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Resources

Jiva Ayurveda
Dr. Chauhan’s homepage is a wellspring of ayurveda information. It also offers ayurvedic products, online consultations and information on Dr. Chauhan’s extensive speaking tours and workshops. www.ayurvedic.org


What’s Your Dosha, Baby?
Author and lifestyle guru Lisa Marie Coffey’s website offers an online quiz to determine your dosha, as well as courses and articles on ayurveda, and links
to a dosha dating site. www.whatsyourdosha.com


Sundari
Created by Christy Turlington and two partners, Sund„ri is a line of women’s skincare products based on ayurvedic principles. Their extensive range, including their newest Neem Healing Line, can be purchased at Isetan (Shinjuku), Matsuya (Ginza), Estnation (Yurakucho, Roppongi Hills), and Barneys New York (Shinjuku, Yokohama). www.sundari.com

 

A day in the life
Get a jump start on the ayurvedic lifestyle with this daily routine, adapted from a plan devised by Dr. Chauhan.

Rise and shine
Wake up during the twilight period before sunrise, known as brahma muhurta, which typically falls between 5 and 6am.

Facing the day
After waking, wash your face, mouth, nose and eyes with lukewarm water. Brush your teeth and clean your tongue with a scraper to remove the previous day’s toxins. Then drink a glass of water (warm in winter, room temperature in summer) and walk around the room until you feel the need to evacuate the bowels.

Body in motion
Relax mind and body while energizing the prana (vital life force) with 15-20 minutes of gentle exercises every morning. Recommended activities include yoga, tai chi, brisk walking and stretching.

The rub
Following exercise, give yourself an oil massage beginning with the head and scalp. Apply a few drops of oil and massage gently before moving on to the ears, nostrils and the rest of the body. Pay particular attention to the joints and soles of the feet.

Quiet time
Perform seated meditation in a quiet space for five to ten minutes per day, focusing on your breath as you clear your mind of all thoughts.

Clean sweep
Bathe or shower daily lukewarm water with natural soaps and hair-care products
.




 

 

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Balancing act

An ancient science is helping modern men and women find peace, health and the always elusive “balance.” Tama M. Lung takes a closer look at ayurveda.

Leading ayurvedic doctor Partap Chauhan consults with a patient
Photos courtesy of Jiva Ayurveda

Ayurveda may be an ancient Indian medical science, but its appeal is thoroughly modern. This holistic system practiced since 1 A.D. has taken off with 21st-century celebrities, spa-goers and harried city slickers looking to regain a balanced and healthy lifestyle. And with so many practitioners, products and websites now devoted to ayurveda, there’s never been an easier time to get acquainted with its ancient methods.

Described as a “holistic healing science,” ayurveda deals with the union of body, mind, senses and soul. Its ultimate aim is to maintain a state of good health by creating a balance among all aspects of one’s lifestyle, including but not limited to environment, diet, exercise and sleeping habits. Ayurveda focuses on preventing disease, rather than simply treating it, and when necessary relies on herbal remedies rather than drugs or invasive treatments.

 

Natural element
“Ayurveda is not only limited to the defining of personal constitution and providing dietary or lifestyle guidance. Nor is it only confined to oil massages, or cleansing therapies; it is beyond that,” explains Dr. Partap Chauhan, a leading expert on ayurveda and founder of the Jiva Ayurveda Clinic and Panchakarma Center in India. “It shows the path to complete health, happiness and peace, which is achieved through natural balance and harmony.”

Recipient of the Best Ayurvedic Physician award and a frequent lecturer in Japan, Chauhan teaches that the first step in bringing ayurveda into one’s life is self-knowledge. In this case, that means discovering your dosha, described variously as “metabolic principles,” “primary life forces” or “mind/body principles.” Formed by each individual’s unique combination of the five elements of fire, earth, water, air and space, the three dosha—vata (air), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth)—determine physical characteristics and bodily functions.

Most people have a dominant dosha (see Resources for how to determine your type) that will dictate what lifestyle practices to follow. For example, pitta types are seen as well proportioned with average stamina and higher-than-usual body temperatures. They are advised to eat cool and sweet foods, and avoid sour, spicy or salty foods. Pitta types are also encouraged to get a lot of sleep and frequent cooling massages.

Ayurveda dictates that when all the body systems are in balance, health and vitality are maintained. But when life throws them off-balance, harmful toxins can accumulate in the body and lead to disease or illness.



Dosha divas
Like yoga before it, ayurveda and its dosha principles have become buzzwords not only in health but fashion and lifestyle. Foremost among the raft of companies borrowing from this ancient science is Sund„ri, a skincare line created in part by supermodel and yoga queen Christy Turlington. Meaning “beautiful woman” in Sanskrit, Sund„ri uses the same essential oils recommended for home use in ayurveda to promote balance from the outside in. Formulations include sandalwood oil and cucumber extract, jasmine and ylang ylang oils, and neroli and eucalyptus oils.

Similarly, ayurveda-inspired spa treatments have taken off not only in India but across the Western world as customers seek out holistic retreats. According to a 2004 spa report in the US Cond Nast Traveler magazine, “Industry forecasters predict a continuing rollout of Eastward-looking services, particularly ayurveda, a 5,000-year-old Indian healing practice that has recently appeared in spas from Arizona’s Miraval Life in Balance and Canyon Ranch to the Big Island’s Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.”

The Sundari skincare line includes cleansers, moisturizers and body and facial oils
Courtesy of Sundari



Other high-profile ayurveda practitioners include lifestyle guru Deepak Chopra, a pioneer in holistic healing and one of the first to introduce the practice in the US. He now heads up The Chopra Center at La Costa Resort & Spa (www.chopra.com), which offers three- and five-day wellness programs in addition to ayurvedic spa therapies such as oshadhi (herbal wrap), shirodara (stream of warm oil poured over the forehead) and abhyanga (oil massage performed by two people).

While exclusively ayurvedic spas (see Links section on www.ayurveda.jp) are limited in Tokyo, there are several that incorporate these methods into their menus. Ayurveda is also making its way into modern medicine, with physicians adopting its principles for treatment of pain, addiction and terminal illness. Doctors are increasingly seeing the holistic ayurvedic lifestyle as complementary, and in some cases an alternative, to invasive treatments.

But Chauhan also notes that ayurveda is perhaps best used as a therapy for modern living. “No wonder our body systems are imbalanced and our lives are increasingly shooting off gear,” he says, citing long work hours and lack of rest, microwaved meals and artificial light, polluted air and caffeinated drinks. “Practicing a proper diet, lifestyle habits, meditation, exercise regimen, basic herbology, simple home remedies, massages and rejuvenation therapies go a long way in ensuring a happy and healthy life.”

 

 


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