Monthly Archives: November 2009

Wishin’ for Chai

Now that it’s vata season, I have been craving chai like crazy! There is a tiny store (I guess it’s called a store) downstairs at work, but the “chai latte” is made with some kind of chai sugar-powder. Bleh. So I bought some chai tea bags but I couldn’t really add milk to it because it wasn’t strong enough, plus it tasted a little…lifeless. There is a café way down the street, but they also switched from leaf chai to powder. Dude! For the love of chai, isn’t there anyone who holds this drink sacred?! (echo, echo, echo)

What is the saying, something about, not needing to look any further than your back yard (if you know that saying, send it to me and you get 10 points)? Well before my wee eyes, I saw on facebook that friend and fellow entrepreneur, Naja, had created an authentic masala “sassafrass” chai tea! I got excited. I bought it right away and it’s PERFECT! It’s SO full of life and spice and smell AND adding steamed milk won’t dilute the flavor and spiciness.

Naja is founder and creator of Naja Tea and if you have not tried these teas, they are a must. First of all, you can feel the good energy in the tea – these teas are made from love, there’s no doubt about it. Second, Naja is uber picky and travels the world to find only the best teas. Guess where she was a few weeks ago? India! Buyin’ spices for chai and answering my prayers.

Naja Tea would be great for holiday gifts or for selfishly stuffing your own stocking. What. A girl needs her sanity and a mighty stash of good chai certainly helps.

Naja Tea website: www.najatea.com

Apparently Naja is also good at reading people’s minds, so if you have a favorite tea, look for it on her site because it might already be there.

Happy Holiday Eating

Hey! This Thursday is Thanksgiving. Ok show of hands and answer honestly: Who already knows that they will end up overeating? Next question: If you already know you are going to overeat, why do we do it? It might be partially because of the social aspect eating with family, partially because it’s tradition to end up over-full on Thanksgiving, and partially because we want to try all of the super yummy foods.

It’s very much in our culture to embrace it as a holiday of over-abundance and over-indulgence in food. And we celebrate with gratitude, love, and appreciation in all the great things we are lucky to have.

But, what we might not understand is that this one day of overeating can set our digestion back significantly if we don’t pay attention. It’s not so much that the day is “bad.” But what’s kinda “bad” is that we don’t usually give our agni (digestive fire) a chance to catch up and digest the food it’s been given before adding more. If there is an overload of food sitting in our stomachs from Thanksgiving, it’s going to take our agni extra time to digest it. Maybe even until the next day! The problem comes when we eat normally on Friday, piling in more food on top of the old food from Thursday that hasn’t gone through digestion yet. This literally turns into a pile-up of food (similar to a traffic jam) which easily can turn into ama. We don’t want that!

Here are some tips to keep digestion strong during Holiday eating. And remember that in addition to good food, let love be what fills you up because that’s where the real nourishment is.

Tips!
– Before the meal, have an Indian lemonade appetizer to ignite agni
Cold beverages will slow digestion, stick with warm drinks
– Favor the foods that are best for YOU and have less of the others.
– Be mindful of your hunger, remembering to eat and drink until you are 3/4 full, then stop
– Most likely, you don’t need seconds. Weigh it against how you will feel if you are too full
Chew well!
– Lay on your left side for 20 minutes after the meal to assist agni (no longer than 20)
– Take a leisurely walk with your family after the meal to help digestion and to avoid sluggishness
– Wait until you are totally hungry (stomach rumblings) before eating again
– If you are unsure about the state of your digestion, check your tongue. If your tongue is white, fast and drink ginger tea until it is pink (that way you know the food has been digested)
– If you are not hungry on Friday, fast with herbal teas or fruits until you feel hungry.

Food Influences Skin

Still on the kick with my favorite book, Absolute Beauty by Pratima Raichur. Our skin is a direct reflection about what’s happening on our insides. She talks about how we cannot hope to have nice skin if we don’t change our eating habits because on a cellular level, our bodies are composed of the food we eat. So, eating processed, stale, and life-less foods, will create aged and lifeless skin.

For example, what does your skin look like after having too much to drink the night before…NOT pretty!! Oh come on, you’ve seen it. Puffy eyes, extra dry skin…Now imagine what that does over time. And since the skin is a reflection of our insides, IMAGINE what it does to our internal bods! I will be blunt. If your diet consists of regular consumption of coffees, sodas, alcohol, fast foods, fried foods, refined sugars, you are not on the right track (I don’t mean to be rude), because these things are not “food!” These won’t affect you too terribly when taken on a very occasional basis, but there are many people who have these as staples in their diet. And I’m here to say that…it’s not really ok.

(if you are mad, you can write and yell at me…but I’m trying to heal people here)

On the other hand, foods that are high in prana (life energy) like veggies, fruits, grains, milk, ghee, and healthy fats will give your skin a glow! You will notice that fine lines go away, the nice fats keep your skin supple, and there will be a radiance about your skin. I bet a million dollars that you will FEEL better too – and your mind will be more clear.

When skin is happy, we know our insides are happy. Our skin is one of the BEST tools we have to use to see what’s happening inside. That and, poop.

Namasté!

Natural Face-Lift

Hooray!! I have more goodies from my favorite book, Absolute Beauty, by Dr. Pratima Raichur. This little ritual is super fun and I think all the ladies will especially enjoy it. The book discusses some simple techniques for a natural face-lift to raise droops and erase any lines. “Sign me UP,” you say? Right on, keep reading!

Let me fill you in about why it works first. We have marma points (mini energy centers) throughout our bodies. These marma points are found along srotas, or channels, that run from head to toe. Really similar to acupuncture! Stimulating these points release stored energy and stimulate flow. One reason why we get wrinkles is because we are making the same expression over and over – and our faces “get stuck that way” (your mom ever tell you that when you made a goofy face?). Ok not really stuck, but you know what I mean.

