Kapha Balancing Regimens

Happy Spring Equinox!

Spring is here and that means new growth both inwardly and outwardly. Hibernated energy begins to fill our body cells as we have the urge to spring clean, plant new seeds, and bring nourishment and life to the surface. The beautiful colors of nature are beginning to brighten our day and the warmth of the sun is melting away the cold. Ayurveda reminds us to create a connection with nature and to live harmoniously with her. Kapha season is here through May, which brings us the qualities of the earth and water elements. Naturally, we are stronger, well-nourished, feel a greater sense of love and the watery emotions and deep feelings fill our thoughts and hearts. We are more fertile and are able to give more.  The days are longer and this is a great time of year to cleanse the spaces we occupy as well as our bodies.

The Kapha Dosha

Kapha, which means “phlegm” is governed by two elements, earth and water and holds the the qualities (guna) of: moist, cold, heavy, dull, sticky, dense, static, smooth, and soft.  Kapha gives us nourishment, stability, support, lubrication and makes up the bulk of our bodily tissues. It is located in the chest, throat, head, stomach, lymph, fat, nose and tongue. Kapha gives us emotional support and governs the watery emotions such as compassion, love, deep feelings, modesty, forgiveness and patience.

Ojas, is the subtle essence of our life force, our immune system and is the purest form of the Kapha Dosha. The Charaka Samhita describes ojas as “that which keeps all the living beings refreshed.”

As we become imbalanced during the Kapha season we may see symptoms such as loss of appetite, congestion, allergies, weight gain, water retention, lethargy, depression and attachment. As we learn to live harmoniously with the seasons of change, it is important to understand that like increases like and that opposites cure each other. So, how do we live harmoniously with the Kapha season?

Spring: Heavy, oily, cloudy, stable, slow           Opposite: Light, dry, clear, mobile, sharp

DIET:

Kapha should only eat when hungry and take in a lighter breakfast and dinner. Drinking digestive teas such as ginger, tulsi, warm lemon water, or CCF tea will be beneficial for supporting digestion.

Kapha is balanced by foods that have the opposite qualities; hot, dry and light as well as pungent, bitter and astringent tastes (rasa). This will stoke or raise the agni, digestive fire and will support natural cleansing.

Foods to favor should be those that are well spiced and pungent such as black pepper, mustard seeds, fenugreek, cloves, anise, ginger, lemon and turmeric. Grains that are drier are beneficial such as rye, corn, buckwheat and my personal favorites, quinoa and barley! Astringent tastes can be easily found in apples, pears, berries and dried fruits such as cherries, raisins and prunes. Lean proteins are important and hold the astringent taste as well such as beans and lentils. Vegetables that are bitter such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, dandelion greens, chard, spinach, kale, arugula, asparagus, and collard greens should be the main serving on the plate.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes:

Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa         Stewed Spiced Fruits           Sunflower Kale Salad          Tridoshic Dal      Spicy Bean, Barley & Veggie Soup

Foods to avoid are those that are heavy, moist and cold. This would include all dairy, ice-cream, milk, creamer, etc. Sweet and heavy fruits such as melon, bananas, papaya, dates and figs. All sweeteners, except raw honey should be avoided as well as heavy grains such as wheat, dense pastries, etc. Fatty meats should be avoided as well as peanuts, and an excessive amount of salt.

MOVEMENT:

Daily exercise is important for the Kapha dosha, preferably first thing upon risinkapha 2g, during the kapha time of day (6am-10am) which will help keep you more energized and motivated during the day. Exercising outdoors where you can create a connection to the elements that are most comforting is beneficial. Exercise should promote sweating such as a brisk run/walk or sun salutations. If practicing yoga, the poses should be held for one minute longer than you think you can, Kapha’s need to be challenged.  Incorporating weekly saunas can be an added benefit to induce sweating. To prevent feeling heavy and sleepy after meals, excess weight gain and to stimulate the digestive fire, agni,walk after your meals! This could be a simple walk around your office building after lunch or a walk around the block after dinner.

DAILY ROUTINES & AROMAS:

Practice neti, nasal irrigation, daily upon rising to support excess mucous and congestion.

