Monthly Archives: May 2010

40 Ways Yoga Heals

Hey! For those of you practicing or those who have been wanting to try yoga, I found this great list of 40 ways yoga heals! I got it from a super yummy book, Yoga As Medicine by Timothy McCall, MD.

Yoga and Ayurveda are ancient sisters and they work hand in hand. To put it simply, yoga is the practice that gets our minds ready for meditation. You might say, “But hey, yoga is physical, not really mental.” Well, in a nutshell (a very tiny nutshell) the physical poses in yoga work to calm the mind, so the spirit can open.

And, Ayurveda is the lifestyle that compliments yoga practice. Vice versa one could say that yoga practice completes an Ayurvedic lifestyle. Ideally in life, you would do both of them together because they sort of rely on each other. Ayurveda will encompass diet, lifestyle management, cleansing (panchakarma) therapies, herbal recommendations, pranayama (breathing techniques), and massage therapies. Yoga is the asanas (poses) that touch on the subtle channels of the body, to promote flow and help the mind calm down. Hopefully this wee nugget of info can help you understand the difference between these two lovely sisters.

Tip: Soothing Eyes

For tired or irritated eyes, soak cosmetic pads in rose water and rest on closed eye lids. Cucumber slices also work. Both will reduce redness, soothe the eyes, and add sparkle!

Fruitful Skin

Every month I get a really wonderful fruit box in the mail, but this month I got papayas that were past their ripened stage and a little funky lookin’. I called the company and because they are awesome, they are sending me new fruit. But it left me thinking, “What should I do with these papayas?” My first instinct with over ripe fruit is to put it on my face. Hah! I love taking ingredients from the fridge or over ripe fruit and mixing some sort of facial goo.

So, I ran and grabbed a newly favorite natural skin care book, Return To Beauty written by Narine Nikogosian. AND, I’m super excited because I’m going to get a facial from her this week for the first time! *squeal!*

Anywho, her book has over 200 recipes ALL with foods, oils, fruits and things you can eat. Our skin is our largest organ and anything you put on it, gets absorbed into the body. A good rule of thumb is, if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.

The handy part about the book is that you can look up the fruit in the back and it takes you to the recipes in the book. The one I used for papaya is a moisturizer and it’s SO pretty! It looks like orange sherbet and it made my skin super smooth.

I HIGHLY recommend getting your hands on the book! Now I just need a tiny refrigerator for my bathroom so I can keep my sour cream facial cleaner and papaya-nut-yogurt moisturizer in there without having to run up and down the stairs to the kitchen ;) xo

Bit of Wisdom {26}

Every day new cells are created. Every day we have the option to renew our bodies and minds. Bad habits & wrong choices become our cells & our physical bodies. One new choice, one deep breath, one kind gesture, one big hug will begin to change our cells, slowly creating a whole new you. You are WAY more powerful than you give yourself credit for. Believe in yourself, MAKE it happen!!

Water Rules

“You should drink 8 glasses of water a day”

“Drink a glass of water before your meal for weight loss because you won’t eat as much”

“Divide your body weight by half, change that to ounces, and that’s how much water you should drink a day”

Any of these sound familiar? These are just three examples of information we are given about drinking water. AND, I’m going to say, don’t listen to them. Listen to YOU. We are all different bodied, minded, beautiful people and we all have different needs. Ayurveda has a totally different take on drinking water and as always, it has to do with who YOU are. It also has to do with nature’s clock and how strong one’s agni (digestive fire) is.

Think about it. A kapha person is made of water & earth. Kaphas don’t like to move, so they rarely sweat (thus keeping water inside). Kapha people also have low digestive fire and tend toward weight gain. And what does water do to fire? Yep, puts it out. SO! If a kapha person followed the second statement above in a quest to reduce their weight and drank a glass of water before each meal, their agni is instantly squelched and so is their ability to digests the meal properly. They just put out their metabolic fire. And they probably created ama. SEE how these blanket statement water rules can go wrong!?

Another example, pitta people are hotter (sweat, metabolism, stress) than a vata or kapha. Therefore, pittas are more thirsty because their fire is constantly burning and they need water to cool down and replenish. For them, more water helps them balance. SO! I’ll help set the record straight and I’m sorry if I confuse you. Please read with an open heart and an open mind. I want you to be healthy and I’m here to make life easy and happy!! xoxo.

