Monthly Archives: September 2013

Ayurvedic Football?

ayurvedic_football

Okay before you think I’ve lost my Ayurvedic marbles, let me explain. A LOT of people love football and when football season begins, they feel like all is right in the world because their team is back on the field. It’s true and it seems so silly, but I am one of them. Don’t judge! I can like football and be Ayurvedic and here’s why :) It’s part of mine and so many others’ lives! So, since Ayurveda is all about LIFE, then maybe football is a little Ayurvedic (I’m totally ready for all the comments of people who think I’ve lost it), hey?

Hear me out. When football season starts, sooooo many people have a renewed sense of community. You feel it when hollering at the TV with your friends or high-fiving strangers in the stands. This “community” feeling (and sometimes you even get goosebumps!) come from our first chakra. The first chakra is our root or “tribe” chakra, which gives us a sense of home and common ground. Our root chakra is the chakra that says “you belong here.” Heck we might even say being a football fan for our favorite team is “part of our roots.” We are rooted in this as a routine or way of living based on those surrounding us. That’s what the first chakra does–it unites us. When we are little kids, we view our family, maybe our church, our graduating class or even yoga class as being our “tribe.”  A great example is when we sing the national anthem! Everybody knows it, everybody puts their hand on their heart, and everybody sings. It’s the space we consider home and includes others who feel the same thing. Make sense?

Sports fans all have the game in common. Often we see people hugging in the stands, clapping, screaming, jumping up and down…they don’t even know each other! The game unites us, giving us an excuse to get together with a common goal in mind. And no matter what differences we have, for that moment while the game is on, we are all one. Together all as one, we sing the chants, clap our hands, boo the referees, cheer with excitement, and share disappointment if our team loses. We are not independent, we are together.

See? I’m not that nutcakes. But you tell me, do you think this connection through sport is Ayurvedic? Maybe not football exactly (although more of those guys are doing yoga and some are even vegan!), but I have to admit, the ever-famous Lambeau Leap is the epitome of using our first chakra :) Packer fan or not, there’s something awesome that happens when we watch good ol’ LeRoy receive hugs and “atta boy” pats from the hometown fans. So good, so home. What are your thoughts?

Aggravated by Obstruction

aggravated_by_obstruction

question_masthead

Hi Monica! What I’ve learned is that I have a Vata imbalance, but not only do I have ‘obstructed’ or ‘blocked’ Vata; I also have aggravated Vata. From what I understand, it seems like obstructed Vata and aggravated Vata are two completely different things. Obstructed Vata can cause all kinds of ama build-up, as well as blocked Pitta and Kapha too, right? And then aggravated Vata means that the air/space elements are just totally out of control and running wild. My question, then, is… how the heck do I go about treating these two different Vata problems? According to Dr. Lad & David Frawley (in ‘The Yoga of Herbs’), obstructed Vata can be remedied by using pungent herbs/spices, stimulant herbs, carminatives and laxative/purgative herbs. But then I’m thinking, should someone with aggravated Vata be increasing their usage of stimulant herbs? It seems like that would be contraindicated. My main concern is really the obstructed Vata, though, so I’d greatly appreciate any tips that you might have for this!

Most super awesome question, Dominique! Thank you!
You are correct. Ayurveda can get extremely complex and full of layers. For the purposes of not blowing yours or other readers’ minds, I’ll keep it simple. Vata needs to flow in the proper direction at the proper speed or the person will end up with vata aggravation. One causes the other, they are not separate vata problems. Vata can move too fast (over flow) or it can be obstructed, or it can take an entirely different route all together (gone rogue)! Anything different than optimal vata flow, will create vata aggravation. I’ll toss in that when the issue of flow occurs, vata aggravation can happen to anyone, even if they are not primarily vata constitution. {leaving space here for you to digest that tid bit} Pitta and kapha cannot move without vata (energy of movement), so vata is involved in everything.

Per your question, you are correct in addressing the obstructed vata first, because that is the root cause. We need to remove the obstacle and/or correct the proper flow of vata first, then use rasayanas (rejuvenatives) to build the body back in a healthy way. The reason for the stimulant herbs is because they will remove the blockage. Stimulating herbs/spices are heating and vata is cold (kapha is too). So if you have a cold, dry wad of vata (or kapha) blockage, pungent spices and heat will clear it. Make sense? Some therapies in Ayurveda that can do that are a kitchari cleanse, ayurvedic oil massage (oils with vata-balancing herbs), steam room, warm vata-balancing teas and consistent yoga practice.

In a nutshell, how to clear the obstruction
Clear the blockage with stimulating herbs
• If needed, add Ayurvedic therapies* like herbal oil massage, basti (oil enema), kitchari cleanse, steam, teas
• Build the body back with a vata-balancing diet and a rasayana (like chyavanprash)
• Now that the obstruction is gone, the vata aggravation should lift so you can hum along in vata harmony :)

*Please work with a reputable Ayurvedic practitioner for guidance!

 

Vata Season, Baby!

Okay Okay. A few of you were asking me for my Vata Seasonal Bloom. A secret? I don’t love the design of it anymore – BUT the info is good. So I’ll pour my new design ideas into my book and just share this old thang. If you like it, SHARE!

vata_2013

Yeeeehaw! I’m so excited it’s vata season! Personally, this is my most favorite time of year. Raise your hands if this is your favorite time of year too! Wow. One, two, three, four…SO many of you. Why do you love it? Do share!

Right now, we are sniffing the cool fall wind as the leaves whisper a bit louder while they dry out. Pumpkin lattes are popping up at coffee shops. Maybe you are tossing in some cinnamon or nutmeg in your favorite teas or in your oatmeal. Soups are starting to sound tantalizing again. Need a jacket? Yep, that too. Well, at least a hoodie. You are probably getting ants in your pants (sooo typical vata, btw) because you can’t wait to wear your new sweaters and boots. Am I right? I know you. Peeps! Summer is leaving us as we move on to autumn, which in Ayurveda, begins vata season. Many of you smarties already know this, but vata season runs from fall until mid-winter. It’s the cold, crispy, windy, dry season that makes us want to curl up on the couch with a fuzzy blanket, toss some logs into the fireplace and enjoy a steaming cup of tea. To help explain a bit more, please enjoy my vata seasonal bloom and share with your friends and family. Oh, and don’t forget your slippers for max cozy factor ;)

Ritusandhi

ritusandi_header

We’re just about in the middle of ritusandhi! What-the-huh-what? :) Ritusandhi (RIH-doo-SAHN-dee)! It means the “joining” of seasons. An archive of my radio show, explains it – you might want to check it out. Or if you are the reader-type and like to learn with your wise eyes, read on!

In Ayurveda, we know that specific doshas govern specific seasons. You’ll want to check out Seasonal Bloom for Pitta, Seasonal Bloom for Vata, and Seasonal Bloom for Kapha. These are little seasonal guidelines I put together that include all kinds of seasonal information. If you haven’t read them yet, I highly suggest!

If you don’t want to read all that now, here’s the skinny:
Pitta governs: Summer
Vata governs: Fall thru Early Winter
Kapha governs: Late Winter thru Spring

Knowledge of what dosha rules which season is super valuable information because we can (and must) adjust our diet and lifestyles accordingly to stay healthy. For example, in summer we crave light and cooling foods, which balance pitta’s heating nature. In the winter, we need heavier, oilier comfort foods which balance vata’s cold and light qualities. When it’s cold out, we need warmth. When it’s hot out, we need cool. When it’s wet out, we need dry. Sounds pretty simple and intuitive, doesn’t it? Great. And that’s what Ayurvedic principals are all about…using opposites to balance the doshas.

Therefore, it’s important to not only know how to manage ourselves during the seasons, but also during ritusandi, which is the “joint” between seasons. It’s basically 15 days (8 days before solstice and 8 days after. I know that adds up to 16. I didn’t write the ancient texts…). Transitioning from one season to the other is when we tend to get sick. Our bodies have been used to the routine, food, and lifestyle of the last season and without some prep work, switching to a new season immediately is a shock to the system which affects our immunity. Ah hah! Kiss that summer cold goodbye and learn how to prevent it!

