Category Archives: Physical Imbalances
(sing to the melody of “The Wheels on the Bus”)
The hours in the day go round and round. Round and round. Round and round. The hours in the day go round and round and before you know it, it’s TEN.
Hey! Ever listen to my radio show? Do you know the little song in the beginning called, “Life In One Day” by Howard Jones? Don’t try to live your life in one day, don’t go speed your time away. It was my mantra song when I was in my 20s, although back then I never followed it. In fact, I’m just starting to be at peace with not getting everything done. Like most of you, I work a 40-hour a week job, I have animals, a husband, a baby, and a beloved blog (Let’s not forget time-sucking facebook, which I am trying to spend less time on). I thought my schedule before baby was busy, but the wheels have come off that bus and there is no way to maintain that once adding a wee baby to the mix. It’s time to accept there are so many hours in a day. Ten o’clock p.m./Ayurvedic bedtime comes up mighty quick these days.
I’ve been beating myself up about not posting enough. Heaven knows I’ve got gobs of ideas (don’t worry, I’m noting them), I just don’t have gobs of time. Then I get sad. But THEN I get happy. Know why? Because it’s my job to live as we all do AND incorporate Ayurveda at the same time. And in that, I think I’m doing okay! Lookey. I’m not going to stay up until midnight to write blog posts – it’s not Ayurvedically healthy! But, I am going to take time to make my daughter’s baby food from scratch – because it’s healthy! And, I’m going to do my best at my job – because it feels good. And, I am going to take the dogs for a walk after work – because it’s good exercise! And I’m going to eat dinner with my husband – because we deserve time together. And once a week, we even watch one 21:43 minute tv show on hulu – because we enjoy it (Up All Night!). And, I have to go to bed by 10:00 – because otherwise I’ll feel like crud.
The priority list of “must do’s” can be an overwhelmingly long for any one of us. But look at the contents of the previous paragraph. Highlights include, eating good food, spending time with family, doing a good job at work, exercising, having downtime, and getting good sleep. THAT is Ayurveda in practice. More than eating ghee or making time for sesame oil massage (while those are great), this is the simple foundation that makes a good life and provides good health.
What I recommend is to do just a few things that are necessary for today, a few to make tomorrow a little easier, and a few just for kicks. That is balance, my friends. Don’t forget “just for kicks!” Stay happy in your evolving world. So, I guess that while I feel bad about not enough blog posts, I can also feel good about setting the best example possible. We can’t create more hours in the day, but we can learn to become happier within the hours we have. Love you guys. xoxo
One of Ayurveda’s finest foundations is teaching us about disease prevention. How awesome! If we don’t get sick in the first place, we will never feel like crud or need to take medicine. Brill! If we live according to who we are as individuals, mind the seasons and follow the daily routine, we should be in pretty good shape. Yes. But DUDE, what happens when we follow our diligent Ayurvedic plan and we get sick anyway?! Boo.
Despite us being good little Ayurvedees, we might get sick from time to time. Last night we found ourselves in the E.R. because my 6 month old had a barking cough accompanied by fast, shallow, wheezy breaths. She has croup! Rats. We were at the hospital from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. where she got steroid shots, baby tylenol and steam treatment (loved that).
I bring this up because it was hard for me, “Miss Ayurveda” to watch while my daughter was getting western treatment (except for the steam– Ayurveda smiles on steam). I felt uncomfortable, skeptical, pessimistic and definitely judgmental. I’m paranoid about every poke, prod, prick, pill, and potion they recommend. But then…I took a step back to remind myself western medicine, while not my preferred method of health care, definitely has its place. Last night we really, really needed it. The steroids helped open her throat so that she could breathe better, the tylenol helped reduce her fever and the steam calmed, cooled and moistened her tense, hot, and dry cough. Ayurvedic methods (that I’m aware of, anyway) could not have worked that fast and in this case we didn’t have time to wait.
So here’s what. If you are really working on managing your life through Ayurveda, remember there is a time and a place for Western and Eastern sciences to coexist. If you want to manage your sickies through a natural route do the best you can, but don’t feel like you have to suffer.
The best thing to do is use both sciences where they excel. Western medicine is good for emergencies and occasional, short-lived symptom management. Eastern medicine is good for disease prevention including, good nutrition, stress management, proper sleep, daily exercise and overall healthy habits for you as an individual. So, if you need to see a doc, ask him what the cause of your sickness might be. He will probably give you meds to ease the symptoms too, but then you’ll be armed with knowledge to prevent it next time. For example, we found out that croup was caused by low immunity (we did a lot of travel over the holidays which probably was taxing on her) and dry, hot air. Ah, hah! We had the heat on in our place and L.A. is definitely dryer than dry. So going forward, we’ll keep the heat lower and crank the humidifier.
