Browsing articles tagged with " vata"

7 Steps to Support Change

Apr 1, 2015   //   by Jamie Alger   //   Healthy Mind  //  No Comments

Reveal the Unmet Needs Behind Your Fears

No matter how great the change is we are seeking to make, there is always some amalgam of fear involved. This is because the undefined, unfamiliar, unpredictable unknown is vata embodied. In fact, any transition is a vata dominated process, and signs of vata imbalance (excess vata) are common.

Oftentimes, we ignore the valuable message in our fears and focus on criticizing ourselves for not being “tough” enough to make the change. All feelings reveal unmet needs within us. If we can engage in a healthy exploration of our fears, we can use them to come up with a strong list of exactly what we need to support ourselves through the process.

Here’s a link to my feelings are functional video.

For example, I’d been putting off buying a house because I felt too scared of the financial commitment. Once I explored that fear, I understood that I had a need for 6 months living expenses in savings to feel more secure in that transition. This clarity allowed me to set a clear goal to move forward in my home-buying process, and this allowed me to feel more supported and aligned.  Without addressing and exploring the unmet need my fear was revealing, I felt like I just needed to “pull the trigger” on buying, which led to inaction because I was with mixed feelings (a vata state of incongruence).

Change is not about “toughening up” and moving past your fears; it’s about bringing in more support to address them. 

STEP 1: Acknowledge your fears (a simple list is fine) and explore:

What need do I have that this fear is making me aware of?
What would make me feel most comfortable in making this change?
What would help to assuage the fears in this transition (not eliminate them, because fear is a part of the process)?

STEP 2: Come up with a clear list of how to meet those needs, aka how to best support yourself through this change.

This is great to do with a loved one, or coach, or therapist. Since fear and transition are vata energetics, the more support you have and the more grounded you are in a personal plan for that change, the more you balance vata and move through the transition gracefully.

Fire Ceremony to Ritualize the Transition

I personally find fire ceremony to be surprisingly helpful in releasing the old and welcoming in the new, and several of my clients have reported powerful effects as well. Fire is a transformative force and pitta energy embodies this. Fire transforms the wood and air into light and heat energy and smoke. Similarly, we offer into the fire a symbol of what we’d like to transform, and receive the products of the transformation (light, warmth, smoke) as a symbol of what we are looking to change into. It’s a ritual to represent the transformation on a subtle energetic level in our physical world.

Here’s a link to how to do a simple fire ceremony

Overcome the Inertia with Clear Intent and a Plan of Action

So we don’t want to ignore our fears, but we don’t want to let them drive our decision making either. We also have a tendency to be so aware of the fears, that we make fear-based choices. From this place, we avoid change.   We stay in unhealthy jobs or relationships, or patterns.  The fear is important only in that it is a messenger. Again, if you can come to what unmet needs are underlying those fears, you can let those needs drive how you make decisions.

More importantly, where you set your attention is going to determine what you attract in your life. So if the feared scenario is ever-present in your mind, you are aligning yourself with that being your reality. Shifting our attention from the fear to the plan-of-action-to-meet-your-needs is crucial to the desired change happening.

The other facet of vata, related to fear, that keeps us stuck is overwhelm. Other times it’s more of a kaphic stuck where we are fuzzy and unclear about what to do or how to bring about the change, and thus do nothing.

Either way, having clarity of intention is key, as is a clear plan of action. Both are vata and kapha balancing, and thus balance overwhelmed-and-unsure-so-unmotivated-and-passive.

STEP 4: Keep it simple and keep it clear. Define your goal in one sentence. Define a maximum of 3-5 next steps. Define sub steps and details for each of those. This is where you start. The rest will come to you in due time.

Lean In to the Feelings of the Desired Change

Change doesn’t always come about in one fell swoop. What I see more often are cycles of release and manifestation, and phases of shifting towards our intention. How the change happens is what you surrender. This means you have a clear plan of how, only to get you started aligning your actions with your intention. The plan of action you create is just a tool to support you through initiating the change, stepping up and indicating your readiness for the change. However, when your planned approach requires a shift, you surrender to that, understanding you are being gently guided (or not so gently) through the change in the way it needs to best support your spiritual growth. The plan of action is just a first step in “leaning in” toward the desired change.

Watch for the signs in your life. What you are naturally attracted to and repelled by. Conversations, people, dreams, ideas, spirit animals (you get the picture)–anything that feels more like how you wish to feel after this change has happened. In fact, a great exercise is to imagine yourself after the desired change.

