Ayurveda Tips for Holiday Eating

In the United States, the Thanksgiving holiday (the last Thursday of November) marks the beginning of six weeks holiday festivities, family feasts and seasonal treats. The ancient Indian health science of Ayurveda offers helpful tips on how to navigate holiday season without gaining weight or over-eating.

Winter cravings

The increasingly colder days of fall bring with them an increase in Vata dosha — the subtle energy in the body that governs movement. When Vata dosha predominates, there is an increase in dry, rough and cool qualities in the body. This dryness can disturb various tissues and organs. Many people notice dry skin and lips during the winter months. Dryness can also occur in the colon or large intestine, leading to constipation. Simultaneously you may find that you develop cravings for heavy, sweet and unctuous foods. This is simply your body’s attempt to balance the increase in Vata by increasing Kapha. Unfortunately, these heavier foods can also lead to poor digestion and to an accumulation of toxins over the winter, which could lead to allergies in the spring.


Holiday Eating Tips

The following tips can help you navigate the holiday festivities, pacifying Vata dosha while avoiding the weight-gain often brought on by Kapha-increasing foods.

  1. At the start of the holiday season, consult an Ayurvedic expert to see if you have any nutritional deficiencies or imbalances. If these are left untended, you may find yourself at the mercy of cravings and compulsive eating.
  2. When you first arrive at a gathering, request a cup of hot water. This will help to pacify Vata and also help you avoid mindless eating. In addition, people often mistake thirst for hunger. If you are well hydrated, you will feel less compulsion to eat. Drinking plain hot water throughout the day is a simple Ayurvedic secret for improved health.
  3. Always sit down at a table to eat. Don’t eat if you are standing or moving.
  4. Whenever you eat, give eating your full attention. Enjoy your food — even if you are eating something “naughty”. Eating mindlessly does not allow you to properly taste, experience, or digest your food. As a result, even if you are full, you will feel unsatisfied and want to eat more later. Don’t multli-task at meal times.
  5. Learn about the six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Each taste satisfies a different need. Missing one or more of the tastes can result in cravings. Try to have all six tastes at each meal. If this sounds daunting, there are spice combinations (churnas) made specifically for this.
  6. Favor warm, cooked foods. If you want to indulge in heavier foods, do so at mid-day, when your digestive “fire” is stronger. Try to keep evening meals light, favoring soups and cooked vegetables.
  7. Try to take small portions. Ideally you should feel refreshed and energized after eating, not dull. Over-eating compromises digestion. When you overeat, even though you ingest more than you need, your body actually assimilates less. This can result in nutritional deficiencies, perpetuating cravings and the habit of overeating.

Eating with full attention and enjoyment improves digestion. It settles and strengthens your entire system. This can have far-reaching health benefits seemingly unrelated to nutrition.

If you find that you have over-indulged during the holidays, consider enjoying traditional Ayurvedic detoxification treatments, called Panchakarma in January or February. The soothing oils used in the treatments help detoxify body fat and the recommended diet before, during and after treatment is the perfect way to get back into healthy eating habits. Scheduling Panchakarma treatments in January can reset your physiology for the rest of the year and help eliminate the effects of holiday indulgences.

Learn more about Ayurveda treatments for weight loss and detoxification at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:


Staying Healthy During Vata Season


As we progress into the cool days of fall and winter, many people find themselves bothered by Vata disorders such as anxiety, tension, insomnia, constipation and aching joints. Vata dosha becomes aggravated during cold, dry, windy weather because the nature of Vata itself is dry, cold, light and active. To keep Vata in check, try these recommendations:

