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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Slowing down


Slow down and listen to your body. This was the message from my pranayama (yogic breath awareness)  teacher Sindar Kaur today. Often we are too busy to take the time to check in with how we are feeling or what our feelings mean. Other times we push them aside because we don't want to deal with them or simply don't notice.  It's the same with our bodies. How often do we push on when we are tired, keep eating when we are full or not listen to injuries? 

So what can we do? How can we slow down and pay attentionThe answer is simple - yoga. Do yoga and do it with the intention of slowing down and becoming aware of what you are feeling, thinking and doing. Don't just go through the motions, be present and pay attention. Ask yourself how you are feeling, observe what you are thinking. 

Yoga is far more than physical exercise, it is a spiritual practice that allows us to gain a better understanding of who we are. It is a way for us to get in touch with our bodies. Not just on a physical level but also on emotional level as well. If we do our practice with the intention to develop a better understanding of who we are, then we will become better at reading the signs that we are sent each day. Some signs will be nice and clear, while others my take a lot longer to understand. But don't let that put you off. Over time it will become easier as your awareness deepens and becomes more instinctive. 

Yoga also gives us space and stillness which enables us to see what is happening more easily. It slows us down. This is something that we all need a little more of in our lives. When we do yoga we are taking the time to be with ourselves and it gives us a chance to take in everything that is gong on in our lives. Sindar cautioned however, against trying  to sort things out once we become aware of them. She said it is much better to sit with ourself and listen to our inner wisdom. Our inner voice is often overshadowed and drained out by the much louder and dominant intellect. She said that we should not come to conclusions intellectually based on what we have been told but to listen to our heart. Pretty good advice if you ask me.  She also said that things will arise that will be uncomfortable. We may feel confused or restless but that is not a bad thing. It's just your body speaking and cleansing itself. 

So use yoga and meditation as a way to bring stillness to your life and come back to your true self. It's like an awakening. You will notice and learn more about yourself and develop a deeper understanding of who you really are.  It may not always be pretty or easy to face but if we do face the bad as well as the good we will be able to move forward and release all that does not serve us well.  There's no need to judge or criticise, we all have faults and issues.  Just acknowledge what is and listen and make changes that will help you in a healthy positive way. 

So take the time to be still and aware of what is, who you are, where your going and where you've been. And always be gentle with yourself. Do this and you will find your days will be a brighter and easier.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Consultations and massages


As I mentioned a few weeks back I have found a clinic to start my practice. I will be working every Sunday and Saturday at the Balmain Centre for Holistic Health. I hope that if you are enjoying reading my blog and live locally you will come along and see how I can help you on a more personal level. I will be able to give you advice design a program specifically for your current imbalances and dosha.
For information about Ayurveda have a look at my page What is Ayurveda?

The massage
All people, their needs, desires and conditions are the results of the life they have lead, so Ayurveda approaches each person and their treatment as an individual.   The first consultation is very involved and will cover all aspects of your persons life. Diet, nutrition, digestion, exercise, work, stress, relationships, relaxation, sleep patterns, medical history, habits and routines will all be examined. From this information I will develop a daily routine, diet and lifestyle plan designed to help return you to your natural state of balance. 

Following each consultation will be a full body warm oil massage to help balance and rejuvenate your entire system. What more could your body and mind wish for? 

Please note that Saturdays are by appointment only.

To find out more click here 
call or text me on 0431297010
or send a message to antheasayurveda@gmail.com

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spring - New season, New approach

With the change of seasons comes a new way of life.  Ayurveda has different approaches to each season so that we can life in harmony with the new temperatures, lifestyle changes and diets that accompany each season. Some things we naturally do, such as, eating a lighter diet of salads and fruit, but others are not so obvious.

Ayurveda believes our bodies are a living microcosom of the Universe. So everything that exists in the universe exists within us. With this in mind our bodies reflect the changes of the environment we live in, so as the spring melts the snow on the land, the new warm weather melts all the mucus that has developed in our bodies over the winter.  One of the first things we need to do is rid ourselves of all this kapha and ama (toxins) that has built up in our systems over the cold, damp months of winter.

So how do we do this? As always with Ayurveda we create balance and reduce excesses by increasing the opposite qualities. So, as Kapha is made up of water and earth and is damp, heavy and static, we need to reduce these qualities by focusing on food and lifestyle choices that are dry, warm, light and active. Sounds just like spring to me!

So lets have a look at some useful tips of things to do and things to avoid as the weather starts to heat up.

  • Avoid foods and drinks that are heavy, cold and oily. For example, dairy, fried and fatty food, cold/icy drinks, nuts, bread, pasta and avocados. Favour things that are light, warm. Have a look at the food guidelines charts that relate to your dosha (ayurvedic constitution) vatapitta and kapha. , they give you an extensive list of foods, drinks, herbs and spices that reduce and aggravate each constitution. Each document is 4 pages long and designed to be bookmarked or printed and kept for easy reference. Pay careful attention to the kapha column and see what you should be avoiding and favouring at this time of year. (If your not sure of your dosha/constitution click here to find out)
  • Taste is a very important factor in balancing our doshas (kapha, pitta, vata). Too mush of one can increase certain elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth) and other tastes will reduce them. In spring we need to include bitter, astringent and pungent tastes in our diet as these tastes have dry qualities as there is no water within their energetic compositions.  Sour, sweet and salty tastes are considered to be damp as they have the qualities of water and earth so will work against you and create more of what you are trying to reduce.  
  • Warming  herbs and spices are great now especially ginger and black pepper. But of course be careful if you have a lot of pitta in your constitution. 
  • Unfortunately for some, although coffee and alcohol are heating they are not advisable at this time of the year.
  • Increase warm water. A very simple yet effective way to improve your health.
  • After meals drink some tea made from ginger, black pepper and cinnamon. 
  • Honey in hot water is very balancing for kapha. Be careful not to boil the honey, add it to the water after it has been heated. Ayurveda believes that honey becomes toxic if it is heated. You should therefore check the label when you buy it and only buy honey that has not been heated in the production process. 
  • Tea of cumin, coriander and fennel in equal proportions.
  • A great bitter herb is dandelion and has the added benefit of being a great detoxifier, so perfect for the time of the year.
  • Dry skin brushing and massage are great for improving circulation, stimulating prana (energy) and the lymphatic system. 
  • Exercise  -  Get out doors, get moving and shake off the winter. Get up in the morning and go for a run, swim, surf or do some yoga. On the weekends go hiking, or for a ride in the countryside on your bike. Join a gym, take up a sport find something that you enjoy that is physical and include it in your life.
  • Yoga - Asanas that are good for kapha are anything that is energising, so a few rounds of sun salutations would be great. Follow this up with other kapha reducing poses such as fish, lion, boat, bow, loctus, and camel. A vinyasa  class with it's flow from pose to pose and constant movement would be good to keep the prana or energy flowing through the body and further help the elimination process along. 
  • Spring is a natural time for the liver to emotionally cleanse itself. Meditation is a very powerful cleansing and balancing practice it give us the patience, awareness and calmness to deal with issues as they arise.  If you do not have a meditation practice it is the perfect time to embrace one   The spring mornings are warmer, it's much easier to get out of bed and you will feel the positive effects in so many ways so try to make part of your daily routine. Start with 5 minutes, and be gentle with yourself. Observe your thoughts without judgement and focus on your breath.   
  • Pranayama and focused breathing. Make it part of your yoga and meditation practice. As the name implies it's a great method for increasing prana. You will feel more energised and balanced as a result.
  • Book yourself into a day of pampering by a qualified therapist.
  • Go on a retreat.
  • Do a cleanse. I highly recommend the gallbladder/liver cleanse I did recently but there are plenty of alternatives out there. Just make sure you do your research first.  
  • Scape your tongue. I can't talk enough about how benifical this is for removing toxins from your body on a daily basis. See for yourself what you remove each day and it will become as important as brushing our teeth. 

As always listen to your body and pay attention to what nature is giving us. Eat in season and you will never go wrong.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tongue cleaning

If you take the time to examine your tongue upon waking you will notice a coating that will vary from day to day.  You may also notice that the coating is thick one day and thin the next, white one day and brown the other.  This is because when we are sleeping our stomach is busy digesting all the food we have eaten during the day and in particular in the evening. As the tongue is an extension of the gut, the bacteria and toxic substances that result from this process can be found on the tongue every morning.  Scraping and cleaning the tongue is a very important part of the ayurvedic daily routine as it cleans the tongue of these toxins or ama,  and bacteria so that they do not return to the stomach and re-enter your system. 

Cleaning the tongue is a very simple process and should be done first thing in the morning before eating or drinking to remove the coating accumulated during the night. It is also advisable to repeat the process after brushing your teeth at night  before going to bed. To scrape the tongue simply place the tongue scraper at the back of the tongue and pull it gently along the tongue. Try to start as far bak as possible and make sure you finish by pulling the scraper off the tip of the tongue to make sure all of the tongue is cleaned. It will usually take a few strokes to cover the whole tongue. You will need to position the scraper in the middle then on the either side to make sure the whole tongue has been cleaned. 

A metal tongue scraper like the one in the picture is best. Many toothbrushes now have tongue cleaners but they are not advisable as they do not scrape the toxins/bacteria off the tongue but simply move them around. They are also made of plastic and are not as effective as metal. 

Other benefits of cleaning the tongue include, the reduction of bad breath, an increase in the sense of taste, activation of digestion and a decrease in plaque. Once you start cleaning our tongue you will notice how much cleaner and fresher you mouth feels and become a little more aware of how your body is reacting to the life you are living. Enjoy!