HIV AND HIV RELATED INFLAMMATION ARTICLE (PART 1)

I am proud to share this article that was originally written as a 42 page paper for the California College of Ayurveda.  This topic touches me deeply and personally on many levels. 

This article was reformed into the current article and is posted with permission from the Ayurveda Journal of Health.

Reference:

Ayurveda Journal of Health

Spring 2018

Volume 16, Issue 2 ISSN 2372-1804

ARTICLE ON HIV

 

OPTIMIZING HEALTH THROUGH A TRIPOD OF HEALTH SUPPORT: YOGA, PERSONAL TRAINING, AND MASSAGE

I remember many years ago, the first time since I was in undergraduate, I set foot in a gym to work with a personal trainer and have had over a decade of experience with yoga. I walked in and told the trainer what my goals were which were to simply build some muscle and gain more tone. I told him that he shouldn't work my body like he does other clients due to the efficiency my body has access to due to my yoga and Ayurvedic practices. He looked at me with inquisitiveness and some disbelief. This trainer began his protocol with me and within a couple sessions, he had noticed how quickly my body was responding to the exercises he was suggesting. He was surprised and asked me how I was able to do all this. I reminded him of my strong foundation in yoga and Ayurveda.  Yoga provided tools needed with breath, body, and mind. Ayurveda created a context of understanding my constitution and the best diet aligned with the physical exercises for both the yogic aspect of my practice as well as the personal training exercises. 

This has been an article in the making for some time but recently I have felt inspired to complete it and put it out there. Over the years, I have worked with many individuals that have been personal trainers and/or seeing personal trainers. With this experience I have been able to support them with their optimal goals of health and fitness, maximizing the potential, and increasing the effectiveness of their intentions, exponentially.  I have had the honor of supporting individuals in gaining amazing results with simple considerations and some "tweaking" here and there as a means of refinement.  Trainers that I have worked with had their diets cleaned up. I initially noticed significant deficits in this department that have shown up as specific symptoms such as digestive symptoms, sleep issues, bad breath, inflammation, and overall nervous system and mind agitations/afflictions as a result of the general regimens supported. Patients I have seen would carry out this pattern as well. 

I truly love the intention of increasing awareness about health and yoga and Ayurveda has been highly valuable and unique, providing a profound approach to health and well being.

This "Tri-Pod of Health Support" concept and practice has been my own creation based on my numerous experiences.  The Tri-Pod consists primarily of Yoga, Personal Training, and Massage.  Since my yoga training is strongly interwoven with Ayurveda, based on classical training, the components of Diet and Sleep automatically fall into the Tri-Pod by nature. Ayurveda is a vast complete holistic science and art of living.  Furthermore, Ayurveda brings with it a whole body of knowledge and experience that takes everything to a whole other level of consciousness and effectiveness, by far and more than any other system available. 

YOGA

Most people are familiar with yoga but the yoga I am referring to is more of the traditional uses of the asana's (physical practices) that aren't rooted in outward intensity or goal-driven practices such as obtaining abs; let alone the yoga that reflects gymnastic/olympic/athletic type of protocols. Yoga as a serene practice for increasing and/or heightening a persons inner and outer experiences with the body, mind, and spirit. Yoga in the form I am referring to involves a different quality that invites us to really get to know ourselves and cultivate our inner wisdom. The many asanas of yoga are designed to access different parts of our body that no other physically driven practice has been devised.  Yoga is a complete practice, especially when it is connected with Ayurveda, in many ways that grant us an ability to maximize our performance when combined with other regimens and traditions. I encourage it to be a firm foundation for other practices to combine with it. 

Within yoga, there are various forms.  Generally, Ayurveda would categorize practices according to an individuals' constitution. For instance,  Vata and Pitta predominant types benefit best from Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin, and Restorative. Kapha predominant types are best served by Kundalini, Ashtanga, Anusara, and Hot Yoga.  It can be more specific than this based on individual needs and desires but still integrated with the principles of Ayurveda in order to optimize the approach to balance and well-being.  When we get more into the idea of intensity type of practices than there are various degrees of how this can be interpreted. For instance, a Pitta predominant individual may resist a balancing practice that isn't as intense because of the like intensity. This intensity for them could further imbalance them. Additionally,  a calming practice could seem to be challenging since these individuals enjoy the intensity and the opposite quality can seem less so, but it is ironic to consider the understanding that an intense person would be challenged by slowing down. Hence, why Ayurveda would say this is better. This is a different interpretation to "personal training."

PERSONAL TRAINING

Personal training offers many benefits that are different in ways to yoga.  Personal training helps with increasing mobility, building muscle, strengthening cardio function through vigorous exercises, tones muscle and burns fat, and addresses metabolism in its own way. Within the model of personal training there tends to be a diet/nutrition component as well that is typically rooted in FDA approved standards and general modern scientific and time-tested contributions. Individuals that tend to follow personal training sessions also have a generally good outlook on themselves and life. They may have higher self-esteem and confidence as a result of seeing how their body changes with some diet and exercise programs. Within the model of personal training, there isn't the understanding of individual constitutional needs as indicated in Ayurveda but an overall assessment is done with the individual to match the needs of the individual and the determining qualities that a practitioner of this model would be driven by that sculpt the overall path for the individual to follow. 

MASSAGE

Massage is an interesting and important asset to the practices of yoga and personal training. Yoga and personal training sessions involve a certain level of proactive engagement for the most part. In that, when moving through the exercises of yoga (except for moments of savasana, the relaxation pose) and when engaging in workout techniques there is an actual involvement.  Massage, on the other hand, you're simply laying on a table, breathing, and focusing on letting go and surrendering while someone is working with the body. This in and of itself is an important act because it encourages a level of relaxation and integration that is provided by another individual, as well as a different type of molding to the body. While on a massage table, the lymphatic system can be encouraged in a different way. The muscles after firing can come into a calm and quieter state. The parasympathetic system is strongly supported when an individual can surrender and let go.  "Working out the kinks" is usually easier when on a massage due to a hands-on approach. This increases overall functionality and efficiency of the body. 

There are many types of massages ranging from subtle to deep techniques; such as swedish, intuitive, shiatsu, thai, rolfing, and deep tissue.  Finding a massage therapist that you can connect with and that has a holistic approach and/or works well with holistic approaches can best meet you and support the desired outcomes. 

DIET/NUTRITION

Yoga has Ayurveda for diet. Yoga by itself is traditionally emphatic of being vegetarian. Yoga with Ayurveda says that this may not be true for everyone and that individual needs are met based on the understanding of an individuals constitution according to the three Doshas (biological humors) called Vata, Pitta, Kapha. Configurations of these doshas vary and in addressing them an individual can develop an ideal plan that fits their uniqueness. Diet is an important contribution of Ayurveda because of this, and within the context of diet, metabolism can be properly supported. In Ayurveda, when the proper diet is in place then there is no need for medicine. Ayurveda has it figured out! There is no one size fits all approach because of the awareness around Vata, Pitta, Kapha. There is a common saying that "you are what you eat" but in Ayurveda it is corrected to "you are what you digest." Ayurveda isn't focused on caloric intake, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats/lipids. It is focused on seasonal eating, eating per your constitution which also takes into account metabolism.  Metabolism is about transformation.  It is the dividing factor between Anabolism and Catabolism. Anabolism involves the building up of something and Catabolism is about breaking down. Transformation, which is Metabolism, can be guided to either the direction of building or reducing of tissue.  Hence, why any type of physical (and even mental activities) can be converted for one thing or another. 

So much of Ayurveda goes into the breakdown of diet and nutrition. Ayurveda does not focus on calories, fats/lipids, protein, and carbohydrates.  There is so much more to diet than these simple categories can account for. First is foremost, in Ayurveda, we look at who is coming in to see is.  We determine their constitutional configurations of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.  We assess what is predominant and this will lead us practitioners to understanding the basic foundation of an individual's metabolic constitution. This is the platform we spring from in order to move forward and create a holistic approach and protocol to increase balance.  Vata predominant individuals tend to have a variable appetite.  Pitta predominant individuals have a strong steady and reliable appetite. Kapha predominant types have a sluggish appetite.  

Within the model of personal training, the idea and intention are to somehow meet individuals where they are at and have them meet a certain standard that is equal across the board, more or less.  This, according to Ayurveda, has the tendency to miss the understanding who the person is and what they are individually capable of. In Ayurveda, we believe that there isn't a set standard or one-size-fits-all approach.  Additionally, in attempting to do so, other imbalances can more likely occur later on down the road. 

The usage of protein powders and synthetic fillers to give the individual that extra boost or push in their body is actually contraindicated in the natural performance of the body.  When the metabolism isn't truly seen for what it is in the individual, when this piece is missing from their overall assessment and protocol, then imbalances are more likely to occur. I have worked with many personal trainers that have symptoms that are based in unclean digestion. Unclean digestion can come from poor sleep habits, poor eating habits/regimens, and the quality of food/nutritional support is actually at a deficit. I have worked with trainers that may look great on the outside but their insides are rotting. Their breath would smell foul,  indicative  tongue coating, there was an increased level of inflammation and acidity, sleep disturbances, restless mind, digestive symptoms such as constipation or loose stools, even a slight to moderate discoloration in their skin.  These are all symptoms of significant imbalance and as Ayurvedic practitioners, we seek to prevent and undo such symptoms because we know that the long-term effects of such things can spiral into other health issues.

Simply regimenting the meals according to proper times of days that have already been created by nature, and by following the natural flow of the day itself and aligning with the circadian rhythm can also invite an optimal foundation for health.  For instance,  here are some basic points to consider and guidelines to follow in order to better serve overall health with the intention of deepening into balanced practices:

1) Breakfast is not the main meal of the day. Breakfast is about "breaking a fast." This fast has occurred as a result of the natural 24-hour cycle of the day where the last meal was around 7 pm the night before.  Those following hours that lead up to rest, include rest, and exist around waking time, are the natural breaks in a day to help encourage metabolism. You see, when we first awaken, the body detoxes the remaining residue that the body didn't need from the previous day. On another level, this is a way the body encourages letting go of the past, becomes more present, and paves the way for the future. When we first wake up in the morning, ideally, we poop, we pee, we spit up things like mucous, we cleanse the body through baths/showers, and we begin a whole new day.  Breakfast is light in order to support this process, if at all. Vata predominant types can/should eat a small balanced meal. Pitta predominant individuals can eat a heartier meal. Kapha predominant types can either skip breakfast (having tea, broth, or a very light type of meal.) The  best time for breakfast is by 8 am (plus or minus.) The digestive enzymes are weak in the morning after a night of processing yesterday's stuff and rest. 

2) Lunch is the main meal of the day and the most important. It has been too often the case that individuals have told me that they skip lunch, or that they have a smoothie or power bar to supplement lunch, or even do yoga or exercise during lunch time. This is counter-intuitive to the body and very harmful in fact. Lunch is the main meal of the day.  Digestive enzymes are at its peak at this time and if we override this natural process of the day and replace it with any activity that is other than a meal, then we have created a huge window for imbalances to lead to disease.  The window for lunch is between 10 and 2, ideally noon (ish.) Smoothies with protein powder do not count as meals. Nor do power bars or any other power drink.  This is not correct information for the body to receive. The cells tell the story over time of such neglect. Smoothies in the case of personal training could be okay in between meals when necessary but that is based on a case by case basis.

3) Dinner is a lighter meal. Ideally, no later than 7 pm. Should dinner be later, then it should also be lighter in order not to interfere with metabolism that occurs from the last meal of the day to the first meal of the next day, which brings us back to breakfast.  I've told many patients to consider dinner as a mini lunchtime. The digestive enzymes are not as strong as lunch, usually, but are stronger than breakfast time enzymes, and therefore, the volume at mealtime should be half of whatever lunch was.  Additionally, the later the meal, the lighter it should be.

4) Liver time is to be loved.  The liver becomes very active at night time around 10 pm, which is why it is ideal to be in bed around this time in order not to impede upon its job which is to clean up the day for us and get us ready for the next one.  Dr. John Douillard, a colleague, and teacher of mine shared a story about the liver saying that the liver at night is like the night time janitor that is designed to clean up the office building after a long and busy day, but when business meetings are still happening the janitor will either come back later or not at all and the building will not be cleaned up for the next day. Similarly, staying up at night into the later hours has been shown to affect metabolism by decreasing it, and in increasing inflammation to say the least. Additionally, this has also been found to affect the quality and duration of sleep, which will be discussed in the next section.  Late night eating isn't ideal. Eating heavy meals isn't ideal. Check out this article HERE to learn more about how a daily structure can be created to optimize performance of mind and body, and prevent imbalances from developing. 

5) Fasting occurs naturally during the daytime, three times a day. Breakfast as previously mentioned is an example of the natural fasting time that happens between the last meal of the day and the first meal of the next day, while we are sleeping and the liver is metabolizing. The next fasting period is between breakfast and lunch, and generally consists of a time span of 4 hours. Then, the next fasting period occurs between lunch and dinner, which ranges anywhere from 4-5 hours from lunch.  During these periods the body may signal that it is "hungry" and in Ayurveda we observe this and question with these three questions: did I have a complete and balanced previous meal? (yes or no) Am I adequately hydrated? (yes or no)  If I'm not sure of the difference, then drink a mug of warm water. If the feeling of hunger disappears, then it was thirst. You see, the same mechanism in the brain that determines hunger determines thirst.  If the feeling of hunger remains, then the previous meal wasn't balanced. Did I have good sleep last night? (yes or no)  Good sleep supports optimal digestion. Poor sleep negatively affects digestion, causing hormonal imbalances, cravings for sweets or any substance that "boosts" energy. Additionally, poor lunch meals can also affect hormones, increase cravings, and affect sleep. HERE is a article I wrote recently regarding dieting/fasting/detoxing. 

In giving in to the cravings, the body's fasting period is thwarted.  The laziness of waiting some time for the body's' natural processes to kick in can cause long-term harm. If we wait 20 minutes for the feeling of hunger to go away, the body will kick in to metabolize and convert the necessary supplies into usable forms of fuel.  The body actually wants to do this. It tends to store what it needs from our nutrient intake for later to be used as needed. This is how the body is self-regulating and amazingly efficient. The body has an amazing intelligence if we give it a chance and learn to listen to it better. 

6) Exercise and diet must be balanced. Exercise of any kind is imbalanced without an adequate diet. Similarly, diet alone can not fully balance the body when exercise is missing. They are mutually inclusive and necessary for our overall well being. There's not getting around it or avoiding it, if we are honest with ourselves. The current state of the typical westernized lifestyle is lazy. More eating happens, while more sedentary practices grow. This is not correct. The body is meant to be engaged on many levels.

7) Frozen beverages such as smoothies with ice are counter-intuitive. Once the ice is added to any beverage then we have now weakened digestion. It's like putting a wet blanket on a fire. Digestion is a fiery process and putting anything cold in the body creates an enormous amount of stress for the body, compromising health on so many levels. Just have the smoothie without the ice and it will make a huge difference.  Check out this article HERE regarding ice and cold foods and beverages. 

8) About smoothies, there is an understanding in Ayurveda that there should be more vegetables to fruit. Too much fruit can cause issues with blood sugar, even though exercise helps with metabolizing sugar. Why add any un-needed stress to the body and support its performance by helping it to work less hard.  For instance, to make 16 ounces of carrot juice, it takes (depending on the size of the carrots) a whole bag of carrots, but you wouldn't eat a whole bag of carrots in one sitting (usually), so why would you expect the body to take it in juice form. It's too much. We live in a culture of too much. Less is better than more.  Additionally, it is also important to remember that generally when smoothies are made they have either frozen fruits/vegetables and/or ice added. This is highly contraindicated and creates a serious metabolic dysfunction.  Ice is usually added as a filler but causes so much harm. Why would you want to put all that work into such a good workout and yoga practice but then add ice to a smoothie and undo a lot of that work on a digestive and cellular level?

9) Protein Powders are normally synthesized. On a fundamental and basic level of cellular intelligence and nutrition, the body really doesn't recognize most of the store-bought GNC protein mixes formulated in laboratories. It doesn't actually make sense to the body when we listen to it, versus force the issue and "force feed" the body to do something that it knows isn't ideal for it. There are natural protein powders that are manufactured that are healthier for the body. Even simply adding nuts to a smoothie can add protein naturally.  The body will express the difference and in the long run thank you in so many ways, one being great health inside and out. 

10) Portions are important during meal times. We get more nutrients absorbed into the body if we simply chewed more of our food, versus shovel and swallow.  By following better practices for eating,  the yoga practitioner and personal trainer, and personally trained individual will find amazing results with even less effort. Check out these guidelines for healthy eating HERE.

11) Incompatibility of foods is another important contribution of Ayurveda. Ayurveda has a great deal to share how foods are compatible with one another. For instance, cheese and sauce do not go together. Or, most fruits and yogurt do not work well together. It is a common idea that we must have fruits in our diet and think to take it with something like yogurt in the form of a smoothie but on a microcellular level, this can cause inflammation to develop and or increase due to the inherent qualities of fruit versus dairy. For the purposes of this article, I am referring to the incompatibility of meals and smoothies. On many occasions, I have seen clients of personal trainers and even personal trainers themselves indulging in the intake of having a smoothie with a meal. This is incorrect according to dietary guidelines and healthy eating practices of Ayurveda. First, because often is the case that smoothies are with ice and as we learned earlier that ice should not go in the body. Ice is mainly added as a thickening agent for smoothies otherwise smoothies would be more expensive.  Secondly, the damp cool/cold qualities of a smoothie combined with say an omelet or a sandwich (for that extra protein) is incorrect because, again, it's like putting a wet blanket on a fire and overwhelms digestion. One meal at a time. Meals themselves should be balanced, consisting of various ratios of proteins to grains to legumes to veggies. Too much is too much!

12) Supply and Demand is something essential to consider  with regard to observing progress and great health.  What is the food versus physical demand? Are you eating more and working out less? Are you working out more and eating less? Are you eating less and working out less? Are you eating and not working out? Are you working out and not eating healthily? What does the body need and what are we getting out of it?  Is the body getting less than what it needs in nutrition while physically active? If so, where is the nutrition coming from if it's not coming from food. More often than not, the body will take from itself what it isn't getting externally? We can determine the quality of healthy, inside and out, by how we treat ourselves. How we treat ourselves is rooted in how well are we able to truly listen to ourselves. This isn't about what we think but really from what we feel. We can use the mind to navigate us to those experiences that can support us if we listen quietly and closely.  What symptoms are present? This can tell us a lot.   HERE is an article about supply and demand, and how your body is your guide HERE. 

13) In this order, yoga can start the day to open up and warm up the body. Next can be the practices at the gym. Lastly, massage wraps it all up and integrates it. Diet is in between, and sleep pulls the entire day together.