STEP 5: Make a list of how you feel in this visualization. (Visualizing is also a powerful tool invoking the law of attraction.) Use this list as a guide to where you lean in.

Any experience in your life that invokes these same feelings is where you want to lean in, center your attention and spend the majority of your time, energy, and resources. Anything that feels more on the side of the desired change, we respond to in a timely manner, and as a priority.

Show Up! Align your Words and Actions with your Intention

Once you have how to best support yourself, a clear intention and a simple starting plan of action, you’ve laid a great foundation towards attracting your desired change. In fact, it’s quite likely that during the process of taking all of the steps above, you’ve already started to shift things in the right direction.

STEP 6: If you are still stuck, start taking practice steps. Take the steps as if you were really making the change, as practice until you are ready to take real steps. For example, I recently assigned a client to apply to 10 jobs outside of her specialty area for the sake of experiencing action that was consistent with her intention of finding a new job. Because these were just jobs that seemed fun to her, and not where she really thought she would find a job, the exercise was light and more playful. In the process, she practiced tailoring her resume, got faster at writing cover letters, started a tracking system to monitor her follow up, etc. She created all of the tools and practiced, so she felt very unintimidated when it came time to apply for jobs in her specialty.

Affirmations, or rather new thought patterns, are a great first step at alignment as well. As you’ve already identified your feared perspectives, use these to identify healthy new thought patterns to replace them. This is not an exercise in denial. It’s a practice of shifting a fear based thought pattern to a more empowered thought pattern. For example:

Fear/victim perspective: I’m fat and Iosing weight is so hard for me.

Empowered perspective: I’m working towards my happy place with my weight and I’m open to experiencing ease in that process.

STEP 7: Starting to align your words and actions is well supported by also aligning your internal dialogue. So every time that fear-based perspective speaks in your mind, you stop it, and replace it by saying your empowered perspective (out loud is great).


Finding Your Sweet Spot

Jan 15, 2014   //   by smohan   //   Healthy Mind  //  1 Comment

So miss-I-don’t-watch-tv just watched about ten straight episodes of How I Met Your Mother. I needed to laugh aloud–it felt so good.

Then I just started numbing out and really not even laughing anymore.

I hit a point at which I could no longer engage. I couldn’t disengage either. (Damn netflix!)

Okay, bless netflix, but how did this happen? There I lay, a TV zombie. I looked in the mirror and my eyes look liked I had just worked a 36 hour shift at a county hospital. This can’t be healthy.

 Where’s the boundary? Healthy release and laughter is fun, but feeling like I just dipped into an alternate reality that zapped me is not.

I guess this is the case with everything in life: there’s a sweet spot. A level of engagement that is healthy and serving, past which it’s unhealthy and a disservice to ourselves.

Now that I think about it, it’s that way with people, food, work, anything. And the sweet spot is a relative concept–it’s different for each of us.

Only you can know what your sweet spot is on any given energetic input. You just have to listen to that little voice inside.

It’s also a dynamic concept. My sweet spot for yoga, writing, time with my kids is different day to day.

So why do we expect ourselves to be able to take in the same amount of anything everyday? Why aren’t we taught to check in with ourselves and feel what our sweet spot for anything is? For example “Today, I can handle very much of my garden, very little of my husband, about an hour of writing, and not too much driving.” And then, adjust our daily decisions to match our sweet spots, and thereby optimize our experience of that day.

Oh yeah, social obligation.

Plans are made, commitments must be stuck to, and things need to get done. Then we prioritize these external factors and find ourselves needing to create “healthy boundaries.” If we honored our sweet spots, we would inherently be maintaining healthy boundaries (and inherently maintaining doshic balance). Our internal sense of limits naturally guides us to energetic balance, and thus health.

Well, we’ll all die with things still needing to be done. And isn’t the most important commitment you make the one to your joy/health (synonymous in many ways).

What do you think? Or rather, what do you feel?  (Please share in the comments below!)

Balancing Travel

Nov 6, 2013   //   by smohan   //   Healthy Body  //  No Comments

Ok, is there really any form of balanced travel? Well, read this article I wrote about vacationing to catch a glimpse of what that could look like.

For the rest of us humans, travel usually has some untoward effects.

Why? Well, travel is akin to truckloads of vata coming into your life.

