In the Ayurvedic science, Bala is referred to as the strength of an individual. Bala (strength) invariably means both physical and mental strength. All the aspects related to Bala (strength enhancing) action do have functionally either a direct or indirect beneficial effect on the strength of the body.
The word Bala has been used invariably for strength of the mind, body and its components. The term is also used synonymously for those components of the body which have the function of providing strength, protection, nourishment and stability to other parts of the body. The word Bala is thus synonymously used for normal Kapha dosha (~the factor primarily responsible for strengthening and lubrication of the body) and Ojus (~bioenergy or the body component that helps in sustaining life). Ojus is the final fine essence of the body tissues representing immunity and immune system in normal state. This Bala is capable of defying the bodily humors.
How do we Assess Bala ?
This Bala or the strength of an individual can be assessed
- By the ability to perform intense physical activity.
- By the capacity of doing work, adaptability and tolerance for pain, stress and resistance to diseases.
- By the growth of the body; assessed in terms of built up, stability and compactness of the body.
- By assessing the ability to perform both physical and mental activities in unfavourable conditions too.
- By assessing the capacity to resist diseases.
How does Bala function ?
The main functions of Bala are the nourishment and stability of Mamsa dhatu (the muscular tissues of the body), enhancing the ability to perform various tasks efficiently, clarity and complexion of voice along with clear and efficient working of all the organs both external sense organs or organs with motor functions and internal like mind.
How is Bala Classified ?
Bala is basically classified into three types.
- Sahaja Bala which refers to the innate traits that a person possesses. The innate or inborn strength is pre- decided for an individual depending on the condition of the sperm and ovum. Ayurveda considers that the body constitution of an individual is decided at the time of conception and hence can’t be altered.
- Kalaja Bala refers to the variations in the strength of an individual due to seasonal, diurnal, nocturnal and age-related variations. For e.g. The strength of an individual is optimum in the winters, mornings and best in the younger age group while decreased in the summers, evenings and old age.
- Yuktikrita Bala refers to the acquired strength attained through strength enhancing regimes, proper diet and exercise. The interventions include physical exercise, Yoga, food and herbs having Rasayana (~a general tonic that nourishes all the tissues of the body) and Vajikarana (~an action that involves nourishment to the Shukra primarily) thereby enhancing the strength of the body. Foods like meat, ghee, while activities that include a balanced practice of rest and exercise enhance Bala. Yoga here points out towards numerous combinations of herbs that are used as Rasayana and Vajikarana.
Certain other factors termed as Balavriddhikara bhava (strength enhancing traits) are invariably strength enhancers. These factors include birth in a place which promotes strength (dry lands), birth during the strength enhancing southern solstice, birth in a season which shows its perfect characteristics or normalcy, superior environment favourable for birth which includes good quality sperm, ovum, healthy uterus, proper antenatal care are invariably strength enhancers. On the other hand, off-springs born to parents who have excellent strength and follow principles of healthy diet and lifestyle also have good strength. Good mental health is also an indigenous strength enhancing quality.
A diet comprising of the six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, astringent, pungent and bitter), Cock meat, Kapha dosha in its normal state and normal vascular tissue are all strength enhancers.
The Ayurvedic literature mentions ten herbs referred to as Balya (strength enhancing) such as Shatavari, Ashwagandha, Atibala (Indian mallow), Bala (Country mallow) etc. Another combination referred to as Brimhaniya (muscle building and growth enhancing) includes Ashwagandha, Indian kudzu, Shweta Bala (a variety of Indian mallow) etc. Depending on the desired effect one can choose the best herb.
Therefore Bala is a huge concept covering various aspects; individualistic and cannot be generalized.