As we grow older, it is common to find that we are not as limber as we once were. Hands, elbows, knees and backs can become sore and stiff. According to Ayurveda, this reflects the natural increase in Vata dosha in the later stage of life. As Vata increases, joints can become more dry and less flexible. If we have a build up of ama (toxins that result from poor digestion) in the body, the combination of Vata and ama can lead to conditions such as arthritis, stiffness and pain.
According to Ayurveda, there are three stages of life. The first stage is Kapha-predominant. Childhood is all about growing and increasing structure. The second stage is Pitta-predominant. This stage begins at puberty and continues until we are around 50. The third stage is Vata-predominant and continues through the rest of our life.
Often, what we consider to be normal signs of aging are actually symptoms of a growing imbalance of Vata: stiffness, memory loss, insomnia, etc. By putting extra attention on keeping Vata in balance as we grow older, we can help eliminate these symptoms.
Vata also increases when the weather is cold and dry. This is why many people experience more pulled muscles and joint problems in the winter, as well as during their later years.
Daily Oil Massage
How does excess Vata can make the joints stiff? An imbalance of Vata can begin to “dry out” Kapha dosha, cutting down on Kapha’s natural lubricating abilities. To counter this tendency, daily oil massage can be extremely effective. Using warmed sesame oil (or olive or coconut oil for those with a predominance of Pitta) simply massage the joints in a circular motion each morning before your bath. If you are already experiencing joint pain, follow this massage by applying three to five minutes of moist heat to the joint.
Regular stretching of the joints and muscles through Yoga also helps to keep the body limber. No matter what form of exercise you prefer, adding regular stretching exercises to your routine will help you enjoy your favorite sport for years to come. Yoga is unique in that it can both strengthen and lengthen the muscles. Most forms of exercise that strengthen muscles also shorten them. Shorter muscles tend to become stiffer due to the increase in collagen. Yoga, however, lengthens the muscles while they are being strengthened, and can prevent the increase of collagen.
Always avoid straining when you exercise. Yoga (and any other form of exercise) should always be comfortable. Feel the stretch, but ease up if there is actual discomfort.
If you have significant joint problems, be sure to get medical attention. According to Ayurveda, joint problems commonly reflect a build up of “ama” in the system. Ama is a sticky substance that results from poor digestion. Essentially, it is a form of un-metabolized waste that cannot be utilized by the body. Over time, ama tends to accumulate throughout the body and block the channels circulation, causing a variety of conditions and often leading to chronic disorders. Ayurveda considers ama to be the underlying cause of many health issues.
The first step in eliminating ama is to address what is causing ama to build up in the first place. Common causes are:
Eating food that is not fresh and organic,
Eating too many raw foods
Eating before the previous meal is digested
Eating large meals in the evening
Eating without full attention on one’s meal
Not sitting down to a relaxed meal
A lack of exercise
Consulation with an Ayurvedic Expert
Specific recommendations regarding herbs, topical preparations, diet and seasonal and daily routines can be given by an Ayurvedic expert who is experienced in Ayurveda Pulse Assessment.
The traditional purification therapies of Ayurveda, known as Panchakarma, are designed to loosen ama, toxins, and excess Vata, Pitta, and Kapha from the deep tissues, moving them to the digestive tract, and from there, eliminating them from the body.
Phone or Skype consultations are available with our Ayurvedic Wellness Expert. If you are spending more time at home during this period, let this be an opportunity to create a healthier life-style. To schedule a consultation, call, 800-864-8714.