That which is not familiar, or simply different from your usual, is a change; and change is vata embodied.

Furthermore, flying is a lot of vata because of the altitude (and yes, higher altitude destinations are also more vata) and the rapid movement.

Any movement is a vata input, so the more you move around, the more vata you bring in.

This is why the majority of symptoms of travel are signs of vata imbalance: gas, constipation, dryness, insomnia, and lower immunity to name a few.

Most of us crave travel when we are craving the wonderful aspects of vata–a fresh perspective, inspiration. Sometimes our vata imbalance is driving the craving–like when you feel overwhelmed and want to escape it all.

Either way, balancing travel is all about balancing vata.

So here are a few general tips. Of course, each travel situation is unique and the best balancing happens when you consider the whole picture. This list will get you started in the right direction.

  1. Ginger tea. Ginger is a super antimicrobial and maintains healthy digestive capacity. This is important as vata lowers digestive capacity and immunity. Also, this root is warming and that further helps to balance the cold of vata. I throw a few slices of fresh ginger root in a ziplock and ask for hot water on the plane. Most grocery stores carry ginger teabags and that is convenient for travel. As a carminative, ginger helps to reduce gas too.
  2. Hot water. No ice on the plane!!  When traveling try to drink hot or at least warmish liquids. Hot water is easily available everywhere you would eat and you can at least use it to add to your drink to change the temperature. This helps to maintain your digestive capacity and prevent constipation and gas.
  3. “Spiceballs.” There are these little magic balls of churna (digestive aid spices) that are travel friendly and are super for supporting digestion and immunity in much of the same way ginger does (just stronger). I use these in addition to the ginger tea. Many times when traveling we are eating in restaurants with heavier, more processed food in larger portions. These little spiceballs help to digest all of that, so you don’t have toxic schmutz building up in your tract causing digestive upset and inflammation. We carry these in our online store.
  4. Neti pot. This is the second thing I pack. Travel dries out your sinuses and makes your upper respiratory system prone to congestion and infection. This combined with lower immunity is why many catch a cold after travel. I import fantastic stainless steel neti pots, which we carry in our online store. But these days, I’ve even seen an array of portable saline sprays for travel. The neti is a whole level (or ten) above the dinky portable sprays; however, something is better than nothing.
  5. am/pm routine. As much as you can maintain some semblance of your morning and evening ritual, you can support your internal circadian rhythms. These are the rhythms that coordinate the miraculous dance of every system in your body. Oftentimes, travel means shifts in our usual rhythms, and this throws off our internal clocks. Maintaining am/pm rituals helps to keep those clocks anchored.
  6. Nutmeg. Nutmeg is a phenomenal herb for insomnia and jet lag, as well as a digestive aid and antimicrobial. Personally, I put a blend of cardamom and nutmeg (organic and medicinal grade) in my travel bag. I’ll have this in a latte (steamed milk and hot water) or just as tea before bed on the first days of adjusting to a new time zone.
  7. Triphala. This is the first thing I pack! For more on the benefits of triphala (which we carry as well), read this article.
  8. Slow it down! When we plan travel, it’s common to want to maximize the experience. We overbook our travel itenerary, and forget to have down time as a priority. Aim for being present and really sinking into places, cultures, experiences–depth over quantity.
  9. Bookend your travel with Grounding Days. Plan for a day of ease and grounding just to recover from the actual movement of travel when you arrive. Similarly, plan for a day of recovery and grounding when you return. It’s so nice to not have to jump back into a full schedule when coming back home.
  10. Bumblebee breath (Brahmari Pranayam). There are several Youtube videos demonstrating this breathwork and it’s benefits. This is perhaps the funniest to me (because of the music and the closing line :) ).

Listening to Nature’s Rhythm

Oct 30, 2013   //   by smohan   //   Ayurveda Basics  //  2 Comments



Why is it so hard to wake up in the mornings these days?

  1. Because you’re going to bed too late.
  2. Because it’s dark in the morning.

The first reason, well, we can all work on that. Here’s an article on tricks for better sleep (and insomnia is a common sign of vata imbalance).

The second reveals a deeper phenomenon–our connection to the planets.

Our bodies are hard-wired to function based on the signals in nature. It’s naturally easier to wake up and be functional (activating pitta energy) when the sun is up. It’s instinctive to want to stay snuggled in bed when it’s a damp cloudy day. We should be starting to wind down our energy when the sun sets; it makes sense that our digestive capacity rises and falls with the sun.

