The Vata Dosha and our mind

By Angela Glaz

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The Vata Dosha

·      One of the three body constitutions of Ayurveda, consisting of the elements air and space.

·      Holds the qualities of: light, cold, rough, dry, and mobile.

·      Known as the mover, as well as the king of the doshas because without it, the other doshas couldn’t move.

·      Actions and functions: pumping of the heart, removing waste, breathing, moving the vocal chords for speech, cultivating creativity in the mind, and regulating sensory and motor nerve impulses.

How the Vata Dosha Effects the Mind

While the Vata dosha plays a lead role in the functioning of our body and mind, when in excess, that movement can lead to mental disturbances such as: worrying, the inability to focus, daydreaming, and in extreme cases hallucinations. These imbalances then can also become roadblocks in our journey to becoming present.

How to regulate excess Vata in the Mind

Give up or cut back on caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant and when we add a stimulant to an already over stimulated body and mind, it will make it that much harder for the mind to make its way to the present.

Do one thing at a time

Ayurveda believes that our minds can only be associated with one sense organ at a time, and while our mind can move very quickly and make us think that we can multi-task, we really can only focus on one thought or perception at a time.

Touch the earth with your hands or bare feet

It’s been confirmed by numerous studies that grounding, or touching the earth, significantly impacts stress reduction by shifting us from the fight or flight state to the rest and digest state.

Get enough sleep

Sleep is when our body and mind digests and repairs from the previous day’s experiences. When we are not able to or don’t allow ourselves to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep, the first things to feel the effects is our mind. Lack of sleep can cause us to feel unfocused or even moody, as well as affect our memory and our ability to process information.  

Trikatu

By Caitlin Rose

200hr E-RYT & Ayurvedic Counselor

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Trikatu is a classic Ayurvedic herbal formulation that translates to, “three spices.” It is a warming blend of pungent spices that help to increase the Agni (our ability to digest) and reduce Kapha dosha. It is a powerful blend that effects the rejuvenation of the respiratory system, immune system and digestive system. It is comprised of three herbs; black pepper, long pepper and ginger. 

Individual Benefits of Herbs:

Black Pepper: Black Pepper has both cleansing and antioxidant properties, it is also a bioavailability enhancer — it helps transport the benefits of other herbs to different parts of the body. Black pepper helps enhance the flow of oxygen to the brain, as well as enhance digestion and circulation. Black pepper is a warming spice and contributes the pungent taste. It is excellent for pacifying Kapha and helping to rejuvenate the respiratory system due to its drying qualities. 

Ginger: Ginger is a universal medicine that is irreplaceable in nature, as well as in the kitchen. It is a digestive aid that also aids in the elimination of natural toxins in the body by liquifying ama (toxic build up). Ginger has a warming effect on the body, helping to reduce excess kapha and vata. It supports healthy circulation, regulates blood pressure and promotes cleansing. Ginger helps to support healthy lungs and comfortable breathing, removing mucus from the upper chest.

Long Pepper: Long Pepper, also known as Pippali, helps similar to black pepper, but more heating. It stimulates the metabolism and the production of the digestive enzymes, enhancing our ability to digest and assimilate nutrients, as well as burn and release toxins. It is helpful in maintaining an ideal respiratory system, supporting and clearing the lungs for comfortable breathing. Long pepper helps to pacify excess Kapha dosha. 

Benefits of Trikatu:

Seasonal Allergies: According to Ayurveda, typical allergy symptoms, including runny nose, sinus congestion, cough and sneezing are symptoms of a Kapha dosha imbalance. Another way of looking at this is the lymphatic fluids backing up and not properly eliminating the accumulation of toxins that may be occurring due to an impaired Agni, or ability to digest. While there is a proven genetic factor working against those with seasonal allergies, working to nurture the lymphatic system with daily movement, dry out the respiratory system with a diet that has increased pungent qualities and rest will make a impact on their seasonal suffering. Trikatu’s blend of spices will both help to reduce the amount of phlegm or congestion that an individual is experiencing, which will help aid in removing accumulated toxins while enhancing ones ability to digest, ultimately increasing the immunity to fight off common seasonal allergens. 

Immune Support: Our immune system is highly dependent on our digestive system. When we have excess kapha dosha, our ability to digest and metabolism the food that we consume is hindered. When our metabolism is hindered from excess kapha dosha, the food that we consume does not get broken down and eliminated properly, causing it to linger in our small intestine and become toxic. These toxins then leak into our body where they are consumed by lymph, and ideally taken to the lymph nodes for cleansing. Unfortunately, the presence of excess kapha dosha means that this lymph is not making it to the lymph nodes for cleansing. This results in the excess toxins lingering in our bodies and weakening our immune system. By Trikatu reducing the excess kapha, lymph and undigested food in our GI tract, we increase our ability to fight disease, enhancing our immunity. 

Digestive Aid: As briefly mentioned, Trikatu’s powerful blend of three pungent herbs is an instant kickstart to the metabolism. Adding these herbs into ones diet, signals the digestive organs to produce specific digestive enzymes. When we have sufficient, relevant digestive enzymes present during our digestive process we are able to properly discern between assimilation and elimination of nutrients. This is the key to a healthy mind and body. 

 

Yoga For Increased Energy

By Caitlin Rose

200hr E-RYT & Ayurvedic Counselor

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Agni translates to “the transforming force” and is our bodies ability to digest what we take in; from food, to water, to emotions, conversations, even thoughts and sensations. Agni is responsible for all digestion, absorption and assimilation; discerning what our body will keep and what it will pass along for elimination, in regards to our internal and external input. When our Agni is highly functioning we are able to properly filter out that which does not serve us and find nourishment from the rest. That proper nourishment is what keeps our vital energies plentiful, our immunity strong and thus establish sustained vitality. When Agni is impaired, weak or variable we experience emotional disturbances, with an increased tendency towards fear, anxiety, anger, lethargy or depression; all of which are due to an increased amount of toxic matter or waste in the body. This malfunction of our Agni is what eventually causes us to feel low in energy, weak or fatigue. As well as congestion in the sinuses, the lymph or even the mind. 

The best yoga practice we can do to help increase energy, would be a yoga practice directed at enhancing, or rebalancing, our Agni. When we are feeling heavy or lethargic due to low energy and a low digestive fire, we are typically addressing an imbalance or excess of Kapha dosha. This shows up more often in the months of spring, but can occur throughout the year at other times. Some signs of excess Kapha dosha would include phlegm, congestion in the chest, a persistent cough, poor digestion (indigestion), swelling, high blood pressure, excessive salivation or a low appetite. 

Here we must acknowledge that excess Kapha in the body is not just causing heaviness in our digestive system, but also our lymphatic system as the accumulated matter that is causing us to feel heavy is a result of the lymphatic system failing to drain properly, allowing toxins and cellular waste products to accumulate in the body. Therefore, the best yoga practice to increase energy will focus on reducing excess Kapha by stimulating the digestive fire and creating movement of this accumulated matter through the lymphatic system. 

This yoga sequence should focus on relaxing the body to reduce tension. It should start by opening the hips to release accumulated tension and create a sense of feeling grounded and calm. It should stimulate the metabolism by opening and strengthening the side body (reducing heaviness in the abdominal organs) and inversions to move lymphatic fluids from places of accumulation to the lymph nodes for removal of accumulated toxins. It should also include some quicker movement, paired with longer holds and twists to generate heat and movement within. Whenever possible, add small backbends to support the opening of the chest, the primary location where lymph tends to accumulate. Most importantly, there should be an emphasis on a sustained, deep, nourishing breath to be the guide towards regenerating the three vital energies of Prana, Tejas and Ojas.

Poses:

Seated Meditation: Start your practice in a relaxing seat. Start to focus on lengthening and balancing your breath, breathing all of your breath in and out of your belly. This will start to allow your body to switch from the sympathetic state of “fight and flight” and into the parasympathetic state of “rest and digest.” It is here that our body will stop producing cortisol (the stress hormone) and start to find homeostasis, or the balance and maintenance of the body’s systems, particularly within the metabolism (Agni) and immune system (lymph).

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Energy vs. Fatigue; An Ayurvedic Perspective

By Caitlin Rose

200hr E-RYT & Ayurvedic Counselor

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Our society is enamored by this idea of being “high energy.” That it is somehow a sign of strength to take on the world every single day and that if we are stressed or fatigue, it is almost our reward, our confirmation that we are working hard, that we are chasing what is ours to achieve.

When asked what surprised him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama answered, “We sacrifice our health in order to make wealth, then we sacrifice our wealth in order to get back our health.” So we must begin by asking ourselves the following questions, “Do we really need to work harder, or smarter? Should we be fighting our fatigue, or nurturing it? Are my efforts to move forward, holding me back?” Keep reading to discover how you can find balance, energy and health, by increasing your vital energies.

Stop Fighting Fatigue, Nurture it.

According to Ayurveda Fatigue is caused by one of many things, primarily it is in conjunction with a depleted state of Agni (metabolism) or one of the three vital energies; Tejas (that which converts ahara (that which we take in) to energy), Ojas (vitality and immunity) or prana (breath). Tejas, Ojas and Prana are the positive essences of the three doshas, they are in abundance when we are healthy and lacking when the dosha is in excess or we are ill. Generally speaking, when a dosha is in excess, disease is manifesting and when the three vital forces are in excess, health is manifesting. 

As we work with the wisdom of Ayurveda we begin to recognize that we are not low on energy, we are low on something else, something more tangible. This recognition gives us direction.

As you read more about these subtle essences or vital energies, begin to notice what resonates with you, giving you direction towards beginning to demystify fatigue and reconnect to the inherent energy within. 

Agni

Fatigue is a sign from our bodies that a system is not working properly, and in Ayurveda everything starts with our ability to digest or the strength of our metabolism, and this task is completed by our Agni. To better understand the function of Agni, we look at the roll of digestive enzymes in relation to the strength of our metabolism. 

The best path to restore Agni is through an Ayurvedic Cleanse. To maintain a healthy Agni, one can establish an Ayurvedic diet that is personalized to their constitution (unique combination of elements within) along with a balance lifestyle. 

When our Agni is too high or too low, we must look at our current state of imbalance in relation to the three doshas and their subtle essences. To correct the Agni, we must work to rebalance the doshas by increasing the three vital energies; Prana, Tejas and Ojas. 

