Ayurveda

Meditation and Chakra Seven

The Crown Chakra – Sahasrara

Last week I dragged my husband to a conference where the fabulous Dr Robert Svoboda, an Ayurvedic Physician from America spoke.

I enjoyed every minute of the the 3.5 hours talk on Ayurveda, Consciousness, Yoga etc, my husband, not so much. I’ve learnt my lesson and next time I’ll leave him in the pub with a beer – oh well, horses for courses…. Anyway since that evening, one of Dr Svoboda’s quotes has echoed in my mind….

‘The manifested universe acts as a mirror for supreme reality’

Where is this supreme reality and how do we connect to it, you ask? (unless you’re my husband and you don’t ask)

Through the study of the subtle body, Sahsrara Chakra is the place where we can connect to this supreme reality that’s beyond the duality of our material world. You may also like to call it a higher power or your inner wisdom or god.

This chakra is located at the crown of the head and is associated with thought and consciousness, it is connected on a physical level to the pituitary gland. When we have balance in this chakra we are more aware, and are less likely to be ruled by our unconscious mind.

However, just as the ‘thousand petal lotus’ that symbolizes this chakra turns down to incorporate all of the chakras, we must be living in the manifested world at the same time as having awareness of this limitless space.

In this modern world with the amount of information we are inundated with each day, we need to inhabit the body and the lower chakras while using the upper chakras to make sense of this information.

As one of my favourite authors Anodea Judith describes in her […]

How to make your own gorgeous Ghee!

Surprisingly, Ghee is very easy to make, it’s also really relaxing and creates a beautiful aroma of buttery popcorn in the kitchen.
 
You will need:
·       2-4 250g blocks of unsalted organic butter
·       1 cheese-cloth
·       1 sieve ladle
·       1 saucepan
 
Place butter in the saucepan uncovered and heat on medium for around 12 minutes or until it begins to smell like buttery popcorn. If you are using a really heavy saucepan you may need longer. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool for a few minutes. Use your ladle to skim off any white foam. Strain the liquid through your cheesecloth into a glass jar, discarding the curds from the bottom of the saucepan. When the ghee has cooled in the jar cover and store. (I keep mine in the fridge but this is not necessary, as it doesn’t go off.)  
Ayurveda has long proclaimed the extraordinary benefits of ghee, and just to name just a few:
 
·       Ghee has magical healing properties, enhancing the nutritional elements of food.
·       Ghee contains butyric acid, a fatty acid with both antiviral and anti cancer properties.
·       Ghee is good for the joints.
·       Ghee has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to transport herbs and spices to the cells of the body.
·       Ghee is good for the brain and memory.
·       Ghee aids digestion.
·       Ghee promotes the healing of wounds.
·       Ghee tastes delicious, enriching the flavour of anything you make!
 
Check out my post about my grandmother and her ghee, here!
 
Now, please excuse me now while I go and enjoy some fat!
 
Justine
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Beautiful Beatrice and her Golden Ghee

My gorgeous grandmother Beatrice (Trixie) passed away last year at 97 years of age. I love this photo of her, as it captures her style. She was a party girl, an animal lover, a great horsewoman; always beautifully groomed, not a hair out of place, was impeccably dressed, and, according to my Aunty, you could wear the clothes she sewed inside-out, they were created with such attention to detail.

Above all this she had a passion for cooking, especially for a crowd! She studied at Le Cordon Bleu, so it was always a lavish, gastronomic feast when we visited.

One of the staples in her fridge was Ghee; she used it all the time, especially in casseroles and curries.

If you are a health & wellbeing junkie, you will know that my grandmother was onto something by using this ancient ingredient as fat is definitely back on the menu! Science is catching up with old school cooks like my grandmother who used good fats, ghee, butter & coconut oil. These are the fats that are good for the brain.

Ayurveda has long proclaimed the extraordinary benefits of ghee, and just to name just a few:

Ghee has magical healing properties, enhancing the nutritional elements of food.
Ghee contains butyric acid, a fatty acid with both antiviral and anti cancer properties.
Ghee is good for the joints.
Ghee has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to transport herbs and spices to the cells of the body.
Ghee is good for the brain and memory.
Ghee aids digestion.
Ghee promotes the healing of wounds.
Ghee tastes delicious, enriching the flavour of anything you make!

Check out my post on how to make your own gorgeous ghee, here!

Now, please excuse me now while I go and enjoy some fat!

Justine

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References: Big […]

6 Ayurvedic Home Remedies that really work!

I’ve always been a seeker of natural remedies.
 