  1. Drink plenty of hot water. Sipping hot water frequently throughout the day will help you accomplish two things: 1) pacify Vata and 2) dissolve ama, the sticky waste-product of improper digestion that can build up in tissues and joints and clog the channels of your body.
  2. Favor hot drinks and meals. Opt for warm, heavy foods. Cold drinks and cold, light foods increase Vata. Be sure to avoid ice-cold beverages and foods. Accept that ice cream season is over.
  3. Try to get more rest than usual. Because Vata is active and restless by nature, one the best ways to balance Vata is to get extra sleep. With the sun rising later and setting earlier in the day, there are fewer hours of daylight. This is a signal from Nature to spend more time resting. Remember that according to Ayurveda we gain a better quality of rest if we fall asleep before 10:00 p.m. and rise before 6:00 a.m.If you need more than eight hours of sleep, try going to bed earlier rather than sleeping in. Sleeping late in the morning can lead to blockages of the shrotas, the channels of the body through which the natural intelligence of the body flows. This can aggravate both Vata and Kapha and can throw off the biological rhythms of your body.
  4. Maintain a regular routine. During Vata season is it important to mainain regular routines of rest and activity. Modern science is now in agreement with this ancient principle of Ayurveda. Research has shown that our bodies are designed to respond to an internal clock that typically follows a 24-hour repeating pattern (circadian rhythm), which tells us when we are ready to sleep and get up. If this internal clock is altered — due to inadequate sleep, poor quality sleep or not sleeping at the right time — it compromises the body’s optimal functioning. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day; try not to vary weekday and weekend sleep/ wake routines too much; avoid strenuous exercise close to bedtime, and avoid bright lights from TV or laptop/ mobile phone screens which stimulate the brain to remain active.
  5. It is also good to maintain regular meal times. Avoid fasting during Vata season.Vata requires regular nourishment. While Ayurveda encourages smaller meals in the evening, be sure to have something warm and nourishing like soup, light grains (such as quinoa) and/or steamed vegetables.
  6. Exercise daily. Exercise increases circulation, improves your appetite and raises your body temperature. If it is too cold to go outside, go to the gym, use indoor equipment or exercise DVDs—or just dance around your house. Be careful not to overdo it, though. You should adjust the amount and intensity of exercise to fit your individual needs. If your level of exercise is such that you cannot breath comfortably through your nose, you are taxing your physiology and actually increasing Vata.
  7. Keep your head and ears covered when outside. Ears are one of the main seats of Vata. Protecting your ears and head from the wind and cold will make being outside in winter a more healthful experience
  8. Do daily abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil massage). Abhyanga is especially soothing for Vata dosha because your skin is a primary seat of Vata.
  9. Start increasing your portions of foods that are sweet, sour and salty, as these pacify vata dosha. Spicy, astringent and bitter foods increase vata.
  10. Enjoy Panchakarma (Ayurvedic massage and detoxification therapies). Fall/winter is a good time to schedule a week of treatment at The Raj. While the cold wind blows outside, you can stay warm and cozy, enjoying soothing, warm herbalized oil and relaxing massages. In addition, undergoing Panchakarma before the holiday seasons can put in you the right frame of mind to enjoy the holidays without binge eating or straying from a healthful diet and routine.
  1. For more information on Panchakarma, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa site:www.theraj.com 

Getting the Most Out of Our Food—Helpful Tips from Ayurveda and Modern Science

With the fullness of summer comes bustling farmers’ markets and overflowing shelves in the fruit and vegetable sections of our grocery stores. It is the time of the year when the availability of local produce is at its peak. Indulge! Studies have shown that eating seven or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day can extend life expectancy a staggering 42%.

To cook vegetables or to eat them raw is the question of the season. According to Ayurveda, this decision is best made with an understanding of your body type, your state of balance or imbalance, and the quality of your digestion.

Ayurveda’s main text, the Charak Samhita, recommends primarily cooked foods because cooking increases the element of agni that is essential for the assimilation of nutrients and their transformation into the bodily tissues. The higher proportion of nutrients available in raw food doesn’t count if you can’t digest, absorb and assimilate them. Let’s look first at body types and who can eat what. Then we’ll move on to specific foods and how to best make their nutrients available to us.

In order to choose the best option for your physiology, not only do you need to evaluate your individual physiology, it also helps take into account seasonal influences. In the summer, for instance, our body reacts to the high external heat by turning down our metabolism. This means that for many the ability to digest food is severely diminished.


Raw Food vs Body Type

In general, those with Pitta, or Pitta/Kapha body types who do not have significant Vata imbalances can handle raw foods in their diet, especially in the late spring and summer seasons. This is because the element of “fire” or “agni” is very lively in their constitutions and they benefit from a cooling diet.

The overly cold, dry, light qualities of raw foods, however, may create problems for anyone with a severe Vata imbalance. They may find an increase in symptoms of abdominal gas, bloating, constipation, worry and anxiety, and dryness. Those wishing to balance or counter Vata imbalances do better with a diet that is warm, moist and easily digestible.

Those with Kapha imbalances may find that the cold nature of raw foods leads to allergies, sinus problems or asthma.

