We are not just a body of flesh

Ayurveda is a multi-dimensional healthy lifestyle science that looks at not only our bodies, but our spirits. This is a FANTASTIC article explaining how the koshas, or the layers of our soul 😊💖🕉️

Finding Ayurveda

Health, from an Ayurvedic point of view, has a source beyond just warding off invaders and trying to fix breakdowns in the body.

In Ayurveda 101, I said that the difference between Ayurveda and modern medicine is that Ayurveda focuses on making the defenses of the body as strong as possible through promoting inner balance, rather than focusing on destroying invaders from outside the body. 

Inner balance – what does that mean? Where do we go to achieve this balance? What do we need to know? How do we start? These were my questions. Maybe they are yours, too.

There is an underlying field of energy and intelligence, which has been called the Unified Field, the Sea of Consciousness, the Divine, Atman, the Soul. Some may relate to this field as God, others simply call it The Universe. What we call it/him/her isn’t as important as knowing and accessing…

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The 8 Limbs of Yoga Part One: Yama

Many people in America think that yoga is all about being able to get your body into specific positions, but it is so much more than that! Yoga incorporates the mind, body and spirit to create the healthiest versions of those who adhere to the practice. We call this the 8-limb path. The path starts with Yama, or your principles/moral code.  

What is Yama? 

Yama is the set of attitudes, beliefs and actions we use in our lives, especially when practicing yoga. It is known by different names in other religions – The 10 Commandments in Judaism and Christianity, the Five Pillars in Islam – but there’s common threads running through them all. These are the themes in yoga:

  1. Ahimsa: non-violence and reverence for life. This is one of the greatest lessons anybody can learn because it takes away most of the stressors we encounter in life. Ever had a bad day at work where a coworker criticizes everything you do in front of your boss? It is very easy to get annoyed with them and complain to others about what they’ve done, but in the long run, it hurts you much more than them. You increase your stress levels every time you recall what they’ve done to others and if they’ll do it again. That endless worry leads to health problems like weight gain, heart disease and anxiety if left uncontrolled. When practicing ahimsa, you are much slower to react to what people are doing and that allows the people who are causing problems to expose themselves while you are becoming your best self. 
  2. Satya: truthfulness in yourself and the world. Self-awareness and knowing the world you live in is an incredible tool for your wellbeing. Intertwined with ahimsa, satya is about recognizing the personality traits in yourself and others and knowing how to use them to your advantage, WITHOUT exploitation! Acknowledging the things people do and say is crucial to maintaining a sense of peace. Most people conflate acknowledgement with criticism, but they are very different, once you learn how to harness the power of satya. If a loved one, for example, is making bad decisions that are negatively affecting you, you can practice satya by explaining to them how their actions are hurting you and setting up boundaries for yourself. The key is being honest with them and giving them the chance to change. 
  3. Asteya: no stealing – taking physical property, but also not stealing emotionally from ourselves and others. When we worry or let someone else put us in a bad mood, we are guilty of asteya. Asteya also relates to the attitude we have towards life and the events connected those attitudes. Have you noticed that when you are constantly worried about how you’ll be able to pay for the bills, you never seem to make enough money? Or have you ever wanted to talk to someone and suddenly you get a call or text message from them?  These are examples of asteya manifesting itself in your life.
  4. Aparigraha: non-posessiveness. The best way to fully understand this Yama is to break the word down – “a” means cnot” or “none,” “pari” translates to “all sides,” and “graha” means “grab.” Taking all of this into account, you’ll realize that aparigraha doesn’t just relate to having too many material possessions – it also provides a look into how you should treat your relationship with the other people in your life. It is OK to ask for help every once in a while, but you must not be so dependent upon them that they cannot fulfill the requirements of their lives.  
  5. Brahmacarya: moderation. This goes hand-in-hand with aparigraha. If you come to the realization that you don’t need much to be happy, you are able to realize if and when you’re giving into the materialistic side of American culture. A personal example is when I have a little bit more money from my paycheck and I see my friends and colleagues buzzing about whatever new things they’ve bought or done – if I’m not in tune with aparigraha, I definitely start buying more things that I don’t need. 

    Now that you are aware of the first limb of yoga, the yamas, which ones do you feel you need to work on? 

