Category Archives: Physical Imbalances

What IS Ayurveda?

I’ve been writing about Ayurveda for 8.5 years now and have watched it grow rapidly. I’d like to take a step back for a second and answer the question, “What is Ayurveda?”

When I started heymonicab.com in 2008, I would say, “I study and teach Ayurveda” and nobody had a clue what I was talking about. But now I say, “I teach Ayurveda! Have you heard of it?” They say, “Yes! I’ve heard of it.” I respond with, “Do you know what it is?” And they usually say something like, “Mehhh, kinda? No, not really…” This funny looking word has gone from something nobody knew about to something that people now recognize. It’s not quite so foreign anymore!

This is where I come in. If people are able to recognize it now, they’re ready for more information. I created this video to answer the question, “What is Ayurveda?” to give the newbies a broad idea of what it’s all about. Enjoy!

2017 Vata Seasonal Bloom

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Download Blue Button

I’m EXCITED for you to have these Vata Freebies!
You get Vata Season Webinar + Vata Seasonal Bloom (14-page health guide)!

Let’s talk about vata + the weekend for a sec.
Computers make us feel anxious, so why don’t you print Seasonal Bloom and read it by the fireplace or in your favorite chair. Print is more balancing than the screen, plus it is so lovely you will want it in your hands.
*inhale* *exhale*

We live in a HIGHLY imbalanced vata world with things like computers, smart phones, traffic, and social media. We get anxiety over what we think we should be doing and who we think we should be. *breathe* You are perfectly aligned on your path. You are already doin’ it. The world is just moving faster than ever (hyper-vata) and you can feel that zippy energy, which can create an internal panic.

Let’s slow it down and use this weekend to disconnect from all that stuff.

Find a pumpkin. Cook a meal. Sink into a long bath. Free flow on a bike ride. Catch views from your favorite hike (even if it’s urban). Bust out your paints. Go to the high school football game. Say hello to the yarn basket. Savor a magazine. Power walk with your favorite person. {insert your ideas here}

Let’s bring it down. You are perfectly as you should be, perfectly on your path.
You don’t need to move faster, just trust and slow it down.
*inhale* *exhale*

BIG LOVE! (it’s not you, it’s just vata!)

 

 

Pitta Seasonal Bloom 2016

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Pitta season is in full swing — it’s SUMMER time! Summer means sun, summer rain, sweat, swimming pools, popsicles, watermelon, bare feet, vacation, sun hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and…go find shade! There is so much to look forward to and I’m excited to share my Pitta Seasonal Bloom download with you!

Why is seasonal balance important in Ayurveda? Remember our Ayurvedic foundation, “like increases like.” Which means when the elements/doshas are dominant in us AND in nature, they can overflow and create imbalance in us. When we are imbalanced we start to feel like crud and if we feel like crud for too long, eventually we will notice physical ailments in our bodies or minds. SO! The goal in Ayurveda is to avoid feeling like crud and live optimally by staying in harmony with nature instead of working against it.

Pitta seasonal bloom has loads of diet & lifestyle tips for your mind, body and spirit. Here’s to a happy and healthy summer! *clink!*

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Post-cleanse eating

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Spring is a popular time to do cleanses. Whatever the garden variety of cleanse (there are tons), everybody is talkin’ about cleansing. Here’s what nobody tells you: We should not eat normally right after the cleanse!

Below is an excerpt from my book In Your Elements on ensuring digestive benefits from your cleanse.

After the cleanse is just as important as the cleanse itself.

It is important to slowly rebuild agni to be good and strong. Don’t say, “Yay! My cleanse is over! I’m going out for steak and wine and chocolate cake!”

No, no, no, don’t do that. If you eat normally right after the cleanse, agni won’t be strong enough, and you will start building up ama (toxins) right away. Counterproductive!

Instead build the digestive system back up slowly.
The day after the cleanse, have liquid soup with veggies. The next day, have soup with veggies and rice or noodles, maybe a slice of bread. You could even make a batch of kitchari. Next day you can start eating normally.

See that? A little step-by-step process to eating normal again. Note: You must do this with ANY cleanse or you will reverse the benefits and actually make your digestion worse. It’s really important!

Has anybody experienced a good or bad end to a cleanse based on what you ate immediately after? Inquiring (yet judge-free) minds want to know! XO!

6 Ayurvedic Tips to Balance the Time Change

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Oh man, our clocks changed! Just as we got used to the glow of the sun waking us, it’s pitch black again when the alarm goes off. The reward is a longer day, which, “Hooray for daylight!” but the time change can still throw us off. Time change in Ayurveda affects vata because, well, we’ve made a fast change. *Poof* just like that, we gained an “extra hour.” It can take some of us weeks to adjust but hopefully the tips below will help you slide back nicely into nature’s rhythm quickly.

