Mamsa Dhatu: Building Healthy Muscle Tissue
Welcome back! If you’ve been following along with this series you know that Ayurveda talks of seven tissue layers known as the dhatus, which work together in harmony to create our entire physical structure and support an interconnected system of overall health.
Mamsa Dhatu: The Muscle Tissues
“Mamsa” translates directly to flesh or meat. Mamsa dhatu is comprised of all of our muscle fibers and defines our structure and natural form. The muscle fibers provide a protective plaster to keep our nerves buffered and our bones nourished. Mamsa also governs our primary pumping actions, called peristalsis.
Mamsa dhatu protects the delicate parts of the body, including the nervous system. The nerve channels are nestled along the edges and underneath the muscles for ultimate protection.
Each of our glands and organs are made up of a combination of muscle fibers and fat cells allowing the organs to stay pliable, insulated, and ready for action.
Our muscles are great communicators and will always let us know when they are not feeling balanced by creating a muscular response to hesitate, deflate, hold tight, or react.
Our visceral experiences are held in our muscle memory. How we engage with the world or respond with our body language is dependent on what is stored in our muscular memory bank—the muscles don’t forget what has affected them in a deep way. This guttural response often gives us innate cues about a situation at hand.
The muscles govern the emotion of control and their main function is to support. They connect us to the elements above and the earth below.
The Building Blocks of Healthy Muscles
Building and maintaining healthy muscles requires the foundational building blocks of quality nutrients.
Muscles need an abundance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to receive the enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes required to stay strong and flexible.
Remember, mamsa dhatu is number three in a line-up of seven tissues and receives nutrients from rasa and rakta, the tissues of lymph and blood. The muscular system must get enough nutrients for daily use, plus the juice to feed the four remaining tissues.
Raw fats have good oxygen and fatty acids to support flexibility. Clean fuel proteins like lentils, quinoa, seaweed, eggs, fish, and tahini support energy and motivation. Carbohydrates from vegetables—ideally in a rainbow of colors—provide liquid nutrients for developing muscle tissue.
Breath is also an incredibly important aspect of healthy mamsa dhatu—it is intimately tied to our moment to moment muscular response as we move through our day.
Have you ever noticed how your muscles tighten and your breath gets short when you’re stressed? By consciously working with the breath, we can affect the holding patterns in our muscles, learning to relax or take action as appropriate.
How to Cultivate Strong and Flexible Muscles
So what are the signs of healthy mamsa dhatu? Strong and flexible muscles are the obvious clues, but the following things also signal healthy mamsa: sweating with exercise, a relaxed upright stature, breath and heart rate that remain stable under pressure, and regular bowel movements.
- Nourish: Incorporate electrolytes like magnesium-rich Atlantic grey salt to calm the muscles.
- Exercise: Break a sweat for 15 minutes a day to help the body naturally detox.
- Touch: Practice abhyanga, or self-massage, to nourish and tone the muscle fibers.
- Relax: Treat yourself to a steam room, sauna, or epsom salt soak to ease muscle tension.
In addition, here are tips for recognizing the signs of imbalanced doshas in mamsa dhatu and how to support greater balance.
Vata in Mamsa Dhatu
Signs of Excess Vata:
Small frame, tight, stiff, inflexible, or rope like muscles, tension in the jaw or shoulders, holding patterns in core and psoas, irregular breathing patterns, shooting sensations in the nerves, feelings of fear, anxiousness, or guilt.
Bathing: Enjoy a warm water ritual to relax and unwind.
Building blocks: Nourish the muscles with proper nutrition.
Abhyanga: Use Ashwaganda Bala Oil for a tonifying self-massage.
Pitta in Mamsa Dhatu
Signs of Excess Pitta:
Excess sweating, heat in the muscles, lactic acid build up, prone to injuries, holding patterns in the chest, knees, and elbows, holding the breath, sharp sensations, feelings of anger, resentment, or mistrust.
Exercise: Favor fluid, gentle exercise like yoga or swimming.
Breath: Practice long, slow breathing to relax the body.
Kapha in Mamsa Dhatu
Signs of Excess Kapha:
Lack of energy, soft musculature, shoulders that pull forward or a sunken posture, weakness in the abdomen, shallow mouth breathing, dull, heavy sensations in the muscles, feelings of grief, sadness, or attachment.
Invigorate: Activate the tissues with Ayurvedic dry brushing.
Exercise: Favor exercise that makes you sweat and gets you breathing.