Remember, if you get sick it doesn’t mean that yoga or Ayurveda or acupuncture isn’t working. Most likely you’re much less sick than those around you! Just get as much information from your healthcare professional as possible! You deserve to know what may have caused your issue. And if they can’t help you, find an Ayurvedic person near you so they can assess your habits and give you ideas for disease prevention. :)
Friendlies! Vata season is quickly approaching! Here again we find ourselves in ritusandhi or, the joints between seasons. Right now, we are ending summer and quickly moving into fall so it’s important to start incorporating vata habits now so that when the end of September arrives, our body-minds are conditioned for it.
One of the things you can do is start incorporating more oils into your diet. Vata is very dry and so is fall and winter. Since like increases like in Ayurveda, that means we have to balance the dryness with wetness. And not even wetness, but unctuousness (oily!). Don’t get me wrong, drinking lots of water is great, but it doesn’t really “lubricate.” It helps to cleanse and nourish our bodies, but it doesn’t plump anything up or provide elastic cushion like oil does.
Think of it this way, if your skin is dry would you put water on it as a moisturizer? Or, if your wagon has a squeaky wheel, will you put water on it to lubricate it? No way Jose! You would use some sort of oil! (please note: most moisturizers and lotions have water + alcohol as the first ingredients, which just makes the skin drier!).
In Ayurveda, oils are used a lot to keep the outer AND inner bodies supple. Our tissues really like it when they become more lubricated around the joints as well as nice and stretchy so that we can extend into our yoga poses. Oils help aid digestion, pooping, massage, it keeps us mentally grounded, and keeps our skin soft and wrinkle-free. Now, I don’t mean just put oil on the outside and rub-a-dub as a massage. That’s good too but vatas (and during vata season where vata balances rise in all of us) really need to start eating more healthy oils and fats in their diet. **Kaphas don’t need as much oil because they are naturally oily and too much oil will imbalance them.
Types of oils
Ghee – internal and external for vata and pitta. Use it as a cooking oil (has a high smoke point) to fry veggies in, as a spread on bread, melt in oatmeal, melt in soup, be creative! The sky is the limit. And if you’re bored, try some ghee-licious flavors!
Sesame Oil (cold, expeller pressed) – massage on vata skin
Almond Oil (cold, expeller pressed) – massage on pitta skin
Safflower Oil – good in case kapha skin gets dry during vata season
Olive Oil – vata and pitta can have plenty! Cook and drizzle with it
Flax Seed Oil – you can’t cook with this stuff but you can drink it or drizzle it on warm foods like a veggie & rice bowl
Also, if you have a problem with constipation and water isn’t helping, try oil! You can take 1 tbsp of ghee and melt it in a small amount of warm water or warm milk. Drink! Do this in the morning on an empty stomach and soon you’ll be pooping happy :D I’ve heard that Italians also do this with olive oil, although I don’t think they use a chaser. You can also try flax seed oil (liquid or gel caps) to lubricate and butter up the insides!
“What are the best ways to balance? Can you appear to be more kapha or vata if you are out of balance? I am much more pitta naturally and very much out of balance.”
Oh boy oh boy. I think this is the question I get most frequently, the question of the “hidden dosha(s).” Miss Reader posed this question beautifully. As she’s been learning more about herself, she realizes that naturally, she’s mostly pitta. However, the personality and physical traits that stand out to her currently, are more like a kapha and vata combination. I like this question for two reasons.
Reason numero UNO: This reader is beginning to know herself, which is absolutely KEY to healing in Ayurveda. She has been confused about what her prakruti or natural balance of her doshas really is (sound familiar?). It seems now after some learning, self discovery and time, she is beginning to find out what her natural balance is and therefore what she needs to do to stay healthy! Yay for discovery!
Reason numero DOS: She brings up the point of doshas that are shining bright, doing a little dance for everyone to see on the surface, but at the same time are masking our natural state. Ah HAH! It’s like removing a costume! Realizing that what is on the surface, may not be our authentic selves is also KEY to healing in Ayurveda. It’s also the part where everyone gets confused and sends me sweet little notes of dosha confusion :)
This is getting juicy. OKAY! So, there are three doshas. Your prakruti (born-in balance) will be one or two of those doshas (having all three is extremely rare so I’m not going to go there). But then life happens. Maybe we acquire bad eating habits or move to a different climate or have emotional trauma or we too much exercise that is not good for our dosha or we have a really stressful career. And so on! All these factors start to form the costume…they begin to change our natural balance and turn us into someone we might not recognize over time. This is when we start to feel, not like ourselves and might have some physical indications that we are off. It happens slowly, so unless we have really managed our health closely (or already know Ayurveda) and accurately according to who we are as an individual, we most likely have picked up some of these “life happenings” and might not recognize it until we’re pretty far off.
Here is an example of how a pitta person might be masked as a kapha.