SLEEP

Everyone needs it and there isn't anyone that doesn't, but it's not as simple as just going to bed anytime.  It's actually very specific.  Sleep is essential and getting to bed around 10 pm (no later than 11) will provide great balance to the body. The later someone stays up, the more the natural rhythms of the body are thrown off and the more this affects tomorrow by disrupting metabolism, increasing hormonal issues, cravings, and even affecting the next nights' rest. Sleep is a profound reset for the mind and body.  It's the place that we get to turn inward and let go of yesterday as we surrender into the unknown. Sleep brings us balance when it is adequate. Daytime sleep does not possess the same qualities of nighttime rest. There is no substitution for it.  HERE is a simple article I wrote on sleep some time ago.  

Therefore, with the level of importance that sleep possesses, it is contraindicated to work out at night. You see, the body begins to increase levels of melatonin around 2 pm and it peaks/surges in the body around 10 pm just as the liver becomes active. This is one of the main reasons why it is important to be in bed around 10 so that the natural sleep chemicals and processes are minimally disturbed. The liver increases its duties around sleep time.  We come inward to turn off for the day, while certain systems turn on to reorganize, recuperate, and realign for the next day. In the old days, before electricity was harnessed, there was a natural settling down for the day around the time of sunset.  Studies have shown that when people travel into nature and go hiking and camping, that the body naturally resets itself and becomes more harmonized. Stress levels come down as health and happiness increases. 

With the right exercise, in the right place during our daily routines, we can actually have better sleep.  It takes energy to fall asleep.  Ideally, according to Ayurveda, the best time to have a good work out is in the morning. The most efficient time of day to build muscle is before 10 am. 

Vigorous exercises and stimulating activities, that include intense yoga practices, late night yoga practices, non-calming/non-restorative yoga practices, and gym based/fitness based practices, at night time cause the body to go into the sympathetic response (flight or fight). Whereas, winding down for the day supports a parasympathetic response (unwind and harmonize.)  Many times, I've had friends say they do their workout at night and feel really good. I ask about sleep and they say that's good after a night workout BUT when I point out that they are straining the adrenals and causing depletion over long-term and connect it to why they feel deeply relaxed or an induced tiredness, they rethink it (usually) because they then learn that the tiredness is from fatigue and not a genuine usage of the body and honoring of its natural rhythms.  The quality of sleep is different when depletion has replaced the natural cycles of melatonin, serotonin, and cortisol responses to stress. 

It is important to note that if sleep has been inadequate then it is contraindicated to do any form of exercise, including yoga and any vigorous activities, but massage is good.  It is a priority to make sure rest is sufficient before any exercising regimen. Doing otherwise would cause more harm to the body than good.  Just get some rest firs! The body will be more productive and your health will be a sign of thank you in return.

In conclusion, integrating principles and practices of Ayurveda can optimize health in so many ways. By having a "Tripod of Health Support" consisting of yoga/Ayurveda, personal training, and massage, a complete integrated and holistic approach can be put in place to best support your life and keep things running amazingly for years to come. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you!

DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed by a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions. 

 

MORE ON SEASONAL ALLERGIES: FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Here we are again! It's that time of year and many individuals have been, are, and will be suffering from seasonal allergies.

You see, seasonal allergies are deeply rooted and not very simple of an issue to be addressed. According to Ayurveda, allergies generally are a condition of poor digestion, poor diet, poor lifestyle. Even with the understanding that there may be a genetic predisposition to allergies Ayurveda says that it is generally through diet and lifestyle that determines whether a gene is expressed or not. Similarly, a modern scientific approach to this concept is through Epigenetics. What are allergies? This is one way that Ayurveda defines them: the body's response to a substance(s) ("allergens") that are perceived as harmful and the body reacts to it by producing "antibodies." This is the "allergic reaction." Symptoms are then produced.

Often, it can vary how the body responds based on an individual's inherent constitution and whether there is already pre-existing toxicity in the body. If our digestion (Agni) is balanced, our toxins (Ama) are low or not present, and our immunity (Ojas) is healthy and strong, then health issues are least likely to occur. 

It is mainly through diet and lifestyle that we can become more susceptible to all sorts of conditions. In fact, this is another example of how we are a product of what we eat. Food can be either medicinal or poisonous depending on how it is taken, for who, and the when. Lifestyle is a whole other beast in and of itself. The irony is that if we have a stable diet, which should be the concrete part of our lifestyle that we don't sacrifice, then the lifestyle will have fewer consequences to experience. But when the diet is off in addition to the lifestyle, then it is no surprise that conditions arise as they do!

Lifestyle has a momentum that is based on the investment we have put into it. Lifestyle can be a part of how we live this human precious experience or it can be that dynamic of our human experience that shortchanges our health, even robbing us of it.  So often is the case that we don't have the time or make the time to take care of ourselves and then when we get hit with something we blame the something that happens versus take responsibility for the choices we make around not taking better care of ourselves. We are all doing the best that we can but one thing that Ayurveda teaches us is to use our health as a guide to determining our overall well-being and how it aligns with lifestyle. There is no blaming, only the opportunity to take a look at how we are feeling right now and how we would like to feel. Then assessing how it is that we can achieve a state of being better. What are we willing to sacrifice? Our health or aspects of our lifestyle that aren't serving us? It's not always easy to sit on this pivoting point but a good reminder is that we are good enough and deserving to feel amazing. Somewhere deep within is this desire. Therefore, it is up to us to make the choices and stick with them as much as possible. Right?

As far as seasonal allergies are concerned, this falls into the category of respiratory/upper respiratory ailments. Food sensitivities/allergies and other types of allergies are still influenced by the quality of digestion, as well as genetic factors, and stress. Ayurveda looks at the state of mind and digestion as being key components to understanding the nature of such conditions. Here's a link to another ARTICLE I wrote in the past about seasonal allergies. 

Here are some other key points to consider with regard to seasonal allergies:

1) DRYNESS is a factor and this begins as early as the beginning of winter when we are closed up indoors with heaters that are drying and humidifiers (hopefully cooler ones, versus warmer ones) are providing moisture in the atmosphere. This affects the mucous membranes of the entire body. In and out. The longer the exposure, the deeper the roots into pathology and when we emerge into the warmer air we see this deep dryness surfacing and attracting more of itself. Pollen is drying and can suck up the moisture in our sinus and on our skin.

2) COLD/FROZEN/ICE beverages are also actually astringent. For instance, after drinking a cocktail with ice (especially) the mucous membranes of the mouth are dryer. This leads to the tickle that is often felt in the back of the mouth, or even in the ears where we get that sort of itchy sensation. Cold/frozen/Ice anything also affects digestion but putting a damper on things and significantly reducing if not halting enzymatic activity causing food to be malabsorbed and turned into toxins. The liver is also affected. Immunity is affected. The respiratory tract is affected being that is it lined with millions of cells that are moist. COLD and DRY is what gives way to getting colds, cases of flu, viruses, and then some!

3) HEAVY diets can also suppress digestion and increase the likelihood of toxins. The lymphatic system gets backed up and like a house with the drainage systems being inundated the house itself suffers.

4) ALCOHOL consumption, especially as mentioned above regarding cold/ice/frozen, has a negative effect on health and immunity due to its fermentation and excess sugar combination. This alone increases, if not creates, an inflammatory process.

5) SMOKING..yes I had to write this, and not so much because of cigarette smokers that I know (even though it is common they suffer from seasonal allergies) but my pot smoker friends. Whether cigarettes or pot smoking, even vaping, this compromises the entire respiratory tract for too many reasons to list here but it's self-evident. Smoking anything dries up mucous membranes. Mucous membranes are there for many reasons such as protecting the tissues of the body, lubricating, thermoregulating, immune-regulating, so on and so forth.  Additionally, even the fact that smoke is heating as it is being taken into the mouth, throat, lungs, causes an increase in inflammation as well as dryness.

6) HYDRATION is important but doesn't happen with cold beverages and it doesn't completely occur with plain water. Plain water is a great anti-inflammatory and purifies the cells of the body but to fully hydrate some natural salt should be available. Water goes where salt goes. Salt takes water in and out of the cells and helps to hydrate the cells more effectively. Therefore, drinks that are like natural (I emphasize natural) gatorades and lemonades/limeades, even pure juice (1/4) to water (3/4) with 1/2 tsp. of sea salt is a better way to hydrate.

7) OIL everywhere. Oil is a fluid. The body is made up mostly of liquid but not all this liquid is actually water. Cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, interstitial fluid, cellular fluid, digestive fluids, blood-related fluids like blood itself and plasma, and lymphatic fluids, to name a few. Oil has an affinity with all these tissues and connects with phospholipid layers. Therefore, having proper oils in the diet such as ghee, coconut, flax, and olive are great sources. Some foods have natural fats such as butter, and some animal protein based foods. Additionally, supplements such as Fish Oils can be amazing in the right quantity and regular basis. Amazingly, Ayurveda applies oils in the ears, eyes, nose, mouth, on the skin, and even in the rectum for medicinal purposes. Check out the above link for more details.

8) EXERCISE gets things moving and this includes strengthening immunity. Overdoing exercise or doing the types of exercises that aren't aligned with an individuals constitution can also have a negative effect on health and cause immune and digestive compromise (though, both are interconnected.) According to Ayurveda, exercising in the morning and earlier part of the day is optimal.  The later the exercise, especially when it's contrary to the body's wisdom, such as after 8/9/10+ at night, this will increase inflammation, depletion, and hormonal imbalance in the long run.  Yet, proper exercise helps to regulate the whole body and strengthen immunity. 

9) ANXIETY has a drying effect. I have never heard anyone say "I feel warm and fuzzy while I'm anxious." Anxiety can also increase if there is dryness in the body. Then we are left with "what came first?" Anxiety is light in nature. It is ungrounded of an emotion. This can deplete the tissues. 

10) ANGER, due to its heating nature, can also be drying and overall consuming, causing the body to turn against itself if it isn't expressed properly. This suppressed heat is like the rubbing of two sticks to create heat as per the friction. Similarly, this inner pressure can cause dryness and increase inflammation.

11) MUCOUS is not necessarily the enemy!  The body has a lot of natural sources of this. Usually, a post nasal drip is the body's response to the root cause which is the dryness. It is the body's natural way to remedy the dryness. If you address the dryness, the mucous will balance itself. Here we can examine even the quality of the mucus. If the mucus is clear and lighter, this is more of a Vata type of mucus. If the mucus is thicker and yellow/green, this relates to Pitta and indication of infection. (Especially if there is blood in the mucus)  If the mucus is thicker and more white, this is Kapha type of mucus. Assessing the mucous can be a beneficial way of getting to the root of imbalance and remedies for health. Furthermore, when inflammation is being created or provoked, the body's natural response is to produce mucus to resolve it and attempt to regain homeostasis. If the root of inflammation is addressed, the mucus will balance itself out in the long run. 

12) SLEEP is a natural anti-inflammatory when we are asleep at the right time which involves being in bed around 10 (optimally.)  The later we stay up, the likelihood of increased inflammation since we are stressing the liver and nervous system. This also affects immunity. It compromises our diet/appetites, increasing cravings for things such as coffee, sweets, treats, and general comfort foods.  The body is compensatory and is always looking to maintain homeostasis which includes even looking outside of itself when it can't find within itself the resources it needs or the resources within that it can not for some reason access. Sleep reorganizes the body. According to Ayurveda, Vata's benefit from around 8-9 hours sleep (but not always easy for the Vata predominant types to access it. ) Pitta's benefit from around 7, and Kapha's around 6 hours. It's easy for Kapha predominantly types to sleep more. Pitta's can benefit from 7-8 and this helps them to feel calmer, and cooler (but not if they're up until midnight or later)  Daytime sleep has nowhere near the quality or benefits of nighttime sleep. So make sure that the rest is taken into account as a priority. 

13) GENERAL REMEDIES include being mindful of and avoiding the root cause or causes that create the opportunity for such conditions to arise.  Balancing DIET, Balancing SLEEP, Balancing EXERCISE, HERBS (such as Ashwagandha, Licorice, Guduchi, Haritaki, Amalaki, Triphala, Turmeric, Ginger, Manjistha, Goldenseal, and Echinacea.) Vitamins such as D, B-Complex, C, can be helpful in immune strengthening. Minerals such as zinc, iron, and magnesium are helpful overall. Even cultivating sexual/creative energy can be helpful in the long-run to the balance of an immune system and nervous system regulation.

Health is in the palm of our hands and at the tips of our fingers. If we make the choices that support it, then the body and mind will support us back with the feeling of well-being. When we deviate from ourselves, when we allow ourselves to let our "lifestyles" to take us away we are on some level even responsible for this through the choices we make or don't make, we will experiences this as a rippling effect into consequences or benefits. The body is an amzing indicator of whether we are in balance or imbalanced. Listening to it, taking time for it, loving it can ensure less health issues.

DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions.

"SPRING CLEANING" AND THE 5 SENSES

    What does Spring Cleaning really mean? Doesn't it feel natural that this is the time of year that we would feel inspired to "Spring Clean"?

     There's no coincidence! This is the time of year that nature starts to rebirth itself into a new chapter. It's the beginning of the year to come, and we start off with remembering that winter is the time to come inward, reflect, and be dormant as an internal energy and intention is cultivated. Then, spring rolls around and life begins to sprout. The atmosphere starts to change again from a cold dry to a cold wet, to a thawing out as the sun increases its light upon us with each day.

     The little critters of nature make their way about and a sense of renewal is happening. This is the time of year that a natural and inherent wisdom reminds us to detox, to let go of what was and to embrace what is here now, and what has yet to come. 

     Nature is whispering in our ears what it means to live according to the seasons and that by doing so we can remain ahead of the disease game (not that it's actually a game.) We spring clean so that we can get the circulation going so that the blood can get moving. Foods such as beets, celery, cilantro, limes, chlorella, carrots, and sprouts of all kinds help to stimulate not only the liver but also lymphatic functions. It is this time of year that we are in a window where the food has been scarce (typically back in the day) and we start to see new life sprouting to start the process of eating cleaner and lighter. This is after a heavy winter that nature encourages us to lighten up. 

     But, this isn't the only place that we are reminded to "lighten up." Some of us tend to spring clean our homes/offices, this time of year especially. There's no coincidence with what happens internally and in our minds, and with our external environments. Our homes are a reflection of our inner dwelling. The next closest experience to being inside of ourselves is being inside of our homes.  I remember learning in holistic school years ago two important thoughts for consideration and application: 1) We can tell the quality of a persons' healthy (usually) by what the person has in their kitchen cabinets. 2) We can usually tell how a person thinks and lives in their minds/hearts by what their home looks like. 

       There is something very powerful to be said when we understand cleanliness and organization and how this reflects us and upon us. There is also something to be said when we open up our kitchen cabinets and see what stares back at us, in the sense that good, wholesome and natural foods, versus packaged, cartons, canned, and even what medicines (spices and herbs versus aspirin, Pepto-Bismol, Nyquil, and other over the counter and/or pharmaceuticals.) I remember learning that the kitchen is the first pharmacy, but that's another article I'll write in the future.  It is possible to have a balance with fresh and not so fresh but come to my cooking classes and you'll learn about this, or wait until I write an article on it. 

     It is this time of year that the carpets get shaken, the windows will start opening, the birds will be seemingly chirping louder and more. Dusting will happen. Sweeping, mopping, vacuuming to the level of a deeper cleanse (which is the house's version of a detox.) I remember growing up that my mother would also change the furniture around. It was kind of exciting and provided a different perspective, sort of a new way of looking at things.  We would be listening to Italian opera with the doors and windows open. The smell of cleansers, the sound of the washing machine washing the winter bedspreads and curtains, as the new ones for spring were placed in position. 

     Nowadays, as I cleanse my home, I use all natural cleansing agents. The sheets and comforter are replaced per season.  Incense infuses the air, as chanting/mantras fill the atmosphere. (Though, this is done regularly, but you get the point.)  A sense of freshness and cleanliness resides here.  When anyone visits the first thing they usually say is "your place feels so calm" and/or "your place feels so light and clean."  I take pride in this for sure. As I shower regularly, I also detox as needed, and my home, car, and office reflect that. That's just me though. 

     In both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are sciences that govern placement and directions (North, South, East, West, and directions in between.)  In Ayurveda, the science is known as Vastu and in TCM it is known as Feng Shui.  Both systems are considered to be helpful in understanding the "personality" of any space that is occupied by us. Did you know that? Our personal spaces do in fact have personalities. Some that may align with us and others that may not be supportive.  In both Vastu and Feng Shui, there are some guidelines in regards to cleaning up and discarding your space, "does it serve a purpose?", "is it used", "is it benefiting you?", or "do you need it?"  Based on your honest answers these guidelines can help you to make decisions in how to let go of things.  Personally, I've always supported the notion of Zen as much as possible and when it has been practical.  A minimalistic approach creates a sense of lightness, especially when the attachment is as heavy anymore.  This applies inwardly and outwardly. (Food for thought.)  Oprah would talk about organizing and cleanliness. She would say "compartmentalize, compartmentalize, compartmentalize" meaning that things of like nature belong together and that this was a great way to keep order. 

     Ayurveda speaks a lot about the "5 Senses" and the 'healing" thereof. The 5 senses are smell, taste, sight, sound, and touch. Each of the 5 senses corresponds to the 5 elements, which are Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space.  The relationship of the elements to the senses is Earth = Smell, Water = Taste, Fire = Sight, Air = Touch, and Space = Sound.  For our spirit, the 5 senses are the primary ways we interact with the world.  They are the means in which something as subtle as spirit can play as humans, having a human experience. It is understood in Ayurveda that by supporting the health and well-being of the senses we can support our overall health and well-being. Additionally, Ayurveda suggests that the easiest way to do this is by spending time in nature as much as possible.  I would add that bringing nature into our homes is just as equally as important being that generally, we spend much time there than anywhere else, usually. 

     With regard to the 5 elements and the Doshas, the relationship is as such: Vata = air and space, Pitta = fire, and water (a little bit), and Kapha = water and earth.  Vata predominant types tend to be erratic, ungrounded, unstructured, and mobile. This is the nature of the wind. It is unpredictable and benefits from being grounded more, with and through some structure. Pitta predominant types tend to be structured, controlled, and focused. The nature of fire is to be warm, sharp, and piercing, and benefits from being softer, more fluid, and patient.  Kapha predominant types tends to be stagnant/sedentary, grounded, heavy, and hard to motivate, and benefits from being pushed (being strongly encouraged), overall increased movement and stimulation of all sorts.  