One solution for those who prefer raw foods but lack a strong Pitta component is to enjoy raw juices. Juicing or blending with “super blenders” that basically pulverize foods allows you to break down the cellulose the surrounds the outer layer of fruit and vegetable molecules, thus allowing you to derive optimum nutritional benefits.

Nutrient Availability in Foods 

It turns out that many vegetables only offer their full nutritional value when they have been cooked. Let’s look at how to get the most out of this summer’s fresh, organic vegetables.

It is important to note that when I refer to cooking vegetables, I am usually referring to steaming for 4 or 5 minutes or baking in the oven with a slight drizzle of oil. Obviously, mushy, over-cooked vegetables are not going to provide many healthful nutrients. Boiling vegetables removes many important minerals and nutrients.

Cooking vegetables reduces the mass of the vegetable, concentrating more nutrients with less bulk. Bitter greens like spinach and kale are generally more edible when cooked because cooking also eliminates the oxalic acid, which interferes with calcium absorption.

Cooking significantly improves the digestibility and bioavailability of starchy foods such as potatoes and yams, squashes. This is also true with grains and legumes.

(One note about whole grains: the phosphorus in bran is tied up in a substance called phytic acid. According to the book, Nourishing Traditions, phytic acid combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, blocking their absorption. This is why many traditional ways of cooking grains include presoaking or fermenting grains before eating them. These processes neutralize the phytates, essentially predigesting the food so that their nutrients are more available. Phytic acid is also present in nuts, which also should be soaked before eating.)

Green beans always need to be cooked until soft otherwise, they are actually toxic. Raw beans are poisonous because they contain prussic acid, which is deactivated only by cooking.

Cooked carrots, spinach, asparagus, cabbage, and peppers supply more antioxidants such as carotenoids and ferulic acid to the body than they do when raw,

Mild heating, such as steaming, appears to improve the extractability of beta-carotene from vegetables, along with increasing betacarotene’s bioavailability. Beta-carotene absorption can be as low as 1-2% from raw vegetables such as carrots.

Lycopene in tomatoes is thought to be responsible for reducing the risk of some cancers and heart disease. Studies have shown that the absorption of lycopene is greater from cooked tomatoes. However cooking tomatoes can destroy other vitamins, so it is good to include raw tomatoes in one’s diet as well as cooked tomatoes.

Steaming asparagus ignites its cancer-fighting potential.

If you have any questions about which form of vegetables is best for you, check with an Ayurveda expert in your area. Ayurveda pulse assessment will reveal what kinds and forms of vegetables will be most helpful in creating a healthy balance for your mind/body system. Ayurveda recognizes the unique differences of each individual. In order to correctly determine your optimal requirements, it is important to understand your level of balance and imbalance. For information on Ayurvedic consultations, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:


Reducing Vata for Better Sleep, Mental Health, and Physical Well-Being


By the end of January and beginning of February those of us who live in northern climates have peaked in terms of the accumulation of Vata in our physiology. Months of cold, dry, windy weather results in an increase of those same qualities in our bodies: dryness, coolness, movement and quickness. When Vata becomes imbalanced we can experience symptoms such as trouble sleeping, aching joints and muscles, arthritis, emotional instability, high blood pressure, dry skin, increased sensitivity to the cold weather, and depression.

With months of cold weather still ahead of us, this is the time to adopt a diet and daily routine that will help settle Vata. One of the most basic approaches to balancing Vata is to follow a regular routine—eating and going to sleep at the same time each day. In fact, going to bed early on a regular basis is one of the most powerful tools available for balancing Vata.

In terms of diet, the key word is “warm”. Eat foods that are warming and fresh. The same goes for any liquid that we drink (and we need to be drinking lots of liquid to offset the drying influence of winter heating.) Be sure to drink a number of cups of warm water and herbal teas throughout the day. Never have iced drinks or food.

Vata imbalances often lead to constipation. This is another reason to drink plenty of warm fluids during the day. Drinking two glasses of warm water when you wake up can help stimulate bowel functioning. Hot water with black salt can also be helpful in this area.

During the winter you may find yourself thinking more about food than you did during the summer. This is because when the cold, dry weather of winter starts to aggravate Vata dosha, our bodies naturally begin to crave heavier more unctuous Kapha-type foods to help counter this effect. In addition, cold weather tends to cause our internal digestive fire to increase, thus creating an increase in our appetite. As long as you don’t eat more than you can comfortably digest, larger portions at meals can help keep Vata in balance. While we don’t want to gain weight and accumulate ama over the winter months, it is not recommended to try to lose weight during the winter.

