Category Archives: Vata

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 ;)

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

It’s a Cinch

its_a_cinch

question_masthead

Have you heard of a ‘liver roll’ or an upper belly roll that signifies liver strain? I am a thin vata, but I always have a little fat roll right under my bra. When I gain weight, it tends to go to my stomach first. I have a desk job, so I sit all day and I slouch at my computer. What do you think of wearing a waist cincher at work to improve my posture and perhaps activate my abs?  I’m confused about whether these things help strengthen your ab and back muscles, or weaken them by doing the work for you? A few more details are that I am 31, a little bit of a partier/drinker sometimes, and my diet is pretty irregular.

Okay SO! If you are a vata, a waist cincher would actually help you feel more…snug. Some new moms use them post-baby because it “holds” everything together since organs have moved and there is a lot of leftover space. It calms vata (space!) down immediately which can actually help new mommies not get the blues.  However, you have an irregular diet, party/drink too much and are also not doing yoga. Um…those are some things to definitely work on to get rid of the pooch AND reduce vata! I wish I had a magic cure my friend, but I think following a vata diet, reducing the drinkies and incorporating some yoga will do wonders for you!!

And! I have not heard of a “liver roll” exactly but if you are not eating the right foods, exercising too much and also drinking too much, those things will put strain on your liver. Sounds like your bod is trying to tell you something by giving you a little pooch. More than a cincher, work on the root causes. So…it’s a cinch? :) Vata Seasonal Bloom will help a lot!!

WOW, kitchari cleanses work

wow1 Hi Monica! Just to say I’ve tried the kitchari cleanse and loved it! Actually I’ve only done it for 3 days – the taste was lovely (my parents were jealous of my food), but I just couldn’t keep eating the same thing for a longer time (vata!) I’ve done it from Thursday to Saturday. Today I went to see my Ayurvedic Practitioner and guess what? She examined me and said I had no ama :) Hehehe Thank you Monica! Wish you all the best! Xx

Ayurvedic Fasting

fasting

question_masthead

Julia, 23 vata-kapha from Brazil asked a question about ayurvedic fasting. Goodie! Thank you, Julia! xo!

Hey Monica! I’m from Brazil, I’m 23 and I’ve been practicing ayurveda for 3 months now. Could you please speak a little more about Ayurvedic fasting, and the different ways of fasting? As I said, I’m a kapha-vata and my kapha is a bit out of control, so I put some weight during the last year and my agni is veeeery low. I tried fasting (with ginger tea, and other types of tea) but I couldn’t manage to do it – I felt anxious, tense and hungry (maybe emotional). Is that because of my vata constitution? Only “pure” kaphas can fast? Being a kapha-vata makes me mad sometimes! Hahaha. Thank you sooo much! And good luck with you time/energy managing! I’m sending you good vibes from Brazil!

Ah yes! Fasting in our modern world might sound a little torturous (is that a word?) but it’s really one of the best things we can do for our digestion. And! In Ayurveda, optimal digestion is crucial because it affects evvvvverything else! The reason why fasting is good is because it gives our digestive fire (agni!) a chance to digest any extra food we have hanging out in our insides. Think of it as cleaning out your closet. If you ignore it, you will collect stuff you don’t want, don’t need anymore, AND you won’t have room for good new stuff. Same with food and our digestion.

Depending on your dosha, you will have to fast in different ways. Let me briefly outline for you.

Vata Fast: three square meals
Pitta Fast: fruit/veggie-fruit juice fast
Kapha Fast: at least once a week (think: skip dinner one evening and breakfast the next day)

As a vata-kapha combo, Julia is torn between the vata fast and the kapha fast because they are opposite! She is getting light headed without food because vata can’t handle that, however her kapha really needs a break and her agni a boost. So my advice, Julia, is to do a kitchari cleanse :) Kitchari is the BEST EVER cleanse in Ayurveda. It completely cleans out residue oldy moldy food stuffs, stokes agni, and you’ll be eating so you won’t feel hungry. I suggest doing this cleanse for 3-5 days and you can repeat as often as you need. Hope this helps, Julia!

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE KITCHARI CLEANSE.

 

 

 

 

Vata-Kapha = Cold

way_too_cool

question_masthead

I’m a Vata-Kapha, and I seem to be more Vata mind (anxiety, lots of thoughts) and Kapha body (I don’t lose weight easily, etc.) I know I need vigorous exercise and to cut down on Kapha foods, but how can I balance Kapha and not aggravate Vata?

Fabulous question!! If you are a person who is vata/kapha doshic combo, don’t worry your pretty or handsome head, it’s not as complex as it seems! Let me break it down for you. The qualities that vata and kapha have in common is that they are cold. So they both tend to have weak or varied agni, which means their digestive fire is unreliable (vata) or low (kapha). The fire element is missing in both of these doshas, so they miss out on the heat! So the key for the vata/kapha combo is to keep warm and spicy!

The vata/kaphas will do better with consistent (daily) exercise rather than vigorous exercise. Don’t go crazy with the intensity of your workout, instead, do cardio (fast walk or jog) for 20-30 mins OR do yoga. One or the other. Yoga is great for all doshas! Overexercising will mess with the vata mind and could also injure a supple kapha body! Also, my advice is to eat lots of veggies and some carbs – all veggies should always be warm and well seasoned. When it’s fall and winter, veggies and foods should be moist either in a light sauce or ghee. In spring when it’s more wet outside, favor roasted veggies or veggies from the grill! As a habit for these vata/kaphas, foods and drinks should be warm or room temperature to keep your agni going! Another agni tip, make sure that dinner is your lightest and smallest meal of the day.

Also, limit meat and sweets. Meats are very hard to digest (pittas can digest them because they have so much fire!) and sweets will make kapha gain weight while making the vata mind scattered. Keeping a consistent and reliable routine is important, especially heading to bed by 10 pm and waking just a smidge before sunrise. Zoning out to the tv before bed for hours ain’t no way to wake up like a spring chicken (I know you, kapha… ;)!

Hopefully this sheds some light! Holler with questions, suggestions or anything you want to share! xo.

Vata’s Vices

vatas_vices

 

Sometimes people think I have magical powers because I can often predict peoples’ diet and lifestyle habits even if I don’t know them very well. The way someone behaves (and eats!) gives me a lot of insight into their doshic make up. And not only that, but also gives glaring information about the dosha that is imbalanced. In Ayurveda, when a dosha is increased (imbalanced), the person will crave foods and habits that will keep increasing that dosha. Meaning, they will crave the completely wrong things!

Let’s take vata for example. Vata people talk a lot, move a lot, do a lot, lose focus, forget things, skip details, are creative, are dramatic/moody, love to be spontaneous, and are naturally bubbly. My brain automatically says, “Vata.” Now, when I observe one of these vata people drinking a lot of coffee, skipping meals yet eating candy as a food group, drinking lots of diet Coke or carbonated beverages with ice, I say to myself, “Vata imbalance.” Why? Because a balanced vata would not crave those things.

In my observation, the most common vices for vata are: icy and/or carbonated beverages, coffee, candy, fake sugars, and gum.

I swear it. I’ve seen it too many times and these are the vice-favorites (Vice-rites? Anyway…). They all give a fast and false jolt of energy, which vatas have enough of naturally, so these vices put them into manic over drive. Buzz, buzz, buzz!!! In addition, anxiety, racing thoughts, insomnia, extra cardio (because they are worried about weight gain), constipation, and dramatic changes in mood are all common and often arrive together. No bueno! It’s all too much movement, too much activity, too much cold.

If you are you thinking, “Um, this is me,” then welcome to holding the power of change in your own hands. :) And if you are thinking, “Naw, I like soup and yoga.” Then great! You are on the right track. Since I’ve given you vatas biggest vices, I will also give you some of their greatest virtues

In my observation, a balanced vata craves: warm food and drinks, a whole foods diet, early bed and early rise, craves a scheduled routine and downtime.
When vatas follow what balances them, their positive qualities will majorly outshine the qualities they need to work on. If there was a bubbly, dramatic, unfocused person in front of me, and they grabbed a cup of herbal tea while enjoying their morning oatmeal, I would guess that they are much closer to their original balance. Unless they just read HeyMonicaB last night and are putting their learnings into practice. ;) So there’s the secret and I’m not magical, just observant (watch, I’m going to get a bunch of pittas asking for what their vices are…just watch).

And yes pittas and kaphas, I’ll do your vices next. But while we are still on vata, any vatas out there have other vices they want to share? We won’t judge. Maybe we can give you an alternative to help you shine like the sparkly ball of energy you are! X!

You need sleep

Hey! Did you know you need sleep? Well, you probably did. But, did you know that not getting enough sleep is one of the causes of vata imbalance? It’s true! Even if you are not a vata person naturally, you will begin to experience vata symptoms like forgetfulness, moodiness, worry, panic, anxiety, depression, and a general sense of feeling “ungrounded,” without enough sleep. In our busy worlds we stay up late working, watching tv, Facebooking, or maybe working on projects. But there is no better project than YOU! So get your booty to bed by 10/10:30 and enjoy your zz’s. Try it without fail for one week and see if you feel renewed energy! Has anyone tried getting more sleep in their quest to be more Ayurvedic? How is it working?

Please note: coffee is not a proper substitute for sleep, it’s a bandaid. And underneath that bandaid is someone who just needs sleep. :)

 

A dosha match made in heaven

Match Made in Heaven. Ayurvedic heaven that is.

 A little match made in heaven: I received this email from one of my dear readers who was curious about inter-doshic relationships. Just as food, exercise and nature influence the doshas, people do to! Here is a sweet story about how a vata/pitta person and a kapha person form complete unity and balance each other. I’ve highlighted areas in orange italics to demonstrate why compliments attract :)

I’ve (vata/pitta) recently gained a very special friendship with someone who is pretty much kapha (everyone loves a kapha). She’s down-to-earth, happy, easygoing, curvy physique, etc. She’s all girly and about clothes and has perfect hair (kaphas love to look nice and have nice things). I’m older and a smaller person who prefers sportswear—I feel I’ve got my shoes covered because I have one pair brown and one pair black (pittas like comfy clothes and keep it simple so their mind can focus on more important things). So we walk along, rather quickly (vata/pitta making kapha move quickly – great!), and we talk about everything under the sun (talking and listening is therapy – tridoshic).

Her Kapha-like personality and my Vata/Pitta thing has made for a few interesting observations on my part. One day I was hovering in the ether, all anxious and stressed (vata problems) about something that, “wasn’t quite right” in my world. (vatas are the most intuitive) I was walking along, waving my arms, ranting and fussing (vata, vata, vata). She let it all play out and then just said something like, “People just sometimes don’t cooperate. Good thing we have you around to keep us all on track.” (kapha, always keeping the peace and giving an ego boost at the same time) Then gave me a big hug (kaphas give the best hugs), which, of course she is very good at, and I, of course, crave (vata is pacified by physical touch). I have to admit I chuckled to myself later when I recalled that episode (laughter is some amazing medicine – tridoshic).

This is proving to be a very great friendship for us, as she’s offered love and nurturing to me (kapha qualities), and I’ve been able to offer objective, realistic advice (pitta qualities) as well as keep her moving with regular exercise, and listen to stories of her past that she still grudges about (kaphas hold grudges if pushed far enough).

Thank you for sharing with us, dear reader! Sounds like a match made in Ayurvedic Heaven :) Anybody else have an example of someone who balances you? xoxo.

Vata Season!


Listen to the vata HeyMonicaB radio show episode here: http://bit.ly/pLxW08

Kind peoples! Tis vata season! It’s getting chilly and blowey outside. Leaves are falling and we might crave warm drinks while we add an extra layer of clothes. I created an entire booklet focusing solely on Vata! Please download and share Seasonal Bloom Vata so that you know what to expect and how to manage the energy of vata in fall and early winter. XO!

Chews Wisely

What’s Ayurveda’s view on chewing gum? I’m a vata dominant and I chew gum after every meal (sugar free wriggles ones that are meant to be good for your teeth) Is this ok? Thank you!

This is an awesome question! Chews Wisely! Chewing gum is something we may overlook because, well, gum is tiny. And we don’t swallow it. It’s kind of like nothing. So why would we consider chewing gum as any sort of influential factor in staying balanced? And I’m going to say, “Because in Ayurveda, everything counts!” :)

The answer is that chewing gum is vata increasing. Sorry for the news. But if you think about it, it’s kind of like fidgeting (also vata) except with our mouth. It’s constant motion, constant action, and it’s rather subconscious because we do it without really paying attention. It’s mindless action (especially for those gum snappers!) which is a quick way to increase vata because vata IS action/motion. On top of it, digestion starts in the mouth with salivation, so you are jump starting that process over and over as well as swallowing lots of air. This can cause gas and bloating (yes that tiny piece o’ gum) and also create a sense of anxiousness in the mind. Vata is the energy of movement…so the more movement you have (albeit a wee tiny piece of gum), the more that energy will increase.

Ayurveda is not magical

Hey guys! Often when people think of Ayurveda, they associate it with the image below. Seemingly magical remedies that really don’t make logical sense.

The girl has Shirodhara treatment - indian oil massage.

Am I right? It might seem mysterious, exotic, pretty unattainable, maybe luxurious or elitist, and even a little weird. Like gross, who would put their head under warm oil while it drips all over their HAIR! Eu! And then how do you get it all out?! ;)

Well, shirodhara (SHEE-ro-DAR-uh) is the name of the therapy where the oil flows onto the forehead from one side to the other, almost in an oval pattern. Unlike all the photos you see, there is actually a person (or should be) moving the oil stream from side to side. Anyway, my point is that while this therapy is truly awesome (if you could feel it’s awesomeness, you would BEG for oil to be dripped all over your hair), it’s a teeny weeny part of Ayurveda! Shirodhara is not accessible to most people, it can be expensive for treatments, and it’s not something you can do daily.

I have good news. Ayurveda is so much more than shirodhara, herbs and other “magical” remedies. 90% of all imbalance can be corrected with diet and lifestyle. Do you know what a magical remedy is? Eating really good food that comes fresh from the earth, not from a lab or a GMOed seed. Another magical remedy is getting enough sleep each night and turning off computers early enough so we can unwind. Sleep does magic for the mind to help it rest as the body restores itself. One of the best magical remedies is getting daily exercise (yes daily, discipline!) even if it’s a 20 minute daily walk. Drinking enough water to keep the body supple and flowing is also another magical remedy. It keeps the mind clear and focused, channels flow easily, and our bodies stay buoyant instead of shriveled. My favorite magical remedy is breathing. It’s so magical and easy that we forget it’s even there ;)

Friends, when you think of Ayurveda and talk about it to your comrades and loved ones, remember that Ayurveda is simple. Ayurveda is life. Ayurveda is nutrients, rest, movement, hydration, and taking in enough oxygen. If you don’t have these things, then don’t bother with the fancy shirodhara therapy, the spas, the herbs, or the massages. Start simple. Start with what you already have within your power. And if you aren’t doing those simple things yet, then start practicing :) That is where you will find your results and where you will live your best life. And once you get the hang of that then run, do not walk, to your nearest Ayurvedic spa for an indulgent shirodhara session :) xoxo!! You can DO it!!!

If you want to practice the real deal (it’s accessible, simple and fun!), you might want to check out my book IN YOUR ELEMENTS. It’s a workbook! And I talk like you! Ain’t no mystery or magic, it’s chock full of real life, easy ways to keep you feeling awesome every day.

Does Ghee Make Me Fat

Hey Monica! I KNOW that ghee is one of your first recommendations to cure the sad balls (esp. for vatas) but I am AFRAID to eat ghee. I know it is clarified butter and that just says cholesterol and weight-gain for me. You said above that you won’t gain weight from ghee, etc. Why is that since it is butter? What about cholesterol? This post might be a bit late, like a vata in distress, I also just sent out my Christmas cards last week! (fyi, she wrote this on January 13th. Ha ha!)

GREAT question and thank you for bringing this up. Certainly you are not the only person who wants to know, “Does ghee make me fat?” Raise your hands if it has crossed your mind that eating ghee will make you gain weight. Ohhh…that’s what I THOUGHT! Look around the room, see? You’re not alone. Leave your hands up if you are a vata. Ah-HAH, just as I thought. See, vatas always ask the “Will it make me fat?!” question and the irony is that vatas are the dosha least likely to gain weight no matter what they eat. In fact, vatas need extra fats yet they are most paranoid about eating them.

Now, let me get to the answer of this question because I know you all have little vata ants in your pants. DOES GHEE MAKE YOU FAT? NO! GHEE DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT. Feel better? ;) Let me explain.

————————

GHEE FACTS:

Ghee is balancing for vata and pitta. Kaphas can have ghee in moderation. Vatas need the oil and agni stoke from ghee. Pittas need the agni stoke and the cooling effect ghee has. Kaphas need just a little ghee because they are already oily and cool.

Ghee is the only fat that actually increases agni (digestive fire/metabolism)! So imagine eating a super tasty fat that increases your ability to digest and assimilate foods as well as give a little boost in the metabolism department. Yum, magic!

Different than butter, ghee does not cling to our insides to make a cloggy mess. In fact, it very mildly pulls toxins out it goes through our bod.

Ghee “butters” the insides and helps us maintain regular digestion (per the question above).

Ghee melts when you touch it, even at room temperature and it seeps deep into our tissues to keep our bodies supple. Butter does not. You can even put ghee on a mild burn (cooling, remember) and you cannot with butter.

