Rasayanas & Remedies
According to Ayurveda, our bodies digest and are changed by every experience we have. Whether it be a delicious, healthy meal, the love we feel for our family, or a full day of work—EVERYTHING we do and experience intimately affects our health and well-being.
A Rasayana is "That which Nourishes"
There are many kinds of rasayanas ranging from positive behaviors to especially nourishing foods, all of which promote life in important ways.
Being kind to others is a rasayana; speaking the truth (kind truth) and not being jealous are rasayanas; eating sattvic (pure) healthy food is a rasayana; seeking the company of elders is a rasayana.
Meditation is a powerful rasayanas because it enlivens the wholeness value of life in mind and body.
There are general rasayanas that are good for everyone, and specific rasayanas, e.g. good for children, the elderly, men, women.
There are even rasayanas for the different doshs (physical qualities). "To take care of any problem, apply or take sesame oil for vata; ghee for pitta; honey for kapha (have to be very careful with honey)." Vaidya J.R. Raju ~ Never eat heated honey or cook with honey ~ becomes toxic.
Life & Health Promoting Behavioral Rasayanas
"Any rasayana will cost a little bit but behavioral rasayanas, even without paying you can have the benefits on your own, so how simple it is...free rasayana! All the good behaviors are behavioral rasayanas, like speaking the truth and being with all the good qualities, and good daily routine…all these good things."
Vaidya J.R. Raju
Early to Bed / Early to Rise
Help Others & Speak Kind Truth
Seek the Company of Elders
“We are making the big protection by saving, by protecting the skin. The skin protects so much…protects the smriti (cellular memory). Because of this it is said that just by doing abhyanga every day it avoids gara, the old age [increasing vata]....we have to maintain that vital energy. The techniques are there [from ancient ayurveda]; they are the keys. It creates another level of kavatch (protection). You have to make your skin very powerful to carry the message of the immortality [throughout the body]. We have to maintain this invincible skin with abhyanga.”
Vaidya J.R. Raju
Practice daily abhyanga, self oil massage ~ a cornerstone of the Ayurvedic daily routine:
Nothing pacifies vata dosha (physical change/instability), and keeps it balanced better than daily abhyanga. Self Abhyanga Instructions
Balance activity with rest in your life:
Stay in tune with the planetary cycles of day and night, by going to bed early and waking up early.
Meditate daily to enliven silence from within (SEE LINK:http://wwv.tm.org/).
Avoid strain / over-working.
Take regular, moderate exercise (nothing extreme in this regard). "You must be very, very careful with gym work. The best is yoga, and walking, and swimming. If you keep these things plus yoga...yoga is the best exercise—the best thing which cannot harm you is best." Dr. J.R. Raju
“The energies flowing in our body are focusing and aiming, structuring everything. Good thoughts create the good energies, bad thoughts create the bad energies. Non-fear can reverse ANYTHING."
Vaidya J.R. Raju
"Not worrying" is a powerful rasayana for health:
Look to the positive and avoid negativity (don't over-analyze/over-think problems) ~ "What we put our attention on grows stronger in our lives." Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Do regular daily meditation to strengthen the mind and take good panchakarma annually to cleanse & rejuvenate the system.
Balance mind and body both with good rest & fresh cooked food (light breakfast / good lunch / light dinner).
Use nasika oil several times a day (herbalized oil application in the nostrils followed by pranayama ~ clears and protects body & mind).
Sip hot water frequently ~ opens & clears the physical (and mental) channels.
Take rasayana (healing) herbs and life-supporting (positive) activities, like spending good time with family and friends.
Increase positivity (sattwa) in your life by helping others more.
Take action to improve the situation.
Appreciate even small steps of improvement.
Trust mother nature and the intelligence in your body to heal.
Always remember: "Miracles can happen." Vaidya Krishna Raju
"Walking barefoot in the late afternoon is very good ~ because of the shoes and living upstairs and all, we are insulated. We are not getting the proper "earthing" (not grounded) which is making static electricity build up in our body. To get rid of that, proper earthing is required."
Vaidya Krishna Raju
Practice Surya Namaskar daily:
Surya Namaskar (sun-salute asana sequence) morning and evening is very effective for bringing up the agni (digestive power) and physical/mental strength. Doing 13 full repetitions is ideal but be sure to build up gradually and do not strain. The energy of the sun's rays gets absorbed by the body through the different "angles" of Surya Namaskar ~ even when doing indoors!
Late afternoon sun exposure is highly beneficial:
This is the best time for natural Vitamin D absorption to increase the agni and mineral/calcium absorption. When we do daily abhyanga the skin physiology is improved and we can absorb Nature's vitamin D even more.
