Getting To The Root: Cleansing, Grounding and Centering With Dashamoola and Bala PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Andrea Emmerich, LMT, CAS, CYT   

Seasonal junctures can be vulnerable times, making them opportune for cleansing practices. I In the fall, dispelling excess heat from the summer buildup of the pitta dosha (fire element) and calming the vata dosha (air and ether elements) smoothes this dry, sometimes challenging season. Fall and spring are traditionally good times to practice panchakarma (Ayurvedic cleanses with multiple practices), although panchakarma, under supervision, can be done throughout the year. To complete the cleansing process, a basti (herbal enema) can help eliminate excess vata from its seat in the large intestines, while nourishing both this dosha and this organ. For many people (including myself), a basti can seem intimidating at first. Once I I I experienced its therapeutic effects on my entire system, I believed in its benefits.

Both shodhana (cleansing) and shamana (rejuvenating and balancing) enemas are used in Ayurveda. One cleansing concoction is dashamoola basti. Dashamoola is a collection of ten root herbs; dash means ten in Sanskrit and moola is a root (think mooladhara chakra or moola bandha). By their very nature grounding root herbs address airy vata. Made into an herbal decoction, strained and mixed with sesame oil, this basti has strong cleansing properties without aggravating the fiery pitta dosha.

Dashamoola is also a wonderful preparation for svedana (herbal steam), encouraging the elimination of ama (toxins) through the sweat glands. It strengthens the general weakness found in situations of excess vata, can soothe abdominal and lower back pain and spasms, support liver decongestion and kindle agni (digestive fire).

Nourishing bastis entirely based in oil preparations follow cleansing treatments. My favorite anuvasana (nourishing) basti herb is bala (Sida cordafolia), which balances all three doshas, with its strongest effect on vata. Bala is a reproductive tissue rasayana (rejuvenative), builds strength and stamina and rejuvenates the nervous, circulatory and urinary systems. It is bitter, balancing pitta; diuretic, balancing kapha. In thousands of years of Ayurvedic use, bala is referred to as “divine medicine.”

Caution: The USFDA (Food and Drug Administration) states that bala (Sida cordifolia) is on a list of plants including ephedra, that are to be ingested by mouth. Bala contains alkaloid ephedrine, which taken internally treats asthma, aching joints, colds and coughs, which also explains its use as a cardiac stimulant. In my humble opinion, bala is safer than most pharmaceuticals, however in this country; I don’t recommend its use. It has a long history of internal use in Ayurvedic medicine and is still used in herbal oil preparations that take advantage of its balancing and rejuvenating policies.

To read more about Ayurvedic bastis, learn more about the ten root herbs found in dashamoola and enter your name in a chance to win a bottle of ashwagandha bala oil from Banyan Botanicals, read this article in this month’s issue at: layogamagazine.com.

Andrea Emmerich is a licensed massage therapist, Yoga teacher and graduate of the California College of Ayurveda who practices Ayurveda in Hollywood, California: andreaemmerich.com.

 
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