Fall tips for vata, pitta and kapha

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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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Thyroid Disorders

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by Alakananda Devi (Alakananda Ma), M.B., B.S. (Lond.)

An overview of thyroid diseases
The thyroid is an endocrine gland situated in the neck at the level of the cricoid cartilage at the base of the larynx and extending from the level of the fifth cervical vertebra down to the first thoracic. It is butterfly shaped with 2 elongated lateral lobes with superior and inferior poles connected by a median isthmus. The gland contains two hormones, L-thyroxine (tetraiodothyronine, T4) and L-triiodothyronine (T3). Affecting between one and two percent of the population worldwide, thyroid disease is among the most common endocrine disorders. Thyroid disorders and thyroid cancer disproportionately affect women.

Skin Inflammation

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by Alakananda Devi (Alakananda Ma), M.B., B.S. (Lond.)

Skin inflammations are quite common conditions, with atopic dermatitis or eczema affecting 10-20% of all children and 1-3% of adults (1) and psoriasis affecting between 2 and 2.6% of the US population. The prevalence of atopic dermatitis has doubled or tripled in industrialized countries during the past three decades. The visible and often disfiguring nature of skin inflammations leads to far greater levels of distress and depression than would be experienced with a more severe but less disfiguring condition. (2) Because a number of patients are suspicious of cortisone creams prescribed for them by their family practitioner or dermatologist, they may frequently present for Ayurvedic care as an alternative.

According to Ayurveda, skin has seven layers, corresponding to the seven dhatus. Similarly, in modern physiology, skin has been found to have seven layers, stratum corneum, on the surface, stratum lucidum, stratum granulosum, stratum spinosum, stratum basale, the basement membrane and the dermis. (For a diagram of the seven layers of the skin, click here.) At the same time, the epidermis of the skin, as whole, is seen as an upadhatu of rasa dhatu, and the dermis as part of mamsa dhatu. Skin belongs to bahya marga, the external pathway of disease, and as such is very vulnerable to toxins carried by rasa and rakta dhatus during the prasara stage of disease, accounting for the relatively common nature of skin inflammations.

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Sinus Infections

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by Alakananda Devi (Alakananda Ma), M.B., B.S. (Lond.)

Aetiology
In the Ayurvedic approach to sinusitis, exposure to an infective agent such as pathogenic bacteria is just one factor in the development of the illness. Of far greater significance is the build up of excess doshas in the body, due to incorrect diet and lifestyle. Once excess doshas have built up and become prevalent due to repeated errors in daily regimen, they are readily carried by vata upwards to the head, where they lodge in any weak spot, creating acute illness. Unfortunately, due to today's polluted environment, the integrity of the mucus membranes of the nasal sinuses is under constant attack. Thus weakened, the sinuses are particularly vulnerable to invasion by provoked doshas. It is the unwholesome situation created by a combination of weakened sinuses, accumulation of doshas and build-up of ama or toxins in the body that provides a fertile ground for the multiplication of pathogens.

Sinusitis, as an inflammatory condition, always involves some component of pitta, the fiery humour. However, provocation of either vata or kapha within the sinuses can give rise to pitta irritation of the mucous membranes. Sinus infections thus can be regarded as either vata, pitta or kapha in nature, each type having specific causative factors and symptoms.

Silent Bladder Infections

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by Alakananda Devi (Alakananda Ma), M.B., B.S. (Lond.)

Silent bladder infections, also known as asymptomatic bacteruria, may result in generalized ill health or may lead to acute cystitis or to pyelonephritis, a potentially life-threatening kidney infection. Hence it is important to appreciate the groups affected by silent bladder infection, as well as how to make an Ayurvedic diagnosis of this condition and give appropriate chikitsa.

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