8 Yoga Poses that Kindle Gratitude on Thanksgiving
Start your Thanksgiving day with 8 yoga poses that inspire gratitude.
For the best results, hold each pose for five to ten breaths.
1. Mountain Pose with Raised Hands (Urdva Hasta Tadasana)
This welcoming, powerful pose kindles gratitude as you open your heart and stand grounded in receptivity. Feel hopeful and grateful for all your dreams and the unknown adventures of the future that give you a sense of purpose and openness respectively.
2. Standing Forward Fold (Hastapadasana)
This releases the spine and invokes gratitude as you learn to trust your feet to hold you and allow fresh, oxygen-rich blood to move towards your brain for mental clarity. Allow your worries and negativity from the day to roll down your spine and pour onto the floor, and feel renewed with gratitude for the positivity in your life.
3. Child’s Pose (Shishuasana)
This gentle hip-opener inspires gratitude as you fold forward into yourself, get closer to the earth as if you are putting a gentle kiss of gratefulness on the forehead of mother earth. Bow down and surrender. Let go of things that are not serving you. Find gratitude for your very breath—a sign that you are alive and everything is possible.
4. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
This challenging pose inspires gratitude as you practice courage and vulnerability while remaining open. As you open your heart, throat, and shoulders, find gratitude for all the courage you’ve summoned into your life, and how it’s helped you through challenges big and small.
5. Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)
This hamstring stretch inspires gratitude as you focus your attention inward. As you breathe calmly, consider one part of your body for which you are especially grateful.
6. Supported Reclining Heart Opener (Supta Baddhakonasana)
This relaxing chest opener softens and opens up your heart chakra and inspires gratitude as you allow the props to support you. Think of a friend, family member or mentor who is dear to you and all you’ve learned from him or her. Allow the thought of this person to inspire feelings of being nurtured and loved. Feel the gratitude for yourself and those around you radiating out from your heart center.
7. Knees-to-Chest (Pavanmutasana)
Lying down, draw your knees into your chest and wrap your arms around your shins. Take a moment to feel gratitude for yourself. Hug yourself and accept who and where you are.
8. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This “ahhhhh”-inducing pose inspires gratitude as you rest completely and let go of all tension. Find compassion and gratitude for your own journey, for all of your strengths and all of your struggles. Finally feel compassion and gratitude for all beings everywhere, wishing them health, happiness, and ease on their journeys as well.
On this Thanksgiving day, I encourage you reflect on what your yoga practice has done for you over the years. Not only will this get you in the spirit of Thanksgiving, but it will also give your practice new meaning and purpose.
Celebrate gratitude for a month
Studies prove that giving thanks can make you happier, and gratitude increases a sense of well-being by 10%. Try it and find out for yourself!
Starting from Thanksgiving day, maintain a gratitude journal. Every morning, start your day with a simple gratitude meditation about 3-10 things you are grateful for, both big and small. Simply jot down the little moments of grace that comes effortlessly into your life. You will be amazed at how these small blessings cultivate a beautiful “just right” abundance of love and joy. Make the whole month about giving thanks, not just one day. And you will see that it will become your lifetime habit.
Finally let us remember that Thanksgiving is much more than turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. This year find gratitude not only for your blessings but also in the challenges that have shaped who you are today.
By Sejal Shah. Full article originally posted on ArtofLiving.com
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The Inner Bonding Process
This past May, the Art of Living Retreat Center hosted Dr. Margaret Paul for Inner Bonding, a weekend of transformative healing. Below, she elaborates on what the Inner Bonding Process is, and how it can change your life.
If you don’t value yourself or think that you’re good enough, why would you be motivated to take care of yourself?
A new solution for happiness
I worked as a traditional psychotherapist for 17 years, and I did not see people healing on a deep level. They’d feel better after a session, of course, but then something would happen in their life and they wouldn’t be able to deal with it. They didn’t have the tools, techniques, and inner strength needed to overcome the struggles of everyday life. I started to pray for a process that would go deep in terms of healing, for something that people could draw upon no matter where they were or how they were feeling.
That’s when I met the co-creator of Inner Bonding, Dr. Erika Choprich. I’m certain that Spirit made sure that we met so that we could combine our experience and knowledge. Our process has been life-changing for me, and I know it has been life changing for others, as well.
Learning to love yourself
With the Inner Bonding Process, people really get a handle on their anxiety and depression. They become motivated to take care of themselves, especially with what they put into their physical bodies. Their addictions to sugar, cigarettes, alcohol, what have you, begin to fade away.
Their relationships improve. Many people begin to realize that they’ve never learned to take responsibility for their own feelings and how to truly love themselves. In our society, we don’t have role models for that! In order to know what to do in any given moment, you have to access your inner guidance. You learn to ask yourself, “What’s loving to me right now? What can I do that’s in my highest interest?”
Nurturing emotional intelligence
Let’s say that you’re angry, and you’re convinced that your anger is because someone else has been unloving to you. Somebody else has put you down, judged you, rejected you, or pulled away from you. Your first instinct might be to say, “Well, of course I’m angry! Look at what they’re doing to me!” But in the Inner Bonding Process, we learn that anger is a symptom of our inner child, our soul, our essence, angry at us because we don’t know how to take care of ourselves in the face of somebody else’s unloving behavior.
When we get angry, we’re abandoning ourselves. We get defensive, we explain, we give up, we shut down, we take it personally, we blame the other person. We teach people to turn around and say to their inner selves, “How am I treating you? What am I telling you? How am I judging or abandoning you? How am I not being an advocate for you in the face of what somebody else is saying?”
That inner self might say, “Well, you’re judging me all the time. You’re putting me down. You’re not standing up for me. You’re not keeping me safe. You numb me with food. You don’t even know I exist.”
This self lets us know whether we’re loving ourselves or abandoning ourselves. When we feel peaceful, full, loved, and valued, then we know we’re taking care of that self.
Unlearning childhood pain
Growing up, we deal with a lot of pain. And we learn that we need to avoid pain at all costs, because it overwhelms us. Many of our parents treated us like we weren’t good enough, like we had to be perfect, to perform, that their love was conditional on how we looked or how many A’s we got or how popular we were. We absorbed all of that, and we started to treat ourselves the way we were treated by our parents or caregivers or church.
We perpetuate the abuse, and then wonder why we feel so bad. Why we feel so much pain. We don’t know what to do with it. We don’t know how to manage it. But that pain is telling you something about yourself.
The people who should have taught us how to handle this pain may in fact have been the ones hurting us. We learn to disconnect, dissociate from our feelings. We learn to think that feelings are weakness. We learn to think that we were bad when we were feeling our feelings. We’re supposed to just be okay all the time. With the inner bonding process, people learn to reconnect with their feelings and to interpret what their feelings are telling them.
They learn how to embrace themselves with compassion, to take responsibility to move closer to our feelings, to move with an intention to learn. We all want to receive love and avoid pain.
Love yourself in every area of your life
The 6 Inner steps of bonding helps you learn what it means to love yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, within relationships, organizationally, and financially. You learn what it means to show up for yourself, and that creates a sense of fullness and peace inside. You develop new neural pathways in your higher brain, your prefrontal cortex. You become a loving adult who naturally relies on your higher brain.
Parent your inner child
We need to approach our feelings as a loving adult. Your inner child needs to trust you, so you need to be open and compassionate and to really listen. We have to learn to reconnect with our intuition and to honor our feelings rather than squash them. This is what inner bonding is about. Learning to trust your inner guidance. We become our own guru. We access really amazing information.
Our goal can’t be to avoid pain–that makes our frequency too low. We can’t come at it from a perspective of protection, avoidance, and control. We access it only when we’re open to learning about what it means to love ourselves, and to identify our false beliefs.
Find your purpose
As you practice inner bonding, you get in touch with why you’re on the planet, with what brings you joy to offer the world. We’re here to evolve in our ability to love ourselves and love others, and we’re here to offer our love to the world in our own unique way. We have so many gifts that have been squashed down and judged, and this process really reconnects you to those gifts. When people tap into that, it brings enormous joy.
Learn more about the Inner Bonding Process here.
Dr. Margaret Paul is a bestselling author and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® self-healing process, and the related SelfQuest® self-healing online program – recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette. She has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including Oprah. Margaret holds a PhD in psychology, is a relationship expert, public speaker, consultant and artist. She has successfully worked with thousands and taught classes and seminars for over 50 years.
Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!
Healing Journeys of Ayurveda: Ayurveda for Psoriasis
As though overnight, patches of my skin began to become flaky. Literally, I woke up and started finding patches of scratchy skin, more of them each day. What was worse, they grew. More and more of my skin, day by day, became a scratchy source of flaky consternation.
Not being in a relationship, I wasn’t so concerned about the look of it, but it was terribly uncomfortable. It had me worried, and in my worry, I wondered — what is this? Would it just go away?
So I did what any self-respecting millennial would do: I researched online. Several vague, unanswered questions later, I sought out a real doctor.
The first doctor gave me a misdiagnosis. The second did too. Here’s an approximate rehash of our conversation after the labs came in:
“The lab results came back, and I’m sorry, but it looks like it’s cancerous.”
“Your mole is cancerous.”
“… I didn’t have a mole tested.”
“… Give me one moment please.” A long pause. “Sorry, wrong person. Your test shows psoriasis.”
I was relieved not to have cancer, but troubled to have psoriasis–psoriasis is apparently an incurable issue. The dermatologist’s treatment options were bleak: There is no cure, but we can give you steroid injections to reduce the symptoms. Frustrated, I declined. Most of my online research at the time also suggested that there wasn’t a total cure or even a complete understanding of the cause of this skin condition.
The doctor who recommended Ayurveda
Discouraged, I saw a third doctor, a family friend, who referred me to Ayurveda. He said that Ayurveda has a great approach to dealing with skin issues.
While I was relatively familiar with Ayurveda, it was my first time relying on Ayurveda to help me manage an acute condition. While Ayurveda is not formally recognized as a medical practice in the US, abroad it has thousands of years of history of being used for preventative care and relief.
I saw an Ayurvedic expert who told me that the root cause of my skin condition lay in my digestion. He suggested that by altering my food habits and adding a few natural herbs and buttermilk to my diet, I could find relief.
Can Ayurveda help psoriasis?
I ordered the herbs and waited eagerly for them to arrive, trying desperately not to scratch all the while. It was winter, and it seemed to me that the cold climate only dried my skin further and worsened my condition.
But I waited.
Once the herbs arrived, I quickly started taking them. I also made a few key changes in my diet. I cut out pitta-inflaming foods, like tomatoes, oranges, chips, and spicy food. I started drinking more buttermilk and eating more fresh leafy greens, as I’d been advised.
The results astounded me. Within a couple of weeks, the condition started clearing up. Not only did I feel lighter and more refreshed, but my skin looked more clear and less itchy.
The best part is that the results lasted.
Since then, I’ve continued learning about Ayurveda and incorporating it into my life, and I’ve done a few seasonal Ayurvedic cleanses to maintain my digestive health. I’ve also adopted many parts of an Ayurvedic nutritional plan that is tailored to my own personal constitution, or dosha.
For years now, I’ve had my psoriasis under control. Occasionally, it will still flare up, when the winter gets very cold or I don’t eat right, but it always returns to rest. I haven’t had to worry about the pain, the itching, or the look of flaky skin, as long as I take care of myself.
I feel extremely grateful to Ayurveda. If you haven’t explored Ayurveda yet, I encourage you to consider it, especially if the quality of your skin concerns you. Once understood, the principles are simple and useful, the cleanses feel amazing, and the practice supports an active, mindful lifestyle.
Disclaimer: This article is written from a personal experience. It makes no claims and is not designed to diagnose or treat disease or offer medical advice.
Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!
Ayurvedic Recipes: Broccoli with Peppers and Herbs
What’s in your garden?
Spring is here, and what better way to celebrate than by reaping the benefits of an herb garden!
If you tend towards a vata tummy (gas/bloating) when it comes to broccoli, you’ll be happy to know that the warming herbs and ginger in this recipe will aid in digestion.
The herbs in this recipe have an affinity for helping to balance kapha (earth & water), which is abundant during spring. They are warming and stimulating, diaphoretic, nervine, and they improve memory and relieve depression, congestion, asthma, and insomnia.
You can enjoy plucking this mélange of herbs for the recipe if you do have an herb garden. It’s a great way to connect more deeply to your food and the earth. If you don’t have access to fresh herbs at this time, you may substitute about half the amount of dried herbs for this recipe.
Broccoli with peppers & herbs
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced rosemary
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
- 5 cups broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- mineral salt to taste
- black pepper
- 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of lemon or lime juice
- * Optional – toss in toasted nuts or seeds at the end for added protein.
1. Heat the ghee in a pan. Add the rosemary and ginger and sauté over low heat until the ginger is soft and slightly browned. If you are using dried herbs, sauté them at this time as well.
2. Add the broccoli and bell pepper, sprinkle lightly with salt.
3. Stir, cover, and sauté on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender. You can add a little bit of water to the vegetables if they start to stick to the pan.
4. Turn off the heat, stir in all of the other herbs. Add the lemon or lime juice.
5. Sprinkle with toasted nuts or seeds of your choice.
Serves 4 to 6.
Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!
The Practice: How Yoga Treats Four Common Health Problems
Yoga is an excellent solution for four major public health crises.
Yoga has been proven to reverse osteoporosis (bone loss and fractures) more effectively than the most popular medications used for this condition. It also reduces many other risk factors for fractures. More than 200 people world-wide have osteopenia and osteoporosis. It is easy to learn, extremely safe and inexpensive.
There is a world-wide epidemic, endangering the health and lives of nearly 2/3 of Americans alone. Yoga techniques and life-style is an effective antidote for people of any age, diet and religious background. I have been asked by W.W. Norton to write a book about this, and I’m doing it.
This urban scourge saps the vitality, the mental alertness and joy from millions. It also affects people in crisis, in menopause, people who travel and at some times when people need to be most rested to meet the challenges of the day. Yoga is calming, especially when intrusive thoughts and emotions need to subside. It can even be done in bed to help people fall asleep and stay asleep. I will also be working on a book about this wide-spread problem.
The opioid epidemic is symptomatic of a deeper problem – our cultural and scientific ignorance of pain. From classic times to today, philosophers, scientists and doctors have been reduced to babble on this subject. One-third of medicine is based on pain, yet we have only a childish, ill-defined numeric scale to describe pain. My patients often have a very hard time quantifying their pain. I am currently working with Carnegie Mellon University on a National Institutes of Health grant to create an objective measure of pain. In this study, yoga and artificial intelligence come together in a ground-breaking investigation.
The ancient technique of yoga and its approach to life can come to the aid of our modern troubled world. If you’re a yoga teacher professional, you’re invited to join Loren Fishman for his upcoming healing and teaching reatreat, Yoga vs. Osteoporosis, from May 30th to June 3rd.
Loren Fishman, MD, B. Phil., and author, is one of the few physicians practicing medicine who incorporates yoga into his regular treatment protocols and offers patients individual yoga therapy. He has completed peer-reviewed studies into the efficacy of yoga for medical conditions including osteoporosis, rotator cuff tear, scoliosis, ocular pressure and other conditions.
Exploring Wisdom: Chronic Pain & Yoga – A Physician’s Perspective
Pain is something we all feel at some time in our lives. If we are fortunate, the source of the pain is treated properly, and the pain goes away relatively quickly.
But sometimes, with pain that is difficult to manage, the discomfort can persist for months at a time. In those circumstances, pain comes to be seen as a disease in its own right. And often it can only be managed, not cured.
The true cost of chronic pain
Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined, according to a fact sheet from the US National Institutes of Health. It is the most common reason Americans access the health care system. Pain is the leading cause of disability, and the most common cause of long term disability. It is a major contributor to health care costs.
The National Academy of Medicine estimates that pain affects more than 100 million people and costs $600 billion a year.
Taking all of this information into account, we can guess at the impact pain has on individuals. As French Physician Dr. Albert Schweitzer described it, back in 1931, “Pain is a more terrible lord of mankind than even death itself.”
We know the scale of the problem: the numbers of people involved, and the cost of managing their discomfort.
The question is – can we reduce that terrible toll? Can we, the health provider and the patient, work together to find and deliver a better way of managing chronic pain? I believe we can.
Exploring solutions for chronic pain
In my practice as a family physician, I’ve discovered some low-cost, highly-effective remedies that can improve the lives of people living with chronic pain. These are solutions that I, as a family physician, am happy to share with my patients, and these remedies can be used in addition to the conventional strategies for managing chronic pain.
One of those conventional strategies is the prescription of opioids. Of course,we are all keen to see a reduction in the death toll from the overuse of opioids, but I’m getting ahead of myself. There are also non-opiod medications for chronic pain. First, let’s go back to the root of the problem: pain.
How do we define and manage pain?
Acute pain is the body’s reaction to physical injury, infection or inflammation due to tissue damage. The International Association for Study of Pain, in 1994, defined pain as “unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage”.
In medicine we talk about pathophysiology, a term used to explain the processes within the body that result in the signs and symptoms of a disease.
The pathophysiology of chronic pain is not well understood; nor is the significant impact of pain on the patient, and his or her physical, emotional, social and occupational wellbeing.
These factors, in turn, can have a significant impact on a patient’s ability to overcome chronic pain. The prognosis, the course and probable outcome of the condition, is influenced by many environmental factors: nutrition, social supports, socio-economic status, exposure to drugs and substances, the patient’s state of physical and mental health before the onset of the condition, the patient’s attitude, and even genetics.
The opiod issue
Traditionally, chronic pain is managed by the use of analgesics, physiotherapy, massage therapy, occupational therapy, and psychotherapy.
Opioids have become the mainstay of drug-oriented treatment. Unfortunately, in Canada in 2016, there were 2,800 apparent opioid-related deaths. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, if this trend were to continue, up to 4,000 lives were expected to be lost for the same reason in 2017.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in the US 63,600 deaths were related to opioid overuse in 2016, and the estimate is 66,000 in 2017.
As society, and health providers, we have to do a better job.
And, as health care providers, we are trying. The 2017 Canadian guidelines for managing non-cancer pain lists its number one recommendation as “optimization of non-opioid pharmacotherapy and non-pharmacological therapy, rather than a trial of opioids.”
It is well accepted that conventional management of chronic pain has limited success.
So, let’s explore an option that I know to be highly effective – which can help reduce pain and reliance on pain medications.
How yoga and meditation can help
Yoga and meditation can be helpful in managing not just pain, but also the associated depression and anxiety that comes along with chronic pain. More than that, it can improve cognitive function deficits associated with chronic pain. A recent research done at Stanford University suggests that meditation and breathing practices could be the solution to overcome the opioid crisis.
According to an official of the National Institutes of health, “There is compelling evidence that practicing mind-body techniques such as yoga and meditation can counteract the brain anatomy effects of chronic pain.”
Neuro-imaging studies have shown that chronic pain can reduce gray matter in the brain. Decreased gray matter can lead to memory impairment, emotional problems, and decreased cognitive functioning. The practice of yoga can actually increase gray matter in brain. If we can increase our gray matter, we increase our ability to handle pain.
Yoga practice may provide a protective effect in reducing the burden of depression and anxiety in these patients living with chronic pain.Yoga and meditation practice can also reduce pain sensitivity, leading to patients requiring less pain medication.
Bridging the gap to yoga
Often when I say ‘yoga’, many shy away. They worry that they need to be flexible, agile, and fit to practice yoga. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Yoga practice can be tailored to an individual’s needs. Meditation practice can be taught to anyone willing to learn.
All you need to start yoga or meditation is the willingness to begin; a willingness to try something new. And let’s face it, if you’ve lived with chronic pain for any length of time, you probably know that conventional pain management is not always effective. So, what do you have to lose?
I believe we should be offering to teach yoga and meditation to our chronic pain patients, to improve their quality of life.
These practices are effective, and they can give us a low cost, highly effective way of improving the lives of people living with chronic pain and its associated problems.
A new option for health care providers
What is more heart warming than that now yoga, breathing and meditation practices are widely accepted by the medical community? There are courses where health care providers can learn these powerful ancient healing techniques and earn the Continuous Education Credits too.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Bharti Verma, MA, MD, FCFP
Dr. Bharti Verma is the President of Duffus Health Centre, and has varied experience in all aspects of family medicine, including long-term care, obstetrics, geriatrics, pediatrics, psychotherapy, and counselling. She is also a senior instructor in yoga and meditation with Art of Living Canada, and was Vice-President of AOLF Canada from 2010-2017.
This article first appeared on artofliving.org.
The world needs your voice! Join Dr. Verma and Medha Garud for their upcoming Women’s Wellness Retreat, where you’ll learn to identify and overcome the barriers for reaching your full potential, and approach health, wellness, and womanhood from an Ayurvedic perspective. Learn More Here!
Ayurvedic Recipes: Beet Soup a la Poland
Food blogger and yoga teacher Kasia Fraser specializes in healthy, delicious food with a flair for vegan and raw cuisine. Here Kasia shares a recipe for one of her favourite winter meals – beet soup a la Poland! Beets are a wonderful Ayurvedic winter food, due to their ability to cleanse the liver and rejuvenate the blood.
Beet soup a la Poland
- 2 organic beets with the leaves intact
- 1 organic potato
- 1 organic carrot
- 1 organic parsley root
- 1 small celery root
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger (optional)
- 3 tbsp of olive oil
- half of a lemon, juiced
- fresh dill
- salt and pepper
- Cut all veggies, and cook in the hot water with a bit of salt. Once soft, add olive oil, black pepper, and lemon juice.
- Add chopped beet leaves and turn the heat off. Keep covered for 3-5 minutes.
- Spoon into a bowl, and garnish with fresh dill! Enjoy with a spoonful of vegan yogurt and wheat-free warm toast.
Check out more of Kasia’s amazing recipes at hellodelicious.info!
Wellness, Naturally: 5 Ayurvedic Diet Tips for the New Year
If you’ve ever had a delicious meal at an Indian restaurant, you’ve experienced the healthiest and most balanced method of cooking in the world. Applying Ayurvedic principles to your own diet isn’t at all complicated, but learning to modify your food choices and cooking style requires a basic understanding of the term itself.
Ayurveda, the foundation of wellness in India, is centered in the idea that our bodies are made of five elements: space (akash), air (vayu), fire (tejas), water (ap), and earth (prithvi). At the helm is space, the cosmic space that allows the remaining elements to operate. Balancing the elements through diet and lifestyle can help you achieve greater wellness. Here are five tips to consider as you integrate Ayurveda into your diet.
Eliminate fast food
All too often, the modern American diet subsists on processed foods containing chemicals, fermentation, and oils that negatively affect the natural dietary balance your body needs. Make a commitment to reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates and saturated fats, especially those that come from meat and cheese. Cook with fresh, whole ingredients in your own kitchen instead of grabbing meals to go, ordering pizza or heating frozen entrees loaded with fat and sodium. With less saturated fat and more attention to food combinations that suit your constitution, your body can better extract the nutrients it needs.
Learn the terminology
An Ayurvedic cook knows how to categorize food according to traditional terminology. Learn to speak the language. Besides the elements, you should learn the three mental properties: sattva (curiosity), raja (motivation), and tama (the desire to stop, slow down, and rest). Also learn the three terms for doshas, or body constitutions: vata (air and ether), pitta (fire), and kapha (water and earth). Observe your behavior and determine which dosha or combination of doshas rule your own body and eating behaviour.
Strengthen your prakruti
With the understanding that learning and living an Ayurvedic life takes time, you can begin to strengthen your constitution, or prakruti, by eating foods that remedy your imbalances. For example, if you’re like the many Americans who gravitate towards tamasic foods that make you feel sluggish and slow, a simple change like replacing your frozen breakfast burrito with grains or fresh fruit will encourage mental clarity. As you gradually eat more sattvic foods such as beets, greens, lentils, soybeans, wild rice, and fresh yogurt, your improved mood will help fight colds, fatigue, and other health problems.
Monitor your digestion
The most valuable benefit of eating in the Ayurvedic tradition is an improved and healthier digestive system. Part of your new regimen should be an increased awareness of how you eat. Do you shovel the food in quickly to keep up with a partner who eats at the speed of light? If so, slow down and take your time. Put the fork or chopstick down between bites. Drink water or tea at room temperature (the Ayurvedic tradition shuns icy drinks with meals), and go at your own pace. Also consider the time of day you eat and drink, adjusting mealtimes to reduce hasty eating on the run — no more breakfast in the car on your way to work!
Look for balance in your life. With the basics under your belt, move forward by fine-tuning your diet. Remembering to maintain a primarily sattvic approach, experiment with dosha combinations to balance your moods.