6 Ayurvedic tips to balance the time change

1. Wake up before sunrise. Ha! Easy enough to do now, ’cause you kind of have no choice. My point is, just because it’s dark at 6:00 a.m., don’t go hittin’ the snooze until the sun comes up. We already know waking up during vata time (before sunrise) gives us a daily boost because as we rise in the energy of movement. So keep doing that! Yes it’s dark, but you’ll have more energy than if you pull the covers over your head until sunrise. Not only is sunrise kapha time and therefore slow time, but you’ll be late for work (pssst, ’cause work still starts at the same time).

2. Cook at home, with fresh ingredients. As always in Ayurveda we strive to put the best foods in our bodies, always. During the time change, it’s especially important. Best is to make sure foods are made at home with fresh ingredients including plenty of fruits and veg. Not too much dairy!

food ideas!
• Instead of Chinese take out, make fried rice at home, use extra veggies and less soy sauce (salt).
• Instead of delivery pizza, pick up some pre-made pizza dough (Trader Joe’s has it), brush some olive oil onto the crust (bonus if you want to infuse the oil with garlic) or a little sauce. Add a wee, thin layer of cheese. Then load up the crust with all your favorite vegetables like kale, zucchini, peppers, whatever you love.
• Do I even need to tell you a nice batch of kitchari will help set you straight?
• Instead of sit-down Mexican, grab all the supplies including beans, meat (if you choose), avocado (yes please!), peppers, corn tortillas (bonus if you make them yourself), rice, fresh cilantro and all the fixin’s. You will have far less salt and sugar in what you make at home. I advise skipping the taco seasoning and make your own mix with cumin, chili powder, and other spices.Or, a little salt & pepper is all you might need. Choose the fresh-made salsa in the produce isle instead of the room-temp stuff in the chip isle. Below is a pic of my dinner last night: homemade spanish rice, homemade tortillas, avocado, bell peppers, cilantro and hot sauce. mm!

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3. Limit salts & processed sugars. Tons of excess salts and sugars lurk in foods especially from chain-restaurants, pre-packaged foods or frozen foods. Eating those foods at any time can make it extremely challenging to wake up in the morning (cue the, “I’ve feel like I’ve been hit with a baseball bat” wake-up). Salt holds water and creates heat so it’s great for vata-types in winter, but no bueno for kapha season. So again, keep foods as veggied and fruitied and grainy-ed as you can! Fresh fresh!

4. Oil Massage! “Yeah yeah, Monica B. You and your oil massages.” Dude, but since time change is a vata change and we calm vata directly through the skin, now is a perfect time not to slack on oil massages. Plus your skin will feel like a baby! Trust me.

5. Water. Drink plenty of it — not too cold and no ice (vata-imbalancing). You might be drawn to choosing extra coffee or stimulants to keep your peeky eyes awake since you got up early, but try not to have any more (if any) than you normally would. Choose extra water since water flows…it will help you go with the flow

6. Normal bed time. It’s only been one day since the time change, so you might still look at the clock at 10:00 p.m. and think, “Pah, it’s really only 9:00…I can stay up for another hour.” No, it’s really 10:00 p.m. ;) So get your lil’ booty to sleep on time so you can wake up in the dark easier (hehe).

7. So Hum. As you prepare for sleep, lay in your right side and do “so hum” mantra and meditation for a minimum of 10 minutes. If you fall asleep before you’re done with the 10 minutes, bonus!

If you adhere to these things for 3-5 days in a row, you won’t even notice the time change, I promise.
Hint: You can use these same tips for air travel!
Double Hint: You can do these things daily and change your entire life! <—10% off with code 6ZE83B8R thru 3-31-16.

XOXO!

E-gads I’m Overeating!

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On the 6th day of Ayurveda my spirit gave to me,

E-GADS I’M OVEREATING!

…Eeep despite our awesome knowledge and best intentions about mindfully eat healthy for our dosha, SOMEtimes during the holidays, we just over eat. Or, we just eat a lot of sweets. Or, maybe a lot of cheese. Or maybe the olive and pickle platter (salt) is our downfall. Each person will have some kind of tantalizing vice they can’t wait to get their mits on during holiday.

Um, I’m not going to take that away from you, nor am I going to make you feel bad about it.

That goes for you too. If you overate or ate the “wrong” things, please do not judge or scold yourself. You were probably having fun. You were probably momentarily swept away by celebrating love, generosity, laughter, spirit and joy — which is not a bad thing! Heck, even if you snuck some extra chocolates at the “snack area” (by the printer?) at work, I only hope that you SAVOR-ed every single one of them as they melted in your mouth. And I hope you said to yourself, “DANG that was good.” Because THAT is mindful eating.

I am not going to list “10 Ayurvedic Tips to Losing Holiday Pounds” Nope. That’s not how we roll here. What if, you just sit and notice how you feel instead of super-fast trying to fix it? That is, being in our body and experiencing it. What if we told ourselves, “Well, these are not the results I wanted obviously, but man that was fun. And! I know myself and the tools I have to get back to balance. On we go…” Our knee jerk reaction often is, “Gah! Get these pounds off and fast! Like, in 2 days!” But that’s such a rough message to send ourselves and makes us just feel…BAD. No sense in that. Be kinder. If we feel extra heaviness, of course we want to get back to feeling lighter, but let us do so in loving kindness to ourselves.

Here are MonicaB’s gentle loving tips about overeating during holiday:
• I hope you payed enough attention to savor it all
• No judging
• You can eat light or fast until you are hungry again
• You can move your body a little extra
• If you indulge one day, have much less the next day (keeps the balance!)
• If you indulge for an entire week, put a special focus on mindful eating and moving your body for the next week or two

And a Monica B full on confession: I plan on eating those green Cornflake wreaths made with marshmallows and decorated with red hots. Like so…

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They might be the most Un-Ayurvedic thing I could put in my body. Green food coloring, people! My mom makes them with love. I look forward to them. I eat them once a year and I love the sh*t out of every bite. I’ll stay balanced because 90% of what I eat is high quality and balancing for my dosha, so these sugary little do-dads won’t have a long term effect. But I will freak out (every time) when my poop is green.

 

And sing it back down…

5 Oops, too many cocktails!
4 Wisdom for right choices
3 Staying in the present
2 A path for evolving
1 Permission for my authenticity

Super Itchy Skin Season

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Hoooo. Welcome to “Super itchy skin Season” I mean, well, that’s probably not the official name of the season. Most would call it vata season or, fall. Anywho, if we have not already started practicing daily oil massage by now, our skin is probably letting us know it. We know it’s dry when our skin starts to show it’s texture and we can write the word “Dry” on the back of our hand with our fingernail (who remembers that commercial?). We know it’s dry when lotion buurrrns our skin (Why? Cause alcohol is one of the first ingredients in most skin lotion which dries it out further and makes it sting!). We might also wake up in the middle of the night with itchy-itchy dry scratchy legs like I did couple years ago and almost went nuts!

Most of you guys know by now that it’s time for OILS. Maybe we should rename it “Oil Season.” That sends a better message. Oils soak into our skin (especially warm oil – it’s heavenly) and also create a barrier to the outside cold, dry air. If we use oils daily, we won’t get super-itchy-skin or wake up in the middle of the night with itches. As a bonus, applying warm oil massage promotes sound sleep and can be used as a relaxation technique to unwind before bed.

Here are some ways to sneak in oils each day:
• Daily Oil Massage (yes, even for busy people), ideally in the morning before shower.
• Keep a small bottle of oil at your desk. Use like you would lotion and apply to forehead, cheeks, hands, arms, shins (if you start rubbing oil above your knees at work, people will think it’s just weird). Make sure it’s rubbed in really well.
• If you didn’t do massage in the morning then apply warm oil to your bod in the evening. Dump some oil in a pot on the stove and heat it (careful! It heats very fast and will continue to heat in the pan even when removed). Apply with strokes up and toward the heart.
• Rub warm sesame oil on hands and feet before heading outside in the cold.
• Eat oils too. Our skin is dry because our insides are dry. Favor vata-balancing diet with plenty of healthy oils this time of year.

And below are some of Monica B’s Favorite Oils (Confession…I have a lot of favorite oils, but these guys are tops).

It’s important to choose oils that benefit your dosha the best. Our friends at Banyan Botanicals have a nice variety of oils to choose from.

Vata-balancing oil. Warm, nourish and ground.

Pitta-balancing oil (will nourish but also cool). Calm, sooth and cool.

Kapha-balancing oil. Invigorate, warm, revitalize.

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Another one of my favorite luxurious brand of oils are from Boditonic. These would make awesome gifts or a nice bit of pampering for yourself. The baby scent is my favorite (it’s a calm, very light ylang ylang). The original scent is also good — it’s more lemongrassy. If you order from Boditonic, say hi to Adam and tell him Monica B sent you. It will make him smile.

 

 

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Made in small batches with care by Adam at Boditonic.com

 

IN YOUR ELEMENTS is here!

IN YOUR ELEMENTS IS HERE! 

 

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EEEYAAAH!!!!! THE BOOK IS DONE!

Who’s going to hold hands and jump up and down with me?! Who’s coming over to my house? Where are you people when I NEED you!? ;) You guys, after 1 1/2 years, my Ayurvedic book is COMPLETE! READY FOR THE WORLD! *high kick* *clap hands* *shake booty*

BUY IT HERE.

In Your Elements: A Blooming Ayurvedic Guide to Creating Your Best Life is a vibrant mix of Ayurvedic wisdom, humor and practicality all rolled into one book. In Your Elements was created for those of us who believe in the power of the individual and that true health stems from within.

My lovely book walks you through fundamental Ayurvedic foundations and includes over 70 questions, exercises and oodles of tips to help you along the journey. The whole book is a customized look at your life including, your daily routine, dosha quiz, menus, recipes, home therapies, exercise recommendations and more! As a bonus, Yoga teachers and Ayurvedic practitioners will LOVE this book for their classes and clients, respectively.

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So Monica B, what’s next?
We are going to have a proper launch party webinar in October with yours truly as the host. I’ll do a little chat, we will have book give-aways, I’ll answer any questions and we will have a PAR-TAY together online. That is coming SOON so keep your peepers out and be ready to “woohoo!” Oh! And if you have not signed up for my newsletter yet, definitely do that.

For now, go buy the book! Love it up. Share with friends. There will be SO MUCH MORE very soon! XOXOX! Monica B

 

What causes 90% of all disease?

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On the HeyMonicaB facebook page, sometimes I like to do Ayurvedic quizzes! Last week I asked, “What causes 90% of all disease?” and I got great participation with varying answers. Some of the most common guesses were stress, inflammation, bad diet, ama/toxins, mal-functioning agni/digestion, and our thoughts.

The answer? Mal-functioning agni (digestive fire)

Let me point out that all those other answers are not wrong!! Everything is connected, right? Aaaalll those other things actually contribute to mal-functioning digestion. Even in modern medicine stress is the number one cause for disease and death. The reason is because stress causes so many other problems! When we are stressed, we are not digesting our food properly because the body is busy trying to keep your mind calm. For example, when something traumatic happens, like, let’s say you break up in a relationship or learn that someone you love just passed away. Don’t you feel sick to your stomach, like, punched in the gut? That’s a signal. It’s like we instantly feel so sick we can’t eat. Our mind tells the body, “Everything on pause. I have to tend to these emotions because we are under high stress and sadness. I cannot process food right now.” Now, those are extreme examples but if we are under even a fraction of that kind of stress daily…our body responds the SAME way. Our agni doesn’t work right, foods don’t get digested, and we accumulate ama, which causes even more mal-digestion. And so it goes like that for…years sometimes.

The best thing you can do for your health is keep that mighty agni STRONG, eat the right foods for who you are (menus here) and follow the nutritional guidelines. Don’t forget to eat HAPPY. If we are rushed, angry, upset, sad, worried, etc., we are not going to digest our food well. Emotions matter in everything we do! Do it with love and you will not go wrong. XO!

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Ayurvedic Cleanse

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Heyo! I’ve been getting a string of questions from several of you around a common theme: An Ayurvedic Cleanse.

Let me ask, do you know why a cleanse is important? {have a think}

It’s important because we use our bodies every single day and without taking time to clean it and nourish it, it will start to break down in places. It’s kind of like a car. If we don’t give our cars oil changes, tune-ups, and repair small problems as they come up, the damages later would be very costly (and much worse). Same with our bods! We breathe things, see things, smell things, our skin absorbs things, we eat things, we get emotionally affected by things…and over time all those “things” stick on us and clog our bods and minds. As a daily habit, sleeping is good to restore the body and so is eating the right foods. But even with those two things in place, we still need to take time to cleanse at least once a year and/or as the seasons change because our body is in constant use!

The biggest reason for cleansing is to get rid of any ama that has built up over time AND to rebuild our agni (digestive fire) to a powerful state. Remember, mal-functiong agni is reponsible for 90% of all disease! That’s a mighty statement and GOSH is it true! Ama is – sticky, thick, white goo – a blockage which hinders our bodies, minds, and emotional well being. It’s basically a collection of old food-stuffs (old emotional-stuffs too!). We want to make sure our energy is running smooth and clear from head to toe so we can be our very best and brightest selves.

Time to clean it out. Alright, let’s do this. Below are instructions for a light kitchari cleanse and then a deeper kitchari cleanse with herbs, detox tea, and warm oils for massage.

Cleanse 1) A kitchari cleanse.

This simple kitchari cleanse can be done any time you need it! Simply commit to 3-7 days of eating a monodiet of kitchari. How do you know if you “need” it? Are you feeling any ickiness in your mind, body, guts, joints, mood, etc.,? Eat some kichari for a few days and you should start to feel better. Any anger, irritability, anxiety, worry, sadness, should start to lighten and dissipate. Any feelings of heaviness, bloating, indigestion, or constipation will go away. Any cloudiness of mind, confusion, uncertainty, or indecisiveness will start to gain clarity. Hooray!

How to do it?
• Make a nice batch of kitchari <—recipe! If you want one-stop shopping, you can buy the Ayurvedic Cleanse Kit from Banyan Botanicals
• Sip ginger tea in the morning. If you are hungry, have some kichari. If not, sip ginger tea and/or hot water (can add lemon) until you feel hungry.
• Have kitchari for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
• If your tongue is pink, add ghee to the top (vatas and pittas can have a nice amount of ghee, kaphas have less). If your tongue is not pink (yet, it will be soon), wait to add extra ghee until your tongue is pink.
• You can sip herbal (caffeine free) teas during the day and have as much water as you like
• If you are very hungry between meals, have a piece of fruit (banana, peeled apple or pear, berries) and some tea
• Be sure to fill up during meals and have as much kitchari as you like.
• Do this for 3-7 days. You can journal how you feel along the way!

After the cleanse (just as important as the cleanse itself!)
It is important to slowly rebuild agni to be good and strong. So don’t say, “Yay! My cleanse is over! I’m going out for steak and wine and chocolate cake!” No no no, don’t do that ;) If you eat normally right after the cleanse, agni won’t be strong enough and you will start building up ama right away. I suggest to have liquid soup with veggies the next day. Next day have soup with rice or noodles. Next day have rice and veggies. Next day you can start eating normally. See that? A little step-by-step process to eating normal again. HINT: Do this with ANY cleanse, even if it’s not this one. It’s really important!!

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Cleanse 2) The deeper cleanse is not quite panchakarma (more on that soon, too much for this post), but it’s about as good as you can get by doing it from home.

For this one the Deluxe Ayurvedic Cleanse Kit has everything you need. You can even download their little booklet on Ayurvedic Cleansing too. Or, you can compile your own items for the cleanse. This cleanse includes detox tea, herbs, and daily head to toe self massage with sesame oil.
• Follow the same instructions as above (they also have instructions) but you’ll be including massage, herbs, and the tea

When you are doing cleanses (even just a short one for 3 days), remember to RELAX. Make time and space for it. This is a cleanse for the mind and spirit and emotions just as it is for the body. If you cannot take off a day or two from work, be sure to unplug, unwind, and spend some time relaxing. Walks are good. Yoga is good. Intense exercise is not good. No tv or computer, books instead. Nice music, candles, warm socks, incense, sunsets, windows open…are all good things. NOURISH.

Yeah? What questions can I answer for you about cleansing? HAPPY AYURVEDIC SPRING CLEANING! XOXO!

Karnapoorna

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Karnapoorna! Or Karna Purana. And there might be a 3rd or 4th spelling or 5th spelling, but no matter, it’s important to know that it exists. Do you know what it is? For the seven of you raising your hands, awesome! For the rest of you, let me happily share.

Karnapoorna is one of the many therapies in Ayurveda that is done with oil. It means, putting oil in your ears! Now, not only is it a therapy, but it’s also used as swastha vritta (mmwaahahaa..I love throwing in sanskrit sometimes just to keep you on your toes), which means preventative medicine :) You can do karnapoorna as needed or once a week as part of your routine to stay healthy.Karnapoorna is best for vata imbalances including:
• Insomnia
Ringing in the ears
• Headaches
• TMJ
• Anxiety or worry
Jet-lag and ears popping/crackling in airplanes

Other benefits are:
• Improves hearing
• Loosens ear wax (who doesn’t want that?!)
• Strengthens the bones in the ear
• Prevents neck stiffness

Intrigued yet? Give it a try. It might tickle at first, but stick with it for about 30 seconds, then you should feel calm and happy. ***Do not do karnapoorna after a shower or swimming. Oil and water do not mix and it could do bad things. Mmkay?!***

Here’s what to do:
Warm some sesame oil or ghee and put in shallow bowl
Use a cotton ball to soak up the oil
Lay on one side and squeeze the oil out of the cotton ball into your ear (it will tickle)
Massage your ear lobe and bones gently for a couple minutes
Lay for 20 minutes (even 10 minutes does some good), bonus points if you so hum
Put a towel over your ear, tilt your head so the oil drizzles out
Repeat other side
Aaaannnnd, goodnight ;) You will probably want to sleep.

Seasonal Bloom: Kapha

kapha_2013_iconHAPPY Kapha Season! Kapha season goes from late winter through spring, and the time is now! If you have already read the seasonal bloom in the past, maybe take another look! And then pass it along to a friend :)

NEW inside this one, I created a kapha playlist! That’s right, music to shake your booty to while spring cleaning. Nothing better to get a kapha moving than some great tunes! *shake it!*

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE KAPHA SEASONAL BLOOM HERE

I also ask that in return for reading, absorbing and hopefully loving the information, that you share this with at least three of your friends or family. We ALL need more Ayurveda in our lives. It’s my passion, it’s my life’s work and I am grateful I can share this with you. Please share with more people so my reach gets larger!

Sickness Tea

I’ve been inspired to share my Ayurvedic sickness tea with the world. Dude! Who caught this got this nar-sty cough/snot/ache/fever thing going around?! Show of hands! 1, 2, 3…omg that’s just too many. That’s IT! I’m fed up. It’s time to take action and make a video!! Oh yeah, and what I failed to mention in it, is to strain the tea (you don’t have to drink soggy cardamom blobs or clove bits) and take as many steam showers as you want! I did 3 steam showers and 2 pots of tea in a day. Last time I was sick, I beat the thing pretty quickly. This time, it’s taking a little longer to kick. Regardless it’s sooooo much fun to share Ayurvedic recipes and remedies with you…I wanted to bring some extra LIFE into it! What do you think? warning: the husband called me the Swedish Chef of Ayurveda.

 

Aggravated by Obstruction

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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!

 

Hot Mama!

hot_mama

HEAT WAVE!! A show of hands, who is on the east coast or in the midwest in the midst of this summer humid heatwave? Pitta galore! Holy moly.

Two days ago my mom sent me a txt message, “Something bit me in the eye lid. Getting the swelling down.” Photo below shows a big cucumber slice on her eye. HA! I love how it’s the butt-end. Because she knows cucumbers are cooling, it was a good Ayurvedic college try! ;)

Mom_Eye

The next day she wrote and told me that her eye was still swollen and that she was headed to the eye doctor. Bummer. After her visit, she said the doctor didn’t know what was wrong (this is when my ears perk up because if doctors don’t know…Ayurveda usually does!) but gave her antibiotics for 10 days. Then my brain started putting pieces together. Eyes are governed by pitta which is heat and there is a heatwave where she lives. Hmmm. I asked if she had eaten anything with ginger in it or anything else spicy. She said she did have ginger and that she put hot pepper flakes on her pizza the night before. Ah-hah! Ginger and pepper flakes are both heating. Then I told her I would not be surprised if she had a rash or hives on her legs (heat does that too). She said she DID have hives! Ah-HAH, Ah-HAH!! {Ayurvedic happy dance!} Then she tells me that she was outside that day horsing around in the back yard doing yard work (Mom, you know better than to do that in the heat…) too. So, that added more heat.

Now, let’s Ayurvedically put this together: My mom is a pitta/kapha (more pitta) + 90 degree heat + ginger and pepper flakes + gardening in the hot sun = puffed out eyeball and hives…because she’s overheated!!

Yikes! She needed to cool down quickly and here are some bits of advice I gave:
• No alcohol, no spicy foods, no peppers, no tomatoes
• Eat lots of fresh summer fruits and vegetables
• Pasta or rice are okay
• Ice cream or frozen fruit mash (yonana!) are good for quick cooling
• Cool the feet (feet relate to the eyes!) by walking on cool grass after sundown. (Mom beat me to it and stuck her tootsies in a bucket of cool water. That works too!)
• Drink aloe vera juice or coconut water
Cucumber or mint water are good
• Water in general is good

Helpful? Any other hotties out there in need of a cool down? And if so, how did YOU chill out? :) Inquiring minds would love to know…do share!

WOW

wow

At work we use a little phrase called, “WOWs!” It’s basically a sharing of really cool things we did to “wow” a client, a talent or a teammate. I recently got an email from one of you and all that came to mind was, “WOW!”

You guys send me lots of notes and I do my best to respond to every one of them. While they all touch my heart, this one in particular needed to be shared immediately, and with all of you. When I read her note, instantly my heart swelled, tears came to my eyes and quickly plopped out. It’s a pretty incredible story and proves how fast Ayurveda works. We have all the power within ourselves to change. We innately have all the tools we need to live our best lives. Ayurveda shines a light on that. Please share this with…heck, everyone. This is amazing. Proud of you, J, for your progress and for sharing your story with us. Thank you. Love, Monica B.

Dear Monica,

I hope you don’t mind me contacting you, but I just wanted to write and thank you for the information that you have provided on your site. I read almost every article on your site last weekend and have been following your advice for 5 days. As a result, I have already experienced a dramatic improvement in many aspects of my health and wellness which I have been struggling with for years. Some of what I am about to tell you is maybe a bit personal, or ‘too much information’ for most, but I think you can handle it!

My prakruti is Kapha-Pitta, but I now realise that I have long been battling a seriously aggravated Vata. About 6 years ago I started to suffer with an eating disorder and, whilst I haven’t ever been in any significant medical ‘danger’, I have never really recovered a healthy mindset towards food (my eating behaviour is still very disordered), and was also left with some medical problems as a consequence of the stress I put on my body. In particular, and this is where it gets a bit ‘T.M.I’, I don’t remember the last time I was able to go to the bathroom without taking excessive amounts of stimulant laxatives. As you can imagine, that was pretty horrible, plus my tongue was coated in a thick grey and black coating from all the toxins building up in my colon, my appetite was virtually non-existent, and my stomach was bloated and uncomfortable for 7-10 days at a time until I could do my weekly ‘laxative purge’.

As well as this, my Kapha dosha was also a bit out of balance – whilst I am quite content spending time alone, I had become quite reclusive, and if I was invited out with friends, I would usually find a made-up excuse at the last minute and not go out. I also know that my natural tendency to hoard things had also become worse in recent weeks.  

So, last weekend, when I stumbled across your site, I noticed what I had been doing wrong with regards to my diet and general behaviours: I was living on up to 2lbs of RAW broccoli a day; I ate at irregular times (if I was eating at all); I quelled hunger pains with LITRES of diet cola; after work I would come home, where I would be alone all evening and just watch TV or surf the internet mindlessly; the only real exercise I was taking was my 10 minute walk to and from work; and all that caffeine in my system had led to terrible insomnia. No wonder my Vata was out of whack – I was doing everything in the world to make it worse!

After reading your blog, I made the following changes to my diet and lifestyle:

·  Lemon juice in water on waking in the morning

·  Ginger & lemon tea 30mins – 1hour before each meal

·  Practicing yoga daily – sometimes morning AND evening

·  Eating, sleeping, etc. on a regular schedule

·  Eating soft, well cooked foods – soups, scrambled eggs, fish, cooked foods and NO raw veg (broccoli!!!) – with spices such as cumin, ginger, cinnamon

·  Significantly cut down on intake of caffeine and diet sodas

·  I made a small portion of ghee and cook my eggs and veg in it – eating fats is something that I particularly struggle with, so I have been using teeny amounts and getting used to it. I’m gonna make more this weekend! 

·  Decluttering my wardrobes and cupboards (hello, eBay!), cleaning and tidying my flat

·  Bought jasmine scented incense sticks

As a result I have been able to use the bathroom in the morning when I wake up without laxatives for the first time since I can remember, the coating on my tongue is almost gone, my stomach is less bloated and painful, I have been going out and socialsing with friends, I feel calmer and happier, and I no longer live in a cycle of starving and binging on food.

There is still a long way to go, but I already feel much more like ‘me’ than I have done in the last 6 years, and that is largely down to you sharing your knowledge of Ayurveda. I’m sorry this has turned out so long and so detailed, but I really wanted to extend a heart-felt ‘thank you’, because in less than a week I am starting to feel happy and well again.

How I Got Better.

Welcome to part 2! If you missed part 1, check it out.

OK, so whatever cold bug I had, it didn’t last long. And I’m 99% sure it wasn’t the flu. I had it for 2 days when I felt like pure junk and the other 2 like mild junk. For the past 4 days, my voice has been almost gone/scratchy/low, but I feel fine.

Anyway, you are wondering how I got better, so let me share. It’s super detailed and requires the utomst precise adherance to the plan. You cannot waiver from the plan and you must follow it to a tee. You ready? Ok here’s what I did to get better.

I took one day off work and slept as much as possible.

Super complicated, I know I know. But do your best. :) Ha, but seriously I slept and slept and slept. Our bodies need a chance to fight the problem without being taxed with other responsibilities, so we need to let it rest. You can mix up Ayurvedic home remedies, eat the right foods, even take over the counter medicines but if you do not sleep (a lot!), you will stay sick for much longer.

Okay and let’s be real. Sleep is not the only thing I did, but I do believe it’s the most important thing. As promised, here is a list of things I did to get better quickly. Practicing Ayurveda is not going to make us immune to absolutely everything. But! If we use the tools, we will get sick less often, we will have mild cases of the sickness, and the duration will be much shorter. Cross my heart.

Here’s what I did to get better:
• Slept a lot: 12 hours at night and took two 2-hour naps. Sleep is way better than tv or chick flicks when you need to heal!
Neti pot. Or, “hose your nose” as one of our readers commented on the first post.
Cough tea. I made a batch each day and drank it warm. A
• Steamy shower. Good to balance vata (aches) and loosen mucus.
• I took some ibuprofen to relieve the aches. Even Dr. Lad said that we can take something to relieve the pain (no sense in suffering!), but then we must discover and treat the root cause holistically.

As always, Ayurveda has a focus on disease prevention. Living according to who we are, being aware of warning signs, and taking time to rest before our sickness is full blown is key to avoiding more severe sickies, like the icky flu! And if you end up getting the flu, please just take a load off and don’t push yourself. Turn off Judge Judy and sleep. Sleep I say!

Why I Got Sick.

Hi. I was in Boston last week. Boston. You know, that place where they declared a health emergency because of the flu outbreak. I was there for a work conference and everything was held in our hotel. I wasn’t sure if I should breathe on my coworkers (since most were not from Boston either) or if I should get outside and breathe. And then I remembered germs don’t really exist in Ayurveda, so what was I worried about? I was an Ayurvedic champ! Invincible. Totally gonna skirt this flu – watch me! Then on Friday, I got sick. It’s not terrible by any means but my throat burns, my nose is running, and my skin hurts when water touches it. And my knuckles ache.

I don’t know if it really is the flu or not, but what I do know is why I got sick. If any of the below sounds familiar and you have these as frequent habits, you will want to adjust your schedule immediately. The following habits deplete our best friend, ojas. Ojas is our life vitality, immunity, and strength in fighting off disease.

Why I got sick:

Two long flights. Air travel very vata increasing which dries us up, makes us cold and shrivels warm, gooey ojas. People get sick on flight not just from germs but because our immunity goes way down on the flights and we can easily catch what people are sneezing. Gross.
A packed schedule. Days went from 8am-10pm, nonstop. Well, there were pauses, but I didn’t want to miss out on anything so I just kept going and talking.
Limited fruits and veggies, and too many muffins, croissants, rolls, and potatoes. Not enough vitamins, digestive spices, or healthy fats in the food.
Coffee, daily because I wasn’t sleeping. Coffee is very dehydrating and gives a false sense of energy.
Wine, nightly. If there’s a way to instantly deplete ojas, combine wine + flying + packed schedule + not sleeping. Hello, sick.
Insomnia, only getting about 5 hours of sleep each night. I was so amped when I hit the pillow! Insomnia was a result of high vata from travel, busy activities, and dehydration.

Some of you might be thinking, “You wuss, MonicaB! You can’t even handle 4 days of a busy conference!?” To that I will say, “No, no I can’t. Not me. I have high vata to begin with and this sh*t wears me out.” Because I know myself, I could see that I was in trouble with this schedule. So, now I encourage you to do the same. Does your schedule include any one (or more) of these on the list? If so, do you get sick often? It’s a fun puzzle once you understand what influences (besides germs) can make you sick and so many of it is within our control.

Next up is part 2 and I’ll tell you how I made it through the sickness. :)

Embrace Your Messy Closet

 

While on the topic of moving, I couldn’t help but notice…mess. Like when you look in your closet and you think, “Yikes. That’s…a mess.” (pittas have no idea what I’m talking about right now. hehe.) But do you know the best part about a messy closet? The best part is that you SEE the mess! You know it needs to be cleaned and so you clean it!

Now, what if you had a messy closet but only very slightly cracked the door open, just enough to toss a rotten piece of clothing in there–and then you shut the door. In that closet would be dirty clothes and shoes all in a jumble…and you wouldn’t notice until you were completely out of clothes to wear. And as you opened the door, a mega-pile of stank clothes would fall on your head. And then, you would have stanky clothes and shoes laying all over the floor (to your surprise, but not really) and you are forced to clean it up. Plus now you are freezing because you have no clothes (that last sentence was just for dramatic effect).

The difference between these two scenarios is total awareness. In both cases, you will end up having to clean up your closet. In the first scenario, you will notice the messy closet before it gets too bad. And in the second scenario, you’ve not only got a mess on your hands but you have to clean immediately because you waited too long.

Friends, our health is the same as that closet. Ayurveda’s foundation is prevention. So let’s working on our health while we catch some of the warning signs (headache, insomnia, constipation, high blood pressure, anxiety, heart burn, etc.,) before it turns into something worse. Ignoring these “pesky” warning signs doesn’t make them go away, rather they will turn in to something much more serious later and then you’ll be in a pickle! So! Right now, start living, eating, and exercising according to your dosha(s). And if you are completely lost, then begin with the daily routine.

We all have a certain amount of mess in our minds, bodies, spirits, and closets ;). Learn to see it, own it, embrace it and start to clean it up. What are some stories of your physical or metaphorical closets? How did you embrace it and change it? :) xoxo!

Derailed

Ever feel completely derailed from the practices you know keep you most healthy? That’s about where I’m at. As most of you know, my family and I moved two weeks ago, hence the drought (cue the tumbleweeds) in recent articles. When life brings a new job and a long distance move while having a toddler, husband, and pets, time is pretty sacred. I’m sure you could tell me a major life change (Do tell! How did you keep it together?) when you’ve changed course, and it shook you up a bit!

Over the past couple weeks, my Ayurvedic disciplines have slacked. Here are all the non-Ayurvedic things I’ve been doing lately: I started drinking more coffee because I am not sleeping as much and I need to be on my game at work. I also don’t exercise (yoga or barre), but I still manage to walk/jog with Blossom each morning before sunrise. My commute is an hour now instead of 5 minutes and it’s not always a comfy ride on public transit. I work when I get home sometimes and am on the computer past 9:00 pm. I have not been bringing my lunch, instead spending too much money and racing to grab and eat on the go. I’ve been kinda moody. And I don’t drink enough water. I also don’t breathe much (consciously) any more or write in my journal. So sad. Sound familiar? Any of this currently happening to you? It’s certainly a very common scenario of how most Americans live and most of us don’t bat an eye. Well, my eyes are batting because I know better. I am consciously aware that I feel like junk when I live like this.

The good news? We can change any time (and it’s only been a few weeks) :) We have all the knowledge and wisdom within ourselves to make a change! So! I am going to commit to a few things this week. You are welcome to make a few changes in your world too and ride along with me if you want. Remember, when making long lasting changes, it’s important to do just a couple small ones at first so that they become habit.

Here’s what I’m going to start this week to get back on my Ayurvedic track:
1) Have just one cup of coffee (truly a mugfull, I don’t drink 16oz coffees) instead of two
2) Drink 2 full bottles of water, daily. I have a purple nalgene bottle, which is 36 oz so it’s easy to track.
3) Bring lunch
4) Breathe slowly on the train and/or if I have a place to sit, write in my journal

Who’s with me?! And what are YOU going to do to live more Ayurvedically as an American? XOXO!