Warm Saffron Cocktail

If you are a vata or pitta type, you might have a tendency to get stressed (who doesn’t, right?) and perhaps worries of the future can creep in to cause some anxiety. When a client of mine was feeling anxious, ungrounded, wound up, and stressed, I told her to “wrap herself in a fuzzy blanket” with this little cocktail below.

Any time you feel like you have nothing to hold on to or that you are about to come unhitched, give it a try. This tiny drink is also great if you have a feeling of “emptiness” in your heart. It soothes both vata/pitta doshas and the ingredients are sattvic, which means that they are pure harmony for your entire being. And, it’s quite yummy!!

Small glass of warm milk
Add one strand of saffron
Can sweeten with brown or rock sugar if desired

Saffron is pricey. If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, you can get a wee tiny (I mean wee tiny, it’s super small. You may have to ask for it) for about $6. But don’t be sad, it will last you a good while. Hopefully by the time the jar is finished, you won’t need to make them any more :)

Bit Of Wisdom {25}

Remember, WE control how we feel. Always. If you don’t like how you feel, YOU can change it in an instant. Light a candle, give a hug, say a prayer, be grateful for 10 things, do so hum, burn incense, give a smile, rub your feet or temples. And most of all, train yourself to think positive. Always. xo.

MonicaB’s Thyroid Challenge!

Yay! I’m on a quest to cure my own thyroid! Before you get all excited and want to share with your loved ones, let me do it on myself first to see if it works.

Here’s what’s goin on. I’ve had hypothyroidism since I was about 15 (well, that’s when they caught it). I am 34 now, so I’ve been on thyroid meds for…math…19 years. The bad thing is that if I stay on these meds too long, there is a chance that my thyroid will get lazier and lazier and eventually stop working. It works like any ole’ machine and if you don’t use it, it will rust and forget how to work. Same same with our bodies.

So! I’ve decided to do something about this. When I was in India this past Jan/Feb, I had a yoga class every day. And he gave us some poses to help cure thyroid. The yogi said that if you do these poses every day for one month, you will not have any more thyroid problems. I was also told in India that driving to the next town would take 3 hours when it really took 6, so I was a bit leery of his promise.

However! I’m going to try it. Essentially the thyroid needs to be trained on how to work again so slowly with these poses the thyroid (chugga chugga) can get functioning to it’s full capacity again. The two poses below, shoulder stand and fish pose, compress and expand the thyroid gland. In a sense, it’s doing a bit of massaging to the area. Through this, it should stimulate proper functioning! it’s a slow process, but here is my plan.

• Every day I need to do shoulder stand (saravangasana) holding for about 5 minutes and can do up to 10. More details on shoulder stand

• And every day I need to do fish pose (matyasana) and hold for 3-5 breaths, repeating 3-5 times. More details on fish pose

• After doing these poses DAILY for 30 days, my doctor-doctor (Western MD who is open to eastern healing) will reduce my levothyroxin dosage by .25 micrograms. Hopefully this will leave a little wiggle room for the thyroid to begin working – it suddenly has a job to do again!!

• Then I’ll get my blood checked and see if hormone levels are normal with the lower dosage. If so, it works!! And I will continue to do so until I’m off meds.

So that’s the plan, Stan. Again, I don’t suggest that anyone try this. If I do it and it works, I’ll let you know. Then you need to get an MD on board to help you. I’ll keep you posted on my crusade to heal America through my own experiments! After all, the rule is that you have to heal yourself before you can heal others. Cross my heart. xo.

Bit of Wisdom {24}

Carry your yoga practice off the mat and into life! No matter the situation, stay at peace and go with the flow. Practice navigating your little boat steadily while waves of life change around you. Happy Friday. Namaste. xo

4th Dosha Uncovered!!

Heehee. A wee bit of nerdy Ayurvedic humor for ya. There are only three doshas – you should know them! Have a great day!

