Kategorie-Archiv: Food

Have a Happy Spring

By Vishakha Moghe

 

Picture Credits: Kaustubh Surve
Picture Credits: Kaustubh Surve

One of the biggest changes as winter comes to an end is the rising temperature and the increasing body heat that follows. The transition from winter to spring and spring to summer is one of the most interesting and important one.  Spring is said to be the season in which Kapha dosha dominates in our body. As the accumulated snow begins to melt with the rising heat, the accumulated Ama (undigested food) in the body also begins to slowly liquefy. The increased Kapha too that melts, clogs the ‘Srotas’ (micro circulatory channels) in the body. This leads to a lot of Ama-related diseases which are a result of diminished Jatharagni (digestive fire).

Winter is the healthiest season of the year owing to the favorable weather conditions. The cold usually keeps the Pitta dosha in control thus preventing Pitta-related disorders. The Kapha dosha begins to accumulate in the body with the increasing cold without causing too many problems. The aggravated Vata however, causes Vataja Vikara like Joint and Muscular pain, Dry Skin and Arthritis. As spring arrives, all the winter-related disorders come under control and the diseases caused by liquefying Kapha take over. The most common spring problems are allergies, rhinitis, sinusitis, indigestion, asthma, cold and cough.

Spring Allergies
Spring Allergies

Annually, millions of people fall prey to seasonal allergies or seasonal allergic rhinitis which is most common with the onset of spring. People cannot enjoy spring due to constant sneezing and sniffling. Fortunately, Ayurvedic scriptures already have a mention of the solution to all such problems. It is brilliant, how carefully this science was designed ages back bringing forth the most intricate details that hold relevance even in today’s age.

As per Ayurveda, the duration from mid March to mid May constitutes the Vasant Ritu or Spring season. The body’s natural tendency is to flush out the toxins by liquefying the Kapha. Hence, we must assist in helping the body get rid of the toxins by taking measures that can keep us healthy and happy for a long time. When spring sets in, Ayurveda advises certain lifestyle modifications that can keep the seasonal ailments in check.

 

1. Honey should become an integral part of our daily routine. It should be consumed early in the morning on an empty stomach as it helps in controlling Kapha dosha.

 

Picture Credits: www.stevenaitchinson.co.uk.
Picture Credits: www.stevenaitchinson.co.uk.

2. Kick start your mornings by performing Jalaneti with moderately warm, saline water. This clears the nasal passages and sinuses and further prevents accumulation of mucus.

3. Oil massage followed by Udvartan (dry powder massage) with Chandan, Aguru ensures protection of the skin from Kapha-related skin disorders. It also improves the immunity by strengthening the body.

4. Asava, Arishta (Ayurvedic self-generating alcoholic preparations), Sidhu, Mardvik should be consumed on a daily basis in moderate quantity. It’s best to consume them during the Kapha time which is from 6 am to 10 am. People who have a hot constitution should consume them in limits and with caution.

5. Grains that have been stored for a long period of time should be consumed. The older they get, the richer and lighter they are to digest. Intake of Jowar (Hordeum vulgare) and Barley also has been proved to improve immunity.

Picture Credits: www.curiouscuisiniere.com
Picture Credits: www.curiouscuisiniere.com

6. Moderate to heavy exercise is advisable for those with good strength. Exercise helps the body to get rid of excess Kapha dosha and it also eliminates toxins from the skin through sweat.

7. Sipping on warm water occasionally throughout the day is highly recommended as this helps the body digest excess Ama and Kapha.

8. Day sleep is strictly contraindicated as this could lead to an increased Kapha dosha, thus leading to further aggravation of Kapha.

9. Vasant ritu is the season for periodic body cleansing as the body’s natural tendency is to do so. Ayurveda recommends body cleansing during Vasant in the form of Vaman (Emesis) or induced vomiting under expert supervision to eliminate body toxins. The other procedures to be performed are Dhumapana (Herbal Smoking), Gandusha (Oil Pulling) and Nasya (Nasal oil therapy), all under an Ayurvedic practitioner’s guidance.

10. Generous use of spices like dry and fresh ginger, turmeric, garlic, onions that can help digest Ama should be made.

Picture Credits: Shutterstock
Picture Credits: Shutterstock

With some wise modifications in diet and lifestyle, everyone can dream of living a disease-free spring.

