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.
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.
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.
By Lisa Åkesson Stryker
Sugar has often been linked to strong emotions for me. I have eaten sugar when I felt happy, sad, lonely, disconnected, tired, hungry, thirsty, anxious, out of control, victimized, unsettled or excited. I could always find a reason why I deserved a piece of candy, and rarely enough strength to say “no.” Sugar was a faithful friend, always there when I needed distraction from what was happening to me. It sounds a bit like an addiction, right?
This winter the negative impact of this relationship became painfully obvious to me. After eating a lot of sugar around Christmas, my skin was breaking out, I felt constantly exhausted and my digestion was protesting. Still I couldn’t stop having the sweets that were presented to me. When my sister shared that she was detoxing from sugar this spring, I jumped right on board with the idea.
Ayurveda offers each of us the opportunity to become our own healers. To step into this role is a journey, one that requires a commitment to learning the unique functions of your mind and body.
The doshas -- vata, pitta and kapha -- are one of the foundational tools that Ayurveda offers to go within and find out why you feel, act and look the way you do. The doshas are profoundly important to understanding your body and mind, but they are often oversimplified and misunderstood.
Beyond the dosha quiz
A person’s first experience with Ayurveda is often marked by taking a dosha quiz. The results usually include lists of foods and activities to avoid for your dosha (or products to buy). But living according to a black-and-white list is opposite of what Ayurveda teaches.
In Ayurveda, it is said that we only need five foods to stay alive: wheat, rice, ghee, milk and mung. It’s really that simple.
Dhal, as split mung is often called, is a staple here at Hale Pule. It is easy to digest, nourishing and, since it doesn’t require soaking, it is a simple choice suited for any day. Since split mung calms all doshas, it is wise to have plenty on hand when you are feeding a crowd of people.
Green vegetables are showing up everywhere lately -- raw in salads, pureed in smoothies, even baked as chips. It’s good to see more people interested in eating healthfully, but just because a little bit is good for you doesn’t mean that more is better. In fact, too many green vegetables without enough grounding, nourishing foods can quickly send vata dosha soaring.
It’s a Hale Pule routine to take photos of guests and students when they arrive. We do it again before they leave. Whether they stay for four months, four weeks, or four days, the changes are striking.
People experience physical changes (some look so different that it’s difficult to believe it’s the same person), but more often the shift is in the energy they carry in the after picture. These are people who are more connected to who they really are. That’s what makes Ayurveda more than just a diet -- it is a roadmap to self-realization.
Take a look at our gallery of before and after photos to see what it looks like when the spirit shines through.
Making friends with kapha dosha is about embracing stability, compassion and even-mindedness. Cultivate balance in kapha and you experience the sweeter side of life.
Even if kapha is not a primary part of your constitution, the qualities that make up kapha (heavy, dense, cool, wet, soft) exist in you. Your body itself is made of kapha tissues such as bones, muscles and fat. Without the structure kapha provides, vata could not move and pitta could not transform. You need to maintain balance in all three doshas to enjoy true health in body, mind and spirit.