Eclipse - Vedic Astrology

On July 2, 2019 there will be a Total Solar Eclipse forming from 9:55-2:50pm PT, followed by a Partial Lunar Eclipse on July 16, 2019, taking place at 11:43am-5:17 pm PT.

What is the view on Eclipse by Vedic Astrology?

An ancient Indian Legend say that an eclipse occurs when the shadowy demon (shadow planets) Rahu and Ketu gets his revenge on the Sun and the Moon, stealing their energy and light. (see the legend below)

Eclipse is considered inauspicious event, an unsettle time that bring change and transformation. It is not time to start new adventures, start new project, relations, jobs or any important thing in the material world.

Eclipse is a good time to stay in, meditate and to turn inward.

The part of the world that has the shadow (where the Eclipse is visible) is mostly affected. Changes from Political,natural and weather events can be quite unsettling.

Vedic Astrologer Komilla Sutton explain that “July continues to the volatile theme as it brings two eclipses, Sun Rahu conjunction with Saturn Ketu opposition, Mercury retrograde and in a militant mood as it wars with Mars and Venus. We are exhausted by the June struggles and need to be strong to cope with the continued pressure.”

The full eclipse will last 4 seconds, and the effect of this eclipse will last for 4 years.

“2 July – Solar Eclipse is at 16º25 Gemini, Ardra nakshatra. Gemini can overthink issues and is indecisive being pulled in different directions. Ardra can be self-destructive and has anger issues. The solar eclipse can make a small problem appear huge, so it is crucial that you do not allow energies to take control and spoil life for you. Exercise restraint, and it will be rewarding.

The total eclipse is visible in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Ecuador. These countries will be dealing with changes, political volatility, extreme weather, and more. The rest of the world is dealing with the eclipse as a silent factor; therefore, unsettled energy can come as a surprise, or unplanned events can happen. (like the extreme weather in France for example).

On a personal level, all of us will feel the impact of the eclipse. We need to keep 2 July simple – do not add on pressures through overdoing your activities.

If your birthday is near 2 July, then you can expect changes. Those with Sun Moon and Ascendant in Gemini are going through some significant changes, some planned, others unexpected.

RAHU AND KETU LEGEND

There were constant wars between the Devas (Gods) and the Asuras (Demons).

The Devas sought Vishnu's help, who advised them to treat the Asuras in a diplomatic manner.

The Devas formed an alliance with the Asuras to jointly churn the ocean for the nectar of immortality (Amṛta) and to share it among themselves.

The Devas appealed to Vishnu, who took the form of Mohini, as a beautiful and enchanting damsel, distracted the Asuras; then, she took the amṛta and distributed it among the Devas, who drank it.

An Asura disguised himself as a deva and drank some nectar. Due to their luminous nature, the Sun god Surya and the moon god Chandra noticed this disguise. They informed Mohini who, before the nectar could pass the Asura's throat, cut off his head, but, since he had already drank the nectar, he did not die. From that day, his head was called Rahu and his body Ketu, which both later became planets.

RAHU and KETU, even to this day, hold the grudge against surya (Sun) and chandra (Moon), and cause solar and lunar eclipse to affect them.


Ayurveda and Hay Fever

It's that time of the year when people suffer from Hay Fever (allergic rhinitis), why now?

According to Ayurveda, an allergy is the aggravation of a Dosha by a particular substance (the allergen). In most cases, allergic reactions are reflective of our Doshic constitutions, for example, a Kapha predominant constitution will present a Kapha type allergy, especially when this dosha is already aggravated (like in spring).

Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis) generally occurs due to Ama, decreased immunity and Vata/Kapha imbalance which are particularly aggravated in spring.

Yoga and pranayama can help to reduce allergic reactions and build stamina, immune system to fight off the disease.

Yoga improves lung capacity and helps draining mucus from the respiratory tract.

Practices such as Kapalbhati Pranayam, Anulom Vilom Pranayam, Vrukshasan (tree pose), Virabhadrasana (warrior pose), Trikonasana (triangle pose), Bhujangasana (cobra) Pavanmuktasana (gas releasing pose) and Shavasana are all poses that help.

A diet to follow is one that balances Kapha and kindles Agni to burn ama.

A quick look at allergies by type.

Vata-Type Allergies

Vata types of allergies are often experienced in the digestive tract: gas, abdominal pain, intestinal colic, etc. There might also be symptoms of headache, a ringing of the ears, joint pain, insomnia, and other typical signs of Vata imbalance.

When Vata is aggravated, it is important to slow down, keep warm, stay hydrated, and have a vata pacifying diet and life-style. To help with Vata imbalance and this type of allergies, drinking ginger, licorice teas with an added drop of ghee can often be helpful.

Pitta-Type Allergies

Pitta types of allergies are more related to skin problems, such as hives, itching, eczema, dermatitis, etc. You might also experience heartburn, nausea, indigestion, and other symptoms affecting the GI tract. When Pitta is high, you might experience sensitivity to spicy, hot food, sour fruits, fermented foods, and nightshade vegetables. A Pitta balancing diet and lifestyle will help counteract this effects of high pitta. Keep cool, eat non-spicy food, avoid overheating.

Ayurveda also recommends bloodletting, blood donation. Coriander is a good blood and liver cleanser, you can either add it fresh to your food or drink its juice in the morning. Neem oil has cooling proprieties, its application relieves excess pitta.

Kapha-Type Allergies

Kapha allergies are most likely to be experienced during the spring season when plants and trees shed their pollen into the atmosphere. When pollen is inhaled, can irritate the delicate mucous membrane causing an allergic reaction such as hay fever, colds, congestion, sinus infection, and even asthma. Other aggravated Kapha symptoms include water retention, bronchial congestion, caught, sleeping disorder and sluggish digestion.

One way to minimize the effect of pollens is to lubricate the nasal mucous membrane with ghee (Nasya), to create a barrier and preventing direct contact with the allergen.

There is also some Kaphagenic food that its best to avoid: milk and dairy, wheat, cucumber, and watermelon. Drinking lightening and clarifying teas such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, or clove can also help to liquefy, dry, and eliminate excess kapha. (we always work on opposite gunas).

