Ayurveda

Vitamin or Pain Killer

‘Your role as a Yoga Health Coach is more like a Vitamin than a Pain Killer’, my mentor explains. In other words, as a health coach I work to support people to optimize their health and prevent disease by  listening to their bodies natural intelligence, rather than react once symptoms occur. Yoga health coaching helps you to read the signs.

This analogy reminded me of when Dr Robert Svoboda (American author and Ayurvedic Doctor) spoke in Sydney last year, he was interviewed by western GP, Dr Mark Donohoe. Dr Donohoe described a visit to the doctor, as like a visit to the smash repairer, the doctor usually deals with the ‘what’ rather than the ‘why’.

Don’t get me wrong, western medicine is incredible, I wouldn’t be here today without it. We need western doctors but we could also learn to understand our bodies and the different dimensions of the body-mind connection, why do we get sick and well again? This is where Yoga Health Coaching comes in, it’s like a users guide to our physiology.

Yoga, Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine all offer wisdom on preventative health, they all teach awareness, how to tune into the whispers of our bodies so we can take the responsibility of our health into our own hands, take our power back and heal ourselves. In other words, living in our bodies and not just our heads. Looking within ourselves rather than externally for someone to ‘fix’ us with a ‘pill in a bill’.

You see, I’ve tried the ‘pill in a bill’ approach before to help with severe migraines. It may work for the short term but doesn’t work in the long term. Not if you care about being able to rely […]

Bedtime Ritual: Foot Massage

If you’ve had a stressful day, a warm sesame oil foot massage is a wonderful way to help you relax and sleep well. Watch my short video (2min) to find out what to do…

When we are stressed our energy is contained in the upper body, tight shoulders anyone…. massaging your feet will help to ground this energy.

Use sesame oil to pacify Vata (wind and ether elements). Seasame oil is rich in vitamins (A,B and E) as well as the minerals iron, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, silicic acid and calcium. Sesame oil is also rich in antioxidants, linoleic acid and alpha-linoleic acid; its lecithin content is beneficial to the nervous system.

Sesame oil is warming so great to use in cold weather.

Have a beautiful sleep twinkle toes!

Justine

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Ref: Ayurvedic Massage by Harish Johari

How to use a Neti Pot

Benefits

The Neti Pot is a Yogic Tool that has been used for thousands of years to help alleviate sinus and allergy problems. It can also help with colds and infections. If you have a cold use the Neti Pot a couple of times a day to help flush out any infection. This practice also has a soothing effect on the mind and is often used before meditation.

Directions

Fill your neti pot according to the instructions that came with it. (Use approximately one teaspoon of good quality sea salt per half litre of water.) If you experience any burning or stinging sensation there maybe too much salt in the mixture.
Ensure the water is warm or room temperature and is either distilled, sterile or previously boiled.
Tilt your head over a sink at approximately 45-degree angle.
Place the spout in your top nostril and pour the water in – breath through your mouth.
Dry the nostril by blowing the nose or exhaling out the nostril.
If the water runs into the mouth or throat, adjust the position of the head.
Repeat on second side.

 

Give it a try and let me know how you go!

justine

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Do you oil pull?

Oil pulling is the simple act of swishing oil around the mouth. Along with brightening and whitening your teeth naturally, this practice brings benefits to the whole body including the immune system.

This ancient therapy has been around for thousands of years and has its roots in Ayurveda. I’ve been hooked on oil pulling for the last few years because I’ve noticed the benefits to my teeth and gums. My teeth look whiter and brighter, my gums no longer bleed when I eat spicy food or brush my teeth, and I notice the boost it gives my immune system.

Oil pulling is so effective at removing bad bacteria from our mouth because the coating on bacteria is attracted to the fat in the oil. When we oil pull we are literally removing or ‘pulling’ the disease causing bacteria from between the teeth, around the gums, from the roof of the mouth and under the tongue. By cleansing the mouth this way we are preventing oral bacteria seeping into the bloodstream and causing inflammation in the body.

Our bodies are constantly accumulating toxins. We live in a society that is becoming more and more polluted, through the air we breathe, chemicals in our foods, environmental pollutants and even in cosmetics. Oil pulling is a simple, natural and effective practice that reduces the toxic load on our bodies and doesn’t harm the environment.