Prana

Balancing Vata; Cultivating Prana

Vata dosha is comprised of the elements of air and space and is responsible for all movement within the body and the mind. In regards to our Agni, when Vata dosha is in excess our digestion is variable, fluctuating between too high and too low. When the Agni is too high, we are not able to properly break down the food that we consume and assimilate that which we need, loosing the essential nutrients that our body needs to sustain life. When the Agni is too low, we are not able to fully break down and digest the food that we are eating, resulting in accumulation and toxins in the small intestine. Neither is better or worse, both result in the manifestation of disease. To reduce the excess Vata that is causing the variable Agni, one must adhere to a vata pacifying diet and lifestyle and work to increase their Prana. 

Prana is the subtle counterpart of Vata dosha and governs our ability to adapt and grow, it is directly related to our pineal and pituitary glands, which are responsible for the regulation of vital hormones such as melatonin. Increased prana is what provides the enthusiasm, creativity and adaptability that we need to walk down a spiritual path, without becoming depleted. When it is depleted we tend to feel overwhelmed without direction, physically and emotionally uninspired and depleted of any ability to sustain effort. Prana is an essential aspect of the endocrine, nervous and immune system. It is developed primarily through pranayama, meditation emphasizing space and sound as well as a yoga practice that emphasizes calming the mind through breath and concentration. 

Tejas

Balancing Pitta; Cultivating Tejas

Pitta dosha is comprised from the elements of fire and water and is responsible for all transformation and conversion within the body and mind. In regards to ones Agni, when Pitta dosha is in excess, the Agni runs too hot. When the Agni (or metabolism) is running to high, we are not able to properly transform the nutrients from our diet into the energy that we need to sustain life. To reduce the excess Pitta that is causing the Agni to disfunction, one must adhere to a pitta pacifying diet and lifestyle and work to increase their Tejas. 

Tejas is the subtle counterpart of both Agni and pitta dosha, it governs intelligence, discernment, digestion and assimilation (transformation). Tejas is the will to push through when we are challenged or need to exert ourselves. This is the force that enables us to practice tapas and transform ourselves on our spiritual journey. Tejas governs metabolism and digestion and is related directly to our thyroid and pancreas, this is why most deep seated metabolic functions are Tejas in nature. When we are sick, Tejas is activated to burn or destroy the toxins by generating a fever; It is our ability to overcome mild pathogens without disturbances in our lives. When Tejas is depleted, we tend to feel weak, unmotivated, and lack passion. Tejas is developed through Tapas; control of speech, actions and thoughts. Practicing concentration and presence to overcome our weakness, practicing self-inquiry, diligence towards growth on our spiritual path and withholding from wrong speech or actions will increase Tejas and thus balance the Pitta dosha and our Agni. 

Ojas

Balancing Kapha; Cultivating Ojas

Kapha dosha is comprised from the elements of earth and water and is our source for obtaining nourishment, vitality and sustained energy. In regards to Agni, when Kapha dosha is in excess, the Agni does not burn with enough heat. This causes much of what we consume to not be metabolized fully, resulting in undigested matter accumulating in our small intestines. This undigested matter rots and transforms into toxic matter that coats the walls of the GI tract. This further causes lack of absorption from the food that is broken down as well as accumulation of fat, toxins and inorganic matter that our body cannot properly pass. To reduce excess Kapha one must adhere to a Kapha pacifying diet and lifestyle as well as work to increase their Ojas. 

Ojas is the subtle counterpart of Kapha dosha. Ojas is our source of endurance and ability to sustain through all forms of exertion, physical and mental. Ojas is directly related to our adrenals and allows us to handle stress through sustained adrenaline. It is the capacity of the immune system and most directly correlated with our potential to defend ourselves against external pathogens. It provides endurance, resistance and strength to ward off diseases. One can work to increase Ojas through a sattvic diet (consisting of whole grains, seeds and nuts, oils, root vegetables and natural sugars), by reducing external stimulation (mass media and social media) as well as devotion to a higher power, such as the cosmos. Increasing Ojas is the most important focus that we can cultivate, for Ojas is the container for which we are able to obtain and maintain both Tejas and Prana. 

Work Smarter, Not harder.

When we are already under pressure, busy, stressed or fatigued, adhering to a new Ayurvedic Lifestyle can seem like just another thing to add to the list. This is counter productive and should not be thought of as another thing to do, but simply a different way to do what you are already doing. 

As Vata dosha’s primary quality is movement, it is the least stable; the first to go out of balance and also the easiest to bring back into balance. To balance Vata, we turn to prana or the breath. Checking in with the breath is a great way to start your day as well as track your day. When Vata dosha becomes imbalanced, the breath becomes rapid, rigid and lacks depth. This triggers the flight or fight response - also known as our sympathetic nervous system. This activation of the sympathetic nervous system causes stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol to flood the body, further aggravating vata causing agitation, fear, intestinal disturbances and difficulty focusing. As Vata is the “mover” of the doshas, when in excess, it can also cause Pitta and Kapha dosha to go out of balance. Starting your day with deep breaths or a pranayama practice can help to keep the breath balanced throughout your day as life presents itself. Focusing on the breath is also a great way to become present and a simple discipline that you can integrate that will also start to reduce Pitta dosha, by cultivating Tejas. This focus can help us adhere to what matters most in our lives, nourishing our minds and bodies creating sustained vitality and energy, bringing Kapha dosha into balance as well. 

Our goal should not be doing more, it should be trying to find a way to do less so that we can enjoy what we do more. Creating a morning routine can help you find direction for your day. Start your day with 8-15 minutes of meditation and breath work, followed by just 5 minutes of writing down what you want to accomplish with your day, then simply check in with this list two more times throughout your day. Starting to find balance through slowing down, taking a deep breath and identifying our priorities can create the focus that we need to nourish ourselves instead of constantly working towards depletion. 

It is also important to take note of that which is not serving your health and happiness. When we start to become more mindful, it is important to check in with ourselves, often. After everything, whether it be a conversation, experience, meal, meeting or interaction; we should be asking ourselves, “how did that make me feel?” With time this will start to bring clarity on what we want to start omitting from our daily lives. There is a level or responsibility that cultivating health and happiness requires, standing up for yourself so that you can live the best life possible. 

Stop Doing This; So You Can Start Doing That

Overall, reclaiming your inherent health and energy is less about fighting fatigue and more about nourishing your three vital energies. It’s about carving out 30 minutes in your morning to create your balanced day. It’s about honestly checking in and letting go of that which is not serving your ideal life, day in and day out. It is about eating food that is replenishing your tissues, not depleting them and causing harmful toxin build up in your digestive system. Living Ayurvedically will bring you the energy that you are seeking once you realize that it’s not simply about doing more, but doing more of what brings you happiness and health.

Benefits of Kitchari

By Caitlin Rose

200hr E-RYT & Ayurvedic Counselor

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Unlike other cleanses, an Ayurvedic cleanse is all about nourishing the mind and body by clearing away that which is not serving our goal of happiness and health, while replenishing the body with that which does. During the “cleansing stage” of an Ayurvedic Cleanse, Kitchari is eaten as the primary food source. Kitchari is a traditional Indian dish that is served with a Tridoshic blend of herbs, along with a plentiful amount of seasonal vegetables. The base of the dish is rice and beans, leaving you with enough protein to keep going through life uninterrupted. 

The purpose of an Ayurvedic cleanse is to reset the metabolism, clear away accumulated toxins and reveal lightness and energy as we move into a new season. Kitchari helps to reset the metabolism because it is easy to digest, keeping things moving, and the Kitcharie spices are very stimulating to the Agni, also known as our metabolism. Our metabolism is the key to health, if you want to read more about this find our article, Enzymes and Agni. Here we will break down the recipe to highlight the benefits of Kitchari! 

Benefits of the Ingredients in Kitchari:

Split Mung Dal and Basmati Rice:

Soaked split mung dal is among one of the most easily digested beans that we can eat- even for those with weak digestion. The combination of rice and mung dal provide us with all of the essential amino acids needed to form a complete protein. The protein content of Kitchari helps to support stable blood sugar levels, providing sustained energy and mental clarity throughout the cleanse. 

Ghee: 

The Charaka Samhita, one of the classical texts of Ayurveda, states “the intake of ghee is prescribed for those whose bodily constitution is dominated by vata and pitta, who is suffering from diseases due to the vitiation of vata and pitta, those desirous of good eye sight, the old, children, the weak, those desirous of longevity, those desirous of strength, good complexion, voice, nourishment, progeny, tenderness of the body, luster, ojas [life-sustaining vitality], memory, intelligence, power of digestion, wisdom, proper functioning of sense organs, and those afflicted with injuries due to burns.” 

  • Enhances agni (healthy digestion)
  • Enhances the absorption of nutrients
  • Enhances the absorption of herbal medicines
  • Lubricates the body, nourishing the tissues and the nervous system
  • Promotes memory and intellect
  • Promotes the elimination of toxins within the body
  • Strengthens the sense organs and immunity
  • Improves strength and tone of the voice

For more on Ghee, find our full article titles, Ghee!

Herbs:

These herbs support a healthy appetite, promotes digestion and elimination of toxins while balancing all three doshas. They are recommended to add to any dals, soups or vegetables. 

Spices:

Mustard Seed: Mustard seed is pungent and oily, making it ideal for stimulating the digestive fire and balancing vata and kapha dosha. 

Cumin Seeds: Cumin is one of the most recommended of the Ayurvedic spices. It supports healthy digestion without aggravating and of the doshas, making it tridoshic. Its name is sanskrit directly translates to, “promoting digestion.” In India cumin seeds are often consumed whole pose meal as a digestive aid, helping to reduce excess vata in the GI teact. Cumin stimulates our digestive enzymes, promoting prompt absorption and assimilation of nutrients as well as aids in regular elimination. 

Fennel Seeds: Fennel seeds shares many of the same effects as cumin with some added benefit to aid in the movement of fluids through the body. Fennel is a fantastic aid in supporting the urinary tract, nervous system, muscles and menstruation. Fennel helps to calm the mind and increase clarity. 

Coriander (Cilantro): Coriander is a cooling digestive aid. It shares many of the same qualities as fennel and cumin, yet has an added benefit of reducing any extra heat in the body. This can range for reducing acidity in the GI tract to reducing the side effects of menopause. 