Ghee has a high smoke point and won’t burn in the pan, so you can sautee veggies or spices in it and add to your favorite dishes.

Ghee is a sattvic food;  foods that promote total harmony in the body-mind. Our minds get easy so instead of worrying if ghee makes us fat, we can simply enjoy it. On a larger scale, our focus in life turns to enjoyment rather than worry.

In Ayurveda, using ghee is said to lower cholesterol!

Butter does NONE of these things! They are different foods. Butter and ghee are not the same thing.

————————
But you might not still believe me. Well, let’s flashback to the 90’s. Remember when you were eating SnackWell’s cookies by the box because we were told we could eat any foods as long as we didn’t eat fat? And, remember how you didn’t lose any weight by not eating fat? Our bodies need fat—it’s essential to our vitality, intelligence, digestion, happiness (fat keeps us happy!), and strength. When we eat good amounts of fat, it tastes good going down, therefore we are satiated, and therefore, we eat less. We don’t need to gobble SnackWell’s by the boxfull because one baked apple with a touch of melted ghee, brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom will leave our tummies and minds satisfied for hours.

Now, I’m not saying eat gobs o’ ghee, simply just substitute ghee for your butter or oil. Really! Just use it as you would any other fat, about 3-4 tblsp per day. Spread it on toast, drizzle on rice or pasta, bake it with apples or pears, use on your grilled cheese instead of butter, or put a tsp in your oatmeal to help you “go” in the morning.

Give it a try for a week and see if your sad little balls are remedied. You will not gain weight in a week, that I promise. In addition, be sure to stay hydrated too. Ghee + water are a vata girl’s best friend. Become friends with ghee, your body will thank you! Let me know if this helps! xo.

Want even MORE info? Dude, I wrote a book and it’s awesome. Check out In Your Elements, A Blooming Ayurvedic Guide to Creating Your Best Life.

Cover

Dosha-lutions!

NEW YEAR just started! Yahoo! Many people choose January 1 as the day to turn over a new leaf and rework their life habits. I don’t think that’s a bad plan. The only bad thing is punishing yourself or quitting all together if you get off kilter. If you made a resolution already, remember to have forgiveness and tenacity. Meaning, don’t beat yourself up for not adhering to perfection (psshhht…who’s perfect afterall) but at the same time, don’t throw your hands up and quit if it’s not easy. There is a fine line. Two steps forward, one step back is still one step forward. Right? Cool.

I put together some DOSHA-lutions that you might like if you are having trouble deciding what to work on. These are suggestions based on your dosha! So, more than a resolution, this is a dosha-lution which is based solely on what will benefit your life and body-mind. The goal is to build upon your dosha-lutions over time so you build yourself new habits and a better way of living healthy! Remember to pick just one thing to work on. Too many things just sets us up for failure, so choose one and give it a go!


Refuse to pay fees at the ATM. Vatas usually fly by the seat of their pants which can have them spending more for last minute conveniences like ATM fees. Refusing to pay fees at ATMs as a dosha-lution will help vatas plan ahead to make sure they have cash in hand and it will help them save money!

Automate your savings. Figure out how much money you need per pay check and set up an automatic transfer to savings, leaving only the amount that you need in your checking. This way, you can spend everything in your checking account (woohoo!) and you’ll never see what you’re saving. One day you will be pleasantly surprised to see how much is in there!

Put yourself second and listen. Vatas can bowl people over with their enthusiasm in sharing what’s happening in their lives. While their energy is usually infectious and positive, they tend to talk way more than they listen which can be a little overwhelming for other doshas. Why not put the focus on someone else first. Before gushing with your stories, ask theirs. Ask how they are and make it a point to listen so intently that you can recite the details the next day (or two) when you talk to them again. They will be flattered and touched that you care so much and your heart will feel awesome that you’ve touched their lives. Bonus for vata too because vatas LOVE to touch lives.

Card stash. Vatas are mega multi-taskers and while their heart is always in the right place, their brain might not be. Birthday cards, anniversaries, baby congrats, shower gifts, wedding cards,  thank yous, and other courteous correspondence might fall to the wayside because of their busying and dizzying schedules. Remember, vatas love to touch lives! So, get a stash of cute, blank cards, forever stamps, even keep some birthday cards. When you want to write a note to Granny, you’ll have everything you need without having to run around town like a nutter ;)

Eat 3 square meals. Not 8 tiny ones. I know you.

