ayurveda

Ayurveda 101: How to Easily Reduce Inflammation and Stop Bloating

Inflammation is a natural response of the body to fight infection. However when inflammation gets beyond control and starts causing pain it needs to be controlled. Pain is often accompanied by swelling. Ayurveda defines pain as an excess of  vata or air in the body. Where there is swelling and pain there is excess vata. Increased Vata moves freely between the joints causing pain and inflammation and at times blocking the normal functioning of the body.
To reduce this inflammation ayurveda prescribes a reduction in air within the body. Air is considered as drying, rough, cooling so eating foods that are the opposite of these qualities will reduce the free movement of air in the body. So instead of dry foods opt for oily foods like ghee, butter and milk. Favour cooked foods over raw foods as raw foods are considered rough and increase the vata element. You can go back to raw foods once the vata is balanced i.e the inflammation goes away. Eat freshly cooked food and avoid kept food even if the food is reheated, it is considered cold.

Move it on Out

Opt for Yoga asanas that stretch the body and reduce swelling. Go at a slower pace. Slower paced yoga will move fluids like lymph and blood at the right pace. Movement is important otherwise there will be water retention. Water retention tends to put additional pressure on the capillaries. Practice the asanas in a cool room - not heated or cold. Some postures or asanas help increase strength and flexibility of the joints. These are:
Half spinal twist (Supta Baddha Konasana)
This pose opens the pelvis, belly, chest, and throat. By supporting the legs, circulation and blood flow within the pelvic region. This  increases flexibility and improves digestion. This is also an excellent pose to get relief from migraines.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Tadasana stretches the entire leg muscle and provides a gentle stretch to the arms and shoulders. It helps with inflammation of the feet due to bad footwear, long periods of standing, general wear and tear, bunions or even sorenes. By stretching the arches you provide relief to the feet. Tadasana separates the toes creating room for circulation and stretches the arches.
Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana)
This pose is fantastic for the knees as the stretch relieves chronic knee pain due to inflammatory or degenerative bone disorders. Since the ankle is neutral, there is no stress on either the toes or arches. This pose strengths the arches. It also opens the shoulders so if there is inflammation due to a frozen shoulder, this pose helps.
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
In the trikonasana the front ankle is extended which helps to ground the foot as well as the big toe. Great if swelling is in the big toe as to reach the ankle you have to keep the mound of the toe grounded.
Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
The tree pose is a gentle way to stretch the arms. It also increases circulation around the knees, ankle and elbows. Increased circulation results in lessening pf inflammation.
Bridge Posture (SetuBandhasana)
Great for the knees as most of the pressure is taken by the shoulders and back

Breathe Freely

Follow up the yoga asanas with pranayama to cool the body and bring balance. Pranayama calms inflammation and soothes the body. By bringing cooling breath and oxygen to the body, you also calm the mind.

Fuel the Solution

Add a few ingredients from the kitchen shelf to restore balance to the body and reduce inflammation. If Sinus inflammation has got you down then drink plenty of water flavored with spices, to cleanse the sinuses of toxins and to allow the toxic waste that has built up to flow out. A drink made from boiling herbs like mint (8 leaves), lemongrass (one shoot), peppercorns (2-3), basil (4 leaves), ginger (2-3 thin slices) will soothe the inflamed areas and bring relief from pain. Boil the ingredients with a glass of water till the water reduces to half. Sip this warm tea three times a day for a couple of days. Other spices that warm the body and reduce inflammation are spices like Ginger, garlic, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin and cardamom. Try incorporating these in your diet and see the inflammation reduce over a couple of days.
Make changes in eating habits. Eliminate saturated oils completely  from your diet. Omega-6 fatty acids found in corn, soybean, and cottonseed oils increase inflammation in the body. Trans fats commonly found in baked goods like shortening and margarine should also be avoided. Instead opt for omega-3 fatty acids naturally available in fish. Keep refined carbohydrates and refined sugar at a distance as these increase the blood sugar which may result in more inflammation.

Sabinder Singh is a Yoga enthusiast, Reiki Master and freelance writer. She has been healing with reiki through distance reiki healing showers and believes that yoga is important to bring about a balance in the body, mind and spirit. You can read more of her articles  at: http://www.onboardthereikibus.com/ 

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Feature image via: Sonny Abesamis

6 Ayurveda-filled Tips for Easier Travel

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Beat jetlag, dehydration, and other travel-related troubles with Ayurveda. Whether you’re heading off to Spring Break or getting ready for the Summer season of yoga and music festivals, it’s hard to stay balanced on the road. Why? Because when you travel your body moves faster than nature intended and you disconnect from your daily rhythm. Travel by trains, planes or automobiles aggravates Vata dosha - the energy of movement—by increasing the light, mobile and spacey quality of your body and mind. This can cause dehydration, insomnia, sluggish digestion, anxiety, forgetfulness, constipation and jet lag. But here’s the good news: Ayurveda offers a number of tips to keep you grounded and balanced so you can enjoy your vacation while avoiding the common imbalances associated with travel.