MonicaB’s Lassi Recipe

Yeah! I’ve got my coworker hooked on lassi. She discovered it because she had the flu a couple weeks ago and we helped repair her digestion with lassi. Like magic!

Lassi is a yogurt drink made especially to enhance digestion. Please note that while made from yogurt, lassi is not yogurt. In fact, they have completely opposite qualities. Yogurt as we know, is a channel clogger. I know you might not believe me, you might even be mad at me for saying that, but according to Ayurveda it’s the truth. The marketing people at yogurt companies might sell us stories about probiotics and acidopholopohous or whatever it is, but I stand by my belief that yogurt clogs.

If you have any problems with allergies, slow metabolism, cloudy mind, lethargy, tendency toward being cold, sinus problems and/or chest congestion, try stopping the yogurt. Just try it for a week and see how you feel. You can always go back to yogurt if you want but my guess is that you will feel better. Ok, I digress.

BUT! We’re not talking about yogurt, we are talking about lassi (I wish I could put a pink tutu on that word because I love it so much. hmm…idea for a graphic! Love it when that happens)!! Beautiful, channel opening lassi!! Lassi is made from yogurt, but it’s properties are changed by adding water, herbs and spices and then churning it. Churning adds heat which changes the yogurt from cold, gloppy, goo-glue into a fluid substance that is channel opening and great for aiding digestion. It’s easy to accumulate ama with yogurt, but lassi doesn’t clog so you stay ama free. It’s also great for indigestion and hyper acidity as it’s cooling. Great for pitta types who like yogurt – yogurt imbalances and lassi balances (like a ballerina!).

A very magic secret about lassi is that it’s THEE  cure for hemorhoids! Have one after dinner or for a snack daily and your hemorhoids will go away. Not kidding.

I think you will find that lassi’s are quite delish and there are many recipes for them (just google). Below is my recipe that I use (pitta-vata type). Sometimes I even skip dinner and just have a lassi because it makes a nice light meal to aid digesting food from the day.

Monica B’s Lassi Recipe
1 part plain, full fat yogurt – 1/3 cup is good to start
2 (vata, pitta) or 3 (kapha) parts water
ginger powder, cardamom, honey, all to taste
Use a whisk or hand blender and CHURN!! For about 2 minutes. It will get liquidy and a little frothy. Pour into a cup and you can sprinkle extra cardamom on the top if you want. MM!

Tip: Safflower oil great for skin

Hey!! Safflower is a GREAT oil to use in place of body lotion (a la chemicals) for spring and summer. It’s natural, lightweight, non-heating and makes skin sooooo smooth. I LOVE it! Also apply at night around the eyes to reduce crows feet. xo!

Tip: Honey is heating

Hello Honey! ;) Honey might seem sweet, sticky, and heavy. But! It has a special quality (kinda magical) in which it digests hot, sharp, and drying. Great for heating up spring colds and clearing out kapha. That’s why honey is great for colds, mucus in the chest or snotty sinus problems. Oh and use the raw, unpasteurized stuff so that you get honey in it’s purest, most medicinal form. Go get em, honey. Mmmwaah!

Kapha Graces us with Spring

Ok folks, vata has left the building and it’s time to make way for the graceful entry of kapha season, spring! March 21st officially marks the start of spring when nature starts to wake up and become alive again. If we live in a climate with harsh winter we might feel REALLY refreshed when the snow melts and we see tulips or crocus poking out of the ground. Our first glimpse of grass might feel like heaven (I used to live in Wisconsin and I know their winter pain :). Rain nourishes all that was sleeping all winter. And after the rain is the sweet reward of buds on trees, flower beds, and the fresh smell of cut grass. And if you notice…peoples’ moods start to improve. Right!? Don’t forget that the weather makes a huge difference on us because weather (nature) governs our beings.

