Balance your Dosha

What is Vata Dosha?

What is Vata Dosha

According to Ayurvedic philosophy, there are three doshas (a.k.a. humors) present in every cell, tissue, and organ of our body that govern our psychobiological functioning. These doshas—vata, pitta, and kapha—comprise the five potential states of matter (i.e., space, air, fire, earth, and water). All five of these elements are present in each dosha, but the two predominant elements in a dosha determine its defining qualities. When in balance, the three doshas create health; when out of balance, they cause disease. They are also responsible for the vast variety of differences and preferences that exist among individuals, and they influence all we are and all we do, from our food choices to the ways we relate to others.

As the forces that govern our physiology, the doshas regulate the creation, maintenance, and destruction of body tissue, as well as the elimination of waste products. They also act as psychological drivers, governing our emotions and mental state. When in balance, the doshas generate the understanding, compassion, and love that sustain mental health. When their balance is disturbed by stress, improper diet, and environmental conditions, they give rise to disturbances such as anger, fear, anxiety, confusion, depression, and disease.

Vata dosha is composed of akasa(space, or ether) and vayu(air). The root va, which means “to spread,” suggests vata’s responsibility for all movement in the body and mind. This includes the flow of breath, pumping of blood; waste elimination; movement of the muscles, bones, limbs, and diaphragm, and the gut’s secretor-motor functions, as well as expressions of speech and responses of the intellect, the nervous system, and the five senses. 

Known as the master dosha because without it all the doshas would be inert, vata exerts a powerful influence on our well-being. Its capacity to affect our internal energies both positively and negatively becomes evident when we consider the dynamic between air and space in the external world. When the movement of air is unrestricted by space (as on the open ocean), it can gain enough momentum to become a hurricane  with gale-force winds traveling at speeds of over 150 mph. When air is confined in a box, it can’t move and becomes stale. Whether it’s due to lack of movement or too much movement, a vata imbalance disrupts the harmony of the doshas. 

The primary site of vata is the colon, but it also resides in the thighs, ears, bones, and bladder. The predominant qualities of its elements, or pañcamahābhūtās, are cold, light, rough, mobile, subtle, clear, dry, and astringent. These attributes can manifest as physical traits such as agility and thinness or health conditions like insomnia, as well as finding expression in mental and emotional functions and characteristics such as imagination, sensitivity, spontaneity, intuition, exhilaration, fear, insecurity, and doubt.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease.

 

Eating for the Season: Recipes to keep Kapha in Balance!

Eating for the Season

Ayurvedic dietary principles call for us to largely avoid refined sweets and excessively cold, dry, unctuous, salty, and fatty foods. I know this seems hard during the holidays, but if you keep this wisdom in mind, you may notice the ease that it brings to your body and mind. Because winter is considered a primarily kapha season, the meals you eat during this time should incorporate slightly more of the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes that pacify this dosha. However, winter’s heavy, moisture-laden atmosphere frequently gives way to the dry, windy conditions of the vata dosha, so it’s also important to focus on vata-balancing foods and tastes on days when this type of weather prevails. Overall, you should eat warming meals that balance kapha and vata and help you adjust to the predominant weather conditions. Also be mindful of your agni, or digestive fire. Since kapha conditions can contribute to sluggish digestion, eat at regularly scheduled times without skipping meals or overeating. As always, eat your largest meal at lunch, when the digestive fire of pitta is strongest.

Here are some simple, tasty recipes that will make it easier and more enjoyable to maintain a dosha-balancing wintertime diet.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup (serves 4)

·      ½ gallon water

·      1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

·      ½ cup rolled oats

·      1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

·      1 tablespoon cumin powder

·      1 teaspoon coriander powder

·      ½ teaspoon turmeric powder

·      ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper

·      1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

·      juice of 1 fresh lemon

·      1 tablespoon rock salt

·      1 tablespoon soya oil

·      2 scallions, chopped

·      parsley

·      watercress

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add squash, oats, cilantro, and spices, including black pepper and salt, fresh ginger, and lemon juice. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 35 minutes. Transfer to the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to pot. Heat oil in a small skillet, and sauté scallions for about 2 minutes; then add to the pureed soup. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Serve hot and garnish with fresh parsley and watercress.

