There is an ancient Indian principle that says if you want to check if your rice is ready, then you just test a few grains. The grains are representative of the status of the entire pot of rice. So, if we want to check on the status of our society, we can look at a few families, as representative of society as a whole. Ayurveda says that we are born with a peaceful and loving mind. When we are raised in an affectionate and nurturing home, then we can bring that love and peace with us out into society and help the world merely by being ourselves. In our fast-paced culture we sometimes forget about how important it is to come together as a family. Our homes might have a family room, but how often do we use it? Everyone has his own computer, TV, cell phone, and schedule, and we’re going in different directions all the time. We need to remember to connect. Eating a meal together daily gives us food for our souls as well as our bodies. Serving together by helping our communities sets a great example for our children, and feels good, too. Support each other, love each other, appreciate each other. Being an integral part of a healthy family helps us to function more efficiently on five levels: body, mind, senses, emotions, and spirit.
In Sanskrit, maya means “illusion.” And often, maya is used to refer to material existence. In the Tao of Physics, Fritjof Capra writes: “Maya does not mean that the world is an illusion, as is often wrongly stated. The illusion merely lies in our point of view. Maya is the illusion of mistaking or relative perspective for reality, of confusing the map with the territory.” One explanation is that the material world exists, but it is only temporary. It is like a dream, having substance for a short period of time. Material existence, or matter, is not forever; it is limited and measurable. Spiritual things, on the other hand, are limitless. The Demigoddess named Maya creates a situation where we live a life of illusion and forgetfulness. Her spiritual counterpart, Yogamaya, creates an atmosphere where we can penetrate the world’s illusions and relish intimacy with the source of all existence.
Patanjali is the author of the “Yoga Sutras.” He is also thought by many scholars to be the author of various ancient texts on Ayurveda and Sanskrit grammar. Others think that the name Patanjali represents a group of people who came up with these writings. Sutra in Sanskrit translates to “stitch” as in a thread of knowledge. The Sutras provide a thorough and consistent philosophical basis for yoga, and they also clarify many important concepts in Indian thought. Patanjali divided his Yoga Sutras into four chapters or books (“pada” in Sanskrit).
-Samadhi Pada (51 sutras): Sanadhi refers to a blissful state of Oneness. This book contains the famous verse “Yogas citta vritti nirodhah” which translates to “Yoga is the restraint of mental modifications.”
-Sadhana Pada (55 sutras): Sadhana is the Sanskrit word for practice or discipline. In this book, Patanjali talks about Kriya Yoga (also called Karma Yoga) and Ashtanga Yoga (Eightfold Yoga). Ashtanga Yoga describes the eight limbs that together constitute Raja Yoga.
-Vibhuti Pada (56 sutras): Vibhuti is the Sanskrit word for power or manifestation. The sutras explain that the focus should be on liberation, and not on the attainment of power.
-Kaivalya Pada (34 sutras): Kaivalya as used in the sutras means emancipation and liberation, which is the goal of Yoga. This book describes the nature of liberation and the reality of the transcendental self.
Acne is a common skin disease that affects more than 85% of the population at some point in their lives. Acne is more common in men than women during adolescence, and more common in women than men during adulthood. Ayurveda says that acne is an imbalance of all three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, with the main cause being the aggravation of the Pita dosha. Pitta is made up of a combination of fire and water, hence the heat, or redness, of the skin. Since a Pitta imbalance is deep in the physiology, creams and topical treatments just mask the symptoms of acne. Ayurveda recommends a Pitta diet and lifestyle routine to tackle the disease at the root cause. Meditation and yoga help to ease stress, which is a contributing factor. When experiencing a breakout of acne, try making a paste of turmeric powder and water and applying to the blemishes with a cotton ball. Turmeric is an antibiotic and antibacterial so will help calm the eruptions.
There are many ways that food can help to boost our immune system. First, choose food that is fresh, and easy to digest. It’s also best to choose foods that are grown organically whenever you can. Favor vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and light dairy products. You can also cook with immune-boosting spices, like turmeric, cumin, coriander, black pepper, and ginger. Cook food so that it is easier to digest, but don’t overcook it so that it is mushy. Eat at peak digestive times. The largest meal of the day should be lunch, eaten between noon and 1 pm, when Pitta is strongest. Eat lighter meals for breakfast and dinner. Eat at the same time every day so that your digestion gets into an efficient routine. And eat until you are about 75% full. Don’t stuff yourself, save some space for the digestive process to function. Choose foods for your dosha type, and also for the season.