RULES FOR DRINKING WATER
• No ice!
Ice shocks the system, hampers digestion, and closes channels. Pittas can have cool water, but no ice.
• Sip small amount of warm water or tea with a meal. Have water 1 hour after the meal. Sipping a little warm water will help the food soften and prepare for digestion. But, if you drink cold water before, during or after a meal, your digestive fire will get put out. It’s the fastest way to weight gain, lethargy, indigestion, and ama (toxins). In Ayurveda, drinking water right after a meal is considered a poison.
• Drink when you are thirsty. Not because you are trying to match a magic number or because you think you have to keep your water bottle full. If you are a sweaty athlete, you will require more. If you work behind a desk (ahem!) you won’t need as much because you are not exerting heat or water.
• Have a glass of room temp water first thing in the morning. Awesome to flush the system from it’s night time processing. Good for the bowels, liver, kidneys.
• Know your agni. If you have strong metabolism, you will burn up water in your body faster, which will require more water. If your digestion is sluggish and you are prone to weight gain (kapha) or bloating (vata), sip warm water and don’t guzzle agua with your meals.
• Vatas need the most water (dry dry dry), pittas need moderate water and will likely slug water all day, kaphas need less water.

Little Liver Tips

Sure! I’ve got some thoughts (and apparently the desire to draw a little liver). There are some simple spices you can use and even some fun concoctions if you want to get a little fancy.

1. Tumeric is a good one – they come in capsules or you can use in cooking.

2. CCF Tea (Cumin, Corriander, Fennel – all seeds). Take 1 tsp of each and boil in a pot of water for 5 min. Strain the seeds and drink. You can drink warm or room temp. Sip all day! It’s way tastier than it sounds ;)

3. You can make a hot infusion of Corriander seeds (1 tsp) and Cumin seeds (1/2 tsp). Boil water. Crush the seeds. Dump the seeds into the water and let it sit over night. In the morning, strain the seeds and drink the water first thing in the morning. This will cleanse the kidneys, urinary tract and liver.

The liver and blood is governed by pitta. If pitta has run amuck and it’s affecting the liver, that means it will also affect the blood, the skin, and possibly the eyes (all pitta parts). This is how Ayurveda encompasses the entire being because the problem is not just in one area. And therefore, we don’t fix just the area, we treat the person. Three cheers!!

Using spices to heal is a great start, but you will need to include lifestyle changes also. Reducing stress, regular exercise, getting good sleep (bed by 10!), eating fresh foods, reducing salty, spicy, fermented foods, all will help lower pitta and will therefore keep your little liver healthy! Oh, and don’t forget to breathe. So hummmm. xo!

Kapha Balancing Spice Mix

kapha spice mix

 

Hey! One of you inquired about a kapha balancing spice mix to help clear excess kapha. Indeed I have one!

For those of you who want more information, here is a thorough article from Maharishi Ayurveda with their perspective. Note: remember in Ayurveda we do not treat “cholesterol” because a) it’s a medical term and that’s a no-no b) we treat the person, not the disease c) Ayurveda looks at the whole diet and lifestyle. I can help with b) and c).

If you want the short version, here is my summary of the article: Basically cholesterol (which Monica B did not say) is a kapha imbalance. Remembering that kapha is lubrication and structure (it sticks and holds things together), in the case of cholesterol, kapha has created an increased “collection.”

This “collection” reflects too much meda dhatu (fat tissue), which is also caused by a kapha increase. Why does kapha increase in the first place? Could be several reasons (mental, emotional, stress factors), but the main reason is likely low agni (digestive fire). Malfunctioning agni is responsible for 90% of all disease, which means if we don’t digest our food properly, we’ll eventually get some kind of imbalance. The key is to digest, assimilate, and eliminate foods properly (golden rule!) and you won’t get sick.

It’s also important to follow a kapha balancing diet and lifestyle if you have high cholesterol. Split lentils, mung dahl, garbanzo beans (hummus!) are good. All veggies are a big YES! Greens like kale, spinach, collard greens. All would be great sauteéd in a little ghee and add the spice mix below. Fruits like apples, pears, prunes and figs are also helpful for cholesterol because they help clean the bowels. Proper pooping is very important because it is directly connected to healthy agni. So pay attention :)

Avoid salts, cheeses, red meats, heavy breads, potatoes, goopy oil foods, fried foods, and yogurt. And as always, the fresher the food, the better.