On full and new moons, we go through certain emotional cycles (the moon is deeply connected to our limbic system in the brainstem which plays a core role in emotional responses) Because females embody more kapha energy by virtue of the qualities of our reproductive system, we feel this effect more deeply (it’s a water or yin based concept).

Lately, we’ve even, as a culture, become more aware of the effects of mercury on communication and interaction.

There’s a reason that all ancient cultures charted time based on the planets, and had specific practices based on what was happening with the planets. 
There’s a reason astrologers were consulted for all decision making. 
There’s a divine mathematical system of energetic patterns and probability, of the effects the planets have on the energetics of our lives
We can override these signals, but our tissues do go through the effects of imbalances created by not being in tune with the rhythms of nature. Our emotional patterns mirror what is happening on a cellular level, and those in turn are echoed in our experience of life.

It’s dark for a greater part of the day, because we are meant to rest for a greater part of the day. Increasing stillness and being more home-bound grounds us and balances the high vata during this season of vata.

So one great gift you can give yourself is to slow down. Now, it’s time to set the intention for this winter. Make decisions that reduce movement and increase intimacy/ depth of relationships. Family time, baking, crafting, socializing at home, traveling less are all a great fit for vata balancing.

Finding my perfect form of life-sustaining hibernation, Siva

Are Your Fears Blocking Your Wishes?

Sep 8, 2013   //   by smohan   //   Healthy Mind  //  4 Comments

Sometimes I feel too afraid to wish; sometimes too afraid to say my deepest desires out loud.

What is that about?

My dear friend just booked herself on a 2 week Mediterranean cruise with days notice. Of course, my first thoughts went to how I’d be a bit upset if I were her husband, who will have to arrange or take care of two toddlers while working.

She didn’t see it that way.

She didn’t allow herself to feel anything but fully aligned with what she knew in her core was right for her in that moment;

not fear of the money she’d spend, 
not fear of how her kids will handle 2 weeks without mom,
not fear of how her husband would respond,
not fear of anyone else judging her for such a bold move. 


But the bold move wasn’t booking the cruise or leaving town. It was being fully committed to nourishing herself with whatever her spirit called out for so that she can be the best version of herself. This time it happened to be a spiritually based cruise that will allow her the space to gain clarity on some foundational direction shifts in her life, and to raise her vibration. Next time, that may be a digestive cleanse.

It’s not about what you do to meet your needs; It’s about your experience while meeting your needs.

{Tweet, tweet, tweet-a-littly-tweet…}

My pitta-predominant self immediately compared her experience to my own. (This is what is so great about having friends that are living their spiritual path–we help each other expand into our best.)

Dang-it! I could see so clearly how I was shrouded in fear. 

I’ve had Morocco on my vision board for a few years. I always envisioned getting married there on the coast. Two of my dearest friends are leading a yoga and food retreat there. The signs are clear: in my heartspace, it’s a solid yes to Morocco, yes to sharing the experience with my loved ones, and yes to yoga and food!

It’s like the opportunity is standing before me, arms outstretched for a hug. And I’m just peeking at it like a two-year old behind his mother’s leg, not sure if I feel safe enough to embrace it. I realize how I’ve been raised with a base perspective of caution, which is really fear.  I tell my inner child,

Don’t ever apologize for seeking, or being in, your joy. When you are in your greatest joy, you will emanate it to all around you; and that is the greatest thing you can do for anyone.

So, I’m stepping fully into my journey to Morocco. I’m running and jumping into that Universal hug. {woohoo!!}

And guess what? that reduces internal conflict, which means I’m balancing deep-seated vata imbalance in the process-bonus!

I’m marking my calendar, paying my deposit, and getting my bellydance on.  How are you jumping into your joy? I’d love to hear your experience (and have you feel how good it is to proclaim it) in a Comment below!





Creating a Restful Vacation

Aug 7, 2013   //   by smohan   //   Healthy Body  //  2 Comments

My sister just returned from Costa Rica and came back a new woman. She had an inner glow and a feeling of being much more grounded than I usually experience her to be.

This was interesting because usually travel involves so much vata: the irregular nature of routine, new people, new places, not staying at home, and even flying in the air are all powerful vata inputs.

This is why it’s not uncommon for people to come away with constipation, insomnia, dry skin, and other signs of vata imbalance after travel.

We had a long talk about the vacation and the essence of her experience was one of shedding all of her usual ways of approaching things and listening to her inner voice.

