monica's blog

Yoga and Meditation Techniques for Balance

Meditations are most effective when consistently performed. For this reason I believe, one minute meditations for all individuals is best. Everyone can meditate for one minute! Early morning upon awakening is best. If unable to meditate upon awakening, choosing the same time each day to meditate is best. After the habit is established I would increase the meditation and possibly change the time to suit proper doshic dinacharya. (Daily Routine based on doshas)

Vata in Satva is creativity and Joy. Meditation to deepen the expression of joy – Mantra – I am Ananda

Vata in Rajas is anxious and fearful. Meditation with mantra – Om Tara tu tare ture soha -to promote idea of speech, body and mind free of fear.

Vata in Tamas is Sadness and Grief.

Meditation with mantra –

Lokah samasta sukhino bhavantu.

May all beings everywhere be happy. To keep mind centered on others. Ultimately happiness for all will include person with Vata in Tamas. Can use Vanilla aromatherapy during meditation to dispel grief.

Pitta in Satva is spiritual and logical. Meditation, that includes alternate nostril breathing to keep balance of Ida and Pingala and maintain Pitta in Satva.
Pitta in Rajas is aggressive and competitive.

Meditation with mantra – I am Samtosha – I am content. In order to dispel rajas and induce feeling in mind of non-competitiveness because all is ok as is. Can use lavender aromatherapy during meditation to dispel aggression.

Pitta in Tamas is anger and Jealousy. Meditation with pranayama focused on Ida nadi to reduce pitta and Tamas. Cooling energy that flows through Ida will help dispel anger of Pitta.

Kapha in Satva is Love and compassion. Meditation with Kapalbhati to help promote drying and lightness in kapha and maintain Satva.

Kapha in Rajas is Greedy and sentimental. Meditation emphasizing practice of releasing greed. Mantra - I am Aparigraha (greedlessness).

Kapha in Tamas is depressed and lethargic. Moving meditation (Hatha Yoga) emphasizing practice of releasing the physical body. You are not the physical body. The physical body is merely a vehicle for the meditation. Can use Ylang Ylang, aromatherapy during meditation to dispel depression.

Ultimately, meditations for each dosha can be simple as long as:

Satu dirgha kala nairantarya satkara asevitah dridha bhumih

The practice is attained to for a long time with great effort, no interuption and with consistency and devotion. (rough translation)

To learn Meditation and Yoga, you can contact Susan at Haven Yoga in San Diego.

Please note that these are the personal views of the student, and, does not necessarily reflect the view of the college.

By Susan Connor, RYT, AWP(Haven Yoga)
Teacher- Yoga Therapy, Ayurvedic Nutrition, Meditation

Ayurveda and the Mind

By Dr. Nandini Daljit

In the Bhagvad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna “Surrender to me your mind and understanding(Bhagvad Gita, 8:7)”. It is here we see the Ayurvedic distinction of the mind as “that aspect of consciousness which receives impressions. For ease of example, the mind could be thought of as the equivalent of the central processing unit (CPU) of our computer which not only takes external energy (electricity) to sustain itself as the mind takes in prana and nutrients to sustain itself. but has the dual The experiences we encounter are processed (as though a software program sifts and sorts the experience) and this new input is now compared against and organized according to previous impressions (previous data) to so we can achieve and understanding of the experience. Once the experience is recognized as similar to a previous experience we achieve understanding. Our previously imprinted feelings and emotions of experiences of the experience are then attached to further elaborate our perception of the experience to our senses and our perceptions. “Understanding is that which defines impressions and gives them meaning (Kriyananda, p. 348)”.

Whereas in the Western view the mind is often determined to be located in the brain. According to Ayurveda the mind is a conscious flow of energy that originates in the heart and flows to the brain which creates thought and pervades the body which facilitates sensation, perception and experience. When the mind receives the impression the energetic experience of the event evolves from the heart where “the heart’ is used in a Western context to mean evolving from one’s feelings, true being or soul. The next logical question would then be what is the soul?

