English: Dhanvantari (धन्वंतरी), known as an a...


Where am I right now? In balance or off balance?  Here is a simple way to keep in touch with your current Ayurvedic condition.

  • Observe your stools
  • Observe your tongue
  • Observe your energy level
  • Observe your mood
  • Run through your body for pain or tenderness
  • Observe your appetite
  • Observe the taste in your mouth

 

Your stools should be light tan colour, about the consistency of a ripe banana and should float. Hard, dry or dark stools show that your vata is off, while loose stools indicate a pitta imbalance. Oily stools could be a kapha problem.


Your tongue should be clean and pink after you use your tongue scraper. If it is coated, you have toxins in your system.

 

Moving on to more subtle observations; notice whether your energy level is consistent. If you feel unusually wired or have uneven energy, your vata may be disturbed. If your energy feels intense, perhaps you are pitta imbalanced. If you feel heavy and sluggish, this could be a manifestation of kapha or of toxins.

 

 Now, notice your mood.  Anxious, nervous or spaced out? It sounds as if you have a vata imbalance. Irritable or frustrated? Pitta may be too high. Feeling like sitting around watching TV and snacking? You could have a kapha imbalance.

 

Next, checking through your body for pain or tenderness, you might notice low back pain or achey joints, a signal that vata is imbalanced. If you feel tenderness in your upper abdomen or are experiencing heartburn, it's time to think about pitta. Tight chest or sinus pain? Maybe kapha is disturbed. 

 

Considering appetite next, if you find you are skipping meals or forgetting to eat, this is another vata indication. On the other hand, if you are hungry all the time and craving sweets and starches, pitta is playing up. And if you have a low appetite, feel a bit nauseated, don't want breakfast and get sleepy after lunch, this is a good indication of a kapha imbalance.  

 

Take a moment to notice the taste in your mouth. Bitter could be vata, sour taste could be pitta and sweet or salty taste in the mouth could signal kapha issues.

 

With this self-check under your belt, you're well on the way to taking charge of your daily wellbeing. Work with your Ayurvedic practitioner to develop self-care strategies to use amid the daily fluctuations of vikriti, your current imbalance.

 

Turnip Sabji (Curried Turnips)

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Turnips.jpg

Swami's huge turnips.


This week Swami Paramananda visited Alandi Ashram from his mountain hermitage, bringing huge turnips, which he cultivated at 10,500 feet.  Here is the recipe we created!

 

Serves 12 as a side dish

Ingredients:

 

3 lb turnip

2 lb red potatoes

The greens from the turnip (or 1 bunch kale)

3 roma tomatoes

2" fresh ginger

1 hot green chilli

1 tsp brown mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 pinch hing (asafoetida)

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp amchur or mango powder (optional)

1 Tbsp sunflower oil

Handful cilantro, chopped

 

Preparation:

 

·      Cut potatoes and turnip into half-inch cubes. Chop greens. Finely chop ginger and chillies.

·      Heat oil in cast iron wok on medium high and drop in mustard seeds. When seeds turn grey and pop, immediately turn down heat, add cumin seeds and then hing and salt.

·      Now add the ginger and chillies, and fry until they brown. 

·      Add the ground coriander, turmeric, garam masala and amchur. 

·      Turn heat up, add the tomatoes and cook until they soften.

·      Add turnip and potatoes and stir until they are thoroughly coated with the spices.

·      Now add the greens and half a cup of water, put on lid and allow to sauté. Stir from time to time, adding more water if needed to prevent sticking. This sabji should be moist but not watery, so only add enough water to allow it to sauté but not enough to create a watery sauce as this is a dry sabji. 

·      Keep cooking until potatoes and turnip are tender. Add the cilantro and serve.

Menu Suggestion: Serve with Cleansing Kitcheri and Plum Chutney

 

 P1070228.jpg

 

Lord of Ayurveda,Dhanvantari

Lord of Ayurveda,Dhanvantari (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever wondered why you tend to run late and often feel rushed? Ever wished you could be more easygoing, yet know you typically strive for perfection?  Ever puzzled about your slowness? As you come to understand your Ayurvedic constitution, you will gain a fresh understanding of what makes you tick.


If you are vata, you may have a hard time budgeting either time or money; trying to run around to too many places too quickly, or impulse-buying things you don't really need. If you are pitta, you may have noticed that you have high ideals and expect a lot of yourself. If you are kapha, you may find that although you have plenty of stamina, it can take you a while to get going. When I was in school, I always wished I was one of the big, strong athletic girls with long thick hair.  At the same time, many of those girls probably wished they were me and could excel in study. As we come to understand our constitution, instead of wishing to be different, we can learn to enjoy who we are--with a touch of humour--and seek out the things that will balance and support us.

