Motivational Monday!

Happy Monday readers!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend. I had a good one, the highlight being a women’s reproductive health intensive with the incredible Dr. Sarita Shrestha. She was the first female Ayurvedic physician in her native Nepal and is one of the most brilliant, intuitive and beautiful people I have ever met. I’ll tell you, a weekend of being with her and I am feeling oh so excited to start having some babies! Ok, not quite yet but reproductive and post-partum health is definitely my passion.

Here are some awesome goodies from the web:

These agua frescas from A Beautiful Mess look super delicious and perfect for summer, especially that cantaloupe and thyme recipe!

Charlie Glickman wrote a lovely piece on thanking your partner. I am definitely trying to remember to do this more often as everyone wants to feel appreciated and loved, right?

The brilliant Katie over at Chocolate Covered Katie created these homemade (and healthier) chocolate crunch bars and oh wow, do they look amazing!

DIY Natural posted a simple recipe for homemade windshield washing fluid, which is awesome since store-bought fluids are highly toxic and gross.

And I will leave you with a beautiful quote from Chickasaw author Linda Hogan:

“Walking, I am listening to a deeper way.

Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me.

Be still, they say. Watch and listen.

You are the result of the love of thousands.”

[magical illustration from Cribas]

Radiant Practice #3: Get Great Sleep!

This practice comes from a lesson learned just a few weeks ago. I had been out at a fascinating workshop for school on Theta healing (which I hope to learn more about and give you an update later) and got home pretty late. By the time I got back, it was at least 10:30 (which, on a school or work night is pretty darn late to us!) and my husband was waiting for the clothes to be finished in the dryer. Since we hadn’t seen each other all day, we wanted to catch up and chat. Once it was finally time to go to bed, I remembered that we needed to change the sheets.

Full disclosure: I kinda have a thing about changing the sheets. Although we only switch them once a week, if a week and a day passes and those same ol’ dirty things are still on the bed, I go into freakout mode.

Of course, midnight isn’t the best time to put my foot down about this kind of thing, but I cannot be logical when it comes to our sleeping quarters. On top of it all, we don’t ever stay up that late anymore (save the strange occasional night where I go all out, stay up until the wee hours of the morning and then promise myself to never do it again). We don’t function when we are sleep deprived. And so the seemingly small task of changing the sheets turned into a silly and overdrawn argument. My partner and I hardly ever fight, so even a stupid little spat like this one threw me for a loop. I had a hard time falling asleep and woke up cranky, exhausted and feeling bad about the way the midnight sheet change went down.


So folks, the moral of the story is: GET GREAT SLEEP! Forget good sleep, get amazing, incredible, mind-blowing and life-changing slumber. Out of all the things you can do for your body, it is truly is one of the most important.

Ayurveda has three pillars of health. The second pillar (food comes first, of course) is nidra, or sleep. Sleep plays a crucial role in processing and assimilating not only physical substances (such as food, drink, medicines, etc.) but emotional and mental stuff as well (thoughts, feelings, memories, trauma, and so on.) When we sleep, our bodies are able to devote all of their attention to regeneration and repair, allowing us to wake up feeling better and stronger than when our heads hit the pillow the night before.
The problem is, you need A LOT of sleep. In Ayurveda we say that “there is no antidote for not enough sleep”. You can’t take a pill or do some exercise to make up for only getting five hours and honestly, if you aren’t giving your body the time to rebuild itself, all the spirulina in the world can’t save you.


So how much sleep is enough sleep? It depends but Ayurvedically, vata people need the most sleep, pittas need a moderate amount and kapha folks need the least. Of course, this doesn’t take into consideration what kind of imbalance a person might be going through, the season, the cycle of their life, etc. It is safe to say that eight hours of sleep a night is a great target for everyone. An Ayurvedic sleep schedule would be a bedtime of no later than 10pm and waking up at least at 6am. If you can’t get to sleep by ten, please please please get to bed before midnight! Multiple studies have been done proving that the actual quality of sleep after midnight is significantly lower than sleep before then. One of the most beneficial practices you can get into the hang out is picking a bedtime and sticking with it. Ayurveda is all about consistency, so establishing a routine for when and how you will be resting will pacify vata (which almost everyone had too much of these days) and allow your body to recharge its batteries.