To achieve the benefits of oil pulling you need to practice regularly, once a day is ideal. The recommended time to swish the oil around the mouth is 15-20min. The best time of day is in the morning, 15-20min may sound like a long time but you can use this time to take your shower or prepare for your day.

Traditionally sesame oil (a warming oil) is used but you can also use coconut oil (a cooling oil). Personally I prefer coconut oil because I like the taste. […]

Do you wear sunglasses at night?

I love screens, I love my phone, and I like playing computer games at night, and enjoy curling up in bed reading from my ipad. The problem is as I journey down the yogic path and tune more into cause and effect, I notice when I don’t use screens at night I sleep a whole lot better…

Why?

Exposure to light at night interferes with your circadian rhythm and suppresses melatonin secretion. Melatonin is made in the pineal gland (connected to our third eye) and is the hormone that controls our sleep and wake cycles. Any artificial light at night can interfere with your circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion but the worst offender is blue light.

Harvard researches have now shown that blue light suppresses melatonin for twice as long as green light, red light suppresses it the least. Unfortunately blue light is the light emitted by backlit portable screens, as well as energy efficient lighting. How annoying!

The research also states, ‘Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep…researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.’

I’m currently studying natural rhythms and how we evolve body habits so I’m really interested in this research. Adjusting your rhythms to adapt to the rhythms of nature is one of the best ways to increase your energy levels. Check out my post on amplifying your energy here.

What can you do?

I don’t fancy wearing those Bono style blue light-blocking glasses and I’m not going to stop using technology.

The most practical advice I can follow is to switch off screens one hour or even two hours if you can manage before going to […]

Increase Immunity – more tips from ‘The Ancients’…

When I refer to the ‘Ancients’, I’m not talking about my parents or even my grandparents, I’m thinking about wisdom passed down from thousands of years ago. Let’s look at two ancient systems Ayurveda from India and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) from China. What similar guidance have these traditional systems sent us?

Three layers of the body are recognized in each system, the Physical Layer, the Mental Layer and the Subtle Layer. As a yoga teacher, I’m curious about the Subtle Body. The non-visible energy channels that travel through the body are recognized in Ayurveda and are called Nadi’s and they are also acknowledged in TCM and are called Meridians, many pressure points along these energy lines are similar in both systems. To access the subtle body, both ancient wisdoms link breath and movement, think, Tai Chi, Yoga as well as Meditation.

Elements feature in both systems, TCM recognizes the five elements Fire, Water, and Earth, and in Ayurveda the 5 elements are Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Importantly, both systems recognize the microcosm and macrocosm idea, what is outside is also inside, each constantly influencing and affecting the other. In other words how we interact with our environment will hugely influence our energy.

Practices such as Yoga, Tai Chi and Meditation are the best way to start to access the subtle body. When we strengthen and heal the subtle body we will amplify our energy but also strengthen our body on a cellular level and build immunity. To dive in deeper come and try a yin yoga class!

See you on the mat!

Justine

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5 Tips from the Ancients to Amplify Your Energy

We are primates and part of nature, so to access deeper and more stable energy reserves we need to align with the rhythms and energies of Mother Nature. In a nutshell ancient wisdom teaches us that to deepen energy five points are important:

Adapt to the Daily Rhythms of Nature; align your internal circadian rhythms with that of nature, rise around the time of the sun, wind down earlier in the evening. Eat your largest meal in the middle of the day when digestion is strongest.
Adapt to the Seasonal Rhythms of Nature; become aware of the weather outside and adapt the body to suit, for example when it’s cold and damp eat warm and nourishing foods, eat seasonally. (Common sense that’s not that common.)
Access the Subtle Body regularly; use breath and movement to tune into your interior space and energy.
Listen to your bodies’ natural intelligence; you have all you need within.
Simplify and slow down; create more space in your life to create more space in your mind.

Living in an urban jungle, it’s easy to override Mother Nature and her rhythms. Artificial forms of energy help with a quick fix, but operating like this long term will eventually lead to dis-ease in the body. Practices such as Yoga, Tai Chi and Meditation are the first steps leading to Subtle Body awareness. This awareness will help you align to the rhythms of nature and amplify your energy. Inhale deeply, then exhale…

enjoy!

