Be cool, calm; surrender (it doesn’t mean being passive y’know!)

Be cool, calm; surrender (it doesn’t mean being passive y’know!)

Summer isn’t always consistent in Ireland and we do get cooler days but we still need to keep our Pitta, fire dosha in balance.  The transition from season to season often leads to imbalances in the doshas.  We also don’t want our fire to build over summer to lead to Pitta aggravated conditions.  What is Pitta?  How do I know if mine is out of balance and how do I put it back to balance?

What is Pitta?  Pitta represents the fire element in us and the environment around us.  It also has properties of the water element.  Pitta governs heat, transformation and metabolism in the body and mind.  It governs our digestive functions both physiologically and mentally.  Our hormones are governed by Pitta. It governs our sensory perception (how we perceive things that come in through our senses), our ability to discern right from wrong.  It governs our vision through our eyes and also our vision in life.

How do I know if I need to balance my Pitta? (sometimes it’s really difficult to be honest with ourselves but try your best).  Here are some signs of an increased Pitta.
A tendency to get flushed or heat up quickly?
Frustration or irritation?
Irritated skin, itchiness or rashes?
Acid reflux or heartburn?
Nausea or discomfort upon missing meals?
Do you have excessive perfectionist tendencies for yourself and others?
Impatient or intolerant or critical?
Are your stools often loose?
Is your gaze intense?
Do you get intensely hungry or thirsty?

Answering yes to a few of the above could mean that your Pitta needs balancing.

When balancing Pitta, think, cool, calm, surrender

Enjoy cooling foods, avoid hot spices such as chillies, ginger, peppers, instead enjoy adding cooling flavours to your foods such as coriander, fennel and cardamom.  If you can digest dairy, it is great for pacifying Pitta but take it independently of meals.  Avoid fruit juices.

Avoid going for long periods without eating, intense hunger can come quickly for pitta.

Caffeine and alcohol are very Pitta aggravating…leading to irritation, frustration…..

Stay well hydrated with room temperature water.

Enjoy non competitive activity.  Try to remember the fun element in what you do and not take it too seriously.  A bit of competition is great for Kapha folk but Pitta can get a bit too serious sometimes.   When practicing yoga, don’t feel the need to always go to your maximum capacity or do the most or the best….try taking it easy on your mat once in a while.

Surrender…..try to surrender to life instead of having a need to control…oh the theory is so easy!  

Ayurvedic head massage and Shirodhara aid in this letting go process.  Quietening the mind and pacifying the nervous system to aid in easing tension, anxiety and stress and helps you to get out of your head.

Drink Pitta pacifying tea twice daily to cool and calm your mind, body and emotions.

Laugh!

Let’s be Human Beings for a while…. for our health’s sake

Let’s be Human Beings for a while…. for our health’s sake

It’s not easy being a human being, especially when so many of us have been human “doings” for most of our adult lives.  It is so important to take the time to stop doing doing doing all the time and be a human being every now and then, it improves quality of life and could even extend it!  Not only that if someone takes care of themselves, they become radiant as their health shines from within and they are more likely to be living the life they would like to be living.
So many people say after they have a massage with us that they had no idea they were so tight and that their body was so stiff.  We go about our daily lives in our minds and are always doing doing doing.  We carry ourselves the same way all the time and many of us are at computers and driving a lot throughout the day.  Bring your attention to your shoulders…are you holding them in position?  Or are they completely relaxed down and the neck soft?  Our bodies are taken for granted and expected not to complain.  So many of us only have awareness of our bodies if there is a strong sensation such as pain or poor digestion bringing our mind’s attention to it and when that arises there is a pill to take to numb the sensation.  But it is long before the pain starts that the body needs to be nurtured and looked after.  The pain is the body crying out to be listened to.  Once the ache or pain starts it takes a longer time to bring the body back to its normal self again.  So if there’s a niggle or poor digestion or your body is whispering to you, listen! Because if you don’t listen now, it’ll keep talking,  until it makes you stop.

Taking the time to simply be helps us to develop an awareness of our body and mind’s well-being and is a huge step in taking control of your health and having a fun, happy, fulfilling life.  Developing awareness does not have to involve becoming a hermit and meditating night and day.  Just a few simple and most often pleasant habits incorporated into your routine can help hugely.  Below I have listed a few things that can help you look after your body on a regular basis.  After all you take your car for servicing and you can even get a new one of those when it wears out….what about your body?  What about your mind that you see this life through?   You ain’t gettin new ones, so look after your body and mind complex!!
So many people have no idea of the tension they are holding until they come in and have a  Full body massage with Ayurvedic Oils or  Abhyanga.  They think they are a little stiff in the shoulders or neck.  When they leave they feel utter relief at how much better they feel.  Regular massage will improve your health and quality of life and your beauty will radiate from within.  I know I always go on about how beneficial Ayurvedic massage is but I’m going to say it again.  I’ll give you the abridged version this time!!
  • Relieves tension in stiff, tired, sore muscles
  • Improves circulation in the body (biologically as well as your awareness!)
  • Provides a purifying and cleansing influence to all the systems in the body, aiding in the elimination of toxins
  • Creates a stabilizing and balancing effect on Vata.
  • Relieves stress and calms the nervous system
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Enhances immunity
  • Leaves you feeling great and ready for life!!
Ok, I’ll stop now – I did say it was the abridged version!
If there is pain present don’t try to forget about it or mask it with pain killers (and please don’t blame age!)- the body will start to compensate in other areas and aches will show up elsewhere too. Petra pinda svedanam is a soothing oil treatment where we massage a bolus of pain management herbs dipped in soothing, heated pain management oil on to stiff, sore, tired muscles.
Good quality sleep is vital for health.  If you aren’t sleeping well or can’t get to sleep close to the ideal time of 10pm, don’t ignore this.  Your body and mind will just get more exhausted as time goes by and it will become more difficult to address.  Shirodhara  quietens the mind and pacifies the nervous system to aid in easing tension, anxiety and stress.  It can deepen your awareness bringing you to a blissful state.  It enhances sleep quality and aids in insomnia too.
You don’t have to be a budding yogi, flexible or under a certain age to try and get huge benefits from Yoga!  Anyone can do it and it gives a wonderful awareness of how the body is really doing. Even some gentle stretches in the morning and evening helps a lot.  Not only does it help release tension and open the body, it brings your attention to your body.  You can ask your body how it’s really feeling.
Breathe – many of us are unaware of our breath for most of the day.  By bringing awareness to the breath we are brought to the present moment and the mind’s attention is focused in the now.
The food we eat and how our body digests it plays a huge role in our fundamental wellness.  More on this next month.
By simply stopping, taking time out from doing doing doing all the time we can begin to hear what is really going on for us.  We begin to listen to and trust the innate wisdom (buddhi) that we all have.  We are then open to making any changes necessary to improve our health and well being.  Take a moment to just be – we are human beings after all, not human doings!
Spring it on!

