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.
Inside your digestive system lives a whole universe, home to about 100 trillion microscopic organisms. Meet your intestinal flora, tiny bacteria that support your digestion by breaking down the food you eat into easily assimilated nutrients and getting rid of undigested matter.
In Ayurveda, digestive health is the source of whole body health. When your intestinal flora is well-balanced, symptoms like gas, bloating and constipation are rare and easily remedied. As a result, your ojas is stronger, leaving your body with better immunity. When this balance is disrupted, the reverse is true.
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
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.
You can find plenty of Ayurvedic recipes, Ayurvedic cookbooks and Ayurvedic chefs, but as much as you look, you’ll never find Ayurvedic cuisine. That’s because Ayurveda is more than just a way of cooking -- it is a way of looking at food and life as a whole through the lens of nature’s rhythms.
Nature is always changing. If you study what is happening outside your home, you’ll notice that not a single day is the same as another. Your body and mind are a reflection of nature, so they are always changing too. In fact, the Sanskrit word for body is sharira, which translates to “that which is always changing.”
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.
The practices of Ayurveda allow us to prevent illness, but the science also has a lot to say about what to do in those times when you do get sick.
Illness is a time to take care of your body. It is a signal to slow down, rest and come back to balance. It is important to allow time for full recovery -- nothing else is more important. What you do during this time matters greatly in how fast you will heal and the level of health you will reach afterward. Until symptoms subside, let go of your daily responsibilities, stay in bed, avoid looking at computers or screens and, most importantly, eat only very simple foods.
Agni, digestive fire, is weak during illness, so you cannot digest the same kinds of foods you enjoyed before. Yet as you are healing, your body needs nourishment. Kunyi, a soupy rice cooked with mineral salt and ghee, offers a meal that is very easy to digest and perfect for times of illness.
By Karla Dixon
Bananas Foster. Just typing the words makes my mouth water and ignites such fond, sweet memories.
Childhood dinners, all dressed up, out with the family. Topping the evening with the infamous flaming Bananas Foster prepared tableside.
My dear friend Frankie (sadly gone from this world), who used to make it for me in my 20s after the spectacular, sumptuous, over-the-top dinner parties we would throw.
Then, the silent ashram, pre-dawn....wait....what?
Yes! It's true! Having recently completed my Yoga teacher training at Hale Pule, I literally cried when this delicious treat was offered for breakfast a few weeks into the intensive program.
Now that I am home, we have them for breakfast a few sweet mornings a week. Here is the recipe for no sugar, HEALTHY cooked bananas that will bring you back to those decadent occasions in just one bite. I promise. Eat slowly. Savor. Chew your food. And enjoy!
In the West, it is said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is also true from an Ayurvedic perspective.
Breakfast, the first meal of the day, means to “break the fast.” You have not eaten all night and your digestive organs are meant to be in a state of rest. In these early hours, agni, digestive fire, is like a pile of smoldering coals. Come out of this nighttime fast with care and you will turn these coals into steady flames.
What you eat for breakfast will affect agni all day long. Heavy foods, such as eggs, sausage, or nut butters, dampen your fire. Cold foods, such as smoothies, yogurt or cold milk, restrict your body’s digestive channels, weakening agni for the rest of the day. Dry, crunchy foods, such as toast, cereal or granola, increase vata. Vata and agni can support each other or create imbalance in the other, so the better your relationship is with one, the better it will be with the other.
The best choice for agni is a simple, cooked meal. A good breakfast for any morning is a bowl of warm porridge.
Nature draws inward during the cooler seasons. Plants shift their focus away from producing showy flowers and leaves and focus instead on strengthening their roots in order to stay grounded and nourished throughout the year.
The wisdom is simple, but profound: When you go within, you grow your foundation. You can apply this to your own life, starting in your kitchen.
Root down with root vegetables
The food we eat brings in the qualities we’d like more of. So if you want to be more grounded, more connected to the stability of the earth, eat root vegetables.