Citronella Oil


Citronella-banner‘Citronella is there for insect bites and stings’ is an endemic statement and is a realistic one as well, as the essential oil of Citronella is an excellent air purifier and disinfectant that aids in warding off insects and treating stings and bites of venomous insects also. The lemony, warming and sweet smelling Citronella oil is extracted from its aromatic grassy leaves by steam distillation.

Scientifically known as Cymbopogon nardus, this aromatic herb is called as Pangiri in Ayurveda and have been used in this ancient healing system in the treatment of toothaches, redness, irritation and inflammation of the skin, infectious diseases, digestive problems, headache, rheumatism, fatigue and as an after childbirth wash.     

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Historical uses and importance of Citronella and its essential oil:

Native to Southeastern parts of Asia, especially Sri Lanka; Citronella is a member of the plant family Poaceae. It is also grown widely as a commercial crop in Java Islands, Indonesia, Burma, India, West Indies, Taiwan, Madagascar and Ceylon.

This perennial grass variety is loved all over the world for its enticing lemon aroma and its blue-green leaves that grow up to a height of 1.5 meters tall. The Ceylon variety is considered to be the best and is called as Maha pengeri in Ceylon.

Citronella and its essential oil have been in use for more than thousands of years and were used as one of the oldest effective insect repellent even before the manufacturing of insect repellents like DEET.

This essential oil is used in the manufacturing of soaps, perfumes, detergents, insecticides, soap flakes and household cleaners. It was used in traditional medicine for treating menstrual problems, increased perspiration, mental fatigue, depression and as a safe repellent for pets.

Chemical constituents or Gas Chromatography Report (GC) of Citronella oil:

According to the Gas chromatography report, Citronella oil constitutes of 15 chemical components that contribute to its fragrance, therapeutic attributes, consistency and quality of this oil. Of which, Citronellal contributes to the highest proportion of Citronella oil constituents with about 51.5% of its total composition.

Just click on:

I trust that this must certainly help you in getting to know the exclusive information about the prime chemical constituents of Citronella oil.

The table crafted below clearly depicts the unique nature and contributions of these bio-chemical constituents to the healing magnificence of Citronella essential oil.

citronella-gct

Therapeutic properties of Citronella essential oil:

These constituents contribute to its remedial properties like bactericidal, diaphoretic, insecticidal, antioxidant, antiseptic, deodorant, stimulant, antifungal, tonic, relaxant, parasitic, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory.

Ayurvedic health benefits of Citronella essential oil:

Ayurveda is a mighty ocean enclosing mammoth health benefits for humanity. More than anything else, an Ayurvedic system teaches you absolute discipline to lead a hale, hearty and disease-free life for attaining longevity through healthy aging.

Ayurveda simply means the ‘knowledge of life’ and the first thing that Ayurveda insists is to have a thorough knowledge about oneself. Health according to this noble science is a three-dimensional array that comprises of physical, mental and spiritual health.

Everything on earth including the living and non-living things are a part of nature and are made up of the same five elements that Mother Nature is created with. They are space, fire, water, earth and air.

The uniqueness in Ayurveda lies in its remedial methodology that treats individuals rather than their illnesses; it focuses on the root cause of an illness rather than its symptoms; it follows a unique treatment methodology for every person even with the same illness rather than following the ‘one-size fits all’ strategy.

Every individual is a unique representation of nature with a specific individual constitution, comprising of three vital biological energies called as doshas. Each of this energy is a combination of any two vital elements and these dynamic energies determine the personality, behavior, physical and mental makeup of a person.

Vata is a fundamental energy of air and space and is responsible for circulation and nervous functions of the body. Pitta is a basic force of fire and water and is accountable for body temperature and metabolic functions. Kapha is a dynamic force of earth and water and is in charge of the physical structure, movement of fluids and sustenance.

Ayurveda identifies this innate presence of doshas and prescribes natural remedies in such a way to treat doshic imbalances, which would otherwise lead to diseases. The most predominant natural Ayurvedic remedies are essential oils, herbs, yoga, simple physical exercises, meditation, Ayurvedic routine, Abhyanga or Ayurvedic massaging and prayers.