    Golden Milk

    Golden milk is one of my favorite things to drink in the fall and winter! If I feel there’s a slight sniffle or a lump in my throat, golden milk clears it up within a day or two. The only thing I tend to add is a couple pinches of nutmeg 😀💖🕉️

    JOCELYNNE FLOR

    This is my favourite go-to drink when I’m in need of some serious R&R after a long day or if I feel like I’m coming down with something. I drink this especially on days where I know I really need to wind down and get some good quality sleep.

    The coconut milk adds a slight sweetness which pairs perfectly with the mild flavour of turmeric, and the addition of spicy ginger and aromatic cinnamon round out the flavours so well. It’s amazing how plants taste great and have so many healing properties within them!

    Turmeric // Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and gives that signature golden hue. Fresh turmeric root looks very similar to ginger root and can be found in the same aisle at the grocery store. If you can’t find it, powdered turmeric will…

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    Common Breath Holding Patterns Part 1: Reverse Breathing 

    As I mentioned in a previous post, breathing from your diaphragm is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. Unfortunately, in America, we are taught from a young age to hold our stomachs in and breathe from the chest (girls are particularly vulnerable to this!). Holding the stomach in for extended periods of time causes the person to start contracting the belly and expanding the chest with every inhale. This is called reverse breathing and it can have multiple negative effects on your body. 

    Here’s a great illustration of the three differences between the two of ways to breathe. 


    What does reverse breathing do to your mind and body? 

    Breathing from your chest instead of the diaphragm can cause a number of issues. 

    Physical 

    Constantly holding your stomach in, whether you are physically doing it or wearing constricting clothes, can cause:

    1. Digestive ailments like indigestion, heartburn, bloating and gas because the organs in the stomach are being squeezed 
    2. Upper body tension, specifically in the back of your neck, jaw, upper shoulders and back, 
    3. Coordination problems because your breathing pattern has been reversed and it cannot support your muscles properly 

    Mental 

    1. Occasional confusion and/or disorientation as your body isn’t given the opportunity to get the maximum amount of air it needs to function at its best. 

    Are you a reverse breather? 

    As I mentioned earlier reverse breathing is a common problem in the United States, and could possibly be the biggest threat to our health as a nation. 

    To know if you are a reverse breather, all you have to do is look at the front of your body in the mirror. Your belly should expand with each inhale and contract with every exhale; if your belly contacts on the inhale and expands on the exhale, you’re a reverse breather. 

    Fixing the problem

    Luckily, this breathing pattern can be reversed, no pun intended, if you give yourself some time to practice these two tools:

    1. In your spare time, consciously try to get the belly to expand when you inhale – after 30-60 seconds, step back and see how you feel 
    2. SLOW DOWN – many people get stuck in a reverse breathing pattern when they try to do to much 

    Conclusion 

    Reverse breathing is a common problem that can be easily resolved with time and patience with yourself (this is important!). I was a reverse breather for my entire childhood and about 5 years into adulthood – I’m now 31 – and I feel so much better!! Even if you can only practice correct breathing for 5 minutes a day, it is so worth the effort, and your body will thank you in many different ways. 

    I’d love to hear what you think of this breathing pattern and/or if you’ve tried the correcting exercises. 

    Namaste 😀💖🕉️

    Healthy Recipe: All-in-one Ayurvedic Tea for Respiratory Health

    This looks like an awesome remedy for the upcoming fall and winter seasons. I can’t wait to try it 😀❤️🕉️

    Dr. Herbz

    In the last post, we talked about the precautions to be taken for respiratory health in cold weather. Today we continue the segment of it that we left for the next post.

    Respiratory Health Tea

    Measurements for: 2 cups.