Ayurvedafinder wishes all its readers a “Happy Spring”!

 

 

About The Author

 

dsc_0440-11Vishakha is an Ayurvedic practitioner, yoga counselor and a passionate traveler. She lays emphasis on living a healthy life by nourishing the body and mind with wholesome and natural food, meditation and yogic techniques. An Indian at heart, she aims at propagating the goodness of the Indian culture across the seven seas and stimulating thoughts by creating a hunger for knowledge.

The Importance of Vata

By Bindi Shah

 

I came into practicing and teaching meditation through my interest in Vayu and how this element affects our everyday life. I learned during my Ayurveda studies that there is a major force which governs our mind and therefore our body. This major force is called Vayu, or the vital function of life. The great sage, Acharya Charaka, likened Vayu to God, so great did he see its importance to the world.

Importance of Vayu in Charak Samhita.
Importance of Vayu in Charak Samhita.

Vayu can be translated from the Sanskrit to mean ‘movement’. In the natural world Vayu is present in the flow of rivers, burning of fire, rain, movement of the planets and stars, the formation of clouds, the growth of plants and the climate. An imbalanced Vayu leads to fierce winds, earthquakes, natural disasters, and climatic changes.

Effects of Vata in Nature
Effects of Vata in Nature

In the individual, Vayu is the binding force behind the dhatus, the structural form of the body; it stimulates the agni, the digestive fire; it expels the waste products of the body; it is responsible for the sense organs and for the happiness and energy of the person. The Vayu in the body is known as Vata and an increase or imbalanced vata does not make a happy person. Too much vata in the person can lead to a reduction in strength of the body; an irregular appetite and digestion; a feeling of being unrooted and not stable; depression, anxiety, fear and general mental instability.

There are four ways in which this state of Vata can be balanced.

1. Changing the quality of food taken.

2. Purvakarma therapies of oleation (oil therapies).

3. Undertaking a regime of yoga and pranayama (breathing techniques).

4. Meditation and adopting a positive outlook of life.

The qualities of vayu or vata are dry, cold, and light. This means that the quality of food we intake should be less dry and cold foods, such as salads and we should eat more more warming foods, such as soups.

Nourishing, Warm Foods
Nourishing, Warm Foods

Purvakarma therapies in the form of oil therapies should be regularly taken in a person where the Vata has become imbalanced. The main oil therapy in Ayurveda is Abhyanga, or the full body oil application. Warm oil is applied to the body and downward strokes given. The qualities of oil are unctuous and warm so the opposite of dry and cold. These qualities along with the downward stokes, which move the  Vata away from the mind and towards the feet therefore grounding the person, effectively balance the Vata. In fact the oil therapies are so effective that the person can feel the benefits of the decrease in Vata after the first treatment.

The third main way in which Vata can be balanced is by undertaking a practice of yoga and pranayama. The ancient science of yoga goes hand in hand with the teachings of Ayurveda. Yoga asanas or postures work deeply with the breath of the person thus directly with the prana or vital life-force of the person. Each posture focuses on the breath to come into or come out of the posture, and this helps the person control their breathing. By deep breathing we are automatically relaxing the body and balancing our prana or the Vata which has become increased.

A simple breathing technique or pranayama is deep breathing with a longer exhalation than inhalation. This is excellent to relax the body and great to do before any stressful situations, such as job interviews or exams.

Sit as relaxed as possible and start to listen to the breath. Then inhale to a count of five and exhale to a longer count of ten. Do not worry if your exhalation seems too short to begin with and you cannot last the full count of ten. This will improve the more you practise and the main objective is to exhale longer than you inhale so even if you reach seven or eight counts, that is fine.

Another essential life breathing exercise which can be learnt by anyone and the effects felt almost immediately is Nadi-Sudhi.

Again try and sit in a relaxed state, and start to listen to your breath. Inhale deeply through the left nostril by closing the right, then close the left nostril and exhale the air out of the right. Then inhale from the right nostril and exhale out of the left. This is one round. The first stage of Nadi-Sudhi is not to worry how long you are inhaling or exhaling but to just inhale and exhale to your maximum capacity.

Both of these two breathing techniques will decrease Vata and help bring about calm.

