Monthly Archives: August 2009

Balancing Menopause

So, I got a question today about what remedies help hot flashes from menopause. There are a couple of very basic things to remember.

FIRST it’s a totally natural process so many times treatment is not needed. Also be mindful about any remedies you are using to soothe discomfort. Just make sure those remedies do not hinder the natural processes. Ayurvedically speaking, during menopause womens’ bodies are moving from pitta life cycle (puberty thru menopause) to vata life cycle (menopause thru golden years). During this time, pitta starts to decline and vata begins to increase. Remembering that pitta is the energy of transformation, pitta is doing a lot of the work to transform the body’s energy. Therefore, excess pitta can be found during hot flashes, irritability, night sweats, irritability and anger — all relating to heat. On the vata side of things, we might notice insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, forgetfulness, overall dryness, and joint pain — all relating to dryness and lightness.

If you read all of that above, you might find that some of that is true for you and others are not. That is because my SECOND point is that YOU are an individual. Each person will deal with menopause differently depending on their individual make-up. Ayurveda will help you get through this transition, but it might not be by the same methods for your sister or girlfriends. Keeping that in mind, it’s always good to see an Ayurvedic Practitioner or so they can advise proper treatment for YOU.

THIRD, even if you see an Ayurvedic Practitioner remember that there is no “quick fix” in Ayurveda. It’s up to you to follow the daily routine and to eat according to the nutritional guidelines. That will keep you most in harmony with nature which will give routine and structure to your body in mind. Structure and routine are important especially when your body is changing like crazy (heck it’s even called, “the change”). Something needs to keep the peace!

SO! Here are some Ayurvedic tips to keep your body, mind and soul balancing during menopause:

  • Stick to the nutritional guidelines
  • Follow the daily routine
  • Daily nadi shodhanam (mornings are best, but you can do it anytime!)
  • Daily savasana (corpse pose). Lay for 5 minutes on your back, palms up, shoulders away from the ears. Just relax. Sounds too easy, but it does wonders for peace of mind.
  • Incorporate ghee into the diet. No joke, ghee is the best. You can put it on rice, cook veggies in it, or melt 1 tsp in hot milk before bed which throws out excess pitta while you sleep.
  • To help hot flashes, make CCF tea and drink it throughout the day. Take 1 tsp each of cumin, corriander, and fennel seeds. Boil in a tea pot (or pot) for 5 minutes. Strain and drink as a warm tea or make a large batch and sip through the day at room temp.
  • Enjoy a cool glass of pomegranate juice with 5-10 drops of lime juice to help hot flashes.

Just remember, these are simple, basic guidelines and therapies will differ per person. It will be important to really nourish yourself through good diet and routine. If you have more questions, I am happy to answer the best I can. Remember, I’m totally NOT a doctor of any sort so if you are having major issues, see your physician. XOXO!

Tip: Carbonated Bevys

Carbonated drinks reverse the body’s natural downward flow which can cause hiccups, hyperactivity in the G-I tract, an inability to concentrate and irritability! The bubbles bring excess air into the body (increases vata) which impedes food absorbtion and digestion. Effervescence is fun but the goal is to keep things moving down and out!

Check Your Tongue!

Every morning when you wake up, check your tongue. If you have a tongue scraper, scrape it a few times to get the night time slop off of it. After that, look again. If it is pink you are doing great! Our entire digestive system is reflected on the tongue. It’s the quickest way to see what’s happening on our insides! But you have to know what to look for – so I’ll carry on.

If you see a whitish coating, that is a sign of ama, which means there are toxins in the digestive system. We can get ama for a number of reasons, but mainly because we have weak agni. Agni is our digestive fire and there is plenty that we can do during our daily routine to keep agni strong.

There are different degrees of ama. Ama can show up on our tongue simply because we had a big meal the night before and we are not done digesting it yet! Our biggest screw up is when we eat breakfast because we think we should and then we pile more food on the undigested food, creating a big pile of maldigested goo, which creates yet more ama. Bleh. SO! The best thing we can do when we see that our tongue is white is to fast. We have to let our body catch up to the food we put in it and the only way it can do that is if we don’t give it any more food.

I don’t mean a crazy fast for days. I mean, sipping ginger (or herbal, but ginger is best because it aids digestion) tea and not eating until our tongue turns mostly pink again. It could be a full day or even a couple hours, but let your body catch up. If you try it, I think you will find it fun to watch! When you are really hungry, I bet your tongue will be nice and pink. Try it!

Besides a white coating, there are other things we can look for on our tongue. If there is redness, it can indicate that there is too much heat in the body and that maybe our digestion is TOO hot, therefore burning the food before it gets absorbed to become nutrients. If there are cracks on the tongue, that means a vata derrangement which could be dehydration or not enough oils in the diet. If the tongue is shakey, that is a sign of anxiety and/or fear. If there are little teeth marks on the side, it’s a sign of ama in the colon and/or unabsorbed nutrients.

