The more that I talk with people about their state of wellbeing, I realize how pivotal it is for Ayurveda to shine at this point in history. I also realize, many are not familiar with Ayurveda and what it actually is. How can we use this incredible ancient healing modality in our current time in history? What exactly is Ayurveda and how can we apply this to our daily lives? What is my dosha and unique expression of the elements? I find that it is important to go back to the basics so we can truly grasp an idea of what Ayurveda is and how we can use this ancient science as a tool for our health and wellness.
Ayurveda is the science of life, the science of self-realization, and the knowledge of life. Ayur means life and Veda means knowledge/truth/or science. Dating back to 5,000 years ago, the first written expression of Ayurveda can be found in the Artharva Vedic text from 1,500 BCE that mentions 125 botanical plants and their healing properties. Of course, Ayurveda existed as an oral tradition well before written text. One interesting thing to note about Ayurvedic texts is the physicians, whom were seers cognizing this knowledge, edited and expanded upon previous written text based on experiential trial and error. Therefore, Ayurveda is both traditional and experimental in nature. Ayurveda also acknowledges that one size does not fit all. We are all unique expressions of the elements and embody a constant flow of balance and imbalance from environmental, emotional, and diet-based factors.
Ayurveda approaches healing from a truly holistic perspective, embodying mind, body, and spirit. As the soul of Ayurveda is held in a deeply cultural and ritualistic tradition, you cannot practice Ayurveda without taking into consideration the spirit of existence. The root of Ayurveda is held in Sankhya Philosophy, or a creation philosophy, that describes the journey of consciousness into matter. We are all in a state of illusion that we exist solely as our functioning bodies, yet we are much more connected to the cosmos then we think. So, in Ayurveda we really seek and value self-realization to fully understand ourselves as a whole being observing and existing in the world.
The three doshas, vata, pitta, and kapha, are the “humors” comprised of the five elements in our bodies. We all have these three doshas circulating within us, however the quality and quantity of each varies. Vata is ether and air. Pitta is fire and water. Kapha is water and earth. Dosha is best translated as “organization” because when in balance, or organized properly with our prakruti (unique constitution) we are in a state of health. When they become out of balance, vikruti, we are in a state of imbalance or di-ease. This can show up in our mental, emotional, or physical beings. The true goal is to get back to the state of our prakruti so that we are happy and healthy.
Vata individuals are typically slender and love to move. They are creative, adaptable, enthusiastic and love change. Vata type individuals tend to furiously spend money, particularly at the thrift store as they love old antiques. They typically wear bright colors and mismatching patterns. They are artistic and have a true joy for life. When out of balance, a vata predominate individual will be fearful, anxious, nervous, forgetful, spacy and will be prone to vata digestion such as constipation and bloating. Nourishing and grounding tools are necessary to get vata back to balance.
Pitta individuals have a moderate body built with well-defined muscles. They may have many freckles and moles and are fiery in appearance and personality. Pitta types are extremely intelligent, ambitious, passionate, and organized. When out of balance, pittas can be judgmental, angry, jealous, and unyielding. Heat in the body is a sign of high pitta. Serenity and cooling practices are best for a pitta who is out of balance. Cooling foods such as cilantro, lime, coconut will help to keep a pitta cool, calm, and collected.
Kapha individuals have large, beautiful eyes and thick lustrous hair. Kapha types are more prone to carrying extra adipose tissue on their body and tend to have slow, steady movements. Kapha personalities are welcoming, loving, forgiving, and caring however can become attached, depressed, or possessive when out of balance. Energizing, stimulating, and warming foods and practices are best to keep kapha motivated and moving.
Summertime means pitta season. With climate that is hot and dry, or hot and wet, there are many Ayurvedic tools we can use to remain cool, calm, and collected to beat the heat and stay balanced.
According to Ayurveda, each season holds qualities that represent the different Doshas. Summer represents pitta. The qualities of pitta, which is ruled by water and fire, are: hot, sharp, light, liquid, spreading, oily, and sour. While the main home site of pitta is the small intestine, pitta also lives in the stomach, eyes, blood, liver, sweat, grey matter of the brain, and sebaceous glands. The more we can understand how pitta shows up in our bodies, the better we can mitigate any imbalance during the hot, summer days.
