There is a wide variety of yoga options these days, read this article to help you flush out your ideal practice and routine.
Exfoliate, move lymph, and protect the body’s biggest organ.
I’m pretty convinced that saltwater is the cure for everything…whether a trip to the ocean or gargling for a sore throat.
Nasal irrigation is extremely effective in the fight against allergies, dust, dander, mold and germs. When air is inhaled through the nose it is filtered. This leaves those pesky particulates behind, sometimes causing a reaction. Ever sneeze after freshly grinding pepper?
Using the Neti pot can improve the sense of smell, which in turn improves taste. Who wouldn’t want that?
Jala neti, the Sanskrit term, is even said to clear the mind allowing for greater depth when meditating.
If very congested using the Neti pot might be challenging. But how to use it…Well that’s another story…
Vata, Pitta, and Kapha
Vata, pitta, and kapha—collectively known as the doshas—are one of the most foundational concepts in the tradition of Ayurveda. But what are they, exactly? In essence, the doshas are energetic forces of nature, functional principles that help us to better understand ourselves, and the world around us. To find out which of the doshas make up your constitution and state of imbalance, take our Ayurvedic Profile™ quiz.
Take the quiz and receive your personalized recommendations!
Vata, pitta, and kapha are each essential to our physiology in some way, so no one dosha is better than, or superior to, any other. Each of them has a very specific set of functional roles to play in the body. That said, when the doshas are out of balance, they can wreak havoc on our health. But before we get into the specifics of each of the three doshas, it is helpful to understand their elemental composition, and their broader role in the natural world.
In Ayurveda, the most basic building blocks of the material world are the five elements: ether (space), air, fire, water, and earth.
Vata is characterized by the mobile nature of Wind (Air) energy.
Pitta embodies the transformative nature of Fire energy.
And Kapha reflects the binding nature of Water energy.
The Elements and the Doshas
All of the doshas contain all five elements (as do all things in nature), but each is predominantly composed of two elements.
|Vata||Air + Ether|
|Pitta||Fire + Water|
|Kapha||Water + Earth|
As with the elements, all three of the doshas can be found in everyone and everything, but in different proportions. They combine to create different climates, different foods, different species, and even different individuals within the same species. In fact, the particular ratio of vata, pitta, and kapha within each of us provides us with a blueprint for optimal health (otherwise known as our constitution), and garners a significant influence on our individual physical, mental, and emotional character traits—as well as our unique strengths and vulnerabilities. If you don’t know your Ayurvedic constitution, please consider setting up your Ayurvedic Profile™, an assessment of both your constitution and your current state of balance. When you do, you will also receive a set of personalized recommendations designed to support you in your journey toward optimal health.
The Qualitative Nature of the Doshas
Each dosha is characterized by a collection of qualities that support its particular energetic:
|Vata||Dry, Light, Cold, Rough, Subtle, Mobile, Clear|
|Pitta||Hot, Sharp, Light, Liquid, Spreading, Oily|
|Kapha||Heavy, Slow, Cool, Oily, Smooth, Dense, Soft, Stable, Gross, Cloudy (Sticky)|
These qualities make balancing the doshas very intuitive because, according to Ayurveda, like increases like and opposites balance. When any one of the doshas is aggravated, we can generally promote a return to balance by reducing the influence of that dosha’s qualities, while favoring their opposites. And if we know which specific qualities are aggravated, we can focus on pacifying those qualities in particular, while favoring foods, herbs, and experiences that amplify their opposing energies. The following table shows the ten pairs of opposites most commonly referenced in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda’s Ten Pairs of Opposites
|Slow (Dull)||Sharp (Penetrating)|
The Doshas and Their Functions
Each of the three doshas has a unique personality determined by its particular combination of elements and qualities. At the end of the day, each dosha naturally governs specific physiological functions:
|Vata||Movement and Communication|
|Pitta||Digestion and Transformation|
|Kapha||Cohesiveness, Structure, and Lubrication|
Vata governs Movement and Communication.
Pitta oversees Digestion and Transformation.
Kapha provides Cohesiveness, Structure, and Lubrication.
While the doshas can be observed everywhere in nature, they are particularly supportive in understanding living organisms—specifically ourselves. For this reason, we will explore their primary functions in the context of human physiology.
Vata embodies the energy of movement and is therefore often associated with wind (and the air element). Vata is linked to creativity and flexibility; it governs all movement—the flow of the breath, the pulsation of the heart, all muscle contractions, tissue movements, cellular mobility—and communication throughout the mind and the nervous system.
