5 Ayurveda Tips on how to stay balanced during the Holiday Season

 It really seems that the season comes each year earlier, some of us love this season some of us don’t. How are you feeling these days? Are you feeling the pressure when going to your local grocery store, anxiety and sleepless nights by overindulgence of your senses , dry skin or pain in your body, may be your routine is off and so is your schedule. Or are feeling filled with love, energy and gratitude ? Well,  Ayurveda can help you stay or get back on track as it addresses all these aspects. Ayurveda as the mother of all medicine can keep you connected to your body, mind and your spirit. 

During this Vata season (Air & Ether) specially for our west coast it has been very dry and cold. This Vata time of year brings a lot of movement, lightness and dryness not just into our body but also into our mind. Our 5 senses are over stimulated by, holiday music, sugary foods and alcoholic drinks, conversations and online gift shopping, not enough time to nourish ourselves.

I noticed myself a shift and completely forgot to take care of myself to nourish everyone else around me. It always helps me to ask myself these questions.  

Ask yourself these questions:

What 3 things can you do for yourself this Holiday season to stay balanced physically, emotionally and mentally? 

Where would you like to direct your energy to this holiday season ? 

How can you achieve this ? 

5 Tips to help you stay present and balanced

Breath slow and deep

close your eyes place one hand over your heart and one hand over your navel. Feel the natural breath flowing in and out of your nose. After about 10 cycles start to breath a bit deeper into your lungs and heart, feel this area and breath out gently and fully letting go of stagnation, blockages around your heart after 10 cycles take the breath gently from heart into the belly slow the breath down, slow the exhale down and relax for 10 more cycles.

Your breath is directly retaliated to your mind, slowing and deepening your breathing will calm your mind and remove mention from your body. 

Eat warm soft home cooked meals

 Eating whats in season, what the earth is providing will help you stay on tract with your digestion. Stews, Soups, Root Vegetables, Bone Soups, Diary, Nuts and Seeds will provide you with the oils and moisture the body needs to stay healthy. Stay away from dry foods, cold foods and anything that is too spicy , as it will dry you out even more. 

Drink warm drinks and limit alcohol

 Drinking warm drinks like warm lemon water, teas, chai teaand spiced milk it will keep you warm and remove toxins from your system. If you can't stay away from alcohol add a little to your favourite hot drink. 

Have a warm sweet oil soak 

 If you don't have time to give yourself a warm oil massage you can try this amazing SWEET SLEEP OIL SOAK - from the book “Your irresistible life” by Madhuri Philips and Glynnis Osher

This makes enough for 4 bath

1 cup of Epsom Salts

1 cup of Sea Salt

1/4 cup Sesame Oil

1/4 Almond Oil

20 drops Geranium EO

5 drops Clary Sage EO

5 drops Sweet Orange EO

Mix together and store in an airtight container glass jar. Use 1/2 cup aromatic oil soak in each bath. 

Give gratitude

We can easily forget all the things we have we are grateful for. We can get carried away by the consumerism and advertising. If you feel this overwhelm, stop, give gratitude for everything you feel grateful for in that moment. Write it down in a journal if you like this way it has a stronger energy and vibration. 

What to expect during an Ayurvedic Massage Therapy session !

If you never had one you might be wondering what is an Ayurveda Massage Treatment and how is it different from a regular massage. Well if you already had one you will know and most likely be in love this treatment that treats not just the body, but also the nervoussytem, brings deep nourishment to all the cells and tissues as well as the mind. I am using only the highest organic oils that are cooked with herbs that are specify for you and what you need in accordance with your imbalance or vikruti. Here is what you can expect during a treatment : 

This deeply relaxing massage brings nourishment to the tissues, cells and energy channels, deep relaxation to the muscles and calmness to the mind and nervous system. Because each of you is unique, special handcrafted organic oils from Banyan Botanicals  are used which are prepared with herbs to maximize the healing process. This is a whole body massage involving the back, arms, hands, neck, head, legs feet, hips. The oils are heated to a comfortable temperature. The oil is infused with Ayurvedic herbs for individual body-mind constitution composed of a Dosha, a combination of the five different elements.  Using Ayurvedic oils in massage is a potent contributor at maintaining harmony and balance. Due to the extremely small size of the oil molecule, Ayurveda oils penetrate the skin easily and transport the healing properties of nature, directly to the cells in the body. Oils used can vary depending on the season and the individual constitution (Dosha) all our oils used are organic and have a base of Sesame or Coconut Oil. This deeply healing therapy is beneficial for the nervous system and immune system and supports the healing of many disease in the body and mind.