Essential oils are the life energy of plants and are a potential Ayurvedic remedy for treating mankind through the sense of smell and sense of touch.

Citronella essential oil is known for lessening excess of pitta and kapha dosha and has a neutral effect on vata energy.

The Ayurvedic uses of Citronella essential oil are:

Citronella-broucher1. Nature’s best insect repellent:

Citronella essential oil is the most popular natural remedy for treating insect stings and bites and is also a potent insect repellent to keep away insects like mosquitoes, flies, ants and ticks. It has been registered in the United States since 1948 for this purpose. Citronella oil has been regarded as biopesticide with a non-toxic action by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It is also considered as a natural alternative to chemical-based insect repellents like DEET.

Adding 2 to 3 drops of Citronella oil in your air freshener, diffuser or vaporizer can assist in repelling insects. As it has been marked as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the United States Food and Drug Administration, Citronella oil can also be used to prevent flea infestations on your pets. Mixing 5 drops of Citronella oil to 10 ml of coconut oil and applying on your skin can guard you against mosquitoes and other insect stings and bites.

For pets, you can add 5 drops of Citronella oil to 8 ml of pet shampoo and make them feel fresh and flea-free for the entire day. “I use it when I shampoo my dog’s hair; 20 drops of Citronella added to 2 tablespoons of shampoo is very effective at killing fleas. He will be a happy dog with no fleas”, says Bryan Miller in the book Ayurveda and Aromatherapy.

Insect repelling cartridges, candles, tablets and pellets for using in outdoor household areas are also available in the market with Citronella oil formula. The University of Maryland Medical Center study on ‘Insect bites and stings’ talks about a study where “citronella candles reduced the number of female mosquitoes caught in traps by 35%; linalool candles reduced female mosquitoes by 65%; and geraniol candles reduced female mosquitoes by 82%”. Citronella essential oil has citronellal, linalool and geraniol content in it, thus making it the most effective insect repellent on earth.

A 2008 study on ‘Characterization and mosquito repellent activity of Citronella oil nanoemulsion’ by the National Science and Technology Development Agency, Thailand published in PubMed suggested that Citronella oil showed a release rate that related well to the protection time, contributing to a prolonged mosquito protection time.

2. Wards off bacterial and fungal infections:

Citronella is a proven antibacterial oil with the presence of remedial constituents like methyl isoeugenol. It works by restricting the growth of existing bacteria causing infections and curtailing the spreading or growth of new bacteria. Massaging your system with 10 drops of Citronella oil blended with 10 ml of olive oil can be effective in treating bacterial infections in the stomach, kidneys, liver, intestines, prostate, bladder, colon and the urinary passages.

The antifungal property of Citronella oil makes it a trusted natural remedy in combating the fungal infections like athlete’s foot, candida, dandruff and ringworm. Adding 2 drops of Citronella oil in warm bathing water can be of great assistance in treating external fungus problems in fingers, skin, toes and scalp and also effective in treating internal fungus infections causing fungal dysentery, vaginal infections, lung growth caused by weakened resistance and certain other health conditions.

3. Clears away excess oil in the skin and hair:

The essential oil of Citronella is a skin-friendly and hair-friendly oil that is often overlooked mainly because of its growing importance as a natural insect repellent. 2 drops of Citronella oil added to 1 ml of jojoba oil or to your mild skin care cream or lotion can help in cleansing the skin, removing excess oil secretion, nourishing the skin cells from within, moisturizing the skin, tightening the pores, enhancing the skin complexion and leaving it soft and supple.

The acne-clearing and other skin complimenting benefits of Citronella oil makes it popular ingredient in many sunscreen lotions, fairness creams and moisturizing lotions. A 2006 study by Steve Ritter on ‘Citronella oil: Mixture of terpenes in plant oil provides a relatively safe way to stave off pesky flying insects’ says “Citronella oil, containing a mix of terpenes (geranial and citronellal), has been used in personal care products for more than 50 years and has very low human toxicity.”

The fresh, clean and lemony aroma of Citronella oil comes as an esteem to your shampoo, as it aids in controlling dandruff with its anti-fungal properties, kills lice with its insecticide properties and removes excess oil from your oily hair and leaves a touch of absolute moisture in case of dry hair. Mix 5 to 6 drops of Citronella oil in 8 to 10 ml of mild shampoo and apply it gently on your scalp and hair. Leave it for 5 minutes and rinse thoroughly for a never before shiny, clean and lustrous hair.

