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.
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:
Ether: space. This element is lighter than air – think about astronauts – they are floating through ether.
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:
Thin, dry hair
Cold hands and feet
Quick bursts of energy
Sleep is light
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:
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.
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?
Another year is just beginning and I absolutely LOVE the idea of giving up all desires to be skinny. Honestly, it is completely overrated, even if you’re overweight. American culture has trained us to think that any excess body weight means you are overweight, which if not true at all! From this day forward, I suggest telling yourself that you are making changes to become the healthiest you for you. Forget what society expects! You DESERVE the gift of health.
You all know that I am a firm believer in the ancient healing art of Ayurveda. Following this ancient medicinal system, we are taught to treat our body with reverence. Your body’s are a reflection of our current health. All of your past decisions have made you who you are today. Embrace the lessons you’ve learned from them and use them to move into a healthier lifestyle.
Remember that even if you aren’t in perfect health, you are just as worthy of self-love as a body builder!
Before my enlightenment
Throughout my teens, I followed so many diets in an attempt to look like my best friend who was much skinnier than me. I never took into account that my bones were thicker than hers, which meant I SHOULD NOT look the same as her. Fast forward to my twenties. I became friends with many “overweight” people who were doing things I couldn’t; my best friend from college played on our school’s rugby team. She ate junk food on occasion, but more often than not she would eat mostly healthy foods. This is where I picked up my theory on how to eat to mold your ideal body!
Life preparing me for my enlightenment
This idea stayed with me long after we left college, but it didn’t click completely until I was living on my own in Philadelphia, PA. One sunny April day in 2013, I decided to walk to my local library. On my way there, my sneaker got caught in a crack in the sidewalk and I fell hard on my knees. While my knee injury wasn’t too bad, there was another lesson in store for me. About two weeks after my knees got better, I started having uncontrollable back spasms. They were so intense that when I went to my mother’s orthopedic surgeon to try to figure out what was wrong, that he couldn’t even touch me without extreme pain!
He ordered a number of different tests to decipher what was wrong but every test came back with negative results. His only conclusion was that my body had locked up from the intensity of the fall to protect me from something, and he was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! He then told me to go home and get as much rest as possible.
After seeing this doctor, I made it my mission to take as much time to rest as I possibly could. Not only that, I realized that I should use this down time to make healthier food choices. Before my accident, I ate fast food multiple times a day. Since I could barely move around my apartment, let alone go downstairs to pick up food from a local restaurant, I brought into my home yogurt, instant oatmeal, protein shakes, et cetera – anything that was easy to make so I didn’t aggravate my injury.
After a few weeks of following this meal plan, my family started asking me questions about my workout regimen. They were concerned that I had been ignoring my doctor and working out. When I told them that the only thing I was doing was making better food choices, they were shocked. My sister even came over one day to check up on me. When she saw that my refrigerator was full of everything I had told her, she went home and left me to recover.
By the end of my recovery, I had lost 30 pounds, with NO EXERCISE!! To date, I’ve lost about 85 in total and I NEVER diet.
What’s the lesson for you in all this?
I’m telling you my story to reinforce the idea that with this new year, you should make a resolution to become a healthier you in small steps. You have developed your current eating habits over the previous months and years of your life – you can’t expect lasting results to come from drastic changes. Food is our first and best medicine for creating a healthier body.
I began this blog as a reminder that you have to love your body, regardless of what shape it’s in. When you love your body exactly for how it is, the easier it will be to make small, positive changes. My story is a testament to that fact. Millions of people start popular diets every day, have success in the beginning and then gain it all back… Why? If a diet is so great, why can’t people stay on them for life, or at the very least maintain the weight they’ve lost?
The truth is: consistency is the biggest piece of the puzzle. I’ve been way off track with this – my mother’s death took me by surprise and I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted because of the depression that set in after losing her. From this day forward, I vow to do better for myself…. Especially because my mom believed wholeheartedly in what I do!
In order to achieve this goal, I must remember that small, yet constant improvement and upgrades to my current preferences is my keystone to finishing the health journey I started back in 2013.
Neither you or I can do intermittent health care. Healthy eating must happen daily. Aside from occasional “free meals,” we have to eat to nourish and maintain our bodies. It is an odd thing that has happened in our society where food intake is such a social and pleasure thing instead of a way to fuel our bodies.
So the conclusion is there is nothing wrong with always being aware of what we do to stay slim and strong and healthy. We should love ourselves for who we are on the inside but also love the potential we have; both inner and outer and always strive to live up to it.
Is your life feeling out of balance? Mine sure has been lately, but I am determined to adjust to my new reality ASAP. I can’t wait to use these tools to help me get there 😊🕉️💖
Balance is referred to in different ways, depending on which organization or expert you look to:
IIN calls it primary foods
Maslow called it a hierarchy of needs
Anthony Robbins called it a wheel
I call it a pie.