Seven-Grain Bread (serves 4)

·      1 tablespoon natural yeast

·      ½ cup warm water

·      2 tablespoons sesame butter

·      ½ cup spelt flour

·      ½ cup unbleached whole wheat flour

·      ½ cup soya flour

·      ½ cup millet flour

·      ½ cup oat bran

·      ½ cup rolled oats

·      ½ cup cracked wheat

·      1 tablespoon Sucanat

·      ½ teaspoon rock salt

·      1½ cups warm water

Dissolve the yeast in warm water; then dilute the sesame butter in the yeast solution. Combine the flours, bran, rolled oats, cracked wheat, Sucanat, salt, and remaining water; then add the yeast-sesame butter mixture. Knead into a sticky dough. Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover securely and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes. Punch down the dough, cover, and let rise again for 40 minutes, until it doubles in size. Form dough into four rolls, and place on oiled baking trays. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Whole Mung Dhal (serves 4)

·      1 cup whole mung dhal

·      2 ¼ cups water

·      ¼ teaspoon turmeric

·      1 pinch sea salt

·      1 tablespoon ghee

·      1 minced green chili pepper

·      ½ teaspoon grated ginger

·      1 tablespoon masala

·      1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Wash mung dhal until water runs clear. Soak in 3 cups of cold water overnight. Drain. Boil 2 cups of water and add dhal, turmeric, and salt. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 50 minutes. In a small skillet, heat ghee, green chili pepper, and ginger for a few minutes. Add the masala toward the end of browning. Add to dhal with lemon juice and remaining water. Cover and continue to simmer for an additional 30 minutes over low heat.

Sautéed Golden Beets with Masala (serves 4)

·      4 golden beets

·      1 tablespoon sunflower oil

·      1 tablespoon masala

·      2 yellow onions of shallots, cut into half-moon slices

·      1 teaspoon rock salt

·      1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Scrub the beets and cut into bite-size pieces. Heat sunflower oil in cast iron skillet. Stir in masala and cook until slightly browned. Add shallots, beets, and salt. Stir in two tablespoons of water. Cover and allow to cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, garnish with fresh parsley, and serve hot.

Caraway Brown Rice (serves 4)

·      2 cups long-grain brown rice

·      3½ cups boiling water

·      1 pinch of sea salt

·      2 teaspoons of caraway seeds

Wash rice until water runs clear and add to boiling water. Add salt. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 25 minutes. Dry-roast caraway seeds in a small cast iron pan until golden. Add to rice mixture and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Red Cabbage and Onion Soup (serves 4)

·      ½ gallon of water

·      1 small red cabbage shredded

·      2 red onions, chopped

·      1 tablespoon coriander powder

·      ½ teaspoon cayenne powder

·      1 tablespoon dried dill

·      1 tablespoon dried parsley

·      2 cloves of garlic

·      1 tablespoon of rock salt

·      ¼ cup cashew butter

·      1 red onion, cut into thin half-moon slices

Bring water to a boil in a large soup pot. Add the cabbage and onions, along with the coriander and cayenne powders, dried dill, parsley, and salt. Lightly crush the garlic cloves with a handstone and remove the skin. Add the lightly crushed cloves of garlic to the soup mixture. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 35 minutes, until onions are practically dissolved. Add cashew butter to the soup and stir until it dissolves. Garnish the hot soup with thinly sliced red onions; remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve hot with a heaping dollop of Millet Supreme.

Millet Supreme (serves 4)

·      3½ cups water

·      2 cups millet

·      ¼ cup fresh peas

·      ½ teaspoon turmeric

·      ½ teaspoon cumin powder

·      ½ teaspoon ajwain seeds

·      1 teaspoon rock salt

·      1 tablespoon sunflower oil

·      ¼ cup currents

·      ½ cup roasted almonds, slivered

·      juice of ½ lemon

Bring water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Thoroughly wash the millet, and add to boiling water, along with the peas, turmeric, cumin powder, ajwain seeds, and salt. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes. Heat the oil in a small skillet, and add the currants and almonds. Stir for another few minutes until currants begin to swell. Add the lemon juice. Add to the millet, and continue cooking for 10 minutes more. Serve warm.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. 

