Be The Light

Seattle does have a famous reputation. In these long, sometimes dreary days of winter in the Pacific Northwest, even the most positive, upbeat individuals get stretched. Many people keep remarking that it’s been challenging to remain energetic and happy with so many days of rain and overcast skies. We know it comes with the territory of living in this abundant and diverse northwest city. We choose to live here so let’s make the most of it!

The wisdom of Ayurveda and Yoga direct us back to our own personal practices. In Sanskrit, daily personal practice is called sadhana.   Sadhana is something you do regularly to support your physical-emotional-spiritual well being. It could be your daily walk around the lake, 15-minute yoga practice, meditation, preparing your favorite cup of tea or simply a doing nothing for a few minutes. Take a moment to reflect on your current Sadhana. What are you doing these days to nourish yourself?  I am personally committed to getting outside and connecting with Nature everyday, rain or shine.  It makes such a huge difference with my attitude and energy!

Now is an excellent time to put some new supportive practices in place, perhaps in the morning before leaving the house or in the evening before retiring for the night.

When we care for ourselves in this way, we raise our vibration. This means we lift our energy up to a higher place that is noticeable to others and ourselves. We literally start radiating more aliveness and light. Getting present with the love and light within us has an impact. So, during the last few days of winter, remember to Be The Light!

Post Holidays ~ Is Cleansing Right for Me?

Post Holidays ~ Is Cleansing Right for Me?

After the holidays, many people think about cleansing from the decadent feasting that just took place. The New Year is a great time to establish new health practices and goals. According to Ayurveda, India’s 5000+ year old medical tradition, the focus of an Ayurvedic cleanse is to burn ama (toxins) and build agni (digestive fire). We can do this through various daily practices or by following an outlined cleansing program. I’ll share with you a few simple ways to begin cleansing accumulated toxins, rebuilding your digestive fire and boosting your energy. These tips can be practiced by all Ayurvedic body types or constitutions. For specific suggestions, please seek advice from a skilled Ayurvedic Practitioner.

Simply Daily Tips for Cleansing

For starters, you may just choose one of these tips daily. You can integrate more over time, as it feels comfortable.

  • Wake up in the morning and drink an 8 oz glass of warm water with juice from ½ lemon. For extra toxin and fat scraping effects, add 2 tsp honey.
  • For Vata and Pitta constitutions, give your self a loving warm oil massage (abhyanga) with a dosha specific massage oil. Be sure to include belly massage, massaging in a clockwise direction. Follow-up with a warm/hot shower or bath.
  • For Kapha constitutions, you can enjoy dry brushing with brushes or exfoliating gloves. You may follow with self-abhyanga using Kapha balancing massage oil and a warm shower.
  • 30-minute daily walk, emphasizing nostril breathing. This will get your lymphatic system moving and boost metabolism.
  • Sip on hot water throughout the day. This kindles agni and burns ama.
  • Use a stainless steel tongue scraper or even a spoon to gently scrape coating off tongue. Stimulates internal organs to release ama and improves digestion.
  • Avoid unnecessary snacking between meals. Favor balancing and satisfying main meals. This gives your metabolic system a chance to regulate and burn fat.
  • Add digestive spices to your meals. Examples are: ginger, cumin, coriander and fennel seeds.
  • Regularly eat a delicious and cleansing meal of Kitchari: mung beans, rice and spices. (Recipe available on my website).
  • To cleanse and strengthen your gastrointestinal tract, before bed, take ½ tsp Triphala powder with a 1 cup warm water. For Vata constitutions, take Triphala with 1 cup licorice tea.
  • Keep your personal space tidy: home, office, car, etc. Your external environment has an impact on your internal environment, right?!
  • Let go of emotions and thoughts that are no longer serving you. Focus on gratitude and positive affirmations. Journaling is a great way to do this.

Comprehensive Ayurvedic Cleanse

Ayurveda’s signature cleansing program is called Panchakarma. It is a time-tested, systematic cleanse that aims to release many kinds of toxins from the deep tissues, through a series of cleansing protocols, specific to each individual.

I offer Panchakarma for 5+ days at Embrace Ayurveda in Seattle. Panchakarma is offered in many locations, around the world.

