Stimulating Tips for Kapha Season

As the weather changes from winter (Vata season) to spring (Kapha season) you may notice changes in your mind and body. During the wet and cool Kapha season, which lasts from March to June, you may feel the onset of spring fever or the need to take more exercise—and you also may be more likely to catch a cold or flu.

Lifestyle Tips

Here are some lifestyle tips to help you stay balanced, warm and dry during spring:

Eat hot food—hot in temperature and in spices as well.

Drink hot, stimulating drinks, such as teas with ginger.

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Cut down on refined sugars. Substitute raw, unheated honey instead. Honey is the only sweetener that is also astringent and has the ability to reduce Kapha. Be sure not to heat your honey and only add it to hot drinks when they are at “sipping temperature”.

Favor foods that with the following tastes: astringent (such as beans), spicy (chili peppers or curry powder, for example) and bitter (bitter greens and spinach). While you may find yourself tempted to start eatting more salads, be careful about avoiding cold foods.

Early to bed, early to rise. As Kapha season progresses, the sun rises earlier and earlier. If we are constantly waking up after the sun rises, we will feel sluggish and tired. This habit can result in the build-up of impurities (ama) which predisposes us to allergies and congestion.

Try to exercise in every morning. Getting some good, brisk exercise during the Kapha time of the morning (6:00 – 10:00) will help you maintain a healthy balance during this wet and cold season. Just as sleep is the number one took in balancing Vata, and diet the number one tool in balancing Pitta, exercise is the number one tool for balancing Kapha.

Get the Most from Your Food

Digestion tends to be sluggish during Kapha season. Here are some ways to help you perk up your digestive fires:

Try eating a ginger pickle before lunch or dinner. To make a ginger pickle, slice a thin piece of fresh ginger root (peeled). Sprinkle the slice with lemon juice and salt and eat it about 15 minutes before a meal.

Be sure to remain seated for 5 to 10 minutes after you finish eating in order to give your digestion a chance start processing the meal.

Sore Throat Relief

If you feel a sore throat coming on, try taking 3/4 teaspoon of raw honey mixed with 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric. The astringent tastes of turmeric and honey help to dry up congestion and prevent a sore throat. Of course, if the symptoms last more than two days, be sure to see your doctor.

This is also the perfect time to check in with an Ayurveda expert or to schedule Ayurvedic detoxification and purification treatments (Panchakarma). For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site:

www.theraj.com

Spring Ayurveda Health Tips

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Ayurveda cautions us to be especially alert during seasonal transitions because the body functions differently in each season. This is especially true in the transition from winter to spring—from Vata season to Kapha season. Late winter marks the transition time from Vata to Kapha. The frigid temperatures of January and February are behind us, the days are lengthening, giving more time for the sun to warm the earth, and nature is beginning to wake up.

As the temperatures rise, melting snow and ice, our environment and our physiology shift into a different mode of functioning. Moving from “hibernation mode” during which our bodies tend to store fat and crave heavier, Vata-pacifying foods, the body now begins to melt accumulated fat. If we have accumulated ama during the earlier months of winter, these toxins start getting released into the body’s micro-channels. This flood of toxins can compromise our immunity, opening the door to colds and flues. This excess of ama can also create joint problems and lead to sinus problems, asthma, bronchial infections, allergies and hay fever.

In addition to the build-up of ama, as the cold, wet qualities of Kapha increase in our environment, they also increase in our body. Kapha is what our body is made out of — our bodily fluids and our muscles, fat and bone. The main seat of Kapha is located in the chest, but we also find Kapha in the throat, sinuses, nose, stomach, joints, plasma, and also in secretions of the body, like mucus. Mucus has its function in protecting important tissue in the body. But an excess of mucus can lead to colds and other disorders. Because childhood is the Kapha time of life, during this season children may be especially vulnerable to producing excess mucus and experiencing upper respiratory illnesses. You can see why spring in a traditional time for cleansing and detoxing. The body is already in a natural detox mode and often needs our support.

Tips for Kapha Season  Diet:

Generally try to favor Kapha-pacifying foods such as bitter greens, beans and dals, and fruits such as apples, pomegranates. Continue to eat warm foods, but opt for lighter foods such as soups. Switch to grains such as barely, quinoa, couscous and millet. Avoid cold drinks and food, processed foods, fried foods, and heavy foods such as red meat and dairy.

Spices:

Adding pungent spices to your food will help increase your agni, or digestive fire, and help eliminate mucus and phlegm. Enjoy black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, clove, and ginger. Try drinking ginger tea to help enliven your digestive fires. Also a glass of lukewarm water with ½ tsp of unheated honey first thing in the morning is a good combination. It not only helps warm the body but also digests all the toxins.

