Category Archives: The Best Of

Cabin Fever

cabin_fever

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

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

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

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

Mood Food

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Hey! Did you know that the food you choose directly affects your mood? Maybe you did, cause you are so Ayurvedically smart (if so, permission to *high kick* with pride!). You should know that every morsel we put into our body has energy connected to it. Consider it mood food. Yessiree that energy is what we ingest and therefore what we become. If foods we eat are made from bummer ingredients, we are going to feel like the world is one big bummer. Flip that and instead if we eat lively, fresh foods, we are going to feel lively and fresh. You might be thinking that’s a really literal way of assessing food, but man, it’s totally true.

Do you remember our friends sattva, rajas and tamas? In Ayurveda, these are the trigunas or three qualities, of the mind (download the chart). A quick recap, sattvic foods are pure harmony and help us make right choices. Rajasic foods create turbulence, competition, and are goal-oriented. Tamasic foods create darkness, stagnation, and lifelessness. Download this handy dandy list of sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic foods for reference. Just as important as foods right for your dosha, are the trigunas of the foods. Our food MUST be high quality – it’s essential!! We are built of the stuff!

Foods that are highly sattvic are veggies, fruits, and grains. Notice anything these foods have in common? They all come from plants! Plants are always happy, they have no emotions or stresses. They know that the sun will come out, rain will give them a drink and they grow while they reach for the stars. Pretty great, right? Wouldn’t you like to be like that too? Me too. Happy and reachin’ for the stars, I say!

Now! Let’s look at the other side. Foods that are highly tamasic are red meat, alcohol, canned, stale foods. These foods have no life. They have never seen sun, or if they have, the prana they had originally has been processed-to-death. Literally to death. For a second, let’s look at meat. Are animals always happy? Not necessarily. Do they live in the sun? Mmmm…they might, but not guaranteed. Animals have emotions, fears, stresses, anxiety and panic. Whatever life that animal lived, we eat it. True for us, if we eat those animals that lived under stress, we will become the same. Please make sure your meat comes from happy animals. And if you aren’t sure, don’t eat it.

SO! What foods create good moods? Plants! Veggies! Grains! Fruits! Ghee from happy cows (<– like from my man Sandeep! They’ve been making grass-fed ghee for generations!). AND, dairy if it comes from a good place. Always buy full fat and local organic dairy, if possible. In addition to foods, make sure to drink plenty of water. Plants wither and animals throw their water dish around when there’s not enough! Your body withers too, but your mood will be affected first, as a warning sign. Aren’t our bodies so smart to give us warning signs? Love the bodies. So, be thankful for being an evolved being who gets moody enough to know that you’re not eating the right things :) Incorporate more happy foods, full of sun, nourished by water and nature will give you peace, happiness, and innate knowing that all is well.

Who has questions!?!? xoxoxo!

Trifecta! Tri-Dosha Menus

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From my hands and heart to yours, here are three dosha menus in ONE post for your downloading and sharing ease. Groovytown!! *high kick!* These menus are not meant to box you in, rather, they are created to expand your mind into the world of foodie concoctions that are awesome for you. Something to keep in mind, if you eat a “wrong-for-your-dosha” food, don’t stress about it! Just do better next time, it will not kill you. In fact, someone once told me, “You cannot kill anyone with Ayurveda.” SCORE! Well, I suppose if you struck the wrong marma point hard enough you could, but that’s beside the point. If your body responds well to the food you are eating, keep doing that! If you are not digesting well, try some of the menu recommendations according to your dosha and see if you begin to feel better. Again, there are a myriad of foods we can choose and frankly we should have a diet balanced in all six tastes, organic when possible, and eat with a happy mind. If you do all those things, you will be in far better shape than you did before you found this crazy lil site :) Enjoy your dosha menus and if you like these, please please share!