It is our identification with the encasement of our body which gives us our sense of self or ego. “The jiva, or soul , is individualized consciousiness: the infinite limited to, and identified with, a body (Kriyananda, p.305)”. Swami Yogananda explains that in the Bhagvad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna “Such is My lower nature (Aparaprakriti). Understand now, O Mighty-armed (Arjuna)! that My other and higher nature (Paraprakriti) sustains the soul (jiva), which is individual consciousness, and sustsans also the life-principle of the universe.” (Kriyananda, p. 305). If we accept that the soul, which is the true heart of the being, is the essence of the true being then we understand that the mind of the being emanates from the heart.

Continuing with the analogy of the computer, once the experience comes to the attention of the mind in the CPU it must now be deciphered through software. The mechanism for the software is Sadhaka Pitta. Sadhaka pitta gives momentum to the Manovaha srotas which are the channels of consciousness of the mind. When an experience is recognized in our mind, it has touched our heart and gained momentum from our Sadhaka pitta to move the energy of the experience through the Manovaha srotas. Mano vaha srota--the channels which carry thoughts, ideas, emotions, and impressions. In the analogy of the computer this could be considered data. Our mind then asseses the data for familiarity, determines level of understanding and then releases an emotional, perceptual or cognitive reaction.

When the Manohava srotas are insufficient, the affect of an individual can be reduced with lack or absence of emotion, energy and motivation that could result in depression. When the Manohava srotas are in excess, the mind and affect of the individual can become more animated, agitated or even anxious with thoughts and emotions ceasing to rest to the point where insomnia may be provoked. With the Manohava srotas being located in the heart and circulating in the heart, imbalances could affect heart fuctioning and cause imbalances in circulation of both blood and oxygen.

Analysis of Ayurvedic Herbs

By Jennifer Salvo,

Student

Using plants as medicine has been a mainstay of traditional societies around the world for dealing with health problems for thousands of years.

The Ayurvedic approach to harmony- using diet, lifestyle, and drugs (plants, minerals, and animal origins) was first written in the Caraka Samhita roughly 3000 years ago. It details preventative health and therapeutic measures to treat disease. Ayurvedic drugs were first chosen by experiment, intuition, and discussion among scholars and the therapeutic findings can be read in sutras. It is very important to take into account the dosage of the Ayurvedic drugs given. These herbs, minerals and animal products can be safe and very effective when taken correctly.

The patient must also understand that these drugs are not a “quick fix” and must be taken correctly over a period of time for the desired effects to be achieved. Also, they are most effective when combined with proper diet and lifestyle as well. Some drugs may be taken alone, but most will be given in formulations which promote and harmonize their respective actions. This results in a greater therapeutic effect then taking herbs alone.

Even though there are modern equivalent medicines for many Ayurvedic diseases and symptoms, the popularity of alternative medicine is growing in the west. Most are seeking different strategies for health care driven by the inadequacies of modern medicines to treat disease and chronic conditions.

The Three Doshas in Ayurveda

By Dr. Nandini Daljit,

Student- San Diego College of Ayurveda

At the cosmically determined time when Parusha meets the destined Atman our Prakruti is determined. Our individual Prakruti is our unique combination of the Pancha Mahabutas within our constitution - that is to say each of us as our own unique combination of the five elements of the Pancha Mahabhutas - those being ether, air, fire, water and earth. "Doshas are bio-energies composed of two of the great Five Elements (Pancha Mahabhutas) that govern our mind, body and spirit" (San Diego College of Ayurveda, Block 1 Module - Ayurveda 101, p.5/56). The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

There are seven combinations of the doshas i.e., Vata-Pitta, Vatta-Kapha, Pitta-Kapha etc. The three Doshas can be considered as the three 'models' of body structure. In class we learned that dosha means fault and that our prakruti is our 'fault-line'. From a strengths-based perspective I would said our dosha or Prakruti is our state of natural balance and any deviation from that natural balance will result in dis-ease.