 

1. Stay Hydrated

This may seem like a no-brainer but staying hydrated is key to staying balanced while traveling. Drink lots of water and avoid beverages like coffee, alcohol, and soda, which are dehydrating, and the bubbles from the carbonation in soda aggravate Vata.

 

2. Eat Foods That Are Grounding

6 Ayurveda-Filled Tips for Easier Travel - www.YogaTravelTree.com

Avoid dry raw foods like salad, dried fruit, and airplane pretzels, which I know are all the travel favorites. Choose warm moist foods like oatmeal, steamed veggies, sweet potatoes and warm soups.

 

3. Do Yoga

Get creative with your yoga practice while traveling. You can do yoga at the airport, in your seat or while pumping gas on a road trip. Simple forward folds, legs up the wall and twists are all good choices. If you’re on a long flight be sure to get up and walk occasionally and do a few standing poses.

 

4. Love Your Soles

6 Ayurveda-Filled Tips for Easier Travel - www.YogaTravelTree.com

Massage the soles of your feet with sesame oil and lavender before bed. This is a great practice while traveling or anytime to ground your energy and reduce insomnia. Also lavender is great to have on the plane. A little on your wrist or back of neck to calm the nervous system. When I’m on long flights, like flying to India, I always have lavender and a few other of my favorite essential oils with me. Lavender has many uses but while traveling its anti-bacterial properties and ability to reduce motion sickness are helpful.

 

5. Get Sun

Did you know that sunlight reduces jet lag? When you reach your destination, go outside and let the sun soak your skin for 20 minutes. Ayurveda tells us that spending time in nature resets your body’s internal clock to local time.

 

6. Try Triphala

Constipation is a common imbalance associated with travel. Triphala is an Ayurvedic herbal remedy that prevents constipation and can help with jet lag. Triphala is made of three fruits and is loaded with vitamin C, so it’s great for boosting your immune system too.

 

Enjoy the Adventure!

 

Images via: @claxton_reps, @fruitfulandfaithful, @atapayoga,

Ayurvedic Massage in India: The Blissful and Awkward Truth

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India is a Leading Destination for Ayurvedic Treatments and Massage

There is no question of the benefits of an Ayurvedic regime. In fact, we could all benefit by incorporating some of these practices into our daily lives.

But though the idea and practice of Ayurvedic massage is decadent, rarely have I had a massage outside of the United States that went anything like I expected. My Ayurvedic massage in India was no different and I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you what you’ll be getting into so you can lay back, relax and fully enjoy your experience.

 

Four Hands and a Language Barrier

As you enter the small, elaborately decorated and fragrant room, there will be two Indian women ready to disrobe you and begin their work. They do not speak your language and you, most likely, do not speak theirs. If you have any special areas of discomfort you’d like them to avoid, discuss it with the Ayurvedic doctor prior to your massage and make sure your concerns are communicated to the masseuse.

 

Have No Shame

The two women will motion for you to disrobe. They’re not going to leave and they won’t understand (or have much patience for) your protests if you have any. Just trust that they have seen it all before. As you stand there to undress, they will stand there too. We Americans like to leave on an item or two (a masseuse in New Zealand told me this is a practice unique to Americans). Don’t be modest. Take it all off or it will actually be more awkward for all of you. Once you've disrobed, they (might) wrap a paper loin cloth around your, ehem... parts and you will sit on a stool. They will ask you to take your hair down and begin massaging sesame oil onto your scalp. Once you get used to the idea of having warm oil saturating every inch of your face and hair, it is actually very enjoyable and relaxing. Close your eyes and succumb to the process.

 

Full Frontal

After the scalp massage, you’ll lay on a long wooden table that has channels along the edges for oil and water to drain off. The four hands will begin massaging at your toes and move all the way up to your head. Then you’ll flip over and they’ll do the other side. There is no sheet, there is no towel over your rump, just you, your flimsy loin cloth and the four hands. Let go and let it feel good.

Yoga Adventure Retreat 2015

The Scrub-down

After the oil massage and what feels like four hours, they will rinse you off. You’ll think you’re done, but then your super soft, oily skin will be invigorated by a new sensation. The four hands will begin to scrub. You won’t know it’s coming, so you’ll try to lift your head and open one eye. What you’ll see is your body covered in brown sludge. Again, I am writing this article as a service, to tell you what to expect so you can enjoy your experience; so you’ll know what’s coming, appreciate the process and feel good. The four hands will not apply your mud-scrub gently unless you make a big reaction and scrunch your face in pain. Feel free to do just that, from experience, it works…kind of.

