By Myra Lewin
In a rush lately? Leaving lights on? Eating while shopping online? Losing your car keys?
The holidays are full of activity. There’s lots to enjoy, loved ones to see, events to attend and meals to plan. But with a (very) full schedule you might find yourself rushing through the day and feeling like you need to accomplish many things in order to satisfy yourself or other people. But rushing doesn’t feel very good, does it?
About to take flight for the holidays?
The ability to travel long distances at high speed is a gift, however it can cause imbalance in our system if we donʻt take action to counter the movement.
Although Ayurveda preceded the airplane by a few thousand years, its healing principles can certainly be applied to recovering from air travel. We simply need to consider the elements, the qualities and the doshas.
By Myra Lewin
I used to race cars, and fix them too. When I was about 14, back in east Tennessee, you could often find me at the garage, hanging with the mechanics, or riding the rolling hills. At that time, being behind the wheel or under the hood felt like freedom to me. I loved being a part of the action - hugging the curves of the road, leading the pack. I was small, young, plenty reckless, and clearly pretty in touch with my masculine energy.
Fall is a delight. Surrounded by warm, rich colours and crisp air it’s truly a joy to get outside and experience nature’s glow. It is a time when we feel compelled to ‘get down to business’ and put in effort to create the change we wish to see in our lives. Fall is also vata season when the wind dominates and bringing with it with it the energy of movement and change. However we can get carried away with this energy and take on too much. We may find ourselves spending excessive time in front of screens or splitting our attention between multiple activities at once, all in an effort to accomplish our goals. Excessive mental activity, coupled with the momentum of change we see in nature will tend to aggravate vata dosha and cause a state of imbalance. When we experience anxiety, sleeplessness and forgetfulness, we know that we need to take care of vata dosha.
By Myra Lewin
The Sahara belongs to the sun. Among the rolling dunes there was once the world’s largest lake, named Mega Chad, which evaporated over a thousand years ago under the sun’s relentless glare. But today the lake’s silvery remains sustain life half a world away. Each year wind blows mineral-rich dust from the dried Saharan lake bed all of the way to South America, where it fertilizes the lush greenery of the Amazon.
To gain an understanding of Earth’s intricate and fantastic ecological balance, one must examine the planet as a whole. The earth is a holistic system in which balance is sustained by the interaction of different elements. The human being is no different. To initiate true healing we must consider the person as a whole: mind, body and spirit.
In the summer months, it is common for tensions to grow, tempers to rise and patience to dwindle. These are just a few of the many signs of excess pitta dosha that are easy to get caught up in. However, if our goal is to have balance in body and mind, it’s important to remember that pitta, just like all the doshas, serves a positive purpose in our lives too.
Focusing only on the negative side of the doshas makes us lose sight of the direction we should be heading. This is why when I was writing the dosha lesson in Hale Pule’s 600-hour Ayurvedic health counselor program, I made a point to include the many positive aspects present when vata, pitta and kapha are well balanced. When we can talk about pitta in both its balanced and imbalanced states, we can more easily recognize what it feels like when life comes into balance, and quickly turn things around when we start to move away from that.
In the heat of summer, many people reach for iced beverages. At first thought, this makes sense. It’s hot outside and ice is cold. But go deeper -- what are ice and ice cold drinks doing to your digestive fire?
Agni, or digestive fire, is responsible for our digestion of food, emotions and experiences in life. Just like a fire, agni needs to be tended. When left to smolder or allowed to grow too strong, it will result in indigestion, symptoms of imbalance and eventually disease.
When agni is balanced, digestive fire is stronger in the cooler months and weaker when the weather is hot. This allows you to take in heavier foods in the winter so you can maintain a protective layer of tissue to stay warm. Whereas in the summer, you may be drawn to eat lighter meals.
What to eat when it’s hot
BY MYRA LEWIN
Go to your kitchen and open your pantry. Look inside your fridge and cupboards and everywhere else you store food. What you’ll likely find is enough food to last you for several months, perhaps even years.
Most of us who have access to computers or smartphones that allow us to read posts like this are not used to experiencing starvation. Yet the concept of being hungry brings up deep fear among many of my clients and students.
This trend is illustrated by a client I have been working with for several years. She had dealt with severe blood sugar fluctuations for most of her life. When she became hungry, she would feel dizzy and she feared she would pass out, though she never actually had. As a result, she had developed a tremendous fear of hunger. When I met her, she was eating about six times a day, and was emaciated, bloated and filled with fear about life. I supported her to move to eating three meals a day (and a small snack if appropriate). It only took about six months to calm her mind, ease her bloating and improve her ability to digest life. What surprised her most was that despite eating less frequently, she returned to a natural weight for her body.
What an incredible gift it is to be able to visit faraway places all over the world. In just a few hours, we can find ourselves immersed in new surroundings. Traveling allows us to learn much about how connected we are to one another despite our differences.
However, outside of opening our eyes to new ways of life, the ability to travel globally has also increased vata imbalance. If you’ve ever come home from a trip feeling spacey or depleted, that is excess vata at play.
Salt has been used worldwide for centuries. As the oldest form of seasoning, it is well known as a culinary staple. However, it may surprise you to learn that salt has also been used medicinally for thousands of years. It is a key ingredient in several classical Ayurvedic formulas, such as hingvastak, to promote digestion or clear congestion.
Despite the many benefits of this mineral, salt has been questioned and demonized by the modern medical system. But eliminating salt, or reducing it too much, can have great consequences.
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