Rise and Shine!

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During springtime, when Kapha is becoming lively in our environment, getting up early becomes more important than ever. There is reason why early risers are said to be healthy, wealthy and wise. If you haven’t made the adjustment already, spring is the time to go to bed earlier and get in the habit waking up by 6:00 or 6:30.

  1. You’ll feel more energetic: The principles of Ayurveda recommend getting up an hour before sunrise to synchronize the body cycle with the rhythm of the sun. This time is called Bhrama Muhurta in Ayurveda and is believed to be an auspicious time where significant shifts in energy levels of the body take place. By getting up before the Kapha time of the day exerts its heavy influence (6:00 AM), you’ll feel more energetic throughout the day.
  2. You’ll have time to meditate and exercise If you wake up late your morning begins in a rush to get dressed and leave the house. Key activities that can support your quality of thought and activity through out the day, like mediation and exercise, get put aside. Waking up early in the morning gives you time to meditate, practice yoga and get some exercise, all activities proven to create a foundation of well-being.
  3. You’ll feel happier: While the energetic feeling after an early morning meditation and workout itself may be enough to keep you happy throughout the day, there is increasing evidence that early risers feel positive and more confident in their work, which results in long-term happiness. A study published in the journal “Emotion” noted that those who had their daily routine in sync with the sunrise and sunset pattern experiences more happiness than late risers.
  4. You’ll be more productive: The morning Vata period is one of the most productive times of the day. Your brain has rested well and neuronal connections and pathways have been re-charged during the night. Studies show you can think faster and have more focus during the morning hours. If you follow the rule of ‘early to bed, early to rise,’ you’ll find that much of your important work will get done in the first half of the day.
  5. You’ll get better sleep: Obviously, if you wake up early in the morning and begin your daily activities at an early hour, your body will be primed to go to bed earlier at night. According to Ayurveda, it is ideal to go to bed during the Kapha time of the day. This means closing the eyes before 10:00 PM. Evening Pitta time begins at 10:00 PM. The transformative qualities of Pitta should be used to repair the body from the wear and tear of the day’s activities. If you stay up late, you’ll find that Pitta ends up used for mental stimulation and /or late night snacking. Don’t rob your body of this important period of rejuvenation.
  6. You’ll feel happier: A study published in the Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences showed that people who stayed up late were three times more likely to experience depression as compared to those who went to bed early.

Factors That Affect Our Sleep:

Regular routine: One of the most important strategies for getting a good night’s sleep is getting in sync with our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day makes us feel much more refreshed than getting the same number of hours but at different times.

Exposure to Light: Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure, helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. Our brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark—making us sleepy—and less when it’s light—making us more alert. This means that spending long days in an office, shielded from natural light, can impact our daytime wakefulness. And lights at night—energy-efficient LED lights and blue light from TV and computer screens—can tell body that it is time to wake up.

Exercise: Research shows that regular exercise leads to better sleep at night and increased alertness during the day. Regular exercise also improves the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea and increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep. Even light exercise—such as walking for just 10 minutes a day—helps to improve sleep quality. It is good to note that exercise is not a quick fix. It can take several months of regular activity before you experience the full sleep-promoting effects.

Eating habits: It’s especially important to watch what you put in your body in the hours leading up to your bedtime. Caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it. If you drink coffee or tea, try enjoying it only in the morning hours.

Eat a light evening meal: Ayurveda recommends a light evening meal. We want the transforming quality of Pitta in the evening to be used for self-repair and not for digestion. In addition, heavy, fatty foods take a lot of work to digest and may keep us up at night.

If you have long-term problems with insomnia and are unable to switch to an early morning routine, you may be suffering from deep-seated Vata and/or Pitta imbalances. Check with an Ayurveda expert experienced in pulse assessment to find out the specific imbalances that are keeping you from a good routine. They will be able to give you individualized recommendations to culture a more healthful sleep cycle. For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Balancing Kapha, Vata and Pitta Doshas: Understanding Their Dynamic Interactions

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The cool, moist spring weather heralds the arrival of Kapha season. The qualities of Kapha dosha are cold, heavy, oily and smooth. These qualities tend to dominate in the environment and in the physiology from late February to the end of May.

The role of Kapha dosha is to maintain structural integrity—to resist any environmental influence from breaking down the physiology. This is why individuals who are Kapha-types have more highly developed physical structures (such as the musculature system) When Kapha becomes aggravated, however, the qualities of heaviness and dullness increase the Kapha’s protective value becomes obscured.