The Vata dosha (Vaya & Akasha) offers energy through movement and thus holds the Pancha Mahabhatus of Ether and Air. From the elements of ether and air the body is empowered with the energetic force of movement. Vata moves blood through the body (circulation), movement of the limbs and organs (mobility, respiration, pulse) and the movement of communication (nervous system, thought, perception). In terms of communication Vata informs the Tanmatra speech.

The Pitta dosha (Teja & Apa) brings transformative energy to the body through the Pancha Mahabhatus of fire and water. Pitta assists the body in converting raw energy and is tied to metabolism. Pitta brings fuel to the digestive fire through this conversion. Pitta informs the tanmatra of taste through the saliva and conversion of food to digestive enzymes.

The Kapha dosha (Prithivi & Apa) brings cohesion to the body and is resonsible for the buliding of muscle, connective tissue and fat. Kapha brings the Pancha Mahabhuta elements of earth and water to the body which contributes to form and mass. The Tanmatra of Kapha in terms of action is excretion which allows the body to elmininate those solids that no longer solve the body.

All bodies are in fact Tridoshic. We all hold elements of all of the Panch Mahabutas in our natural constitution of our Prackruti. The Vedas teach us that there are three potential sources of disease and suffering: Klesas (mind/body), Adhyatmakika (suffering caused by other living things) and, Adihidaivika (seasonal changesa and natural disasters). In maintaining balance of our Tridosha it is advantageous to consider all of these sources of imbalance collectively.

Often the quest for Tridoshic balance involves identification of obvious stressors that are external. As Vata is the primanry dosha of life - often it is through deep internal self-reflection that our doshas can acheive balance. In this regard

Yoga is an important part of Ayurvedic practice. "Yoga views of anatomy, physiology and psychology were originally formed by doshas (Frawley, 1999, p. 39). As we understand our doshas we also come to understand the specific practices of nutrition, sleep, physical activity, climate, nature, interaction and spirituality that connects our dosha and prakruti as a microcosm to the the universal macrocosm.

The myth of too much protein in the American diet

A protein shake. Ever had one? If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably had one, once a day, every day during that one summer where you were trying to get in shape. Or maybe you have a friend who shakes his up every day at 3pm to get thru that midday slump- so he can tide himself over before hitting the gym after work.

What does a typical protein shake contain? Well, depending on the source, you’re generally looking at a processed, chemically ridden, gmo infused powder that you blend with some milk to get past the taste. For some, it’s like a milkshake- loaded with sugar or chemical sweeteners that can wreak havoc on your gut health. For others, they just get it down so they can gain some muscle and lose some fat- or so they think.

But why would anyone need a protein shake? In America, there is the perception that protein means fat loss, muscle gain. Any vegetarian has dealt with the never ending question of…”but where do you get your protein?” Is protein this big of a deal?

The truth is- protein deficiency in America is extremely rare. Aside from a few raw vegans and others with generally poor diets for a long period of time (I know this because that was me), protein deficiency just isn’t a concern with our population. There is no need to focus on supplementing with enormous amounts of protein via large portions of red meat or shakes, mainly because most diets already contain enough of this vital macronutrient. Protein is accessible in the abundance of beans, lentils, vegetables, and dairy products that the typical ayurvedic diet (as well as others!) supplies.

In today’s world, it is likely you are getting TOO much protein, rather than not enough. It is healthful to have a balanced diet with a variation of fresh foods- including beans, seeds, nuts, vegetables, fruits, fats- in order to make sure our body’s needs are being met. Above all else- listen to your own body and what it responds well to! You will likely notice that a protein shake isn’t enjoyable, and doesn’t leave you feeling satisfied like a regular meal would. Take note of your body’s own responses and next time someone asks you- how do you know you’re getting enough protein, you can ask them- but how do you know you’re not getting too much?

