Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Life doesn't always go as planned.  Good things happen, things fall apart and the renewal process starts all over again.  I see this in life and inside of me.  Therefore, when I take on all things Ayurveda this month, I realize it is an imperfect process.  I practice conscious eating, but some nights I just have to snack standing up in my kitchen on cheddar cheese slices, snap peas and cashews.  It just happens, and I'm ok with that.  When I write about the neti pot and how great it is, the next day I'll choke and cough and curse the bloody little kettle.  That's how life goes.  The body brush may scratch me, the new Ayurveda recipe may taste like crap or the whole thing may feel like a waste of time.  But other days things will flow, I'll run in the pouring rain and love every second of this imperfect, silly and honest life.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dry Body Brushing

Dr. Adolfo recommended dry body brushing as a way to help eliminate toxins, refresh the skin and improve blood circulation.  When I hear about many natural, subtle health techniques, I ask myself, "Does this really do anything?"  Or perhaps, "How effective is this method?"  Well, I've learned that if I relax and enjoy the process, I benefit from small daily improvements.  In the West we often want immediate and dramatic results in order to prove effectiveness, but Ayurveda is centered on preventative health. 

Using a natural bristle brush with a long handle, I brush the skin in long strokes towards the liver (low right side of waistline).  Starting with the arms, I create a path and imagine "dumping" any toxins off for cleansing at my liver.  Then I brush legs and waistline, making sure to pass the lymph nodes.  Like many alternative health treatments, visualization and personal "buy-in" seem to be crucial in this subtle technique.

An article at Examiner.com states that, "Body brushing only takes about five minutes prior to showing or bathing. This process does several things:
1. stimulates the sebaceous glands which encourages natural moisturizing of your skin
2. removes the top layer of dead cells which leads to significant exfoliation and softer, silkier skin
3. improves circulation and increases blood flow to the surface of the body
4. activates the entire lymphatic system
5. aids in the detoxification of the body
6. encourages new cell growth
7. controls and prevents cellulite."

An article in the Yoga Journal reminds me that "In modern Western terms, we might call this a symbolic cleansing, or note that mindfully carrying out a physical process, like body care, can have a meditative effect," she says. Simply put, the benefits are more than skin deep."  One reason Ayurveda appeals to me is because it includes many spa-type beauty and health treatments.  Who wouldn't love that?  Here's a short video I found about body brushing from a spa in Colorado:  http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1296214/dry_brushing_healthy_body_treatment_in_basalt_colorado/

I hope to take full advantage of as many Ayurvedic treatments as possible this month!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Neti pot

Do you like sticking things up your nose?  Do you enjoy clear breathing passages?  Well then the Neti Pot is for you!  I started using the little blue pot and salt packets a few months ago in hopes of relieving my stuffy nose and respitory congestion. 

It was rough going at first, but now I have the technique down.  The trick is to tilt your head to the side so that the warm salt water can run up one nostril and out the other.  You must breathe through your mouth while this "nasal irrigation" occurs.  When you blow your nose afterwards, things clear out and positive results are instantaneous.  Sometimes, however, your nasal passages can be so severly blocked that no water will flow, and then you're out of luck until a later time when water can flow. 

The Neti Pot is an Ayurvedic remedy that was recommended by my Western and Eastern doctors.  Not many natural techniques have been embraced so universally.  Many ear, nose, and throat surgeons recommend nasal irrigation with a Neti pot or other method for their patients who've undergone sinus surgery, to clear away crusting in the nasal passages. Many patients with sinus symptoms from bacterial infections, allergies, and environmental irritants also have begun to regularly use the Neti pot or other nasal irrigation devices, claiming that these devices alleviate congestion, facial pain and pressure, and reduce the need for antibiotics and nasal sprays. Research backs up these claims, finding that nasal irrigation can be an effective way to relieve sinus symptoms when used along with standard sinus treatments. http://www.webmd.com/allergies/sinus-pain-pressure-9/neti-pots

Recently I heard that a behavior becomes a habit after 21 days. I've incorporated the Neti Pot in my morning routine before my shower. It only takes a few minutes now that I've mastered the technique.  I'm hoping to make many Ayurvedic practices part of my normal routine and enhance my health overall.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Indian flavor

I love Indian food.  Since Ayurveda originated in India, it only makes sense to experiment with Indian foods this month.  I started with Trader Joe's Curry Simmer Sauce.

I followed the instructions on the jar: add 1 cup water and cook 1-inch pieces of chicken for about 15 minutes.  Part way through I added onion and red bell pepper for extra veggie goodness.  I served this mixure over a brown rice medley and was pleasantly surprised with the results.  Delicious!  I'm going to consider this first attempt a success.

I'm envisioning local spice stores or perhaps an Indian cooking class in my future.  A quick internet search revealed an Indian chef that gives classes out of her kitchen in Bellevue.  Her name is Karuna, and I must meet her.  Ready, go!

My Ayurveda Resource

This month my primary resource for help with Ayurveda is the Kerala Ayurveda Academy in Wallingford, especially my doctor, Teri Adolfo.  I dream of someday enrolling in their training program to become an Ayurveda Wellness Practitioner.  The opportunity to travel and study abroad in India appeals to me on many levels.  I consider this month exploratory research.

Conscious Social Eating

This week I've really been thinking about eating with awareness.  Since I live alone, it is easy to sit at my table, enjoy my meal and relax for a few minutes like the guidelines suggest.  However, I often eat with friends or in social environments.  For example, yesterday when the Huskies crushed the baby Cougs (Go Dawgs!) I munched on game snacks like cheese, veggies and dip, crackers, chips, etc.  When the food doesn't take the shape of a meal (i.e. single portion on a plate), it's hard to gauge how much to eat.  Additionally, when it's displayed and out for hours at a time, grazing becomes the norm.  It's hard to be aware of every bite in that environment.

Also this week, I attended an incredible event called the Tom Douglas Cookbook Social at the Palace Ballroom.  That evening was heaven.  Local authors came together to create delicious samples from their cookbooks.  My friend, Kiara, and I savored the fried chicken with champagne, dungeness crab bites with avocado and other tasty treats.  A few minutes into the event, after sipping pumpkin soup and tempeh with pineapple, she wondered if she was full or not.  Sometimes it's hard to tell.  The Ayurveda guideline of eating until 2/3 full can be tricky when you can't feel your stomach signals in a fun and festive environment.

A huge highlight of the Cookbook Social was meeting Shauna, the Gluten-Free Girl.  During my gluten-free month, I ate up her book and even emailed her to tell her how much I loved it.  At that time I received an automatic message that she was unable to respond to all of her messages.  Sad face.  However, meeting her in person was inspiring and exciting.  I was able to taste her food from her new cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.  It definitely felt like a celebrity sighting.

As I plunge into the holidays and eating at social gatherings, I am going to try to stay aware and stay conscious in order to move forward with this ayurveda month.  No matter what happens, I know I love food, love my body and want to enjoy the best that this season has to offer.