Category Archives: Rituals

In praise of the afternoon nap

Hi gorgeous!

How are you doing? If you are reading this and it also Autumn for you, I hope that you are managing to slow down. When I wrote about Ayurveda’s take on Autumn in this post, I mentioned how Vata time (the quality that is most prominent in this season) makes us a bit heady and spacey. This is because the qualities of air and space are prevalent, so we naturally amplify those qualities within ourselves.

One thing I haven’t mentioned is how different times of the day are also more prominent. These are rough guides and they can vary based on the time of year and your latitude, but, generally, Vata is most active between the hours of two and six. This is applicable in the afternoon and in the evening.

Do you ever wake at two in the morning? Ha, ha, that is Vata time! Meditation is recommended before six a.m. because Vata is the most “airy” time of the day, so we are very receptive.

But, this is a post about afternoon naps, I digress.

Basically, if you have Vata in your constitution, a Vata imbalance or it is Vata season (windy, cold, dry) outside, you need to take extra precautions at Vata time to stay balanced.

Vata needs warmth, grounding, sweetness and routine.

An afternoon nap (20 minutes or so) is a perfect way to ground Vata, since it slows down the movement that is inherent in Vata. If we don’t consciously slow down at this time of the day, we can get a bit frazzled and feel really worn out by the end of the day. Do this for a couple of years and you start waking at 2 a.m. (I know because I have done it!)

When I first started working on balancing my constitution (My Vata was out of balance), I would nap every day if I could. On the days that I couldn’t, I made a point of sitting and having a cup of tea.

Now that I feel much more grounded, I still have a nap if I feel like it.

Or else, I make myself a cup of chai with a cookie (remember I said Vata needs sweet – I have just given you permission to have some cake in the afternoon!). I also read or watch something inspiring, sit outside, or just lie in bed. I do this between two and three p.m. before I pick up my children from school. When they come home, we have some more afternoon tea, all together. (You can’t have too much afternoon tea, I say!)

My husband has a job in the city and does not have the luxury of lying down for an afternoon nap, so I have encouraged him to go for afternoon tea with his colleagues and to eat something sweet (fruit is really good to have at this time) between the hours of two and six. He says that it really makes a difference to his day and he also doesn’t come home ravenous.

I hope that is helpful to you. Give it a try and let me know if it makes a difference to your day.

Blessings to you.

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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.

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*Yarema, Rhoda and Brannigan

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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Cooking with the ancestors

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I am writing to you from a place that is very dear to my heart right now. The seven year anniversary of my mom’s death is coming up this month and I will be honest when I tell you that I am feeling slight tenderness because of it.

This time of year has become an interesting one for me. Spring is around the corner, so my mood always lifts and at the same time, I feel my mom’s presence much more intensely than I do at other times of the year. My birthday is literally one week after the anniversary of her death. I will be 35 this year. It seems like a big one to me.

My mom and I share a love of nature and beautiful gardens, so I always plant something in her honour. This year I am creating a Polish meadow in my front garden. The country where I was born. I did not grow up there, but my mom always spoke so fondly of it.

Which brings me to the reason I am writing today.

Cooking.

Maya Tiwari talks about cooking the food of our ancestry as a way to heal ourselves in her book The Path of Practice. She teaches that we hold the memories of our ancestors in our bodies. They are carried through our cells. Any unresolved wounds of our ancestors are carried in our mother’s wombs and passed down to us. We can start to heal ourselves and in turn, our ancestors, by reconnecting with them.

Sometimes this can be painful, particularly if our childhoods were not happy and our family situations are less than ideal.

A really beautiful way of connecting and healing ourselves is to start cooking the food of our ancestors.

I have been cooking the food of my childhood in the last week. I have been doing this to connect to my mom. What I am finding is that it is giving me an incredible peace and stability. I have literally cried upon taking the first bite of a particular childhood favourite.

When we cook the food of our ancestry, we literally ground ourselves. Our bodies literally remember our mothers, our grandmothers and all the women and men that have come before us. We find that the smells of the herbs and spices of the land of our origins starts waking something up within us. Our hands know exactly how to knead the particular bread that our people would eat to sustain them. We intuitively know when to stir the pot, how much of a particular spice to add and when to take the cake out of the oven. The smells of the foods enter our spirits and give us a lightness of being.

We not only start to remember our childhoods, but we start to remember things much older than these physical bodies.

We find that our bodies easily digest this food, because they have been programmed to. Our children love to eat the food too, because it wakes up their ancestral memories.

When we make this a sacred act and involve our families, we heal on so many layers. We bring laughter, love and peace into our homes. Life becomes easy.

We are not constantly trying the latest food fad and destabilising ourselves because of it. We are not scattered because we are trying to follow a recipe we don’t know. This new recipe may sustain us on a physical level, but it does not touch our souls the way our ancestral food does.

Cooking the food of our ancestors will do more for our health than any amount of green smoothies can. We are more than our physical bodies. If we believe that the way to health and happiness is only through the macro and micro nutrient composition of the food we ingest, we are missing a much, much bigger picture of who we really are. Yes, of course those things are important, but they are not the only thing.

I could share a recipe from my ancestry with you. But, that would defeat the purpose of this post. I encourage you to research the food of the land of your ancestors and to start cooking. Involve your children. Make it something you do when you need comfort in your life, like in the week before your menstrual cycle begins. The healing effects of this practice will ground and sustain your spirit.

I would love to hear about your favourite recipes from your ancestry and if they have been a source of comfort to you.

Blessings to you.

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Chai tea for PMS

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Don’t you love chai? The beautiful smell of the spices? The warmth of the tea, filling up your soul?

Well, I have a wonderful recipe for a chai tea that has no black tea, so it is caffeine free. It is also good for mild PMS. You can drink up to three cups a day. The recipe comes from Maya Tiwari’s book called Women’s Power to Heal.

This is an Ayurvedic tea and can be taken for five to seven days, starting one week before your menstrual cycle begins. You can also drink it during your cycle. A wonderful tea, that you can have your spouse or your children make for you to honour your resting time. How about making it a ritual every month?

  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups of organic cow’s or almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon cardamon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 pinch of saffron

In a heavy based stainless-steel saucepan, bring the water and milk to the boil. Put the cloves and spice powders in the boiling decoction and leave to simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, add the saffron, cover and let stand for a few minutes. Strain and drink while still warm.

It is delicious and creamy, I hope that you like it.

Blessings to you.

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