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. 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.
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.
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.
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’!
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…
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.
(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.
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
The girls! the girl in the red dress looooved to get her photo taken. What a doll, hey?!
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!
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!!
Hey! Do you have anybody in your life that drives you crazy? I mean, CArrraaazy? Rather than thinking bad thoughts and getting frustrated, try blessing them. Are you looking at me funny?
Here’s a little story. When I was freelancing as a designer a couple years ago, one of my my managers was consistently rude and quick tempered with me. She was always kinda rude to everyone, but this was the “last straw” and I got very angry with her. She kept pickin’ on me! Anyway, I had Ayurveda class that weekend and I said my classmate Rose, “My manager is SO rude and unprofessional and I can’t stand working for her. I need to find something else.” Rose said, “Bless her.” “WHA!?” She cupped my face with her hands and said, “Just bless her.” Ugghhh, are you kidding me!? I have to bless her!? She’s the one being crummy and I have to bless her? I didn’t say anything else. But I decided to try it, figuring it couldn’t hurt.
Monday I sat at my computer with lingering feelings of anger from the Friday before, I clenched my eyes, gritted my teeth and thought, “I bless you, I just bless you, I friggin bless you…” and after doing that a couple times, it actually began to feel genuine. I blessed her for working too hard and for being lonely and seemingly sad. I blessed her because I know that she is not mean-spirited, she’s just lost. I sent good wishes her way in hopes that things would lighten up for her. I also blessed myself and went through a gratitude list.
HERE’s where the magic comes in!! Within 20 minutes she called and asked me to come into her office. Now get this, SHE APOLOGIZED about being short with me on Friday! Unreal!
I share this story with you so the next time you have someone driving you batty and you think you can’t handle any more, send them a blessing. Bless the crud out of them and be sincere. Find a place in your heart where you can shift from frustration to love. It’s not easy, but it’s also not as hard as it sounds.
When your energy shifts, you shift the energy of the world around you. Health comes from the inside out, not the outside in. We cannot control other people, but we can control ourselves. It’s within our power to choose the path of love and forgiveness rather than anger and frustration. Next time you’re at your wits end, send a blessing. I bet things will change for you. xo
YAY! I love The Joyful Belly! They have great Ayurvedic recipes and you can create an entire menu just for YOU! All their recipes break out according to your constitution (vata, pitta, kapha), so their meal plans are totally individual. Just like Ayurveda! AND it’s free to sign up. How ’bout them apples!?
Their recipe of the month is Cinnamon Oatmeal with Almonds & Milk. MM! Oatmeal is perfect to balance the vata energy of winter. It’s warm, grounding, heavy and sweet. It’s also sattvic which helps fight droopy winter feelings of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Remember to enjoy a small breakfast* because we want to stoke our agni (digestive fire) for the day. If we put too much food on agni, it will get put out. And if we ignore our hunger, agni will get smaller because it has nothing to burn.
Enjoy the oatmeal and be sure to check The Joyful Belly often for new recipes. They are great folks there and will also answer any questions you may have. Happy Oateys!
*If you at a large dinner and you are not hungry in the morning, don’t eat. You may not have digested dinner from the night before! Let your body catch up and drink ginger tea instead.
Happy New Year! And Happy NEW Decade! So, have you come up with a resolution yet? I always go back and forth on whether or not I like resolutions. I feel like we should be mindful of our health every day all year long, so why only focus only at the beginning of each year? Then again we have to start somewhere, right? We are constantly evolving and if the resolution is simple enough to adopt as a life-long habit, then I say do it!
As we know Ayurveda has an individualized focus, recognizing each one of us as a special combination of space, air, fire, water, and earth. However, there are some basic rules that apply to everyone too. In my lectures and in my healing practice, it is usually the most simple things that I tell people to hold on to.
