Effective Ayurvedic Treatment for Colitis

Earlier this year a family member suffered from sudden severe symptoms related to colitis ( diagnosis was unknown at the time) and suffered a lot of weakness and weight loss due to the inability of the digestive system to assimilate the food.  There is apparently no cure for this in western medicine; simply medicines that can suppress symptoms.  This may not be the preferred route for some.  An extensive search for alternate treatment turned up some very relevant and extremely effective information.  Stopping intake of certain foods like milk, ghee and sugar and including a Pomegranate  a day was strongly recommended. Two herbal preparations that helped eliminate all symptoms and provided tremendous relief with no side effects were Bilva and Kutaj.  The colitis issue that dragged for 4 months was completely gone within 3 months of taking these ayurvedic medicines, although relief from symptoms was noticed within just the first week.  Both Bilva and Kutaj are available as tablets and powders on amazon, although the tablets would be easier to take as the powders might be a bit unpleasant to the taste for some.

Yoga Nidra For Deep Relaxation and Restoration

I had always known of Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) but had never really practiced it until few months ago and I have to say that I found it to be a deeply relaxing practice; the subtle benefits of which I noticed immediately after my first session.

Cumulative Benefits of Yoga Nidra

  • Healing at a cellular level
  • Greatly reduces stress and induces deep relaxation (One hour of yoga nidra is equivalent to 2-4 hours of sleep)
  • Restful undisturbed sleep

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra means yogic sleep.  It is the practice of entering a state of extremely deep relaxation without actually falling asleep.

What happens during yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra induces deep mental and physical relaxation.  Brain waves go systematically from high activity beta to meditative theta state.  Yoga Nidra can take one to a delta wave state that is even beyond the theta brain waves, which is why it is very important to completely surrender physically and mentally when practicing Yoga Nidra.  There should be no distractions. In this state the stress hormone cortisol is reduced, and the body gets a chance to repair and restore.    The best time for me is at bedtime before falling asleep.  Occasionally I may do this in the afternoon as well.   In this deeply relaxed and thoughtless state, life force or prana get an opportunity to flow freely to every cell of your being.  Accumulated tension, the invisible baggage we subconsciously carry around with us all day long starts to melt away.  When prana flows freely, the body heals at a very deep level.

The Technique

The technique guides you to move your awareness inwards. It starts out with a Sankalpa or resolution made at the beginning and end of yoga nidra for how you would like to see yourself (as healthy, free of all illnesses, successful, in healthy relationships, overcoming bad habits or patterns).  Next you are guided to bring your awareness to different parts of your body in a systematic manner.  As each body part is named, consciously relax it completely.  By the end you would have consciously relaxed every body part.  There are slightly different versions, but the core essence is the same.

  • Lie down in corpse pose/shavasan
  • Legs apart being slightly wider than shoulder width and completely relaxed.
  • Arms slightly away from the body with palms facing upwards and completely relaxed
  • Make sure you use a light blanket so you don’t get cold during the process
  • Completely relax your entire body
  • Make your resolution
  • Imagine your body getting very heavy and sinking into the mat (like it sinks into a hammock). Completely surrender all muscles.
  • Then visualize yourself as light as a feather.
  • Focus your attention to distant sounds followed by sounds in the room.

Bring your mental awareness to each of the body parts in the sequence listed below, moving fast so you’re not lingering more than few seconds on each body part.