Once the nasal passages have been cleared, a daily practice of pranayama is beneficial for increasing natural energy, it purifies, rejuvenates and invigorates the mind and body. It will help to reduce allergies, congestion, headaches and sluggishness as well as release negative emotions. There are many different types of pranayama techniques. The most beneficial for kapha is Kapalahbhati or “skull-shining breath”. Kapala, which translates to “Skull,” and Bhati, which means “light.” Kapalahbati consists of a series of forceful exhalations followed by passive inhalations. This is best if practiced in the morning.

  1. Sit comfortably in an upright posture with your spine straight, with your heart and chest open. Rest your hands on your abdomen or on your knees, palms facing down. If sitting in a chair, place both feet on the ground.
  2. Take a few deep inhalations and exhalations to connect with your breath and bring your awareness to your lower abdomen.
  3. Inhale deeply through both nostrils, filling your belly with air about ¾ way full.
  4. In a quick motion, contract your lower abdomen,or use your hand to gently press or force and expel all the air from your lungs while drawing your navel in toward your spine. The primary movement is from your diaphragm.
  5. Perform this cycle 10 times, then allow your breathing to return to normal and observe the sensations in your body.
  6. Repeat these cycles of 10 movements, 3 to 4 times.

Contraindication: Do not practice Kapalabhati if you are pregnant, if you have excess pitta dosha, have high blood pressure, acid digestive issues, heart disease, or abdominal pain. You should also stop or slow down if you feel dizzy, light-headed or anxious.

Abhyanga or dry brushing will support lymphatic movement, circulation and will invigorate the body. Light oils should be used such as almond or sunflower and only practiced a few times a week. Aromas that are stimulating and energizing such as lemon, bergamot, cinnamon, patchouli, eucalyptus, and ginger are useful in your abhyanga oil or to simply diffuse throughout your home or office space if sluggishness arises.

Although sleep is important for healing and to rejuvenate the body, those that are predominately kapha should wake up with the sun, avoid napping during the day and snoozing in the morning.

Lastly, lighten your space. One of the ways to keep kapha from accumulating is reducing the amount of clutter in your closets, drawers, pantries and the spaces you work and live in. In fact, this can support a healthy weight! The more you have, the heavier you’ll feel mentally and physically. So, lighten your spaces, less is more!

I hope these will bring keep you light and lifted this spring season! Schedule a spring follow-up visit to keep you balanced and motivated!

 

How to Practice & Benefits of Self Massage ~ Abhyanga!

Ayurveda enriches our lives with its natural health benefits and numerous practices of self-care and self-LOVE. To care for yourself by cooking, meditating, keeping a clean home, and exercising is an act of self-love that takes time and effort. The time you take to care for yourself will keep you from prescription drugs, visits to the ER and many health challenges.

One of the most rewarding Sadhana practices Ayurveda has to offer is Abhyanga!

What is Self Abhyanga?

The word for “oiling the body” in Sanskrit, is Snehana, which means “TO LOVE”. Self Abhyanga is a warm herbal oil massage that has amazing benefits:self-massage

  • brings nourishment to the tissues
  • deep relaxation to the muscles
  • calms the nervous system
  • reduces anxiety, anger, and depression
  • promotes a restful sleep
  • increases circulation and reduces cellulite
  • helpful for managing weight
  • moves toxins to the digestive tract for elimination
  • opens chakras or energy channels that are blocked
  • decreases common skin irritates such eczema, psoriasis, dry, flaky, itchy, hot, oily skin. 

What type of herbal oil should I use?

I recommend using a herbal infused oil that is customized for your body type or season that will create the desired action. I sell customized oils, so stop by our clinic and pick up an 8oz bottle.

During the vata season (Late Fall and Winter) use sesame oil which is warmer. During the kapha season (Spring) I recommend using a lighter oil such sunflower. And, during the pitta season (Summer) coconut or sunflower oil is nice. Add essential oils to bring in beneficial aromas that lift your spirit!  

What do I need to do a Self Abhyanga?

  • Personalized oil
  • Pot or warmer to warm oil
  • Dedicated clothing and towel
  • An open heart and awareness
  • Devotional music 

How do I perform a Self Abhyanga?

  • Warm your oil using a small crock pot or pot/stove. You can also place your oil in a sink of hot water.
  • Massage oil in fast vigorous motions over long bones, circular motions over joints, in an upward and down motion on abdomen, and inward/outward motion over breasts.

Kapha: Start from the feet and move upward (*less oil is needed)

Pitta: All motions to the heart and center of the body

Vata: All motions from head downward

  • Try to do your Abhyanga before yoga and meditation in the morning and allow the oil to stay on your body as long as possible.  

* Enjoy this time with your Self!

* Embrace positive thinking while performing your Abhyanga!

* Repeat positive affirmation!

* Smile and love your Self up!

* Embrace the existence of Mother Earth and the Divine within you!

10 Reasons To Go On A Yoga Retreat

I went on my first yoga retreat this past April and it was truly a gift from Divine Mother. I knew immediately that I wanted others in my community to experience this opportunity to let go of old habits, to … Continue reading

Vata Balancing Regimens

This season Mother Nature has shown us what a huge impact she can have on our vikruti (current state of balance). Before the weather dropped to the 30’s, I remember walking down Hood St. toward Cedar Springs Rd. to start my day seeing clients and as I was taking in the colors of the Fall, I was awestricken by a long train of wind carrying leaves. It was beautiful and swift. Right then, I said to myself, “Vata is here and she is going to bring about rapid change”. Sure enough, a few days later the weather turned from the high 60’s to mid 30’s, then to the high 70’s and now low 50’s. This is vata at her best – change and inconsistency!

The magnificent science of Ayurveda proves itself with each seasonal shift. Living an Ayurvedic lifestyle means living with Mother Nature, attuning yourself inwardly to her beauty both destructive and life-giving. The vata dosha is imaginative, on-the-go, and has an active mind. It is also dry, light and cold. Vata moves like the wind and changes direction often. When those with a vata nature lack a consistent schedule it disturbs the body’s internal energy, prana. This leads to anxiety, nervousness, feelings of overwhelm, insomnia, constipation, dry stools, bloating, gas, and dry skin. Vata does best when stable, regular routines help to channel and focus their  large, natural amount of energy, prana. With structure vata’s are able to accomplish a great deal within a very short period of time and can be more productive than any other doshic type.

DIET:

In Ayurveda, seasonal eating is primarily beneficial for prevention. A vata pacifying diet is best during the early Fall which will prevent vata from becoming aggravated in the Winter. If vata is aggravated in the winter, a vata-pacifying food program may prevent overflow or minimize symptoms.

Vata is balanced by foods that have a sweet, sour and salty rasa (taste). Foods should be heavier and nourishing and moderately spiced. This is the season for spices and all spices are good for vata as long as not taken in excess – ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, fenugreek, etc. Food and drinks should be taken in warm, never ice cold, raw or uncooked as this will support a strong agni – digestive fire. For those with more vata in their prakruti/constitution, they do best when they eat more frequently, 5 times a day. Food should be taken in small amounts as to not dampen the agni. Meals should be taken at the same time each day.

Here are some of my favorite winter recipes: Fall Veggie + Quinoa Soup, Winter Chai Tea, Warm Spiced Milk, Stewed Spiced Fruits, Warm Spiced Quinoa Cereal

YOGA:

Yoga should be practiced in a warm environment with slow and calming asanas with a connection and awareness to the earth. Keeping vata grounded to prevent excess mobility is essential. For example, tree pose (Vrksasana) and mountain pose (Tadasana) root your feet into the ground, reducing anxiety and overwhelm. Warrior I and II are also beneficial, helping to ground you while building strength in the thighs, lower back and hips which are main regions of the vata dosha. Since vata is prone to constipation, standing or sitting forward bends that compress the pelvis are healing. 

Fast-paced vinyasas or flow sequences can aggravate vata. Slow movement supports the joints while quick movements increase mobility, creating dryness. To make a vinyasa more vata-pacifying, move deliberately and slowly, extending the length of time that you hold each pose. Moving through transitions between poses, with conscious awareness rather than rushing on to the next pose will help you to remain present.

Finally, vata types benefit from doing a long, deep corpse pose or shavasana – at least 15–20 minutes. Keep a blanket nearby so that after your practice, you can cover the body allowing you to contain the heat from your practice.

SLEEP:

One of the most common signs of a vata imbalance is difficulty falling or staying asleep. To much creative energy, anxiety or worry is surging through the mind and the body becomes restless. Rest is rejuvenating and has heavy and stable qualities that help to balance the light and mobile tendencies of vata. It is important to go to bed and wake up at or about the same time every day. A general rule is that we are in bed by 10:00pm and wake with the sun, sunrise! Establishing proper bedtime routines can be life saving! Avoid t.v., computer, phone, or any stimulating activities an hour prior to bed. Instead, spend the last hour before getting into bed doing one or more of the following: do a warm herbal massage, take a warm bath, meditate, curl up in bed with a warm cup of chamomile tea and a book.

AROMAS:

Vatas do best with oils that are warming and calming, think sweet and spicy! The sweeter the oil the more nourishing and the spicier, the more warming. Blending oils can help you get both qualities vata needs. Sweet oils: sandalwood, jasmine, chamomile, or lavender mixed with Spicy Oils: cinnamon, rosemary, patchouli, or basil can be beneficial. You can put these into a diffuser to create an aromatic environment in your home or room. You can make a room spritzer by adding a few drops of each a spicy and sweet oil to a spray bottle of distilled water. You can add oils to your bath water to get that nice relaxing and warm sensation while bathing.

TOUCH:

Studies show that the sense of touch can bring just as much healing as the food we take into our bodies. A lead researcher, Dr. Tiffany Field from the University of Miami School of Medicine, states that, “touch is the first sense to develop and the last to fade even after sight, hearing, smell and taste have faded with age”.

Benefits of touch:

  • reduces aggression
  • stimulates growth and development in children
  • improves sleep and alertness
  • reduces pain, depression and stress by reducing cortisol levels, a hormone that rises when we are under stress.
  • increases dopamine and serotonin, two brain chemicals that improve mental outlook
  • improves the immune system and increases T-cells that fight cancer and viruses

Ayurveda massage with herbal, warm oils, is called “snehana” which means, “to love”. The daily application of oil to the body builds self-love. Abhyanga (ayurveda massage) daily can be life changing for those with a vata imbalance. The primary qualities of Vata are dry, light, cool, rough, subtle and mobile. These qualities are opposite to those of the warmed, herbal oil. The great teacher Sushruta said, “The deranged vayu [Vata] of the body is restored to its normal condition by the help of Udvartana (oil massage).” Sushruta Vol.2, 24:28.

It is important to consider the type of oil you choose for massage. Vata benefits from warm, heavy, moist oils such as sesame and almond.

Vata Pacifying Abhyanga:

  • It is best to do the abhyanga in a warm place to avoid getting cold. I like to turn the heater on in the bathroom or place a space heater in the room.
  • The oils should be warmed (not hot) prior to application. You can do this by putting a cup of the oil into a squeeze bottle and place it in a warm water bath in a pan on the stove or in the bathroom sink filled with hot water.
  • Sit or stand on a dedicated “oil towel”, an old towel or bath mat that you don’t mind getting a little oily. I like using a bath mat and then I just roll it up after each use.
  • Without being in a hurry, lovingly and patiently massage the oil over your entire body for 10-15 minutes,
    beginning at the extremities and working toward the center of the body. Use long strokes on the
    limbs (long bones) and circular strokes on the joints. Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise,
    circular motions. In the morning, I like to do more fast vigorous motions to stimulate lymph and circulation and in the evening I do it more slowly to promote relaxation.
  • To apply the oil to the crown of your head, put about a quarter size amount of oil into your hand and using the pads of your fingers massage your entire scalp in circular strokes. Sometimes I do a “hair oil bath” about once per month where I drench my hair in the oil and leave it over night in a towel – great for beautiful, shiny, strong hair!
  • Lastly, put a couple drops of warm oil on the tip of your little finger and apply to the opening of the ear canals and to the opening and inside of the nasal passage.

Hope these recommendations bring you warmth and grounding energy this season!

Namaste,
Christina

10 Ayurveda Routines in 10 Days!

One of the reasons I fell in love with Ayurveda was because of its simplicity. Hence, I named my practice, SimpleVeda. The word Veda means knowledge or science – this Simple Knowledge makes sense for even the most common individual. Ayurveda is a way of living in harmony with Mother Nature and thrives on prevention of dis-ease.

Living an Ayurvedic lifestyle isn’t only about eating foods that are right for your body type but it also consists of implementing simple Daily Routines – Dinacharya, that are appropriate for your body type.

Ayurveda reminds us what our ancestors did without thinking, naturally – to follow theimages222Z36RB rhythms of nature. When the sun goes down, time to go to bed, when the sun rises, time to get up! Seems pretty simple, right? Wrong! With the modern age of electricity, ipads, phones, microwaves, television, and fast food restaurants open 24 hrs a day, we’ve completely lost touch with our true nature as Spirit.

