By Bhaswati Bhattacharya
MPH MD (Family Medicine)
PhD (Ayurveda – BHU)
Yoga and meditation have destroyed the fast-paced, jetset, tech-addicted, reckless cowboy reputation that was idolized in the 1990s and 2000s. Now every Indian-looking person should know how to do yoga, because our non-Indian-looking neighbors and friends are bewildered if we have rejected the wisdom default program in our bloodline and instead run around drunk, stoned, and laid.
Take the visa to our Indian roots that this pandemic has created. People are learning to own their karma by cleaning their own kitchens and toilets. They are touting their favorite yoga. People are tweeting and sharing their home-made videos of nasal oil and kwatha recipes. It signals a movement afoot that we are reconsidering the blindly-adopted lifestyles that don’t work and turning toward our desi roots.
In middle America, people are still tentative, awaiting a vaccine or a test, or just resting at home and avoiding going out into the trauma of donning a mask and into a world where people avoid eye contact, especially if you look Asian. As a society, America has forgotten how to convey warmth with the eyes. The eyes betray us by spreading our fear and anxiety. We come home to sleep off the exhaustion of isolation, but weeks of sleep have left some of us still exhausted.
It is time to release yourself from seeking connection only in the outside world. Do as the ancestors did. Travel inward for answers. Learn forgotten wisdom. Learn about different concepts of time. Learn how time folds using music. Learn how to heal in non-linear, exponential ways, to release traumas that western healers tell you are permanently in your cells. Your cells and the atoms they are made of are chemically proven to be 99% air. Physics has proven that our electrons travel faster than light speed around the world and the cosmos. Just because modern medicine has not connected seamless interface with its grounding sciences does not mean you have to be left stranded. Do as the ancestors did. Travel inward for answers.
There are five levels to start with the journey inward. If you are mentally unsettled, choose music, known as raga cikitsa. If you are physically unsettled, choose asana yoga, also called hatha yoga. If you are emotionally unsettled, choose yama-niyama yoga. If you are psychically unsettled, choose meditation. If all of it is a mess, just start with some dinacharya.
A proper dinacharya (daily routine) starts with waking earlier and earlier. Why? Because it resets the clock genes. Watching the sunrise gives you strength. Go back to sleep after your 15 minutes if needed when you begin the practice. Soon you will be staying up to open your kitchen dabba and embrace a hot cup of kwatha before the morning cup of tea or coffee.
A fresh lemon-ginger-cinnamon cup of hot tea throughout the day goes well to give the body herbs that build the gut fire, called jatharagni in Sanskrit. It is the source fire that furnaces the immune system. Open your nostrils and oil them with mustard oil if you are in a city or coconut oil if you live in hot climate or ghee anywhere. Why? It increases the actions of the cells in the nostrils that guard the entry to your respiratory tract. If they see dangerous invaders, they call in your immune system. And they secrete a coating to protect invasion.
If you have liver issues, skin diseases, or chronic fatigue, start taking herbs to clean out the gut. Take Kalmegh or arogyavardhini for 10 days with Amrita-aristam. Do it daily for a committed 2 weeks. See how you feel. You are your own laboratory. If you are new to herbs of Ayurveda, find ayushherbs or banyanbotanicals.com or kottakkal.shop or charakusa.com or any of 20 high-quality, US-based ayurvedic herb sellers. If you are feeling run down or are prone to infections, get tulsi and guduchi and black pepper and make kwatha. A public health protocol has been released in India in many foreign languages to assist different cultures and climates with the strong prevention protocol that is working all over India. Try recipes for eating simply. Engage in walking, housework, and gardening. Explore online links to good yoga and meditation classes instead of going out for jumba and crossfit.
This is the first of five levels to start the journey inward. Track your progress. The second level will be described next week.
The South Asia Times Columnist Dr. Bhaswati Bhattacharya is a Fulbright Specialist 2018‐2022 in Public Health and Clinical Asst Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York. Her undergraduate minor at UPenn was in South Asia Studies. Her bestselling book Everyday Ayurveda is published by Penguin Random House. [email protected]/www.drbhaswati.com