Aapo Hi-Shtta Mayo-Bhuvastha na Urje Dhadhatana|
Mahe Rannatha Chakshase||1||
Your presence (Apas) refreshes the atmosphere, providing us with the necessary strength and invigoration. We worship you who delights us by your pure radiance. This is a hymn from Apas Suktam Chapter 10.9 of the Rig Veda.
The same chapter talks about the medicinal potency contained in water thus:
Apsu Me Somo Abravid Antar Vishwani Bheshajaa
Agni cha Vishwashambhuvam||6||
Soma tells that Apas or water contains all the medicinal herbs needed for curing the world. Also present in water is the element of fire that is needed for the welfare and happiness of the world.
Above are the two of the many shlokas that we come across in reference to the life-giving water. Water is praised in many ways throughout our Vedas and Puranas. This talks about the remarkable power of water. How can we utilize the power of water to improve our health?
In various cultures, fasting is considered a way in which you can be in sync with the divine. There are various ways to doing it, be it spiritual or for health reasons. Intermittent fasting is a modern name given to a lifestyle where we take in the energy or prana needed (in the form of food) within a period ranging from 2 hours to 8 hours and let your body sustain purely on Water for the rest of the time. In other words, fasting anywhere between 22 to 16 hours.
Let us embark on combining the ancient wisdom from our scriptures and modern science into one while understanding this concept in detail.
Typically, everyone fasts when they asleep. That is the reason why we break our fast with “breakfast” in the morning. But the period where we fast, lasts as much as we sleep mostly ranging anywhere between 8-12 hours. This is not enough for the body to go through a process of cleansing itself. Intermittent fasting or fasting for a period ranging from 16 hours or 20 hours and feasting (or eating) for only 8 or 4 hours in this case frees up the body from the time needed to digest food, so it can then focus on repairing itself. In fact, as recent as 2016 Yoshinori Ohsumi got the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy. Autophagy is a phenomenon where our body recycles/repairs the cells and makes them healthier. It also induces growth hormones thus reversing aging and reducing cellulite, wrinkles etc.
From the experiences of people who have tried intermittent fasting, the main advantages have been an improvement in overall health. Basically, hormonal balance improves, gut health improves, visceral fat decreases, Blood pressure and sugar levels return close to normal apart from another side effect that is widely sought after. Yes, we are referring to weight loss! This weight loss is very special since this is not the loss in muscle which is usually the case when you go on fad diets, rather this is pure fat loss. The body needs about 5-6 hours to digest a meal. If we keep eating throughout the day the body does not have the time to get into the mode of Autophagy. But in intermittent fasting we let the body heal itself by providing it a break from digestion, so it takes a dip into the fat store converting these cells into energy to sustain the body during the period while we fast. This is called the “Ketosis” stage.
Who would be the best fit for this type of fasting?
Let us look at this from the eye of Ayurveda. As per Ayurveda our bodies are typically made of three types of life energies namely tridoshas that are Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Vata is the principle of movement and is connected to the air element. Pitta is the principle of light or heat and is connected to the fire element or the Sun. The last one is the Kapha humor that is related to the principle of water element related to the Moon and preservation in general.
We are all born with an inherent prakriti where one or more of the three are prominent. Over time, the body constitution changes due to various factors and this leads to vikrati which is the major cause of any disease of health condition where the natural balance of the body is impaired. Ayurveda tries to balance the doshas and tries to reset the doshas as per our prakriti.
Of the tridoshas those with higher “Kapha” constitution tend to put on weight typically. They also are the ones with higher longevity since Kapha maintains longevity at a cellular level. They tend to be highly emotional individuals with a loving and nurturing nature. From an astrological point of view the Kapha humor is attributed to three key planets i.e. Venus, Moon and Jupiter. So, if you have these planets placed prominently in your birth chart or if they are in watery signs then the chances of weight gain are but natural. The good news is that Kapha people would find it easier to fast since they would have fat stores for the body to sustain the fasting period without feeling weak. Thus, making it easier to lose the weight and utilize the positive aspects of the Kapha humor that are love, trust, endurance, sensitivity etc.
As per Ayurveda, both the day and night are divided into three parts each lasting for about 4 hours as per the three humors.
Each 4-hour component is governed by Kapha, Pitta and Vata accordingly. Early morning between 6 to 10 AM is governed by Kapha. Kapha period is just building on energy and is fresh but a little slow in nature; our body too is just trying to get up and prepare for the day. Hence any activity that is extremely high on energy or any food that is heavy on the system should typically be avoided. Having a small portion of fruits or anything that is light would be ideal. Those with Pitta and Vata should ideally have their breakfast by 7 AM to 8 AM. During this period, those who have Kapha constitution should ideally not have food but wait for the Pitta to start operating which is after 10 AM.
From 10 AM to 2 PM is when the Pitta element operates and this is the time when the Sun is high in the sky, so is our metabolism. As per Ayurveda jataragni or the agni residing in our belly is at its peak during this time. Which means that this is good time to have the biggest meal of the day, lunch. Ayurveda believes that lunch should be the heaviest meal of the day unlike breakfast. Pitta is governed by the Sun and those with Pitta constitution or those with a prominent Sun in their chart, do not usually tend to put on weight since they have a good metabolic rate. Ideally for those who have a low metabolic rate, high on Kapha this is the best time to enjoy a sumptuous meal.
Between 2PM and 6 PM is when Vata is highly active and this airy energy is good for something light both food and activity wise. From 6PM to 10 PM the Kapha is active once again and this is the best time to prepare to go to bed since this is a slow and sluggish period, which is best for unwinding. After this the Pitta element again operates between 10PM and 2 AM accordingly. This is the reason why if we stay awake late we tend to feel hungry and start reaching out for some munchies.
For those who have Moon, Venus and Jupiter as the prominent planets in your chart or if these planets are in watery signs, those who tend to put on weight, those who have Kapha dosha characterized by colds, allergies etc. maintaining a decorum around the food intake, maintaining a time within which you consume food ideally between 10AM and 6PM would be highly beneficial for maintaining health. Ensuring you hydrate yourself all throughout will help ensuring you do not lose fluids. Preferably drinking lukewarm water throughout the day. Water the beneficial healer would help you in your path towards health.
Sarve jana sukhino bhavantu||
Note: The views provided in this article are the author’s own and you would need to talk to a medical practitioner before you start fasting. Also, if you want to know about your Dosha please contact a certified Ayurvedic Doctor. For any other astrological consultation you may contact us.
- Ayurveda – The Science of Self-Healing – Dr. Vasant Lad
- Ayurvedic Astrology – Self healing through the stars – Dr. David Frawley
- https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2016/press.html (Press Release 2016-10-03)
- Intermittent Fasting related internet sources
- Rig Veda – 10.9- Apas Suktam