5 Practices to Incorporate 4 Months Before Conception

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In Ayurveda, we believe a "pre-trimester" of care is equally as important as each trimester. Incorporating diet and lifetstyle practices before pregnancy, can have a profound influence on your baby’s health. There are many more factors to consider before pregnancy, but here are 5 basics to get started. “The fetus gets delivered easily in time in its well developed form and without any pain, if the sperm, the ovum, the uterus, and the timings (of sexual union and delivery) are in excellent condition and the woman during the period of pregnancy takes wholesome diet. Even in a fertile woman, there is a delay in conception because of defects in the uterus, mental afflictions, defects in sperm, ovum, diet and regimens, union in inappropriate time and want of strength.CS: Sarirasthanam II 6-10

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1- Eat foods for fertility: Healthy fats such as cold pressed organic olive, flax, sunflower, and coconut oils plus ghee and/or grass fed butter. Healthy proteins such as soaked legumes, pastured eggs and meats. Wild caught fish in small quantities. Soak your grains. Avoid processed, microwaved, packaged foods. Cook at home more!

 

2- Begin the following supplements: Food based prenatal vitamin for you and multi vitamin for him. CoQ10, Vit C, Vit E, Zinc, Selenium. Probiotics for both of you, but especially you – more and more research is showing that the health of mom’s vaginal flora has a profound effect on the infant gut microbiome…more on this topic later! - If you need supplements, visit the RoseHeal Dispensary. Stay tuned for a special post with some of our favorite supplements.

P1010139 3- Abhyanga at least 3x/week: Organic sesame oil for vata and kapha, organic sunflower oil for pitta. Or, better yet your herbalized doshic oil (Banyan has some good options). Check out our previous post on Abyanga for specific instructions.

 

4- Avoid toxins and reduce EMR exposure: Toxins in the form of food additives, pesticides, conventional cleaning and laundry products, paints, adhesives and plastic containers (especially disposable water bottles), and alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs. EMR (electromagnetic radiation) in the form of cell phones worn on your body, laptop in your lap (put it on a table), wireless modem in the bedroom, etc. You can use stones or devices that offer protection and also reduce your exposure. We like Tachyon!

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5- Mindfulness practices to reduce stress: Meditation, walking in nature, yoga nidra, pranyama, yoga asana, and qi gong are all good options.

 

The Tridosha

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for the elements and qualities, we will introduce the most well known lens that Ayurveda uses to understand the bodymind and how foods, exercise, and lifestyle practices influence us: the tridosha or three doshas.

According to Ayurveda, we each have a combination of the 5 elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth), which give rise to physical and mental traits that are formed at the moment of conception. This is known as your “prakruti” or personal base level constitution. In Ayurveda we use three functional principles, the doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha), to describe this personal constitution. Our current state of health at any given time, in relation to our prakruti, is known as vikruti and is also described by a ratio of the three doshas.

Doshas are simply a way to organize the elements and describe the way they’re bound to flesh and blood. They can increase or decrease if we are not eating foods or engaging in lifestyle practices that are right for us – this is the realm of vikruti. While understanding our prakruti or base constitution is important, we believe it’s even more important to identify our state of vikruti (the qualities, elements, and doshas) associated with the imbalances we are experiencing. When we understand, this we can re-align with our personal constitution, our prakruti, and become free of disease.

We have outlined the basic characteristics of vata, pitta, and kapha in a simplified one pager for your reference! If you want to go deeper there are many resources that exist already, including Dr. Lad’s free online intro guide found at: The Ayurvedic Institute online resource. He also has a great prakruti/vikruti quiz to get you started. Another good quiz can be found here: Banyan Constitution quiz.

“Ayurveda’s seers isolated three forces that are especially important to understand because they allow us to see how pathways and energies manifest in an organism. These forces are called the three doshas. The doshas as we know them are forces that preserve an organism’s balance when they are themselves balanced and disturb harmony when they are disturbed. These are forces that cannot be directly perceived. Only their actions can be seen and felt through our bodily substances which are their vehicles.” ~Dr. Robert Svoboda

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Through the Lens of Ayurveda: What are the pancha maha bhutas? And why should we care?