Any other questions I can answer or Ayurvedic information you are dying to know about? Email me! monica@heymonicab.com. XOXOX!

 vata_menu

pitta_menu

kapha_menu

 

Ayurvedic Toddlers

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question_masthead

I was wondering just how early doshas can begin to be known and addressed in children? I have two 2 1/2 year olds with very different but very definite temperaments — are wee ones able to eat following doshic principles that seem to apply to them? Just what is it like to be an Ayurvedic toddler in our world?

Please know that they are already being fed the most nourishing and healthiest foods and are very healthy and thriving. Just thinking about making sure foods aren’t aggravating or causing anxiety, etc. or seeing how to add foods that decrease this, etc. This kind of thing.

Hey hey! This is a grrrreat question. First off, our prakruti (unique doshic combination) is created at conception! So your little ones already have their doshic balance in place now. That’s why they are so different from each other :) Wee ones will thrive when following doshic principles, yes, however they are also in kapha stage of life. Kapha remember is the builder, creator, lubricant, and structure. The little ones are growing at a rapid pace and need support in building a healthy foundation. Mostly with the little ones, they will let you know what they need. For example, have you ever seen a toddler chow down on a stick of butter? Mine did that last week (with ghee of course!) after a series of days where she didn’t eat much, and she finally just wanted fat. “More ghee on my bread please, mama” and then she would lick it off, not eating the bread. Two minutes later, “More gheeeeee please, mamaaa…” and she flapped the soggy bread at me. And to honor her lil bod, I kept piling on the ghee. I figured she needed it because eating-like-a-bird (vata) the previous days were not nourishing enough for her. Suddenly, she needed fat, structure, and lubrication, mamaaaaa. ;) My point is, don’t over think it too much. The little ones are likely to tell you what they need because they are still in their naturally balanced state, so they will likely make the right choices.

I try to really honor what my daughter is craving (she doesn’t eat junk), because she must need something in it. However, we are the guide, the boss, the mentor, the ultimate in their tiny eyes, so there are some things we can do to help them live more Ayurvedically.

Some tips on how parents can help toddlers live Ayurvedically:
• Tots need sleep. A good lot of it, or they will fall to emotional and mental pieces.
• A consistent schedule (that’s no mystery, hey?) where we lead by example including wake up time, meal times, nap time, sleep time.
• Make sure they are pooping every day.
Eat with your tots, don’t let them sit at the table by themselves.
• Tots should eat what you eat, so they can taste everything and feel part of the community (1st chakra! the root). And, it will help you adhere to good choices on your plate too!
• Tots need a variety of healthy food choices (organic when possible) of veggies, fruits, healthy carbs, dairy and meat if you choose. Meat, more or less, is to let them try it. They will eat it if it jibes with them and if not, they’ll turn their nose. Always offer, but don’t force.
• Favor nourishing foods like organic whole milk, ghee, dates, bananas, mushy and easy-to-digest carbs. Favor warm foods.
• Do not mix milk and fruit. Give fruit at least 30 minutes to digest before giving milk.
• Do not mix yogurt and fruit. They don’t need yogurt (please refrain), although if you want them to have some, make a tasty lassi.
• No milk with meals, water instead.
• Oil (almond or coconut are my favs) massage after or before bath. And note: if you do before bath, choose bath toys that can be easily cleaned because the oil sticks to them.
• They need enough fats. If they don’t have enough fats, they can get cranky, constipated, acid reflux/heart burn, and poor sleep.
• Most of all, lead by example. In all you do, what you eat, what you say, how you say it, how you go potty, how you dress for the weather, how to get ready for bed, how to give to others, etc., ALL of it! They are following you because they think you are the coolest thing on the planet – they love you SO much. They are not only digesting their food but in the many ways you are showing them how to live. Powerful mama you are in so many ways! :)

 

Prakruti vs. Vikruti

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Hi Monica. So the different doshas govern the different seasons and those found to be dominant in me govern me in much the same way? But what if one finds himself to be 100% pitta. Would 100% pitta be the balance point for him? If he were hot in summer, then he would be in his natural balanced state and therefore not seek to cool…(?) I guess I am still unclear on ones place of balance. Is it at his dosha combination, to which he must seek to return whenever he strays from it, or at a place that might soothe the extremes of his dosha combination? So to what dosha belongs the trait of not registering anything unless you are convinced you got it one hundred percent… :) Thanks Monica. Ilan.