It doesn’t matter what we use as criteria. When it comes to experiencing balance in our lives, we all have certain needs that need to be filled throughout our lives. And the more balanced our fulfillment of these needs, the smoother our boat will sail and the closer to balance we will get.
Whatever we call it, it all comes down to balance. If our life is not in balance then we are in trouble.
Self actualization (morality, creativity, problem solving
learning, lack of prejudice and acceptance of facts)
Esteem (self esteem, confidence, respect)
Love and belonging (friendship, family and intimacy)
Safety (security of body, health, family, property, employment, resources and morality)
Physiological (breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion)
Everyone can rank these in a different order of importance. At the same time, we may each rank them differently at different times in our lives. What is certain? If one of the above is lacking and another is over emphasized, then we are out of balance.
Anthony Robbins does an exercise with a wheel representing career, physical, spiritual and financial. We have to rank each by “how it is going.” Visually we are able to see, for example, that we are doing great financially and physically, but perhaps not spiritually or career-wise. If we are out of balance, our wheel will not roll.
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition calls it “primary foods.” Outside our triangle of nutrition is a circle that consists of relationship, spirituality, career and physical activity.
The truth is, we can fix what we eat. We can eat more greens and get rid of processed foods, but if we don’t take care of the other areas of our life, we will still not experience balanced health and happiness. You can be completely healthy with your diet yet still feel imbalanced.
To help you see the topics more clearly, take a look at the following basic needs and ways of fulfillment.
Self Actualization (morality, creativity, problem solving, learning, lack of prejudice and an acceptance of facts)
•Prayer, Thoughtfulness, Meditation
Esteem (self esteem, confidence, respect)
Love and Belonging (friendship, family and intimacy)
Safety (security of body, health, family, property, employment, resources and morality)
•Environmental impact on health and well being through design (ex. bringing nature into the home, healthy light, smart space)
Camu Camu Berry
oJuicing vs. Blending
oNuts and Seeds
•Exercise and fitness
•Water, the amount and cleanliness
•Intimacy as a physical need
•Amount and quality of sleep
•Bodily function, sight, hearing, pain
•Illness and healing
We will be adding to this and focusing on each topic as total wellness. Look forward to future blogs on each line item and broken down even further for more tips on how to improve the quality of our lives. If anyone has any categories they would add to each need, please comment below.
Every day I hear some new theory about the dangers of simple carbohydrates. While I understand what the experts are trying to do, they forget that these foods exist in nature for a reason, and it’s in our best interest to find out why!
As I mentioned in my previous blog, I have been dealing with a cold – mainly a scratchy throat and a cough. It is annoying to be sick, but about two days into this, I realized that there could be some good to come out of my misery. And I finally realized what it is: to help people understand the BENEFITS of simple carbohydrates!
Yes, you read that right – there are benefits to eating simple carbohydrates.
What do carbohydrates do?
Carbs, as you may know are the easiest macronutrient for your body to break down and use for energy. When you’re not recovering from a cold, limiting them (especially the simple ones – white bread, rice, cake, etc.) is a great way to get healthy and stay healthy. If you do get sick, however, the number of simple carbs you eat every day should double or triple, depending on the severity of your symptoms!
Why should you double/triple the simple carbs you eat?
Did I freak you out by telling you to double your carb intake? Good, that means you’re open to hearing why.
Carbohydrates are an important part of your healthy life because they contain three of the most vital elements our bodies are made of: carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. In this instance, hydrogen is the key element.
Hydrogen and ATP production
Anyone with a background in biology will tell you that ATP is the body’s energy source. This molecule captures the chemical energy that was produced as your body broke down the food you ate and distributes that new energy to the cells that need it most.
This is transfer of energy is done through the influx of hydrogen ions, which the precursor to ATP needs in order to build more of this crucial enzyme. So, the more carbohydrates you eat when you’re sick, the more hydrogen can be used to create more ATP and the more energy your body will have to fight off the infection so you can feel better faster!!!
Think about the last time you were sick and how much food you ate. How did you feel on an empty stomach versus a full one?
During these last few days, I was utterly miserable when I didn’t have much food to eat. I would have to take two or three cough drops an hour to calm my cough. However, when I went to the grocery store and bought some carb-heavy comfort foods and gave myself time to rest after eating I noticed my symptoms became less severe.
What do you think about my theory of doubling or tripling your carbohydrate intake when you’re sick?
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, breathing from your diaphragm is one of the best things you can do to improve your health (and it’s truly a quick fix!). Doing so will help your body heal itself from a variety of issues, like anxiety, shortness of breath, heart issues (by bringing in more oxygen), and so much more!
In order to re-train your body to do this, you need to know if you are suffering from one of the three common breath holding patterns. In this post, we’ll cover chest breathing – specifically what it is, how it affects your body and how to correct the issue.