By Michelle Gbur

Ayurvedic Rules for Meals

By Veero Kanda

Eating habits in Western countries have deviated away from nature with the changes in lifestyle. A typical Western diet is high in saturated fats, refined sugar, meat, and commercially processed foods. The foods typically deviate away from “Nature”-fresh fruits and vegetables and lead to nutritional deficiencies because of the preservatives and processing they go through. Such foods and diets are hazardous to the health. These nutritional deficiencies further lead the Typical American to substitute with a Multivitamin. These days there are Multivitamin formulations for everything “Eye Health”, “Kidney Health”, “Liver Health”, “Prostate Health”, “Breast/Women’s Health”, etc. However, the natural aspects within fresh naturally grown foods that not only provide the optimum nutrients/minerals cannot be compensated through Vitamin pills.

In the USDA food guidelines, the ratios of portions from food groups are in the the same ratio e.g. a female requires less calories than a male, so the quantity is lower, however, the ratio of portions for each food group is the same as it declares it a “Balanced diet”. Basically a 2 year old, a 12-year old, or a pregnant woman- are all getting the same proportions just different quantity. Moreover, it is encouraged to eat 7-8 small meals throughout the day especially for those attempting to lose weight. However, Ayurveda emphasizes on following the natural rhythms of the body and eating when hungry with our biggest meal during sunrise and not at sunset.

Ayurvedic approach is essential to take into consideration the different constitutions that require a specifically tailored plan based upon the individual’s body’s requirements as opposed to just sticking to one Ratio/proportion for every individual regardless of age/gender. One of the most shocking facts is that regardless of the abundance of food supply in the West, we still have Vitamin deficiency and become dependant on Vitamin supplements.

That within itself, is a red flag as to because the abundant food we are receiving is processed, artificially grown, enriched with chemicals, additives and toxins that are not providing us with the essential nutrients that naturally, natural grown foods would give us. This is also because we are not taking the foods that are most compatible with our individual constitution and Agni type, thus minimizing the absorption of nutrients leading to deficiencies. We have also deviated away from the proper eating habits and rules that are most compatible with our individual constitutions- not overeating, not starving oneself, and not mixing raw and cooked foods. By deviating away from our specific constitution requirements, we are accumulating Ama, diminishing nutrient absorption, and giving rise to disease formation.

By knowing which particular foods or meals are not compatible for a particular constitution, one can optimize the absorption of nutrients from food and thus avoiding accumulations of “Ama” and lead an optimum lifestyle and longevity. Aside from the individually tailored Ayurvedic plan tailored to each constitution, Ayurveda gives consideration to cooking preparation, storage, times, seasons, prakrīti, vikruti, stage environment, lifestyle, food habits as well. In addition to this, Ayurveda looks at health as the whole body in terms connecting the Mind, Body and Spirit for a harmonious lifestyle.

Food Processing and Prana

By Veero Kanda (Student Post)

When I think about Western nutrition, what first comes to mind are nutrition labels, which break down the food into scientific parts, including the percentage of fat, carbohydrate, and caloric content, which are heavily underlined in our society. What I’ve come to notice, growing up in the Western world, is that traditional scientists and doctors alike, tend to focus their energies on breaking things down and isolating them from the rest of the unit in attempts to understanding the whole.

Allopathic doctors want to isolate and treat a specific organ vs. looking at an individual’s whole body and health. Traditional scientists, like a nutritional scientist for example, will break down foods to their vitamin, mineral, fat, and caloric content. They then use a combination of these parts to determine the nutritional value of the food, rather than looking at it from a holistic perspective.

A famous quote by Aristotle once said “the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts”, and I believe this wholeheartedly to be true. I believe that traditional Western doctors and scientists have inadvertently done humanity a disservice by not acknowledging this to be true through the work that they do. Western nutrition approaches food as being equal to the sum of it’s parts, similar to the way that many Western practitioners approach the human body to be equal to the sum of it’s parts.

