Friday, June 26, 2009

Ayurvedic Tip #5

Cilantro and Coriander are respectively the leaves and fruit from the same plant (Coriandrum sativum) and are both highly revered in Ayurveda. As a drink, the juice from the fresh leaves are especially useful in the Summer to relieve seasonal sensitivities to blooming flora and can also be used externally as relief for insect bites and other skin rashes.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ayurvedic Tip #4

Nettle tea is a great Spring beverage, acting as a natural reliever of allergies and seasonal sensitivities. Nettles help to cleanse the kidneys and liver and are rich in Vitamins A and C. They are a natural hemostatic (stops bleeding). They are actually recommended during any cold or soggy season or day but are classically used by Yogis as a Spring tonic.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

An Ayurvedic Perspective of Spring – Part II

During Winter, we accumulate the effects of the season in our bodies to the point of possible aggravation when the Spring arrives. Ayurveda refers to this as provoked Kapha. Kapha represents the elements of earth and water. Together, these two elements when provoked or in excess are cold, damp, slow, heavy, dull, and downward moving. If you are recognizing some of these aspects, it may be time to shake up some of your energies. Kapha, in its balanced state provides us with strength, stability, joy, happiness and grounding energies.

Spring is a time of upward moving energies. We can observe this movement around us in the form of new growth in the plant world. Sap is rising in the trees and shoots, sprouts, and greens are peeking above the earth. Foods that follow this upward-moving energy are excellent to add to your Spring diet and to help to balance excess Kapha. Scallions, chives, asparagus, celery, and salad greens all grow upward and make for wonderful additions to your diet now.

Similarly to the plant world, our own energies begin to ascend during Spring. We may find it easier to sleep less, rise earlier, and be more physically active. It is a wonderful time to make intentions to exercise and be outdoors more.

We can incorporate a yoga practice as part of our lifestyle. We can harness the natural fluidity in our energies by incorporating more leg-stretches as part of a hatha yoga practice. Asanas which help to open the lungs and expand the chest are also helpful in clearing out any stagnation of energies in our respiratory system and to promote the movement of our circulatory system.

Treat yourself to a nature walk and allow the senses to be stimulated. Stop to smell the sweet scent of roses, honeysuckle, and other wildflowers in bloom. Their captivating kaleidoscope of colors can be an uplifting awakening for the sense of sight. You can hand-pick some for making a refreshing spring tea, a bouquet, or to use for offerings in pujas. These ideas refresh the mind and can be a form of meditation themselves to stimulate the use of the senses with heightened awareness.

Other meditations or intentions that are synchronized with the Spring season is letting go of any lingering attachments. The energies of Spring are conducive to detaching from old habits and clearing mental clutter. By doing so, it creates more space in the mind and allows for clearer recognition of new potentials and the ability to welcome them in life.

Within a larger context, we ourselves can grow as a part of this seasonal change and realize our intentions of appreciation and devotion to the infinite interweaving of energies which allow us to witness these wonders. The abilities of the mind and consciousness to be aware of such divine experiences can be our greatest gift in embracing these energies and furthering the awareness of the subtle causation lying beneath the outward appearance of such beauty. Spring can be a brilliant setting to embrace the fact that it is the existence of this beauty within us that allows us to appreciate it in the outer world.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ayurvedic Tip #3

Meditation with deep breathing is perhaps the best medicine. Sitting silently for as little as five minutes in the morning and before bed can cure even serious disease conditions. When our mind and body are completely relaxed, our immune system can function properly on the areas that need healing. Meditation is a safe and very effective method to manage our stress, which aggravates all disease conditions.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ayurvedic Tip #2

Did you know that keeping your tongue clean is a simple and vital key to not just dental, but overall health? Most of the bacteria that causes cavities and gum problems lives on your tongue. Having a clean tongue will also improve your overall health, and of course, your breath. A tongue scraper can be purchased at most health food store or Indian markets. Plastic tongues scrappers are OK, but stainless steel are better. Traditional copper ones are antiseptic and promote better oral care.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ayurvedic Tip #1

