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The Mysterious Ashtanga Oil Bath

17 Sep

It’s Saturday and it’s a Moon Day and that means as an aspiring Ashtangi I get to sleep in, rest, and attempt to perform an Ashtanga Oil Bath. I will admit, I have been avoiding this…probably because it means that I am taking this Ashtanga “experiment” very seriously. I also had a very bad experience with hot oil treatments when I was a teenager–I ruined my hair before my confirmation party and had a meltdown of epic proportions which in retrospect was *hilarious*. I looked like an extra from the set of Grease, and I’m not talking one of the Pink Lady extras, either.

I used almond oil instead of Castor Oil, especially since the drains in our house are already a little wonky. I started with my head and really massaged the oil in well. I have really long hair, so this took quite awhile. I’ve read that you should only leave the oil on your head for about 5 minutes the first time. It’s suggested that you slowly increase the time to up to two hours over the course of six months or so.

After 5 minutes I greased the rest of my body up, following the suggested instructions to massage any of the areas where you have pain in particular. That would be everywhere, so there was a lot of rubbing going on! I could NOT believe how much oil my skin sucked in! It was crazy. I used up more than half a bottle!

I left the oil on my body for a little over 5 minutes, not including the time it took to massage it in. I chilled out on the bathroom floor on an old towel. Then I started to feel really nauseous! I was very shocked by this, as I’ve slathered myself in oil a million and one times–I live in Las Vegas for chrissakes. It was very odd. I hopped in the shower and it wasn’t that hard to get all of the oil off with my regular shampoo and good old Chandrika soap.

courtesy of veggiefitness.wordpress.com—check them out!

Unfortunately, the nausea continued for a while even after I was lying down in bed. I grabbed some crystallized ginger and rode it out. Quite odd. Obviously, there was something going on here so I will be trying the oil bath again when I get back from my trade show in Baltimore. I don’t want to chance taking a oil bath and then having to work the trade show sales floor while I’m sick as a dog!

I know that oil baths are used as a treatment in Ayurveda (especially for Vata dosha), but I’ve always been hesitant to take one because of my Kaphic ways. Oil baths are supposed to be excellent for dissolving ama, excess gnarly toxins. Kapha doshas can use mustard oil, but I don’t even know where the holy heck one finds mustard oil. Traditionally, the oil is “cured” before it is used. Curing basically involves heating the oil on a stove on a very low heat for about 15 minutes. I did not do this step, but I think I will next time. I found this lovely paragraph on Banyan Botanicals website:

“The Sanskrit word sneha can be translated as both “oil” and “love”. It is believed that the effects of abhyanga are similar to those received when one is saturated with love. Like the experience of being loved, abhyanga can give a deep feeling of stability and warmth. Sneha is subtle; this allows the oil/love to pass through minute channels in the body and penetrate deep layers of tissue.” 

Oil=love. Don’t tell that to the Engine2 or Forks Over Knives people!

Any of you more experienced Ashtangis have any particularly interesting oil bath stories? I am very curious about this as far as long term effects, or lack thereof.

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Acid Reflux and Ayurveda: Pitta Party

15 Sep

When I was in my 30’s and drinking like a fish with a death wish, I had HORRIBLE acid reflux. My alternative doc sent me home with Mastic Gum capsules, probiotics and DGL lozenges and it worked like a charm. Behold, Pistacia lentiscus AKA the Mastic tree (thanks, wackipedia!):

I actually can’t remember the last time I had reflux, but I have many friends who struggle with this. I was curious about what Ayurveda would have to say about acid reflux, so here are some links and videos if you are interested. Of course, I am not a doctor; I’m just a very curious layperson who loves Ayurveda and who happens to do a lot of nutrition-related research for a living at my day job. I don’t advocate any particular kind of treatment, but information is always helpful. And where else will you get Ayurveda, health and heavy metal in the same blog? Freaking nowhere, man!