The fourth way to balance Vata in the body is by Meditation. In my opinion this ancient art in your daily routine, will allow you to bring more joy into your life. Meditation works by changing the mindset of the person. Being in the moment, allowing positive thoughts in, expressing gratitude are all aspects of a meditative practice and will help you grow and maintain a positive outlook.

In combination these four techniques of eating differently, oil therapies, yoga and meditation can greatly benefit the vayu by regulating it and not letting it become imbalanced. This will in turn balance the mind and thus the body.  In our overly busy and rushed world, we all need to decrease our increased Vata. Try one of the methods today, your body and mind will love you for it.

 

About the Author

 

Bindi-Profile-Pic1

Bindi’s journey to her soul offerings started in 2001 with a visit to an Ayurveda retreat in India. After discovering how good it felt to receive deep natural health-care and what a difference this made to her life, she embarked on a course in India to learn more of this ancient art. The year-long study in India included theory from the ancient scriptures, learning the poetic language of Sanskrit, Vedic-astrology, Yoga, Meditation and Herbs. It was an amazing experience and on returning to London, she set up her business helping people with the knowledge she had gained. Bindi has wonderful soul offerings in her online school and is writing her first book based on life coaching techniques which have helped her and her clients.

www.bindishah.com

 

Eat Your Way To A Healthy Body And A Sound Mind

 

By Vishakha Moghe

“The only species that becomes nutritionally deficient is the human species. And we do so because we’ve completely lost touch with the inner wisdom of our bodies.”

Ayurveda has this wonderful way of explaining how we as human beings are unique from every other human being on the planet. This applies to the Prakruti (body constitution), the mental makeup and the eating habits. Eating does not mean feeding your body to sustain it; eating is an art and one must master it.  How often do we carefully pick what we eat and concentrate on how our body assimilates it? Hardly ever! And that’s exactly where our problems begin.

Intelligent food is that which is full of “Prana”(life), energy and strength. It has the power to influence your consciousness and thoughts. At the same time, food brings anger, happiness and contentment depending on the way it is cooked and on the vibrations of the person who cooks it. The quality of food literally affects your mind, body and your thoughts. When you are aware of the qualities of foods you eat, you are being a conscious and a wise eater.  But with all the chaos going on in our heads, we miss out on these simple pleasures of life.

Picture Source: www.shutterstock.com
Picture Source: www.shutterstock.com

How to be a Wise Eater?

1. Love the regional food- Food is life, it is the source of energy and it is an entity that has been wisely created by nature. Foods that are whole, unadulterated and that grow in your own region have the highest nutritive value and are intelligent in nature. Traditionally, Indians used to eat a fair amount of Bajra (Pearl Millet), Jowar (Sorghum) and Ragi (Finger Millet). These foods were packed with health, antioxidants and nutrition. We need to revive our love for traditional foods which is the only way we can save our future generations from hoards of allergies, nutrition deficiencies and other health problems.

Picture Source: www.yogadelmar.com
Picture Source: www.yogadelmar.com

2. Include all six tastes in your meal- When your body craves unhealthy food, it’s because your body isn’t getting its dose of all the six tastes namely- Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter and Astringent. So it’s important that we include foods that fall under each category. Also, you should always begin your meal with something sweet and then eat the other foods one-by- one in the above mentioned order.

3. Minimize restaurant eating- No matter how much a restaurant claims to use safe ingredients and healthy cooking measures, restaurant food can be far from safe and healthy. Most of the time, we are unaware of the source of the ingredients esp. when the foods are animal-based. The kind of cooking oils used, the nature of the ingredients whether they are freshly bought or have been stored in the freezer for a long time is unknown to us. It’s always a better option to eat freshly cooked home food.

4. Avoid stale foods- Foods that are cooked in the morning can be eaten at night but foods that have been cooked at night shouldn’t be eaten in the morning since they turn stale due to night’s tamasik Also, the nutrients in the food die out. Stale food increases acid secretion that in turn worsens diseases like hyperacidity, digestive disorders and other ama-related disorders.

Picture Source: www.banyanbotanicals.com
Picture Source: www.banyanbotanicals.com

5. Eat the five main Sattvik foods in their natural, organic form when possible- Milk, Ghee, Honey, Fruit, Almonds. Milk is revered in Ayurvedic philosophy as a complete food.

6. Avoid eating canned and frozen foods- Every living food is full of Prana when it’s fresh. Food that has been frozen or preserved is devoid of prana. How much prana is present in a particular food is dependent on the length of time it has been frozen. As a rule of thumb, if your food hasn’t seen sunlight in a while, it’s best to reduce your consumption of that food or eliminate it from your diet altogether.

So many of us complain about our lack of energy, increased sluggishness and exhaustion; this is where the energy actually starts to manifest. Feed your body and mind with natural, prana-rich foods that have the power to entirely change the way you think and look at your body. Not only that, start maintaining a routine and sticking to it whole-heartedly. Eating is a sacred act of filling your body with good energy and life. The love, joy and happiness you feel while cooking it will bring the energy back into your life.

So vow to start eating your way to a healthy body and a sound mind!

 

 

dsc_0440-11

Vishakha is an Ayurvedic practitioner, yoga counselor and a passionate traveler. She lays emphasis on living a healthy life by nourishing the body and mind with wholesome and natural food, meditation and yogic techniques. An Indian at heart, she aims at propagating the goodness of the Indian culture across the seven seas and stimulating thoughts by creating a hunger for knowledge.

Eat Wise, Eat Wholesome; Embrace Health

By Vishakha Moghe

We are in a modern era. Modern technology, modern farming techniques, modern lifestyle, modern everything! How could the food aspect remain untouched then? Human beings are constantly evolving and this evolution has led to an alteration in the food-eating habits. Evolution of human beings also means evolution of everything that revolves around us. The nature of soil, the quality of the produce that grows in there and the characteristic of the end product that is served on our platters is a topic of concern for every food expert who has a traditional and holistic approach.

Fad weight loss schemes, modern eating tips and those 31-day diet plans are based on the erroneous notion that eating an abundance of a specific type of foods can lead to better health. On the contrary, the age-old Science of Ayurveda has quoted about a 5000 years ago that it is only a wholesome diet plan that includes the widest possible range of foods that can lay a strong foundation for a healthy body. The very important aspect that needs to be taken care of before choosing to eat a particular type of food in abundance is the Prakruti (body constitution) of the person consuming it. Every subject is unique; the food habits should thus vary from person-to-person according to the Prakruti.

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Picture Courtesy: www.motherearthnews.com

Ayurveda defines wholesome food as the kind of food that balances the seven dhatus (tissues) and the three doshas (humors). The one that causes disarray in any of these is considered unwholesome. This is a very simplistic approach. During ancient times, the different categories of food including their origin were based on the occupation of the people consuming it. Vedic culture was predominately vegetarian in higher levels of society; nevertheless the ruling and warrior classes would generally eat meat. However, Ayurveda also understood the great nutritive value of animals and animal products. Normally, they used milk, butter, and ghee as the main source of animal proteins, but when the situation demanded, they prescribed animal products to quickly build back the strength of a person. The larger focus should be on eating the food that the body really needs, not on eating what merely satisfies the taste buds.

pinterestTraditional Indian Thali (Platter); Picture Courtesy: Pinterest

Food rasas(tastes) are classified into six categories by Ayurveda namely, Madhura(Sweet), Amla(Sour), Lavana(Salty), Katu(Pungent), Tikta(Bitter), Kashaya(Astringent). It isn’t just one of the meals that should consist of all the six tastes; every meal that we consume should have a blend of food items that possess the above tastes. Each taste has an intimate relationship with the doshas and the body constitution. Sweet or madhura taste is a builder of tissues that are formed from Prithvi(Earth) and Jala(Water). Hence, sweet substances strengthen Kapha. An overload of sweets, on the other hand, can create a Kapha imbalance, which needs to be corrected with pungent, bitter and astringent tastes and warming foods. Salty, Sour and Pungent tastes in the right quantity strengthen Pitta thus boosting its functions of carrying out the metabolic processes. An excess of these tastes, however, aggravates Pitta and needs balancing out with sweet, cooling foods. Pungent, bitter and astringent tastes in excess increase Vata and other functions related to movement, penetration and cleansing of channels. If you need to pacify Vata, therefore, you need to focus on the sweet, sour and salty tastes and eat more warm foods.

The other important aspects to be kept in mind before you chalk out your diet plan are:

1) Effects of combining 2 different food items ex. Milk and Fruits; Hot and Cold Foods;   Curds and Raw foods like Cucumber, Tomato are unhealthy combinations.
2) The places and climatic conditions for consuming a particular type of food.
3) The effects of consuming a particular food in a particular season.
4)Use of artificial flavors, preservatives, chemicals and colors.

Good nutrition according to Caraka Samhita (treatise on Ayurveda) is eating the right kind of food, with the right beverage, at the right time of the day, with the right company, in the right frame of mind and at the right place. The sages during ancient times also inferred that people who eat less quantities of food or the quantity of food that is enough to create energy and nourish all the bodily tissues and organs, lived longer than their counterparts. The method to determine whether you are eating the right quantity is to eat until your first burp; that’s your body’s signal to stop. If you keep eating past this point on a regular basis, you’re reducing your life span by over-burdening your system. The stomach also requires space to perform its functions by mixing the food with digestive secretions. The golden rule is to stop at the first sign of a burp and avoid the heaviness in the body that might follow later.

We’ve also lost track of a lot of important facts that need to be reminded to us time and again. Animal foods undoubtedly contain high quantities of proteins and minerals, but are we sure if we really need the protein? Thanks to the sedentary lifestyle devoid of physical activity and hard work, where is the need of “a lot of protein” arising from?

 

shutterstock_126744206_@721Picture Courtesy: Shutterstock

Traditional and local foods have long lost their importance too. The traditional food habits have been established over a period of long research and experience by our ancestors and the genetic makeup of our body has been altered by the region wise climatic changes and eating habits. So there are fair chances of a person in the Northern part of a country falling ill quite often, if he consistently follows a diet pattern other than the one followed in his region. Locally grown foods are higher in “Prana” (vital energy present in foods) because they don’t have to be shipped or stored for longer periods and can be bought-tree ripened. It’s also important to chop vegetables and cook them fresh at every meal. Buying pre-chopped vegetables means that you have already lost some prana.

Avoid eating processed, canned, frozen, bottled and fermented food. This kind of food is considered to be “dead” according to the traditional medicine. To add further, it has been heavily treated with chemicals and preservatives and is too old to be healthy.

shutterstock_230510470Picture Courtesy: Shutterstock

Raw foods are heavier to assimilate; Agni Sanskar (cooking/roasting/frying) renders food easy to digest and process. Our kitchen also consists of a variety of spices that again differ region-wise. We must make use of all these traditional spices while cooking our meals as this makes the foods more palatable, digestible and also creates energy.

Vegetarians can get their daily protein requirement from fresh cow/buffalo milk, tofu, paneer, lassi (yoghurt drink) and nuts like dates, almonds, walnuts and cashews provided they are soaked first or cooked with grains to make them more digestible. Vegetarian food is healthier and easier to digest as compared to animal-based foods and hence it is considered superior in many ways. But for non-vegetarians, if they follow all the dietary rules while feasting upon a non-vegetarian meal, they too can lead a healthy life!

Apart from all the dietary rules, it’s essential to be in a healthy atmosphere amidst favorable company while eating your food. The frame of mind that one is in, overpowers all the other factors that have been mentioned above. Restaurant food comes from unknown sources, we are rarely aware of how the food was cooked, who cooked the food and in what frame of mind the whole process occurred. It goes without saying that eating restaurant food frequently does more harm than we can imagine! Also, eat food in a settled atmosphere, avoid using the phone while munching on the food, avoid watching the TV or listening to music as you eat your meal. All these activities lead to sluggish digestion in turn leading to the production of an undigested food product (Ama), which is nothing less than a toxin and damages your body in the long run. Leave your responsibilities at the door — and instead revel in the beautiful colors, tastes, smells and textures of the food. All of this amounts to respecting your food and your digestion, and will help create the kind of light, clear, vital feeling that good food is meant to do.

Ayurvedafinder says, Eat Wise; Eat Wholesome: Embrace Health!

 

 

About the author

Processed with VSCOVishakha is an Ayurveda practitioner, Yoga counselor and a passionate traveler​. She lays emphasis on living a healthy life by nourishing the body and mind with wholesome and natural food, meditation and yogic techniques. An Indian at heart, she aims at propagating the goodness of the Indian culture across the seven seas and stimulating thoughts by creating a hunger for knowledge.