Ginger: Ginger is a universal medicine that is irreplaceable in nature, as well as in the kitchen. It is a digestive aid that also aids in the elimination of natural toxins in the body by liquifying ama (toxic build up). Ginger has a warming effect on the body, helping to reduce excess kapha and vata. It supports healthy circulation, regulates blood pressure and promotes cleansing. Ginger helps to support healthy lungs and comfortable breathing, removing excess kapha from the upper chest. 

Turmeric: Turmeric is another Indian spice thats benefits far exceed the majority of other herbs. Not only does turmeric help to promote digestion, kindle our digestive fire and clear accumulated toxins from the body; it also helps to cleanse the blood and reduce inflammation throughout. It also helps to regulate blood sugar and promote healthy intestinal flora. 

Natural Pink Salt: Natural pink salt does not cause water retention as readily as other types of salt and is unprocessed and packed with minerals, making it the best choice for Ayurvedic cooking. Salt enhances the digestive fire, helping to stimulate the appetite as well as strengthen our ability to digest. Salt helps to digest natural toxins and clears the subtle channels of the body. It is beneficial in reducing excess vata as it is very grounding. 

Asafoetida: Not a common spice found at any grocery store, but a crucial ingredient to many Indian dishes. Asafoetida is an antispasmodic (nervine), expectorant (reducing phlegm), natural laxative and sedative. In India cooking it is typically always found in dishes containing lentils or beans as it is an anti gas. In cooking asafoetida takes on the flavor of an onion.  

In addition to the rice, beans and spices- Kitchari includes a hearty amount of nutritious local, seasonal vegetables of your choice. Following Ayurvedic principles, it is ideal to eat in accordance to the season, luckily nature makes this easy by growing what we need. Buying local, organic foods will always insure that you are getting the support your body needs. 

 

Recipe:

Kitchari: 

75 minutes

 

3/4 cup basmati rice

1 cup beans (split mung dal, chickpeas, navy beans or adzuki beans)

5 cups water

1 inch minced ginger

2 tsp ghee or coconut oil 

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp coriander posder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 pinch asafoetida 

3-4 cups chopped seasonal vegetables (bitter greens, peppers, onions, leafy greens, brussel sprouts, broccoli, peas, carrots and celery)

1 cup chopped cilantro 

Soak beans overnight or up to 8 hours. Rinse the rice. In a large pot warm the oil (ghee or coconut) on medium heat. Add fennel, mustard and cumin seeds, salute seeds until they start to pop. Add the rest of the spices, finger, rice and mung beans. Stir well and then slowly begin to add the 6 cups of water and your choice of vegetables (hold leafy greens to be added closer to the end). Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover and cook until all ingredients are tender, about 45 minutes. Add fresh cilantro and salt to taste and serve. 

 

Enzymes and Agni

By Caitlin Rose

200hr E-RYT & Ayurvedic Counselor

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Agni is our ability to digest- not just food and water, but everything that we take in (Ahara). From food and drinks, to sensory impressions, conversations and emotions. Ayurveda emphasizes the role of Agni on a physical level and shows us how to balance our digestive fire as a means of physical health. It believes that all disease and imbalance is a product of an impaired Agni and we must put a lifetime of care into nurturing our Agni. Ayurveda explains that, “we are [not] what we eat, but what we are able to digest!” When our Agni is functioning optimally, we are able to take what we need efficiently and integrate it for utilization (assimilation) and properly discern that which we do not need and remove it (elimination). While the concept and role of Angi is vast, for todays purpose we will address Jatharagni- our digestive fire or our ability to digest food. 

Ayurveda is as complex as any science or medical modality, but can appear more daunting as many of the words are not in English and many of the concepts are not tangible, or so it may seem. When we begin to really dissect the science of Ayurveda, we begin to realize that most all concepts, terms and systems are within every medical system, we just call them different names and explain their function differently. Jatharagni, our ability to digest and assimilate nutrients from our food is the same function as our digestive enzymes. So weather it serves the mind better to discuss digestive enzymes or Jatharagni, know that they are one in the same. Now that we have clarified how our perception is hindering our ability to comprehend, let’s discuss the role Jatharagni plays in maintaining our health. 

Digestive enzymes are present throughout our entire digestive system, from our mouth through the small intestine. The enzymes in the mouth and stomach help to break down the different particles of our food (protein, carbohydrates or fats). The enzymes that are released in the duodenum along with the small intestine are more specific for discerning that which is assimilated into the body (or used for energy) or passed along into the colon for elimination. Despite the strength of an enzyme, they are quite sensitive and can be disabled or weakened by an excess or lack of acidity (high or low pH). This is the same as saying the our Agni is to too high or too low. If the enzyme or Agni function is disabled or hindered, this is the beginning of a ripple effect of disfunction throughout the body. This disfunction leads to Ama (undigested matter) throughout the body, starting in the small intestine. Ama (what closely relates to inflammation) is the root cause of suffering, disfunction and disease in the body and the mind.

Therefore, we must ask ourselves, how are my enzymes? How do I know if they are functioning optimally or if they are in a state of disfunction? Some glaring signs of disfunction are food allergies, bloating, gas and low energy. Ayurvedic wellness begins with addressing or accessing the state of ones Agni, recognizing that we are all born with a different makeup of digestive enzymes and from there we all alter them differently through our diet and lifestyles. This is why Ayurveda is unique, it recognizes that not everyone has the same enzymatic makeup and therefore should not all be treated the same way in regards to cultivating a functioning Agni or establishing a healthy diet. When the digestive enzymes are weakened from a poor diet, consisting of inorganic and processed matter, the undigested matter in our small intestine begins to accumulate. Unfortunately, this accumulation of undigested food over time hinders the absorption of vital nutrients and begins to rot. Rotting food in the intestinal tract puts an extra burden on the immune system, circulatory system and digestive organs. Undigested food in the intestinal tract is one of the major causes of degenerative diseases in the developed world. 

In Ayurveda, the amount of undigested food that accumulates is directly related to the quality of the enzyme function (or strength of the digestive fire- Agni) - if one is high, the other will be low. According to Ayurveda when our Agni is healthy, we will experience proper and regular elimination, stable health, steady weight, normal blood pressure, good immunity, sound sleep, high energy, a calm mind and strong vitality. This is why Ayurveda says that you are not what you eat, but what you are able to digest. 

If you believe that you are experiencing an enzyme disfunction, you probably are. The good news is that changing the way you eat along with a few lifestyle changes can start to reverse some of the accumulation of toxins that you have built up. One of the best things that you can do for yourself is to implement a week long cleanse to clear the body of accumulated toxins, reset your digestive enzymes, or ability to metabolize your food, and start living more Ayurvedically. 

If we are able to recognize that the goal is to have a highly functioning Agni, or enzymatic system, then we realize that we need to neutralize the acidity in our digestive system. This is done by following an alkaline diet consisting of whole plant based foods, dominant in fresh fruits and vegetables, while omitting all non organic, processed, acidic foods. Herbs are some of the best ways to restore proper function to our digestive enzymes. Some of the best herbs for enzymatic rejuvenation include cardamom, cumin, fennel, coriander, black pepper, dried ginger and fenugreek. When our Agni is functioning optimally all metabolic activities will follow. It is important to recognize that many aspects of our life outside of our diet also effect the pH of our digestive system. Lifestyle practices such as yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques and rest all play a part of cultivating a functioning metabolic system.

Ghee!

By Angela Glaz

500 Hour E-RYT

 

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What is ghee?

Ghee is clarified butter or oil made from unsalted butter that has been gently cooked and the milk solids removed. Because the milk solids are removed, the lactose is also removed, so those with a lactose allergy can also enjoy.

It is sweet in taste and cold in nature, which is the Ayurvedic concept of vipaka or taste conversion after digestion. Ghee is considered soothing, soft, and oily and can be consumed by all doshas, but is extremely beneficial for pacifying vata and pitta.  

Benefits

The Charaka Samhita, one of the classical texts of Ayurveda, states “the intake of ghee is prescribed for those whose bodily constitution is dominated by vata and pitta, who is suffering from diseases due to the vitiation of vata and pitta, those desirous of good eye sight, the old, children, the weak, those desirous of longevity, those desirous of strength, good complexion, voice, nourishment, progeny, tenderness of the body, luster, ojas [life-sustaining vitality], memory, intelligence, power of digestion, wisdom, proper functioning of sense organs, and those afflicted with injuries due to burns.” 

  • Enhances agni (healthy digestion)
  • Enhances the absorption of nutrients
  • Enhances the absorption of herbal medicines
  • Lubricates the body, nourishing the tissues and the nervous system
  • Promotes memory and intellect
  • Promotes the elimination of toxins within the body
  • Strengthens the sense organs and immunity
  • Improves strength and tone of the voice

How to make

  • In a medium to large size saucepan, cook 1lb of unsalted organic cultured butter for 10-15 minutes on low-medium heat.
  • Cook until bubbling stops and milk solids have settled at the bottom of the pan (brownish color).
  • Take off of heat and let cool.
  • Strain milk solids out via a cheesecloth into a glass jar.
  • To make ghee more beneficial for kapha, add a pinch of cinnamon or turmeric.
  • Ghee does not need to be refrigerated. 

Understanding the Doshas for Spring Cleansing

By Caitlin Rose

200hr E-RYT & Ayurvedic Counselor

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Ayurveda is a medical system that operates from a foundation that recognizes that every thing in the cosmos is comprised of the five elements; space, air, fire, water and earth. Those five elements combine into many different dosha types, with the three main dosha types being Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is comprised of the elements of air and space, Pitta is comprised of the elements of fire and water while Kapha is comprised of water and earth. These combinations of elements result in different, unique qualities that the three doshas express. This foundational understanding is where Ayurveda starts. 

One of the most valuable aspects of Ayurveda, that separates it from Western medicine, is that it recognizes that every single person has their own unique combination or quantities of the five elements within, making up their constitution or Prakruti. This is why Ayurveda requires self awareness and accountability, it asks us as individuals to fully understand and become familiar with our unique elemental make up. When we begin to understand our constitution, we begin to understand that our path to happiness and health will need to be unique in regards to how our elemental make up interacts with the elemental make up of the world around us. 

One important thing to note, is that every single person has all five elements within them and will therefore, in some degree, experience the qualities of those elements at some point. Just like we carry the capacity to express all five elements, nature and our environment do as well, which in effect, creates a constant ebb and flow of the dominant doshas in our life. With this understanding, we can move forward to begin to recognize that we must change the way we live our lives to maintain balance as the world changes around us, with specific respect to the seasons. 

