Ushapaan is a very interesting concept. Water, when consumed, does not stimulate the digestive process and most of the time it is not digested, it is only detoxified. Most of the detoxification happens in the liver after water absorption. Therefore, when we drink an extra amount of water (for example – more than 1 lit at a time), this water rapidly gushes through the intestines like a flush, without being held-up for digestion.
Intestine is like a carpet with the fine brush like structures called villi. villi help to increase the surface area of the intestine. Villi are made from small folds in the intestine. In this way, intestine acts as stretchable jeans that where villi provide the required stretch whenever we overstuff over stomach with food. But the problem occurs when food is stuck in the middle of these villi. Let us take the example of the concealed drainage pipes in the plumbing system of a building. They never get cleaned and one can imagine the level of cleanliness that can be found in them!
Normally, continuous splashes of mucus try to maintain the cleanliness of the intestines. But with the current dietary habits of haphazard eating, it becomes extremely difficult for the body to maintain the desired level of internal hygiene. And this decay of food particles trapped in the intestines contribute to the toxins in the body, mentioned in Ayurveda as “ama”.
Water is the best purifier that cleans an object (fire is the ultimate purifier, which eliminates the object and reduces it to the basic structure, fit for reconstruction). We can use water to clean our intestines just the way we use to clean our kitchen sink. When we drink a large amount of water, it rushes through the intestines. This force of water helps to clean the food stuck and decaying in the intestinal folds. So, the first point is to drink a huge and comfortable amount of water in order to ensure a cleaning effect on the intestines.
Now, there is a lot of information around water cleansing and its method. Many people suggest that one should stand and drink water as the gravitational pull helps the water to move with greater momentum inside the Intestines and clears away the wanted material. However, Ayurveda strongly recommends that one should always drink or eat anything only in a sitting position. The hypothesis behind this suggests that when water enters the Intestines while the person is in standing position, the rapid gush of water or food can damage the soft internal lining or remove the protective mucosal layer in the Intestines. Besides, in the long term, it can result in many disorders like an abdominal pouch, hernia, etc. Therefore it is important to drink water in a sitting position only.
Another important factor is the temperature of the water. But the temperature is a factor of the time of water consumption. On a sunny day, one can drink normal water. However, it is always advisable to drink Luke warm water, something compatible with the internal temperature of the body. Chilled water is an absolute no-no for water detox. Lukewarm water helps to dissolve excess mucus and remove the food stuck in it.
Time of the water detox is the most important of all factors. The temperature, amount and the effect of water are entirely dependent on the time of consumption. Here we finally the concept of Ushapaan dawns on us. The term “Usha” means Dawn or the time of sunrise. The term “paan” means to drink. This Usha or dawn is the best time for water detox. The time before Ushakaal is said to be “Brahma muhurta”. The term “Brahma” refers to the creator. This is the time when all the dosha in the body is normally balanced. The slate of body’s metabolism is clean. According to Ayurveda, this is the best time to induce any changes, take medicines, meditate, etc. The water detox should be done before or just at the time of dawn. This water is better able to clean as there is no digestive process going on in the Intestines early in the morning. Ideally, ushakaal is 4–6 am in the morning. And this is the time for Ushapaan.
Besides, the best benefit is that Ushapaan ensures that intestines are clean early morning, ready to take new food challenge for the day. The new food does not mingle with the old decaying food particles. Ushapaan also ensures good quality hunger. Good hunger is the indication of a healthy metabolism.
Besides, Ushapaan with normal or cool water during the dawn stimulates the nerve endings in the intestines. This stimulation reaches the brain and it helps in an early adjustment of temperature, before the sunrise. Waking up in Brahmamuhurat also has a similar effect.
After sunrise, temperature regulation depends more on the water absorbed from the intestines. This process can dry and harden the fecal matter and cause constipation. Ushapaan also hydrates the body before the sunrise so that as the temperature regulation shifts towards the sweating mode after sunrise, there is no scarcity of water in the outer layers of the body. Because of enough moisture, there is no metabolic prompt to extract more and more moisture from the fecal matter. In fact, Ushapaan can remove the fecal matter before the sunrise. Thus there is no extra heat load on the body after sunrise.
Therefore Ushapaan is the second most important lifestyle factor that can prevent and cure all kinds of constipations. For first factor visit the next blog.
For chronic constipation, it is advisable to drink warm water. Chronic constipation occurs in all kinds of people. However, vata dominant prakrati people get such type of constipation more frequently. Besides, they have more tendency to form very hard stool.
These are some of the limited benefits of Ushapaan. However, in short, we can safely say that it positively touches the entire body. It provides fluid for the internal bath of the body. It is very important as Saint Kabir said – What is the use of external purification is there is no internal cleanliness?
Ushapaan was induced as a religious ceremony in Vedic Hindu community. This is the reason why it was preserved and followed for a long time, even by people who no longer understood its essence or health benefits. Now it is time for us to reinvent this ancient ceremony and practice it religiously!
An advanced level of ushapaan is drinking the water through nose. I will elaborate more on it very soon.
Hope this helps all in need!