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Basics of Ayurveda

In this section, Dr. Mary Jo Cravatta of Shaktiveda has written a series of Articles designed to assist you in gaining a deeper understanding of Ayurveda.

Be sure to check back frequently, as new Articles will be posted on a regular basis.

Experience the Joy that can be experienced by the Shaktiveda Ayurveda approach to health and well being in our Berkeley, CA or Grass Valley offices. If you are not in Northern California, you may have your consultation by either phone or by Skype.

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Root Chakra and Ayurveda

Balancing the Root Chakra

by Dr. Mary Jo Cravatta

The Root Chakra is the first of the body”s Energy Centers. It is located in the perineal area – you are sitting on your Root Chakra. It creates your foundation, your sense of wholeness and well being.

The Root Chakra is related to the Earth Element. There are 5 Elements: Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. The Root Chakra, or the Earth Element, is the stabilizing factor that allows the other Elements / Chakras to unfold in a balanced manner. If the Root Chakra is out of balance, then it will affect your ability to effectively clear and work on the other Chakras.

If we look with an Ayurvedic perspective, one of the reasons for this is that the Root Chakra is closely associated with Prana Vata – the upward moving Vata that is mostly in the brain, head, nervous system, and governs the electrical system of the heart. But Prana Vata is also located throughout your entire body – affecting the proper movement of “information” in the nervous system, vascular system, endocrine system, the 5 senses, and every cell in the body.

If Prana Vata is disturbed, someone may begin to feel out of sorts, tired, lack of focus, and generally ungrounded.

If this continues on, it may lead to actual symptoms of one or more of the following: Anxiety, Depression, Addictions, Headache, Blood Pressure abnormalities, Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, Asthma, Chronic Fatigue, Arrhythmia, Immune System problems, teeth grinding – and so much more.

The Root Chakra is also closely associated with Apana Vata – the downward moving Vata that is in the abdominal area. It is responsible for elimination of toxins, feces, menstrual blood, and urine.

Many times, the Root Chakra may play a role in digestive complaints such as: constipation, gas, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel, or colon cancer. But it could also be low back pain, menstrual cramps, prostate problems, or cold feet.

Those of you who have had consultations with me know that there is a level in your pulse that indicates what Chakra you are working on for your Life Lesson. But even if you are not actually working on the Root Chakra as your “Main” Chakra , if you have a Prana Vata imbalance or an Apana Vata imbalance, slots online this will indicate that the Root Chakra needs attention.

The Root Chakra becomes disturbed by keeping an irregular daily routine, going to bed late, not effectivvely dealing with your stress, multi tasking and doing two things at once, flying in an airplane, changing time zones, taking stimulants (including caffeine and nicotine), watching television, physical / emotional traumas, and excessive talking. Many western medicine “mind” drugs will also adversely affect Prana Vata (eventhough you may take them DUE to a Prana Vata imbalance).

The Kundalini that resides in the Root Chakra carries the soul information from lifetime to lifetime. For those who are actively working on their spiritual progress, it makes it even all the more necessary to live life in a manner that will assist in grounding the Root Chakra.

How do we bring a sense of wholeness and well being to the Root Chakra?

  • First of all, it is very important to follow the Ayurvedic Daily Routine – please refer to the Shaktiveda”s Daily Routine articlefor more information.
  • Avoid foods that are Vata aggravating such as: cold, dry foods – crackers, popcorn, toast, chips, iced drinks, large salads, ice cream, and excessive pungent, bitter, & astringent tastes in general.
  • Be sure to have plenty of time in your day for relaxation – especially meditation, yoga, and pranayama. Taking soothing, quiet walks in nature.
  • The Shaktiveda Herbal Formula Calm Within is specifically designed to balance the Root Chakra and Prana Vata. For more information on this Herbal Formula Calm Within, visit Shaktiveda”s Ayurvedic Product Page
  • Have regular Pancha Karma. If you are not able to have Pancha Karma at each change of season, then be sure to have 1 week of Pancha Karma at least once per year.  This can be an at home Cleansing.  Shaktiveda Herbal has many products to assist in cleansing.  The most recent addition is our Detox Veda Line of Products.  Designed for Internal and External Cleansing.  For more information, please email or call. Dr. Mary Jo Cravatta Grass Valley, CA 95945 – 530-273-8716
Ayurvedic Herbal Products – Ayurvedic Consultations – Ayurvedic Cleansing Programs – Shaktiveda Yoga (Workshops, Yoga Classes, Yoga DVDs)

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Insomnia and Fatigue

Fatigue & Difficulty Sleeping

by Dr. Mary Jo Cravatta

Feeling fatigued during the day and having difficulty sleeping is usually from an imbalanced Vata dosha (the subdosha of Prana Vata which is in the head and brain). Vata Dosha governs the nervous system and the NS is affected by the stress in our lives. It is important for you to recognize what are the main stressers in your life, then take the necessary steps to correct the situation. So often in our everyday hectic lives, we do not take the time to have moments of peace and calmness.