  1. Start with bringing your awareness to your right side of the body beginning with the right thumb, index finger, middle finger, fourth finger and little finger, palm, the back side/dorsal part of the palm, wrist, forearm arm, upper arm, shoulder, armpit, right side of the waist, right hip, right thigh, knee cap, calf muscle, ankle, heel, sole, top /dorsal part of the foot, right toes in a sequential manner until you  bring your awareness to the little toe.
  1. Next follow the same sequence for the left side of the body. Bring your awareness to your left side of the body beginning with the left thumb, index finger, middle finger, fourth finger and little finger, left palm, the back side/dorsal part of the palm, wrist, forearm arm,  upper arm, shoulder, armpit, left-side of the waist, left hip, left thigh, knee cap, calf muscle, ankle, heel, sole, top /dorsal part of the foot, left toes in a sequential manner until you  bring your awareness to the little toe.
  1. Now do the reverse of Step 1 starting with the right large toe and moving in sequential order to the little toe, followed by right dorsal/top or front part of the foot, sole, heal, ankle, calf muscle, knee cap, thigh, hip, waist, armpit, shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm/lower arm, wrist, back/dorsal part of palm, palm, right thumb, index, middle, ring and little finger.
  1. Do the reverse of Step 2 starting with the left large toe and moving in sequential order to the little toe, followed by left dorsal/top or front part of the foot, sole, heal, ankle, calf muscle, knee cap, thigh, hip, waist, armpit, shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm/lower arm, wrist, back/dorsal part of palm, palm, left thumb, index, middle, ring and little finger.
  1. Now bring your awareness to the dorsal/back side of the body starting with the back of the head, right shoulder blade, left shoulder blade, entire length of the spine, right hip, left hip, right buttock, left buttock, dorsal side /back side of the right thigh, left thigh, right calf muscle, left calf muscle, right ankle, left ankle, right heel, left heel.
  1. Repeat this sequence in opposite direction moving upwards the dorsal side of the body.
  1. Now the same with the ventral/front facing parts of the body- Start out with bringing your awareness to the crown of the head, forehead, right eyebrow, left eyebrow, right eyelid, left eyelid, right eye, left eye right ear, ;eft ear, right nostril, left nostril, right cheek, left cheek, upper lip, lower lip, chin, jaw, throat, right collar bone, left collar bone right part of chest, left part of chest, upper abdomen, navel, lower abdomen, groin, right thigh, left thigh, right knee, left knee, right leg, left leg, right toes, left toes. (you can also focus on the internal organs, lungs, diaphragm, kidneys, stomach, pancreas, liver etc.
  1. Now do the reverse of step 8 moving up the body.
  1. Lastly bring your awareness to the head, trunk, right arm, left arm, both arms, right leg, left leg, both legs together, entire body.

Bring your attention to your breath.  Start counting backward with every exhalation (from 30, 50, 100 any number of your choosing).

There are numerous videos on you tube.  Some of these guided Yoga Nidra videos will continue to remind you to not fall asleep during the practice.  If you are a narcoleptic then these videos are perfect for you, but if you suffer from insomnia then it is best to avoid such videos and go for one that does not restrict you from falling asleep.  This is based on my experience.  My recommendation would be go with what works best for you and is aligned with your goals and expectations from this practice.

My favorite guided practice is the one by Baba Ramdev in Hindi. I find it to be very soothing and hypnotic.

A good one in English is the Yoga Nidra Meditation Video: 21 Minutes to Dynamic Sleep on you tube by Bulletproof.

Below is the link to a wonderful resource with detailed information on Yoga Nidra.

Resources: Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati





Trail Sunset yachna Yoga


Kenopanishad-What is Brahman?

What cannot be described with words, but because of the power of which one can express speech.  That is Brahman and not what people worship here.

What cannot be comprehended with the mind,  but because of which the mind can comprehend and think. That is Brahman and not what people worship here.

What cannot be seen with the eyes, but because of which the eyes can see.  That is Brahman and not what people worship here.

What cannot be heard by ears , but because of which one can hear.  That is Brahman and not what people worship here.

What one cannot breathe in with breath but because of which one can breathe.  That is Brahman and not what people worship here.

Brahman is the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, the speech of the speech, the prana of the prana and the eye of the eye.


~ Kena Upanishad


Achieving Self- Realization

The following article is not for everyone.  It will only appeal to those rare diehard individuals who seek the highest goal of achieving God consciousness, who have a hunger for self realization (atmagyan ); For those who have an undying thirst for learning the universal truth and discovering their true divine nature.

The formula to achieve God consciousness or self realization is very simple,  but very difficult to execute. The formula is- Still your mind.

Annhilate all thoughts as mind is nothing but thoughts.