Before we delve into the topic, it’s good to see what this pattern looks like. Here’s a great illustration from Buzzle.
How does someone chest breathe?
As I mentioned earlier, chest breathing is a normal part how the body functions, but it should only be used as a last resort. Think about what happens when you find yourself in a scary situation. Do you find yourself taking short, incomplete breaths, making it harder and harder for you to you to fully catch your breath? That is EXACTLY what chest breathing is and it can have some seriously negative health repercussions. Let’s look at a few of them.
What does chest breathing do to your mind and body?
Breathing from your chest is a natural thing to do when we’re in a state of fear, that’s why many people do not see a problem with this way of breathing. However, following this pattern for an extended period of time, rather than breathing from your diaphragm can cause several health problems.
Chronic upper body tension. When you force yourself to breathe through your chest, rather than starting at your belly, the secondary respiratory muscles get used instead of the primary ones. When the secondary muscles are forced to be used more often than necessary, it is very likely that they will tire quickly and be sure to alert you that they don’t want to be used improperly!
Digestive issues. Constantly holding in your stomach prevents the organs in your abdomen from getting adequate circulation. This, in turn, prevents the body from having the ability to release the toxins it prevented your body from absorbing, especially through excretion.
Weight loss/gain. Digestive issues don’t just effect your ability to go to the bathroom, it plays directly into your weight loss efforts. One of the most common digestive issues is constipation. Yes, this is kind of a gross subject, but it is extremely important to improving your health. You know that when you are constipated, you aren’t able to poop as often as you should. This is bad because when you poop, your body is essentially expelling the bad things that it cannot use. If you aren’t able to do so regularly, your body loses the ability to absorb key nutrients – that’s right, nutrient absorption happens in the digestive tract – which prevents you from achieving your weight loss goals.
Heart issues. As discussed in my previous post on diaphragmatic breathing, the heart is directly tied to the way you breathe, because of the oxygen it has access to. When you breathe from your chest, your lungs cannot fully expand, which prevents the body from getting the maximum amount of oxygen it needs to perform at its best.. This is important to keep in mind because the heart pumps oxygenated blood to different parts of the body and if there isn’t enough oxygen, the heart will react by pumping harder to try to deliver more oxygenated blood, creating a vicious cycle of harder work for itself.
Chest breathing doesn’t just impact your mental health, it is sometimes caused by mental distress. In order to better help those who suffer from this unhealthy breathing pattern, it is wise to examine the underlying cause and treat that rather than focusing on the after effects.
Chest breathing usually starts when you are in a stressful situation, again, because it is a survival mechanism humans have developed over the years. Now that we know why this breathing pattern occurs, it’s important to understand how our modern lives contribute to the problem.
Men and women are equally vulnerable to dealing with this, but for different reasons. In America, men are expected to be able to handle anything and everything that comes their way without complaining. How ridiculous is that!?
Women, on the other hand, tend to become chest breathers because of the unrealistic standard of beauty in the United States. From a young age, girls are taught that having ample breasts and a small waist is the ideal body type, which is the perfect pressure cooker for chest breathing!
Now that we know WHY men and women are susceptible to chest breathing, we can see create tools that help undo this pattern.
Fixing the problem
Chest breathing is an easy issue to correct, if you give yourself the time to practice these tools:
Take 3 to 5 minutes every day and consciously try to get the belly to expand when you inhale and contract when you exhale. Do this for three to five breaths, then take step back and see how you feel
SLOW DOWN – since chest breathing is triggered by anxiety-inducing situations, take time each day to purposefully slow down and think about the good people and things you have in your life. It sounds trite, but trust me, it is one of the best solutions available!
Give away any clothes that are too small for you. While you may think that the smaller clothes will motivate you to be the healthiest version of yourself, it is trapping your body in an unhealthy breathing pattern. I know when I take off clothes that are too tight I feel better instantly!
Chest breathing is a common problem that can be easily resolved with time and patience with yourself (this is important!). 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.
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.
Constantly holding your stomach in, whether you are physically doing it or wearing constricting clothes, can cause:
Digestive ailments like indigestion, heartburn, bloating and gas because the organs in the stomach are being squeezed
Upper body tension, specifically in the back of your neck, jaw, upper shoulders and back,
Coordination problems because your breathing pattern has been reversed and it cannot support your muscles properly
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:
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
SLOW DOWN – many people get stuck in a reverse breathing pattern when they try to do to much
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.
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:
Breathe in enough oxygen,
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:
Properly digest your food,
Absorb important nutrients,
Store eliminate toxins,
Break down poisons,
Destroy harmful bacteria,
Produce new blood cells,
Filter and regulate the concentrations of water and solutes in the blood,
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.
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!
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, airand 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.
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, 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, 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.
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!