Mr. Pitta has a stressful career which causes his pitta to increase, but to manage his stress he skips exercise (kapha increasing) because he has taken on too much responsibility and he’s exhausted. Mr. Pitta reaches for comforting foods to manage his stress (kapha increasing). Deep down he knows this has nothing to do with his hunger or stomach, but it’s for a different reason, to calm him. Then because he is overfull, he can’t get up in the morning and sleeps too late (kapha increasing) therefore not following the daily routine, so he has low energy for the day (kapha symptom and kapha increasing). He will reach for caffeinated beverages to get through the day, which gives false energy, causing him to crash and then need another caffeinated beverage in the afternoon. The result is, the naturally pitta person gains weight, has low agni (metabolism), carries too much stress, gets sick often (clogged channels and low quality ojas) and has no energy. Thus resulting in a kapha imbalance. This specific scenario I see tooooo frequently in our American society!!!
Finally answering the question…so what do you balance?! You always balance the dosha(s) that is out of balance, first. SO! If Mr. Pitta has a kapha increase, we manage kapha. We keep pitta in mind of course, but we work on reducing kapha to get Mr. Pitta back to his natural state. From there, he can live a pitta balancing lifestyle. It’s a little more complex than that because we have to keep in mind all the qualities of the doshas, but in a nutshell, that’s what Ayurveda does. This is one example, but this can happen with all doshas when we’re imbalanced. Kaphas can seem like vatas, vatas can seem like pittas, pittas can seem like kaphas, and as many other combinations as you can think of. Did I confuse you more? I hope not. When you break it down it’s easy.
Get to know yourself. Take the dosha test and remember to take is according to who YOU are NATURALLY, not necessarily today. Take your time and let your discoveries unravel. In all honesty, it’s not as simple as a dosha test. You know yourself better than anyone. Ask yourself questions, learn about the doshas and begin to absorb this wonderful knowledge to make it work for you! :) Namasté!
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. Make sure that your diet suits your dosha and the season. Make sure that you are following the daily routine to a tee. Make sure that your exercise is appropriate for your dosha. And! Make sure to destress completely each day. 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 he 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!
Holy nuggets! My last post was on May 3rd?! Boo. I’ve spent the last week feeling slightly neglectful about the time between posts. But today I realize, it’s a-okay to take a rest (my kapha husband tells me this all the time and I like to run myself ragged).
Lately I’ve felt much slower, more tired and a little emotionally overwhelmed with upcoming motherhood. Not to mention, my lovely day job that used to feel snuggly, comfortable, and productive has been turned on its head. Okay turned on it’s head and then spun in circles, while hitting the corner of a wall sometimes. The whole company re-org’d and essentially I have to learn my job over again (me and everyone else). I thank my lucky stars that I work with awesome coworkers so we can weather this storm together. But the whole thing is really hard all of our minds, bodies and spirits. So there’s that.
And then there was yesterday. Yesterday should have been a nice Saturday but I ended up crabby and crying…a lot. I sat in my bed and cried for most of the day. I also slept. I tried to write emails, but my energy was so low that I didn’t want it soaked into a note to anyone else. Since I’ve felt 99% great these past 30 weeks, I decided to honor my feeling like junk, knowing that maybe the crying was cleansing/releasing. For once I wasn’t running from here to there, I was just sitting still for a long period of time on my lonely island, which was kinda nice. By evening I felt much better and today, I feel like myself (*high kick*). I just wish tomorrow was another Saturday! I’m not going to kick myself though for feeling like poo. No regrets – I just needed time.
So here’s my advice. Sometimes we need downtime! And by downtime, I mean, it’s okay to be down! And tired. Or slow. We cannot always be everything and be everywhere for everybody! Cannot do. Us Americans don’t stop for anything. We push and push and push and push until we physically or emotionally break down. It’s one of the reasons why this country is so sick! We need time to rest and recoup. And I’m not saying that lightly. I’m saying, every day we need to make time for exercise (!!), rest, relaxation, and create some open space.
Rest is not an option or a luxury, it’s a necessity. When there is space, creativity will reappear. Surrendering to a well needed rest allows our bodies and minds to rejuvenate so that we can actually evolve and become stronger! We know this. It’s logical. However we tend not to listen a lot of the time because we are so busy jumping to the next thing. So whether it’s sitting out your volleyball rec league for a couple weeks, declining a party invite, or reduce the amount of yoga classes you teach each week (maybe you should take more of them and teach less for now), take the time you need for you. If we don’t take care of ourselves first, we are no good for anyone else. It’s true. Never forget that all healing comes from the inside out :) I will now take my tired butt to bed. Normally I like to make a pretty graphic but all I can muster is some green type :) Namaste friends and be easy with yourselves.
On last night’s radio show (episode 12) we were talking about how to calm down chaos and focus on what really matters so that we aren’t lost in the spinning spinning spinning of life. We breezed over what my routine is in my busy-busy world and we also talked about managing everything when there’s SO much to do.
