Monthly Archives: December 2009
DUDE! I’m on my fourth week of jury duty and its taking its toll on me. It is absolutely emotionally draining. Despite eating proper foods and following nature’s clock, my tongue is coated white in the back. I’ve had two migraines since Thursday and my eyes feel like they are being pulled back into my head when I look around. I feel an overall sense of heaviness, cloudiness, and I don’t want to do a darn thing. There is also constant pressure on the sides of my head.
My friends, this is a perfect example of how I have collected some emotional ama. Ayurveda says that our mind governs our bodies. Even when we eat the right things, if our minds are full of worry or stress we will not be able to digest our food properly. Our mind is the control center and when it says, “Hey, stop! We have emotional issues!,” our agni (digestive fire) will obey and slow down. And remember, without a strong agni (digestive fire), ama rears its ugly head.
In a nutshell, when we’re all wigged out we can’t digest food because our body/mind has changed focus. It’s no longer concerned about food, instead it’s concerned about our crumbling emotional/mental state. The best example I can think of is, going through a rough break-up. We might feel a little sick and it might be hard to feel like eating. That is the signal from the mind that the body cannot tolerate food.
Ok, show of hands: Who loses their appetite when they are emotionally stressed? Who overeats when emotionally stressed? It can go either way. We might stop eating because we don’t have an appetite (our body’s way of telling us don’t eat). Or, we may overeat in seek of comfort and grounding. Bottom line, let’s listen to what our bodies are saying. If we are not hungry, don’t eat. The sign of healthy digestion is hunger. Waiting for true hunger is a KEY factor in staying healthy.
So what to do in times of emotional stress?
• Eat light and easy to digest foods like soups
• Limit sugars, caffeine and alcohol – these may seem like a help at the time, but they are only a hinder
• Get energies out through exercise or a good sweat
• Breathe! Big and slow, from the lower belly.
• Meditation. Either so hum or alternate nostril breathing
• MOST of all, release your emotions! Do not resist your urges to speak your mind! If you release the junk in your mind, it will stay in there and pollute your entire being.
I had a major release today during deliberation with tons of tears and a candid spewing of my viewpoints. I cried for another 30 minutes while others handed me kleenex and continued discussion. I still feel heavy in my head, but at least I spoke my mind. I don’t know how long this will weigh on my mind, but I am continuing meditation and hoping I can let it all go soon. xo!
Health is not something we achieve, rather it’s to be maintained mindfully and consistently. If choosing a health-focused resolution for 2010, make sure it’s simple enough to stick to for the long haul :)
Cool story. Two Christmases ago, I was a brand new Ayurvedic student and reading my studies on the plane ride to Milwaukee. My friendly neighbor inquired and I told him all about Ayurveda. He was really intrigued and I wish I’d known more at the time because I would have been able to help him with some of his problems. But! To my great surprise, he found me on LinkedIn the other day and asked if I remembered him. How cool! He also mentioned that he’s having trouble sleeping. Not so cool. But at least I can help him now!
And hey, anyone else have sleeping problemos? There can be a number of reasons for insomnia in Ayurveda but mainly there are two types:
a) Not being able to fall asleep. A pitta problem largely because of stress and too much thinking/strategy
b) Waking up in the middle of the night. A vata problem largely because of anxiety and racing mind
I have some ideas to help keep your sleep on track!
LIFESTYLE TIPS | Overall management
• Check the clock. If we go to bed after 10:30/11, the energy of pitta can keep us awake. Pitta’s job is to transform (thoughts, emotions, food) information from the day. If we stay awake into pitta time, we often get a “second wind” and feel like cleaning the garage. This means that we’ve stayed up too long. Thoughts, emotions, and ideas from the day flood our minds and it’s tough to make it stop. Pitta will do its job whether we are awake or sleeping, so best to zonk out before then.
• Stick to the daily routine. Definitely review the daily routine and times of the doshas. Your day ends with sleep so if everything else is in line, your sleep will fall in line as well.
• Don’t eat too much too late. Not good for many reasons, but heart burn or indigestion is uncomfortable and can keep us awake.