Healing Music for Your Ayurvedic Type

HealingMusicDosha

Each of us has a unique connection to music. Most of us experience the effects of music on our mind and body daily. It’s a joy to think that we are all inherently musicians who can connect with the rhythms of life and spirit, if only we can find the music that most resonates with us. Ayurveda teaches that choosing music according to our type can deepen our ability to achieve a balanced state of health and wellness. Your Ayurvedic type depends on which dosha primarily governs your physiological and psychological functions. Identifying the dosha that determines your mind-body type is the first step toward finding the right music for you to play, compose, or simply enjoy. Once you’ve done this, you can follow these guidelines to select the kind of music that is most likely to nurture your total well-being.

Music for a Vata Type: In general, it's best for a vata person or someone who is experiencing a vata imbalance to listen to or play instruments with soft, low, and mellow tones, including string instruments such as the guitar, mandolin, bass, and cello and wind instruments, such as chimes and the didgeridoo. Learning to play Himalayan singing bowels and the harmonium can also be very healing and meditative for a vata type.

Music for Pitta Type: People with pitta-type constitutions should seek out soft, rhythmic music with a mid-range tone. Congenial instruments include the flute, clarinet, saxophone, and mouth organ. String instruments that are balancing for pitta types are the violin, dulcimer, and mandolin. All types of percussion that are gentle are also very soothing.

Music for Kapha Type: Kapha types should focus on energizing music with a solid bassline accompanied by higher tones. All types of drums, such as the Indian dholak and tabla and African conga and water drums, as well as bells, chimes, Incan panpipes, and the accordion, electric keyboard. and piano are all great instruments for a kapha person to learn to play.

 

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. 

Easy Summer Pitta-Pacifying Recipes

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One of the delights of summer is the joyful abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables tumbling off the grocery shelves. According to Ayurveda, sweet fruits and bitter greens help pacify the pitta dosha. According to the scientific community (and our own common sense) fruits and veggies also help protect us from falling ill.

A recent international research study conducted by the University of Adelaide found that people who consumed a diet high in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains had a lower risk of developing a host of chronic health woes, including anemia, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, arthritis, hepatitis, coronary heart disease, asthma, stroke, bone fractures, and cancer. The study found that a high intake of fruit was associated with a lower risk of developing any chronic disease, while a high intake of vegetables may help people with one chronic disease avoid developing a second. Here are some delightful pitta-pacifying recipes to try this summer!

Cooling Mint Tea
1 cup fresh peppermint leaves
1 quart boiling water
1 quart room temperature water
2 teaspoons sweetener

Pour the quart of boiling water over the mint leaves. Cover and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain the tea into a pitcher or glass jar. Add a sweetener. If you are adding honey, make sure the water has cooled down first. This is a great drink for aiding digestion. Drink at room temperature for maximum assimilation. Remember that iced and chilled drinks dampen our digestive fires, making it difficult to properly digest our food.

Asparagus and/or carrots with lemon-herb sauce
Steam your chosen amounts of asparagus and/or carrots to the point where they are “fork-friendly.” This means a little less firm than al dente but not soft or mushy. Then pour the following lemon-herb sauce over the vegetables.

Lemon-Herb Sauce: Juice one lemon. Add a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of honey (use only unheated honey). Mix together in a blender with a few leaves of fresh basil and mint. Puree until smooth.