[adorable lino-cut print from Katie Muth]

Radiant Practice #1: Daily Heart Time

Hello there dear friends! Hope your week has been lovely. Things have been good around here and this time, the cleanse seems to be flying by (which I think is a good sign, since the first 21-day detox I did a few years ago seemed to last forever!)

I wanted to introduce you to a new series round here called “radiant practices”. I am delving further into ritual, routine and lifestyle in both my studies as well as my personal life and thought I would start sharing some practices with you that can make you feel more radiant inside and out!

Radiant Practice #1: Daily Heart Time

We are all so busy with our lives, there doesn’t ever seem to be enough time to get it all done. I know that the first thing that usually suffers is our own time for growth, rest and relaxation. Throughout my very busy last few years, I have realized just how important it is to make that time a priority. Everyday. No excuses, no procrastinations, just scheduling it in as if it were a super important meeting.

So why is this kind of time so important? We spend so much of our day doing other people’s work. Giving our energy to others, working for someone else, listening to the problems of our friends or partners, etc. And while being of service is important, we can’t do our best out in the world (let alone sustain that energy in the long-term) if we don’t put ourselves first sometimes.

Especially since we are all so busy and stressed, it is essential to do something that makes your heart happy. Of course, this will look different for everyone. Someone might use this time to go on an aggressive bike ride while another might use it to nap with their kitty. The point is, find something that truly makes your heart happy and go for it! It doesn’t have to be a huge deal, but make sure you are consistent and schedule it in pen, not pencil!

Personally, this cleanse has heightened my intuition big time. It has been a really amazing experience, just being able to hear the voices and guidance from myself even more than usual and I am trying to make the most of that. Last night, I had a powerful sense of urgency surge through me and I knew what I needed to make my heart-happy practice: read A Course in Miracles. It has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time and although I have been wanting to read it, now I know the time has come. So until I am done, my heart-happy practice will be 30 minutes of reading ACIM everyday. It doesn’t matter if I am stressed, busy or burnt out. Giving myself the time to do something spiritually fulfilling refuels my inner self and allows me to be more present and productive out in the world.

So I ask you, dear readers: what will your heart-happy practice be?

[medicine image from The Wastetime Post]

What I Ate Wednesday – Love Your Veggies #2

Hello readers!

Although I only did one other WIAW post this month, I wanted to get in some more veggie time in my daily eating pics so here goes:

I started my day off with my favorite breakfast: oatmeal with cacao, maca, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla and coconut butter! I even added some carrot to up my veggie intake.

For lunch I had some good ol’ curried miso soup, made with chickpeas, carrots, broccoli and spices. Yum!

For a snack, I had some apple with a homemade chocolate-cinnamon almond butter creation that was AMAZING. Recipe coming soon 🙂

Ok, uhh yeah. This was supposed to be a picture of some incredible vegan mole tofu tacos with greens and radishes from Papalote but you know what? I was so hungry and they were so tasty so this is all that was left.

And what date night would be complete without some sweets? After dinner, we walked off gorging ourselves took a lovely walk around the Mission and got cozy at a cafe with some almond milk chai and a chocolate chip peanut butter cookie 🙂

And that’s all folks! I gotta run and finish making some sugar-free cupcakes before my husband gets home. Take care!

Ayurveda 101: The Three Doshas

Ayurveda revolves around your “dosha“. Literally meaning “something that is out of whack,” your dosha is the unique constitutional body type that you were born with. Having said that, your dosha influences much more than just your outer appearance. It influences your physical, physiological, psycological and spiritual health.

To understand doshas, we must first understand the five elements. One of the basic tenets of Ayurveda is the belief that “everything which exists in the external universe has its counterpart in a living being’s own personal internal universe.” [1] Each action in our lives corresponds to an action within ourselves. A popular example is to compare the cooking of your food on the fire of the stovetop to the cooking of your food on your internal digestive “fire” in your stomach. This idea of interconnectedness can be explained by understanding the Five Great Elements. These elements are:

  • Earth: the solid state of matter
  • Water: the liquid state of matter
  • Fire: the power that can convert a solid state of matter to a liquid or a gas (or vice versa)
  • Air: the gaseous state of matter
  • Ether: the space in which everything is created and everything returns

These five elements combine to create the three doshas. It is important to understand that these doshas are forces in your being, not specific substances themselves. For example, Kapha is not mucus; it is the force that creates mucus. Each of these forces controls not only certain substances, but organs, body systems, seasons and life stages as well. No wonder doshas are so important!

In future posts we will get into the characteristics + qualities of the doshas in more detail but for now, let’s talk dosha basics:

VATA: Made from air + ether, vata is in charge of your kinetic energy, body movement and nervous system. Since vata is like the wind, the main quality of vata is dryness.

KAPHA: Composed of water + earth, kapha lubricates the body and is in charge of potential energy and body stability. Just like the solid soil we live on, the main quality of kapha is heaviness.

PITTA: Created from air + water, pitta balances the kinetic energy of vata with the potential energy of kapha. It controls digestion and both the enzymatic + endocrine systems. Akin to fire, the main quality of pitta is heat.

Your Ayurvedic constitution was determined at your conception, based on a variety of factors involving your parents and their physical, mental and emotional states. Your constitution at birth is called your prakriti. It is your true nature, what you have been (and always will be) and remains a vital part of who you are throughout your life. It is when we stray from our prakriti (through imbalances in our diet, health choices, etc.) that we become unwell. Therefore, the main objective of Ayurvedic medicine is to restore you to your true nature.

Pretty cool, huh?

Well, that’s all for this edition folks. Next time we will talk more in depth about the doshas and how they influence our health.

 

[1] Svoboda, Robert. Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution.

[image found here]

Ayurveda 101: What is Ayurveda?

Hey friends!

A few followers of my old blog have emailed me recently asking me if I could re-post my series I did last year on the basics of Ayurveda. Unfortunately, that computer has journeyed to the land of electronic ghosts and I don’t have access to those articles anymore 😦

What I can do, however, is start the Ayurvedic adventure from scratch! Please bear with me as I try to remember everything we discussed and if you have any other questions, please comment below or send me a little message over at absolutelyayurveda (at) gmail (dot) com.

To begin this series, I thought it would be best to start from the often asked question “what in the world is Ayurveda?” Surely the concept of an ancient system of health that is both all-encompassing and extremely individualized can be daunting. But have no fear, “Ayurveda 101” will help explain what this incredible health modality is all about!

The term “Ayurveda” is Sanskrit and it means “the science of life,” or “the knowledge of living,” or “the art of longevity.” Ayurveda originated in India around 5,000 years ago, although it spread to the Middle East many centuries ago and influenced (and was influenced by) other forms of medicine, including Islamic medicine (often called “Unani”) and Indigenous Medicine of the Middle East.

The main concepts in Ayurveda are:

  • We each are a unique combination of elements, which results in our constitutional type (our “dosha”)
  • Each part of ourselves relates to a larger part of the universe
  • The definition of true health is a complete balance of body, mind and spirit
  • The body, mind and spirit are always interconnected. A symptom in any one may be the result of a deeper problem in another.
  • Prevention is always emphasized over cure
  • Ayurveda is a way of life, not a short-term solution or a superficial means to attack a symptom

Throughout this series, we will address these concepts in detail to better understand Ayurveda. This beautiful system of medicine is all-natural, holistic and healthy and is a great way to re-connect with your inner and outer self!

[photo found here, from the film Ayurveda: The Art of Being]

mindful media: healers on healing

hello readers!

here is the first video book review. huzzah! i will post the links i talk about in the video below:

links…

cultural appropriation:

native appropriations

hipster appropriations

the pure cure: cold cough + sore throat

well, here i was wondering what topic i should write about first on this blog and lo and behold, i got hit with a cold a few days ago.

and not just the sniffles, but a painfully sore throat, achy bones and all out fatigue. luckily, i am unemployed at the moment so these past few days have consisted of my (equally unemployed) husband making me breakfast, spending the whole day on the sofa and watching episodes of 30 rock and the office. but as much fun as the previous activities can be, they lose their luster when you are coughing up a storm, have snot running down your nose and on the edge of tears when you have to swallow.

so what is a natural health lady like myself supposed to do? guzzle a gallon of dayquil and go about my merry way? no, i say!

i will admit, it is more difficult to treat a tough cold and cough without those heavy hitters but they aren’t good for you anyway (and they only mask your symptoms instead of holistically healing you from the inside out.) in addition, strong cold medicines like nasal decongestants can make your cold worse and give you all kinds of other problems.

in an effort to take a giant step away from chemicals and pharmaceuticals, i wanted to write about some helpful and healthy remedies for the common cold and everything that comes with it.

in ayurveda, a cold is a kaphic disorder, with the kapha imbalance creating excess mucus and congestion. there are many natural remedies to pacify kapha and relieve your symptoms.

 

the cold:

if you are experiencing a runny nose, the sniffles or nasal congestion, there are a few main ways to make you feel better real fast.

for a runny nose or the sniffles, a steam of mint, ginger and/or eucalyptus will immediately begin to clear your sinuses. reading my tea leaves has a great post (with pictures!) on an easy way to create a steam at home. a tea of 2 parts ginger, 3 parts cinnamon and a pinch of ground cardamom will also clear up a cold. you can make a large amount of this tea ahead of time and steep 1 teaspoon in hot water for 10-15 minutes. if you feel it needs to be sweetened, you can add honey as desired.

nasal congestion can be alleviated by the wondrous neti pot. i myself haven’t bought one yet since i am a little scared of sticking a stream of water up my nose but once i get over that fear, i will pick one up. everyone i know who has one can’t stop raving about it and the variety of benefits that can come from this tiny little pot. if you aren’t ready for a journey through full nasal irrigation yet, i would highly recommend an all-natural saline spray such as xlear which has xylitol and grapefruit seed extract added to soothe your sinus passages. it really helps relieve a runny nose and it also helps heal irritated nasal cavities.

 

the cough:

in ayurveda, there are two types of coughs. a “dry cough” which is a vatic disorder and a “mucus cough” which is a kaphic disorder. if you have a dry cough, you can eat a ripe banana with honey and black pepper. a mucus cough can be helped by eating ground black pepper with a spoonful of honey. this should be taken a few times a day for 3-5 days. if the cough simply won’t go away, you can boil a chopped clove of garlic in milk (if not dairy, try to use nut milk, not soy milk). then add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric. it might taste a little like garlic soup but trust me, it is worth it.

 

the sore throat

oh boy, this is one of the most painful things to have. to relieve a sore throat you can do one (or more) of the following:

gargle with salt and hot water. this seems to work some of the time but not always. if that doesn’t do the trick, you can make a mixture of equal parts honey and apple cider vinegar. although it might smell (and taste) horrid, apple cider vinegar is an absolute godsend. in fact, it is so amazing that it will be have a post of its own at a later point in time. for now, just deal with the POW! that ACV hits you with and if you gargle (and swallow) the mixture, your sore throat will be on its way in no time. if you can’t handle the ACV (which happens to some people, my husband couldn’t even be in the kitchen while i was making the mixture), you can always gargle with the juice from half a lemon and a tablespoon of honey.

one remedy that i always use (even when i don’t quite have a sore throat) is what i call “TLC with HLC”. fill half a tablespoon with honey, fill the other half with fresh lemon juice and sprinkle cayenne pepper on top. one slow swallow (so that the mixture can coat the throat thoroughly) and you will be feeling better already!

 

the wonderful leslie from crunchy betty posted an excellent article on other cold and cough remedies, including a homemade sage honey for a sore throat (i am dying to make it!) and an amazing elderberry syrup that you can use either when you are sick or when you are just trying to prevent a flu. her website is incredible so you should put aside an hour (or two) to peruse her endless natural health wisdom.

 

a few side notes:

since aspirin and ginger are both blood-thinners, you should not take them at the same time.

if you are vegan, maple syrup can substitute for honey.

make sure you get plenty of rest. that includes napping and sleeping in. tell your boss absolutely ayurveda said so!

stay away from animal products sugars, dairy, cold drinks/foods and caffeine. they create even more mucus and slow down your recovery. instead, stick to hearty whole grains, steamed colorful veggies and LOTS of tea.

take time to relax and let your body heal. all too often, we are running around, trying to get everything done…even when we are sick!

make sure that your house is warm and that you are bundled up with socks, a sweatshirt and a head covering. if available, use a humidifier by your bedside. add a few drops of lavender to the humidifier water and it will relax you to sleep.

 

i hope this article will help you get well next time you are hit with a cold. and i leave you with this dreamy gem to relax your mind!