Now is a great time to consider doing a simple Ayurvedic Cleanse, one of the best ways to protect your health and your wellbeing for the coming months and beyond.
An Ayurvedic cleanse supports the elimination of toxins from the body, increases energy and vitality, supports healthy weight management, relaxes the nervous system and calms the mind, helps to reestablish one’s natural state of balance, and promotes optimal health and wellbeing.
When gentle spring breezes start to blow, it’s time for spring cleaning — not only for your house but for your body too. Toxins tend to accumulate all year round, due to improper digestion and high levels of stress. Not to mention the chemicals in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods we eat. According to Ayurveda, toxic build-up can eventually manifest as a health disorder. And as we grow older, the body’s mechanisms for eliminating impurities tend to be less efficient, making it even more important to cleanse regularly.
This is especially important in the months of March and April. Why? When warmer spring temperatures melt the snow, impurities within your body also start to liquefy, flooding the microcirculatory channels that carry nutrients to the cells and waste away from the cells. When these essential channels get clogged, it can leave you feeling tired, sluggish, and toxic. A spring detox may be just what you need to feel fresh and energetic again.
The type of cleanse that I favor both for myself and my clients, which I recommend strongly, involves three phases: preparation, active cleansing and reintroduction. This structure helps to ease the body both in and out of it and takes up to nine days. The diet consists primarily of kitcheri and vegetables and is supported by detoxifying herbs. During the first phase of the process ghee is part of the diet in order to help pull fat-soluble toxins out of the cells. The whole process is done with ease, even if you are working, and can also be complemented by practices like self-massage with oil, as well as gentle sweating through exercises to help release imbalances held in the tissues in order to get optimal results.
Doing a cleanse gives the physiology a chance to detox, repair, and rejuvenate the tissues while rekindling the digestive fire throughout the body. There are many options when it comes to cleansing. The good news is I can help you with a complete plan for cleansing at home. Join my upcoming training AYURVEDA: FROM THEORY TO DAILY PRACTICE WITH NATHALIE KEILLER APR 17 – 21 as the Ayurvedic cleanse is an important part of it, or simply contact me for a personal consultation and I will customize the process for you and guide you through it.
This winter in British Colombia resembles more like the rest of Canada. It is colder and dryer than usual, hence the importance of keeping yourself warm in order to enjoy it fully. Winter is actually the season when the digestive fire is strongest. The body requires more fuel to stay warm and healthy in the winter months, and the cold weather forces the fire principle deep into the core of the body—igniting the digestive capacity. Our bodies therefore crave a more substantial, nutritive diet at this time of year, and you will likely find yourself needing larger quantities of food.
In general, you’ll want to focus on eating warm, cooked, unctuous, slightly oily, and well spiced foods. Drink room temperature, warm, or hot beverages and avoid smoothies, or chilled drinks. You can increase heat and circulation while encouraging clean and clear respiratory passages (in case of flu or nasal congestion) by drinking a tea boiled for five minutes with ½ teaspoon each ginger root, cinnamon, and clove. Also, teas made with combinations of coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds encourage strong digestion and can be taken after meals. Hearty, heating vegetables like radishes, cooked spinach, onions, carrots, and other root vegetables are generally well received this time of year, as are hot spices like garlic, ginger, and black pepper. Cooked grains like oatmeal, barley, brown rice, or kitcheri make a perfect winter breakfast, and lunches and dinners of steamed vegetables, whole wheat breads, and mushy soups and stews are ideal. Legumes should be well cooked, well spiced, and garnished with a dollop of ghee so as not to aggravate vata. If you eat them, winter is also a great time to enjoy eggs (especially poached or hard-boiled) and meats like chicken, turkey, rabbit, and venison. And while dairy is best reduced in the winter months, a cup of warm/hot, spiced milk with a pinch of turmeric, nutmeg, and cardamom before bed can help to encourage sound sleep.
This article is an excerpt from the chapter on “Food as therapy, and improving your digestive fire (agni)” in my Ayurvedic Training: From Theory to Daily Practice. Visit this page for more info and to register to this course from April 17th to 21st 2017.
Here’s my favorite oatmeal recipe to start the day making Vata dosha happy.
Use organic steel cut oats for a nuttier taste; salt, ghee (optional), fruits, nuts and spices.
For 2 persons use 2/3 cup of oats for 2 cups of water
Boil the water, then add a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of ghee, and the oats. Add dried fruits: mangoes, raisins, apricots or figs to the mix and slow cook for 25 minutes. Do some yoga or meditate while it cooks.
*If you use fresh fruits (berries or other precooked fruits) add them after.
Just before serving add some almonds, coconut, sunflower seeds (or your favorite nuts), as well as cinnamon and cardamom to taste, and 1/8 of a teaspoon of turmeric powder.
Bon appétit and have a beautiful day!
In Ayurveda, the subtle forms of Vata, Pitta and Kapha have their corresponding subtle forms in the body and they influence our minds.
If you’re curious about Ayurveda you’ve probably heard that Vata, Pitta and Kapha are the three main doshas, or humors, in the body. The doshas are dynamic energies; they constantly change, like our moods, in response to our emotions, thoughts, actions, the food we eat, the seasons we’re in and other sensory inputs that feed our mind and body. Respectively, Prana, Tejas and Ojas are the more subtle forms of these three doshas, which have an influence in the mind. Similarly, the same things that disturb the doshas can also disturb these mental forms. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Prana is the mental form of Vata, our life force and the breath of life. It is the flow of intelligence at a cellular level, the communication between each cell that holds our organism together. Prana gives us inspiration and positivity; the will to live, grow and heal ourselves, and connects us with our inner self. When Prana is still, we experience pure blissful awareness.
For the body and mind to be in balance, we need just the right amount of Prana.
When there is too much Prana flowing in the body, one may suffer loss of mental control, and sensory and motor coordination; it may predispose us to learning and behavioral problems such as ADHD; as well as feeling ungrounded, stressed and alienated, affecting our sense of identity. When there is too little Prana, we may suffer lack of mental energy, enthusiasm and curiosity, and may feel that our receptivity and creativity are inhibited. Restricted Prana makes our mind and senses dull and heavy, there is lack of motivation, and attitudes that can become conservative and rigid.
Tejas is the mental form of Pitta, the fire of the mind. At the level of the cell it is cellular intelligence. It promotes intelligence, reason, passion to learn, focus, self-discipline, perception and mental clarity. When there is too much Tejas in the mind, we become overly critical and discriminating; we experience doubt, anger, irritability and enmity. One can be hard to please and prone to temper tantrums. When there is too little Tejas, it causes inability to enquire or discern, accepting things uncritically and losing the power to learn from experience. It can also cause us to be passive and impressionable, overly influenced by others; we may lack purpose and lose direction.
Ojas is the mental form of Kapha: the essential vital fluid of the body in subtle form in the mind. It promotes mental strength, stability, endurance, patience, calmness, good memory and sustained concentration, happiness, contentment and bliss. It connects our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being and is essentially our peace of mind. It is regenerated through meditation. Too little Ojas makes us fearful, weak, worry; we may suffer lack of confidence, difficulty concentrating, as well as poor memory. Nervous exhaustion can develop. Too much Ojas can cause heaviness and dullness in the mind; complacency and unwillingness to change or grow. High Ojas is much less a problem than excess Prana or Tejas, which are the main factors in mental disorders.
Prana, Tejas and Ojas control Vata, Pitta and Kapha in the body.
On the negative side, the use of drugs, whether they are medicinal or recreational, is a factor that causes imbalances of Prana, Tejas and Ojas. Excess exposure to mass-media, televisions or computers, overly strong sensations, and overly bright colors, loud noise, and stress can reduce these subtle qualities. Excess or pretended emotions also affect the balance of these three subtle forms.
On the positive side, factors that balance them include meditation, prayer, self-study, deep sleep and relaxation. Aromatherapy, the right use of colors, aromas, and gems are other strategies that Ayurveda uses to heal at the subtle levels. Pranayama (breathing exercises) is another great practise, but excess breathing can also aggravate Prana. The best way to balance Prana is by spending time in nature and commune with virtues such as: faith, love, receptivity, compassion and understanding.
I encourage you to take a few minutes in silence with yourself and reflect on this article. Choose one of the strategies mentioned above that resonates with you, then be creative and plan how you can apply it in your daily life. Feel free to share your experience, or comments in the space below.
This article is an excerpt from the chapter on “Pranayama, Asanas and Meditation” in my Ayurvedic Training: From Theory to Daily Practice. Visit this page for more info and to register to this course.
The art of eating in harmony with nature is one of many strategies to heal your body and mind with Ayurveda
In Western diet, foods are evaluated for proteins, calories, carbohydrates, vitamins, and other nutritional contents. However in Ayurveda, we look not only for vitamins, minerals, and chemical nutrient content, but first and foremost for the energetic properties in foods (and that includes herbs.)
Ayurveda evaluates our diet based on the tastes and its effect on the doshas, as well as the following energetic qualities of the food:
Temperature: cold or warm;
Weight: light or heavy; and
Moisture: dry or wet.
The ayurvedic approach treats what you are like right now, and takes it one day at a time, one season at a time. When you wish to bring balance into your digestion, look at what qualities and tastes dominate in your diet, and balance them with the opposite qualities.
The following six tastes are at the core of this practice:
- Sweet foods: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Examples: wheat, rice, milk, cheese, fruit, dates, etc. They reduce Vata and Pitta, but increase Kapha
- Sour foods: organic acids like yogurt, cheese, sour fruits, fermented foods, lemon, etc. They reduce Vata, but increase Pitta and Kapha
- Salty foods: minerals, natural salts, sea vegetables, etc. They reduce Vata, but increase Pitta and Kapha
- Pungent foods: onions, chilies, ginger, garlic, radish, etc. They reduce Kapha, but increase Vata and Pitta
- Bitter foods: dark leafy greens, turmeric, rhubarb, dandelion, etc. They reduce Pitta and Kapha, but increase Vata
- Astringent foods: legumes, raw fruits and vegetables, pomegranate, etc. They reduce Pitta and Kapha, but increase Vata
As an example, if you want to balance Vata dosha, which tends to be cold, light, and dry, prepare your food in a way that is warm, moist or oily (unctuous), and heavier. In terms of taste, favor sweet, sour and salty tastes and reduce astringent, bitter and pungent foods.
If you wish to balance Pitta dosha, which tends to be hot, light, and wet or oily, favor cooling, heavier and drier foods. In terms of taste favor sweet, bitter and astringent tastes and reduce pungent (spicy hot), sour, and salty foods.
Finally if you wish to balance Kapha dosha, which tends to be cold, heavy, wet, and congesting, eat foods that are light, warm and drying. The following tastes are best: pungent, bitter and astringent. Make sure you reduce heavy, oily, sweet and cold foods, sour and salty tastes.
Ayurveda helps us becoming whole through the process of developing our consciousness, through observation, knowledge and action. It implies changing or creating new habits, this may not be easy and may take some time. Observe the food you choose and eat, and start taking actions to enhance your quality of life.
This article is an excerpt from the chapter on “Food as therapy” in my Ayurvedic TT: From Theory to Daily Practice. Visit this page for more info and to register to this course.