Justine

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Why you love fast food

Do you crave, the salty, sweet and sour taste of fast food? Did you know that consuming these three tastes have certain physical and energetic affects on the body?
 
These are the three tastes that are most common in Western Diets, they are also the three tastes that pacify Vata? For those of you not familiar with Ayurveda, Vata is the wind and ether elements in the body. When Vata is out of balance in the body some of the symptoms are stress, anxiousness, hyperactivity, restlessness or nervousness. Therefore when we consume these flavours it gives us the sensation of releasing some of these symptoms, i.e. stress release, feelings of comfort. Have you ever noticed someone who is stressed adding lots of salt (salty taste) to their meals and sipping alcohol (sour taste) or reaching for a cake, chocolate or even something like a big bowl of pasta (sweet).
 
The Upside
 
When we consume foods with the sweet taste the effect on the body is soothing, satisfying, comforting, it can even be blissful! When we consume foods with the salty taste it will enhance the appetite and make everything taste delicious. Sour foods also stimulated the appetite and can make us feel more alert. No wonder fast food is so popular in Western Society.
 
The Downside
 
When you consume these three flavours, sweet, salty and sour, in excess there is a negative impact on the body. We all know the effect too much sweet taste has on the body, it increases weight. Did you know that excess salt would weaken the kidneys and aggravate stomach acidity. Too much sour can lead to an increase in acidity in the body. Hmm…so think, obesity, adrenal burnout (related to the […]

Aloe, Aloe – 12 ways to use Aloe Vera

It warms my heart when I notice my kids harvest Aloe Vera, split it open and rub it on their cuts and scrapes. I have succeeded in teaching them something, they know that Aloe Vera is a living first aid plant, soothing, healing, cooling and calming, how cool is that (excuse the pun)! This plant has a long and rich history, it has been used medicinally for over 5000 years, Cleopatra used it as part of her beauty routine and it is mentioned in the Bible.

This plant is heavy, unctuous and slimy (Kapha qualities for those interested in Ayurveda), although it looks spiky it is a very nurturing plant. Aloe Vera is super useful and it grows really well in pots, so no matter how small your home; you can always find space for a small Aloe Vera plant!

Commercial Aloe Vera juices are often diluted and combined with unwanted additives, so I would encourage you to grow your own plant. Here are 12 of the many benefits of this wonderful plant that the American Indians call ‘The Wand of Heaven’:

Aloe Vera is widely used for many skin conditions, it is an excellent healer for cuts and wounds, and this plant has amazing antibacterial properties, rub the gel directly on.
This plant is high in vitamins and minerals so helps boost the immune system.
Aloe Vera contains Vitamins A, C, E (along with K and B12) so it is fantastic for the skin, just rub the gel directly on your face to cleanse before you moisturise.
Make a homemade facemask, scrape the gel straight from inside the leaf of the plant, mix with some honey, apply to your face – leave for 20min while you relax and then […]

Dinacharya – Daily Routine

How aligned are you to the daily rhythms of nature?

It is easy to get out of sync with natural rhythms. Demanding careers, busy social lives, family pressure and exponential improvements in technology that mean we are plugged in 24/7,  all take their toll on the body.

For a long time I have been a night owl, I enjoyed being a creature of the night, staying up all night, going clubbing, hanging out with friends or playing computer games into the early hours. I enjoyed the intensity of this lifestyle, overriding natural daily rhythms. Having children was the grounding force that brought common sense to my life. Children naturally live closer to nature; they are less affected by the stresses of modern life it is easy for them to wake up with the sun and sleep when the sun goes down.  I still struggle with the ‘early to bed, early to rise’ philosophy but slowly over the years, I have started to switch my patterns and I understand and respect the profound importance of daily rhythms. These gentle changes make a huge impact to overall energy levels.

How do we become more aligned to the daily rhythms of nature?

Throughout the day the different universal energies (made up of the elements water, earth, fire, ether and wind) are present. Each of these energies sets the tone for the activities best suited to that time of the day to promote optimum well-being. When we tap into these energies we become more attune to our body and are more able to access the bodies natural intelligence.

In Ayurveda ‘like’ increases ‘like’ (a bit like facebook). To give you an example of working with natural daily rhythm, we need to think about […]