Moving in a New Direction: Examine Modern Science and Ayurvedic Solutions 

I’ve been thinking about which direction I want to take this blog. My mission is to show people how to use food to HEAL their bodies from preventable illnesses. 

About 95% of the people who will read my blog will have grown up with Western medicine. Don’t get me wrong, there have been INCREDIBLE innovation in this area… 100 years ago, reattaching a severed hand would be impossible, but now it happens regularly. 

The down side of Western medicine is that it is too focused on treating one symptom at a time. Ayurveda, on the other hand, notices when small aspects of your life is out of balance and corrects the issue BEFORE it progresses into a chronic illness. 

So, from now on, I’ll use a combination of modern science to explain the ancient healing art of Ayurveda. One quick example is the issue of heartburn. Anyone who has dealt with this knows that it’s a fiery feeling in your throat and it often happens when you eat too much spicy food. 

Western medicine would either conclude that you need a pill to fight those symptoms or cut out spicy food altogether. Ayurveda, however, would say simply add more water to any spicy meal you eat and maybe have it once a week so your body can properly burn off the excess heat. 

I hope y’all enjoy this new path I’m taking and with every blog post you’ll have one great tip you can include in your life to optimize your health. 

Miranda 😊💖🕉️

Vata: An in-depth look 

How the Vata dosha impacts different areas of your life.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been trying to determine the best way to open the discussion about Ayurveda. Then it hit me – we are in the middle of vata season, so it is the perfect time to explain this dosha!

In a previous blog, I gave an overview of the three doshas. You can read it here, but let’s dive into vata.

Understanding the basics of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is simply the science of life on earth and the doshas represent the combinations of the 5 main elements in humans. Those five elements are:

  1. Ether: space. This element is lighter than air – think about astronauts – they are floating through ether.
  2. Air.
  3. Fire.
  4. Water.
  5. Earth.

Vata dosha explained 

Vata is the combination of ether and air, and if translated from Sanskrit, means wind and movement. As you can see from the picture above, that most of the aspects of the vata body type are related to movement in some way. While movement is good, having too much of this dosha can be a bad thing. Let’s look at how vata reveals itself in different aspects of a person’s life.

Physical components of vata

One of the easiest ways to recognize that vata is your prominent dosha is  to look at your frame. Most vatas will have a light frame and will have a tough time gaining weight. Other physical signs include:

  • Dry skin
  • Thin, dry hair
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Quick bursts of energy
  • Sleep is light
  • Sensitive digestion

When in balance, vatas can use these characteristics to their advantage. A sign of this is increased productivity at work or home. Becoming unbalanced, however, has serious repercussions such as:

  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Restlessness
  • Arthritis

Mental components of vata

People who have vata as their dominant dosha are extraordinary because they are very creative, energetic and can spark conversation with almost anyone about anything. Energy is constantly flowing through them.

When there is too much vata in your body, however, you experience things like:

  • Anxiety (thoughts moving too much),
  • Talkativeness (do you know anyone who talks non-stop?),
  • Memory issues (trying to take in too much information at once and nothing sticks).

Taming vata imbalances through nutrition

The great thing about Ayurveda is that not only does tell us about the doshas, it gives us the information we need to remain in balance and live the best life possible!

Remember that vata is wind and wind moves best when there is very little to interfere with it. So, logically, the best way to tame vata is to put obstacles in its path. Here are some food groups that effectively block excessive vata activity:

  • Nuts: cashews, walnuts, almonds, etc. all contain healthy fats that can stop excess vata in your body 
  • Lean meats: organic, family farmed beef, chicken and fish contain protein that fill you up, preventing excess air from wrecking havoc on your body 
  • Healthy oils: if aren’t a fan of eating nuts, adding healthy oils to your meals, like olive and coconut, initiate the same grounding feeling as nuts would
  • Dairy: low fat and full fat dairy foods are another great option. You’ll also get the calcium to strengthen your bones! 
  • Warming spices: spices that have a hearing effect – you know when you eat them and your body suddenly feels warmer – are perfect for vata imbalances. Ginger, cayenne pepper, turmeric and red pepper flakes are great starting points. 

Conclusion 

Now that you have a deeper understanding of how the Vata dosha impacts your body, you can take small steps to to regain and maintain optimal health! Combining any of the foods mentioned above is also a good tool. Try a warm cup of milk with ginger and turmeric, if you don’t want a full meal. 

What are some of the ways you can think of to balance any excess vata you are experiencing? 

     

    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!