Vata Dosha

You might be a Vata if variability and change are your nature. Everything from your digestion, appetite to sleep patterns is always changing.  Vata people talk a lot, walk a lot, and complain a lot.  They use their hands a lot when they talk as if they were talking with their hands.  They are good at attracting people with their talkative, expressive, and charming ways.  Very likable and sociable.  They are very intuitive, imaginative, creative and artistic.  They are good at writing poems, creating art, dancing and they love to travel or be constantly on the go.  Vata mind is just like a busy bee, constantly buzzing around (in circles).  They are born worriers, worrying about everything anything.  They are good to start projects but don’t count on them to finish it. They often feel anxious, nervous or worried about something in their life.  Many times their mind is in the future, not enjoying the present moment.  They are good at playing “what if” games.

Physically, Vata people are more slender and have an easy time losing weight and a hard time gaining weight.  Vata people have irregular digestion, appetite and sleep patterns. They can easily become constipated.  They also have tendencies towards dryness–dry eyes, dry skin, and dry joints.  Their dry joints and increased flexibility can lead to chronic joint pain.

Vata slogan is “Can I change my mind?”

Vata, which means “that which moves,” is composed of the elemental qualities of space and air.

The qualities that define vata are: cold, dry, light, irregular, invisible, mobile, rough and quick

The times of the year when vata is prominent are autumn and early winter.

Vata at a body-mind level governs breathing, movement, and discharge of nerve impulses, coordination of the senses, mental adaptability, and comprehension.

Vata is the first to change and is often called the “cause of the 100 diseases.”  Due to its variable and unstable nature vata out of balance can easily lead to illness and dis-ease.

While there are many remedies and ways to balance vata (stay tuned to my blog to learn more), here is one of my favorite teas to balance vata.  Drink it throughout your day if you believe your vata is out of balance.

Vata Tea:
1 C water
¼ tsp fresh ginger, grated
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ajwan
Love & Grounding
Optional sweetner: turbinado, rice syrup, honey
Directions: Boil water, turn off heat, add spices.  Cover and steep for a few minutes.  Sweeten to taste (optional) & serve.

If you’re curious or want to learn more about Ayurveda, please email me or contact me.  I would love to help you understand more about yourself through the lens of Ayurveda.  It is an empowering form of medicine and framework to create long-lasting health solutions at any age or state of health.

From my heart to yours,

Aloha & Namaste

Advertisements

Pitta Dosha

You might be a Pitta if your main personality characteristic is sharpness.  Pitta people are good speakers, speaking to the point (no beating around the bush).  They are very precise, goal seeking, orderly and tidy.  Pitta people are list makers; they can’t do anything unless planned or they have a clear understanding or vision.  Pitta’s like to make “sense” out of situations or information.  They are always “on time” and don’t like to be late.  Pitta mind is like a bull: once set on the goal, it is difficult to change.  Present and in the moment, Pittas are generally witty and make good public speakers.   Opinionated, Criticizing, or telling people what is right and wrong (not afraid to use their sharp tongue), pitta can make enemies easily.  Because of their courage, wit, high energy, “get it done” attitude, and inspirational personalities they make good leaders. Physically, a pitta also has sharp features—sharp nose, sharp eyes, sharp facial features, and (watch out) a sharp tongue.  They are strong and have good muscle definition.  A pitta person typically stays about the same weight with only a slight fluctuation.  They tend to have receding hairlines, early graying, or bald early.  Pitta’s metabolism is very sharp and fast. They are always hungry and get upset or moody if they don’t get fed.  Yes, these are the people who get “hangry.”  Pittas get irritable or angry quickly, especially when things don’t happen their way.

The Pitta slogan is “Do it my way or the highway.”

Pitta means “that which digests things,” physically and mentally.

Pitta is defined by the elemental qualities of fire and water.  The qualities of pitta are hot, oily, acidic, light, sharp, mobile, and liquid.

Pitta governs digestion, body temperature, vision, hunger, thirst, luster, complexion, intelligence, and courage.

If you believe you’re a pitta type or your pitta is out of balance, you can sip on Pitta Balancing Tea throughout the day.

Pitta Balancing Tea:

1 C water
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp coriander
¼ tsp fennel
¼ tsp rose petals
¼ tsp fresh cilantro
optional sweetener: maple syrup, turbinado or rice syrup.

Directions: Boil water, turn off heat and add spices.  Cover and steep for 5 minutes.  Sweeten to taste (optional) & serve.  A wonderful tea for the Summertime.

Think you’re a pitta and want to learn more?  I love sharing Ayurveda and its wisdom with people around the globe.  Send me your questions via email or another social media outlet and I’ll be happy to get back to you as soon as I can.

Blessings and create a day you love!

Kapha Dosha

You might be a Kapha if soft and stable are your main personality characteristics.  Kapha people are grounded individuals and help to ground others.  By nature, they are the peacemakers of the world with their nurturing ways, loving attitudes, and sweet looks. They want everybody to be happy.   Kapha types tend to be shy or soft-spoken with delicate voices.  They are wonderful listeners and give the best hugs.

Amma

When I think of the perfect Kapha person, I think of Amma, the hugging saint. She is full of love, devotion, service to others and changes people’s lives with her hugs.

Physically Kapha types are full-bodied, well built (the most sturdy physical body constitution) and have more round features. Kaphas gain weight very easily, often feeling like “if I look at food, I gain weight.”    They have great endurance, stamina and a very strong immune system (the strongest of the three doshas).  Kaphas easy going nature can easily turn into being lazy.  Kaphas like to rely on others and prefer to follow others rather than take the lead.  Mentally, their minds are slower to learn but once they have it, they never forget.  They often think of the past or daydream about past incidences.  Kapha people get attached quickly and have difficulty letting go (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually).

The Kapha slogan is “Don’t worry be happy.”

Kapha means “that which holds together.”  It is made up of the elemental qualities of earth and water.  Based on these elemental qualities, it is no surprise that kapha’s functions are to provide structure, support, cohesion, grounding, cooling, and lubrication.

The qualities of eath and water are: heavy, cold, oily, static, soft, and cloudy.

The seasons of Kapha are late winter and spring.  During late winter and spring, one way to balance kapha is by sipping on kapha tea throughout the day.

Kapha Balancing Tea:

1 C water
¼ tsp dry ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp dill seed
¼ tsp fenugreek seed
optional sweetener: turbinado or rice syrup

Directions: Boil water, turn off heat and add spices.  Cover and steep for 5 minutes.  Strain and add optional sweetener. Drink in the morning and evening or make enough to sip throughout the day.

If you sound like a Kapha or want to learn more about Ayurveda, send me an email and connect with me.  I have a detailed questionnaire you can fill out to learn more about your personal constitution and Ayurveda dosha.

Oceans of love,

H.

Six Tastes of Ayurveda

At the age of five, maybe even earlier, I was often plagued by stomach aches.  It mostly happened after I ate.  My parents, relatively western in their ways, did what any suburban middle-class parents would do, they took me to my pediatrician.  I loved my Pediatrician.  She was untouchable to me.  It was so cool when she used a tongue depressor that was individually wrapped.  I loved the pink syrup she gave me when I had sore throats and I loved looking through the drawers in my waiting room while I waited for the doctor.  Unfortunately, despite her coolness factor, my stomach aches continued.  There was no definite diagnosis and only some mention after an allergy test that I might be lactose intolerant.  The tiny purple pill which was brand-spanking-new on the market (now one of Pharmaceuticals top sellers, Prilosec) didn’t even help.  I did do a little bit better with lactose-free milk but ice cream, cheese, pizza, and all those yummy kids foods always made me sick and were out of the question.