Kapha is the energy of lubrication and structure which nourishes our bodies just as it does in nature. Contrary to vata energy that is dry, light, cold, mobile and rough, the nature of kapha is wet, heavy, cold, static and smooth. It is a heavy energy responsible for creation and renewal. Unfortunately kapha season also brings spring colds, allergies, asthma, to certain people. If these things affect you, that’s a good clue that you have some kapha in you. The heavy, wet, sticky energy of kapha will grab onto particles in the air and “hold” them, which might cause excess mucus in the chest or nasal passages.

Here are some tips to stay healthy and balanced in spring, especially if you are a kapha person. If you’re not sure, take the dosha quiz!

Like increases like. To stay balanced in spring, we want to incorporate all things opposite of the wet, heavy, cold, static and smooth qualities of kapha. Eating foods that are dry, light, warm/spicy, liquid and fiberous will help kapha move so that it doesn’t get stuck in places! Ginger is great

Lighten up. Since kapha energy is heavy, this is a great time for lightening our load. Choose lighter foods, incorporate daily exercise (to keep bodies light), or donate clothes we no longer wear. Keeping light is key for kapha.

Clean it out. It’s not weird at all that we feel AWESOME when we’ve done some spring cleaning. It’s because nature wants us to! And that’s not just for the house either. Consider doing a spring cleanse for your bod as it will remove toxins due to sluggish winter digestion. Fasting is a form of cleansing and kapha types should fast by skipping dinner one night a week. Their metabolism tends to be sluggish and fasting will help their digestion catch up!

Neti Pot. The neti pot is the magic cure for all kapha allergies and sinus problems. I swear it works and have had numerous clients sing it’s praises. If you are snotted up or have pollen floating around in there, rinse it out! ;)

Light and Small Food. Because kapha is naturally heavy, it easily gets weighed down. Having small meals will be key. Really pay attention to your hunger so as no to overeat. Overeating is the quickest way to imbalance kapha.

No Yogurt. Yogurt has identical qualities to kapha and it’s a channel clogger which can make allergies, colds, asthma much worse.

Aromatherapy. Bergamot, citrus, lavender, basil.

So the basic rules are, if you are a kapha-type person stay light, dry, and warm. And keep moving! Enjoy the graceful, peaceful and refreshing entry into spring!!

Health Freedom Expo, Long Beach

Hey, folks in the LA area!

There is a cool Health Freedom Expo in Long Beach coming up on March 26th & 27th. Unfortunately I will be out of town that weekend but if you are interested in going, I have been given access to free tickets. NOW who’s your favorite Ayurvedic chick!? Just kidding. These tickets were generously given to us by the fabulous folks from The Business Muse. Thank you thank you Business Muse!!!

East vs. West

East vs. west. I try and spread the good word on Ayurveda authentically, yet as American-friendly as possible. It’s funny though because people will come to me and say, “I’m congested! What should I do?” And I might say, “Are you eating yogurt? It’s a no-good channel clogger which can increase sinus congestion and mucus goo in your chest. ” They might say, “But yogurt is so GOOD for you with all the probiotics and everything…” And then I say, “Well, that’s what ‘they’ say but they are not Ayurvedic and Ayurveda is different.”

Then very quickly they get confused as to why something in Ayurveda can completely contradict what we have been told or sold (don’t forget about marketing, you guys! It makes companies a lot of money…) in the western world. But that’s just the point. If someone is asking Ayurvedic advice, it’s going to differ that what their MD has told them or from what they see on tv…because it’s different!! Ayurveda takes time and definitely requires a willingness to try something new. If our old habits (and prescriptions) had worked, we wouldn’t be on the search to try something else.

So my dear friends, if you seek something different, expect something different. The philosophies of Ayurveda vs. Western (east vs. west) medicine are very different and therefore so are the treatments. I’m not saying one is good or bad because both have their place. But please keep them in different buckets because they don’t overlap much. Below I’ve created a little chart on how they differ and I hope this helps.

And for the record! Ghee is NOT butter. Buttermilk (churned yogurt or lassi) is NOT yogurt. Their properties differ making them almost opposites and in Ayurveda the first is healthier than the latter (for most folks). Please o’ please just believe me. xoxoxo.

