Ayurveda

STAYING FIT ON VACATION

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You've heard me say it before and I'll say it again. We're #adult enough to know that it's not healthy or fun to lose sight of our wellness goals when we go away on vacation. Being hungover, exhausted, bloated and being off schedule ain't fun. Why would we put ourselves through feeling like crap during a time meant for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation? In this age of wellness and travel (basically Instagram's M.O.) there are so many tools available to stay on track while we're away from home. I'm sharing a few of my favorites tips and tricks. Check it out.

Let's Begin with the Obvious: Working Out

This is the most straight-forward way to stay fit. Wake up early and take a yoga class at your hotel or local yoga studio. When I was in Aruba I asked my hotel concierge where I could take a yoga class and the next morning you bet my bum was doing down dog on the beach. The next day, I was in the ocean practicing stand up paddle board yoga (SUP yoga). My hotel had a gym but I didn't bring workout sneaks. Thank goodness all you need is your body (and maybe some clothes) for yoga! If there's a gym in your hotel, get at least 20 minutes of working out in before breakfast. You'll feel energized all day and you can eat that gelato after dinner guilt-free. 

Workout apps!

There are so many low-cost and free workout apps in the iOS and Android-sphere. Even the membership-based ones (which tend to be the best) have free week-long trials. Check out Pear, Workout Trainer, Nike +, Jetfit, Daily Burn and more. You don't even need equipment for most of these which is a huge plus.

 Arthur got a hold of some sweet teeth at the toy store. Once you see it you can't unsee it..

Arthur got a hold of some sweet teeth at the toy store. Once you see it you can't unsee it..

WALK OR BIKE

Depending on where you travel you can either take the lazy route or the healthy route. If you're going to an island, take a few walks up and down the shore throughout the day instead of being a 100% beach bum. If you're visiting a major city like Paris, Barcelona, or London I recommend taking a Fat Tire Bike Tour (my favorite company) on Day 1 or 2. It's the absolute best way to see a city. Most tours have a guide in the front, middle, and back so you can feel totally safe. Bike tours are great because you can stop for photo ops at any moment - WAY better than a hop on hop off tour. I used to go on those as a kid and would ALWAYS fall asleep on the bus, miss the scenery, and be sleepy once we were hopping off at our destination. My mom still teases me when she tells stories about churches we've visited. She says, "Remember Saint-Étienne-du-Mont in Paris? You know, the church you fell asleep at?". MOM!!!

If biking ain't yo thang there are tons of walking tours in each city. My favorite kind of walking tour is a food/walking tour. Obviously. When Arthur and I were in Barcelona we went on a Tapas, Taverns, and History tour which included food, drinks, history, and walking. The best of both worlds in my opinion. Do your research on TripAdvisor and find something that suits your style. The big plus of staying in a major city is that you can walk everywhere! We hit an average of 15,000-20,000 steps a day (experts recommend 10,000 steps per day) without blinking an eye and still managed to use the taxi system quite a bit. There are trains and buses in a lot of cities but sometimes the whole ticketing system intimidates me out of using it. I save money and I gain a tight butt. It's a win-win.

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Book a Wellness Trip

There are tons of vacation packages/retreats aimed toward wellness these days. Whether its a vegan yoga retreat in Mexico or a canoe and hiking trip in Costa Rica, you can find a vibe that suits your style. Check out Trip Tribe for retreat options. I did a SUP yoga retreat in Tulum 5 years back and it was just what I needed. We stayed in an eco-village and were fed delicious vegetarian food in between our 2-3 yoga sessions/day. I hear Yogascapes is a good resource, too.

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Eat GOOD FOOD

I get it, it's vacation, you want to let go a little and you absolutely should! I've heard so many instances of people tolerating foods on vacation that they normally can't touch at home. It's because you're on vacation and you're allowing yourself to indulge. Let that sink in for a second...

There are also numerous studies about the differences in gluten and dairy in other countries. The US genetically modifies so much of our food it inevitably becomes difficult to digest. I have been gluten free for a decade and found that my body can tolerate small amounts of gluten when I'm in Europe. That's because I'm intolerant not celiac. Celiac's need to stay away from gluten indefinitely. I still take it easy because gluten is still problematic and not healthy for me but it's fun indulging in a real croissant on vacation... even if I can only mentally make it through half.

Use Yelp, Foursquare and/or TripAdvisor to find restaurants that comply with your diet. I like to search "organic food", "plant based food", "gluten free food", "juice bar", "smoothies", "vegan food", and "vegetarian food". In my experience using these terms in the aforementioned apps directs me to healthy farm-to-table restaurants that have gluten free and veggie heavy options. Bookmark your findings and refer back often. I like to find my lunch spot during breakfast and my dinner spot during lunch. Call me crazy but knowing that I don't have to stress about getting a healthy or compliant meal eases my mind and let's me relax into vacation mode even more. Also, if you eat something that's unhealthy DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT beat yourself up. You're a human being, you will not ruin your entire diet or lifestyle if you have non-vegan non-gluten free pizza or cake. Live a little, within reason. Most of all follow your intuition! 