Below is a chart that shows how the energies mellow and increase during a year’s time.

ritusandhi

Notice that when the curve dips, the previous dosha is low while the next dosha is just ramping up? This is ritusandhi and when you want to start getting ready for the upcoming season. How do you do that? I’ll tell you.

• Definitely consider doing a kitchari cleanse for 5 solid days to rid old toxins and rebuild the body-mind with renewed cells and tissues. And yes, I do recommend doing this 3x a year! It’s the cheapest and most effective way to give our body a well needed “oil change” at home.
• If you have the means, the time, and a good Ayurvedic resource near you, consider doing panchakarma (5 cleasnses) once a year. This also in my radio show archives, but you need to work with a reputable Ayurvedic Practitioner.
• Incorporate foods that are appropriate for the upcoming season while weaning off foods from the last season. Nature is pretty good at setting us up for this…you can shop farmer’s markets which are almost always harmonious with nature and seasons.
• Change your exercise routine to match the season, if necessary. Cooling exercises like biking, swimming outdoors, and surfing should be done in warmer months. Whereas in the winter, cross country skiing keeps us toasty warm/sweaty on the inside and keeps both feet on the ground. Yoga is good for all seasons :)
• Stick to the daily routine…it’s nature’s law! The only thing that shifts is sunrise and sunset. The rest is to be followed, always.
• Keep in mind your dosha! If you are vata, you are almost never going to be drinking ice water! If you are a pitta, you’ll always want to be mindful of anything too spicy or fermented. If you are kapha, you will always want to be mindful of too many sweets.
• The Seasonal Blooms (beginning of post) will give you more details about each dosha and each season. Check them out, they will help you!!

Ayurvedic Rules

question_masthead

All right, Monica! Two questions for you. First, I was thinking of trying to practice this Ayurveda way of life you’ve been talking about. My dad has had a lot of health problems lately and I’ve been thinking it might be time for me to try to fight these things before they start with me. Could you point me in the right direction on where to start…a book, recipes, how to take small steps at first? And second, if I’m a Kapha, do I need to follow those Ayurvedic “rules” all year long or do they change with the season. I’ve been reading your posts for a while and I’m a little confused. If it’s vata season, do I follow vata “rules” or do I follow Kapha all year long? 

All right, Jen! :) Thank you for your questions. First of all, check out this article on where to get started. That should help guide you in the right direction! To sum it up briefly:
1) know your dosha(s), or at least somewhat close. You will discover more about yourself as you go! That is to be expected.
2) read the seasonal bloom that sounds most like you a) vata b) pitta c) kapha
3) eat good foods that come from a good place.
4) follow the daily routine

Second, super awesome question. Seasonal rules do apply to everyone to some extent, but you will mostly follow the kapha rules all year long. Your “go to” Ayurvedic rules will be to use the kapha-balancing lifestyle and nutrition guidelines (in the seasonal bloom) because YOU are a kapha person. Yeah? Make sense? The reason why seasons are important is because of the “like increases like” rule in Ayurveda. In spring (kapha season), the likelihood that your kapha will increase (allergies, sniffles, congestion, weight gain, etc.,) is much higher because the surrounding nature is very kapha-like too. So, kapha nature + kapha Jen = too much kapha. See what I mean?

That said, during summer (pitta season), you won’t have to worry about your kapha increasing, but your pitta will increase (which warms and balances your kapha) because it’s pitta nature time. Everybody’s pitta increases in summer which is why we crave ice cream, fresh fruits, cool water, etc., Same as, everybody wears warm coats in the winter to add another layer of warmth. Now, you might be thinking, “Okay but what if my pitta goes really high in the summer!? How would I know?” If you are naturally one dosha, it’s not likely that another dosha will overtake your entire being based on seasons alone. If you follow the diet and lifestyle guidelines according to your dosha(s), you will be mostly on track. Adjust to the seasons by eating seasonal foods and that’s all you really need to worry about…at least for a beginner :)

Does this help? Anybody have more questions on this? Happy to clarify if I’ve left something out. Miss you too, Jen!! Love you! xoxox