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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When things get tough in life or asana, go within.
Yoga is about self-realization, it is a remembrance of who we really are. That higher state of being that we seek is already within us -- all we need to do to is surrender our attachments.
Balasana, or child’s pose, is an act of surrender that can bring this awakening. As you fold your belly over your thighs, you meet your original essence. With your gaze inside, you go back to the innocence and newness of childhood, to a time when your higher self was all there was.
Grain has gotten a bad rap in recent years. Many health issues have been attributed to it: obesity, inflammation, leaky gut syndrome and mental fog are just a few that are on the list. But grain has been nourishing our ancestors for centuries and remains a central part of the diets of people around the world. So why is it suddenly a problem now? If grain is not a problem, why do so many people feel so good when they eliminate it from their diets?
Ayurveda offers a refreshing perspective on these questions, one that is grounded in more than 5,000 years of experience. Far before any diet fads filled the headlines, the ancient texts espoused grain as a way to balance the doshas and calm the mind. This wisdom still applies in the modern day.
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.
The next time you are tempted to eat lunch while checking email or want to have dinner in front of the television, pause and take a few slow, deep breaths first. As you inhale, you welcome prana, the life force that is our connection to the divine.
We get prana from our breath, but also from the food we eat. Plants have done the work of transforming the prana from nature into nutrients that make it possible for our bodies to move and our minds to think. The food we eat is the reason we can have this incredible experience of being alive.
It may surprise you to learn that eating an Ayurvedic diet means you get to enjoy your food -- perhaps more than you ever have. That’s because true enjoyment comes from eating in a way that nourishes your body and mind.
Using Ayurvedic spices for balance
Ayurvedic wisdom says that you should enjoy your food five times: planning it, preparing it, cooking it, eating it and digesting it (although we added a sixth way in our most recent Ayurvedic chef training: serving it). At each step, you have the opportunity to engage your senses to get the most out of the experience. Your food should look and smell wonderful. It should taste delicious and you should feel better for having cooked it and eaten it. A sure way to enjoy each step is to include Ayurvedic spices in every meal.
When prana is flowing without interruption, your body has everything it needs to heal itself (see the first in this series on pain relief to learn more about prana). Pain, whether mental or physical, cannot take hold in a body with an easy flow of prana. When prana is blocked, pain can become so much to bear that people often look to drugs or surgery to cope. But these methods of pain relief dull your body’s natural intelligence and further disrupt the flow of prana that is the key to healing. On the contrary, herbs and Ayurvedic treatments work with the body to address the root cause. As prana comes back into the body, the doshas regain balance and health follows.
Understanding Ayurveda is not about academics and memorizing a list of rules, it is about slowing down and being in the experience of life. One of the best (and most delicious) ways to learn Ayurveda is by taking your studies to your own kitchen.
Becoming an Ayurvedic cook requires little more than a willingness to study the effects of what you eat on your body and mind (although this guide to setting up your Ayurvedic kitchen has a few other tools to get you started). Throw away limiting dosha food lists and focus instead on exploring different foods and different ways of preparing them. Pay attention to the results with a wellness journal, and you’ll soon be able to move away from black-and-white thinking about what and how to eat and toward the innate wisdom inside you.
By Susan Barozzi
I first came to Hale Pule in the spring of 2016. Before that, I had spent many years being told by various practitioners that I was allergic to many of the foods I was eating, or that I was prone to candida overgrowth and had parasites with no apparent symptoms. I had also been plagued with low blood sugar issues and was told to eat snacks every hour or two to keep my blood sugar up. Being one of the “sensitive types” I found I was easily overwhelmed by life’s challenges and had a tendency to worry about things more than I would have liked. I decided that I was ready for a new story. I wanted to heal my relationship with food.
The practices of Ayurveda and Yoga were given to us to work hand-in-hand. Understanding how the three doshas work in your body will help you tune into the changes that result from changes in diet, how you live and the environment around you. This information is meant to guide you in your practice of Yoga, including asana, so that you can feel your best on and off the mat.
The things you do in any part of your life affect all parts of your life. This includes the choices you make about what to eat, what you do for entertainment, the company you keep -- each of these causes has an effect. So if you are trying to change the way you feel, you must look holistically at what you are doing to bring about the results you are getting.
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.
When you study the world around you from an Ayurvedic perspective, it’s easier to use your Yoga practice to create balance and harmony in your life.
For instance, whenever there is movement, such as in the transition between seasons or the transformation of food to energy, vata dosha is involved. Vata, made up of the ethers and air elements, provides the space for movement and the push of wind to take something from here to there. In the body, it allows your digestive organs to guide food from the mouth to the colon, your blood to circulate the nutrients throughout your body and your legs to walk as a result of the energy from your food.
You peer into the mirror. There are new lines around your eyes. You see a few new white hairs popping out from your scalp. The universe is giving you a choice here: you can either resist the aging process with chemicals, surgery and fear, or you can simply accept the changes as a reflection that you, too, are a part of nature.
Everything in nature ages, including us. But aging doesn’t have to be scary (no matter what the advertisements may say). In fact, it can be a lovely, natural experience. And, by finding balance in your body and mind and embracing changes as they come, you may find that you can actually feel better with age.
Ayurveda and Yoga can serve as guides to help you feel stronger, more confident and secure as you progress in the natural process of life.
By Myra Lewin
The idea that purusha, or divine consciousness, exists within you can be challenging to wrap your head around at first. Understanding and, more importantly, experiencing that it is embedded in every aspect of your being can require some time.
If you have struggled to recognize the divine within, perhaps it is easier to consider it in terms of creative energy. Think about a time when you were immersed in a project that you truly enjoyed. The “flow” you experienced allowed you to enjoy simply being in that moment with no attachment to the outcome. That leads to vitality and bliss, a sign that you are connected to purusha.
The principles of Ayurveda were first recorded about 5,000 years ago – long before stress became an epidemic and we created a world filled with a million ways to be distracted from finding your true self. But Ayurveda is based on nature’s rhythms, the same rhythms that make up everything in the world around us, including us. As such, the principles of this ancient science work in any age and any situation.
Ayurvedic treatments are a perfect example of this. These techniques have the ability to balance and heal our modern society’s uniquely modern health issues. As more people look for balance and healing, Ayurvedic treatments are gaining in popularity.
Here are three of our favorite treatments to balance modern ailments:
How many times have you held back a yawn, a sneeze or tears? Did you ever imagine that such a seemingly harmless action could contribute to illness and imbalance? That was the case for one student who came through a Hale Pule Yoga teacher training.
This student arrived with nervous energy, a sign of high vata dosha, physical weakness and complaints of chronic headaches. Through the first week of the training, whenever she felt the urge to sneeze, she stifled it, letting out only a tiny squeak. We encouraged her to let the sneeze out, but she had great resistance to doing this as she had followed this pattern all of her life, believing she should not disrupt the people around her. In fact, she was disrupting her own body.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and what happens on the outside reflects what is happening on the inside. While people often seek to address skin issues with external remedies, Ayurveda suggests healing them from the inside out.
By understanding the doshic imbalances behind common skin issues, you can make changes to bring whole-body health. Addressing the underlying imbalance will bring a calmer mind, healthy digestion and an improved relationship with the God of your heart. You certainly can’t get that from a prescription cream!
Here’s a look at three common skin ailments, their root causes and ways to bring your skin to its natural state of health.
Have you ever wondered why oil is such a significant part of Ayurveda? From the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet, the oil treatments recommended in the Ayurvedic texts provide healing benefits inside and out. Here’s a quick look at why Ayurvedic self-care and treatments recommend oil for health and healing.