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Improving Joint Flexibility

ISSUED // February 21

Improving Joint Flexibility



Jane, a 55-year-old bookkeeper, notices that her hands and fingers feel occasionally stiff, especially when the weather turns dry and cool. Sometimes her joints make a crackling sound when she bends them. She sees an expert in Maharishi AyurVeda and finds out that Vata dosha is at the root of her imbalance, which is why it tends to occur during Vata (late fall and winter) season.


From the perspective of Ayurveda, joint issues such as Jane's often start when the Vata subdosha that governs the circulation and nerve impulses goes out of balance. Her circulation, metabolism, and ability to absorb food are weakened; as a result, the bone tissue does not receive enough nourishment and eventually starts to become affected. This, in turn, causes a drying effect in the subdosha of Kapha that governs lubrication of the joints. When the joints are not lubricated properly, this creates occasional discomfort, a cracking sound, and diminished flexibility.


If you have joint issues such as Jane's, you may want to follow the Vata-Pacifying Diet and daily routine. Include all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and pungent) in your diet. Favor the sweet, sour, and salty tastes—as these help pacify Vata dosha—and eat fewer bitter, astringent, and pungent foods. 

Other healthy foods to include in the Vata-Pacifying Diet are grains such as:

  • quinoa, rye, and amaranth, cooked in water with a small amount of ghee
  • freshly-cooked organic vegetables
  • split mung dhal soup
  • sweet, organic, juicy fruits

It's important to eat a diet rich in calcium, including high-quality organic milk and vegetables such as spinach, kale, asparagus, and root vegetables cooked with Calming (Vata) Spice Mix. Avoid caffeine and an acidic diet, as these destroy the ability of the body to absorb calcium.

At the same time, follow a Vata-pacifying daily routine

  1. Go to bed before ten o'clock at night, and rise before six a.m. 
  2. Avoid too much stimulating activity at night, such as watching television right before bed. 
  3. Eat your main meal at noon, and eat a light, nourishing dinner early in the evening. 
  4. Engage in some mild exercise such as walking for half an hour a day. 
  5. Practice the Transcendental Meditation® program on a regular basis to dissolve stress and calm your mind. 
  6. One of the best things you can do for this type of joint issue is a daily Ayurvedic oil massage (abhyanga) to improve circulation and settle Vata dosha.



Osteo Relief, the herbal formula for this type of joint issue, has a special name in Ayurveda — santarpana — which means “nurturing.” Based on this nurturing theory of santarpana, Osteo Relief's precise combination of herbs nourishes and supports the bone tissue and joints, and enhances the lubricating fluid of the joints.

Calcium absorption is usually a challenge with this type of joint issue. To help with your calcium intake, try our Calcium Support formula. This remarkable herbal formula supplies your body with over 590 mg of bioavailable calcium a day — and at the same time enhances your body's ability to absorb calcium from calcium supplements and the foods you eat.

Calcium absorption is usually a challenge with this type of joint issue. To help with your calcium intake, try our Calcium Support formula. This remarkable herbal formula supplies your body with over 590 mg of bioavailable calcium a day — and at the same time enhances your body's ability to absorb calcium from calcium supplements and the foods you eat.


Jason, a 30-year-old writer, finds it hard to bend his knees at times. His legs and joints feel heavy and sometimes ache when the weather is cool and rainy, as in Kapha (spring) season. After seeing an Ayurvedic expert, he discovers that his issue is due to ama (toxins) collecting in the joints.


Jason's joint issue is associated with ama collecting in the joints, and is characterized by a heavy, stiff feeling. Sometimes a bout of cold, humid weather can trigger these traits. That is the first stage. If nothing is done to dissolve the ama and it sits in the joints for a long time, eventually the toxins become more irritating and reactive in nature, causing the joint to become irritated, heavy, and uncomfortable. 


In this kind of environment, ama also mixes with the natural lubricating fluids in the joint governed by Shleshaka Kapha — a subdosha of Kapha — forming an 

extremely sticky, toxic substance that restricts mobility and disturbs circulation in the joint.

