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Yoga & Ayurveda ( The Importance of Fasting )

Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2008, 11:53 [IST]

The Vedanta Kesari, p. 381-385, October 2005, Ramakrishna Mission

A few words about fasting. No fasting is required for a person whose constitution of vata-pitta-kapha is well balanced. However, fasting has its own purpose. It eliminates unnecessary toxins in the body, thus purifying the body, mind and soul. In fasting the body becomes light, mind becomes soft, which will further strengthen the spiritual life. Once in a week a mild fasting may be undertaken which would make us realise the importance of food, as well as the imperativeness of light body, which is essential for spiritual sadhana.

Before fasting due consideration should be given to the individual constitution. A person of vata constitution should not observe fasting for more than three days. A fast for more than four days will aggravate pitta. Persons with kapha constitution can observe prolonged fasts. They will feel a pleasant sensation, greater awareness and an opening of consciousness. Clarity and understanding will improve. During fasting, persons with vata constitution are advised to take grape juice, for persons with pitta constitution pomegranate juice is recommended, and for persons with kapha constitution, apple juice should be taken.

What happens during fasting is that the digestive system comes to a rest. Which means the digestive fire (agni) becomes active and since there is no food to digest, it slowly burns away the long-existing toxins in the intestines. Àyurveda also tells us that during fasting we can take decoctions made of ginger, black pepper, a little jaggery and curry, which may naturalize toxins in the body. And fasting is a must during fever, cold, constipation or arthritic pain. For a normal healthy person, a warm water fast (one to two quarter per day) is advisable at least once in a week. This tones up the digestive system.

Conclusion
Ultimately, Yoga and Àyurveda, if followed sincerely in our life, will prepare us for higher spiritual life. Whatever the ultimate goal of these two ancient sister sciences may be, it should be noted that a moderate, regulated, systematic, harmonious and rhythmical life is necessary for leading a happy life on this planet. Unfortunately, in the fast changing world of life styles, these two ancient sciences have been neglected in our country, which is the bedrock of the world"s greatest culture and civilization.

Conversely, it is gaining momen-tum in the West. What is most disheartening and saddening to note is that the original standards and purity of these two ancient sciences have been highly diluted and neutralised by a few people with half knowledge to suit their selfish ends. The real spirit of these ancient sciences has been slowly eroded by ultramodern techniques which, unfortunately, have been identified with the great tradition. The time has come for us to unearth the treasures of these two great ancient sciences and the true spirit hidden therein, given by Indian sages to humanity and adopt them in life.

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