    Ingredients:

    1. Licorice (Mulethi) powder: 1 tsp.
    2. Pomegranate (Anaar) peels: roughly 1×3 inch.
    3. Bael leaves: 3 medium sized triplets.
    (Take 1/2 tsp. if taking dried leaf powder)
    4. Lemongrass leaves: 2 full blades’ length.
    5. Holy basil (Tulsi) leaves: 8 medium sized
    (Take 1/2 tsp. if taking powder. You can also use the flowers if you like.)
    6. Wet ginger (Adrakh): grate a piece the size of a cherry.
    7. Calamus root (Vacha) powder: 1/4 tsp.
    8. Trikatu* powder: 1/4 tsp.
    (*This is nothing but an equal proportion mixture of black pepper, long pepper and dried ginger)
    9…

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    The Importance of Diaphragmatic Breathing 

    During my first weekend of training to become a yoga instructor, I learned a lot of great information about proper breathing techniques that I had to share with you guys! 

    We spent quite a while taking about the importance of being able to breathe from your diaphragm, which is the primary muscle we are supposed to use to breathe. It’s a dome-shaped sheet of muscle that’s located in the lower section of your ribs. You know that you’re using your diaphragm to breathe if every time you intake, your stomach expands. 

    Why you need to breathe from your diaphragm 

    Growing up I thought breathing from my chest was the best way to breathe because I was allowing my lungs to fully expand.  It turns out that was I WRONG!! 

    You see, your diaphragm sits just below your lungs and when you use it to breathe, it will sink down closer to your intestines so your lungs have the maximum amount of space to expand. If you don’t breathe from your diaphragm, you’re not only depriving your body of the oxygen it needs, you’re not allowing it to release its excess carbon dioxide stores. 

    Organs connected to the diaphragm 

    Although your diaphragm stretches across the width of your chest cavity, it has special openings that make a path for blood vessels and nerves to pass through. This creates a communication channel between the organs that are situated on either side of it. 

    What sits above the diaphragm? 

    Your lungs and heart are the only two organs that are above the diaphragm. As I’m sure you know, these organs help you:

    1. Breathe in enough oxygen, 
    2. Circulate fresh, oxygen-rich blood to all your tissues. 

    What organs are below the diaphragm? 

    Your  stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, small & large intestines, spleen and kidneys are situated below the diaphragm. When these organs have enough room to function they will:

    1. Properly digest your food, 
    2. Absorb important nutrients, 
    3. Store eliminate toxins, 
    4. Break down poisons, 
    5. Destroy harmful bacteria, 
    6. Produce new blood cells, 
    7. Filter and regulate the concentrations of water and solutes in the blood,
    8. Excrete wwaste products through urine 

    What are the consequences of not breathing from your diaphragm? 

    As you can see, so many of your major organs are connected to the diaphragm. Logically, it makes sense to note that if you don’t allow the it to fully expand and communicate with the organs connected to it, there are health issues you’re more likely to develop. Some of the most common issues are heart disease, joint/muscle pain, weight gain, fatigue, dizziness and exhaustion. 

    The type of issue you develop is related to the different types of non-diaphragmatic breathing people do. Over the next few weeks (a new one every Tuesday so you have time to take in the information), I’ll explain what these breathing patterns are and how they affect your body. 

    Conclusion 

    Breathing from your diaphragm is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. Learning how to do so is simple – when you’re in a quiet place take 2-3 minutes to lie down and focus on your breath. Every time you inhale, make a concerted effort to breathe from your stomach and not your chest. 

    During this time try to breathe only through your nostrils and every time you inhale, it should become more and more natural for the bulk of that air to go into your belly, causing it to expand. 

    Don’t worry if this doesn’t become second nature right away. As I mentioned earlier in this post, I breathed from my chest through my childhood and it took me a solid 3 months of practice to make the switch from chest breathing to diaphragmatic breathing. 

    Remember that each time you can breathe through your diaphragm, you are doing something good for your body and it will use the benefits to its advantage. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect! 

    3 Common Misconceptions about Ayurveda

    Ayurveda is the most ancient medical science known to man – it’s been practiced for more than 5,000 years!!  Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry has done a great job on confusing people about what it is on a couple different fronts. When followed regularly it is much harder for germs to get comfortable in your body (I’ve been sick three times in 5 years!). Another great benefit is that you don’t gain weight as easily. 

    These benefits are EXACTLY what the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t want you to understand because then you won’t need their concoctions!

    In this blog, I’ll explain three of the biggest misconceptions surrounding ayurveda. 