She let go of control and went with the flow. Their all-inclusive stay meant she didn’t have any pressure to make decisions (where do we eat, can I afford another mojito, etc.) Once free from her natural tendency to control and calculate and evaluate everything, she was able to hear her spirit more clearly.

In other words, she started making decisions more based on her heart than her mind. “Go sit by the pool to watch the sunrise, ” it said. And she did. “Stop worrying about your friend talking with a random guy” And she did, focusing instead on just enjoying herself.

When you are listening and acting based on your intuition, or inner guidance–this is one of the most powerful ways to stay connected, grounded, and in joy (increase kapha, decrease vata and decrease pitta). Your inner voice will always  lead you to choices that are energetically balancing for you (and then you don’t even have to calculate the VPK of choices).

One of the most powerful ways to decrease the mental noise and “tune in” to your inner GPS, is to go on vacation and free yourself up from your usual patterns of approaching, processing and responding to life.  But you have to do this consciously, as it’s easy to bring your usual way of approaching life on vacation with you.

When I say “the way you approach life,” I’m not talking about what you eat and whether you exercise. I’m talking about the way you make choices in life. The perspective you chose to make those decisions.

For example, if you are usually making choices from a fear or scarcity-based perspective, try to actively let that go and make decisions from a place of “I am well and well-supported.”  If you are used to being uber efficient and goal-oriented in your approach to life, try instead to just be, and take time to intentionally do nothing or slow down. If you are all over the place and pulled in many different directions in the course of a day, try out focusing on one thing and cultivating a healthy routine while on vacation (that could be to wake up, give thanks, and walk on the beach).

Most importantly, create space. Space where nothing is planned or expected of you.; where your decisions can ONLY be based on what you FEEL is best for you in that moment. This is what I believe was originally the healing magic of vacation.

Guess what, you can do that without going anywhere.

Can you create a day of “vacation” in your life in the next two weeks? .

..a day to just listen to what your being wants and to give it that.

Try it and let me know in the comments below, or on our FB page

Vata Pitta Balancing Diet

Jun 26, 2013   //   by smohan   //   Healthy Body  //  No Comments

A question that comes up often is how to eat when more than one dosha is out of balance. Most commonly, vata and pitta combine in excess in the digestive system.

It’s quite common for more than one dosha to be out of balance at the same time.

The simplest approach is to find the overlap between the healing approaches for the two doshas.
Here is an example of how I would focus on the equinox of V and P balancing diet in VP dual doshic imbalance:

warm in temperature
cooked meals
spiced with cooling or neutral culinary spices
avoid pungent spices
sweet taste
heavy, or nurturing in quality
avoid fried foods
favor foods with cooling properties: coconut, fennel bulb (anything with a slightly sweet taste (we can do this without aggravating vata if the food is cooked and spiced)

To get to this approach, I listed out all the ways I would balance V and P separately, and then selected the overlapping facets of the two approaches. There was also a bit of seeing what may really increase or aggravate V or P to see what to avoid.

If you have all 3 doshas out of balance, we recommend cleansing to reset the digestive system. Then a very middleground diet: not too heavy or light, not too spicy or bland. spices that are not too cooling or heating. We’d focus primarily on building healthy agni (digestive capacity).

Vata-Pitta Imbalance

Jun 26, 2013   //   by smohan   //   Ayurveda Basics  //  5 Comments

So having spent the majority of my life in vata-pitta imbalance, I really know how this feels.

The fact that most of us either have a good predominance of vata or pitta in our constitutions, combined with the fact that everyone in an urban environment has a good amount of vata and pitta in their vikruti, means you probably really know how this feels too.

You just may not have the recognition of the facets of vata and pitta present.

Why does it matter?

Well, if you can recognize the vata and the pitta, you can target your solution for coming into balance.

We  feel all imbalances in the mind/emotions before we do in the physical body (if we are actually in touch with our feelings). The dialogue of vata (V) and pitta (P) in the mind may look something like this:

V: I feel so overwhelmed. There’s so much going on, and I don’t feel grounded in any of it.
P: I want to do so much though. I’ve got to work and work out and socialize and take care of all this stuff at home. That’s not going to change. I have to get it together. I should be more on top of this life thing. Everyone else seems to handle it well.
V: Well, I guess I’m not as capable as everyone else. I always seem to be overwhelmed. 
P: What’s going to be the solution?
V: Maybe I just need a vacation…
P: Stop running away and get something done. It’s not that hard. Just make a list. 
V: Then I’ll be overwhelmed by the list. I don’t stick to anything. 
P: Maybe you have a chemical imbalance? You should try some vitamins, or Google “B-12″ deficiency. 
V: Yeah, shopping seems like a great solution! I’ll go buy some supplements at Whole Foods. 