The word for ginger in Sanskrit, vishwabhesaj means “Universal medicine”. Grating up one teaspoon of fresh ginger in hot water with some honey is excellent for colds and flues, digestive and repertory disorders, dispelling gas, easing menstrual cramps, and overall boosting of the immune system. Drink up to 3 times per day before meals

Friday, May 29, 2009

An Ayurvedic Perspective of Spring – Part I

There are natural rhythms which we experience in the many layers of our environments. These can be cycles of day and night, cycles of our life at different periods from birth to death, seasonal cycles, and even cycles from each breath we take to the next. These cycles are experienced by all forms of life in nature, including the animal and plant kingdom. As human beings, we too are part of nature and very much a part of these cycles. If we can coordinate our internal cycles with those of our external environment, we can consciously enhance our experience of these rhythms and allow ourselves to appreciate them moreso.

Ayurvedically, the spring season is generally viewed as a time of liquefying from our more inert solid-state in winter. While winter is viewed as a time more heavily influenced by the earth element, spring is a time of fluidity and liquefied movement and growth. We can see this in the thawing of frozen over ponds and streams returning from ice to water and their liquid state, in animals emerging from their winter slumber, and plantlife beginning their growth of new foliage.

We ourselves experience this as a natural reduction in our accumulation of the earth element. This may manifest as a decline in weight we have put on due to our bodies’ adjustments to the winter season, a shift away from the stagnation of our physical activity, and more movement in our mental activity. As well, during the spring season, our bodies are already preparing for summer in more ways than we may actively observe. As we migrate from winter to spring, this is represented by the change from the predominance of the earth element to the water element. Similarly, the transition from spring to summer is represented by transformation from water to fire. One way to integrate Ayurveda as part of this alteration in energies is by making changes in our diet.

With this in mind, we can be mindful to not eat food that is too spicy or oily, as this will aggravate the fire element. Spices are good for us, generally, but be should not to overdo this. We can look to incorporate more fresh green vegetables in our diet, including lettuces, spinach, kale, chards, and maybe a small amount of stronger bitter greens (dandelion or broccoli raab). The greens will help to cleanse our blood and facilitate the liquefication process. As well, they are less-heavy and will allow us to feel satisfied without feeling overtly heavy or weighed-down.

A great way to balance the light (as in not-heavy) nature of salad greens is to add plenty of fresh spring vegetables, including carrots, fennel, celery, radishes, turnips, avocados, and tomatoes. Some almonds or sesame seeds can help to add an easily-digestible healthy-fat to salads further balancing them. You can easily prepare your own salad dressing, using fresh herbs to balance salads’ naturally cooling nature. Remember, we do not want to avoid spices but want to use them for balance in tastes.

Cilantro is readily available and can be added to salads (or can be juiced). Cilantro is one of the most commonly known herbs and is one of the most effective natural remedies (or preventatives) to seasonal allergies and hay fever. A recipe prepared following this logic is:

3 C Salad Greens of choice
2 C Red Potatoes
½ Medium Cucumber, peeled and diced
½ C Cherry Tomatoes, halved
½ C Celery Root, cubed
1 C Carrots, sliced
1/3 C Radishes, sliced

½ C Olive Oil
1/3 C Apple Cider Vinegar
1 C Fresh Parsley, chopped
½ TSP Black Pepper, fresh cracked
1 ½ TBSP Marjoram, dried
1 ½ TBSP Chervil, dried
½ TSP Sea Salt
2 TBSP Sesame Seeds (Optional)
¼ C Slivered Almonds (Optional)

Bake potatoes until fork tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before cutting into cubes.

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and toss with dressing to coat vegetables well. This can be allowed to marinate for an hour or more if so desired.

Serve with bread and/or over lettuce and other salad greens.

If we are seeking to greet all the natural wonder of the spring season, we can incorporate Ayurvedic principals into our lifestyle to help us with this venture. In the next entry, we will continue our look at an Ayurvedic spring season, discussing more dietary changes as well as some yoga and meditation practices and (perhaps surprising) physiological and psychological dynamics occurring during this time of year. In general, spring is a time to embrace the plentiful energies that are emerging within and around us as well as the intuitive acceleration of our internal clocks. We can appreciate the longer days and the natural forms of beauty they provide, from the emerging flora and fauna to serenity of watching sunsets and the vastness of open star lit skies.