4. Emancipates toxic substances in the body:

The detoxifying and diuretic properties of Citronella essential oil acts as an excellent aid in eliminating toxic remains left behind due to indigestion, unclean environment and other unhealthy lifestyle practices. These toxic substances are called as ama in Ayurveda and are the major reason behind numerous health conditions like arthritis, rheumatic pain, sluggishness, nervous exhaustion, fatigue, urinary infections and even severe heart problems.

Massaging the painful, inflamed or affected parts of the body with 5 drops of Citronella oil blended with 3 ml of sesame oil can assist in reducing inflammation, discharging of toxic substances, uric acid, excess fat deposits and water stagnation in the body through sweat and urine. You can also add 3 to 4 drops of Citronella oil in hot or cold compress and massage the aching parts for quick relief.

Ayurvedic texts state that only 20 to 30% of toxic substances in the body get discharged through urine and sweat and about 70% of harmful toxins are released only through exhalation. So deep breathing with slow inhalation along with slow and steady exhalation can be a sure shot remedy in expelling detrimental toxins in the body and this breathing exercise in known as Pranayama.

5. Appeases the mind:

The fruity, woody and citrusy aroma of Citronella essential oil instills calmness and warmth on your mind, body and spirit. Conflict of thoughts and perceptions are often the reason of stress, frustration and depression. Inhaling Citronella oil added to a diffuser or vaporizer (3 drops) has the power to grant mental clarity by pacifying the mental and emotional bodies that aids in determining the inner reasons for conflict.

Spiritually, Citronella essential oil has a positive impact on the Solar plexus chakra known as ‘Manipura’ in Sanskrit. This chakra is responsible for courage, self respect, ambition, self esteem and self discipline. Massaging your body with 10 drops of Citronella oil mixed with 10 ml of virgin Olive oil can assist in releasing the energy of distrust responsible for aggravation, loneliness and disharmony between the self and society.

6. Kills worms and stimulates the digestive system:

Worms and parasites in the stomach and intestines hinder the normal metabolic functions and lead to delayed physical and mental activities of the body. 2 drops of Citronella oil added to diffuser or vaporizer along with massaging your abdomen with 5 drops of this oil mixed with 3 ml of sesame oil can assist in killing intestinal worms and parasites and stimulate the normal functioning of the digestive system and enhancing the process of absorption of essential nutrients in food, toning the lining muscles of stomach and intestines and supporting the process of excretion.

7. Alleviates pain and stimulates the system:

Citronella essential oil has tonic properties that support and strengthen the nervous system, digestive system, excretory system and the endocrine system. By this way, massaging your body with 10 drops of Citronella oil blended with 10 ml of coconut oil can help in enhancing the immune power, hormone secretion, brain functions and blood circulation. This also helps in relieving pain including arthritic pain, migraine, rheumatic pain, muscular and joint pain, dysmennorhea, back pain and headache.

Other uses:

Citronella essential oil is also used in spritzers, aroma lamps, aromatic candles and room fresheners along with Eucalyptus, Lemon and Lavender essential oil for disinfecting, purifying and deodorizing the surroundings, making it an insect-free environment.

Disclaimer:

This information is for educational purposes only. Details enclosed here are an endeavor to maintain traditional wisdom and understanding. Do not use this for diagnosing or replacing any professional medical advice or prescribed medication. Always consult your Ayurvedic practitioner/ healthcare expert before choosing the right essential oils according to your medical condition and unique individual constitution.

Never use essential oils internally, including Citronella oil as it has aldehyde content. Always dilute it in appropriate carrier oils or other liquids before using it for topical applications, as organic and pure essential oils are the life forces of plants and are extremely concentrated substances. Care should be taken in using Citronella oil if you are pregnant or a nursing mother.

The MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) of Citronella oil is readily available for your enhanced safety and better usage.

Gas Chromatography Report (GC analysis) of Citronella oil.