• Practice daily pranayama. Do So Hum or Nadi Shodhanam daily! You don’t have to do this for crazy amounts of time. Start with 5 min. It’s so easy and SO effective! Great for calming the nerves (vata) and the mind (pitta).
• No caffeine after Noon. Limiting caffeine in general is best, but if you have coffee, keep it to the morning hours only.
• Exercise regularly. A 30 minute (minimum) walk daily is perfect for exercise. Or yoga! Or any activity that makes you sweat a little and gives you energy afterwards.
IN A PINCH | If you find yourself tossing and turning
• Drink a small amount of warm milk. Bonus to add a sprinkle of cardamom. Warm milk will soothe pitta and vata. Good for heart burn too!
• Massage your adhipati marma. Ugh, Adhi-what? The adhipati marma is an energy point (marma) on the top of our head – it’s the soft spot on babies. Find it by placing four fingers across the forehead. Take your other hand and stack another four fingers on top of those. The point is “8 fingers” away from the eyebrows, on top of the head. Massage clockwise with the middle finger 1-5 minutes.
• Massage your kirkatika marma. Easier this time. It’s the point where your neck meets your spine at the back of the head. There is like a hole there – sort of an indentation. Massage clockwise with middle finger 1-5 minutes.
• Lay on your right side and so hum. On the inhale, “soooooo,” and exhale, “hummmmm.” Say this to yourself.
Happy Sleepings my friends. Enjoy your new ZZZZZZZZs.
For cold hands and feet, apply sesame oil before heading out into the cold. The oil has a “warming” action on the body and will keep blood circulating to those tiny fingies and toes. Cold-pressed Sesame oil – not toasted – in your grocery store! Stay warm!
As we already know, Ayurveda is not based on quick fixes. Sure there are herbs to assist the healing process, but long term changes have everything to do with diet and lifestyle management. To some of us, that may sound like a lot of work, but if we make changes in small doses it’s not only doable, but the changes (and results) are ever-lasting!
They key is to embrace the small changes. Ayurveda is extremely logical. The most difficult part is teaching our minds to make those small changes. For some reason we figure if it’s not a monumental change (grapefruit cayenne pepper cleanse or 1 hour at the gym daily) that it won’t make a difference. That’s a total misconception and just not true! If we pay attention to even just one thing and stick with it, we will notice improvements. It’s the consistency that is key.
I find it the biggest challenge to counsel clients on the simple things. I wonder if they think it’s so simple that it can’t possibly work? For example, I stress the importance of a pranayama and meditation. Rarely do folks incorporate that change. They’ll do it for like a week. I mean after all, we’re just sitting there or breathing there. It’s not like any major changes will happen unless we do something drastic, right? Wrong — it does not have to be difficult in order for it to work.
One of my favorite stories is from one of my first clients who had “IBS” type symptoms…for 12 years! She saw several specialists and no medicine or tests results revealed anything that could help her. In our Ayurvedic consultation, I discovered she was having a sugar substitute in her coffee every morning. I told her to stop. Within 1 week, she was fine. No more problems. (!!!!!!)
…some of the most dynamic impact is made by the smallest changes! I do not teach things that are crazy difficult to do. So the good news is, you do not have to turn your life completely upside down, but do better today than you did yesterday. By doing a little bit better, you’re making progress! Keep going. And, if your practice is good, you can afford to do things like enjoy a cupcake on someone’s birthday or glass of wine (once in a while, not nightly or you’ll feel like junk).
I challenge you to pick one of the items below and do them for a week. They are not drastic or painful. Just give ONE a try. I don’t want you to do 2 or 3 because that is setting you up to fail. Do one, do it consistently and see how you feel!
Slowly we make the changes. We are not in a rush, we have our whole lives to practice! But start practicing. xoxo.
• Make lunch the largest meal of the day
• Do So Hum meditation before bed for 10 minutes (lay on your right side)
• Eat a small breakfast (vata & pitta = one serving oatmeal, kapha= toast with cinnamon & a little ghee)
• Go to bed by 10pm
• Take a brisk walk every day for 30 minutes
• Wake up 15 min before sunrise (ok that might be a little painful for some)
I got a great question about how much Ayurveda uses aromatherapy. Thanks for the question!!