Using local honey as a sweetener helps reduce sensitivity to pollen, it is also the only sweetener we can use to balance Kapha, having the quality of light, dry and heating.

Trikatu is often used to pacify Kapha and it is recommended to follow a kapha pacifying diet and lifestyle.

Ama accumulation is considered to be the main cause of allergic rhinitis and virechana (herbal purgation) is a detoxification therapy often prescribed for this condition.

Ayurveda recommends a cleanse during springtime, this also helps prevent Kapha type allergies.

Intermittent fasting can be continued throughout the rest of the spring.

Source: https://www.ayurveda.com/images/content/ar...

AYURVEDA AND FERMENTATION

Fermented products and probiotics have been promoted in recent years as a way to improve digestion, healthy guts and getting complete nutrition.

Looking back at times before we had refrigeration, fermenting was one of the ways to preserve food. The need and the skills of preserving food have diminished in modern society due to it being replaced with other preserving techniques of refrigeration, dehydration, transportation, an example is how food is transported refrigerated from all around the world.

Fermentation is any energy-releasing metabolic process that takes place only under anaerobic conditions. It is a process of aging and ‘predigesting’ food with enzymes (bacteria) making its energy easier to extract during digestion.

Depending on the types of bacteria used for fermentation, it creates acids with distinctive flavor. For example, propionic acid in Swiss cheese, lactic acid found in yogurt, cheddar cheese, soy sauce, acetic acid in vinegar giving its biting flavor. Wine, alcohol, and beer are all products of fermentation too.

The bacteria produce byproducts during fermentation:

- ethanol like in wine and beer

- lactic acid, for example, during intense exercise where oxygen supply becomes limited lactic acid is produced.

- Hydrogen gas.

Ayurveda uses many ferments but only medicinally as Asavas and arishtas (alcoholic herbal preparations). Herbarized wine is used as a vehicle to deliver healing herbs, targeting the liver, the digestive system and the reproductive system and used for Vata.

The metabolic waste products of bacteria are generally acidic, sour and irritating. They require processing and are a burden to the liver (this is obvious with alcohol).

Fermented food has heating qualities (Pitta), to be taken in small doses by vāta and Kapha and during Vata and Kapha season, in the old days, this was the time fermented food was eaten.

Fermented food is contraindicated in post-surgery, post-partum, and in cases of bleeding or high pitta and all liver disorders. Overuse of ferments increases Pitta and spoils the quality of the blood.

Ingredients that are fermented:

Alcohol, Apple Cider Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar, Beer, Black Tea, Chocolate (Cacao), Coffee, Dosa Mix, Fish Sauce, Kefir, Kombucha, Miso, Nutritional Yeast, Olives, Pickle (Cucumber), Red Wine, Red Wine Vinegar, Sake, Sauerkraut, Soy Sauce, Tamari, Tempeh, Tobacco / Nicotine, Tofu, Umeboshi Plums, White Vinegar, White Wine (Dry type), Yeast.

Ayurvedic fermented food: Common fermented or probiotic foods in India and Ayurveda include idli, dosa, pickle, yogurt, and herbarized wine.

To understand the effect of fermented food, think of the Gunas of the ingredients and the process of fermentation and how it will affect the Doshas.

For example, Kefir and sauerkraut fall under the same category, but kefir will be more heavy and cooling in nature {better choice for pitta} and sauerkraut is better for kapha.

Takra is a fat-free yogurt mixed with water, which is an Ayurvedic probiotic used in IBS.

For a probiotic to work correctly, they need to be fed with prebiotics food that is high in inulin, a polysaccharide. Examples are burdock root, dandelion root, Jerusalem artichokes, and root veggies like parsnips, leek, asparagus, and sweet potatoes.



Cancer Research view on Ayurveda

According to Cancer Research UK, many aspects of Ayurveda can help to ease and relieve symptoms related to cancer. Researches are looking in particular how herbs and plant medicine in Ayurveda can help to prevent or treat cancer.

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of medicine which is thought to be more than 5,000 years old. It is an holistic medicine that looks at all aspects and roots of disease.

Treatment generally is a combination of treatments and techniques to improve the quality of life and restore health and treat different kinds of illness..

The treatments include:

  • Diet recommendations specific to the individual person to restore healthy digestion.

  • Ayurvedic medications and herbal medicines might be used to aid restore balance in a natural way.

  • massage to stimulate various functions such as elimination of toxins, reducing body and mental stress, improves circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system,

  • meditation has been proven to help with stress, anxiety, studies proved that lower blood pressure, and helps with many chronic illnesses.

  • cleansing and detoxification practises suitable to the individual.

  • Yoga, breathing and relaxation techniques. Recent research has shown that practising yoga is effective. The results found that yoga can improve sleeping patterns in lymphoma patients, as well as reduce stress in people with prostate or breast cancer.

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/complementary-alternative-therapies/individual-therapies/ayurvedic-medicine

Gaelic traditions, Imbolc Day: Raffy's Ayurvedic Bannock recipe

Imbolc or Imbolg, also called Brigid's Day, is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring.

It is held approximately about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, around 1-2 February.

Historically, it was observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, in honour of St. Bridget or Brìghde. This goddess returns to the earth on the eve of her feast day, also known as Imbolc, to herald the arrival of spring. To honour this occasion, bonnach were baked and left out in hope for prosperity, health and blessing from the goddess.

I have made my own Ayurvedic version of it, that my kids really enjoyed.

Here below is the recipe:

Raffy’s Ayurvedic Rosemary Oat Bannock

Makes two small Bannock cakes (or eight pieces total)

Ingredients with ayurvedic effect and taste

  • 1 cup corn meal  - { K- V+ P+  sweet}

  • 1 cup rolled oats  - {K- V+ P+ sweet}

  • ¼  tsp salt  - { V- P+K+ salty and pungent}

  • ¼ tsp black pepper - { V- K-P+ pungent}

  • ½  Tbs minced rosemary – {V-K-P+; Pungent, bitter, astringent}

  • ½ Tbs dry power of: ginger { K- V- P+ Pungent}, clove {V-K-P+; Pungent, bitter, astringent}, cinnamon {V-K-P+; Sweet, Pungent, Astringent}

  • ½ cup of mix nuts finely chopped: Almond {Sweet}, walnut {astringent}, hazelnut {V-}

  • The zest of one lemon - {K-V+P+; bitter} or orange.