No- not even positive thoughts will help attain self realization.  The fact that one puts in conscious effort to think positive thoughts is an indication of the amount of negativity that has overtaken one’s mind. Don’t try to slay negative thoughts with positive thoughts-  just become thought free.

The world appears real because of constant thoughts.  Once thoughts subside and the mind becomes completely still- the universal truth is revealed. All sorrow and suffering disappears and one revels in the divine blissful knowledge of Truth.

One need not go on pilgrimages or chant mantras or practice extreme yoga or austerities. There is no need for ritualistic worship or charitable karmic pursuits in hope for some gain.  There is no need to twist your body into a pretzel or stand on your head.

Just be thought free.

For the individuals who are the right candidate, simply reading  scriptures on self-realization or Brahma Gyan and listening to discourses by the right guru is enough to help them understand the principle and achieve this highest state.

Prahlad- the son of the evil asura king Hiranyakashipu is known as one of the greatest devotees of Lord Vishnu. Prahlad was not the son of a great soul nor was his son blessed with any special perks simply for being the son of a virtuous soul.

Prahlad’s son Virochan who was imparted this knowledge by the divine Lord Brahma himself about 30 times couldn’t achieve true knowledge. This goes to show that just because one is the child of a great saint or has the greatest guru on earth- if one is not a worthy vessel for receiving this knowledge they just won’t get it. Whereas for one who is a worthy recipient- just a few words of wisdom heard or read are enough for them to grasp the essence of the principle and apply it undeterred until they achieve the experience of the greatest secret that even the devas ( celestial beings) failed to understand and seers strived to experience.  It is said that even the devtas are jealous of one who achieves Brahma Gyan.

Once you experience Brahma Gyan you understand the concept that God indeed is everywhere and in every living being.  There is no feeling of individualism.  There is no “I” only feeling of oneness with all creatures big or small.

With our small minds we have tried to define Him and explain Him and challenge him by limiting him with our limited senses. ( arguments like if God is omnipresent and omnipotent then why don’t we see Him or why is there so much suffering? Why doesn’t he appear to help those in dire need?).  We have had the audacity to describe his job description and then also failed him since He didn’t meet the passing grade as per our requirements.  He is not a super hero who dives in to scoop the lady in distress as he should according to our understanding of a super hero.  We have tried to measure Him on that same scale as a ninja warrior or super heroes as depicted in Marvel and DC comics.  This is where the topic of free will and karma comes in- a topic for another day.  If you plant poison berry don’t expect cherries.

He is limitless and hence beyond our senses and can only be experienced through consciousness of a pure mind. But a pure mind is a still mind with no thoughts waves disturbing it.

Those with small minds will once again mistake the stillness of mind with that of being brain dead or indifferent, but then this article is not meant for every individual. Those who are worthy will effortlessly  understand the message shared here.







Concentration, Meditation and Self Realization

What Meditation is not?

A person who received a certificate from a meditation program doesn’t even know what true meditation is or what it should feel like because they themselves have never experienced it.  They can only teach what they have been trained to teach. They will tell you that focusing on your breath is meditation. Focusing mentally on your breath is not meditation.  It is concentration.  We might say it is one of the simplest forms of meditation or a meditation for beginners, but in the true sense it is concentration. In Hindi it is called dharana and it is the sixth limb of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga ( eight limb yoga) that begins with yam (basic moral values), niyam (discipline), pranayama (breathing techniques), asan (yoga poses), pratyahar (withdrawing of senses), dharana (concentration), Dhyan (meditation) , and finally samadhi ( the merging of one’s consciousness with Super consciousness/self realiztion/Brahman).
Uninterrupted concentration is a precursor to meditation and for ones who can train themselves to focus effectively, it forms a robust substratum for meditation. One can benefit tremendously from a regular 30 minute session of focusing on ones inhalation and exhalation. There are three ways to do this:

  1. Just observe your natural inhalation and exhalation without trying to manipulate it.
  2. Inhale and as you do, mentally count slowly to 10 and as you exhale do so mentally to a count of 10. Pause for a moment and inhale again.
  3. Inhale slowly as you mentally chant SOoooooo and as you exhale slowly mentally chant Hummmm.

