Thoughts…

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Experiences…

“Nothing is yours. It is to use. It is to share. If you will not share it, you cannot use it.”

Ursula K. Le Guin

Winter Ayurvedic Chai Recipe

Winter Ayurvedic Chai Recipe

Hug in a cup

This recipe is an adaptation from a tri doshic chai recipe, that is, a recipe that is designed for all seasons and all constitutions. I’ve added a few extra warming spices including cinnamon and ajwain seeds and reduced the fennel to make it more specific for bringing warmth into the body through the winter. This recipe will help to keep  any excess cool and damp qualities of kapha at bay. An excessive influence of kapha can manifest as mucous congestion in the chest or a heaviness in the stomach, mind and body.

Regardless of being caffeine free, I find I still have plenty of focus and energy after sipping on this delicious brew! You can have this in the morning or take a thermos with you to sip throughout the day. I recommend using organic spices where possible for the most nutritional value and medicinal benefit. I haven’t been able to find organic black cardamon in my travels, if you do, please let me know!

Ingredients

Fresh ginger 1/2 inch piece sliced

Green cardamom x 6

Black Cardamon x 2

Cinnamon stick x 2

Cloves  x 4

Fennel seeds 1/2 tsp

Black pepper 2 whole

Ajwain seeds 1/2 tsp (you can pick these up from most Indian supermarket)

Water  1 1/2 cups

Milk (Organic un-homogenised) – 2 cups (optional, you can add more water if you wish to instead)

Method:

1. Add water and ginger to saucepan and place on heat.
2. Place spices in mortar and pestle and grind briefly
3. Add spice mix to water and bring to boil
6. Immediately add milk and bring back to boil, then simmer for 1 minute
7. Stain ingredients and serve hot.

** if you’d like to add honey as a sweetener, wait until the chai has cooled in order to keep the medicinal qualities. If honey is heated at high temperatures, according to Ayurveda it can lose it’s healing qualities and becomes poisonous if consumed.

Nurture Your Nature (Part 2)

Nurture Your Nature (Part 2)

A Celebration Of Your Uniqueness…

I once heard self care described as “how I would advise someone I love to care for themselves” I love this. It offers the idea that we are in fact, in a nurturing relationship with our selves, with our best interests at heart. What could be a better approach than that?!

I’ve been asking myself the question what nourishes me outside of the daily routine or Dinacharya What nourishes the senses, the soul, my mind and my emotional health?

Having a daily routine offers support when external stresses inevitably show up in life. It can provide the strength needed to cope with difficult situations, a strength that comes from a steady, unwavering place within. Routine helps to bring balance in the constitution. The key is consistency.

These habits or life rituals give rise to a sattvic or peaceful state of mind. This peaceful state of mind nourishes our entire well-being, assisting with clearer thinking and ability to be solutions focused when faced with challenges.

Through Ayurveda we can come to understand our true nature. That is, that every single one of us is truly unique. Ayurveda celebrates this. No one body type or shape is considered ‘wrong’ nor without beauty. What is truly important is to nourish and nurture who we are and how we have manifest psychologically, emotionally and physically in this life.

 

What does emotional, spiritual or psychological self care look like?

Emotional self care could involve finding things that make you laugh, or keeping in touch with important people in your life, your mother, your brother, an inspiring influence. Expressing your feelings creatively, be it through dance, writing, painting or a song. Checking in with yourself regularly, are you in a state of peace or dissonance, of compassion or frustration? Asking your self, what do I need to bring my emotional body into a sate of wellbeing? Hugging at least once a day and sharing food with loved ones.

Spiritual self-care could take the form of developing awareness of the non material aspects of life, through practices such as meditation, Qigong or spending time in nature. It could also be the act of sharing in a spiritual connection with another or being part of a community that shares the same spiritual beliefs as you.

As I mentioned earlier, a regular dinacharya can give rise to a sattvic state of mind, though psychological self-care could also involve reading literature that inspires you, that offers you the opportunity to think outside of your regular day-to-day life. Making time for self-reflection, or engaging your intellect in new way, through new conversations and interactions, through watching an interesting or inspiring documentary, or by introducing a practice of meditation into your life for 10mins a day. Use empowering positive language when sharing your dreams and ideas with others.

Ask yourself, what do I need to bring the mind into a positive state, embracing the life I have in front of me?

Ayurveda has the capacity to soften us, when doing so can be hard work in today’s busy world. Take time to nourish and nurture your nature. Even if it’s through only one, or two of the points I have shared with you today.

Be with your best interests at heart.

I’d love to hear how you nurture your nature. Please share in the comments below!

Carla x

Nurture Your Nature – Self Care through Ayurveda (Part 1)

Nurture Your Nature – Self Care through Ayurveda (Part 1)

How do you welcome yourself into the day?

What habits you have to keep your body and mind nourished and nurtured? Before diving into the ocean of Ayurveda, I hadn’t given these questions much thought at all.

Sure, I knew starting the day with a bit of exercise, a good breakfast, maybe some yoga, meditation and pranayama, was a good idea, but why? Why in the morning? And why does it matter? Can’t I just start the day with a double shot latte, and forget about breakfast? Eat lunch at my desk around 2pm, reach for the chocolate around 4pm for a quick pick me up, can’t focus, have another coffee, have dinner late because I went to my workout/yoga class/spin class after work, over eat because I’m starving, haven’t eaten since 4pm, and lunch was sushi…No?

Apparently not if I want to experience optimum health and vitality and to prevent any kind of nervous breakdown in the future! read more…

Seasonal Produce – Spring

Seasonal Produce – Spring

Ayurvedic nutrition considers not only the type of food we eat, but the season in which we eat it for optimum health and wellbeing.

By eating seasonally you’re already half way there when it comes to ayurvedic nutrition. Shopping at the local farmers market is a great way to follow seasonal guidelines.

Fruits

Bananas, berries, grapefruit, lemons, cumquats, limes, imperial mandarines, strawberries

Vegetables

Globe artichoke, asparagus, green beans, broad beans, beetroot, broccoli, capsicum, carrots, cauliflower, chillies, cucumber, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsley, parsnip, peas, snow peas, potatoes, rhubarb, silverbeet, spinach, spring onion, squash, zucchini.

Asparagus short

Herbs

Bay leaf, parsley, mint, rosemary, thyme, chives, oregano, marjoram, sage, bronze fennel, dill, garlic, coriander.

Your local farmers markets or organic delivery service:

Melbourne and Victorian Farmers Markets

Earth and Sky Organics

 

References

Seasonal Food Guide Australia

Victorian Farmers Markets Association

 

Chunky Carrot and Pumpkin Soup – Recipe

Chunky Carrot and Pumpkin Soup – Recipe

Chunky carrot and pumpkin soup. MmmmMmmm, this is one of my fav winter soups. Grounding, nourishing and warming from the inside out!

Ingredients

Ginger 1 inch
Garlic 2 cloves
Onion 1 medium brown
Cumin seeds 2 tsp
Cumin powder 1 tsp
Ajwain seeds 1 tsp
Sea Salt 1 pinch
Black Pepper 1/4 tsp cracked
Organic vegetable stock 1 cube
Water 6 cups
Carrots 4 medium
Jap Pumpkin 1/2
Ghee 2 tbsp

Preparation
Chop pumpkin and carrots into small pieces.

Boil 6 cups of water to prepare your stock, then add stock cube. Be sure to break up the stock cube and stir it through so it completely dissolves.

In a separate large pot, on high heat, warm your ghee until melted. Add diced onion, crushed garlic and grated ginger, stir until onion is lightly brown. Reduce the heat to medium, add cumin and ajwain seeds and continue to stir, be careful not to burn the seeds. Add pumpkin, carrots, salt and pepper, then stir through the spices to cover the vegetables in flavour. Do so for 3-4 minutes before adding your stock.

Stir through the stock and cover. Turn the heat back up to high until the soup begins to boil, then reduce to low heat and allow to simmer with the lid on. Occasionally stir. Once pumpkin is soft an reduced whilst the carrots are soft but chunky, turn of heat and allow to sit and cool before serving.