Whether you are predominately vata, pitta, or kapha, our surrounding environment can off balance our physical and emotional bodies and increase our Doshas. For the summertime season, the heat can increase pitta and show up as anger, heat in the body, irritability, confusion, rash, hives, inflammation, gastrointestinal issues, diarrhea, or fatigue. It is important to stay hydrated so that our red blood cells are saturated enough to absorb the liquids and easily circulate throughout the body.
Now let’s talk about some tools to stay cool.
While drinking water is important to stay hydrated, sometimes too much water can deplete the lining of our red blood cells and pass right through us. Electrolytes are important to support the absorption of water into our red blood cells, however many brands on the market have tons of sugars and other ingredients that are not so great for us. Consider this very simple, yet profoundly hydrating, electrolyte drink.
In a 34 ounce cup, add ½ squeezed lime, a pinch of any sugar and salt you have, and BOOM! You have yourself an amazing electrolyte beverage to drink throughout the day. Drink one, every day.
Herbs play an amazing role in supporting our physical and mental well-being too.
Brahmi is an incredible herbal ally during summer days. Pitta rules intelligence, and Brahmi works on the mental brain to promote tranquility and awareness, while also nourishing the nervous system. The properties of Brahmi are sweet and bitter, with a cooling energy, to keep the mind cool and levelheaded. The main action of Brahmi is on the brain while also promoting a cooling and stress releasing effect on the nervous system.
Lastly, pranayama, or breathing exercises, can be an immediate tool to cool off. Sheetali literally means “that which is cooling”. Sheetali is used not only to cool down anger or irritability, it also targets the stomach and gastrointestinal lining to ease peptic ulcers or gastritis. Here is a link to instruction on how to do Sheetali.
Learn to beat the heat with Sheetali
Did you ever combine the most outlandish ingredients together when you are a kid? Whatever spices you could get your hands on, leaves, strings, shells, obviously poisonous berries, flowers, sand. You name it.
Years later, as an adult and an herbalist (go figure), I still find excitement and magic in blending ingredients into potions.
A blend that has been a staple in my life for years is in a milk base. Traditional preparation of milk decoctions are called ksirapaka kalpana. 1 part herb, 8 parts milk, and 32 parts water are simmered together.
Nourishing and grounding, my personal take on ksirapaka kalpana is something I have been enjoying as a nighttime treat.
Some herbal constituents are oil soluble and offer the nourishment needed to pacify vata and cool pitta. Extracting the lipid soluble parts of the plant can make the healing properties more bioavailable. You can use cow’s milk or any milk alternative for making a tasty treat.
In Ayurveda, an anupana is a carrier for the herbs to different places or organs in the body. Blends with milk as a base helps to pacify pitta and nourishes the nervous system. Adding ghee to the warm beverage helps the herbs navigate to deeper tissues of the nervous system (majja dhatu) and reproductive system (artava and shukra dhatu).
I am going to share with you one of my secret potion recipes. While you may not have all of these herbs available, I encourage you to play a little and add spices in your cabinet that feel right. I hope you enjoy this tasty treat as much as I do!
1/4th Teaspoon Shatavari
1/4th Teaspoon Ashwagandha
1/8th Teaspoon Arjuna
Pinch of Pippali (you can use black pepper instead)
Sprinkle of Nutmeg
Sprinkle of Cinnamon
Sprinkle of Cardamom
Sprinkle of Turmeric
1/2 of ghee after hot beverage is in mug
Sip, and enjoy!
I follow a Health Coach on social media. They are wonderful. Fun, innovative, great recipes and tips. Yet, in many of their post they complain of suffering from gas and bloating. While their choice of food ingredients and recipes are in fact “healthy” compared to many of our cultural standards, any Ayurvedic Practitioner would keel over at the combinations and preparation methods they use. The juiced, raw, and poor food combining leads to the obvious, the inevitable, the dreaded gas, bloating, and constipation.
This Health Coach, with a predominantly vata constitution, focuses on ways to improve gut health. Raw, juiced, and smoothies with milk, bananas, and peanut butter dominate their profile. These are all a major red flag when it comes to food combining according to Ayurveda. Keeping our agni (digestion) intact and happy is the source of health.
