workshop

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.

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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 offer nutritional, physical, spiritual support through one-on-one coaching with your dosha in mind. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have! Just leave a comment below or send me a private message at info@natashawellness.com. Click here to set up a free consultation to see if health coaching is right for you.

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!


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

EQUINOX DETOX WORKSHOP RECAP + HERBAL TEA MENU

Happy Spring Equinox....9 days ago! Okay I'm a little late. But so is the weather. Last weekend Maren and I (as Kindred Spirits Collective) hosted our second workshop at Acorn Yoga in Brighton. We're starting to really get in the groove of this space and are loving seeing so many familiar AND new faces show up to our events. I'm very eager to share the herbal teas and photos from our event with you all. You should also know that Kindred Spirits has committed to at least 2 more workshops in this space so keep an eye out for updates and leave a comment below if you have future workshop ideas! We want to cater to you and your interests so don't be shy. 

Here are 10 herbs we got to play with and taste at our workshop. Mix and match to make your perfect blend! Our resident herbalist Maren did a kickass job explaining the tea blending process and explaining which herbs are most beneficial to us as we enter into Spring. 

Detoxifying Herbs for Spring

Calendula: Best herb for nourishing and cleansing the lymphatic system. Delicious and beautiful in salads! Provides heart health; relieves congestion in lymphatic system and reduces swollen lymph glands; digestive distress and soothing inflammatory conditions in stomach lining and bowels; improves circulation and detoxifies body; eases menstrual and menopausal difficulties; antibacterial properties (heals wounds); antifungal properties (especially for pelvic and bowel infections); antiviral.

Dandelion leaf: Think twice before spraying this beauty with weed killer. Dandelion can be used for medicine and food. It flushes the system, good for kidneys; iron (good for anemia), vitamin C; mild laxative (relieves constipation and bloating); bitter (good for optimal digestion); safe, healthy diuretic (contains potassium - most diuretics deplete potassium); great for cleansing after winter!

Hibiscus Flower: Contains high levels of antioxidants. Great for flavoring teas! Contains vitamin C and is calming. Good for high cholesterol and high blood sugar, heart health, coughing; has antibacterial and antifungal properties; helps with digestion. Good for depression.

Hyssop: Great for respiratory system; treats colds, cough, heavy congestions, indigestion; reduces inflammation in mucous membranes (good for asthma and allergies; antiviral; remedy for rheumatism and other aches and pains in muscles and joints.

Lavender Flower: An essential herb to have on hand. Good for relieving anxiety, depression, tension; headaches; mood swings; dizziness, fainting; reduces fevers; detoxifies; induces sweating; antiseptic; eases vomiting and diarrhea.

Lemon Balm: The “official” herb of apothecaries. Good for allergies and asthma (“nature’s antihistamine”); antiviral, antibacterial; antidepressant/anxiety; cleansing kidneys and urinary tract; good for digestive distress. Remedy for heart disease (and heartache). Lemon Balm is said to promote a long life

Nettle: Nettle can be used to remedy gout, rheumatism, anemia, exhaustion, menstrual difficulties, skin problems, and hay fever, to mention just a few. Nettle can be cooked, eaten, brewed into beer, infused as a tea, tincture, and more. Useful for “growing pains” in young children and for older folks with creaky joints. Excellent tonic for reproductive system of both men and women. Blood tonic, circulatory stimulant; aches and pains; energy (high in chlorophyll; vitamins A, C, D, K; minerals); great for liver, gallbladder, and kidneys; PMS, fertility issues, prostate issues; antiseptic; respiratory health.

Oatstraw: This plant is highly valued for its ability to restore balance and a sense of calm in weak and stressed out individuals. Full body tonic (strengthens immunity, builds energy); regulates blood sugar, reduces cholesterol, stabilizes thyroid function; great for nervous system health; antibiotic; antidepressant; fatigue; anxiety/depression; insomnia; skin health

Red Clover: Considered nature’s best vitamin supplement. Rich bounty of nutrients that support entire body. High in beta-carotene, calcium, Vitamin B, C, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, selenium. Respiratory health; menopause; blood and lymphatic cleanser; eczema and psoriasis; bone density. Blossoms taste like honey cups! Add them to salads, blender drinks, garden-fresh soups, and tea.

Spearmint: The eldest of the mint family. Cooling, refreshing, and uplifting. Soothes and strengthens nervous system; clear sinuses; digestion; urinary tract; stimulating blood flow it cleanses and tones spleen; mild stimulant; . Lovely as an apertif or digestif (make a strong tea and mix it with sparkling water, maybe adding a handful of fresh berries) and great for flavoring other, less tasty herbs. Combine with ginger to cure a restless stomach. Chew on fresh leaves instead of gum!

This workshop was part 2 of our 2-part series leading up to our May 19th-21st Spring Awakening Retreat in the lake region of Maine. This all-inclusive retreat is based at a lovely lakeside cottage and includes yoga, meditation, pranayama, Journey Dance, Qi Gong, holistic/cooking workshops, nature hikes, kayaking/lakeside activities, campfires, and more! And guys, it's SO affordable. For $350 you get a bed (or tent, if you'd like!), Organic home cooked food by your retreat chefs, and all the aforementioned activities. This would be the perfect Mother's Day gift by the way! Grab your mom, daughter, sister, friend, whoever! and awaken your heart through movement, nourishment, and laughter. I can promise you laughter, for sure. We have limited space so click that Register button and commit yourself to TREATING YO'SELF. I'll see you lakeside!

Thanks again to all who attended! We had so much fun with you. For more information on Kindred Spirits Collective you can follow us on Facebook.

 

 

TWIST AND KRAUT WORKSHOP RECAP

The fermentation crew showing off their creations!

The fermentation crew showing off their creations!