Most importantly we talked about the Ayurvedic daily routine and how important it is to stick to a schedule! After the show my highly resourceful husband shared Benjamin Franklin’s schedule with me. It made me want to cry! Look at it compared to the daily routine. They are pretty much the same!! Look at the sleep times. Look at the work times. He took time for lunch. He took time for some sort of spiritual outreach in the morning. He spent the evenings relaxing, cooking, and putting things in order from the day. He did not work longer than 8 hours a day. He did not go home and do more work. He did not let the stress of the day overshadow an otherwise pleasant evening.
MOST importantly, look at the questions he asks himself. In the morning he writes, “What good shall I do this day?” and in the evening he writes, “What good have I done for today?” WOW. Is that simple and full of heart or what!? I was so inspired by this because in no way was Mr. Franklin unproductive, nor was he bored, NOR did he seem stressed! He just did what he loved and organized it in a way that he had a pretty perfect work-life balance. He took time to just “be” and look how immensely productive and effective he was in his lifetime. Truly inspiring. And who knows, the man was really smart…maybe even he knew a little something about Ayurveda :) xoxo.
I got this question last week on my radio show when we were talking about ama and how to avoid getting sick. If you missed it, check out episode 9 to catch up! I missed Karen’s question and promised that I would answer in a blog post. Thanks for your question Karen!
Karen D. asked: You may have answered this already, but does the location of ama depend in part on one’s primary dosha?
To recap (although I highly suggest listening to le show), ama is toxins in our body-minds. Karen’s question was brought up because I was talking about when we have ama in our bodies, it seeks out weak tissues and based on who we are (doshas) ama will lodge in those tissues and create disease. I used examples of a vata person might find that ama settles in their bone tissue which might cause dry joints, causing cracking or stiffness. A pitta person might have ama in their blood tissue which may cause acne, rashes or herpes. A kapha person might have ama in their fat tissue which can cause low quality but high quantity fat, causing weight gain.
SO! Now that you’re all caught up, let’s answer Karen’s question. She is correct, it does in part have to do with one’s natural dosha(s) balance AND it may also have to do with a dosha that becomes imbalanced. They key here is to look at the tissues not the doshas. Uh oh, did I just confuse you? Let me simplify. Knowing what type of dosha(s) you are will help HUGELY in preventing ama in the first place, so then you don’t have to worry too much about where your ama goes…cause you shouldn’t have any :D
So yes, based on what your dosha is, you can anticipate where ama might go if you have an issue. I say, leave figuring all that out to your Ayurvedic Practitioner should you get to that point. YOUR job is to a) recognize ama b) clean it out when you know it’s there c) pay attention to what you’re made of (take the test!) and d) Follow the daily routine and lifestyle recommendations for your dosha.
Thanks for the question Karen!! I hope this helps! xoxoxo, MonicaB.
If you have any acid-reflux or heartburn issues, drinking licorice tea will help! Licorice (the real stuff not Twizzlers!) is cooling, heavy, and smooth. Will cool down, weight down and “smooth” out any heat and irritation. :)
Do you all know about the daily routine?! Ooooo…if you don’t you should because it’s one of the BEST things you can do for your health. Most of it is easy because it’s just making sure you are doing the right things at the right time. No mystery! Just a switching of the clock is all.
I promote the routine to my clients and get asked a lot, “Monica, what does your routine look like? Do you do all that Ayurveda stuff?” So I thought it would be fun to run through my day so that you can see it’s not really that tough to incorporate Ayurveda into a 40-hour work week grind. Did I say grind? I meant…thine lovely waking hours of the day at thee establishment of employment, Monday thru Friday ;) I’ve highlighted everything in PINK that is according to Ayurveda. If it’s BLUE, it’s not Ayurvedic. This is kinda fun since I’ve never written it out before so let’s see how I do.
Please note: It has taken me 3 years to get this far. Slowly I made the changes. If you want to adopt some of these, great!! But do them one or two at a time until they become habit. If you do everything at once, it will not stick. And, as you can see, there is still room for improvement. I’ll always be learning about Ayurveda, forever :)
MONICAB’S DAILY ROUTINE
6:15 a.m. (it’s really dark right now which makes it tough)
• 6:15 get up
• Pee (I don’t poop)
• Brush teeth, scrape tongue, drink warm water
• Take dogs for a brisk 25-30 minute walk, come back and feed them (feed someone else before you feed yourself).
7:00 a.m. The BEST part of the day
• Sometimes I eat an english muffin with ghee at home. Most of the time I make oatmeal with ghee at work.
• Go in our spare room, turn on my yoga salt lantern, my “facing east” pandora station, and write “morning pages” (based on The Artists Way) for 10-15 minutes
• Then I sit and do So-Hum for 10 minutes OR kapalbhati for 5-8 minutes
• Kiss George goodbye as he leaves for work
7:20 a.m. Personal Hygiene
• Shower. I use Dr. Bronner’s Lavender soap (natural) and shampoo with chemical crap in it.
• Get out of the shower. Our 2 dogs that were sitting on the floor mats come over to lick the salt off my ankles and the cat jumps in the shower to play in the water (animals make us happy)
• Quickly apply almond oil to my legs, arms, torso and with what is on my hands, I do a quick eyebrow and cheek massage. If I was following Ayurveda, I would do this before my shower. I will work on making this change.
• I don’t wash my face in the morning, I just rinse it with warm water. I use Rose Du Jour moisturizer by Simply Divine Botanicals (natural & awesome), unless my skin is really dry and then I use Amazing Face moisturizer.
• Take 2 amalaki tablets (detoxification, rejuvenation, heart tonic, pitta & vata balancing)
• Dry hair w/blowdryer, use non-Ayurvedic hair products (Aveda, which is based on Ayurveda but owned by Esteé Lauder. So I count them as a no). Get dressed.
• Go to kitchen, grab leftovers for lunch and heat the chai I made last night in the microwave, then put in my to-go cup
7:55 a.m. Commute
Drive 5-10 minutes to work. Yeah, not really a commute…
8:00 a.m. Work Day!
• Say “Good Morning!” to Marshall, Sharon & Lisa. Put my stuff down, turn on computer. Go get a warm glass of water (I have not pooped yet) and make my oatmeal with ghee that I borrow from Gavin’s desk (he only has ghee ’cause of me anyway…)
• Sip my homemade chai
• Go through emails, listen to voice messages, do all the easy things on my list, poop (the water works every time!), help people get jobs (even with positive thoughts), be nice to coworkers, clients and talent. Sip warm water, sniff lavender
I usually eat my leftovers at my desk (this is not Ayurvedic, I should take a full hour and I should eat away from my computer). Sometimes I come home for lunch and eat on our porch with the dogs. That’s the best!!!
• Do the challenging work and meetings in the afternoon.
• By 3:00, I’m antsy. I usually wave my arms around, stretch, yawn (loud, stick my tongue out), sigh, look at coworkers through binoculars (two fists around my eyes making to peek through) and sometimes I go lay on the floor of someone’s cubicle and then leave with a happy butt dance. I end all of this with some tea and go back to my desk.
5:00 p.m. Quittin Time!
• Get home, kiss George and take the dogs for another walk together 30+ minutes. We talk about our day.
• 3-4 days a week I do yoga or ballet workout after the walk
6:15 p.m. Making Dinner
• Dinner! George usually picks up ingredients for a vegetarian friendly dinner together and we make enough so I can take leftovers the next day. We always eat a light together, at the table and sometimes while watching football.
7:30 p.m. Down Time
• Any mix of: Heymonicab projects & blog posts, practice violin, study, reading
• Sometimes I do my yoga or ballet here
Most of the time, I follow my own guidelines and turn off the computer. Sometimes I’ll get in bed and read, which always feels luxurious.
10:00 p.m. Bed!
• Wash face with Black Velvet skin cleanser and moisturize with Amazing Face.
• If it’s dry or I’m feeling old (hah!), I put a little almond oil at the corners of my eyes
• I lay on my right side and do So Hum…I don’t know how long because usually I fall asleep
That’s my day in a nutshell. The great thing is that I don’t stray too much from it, which balances my vata. Vatas need routine. I’ve changed my eating habits to include warm meals (to balance vata and my varied digestion) and I often bring my lunch from home, which also saves money. I have more energy because I get up early and the almond oil in the morning feels awesome on my skin. Using high quality facial soaps and moisturizer is KEY to keeping skin hydrated and wrinkle free! A job is a job is a job, so I make it fun for myself and the people around me. Life is too short not to have fun! Walking the pups and getting some exercise feels like recess and I can catch up with George then too. Dinner is usually light and full of warm veggies mixed with pastas, noodles or rice. Bed time is key! If I’m not in bed by 10, I’m up until 1:00 a.m. and a tired, crabby disaster the next day.
Try some of this stuff!! These are good, fun, easy tools you can try. If you try it, really commit to doing it for two weeks. You will notice a difference. Share your stories with us – we all want to know!! You have a big cheering squad, so go for it! Be well my friends. XOXOXO!
HERE’s a lovely thought: When you have clear/clean burps, it means you have fully digested your last meal and your body is ready to eat! A fine example: It’s 6:00 pm (dinner time) and you are still burping up Indian food you had for lunch (burp talk is just never pretty). That means the food is still in your system and it’s not ready to tackle dinner on top of it. Take note, have some ginger tea and skip dinner. Chances are you’re probably not hungry anyway. Give your digestion a chance to catch up because mal-functioning agni (digestive fire) is the root cause of 90% of all diseases. Tra-laaaa!