Below I have listed my top 10, most helpful and most easy changes. Choose ONE (just one, only one, no matter how badly you want to do three) and try it for a week or a month. See how you feel. The reason why I say choose one is because often my clients want to change five or six different things and they end up failing because they can’t stick to them. Pick ONE and do it well. If you get ONE down pat and it becomes a habit, add another. This is how we slowly make changes and adopt new healthy habits. Perfect health does not come overnight (nor does ill-health, fyi!), but if we work at it slowly, we will make HUGE strides. I promise!
And if you try one, let me know how it goes. I would love to hear your success stories. Go get em!! Rah!
Monica’s Top 10 for 2010
1. Do not resist your urges | Resisting urges reverses our natural flow. Don’t hold your pee, a sneeze or your hurt feelings. Let it out!
2. Eat a light dinner | Lose weight, wake up energized, reduce toxins, think clearer
3. Bed by 10:00pm | Don’t wait for your 2nd wind, it’s against nature’s clock
4. Write a gratitude list once a day
5. Omit ice water | hampers digestion, counterintuitive for good circulation, shocks the body
6. Wait to feel real hunger before eating | Sip herbal or ginger tea if you are not sure
7. Stoke your agni! | malfunctioning agni is responsible for 90% of all disease
8. Walk 20-30 minutes a day | Without fail, just put on your shoes and do it
9. So Hum meditation for 5 minutes a day
10. Do Kapalbhati 5-10 minutes in the morning before breakfast | good for weight loss, energizing start to your day, mental clarity, spirit clarity, creativity, and it’s a cardio work out!
DUDE! I’m on my fourth week of jury duty and its taking its toll on me. It is absolutely emotionally draining. Despite eating proper foods and following nature’s clock, my tongue is coated white in the back. I’ve had two migraines since Thursday and my eyes feel like they are being pulled back into my head when I look around. I feel an overall sense of heaviness, cloudiness, and I don’t want to do a darn thing. There is also constant pressure on the sides of my head.
My friends, this is a perfect example of how I have collected some emotional ama. Ayurveda says that our mind governs our bodies. Even when we eat the right things, if our minds are full of worry or stress we will not be able to digest our food properly. Our mind is the control center and when it says, “Hey, stop! We have emotional issues!,” our agni (digestive fire) will obey and slow down. And remember, without a strong agni (digestive fire), ama rears its ugly head.
In a nutshell, when we’re all wigged out we can’t digest food because our body/mind has changed focus. It’s no longer concerned about food, instead it’s concerned about our crumbling emotional/mental state. The best example I can think of is, going through a rough break-up. We might feel a little sick and it might be hard to feel like eating. That is the signal from the mind that the body cannot tolerate food.
Ok, show of hands: Who loses their appetite when they are emotionally stressed? Who overeats when emotionally stressed? It can go either way. We might stop eating because we don’t have an appetite (our body’s way of telling us don’t eat). Or, we may overeat in seek of comfort and grounding. Bottom line, let’s listen to what our bodies are saying. If we are not hungry, don’t eat. The sign of healthy digestion is hunger. Waiting for true hunger is a KEY factor in staying healthy.
So what to do in times of emotional stress?
• Eat light and easy to digest foods like soups
• Limit sugars, caffeine and alcohol – these may seem like a help at the time, but they are only a hinder
• Get energies out through exercise or a good sweat
• Breathe! Big and slow, from the lower belly.
• Meditation. Either so hum or alternate nostril breathing
• MOST of all, release your emotions! Do not resist your urges to speak your mind! If you release the junk in your mind, it will stay in there and pollute your entire being.
I had a major release today during deliberation with tons of tears and a candid spewing of my viewpoints. I cried for another 30 minutes while others handed me kleenex and continued discussion. I still feel heavy in my head, but at least I spoke my mind. I don’t know how long this will weigh on my mind, but I am continuing meditation and hoping I can let it all go soon. xo!
