“Most people work hard and spend their health trying to achieve wealth. Then they retire and spend their wealth trying to get back their health.”
Your body is designed to preserve its own health. It is constantly replenishing its cells. Every second, several million red blood cells are removed and replaced from your circulatory system. Every five days your stomach lining is renewed. Every thirty days, you have a brand new protective skin. Every ninety days, your body turns over all the molecules that make up your bones.
Why do we not get well?
If one has clogged blood vessels or intermittent headaches, it won’t necessarily be obvious to see how acrylamides in crisps, casein in pasteurised and homogenised dairy, free radicals in cheap vegetable oils, sugar, aspartame, and the multitude of other disease-causing compounds found in our diet are injuring our cells internally.
With the abundance and endless varieties of foods available from our supermarkets why is it impossible to feel nourished by what we buy?
It is simple …. nature is not in command. Often our foods are sweetened, emulsified, stabilized, salted, irrigated, bleached, blanched, polished, degermed, sprayed, anti-spoiled… By the time some of the food reaches our tables it is loaded with more chemicals than a chemist shop. Additionally, it is hard to observe the damage that stress-related compounds released because of anger or anxiety does to our organs. What happens to our energy stores when we act against our own values or respond out of fear? Where does our “moral compass” come into play when preventing illness or getting well.
We all know about good food choices, good lifestyle choices, exercise, sunlight, positivity and stress-coping techniques, – but it can be hard to remain focused and motivated when you can’t see the effects of our choices in real-time. I am always so surprised when people expect immediate relief in conditions that have taken years to manifest. Most alternative therapies require some form of self-responsibility.
What Then Does It Take To Stay Healthy? Everyone in today’s World who wants to be healthy, has a personal responsibility to learn as much as possible about health.
We have a huge amount of information available to us, which can be very confusing and overwhelming. Ayurveda teaches us to take personal responsibility by experiencing ie you need to participate in Ayurveda to understand it. In Ayurveda food and actions are the keys to healing. We hear a lot about food but not so much about actions (and how energetically they can affect us).
Ayurveda can’t prevent someone from aging or death. But it can strengthen body and mind to make the journey of life more enjoyable. The Ayurveda perspective is to get away from the idea of quick fixes that is so firmly entrenched in our culture. Most healing takes time and commitment. We need to heal not only the body, but mind and spirit. Both Yoga and Ayurveda aim in gradual and natural deep internal changes. Not forced or superficial. Below are some tips that I hope you find useful.
Recipe of the month.
I very much enjoy the fresh chutneys to add digestive power, but also taste to foods such as Risottos or other rice or meat dishes, that need a little zing. In Ayurveda Beetroot are best for Vata constitutions because they are sweet in taste, warm, moist and add mass.
However, for Pitta types a small amount of juice can be therapeutic for liver conditions. The medicinal properties of Beetroot utilized in Ayurveda are for uterine disorders, constipation and hemorrhoids. As beetroot are economical and still in season, this is an easy and appropriate recipe to try.
Blend one large boiled and skinned beetroot with 1 tsp each of toasted cumin seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorns.
Sauté 1 small red onion 2 cloves of garlic and 2 green chilies.
Add 1 tsp salt, 30 grams fresh coriander, 1 tblsp Tamarind sauce, a tomato (skinned) and the juice of one lemon.
Combine and serve fresh – Delicious ….. a bit hot & spicy for the Pitta digestion but good for stimulating Kapha & warming Vata
Featured Product – Bramhi Vati
When do I think of Bramhi Vati – anytime we have that feeling of brain fog, or just lack of mental clarity. Good to use before exams or when highly stressed and “can’t think straight.”
Bramhi Vati – A traditional Ayurveda formulated product containing Bramhi, Ashwagangha and shankapusphi herbs. Click here to buy now.
Newsletter – November/December 2016
Living according to the season – the summer months
How I love summer. The sun is out, the days are longer, we can spend more time outside, and most of us feel generally happier and healthier.
In Ayurveda we see it as a time when the fire element is increased, there is more warmth, lightness and dryness. These are qualities that increase Pitta and can also increase Vata.
If we are of dominant Pitta constitution it is even more important to adjust your routine to cater for the change in weather. Pitta can build up in the digestive system, liver, eyes, skin, and heart at this time of year. This can result in conditions such as diarrhea, inflamed and red skin, sensitive eyes, hypertension, anger and frustration.
Here are some Ayurveda suggestions for your summer routine
- A light massage with room temperature coconut oil* (or Pitta reducing oil) nourish the skin and clear any heat. Wash this off with cool water.