Dr. Partap Chauhan on acid reflux–a little more nuanced discussion of the possible combinations of problems that cause acid reflux and dosha imbalances. The first part is cheesy, but the good stuff comes starts at 1:10 :

Simple Ayurvedic home remedies for reflux–I’m a (shhh don’t tell anyone) vegan, so I can’t vouch for the milk cure. However, I bet you could just substitute almond milk for all of you Pittas out there:

John Doulliard, MD and Ayurvedic practitioner, with a few videos on acid reflux and digestive imbalances. He has some good books about Ayurveda (including co-author of The Yoga Body Diet). He also has a few DVD’s about Ayurveda for Gaiam that are simple and straightforward:

Vasant Lad has a PDF document that talks about food combining from an Ayurvedic perspective; there’s all kinds of helpful things on this page: http://www.ayurveda.com/online_resource/index.html

Tapas: I do not think it means what you think it means

6 Sep

Tapas. In Spanish, it means fun, little, yummy meals–frequently involving pork products. In Vegas, people frequently mistake it for “topless” (of course). In Sanskrit, it means the fires of hell!!! OK, “heat” and purification—I’m so dramatic. Quote from Kino MacGregor on tapas, yoga and healing injuries:

“It is not the physicality of hatha yoga that transforms, but the state of presence cultivated by a conscious effort to heal the body and train the mind that heals. It is actually higher awareness itself that brings about great changes in practitioners’ experience of reality. One of the biggest challenges along the road to the discovery of presence is pain and injury. Paradoxically every yoga practitioner owes a debt of gratitude to each injured body part and all the accompanying emotions brought up. Most people, me included, have relatively strong egoic minds and need to be pushed to the precipice before they are ready to change. According to the Sanskrit “tapas” that defines accepting pain as help for purification, yoga defines pain as your teacher, but not in the most obvious way. It is not enough to feel pain and push through; actually pushing through some types of pain is pure insanity. Instead pain is your teacher on a much deeper level that forces you to dig deep into the heart of yoga.”

Since I am thinking about tapas in terms of food (as usual) lately, I happened to stumble across some David Garrigues youtube videos on food this weekend. This was the one I found to be the most interesting/disturbing:

Interesting points from this David Garrigues video:

“Some people are humbled immediately {by practice} and it feels awful” (that would be me)

“You feel like you are battling against something…and that’s when you have to start refining it and looking at all the possibilities…to look at your diet and to reign it in and look at it, that’s an avenue of progress…start looking and seeing where the junk is…and those you start eliminating…it’s actually not that much of an experiment. It’s a reduction, a reigning in, it’s just like the other forms of tapas.”

“If you take up yoga practice and you continue to eat bad food, you won’t make progress. You won’t.”

I am torn on this one. On one hand, I know he’s (partially) right. Much of this is in line with the Ayurvedic principles that have worked so well for me, especially the lighter meals at the end of the day for Kapha peeps. On the other hand, part of me is screaming, ” noooooo f@&k that, no way, hell to the no!!!”  No food is really “bad” or “good”…I can’t handle the making food a moral issue thing. And the idea of finding “legitimate”, yogic reasons to starve myself? No bueno. Been there, done that. My yoga practice is about healing, not furthering my ED. The Wicked Stepmother (or Eating Disorder Bitch Voice, if I am in a saltier mood) started perking up after watching this so I had to check myself before I wrecked myself. Take what I need and leave the rest.

The take home message? Something is rotten in Denmark right now. I am disturbed, and it is definitely something going on with me. In the past, I’ve had drinking dreams or bingeing dreams or even running dreams when I am really stressed. I’ve had dreams twice this week about gorging on monstrous, Alice-in-Wonderland sized cakes and washing it down with gallons of beer.

From bigfatcook.com, I kid you not

My weight is stagnant, my practice is stagnant, I am so tired and lethargic and I just want to eat everything that is not nailed down. My body feels unhappy and stuck. Kapha derangement, anyone? If I am honest with myself, my weight is not just stagnant it is trending up. There’s lots of vegan convenience foods sneaking in lately, and I want to eat nuts or nut butters with every single meal. And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee with coconut milk, and coconut milk is a no-no for Kapha dosha. “But Jillian Michaels drinks it!” whines my inner rule breaking, I-want-my-damn-coconut-milk voice.

