Ayurveda and Aging Namaste 2023

This is a more condensed version of my Keynote presentation on Ayurveda and Aging. It was given on October 30, 2023 in Ajijic, Mexico at Namaste Village.

This is a more condensed version of my Keynote presentation on Ayurveda and Aging. It was given on October 30, 2023 in Ajijic, Mexico at Namaste Village.


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In 2004, I received a degree in Ayurveda from

Kalidas Sanskrit University in India.

The very first instruction I received in the

formal welcome to the school was:

‘Everything in the world is medicinal, and

everything in the world is poisonous.

‘Ayurveda will teach you how to tell the

DIFFERENCE between the two.’

In this presentation, we will

explore these various


After graduation, I visited Benaras, the oldest

still-living city in the world. There, I heard a story

about Kabir, one of the greatest saints of medieval

India. It went like this:

The king of Benares had built a large palace on

the banks of the Ganges river and wanted Kabir

to come and visit his palace. Kabir accepted, and

after a tour of the palace, the King asked him

what he thought of the place.

Kabir replied,

‘There are two defects which cannot be fixed,’

‘Tell me what they are, and I shall fix them right away,’ said

the King.

‘You cannot do it,’ replied Kabir.

‘Why not? I have the money and men. Tell me what they

are and I shall have them fixed,’ said the king

Kabir then said:

‘One is that this palace will grow old and decay.

The second is that you will grow old and die.’

Our consideration is suggested by

Kabir’s -‘Grow old and die’:

This brings us to

AYURVEDA and Aging

So let’s begin with a consideration of


Ayurveda is the

‘Veda’ ‘(Science)


‘Ayu’ (Life)


is taught on

earth so

mankind can

enjoy a long

and healthy


Ayurveda contains

the Vidya or knowledge

of ‘how to create or maintain

the health of the healthy

and cure or palliate the disease

of a diseased person’

From the Yoga Sutras,

Ayurveda draws a fundamental

principle regarding the Law of Karma:

‘Heyam Dukham Anagatam’

- Patanjali Yoga Sutras 2:16

‘The suffering that has not yet come

can be avoided’

The suffering

that is here,

is here because of ‘karmic’

reasons . . .

it has past cause or causes

and must be endured

But, the suffering

that is not yet here can be avoided,

by changing our actions

Ayurveda says:

with proper understanding

we may move towards health

by means of right actions

There is a causative factor for the

manifestation of a bodily being, but

there is

no cause for the cessation of

this manifestation since death

following birth is the natural flow of

life itself

- Charaka Samhita

Suffering born of Time (Aging) is

inherent in life and cannot be

avoided, but only palliated.

This is a foundational principle


Ayurveda and Aging



Life is held in the hands


Time or Kala

and Time is a fundamental


when we consider:


In Ayurveda,

Old Age and Aging is a

‘disease’ brought about by


It is written in the Ayurvedic


‘Shiryate Iti Shariram’

‘The body is constantly


We know everyone

who has taken birth

must grow old and die,

but no one wants to grow old

and no one wants to die.

But even from conception the

body is tending towards death

According to Buddha:

Birth, Disease, Old Age, and

Death comprise the inevitable


of a human being

“. . . birth is suffering, Old Age is

suffering, illness is suffering, union

with unpleasant things is suffering,

separation from pleasant things is

suffering, not obtaining what we wish

is suffering; all clinging to existence is


- Buddha

Buddha was asked,

‘How are you different than other


He replied:

‘I was disturbed by

Birth, Disease, Old Age and Death,

others did not seem to be so disturbed’

In Ayurveda,

any state that is not pleasurable

is called - ‘Disease’

In Tibetan medicine,

(which arose from Ayurveda),

life itself is a disease that ends in death

Ayurveda considers Aging

Born of time


a ‘Natural’, and

only Palliatible


‘Palliative’ here refers to:

Treatment that affirms life and

regards ‘Aging,’ and death as a

natural and normal process

Palliative Care provides relief

from unnecessary pain or

distressing symptoms

Even though Buddha said:

‘Suffering is inevitable’

he also said that:

‘All suffering is not necessary’

The ‘disease’ of Aging is


But, it may be manifested in a

timely or untimely,

comfortable or uncomfortable,

disease-free or disease-filled,


The Ayurvedic approach to Aging:

is to remedy and/or palliate


underlying imbalances

brought about by Aging

Even though,

Time or Kala creates an

unavoidable imbalances in the


Ayurveda teaches us how to

palliate those ‘unavoidable’


According to Ayurveda-

The growth, development,

maintenance and decay

of the body

are dependent on

four factors or qualities:

1) Kala (time)

2) Swabhava

(nature, doshic make up)

3) Ahar (Diet)

4) Paryavarana -Environmental


The first two:

1) Kala (Time)

2) Swabhava

(nature, doshic make up)

We Cannot Control

but only Palliate

The second two:

3) Ahar (Diet)

4) Environmental factors

We Can Control

Diet (Ahar) and Environment)

can be controlled



according to:

Kala - Time (impersonal)

and Svabhava- Self Nature (personal)




Kala or Time holds

a human being

in its grasp

from birth until death

So fundamental is Kala or

time that an image of Kala

holding the wheel of life is

painted directly next to the

main entry of every Tibetan

Buddhist monastery





The ‘Three Poisons’ of life

It is called:

the ‘Bhavachakra’

or the

The Wheel of Becoming


The Wheel of Life

It is Kala or Time that creates:

• The Yugas

• The seasons of a year

• The hours of day and night

• The seasons of a person’s life

• Aging

Buddha spoke of Time

as the context,

of inescapable suffering

. . . for it is Time that

determines our inability to gain

any permanent happiness in


no matter what our actions are

Just as we need to understand the

place where we live

the season of the year

and the time of the day

Ayurveda says it is necessary to



the Season or Time

of our life

The effect of Time on the body

is Kshaya or the diminishing of

all the capabilities of the bodymind

with Old Age

Let’s look more closely

at how Kala or Time

is expressed

in the ‘Stages of Life’

The Stages of Life

The Chandogya Upanishad says

that a man or woman enjoys 116

years of life

Balavastya: +/- 24 years

Yuvavastha: +/- 44yrs (24-68)

Vrddhavastha: +/- 48 yrs (108-116)

Balavastya (Youth)

From conception to a girl’s first period

(approximately 14-16 years of age; now

earlier) is the time that Kapha or the

EARTH and WATER elements rules.

This period exhibits a steady increase

and coordination of the strength and

integrity of the body, mind and senses

Madhyavasta (Middle Age)

The FIRE element rule middle age and

lasts (approximately) from 14-16 years to

60-70 years of age. It is dominated by

PITTA DOSHA. There is an increase of

hormonal activity, the digestive abilities

of food and experience; full engagement

of the senses, mind, intellect and a

greater (or lesser) mastery of will

Vriddhavastha (Old Age)

This is the period from 70 years to

our death, when there is everincreasing

wasting or decay

(Kshaya) in the body. This time of

life correlates

with Vata Dosha or the Air and

Ether elements

As we age there is a natural decrease

of the Dhatus or bodily tissues:

There is wrinkling of the skin, graying

of the hair, baldness, diminished

ability to do physical work, diminished

digestive power (JatharAgni) and

diminished immunity (Ojas)

In Old Age

(even if one is not sick or in pain)

there is a decrease in the

(sensory organs)

There is diminishing strength,

speech, mental and cognitive

functions, memory, intellect and

analytic ability

When these symptoms come

about in accord with a

balanced or healthy

Swabhava (self-nature),

it is known as

Natural Aging

When Aging results from a result

of a defective diet and lifestyle,

Vriddhavastha (Old Age) begins

earlier and is then known as

Akalaja Vriddhavastha

or (untimely Aging) and is usually

accompanied by disease

Worry, Anxiety, Smoking increase

Aging in any individual

Aging can be slowed and

‘Untimely Aging’ is preventable.

Even if symptoms of untimely

Aging are already manifested,

they can be managed or

palliated by applying the

principles of Ayurveda

One of the well-known principles of

Ayurveda is:

‘Like increases Like

Opposites decrease one another’

The words for ‘Health’ in Ayurveda

is Svastha, Sama or balance. Balance

is the working principle of Ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, the

‘patho’-physiology of Aging is

caused primarily by diet and the

process of Aging can be slowed

down by correcting and


the diet and lifestyle



Self nature

So, the first factor is TIME-KALA

The second of the four factors,

(Kala, Svabhava, Diet,


that creates the growth, development,

maintenance and decay of the body


- the unique, individual nature, or

elemental makeup of our body

For most people in the West today

who have gained a little knowledge of

Ayurveda, this elemental makeup of

the body is called -


which is another name for


To balance Svabhava it is

necessary to understand the

‘5 elements,’ as each of our

bodies is composed of

differing combinations of

what are called the

5 elements or the


We must understand and determine

our Dosha

so we can balance it

When we understand our environment

in terms of the five elements, we can

begin to understand its Doshic Effect

These five elements are:

Ether (Akash)

Air (Vayu)

Fire (Agni or Tejas)

Water ( Jala)

Earth (Bhumi)

The Five Elements


Everything in creation is made


differing combinations of

the 5 elements

(always and only

all-together appearing)

They are called the


When the

Panchamahabhutas are

considered in terms of location

they are called: the Environment:

desert, ocean, forest, mountain,

cold, hot, windy, dry

When the

Panchamahabhutas are

considered in terms of Food

they are called- The Six tastes:

sweet, sour, salty, bitter,

pungent, astringent

When the

Panchamahabhutas are

considered in terms of the

Seasons of the year, they are


spring, summer, fall, winter

When the

Panchamahabhutas are

considered in terms of the

Time of the day, they are

called: dawn, morning,

afternoon, evening and


When the

Panchamahabhutas are

considered in terms of the

Seasons of a persons life, they

are called: childhood,

adolescence, middle age and

Old Age

When the

Panchamahabhutas are

considered in terms of the

Ages of the Universe they are

called the Yugas:

Kali, Dwarpa, Treta and Sat

When the Panchamahabhutas

are considered in terms of the

human body they are called:


When Ayurveda traveled to the

West through Persia and then

Greece, these Doshas were

called the Humors







“Neither in theory nor in fact is

there a physical manifestation

that cannot be accounted for

by the concept of Tridosha”

– Charaka Samhita

The ‘Nature’ or quality

of a thing

(or one’s body)

is called:




When we consider

an individual being

and his or her unique combination

of the elements

the particular element (or


that predominates amongst them

is called their Dosha


(Also) Means ‘that which vitiates,

aggravates, darkens, spoils


causes things to decay’

There are

Varying combinations of the

Panchamahabhutas or

5 Elements that determine the


Vata, Pita and Kapha

are the 3 Doshas

Let’s look at some examples of

Dosha and how differing

combinations of the elements

determine different types of

the human body-mind:

Everything contains all of the

five elements together. When we

speak about Dosha, we are

referring to the predominance

of certain elements.


Earth and Water predominant




Fire and Water predominant




Air and Ether predominant


Kapha and Vata

‘Yatha Loka Tatha Pindam’

(As is the whole world, so is the body)

The physical and psychological human being

follows the pattern of a full day of the world

Kapha in the morning hours (6-10am)

Pitta in the midday hours (10-2pm)

Vata in the late afternoon hours (2-6pm)

Kapha rules the morning hours (6-10am)

Diseases of a Kapha type mainly happen

to a person in their Kapha season of life

and their symptoms express most

powerfully during the Kapha hours

Pitta rules the midday hours (10-2pm)

Adolescence-Midlife (14-60yrs)

Middle age people are primarily affected

by Pitta disorders and these symptoms often

heighten during the Pitta hours of the day and

years of life

Vata rules the afternoon hours of the day (2-6pm)

and the later years of life (70- death)

Elderly people are primarily affected

by Vata disorders and these symptoms

often heighten during the Vata hours of

the day and years of life

The 5 Elements or

Panchamahabhutas express


in every aspect of life

Under the

Controlling Effect

of Time,

Each stage of life, expresses

different Panchamahabhutas

or Doshas

Now we have the

background to consider



Old Age is the time of Vata

Old Age

The Time



Like Air and Ether


is easily shaped and

affected by

the environment

Vata is the ‘environment,’ time or

season of Old Age

Vata rules Old Age


We must Recognize, Understand and

Balance the increase of Vata

in our diet and lifestyle,

to maintain or create balance

in our Old Age

Interestingly, our modern day

environment is more Vata than ever in


We move faster,

do more, process our foods and drinks

use modern medicine to suppress our

disease symptoms, spend

more time in front of computers and TV

movies ‘move’ faster

girls get their periods at a younger age

What are the qualities or

‘Gunas’ of Vata

according to Ayurveda?