** To read more about Panchakarma, go to: http://embrace-ayurveda.com/panchakarma/

** To order dosha specific massage oils, triphala, kitchari supplies, tongue scraper, spices and other wonderful Ayurvedic products, go to: Banyan Botanicals at: https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/?avad=179706_cd4d4fc7

Meditation Practice ~ Remember Who You Are

MeditationDo you currently have a personal meditation practice? The benefits of daily meditation are far reaching. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, increase self-awareness, improve concentration and strengthen immunity among many other benefits.

Dr. Vasant Lad shares that So-Ham Meditation kindles the cellular self and can help us remember who we are. Dr. Lad has been teaching this beautiful practice for years. You can learn it here: http://www.ayurveda.com/online_resource/so-hum-meditation.html

Also, here is a beautiful, short video where Dr. Lad speaks about meditation: 

Dr. Lad speaks about meditation

The Ayurvedic Cure in Your Kitchen

ccf1The wise Rishi and Ayurvedic Physician, Charaka, had 8 disciples who he sent to the 8 directions, asking them to find him any substance that does not have medicinal properties. One returned with a rock, one came back with a piece of wood and one brought cow dung. One returned empty-handed & touched the guru’s feet & said, “Sir, I have not found any such substance.” He became Charaka’s student. Hence, medicine can be found within many substances, sometimes not the obvious ones.
The word Ayurveda literally translates as the ‘science of life’ and is the traditional healing system originating in India more than 5000 years ago. In the classical texts of Ayurveda, it is said, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”. Healing can start right from the home, from the kitchen clinic.
In basic management of common health imbalances, we don’t necessarily need to know the person’s Ayurvedic constitution for treatment. We can usually go ahead and treat with what we already have or what is easiest. In this article, we’ll be looking at common Indian spices that yield many therapeutic properties.
Turmeric – Indications: anemia, skin diseases, heals ulcers, regulates blood sugar, improves digestion and is useful for cuts, burns & wounds.
* Cold/congestion/cough – ½ tsp turmeric boiled with one cup milk & pinch of dry ginger powder at bedtime.
* Hemorrhoids – combine ½ tsp. castor oil & ¼ tsp. turmeric & apply topically.
* Hoarseness of voice or sore throat – stir together 1 tsp. turmeric + ½ tsp. salt a glass of warm water & gargle.

Ginger – Indications: kindles digestive fire, reduces cholesterol, anti-inflammatory, relieves gas/bloating and acts as expectorant & decongestant.
* Relieves nausea – fresh ginger slice + pinch salt + squeeze lime juice & chew.
* Aches & pains – ginger powder + baking soda bath.
* Jet lag – 1-2 capsules 1 hr. before flying to help keep agni/digestive fire high. Also stay well hydrated on the plane.

Cumin – Indications: improves digestion, decreases bloating, stops diarrhea, good for sprue syndrome, kills worms, pacifies abdominal pain and kindles agni (digestive fire).
* Indigestion – CCF tea (cumin, coriander, fennel). Combine in equal proportion & steep together in boiling water. Strain and drink this tea to improve digestion.
* Itching of skin – 1 tsp. cumin boiled in 1 cup of water, cool & wash the affected area.
* Diarrhea – 1 cup lassi: 1 part yogurt + 3 parts water + 1 tsp. roasted cumin powder churned together.

Coriander – Indications: cold, congestion, cough, relieves thirst, pacifies nausea, improves digestion and diuretic. The fresh cilantro leaf improves flavor of food. The leaf and seed encourage alkaline pH of the urine & blood.
* Fever – coriander seeds + ginger + tulsi. Steep in hot water and drink as a tea.
* Hot flashes – drink coriander + cumin milk before bed.
* Conjunctivitis – eye wash with coriander seed tea. Soak seeds in water overnight and filter carefully through coffee filter & then wash eye.

Fennel – Indications: heals hemorrhoids, digestive, improves milk supply while breastfeeding, blood cleanser and diuretic.
* For edema – CCF tea or just fennel tea.
* Bad breath – just chew the seeds.
* Migraine – Fennel oil topically to temples.