Interactions of the Doshas

We should keep in mind that every point of the physiology involves the interaction between Vata, Pitta and Kapha. So when we discuss an imbalance in one dosha, there will always be interactions with the other doshas. This point is especially true with Kapah dosha, the most physically inert of the three. Usually its stability becomes disturbed through a dynamic interaction with Vata or Pitta.

Kapha Follows the Leader

Because Kapha represents the material value of the physiology, it is less likely to become disturbed than Vata or Pitta. And because it is more material and slow and steady, Kapha tends to stay stable in its own location. Therefore, it is much more difficult to move Kapha out of its proper place.

This is why the original text of Ayurveda, Charaka Samhita, indicated that there are twice as many disorders and diseases caused by Vata as Pitta and twice as many disorders and diseases caused by Pitta as Kapha. This is also the reason why Kapha disorders are most commonly found associated with disturbances of Vata and Pitta. Usually, Vata is the first dosha disturbed, since it is most delicate and quick in its nature. And in its dynamic interaction with the other doshas, it can lead Pitta and Kapha to get disturbed as well.

Treatment of Kapha Imbalances

If a person has a condition involving all three doshas, an Ayurvedic expert can take into account all the imbalances and try to treat them simultaneously. At the same time, the expert can often try to treat the most fundamental, causal level first, and usually—even with a Kapha disorder—that will be Vata. As the Vata imbalance is corrected, the Pitta and Kapha often get corrected simultaneously because of the dynamic interplay between the three streams of intelligence.

One of the best things you can do for your body during the spring season is to undergo traditional Ayurveda purification, detoxification and rejuvenation treatments, called Panchakarma. These treatments are designed to balance all three doshas and rid the body of accumulated impurities, including excess Kapha dosha, resulting in a fresh, settled, balance mind and body.

For more information on Panchakarma treatments, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

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

Barley: The Ultimate Kapha-Reducing Grain

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Barley is an ancient grain first cultivated in the Fertile Crescant area of West Asia and in Tibet. Not only is barley the best grain for balancing Kapha dosha, it is also beneficial for Pitta-types as well.

Mildly astringent, barley has a slightly drying effect, is diuretic in nature (helping to clear fluids from the body) and can help improve sluggish digestion. Ayurveda recommends organic, raw barley as opposed to pearl barley. Barley is considered one of the “good” carbohydrates because it is high in soluble fiber content and is slow to digest, thus reducing spikes in blood sugar levels after a meal.

As with many high fiber foods, barley helps to increase the release of bile from the liver and gall bladder, aiding fat metabolism. High fiber foods also tend to appease the appetite longer, eliminating the urge to snack after a meal.

Barley helps soothes irritated, inflamed bowels and its fiber has been shown to repair the intestinal lining. Barley (along with whole-grain wheat, and rye) contains alkylresorcinols, a phytochemical that is an active antioxidant. Research suggests these grains have a protective effect against diabetes and ischeaemic stroke, as well as having anti-carcinogenic effects. There are also indicators that these grains work as natural regulators of excessive fat accumulation.

Barley water is effective in balancing weight and supporting healthy kidney functioning. Below the barley soup recipe you’ll find a recipe for barley water. With the advent of spring, those with Kapha imbalances and those who have gained weight over the winter may want to reduce their intake of rice and wheat and start including more barley in their diet.

Hearty Barely Soup

1/4 cup each minded fresh parsley

1/4 teaspoon rosemary

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 celery stalk, diced

1 carrot, diced or grated

1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)

5 cups vegetable stock or water

1/4 cup barley

1 turnip, cut into small pieces

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

Saute the parsley, rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, celery and carrot in the ghee slowly for 10 minutes. Add the vegetables to the stock. Add the barley, turnip and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This recipe makes about 6 cups of soup.

Barley Water Take 14 parts water and 1 part barley. Boil for 1 and 1/2 hours. Strain out the barley and pour the liquid into a thermos. Sip throughout the day. You’ll want to make this fresh daily

Spring is a good time to schedule a consultation with an Ayurvedic expert to help determine your state of balance and imbalance, and to see if ama has accumulated in your physiology over the winter months. For more information on Ayurvedic consultations, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:

www.theraj.com

Foods with Zip: Ayurveda Tips for More Energy

If you are living in an area where winter is still transitioning into spring, you are experiencing the end of Kapha season. And while you may have lots of plans for activities such as gardening or exercising, some people may find that the season’s accumulation of kapha produces feelings of lethargy or depression. While we all might notice a bit of these symptoms, an individual with a predominant Kapha dosha will notice it much more.