 

If we are vata, we can take delight in our creativity and sense of fun. At the same time, we can find ways to slow down, relax and create routine and structure. Recognizing that we tend to be nervous and anxious, we can find simple ways, such as oil massage, to soothe our system.  If we are pitta, we can appreciate our high ideals and desire for excellence, while making space in our lives for some cooling gentleness with ourselves. Irritability and frustration may seem to be an inevitable part of our lives, but often all we need is a little self-nurturance, like taking time to sip a cup of brahmi tea.  And if we are kapha we can enjoy our calm, steady and nurturing qualities while remembering to find opportunities for challenge and change. Understanding that we tend to become sluggish or stuck, we can make sure to plan some yoga classes, brisk walks and other strategies to get us going.

 

So many of our problems come from wishing to be like someone else! With the added self-awareness that we get from understanding our Ayurvedic constitution, rather than trying to be different, we can enjoy being who we are.


Quick online quizzes give only a vague idea of prakriti. Without expert guidance, it is easy to confuse longstanding imbalances with inherent constitution, or to go with the constitution you wished you had rather than the genuine one. An Ayurvedic practitioner can help you determine your prakriti and take charge of your wellness through using your knowledge of prakriti to gain greater self-awareness and understanding.


The three dosha's and the 5 great elements the...

The three doshas and the 5 great elements they are composed from (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Knowing your prakriti or Ayurvedic constitution offers many benefits. Although you will often read or hear of the one diet or the one exercise program that is ideal for everyone, Ayurveda offers the consideration that people are different and have different needs. The diet that worked for your best friend could be harmful for you. By knowing your constitution, you are in a position to tailor your diet, exercise, daily supplemental Ayurvedic herbs, massage oils and other aspects of life to your individual needs.


Your constitution can give you important clues about your relationship to the seasons. For instance, if you are vata, autumn is likely to be your most challenging season. So it could be important to do warm oil massages and take Ashwagandha at that season. If you are pitta, summer brings the most challenges, while if you are kapha, you will need to take extra care in winter and spring.


  Your constitution also tells you about your sensitive time of day. From two to six in the morning and afternoon are sensitive for vata, who can get very stressed and anxious at these times.  The times around midnight and noon are dangerous for pitta events such as anger outbursts or midnight snacking.  And sleeping after sunrise or eating heavily in the evening can make kapha sluggish and slow.


Knowledge of your constitution can assist in your relocation plans, your career choices and your clothing and décor selections. For example, Vata is dry and if relocating should choose a moist climate.  Kapha will become lazy in a repetitive job and pitta should avoid choosing bright red clothing or décor with hot colours.


These are just few of the many benefits of knowing our constitution.  Ayurveda, like the Oracle at Delphi, offers us a great invitation: "Know thyself!"


Quick online quizzes give only a vague idea of prakriti. Without expert guidance, it is easy to confuse longstanding imbalances with inherent constitution, or to go with the constitution you wished you had rather than the genuine one. An Ayurvedic practitioner can help you determine your prakriti and create lifestyle habits that support your wellbeing, based upon knowledge of constitution.


Fall tips for vata, pitta and kapha

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10385363_846215358752213_2219632091799055792_n.jpg


Photo by Sadananda from https://www.flickr.com/photos/alandiashram/sets/



Fall is here with all the joys of autumn leaves, crisp apples and harvest time. Yet it also brings change-of-season sniffles, aches and pains and insomnia. For vata, fall can be the most challenging time of year. Support your health with warming Trinity Tea, made from Tulsi, fresh ginger and turmeric. This tea fights off viruses, calms vata and is anti-inflammatory for aches and pains. Massage your body with sesame oil and take a warm ginger bath.  And enjoy soups and kitcheri seasoned with vata soothing spices such as cumin, ginger and cinnamon.
Tulsi Flower

Tulsi Flower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


For pitta, fall provides a welcome relief from summer heat. Yet cold weather brings its own challenges, as the fire we built up all summer long internalizes in our body. To prevent inflammatory illnesses such as strep throat during the winter, take advantage of fall to cleanse out old pitta with triphala or amlaki tea before bed. You may also experience some vata symptoms such as restlessness or backache during vata season. In that case, you too can enjoy Tulsi, ginger and turmeric tea as well as doing self massage with warm sunflower oil.


As for kapha, fall is the time to prepare for winter kapha season with the attendant colds, flu and bronchitis. Using cleansing herbs such as triphala will help remove the toxins which feed winter respiratory infections, while warming blends like trikatu will also help by burning away toxins. And the magical tulsi, ginger and turmeric tea will help you as well by inducing sweating and helping remove kapha toxins. If you develop vata aches and pains during fall season, rub on mustard oil or castor oil and take a hot ginger bath.


And of course, if you get the opportunity to do an Ayurvedic cleanse, known as Pancha Karma, fall is the perfect time. A fall pancha karma can be a key factor in preventing winter ailments. An Ayurvedic practitioner can help you plan a home cleanse or treatments with a pancha karma therapist.


With the support of Ayurvedic teas, spices and massage oils, you can enjoy the beauties and richness of autumn and minimize the discomforts.


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This is a right brained recipe--let your eyes and taste buds guide you!

 

Chokecherries

Crab apples (about 1/3 the volume of the chokecherries)

Plums (about 1/2 the volume of crab apples)

Jaggery or raw sugar

Raisins or currants

Ginger

Jalapeno Pepper

Cumin

Coriander

Fennel

Star Anise

Cardamom

Cinnamon

Salt

 

1.Boil chokecherries with a little water.

2.Cut up crab apples, and plums, removing cores and stones (pits)

3.  Stew crab apples and plums

4.Mash chokecherries with potato masher, stain through large sieve, add liquid to stewing crab apples and plums.

5. Repeat step 4 for a total of four times until all good stuff is extracted from chokecherries.

6. Add raisins or currant and sugar or jaggery to fruit mix and gently let it cook, stirring well to prevent burning. It will become jam-like.

7. Chop ginger and chillies, grind spices.

8. Heat ghee in a pan and make a tarkar by frying the spices, ginger and chillies.

9. Add to jam mix.

10. Add a little salt to bring out the flavours.

11. Offer to God and Guru.

12. Taste....you may need to add more sweetener to offset the sourness!

13. Serve with rice& dal, kitcheri

Ode to Olena: A Love Song to Turmeric

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[Note: this poem is best when read aloud.

Its composition was inspired by Daniel Sullivan and Dr. Vaidya]



Turmeric


There is hysteria in America over Too-meric.

Also known as turrmeric; have you heard of it?

 

It is a rhizome -- meaning lateral shoots, horizontal roots.

Native to the most ancient of India, the Vedic sages there named her Haridra.

 

She is known to grow all over Africa,

as well as locales around Latin America.

 

On the Hawaiian Islands, her name is Olena. Bright yellowish Orange,

she dyes saints' robes, makes fine paint, and tints her sisters saris gold.

 

Yes she'll stain every thing in reach -- all that is, except teeth. Weirdly, these she

whitens, healing gum diseases with the anti-inflammatory qualities of a titan.

 

Have we mentioned her many antioxidant, antiviral,

antitumor, antibacterial activities?

 

Curcuma longa in Latin, consumed daily she frees the body from pain.

Curcumin detoxes Rakta, loves up the liver, kidneys, oxygenates the brain.

 

No herb is more studied, and these studies suggest

the herb resists Alzheimer's, cures cancers, and puts arthritis to rest.

 

Clean blood means cleaner skin.

Brides-to-be bathe in the Haldi, expose the Goddess within.

 

Pungent and bitter, she melds every flavor together.

Olena is most potent combined with fats and black pepper.

 

Drying and light, she warms on digestion.

Soothing kapha and vata, she is Queen beyond question.

 

Thus, and as such,

You're invited to invite


the blessèd Spice of Life into all of your bodies.

Turmeric can help you unclog subtle nadis.


Olena removes all negative vibes,

Helping build healthy, golden, elongated lives.

 

Whether ingested or topical, root, powder or pill,

just get her in you, and be happier, you will.



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This recipe originates from Yamuna Devi's book Lord Krishna's Cuisine but has been modified into a lower carb version and with cooking instructions for altitude as well as a way not to turn the cauiflwer to mush.


English: Cauliflower Ελληνικά: Κουνουπίδι

English: Cauliflower Ελληνικά: Κουνουπίδι (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Serves: 9

 

Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice
1 medium to large cauliflower, washed, dried and cut into flowerets
1 pinch of hing (asafetida)
1 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon shredded fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon minced seeded hot chilies (or as desired)
2 tablespoon cumin seeds

2 t turmeric
1 cup split mung dal (or split peas)
1 cup fresh green peas
7 cups water
2 teaspoons salt

Ghee or Clarified Butter

Ghee or Clarified Butter (Photo credit: Chiot's Run)



Method

  1. Clean, wash, soak and drain rice and dal.
  2.  Have the hing ready next to the stove. Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a 4-5 quart saucepan over high heat. When it is hot, stir in ginger root, chilies and cumin seeds. Fry until the cumin seeds turn brown. (they will darken in seconds).
  3.  Quickly add the hing. Add the rice and dal and fry for about 1 minute. Next, if living close to sea level, cook the rice and dal in a heavy-bottomed 4-5 quart saucepan for about 45 minutes, stirring frequently, until the texture is similar to oatmeal. Add more water as needed.  If living at altitude, cook the spiced rice and dal in a pressure cooker for 45 minutes, until the texture is similar to oatmeal. Ad more water if needed.
  4. Meanwhile, steam the cauliflower florets and thaw the frozen peas.
  5. Take the rice and dal mix off pressure, if using a pressure cooker. Add the turmeric, cauliflower, peas and salt. Cook together for a few minutes, stirring frequently, but do not allow the cauliflower to turn to mush or the peas to turn yellowish.
  1. Serve with ghee, yoghurt, and a flatbread. A vegetable dish or a raita may be served alongside this dish.