Cucumber Raita
This side dish goes well with dhal, rice, curries, and other Indian dishes.
Combine in a mixing bowl:
1 cup fresh yogurt
¼ cup cucumber, peeled and diced finely
1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and grated
¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro (the leaves of the coriander plant)
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
salt to taste

Dandelion Salad
If your lawn is full of dandelions, stop complaining and start picking! Dandelions are one of the most nutrient-dense plants you can eat. Their leaves, when young and tender, have a slightly bitter taste like that of arugula. The older the plant, the more bitter the greens. Before you start picking, be sure that the yard in which the dandelions are growing has not been treated with toxic chemicals.
1 cup dandelion greens, washed and dried
8 large leaves of butter lettuce, washed and dried
½ cup feta cheese or goat cheese, chopped or crumbled

Dressing
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
sweetener to taste (just a bit is needed)
1 tomato chopped
fresh basil
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Boiling the dandelion greens is better for older, larger leaves as it removes their bitterness. You may even want to boil older, tougher greens twice. If so, boil once for 2 minutes; then, drain and boil again for 2 minutes.


For information on consultations with Ayurveda experts or to take a dosha quiz and discover your individual mind/body type, visit us at our clinic or online.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. 

Balance Kapha

"Snigdhah shita gururmandah shlakshno mritsnah sthirah kaphah".— Ashtanga Hrdayam: Sutrasthana 1:12

Kapha is unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft, and static. Understanding kapha’s qualities is the key to understanding how to balance this dosha. Having a kapha-predominant prakriti(constitution) means that these qualities will express themselves throughout your physical, mental, and emotional makeup.

A basic tenet of Ayurvedic medicine, is that “like increases like.” So if kapha is your dominant dosha, cold weather, dense foods, and all things inherently cool and heavy will increase the kapha in your system. For example if you’re a kapha person living in Boston who drinks a large frozen smoothie on a cool evening, you may wake up the next  day with a cold. This is because you’ve amplified the heavy and dense qualities throughout your body, making it even more difficult to move out kapha, which is already stagnant in nature and therefore hard to dissipate. 

It’s common for our predominant dosha to increase more quickly than the others. If too much of one dosha accumulates in the body, we naturally want to decrease it to restore a healthy balance to our constitution. In Ayurveda, “medicines” are substances that do this by providing qualities that are the opposite of those inherent in the overabundant dosha. In the case of kapha, those opposing qualities are dryness, lightness, warmth and activity. Therefore it’s best for people with a kapha imbalance to seek out environments, foods, and routines that embody these qualities both physically and emotionally.

A person with a kapha imbalance will do well with warming, light, freshly cooked foods. Foods and herbs with a bitter, pungent, or astringent taste will also help decrease kapha. These tastes should predominate in your diet. Bibhitaki, chitrak and punarnava are three examples of herbs that help remove excess kapha from the body and maintain balance.

The ideal environment for a kapha person is one that’s warm and dry. Take extra care to stay warm and dry in cold, wet weather and during the winter. Activity can be one of the best medicines for kapha. Try to find something that motivates you to exercise regularly. Consider signing up for a race or a competition to give yourself that extra push.

Daily self-massages with warm sesame oil will help keep kapha from becoming stagnant. Make sure that you massage yourself vigorously and that the oil you use is warm to the point where it’s almost hot. You can capitalize on the warming properties of aromatics such as juniper, eucalyptus, marjoram, and clove by applying them to your clothing or putting them in a diffuser in your home, car, and office.

These are just a few tips. If you would like more information on how to balance kapha, schedule an online appointment here.

Visit the Kapha Yoga tips article to know how to customize your daily yoga practice to balance kapha.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. 

Essential Oils for Your Dosha

Essential oils are a wonderful way to balance the dosha on a daily basis. Understanding essential oils from an Ayurvedic prospective can help you customize your approach to essential oils. Ayurveda recognizes that because of their chemical makeup, all essential oils, will either add heat or will have a cooling effect on the body. Essential oils can be arranged in a vertical line, with the oils that are coolest at the top, the oils that are neutral in the middle , and the oils that are warming at the bottom. All essential oils can be placed somewhere on this line , according to their properties. For example blue chamomile is a cooling oil, lavender exemplifies neutrality, and thyme is a hot essential oil. 