Vata Dosha is aggravated by irregular schedules, fitting too much into the day, trying to do three things at once, and by not focusing on whatever we are doing at the moment. After years of having this erratic schedule, the vata dosha accumulates and then becomes some type of symptom such as fatigue or insomnia.

You will need to take a deep look at your daily routine. Remember that old saying “early to bed makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”? Well, it must have come from an ayurvedic practioner. It is important to be in bed by 10 pm. The hours of sleep between 10pm and midnight are worth twice as much as the hours afterwards. If we go to bed too much after 10pm, then pitta becomes energized and we get our second wind. It will make it much more difficult to fall asleep.

Kapha time is 6pm until 10pm, and it is a natural slowing down time for us to get ready to go to bed. But all to often we are very busy during those hours or we are having a big dinner and not taking advantage of this calming time of the evening.

You may want to assist in balancing your Vata Dosha with taking ayurvedic herbs. You may try them in combination with doing a calming Pranayama (breathing technique) called Alternate Nostril Breathing. Taking the herbs and doing the breathing technique in the evening will help you in releasing your stress from the day and therefore getting a better nights sleep.

Shaktiveda Herbal - Calm Within

The Shaktiveda Herbal Product Calm Within is Designed to release stress from the nervous system, quiet a busy mind, and relieve bodily tension – this Shakti Infused formula is perfect to unwind and relax. You will notice within a few days that you are better able to respond to your busy day with a sense of stability and calmness. This formula is a combination of a variety of Ayurvedic herbs that synergistically work together to have a profound effect on your mind and nervous system. This in turn will allow you to feel calmer during the day and have a deeper nights sleep. You may take 1/2 tsp in warm water 1 or 2 times per day. Most prefer to also take it at bedtime for a deeper sleep. It is very delicious to drink as a hot tea. You may also wish to try it with adding a sweetener and some milk (cow, soy, rice, almond) and to have this as a Chai type of beverage. You may purchase Calm Within by going to Shaktiveda’s Shopping Cart

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Ayurvedic Daily Routine

Ayurvedic Daily Routine

Vata – 2am to 6pm and 2pm to 6pm

    Pitta – 10am to 2pm and 10pm to 2am

       Kapha – 6am to 10am and 6pm to 10pm

  • 6am to 7am Wake up without an alarm (if possible) Upon arising – Oil Pull then drink a cup of hot water Do the abhyanga – daily sesame oil massage, then bathe
  • 7am to 8am Take your Shaktiveda Herbs Yoga asanas, pranayama, and mantra meditation
  • 8am to 8:30am A nurishing breakfast – ideally, a warm, cooked cereal Be sure to have a complementary protein
  • 8:30am to 9:30am Exercise – walking is the most ideal, ayurvedic exercise
  • 12 to 1pm Lunch should be the largest meal of the day Attention to: grains, beans, and greens Your main protein source should be at lunch Remember to have all 6 tastes
  • 5pm to 6pm Yoga asanas, pranayama, and mantra meditation Take soothing herbs before your practice
  • 6pm to 7pm A nourishing, but light dinner Steamed greens, rice, or kitchari is easy to digest Or cooked cereal grains with some nut butter
  • 7pm to 9:30pm Have a relaxing evening to settle down before going to bed Listen to soothing music, take a bath, or do some stretching
  • 9:30pm to 10:30pm Early to bed, early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise ! Remember to take your evening herbs

Shaktiveda Yoga (Workshops, Yoga Classes, Yoga DVDs)

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Introduction to Ayurveda


by Dr. Mary Jo Cravatta

As we progress further and further into the Modern Era, many of us find ourselves looking back into the Wisdom of the Ages for answers to our deepest questions. Self inquiry leads us to ask “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” Not satisfied with a fragmented approach to life, many are attracted to the inclusive views of Ayurveda which acknowledge the individual as body, mind, emotions and spirit.

This natural system of healing was first shared as an oral tradition approximately 5,000 years ago. The name Ayurveda is derived from two Sanskrit words: ayus meaning life and veda meaning knowledge. The wisdom of the vedic sages is at the foundation of this Science of Life. It is said that the principles of Ayurveda were first cognized by the Himalayan Rishis in deep meditation. They were set down as guidelines to live a conscious, healthy life to prepare one for the journey towards a more and more refined existence. It is based on a comprehensive view of the vast Laws of Nature and the energectics of the world around us. The reliability of the knowledge has been substantiated by the generations that have benefited from its use.

It is built upon the understanding of the five elemental theory (space, air, fire, water, and earth) and from this the three doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha). These five elements are symbolic of basic concepts of the laws of nature. The element air denotes the movement concept in the universe. Fire is energy. Water is cohesion and fluidity. Earth is structure and solidity. Space is a type of potential space which allows the other elements to unfold out of Consciousness or Samhita (wholeness value). When these elements combine they create three governing principles, or doshas, which must be kept in proper balance in order for us to remain healthy. Vata dosha, composed of space and air, governs movement , circulation, the nervous system and elimination within our bodies. Pitta, from fire and water, governs digestion and metabolism. Kapha, from water and earth, governs structure, tissues and biological strength.


These three doshas combine in differing proportions to make up an individualʼs constitutional, psychophysiological body type. This includes all factors– physically, mentally and emotionally– that express an individualʼs uniqueness. The diversity within the human race is taken into account with the notion of body type. This is why we all respond differently to diet, exercise, lifestyle and the changing world around us. Even within families we see a wide variety of likes and dislikes, food preferences, hair color, skin type, emotions, endurance and perspectives of our everyday life.

The differing proportions of these three doshas account for these individual differences. Perhaps your spouse falls asleep deeply while you may be awakened by subtle noises. Or you may be bothered by hot, spicy foods but your brother can comfortably eat large quantities of chile peppers. Your mother may very easily gain weight, yet her sister has always been able to eat whatever she pleases and stay thin.
There are ten basic body types that are determined by a wide range of mental, physical and behavioral characteristics. Of course, there are many variations of these body types which account for the vast array of qualities in individuals, but certain distinguishable aspects pertain to each main doshic body type. While everyone has all three doshas, the relative dominance varies. This gives rise to ten basic types of bodies. Some of us have constitutions mainly dominated by one of the three doshas–vata, pitta or kapha. Others have a mixture of two–vata pitta or pitta vata, vata kapha or kapha vata, pitta kapha or kapha pitta which is called bidoshic. Finally some people have all three in nearly equal proportions or tridoshic. Each of the ten types has specific mental and physical characteristics.
Another word for the psychophysiological constitutional body type is a Sanskrit word called Prakriti. Prakriti means nature, and it means our inner nature. When we understand who we really are, it is like having a road map. It tells us exactly where weʼre going and where weʼve been in our lives. In planning an extensive trip, road maps are always consulted to help guide the way. The same is true once you understand what your Prakriti or body type is. This gives us an understanding of exactly what we need to lead a balanced life.

There is another Sanskrit word Vikriti, and this means non-nature, or it means the imbalance within us. In other words, it is a cloak which we have acquired that conceals our true nature. If we have not been following that true road map of who we really are, perhaps we have become imbalanced. Then we have this Vikriti, or non-balance within us. In order to become balanced, we need to address the reasons we had strayed from our true nature or Prakriti.


The foundation in understanding the three doshas and the body types is in knowing the qualities of each particular dosha. Vata dosha, which is a combination of the elements space and air, is moving, quick, light, cold, rough, dry, irregular, and unstable. It arrives at its qualities because it is a combination of space and air. It is not necessary to memorize all of the qualities of each dosha. A key in the understanding will be in remembering the concepts which embody each element that comprise the dosha. Since vata dosha is a combination of space and air, if we think of movement the other qualities will follow. Pretend that you are standing on a very windy hill. There will be quickness in the environment. It is light. It can be very irregular. The wind can come and pick up a leaf or it can throw dirt in your face, and as you can see if you stand out in the wind long enough, youʼll become very dry and cold. Knowing that itʼs made up of those two elements (space & air) allows you to understand the qualities of vata dosha.

Pitta dosha is a combination of mostly fire with a little bit of water, the qualities of pitta dosha are hot, sharp, light, acidic, moist, and slightly oily. Remembering that Pitta dosha is composed of mostly fire will help you to recall the main qualities. Picture yourself in Florida on a very hot, humid day.
Kapha dosha is a combination of the elements of water and earth. Its qualities are heavy, oily, slow, cold, steady, sweet, sticky, and soft. Envision a cold, wet, rainy, muddy day in the spring time. This will help you to know kapha dosha.

Kapha dosha is the exact opposite of vata dosha, except they are both cold. Therefore, if you remember vata dosha, itʼs very easy to remember kapha dosha. Vata is very quick, that means that kapha is slow, and vata is dry, then kapha is moist and oily. If we remember the very basic qualities of vata dosha, itʼs almost as if we have all the rest of the doshas at our fingertips. It makes it very easy to remember the qualities.

Everything may be categorized according to its proportion of the Doshas. This would include: seasons of the year, times of the day, emotions, dreams, food, animals, colors, textures, sounds, aromas, herbs – if it exists, it can be determined if it is vata, pitta, or kapha.

Viewing the world in an Ayurvedic perspective, you may use this information to assist you in living a healthier and more fulfilling life. Once you know what your Prakriti (Body type) is and where you are not balanced (Vikriti) then you can plan a routine that works for you. And you do not have to jump head first into it. One may choose to incorporate as much or as little of the ayurvedic principles into their day as is comfortable. After all, the word does mean “Knowledge of Life” — itʼs all about you.

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