Seasonal Rasayanas ~ Ayurvedic Principles for Staying Balanced in the Different Seasons
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are more nourishing ~ "Good ripened fruit is always light—fully ripened on the tree. That is why seasonal fruits are best. If you take the seasonal fruits, those are for that season. They are according to the nature [in tune with nature]. So those can be taken. And the foods, if you say, "This is allergic to me, and this I cannot take"…don’t keep those barriers. Some foods are heavier, and if you take them, then body will react. So take that thing very little. If you are restricting something, then you have to restrict so many things and the memory [habit] will be to restrict. Then you develop the allergies. All the things [good foods] can be eaten and digested. So take what can be easily digested in a good [proper] amount—only a small amount of heavier things."
Vaidya Krishna Raju
Use the "Principle of Opposites" to balance seasonal extremes and protect your health:
During the different seasons, one dosha (physical quality) will tend to dominate in nature for the entire period, so balancing (doing the opposite) of that dosha through what you wear, how you eat, and the activities you do, goes a long way towards protecting from seasonal imbalances that can lead to health problems down the road.
Dress warmly in winter to reduce vata's cold.
Stay cool in summer and avoid excessive sun to pactify pitta's heat.
Avoid extended exposure to dampness and cold in kapha season (springtime), to balance these kapha-increasing qualities.
Protect your head from temperature extremes.
If you are in the habit of ignoring weather-related discomforts, and don't take the time to put on a hat or scarf or warm socks in winter, for example, you are letting vata increase unnecessarily in your physiology, and becoming more vulnerable to vata-related health problems.
Food habits should be different in the different seasons:
In winter time (vata season): Ginger is good for vata & all the doshas. Black pepper also produces heat—good to use more of these in winter, and also mustard powder and mustard seeds. Dried chili is good too in winter. These spices are all heating and increase pitta in the physiology, which is needed to balance winter's cold influence. Food in general can be more substantial in winter, and should be hot when you eat them, more unctuous and moist: thicker, richer soups and dals, etc. “Agni is high in winter because the digestive fire in the stomach will not come out....outside is cold and the agni stays where it is protected in the stomach.” Dr. Krishna Raju. For this reason, all body-types can eat heavier foods in winter, according to your digestive capacity (meaning, do not eat foods or quantities that you cannot digest well). This is why Ayurveda says to have a good breakfast in winter months.
In summer (pitta season): Avoid excessive heat & sun exposure (late afternoon sun is the best for health). Avoid over-exertion. Eat less quantity of food, and more liquid foods—make dal more liquid and very light, liquid soups. Green mango is very good in summer when the body is very hot. Mung dal makes an easy, light soup for summer that is easy to digest.
During the springtime (kapha season): Make sure your diet is freshly-cooked and avoid heavy foods & too much food (especially important at night & for breakfast). Dry foods (not overly unctuous) are better for kapha and favor honey over sugar (not much sugar at all for kapha) . Wake up early and get good exercise (morning is best) to keep kapha balanced and avoid cold & damp and dress warmly.
Key Rasayana Foods ~ All the different foods and spices have their influence & value for health
"We have a defense mechanism ~ abhyanga is the main thing ~ the foremost. And the spices like turmeric, ginger, cumin, ajwain, mustard, asafoetita, these are the main things to remove the toxins and strengthen the digestive system. Digestive system is the thing which separates the essence [nutritional essence] and the waste. If it is waste, proper digestion will take it away. If you are eating a lot, even though it is nutritious food or herbs, the essence part it will take and convert into the waste."
Vaidya Krishna Raju
Spiced Milk & Ghee
"Milk increases the longevity"
Ghee (clarified butter)
"Ghee brings the Ojas" (strength)
Unheated Raw Honey
A healing rasayana food
Cooking With Spices
"Saves the good health"
“Don’t miss dal every day and don’t miss rice or wheat and different grains every day, and then milk & lassi—make these every day. Then you will be getting all the proteins. And vegetables also ~ sometimes you can miss the vegetables, but don’t miss the other things and ghee—don’t miss the ghee.”
Vaidya Krishna Raju
Sipping hot water frequently is the "best thing" best rasayana for any condition ~
Water is a fundamental source of nourishment for our bodies, and hot water is a universal antidote to every disease.