    1. It’s a Fad Diet 

    Many people are so used to insane diet programs like Atkins, South Beach, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers that tell them that they must restrict calorie intake and/or completely eliminate whole food groups that it’s understandable to lump Ayurveda into that category. 

    Ayurveda has been practiced by millions of people over thousands of years and uses the laws of nature to help guide people to foods that are good for their bodies. There are three main body types – vata, pitta and kapha – which are comprised of the 5 major elements: fire, water, earth, air and ether. 

    2. It is connected to a spiritual philosophy. 

    Since Ayurveda originated in India, many people understandably confuse it for a local philosophical, cultural or spiritual practice. In reality, it is a strong science related to creating a healthy lifestyle. 

    I know what you’re thinking, “Miranda, it can’t be a science because it has to be based on proven facts!” You’d be surprised to know that it is based on just that when you remember the definition of science, which is “knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation.”

    Ayurveda has observed the eating habits of humans over several millennia and the basic patterns have been recorded for later generations to refer to should health become an issue for future generations. A great example of this is the doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. These are the same body types we’re familiar with in the United States. Vata refers to people with very thin frames, pitta is the equivalent of medium bone structure and kapha is for the heaviest set people. 

    Each of the doshas (body types) has a general rule for how it reacts to the food we eat, which is connected to the 5 major elements. 

    Vata

    Vatas have a body constitution that consists mostly of air. Think of someone you know who is naturally very thin; they’ll most likely have a tendency to talk fast, have a lot of ideas going through their mind (which is why they forget things easily). To combat this, they need grounding foods like healthy fats, which is in nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, et cetera. 

    Pitta

    Pitta, which is my dosha, is based mostly on fire and these people need to be especially careful with the foods they eat in order to prevent the body from overheating. A good example of this are the very hot spices such as cayenne pepper, chili powder, ghost peppers, and sriracha. I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve had a couple of these spices and my mouth burned for a while! 

    Back to the Ayurveda connection. Since pitta doshas are already mostly fire, these people don’t do well with spices (because fire on top of fire is never a good thing!). 

    Kaphas 

    Kaphas, the heaviest body type, are made mostly of earth, which is very sturdy and needs a significant amount of water to keep moving. Think of a mountain – it is impossible to move any part of it unless there is a river cutting through it or a torrential downpour causes a landslide. To be at their best, kaphas need lots water-based foods such as fruits and vegetables. That prevents their digestive systems from becoming too stagnant, which can lead to weight gain and decreased mobility. 

    3. It takes a long time to feel any benefits 

    A huge part of why so many people are afraid to incorporate ayurveda into their lives is because they think they have to wait 4 to 6 weeks to feel any benefits (thanks Big Pharma!). Adopting either part of or the entire ayurvedic lifestyle is HUGELY beneficial to your health! 

    Three years ago, I remember getting a horrible chest cold after babysitting my nephew one day. My chest was so heavy (filled with fluid) that it felt like an elephant Sat on my chest and refused to get up, no matter how much Robitussin I took! Fed up with the pain, I found a home remedy, that I later learned was from ayurveda, and it was thyme infused tea. Luckily I had both ingredients in my kitchen cabinet, so I decided to give it a shot. Immediately after drinking the tea, I felt my lungs and sinuses clear out and about 60 minutes later, the fluids were coming out much more easily after I coughed or blew my nose. 


    What is YogaVeda? 

    For this Wellness Wednesday, I wanted to take a little time to explain what my blog is all about. I mentioned earlier that I have used the ancient healing arts of Ayurveda and yoga in the past, and when I really followed them, I was the healthiest I’d ever been! To give you a better idea of what I mean, imagine getting multiple (3 to 5) headaches and issues with upset stomach/heartburn every week – Tylenol was ALWAYS in my medicine cabinet. 

    Then when I had a back injury that put me on bed rest for 5 months, I had to reevaluate my relationship with food and went back to the basics. Here’s a great quote from Ayurveda:

    During my recovery, I focused on eating simple, protein rich foods that would properly fuel my body. Since I couldn’t move very well, I stocked my refrigerator with Chobani yogurt that had fruit on the bottom. The yogurt had the protein I needed to maintain my muscles and fats to insure that the tissues in my joints wouldn’t deteriorate. 