Eat more foods that increase Kapha: those with sweet, sour, and salty tastes. Eat fewer foods with bitter, astringent, and pungent tastes. Avocados, bananas, mangoes, peaches, lemons, pumpkins, asparagus, carrots, beets, almonds, sesame seeds, quinoa, rice, mung beans, and ghee are all excellent Vata-pacifying foods.

Oil is our friend in the winter. Using olive oil and ghee in our meals will help counter the drying effects of Vata

Along this same line of thinking, daily oil massage with sesame oil is particularly helpful in the winter. The warm, unctuous quality of the oil is the perfect antidote to the cold, dry qualities of Vata. If you are Pitta by nature, you may prefer coconut oil or olive oil, as sesame oil is naturally heating. Ideally you’ll want to heat your oil before applying it. Letting your bottle of oil float in hot water for a few minutes will bring the oil to a nice, soothing temperature. Try to keep the oil on your skin for 5 or 10 minutes before your shower or bath.

Stay warm. Cover your ears and head when you leave the house. Because ears are one of the main seats of Vata, it is best not to expose them to cold and winds. Two of the main qualities of Vata are cold and dryness. Make sure the temperature in your home and work place is comfortable. If you have central heating, consider a humidifier to counter the dryness it creates. Because Vata-types are sensitive to moving air it is best to avoid drafts or fans.

It can be easy to become a little lazy during the snowy, colder months. Try to incorporate Yoga or some kind of gentle stretching exercise into your routine, as well as other comfortable and easy exercise. Don’t strain or over-do with your winter exercise routine. Vata tends to dry up the lubricating qualities of Kapha in the body. This is why more athletes experience pulled muscles or other injuries during the winter. This is especially true for those over 50 (those in the Vata time of life). Spring is a much better season for vigorous exercise, as the influence of Kapha is at its peak and we will naturally have more strength and stamina.

If you find that diet, lifestyle and self-massage are not helping to control symptoms of Vata imbalance, it may be that your Vata imbalance has gone deep into the tissues. In this case Panchakarma, the traditional rejuvenation treatments of Ayurveda, are recommended. Panchakarma removes Vata from the tissues by using various herbal decoctions and oil preparations in combination with specialized treatments to treat the root of the Vata imbalance.

For more information on Ayurveda consultations and Panchakarma treatments, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site:


Ayurveda Beauty Tips for All Skin Types

According to Ayurveda, the dosha Vata predominates in the fall and early winter. Vata also increases in people over the age of 50 and in those who are under a lot of stress. One of the results of an imbalance of Vata is that our skin can become dry, irritated and rough. One of the best tools for keeping a youthful complexion is to avoid excess Vata.

Here are some Ayurvedic tips that will not only help to slow down Vata accumulation in the body, but will also help nourish the body, supporting soft, radiant skin from the inside out.


  1. Hydrate

Drinking water (either plain or in the form of other fluids or foods) is essential to your health. Fluid losses occurs naturally due to skin evaporation, breathing, and normal elimination, and these losses must be replaced daily for good health. Your body is composed of about 60% water and depends on fluids for proper digestion, absorption, circulation, the transportation of nutrients and the regulation of body temperature.

During the cold months of the year, heating systems, especially forced air heat, cause additional loss of fluids. So putting attention on staying hydrated in the winter is as important as during the hot months of summer.

Skin needs moisture to stay flexible. Even mild dehydration will cause your skin to look dry, tired and slightly grey. Drink plenty of plain water throughout the day: hot water is best for Vata and Kapha types, while room temperature is best for Pittas. Don’t drink iced beverages. Avoid carbonated beverages. Remember that caffeinated drinks are diuretic, ultimately reducing the amount of water in your system.

  1. Keep a Good Routine

Eat a light, cooked meal at night. When the body does not have to work hard at night digesting food, it can turn its attention to self-repair and rejuvenation. You’ll wake up feeling fresh and light and you will see an immediate difference in your skin, energy levels and general immunity.

Go to bed early. The evening Pitta time is meant for self-repair. By staying up past 10:00 p.m., your body misses out on the opportunity to recover from wear and tear of the day. Over time, this can take a real toll on your health. Going to bed late and getting up late does not make up for missing the critical 10:00 pm to 2:00 am window for sleeping. This kind of deep fatigue shows up immediately on your face.

