges and nourishes the mind, replenishes the all tissues of the wear and tear and improves both short and long term mental powers. Therefore, a regular pattern of quality sleep should be maintained.
Social and moral conduct (Sadvritta)
Ayurveda describes the codes of social and moral conduct under the aegis of Achara rasayana. For maintaining healthy sense organs and the mind, one should follow Ayurvedic codes of social and moral conduct such as being honest & truthful, having morals, avoiding being greedy, and avoiding hatred and jealousy. Also maintaining general hygiene, diet, sexual life and exercise can prevent lifestyle disorders.
Yoga & Meditation
Yoga defines itself as a practical, methodical, and systematic discipline or set of techniques that have the lofty goal of helping human beings to become aware of their deepest nature. Today, most people have incorporated Yoga in their lifestyles to increase flexibility in their body and to reduce stress in their mind. Yoga practices include posture (asana), breathing (pranayama), control of subtle forces (mudra and bandha), cleansing the body-mind (shat karma), visualizations, chanting of mantras, and many forms of meditation. Yoga has been found to enhance the efficiency of the heart, help curing the body from stress, strains, blood pressure, digestive problems and other lifestyle disorders.
Since our biological clocks are attuned to the rising and setting of the sun, it is obviously better to awake at sunrise in perfect synchronisation to the natural clock. An ideal time to let the body cells soak in the strength of a tempered sun to be charged for the day. Drinking a glass of luke-warm water helps flush out all toxins accumulated overnight in the body.
The last portion of the night being ruled by vata – involved in the process of elimination – dawn is the best time to eliminate the body’s physical waste. Proper elimination also helping remove the kapha that naturally accumulates overnight. Defecation once or twice daily is the best. Preferably not immediately after a meal. But urination then is wise. Examine your eliminations each morning and if you notice any disturbance indicating poor digestion, go on a fast. It will allow the body rest to correct the system before disease sets in. Never suppress the natural physical urges as elimination, hunger, thirst, sleep, sneezing, yawning, vomiting, flatus and ejaculation, for it will lead to discomfort and even disease.
Thorough washing of the limbs, face, mouth, eyes & nose purifies the bodies sense organs. Best done with a bath in clean water, it should accompany brushing of the teeth (should be repeated after every meal), scraping off a toxicated coating of ama from the tongue, occasional gargling of salt water with a pinch of turmeric to keep gums, mouth & throat healthy, proper cleaning of the nose and the ears and washing the eyes with warm water held in mouth for moments (saliva being very good for the eyes). Keep your hair trimmed, nails filed and wear clean clothes. Feel free to use perfumes in moderation and feel good.
Either passive like massage or active like aerobics or both as in yoga postures, regular exercise increases the body’s stamina and resistance to disease by facilitating the immune system, clearing all channels, promoting circulation & waste disposal, and destroying fat. Done regularly, it can reduce anxiety but become addictive. Depending on age & body type, kaphas can go for heavy exercises, pittas should do it in moderation and vatas should perform yoga and not aerobics. Never exert more than half your capacity, during illness, just after a meal and without rhythmic breathing. Swimming, walking and even laughing are excellent options.
Necessary for every person, a regular self-massage with herbal oils is usually adequate but needs to be supplemented with professional attention occasionally. It makes the skin supple, controls vata by reducing its cold, dry, light, rough & erratic qualities, enhances blood circulation, encourages quicker removal of metabolic wastes and relaxes the body. Follow the normal direction of hair growth, use a little extra oil over the body’s vital parts, massage the scalp and head at least weekly and just the soles of your feet if short of time.
Ideal for disciplining the mind and removing stress & strain, it is best done after a quick bath to cleanse yourself. Critical in satisfying the mind’s hunger, when done well it is so nourishing that even the body can survive on less. Control of desire, or mental hunger, is the key to longevity and immortality. Anything can be meditation so long it is sincere and heartfelt. The simplest and healthiest involves the sun and its golden colour is deemed the most nourishing and productive.
While this routine acts as a critical shield of defence against the destabilising influences of an external environment, by using selective choice in some of the other factors mentioned below you can easily improve upon the condition of your total health.
In shielding from extreme temperatures, it tends to reflect the temperament of the wearer in a society showing growing preponderance of the same. Should always be light & airy, and made of natural fibres as cotton, wool, linen or silk. Always wear clean, and never anyone else’s except that of a saint. Since energy is brought into the body through the crown of the head and exits from the soles of the feet – extracting abnormal heat from the system – the polluted energy usually collects in the footwear. So avoid wearing other’s footwear, try not to take shoes into the house and walk barefoot whenever possible. And wooden sandals are more healthy than animal skin or rubber shoes.
Since work consumes at least one-third part of our lives and success or failure in your profession affects self-confidence, self-worth, it is important that the nature of work should match well with your prakriti.
Vata people love work that requires sudden bursts of intense energy. But it tends to exhaust them also. So to balance it off, despite their dislike, they should be in routine jobs, slightly repetitive. Need a soothing home and work environment to smooth out their rough edges. They need adequate rest, specially in the afternoons. And should avoid places where the air is exceptionally cool and dry e.g. the freezing cold inside electronics manufacturing outfits or exceptionally dusty fertiliser mills. The ideal jobs must have enough excitement to hold their interest and sufficient routine to avoid imbalances.
Pitta people are very practical, making good administrators but not original thinkers. By nature aggressive and self-promoting, these realists see everything as a contest that has to be won. Insisting on being in the forefront of all activity, they cram as much work as they can, demanding perfect functioning from their bodies all the time. They do not take delays and obstacles to their plans well and must seriously try to be fair to and keep their professional and private lives separate. They should avoid work that is physically irritating or involves heat (as welding or metal casting) and listen more to others. They should ideally have sufficient challenge to keep them occupied without the stress of severe competition.
Innate Kapha stability and balance makes them great administrators. They must make a conscious effort bring in change or variety to their otherwise staid and routine lives. And ensure that even if work is not physically active, leisure is. Slow to get going in the morning, competition is good for them although they may find it stressful.