     HERE ARE SOME THINGS TO ENCOURAGE OVERALL SPRING CLEANING THAT SUPPORT THE 5 SENSES AND 5 ELEMENTS:

1) TOUCH AND WHAT'S INSIDE: It is a good time of year to go through closets, draws, and any other space where things may be stagnant and to thoroughly discard anything that isn't serving any longer.  This applies to things in the kitchen cabinets and closet(s), along with the shelves in the refrigerator; creating the opportunity to invite new things in as the old things go out. Moving things around and/or out can be very positive and uplifting stimulating certain brain chemicals that promote optimal health. Additionally, the quality of products that you put on your skin such as natural fabrics, natural oils for perfume, natural soaps for cleansing, natural shampoos, natural deodorants, and any natural hygiene products all affect the sense of touch and will have an benefit depending on quality. In Ayurveda, we say "if you wouldn't eat it, why would you put it on your skin?" Substances that touch the skin, that are positive and uplifting stimulates certain brain chemicals that promote optimal health. 

2) SMELL:  Light some incense. Get some candles (more natural in smell but not with all those fake  chemicals that smell like spring.) I know it can be a little costly but breathing in such toxins may cost you more in the long run, so spending a little now saves you spending more later. Isn't your health worth it? Alternately, you can also purchase aromatherapy oil burners or diffusers that release lovely scents in the air.  Scents that are positive and uplifting stimulates certain brain chemicals that promote optimal health. 

3) SOUND AND WHAT WE HEAR:  Play some happy, light, "sacred" music to help cleanse the spirit of the home.  Remember that the sounds that we infuse in our homes will hover over us like a cloud. What sounds come out of your mouth? What sounds fill your home? Are they more positive than negative? Sounds that are positive and uplifting stimulate certain brain chemicals that promote optimal health.  

4) SIGHT AND WHAT WE SEE: What do you see? How about buying some plants, or more plants. How about adding some freshly cut flowers or flowers that you can plant outdoors later? Not to mention that some flowers may emit a certain aroma and this adds to the scent category.  Things you see that are positive and uplifting stimulates certain brain chemicals that promote optimal health. 

5) TASTE AND WHAT WE TASTE: What you put in your mouth can either be considered medicine or a poison. What are you eating? What are you drinking? What is the quality of both? What's in your refrigerator. Is the food fresh or old? Are you planning a detox? Things you eat, that are healthy, positive and uplifting stimulates certain brain chemicals that promote optimal health. If you'd like to know more about detoxing the physical and mental body, check out this article HERE.

 

DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions. 

A BALANCED YOGA PRACTICE: AN AYURVEDIC PERSPECTIVE

My first yoga teacher gathered us at the end of class and asked us questions, one of them being to guess how old she was? We thought she was in her mid-50's and she said she was 87. We were in awe. She exuded this glow and this presence that was palatable.  Every time we would meet with her she had this constant presence.  A few years ago I researched into her whereabouts and when I contacted my old undergrad campus to inquire about her I was told that she had retired a few years ago and died within the past couple years.  She kept teaching until she was 103. Amazing! She lifted the bar, of what had inspired me to pursue yoga, to a whole other level.

I am passionately driven to write this article based on the many patients I have seen in my practice, and the individuals I have seen outside of it, that are yoga teachers but imbalanced.

You would think that this wouldn't be the case but unfortunately, yoga has gone far and wide in this culture and there has been a dilution of the practice.  I have worked with many teachers who have been burning themselves out, suffering from digestive issues, rupturing or causing bulging discs, sleep issues, join issues, skin issues, mental unrest, and other ailments. I would ask myself "how can this be?"  

Just because you might be flexy-bendy, or have tighter abs and gluts as you're doing yoga doesn't mean that you're actually balanced internally. If anything, such physical transformations, though not guaranteed for everyone, are sometimes the by-products of the practice but not the designed goal.  The yoga practice was originally a way to become intimate with ourselves, not create a more competitive model, nor comparative one.

I remember doing one of my clinical's in India many years ago and the other Ayurvedic doctors were laughing at how yoga has made its way to the west and that it has been causing an increase in yoga-related diseases and imbalances.  I also learned that in recent times, a new chapter has been added to the materia medica of Ayurveda that addresses such diseases. Never has this been an issue before. So, how amazing is it that after thousands of years that such a holistic medical practice has existed and now there is a new chapter to address something that wasn't an issue before?

Yoga practices were designed to support the health of the body so that an individual can develop a sense of connection between body-mind-spirit.  In tandem, Ayurveda assisted the side of yoga with diet, per and individuals constitution, along with understanding what the best asana, pranayama, meditation practices, for each individual. Originally, yoga and Ayurveda were not systems rooted in the mentality of one size fits all. Additionally, Ayurveda made sure of this. Ayurveda has been making its way west for the past 30 plus years, after yoga, but in India, they were born together and mainly practiced together.  This provided the ultimate holistic approach and protocol to healthcare, disease prevention, disease management, and overall balance.

When I was learning the integration of Ayurveda and yoga, it was repeated over and over again that yoga practiced without Ayurveda is only half a science, and Ayurveda practiced without yoga is half a science.  I don't know any Ayurvedic practitioners that aren't versed in yoga but I know many yoga teachers not versed in Ayurveda. 

That being said, it would make sense that these yoga teachers that I mentioned above are imbalanced. They tend to teach 20-30 classes of yoga a week. How? Where does the shakti (energy) come from? Yet, digestion is disrupted, and sleep is disturbed, at least. 

There is depletion. Ayurveda qualifies the energetic properties of yoga asanas and pranayama practices according to Prana, Tejas, and Ojas.  Prana is the principle that governs the energy, life-force, air, chi, and inspiration. Tejas is the principle of illumination, fire, and clarity. Ojas is the principle that governs overall vitality, immunity, strength, earth, and groundedness.  The overall intention of a balanced practice is to cultivate all three evenly but too often it is the case that yoga practitioners, not just teachers but also students, that they have High Prana, High Tejas, and Low ojas. Without ojas, there's no point to the practice. High prana suggests too much air which is drying, stimulating, and depleting. High Tejas suggests too much fire, which is drying, stimulating, and depleting. Low Ojas suggests ungrounded, low immunity, and lower quality tissues and cellular quality due to stress.

Without being grounded there's no point in thinking integration when someone is burning up their life-force and increasing too much heat. How do we know when this is happening? Simple, these yoga practitioners are tearing tendons, stressing, straining, and injuring cartilage. They are having insomnia. They have imbalanced digestion. They have dry skin, and lackluster.  These are all signs of depletion.  I had one yoga teacher that was around the age of 25 and he taught 25 classes a week, was driving around a lot to go from studio to studio, had burning indigestion and was staying up late. He said he loved to teach. I wondered where he was actually getting the energy from since these symptoms were all signs of an imbalanced lifestyle. How can a yoga teacher/practitioner be inspiring and depleted at the same time? I remember telling him that traditionally when a mantra was being passed along it could only be passed along when the energy existed behind it. From there, the energy would sustain and have the ultimate healing properties. Similarly, I said, that teaching yoga is like this mantra practice. We can only give what we have. We can't fake it, though many do or try to.  Therefore, how can a yoga teacher pass along such sacred and profound tools of inspiration and transformation when the place that it's coming from, the well is dry? 

I've had many yoga practitioners/students come to see me and tell me that breathing practices weren't emphasized during the actual practice of the asanas or that there wasn't any actual rhyme or reason for how the breath was connected to the overall practice, let alone have it follow a yoga practice to lead one to meditation.  Classical yoga practices such as the design from Patanjali, suggested the Ashtanga Eight Limbs/Model. Ashtanga in the sense of the traditional practice and not the modern-day spin-off or dilution or even style that exists commonly today. Ashtanga (Ash-tan-ga) means eight and the Ashtanga practice consists of the Eight-fold pathway to yoga. Yoga itself means union, merging, oneness. Yoga is the Science of Self-realization. Ayurveda is the Science of Longevity. The eightfold pathway consists of the Yamas (five points of ethical behavior and how we conduct ourselves), Niyamas (five points of self-discipline molding our morality and behavior), Asana (means to sit but is generally stood as the physical exercises associated to yoga), Pranayama (breathing practices), Pratyahara (drawing in of the senses), Dharana (focusing on one point/concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (awakening/enlightenment/absorption). Here's a LINK to read these for more details. Additionally, here's a simple beginners BOOK to learn more about the tradition and integration of these profound teachings. 

Yoga teachers that don't understand or aren't interested in practicing per the design of their constitution (according to Ayurveda) are causing harm to their body's and potentially their minds. Yoga teachers that are teaching students without the understanding of this model of constitutional design are causing harm. How do we know? Because when we take a closer look at the students, we can see it. Now, it is important to mention that there is a natural inherent intelligence or wisdom that when we can pay close attention to it it will guide us in choosing what seems best. I've had patients come in and say that they tried a particular yoga but didn't feel good from it or that something didn't seem right, and when I explained the dynamics according to Ayurveda they were like "ah! makes sense." These aha moments are far and few in between. There are also some yoga teachers that are "tapped" in and are "intuitive" and grounded enough in the practice of yoga that are able to inspire and help deepen individuals in an amazing yoga practice. What I would say here is that that's great, but why not go deeper by knowing the foods that are best for their constitutional design? This is lacking still. So many yoga teachers are suggesting cleanses and detoxes but not really understanding who should do it, based on their constitutional design, or the when part. Check out THIS article for more details about diet and detoxification. 

Lastly, it is an honor to mention that there is a recently new category of healthcare, aside from the AD (Ayurvedic Doctor) field that is developing in the USA, as per NAMA, the National Ayurveda Medical Association. This new arena which has also been created and defined by NAMA is known as the AYT, Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist.  It is the next step from YT, known as the Yoga therapist, created by the IAYT, the International Association of Yoga Therapists. The YT uses a combination of the yogic practices and techniques along with western criteria and management of health issues.  The AYT uses not only the yogic techniques and practices but also a larger portion of Ayurveda, not as advanced as the AD or BAMS (Bachelors of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery, classically trained doctors of Ayurveda) to make the practice truly a holistic protocol for healthcare, sick care, and prevention. More details can be read HERE on AYT.  

Here is a brief summary of categories that are currently present in the USA:

1. AYURVEDIC YOGA THERAPIST: newly developed; has working knowledge of Ayurveda with its application through the usage of Yoga therapy, which involves the usage of asana practices and other yogic techniques, in support of the holistic approach to health and well-being. The AYT has the most advanced training and perspective in support of a total holistic regimen. This field is uncovered by insurance at this time. These practitioners do not diagnose but can work with diagnoses where applicable.

2. YOGA THERAPIST: has been up and coming in recent years; that involves the usage of asana, general dietary considerations rooted in minimal (compared to AYT and AD) Ayurvedic practices, and its application to individuals who have been given a western diagnosis. This field is uncovered by insurance at this time. YT has a more holistic approach to the management of physical and mental imbalances. They can not diagnose but can work with diagnoses where applicable.

3. PHYSICAL THERAPIST: has been around for a few decades and is in alignment with the western and allopathic approach to physical well-being and recovery from physical ailments. The PT practice is covered by insurance. It doesn’t have a holistic approach but there are PT’s that study holistic approaches and integrates them into their own practices. They can use billing codes to determine what somato-dysfunctions are present but directly are not qualified for any other medical diagnosis.

It is important to note that PT’s are also capable of “treating disease”, whereas the AD, AYT, and YT are not qualified. Though, the AD, AYT, and YT have their own qualifications of assessment based on the Ayurvedic/Yogic model.

In conclusion, the intention of this article isn't to make anyone feel bad or create any sort of judgment. The intention is to increase awareness. I understand everyone is doing the best that they can and there is always room for improvement. It is important to look at your yoga teacher and to look at yourself and question whether you are experiencing the long-term benefits that yoga has to offer or are you noticing an increase in symptoms. Are you doing yoga as part of the fad movement or are you doing it because you're seeking to go deeper and tap into a part of life that is calling to you? 

 

 

DIET AND DETOXIFICATION

     This is the time of year that the idea of detoxing, resetting, and dieting are slowly creeping in. It actually makes sense because this seems to be a very dense time of year and there is an inherent wisdom that recognizes this and attempts to balance itself by changing the diet. 

     Naturally, in olden times, food was generally more scarce and basic foods and vegetation were relied upon. Incidentally, this supported the inherent design for detoxing the body and begin its journey to lightening up through digestion. In Ayurveda, this particular time of year is known as the Kapha phase/season. The qualities of Kapha are primarily Heavy, then cold and moist. This creates a heaviness and sluggishness in the digestion. Even the little deer know that and try to support its own lymphatic system by chewing on bark and and possible baby sprout/green formation. Nature is wise!

     These next few months involves the very process of rebirthing and awakening, as the sun continues to increase its light upon us with each day that passes, delivering us to summer time.

     In Ayurveda, when we think of Detox, we ask "what are we trying to do?" and "what will it take to get the body ready for it and to optimize its overall performance?" (giving us the desired outcome of feeling less toxic). There is something very important to consider here. It is great to support this internal wisdom to detox but we tend to have many justifications and definitions of what that looks like. There are also so many types of diets. Ayurveda teaches us to detox as part of the season and takes into account the reality of what our constitutional design is (Vata, Pitta, Kapha.) The adjustment of detoxification happens specifically and accordingly.

     First, in Ayurveda, we know that Vata predominant types or those with "Vata Vitiation" have a variable digestive system/metabolism. Pitta predominant types or those with Pitta Vitiation have a very strong and steady digestive/metabolic system. Kapha predominant types or Kapha Vitiated types have a slow and sluggish digestive/metabolic system.

     The detoxification happens based on this principle of Agni (digestion/metabolism) and determination of Ama (toxicity), along with what the state of Ojas (immunity/strength) of the individual. It is contraindicated, unless properly supervised, for an individual to detox if they are weakened in energy and immunity and vitality. Palliative procedures are put in place in order to strengthen the individual before detoxification is actually considered. These palliative protocols are called Shamana Chikitsa in Ayurveda.

     Next, when the individual is deemed ready to undergo detoxification, this can range from light to intense. Light is usually recommended when someone isn't able to really fully take off from the daily typical responsibilities. Intense is when someone can take off from usual responsibilities and dedicate the time and discipline to detox. A little bit over time can go a long way, just take longer. An intense detoxification can happen within a months time and produce a more immediate result, that unravels with time.

     The common error that happens with detoxing/dieting is that individuals say they are detoxing and remove certain aspects of food/beverages from the diet and optimize with what supports the detox but then after they are all "cleaned out" the return to eating what they were before hand. This can have a damaging effect on the body. The ideal situation is to detox and then slowly ease in foods that match the state of digestion, minimizing the foods that may not be ideal, but not to fully return to eating the same stuff that cause the toxins to develop in the first place. 

     In today's day and age, it can be challenging to do so especially with the western patterns of duties and stressors.  I remember one of my first teachers giving an example of detoxing. He said "imagine having a glass full of muddy water and you take a grain of sand and pour it in, but you don't notice it. Slowly, you begin to pour in clean water and watch the mud slowly turn clear, and then add the grain of sand. Now you can see the grain of sand. The glass of water is more sensitive now."  Similarly, detoxing the body removes the toxins and when we re-expose the same toxins right back in the body is more sensitive to this.  

     Additionally, as mentioned previously, the diet/detox can range from light to intense depending on the individual's capacity to do so, time availability, level of discipline, and practicality overall, along with the ultimate intention and goal of doing so. What is essential to note here is that the digestive system requires a specific quality and type of attention to really feel supported. It requires focus and simplicity. There is an innate intelligence of the digestive system to do its job if we all the space for it. If someone is working an intense job schedule, for instance, and they are doing an intense detox, the fruits will be short-lived and/or not fully achieved because the body has to produce energy to support the outer experiences and engagements versus focus on its duty to detox. In other words, stress will inhibit the metabolism and prevent it from being fully effective. In these instances, it is best to simply do a palliative/light diet by removing basic offenders instead of doing intense protocols like "liver flushes", "enemas," or "kidney flushes." The flushes would be more harmful to the body if the body isn't properly supported. There's no quick fix! There's no magic diet or pill to take the toxins all away. Slow and steady wins the race, and produces better outcomes. 

     This is all meant for consideration as the idea of wanting to move forward with any sense of detoxing/dieting proceeds.  It is great to consider wanting to do a detox/diet because the body and mind has somehow communicated this need. Listen to it and give it what it deserves. Giving the body the attention it needs will not only help you feel better in your body but will also add a sense of stability and happiness in your mind because the toxins aren't clouding your perspective as these free radicals float around clogging the mind.

     Fat burning is an essential component to any good detox. It is typically in the fat that toxins are stored in. For instance, when eating store bought milk or using milk from dispensaries such as Starbucks or other coffee shops that aren't using organic, it is understood in modern science that the hormones and pesticides gather in the fat of the milk. Similarly, toxins are stored by the body in the fat of the body. With any good detox, we want to ensure that the body is returned to its former glory which involves it being a "fat burning machine." How do we do this? In day to day living, we honor the times of day that are designed to burn fat. When are these times? In between meals is the answer. What does that look like? The answer is between breakfast and lunch, between lunch and dinner and between dinner and breakfast.  This means no snacking. This means that the last meal of the day is the last meal and should be before 7pm (ideally.) 

     The liver becomes active after 10pm and if we are still awake into the late night hours we are actually borrowing energy from the liver to stay away and inhibiting its capacity to actually detox the body and brings things to order as it organizes what happened during the day, preparing us for the next day.  This delivers us to breakfast and when we break down the word break fast this is "break(ing)" a "fast."  The morning is when we remove the toxins from yesterday by urinating it out (which is why the urine is usually darkest in the morning) and we poop (ideally before breakfast and within the first half hour of waking.) We rinse our mouths, noses, shower/bathe, and we are cleaned up from the inside out from yesterday to begin anew. When this process of the natural fasting is disrupted we prevent the toxins from being adequately being discarded from the body. This is just the reality and how nature created it. There's not tricking it. The body knows best and what to do when get out of its way. 

     When we stop the snacking in between meals we allow the body to use its own resources to metabolize accordingly. When we have that craving for something to eat we are simply dis-empowering the body in doing what it was meant to and we pacify it by catering to our mental needs. Sure, there is sometimes a genuine need the body expresses through cravings but we have to look at the root of the cravings to determine what are they really saying. Typically, cravings come from an emotional/mental/stress need, a need of the body itself from inadequate meals, and poor sleep patterns. Additionally, if we are craving something, we have to ask if we are properly hydrated. The same mechanism in the brain that determines hunger also determines thirst so making sure that hydration is substantial is a key component. If you're not sure, have a cup of hot water when you have that craving. If the desire for food is there, then you're body wants a food substance. If not, then the craving goes away.  

