Ayurveda explains Ushapana as part of the healthy daily regimen. Here, water is advised for drinking early in the morning. The qualities, benefits and contra indications of this procedure are well laid out.
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In the daily regimen, the first activity is ‘Brahmi Muhurte Uttishte’ or waking up early in the morning before sunrise. 1 Muhurta refers to a timespan of 48 minutes. A day consists of 30 Muhurtas, i.e. 15 Muhurtas in the day and 15 Muhurtas in the night. The 14th Muhurta of the night is called “Brahmi Muhurta’. This period is approximately one and a half hours before sunrise, or to be exact, one hour and 36 minutes before sunrise. This time may vary from region to region based on the time of sunrise. According to Ayurveda, this is the ideal time for a person to wake up in the morning. This is the time in which Usapana is to be done.
How To Wake Up Early In The Morning? – 10 Ayurveda Tips
What is Ushapana?
Master Bhava Mishra explained a procedure called ‘Usha pana’ in Brahmi Muhurta.
‘Usha’ means dawn or the time just before sunrise. ‘Pana’ means to drink. Therefore, ‘Ushapana’ means to drink water early in the morning before sunrise or during Brahmi Muhurta.
Quantity of water for Ushapana
Acharya Bhavamishra explains that the dose of Ushapana is 8 Prasriti or approximately 640 ml. A person who drinks water in this quantity just before sunrise remains free from diseases and aging and lives for more than a hundred years.
The ideal time for Ushapana begins from the 14th Prahara (part) of the night or 14th Muhurta of the night. Acharya Bhoja opines that ‘Paryushita jala’ or water which is stored overnight should be used for the purpose of Ushapana. Ushapana should be done just before sunrise. This practise alleviates Vata, Pitta as well as Kapha disorders, thereby allowing the person to live healthy for a hundred years.
Read related: Benefits Of Drinking Hot Water, Contra Indications
Benefits of Ushapan
When followed on a daily basis , Ushapana relieves –
Arsha – hemorrhoids,
Shotha – swelling,
Grahani – dysentery,
Jwara – fever,
Jatara jara – abdominal disorders,
Kushta – skin diseases,
Medo vikara – disorders related to fat tissue,
Mutraghata – urinary diseases,
Asrapitta – bleeding disorders,
Shravana Gala Shira roga – disorders affecting the ears, throat and head,
Shroni shoola – neck pain and
Akshi roga – eye diseases.
Ushapana also alleviates –
Vata vyadhi – disorders of Vata origin,
Pitta vyadhi – disorders of Pitta origin,
Kaphaja vyadhi – disorders of Kapha origin and
Kshataja vyadhi – diseases caused due to injury.
Other benefits of Ushapana –
- Drinking water as soon as you wake up, before sunrise, can help to flush the toxins out of your body easily.
- It helps to improve body metabolism.
- In those suffering from constipation, it can induce bowel peristalsis and thus relieve constipation.
- Drinking water in the morning reduces calorie intake during breakfast, thus helping in weight management. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6209729/)
- It is also beneficial to keep the body well hydrated. It has positive effects on the brain and can reduce mood fluctuations and fatigue.
- Ushapana also has positive benefits on the immunity and skin health of an individual.
Nasa Jala Pana Nasal drinking of water
Acharya Bhavamishra has explained another procedure called ‘Nasa Jala Pana’, following the explanation of Ushapana.
‘Nasa’ means nose, ‘Jala’means water and ‘Pana’ means to drink. Nasa jalapana is a procedure where water is drunk through the nostrils.
A person who wakes up early in the morning, as soon as the darkness of the night wanes and drinks water through the nostrils, will be very intelligent, with sharp eyesight like an eagle. He does not suffer from wrinkling of the skin or greying of hairs. He remains free from all kinds of diseases.
Quantity of water for Nasa Jala Pana
For Nasa Jala pana, the quantity of water to be used is 3 Prasriti or approximately 240ml.
Read related: Nasya Karma: Procedure, Types, Benefits, Contra Indications
Benefits of Nasal drinking of water
Drinking water through the nostrils towards the end of the night has the following benefits –
It alleviates –
Vyanga – blemishes or freckles on the skin,
Vali – wrinkles
Palita – grey hairs,
Pinasa – rhinitis,
Vaiswarya – hoarseness of voice,
Kasa – cough and
Shotha – swelling.
This procedure has a Rasayana or anti aging effect on the body and helps to improve eyesight.
Contraindications for Drinking water through
Nasa Jalapan Drinking water through the nostrils is contraindicated in the following conditions –
Sneha pita – person who has consumed unctuous substances like oil or ghee,
Kshata – the injured,
Shuddha – who has undergone cleansing Panchakarma therapies,
Adhmana – abdominal bloating,
Stimita udara – absence of intestinal mobility
Hikka – hiccups,
Kapha vyadhi – disorders due to Kapha and
Vata vyadhi – disorders due to Vata.
Should Ushapana be done before tooth brushing or after tooth brushing?