 I'll pack a bag of chia seeds then stop at the local market to pick up dairy-free mylk, nuts and fruit. Mix 2 TBSP chia with 1/2 cup mylk, stir and stir again after 5 minutes. Refrigerate overnight and you've got chia pudding ready for breakfast!

I'll pack a bag of chia seeds then stop at the local market to pick up dairy-free mylk, nuts and fruit. Mix 2 TBSP chia with 1/2 cup mylk, stir and stir again after 5 minutes. Refrigerate overnight and you've got chia pudding ready for breakfast!

Pack the Essentials

Think about everything you do at home to keep yourself healthy and bring it with you! If you have a matcha ritual, bring the ingredients with you. Take advantage of tiny canisters, jars, or storage containers. If you take supplements, bring them with you. This is not the time to quit on vitamins. Take it from the girl who got super sick from traveling to Aruba, then directly to Colorado in a 3-week period. I thought I'd make it easy on myself and give my supplements a break (which is important to do every few months, just not while traveling) and I failed miserably. Your body is more susceptible to catching diseases while traveling. Think planes, bathrooms, restaurants, museums, subways, yada, yada. Yuck.

I've been doing quite a bit of traveling lately and these are the best tips I've picked up. If you have any questions or want more ideas leave me a comment below! I've linked all my favorite products for you. They're products I actually use and believe in so you can feel safe buying them. Safe travels. :)

Need a little more one-on-one coaching to keep you on track? Schedule a complimentary consultation with me here. Can't wait to chat with you!! XO

MY SPRING CLEANSE MENU

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Seasonal cleanse round 2 has just ended and WOOF that was a trip! Not in a bad way, but in a super amazing holy-wow-I'm-learning-so-much-about-myself way. And this is coming from a chick who's been cleansing for years. I learn something new each time I cleanse.

All of my cleanses are whole foods and self-care based. You're able to pick your level of cleansing: beginner, intermediate, pro or traditional Ayurvedic kitchari cleanse. I chose something between intermediate and pro. I eliminated: coffee, grains, gluten, dairy, sugars (except maple syrup, honey, and stevia), and animal products (including eggs).

The food aspect is delicious and lightening but once I integrated self-care into the food cleansing, my world changed. Of course, it makes SO much sense to take care of myself holistically in a time of cleansing. Dry brushing and oiling my skin helped detox and nourish my skin, muscles, and joints simultaneously while scraping my tongue showed me what's going on in my gut while cleaning out toxins, improving oral health, and stimulating digestion. FYI I tongue scrape every day now. It's the most rewarding practice because it's impossible to forget and fun to see how my tongue changes morning to morning.

We cover so much in 1 week that I'm thinking this cleanse should last for longer. What do you think? Maybe 2, or 3 weeks? I feel like once 1 week goes by there's so much more work to be done!

A lot of people suspect a cleanse to be filled with gross, boring, tasteless food. I wanted to give you a peek at what a Natasha Wellness Spring Cleanse menu might look like. Here's what I ate for 7 days. P.S. I DID NOT STARVE. I was actually more satisfied than I have been in a while. I got to experiment with new recipes and taste new food combinations. My new favorite thing is adding herbs into my smoothies and using my Vitamix to puree soups. Last week was a real treat. I feel lighter, less bloated, less agitated, have less cravings, more energy, better digestion, and I'm more deeply connected to myself and the world around me. I always hear about how vegan yogi's are so enlightened which made sense but I'm an occasional cheese and meat eater so I didn't totally get it... until now. I actually feel connected to something more expansive. I hope you join me next time.

This cleanse is running all season long so hit me up if you want to start feeling amazing this Spring!

*Side-note: I got my period on the 5th day of the cleanse and had NO symptoms before or during which is unheard of. This is because I cut out sugar and coffee (I was still drinking matcha) and upped my leafy green intake. PMS is common but not normal. If you're having PMS symptoms, eliminating these foods will help you with tender breasts, cramping, mood swings, and cravings. 

Key: B - breakfast, S - snack, L - lunch, D - dinner

Monday
B - matcha, green smoothie
S - dried strawberries (sweetened with applie juice)
L - zucchini soup and a kale, beet, cucumber, avocado, vegan cesar salad
D - Miso soup w/ zoodles, snow peas, and bok choy
S - 2 dates w/ almond butter
 

Tuesday
B - matcha, kapha's best smoothie (grapefruit + greens)
S - raw cacao latte (dandy blend, maple, almond milk)
L - Adventure Bowl (no grains or cheese, add avocado) from Life Alive
D - pea, broccoli, asparagus thai soup w/ zoodles
S - 1 date w/ almond butter

Wednesday
B - matcha, kapha's favorite smoothie (grapefruit, apple, greens)
L - Sweetgreen avocado + lentil salad, 3 dates w/ almond butter
D - leftover soup, roasted carrot "fries" w/ spicy brown mustard
S - golden mylk latte

Thursday
B - matcha, kapha's best smoothie
S - pre-yoga ceremonial cacao drink (thanks to my yoga teacher)
L - leftover Sweetgreen salad and leftover Whole Heart Provisions bowl
S - 2 dates w/ almond butter
D - leftover soup, black bean pasta w/ tahini, garlic, lemon, basil

Friday
B - matcha, green smoothie w/ greens, frozen zucchini, 
L - roasted fennel bulb, carrots, brussels over arugula w/ avocado, sauerkraut, tamari almonds, lemon + EVOO
S - 3 of Alison Wu's golden chip bliss balls - SO YUMMY
D - Life Alive GF Adventurer demi (no cheese)

Saturday
B - matcha, green smoothie w/ greens, frozen zucchini, 1/4 banana, grapefruit, 2 tbsp flax seeds, mint, parsley, water, stevia
L - daikon ginger salad w/ avocado
D - mexican quinoa salad cups w/ creamy cilantro lime dressing

Sunday
B - matcha, green smoothie w/ spinach, grapefruit, 2 tbsp flax seeds, water, stevia, bee pollen
L - detox salad (veggie packed!)
D - peruvian quinoa stew w/ avocado

 

Curious if the cleanse is right for you? I offer complimentary consultations to new clients. Schedule yours at www.natashawellness.com/appointment. <3

FALL FOR YOUR BODY

 My snuggle puggle enjoying the fall display in Cambridge, MA.

My snuggle puggle enjoying the fall display in Cambridge, MA.

Well, Fall has suddenly moved in, and Vata season is in full force—colds, sore throats, and the flu begin to lurk in the air around us. So fun right? As we transition seasons, we shift from a Pitta (fire)-dominated summer to a Vata (air)-dominated autumn. In the fall, the air element is prominent. While our bodies have accumulated plenty of heat in our tissues through the summer months, fall forces the leaves to change color and the wind to brush our face. As a result, Vata takes the stage, which is often marked by change, instability, and anxiety---often throwing us off balance and out of our element.

When the stored heat of Pitta is cooled by Vata, it makes sense how this effect can trigger mental and physical burnout, stressing our adrenals and nervous system and restricting some of the body’s natural detoxification processes, resulting in body pains, coughs, colds, allergies, chest congestion, fatigue, or even depression. Think: adding a blast of air to fire—it would burn even stronger, right?

As Vata dosha increases, the dry, rough, cold, and windy qualities of fall can also take shape in our bodies. As the air element increases in our external environment, we might notice that our skin becomes dry, our energy drops, our thoughts feel muddled, our joints feel stiff, and our digestion suddenly sluggish. In other words, we feel in total disarray. Ugh. Why?!

As temperatures drop, so can motivation. The cold weather makes it harder to get up in the morning and get moving. Meanwhile, tis the season that our days feel rushed again. So what’s a Vata to do when life speeds up but the body slows down?

EAT WARMER FOODS

Increased air and wind can have a drying effect on the body and environment, drying out the digestive system. This can leave us feeling bloated or heavy after eating due to the reduced heat and increased dryness. But there’s a catch! Less blood in the skin means better circulation in the core, allowing the stomach to gain access to more blood. Thus, we experience this as a craving for starchy and heavy foods.

When the temperature starts to drop, the body scrambles to protect itself from heat loss. In Ayurveda, nourishing foods are called ojas. Warm, oily, heavy foods build ojas and provide the nourishment our body needs to build a layer of protective, insulating fat to prepare for winter, while also calming anxieties. Flavors of sweetness is nourishing and grounding to help build strength, while the taste of salt keeps us hydrated and moisturized.

To prevent the buildup of toxins and build resilience for the fall, increase your fluid intake in the form of water, soups, and stews. Eat foods that contain a bit more butter or foods that are sweet and salty to increase fluid levels in the body.

  • Add generous amounts of good quality oils like ghee to your dishes

  • Vegetables: Avoid cold/raw veggies and cold salads—these are foods that can dampen Agni, our digestive fire. Include warming veggies like baked squash, sweet potatoes, and lightly cooked leafy greens.

  • Soups: Soups are an ideal choice during this time of year. Easy to digest and oh so nourishing.

  • Spices: Keep your insides warm with spices like cumin, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, coriander, oregano, thyme, sage, fenugreek, and fennel, cardamom, clove, and cinnamon.

DRINK TEA WITH CINNAMON & ASHWAGANDHA

Another way to encourage the body to stay active and healthy during the fall is to drink teas that cleanse the organs, keep the body lubricated, and flush out toxins to keep the digestive fire active. In Ayurvedic terms, immunity is synced with digestion. When digestion and appetite are strong, then immunity is strengthened. And whatever weakens digestion, weakens immunity.

Keeping the nervous system stable throughout the fall is one of the most vital tasks for maintaining strong immunity and staying healthy—a central herb for Vata-type anxiety.

