Hello Spring – Springtime Ayurveda + Cleanse

Happy first day of SPRING!  It’s been a long winter.  I got a taste of warm weather while in Florida last week & I am ready for more.  

Here’s an updated post that’s appropriate for today – a springtime Ayurveda + pranayama yoga pracitce.

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Spring is the optimal time to cleanse and rid the body of excesses accumulated during the colder season.  Ayurvedic wisdom recommends working with the body’s natural shifts that occur at the juncture of the seasons.  Over the kapha-ruled winter we eat heavy, rich foods, including more protein, to insulate us from the cold.  These foods then linger in the body and produce low immunity which in turn can cause the typical later winter issues of colds, flu, sore throats, post nasal drip, headaches, achy joints, fatigue and lack of mental clarity.  As more and more of the light returns, our body naturally wants to release the stored fat and toxins that we have accumulated over the winter.

Since Spring is here and the weather has warmed, it’s the perfect time to eat more raw fruits and veggies. The farmers’ markets are about to begin and soon we will have local asparagus, young lettuces, radishes, spinach and sprouts to savor.  Local produce is a nutritional powerhouse because you’re getting it shortly after it’s been harvested.   Also keep in mind avoiding foods that cause inflammation, such as gluten, soy and dairy.  Gluten is a hard to digest protein which is intended to be eaten primarily in the winter months when digestion is strongest.

Ashtanga Hrdayam, one of the classical texts of Ayurveda, reminds us that “foods which are hard to digest and cold, sleeping at day time, foods which are fatty, sour, and sweet should [all] be avoided.”  Focus instead on foods and activities that are dry, heating, light, and energizing.  Enjoy hot water to help flush and re-hydrate the system, and eat light, home-cooked foods that will be easy for your body to digest.  This is also the perfect time of year to get out for some heat-building exercise such as hiking, running or vinyasa yoga.

Pranayama for cleansing –

Kapalbhati – In Sanskrit ”Kapal” means skull (or head), and “bhati” means shining. Therefore, the term kapalbhati (shining head) implies an individual who is enlightened.

Watch a YouTube video on Kapalbhati here.

Gentle Detox Recipes:

1) Kitchari 
According to ayurveda, this is one of the most nutritious and easiest foods to digest, perfect for a detox.

Yields 4 servings

1 cup white basmati rice
1 cup split mung beans
1 tablespoon ghee
1 /4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 /4 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 /4 teaspoon turmeric
1 /4 teaspoon rock salt or sea salt
4 cups water

1. Rinse the rice and mung beans until the water is clear.

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the ghee and add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir a moment until the seeds pop.

3. Add the rice, mung beans, turmeric, and salt, and stir until well blended with the spices.

4. Add the water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

5. Turn down the heat to low and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook until tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Adapted from Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing, by Usha Lad and Vasant Lad (Ayurvedic Press, 2nd edition, 1997)

2) From the 14-Day Herbal Cleansing by Laurel Vukovic, The Spring Tonic Soup is a perfect compliment to any cleanse you choose to do with the changing season.  Choose fresh, organic, local ingredients in preparing this soup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 leek, sliced into thin crescents
  • 1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, sliced into 1/4-inch half moons
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 cup asparagus, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp light miso, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely minced
  • freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large pot over medium heat, sautee leek, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, ginger root, and garlic in olive oil until vegetables have softened. Approximately 5 minutes.

2. Add vegetable stock or water and bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add asparagus, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes or until asparagus is tender.

3. Dilute miso in a small amount of hot broth and add to soup.  Turn off heat and add to parsley.  Cover, and allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Add freshly ground black pepper and adjust seasonings. Serve.

Medicinal benefits:

Asparagus is a classic Spring tonic vegetable.  The amino acid, asparagine, has diuretic effects that purifies the kidneys.  In addition, asparagus is rich in Vitamin C, A, folic acid, potassium, and rutin.

Parsley is rich in Vitamin A, C, iron, calcium, magnesium, and chlorophyll.  Parsley stimulates increased urination and helps cleanse the urinary tract.

Looking for more?  

If you’d like to start a yoga practice or practice in the comfort of your home I offer personalized virtual sessions that are delivered to your inbox!  

I also am happy to offer personalized integrative wellness programs to help you attain optimal mind-body health & balance.

Email me for more information.

Namaste,

Meg

Ayurveda + Yoga Flow for Thanksgiving

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice

Ayurveda is the ancient Indian science of life. It is a 5,000 year-old holistic approach to health that focuses on maintaining balance in the body and mind in order to prevent and treat illness. In Ayurveda, it is believed that we are all interconnected to natures; as the seasons change we are effected. Each season and each person is ruled by a temperament, known as a doshas. There are three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. These energies are present to some degree in each person and the balance of them sways with our energy shifts that are affected by our actions, diet and the environment. Just as we are in constant flux with our internal balance, so is the environment season to season. Here we will look into the dosha related to autumn and how our diet and routine can help us to maintain balance within change.

Autumn is ruled by the vata dosha. This is a season of rapid change: from sunlight and warmth to darkness and cooling temperatures. With this transition from long summer days to the slower pace of fall we are asked to pause and reflect. The element related to the vata dosha is wind. If you’ve begun to experience dry skin, a feeling of unease, insomnia or anxiety, this is why. Just look at the weather here in the east coast this past week – hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc not just on peoples’ homes and property but also on their emotions. Many of my clients have told me how their sleep and eating habits have been off since the storm. In order to regain balance from this increase in vata energy we need to slow down, gather and nourish.

Fall is the season of the harvest. Taking a cue from nature it is a time to ground yourself through gathering the harvest in your life and storing gratitude for a long dark winter. Mirroring nature and its rhythm in this way allows for us find balance. Look to bring warmth and stability back into your life in order to pacify vata by gathering your energy.

Let’s begin with diet. Again, look to mirror nature. Enjoy the wonderful bounty of fall. Warm yourself with slow cooked meals such as stews and soups. Nurture yourself by eating seasonal produce such as root vegetables and squashes. Preparing for winter, store up the bright tastes of apples and tomatoes by preserving and canning them. Bring stability to your eating routine and be extra mindful not to skip meals. Starting the day with warm water with lemon is a fantastic day to both ground yourself and jumpstart your digestion.

As nature slows down, we too can begin to draw inwards, pause and reflect. Fall is a great time to start or deeper your sadhana practice. Begin a gratitude journal, writing at least one thing a day that brings you love, joy and warmth to your life. Practicing meditation each day, even if just for a few minutes, can help to draw you back to the here and now. When vata is out of balance is when you feel out of control or like you could fly away. Move your body everyday. Practicing some warming yoga sequences can be beneficial but be mindful not to go too hot or too long. A gentle or restorative yoga practice is like a moving meditation and will allow you to connect with your mind and body.

Through this seasonal practice of Ayurveda I hope to help bring you stability and grace through this season of change. Gather your harvest of gratitude and love to keep you glowing and warm as we prepare to transition into the darker days of winter.

Here is a vata-pacifying, grounding sequence to keep you balanced this fall holiday season.

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice - Yogalina

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice - Yogalina

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice - Yogalina

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice - Yogalina

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice - Yogalina

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice - Yogalina

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice - Yogalina

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice - Yogalina

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice - Yogalina

Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice - Yogalina

This post originally was written for the Tasty-Yummies site last year.  Check them out this year for 99 gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes!

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Balancing Through Imbalance – A Seasonal Ayurveda & Yoga Practice

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My first guest post on the fantastic blog Tasty Yummies is up!
Stay balanced this fall through Ayurveda & yoga.
Read the article here: http://tasty-yummies.com/2012/11/14/balancing-through-imbalance-a-seasonal-ayurveda-practice-guest-post-by-yogalina/

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Guest Post: A Very Tasty Thanksgiving

My good social media friend, Beth, from Tasty-Yummies.com has asked me to write a guest post for her delicious site this month.  The post will be a part of her “A Very Tasty Thanksgiving” feature focusing on gluten-free & dairy-free recipes & inspiration.  If you are vegan, gluten-free, plant-based, like tasty recipes & creative design, Beth’s site is a must!  My contribution will discuss how to stay balanced during the fall holiday season through yoga & Ayurveda.  Stay tuned & look for my post this Wednesday!