Bit of Wisdom {23}

Choosing the path of self-healing (no matter what form) is choosing the path of self-LOVE! Once you start to truly love yourself, you will heal. Cross my heart.

The Flu Caught Me

Rats. After escaping India with out ONE digestion problem and despite knowing general tips on how to avoid the flu, I got it this weekend. The Flu. I got it at 3:30 am on Saturday and thought it was food poisoning, but then came the aches and a slight fever. I’ve never had food poisoning but was pretty sure it didn’t come with aches and fever. Then I found out that two coworkers had it too. Double rats.

In Ayurveda we say that when the body is trying to rid something either thru-est thine butt or thru-est thine mouth (IF ya know what I mean) we have to let it take its course. Here’s why. If we stop something like diarrhea, the body can’t get rid the problem, so it’s never good to take a diarrhea stopper. However! If there is a point where the diarrhea turns to water, then we have to stop it because then the person is just losing fluids. Make sense?

Allow me to be gross for a minute (if I haven’t already). I assumed the same was true for throwing up. And I got to the point where it was SO painful and there was nothing left but water and bile, so I knew I had to stop it. <<gross part done!>>

SO! Here is what I did! I managed to slooowly creep downstairs to make myself a lassi. You know it? Lassi is a digestive buttermilk (hang on, I’ll explain) drink made with spices depending on the person. Lassi opens all the channels, aids digestion, coats the stomach, calms pitta (bile!) and vata, and for some reason my intuition told me to make one. Here’s how I made it:

1/3 c plain full fat yogurt
1/2 tsp ginger (helps all digestive problems)
1/4 cardamom (calms vata & pitta)
brown sugar to taste

Combine in a bowl and then churn for 2 minutes! You can either use a whisk or put it in a blender. Or if you have one of those wooden mallot things that you can spin (I found mine in India), you can use that. This will add the heat element to the yogurt and water and make it frothy. The heat element is what changes the properties in the yogurt. Yogurt by itself is a channel blocker, but lassi is a channel opener!!

The resuls?! I didn’t throw up any more! It was instantly cooling, soothing and my cramps stopped. My stomach felt a million times better. That said, the rest of me still felt like garbage but at least the trips to the bathroom had stopped. After that I just tried to sleep and I took one ibuprofen (yes I did! I am human and I was in pain!) to stop the aches. When I’m more advanced in my studies maybe I’ll come up with something that stops aches, but for now I’ll just be happy that lassi works!! The good news is that this nasty lil flu only lasts 24 hours, so if you get it rest, rest, rest. Be well my friends.

Sit n’ Eat

Hey hey! A while back I was counseling a dear coworker of mine who was a bride-to-be. Like many brides she wanted to trim up through diet and exercise, so one of the things I suggested she do is STOP walking around with food in her hand. It’s true right?! Whether at work, a social gathering, or even while cooking our own dinner (I’m guilty!), we might mindlessly snitch foods, walk around and yap.

The problem is, this totally disconnects us from the process of digestion. Digestion starts in the mouth and when we don’t pay attention to it, we a) don’t enjoy what we are eating and b) don’t remember that we ate. If we don’t enjoy our food, we won’t feel satisfied nor will food digest properly because the mouth (first stage of digestion!) relies on taste for digestion. On top of that if we don’t remember what we ate we are VERY likely to overeat.

The best thing we can do is keep our mind in our food. Cause dude remember, mind rules our body and when our mind is not connected to our actions, it’s almost like it didn’t happen! Crazy. The downfall is that calories DO happen whether you remember them or not ;)

So here’s my MonicaB Challenge: For the month of March avoid eating while standing up or walking around. Yeah? Can you do it?

The goal is to feel REAL hunger and practice mindful eating rather than just mindless snackin’!