If the ama, amavisha, and Shleshma stay in the joints for a long time, eventually the structure of the joints and the bone itself become affected. Once these morphological changes happen to the joint and bone, the issue becomes extremely difficult to correct.


Follow an ama-reducing diet consisting of warm, light, dry foods that are easy to digest. Eat more nourishing soups and warm, freshly cooked grains and vegetables prepared with Stimulating (Kapha) Spice Mix and spices such as ginger, fennel, cumin, and peppercorn to stimulate digestion. It also helps to eat an apple cooked with prunes and figs each morning for breakfast. Avoid eating leftovers or processed foods.

To keep your digestion working properly, avoid day sleep, and go to bed early so you can rise before 6:00 a.m. Exercise for half an hour every day, and choose a type of exercise that you enjoy. A brisk walk is ideal for most people, along with yoga asana stretches, although if you have more Kapha dosha, you may need more vigorous exercise to stay in balance. You'll feel lighter and more energetic just by making these simple changes in your routine.


While abhyanga is not recommended on top of heavy-feeling joints, it can help to gently apply Joint Soothe II, an Ayurvedic oil designed to lubricate and support the joints and liquefy impurities.

Once liquefied, ama can be internally eliminated by taking the Flexcel tablets. These two products work together to effectively penetrate, dissolve, and eliminate ama and to lubricate the joints to restore their natural balance. If there is a lot of ama, you could take Elim-Tox-O with the Flexcel tablets.


Being proactive is key. It takes a great amount of effort to get rid of ama that has circulated throughout the body and settled in the joints. So once you start taking care of your joint issue by reducing ama, be careful not to accumulate ama in the future. Examine your tongue in the morning — it should not be coated. If you feel even a little stiffness or heaviness in your joints, it’s a good idea to start following the ama-reducing recommendations as soon as you can. 


    What: Abhyanga (daily Ayurvedic oil massage).

    Why: Increases circulation, addresses impurities before they build up, and lubricates the joints. It also helps tone the muscles, calms the mind, soothes the nerves, and promotes deeper sleep. It's more powerful than a cup of coffee for waking up and energizing sleepy brain cells. Learn more about the benefits of abhyanga.

    Who: Anyone can benefit, from babies to the elderly.

    Where: Choose a place that can be washed clean, such as the bathroom floor. Spread a towel and sit on it.

    When: Traditionally done upon rising, before the morning shower or bath (the heat helps the impurities flow out and washes off the oil).

    How: For most body types, start with Organic Sesame Oil. (For instructions on curing the oil, click here — or you can buy it already cured). For a calming effect during Vata Season, use Moisturizing Herbal Massage Oil.

    1. Warm the oil in a small glass bottle. Dip your fingertips into the warm oil and apply it lightly to the entire body. Start with the head first.
    2. Using the open hand — palm and fingers — stroke the bones with long, straight, back-and-forth motions. Use circular, gentle motions on rounded areas such as joints and the scalp.
    3. Use lighter pressure for sensitive areas such as the abdomen or the heart. Use more oil and spend more time where nerve endings are concentrated, such as the soles of the feet, palms of the hands and along the base of the fingernails.
    4. After you're done, relax for 10-15 minutes and let the oil do its magic. The longer the oil is on, the deeper it penetrates. During this time you can read something relaxing or uplifting, rest, or get ready for the day. Dab excess oil off with paper towels if you like, then follow with a relaxing warm bath or shower. If your schedule doesn't allow for a daily massage, try to squeeze it in at least three or four times a week. You'll find it's worth it!

    Not sure which kind of joint issues you have? Check out this Ayurvedic Muscle & Joint Flexibility Q&A or read our article on Help for Achy Joints.

    © 1999, 2023 Maharishi AyurVeda Products International, Inc. (MAPI). All Rights Reserved. MAPI does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. See additional information.

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