  1. Eat Fresh, Nourishing Foods

Favor fresh cooked foods that can provide your body with the vitamins and minerals that you need to stay at your best. A variety of chemicals from plants (known as phytochemicals) can protect cells from harmful compounds in the environment. Fruit and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants that help to protect skin from the cellular damage caused by free radicals. Beta-carotene, found in pumpkin, carrots and sweet potatoes, and lutein, found in kale, papaya and spinach are potent antioxidants, important for normal skin cell development and healthy skin tone

Green leafy vegetables, coconut, carrots and sweet juicy fruits provide an abundance of vitamins A, C, and E. and help to nourish the outer level of the skin. Research has shown that people who eat foods rich in vitamin C have fewer wrinkles and less age-related dry skin than those who don’t. Vitamin C fights free radicals, which damage cells and break down collagen, leading to fine lines

Phyto-estrogens are natural chemicals found in plant foods (phyto meaning plant). They have a similar structure to the female sex hormone estrogen and have been found to help keep our natural hormones in balance. There are different types, some are found in soya bean products, whereas others are found in the fiber of whole grains, fruit, vegetables and flax seeds. Include phyto-estrogen rich soya, whole grains, fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet.

Avoid canned and processed foods and foods with preservatives. Some research suggests that a diet high in processed or refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats promotes skin aging.

Don’t be afraid of fat: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (the types found in avocados, fish, nuts and seeds) provide essential fatty acids, which act as a natural moisturizer for your skin, keeping it supple. These fats also contain vitamin E, which can help protect against free radical damage.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fats are essential fatty acids, which mean they cannot be made in the body and must be obtained through the diet. Omega-3s can be found in oily fish and plant sources such as flaxseed oil, linseeds, walnut and rapeseed oil. Omega-3 fats encourage the body to produce anti-inflammatory compounds, which can help skin, particularly inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Remember, many of the best foods for healthy skin also promote good health overall. Rather than focusing on specific foods for healthy skin, concentrate on a healthy diet in general. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Include nuts, seeds and beans in your favorite meals. Opt for whole-grain breads and pasta. Limit sweets. Strive for variety as you’re making healthy choices.

  1. Keep a Good Routine

Eat a light, cooked meal at night. When the body does not have to work hard at night digesting food, it can turn its attention to self-repair and rejuvenation. You’ll wake up feeling fresh and light and you will see an immediate difference in your skin, energy levels and general immunity.

Go to bed early. The evening Pitta time is meant for self-repair. By staying up past 10:00 p.m., your body misses out on the opportunity to recover from wear and tear of the day. Over time, this can take a real toll on your health. Going to bed late and getting up late does not make up for missing the critical 10:00 pm to 2:00 am window for sleeping. This kind of deep fatigue shows up immediately on your face.

  1. Take Steps to Avoid Stress

Stress is a major factor in the aging process. Daily meditation quiets the mind, releases stress and allows the body to produce anti-aging biochemicals. At The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa, we recommend the Transcendental Meditation program, which is the only meditation recommended by the American Heart Association, based on over 600 research studies that prove its effectiveness. Studies have shown that Transcendental Meditation helps alleviate stress, reduce blood pressure, anxiety, depression and anger.

Ayurveda recommends that women minimize activity during their days of menstrual flow. If it is possible, take steps to adopt a slower pace to reduce stress and fatigue. This is a time of natural purification. If you are active during this time, the body is not able to effectively eliminate wastes and impurities. It can also cause imbalances in Vata.

6. Protect your Skin

You can help “lock” moisture into your skin by using moisturizer, which creates a physical barrier to keep moisture in. An oil massage in the morning before your shower also helps in this way.

Sweet almond oil is a good moisturizer for almost everyone. Pat on after washing the face, then blot with a soft tissue. (Whenever using anything new on your face, try a small amount on the neck area first to check for sensitivity.)

For a gentle, natural cleanser you can make at home, grind masala dal (check out your local health food store of Indian grocery store) into a powder and soak in milk for 1/2 hour. Make a think mixture to wash with or make a thicker paste to use as a facial mask. Rinse off with water at the appropriate temperature for your skin type. Pitta types may want to use cooler water, for example. Never use extremely hot water on your face!

Nourish your skin with milk. Once a day dip a cotton ball into a small bowl of organic milk and wipe your face thoroughly with it to remove dirt from your pores. Because of its fats and lactic acid, milk has tremendous moisturizing, softening properties. Adding milk to your bath will also soothe and nourish your skin.