Ask an experienced Ayurvedic cook for help and guidance in learning how to pronounce the terms, and determine why your habits are steering you toward a particular direction. With focus and dedication, you’ll soon see why Ayurvedic cooking as outlasted every food fad on earth. Namaste!
Art of Living Journeys: Peggy’s New Chapter
Peggy, a recent Art of Living Retreat Center retreat guest, shares her thoughts on learning how to bring Ayurveda home for a happy, healthy new chapter in her life.
I recently retired, and so there I was going through a transition in my life, and I thought, ‘well, this would be a good opportunity to have a little introspection and relax and move on to the next phase.’ I came to the Art of Living Retreat Center because I knew that it would be very relaxing and refreshing.
I knew a little bit about what it would be like, but I’ve never done a program like this, where you’re eating all the right things, doing yoga in the morning, and practicing kriya. It’s just a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the lifestyle. It’s definitely exceeded my expectations, particularly in how much I learned. I didn’t know I would learn so much that I could take home with me!
The treatments were incredible, and I was really impressed. The therapists are not only healers, but teachers as well. The treatments were peaceful, and I really felt that the therapists, while silent, were still showing me how I could carry on with them after I leave.
I’ve done some reading and research into Ayurveda, and I’ve tried to adapt it into my life, but having a real person to guide me through the practical ways in which to utilize Ayurvedic principles is so helpful.
For example, I learned a lot about abhyanga and doshas. I was familiar with the concepts of both, but I always found them to be a little overwhelming. There was so much written theory surrounding the concepts, but going through the daily treatments, meditation, and education, I felt that I really absorbed the knowledge and that I can actually go home and continue the practice.
I worked very hard for 35 years, and this was a welcome relief. With the abhyanga oil treatments, I haven’t washed my hair in days, and it’s so much softer. I learned how to take care of myself better on a daily basis, how simple it can be. I look better than I did a week ago!
Ayurvedic Recipes: Summer Green Bean Salad
Warm late-summer days are perfect for enjoying the bounty of the season. A fresh summer salad is a great way to take advantage of the wonderful flavor and nutritional value of in-season vegetables, including an Ayurvedic favourite – green beans.
Regardless of your body type, or dosha, this salad is a delicious delight that will help you balance the effects of the season.
Although most beans are harder for Vata to digest, green beans are one of the exceptions to the rule. This green bean salad, with sauteed squash and red onion, is especially balancing for Vata.
Pitta may be extra aggravated during the summer months, so it’s best to introduce more hydrating and cooling foods. Salads are a summer necessity for Pitta.
Kapha is balanced by cooked, whole foods that are lighter and drier in texture. These foods are ideally served warm or hot. For a summer salad, room temperature or slightly warm cooked whole grains mixed with fresh vegetables are best for Kapha digestion.
Green Bean Salad
- 1 cup of green beans, trimmed
- 1/2 cup red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup yellow summer squash, chopped
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Optional: 1/4 cup crumbled goat’s milk cheese or chevre
- 1 tsp dijon mustard or brown mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 handful fresh cilantro, minced
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 each salt and black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add green beans and boil for 3 minutes, or until slightly tender. The green beans should still have a light crunch.
- While green beans are cooking, fill a mixing bowl with ice water. When the green beans are done cooking, fill a mixing bowl with ice water. When the green beans are done cooking, drain thoroughly and immediately add to the ice water to shop the cooking process. Drain in a colander. Pat dry and set aside.
- To make a vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients together, adding the olive oil last. Set aside.
- Heat a teaspoon of oil in a saute pan on medium heat.
- Add red onion and cook until just tender and slightly translucent. Add yellow squash and cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Take squash mixture off heat and add to green beans. Stir all the vegetables together and add the vinaigrette.
- Serve topped with crumbled goat cheese.
For Pitta: Replace the cooked squash and onions with fresh chopped and seeded cucumber. Replace cilantro with mint for extra cooling
For Kapha: Add 1 cup cooked room temperature couscous. For easy couscous, pour 1/2 cup couscous into 3/4 cup boiling water, stir once with a spoon, cover with a lid, and remove from heat. Wait 10 minutes, and then fluff couscous with a fork. Let cool before mixing into the salad.