Ayurvedic Cleansing versus the Fad of Cleansing

I wanted to take a few moments this week to address the “fad of cleansing” that is popular in our culture, and to differentiate the Ayurvedic approach from what feels to me like a ubiquitous modern cleanse obsession.

Ayurveda like many preventive health systems uses periodic cleansing as a form of health management, specifically to boost our immunity. We accumulate toxins from our environment, from poor dietary and lifestyle choices, from chronically over-eating (regardless of whether we gain weight) and from the excesses of a particular season. Cleansing between seasons supports our body in releasing that excess, leaving us better prepared to deal with external pathogens in our environment. Constitution-tailored cleansing is an effective way to support our body’s natural self-healing and immunity..

And that’s the thing: constitution-tailored. Ayurveda is the opposite of one size fits all. Dietary fads are just that because they popularize something that worked very well for one type of person, but don’t work well across the board. Not only that, but Ayurveda recognizes how the seasons affect us, and makes shifts in what we’re doing based on those seasonal and environmental differences both externally, and internally (inner season = “life stage”). The same cleanse we might undertake […]

Preparing to Cleanse–a Gentle but Powerful Reset

Prajna paradha is a sanskrit term which is translates as, “crimes against wisdom.” It refers to the ways we willingly go against our body’s intelligence–like when we go to bed too late even though we’re tired; drink too much alcohol even though it makes us feel headachy in the morning; overeat even though we feel sick afterwards, etc. etc.
Don’t waste your time feeling guilty about your prajna paradha– we all do this from time to time. The questions to ask might be: “Why do I do this?” and “How do I get back on track with myself?”
Perhaps the chosen behavior didn’t always affect you adversely, or maybe you didn’t notice the consequences like you do now.  It’s possible everyone around you does it and so you go along with the program even though it doesn’t work for you anymore. Perhaps there is an initial thrill before the “fall” and you keep chasing that thrill even though the fall always follows. Maybe you’re stressed out, and the instant gratification you get from staying up too late, or eating the whole bag of chips makes you feel better for a moment. But not for long. And there’s the rub.
‘We can limit ourselves […]

Ayurveda for Summer

Did you know that in the summer our digestive power is at a yearly low? That’s because the extra heat outside causes heat within our bodies to disperse towards the periphery to keep us cool. Less heat in the center, means less heat to digest our food and a corresponding lower appetite. We can support balance this season by going with the natural desire to eat lighter foods and less quantity. Here are some other simple tips and easy recipes for summer.

Eating Tips for Summer:

Substitute lime for lemon: lemon is too acidic and will increase heat in the body.
Enjoy cool but not iced cold drinks: iced cold beverages constrict the digestive organs and take energy to heat up–energy that’s already less available this time of year.
Eliminate garlic: too heating. Enjoy it again in the fall.
Reduce fermented foods (kombucha, yogurt, sourkraut): The sour taste increases heat in the body, so decrease amounts and frequency while it’s hot out or eliminate it all together this season.
Eat heartily from the local farmer’s markets.

Summer Breakfast–Fresh Fruit and Nuts:

Berries
Cherries
Apricots
Peaches
Handful of soaked nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans…soaked overnight, rinsed and added)
A sprinkle of grated coconut

Wash fruit and slice or pit. Add all ingredients to a bowl and dig in!
Summer Cooler–Pomegranate Spritzer:

3 oz Pomegranate […]

By |July 9th, 2019|Ayurveda, digestion, disease prevention, healthy eating|0 Comments

Ayurveda for Mid-Spring

For us in the Northern Hemisphere, May Day signals the half-way point between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. In the Northwest U.S. the weather is vacillating between warm-hot days and cooler, cloudy nights. Now is a good time to shift your routine to support your adaptation to the longer, warmer days.

DIET: Make it a little lighter overall ( enjoy heavy foods like nuts, dairy, wheat and meat less often, and in less quantity). Add fresh salads, ideally at room temperature at your mid-day meal, when your digestion is stronger. and with a dressing of cold-pressed olive oil, lemon and fresh pressed garlic, black pepper and salt to taste. Enjoy local organic berries as they become available, and eat more bitter greens (artichokes, kale, collards, mustard) to support your liver. Bitter herbs like turmeric, burdock and those found in teas such as yogi tea detox are also good now. A happy liver means clearer skin, less heat in the body and more emotional balance.

ASANA: Twists, prone back-bends, abdominal work like agni sara and nauli with attention to clearing the eyes will help release stagnation, keep you cool and support your digestion.

MEDITATION: 5 – 15 […]

Why Cleanse?

Ayurvedic Physician Dr. Robert Svoboda says, 

We can either limit ourselves a little bit willingly, or Nature will do that for us in the form of illness.  Cleansing is an opportunity to slow down, reset your digestive system and release any toxic accumulation in your body or mind. Good digestion is at the heart of good health. When we habitually over-eat, eat when we’re not hungry, or eat unhealthy foods, or foods that we can’t digest well, we weaken our digestive capacity and our overall health. When we don’t take time to slow down and digest our lives, our minds get agitated and negative.

Ayurveda teaches that spring is a great time to gently detoxify, helping to release the excesses of winter to help ward off allergies, colds and congestion and let go of excess weight. This process lightens and brightens our minds as well as our bodies.

Ayurvedic cleansing is unique in several ways. For one, we don’t only eliminate the bad stuff, we also increase our self-care and intake of nourishing foods/drinks throughout the process. We also make changes gradually so as not to shock our system (even a positive change is disruptive to the body’s […]

How Digestion is not just about Digestion

I’ve been talking about digestion these past couple of weeks–we’ve been looking at what to eat, and how to eat, at agni–digestive fire–and ama–undigested food that is toxic to the body. Still, it’s important to understand that digestion is not just about digestion. 

How is digestion not just about digestion? Well, In Ayurveda we recognize 6 stages to the disease process, and the first 2 happen in the digestive tract. These patterns of indigestion (below) are our first sign that things are out of whack. Catch and treat it here and you have stopped the disease process in it’s tracks. If we ignore it or simply cover over the symptoms, we drive the imbalance deeper into our system creating the seeds for a more serious health issue down the road. Seriously, taking care of the belching and farting is soooo much easier than dealing with colitis or IBS or a cancer.

So, you see, digestion is not just about digestion—it’s also about the roots of our good or poor health going forward. Untreated digestive issues lead to deeper issues within the gut (ulcers, colitis, IBS, cancers) but also to deeper systemic issues due to the AMA (undigested food that is toxic to the […]

By |February 19th, 2019|Ayurveda, digestion, disease prevention, health, healthy eating, yoga|0 Comments

How to Heal Your Digestion

“When diet is right, medicine is of no need; when diet is wrong, medicine is of no use.” -Ayurvedic Proverb 

The root of health is good digestion and good digestion begins with strong AGNI. Agni means “fire” and it exists in every cell of our body, governing all metabolic activity. The central bodily Agni, like the pilot light in your oven, is located in the gut. 

Caring for agni is like building a fire at the beginning of each day. You begin with a little kindling. For breakfast, we have just enough to satisfy, without overwhelming.  A warm, light meal is best when it’s cold out.  As the fire builds in intensity, we can add more wood. Eating heavier foods at the mid day meal  when your hunger is stronger will ensure better digestion than those same heavy foods in the morning or at night.

We experience agni as hunger. Real hunger is that feeling in the belly that signals we need to eat. When we’re on the verge of getting sick we lose our appetite, and when our health is returning, our appetite returns. A central way to care for agni, and thereby our overall health, is to eat only when hungry. 

Learn […]

By |February 13th, 2019|digestion, disease prevention, health, healthy eating|0 Comments

What Should I Eat?

This past weekend I had the honor of presenting Ayurveda to a group of yoga teacher trainees on Vashon Island. We spent 6 1/2 hours together learning about the origin and underlying philosophies that support Ayurveda and about our unique constitution and how to care for it. Right away folks wanted to know what to eat for their type.

Diet is one of the three pillars of health in Ayurveda, and like everything ayurvedic, it is customized to the individual and changes as our environment changes (seasonal shifts, our present climate) and as our inner environment changes (stress level, age, present state of balance/imbalance). So the answer to a simple question like what should I eat?  is, “It depends….”That being said, there are some general guidelines:

Eat a whole foods diet: ditch frozen, canned and processed food and favor whole grains, fresh meats, fresh fruits and vegetables (always local and in season when possible) and understand the dirty dozen and clean 15—those few foods that the have the most and least chemical residues on them, so you know where to invest your dollars on organic, and where it’s safe to eat conventional.  Fresh and local trumps organic in my book, with the exception of the dirty dozen. In […]

By |February 6th, 2019|Ayurveda, digestion, disease prevention, health, healthy eating|0 Comments

Ayurveda for Fall

 We are nearing the autumnal equinox, a time of balanced day/night, and an official marking of the fall season. Today I am sending along a Fall Balancing Tip Sheet that I hope will support you in making shifts to your daily diet/rhythms as we change seasons. Find it HERE.
If you’re needing help in crafting daily rituals that support and balance your body/mind, join me next week for my 10-week online course, Sacred Daily Essentials. We’ll be getting clear on our unique constitutions and how to recognize and treat the inevitable imbalances that arise and so much more. Find out about Sacred Daily EssentialsHERE. 

It’s actually fairly simple to understand ourselves enough to know which activities and diets lead to balance and ease and which lead to dis-ease and unhappiness. It can be more challenging to make the necessary changes once we see what we need to do. This is where the power of community comes in–a committed group of travelers moving along together with similar goals, making small changes one step at a time. This and the wisdom teachings of a healing art like Ayurveda and some guidance on its core principles can make all the difference between actually making the changes we need to make, creating the life that we most long […]

By |September 21st, 2018|Ayurveda, disease prevention, health, healthy eating, yoga|0 Comments

Self Care is the New Health Care

Every summer after my annual yoga retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, I enjoy a 1/2 speed work life through July and August. In my line of work, things slow down. I see fewer folks at yoga class and in my private practice, so it’s an opportunity for me to enjoy the season and have some fun. During “summer vacation,” I spend more time outside, travel to see friends, enjoy some outdoor concerts and other entertainment and “clock out” on the early side more times than not.
This past week I’ve been coming off of a month of celebrations: birthdays, an annual visit to my home town to be with my ladies, a visit from my dad… and while this has all been fun for me, it has also taken it’s toll. For one thing, I have consumed more alcohol than I probably will for the rest of the year and then some. That and being off rhythm through travel, eating out more, and hosting has left me with a general fatigue and sluggishness in my body/mind. Ayurveda teaches that if we follow a healthy daily routine, then when we indulge during festivities, our body can bounce back pretty easily. I translate this teaching […]

By |August 31st, 2018|Ayurveda, digestion, disease, disease prevention, health, healthy eating, yoga|0 Comments

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