Vata is:










The working Principle of how to achieve

‘Balance’ or Sama in Ayurveda is:

“Similars increase one another

Opposites decrease one another”

So, to balance Vata

we need:


Light -

Dry -

Irregular -

Rough -






Oily/ moist






When Vata Dosha is out of

balance there is an excess of the

qualities that define that Dosha

For instance:

For Instance:

Light: The person loses weight

Cold: The person feels chilled

Dry: The skin, lips, mucosal glands become dry

Mobile: the voice becomes too quick or rambles

Subtle: The person is easily affected by the feelings of


Hard: the stools become hard and difficult to eliminate

Irregular: Easy to change

Rough: The skin becomes rough

Look at how Vata

characteristics are similar to

the effects of Old Age:

Ayurveda looks at the following

as a consequence of Aging:

Dhatu Kshaya- degeneration of tissues

Indriya Kshaya- degeneration of senses

Bala Kshaya- loss of strength

Utsakhakshaya- loss of motivation

Viryakshaya- decreased libido

Vali- wrinkles

Palithya- greying of hair

Khalithya- baldness

Ayurveda offers the knowledge of how to


Vata Dosha into balance.

The principle

to achieve Balance

is: by increasing the opposite

qualities of whatever elements or

Doshic effects are in predominance:

Change can be made in


Daily Routine, Sleep, Sex,

Diet, Herbal supplements,

colors, aromas, massage, oils

and overall lifestyle . . .

Through adopting an

appropriate Diet and Lifestyle

we can bring

Vata Dosha into balance

Like every other Dosha, people

who have high Vata have been

given both a blessing and a curse.

The Blessing is that it is ‘easy for

them to change’; the Curse is that

it is ‘easy for them to change.’

Whatever is done must be

done regularly!

Vata tends to be irregular,

and irregularity only increases

Vata Dosha

Here is more of what


says about

Vata Dosha:

Physical Characteristics:

Those with a predominance of Vata dosha

usually have a thin, light frame and

excellent agility. Their energy comes in

bursts and they are likely to experience

sudden bouts of fatigue. Vatas typically have

dry skin and hair and cold hands and feet.

They sleep lightly and their digestion can

be sensitive. When the Vata dosha becomes

imbalanced, it manifests in the body as

weight loss, constipation, hypertension,

arthritis, weakness, restlessness, and

digestive challenges.

Emotional Characteristics:

Vatas love excitement and new

experiences. They are quick to anger but

also to forgive. When Vatas are in balance,

they are energetic, creative, and flexible.

They also take initiative and are lively

conversationalists. When unbalanced, they

are prone to worry and anxiousness and

often suffer from insomnia. When they feel

overwhelmed or stressed, their response is,

“What did I do wrong?”

If excessive stress in your life makes your

Vata imbalanced, your activity will start to

feel out of control. Your mind may race,

contributing to anxiety and insomnia. You

may start skipping meals, resulting in

unintended weight loss, and your digestion

may become irregular. If you notice these

‘early’ symptoms of a Vata imbalance, slow

down, take time to meditate, don’t skip

meals, and get to bed earlier. A regular

lifestyle routine helps ground Vata so you’re

not carried away into the ether

Vata Pacifying Diet

Vata is balanced by a diet of freshly cooked,

whole foods that are soft or mushy in texture,

rich in protein and fat, seasoned with various

warming spices, and served warm or hot.

These foods calm Vata by lubricating and

nourishing the tissues, preserving moisture,

and maintaining warmth while supporting

proper digestion and elimination.

Qualities to Favor and Avoid

Vata is cool, dry, rough and light, so eating

foods that neutralize these qualities – foods

that are warm, moist, oily, smooth, and

nourishing – can help to balance excess Vata.

An improved understanding of these qualities

can guide you in making specific dietary

choices that will better support Vata.

There are six tastes

Tastes to emphasize for


Sweet (earth and water)

Sour (earth and fire)

Salty (fire and water)

Tastes to Decrease for VATA:

Bitter (Air and Ether)

Pungent (Air and Fire)

Astringent (Air and Earth)

It is best to have all six tastes

at every meal

Just in different proportions

for each Dosha


Vata Churna


Stay Warm

Don’t get chilled

Avoid Drafts and Wind

Root vegetables and winter squash

will help nourish and balance the

body. Try carrots, beets, sweet

potatoes, pumpkin, acorn, butternut,

delicata, and buttercup squashes.

These have the qualities of sweet,

heavy, smooth, dense, and moist and

are most balancing for Vata.


Soups (Mung Dal)



Sweet grains such as Basmati rice,

wheat berries, brown rice, and sushi

rice. Also, whole wheat pasta and or

buckwheat udon noodles can be

especially grounding for Vata. Always

include Ghee and other healthful oils

such as almond, sesame, or sunflower

for internal oleation, kindling Agni,

and increasing absorption.


