Dinacharya Series # 3 Personal Hygiene Ancient Greek medicine shares several similarities to Ayurveda concerning the theories related to health. A sneak peek into the history of hygiene takes us back to the time of Hippocrates when medical science achieved a divine and royal status. The term hygiene comes from ‘Hygeia,’ the Goddess of Hygiene in Greek mythology. She was one among the five daughters of Asclepius, who was proclaimed as the God of medicine. When her father was more into the treatment and cure of the diseased, Hygeia was keener on the preventive aspects of illnesses. She was an epitome of cleanliness and wellbeing, and as an honor, the word hygiene was derived from her name. This also signifies the prominence of personal hygiene in the society of ancient civilizations. Fast forward to the year 2021. The term personal hygiene has never been this relevant. Even when we boast of the advancements in medicine and technology, a minute organism that we cannot see with the naked eye is ruling the world. What started as a fever and breathing trouble in one person spread in the blink of an eye and locked down the entire planet. With experiments to discover vaccines against the virus is in full swing, there is one thing that scientists and medical professionals repeatedly say to the common man – “practice personal hygiene”. Ayurveda gives immense importance to personal hygiene and considers it a primary step against disease prevention. Read on to know what Ayurveda says about personal hygiene and innovative ways to implement it on what is considered as your ‘new normal life.’ SHOUCHAKRAMAM / MALOTSARGA VIDHI “If one’s bowels move, one is happy and if they don’t move, one is unhappy. That is all there is to it.” -Lin Yutang Each one of us must have encountered situations in our lives where we had to ignore nature's call owing to our busy lives or due to some other reasons. Ever thought about the consequences? Have you noticed feeling low, the heaviness of the abdomen, or slight headache when you have constipation or when you do not eliminate a day? Attending to natural urges on time and following a daily pattern according to the body’s rhythm contribute to a sound physical and mental state. Ayurveda considers a regular bowel movement every day as a sign of perfect health. The ancient Ayurveda Acharyas must be well aware that our body tends to
Neuroplasticity is the ability to undergo biological changes ranging from the cellular level to large scale changes involving cortical remapping. Such changes often happen as a result of psychological experiences. During such changes, the brain engages in synaptic pruning, deleting the neuronal connections that are no longer necessary or useful, and strengthening the useful ones.
The Tridosha Siddhanta The Tridosha theory is one of the most discussed yet very vaguely understood concepts in Ayurveda. It forms the basis of Ayurvedic physiology, pathology and pharmacology. But the lack of definite interpretations and fruitful discussions leave many questions unanswered, prompting the scientists to question even the credibility and scientific basis of Ayurveda. Ayurveda has undergone many changes over the years, not in its fundamental principles but the way it is interpreted and practiced. But there is one thing that remains the same even after generations - the insatiable human curiosity to question everything until the truth is transparent. Let’s try to unleash one of the most enigmatic theories of all times, the Tridosha Siddhanta. “If you cannot explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough” -Albert Einstein. The origin and evolution of Tridosha Siddhanta The Tridoshas or Vata, Pitta and Kapha are mostly explained as bio-energies which cannot be seen with the naked eye, yet experienced at various levels. As per Ayurvedic principles, a perfect harmony between the Tridoshas in the body contributes to health and any imbalance causes disease. But these descriptions are so vague that it leaves many basic unexplained questions as to what it really is. To get into a deeper level of analysis, it is imperative that we start afresh beginning with the origin and evolution of the theory itself. Vedas are considered as the ultimate source of knowledge and the most ancient literature scripts available now. The earliest relatable reference of Tridoshas is available in Atharva veda where the derangement of three physiological factors are claimed to be responsible for the manifestation of diseases. Those factors are described as shushka, siktha and sanchari which are translated to dry, wet and permeating respectively. So, there is every reason to think that the ancient Ayurveda Acharyas took these three as the main properties of what is considered as the basis of life, which later termed as Vata, Pitta and Kapha respectively. The ancient sages were the spectators of every natural phenomenon and this observation led to the interpretation that the living beings need gaseous air, liquid water and solid food for sustenance. These are the three forms of matter without which life is non-existent. They are interdependent too as in, air is required for the formation of water and water is needed for the formation of food & digestion. So the ultimate basis of life should also be existing
Though Yoga literally means "yoke", "unify", it is also a developed system of philosophy, as well as a practical method to realise the ultimate truth originated in ancient India and codified mainly by Patanjali. Let us look at what makes Yoga different from other systems of thought, so we can understand its metaphysical, ontological, psychological and practical view of life. Historically this may have developed well before Christ and developed side by side other systems of thought in ancient India, but we can clearly see the correlation of Yoga with the Sankhya system. In spite of the connection with the Sankhya doctrines, Yoga differs from it on matters of psychology, ethics etc. and brought a scientific approach to disciplinary practices with rigour and great clarity.
One of the greatest contributions of India is the metaphysics of self knowledge called Samkhya, which says the knowledge of an object, the object itself and the process of knowing is all one. This is the essence of wisdom and experientially accessible for anyone through the practice of Yoga. Yoga thus is the methodology to test this hypothesis of samkhya, just like we do the lab experiment to prove a theorem in modern physical sciences.
There is no single English word to convey the meaning of the Sanskrit word prana, the nearest word in English is probably "life energy" or "vital energy" that permeates the whole universe and our bodies. The breath that goes in and out of our bodies connect the microcosm within to the macrocosm and if one breath that goes out does not come back life is finished, isn’t it? Prana is in a way our real Mother in whom we are born, sustained and to whom we go back to. The inhalation is the inspiration for life itself and exhalation is the main expiration of toxins from our biological system that keeps us alive and conscious. Breath, like a power plug acts as the source of our entire energy supply to every cell.