Thanks for the questions Magdalena!! I am happy to answer. In Ayurvedic cooking, it is recommended that veggies are cooked. Cooking veggies aids agni in digesting food because the food has the “fire” element (heat, cooking, grill, whatever) is already introduced before it hits our stomach. If we eat raw veggies, they are cold, rough, and hard which means it takes a really strong fire to digest them properly. So in general, any sort of heating your food will help you digest better.
There is a little Ayurvedic science involved in the cooking methods but when you remember that the 5 great elements (space, air, fire, water, earth) govern everything, it will make your life easier.
If you boil veggies, there is heat (fire), but what other element is there? Anyone? “WATER!” Yes hooray. Prize goes to the lady in the purple shirt. Therefore, boiling veggies is better for folks who need more moisture. Vatas are the most dry of the three doshas so a little extra water will help keep their digestion happy (don’t forget to drizzle ghee on the veggies for more lube!).
If you grill veggies, fire is the main element and there is also air involved. This will be a great method for kaphas or sluggish digestion because the fire in the grill will heat and stoke our fire within.
If you roast veggies, it will depend if you roast them dry, which is good for kapha and pitta. Or you can roast them in oil or ghee which is good for vata.
Frying is…hot oil! Which dosha needs something warming and oily? “VATA” Wow! The lady in the purple shirt is cleaning house. Vatas can actually have fried food in the winter when it’s freezing and dry outside. As long as the oil is fresh and we don’t eat too many fried foods, vata will feel comfortable and “buttered” after a little friedness.
Always remember that the 5 elements make up every wee piece of matter and energy. Just five tiny things! When in doubt, see if you can pick out what elements are involved. From there use your knowledge and choose the opposites to balance. Hopefully I didn’t confuse you too much. Slowly absorbing this information is key to really applying it. With enough practice you can be like the lady in the purple shirt…and you could win…A NEW CAR! Just kidding. I live across the street from where they film The Price Is Right. Not kidding. Aaaaannnd, scene.
Happy Independence Day Weekend!! I am back in Milwaukee (my hometown) this weekend to celebrate in 4th of July festivities with family and friends. The journey started out a bit rushed and I didn’t get to eat breakfast on the first leg of the trip. During our stop over in a pretty major city, I was excited to find a little deli sandwich and maybe a piece of fruit cause I was staaaaarving.
What I found was Pizza Hut, KFC, McDonald’s, Panda Express, and Ben n’ Jerrys. I got instantly sad. I looked around and the lines were pretty long at each of these places. I got sadder. I felt bamboozled, like the fast food places were laughing at me (insert scary clown face) saying, “Mwwahahaa MonicaB, you think you make it easier for people to choose wisely for themselves in life. Well now you’re out of California and even YOU have no choice. mwwaahahaaa…” I felt awful and duped! Duped. Not an apple, banana, bagel, wrapped sandwich, yogurt, nothing!!
I got rockin angry. And thought, ” OMG we really are at the mercy of corporate America and what they make available for us to eat!”
Or are we?
I was so starving but refused to get that food. I walked a little further and found a Schlotsky’s Deli. I got a veggie and cheese sammy on warm wheat bread. That works! “‘Mmwwaahahaa’ back at cha clown face in my head, nothing stops MonicaB from taking care of herself!”
My friends we have a choice. You and I choose every day what goes in our bodies. Use your buddhi (booDEE), your wisdom to make right choices. You can DO it! Nobody else will do it for you, nor can you rely on outside sources to make decisions about your heath. It might seem like, “Duh, if these places are in business they can’t be that bad for you.” But our nation is getting sicker and sicker. OUR nation. WE. US! U.S.!!! And we know it.
Remember that YOU are independent. YOU make your choices. YOU have the power in your entire being to take care of yourself! Start choosing the right foods, not just the “easy” foods. If you get confused, a basic rule of thumb is eat as close to nature as you can. If you know where a food came from, you’re in pretty good shape. If you don’t know where the food came from, how it was made, or the full ingredients, make a different choice.
Sorry for the little rant, but I love you and I want you to take CARE of yourself!! I will change this nation, even if it takes til I’m 90! I swear I will because we deserve better!!! (sigh) Ok, huggies. Nightey-night.
Now, it’s been two months since I started and my skin has almost completely cleared up (I also went for a facial from my new favorite lady, Narine!). I got a reduction in medication two weeks ago from my doctor and I have to wait another 4 weeks to get my TSH levels checked. If the levels are normal, we’re in business!! That will mean that my thyroid has started working on it’s own again.
The good news is I got my period normally (tmi? whatever.) which NEVER happened when I was hypothyroid…so I’m hoping that’s a good sign.
In addition, a friend of mine found this cool site that has free yoga, pranayama and meditation classes. This yoga class is specifically for the endocrine system! I haven’t tried it just yet, but I will soon enough. An fyi, in case it seems weird, the “hummmm” sound she makes in the beginning is the vibrational sound of the 5th chakra (throat).
Anywho. Come on little thyroid…you can do it…go go go!! :)
Hey! For those of you practicing or those who have been wanting to try yoga, I found this great list of 40 ways yoga heals! I got it from a super yummy book, Yoga As Medicine by Timothy McCall, MD.
Yoga and Ayurveda are ancient sisters and they work hand in hand. To put it simply, yoga is the practice that gets our minds ready for meditation. You might say, “But hey, yoga is physical, not really mental.” Well, in a nutshell (a very tiny nutshell) the physical poses in yoga work to calm the mind, so the spirit can open.
And, Ayurveda is the lifestyle that compliments yoga practice. Vice versa one could say that yoga practice completes an Ayurvedic lifestyle. Ideally in life, you would do both of them together because they sort of rely on each other. Ayurveda will encompass diet, lifestyle management, cleansing (panchakarma) therapies, herbal recommendations, pranayama (breathing techniques), and massage therapies. Yoga is the asanas (poses) that touch on the subtle channels of the body, to promote flow and help the mind calm down. Hopefully this wee nugget of info can help you understand the difference between these two lovely sisters.
“You should drink 8 glasses of water a day”
“Drink a glass of water before your meal for weight loss because you won’t eat as much”
“Divide your body weight by half, change that to ounces, and that’s how much water you should drink a day”
Any of these sound familiar? These are just three examples of information we are given about drinking water. AND, I’m going to say, don’t listen to them. Listen to YOU. We are all different bodied, minded, beautiful people and we all have different needs. Ayurveda has a totally different take on drinking water and as always, it has to do with who YOU are. It also has to do with nature’s clock and how strong one’s agni (digestive fire) is.
Think about it. A kapha person is made of water & earth. Kaphas don’t like to move, so they rarely sweat (thus keeping water inside). Kapha people also have low digestive fire and tend toward weight gain. And what does water do to fire? Yep, puts it out. SO! If a kapha person followed the second statement above in a quest to reduce their weight and drank a glass of water before each meal, their agni is instantly squelched and so is their ability to digests the meal properly. They just put out their metabolic fire. And they probably created ama. SEE how these blanket statement water rules can go wrong!?
Another example, pitta people are hotter (sweat, metabolism, stress) than a vata or kapha. Therefore, pittas are more thirsty because their fire is constantly burning and they need water to cool down and replenish. For them, more water helps them balance. SO! I’ll help set the record straight and I’m sorry if I confuse you. Please read with an open heart and an open mind. I want you to be healthy and I’m here to make life easy and happy!! xoxo.
RULES FOR DRINKING WATER
• No ice! Ice shocks the system, hampers digestion, and closes channels. Pittas can have cool water, but no ice.
• Sip small amount of warm water or tea with a meal. Have water 1 hour after the meal. Sipping a little warm water will help the food soften and prepare for digestion. But, if you drink cold water before, during or after a meal, your digestive fire will get put out. It’s the fastest way to weight gain, lethargy, indigestion, and ama (toxins). In Ayurveda, drinking water right after a meal is considered a poison.
• Drink when you are thirsty. Not because you are trying to match a magic number or because you think you have to keep your water bottle full. If you are a sweaty athlete, you will require more. If you work behind a desk (ahem!) you won’t need as much because you are not exerting heat or water.
• Have a glass of room temp water first thing in the morning. Awesome to flush the system from it’s night time processing. Good for the bowels, liver, kidneys.
• Know your agni. If you have strong metabolism, you will burn up water in your body faster, which will require more water. If your digestion is sluggish and you are prone to weight gain (kapha) or bloating (vata), sip warm water and don’t guzzle agua with your meals.
• Vatas need the most water (dry dry dry), pittas need moderate water and will likely slug water all day, kaphas need less water.
Sure! I’ve got some thoughts (and apparently the desire to draw a little liver). There are some simple spices you can use and even some fun concoctions if you want to get a little fancy.
1. Tumeric is a good one – they come in capsules or you can use in cooking.
2. CCF Tea (Cumin, Corriander, Fennel – all seeds). Take 1 tsp of each and boil in a pot of water for 5 min. Strain the seeds and drink. You can drink warm or room temp. Sip all day! It’s way tastier than it sounds ;)
3. You can make a hot infusion of Corriander seeds (1 tsp) and Cumin seeds (1/2 tsp). Boil water. Crush the seeds. Dump the seeds into the water and let it sit over night. In the morning, strain the seeds and drink the water first thing in the morning. This will cleanse the kidneys, urinary tract and liver.
The liver and blood is governed by pitta. If pitta has run amuck and it’s affecting the liver, that means it will also affect the blood, the skin, and possibly the eyes (all pitta parts). This is how Ayurveda encompasses the entire being because the problem is not just in one area. And therefore, we don’t fix just the area, we treat the person. Three cheers!!
Using spices to heal is a great start, but you will need to include lifestyle changes also. Reducing stress, regular exercise, getting good sleep (bed by 10!), eating fresh foods, reducing salty, spicy, fermented foods, all will help lower pitta and will therefore keep your little liver healthy! Oh, and don’t forget to breathe. So hummmm. xo!
Hey! One of you inquired about a kapha balancing spice mix to help clear excess kapha. Indeed I have one!
For those of you who want more information, here is a thorough article from Maharishi Ayurveda with their perspective. Note: remember in Ayurveda we do not treat “cholesterol” because a) it’s a medical term and that’s a no-no b) we treat the person, not the disease c) Ayurveda looks at the whole diet and lifestyle. I can help with b) and c).
If you want the short version, here is my summary of the article: Basically cholesterol (which Monica B did not say) is a kapha imbalance. Remembering that kapha is lubrication and structure (it sticks and holds things together), in the case of cholesterol, kapha has created an increased “collection.”
This “collection” reflects too much meda dhatu (fat tissue), which is also caused by a kapha increase. Why does kapha increase in the first place? Could be several reasons (mental, emotional, stress factors), but the main reason is likely low agni (digestive fire). Malfunctioning agni is responsible for 90% of all disease, which means if we don’t digest our food properly, we’ll eventually get some kind of imbalance. The key is to digest, assimilate, and eliminate foods properly (golden rule!) and you won’t get sick.
It’s also important to follow a kapha balancing diet and lifestyle if you have high cholesterol. Split lentils, mung dahl, garbanzo beans (hummus!) are good. All veggies are a big YES! Greens like kale, spinach, collard greens. All would be great sauteéd in a little ghee and add the spice mix below. Fruits like apples, pears, prunes and figs are also helpful for cholesterol because they help clean the bowels. Proper pooping is very important because it is directly connected to healthy agni. So pay attention :)
Avoid salts, cheeses, red meats, heavy breads, potatoes, goopy oil foods, fried foods, and yogurt. And as always, the fresher the food, the better.
Also, don’t forget about exercise! Kaphas don’t like to move much, but it’s exactly what they need. They need to get their sweat on at least 20-30 minutes daily. For kaphas who are lazy, try kapalbhati pranayam :)
Below is a recipe of spices that all have kapha reducing qualities. Together they will heat, dry and move excess kapha out. Sprinkle on toast in the morning. You can sauteé with cooked veggies and stir frys or sprinkle on rice or pasta (rice and pastas should be the smallest portion on the plate for kapha, veggies should be more).
Kapha Balancing Spice Mix
You can make a nice sized batch and keep in a lidded jar. Sprinkle on foods like rice, barley soup, veggies, savory toast or english muffin. Use to also sauteé vegetables or make an “Indian-ey” fried rice. Share with loved ones!!
3 parts ground turmeric
6 parts ground cumin
6 parts ground coriander
6 parts ground fennel
2 parts ground fenugreek
1 part dried powdered ginger
1 part ground black pepper
Show of hands, who is stressed? Yep, many of us are. Women especially, tend to tackle a lot at once and then wonder how they are going to get it all done. Instead of invigoration, this can result in negative emotions like stress, anxiety, panic, and a sense of ungroundedness. Sort of defeats the purpose of living the good life and loving the work, right?!
We learn tools to manage our time and finances, but what about our psyche? The mind is what rules our entire being, so shouldn’t we have a tool to help us bring peace and clarity when stressed?
My friends, there is a simple tool to use that we often overlook. It is, breath. Good old fashioned lips-closed, nose-open, breath. Ayurveda says there are two channels in the nose (one in each nostril) which are the quickest pathways to the mind. Just ten deep, slow breaths through the nose will instantly calm you. The negative emotions will vanish and you are able focus on the task at hand.
It works flawlessly because the two channels have alternate energies. The left side is male energy, which is hot and it relates to the sun. The right side is female energy, which is cool and it relates to the moon. Focused breathing equalizes the opposite qualities and when practiced, the entire body balances out physically, emotionally, and mentally. Slow breaths tell the mind we are okay and at peace. When we breathe like a bunny (fast and irregular), our mind thinks there is a crisis, which sends panic signals to the rest of the body. This is how physical imbalances can happen over time and why stress has become the number one killer. No bueno.
So let’s keep the peace and remember to breathe You will stay focused, happy, and most importantly, healthy!!
Taking a Breather
Here are some different pranayama you can try:
• My favorite is So Hum!! You can practice in the morning or at bedtime for 5-10 minutes. You can also keep this in your toolbox of health tips and use as needed i.e., long commute, standing in the coffee line, when you get a stressful email.
• Nadi Shodhanam
Cooling Pranayama (for pitta types or anger, when you feel like you could breathe fire…do these)
• Sheetkali: Clench teeth and inhale through the teeth. Feel the cool! Exhale through the nose.
• Sheetali (this one is fun!): Roll your tongue and inhale through the tongue. Also very cooling! Exhale through the nose.