- Your diet in the summer should consist of sweet, bitter, astringent flavors and be light and easy to digest.
- In the summer it is best to avoid all dark meats such as beef, lamb and pork as well as citrus fruits, tomato, garlic, onion, salt and sour dairy products as these all increase pitta.
- Coffee and alcohol should be avoided (or at less limited)
- Utilise the cooling herbs – cumin, coriander, fennel, peppermint leaves and mint as digestive herbs (pitta digest) – link
- When you are thirsty try drinking cool herbal teas of peppermint, licorice, fennel and rose. Limes are also very cooling.
- Before you go to bed, especially if it has been a hot day, rub the soles of your feet with *Bramhi oil to bring all the heat down to your feet
- Spray your face with *organic rose water “during the day or before going to bed– very cooling Suggested Yoga Practise to reduce Pita
- Start your yoga practice with some cooling and calming Sheetali pranayama- this is an especially calming and soothing practice where you roll your tongue into a tube and then draw the air in through this tube and out through your nostrils. You can just feel the cool air chilling you out!
- Pitta can accumulate in the digestive system, especially the liver and small intestine. Do some abdominal stretches and abdominal twists for helping to clear pitta from your belly. Try Trikonasna (triangle series), Bhujangasana (cobra), Matsyendrasana (twist), Ushtrasana (camel).
- It is important to not do too many inverted poses (esp headstand) as these bring heat up to your head if you are already a bit of a pitta prone person or are suffering from hypertension.
- After yoga anoint yourself with some sandalwood or rose oil. Place a drop on your third eye, throat and navel to keep these centers cool and calm.
Lets talk about Asparagus
I love Asparagus and have been munching my way through, many stalks, as the season is short lived in NZ Asparagus, in Ayurveda is one of the few vegetables that can be eaten by all doshas with no aggravation. Sweet, astringent and bitter, cool light and moist, it is ideal for Pitta. It stabilises Vata, being easy to digest, and lightens Kapha. Medically it can be used as a slight laxative, nerve sedative, general tonic and demulcent.
That aside it tastes delicious just steamed with a dash of ghee, some grated fresh ginger, black pepper and Himalayan salt to taste. In writing this newsletter I came across this recipe – It is a take on the kitchari recipe given last month utilizing Asparagus as the main vegetable. Have a look – it’s healing and delicious.
I have made two huge batches of this stew in the past 3 months and am not tired of it at all. Enjoy something new!
- 1 teaspoon ghee (I substituted olive oil)
- 1/8 teaspoon saffron
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek seeds
- 1/2 cup finely chopped leeks (wash carefully – white parts only)View recipe – click here
Featured Herb – Amalaki (also known as Amia)
How I love this herb…Being Pitta in nature I have first hand felt the benefit of Amalaki. It is very beneficial for the heart of the body and also the emotional heart promoting longitivtiy. It is the best single herb for controlling Pitta being a front line anti-inflammatory herb. The fruit is very high in Vitamin C and hence a powerful anti oxidant. It is used to treat hemorrhoids, gout, gastritis, colitis, liver or spleen disorders, premature greying, hair loss, and palpitation. Can be bought in caps or powder and is the key ingredient in last months featured product Chyavanprash
Rose the cooling flower
Roses are coming into full bloom…here are a couple of recipes that you can utilize to make the most of the petals… It would be appropriate to mention that 1,400,000 hand picked petals are required to produce 1 liter of rose oil (that equates to 67 blossoms to give one drop). We need to remember these statistics and savor and appreciate each drop of oil as a gift of healing.
Rose Water Toner
You will need:
- 1 cup organic rose petals,
- 2 cups boiling filtered water
- and 1 spray bottle
Place the rose petals in a pot or metal bowl. Cover the petals with boiling water and soak for around 1 hour.
Strain and pour the rose water into a spray bottle. Store in the fridge. Rose water is slightly astringent, cooling and great for sensitive skin.
Ayurveda does not separate Mind and body. We see good health as not just a absence of disease but the ability to be the best that we can possibly be. Emotions have an effect on our health and you will see in the following graphic, emotions traditionally associated with particular organs. Sometimes eating right and exercising is not enough we have to look at our ability to feel and greet our emotions – both good and bad. Carl Jung said “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the dark more conscious. “By facing our emotions we can explore them and develop more resilience This is where mindfulness and meditation have a role – reflection and self-study all play their part in healing.
I like this saying… Often we work in a man’s world, trying to keep up with our male counterparts, forgetting that physiologically and psychologically we are very different species. Recently I went to a gathering at Lulu Lemon where I was invited to speak on Shakti – this is the female energy in the womb of every female – a women’s Shakti has the power to give life, create, nourish and nurture.