The beauty of Ayurveda is that the home remedies have been tried and tested over generations, they are usually simple and they really work! Another bonus is, you will find most of the ingredients in your kitchen or garden.
 
There is plenty of science behind these remedies, and when you think about it many pharmaceutical products are based on natural occurring substances.
 
Here are 6 ‘go to’ remedies I often use for my family…
 
Herbal tea for colds and flu
Dry roast 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds to release the flavour (approx 2min). Add 3 slices of ginger and 500mils of water; bring to the boil for 10min then strain and drink.
Viral stomach bugs
Peel two apples and then stew them until soft, add a teaspoon of ghee (or butter) a pinch of cardamom and a pinch of nutmeg. This works a treat!
Hangover
A glass of coconut water will rehydrate you!
Insomnia
A few options here…

Warm some milk add a pinch of nutmeg or saffron.
Snack on some cherries.
Try Nadi Shodana Pranayama a breathing exercise that will help you sleep.  Read my post here for instructions.

Hayfever
Eat some coriander leaves, as they are a natural antihistamine. If you have time you can make Coriander chutney go here for my coriander chutney recipe.
Liver cleanse
Add the following ingredients to a bowl

1 tsp of dandelion root (you find this in a health food shop)
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
5-6 slices of ginger
3 cups of boiling water

steep for 5min, strain and drink!
On the topic of your Liver, click here to check out my post on 2 yoga poses for cleansing the liver.
 
Enjoy!
Justine
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Ajna Chakra & My grandmother’s insane healing powers!

Everyone gets sick but why do some people bounce back so much faster than others? The answer is very complex and depends on myriad factors such as individual constitution, genes, environment, and lifestyle, diet, thought patterns…I could go on and on. What I do know is that my Grandmother has insane healing powers! She is always quick to bounce back from illness and at 93 years has just had an amazing recovery from a stroke.
About 20 years ago when ‘Gigi’, as my children know her, broke her leg the Doctors were amazed at her quick recovery, especially considering her age. While I sat with her in hospital I asked her how she was healing so well.
She let me into her healing secret that I will share with you…

With her leg in plaster, throughout the day (whenever she thought of it) she was practicing a powerful visualization technique. She would close her eyes and picture her leg as a building site. She would imagine the builders arriving to work each day, thinking about every detail down to what they were wearing and what their lunchboxes looked like. She would think about this miniscule world where each builder was doing his or her part to repair the bone of her leg, she would continue to think about this until she was interrupted or bored with it. She told me this really helped with her healing and I believe it did.
I really love this story, but what does it have to do with Chakra 6 (Ajna Chakra)? This Chakra is also known as your third eye. It is located on our forehead between the two eyebrows. While our two eyes see out into the external […]

How to do a Self Abhyanga (Self Massage)

As the weather cools down enjoy this Ayurvedic Ritual to help you stay warm and supple.

Massage is the oldest healing modality on the planet. In the ancient science of Ayurveda there is a practice of self-massage that helps to ground and nourish us. It is ‘Self Abhyanga’  or ‘Self Warm Oil Massage’ (massaging the body with large amounts of warm oil).

I really encourage you to try this as not only will it keep you feeling warm and looking young, it is also a delicious, calming and relaxing experience. It is a simple self-care exercise that you can introduce into your weekly or even daily routine.

There are numerous benefits to Self Abhyanga including the following:

Soothes Vata Dosha
Helps build resilience to stress
Increases energy and removes fatigue
Helps to eliminate toxins by stimulating strengthening lymphatic flow
Strengthens and tones skin and body
Grounding and nourishing
Helps with insomnia

Here’s how to do Self Abhyanga:

This massage is best done before your shower, either in the morning or before going to bed.

Select your oil – As a general rule of thumb go with Coconut oil in Summer and once the weather becomes cooler and coconut oil begins to solidify switch to Sesame (Melrose Organic is a good one) or Sunflower oil. For an extra dimension to the experience, you may like to add an essential oil of your choice to your massage oil.
Warm the room you are in and warm the bottle of oil in a bowl of hot water.
Stand on a towel that you don’t mind getting oily.
If you prefer the oil warm, sit the bottle in a bowl of hot water. Pour a small amount of oil into the palm of you hands and begin with a head massage, slowly massage oil […]

Muladhara Chakra

Organise your energy, start at your roots.

In the chakra system the first chakra, also known, as the root chakra, is located at the base of the spine at the perineum.  In the physical body our largest nerve the sciatic nerve runs from this chakra all the way down to our feet.  This chakra is associated with our survival and material aspects of our life. When this chakra is blocked we are often living ‘too much in our heads’ or we maybe fearful, insecure, restless, and can suffer from anxiety.