     Instead of giving in to the craving, try not to create them by disrupting sleep, and missing or having inappropriate meals. Let the body have that craving, then wait 20 minutes (with or without having the hot water or a cup of tea) and the craving will most likely go away which means the internal process of metabolism has been turned on and now the body is going into fat burning mode. When we cater to the craving we are simply being lazy and somehow fear that discomfort feeling associated with craving and eat something instead which prevents the body from fat burning and ensure that it is fat storing. 

     A general good practice with or without the intention of dieting/detoxing, is sipping (not guzzling) hot water throughout the day. Why is this good? Imagine trying to wash a dirty dish that has grease on it. Does the grease come off with hot water or cold water? Right, you guessed it. Hot water helps it to dissolve. Similarly, hot water in the body ensures that we are fat burning and helping to breakdown foods. Tea and hot water have a similar effect as long as the water is hot, but drinkable. 

    Next what should a general detox look like? It is safe to say that certain things should be removed, or eliminated and this is a basic guideline, whether it is for the intention of a light detox/diet or intense one.  Here are some guidelines: (note that the first four have been outlined by Dr. Suhas from his book the Hot Belly Diet.)

1. Cut refined flours, processed carbohydrates, and some starches. These can tax the system. We want to minimize stress on the body and support its intention to digest. 

2. Cut out foods that are manufactured and called "fat-free", "sugar free", or "light." These are so processed that even though they seem healthier, they are more stressful on the body to metabolize on a microcellular level. Filler foods, are just processed in a way to appeal to the tongue but not really add joy to the later parts of digestion and overall well-being.

3. Avoid red meat, and other heavier meats, along with full-fat dairy.  All this is heavy and harder for digestion.

4. Remove white sugar and artificial sweeteners, including those such as Truvia and Splenda. You can use pure raw honey and Stevia instead.  The fake sugars are exactly that because they are so processed and designed to trick the body, but there's really no tricking the body.

5. Remove alcohol and marijuna. Both are stressors on the body and both prevent the full process of metabolism. Know that marijuana is a great herb for those of you that engage, but it affects the nervous system and metabolism. Both digestion and the mind will find it offensive, contrary to common belief.

6. Make sure the food is pure, wholesome. Minimally processed. Not from a box or can. Not from take out. As much as possible. Home cooked! Not microwaved (as much as possible and ideally.)

7. Eat only until you can sense that you feel slightly full. Anything more than that will suppress digestion and start fat storage versus fat burning. Check out this article on Guidelines for Healthy Eating HERE. By simply even checking out these guidelines you will benefit in the long run.

8. Avoid heavy foods and processed sugars. This includes breads, pastas, noodles, baked goods, chips, cookies, muffins, pizza dough, cakes, donuts, cheese, sodas (even "diet/zero calorie"), fried foods, ice creams (any kind,) energy bars, power bars, fruit bars, snack bars. 

9. Avoid cold, ice, and frozen anything. This will shut down the digestive fire and eliminate the power of metabolism. It is contraindicated in general but especially during the revamping process of optimizing metabolic performance. It seems silly to add something so cold to a system that is designed to be hot.  Check out this article HERE for more information on ice and cold.

10. Greens. Greens. Greens! Increase  your veggies. An average of 1-2 cup per serving. This time of year the veggies should be more on the cooked side.  This is good for vitamin/mineral intake, as well as fiber. Beets, Daikon Radish, Celery, Carrots, Parsley, and Cilantro are especially good veggies to introduce as they support lymph drainage, kidney function, and some of them support chelating your liver so that heavy metals can clear from the body better.

11.  Spice it up! In Ayurveda, everything should have some sort of spice as this is like adding kindling to a fire. Cumin, Mustard seeds, Coriander, Turmeric, Oregano, Salt (moderate), Cinnamon, Ajwan seeds, Fenugreek, Ginger, and Black Pepper are some examples of spices that should be included regularly into foods to support digestion, not to mention that the are also considered herbs and have medicinal properties. 

12. Food for Thought! The digestive system does better with a simpler diet. This is one of the reasons why a mono-diet is supportive of detoxification and resetting digestion.  Think of it this way. When the body knows what is coming, when the digestive system has an idea of what meal is in store at the next meal time, the body is preparing the enzymes for metabolism of this meal. For instance, in the morning you say to yourself "I'd like to have rice, beans, veggies, and some other protein for lunch, and you have an idea of how you're making it or where you're buying it from. As soon as you have this thought, your body is slowly gearing up the juices for it. BUT, say you had this in mind and then a co-worker says at lunch time "let's go eat something else," the body was already prepared for the other meal but in changing it now the body has to play catch up which increases the likelihood of malabsorption. This last minute change in mind has now causing a stress. Simpler diets are more effective because the body is better prepared to digest. 

     Since we now have a general understanding and format for the "diet", this will automatically support detoxification without even having to think about purging and flushes.  But, this isn't enough! Exercise is a key component to supporting lymphatic movement. Exercise where we can raise the heart rate for good cardiovascular practices gets the metabolism going and juices flowing in the body. It will maximize your efforts with diet because diet alone can not undo diabetes and being overweight, not to mention how it affects the mind positively when the oxygen increases in the system and moves the fluids in the brain for brain health. Similarly, exercising alone without the proper diet wouldn't fully benefit the body and mind.

     To go deeper, a yoga class and meditative practices can optimize performance overall and create a whole holistic feel.  The mind and heart are intimately connected. A happy mind is a happy heart. A happy heart is a calmer mind. When this is experienced, the body can feel supported and aligned. Balanced and integrated. 

     Lastly, Ayurveda has an understanding of how important it is to following a regimented overall routine. This creates a foundation for health because the health of the body/mind is dependent upon consistency. The body is a historical system and thrives on consistency. There are some key elements that are the touchstones of the day designed already by nature that if we follow them then we are ensured that health will be better supported, before and after conditions have developed. Life can happen in between these key times of day and when there is enough of a consistent pattern that the body can trust then when life actually happens and things come up the body will be least encumbered and rebound quicker when the regimen is resumed. Check this article HERE on what they daily ritual can look like. 

     Following even these suggestions will create a simple reset for you and your menu. Considering these mentioned tidbits will help set the stage for your intention of dieting/detoxing without going to far or deep or even having to enroll in any major program. Just applying the above concepts, walking the talk, you will start to notice weight loss and increased energy. Yet, if you want to go deeper it is encouraged that you seek out a professional versed in dieting/detoxing that can guide and support you. 

     Other diets tend to leave you hanging, stressed, or even returning full force to what you were doing before the diet which means the body wasn't really met in a way that completely supported it so much so that the body now compensates extremely. This is the point that people say "the diet didn't work for me" or "I put more weight on."  Individuals feel disappointed, sad, even depressed with themselves which wasn't the point of the diet to begin with. With Ayurveda there is more of a natural alchemy and individuals end up happier in the long run. For instance, if you wanted to go deeper, Ayurveda has a whole protocol for dieting and detoxification where there are mainly three phases that promote the most optimal results based on your intentions and constitutional design. Phase one generally involves what's mentioned above which includes removing offenders to metabolism. Phase two involves the actual detoxification protocol around using the body's natural systems/organs to remove toxins through the digestive system. Herbs, spices, and other therapies such as oil and steam therapies are included here.  Phase three is the slow integration of regular foods that honors the inherent power of metabolism so that it can perform in a way that you can enjoy with the least amount of digestive disturbance. This latter process is profound because it really encourages mindfulness around food that can help you to feel happy while you're doing it because you've gone through the first couple phases and become very intimate with knowing yourself. 

     Ayurveda is not a diet but a way of consciously living as it is aligned with nature and its natural rhythms. You can't go wrong but you can feel right simply by making the right adjustments. It's an amazing journey.

 

DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions. 

COLD, COLD, GO AWAY!

It's that time of the year again when it seems like a lot more people are getting sick with colds, other upper respiratory ailments, and various versions of stomach bugs; with all this seemingly having a lingering effect.

To Ayurveda, this makes sense and particularly why this time of year seems to provoke such complaints. Ayurveda has the understanding around the why it happens and what to do about it either to prevent it from occurring or managing it quickly, compared to allopathic medicine. 

Last year I wrote an article for exactly this time of year and it couldn't be any more perfect for understanding this in depth. Check out the link HERE

That being said, here are some simple practices to strengthen immunity on both sides of the fence, whether you're sick or want to prevent getting anything. 

1) HYDRATE! Stay properly hydrated. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water BUT make sure 1/2 of that is actually warm water and the other 1/2 is some electrolyte boosting beverage such as a limeade, a lemonade, a little juice in water with a pinch of salt, a packet of Emergen-C, or even just coconut water. Make sure it's all above room temperature this time of year.

2) WARMTH! Warmth increases metabolism and cold decreases it significantly. Following up on the previous recommendation, AVOID ice and cold beverages. This has an astringent quality and dries out the mucous membranes in the mouth and sinus' which is primarily where the root of these seasonally related health issues evolve from. A compromised digestive system and compromised mucous membranes can wreak havoc on the body and immunity.  Read HERE for more details on how cold affects the body negatively when internalized. 

3) LUBRICATE! Yes, the skin which is the largest organ in the body and weighs an average of 12 pounds alone, covers the outside of the body, the mouth to the rectum (the inside), and a lot of in between in various forms. Keep it all running smoothly by properly lubricating. How? Internal oleation. How? Simply ingesting/cooking with oils daily. An average of 4 tbs., maybe a little less for Kapha predominant types. GHEE is #1! Coconut oil is next and great! Olive oil and Flaxseed Oil too.  See HERE for an idea on oleating externally.  (If you're not able to come in for a session, then administer a self oil massage (Self-Abhyanga) and then take a hot shower.) Follow the idea from the link for your model.

4) NASYA! Which is the nasal administration of a medication or even simple oil can significantly help with keeping the nostrils and sinus passages from drying and cracking which is highly problematic, especially this time of year.  Click HERE and look at some of these companies that sell or next time you see me ask me to make you a personal bottle of nasya.

5) FOOD! We are entering into the thick of winter. It takes more energy to increase metabolism and therefore it is imperative that we are mindful of our digestive capacities. Don't overeat as this will shut down the digestive system and after a week or two, if not sooner, you'll notice yourself catching not only what may be floating around but also creating your own inner state of disease.  Check HERE for an article on digestion and disease prevention. 

6) EXERCISE! As always, exercise is crucial, year round but especially this time of year when winter demands our hibernating. The problem that occurs is that unlike bears that store up food before the sleep, we store up on food by eating a lot and sleeping a lot, this is counter productive and counter intuitive which will add to hardship in the digestive system and slow down the lymphatic systems which is responsible for removing toxins from the body and from being optimal in its function with immunity.  It takes more effort to get out of the house when it's extremely cold and icy out. Not to mention the safety issues when there is ice, and extreme cold. So, join a gym and get to it when you can. When you can't, turn on youtube and look up yoga practices or other cardio/aerobic activities while you're home and do this for your health management. A good diet alone isn't good enough when there isn't adequate exercise in place. This is really what gets the juices flowing and metabolism running optimally. No and's, if's or but's! Stay active. Rest in between. Try not to be too sedentary and if you are then you must eat less. Supply should be low when demand is low! Read HERE for more details on supply and demand for the body. 

7) REST! Speaking of...adequate rest supports proper immunity and efficient metabolism. Following the natural cycles of the day that have been in place since the beginning of humankind (and before) encourages health on so many levels. Loss of sleep can cause detrimental consequences to health. Irregular sleep patterns or staying up late an also add to other mental and biological issues.  It's all connected! Read HERE for more on sleep. 

Here's another article to help with other ideas. Click HERE.

LIFE AS A MALA BEAD

     You may wonder what this article has to do with regarding a "health tidbit" that I typically write about but as you continue to read further you will see the point and how this is aligned with the intention of being a health tidbit. This was inspired by recent numerous conversations with my patients around the idea of "spiritual practices." This is a timely discussion and worthwhile pondering during this time of year as holidays are occurring, and time seems to speed up with some much going on. 

     The ancient yogis knew that as time progressed and we evolved that there would be many more distractions that could potentially cause us to lose ourselves even more so. They encouraged the idea of spiritual practices through yoga, that also involved the various aspects of breathing techniques and meditation, along with the asanas (physical exercises), and then some (too much to mention.)  In fact, some of the yogic literature suggests that there are infinite techniques in order to correspond with the varying degrees of human experiences. 

     One of the main points essential to the "purpose" of spiritual practices is to help us to connect ourselves through a focal point that represents/reflects/aligns us with some sense of divinity (sacredness, or what have you). When we get lost between the vacillation of the pendulum involving the past in future we are taken away from the present moment. The basic intention of spiritual practices is to help us become more anchored in the present moment. The more we connect the spiritual practices through continuity and regularity the higher the likelihood we decrease the sense of feeling lost in life or to life and that we could remember who/what we are when we slow down to what is present in the now.  What is useful to know is that religions can serve us as a means to feel connected to something that shows/reminds/reflects/encourages us of something this is "bigger as or than ourselves."

     Essentially, all the major traditions of the world share this philosophy that there is some sort of apex that spiritual practices are designed around, whether we are reading from one holy scripture or another, meditating in a cave or a forest or on a plane or in bed. Wherever we are.

     The understanding is that the continuous practice acts to help us be here now. There is a term in yoga called "Abhyasa Yoga," which is defined as the yoga of continuous practice. Eventually,  as the practice(s) advance, what tends to happen is that life starts to unfold in a way that shows us that each moment is unique and connects to the next moment but in reality, simultaneously, there is only one moment which is now. Time disappears as we know it. There is both a nothingness and fullness, at the same time. These spiritual techniques serve to remind us of the moment, over and over and over again. Inevitably, connecting every experience to a sense of oneness and the simplicity that life is happening. This is how we can see the analogy as a mala bead creating a mala. 

     You may ask "what is a Mala bead?" A mala bead is one of the beads that appear to be strung together as either a necklace or a bracelet. It is commonly seen in Hindu and Buddhist traditions. You could even go as far as saying that the Catholic rosary beads individually are beads like mala beads. Each mala bead is strung together creating a mala. Each rosary bead is strung together connecting as a rosary.  When Buddhists or Hindus use a mala, typically they are chanting a mantra with each passing of the bead. Similarly, a Catholic says a prayer at a specific bead. With the rosary, there is usually a space between a grouping of beads and a single bead but with the mala there is no grouping, simply one whole strung necklace/bracelet of beads. The purpose of using the bead is to focus on the sense of one-bead-at-a-time with a specific intention, called a prayer/mantra/invocation to the divine presence (or whatever.) 

     Moments add up to a day. Many days add up to year. Time passes and suddenly time melts together and years aren't clear anymore. Similarly, one bead, then the next and the next, add up to a whole mala, and suddenly you're engrossed in the presence of time dissolving and your connection to something bigger feels more present. The overall analogy here is that life is like a mala bead/a prayer bead that connects to a sense of oneness. Each moment connects to create a sense of a "oneness of life." The bead is designed as a tool to help us to be present and go one-by-one, to be present in the now, one-moment-to-the-next. Not getting lost in the idea of future or past. Simply experiencing each moment as a connection to a whole. If you are reading, then just read. If you are crying, then just cry. Don't try to fix or alter it. If you're just having a conversation with a good friend, then just be with the conversation. If you're just eating, or just pooping, or just showering, or just walking in the woods, then just be with that in that moment. It may seem that the "just" is just minimal but it is in the mundane that we can have profound experiences if we allow ourselves to be with it.  Whatever you are doing/feeling in the moment be as fully present with it, even if it is uncomfortable. Do you're best, because fundamentally we are all doing our best and we can't push anything faster than it will happen even if we think we can or are. 

     As we approach this holiday season, and beyond, the lesson to take here is that spiritual practices support us in being more present by making us aware of how sacred the moment is. Spiritual practices can help us to find more of ourselves by limiting our distractions to extraneous things that keep us from ourselves. The techniques eventually melt/merge together as the moment reminds us of how its been here all along, and as we continue to take this journey in these vehicles known as the body, each moment seems to become the never ending mala. The practices themselves are no longer being practiced, as the idea of "doing anything" dissolves away and what is left is the sense of being..."Be-In" the moment of now. We go from a doing to a being, which exists free of time in a timeless state and yet so much can be experienced. 

     The gift to take away from this article as a "health/mental health" tidbit is that as things seem to get revved up with life, being in each moment to the best of our ability is important in order to not get lost in the chaos that ensues when we are chasing situations and scenarios around.  In each moment. Treasure it, like one mala bead at a time. Honor the prayer of the breath in the moment, of whatever is present. Accept fully and as much as possible exactly that which is occurring right now, in each instance of now, regardless of what it is or looks like.  Resistance to what is actually happening right now is what perpetuates our sense of suffering. We can all benefit from this "practice of continuous practice." Magic is in the mundane. Slow down. The gifts are revealed however small or large they may appear. Just don't look for them because again that's "doing" something, which prevents us from truly experiencing them because we get in our own way as we seek.                                                                                         

     Showing up and being present with whatever and whoever is a great gift to offer ourselves and others. Slowing down helps us to minimize stress, which can create health issues and spiral out of control.

DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions. 

UP, DOWN, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN: THIS SEASON

The wheels are turning and like a rollercoaster, we are beginning to head to the top where we plunge on a momentum that speedily takes us into the upcoming months filled with festivities.

This is the Vata type of year (early Fall to the beginning of winter).  Qualities of dry, cold, light, and mobile. These are the exact factors that can cause Vata to elevate in all of us. We get busy with meetings and holidays. We see increased strain, sensitivity,  sleep disturbances, digestive disturbances such as gas, bloating, mild-chronic constipation, anxiety, dry skin (internally and externally), allergies (due to dryness and issues with digestion), and SAD which affects mostly Vata/Kapha types more than Pitta, because Pitta is about fire, metabolism, and circulation and therefore not normally prone to SAD but if Pitta is too pushy it can cause depletion of hormones which regulate mood.

Here are some simple Tidbits:

1) Oil up!

          a) Sinus passages with Nasya or simple ghee, daily, nightly.

          b) A drop of ghee or sesame oil (warmed slightly) in each ear before bed.

          c) Oil pulling each morning before breakfast and after brushing. 2tbs. of sesame oil (Vata/Kapha) or Coconut (Pitta)

           d) A drop of ghee in each eye (slightly warmed) before bed.

           e) Self-massage with constitutionally appropriate oil, before the shower. Banyan has a simple formula. 

          f) Warm baths regularly and even before bed to help calm the nervous system and support sleep. Add epsom salt (2 cups) with lavender oil (30 drops) essential oil. 

           g) Here's a simple recipe to cut the edge of stress/anxiety/dryness/sleep: 

 

2)    Simple food for thought...thoughts:

                   a) Forget what you heard! Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. Lunch is!

                   b) Chew more, eat less. Less food is better than more food in one sitting.

                   c) If you're not hungry for breakfast....DON'T eat! Have tea or a light soup/broth.

                  d) Minimize/avoid snacking so that the body's metabolism can burn fat instead of store it! Drink tea instead.

                   e) If you are having cravings, question whether they are due to an inadequate meal at lunch. Or, if you stayed up late. Or, if you're lacking something from your overall diet. Or, if you aren't properly hydrated. 