 

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Compliance: A Poem by Joanna Lukach

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In the process of reflecting on her experiences at the Alandi Ayurveda Clinic this semester, student Joanna Lukach composed this poem. Enjoy!

English: Terrace garden, Woodstock, Inistioge,...

English: Terrace garden, Woodstock, Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny. Serpentine patterns of gravel path lined by box hedges. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Compliance

I sit and watch two souls emerge.

Each having a path that is laid of pebbles, sand,
and grit;

Earth Mother in each.

The composition of former generations, grandparents, animals, trees,

And all that ever existed;

Compressed.

Influenced by thoughts, energies, and lessons of
long ago

Walking this path

Holding their own.

Two souls surface

Trembling

Scared

And unsure.

With dust, fumes, loose gravel from the past, and

Particles afloat.

The reflection of self in each other's eyes.

The paths merge as one;

Compliance for both;

Never assumed as only one.

Hearing to understand each other;

Not to reply.

Slowly the dust settles

The veil is dropped.

I sit and watch two souls emerge.
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Empathy and Compliance

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          Reflections on the Clinic Experience

Lord of Ayurveda,Dhanvantari

Lord of Ayurveda,Dhanvantari (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

            Amid the vast swirl of new information I've been working and playing with during these first eight weeks studying Ayurvedic medicine at Alandi, the clinic experience has been the most profoundly affecting. 

Observing and interacting with patients on a regular basis provides grounding and human context for the timeless theory and Sanskrit vocabulary, which might otherwise tend towards academic abstraction. I have gleaned many useful facts and practical principles so far, but here I will focus on the broader issues that are making an impression on me.

One fundamental point I've observed (and experienced) in these sessions is that the presenting health concern is often a secondary or even tertiary issue. Many people are simply craving to be truly seen and heard.

It seems that a person's innate capacity for self-healing is activated by the attentive presence of the practitioner, through the exchange of deep listening and empathetic response. This process allows the more subtle causes of dis-ease to emerge and become self-evident to the patient. 

In being that clear mirror, the practitioner creates an opportunity for the patient to notice patterns and connections that were previously invisible to them. On its own, such awareness can stimulate positive shifts within a person.

IBM CIO Report: Key Findings

The other major issue I had not previously considered is that of compliance

In an imaginary, ideal world, healing is a clean process where expert diagnosis leads to a prescription for herbs and adjustments to diet and lifestyle. Then, we simply wait for the patient to return with reports of steady improvement.  

This obviously skips over the most crucial step -- that is, the patient actually doing what is asked. 

Ayurveda requires a certain level of dedication and willingness to do whatever it takes in order to be effective. By this measurement, not everyone is qualified for Ayurvedic treatment. 

Clearly, some individuals are more comfortable with their disease than with the procedures for treating it, and would therefore prefer to remain ill rather than venture outside their comfort zone.

This is mostly an unconscious choice. Deeply ingrained patterns of behavior are powerful forces. Just because a person is seeking healing on the surface doesn't necessarily mean they are able to comply with the changes prescribed. 

With this in mind, it has been valuable to observe Ma as she gently "coaxes" compliance from patients. Some people need more stern instructions, while others do well with some flexibility. Some folks are eager to do everything all at once, while others can only introduce one thing at a time. 

Knowing a person's mental and physical constitution is helpful, but coaxing is more art than science, and involves a good deal of intuitive feeling into the situation to know what is realistic, and what is asking too much.

Smoking Intuition

Smoking Intuition (Photo credit: Callt_o)

Finally, I will note how humbling it is to sit in clinic. It is a regular reminder that everyone is fighting unseen battles and should therefore be treated with the gentlest of care. 

It is a very powerful experience to have someone bare their deepest traumas, share their oldest secrets and express their greatest hopes and fears with the hope that you can help them. It is a responsibility not to be taken lightly, and serves as inspiration for me to learn as much as possible as fast as possible so as to actually be able to help. 

There is also a dampening effect as I realize that we can't possibly help everyone to the extent that we would like, that each person must take responsibility for their own healing, and all we can do is offer the best guidance we can and pray the rest will unfold in the most benevolent manner possible. 

This is heartbreaking, but then again, a heart must break in order to be open, and as we've seen, an open heart is truly the most potent medicine available to us.



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