 


Leave work on time. Pittas will work and work and work and work and work until their little heads explode and then they get pissy (wouldn’t you if your head exploded?). So why get to that point? If you are supposed to work until 5, leave at 5:00. Stress is the number one killer, people. The work will be there tomorrow and you will still have a job because you ROCK at what you do and people love you. So go home and have a nice night.

Limit talk radio. I know you like to be informed of all things happening everywhere in the world all the time (especially when you can debate about it), but dude, the constant chatter and news will increase stress levels without you knowing it. In at least one direction on your daily commute, opt for the classical or electronica chill station instead.

Volunteer. Pittas can get locked tight in their minds about their personal and professional goals and sometimes they forget there is a world out there that needs assistance. Take a time out once a month and volunteer with something that resonates. Women’s shelters need visitors, animal rescue groups need dog walkers and bathers, psychiatric wards sometimes use therapy dogs (if you have a nice doggie, talk to your local ASPCA and they might be able to hook you up), kids need tutors, or flex those muscles and move some rice bags around at your local food bank. Pittas need to be reminded to live through their HEART to find compassion. Volunteering is a great way to do that. Backbends are good too ;)

Bed by 10. I know you get your second wind after 10pm, but please sleep. Your gray hair and/or receding hairline (pitta traits!) are tell tale signs that you think a LOT. Your brain needs rest and so does your bod. If you got more sleep, you would be more alert and efficient during the day so that you can leave on time (double dosha-lution whammy!!).


Light Dinner. Kaphas digestion is slow so they tend to put on weight easily. Having a light dinner will help keep their bodies and minds light. When dinner is too heavy it sits in our guts all night long, making it tough to wake up. If dinner is smaller and easily digested, you’ll wake up like a spring chicken!

Daily walk. Incorporating a 20 minute brisk walk each day before or after work will make kaphas feel light and happy. Just 20 minutes! If it’s tough, come home and immediately put on your walking pants and shoes – and out the door! Not enough exercise results in a slew of health problems including weight gain, lethargy and depression, especially in kaphas. One of the very best things kaphas can do is to move their bods regularly!

De-clutter. Come on kaphas, you don’t need to keep the lucky socks you had in college. Okay maybe keep those but toss out the four pairs of back up lucky socks you have ;) When kaphas clean and de-clutter they feel instantly light, fresh, and renewed. Choose small, frequent projects and begin to get rid of stuff you don’t use. One project might be a junk drawer. Next project might be under your bathroom sink. Just do one tiny thing a week. If you try to tackle too much, it will take an entire day and you will hate it. If you break it down into small 30 minute bits, you won’t think it’s a pain. Before you know it your dwelling will be sparkley clean and you’ll feel like clickin your heels!

Once a week, do something new. Kahpas love routine and rarely stray from it. In fact, it makes them downright uncomfortable to have to try something new. However, branching out is a great way to infuse light and energy into a stagnant kapha. So once a week, try something new to stay on your toes. Go to a new coffee shop, take a different walking route (double dosha-lutions whammy!!), go do a different Walgreens, taste something new, even stir your tea in the opposite direction. It could be anything! Just make sure you aren’t buying something new because that will lead to more stuff that you are already trying to de-clutter. ;)

If you have any suggestions for specific dosha-lutions, I would love to hear them! There are GOBS of ideas out there and the more we come up with, the juicer life gets! Yeehaw! xoxo.

Think Tropics

Hoh-kay! Since vata season brings on the big chill, most people focus on staying warm. We pile on the clothes and crank up the heat in our homes and in our cars, overlooking that the heated air is extremely dry. So not only does vata season bring on the big chill but it also brings on the big dry! Ayurvedically speaking, using warmth to balance vata is logical and correct, but we can’t forget about moisture. I recently mentioned that we need oils in our bodies so we don’t dry out, and along the same lines our atmosphere also needs more moisture. I always think about a vata balancing atmosphere as the tropics, where the surrounding nature is warm and humid. In the tropics, plants are dewy, green, and lush. The air is thick, moist and heavy. The nature there has a little bounce, sponginess and flexibility. Nothing is brown, dry, brittle or cracked.

Ah ha! So more than warmth, there is a dense, wet, heaviness that many of us forget about when trying to balance our vata dosha. *ding! ding!* Welcome to balancing vata! Since most of us can’t just fly to Thailand to get our fix, there are some simple things you can do to make your home feel like a tropical paradise.