Spring it on!

Spring is such a wonderful time of year.  The stretch in the day, the buds peeping through.  Why then do some of us feel like cranky bears waking up after a long winter?  Kapha season.  Even though my constitution has very little Kapha, there are days in early spring when I am groggy in the morning and feel congested and my mind is foggy.  Heavy, slow and damp Kapha dosha is reigning our weather and our bodies this season.Early Spring is a watery season full of dramatic shifts from warm to cold temperatures, often within the same day.  It’s a challenging time of year to stay balanced.  A rainy or cold spring day could catch us unaware, unprepared, or in stubborn denial once ‘spring fever’ sets in. On such days, a deep chill compromises our immune system and could quickly lead to flu symptoms. Conversely, a warm spring day triggers a surge in the release of winter fats, thickening and congesting the blood.  Because Kapha dosha governs the structure and fluids in our body, a spring day can unearth any mucus in the body.  Below I have listed some things we can do to maintain balance this Kapha season.  Avoid a heavy, congested spring and bounce out of winter into the sunlight!!  If your predominantly Kapha dosha, try to adhere to these strictly until May.

If you are unsure of your constitution, take our simple quiz (scroll down on this page).

According to Ayurveda when the transition from winter to spring begins we are entering Kapha season.  Changes in nature always leads to changes in our bodies.  Heavy, wet and cold by its nature, Kapha reigns our world from February to May.  It influences everything in our lives from energy levels to sleep quality, from body weight to mood.  While every living thing is comprised of all five elements – ether, air, fire, water and earth, there is usually a predominance of 1 or 2 in each individual’s constitution.  This is your dosha.  Kapha dosha is the earth and water elements.

Kapha season is a time for cleansing and eating more detoxifying foodsBeets, bitter greens, apples, pomegranates, millet, buckwheat, aduki beans, ghee and most spices are all good choices for eliminating excess kapha.  This is a time to pare back your diet and reduce dairy, heavy foods and any kind of comfort eating.

Find comfort instead in deep, invigorating Ayurvedic massages and nadis svedanam.  These will help to wake the body up boosting circulation and stiffness after the winter months.  It helps to boost the lymphatic system too clearing the body of congestion and toxin the body releases after winter.  When we rub and press the body we help break up the accumulated toxins and impurities that have localized in the tissues. The motion also creates heat and friction and increases the flow of fluids through the blood and lymph vessels. This helps to cleanse and open these important channels of circulation and lymphatic drainage.

Deep cleanse your sinuses with the nasya therapy.  This is one of Ayurveda’s panchakarma therapies.  Panchakarma is a deep cleanse most beneficial at the juncture between winter and spring and summer and autumn.  This will help to strengthen sinus, throat and ear areas helping to prevent infections, reduce symptoms of allergies and many other imbalances that affect our heads.

Kapha balancing tonic taken twice daily will help those of us who struggle through this time of year.  If you find it difficult to get up and go and find that you are congested more often than not, this will help you through to summer.  Medohar tonic helps to boost a sluggish metabolism and remove toxins aiding in natural weight loss.

Do not stay in bed!  No matter how cosy you are, get up!  Lying on only increases the heaviness and dullness of kapha.  Getting up at 6am is ideal for this time of year.  A few simple stretches in the morning will help you wake up.

Commit to exercise.  No matter what it is, commit to daily exercise, be it a hike, cycling to work/school, yoga. Kapha by it’s nature is heavy, cold and damp, so we need to get moving.  If you don’t have time, get up and do it in the morning, the best time for Kapha to exercise.

Honey & Spice Throat Coat

Honey & Spice Throat Coat

Honey & Spice Throat Coat is a quick and efficient way to help reduce spring congestion.  In this formula, turmeric, ginger and black pepper invigorate, warm, and circulate the blood. This has the effect of flushing fluids and drying them up. Invigorating the blood also tends to open up the lungs.  Honey heats and breaks up mucus. It also provides a quick burst of energy. Its thick texture allows the healing spices to linger and coat the throat. Caution -this formula aggravates pitta.

To a tablespoon of honey mix
2 pinches turmeric
2 pinches black pepper
2 pinches dried ginger

This remedy is designed to simply be licked from the spoon.  Taken over a 15 minute period it ensures the back of the throat feels the heat from the spices.  Repeat up to 3 times a day.  Make the remedy in individual portions as you need it.