In my teens, my stomach aches got worst and worst.  After a trip to France, where I had very little stomach issues even eating their stinky cheese, I returned stateside with horrible cramping stomach aches.  After several mildly invasive tests, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  They told me it was a newer diagnosis that was just being used.   The doctor told me, “Eat what you can and avoid the things that give you an upset stomach.”  Duuuuuuuuhhhh!  That’s what I was doing.  Eating rice and apple juice.  Do you think I would have spent my time coming to you if I didn’t already know that?!  I was frustrated.

About the same time, my mom had picked up a book from a garage sale and gave it to me saying, “I think this is for you.”  The title was Yoga and Ayurveda by David Frawley.  I had nooooooo idea what yoga or Ayurveda was (neither did my mom) but when I randomly opened it up, I saw charts of foods.  With a quick scan, I discovered a book that discussed food as medicine.  I began reading hastily.  Within days I was learning that people had different body constitutions and foods reacted differently to different people.  This all made perfect sense to me.  It was like a lightbulb turned-on, one that was familiar yet so new.  I felt like I finally found hope for reducing my stomach upset.  That was the beginning of my love affair with Ayurveda.  I still had no idea what yoga was and it would be another three years before I took my first asana yoga class.

Ayurveda is a complete system of medicine.  Where biomedicine treats diseases with biomedical pharmaceuticals and surgery, Ayurveda prefers to use food, spices, lifestyle modifications, exercise, meditation, aromatherapy, mantra, manual therapies like massage and herbal formulas, or surgery in severe illness or disease.  Ayurveda’s focus is on establishing and maintaining health and wellness in order to prevent disease.

Hippocrates Food MedicineWhile many people believe Hippocrates coined the term “food is medicine,” this is actually an old Ayurveda saying that dates back thousands of years prior to Hippocrates.  Food is such a key component to health and wellness because we eat several times a day.  Ayurveda has dissected food to a science.  The reason why food is medicine is because what we put in our mouths has tastes that trigger our digestive system to begin working and a post-digestive effect.  Each taste stimulates a different part of the tongue which sends signals to the digestive system to ramp up for ingestion and begin producing the right enzymes to digest the incoming food or beverage.  Furthermore, Ayurveda explains how each taste has a medicinal value based on its qualities and properties.  It’s these elemental properties that act on the body in a myriad of ways to create balance, cleansing, healing or even imbalances.

To date, I know of no other culture or medicine that looks at food and tastes so closely.  This is different from the western idea of nutrient and vitamin values.  Nutrients and values are just labels but do not explain why they do what they do to the body.  Ayurveda does.  Ayurveda explains the why’s of food as medicine.  Of all the years I’ve been studying Ayurveda (over 16 years now) I am still fascinated by the science of food and the six tastes.

I’ve compiled a quick .pdf (Six tastes handout) for you to look at which gives a more detailed description of the six tastes and how they affect the body.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.  I’m pretty obsessed about Oriental Medicine and geek out over this stuff all the time.  So if you have any questions, seriously, please ask.

Create a day you LOVE!

Aloha & Namaste

 

The Synergy of Yoga and Ayurveda

For thousands of years*, Yoga and Ayurveda have been used to heal, transform and balance the human body, mind, and thus, Spirit. Through globalization, both have spread worldwide assisting people in reclaiming their health and well-being by promoting daily practices to create health, rather than relying on a magic pill.  Both systems were suppressed in India during the British occupation but continued to live-on behind closed doors within households and particular spiritual leaders.  The reemergence of both practices is growing at a rapid rate worldwide.

Yoga and Ayurveda are intimately connected and often hard to separate.  Ayurveda is the healing and therapeutic branch of yoga, also known as Yoga Chikitsa.  Yoga is the spiritual aspect of Ayurveda.  Yoga as an individual practice is known as Yoga Sadhana.  When we use yoga as a medical therapy (i.e. when students come to yoga studios because they’ve been advised by a doctor or because of their own volition to find relief from stress, pain in the body, chronic backache, etc) this is traditionally considered Ayurveda.  In addition, the Ayurveda view of the mind and psychology stems from Yoga philosophy, thus making the practices and exercises for the mind the same.

While “yoga” has become a more integrated part of the western lexicon, Ayurveda still is yet to be discovered, or used, in the same way.  Ayurveda practitioners like myself, this is both a blessing and a challenge.  A blessing because it means the competition is low and the potential number of people to educate is massive.  The challenge is…the same thing.  That is why Breathe. Connect. Be. was created.  To educate as many people as possible.

The Similarities between Yoga and Ayurveda:

  • Life sciences: both use practices with repeatable outcomes to the human body, mind, and spirit.
  • Acknowledges humans are part of Nature.
  • Humans, as part of nature, are all connected and are endowed with life through a force and source of energy called Prana.
  • Wisdom designed to help people stay vital while realizing their full human potential.
  • Providing guidelines on ideal daily practices, behaviors, exercises, proper use of the senses, that can heal, reduce suffering, and bring balance to body, mind, and spirit.
  • Health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind, and spirit.
  • Mantra, or sound, are used to balance the mind.
  • When the whole body is balanced (body and mind), we become more at peace with ourselves (spirit) and the world around us.  From this state of internal well-being, you will naturally begin to make wiser choices for your livelihood.
  • There are four main goals of every human’s life: Dharma (purpose, duty), Artha (wealth, prosperity), Kama (desires) and Moksha (liberation).

The Differences:

  • Ayurveda provides guidelines on an ideal diet per individual constitution and health conditions.  Yoga has general sweeping recommendations based on the principle observances (eight limbs) of yoga.
  • Ayurveda uses specific asana (postures) as therapy for illness and dis-ease, called yoga chikitsa.  Yoga sadhana, uses asana to redirect energy in our bodies for spiritual awakening or self-realization.  
  • Ayurveda outlines a variety of aromatherapy, gem therapy and herbal remedies for illness and dis-ease.  Yoga does not.
  • Ayurveda is a complete system of medicine (refer to What is Ayurveda? blog).  Yoga is a path of spiritual awakening.

In short, Ayurveda provides us daily, seasonal and age-specific guidelines on how to best live in accordance to our Nature, or constitution.  Ayurveda’s main focus is balancing the physical body and mind.  Yoga’s main focus is on balancing the mind and expanding the mind to discover deeper truths about one’s self and connection to everything.  When practiced together, they create a whole system of life science medicine which is practical for anyone, at any stage of health or life.

Examples of conditions transformed through the integration of Yoga and Ayurveda: Emotional conditions, chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, irritable bowel syndrome, acid-reflux disorder/GERD, headaches, migraine headaches, menstrual problems or irregularities, low energy, stress, hypertension, anger, anxiety, neuropathy, lifestyle diseases (diabetes type II, hypertension, obesity), dis-empowering life patterns and habits, underweight, joint pain, post-surgery care, poor concentration and depression.

Benefits of Yoga and Ayurveda:

  • Deep Relaxation
  • Reduced stress & tension
  • Increased self-esteem & confidence
  • Better coordination
  • Weight loss
  • Flexibility
  • Stronger bones and toned muscles
  • Overcoming limiting patterns in your life
  • Breaking habits that do not serve you in your Highest
  • Inner-Peace
  • Balance to your overall Life Knowing your inner Self more intimately
  • Becoming more connected with Nature and its cycles
  • Deeper understanding and living your Dharma (life’s purpose…again, an individual discovery only YOU can uncover)
  • Deeper understanding and integration of the four human goals: Dharma (purpose, duty), Artha (wealth, prosperity), Kama (desires) and Moksha (liberation).

*The first written records of Ayurveda and Yoga date back to 3,000 BCE

References

Frawley, David.  Yoga & Ayurveda, Self-Healing and Self-Realization. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press, 1999. Print.