The frequency of drinking hot water is what matters, not the quantity."Hot water will dilate the channels and make the things [blockages] to move. Plain hot water is good, but you can put lemon in the water; black pepper or turmeric you can put, or cumin; ginger is the best for everyone." Dr.Krishna Raju
Other hot drinks do not have the same valuable clearing effects as pure hot water "tea without tea." Even in warm seasons, sipping hot water in small quantities is very clearing and balancing to health (should be continued year-round). Keeping the water hot in a thermos for use throughout the day helps for convenience. Do not re-boil water or mix cooler water into hot / makes it 'heavy' and ama-producing. If you pour just a little bit in your cup, it will quickly cool to a still hot, but drinkable temperature.
"For every disease there is a history…how and when it started. From the living creatures in the water, for the toxins released at the time of giving birth, nothing can purify, only hot water. These are the causative factors for the kaliyuga [age of ignorance and disease]. So without hot water there is no success [for healing]. This is why sipping hot water frequently is helpful to every problem. For Kaliyuga, most of the diseases mainly come from the water....not possible to make any water filter system for this because it is based on the agni (fire) and without this it cannot be purified. So it means whatever water we drink has the ama, the toxins released from the birth process are completely dissolved in the water [everywhere]. Lake water is considered to be good because of the moon, and every day it is getting heated by the sun, purified by the sun effect. By every day with the sun's effect it is much more purified, but it is not enough. Of course rainwater is pure, but there is still no safety from collecting all that pollution [in the atmosphere].
"It is very important, because of this, to boil the water. Just boiling is enough if the source is very pure. Otherwise, up to ten minutes of boiling. The best way is to observe how the foam comes in the boiling. At first, the bubbles are heavy, like kapha value. After some time they start to become lighter, smaller, like pitta. …towards the end, vata-like, light and airy, bubbles are quickly disappearing like that. When it reaches that vata level then that’s it, the vata pitta kapha ama, it is gone. Whatever you do, whatever the best water, anyhow ama is there--to take care of that, boiling the water is very important. If you don’t do that, whatever the best water you think it is, it is not useful [for health]. Whatever the local water is where you are living, that is the best water for you." Vaidya J.R. Raju
"Milk increases the longevity" Vaidya J. R. Raju ~
Milk is an important rasayana food which brings ojas (strength) and qualities of balanced kapha (stability, unctuousness, etc.) to the physiology when properly cooked and taken according to digestion.
"Jaggery is good but not with milk [sometimes jaggery contains salt]. Milk is best without sweeteners. Cinnamon you can add, but that is enough ~ milk is already kapha [sweet]." Dr. J.R. Raju
For better digestibility, dilute milk with an equal part water and boil for 10-15 minutes with a slice of fresh ginger ~ can also add fresh-ground pepper if desired, and other spices like cardamom, cinnamon, clove or saffron. You can also add turmeric, after cooking, to further reduce the mucous-producing qualities of milk.
Never mix milk with salty or sour foods. “Even a little sodium chloride in the milk, it becomes poison [mixed or eaten with milk]. It makes not only the curd, but completely destroys the potency [nourishing power of the milk]. When it is absorbed in post-digestion, all the effects of the food on the dhatus (tissues) are destroyed. Only mango can be mixed with milk. Banana is the worst with milk [very blocking]. Dried dates are ok with milk, figs if they are washed well (must be clean so they don’t contain acids)." Dr. J.R. Raju
Best for eye health to avoid milk before sleeping. "Do not sleep immediately after drinking milk. You have to wait 45 min to one hour." Dr. Padma Raju
Be sure to take morning hot milk at least 30 to 45 minutes before a savory breakfast and do not take more milk after eating the breakfast. Late afternoon is also a good time for hot milk if feeling a little hungry, or before bed if your dinner was early and light. After eating a meal, you must wait until the food in your stomach is fully digested before having milk, which takes a good 3+ hours, depending on the size of the meal and your digestive strength (2 hours after the evening meal is ok as long as your meal is light, like it should be).
If sensitivity is there, diluting with water & boiling as above will make it more digestible. Then only drink milk in small amounts to gradually get the body used to digesting it well. If there is a strong intolerance to dairy, start first with VERY THIN lassi (diluted fresh yogurt drink), taken in small amounts during the day, gradually increasing as digestion improves. After some time with this, then you can try milk again in small amounts and prepared as above. According to ayurveda, any food we do not normally eat will require gradual exposure over time for the body to get used to digesting it properly (have to re-establish the 'memory' in the body of how to digest it well).
Ghee, clarified butter, is a powerful rasayana due to its nourishing, healing properties ~
Ghee is the best cooking oil to use because it has the full quality of ojas (strength) and is beneficial for everyone in proper quantity. SEE LINK: Homemade Ghee.