Also, don’t forget about exercise! Kaphas don’t like to move much, but it’s exactly what they need. They need to get their sweat on at least 20-30 minutes daily. For kaphas who are lazy, try kapalbhati pranayam :)

Below is a recipe of spices that all have kapha reducing qualities. Together they will heat, dry and move excess kapha out. Sprinkle on toast in the morning. You can sauteé with cooked veggies and stir frys or sprinkle on rice or pasta (rice and pastas should be the smallest portion on the plate for kapha, veggies should be more).

Kapha Balancing Spice Mix
You can make a nice sized batch and keep in a lidded jar. Sprinkle on foods like rice, barley soup, veggies, savory toast or english muffin. Use to also sauteé vegetables or make an “Indian-ey” fried rice. Share with loved ones!!

3 parts ground turmeric
6 parts ground cumin
6 parts ground coriander
6 parts ground fennel
2 parts ground fenugreek
1 part dried powdered ginger
1 part ground black pepper

Take a Breather

Show of hands, who is stressed? Yep, many of us are. Women especially, tend to tackle a lot at once and then wonder how they are going to get it all done. Instead of invigoration, this can result in negative emotions like stress, anxiety, panic, and a sense of ungroundedness. Sort of defeats the purpose of living the good life and loving the work, right?!

We learn tools to manage our time and finances, but what about our psyche? The mind is what rules our entire being, so shouldn’t we have a tool to help us bring peace and clarity when stressed?

My friends, there is a simple tool to use that we often overlook. It is, breath. Good old fashioned lips-closed, nose-open, breath. Ayurveda says there are two channels in the nose (one in each nostril) which are the quickest pathways to the mind. Just ten deep, slow breaths through the nose will instantly calm you. The negative emotions will vanish and you are able focus on the task at hand.

It works flawlessly because the two channels have alternate energies. The left side is male energy, which is hot and it relates to the sun. The right side is female energy, which is cool and it relates to the moon. Focused breathing equalizes the opposite qualities and when practiced, the entire body balances out physically, emotionally, and mentally. Slow breaths tell the mind we are okay and at peace. When we breathe like a bunny (fast and irregular), our mind thinks there is a crisis, which sends panic signals to the rest of the body. This is how physical imbalances can happen over time and why stress has become the number one killer. No bueno.

So let’s keep the peace and remember to breathe You will stay focused, happy, and most importantly, healthy!!

Taking a Breather
Here are some different pranayama you can try:
• My favorite is So Hum!! You can practice in the morning or at bedtime for 5-10 minutes. You can also keep this in your toolbox of health tips and use as needed i.e., long commute, standing in the coffee line, when you get a stressful email.
Nadi Shodhanam
Kapalbhati

Cooling Pranayama (for pitta types or anger, when you feel like you could breathe fire…do these)

• Sheetkali: Clench teeth and inhale through the teeth. Feel the cool! Exhale through the nose.
• Sheetali (this one is fun!): Roll your tongue and inhale through the tongue. Also very cooling! Exhale through the nose.

Give Yourself Permission to Shine

Sometimes I find myself not really doing all I want to be doing or know that I am capable of doing. Then come in the echoing comments from school teachers, “She doesn’t work to her full potential…” Beh. Do you find the same thing? Ok maybe not the school teacher thing, but maybe you are bursting at the seams with great ideas. Then when you look around, you change your mind and give yourself a million reasons why you can’t possibly go through with it.
Ok. This is fear talking!! And believe it or not, some of us have a fear of success (A good book that addresses this is The Artists Way by Julia Cameron). But I guess we can sit in our safe (yet totally uninspiring) jobs/cities/houses/relationships, where it’s easy OR we can actually make a move. And in that, do something great for the world and for ourselves. It’s not always easy, but sometimes you need a little sparkle of light and love to keep you going. The poem below does that for me. I only know of it because Kimberly Wilson (Isn’t she a doll!? Ah, my favorite little yogini) shared it with us at her book signing. If it resonates, print it and put it next to your uninspiring thing in life.
Our Deepest Fear by Marianne Williamson
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.