The core of the vata-pitta dance in the mind is a fast, sometimes incessant, spiral of “something’s wrong” and a self critical analysis.

Oftentimes, this can lead to some short lived attempt at getting at the solution: sign up for a webinar,  buy a self-help book, or some acupuncture treatments. The long-term game is to:

1. recognize the features of excess vata and pitta in the mind/body

 Signs of vata imbalance       Signs of pitta imbalance

2. find at least 3 ways that the vata-pitta influx is coming into your life

Look at the major energy inputs in your life: relationships, jobs, routine, food. For example, it could be the transition (vata) into summer (pitta). I could be staying up later (vata) to get more done (pitta). Maybe I had a good amount of tortilla chips (vata) and beer (pitta) in the past few days. Perhaps I’m also feeling unsettled (vata) regarding an unresolved conflict (pitta) in a key relationship in my life.

How do you know which inputs are which dosha? Well, it just takes practice. You have to identify the qualities of that input and then ask yourself which dosha must be present.

3. find a few ways that you can reduce (bring in the opposite qualities of) vata and pitta.

A quick and easy way to decrease excess of any dosha is through changing the qualities of what you eat. Here is a link to what a vata pitta reducing diet may look like.

Vata and Pitta imbalances both benefit greatly from stillness. Create time to just be at home (preferably alone). Hang out with yourself and you’ll feel the benefits.

Both vata and pitta are also diminished by water (warm preferably). A bath, jacuzzi, or steam sauna in the early am/late evening (when it’s most cool in the day so we don’t overheat pitta)

Also, using a vata-pitta reducing oil is a great way to soothe both doshas. (Yes, we carry a lovely PV oil in our online store here!)

Another powerful way to balance both is to complete your intentions. Pitta loves the feeling that things are finished or resolved and vata enjoys not having the overwhelm of that open unfulfilled intention. So pick one thing (yes, only one) and complete it. Then repeat.

Calming Anxiety

Dec 21, 2012   //   by smohan   //   Healthy Mind  //  1 Comment

Here we are, in the cyclone of vata. We see people expressing their imbalances in extremes of all kinds. A great part of what I’m hearing from people is an expression of vata excess, or imbalance, in the mind. While there are many ways to describe a vata state of mind, the key word in our culture seems to be anxiety. When I think of the patterns of my conversations surrounding anxiety, I find they mostly sound something like this:

Q: What is anxiety?
A: It’s a state of vata excess, in the mind and body. It can feel like worry, fear, dread, insecurity, overwhelm, hypersensitivity, poor impulse control, internal conflict, indecision, instability, and you get the idea. A lot of people describe anxiety as feeling stressed.
Q: What do you mean by ‘a state of vata excess, in the mind and body?’
A: It’s an energetic state where there is more vata present in your life than your being prefers. According to ayurveda, we can sense imbalance at the level of spiritual intuition first. If the imbalance remains unrecognized, we will then see  signs of that same imbalance at the level of the emotions and mentation patterns. If the imbalance  remains unaddressed, we  manifest signs and symptoms of that imbalance in the tissues of the body. In my experience, the first tissues affected in the body are the digestive. This is why we are all acutely aware of the effects of stress on our guts.
Q: How do I know if there is more vata present in my life than my being prefers?
A: Simple, if you have an excess of vata energy, you will be seeing signs and symptoms of vata imbalance (see table below).




Feeling like you’ve been doing a lot but still don’t really have a sense of where you are headed in this life, what you are about, or where you feel at “home”; A pervading feeling of restlessness, or being unsettled

trouble sleeping
difficulty focusing
difficulty completing tasks
cycling of emotions
impulsive speech or behavior
addictive tendenciesinterrupting your own thoughts with tangential ones
dry (and itchy) skin
dry hair
brittle nails, dry cuticles
dry lips and mucous membranes
runny nose
dry scratchy throat
dry, itchy eyes
gas, intestinal gurgling, belching
constipation, hard stools, straining
low appetite and bloating
increased coating on tongue
PAIN, especially musculoskeletal
stiff, creaky-cracky joints
dark circles under your eyes
increased urinary frequency
inability to sit still
tremor, unsteadiness in movement
Q: Okay, great. I have a vata imbalance. How did this happen?
A: Don’t feel badly. Practically everyone I know, including myself has vata imbalance. It’s a result of living in a very vata environment–modern urban living. We can see the clear abundance of vata energy in our culture in the incredible amount of movement, transition, and stimuli alone. Modernization, globalization and urbanization are forces high in vata. So  environment is one clear input of vata energy into your being. Vata energy can be coming into your life in as many ways as there are energy. The most common inputs of vata I see in peoples’ lives today are transitions (e.g. divorce, moving, change of career), travel, lack of routine, and eating habits (e.g. processed foods, eating while surfing the internet). This is why most everybody in our modern culture has experienced anxiety on the rise.
Q: Now I’m completely overwhelmed, and don’t remember or didn’t process most of what you said because I was thinking about other things….um, what was I going to say? Oh yeah, so how do I get rid of this extra vata if it’s coming in through all these different ways?
A. The good news is that as you balance vata, you will feel less overwhelmed, and have improved processing and memory. There are as many opportunities to balance vata, as there are inputs of vata. The key here is to choose the opposite qualities of vata in every aspect of your life. So aiming for more warmth, grounding, stability, stillness and nurturance in all facets of your life: relationships, career, routine, and food for example.

For anxiety-relief, ten powerful tools to reduce vata in the mind and nervous system (in no particular order) are:

1. Having a baseline routine. Nobody experiences the same thing everyday, but we can have a baseline to our daily rhythm. Rising and going to bed at approximately the same time, and even having a simple ritual (e.g. drink triphala, go to restroom, read affirmations) in the morning and night can be a very effective way to strengthen circadian rhythms. The stronger your circadian rhythm, the less vata there is in your circadian bodily functions (e.g. appetite, alertness, hormonal patterns), and the less anxiety you will experience in your mind.

2. Brahmari Pranayam. This is “bumblebee” breathwork exercise. I won’t do it justice to just write about it, so stay tuned for a video demo. Or you can look this one up in Light on Yoga by Iyengar. The truth is any exercise to deepen and slow the breath is going to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and reduce anxiety, and as such there are a few types of breathing exercises that can be vata-reducing.

3. Forehead-to-the-ground asana. It’s incredible, but true. Literally placing your forehead to the ground (and taking a few deep breaths while you visualize Mother Earth absorbing all of your excess stress) also calms the stress response which anxiety is a byproduct of. You can be in child’s pose, in any variation of a forward fold, or even just laying flat on your belly, and all of these poses reduce vata.

4. Marma Point Therapy. This is akin to using acupressure on a certain point along an energetic pathway (nadi, or meridian). For anxiety reduction, there is a lovely point on the left hand. More specifically, the marma point is on the left palm just below the middle finger bottom knuckle. For most of us, the bottom of the bottom knuckle is going to be about a quarter to a third of the way down from the top of the palm. Allow the left palm to collapse and relax as you press into the point with your right thumb. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

5. Getting enough sleep. We have all been sleep deprived at some point in our lives, and most of us can remember how vata that felt to be moving through the day floating, half-present, and feeling depleted. Sleep is when the body rejuvenates, so making sure we have enough time in slumber is a great way to allow the nervous system to restore itself, reducing anxiety by addressing root causes.

6. Vata reducing nervines. This is a class of herbs that warms, and rejuvenates the nervous system tissue. Most of these herbs also have grounding effects on the subtle energetic body. My favorites are shankpushpi, jatamamsi (hard to get in the US), ashwagandha, brahmi, and tulsi. See your practitioner for appropriate combinations and dosing.

7. Spending quality time with yourself. By connecting to the experiences that bring you true joy, you can reduce vata and reclaim some of your usual energy expenditure to others. Most of us do not have enough time alone where we are engaging in fun, or quality-time with ourselves. We use our alone time to work or clean or get things done. When we enjoy our alone-time (and prioritize it), we ending up grounding in our sense of self and purpose and reduce vata in a powerful way.

8. Consciously reduce the multi-tasking. Focusing on one thing at a time, and completing the activity, is a great way to reduce vata in the mind. The more we try to do at once, the more scattered and anxious we feel, and the less likely we are to produce quality outcomes.