Some people say that the saliva early in the morning is alkaline and it comes with its own health benefits, if one does Ushapana before washing mouth. There is little truth in it. But Ushapana can be done before or after tooth brushing.
Can lemon water be used for Ushapana?
Yes, but the lemon water should be very highly diluted. I would recommend to squeeze 10-20 drops of lemon juice into the mixing quarter a lemon into 640 ml water.
Can honey water be used for Ushapana?
Yes. A tablespoon of honey can be mixed with 640 ml of water and can be used consumed early in the morning. This helps to lose weight and to reduce cholesterol.
Both Ushapana and Nasa Jala Pana are simple procedures with many benefits. These procedures should be practised on a daily basis, during the Brahmi Muhurta, before any other activities. Include this procedure in your daily routine to enjoy its benefits and to lead a long and healthy life.
With Oil Pulling
I am planning to do oil pulling in the morning. If I want to do it, along with Ushapana – drinking water on an empty stomach, which one should be done first?
Dr JV Hebbar
The purpose of oil pulling is to eliminate the vitiated Kapha toxins from the mouth and throw it out. It is also useful to improve the strength of gums and teeth. Because it is an oily procedure, one is expected to follow it up with some hot water therapy. So, it makes sense to do the oil pulling first and then consume lukewarm water on an empty stomach.
Read related: Benefits Of Drinking Hot Water, Contra Indications
The general rule is, wherever oiliness is there, it should be followed up with hotness. We see this example in Acharya Sushruta mentioning that food should be ideally unctuous, hot and moist.
काले सात्म्यं लघु स्निग्धमुष्णं क्षिप्रं द्रवोत्तरम् ||४६५|| Sushruta Samhita, Sutrasthana 46/435
kāle sātmyaṃ laghu snigdhamuṣṇaṃ kṣipraṃ dravottaram ||465||
kāle – food should be had as per time, sātmyaṃ – congenial food should be consumed.
laghu – food should be light
snigdham – food should be unctuous uṣṇaṃ – should be hot
kṣipraṃ – should be consumed without delay (swiftly)
dravottaram – food should be moist, not dry.
If oil pulling and water drinking are done in the morning, the water can be had before or after oil pulling. If you consider drinking water after oil pulling, please make sure that it is lukewarm water.
Ushapana totally legal?
Q. Is Ushapana totally in line with Ayurveda rules?
Dr JV Hebbar
There are arguments on both sides.
Ushapana is the practice of drinking 640 ml of water, early in the morning, on an empty stomach. This is first mentioned in a recent Ayurvedic textbook called Bhavaprakasha. It is explained under the heading of Dinacharya – healthy daily routine. This means that this is a healthy habit that can be followed by all healthy individuals.
The three great treatises – Ashtanga Hrudayam, Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita have not included this procedure as part of a healthy daily routine.
Master Vagbhata has mentioned, in the context of early morning rituals,
ब्राह्मे मुहूर्त उत्तिष्ठेत् स्वस्थो रक्षार्थमायुषः ।
brāhme muhūrta uttiṣṭhet svastho rakṣārthamāyuṣaḥ |
For living a wholesome life, a healthy person should get up from bed at Brahmi Muhurtha. That is, before dawn, or around 1 and 1/2 hours before sunrise (i.e. around 4:30 – 5:30 am).
After this he goes on to explain about shauchakarma – cleaning, toothbrushing etc.
Drinking water early in the morning, as a ritual, when the person is not feeling any thirst, goes against the principle of drinking water only when one is thirsty.
As per Ayurveda, thirst is a natural urge.
Master Vagbhata explains,
Root cause for all diseases:
रोगाः सर्वेऽपि जायन्ते वेगोदीरणधारणैः ।
rogāḥ sarve’pi jāyante vegodīraṇadhāraṇaiḥ | Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutrathana 4/22
The root cause for all diseases is
1. Vega Udeerana – untimely initiation of these natural urges, when the urge is really not there.
For example, going to the washroom when there is no urge to pass urine / feces, eating when there is no hunger, drinking when there is no thirst etc.
2. Vega Dharana – Not attending to natural urges when they arrive. Eg: withholding hunger for a very long period of time, when the person is actually feeling hungry, not drinking water when someone is thirsty etc.
By this logic, it is perfectly fine to drink water early in the morning, if you feel thirsty.
In the context of drinking water, before, in between and after food intake, Ayurveda says, drinking water before food decreases Agni, after food, causes obesity and is ideal to drink water while taking food.
So, if you do Ushapana (drink large quantities of water) in the morning and intend to have breakfast one hour after that, it may cause weakening of digestive fire (Agni).
This could benefit a person with obesity and encourage him to eat less by decreasing hunger.
But for a healthy person, Ushapana does not check all the healthy routine check-boxes.
There are some people who feel constipated without drinking water early in the morning, for them, Ushapana is good to follow.
For obese people, to keep the Agni low, Ushapana can be a tool.
But for people with very low digestive fire, who want to put on weight, who suffer with digestive disorders, Ushapana might not be an ideal choice.