When preparing food, use

warming spices such as black

pepper, dry ginger, cinnamon

and asafoetida to help to stoke

the digestive fire.


should be the largest meal of

the day


Go to bed earlier

Time of Day and Dosha

Drink Hot Ginger Tea



Vata Tea

Very little Raw Foods

No cold drinks

No caffeinated drinks

No snack bars

No Granola

No Dried Fruits


All Good Fats


Sesame oil




Vata Digest Tablets from

Banyan Botanicals

Vata Churna from MAPI

Haritaki/ Amalaki - best herbs for

balancing Vata

Daily Abhyanga or Oil Massage

Coconut oil in hot climates

Sesame oil in cooler climates




Sitting Quietly

‘As we age, exercise must become

more gentle, easeful and

restorative and that’s the more

classical approach to the asana.

Asanas should exercise the body

sufficiently, but need not train

the body athletically.’

- David Frawley, -Yoga and Ayurveda

Yoga Asana

Do any and all asanas

smoothly and lightly


Nadi Shuddhi


Hot Milk with Ginger, Cinnamon

Cardamom and Saffron

before bed


Eliminate toxins and toxic conditions from your

body and mind.

Strengthen your immune system and become

more resistant to illness.

Reverse the negative effects of stress on your

body and mind, thereby slowing the aging


Bring about deep relaxation and a sense of wellbeing.

Panchakarma (five actions) is a cleansing and

rejuvenating program for the body, mind, and


Panchakarma is done individually for each

person with their specific constitution and

specific disorder in mind, thus it

requires close observation and supervision.

Treatment starts with pre-purification Measures

of Snehan (internal oleation) and Svedana

(external elation), and then cleansing methods –

Shodanas are applied.

PINDA SWEDA: Reduces Stress

The therapeutic properties of the oil on targeted pressure points,

drastically reduces stress.

Cures Insomnia

Pinda Sweda is an effective cure for people struggling with insomnia

and induces good sleep.

Manages pain and inflammation

Relieves pain and inflammation in problem areas, increases blood flow

and rejuvenates the system.

Soothes Nerves & Joints

The massage has soothing properties on the nerves and joints,

relaxing and rejuvenating them.


Removes metabolic wastes from the body,

hence acting as a mini detox treatment.

Heals Injuries

Heals age-related musculoskeletal problems and injuries naturally.

Swedana (external application of medicated oils)

Ayurvedic Spa at Villa Ananda, Punta Mita

Swedana (external application of oil)

Swedana - Steam Bath

Ayurveda Treatment Room at Villa Ananda

Pinda Sweda (Medicated/ heated herbal treatment)

Pinda Sweda

Basti (Lower Back)

Basti (neck)

Basti (Knees)

Basti (Heart)

Nasya (Nasal Medicated Oil Treatment)



The way of Rejuvenation


An 11th century Persian chemist and physician

named Abu Rayhan Biruni reported about


“They have a science similar to alchemy which

is quite peculiar to them. They call it

Rasayana. It means an art that is comprised of

certain actions, herbs and compounds, most of

which are taken from plants. It restores the

health of those who were ill beyond hope and

gives back youth to those fading in Old Age.”

Rasayanas are herbal and mineral compounds

which according to Vedic texts help to:

- Maintain the original orderliness

of the physiology

- Preserve youthfulness and slow down

or reverse the Aging process

- Strengthen the immune system

- Make the body-mind more resistant

to damaging influences

Chyvana Rishi





“Of all Rasayanas, Amalaki is revered as

one of the most potent and nourishing.

“Amalaki is the best amongst

rejuvenating herbs.”

- Charaka Samhita

It was said by one of my

Teachers that of all the

Rasayanas, the very best is

to have

a purpose in life that you

are devoted to

‘Rasayana’ refers not merely to a

herbal regimen (drug) or a

therapy although both may be


It is a ‘lifestyle’ that can be

undertaken by anyone

Rasayana is for maintaining the

health of healthy individuals, as

well as restoring the health of

diseased individuals

Rasayana prolongs longevity,

develops good health,

improves mental faculties, and

provides immunity against


There is a particular Rasayana


‘Kuti Rasayana’

which when practiced, brings

about Kaya Kalpa or the

rejuvenation of the human body,

skin, new teeth, regrowth of hair

The most famous practitioner of

this was Tapasviji Maharaj who

lived for 185 years.

There is a book written about him

called: Maharaj


Sattvic Lifestyle

Righteous living

Good conduct




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