For more tongue diagrams and other fun stuff, there is a book by Dr. Lad called Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing. It’s a good crash course. Or you can send me pictures of your tongue and we can have a field day. Tally ho!

Foods for YOU

I received a great question about food and Ayurveda. One gal was really confused because the information on Ayurveda and what foods are “OK” can differ depending on the source/author. I have to say, if you are reading them and taking them to heart, I agree that it is confusing. When I was first studying, this didn’t make any sense to me, and it still doesn’t. How come some sources says corn is fine and in other sources it says it’s not? Very confusing!

However, then I took a step back and looked at what I know about Ayurveda and food. Rather than focusing on whether a food is good or bad (there is no such thing, by the way) we focus on all aspects of LIFE around that food. The biggest factor is WHO is eating that food rather than the food itself. So my answer to the question about which foods to eat is…that depends. It depends on the laundry list below:

a) the individual person’s prakruti (natural balance of doshas) or vikruti (imbalanced state of doshas)
b) what elements balance those doshas
c) where did the food came from (nature? Kraft?)
d) what are the seasonal foods
e) our state of mind while eating
f) how do the foods affect our mind
g) what is the state of agni

This is why Ayurveda is not a quick fix, nor does one size fit all. It’s based on a learning/knowing of you who are and that can take time. There are many factors that come into play, but if you follow the basic nutritional guidelines and are eating foods that come from nature, you are at least on the right track. The real knowing comes in knowing yourself and what you are made of. If you are a firey pitta, you will want to steer clear from spicy foods in the hot summer (heat + heat + heat = increased pitta). You will want to balance the elements of the food with your body and it will always vary case by case.

Going back to corn. Is it good or bad? I would say, consider the source. Corn from the farmer’s market at a friend’s house for a bbq is going to be much better than a taco shell from Taco Bell. See my point? It depends.

I wish there was a magic answer, but there’s not. But that’s what Ayurvedic Wellness Counselors are for – they teach you about you! Ask me questions or we can have a consultation together. I’d be happy to teach you all about YOU!

For more nutritional info, please see these posts and/or click on Nutrition under Categories – there’s tons!
Nutrition 1 – Philosophy
Nutrition 2 – Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition 3 – Agni & Ama
Nutrition 4 – The 6 Tastes
Nutrition 5 – Strong Agni

Why won’t people listen to me?

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Have you ever been in a situation where there were 3 people talking at once, nobody is listening and you can’t get a word in edgewise? I know I have! It feels like a competition and you might leave the conversation exhausted and deflated.

How much do you actually listen when someone talks to you? I mean really listen. Like listening without thinking about what you are going to say next, or without thinking about a similar experience you had, or without handing over your advice. Are you pretty good at it or do you need to practice a little more?

Often while someone else is talking, we want to interject our thoughts, feelings, or experience to show that we relate or to give support. Yet, this can actually be very frustrating for the person who is speaking – they might not be DONE with everything they need to get out yet. Our ego can jump the gun a bit too soon, leaving the other person feeling incomplete or undervalued.

In Ayurvedic healing, a big component of healing our clients is simply listening to them. They will tell us EVERYthing we need to know to get to the root of their problem. If you’ve ever been to therapy, you know that the therapist mostly listens. Our self expression helps release old traumas, emotions, or experiences that might be clinging to us and hindering our ability to shine in the present. Talking literally is a therapy.

When we speak it, it becomes real. Important tip: Just make sure to let it goooooo and not relive the same old crap over and over. Express yourself, talk about it, what did you learn and how will you evolve? Don’t relive it and feel bad about it again. Release it and move on.

We’ve all been on both sides of the coin. We know what feels balanced and what is…kind of annoying. So let’s become more mindful about how much we listen. Let people finish their thoughts. Let them speak. They are expressing themselves because they trust and love you. And most importantly by listening, you are helping them heal.

Do Not Resist Your Urges

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On of the most simple rules in Ayurveda is, “Do not resist your urges.” How many times have you held in a sneeze? How many times did you have to pee but you “held it” til the meeting was over? How many times did someone hurt you, but you didn’t say anything because you didn’t want to cause a conflict. And then over time you ended up exploding at them over something small because these old emotions were festering?

Our urges (sneezing, crying, laughing, elimination, speaking our mind) are signals from our body that something needs to be released or expelled. Often time this is to ensure proper flow or function of the body (pee, poop) or expel something quick (cough). If we don’t adhere to our natural urges (note: urges are different than cravings), our bodies will speak louder, if we still don’t listen, over time they could form physical, emotional and mental problems because we are stopping or pausing our body’s natural flow. 

If we satisfy the urge when it shows up, our body can fix small problems on its own and keep in regular balance. Let’s honor these signals and go with the flow! And if anyone asks why you have to use the loo in middle of the meeting, tell them, “Monica B said I should not resist my urges!” ;)