Green Lentil Winter Warmer  – Recipe

Green Lentil Winter Warmer – Recipe

This delicious green lentil winter warmer is a perfect to warm the winter blues. It’s simple and super quick to prepare. A great source of protein, the combination of herbs and spices here are beneficial for vata and kapha types, and helpful for all constitutions this time of year.

IngredientsWarm winter Salad

Green lentils 1/2 cup
Ajwain seeds 1 tsp
Cumin seeds 2 tsp
Turmeric powder 1 tsp
Sea salt 1 pinch
Black cracked pepper 1/4 tsp
6 Cloves
Brown onion 1 small
Grated ginger 1 inch
Garlic 2 coves
Cherry tomatoes 1/2 punnet
Kale 1/2 bunch (or 7 large leaves from your back garden)
Pepitas (pumpkin Seeds) 3 table spoons
Sesame oil 2 tablespoons

 

Preparation:

Soak the lentils in water and leave covered over night.

When you’re ready to cook up a storm, chop the kale into thin shreds, and the cherry tomatoes into quarters. dice the onion, and garlic and grate the ginger. Rinse the lentils before cooking.

Using a wok, fry the sesame oil, onion, garlic and ginger. Add the lentils, cumin seeds, ajwain seeds, cloves, and cook for 15min continuously stirring the ingredients on medium heat. Add 1/2 cup of water and cover with a lid for 3-4min or until the water has reduced and lentils are soft. Add turmeric powder, salt, black pepper, kale, cherry tomatoes and pepitas. Stir and continue cooking on low heat. Cover and cook until kale begins to wilt.

Dry fry pepitas in a separate pan until lightly toasted. Keep them moving in the pan as they can quickly burn if left for too long. You’ll notice some of them begin to pop and a you will be able to smell the oil inside the seeds begin to be released, that’s when you know they’re ready! Add the pepitas to the rest of the dish and you’re ready to serve.

I’d love to know how you go with this one! If you feel inspired, leave a comment below about the flavour and the spice mix, love to know if you enjoyed it as much as I do!

Xx

Carla

Oil Pulling / Gandoosh

Oil Pulling / Gandoosh

To Gandoosh or not to Gandoosh?

I’ve been gandooshing almost everyday for the past 4 years. I have to say, I’ve personally found it to be extraordinary. Such a simple practice with profound mental and physical benefits.

Oil Pulling as it’s also known, maintains the health of the teeth, mouth and gums, offering a multitude of benefits yet to be discovered through western medical science.

Traditionally your Ayurvedic doctor would prescribe a medicated herbal oil specific to your constitution and the season and health needs. This still happens in many Ayurvedic hospitals and clinics, though as a general rule, if you are choosing to try oil pulling without a practitioners guidance, cold pressed organic sesame oil is recommended. I recommend the Melrose Organic Sesame oil, it’s cold pressed, organic certified and readily available in most organic whole-foods stores throughout Australia.

Ayurveda Oil PullingWhy Cold Pressed?

There are several ways vegetable oils can be extracted. One of them is through cold pressing, this means the oil has been cold press extracted from the sesame seed. Cold pressed oils retain their nutritive value and medicinal properties maintaining the integrity of the oil. Using cold pressed oils also reduces the risk of rancidity and potentially free radical damage to our body’s cells.

Why Sesame?

Sesame oil is tri-doshic, meaning it can be used by all constitutional types (vata, pitta and kapha) in a variety of environmental conditions without the risk of aggravating the dosha. Organic sesame oil is said to be the safest for anyone to use without advice particular to your constitution.

…and Coconut?

Through Ayurveda, we understand there is a connection between the world we live in and the human body and mind, seeing all things as a varying combination of the five elements, earth, water, fire, air and ether and their properties. Through recognising the constant interplay between these elements, we can see the potential effect that certain foods, substances and lifestyle choices and can have on our health.

You may have come across one of the many articles online mentioning the use of coconut oil for oil pulling, and why not!? It tastes delicious, and does a fabulous job leaving the teeth bright white, and many of the benefits that have been studied from the effects of sesame oil can often be noticed. Though what it also does, is have a cooling effect on the body with the potential of aggravating Kapha dosha, if other herbs are not added to balance the cooling effect, particularly if you are susceptible to this type of aggravation.