Garam Masala, found on spice racks and in recipes, is not a spice in itself, but a blend of spices used throughout India. Garam means “hot” and Masala means “spice.” The spices, and some of the proportions in Garam Masala can vary depending on personal taste, and the region. Here’s a sample recipe so that you can make your own Garam Masala at home. This recipe makes about ½ cup of Garam Masala, and when kept in an airtight container will keep for 3 months. I’ve seen different recipes that use mace and/or fenugreek, so experiment and see what you like.
2 Tablespoons cumin seeds
2 Tablespoons coriander seeds
2 Tablespoons cardamom seeds
2 Tablespoons black peppercorns
1 3” stick cinnamon, broken up
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon saffron (optional)
Put all of the spices except the nutmeg and saffron in a dry, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the spices about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they turn several shades darker and give off a sweet, smoky aroma. Let cool completely. Transfer the spice mixture to a spice mill or coffee grinder and grind to a powder. Stir in the nutmeg and saffron.
The Sun in Sanskrit is called “Surya.” The sun controls leadership, authority, and a strong self-esteem. The sun shines light on everyone indiscriminately, and encourages happiness and a sunny disposition. We can honor the sun by recognizing its properties. Its day is Sunday, so we can make it a special point to watch a sunrise or sunset on that day. Its color is red-orange, so we can wear that color, or have it in our home decor. The stone for Surya is the Ruby, and its number is one. To help bring the energy of the sun into our lives, we can recite the mantra to the sun: Om Suryaya Namaha.
Turmeric (also known as Haldi) is the herb that gives curry its yellow color. Turmeric is known to support important blood and liver functions, and to be an abundant source of healthful antioxidants. Many women in India credit their beautiful skin, hair, and nails, to a diet rich in Turmeric. Turmeric has the tastes of pungent, bitter, and astringent. These tastes are difficult to find in the typical western diet, but they are essential for balancing the Kapha dosha. I found a wonderful recipe for Chickpea Curry. Try it and let me know what you think! I’ll also have it up in the CoffeyKitchen, where you can share your favorite curry recipes.
2 Tablespoonds vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons ginger root, chopped
6 whole cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 (15 ounce) cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste. If you like it spicy, use cayenne pepper.
-Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat – sautee onions until tender.
-Stir in garlic, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and turmeric. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
-Mix in the garbanzo beans and their liquid.
-Continue to cook and stir until all ingredients are well blended.
-Remove from heat.
-Stir in cilantro just before serving.
“Soma” is the nourishing, cooling quality that is associated with the moon. Water represents this lunar energy. It helps support each of the three doshas by nurturing, lubricating and detoxifying the body. When properly absorbed, water offers us many healing benefits. It helps with digestion, improves the skin, prevents constipation, and cools the body. Because Vata is so dry, people with a dominant Vata dosha need to drink more water than other types. And because Pitta runs hot, they may crave more water than other types. During meals, it is best to sip plain water. Water should be served warm, or at room temperature, but never ice-cold, because cold water puts out the digestive fire. About an hour after a meal, if you feel thirsty, it is good to drink water to boost digestion. To make water even more balancing for the doshas, you can add spices to it. Boil the water first, then add the spices and let it comes to room temperature or warmer. For Vata water, add a little fennel seed. For Pitta water, add dried rose petals. For Kapha water, add sliced fresh ginger and basil.
Vastu Shastra is one of the texts found in the Vedas, an ancient body of knowledge from India. Vastu explains how natural laws are universal, and that when we learn to apply these laws to our home or office, our life will flourish. Robin and Michael Mastro were our Vastu experts on DoshaSpace and they’ve followed us over to intent.com. They’ve just released a new book that shows us how to use Vastu to create a beautiful love relationship. “Making Room for Mr. Right” uses three of the ancient tenets of Vastu Shastra to inspire us to be proactive about making room for our soul mate. The Mastros say that Vastu is “yoga for relationships!” Vastu eliminates the stress in finding a partner. Some of the tools they teach us to use include the relationship altar, yantras & mantras, color, gems, and scent. This is an informative and enlightening book that is full of intriguing exercises and step-by-step instructions. This book could literally change your life!