Monthly Archives: April 2012

Vamakukshi

I’m about to tell you one of the most brill practices in Ayurveda and that is, vamakukshi! Vamakukshi is a daily Ayurvedic cat nap to be taken after lunch. Heloooo! How awesome is that?! Some of you who are very familiar with Ayurveda might be thinking, “Wait, I thought that naps are not good because they increase kapha and can cause weight gain.” You are not wrong and that is true of long naps.

But, because lunch should be the biggest meal of the day, Ayurveda says that a little rest is good to let the body fully concentrate on digestion. Vamakukshi (say it with me! Vah-mah-KOOK-shee, vamakukshi!) is simply, laying on the left side for 20 minutes and is more of a snooze than a full on nap. The reason vamakukshi is good to practice is because when we eat, all the blood goes to our digestive system, which makes our brains slow down and physical bodies too. This is why we feel a little sleepy after lunch. And! If the meal is too heavy, we might say we’re in a “food coma” or have a “burrito baby.” On top of that, if we run around pushing our bodies and brains to do more while it’s trying to digest (like eating a heavy burrito on the go!), our body-mind will get confused and leave the food unattended while it answers your request to think/do more.  A main cause of ama (toxins)! This is yet another reason why we need to connect our minds to our food and sit down when we eat. Oh! And we lay on our left side because the right side is heating. We want our right side facing up (heat rises!) while the sun is hottest at lunch, to enhance the strength of our digestive fire! :)

I know what you’re thinking. “MonicaB, I have back to back meetings for most of the day and am lucky if I get a lunch at all, much less a va-whatever-koochi!” I empathize. Many other cultures are allowed a break for a long lunch and rest in the afternoon, but American’s are not. We just don’t see that as “important” or “productive” enough, unfortunately. Or, maybe we do, but our bosses and companies would never tolerate us curling up under our desks with a blankie. I get it. But you still have to take a lunch…so you might as well do it up the best you can!

But here are some things to do:
• Do vamakukshi on weekends – yay! Perfect time to practice that. 2 days out of 7 is better than none at all.
• Sit on a chair and in the lounge at work for 20 minutes. Relax, maybe flip through a magazine. Not perfect, but it’s still relaxing and better than rushing to check email.
• Go for a 20 minute stroll. A stroooll, not a powerwalk. This is great for kapha-types.
• If there is a courtyard, park, or grassy area near your work, vamakukshi there or sit on a bench for a few minutes.

In all our American-ness, despite our crazy schedules, the most important part is to be conscious that digestion needs to take place at least 20 minutes after you eat. Ayurveda never promotes eating on the go and this is why. If you understand the principle behind vamakukshi, maybe you can find other creative ways to incorporate 20 minutes of rest after your lunch! If you come up with anything clever, share it with us – we would love to hear.

Bit of Wisdom {39}

Just got off the phone at my day job with someone who was having a rough time. I told him to HOLD HIS FAITH, HOLD HIS VISION. Just because his eyes don’t see it in front of him, things are happening behind the scenes. Always believe that – send out your wish and then know that forces are working to make it happen – even if your eyes don’t see it at the moment. Believe.

Bit Of Wisdom {38}

For those of you just beginning to use Ayurveda, start slow and take it one step at a time. If you are headed in the right direction, all you have to do is keep on walking. A healthy body and healthy life will begin to unfold for you.

Pretend It’s Friday

Hey 9-5ers! It’s totally Thursday. But it’s been a long week so I’m pretending it’s Friday. I always enjoy Fridays. They feel free, vibrant, creative, expansive and very very close to the weekend. Isn’t it true? We might even take a lunch break on a Friday and for a lot of people who work the 9-5 grind, that’s a luxury.

So here’s what I suggest. If Friday makes you feel that much better and helps you realize the great life you have, then (whispering) pretend it’s Friday today. And treat it as such. Did your shoulders drop? Maybe you smiled? Maybe your mind got happy thinking about the weekend? Maybe that got you thinking about having a nice dinner tonight or practicing your yoga. Maybe you felt your energy shift to a more positive space? Ahh…that’s the place to be in spirit, mind and body. Welcome to the peace of Friday (even though it’s totally not). And the best part?!?! You can have Friday all over again tomorrow!! :)

The power of the mind is incredible. Just by shifting our thoughts we release our physical and mental bodies. Just. Like. That.

Namaste my friends and Happy Friday (in spirit)!! Wooo!!

Wrong Food Combinations

Graphic for Wrong Food CombinationsAs you’ve been learning about Ayurveda, you know how we stress the importance of digestion. Instead of, “You are what you eat” Ayurveda says, “You are what you digest.” That little saying really reminds us that the focus is not only in what we eat, but how we eat it, at what time, and which foods are best for us based on our individual make-up.

Food provides the basic building blocks for our entire physical and mental bodies. That’s it! Just food. You know that you feel better or worse depending on the quality of foods you’ve been eating. And because we are no dummies, we know that fresh veggies and fruits are better nourishment for us than a Cadbury Egg or bag of Doritos. We know that. It’s pretty much elementary nutrition and something we’ve known since we were kids. (I’m not here to take away your fun: Once a year, a Cabury Egg is not going to imbalance you. In moderation, sweeties are to be enjoyed and savored. But if you eat a dozen…yeah, that’s not good.)

So! Whatever we put in our mouths is proper nourishment…or not. And! We usually know the difference between the two.

But here’s something you probably don’t know. In Ayurveda, there are certain food combinations that should be avoided. While an annual Cadbury Egg won’t hurt you, the consistent practice of incompatible foods probably will imbalance your digestion (gas, bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, etc.,) whether instantly or over time. So many people complain of digestion issues—it’s probably the number one complaint from my clients! I’m giving you the information not to be a huge downer, but to give you proper tools to help your tum-tum feel better and to healthify you!!

Wrong Food Combinations:
Dairy & Fruit. Fruit sours and curdles the milk in our stomachs. (my 9 month-old has been coming home after daycare spitting up because they are giving her banana or mango as a snack and then immediately milk. No bueno!)
Dairy & Fish. No cheese on that Filet O’Fish! (*wink* I know you’re not eatin’ Filet O’Fishes) Salmon with lemon, salt and pepper, little rice, little veggies is a good choice. Mm!
Dairy & Meat. Too heavy, murky, and way hard on digestion! Have meat with veggies
Eggs & Milk.
Milk should basically be consumed by itself.
You could have it as a snack in between meals or in place of a dinner if you’re not very hungry. You can have it with non yeasty grains, like cereal. No banana or strawberries on the cereal.
Fruit and fruit juice should be consumed by itself. Again, think of it as a snack.
No yogurt unless you turn it into a lassi. Mango lassi is not Ayurvedic!

As we approach warmer weather, we might be tempted by “smoothie” concoctions of fruit and milk/yogurt and maybe even of frozen yogurt shops with fruits. Unfortunately these don’t go together. And yes, that means Pinkberry. I’m sorry. Have caramel sauce instead. :p

If you look at the list, it’s not all that complicated and it’s already pretty intuitive. I mean, drinking milk with fish just sounds nast. If you really think about berries and milk or pineapple and milk, those combos seem a little strange too, right? For us Americans, the biggest challenge will be not to combine fruit and diary because that combo is everywhere! But if you remain conscious of that and just remember that fruits are eaten alone, I think you will find it simple. What do you think? Does this sound impossible living the way we do now? Or, have you noticed certain combinations irritate your tummy – if so, what are they? Would love your thoughts! xoxo!

Got Ta Keep on Movin’

In a previous post on exercise for your dosha, I stress how important it is to get up and move our bodies, daily. This could not be truer, especially for our sweet, sweet, kaphas. Remember in Ayurveda, like increases like. So, kapha-type people + kapha season = wetness, heaviness, stickiness, chilliness, cloudiness, and an overall feeling of wanting to stay sedentary.

The cure to release kaphas of these qualities is to use the opposite qualities for balance (dry, light, warm, clear, movement). I often advise to my kapha clients that the number one thing they need to do to feel better is move! Sweat! Walk those legs! Dance that tush! Swing those arms! It’s tough to get a kapha person to move but once they do, they will feel glorious! Their happy-go-lucky selves get their glow back. They will glisten. Moving the body increases heat, improves circulation, releases stagnation, and gives agni (digestive fire) a well needed boost. A good sweat releases excess water, salt, and toxins. And if it’s fun enough, kaphas will want to do it over and over again. So the key is, make your moving fun. Grab a buddy and keep it enjoyable. That said, don’t get so caught up in conversation with your buddy that you end up meandering instead of power walking (I know you).

Below I’ve provided some necessary inspiration. And if it speaks to you, shake that booty and fling your arms like a Solid Gold Dancer (does it look like there are batons flying around in the background?! Ha!). Get movin, kaphas! xoxo.