Try taking a chamomile and peppermint bath and feel the coolness when you come out. Experience a drop of thyme or clove rubbed into the skin on the forearm. You should notice a warmth with in 15 min. The oils in the middle range, the neutral oils such as lavender as known as balancers, because if you are feverish, they can help cool you down, and if you are feeling very cold and you apply lavender in a massage oil base to the body, it can warm you up. Lavender is an oil for all seasons. Balancers will always bring you back toward neutral, toward normal function. 

Western chemistry can fit into this arrangement, with the essential oils at the top of chart being very electro-negative. They have extra electrons and take heat away from the body. Those essential oils at the bottom of the chart are elect o-positive. They are missing electrons in their outer rings, and are eager and ready to acquire them, producing heat in the body.

Ayurveda also recognizes that essential oils can be classified as wet or dry. The wet oils have hight polarity and mix well with water. If you put them into a bath they disperse into, and become a part of the water. Another name for this property is hydrophilic (water loving). Oils of low polarity don’t mix with water. They will float on the surface of the bather and form a “ring” on the edge of the tub. They have affinity and mix with vegetable oils and fats , these oils are called lipophilic (fat loving). All of the essential oils can be arranged on a line that runs from left (wet) to the right (dry). Some of the wet essential oils are geranium and rose, having high constituents levels of alcohol and some of the dry, fat loving oils are the terpenes, such as citrus oils and pine. Neutral oils again are oils such as lavender, clary sage Roman chamomile, basil, anise and tarragon.

Vata Balancing
Because Vata is light, dry, mobile and cold, it is treated with oils which are wet, heavy, calming and warming. Vata is reduced by the tastes sweet, sour, and salty, this can be used when determining the oil that is correct for Vata. When understanding Vata, there are two types of imbalances to consider. One is known as obstructed Vata where the channels of the body have become clogged with toxic residues (ama), the result of indigestion, poor diet, and poor elimination in the presence of dosha imbalance. Like Kapha excess, obstructed Vata is treated for a short period of time to remove the blockages. The other type is called Vata-caused deficiency, and this is where excess Vata in the system has caused drying, emaciation and loss of tissues. Vata-caused deficiency resembles the extreme aging process.

The following essential oils are good stimulates for both types of Vata, they increases digestive fire, flushes toxins, increases internal heat and strengthen circulation. They are contraindicated in very high Vata conditions such as dehydration or inflamed mucous membranes. Ginger, oregano, orange, eucalyptus, cumin, cinnamon, clove, celery seed, black pepper, bergamot, bay, calamus, camphor, marjoram, arnica, ajwan, caraway, thyme, sage, rosewood, lemon, nutmeg.

Vata-caused deficiency requires nutritive herbs that will build the tissues. These could relieve menstrual cramping, build the blood, moisten and nourish the sexual immune system, strengthen organ weakness due to disease and alleviate poor nutrition or aging. Angelica, clary sage, myrrh, parsley, tarragon, vanilla, rose and jasmine (but both are cooling so avoid prolonged use).

Pitta Balancing
Because Pitta is hot and wet, it is supported with cooling, heat dispelling drying, nutritive and calming oils. The tastes for reducing Pitta are sweet, astringent and bitter. Cooling carminatives are often aromatic spices that improve digestion and elimination by removing blockages and promoting flow of energy. These oils include chamomile, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, lavender, lemon, lemon balm, lime, neroli, peppermint, spearmint, winter green.

Astringent oils reduce the excretions and discharges and are drying, yet prevent the loss of moisture and have a tightening effect on the tissues, promote wonder healing of the surface tissues and stop bleeding. Calendula, carrot seed, lemon, St. Johns wort, turmeric, wintergreen, yarrow.

Cooling alternatives that purify the blood, fight infections, reduce fevers and promote healing, includes herbs such as, aloevera, coriander, cumin, dill, jasmine, neem, sandalwood, spearmint, taggets, turmeric, yarrow, blue chamomile. Nutritive tonics nourish the tissues of the body, reduce inflammation, restore secretions, build the blood and lymph system. Angelica, carrot seed, cedar wood, neem, neroli, spikenard. Rejuvenates renew the body and mind, increases awareness, change patterns, and creates expansion. Angelica, brahmi, carrot seed, cedar wood, rose, jatamansi.