  • Use warm and sweet spices like cinnamon to promote the calming of inner air.

  • Cinnamon has a stimulating effect on the circulation, warming our blood and body into a state of ease with its sweet taste.

  • Ashwagandha, an adaptogen, will help you adapt to the extra stress as the seasons change

GET YOUR CREATIVE JUICES FLOWING

The fall is a great time for inspiration and new ideas, as its pattern reminds us that it's time to turn in from outside and begin to feed our inner light. Ah, bring on the hygge 😊. As blood flow to mind increases, Vata provides us with movement of thought, impacting our imagination and creativity. Wind, sudden temperature shifts, and the vacation-less season can also prompt higher levels of stress this time year.

PRACTICE SELF-CARE AKA TREAT YO'SELF

While the summer season keeps us busy enjoying warm days and active living, the Fall arrives in a seemingly sudden fashion, and the windy days can leave us feeling restless and out of sync with not just our routine, but also our inner-self.

Fall is a great time to start spending time nurturing our spirit and reflecting on the beauty that surrounds us. This helps us to stay grounded by rebalancing our minds and bodies.

  • Take a quick power nap or meditate during breaks. Reduced blood flow can cause our muscles feeling fatigued. Taking frequent breaks throughout the day can help to level out our energy.

  • Practice Yin yoga

  • Eat meals on time and at the same time every day

  • Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. An Ayurvedic ideal would be going to bed by 10:30 p.m. and awakening by 6:00 a.m.

DRESS WARM AND COZY UP

Vata types especially also have a tendency to feel cold and have cold hands and feet.

  • Dress in layers to be prepared for the fluctuations of heat and cold between inside and outside temperatures

  • Cover your head and ears when outside

  • Drink warm liquids throughout the day

Throughout every season, Ayurveda reminds us to sync our bodies with the waves of nature instead of going against them. Autumn is an opportunity to slow down, restore the body and mind, and prepare our system for winter wellness.  Learning to recognize when an element needs balancing is the secret to great overall well-being. Keep Vata balanced and stay centered throughout the fall by listening to the signs in your body and mind—dedicate time to adjust your diet, support digestion, and focus on routine.

To discuss more about this topic with me one-on-one, schedule a free chat with me at natashawellness.com/appointment.

 

RESOURCES

http://ayurvedanextdoor.com/fall-health-5-elements-ayurveda/
https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/season-of-change https://www.joyfulbelly.com/Ayurveda/article/Ayurvedic-Diet-for-October/5622https://yoursingoodhealth.me/2017/10/http://www.chopra.com/articles/a-vata-pacifying-routine-for-fall

BEAT STRESS WITH ADAPTOGENS

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What are adaptogens you might ask?

Concepts surrounding adaptogens are rather new to the modern Western wellness guru, but is fundamental to Ayurveda. While adaptogens have been used by herbalists for thousands of years, you are probably hearing more and more about the remedies behind these naturopathic herbs, or “healing plants,” as you dive deeper into the world of wellness.

In short, adaptogens are compounds found in certain plants—such as herbs and some mushrooms—that function to regulate the adrenal system, which controls the body's hormonal response to stress. Yet, these guys have a long list of even more health benefits! Adaptogens work to balance, restore, and protect the body, helping it adapt to an array of life’s stressors. Largely, they have gained global attention for:

  • systemically supporting the body to be more resilient to stress
  • systemically supporting the body’s ability to stay in homeostasis
  • being innocuous and not impacting normal body functions more than required
     

In addition to their general ability to calm the nervous system, adaptogens can reduce the risk of inflammation and autoimmune disease, boost energy, regulate hormones, increase digestion, promote weight loss, and even inspire better moods.  

Adaptogens come many different forms, including pills similar to vitamins, solutions that can be mixed with water, powders, which can be used in smoothies, and teas. There’s no right or wrong way to get your fill—so sip, mix, or stir to your liking! Gaia does recommend that you take a day off from your adaptogens each week; if you're using them for more than six weeks, to also take a full week off; and if you're using them for six months, to take a full month off. (These little breaks are said to let the herbs really take effect in your system).

I sell Sun Potion products and am giving my readers 20% off! Click here to get started.

MY GO-TO ADAPTOGENS

CORDYCEPS

Cordyceps, reishi, shiitake and maitake mushrooms contain all the benefits of antioxidant foods, making cordyceps known for its anti-tumor and immune-enhancing properties. In addition, these shrooms also help our bodies use oxygen more efficiently, meaning that the muscles are then able to work harder for longer—which then can help power up the length of your workout by improving your strength and speed.

ASHWAGANDHA

Research has found consistent use of this super-root has the power to regulate the immune system, lower anxiety, and significantly lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Since high levels of cortisol has been linked to belly fat, ashwagandha can aid in shedding extra weight. In addition, this little herb enhances endocrine function and supports an underactive thyroid. Due to its high levels of iron, it also alleviates heavy periods. Yes, please. 

