Staying Healthy During Vata Season

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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 

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.

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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.

Intake

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.

Heating

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.

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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:

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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:

www.theraj.com

 

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

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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.

www.theraj.com

Keep Balanced in Winter with Ayurveda

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By the beginning of February, those who live in northern climates have reached their peak of Vata aggravation. Months of cold, dry, windy weather results in an increase of those same qualities within our physiology: dryness, coolness, movement and quickness. Once our Vata becomes imbalanced we can start experiencing problems sleeping, aching joints, emotional instability, less mental clarity, dryness of the skin, increased sensitivity to the cold weather and a low frustration level.

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 key to balancing Vata is regular routine—eating and going to sleep at the same time, for example. Going to bed early on a regular basis is actually one of the most powerful tools available for balancing Vata.

You may find yourself thinking more about food than you did last summer. When the cold, dry weather of winter begins to aggravate Vata dosha, we naturally crave hotter, more unctuous foods that help counter this effect. An increase in appetite is also the natural result of the cold weather—it tends to cause our digestion fire to increase. As long as you don’t eat more than you can easily digest, large portions at meals can help keep Vata in balance.

One very important point is that the food we eat in the winter should always be warm. Never eat or drink ice-cold food or beverages. 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 should 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 for a while before jumping into the shower or bath. 10 minutes letting the oil soak into your skin is ideal.

Vata imbalances often lead to constipation. Remember 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.

It is easy to find oneself becoming sedentary during the colder months. Be sure that you 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 in your winter exercise routine. Spring is a much better time for vigorous exercise, as that is the time when Kapha is increasing and we naturally have more strength and stamina.

If you find that diet, lifestyle and self-massage are not helping, 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:

www.theraj.com

Winter Skin Care: Ayurveda Tips for a Glowing Complexion

This week we are reposting one of our most-read posts. Happy holidays from The Raj!

If you are familiar with Ayurveda, you are familiar with the concept that everything in life — including our bodies, the food that we eat, and the environment around us — is composed of the three “doshas”; vata, pitta and kapha.  These qualities, or principles of nature, each have their own fundamental traits. Vata, the principle of movement, is the ruling dosha for the late fall and winter seasons. These months are marked by the same qualities that characterize vata: coldness, dryness, lightness, and movement.

During the winter many notice a tendency toward dryness, constipation, anxiety and insomnia — all imbalances that can take their toll on our skin.  Luckily, through the understanding of Ayurvedic principles, we can take steps to pacify vata and keep our skin balanced and glowing throughout the winter months.

Washing the Face

At any time of the year it is important to be gentle when washing the face, as it is easy to aggravate vata, which can promote dryness and wrinkles. Favor body-temperature water over hot, hot water. Avoid using soaps with chemical additives. For most skin types, sweet almond oil is a good lubricant to use after washing to help protect the skin. Sweet almond oil is also healthy way to remove make-up before washing. A luxurious option for keeping skin lubricated in the winter is to bathe the face with milk. Whole, organic milk is ideal. The tiny, nutritious molecules of milk can be easily be absorbed by our skin without clogging the pores. Heat the milk to body temperature (not too hot) before applying.6263072078_fe556c5a27_b

Ten Vata-Reducing Tips to Promote Glowing Skin

1. Drink plenty of warm, pure water throughout the day to both purify the body and stay well hydrated.

2. Ideally, enjoy organic, freshly cooked meals, using healthy oils such as olive oil and ghee. Remember, you want to counter the influence of vata, which is characterized as light, dry and cold. Healthy oils in winter are our friends.

3. Eat your main meal at noon.

4. Avoid packaged, frozen, canned and processed foods, which are difficult to digest and often include harmful additives.

5. Favor vata-pacifying foods such as avocados, pumpkins, carrots, beets, asparagus, bananas, lemons, mangoes, peaches, quinoa, basmati rice, wheat, almonds, sesame seeds, boiled milk, and ghee. Nuts and seeds provide healthy oils that are good for skin and hair. Eat more foods with sweet, sour, and salty tastes and less of those with bitter, astringent, and pungent tastes.  Don’t forget that Ayurveda recommends having some amounts of all six tastes with every meal. Otherwise the body can develop food cravings. Ayurvedic spice mixes or “churnas” can help you make sure that you get all six tastes.