Your Ayurveda massage treatment  will begin with a consultation. Together, we will go through a short, completely confidential health and lifestyle consultation prior to your first treatment. This is designed to identify your needs and expectations and will allow me to adapt the Ayurveda massage treatment to suit you. This will take around 15 minutes.                
This will then be followed by an Ayurveda massage treatment tailored to your requirements lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes. The oil is heated and applied directly to your skin. You will be covered with  soft sheets, blankets & towels throughout the treatment, and only the parts being massaged will be exposed, ensuring you feel warm and secure. For your own comfort it is best to remove all garments, jewelry and piercings  as otherwise oil may get in contact with them. Please let me know if there is any body part you wish not be to be massaged such as your chest/ breasts. Your Hair will also come in contact with the oils, the oils are good for your skin and hair and offer deep nourishment.
Please bear in mind that you may feel very relaxed after the treatment, so you may want to plan your activities following the treatment to match this feeling. Please allow an additional 15-20 minutes for all first treatments as part of the  consultation process prior to treatment. I will always try and make you feel relaxed, safe and comfortable throughout your treatment. 
Ayurvedic massage is MOST beneficial when combined with a complete Ayurvedic lifestyle, and is most complimentary when added to a conscious choice and pathway to greater health, and vitality in your life.

Other benefits are: 
Strengthens Immune System                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Nourishes the cells, tissues and energy channels                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Imparts softness, strength and color to the body
Decreases the effects of aging
Bestows good vision
Nourishes the body
Increases longevity
Benefits sleep patterns
Benefits skin
Strengthens the body’s tolerance
Imparts a firmness to the limbs
Imparts tone and vigor to the dhatus (tissues) of the body
Stimulates the internal organs of the body, increasing circulation
Pacifies vata and pitta

If you would like to try and Ayurveda Massage Therapy please contact me directly or Haven Yoga and Wellness in Abbotsford ( for Tuesday appointments). 

Are you bloated, have gas or a sluggish digestion? How do you eat your food ?

When I look around at restaurants , cafes and diners I notice many people are on their phones texting, or doing work on laptops and tablets while eating. How will this affect digestion, nutrient absorption and our energy we take from the food?  Sometimes it is more important how we eat our food then what we eat. Ayurveda Medicine understands that eating is one of the most sacred experiences we have. After all, when we eat our food, we are taking in the atoms and molecules that have been around in different forms since the beginning of time and asking them to become a part of us. If we eat our food properly, with awareness and respect, the food joins well with our bodies, cells and tissues. If we do not toxins also called ama will build up causing poor digestion, gas and bloating and even disease.

Remember that food is medicine and therefore be conscious of how you take in your food. By practicing healthy eating guidelines you could eliminate many symptoms.  Here are 5 tips for you to try next time you enjoy a meal. Also think about how the food came to your table in front of you, all the way from a seed to the table or from the animal being born, raised and prepared. How many people it took from the farmer to the cook to the waitress or the cook at your home. Why not take a moment to be grateful for everyone in that chain who made it possible for you to have this meal. We should also teach our children what it takes to grow and prepare food and to be present when we eat it.

  • Give gratitude or grace for the food by closing your eyes and taking 3 deep breath this will prepare the body to receive food
  • Eat in a clam environment with no cell phones, tv, radio or computer to be present when you are eating
  • Chew your food properly this will help absorption of nutrients and aid in digestion
  • Eat at a mediate pace until you are 75% Full and satisfied, overeating the cause of many diseases in our society
  • Allow for the food to digest for 15 -20 min before going on with your next activity if you are in a rush close the ritual by taking 5 deep breath 

Remember that Food is medicine and you eat to receive nourishment. 

 

What is Ayurveda? The Mystery solved ......

What is Ayurveda ?

Lots of people ask me what is Ayurveda……

My husband was the first one to comment ‘ you need to come up with a simple explanation of what Ayurveda is’. Yes he is right I realized that lots of people I talk to think that Ayurveda involves eating Indian Food, drink your morning pee or sit for hours in meditation. I was surprised the perception of this ancient medical system that is over 5000 years old. 