Within the body there is a natural rhythm that governs our natural urges. Our natural urges are food, sex, and sleep. In Ayurveda, these are referred to as the three pillars of life. They can also be seen as digestion, creativity, and rest. While we all have unique rhythms based on our unique body types, our basic rhythms need to be in harmony with nature for our more subtle (mental, emotional, spiritual) rhythms to manifest.  The first step toward getting back in touch with these rhythms is to create a routine!

Through daily dinacharya (routines), we can begin to bring balance to the doshas (vata, pitta, kapha) and re-create a life of balance, health and happiness.

For many, Ayurveda can be overwhelming at first. Start SIMPLE by beginning with ONE dinacharya from the list below, adding a new one each morning or day. By the end of 10 days, routine will settle in. Remember, Ayurveda encourages a lifestyle that is unique for you. While these practices are generic, choose what feels good for you or talk to an Ayurvedic Practitioner for personalized guidance.

10 Daily Routines in 10 Days!

  1. Rise with the sun (or as close to the sunrise as possible) to allow the body to harmonize with the rhythms of the sun. Sunrise varies according to the seasons, rising earlier in the summer and later in winter. In general, the Vata dosha should wake around 6 AM, the Pitta dosha around 5:30 AM, and Kapha around 4:30 AM.
  2. Scrape your tongue each morning with a copper tongue scrapper. These can be purchased at our  office or on Amazon. Begin at the back of the tongue and move to the front, scraping 3-5 times to stimulate the digestive fire, agni and aid in the removal of toxins (ama).
  3. Oil Pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that dates back to over 5,000 years. The term ‘oil pulling’ refers to the way you move the oil  around in your mouth by pulling, pushing and sucking it through your teeth. This supports killing bacteria. I personally love to use coconut oil with a drop of peppermint essential oil. Sesame oil is a good option too.
  4. Neti/Nasya. The nose is the pathway into the mind, sinuses, and lungs. When Neti,images64R9980Q or nasal irrigation followed by the use of nasya oil is performed, it enhances mental clarity, cleanses the sinuses and respiratory,  prevents dryness, protects against pollens, pollutants and pathogens and maximizes the absorption of Prana, life force energy.  If you suffer from allergies this is life changing! Start by practicing 1-3x a week. Use a neti pot with slightly salty, warm distilled water (should be as salty as your tears; ½ tsp salt per ½ cup water), followed by nasya – place a drop of herbal (can be purchased at our office) or plain sesame oil in each nostril with the tip of the little finger. self-massage
  5. Abhyanga. The word for “oiling the body” in Sanskrit, is Snehana, which means “TO LOVE”. Self Abhyanga is a warm herbal oil massage that has amazing benefits if practiced 3-5 times a week! Read my blog post on the benefits and how to practice this ancient therapy!
  6. Drink a glass of warm water upon rising. This cleans the digestive tract, encourages a morning bowel movement and stimulates agni, our digestive fire or metabolism. If the bowels don’t evacuate naturally at first, don’t worry, the warm water and tongue scraping will eventually send you into this rhythm.
  7. Yoga/Exercise. If you don’t already have a regular routine around exercise, keep it simple. Begin with 5 rounds of sun-salutations or light stretching. If the weather is nice spend time in nature by taking a short but brisk 20-30 minute walk in your neighborhood. Being in nature also provides better immunity, ojas.untitled
  8. Meditate. A few minutes of quiet time after movement is beneficial for reducing stress, anxiety, depression and anger. It’s a time to listen quietly, read or journal. You could also use an app like Headspace for a guided practice. Eventually, try a self-guided meditation by following the flow of your breath, inhale and exhale. Then, begin coordinating  your breath with a mantra, inhale – ‘joy’, exhale – ‘love’. This will support the mind from drifting off. An Ayurvedic practitioner or meditation teacher can support you to deepen your practice.
  9. Eat your breakfast (never skip breakfast; even the name suggests that it’s the ‘the break of the fast’ and therefore very important). Eat lunch, which should be the most substantial meal of the day, between 12-2PM. Eat dinner before the sun goes down, which is later in the summer and earlier in winter. In general by 7PM is a good habit. Short walks after your meals are beneficial.
  10. Go to bed between 9:30-10:00 PM to insure adequate rest. Avoid stimulating activities right before bed such as watching TV, using your phone, etc. Curl up in bed with a warm cup off chamomile tea and allow your body to rest easily and effortlessly.

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