Our unique doshic constitution certainly plays a role for what would be appropriate or not for individual diets. Kapha, for example, could benefit in certain situations from raw foods. Pitta certainly deserves a cooling smoothie here and there, and vata could use some grounding from that oily peanut butter. But if we take the basic understanding of qualities in our bodies as well as qualities in our food and think of how these qualities combine, we can make healthy choices so that our digestion, assimilation, and elimination is happy and healthy. The journey begins with agni.
There are 4 major types of agni. Vishama, tikshna, manda, and sama agni. Vishama agni is variable, typical of vata, where digestion is inconsistent leading to constipation, gas, and bloating. Tikshna agni is your typical pitta digestion presenting itself as sharp huger, loose stools, and heart burn. Manda agni is typical of a kapha imbalance where there is weak and slow digestion. Sama agni is balanced digestion, which is ideal.
While the first rule of thumb is that not one specific diet fits all, there are some simple basic food combinations that should be applied for all doshas.
1)Eat fruit by itself. Especially bananas. Fruit is quickly digested, and when it is eaten with other food, it will digest before the other food and create fermentation in the body. Bananas specifically are sour and can dampen agni which leads to production of toxins. It is best to eat fruit at least 30 minutes before or after anything else.
2)Never mix meat and cheese! Enough said.
3)Nightshades with melons, cucumber, or dairy products are a no go. Nightshades are inflammatory in action so should be avoided if there is inflammation in the body.
4)Beans with cheese, eggs, fish, milk, meat, and yogurt are especially vata provoking and increase the air quality in the body creating gas, bloating, constipation.
5)Raw and juiced foods may be appropriate for certain situations. but should typically be avoided. When digesting raw foods, the body needs to work harder to break down raw materials. Juiced foods are heavily concentrated with sugars and stripped of fibers. Both are increasing to air and ether elements contributing to lack of absorption.
Consider an Ayurvedic Consultation with me if you need support with diet and digestion. The key to health and well-being begins in our gut.
That moment in time where you are not quite sure. Was that a tickle in my throat? Am I getting sick? Why can I not stop sneezing!? You think you are all right, then bam! Sneezing, runny nose, fatigue. And once you have crossed off Covid as an option, you know you are experiencing seasonal allergies. The dreaded exchange for beautiful weather and flowers is upon us.
Everything is starting to bloom here in Southern Oregon. Lilacs, fruit tree blossoms, tulips, daffodils, cute purple weeds, you name it. While for some it may just be an inconvenience, for others, allergies can shake their whole world. Let’s take a look at what our bodies are going through when experiencing allergies from an Ayurvedic lens and discuss some Ayurvedic remedies to navigate springtime allergies.
Asatmya is the concept of allergies in Ayurveda. While this ranges from food to skin allergies, this also includes seasonal allergies. Satmya means immunity, the resistance to allergies or infection. When our agni (digestive fire) and ojas (immunity) are functioning properly, it is difficult for external antigens to invade the body, create ama (toxic material), and trigger an allergic doshic response, i.e. runny nose, rash, sneezing. However, when agni and ojas are low, our immune system is compromised and we are more likely to be effected by antigens and experience allergy like symptoms.
Per Dr. Lad. Ayurveda Today 1989 – Asatmya “AMA (toxic material) produces Vata type, Pitta type, and Kapha type local or general reactions. The substances which produce these reactions are called allergens. The form that an allergy takes depends both upon the type of allergen and the aggravated dosha (V, P, or K).”
Our antibodies, with vata, pitta, and kapha as separate “strains”, react to these external antigens in their own ways. Kapha type reaction will surface as laryngeal edema, latent spring fever, runny nose. Pitta type allergies include rashes, eczema, and acne. Vata type allergies show up as gas, aches and pains, and wheezing.
Springtime is naturally kaphagenic in nature as the emergence from winter, including snow melt and seed growth, create moisture in the air. Spring allergies are considered a predominantly kapha imbalance, so it is important that we support and balance kapha in our bodies during this transition. Here are some tools to balance kapha to keep ama, and allergies, at bay:
1)Sun Salutations. To get kapha moving in our lymphatic system, practice 3 sun salutations a day. Be sure the stretch towards the sky for sun salutation kapha variation to further promote circulation.
Here is a video of Beverly demonstrating optional Kapha Sun Salutation variations.
2)Trikatu. As agni is our main line of defense against external allergens, we want to make sure we have a strong, stable digestive fire. Trikatu, the blend of ginger, black pepper, and pippali (long pepper) is a heating, yet gentle, combination to increase digestion and eliminate toxins. Ayurvedic Rasayanas’ Digestive Support #13- Trikatu Rasayana is an excellent option to keeping agni happy and our immune system strong, ready to combat potential allergens.
3)Nasya Oil. Administering daily nasya oil through the nasal passages removes kapha from the sinuses and nose. Nasya oil is typically formulated as an herbal blend with a sesame oil base. To lubricate the nasal passages without nasya oil, simply put a few drop of sesame oil on your finger and gently massage the inside if your nasal passages.
4)Kapha pacifying diet. When we are choosing meal selections during the winter to spring seasonal change, favor kapha pacifying foods. Choose bitter, pungent, and astringent foods; stay away from sweet, sour, and salty meals. Pinto beans, split peas, red lentils, barley, millet, quinoa are all great options. Vegetables to pacify kapha during allergy season are carrots, beets, leafy greens; cook with heating spices such as trikatu.
5)Warm water and Honey. Upon waking, boil water and add a little bit of honey. Drink as a morning tea. The honey offers a gentle scraping effect to the body, specifically the lungs, and will support proper elimination of mucus. The best honey is raw, crystalized honey.
6)Wake early. Daily routine is key to a healthy lifestyle. As kapha can be heavy and groggy, consider waking at 4:30 a.m. to start your day. Incorporate healthy habits such as a 20-minute walk and stimulating yoga asana. Keep it simple at first, yet steady and consistent. You can always add more to your routine.
The feminine is such a beautiful and powerful thing. According to Sankhya Philosophy, or the philosophy of creation, the feminine is the force behind the birth of the universe. Prakruti, this female energy, manifest nature. She is the creative potential that is the source of creative will and awareness in the universe. The female body is an amazing representation of this creative potential. Taking care of our bodies is always important, however it is ojas, or the nectar of our reproductive systems, that give us immunity, strength, vitality, and ultimately a long life.
The superior by-product of Artava dhatu, or the female reproductive tissue, is ojas. For a woman to be successful for a healthy pregnancy and general well-being, it is crucial that we protect and nourish ojas. Menstruation can offer insight into the health of our ojas. Through emotional experience, color and consistency of blood, and generalized pain in the body, we can understand which dosha is being affected and how to pacify that dosha. Here are some examples of what each dosha may experience as an imbalance during a woman’s cycle.
Vata imbalance: may experience sharp, intermittent lower back pain. Typical out of balanced vata emotions may be prevalent such as anxiety or fear. The blood flow may be scanty and dark in color.
Pitta imbalance: General heat in body, including inflammation, diarrhea, or nausea. Unbalanced pitta emotions may be prevalent such as anger and judgment. Color of blood is general red with a slight smell as pitta dominates a sour scent.
Kapha imbalance: Kapha tends to be dull pain, with heavy emotions such as depression. The consistency of the blood may be thick and have mucous with a heavier and longer flow.
A healthy cycle will not induce pain or a major emotional response. The blood will be bright red and not stain clothing, as staining is an indication of ama, or toxins in the body. Traditionally, the menstrual cycle starts on the new moon. Nourishing ojas can mean many things, so let us explore some practices to keep our ojas happy and healthy for an easy menstrual experience and overall health of a woman’s body.
Of course, actively balancing your individual dosha throughout the month and keeping up with healthy habits will be crucial to a healthy, happy, cycle.
Even if your constitution is predominantly vata, pitta, or kapha, we can all experience the impact nervousness and anxiety play on our bodies and mind. Typically considered a sign of vata imbalance, anxiety and nervousness can get the best of us sometimes.
When the gunas (qualities) of vata such as cold, light, and dry, are elevated and lodge into our nervous system, they can deplete the myelin sheath. The myelin sheath is the exterior, protective portion that surrounds the axons of neurons in our central and peripheral nervous systems. The myelin sheath is comprised of proteins and lipids which make a fatty layer. When this protective layer is depleted due to high vata, the flow of electrical signals in our bodies can be compromised.
Signs of vata in our nervous system include constipation, indecision, fear, dry skin, worry, and anxiety. When the myelin sheath is depleted, our physical bodies can respond in unfavorable ways that can be debilitating to our daily lives. Majja dhatu is the tissue layer that is made up of our nervous tissue and bone marrow.