Frawley, David.  Ayurveda and the Mind, The Healing of Consciousness.  Twin Lakes: Lotus Press, 1996.  Print.

Note: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This is a reference work.  It is not meant for diagnosis or treatment and it is not substitute for consultation with a licensed health care professional.

What does it mean to be “Healthy”?

These days, “yoga” is a household term in the United States, while the term Ayurveda is still unknown.  Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, is also Sanskrit and means Science or Wisdom of Life.  It is the oldest and most complete holistic mind-body medicine still practiced on this planet.  The ancient texts and complete medical books of Ayurveda are over 5,000 years old!  Yes, even Chinese Medicine has its roots in Ayurveda.  Ayurveda and yoga are two of many ancient wisdom traditions that have laid the successful path of self discovery, awareness and transformation.   Together they are a complementary medical system that helps us to understand ourselves from all levels of existence: physical, emotional, mental, higher/spiritual self and Soul Self.  The image above is a visual guideline of this roadmap showing the interconnectedness between self and others and how your personal health and wellbeing can affect others.

Ayurveda gives us guidance and blue prints of what it means to be a Whole Being.  It is the same map that helps one to understand what it means to be healthy.  This road-map to wholeness and wellbeing is called “Swasthavritta” or the science of being established in one’s self.  Ayurveda acknowledges each person as an unique individual with different needs AND at the same time is part of a massive whole (like the image above).  Ayurveda celebrates the connection of physical, sensory, mental, spiritual AND social wellbeing!  Yes, you heard me right, SOCIAL wellbeing!  Recognizing that individual health is just the starting point and social health is a direct reflection of healthy people coming together in union, or yoga.

You might be asking yourself, “Established in one’s self?  Don’t I live with myself each day?”

True, however, are you at peace and acceptance with yourself each day?  Do you make mindful choices and decisions about food, beverage, recreation, medicine, work and relationships that support your Whole Being and, thus, your family and community’s wellbeing?  Do you know Who you are at the core of your being?  I truly believe that each person on this planet is here to understand this question and to discover it for him or herself.  According to Ayurveda, to be healthy means to have awareness and make choices that support and nurture your Whole Being—body, mind and spirit.

The concept of being established in one’s self as part of a medical system truly paves a way for a global paradigm shift in what it means to be healthy.  Healthy is not just being pain or disease free.  It’s more than that.  Healthy is swasthavritta, being established in one’s self.  Healthy is recognizing that each decision you make affects the whole, including your family and society’s wellbeing.  This ancient wisdom has many keys that can help unlock our current medical structure and evolve medicine to new horizons where people come first, not their disease.

I invite you to take a deeper look at the visual map of whole being, or well-being, above.  May you find many “aha!” moments, healing moments and inner-smiles as you begin to contemplate swasthavritta and your own life.

Aloha & Namaste.

What is Ayurveda?

Airuuveeda? huh?

Let’s start at the beginning.   Say it with  me. “Eye-ru” “Vay-duh”…”eye-ru-vay-duh.”

Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word.   Ayur = Life, longevity   Veda = Science, Wisdom or The Way.  Therefore, Ayurveda is the science of life or science of longevity.  It is a traditional form of medicine still practiced by medical professionals, researched, and taught world-wide as a holistic whole-person medicine.  In India, it is an inseparable part of the culture and daily living.  In the west, it is hardly known.

Today, the word and practice of yoga is more well known.  In fact, in Southern California where I currently live, yoga has become one of the hottest commodities and businesses.  Ayurveda, on the other hand, is still relatively unknown.  Traditionally, the practices of Ayurveda and Yoga were inseparable.  Inseparable because Ayurveda is considered to be Yoga’s sister-science.  They are complementary systems that address the whole person, body, mind, and spirit towards wise living or how to live a long and healthy life.  The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda informs us of daily health and wellness practices that, like yoga, also relieves the mind and body from attachments, unhealthy desires, habits, stagnation or poor health.

Ayurveda honors you as a whole, unique person (body, mind, and spirit) who is deeply connected to nature.  Nature expresses itself slightly differently in each person, thereby creating diversity and individuality of physique, personality and even how you respond to stress.  By determining your particular “constitution,” or prakriti, a well-trained practitioner of Ayurveda can offer specific lifestyle solutions (exercise, yoga poses, stretches, activities, daily routines), dietary recommendations, herbal remedies, breathing exercises, aromatherapy, and mantras (or sacred sounds).  In the past, and in most parts of India that I traveled to in 2007, Ayurveda and Yoga are practiced together.  They are practiced together to help bring the whole-body into health, balance and inner peace by reducing suffering, pain and relieving physical and energetic stagnation.  Traditionally, a person would spend years practicing and living a lifestyle as prescribed by a Doctor of Ayurvedic before he/she would begin their path of yoga.

One of the most fascinating things I learned during my formal studies of Ayurveda through the Kerala Ayurveda Academy was how detailed, developed and in-depth Ayurveda medicine is in its original form.  While most Ayurveda guidelines, as practiced in the United States, are day-to-day activities and individual lifestyle recommendations, Ayurveda is a whole and complete medical system developed in what is now India by the most enlightened physicians and surgeons.  In its entirety, Ayurveda has eight departments of medicine including:  Internal Medicine, Surgery, Ear, Nose, Eyes and Throat Diseases, Pediatrics, Toxicology, Psychiatry, Science of Rejuvenation and Science of Aphrodisiacs (fertility).  Did you know the first records of plastic surgery, particularly rhinoplasty, come from ancient Ayurveda medical texts dating back to 600 B.C.E.?  Rhinoplasty was used to reconstruct noses damaged in battle.

Like I mentioned earlier, despite its age, Ayurveda is practiced around the world today.  In the United States, Ayurveda is not a licensed practice (at least not yet), so most trained practitioners use Ayurveda in combination with other licenses such as Physical Therapy, Western Biomedicine, Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Chiropractic Medicine or Massage Therapy.  A few trained in Ayurveda use their certification to start a small business as a health coach or in combination with teaching yoga.  For me, I use Ayurveda with all my clients in-person and online.  Personally, Ayurveda has become a part of our family’s daily and seasonal routines.

Who is Ayurveda for?  Individuals and families who appreciate being acknowledged as a whole person (not their disease) should consider Ayurveda.  It offers natural ways of treating dis-ease and focuses on promoting health by helping you determine foods, drinks, exercises and other lifestyle solutions that will help you at the root-level of health and well-being.  More importantly for modern times, it is complementary to most western medical treatments.  Herbal remedies should be carefully analyzed for potentially dangerous drug-herb interactions by a qualified licensed healthcare provider.  Because Ayurveda focuses on empowering you to take responsibility for your own well-being, most people find after they integrate individual recommendations they begin to have fewer health issues overall and have more energy for the parts of life they enjoy.

Others who might benefit from Ayurveda include:

  • Parents of children who have chronic health conditions
  • Individuals with chronic health conditions that are not improving under other medical care
  • Individuals who understand the importance of PREVENTION
  • Yoga instructors and other holistic healthcare practitioners

If you have any questions about Ayurveda, please contact me.   I love geeking out with others who have studied Ayurveda and love sharing Ayurveda with others who want to learn more.

 

References:

Textbook of Ayurvedic Medicine. Published by Kerala Ayurveda Academy.  2009.

Frawley, David.  Yoga & Ayurveda, Self-Healing and Self-Realization. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press, 1999. Print.

Svoboda, Robert E. Prakruti, Your Ayurvedic Constitution.  Albuquerque: Geocom Limited, 1989.  Print.

Tiwari, Maya.  Ayurveda, A Life of Balance.  Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 1995.  Print.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This is a reference work.  It is not meant for diagnosis or treatment and it is not substitute for consultation with a licensed health care professional.