Vasant Lad: about taste preferences and happiness

Dr. Vasant Lad is one of the world’s leading experts in the field of Ayurveda. Master of Ayurvedic medicine, his scientific and practical activities include allopathic (Western) medicine. Vasant lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he founded the Ayurveda Institute in 1984. His medical knowledge and experience is respected all over the world, he is also the author of many books.

When I was a child, my grandmother was very ill. We were very close, and seeing her in this state was hard for me. She suffered from nephrotic syndrome with high blood pressure and edema. Doctors at the local hospital could not even feel her pulse, the swelling was so strong. At that time, there were no powerful antibiotics or diuretics, and we were presented with the fact that it was impossible to help her. Not wanting to give up, my father called the Ayurvedic doctor who wrote the prescription. The doctor gave instructions that I had to follow to prepare the decoction. I boiled 7 different herbs in certain proportions. Miraculously, my grandmother’s swelling went down after 3 weeks, her blood pressure returned to normal, and her kidney function improved. Grandma lived happily until the age of 95, and the same doctor advised my father to send me to an Ayurvedic school.

Not at all. The main task of Ayurveda is the preservation and maintenance of health. It will benefit everyone, making a person stronger and full of energy. For those who have already faced health problems, Ayurveda will restore the lost balance and restore good health in a natural way.

Digestion of food and Agni (the fire of digestion, enzymes and metabolism) do play a key role. If Agni is weak, then food is not digested properly, and its remains are converted into toxic substances. Toxins, in Ayurveda “ama”, accumulate in the body, weaken the immune system, resulting in serious diseases. Ayurveda attaches crucial importance to the normalization of digestion and waste elimination.

To understand whether this or that need is natural, it is necessary to understand one’s Prakriti-Vikriti. Each of us has a unique Prakriti – Vata, Pitta or Kapha. It is identical to the genetic code – we are born with it. However, over the course of life, Prakriti tends to change depending on diet, age, lifestyle, work, environment and seasonal changes. External and internal factors contribute to the formation of an alternative state of the constitution – Vikriti. Vikriti can lead to imbalance and disease. A person needs to know his original constitution and keep it in balance.

For example, my Vata is unbalanced and I crave spicy and oily (fatty) foods. This is a natural need, because the body seeks to restore the balance of Vata, which is dry and cold in nature. If Pitta is aroused, a person may be drawn to sweet and bitter tastes, which calm the fiery dosha.

When an imbalance of Vikriti is present, a person is more prone to “unhealthy cravings”. Suppose a patient has an excess of Kapha. Over time, the accumulated Kapha will affect the nervous system and the human intellect. As a result, a Kapha patient with symptoms of overweight, frequent colds and coughs will crave ice cream, yogurt and cheese. These desires of the body are not natural, leading to even more accumulation of mucus and, as a result, imbalance.

The ideal energy drink is one that stimulates Agni and improves digestion and nutrient absorption. There are several such recipes in Ayurveda. For those who suffer from chronic fatigue, a “date shake” will help well. The recipe is simple: soak 3 fresh dates (pitted) in water, beat with one glass of water, add a pinch of cardamom and ginger. One glass of this drink will provide a healthy boost of energy. Also, an almond drink is very nutritious: soak 10 almonds in water, beat in a blender with 1 glass of milk or water. These are sattvic, natural energy drinks.

It is not hard to guess that three meals a day is recommended by Ayurveda in terms of digestive health. A light breakfast, a hearty lunch and a less dense dinner – for our digestive system, such a load is digestible, rather than the food that comes in every 2-3 hours every now and then.

Ayurveda prescribes different asanas in accordance with the human constitution – Prakriti and Vikriti. Thus, the representatives of Vata-constitution are especially recommended postures of a camel, a cobra and a cow. Paripurna Navasana, Dhanurasana, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana and Matsyasana will benefit Pitta people. While Padmasana, Salabhasana, Simhasana and Tadasana are recommended for Kapha. Known to all yoga practitioners, Surya Namaskar, the sun salutation, has beneficial effects on all three doshas. My advice: 25 cycles of Surya Namaskar and a few asanas that suit your dosha.

True happiness is your life, your being. You don’t need anything to be happy. If your feeling of happiness depends on some object, substance or medicine, then it cannot be called real. When you see a beautiful sunrise, sunset, a moonlit path on a lake or a bird soaring in the sky, in such moments of beauty, peace and harmony, you really merge with the world. At that moment, true happiness is revealed in your heart. It is beauty, love, compassion. When there is clarity and compassion in your relationships, that is happiness. 

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