 

The Doshas Relationship to Seasons 


Dosha                   Summer                 Fall                   Winter                 Spring 


Vata                                              Accumulates        Aggravates          Balanced


Pitta                  Aggravates           Balanced                                      Accumulates 


Kapha                 Balanced                                        Accumulates      Aggravates 


*Varies based on the hemisphere one lives in.

** When a dosha is accumulating naturally, we should be mindful not to aggravate it early. 

With this simple chart we can begin to see how to adjust our lifestyle and diet in accordance to maintaining balance throughout the year. The next step is to start to understand the different qualities that each dosha carries and how they show up for us mentally, physically and emotionally. For the purpose of this article, we will look at Spring. 

During the months of Spring, March through May in the Northern Hemisphere; Vata dosha is balanced, Pitta dosha is beginning to accumulate and Kapha dosha is aggravated. Therefore we will want to welcome more qualities of Vata into our life, while avoiding excess Kapha as well as being mindful of Pitta. Below are some general guidelines for diet and lifestyle for cultivating balance and the inevitable health and happiness that follow, during the months of Spring! 

Lifestyle

When we look at the seasonal cycles, we can begin to see that after a long Winter of slowing down, moving inward and collecting ourselves, we must practice spring cleaning (both internally and externally) so that we are able to move forward into a time of growth without anything weighing us down. If we take care of “cleaning house” during the spring, we will be set up to fully reach our potential and ignite our passions as we move into the summer, and hopefully continue to carry that health and happiness throughout the year. 

Start:

  • Waking up earlier 
  • Scraping your tongue
  • Journaling
  • Cleaning out your closet (literally)
  • Sweating: Through exercise, steam or sauna.
  • Practicing a more vigorous yoga practice
  • Energizing Pranayama Practices
  • Cultivating gratitude. 
  • Drinking more hot water and hot tea. 
  • To clean out your fridge and pantry of all heavy, processed, dairy and meat items. 

Diet & Nutrition

During the spring we want to help our body to push out the accumulated toxic build up that has resulted from our digestive fire burning low throughout the winter, while simultaneously igniting our Agni (digestive fire). Generally speaking, a spring time diet should consist of local, seasonal, fresh vegetables and fruits paired with nourishing grains and stimulating spices. The tastes that should be reduced or avoided are sweet, salty and sour; while the tastes of pungent, bitter and astringent should be increased. The qualities of the food should be more light, dry and rough while foods that are moist, oily and grounding should be limited. Try to incorporate some form of spice in every meal as they help to ignite the Agni. 

Start:

  • Being more mindful when eating (how does it make you feel).
  • Eating fresh and local fruits and vegetables. 
  • Eating all the bitter, leafy greens you can.
  • Cooking with ghee. 
  • Eating foods that intuitively carry the quality of lightness. 
  • Incorporating grains such as barley, buckwheat and millet. 
  • To avoid all processed, packages or stale foods (lacking vitality).
  • Eating smaller portions of everything.
  • To avoid snacks, allow your body time to digest and process food thoroughly. 
  • Adding warming spices like ginger, black pepper, cayenne and turmeric to your meals. 

 

 

Morning Rituals for Spring

By Caitlin Rose

200hr E-RYT & Ayurvedic Counselor

A morning ritual? Who has time for that? Life doesn't always present us the space that we would like to cultivate a morning ritual or routine, but instead of writing it off- try adding just one or two rituals per month to start. Read through this list of Ayurvedic Morning rituals and pick two that you can start tomorrow. Then next month, pick two more. 

Morning rituals set the stage for the day to come. Cleansing the mind and body so that it can take on the day with a lighter heart and less toxic build up. An Ayurvedic morning ritual is the first step in holistic care. Giving yourself just one hour at the start of everyday can help to reduce stress, ward off illness and cultivate the inherent health and happiness with. Give it a try! 

Wake up before 6am. 

In the early morning, before the sun has risen, Sattva Guna is most prevalent. The ideal time to wake is 1/2hr -1hr before the sun rises. Sattvic energy is the energy that we want to cultivate more of and this is the most opportune time to incorporate meditation. If we sleep past 6am we will be awakened during the Kapha time of day when the energies of Earth and Water are more present, this will result in a feeling of heaviness, lethargy and low energy throughout our day. 

Of course, we have to be logical in regards to getting enough sleep. If you are not able to go to bed before eleven, it is not logical for you to wake before 6am. Use your best judgment, prioritize getting enough sleep to waking up early, or try to go to bed by 10pm if possible. Ayurveda recommends a bedtime of 10pm, during the Kapha time of the evening when it is easier to fall asleep. 

Brush your teeth & scrape your tongue.

Cleaning the mouth first thing in the morning is best to help remove the accumulated toxins and bacteria that accumulated while you were sleeping. It is best to do this prior to consuming and liquids or food for your day, as they will act as carriers for the bacteria back into your body. 

Scrapping your tongue is one of the most simple ways you can help prevent toxins in your body. Scrapping the tongue helps to remove accumulated ama (white residue on top of the tongue) as well as helps to prevent bad breath. This should be done every time after brushing teeth. 

It is recommended that one uses a tongue scrapper that is made of gold, silver or copper. 

Clean your face & rinse your eyes.

Rinsing your face with warm water will not only feel great, but also wash away any accumulated dirt or excess oil from your skin from a nights rest. It will stimulate circulation, prevent breakouts and help discolorations of the skin to fade. 

During this time allow your eyes to cleanse as well, simply blink your eyes gently to allow some of the water to rinse your eyes. This will help to wash away any impurities from the night, improve your vision and prevent excess heat and redness in the eyes. 

Drink a glass of water. 

Drinking 8-16 oz of room temperature to warm water is ideal on an empty stomach. During the spring it is ideal to add 1-3 tbs of lemon juice to the water to help stimulate the Agni (digestive fire) as well as remove, or scrape, any accumulated ama (toxins) from the intestinal tract.

If you commonly suffer from spring time allergies, add a 1/2 tbs of honey to your class of warm water during your morning routine. Honey also helps to scrape ama (toxins) from inside the body, according to Ayurveda.  

Pranayama & Meditation.  

Taking just 5-10 minutes in the morning to become present, to quiet the mind before it takes on the day can alter the path of your day completely. Take time to connect to your breath; simple deep inhales and exhales, will help you to connect to the parasympathetic state of relaxation. Connecting to this place in the morning instills its accessibility into your mind for the rest of your day. 

If you are new to meditation, try taking this time to go through a list of what you are grateful for. Who knows, maybe that list a gratitude will one day turn into gratitude for stillness and silence and then stillness and silence themselves. 

Exercise. 

To balance the heaviness of kapha and encourage elimination of toxins through our skin, we have to work up a little sweat. This is the perfect time of year to run an extra mile, enjoy a sweaty yoga session, lift heavier weights, or take a lovely hot bath with a little essential oil. Some good essential oils for reducing excess Kapha dosha include: juniper, ginger, eucalyptus, clove and saffron Physical workouts coupled with steam saunas and hot baths help to flush out the stored toxins of winter.

Bathing (Optional Abhyanga/ Dry Scrub, Dry Brushing or Oil Pulling).

Depending on how much time you have in the morning, adding an additional therapy offers an opportunity to personalize your morning routine to how you are feeling that day. If you are feeling a bit in your head or have been experiencing extra stress in your life, try Abhyanga. If you have been feeling sluggish, heavy or unmotivated, try waking your body with a dry brush.  

Oil Pulling: During this time working on the outside of your body, it is a great time to do oil pulling. Oil pulling  helps to pull accumulated toxins out of the mouth and can be done anywhere from 5 minutes up to 20 minutes. Pulling oil daily can help reduce cavities, plaque and toxins, it also has an added benefit of whitening the teeth. Using a simple filtered coconut oil is recommended to those new to pulling as it has very little flavor. 

Abhyanga: Is a massage that can be done to oneself using either oil or dry herbs. Beginning at the extremities and working towards the heart, use long strokes on the limbs, circular motions on the joints and clock wise direction on the belly (following the path of the large intestines). Sesame oil is a great tridoshic oil (good for all doshas), although if there is a Kapha aggravation or it is during the spring, it is recommended that one adds a dry herb or chickpea flour to their oil to create extra stimulation. One can also use a dry scrub of calamus powder after their oil message to lift any excess oil from the skin, which otherwise is fine to leave on the skin. 

Some benefits of Abhyanga include: 

- Strengthening the body, increasing stamina and toning the muscles. 

- Pacifies Vata dosha (oil). 

- Pacifies Kapha dosha (dry powder).

- Calms the mind and helps to promote sound sleep and less stress.

Dry Brushing: Dry brushing is great to add to any daily bathing routine as it doesn't take much time and can be done while one is in the shower or bath. Using a natural bristled brush, brush in the same pattern as one would do Abhyanga. 

Some benefits of Dry Brushing include:

- Stimulating the lymphatic system (reducing illness an inflammation while promoting vitality and increasing immunity).

- Stimulates cellular rejuvenation.

- Improves circulation.

- Exfoliates impurities from the skin. 

- Reduces cellulite and reduces fat accumulation. 

- Improves digestion and kidney function. 

Breakfast. 

Try to eat a freshly cooked, warm breakfast. Portion size should be enough to satisfy but not to make you feel full or heavy. Some great Ayurvedic breakfast ideas are quinoa porridge, seasoned barley, savory oatmeal or kitchari. When life doesn't allow for a freshly cooked breakfast, try preparing breakfast the night before and reheating it on the stove in the morning. Try to avoid cold, difficult to digest foods first thing in the morning. 

Savory Oatmeal: 

15 minutes 

 

1 tbs ghee

1/2 tsp asafetida

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fresh minced ginger or 1/2 tsp ginger powder

1 C seasonal vegetables (bitter greens, peppers, onions, leafy greens, brussel sprouts, broccoli, peas, carrots and celery)

1/2 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp coriander powder 

1 1/4 C water

Add ghee, asafetida, ginger and cumin seeds to a pot on medium heat. Simmer for 30 seconds. Add chopped seasonal vegetables and sauté until them start to soften. Add oats, coriander and turmeric powder, stir well. Add water and cover, cook until the oats are the consistency you are seeking, about 7-10 minutes.  