Ilan, this is such a rad question(s). Definitely worth writing, graphing, and chatting about for all to see! When I was first learning Ayurveda, dosha balance was clear as day! And then as I learned more, my brain quickly turned into a mudball of dosha confusion. Hopefully these little graphs will help. When we are born, our prakruti is our natural balance. It’s pure, it’s us. It’s an individual mixture of doshas unique to each of us. So, prakruti is our unique balance and perfect health. See this sample below. This is a vata-pitta person in equal amounts with a little bit of kapha. This is their prakruti, their born-in doshic balance. Get it? Ok…

 

Prakruti_graph…then we start living. We choose things, do things, eat things, and experiencing things which can change our make up. When we deviate from our prakruti, it’s called vikruti, which basically means imbalance. Per your question specifically, the 100% pitta person in summer will be given even MORE heat from the season…pushing that 100% pitta person OVER 100%. So they need to stay cool, to keep their 100%. Does that make sense?

Per this example, vata season may have increased this person’s vata, which also reduces their pitta and kapha. A myriad of things can increase a dosha. Maybe they ate vata increasing foods, or work too much, have a very busy schedule and are lacking sleep. We pay close attention to seasons particularly because we are influenced and driven by the nature around us, which is why we try to balance the dosha of that season We can’t control the season, but we can control our behavior so we don’t go vata, pitta or kapha crazy. Notice when one goes up, the others go down. 

Vikruti_graph

So the goal is, perfect health right? Perfect health is maintaining your unique balance throughout life! Perfect health is your prakruti – you always want to be, there. The way to maintain balance is to mind the nature that surrounds us (seasons), the food we eat, the company we keep, and the lifestyle we lead. In a nutshell, anyway :) Hope this helps??? Let me know! Also, if you guys want to draw little prakruti and vikruti charts of YOU, take a pic with your smart phone and email them to me. I’ll post them up! :) Fun, hey!? XOXO!

Perfect_Health_graph

Ayurvedic Travel

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question_masthead
I travel a lot for work lately and have had a hard time balancing.  I’m a Vata-Pitta with Kapha imbalances.  I have autoimmune stuff which also means gluten free, dairy free, almond, peanut, egg free living.  I’m vegetarian by preference but eat fish once in a while when I can’t get a sufficient meal or it’s what my mom serves at Christmas. ;) Anyhow, as you probably know from travel, much of what’s good for balancing is not GF/DF/Veg.  Lately though, have had severe bloating/weight gain, cystic acne (along jawline), and constipation.  My diet is mostly vegetables, salads, fruits, nuts, seeds, dried fruits…. what’s a gal to do?!

Hi Kasi!

Thanks for your question and I’m sorry the traveling is taking it’s toll on you! In general, traveling is very vata increasing. Flying, specifically, is vata-increasing because you are high up in the air (vata is made of air and space), you are moving super fast, it’s cold up there, and the air is thin and dry. Hellooooo, all those things are vata! Not to mention, being away from home shakes our ground because it’s not home. Too much time zipping here and there will definitely show you signs of vata imbalance and possibly stress (acne) too.

My biggest tips while traveling are:

• Do full-body warm oil massages daily with long strokes on the long bones and circles around the joints. {Take a small bottle of oil with you, use the coffee pot in the hotel room to get hot water – brew nothing and let the water run through – place the oil bottle in it to warm the oil}
• Or, get oil massages from a professional while you travel! If the hotel has them or if you can find a place they recommend, this is crucial for you. It’s not a luxury, it’s a must.
• If you are open to having ghee, have 1 tsp or 1 tbsp ghee in a small glass of warm water first thing in the morning.
• Travel with prunes, soak 3-4 of them over night and eat in the morning on empty stomach, daily until you are regular. You can drink lots of warm water and tea until you poop (should be 3-4 hours later). Don’t eat anything else until you go.
• No salads or raw vegetables. They can cause constipation and are vata-aggravating. Instead choose steamed veggies when dining out and adding sauce will help keep you satisfied and nourished.
• Fresh fruits, steamed veggies, rice bowls or soups, and warm foods will be best. Almonds are a great snack. Dried fruit can be also, just eat them separately instead of in a trail mix — it’s easier on digestion.
• Drink tons of water, all day. Drink more than you think you need and no ice (vata-aggravating).
• Do a daily brisk walk for 20-30 minutes to get your digestive fire going.
• And if you are not hungry, don’t eat. Skip a meal to give your digestion a chance to catch up.