Bit of Wisdom {22}

Anything can become poison, anything can become nectar. It depends on how much you take and where your mind is when you take it. – from one of MonicaB’s fabulous Ayurveda books but she forgot the author…

Jet Lagging

If you’re a jet-setter you might also be a jet-lagger. Yeah? You know, like when you get home from your flight and it’s hard to get back into routine? You might have a headache, lethargy, feel extra sleepy or cloudy in the mind. And it might be hard to wake up and stick to your normal routine. You know, jet-lag! Jet-lag happens because we are traveling SO fast up in the air and space (vata!) where it’s cold (vata!). And we’re crossing time zones (vata!), ungrounded (vata!), and dehydrated (vata!) from the puny 1.5 oz glasses of water the airlines provide.  All these things added up will increase one of the doshas. Can you guess which one? I’m not seeing any hands…ok give up?! It’s vata! Vata, the energy of movement made up of the elements air and space severely increases when we fly. And as we know like increases like according to Ayurveda, so with all that movement, cold, dryness and change, vata goes through the roof.

I got back from India a little over a week ago and prepared myself for the crazy long flights back and forth. I didn’t feel any effect of jet-lag going there. And except for one day of feeling wiped, I really didn’t feel that jet-lagged when I came back either. The secret is to pacify vata before and during your travel day(s) by warming and grounding the body. Here are a few simple things you can do:

Thing 1. The night before your flight, fill ears with warm sesame oil. This will not only help avoid jet-lag, but if you have any ear problems (popping or pressure) while flying, this will significantly reduce if not completely stop those affects as well. One of the places where vata lives is in the ears so we want to protect that space, ground it, and keep it warm. Lay on your left side and fill the right ear with warm oil – fill it but don’t spill it (wah wah wah). Lay there for 10-20 minutes. Then cover with a towel because oil might drizzle out. Switch sides and repeat. After this you can sleep.

Thing 2. Oil massage before your shower the next morning. Take that same warm sesame oil and give yourself a full body massage with all strokes toward the heart and clockwise around the joints. If that’s too much, then just do your feet. Let it sit for 10 minutes and shower off. This lubricates and warms the entire body through the skin, which is another place where vata lives. I like to think of it as a resistance shield to all things chilly.

Thing 3. Have warm ginger tea in the morning. Ginger is heating, so a nice cup of ginger tea will keep the insides warm. Feel free to take some with you and ask for several puny glasses of warm water on the plane.

Thing 4. You can take ghee in a glass of warm water (optional). Ghee is very lubricating and will help coat the insides of our body with oil. It sort of covers up and fills in delicate holes and spots where vata could get trapped. It’s sort of like an inner resistance shield to all things chilly, dry, and spacey. If you can stomach it (it’s really not that bad, it’s like drinking butter) melt 1 tblsp in a glass of warm water and chug. Chase it with a little more warm water.

Thing 5. Drink warm water on the plane. Cold water is counterintuitive to balancing vata, so ask for warm water. Or, let the puny glass of water sit for a spell because it won’t take that long to reach room temp.

Thing 5. Do So Hum on the plane to calm any anxiety.

With over 24 hours of flying and 3 stop-overs on my way to India, I did all of the above and didn’t have any problem with jet-lag. On the way home we had 5 flights (five! I did not plan the trip. Did I mention, five!?!) and only on the very last one did my ears start to crackle. Usually on only two flights my ears are a clogged disaster. So! Don’t be afraid to take some well sealed oil with you on the plane or in your luggage for when you land. It will be your best friend! You can use and repeat these things on the way home too. Enjoy your travels and stay healthy. It’s more fun to be a jet-setter than a jet-lagger!!

Tip: Eucalyptus for Sinuses

Hey! For sinus problems and congestion, put a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a paper towel and sniiiffff! You can also put the drops on the floor of your shower in the morning for instant steam therapy.

Jai Ho!

