Reduce Kapha to Enjoy a Healthy, Active Spring

Spring is the ideal time to get in tip-top condition for a healthy and active year. At the beginning of spring we leave the cold, dry Vata season behind and make the transition into the humid, cool Kapha season. At this time many experience feeling tired, heavy and sometimes lethargic. This is the perfect time for Panchakarma treatments.

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As the environment transitions into spring, a considerable metabolic change begins to take place in the body. When we support the removal of toxins from the body with Panchakarma, it facilitates our body’s natural tendency to “spring clean” with noticeable results. This is very helpful in preventing typical springtime complaints such as allergies, fatigue, asthma and colds.

Healthy Tips for Spring

In order to combat typical springtime complaints such as colds and hay fever, Ayurveda recommends reducing the influence of Kapha at the end of the winter. This process will help see you through to a healthy spring.

Eat hot food: hot in temperature and spicy too

If you are not using a tongue cleaner to remove mucous, bacterial and debris from the tongue, this is the time to begin. Find one that is stainless steel or silver.

Drink hot, stimulating tea. Ginger tea made with fresh ginger is especially recommended.

Favor foods that taste astringent (such as beans and dals), spicy (chili peppers or curry powder, for example) and bitter (spinach and greens)

If you have been a bit sedentary during the cold winter months, now is the time to restart your exercise routine. If you have not been exercising for a while, you can break the inertia by starting with brisk walking, beginning with half an hour.

Get up! It is important during this season try to get up by 6:00, which is when Kapha begins to dominate in the environment. Waking up during the Vata time of the day (before 6:00) gives an extra lightness and vitality to the day.

Get the Most from Your Food

Since digestion tends to grow sluggish during Kapha season, you can perk it up with these tips:

Try eating a slice of ginger before lunch or dinner to help increase your digestive fire. Sprinkle lemon juice and salt on a thin, peeled slice of ginger and eat it about 15 minutes before your meal.

Sit quietly for a few minutes before you start to eat, to give your digestion a headstart. Don’t jump up from your meal when you are finished. Sit and enjoy for at least 10 minutes.

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. Take twice a day. The astringent taste of turmeric and honey help to dry up congestion and prevent a sore throat. If the symptoms last for more than two days, however, be sure to check in with your doctor.

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

www.theraj.com

Act Now to Banish Spring Allergies With Ayurveda

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Although it seems odd to think about spring allergies when the forecast for the next week is snow flurries, mid-February is the ideal time to start taking action.

Our bodies are more susceptible to health problems when the seasons are changing because our body functions differently in each season. For example, our agni (or digestive fire) can fluctuate dramatically during the change from hot to cold or cold to hot. Poor digestion can lead to a build up of ama (or toxins) in the body.

This is why respiratory illnesses and allergies pop up during the autumn and early spring. We especially see this in the early spring. As the weather starts to warm up, any ama that has accumulated in our tissue and circulatory channels during the winter begins to soften and liquefy, flooding the numerous channels of circulation (shrotas) throughout our body and taxing our immune system.

On top of this flood of toxins, our body has to deal with an accumulation of mucus.  From mid-February to May is the Kapha time of the year. As a response to the accumulated drying influence of the cold, dry, windy Vata conditions of late fall and early winter, our bodies start to produce large amounts of lubricating mucus. The sticky liquid can cause congestion in the mucus membranes that line our respiratory and digestive tracts, contributing to allergies and sinus conditions.

This is why late winter/early spring is the optimal time to cleanse mucus and toxins from our body. The classical texts of Ayurveda recommend specific detoxification treatments —called “panchakarma”—during the change of seasons.

Spring is nature’s natural detoxification season. The progression of the cold of winter to the warmth of spring triggers a natural process of releasing the winter’s accumulation of fats and toxins. Going through Ayurveda detoxification treatments at this time provides a boost to what our bodies are trying to do naturally: flushing out toxins and lubricating the channels of circulation. Working hand in hand with our own natural cycle allows for a more thorough and efficient removal of these unhealthy substances.