Health is not something we achieve, rather it’s to be maintained mindfully and consistently. If choosing a health-focused resolution for 2010, make sure it’s simple enough to stick to for the long haul :)
Cool story. Two Christmases ago, I was a brand new Ayurvedic student and reading my studies on the plane ride to Milwaukee. My friendly neighbor inquired and I told him all about Ayurveda. He was really intrigued and I wish I’d known more at the time because I would have been able to help him with some of his problems. But! To my great surprise, he found me on LinkedIn the other day and asked if I remembered him. How cool! He also mentioned that he’s having trouble sleeping. Not so cool. But at least I can help him now!
And hey, anyone else have sleeping problemos? There can be a number of reasons for insomnia in Ayurveda but mainly there are two types:
a) Not being able to fall asleep. A pitta problem largely because of stress and too much thinking/strategy
b) Waking up in the middle of the night. A vata problem largely because of anxiety and racing mind
I have some ideas to help keep your sleep on track!
LIFESTYLE TIPS | Overall management
• Check the clock. If we go to bed after 10:30/11, the energy of pitta can keep us awake. Pitta’s job is to transform (thoughts, emotions, food) information from the day. If we stay awake into pitta time, we often get a “second wind” and feel like cleaning the garage. This means that we’ve stayed up too long. Thoughts, emotions, and ideas from the day flood our minds and it’s tough to make it stop. Pitta will do its job whether we are awake or sleeping, so best to zonk out before then.
• Stick to the daily routine. Definitely review the daily routine and times of the doshas. Your day ends with sleep so if everything else is in line, your sleep will fall in line as well.
• Don’t eat too much too late. Not good for many reasons, but heart burn or indigestion is uncomfortable and can keep us awake.
• Practice daily pranayama. Do So Hum or Nadi Shodhanam daily! You don’t have to do this for crazy amounts of time. Start with 5 min. It’s so easy and SO effective! Great for calming the nerves (vata) and the mind (pitta).
• No caffeine after Noon. Limiting caffeine in general is best, but if you have coffee, keep it to the morning hours only.
• Exercise regularly. A 30 minute (minimum) walk daily is perfect for exercise. Or yoga! Or any activity that makes you sweat a little and gives you energy afterwards.
IN A PINCH | If you find yourself tossing and turning
• Drink a small amount of warm milk. Bonus to add a sprinkle of cardamom. Warm milk will soothe pitta and vata. Good for heart burn too!
• Massage your adhipati marma. Ugh, Adhi-what? The adhipati marma is an energy point (marma) on the top of our head – it’s the soft spot on babies. Find it by placing four fingers across the forehead. Take your other hand and stack another four fingers on top of those. The point is “8 fingers” away from the eyebrows, on top of the head. Massage clockwise with the middle finger 1-5 minutes.
• Massage your kirkatika marma. Easier this time. It’s the point where your neck meets your spine at the back of the head. There is like a hole there – sort of an indentation. Massage clockwise with middle finger 1-5 minutes.
• Lay on your right side and so hum. On the inhale, “soooooo,” and exhale, “hummmmm.” Say this to yourself.
Happy Sleepings my friends. Enjoy your new ZZZZZZZZs.
For cold hands and feet, apply sesame oil before heading out into the cold. The oil has a “warming” action on the body and will keep blood circulating to those tiny fingies and toes. Cold-pressed Sesame oil – not toasted – in your grocery store! Stay warm!
As we already know, Ayurveda is not based on quick fixes. Sure there are herbs to assist the healing process, but long term changes have everything to do with diet and lifestyle management. To some of us, that may sound like a lot of work, but if we take it in small doses it’s totally doable.
They key is to embrace the small changes. Ayurveda is extremely logical. The most difficult part is teaching our minds to make those small changes. Often, we figure if it’s not a monumental change (grapefruit cayenne pepper cleanse or 1 hour in the gym a day) that it won’t make a difference. That’s a total misconception. If we pay attention to even just one thing and stick with it, we will notice improvements. It’s the consistency that is key.
