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Ayurveda

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Journal Post

Can we finally begin to breathe a sigh of relief? July was unbearably hot. August invites a cooling down period or at least tells us there is an end in sight! We kept visions of cool ponds, pools, rivers and oceans everywhere we went. In southwestern Virginia, we were lucky to receive plenty of rain in the spring and early summer, but now everything is dry and hot!
To ensure both peace of mind and a strong immune system through the winter months, find ways to connect and harmonize with your surroundings now. One of the best ways to do this is by eating foods that are in season. Every single food that exists-from a coffee bean to an ear of corn-has a precise medicinal effect to assist the body's equilibrium as we pass from season to season.
Drinking ginger tea, omitting dairy foods from her diet and taking daily walks became as routine as brushing her teeth for Jennifer Cormier, a Pilates instructor at Inward Bound Wellness in Ashland, Oregon. To shed winter weight and brighten her complexion with spring's arrival, Jenn dabbled with Ayurveda (pronounced eye-yur-vay-dah), India's traditional healing science. After a month of adhering to these ancient daily rituals, Jenn began to feel more in rhythm with the budding of new life around her. She began to laugh more and sleep more soundly. Her digestion improved, her eyes sparkled, and she had more energy to exercise and enjoy activities with friends and family.
Our ancestors lived in harmony with nature's changing seasons. In lieu of fancy spas and healing retreats, they relied on plants, prayer, and rituals to heal themselves. Today, we've lost our connection to that wisdom. The frenzied pace of the modern world, our increased exposure to environmental toxins, and a growing alienation from nature have caused most of us to fall out of alignment with an optimal state of health and happiness. But each new year brings another opportunity to perform the time-honored ritual of internal cleansing. Spring, which celebrates rebirth lasts approximately from March 15 to May 15 in the Ayurvedic calendar, is the perfect time for detoxification.
My formal Sanskrit education recently passed the one year mark, so I suppose it's time to share a bit of What I've Learned So Far. First let me say that before starting this weekly class last Fall, I spent 20 frustrating years trying on and (mostly) off to teach myself Sanskrit. I went through maybe three or four "teach-yourself-Sanskrit" primers, which for the most part were about as readable as Finnegans Wake. So if you have an irresistible urge to humble yourself with Sanskrit, take my advice and find a good tutor.
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In Tantric philosophy, the gunas, rajas, tamas, and sattva are  qualities of nature that come about as matter develops. They then go on to influence our entire lives. Each guna can be identified in us as a certain state of being. When one is rajasic, one tends to be activated, judgmental and heated.  When tamasic one tends to be lethargic, depressed, and lacking in self-confidence. When sattvic one becomes balanced, understanding and compassionate.
When we arrived at our first stop in India, the doctor who oversees the Ayurvedic clinic and spa for the Chennai Taj Hotel was most excited to meet us. He was thrilled that I was a Western teacher who knew about things like Ayurvedic assessments, Marma Adi and more. He gave us a lecture on the importance of daily Abhyanga, including a mini-variation of the technique that's easier and more accessible for many of us. I was so taken with it I'm now incorporating it into the grounding practice after daily meditation.
It's not too late to start over! Did you rise on January 1, 2012! with the best of intentions and then life just started to take over and you lost some steam? This is just a reminder that you can start your new year over anytime you want! In fact, it may feel more authentic to you to take this time now between the full moon and the upcoming new moon to reset your intentions. This is when the Chinese New Year is celebrated on the first new moon of the year.
, we were taught how to lead a ceremony. This particular ceremony's intention was to let go of grief from this past year; this could be the loss of a loved one, a job, or anything else which you chose to let go. Three days later on the autumnal equinox our cat died and I found myself holding ceremony for 24 hours which concluded with a full moon circle.
According to Chinese Medicine, the early fall is the time to watch for and prevent imbalances in the Lungs and Large Intestine. One of my favorite ways to soothe the lungs, especially as it begins to get cooler, is to drink lots of hot tea. Here is a great recipe from Rosemary Gladstar that includes many herbs you can find out in the wild or even in your own back yard.
I spent a great deal of time cooking for my herbal medicine class this week and last night I just wanted to go out to dinner, but options are REALLY limited when not eating cheese or wheat. We also live out in the country where we are limited by our restaurant choices as well. This is fine because I generally prefer to eat my own food. Every once in a while it is pleasant to eat somewhere else, but I am reminded that it not the case when cleansing. During a cleanse it is encouraged to prepare your own food.
Typically when eliminating or cutting down on foods from your diet, cleansing will help get you to your ideal weight. Whether this is your intention or not, this is generally what occurs. After almost two weeks of cleansing, I noticed ( and so have others ) that I have become lighter. This can be attributed to being more careful about the amount of food as well as the type of food in the diet. In my cleanse, I have eliminated wheat, soy and dairy. These foods are "damp" in the Chinese Medical Philosophy. They are Kapha as described in the Indian Ayurvedic Philosophy, meaning they are heavy, cold and wet.
Tomorrow I enter what I consider to the be the second half of my life. I will be halfway to seventy. Not that I think I will die at the young age of 70, but I might, and I want to feel like I have accomplished everything by 70. I hope to be able to enjoy my senior years with my family, students and sangha. I am thankful that I have found yoga and nutrition so early in life. I know this relationship to health has been integral in my life for the past 10 years and will continue to be ingrained in my soul for the rest of my days.
PeppermintWe have had a heat wave here in Central Virginia and it is peak growing season, so there is little time for rest during the daylight hours. All of a sudden, everything is growing with gusto ( including the weeds ) so you have to stay on top of your garden or July is overwhelming. We took some advice from a local herb farmer, who suggests harvesting your first herb crop now.
I always heard that people start to get allergies as they age and I all but prided myself on being such a picture of health that I "did not have allergies". But a young healthy woman in her teens and twenties SHOULD be healthy and free from allergies, right? This is the prime of your life. Honestly, if you want better health as you age, you must claim it for Yourself. Health is not something that is handed out to anyone on a Silver Platter.
From Vasant Lad's Yoga Journal Post: Unusual mental or physical exertion, stress, and lack of sleep can make people tired. Prevention in these cases simply requires self-observation. Sometimes it means not pushing the body and mind beyond its limits. Other times it means walking or doing some physical work to help increase the body's energy level.
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