Sleep disorders are very common in our modern, fast paced lives and stress is often the number one cause. Since lack of sleep can be very detrimental to our health, it is important that we address early symptoms of insomnia before our bodies become depleted and additional health problems are created.
According to Ayurveda, insomnia is an expression of increased Vata which disturbs the mind and nervous system. When aggravated, Vata dosha can change its natural direction and move upwards, agitating our thoughts and at times creating constipation as well.
Pacifying Vata is the best way to calm the nervous system and restore our natural sleep rhythm:
• Stick to a daily routine as much as possible, getting up and going to bed at the same time.
• Massage the soles of the feet and the scalp with warm sesame oil before going to bed.
• Take a hot bath before going to bed.
• Drink a cup of herbal tea at bedtime. Chamomile and Valerian root are a good choice.
• Take some time to meditate and calm your mind before going to bed. You can try this breathing exercise.
• Eat fresh simple food such as steamed vegetables with basmati rice, mung beans and fruit.
• Take a Tai Chi, Qi Gong or restorative Hatha Yoga class.
• If you have constipation take 2 to 4 Triphala tablets at night with warm water.
Sweet dreams to all!
The Sun entered the sign of Taurus on May 14th and will stay there until June 14th. The sign of Taurus is ruled by Venus giving a love for beautiful things, the arts and anything that pleases the senses such as good food and material comforts. Taurus people are charming and warm, they are relationships oriented and are very generous with the ones they love.
Taurus is the first of the earth signs and can be represented by the strength of a young sprout breaking through the soil to grow and thrive. Perseverance is the biggest asset of people born in the sign of Taurus. Once they start a project they will definitely bring it to completion even though it may take them a long time.
Most Taurus people have a need to be in control of what happens in their life and this is probably where their biggest opportunity for spiritual growth lies. Self reflection will help them realize that their need to possess material things and keep their life under control stems from a certain lack of self-confidence typical of this sign. Ultimately everything constantly changes in life. The desire for stability that the Taurus person so strongly feels can be fulfilled by developing faith in one’s own inner strength and ability to face any given challenge. Only then will Taurus people be able to let go of their attachment to material possessions and surrender to the big cosmic plan.
Turmeric, Curcuma longa- Zingiberaceae
Turmeric, a relative of Ginger, has become one of the most studied exotic spices by modern scientists. Turmeric has been used in India for over 4000 years as a daily kitchen spice and as a medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments.
Recent studies show that Curcumin, the active ingredient of Turmeric, has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties helping with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, arthritis and various cancers, where inflammation and oxidative damage are key elements.
Ayurvedic Medicine uses Turmeric to support the digestive, circulatory and respiratory system. Turmeric is a great blood purifier; it is used in many skin conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, urticaria; it helps with inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis; it is an anti-bacterial and antibiotic used in fevers and sore throat.
Even though Turmeric capsules are widely available, Ayurveda recommends the use of Turmeric as a cooking spice that can be added to any dish.
¼ to ½ teaspoon of Turmeric powder is enough for a meal serving 2 -3 people.
The Sun entered the sign of Aries on April 14th and will remain there until May 14th. This is a very strong placement for the Sun, since Aries gives it exaltation and maximum strength. The sign of Aries is ruled by Mars – the planet of energy, ambition, pioneering spirit, impulsiveness and courage.
Aries is the first of the fire signs expressing the enthusiasm, positive expectation and hope related to all new beginnings. Typically people born in the sign of Aries jump into new adventures and projects without considering the possible obstacles or consequences, but they are normally armed with the strength of being able to start all over again with renewed vigor.
The sign of Aries offers the potential of living fully in the present, leaving behind past experience, transcending the concept of time and experiencing the present moment as eternal. If we miss that opportunity we could become addicted to constantly starting new projects for the thrill of the novelty, spreading our energy too thin. Aries people need to learn to control their energy and connect to their inner fire, the true source of their enthusiasm and joy for living.
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Prana is the subtle energy in the air we breath, it is not oxygen but it is carried by it. Prana is the vital link between our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual body. Our thoughts and emotions affect our breathing and vice versa. Through the breath Prana brings awareness and healing. So the most direct way to calm our mind, steady our emotions and harmonize our physiology is to observe the way we breath.