3) Issues with bowel movements? Evaluating any of the below categories will start leading you in the better direction, even before herbs/supplements.

                   a) Do you have enough fiber in the diet? Or too much, if you're Kapha?

                   b) Do you have enough oils in your diet? 

                   c) Are you hydrating enough?

4) MOOD CHANGES? With less sunlight exposure and other biochemical reasons, SAD takes its toll on many this time of year.

                   a) Vitamin D supplement. Average 5000-8000 IU daily.

                   b) Color therapy, with red/gold/yellow, green, and orange.

                   c) How is the liver? If it's  working under stress then converting Vitamin D leftover from the summer can be challenging. If the liver is boggy/stagnant, then there will be mood-related issues.                     

Here are some past  articles that are a must read:

DIGESTION AND PREVENTING DISEASE

CATCH DRYNESS BEFORE IT CATCHES YOU

CATCH A COLD BEFORE IT CATCHES YOU

FEELING ANXIOUS

SEASONAL DEPRESSION (SAD)

DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions. 

REGULARITY IS A CRITICAL KEY TO HEALTH

Ayurveda is not only a healthcare system, a sick-care system, but also a preventative system. It shows us that Vata, Pitta, and Kapha predominant individuals are prone towards certain conditions. For instance, Vata (which governs the nervous system) predominant individuals are prone to the below-mentioned symptoms but also to anything that involves the nervous system. Pitta (which governs the endocrine and digestive system) predominant individuals are prone to inflammatory based conditions, and Kapha (which governs the immune system) predominant individuals are prone to lethargy, depression (melancholic type), heaviness, sluggish digestion, weight gain, water retention, and even conditions such as asthma and diabetes. With this all being said, it is understood under the axiom "like increases like and opposites cure" in Ayurveda that whatever the predominance of a particular dosha (biological humor; Vata/Pitta/Kapha) that individual will see an increase in symptoms during its appropriate season (even time of day, and phase of life.) Seasonally, Vata, begins in fall to early winter; Kapha, in late winter to early spring, and Pitta, in late spring to the end of summer. 

Currently, it is Vata season and the time of year when the elements of air and space begin to infuse the atmosphere. Qualities such as cold, dry, and light fill our surroundings, and those individuals who have a predominance of these qualities are more likely to experience it than others. 

Symptoms such as gas, bloating, dry orifices, increased constipation, dry skin, cold extremities, sleep disturbances extending as far as insomnia, and increased anxiety seem to show up the most during the upcoming months. This is why Ayurveda emphasizes the use of internal and external oleation, such as ghee, coconut oil, flax oil, and sesame; the increase of warm foods, such as soups, stews, milk decoctions, teas; spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, basil. black pepper, mustard seeds, turmeric, clove, and dry garlic can help increase heat in the blood. 

Ayurveda also speaks highly of regularity and routines. This time of year can prove to be challenging with the onset of upcoming festivities into the new year. The momentum picks up and so much is happening that it is common for many individuals to fall ill during the holidays and after. The wear and tear, the crash and burn can only last for so long, until the candle burns from both ends and a condition develops that renders individuals debilitated, leaving them to re-evaluate how they got there and how to prevent it again. 

The body is a historical system that relies upon regularity for its health! In order to maintain balanced health, while "life is happening", I have come to share that creating 5 Touchstones throughout the day can help keep regularity while during "life's happenings." 

Touchstone #1 - WAKING UP around the same time each day, most of the week (most being 4-5 days.)

Touchstone #2 - Having BREAKFAST, whatever that is for your constitution, around the same time each day, most of the week (4-5 days.)

Touchstone #3 - Having LUNCH, around the same time each day, most of the week (4-5 days.)

Touchstone #4 - Having DINNER, around the same time each day, most of the week (4-5 days.)

Touchstone #5 - Head to SLEEP, around the same time each day, most of the week (4-5 days.)

The seasons happen around the same time each year. The sun and moon circle around the same rhythm. The sun rises and sets around the same time each day (even taking into consideration daylight savings adjustments), with the sun peaking around noon each day. Why wouldn't it be the case that by aligning with the natural cycles that the body can reorganize itself and make sense of the chaos that can cause health issues? Check HERE for the story of disease formation, for more food for thought. 

The rest of life can happen, weaving in and out of these above listed pivotal points. It is important to have at least a little time (half hour or more) of me time; a time that is sacred just to be with yourself and minimal external distractions, so you can develop a deeper relationship with yourself and know yourself from the inside out. View this article HERE for daily rituals in depth, and see what you can take from it and start incorporating it into regular practice. I have seen many instances in my personal practice and within my patients that symptoms have minimized or even resolved simply by regulating, regimenting, and routinely following a day to day cycle. You couldn't imagine how the simplicity of such adjustments can make a huge impact on someone's health, but it is usually those little gestures that have the greatest influence. No? Try it and see. You're worth the investment. It may take a little time. Find the best flow for you and keep it up for a few months. It at least takes one month to notice some sort of change. If you'd like to read more about what to do for Vata season (this time of year) check HERE

Therefore, as we progress into the upcoming months where you may be more challenged, take a step back and see what you can put in place to create an anchor each day, not to lose yourself to ill-health but to reclaim your joy within it.

DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions. 

 

END OF SUMMER : BEGINNING OF FALL

Summer is coming to a close over the next few weeks. There was a lot of fun to be had these past few months and now we transition into a different season with activities that invite us more inward. It's a powerful time of year to have an awareness that we have been losing some sunlight with each day that passes as we come closer to the heart of winter, where things become more silent.

As we enter into September, take note what nature is doing. The fruits of the season are shifting to apples, pomegranates, pears, pumpkins, squashes, and some remaining dark greens. Grains are fully available such as wheat since it is a warming and heartier grain to sustain through the upcoming months. This is all to prepare the body by eliminating any excess heat from the summer and begin to build up the digestive fire for a colder climate to come. 

It is all about the little things that we can do to prevent disease, as it is all about the little things that can contribute towards the formation of disease. We have the power to choose, for the most part, which way the pendulum swings. 

Here are some simple actions to take to support the transitioning:

1) If you haven't already, starting with self-oiling practices (called self-abhyanga in Ayurveda). Sesame oil (more for Vata), Sunflower (more for Pitta), and Safflower or a light coating of sesame (more for Kapha.) Remember to warm the oil and apply it before showering.

2) Nasya oil is the administration of an oil or medicated oil into the sinus passages to ensure that dryness does not occur and wreak havoc.

3) Ensure that you are staying hydrated with electrolyte boosting beverages. NOT COLD OR ICY. Warming teas (for Vata/Kapha) such as Tulsi, Cinnamon, Ginger, Ajwan and mint, chamomile, chrysanthemum (more for Pitta.) Hibiscus/Rose tea is tri-doshic. 

4) Getting to bed earlier than what the summer has invited. Meaning that during the summer it is easier to stay up later because of the enthusiasm associated with the season but as nature goes into hibernation, so should we follow.  Bed by or before 11pm is ideal.

5) Awaken around 7 or earlier and get a move on. Get the blood flowing and lymphatic system stimulated. 

6) Exercise is important for so many reasons and exercising in the morning is the best time of day to exercise, according to Ayurvedic Medicine. If any exercise is done at night, it should be less stimulating and vigorous followed by a calming/cooling/soothing/gentle practice such as bathing in epsom salt with lavender, rose and even sandalwood esential oil drops added. This is to ensure that the excess pressure created by stimulating activities is reduced in the nervous system in order to support optimal rest.

7) Be mindful of eating three meals a day, generally. Follow the Guidelines for Healthy Eating to support better practices around digestion. 

8) Gauge whether you had enough Vitamin D intake during the summer. You can suggest to your primary care physician to test for Vitamin D levels. Note that they should be above 50 to be considered a hormone and a vitamin in the system. Studies have shown that less than that and numbers lower than 30 or even 20 can indicate some imbalanced activity within immunity and mood. Supplementation may be essential. Additionally, adding Vitamin A, B, C, D, and E all help from various perspectives the state of mind, immunity, and digestion. 

9) Eating seasonally is an ideal way to maintain health. First, know your constitution. Then know where/how far you are imbalanced and see how to match it up with the season. Think warm, soothing, oily, nourishing, building foods/beverages, as we transition with the foods/beverages that help to eliminate any excess heat from the summer. 

10) Food for thought:  In Ayurveda, we look at three primary aspects to health and maintenance thereof. First, Agni, which is the quality of the digestive fire. Next, Ama, which is the state of toxin in the body. Finally, Ojas, which is the state of immunity. Essentially, we want to RESTORE AGNI, REMOVE AMA, AND REBUILD OJAS. 

11) As one thing ends, another always begins. Similarly, as summer ends fall begins. Take time to slow down and "smell the roses." Notice what is present for you in this moment. Time speeds up when we let the mind get the best of us. Anchor in the moment by taking note of what is exactly showing up in the moment. Resisting the reality of what is real in this moment is what can cause more anguish and sorrow. Use the breath to anchor the mind to the body and follow the breath in the body to notice what feels contracted, versus expanded. What feels constricted, versus open? Accepting the reality of what is, can be challenging but what is more challenging is when we resist what is...right now. Slow down! So much is happening and when we try to forecast the future or hold onto the past we miss out what's happening now.

DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions. 

 

 

SUPPLY and DEMAND

What goes in must come out. What comes out says a lot about what comes in. We expect a lot from our bodies but do we give it the right foundation to provide us with what we need. Does the body get adequate nutrients? In Ayurveda, we say "we are what we digest" not "we are what we eat." So often do I hear from my patients the high expectations and demands from their bodies to continue to the lifestyle they are leading but don't understand why they are burning out (Pitta), fizzling out (Vata), or even not able to get the motivation to get things moving (Kapha.)

They come in with a go-go-go/on the go or lethargic background but after assessing them and finding how they are their own cause for not getting what they'd like from themselves. Ayurveda says that it is through diet and lifestyle that we can either maintain health or create disease. Lifestyle dictates the path for many and the more momentum the lifestyle has, the more of a vortex I've seen my patients get pulled into. Lifestyle has become so busy that the idea of sitting still and chewing at meals without distractions seems like such a foreign language. In today's hustle and bustle, I understand how this is possible. Technology has made things much easier and much busier that many have become enslaved by such things. 

Let's add to this that we (the western culture) continue to be inundated with so much information about what we should do to take care of ourselves that things get lost in translation. For instance, breakfast is the biggest meal of the day supposedly, lot's of protein is needed for everyone, exercise is good (whether daytime or nighttime), drinking water to stay hydrated (not realizing that more often than not iced water is included in this somehow, and many other examples. Yet, we don't  have a full context that can explain the do's and don't's that apply to us as individuals. Rather, things are applied in a general context and people are herded into a group, versus understand by their unique nature. This is a huge piece that is lacking and prevents the efficiency of health as being optimal.

Ayurveda has this to offer. It is a complete system of holistic healthcare that views the individuals based on certain patterns aligned with nature and has been proven to be the most effective for thousands and thousands of years. I spend a lot of time with patients correcting little things through the diet and lifestyle and have found nothing but amazing results, one step at a time and over time that it's beautiful. It is the most sustainable practice aligned with individual needs and nature that it becomes poetic once a groove is achieved. Initially, it can be tricky because it's like reprogramming and upgrading a program that is outdated. For instance, when someone in their 50's and 60's says that they "don't do oils in their cooking because they remember learning that oils were bad," to only learn through proper education and personal experience what a difference this can make. It's profound!

SUPPLY and DEMAND...

Give the body what it needs when it needs it. Simply, if someone leads a sedentary lifestyle then the indicated protein requirement as listed by the FDA is incorrect for these people. If someone is highly active, then maybe slowing down some but matching the demand of output to what they eat. Sometimes they "don't have time to eat" and either eat fast, on the go or skip meals, then this is even more harmful as the body needs time to take in food and then time to process the food. Eating smaller meals with protein can be helpful, especially since in these individuals their digestion will be inhibited.

Ayurveda discusses in great detail that once the digestive system goes out of balance the rest of the body has a domino effect towards ill health. Usually, the cause of this is the lifestyle but the main cause is the mind and its senses being drawn here and there, going more and more out of control. This is why in Ayurveda when we work with our patients we are addressing both mind and body, this is a journey for sure and definitely challenging for some more than others. Again, reprogramming. If we expect a lot of our body, our body expects us to cater to it. The more time we take to attend to it the body will return with amazing benefits. 

Here are some amazing articles I have written to consider:

Summary of Disease

Your Body is Your Guide

Digestion and Preventing Disease

It's up to each of us to make time for ourselves for the proper self-care that we deserve. By investing in ourselves we are guaranteed to support health and longevity. 

Some quick "food for thought":

1) Slow down. Don't let life drag you by its momentum. Remember that the momentum can be dictated by us and how we choose to engage. Some things are out of our control at times but setting an intention to start by doing the little thing's is a first step in the right direction.

2) Be as consistent as possible with these intentions. Pick one. Stick with it for some time. Then add another. Stick to this and repeat. Slow and steady wins the race. 

3) Don't over do it to compensate for the time's nothing is happening. Little by little. 

4) Patience, diligence!

5) If you're working hard (whatever it is that the body and mind are revved up with), then let the diet meet the demand. Let the rest/sleep also help to integrate and counter this. 

7) Don't expect or put so much pressure on yourself. Remember, the body is a reflection of what we're doing to it/for it and not. It will guide us if we pay close enough attention. Sometimes we need a bigger meal, sometimes we don't. Sometimes we need extra rest, sometimes we don't. 

8) Less attention to the mind and more to the body. The mind will endlessly distract us and find everything enticing through the senses, this doesn't mean to chase everything around. In fact, it's this changing that creates more ripples of confusion and invites in disease.

9) Let our digestion be our guide.  Any digestive disturbances, such as gas, bloating, indigestion, burning indigestion, mild constipation, sluggishness, is an indication that something is off and that pathology is beginning. Refer to the above-mentioned article on digestion. 

10) Let our energy levels be our guide. This is contingent upon so many circumstances but it is safe to say that there is some imbalance in digestion and sleep quality that will create pathology. Low energy can also be related emotional stress (conscious and subconscious.)

11) Make time for ourselves or our selves will demand time of us, as it caves in due to some illness trying to grab our attention. Ayurveda says that that disharmonious actions create the environment for disease formation and harmonious actions support immunity. If we don't make time for ourselves, when we become ill we blame the illness for happening which is ultimately the body and we wrong it meanwhile the body simply conveys through symptoms that something is out of balance and the symptoms progress enough until the really grab our attention and cause us to sit still, somehow. Making time for ourselves allows us to slow down and notice when things are accumulating and becoming out of balance so we can catch it before it progresses. 

 

DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions. 

STAYING COOL WHILE PLAYING IN THE SUN

This is the time of year where many individuals are excited about being outside and playing under the sun. From increased travel, vacations, retreats, to just the local outdoor activities. It's a great time of year because the sun is shining longer and brighter. So why not?

This is where it gets tricky. We want to soak in as much as possible because the experience with nature is opposite of winter where we are more often "stuck inside", and the nights are longer. The winter tends to provoke a sense of sadness and depression. The summer tends to be stimulating for all. Ayurveda says that the different "constitutions/doshas/bodily humors" and/or "types" will vary within their own experience. Dry heat tends to be enjoyed by Kapha (Spring types) more. Moist heat tends to be enjoyed by Vata (Fall/Winter types) more. Pitta (Summer types) can go either way. They either love the heat because they enjoy the overstimulation of it, or they dislike it and find misery in the heat. Each of these prodromal/precursory indicators suggests something about a potential imbalance that may be present. It depends. 

The heat can be drying, depletive. While it can be enjoyed right now, what happens today during this time of year is always setting the stage for what is to come as the upcoming season's approach. The body is a historical system. It records and stores much of what happens inwardly and outwardly. If an individual relishes in the heat excessively, especially depending on their constitution, they are setting themselves up for a health crisis later in the year. Examples like this are exactly what make Ayurveda a holistic system of medicine that is the most versed in prevention. 

A little bit goes a long way, especially with the sun. A lot of sun, can cause great harm to health. One physiological phenomenon that occurs this time of year is that the digestive system shifts to being centrifugal. What that means and how that looks is that the blood flow that naturally is focused on the abdomen and digestive organs become more dispersed this time of year as heat is expansive/dispersive in qualities, and the body attempts to cool itself down. The desire to eat may decrease for some as a result of this. The feeling to eat heavy and hot meals becomes almost an avoided task. This is why nature produces fruits and vegetables that cook in the sun during the day, fresh for picking, cooling and easier to eat. Minimal kitchen exposure required.  It is too hot to spend a few hours over a stove. It is easier to grill outside if any cooking should happen. 

In the winter this is opposite. The digestive system shifts back to being centripetal, which means that the heat is more centralized in the abdominal cavity in order to support digestion and overall health, and warmth. it's like returning from summer vacation and as fall approaches, the windows become shut, the heat in the home turns on, and the inhabitants are kept warm at the core. The digestive fire is like the furnace of a home. When it's cold outside, heat is turned up. When it's warm outside, the heat is turned down. 

This is all food for thought of course, according to Ayurveda. So, what is to be done today (this season) about achieving balance so that tomorrow (fall/winter) doesn't bear a burden as much?

1) AVOID THE PEAK SUN TIME, as this has a drying and depleting action. This is one of the reason why after spending a day at the beach most people are exhausted.

2) STAY PROPERLY HYDRATED: Drying of the skin, between chlorinated water/salt water and sun exposure not only tremendously increases risk for cancer, but many other skin conditions/health conditions. Stay hydrated by moisturizing the skin, which natural moisturizers such as olive oil and coconut oil. (not that over the counter synthetic stuff.) Stay hydrated by boosting electrolytes.

3) ICE, as tempting as it might seem this time of year more than any time of year, avoid intake of ice. ICE may seem to have a cooling aspect to it but this is FALSE. What actually happens it that rather than draw the heat out and cool, it pushes the heat deeper keeping it trapped in the core. Warm/room temp beverages are best as this invites the heat out of the body and supports the bodies natural thermoregulation. Ice is actually astringent and therefore drying. If you really tune in, you can feel how it drys out the back and roof of the mouth. If you know your anatomy, picture what organs reside behine the mouth and imagine how ice affects these organs..DIRECTLY. Not so good, right? Check HERE for more on ICE/COLD

4) KEEP YOUR HEAD COVERED when out in the sun. The heat of the sun loves to heat up the head, causing the organs of the head to overheat and therefore, causing the whole body to overheat. Talk about being "hot headed."

5) REST AS NEEDED. For some, as mentioned before, heat can have a depletive quality. Rest and especially proper night time sleep (between the hours of 10 and 6-ish) are ideal for restoring harmony and cooling the body. I know it's exciting to be out later at night but whether it is summer or winter or any other time of year, late night staying up causing a domino effect of health issues, which indirectly adds to the aging process. If need be, take a short power nap in the afternoon, say 15-25 minutes (max). This acts as a coolant and reset. There's a reason why many cultures like in France, Italy, and Mexico that they take a siesta during lunch time. 

6) ALCOHOL actually increases heat in the body, even if it comes in a cool form. Just thought you should know. 

7) AVOID DYNAMICALLY INTENSE ACTIVITIES/EXERCISES during the peak sun time. This actually causes more harm than good over the long run of things. Activities such as intense workouts, intense yoga practices, intense cardio practices (like running and cross-fit), and so on. I know, I'm sorry to break your heart if this is what you love to do but in the long run, this is about preventative care. Sweating profusely is highly damaging and depletive. It takes much longer than you think to restore the health and integrity of the body after so much of these activities are conducted.  Additionally, this goes for any time of year, exercising at night (unless a very passive practice before bed) is contraindicated. There is no better quality of sleep than the sleep acquired from a full nights rest. Period! That feeling of goodness after you have worked out hard is actually a basic indication of adreno-fatigue. That's not a good sign. Working out in the earlier part of the day actually sets you up for proper rest at night, which again supports optimal health on so many levels. 

8) SLOW DOWN THROUGH BELLY BREATHING. It is understood that the faster something goes the more heat it can create. The slower, the cooler something can be. Similarly, faster paced breathes engage the sympathetic nervous system which has a heightening and stimulating effect. Slowing down actually invites the parasympathetic nervous system response in the body which then can have a cooling effect. Deep belly breathing has a cooling, soothing effect. It also balances the abdominal organs governing digestion. Deep belly breathing pulls the mind down into a more grounded state, causing it to be calmer and centralized. Click HERE for the technique. 

9) SLOW DOWN in general! This will cool things down and allow the presence of life to be more revealing in the moment. Futuristic thoughts can provoke anxiety. Thoughts fixated on the past can be an anchor provoking depression. Slowing down to now is where everything is at.

DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions. 

 

YOUR BODY IS YOUR GUIDE

Ayurveda (the"science of life/longevity") is the most ancient system of complete holistic healthcare. It is rooted in the five elements, consisting of earth, water, fire, air, and ether/space. "As is above, so is below." From the top down, we see the must subtle descending into a grosser form, starting with ether/space and making its way down to a dense plane of existence being earth. Conversely, we ascend from an earthly plane back into the ethers, going from earth to ether/space. The wisdom of the elements in inherent in everything within the cosmos to the cosmos itself. This intelligence is the fabric of what we are made of and how we can function in the world. By understanding our relationship as the elements to the elements that surround us we can find our way into health, and discover why we may have ill health. 

So often do we look out there for answers to what is happening inside of us. It's great to have teachers reflect for us what it is that we may not be seeing for ourselves when in reality they are simply showing us what is there but we don't usually take the time to slow down and notice. 

Our body has its own inherent wisdom, intelligence, and abilities to communicate with us what is going on. It's actually quite simple, when we feel truly good then we must be doing something right. When we feel not so good, then we must be doing something that isn't that good for us. You see, the body communicates through symptoms, or the lack thereof. Not only that but on a more subtle level we can hear/feel an inner "guidance" that tells us in its own way which way to go or to stay. In other words, there is what some may call "intuition" and when we can experience this as a subtle whisper beneath the chaotic nature of the turbulent mind we can navigate our way through this time-space continuum.  

Ayurveda knows that when we experience imbalances it is because somehow we are acting disharmoniously.  Harmonious actions produce better health and disharmonious actions produce ill-health. When we take time to listen to the symptoms we can see how we can adjust our lifestyles in order to reduce or reverse symptoms. Ayurveda teaches us to pay attention to little things like gas, bloating, burping, sluggish digestion, nausea, burning indigestion, constipation, and colds. These are fundamental indications that something is out of balance with our relationship to diet and lifestyle. It is with the understanding of how we live through our diet and lifestyle that we can either discover health or create disease. Additionally, it is with realigning ourselves with nature, and with supporting our diet and lifestyles that any disease can be managed optimally, sometimes even to the point or total reversal. It all just depends.

As we enter into the next phase of the year, being summer, we can take note of whether the heat (dry/wet (humid), depending on climate/location) has a negative effect (for some more than others). If, as you transition into the hotter months, there are symptoms such as burning indigestion, diarrhea, fever, inflammation, acne, anger, and/or other heat producing/heat related symptoms, then this is a strong indication that you may have primarily a Pitta imbalance. Pitta being that combination of Fire with a little water in its configuration.)

When Vata, the combination of air and ether/space elements, is predominant, then symptoms become more intense as fall and early winter months take over. This tends to show up with symptoms such as dryness, constipation, even sleep issues (insomnia), or other neurologically related symptoms.  

Finally, if there is an increase in lethargy, heaviness, sluggishness, depression (melancholic), slow metabolism, or any other symptoms related to watery/earthy qualities, then this is an indication of Kapha present in the physiology. Kapha is the combination of water and earth elements. 

Primarily, Vata expresses with dryness; Pitta expresses with heat, and Kapha with heaviness. When we look at the previously mentioned symptoms such as gas, bloating, belching, this falls into the category of Vata related imbalances. In looking at burning indigestion, we note this as relating to Pitta. When we look at sluggish digestion, this relates to Kapha. Constipation can be caused by any of the three, Vata, Pitta, or Kapha (known as Sannipattika). Vata constipation could be dryness related in the colon. Pitta constipation can be heat, causing dryness in the colon. Otherwise, diarrhea is associated with Pitta as a response to the body's attempt to remove something that isn't ideal for the body or an indication of some provocation of inflammation. Kapha constipation tends to be due to excess mucus preventing peristaltic action. Colds can be a result of Sannipattika, or all three, depending on the causes of stress; again, relating to either dryness, heat or mucus accumulation.

This body of ours asks for our attention. Usually, the signs start out in subtle ways and when they get ignored they progress until they are screaming at us and the body isn't able to cope any longer. At this point is when western medicine provides us with a "diagnosis". Ayurveda seeks to prevent the elevation and progression of a disease by taking note of what the simple and subtle symptoms are and preventing them by "reversing the nidana" or reversing the etiology (cause). Which means that we have to become more aware of cause and effect. With the choices we make around diet and lifestyle, what comes into our minds, through the senses and what comes into our body through the senses, will determine what comes out. What comes out of the body, examples such as sleep issues, digestive issues, mental issues, are a result of what has gone into the body. 

Are we able to take the time to notice such things? The body isn't able to directly say "please don't eat that pizza with this cold because I'll stay sicker longer and get more mucousy" or "please don't stay up late because I'll have cravings for sugar and caffeine to give me energy (when I know I can do it naturally if only I got some adequate rest)." The body just shows us through symptoms relating to cause and effect, and when we can connect the dots we can see that the body has been communicating with us long enough, and to steer clear. Yet, when we are able to take heed and slow down to notice, for example, that soft tickle at the back of the throat or the dryness in the sinus, even that tickle in the ear(s), we will notice how this is the beginning of the cold that we don't want to get that may put us out for a few days. If we drink that warm veggie/chicken soup, get extra rest, take herbs/vitamins, and slow down with our demands, we can curve the direction in our favor and avoid the cold.

Otherwise, the opposite happens and then we complain about how "I don't have time for getting sick." Meanwhile, the body says "if I made more time to take care of myself and didn't sacrifice my health for my lifestyle, then I wouldn't have to get sick." Of course, I'm referring to general imbalances, as there are exogenous (external) factors that increase the chance of disease based on exposure, but even here Ayurveda still says that if we are strong enough in our body and our immunity is high, then the likelihood of incurring any illness is significantly reduced  if not completely eliminated. The latter is an ideal of course.

Anyways, the point of this article is to notice cause and effect. Take notice of what is present within the body and compare it to what is going in and what is coming out. Look at the life/lifestyle and examine the diet. Do you see any correlation? Prevention is key to maintaining health. Knowing how to live in accordance with nature and from our hearts/emotions/bodies, as guidance systems towards health and happiness. A bit of attention and self-care can go a long way. Ayurveda teaches us to be the master of our health. It takes time and patience, compassion, and slowing down to "smell the roses." Slow down because you're worth the time and effort. Remember, health is wealth. What's the point of seeking wealth when health is thrown under the bus? 

What is your body/heart telling you? What is your life telling you? See any correlation between what your life and lifestyle look like and what the quality of your health is?

DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions.

 

SEASONAL ALLERGIES GIVING YOU THE DRIPS?

This is the time of year where so many individuals are suffering from allergies as nature comes to bloom and releases pollen so that we can enjoy the fruits of summer. Ayurveda calls this the season of Kapha, which relates to Spring, and when nature gets excited to repopulate the fields and flourish us with her abundant beauty through a vast array of colors people are aggravated on an internal level as they are congested, drippy, sneezy and lethargy. Why does this happen?

First, Ayurveda states that Kapha dosha (the elements of water and earth) are aggravated this time of year by the sun as it grows in the atmosphere daily. What this means is that when winter and late winter expresses with cold, dry and heavy qualities, the atmosphere becomes suspended in time and space. The thawing, due to the sun increasing in the sky each day, causes this thawing to melt and this is when the lymphatic system becomes overwhelmed and is meant to detox. Nature supports this through diet as is  seen in the animals gnawing on baby vegetation in order to cleanse their own lymphatic ducts.

Similarly, humans undergo such a process. The issue is that humans tend to have a mind of their own and least likely support the natural detoxification that happens this time of year and therefore things tend to get backed up in the digestive system. The body is amazing in that it is a historical system and that its health depends on consistency of patterns, daily patterns/seasonal patterns in order to truly thrive. When the seasons are honored and aligned with your own constitutional makeup, you are more likely to achieve balance in our health. Ayurveda says that it is because many individuals aren't harmonious with diet and lifestyle that disease is more likely to form.

According to Ayurveda, a disease primarily starts in the digestive system and it is in the digestive system that we can implement a "cure" which transforms disharmonious actions into harmonious health. Slowing down down and listening closely to what the digestive systems is communicating, but so often it is the case that time to do so isn't taken until something happens, like feeling ill or coming down with some form of a disease.

Therefore, subtle signs such as bloating, gas, distention, mild constipation, burning indigestion and/or sluggish digestion are key indicators that something is beginning to brew. By monitoring the "little things" we can prevent the bigger things from occurring. This is the amazing offering that Ayurveda shares with us that is called "preventative care." Ayurveda goes so far as to saying that when we incur a cold, this is the first sign that shows us we are living disharmoniously within the diet and lifestyle, that has weakened immunity and creates susceptibility to the exogenous (external) causes of diseases.

In order to self-regulate and address pathogenesis or prevent pathology formation, Ayurveda has three primary ways of attending to maintaining and/or returning back to balance. 

1. REGULATE AGNI. Agni translates to fire, particularly Jatharagni which is the digestive fire (the enzymatic activities of digestion). This involves ensuring that the digestive system is the strongest.

2. REMOVE AMA. AMA (not the American Medical Association), refers to toxicity that occurs in the body, channels, and mind, developed from improperly processed or uncooked food/emotions. Ama creates blockages and can become a sticky, heavy substance like sludge or anything that obstructs the natural productivity of tissues, organs and cells.

3. REBUILD OJAS. Ojas is the actual state of immunity that results as a byproduct of proper digestion. When Ojas is strong and balanced within the body and mind,  disease is kept at bay. 

When Agni is low, Ama is high. When Ama is high, Ojas is low. When the desire of Ojas is to be high and strong,  support to agni is required in order to remove Ama so that the body can regain its immunity. It's not always that simple because the monkey mind lives through the five senses (taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound) which engage in the world and constantly distract us. The body inherently is designed to know what to do to take care of itself at all times, regardless of disease. When we don't slow down the and really listen to it OR we hear it, because it is understood that something is out of balance when the body produces symptoms (since this is the body's primary way of communicating with us), and it is ignored when the mind wants to do it anyways. This is the division of body and mind and is what is called Prajnaparadha, or "failure of the intelligence." HERE is an informative article on disease in general. Ayurveda teaches us to return to the body and honor its age-old wisdom.

In the case with Seasonal Allergies, as with pathologies in general, it is important to examine what is the quality of the diet and lifestyle is that supports health or discourages it.

Here are some things to consider in the management of seasonal allergies:

1) Avoid heavy, cold, unprocessed and overly processed foods. For instance, breads, pastas (unless quinoa, to some degree), and fermented foods/beverages like bread, alcohol and cheese. These are the types of food that contribute to ama when someone is prone towards allergies or wants to prevent them.

2) Avoid cold/ice/frozen anything as this impairs the capacity of the digestive system from functioning optimally. It's like having a campfire going and suddenly dousing it out with cold water. Just don't do it! By shutting down the digestive system, anything that is put into it becomes unprocessed and inevitably causes blockages since the liver is stressed, along with the other organs of digestion. This makes its way to the lymphatic system, which we have a lot of drainage points in the head and upper respiratory system, that shuts down and becomes blocked.

3) Proper lubrication of the mucous membranes is essential. The body possesses approximately 12 pounds of skin. This skin covers the internal and the external environment of the body. Dryness of the body and its membranous locations is one of the primary culprits that invites in disease formation. Commonly, dryness eventually brings in either inflammation and/or excess mucus production. Similarly, inflammation can provoke a mucigenous response where the body's defense against dryness and/or inflammation sometimes is to produce mucous for self-preservation.  Check HERE for more details on dryness. Ayurveda strongly emphasizes practices such as:

            a) Nasya- which is lubrication of the sinus passages with oils like ghee and sesame.

            b) Abhyanga - which is external application of oil in self-massage.

            c) Karna Purna - application of oil, such as sesame, in the ear canal.

            d) Gandusha - what is typically called "oil pulling" or "oil swooshing", with 2-3tbs. of sesame

            e) Netra - which is the application of ghee or a medicated ghee (clarified butter) in the eyes

            f) Basti - medicated oil enema, as needed and as supervised by a qualified practitioner.

When we feel a tickle in the throat or a scratchiness in the roof of the mouth, gandusha is great for removing this. When we feel like the eyes are dry, we can apply a drop or two of ghee at night before bed or go for a Netra Basti treatment which is an eye treatment where the eyes are swimming in warm ghee. (Feels amazing and rejuvenating!) When the ears feel itchy, we apply the oil. When the skin feels dry, we apply oil. When the digestive system is dry, the colon is one of the places where dryness can disturb absorption. Therefore, the basti mentioned above helps to lubricate this end of the body. Generally, oil helps to soften and lubricate the skin. It also serves to feed the microbes that live there, helping them to strengthen. Our first line of defense against the outside world and pathogens is the skin. Also, regular application of warm oil helps to increase longevity by decreasing the aging process. We can think of it this way. As we age, things tend to get dried up and break more easily. When keep things properly lubricated we can slow down this process...A LOT! We can see how this actually works when we observe children who are balls of mucus making machines and rebound quickly because of the youth. Additionally, there is more water present in their systems since the aren't that far from when they were swimming in the mothers' womb and lubricated, moistened for nine months. It's this level of hydration and lubrication that maintains a youthful appearance.

We also know that stress has a cold and drying effect. By warming up the inner and outer environment and by moistening them with oils and hydration (including electrolyte beverages, small amounts of diluted juices, and water) we can prolong aging and at least age with grace.

4) To help with dryness of the eyes, Rose water drops or spritz's throughout the day can be helpful. Just make sure you don't have any pre-existing health conditions that this practice may be a contraindication for.

5) Drinking warm/hotter beverages helps to keep the digestive system moving, clean, and balanced. We can't dissolve fat with cold water, we only add to it. Adding hot water to fat, dissolves it. Simple! Additionally, keeping proper hydration is a crucial component to supporting the body. Drink around 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water. Water boosted with electrolytes, like natural versions of gatorade can be quite helpful in hydrating the cells adequately and strengthening blood plasma and overall immunity.

6) Staying up late and sleeping in late, creates more inflammation and decreases lymphatic filtration. Staying up late and waking up early, increases dryness and effects the nervous system negatively. Going to bed early (around 10) and up early harmonizes the body and all its systems. We weren't meant to be nocturnal! (no matter how much we justify it)  Simply staying up late compromises every system, the digestive system, the lymphatic system, the nervous system and the immune system. 

7) Spices that contain the tastes of bitter, pungent, astringent, and minimal salt, such as turmeric, cumin, ajwan, mustard seeds, oregano, cardamom, cinnamon, thyme, basil, coriander, ginger, fennel, garlic and rosemary, help to regulate digestion. These tastes, bitter, pungent, astringent are good to work with this time of year. Just be mindful to not over dry as these spices have a tendency towards being drying but they can be balanced depending on how you use them and how you cook with them.

8) Nasal irrigation, which involves the famous Neti Pot, is excellent for seasonal allergies. When there is too much mucus present, which tends to be the body's means of reacting to inflammation/dryness, the neti pot helps to flush out the sinus and increases oxygenation in the brain and cells. Be mindful not to over neti as this in and of itself can have a drying effect on the sinus. Mainly perform this when you are aware there is a lot of congestion/mucus build up or that you have been exposed to environmental pollutants. This treatment is refreshing. Always follow it up with a little  oil lubrication to ensure immunity of the nasal passages. Note: follow proper instructions around neti, where adequate water temperature, adequate amounts of non-iodized sea salt (1/8 tsp.), and adequate quality of water being that it is filtered or distilled, is applied. Otherwise, the experience can be painful. Too much salt or too little salt produces burning. The head not tilted correctly will cause some of the drainage to go into the throat and the quality of water can also cause some burning. So, no tap water! Lastly, the best neti consists of using a ceramic pot. Metal is ok. Plastic isn't. Syringes and sprays are not correct either. I'm sorry/not sorry, to say.

          Note: The relationship of Neti and Nasya is a profound and beautiful one! It is a balanced approach strongly encouraged in the management of seasonal allergies. Combined with diet and lifestyle, it becomes amazingly supportive.

