By Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa
No need to list the symptoms of stress; we all know them. While stress accounts for a good share of medical office visits today, it has been with us since the beginning of human life. Only the stressors have changed.
For today’s professional woman, a bad day at work probably wouldn’t include an attack from a wild animal, but it just might include an attack from a wild boss. And your primitive body still responds to threats with the well-known “fight or flight” stress hormones. While the acute stress emergency is over quickly, and a woman’s body returns to normal physiology, a chronically stressful environment is a different story. Along with the body’s powerful stress hormones come elevated cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes.
In a recent study, researchers monitored interpersonal work stress in 109 women with and without arthritis. The result? Just what you’d expect. Workplace stress made arthritis worse.
The solution for women? Living a yogic lifestyle. Daily yoga and meditation goes without saying. But, beyond the basics, Yogi Bhajan gave us a treasure chest of practices to keep women on an even keel. Kundalini Yoga comes from the Tantric tradition, which concentrates on developing the female side of our energies, and he taught endlessly about lifestyle habits to keep women strong and healthy.
It’s important for women to keep their tissues lubricated, so a daily dose of good quality oil is key. Yogi Bhajan taught about having a delicious vegetable soup, with a dollop of high quality oil, such as sesame, for breakfast. To maximize shakti power, women need to stay well rested, so regular rejuvenative sleep routines are a must. Using mild warming digestive spices, like those in Yogi Tea, helps a woman assimilate nutrients, keeping her strong and confident.
Two Outstanding Herbs for Shakti Power
You might think of aloe as a remedy for sunburn, but Ayurveda takes a different tack. Called “kumari” (maiden), this herb is said to restore the energy of youth and to renew the female nature. It is a major builder and balancer for the female reproductive system, and it also nourishes the liver, spleen, and blood. The benefits of aloe have been known to many great civilizations. One of its earliest advocates was the Greek physician, Dioscorides.
Anyone can take aloe, as it balances all the five tattvas, but it is a wealth of health for women. Since it is sweet, bitter, and cooling, it especially benefits women with high fire tattva and it combines well with cooling, healing shatavari root.
Three distinct preparations are made from different parts of the plant. The sap and the skin each have their own uses, but the inner gel is the famous remedy for women’s health. That inner leaf gel is anti-inflammatory and soothing, while it also lowers cholesterol and heals inner tissues. A cooling medicine, its soothing nature coats the digestive tract, so it is used to treat ulcers and gastritis.
British herbalist Rowan Hamilton commends the clear, mucilaginous gel collected from the fleshy part of the leaf, taken internally, for its antioxidant, immune stimulant, anti-cancer, and anti-viral effects. Acemannan, obtained from the gel, is renowned for supporting immune functions.
Ayurveda particularly values this gel as a general detoxifier. Aloe helps clear the toxins out of the digestive system, facilitating digestion, and the cooling nature of the gel reduces acidity. Kumari purifies the liver, so it is helpful for the skin when taken internally.
Consume 1-2 teaspoons of fresh gel daily for young and healthy skin. Many women do well with several ounces of gel per day for acute needs, such as heartburn. Aloe is the basis for the famous digestive tonic, Kumariasava, which Yogi Bhajan often mentioned to me. This medicine is used for anemia, liver inflammation, asthma, and constipation, in a dose of one to two ounces per day.
Also known as nutgrass, Musta Root is a common perennial weed with health-giving underground tubers. It is used across a wide swath of the globe, from southern Europe, across the Arabian peninsula to China. Today, it grows all over India. Rich in minerals, musta is a general tonic for women’s issues. It appears in many female hormone regulating and balancing formulas. Musta tubers balance second chakra concerns, and so promote healthy perspiration and urination and normalize menstruation. With an astringent quality, musta is also used for ulcers and sores. Back to Dioscorides, who also advocated musta, we know that he recommended it as a diuretic and for use in warm plasters for sores. Since it lowers blood pressure, it’s also found in cardiovascular formulas.
Musta’s fragrant qualities make it suitable as a perfume ingredient. Talk about a powerhouse for women! To pump up shakti power, take musta at 1 gram per day, as powder, for a year as a long term female balancing treatment.
Women are the embodiment of the energy and potency of shakti, the primal power, and they need all the help they can get to live up to the responsibility. With a yogic handbook of techniques honed over thousands of years to help the powerful woman live a life of grace and prosperity, she can truly excel and be a light to the world.
Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, Yogaraj, DN-C, RH, is the president of the American Herbalists Guild. He mentored in Ayurveda with Yogi Bhajan for 32 years. The Healing Cures of Yogi Bhajan is his homage to Yogi Bhajan and the wealth of information he had the blessing to learn from his master. Karta Purkh has presented over 150 times at professional conferences, has written over 3,000 articles on health topics and is the author or editor of 30 books on health, including his latest, The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs. He is curriculum director and lead instructor in the Portland Community College Nutritional Therapy Program and heads the herbal education department of the Northwest Institute of Ayurveda. He lives in the Northwest with his wife and daughter. [email protected]