Wow. I am still beaming from yesterday's Twist & 'Kraut workshop! This was Kindred Spirits Collective's first local workshop and it was a total success. Maren Bhagat and I led a one hour twisty detoxifying vinyasa yoga flow followed by a 90 minute sauerkraut making workshop over at Acorn Yoga in Brighton, MA. We had an absolute blast teaching everyone the benefits of yoga and how it ties into the benefits of fermented foods! Thanks to everyone who came out. If you missed the workshop and want to make it to our next one, register for our March 25th Yoga and Tea Making event and sign up for our Maine Spring Awakening Retreat. I wanted to share some of the info we taught at the workshop. Check it out:

Ayurveda and digestion

There are 5 elements: earth, air, ether, wind, and fire. According to Ayurveda, fire, or agni, is the most important element in the human body.

"The digestive fire in the intestines (jataragni) is the root of all the digestive fires in the body. As it causes the increase or decrease of the elemental and tissue digestive fires it should be treated with great care."
- Ashtanga Hridaya Samhita

Ayurveda says that if you have a healthy digestive system then you are properly able to assimilate experiences, emotions, and physical matter. Have you ever eaten something that didn't sit well in your belly, making you feel heavy, bloated, and grumpy? It happens all the time, especially in our over-sugared over-fed country. That's why following Ayurvedic teachings about improving digestion can be so beneficial. It takes a little attention but once you discover the benefits of improving your digestive fire you'll be ALL IN. 

Agni: Meaning fire, spark, digestive fire. Both "ignite" & "agni" have the same linguistic root.
Qualities: Hot, Light, Dry, Sharp, Penetrating, Pungent, Luminous, Transforming.
Functions: Absorption, assimilation, metabolism, digestion, perception, taste, touch, hearing, vitality, clarity, alertness, regular appetite, combustion.

It includes the digestive function, sense perception, cellular metabolism and mental assimilation, linking mental well being and digestive health.

It gives immunity, a sparkle in the eyes and luster to the skin.

When agni is balanced, it causes emotions that are beneficial to health: courage, cheerfulness, lucid, intelligence. When agni is out of balance it causes emotions that are destructive to health: fear, anger, confusion, idiocy."

Yoga and fermented food both increase agni in the body. In yoga, the squeeze and soak action of the body (especially in twists) are like a sponge for your gut. Each twist squeezes out old blood allowing new blood in wringing out toxins, heavy metals, sadness, depression, and anxiety. Fermented foods re-kindle agni due to the good bacteria in them digesting ama and replenishing enzymes and nutrients. If you’re not digesting well, you’ll develop ama, or gut inflammation and toxic residues from undigested, unabsorbed foods that slow you down.

 

Benefits of eating sauerkraut

Massage your kraut... really get to know it.

Massage your kraut... really get to know it.

Indian food is traditionally full of fermented foods. Think idli – a fermented lentil and rice cake, chutney, yogurt sauces, dosa. Not only are these fermented foods delicious and nutritionally dense, they are easier to digest as well. This takes a lot of pressure off of you to do all of the work, since the food is partially broken down already. Many other cultures consume fermented foods regularly. Various Asian cultures eat pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, and carrots, such as kimchi. Eastern Europeans consume many versions of sauerkraut and fermented dairy products. Even Romans valued sauerkraut!

Sauerkraut is a lacto-fermented food that is full of not only probiotics, but prebiotics as well. The fiber in the cabbage feeds the bacteria, allowing them to thrive. Similar to the physical practice of asana in yoga, eating small amounts of fermented foods throughout your day is quite cleansing. The good bacteria slowly replace the “bad” bacteria, revitalizing you! The wide variety of bacteria found in fermented food is incredible important – a diverse ecosystem is more resilient – and diversity in the Western gut tends to be significantly lower than in other, less-industrialized populations. Eating fermented foods allows your system to be more ready for dealing with illness and resisting it in the first place. Your body contains 100 trillion microbes (making up a pound or two of you!), the majority of which are in your gut where 80% of your immune system is located. For every human cell that is intrinsic to our body, there are about 10 microbes. Quite humbling, isn’t it? The increase in chronic illnesses we are seeing may be due in part to the decrease in beneficial bacteria we are consuming. Let’s ensure that the types of bacteria we are made of are those that are supportive of our health and longevity, rather than inflammatory types!

Not only do fermented foods create health in the body, but they actually play a large role in our emotional well-being. Our gut is literally our second brain, and the bacteria contained in it can alter our thoughts! They control cravings – if you are eating junk food, the bacteria that enjoy it will begin to take over and will actually cause you to crave it in order to keep themselves alive! It sounds far-fetched, but you really are a result of what you are eating. They produce signaling chemicals that control immune cells, appetite, satiety, and digestion. A healthy gut may even help to decrease Alzheimer’s risk! Fermented foods are full of nutrients that are harder to get in the Western diet, and are full of bacteria that produce and help unlock nutrients, such as K2 and vitamin B. The physical, mental, and emotional benefits of eating fermented foods go on and on!!

Other types of fermented foods include kombucha, kefir, miso, kimchi, yogurt, natto… Just make sure you are consuming raw versions! Probiotic supplements are extremely pricey, and contain 100x fewer bacteria than fermented foods that you can make yourself!

Moral of the story: Do yoga and eat fermented foods, even if it's just a bite a day! Your body will thank you.

 

Sources:
https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/blog-banyan-vine/details/the-digestive-fire
http://yogahealer.com/ayurveda-and-fermented-foods/

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-homemade-sauerkraut-in-a-mason-jar-193124
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/magazine/say-hello-to-the-100-trillion-bacteria-that-make-up-your-microbiome.html?pagewanted=3&_r=2&src=me
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gut-bacteria-alzheimers_us_589e0e09e4b03df370d628be?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063