Ayurveda is derived from two root words - Ayu - Life and Veda - Knowledge so it means the Knowledge of Life.  Ayurveda is an inclusive healing system and the mother of all medicine, it understands everything through the qualities of the 5 Elements, Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Ayurveda  Medicine is a timeless and tested over thousands of years science that is still being used today because they work.

 In our today busy lives it takes most of us a wake up call, an accident or a sickness or the loss of a loved one, to realize that we are out of balance. We must first become aware of the fact that we are out of balance before we are inspired to make a change. What is health ? The Sanskrit word for health is ‘Svastha’ and it definition means - Established in Self. In our wold were everything is ‘I’ this and ‘ME’ that it is rather ironic that people are more disconnected from ‘self’ as ever before. This start with our toddles now using devises that plug them out from the real world and nature. Take a moment and ask yourself are you established in self? Are you connected to Self? 

According to Ayurveda perfect health is the end result of both positive self esteem ( healthy ego ) as well as spiritual Self- awareness ( connection to the soul). Both are important for the production and maintenance of good health. Perfect health exists where there is harmony between a persons unique makeup of the 5 Elements (Prakruti) and the environment, this can only be achieved if a person is in tune with the 5 senses and choses to interact with the environment that supports his/her nature.

Ayurveda defines true health or wellbeing as the proper alignment of body, senses and soul. Ayurveda makes us aware of our place in the world of nature through movement of time. It teaches us how to harmonize ourselves with sunrise and sunset, the seasons of the year and the stages from birth through death. 

The most powerful aspect is that Ayurveda  is not a one size fits all medical system but rather it sees each individual as unique. No person is exactly the same and what can heal one person could hurt another. No one will experience a symptom in the same way as each person has a different makeup of the 5 elements . When a symptom is present in an individual Ayurveda will look at the qualities of the symptom as well as the quality or make up of that person. To treat the person Ayurveda will utilizes opposite qualities to heal body, mind and spirit. Treating the root cause of a disease rather then covering up with a bandaid method. 

"People need to stop looking outside of themselves for healing as it is already all inside of them”. 

Having studied Ayurveda Medicine more closely for the past 3 years with the California College of Ayurveda, Dr. Lad from the Ayurvedic Institute and Madhuri Philips in Vancouver I have learned so much about my own self and healing. There was one thing surely stuck with me ,one of my mentors Dr. Halpern from the California College of Ayurveda said” the journey to becoming a Clinical Ayurveda Specialist is a journey towards discovering the healer and the teacher that resides within you. A path that first and foremost requires self examination and self observation”. True it has been a journey and it continues as it does for all of us.

The most beautiful thing about Ayurveda is that it meets everyone where they are at and all of us can take one step to healing ourselves, one thing each day that has a ripple effect and will move into all of our tissues and cells. Take 2 min to sit in silence, or eat without looking at your phone, stop and smell the flowers, or simply try to breath a little bit deeper. To find a deeper connection to your self and what supports you start by observing nature you will realize that you are nature. See the 5 Elements and realize that everything on this planet is made up from the 5 Elements and then see that we are all unique combinations made up out of these 5 Elements and that learning what supports you by living a live in rhythm with nature, using your 5 senses in such way that supports you. As when disease is present we have forgotten our true nature in spirit and Ayurveda can bring us back in balance. For me it sums it up in just a a few words:

‘LIVING LIFE IN RYTHM WITH NATURE TO SUPPORT YOURSELF AND ALIGN WITH YOUR UNIQUE SELF’.

 

Ayurveda has Therapies that bring us back in balance 

Diet and Herbs that support your unique make up

Ayurveda Massage and Marma Therapy 

Sight Therapy - Chromotherapy

Sound Therapy - Mantra, Music, Kirtan , Singing 

Aromatherapy 

Ayurveda Yoga to support your unique make up, season and time of day 

If you are interested to find out more please contact me at any time.                                                                                                In my next article I will wright about the 3 Medical Text books of Ayurveda Medicine. 

