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Sunday, December 19, 2010

My new daily routine


Yes I have a new daily routine. After spending the last 2 years trying to find a routine that suited me, starting one, sticking to it, not sticking to it (so Vata!) feeling bad about not doing it and then coming round again I have finally found sothing thati am sticking to and loving.  It is not the same as the Ayurvedic books promote or what I too have written about on this blog Dinacharya- The Ayurvedic Daily Routine. But it is what works for me and that is what Ayurveda is all about. We need to adapt the practises and principles of Ayurveda to suit our needs,  lives, and personalities. So that is what I have done and I am so happy and it really has become a part of me. It is something that brings me balance and peace. And did I say I am sticking to it!!

So this is what I now do, the changes I have made and why.

I have really gotten into meditation and this is responsible for the whole change in my routine and also by dedication to it.  Meditation is something I have done on and off for years now and have always loved and enjoyed but I have always had difficulty making it a regular part of my life. (Yes Vata at play again) But something has changed and I am now able to go deeper and have a much better understanding of what it's all about. I credit this to quite a few things:
  • The last 2 years spent changing my lifestyle and diet and paying more attention to the effects things have on my mind, body and spirit.
  • Ayurvedic massages and self massage - nourishing the body and mind with oils and TLC, plus activating the marmas to move blockages and increase prana.
  • Yoga - a great way to help to connect to the body and focus the mind.
  • Pranayama- unbelievable effect on the consciousness.
  • Some massive releases during meditations at the Harmony Centre. Using meditation practices taught at the Harmony Centre (a lot of chakra work, releasing, accepting and forgiving).
  • Reiki - working on my subtle energy, clearing blockages and increasing prana.
  • Listening to chants and mantras.
  • Surrounding myself with positive people.
  • Positive thinking.
  • Believing.
  • Accepting.
  • Forgiving.
  • Loving.

I now meditate in the morning and before bed. It is such a great way to start the day and a great way to finish.

So where does this all fit into my daily routine? What do I do?

As advised by all Ayurvedic texts and practitioners I go to the toilet and scrape my tongue as soon as I get out of bed.

Then I start the morning with yoga and pranayama. I find this a really good way to connect with my body and mind and prepare myself for meditation. I start with some basic exercises to wake myself up, get the prana running through me and warm up the muscles. I really love linking the breath with movements so I always move with the breath. I find this really help me to focus and stops the mind from wandering so much. Then I sit down at my meditation seat and do Nadi Shodhana or alternative nostril breathing. This really helps me to balance and I find I can meditate much better if I do this first.

All up it takes about and hour, or more if I get engrossed in one aspect of the practice. I no longer find it difficult to get up to do this because of the amazing benefits I feel from doing it. I am now going to bed earlier and feel more energised when I wake up so that too is helping.

As time is a factor in the morning I now bathe in the evening. I usually have baths now since my purchase of some lovely essential oils for my practice. I choose oils that relate to how I am feeling at that time add them to the bath lay back and let them work their magic. I find the bath a really helpful transition signal, it helps me to make the connection between the day ending and my wind down to bed and sleep beginning. It helps me to stop and relax. Now once I have had my bath I am in 'the zone' so to speak, my mind has moved into a calmer, quieter place and is already winding down. Meditation is easier and I fall to sleep very easily.

After the bath I sit down and meditate again. As in the morning I do Nadi Shodhana to begin with to centre myself. After that I go to bed and have a lovely sleep.

I have also set up a special meditation space. I have a little alter with some crystals and a statue and candle. I find it really helped me with motivation and it is now my sacred meditation space and when I sit there I am there to meditate. I had read about setting up a space many times before but never had but now that I have I can see the benefits in doing so. If you have a corner of a room that you could use that will now be disturbed then give it a go and see if it helps.

So have a look at  your life and yourself and create a routine that works for you. If you are more realistic about what you are capable of doing then you will have greater success. And as always small steps are a lot easier than leaps and bounds for most people. Start small and watch it grow and don't be too hard on yourself if you have a few bumps along the way. We lean more from our challenges after all. And if you are a vata like me know that it's going to be difficult to stick to at the beginning but also know once you pin the vata down it will actually love having a routine and enjoy the stability it brings.

 Good luck

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Grains

Bread, pasts, rice, cereal, cakes and biscuits. Wheat is everywhere in the western diet. We eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And we even snack on it between meals.  It's easy and its what we know. But more and more people are coming to realise that although we love it our bodies might not agree. Vatas in particular should not eat a lot of grains.  

Since studying Ayurveda I have really cut down on the amount of bread and pasta that I eat. When I do eat it I usually have gluten, wheat or yeast free. It was not easy to make the switch as I love bread but over time I have adjusted.

Pasta was easy and the gluten free or other alternatives to wheat are just as nice and I really can't notice the difference on taste or texture. But I do notice the effect they have on my body. I don't feel bloated, overly full after I eat pasta anymore.  

Bread was a lot more difficult and a  lot more experimentation was involved. The biggest issue I had was with sandwiches. The bread alternatives are just not good unless they are toasted, well that's what I have found anyway. Though I have been told there is now a new brand available that I fine to use as is, but yes apparently it is expensive. Another thing about these alternative breads, the prices are a little crazy! But if it means I can eat and not feel discomfort then I figure it's money well spent.  And as with all thing supply and demand always comes into play and the prices will come down, well I hope so anyway. So what I have been doing as alternatives to the good old sandwich is - wraps. They are so good. I usually have ones made from rice as they seem to be the best for me. If I do have bread it's usually for breakfast as toast and made from spelt. It's on the avoid list for vata but as I also have a lot of pitta it is OK occasionally. 

So it could be worth trying some alternatives, especially if you are a vata like me. You might be surprised and then thankful.

If you would like to know what grains are best for your dosha have a look at the food guidelines I have created for each dosha - vata, pitta and kapha. If you are not sure what your dosha is have a look at this post and you will very easily be able to work it out. So have a look and se what grains are best for you and what ones should be avoided. Give the ones on the avoid list a break for a few weeks and then reintroduce then and see what happens.  It will be an education from your body and from my experience very interesting. Your body is always telling you what it thinks, we just have to start tuning into it and paying it some attention. You will be thankful and those days of bloating, indigestion, gas or whatever other messages your body is sending you could well be a thing of the past. Good luck and happy eating

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Aloe Vera



Our gardens are full of medicine and healing, we just have to know where to look. Aloe Vera  is a great example of garden plant that is full of medicinal properties. It is easy to grow as it needs little water or maintenance. What more could you want?

Most of us are probably aware of it's ability to sooth the skin. It is very cooling so is great for skin conditions that result from high pitta such as acne and eczema. Apply it to the skin and you will feel it's soothing effects. If you have a rash, scar, wound, burn, psoriasis or stretch marks you can break a piece straight off the plant and rub it onto your skin. It works really well for mouth ulcers too.  No need for creams and lotions, just go straight to the source and get the pure ingredient. Mother Nature the original pharmacist has all the best ingredients!

But did you know you can also take it internally? Have a look in your local health food store and you will see Aloe Vera capsules and juice. Even supermarkets and convenience stores have Aloe Vera juice. Internally it is good for digestion and has a mild laxative effect. The bitter taste of Aloe helps with the regulation of blood sugar levels as it encourages the liver to release bile making Aloe a useful herb for the treatment of diabetes. Because of it's cooling properties pitta conditions such as hyperacidity, peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis and bleeding from the intestines can be alleviated. People suffering from skin conditions such as acne, eczema and ulcers, will also benefit from taking Aloe Vera internally.

There are two types of Aloe Vera available the gel and powder. The powdered form should not be used long term as it is highly purgative. Good for removing pitta but not something you should be taking for a long time. The gel form is much gentler and better for use over extended periods of time. Also be aware that  the cheap drinks available in the supermarkets they are heavily diluted and contain very  little Aloe Vera. Pure Aloe Vera drinks are very expensive and you will need to go to a health food store to find them.

Aloe is also used Ayurveda as a women's tonic. Aloe Vera helps the flow of blood in the body. This make it a great herb for the female reproductive system as it specifically  helps to regulate the uterus. Its cooling properties also make it helpful for women who are suffering from the hot and dry symptoms of menopause.

Although it might seem Aloe Vera is for pitta related illnesses it is also effective for reducing all doshas. It is also a wonderful vehicle for carrying medicines to all the tissues of the body. A true wonder herb!

* Do not use when pregnant or before and operation as it thins the blood.