Skip to Content

The Blog

Ayurvedic Travel Tips

I have been a traveler for a long time. When I travel, I am inspired by new sights, sounds, flavors and ideas. I feel renewed by shaking my old routine. I’ve always loved meeting new people and being surprised by what the world has to offer.

But, why do I sometimes feel like I need a vacation to recover from my vacation?

Read more »

Relaxation in Action: Full Yogic Breath

Yet another way we can align with cycles of nature is to pay some attention to our breathing. A lot of us have mind and body health symptoms that would be soothed to some degree with proper breathing. In fact, breath is one of our most important forms of nourishment.

The breath is a wonderful tool on our path because it is always available to us. By learning to trust it, we can find a less effort-full way of moving through the world. By becoming more sensitive to its changes we can also recognize subtle ways we try to control it.

There are many practices for working with the breath, but we always need to start with just remembering how to take a full breath. In yoga we call this “Full Yogic Breath”.

Full Yogic Breath helps us become accustomed to deeper breathing as a regular habit. Bringing the breath into the belly helps to soothe anxiety or pain caused by being overstimulated. Resting your awareness on the process of breathing cools intensity and irritability caused by heat and stress.

Full Yogic Breath

Here’s a 5 minute audio of the practice:

To Practice:

Lie on your back on a bed or the floor.

Feel your body relax into the support of the earth.

Imagine your body is like a hollow vessel that you are pouring the breath into. Inhale, filling that vessel with the breath, from the base of the pelvis to the pit of the throat. The belly inflates first, like a balloon. Then the breath moves upwards, filling the sides and back of the ribcage.

As you exhale the breath back out, the vessel empties from throat to base. The navel relaxes back toward the spine.

In the beginning, it can be helpful to place one hand over the navel and one over the sternum. As you breathe, remind yourself to fill the belly first and then the chest. When exhaling, empty the chest and then the belly.

Stay connected to the full, deep breath and continue breathing like this for as long as you like. Try 5 minutes at first, but you might want to stay longer.

Once you are able to comfortably practice the breath lying down, try it sitting up and then standing. Before long you will find that you are breathing in this way more and more of the time without having to think about it.

 

 

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep

There is nothing more frustrating than lying in bed staring at the ceiling, tired but unable to sleep.

A healthy, full night’s sleep is one of the essential supports of a healthy full life. When we get enough sleep, we have the opportunity to enter the next day with a sort of clean slate and renewed energy.

Read more »

Summer Recipes: Coconut Curry Chicken and Veg

The dry heat of the summer sun weakens our bodies.

This is the time of year to focus on foods which bring moisture and lubrication into our systems.

Coconut and lemongrass are both delicious summer ingredients and potent healers.

Coconut is moist and cool. It is building in nature and pacifies the dryness and weakness of Vata and the heat and inflammation of Pitta. It can make heavy, wet, cold symptoms of Kapha worse.

Lemongrass has proven very effective for soothing headaches, particularly migraines. For sufferers of migraines, the summer headaches are particularly common. It is also a digestive aid, relieving gas and bloating cause by Vata.

Ginger and turmeric are both very effective anti-inflammatories. They aid in digestion and have been shown to fight micro-organisms and purify the blood. Ginger is also a pain-reliever and eases constipation from the dryness of Vata aggravation.

Read more »

Summer Recipes: Squash Blossoms and Fava Beans

Some of my favorite summer ingredients are Squash Blossoms and Fava Beans!

Squash blossoms are mild in taste and so beautiful. You can grow them pretty easily, but sometimes you can find them at the farmer’s market at this time of year. They’re really easy to prepare.

Squash blossoms are relatively high in iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C, but you would have to eat lots to get much of those nutrients. The bright color and blossoming energy of them is very appropriate for early summer.

Cooking with Squash Blossoms:squashblossom

To prepare them, you should remove the base of the blossom and the stamen inside.

Then you can slice the blossom “chiffonade” style, in long narrow ribbons.

These ribbons could be thrown on a pizza or into a soup or sautee towards the end of cooking. They need very little time to cook and become tender. Read more »

Feel Your Life: the 20 Gunas and Constitution

One of the main goals of Ayurveda is to bring us more into alignment with nature.

One of our innate tools we can use for this is sensation. By becoming more and more aware of our sensations, we bring ourselves into the present.

Discover sensations with this 6 minute meditation practice:

Understanding the 20 gunas is one very nice way to start to connect more with your experience and understand your connection to your environment.

Read more »

Recipe: Basil Almond Pesto

I love the taste of fresh basil pesto

But, I have a lot of Pitta in my constitution. I have a hard time with garlic and pine nuts. The parmesan cheese traditinally used in pesto is pretty channel clogging and Kapha provoking. I avoid eating it very often and don’t give it to my son who has had some skin and lung issues in the past.

So I created this Basil Almond Pesto recipe.

I know it’s definitely not traditional pesto, but this recipe is pretty delicious. The freshness of the taste of the almonds adds a wonderful and unexpected touch.

But, let’s look at what the medicinal benefits of the ingredients:

Basil is a member of the mint family and is a powerful antioxidant–especially when it isn’t heated. It is a warming herb, so it can be used to help soothe Vata and Kapha complaints.

There are many forms of basil. They are used in herbal traditions all over the world to treat asthma symptoms and digestive upset, to help stabilize blood sugar, to improve circulation and to boost  immunity.

Basil is also antibacterial. It can be used internally or topically to support healthy wound healing and may help fight viruses.

Raw Almonds which have been soaked overnight in room-temperature water and then peeled are sweet and delicious.

They are cooling in nature and soothe Pitta complaints. The are not too heavy and eaten in moderation should not be Kapha provoking. The soaking and peeling also makes them less Vata provoking than other nuts.

Almonds are nourishing and aphrodisiac. They are also laxative and help the body excrete excess water while still being moisturizing.

Olive oil is an amazing food especially when eaten raw. It is very good for lowering “bad” cholesterol and has scientifically proven strongly antimicrobial properties.

The slightly bitter flavor of high-quality, virgin olive oil (as opposed to the bitterness of a rancid or spoiled oil) soothes Pitta inflammation and supports the functioning of the liver. Because of it’s light, bitter, fresh flavor it is not Kapha-provoking, and it’s sweet oiliness pacifies Vata.

Leeks are sweet and Vata reducing. When cooked, they soothe air in the digestive tract (bloating and gas) without aggravating Pitta

Basil Almond Pesto

Read more »

Summer Health: Stay Juicy!

In the beginning of the summer, most of us feel pretty great. It may seem strange to even think about “summer health.”

but…

As we slip into the heat and long days of the summer, the influence of the sun on our bodies and nature around us becomes more and more obvious. Summer solstice (June 21) marks the center of the half of the year that is  governed by the sun and by fire element (the other half of the year is ruled by the energies of the moon and of water element).

In the summer…we want to increase our exposure to cool, moist, smooth, soft and non-oily foods, situations and emotions.
For those of us with the spark of a fiery (pitta) constitution, or with a Pitta imbalance, in the summer it is vital to pay more attention to staying cool, calm and collected. But at this time of year that  becomes important for all of us.  The hot, penetrating, intense and bright qualities of the summer sun increase those same qualities inherent in Pitta dosha. Over time, especially if the weather turns dry and windy, these conditions also disturb Vata dosha.

What does increased Pitta or Vata look like?

When Vata and Pitta increase, we heat up and dry out. We get less and less juicy. And our juiciness is our claim to life.

Excess Pitta can manifest as:

  • Irritability—of the mind, digestive system or skin
  • Anger, frustration or impatience
  • Excess body heat
  • Heartburn
  • Acne
  • Skin rashes
  • Diarrhea
  • Intense body odor
  • Headache
  • Ulcers

 Excess Vata shows up as:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Gas and bloating
  • Constipation
  • Dehydration
  • Exhaustion
  • Emaciation
  • Irregular digestion

What can we do?

Ayurveda recommends that we change our lifestyle and diet habits with the seasonal changes in the environment to help lessen the effects of the weather on our body.

Read more »

Recipe: Fresh Green Peas

Milo’s new favorite activity in the kitchen is shelling fresh green peas.

This translates into lots of opportunities to cook and eat green peas, and this is our favorite so far.

Peas are a great food to introduce in this blended form after a baby has successfully eaten a simple porridge or bone broth and then  orange vegetables, but this recipe pleased the adults, too. It is great served with home made tortillas or chapatis, savory crepes or dosas, rice, fish or chicken (I’m probably forgetting some things). It could even be made in a more thinned out form for a great soup. Just add 3 extra cups of vegetable or meat stock (and maybe some more salt).

Green peas are sweet to taste, cooling and dry in nature and have a sweet post digestive effect. This means that they are pacifying to both Kapha and Pitta and not aggravating to Vata if they are cooked thoroughly. All of these factors make it a perfect food for the spring and summer time for the whole family.

Blended Green Peas with Leek and Fennel

(serves 4)

1 lb. fresh green peas in the shell (2 1/2 – 3 cups shelled)

1 c. sliced leek

1/4 c. sliced fresh fennel

3/4 tsp. salt (seasoned salt like Herbamare works nicely)

1 heaping Tbsp. ghee

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Shell the green peas and place them in a bowl. Discard the pods.

Add ghee and oil to a pan. Heat slightly and then add everything else to pan.

Saute until the leeks are soft and translucent. Cover with water and simmer over medium heat until the peas are soft–about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit. Blend in blender or with hand mixer until they have a lumpy consistency, or until completely smooth.

 

 

How to Drink Water (with recipes)

How much water should I drink?

For years, most of us have heard the suggestion that we should drink “8 cups of water a day.” Unfortunately it isn’t really that simple.

In fact, each of us has a unique constitution and lifestyle that actually has different requirements to stay hydrated. The amount of rehydration we need on a given day is directly related to how much hydration we have lost through the loss of bodily fluids.

When we eat, we need to sip just enough fluid with our meal to make our food somewhat liquid.
In addition, if we can’t digest our water it doesn’t matter how much we drink, we never really get hydrated. It may seem strange to think that we have to digest our water but, just like anything that we swallow, water has to be digested and transformed into a suitable fluid for our body’s nutritional needs. We have probably all had the experience of feeling bloated and overly full after drinking water—this is a sign that it is not being properly transformed.

And that is actually the most important factor. Our body is not like a sponge. Our bodily tissues don’t just immediately soak up the water we drink and suddenly become hydrated. If we drink too much water, just as when we eat too much food, we can dampen our digestive fire. Drinking too little water can also weaken our digestion.

The simplest way to know how much water we should drink is to drink when we are thirsty. Modern nutritionists say this is probably too late—that we are already overly dehydrated by this point—but this may be because most of us have lost touch with the subtle signs of our thirst. It may take some time to redevelop that sensitivity.

In general, all of us will tend to need to drink more water from the middle of summer through the autumn and less from mid-winter through the spring.

When Should I Drink Water?

Read more »