(I wrote this around Feb. 1st, but the computer I was on was super slow. Posting it now that I am back :)

Friends! I’ve returned from an amazing, AH-MAZE-ing trip. I wanted to share a very special part of it with you. Last week we went to the Asha Jyothi Handicapped Wellfare Society which is an orphanage for handicapped children (you can donate!!). These kids stay at the orphanage for their entire childhood where they are given food, shelter, toys, beds and schooling. I have to admit that I was kinda nervous before we got there thinking that I might have a major meltdown once I saw children without homes. What I experienced was quite the opposite.

We got there at about 1:00pm and we were told that the children had been anxiously waiting for us since 9:00 (your typical “India time” – nothing is on time here. Ever.). When we walked up, they had trays of flower petals that they threw on us in celebration of our arrival (our arrival? incredibly humbling). Once we got in the room and sat down, one child per person came in and gave us a flower. The MAJOR HIGHLIGHT (of my entire trip) was an explosive Bollywood dance by the children to, “Jai Ho!” from the movie Slumdog Millionare. A-mazing. We cried. To my surprise, I didn’t cry because I felt sorry for them. I cried because I was so humbled by their generosity, beauty, joy, and talents. They made this dance for US. Sooo humbling.

I captured it on video – take a peek! It’s about 4 min long and worth every second.

Jai Ho Video!!

Prior to arriving I thought for sure I would be emotionally drained, but I never expected to feel as good and FULL as I did. A truly delightful treat of life. The children were warm, kind, unspoiled, considerate, loving, super fun, and most of all grateful. Most of all, they loved what they HAD rather than moping about what they didn’t have. Maybe we can learn something from them by adopting some of their vigor and positivity. Imagine what the world would be like if we all took this attitude with the challenges we face? Our jobs, families, communities, and world would be totally different.

I went to the orphanage expecting to hand out books, clothes, etc., that would help enhance their lives. Turns out they gave way more to me. Thanks for everything kids, Jai Ho! xoxo

my favorite little guy

The girls! the girl in the red dress looooved to get her photo taken. What a doll, hey?!

Donata and I joined in their dance. I’m in the way back on the left in purple. SO fun!


In India

Hey! I’m in India (well, not yet but I am en route. well, not really but tomorrow I will be!). I am going with a group of Ayurvedic students and will be led by Dr. Shekhar who is the Founder of Ojas Wellness Center in Allentown, PA. I’ll be there until mid-February.

First we are going to a place outside of Chennai to work at a medical camp for 6 days. One of Dr. Shekhar’s life goals is to treat 100,000 people for free in his lifetime :) After that we fly down to Kerala where we get in-depth and hands on training for panchakarma (the fancy cleanses).

I don’t think there will be wifi for the first part of the trip, so I probably won’t be blogging until I get to Kerala. Even then, I will be focused on my studies and soaking in my surroundings so I may not blog as much. But I PROMISE to keep a detailed journal and learn lots of great things to bring back and share with you. That’s the main reason why I’m going afterall, so I can bring this back to YOU!

THANK YOU my dear readers for having interest in Ayurveda. It all starts with a little interest, which spreads and creates more interest…and before you know it there is a little community! Together we can grow Ayurveda into something more mainstream and accessible for all people. That is MY dream! I take that intention to bed with me now cause it’s certainly past 10 ;) Namasté friends and be well. xoxoxox!

Tip: StudyTime

Hey Students (and learnees of all kinds)! Studying in the early morning for one hour is equivalent to studying in the evening for 3 hours. Why? Because the mind is empty in the morning and it’s ready to absorb information! In the evening after a full day, we may have difficulty concentrating because of the day’s events racing through our minds. It might feel like our minds are already full, and that’s because they are! Studying in the morning also gives us the opportunity to review the information throughout the day. And in repetition, there is learning. Yeeha!

So avoid the pitta trap of staying up past 10:00pm and studying late. Your clock will be backwards. At about 10:00pm pitta comes in and cleans house of all thoughts, emotions and food from the day (while we sleep), so that we can wake up empty. Therefore your hard work from the night before just left the building. When the mind is fresh we will spend less time studying and get more out of it. Three cheers for studytime!!