Importance of Vihar (Lifestyle) in Ayurveda
Importance of Vihar (Lifestyle) in Ayurveda
Lifestyle (or Vihar) is a cumulative product of your natural physical capacity at co-ordination with its mental functioning; consisting of habits, behaviour, everyday diet and living pattern, family history and the environment in which you grow.[i]
The modern world is currently facing an epidemic of lifestyle related diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart diseases, etc., which primarily result from stress, improper diet and irregular or sedentary lifestyle (lack of discipline and physical activity).1 Ayurveda believes that in order to achieve and maintain healthful living (Arogya), it is essential to practice a healthy Vihar. These practices are Rasayana, beneficial for longevity and quality life. Due to this, certain healthy practices to gain a Swasthvritti or a healthy lifestyle are recommended by Ayurveda.[ii],[iii] Some of these prominent practices are discussed below.
Dinacharya (Daily regimen)
Dinacharya means healthy and sustainable pattern of lifestyle obeying the biological cycles of nature. To achieve this, Ayurveda prescribes a specific routine in general, also taking into consideration the Prakriti or constitution of every individual. Dinacharya practises include waking up early in the morning, elimination of our bodily wastes, maintaining oral hygiene (cleaning teeth and tongue, gargling etc.), exercising regularly, body massage, bathing, clothing, eye care, nasal care, etc.3
Rutucharya (Seasonal regimen)
According to Ayurveda, the three doshas and the rutu (seasons) are interlinked. Health is affected by the nature and climate of outer environment which influences our body. For example, when the air is damp, cold and wet, it increases these qualities in the body leading to aggravation of kapha. This gives rise to cold and cough during winter. Thus, you need to change their diet and lifestyle practices in response to climatic or seasonal changes in heat, cold or rain.3,[iv] Biopurificatory measures or panchakarma therapies like therapeutic emesis, purgation and enemas according to seasons can also be practiced.
Lack of a deep, restful sleep is an indication of stress and unhealthy living. Ayurveda believes that getting an 8-hour sleep should be less important than getting quality sleep, which is possible only when the mind completely dissociates itself from the senses. Quality sleep recharges and nourishes the mind, replenishes the Dhatus of the wear and tear and improves both short and long term mental powers. Therefore, a regular pattern of quality sleep should be maintained.4
Sadvritta (Code of Conduct)
Good behaviour is considered as Sadvritta. Ayurveda describes the codes of social and moral conduct under the aegis of Achara rasayana. For maintaining healthy sense organs and the mind, you should follow certain codes of conduct such as being honest & truthful, having morals, avoiding being greedy, and avoiding hatred and jealousy. Also maintaining general hygiene, diet, sexual life and exercise can prevent lifestyle disorders.3,4
Yoga & Dhyana (Meditation)
‘Yoga’ in Sanskrit means ‘union’. It means the act of combining the physical self with the mind through exercise. Yoga stimulates your concentration & can help eliminate toxins of the psyche. It is also known to produce harmony between the body and nature through the three basic aspects of human health; the mind, the body and spiritual. This helps to improve immunity and builds resistance against diseases.4
Yoga contains several forms of exercises such as the Yama, Niyama, Asana (yogic postures), Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. While pranayama controls the breathing process & maintains a balance of the body with nature, Dhyana is pure meditation to keep the mind at peace. Yoga has been found to enhance the efficiency of the heart, help curing the body from stress, strains, blood pressure, digestive problems and other lifestyle disorders.4, 5
Ayurvedic ahar and vihar, if practised daily, can produce excellent results in the prevention or cure of diseases. It can help manage stress in daily life and reduce the use of modern medicine and their side effects that give rise to untoward complications.4
- SINGH S. YOGA: AN ANSWER TO LIFESTYLE DISORDERS. International Journal of Applied and Natural Sciences (IJANS) ISSN(P), Vol. 5, Issue 2, Feb Mar 2016; 27-34.
- Bhavanani YD. YOGIC CONCEPTS OF HEALTH AND DISEASE. [Cited 2016 September 16]. Available at: http://www.icyer.com/documents/yogic%20concepts%20of%20health%20and%20disease.pdf
- Ayurveda – The Science of Life. CCRAS. New Delhi. 2012.
- Vamanrao PU & Saley SR. The Role of Ayurveda in Mental Health. UJAHM 2014, 02 (02): Page 19-25.
- Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2008 Apr-Jun;52(2):123-31. Effect of yoga based lifestyle intervention on subjective well-being. Sharma R1, Gupta N, Bijlani RL.