Ayurveda means life knowledge.
It is a 10,000 year old Vedic healing science whose depth, beauty and efficacy is based in natural principles of the universe. Ayurveda is a guide in understanding relationship; to ourselves and the world around us. It has a 5 element system: SPACE, AIR, FIRE, WATER, EARTH. These elements are then expressed in 3 humors/doshas: VATA, PITTA, and KAPHA. Finding balance within the qualities of these elements we find alignment with our metabolism, food, the changing seasons. Bringing harmony to our relationship to our self within the changing seasons. Finding an increased sense of health, vitality and happiness.
In Sanskrit SNEHA means OIL as well as LOVE. The effects of abhyanga massage are similar to the effect of the saturation of love, allowing sneha to pass through the minute channels in the body and penetrate deep into the layers of tissues. Abhyanga is a full body synchronized massage traditionally received by two therapists. The oil is applied in long rhythmic strokes and includes massage of the scalp, face, chest, abdomen and side body. According to Ayurveda it nourishes all tissues, is grounding and relaxing, allowing the body to heal. The oils used in this therapeutic massage are based on the season and your health condition. It is extremely nourishing for individuals who have chronic stress, anxiety or insomnia.
Ayurvedic traditional oils are made with a base of sesame, sunflower or coconut and are infused with many medicinal herbs, and may have cows milk, goats, milk, beeswax or castor oil. The skin being the largest organ it is very important to provide the proper nourishment as well as utilize the skin’s ability to bring medicinal herbs into the body through the blood stream down to the bodies deepest layers of tissues. Not only does it strengthen the skin and improve color and texture, but it also tones muscles and prevents stress and injury.
Pranayama is a vedic science for expanding and channeling the life force, through the practice of breathing exercises. Pranayama is a sanskrit word meaning ” controlling or expanding the life force”. Prana means “fundamental life force”, Ayama is described as “expansion” and Yama is known as “control”. This in depth vedic science is included as one of the 8 limbs of yoga.
One begins to understand Prana by creating awareness around the quality of the breath. When the breath is shallow, strained or erratic the mind and body is experiencing stress, anxiety, and/or tension. When the breath is rhythmic and full we have an abundance of energy and our mind gains a sense of clarity and ease. By bringing a state of balance to the breath we can nourish our vitality and prepare the mind to turn inward. My teacher Dr. Vasant Lad of the Ayurvedic Institute beautifully teaches that despite how we are feeling, we can always go to our breath, it is our best friend, it is always with us from the time of birth till the time of death. Adopting the practice of full deep yogic breaths during times of anxiety and tension has brought me a sense of serenity. The experience of expanding the life force can heal and purify our physical, psychological and spiritual bodies.
The diaphragm is the mover of the breath, a voluntary and involuntary muscle that responds to conscious and unconscious commands. By using the diaphragm consciously we gain control of of the conscious and unconscious processes directed by our prana. This can help dissolve stagnant patterns in the mind and direct the energy flow to regulate the body’s physiological functions.
Pranayama breathing benefits: