Category Archives: Seasonal Balance

Cabin Fever

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For many of you, it’s winter and it’s not going away any time soon. A former midwesterner myself, I understand winters can be very very very long. Once holiday celebration and football season is over, winter can be a drag. Worse, it feels like it should be almost spring (Target doesn’t help by displaying the bathing suits immediately inside the front doors), but in reality, spring is at least four months away. Until at least April. And sometimes even in April you can’t wear short sleeves…which sucks. I’m not trying to be a downer, I’m empathizing and anyone in the midwest or east coast knows I speak the truth. Sledding is really only appealing until January and then…we want to wear shorts. I get it. Cabin Fever.

So let’s talk about something that might catch us while we are in the “cabin,” a little thing called S.A.D. (Seasonal Affected Disorder). Do you know what it is? It basically means that because of the cold, dry air, lack of light, too much time spent indoors, and nature that isn’t exactly “alive” and…we get depressed. This is the reason so many snowbirds get out of dodge by leaving for a couple months and so many others take a good vacation between January and March. We are governed by the nature around us and when that nature is lifeless, we often feel the same.

Now, there is nothing we can do about the weather, but there are some things we can do to make ourselves feel a bit better in the interim. Afterall, nothing lasts forever, even an ultra crappy winter. Chin up, that’s the good news! Other good news is, you have a bright light inside, so don’t forget to use that as your utmost power while in the cabin.

Here are some ideas to stay HAPPY instead of S.A.D.:
Go to the sun. Plan one good vacation and at least one long weekend between January and April so that you have little things to look forward to. It’s imperative to get to the sun and relax. This is life, use your vacation time.
Light it up! Fireplaces and candles bring heat and light.
Eat foods for your mood.
Oil massage. Warm oil and touch keeps our vata calm, giving us a sense of peace. Not to mention, oils are completely nourishing for winter skin. Best if used before a shower so the water doesn’t dry the skin out even more. You’ll feel like a bebe! Use almond (pitta), sesame (vata) or sunflower (kapha) oils from our good friends at Banyan Botanicals!
Keep your hands and feet warm! If they are cold it will make the rest of you cold, ankles too! Tip: put your socks over the end of a blowdryer, warm them up, and quick put on feet!
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes. Knees and toes. Literally! Breaking up the day with short bursts of exercise or just some good deep breaths will increase prana (life breath) and that’s what you need!
Aromatherapy. It can be any scent that makes you happy but some ideas are: lavender, sandalwood, jasmine, gardenia, grapefruit, ylang ylang. Put on your wrists, drop on the floor of your shower, add to baths, add in a diffuser.
Vitamin D supplements. Those can be helpful.
Sit in a warm bath, hot tub, steam room, or sauna. Baths are good for all doshas. Hot tub and steam rooms are best for vata. Sauna is good for kapha. Pitta…feel these out, they all might be too hot for you.
Buy fresh cut flowers or plant bulbs in a colorful pot indoors. Paperwhites, hyacinths, or tulips bring nature indoors.
Play great music. Harry Belafonte is fun music for dreary days.
Take classes in something you love. You have the time! It will give you something to look forward to each week for a certain amount of time, making the dregs move by faster and get you out of the cabin.
Be with friends, family and loved ones. Your heart will light up and stay warm when you have love in your life.

A Chance of Flurries

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Who’s feeling a bit flurried during the holidays, raise your hands! Wow, too many to count! Let’s talk about why you feel the way you do. The season is vata, but you already knew that. On top of it we are in the thick of the holidays AND it’s dark and cold. The dark makes it hard for us to wake up and we get tired earlier at night too. Then there’s all this extra stuff to do like parties, shopping, time with family/friends, and cooking. So! There’s 4x more stuff going on than normal and we have about 1/2 the energy. Awesome. It’s also cold outside in many places. So! There’s a lot to do in a short amount of time, with less energy, shorter days, and we are house-bound due to the weather. Frick. Not only that but the dark, the cold, and the busy-ness leaves little gusto or time to exercise. No outlet for stress. Bummer! Oh and then there’s all this extra food/candy at work, parties, and cocktails in a 4-week time span too, and since we don’t have time to exercise, it’s nearly impossible to escape without holiday poundage! With all these things adding up, no wonder we are stressballs a flurry during the holidays! Wah.

Don’t cry. I’m not telling you these things to bum you out. No way. My intent is to SHOW you exactly what’s going on during this time of year. You are not crazy or lazy, so that’s the good news. Hurrah! These natural forces (dark, cold, shorter days) flow against our desired rapid pace of Christmas completion. During the flurry, I have some quick Ayurvedic tips to keep the holidays happy and I will trickle them in over the next couple weeks.

Ready? Here’s the first one:
Keep your sleep. The stuff will get done (and if it doesn’t, it wasn’t that important). You need sleep to keep your immunity strong, your emotions in tact, your mind sharp, and your skin looking perky as possible. If you keep your “bed by 10” Ayurvedic rule, you will have more energy and gusto the next day to get everything done. Trust me! You need sleep or you’ll get sick!

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 ;)

Ayurvedic Rules

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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

Spring Kapha has Sprung

Raise your hand if over the past weekend or two, you just had get in a good deep clean around the house. Raise your other hand if you felt a strong desire to start a new fitness regime. Raiser your…big toe if you are also in the mood to toss, recycle, or donate items that make you feel heavy or cluttered. Look at all those hands and toes!

Know why? It’s kapha season! Kapha is the energy of lubrication and structure. It’s a builder for our body-minds, which is heavy and sticky in nature. As we know, to balance the doshas we use the opposite qualities of that dosha. So it’s no wonder why in heavy, sticky, wet spring we feel the need to move our bodies, clean our homes, eat lighter foods, lighten our cluttered load, and possibly take a little vacation to a warm, sunny climate! Lots of folks do spring cleanses around this time too. It’s not really because we’re worried about bikini season, it’s because nature is telling us to! Don’t forget, we are a part of nature and we flow with it in perfect rhythm.

I invite you to read Seasonal Bloom: Kapha, from last year. It has a ton of information about kapha-types, kapha season and has lots of tips to stay healthy during spring. You can download (free!) and share. Bring it to brunch as a little gift to your girlfriends, leave on your coworkers desk (it will make their day!), email it to your mom or auntie – there’s lots of things you can do to help get the good word out about Ayurveda! Please enjoy. If you read it last year, give it another read because information you were not ready to receive last year will pop out at you this year :) xoxo!

DOWNLOAD SEASONAL BLOOM: KAPHA

 

 

Ayurvedic Thanksgiving

I thought you might enjoy 10 tips for an Ayurvedic Thanksgiving! Not to worry, these tips are easy to incorporate and don’t require any special preparation. More than anything, it’s a reminder to incorporate our Ayurvedic rules even (and especially) on a day like Thanksgiving. Give  them a try! And let me know if you notice a difference between this and your non-Ayurvedic Thanksgiving. XOXO!

1. Open your eyes and write a list of 25 things you are grateful for (it’s ok to write the list while cozy in your bed).
2. After drinking a glass of water, go for a brisk 30 minute walk in the crispy fall air.
3. If you have breakfast, make sure it’s very small and warm. Otherwise skip breakfast and drink ginger tea with honey.
4. Have 1/4-1/2 tsp Indian appetizer 30 minutes before dinner to stoke agni.
5. Avoid walking around and eating, stay mindful of what goes in!
6. At dinner, serve others before you serve yourself.
7. Bless your food!
8. Pick only your favorite foods and build your plate according to your dosha.
Instead of eating until you are full, eat until you feel satisfied.
9. Go for a leisurely walk after the meal to aid digestion.
10. Drink ginger tea and fast Friday morning to let your agni digest all the food from the day/evening before. Don’t eat again until you are hungry.

Pitta Season

 

Pitta Season! Ahhh, a 3-day weekend, what could be better (as you shout “a 4-day weekend!”)!? Memorial Day is often spent picnicking with family, bbq’ing with friends and enjoying the warmer weather that we know is just going to get better in the few months ahead. Fruits are looking better and fresher in the produce department as berries and stone fruits start making their appearance for the season.

We might feel energized, uplifted, as we enjoy the smells of cut grass, blooming flowers (jasmine are my favorite!), and fresh air. And of course we bust out our sunglasses and sun hats to protect our eyes and heads from the sun. Memorial Day usually marks the day that water and amusement parks open for the summer too because schools let out soon. And because we are spending so much time outside, we also apply gobs of sunscreen.

Now, if you take all these pieces and you use your Ayurvedic smarts, you will realize it’s all for good reason. Because it’s the start of pitta season! :) I know, you’re probably thinking, “Already!?” YEPPER! It has crept up on us and here we are right on top of summer. Take a moment to think about it. The fresh fruits that are in season are cooling and are the fruits that balance pitta the best (berries, stone fruits, melons). Walking on cool grass is good for pitta’s sensitive eyes–and so are the sunglasses. Sun hats protect our heads from overheating (overeheated pitta-heads will get cranky and headaches from the heat). As we enjoy more time outside the giant fire ball in the sky (pitta in nature) could burn our skin (governed by pitta) so we need to apply sunscreen. Blooming flowers and full trees are pleasing to the eyes (again governed by pitta) making us feel more at ease and less stressed (a common pitta problem). And then, the water parks! Pittas love the water because it’s instantly cooling for them.

Golly this makes so much sense, doesn’t it? Do you feel better now because you remember why you are suddenly feeling a shift?! Yesss. And friends, if you have not checked out Seasonal Bloom Pitta, there are loads of tips and lifestyle recommendations for summer.

So, what was your favorite pitta-balancing thing you did this 3-day weekend (besides wish it was 4)? We would all love to know what works for you! xoxo!

 

Holiday Mocktails!

Are holiday drinkies botching up your “I want to live healthier!” intentions? Enjoy this repost with some tips on how to party healthy, including recipes for Holiday Mocktails: http://bit.ly/gBDSAT

Summer Colds

Hey! Summer is hot so why do we get colds (hehe)? There are a few reasons why we get colds in the summer.

Reason 1: Ritusandhi.

During the start of summer, the accumulation of kapha from spring starts to “melt.” You see, in the spring (kapha season) kapha builds and builds. Then once summer starts, pitta comes in and because of internal and external heat, it begins to loosen and shed the built up kapha. We might get kapha-like symptoms (runny nose, congestion, allergies, mucus cough) during summer, which makes us go, “Hey Monica B? How come I have a cold in the summer!?” If we don’t transition (ritusandhi) from one season to the next properly, that could be one reason. So treat your summer cold as you would any other kapha cold (since the imbalance is kapha, we treat kapha) like drinking warm liquids, having spicy liquid soups, and staying away from cold, goopy things like yogurt.

Reason 2: Quick changes in temperature.

Raise your hands if you live in a place where summer can be 95+ degrees with high humidity? Okay. Now keep your hands up if you have your air conditioning at 75 degrees or less in your house? Okay. Now keep your hands up if you have air conditioning on in your car, at the grocery store, and at restaurants where the AC is often at 70 degrees or lower (and causing you to freeze and put on a sweater?). Ah HAH!! That’s a lot of you! And that might be why you’re getting a summer cold. The fluctuations in extreme temperatures and humidity (air conditioning is dry) causes the body to become confused. It doesn’t know what the heck, which season it is because our bodies can’t get into a groove! Flip flop, flip flop. Hot cold, hot cold. While the body is trying to adjust to one or the other, we get sick. We are better off to keep the air conditioning much warmer or open the windows to even out the inside and outside temperatures.

Reason 3. Low immunity.

Several things affect our immunity including, lack of sleep, improper diet, improper exercise, stress, to name a few. Your diet should suit your dosha and the season. Follow the daily routine to a tee to ensure you are flowing in the right direction along side nature. Make sure that your exercise is appropriate for your dosha. And! Take time to destress completely each day. Super important. Our bodies need a break! Overload is a surefire way to break down our immunity and quickly.

Of course, each situation will differ per the individual and per their habits over time. That’s why we heart Ayurveda! Because it sees the individual person and circumstances! So these are not the end-all be-all reasons behind why we get summer colds, but if you work on these three things you will have a stellar chance at dodging a cold during the next change in seasons :) xoxo!

Pitta Season!

Hey guys! We’re in the heart of pitta season! What does that mean? It means it’s summer and it’s HOT outside, which might make us hot on the insides. Last year I created the very first Seasonal Bloom, which provides guidelines, tips, and tools to staying healthy during summer. If are a hot-bodied pitta or if someone near and dear to your heart is a pitta, you won’t want to miss the read. If you’ve already read it last year, it might be worth a refresh so that you can remember all the tools you have to use to keep you cool, calm, and collected while the heat is on!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY OF SEASONAL BLOOM PITTA

Extra Holiday Eating

Oh my goodness. Who else is inundated with client/vendor lunches? During my day job, I service lots of clients and now is the time for end of the year reviews, i.e. lunches up the wazoo. It’s a mad scramble to try and fit everyone in during December before holiday ends and that’s a LOT of eating out!

My schedule over the past three weeks has been work parties, work lunches, and dinners out. While I’d much rather bring my own lunch, what can you do!? It’s part of our job.

So no wonder we get lethargic and might notice that our pants are tighter. Yeah yeah, we all know about gaining weight over the holidays and it’s no wonder, what with holiday work parties, parties with friends, get togethers with family, cookie exchanges, white elephant exchange, and work lunches…that adds up to a lot of extra food that we aren’t used to! Not only that, but it’s probably not the most healthy foods either.

So, what to do?
I have some ideas to keep our minds in our food during all the holiday lunches, parties and snackies.

• Practice Mindful Eating.

• Remember the Plate Portions according to who you are. Especially when there are snack foods, the best thing to do is grab a plate. Fill it up so you can see what you are eating. That helps the mind understand how much the body is consuming. The mind is like the body’s guardian.

• If you are talking, don’t eat. That’s a good rule of thumb to keep our mind in our food. You could throw down 3 lacey cookies in 2 minutes while talking to your friend about her new boots. See? You don’t even remember that, do you.

• Say NO to the cookie/candy snackie area. If you can’t resist the cookie/candy area at work, take a different direction to get back to your desk.

• While on a client lunch, keep portions under control. Soups (not creamy) or wraps (not mayonnaisey or fried stuffs) might be a good option. Ask for a little roll with your soup. Eat only 1/2 the wrap and choose healthy sides like pasta salad, fruit, side salad or seasonal veggies.

• Order hot tea with your lunch. It increases agni AND you will have to sip it instead of guzzling a coke and then getting a refill 5 minutes after you sat down (that’s already about 400 calories).

• Make sure you are truly hungry before putting food in your mouth. Clear burps are a good sign!

• FAST. If you eat a lot for lunch, skip dinner. If you are not hungry for breakfast, skip it and have ginger tea. Really. THIS is where true Ayurvedic balance comes in. Give your digestion a chance to catch up cause holiday time is also prime ama time! No bueno. Listen to your body. It will tell you when it’s hungry.

If you have other ideas for our reader-friends on how to have healthy client lunches, do share! Love you guys! xo

Tip: Bring the light inside

Bummed about the lack of sun light lately? Light some candles in the morning while you are getting ready or during your yoga practice. Enjoy your fireplace or more candles in the evening. If you don’t have a fireplace, buy the Wellness & Harmony: Fireplace Atmosphere DVD. Haha! I used to watch this in my tiny apartment in San Francisco. Mmmm…warm.

I Feel Swirly

Hi I feel swirly. Like my life is one big swirl and I can’t make it stop. My friend Jan, Director & Franchise owner for Ladies Who Launch Los Angeles, send me an email this past week that said, “Stop the world, I want to get off!” It’s like she read my mind.
Since I posted Seasonal Bloom, I haven’t been blogging quite as often as I normally do. It probably doesn’t bother you and maybe you didn’t even notice, but for me, it weighs on my shoulders because this is my passion. And I like it to happen fast!

I cannot discount that I also have many many other lovely things going on in my life, but those too, take up space.

So here we have this swirly colorful organic shape (I wish I could animate it because it’s always changing and it’s quite pretty) that represents how I feel. All beautiful things. All nice shapes. All somehow fitting in with one another. But MAN there’s a lot of them! I’ll count every single one of my blessings and by no means am I complaining, I just need a clone. Hah! I need reprieve. I need the world to stop for a second so I can get off and catch my breath. Right?! I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

I actually had to go back and reread a post I wrote about how to manage all this stuff because I had forgotten my own advice! I guess sometimes it’s much easier to see other peoples’ lives than it is to see our own.

So anywhosies,  I’m just a little swirly. I’ll get back on track soon no doubt, but I definitely needed to get off the ferris wheel for a bit cause I was feeling sick. If you ever feel swirly, I would love to know what YOU do to stay steady (and productive!). Or maybe you just lay low for a bit and surrender. That’s kinda what I did. Afterall, if we aren’t strong enough for ourselves, we’re no good for anyone else either. Everything starts from the self and radiates outward.

Ah! So maybe my words of advice are, sit still and take care of you first. That’s how it has to be. Do you need sleep? Do you need to knit? Do you need to do your yoga? Do you need to say no to a dinner party because you can’t afford to keep going out? You see, even in airplanes we are supposed to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others. True that! Breathe easy my friends and take care of yourselves. Remember, rest is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. And the world will keep going round while you take a few days or weeks to collect yourself. xoxo.

Seasonal Bloom VATA!

WOOOHOOOOO!!!! I’ve finally finished Seasonal Bloom for Vata. Yippee! Seasonal Bloom is an 18-page guide for each season and since we are now in vata season…let’s gooooo!!! You can DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY HERE just in time for Thanksgiving weekend. Make a fire in the fire place, kick up your tootsies in a pair of warm socks, make a cup of my chai or c.c.f. tea (what are those? read on to find out!), read Seasonal Bloom and relax! I create Seasonal Bloom with lots of love, so please share with three people you love. Let’s share the FREE gift of tools for a good health and a sensational LIFE! Namasté.