Grounding practices that work energetically to balance this chakra are very healing; they help us in the more practical parts of life as well as facilitate energy moving up the chakra system.

When we are grounded we are able to live in the ‘here and now’, without roots we are unsteady with no foundation from which to grow.  We need roots to have wings!

Grounding Exercise

As a child my grandmother would often say ‘go and ground yourself, take your shoes off and walk along the beach.’ It sounded strange to me then, the concept of electricity within the body. I wasn’t aware at the time that this simple exercise was connecting my nervous system to the earth. Walking barefoot upon the earth and feeling the stability beneath us is very supportive and nourishing and helps to calm the mind. For those of us who live an urban existence it is easy to go days without our feet actually coming into contact with the earth. Make a conscious effort to try it even for 10min a day in the nearest park and notice the effect!

Yoga

Most of Hatha yoga is very grounding especially when done slowly.  The standing poses, as […]

Coriander Chutney

I love the following Coriander Chutney recipe to help cool down any meal. Perfect on hot summer days!

 

Cooling Coriander Chutney Recipe

Ingredients

1 bunch of coriander
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup of desiccated coconut
3cm of fresh ginger peeled and chopped
1 tsp of barley malt or honey
1 tsp of salt

Directions

Blend all ingredients to a paste, store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Enjoy as a side dish to almost any meal!

 

 

Hot in the City

Our bodies are in a constant state of flux reflecting changes in the external environment. The Seasons are an important factor in this external environment and in summer Pitta dominates. In Ayurveda, Pitta is responsible for all the chemical and metabolic actions in the body. Pitta also governs mental perception, enthusiasm, joy and courage.

If you have a Pitta constitution, fire (heat) is already predominant in the elements that make up your body. As generally, like increases like, the heat of summer will increase this element. Understandably, people of Pitta Dosha don’t normally like the hot weather as the heat aggravates, and can manifest itself in the mind as anger, impatience or irritability and in the body as such things as inflammation, ulcers and indigestion.

Saying this, on hot days heat affects everyone!  If you feel that Pitta is increasing in your body, you can try the following tips to help counteract Pitta and cool your-self down.

Choose bitter, astringent and sweet food
Favour Sweet fruits Apples, Avocados, Cherries, Coconut, Figs, Dark Grapes and Mangoes
Hot spices are aggravating so favour the cooling herbs and spices  such as Basil, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Dill and Fennel.
Avoid excessive tea and coffee and limit salt and alcohol.
Expose your body to a cooling environment, taking cooling baths rather than hot ones & go for walks after the sun has gone down.
Drink plenty of liquid.
Favour raw, cold foods such as salad and fruit (if you are Vata or Kapha steam your veggies rather than eating too much raw food).
Choose food that is cooling, slightly dry and a little heavy.
Vegetables – good for pitta, especially raw vegetables in summer, but steamed vegetables in winter.
Oils – ghee & butter, olive oil and sunflower oil pacify […]

Come on baby light your fire!

Digestive fire that is…

A fire needs substance to burn and air and space to dance. In ayurveda, agni is often translated as digestive fire. We use this metaphor of fire to understand how to increase our energy and vitality.

A strong agni allows our body to easily digest our food so that it will nourish our body leading to health and vitality.

When agni is weak, food is not assimilated correctly and this can lead to a build up of toxins ‘ama’ in the body and ultimately to disease.

When agni is too strong food is literally burnt and this also causes a build up of toxins.

How do we create the goldilocks of agni? Not too strong, not too weak. We can ignite our agni by following some tips from Ayurveda:

Eating diet that uses spices and churnas. Spices are wonderful in assisting the digestive system in breaking down food.
Eating for our body type (dosha) see previous post.
Following a seasonal eating routine as our internal state reflects nature. Our agni is the strongest in Winter and can therefore handle the heavy meals we eat at this time.
Eating our main meal at lunchtime when agni is the strongest.
Allow time in between meals for our digestive system to work.
Many yoga poses including twists that are beneficial to digestion. See ‘yoga for digestion post’.
If appetite is poor, the following ayurvedic recipe for digestion helps to stimulate it.

ayurvedic recipe for digestion

½ teaspoon grated ginger
½ teaspoon lemon juice
pinch celtic salts

15 min before eating mix and take!

Agni can also refer to our ability to digest emotions and experiences as this can also have an effect on accumulation of toxins ‘ama’ in the body. For this reason yoga and meditation are of great benefit.