• Humidifier. Stick one in your bedroom and you’ll sleep like a baby. This is also great to calm a dry cough. If I could have it my way, I would live in a room that’s 80 degrees with 80-90% humidity. Hellooooooo vata zen!
• Boil a pot of water on your stove. It will humidify the air nicely. And especially if you live in a small apartment, the air will get nice and thick fairly quickly.
• Steam bath or shower. Steam it up in the bathroom (tip: if you are a sloppy vata and don’t fold your clothes, hang them in the bathroom on a hanger and the steam will get out the wrinkles) and take some deep inhales. Bring in your favorite aromatherapy oil and drip on the floor. Leave the door open when you’re done for instant humidifying.
Oil up! To keep the moisture “sealed” on your bod, use a little almond or sesame oil in the shower to keep moisture in.
• Ocean white noise. Okay so it’s not real moisture, but if you have a white noise machine or a smart phone with a white noise app, use the ocean setting! Turn it up! Visualizing a tropical place will help our vata mind settle and become instantly peaceful.

If you have other creative ideas to bring on the tropics, please do share! Once you increase heat AND moisture, your vata will sink into it’s virtual hammock to enjoy the get away.

Sad Little Balls


Cheerio! It’s vata season and over the past week, I’ve received several requests for me to talk about constipation and other vata digestion issues. I’ve always been pretty candid (pitta) and there’s no turning back now, so I’ll just keep going. Here’s what. My dear friend had a question for me this week about her poo. She said she was only pooping sad little balls. That made me sad, so I put together some ideas so that her poo gets back on track. Please see below and excuse (or enjoy?) the candor of the emails below. Here’s to happy pooping!

I’m not sure you want to hear about this, but my poop has been coming out in little balls lately.  From what I research, it’s a lack of hydration in the colon, but I drink freakin water all day long!!  It could also be sugar, processed food and alcohol (just wine in my case).  I love my wine, but I’ve cut back a lot.  I’ve never been a big processed food eater, but it could be the sugar.  The halloween candy has been a-flown into my mouth as of late.  I think I need to do a little detox. Also, from your article I gleaned that it’s a vata thing and I need to eat more oils/fats.  I’m not really sure how much tho?  I’m already dealing with a hefty 5lb increase because of those damn candies, so I don’t want to increase this too much.

Ah yes, you need oils/fats, Sweetie. Little balls is dehydration but water isn’t heavy or warm or unctuous (oily) enough to pull out the poops. Water is helpful for hydration but you need oleation. I know you may have gained 5lbs on candies, but you you still need oils. Oils for vata does NOT make you fat!! Does not, repeat DOES NOT. What it actually does is helps you feel satisfied so that you are not inclined to eat all the candies – instead, maybe just one or two and you’re done.
Could definitely be the sugar and the wine. AND it’s vata season! The root cure is actually to stop the candies and incorporate oils instead.
The munch munch munchie is typical vata eating, but it’s largely because they are rarely full and never satisfied. The lack of satisfaction is because of lack of proper fats. Good fats settle the nervous system, feed the brain, help the poops, and nourish all tissues so we aren’t walking around like dried out sticks. Dried out sticks break. And dried out sticks have NO immunity so they get sick easy because their ojas (life essence, vitality, immunity) gets depleted. Instead we want to be a flimsy palm tree that can bend and sway with the wind :)
Here is what I recommend for you. Take a little oil in a container (almond or whatever you have in the house – even olive would work) and keep it in the shower. At the end of your shower, put the oil on like lotion with firm strokes toward the heart. Let the water sort of rinse it off but don’t rub it off. This will help your skin and tell your body *ding ding* that it has nice oils.
 And!
• Get in the habit of drizzling your veggies with olive oil. Italians live a hell of a long time and it’s because their bodies are kept youthful by all that olive oil! When we dry out we look and feel older.
• Drizzle a little olive oil on your hummus (that’s the way they eat it!) in a circle (looks pretty) and have with some olives or olive tapenade and pine nuts. Serve with warm naan (not toasted).
• Dust your bread with some olive oil and then toast it – sprinkle w/ salt and pepper
• Foods that are friendly and happy, satisfying fats: avocado, salmon, walnuts, almonds, oils!!
• Grounding foods: rices, mashed potatoes, sweet potato (excellent for vata! superb food), beets (warm), hearty soups, thai, indian, goopy foods with lots of moisture.
• Put some raisins (best to soak over night in water and use the water to make the oatmeal) in your oatmeal. Dates are also great. These increase rasa (plasma) tissue which will increase ojas and elasticity in the tissues. When the tissues are elastic, your poop will be too (wtf. the things I say sometimes).
•  Shoot, even FRIED foods right now would help! French fries – you have my permission.
•  Do you like prunes? Sorry, dried plums? ;) If you do, eat 3-5 of them in the morning on an empty stomach and drink some warm herbal tea or warm water with them. You should go in about 4 hours.
• Normally I’d be pushing the ghee because it’s freakin magical for this kind of thing AND it rev’s metabolism so unless you are super kapha with ama (toxins), it’s highly unlikely to gain weight from ghee. But I respect your non-dairy approach so I’m trying to give other options :)
Ummmmmmmm…this is long. Does this help!?!
Lemme know if this makes sense or if you have more questions. I hope this resonates.
(I might even turn this into a blog post, sans your name of course).
XOXO!!!!