Thought for the day:

I’m thankful to be breathing, on this side of the grass. Whatever comes, comes. -Ron Perlman

Suggested Reading:

  1. Citronella by Eugene Raskin
  2. Citronella ; Cymbopogon Nardus – A Literature Survey From Information Services Centre, Industrial Technology Institute
  3. Ayurveda & Aromatherapy: The Earth Essential Guide to Ancient Wisdom and Modern Healing by Dr. Light Miller, Dr. Bryan Miller
  4. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils In Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health, and Well Being by Julia Lawless
  5. The Naturally Clean Home: 100 Safe and Easy Herbal Formulas for Non-Toxic Cleansers by Karyn Siegel-Maier

Reference Links:

  1. Citronella Oil by Wikipedia
  2. Citronella Oil by Steve Ritter published in PUBS
  3. Health benefits of Citronella Essential Oil by Organic Facts
  4. A handbook on Lemongrass, Neem and Citronella by Janhit Foundation
  5. Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing by Marta Ferreira Maia and Sarah J Moore published in PubMed


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Ayurveda For Memory Loss: 3 Ways To Stimulate Your Brain Power


‘Wondering whether you have locked your home?’ after stepping into your office. Thinking whether you turned off the stove while you are half asleep? Made your little one wear his/her sports dress on a ‘strictly uniform’ demanding Monday morning? Trust me, then you are travelling on the not-so-smooth road of memory loss. It’s not only you but many of us suffer from memory loss. Pharmaceutical drugs can help you temporarily but very soon you may be affected by perilous side-effects. The best and the natural way to treat memory loss is by following the paths of our ancestors, who have gifted us with Ayurveda, the mother of all healing sciences.

What is memory loss? The best function of the human brain is the power of recollecting and retaining information and that is known as memory power. This is assisted by neurotransmitters or brain chemicals, the imbalance of which causes memory problems. Memory loss is the loss of ability to remember things or events that may be recent or from memories of the past or both together. It is also known as amnesia, loss of memory, forgetfulness, amnestic syndrome and impaired memory. Loss of memory can be permanent or transient depending upon an individual and his environment.

What causes loss of memory? Thousands of reasons could be attributed to this unusual forgetfulness but the predominant ones being aging, stress, depression and other psychological disorders. Few other causes of memory loss are alcoholism, drug addiction, weakened immunity, brain disorders, exposure to chemical or toxic substances, lack of nutrition or imbalanced diet, genetics, accidents or other traumatic disorders, cancer treatments like chemotherapy and brain radiation and certain other nervous disorders.

Ayurveda and memory loss: The Sanskrit term for memory loss in Ayurveda is Smriti Naasha. It generally occurs due to vitiation of vata dosha or kapha dosha. Increased vata can end up in “in one ear, out the other” syndrome. Balanced vata is imperative for all the functions vested with the nervous system, whereas pitta balance is responsible for sharp mind, focused thinking and clarity of mind. Balance in kapha dosha fosters movement and carries the information to the brain through nerve impulses and helps to save it on the brain tissue. The 3 trusted Ayurvedic remedies for treating loss of memory and enhancing brain power are:

Ayurvedic essential oils: Essential oils are natural extracts from plants. The immemorial essential oil to treat memory loss is Rosemary essential oil as it is said to have a positive effect on the cognitive function and boosts brain power. This is why the celebrated English Herbalist Nicholas Culpeper rightly said that Rosemary Helps a weak memory and quickens the senses. The chymical [essential] oil drawn from the leaves and flowers, is a sovereign help…touch the temples and nostrils with two or three drops.  This essential oil is also proved to sharpen the mental faculties while improving the cognitive performance.

Calamus essential oil contains terpenoids with sedative effect, trusted to empower the nervous system. Famous Botanist M. Daniel from the M.S. University strongly says that Calamus is effective in treating mental disorders, memory loss and augments memory power and intellect. The other effective essential oils for enhancing memory power are Basil essential oil, Thyme essential oil, Clary Sage essential oil, Roman Chamomile essential oil, Ginger essential oil, Lemon essential oil and Grapefruit essential oil.

