Category Archives: Health

How ayurveda can be supportive in the changing times of Autumn

Hi gorgeous ones!

I am working on a post to update you on the progress I am making on Monet’s garden, but I feel an urgency to get this information out to you first, so here goes. Today we went to the Diggers Club Harvest Festival. It was a lovely day out for me, celebrating the end of summer and embracing the harvest that comes at this time of year. I noticed that the weather was very typical of autumn – cold and windy. And I noticed that because of this weather, some of my family members did not enjoy it as much.

From an ayurvedic perspective, autumn is the time of heightened vata. Vata is the quality of air and space. If we think of the qualities of Vata, they are dry, rough, light, cold, subtle and mobile. We see these qualities in the weather and we can also see them mirrored within ourselves.

If we look at individuals who have a predominantly vata constitution, we will notice things like:

  • Thin and bony build.
  • Either very tall or very short.
  • Skin and hair is dry.
  • A variable appetite, one moment feeling ravenously hungry, the next, forgetting to eat.
  • Poor digestion, prone to constipation.
  • Very fast and erratic speech and quick moving movements.
  • Very light sleepers that are prone to insomnia.

If we look at celebrities, someone like Kate Moss comes to mind. She is very thin and light. You almost get a sense that she will float away. That is vata. Like the air – light and mobile.

From an ayurvedic perspective, the best way to support any element is to give it the opposite. Like attracts like. Imagine a glass of cold water, if we put it in the freezer, it will freeze. The quality of cold will be even colder. But, if we put that water in the kettle and bring it to a boil, it will warm up.

I find ayurveda so empowering, because I am learning that I can stop an imbalance from taking a deeper hold within me, by understanding which dosha is imbalanced and taking steps to overcome the imbalance.

If you find that you struggle with weather that is cold and windy, you may have strong vata in your constitution. It is my secondary constitution, so I have to make a real effort to keep it balanced. It is also the first dosha to go out, so even if it is not your primary constitution, it is most likely affecting you.

A few ways to know whether your vata is out of balance: *

  • Overly active thinking.
  • Restless, cannot sit still.
  • Inclined toward fear, anxiety and depression.
  • Feeling spacey and ungrounded.
  • Feeling emotionally delicate.
  • Quick to judge or make decisions.
  • Disorganised.
  • Tend to procrastinate.
  • Moody and emotionally volatile.
  • Interrupt or zone out in conversation.
  • Impatient.
  • Arthritis.
  • High or low blood pressure.
  • Cracking or popping joints.
  • Muscle stiffness.
  • Headaches.
  • Insomnia.
  • Constipation.
  • Gas and bloating.
  • Low energy, depleted life force.

So, what can we do to support ourselves when our vata is out of balance:

  • Vata is dry: This means that we need to give it moisture. Foods that are dry are very agitating to vata. Think of things like crackers, salads and packet chips.
  • Vata is light: This means that it needs lots of grounding. Think of things like connecting to the earth and being in the body. Since vata governs the mind, we tend to become very “heady” when vata is too active. We need to take active steps to come back into the body. My most favourite way is through ayurvedic self massage, which I wrote about here. It is the number one thing that has helped my vata.
  • Vata is cold: This means that it needs warmth. We need to make an effort to eat warm foods. Lots of soups, afternoon tea and hugs, lots and lots of hugs. Vata needs LOVE. My recipe for chai tea for PMS, is not only for PMS. If you haven’t seen it, you can get it here. Have a cup every night before bed, it will make a world of difference, I promise.
  • Vata is mobile: This means that it needs stability and routine. Vata really settles down when we follow a regular daily routine. When we rise with the sun, eat our meals at the same time each day and live in a peaceful environment, vata is able to express itself in a healthy way through creativity, flexibility and healthy communication.

I think that a really quick and simple (but not always easy) way to pacify vata is to come back into the body through the breath. Just taking a few deep breaths brings us right back into the body.

Try it now. Sit upright, place your hands on your belly. Feel into your belly and take ten deep, conscious breaths into there.

Do you feel better? More grounded? Simple, yes. Like I said, not always the easiest thing to remember to do when our mind is all over the place :).

Perhaps you can start a ritual and have a cup of warm chai before bed? Or some morning ama buster?