Cooling diuretics reduce Pitta’s heat and cool the liver. Coriander, fennel, lavender, lemongrass, sandalwood, spearmint. Antipyretics to reduce Pitta’s fire. Jasmine, lime, neem, tagetes, vetiver, neroli are all options.

Kapha Balancing
Kapha is water and earth, it is predominantly cold, moist, slow and heavy in nature. It can be supported with warming, drying, lightening and stimulating therapy. The tastes that improve or balance Kapha are pungent, bitter and astringent. Pungent is the most important because it is exactly opposite from Kapha, being light, hot and dry. Diuretics can be used to reduce water and are an important Kapha therapy. Oils of Ajwan, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, garlic, juniper berry, lemongrass, parsley, spearmint, are effective for this.

Increasing the digestive fire reduces Kapha, so all stimulant and carminative essential oils can be importance therapy, especially the heating carmitive and stimulants. Ajwan, anise, basil, bay, black pepper, calamus, cardamon, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, ginger, juniper berry, mustard, nutmeg, orange peel, oregano, parsley, pennyroyal, safforn, thyme turmeric, valerian.

The main areas that hold Kapha in the forms of mucous are the lungs and stomach. Emetic therapy is important for expelling mucous buildups in the stomach and the lungs, but should be only administered by those who have training in Panchakarma. Diaphoretic oils can be helpful for eliminating water through seating. They cleanse the blood and lymphatics. Ajwan, angelica, basil, camphor, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, eucalyptus, ginger, juniper berry, lemongrass, mugwort, oregano, sage, thyme.

 

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

Tips for Vata Yoga

People with Vata derangement typically move quickly, sometimes with little awareness, and often push themselves harder than their bodies can take. Vata dosha is characterized by the qualities cold, mobility, lightness and expansiveness. A yoga practice for a Vata individual should be one creating warmth, serenity and nourishment. Vatas can cultivate this by following some basic guidelines:

  • Practice at a slow, smooth and steady pace.
  • Explore fluidity in your poses. Use gentle movements such as spinal and pelvic undulation, rotation in the joints, counter-poses, and flexion and extension.
  • Hold each posture for a short amount of time, but do multiple repetitions.
  • Draw into and move from your power center or hara. The hara is the area below the navel and above the pubic bone.
  • Focus on the foundation of the pose to create stability.
  • Internally rotate the femurs and press into the outer edges of your legs.
  • As you move, imagine you are moving through a substance like warm water or warm mud.
  • Focus on lengthening your inhalation.
  • Stay connected to the earth. Ground down through your big toes.
  • Fix your gaze below or at the horizon.
  • Engage your entire body by hugging your muscles to the bones.
  • Do not over extend or deplete yourself. Your practice should be strengthening, not draining. Vatas easily exhaust themselves and when the vata imbalance becomes severe, a restorative practice is best.
  • Be present in your practice.
  • Stay warm.
  • Conclude your practice with a long relaxation.

When Vata has gone out of balance, too much air has accumulated in the mind, body, environment. The result is a sense of un-groundedness. The best way to balance excess Vata is to bring more earth and stability into the physiology. Think relaxing.

  • Go to bed and awaken at the same time every day.
  • Meditate twice a day to quiet the mind.
  • Practice yoga to connect with your body.
  • Wear relaxing fragrances.
  • Eat three meals per day and favor, sweet, sour and salty taste.
  • Perform a slow daily self massage with warm Relaxing herbalized oils.
  • Drink Relaxing herbal tea.
  • Look for opportunities to create rhythm and routine in your life.
  • Finish things once you start them.

Ayurvedic Fasting

"The greatest discovery by modern man is the power to rejuvenate himself physically, mentally , and spiritually with rational fasting." 


Fasting is considered to be an important medicine in Ayurveda, as long as it is not a long term fast that would deplete the individual. It is natures ancient, universal "remedy" for numerous ailments. It is a way to expel ama (toxic build up) from our digestive system, thus strengthening the immune system. 