  • ½ tbs turmeric - {V-K-P+; Bitter}

  • 1 pinch of cardamom powder - {tridoshic – Pungent}

  • 3-4 chopped dates or raisins. {P-V+K+; Sweet}

  • ½ tbs raw sugar (sucanat) - {V-P-K+; Sweet}

  • 4-6 tablespoons ghee - {tridoshic}

  • ½ to 1 cup almond mylk as needed- {V- P- K+ sweet},  can use milk or cream.

For the syrup: juice of one lemon {V-K-P+; Sour} (Orange can be used too), 1 part of honey {K-V+P+; sweet} or other natural sweetener) and ½ part melted

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a cast iron skillet or baking sheet.

  • Place the oats, flour, salt, pepper, sugar, rosemary, lemon zest, and the dry ingredients/spices and nuts in a large bowl or electric mixer, mix together.

  • Add the chopped dates/raisins, mix.

  • Add the melted ghee.

  • Stir in the almond mylk until all the flour is absorbed and it is of soft consistency.

  • Divide the dough in half and place each in a round baking tray, smooth it down to become a flat surface of about 1/4 inch thick.

  • Bake about 20-30 minutes or until start showing cracks on the top and is crisping at the edges.

  • Remove from the oven, let it cool down and rest.

  • Cut each circle into 4 wedges.

OPTIONAL: Serve in a plate and cover with the syrup or sprinkle some icing sugar on top before serving.

This could be also use as prasāda offering after Puja (Sacred ceremony).

Is gluten a bad food? An Ayurvedic view.

In recent years gluten has been put in the list of food to avoid. We see gluten free labels increasing (and their price), putting gluten in the spotlight. Many people have gluten intolerance, which means, inability to digest or break down the gluten protein found in wheat and certain other grains. This gluten sensitivity can range from a mild sensitivity to gluten allergy and celiac disease. We see gluten free labels increasing (and their price), putting gluten in the spotlight.

Is it gluten really a bad for you?

What Ayurveda say about gluten?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in man grains like wheat, narey, rye, farro, spelt, etc.

Gluten is a very hard to digest protein that requires a specifically strong acid in the stomach to process it, a strong Agni. A weak Agni or weak digestion, cannot break down the gluten protein in the stomach. If gluten passes through the stomach undigested, can cause irritation to the intestinal villi and create condition for disease.

Ayurveda say that we should eat seasonally, seasonal food is naturally ayurvedic.

If we follow the natural harvesting cycles, wheat (gluten rich grain with. heavy and warming qualities) will only be available in winter. This is when the digestive fire is at its strongest and able to digest it. This is also the time when we need the warm and heavy qualities of grains to balance the cold and dry qualities of winter and the Vata season. 

Traditionally grains will be prepared in a way that makes them easier to digest. 


For example: 
Sourdough bread, the fermentation process breaks down the gluten protein and renders it much easier to digest. This process will increase the hot qualities and the sour which both increase Pitta and balance Vata. The heat balance Kapha, however sour taste will increase Kapha, hence Kapha people should limit the consumption of sourdough.

 Gluten, in its generic form, simply refers to the proteins grass plants build into their seeds (which we know as grains) to support and nourish the growth of the next generation of plants.
Overnight soaking/sprouting softens the grain and activates enzymes within the grain that begin to break down and release this protein (like it naturally happens when you want to grow the seed into a plant).

Then the process of cooking breaks it down further, making it easier to digest.

What is happening nowadays is that wheat products are in everyday diets and in large quantities.This overwhelming amount of gluten, along with increasing stress, toxins, processed food, GMO food, will bog down the digestive process and begin to let the gluten through the stomach without being properly broken down.

How can we eat grain with gluten and still be healthy?

Ayurveda tell us to follow natural cycles and that seasonal food is naturally ayurvedic, Grains and all food in general, should be eaten in the season they are harvested. Grains are harvested in Autumn which Ayurveda consider the Vata season, therefore they should be eaten during the Vata season (Autumn to Mid winter).

Ayurveda is not against gluten, however high quantities or products with high gluten content can be difficult and slow to digest.  One should consider individual Dosha and Agni strength when eating food with gluten including time of the year, how the (organic non-GMO) grains containing gluten are prepared and cooked and quantities (how much and how often).

A balanced Ayurvedic diet can have grains with gluten and be useful in balance Vata in particular.

 

10 things new yogi worry about when they come to class

So many people I know come to me with many worries. Many think that a yoga class is for confident, slim, flexible people. You might be surprise to hear the many worries people have when they first come to a yoga class.

What are the yoga worries that we keep so secret?

1) I am too big, not so young, I will feel uncomfortable in a class full of young slim people.

A yoga class is for everyone, I see different sizes and ages all the time. You will be surprise how certain poses will feel easier to you than to others. We don’t judge people, we just welcome you in our classes, to be who you are.

2) I don’t have the latest yoga pants, I don’t look good in yoga outfit.

Traditional Yoga trousers were not tight lycra pants, they were comfortable wide cotton trousers. Just come with what you feel comfortable with, that gives you freedom of movement.

3) I can’t touch my knee, let alone my toes.

That was me when I first started yoga, as so are many that come to my classes. There will be plenty of option including taking rest. Flexibility comes in time, what it is important is keeping your body moving, stretching and strengthening to maintain good health of the back and the whole body.

4) I can’t balance, what if I fall over?

Many people find balancing difficult, the poses are taught in stages and you can stop where you feel you have reached your limit. We also use props, including a wall. If you do loose the balance, you will not be the only one that has done it, we all have been there, I still do. It is all part of learning.

5) I don’t do headstand or other fancy poses.

That is absolutely fine, not everyone wants or can do them. My classes focus on preparing the body for this poses with strengthening exercises and stretches. There is no pressure and they are practiced only when you feel confident to do it. However because of all the preparation we do, many people find themselves surprise how far they can go and what they can do.

6) I worry I might break wind.

Well Yoga has a poses called ‘wind release’, it’s part of the practice. Yoga stimulates the digestive system, improving digestion, evacuation and circulation. It does happens and it’s a good thing.See it as a part of healing and releasing experience.

7) Can we mention meat, do I need to be vegetarian to be a yogi?

We are all different and have different needs and diet. Some choose to be vegetarian or vegan for personal or medical reasons. Ayurveda sometimes prescribe meat. Yogic, as they deepen their practice, might feel that a vegetarian or even vegan diet is the one more suitable. The most important thing is acceptance of who you are and be open to evolve to become who you wish to be.

8) I can’t do relaxation, I can’t stay still.

In my classes we practice a specific relaxation that keeps your mind occupied while relaxing the body. It works, I have many people that couldn’t relax but did in my classes. With practice, this will become easier even if you choose to practice it at home.

9) If I lie down in relaxation, I fall asleep.

If you do fall asleep, it’s probably because your need it. I did and also I had students falling asleep during classes and workshops, even snoring. If this happens, it means that yoga has given you what you needed most and you will feel much better afterwards.

10) I would like to try it but I worry about the cost.

I do offer discount on block bookings and to people that genuinely can’t afford the classes. Please email me at: TheBalancedYoga@gmail.com to book you in for a taster class.

How to successfully change your lifestyle with Ayurveda.

Ayurveda give many rules about life-style choices, from diet to exercise, daily routine and disease prevention. Remembering and apply the many roles can be daunting, balancing the doshas, balancing the mind, it can become very complicated, however Ayurveda is about simplifying what is complicated.

I remember when I first tried to create an Ayurvedic plan for my imbalances, there were many areas in needed of a change that I didn’t know where to start, if was overwhelming and off-putting.

It was too complicated.

Trying to change everything in one go can create a lot of stress, high expectancies, struggle, disappointment or even sense of failure. This is not a good state of mind.

One might think that the way to go is to focus on one thing, however this too might not work.

Any change needs some planning and organizing, it needs to be supported to be successful.

For example, if you try to incorporate exercise or even self-massage, squeezing a slot in your already tight schedule, you might find yourself very imbalanced, stressed trying to fit everything in 24 hours.  

Another example is to change your diet into an Ayurvedic diet, but you struggle to find the time to cook or to shop for fresh food. Maybe the cooking takes too long, and you undercook the food or eat in a rush, for example.  While your meal might have Ayurvedic ingredients, however it creates imbalance, stress, indigestion, etc.

Your whole body-mind system needs to work together to have a positive change.

Tips on how be successful:

1)      Choose a starting point and see how you can support that change.

For example, let say that you decide to change your diet. Ask yourself what you need to support this change?

a.       Create a meal plan, organize your shopping list and recipes.

b.       Schedule time to go shopping (or shop online and have the food delivered to you if you don’t have the time to go shopping).

c.       You will also need a slot time to cook that food, or delegate someone to do the cooking for you.

d.       Schedule time to eat slow and in peace (at least whenever possible).

e.       Can you make meal times regular? Maybe some days yes, however some days it’s not possible; how you can adapt the days you can’t eat at the same time?

As you see, you will need to organize your day around your choices and your working schedule. If you are self-employed you must organize your working time so that it doesn’t take over your whole life.

Most important, one needs to be realistic with expectations (you only have 24hrs in a day) and be open towards changes, compromises and adaptation.

2)      Organize your day.

a)       Prioritize what it is essential and need to be part of your schedule (work, kids, etc.)

b)      identify things that have some flexibility.

c)       Delegate when possible, create a support group, including support from family and partner.

d)      Identify things that can be dropped to create space for what is really important, including new things and changes..

3)      Make choices based on what you want to prioritize (from priority list).

4)      Learn to say no.

This is because you need to discriminate between what is important and needed, and what is not. It is not about say no because you are lazy or you can’t be bothered.

5)      Accountability.

You can share your goals with others, to keep you on track. If you struggle keeping track of your appointments, set alarms and reminders. Team up with a friend for encouragement and motivation.

6)      Be prepared for the unexpected, knowing that you will need to make compromises.

Use your “priority list” to identify things that can be dropped to make space to the unexpected. Ask for help when you need it and allow others to help you.

7)      Make time for self-care no matter what.

Meditation, self-care, reflection, building a positive mindset, all have a high priority.

Conclusion:

When you organize your thoughts and routine, you create clarity. It becomes clearer what you need to focus on and what is a time-waster (or unnecessary). 
With clear thoughts what seems to be complicated becomes simplified and clearer. 
When it is clear and simple you will succeed.

Mantra to Lord Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom:

Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha

 Reflective questions:

What is your struggle (notice how this is linked to your Dosha) ?

How you overcome a difficulty, what is your strategy. Can you see it with an ayurvedic eyes, have you intuitively use a strategy that balance your dosha?

What is your experience in applying Ayurveda into your life?

Diets and Ayurveda

 How do we go about with the latest diets and how can we translate them in Ayurvedic terms?

This article wants to be more of a generic approach to diet, nonspecific to any diet. 


There have been many diets promoted over the years. You might recognise some or even have tried them, here some of the most popular:
Alkaline diet, Cabbage soup diet, Dukan Diet, Fruitarianism, Juice fasting, KE diet, Paleolithic diet, South Beach Diet, Superfood diet, Low-carbohydrate diet, Atkins diet, High carb/ low-fat diets, Dr. Dean Ornish: Eat More, Weigh Less, The Good Carbohydrate Revolution, The Pritikin Principle, Liquid diets Slim-Fast, etc.

Do they work, do they fail?

The one and only and easiest diet to follow that will work, it will also improve your health is: avoid processed foods, eat natural food predominantly plants based, associated with exercise and time to relax and good sleep; live in tune with nature and be happy with who you are. 
This diet is uncomplicated, cheap and available to all, yet is the one that many people don’t follow and instead are willing to try ‘new’ miracle diets or pills that will give an instant fix to whatever problem one might have. This without going into discussing the impossible image of the perfect healthy body portrayed by society.

All these ‘Fad’ diets have some validity in their concepts, however, are used in a selective way and can present severe health risks especially when these diets are followed for weeks or months. 


I don’t want to discuss what each diet claim and whether it works or not, what I would like to discuss is how can we translate this diets in the Ayurvedic terms to predict their outcome.

Ayurvedic Diet
In Ayurveda, a balanced diet does not revolve around fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. There is no concept of calories, vitamins, and minerals. 
According to Ayurveda, each person has his own individual constitution (like genetic code), that is a combination of the Doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. The food you eat has the power to increase/decrease these elements in the body, hence can potentially nurture and bring balance or act the opposite way, bring unbalance and eventually disease.

Initially, it will be difficult to see things the Ayurvedic way, it takes some time to retrain your mind not to think in terms of calories, fat, carb, etc. 


To make this “translation” easier, notice what food is in this ‘fad’ diet, and what is excluded.

The keto for example, , is high-protein, no-carb diet. How does this translate in Ayurvedic terms?
What are the qualities of carbs, what Dosha increase and which one pacifies? Carbohydrates are heating, sweet (this will pacify Vata), some are particularly drying (good for Kapha). Each carbohydrates will have slightly different qualities, which Ayurveda recognise. Rice for example is tridoshic, however in excess can be too drying and aggravate Vata (causing constipation, etc. Vata disorders. Potatoes aggravate Vata, while Sweet potatoes pacifies Vata, this is just to show how grouping food this way it will not be useful in Ayurveda.

Keto diet promote an increase of fat and protein to lose weight. Fat has oily, sticky qualities that will help balance Vata, however too much will put Kapha and Pitta out of balance.

Proteins are of different types: animal, from nuts, from vegetables, legumes and grains grains (however those are considered carbs in the keto diet), etc.

Just by looking where the proteins come from, there is a great variety and each has it’s own specific characteristics that can either help with health issues or do exactly the opposite.

I am not going to mention the Doshas here, because each one, depending on taste, qualities (dry, oily, heating, heavy, etc.) will have a different effect on the doshas.

How about the duration of a diet, can you do it for a long time, weeks or months?

In a simplistic way, a diet that has strong Vata pacifying characteristic, might actually help in bringing Vata back to balance, however what does it do to the other Doshas? Are you swapping an imbalance for another one?

The thing is, you will not know, until it becomes evident and then you have to work the opposite direction, possibly causing another imbalance.

This is very obvious, when people coming off a strict diet, put the weight back very quickly, or they go from one diet to the next one.

HOw can we predict the effect of a diet?

Any Ayurvedic passionate will have the Ayurvedic list of food combination and food qualities according to the Doshas. This list is just a quick way to get used to see food for their qualities and not in terms of calories, fat, etc.

If you don’t have this list ( and you would like to understand how food influences the Dosha, look at the gunas (qualities).

Think about the Ayurvedic qualities of that food: heating, cold, moist, dry, rough, smooth, etc. The Doshas have qualities too, if food has the same qualities of that Dosha, same qualities will increase and provoque that Dosha. Also notice the taste of that particular food, each taste will have qualities too: sweet has heavy and fluid qualities (earth and water), and will pacify Vata and Pitta, for example.

When you then want to apply the diet to a person, you need to know their Prakruti (individual constitution - genetics and predispositions), and Vikruti (current state of health) to predict how this diet will affect this person.

If the person has a chronic disease, the person is weak, has an illness or taking medications/drugs, if is a young person or pregnant, this becomes way more complicated, that is foolish to even try any of this fad diets, because can put the health of this person (and unborn if pregnant) at serious risk.

Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras says, "...take only those foods which are pure and produce a clear mind. Take them all in moderation." 

To know more about Ayurveda join one of my courses, workshops. II also offer personal consultations.

Women's health - Understanding the balance of monthly cycle

The menstrual cycle is closely connected to the lunar cycles, one should experience approximately a 28-29 days cycle with ovulation around the new moon and release of the ovum for implantation around the full moon, at its peak of energy.

Unless there is a specific condition or medications that can cause disruption to the menstrual cycle (please consult your doctor for any concern), an irregular period can be linked to hormonal changes. This can have many causes and be affected by various factors.

Ayurveda looks at the root cause, hence it is good to look at what Dosha influences the menstrual cycle.

The menstrual flow itself is the elimination of “blood” and it is considered a by-product of the first layer of Ayurvedic tissues, Rasa and the second tissue Rakta.

Blood is composed of two Dosha elements: plasma or Rasa Dhatu (Kapha Dosha) and blood hemoglobin or Rakta dhatu (Pitta Dosha).

Rasa and Rakta can easily be vitiated by doshic imbalance. Paying attention to the flow, pre and post menstruation, qualities (gunas) and symptoms, will give you many clues as to what it is happening.

Each Dosha has a play in the menstrual cycle.

Kapha dominates the first half of the cycle with the thickening of the endometrium, here you might experience kapha qualities of glowing, and being at peace. This phase culminates with ovulation.

Pitta dominates the subsequent phase, bringing more blood to the endometrium in preparation for the potentially fertilized egg and its implantation.

If the egg is not fertilized, Vata acts as a moving force to begin the menstruation.

Here we see how all the Dosha take part in the process and they can contribute to menstrual irregularity.

Each of the Dosha if imbalanced will give different symptoms.

Vata: lower abdomen and back pain, anxiety, fear, nervousness, light flow, etc.

Pitta: burning sensation, irritability, ager, hot, foul smell, heavier flow, etc.

Kapha: dull, discomfort and itching, depression, emotional eating, heavier and longer mucoid flow, etc.

When a Dosha is imbalanced, we consider Dosha balancing diet, routine and lifestyle.

Another thing to consider is nutrition, blockages, stagnation, and hormonal imbalance.

Nutrition is about providing the body with nourishing food and address malnutrition and malabsorption (low Agni, accumulation of Ama, etc).

Reducing toxins and have a correct lifestyle with correct exercise for your type will also reduce and prevent stagnation.

One of the most common causes of irregular menstrual cycles is stress. If stress hormones are high, it will affect the sex hormones and the menstrual cycle.

The first action to a normal menstrual cycle is to bring regularity and daily routine into everyday life. If we don’t assist our body in following its natural cycle, we can’t expect the hormonal rhythm to return to balance.

Where to start with irregular cycles?
• Check with a doctor if concern.
• Take notes about your cycle: duration, symptoms, diet, exercise, sleep, etc. There are many free app to track your cycle if you prefer. 
• Recognize and reduce stressors
• Sleep routine
• A daily routine of self-care
• Daily adequate exercise based on your Dosha.
• Meals at regular times
• Ayurvedic diet (eating compatible food, food for your Dosha, eating correct portions, etc.).
• Hydrate yourself, drink plenty of water.
• Seasonal cleansing and/or panchakarma
• Follow the seasons
• Follow natural rhythm
• Emotional balance, cultivating spiritual practices and meditation.
• Pranayama daily practices.
• Self-massage and massage in general
• Keep good company, surround yourself by people that bring a positive energy, love, and kindness to you and you to them.
• Spend time outside, the exposure to daylight helps synchronize the internal clock with the natural rhythm and regulate hormones. 
• Reduce the use of electronic devices, TV and Social media. 
• Clear your environment from toxins. Some personal and home care products, cosmetics, fragrances –(avoid triclosan or phthalates in particular as disrupt the endocrine system) plastic, pesticides/herbicides, heavy metals, etc. can affect hormonal balance.

Even with a basic knowledge on Ayurveda, one can recognize Dosha imbalances and made a suitable modification. When we act on the imbalances we often see improvement in symptoms, including to an irregular period.

Why Slow Yoga

Traditionally yoga was prescribed by the family Vedic guru (teacher) whose job was to teach the children the ways of a Vedic lifestyle.

This included the practices of yoga, breathing, and meditation, which had much to do with Vedic psychology. The yoga postures were prescribed individually rather than in a sequence like in modern yoga classes offered in studios. Each posture or body mudra had a specific effect to the body and the mind, it was like a meditation in and of itself and was held for a few minutes, progressively increasing the holding time.

These long holds administer benefits that go deeper than simply delivering fitness, a good stretch, or better flexibility. Without the long holds of a posture you miss on the full experience. 

Holding the pose create space for the mind to experience and relax, connect with the sensation of the body that otherwise will go unnoticed, it allow to get deeper in the fascia, where deep memories are stored, releasing the stagnation of energy and blockages, the hold becomes a meditative state where the body and mind are free to release and heal. 

In yoga is about prana, life force and nadis the energy channels in the body, the Chakras. When Prana flow correctly the body-mind system is in balance and free from diseases. Our modern lifestyle really challenge our body, from poor diet, stress, sedentary life, aging, pollution, emotions, etc. the body react by tensing up. The channel within the body becomes blocked (a bit like cholesterol in the veins) and unless this blockages are removed, the life force within the body diminishes which become evident with pains, body becomes rigid, the body systems becomes weaker. 

One of the purposes of yoga asana (poses) is to help break up this blockages. The long holds act directly in releasing stress and tension in the physical body.  Long holds allow the muscles to begin to relax. If you hold a posture for just 15-30 seconds, the tendons (the attachments where the muscles connect to the bone) tighten in resistance to the stretch. If you force the stretch you might damage the tendon.

If the posture is held for sufficient time (generally 10 breaths) the belly of the muscle (where all the blood and potential elasticity is found) will begin to release and lengthen, the result is more permanent elasticity and flexibility. . If you give time, the tendon relax, the muscle relax, the fascia relax. It's a ripple effect that reach your subconscious, your parasympathetic nervous system, your mind. Reducing physical and mental stress reduce inflammation which has been recognised to be the cause of many autoimmune diseases and chronic diseased).

In Yoga this process remove blockages and allow prana to flow freely, your body tissue receive nourishment and the body system functions can return to normal, its the process of healing.

Slow Yoga is not at all a "beginners" yoga, in fact it is quite advance, one has to have an open mind to learn from this process. Traditional yoga is therefore is very powerful healing practice, it offer very powerful returns in its simplicity and at the same time incredibly profound.

The Nadis

There are 72,000 nadis, or subtle energy channels in the body, according to Ayurveda and Yogic philosophy. These subtle channels becomes active only when prana or the breath moves into them, it like the first breath of a new born baby, everything is there but life starts with the first breath. Through the combination of long-hold of yoga postures, focus (still mind, meditation like) and breathing (pranayama),  prana activates the Nadis and moves through the density of the physical body.

According to Ayurveda, through the practices of slow yoga, breathing, meditation and a balanced lifestyle, it is possible to change pattern of illnesses.

When the postures are held briefly, or the breathing and meditation components are lacking in the yoga practice, the full potential of yoga is left unrealized.

Note: Slow Yoga classes are available to book here

End of Summer – beginning of the Vata season, what changes can you make?

End of Summer – beginning of the Vata season, what changes can you make?

August is a critical month to prepare your body for the colder days of autumn/fall. Some of you might already have experienced some summer storms, windy days and cooler temperatures, shorter days. Nature has more yellow color like yellow sunsets, yellow leaves. In Ayurveda, this is the beginning of the Vata season.

The heat of the summer has brought dryness in the body which is one of the Vata characteristics.

During the transaction from Summer to Autumn, from heat to cold, from sweats to chills, it is easy for your body to get out of balance. Especially if you are a Vata person, it is important at this time, to keep Vata under control.

Signs of Vata imbalance are: 
-dryness in the whole body, including constipation,
- gas and bloating
-insomnia
-anxiety
-a scattered mind.

All this can cause a build-up of toxins {Ama}, hence Ayurveda suggests cleansing and detox {Kitchari mono diet} during a change of season

August is time for a Vata pacifying routine (you still need to consider your current imbalance and constitution).

Diet: Vata is pacified by the sweet, sour, and salty tastes and aggravated by the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes. Favor smooth, warm, oily, moist, grounding and nourishing food over dry, light or rough.
Note that sweet taste is not about sugar is about how a food taste: sweetness in fruit, vegetables, grains, and sweet spices like Fennel, etc.

Eat a Vata balancing diet with fresh local produce which is in season.

Examples: Peaches will give sweet and a little sour (this will stimulate digestion) and are very juicy (moist). They are rich in fibers which helps with elimination.
Tomatoes have similar qualities to Peaches, however, being a nightshade may strain the liver and it should be avoided by Pitta and Vata individuals. 
- Warm breakfast with whole grain cereals and almond milk (or coconut milk) a touch of cinnamon will balance Vata.
- Lunch, when it is still quite hot, you can enjoy some cooling/cold food: 
vegetables such as Yellow squashes, juicy cucumbers, and carrots may be appealing for their rich beta-carotene content and sweet taste. Light grain salads with quinoa served at room temperature are nourishing, fresh, and easy to digest.

In general limit (or avoid) cooling foods including refrigerated and cold drink as well as large quantities of raw fruits and vegetables. Due to the dryness of Vata, astringent taste should be avoided.

About fruits, some (like apples) are best cooked or stewed which makes them sweeter and easier to digest and add warm and moist which are all beneficial to Vata. 
Dry fruits are mostly cooling and astringent (drying), rough {all increase Vata}, unless have been soaked and or cooked {add moist and heat which balance Vata}.
* Remember *: fruits and fruit juices are best enjoyed alone—30 minutes before, and ideally at least 1 hour after, any other food.

Vata balancing diet will have plenty of freshly cooked, whole foods that are soft or mushy in texture, rich in protein and fat, seasoned with a variety of spices, and served either warm or hot. These foods will provide lubrication, nourishment to the tissues, moist and heat while supporting optimal digestion.

Routine is key, eating at the same time each day will strengthen the digestive fire {Agni}.
Abhyanga, self-massage part of your daily routine is very important at this time.
Clothing: wear layers so that you can adjust with the changing temperatures during the day and also keep an extra blanket close by at night to use if needed.

If you take care of your imbalances right from the start of this Vata season, your immune system and general health will be stronger by the time the cold and flu season arrives.

10 Tips to cope with the heat of the summer


Summer is the season of hot weather, which relates to the fire element and Pitta Dosha.

The light, heat, and dryness of this season reflect the color in nature: Intense red, orange, and yellows, not just in the environment, also in our body.

During the summer, Pitta dosha can easily go out of balance. It is important to note that the blood, small intestine, stomach, liver, spleen, and gallbladder, skin (sebaceous gland and sweat) and eyes are some of the main sites of Pitta dosha and they too can become stressed and out of balance.

The heat and the sun can cause the skin to get red, irritated and even burn. People with skin conditions such as eczema will probably experience a worsening of their condition. The eyes too can become dry and irritated.

Your digestion is also affected, you will feel less hungry and more thirsty, especially at lunchtime, the peak of the heat of the day.  

Due to the heat, the capillaries become dilated and filled with blood which release body heat and sweat, as a result, your body cools down. Your heart works really hard in the process of maintaining your body temperature from rising, which takes priority over eating and digestion (this too requires as a lot of blood and fluids). This explains the feeling of nausea or even being sick if you have a heavy meal (this also happens when you are in a "fight or flight" situation or when you are doing sports). While a cold meal is appealing, you might not have enough blood and weak Agni (digestive fire) to digest it.

Tips and remedies for the summer:

  1. stay cool, do not exercise when you are already hot, do not sunbathe when the sun is at its peak (11am-4pm generally).
  2. wear clothing made with naturally breathable fibers with a cooling effect, such as linen and cotton. 
  3. eat light meals, in particular vegetables like dark leafy greens and cooling herbs such as coriander, fennel seeds, and fenugreek. Eat what is in season, snack on fresh seasonal fruit and smoothies (no milk).
  4. drink plenty of water, you could add a drop of lime juice or some mint leaves which have cooling properties. Ayurveda suggests drinking buttermilk, or chaas, during the summer. You can find some recipes here and Ayurvedic recipes for the doshas in my e-book.
  5. Avoid alcohol which will increase heat and stress to the liver (Pitta organ).
  6. Avoid iced drinks especially with your meal as this will weaken your digestive fire even further.
  7. Cool your senses:
    1. Smell:  Apply cooling, sweet, bitter essential oils like natural rose, vetiver (khus), or sandalwood to your neck, palms, and solar plexus and adorn your home with fresh, fragrant flowers. Instead of perfume (most are synthetics) you can try blending some cooling diluted essential oil that will calm Pitta:  Rose, Fennel, and Sandalwood, with smaller amounts of soothing oils such as Ylang Ylang and Frankincense and some uplifting oils such as Lemon or Peppermint. 
    2. Taste: balance excess pitta with bitter, astringent, sweet, and cooling foods (milk and ghee) and herbs including anti-inflammatory herbs like amalaki. Cut down on sour, salty, or spicy foods.
    3. Sight: give your eyes (site of Pitta) a rest from electronic equipment, books, and tv; instead look at colling colors in nature: white, blue, green, silver, and gray. To relieve burning eyes, before bedtime massage coconut oil into the scalp and sole of the feet and place a drop of castor oil in each eye. 
    4. Touch: the skin is already working hard and soaps can irritate and dry the skin further, use only natural cooling soaps such as coconut or sandalwood soaps/body wash. Massage your skin with cooking oils such as coconut oil. Rose water is also very refreshing and is an herb for the liver (Pitta organ).
  8. instead of using suntan lotion which contains large amounts of chemicals, you could opt for natural sunblock by mixing castor oil and neem oil in equal parts and apply to the exposed skin. While it will protect and nurture the skin, you can still get sunburn hence do not stay out in the sun for too long. 
  9. If you do get sunburn mix aloe vera and coconut oil in equal parts and apply onto the irritated skin. Aloe vera is great for sunburn and burns in general.
  10. Finally, practice meditation, cooling pranayama such as Sitali and listen to soft ambient music and devotional songs to calm your heart and soothe your spirit.