6. Avoid dry, raw foods, especially salads and raw vegetables.

7. Use a humidifier at night, especially if you have forced air heating.

8. Before your morning bath, give yourself a gentle self-massage with sesame oil. Those who tend toward pitta imbalances may prefer sweet almond oil or olive oil or coconut oil. The oil helps to pull out toxins from the skin and also leaves a protective layer between your skin and the harsh winter environment. Don’t feel like you have to remove the oil with soap. Soap is essentially oil and fat combined with salt. A good scrub with a luffa or body brush after your morning oil massage is really all you need.

9. Go to bed early and try to get eight hours of sleep. As vata is the principle of movement, the most effective means of pacifying vata is to get enough sleep.

10. Learn to meditate.  The Raj Ayurveda Health Center recommends the Transcendental Meditation program (TM) to complement their in-residence Ayurvedic treatment packages. An imbalance of vata can lead to an overactive mind, worry, anxiety and insomnia. Over 350 published research studies on the TM technique have documented a wide range of benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, improved health and brain function, and increased self-actualization.

For more information on vata-pacifying skin care products, herbal formulas to improve skin or digestion please contact the herb room at The Raj. Ideally a visit to an Ayurvedic expert in your area will help to more precisely determine which supplements, diet recommendations and life-style tips would benefit your individual mind/body make-up.

Learn more at:

www.theraj.com

Ayurveda Travel Tips

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

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

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

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

Avoid cold drinks and cold food.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.theraj.com

 

 

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

Ayurveda Tips for Exercising in the Fall and Winter

nordic-skiingDuring the fall and early winter vata increases in our environment and within our own physiologies. Pacifying vata during this time is important for all body types because vata dosha can significantly affect both kapha and pitta doshas. Because one of the qualities of vata is movement, vata can move out of position, or out of balance, very quickly. Vata is usually the first dosha to become imbalanced. Vata imbalances are the most common causes of chronic disorders. If you are vata by nature or are prone to vata disturbances such insomnia, constipation, dry skin, and excess worry or anxiety, this is the season to be extra alert to activities, foods and other influences that increase vata.

Exercise is important and so is a winter exercise plan. Exercise affects bone density, muscle mass, aerobic capacity, strength and other key biomarkers of aging. According to the Charaka Samhita, the oldest, most complete and authoritative writing on Ayurveda, “From physical exercise, one gets lightness, a capacity for work, firmness, tolerance of difficulties, elimination of impurities, and stimulation of digestion.” It is important for all of us to stay active during the winter months.

Strenuous exercise, however, can increase the principle of vata in the body. While exercise such as jogging is generally fine for pitta and kapha types, vata types may suffer from the impact of such rigorous sports. A brisk walk is a better option. Cycling, cross-country or elliptical machines probably provide the best inside exercise. They give a good aerobic workout without harmful impact, and they work both the upper and lower body.

Combine cardio exercises with stretching exercises such as Yoga and Pilates, which are grounding and help develop strength and balance. Remember, qualities of vata include the words “irregular”, “moving”, “quick”, and “changeable”. Jumpy and erratic exercises, such as aerobic workouts, will increase these qualities in your physiology.

Avoid strain. Exercise should be joyful and make you feel energized. If you are feeling grumpy or tired after exercise, you need to ease up on the intensity.

The ideal time to exercise is after sunrise in the morning, when kapha dosha is lively.

If you do decide to exercise outside during the colder months, be sure to cover your head and ears and to stay protected from the wind and cold.

When you hydrate while exercising, always opt for warm or hot water. Carry a small thermos with you so that you do not have to drink cold water.

During this time of the year, healthy oils are your friends. Ghee, butter and olive oil help counter the drying effects of vata. Nuts are wonderful vata-pacifiers. Enjoy warm, heavy soups and stews. Avoid dry foods such as rice-cakes and cold cereals. Cooking oatmeal with apples and raisins is a wonderful and nourishing way to start the day.

The transitions from season to season put an extra strain on the body. This is the ideal time to visit an Ayurveda expert and get input regarding what your body needs to maintain balance and how best to address symptoms of imbalance.

The quality of vata which allows it to move easily out of position also allows it to move easily back into position. For this reason it is much better to address vata imbalances in their infancy, before they have gone on to influence pitta and kapha doshas—doshas whose imbalances are more difficult to correct.

For more information on consultations with Ayurveda experts, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:

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.)

Taming Vata with Ayurveda

winter-290903_640As the temperature cools, many people find themselves bothered by vata disorders such as anxiety, tension, insomnia, constipation and aching joints. Vata dosha gets aggravated during cold, dry, windy weather because the nature of vata itself is dry, cold, light and active. To avoid the winter chills and 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: pacify vata and dissolve ama, the sticky waste-product of improper digestion that can 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. Ice cream season is over.

sleep-13. Get more rest than usual. Because the nature of vata is active and restless, 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 you gain a better quality of rest if you 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. 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 can not breath comfortably through your nose, you may be taxing your physiology and actually increasing vata.

