Yoga for Your Type

Starting your day with just ten minutes of yoga and breath work can be the difference between a calm, collected mind and a scattered, anxiety-ridden mind. However, are you practicing the right kind of yoga for your type? Read More

1 Chicken - 3 Nights of Fabulous Fall Dinners

I don't know about you, but my body is screaming "Comfort Food!" I crave those foods that keep me grounded when the fast winds are blowing and warm when the snow and rain are falling. Our bodies are so intelligent - when they are balanced, they crave exactly what mother nature is providing for us in that season. Read More

Sweet + Warming Slow Rice Pudding

all is here, and with it comes cold, fast winds. In Ayurveda, fall and early winter are considered Vata seasons, which means we may tend toward Vata-type imbalances, such as feeling "spacey" or ungrounded, cold hands and feet, variable digestion, and dry skin. To balance the dry, cold and mobility of fall, it is recommended to eat foods that are the opposite: warming, moist and grounding. Thankfully, the tastes sweet, salty and sour are also balancing during this time. Read More

Vata-Balancing Diet for Fall & Early Winter

In Ayurveda, fall & early winter are considered Vata seasons, because they are high in the air and space elements.  With this, comes the qualities of air and space: dry, cold, rough, mobile, light and subtle.

Some Vata-imbalance symptoms that may occur during these seasons due to an excess of the air and space elements are:

- Cold hands and feet
- Dry, hard constipation
- Dry skin, lips, hair
- Asthma
- Light-headedness, restless mind, dizziness, "spacey"
- Insomnia, difficulty staying asleep or falling back to sleep after waking in the night
- Fast walking, fast talking, chattering
- Anxiety, fear, depression

Many of these symptoms can be eliminated or avoided by following a Vata-balancing diet and lifestyle.    This includes:

- Foods that taste sweet, sour and salty
- Foods that are moist and heavy
- Foods that are warm (avoid raw foods during Vata season)
- Root vegetables
- Soups and stews
- Whole grains, especially rice, quinoa and oats
- Plenty of good oils, such as olive, coconut, avocado and walnut
- Plenty of protein, including meat, eggs and fish (avoid beans, as they contain an excess of the air and space elements)
- Warm or hot water
- Digestive teas such as fresh ginger, cumin, coriander, and chai teas
- Plenty of warming spices in food

Lifestyle is equally as important as diet in maintaining a health mind and body.  During Vata season, follow a regular routine, stay warm and keep activity and stimulation to a minimum.  Practice yoga and meditation to stay grounded and focused and spend time in a hot bath or sauna.

Not all people have to work hard during this season to stay balanced, but following a seasonal routine that changes throughout the year is beneficial for everyone.  Vata-types tend to have to work harder during this time to stay healthy. 

Easy Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup

Shrimp Soup Words SmallI've had an epiphany. In order to cook good - I mean REALLY good - Thai food, all I needed was three ingredients I don't normally keep stocked in my kitchen. They are: lemongrass stalks, kaffir lime leaves and galangal root. That's it!

I found all of these at my local health food store. And, trust me, if I can find these where I live, I am pretty sure you can find them where you live. For some, you will have to also find a good fish sauce to make this recipe, but that's much easier to come by than the other ingredients.

The soup I am sharing today is warming, but not overheating, which is perfect for the unusually warm first day of fall we are experiencing. When ladled over a nice scoop of sticky rice and topped with cilantro, this soup makes a fabulous and complete meal. It's filling but doesn't feel heavy and by exchanging the shrimp for baked trout and using less coconut milk, you can eat this during your pre-cleanse.

The best feature of this soup is how incredibly FAST it is to make. It cooks up in less time than a pot of white rice - and if you have that already on hand, you're eating 10 minutes after you started.

Top 10 Reasons to Try a 2-Week Kitchari Cleanse

  • It's completely safe. This cleanse is based in ancient Ayurvedic medicine and the method is over 3,500 years old! It has been tested...and tested and tested and tested.

  • You get to EAT real FOOD. It's true! This is NOT A FAST. When there is stress present, the body will not release toxins...and when we feel like we are starving, we are stressed. Kitchari and ghee used in this cleanse are detoxifying for many reasons, which include improving beneficial gut bacteria, cleansing the liver, scrubbing the intestines, lubricating and softening hard tissues in the body and supplying plenty of Omega 3s, CLA, antioxidants, vitamins A, D, E and K, and various minerals.

  • Blood sugar balance. High blood sugar levels have been linked to poor memory, accelerated aging, increased weight gain, cravings and many other negative mental and physical conditions. In this cleanse, the body is re-trained to burn fat, which automatically brings blood sugar levels back to a normal state - and solves many of these problems.

  • Weight Loss. 87% of previous cleansers have reported losing weight during this cleanse. How MUCH is quite a wide range: actual pounds lost and kept off range from 3 to 23 pounds! In most cleanses overall consumption of food is decreased, therefore slowing down metabolism. However, in the two week kitchari cleanse, you continue eating until you are full but digestive fire, the liver and the colon are better able to process this food, so you continue to lose weight. Ayurvedic medicine has always known it's not a calorie-in-calorie-out process.

  • Better digestion. Digestion is at the root of ALL disease. Poor digestion, that is. After the main cleansing period is over, we follow a very specific digestive reset protocol so that digestion is stronger than ever. No more gas, bloating or IBS.

  • More energy. By clearing out the detoxification pathways and resetting digestion, energy is inevitably improved. In fact, 83% of all cleansers reported better energy after their 2-week cleanse. When the body isn't working so hard to process food and toxins, it is freed up for other things, like hiking, paddle boarding, running and playing with your children.

  • Better cognitive function. As the body learns to use fat for fuel during this cleanse, you will notice your brain working better. Why? Because fat is a long, slow burning fuel and you will no longer be victim to the highs and lows of blood sugar fluctuations.

  • Decreased inflammation, aches and pains. As I said before, ALL disease has its roots in poor digestion. As we scrub the intestinal lining of old build-up, soothe and repair the lining and rebuild digestion, many cleansers have reported decrease or elimination of arthritis and general aches and pains.

  • Identify hidden food sensitivities. Because the diet is simplified for two weeks, after the cleanse is a great time to test foods you suspect are causing you problems.

  • It's only two weeks! What better way to spend two weeks than nourishing yourself, resetting your digestion and getting your mind and body back to complete health? I don't know of any other way to get such huge results that last in such a short amount of time.

How to Treat & Prevent Toxic Build Up

The Sanskrit word ama translates as toxic build up. This is a loose translation, as all English translations of Sanskrit words are. Often it takes 10 minutes of explanation to fully translate the meaning of a Sanskrit word.

From the Ayurvedic perspective, all toxin build up begins in the digestive tract because digestive fire is either weak, too high or variable, meaning it is sometimes high and sometimes weak. When digestive fire isn't burning properly, food does not digest properly - instead it is retained in one form or another in the digestive tract.

How Do I Know If I Have Toxins Built Up?
There are many signs that you have begun to build up toxins in the body.  If you have digestive concerns, there is certain to be some ama.  Other signs include:

- Heaviness, lethargy, low energy
- Dull mind, foggy thinking
- Constipation, gas, gurgling stomach
- Bad breath, bad taste in mouth
- Pain in lower abdomen and lower back
- White coated tongue
- Sour belching
- Burning in chest and throat
- Cloudy, white phlegm or sticky, thready mucus
- Lack of appetite, not getting hungry before meals

What Causes Ama?
Again, the root of ama is in the digestive tract.  The most common digestion condition in our culture is manda agni, or weak digestive fire.  There are many causes of weak digestion that most people are unaware of and, in fact, do each and every day.  Some of these are:

- Overeating
- Eating too often (not waiting at least 3-5 hours after the previous meal before eating again)
- Drinking ice cold water (this is one of the biggest and most common mistakes!)
- Eating too many foods that are heavy, cold and/or dry
- Eating irregularly (not maintaining regular meal times)
- Eating late at night
- Excessive fasting (Agni, or digestive fire, is nourished by the food we eat.  Too much fasting causes depleted agni because it is not getting nourished.)

How Can I Treat Ama?
The number one way to treat ama is to follow a simple but nourishing cleansing protocol for 5-14 days.  This is best done seasonally, but even a single cleanse is helpful.  This is also the fastest way to remove some of this build up.  Other important ways to treat ama (which should happen within a complete cleanse protocol) include using spices that stimulate digestive fire (cumin, black pepper, ginger and garlic), drinking warm water and eating liquid soups.

How Can I Prevent Further Build Up?
Obviously, the list of causes of ama gives great insight into what needs to change to avoid further build up.  However, there are also new, beneficial habits that you can integrate into your diet and lifestyle as well.  Here are ways to prevent build up:

- Avoid overeating or eating large quantities of heavy foods
- Avoid processed, canned and fast foods
- Avoid ice water or very cold food (don't eat food cold from the refrigerator)
- Eat mostly warm, gently cooked foods that are easy to digest
- Make lunch your largest meal because digestive fire is strongest at this time. (Eating too much food at times of the day when digestive fire is naturally not as strong will result in improperly digested food.)
- Calm the mind before eating by breathing, saying a prayer and relaxing the belly

Why We Eat - Ayurvedic vs. Conventional Nutrition

One of the most profound differences between Ayurvedic and conventional nutrition can be summed up by one basic theory: Why we eat.

This may seem small, but our intention each time we sit down to eat a meal can make a huge shift in our eating patterns, relationship to food and energy levels as well as determining what foods we choose to eat.

Why We Eat
In conventional nutrition and lifestyles, the "why" behind eating can be many, many reasons. We eat what we like (personal preference), out of habit, because we are bored or angry or want to be distracted. We eat because of our body image: I want to portray myself as a skinny/healthy person, so I eat salad.

In Ayurvedic medicine, the reason for eating is simply to take in prana to live.
In Sanskrit, prana means "life force."

All of the foods we choose, therefore, we choose because they give us prana to live.

Choosing Foods
Of course, often we eat simply because we are hungry - but then what are our intentions and reasons behind the foods we choose?

Conventional nutrition puts the majority of emphasis on calories and food groups. "I put in x-number of calories each day and I only eat these food groups." or "I limit my intake from (or totally avoid) that certain food group."

While we may tailor the number of calories suggested per day to an individual (mostly just for weight loss), where those calories come from are not always individualized. Similarly, certain diets will limit or eliminate an entire food group and suggest this approach for everyone.

In Ayurveda, nutrition is measured by the qualities and elements that a food provides. For example, rice cakes and crackers contain a lot of the air and space elements. Fresh, ripe peaches contain plenty of the water element.

We determine how much of a certain food each person should eat by looking at their individual constitution. A person who is already very dry and light should eat more fresh, ripe peaches to hydrate them (and less crackers) to bring balance to their natural body type. Further, some body types should eat far more calories than others. There is never a one-size-fits-all answer to diet in Ayurveda.

Of course, taste is always a consideration in choosing foods. However, it is not the only one, and when our bodies are in balance, we crave what our bodies need to remain in balance. When the body has had too much sugar, it will signal you to stop eating sweet foods. If the body needs bitters to cleanse the blood, it will crave greens. But still, the "why" behind eating is to take in prana to live. Balance supports the flow of prana.

You Are What You....
The saying "You are what you eat" is famous in conventional nutrition. And Ayurveda would agree - mostly. In Ayurveda, we go one step further and say "You are what you are able to digest."

After all - what's the point of eating if we aren't digesting that food into life energy?

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is the holistic healing science from India.  It is the OLDEST medical science we know of, as the texts that Ayurveda originates from is about 5,000 years old.  These texts, the Vedas, are also where yoga gets its origins from.  Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences.  Both are actually much older than their texts, as they were an oral tradition, passed from generation to generation long before they were written down.

The foundation of Ayurveda is the theory of the FIVE ELEMENTS - everything is made from the great elements of space, air, fire, water and earth.  This is true of our bodies, our minds, animals, plants, the seasons.  Everything.

Ayurveda teaches us that we can bring our body and mind into balance by understanding these elements and the combination of these elements that we were born with, which is called our "prakriti" or constitution.  This is one of the most well-known theories of Ayurveda - that of "body types."  When we experience an imbalance, such as skin rashes, heartburn, depression, fatigue or anxiety, we can trace these symptoms back to the elements and bring it back into balance by introducing its opposite quality.  For example, skin rashes and heartburn indicate an excess of the fire element, which is hot and light.  Therefore, we can bring it into balance by introducing foods and activities that are cooling and grounding in nature.  Of course, it isn't quite so cut and dry - an Ayurvedic practitioner would consider your prakriti, the season the imbalance is occurring, and your "vikriti" or where your primary imbalance lies.

Ayurveda's most valuable diagnosis methods are tongue and pulse analysis, but a practitioner will also gather a lot of information through observing a person's physical attributes, their mannerisms and by asking questions.

You Are What You ATE...30 Days Ago

We tend to think of digestion as an "in and out" process that takes a day or two. If I eat this many calories, then do this much exercise, it's even, right?

It's not quite that simple...

According to Ayurveda the entire process of digestion takes about 36 days, ending with the creation of Ojas - the most refined by-product of digestion. Ojas is the prime energy reserve of the body and the seat of our immune system. It protects life, gives us strength, controls our heart beats and maintains the balance of all of our tissues.

What did you eat 30 days ago?
Most of us are unable to remember what we ate yesterday, let alone what we ate last month! However, this concept is valuable in considering how we can improve our energy or mental clarity. Instead of just thinking about what you ate that day or the day before, think about what you were doing one month ago. Could that have something to do with your low energy?

The Deeper Side of Digestion
The process of our food's nourishment goes through each of our seven tissue layers in turn, providing the nutrients each layer needs as follows (in days after ingestion):

Days 1-5: formation of blood plasma, serum and lymphatic fluid
Days 6-10: formation of new red blood cells
Days 11-15: formation of muscle tissue
Days 16-20: formation of fat tissue
Days 21-25: formation of bones
Days 26-30: formation of bone marrow and nerve tissue
Days 31-35: formation of sperm and ovum
Day 36: formation of Ojas

This, even, is a simplified version of what happens - on the days our bones are being formed, so are our teeth, cartilage, nails and hair. Each tissue layer has a set of sub-tissues that are also being nourished and formed.

Keep in mind that the "food" that nourishes us is more than broccoli and salmon. The other inputs that feed our tissues are water, breath and anything we take in through our senses (what we hear, see, touch, etc.)

What is forming YOUR cells today?