The 3 Gunas in Yoga & Ayurveda. Part 1 : The qualities of the Gunas

SATTVA - Still Lake 


 Guna is the subtlest quality in nature and exists in all human beings, in various grades of concentration and combination, moving in different physical, emotional and mental levels. Basically, they are three qualities that compose the universe.
The personality of an individual is not only a function of his/her constitution but also of his/her Karma. As Samskaras create personality tendencies and determine on a fundamental level how a person will react to a situation. Samskaras exist to assure the opportunity that people will create circumstances in their lives that allow them to learn the lessons of there Karma. According to Ayurveda it is so possible to determine the general state of a person's consciousness . Ayurveda uses the language of the GUNAS to express that state. 
The 3 states are : 

CLARITY - SATTVA - LIGHT
DISTURBANCE - RAJAS - ACTIVITY
IGNORANCE - TAMAS - DARK

The state of the Gunas present within a persons consciousness is reflected in the mind. The dominant Guna is a reflection of the evolution of the soul as it grows from ignorance to awareness to transcendence. 

SATTVA - STILL LAKE - lets you look inside the lake and the clouds reflect on the surface.
clarity, purity in the mind
mind and consciousness are unattached to the physical world ( surrender own ego)
sattvic individuals don't get caught up in stories and dramas of the world
sattvic individuals know they are god 
full of faith , non judgement and unconditional love 
Sattva happens within not outside
RAJAS - RIPPLED LAKE - like a rock that has been thrown into a lake it has highs and lows on the surface and inside the lake
 
turbulence & activity brings distractions
believe that we are body, mind and senses
may be caught up in dramas of self improvement and may be unhappy
may be physically and emotionally disturbed
mind is always moving with climses highs and lows
TAMAS - THE MURKY LAKE - like stirring up the mud at the bottom of the lake 
 
darkness, inertia, ignorance
individual has forgotten true nature in spirit
Ignorance is a thin veil that may break emerging in stress and trauma 
little self awareness, self inquiry or deep thinking ( deep feelings are repressed) 
the mind is dull and ignorant of its connection to god therefore light is obstructed
This will give a bit more inside on the qualities of the 3 Gunas in the next issue I will be providing examples for our daily lives like FOOD, WORK, YOGA, RELATIONSHIPS, PLACES, PEOPLE and how the Gunas interact with the Doshas in an individual . 

What is 'AGNI' ? How is your digestion?

 Agni means 'FIRE' and according to Ayurveda it is responsible for our digestive fire in our belly.  It also denotes the digestive fire which regulates temperature, performs digestion, absorption, and assimilation of ingested food, and transforms food into energy or consciousness.

We all have different levels of 'AGNI'. Some of us have a high agni and digest our food very fast while others have low agni nd digest food very slowly. You can slo have a veriable agni and this case sometimes your agni is high and sometimes low. 

Western medicine often assumes our digestion is powerful enough for everything. All we need to do is to chuck the right foods and drinks down our system and it will take care of it effectively. It doesn't take into account our individual levels of agni, that may be too high or too low.

When we have good agni, we have optimal digestive powers. We have a good appetite, and when we eat the right foods for our dosha, ojas is created from the food. If agni is too high (as is the case of unbalanced Pittas), we have too much acid being produced which leads to over-acidity of the body and further complications from that, including stomach ulcers. If we have too little agni (as is the case Kaphas), food is only partially digested and ama ( toxins) is produced in the body, essentially gunking everything up. This can lead to some serious health concerns, such as cancer and diabetes. In a veritable agni ( in unbalanced Vata) you see it change from high to low and vice versa. 
If we have weak digestion, it is important to increase agni so that we don't get sick. In general we can do this by adding digestive herbs and spices into our meals such as Ginger, cardamon, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Eating a thin slice of ginger with rock salt on it before every meal is meant to be very good for digestion. 

Here are some tips to keep your agni balanced:

1. Eat only when you are hungry 

2. Never over-eat, your stomach
 should feel gently satisfied and never full (about 2/3 of capacity is ideal)

3.Sip drinks gradually, do not gulp down glasses

4.Drink room temperature or preferably warmer water

5. Cook with herbs and spices (they make your food easier to digest and absorb). Ginger is especially good for digestion, but others include black pepper, cumin, coriander, mint, basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme

6. Eat warm or room temperature food, never straight from the fridge

Agni Tea is a simple beverage that helps to regulate and stimulate your digestive capacity, improving all the functions of digestive agni.