RHODIOLA

Rhodiola, often called rhodiola rosea or golden root, helps to increase mental stamina and physical endurance, boost the immune system during winter, and support fertility and endocrine health in men and women. Rhodiola also protects the heart and liver, increases use of oxygen, and improves memory. And thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects, it also can boost your recovery time after a long workout (even more reasons to add extra minutes to your next yoga sesh!).

MACA ROOT

Maca Root is used as both a root vegetable (similar to a radish) and as a medicinal remedy. When used consistently, maca root as the power to nourish and stimulate the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands, which in turn brings balance to the adrenal glands. Maca has been used for centuries to treat anemia, tuberculosis, depression, menstrual disorders and adrenal fatigue. Maca can be found as a whole food, powder, liquid, tablet, or capsule.

TURMERIC

In the Ayurveda world, turmeric is considered “tri doshic,” meaning it’s suitable for all dosha types (hooray!) When combined with other activators—such as cardamom, cinnamon, or pepper—it’s known for increasing ojas, or the body's vital strength. During both acute and chronic experience of stressors, turmeric supports healthy skin, liver function, healthy levels of body weight, blood glucose, cholesterol, corticosterone, memory, and reduced glutathione. I love Jarrow's golden milk powder (not vegan) or Gaia's golden milk powder if you're vegan.

MORINGA

Moringa is therapeutic on the gut and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Containing large amounts of vitamin A, C, E, calcium, potassium, and protein, moringa aids in normalizing the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline in the brain—which play a key role in memory, mood, organ function (think depression and psychosis). Moringa contains antioxidants called flavonoids, polyphenols, and ascorbic acid—all three renown fo fighting free radicals that cause oxidative stress, cell damage, and inflammation.

other faves: reishi, lion's mane, He shou wu, yin power, chaga

I sell Sun Potion products on my shop page for 20% off ALWAYS because I love you all and want to share health with you without emptying your wallets. These powders are my favorite additions to matcha latte's, bulletproof coffee, smoothies, and golden milk. Also, be sure to check out Tamim Teas for delicious adaptogenic tea blends!

Think about your daily habits and sense of wellness:

  • Are you sleeping well?
  • Do you have a healthy appetite?
  • Do you have healthy digestion/elimination?
  • Are you feeling your optimal self?

If you’ve been trying to improve your overall well-being, adaptogens might be worth exploring. Want to learn more about the benefits of adaptogens and how they relate to the practice of Ayurveda? I’d love to chat with you one-on-one about your health goals. Reach out to me for more details @ https://www.natashawellness.com/appointment

 

RESOURCES
http://www.goodfood.com.au/good-health/adaptogens-why-you-need-these-super-herbs-in-your-diet-20170306-gus6g2
ttp://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/why-adaptogens-are-worth-health-hype https://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/adaptogens-explained/slide/4/

NOT DIGGING YOUR DIGESTION?

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I don’t know about you, but mealtime is a sacred part of my day. Whether I eat in, dine out, or pack a brown paper bag, feeding my body is a special experience I savor every time.  And so there’s nothing worse than enjoying your favorite meal only for it to be spoiled by the subsequent discomfort of bloating—or gas, stomach pain, constipation, heartburn, fatigue, etc. And bon appetite soon becomes just blah. Been there? We all have.

Deep breath, don’t panic—there’s a solution to this suffering.  But first—literally take a deep breath! Next time you sit down to eat, make sure your stomach is in a relaxed posture and your awareness is focused on the taste, texture, and smell of the food. This simple form of mealtime meditation can greatly improve you digestion. Now that’s some food for thought 😊

According to Ayurveda, agni is the "digestive fire” in charge of breaking down food and other things we ingest from the environment, absorbing what is useful and eliminating the rest. Think: your body's tool for "cooking" your food. Without this fire, our system cannot digest anything we consume. The goal is to keep your agni burning gradually throughout the day.

To maintain a resilient digestive fire, Ayurveda recommends incorporating a variety of practices into your daily life that can strengthen agni—while also facilitating weight loss, improve the metabolism of food, and minimize those unpleasant GI symptoms.

So without further adieu, try these simple, natural, medicine-free Ayurvedic remedies to help your belly feel flat, calm, and balanced:

Upon waking, drink apple cider vinegar: add warm water, some good maple syrup or honey

When we wake up in the morning, our digestive fire is naturally low. Hot water mixed with ACV gives agni a jumpstart, both preparing it for food and stimulating the bowels. Do this every day if you can, not only when you’re feeling bloated or gassy. And then chug a huge glass of warm water with 1/2 a lemon.

Be mindful when you eat!

In other words—slow down! Sticking to a regular eating in a relaxed environment where you can focus on your food prepares your body for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Think: your yoga practice to your plate.

Don't drink a lot of liquid during meals—take small sips

Many people like to drink tea after dinner but this still disrupts digestion. Wait 30-60 minutes before drinking your tea. Ginger is best if you want to help your belly out (more on that below).

Avoid gas producing foods.