I am not Jillian Michaels. I am a 42 year old, injured Ashtanga practitioner who happens to be vegan, in recovery from addiction/eating disorders, hypothyroid and sits at a desk researching crazy shit about methylfolate, schizandrins and phosphatidylserine all day. I don’t really need the coconut milk every single day, several times a day. And hello, I’ve been going through like 4 containers a week by myself. There’s plenty of other things to eat that would make my body much happier. It’s time to reign it in and look at the possibilities. As an experiment. The concept of eating to properly fuel my practice is new to me. Food has always been either a reward or a punishment; a drug or a curse.  But with this being said, I have to walk the line of the Middle Way and not get too crazy and go into Restriction Land.

In any case, the only kind of tapas going on over here these days are the tapas that make me blinded by sweat during downward facing dog, not the tapas that consist of bacon-wrapped dates and marcona almonds.

Engine 2 Snack Attack: White Bean Artichoke Dip Recipe

5 Aug

 

I’ve been trying some new snack ideas out lately. When healthy, plant-based eating starts to seem very boring and complicated, it makes me feel trapped and restricted. And then the evil little voice in my head tells me to go get vegan chocolate chip cookies and vegan mac ‘n’ cheese from Red Velvet Cafe because who is going to know? *I* will know, and my body will know when I feel like I have cement in my stomach when I am on my yoga mat. Not worth it! I know that many diet gurus (and even Ayurveda!) will tell you that snacking is bad when you are trying to lose weight. I’ve tried it both ways, and I stick to what my Eating Disorders Specialist Registered Dietitian told me and I have my snacks. Otherwise, I am an angry hungry vegan and I want to ATTACK. End of story.

Clearly, the ideal snacks are fresh fruits and veggies. Sometimes that is exactly what I want, and sometimes it seems like The Ghost Of Bad Dieting Past is visiting me and shoving carrot sticks in my face. No bueno. Since this is all about progress, not perfection, I need to have alternate snacks to nosh on when I am in the mood for something more substantial.

Here’s my new snack action—take it for what it’s worth!

1. Edward and Sons Rice Crackers

I hate rice cakes. They make me think of dieting and starving and they make me mad. These are, well, technically similar to rice cakes but very crunchy and with flavor. There are several different kinds—some are vegan and some aren’t, so read the labels. Also, some have oil and some don’t. I mainly buy the Tamari Sesame and the Tamari Seaweed. These are the same people who make the Chreeze sauce that I mentioned in my E2 cheese post. I think these might be mentioned in the E2 book as well.

2. Oskri Quinoa Bars

Due to the sesame seed content, this is one of those things that skirts the line as far as E2 is concerned. But there’s no added oil, and they are sweetened with brown rice syrup and date syrup. And they are sooooo crunchy! Yum! I’ve been experimenting with making homemade “granola” bars without oil and refined sugars, but my experiments have either been awful or waaaay too tasty. I like things to be in the middle: tasty enough that I am not pissed off that I have to eat this crap but not so tasty that I want to eat the entire batch, now. Until I can find the perfect recipe, I have these very crunchy Oskri bars. I usually eat them with an apple or a glass of unsweetened almond milk and they hit the spot.

3. Zen Bakery Peanut Butter Carob Chip Cookies

I get these in the refrigerated bakery section of my favorite Whole Foods. They are more like a severely healthy muffin than a cookie, honestly. But they taste good and fill me up, especially if I have a long time between when I leave work and dinner. I like to warm them up and have them with almond milk. And anything Zen is always A-OK with me!

4. La Reina Baked Tortilla Chips with Salsa and/or Vegan Queso

From http://www.thehealthyvegans.com, very cool oil-free plant-based eating website!