Whatever you do, just be kind to yourself. Like I said, vata needs love and I am sending lots and lots of it your way. You are doing extremely well and should be so proud of yourself. Making any effort to nourish yourself and take care of you can only benefit you and the world around you. We can only change ourselves, we do not need to carry any responsibility to save the world. Just loving ourselves is enough, the rest just naturally ripples out.

I hope that something has inspired you here.

I would love to know if you have any things that you do to support you when it is autumn or when you are feeling ungrounded? Please share, I am sure that it can inspire many people.

Blessings to you.

Would you like to subscribe to the Peaceful Mothering newsletter? Join the Peaceful Mothering tribe and get Olga’s updates. Click here.

*Yarema, Rhoda and Brannigan

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Hot water and lemon: Recipe for busting Ama.

Hi gorgeous ones!

Today I thought I would share my morning drink with you. We all know that drinking hot water with lemon is really good for us. It cleanses the system and acts as a great detoxifier.

I have been drinking it for many years, thinking I was doing a great thing for myself. But when I spoke to Sarah, my Ayurvedic lifestyle consultant, she told me that drinking only lemon with water is way too acidic for the body. She has given me a much more balanced, Ayurvedic recipe, which I have been drinking for over 6 months now and I feel a lot better for it.

IMG_0201Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Boiling water
  • Fresh ginger
  • Fresh lemon
  • Fennel seeds
  • Raw honey

Method:

  • Upon waking, boil a kettle with filtered water.
  • While the kettle is boiling, chop up, or grate a nice big chunk of fresh ginger. Add to a teapot.
  • Add half a teaspoon of fennel seeds to the teapot.
  • Pour boiling water into the teapot and add a few squeezes of lemon while it’s brewing.
  • Allow to brew for about 5 minutes.
  • Strain tea into a cup and add a spoon of raw honey.
  • Drink as much as you like, first thing in the morning, before your breakfast.

There are many good things about this which I would love to share:

  • According to Sarah, this is the best Ama buster to have in the morning. What is Ama, you may ask? According to Ayurveda, it is undigested food residue that lodges itself within the organs and channels of the body. There is no real equivalent in the west, a basic understanding is that it is toxins in the body. However, Ama is greater than just toxins in the body, it extends further out into the mind and spirit. If you are wondering if you have Ama, have a look at your tongue. If you see a white coating on your tongue, you are directly observing Ama accumulation. Here are a few other signs that you may have an excess build up of Ama*:
  • You feel a sense of blockage in the body, such as constipation or congestion.
  • You feel foggy in the morning.
  • You feel weak for no apparent reason.
  • You feel lethargic and unmotivated.
  • You feel the need to cough regularly.
  • You become exhausted really easily – physically and mentally.
  • You feel depressed.
  • The combination of ginger, lemon, honey and fennel is very beneficial in Ayurveda. Ginger is a great way to wake the body up, removes ama, it improves digestion, relieves constipation and inflammation; fennel stimulates and improves the digestive system; lemon removes ama and honey warms up the body, and due to it’s stickiness, assists the accumulated ama to flow through the digestive system. Something to note about honey, is that ayurveda recommends that honey should always be raw and never heated. Once honey is heated, it becomes toxic in the body and creates more ama. According to ayurveda, we should never cook with honey and always add it to our drinks once they are at drinking temperature.
  • This drink is really potent to get the bowels moving, first thing in the morning. According to ayurveda, the efficiency of the bowels is a very good indicator of our health. And it is important to move the bowels every day, another way of removing ama from the body :).

I hope you like the recipe. I would love to know what you think and if you notice a difference in yourself after drinking it.

Blessings to you.

Would you like to subscribe to the Peaceful Mothering newsletter? Join the Peaceful Mothering tribe and get Olga’s updates. Click here.

*Yarema, Rhoda and Brannigan

The best dhal you will ever eat

{Welcome to the new look blog and new address. To make a long story short, I was struggling with the technology gods on the previous site. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and start afresh, so here is the shiny new blog. I hope you like it!}

Hello beautiful!

Today I thought that I would share one of our favourite family recipes. Mondays in our home have become known as Moong dhal Mondays, or Moongdays! I find that running the home is so much easier when I have an assigned day for certain meals. It cuts out a lot of the drama involved in deciding what to cook, so that I can relax and do other things. (Like recreate Monet’s garden.) We like to do a fancy lunch on Sundays, so Mondays are a lovely day to eat something simple, nourishing and easily digestible.

