From Fighting Fatigue to Fighting Fit: A Practical Ayurvedic Guide
We've all felt it sometimes.
Just plain deep-down dog-tired.
Head, neck, forehead, arms, legs, and toes — everything feels strained. Everything hurts.
Research tells us that 30% of all visits to the doctor's office are on account of the same complaint: fatigue.
The Trouble With Tiredness
The trouble with tiredness is that its roots can be pretty tough to trace. That is why doctors often recommend a battery of tests (blood, urine, stool) to try to rule out the usual suspects: thyroid problems, sleep disorders, anemia, anxiety.
The real reason you're feeling tired, however, could be as simple as not having slept well for the last few nights. Or having been too hard at work. Or neglecting your lunch. That is why it might well be worth your while to try to ferret out the cause of your fatigue yourself, before you make that doctor's appointment. Ayurvedic physicians believe — and Western doctors agree — that fatigue is your body's (and mind's) distress signal to you. All those aches and pains are indications that you should take a closer look at what you are doing — or neglecting to do — for yourself from day-to-day.
Four Reasons You Could Be Feeling Exhausted
Overuse of your body
Plain and simple physical exertion is perhaps the commonest reason for that tired feeling. All three doshas — Vata, Pitta, and Kapha — tend to go out of balance when you exert yourself beyond your capacity. What's more, in recent years, overexertion has rapidly become an alarming trend. Every day, more people are crossing the line between healthy and hurtful exercise. Gym junkies have been known to become exercise addicts, giving their workout priority over everything else in life. Not only that, but sports experts observe such exercise addicts suffer actual withdrawal symptoms if they are forced to go without their daily quota of exercise.
The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians recommends certain foods that combat fatigue. In his list of favorites are herbs like Ashwagandha, Brahmi and Arjuna; spices like black pepper and fenugreek; and nuts like almonds and walnuts. Moreover, says The Council, if these ingredients are combined in the right proportions and blended in precise, traditional ways, they can take the exertion out of exercise. They revive the body, improve fat metabolism during a workout, nourish the mind and imbue the whole being with a zest for life. Formulations like Maharishi Ayurveda's Premium Amla Berry are designed to give you all these health benefits, without any side effects.
Underuse of your body
Although there is not a lot of research to show that not exercising can actually make you feel tired, it is a logical conclusion: a body that is not worked or moved enough tends to get into a pattern of lethargy, inactivity, and fatigue. The result, says The Council, is that ama, or undigested toxic matter, builds up in the physiology, creating a feeling of tiredness.
It's simple. Quit being a couch potato. Get up and go. Even a few minutes every day of light exercise such as a brisk walk or some yoga asanas will help improve your digestion, boost circulation, and promote a state of general well-being.
Along with light exercise, make sure you take a light and detoxifying diet. Stay away from ama-generating and Kapha-aggravating foods such as heavy sweets, ice-cold drinks, and heavy grains. Eat fresh, juicy fruits such as apples and peaches. For a complete list of Kapha-pacifying foods, visit Dietary Guidelines for Kapha. You'll feel revitalized and full of life.
Volumes have been written in classical ayurvedic texts about the value of nutrition. In a nutshell, the ayurvedic philosophy of food is Annaha Brahmaha — "food is divine." That is why, according to the ayurvedic perspective, to delay or miss a meal is to fail to accord it the respect it deserves. And hence, it means setting yourself up for an end-of-the-day tired and irritable feeling — and slowly, for the onset of disease. Besides, certain foods, such as caffeine, alcohol, deep-fried foods and fat-laden desserts, sap the body of its vital energy — prana — and leave you feeling tired.
Eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner on time, and do not compromise on the quality of your meals. Choose foods that are digested easily and nourish body, mind and spirit. They include fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, ghee, whole grains and light beans like mung dhal. When you eat such foods, you are sure to feel rested and yet energetic.
Irregular or insufficient sleep
There's no universally correct amount of sleep. But your body sure knows when it hasn't had enough. A recent study published in the British journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine showed that getting less than six hours of sleep a night can affect coordination, reaction time and judgment. And that people who get too little sleep may have higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
Drink a glass of warm milk with a little honey just before you sleep. This has a settling influence on the mind and body. Milk contains the amino acid tryptophan, which is a precursor of seratonin, a brain chemical that facilitates sleep. Use honey that has not been heat-treated and be sure not to heat it above 60 °F, as this eliminates its beneficial qualities. Transcendental Meditation® also cuts the daily build-up of stress, making it easier for the mind to shut off for the night. Also, the herbal formulations in Maharishi Ayurveda's Blissful Sleep System will complement your diet and lifestyle efforts — take the appropriate herbal formulas to help promote a deeper, more rejuvenating quality of sleep. Natural and non-addictive, these herbs nourish the mind-body connection for a long-term solution.
Herbs to Help You Along
While your own efforts will help you combat fatigue to a great extent, a little help from Mother Nature will make matters much easier. Nature has an astounding pharmacy, and each herb it creates has its own concentrated synergy and intelligence. Traditional researchers and experts at Maharishi Ayurveda pick the best and the ripest of herbs, fruits and spices, then combine and process them in traditional ways to ensure maximum benefit. The most respected of the Maharishi Ayurveda Rasayanas — ayurvedic formulations for overall health and longevity — is Amrit Kalash, which strengthens the immune system and refines the functioning of the physiology. Amrit promotes bala, or vital energy. Scientific studies have now established that Amrit fights free radical damage 1,000 times more effectively than any other antioxidant.
Note: If you have been suffering chronic fatigue for some time, do see a physician to rule out any medical disorders. By consulting a physician trained in Maharishi Ayurveda, you can get specific recommendations for restoring your natural energy levels based on your unique body type and imbalances.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.