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Spring boarding off our last post, if something doesn’t need to be from India to be Ayurvedic how can we approach and understanding of Ayurveda? What are its most foundational components? Over the next couple posts we’ll discuss two very helpful ways to begin thinking about Ayurveda: the 5 elements (pancha maha bhuta) and 10 pairs of qualities (gunas).

In Ayurveda as in so many traditional medical systems, humans are viewed as a microcosm of the universe, and therefore we say that the 5 basic elements exist in all of matter and our in individual bodies. When we begin to understand the elements, we begin to understand our bodies and the environment, and how we can start to make changes to bring balance.

All 5 elements exist in everything, though one or more elements will predominate:

elementstupaEARTH (prthivi): In nature, the earth element provides us with structure and a firm place to stand. Similarly, in the body the earth element provides the attribute of stability and is found primarily in structural tissues like bones, hair, teeth, nails, muscle, skin, and tendons. It also exists as mineral constituents such as calcium, magnesium and zinc.

WATER (apas): In nature, the water element is the liquid state of matter and provides the attributes of unctuousness, softness and flowing movement.  In our bodies the water element manifests as the digestive secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, blood, cytoplasm and provides lubrication and nourishment to the tissues.

FIRE (agni): In nature, the fire element anchors the qualities of luminosity, heat and light. Its transformative power allows matter to move from a solid to a liquid to a gaseous state. In our bodies, the fire element transforms food into energy in the digestive system, and governs the cognitive processes of recognition, comprehension and discrimination.

AIR (vayu): In nature, the air element is a gaseous state of matter and provides the attribute of movement. In our bodies, the air element governs all movement and communication, and is present in the pulsations of our heart,  expansion and contraction of our lungs and movement of food and waste through our gastrointestinal tract.

ETHER (akasha): In nature, ether (or space) appears as the distances that separate matter. In our bodies, space exists in all cavities, and between every cell, every atom.

What is Ayurveda and what does it mean to be Ayurvedic?

What is Ayurveda?Ayurveda “the science of life” is one of the oldest medical sciences on the planet, and while it is impossible to summarize in a few sentences, we’ll provide what we feel is most relevant to get started . What we want to understand is how Ayurveda can be used as a lens to understand our bodies (mentally, physically, and spiritually), our world, and all of the relationships that influence us. Ayurveda posits that we are all born with a unique mind/body constitution and what we do over the course of our lives, the foods we eat, the company we keep, the environment we live in, the careers we have, and the exercise we in which we engage, either brings us into balance or into a state of dis-ease. By understanding how our relationships with all of these things affect us, we can understand how to begin finding balance.

gayatriyantraWhat does it mean for a food, exercise, lifestyle practice, or treatment to be Ayurvedic? For something to be Ayurvedic does it need to come from India and be listed in the ancient texts? If we say no, then how do we define it? At Mama Ayurveda, we see Ayurveda as an umbrella that encompasses all things in the world. We can categorize everything into those things which bring balance for us, and those that do not. AND, everything is individual – what balances you may not balance your friend. If a food, medicine, or activity helps bring you into balance, then it can be considered an Ayurvedic therapy for you.

The ancient Ayurvedic texts contain many powerful “classically Ayurvedic” practices and preparations. But it’s our opinion that in order to bring Ayurveda into our modern western lives, we also need to incorporate practices, information, and technologies that were not available thousands of years ago in India. Sometimes we want to find herbs, foods, or tools mentioned in the texts that are nearly impossible to come by in the time and/or place in which we live. That means we need to adapt using the knowledge and concepts of Ayurveda. To eat Ayurvedically is not necessarily to eat food with Indian spices, but it could be. To treat Ayurvedically is not necessarily to use classical preparations with herbs from India, but it could be.

In this vein, we at Mama Ayurveda offer our ideas, tools, suggestions, and adaptations that are true to the science of Ayurveda but accessible in the modern western world in which we live.