Cabbage, peas, potatoes, cauliflower, beans, broccoli and brussell sprouts are all foods most likely to give you gas. If you’re having issues, try cutting them out of your diet, and then reintroducing them one at a time. Notice how you feel afterward. If they make you bloated or gassy, either cook them with lots of digestive spices (see below!) or avoid them completely. Soda water is also full of gas (see: bubbles) and is not the best choice if you need extra help digesting your foods. Go for flat water with lemon.

Don't snack

The truth is it takes your body 3–4 hours to properly digest food—so grazing throughout the day tends to overload your system. By allowing between meals, your food can fully digest, giving proving you with more energy. Note: it is not true that you need to eat 6 smalls meals to increase your metabolism.

Eat raw fruit alone

Raw fruit in its whole goodness digests more quickly than other food. If eaten with other food, it starts to ferment in your belly. Note: cooked fruit is okay, especially when cooked and combined with other foods. That way it has time to assimilate.

Take magnesium supplement before bed (CALM is my fave)

Drink 1-3 tbsp in 6oz of warm water about an hour before bed. Don't chug right before bed if you have a small bladder or you'll be running to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Been there, done that. Magnesium not only helps your digestion but it also relaxes your muscles and gives your body a chance to recoop after a hard workout.

Drink ginger tea or juiced ginger

Ginger can help to counteract your food’s gas forming tendencies, Ginger can relax the smooth muscle of the intestines, thereby relieving symptoms of gas and cramping. Ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne are renowned  favorites for nurturing your digestive fire, while also boosting your immune system. Side note: Ginger is known in Ayurveda as the universal remedy due to its many benefits for the body. It’s been used for over 2,000 years to treat digestive issues. To make: steep ginger in boiling water for about 10 minutes. If you don't have fresh ginger root at home, ginger tea will work too. (My favorite is Rishi Tumeric Ginger or Yogi Ginger tea.) Viola. PS: wait 30 minutes to drink tea after meal so there's time for your body to focus on food digestion (drinking lots of liquid dilutes).

Do some form of daily movement

Whether it’s a bit of yoga each morning, a daily walk, or light stretching before bed. A recent study published in Diabetes Care showed that a short 15-minute walk after each meal helped to control sugar spikes after eating. These short post-meal walks were more effective than taking a longer, 45-minute walk once daily.

When our digestive system is strong, we create healthy tissues and produce a subtle essence called ojas. In relation to Ayurveda, ojas is the innermost vital essence; the basis for clarity of perception, physical strength, and immunity. In contrast, if our agni is weakened by improper eating, lack of activity, negative emotional energy or unhealthy daily routine, our digestion will be weakened and prone to producing toxins that get stored in the body. In the world of Ayurveda, this toxic residue, known as ama, is known as the root cause of disease.

To learn more about how you can get good with your gut, reach out to me for a free consultation @ www.natashawellness.com/appointment

WHAT'S YOUR DOSHA?

You’ve probably heard the word “dosha” in relation to Ayurveda being thrown around a bunch. I’m going to dive into the doshas a little bit as they relate to food (lifestyle, and exercise will come later).

As an ancient system of healing, Ayurveda (the sister science to Yoga) examines ways to preserve our health by maintaining a balanced mind-body state, centering its philosophy on five elements: earth, fire, water, air and space. It’s very similar to Traditional Chinese Medicine, just in another language. Ayurveda bases its practice on the principles of three doshas—vata (air and space), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth and water). Doshas are energies that perform different physiological functions in the body, which, in turn, influence our overall personal well-being.

You may want to go take this dosha (prakriti) quiz and then come back and read the rest of this post - https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/prakriti-quiz/

According to Ayurveda, when we’re balanced, we crave foods that are good for us. However, if our mind, body or spirit is out of sync, our connection to our body’s inner intelligence goes haywire. You may notice after taking the quiz that you are drawn to foods that throw you out of balance. Like increases like! As we move through life, the proportion of each of the three doshas constantly fluctuates due to things like our environment, diet, age and the climate. As they move in and out of balance, the doshas can affect our health, energy level and general mood. I like to retake this quiz about once a year to see if there are changes.

Foods are linked to doshas both in their composition and in the types of biological reactions they cause in the body. If you are high in a dosha, avoid the foods related to it. For example, if you are predominantly pitta, it might be best for you to decrease spicy burrito’s and jalapeno margaritas and drink more aloe juice. If you are predominantly kapha, increase light crunchy vegetables and decrease heavy foods such as rice and grains. If you are predominantly vata, increase ginger tea and decrease crackers, chips, and cold smoothies.

Pitta: Food/drinks that are spicy and cause fire-based, energy-consuming reactions. If your Pitta is high, avoid Pitta foods, such as caffeine, spicy food, garlic and ginger.

Kapha: Foods that are heavier in nature and earth-based. Kapha foods come from the earth, like grains, rice, flour and starchy vegetables.

Vata:  Foods have an airy nature and cause air-based reactions, such as belching. Includes: popcorn, crackers, nuts, raw vegetables, fruits, melons, milk, yogurt and coconut water.

Food should provide energy and clarity. A "good" diet may appear very different from person to person. However, determining if a certain diet is working well for you can be proven by a simple universal truth: when you feel energized, sleep well and have strong digestion supported rather than depleted as you go through everyday life. It’s all about experimenting with what works best for you and BALANCE.

The truth is that most people are not solely one type of dosha, but in fact are a blend of at least two types. I’m actually equally all 3! Knowing your dosha(s) can help you maintain balance for lasting health and peace of mind. That being said, it's important we find a personal balance of foods to suit our own unique constitution. As you learn about and apply the foods that fit your personal dosha(s), you’ll craft a food system that best supports your mind-body balance.

Each dosha body type thrives on different kinds of foods to support its overall function. Focus on adding these foods to bring yourself back into balance:

Vata types need grounding foods like oils and grains.

Pitta types are supported by cooling foods, such as salads and sweet fruits.

Kapha types benefit from heating and invigorating foods, such as cayenne and other hot peppers.

In the practice of Ayurveda, diet and lifestyle routines are the most important medicines for fostering our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Start by choosing foods that help you balance your doshas, and then see what feels good in your body both as you eat them and long after the meal is over. Pay attention to patterns in your digestion, sleep cycle, breathing and energy level after eating. A food diary can be helpful tool for tracking these patterns. If you're feeling unhealthy or unbalanced at any time, review your diary and consider what you've been eating that could be triggering the problems. Next, adjust your eating habits until you begin to feel improvements.

There is SO much information about Ayurveda and doshas so I’m just skimming the surface here. I wanted to share a few basics to help you get started on your path, if that’s something you’re interested in doing. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have! Just leave a comment below or send me a private message at natashagayl@gmail.com. I want to help you live more in balance with your body and lifestyle.

If you want to get yourself dosha-specific massage oils check out my shop page. You can also find a link on there to purchase a Kitchari kit on Amazon. A great value so you don't have to go searching for all the ingredients separately!

I am leading a yin yoga and essential oil workshop October 7th at Acorn Yoga in Brighton, MA where I'll be talking about Ayurveda and Dosha's in relation to EO's. Get your tickets!

Sources:
Image borrowed from http://www.ayurvedanice.com/en/the-doshas/ 

SYNC UP TO THE AYURVEDIC CLOCK

"Early to bed, early to rise makes a man happy, healthy, and wise." We're all pretty well-versed on importance of ample sleep. But how exactly does this habit keep us happy and healthy? I always considered myself a morning person; waking up before the rest of the world to read, check emails, or just enjoy my coffee on the patio in silence. Until I learned about Ayurveda, did I realize that my morning routine didn't quite measure up to the natural circadian cycles of nature. If you suddenly lost me at Ayurveda and circadian cycles, fear not and read on. But, first—note to self—waking up early to sit down and sip caffeine, as it turns out, is not very wise. 

Ayurveda originated in ancient India over 5,000 years ago as holistic system of natural medicine, striving to create natural harmony between body, mind, and spirit, through diet, herbs, exercise, meditation, yoga, and massage/bodywork. As it made its way to the West, Ayurveda continued to have a strong presence in the world of alternative medicine. Serving as an integrated practice of self-care, Ayurveda is used to achieve optimal health by reconnecting our bodies to the natural circadian rhythms: morning, midday, and evening routines of self-care, or dinacharya.

Imagine your body's internal clock moving with the rising and setting of the sun. Sounds a bit surreal, right? Yet, modern research has been proving the importance of our bodies living in sync with the natural circadian cycles-- and the benefits it has to enhance our health and vitality. 

You may be thinking such a concept sounds bizarrely impossible, considering most of us are on-the-go all day long; rushing to and from work, eating ­in the car, running errand in between, and squeezing in a half-ass workout before getting home to--ugh--make dinner from scratch because we were too tired to prepare the night before. And the viscous cycle continues.

However, there is nothing natural about this routine; rushing, forcing, and eating our way into exhaustion. And, unfortunately, the chaos of everyday life feeds into this pattern. Luckily, there is a way to beat the system—with a new system. An Ayurvedic daily routine—living in sync with nature's cycles—gives us the energy we need to both start and end our day with the same amount of stamina and motivation (think: swimming downstream instead of upstream).

In nature, there are two 12-hour cycles (6AM-6PM and 6PM-6AM) that are each separated into three sub-cycles. Each of these 4-hour cycles is linked to certain functions of the body controlled by the following three elements:

Vata (air), which governs the nervous system

Pitta (fire), which maintains digestion and metabolism

Kapha (earth and water), which controls immunity and physical strength. 