La Reina is the only tortilla chip that I can find that does not use oil. Guiltless Gourmet has started using oil so I leave those alone now—they used to be my old stand by. I don’t eat this very frequently since my body doesn’t like corn (no matter what Ayurveda says about it being good for Kapha dosha) but when I do, I really enjoy it. If you are not able to get this where you live, you can bake your own chips at home. Set oven at 350 degrees and put the tortillas directly on the rack. You have to flip them several times until they are crispy. I can never remember exactly how long it takes! Probably depends on your oven.

5.  White Bean Artichoke Dip

I really get sick of hummus really fast. When I first started exploring vegetarian eating in the late 80’s, early 90’s, that was frequently all there was to eat. Hummus and lentils. Lentils and hummus. Hummus with a side of lentils and…rice cakes! Needless to say, I still sometimes associate hummus with deprivation and struggle. And I just can’t be down with the new Cedar’s fat free hummus. It tastes like…beany snot. Sorry. So I came up with this instead, and for some reason I like it much, much more.

Mo’s Engine 2 White Bean Artichoke Dip 

Ingredients:

1 can drained, rinsed Cannelini beans

1 can drained, rinsed Artichoke hearts (set aside the water to use to thin the dip)

1 lemon

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tsp salt

1 dash cayenne pepper

Instructions:

Put everything in the Vitamix or food processor except for the artichoke water and the lemon. Squeeze the lemon (really get all of that juice out) into the mixture and then blend until it’s smooth. If you’re really motivated, you can add some grated lemon zest, too. Use the artichoke water to thin the dip as needed. Chill overnight to let the flavors marry and then eat up! Great with crackers, tortilla chips or (gasp) veggies. I had it last night with celery sticks as a side for my veggie burger.

6. Amande Almond Milk Yogurt

From the amandeyogurt.com website.

I think I heard Rip mention these when I heard him speak here in Vegas. These are almond milk yogurts that are sweetened with fruit juice instead of refined sugar. I have a serious problem with refined sugar (it makes me act like a junkie) so I avoid it. It also makes PCOS way, way worse. It is not my friend.

Happy E2 snacking!

Semi-Ayurvedic Saturday: Dosas, Dahl, and Shahid Kapoor

3 Jun

First of all, Anjum Anand is fricking HOT. Like scorching, middle of the Las Vegas Summer hot. Damn. Nigella’s got nothin’ on Anjum. That’s honestly the reason I picked up this book! I know, I’m sin verguenza. I can hear my abuela’s disapproving voice right now!

Anjum’s Eat Right For Your Body Type has nothing to do with the Blood Type Diet (I plead the Fifth on that one) and everything to do with a layman-friendly version of Ayurveda. I enjoyed the pithy explanations, the sections on detox and weight loss and the aesthetics of the book itself. Warning to my veg readers: I do believe this contains some recipes that use meat and dairy, which I of course just ignored. But I am eating a yummy veganized bowl of her Mung Bean detox soup RIGHT NOW:

Adapted from Anjum’s book, here’s an adjusted, vegan-and-Kapha-friendly version of her Mung Bean Detox Soup:

  • 1/2 cup green Mung Beans
  • 4 cups water or veggie broth
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

Soak the Mung beans for a minimum of 4 hours in enough water to cover them up. If you can soak them overnight, it’s only better for your digestion. If beans tend to make you, um, vata-d out, soak them with a piece of kombu seaweed or some sorrel (both reduce gassiness). Discard the water after you’re done soaking and rinse the beans well. Bring the water or broth and beans to a boil, then reduce heat and cook them for about 35 minutes on a low simmer.

Assemble your spices if you want to make this Ayurvedically by simmering the spices in some oil (see explanation below). If you E2’rs out there want to avoid oil, you can add the spices by themselves into the soup at the very end. Usually about 5-10 minutes before the soup is done seems to work well.

