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Ayurvedic Diet for Your Body Type

Life exists surviving and thriving in the multi-varied landscapes of the Earth, each held in unique balance by differing climate conditions and environmental factors. Much like the Earth our bodies, made with the same materials, have varied internal landscapes requiring both universal, elemental understanding and individualized attention so that balance may be achieved.
Ayurveda’s ultimate goal is that of yoga; union, achieved through perfect balance. When elements in our life are balanced, things flow, we have fluid relationships, assets, etc. These external factors have their secret origin in our health and energetic/emotional well-being, factors that Ayurveda attributes to right diet.

Discovering truths about your unique body type can be a vehicle for greater awareness and understanding regarding your dietary choices. When it comes to food our present state of conscious awareness plays a pivotal role in what makes it past our gums. Diet is directional and the more informed we are about the food we eat, the greater the chances are we might choose to eat things that are inherently better for us. Our body type is key in this equation; Ayurveda says our bodies are all combinations of elemental aspects: Vata; air/ether, Pitta; fire/water and Kapha; water/earth. Recognizing a pre-dominance towards any one of these elemental forces within us is a first step to taking our diet under our conscious will power. The second step is of course recognizing what elements certain foods represent and how they interact with the forces that reside with us. An Ayurvedic consultation gives you tools for discerning these two steps, no longer making diet choices a game of chance, but rather an awakened response to what our bodies are asking for.

When it comes to balancing out our nature using food some choices are elementary, others intuitive and some experimental. There is a reason: that watermelon tastes better in the hot Summer sun as opposed to the wet and damp Fall, that Winter is a perfect time for an earthy root vegetable soup and Spring a time for seasonal produce and fruits. Within reason our bodies will always do best with seasonal food that is grown in close proximity to our homes. As we begin to incorporate more local conscious food into our diet we can immediately notice shifts in our day-to-day health. As we start to incorporate these truths into our lives they become common sense: if your run hot; stay away from spicy foods and eat more cooling foods, similarly, if you run cold; find warm foods that dont tax your digestion and if you are light in nature; find grounding foods that help you stay present and focused. Most of us have had enough experimentation with feel-bad foods to be able to make educated choices about that which is not to eat, or at least not in excess. When we do over-do it at least there is truth in using good foods to balance us back out again.

Our ability to see food beyond the mere circumstances of routine determines its positive affects on our body, mind and Spirit. Sub-conscious eating patterns are those which are done robotically; often without any connection to the food: where it came from or how it was processed before it reached us. While subconscious eating generally refers to food which is unhealthy for us, even food that is otherwise good for us can be eaten subconsciously, thus limiting its true potential for feeding us on many levels. Conscious eating patterns are those which we initiate, mostly in acknowledging the need to eat better and incorporate inherently good foods into our diets. Conscious eating patterns begin in January for many people attempting to change a habit-pattern and either become second nature by February or fizzle out 8 days into the new trend. Super-conscious eating delineates a clear understanding of what we are eating, when we are eating it and how it may potentially affect us on many levels. When we eat super-consciously, we do so with the recognition of the specific vitality of our food, water and overall lifestyle in our life’s greater scheme. Anomalies to these include the fact that it is more productive to eat bad food consciously than good food unconsciously, at least on a short-term basis and even a finely tuned digestive system should be able to take a couple slices of pizza without getting completely thrown out of whack.

In Ayurveda there are certain foods designed to bring the body back into balance regardless of body type. Sometimes these refer to individual types of food but for our purposes we will highlight dishes like Kitchari. The 3 body types in Ayurveda are referred to as Doshas (Dough-shas) and kitchari is what is known as a tri-doshic food, one that has the ability to bring any body type back into balance.

Here is a recipe for kitchari: Enjoy!

  • 2-3 TBS ghee (you can make by clarifying butter, or buy from an Indian grocery store)
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small pinch of asafoetida (“hing”) powder
  • ½ cup split yellow dal, rinsed well, soaked overnight and drained. (It is best to use mung dal with the hulls still on if you tend toward constipation).
  • 1 tsp rock salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 cup white Basmati rice, rinsed well and drained.
  • About 6 cups in a regular pot. 4 ½ cups water if using a pressure cooker.
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 4-5 thin slices of fresh ginger root
  • Vegetables Optional*

Using either a pressure cooker (much faster) or a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the ghee on medium heat. Ghee burns easily, so be careful. Sauté the mustard seeds and cumin seeds in the ghee until the seeds begin to pop. Slowly add water to this keeping eyes and face away from pot. If you are using root vegetables specific to your dosha type i.e. carrots, beets or potatoes add these now so they cook thoroughly. Then add the drained mung dal, asafoetida powder, turmeric and salt mixing. You may find the need for more water at this point, kitchari should be moderately thick when finished but not spoon standing thick. Then add the rice, cumin powder, coriander powder and ginger. Stir well, making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.

If you’re using a regular pot, cover and bring it to a boil on high heat. Then turn the heat down and let it simmer until both the rice and dal are mushy.

You may have to experiment with how much water you use to find a consistency that you like. (The more water, the thinner the consistency). A thinner consistency is preferable if digestion is weak. You will notice that kitchari will thicken when it cools and you may need more water than you originally thought.

In order to provide the best quality of energy to your body, Kitchari should be made the day that you wish to eat it and served hot. This recipe serves six.

Garnish

  • Fresh cilantro (great for pitta – ok for vata and kapha)
  • Coconut (great for pitta)
  • Lime (ok for everybody)
  • Pumpkin Seeds (great toasted with Braggs)
  • Fresh ginger
  • Braggs liquid aminos
  • Ghee, clarified butter

Are All Massage Treatments Equal?

What makes a massage great? Moreover what are we really looking to get out of a massage treatment? Most everybody who receives massage has heard of the main types of treatment: deep tissue, Swedish-style and sports/rehab. While these are the most requested; the various styles of massage, not unlike shoes, aren’t one size fits all. As we walk, talk and race through life we hold tension, often unaware of where this tension resides in our bodies and also how this affects us over time. Massage among other things should be an opportunity to surrender our necessity to be completely involved in every waking moment, allowing relaxation to be a catalyst for our innate healing response to become activated.

An effective massage is a careful balance of what is needed and what is desired, for and by the client. Many ask for a stronger treatment, aligning with a commonly held belief that stronger=better or faster recovery time with traumas. A great massage should give the client a sense of accomplishment while offering the body a chance to realign itself and initiate a process of healing that will extend beyond the session.

Regardless the modality of massage, the act of touch is an essential element in the body releasing neurotransmitters that allow it to relax. Touch fosters the body-mind connection, employing the mind to release its conscious duty of keeping energy flowing outward to our sensory input channels. In relaxation our energy becomes more centered and less involved in the world of sensations; our brain waves change their frequency from a faster Beta to a slower Alpha, even Theta states. Relaxation creates space between our body and our mind naturally where, as in sleep, healing energy is present and can help to change subconscious patterns resetting the body and the mind back to their innate frequencies.

Different massage treatments promote different achieved results. Deep tissue utilizes direct pressure at certain muscle junctions that respond to release and is usually focused on an affected region; Swedish style utilizes circulatory moving to the effect of treating the whole body to attain a supreme state of relaxation; sports/rehab uses a combination of techniques from deep tissue including: friction, relaxation and stretching to achieve recovery from injury while promoting proper muscle and joint function. An outlier to these more common modalities is a treatment known as Abhyanga Ayurvedic massage. The key ingredient in Abhyanga is medicated herbal oil which is lightly massaged into the body by way of repetitive strokes. In this treatment it is not important or even intended that the muscles be stretched or that specific pressure be used on certain areas, rather that the oil be spread consciously and consistently onto the body so that it can be absorbed and permeate the cells for a lasting healing result.

I have been trained in several massage modalities that approach the same end goal much differently. While it is reassuring that all roads are leading to the same place, the exclusive path of which roads to be taken should be a mutually agreed upon endeavor on the behalf of the giver and the receiver. Although decisions on how the treatment should be given are often best left in the hands of the person who has studied these modalities, consciousness on the part of the patient offers a more well-rounded experience and can greatly expedite an individual’s recovery and healing.

Sound Healing

Human Beings are affected by vibrations day in and day out some audible most inaudible; everything from: music, voice, acoustic instruments, cell phones, cars, computers, airplanes and much more. Modern Science has proven and is proving much of what has been discoursed in numerous ancient healing texts and yogic philosophical volumes: Our three-dimensional world is a collection of vibrations. Everything we touch, see and feel and know has its own resonant frequency, including ourselves!

Sound Healing is a form of treatment that allows sound vibrations to be the medium to help the physical and energetic bodies to be ‘re-tuned’, bringing them back into a more natural balanced state. There are many different forms of Sound Healing; many people train their voices to be used in a healing manner for themselves and for others. For my practice I focus on what has been passed down to others and myself in the ways of Himalayan singing bowl therapy. These methods have their roots in ancient Tibetan/Himalayan traditions with the use of seven metal singing bowls and bells to positively change the vibrational state of one’s body/spirit/mind.

[A special note about the seven-metals that comprise these unique singing bowls. While singing bowls are made in many countries/regions their quality is variable. Superior bowls have 7+ metals in them often including: Silver, Gold, Copper, Mercury, Iron, Lean and Tin. The variety in metals and the natural space created between their molecules are what create the richness in tone, distinctive timbre and deeply meditative aspects to any particular bowl, play a 7-metal bowl next to a bowl with less metals and notice the experience of dull vs. full.]

Larger singing bowls emit deeper frequencies that resonate closely with the human body’s physical structure; cells, fluids, bones, etc; while smaller bowls emit higher frequencies that work on the aspects of the body’s subtle energetic layers which have direct correlations to our mental, emotional and etheric states of being.

A more modern application of sound healing has been introduced by tuning forks. Similar to the bowls, some have lower frequencies that affect tissue while others have higher frequencies that affect our brain-state. Using tuning forks on acupuncture points has proven to be very beneficial in expediting specific results and overall healing. Similar to Acupuncture, Sound Healing is currently being used in a variety of settings from: cognitive behavior, stress and relaxation treatment, cancer research, learning disabilities, hospice, chronic pain conditions and more.

Sound Healing is an exceptional example of preventative medicine. If we break down how the body maintains health, it always comes down to creating a proper nurturing environment so the body can take care of itself and get back to balance naturally. When the body is subjected to much disharmony it creates space for a myriad of problems to sprout and crop up. However, when harmony is consistently promoted it allows the body the chance to not only correct itself but to also build up a force field so that it is less affected by disharmony. So even when there is no symptom to report of, just by using vibration you can promote a harmonious balance for your body and mind to prevent the symptoms of disease.

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Relax With Herbal Teas

Zen Mind and Tea Mind are one in the same, but you can't know one without first having known the other. -Tea Sage

Along with an extensive knowledge of East Asian herbs Melissa offers unique herbal tisane blends which correlate to the Chinese five elements and the Ayurvedic Doshas. Teas used daily can become a relaxation retreat time for rejuvenation, healing and peace in mind, body, Spirit.

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