All that said, really make sure your veggies and fruits are cooked for now. Salads and raw veggies will bloat you like nobody’s business. Make sure you have warm, moist foods like veggie dishes with rice and sauce, soups, baked apples, good fats in meals and herbal teas! Eating this way will satiate you so you eat less. It will also reduce bloating because your foods are easier to digest. Try this and let me know if you start to feel better!!

 

Ritusandhi

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

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

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

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

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

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

ritusandhi

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

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

Ayurvedic Rules

question_masthead

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

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

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

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

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

Dosha Watching

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Hey! If you ever want a fabulous place to analyze doshas (dosha watching!), do it at the airport. The airport has heaps of people from all walks of life all trying to get somewhere in a timely manner. It’s pretty funny. On Saturday morning we were at the Oakland airport about to get out of dodge for a few days and enjoy a toddler-free trip to Portland. {Hello, humidity. My vata loves you.}

Let’s play a game called, “Name that dosha!” Can you tell me which dosha(s) govern the people below?

Scenario A
Everyone is lined up for security and  two tiny-framed girls are in front of us. They were quite whispey and jibber-jabbering about how they were so tired, needed coffee and didn’t sleep well, etc., They were mostly just complaining about…anything, everything. When it came time for the security man to check their I.D.’s he called them up and they both looked at each other – deer in headlights – and stuttered for a moment. They could not decide who would go up first until finally the security guard said, “If you are traveling together, you can both come up here.” And then they scurried their tiny butts to the podium.
What kind of dosha(s) were these girls?

Scenario B
We got thru security and our buckets o’ stuff came popping through the x-ray conveyor. We started grabbing our stuff and one woman came through, pushing ahead to where the buckets are coming through those plastic flaps. She let out a HUGE sigh and said in a grouchy tone, “They need a better process for this.”
What dosha(s) do you think she was?

Scenario C
I get in line for the rental car and notice that the woman in front of me has a several cuts/gashes on the back of her arm and she was bleeding. I got a little woozy looking at it. Blood was running in streams down to her elbow. I tapped her shoulder and said, “Excuse me, are you okay? Do you know you have big cuts on your arm? You are bleeding pretty bad.” She said, “Oh…yeah I know, I fell on the escalator. I’ll deal with it later, I just want to get my car.” {WTFruit!? I mean, we’re talking several deep gashes and rivers of blood. Didn’t seem to phase her.} Then she said, “I probably should have called someone because I dumped my coffee on the escalator, I might have made mess (then took a swig of her coffee), but…oh well.” She was quite chatty and chipper despite her fall and the pain she must have been in and then said, “I’m okay, I’ll be to my daughter’s in an hour and she’s a veterinarian so she’ll fix me up.”
What was her dosha(s)?

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

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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.

 

 

 

 

Kapha’s Vices

kaphas_vices

You ready? Ready for kapha’s vices? If you haven’t read about vata’s vices or pitta’s vices, I recommend doing so. Unless of course, you are a kapha. Then you can skip those and read on because the spotlight is on you, baby. By vices, I mean stuff that you reach for that is opposite of what you need for optimal health. You see, when a dosha is increased (imbalanced), the person will crave the foods and habits that keep increasing that dosha! Meaning, they will crave the completely wrong things. When we analyze our sweet kapha friends they are happy-go-lucky, inviting, generous, the best listeners (and huggers!), able to handle a lot of work with grace, peaceful minded, and a curvy goddess-like physique. Kaphas can also be stubborn and impossible to move, can gain weight easily, have depression (though you probably wouldn’t be able to tell), tend toward emotional eating, and if pushed too far they will hold a grudge.