Signs of Ama

If you have high cholesterol, a coated tongue in the morning, joint pain, constipation, dull skin and eyes, gas, or excess mucus, you are displaying physical symptoms of ama. You may also feel the build up of ama as fatigue, dullness and/or irritability. Panchakarma treatments help remove years of accumulated ama (along with excess Vata, Pitta, and/or Kapha) and also help to return agni to its normal level of functioning.

Enjoying Panchakarma as an in-residence guest allows the body to get a profound rest. Pluses of an in-residence stay being protected from weather conditions, and complete ease in following a prescribed daily routine and diet, allowing you make the most of the rejuvenation experience. If you don’t have the opportunity for a residential stay, however, day treatments are highly recommended. Just be sure to follow the diet that is given to you.

Tips for Kapha Season

There are also adjustments that you can make in your home routine and diet that will help you during this winter to spring transition.

  1. Sip hot water throughout the day
  2. Eat more leafy greens. Favor the Kapha-pacifying tastes of bitter, astringent and pungent.
  3. Favor organic, fresh foods. Avoid processed foods, cold dairy products, and fried and high-fat foods. Remember, light, warm foods counter the cold, heavy qualities of kapha.
  4. Put a little zip in your food: spices like ginger, chili, cloves, and pepper help counter the cold quality of Kapha.
  5. Try not to sleep later than 6:00 in the morning. Sleeping into the Kapha time of the day can increase kapha qualities in body and mind. This means going to bed by 10:00 the night before.

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

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

Ayurveda Exercise Recommendations for Winter and Spring

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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

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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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.)

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

Tips for Kapha Season

rose-144122_640As the weather changes from winter to spring (vata season to kapha season) you may notice changes in both your mind and body. Nature is waking up and you too may feel the need to get out, exercise and get started on new projects. You may also find yourself falling ill with a cold or flu.

Here are some tips for kapha season to help you make a healthy, balanced transition from vata season.

1. You should have already been favoring warm, cooked foods during vata season. Continue this trend. Both vata and kapha are characterized by the quality of cold. During kapha season, add a bit more spice to your meals. Chili, curry, turmeric, cayenne, and mustard seed are all helpful spices.

2. Again, as you should have been doing in vata season, drink hot drinks throughout the day. During kapha season you may want to switch to a more stimulating tea — perhaps one with ginger.

3. Substitute honey for sugar. Raw, unheated honey is very effective in reducing kapha. (Caution: never bake with honey. Heated honey creates a toxin that clogs the channels of the body and is difficult to remove.)

4. Favor the grains quinoa and barley instead of rice and wheat.

5. Cut down on simple carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, candy, chocolate, cake, jam, soda and packaged cereals) and favor complex carbohydrates. Foods that contain complex carbohydrates include spinach, yams, broccoli, peas beans, whole grains, zucchini, lentils, and skimmed milk. Complex carbohydrates act as the body’s fuel and contribute significantly to energy production. This is the time of year when it is most important to get moving.

6. Favor foods with astringent, bitter and spicy tastes. A few examples of foods with these tastes are:

Astringent: legumes, beans, lentils, pear, apple, pomegranate, quinoa, tofu

Spicy: chili peppers and curry powder

Bitter: dark leafy greens, turmeric, barley, basil

7. Take steps to enhance your digestion. Digestion tends to be sluggish at this time of the year. A thin slice of ginger topped with a bit of fresh lemon juice taken 15 minutes before a meal will insure that your digestive enzymes are primed to make the most of your food. After you are finished eating, sit quietly for a few minutes to allow your digestion to continue its job undisturbed.

8. Be consistent with your morning oil massage. This is the season when then body naturally begins to detoxify. The skin is one of the main organs of purification in the body. Not only are toxins eliminated from the body via the skin, our skin is also our first barrier to environmental toxins. An oil massage each morning before your bath or shower helps support this natural self-cleansing mechanism.

9. This is the optimum time of the year to schedule panchakarma treatments (the traditional rejuvenation treatment of Ayurveda) for a more powerful boost to your body’s natural purification process.

For more information on rejuvenation treatments or to schedule an Ayurveda consultation visit:

www.theraj.com

 

 

(Photo of purple flower. Source: Pixabay. The image is used under the terms of Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en . This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)