In our modern time, we are bombarded with many new trends of fasting, juice cleansing, lemon fast, water fast, the list goes on. Its hard to know what is right or not. In Ayurveda, there is no "one sizes fits all" approach to fasting, and some of these popular fast, can actually be detrimental to many, as it is not suited to their unique constitution. A fast that may be good for one person, will not be good for the next. It is important to take you constitution into consideration when choosing a fast. 

Fasting in a larger context, means to abstain from that which is toxic to the mind, body, and soul. A way to understand this is that fasting is the elimination of physical, emotional, and mental toxins from our organism, rather then simply cutting down or stopping food intake. Fasting for spiritual purposes usually involves some degree of removal of oneself from worldly responsibilities. It can mean complete silence and social isolation durning the fast which can be a great revival to those of us who have been putting our energy outward.When fasting with a spiritual intent, one withdraws from everything that is toxic to the mind, body and spirit. This allows the mind to become freer, to merge into higher states of spiritual communion and releases ama of the mind and the body. 

Ayurvedic fasting is an effective way to kindle the digestive fire and burn away accumulated toxins from the body and mind. It also eliminates gas, makes the body light, improves mental clarity, and preserves overall health. Ayurveda favors regular, short-term fasting over infrequent, long-term fasting. This could entail fasting on the same day each week or setting a few days aside each month to fast, depending on your constitution and cleansing requirements. Ayurveda suggests that  a more extended fasting is best at the change of each season. According to Ayurveda, fasting for up to a week can cause metabolic disorders that can take months to bring back to balance. 

In determining the appropriate type and length of a fast, it’s important to take into account your constitution, digestive strength, level of ama, and overall vitality. It’s never advised to deplete your energy during a fast. If you’re new to fasting or have a chronic illness, we recommend consulting an Ayurvedic practitioner for specifically tailored guidance.

If you are of vata constitution you should never fast on water or any other severely restricted diet nor should you fast for more then two days. Consuming light foods such as kitchari and kanjee, is a good option for the vata constitution. Vata constitution can fast once a month, or at the change of seasons. 

Pitta individuals can fast on liquids, such as, fruit or vegetable juices, broths or lightly cooked vegetables, but never on water alone. Pitta should never skip on quantity. Ideally its good for them to dilute fruit juices, like prunes, grape or pomegranate, or cucumber juice, which is both astringent and bitter in taste, and should avoid strong sour tasting juices. Fast can last 2-3 days and it is best suggested to fast only 4 times a year at the change of the seasons. If you are of vata-pitta constitution please add kitchari to your fast or focus more on grounding vegetable broths. 

Kapha individuals can easily do prolonged water fasts if they so chose. Otherwise, they many use raw juices or warm vegetable broths. For Kapha people to maintain a good strong digestion, it would be healthy for them to do weekly fasts, picking one day each week to fast. Kapha types should avoid strong tasting sweet and sour juices.  

Sipping warm teas throughout the day is also a highly effective way to flush out accumulated toxins from the body. Simply place the ingredients in a medium saucepan with 4 cups filtered water, bring the water to a boil for 5 minutes, and then steep for 2 to 5 minutes. Always add the lemon while the tea is steeping. Strain into a tea pot or thermos.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
1 cinnamon or licorice stick 
10 fresh basil leaves 
Squeeze lemon juice

Simple fresh ginger tea and a squeeze of lemon is a good option as well. 

Note: In juicing, please do not combine fruit and vegetables juices and only use up to 2 different fruits or 2 vegetables at a time. If this is not followed it can cause slow digestion, bloating, and  can reverse the effects of fasting. It’s best to choose a fasting period in which you’ll be able to follow a peaceful, non-stressful routine. We recommend following the daily and nightly routines of Ayurveda. It’s also important always to break your fasts properly. The most important rule to remember is to begin eating again gradually, slowly working your way up to solid foods.
 

Vata in the Fall

This time of year, many of us feel out of whack. Fall usually increases the Vata energy in all of us, which in excess can result in anxiety, pain, the urge to travel (which would of course make Vata even stronger), dryness of skin and hair and many other symptoms. We may find it harder to concentrate or focus for any length of time. We may feel compelled to create changes in our lives – when actually steadying the course is just what we need. If you are primarily made up of Vata energy, you will feel this even more keenly than the rest of us!