 

The Awkward Part

After what must be the fifth hour (in reality only 90 minutes), they’ll start to pour warm water over the mud to rinse it away. It will feel amazing. It will also feel like you need about 15 more buckets. But you’ll be tapped on the forehead, open your eyes and be motioned to get up from the table. The four hands will usher you into the wet room where they will begin to douse and rub your naked body with buckets of warm water. Most likely, this will be the closest thing you've had to a hot shower in weeks and, as weird as it is, you will enjoy it immensely, even if it is administered by four hands that aren't yours. The four hands still won’t be able to get all the scrub off though, so they’ll let you take over and you’ll dump a bucket over your head and rinse and rinse and rinse until the water turns light brown and your hair maybe doesn't smell like peanut butter anymore. Then you’ll grab the tiny towel, pat dry and put on your clothes while the four hands stand by, demurely waiting to usher you out.

 

Don't Miss Out

There are so many benefits of Ayurvedic massage for the mind, body and spirit. This technique is well known for revitalizing the body, balancing the doshas, eliminating toxins, boosting the immune system, relaxing tension and tight muscles, lowering blood pressure, cleansing the lymphatic system and easing stress. The list goes on and on.

Make sure you choose a reputable place and, if possible, get a recommendation from word of mouth. But make sure you get your Ayurvedic massage…in fact, don’t miss it. And know what you’re getting into so you can enjoy everything about the experience and relax into bliss!

 

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Kristin Daemon is a yoga teacher, freelance writer and owner of Seaside Yoga, a new studio in the small town of Seaside, Oregon on the rugged Pacific Northwest coast.  You can find and friend her on Facebook or check out and follow her blog, kristindaemon.com.

 

Images via: @Ayurvedia

5 Kickass Reasons to go on a Ayurveda Yoga Retreat

Ayurveda is Awesome, See for Yourself

 

I’m sure we are all familiar with the concept of going on a health retreat, the wellness travel industry has boomed in recent years with spa breaks, yoga holidays and spiritual journeys popping up every-where from Brazil to Bali.

However, believe it or not, retreats are not actually a modern day phenomenon born of our stressful times. In India, wellness retreats have been used regularly for quite a while...like 5000 years.

Ayurveda, India’s classical system of natural medicine, encourages the important concept of taking a break several times a year to rest and rejuvenate the body with a cleansing diet, detoxification practices, massages and yoga. And in recent years, this sage wisdom has been catching on to stressed out Westerners, with many finding these ancient Ayurvedic principles needed now more than ever.

So why go on an Ayurvedic retreat rather than a regular yoga holiday?

 

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5 Things that Make Ayurvedic Retreats Unique:

 

1. It’s 5000 years old. They know what they’re doing.

Like I said before, Ayurveda is incredibly ancient, in fact, it is one of the oldest forms of medicine in the world. It also has a rich and complex philosophy behind it, with many Ayurvedic practitioners studying for many years before gaining qualification, and then often gaining experience in Ayurvedic clinics and hospitals under more experienced doctors.

 

2. Prevention is better than cure.

Ayurveda literally means “the science of life”, and the whole system is based on achieving harmony between your physical, mental and spiritual bodies. Through regular rest, cleansing and healthful practices we give ourselves a total tune-up, lessening the likelihood of manifesting stress and lifestyle-caused diseases later on.

 

3. Your program will be as individual as you are

According to Ayurveda, each of us is made up of a unique and different balance of elemental influences, known as doshas. Corresponding to air, water and fire, these elements can become imbalanced resulting in stress or disease. A good Ayurvedic practitioner will determine how you are imbalanced, and design a unique program of herbal medicines, specific body treatments, yoga poses and dietary choices to bring you back into a state of balance and ease.

 

4. You will relax like never before

How often do you spend a whole week to one month totally taking care of yourself? Many Ayurvedic retreats these days are held at beautiful boutique resorts and usually feature a good 2 hours a day of massages and bodywork. Add in some gentle yoga and meditation, clean food, plenty of time to snooze or read by the pool, and a stress-free environment and you will come home feeling like you are floating on clouds.

 

5. The destination is half the fun.

Maybe I am a purist, but I believe if you are going to indulge in an authentic, exotic treatment, get it done in it’s home of origin. The best huna massage is in Hawaii. The best shiatsu is in Japan. And the best Ayurveda is in Kerala, South India. For those of you who have a mental image of India as chaos and craziness, think again. Kerala is a lush, tropical wonderland of white beaches, swaying coconut palms and snaking jungle backwaters dotted with peaceful villages. This is the home of Ayurveda.

Experiencing it at its source really is half the fun.

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Sharee James is the director of Ashima Journeys, a boutique tour company specializing in wellness retreats, yoga holidays and spiritual journeys in some of the world’s most beautiful and sacred locations. A qualified naturopath, yoga teacher and self-confessed travel junkie, Sharee takes great pleasure in creating unique tours and retreats that integrate local healing and spiritual traditions with an authentic and exciting travel experience. For new tours and updates, sign up to her newsletter on her website, and check out her Facebook and Twitter communities.

 

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Images via: Be Conscious Traveler, @rtammy86