Quinoa porridge: 

25 minutes

 

1 C quinoa 

1/2 tbs ghee

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/4 tsp salt 

2 cups water

Wash 1 cup quinoa thoroughly. Heat 1/2 tbs ghee over medium heat and sauté a pinch of cumin seeds until the aroma starts to come out. Add the quinoa and mix well. Add 1/4 tsp salt and 2 cups hot water. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn heat to a simmer and cover. Let cook for about 15-20 minutes. 

Seasoned Barley:

1 Hour

 

1/2 C barley 

3 C water

1/2 burdock root or 1 tbs dried root

1/4 tsp salt or bullion

1/4 stick kombu

1/2 tsp dried sage

1/2 tsp ghee

1/2 tsp black pepper

Add 1/2 cup dry barley, 3 cups water, 1/2 burdock root (washed, peeled and finely chopped), 1/4 tsp salt or 1/2 teaspoon bullion, and 1/4 stick kombu in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to medium low. Cook until tender, 40-50 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp dry sage, ghee and black pepper and allow it to simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Makes about 2-3 servings. 

Kitchari: 

75 minutes

 

3/4 cup basmati rice

1 cup beans (mung beans, chickpeas, navy beans or adzuki beans)

6 cups water

1 inch minced ginger

2 tsp ghee or coconut oil 

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp coriander posder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 pinch asafoetida 

3-4 cups chopped seasonal vegetables (bitter greens, peppers, onions, leafy greens, brussel sprouts, broccoli, peas, carrots and celery)

1 cup chopped cilantro

Soak beans overnight or up to 8 hours. Rinse the rice. In a large pot warm the oil (ghee or coconut) on medium heat. Add fennel, mustard and cumin seeds, salute seeds until they start to pop. Add the rest of the spices, finger, rice and mung beans. Stir well and then slowly begin to add the 6 cups of water and your choice of vegetables (hold leafy greens to be added closer to the end). Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover and cook until all ingredients are tender, about 45 minutes. Add fresh cilantro and salt to taste and serve. 

 

Why Cleanse in the Spring?

By Caitlin Rose

200hr E-RYT & Ayurvedic Counselor

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First off, let’s answer the more glaring question, “Why Cleanse at All?” Modern day cleanses are quite counter productive in the fact that they are more depleting, then they are nourishing. Ayurvedic cleanses work from the knowledge of what humans need from our environment, diet and lifestyle to become balanced, healthy and happy. Cleansing, in Ayurveda, is a time of breaking patterns and habits that are not serving the whole individual; body, mind and spirit. It is a time of working though all of our undigested thoughts, emotions and experiences as well as optimizing our ability to digest as we reboot our metabolism and then allow the body to flush out the accumulated toxins. We cleanse in Ayurveda, because the environment around us is changing and we recognize the necessity in changing with it. We cleanse because we live in a modern world where it is easy to let our values, needs and schedules get lost in the chaos of keeping up. We cleanse because Ayurveda shows us how beautiful this life can be when we honor the fact that we are organic beings that thrive when we choose to live in accordance with nature. So, why cleanse in the Spring?

Here is what happened to your body this winter: your digestive fire (agni) slowed as the temperature dropped and sun rarely showed its rays, you added more difficult to digest foods to your diet as you celebrated the holidays, family and friends, you started to feel heavy and sluggish as the days grew short and the elements of earth and water accumulated within, your low digestive fire hindered your metabolism and weakened your immunity causing you to become sick, weak or low in energy and now the days are growing longer, your inner fire is starting to grow and you are ready to take action. Am I close? 

In Ayurveda, we see the cold months as times to slow down, to retreat, to reboot. Unfortunately, this needs to be done mindfully as to not have these aforementioned side effects. Now, as the “freeze” is coming to an end, things within the body (and maybe your life too) are starting to thaw and you are beginning to see some movement in your life. As the thaw continues, these accumulated toxins are going to become stickier and heavier, it then becomes our job to increase the inner fire, reboot our metabolism and clean up so that we can flush them out before they turn into spring allergies, colds and weight gain. 

As Spring will arrive on the 21st of March this year, the month of March is great time to take action. To start to clean up the diet, removing any inorganic, processed foods and incorporate local, organic, simple cooked foods back into the diet. It’s a great time to cultivate a routine, starting our days with cleansing (the mind and body), taking our activities outdoors, questioning how we spend our time and honestly checking in with what we want and what we want to let go of. Cleansing during the spring is the perfect way to reboot, reignite and reestablish the path we are on while clearing out any stagnation from winter and boosting our vitality and energy as we move towards longer, spring time days.

An Ayurvedic Consultation

By Caitlin Rose 

200 Hour E- RYT & Ayurvedic Counselor

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Dosha tests are a great place to begin to understand the different qualities of the three doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Unfortunately, they do not give you solid insight into your true Prakruti; our inherent dosha make up. The problem is not the dosha test itself, but our shared social construct that some qualities are good and others are bad. Our society creates boxes for us to fit into, and those boxes tend to be Pitta- Vata dominant, with an aversion to the qualities of Kapha. When individuals first come to the practice of yoga and Ayurveda, they have yet to do the work to understand and accept their qualities just as they are. Therefore dosha tests are great at showing us our Vikruti, which is our current imbalanced state of doshas. An Ayurvedic consultation is the ideal solution to finding the acceptance and understanding of our true Prakruti, so that we can truly begin our path towards the health and happiness that we desire. 

Benefits of Working with an Ayurvedic Counselor:

  • Unfiltered observations of your reality vs your social construct. 
  • Work to understand any aversions towards your Prakruti.
  • Begin to find clarity and insight into how you can utilize your Prakruti to find success. 
  • Realize that no qualities are bad and all qualities are good, if you live accordingly. 
  • Cultivate a genuine relationship with an experienced practitioner who will help give you support as you continue to live more Ayurvedically. 

Take a Dosha Test

Book a Consultation

Prenatal Cheat Sheet

By Nancy Lea

200 Hour E-RYT

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As a yoga instructor it is our job to keep our students safe during their practice
and this becomes particularly important when an expectant mother joins one of
our classes. At first you are pleased that this mom- to-be is continuing or maybe
just beginning a yoga practice. Practicing yoga postures helps them to stretch
and create space in the body, get gentle exercise and strengthen and prepare
the body and mind for labor. However, this can quickly turn into anxiety if you are
unclear about which postures are safe, which postures are not and ways to
modify postures so they not only not injure but also benefit the student on her
journey towards birth and beyond.


Benefits of yoga during pregnancy:

Yoga is an activity that helps increase the qualities of Sattva in the mother and
baby. These include clarity, peacefulness, awareness, positivity, gentleness,
compassion and LOVE.

  • Yoga asana is a wonderful to way to build up and maintain strength, stamina and vitality all of which are needed for labor, childbirth and beyond into parenthood.
  • Many postures can help to soothe and even alleviate common physical discomforts such as tightness or pain in the hips or low back, sciatic pain and tightness in the shoulders or neck, swelling and constipation.
  • Breath awareness (pranayama) helps to soothe anxiety, fear and stress. Many gentle pranayama techniques can be used to keep women calm and relaxed and to work through discomfort during labor and childbirth.
  • Meditation teaches women to be present to the changes in their bodies, to the amazing process of growing a baby and to the capacity and innate wisdom of their bodies to give birth and raise a child.

Postures that should be avoided or modified during pregnancy: 


Some women enter into pregnancy as very experienced practitioners and are
able to continue with very few modifications (at least in the first and possibly the
second trimesters) but in general these are the guidelines for postures and
movements that are contraindicated for pregnant women:

  • Intense pranayama practices like Kapalabhati or Kumbhaka (holding the breath). Some teachers caution against Ujjayi pranayama because it can lower blood pressure. Students should be aware that if they feel light headed or dizzy, they should release this practice and just breathe with awareness.
  • Intense backbends such as Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel), Ustrasana (camel) or Urdhva Mukha Svasana (upward facing dog). These can cause overstretching in the abdominal area and even separation of the abdominal muscles (diastasisrecti).
  • Some abdominal strengthening exercise such as crunches which can cause pressure and compression on the uterus and/or baby. This can also include plank, cueing to engage the core, stepping or jumping forward from Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog).
  • Deep, closed twists which again can cause compression.
  • Lying prone (directly on the belly) due to pressure on the baby.
  • Lying supine or on the right side due to pressure on the vena cava vein. This can cut off blood flow to the heart and cause dizziness or shortness of breath.
  • Inversions: Down dog and Viparita Karani are safe. Other inversions can be risky even if the student has been practicing for many years. It's best to be cautious for the relatively short time you are pregnant.
  • Intense heat. This can cause dehydration but some women who are accustomed to heat or a heated practice may be able to tolerate it.
  • Be mindful of balance: a pregnant woman’s center of gravity is different during pregnancy and she may need to modify some standing postures by increasing the distance between the feet. The wall is also a great prop for standing balances to prevent falling. Arm balances probably require too much core engagement and there is also the risk of falling.

Postures that can be practiced during pregnancy:

 

  • Gentle pranayama such as Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril), Dirga (3 part breath) and mindful, deep, slow breathing.
  • Modified backbends such as supported bridge pose, tabletop, pose of joy (1 leg extended, 1 bent, lift up onto shin and open front body), Ustrasana (camel) variation (on shins, knees bent, hands behind body and gently press hips up).
  • Safe abdominal strengthening such as opposite limb extension. Cueing Mula Bandha (pelvic floor engagement) rather than Uddiyana Bandha (low belly engagement). You can also remind your student that most standing postures and balancing postures require a certain amount of core stability and engagement and this is enough to keep them strong during pregnancy.
  • Open twists: twisting away from the bent knee or taking a wide stance in a lunge twist so there is plenty of room for the expanding belly. Using a block under the bottom hand in the lunge twist helps to create more space as well. You can also offer twists from hands and knees towards thread the needle or Parivrtta Prasarita Paddotanasana.
  • Standing posture: lunges, warriors (try warrior 3 with both hands on blocks),
  • Utkatasana, Parsvakonasana, Trikonasana, Parsvottanasana and Goddess.
  • Standing balances: Vrksasana, Ardha Chandrasana, Natarajasana,
  • Creative Surya Namaskar or Chandra Namaskar (sun and moon salutations)omitting plank, chaturanga, up dog or cobra.
  • Seated postures: Baddha Konasana, Janu Sirasana, Agnistambhasana
  • Shoulder and chest openers: Gomukasana (cow face) arms, Garudasana (eagle) arms and Yoga Mudra.
  • Pelvic tilts and circles: cat/cow or standing in modified chair pose. These are wonderful movements to teach expectant moms to use to during labor.
  • Adho Mukha Svansana (down dog), Balasana (child’s pose) and Malasana (squat).
  • Savasana variations: Side lying on the left side with a bolster between the legs,
  • Queen’s Pose (lying back over a bolster) or Viparita Karani with a bolster or folded blanket underneath the sacrum.

Golden Milk

Why you should try it

  • Promotes healthy digestion
  • Gives relief from colds and coughs
  • Holds antiviral properties - strengthens immunity
  • curcumin in turmeric is a purifier: clarifies the skin, detoxes our blood and liver.
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Ingredients

  • 1cup of Milk or coconut milk (an Angela favorite)
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2-1tbs. of coconut oil
  • Agave or honey to taste
  • 1 pinch of black pepper

Directions

  • Begin to heat milk medium to medium-high heat.
  • While milk is heating, add turmeric, ginger, and coconut oil.
  • Pour into cup and add sweetener and black pepper to taste.

Kitchari

By Angela Glaz

500 Hour E-RYT and Founder of Eka Yoga

 

Kitchari is a traditional Ayurvedic dish that’s known for providing a ton of nutrients to the body while at the same time pushing out the toxins. In India, kitchari is a regular household meal, but it’s also often used to heal those who are sick because it is so easy to digest – soothing the belly and healing the gut wall so nutrients can be better absorbed. 

  A Kitchari cleanse is typically done for 3-7 days (eating only Kitchari), depending on the individual’s schedule and the amount of cleansing needed to be performed.  Ideally, this is a planned out regimen that will allow the system to ease into the cleanse and eventually ease out of it. Begin to phase out refined sugar, processed food, caffeine, etc. at least 7 days before the cleanse and continue to keep out of diet 7 days after cleanse. 

 * Please note: If you are not careful, a cleanse can do more harm than good, further destroying the digestive system and depleting the energy levels. It's recommended to try it for 1-2 days to see how your body reacts to the cleanse before going for a full 7 days. A cleanse of any kind should be avoided during menstruation.

Prep Time: 20-30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 5-6

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Ingredients

¾  cup Basmati Rice

1 cup Mung Beans (Tri-Doshic) - Soak over night in 2 inches of water before cooking

* Mung Beans are normally good for all three doshas, but if you notice the kitchari has made your digestion worse, try switching to another legume. 

- Vata: Red Lentils 

- Pitta: Chick Peas, Kidney Beans, Pinto Beans

- Kapha: Chick Peas, Navy Beans, Adzuki Beans

6 cups Water

½ to 1 inch Ginger Root (chopped or minced)

2 tsp. Ghee or Coconut oil (traditionally ghee is used)

¼ tsp. mineral salt

½  tsp. Coriander Powder

½ tsp. Cumin Powder

½ tsp. Turmeric Powder

½  tsp. Whole Cumin Seeds

½  tsp. Mustard Seeds

1 pinch Asafoetida (hing)

* Asafoetida that is not made with fillers is hard to come by in the U.S. I recommend the Banyan Botanicals Kitchari Mix – The mix includes the spices listed above in addition to the Asafoetida.

3-4 cups Chopped Vegetables (Choose according to body constitution’s needs)

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

 

Directions

Rinse rice and mung dal – soak mung dal over night or up to 8 hours.

In a large pot (big enough to add all ingredients and 6 cups of water) warm the ghee/coconut oil on medium heat.

Add fennel, mustard and cumin seeds, sauté seeds until they start to pop.  Once seeds start to pop, add the rest of the spices, ginger, rice, and mung beans.

Cover rice and mung beans completely in ghee/coconut oil and spices. Slowly add the six cups of water and your choice of vegetables (any leafy greens can be added toward the end) and bring water to a boil. Once the kitchari has reached a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until all ingredients are tender (45 minutes).

Add fresh cilantro and salt to taste.

 

Kitchari Benefits

  • Mung Dal (Split Yellow Peas) – Mung Dal is high in protein and fiber. It’s filled with tons of nutrients and vitamins, including; iron, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B.  Mung Dal is the only legume that is Vata balancing. This means that the legume will not cause gas. Wooohoo!
  • Basmati Rice – Long grain rice is both easier to digest and has a lower glycemic index than other varieties of rice.
Did you know…
With popular diets like “Atkins” and “Paleo”, carbohydrates have gotten a bad name. However, when you eat beans with rice you are creating a complete protein and actually getting more from beans than you would without the rice.
  • Asafoetida (Hing) – Asfafoetida comes from the root of the ferula species or the carrot family. It’s mighty stinky before you cook it, but delicious when cooked and packed with nutrients. Benefits include: eliminates flatulence (add a small sprinkle to any variety of beans to help reduce excess indigestion or gas created from the legume), holds anti-inflammatory properties, helps provide relief from menstrual cramps, lowers blood sugar, helps control high blood pressure, and is a powerful anti-oxidant. 
  • Increases the digestive capacity
  • Removes toxins from the system
  • Removes heaviness and congestion from the body
  • Removes heaviness and congestion from the mind
  • Enhances the “Satvic” (balanced) state of an individual
  • Enhances energy and feelings of wellness (prior to the cleanse; during the cleanse one may experience low energy due to the flushing of toxins and mild diet)
  • Increases one’s confidence and motivation levels

Abhyanga

I was first introduced to Abhyanga in India as the Ayurvedic ritual of self-massage. The ritual suggests massaging your entire body, beginning at the crown of your head and working your way to your feet.  While performing, you should massage up along your arms and legs (moving toward your heart), massage in an upward circular motion around face and joints, and massage in a clockwise motion around your stomach and chest.

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The benefits of abhyhanga include:

·      Increased circulation (specifically at nerve endings)

·      Lubrication of the joints,

·      Elimination of toxins from the body

·      Makes deep tissues soft and supple, helping to remove stress and nourish the nervous system

·      Helps reduce cases of pain, debility, and stiffness

·      Helps reduces fatigue

·      Increased energy levels

·      Soft and healthy skin.

As one who is vata dominant (prone to: dry skin, achy joints, poor circulation, and insomnia), I took the ritual home with me and made it a part of my routine.

I’ve now been practicing abhyanga for several years and have undoubtedly seen its benefits. That being said, there are definitely evenings when I wished it wasn’t a self-massage, but me receiving a massage.

Ask and you shall receive

A few months ago, a magical wellness center, by the name of Natural Rhythms Integrative Health, opened their doors to serve those seeking alternative or holistic health care, and sure enough they offer Abhyanga!

Without skipping a bit, I made an appointment with the lovely Afrin Sopariwala, and here’s what happened…

The experience

I arrived feeling a bit sweat, hungry, and frantic, as it had just been one of those days. I was greeted and offered water or tea while Afrin finished preparing the room. When we made our way to the treatment room, Dr. Anup Mulakaluri joined us for my pre-treatment consult.   My consult included some general health intake questions, but also questions that checked in with my recent mental and emotional state of being.  Both Dr. Anup and Afrin took their time talking to me and truly seemed interested in helping me find the happy and healthy Angela that got lost somewhere in the business of life.

Lastly, Dr. Anup performed an Ayurvedic pulse reading , an amazing experience on it’s own, and gave me some self-care homework before sending me off into pure bliss!

When I finally made my way onto the table, I was treated to a full-body application of warm, medicated oil, used to pacify the doshas.  Afrin began the massage at the crown of my head and then made her way down to the soles of my feet. Extra care was taken on the soles of the feet because that’s where important marma points lie. Marma points are the pathways that lead to the inner body and signal it to produce exactly what it needs to heal. Healing is exactly what I experienced during this Abhyanga session, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I felt amazing through the entire massage and like a ball of mush when I got off the table.

If you’re in need of some self self-care and nourishment with practitioners that care, look no further. 

For more on Natural Rhythms Integrative Medicine 

 

 

Ayurvedic Sweets and Snacks

By Angela Glaz

500 Hour E-RYT and Founder of Eka Yoga

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Kheer (Rice Pudding)

What is Kheer

Kheer is a traditional Indian dessert and from an ayurvedic perspective, it is light and cooling, which is beneficial for the Pitta dosha. The dessert is usually made with some type of grain (rice, cornmeal, creamed wheat), milk, cardamom, saffron, nutmeg, rosewater, natural sweetener, and some type of nut. 

Traditionally, it is served with meals rather than after a meal, as it may cause congestion and sinus problems - Kapha imbalances. 

I make this dish often and I usually switch the recipe up every time I do. However, after raving reviews and requests for my last batch's recipe, here it is! 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 4 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tsp rosewater
  • 1 tbsp cardamom
  • 2 tbsp agave 
  • 1/8 cup chopped cashews
  • 1/8 cup shredded coconut

Directions

  • Soak rice in water for 2 hours, drain, and rinse.
  • Bring rice and coconut milk to a boil in a medium sized sauce pot. Once at a boil, turn to low and cover.
  • When rice and coconut milk are no longer at a boil, add rosewater, cardamom, agave, cashews, and coconut. Let simmer until rice is fully cooked or soft. 

Ayurvedic Sweet Potatoes

I don't think you'll find this recipe in any traditional Ayurvedic cook book. This was a cooking experiment that went way right!

I like to call this recipe the 4 C's because it includes the magically wonderful spices: cardamom, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon. 

Cardamom is sweet,  pungent, and heating. It is good for both Kapha and Vata, as it helps increase agni or our digestive fire. 

Cumin is pungent, bitter, and cooling. It is good for all three doshas and for maintaining digestive health. It also helps with the absorption of minerals in the small intestines, the release of gas, and can be used as a mild pain reliever.

Coriander is sweet, astringent, and cooling. It is good for all three doshas. It can be used as a diuretic and can help reduce fevers. 

Cinnamon is sweet pungent and heating. It is balancing both vata and kapha, but can over stimulate pitta. It is good for digestion, the removal of toxins, and improving circulation. 

Ingredients

  • One large sweet potato
  • 1 tbps ghee
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp corriander
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • Sea Salt (to taste)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Chop potato into small cubes or slice (the thicker the pieces, the longer they will take to cook).
  • Place chopped potatoes into a large mixing bowl.
  • Melt ghee and pour over potatoes. Stir until potatoes are covered.
  • Add spices. Stir until potatoes are covered.
  • Spread potatoes across a large non-stick baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are soft. 

Malas and Mantras

By Angela Glaz

500 Hour E-RYT and Founder of Eka Yoga

Less than a year ago, I opened the doors to Eka Yoga, a Seattle based yoga studio themed around the doshas of Ayurveda. Opening those doors was one of the most exciting and terrifying things I have done.  I worked a full time job in addition to teaching an average of 6 yoga classes per week for nearly 5 years to make Eka a reality, so to have my life savings disappear in a matter of a few months was nerve racking. To be honest, the entire experience made me sick.

I knew owning a business was going to be tough, but not this tough. However, despite my worries and the challenges I've faced thus far, I've managed to hold my head high through it all with the help of a few simple mantras and my Japa Mala.

Because I've had such luck with the prayer-like activity, I thought I'd share my experience, the history of the Japa Mala, and some of my favorite mantras, hoping that these tools can help others just as much as they've helped me.

We’ve all experienced “the hard knocks of life” or stress. We could be the best decision makers in the world, but despite our best intentions shit still happens -- and sometimes it happens all at once; the dog gets an eye infection, grandma is put in the hospital, a co-worker quits, and the last roll of toilet paper has  run out.  If we are not being mindful, when we experience these stressors, our bodies react instinctually in one of two ways – fight or flight.  

1. Fight - We power through and don’t look back. When we react to situations in this way, we are not taking the time to digest our experiences properly and when we don’t properly digest our experiences, it’s like being emotionally constipated. Emotions pile up within us until there’s no more room. When there’s no more room, they end up coming out, but they come out in the form of an illness.

2. Flight - We retreat to a space that makes us think that we can’t handle our stressor.  When we retreat, we are mentally giving up hope and when hope is lost, depression occurs. The further we retreat, the deeper we get and the deeper we get, the harder it is to get out.

If we relate these two stress responses to the Ayurvedic Doshas, you’ll find that Pittas tend to power through, Vatas tend to retreat, and Kaphas are somewhere in between.

For more on Ayurveda and the Doshas: www.ekayogaseattle.com/ayurveda/

Being Vata dominant myself, I know that I am prone to getting stuck in my own head and caught up in judgmental thought patterns.  When I’m faced with an abundance of stress, I want to retreat, I want to cry, I want to give up. There are times I do retreat and cry, but I don’t give up. I keep my head high and regain the momentum to keep moving forward with the help of a mantra - a single word or a short phrase.

Perhaps it’s the Catholic School girl in me that continually brings me back to the prayer-like motion; maybe it’s just the magic of routine and repetition? The magical part being, that through routine and repetition, I’ve become more confident and focused.  I’ve seen how daily dedication can result in body and mind transformation that cultivates great momentum and motivation to continue moving forward.  

What is a Japa Mala?

In Sanskrit, Japa means to recite and Mala means prayer beads. The Japa Mala is traditionally used in prayer and meditation and consists of 18, 27, 54, or 108 beads.  Malas are also referred to as mala beads, Buddhist beads or Buddhist prayer beads. They are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra.

What is a mantra?

A mantra is a word or phrase that is repeated to aid in concentration. It can be anything that you can easily remember, repeat, and connect to.  In Dharmic traditions, mantras are used for everything - illness, pain, stress, prosperity, fertility, etc.

While a mantra doesn’t have to be Sanskrit, there is a rich history and numerous benefits to reciting one in in the ancient language.

Mythologically speaking, Sanskrit is said to be the language of the gods. The language that connects human-beings to their higher selves. Historically speaking, Sanskrit is believed to have been  developed by observing the natural progression of sounds created in the human mouth, thus making sound and pronunciation an integral part of the language.

When reciting a mantra in Sanskrit, pronunciation and rhythm are more important than knowing what the mantra actually means. Traditionally, the purpose of saying a mantra aloud is to cultivate the energy vibrations associated with it.  By enunciating Sanskrit words and vibrating a certain combination of sounds, our tongue is pressing itself into particular areas of the mouth (this pressure is much like acupressure), sending signals to the hypothalamus in the brain. This part of the brain regulates chemical activity in all areas of our body, which in turn can help relieve pain, reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure… the list goes on.  

Although ancient yogis may not have known what a hypothalamus was, heck… I don’t think I do  they  recognized the effects that sounds and mantras had on the body and mind.  One point for the ancient yogis!

My Favorite Mantras:

Bija Mantras or Seed Sounds

LAM (Pronounced as lum) - Associated with the root chakra. Good for cultivating grounding energy.

VAM (Pronounced vum as in thumb) – Associated with the sacral chakra. Good for cultivating courage.

RAM (Pronounced rum) – Associated with the solar plexus chakra. Good for cultivating self-esteem.

YAM (Pronounced yum) – Associated with the heart chakra. Good for cultivating love and compassion.

HAM(Pronounced hum) – Associated with the throat chakra. Good for cultivating good communication.

AUM (Pronounced um) – Associated with the third eye chakra. Good for cultivating inner wisdom.

AH (Pronounced ah as in aha)– Associated with the crown chakra. Good for letting go or releasing.

The Bija mantras are one-syllable seed sounds that, when recited, activate the energy of the chakras, which in turn help cultivate physical, mental, and emotional balance. According to the Puranas, (ancient Indian literature and folklore), the universe was created out of the sound AUM and the body can be recreated through a series of sounds.  According to recent work in quantum physics, science proves that the universe was indeed made of sound.  Another point for ancient yogis!

So… if we are truly composed of sound and we lose our rhythm, we’re going to lose our physical, mental, and emotional health as well. Think of your body as a band. If one musician is off by a single beat , the song will sound slightly off.  If all of the musicians are off by a beat, the song is going to sound horrible.   If your body is a band, you want everything to sync up and harmonize to create happiness and health.

Ganesh Mantra - Om Gan Ganpate Namaha

Ganesh is the well-known Hindu elephant deity. He is the remover of obstacles and the lord of good fortune and new beginnings.  There are several different Ganesh mantras, but this one in particular is meant to help remove obstacles and bring success.  

Shivaya Mantra - Om Namah Shivaya

Shiva is the deity of transformation who represents the true and highest form of self. This mantra is meant to help cultivate self-confidence and compassion.

Shanti Mantra - Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Normally, this mantra is recited at the beginning or at the end of a larger mantra or prayer, but as it is a mantra to invoke peace and bliss, there’s never a bad time to do it.

I got this - I got this

That’s it, that’s the mantra. When I’m feeling overwhelmed and that feeling of wanting to retreat, I repeat to myself “I got this” until I believe it.

How to practice a mantra:

1. Find a quiet and comfortable space to practice.

2. Smudge or clear the energy of that space. I like to light some Sage, or Palo Santo and use a space that is clean and clear of clutter.

3. Set an intention. By taking the time to dedicate your practice to something, you may be able to focus more intently and achieve a deeper state of meditation.

4. Choose a mantra that correlates to what you’re trying to achieve. 5. Repeat your mantra a minimum of 3 times or any number that can be divided into 108 (18, 27, 54).  When reciting your mantra, you can use your Japa Mala as a tool to help keep count. The above is the traditional way of practicing mantras and it’s a lovely way, but the truth is, most of us don’t keep a stick of sage in our backpacks and we don’t always have space or the time to recite our mantras 108 times.  At any given time, if you feel a mantra will positively change your state of being, recite that mantra! You can recite it aloud or to yourself. You can recite it in a quiet and serene place or you can recite in on your bus ride home from work. If you need it, use it.

Listen to your Gut: Shishir (Seattle Addition)

By LeLa Becker

200 Hour E-RYT and Tantra Life Coach

Ayurveda is acknowledging and adjusting the elements within us to energetically align with the elements outside of us and in our environment. Imagine we our microcosms within a massive macroscosm. In Tantra-a study/practice deeply rooted in Ayurveda- it is called “purna”, meaning “whole’.  We chant “this is whole, from the wholeness comes the whole. If the whole is removed the wholeness remains.” Meaning we are one in the same. We are connected to the environment around us because it is us and we are it. So obtain optimum health and live a balance life we must learn how to pacify and balance ourselves within the universe. There are three pillars to Ayurveda: Ahar (diet), Swapna (rest and relaxation), and Brahmacharya (control of desires). There are also three doshas: Vata (Air), Pitta (fire), and Kapha (earth) Know your Dosha by taking this test (http://www.ekayogaseattle.com/doshatest/).

It is important to adjust ones rutacharya (daily routine) to what is happening within our environment and then within our lives. It is a practice much like taking ahimsa (ending harmful deeds and thoughts) learned on the mat and into our worlds. Life is a practice and we can only do the best we can to be happy, healthy and free. Shishir (winter) Cold increases in this season. The weather becomes more dry and rough. In this season you have to follow a regimen that gives attention to the cold and Vata. It is currently the Shishir (winter) in Seattle. It is cold and wet. This is very Vata environment. For the purpose of this article I will address each dosha in a vata environment.

Vata

 If you tested Vata for your dosha and you are living in a Vata environment, then you have the potential to get extremely “vata-ed” out. You may find yourself unable to concentrate or sleep. Spinning in circles and not being able to catch your footing. Balance these days with warm and grounding exercise and food. Quinoa cooked in organic Beef Bone Broth. A hearty, spicy, and spice filled potato stew. Add Ghee to your coffee or morning tea. Use cinnamon, cardamom and ginger when ever possible. I advise rubbing warm sesame seed oil into your skin, especially on the bottoms of your feet. Wear a scarf around your neck and cover your ears when going outside.

Northern India Vata Chai recipe: Add dried herbs to a dry sauce pan: 3 whole cloves, 1 bay leaf, 1 Star of Anise, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp of cardamom seeds, and 1 tsp of peppercorns swirl in pan until you can smell the essential oils seep out of the herbs. Then add about 5 cups of water. My favorite part is when the cold water hits the hot pan coated in the herb’s essential oils and the fragrant steam bellows into the air. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn off, stir in loose black tea and a generous amount of crushed fresh ginger. Allow to seep for 5 minuets then strain out herbs and add water to 5 cups of warm Hemp, Cashew, Almond Milk, or Whole Raw Milk. Add Honey or Stevia to sweeten. Add 1 tsp of Ghee if you are extra cold.

Pitta

 If you tested Pitta and you live in a Vata environment this is your time to shine. It is cool enough where it could balance your firey pitta. Although there is still a potential of being “vata-ed” out depending on how well you are maintaining your pitta. Pittas are fire and water. The water element in a Seattle winter could throw your dosha in one way or another. The best thing to do is acknowledge how you feel that day, maybe even retake the dosha test on the website to see where you register at that moment. If you are cold and showing symptoms of being “vata-ed” out: a lack of concentration or running around in an unproductive circle, then you may need to raise your pitta. Focus on eating plates that are similar to steamed kale, garlic and red lentils add a small amount of ghee and paprika. If you are noticing that you are getting angry easily and having more internal upset such as heartburn then take a break from red meats, spice and fermented products (ie: beer and sauerkraut). Think about eating foods that are cooling like chic peas, plain yogurt, cilantro, and cucumbers. Use an extra bit of salt when ever possible. I advise rubbing coconut or sweet almond oil into your skin, especially on the back of your neck. Drink warm water with a fresh ginger slice and fresh mint leaves.

Pitta Chai recipe: Add dried herbs to a sauce pan with 5 cups of water: 1 tsp of Cardamom Seeds, 2 tsp of Fennel, 1 tsp Licorice Root, 1 tsp Coriander Seeds, 1 tsp of fenugreek seeds, 2 strains of saffron (opt) and generous amount of crushed ginger Bring to a boil, strain out herbs and add water to 5 cups of warm Coconut, Almond Milk or Skim Milk. Add a ½ tsp of Rose Water. Add Raw Cane Sugar or Stevia to sweeten.

Kapha

If you tested kapha and you live in a Vata environment. Be careful it is very easy to hibernate during this season. Kaphas are the earth-cool and moist-because our environment is cold and most it might tilt our kapha to excess. It is important to watch your kapha tendencies in this season. Rub Toasted Sesame Seed Oil all over the body, pay special attention to the belly. Get up and go for a walk.

Southern India Kapha Chai Recipe: Add dried herbs to a dry sauce pan: 3 whole cloves, 1 bay leaf, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp of cardamom seeds, 1 tsp of peppercorns, ½ vanilla bean pod and 3 mustard seeds Swirl in pan until you can smell the essential oils seep out of the herbs. Then add about 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn off, stir in loose black or green tea and a generous amount of crushed fresh ginger. Allow to seep for 5 minuets then strain out herbs and add water to 5 cups of warm Almond, Coconut, Rice or 2% Milk. Add Stevia to sweeten.

Stay warm, eat right, meditate, practice love.

Namaste

Surround yourself with people who spark your soul-How to live your most passionate life

By LeLa Becker

200 Hour E-RYT and Tantra Life Coach

 

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”

-Jim Rohn

It took me almost all the years of my life to realize that I have a choice when choosing the people that surround me. It has taken me that many years to learn that the people that surround me are not something that I should have to struggle for or with, but rather are a gift that I can indulge. The energies that I choose to have around me now, are those that spark my soul and propel me into my best life. It took me this many years to know what was most important to me and then even longer than that to recognize how I could get it.

I was recently asked “what does connection mean to you?” The response, that dribbled off my lips, was unfamiliar but I liked the way it sounded when the words took up the space beyond my lips. My answer was “I’d like to think that connection with righteous intent is an energy that sparks your soul.  It is received as the best expression of your heart, without judgment or worry. The best connections create a sense of ease and fulfillment within every fiber of your soul.”

We are energetic beings and although there are many ways to connect to the world around us. The practice of meditation and yoga (“to-yolk”, “to bind”) is a direct link that allows us to connect to the energies around us. As a life coach and a Tantra yoga teacher, I believe and teach that it is the energies-in which we tap into and in which we surround ourselves-that will either prevent us or accelerate us into our most passionate and productive lives. It is our conscious choice to succeed at our most passionate and productive lives.

Make a list of the 5 people that are closest to you. Categorize them in the ways in which they effect you. Is it negative? Positive? And in which parts of your life? Does your speech change when you are around them? Or the way that you find yourself dressing? Do they drain your energy? Or do they give you a surge of energy straight into your soul? Do they lift you up? or hold you back? Do they have the same values as you? If you changed something about yourself, would they still want to be around you? What is the feeling you get when you are around them? and what does that do for your life?

Analyze this list. Make moves to consciously choose the energies you want around you and the ones you do not. Then implement the 5 steps below to start to live your most passionate and productive life. 

5 first steps to clearing a path to your most passionate and productive life

1)      Sit Still:

How will you know how to recognize what you want out of life if you don’t completely know what it is? Sit Still. Give yourself the permission to meditate until it comes to you.

This is a simple meditation that you can do to clear your mind and focus on what it is that you really want out of this life.

“Sit in a comfortable chair or on the floor. Close your eyes. Breathe. Allow yourself the permission to relax. Let go of your thoughts. Release all of your thoughts. Clear your mind. Keep allowing your thoughts to float away. Like little clouds, release them and clear your mind. Release all the clutter, the important ones will come back. Sit with all the emotions, the questions, the songs, and just keep listening”

As one of my students described it. “It was like a thunderous bolt of lightening. Like someone screamed it right into my ear. I knew I had to listen to it.”

2)    Be honest:

Be completely honest with yourself.  Get out a piece of paper and figure out exactly what you want to receive from this world. Make it as silly and outlandish as you want as long it is exactly what you want.

3)    Learn to break up:

Learning the tools to leave an abusive, negative or unfulfilling situation, substance, lifestyle or connection is the hardest and most rewarding thing you can do to live a passionate and productive lifestyle.

4)    Let go:

Let go of the way you used to think or be. Let go of how the people around you want you to act or live. Let go of the expectations that others have of you.

“Remember you are under no obligation to be the same person you were 5 minutes ago.”

5)    Reframe your brain:

Catch yourself when you start to complain and then smile. It is in our culture to complain and it is a scientific neurological fact that the neurons that fire together, stay together. Retraining your brain to reflect the life that you want is a practice. Consciously changing from complaining to gratitude will change our lives.

This is an easy exercise. Every morning before you get out of bed and every night before you go to bed think of one thing in which you are grateful. This will help your brain to recognize gratitude rather than focusing on the negative.

Remember that the best energies are the ones that fuel your soul. The ones that allow your quirky sparks to shine. The ones that hold you up, with open hands, yet don’t hold on at all.

The ones that allow the magic to drip from your finger tips. These are ones that will support you into a future of exactly how you want to live your life.

Join LeLa at EKA for a monthly workshop that will dive deeper into these subjects. we will explore, identify and practice the life that you have always dreamed of. By practicing Tantra Yoga, Meditation (visualization, breath work, and theta healing), Journaling, Strength exercises (both mental and physical), Massage and more. Sign up today to receive your spot. Purchase for the year and receive 25% off.

For more information on LeLa's "Mind Over Matter" workshops

Ayurvedic Tips for Travel

By Valentina Komarova

Ayurvedic health counselor, yoga teacher and Thai bodywork practitioner

www.venetyoga.com

As we move into the holiday season, Ayurveda can offer some helpful tips on how to stay balanced during travel. 

Travel – exciting as it is – can aggravate Vata dosha: our airy, mobile, volatile side. Unbalanced Vata might lead to insomnia, digestion issues, anxiety and general feeling of being spacey and ungrounded. 

Travel also throws us off our daily routines and rituals with new schedule, new foods, new impressions, and a lot of change.

So would Ayurveda recommend us not to travel? Of course not! It is a wonderful way to discover yourself and expand your horizons. But Ayurveda suggests several ways to counterbalance the main issues of traveling. 

 

On the plane

 Stay hydrated: bring your own water bottle, and try to avoid stimulating and dehydrating beverages like coffee, alcohol, and soda

Eat light: have a meal before leaving for the airport, and bring snacks (such as fruits, nuts or date/nut bars) with you. If possible, avoid airplane food - though it might get tricky on a longer flight. Pro travel tip for longer flights: most airlines offer vegetarian or kosher meals, and usually those are a healthier option. You have to contact the airline and order those in advance. 

Control the temperature: you might get hot, then cold, then hot again - so dress in layers; bring a shawl and socks. 

Curate your playlist: stack up on calming, warm, grounding and soothing music (whatever that means to you) to block out in-flight noises and help you relax.

Meditation and pranayama: since you have all this time to yourself, use it to sit still (if even for 5 minutes), or do several rounds of belly breath or alternate nostril breathing. Travel is filled with movement and often with rush and worry, so take some time to slow down and sit still. These practices will help you stay grounded, and might help prevent flight anxiety.

Do some in-flight yoga: 

- Slow head rolls in half circle.

- Slowly turn your head left and right several times.

- Wrap your arms around you, trying to touch your shoulder blades with your fingertips. Then stretch your neck by pressing your ears towards your shoulders both left and right.

- Holding the armrests, gently twist.

- Hug your knees to your chest while sitting.

- Circle your feet and your wrists. 

- Try to get up and walk or stand every hour, especially on a longer flight

- Do upward salutes and forward folds while waiting in line for the WC (hi, weird looks!)

 

Once you arrive 

Go out: if you arrive during the day, go for a short brisk walk. Moving and being out in the sun will help your body to adjust to the new time zone.

Do self-massage with oil before going to bed: this practice is very calming and grounding and will help you sleep better.

Settle into a rhythm: see if you can adapt some of your daily practices for travel - a short round of sun salutations? Morning walk? Meditation? Breakfast alone? Whatever works for you to keep you steady and grounded. To help with jet lag, try to wake up and go to bed at the same time on your trip. To help your digestive system with the stress of travel, try to keep the meals regular and at the same time as much as possible. 

Key points to keep in mind for Vata, Pitta and Kapha:

Vata: it’s so easy to get inspired by new places, unfamiliar sounds, colors and foods! But don’t get carried away; keep yourself grounded with routines and rituals. Take extra care of your digestion: it’s most vulnerable when you travel.

Pitta: don't overschedule! Allow some space and time for unexpected adventures, don’t try to see everything, take time to enjoy the moment and be in the flow.

Kapha: try to get some alone time: with all the excitement of travel you need to give your mind some time and space to process new impressions and emotions.

 

Travel kit

 

   Warm shawl and socks for the plane/car travel;

   Water bottle;

   Triphala (to help with digestion)

   Herbal teas: bring your favorite ones to keep you cozy and help with digestion (peppermint, chamomile, fennel are great for digestion);

   Abhyanga oil;

   Nasya (nose) oil (if your nose gets dry on the plane);

    Essential oils: peppermint to keep you fresh and use for headaches; any blend for immune support (like Four Thieves); lavender to rub on wrists before sleep; any citrus for when you need some energy and uplifting.

 

 

Happy travels! Stay curious and grounded!