For Kapha dosha:

On very, very low heat simmer the following for about two to five minutes. Since we are not using Ghee, which has a really high smoke point, you have to be careful. You can get away with five if you use coconut  (higher smoke point), but straight EB will burn so be careful. Once you’ve simmered it, add it to the soup and cook the soup for another 5-10 minutes before serving (that’s a total of 40-45 minutes cooking time).  This is one of the few times I would suggest sticking to the amounts suggested for the spices exactly. It’s really easy to make this taste terrible if you overpower one spice with another.

  • 1 tbs Earth Balance (my vegan answer to Ghee!), or coconut oil, or Earth Balance coconut spread
  • 1/4 tsp Hing
  • 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder

If you’d like, you can add some finely chopped up veggies to this like cauliflower, chopped green beans, kale or any other Kapha-friendly veggies. I suggest steaming them lightly and then adding them to the oil and spice blend.

Once you’ve simmered the oil blend and/or veggies for the allotted time it, add it to the soup and cook the soup for another 5-10 minutes before serving.  Top it off with 2 rounded tablespoons of minced, fresh cilantro and add 1/2 tsp. salt (optional—I need it, but not E2 compliant).

I also finally got my hands on some Trader Joe’s Masala Dosas. It was like finding the Holy Grail. I had to go to three Trader Joe’s here in Vegas before I found them, but they were totally worth it> Not E2 compliant and probably not good for me Ayurvedically, but Frankly, I don’t give a f@ck. It’s not like I’m eating a bag of Cheetos:

As promised, the cooking oil method explanation–obviously since I am a vegan I don’t eat ghee, but many Yogis do:

“According to ayurveda, the best way to cook vegetables is to sauté them in ghee with spices. By first sautéing the spices in ghee the volatile oils of the spices are drawn out into the Ghee. These spices have therapeutic value. Turmeric, for example, has been found to be an antioxidant, and other spices such as cumin and coriander help with digestion and assimilation. The spices cook into the vegetables and act as carriers, transferring nutrition from the vegetables into the bloodstream as we consume them. They also make the food taste aromatic and delicious.

First gently fry the spices in the ghee, taking care not to burn them. Add the chopped raw vegetables to the spice mixture and stir so that all the spices are mixed with the vegetables. Add a couple of spoonfuls of water to prevent sticking. Cover and cook on low heat until the vegetables are well cooked. Not mushy, but just “fork friendly”. Add salt to taste at the end and some fresh cilantro leaves for garnish.

Ghee is considered a beneficial oil in ayurveda. According to traditional ayurvedic texts, it is a rasayana, good for overall well-being and longevity. Modern research shows that it is an antioxidant and contains beta-carotene. Since the milk solids have been removed, ghee does not spoil easily like vegetable oils do. If you are on a weight loss program, limit your intake of ghee or oil to judicious amounts.” From the Maharishi Ayurveda website, http://www.mapi.com/ayurveda_health_care/newsletters/ayurvedic_cooking.html 

The mapi.com website has lots of easy to understand information about Ayurveda, and they sell some great products like Kapha, Pitta and Vata tea as well as Raja’s Cup. I used to be able to get all of that at my local Whole Foods when I lived in Florida, but I haven’t seen any of it in retail stores since I moved to Vegas, which makes me sad.

And to close my post with some more hotness (and because this delicious food is best eaten with a great movie), I give you my absolute favorite Bollywood leading man—also a Pisces and a vegetarian. My dream man, Shahid Kapoor:

Off I go to work my way through the rest of his movie back catalogue!

Engine 2 Diet and Ayurveda

28 May

From http://www.eattasteheal.com, an Ayurvedic guidebook and cookbook for modern living

I’ve been experimenting with Ayurveda for a few weeks now as far as my diet is concerned. We are working on some new Ayurvedic products at my job and I’m doing a lot of the research for our formulator, which I am thoroughly enjoying. The more reading I do, the more I’ve realized that to a certain degree it makes sense that the Engine 2 diet would work as a food plan for me. Engine 2 in many ways is a Kapha-pacifying diet. People with a Kapha constitution are naturally slow, stable, tend to gain weight easily and are more “cold and damp”—all qualities of Earth and Water. Anything that amplifies this cold, slow, damp sludginess is going to increase Kapha, which will through Kapha types more out of whack. The things Engine 2 eliminates are classically the things I should avoid as someone with a more Kapha constitution or a Kapha imbalance (which happens when you are overweight):

  • no meat, no dairy—all plants
  • no oils, reduce or eliminate avocado and olives
  • limited nuts and seeds, raw or dry roasted only. If you have trouble losing weight, eliminate them completely
  • avoid coconut-based products because of the fat content (in Ayurveda, they are very cooling and heavy, which is a bad scene for Kapha dosha)
  • the recipes are for a lot of lightly cooked foods and some of them are quite spicy (which is good for pacifying Kapha)
  • include bitter greens like kale as much as possible, LOTS of veggies
  • does not recommend smoothies or juices because they spike your insulin and don’t fill you up
  • not many sweets except for cooked fruit dishes
  • eat actual food– no processed crap, eat when hungry until you are full
  • limit tofu and tempeh, limit fake meats
  • the meal plan itself is for 3 meals, but if you want snacks they are all dry for the most part:  baked tortilla chips, rice cakes, fruit like apples and berries.
  • no coffee, which I of course totally ignore.  I wish I had a copy of the E2 right now so I could remember why, but I’m sure it’s for the obvious slanderous reasons: raises blood pressure, can stimulate or reduce appetite too much for some people, stresses the adrenals, causes cravings for dairy and sugar for some people, dehydrating, addictive, etc.  Kapha is the only dosha who can handle coffee, but it is not recommended in most Ayurvedic texts. Whatevs, I’m drinking coffee RIGHT NOW.

I have developed this salad aversion in the last year, which makes me laugh because I used to live on salad, yogurt, iced coffee, diet soda, Amstel light beer and fruit when I lived in Florida (all of which are awful for someone who has a Kapha imbalance and is a predominantly Kapha constitution to begin with). My acupuncture physician used to yell at me about it! I do love the places where Ayurveda and TCM overlap, but that is a story for many separate posts.

Engine 2 could definitely be easily modified for all three doshas . Just some slight tweaks might make a big difference in how someone feels on the plan and how successful they are at getting back into a healthy balance for their body. None of this is medical advice, obviously. I am not a doctor and I don’t even freaking play one on TV! I actually discussed my vegan/E2 eating plan with my endocrinologist, and he is very happy with it and extremely supportive. I get regular bloodwork done, and I would suggest that to anyone who wants to be their own best health advocate.

Kapha types:

  • totally eliminate seeds and nuts. If you want to eat one or the other, go for seeds in very limited quantities.
  • emphasize rigorous physical exercise, like Ashtanga (yeah!), hiking, running, cross-training, boot camp: you know the drill. Ironically, all of the Biggest Loser workouts are perfect for Kapha doshas or people with a Kapha imbalance. For Pitta and Vatas, they would be a nightmare. The Pittas are the ones on Biggest Loser who are always competitive and fighting and angry, and the Vatas are the ones having meltdowns every five minutes and always talking to the camera. The Kaphas are looking half asleep, depressed and trying to hide/mother everyone, but have the best endurance and can lift heavy things.
  • no sweets except for fruits. I feel your pain.
  • ditch the cold food completely, except in really hot weather.
  • try non-fat soy milk instead of almond or rice, unless you are hypothyroid like me. Unsweetened almond milk works well for us Hashimoto/hypo types. Poor thyroid challenged Kaphas!
  • stay away from soy or almond yogurt
  • stick to the more Kapha-pacifying, astringent  fruits: apples, pears, berries. Avoid melons, tropical fruit and citrus.
  • three meals a day is great for Kapha. Don’t snack continuously—it sludges up the works for us Kapha types.
  • hot teas and hot water with lemon between meals helps Kapha.
  • do not give in to the urge to eat tofu and tempeh like they are going out of style (ooooh I hate this part!). Lean toward tempeh or steamed edamame, but other cooked beans are better for Kaphas.
  • avoid or eliminate wheat (hate this part too). Ezekiel bread or non-wheat breads or no bread at all would be a better choice.

Pitta types:

  • avoid the vinegar-based E2 salad dressings: way too sour for Pitta. Stick to creamier nut or seed based dressings in moderation
  • Pittas can eat more nuts and seeds than Kapha dosha (lucky bitches!) due to their increased digestive “fire”, but don’t get too crazy
  • Pitta needs sweetness to balance out hotness and sourness, so eat sweet fruits and avoid the sour ones like grapefruit or any unripe fruits
  • avocado is A-OK for Pitta dosha
  • stay away from hot spices, like cayenne, black pepper, chili peppers. Avoid spicy Mexican food like the plague
  • eat regular meals and snacks to stay calm, cool and balanced
  • chill out on the hot beverages
  • avoid too many tomato based sauces in the E2 recipes–that will definitely irritate Pitta.
  • do cooling exercises, like swimming. Winter sports are awesome for Pitta. Ski and snowboard away, Pittas. Bikram yoga is possibly the worst thing ever for Pittas. You will want to die and stab someone all at the same time. Avoid at all costs!

For Vata types:

  • out of all three doshas, Vatas need the most fat. Make sure to eat adequate amounts of nuts, seeds avocados.
  • Vata is also a cool dosha like Kapha, but it is cool as well as dry. Try to take it easy on salads or even eliminate completely, as they are hard to digest for Vatas. Stick to lightly cooked or warm foods. “Creamy” soups (use those cashews!) are great for Vatas.
  • Vata dosha types make the WORST raw foodists ever—it aggravates Vata severely.
  • Avoid sprouts, cabbage and any veggies that causes gas attacks. Vatas are gassy by nature in the first place, as they are the “air” dominant dosha. Most beans will make Vata really gassy, so they get the green light on tofu and mung dahl which should be easier for you to digest. If  Vata doshas want to eat beans (which they will, as this is a vegan plan!), soak them for a minimum of eight hours and cook them thoroughly with kombu or sorrel to help reduce gas.
  • Sweet foods in moderation are helpful for reducing Vata. Cooked fruit and grain desserts make Vatas happy!
  • “Milks” pacify Vatas, so be happy with all of the nut, seed and grain milks. Try not to drink them ice cold. Warm, decaf rooibos chais with some agave or brown rice syrup would be excellent for Vatas.
  • Vatas need the most soothing exercise regimen of all of the doshas. Vatas are excellent dancers and natural yogis, but should avoid anything too strenuous or over-stimulating. Tai Chi is great for Vatas.

My friends who have had challenges with Engine 2 are all either Pitta-dominant or Vata-dominiant as far as their constitutions, but still have weight to lose. My Pitta-dominant friend has instinctively started including some more cooling foods. She’s *obsessed* with vegetable juices, especially the really cooling ones, and has been eating more salads. She naturally started reducing her coffee (which way aggravates Pitta dosha) and when she drinks it she usually has it iced with almond milk and agave.  She is figuring out how to make it work for her without even knowing about Ayurvedic principles!

Since I’ve been on a diet or had an active eating disorder for most of my freaking adult life, I am hardwired to eat “diet” foods, some of which are downright awful for Kaphas or anyone with an active Pitta subtype. Instinctively, I have developed this salad aversion in the last year. This  makes me laugh because I used to live on salad, cold tofu, yogurt, iced coffee, diet soda, amstel light beer and tropical fruit when I lived in Florida (all of which are awful for someone who has is a predominantly Kapha constitution with a Pitta subtype). My acupuncture physician used to yell at me about it! I do love the places where Ayurveda and TCM overlap, but that is a story for many separate posts.

 

Still Not A Morning Person

23 May

I stumbled across this little video on Youtube talking about a study that analyzed the differences between the personalities of morning people and “evening” people. Apparently I am independent, non-conformist, creative, and have problems with authority. No, really? You don’t say? You know what else I am—really freaking tired out of my skull when it’s 5 am and I am staring at my yoga mat.

I’ve been plugging away at the early morning Ashtanga  practice, and man—I’m sorry to say it, but it’s wretched! I need to get up at 4:30am if I want to have enough time to practice, eat breakfast, meditate and shower before work.  Not only am I stiff as heck that early in the morning, I am just half dead no matter what time I go to bed the night before. It takes me like 3 or 4 hours to really wake up in the morning: classic kapha dosha, baby. I also have horrific allergies at this time of year, so half of my morning practice is spent sneezing, blowing my nose and choking on my own phlegm (more kapha). Sexy! My ego likes the discipline of getting up every morning at 4:30am and being “hardcore” and “dedicated” to my practice; my body loathes and despises it. Last time I checked, yoga was not about waging an internal war with myself. Although I want to practice the traditional Ashtanga method as much as possible, I think my body may not be along for that ride despite my new-found strong desire to respect and honor the teachings of Guruji. I went back to afternoon Ashtanga practice this week and I am having fun with my practice again. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still really hard but I can breathe, so I am happy. I only sneezed once today, which was awesome. My little Slayer Shala is on the first floor of my house, and we don’t use the air on the first floor during the summer. It was 104 today here in Vegas, so I am enjoying the extra heat quite a bit since I am perpetually cold.

Learning to love and be kind to myself–practicing ahimsa in all of my affairs–means being willing to do what’s best for me.  Sometimes, that may mean going against the grain. Our whole society is set up for morning people. I have had it drilled into me for my entire life by my mother that I am lazy and undisciplined because I am not a morning person. I am not a lazy person, period. When my parents started going through financial difficulties when I was 15, I worked two jobs in high school and paid my own private school high school tuition so that I could go to a good school. I would sleep a maximum of three hours a night so I could study and still work and take care of my baby brother after school. I was the first person to graduate from college in my family, and I paid for it through scholarship money, loans and working three jobs. Then I worked two jobs once I got out of school. Later, I worked full-time while putting myself through nursing school (we were actually not supposed to work, period). I used to run 3 miles a day and then turn around and go straight to a Bikram class…while in nursing school! Currently I have not one, not two, but four different positions at the small company I work for. So yeah, I think I’m not so lazy. But I am NOT a morning person, and it’s OK. I’m a phlegmy, sleepy, anti-authoritarian, rebellious, independent, hardworking, very cold, night person. Maybe someday I will wake up and suddenly be a morning person, but somehow I doubt it, just like I doubt that I will wake up and suddenly be blonde and blue-eyed. Hey, I think I deserve a cookie for managing to drag myself out of bed at 6 or 7am most days.

I keep thinking of something I read on David Williams’ website:

“First, and foremost, I hope you can learn from me that in your practice, “If it hurts, you are doing it wrong.” Through the years, I have observed that too many people are hurting themselves and hurting others. Yoga practice can be (and should be) pleasant from the beginning to the end. What is important is the mulabandha and deep breathing. With daily practice, it is inevitable that one will become more flexible…I want to show each of you how you can do the Ashtanga Yoga series in a lifelong practice that is a totally pleasant experience. I suspect that when you first saw the practice, you said to yourself, “If I did this, it would be great for me!” So, here you are–you have observed the practice, and you want to continue it. The key is being able to continue practicing Yoga for the rest of your life. From over 30 years of observing thousands of people practicing Yoga, I have realized that those who continue are the ones who are able to figure out how to make it enjoyable. They look forward to their daily practice and nothing can keep them from finding the time to do it. It becomes one of the most pleasant parts of their day. The others, consciously, subconsciously, or unconsciously, quit practicing. It is my goal to do everything I can to inspire you to establish your Yoga practice not just for the few days we are together, but for the rest of your life.”

 

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