When I see a kapha person who’s skin looks dull/gray, their normally graceful gait has turned into a slow saunter, and their large sparkling eyes have lost their luster, perhaps hiding behind some extra weight, it tells me a lot. In that case, our gracious beauties, our treasured precious kaphas, have an imbalance. Kaphas are very private and don’t often let their vices or weaknesses show, so observing their habits is not as easy as with a vata or pitta. However, when a kapha looks lifeless, we know there’s a problem.

Please note! Just because someone is overweight does not mean they are a kapha! They might have a kapha imbalance, but are not necessarily kapha by nature.

In my observation, an imbalanced kapha craves: Heavy “comfort” foods, very sugary sweet foods, high salt and high fat foods. They will also watch a lot of TV (or play online games) and spend lots of time alone. They also…collect things.

The kapha vice-rites (vice favorites) all increase heaviness, wetness, and slow them down. Notice the foods have no spices? Imbalanced kaphas will crave meals like mac n’ cheese, pasta with cream sauces, cheesecake, which all increase the damp and heavy qualities. Kaphas are also  self-proclaimed couch potatoes and will watch tv for hours and hours. Because kaphas are so giving, they tend to put themselves dead last which leaves them feeling emotionally depleted. To make up it, they might fill up on the wrong things which includes wrong foods and wrong entertainment. Kaphas love to watch others and live vicariously a little bit, so television and online games allows them a peek inside other fascinating worlds from the comfort of their own couch (they don’t like to move or take risks!). If kaphas spend too much time alone, they will get depressed. They thrive off the energy of others and need buddies to keep them uplifted! If you have a kapha friend (or if it’s you) who’s a bit blue, take them for a walk in nature and they gain back the happy spring in their step. Now, another thing, the kaphas…they also…collect things. They will buy stuff in multiples even if they don’t need it. They can be hoardy! They like to shop and they like to have things, but it’s way better for them to live light. Physical heaviness creates mental, emotional, and spiritual heaviness as well.

Okay! Now that we understand what kapha’s vices are, let’s love up some of their virtues!

In my observation, a balanced kapha craves: Spicy foods, fresh home-cooked meals, an evening or morning walk, the company of others.

When kaphas eat the right foods and are in total balance, they are the hostess with the mostess. They cater and cook for others but it doesn’t drag them down because they also know to take time for themselves. A balanced kapha will crave spices because fire heats the up and gives them gusto! They love it! Their thick hair shines, their skin radiates in perfect dewy fashion, they smile all the time (aaall the time), and move like a graceful swan. By listening, they inspire others to follow their craziest dreams while kaphas watch with admiration and anticipation. They enjoy a simple diet full of fresh foods and despite popular belief, they don’t eat a lot. Balanced kapha realizes they feel lighter with less food, they might even skip dinner or breakfast sometimes, which allows their sluggish digestion to catch up from the last meal. If I saw a curvy gal with apple cheeks, thick wavy hair, big sparkley teeth, eyelashes that go for days, and dressed to perfection, I would know she’s a balanced kapha.

What do you think, kaphas? Does this sound like you? I know you’re shy, but we would love to hear from you :) xoxo!

Pitta’s Vices

 

pittas_vicesOk guys, let’s talk about pitta‘s vices, which stemmed from the previous post on vata’s vices. Remember, when a dosha is increased (imbalanced), the person will crave the foods and habits that keep increasing that dosha! Meaning, they will crave the completely wrong things. Taking a look at pitta, we know pitta people are sharp-minded and sharp-tongued. They are direct, focused, witty with a great sense of humor, hyper-organized, detailed, play by the rules, ask a ton of questions, and are usually found in leadership roles.