The practice of Ayurveda beings by understanding how to connect to a daily routine that is in tune with these cycles. Again, imagine moving with the rising and setting of the sun. Check out the following flow to get a better idea:

FIRST 12 HOURS OF THE DAY: 6AM-6PM

Sub-cycles:

6AM-10AM: Kapha increases

  • This is the best time for exercise and other forms of physical activity
  • The sun is at its peak heat
  • Kapha is heavy and supports greater muscular strength 

10AM-2PM: Pitta increases

  • This is the best time of the day to eat your largest meal
  • Pitta (aka digestive fire) is the strongest in the middle of the day

2PM-6PM: Vata increases

  • This is the best time for mental and creative energy
  • The nervous system is more active
  • We often crave highly-processed snacks at this time, indicating exhaustion, blood sugar fluctuations, or poor digestion

 

SECOND 12 HOURS OF THE DAY: 6PM-6AM

Sub-cycles:

6PM-10PM:  Kapha increases

  • This is the best time to begin settling down for sleep. 
  • Kapha is heavy, causing cortisol levels to drop during this time
  • This explains why you begin to feel tired around this time-frame 

10PM-2AM: Pitta increases

  • This is the best time to be sleeping
  • The liver (pitta) starts to detox your body 
  • If you are consistently awake or toss and turn during this time, the detox can be disturbed

2AM-6AM:  Vata increases

  • The nervous system starts to activate during this time
  • This is the best time to sleep deeply and naturally wake up before sunrise

While our personal agendas may not always run on time, the earth's schedule is constantly on the same wavelength with how it functions. By creating a daily routine in tandem with the natural circadian cycles, we can use our minds and bodies, collectively, to live a more balanced and productive life; physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Our lives really can be less stressful and more enjoyable when we move with the current, not against it.

Think about your day from start to finish. How did you practice self-care? What would you like to improve about your daily routine?

To learn how to kick-start your morning by incorporating an Ayurveda routine, stay tuned for next week’s post. You can also schedule a FREE 30 minute consultation with me. Just head to www.natashawellness.com/appointment and pick a time!

START YOUR MORNING RIGHT

How many late nights and groggy mornings does it take for us to feel crappy? For me, only one. As our youth slowly fades and our quarter life crises (also slowly) end, we approach a chapter somewhere in between always feeling tired and compelled to discover our best selves. Nevertheless, our habits are often what make or break us when trying to defeat exhaustion. The common routine of staying up late and rushing when we wake is a hard habit to break. And so, as habits go, we become accustomed to our patterns, continuing to push, promising that "tomorrow we will do better." 

Imagine waking up to the natural feel of your rested body, instead of the dreadful sound of your alarm. Envision feeling refreshed throughout your day, your routine guided by the cycles of the sun (waking, moving, eating, working, resting when the earth does). Sound dreamy? 

Most of us are unaware of our body's innate craving to function in sync with the earth's natural circadian rhythms. In other words, most of us function by the flashing settings on our phones, not by the earth's natural moving clock. In the world of wellness, this is known as Ayurveda. 
When we connect our bodies and minds to align with nature's schedule (the circadian cycles of morning, midday, and evening), we become more balanced and mindful; physically, emotionally, and spiritually (details about the practice of Ayurveda on next week's post @ www.natashawellness.com/blog). 

Back to feeling crappy. How many times do we vow to change before we actually do make a change?  "Tomorrow we will do better." If you've said this to yourself before, you are not alone. The good news is you can break the cycle! The even better news is that you can start to improve your energy and motivation TODAY through simple, yet powerful exercises, beginning with your morning routine. 

 

To jump start your morning, try following this practice:

  • Wake up before sunrise (Vata time). And go to bed earlier. Waking up past 6am makes it harder to wake up (as Kapha increases)
  • Stretch in bed to wake up your body
  • Scrape your tongue with a copper tongue scraper (separate blog post on reading tongue) 
  • Rub your body with your hands from head to toe to wake up your cells. You can use a dry brush if you have a lot of ama or silk gloves (http://www.azulfit.com/dry-brushing-daily-ayurvedic-self-care-for-glowing-skin/
  • Flush your system out with 1-1.5 liters of water. If you're nauseous in the morning, you can use tea water--add lemon or lime to alkalize. CHUG, don't sip. The purpose is to flush and eliminate.
  • Move for 20 minutes (walk, yoga, stretch, workout). Let your body move and wake up before you sit down in front of a screen. 
  • Eliminate. Drinking water and moving your body will both help this process. The goal is to remove all waste, all the way from your transverse and descending colon--that's 18 inches of waste! You'll feel like a badass b.
  • Don't check email right when you wake up. Try to leave your phone and computer alone until after your routine. You'll a notice a huge difference and feel prepared for the day if you do this.
  • Reflect on how you can incorporate this practice into your morning routine. Maybe you don't have time for all of these steps in the morning, and that's ok. Try one step at a time, one day at at time if you need to. Start by finding what works best for you and your schedule and what fits best for your body. It's all about EXPERIMENTING!  Have fun with it! 

 

For more fun (and more tips) join me for yoga and smoothies at my Bend & Blend workshop on 8/26/17 from 2-4PM. Details @ https://www.natashawellness.com/bend-blend