Thursday, August 21, 2014

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Ayurveda for Athletes (and everyone else)

By MAPI staff writers

Ayurveda and High Performance

There are three fundamental Ayurvedic principles or goals that support ‘high performance’ – whether physical or mental. They are broadly summed up in three lifestyle strategies:

1. Reducing ama (toxins)

2. Balancing and strengthening digestion (agni)

3. Significantly lowering stress

Under each of these key areas are a wide variety of tactics and sub-categories. Each of these three plays a powerful role in supporting high performance and wellness, short and long term, according to Ayurveda.

Balance, Strength, Speed, Endurance, Resistance to Stress


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Our mind and body perform at peak levels and recover quickly when they are balanced, low-stress, flexible, intuitive, responsive, and energetic. In Ayurveda, performance strategy goes beyond aerobics, muscle toning or a sole focus on isolated symptoms.

To accomplish the three goals mentioned above, Ayurveda offers many options. Each has its own power to change and sustain a higher level of mind-body performance. The extent to which one can adopt these strategies will vary depending on each individual, but adopting one is good — the effects and results are cumulative, and all are easy to integrate into our lifestyles. These performance-oriented options include changes in diet and routine; using stress-reduction practices like yoga, exercise and meditation; a variety of traditional Ayurvedic herbals; and many other tools that support high performance for athletes and everyone else. They all have a cumulative, positive effect on performance.

Digestion = Energy, Balance and Performance

Digestion is a central, long-term, priority focus of Ayurveda. Great emphasis is placed on keeping digestion (agni) balanced. It is an essential component for high-performance lifestyles where competition dominates. In this sense, ‘balance’ means digestion is functioning at its absolute optimum. That’s because digestion (agni) is the engine of assimilation and transformation. Think of the engine of a car. If the ability to assimilate the fuel is hindered by poor fuel delivery (clogged lines) or by poor ignition (faulty electrical system), the car, although filled with fuel, will be unable to operate at peak performance.

This transformation ‘engine’ isn’t found just in the stomach – it is found in every cell in the body. It is an extremely intelligent engine. It transforms and assimilates food nutrients and food intelligence into you, and eliminates that which isn’t useful to the body and mind. Depending on the strength of our agni, either ama (toxins) or ojas (the beneficial biochemical of balance) will be created. Ojas is the finest and most valued by-product of digestion in Ayurveda, supporting energy, clarity, immunity, inner happiness, physical toning, intuition, judgment and peak emotional stability. All of these are qualities central to athletic performance, and all other performance.

Ayurveda-Yoga-ConnectionWhole-Person versus ‘Isolated Parts’ Performance

Ayurveda’s strength lies in its ‘whole person’ approach to high performance. This means it does not isolate a narrow area of health and exclude the rest of a person’s life. There are specific Ayurvedic approaches supporting specific results, like faster muscle recovery time or reaction times, discussed below. But it’s important to understand that each of these tools is one in a number of balance-creating, natural performance-enhancing tools available. Ayurveda takes a holistic approach, because a holistic approach is much more powerful. This approach is summed up in a famous phrase in Ayurveda: “Water the root to enjoy the fruit.” The entire root is watered, not an isolated part.

 

A small, famous Ayurvedic Berry for Performance

Of all the Rasayanas – Ayurvedic formulations revered for their positive influence on the physiology – the Amalaki (Amla) fruit is considered one of the most potent and nourishing. The Charaka Samhita (an ancient Ayurvedic text) says, “Amalaki is the best among rejuvenative herbs.” It contains five of the six tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, astringent and pungent. The only taste missing is salty. This gives it a holistic, balancing effect on the doshas. Very few fruits have this quality. This is the beauty of this fruit: it is tri-doshic, which means that it is pacifying to all three doshas (mind-body operating principles). It is good for all seasons, all weather conditions, and all body types.

Rasayanas have many high-performance benefits. The Ayurvedic texts mention that they promote longevity, memory, intelligence, youthfulness, strength and immunity of the body; strength of the sense organs; the quality of purity (sattva); a clear voice and sweet and successful speech; respectability (due to a pure nature, good health, and prosperity); and invincibility. Amalaki is good for men and especially for women.

The fruit of this plant is the only ingredient in the Organic Premium Amla Berry tablets. It is not just ground Amla. Our Amla is produced according to the ancient texts and concentrated in a 21-step process. Amla fruit is also a major ingredient in Amrit Nectar and Amrit Ambrosia.Pin - amla By lalithamba

Amla Berry is one of those Ayurvedic plants with a long, celebrated history of supporting health and energy. More specifically, for those looking for a natural high-performance edge, Amalaki has many notable benefits:

  1. Aids muscle tone. Amla Berry enhances protein synthesis, which is why it is good for strengthening muscles and building lean muscle mass. Its unique Ayurvedic action offers athletes and body-builders a natural way to tone muscles and build lean mass.
  2. Nourishes the brain and mental functioning. Amla Berry is good for the brain. It nurtures and enhances coordination among the three aspects of mental ability – acquisition, retention and recall, sharpening the intellect and mental functioning. It supports the nervous system and strengthens the senses.
  3. Increases vitality. Amla Berry increases energy and removes fatigue. It supports regeneration of cells – the process by which tired, old cells are replaced by vital, new ones.
  4. Supports the heart. It is “hridya,” which means it nurtures the heart, blood and circulation – the entire cardiovascular system.
  5. Supports the lungs and balances Kapha dosha. It is a tonic that helps strengthen and nourish the lungs and the entire respiratory tract.
  6. Nurtures all the dhatus (body tissues), and helps keep menstruation regular and healthy. It supports the reproductive systems of both men and women. It is especially nurturing for a woman’s physiology.
  7. Promotes food absorption. Regular use supports digestion, absorption and assimilation of food. In addition, it improves assimilation of iron for healthy blood.
  8. Helps the urinary system. It supports natural diuretic action, helping eliminate waste from the body.
  9. Acts as a body coolant. It is especially effective in the hot season to cool Pitta dosha, and is especially good for Pitta and Vata body types. It is regularly recommended to balance Pitta dosha.
  10. Strengthens the eyes. Amla Berry is called chakshushya, which means “strengthening the eyes” – so it is literally a “Rasayana for the eyes.”
  11. Fortifies the liver and supports the functions of the liver. It also stimulates the liver, helping it in eliminating chemicals, additives and other toxins from the body.
  12. Acts as an antioxidant. Amla Berry is an effective broad-spectrum antioxidant and free radical scavenger, helping slow the aging process.
  13. Supports immunity.
  14. Balances stomach acids. It calms mild-to-moderate hyperacidity and other Pitta-related digestive problems. It should always be taken with food in this case.
  15. Excellent source of Vitamin C, easily assimilated by the human body. Gram for gram, Amla has 20x the Vitamin C content of an orange. The Vitamin C in the Amalaki fruit is bonded with tannins that protect it from being destroyed by heat or light.
  16. Good for the skin. This herb moisturizes the skin and cleanses the tissues of toxins. It helps enhance glow and luster.
  17. Regulates elimination. Amla Berry helps with the downward flow of energy in the body. This helps keep the function of elimination regular and eases occasional constipation.
  18. Promotes healthy hair. Amla Berry boosts absorption of calcium, thus creating healthier bones, teeth, nails and hair. It helps maintain youthful hair color, helps with premature graying, and supports the strength of the hair follicles, so there is less thinning with age.

Supporting the ‘whole’ person is a big focus in Ayurveda. Listed below are core Ayurvedic herbal products supporting key areas of health.

digesttoneorgOrganic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) – This blend of herbs is a powerful tonic for the digestive system. Balanced digestion supports high performance. If you are feeling sluggish, dull or occasionally constipated, chances are that toxins are building up in your body. Toxins accumulate when your digestion — and elimination — are out of balance. This is an every-night overnight detox and digestion balancer, supporting assimilation, balanced agni and ojas.

Aci-Balance – This is a digestion-supporting (agni-balancing) herbal formulation. Occasional acid indigestion is a sign of a Pitta imbalance, according to Ayurveda. Too many hot, spicy foods can spark excess digestive fire and too much stomach acid. Over time, this can push digestion out of balance and lead to a variety of health problems.

Deep Rest – Rest is the basis of high-performance activity. The herbs in this formula support sleeping deeply through the night and waking up feeling refreshed. Specifically, the formula is for those who have difficulty staying asleep and wake up in the middle of the night. It also helps those who have difficulty falling asleep and those who awaken early, after less than six hours of sleep.

Blissful Sleep – The inability to fall asleep naturally, according to Maharishi Ayurveda, is largely due to stress, frustration, heavy food and sensory overload. If you’re worried or agitated before bed, your mind stays connected to the senses, keeping them active. The Ayurvedic herbs in this formula produce a calming, balancing effect on the body, mind and emotions. Sleep becomes deeper and more restful. For published research on Blissful Sleep, please see this page.

Worry FreeThis traditional formula helps high-level performance, because it simultaneously calms the nervous system while supporting mental acuity. These herbs help you meet challenges. It’s not about a different attitude — it’s about changing the automatic and immediate emotional reaction you have to stress, and supporting a healthy emotional response to stress. For published research please see this page.

Organic Stress Free Emotions 60 tablets2Organic Stress Free Emotions – This traditional formulation promotes self-confidence, positive thinking and feelings of fulfillment by balancing the subdosha of Pitta that governs emotional health (Sadhaka Pitta). Arjuna, Ashwagandha, Mica Bhasma, Pearl Bhasma and Holy Basil in this potent new formula promote coordination of mind and emotions. The formula also supports natural resistance to emotional stress and fatigue.

Bio-Immune – It takes over six months to prepare the herbs in this formula for use. This traditional formulation combines purifying herbs with nourishing minerals, including Mica. These herbs promote a healthy resistance to stress and aid in the assimilation and metabolism of nutrients. They support communication between cells, an Ayurvedic key to healthy immunity. The herbs and minerals also help eliminate digestive impurities and toxins that can affect natural immunity, aid healthy liver function, and help purify the blood.

Organic Youthful Mind – The Ayurvedic herbs in this formulationhelp remove the toxins that can block mental ability. They also promote a healthy response to mental stress – regardless of age. The herbs in Organic Youthful Mindsupport innate learning ability, clarity and recall, mental energy and alertness levels, the growth of consciousness and full high-performance mental potential.

Cardio SupportThe Ayurvedic herbs in this formula promote healthy arteries. They do this by supporting digestion and balanced fat metabolism. The herbs nourish the blood, muscles and functioning of the heart, to help keep the heart healthy as you age. According to Maharishi Ayurveda, the heart is the seat of ojas, a substance underlying vigorous life energy, dynamic calm and alertness.

Prostate Protection – From the Maharishi Ayurveda perspective, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of proper nutrients and urine retention can impact prostate health. The traditional Ayurvedic herbs in this formula deliver nutritional support over a broad range of targeted areas. They help balance testosterone levels and support vitality, promote healthy prostate size and function, purify the urinary tract, and support the body’s natural immune system.

(Amla photo By  By lalithamba, Flickr Creative Commons)

(Cover photo – couple cycling in the mountains, Julian Alps, Slovenia, Europe)


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