So when I see a pitta person with a big burger on their plate, copious glasses of wine or cocktails, pouring extra tabasco sauce on their nachos with jalapenos, and following it all up with a piece of chocolate lava cake (with ice cream), I know they have a pitta imbalance. Why? Because a balanced pitta would not eat that much or crave those things. By the way, that there pitta would be running for the heartburn medicines to calm that craziness down! ;)

In my observation, an imbalanced pitta craves: very sugary sweet desserts and chocolate, spicy foods, red meat, alcohol, and they tend to eat large portions of food.

The vice-rites (vice favorites) all increase heat, with the exception of the sweets. Pittas are already hotsie-totsie due to their fire nature, so having heated foods and drink will make the fire stronger. Hello heartburn, high blood pressure, loose poop, and that sparky lil temper! Pittas have a naturally strong agni (digestive fire) and when it increases above their natural state (called tikshna agni) they will want more food than they really need. So they have strong hunger, but weak digestion and this causes weight gain. Pittas tend to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and appreciate any release from stress they can find, which is part of the reason they turn to alcohol or food to relax. Sweets are cooling* which is normally good for pitta, but eating highly processed sweets and chocolates will give them a sugar high. Then they’ll crash and be upset they are unproductive. See? I know people sometimes :)

Now that we understand what pitta’s vices are, let’s end on a positive note and highlight some of their virtues.

In my observation, a balanced pitta craves: lots of fruit, veggies, healthy carbs, lots of water, and pure proteins like lentils, organic meats, and red meat only on occasion

When pittas eat the right foods and are truly balanced, they are chronically witty (these are the people that make you spit milk out your nose) and make the best out of being focused and present. They don’t let worries or stress shake their consistent stride toward their goals. They make inspiring leaders with a loyal following. If I saw a smiling, glowing, fire-goddess eating a hearty rice bowl with protein, vegetables and aromatic mild spices, with a cooling mint tea, I would think she’s pretty close to her natural pitta self. And she might even enjoy a piece of dark chocolate for dessert.

Okay pittas, do any of these vices sound familiar? If so, yay! Because now you have the knowledge and root cause behind your behavior and you can fix it. If you have other vices, do share with us! We’re in this together, one big healing hug at a time. X!

*Pittas tend to have a sweet tooth because the sweet taste is cooling. Sticking to fruits with natural sugars is best, but a piece of dark, slightly bitter chocolate is okay too as a treat and would be enough to satisfy them.

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!

New Year’s Wish List

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To many of us, a new year feels like a clean slate as a time to live life a bit better than we had done in the past year. Ooo, in reading that, did your heart lift a little? Perhaps your spine straightened and you’re sitting a little taller? If so, then I’ve struck the right chord. Now, raise your hands if you’ve ever set new year’s resolutions. 1, 2, 3, ok lots of you. Now keep your hands up if you’ve ever failed on your new year’s resolutions. 1, 2, 3, still lots of you. The thing about resolutions is, we feel like a failure if we don’t follow through.

Last year I gave some handy doshalutions, which includes some easy and helpful ideas on creating resolutions based on your dosha(s). But instead of resolutions (or doshalutions) this year, I decided to do something different. I decided to set my eyes on 2013’s prizes and created a wish list instead. Soooo twinkley! And I know that by visualizing it, I can achieve it. I really do. When I set my sights on something, it’s only a matter of time before I get it (sounds cocky, but it’s not. It’s faith). It’s kinda like I can rely on the sky being blue, if even underneath the clouds. I know I will see blue sky if not today, then sometime soon. I just know it. If you have that outlook on your wishes and intentions, they will unfold before your eyes. The coolest part is that you won’t necessarily know how you got there, you will suddenly look around and all the pieces just fit together to result in what you pictured. Don’t worry about the puzzle pieces, see the picture. Got me?