Pitta represents the energy of transformation and is therefore closely aligned with the fire element. But in living organisms, pitta is largely liquid, which is why water is its secondary element. Pitta is neither mobile nor stable, but spreads—much as the warmth of a fire permeates its surroundings, or as water flows in the direction dictated by the terrain. Pitta is closely related to intelligence, understanding, and the digestion of foods, thoughts, emotions, and experiences; it governs nutrition and metabolism, body temperature, and the light of understanding.
Kapha lends structure, solidity, and cohesiveness to all things, and is therefore associated primarily with the earth and water elements. Kapha also embodies the watery energies of love and compassion. This dosha hydrates all cells and systems, lubricates the joints, moisturizes the skin, maintains immunity, and protects the tissues.
Understanding Imbalances in the Doshas
Imbalances in the doshas are generally caused by unsupportive diet and lifestyle choices, as well as stress or emotional trauma. These disturbances tend to upset the natural state of internal equilibrium represented by one’s constitution. When the doshas become aggravated, each of them disrupts the body in its own unique way. Therefore, vata, pitta, and kapha are each associated with a particular set of health challenges and tendencies toward disease.
While we are all susceptible to an excess in any of the three doshas, we also tend to be somewhat predisposed to imbalances in our predominant doshas. In other words, vata-pitta predominant individuals will usually tend toward vata and pitta imbalances before kapha imbalances. If you are just becoming familiar with how the doshas affect your day-to-day life, this awareness can be very helpful. Again, if you would like to assess your constitution, your current state of balance, and receive personalized recommendations based on both, please consider setting up your Ayurvedic Profile™.
When out of balance, vata tends to cause fear, anxiety, isolation, loneliness, and exhaustion. It can lead to both physical and energetic depletion, disrupt proper communication, and cause all sorts of abnormal movements in the body, such as tics, tremors, and muscle spasms.
When out of balance, pitta causes fiery, reactionary emotions such as frustration, anger, jealously, and criticism. Imbalanced pitta is often at the root of inflammatory disorders, which can affect organs and tissues throughout the body.
When out of balance, kapha triggers emotions of attachment, greed, and possessiveness and can also create stubbornness, lethargy, and resistance to change. Physically, kapha tends to invite stagnation and congestion in organs and tissues throughout the body—including the mind.
Befriending the Doshas in Your Life
It is important to remember that we all have innate strengths and gifts, as well as persistent challenge areas. The doshas are a wonderful tool for understanding both, and also for recognizing and correcting any imbalances at work in our systems. Invariably, the doshas shed light on our personal nuances, guide us in improving self-awareness, and can help us to understand how to offer support—precisely where and when it matters most. As a result, cultivating a relationship with each of the three doshas can have a transformative impact on your overall health and well-being. We would love to support you in beginning to befriend the doshas in your life.
Our bodies have their own natural defenses, but need some support.
Here are four super effective Ayurvedic techniques.
You wake up in the morning and one of the first things you do is brush your teeth, but are you doing any thing for the tongue? Get in the mirror and take a good look at it, their are lots of things that can be learned about our health from the mouth. Benefits of tongue scraping include: reduction of bad breath, toxic residue, bacteria, and stimulates digestion. It only takes a few seconds, an can be easily fit into your routine. It is said to improve mental clarity and reduce ama.
The neti pot is extremely useful is clearing the nasal passages. This is good in the case of not only sinus infections, dirt, dust and pollen removal, but also contributes to fresh breath, and improved sinus health. Nasal irrigation is said to help clear the cobwebs from the mind and promote clear thinking. You will want to use purified water, and a measured amount of salt, or you might not be as happy with the result!
Ever watched a dog after it gets toweled off from a bath? It’s stimulated! Using a stiff bristle brush, make short rapid strokes from the extremities towards the heart center. Dry Brushing moves lymphatic fluid, and exfoliates dead skin particles. Try this little experiment- do it on one whole side of your body and see if it feels different fro the other side. I am willing to bet it feels more alive and awake. A similar effect can be felt using just your hand if you want to test the waters before shopping.
Abhyanga is a nurturing practice, and feels oh so luxurious. It’s just like putting lotion on after the shower, but using oil like coconut, almond, jojoba, or sesame. It is incredibly grounding, and provides a layer protection of protection between you and the outside world. Self massage is a great way to connect to your body, work out a few kinks, even improve sleep. My favorite time, is actually before getting into the bath/shower/sauna…and frankly it’s when my skin looks it’s best.
All of these techniques may seem foreign and unusual, but have a profound effect. ‘Saucha’, or cleanliness is part of one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. They will not only help to keep your physical body pure, but it will also have a noticeable difference in your overall well being. I encourage you to make one or all part of your routine.
Join Rachel Hopkins, Rodan + Fields Consultant, and Fletcher Johnson owner of River Warrior Yoga for a free live online event. Rachel will guide us through the mask applications process, and Fletcher will be showing you how to make this a mindful and meditative experience.
For more information about Rodan + Fields here is Rachel’s website link.
Have you ever heard of ancestral or generational healing? Or seen a family where the same trauma pattern seems to mysteriously develop generation after generation? The Ayurvedic idea of samskarasalong with the science of epigenetics may shed some light on this mystery.
According to Ayurveda, physical, behavioral, mental, and emotional traits can be carried through generations. If mom or dad carries stress, the associated behavior traits can be passed on for generations. These are called samskaras, imprints, carried to offspring.
Samskaras are defined as:
An impression, or under the impulse of previous impressions. The imprints left on the subconscious mind by experience in this or previous lives, which then color all of life, one’s nature, responses, states of mind.
Today, new Western studies are beginning to understand how these traits may be passed down.
While the environment and behavior rarely change the DNA sequence of a gene, they can cause epigenetic changes in the regulation or expression of the gene. This new genetic expression may be what we mean by samskaras!
A 2014 study shows that when young male mice are stressed, their behavior is affected as adults. The stressed mice are resistant to exploring new environments and give up more quickly when given a challenging task. When sperm from these stressed males is injected into eggs, the offspring exhibit the same stress behaviors, without any contact with dad.1
In another study, rodents are trained to fear the smell of peppermint before they become pregnant. When the offspring of these peppermint-fearing rodents are exposed to piped-in peppermint oil, infant rodents show the same fear. Remember, the fear of peppermint oil was recorded in the memory of the mother before pregnancy, suggesting that the infant carries this impression, or peppermint samskara, from the mother prior to fertilization.2
This research suggests that stressful behavior is passed through generations. Stressors alter the expression of genes without changing the DNA sequence. Scientists suggest that if your grandparent lived through heavy stress, such as the Great Depression, certain gene expressions may be turned on or off for generations, affecting the way you behave.3
Understanding how inherited fears, stressors, or samskaras can affect the health and behavior of a family for generations is fundamental in the Ayurvedic roadmap of health. Interestingly, we are only now beginning to understand the subtlety and profundity of epigenetics.
Reversing Epigenetic Traits & Samskaras
Reversing these epigenetic traits is also discussed in Ayurveda. One of the most powerful tools to enhance self-awareness and make deep epigenetic samskaras is the practice of meditation and breathing.
While meditation boosts awareness, it is not a complete therapy unless it is followed up with action steps. Action based on heightened awareness changes negative neural patterns in the brain. The goal of Ayurveda is to be free of old emotional patterns that negatively impact health, happiness, and longevity.
With emphasis on the importance of reflection and self-awareness, Ayurveda claims we can remove samskaras imprinted in our DNA from childhood or our parent’s childhood.
One study suggests that up to 95% of the things we think, say, and do as adults come from impressions from the first six years of life.4 We call these unconscious behaviorsbecause they are drawn from the unconsciousness of old samskaras or impressions. The cure, according to Ayurveda, is to become conscious. This requires becoming more self-aware and then taking intentional action based on your true nature rather than old emotional patterns of behavior derived from childhood.
I have also developed the Transformational Awareness Technique (TAT) to teach people not only how to be successful meditators, but how to take transformational action steps based on the heightened awareness meditation offers.
Most meditation practices leave out what I believe to be the most important part: taking awareness-based action steps. It is the action that lays new neural pathways in the brain and frees us from old emotional patterns and behavioral samskaras.
Isn’ it curious how one bowl of soup can drum up so many memories?
Santa Fe is known for many things:
Like whether you prefer red or green chili sauce, how there are more healers there the ‘regular’ folks, it’s rich culture, and so much more…
But I always return to their take on chicken soup, Pozole.
Savory & Spicy
If you ever have a chance to go, make a reservation at Cafe Pasqual’s. A quaint restaurant with local fare that is affordable and made with love. I go there every trip.
It’s coming into flu season here. Yesterday I woke up feeling as if I had swallowed razors. Rumor has it this virus turns into a nasty head cold. The rest of me actually felt pretty good, but who knew what would happen next?…I knew exactly what I needed.
The Taste of Santa Fe
The nurturing effects of a bone broth, with the clearing capabilities of roasted chili’s. Everyone know’s the healing effect’s of chicken soup, but today we will explore it from an Ayurvedic perspective.
Of course, I didn’t follow a recipe, I followed a taste in my heart. But I did make you one 🙂
- 6.5 lbs Chicken (whole, bone in, organs removed)
- 2 tbs. Coriander Seed (a small handful)
- 4 tbs. Dried Oregano (another handful)
- 1 tbs. Black Peppercorns
- 1 tbs. Himalayan Salt
- 1 tbs. Garlic Powder.
