By Sarah Kruse

While we may have varying opinions about what’s going on around us or how to address it, what we do have in common is that we are all connected by this collective experience. The truth is, we have always been connected and always will be connected. Like so many wise ones have spoken: We Are One.

During these days and weeks of social distancing, many of us are finding connection in unexpected ways. Maybe you have gotten back in touch with a dear friend, pulled that old guitar out of the closet and strummed a soothing melody, or maybe you have returned to or begun a meditation practice and connected inward.

What about social and physical connection?
We are being asked not to touch or hug each other or receive non-essential massage and bodywork. Parties, concerts and sporting events have temporarily ceased. Group educational programs are paused. We miss each other, right?

How about generating some oxytocin without the social interaction that we’re used to? Oxytocin is the feel-good peptide hormone that plays a role in social bonding, falling in love, sexual activity and childbirth. When oxytocin is flowing in the body, we feel happy, connected, relaxed and often blissful. Oxytocin literally replaces stress with bliss. It’s so sweet.

What can we do to boost oxytocin and feel that happy feeling of connection if we are mostly alone and feeling isolated? Activities that boost oxytocin, include cuddling, petting an animal, hugging a tree, receiving massage, doing self massage, exercise, orgasm, laughter, positive thinking and serving others. All of these activities increase that sweet, warm feeling of love and positively boost the immune system!

If there was ever a time to turn toward yourself and commit to self care practices, it is now. Ayurveda, the ancient medical tradition from India, repeatedly informs us that self-care is a primary cornerstone of optimal health. Self-Care = Self-Love.

Some of the most nurturing self-care practices we can bring in to increase love and connection are:

  •  Self massage with warm oil – enjoy this ritual often, head to toe, before bathing.
  • Eat seasonal homemade meals, made with love, for your Ayurvedic constitution.
  • Try to eat meals around the same time each day. This can be tricky when you have a flexible schedule, but I promise you – your digestion, energy, mood and sleep will all improve when you do this simple thing.
  • Prioritize getting enough sleep. Proper sleep is essential to feeling good.
  • Get outside everyday, move your body and breathe deeply. Notice the wonder and beauty of Nature.
  • Connect regularly with someone you trust to share your feelings and emotions. Listening to each other is very healing and heartwarming.
  • Meditation – take time away from electronics to sit quietly and listen to your inner wisdom and the wisdom of the eternal source. In this space, you can awaken to your innate healing capacity.
  • Tap into your creative energy that may have been lying dormant, waiting to be rekindled. Is there a poem waiting to emerge, a song to sing, or a painting to create?
  • Reach out and offer help to someone in need. This might look like dropping off a prepared meal or running an errand for a friend or neighbor.

We are living in incredible times, requiring incredible resilience. Part of remaining resilient is maintaining self-care and doing things that feel good. I invite you to choose one new practice today then add others as you are inspired. When you focus on taking time to care for yourself in these ways, everyone around you benefits.

So, we arrive at the same message…. We Are One. It is by knowing this in our hearts that we can dissolve any barriers blocking us from seeing, loving and having compassion for each other. Connection with ourselves, each other and nature is the way to get through these times we’re in.

 

And…..Love is always the answer.

There has been much concern regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as various seasonal cold and flu viruses. Some of the most effective and empowering actions we can take now are to prevent illness and maintain our immunity.

In the northern hemisphere, as we are leaving the throes of winter and entering the newness of spring, we find ourselves fully in the season of Kapha dosha. Kapha is comprised of Earth and Water elements and is the energy of structure and lubrication, holding the body together. It has the qualities of slow, heavy, cold, dense, soft and sweet. Its primary sites in the body are the lungs and stomach.

When balanced, Kapha is steady, grounded and affectionate. Kapha imbalances can include possessiveness, attachment or laziness. Physically it may manifest as weight gain, respiratory congestion, excessive sleep or lethargy. To balance Kapha, we want to bring in warmth, lightness and stimulation.