Exercise: One of the best ways to balance Kapha is to get exercise. Breaking a sweat by going for a brisk walk, run, or even using Swedna, or steam bath, can help relieve congestion and increase circulation. It’s important to choose the right exercise for your body type. If you have not been exercising regularly throughout the winter, start gently so as not to strain the physiology. Brisk daily walks and yoga postures are good for Vata types. More vigorous daily exercise is helpful for Kapha. Working up a sweat is during Kapha season, because it helps to boost agni, increase circulation and relieve congestion.

Sleep: Ideally, try to be in bed by 10:00 p.m so that you can wake up around 6:00 a.m. Try not to sleep into Kapha time (6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p,m.)

Oil Massage: Start the morning with an oil-massage followed by a warm bath. This will help to open the pores, and regulate your body’s internal thermostat. This is helpful in both Vata and Kapha season.

Panchakarma: This is also a great time for Panchakarma — the traditional purification treatments of Ayurveda. Panchakarma includes a full program of Ayurvedic massage, steam and heat treatments, and intestinal cleansing treatments, to rid your body of ama accumulated during the previous season. Panchakarma also helps to strengthen your agni, or digestive fire, in order to help prevent a build-up of ama in the future.

For more information on Panchakarma or consultations with an Ayurveda expert, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa

web site: www.theraj.com

Ayurveda Tips for Holiday Eating

images-2Here are a few guidelines for everyone during the holidays, whether you have a tendency to overeat or just want to maintain a healthy digestion.

  1. Sit at a table when you eat or drink.
  2. Don’t do anything else while you eat. This includes watching TV, listening to music, reading or discussing business. Eating mindlessly does not allow you to properly taste and digest your food. You are more apt to feel unsatisfied and want to eat more, even though you are full.
  3. Avoid eating heavy meals in the evening when our digestion is naturally weaker. Try to schedule heavy holiday meals at lunchtime and favor light nutritious foods such as vegetable soups or steamed vegetables and couscous in the evening.
  4. Include all six tastes in each meal—sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent. Each taste satisfies a different need. Missing one or more can result in cravings.
  5. Perk up your digestion with a slice of fresh ginger sprinkled with a bit of salt and lemon before your meal. This helps get the digestive fires stimulated and ready for the job of breaking down your food to their essential nutrients in a form that can be easily absorbed and utilized by the body.
  6. Do not overeat. According to Ayurveda, ideal digestion takes place when your stomach is no more than three-fourths full, which for most people measures about two cupped handfuls of food. If you still feel hungry, eat a little more. You should feel refreshed and energized after eating, not dull. Remember that overeating impairs digestion. When you eat more than you need, your body actually assimilates less. This can result in nutritional cravings and a habit of overeating. This can also result in being more susceptible to colds and flues. This is because a weak digestion results in the accumulation of undigested food or ama in the physiology. This can weaken the immune system, making it easier for viruses and bacteria to attack. If we can put attention on keeping our digestion strong, we can reduce or avoid the accumulation of toxins, and thereby throw off any bugs more easily. If you are interested in weight loss, maintaining strong digestion is essential.
  7. Avoid cold drinks and beverages. Avoid cold, raw or frozen foods.
  8. Sip warm water throughout the day to help cleanse the body. As soon as you arrive at a holiday festivity, ask for a cup of hot water or herbal tea. This will help you to avoid snacking.

www.theraj.com

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Ayurveda Travel Tips

images-3This is the time of year when many of us are beginning to make travel plans, whether it is for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, or simply planning a February escape from snow and cold weather. Traveling during the late fall and winter has its challenges. When we travel at any time of the year, vata dosha can get out of balance. But because this is the season when vata is predominant in our environment, we need to be extra alert about maintaining balance. To stay in peak health while on long car or airplane trips, try these suggestions:

Get plenty of rest. Take naps and practice the Transcendental Meditation technique.

Try not to rush. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport and check in. If driving, don’t speed. Your physiology doesn’t need any extra pressure. Don’t start out your trip feeling frazzled.

Drink plenty of warm fluids. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which will promote additional stimulation, sodas and alcohol. Bring along some Vata Tea in a thermos in your car or ask your flight attendant for hot water and then add your own tea bag.

Avoid cold drinks and cold food.

Avoid eating large quantities of food while you are in the air or traveling in the car. This is especially important when you are crossing time zones. It is better to eat your meal at the normal time after you arrive. If you are driving, bring a thermos of soup to enjoy along the way.

Adopt the local time as soon as you arrive. Resist the urge to nap. Reset your clock and then try to get up and go to bed at the same time as you would at home.

Avoid vata-aggravating foods such as salads, dried fruit and potato chips. Opt for warm, soothing foods.

Bring along some Ayurvedic sesame oil so that you can give yourself an oil massage when you arrive at your destination. The warm oil (you can warm it by floating the bottle in hot water in your sink) and tactile stimulation will go a long way toward soothing vata dosha. If you don’t have time for a full-body massage, try a quick foot massage. (Be sure to wrap the bottle of oil carefully so that it can not leak into your luggage. Double bagging is recommended.)

Schedule some Ayurveda treatments when you return home. Nasya can help with dryness in the nasal and sinus passages and can help address the vata-aggravating influence of traveling, as well as protecting from airborne allergens and pollutants.

Abhyanga (Ayurveda massage), Shirodhara (oil streamed across the forehead) and Swedana (herbalized steam therapy) are helpful treatments to help balance vata after travel— and throughout the winter.

Panchakarma treatments are the most significant Ayurvedic approach to both pacifying vata and drawing out and eliminating impurities that have accumulated during your travels. If you indulge in foods you do not usually eat while you are away, the home-preparation diet and detoxification treatments of Panchakarma will get you back on a healthy routine for the rest of the winter.  Not only will this it will help you transition into spring with fewer allergies and colds, it can help you shed any extra pounds you’ve gained during the holidays.

For more information on scheduling Ayurveda massages and treatments, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

 

 

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Keeping Kids Healthy with Ayurveda

kids-yogaThe traditional medical view is that kids get sick with colds, flu and other common illnesses because their immune system is untested and they have not previously been exposed to viruses. When they do come in contact with viruses and upper respiratory infections, they easily succumb. Later in life, having developed a resistance to these diseases, they do not get sick as often.

Ayurveda has a different view: Children tend to stay healthy and maintain their health if they eat the right foods, get proper rest and have a good routine. This helps the child maintain his or her own resistance and immunity. Teachers have long observed that some children who exposed to viruses and colds never get sick, while other children seem to always pick up the latest bug. While to some extent this is due to the child’s “prakritia” (body type) and inherent resistance, proper rest, diet and routine can help maximize the possibility for children to avoid colds and flues.

In Ayurveda, each of the three doshas—vata, pitta and kapha—are responsible for the expression of various aspects of nature in the body. Kapha is more structural and is responsible for heaviness and solidity. And kapha is responsible for maintaining the structural aspects of the body—muscles, joints, tissues, etc, as well as lubrication.

During our early, growing years, as the physical structure of the body is forming, kapha dosha is more predominant than the other doshas. Kapha is slow, heavy, sticky, firm and strong. And its proper functioning is essential for the ever-strengthening physiology to grow. If kapha becomes imbalances, however, because of its heavy and sticky qualities, it can slow digestion and produce excess mucus in the body. This can lead to colds, ear infections, etc.

DIET

In determining the proper diet for children, Ayurveda takes into consideration the domination of kapha at this time. Excess sweets and cold drinks and food are difficult for the slow digestion of early childhood to handle. Unfortunately these are the very foods that children often ask for: candies, chocolates, pastries, ice cream, cold drinks, cheese and heavily processed foods. They are also the kinds of foods that are easily accessible for busy parents. It is no coincidence that holiday times, beginning with Halloween, Thanksgiving and following through Christmas and Hanukkah, are times when parents often see an increase in colds and sickness in children.

A vegetarian diet is ideal for a young child. It should include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and can provide plenty of protein through a combination of grains, legumes, dairy and nuts.

Mild is healthy for most children, but Ayurveda cautions against serving milk cold. Boiling milk makes it easier to digest (for all ages).

Ideally the main meal should be at lunch, when digestion is stronger. Dinner should not include heavy foods such as cheese, yogurt or meat.

REST

According to Ayurveda, the more rested the physiology, the stronger the immune system will be. This is true for adults as well as kids. When children are tired from staying up late, they become more susceptible to colds and other respiratory illnesses. For greater strength and balanced physiological functioning, children under five should go to bed between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m. Children between the ages of five and eight should go to bed by 8:00 p.m. And children between the ages of eight and ten should be in bed by 8:30. This is far earlier than is generally practiced.

ROUTINE

Adopting an ideal Ayurvedic routine for your kids means getting up early in the morning, performing Ayurvedic oil massage before bathing, getting plenty of exercise and learning the Transcendental Meditation technique or the Transcendental Meditation Word of Wisdom for children under the age of ten. These techniques help promote well-being and happiness for a growing child.

Back in 1992 a study reported in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that levels of stress—rather than exposure to a virus—determines which people catch colds. Providing children with a tool to relieve stress at an early age is a gift that will keep them in good stead for the rest of their lives.

Of course creating an ideal routine for children means parents creating and participating in that routine themselves. Children are very sensitive and impressionable. They absorb the influences around them. The close relationship between parents and children is reflected in the health of the entire family. Parents must take care of themselves in order to provide maximum care and guidance for their children.

A family consultation with an Ayurveda expert can help parents develop an ideal diet, routines and guidelines their children — and for the entire family. For more information on scheduling a consultation, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:

www.theraj.com

 

 

( Picture of kids doing yoga. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Googles Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)