Surprisingly I find it the biggest challenge to counsel clients on the simple things. I wonder if they think it’s so simple that it can’t possibly work? For example, I always stress the importance of a pranayama and meditation. Rarely do folks incorporate that change. I mean after all, we’re just sitting there or breathing there. It’s not like any major changes will happen unless we do something drastic, right? Wrong-o.
Some of the most dynamic progress is made by the smallest changes! Let’s learn to embrace the subtleties of life (I also need a lesson in this!). Ayurveda does not take away our pleasures. Although if we “treat” ourselves to a couple glasses of wine or ice cream on a daily basis, we will notice problems. Wine and ice cream are not foods, they are “treats” and we should use them as such (jumping off the soapbox). My point is that we can keep the foods we like, but reduce the amount. We will be satisfied with less and not have to give up our favorite foods.
I challenge you to pick one of the items below and do them for a week. They are not drastic or painful. Just give ONE a try. I don’t want you to do them all because that is setting you up to fail. Do one, do it consistently and see how you feel.
Slowly we make the changes. We are not in a rush, we have our whole lives to practice.
• Make lunch the largest meal of the day
• Do So Hum meditation before bed for 10 minutes (lay on your right side)
• Eat a small breakfast (vata & pitta = one serving oatmeal, kapha= toast with cinnamon & a little ghee)
• Go to bed by 10pm
• Take a brisk walk every day for 30 minutes
• Wake up 15 min before sunrise (ok that might be a little painful for some)
I got a great question about how much Ayurveda uses aromatherapy. Thanks for the question!!
So, our nose is responsible for conducting one of the 5 senses, smell. In Ayurveda, we use the 5 senses as the sole vehicles for healing. Specifically, the nostrils consist of two channels (ida and pingala) which send messages directly to the brain. When we inhale deeply and exhale deep and long, it tells the mind that it can relax. Along similar lines, we can deliver messages to the brain through specific smells. Gingerbread, apple cider with cinnamon, burning fireplace wood, might tell our mind that it’s winter or holiday time. The sense of smell is the sense that connects directly to our brain and therefore smell is the closest sense to memory! (that was not Ayurvedic, just a fun fact)
In Ayurveda, we often incorporate aromatherapy into our massages, facial cleansers and oils, candles, diffusers, etc.,! It’s NICE to smell something good, but more than it being nice, it’s also an important method of healing because of the direct link to the brain. Aromatherapy is used in Ayurveda for calming and grounding vata, cooling and soothing pitta, and invigorating and lifting kapha.
You can use aromatherapy in your shower by just dropping a few drops on the floor of the shower. You can also mix them with oils to suit your dosha (sesame for vata, almond for pitta, sunflower for kapha) and apply to the skin as an overall massage, or simply on your temples and behind your ears. You can also steam a pot of water on the stove and drop a few drops in the water to permeate the room! mm!! Or, just carry them with you to work when you need an energetic or stress reducing break, and sniff away!
Below are some scents that balance each dosha
VATAS NEED: grounding, calm, peace of mind because of anxiety, worry, scattered mind, or depression. With a tendency to bite off more than they can chew, they often have feelings of being overworked.
SCENTS FOR VATA: Lavender, Orange Blossom, Geranium, Bergamot, Chamomile, Camphor, Patchouli,
PITTAS NEED: stress relief, surrender, release in keeping control, soothing, cooling for their quick temper. Diligent, timely and organized workers, pittas often feel angry that others don’t do the same. And they think it’s unfair. And they get mad.
SCENTS FOR PITTA: Geranium, Sandalwood, Rose, Lemongrass, Ylang Ylang, Lavender
KAPHAS NEED: invigoration, energy, movement, mental clarity, a sense of lightness. Kaphas tend to fall into a “rut” and it’s often hard to get out.
SCENTS FOR KAPHA: Eucalyptus, Camphor, Black Pepper, Citrus; Grapefruit & Lemon, Neroli, Ylang Ylang, Ginger