    Two months into my recovery, my doctor yelled at me because she thought I was ignoring her order to rest because I apparently had lost a significant amount of weight. By the end of my recovery, I had lost 30 pounds!! I owe that weight loss to Ayurveda, which is the ancient Indian tradition of seeing how the foods you eat react with YOUR body (no two people are alike so following a cookie cutter diet is stupid and potentially dangerous!). I’ll do other posts explaining the basics of Ayurveda, but let me give you a brief example. 

    Ayurveda and me

    My body type is called pitta and the main element in it is fire. This shows in my ruddy complexion, my occasional fiery temper and my tendency to experience heartburn. Because the main element in my body type is fire, it is important for me to avoid very spicy foods because I can overheat. The best foods for me, especially in the hotter months, are cooling foods like water, berries, melons, leafy green veggies, yogurt, etc. Basically, you should visualize water being dumped on forest fires – water keeps the fire from damaging too many things. My body is the same way!

    Again, I’ll do more detailed posts soon regarding ayurveda, so don’t worry if you’re not a pitta like me.

    How does yoga play into this? 

    Most people know that yoga is a series of gentle stretches and poses that help our bodies maintain flexibility. What you don’t know, however, is that those stretches and poses can also tell your body to fix certain blockages. 

    As I get deeper into my training as a yoga instructor, I’ll be able to explain this in more detail, but think about when you are hunched over a computer for a few hours and you have a sudden urge to get up, stretch and walk around. That is your body’s way of maintaining itself. And that’s exactly what yoga aims to accomplish, help your body realize what is out of sync and do gentle actions to correct it. 

    Combining the two to create a new experience: YogaVeda

    My new healthy lifestyle model is called YogaVeda because I teach you how to harness the power of food and movement to become the healthiest you possible. I will never tell you that you need to get up at 3am and do an intense military-style workout. I’ll also never tell you to completely eliminate a food or meal from your diet (unless you’re allergic!); I just help you find a better version of it. 

    If you combine good, nutrient dense food (because we all need to eat!) and simple, regular movement, you will be surprised at what you’re actually capable of! 

    230 Days to a New Me 

    This Saturday will be my first class in my journey to become a yoga instructor, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what comes from it .😊💖🕉️

    I realize that this opportunity isn’t just about meeting my health and fitness goals. It’s also an excellent chance to show more people the ancient healing arts of Ayurveda and yoga, which  modern medicine, and more specifically the pharmaceutical industry, has deemed unworthy. 

    To begin this journey, I am posting my beginning photos of the areas I want to improve on my body. Granted, I’m not the most outgoing or camera friendly person, but I can’t deny the world an opportunity to see how these AMAZING practices can transform your mind, body and spirit for the best. 

    Arms 

    Pic #1: side view

    Apparently, I’d convinced myself that arms are basically in good shape, I just need to tone them up (especially my triceps!). After seeing the picture my boyfriend took for me, I realize I have more work ahead of me…. I say BRING IT ON (I love a challenge 😀)!! 

    Pics #2 & 3: side flex and front flex

    Again, I got my work cut out for me, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE that I can already see an outline of the line between my biceps and triceps (being positive will go a long way 😊❤️) 

    Stomach 

    It’s kinda cool how I can kinda see the lines where my washboard abs and killer obliques will be 💖💖

    Back

    I got a lot of work to do here! Over the years I’ve exercised through dance and walking but these stupid back rolls are still there 😠

    Waist 

    I can clearly see the smallest part of my waist from any angle, but these back rolls and love handles are hiding it 🙁

    Collarbone 

    I know it’s a little strange to want to track how visible that indentation between your neck and collarbone is, but I grew up never being able to feel it let alone see it, so I’m super excited to see that progress 😊

    My wishes for this blog

    Again, I don’t pretend to know that I’m anyone special because EVERYONE is capable of creating the body of their dreams. I am just trying to show the world that the wheel of fitness doesn’t have to be invented; the ancient healing arts of Ayurveda (knowing how YOUR body reacts to food) and yoga are two of the BEST tools at your disposal. Just so you know, my  next set of update photos will be posted in a blog on September 20th 😀

    I hope you get a little bit of inspiration from my journey.  

    Namaste 😀💖🕉️