Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) and Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Ageing is a demon which is manifested in the body but is felt by the mind very early. Ageing is a ‘principle of creation’ and is a must for everyone. We don’t control it. But we can age gracefully by accepting that ageing is not a disease but a stage of life.
The paradises of future life are collapsed and many wars lost when the thought of ‘getting aged’ creeps in the mind. It is an insect which bites the mind every moment. Some may be cautious towards ageing and take many preventive steps to avoid problems arising in the old age. Some may live a carefree life or rather a careless life and think about the problems as and when they arrive. Some may live in fear. But the body and mind will age. Ageing waits for none.
Vaya Sandhi and the Art of Graceful Ageing
Ayurveda has given a beautiful concept of Rutu Sandhi or ‘measures to be taken during the junctional period of 2 seasons’. This includes ‘letting go’ the practices of the previous season (in the last few days of that particular season) and ‘gradually inculcating the practices of the upcoming season’ so as to prepare to meet the coming season. The measures and practices include diet and lifestyle changes and methods of seasonal adaptation.
Similarly, every decade of the man can be considered as a Rutu or season. Here I present a concept ‘Vaya Sandhi’ or junction of 2 decades of ageing process. Just like in Rutu Sandhi, every person shall either train him-self or her-self or trained by the doctor to meet the coming decade in the ageing process with pride and joy.
Read related: 16 Lifestyle Changes Required After You Reach 30 (Your younger years are over. Let’s Face it!)
Planning of Vaya Sandhi
How to plan the Vaya Sandhi?
Block the ageing process in the mind –
As I already said, the mind prepares you for ageing. The preparation may be in a constructive or destructive way, depends on what type of mental constitution you possess and what type of thought process you are habituated to.
Remedy – You need to accept that ageing is inevitable and try to see it as a natural process. Any fears arising in the mind shall be suppressed and one should motivate them-selves in a positive way. You need to meet the ageing process with pride, not with envy or trained to do so. ‘I have enjoyed the previous episode of my lifespan and I shall do it better in the next decade too’ should be the ideology.
Read related: 10 Exercise Tips To Get Fit Over 40
The Retirement Syndrome –
The Vanaprastha Ashrama or Retired Life is the most difficult one to tackle. By the time you retire from your work and settle back at your home, the fears of ‘how do I do from tomorrow, what do I do from tomorrow?’ would have occupied your mind. Along with this comes the fear of rejection, being presented with the ‘manual of restrictions’ by the caretakers, who are often your children. If you are away from your children, the fears are more. You suddenly start feeling helpless, ageing, lost and defeated. You imagine all the health issues which you would face in future.
Remedy – The Retirement shall be seen as a gift to ‘reboot-and-re-live’ from the beginning. From 2 years before retirement plan and prepare a ready reckoner, if possible with your life partner or doctor or friend about ‘what to do after retirement?’. You have done everything for your children and dependants, you never had to live for your-self, and you have compromised and sacrificed a lot of dreams all these years. Now is the chance to plan to satisfy and make real all your unfulfilled dreams.
Have a positive thought processing and take preventive measures –
If you are a person who thinks negatively, you start visualizing ageing process in your mind and will find yourself in a helpless condition when you start looking into the future. Example, when you have mild to moderate joint pains or back pain you will visualize yourself to be helplessly bed ridden in future rather than searching or seeking remedies for it.
If your mindset is positive one, you will try to take precautions so as to avoid the ‘ageing related health issues’ in future by taking suitable preventive measures. Example, when you feel your joints are giving way and may trouble you in future, you will seek the doctor’s opinion regarding preventing the ‘joint disorders’ in future and will be ready to do whatever the doctor tells you to do.
Remedy – Positive visualization is the best remedy. See your-self jogging and cycling in the next decade rather than seeing self on a bed and prepare your next decade accordingly.
Identification of your weaker areas and addressing them –
Each of you has a weaker area, more specific of self. The site of regular manifestation of a health related problem in your body is the weak or susceptible area. The health issue you are facing regularly is your constant enemy. Don’t try to live with it. Try and figure out the worst problems you have been facing through the length of the past few decades. Some of you may have a constant backache, some a sensitive stomach, some others an early morning headache and some may have cough and cold in every winter. Make a note of these problems. They may visit you regularly even in your old age and trouble you.
Remedy – Present your susceptible problems to your doctor and seek remedies for the same. Addressing these issues in the earlier decades will make living in your successive decades easier.
Have a systematic approach towards your diet and lifestyle as you age –
You may not tolerate or digest the same foods which you are easily doing it in this decade. Identify sensitive and reactive foods. Similarly make a list of foods which are compatible with you. Plan your diet for future decade including the quality and quantity of food with the help of a dietician or doctor.
Similarly you cannot do the same activities with same energy and enthusiasm in the coming decade of your age. Plan the quality and quantity of activities for your future so as to blend with your age at the given decade.
Have a good control over your untoward or high-end emotions, keep away the stress and have good sleep –
Ageing comes with lot of tensions, worries, insecurities and high-end reactions. You tend to be over-reactive or under-reactive. Both are not good. Venting off the emotions are good, at the same time holding on to the untoward reactions are also good. The priorities matter. You will have a lot of time at your retirement so as to find all your family members at your disposal. You will get lot of time to point at others mistakes and give lectures. These things will go to unnecessary debates, battles and stress. Stress is not good at old age. As such there is a lot of degeneration going on in the old age, the stress will add to worsen it.