1. Sit comfortably and upright in a chair or on the floor
2. Close your eyes and observe your breath. How does it feel? Is it fast, shallow, deep? Do you feel the movement in your chest or belly?
3. Place your hands on your belly and feel it expand as you breath in through your nose
4. After a few minutes place your hands on your lower back and notice the movement as you breath in and out, continue for 10 breaths
5. Now keep breathing with your hands on your lap and your attention in the area below your belly button
6. Let the breath flow like an ocean wave, don’t force it in or out, listen to its soothing sound. Relax…
Ten minutes of conscious breathing are normally enough to produce a change. Keep practicing till it becomes effortless, your second nature. As you get better you will be able to perform other activities and observe your breath at the same time. You are on your way to equanimity and what happens around you won’t throw you off-balance as easily. Good luck!
Kitchari is a mixture of basmati rice and mung beans. It is very nourishing and easy to digest. The combination of rice and beans creates a complete source of proteins which strengthen all the tissues and support the digestive fire.
A five-day long mono-diet of Kitchari is the perfect way to get rid of toxic build-up and stagnation left over from the cold winter season.
1 cup white basmati rice
½ cup split yellow mung beans
2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or sunflower oil
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon of salt
1 pinch turmeric
1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
3 cups of boiling water
Organic ghee and yellow mung beans can be purchased at your local health food store or Indian grocery store.
Wash rice and mung beans and drain. In a pot, heat the ghee or oil and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and hing, stir till the seeds pop. Add rice, mung beans, turmeric and salt and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes. Add boiling water and simmer over low heat for about 25-30 minutes. You may add vegetables such as carrots, zucchini or green beans.
Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime.
Note: For better digestibility soak the mung beans for 3 hours before cooking. Even better: pre-cook the mung beans for 15 minutes and then add to the rice and spices.
Spring is almost here! Spring is a Kapha season when moisture predominates aggravating Kapha dosha in our body. When Kapha is in excess we experience congestion, mucus, hay fever and so forth.
Ayurvedic Tips to reduce Kapha dosha:
• Avoid cold drinks and foods
• Avoid dairy products, red meats and fried foods
• Avoid sweet, sour and salty foods
• Emphasize baked or grilled vegetables; fish or chicken
• Drink warm water
• Take 1 or 2 tablets of Triphala at night (a combination of 3 herbs: amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki). Triphala acts as a mild laxative and purgative and can be found in any health food store.
• Use pungent spices such as ginger, garlic, cinnamon and black pepper
• Drink Ginger Tea or Kapha Balancing Tea (see below)
Kapha Balancing Tea:
¼ teaspoon grated ginger or ginger powder
one pinch of turmeric powder
one pinch of cinnamon powder
1 cup of boiling water
Steep the spices for 5-10 minutes.
Contraindications: Do not use pungent spices such as ginger, red pepper and black pepper if you suffer from gastritis, heartburn or ulcers. Do not use triphala if you are pregnant.
Happy Spring Everybody!!
Each planet rules one or two signs in the zodiac. When a planet is transiting over or is placed in the sign it rules in your natal horoscope it is considered strong, comfortable in its own environment. For example Mercury rules Gemini and Virgo, so Mercury transiting or placed in either Gemini or Virgo will express its ability of communicating, teaching and learning in a very natural manner. If Mercury is placed in Leo in your horoscope your communication style will be more dramatic, authoritative and fiery and so forth.
Mercury is the planet of intellect, speech, mathematics, analysis and logic. Pisces is the sign of intuition, spirituality, non-linear thinking, inspiration: these are all foreign qualities to Mercury’s nature and that is why Mercury is considered debilitated in Pisces.
During the next couple of months we have the opportunity to experience our intellect and thinking mind in a different way. You may notice being more intuitive than normal, more drawn to spiritual or creative experiences, inspired to participate in charitable work. You might get a glance of the bigger picture, the deeper meaning of what is happening around you. And at times you might feel a bit distracted, not completely grounded…just remember Mercury is in Pisces!