Rasayana, or rejuvenation, is a traditional Ayurvedic therapy that restores the body’s vitality to its fullest capacity. From Sanskrit it translates to Path (āyana) of essence (rasa). Rasa, or juice , is the vital fluid that we extract from the food we eat. It brings nourishment, it carries off toxins and it enhances our immunity; It looks a lot like what modern physiology calls lymph and plasma. So Rasayana is the way to restore and maintain the fluids, the juiciness in our bodies. It restores our health and vitality, and in that way, our youth.
In practice Rasayana is essentially any herb, food or activity that makes you feel energetic and improves: skin condition, sleep quality, memory, concentration, strength, and the capacities of the sense organs – eyes, nose, tongue, ears and sexual organs. Accordingly, Rasayana therapy can be the ongoing practice of following an Ayurvedic lifestyle and/or going on retreat to receive special treatments with oils, herbs and foods. Either way, it is about dedicating time for healing and rejuvenating the body-mind.
Some elements of a rejuvenating lifestyle include:
- Oils to heal and protect tissues. Warm oil applied on the skin dissolves fat soluble toxins, nourishes the tissues and builds immunity. The membranes of all our cells are made of lipids, or fats, so using fats externally (as well as internally) rejuvenates us on a cellular level. Because of its lubricating, warm and heavy nature, oil also balances Vata, the energy of air that pervades everything.
- Herbal therapy to balance the doshas. Deeply penetrating and potent, Ayurvedic herbs support immunity, detoxification and the rejuvenate our organ systems.
- Diet to minimize toxic build-up (ama). Eating foods that keep the digestive fire (agni) strong prevents the accumulation of ama, which according to Ayurveda is the root of all dis-ease.
A few categories of Rasayanas include:
- Age-promoting Rasayanas: Some herbs and diets are believed to be of great help in providing stability to life, vitality, and stamina by helping with body and mind fatigue and by augmenting the power of all the five senses. These rasayanas provide glow to the skin, sweetness to the voice, and virtually tend to enhance the life span of an individual. One such formulation is Chyavanprash Rasayana.
- Eyesight promoting Rasayanas: There are some Ayurveda herbal formulations categorized specifically for the benefit of the proper functioning of the eyes. These not only aid in providing clear vision, but with Amalaki Ramayana for example, they also help when there's diminished vision.
- Disease combating Rasayanas: These rasayanas given to the patients suffering from some particular disease so as to help eradicate the disease from its roots. For example, Pippali Rasayana is for respiratory diseases.
Thousands of years ago these therapies were designed for the kings and queens who wanted to live forever and retain their power. They were given special foods and plant preparations, hot oil and herbal treatments and nourishing and health-building foods to rejuvenate them on a deep cellular level.
Nowadays we can all be kings and queens, by following these few practices, going on a retreat, going a cleanse and by applying Ayurvedic lifestyle principles. Essentially, devoting more time to relax and restore. (Not a bad prescription if you ask me!)