Try to avoid stressful confrontations and keep self happy and stress-free. Don’t give lessons to anyone. Let be ‘yourself’ and allow others to be ‘their-self’. Plan a good sleep. It helps in taking care of your body and mind.
If you are depressed or anxious or stressful, if you are not getting good sleep, consult a doctor. There is nothing to feel ashamed or low about it.
Plan your fitness –
You need to have a bank balance of your energy, enthusiasm, immunity and fitness when you enter the next decade of your ageing process. Get into good quality and quantity of fitness as early as possible. Have good exercise and workouts. Yoga and meditation also will do. Do it under guidance and don’t overdo them. Likewise seek the help of your trainer so as to plan your fitness programmed and exercises for next decade, so as to keep them apt to your age.
Look for alternative job or past-time activity of your choice –
Keeping self engaged in some sort of activity or hobby or alternative job will keep the body and mind fit or at least keeps alive a feel of being fit. ‘An ideal mind is the devils workshop’ is a saying which looks so real in old age or retired life. Why allow a devil to work in your mind? You work instead. The activity can range from taking tuitions to kids to gardening or learning music to cooking, from traveling to painting and many more.
Plan for Shodhana –
The body needs to be evacuated of its cumulative toxins, wastes and excreta frequently. This enables the body to function smoothly. Shodhan or body cleansing measures including the Panchakarma methods i.e. Vamana (therapeutic emesis), Virechana (therapeutic purgation), Vasti (therapeutic enemas) and Nasya (nasal medication) should be planned according to one’s need and morbidity or proneness to get particular health issues. This shall not only cure the existing diseases but would provide long standing immunity against those diseases and also prevent recurrences. They are also anti-ageing.
Shodhana will help you to progress into your next decade with optimum confidence and strength.
Pamper your body and mind, often –
Ayurveda has wonderful remedies to soothe your body and mind. You need not have a disease or disorder to undergo these pampering treatments. The beauty is that you need these treatments while you are in the transition period, progressing from middle age to old age, even at old age and retired life. These remedies are also anti-ageing.
These treatments include abhyanga (herbal oil massage), swedana (steaming), pinda sweda (bolus fomentations), sthanika vasti (joint and spine care with oil pooling), shirodhara (oil streaming or pouring in stream of medicated fluids over the head), sarvangadhara (stream pouring of medicated oil and other fluids over the body) etc
Plan a Rasayana –
Jara Chikitsa or Ayurvedic part of the Geriatrics is probably the first known documented ‘anti-ageing’ principle of treatment and preventive medicine in any medical science. Jara is a part and one of the key branches of 8 branches of Ayurveda (Ashtanga Ayurveda).
This branch deals with Rasayana (medicines and measures which have tissue building and tissue protective properties. Tissues or dhatus are the building blocks of the body. These represent the immunity, strength, composure and endurance of an individual. The dhatus degenerate towards old age. The tissues destruction should be prevented and the strength and immunity maintained as one steps into the successive decades of ageing. For this Rasayanas would come in handy. They shall be planned well in advance in consultation with an experienced Ayurveda or Rasayana practitioner.
Rasayanas are broad spectrum medicines. They are anti-ageing, preventive medicines, immune-modulators and tissue rejuvenators.
Keep in touch with your doctor and keep a check on your chronic ailments –
Keeping a check on chronic ailments like heart problems, High BP, Diabetes, Thyroid related disorders, Neurological disorders, Joint and Spinal disorders, Insomnia etc are important. Never miss a dose of medicine and never self medicate. Have the numbers of your family doctor or specialists seeing you. Keep in touch for any variations in health.
Few useful remedies for daily use:
Triphala churna – 1 teaspoon at night after food with water, especially if you are prone to constipation. It is an excellent anti oxidant and anti ageing product. Good to use for long term.
Amla churna – 1 teaspoon at night after food. If you do not have constipation but still you want to enjoy anti oxidants, this is a very good choice. Good for long term use.
Ashwagandha churna or tablet – 3 grams (half a teaspoon) or 1 tablet at night after food. Useful if there is sleep problems and muscle weakness. May cause stomach disturbance in some. Well tolerated by most people.
Brahmi churna or capsule – 3 grams (half a teaspoon) or 1 tablet at night after food. Useful to have a sharp memory and concentration. Also useful in sleep.
Chyawanprash or Brahma Rasayana – 1 teaspoon in the morning, with milk or water, before food for overall anti ageing Rasayana effect. Diabetic people may seek doctor’s advice before taking it.
Mahanarayana taila – Massage whole body with this oil at least twice a week, 30 minutes before bath.
Old age is not the end of life. It may be the beginning too. It depends on how we see things and how we manage them. On every birthday of mine, I usually declare that I am one year young. The mind behaves alike and takes care of the body mechanisms in a likely way. The body behaves as we think and we should train the thought process. We should not feel aged at mind before the ageing grips our body. Even when the body is getting old, if we keep our mind young and thoughts positive, our old age and retired life will be at its happiest best!!
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)