Enjoy daily oil massage Daily oil massage pacifies Vata, helps remove toxins from the skin and leaves a protective barrier on the skin against environmental toxins. The skin is the largest organ in the body and one of the body’s main means of detoxifying. Daily oil massage helps support the detoxification process and helps protect the skin. If you don’t have time for a massage before your morning bath, try a massage at night before a long tub soak. Those with more Pitta constitutions may prefer olive oil or coconut oil. For Vata and Kapha types, the heating and penetrating quality of sesame oil makes it the number one choice.

Protect your skin from the elements. Take a seasonal approach to skin care. Even if someone has a Vata constitution, they will have to balance Pitta during the heat of the summer” In the winter, all skin types need to take steps to avoid Vata aggravating weather. This means avoiding extreme cold and harsh winds.

An Ayurveda expert can give you more specific details on your specific body type and imbalances than may require more individualized recommendations. For information on consultations and/or Ayurveda skin and beauty treatments, contact The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:


Hot Water: the Simplest Ayurveda Tip for Balancing Vata and Removing Ama

Ayurveda considers removing toxins and impurities from the body and preventing their build-up in the tissues to be of prime importance. Ayurveda refers to these impurities as “ama”. Ama is considered to be a contributing factor in many diseases because it disrupts the delicate biochemistry in the tissues and blocks the channels of circulation and communication. This process often starts with poor digestion, which creates the toxins, and poor elimination, which allows the toxins to be absorbed into the circulatory system and transported throughout the body.

Removing ama is the primary target of Panchakarma, the traditional Ayurveda purification and detoxification therapies. Many of the recommendations that you receive during an Ayurveda consultation are aimed at preventing the accumulation of ama and removing ama that has build up in the body. Of the recommendations that can be done at home, drinking hot water frequently during the day is a simple and effective “anti-ama” approach.


Hot water flowing through the digestive tract helps to dissolve impurities and cleanse the entire digestive and eliminative systems. The result is an improvement in digestion and assimilation of food, improved elimination, and prevention of the formation of ama.

Also, the hot water is absorbed into the circulatory system and travels throughout the body. The extra warmth and fluid aids in opening circulation, dissolving accumulated impurities and washing them out of the body.

Many people report that after just a few weeks of this program, digestion and elimination improve and they feel lighter and fresher.

The Vata season (the cold, windy days of fall and early winter) is a perfect time to start a regime of sipping hot water throughout the day. The extra warmth and fluid will help counter the cold, drying effects of Vata.


The usual recommendation is to sip hot water frequently throughout the day — up to every half hour if possible. Water should be boiled first and then cooled just to the temperature where it can be sipped comfortably. Even taking a few small sips fulfills the recommendation.

Water Type

It is recommended that you use some kind of purified water for your daily hot water intake. Filtered tap water is best, followed by bottled spring water. Distilled water is not recommended. If you use a powerful reverse osmosis filter, it is recommended that you occasionally use water from another source so that you continue to get some of the natural mineral content of the water.


Ideally water should be boiled for about 10 minutes. Boiling the water allows excessive mineral deposits and impurities to precipitate out, and decreases the Kapha influence of the water: increasing the water’s lightness and cleansing influences.

Boiling water each morning and placing it in a thermos is an effective, timesaving approach.

Herbal Additions

A few slices of ginger root, a pinch of turmeric or a few fennel seeds may be added to the boiling water if desired. These herbs can increase the cleansing influence of the water. Lemon may also be added it if is not upsetting to the stomach.




Travel Tips: Staying Balanced and Healthy with Ayurveda

By popular request, we are rerunning our blog on Ayurveda Travel Tips from last year. And we’re adding a few extra tips to help you make your holiday travels more health promoting.

Traveling during the fall and winter holidays has its particular challenges. Traveling at any time of the year tends to disturb Vata dosha. The principle quality of Vata is movement. Plane, train and car travel can excite Vata and cause it to move out of place. Because late fall/early winter is a time when Vata predominates in our environment and physiologies, we need to be extra alert during these months about maintaining balance. Otherwise the qualities of instability, dryness, and roughness increase, leading to constipation, insomnia, anxiety, dry skin, moodiness and fatigue. To stay in the peak of mental and physical health while traveling, try these suggestions:


Get plenty of rest. Make sure you are well rested before you start your trip. This may mean packing a few days before your trip so you do not stay up too late the night before your departure. Take naps during your travels and practice the Transcendental Meditation technique.Remember, rest is the number one approach for pacifying Vata.