The truth is, that everything in the universe is energetically and spiritually more than the sum of it’s parts. Ayurvedic medicine emphasizes the importance of holism, looking at the entire picture, whether it be the human body or the food that we eat.

Ayurvedic nutrition seeks to achieve balance and heal your body, mind, soul, and karma. Those who study, and practice Ayurvedic medicine, whether familiar with Aristotle or not, recognize that the whole is more than the combination of it’s parts. The more, in Ayurveda refers to prana, which is life force energy, known also as chi or qi in Chinese Medicine.

In the human body, “the seat of prana is in the head and prana governs all higher cerebral activities. The functions of the mind, memory, thought and emotions are all under the control of prana. The physiological functioning of the heart is also governed by prana, and from the heart prana enters the blood and thus controls oxygenation in all the dhatus and vital organs” (Lad, 1984, p. 109).

It is not just us as human beings that have this life force energy, but all living organisms have prana. In Ayurveda, the nutritional value, quality, and health benefits of foods are based first and foremost on the prana they contain.

“Prana in food is a concept of life, vitality and qi in plant based foods” (San Diego College of Ayurveda, Ahara 101, p. 8). Foods vary on the amount of prana that they contain, so we seek to eat those that have the most prana, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, especially ons that are grown locally and organically, without the use of chemicals. Food that is freshly cooked, as well as whole grains and fresh dairy products and foods that are not highly processed have more prana.

The second major consideration in Ayurvedic nutrition is on how foods are processed, both during the preparation of the food, and once they enter our bodies. How foods are processed and prepares can greatly affect the prana of a food.

Some examples of food processing are cooking, drying, freezing, canning, pickling, refining, fortifying, pasteurizing, and adding preservatives or chemicals.

Foods that are highly processed, especially those that are frozen, canned or microwaved foods, foods that have been refrigerated for a long time, foods that are not grown in our area, and foods that are grown using pesticides, chemicals or that are genetically modified do not contain much if any prana after these processes take place. We should avoid foods that are processed in this way, in favor of higher prana options.

Ayurveda seeks to process and preserve foods in ways that simultaneously preserve the prana of the food. This is often done by preserving the food with sugar, salt, or ghee, or pickling and sun drying foods, as opposed to preserving them while chemicals or by freezing. Additionally, those seeking to maintain the prana of their foods should cook them over a woodstove or in a natural oven, as opposed to less natural cooking methods such as the use of microwaves and other electric appliances.

Ayurveda seeks to view the foods we are eating, as well as our bodies, in their entirety, in order to determine what will most benefit our health and well being. Western nutrition may say, for example that microwaved conventionally grown vegetables are healthy for us, based on it’s vitamins, minerals, and low fat and calorie content. Ayurvedic nutrition, however recognizes that that those vegetables were grown using pesticides and chemicals as well as prepared in a manor that greatly reduce it’s prana and thereby it’s health benefits. I think that it is definitely worth taking a closer look at some of our dietary and nutritional choices, to view the foods we’re eating more holistically, and discern how much prana remains in the foods we are choosing to nourish ourselves with.

References:

Lad, V. (1984). Ayurveda : the science of self-healing : a practical guide. Santa Fe, N.M: Lotus Press.

San Diego College of Ayurveda. Ahara 101: workbook.

Ayurvedic Perspective-Food Allergies

By Veero Kanda (Student Post)

An allergy is a hypersensitive reaction of the body when it comes into contact with a substance. An individual may experience a slightly uncomfortable feeling to a fatal anaphylaxis in an allergic reaction.

The most common allergens causing allergies are dust, pollen, foods, certain medications, cosmetics etc. every individuals’ immune system reacts differently to the allergens causing these sensitivities. Therefore, for example an allergy causing allergen for one person, maybe completely normal for another individual.

Ayurveda considers allergic reactions as the imbalance of the doshas, with in particular the Vata dosha. A weakened Vata leads to a number of systemic and local hypersensitivities. Vata and Pitta weakened can cause for example rashes, hives, burning, and fever.

An imbalanced Vata and Kapha causes blockages in the bronchi, excessive secretions and asthma attacks.

From an Ayurvedic perspective each person has a unique constitution. Ayurveda describes how certain diets that are not compatible with our Ayurvedic constitution are more likely to result in reacting with out body, thus resulting in an allergy.

This is primarily due to poor digestion and elimination lead to the buildup of ama- undigested food particles. The accumulation of ama (undigested food particles) further leads to toxin buildup and impurities in tissues, which predisposes them to an excessive allergic response.

Moreover, Ayurveda also gives an emphasis regarding the seasonal and daily regimen and lifestyle. For example, an Ayurvedic practitioner will not only take into consideration the individuals Ayurvedic constitution, but also seasonal environment, lifestyle, and person’s emotional, mental and spiritual well being. Moreover an Agni assessment would determine the Digestive Fire imbalances that may possibly lead to ama formation. By following these recommendations one can avoid allergies and learn to prevent them. Therefore, following this holistic approach and eating a diet compatible with your Ayurvedic constitution that is natural, organic and full of prana is ideal and important to avoid and prevent sensitivities.

Eating fresh, organic, full of prana, seasonal fruits that are appropriate for the season is preventative for allergies. A lot of the foods that are processed, canned, not natural, consisting of preservatives, dyes or other chemical additives are a cause of allergic sensitivities.

Thus they should be avoided. According to Ayurveda, Yoga and Pranayama strengthen the natural defense system, thus being an excellent way to prevent allergies. Mothers who breastfeed, should avoid foods with chemicals, preservatives, and additives to avoid the transmission of such chemicals to the child.

Children breastfed from mothers who eat a diet primarily consisting of chemicals, additives and preservatives are more likely to pass on these harmful substances through their breast milk, thus leading to the development of sensitivities in the child.

In conclusion, following a diet that is compatible with our ayurvedic constitution, seasonally compatible, full of prana, natural, organic is the ideal way to prevent food sensitivities.

Agni should also be strengthened to aid in optimum digestion and avoid the accumulation of ama (undigested food particles) that can lead to buildup of toxins.

References

http://www.ayurvedainstituut.com/en/allergie-basis-ayurveda

http://www.muditainstitute.com/articles/ayurvedicnutrition/dairyfree.html

Note: These statements are for informational purposes only. These statements have not been reviewed by FDA. Ayurveda is a complimentary medicine system and not meant to treat, assess or diagnose any disease.

Ayurvedic Food Rules

Food Rules by Laurel Byrne (Student)

Here in the United States, we’re inundated with a wide variety of dietary protocols and food rules. These diets and rules often contradict each other, and it seems like almost every time you turn around there’s a new “best diet” fad taking the place of the last. From 3 meals a day to 6 meals a day, from low fat to low carb, It can get confusing. If you’re anything like me, you may have found yourself wondering, how should I actually be eating to optimize my health and wellbeing?

Many of us grew up hearing mainstream statements telling us things like “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and that in order to be healthy and lose weight, that you should opt for low-fat and non-fat options whenever possible, and that your main energy source should be through carbohydrates. However, over the years, we’ve been introduced to various diets that have conflicted with what we were originally taught about healthy food choices.

Some of us may have recently be introduced to some of the latest popular dietary protocols, the Ketogenic and Paleo diets. Both of these diets emphasize the restriction of carbohydrates, and but the Ketogenic diet emphasizes the consumption of more high quality fats while Paleo emphasizes the consumption of more high quality protein.
Another popular dietary protocol touts the benefits of utilizing intermittent fasting to promote health, as well as weightloss. Many promoters of dietary protocol recommend skipping breakfast in order to put your body into a fat-burning state. This was a stark contrast to everything that I was originally taught about what and how I should be eating.

So, should we be eating high carb, high fat, or high protein diet, or something else entirely? Should we be eating a square 3 meals a day, 6 smaller meals, or implementing intermittent fasting and skipping some meals altogether? Lets get back to the core question, what food rules best promote optimal health and wellbeing?

To answer this, let’s take a step back from the diet centered approach of the Western world, and venture East, to uncover the wisdom of Ayurveda. For anyone who is unfamiliar, Ayurveda originated in India, and is the multi-modality approach to health and wellness which holistically seeks to balance the mind, body, and spirit of the individual through understanding their unique constitution.

The food rules of Ayurveda have two specific considerations. First, what I will be discussing here, are specific rules and guidelines for meals that are recommended to be followed by everyone, as they take the basic science of our human bodies into consideration. Secondly, there are a great number of additional food rules recommended for your specific constitution and body type, so the full scope and emphasis of your dietary recommendations based on Ayurveda are not a one size fits all approach.

The basic Ayurvedic Rules for meals are in alignment with the natural rhythm of our bodies. There is just as much consideration into how we are eating as there is into what we are eating. Eating should be considered a ritual that you bring your mindfulness and attention to your meal and nourishing your body. It is recommended that you do not eat while you may be distracted by conversations or by watching tv. (Svoboda, 2003, p. 55) It is recommended to chew each morsel slowly and many times as this “allows the digestive enzymes in the mouth to their work properly and, in addition, it gives the stomach time to prepare for the arrival of the masticated food” (Lad, 1984, p. 85)

Rather than following a rule for eating a certain number of times per day, Ayurveda recommends that we should eat when we are hungry. We have different rates of digestion and metabolism, so it is important to be in touch with our bodies and nourish it when we are hungry. If we eat when we are not hungry, our previous meal may not have had time to digest yet. Subsequently, not eating if we are hungry can cause imbalances in our doshas. It is recommended that we eat until we fill satiated but not overly full. It is also recommended to not drink a lot of water, especially cold water during a meal, as it can decrease the body’s agni, or digestive fire.

Ayurveda recommends that lunch be our heaviest meal, around noon, as our energy is higher at this time of day, and that we have a lighter dinner, as our energy for digestion is lower as we approach nighttime. Ayurveda does not recommend that raw and cooked foods be eaten together in one meal, as they require different digestion processes. For example, Ayurveda recommends that most melons should be eaten alone. This is because “in combination with other foods, they create clogging and may prevent absorption by the intestines” (Lad, 1984, p. 81) This can create imbalances within the doshas, and therefore within the body.

I hope that these Ayurvedic food rules help you to be begin to understand how the way you eat affects all levels of the self. However, this is just a starting point, and I would strongly encourage you to learn more about your own unique Ayurvedic constitution, as that understanding can help you truly optimize your health and wellbeing through your food and dietary choices.

References:

Lad, V. (1984). Ayurveda : the science of self-healing : a practical guide. Santa Fe, N.M: Lotus Press.

Svoboda, R. (2003). Prakriti : your ayurvedic costitution. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus

Spring festivities in Russion and Vietnam

By Tatiana Burke and Sarah Patterson, AC students

Spring celebrations in Russia, and Ayurveda

The spring celebrations in Russia can be divided into three distinct parts: The Passing of Winter (Maslenitsa), Lent and Easter. Maslenitsa has been around hundreds of years before Christianity but Lent and Easter are relatively new traditions that were introduced together with the religion. Eventually it too became adapted to suit the Christian religion. Food is a key element in all three events.

In the pagan times the week long Maslenitsa celebrated the passing of winter by honouring the sun god. Pancakes were made to resemble and honour him. In addition a lot of meat, fish, kaviar, butter, honey and other fatty and sweet food was eaten in great amounts. Nowadays almost every household still makes thin pancakes (crepes) often with fillings such as meat, kaviar, curd, eggs etc.

Lent begins when Maslenitsa ends. During the Russian Orthodox lent food is eliminated gradually during the length of the 40days. It starts with the elimination of meat, then fish, butter, cheese, milk, eggs, sweets etc with the diet of the last week consisting of only bread (without yeast) and water. The most religious individuals hold a fast on water on the last day (Saturday).

As the first star appears on Saturday night the fast is broken and the Easter celebrations begin. There are three main ingredients in a Russian Easter celebration which are always blessed in the church before consumption. As all over the world eggs are coloured, boiled, stuffed and so on. Kulich is baked from many eggs, lots of butter, raisins and yeast, topped with a sugar icing. Lastly Pas’ha (a sweet spread) is made from fine curd, boiled egg yolks, butter and raisins. It is traditionally formed into a pyramid but can take any shape today.

Maslenitsia is usually during the rather dry, cold, possibly windy and very snowy part of winter (before spring starts). Thus this is still Vata season and meat and butter should be digested well due to high digestive power during this time. When spring actually starts to emerge a Kapha pacifying diet in the form of lent is observed. It is true that Easter itself is Kapha aggravating but it lasts only two days as opposed to the 40 day lent.

Bitter taste is eaten in the form of buckwheat and pungent taste is eaten in the form of garlic and onion. Astringent taste consumed in the form of different herbal teas and lately black tea. These products are consumed daily and even more so on festive occasions

Spring in Vietnam
Vietnamese food has had a nice time in the culinary spotlight over the last few years, so most people in the US at this point are familiar with the Vietnamese baguette sandwich called "Banh Mi". The word "Banh" really just refers to something baked or cooked or processed to form something that holds something else. "Banh mi" means "bread", while Banh Tet refers to a dish made of glutinous rice that has pork and mung bean in the middle. Banh Tet, aka Banh Chung, is a food that is traditionally sold, given as gifts, and eaten during the lunar new year.

The story of Banh Tet is that King Hung (one of the many), asked his six sons to present to him a dish that represented the sincerity of their ancestors (Vietnamese, like Chinese culture, traditionally worships ancestors as religion and spirituality) and the Lunar New Year. The dishes would be judged, and the best dish would make it's creator the next king. What a way to choose your successor huh. The princes searched for the rarest delicacies available, but one of them, Lang Lieu, was quite poor and could not afford anything very extravagant. So he used the most readily available ingredients to him- Rice, which was a staple of the diet, mung beans, which were also prevalent in the culture's diet, and pork, the most common and inexpensive meat available. He made glutinous rice and formed it around a mixture of pork and mung bean paste, and molded one portion into a perfect square to represent Earth, and one portion into a perfect sphere to represent Sky. He presented these to the king, and though all of the other dishes that were presented were much more rare and extravagant, none of the others held up to the real sincerity that Lang Lieu's dish brought- Ingredients that the ancestors cultivated and ate, true to their culture and history, and representing the physical world in which we live. Since the competition was indeed about sincerity, Lang Lieu won, became king, and the dish became a staple of Lunar New Year.

This is said to be around 1630 BC, so it's definitely a LONG held tradition.

To go a little further with this, rice as a staple has permeated the language used around food too. The phrase that one says when greeting someone near a meal time, after saying hello of course, is the question "an com chua?". They're asking "have you eaten yet?" but it literally translates to "eat rice yet?" the word for "food" and the word for "rice" are virtually interchangeable, but the word for "rice" is always used when talking about eating something, even if that meal doesn't even contain rice. Though it almost always does in some form, whether its rice noodles, rice paper, rice flour, rice gluten, or whole rice grain.

Also Banh Tet is kinda icky. A lot of people really don't like it but they eat it anyway because of tradition

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