Italian Summer Lunch: Stuffed tomatoes.

This italian studded tomatoes are my go to during the summer, not too heavy, tasty and refreshing. Traditionally we use very large tomatoes (what in UK are called beef tomatoes) or you could use small tomatoes to create bite size or finger food ideal for a summer buffet/picnic. 

You will need: Risotto rice, stock,  Parsley, garlic, salt, pepper,  garlic, olive oil.

Method:

Cook risotto rice with some stock or seasoning, until nearly cooked.

While the rice is cooking prepare the tomatoes.

  • Cut neatly the top of the tomatoes, keep the tops.
  • Remove the pulp from the tomatoes, finely chopped it up or place it in food processor to a fine soupy consistency, save it for later.
  • Season the emptied tomatoes with salt.
  • Once the rice is semi-cooked, remove from the heat.
  • Mix the rice with the pulp from the tomatoes, and add the spices, oregano, salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic to taste (you could use onions or spring onions (or wild garlic) instead of garlic).

Other options:

  1. For an Indian flavour instead add ginger,  turmeric, cumin and coriander and you could use coconut oil instead of olive oil.  
  2. For a spanish twist you can add saffron to the rice while cooking; very little or no origano at all if you want to taste the saffron; once finished cooking, when out of the oven, squeeze some lemon or lime juice on top just before serving.
  •  Stuff the tomatoes with the rice mixture and put the tomatoes tops back on.
  • Cook in the oven until the skin of the tomatoes become darker andthe tops and slightly crispy. My mum used to make a mixture of bread crumbs, garlic, and parsley to sprinkle on top before going into the oven, it's just a little detail that makes them so much tastier. 

Once cooked, sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley (coriander for Indian flavour) and serve. They can be served straight from the oven or later at room temperature.

They make a great snack for the beach, lunch at work or a picnic.

 

Heatwave and your heart

At the moment in the UK we are having a heat-wave with temperatures reaching 30C (unusual for the UK).

What happens to us during this times of hot weather?
You will probably feel hot, sweating, tiredness, fatigue, and symptoms can vary from migraines to confusion, heat stroke, ultimately too much heat put your heart under stress.

A medical article from Harvard Health Publishing explains what happens:

Like water flowing downhill, heat naturally moves from warm areas to cooler ones. As long as the air around you is cooler than your body, you radiate heat to the air. But this transfer stops when the air temperature approaches body temperature.

Your body shouldn’t get too hot (or too cold). If your temperature rises too far, the proteins that build your body and run virtually all of its chemical processes can stop working. The human body sheds extra heat in two ways, both of which stress the heart:

Radiation requires rerouting blood flow so more of it goes to the skin. This makes the heart beat faster and pump harder. On a hot day, it may circulate two to four times as much blood each minute as it does on a cool day.

Evaporation. Every molecule of sweat that evaporates from your skin whisks away heat. On a dry day, the evaporation of a teaspoon of sweat could cool your entire bloodstream by 2 degrees F. But as the humidity creeps above 75% or so, there’s so much water vapor in the air that evaporation becomes increasingly difficult.

Evaporation also strains the cardiovascular system. Sweat pulls more than heat from the body—it also pulls out sodium, potassium, and other minerals needed for muscle contractions, nerve transmissions, and water balance. To counter these losses, the body begins secreting hormones that help the body hold onto water and minimize mineral losses.

Their recommendations are:

  • Take it easy and choose cooler times for activities.
  • Cooling down air is the best way to beat the heat. Fans, baths, etc.
  • Drink to your health. 
  • Eat light. Smaller meals, smoothies, salads, and fruits will also give you extra fluids and minerals.

How all of this translate in Ayurvedic terms?

Excess heat very much relates to excess Pitta.

We can experience all the signs of excess Pitta including being more irritable, overly reactive, intense, egotistical or have a hot temper. 


With the excess heat, the heart bits faster to help the body cool down. As the heart beats faster, the tip of your tongue will be red (signs of fire element) and the liver, a Pitta organ, may become fatigued. 
The fact that the heart is beating faster, denotes movement, hence an increase of Vata dosha too.

As we see the recommendations from Harvard's article very much follow what Ayurveda says: opposite qualities bring balance.

Excercise put heart under stress and increases body heat, hence any exercise should be done during the colder hours.

Ayurveda has specific recommendations regarding Pitta balancing exercises/practices that includes cooling pranayama and meditation.

I see people running, cycling, etc when outside temperatures are reaching 28C (or higher), is this type of exercise in this weather conditions healthy or balancing?

Cooling down through your skin (the largest organ in our body) with bath in the sea, lake or river (or bathtub), isn't it wonderful? This brings the element of water which is the element that balance both Pitta and Vata. 

Drinking to your health with water: Wine, sugary and alcoholic drinks increase heat and dehydration.

Eat light: add the elements of cold, wet, moist to balance the heat of Pitta. This is the season for salads, smoothies, fresh seasonal fruit like watermelon (to eat on its own), and even ice cream (which normally is a no, no, in Ayurveda).

Eat a Pitta pacifying diet and follow a Pitta-balancing routine. Add cooling herbs and spices to your meals like coriander, fennel, or mint and lime juice, avocado, and coconut.

The practice of self-massage reduces stress to the heart, however, use oils with cooling properties such as coconut oil or castor oil.

We can see how modern medicine and Ayurveda do say similar things, however, Ayurveda has a more holistic view and can include more specific guidance and practices, including diet, massage, yoga, meditation and pranayama.

A reminder from Yoga: always practice the 8 limbs of yoga of Patanjali, in particular, Ahimsa: do no harm to yourself nor to others. 


The practice of awareness will show you what to do.

Our body has its own intelligence, we need to learn to listen to it.