- 1 tbs. Ancho Chile Powder
- 1 tbs. Cumin Seeds
- 1 tbs. Minced Garlic
- 1/2 tbs. Dried Lemon Peel
- 1/2 tbs Dried Thyme
- 1 tbs Paprika
- 1/2 tbs Dried Rosemary
- 1/2 tbs Dried Sage
- 1/2 tbs Hing (asofoetida)
Let every thing boil for minimum on hour, but I recommend a little longer. You want the chicken to be falling off the bone. Not listed here is all the scraps from the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic that I used in the soup. Don’t worry, it will all be filtered out.
- 2 Poblano Peppers (2 oz)
- 2 Sweet Italian Peppers (2 oz)
- 2 Jalapeños (1.3 oz)
- 2 Small Yellow Onions (2 oz)
- 1 Monster Carrot- Was the size of 4 regular carrots! (10.3 oz)
- 4 Celery Stalks (4.25 oz)
- Portobello Mushrooms (5.25 oz)
- Hominy- This is what makes is dish unique (20 oz can)
I roasted ALL the vegetable first. This concentrates the flavor, and also makes them have a more warming effect on the body. Which is great for cold climate, and when you have the chills.
I did this preparatory work while the stock was bubbling away. The mushrooms and peppers only take about 20 mins, while the hardier veggies like celery and carrots take longer. So you may want to check it from time to time.
When the chicken is done grab a very large container, and put your strainer inside of it. You may also want to place a cheese cloth on top of it to strain the smaller things. Dump everything in, pull the strainer out, and plan in another bowl to continue draining and cool.
While the chicken is cooling, put the strained brother back into the soup pot. If you have a lot of fat, you can skim it off by holding a spoon horizontal and letting the beads float in. This is called clarifying. I did not have much, and left mine in for flavor. It is a lean soup anyhow.
I got about 12 cups of broth.
Chop up your roasted vegetable and put in the broth. Bring it up to a low simmer. Pull all the meat off the bones, omitting the skin, bone, cartilage, and anything that is not straight meat. Dice the chicken, and put in the simmer soup pot.
I had about 30.5 oz of chicken meat.
This nostalgic soup make 8 hearty bowls worth, with the following macros: 306 calories, 25 carbs, 6 fat, and 38 protein.
Between my garden and my CSA, I had plenty of peppers. The soup was delicious, but not as spicy as I had hoped. If you prefer a more subtle warm up, stick with this recipe. Next time I think I will add some chipotle chilis in Adobo sauce to the stock. …Historically this soups is made with New Mexican chili peppers, and pork instead of chicken.
You may also like to garnish this soup with avocado & cilantro.
Pictured here is: David Frawley, esteemed author, and founder of the American Institute of Vedic Studies; and friend Neva Ingalls, Owner of Inner Domain, a Yoga and Ayurveda Training School.
Here is break down of the qualities that this soup contains per ingredient, I used www.joyfulbelly.com as my reference, and includes link for every ingredient in case you would like more information. Every craving something? Look it up and see why.
- Chicken- grounding, nourishing, sweet
- Yellow Onion- warming, diaphoretic, grounding, sweet
- Carrot- stimulating, purifying, sweet
- Celery- detoxifying, pungent, bitter
- Black Pepper- destroys mucus, pungent, stimulant
- Coriander Seed- digestive aid, bitter, pungent
- Oregano- anti-bacterial, anti-fingal, warming
- Garlic- pungent, moving, decongestant, expectorant
- Cumin- aids digestion & assimilation, drying, blood purifier
- Hing- aids digestion, expectorant, stimulating
- Sweet Pepper- pungent, sweet, bitter, anti-inflammatory
- Hot Pepper- pain killer, anti-inflamatory, anti-bacterial, improves digestion, stimulating, warming, euphoric, thins mucus
- Pozole (corn)- diuretic, drying, warming, sweet
- Mushroom- immune stimulant, detoxifying, grounding
All pictures, except the one of me, are taken by me.
Sweet & Savory Summer Snack
Mmmm this snack is oh so satisfying!
Every once in a while I just get a hankering for beets and olives. Usually when this happen’s I make my way to the salad bar; pairing it with a hardboiled egg, chickpea salad, artichoke hearts, and some tuna fish over romaine.
Yesterday I went to Chestertown’s super cute wine and cheese shop. I got a black & Green olive medley, some Etna Salami (Pistachio & Lemon Scented), and the most delicious Farmer’s Cheddar that has crunchy flavor crystals. Soooo good!
I had a little cheese and olive left over so I cut up a medium size beet and whipped it together with the remainder of the olives and cheese.
2.5 once of Farmer’s Cheddar
1 Medium Beet (2.8 ounces, not pickled)
10 olives – Black & Green
Diced everything, stir and serve!