Well water, pond water, rain water--there are many types of water describedin ayurvedic texts, and each has a therapeutic value, just as food does. "Water represents soma, the nourishing, cooling quality that is associatedwith lunar energy," says Vaidya Mishra, director of Product Development atMaharishi Ayurveda Products International. "It helps with digestion, coolsand balances Pitta dosha, supports Kapha, and counteracts the dryness ofVata. It nurtures, lubricates and also detoxifies when it flows out of thebody as urine."
Vaidya Mishra explains how the healing effects of water can be enhancedusing ayurvedic methods.
Water for Cleansing
"Sometimes people have dry skin and unquenchable thirst even though theydrink lots of water," says Vaidya Mishra. "The deeper physiology is notgetting enough moisture."
Vaidya Mishra explains that this occurs when the person's agni is low andama blocks the microchannels (shrotas) which carry water to the cells. Inorder to cleanse the channels and enhance moisture absorption, ayurvedictexts recommend boiling the water for various lengths of time, creatingtherapeutic water called ushnodaka. Another method is to add spices orherbs to the water after boiling.
Why It Works
"When the water boils, it gets charged with heat, becoming sharper(sookshma) in quality," explains Vaidya Mishra. "This sharpness allows itto cleanse the channels and penetrate deeper levels of the physiology."
Spices create an added therapeutic effect by interacting with the water onthe molecular level. Spices create different effects on the body througharoma and taste.
"It becomes easier for the body to flush out toxins and impuritiesbecause of the sharpness of the agni (heat) in the water and because of thesharpness of the spices," explains Vaidya Mishra. "Over time, it cleansesthe channels so the water is unobstructed as it travels into the body tohydrate the tissues, and travels out carrying waste."
Water for Your Body Type
"An ayurvedic expert can design a therapeutic water recipe to givea specific benefit," says Vaidya Mishra. One water recipe might enhanceimmunity, another might cleanse the skin, another might help with prostateimbalance. vYou can also choose a spice-water recipe for your body type orimbalances.
Vata Balancing Water
Boil two quarts of water for five minutes. Take it off the heat and add 3leaves mint, 1/2 t. fennel seed, and 1/4 t. marshmallow root. Place thewater in a thermos. Sip it throughout the day at a warm but not hottemperature.
Pitta Balancing Water
Boil two quarts of water for 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and add 1/4t. fennel seed, 2 rose buds, and 1 clove. Store it hot inside a thermos,but before drinking pour it into a cup and let it cool to room temperaturein summer. In winter, it can be slightly warmer.
Kapha Balancing Water
Boil two quarts of water for 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and add 3holy basil leaves, two thin slices of fresh ginger, 1/4 t. of cumin, and 1/2 t.of fennel. Place the water and spices in a thermos, and sip the water at ahot or warm temperature throughout the day.
How Much is Enough?
How much water you should drink depends on your age, how muchphysical work or exercise you do, the weather, your diet, your stresslevels, your herbal food supplements, and your body type. The warm Pittatypes usually are thirstier than the watery Kapha types. Vata types areoften constipated or have dry skin and thus need to drink more water.
"I usually recommend two quarts of spice-water a day, but everyperson has to determine their own individual need through experience," saysVaidya Mishra.
Vaidya Mishra recommends making your spice water first thing in themorning and sipping it every fifteen minutes throughout the day. Drinkplain water after 7:00, as spice-water is too enlivening to drink rightbefore sleeping. If you don't finish the spice-water by then, throw it outand start fresh in the morning.
"You may want to drink some plain water during the day as well,"says Vaidya Mishra. "If you have been exercising and need to drink a fullglass of water, it's better to drink plain water rather than the spicewater."
Water at Meals
Ayurvedic texts also recommend sipping plain water at meals,because ayurvedic food already contains spices and you don't want tooverwhelm the body. On the other hand, if you are eating a meal withoutspices, then the spice-water will help digestion.
"A cup of water at meals is good, but it depends on what you areeating," says Vaidya Mishra. "If you are eating soup or dhal, you'll needmuch less water. If you are eating a higher quantity of dry foods, such ascrackers, you'll need more."
Water at meals can be room temperature or hot, depending on yourbody type, but should never be ice-cold, as that would douse the digestivefire.
"Forty-five minutes after the meal, you may suddenly feel thirsty,and then it's a good idea to drink a lot of water as the body needs it fordigestion," says Vaidya Mishra. "In between meals you can sip thespice-water."
You will be surprised how something as simple as water can enhanceyour health.
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