Anyway, as fate would have it, this year my husband and I each bought each other inspirational journals for Christmas presents. It’s our space to doodle, write out visualizations, set intentions, and form in our minds what we see in 2013! To celebrate our synchronicity and kick things off, we did a little exercise yesterday to envision what 2013 could be, if we set our minds free and let our imagination soar, without constraint or judgement. I normally do this by myself annually but it was fun to also do it together. We talked about jobs, our home, travel, and even subtle things like having more happy scents! Ha! Something so small can really shape our world, right? Off to get those fumey sticks in the little jar…

If you are inclined to ditch resolutions this year (I won’t tell or judge), then maybe this will resonate better. Visualize. Imagine. Create. And write it all down. Have you ever written down your new year’s intentions/wish list before? How did it feel to write it all out? And, did your wishes manifest? Do share your stories with us–what better time of year to inspire and ignite each other! XO!

This is just part 1. Part 2 will include several ideas to create your new year’s wish list. :)

 

Ayurveda, Where Do I Start?

“Ayurveda, where do I start?!” Last week I got a question from Holly, a new reader, who just discovered Ayurveda. Her question? She has no idea where to start! Such an awesome question I thought I should answer so everyone else could reap the benefits too. That’s what it’s all about!

So let’s get to it.

1. You must first know who you are (for the most part) by taking the dosha test. Take the test according to who you are naturally, not necessarily as the person you are today! Over time we collect habits, traumas and life experiences that might alter our original doshic balance. Once we understand where we started, we can figure out if/how we are imbalanced today. Make sense? Don’t panic if you are a blend of two. However, if you measure even in all three doshas, take it again because being tri-doshic is super rare!

2. Once you find out your dosha(s), read the Seasonal Blooms so you can find out more in depth about who you are naturally.
Vata Seasonal Bloom
Pitta Seasonal Bloom
Kapha Seasonal Bloom

3. Pick good foods to eat. Sounds like what everybody says, all the time, but it’s just so important because our bodies are made of what we put in them! If you put junk food in them, you will feel and look like junk. Eat fruits and veggies (organic as often as possible!), healthy grains and fats. If you eat meat, make sure the animal lived a happy life (we consume and therefore become any negative emotions in that animal including fear, anxiety, depression, anger, distrust, etc.,). And that’s kind of it! No magic potion, just common sense. Eat good food.

4. Pick 1-3 things to change and start to live according to the daily routine. Stick with these changes for 2 weeks-1 month and then add 1-2 more changes. If you try to change too many things at once, you will fail. Start slowly and add one by one.

Honestly, if you do these three things, you will be SO far ahead. Awareness of who you are is huge! Add to that, knowing what to eat is huger! And hugest is following the rules of nature because we are a small piece of all encompassing nature! :)

Helpful?

Like Clockwork

 

Lately, I’ve been thinking a LOT about time. Because I don’t have much. Note: Pittas always think about time. They are never late. They will do drive-bys to make sure they are not late. Don’t fault them, it’s just their nature.

Admittedly, I was spoiled in Los Angeles since my work was 1.4 miles from home (5 minutes there, 20 minutes back. Don’t ask, it’s LA traffic). I knew how good I had it, so I never took it for granted and was able to squeeze every last drop of time out of my morning including a work out, dog walk, journal writing, short meditation and a shower before leaving the house. And I got to the office at 8:00 a.m. Although I’m holding it together and have managed to keep some of my Ayurvedic habits in the San Francisco bay area, a lot has changed and even a shower is hard to come by *le stink.*

It takes me 1 hour in one direction to get to downtown San Francisco (car + BART train) from home, so that’s 2 hours a day that I’ve lost. Ok, I won’t be dramatic. I’ll be accurate and say I’ve lost 1 hour 35 minutes per day, since my commute was previously 25 minutes round trip. So, 1 hour 35 minutes x 5 days is…a lot of time. Math…anyway, that is family time, workout time, and HeyMonicaB posting time. Aiiee…strapped.