Depression : It's More Than ‘Just A Bad Day’ William Styron, in his memoir Darkness visible, has vividly explained about his tryst with depression, comparing the pain and agony of mental health as that of a heart attack. He defines depression as the ‘grey drizzle of unrelenting horror’. Depression is no longer a dark, terrible secret which you need to hide from the world. More and more people are now ready to break their silence about this perennial plague of the human mind which had been concealed by cultural baggage all these years. The earliest understanding of depression was a spiritual condition caused by demonic possession. It was Hippocrates who described it as a disease named ‘melancholia’, but he included all kinds of quiet insanity under this term. This concept was repeatedly moulded and reconceived, to give rise to our current understanding of depression. What is Depression? Depression is a mood disorder that causes distressing symptoms with a persistent feeling of sadness, pessimism, guilt, or hopelessness that can last for weeks, months, or years. According to WHO, depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. It comes in various forms, but as it is intangible and imperceptible, it is a lot difficult to diagnose, empathise, and understand the situation. It is important to understand the difference between clinical depression and feeling sad. Almost everyone feels blue from time to time; failing an examination, an illness, losing a loved one, or even an argument can make you sad. This is completely normal and as the situation changes, we learn to cope with our emotions and return to normalcy. Clinical depression on the other hand is a debilitating medical condition that continues for at least two or more weeks consecutively, significantly affecting physical, emotional, social wellbeing and interfering with the ability to work. Sometimes it may also be accompanied by anxiety, as both of them stem from the same vulnerability. Because of its complexity, understanding depression has been elusive, yet even in the most severe cases, depression is highly treatable. Causes Neuroscientists still don’t have the real answer as to what exactly causes depression. It is a result of a complex interaction of genetic, biological, and psychological factors that may be caused by faulty mood regulation by the brain and triggered by a negative experience or a stressful condition. We all have to encounter stressful events at some point in life, and we all feel sad, but not
Stress In Women COVID-19 has spread panic throughout the world. We don’t have any idea, how much will we be impacted and when is this pandemic going to end. The uncertainty and ambiguity surrounding the situation make it even more challenging and overwhelming. As we stare into the fear of contracting the disease, unemployment, dwindling economy, starvation, and alcoholism, another public health crisis is gearing up in the background silently, which could be more fatal than coronavirus. The social and economic meltdown will create an atmosphere of uncertainty and panic, which could become the perfect breeding ground for stress, anxiety, depression, addictive behaviours, morbidity, and suicide. Everyone is having a hard time coping with this unprecedented situation. But the surprising fact is that there is a stark gender gap in how this unhappiness is distributed. Women are having a harder time than their male counterparts, juggling their career and family life. What is stress? Stress is a natural reaction of the body to any immediate threat or difficult situation. Stress response was honed as a homeostatic tool in our ancestors to make them more attentive towards a predator or impending danger. But nowadays, our challenges are emotional and psychological threats rather than physical ones, like a looming deadline or workplace competition. This may prove positive in some cases, by motivating us or sharpening our senses, but prolonged stress can have negative effects like increased heart rate, fluctuating blood pressure, rise in muscle tension, increased susceptibility to develop anxiety and depression which can deeply impact our health, mood, performance, and wellbeing. Effects of stress on women While stress can cause physical and psychological symptoms in both men and women alike, the intensity and reaction to stress has a strong relation to gender. Unlike men who have a “fight or flight reaction” to stress, with emotions ranging from rage, recklessness, and anger, women have a “tend and befriend” appxroach which is more apt for negotiating. The exact mechanism of this is not known, but the difference in brain and hormone levels is a possible cause of these exclusive reactions in women. The stress hormones produced in men are cortisol and adrenaline, whilst in women, in addition to these two, oxytocin, a hormone that promotes bonding, is secreted. This causes women to seek social support and try to reason out why they are feeling stressed, while men tend to withdraw socially and exhibit signs of rage and anger. But why
Stress In Children Children and adolescents might feel stressed and anxious owing to fear surrounding COVID-19 and isolation due to social distancing. Parents need to devise methods tailored and customised according to a child’s age and needs to help them overcome this stressful situation. The COVID-19 situation and ensuing social distancing are gravely affecting children and adolescents as they are forced to stay at home, away from school and friends. Parents are worried about how to manage and nurture the needs of growing kids and how much the current situation is going to affect them, as they are living in almost a hostage like situation, locked in their homes. Early years of life are significant and providing a stable and nurturing environment is essential as the brain is undergoing rapid development. The social isolation and lack of interaction with their peers in their formative years can lead to a multitude of social and behavioural adversities in children. In order to be safe and keep others safe, we are practicing social distancing, but this means that kids are losing out on very important relationships in their life: their friends and teachers who can help them cope with the stress of this crisis. Stress disrupts aspects of brain development that regulate emotional and cognitive processes and promote normal social relationships. Adolescents on the other hand are in a crucial developmental stage where they are highly vulnerable to many psychological dysfunctions. What Is Stress? Stress is a normal reaction to a difficult situation or a physical danger. The human body releases stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream, speeding up blood pressure, heart rate, and metabolism. This helps in preparing a person to act quickly under a critical condition. However, when stress continues for a longer period of time, it can produce long term physical and psychological impairment, and this becomes increasingly concerning in case of kids and teens as they are in the formative years and these negative emotions might sow the seeds of future mental disorders like anxiety and depression in them. Stress In Kids Kids may not fully comprehend the economic and health impact that COVID-19 is going to have, but they notice that their parents are stressed and get worried themselves. Toddlers and preschoolers cannot express their feelings clearly, but instead exhibit physical symptoms of stress, like abdominal pain, tantrums, and bedwetting. Reactions like this which are different than the kid’s typical conduct indicate