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

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

Avoid Allergies and Colds with an Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse

dandelion-111015_640Our 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 are so prevalent in the autumn and early spring. We see this especially in the early spring. As the weather starts to warm up the ama accumulated during the winter starts to melt from our tissues, flooding the tiny channels of circulation (shrotas) and taxing our immune system. Unless our body’s immune system is strong we can become susceptible to bacteria and allergens.

On top of this flood of toxins, the body at this time also has to deal with an accumulation of mucus.  From mid-february to May is the kapha time of the year. During this time wet, heavy, and cold properties begin to dominate the body. The body is responding to the long build-up of vata (from the cold, dry, windy conditions of late fall and early winter) by producing mucus to counter vata’s drying influence.

As the weather switches from cold to warmer termperatures the mucus in the body begins to liquefy. 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 as 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. Because our body is already engaged in flushing out toxins and lubricating the channels, going through Ayurveda detoxification treatments at this time provides a boost to the process, allowing for a more thorough and efficient removal of these unhealthy substances.

If you have high cholesterol, a coated tongue, joint pain, constipation, dull skin and eyes, gas, or excess mucus, you have the 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 include not having to travel to and from a clinic every day, being protected from weather conditions, and, best of all, 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.

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, 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. Do not sleep later than 6:00 in the morning. Sleeping into the kapha time of the day can increase kapha qualities in body and mind.

For more information on Panchakarma treatments, visit The Raj web site @

http://theraj.com/allergies/index.php

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