Try not to rush. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport and check in. If you are 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 (more than usual). Bring along a thermos of Vata tea in your car or ask your flight attendant for hot water and then add your own tea bag. The oxygen used in your plane cabin can be extremely dehydrating, leading to dry skin, fatigue, constipation, and poor concentration. Start drinking extra water a few days before you travel and continue through your travels. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which are diuretic in nature and will promote dehydration, as well as additional stimulation. Sugary drinks and alcohol should also be avoided.

Avoid cold drinks and cold food. The extra liquid you are drinking should be either room temperature or hot.

Avoid eating large quantities of food while you are in the air or traveling in the car. Don’t eat the airplane food. 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.

Sunlight helps reduce jet lag. If you arrive at your destination during the daylight hours, 20 minutes exposure to sunshine can help reset your body to local time. Adopt the local time as soon as you arrive. This is the day to resist the urge to nap. Set a clock so that you get up at the time you would rise at home.

Avoid Vata-aggravating foods such as salads, dried fruit and potato chips. Opt for warm, soothing foods. Oil is your friend at this time of the year and during your travels. At the same time, try to avoid junk foods, fried foods and heavy meats. Fresh fruit and cooked, easy-to-digest foods will help counter the constipation that often comes with traveling.

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 cannot leak into your luggage. Double bagging is recommended.) I usually take at least enough oil for a massage the first night and day.

Take Triphala with you. This Ayurvedic herbal remedy supports healthy functioning of the bowels (see blog on Triphala).

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:



Exercising in Vata Season

As the temperature outside drops and chilly winds begin to blow, Vata increases in our environment and in our physiologies. If you are a Vata-type or tend to have Vata imbalances, the transition into fall and winter may mean rethinking your exercise routine.

No matter what the season, understanding your Ayurveda body type is important when it comes to choosing a physical activity that supports health and balance as well as providing strength and fitness. But this is especially important in the fall. Because the main quality of Vata is movement, Vata dosha tends to move out balance very easily. It is simply its nature. Unfortunately, Vata imbalances can affect the other doshas as well, creating secondary imbalances in Pitta and Kapha. Keeping Vata in balance is one of the best preventative steps that you can take to stay healthy all winter long.

Understanding Your Physiology

Those with Vata-type physiologies tend to have little endurance, doing well with quick, short bursts. While they may love fast and vigorous activity, they can tire quickly and too much activity can throw them out of balance.

Pitta types are more agile, with a medium muscled frame. While they have less endurance than Kapha-types, Pittas do well with most exercises in moderation

Kapha types tend to be heavier, slower. They excel in endurance and have strong, steady energy.

Vata-Pacifying Exercise for Fall


While high impact sports like jogging or aerobics classes are generally fine for Pitta- and Kapha-types, Vata types do better with lower-impact sports. If you are heading inside for exercise, stationary bikes, cross-country ski machines or elliptical machines are better than treadmills. They provide an aerobic workout with a minimum of impact on the body, and they work not only the lower body but the upper body as well.

Strength training is also a good choice, as long as you do not strain. Better to do more repetitions at a lighter weight and slowly build up strength.

Yoga is an ideal exercise for those with Vata imbalances. Yoga positions should be done slowly and without strain.

If you are continuing to enjoy exercising outside, be sure to wear a hat, headband or ear muffs to protect your head and ears against the cold and winds. Brisk walking is a better choice than jogging.

In general, use comfort, balance and rest as your criteria for healthy exercise.

Ideal Times to Exercise

The ideal time for exercise is during Kapha time, after sunrise in the morning and until 10:00 am.

You can also try evening exercise between 6 and 10:00 pm, but be alert to how that may affect your sleep. Remember, it is good for Vatas to have some warm food in the evening so that they do not become hungry during the night. Therefore, you’ll want to have time in the evening to eat a relaxed meal and digest your food for some time before heading to bed. Don’t let exercising in the evening rush this evening routine. Sleep is the most important element in pacifying Vata; so a good evening should routine trump everything else.

If you are not sure what your body type is, consider scheduling a consultation with an Ayurveda expert.


Ayurveda Exercise Recommendations for Winter and Spring


These days there is no disputing the fact that exercise plays an important role in supporting both our physical and mental health. Exercise increases circulation and helps remove toxins and impurities (called “ama”) that have accumulated in the physiology. These deposits are a major factor in the breakdown of the resistance of the body.