9) When it is difficult to perform the neti because one or both nostrils, or that the sinus cavities are very blocked, apply a warm eucalyptus compress for a few minutes. This should open it up so that you can do neti. Otherwise, take the neti into the shower and let the hot steam of the shower open up the sinus' first and then you can do the neti. 

10) Follow Guidelines for Health Eating. This will also help support the digestive system in being optimal.

11) Vitamins such as A, B, C, D, and E support immunity and manage stress levels in the body. We know that stress dries out the system and makes it susceptible to pathogens of all sorts. 

12) Exercise is ESSENTIAL! There's no way around it! Raising the heart rate through cardiovascular activities that are balancing, can regulate all the systems and the body/mind as a whole. Lymphatic stimulate is linked to the cardiovascular system as it requires a pumping mechanism to support functionality. Exercise is also a crucial practice that supports not only the heart but the body as a whole to move nutrients and toxins to their adequate locations. Exercise supports the blood sugar and insulin relationship. Exercise can help to detox the body, where the body uses sweat, urine and feces to release more efficiently whatever doesn't serve the body any longer. Exercise also helps to put you in your body which will aid you in listening to it more, since it desires your attention. Why wait for something to hurt before we pay the body any attention? Draining the body of its toxins prevents it from sticking around and becoming ama.

When attending to any imbalance, the cause is never just one reason. When attending to finding health and balance again, the remedy is never just one. It's a collective approach, and this is why it is called the W-Holistic approach. There are no quick fixes when it comes to "figuring" it out.

DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions.

DIGESTION AND PREVENTING DISEASE/DISEASE MANAGEMENT

In Ayurveda, we have an understanding that digestion is the foundation in which health develops from and where diseases mainly begin from. Digestion itself has a physical component where the actual experience of taking in food gets converted into usable forms of nutrition and cellular information, and it has a mental component that is dependent upon the state of mind involving the information coming in through the five primary senses (eyes, ears, nose, mouth and touch), as well as the emotional aspect of our relationship to the world. Both of these create a somato-emotional relationship responsible for either our well-being or our potential towards ill health.

Ayurveda has what is called Samprapti, which translates to the "six stages of disease." Otherwise known as pathology. These six stages consist of Accumulation, Aggravation, Overflow, Relocation, Manifestation, and Diversification. Accumulation and Aggravation present with prodromal (precursory/preliminary) symptoms that tend to go unnoticed, such as dry stools, gas, and a decreased ability or mild manifestation of constipation (relating to a Vata disturbance), burning indigestion (relating to Pitta disturbance), and sluggish digestion (relating to Kapha disturbance.) When any of these symptoms present themselves it is clear that there is a digestive disturbance that can slowly progress and produce more intense symptoms where these disturbances leave the digestive system and enter into the circulatory system (Overflow) and eventually making their way into a new home (Relocation-Manifestation-Diversification).

It is strongly and repetitively emphasized in Ayurvedic Medicine that healthcare begins by managing our health, disease and overall digestion in the first two phases of Accumulation/Aggravation. This is where diet and lifestyle come into play because it is understood that diet and lifestyle are what can create the foundation for health or illness. When we notice any digestive disturbance, which isn't always the case because they tend to start out as mild symptoms that get either ignored or unnoticed, it is imperative that we slow down and attend to these symptoms in order to prevent their further influence in our health. These subtle digestive disturbances are indications that the digestive system has been compromised and requires some attention. More often than not, the reason for these disturbances is because of an emotional stir-up and/or neglecting to follow harmonious practices in our lifestyle, which includes healthy eating habits.

Luckily, Ayurveda has noted "15 General Guidelines for Healthy Eating" and have been clearly pointed out in the first text of California College of Ayurveda. These 15 guidelines are:  

1) Food should be taken in the proper place. Meaning, that the environment that one eats in affects digestion. For maximum digestion, the environment should be calm, peaceful and pleasant. 

2) Eat food prepared by loving hands in a loving way. Food prepared for by loving hands is always more beneficial to the body than food prepared without awareness of the sacred.

3) Say grace before meals. Grace is an opportunity for meditation, chanting or saying a blessing before taking food.

4) Food should be eaten without distraction. According to Charak Samhita, the original texts of Ayurvedic Medicine founded by the first medical doctor known as Charak, "One should not talk or laugh or be unmindful while taking food. One taking food while talking, laughing or with distracted mind, subjects himself to the same trouble as the one eating too hurriedly. So one should not talk, laugh, or be unmindful while taking food." When the mind is distracted, food is not chewed properly and emotions that disturb digestion enter the mind.

5) Food should be taken with a proper frame of mind. When consuming food, the mind should be peaceful. If a person is anxious, angry, disturbed, or impatient, it is best to either skip the meal or meditate first. 

6) Food should be chewed until it is an even consistency. According to Charak Samhita, "One should not take food too hurriedly. If it is taken to hurriedly it enters into the wrong passage, it gets depressed and it does not enter the stomach properly. In this situation, one can never determine the taste of food articles or detect foreign objected mixed with them." Digestion begins in the mouth.

7) Food should be warm. Warm food is digested more easily than cold food. Cold food weakens digestion, is digested slowly and more likely to produce toxins.

8) Food should be taken that is oily or moist. Oily and moist foods are more nourishing than dry foods. Dry foods are difficult to digest and to eliminate. Still, food that is too oily is also hard to digest, as it is very heavy. Hence, all food should be moist and somewhat oily. 

9) Food should not have opposite potencies. This is the essence of Ayurvedic food combining. Food should not h ave opposte actions. Hot and cold foods taken together will be neither purifying nor tonifying. In addition, some specific combinations will be very difficult to digest, will vitiate the doshas (biological humors) and produce ama (toxins.)

10) Only a small amount of liquid should be taken with meals. When too much liquid is taken with food, the liquid reduces the strength of agni (digestive fire.) It is like putting water on fire. Hence, when too much liquid is taken, the doshas become vitiated and ama forms. While too much liquid is not good, so too, food is hard to digest if it is very dry. Hence, dry meals require about 1/2 cup of water. Moist meals, such as soup, do not require any additional water. If additional liquid is taken before or after a meal, a person should wait at least 1/2 hour on either side of the meal.

11) One should avoid cold drinks. Cold drinks weakens agni. Liquid taken with a meals should not come from the refrigerator. Drinks should be at room temperature or a little warm and in the proper quantity. 

12) Food should be taken with self-confidence. When taking food, it is important for a person to feel good about what they are consuming. Self-confidence motivates the internal forces of nature to support good digestion. A lack of self-confidence increases anxiety and interferes with digestion. 

13) Eat until you are 75 percent full. This is perhaps the most difficult challenge people have. Overeating suppresses the agni, increases the kapha dosha and increases ama. Scientists have stated that the surest way to extend life is eat at less. When the proper amount of food has been taken, a person no longer feels hungry. A person feels satisfied, not full. The body and mind should feel light and awake following a meal. 

14) Take some time to rest after meals. It is common for people to complete a meal and immediately get up and go back to being productive. Productivity or strong emotions immediately following a meal will interfere with digestion, vitiate the doshas and increase ama. It is best to rest for some time. Ideally one hour. This allows the first stage of digestion to be completed. During this time, a mild walk is proper or the reading of a peaceful book. Strong exercise and emotional excitement should be avoided. As many will find one hour difficult, any amount of time is better than no time. At the very least, a person should close their eyes and take several slow breaths before rising from the table. Taking rest doesn't mean falling asleep, although, it is common in some cultures to have a siesta but actually falling asleep versus light relaxation is contraindicated and impairs digestion. 

15) Allow three hours between meals for food to digest. Three hours is the minimum time it takes to completely digest food. Hence, the previous meal should be digested before the next meal is taken. If food is taken too soon, Ayurveda teaches that ahara rasa (undigested food) will mix with the new food. The result is stated to vitiate the doshas and cause disease. The appetite should not become strong until the previous food is digested. Hence, if the desire to eat again comes quickly after a previous meal, one should ask oneself whether the desire is genuine hunger or whether it is simply sensory desire arising from some other source such as emotional dissatisfaction or anxiety. 

 Whether for disease prevention (healthcare) or disease management (sick-care), Ayurveda addresses both at the basic level of working with diet and lifestyle. In both cases, diet and lifestyle is where it all starts. What you put into your body, including sensory interaction, determines what comes out of the body. What is your digestion telling you?

DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions. 

WHAT'S UP WITH THE WEATHER?: AND HOW TO STAY HEALTHY

I don't know about you, but here on the East Coast we are having such inconsistent weather patterns and I'm seeing so many people falling ill. It can be challenging to navigate general seasonal changes and transitions but when we have multiple types of weather within one season that absolutely doesn't fit the normal pattern, people have a difficult time with keeping up.

I feel there is a collective eagerness to just have winter over with so that we can have more steady climate of warmth and moist (rains/humidity etc.) This climate has been going from hot to cold to dry to moist and everything in between and so quickly. We went from 60 degrees to 70 degrees to 47 degrees within three days. Knowing that things are fluctuating as much as they are, causes intense stress on our digestion and state of mind. In Ayurveda, the key to health and the main root of most diseases begins in the digestive system and in the mind. Therefore, this is where we address things at the simplest and subtlest levels.  In Ayurveda, we note that there are is a six step process or pathology to disease. You can read more about it HERE. It is clear that when we can catch the initial digestive disturbances that we can prevent further ailments from developing. These are the little symptoms that tend to go unnoticed. For instance and primarily, the main subtle digestive disturbance for Vata predominant imbalances is gas and mild constipation; for Pitta, we have burning indigestion and for Kapha predominant imbalances we have sluggish digestion. This is the phase known as Accumulation/Aggravation (Sanchaya/Prakopa), and where we can address diet and lifestyle without the usage of herbs/medications (usually.)

Currently, with the weather patterns being as they are, it is IMPORTANT to take note of how dryness and coldness are still present. Even when we have a 70 degree day, the night air and the subtle quality of the air is still slightly cool, which varies in comparison to the 70 degree day we have in May. This quality of air is important to be aware of because this is what slips into the nervous system and digestive system, wreaking havoc. In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) this is called "wind" and in Ayurveda it is called a Vata disturbance or vitiation. The dryness can enter into the digestive system and slowly dry up the pre-existing membranes where ever natural mucus shows up in the body. This mucus is healthy Kapha and this form of kapha also shows up in the plasma of cells, known as Rasa, which requires utmost hydration and fortification through dietary intake, and adequate lymphatic stimulation. You can learn more about catching the dryness before it catches you by reading this article. HERE

As eager as many people are to wear shorts on 70 days and bundle up again, just as quickly the next day, this all adds up to systemic stress. In order to not overheat and still feel comfortable, I recommend wearing comfortable and lighter clothing on warmer days but keep the extremities, especially the neck, protected and covered.  

Below are some simple recommendations that have helped many of my patients, and can help you:

1) Be truly mindful that the official mark of spring is around the corner and it was still February when it was February and we are now entering into March. By being mindful we can keep in mind that it's not summer yet and to not go extreme from shorts to sweats, but to find a happy medium by wearing light cotton clothing that still protects the surface of the skin and keep the back of the neck protected because this is one of the ways "wind" enters into the nervous system. Both Ayurveda and TCM point out that there are two entrance ways, located around C1-C2 (cervical discs) that allow for the wind to enter.

2) Stay hydrated, not as much with plain old water but more with water that has been infused by a light juice and pinch of salt, making it a natural "gatorade" that supports hydration of the cells through osmosis and encouragement of the sodium-potassium pumps. This strengthens the cells' outermost layer. This "gatorade" which is an electrolyte booster can be made simply with some 1/4 lime juice, 2 tbs. maple syrup, 2 cups filtered water, and pinch of sea salt.

3) Properly oleating the body with ingestion of oils such as Flax Seed, GHEE (number 1), and coconut oil. Olive oil is okay.

4) External application of oil through massage or what Ayurveda calls "Self-Abhyanga." Banyan has a great and balancing formulated oil called "Daily Massage Oil." See this LINK. Type in Daily Massage Oil. 

5) In alignment with the above, it is important to oleate the exposed mucous membranes, such as the mouth, the eyes, the ears and the nose. For the nose, we use a medicated oil or a basic oil such as ghee or sesame and apply it with a dropper, a finger or the tip of a Q-tip. For the eyes, we can spritz the eyes with pure rose water and/or add a drop of ghee in each eye before bed. For the ears, we can add a drop of ghee or sesame oil before bed. For the mouth, we can ingest oils through cooking and/or do what is called Gandusha (Oil Pulling) with 2tbs. of sesame oil. Keeping these orifices moist is imperative to our health. The elements can externally affect and afflict these areas, and what we take in (or don't take in) through diet, can affect the quality of our skin, internally and externally.

6) Ensure that foods are still warm and not too heavy, and not too light (like basic cold salads.) It's too soon for the latter, though we are encroaching upon sprouting season and baby greens, along with seasonal fruits that begin this time of year which include blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries.

7) Teas like pure Tulsi, Turmeric and Ginger; even combined, make a powerful brew to keep away the immune blues. 

8) Drinking teas means AVOIDING anything cold and icey. Cold and ice actually create dryness due to its astringent nature which pulls water versus fortifies it. Read my article on ICE for more details. Ice isn't nice but it is cool.

9) Vitamins such as A,  B complex, C and D are great for regulating immune system functioning, working as adaptogens to counter stress and bring balance to the body and mind.

10) Herbs such as Tulsi, Turmeric, Ashwagandha, Ginger, Guduchi, Ginseng, Licorice and Astragalus. One of my favorite herbal formulas that really goes deep and quick is Immune Support from Banyan Botanicals. This formula is great for when there is even just a tickle in the throat, scratchy or the overall feeling like something is coming on, in terms of some basic imbalance like a cold/cough/flu. 

11) Remember, it's not summer yet and thinking these independently hot days in the middle of spring is a sure sign of predictability, think again. The unpredictability should raise awareness to be more mindful of being in the present moment and making better choices in the grander scheme of things. Meaning that it is still March is March and a hot day doesn't make it July. In knowing that there is instability and we must find some sort of common ground in each day in order to ensure health remains level and least stressed but the fluctuations of climate. If we meet the extremity with extremity, we are sure to meet turbulence in our health.

12) "The body is a historical system and depends on consistency for its health maintenance." - Mary Thompson. Food for thought.

 

DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions. 

 

STORY OF DISEASE: An Ayurvedic Understanding

There's a fascinating story I've heard that describes the "Summary of The Process of Disease Formation," according to Ayurvedic Medicine. First, disease begins when we forget our true nature. This is known as the "Primordial Cause" of disease. We forget how we as spirit are spiritualizing through the human experience. According to Marisa Laursen, a professor at the California College of Ayurveda, "the mind is a place of purity and clarity. The thought comes along and disturbs the mind. Thought is part of ego and the chatter becomes the smoke screen that disturbs us from the true self." The ego creates stories and draws upon attachments to the past and projections of the future, constantly shape-shifting and vacillating between the two; preventing us from being absolutely absorbed in the present moment because it fears its cessation. There is a sacred text called the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the first line of the yoga sutras states "yoga chitta vritti nirodha", which means that "Yoga (union/merging) involves the cessation of the disturbances of the mind." There are 195 sutras or verses and of the 195 versus the 194 verses show us how to accomplish verse number one. 

The process and movement of time, which is known as "Parinama" or that which relates to things that change, is the next cause and contributing factor. There are two aspects to time. One relates to Linear time, which is out of our control because this involves the cycles of the earth revolving around the sun and the changes of season. The second form of time consists of Biological time, which, though is in our control, it is dynamic. This is because the pacing of biological time changes with response to our motion and as motion increases, the rate of biological time increases. With this, the body either ages faster when we are moving faster and more slowly when we slow down. A busy mind causes us to perceive time as moving quickly and a mind that is still and more anchored in the present moment, time slows down. When the mind moves quickly, the body will reflect this and as the mind moves slower, the body will reflect this too.

Once we experience a busy and chaotic/distracted mind, we come to the next step where disease develops. This experience is called "Prajnaparadha" or "crimes against wisdom/failure of intelligence". What happens here is that on some deep level we know what is right for us but we allow our minds to convince us otherwise and we make opposite choices. Our intellect is constantly being used to make decisions and it prefers to choose between pleasure and harmony. This is where the ego feeds off the senses and uses the senses to support its own happiness somehow as it pursues outer pleasures to satisfy itself and perpetuate its own existence through separation/division. Dr. Marc Halpern, President and Founder of the California College of Ayurveda, says "While the ego and the senses speak loudly within the great hall of the mind, the soul speaks in whispers." When we allow our inner wisdom to be ignored, it's because we have given our power away to our senses and this leads to the next place where the five senses, the eyes, ears, mouth, the skin, and smell dictate our interaction with the world.

This is called "Asatmendryartha Samyoga" or "unwholesome conjunction of the senses with their objects of their affection." Dr. Marc Halpern further explains: "When people take into their body that which does not match their constitution, they are considered misusing their senses. In addition to taking in what is not harmonious, a person may also take in too much or too little of what is energetically harmonious for that person. This too will cause disease."

What is amazing is that of all the healthcare systems in the world, only Ayurveda has come up with an adequate and full definition of what is health. Other systems, like Allopathy, define health as the "absence of disease" but Ayurveda says this "Sama Dosha Sama Agnis ca Sama Dhatu Mala kriya Prasannatmendriya Manah Svasta itiabhidyate" which means "balanced constitution(Vata/Pitta/Kapha), balanced digestion, balanced tissues, balanced waste products (urine, feces, sweat), balanced senses (eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin), balanced mind (sattva, rajas,tamas), and alignment with spirit is what healthy is." Any disturbance or abnormality in any of these is an indication of disease. 

Additionally, Ayurveda has broken down disease pathology into six stages, known as "Samprapti." Each of the stages can be understood as such: Accumulation, Aggravation, Overflow, Relocation, Manifestation and Diversification. There is an image that helps to grasp these concepts more easily. Let's say we have a tree and the roots are the doshas (tendencies towards imbalances based on constitutional determinants, of Vata, Pitta and Kapha) and these roots are below the surface. What is above the surface is the trunk of the tree and this represents Overflow, where the blood and plasma exist as part of the circulatory system. As the tree progresses upward, the branches form and this is known as the Relocation Phase. From the branch, we have a bud and this budding is the Manifestation of the disease. After it starts to bloom and this blooming is the full-fledged experience of the disease, known as Diversification. According to Ayurvedic prevention and management of disease there is a natural cycle that happens throughout the year and with each season. As one season is present, that is the Aggravated Phase and the season that just left has now been Alleviated but while we are in the Aggravated Phase the next season is already Accumulating.

As each Dosha (biological constitution, that is prone to decay) undergoes this experience of time/season change, the natural Alleviation of particular symptoms occurs. IF or WHEN, for some reason or another, this cycle is interrupted and Alleviation is prevented, we enter into Overflow and this is when a disease is really progressing. In other words, it is during the Accumulation and Aggravation phases that this is the beginning of a disturbance that begins in the digestive system. Commonly ignored, may appear subtle or overt, disturbances would be: sluggish digestion (weak/low digestive fire = Manda Agni), gas/dry stools (variable digestion = Vishama Agni), and/or burning indigestion (sharp digestion = Tikshna Agni). Low digestion relates to Kapha. Variable digestion relates to Vata and sharp digestion relates to Pitta. Balanced digestion is called Sama Agni where there are no digestive disturbances. It is during the Accumulation and Aggravation phases that we can catch a disease from further progressing but we are usually too busy and less sensitive to notice and we keep pushing ahead until other symptoms develop and scream for out attention. It is at these stages that, according to Ayurveda, that we can simply balance our diet and lifestyle, making better choices that we can prevent diseases from increasing. When the symptoms have progressed and they enter into the circulatory system then we have to intervene with herbs/medications and other therapies. Regardless of what stage a disease is at, diet and lifestyle must be adjusted in order to secure the optimization of health. Herbs/medications alone are not meant to do the job completely as we are whole beings and not just treating parts of a body/mind. This is the holistic approach and effort. Even when herbs are administered, diet and lifestyle provisions are made to ensure success or at least make some improvements. 

Prognosis is about the likelihood of improvement and/or correction of a condition. Disease, depending on what stage of development it is at can always be managed. There are diseases that are Easy to cure, Difficult to cure, Incurable but not terminal and Terminal.  Disease starts out as "dis-ease" and picks up momentum until it has completely manifested itself as disease and by returning ease through our diet and lifestyles we can encourage disease to return back to ease. Importantly, this ease also involves supporting the well-being of a person through their state of mind. I've said for many years now, that it's about the little things that build up to the big things.

There are of course extenuating circumstances that are to be factored into all this, circumstances such as external factors like accidents and other outside variations of trauma that can influence health and disease pathology. Karma falls into this and it is important to remember that karma is not about blame or judgment but about balance. Karma is not about punishment or reward, it is about balance. In Ayurveda and Yoga, we know that karma is a result of selfish acts and by being selfless we can release ourselves from the cumulative effects and experiences of karma. This is a discussion that requires further exploration at another time and escapes the main purpose of this present article which is meant to give a general understanding and summary of the cause of disease. This current article is meant to share a perspective and expand our lens on the possibilities that surround dis-ease leading to disease. Simply, we can always either prevent or manage.

In summary, take note of what your senses are doing. Take control of them. They are like the five horses without a charioteer and once the charioteer takes hold, the horses can be guided. Similarly, our innermost and highest version of ourselves is the charioteer and when we take hold of the five senses we can get a better handle on our lives. Ayurveda has in place a five sense therapy protocol designed to support this process and journey. With regard to other stressors, by reducing the stress we experience as the mind stresses because of past and future projections and attachments, we can feel more in touch with what is happening to day and embrace the grace of the moment that invites us to be intimate with it. Practices such as, yoga, Ayurveda, meditation, Tai Chi, and other holistic modalities are meant to support us in remembering who we are and what we have come here for. When we remember who we are by escaping the illusions and story-telling of the mind rooted in the attachment to past and future events, we will find our interactions with the world coming from a more wholesome place and the choices we make will be more in alignment with what is true in our hearts and not what we think is true in our minds.

Click HERE to read this article on daily practices honoring a ritual of time and that supports us into wholeness. 

CATCH DRYNESS BEFORE IT CATCHES YOU!

It couldn't wait until February!

It is with great urgency and passion that I write this current article to help prevent any further health distress this time of year. Since my last article and since right after the holiday's, I've seen many people and treated many patients with colds, virus', digestive issues such as gas and constipation, and other upper respiratory ailments. These are all conditions that can be prevented if we know where and how to catch it from starting. Frankly, it's quite simple! The main culprit is dryness. Dry membranes and orifices; ranging from dry eyes, dry ears, dry noses, dry mouths, dry skin, dryness of the vagina and dryness of the rectal opening. According to Ayurveda, when dryness is experienced in these areas it is a result of the air element imbalance, otherwise known as Vata Dosha vitiation. 

Vata season starts in late fall and goes until early winter. As we transition from this season to Kapha season, which is late winter and beginning of spring, the common quality is cold. Coldness has an astringent quality. The astringent quality possesses inherent elements of the air and earth. In that, this air can have a drying quality. Cold and dry qualities can cause water to be pulled out of the atmosphere. Cold and moist, which are common qualities of Kapha season and the aspect of coldness in the later winter months, causes the air molecules to be trapped and grounded until heat enters into the atmosphere to release us from cold and heaviness through the moisture. It is with the cold qualities that we have to really pay attention to and how it affects the mucous membranes of the above-mentioned locations. 

In the Accumulation and Aggravation phase of pathology, which is the first and second phase of the Six Stages of Disease Pathology, when Vata is vitiated we will generally complain of dry/hard stools and/or even constipation, along with gas/flatulence. As it enters into the stage of Overflow, the third phase of pathology involving the circulatory system, a generalized systemic dryness occurs. Vata has first entered into the digestive system and made its way into the circulatory system. Dryness continues and essentially and inevitably, the membranes of the body and cells experience dryness. Ayurveda tells us that when we are facing cold and dry qualities, that the antidote is warm and moist. Ayurveda also tells us that though we must be protective of our mucous membranes that are exposed to the outside, such as in the nose, mouth, eyes, ears and skin, we must also understand that the digestive system is where we have to maintain the proper moisture. Therefore, Demulcents and Carminatives (digestive stimulants also called Dipanas in Ayurveda) are categories of herbs that help to reinstate the homeostasis of the mucous membranes.  Ayurveda states that when we catch the qualities of Vata, which are dry, cold, light, subtle and mobile, in the first and second phase of pathology, we can reverse the development of related conditions through remedies simply targeting diet and lifestyle. It's not until the pathology has entered into the third, fourth, fifth and sixth stages that we will require specific herbs and other therapies. Therefore, catching an imbalance in the first and second phases is key to reversing it before it spirals deeper. 

Here are some quick and immediate considerations as far as diet and lifestyle:

1) STAY AWAY from anything cold, raw and frozen! (In general, but especially this time of year.)

2) STAY AWAY from ICE! Coincidentally, as an Ayurvedic Practitioner, it is my "job" to observe my surroundings and I'm constantly observing people in their actions and witnessing cause and effect. For example, recently a friend of mine on Facebook posted that he was at Dunkin Donuts waiting for his Iced Coffee and it was freezing outside but that he was freezing. I asked him if he was going to feel warmer by drinking an iced coffee on a cold/icy day. He didn't respond. People..it's a no brainer! If it's cold outside, don't put any cold into the body! Period! Click here for the article on ICE.

3) Foods that are warming, generally through a spicy (pungent) nature and not too heavy, this time of year is ideal. Soups are amazing and even better for dinner for many reasons. Spices such as cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, fresh or dry ginger, basil, fenugreek, turmeric, black pepper, chili flakes/powder and cayenne. Remember that spices such as these can increase warmth but it is important to have demulcents and oils in the diet to maintain the heat in the body more effectively, otherwise the nature of pungent spices can also invite dryness because the pungent tastes consists of air and fire elements. Sweet and Savory (combination of sweet and salty), in moderation, helps to moisten the tissues and that is because the sweet tastes consists of earth and water elements, and the taste of salt, consists of water and fire. This is why some salt should be added to all foods because it is the salty taste that interacts with the tongue by stimulating particular taste buds and that it helps the tongue to recognize the other flavors in any particular food. Sweet is also evidently highly noticeable.

4) Lubricate the eyes, ears, mouth, nose and skin. Ayurveda has numerous practices that are highly effective in addressing this. A simple drop of oil, like ghee, here and there goes a long way. Add a drop of ghee in the eyes. Sesame, a drop or two, in the ears. Sesame oil for oil pulling/gargling. A drop of ghee or sesame for the each nostril. As for the overall skin of the body, see #6 below. Making sure that the nose, eyes and mouth are at least moist before bed is very important. Throughout the day, I have some of my patients bringing with them a small bottle of oil to moisten the nose. 

5) Hydrate with teas like licorice and Tulsi, or Cinnamon and Turmeric with a few drops of coconut oil or ghee. Remember, demulcents! Demulcents such as licorice, slippery elm, marshmallow, gokshura, shatavari, cinnamon and flaxseed. You can throw in chia seeds too! Additionally, small amounts of room temperature juice or "natural gatorades", for the purposes of replenishing and maintaining the balance of electrolytes, helps to strengthen and moisten the plasma (Rasa Dhatu) cells of the body when then contributes towards the health of mucous membranes throughout the body. 

6) OIL and FOMENTATION: Warm oil massages are an essential key to healthcare and immunity boosting, in Ayurveda. Kapha predominant types only require a very light coat of oil, Pitta a medium coat and Vata can benefit from more oil; always warm though (never cold or room temperature oils). Then, fomentation is imperative. Dry heat is better for Kapha and moist heat is better for Vata. Pitta predominant individuals only need to be exposed to heat for a few minutes. Vata's shouldn't over sweat because this can further dry them out. Excess heat can also effect Pitta predominant individuals in this way. Additionally, ensure that your daily diet has healthy oils including ghee and coconut oil. As food is cooked, this is the heat element that guides the oils into the body and helps to lubricate not only the digestive tract but also the joints and tissues in the brain known as the CSP (CerebroSpinalFluid.)

7) Cover your head, ears and neck; the neck especially when traveling about. According to both Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, there are two specific points in the back of the head where the wind can enter very easily. When this happens, the wind enters into the nervous system and begins its process to wreak havoc throughout the nervous system. 

8) Proper rest! Meaning, get to bed no later than 11 and up earlier, not long after sunrise, ensures that the digestive system is working more optimally. Proper rest also supports immunity. Immunity primarily depends on the digestive system. Staying up late is a type of stress recognized by Ayurvedic medicine that creates imbalances in the digestive system, immune system and nervous system which are interdependent; with the primary focus being the digestive system. According to Ayurveda, many diseases have their roots in the digestive system and Ayurveda says that all diseases can be addressed through the digestive system. Optimal sleep happens at night, not the day time. The qualities of day sleep aren't as rejuvenative as it they are at night time. Sleep helps the nervous system, during a parasympathetic process, of lubricating the entire body, starting with the digestive system and then nervous system.

9) For other recommendations around supporting physical and mental health this time of year, check out the recent articles since September through this link.

Remember, once dryness gets in, it's tricky to get out, so Ayurveda says prevent it from coming in and from going deeper which can cause problems in other parts of the body and mind, and affect overall health. 

If you'd like further assistance with improving your quality of health, feel free to contact VISHNU for an appointment.

 

 DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions. 

 

 

POST-HOLIDAY'S BLUES? AND HOW TO KEEP IT MOVING

Winter can be challenging to some people more than others.  In Ayurveda, we generally can divide the winter season into two phases. The first phase, begins in early fall and to early winter. This is considered Vata season (generally October to January); its primary qualities are cold, light, dry, rough and subtle. Therefore, Ayurveda remedies these attributes with warming/heating, heavy, moistening and soft qualities. The second phase, begins in late winter to spring where snow starts to thaw out, which is Kapha season. The typical Kapha qualities of cold, heavy, moist and smooth with warming/heating, lightening, drying qualities and rough attributes.  And, just to complete the basic understanding of the seasons, we can briefly mention Pitta, consists of the qualities of Hot, moist, light and sharp; which mainly exists in the season of summer, starting around June and ending around September. 

In Ayurveda, we know that Kapha actually becomes aggravated when the sun starts to thaw out the snow. It's not so much during the accumulation and aggravation phase of Kapha season that aggravates Kapha. For instance, the snow keeps adding and compacting itself under the influence of cold and moisture, with dryness in between as things freeze from the air influence. Kapha keeps getting bigger and bigger. It can become eventually stagnant and simply stop moving. The way this manifests in the body is that it there is a blockage that occurs. Weight increases, sluggishness increases and a lack of motivation increase. It's with the addition of heat that causes Kapha to liquefy and melt, causing the drippiness that so often occurs during the spring time. Yet, it is this Kapha that is liquefying that requires even more support to keep it moving efficiently, even for Kapha types.

As we start to feel heavier this time of year, it's important to keep things moving by adding heat not only in our homes but through your digestive homes. Otherwise, we are left feeling sluggish which then contributes us to have lymphatic congestion, lethargy and an overall sense of heaviness. For Pitta predominant types, which is the general manifestation of fire in the physiology, this heaviness isn't as much of an issue. To the Pitta person, the sun is generally shining consistently and each day. Though, as a Pitta predominant person myself, I can say that after prolonged cloudiness I am affected somewhat and more inclined to either push hard to motivate myself or surrender and do some hibernating. Anything for too long, can cause each of the three types imbalances. It's with awareness being the first step to change that we can influence our health. For instance, understanding the ebb and flow of the seasons and the qualities they manifest, compared to our constitutional configuration of the elements is a good preventative way to making changes that will align us with optimal health. Another example, is knowing that there is a general flow and progression that happens after summer is over when the autumn climate enters into the atmosphere and the momentum towards the holiday season picks up. This momentum usually ends in a climax and once we have reached the peak of the holiday season, where gifts and foods are shared, it happens to be somewhere in late December to beginning of January that many people feel the drop after the holiday excitement and rush. Emotions can be amplified, magnified and stimulated during the holiday season when the heart strings are tugged upon.  Once the running around has come to a halt, adrenaline, cortisol are now reduced and in some cases exhausted. Let's add in that during this time of festivities we are challenged on various levels that compromise sleep, exercise and eating patterns.

These previous examples are some ways to keep in mind as we undergo the yearly cycles. Within this reflection on this time of year, we can come to our own conclusions to where we are at and determine the best protocol to help regain or remain in good health. We know that such stress of the holidays can challenge our immunity, that combined with the poor sleep patterns, eating habits and fluctuations in exercise (if any) can cause the body to be compromised and this is why it is common for many people to suffer the consequence and have symptoms such as colds, flu's, other respiratory infections, depression, anxiety, constipation, congestion, lethargy, and fatigue. Monitoring the atmospheric qualities as the vacillate from dry to moist with the common quality of cold makes the whole situation trickier. Homeostasis is essential to maintain health. The body is a historical system and requires consistency of daily routines to maintain health. 

So here are some recommendations to help with transitioning into January as we move through winter.

1) Check out this recipe. This soup will help to stimulate digestion, keep the lymphatic system moving, the mind clearer and inspired and the body lighter. 

2) The article I wrote last month regarding Seasonal Affective Disorder has a list of great recommendations that are still helpful here and this month through the month of April. Check it out here

3) There are six tastes in Ayurveda. There are three tastes that decrease Kapha which are Bitter, Pungent and Astringent. Whereas, the three tastes that increase Kapha are sweet, salty and sour. When Kapha has increased, we want to decrease it. If there appears to the following symptoms of congestion, excess mucus, increased weight, lymphatic sluggishness, mucus in stools, slow(er) digestion, lethargy, melancholy and an overall sense of heaviness, then it's safe to say that Kapha has vitiated. It's more common for Kapha predominant individuals to experience this more easily and feel more aggravated by these symptoms during this time of year.  

4) Favor light and airy, over dense and heavy foods. Favor warm over cold foods. Favor drying foods over moistening. (Unless you have Vata in your constitution.)

5) This breathing technique is great for Kapha. It is called Solar Breathing

6) Digestive enzymes/stimulants are great this time of year. One of my favorite recommendations for sluggish digestion is a formula called Trikatu, what Banyan Botanicals calls "Kapha Digest." Other spices such as cayenne, dry ginger, dry garlic, oregano, chili powder, red pepper flakes, Thai Spices and Cajun Spices are great because they stimulate appetite and digestion.

7) A sluggish liver can also cause sluggishness in the whole body.  Herbs like Kutki, Guggul, Chitrak, Black Pepper, Turmeric, Cinnamon and Ginger are great for moving things as well. These herbs can be purchased through this link of Banyan Botanicals. Here's a tea called "Warm You Up", that is great to add to your daily regimen.

8) As always, increasing cardio activity is essential to get it all going, including digestion, circulation, lymphatics and respiration. Increasing oxygen in the cells has a stimulating effect in general. Make yourself go for a hike. Go up and down your stairs with a purpose, or simply make the purpose to go up and down the stairs as an activity. Just move it. Go exercise.

9) Get to bed by 10/11 and up by 6, 7 the latest. Sleep regulates metabolism. When we stay up late we increase cravings for sweets, carbs and caffeine later in the day.

10) General meal rules: Breakfast by 8, is a light breakfast (if any and if you're hungry). Lunch is the MAIN meal and between 10 and 2. Dinner is a light meal. It is supplemental and I usually tell my patients that dinner should be half the portion of lunch, no later than 7. The later the meal, the less it is digested and the more it accumulates in your body becoming unused food and stored in your fat cells. The body is meant to be burning the right amount of fat, which happens mainly through diet and exercise. Avoid snacking. This is a powerful piece information because by avoiding snacking you force the body to burn fat as fuel, the way it was designed to. Snacking only prevents this process. If you're craving something, it's usually due to lack of proper sleep or a balanced diet, more specifically lunch. Additionally, cravings can also indicate a lack of adequate hydration. So drink more hot liquids and juices for electrolytes.

11) Food for thought. Cravings can also be attributed to emotional factors that require your attention. Check it all out before you indulge in sweets. We tend to substitute the lack of internal sweetness with external supplementation, as we are always trying to capture the sweetness of life. 

12) Keeping a healthy level of hydration is important for the cells and for metabolism as well. It is usually said that drinking half your body weight in ounces of water is great. Though, if you already have too much water in your body then diuretics are essential to balance the water system of the body which also regulates sugar metabolism. Hot water is ideal for Kapha and Vata types. Pitta should be on the cooler side but not cold and definitely NO ICE for any of the constitutions. Ice, according to Dr. Marc Halpern "Ice/chilled water, creates a rapid superficial coldness which causes the excess heat in the body to be trapped in the core of the body and causes more heat. It is considered a stress in Ayurveda." You can read more about ice here

13) I discussed at the beginning of this article the basic manifestations of each season and relative qualities. Similarly, these are the qualities that express themselves in the body and mind, which Ayurveda takes great pride in assessing with regards to individual constitutions. This is why in Ayurveda we know that learning about your constitution is a critical component to understanding the prevention of imbalances and the return from imbalances to a healthier state. Therefore, a consultation with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner is a great investment for a happier now and a healthier future. 

 DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions.