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31 Aug

Ayurveda and Walking

An important part of the Ayurvedic lifestyle is the morning walk.  Ayurveda recommends a walk in the morning as one of the best ways to start your day, and as a safe and easy way to get some exercise.  As we breathe in that fresh, morning air, we take in much-needed oxygen.  As we notice the beauty around us, we connect with nature and nourish our creativity.  Regular brisk walking can lower cholesterol levels, stimulate circulation, strengthen the heart, and reduce blood pressure.  Walking is also a great way to charge up your circulation and boost your metabolism.  In addition, a regular morning walk can fend off stress and depression, help to prevent osteoporosis, and helps us to develop strength, stamina and endurance.  Walking doesn’t call on blood sugar for energy, and the brain is nourished by blood sugar, so walking is great exercise for the brain.  In Ayurveda, morning is known as “brahmmahurat” and is considered the most auspicious time of the day.  A little morning sunshine provides us with some Vitamin D.  Be sure to drink plenty of water before and during your walk to stay hydrated.  And pay attention to the signals that your body gives you, don’t overdo it.

Yoga Therapy: A Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Yoga and Ayurveda for Health and Fitness


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31 Aug

Paint by Dosha

I created Dosha Design to help people understand how we can bring the healing power of Ayurveda into our homes in a beautiful and practical way.  It’s about combining Vastu, which is the science of placement and a sister-science to Ayurveda, color theory and your personal style to create an environment in which we can thrive – feeling happy, healthy and living life in balance.  Recently I found a company that makes my job so much easier, and more fun!  AFM Safecoat, the leading provider of safe, non-polluting paints and finishes, has come out with “Ayurveda Essence Colors,” a holistic color system with three beautiful color palettes specifically for each dosha.  There are three sets of 36, one for Vata, one for Pitta, and one for Kapha, making a total of 108 (a very significant number!) colors in all.  AFM Safecoat’s innovative paints are toxin-free, which is very important to those of us living an ayurvedic lifestyle.  And the colors are amazing!  You can coordinate easily within each palette because the combinations all work together.  The Vata color set is made up of warm grounding colors, with names like Leaf, Chakra, and Sun.  The Pitta color set has a soothing effect and names like Spirit, Purpose, and Ajala.  The Kapha color set is vibrant and energizing, with names like Fire, Ananda, and Elevate.


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31 Aug

Neem Oil

Neem oil is one of the favorite medicinal oils used in Ayurveda.  Neem is unique in that it is antiviral, antibacterial, and also antimicrobial.  The Neem tree is sometimes called the “toothbrush tree” because neem has many dental applications.  People often pull a twig off the tree and chew the end to form bristles, making a natural toothbrush.  Neem is often added to toothpaste, and it is very healing to the gums.  Neem is also good for the skin and is an ingredient in many creams and salves.  Neem helps to get rid of eczema, psoriasis, rashes, wrinkles, dry skin and dandruff.  And neem oil is great at repelling mosquitoes!  Because neem has a rather unpleasant smell, it is preferable to mix it with other more fragrant oils.

Neem: The Ultimate Herb


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31 Aug


Swasthya is a Sanskrit word that translated means “established in oneself.”  This is joyfulness, contentment, and perfect health.  In our hectic lives it seems that swasthya is elusive.  We look for joy outside of ourselves, in our work, or with our relationships, or even with money.  We think that more is better, and put our focus too much on the goals ahead of us, without noticing all the beauty that is among us right where we are.  Fortunately, we can change our mindsets.  Joy is within us!  One way we can tap into that joy is with meditation.  When we quiet our minds, we releases the stresses that have accumulated, and allow the mind and body to get the rest it needs.  We can further reap the benefits by supplementing our practice with aromatherapy, herbal teas, warm baths, and massage.  It’s all a part of taking care of ourselves, of finding that balance that helps us to function optimally.  We also need to be mindful of what we put into our bodies.  Drink lots of water to cleanse and moisturize the entire system.  And eat fresh, nourishing foods.  Most importantly, don’t postpone happiness.  Do what you love to do.  Be in a place of gratitude.  Spend time with loved ones.

Advaita Vedanta – on amazon


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31 Aug


Raisins are balancing for Vata because they are sweet, and especially balancing for Pitta because they are also cooling.  Because they are heavy to digest, and have a high glycemic index, raisins are best eaten in moderation.  Cinnamon helps to lower the glycemic index, so adding a little cinnamon to raisins is a good idea.  Raisins are found in many Indian dishes.  In Ayurveda, raisins are known to be very healing, and by using raisins in food, we reap the benefits simply by eating!  The medicinal qualities of raisins are many.  Raisins are lubricating to the body, especially the lungs.  And raisins are good for both the brain, and the mind; they can help to uplift and balance emotions.  Raisins with either milk or water are very good for relieving thirst.  To help with bowel function, soak some raisins overnight and eat them and drink the raisin-water in the morning.  Raisins have also been known to support fertility in women.  It is best to store raisins in the refrigerator to prevent fermentation.