Hing/Asafoetida – Indication: analgesic, digestive, anti-spasmodic and a natural source of sulfur, iron & zinc.
* Headache – combine a very small amount of hing + a little water and place paste topically on 3rd eye & temples. Not for migraines (use sandalwood paste). Great for Vata or Kapha types of headaches.
* Belly pain in children – add water to a bit of hing, make a paste & apply to belly.
* Muscle and joint soreness/pain – apply externally onto joint; acts as analgesic. Good for reducing pain of osteoarthritis. (In inflammatory conditions: use sandalwood + turmeric.)

Cardamom – Indications: aromatic, expectorant, decongestant, broncho-dilator, pacifies bad breath.
* Low sperm count – use 1 tsp. Ashwagandha + pinch of cardamom with one cup milk. Boil milk with herbs and give milk to drink daily at night.
* Cardiac tonic – improves coronary circulation, relieves myocardial ischemia.
* To neutralize the caffeine effect of coffee or tea – add pinch of cardamom + dried ginger

These are all common spices you can have in your spice box or cupboard. Spices can last up to one year. Enjoy using food as medicine and medicine as food in your kitchen!

* The information contained in this article is intended to educate you about simple spices found at home. If you are facing a serious medical condition, please seek care from an experienced medical professional.

* Much of the information contained in this article is coming directly from lectures by Dr. Vasant Lad, BAMS, M.A.Sc.

Secret Bathing Ritual ~ Restore the Sweetness of Your Life

purple-lilac-500x500I will share a few secrets with you here today. Eighteen years ago, I was informed by a psychic that part of my ‘gift’ is to offer ‘the sweetness of life’ to others I meet. A couple years later, my teacher told me that one of my spiritual practices is to offer others sweets, literally. It’s true, I have always taken great pleasure in preparing elaborate sweets and offering them.

Just recently, while traveling through the Andes in Peru, I had a coca leaf reading with Vilma, a local curandera, medicine woman. In the coca leaf reading, she asked me to get clear about my hearts inquiry and desire and then blow my breath into the bundle of sacred coca leaves. She then opened the bundle and shared many interesting points about my personal life. Vilma concluded the reading by offering me a remedy to ‘restore the sweetness within my life so that I may offer it to others’.

She gave me a recipe for a sacred healing bath. This is personal to me but it is so good that I have to share it with you!

The remedy is to take a fruit and flower bath every full moon and new moon. Now, I have long delighted in taking luxurious baths with oils, salts, milk and flowers but…..fruit?! She told me to squeeze one ripe mango and a medium-size bunch of grapes, strain it and put it aside. She also said to take a large pot of boiling water and steep flowers and herbs. In late April in the Pacific Northwest, my flowers and herbs of choice are: lilac, rosemary leaves/flowers and mint. There is an abundance of these all around now. Be careful to use only non-toxic, non-irritating flowers and herbs.

So, once you have steeped these in hot water, with the lid on, for about 15 minutes, go ahead and strain the mixture. At this time, you may add the flower-herb tea to the bath, along with the fresh fruit juice. I also add about ½ cup honey, ½ cup sea salt and 1 Tablespoon sesame or almond oil. This blend of goodness in the bath is nearly over-the-top! It leaves the skin not sticky but silky. It infuses the soul with nectar. When we are infused with nectar, offering forth our gifts feels like a pure blessing. Wishing you bathing bliss and sweetness in all areas of your life.

Sattva

When I reflect on my values and commitments in life, the words that immediately come to mind are: integrity, clarity, compassion, freedom, service and flowing love and happiness. When I look at these words, I realize they nearly add up to define the Sanskrit word: Sattva.

Sattva  is one of the three universal qualities of consciousness. The translation of Sattva is: purity, clarity, balance, wisdom and essence. Sattva can be enhanced through our daily choices around how we utilize our energy. 

I think of Sattva as the opposite of stress. Where stress zaps our essences, Sattva maintains them. 

In my Ayurvedic practice, I aim to help my clients restore balance and Sattva in their lives. I invite you to reflect on the areas in your life you would like to nourish with more Sattva. And…observe gratitude for the amazing life you have already created!