9. Shirodhara. This is a lovely ayurvedic body therapy which involves dripping herbal oil over the third eye (6th chakra) and allowing the warm oil to coat the entire scalp. You can find this at any ayurvedic healing center, and even may upper end spas. Warm oil scalp massage at home produces similiar anxiety reducution, especially when done regularly.

10. Meditate. Most people I know begin meditation because they want to address their anxiety, or stress. Everyone with a regular meditation practice will report diminished symptoms of vata in the mind, including anxiety.


The Real Reason We Gain Weight

Nov 20, 2012   //   by smohan   //   Healthy Body  //  No Comments

In reality, holding on to weight and looking older (and feeling it) are two expressions of the same root cause: depletion. The habits we cultivate over our lives which result in depletion (vata imbalance), are the same that result in unhealthy eating and exercise patterns, and poor self care. I’m describing a primary vata imbalance with a secondary kapha accumulation of weight. For those that don’t speak ayurveda, that’s akin to saying the body holds on to everything when it knows it’s running “in the red” (energetic deficit). While addressing lifelong patterns may take a while (and a long term supportive environment), there are a few things we can do to see some quick changes in our vitality and our figures. Essentially, we need to address both vata and kapha, but moreso the primary vata imbalance. Here are my top 10 tips to looking, and more importantly, feeling younger and less heavy:

1. Drop the salad (and the dried nuts). All diet foods are vata. Overweight people are drawn to these foods because they believe they will help them lose weight. When that doesn’t happen, it’s confusing for some, but evidence of the fact that this is not a simple situation due to just eating fatty foods. Avoiding vata foods is a good way to get your body out of the sense of depletion. Favor warm, and moist foods that are also low-fat.

2. Oil your body. I recommend using an organic oil (we carry medicinal grade herbal oils without any preservatives) everyday AFTER your shower. This is a modification from traditional abhyanga for our vata culture. Again, we are reducing depletion by feeding the tissues through the skin, and reducing vata. In addition, massage stimulates microcirculation which helps to increase fat metabolism (this is why some spas claim to have slimming treatments.)

3. Go to bed on time. I’m hoping this one is self-explanatory on reducing depletion, and vata. You get bonus points if you go to bed around the same time and develop a stronger circadian rhythm to support healthy metabolism. 

4. Even out your meals. The theory on having 5 small meals/day works because it is based on supporting thyroid function. If you are getting a nice steady stream of fuel to your main engine (reducing vata to the thyroid), it will work more efficiently than if you starve it for long periods of time and then flood it. This may not be the best approach for people that have low appetite in the morning. Don’t force yourself to eat if you are not hungry. Just make sure you have food available when your body is ready for it. When you are hungry eat; when you are full, stop. 

5. Wake and walk. This is the best way to melt kapha, and gets your metabolism up in the beginning of the day. Just get up and move before you have the time to think about not doing it. You’ll have to force it the first few days and then it will feel so great, you’ll feel off if you don’t do it. 

6. Spice your food. This is important for reducing both vata and kapha. Supporting the digestion of what you do it prevents accumulation. Also, spices help to decrease fat in the body as well. 

7. Avoid any cold dairy. Ice-cream is not your friend, nor is cold yogurt or cottage cheese or a tall glass of milk, when you are in secondary kapha imbalance. If you bring in dairy, make sure it is cooked and spiced (e.g. spiced warm milk, or cheese in lasagna).

8. Personalized portion control. Cup your two hands together to form the shape of a bowl. This is your personal portion size (level, not heaping). It’s nice to find a bowl in your kitchen that is that size and use it to monitor your portions. Of course, stop eating if you feel full before finishing this amount. Try to avoid eating more than this personal portion.

9. Eat healthy sweets in moderation. Again, avoiding extremes where we deprive ourselves and then swing the other way and binge. Healthy sweets, like dates, and all sorts of goodies at health food stores are good in moderation. Give yourself a daily allowance that you feel good about and stick to it. (recent post on craving sweets)

10. Process your emotions. I laugh that this is on a “top 10″ list because it can be a lot of work. It can also be as simple as journaling. The more you digest your emotions, the less you feel you need to hold on to on a subconscious level. The strong relationship between emotions and eating patterns and weight has been well established in Western medicine. In ayurveda, the fat tissues are proportional to the amount of love we need. So by loving yourself, nurturing your emotional needs, you can actually decrease your need for extra padding against the ups and downs of life.





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