While we are continuing to navigate the world pandemic and other stressors in our lives, we can look to Ayurveda for tools to calm our nerves and handle any situation with ease and groundedness.
Check out Beverly’s video on Vata Dosha for more information on vata dosha.
Keep calm and carry on!
Winter is the time for hibernating.
No matter your prakruti, or unique constitution, we all can feel the effects of the winter season. With shorter days and less access to the sun, winter embodies kapha qualities; cold, heavy, slow, liquid. It is important to consider how we are managing our daily routine to balance the influence these qualities may have on our health. As we are in the thick of the holiday season, let’s add some light to our winter days!
I like to bake this simple veggie recipe on cold days:
Set oven to 425 degrees. Rinse and cut: 2 white potatoes, 2 sweet potatoes, 2 broccoli heads, 3 peeled red beets, 3 carrots, large handful of brussel sprouts halved, 8 cloves of unpeeled garlic, drizzle olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, rosemary, and thyme. Bake for 1 hour, stirring vegetables every 15 minutes until evenly roasted.
Wishing you all an amazing holiday season and happy new year!
Allowing your body to simply reset can be a great way to prepare for winter hibernation and make space for deep nourishment. Consider a simple, 3-day cleanse this fall to remove toxins from the body and strengthen your agni, or digestive system.
According to Ayurveda, the most important aspect of where health originates is the state of our agni (digestive fire). If we have a strong digestive system, we can process, absorb, and assimilate our foods. Unprocessed foods can lead to disease as the accumulation of doshas circulate throughout the body and lodge into weak spots, or kavya-gunas, of our organs and tissues. Having a strong agni can also relate to our mental and emotional being. If we are not absorbing or processing our thoughts and feelings, these energies can also lodge in our bodies and create disease.
Cleansing is the ideal way to buck up our immune system to stay well during the winter months.
Here are 3 simple, yet profound tips for a 3-day cleanse:
1. Kitchari. A mixture of basmati rice, mung bean and spices, offers supportive proteins and easy-to-digest food so that our bodies can focus on detoxifying. Try eating kitchari for two meals a day during a 3-day cleanse. You can add doshic appropriate veggies to get mineral and nutrients.
2. Take it easy! One of the best ways to allow your body to adjust to the changing seasons and detox during this short cleanse is to keep physical activities and physical strain to a minimum. Add simple yoga postures and breathing exercises to your daily routine. Give it 15 minutes of stretching and breathing with at least 5-10 minutes of meditation. Relax and rejuvenate! We are not only cleansing our bodies, but our minds. Journaling or emotional expression, like moving your body through dance, can be a great way to move unprocessed thoughts and emotions out of the body.
3. Triphala. Triphala is an amazing, gentle blend of three dried fruits that help the body remove toxins, including scraping the colon so that minerals can be absorbed better. This allows the body to absorb nutrients from our foods to remain healthy, and happy. One teaspoon a day on an empty stomach can help eliminate and help restore regular bowl movements. Vata doshas are better at soaking the herbs for at least a few hours before drinking.
Happy cleansing! And remember, keep it simple. The more we can keep our detoxing and cleanses simple, the more our bodies can rest and rejuvenate. Be well!
Thursday is ruled by Jupiter.
Jupiter, or Guru, is expansive, generous, and joyful in nature. Guru is considered the most benefic planet. Jupiter is Guru because he is the spiritual teacher who advocates for good will in the world. He bestows bounty, good luck, and shows generosity wherever he is placed in your chart. He represents creativity, philosophy, and intelligence; a well-placed, healthy Jupiter will show capabilities of obtaining higher education and intelligence. Jupiter indicates that which makes us genuinely happy and where we find fulfillment in life.
Sagittarius and Pisces are ruled by Jupiter.
A weak or debilitated Jupiter can make someone too optimistic and unable to logically make wise decisions. A lack of caution can create vulnerability to be deceived by others. A weak Jupiter can allow for someone to overspend or extend their resources. There may be some bad luck or issues with authorities. The expansive part of Jupiter can bring in too many #highereducation #teacher material goods into someone’s life and place too much emphasis on objects. A person can get lost in materialism.
A person with a strong Jupiter will be fun loving, joyous, and jolly!
“When Jupiter is with us, all life, all the universe is with us, for he is that cosmic and Devine beneficence” – David Frawley