Ayurvedic herbs: Intake of Ayurvedic herbs like Brahmi, Gotu Kola, Acorus Calamus, Ashwagandha, Celastrus paniculata, Nardostachys, Convolvus Pluricaulis and few other herbs have been proven effective in treating memory loss problems. Brahmi is known as an excellent brain and nerve tonic that is used to perk up the intellect, support learning and treat memory disorders and cognitive impairment. The famous ‘Phytotherapy Research’ of the A&M University, Texas has proved that Brahmi herb protects against Alzheimer’s disease.

Herbalist Penelope Ody says that Gotu Kola is an endurance tonic that reduces stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and enhances the memory power while invigorating the brain and central nervous system. In her popular book ‘The Holistic Herbal Directory’, she suggests the use of Acorus Calamus to augment mental awareness and memory power.

Ayurveda recommends the use of Convolvus Pluricaulis for memory problems as it is an exceptional tonic for revitalizing the functions of the brain and stimulate the nerves. Celastrus paniculata is also known as the intellect tree with its neuro-protective, anti-depressant, sedative and stimulant properties. The oil extracted from the seeds of this plant is used as a brain tonic for treating memory loss by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Yoga and Meditation: Regular meditation improves the power of concentration and aids in self-realization, paving way for mental wellness mainly due to the positive changes created in the brain wave patterns. Practicing Pranayama, the Yogic breathing method helps in attaining inner peace along with enhanced spiritual skills, high concentration and memory power. Other effective Yogasanas for treating memory loss problems are Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand), which revitalizes and invigorates the entire body, Balasana (Child pose) that helps in normalizing the circulation after performing the head stand, treats nervous irritability, anxiety and fatigue.

Along with these Ayurvedic remedies, light and cleansing diet including fresh fruits, organic vegetables, nuts, ghee etc, will boost your insight and aid in strengthening your memory power. No more worries and only sweet and strong memories, undoubtedly with Ayurveda.

Thought for the day:

[Memory is] a man’s real possession…In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor.                                                   –Alexander Smith

Suggested Reading:

  1. Ayurveda and the Mind: The Healing of Consciousness By Dr. David Frawley
  2. Yoga & Ayurveda: Self-Healing and Self-Realization By Dr. David Frawley
  3. Life’s a Smelling Success: Using Scent to Empower Your Memory and Learning By Alan Hirsch

Reference links:

  1. Memory loss by MedlinePlus (A Service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine)
  2. A Clear Mind and Good Memory With Ayurveda by Namaskarhealing
  3. Rosemary boosts brain power! By Robert Tisserand

Pranayama: The Ayurvedic Health Benefits Of Balanced Breathing


Have you ever thought about the way you breathe or the real magic behind your breathing? What will happen if your breath stops for a minute or two? Unimaginable and sounds pathetic, right? Pranayama can be called as the art of breathing for healthy living. This Sanskrit word means ‘extension of the life force’ in which ‘Prana’ means ‘breath or life force’ and ‘ayama’ means ‘expansion or to extend’. Ancient Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita have explained in detail about ‘Prana’ and its role in health and ailments. According to Ayurveda, Pranayama is a respiratory exercise and an exemplary technique to maintain physical health and augment mental health through spiritual values while harmonizing with the universal prana.

What is Pranayama? Pranayama is a vital part of the Yogic science, which is the sister science of Ayurveda. With the clear definition derived from the above para, all I have to explain about this spiritual healing technique is that it is the ‘control of breathing in a learned style’. This ideal breathing practice helps the body to meet its necessary oxygen requirements and release carbon-di-oxide and other toxins from the body. Pranayama should be done only after getting a proper training from an expert in Yoga. If done incorrectly, this exercise might increase the imbalances in the doshas, consequently ending up with diseases.

The three simple steps of Pranayama include Puraka (Inhalation), Kumbhaka (Retention) and Recaka (Exhalation). Slow and deep inhalation helps in the intake of enough oxygen for the body followed by total retention of the inhaled oxygen, which enables the system to acquire it. At the time of retaining the breath within, attention is focused on any particular part of the body like the forehead or the heart for gaining inner light. The final step is exhalation that is done through lungs or abdomen, where the impurities from your body are exhaled out.