There are two secrets to making this dish amazing.

The lentils you use and the cooking medium.

  • If you have never heard of moong dhal (or mung dhal as it is sometimes spelled), it is the split mung bean. It is not usually available in the supermarket. I get mine at the local health shop, you can also find it at any Indian grocer. In ayurveda, it is known as a tridoshic bean, which means that it is good for all constitutions. This means that if you eat it, instead of being thrown out of balance (as can unintentionally happen when we are unknowingly eating a food that is not designed for our constitution), it will bring us into balance. A good thing, don’t you think?

Another reason it is good is that it is the most easily digestible bean. How something is digested, is a pillar of ayurveda. According to ayurveda, all problems in the body start with inefficient digestion. If you have ever tried to eat beans and lentils and found that they are too gassy for you, try this recipe. I promise that you will feel great.

  • The cooking medium that has changed my life is ghee. If you have not heard of ghee, it is butter that has been cooked on a very low flame until all the impurities have cooked away. It is the golden nectar of ayurveda. People have told me that it is a saturated fat and that it causes cholesterol, so they will not eat it. I can tell you that I know of ayurvedic practitioners who have healed people of cholesterol with ghee. A teaspoon a day is said to prevent alzheimers as it lubricates the brain. Provided it is prepared with milk from happy cows, it is a sattvic food. This means that it brings a wonderful state of peace into the body as it calms the nervous system. Initially, I was quite reluctant to cook with ghee, as it seemed to go against everything mainstream health professionals have to say about a healthy diet. I have found that since I have been cooking with ghee, I am losing weight and I am feeling much more balanced. I buy my ghee from the local health shop. I have found that the supermarket variety is not as pure, since it is mass produced and I do not know about the quality of the milk it comes from. Sometimes I make my own. It is really easy and satisfying to do. There are a lot of wonderful videos on the internet that you can find which will teach you how to make it.

Onto the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of moong dhal, soaked for two hours (Soaking of all grains – including rice – is very important, it makes the digestion much easier.)
  • 2 cups of water or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons of ghee
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of ground fennel seeds
  • 1/2 cup of good quality coconut cream
  • salt to taste
  • freshly squeezed lemon to taste
  • fresh coriander for serving (optional – my children don’t like it, but yours might)

Method:

  • Place moong beans, water or stock and turmeric in a large, heavy-based pan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 20 minutes, or until tender. Stir occasionally and check the mixture is not catching on the bottom of the pan.
  • Meanwhile, heat the ghee in a small frying pan and add the onion. Cook on a low heat until soft and golden and add the cumin, ground coriander and fennel seeds. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Stir the onions and spices into the lentil mixture.
  • Add the coconut cream and stir until heated through.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Serve with a squeeze of lemon and fresh coriander on top.
  • I normally make this with basmati rice, cucumber raita and mango chutney.

So that is it! This dish will take no more than 30 minutes, from start to finish (excluding the soaking time, of course). I hope you try it and let me know if it has been a success in your home.

Blessings to you.

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Self abhyanga – Ayurvedic self massage

Hi gorgeous!

Today I would like to share something very special with you. It is something that I have discovered is crucial for mothers, especially us mothers in the West. It is called Self Abhyanga, or Ayurvedic self massage. It is the most incredible thing that you can do for yourself.

In India, this is part of the culture. Unfortunately, most of us have not been taught how to really, really nurture ourselves. Especially as mothers. We give so much to our children and if we do not replenish ourselves, we end up functioning from a depleted space. Not good for our wellbeing in many ways. Our health suffers and our spirit suffers, we end up with a depleted life force.

The reason this is so special is because it pacifies Vata Dosha. In Ayurveda, Vata is the element of air and space. Think of the wind blowing on a cold day. Vata is cold, dry and changeable. Most people in the West are dealing with too much Vata. Do you ever get cold? Have creaky joints? Live too much in your head – with the fairies? Can’t make up your mind, go from one idea to the next, all the time?

This is Vata being overactive.