5. 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.

6. Do daily abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil massage). Abhyanga is especially soothing for vata dosha because your skin is a primary seat of vata.

7. Start increasing your portions of foods that are sweet, sour and salty, as these pacify vata dosha. Spicy, astringent and bitter foods increase vata.

8. Enjoy Panchakarma (Ayurvedic massage and detoxification therapies). 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. Also, 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.

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

www.theraj.com

 

 

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

 

( Picture of a woman sleeping. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
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Winter Skin Care: Ayurveda Tips for a Glowing Complexion

If you are familiar with Ayurveda, you are familiar with the concept that everything in life — including our bodies, the food that we eat, and the environment around us — is composed of the three “doshas”; vata, pitta and kapha.  These qualities, or principles of nature, each have their own fundamental traits. Vata, the principle of movement, is the ruling dosha for the late fall and winter seasons. These months are marked by the same qualities that characterize vata: coldness, dryness, lightness, and movement.

During the winter many notice a tendency toward dryness, constipation, anxiety and insomnia — all imbalances that can take their toll on our skin.  Luckily, through the understanding of Ayurvedic principles, we can take steps to pacify vata and keep our skin balanced and glowing throughout the winter months.

Washing the Face

At any time of the year it is important to be gentle when washing the face, as it is easy to aggravate vata, which can promote dryness and wrinkles. Favor body-temperature water over hot, hot water. Avoid using soaps with chemical additives. For most skin types, sweet almond oil is a good lubricant to use after washing to help protect the skin. Sweet almond oil is also healthy way to remove make-up before washing. A luxurious option for keeping skin lubricated in the winter is to bathe the face with milk. Whole, organic milk is ideal. The tiny, nutritious molecules of milk can be easily be absorbed by our skin without clogging the pores. Heat the milk to body temperature (not too hot) before applying.

Ten Vata-Reducing Tips to Promote Glowing Skin

1. Drink plenty of warm, pure water throughout the day to both purify the body and stay well hydrated.

2. Ideally, enjoy organic, freshly cooked meals, using healthy oils such as olive oil and ghee. Remember, you want to counter the influence of vata, which is characterized as light, dry and cold. Healthy oils in winter are our friends.

3. Eat your main meal at noon.

4. Avoid packaged, frozen, canned and processed foods, which are difficult to digest and often include harmful additives.

5. Favor vata-pacifying foods such as avocados, pumpkins, carrots, beets, asparagus, bananas, lemons, mangoes, peaches, quinoa, basmati rice, wheat, almonds, sesame seeds, boiled milk, and ghee. Nuts and seeds provide healthy oils that are good for skin and hair. Eat more foods with sweet, sour, and salty tastes and less of those with bitter, astringent, and pungent tastes.  Don’t forget that Ayurveda recommends having some amounts of all six tastes with every meal. Otherwise the body can develop food cravings. Ayurvedic spice mixes or “churnas” can help you make sure that you get all six tastes.

6. Avoid dry, raw foods, especially salads and raw vegetables.

7. Use a humidifier at night, especially if you have forced air heating.

8. Before your morning bath, give yourself a gentle self-massage with sesame oil. Those who tend toward pitta imbalances may prefer sweet almond oil or olive oil or coconut oil. The oil helps to pull out toxins from the skin and also leaves a protective layer between your skin and the harsh winter environment. Don’t feel like you have to remove the oil with soap. Soap is essentially oil and fat combined with salt. A good scrub with a luffa or body brush after your morning oil massage is really all you need.

9. Go to bed early and try to get eight hours of sleep. As vata is the principle of movement, the most effective means of pacifying vata is to get enough sleep.

10. Learn to meditate.  The Raj Ayurveda Health Center recommends the Transcendental Meditation program (TM) to complement their in-residence Ayurvedic treatment packages. An imbalance of vata can lead to an overactive mind, worry, anxiety and insomnia. Over 350 published research studies on the TM technique have documented a wide range of benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, improved health and brain function, and increased self-actualization.

For more information on vata-pacifying skin care products, herbal formulas to improve skin or digestion please contact the herb room at The Raj. Ideally a visit to an Ayurvedic expert in your area will help to more precisely determine which supplements, diet recommendations and life-style tips would benefit your individual mind/body make-up.

Learn more at:

www.theraj.com