Dr. Raichur writes, “Massage not only helps skin to look younger, smoother, clearer more radiant, but also helps the body to overcome tension and fatigue, and the mind to feel peaceful and refreshed.” We hold a lot of tension in our face that we probably don’t even realize. Try pinching your eyebrows or pressing your temples – maybe a little tender? Yep, we hold a lot of stress in our face, so let’s remove some! Yeehaw!

Ok. Let’s get to the good stuff.

The Natural Face-Lift Massage by Pratima Raichur (all the words are hers, the drawing is mine)
Using your middle finger, massage each point below in clockwise direction for twenty to thirty seconds.

1. center of chin (relief for head colds)
2. both corners of the mouth
3. center bone between the nose and upper lip
4. outside corners of nose where nostrils flare (corresponds to small intestines and relieves sinuses)
5. center of cheek bones. Push up on underside of bone and massage
6. lower lids just above cheekbone. *Press gently with ring finger, do not massage
7. brows. Use bottom of thumbs to press upward on the inside corner of eyebrows at bridge of nose. Then with thumb and forefinger, pinch each brow across the whole arch from inside to outside corner. Repeat (When done correctly, this may cause mild soreness due to stored tension. Good for headaches and bladder problems)
8. temples. Use flat fingers to massage gently
9. third eye (between eye brows)
10. crown. Place both hands on top of the head and move them rapidly back and forth to vibrate the scalp.

TADAAAA! Do you love it?! You can do this whenever you think of it. Daily is great, but we don’t always have that time. Great to do before bed as it always zonks me out. Happy Lifting!!

Bit of Wisdom {19}

Ojas, Your Immunity

 

ojas

Heyo! We are approaching “flu season.” Let’s shift our mindset around “flu season” and look at it as “low immunity” season. Instead of envisioning ourselves as little victims that icky germs cling to and mess us up for a few days, let’s look at the power of our immunity. Once we know how to build up our immunity to avoid sicknesses like the flu, we become the master of our own health.

Rather than “flu season” my mind automatically shifts to think, “low ojas” season. That’s little word, ojas, is pronounced “OH-juss.” It’s super important to know that ojas exists and even more important to know how to boost that sucker to max capacity. When ojas is strong, we are sick less often, less severely and for less time.

Let’s get started on how to avoid getting sick!

What the heck is ojas? Ojas is the essential energy of our vitality, immunity, strength, luster and health. Ojas is the pure essence of all bodily tissues which means that after all the tissues in the body have gone through their digestive processes, ojas is the pure nectar of what is left. It is our immunity and in addition, it is responsible for reproduction and creation. We only have a tiny bit, a few drops, and it lives in the heart. People with good ojas rarely get sick and people with low or low quality ojas will get sick often.

What depletes ojas?

• Improper diet including: alcohol, caffeine, carbonated bevy’s, fast food, stale food, excess sugars, processed foods, super cold or raw foods
• Anything in excess including: over-scheduling, over-traveling, stress, sex, and exercise.
• Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep
• Dehydration
• Manic, panicked or stressed mind (plus, if you tell yourself you are going to get sick, you probably will)
• Clogged channels, poor flow or wrong flow of the channels

Notice all of the above have a catabolic effect on the body and mind? {break down, break down, break down} It’s almost like the things on the list above “attacks” the body, rather than “nourishes” it — just like sickness does. Add to that, vata season (<–freebies) which has the same effect — that’s why we all get sick. See how this all goes together? Yeah? Look at the list again. Nothing on this list is building, nourishing, slow, or high quality and that is what we need to keep ojas strong.

What enhances ojas?

Ghee is the best ojas enhancer! Cook with it, melt it, spread it, sauteé with it, put a drop in warm milk and drink. Ghee is pure oil and a sattvic food that nourishes our tissues on the deepest level. It even looks a bit like ojas. Note: don’t have ghee if you have ama. Clear the ama first.
• Whole or raw milk. Tip: after sex, have a small glass of milk to replenish ojas.
• A proper diet that comes from nature. Eat the freshest food you can find, limiting sugar and processed crap (toss the left over Halloween candy! It’s just going to break you down!).
• Favor foods according to who YOU are as an individual.
• Consistent, high quality sleep
• Drink enough water. Vata & Pittas 8+ glasses a day. Kaphas don’t need as much, aim for 6. If kaphas feel “over-watered,” have less.
• Stress management: schedule a 10-minute break every 90 minutes, walk in nature, 10 deep breaths, cup of herbal tea, no scary tv, turn screens off 60 minutes before bed.
• Daily exercise for your dosha (30 minutes, at your capacity)
• Pranayama* nadi shodhanam, kapalbhati, and/or so hum.
Amalaki (do not use if you have ama), Indian gooseberry with the highest content of Vitamin C of any fruit. Great for light detoxification and rejuvenation. Awesome for prevention.

*Muy Importante! It is said in Ayurvedic texts that if we do 10 minutes of pranayama a day, disease cannot set in! Sounds too simple to work, doesn’t it? Well, how many people are sick? Lots. And how many do you think are doing daily pranayama? I would guess…not many. Dude, just try it! You can’t say it doesn’t work if you don’t try it. Pranayama daily and you will have max power against the sickies.

What can you do right now to enhance ojas?

1.  Become aware what you do that is 1) Ojas depleting and 2) Ojas building.
2. Practice ELIMINATING 1-2 things from the ojas depleting list and ADD 1-2 things from the ojas enhancing list.

I will have much more to say about ojas and immunity but this will get you started! Awareness is where everything begins so start there! XO and more soon.