Heaven’s Banquet


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31 Aug

Ayurveda and Anxiety

Fear and anxiety often come with the territory of the busy, complicated lives we lead.  They have become a part of our culture.  We worry about money, relationships, career, and potential loss.  We long for security and guarantees, but in life there are none.  So no wonder we are anxious!  We are focusing on factors outside of us that are uncertain and unreliable.  According to Ayurveda, it is this outward seeking that is the cause of our anxiety.  We want control, we want to make things go our way, or to bring about the results we want.  Yet even when we get what we want, we are dissatisfied because it doesn’t live up to our expectations.  We always end up wanting more, and there is no end to it.  What can we do?  Surrender.  Look within.  Remember the truth.  Focus on what is really important in life, what really matters.  Approach life without demand or expectation.  This may be easier said than done given the bad habits that we’ve gotten ourselves into!  But having anxiety is a big clue that our lives have gotten out of balance, that we are out of harmony with nature.  Anxiety shows us how we create discomfort for ourselves.  We can use this as a tool to get back on track, back on the path.  Meditation helps us to cut through the illusions of the mind.

Vedantic Meditation: Lighting the Flame of Awareness, by David Frawley


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31 Aug

Tongue Diagnosis

When visiting an Ayurvedic Practitioner, he or she will ask you to stick out your tongue.  This isn’t to look at the back of your throat, as a western doctor might do, but to actually look at the tongue itself.  We can learn a lot from the tongue.  This is an organ that serves two purposes – it is the organ of speech, and it also a sensory organ that perceives taste.  From the tongue, a skilled practitioner can get information about the whole body.  A vata tongue is thin, small, and often a little dry.  A pitta tongue is broad at the base and tapered at the apex.  A kapha tongue is large, round, glossy, thick and wet.  If a tongue is pale in color, this indicates anemia.  A yellowish tongue may indicate jaundice, or some type of liver dysfunction.  A green tongue indicates a gallbladder disorder.  A blue or purple tongue is indicative of heart problems.  A central line near the tip of the tongue indicates pain in the upper spine, and two lines shows pain in the upper neck area; both of these are common vata disorders.  A healthy tongue will look clean and pink, with no white coating.  Many people have a slight coating on the back of the tongue, which indicates toxins in the color.  Digestion continues through the night, so it is a good idea to scrape the tongue early in the morning to massage the areas related to the digestive organs.

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31 Aug

Ayurvedic Head Massage

According to Ayurveda, massage can help us looking and feeling both youthful and healthy.  It gives a beautiful luster to the skin, and tones and relaxes the muscle tissue.  Massage improves circulation and thus increases body heat.  It also helps the body to release toxins and removes stiffness from the joints, improving nerve supply to the organs and all parts of the body.  Massage can improve our concentration, increase our stamina, and make us feel more active and energetic.  Ayurveda recommends we do a self-massage (abhyanga) every day.  And when we can, it is also beneficial for us to have a head and neck massage, too.  Here are some tips to get started:

-Pour warm oil on the point that is on a central hair parting, eight finger widths above the eyebrows.

-Massage the oil down both sides of the scalp towards the ears.

-Pour oil on the central crown point, three finger widths behind the crown chakra point.

-Massage the oil onto the scalp towards the ears.

-Tilt the head forward, pour oil onto the back of the skull at the top of the neck.

-Massage the oil along the sides of the scalp towards the back of the ears.

-Use both fistst to gently tape the head all over.  This stimulates both the circulatory and the nervous system.

-Gently pull some tufts of hair from the roots to relieve muscle tension that keeps the head feeling tight.

-A clockwise motion is recommended for massage as it releases tension.

-Using four fingers, stroke up the back of the neck.  Use the right hand for the left side of the neck and the left hand for the right side of the neck.

-Use down strokes on the front of the neck.  Do not put pressure on the windpipe.

Integrative Ayurvedic Massage DVD


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31 Aug

Ayurveda and Learning

Ayurveda is the Science of Life.  It explains the nature of everything in the universe.  When it comes to learning, Ayurveda has a lot to say.  The ancient ayurvedic texts describe three aspects of mental ability.  The first is “dhi” which is the power of acquisition, or learning itself.  The second is “dhriti” which is the power of retention, how well we retain what we learn.  The third is “smriti” which is the ability to remember and recall what we have learned.  We need all three of these mental functions to be in balance and work with one another, or learning problems may arise.  Vatas tend to learn quickly, but then forget just as quickly.  Kaphas learn much more slowly, but they have an amazing memory for what they have learned.  Often AD/HD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is an excess of Vata. Gotu kola (also known as the ayurvedic herb brahmi) is prized by students and yogis for its memory-enhancing properties.  Gotu Kola also promotes mental clarity and concentration.  It is an adaptogenic herb, which means that it helps to remove the negative effects of daily stress.


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31 Aug

The Elephant, The Tiger, and the Jackal

In the west, we understand the concept of “You are what you eat.” Ancient Indian texts explain Aahara, or diet, by using the example of the elephant, the tiger, and the jackal.  The elephant is a vegetarian.  This animal represents the sattvic mind.  With Sattva, we can think clearly, and act appropriately, according to the laws of nature.  The elephant is strong, gentle and intelligent.  The tiger is carnivorous.  He represents the rajassic mind, which is action-oriented.  He kills and eats animals, which makes him fierce and aggressive.  The tiger is restless, always on the prowl.  The jackal represents the tamassic mind.  Tamas is destructive, but this is not necessarily negative.  We need to finish something, complete it, before we can move on to the next.  The jackal survives by eating food left uneaten by other animals.  He is fearful, cunning, and lazy.  Our goal is to acquire the saatvic qualities of the elephant.  One way we can do that is to favor a vegetarian diet, and eating fresh foods, beans, and almonds to to increase calmness, clarity and creativity.


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