Ayurvedic health benefits of Pranayama: Ayurveda is a holistic healing methodology that considers an individual as a universe in the universe based upon the solid principle that universe is also made up of the 5 vital elements and human body is also made up of the same 5 elements. Ayurveda considers ‘Pranayama’ as a juncture at which an individual’s own consciousness attains oneness with the universal consciousness. This paves way for realizing the immortal spirit vested within our body. The most significant health benefits of Pranayama according to Ayurveda are:

1. Enhances the quality of life: Pranayama or Yogic breathing helps you learn the art of deep and slow breathing, which aids in reduced rate of breathing. The normal respiratory rate in adults is about 12 breaths per minute at the time of rest. Increased respiratory rate like 20 or 30 breaths per minute are seen only in sick people, especially who are diagnosed with cancer, cystic fibrosis, HIV/AIDS and few other chronic conditions. Dr AC Guyton has said in The Textbook of Medical Physiology that “All chronic pain, suffering and diseases are caused from a lack of oxygen at the cell level”. Ayurveda recommends the practice of Pranayama to acquire enough oxygen to all the cells of the body and for reduced rate of breathing say about 5 to 6 breaths per minute. This helps in relaxation of nerves and muscles while lessening the wear and tear of internal organs.

2. Longevity or Increased life span: Increased life span or longevity is based upon an individual’s rate of breathing, according to Yoga, the sister science of Ayurveda. Pranayama teaches one to lower the rate of breathing and directly contributes to increased life span. As most of us know, one of the predominant living organisms on earth that has the highest life span is Tortoise and the major reason being its reduced rate of breathing that is only 4 to 5 breaths per minute.

3. Contributes to a healthy heart: A healthy heart is an incredible treasure supporting your welfare. This is an active organ of the body that works 24/7 in all the 365 days in a year. Practicing Pranayama regularly helps in the circulation of more oxygen to the blood and consequently supplies more oxygen to the heart and its muscles. This supports better functioning of your heart and effectively removes the toxins from the body.

4. Improves mental health: Inculcating regular practice of Pranayama strengthens your mind and grants you ultimate solace. A disturbed mind and a stressful life demands most of our time and steals our joy and serenity. Pranayama can also be called as positive breathing as it sows positive thoughts in our mind and emancipates the negative feelings like materialism, anger, depression, jealousy, stinginess, sluggishness, egotism and many other. This healing exercise improves the concentration power and paves way for better memory, enhanced spiritual skills and the eternal feeling of inner peace and harmony.

5. Healthy aging: Pranayama is the perfect way of treating the imbalances of all the three doshas namely vata, pitta and kapha. Vata aggravation leads to ill-health especially when a person turns older. Practicing Pranayama on a regular basis helps in keeping the mind and body in control. The sufficient amount of oxygen taken in by the body assists in treating Vata imbalances where Air is the predominant energy. This helps in protecting the health of the heart and lungs while preventing the negative symptoms of aging like rheumatism, backache, loss of vitality, solidifying arteries, improper blood circulation, dry and wrinkled skin, listless diaphragm and much more.

Start practicing Pranayama in a clean, bug-free environment especially in the early hours of the day when the energy levels of your body and the nature are at its best. Using aromatic Ayurvedic essential oils with therapeutic values while doing Pranayama can help you serve your health conditions better as it instills a positive sensation while fostering your body to accept the inner power granted by the natural fragrance of these oils. I can sense a ray of hope everyday when I practice Pranayama with the everlasting company of my favorite spiritual oils for fragrance, yes Frankincense essential oil along with Bergamot essential oil. It’s your turn now.

Thought for the day:

Inhale and God approaches you.  Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you.  Exhale, and you approach God.  Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.                                -Krishnamacharya

Suggested Reading:

  1. Light on Pranayama: The Yogic Art of Breathing By B. K. S. Iyengar
  2. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha/2008 Fourth Revised Edition by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
  3. Moola Bandha: The Master Key by Swami Buddhananda
  4. Yoga & Ayurveda: Self-Healing and Self-Realization by Dr. David Frawley

Reference Links:

  1. Pranayama by Wikipedia
  2. Pranayama, Yoga, and Ayurveda by California College of Ayurveda
  3. Normal Respiratory Rate and Ideal Breathing by NormalBreathing.com