It will not increase cholesterol when properly made and taken according to digestive capacity. The right quantity of ghee for your digestion, improves agni (digestive fire) and will actually reduce cholesterol. Whereas too much ghee (more than you can fully digest) puts out agni, like pouring too much oil on a fire. Raw honey combined with ghee makes the most ojas (should not be mixed in equal proportions). “Ghee brings healing intelligence to every system in the body” Vaidya J.R. Raju
Lassi, diluted blended yogurt drink, is an important rasayana food which clears the physical channels ~
Lassi from fresh "sweet" yogurt (made daily) is so good for improving digestion, it's like medicine for the body. It also balances and reduces excess pitta (heat) and clears the physical channels. SEE LINK: Raju family "sweet" yogurt recipe.
Lassi makes the ideal snack because it is digestible any time of day.
Frequent thin lassi is excellent for improving calcium absorption, and lassi daily is the best natural probiotic. Also, taking thin salt lassi often is very good for hemorrhoids.
Store-bought yogurt is not freshly made and therefore has heavy properties which will increase ama, even in lassi form. “Homemade yogurt is important and making it daily.” Dr. Krishna Raju. Blend the yogurt well before use so it is smooth, and free of clumps, then dilute to make lassi with 3 to 7 parts water, or more, for best digestibility. Note that lassi taken with meals can be on the thicker side.
If dairy intolerance is there, lassi should be very, very thin and only taken in sips so that the body can get used to digesting it gradually.
You can add spices to lassi as desired: pan-roasted cumin seed, then ground in a spice-mill (ajwain is also good this way), cardamom, fresh coriander, and a little black salt if you like (whatever combination of flavors you prefer).
It’s best not to have sweet lassi between meals (body thinks it’s another meal because sweet is the heaviest taste), so take plain, spiced, or salt lassi between meals and sweet lassi only at mealtimes.
Straight yogurt has a blocking quality and should only be taken in small quantities if your agni is strong (and not daily). A little yogurt is good mixed with raw honey to reduce the kapha heaviness. Or you can have fresh yogurt in small quantities with the mid-day meal in raita, curd-chutney, or spiced yogurt-rice. Yogurt is also good stirred into kitchari (spiced dal & rice soup).
It is important not to cook yogurt or heat it too much (spoils it). If a dish calls for yogurt, just add it after cooking, when it's not too hot.
Note that "keifer" is ok, but not in the night (it's heavier than lassi). Keifer can be used to make lassi and then it will be lighter. Straight keifer is somewhat better than yogurt for "blocking" influence, but neither keifer or yogurt are good to use every day. "Lassi is good every day...opens the channels and doesn't block." Dr. Krishna Raju
Cooking with spices removes toxins and "saves the good health" ~
Cumin: Taking more cumin in the daily diet helps to draw out impurities and increase digestive power. Simmer it in dal or soups to improve flavor and digestibility; lightly fry it in a little ghee, alone or with other spices, and add to vegetables, or rice; dry-roasted, ground cumin is the best addition to lassi (diluted yogurt drink) for improving digestion.
Ajwain: Chewing and swallowing a few ajwain seeds relieves gas (can repeat this as needed). Cooking with ajwain improves digestion and helps the body digest ama, which is a by-product of incomplete or too-slow digestion (intestinal gas is a by-product of undigested food that sits too long in the stomach causing putrefaction to occur).
Ginger: This spice is good for all the doshas (body-type qualities) and stimulates agni (digestive fire) well. Dry ginger will have more heating properties than fresh, so dry ginger powder is more useful during colder seasons. Milk boiled with a slice of fresh ginger will be more digestible. To increase digestibility of food, grated fresh ginger can be added to soups and dals, or vegetables during cooking, or first fried gently in ghee and then added (roasting ginger in this way significantly reduces it's spicy, heating flavor, which some people will prefer). Chewing and swallowing a small piece of peeled, fresh ginger before meals with a little black salt increases agni and stimulates appetite. Ginger Juice (with raw honey and black salt) is especially good, even a very small amount.
Turmeric: It is important to add turmeric to food AFTER the heat has been turned off (cooking it directly is bad for cholesterol). Turmeric is a powerful blood-purifier and anti-bacterial agent; It also helps the body to digest the food more thoroughly. Turmeric is good in both savory and sweet dishes (helps reduce congestion tendency when added to hot milk). A big pinch or two of turmeric mixed with raw honey and taken 2-3 times/day is good for coughs and colds (never take when there is a high fever, or with hot liquids because heated honey becomes toxic and is very difficult to remove from the system).