If done with sincerity you can experience the benefits immediately. You might feel more grounded, centered, calm, positive and have more clarity, better deeper sleep, compassion, kindness and forgiveness. It can help build a higher  threshold  for handling stress for negativity around oneself. Try to extend this ability to focus to everything you do. If you’re at home with your family don’t think about work and when you’re at work don’t think about home. Train yourself to give your 100% focus to whatever it is you are doing. The problem we all face today is that whatever task we are performing  in a given moment, it doesn’t have our full attention because  our attention has drifted to the next task instead of the one we are currently involved with. Trataka is another example of external concentration. In Trataka one focuses without blinking on the flame of a ghee lamp. Mantra chanting with rosary beads is yet another example of concentration. In a nutshell- trying to get the mind to focus is concentration.


Self Realization
This pictorial representation comes closest to attempting to explain self realization

Now what is meditation? 

In very simple terms- uninterrupted focus leads to the state of mediation.

Just as a certified meditation expert cannot really teach meditation but only provide some guidance, even so – a person who has experienced the highest Brahman state /self realization cannot teach another being how to meditate or attain self realization or what self realization feels like.

Why is it difficult to explain?

Because self realization is experienced through one’s consciousness not through the senses.  There are many words to describe every feeling one experiences through the senses, but there are no words to describe the state of Brahman. They can only attempt to describe what it should feel like and still fail for lack of words.

As I write this I realize I am struggling to best explain this experience of Brahman. It is happiness without cause but a very grounded happiness.  But then again it is a state of neither happiness nor sorrow, neither ambition nor inertness, neither action nor inaction, neither compassion nor apathy, devoid of anger, devoid of indifference, devoid of desire, devoid of restlessness. The state of Brahmi is one of silent contentment, peace, ecstasy, equanimity and pure love all at the same time that spontaneously emanates from within in the absence of an external source or cause.  That is my very feeble and inadequate attempt to even begin to explain the experience of Brahman or self realization. The realization that the world is false and the only truth is our pure, divine nature bursting with unconditional grounding love. That is the state of being self realized.

In my next article I will touch upon some guidance tips for higher meditation.

Balance your Hormone Secretions through Bhramari Pranayam

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One of the most underestimated pranayam techniques is BHRAMARI.  But this is one of the most powerful of all pranayamas and most easy to do techniques with the lowest risk of doing it incorrectly.

Benefits of regular Bhramari practice over time:

  • Helps reduce anger, anxiety, mental agitation, promotes, relaxation and calm, and can bring you as close as possible to a meditative state of mind. Studies have shown that Bhramari Pranayam relaxes the cerebral cortex and activates the parasymathetic system that is responsible for calmness, relaxation and promotes sound deep sleep.
  • Stimulates the balanced secretion of hormones by the endocrine glands. The vibrations produced by the nasal bumblebee like tone when chanting Mmmm sound during Bhramari stimulates the hypothalamus.  The hypothalamus is a small pea sized part of the brain which helps maintain homeostasis. It forms a link between the nervous system and the endocrine glands by releasing hormones that stimulate the pituitary gland to either secrete or inhibit the secretion of hormones by the endocrine glands in our body. Together the anterior and posterior pituitary gland secrete hormones that control the production of the growth hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, lutenizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, prolactin, vasopressin, oxytocin and the neurotransmitter dopamine .
  • Corticotropin (CRH) releasing hormone is secreted by the hypothalamus in response to stress. Higher CRH is associated with Alzheimer’s and depression. It stimulates the production of pituitary adreno-cortico tropic hormone (ACTH) which is produced in response to biological stress and results in increased production and release of cortisol by the adrenal gland. Increased cortisol has negative effects on the immune system, lengthens wound healing time, and leads to osteoporosis by reducing bone formation.
  • Dopamine ( a neurohormone released by the hypothalamus) has an influence on the motor control centers. A loss of dopamine is associated with Parkinson’s disease and pain associated with Parkinson’s. Imbalance in dopamine levels has found to be associated with social anxiety, apathy, schizophrenia etc.
  • The nasal tone humming/buzzing Mmmm sound during slow nasal exhalation boosts production of nitric oxide.  Nitric oxide dilates arteries, improving blood circulation  and oxygen to the heart, decreases plaque growth (which causes atherosclerosis)  and blood clotting, lowers high blood pressure.  Nitric oxide is produced naturally in our tissues and sinuses when we breathe through our nostrils, but if we breathe through our mouth we cannot utilize this nitric oxide.