The Coronavirus has an affinity to the lungs, which are one of the seats of Kapha. In Ayurveda, to protect the lungs, prevent viral infection and strengthen Kapha, we look at a number of measures. While there are many, we’ll focus on a few key seasonal lifestyle tips and remedies here:

  • Food is medicine. Eat warm foods with heating spices like ginger, black pepper and garlic. These foods will stoke the digestive fire and bolster lung strength. Add them to meals such as: spicy dal soup, miso-ginger soup and stir fry. I like to add freshly chopped ginger root, turmeric root and garlic to many dishes.
  • Minimize foods that are cold, sweet, milky and sugary, such as ice cream and sweetened yogurt. These foods create excess mucus, which is a breeding ground for pathogens.
  • Favor honey over refined sugars. Enjoy plain or elderberry honey in your teas.
  • Hydration is essential. Drink warm or hot beverages and avoid having them cold or iced. Cold drinks and food can weaken the digestive fire, thus slowing digestive processes.
  • Maintain proper sleep hygiene. Going to bed at the same time each night and getting enough sleep support your circadian rhythm and immunity.
  • Engage in regular, invigorating exercise such as brisk walking while breathing deeply, through the nose.
  • Practice Kapalabhati Pranayama (Breath of Fire) to eliminate mucus from the respiratory tract. See qualified yoga teacher.
  • Make sure to keep stress and fear at bay. These feelings and emotions weaken immunity.
  • Eat lots of vitamin C rich foods such as oranges, tangerines, lemons, strawberries, broccoli, bell peppers and kale to boost your immunity.
  • Enjoy Chyavanprash – the Ayurvedic jam that rejuvenates the whole body and enhances proper immune system function. It is rich in vitamin C and is full of adaptogenic herbs. Find Chyavanprash at: banyanbotanicals.com
  • Use a neti pot with saline water to rinse mucus and debris from sinuses and prevent infection.
  • Super Nasya Oil – sinus oil for clearing and protecting the sinuses. If you don’t have Super Nasya Oil, you can use plain sesame oil, coconut oil or ghee. My teacher, Dr. Vasant Lad, suggests dipping your little finger in oil and lightly applying it to the inside of each nostril. Then, gently sniff to draw the oil upward. Super Nasya Oil is available at my office or directly from ayurveda.com. The Nasya Oil from Banyan Botanicals is also great.
  • Vitamin D3 – I like the liquid form. Carlson is a good brand. 4000-5000 IU daily or as suggested on the bottle or by your practitioner.
  • Wonderful antiviral herbs – ginger, turmeric, licorice, garlic, lomatium, elderberry, astragalus, echinacea, schizandra and cordyceps. Can be taken in tea, tincture, capsule or powder form.
  • Essential oils are highly antimicrobial. You can enjoy them in a home or car diffuser, a hot bath or applied directly on your body, mixed into your massage oil. A few seasonal, Kapha balancing oils I like are: rosemary, eucalyptus, orange, frankincense, thyme, ravensara and lavender.

Ayurveda also teaches us how to boost our immune systems through building Ojas. Ojas is the refined essence of all bodily tissues and maintains cellular immunity. It is the ultimate healing nectar. A person with healthy Ojas has a strong immune system, endurance and a sense of calm and contentment. The amount of Ojas we have is determined by the amount we were born with, the quality of food we eat, and how we nourish ourselves on a daily basis.

Increasing our level of Ojas is not just about building it up, it is also a matter of not losing or wasting it. We may lose this vital energy through the senses, due to overstimulation, which can leave us feeling depleted or overwhelmed. The yogic practice of Pratyahara helps us preserve our vital energy. Pratyahara means withdrawal of the senses. This may look like choosing what news we read and listen to, how much electronic activity we are engaging in and getting proper sleep and rest. Other ways to build ojas include laughter, joy, hugging and stress reducing practices such as walking in Nature and meditation.

May we proceed with kindness toward each other and ourselves as we navigate our wellness paths. It is a good time to connect inward, while, at the same time, not getting too isolated. It is in our connections to each other, ourselves and Nature that we thrive!

Lokah Samastha Sukhinoh Bhanvantu

* May all beings in all places be happy and free *

*** The information provided here is coming from my clinical and personal experience. It is not medical advice. Check with your doctor directly if you are having immune symptoms or seeking medical advice.

 

Sarah Kruse practices at Embrace Ayurveda, within Tilia Natural Health in Seattle.