It made me think how as women we have really reduced our female power to the shadows.
What women need to entrust is their internal rhythms. There are certain times where we are more vulnerable, such as change of season, menarche and menopause, and during our moon cycle….. where our immune system can wan.
Hence we cannot always bring our “A” game – sometimes we need to retreat, slow down and reassess our priorities. Often I see women working hard out at the gym and opting for vigorous yoga practices when they are on their cycle. The old adage of taking time to rest and to care for themselves during their menses does not seem to occur.
Menstruation is an opportunity, not only for cleansing but also for rejuvenation. In Ayurveda your period can be understood as the body’s attempt to cleanse itself. Not jut the lining of your uterus but also all the toxins that have built up in your body. Menstrual difficulties are related to the amount of ama (toxins) in your system. Menstrual irregularities can be assisted by keeping the system clear and eating clean appropriate food for your body type.
If in any way or menstrual cycle is problematic you may find the following interesting…
Vata When out of balance the menstrual cycle can become irregular, or it can be unusually long. Blood flow may be light and the colour of the blood is often dark. Maybe be accompanied by feelings of anxiety, nervous tension and insomnia. Cramping, lower back pain, joint pain is also common. There may also be abdominal discomfort, bloating or constipation.
Pitta For women with a Pitta imbalance, there may be food cravings and increase appetite plus feelings of irritability and anger. Often the skin erupts and headaches, diarrhea, and hot flushes occur. Blood flow tends to be heavy and the colour of the blood is usually bright red.
Kapha With Kapha imbalance, the cycle is regular and is often accompanied by bloating and weight gain. Breasts can be swollen and tender. There is often a feeling of heaviness, achiness and stiffness in the joints and the back. Lethargy, oversleeping depression are common. Blood flow can be heavy and there may be clotting and excessive discharge.
Yoga Practice – Yoga practice Bottom line if your body gives signals that it wants to rest, listen, make adjustments, and modify your exercise and yoga regime. Gentle stretches may help, but in general not a strong yoga practice.
It is also recommended not to do abdominal exercises or inversions (like headstand or handstand) as these poses disrupt the normal flow and can result in more painful and heavy menstruation.
Shatavari – My favorite female herb
- Nourishing tonic for men and women
- Maintains a healthy female reproductive system
- Supports healthy lactation
- Promotes fertility and a healthy libido
Shatavari (Asparagus racemous) is a rejuvenative herb that strengthens and nourished the tissues. It is translated as “100 husbands” implying its role in promoting fertility and vitality used traditionally in maintaining healthy production of female hormones. It is one of those herbs that can be useful from menarche to menopause, supporting the reproductive organs and a healthy immune system. Is available in capsule or powder form.
Neti Pot – Once you have tried it you will be hooked. The first sign of a cold flush out your sinuses. The Neti pot is a powerful nasal irrigation system that alleviates congestion and sniffles, provides allergy relief, and clears the sinuses resulting in a clearer breath and interestingly a clearer mind. Saline solutions to unclog sinuses have been used for a while but the neti pot is more effective than saline nasal sprays.
To use fill the neti pot up with lukewarm pure water and add ¼ tsp of Himalayan salt. Tilt your head about a 45 – degree angle. Place the spout into your top nostril and tilt the pot so that the saline solution pours out the other nostril Switch and blow out in-between sides.
Detox Healthy Green Soup – warm, healthy and nourishing…. and delicious
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 zucchini, sliced
- 1 small kumera
- 1– 1 ½ tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 2 cups of, chopped greens, such as kale, spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, packed.
- 4 cups of vegetable broth
- ½ c. loosely packed cilantro
- Heat a large stock pot over medium- low heat until hot and add the zucchini, sliced kumera, garlic and spices
- Add the greens gradually, you will have to add them 1 handful at a time, stirring and letting them cook down to add more. (Add spinach last as it takes the least amount of time to cook down)
- Add the cilantro and cover, bringing to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer while covered and cook for about 20 minutes until greens are completely soft.
- Blend until smooth Adjust the seasonings if necessary, and return to simmer, 15 more minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon and then serve! Remove from the heat.
Bali Ayurveda and Yoga Retreat – July 2016
We are almost fully booked. This leaves one house – the Padi house – which seems really cute! Have a look click here to view.
This could sleep up to 4 people comfortably but is maybe best suited for a couple, Mother and daughter or close friends. There are a range of age groups, as well as beginners and more experienced yogis so everyone will be catered for. If you are interested in coming please contact me – Click here. It will be amazing!