Health Tips

  • Welcoming Spring (Kapha season), the Ayurvedic Way

    Kapha dosha embraces the elements of earth & water. Its qualities are heavy, wet, solid, dense, cloudy, dull, cool, smooth, soft & stable. To counter the negative aspects of Kapha we want to think & do the opposite of these qualities.
    • Lighten up the diet.
    • Exercise & stimulating activities.
    • Daily routine.
    • Dry sauna.
    • De-clutter.
    • Energetically warm essential oils: clove, cinnamon, juniper & eucalyptus.
    • Avoid napping.
    Signs of Kapha imbalance: excess phlegm, overweight, sluggish, unmotivated, mucus in poop, depressed, stubborn & allergies.
    Balanced Kapha: nurturing, thoughtful, patient, strong & sleep well.
    Preferred tastes for spring: astringent, bitter & pungent.
    Tastes to reduce during Spring: sweet, sour & salty. They increase the negative qualities of Kapha.
    Your Spring Menu: greens, green tea, cooked vegetables, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, barley, millet, legumes & raw honey.
    Foods to lighten up on: meat, dairy, wheat, white rice, soy, bananas, avocados, melon, cucumbers, squash, sugary foods, oils, processed foods, breads & nuts.

         Digestive Teas Ideas

    • Equal parts cumin, coriander & fennel.

    • Sliced fresh ginger & lemon.

    • Cinnamon, cardamom & nutmeg.

    *other herbs/spices to include: pepper, basil, chamomile, garlic, horseradish, parsley, sage, thyme, turmeric. Avoid bland food which creates mucus & use less salt to avoid water retention.

     

    To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art. - La Rochefoucauld

     

    YOGA for stimulating Kapha dosha & optimum digestion:
    Hope Buchbinder of Modern Embodiment recommends balancing the sluggish qualities of Kapha by enlivening with vigorous movement & deep abdominal breathing. Energizing postures include: standing poses, inversions, & backbends. Digestion is enhanced by incorporating postures which open the abdominal space, release tension in organs and connective tissues, & bring us into balance with the parasympathetic nervous system.
    ASANA
    • “Skull Shining” Breath
    • Child’s Pose
    • Crescent
    • Sun Salutes
    • Twisting Lunges
    • Twisted Wide-Leg Forward Bend
    • Side Angle
    • Triangle
    • Belly-Down Backbends
    • Forward Bend with fists in belly
    • Half Lord of the Fishes
    • Bridge
    • Belly-Revolving Pose
    • Happy Baby
    • Reclined Bound Angle
  • Choose Happiness This Winter

    Here in the Tetons the sun is still shining, the aspens chime with their golden coins and the elk are bugling. The air is growing crisp and I keep looking at the long term forecast for that snowflake image to remind me of inevitable.... winter. It is such a wonderful time of year when all of my friends come together with one love, skiing or snowboarding followed by warm hearty dinners and laughter. The flip side of this wonderful season is the shortening days, the bitter chill and the possible onset of seasonal depression. When the sun moves south and its rays are not overhead we don't get sufficient amounts of Vit. D. That along with the desire to sleep more & eat a heavier diet leads to lethargy of the body and mind. How do we combat this? We create healthy routines around body care including plenty of exercise and daily meditation and we need to focus on eating nourishing foods full of digestive spices. When we are properly digesting our food, that means without gas, bloating, belching, constipation &/or diarrhea, we allow our body full access to the storage of serotonin that resides in our gut. Does that make sense? Or are you thinking what is serotonin? Serotonin is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for regulating brain functions such as mood, appetite, sleep, and memory. Insufficient serotonin has been linked depression. That said you should enjoy the holidays but be aware of the importance of the food sadhanas. When food may be void of most spices use black pepper. It is a digestive found on every table.

  • Ayurveda and Your Dosha

    Ayurveda, a Sanskrit word translated into English means "the knowledge of life". It is a 5000 year old holistic healing modality that views people as a unique combination of doshas. These doshas present with different challenges as they become out of balance. As an Ayurvedic practitioner it is my pleasure to decipher that special harmony in a client and brings balance through diet and lifestyle adjustments. We look to the cause of dis-ease not just the symptoms. The following is an outline of the doshas and how they present themselves.

    Vata (air & ether) governs all movement in the mind and body through blood flow, defecation, sexual function, menstrual cycle, breathing and the movement of thoughts in your mind. Vata governs the senses, creative thinking, reasoning, enthusiasm, memory and the sense of touch.

    Since Pitta (fire & water) and Kapha (earth & water) cannot move without it, Vata is considered the leader of the three Ayurvedic doshas. It's very important to keep Vata in good balance. Is your skin dry, rough, thin?  Is your mind constantly in a whirl? Do you worry? Are you restless? Do you experience constipation?  Do you suffer from dryness? Are you forgetful? Do your joints crack and pop? Are you easily fatigued? Then you may need to align Vata.

    Ways to balance Vata:

    • Ahbyanga (oil massage)
    • Consume more oil in your diet. Such as sesame, ghee, almond, avocado, olive & flax. Think about a good balance of omegas to lubricate the joints too.
    • Meditation, gentle yoga, a walk in the woods.
    • Keep yourself warm by layering your clothing.
    • Avoid the wind.
    • Routines are essential to a balanced Vata. Keep a schedule and create regularity.
    • Warmer colors such as red, orange, yellow and green, brown and black to ground.
    • Warm nourishing foods.
    • Focusing on the foods that are sweet, salty and sour.
    • Enjoying quiet places with less visual stimulation.
    • Dairy products pacify Vata. Avoid cold dairy that increases congestion such as ice cream. Heat and spice milk before consuming. Try using oatmeal cookie for a delicious after dinner treat.
    • Grains are good for Vata, especially rice.
    • Fruits that are good for Vata are oranges, bananas, avocados, grapes, cherries, peaches, melons, berries, plums, pineapples, mangos and papayas. Reduce dry or light fruits such as apples, pears, pomegranates, cranberries, and dried fruits. 
    • Vegetables that are preferable for Vata are beets, cucumbers, carrots, asparagus and sweet potatoes are good. They should be cooked, not raw. The following vegetables are acceptable in moderate quantities when cooked: peas, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, zucchini and potatoes. It's better to avoid sprouts and cabbage. 
    • Properly spice your food: cardamom, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, salt, cloves, mustard seed and black pepper. 
    • All nuts are good. 
    • Reduce all beans, except for tofu and mung dahl. These are hard for the variable digestion of Vata and can produce a lot of gas.

     

    Pitta manages all heat, metabolism and transformation in the mind and body. It controls how we digest foods and how we metabolize our sensory perceptions. Pitta governs the important digestive "agnis" or fires of the body, functioning of the eyes, healthy glow of the skin, desire, drive, decisiveness, spirituality and blood.

    Answer these questions to see if you need to balance Pitta. Do you tend to be critical? Are you often frustrated, angry or intense? Is your skin ruddy and prone to rashes and eruptions? Are you often irritable or impatient? Is your hair prematurely gray or thinning? Do you wake up in the early hours and find it difficult to fall asleep again? Do you feel discomfort in hot weather? Are you a perfectionist? Do you experience hot flashes? Do you have excess stomach acid? Do you experience loose bowel movements?

    Tips for Balancing Pitta

    • Keep cool. Avoid hot, arid and windy climates. 
    • Favor cool, heavy, dry foods and sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. 
    • Reduce pungent, sour, salty tastes and warm, oily and light foods. 
    • Moderation is the key to avoiding stress. 
    • Allow time to relax. 
    • Regular mealtimes, especially lunch at noon to avoid that "hangry" eruption. 
    • Abhyanga with a cooling oil such as coconut.
    • Milk, butter and ghee are good for pacifying Pitta. Reduce yogurt, cheese, sour cream and cultured buttermilk which are considered sour in taste and can aggravate Pitta. 
    • Olive, sunflower and coconut oils are best. Reduce sesame and almond oil all of which increase Pitta. 
    • Favor sweet fruits such as grapes, cherries, melons, avocados, coconuts, pomegranates, mangos, and sweet, fully-ripened oranges, pineapples and plums. Reduce sour fruits such as grapefruits, olives, papayas, and unripe pineapples and plums. 
    • Favor asparagus, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, pumpkins, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, okra, lettuce, green beans and zucchini. Reduce hot peppers, tomatoes, carrots, beets, onions, garlic, radishes and spinach. 
    • Cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, cumin, fresh ginger, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and fennel are all great. But the following spices strongly increase Pitta and should be taken only in small amounts: dried ginger, black pepper, fenugreek, clove, celery seed, salt and mustard seed. Chili peppers and cayenne should be avoided. 


    Kapha governs all structure and lubrication in the mind and body. It controls weight, growth, lubrication for the joints and lungs and an assortment of the body's fluids such as the moisture for nose, mouth, eyes and brain, the sense of taste, moisture of the stomach lining, lubrication of the joints and soft and supple skin.

    You may need to balance Kapha if you exhibit the following problems: Are you overweight? Do you feel lethargic or stagnant? Do you experience congestion?  Is your skin and hair too oily? Do you feel that you are possessive and are overly attached? Do you feel lazy or complacent? Do you feel bloated?

    Ways to balance Kapha:

    • Vigorous regular exercise. SWEAT!
    • Warm temperatures. 
    • Copious vegetables and less meat, grain and dairy in your diet that increase tissue. 
    • Favor pungent, bitter, astringent tastes and light, dry and warm foods. 
    • Reduce heavy, oily, cold foods and sweet, sour and salty tastes. 
    • Early to bed, early to rise.
    • Lighter fruits such as apples and pears, are better. Reduce heavy or sour fruits such as oranges, bananas, pineapples, figs, dates, avocados, coconuts and melons as these fruits increase Kapha. 
    • Reduce sugar products as these increase Kapha. Honey would be the best for Kapha when sweetness is preferred. Do not cook or heat honey this is said to produce ama, muck in the body.
    • All beans are fine except tofu. 
    • Reduce all nuts. 
    • Barley and millet are best when consuming grains. Do not take too much wheat or rice as they increase Kapha. 
    • Spice your food liberally except for salt. It increases Kapha. 
    • Consume plenty of vegetables. All are fine, except nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and sweet peppers), cucumbers, sweet potatoes and squash. They all increase Kapha. 
    • Dry friction massage with garshana gloves to increase circulation and invigorate the tissues.

     

     Ayurveda is a fun way to began seeing our relationship to the elements and their influence over the many aspects of who we are. It can be hard for some to see that we live with all three doshas because we become attached to the predominant dosha within us. When all doshas live in balance we can easily recognize the harmony of the elements and appreciate the seasons of the mind, body and soul. 

     

     

  • 6 Tastes, A Balanced Palette Leads to a Satisfying Meal

    In Ayurveda we consider the relationship of the six tastes and the elements that relate to the doshas to create food and herbs as medicine. These tastes can create harmony or disharmony according to your imbalances, seasons and your doshic make up. Consider that Ayurveda treats through opposites. So if you're feeling heavy (Kapha) eat more astringent, pungent and bitter foods. If you're feeling cold (Vata) add more pungent, sour and salty foods to your diet avoiding raw cold foods too. If you're having problems with anger and frustration (Pitta) consider eating more sweet, astringent and bitter foods.

    The following is a list, including the elements, of the tastes:

    • Sweet is earth and water and has a direct relationship to Kapha. Too much of the sweet taste in your diet can make you overweight, lethargic and congested. It is a taste considered to be moist, cool and heavy. We think of sweet as candy, desserts, sodas and all the food that is filled with sugar. But, in Ayurveda the sweet taste also includes meat, grains and fresh dairy (as opposed to fermented dairy: keffir & yogurt. These are sour.) Considering that the elements are earth and water it is nourishing and grounding for Vata. They need a higher caloric and rich diet for the light and airy quality Vata has. Pitta benefits from the sweet taste because it is cooling. Kapha should consume much smaller amounts of "sweet" foods to avoid building more mass.
    • Sour is fire and earth. Sour has the element of moistness, heat and heaviness.  People with Pitta and/or Kapha in their constitution should consume sour in small amounts or avoid it. It is a preferred taste for Vata because it helps ground, moisturize and increase overall warmth throughout. Examples of sour foods are fermented foods such as yogurt & sauerkraut.
    • Salt is water and fire. It has the qualities of hot, moist and heavy. These qualities in excess can aggravate pitta and kapha but can help bring more moisture to Vata because of the hydrophilic nature of salt. We all need salts for electrolyte balance but a Pitta person may want to consider coconut milk to balance the electrolyte levels. It has a cooling nature. While the Kapha person can focus on vegetable broth for electrolyte supplementation. This will help warm the body and is a lighter alternative.  Foods that have a salty quality are seaweeds and seafood. 
    • Pungent is fire and air. With the nature of heat, dryness and lightness these can aggravate Pitta and Vata doshas in excess. Pungent is very good for Kapha and those that have a Kapha imbalance. The pungent tastes of ginger, chilis and pepper can be very stimulating thus breaking up the lethargy. 
    • Astringent is earth and air. It has the qualities of lightness, heat and dryness that can increase Vata's nature. Think about how your mouth feels when you eat a green banana. That is astringent. It is recommended for people of a Pitta or Kapha constitution.  Examples of astringent foods are green tea, cranberries, pomegranates, and a selection of beans.
    • Bitter is fire and air. It's light, dry and cool qualities can aggravate Vata but help bring balance to Pitta and Kapha. The bitter flavor can be found in leafy greens and many herbs such as gentian. Bitters help milk the gallbladder and cleanse the liver by stimulating the release of bile. They are a digestive aid and have a long history of being consumed with meals for this reason.

