Since time immemorial humanity has been concerned with developing and preserving youthful vigour and extending longevity by stopping or delaying the aging process. Longevity and old age are accompanied with a variety of health challenges. Every individual is now looking forward to a youthful, productive lifespan with unlimited health opportunities. Ayurveda- one of the world’s oldest authoritative science on body-mind-soul healing therapies has a dedicated branch for prevention and maintaining healthy lifestyle and reversing the physiological aging process of the human body.
Ayurveda-the ancient science of India-basically is the science of life. Life is defined as such a matter that shows certain attributes that include responsiveness, growth, metabolism, energy, transformation & metabolism. NASA defines life or living thing as that which can take in energy from the environment & transform it for growth & reproduction. The word “ayu” means life or lifespan. Ayurveda mentions that Ayu-life is comprised of 04 essential parts-body, senses, mind & soul. In Ayurveda one of the means to measure the quality & quantity of lifespan is “Vaya” which is nothing but the age. Ayurveda defines vaya as the state of body corresponding to the length of time that has passed since birth.
Age is generally of 02 types-chronological & biological/physiological age. Chronological age is the numerical age calculated from the time of your birth in terms of years and months. This clock or number is irreversible. Physiological or biological age refers to the changes that occur in an individual at the cellular level. Biological/physiological age is affected by numerous factors like environment, stress, diet, emotions etc. Since the bio age depends on the changes at cellular level, depending upon the various factors, an individual might be younger or older than their chronological age. The bio age directly affects the lifespan of an individual. But there is good news…which is that biological age is reversible and can be brought to desired number and maintained at that age with certain simple ayurvedic principles and techniques.
Ayurveda has dedicated a complete branch known as Rasayana chikitsa for reversing and maintaining the biological age of an individual. There are numerous herbs & therapies mentioned in the classics for the same. Some of the simple principles & techniques are as follows:
- Diet & conscious eating: Ahara/diet is one of the important aspects of Ayurveda. The quality, quantity, mode of preparation, combinations & the timing of the food intake are some of the important criteria Ayurveda identifies as healthy eating. Poor quality food & irregular eating habits pose new challenges to which the bodies adapt poorly resulting in unforeseen health problems. Proper diet & nutrition at all stages of life ensures a disease-free life helping in reversing biological age.
- Sleep: Sleep is another important aspect in Ayurveda. The quality & quantity of sleep is very important in maintaining the circadian rhythm of the body which in turn helps to ensure that the rest of the physiological functions are performed efficiently. Poor quality of sleep disrupts the circadian rhythms and thereby triggers metabolic diseases. Ayurveda emphasizes on good quality & quantity of sleep as an essential requirement for optimal health, longevity & desired bio age.
- Regular daily & seasonal regimens: Ayurveda places a huge emphasis on following certain simple daily & seasonal regimens. The regimens are designed taking into consideration the effect of season on the environment & body and the effect of the various timings of the day on the body. The regimens help to balance the circadian rhythm of the body and thereby the physiological functions in the body are not disturbed. Thus, following simple seasonal & daily regimens will help to maintain the desired biological age of the body.
- Mindfulness practices: Regular mindfulness practices like yoga, pranayama & meditation help not only in relieving stress but also have numerous other benefits. Regular yoga practise helps to strengthen the body & create better flexibility, pranayama increases the oxygen holding capacity of the cells of our body thereby rejuvenating them and meditation aids in bringing about the body-mind balance. All these benefits help in reversing and maintaining the biological age at our desired level.
- Panchakarma: The 05 detoxification/elimination procedures in Ayurveda which help in removal of the toxins or imbalanced doshas/ bioenergies from the body. The panchakarma treatments which include oleation & fomentation therapies help in neutralising the vata triggered coldness & dryness that accompany aging. Studies confirm that there are broad ranging effects of panchakarma therapies which aid in delaying aging process thereby maintain desired biological age.
- Sadvritta: The life morals or the code of ethics of an individual or society is what is explained as Sadvritta in Ayurveda. Studies prove that ethical regimens and good conduct stabilise body-mind function, helps to ward off mental ailments and teaches one to face life’s challenges. All these benefits help to reverse and maintain the biological age of the body.
Aging is a natural biological process. Chronological age number keeps ticking and as we have seen it cannot be reversed. But the biological clock of our body which determines our biological age can be adjusted, reversed and stopped at our desirable age. Ayurveda which considers the individual as a part of nature advises various practices, techniques, therapies and treatments for reversing and maintaining the biological age.
An individual today is fighting to achieve wealth or health but is forgetting the basic principle that “Health is Wealth”. We want to be young and energetic forever, but we forget that the body needs immense support to maintain the youthfulness & energy. A combination of modern nutrition, exercise schedules, ayurvedic principles & techniques will help us to reverse our biological clocks and maintain it our desired youthful ages.