Learn more about Ayurveda at: EMBRACE-AYURVEDA.COM

 

 

By Sarah Kruse

People often ask me:  “How did you first get into practicing Ayurveda?”  Well……

Even as a child, I was curious about balance and living a healthy life.  I grew up on a small farm in the countryside in Oregon and became very aware of our intimate connection with Nature.  I knew that when I grew up, I wanted to practice some form of natural healing.  Immediately after high school, I moved to Seattle to explore possibilities for my education. 

One evening, I was having dinner in an Indian restaurant and saw a poster about an Intro to Ayurveda lecture coming up.  I knew I had to attend.  I was already a student of Yoga but this was my first exposure to Ayurveda.  The teacher, Dr. George Eassey, was a kind doctor from south India who spoke about the beauty of Ayurveda:  the ancient, traditional healing system from India that looks at each person as an individual and prescribes remedies such as food as medicine, herbs, yoga, meditation, cleansing, etc to restore balance.  I knew at once that Ayurveda was my path, my dharma.  I asked Dr. Eassey if he would recommend that I move to India to pursue my Ayurvedic studies.  He said, “Not like that…I suggest you go to the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque to study with Dr. Vasant Lad.”  He gifted me Dr. Lad’s book ‘Ayurveda – The Science of Self-Healing’ and the CD ‘Chants of India’ by Ravi Shankar and George Harrison and the fire of learning was lit! 

Soon after, I was planning my move to Albuquerque to study Ayurveda with Dr. Lad, site unseen.  I just knew in my bones that this was my true path.  This was 23 years ago.  I feel tremendously blessed to have found my life path at that young age.  Since then, I have been continually studying, practicing and teaching Ayurveda: in an integrative medical practice in Newport Beach California, at an Ayurvedic spa on Kaua’i, and in private practice in California, Seattle and Kaua’i.  I had the great blessing to travel to India four different times to study with renowned Ayurvedic doctors and scholars.  I will always remember those days in the villages, attending to the farmers and their families with Dr. Lad and my classmates.

I have also taught Ayurveda at Bastyr University, Brenneke School of Massage, Evergreen State College and various yoga studios, clinics and corporate settings.  Occasionally I have the privilege to lead healing retreats in the Pacific Northwest, Kaua’i or abroad.

As an Ayurvedic Practitioner, I assist clients in returning to their personal state of balance and wellness, based upon understanding their unique body type.   It is very fulfilling to see people thriving in their health and lives again.  Simple, daily changes can bring lasting results.  I serve everyone but specialize in women’s health, fertility, pregnancy, postpartum care, menopause, digestive issues, sleep and helping people regain their energy.  In addition to offering Ayurvedic Consultations, my team and I offer rejuvenating Ayurvedic bodywork such as Abhyanga – warm oil massage, Shirodhara and Panchakarma cleansing programs.

My team and I are thrilled to practice within Tilia Natural Health, in the Tangletown neighborhood of Seattle. Come see us for a nurturing session and start feeling your best!

As Dr. Lad says “Love Your Life with Ayurveda!”

* To learn more, visit: Embrace Ayurveda  

* My other Ayurvedic online offering:  Ayurvedic Wisdom for Women

* Corporate Wellness Programs highlighting Ayurveda and Yoga:  Luminous Living Inc  luminouslivinginc.com  Coming soon!


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!

 


 

After the holidays, many people think about cleansing from the decadent feasting that just took place. The New Yearis 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.

Post Holidays ~ Is Cleansing Right for MSimply 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: https://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


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

TulipsWith the arrival of Spring comes the blooming of so many different varieties of flowers and blossoms…different ones each week.  While this is so beautiful to experience, it can also be aggravating for those who deal with seasonal allergies.  One of my favorite remedies for respiratory allergies is ‘Super Nasya Oil’, from the Ayurvedic Institute.  It is a wonderful and effective sinus oil that Dr. Lad formulated.  supernasyaoilBenefits include:  lubricating sinuses, preventing allergies by protecting mucus membranes, balancing prana throughout head and body, relaxing muscles of face and neck, and bringing great focus to the mind.  Truly, there are so many benefits.  The suggested dose is 5 drops in each nostril, in the morning, waiting at least 10 minutes before/after food, bathing or sex.  Best to avoid during menses.  Super Nasya Oil is available at:  ayurveda.com.

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.

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.

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!