Since I am 1/2 pitta, I feel I must be efficient at all times and I started thinking how I could best utilize my time on BART. It came to me that it could be the perfect time to sit and write a blog post – or at least ideas and inspirations for posts! Bingo! But, there are some variables like grabbing the train that goes directly to my stop without having to transfer. Also, I don’t always get a seat. If I miss my first train, I will have to stand because the second train will have more people on it. If it’s a Tuesday or Thursday, those tend to be more busy and I might not get a seat on the first train either. *sigh*

So you can see, how I run like clockwork and a misstep can change the whole day causing me to run into traffic, miss a train, forget my lunch, or milk for my one cup of coffee ;) Right now, I am very much a human doing rather than a human BE-ing. There is no “be.” No be! Ya feel me? I know you do. I know you might have a similar (or worse) schedule than mine so what to do we do? Where do we find time and where can we just, be? What do you do? Since my derailment, I’ve adhered to changes 1-3, but I haven’t yet figured out what feels best with my blank time on BART…and it bugs me.

Look at that. Just by writing, I might have answered my own question. What if, instead of trying to squish in blog posts on the train…I just, be. Maybe that’s my “be” space. I don’t know what will work best, but I’ll keep you posted. And if I’m not posting, maybe it’s because I’m BE-ing. Love you!

Derailed

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Mind, Body and Spirits

Alright, you guys. I’m going to tell you something, but only because I think you can handle it.  And I would rather you hear it from me, than hear it from one of your friends who doesn’t have the correct information. I will tell you on one condition and that is,  you have to promise not to abuse it. If I give you an inch, don’t take a mile. Don’t get all willy nilly excited and tell thousands of your friends, “MonicaB said *hiccup* I could!”

Do you promise? Pinkie swear? Ok then, here we go. In today’s Ayurvedic lesson, we need to talk about, alcohol. Mind, body and spirits!

In Ayurveda, there is something called draksha. Draksha is medicated wine used for a variety of remedies including blood, liver, skin, and digestion problems to name a few. As we know, alcohol is absorbed very quickly into the blood stream. So, doesn’t it make wonderful sense that Ayurveda would put herbs into the wine, which are then carried directly to the blood and dispersed where the herbs are most needed? How smart is that! The wine serves as a vehicle to carry (called anupana) the herbs where they get administered quickly into the body and can then begin to work at correcting the imbalance.

Now, I’m not going to tell you how to make medicated wines and I’m not even going to advise them for you because like anything else, this in Ayurveda, this will depend on the person you are and the problem you have. But I bring this up because like all food and drink, it can be nectar or it can be poison depending on who’s taking it. Like everything else in the big, giant universe, alcohol too is made of just 5 things (you know them: space, air, fire, water, earth) and depending on who you are, it will have different effects on you.

Overall alcohol is something to be avoided in a vedic and yogic lifestyle because it clouds the mind and judgements, it can put us on an emotional rollercoaster, and increase digestive fire too much therefore giving us a false sense of hunger (college 15, anyone?). It also is very dehydrating, causing constipation or diarrhea, can cause poor sleep or interrupted sleep, heartburn, and severe anger or irritability (pittas). But here’s what. Many many people enjoy alcoholic beverages, so I might as well give you some guidelines about consuming it. Cause yer gonna do it anyway. I know you.

WINE: Wine can be used for increasing digestive fire! Yay! Best news you’ve heard all day? So, kapha types especially in spring, will benefit from a glass of dry red or white wine before a meal to strengthen agni (digestive fire) or after a meal to enhance digestion. But any dosha could benefit from this as well. We will likely crave full-bodied red wines in the fall and winter when vata could use some heaviness and heat. Cool, crispy white wines we can enjoy when it’s hot, which increases fire too but without over heating us.

BEER: A cool beer in summer or when its warm outside is beneficial for increasing agni without overheating us because it has low alcohol content and lots of water in it. Notice I said “A cool beer” not, “A six pack of beer.”

THE HARD STUFF: I would just advise against booze altogether. I mean, life is to be celebrated and it won’t hurt you once in a great while but, overall vatas can’t handle it, pittas get angry, and kaphas will get over-hungry and dull minded. Definitely avoid hard alcohol in summer because it’s the most concentrated and most heating. You’re sure to get heartburn if you have that margarita on the rocks with salt, when it’s hot out.

Um, any questions?!