Agni Tea Recipe

1 quart    Water
1 pinch    Cayenne
2 handfuls    Minced ginger root
2 Tbs.    Sucanat or other sweetener
1 to 2 tsp.    Rock salt

Bring all of the above ingredients to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes.
Take the pot off the burner and cool for a few minutes
Add the juice of 1/2 lime. Do not boil the lime juice.
Pour into a thermos and enjoy throughout the day

Moving from Summer into Autum

 Ayurvedic routine to reduce vata 

As we move from the hot and dry Pitta season of summer into the windy, cooler, light Vata season of Autumn, a time were leafs drop off the trees and storms arrive, the natural guidelines for autumn revolve around pacifying vata dosha. 

 

  1. Try and wake up before 5:00 am when the air is clear and calm and the birds are still resting, there is an extraordinary peace and silence at that time of day 
  2. A perfect time to sit in meditation for 5 - 10 min before massaging your body oil
  3. Oil Massage 
  4. Hot shower/bath
  5. Yoga Asana - good postures to pacify Vata are : Lotus , forward bends, backbends,  Vajrasana ( sitting on heels ), Spinal twist, camel, cobra, cow & cat, shoulder stand & headstand, Sun Salutation a min of 12 rounds and a max of your age ( you may have to build up to this) Finish your Yoga session with Savasana for at least 10 min. Sun Salutation aid in detoxification in combination with twists to create some heat and moisture in the body, tissues and muscles. 
  6. Have some breakfast - eat some warm and moist breakfast like oatmeal, cream of rice/wheat/tapioca or any grain that will help settle Vata - avoid dry breakfast like toast & cereal.  Lunch / Dinner  steamed vegetables, rice and mung dal kitchari, any soups, stews are great and add some ghee. Avoid Salads , cold drinks, coffee, alcohol, black tea after dinner , Drink herbal tea in the evening like fennel, cumin, or ginger cinnamon glove tea. Avoid fasting during autumn as it creates too much lightness & emptiness in the body that will aggravate vata. 
  7. Dress warmly enough indoors and outdoors, stay warm, on a windy gusty day cover your head and ears
  8. Go to bed around 10 PM - drink a cup of warm milk ( almond /soy ) adding a pinch of ginger or cardamon will help with digestion during sleep and sooth and relax your body
  9. An excellent way to remove Vata in your body is panchakarma ( detoxification program ) during the time between summer and autumn - see your Ayurvedic Practitioner for more information 

How to keep your skin healthy this summer

Pitta-related imbalances include sunburn, rashes, acne, and a hot temper. Try these cooling, ayurvedic skincare tips when the temperatures rise.

Natures Footbath

walk in the morning dew barefoot, this will refresh your skin or the your feet, draw prana ( life energy) up from the soles into your body. Done every morning this will keep you cool, calm and refreshed throughout your day.

Sunburn

Juice fresh cilantro and drink two teaspoons three times a day. Apply the cilantro pulp to your sunburn; it’s cooling and soothing. Aloa Vera Gel is also cooling for your skin when burned or you can try Cucumber juice or yoghurt for cooling your burnt skin.

Bug Bites 

One of my teachers Dr. Vasant Laad suggest applying equal parts tea tree oil and neem oil (available online) to itchy bug bites. Neem oil is aslo a great bug repellent. It works I tried it ....

 

 

Ayurveda tips on how to stay 'cool' this summer

Summer is Pitta Time. According to ayurveda, the qualities of summer are hot, sharp, and penetrating. That's why our pitta dosha-the subtle energy that controls metabolism and can cause us to overheat-tends to flare up when the temperatures rise. 

 

Take an Ayurvedic Sunbath 

take a 10-15 min walk at sunrise, this will help the body's production of vitamin D-a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in calcium absorption and is a great mood lifter similar to serotonin and melatonin and promotes creativity and joy. 

 

Drink lots of Fluid

stay hydrated by drinking at least 8 -10 glasses of water, to help fatigue add a pinch of salt its ok during the hot summers to replenish the bodies loss through sweating.

 

Eat cooling foods 

the best pitta pacifying foods are leafy greens, cucumber, coconut and melons. Adding some parsley or cilantro to your meals will help move toxins out. Avoid spicy foods , coffee, during hot days.

 

Adjust your bedtime routine

Its ok to stay up a little later during the summer, Sleep on your right side to open your left nostril, which corresponds to the ida nadi, the subtle energy channel that corresponds to the cooling moon. 

 

Keep your skin moist 

In a bottle mix coconut oil and a drop of mint oil together and warm it up. Apply right after your shower to keep your skin cool, hydrated and moisturized.