The way to balance any element is to give it its opposite. So, if we are feeling like we have too much Vata, we do not help ourselves by eating raw salads and not wearing warm enough clothes. We need to give Vata warmth, stability and mostly LOVE.

Lots and lots of love and nourishment.

We can perform the self massage with warm sesame oil.  This is particularly beneficial for Vata imbalance as sesame oil is very warming and nourishing.

(You can use other oils like coconut, but coconut is very cooling, not what you want for Vata imbalance)

It is a practice that you can perform before you have a bath or shower. You start with your feet and move all the way up towards your head. It is a really, really nourishing practice and I really, really, really recommend it! My children LOVE doing it before bed, they are so peaceful afterwards and sleep beautifully.

It is good to use black sesame oil if you can get it at the supermarket.

I personally love the Vata body oil from Rasasara. You can get it here.

The reason oil is so good is because Vata is dry. And that is why we need to increase our essential fatty acid intake and not be afraid of fat (the good kind, of course). 

Here is a beautiful video from the Mudita institute where you can watch someone perform a self abhyanga. My children get me to put it on for them.They do their own self massage and I clean up the kitchen after their dinner.

I highly recommend watching the video to get a real sense of how to perform it and to understand how profoundly simple it is.

I would love to hear if you do this practice and whether it has benefitted you? I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE it! It is exactly what this mama needs to soothe her soul and to send her off to dreamland.

I normally run a bath, put on my oil and climb into the bath while I listen to a guided meditation for about 20 minutes.

Bliss, I tell you!

Wishing you a beautiful day, wherever you are and here is to more and more mothers modelling how to nurture and honour ourselves. It is how we change the world, one oil massage at a time!

Blessings to you.

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The one thing you need to do to be a better mother

I have just spent a whole day at a women’s yoga and meditation workshop. A whole day to come home to myself. I have a wonderful husband who made dinner and spent the whole day with my children. I came back to a happy home and I put the children to bed with a full tummy and a happy heart.

It wasn’t always so easy. When I first started going to yoga on a Saturday morning (for an hour and a half), Annie would cry at the door while I was leaving. Sohail was supportive of me going, but didn’t really “get” why I had to go and do something on my own. The yoga brought up so many things that had been accumulating in my body for years, that, for the first year, I would come home and sleep for the rest of the day. I would feel very tender, I hated relaxation. I didn’t notice a difference in my life for a while, but I kept going –  because I felt better after each class, and that was enough.

KateMoody

This morning, when I was getting ready to go, Xavier (4 years old) was upset that I was going. “Please don’t go mommy, I will miss you!” As he was hanging onto my leg.

Me: “But Xavier, doesn’t mommy always come back much happier when she goes to yoga?”

Xavier: “Yes.”

Me: “And don’t you want mommy to be happy?”

Xavier: “Yes.”

Me: “So I will see you later. Maybe you can send me a rainbow while I am there and I will send one back to you.”

Xavier: “I don’t know how to send you a rainbow, but I can draw one. Bye Mommy, I am going to go and draw you a rainbow!!”

Often, our children just need someone, or something to help them with the transition of us leaving. That, along with us knowing that we are actually serving our children by us taking some time to do something that brings us deep pleasure.

Sometimes we need to take a leap of faith. Even though it may be hard to stand in front of our family and say that our needs are important, we do it anyway. We don’t know how it will make our lives better, but we intuitively know that it will make a difference. We brace ourselves for a bit of an uncomfortable ride as we change the rules about how available we are. Our partners and children start to juggle their expectations and home responsibilities.

And, all of a sudden, it just works. It is expected that mommy also has needs. I know it is hard to do. As mothers, we are wired to take care of everyone else. And when we start taking care of us, we sort of don’t know what to do. And our families sort of freak out in the beginning. One of the women at the workshop today is entering her menopause years. She was listening to me talking about the importance of self care, even when we have small children.

She looked at me and said that she wished that she had made herself more of a priority when her family was young.

So, I encourage you to take the step in the direction of your heart. What is your heart’s deepest yearning? What will give you the greatest pleasure? Start doing it. Our nature as women is to receive pleasure.

Look for pleasure in your life wherever you can find it. Start planning your day, based on how it can nourish you, instead of basing it on a to do list.

Watch your life transform overnight.

Blessings to you.

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