Fall Equinox Ayurveda & Vinyasa

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Today marks the beginning of a new season. As we are all beginning to wind down from the active, yang, energy of summer let’s take a pause to reflect, gather & renew. The yang energy of summer is ruled by the pitta dosha in Ayurveda. We are now entering into the vata dosha’s reign before settling into the dark & heavy pull of kapha winter.
Fall is the season of thanks & gratitude, harvest & reflection. This is the perfect time to begin a more reflective yoga practice & stay grounded with stews, warm teas & friends. Look for yin, restorative or meditation classes in your area. Start a gratitude journal & savor each bit of daylight we have as the days begin to grow darker & daylight shorter.

Namaste,
Meg

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Winter Ayurveda & Vinyasa

When I think of winter I think of the qualities of the vata & kapha doshas, dry, windy, cold, slow, damp & dense.  These qualities of the season increase the both doshas.  Vata as we begin winter from fall & kapha as we are in winter and move into spring.  The elements of these dark winter months coming up & into spring are earth & water.  We are in the midst of transitioning from the windy & dry season ruled by vata.  Winter is in part both vata & kapha.  People with vata & kapha doshas may be more susceptible to depression & feelings of loneliness.  In this time of darkness it is important to find balance in the light. 

Tips for maintaining vata balance:

  • Create a schedule for yourself, being mindful not to skip meals, keep to a regular sleep pattern & be sure to exercise!
  • Start your day with warm lemon water to cleanse your lymph. 
  • Pranayama – practice deep breathing for 10-15 minutes each morning.
  • Vinyasa – practice grounding & hip opening postures in a slow vinyasa practice or yin.

 

Here are some tips for maintaining kapha balance:

  • Maintain a non-sedentary lifestyle (no hibernation here).  January is a time of setting intentions.  Make time to schedule in activity into your daily routine.
  • Drinking hot water with lemon (aids in elimination), ginger tea with cinnamon & clove (to aid in clearing out mucus) rather than consuming cold drinks. 
  • Pranayama – Channel Cleaning Breath (Nadi Shodhana) to increase circulation & heat.
  • Continue to build heat & energy by saluting the sun with variations of Surya Namaskar A & B.
  • Winter is a natural time for reflection.  Embrace the silence & darkness through meditation & journaling.
  • Bring the lightness & energy in by wearing bright & cheerful colors.
  • Nourish yourself by preparing fresh, warm meals.  Seasonal produce is best!

Namaste!

~Meg

“loka samasta sukhino bhavantu – may all beings everywhere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”

 

 

Fall into Autumn Ayurveda & Pratyahara

As the summer drifts away, let us embrace the last few weeks of Yang energy before we lull into the Yin of winter. This has been a very active summer for me personally & I have gravitated towards gentle & yin styles of yoga, meditation & eating grounding foods. I have noticed a more exagerated whiplash to my health when I have veared off this track (creating a vata imbalance). The weather here in the northeast has been wild and extra active this summer as well. Last month we expereinced an earthquake, a hurricane and tornadoes (oh my) in one week and the wild weather has continued.

September is a natural time of renewal and reflection. Kids are returnning to school, the air and weather are shifting & we can take the time to reflect on our dharma & goals in our lives. Embrace the slow-down of the seasons as the year slowly winds down & we move slowly into the slumber of winter. It is a time to look within & contemplate all that we are.

Let’s begin this inward reflection with a practice of Pratyahara. This practice is 5th part of the 8 limbs of Classical Yoga. It is the practice of drawing in the energy of the energy senses. It is an often elusive and misunderstood limb.

It was three years ago around this time when I participated in a beach yoga retreat in Ocean City with my yoga teacher, Bob Butera. As part of a pratyahara exercise he had us sit on the beach with our eyes closed and tune in to the sound of the breaking waves. It was a powerful exercise to hear the roar of the ocean amplified in such a way. He asked us to listen to what the ocean had to say to us.

This is an exercise we can practice today, whether you’re at the beach or not. Close your eyes a draw your attention within. Now bring your attention to one thing – the sound of your breath, the stillness, and absorb what this has to offer you.

Another exercise you can do with pratyahara is during savasana. In corpse pose you are shedding the layers (sheaths) to attain a state of true peace and rest. It is the practice of pratyahara not to be distracted by wandering thoughts or the sound of the teacher walking around the room. You still hear sounds but no longer need to react to them.

This pause between stimulus and reaction can be carried out on and off the mat. You can pause before being critical of yourself in an asana just as you can pause before reacting to a person that typically causes you stress. With this practice let us take pause to reflect on the change of seasons and renew within ourselves.

Me taking a moment for reflection after a hike outside of Asheville, NC.

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