 

Quick Massage

Hey! Tip! If doing the full body oil massage in the morning takes too much time, I have a little short cut for a quick massage. Keep a little container of sesame (vata) or almond (pitta) oil in the shower. After you soap up and rinse off, apply the oil like you would a lotion! Your skin will stay soft, circulation will improve, your mind will be easy, and your vata will be balanced. On the weekends, do the longer massage :)

Smoothies? Or Roughies?

My question is about green smoothies. As you know, they are all the rage now and the concept is pretty appealing. BUT as vata, with all the “fun” digestive issues that entails, I have wondered if they are something to embrace or avoid.
1. They are cold. 2. They are raw. Got a take on this?
– Karen, South Carolina

Awesome question. Okay, raise your hands if you’ve heard of incorporating green veggie smoothies for good vitamins, good energy, good veggies, and good digestion. Alright, now leave your hands up if you’ve eaten green smoothies as part of your daily meals/snacks. Now, leave your hands up if you are drinking these smoothies during the fall, vata season. Those of you with your hands up will definitely want to read the below.
We already know vata’s qualities are cold, dry, light, mobile and rough. Therefore, vatas need to keep warm, unctuous (oily/moist), heavy, static, and smooth to stay balanced. A reminder that in Ayurveda, like increases like, while opposites balance. The other fact about vata is their digestive fire is variable and during vata season, it tends to be very weak. If digestive fire is weak, they have a hard time digesting their food which can result in constipation, bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea, even headaches!
In the case of smoothies, raw green veggies and usually a raw apple are blended to create a smooth, liquidy, green drink packed with nutrients. Which is totally true! Nutrients there are. But let’s look at the rest of it. Raw veggies are cold, dry, light and rough. ALL vata! Remember, like increases like? These smoothies are likely going to rough up a vata person’s insides instead of making them flow smoothly. Vatas need a real smoothie, like ghee or oatmeal or something smooth in texture. Raw veggies are actually very rough on the digestive system and Ayurveda does not promote raw foods. Bottom line, if you are a vata, raw veggies and even some raw fruits (apples & pears) are going to hamper your digestion especially during the fall and winter. There is no heat in nature and there is no heat in the food, therefore there is not much agni (fire!) in our bodies or in the nature around us to help digestion. Because our bodies are influenced by nature, this double whammy will leave us puffy-bellied, gassy, and even crampy.
If you have digestive issues definitely avoid smoothies in fall and winter. You can try them again in summer when it’s warm outside and if your digestion can handle the raw veg then, fine. But if not, don’t be sad. It’s not the end of the world. Just throw your smoothie into a pot and call it soup. You’ll still be cool in my eyes. :)

Does My Dosha Change

I am now 58 yrs. old with many, many more life experiences and health challenges than in my 30’s. I have a definite vata dosha now but if I had taken the quiz in my 30’s the results would have been different. Does a person’s dosha change generationally? -Deb

Ahh…”Does my dosha change?” is a great question. A person’s prakruti (natural balance of doshas) never changes. It’s innate from the time of conception. BUT what does change in our life are…seasons, jobs, relationships, food, eating habits, exercise, daily routine, emotions, etc., All these things can alter our doshas and that is where we get imbalanced. So it is safe to say that if you maintain your prakruti throughout life, you do not have any imbalances or health issues. That is perfect health. So in Ayurveda, we need to figure out your prakruti first, to understand where you started and who you are naturally. Then we examine where you are today and in how you’ve shifted from your natural state. THEN we begin to advise food, lifestyle, herbs, treatment, etc., to try and get you back to where you started. So! While your natural doshas stay the same as when you were in your 30s, you have added many more life changes which could sway your doshas from your natural state. Also, after menopause, we all enter vata stage of life, which is where you are now. So you will feel much more vata-like than you may have when you were younger. Does that help?