According to http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/rccm.200202-138BC

“Nasal NO was measured with a chemiluminescence technique during humming and quiet single-breath exhalations at a fixed flow rate. NO increased 15-fold during humming compared with quiet exhalation.”

When to practice?

Practice twice a day if possible for ~ 5 minutes in morning or 5 minutes in evening which should come out to 20 breath cycles/rounds each.

How to practice?


Image: http://www.abhyasayoga.in/shanmukhi-mudra/


Sit comfortably.  Make sure you have a good posture or back support if needed.

Close you eyes. Place your thumbs on the ear flap/cartilage and press down gently to cover the ears. You may place the tips of the index finger near your third eye and the tips of the middle  fingers gently on the inner corner of your eyes and the remainder fingers just rest below on your face in a natural position. Alternately you may do this in Shanmukhi mudra with the ring finger may be placed on either side of the nostrils and the little fingers rest on either side of the mouth.

Mouth should be closed, lips touching gently but teeth slightly apart and jaw relaxed. Your tongue can rest gently behind the bottom palate.

Begin by inhaling (3-4 seconds) and as you exhale slowly through your nostrils start chanting Mmmm.(Short but full inhalation and slow exhalation).

The sound you emanate should resemble the buzzing of a bee.


  • Avoid any yogic, meditative or pranayam practice immediately after a meal.
  • If your arms get tired it is ok to take a break. You can break down your practice into 4 sets of 5 rounds each. So a total of 20 rounds or more based upon your preference.
  • If you get breathless it is because you are holding your breath while chanting Mmmm sound. Make sure to exhale an a smooth controlled manner through your nose as you chant.
  • Upon completion it is better to not get up immediately, but to sit for a few minutes.








What is maya?

Below is a story to illustrate just that:

Once Narada the celestial sage and ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu asked him,

“Lord, what is maya?”

Lord Vishnu said, “I’ll explain to you what maya is, but first fetch me some water as I am really thirsty.”

At a distance there was a village and Narada left at once. As he collected water from the river, he saw a beautiful woman. Narada felt attracted to her and asked the bashful girl to marry him.

After receiving her father’s blessing the two got married. Over time they had children and Narada inherited his father-in-laws property, land, cattle etc. Narada seemed very happy in his family life and they happily continued to live their life.

One day there was a terrible rainstorm. It wouldn’t stop pouring and the river overflowed its banks flooding the village. Homes and people were swept away. In an effort to escape, Narada held on to his wife with one hand and his older son with another. He placed his younger child over his shoulders. But the current proved to be too strong and swept away one of his children. In an attempt to save one child, he lost his grasp over his wife and second child. As they all got carried away by the flood, out of desperation he wailed and lamented, “Lord help me!”

All of a sudden he found himself scooped up and a gentle voice behind him say,

” Child, Where is my water? You’ve been gone for half an hour.”

Narada was confused. Where was his village? His wife? His children? Half an hour? It had been 12 years.

“You have always had theoretical knowledge of maya, but never really experienced it” said Lord Vishnu. Despite that knowledge you got pulled into this material world. Such is the power of maya.  The moment you experienced it you got caught up in it. It became your reality.”

Living in this world of maya is akin to being in a dream. Sometimes we wake up from a scary dream that felt very real but the moment we awake from it, we are extremely relieved as we realize it was only a dream.

Maya or illusion is similar to that. The world we live in is maya but feels very real to us because of the play of the gunas (qualities) of satva, rajas and tamas. When the mind gets dragged by the sense organs into the material world, there is an imbalance created in the three gunas. As the mind runs outwards, it wanders farther and farther away from its divine nature and  gets caught up in the play of life.

One wakes up from this maya when they turn their mind inwards through control of the mind (chittasamyam) and practice of yoga. As the mind becomes free from agitation, the three gunas enter into a state of perfect balance and the being comes to realize their divinity.  Everything at once becomes clear. Reality reveals itself and as it does, the world of maya that we believe to be our reality blurs away into the background and one sees it for what it truly is-unreal; that we are all nothing but hamsters in a wheel, believing that we are actually getting somewhere but really never getting anywhere.

If the  mind is agitated because of the constant assault by emotions, this world of maya will continue to feel real. One continues to experience momentary pleasure, interrupted by long phases of sorrow and suffering.

If the mind is free from agitation, the being will experience divine bliss and be free from worldly sorrows and suffering even while living in it.

Mind is the root cause of suffering for one who is controlled by it. But mind is also the liberator for one who can control it.

Sure-fire Antidote For Vertigo

Two weeks ago I got exposed to some cold weather and also made the mistake of consuming cold food which just doesn’t suit me. (If I bite into a cold sandwich I get congested within minutes.)

My head felt completely jammed and heavy and I ended up with vertigo. Usually an episode leaves me bedridden  for 24 hours or so but this recent episode was different. It lasted about 2 weeks and I was mobile but had to be careful not to make any sudden movements, look up or down or lie down on either side.  So while it left me feeling  spaced out and disoriented ,  it didn’t interfere with my travel plans and other social obligations and familial responsibilities during the Christmas season. I don’t have vertigo often, maybe once every 5 years and I know my triggers ( strong smells like those in cleaning solutions  bleach, alcohol etc and exposure to cold winds and consumption of too much cold food).

When I finally got time to take care of myself I tried different natural remedies like performing mudra for vertigo and drinking and eating herbs, food and drinks (cloves, ginger, nutmeg etc) that are inherently as well as temperature warm/hot. My symptoms did improve but very slowly and not completely, so I decided to go with the sesame oil treatment which I should have done sooner, but kept putting off. With my little finger I  coated the inside of my ears with sesame oil as far as it could reach into both my ears. I also coated my nostrils making sure to breathe in deeply few times and gave myself a facial lymphatic drainage massage with it too. This helps clear the sinus congestion really fast.  (My husband once had a really bad cold which refused to leave. I convinced him to allow me to give him the sesame oil lymphatic drainage massage followed by hot towel compresses and after just one treatment he was completely fine.) Following just two applications and massages over a 24 hour period, there was 100% improvement in my vertigo. I also ate 10 almonds in the morning and 10 at night. Almonds help counter excess kapha and vata which cause vertigo.

Using organic cold pressed sesame oil is recommended, but I used what I had in my pantry which was the dark sesame oil used in Chinese recipes 🙂



Sesame oil is extremely hot in nature and is hailed for its many benefits in Ayurveda. I resumed including them in my daily diet at least for the rest of winter. Toasting  white sesame seeds until they release oil and sprinkling a teaspoon them on toast, bagels vegetable etc or adding them when baking or making rotis, paranthas etc are a great way to include them in your diet.  You can learn more about the benefits of sesame seed here.

Too much Tejas

Question from one of the readers: Whenever I do tratak for some days i get acne, mouth ulcer and dry lips what is the reason for this symptoms?


Ghee in moderation helps increase ojas

Trataka increases tejas or heat in the body. You need to make sure you drink plenty of water and also avoid foods in your diet that increases tejas. So avoid sour and hot spices, chili peppers, sesame, meat, alcohol, onion, garlic, honey, chai, coffee or any other foods, herbs etc that increase heat in body. Consume saunf, mishri, fresh coconut, coconut oil, ghee, dates, rice, wheat, sweet potato, kheer etc in moderation to increase ojas. Eat simple foods that have a watery gravy instead of dry sabzi. soak 10 almonds at night and next day peel and have them with some milk. Also soak sabza seeds in water till they become gooey then add them to sherbets, milk shakes, puddings, desserts etc

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