Exercise is a key procedure for helping the body’s natural internal cleansing process. Exercise also helps increase mind-body coordination. According to Ayurveda, disease and disorders occur when the body loses contact with the underlying intelligence responsible for its maintenance and repair. Exercise involves the coordinated activity of body and mind and is a valuable aid in maintaining and enlivening the connection between the physiology and its underlying biological intelligence.

Ayurveda recommends exercising to 50% of capacity. Fifty percent capacity can be recognized when strain begins to appear in the body. You can tell if you are straining when breathing through the nose is no longer easy,  when sweat begins to appear on the forehead or nose, and when it becomes difficult to maintain proper form and focus during exercise.

Exercise should energize the physiology, leaving it feeling exhilarated and ready for work. Exercise should never exhaust the physiology, requiring extra rest for it to repair itself. When you reach a point of strain, don’t try to “push through”. Your body is letting you know that it is time to stop. Over-exercising turns on the body’s “fight or flight” systems, depleting the body’s reserves—exactly the opposite of the goal of exercise.

This caution is especially important for Vata types and for most body types during the Vata time of the year. Vata types have the quality of motion and changeability highly enlivened in their physiology. They need less exercise than the other major body types. They generally have more slender frames and less strong joints, and cannot take the pounding of heavy, extended exercise.

Exercising excessively during the cold, dry, windy days of Vata season will increase Vata in all body types. This can make one more susceptible to colds and flues. On the other hand, the harsh, cold temperatures of winter can discourage exercise and lead to months of sedentary habits. A complete lack of exercise—often accompanies by poor eating habits—can lead to an accumulation of toxins and to weight gain. While this may provide a feeling of comfort during winter, the price is paid in the spring when the release of built-up of toxins in the body can lead to allergies, spring colds, and asthma.

Committing to a regular, moderate and blissful exercise routine in the winter will help maintain balanced health throughout both the winter and spring seasons. Once the wet, Kapha days of spring arrive, you can begin to increase your exercise routine, especially if you are Kapha by nature. Kapha types have an inherent tendency toward heaviness, and as a result need significant quantities of exercise. Because Kapha types have strong frames and joints, they can more easily withstand vigorous and extended exercise.

The transition of winter to spring is a good time to check in with an Ayurveda expert to see how your body has maintained balance over the winter. If there is an accumulation of toxins, this is the time to take measures to adjust your diet and purify the physiology in order to avoid spring allergies and other disorders. For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site: www.theraj.com

Tasty Recipes to Balance Vata: Chapatis and Chutney

During Vata season digestion may be weakened because of the fluctuating characteristics of Vata. The integration of chapattis (flat breads made without yeast) and chutney into your meals can help promote good digestion and pacify Vata.



Ayurveda does not recommend yeasted breads because yeasted breads can promote ama (toxins) in the body. Yeasted breads can be difficult to digest and can aggravate Vata and cause bloating. The ideal bread is non-yeasted and made freshly at meal-time. Chapatis are enjoyed best piping hot from the stove.

The following recipe makes 12 individual servings

2 cups unbleached white flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 – 2//3 cup of warm water.

Step 1

Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Gradually add water until dough forms a firm ball.

Step 2

Dust the ball of dough with flour, cover and let set for 30 minutes. (This is an important step in increasing the digestibility of the chapatti)

Step 3

Cut the dough into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Put the ball onto a floured surface and use a rolling pin to create a 6 inch circle.

Step 4 — for those with gas cooktops

Place the chapati on a heated griddle or frying pan. Cook about 1 minute on each side.

Step 5 — for those with gas cooktops

Put the chapatti directly on the flame of a gas burner and cook until the bread puffs up.

Step 4 and 5 for those with electric cooktops

Take a clean kitchen towel and bunch the corner into a ball.

Place the chapati on a heated griddle or flying pan. Cook the chapatti until you see the surface become slightly darker in color. Flip the chapatti over and look for bubbles to form. Once the bubbles form, flip the chapatti again and quickly begin pressing the chapati with the cloth ball until the dough balloons. Flip once and remove.


RAISIN-GINGER CHUTNEY (A specialty of The Raj)

This chutney makes a tasty addition to meals and acts to stimulate the digestive fires.

Combine in a food processor:

3 tablespoons lime juice

1/3 cup orange juice

3/4 cup chopped, pealed fresh ginger root

1/2 cup raisins

For information on Ayurveda, Ayurveda consultations or Ayurveda treatments, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site: