With tapas, the Yogic practice of discipline, you can experience deep change in your life.
The word discipline might not sound like a lot of fun, but if you think of it as a daily commitment to honor your desire to live a fulfilling life then you can see how discipline could become your greatest ally.
Here's a sweet and simple ojas-building complement to any meal.
How can you be kind to your body today?
This month at Hale Pule we have been looking at ways to integrate the Yogic practice of ahimsa into everyday life. Ahimsa translates into kindness, consideration and respect. Think of ahimsa as your North Star, your guiding light - with ahimsa as your reference point, your journey will be more clear and full of joy.
Giving thanks is simple. Showing appreciation is the work of a mere moment. All that is required is a shift in perception, a welcoming of the now and what it has to offer.
On this Thanksgiving day at Hale Pule our moments are filled with ghee-scented air, dancing wind chimes, and lovingly rolled dough. We are taking delight in the alchemy of spices and vegetables as we prepare our special Ayurvedic Thanksgiving recipe: Vegetable pie.
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.
When people come to Hale Pule Ayurveda and Yoga trainings, they often ask how we can make our food so delicious when it is prepared so simply. We say that our secret ingredient is sattva.
Sattva, or balance and harmony, is a principle in nature and all parts of life. It is the energy of sweetness in life, bringing us closer to the divine. When you cultivate this quality in your kitchen, the food you make will be much more than a delicious meal -- it will be an adventure in healing.
Incorporating Ayurveda into your diet can bring many wonderful benefits, including better digestion, stable energy through the day and a calmer mind. And sometimes, it even comes with dessert.
That’s right: Ayurveda believes that sweetness in life and in cooking is a good thing. The sweet taste is nourishing, grounding and calms your body and mind. It’s just a matter of rethinking what you are accustomed to know as dessert and putting something more loving in its place, like our Carrot Halvah recipe below.
If you want to experience lifelong health, make vata dosha your friend.
The doshas, or three vital energies, help us understand how internal and external factors influence your health and well-being. Each of us has all three doshas, just in different amounts. While any dosha can become imbalanced in us at any time, the dosha you have most of is the one that is most likely to go out of balance. When you understand your tendencies related to imbalance, you can avoid doing those things and focus instead on what makes you feel your best.
When you are feeling imbalanced overall, vata is often the reason. With the light and subtle qualities of ethers and air elements that make up vata, it is the easiest of the doshas to go out of balance. And because of the mobility of the air element, imbalanced vata will disturb the other doshas toward imbalance.
One of the greatest investments you can make in your health is committing to eating home-cooked meals. This doesn’t need to be a complicated process. In fact, it takes little more than a quality rice cooker to create a simple Ayurvedic meal. Our favorite meal to make this way is a basic combination of split mung and rice. Try this nourishing meal when you are traveling (just pack a rice cooker and all the ingredients to make it in your hotel room). You could also buy a rice cooker to keep in your office to take the place of take-out lunches. Or toss all the ingredients together to eat well on a busy day.
A food that is “good for you” can have quite a different effect when eaten in excess or in poor combination with other foods. We see the results of this in many clients who come to Hale Pule for Ayurvedic consultations. They believe they are doing all the right things for their health, but still experience gas, constipation, anxiety and other symptoms. When we peel back the layers of their daily habits, these clients are often overconsuming a so-called healthy food or eating it in ways that weaken agni, or digestive fire.
By Stephanie Stillman
Aparigraha is one of the yamas, the ethics of Yoga. Its literal translation is not gripping, or non-attachment. Practicing aparigraha is practicing contentment, adaptability and presence. Being able to flow with life and stay present in the moment is aparigraha. It is the opposite of being attached to a past event or a future outcome.
Ayurveda offers the foundation to reclaim your natural state of health. Working with the concept of “food as medicine”, each bite offers an opportunity to rediscover what it means to be in connection with your body. And by making the commitment to cooking at home, your path to true health will become clear and simple because you are in charge of what and how you eat.
Setting up an Ayurvedic kitchen doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. In fact, you can clear clutter by giving away complicated gadgets to make room for the simple tools that cooks have used for centuries to lovingly prepare meals.
We’ve compiled a list of the essentials that every Ayurvedic kitchen should have. Once you have these items, all you need to bring a sattvic diet into your life are fresh vegetables and a little love.
By Myra Lewin
When I was a child, I lived in a crowded house with a very small kitchen. My mother’s rule was that only one of us was allowed in the kitchen when she was cooking. I felt special whenever I was that person. Helping her prepare meals for our family of seven was the reason I developed the love for wholesome, home-cooked food that grew with my study of Ayurveda.
We say that “food is medicine” in Ayurveda because nothing else has the same power to nourish, heal and bring together community (even if that community is a parent and child cooking together in a small kitchen). When you study Ayurveda, you learn that all foods have distinct properties that can bring you closer to or further from health, depending on your individual constitution. But Ayurveda also teaches that not all food is equal. Food that is filled with prana, cooked gently with digestive spices and served in a sattvic home environment is the medicine that we should seek.
By Rachel Saum
I affectionately call this “veggie pie” when my friends ask what I’m cooking. It has been a hit at potlucks, and is an easy way to get the appropriate ratio of sweet, grounding to extractive, cleansing vegetables. Serve with hummus or another legume for a balanced meal. Here I used beets and turnips, but you could easily make it with carrots or squash. Happy baking!
What would it feel like to be at your very best state of health? How would you feel with your body at its ideal proportions for your build and dosha balance? How much freedom would you have knowing that your body was at its healthiest function?
The answer to all of these questions is simple: You would feel like your true self – vital, joyous and content.
By Lisa Akesson
I remember the first time I was really hungry and didn't allow myself to eat. As a model I traveled to Paris in hopes of work. With no guarantees I dove headfirst and did everything I could to succeed. The agency I worked with didn't have to put pressure on me to lose weight; I did it very well myself. After a few weeks my skin broke out in protest of my unhealthy mental and physical state. I remember how frustrated I was when I had to go back home earlier then planned.