    I love the ancient Ayurvedic proverb, "When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need." Make food your medicine. Properly spice your food. Eat according to the seasons, your dosha and what is fresh and local. These simple things can help you fight the common cold, allergies, inflammation, et cetera.

  • Digestive Symphony

     

     

    Growing up with a myriad of digestive distress I thought cramping and constipation or diarrhea was the norm. There were times that I didn't suffer but I never recognized what brought about my harmony in such moments. Isn't all food created equal? No, this isn't a racial equality fight, this is a war to bring awareness to the importance of the quality of your food, when to eat, food combining and an overall gastro awareness. Did you know that when you digest food properly you poop daily (maybe a couple of times), you are less likely to get sick, your skin is clearer, you mood is more positive, and you don't have problems with burping, cramping, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea and constipation?

    So how do we avoid the uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing moments?

    • We use herbs and spices in our foods. These help stimulate digestion. Try any of Teton Alchemy's curry blends to make your favorite curries or as spice rub on meat and tofu.
    • We become aware that certain food combinations aren't supposed to exist. Such as melon with any other food. It dampens your digestive fire and may make you feel heavy.
    • Try to eat your biggest meal at noon. Just like when the sun is at it's peak and feels the warmest this is when your digestive fire is fully stoked.
    • Don't eat too close to bedtime. This will make you feel heavy and hinders your liver detox time (10PM-2AM). You may feel extra heat in the night and have a hard time sleeping too.
    • Don't drink too much during your meal. It dilutes the digestive juices. A 1/2 cup or 4 oz. of fluid for a meal should be sufficient unless you're eating soup then you may not need any water.
    • Though a lot of us find cold beverages refreshing they are not what hydrates us. Cold is constrictive to the tissues in our body. If we want to absorb moisture and hydrate, drink room temperature- warm fluids for best absorption.
    • If you haven't already made your way into the organic movement consider doing so now. You can start with the "Dirty Dozen" conventionally grown foods and work your way towards a cleaner kitchen. The following is a list of the "Dirty Dozen". In the following vegetables when tested for chemical/ pesticide residue they exhibited anywhere between 47-67 chemicals that could be detrimental to proper digestion, hormone production, the development and maintenance of your nervous system and the list goes on.
      • celery
      • peaches
      • strawberries
      • apples
      • domestic blueberries
      • nectarines
      • sweet bell peppers
      • spinach, kale and collard greens
      • cherries
      • potatoes
      • grapes
      • lettuce 
    • Eat 3-5 regular meals a day creating a routine around food. This helps your body know what and when to expect nourishment. Allowing time in between these meals to digest. Snacking, according to the philosophies of Ayurveda, is like putting too much wood on the fire. All of a sudden the fire is smothered and so is your digestive capabilities.
    • Follow the Food Sadhanas.
    • And to go deeper, knowing your constitution. With the philosophies of Ayurveda, we all are a unique combination of the 3 doshas. When we eat according to our constitution, the seasons and the time of day we start to develop a deeper understanding of our digestive tract. We also start to understand how to balance indulgences verses a healthy meal and what you crave changes. To schedule an Ayurvedic consultation please contact us.

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