To keep Vata in balance, there are any number of things we can do. Food is the best medicine. So eat lots of Vata-balancing foods, which are generally hot, well-cooked and wet. Eat seasonal foods such as cooked onion, carrots sweet potatoes, parsley, beets, radish  grapefruit, grape strawberries, raspberries, figs and avocado. Also use whole grains such as whole wheat, basmati rice, brown rice and oats. Increase pecans, walnuts almonds and pine nuts. Drink warm water with ginger and lemon through out the day. 

For reducing Vata, take time before you shower and give yourself a sesame oil massage. Let oil soak in for 20 mins. It is good to calm your mind at this time, practice breathing exercises and meditate. Also, much of our grandmothers’ seasonal advice is well-aligned with what Ayurveda has to say about reducing Vata. For example, bundle up in cooler weather, drink warm (caffeine free) liquids, and protect your head (especially the ears) from the wind.  

The best way to deal with seasonal change is to get ahead of it. If you eat for your Ayurevdic constitution all year, and do a seasonal cleanse/panchakarma program at each junction of the seasons, you can avoid/prevent/lessen the imbalances often caused at these times of year.

6 tastes of Ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, the sense of taste is a natural guide map towards proper nutrition. Ayurveda identifies six taste by which all foods can be categorized: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. By having a balance of the six tastes though out the day, all of your dosha have been given the nutrients needed to function correctly. In addition, including all six tastes in your diet contributes to feeling satisfied at the end of the meal and minimize cravings. Cravings are often caused by not having all of the six tastes in your daily diet. Many people omit the bitter and astringent tastes, but when having these tastes at the end of the meal, it reduces your desire for sweet, thus eat your salad at the end of each meal instead of the beginning.

The six tastes offer us a user-friendly guide map for how to nourish ourselves. Rather than looking at nutritional labels for X amount of protein or Y amount of carbohydrates, the six tastes naturally guide us towards our body’s dietary needs. Each taste feeds our mind, body, senses, and spirit in its unique way. From a modern nutritional perspective, the six Tastes satisfy each of the major nutritional building blocks. 

Sweet foods, for example, are rich in fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and water, whereas Bitter and Astringent foods are high in vitamins and minerals.

The brain sends the body signals when it requires energy in the form of food. By incorporating all six tastes into each meal, we ensure that these signals are adequately met, thus avoiding food cravings or the over-consumption of certain foods.

Including the six tastes in each meal doesn’t need to be a daunting task. Adding a squeeze of lemon to cooked dishes, for example, can quickly satisfy the sour taste, while adding a side salad will fulfill the bitter and astringent tastes. Examples of each tastes responsibility in the body and food sources are listed below:

Sweet (decreases Vata and Pitta, increases Kapha)- Builds tissues, calms nerves: grains, rice, bread, sweet fruit, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, milk, oils, meats, nuts.

Sour (decreases Vata, increases Pitta and Kapha)- Cleanses tissues, increases absorption of minerals: citrus fruits, yogurt, alcohol, vinegar, cheese, tomato, raspberries, strawberries.

Salty (decreases Vata, increases Pitta and Kapha)- Improves taste to food, lubricates tissues, stimulates digestion: Natural salts, sea vegetables.

Bitter (increases Vata, decreases Pitta and Kapha)- Detoxifies and lightens tissues: coffee, rhubarb, turmeric, most green and yellow veggies, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, leafy greens, cabbage.

Pungent (increases Vata and Pitta, decreases Kapha) Stimulates digestion and metabolism:  garlic, onion, ginger, wasabi, black pepper, cloves, cayenne pepper, horseradish, salsa, jalapenos.

Astringent (increases Vata, decreases Pitta and Kapha): Absorbs water, tighten tissues, dries fat: fruit peels, unripe banana, leafy greens, blueberries, cranberries, beans, legumes, peas, green tea.