Many of us equate rejuvenation with looking and feeling younger. Ayurveda describes the holistic process of rejuvenation as exactly that—practices and therapies that will sustain the healthy function of your body and mind, fortify the immune system, and, according to the ancient Ayurvedic text, Charaka, add years to your life!
The Sanskrit word for rejuvenation is rasayana, which literally translates as, "the path of juice." This "juice" can be understood as a substance or essence which is produced through proper physical and mental digestion to renew cells and build the tissues in the body with the ultimate goal of longevity.
Some benefits of rasayana are:
- improved digestion
- strong body
- improved mental ability, including memory
- increased energy
- proper immune function
- improved complexion and voice
- calm, happy demeanor
An Ayurvedic program of rejuvenation requires a certain level of commitment to a healthy life and learning to live in accordance with the cycles and rhythms of nature. A basic understanding of Ayurveda—including familiarity with the doshas and how they relate to your individual constitution or prakriti—is necessary in order to determine, through self-evaluation, if you are in a reasonably balanced state of health. For example, if you are vata-predominant and experiencing the cold, dry season of vata, are you staying warm and following a vata-pacifying diet?
Rasayana is best suited for a variety of individuals: those recovering from vata-type imbalances, those in the vata time of life, after the age of fifty when vata dosha predominates, or individuals who simply want to take their health and well-being to the next level. Rejuvenation therapy is used to help support wellness and promote a long, healthy life. Learning how to balance vata through diet, by eating wholesome, nourishing foods, may be a good first step for most people.
In addition to dietary choices, Ayurveda believes that healthful habits and a daily routine are an integral part of establishing health and beginning a rejuvenation program. Vata-types lead quick and sometimes very irregular lifestyles, so cultivating a sense of stability will help to bring this dosha into balance.
- Be sure to get plenty of rest.
- Go to bed at a regular time each night, preferably before 10 p.m.
- Give yourself plenty of time to complete tasks. Many vatas rush around with a very long to-do list and no time to do it.
- Take meals consisting of warm, moist food at regular times each day.
- Limit bitter, cold, and raw foods which aggravate vata.
- Limit alcohol and caffeinated substances which are detrimental to the nervous system.
- Engage in light to moderate exercise like walking, yoga, or Tai Chi.
- Minimize travel.
For more information, see our article on on how to balance vata dosha.
A precursory step in preparation for rejuvenation is purification through panchakarma, the five cleansing actions of Ayurveda. It is important to detoxify the body before rebuilding can begin. Dr. Lad recommends a mild home panchakarma program in his book The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies. These practices aim to remove waste, natural toxins, and accumulated doshas (when one or more doshas is in excess) so that the body is more receptive to rasayana therapy. It's always a good idea to work with a qualified practitioner when cleansing.
During the entire process of both cleansing and rejuvenation, it is best to get plenty of rest. Sleep is the time when the body repairs and renews itself, restoring vital energy. When bringing balance to vata dosha, going to bed early and getting sound sleep is paramount. Take time to unwind and relax in preparation for bed. Taking a warm bath or shower, or sipping a cup of warm milk can be a soothing part of your evening ritual. If sleep is consistently disturbed due to restlessness, Banyan's herbal formula, I Sleep Soundly, can help calm nerves, release tension, and promote deep, restful sleep.
In Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha may be the single most important herb to balance and rejuvenate vata within the body. Ashwagandha is a powerful rasayana and adaptogenic tonic that enhances the body's resistance to stress, supports immune response, and maintains homeostasis. It is anabolic in nature and nourishing to the musculoskeletal system and the tissues. It helps produce ojas, the vital essence that nourishes reproductive health. This herb also has a rejuvenative effect on the mind. Ashwagandha promotes focus and concentration. It supports a calm mind, and encourages restful sleep. Traditionally, it has also been used as a rejuvnative that is particularly helpful to seniors and anyone that would benefit from a nourishing, natural source of energy. Either taken in herbal tablet form or 1/4–1/2 teaspoon of herbal powder in warm milk twice a day, it is the perfect herb for rejuvenating vata and promoting optimal health and vitality.
Another powerful rasayana for vata is sesame oil. Doing a warm oil massage enhances blood circulation, stimulates internal organs, promotes sound sleep, nourishes and soothes the skin, and can significantly reduce vata. Vata Massage Oil is specially formulated with herbs such as ashwagandha and bala to rejuvenate and strengthen the body while passion flower helps to calm the body.
For more information, see our resource on Ayurvedic self-massage.
During rejuvenation, Ayurveda supports following an ethical regime in order to bring about a tranquil mind free of negative thoughts. This is similar to the yamas and niyamas practiced in yoga. Yamas are the ten ethical rules or guildelines to be followed by a yoga practitioner, while the niyamas are ten observances of self-discipline. Simple practices, such as always speaking the truth, forgiveness, non-violence, and control of sexual desires, conserve energy by focusing inward. Energy, otherwise expended, can then be used to strengthen the mind's function and cultivate contentment. Meditation can be the most useful tool for this purpose. Take the time to sit and meditate daily to relieve stress and mental conflict.
Whether you are in the beginning stages of learning to manage vata dosha in the body, taking prerequisite steps of detoxification, or fully ready to begin rejuvenating vata within your body and mind, remember that it takes patience and perseverance. Consistency is key and real change can be slow, but Ayurveda offers all the tools you need to live a healthy, juicy life in harmony with the universe.
“We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery.”
The information provided in this article is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, but only to apprise the reader of basic Ayurvedic lifestyle information. The advice of a qualified health professional is recommended before making changes in diet or exercise routines.