If, for example coconut oil is used in Melbourne, in the middle of winter, by someone who is prone to sinus congestion, or who has a kapha body type and or aggravation due to food and/or lifestyle factors, the risk of more Kapha aggravation increases. This can manifest as congestion in the head, sinus, chest, throat and lungs.

Benefits…

Some of the many benefits of oil pulling include improved teeth and gum health, alleviation of ulcers, sensitive teeth and removing ama (toxic build up) from the mouth and tongue. Recent studies published in the Indian Journal of Dental Research has shown that oil pulling reduces the build up of plaque and gingivitis where as other studies have indicated prevention of halitosis (bad breath) and cavities, decay, bleeding gums, dryness of throat, and soothing cracked lips.

More info on oil pulling with sesame oil…

Indian Journal of Dental Research

Perspectives of Oil Pulling Therapy in Dental Practice

Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventative Dentistry

Ayurveda also recognised the practice of oil pulling improves Agni or digestive fire. Healthy Agni means optimum metabolism and absorption of nutrients, increased energy, improved mental clarity and a robust immune system. But don’t take my word for it!

The Ritual

Editied Oil1. Take 2 tablespoons of cold pressed organic sesame oil in to the mouth and swish for a minimum for 5-10 minutes

2. You will know the oil has ‘done it’s work’ when the thickness changes in your mouth and begins to emulsify.

3. You want the oil to go from a thick oily viscosity to a thin milky texture, when this change happens, you know the ama (toxins/bacteria) has been ‘pulled’ from the mouth, teeth and gums.  The colour will also change.

4. Be sure not to swallow the oil, spit out and rinse the mouth.

5. Practice every morning after tongue scrapping and cleaning the teeth and before food.

Soothing Ayurvedic Breakfast – Recipe

Soothing Ayurvedic Breakfast – Recipe

This is a delicious ayurvedic breakfast for soothing both body and mind. It’s an excellent energy source and great start to the day. I often recommend this recipe to clients where the metabolism is sluggish, if they are experiencing fatigue, tiredness or have a low immune system, as this delicious recipe is a great for nourishing the digestive fire and combating each of these symptoms.

You need:

  • Organic oats – 1/2 cup
  • Ghee – 2 tbsp
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Milk – Organic non-homogenized is best – 1-2 cups
  • Raisins – 1 handful
  • Cardamom ground – 1 pinch
  • Cinnamon ground – 1/2 pinch

The method:

  1. Heat ghee in a small saucepan over low flame. Add the oats and toast for 1 -2 min until golden brown
  2. Begin to add water and start stirring
  3. Add cardamom, cinnamon powder and raisins. Keep stirring for another 3 – 4 min
  4. Add 2 cups of milk for vata, or 1 cup of milk for balancing Pitta, or 1/2 cup of milk for kapha constitution
  5. Continue stirring for another 5 or so minutes until oats become creamy, soft and ready to eat!
  6. Serves 2

** It’s often recommended to add an optional amount of raw sugar for anyone who may be dominant with vata in their constitution, and particularity in autumn for all body types to nourish and maintain the vata dosha.

*Recipe courtesy of my teacher Dr S. Ajit from the Australasian Institute of Ayurvedic Studies

Take time to sit and enjoy every mouthful! Nourishment comes not only from the ingredients themselves, it’s the love and intention we include in the preparation that nourishes us long after the meal is finished!

Enjoy!

Yoga and Ayurveda: A Vedic Tradition

Yoga and Ayurveda: A Vedic Tradition

We are often asked, what is ayurveda, and how does ayurveda relate to yoga?

Ayurveda is known as the science of life, while yoga is the science of liberation and freedom from suffering in the mind and body. Yoga and ayurveda naturally, work hand in hand and are intricately connected in a harmonious way.

They both share a philosophy that originates from the ancient vedic texts first recorded in India more than five thousand years ago and are related to the traditional disciplines connected with the vedic arts and sciences such as dance, music, architecture and astrology.

There is much cross over between the two sciences. Yoga, particularly the meditation practices make up the spiritual aspect of Ayurveda. Whilst ayurvedic diet, lifestyle regimes and herbs make up the side of yogic spirituality. Yoga and ayurveda naturally, work hand in hand. When practiced together, the two disciplines offer profound physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits.

Therapeutically, asana, pranayama and meditation can be prescribed along with ayurvedic regimes as a part of an ayurvedic treatment program. This is given based on the individual constitution to maintain and improve health and vitality. Incorporating daily ayurvedic routines, supports the body’s natural cleansing, encouraging a holistic yogic practice which facilitates the process of liberation- the very essence behind all styles of yoga.

From an ayurvedic perspective, the concept of health is seen as a balanced combination of the five elements- Fire, water, air, earth and ether. The ratio of elements is unique in every individual that is confirmed by the three doshas or constitutional types in ayurveda- vata, pitta and kapha. Vata is made up of air and ether, pitta is a combination of water and fire and kapha is composed of earth and water.

Present within every human being and consistent within all life, the five elements and three doshas are considered the basic building blocks of ayurveda. When vata, pitta and kapha are in balance within the human body we experience optimum health.  When not in regular balance, disease begins to manifest.

Yoga offers particular asana practices that are beneficial for each of the doshas and individual constitution, which is often a combination of two or more dosha. The following are asana practices that relate specifically to each individual dosha:

Vata constitution

Vata people are often restless and changeable like the wind. They have trouble sitting still and staying focused. Yoga postures that create a calming and grounding effect will benefit these constitutional types greatly. Simple sitting postures are best for vata types, though all types of asana can be beneficial if done gently and consistently.

Postures– Sukhasana (easy pose), Padmasana (lotus pose) and Savasana (corpse pose)

 

Pitta Constitution

Pitta people have strong determination and drive and can easily overheat in body temperature. This can make them angry and irritable. Yoga postures that provide great emotional relief, have cooling properties which help balance pitta persons sharp intellect and develop a deeper understanding of themselves.

Postures- Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Sarvangasana (shoulder stand pose) Halasana (plough pose) and Nadi-shodana pranayama (alternate nostril breathing has a cooling and calming effect).

 

Kapha Constitution

Kapha types easily develop congestion or stagnation in the body, especially in the lungs. Yoga asana can help to open up the body and eliminate this congestion. This brings movement into both body and mind bringing positive direction to their lives. Along with asana, when practised correctly, kapha types benefit from strong pranayama practices such as Kapalabhati- breath of fire. This is an invigorating practice for the mind and body, especially the digestive and respiratory systems.

Postures: Paschimotanasana (back stretching pose) Marichasana III (seated twist) and Virabhadrasana I II – warrior I II.

 

Pranayama

Alternate nostril breathing is considered the most important pranayama technique used in ayurveda.

When an ayurvedic practitioner distinguishes imbalances in the body, subtle variations of alternate nostril breathing can be recommended to cleanse, balance, or combat disease. Based on the solar and lunar principals, this technique has a profound effect balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

 

*Carisma Martorejo featured in the article images is available personalised Yoga classes and teaches at The Yoga Place in North Melbourne.

A True Ayurveda Healing Village

A True Ayurveda Healing Village

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to stay at a traditional Ayurvedic hospital in India. The hospital grounds were more like an ashram; peaceful, bathed in the call of native birds, surrounded by gardens, and equip with a yoga and meditation hall for daily practice.

Built based on the descriptions given in the traditional text, written more than 5000 year ago, the entire experience there is designed for optimum health and healing. This is a part of the world where Ayurveda is being practiced in it’s true traditional sense, being preserved, experience and shared.

Organic gardens have been built, to supply food for the hospital and the local village,  land has been regenerated, children are being educated and patients are benefiting from all over the world who come for healing and transformation over 21 days.

Dr Ram Kumar, the founder and visionary for for Vaidyagrama describes it here beautifully…
Vaidyagrama: A True Ayurveda Healing Village.

Vidyagrama Ayurvedic Healing Village

 

Don’t follow any advice, no matter how good, until you feel as deeply in your spirit
as you think in your mind,

that the counsel is wise.

Joan Rivers

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