This is a time when we might want to pay special attention to our diet to include energizing foods. Ayurveda has traditionally classified certain foods as either energizing (sattivic) or energy-draining (tamasic). Tamasic foods drain your energy because they are difficult to digest, produce impurities in your body and contain little vitality.

Here are Ayurveda food tips for boosting your energy levels:

Energizing (Sattvic) Food

Fresh fruit and vegetables

Juice made from fresh fruit and vegetables

Sweet dairy products such as milk and ghee (ideally organic)

Freshly prepared yogurt

Rice and wheat products such as bread, pasta and barley

Honey (unheated)almonds and honey

Raisins, dates, figs

Almonds

Olive oil

Split mung beans

Energy Draining (Tamasic) Foods

Red meat

Aged or fermented foods, including vinegar, pickled foods, and sour cheeses such as Swiss and cheddar. (Most sweet cheeses, such as cottage cheese, farmer’s cheese, mozzarella and ricotta are not tamasic.)

Smoked foods

Leftover foods

Frozen, canned and packaged foods

Onions and garlic

Mushrooms

Vegetables that grow below the ground (except for carrots and beets, which are energizing foods.) Potatoes are mildly energy-draining

Alcohol

Coffee (surprisingly!)

The old adage “You are what you eat” does not just refer to vitamins and proteins. Choosing primarily sattvic foods will affect rev up your energy levels and help maintain a balanced, happy state mind and emotions.

Visit an Ayurveda expert to learn more about the specific foods that will help create perfect balance in your individual physiology. The times of seasonal changes can be challenging to  our bodies and this is the perfect time for purification and dietary alertness.

www.theraj.com

 

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Time to Wake Up!

sunrise-226699_640With the onset of the kapha time of the year (the cold, rainy, and damp days of late winter and early spring) it is important to get in the habit of rising early in the morning. During vata season (late fall through early winter) we can get away with sleeping into the kapha time of the day. Vata has been increasing in our mind/body system and a little kapha influence can be grounding. But when we move into kapha season, hitting the snooze button can create imbalances that could open the door to spring allergies and colds.

Most of us already know the basic  24-hour cycle of vata, pitta and kapha. Every day there are two cycles of change, one from 6.a.m. to 6.p.m. and the other from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.  Within each 12- hour cycle there are three 4-hour periods that are dominated by one of the three doshas; vata, pitta or kapha.

Cycle 1

6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. is kapha time

10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. is pitta time

2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. is vata time

Cycle 2

6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. is kapha time

10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. is pitta time

2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. is vata time

As kapha season progresses you’ll notice that the sun starts to rise earlier and earlier. That makes it important to go to bed earlier at night so that you are falling asleep in the drowsy, heavy time in the evening, before 10:00 p.m.

While the evening kapha cycle is perfect for heading to bed—and falling asleep—the morning kapha cycle is not a good time for sleeping in. If you sleep too long into this time period your mind/body system gets suffused with the dull, slow, heavy qualities of kapha. You’ll find that you feel dull and tired throughout the day. This habit also results in a build-up of impurities (ama), which predisposes you to allergies and congestion. This is influence is magnified during the cold, wet, kapha season.

On the other hand, if you wake up at 6:00 am (or before) you will feel more vata qualities (energy, vitality and alertness) throughout the day.

Begin by adjusting both your bedtime and rising time 15 minutes every week. If you are an extreme night owl, start with going to bed one half-hour earlier. Remember the adage, “the day begins the night before”.

Even if you miss your bedtime target, maintain your new rising time faithfully. Use an alarm clock if necessary.

Continue this plan until you get in the habit of rising at 6 or 6:30. After a few weeks of rising at this early hour you will start becoming attuned to the cycles of nature and may find yourself yawning and thinking fondly of heading to bed at the proper time (during the kapha cycle of the evening). When we can attune our physiologies to nature’s rhythms we will fall asleep more easily, rest more deeply, wake up feeling light and refreshed, and enjoy energy and well being throughout the day.

The classical texts of Ayurveda suggest that the transition from vata season to kapha season is the ideal time to visit an Ayurveda expert or to schedule Panchakarma (Ayurveda detoxification and rejuvenation treatments). For more information visit The Raj website:

http://theraj.com/rajoffers/details.php