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.
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.
Kapha dosha makes our bodies and minds strong and sturdy. A daily Yoga asana practice builds on kapha’s natural strength and reduces the tendency toward weight gain that can come with excess kapha.
It doesn’t have to take a lot of time -- even 15 minutes in the morning will combat the effects of sedentary living and create enthusiasm for life that will reach far beyond your Yoga mat. Just set your wake up time a bit earlier (start before 6:00 a.m. and you’ll get the bonus of the increased energy that is present in the vata time of morning called brahmamuhurti) and make the commitment to asana as a part of your morning routine.
To balance kapha’s heavy nature, focus on invigorating poses, such as strengthening standing poses and backbends, as we have outlined in the two sequences below. Hold each pose for 10 to 15 breaths if you are feeling sluggish to awaken kapha. If you are feeling fearful, scattered or other signs of vata imbalance, hold each pose for 20 breaths.
A few weeks ago in our post about a kapha-balancing diet, we shared how kapha is the dosha with the fewest diseases associated. Kapha’s earth and water elements are stable by nature and less prone to go out of balance than vata’s air or pitta’s fire. This is why people with dominant kapha in their constitutions tend to live long, healthy lives. However, one factor can easily aggravate kapha, and it is quite common in our modern lifestyle: sedentary living.
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.
By Myra Lewin
This is a time of year when many people realize that their life needs a different direction. Often, this results in a flurry of resolutions to lose weight, get a new job or find a new relationship. People jump into these changes, but many become disillusioned when things don’t progress as quickly as they had hoped.
Before you head down that road, consider this: The act of setting direction for your life can’t just happen once a year. It is a lifelong process that unfolds each day. Life is not shaped by short-term sprints toward something outside of yourself, but by setting intentions, which are conscious shifts in the way you approach life.
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.
Legumes are a central part of an Ayurvedic diet. High in easily-digested protein, grounding and affordable, legumes have a lot to offer. We keep our cupboards stocked with a variety of dried legumes. Mix them with different grains and a 60:40 combination of augmenting and extractive vegetables and you can create a different meal every day of the month.
Don’t beans cause gas?
By Joanne Cooper
I have always had issues with digestion. As a teenager, I had two bleeding ulcers. For most of my life, I experienced burning indigestion and often could not even lie down to sleep at night because of acid reflux. By the time I reached my early 40s, I began to see significant consequence from the way I was eating and living. I realized that I needed to change my lifestyle in order to enjoy good health.
I began studying Yoga at a local studio as a way to connect more consciously with my body. One of my teachers had a background in Ayurveda which she wove into her weekly asana classes. I was intrigued with the idea that people are inherently connected to, and are meant to live in harmony with, nature. When my teacher announced that she was hosting a workshop at her studio with an Ayurvedic doctor from India, I eagerly signed up.
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.
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.
When we track what we put into our bodies, we increase awareness and better understand the reasons we feel the way we do – good or bad. We’ve created this daily wellness journal for you to track your daily activities so you can become more familiar with your daily patterns. Then, you can begin to see the results of your actions on your health.
We've put together a handy wellness journal for you to use. Copy and paste it into your computer to track your daily progress. Or, you can copy the headings into a notebook that you can easily access to jot down notes.
When you can make the connections between what you are doing and how you are feeling, you’ll be better able to make the lasting changes that will bring you more fully into your true state of health.