So, our nose is responsible for conducting one of the 5 senses, smell. In Ayurveda, we use the 5 senses as the sole vehicles for healing. Specifically, the nostrils consist of two channels (ida and pingala) which send messages directly to the brain. When we inhale deeply and exhale deep and long, it tells the mind that it can relax. Along similar lines, we can deliver messages to the brain through specific smells. Gingerbread, apple cider with cinnamon, burning fireplace wood, might tell our mind that it’s winter or holiday time. The sense of smell is the sense that connects directly to our brain and therefore smell is the closest sense to memory! (that was not Ayurvedic, just a fun fact)
In Ayurveda, we often incorporate aromatherapy into our massages, facial cleansers and oils, candles, diffusers, etc.,! It’s NICE to smell something good, but more than it being nice, it’s also an important method of healing because of the direct link to the brain. Aromatherapy is used in Ayurveda for calming and grounding vata, cooling and soothing pitta, and invigorating and lifting kapha.
You can use aromatherapy in your shower by just dropping a few drops on the floor of the shower. You can also mix them with oils to suit your dosha (sesame for vata, almond for pitta, sunflower for kapha) and apply to the skin as an overall massage, or simply on your temples and behind your ears. You can also steam a pot of water on the stove and drop a few drops in the water to permeate the room! mm!! Or, just carry them with you to work when you need an energetic or stress reducing break, and sniff away!
Below are some scents that balance each dosha
VATAS NEED: grounding, calm, peace of mind because of anxiety, worry, scattered mind, or depression. With a tendency to bite off more than they can chew, they often have feelings of being overworked.
SCENTS FOR VATA: Lavender, Orange Blossom, Geranium, Bergamot, Chamomile, Camphor, Patchouli,
PITTAS NEED: stress relief, surrender, release in keeping control, soothing, cooling for their quick temper. Diligent, timely and organized workers, pittas often feel angry that others don’t do the same. And they think it’s unfair. And they get mad.
SCENTS FOR PITTA: Geranium, Sandalwood, Rose, Lemongrass, Ylang Ylang, Lavender
KAPHAS NEED: invigoration, energy, movement, mental clarity, a sense of lightness. Kaphas tend to fall into a “rut” and it’s often hard to get out.
SCENTS FOR KAPHA: Eucalyptus, Camphor, Black Pepper, Citrus; Grapefruit & Lemon, Neroli, Ylang Ylang, Ginger
Hey! We’re in it! In the thick of the holiday season with plenty of socializing, shopping, baking, traveling, rushing, maybe even stressing. While you’re in the mood to give to others, let’s not forget to give to ourselves too! We are only as good for others as we are for ourselves. Nourishing ourselves first will give us the energy, positivity and that hostess-of-the-mostess “holiday glow.” Your self-love will shine through to your guests and family members and in turn, they will feel more love too. It all starts with ourselves :)
Since it’s vata season, a warm oil massage is about the best gift we can receive for our bodies and minds. Maybe try to set aside some time and cash to give yourself a worthwhile break. Spas may have special holiday deals now or you could check with a massage school if your budget is tight. OR! Better yet, put massage on your holiday wish list! Suggest that a few family members to go in together to purchase a nice massage gift certificate for you. There is no better feeling than knowing you have a massage gift certificate waiting for you!
See the article Oil Massage for Busy People to fit in your massage daily. Even a little does wonders!
Obviously a massage feels good, but there are great health benefits too:
– Tones and strengthens all tissues in the body
– Improves digestion
– Improves circulation, therefore increasing longevity
– Reduces stress
– Eases anxiety (the sense of touch soothes vata)
– Eases tension headaches
– Nourishes, softens and moisturizes the skin
– Releases toxins
– Relives muscle tension and stiffness, improving flexibility
– Strengthens the immune system
And if this list isn’t enough, then just go because it feels good!! You will be happier to give to others once you have given yourself some nourishment and peace of mind first. I promise!
LOVE this! From my friend Vincent at Kindle Café in New Jersey, quoting Abraham Hicks: