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Natural Health
Better living through nature


Geranium Essential Oil: Your Rose-Scented Wellness Aid

This highly aromatic plant, long adored for the delicious complexity of its bouquet, has been much used by the perfume industry for hundreds of years.  Seventeenth-century Europeans loved it so much that they developed hundreds of hybrids.  Geranium leaves make a soothing rose-flavored tea and are prized for their use in making a fragrant body wash, hydrosol, natural deodorant, and effective insect repellent.  They can also be used to promote healing for a broad range of conditions, from dysentery and cholera to hemorrhoids and infections of the skin.

As a soothing astringent, geranium (Pelargonium graveolens; P. x asperum) essential oil tones and tightens the skin and astringes excess moisture, making it an excellent choice for weeping eczema, psoriasis, edema, hemorrhoids, and excessive perspiration of underarms and feet.  Considered a “beautifying oil,” it benefits the health of both the skin and scalp by balancing sebum (oil) production in all skin types.  With its parasiticidal properties, it is also useful in blends formulated to combat ringworm, lice, nail fungus, and athlete’s foot.

For those with impaired circulation or vascular disorders, such as Raynaud’s disease, couperose skin (skin exhibiting diffuse redness due to dilated capillaries), or varicose and spider veins, geranium essential oil, in addition to other oils such as cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) and ginger (Zingiber officinale), is a useful adjunct to assist with regulation of blood flow.

Sometimes called “the woman’s oil,” geranium essential oil is indeed a special gift for women because of its positive regulatory actions upon the hormones secreted by the adrenal cortex.  This makes it a valuable remedy for problems caused by fluctuating hormone levels, including PMS, engorged and/or painful breasts, and menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

geranium flowers
Photo by Stephanie Tourles

Geranium Oil or Rose Oil?

Geranium essential oil is sometimes confused with rose (Rosa damascena) essential oil, due to its rose-like scent and the fact that it’s occasionally labeled “rose geranium.”  In fact, geranium oil is frequently used to adulterate and extend real rose oil, and it is the starting point in the manufacture of synthetic rose oil.

From Herb To Oil:  A native of South Africa, this tender perennial fuzzy shrub has pointed leaves and clusters of small pink, violet, red, or white flowers.  The entire plant is aromatic.  The genus name Pelargonium derives from the Greek pelargos, “stork,” in reference to the herb’s long, bill-like seeds.  Over 250 varieties of scented geraniums are cultivated all over the world.  P. graveolens is the name most often found on commercial essential oil labels, though it is unlikely to be the true botanical source.

The leaves, green stems, and flowers are harvested at the start of the flowering period and steam-distilled to produce the clear, slightly greenish essential oil. As I mentioned earlier, the scent, though lovely, can be a bit heavy and likes to cling and linger, so follow any recipes to the letter and use a light hand if adding to your diffuser – perhaps starting with just 1 drop.

When purchasing geranium essential oil, you may have a choice between Egyptian, Chinese, and Bourbon varieties.  The Egyptian, which tends to be the least expensive, has a less-sweet, grassy-rose aroma.  The Chinese smells like typical geranium, being rosy-earthy-green.  The Bourbon is the cream of the crop, with an exquisitely clean and sweet scent, but it is also the most expensive.  They all work equally well in my recipes; it’s just a matter of taste and budget.

Psychological Benefits:  “Balancing” is the best way to describe this oil.  It seems to bestow upon you what you need.  It is gently refreshing, uplifting, calming, grounding, and centering, yet not sedating.  The aroma encourages feelings of peace and harmony, while uncluttering a chaotic mind.  It is useful for treating depression, nervous tension, anxiety, and restlessness, and it’s a wonderful choice for those moving through a stressful, symptomatic menopause. 

Essential Properties In A Nutshell:  Gentle astringent and diuretic, good for water retention/edema; antibacterial and antifungal; mild anti-inflammatory and moderate circulatory stimulant; deodorizing; promotes wound healing; cooling; emotionally and physically balancing; valuable insect repellent and parasiticide.

Safety Data & Usage Information:  Generally considered nontoxic, nonirritating, and nonsensitizing, but it may cause contact dermatitis in hypersensitive individuals.

Always dilute essential oils properly – according to age, health, medication intake, and skin condition – prior to application.  My book, Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide (Storey Publishing, c2018), is a good reference, complete with safety guidelines and dilution charts.

The following recipe highlights the therapeutic nature of geranium essential oil with regard to its deodorizing properties. Works like a charm!

geranium essential oil and dropper on wooden cutting board
Photo by Mars Vilaubi courtesy Storey Publishing

Herbal Fresh Deodorant Spray Recipe

The most important action of any deodorant is to minimize the proliferation of odor-causing bacteria, and this formula, with its delightful aroma, does it amazingly well, sans synthetic fragrance and questionable ingredients.  Keep a small bottle with a few cotton pads handy for when you need to freshen up a bit.  It’s wonderful as a foot deodorizer, too! Note: This recipe is safe for folks 6 years of age and older.

Essential Oils:

  • 16 drops geranium (Pelargonium graveolens; P. x asperum) essential oil
  • 12 drops rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis chemotype verbenon) essential oil
  • 12 drops tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) essential oil
  • 8 drops lemon (Citrus limon) essential oil

Base:

  • 1 cup unflavored vodka (80-proof) or commercially prepared witch hazel
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
  • 8-ounce plastic or dark glass spritzer bottle

To Make The Spray:  Pour the vodka (or witch hazel) into the bottle.  Add the glycerin, then the geranium, rosemary, tea tree, and lemon essential oils.  Screw the top on the bottle and shake vigorously to blend – expect essential oils to separate out and float to the top in about 5 minutes – that’s normal. Label the bottle and allow the spray to synergize for at least 1 hour.  Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year.

To Use:  Shake well and use immediately.  Spray onto clean, dry underarms and/or feet or apply with a cotton pad or cloth and rub in.  Let dry before getting dressed.  Follow with a natural deodorizing body powder, if desired.

Bonus Uses:  This formula doubles as an astringent and mild antiseptic liquid cleanser for your hands, face, or entire body, for that matter (avoid the eyes, nose, and mouth).  Use for impromptu cleansing when a bath or shower is not convenient.  It also makes a good mosquito repellent!

Yield:  8-ounces (240 ml)


stephanie tourles beginners essential oils book coverRecipe excerpted from Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide, (c2018 by Stephanie Tourles). Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

How Yoga Builds Self-Confidence to Achieve Your Goals

Let alone self-confidence, yoga can mend your soul and make it vibrate at such a level that all the negative energies coming your way can deflect automatically. Isn’t that all we want? To make our lives filled with positive people, energies, and minds? Yoga helps you reach that state of abundance where all you are left with is, a blissful mind.

It is often discussed that a man without a goal is like a train without an engine. It is going somewhere, but certainly not towards its destination. Similarly, a man who is witnessing the desired change in his/her career is a result of passion and ambition. Only a person who has set the aims by making priorities and walks step by step to achieve these goals can end up victoriously. To achieve these goals, there is one thing that decides whether you are capable of taking this step or you are just following other sheep. It is self-confidence! It's simple, if you are good at your craft, you will eventually be confident about it. Maybe not in the beginning, but in due-course after exposing your talent. Now, this confidence shapes whether you are going the right way or the wrong way. If you are confident about your work, your talent, your goals; you will do anything possible to overcome any hindrances and obstacles to reach that higher destination.

Yoga can gift you that confidence which you may lack in your daily life. You must understand that the quality of confidence is not just needed in your professional life, but it is also a key factor in building good relationships. So, make your personal life as precious as your professional one. Below are some of the steps which show how yoga can build confidence in achieving your goals.

Yoga

Set Goals

Yoga can be a guardian angel; it protects you from discomforts or any internal harm. So don’t be hesitant to take a step ahead and make that decision because it’s your time to finally set your goals. Gain clarity and confidence with yoga by filtering out any doubts or opposing perceptions that are stopping you from going forward.

Be Disciplined and Follow a Routine

If you have even a tiny bit understanding of yoga, then you must be aware of the fact that yoga demands discipline, hard work, and consistency to provide maximum results. Attend any of the teacher training programs in India or anywhere in the world to know the importance of discipline in yoga for your personal as well as professional life. Practice yoga asana consistently and sincerely to be on this path of achievement. Let success follow you!

Improve Focus and Concentration

Yoga techniques and methods like meditation, balancing the yoga postures, helps in improving focus and concentration. This removes the fog in your head and pushes you further towards your goals. If you are sitting in an idle position, becoming self-aware about yourself and your surroundings, then you know how to be consciously accountable. Keep focusing on your goals, even if the attention gets diverted, be patient because the kid in you knows that only a tortoise wins the race.

Handle Stress

Learn how to be smart with time-management. Pranayama exercises channelize the blocked energies in you. For example, if you are working and planning to start your own business soon, or just waiting for your promotion; it may become stressful every day to balance out everything- your family, friends, job, personal and leisure time. To help you eliminate the feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, you can adopt these yogic techniques which can release the pressure on thy self.

Stay Mentally Calm and Physically Active

To excel in any field, it is rather complimenting to stay calm and relaxed in every situation. This may sound easy, but it is a little difficult to maintain this feeling especially if you are working like a robot every single day. To make your emotions tranquil, it is a higher known fact that yoga lets you open the doors of rejuvenation and mystical composure. Physical activity is the ‘wise advice’ given to every individual to keep their mental health in place and harmonization with the body.

Internal Motivation

Yoga makes you internally motivated when you experience that the inspiration which you were seeking outside has always been hiding within. It sparks the inner-Buddha in you as you gain peace, inner-balance, and positivity with a refreshing new attitude. These are all the qualities you need, to get a step closer to your dream ambition. People mostly get enrolled in Yoga Teacher Training in India to learn all the basic to advanced knowledge of yoga that will help to get motivated every time in all situations and conditions.

Spiritual Intelligence to Shape Your Perspective

Building a new perspective is highly encouraged, especially if you are stuck in the same black hole. Yoga makes you aligned with the universal energy which means that the spirit in you finds a way out and helps you gain a third perspective to look at things or situations. While driving towards your goals, a spiritually intelligent person can make much better decisions in life than a single perspective mind.

Let yoga become your success mantra!


Bipin Baloni is a yoga teacher from India and his core specialization is in Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga. He organizes 200 hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh. Bipin Baloni conducts Yoga Teacher Training in India in different cities. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, meditation, Ayurveda and health.

4 New Ways to Use Mindfulness in the New Year

For many, the new year represents a fresh start, a clean slate on which to write their bright future. But it also comes with its fair share of expectations, goals and to-dos. So, how can you stay focused on your new intentions and make 2020 your most fulfilling year yet? 

The answer is simple — mindfulness. Far from being a gimmick or a hipster trend, mindfulness is gaining attention from intellectuals, researchers and society as a whole for its power to make people more self-aware, focused and content. Practicing mindfulness entails focusing on feelings, sensations and thoughts, recognizing them for what they are and letting them pass without judgment. 

Traditionally, mindfulness takes the form of meditation. With closed eyes and crossed legs, the student sits in silence and focuses on quieting the mind, body and soul. Today, however, you can practice mindfulness just about anywhere, in any situation. Here are just a few ways you can incorporate this practice into your life. 

mindfulness written in calligraphy on window sill
Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

1. Play a Game

Meditation is taught in a way that doesn't emphasize community. So, many think of mindfulness as a solitary activity, practiced on a pillow in a private room. But you can also practice this skill with others. In fact, it may even enhance the effects of mindfulness. The joy of being with loved ones adds to any experience, and mindfulness is no exception.

One way you can practice in a group setting is by playing mindfulness games, which are created to help players become more aware and less stressed. These games take the intimidation out of meditation and introduce the practice in a fun, engaging way. For example, the mindfulness game Vertellis Classic is a conversation starter card game perfect for families and large groups of people. Each card poses a question for each person to answer, allowing players to connect on a deeper level. 

2. Embrace the Mundane

Washing the dishes or taking a shower don't require much brainpower, and many would even consider them boring. Yet, there is some bit of magic to be found in the mundane if you slow down and mindfully appreciate each sensation. Smell the soap. Watch the water splash against your skin. Notice the way each plate or utensil feels in your hands. Paying attention to these small, seemingly insignificant details can alter the entire experience and even make the most mundane tasks enjoyable. 

You can even practice mindfulness while eating. Eat more slowly than you typically would and notice each flavor as it flits over your tongue. Wait until those flavors dissipate to take another bite. Mindful eating can give you a new perspective on food intake and help promote self-control and proper portioning.  

3. Engage Wholeheartedly

The human brain has a tendency to wander, even in conversations with others. Often, you may find yourself thinking about what you'll say in response to the person talking instead of really listening to their words. Or maybe you're thinking about what you'll eat for dinner instead of focusing on quality communication. 

Practice mindful listening to change these habits. Notice the person or people you are talking with. What color are their eyes or their hair? Listen to the way their voice falls on you as they speak. Practicing interpersonal mindfulness will allow you to engage wholeheartedly in conversation and connect with others on a much deeper level. 

4. Go Back to the Breath

While this isn't necessarily a new technique, it's still an incredibly essential part of being mindful. Nearly every meditation study will advise you to focus on your breathing, the ins and outs, to center your mind and become more self-aware. You can practice noticing your breath and acknowledging any thoughts that arise by participating in an activity that brings you peace. This may include yoga, seated meditation, cycling or even petting your dog. 

Some people even wake up early to spend time meditating and breathing. Practicing first thing in the morning allows you to focus on your thoughts and subtle sensations without worrying about a to-do list or deadlines. And you won't feel guilty about taking time to practice when no one has yet had the chance to compete for your time or attention. 

Mindfulness for the Extraordinary Life

Becoming more mindful may uncover emotions and thoughts you haven't dealt with in a long time. For instance, those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse may struggle with feelings of shame and sadness — emotions they'd rather not focus on or acknowledge. But mindfulness makes them face their pain head-on, encouraging them to seek help and overcome these negative emotions and addictions. And, when they finally do, they'll be on the path to creating a more satisfying, sustainable lifestyle. 

Mindfulness isn't something you accomplish overnight. Becoming more self-aware, engaged and connected takes time and practice. The more you consciously exercise your brain, the more natural mindfulness will become — and the more likely you are to enjoy a fulfilling, extraordinary life. 

Scotch Pine Essential Oil: A Refreshing, Comforting "Essence of the Forest"

I refer to pine trees as “feel-good trees” because they offer so many benefits.  Many of the more than 100 species of pines have been used medicinally throughout the world by cultures ranging from the Greeks, Egyptians, and Arabians to the Native Americans, and Scandinavians.  The needles have been burned to clear away respiratory infections and insects and stuffed into mattresses to repel lice and fleas and fend off rheumatism.  The twigs were mixed with cedar and juniper for use as a purification incense.  

The sticky pitch or resin that often exudes from injuries to the tree’s trunk and larger limbs contains a concentration of the essential oil (as does the sap from the fir tree) and has been utilized to heal cracked skin, eczema, psoriasis, and infected wounds, and to bind cuts.  Infused into a base oil and massaged into the skin, it relieves joint pain, gout, sore or stiff muscles, sciatica, poor circulation of the arms and legs, chest complaints, symptoms of colds and flu, exhaustion, and adrenal fatigue.  I employ the refreshing, comforting, Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris) essential oil to treat many of these conditions using it both topically and via inhalation.  Other species that I occasionally use, but which can be limited in availability, include the eastern white pine (P. strobus), sea pine (P. pinaster), and the pinyon pine (P. edulis).

scotch pine branch
Photo by Arbor Day Foundation

From Herb To Oil

Indigenous to northern Europe and Asia and introduced to North America by European settlers, this tall conifer has deeply fissured, papery, reddish-brown bark, 2-inch to 4-inch long, stiff needles that grow in pairs, and small-to-medium brown cones.  It has long been cultivated in the eastern United States and Canada, mostly for Christmas tree production and as a landscape planting.  The essential oil is produced primarily in the United States, Bosnia, France, Hungary, Scotland, Russia, and Austria and is one of the most commercially-produced oils – being in demand for products ranging from household disinfectants, detergents, insecticides, and fragrances. A pale yellow or colorless liquid with a potent, fresh, clean turpentine-like aroma, the essential oil is steam-distilled from the fresh twigs and needles.  An inferior essential oil is produced by dry distillation from the chipped wood and stump grindings.

Psychological Benefits:  Naturally uplifting and refreshing, strengthening, empowering, and grounding, Scotch pine helps you feel open and aware.  It brings strength and comfort when you are feeling weak, unworthy, unsure, or sad; dispels negative emotions.  When you are experiencing nervous exhaustion and extreme fatigue as a result of stress, it is an excellent choice.

Essential Properties In A Nutshell:  Scotch pine essential oil has an affinity for the respiratory tract, being a strong pulmonary antiseptic, decongestant, and expectorant; purifying and cleansing; warming circulatory stimulant that is good for pain relief; promotes healing of wounds and dry, cracked skin; deodorant; effective parasiticide against scabies and lice; strengthening, fortifying, and energizing, emotionally and physically.

Safety Data & Usage Information: Generally nontoxic and non-irritating (except in concentration), with possible dermal sensitization to those with highly sensitive skin.  Scotch pine essential oil has a rather short shelf life because it oxidizes quickly, so use it within 1 year or keep it refrigerated and use within 2 years.

Always dilute essential oils properly – according to age, health, medication intake, and skin condition – prior to application.  My book, Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide (Storey Publishing, c2018), is a good reference, complete with safety guidelines and dilution charts.

The following recipe highlights the therapeutic nature of Scotch pine essential oil with regard to its decongestant properties.  Works like a charm!

scotch pine essential oil and branch
Photo by Mars Vilaubi

"Breathe Free” Herbal Steam Recipe

This steaming vapors blend contains strong respiratory antiseptics to help fight infection and mucolytics to aid in loosening and draining mucous congestion – providing blessed relief to your stuffiness.  I swear by this steam when I have a bad head cold or sinus headache, or when my lungs feel heavy and congested.  It really helps drain away the misery and seems to open up everything!  A bonus:  the stimulating aroma leaves your house smelling ultra-fresh and clean.  Note:  This recipe is safe for folks 12 years of age and older.

Caution:  DO NOT use if you suffer from bronchial asthma, if you have sensitive skin, or if you are experiencing any type of skin irritation on face, scalp, neck, or chest.

Essential Oils:

  • 2 drops Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) essential oil
  • 1 drop eucalyptus (species globulus or radiata) essential oil
  • 1 drop balsam fir (Abies balsamea) or Scotch pine essential oil

Base:

  • 3 cups purified water

To Make And Use The Steam:

Bring water to just shy of a boil and pour into a medium-to-large heat-proof bowl.  Place the bowl on a stable surface, in a location where you can either stand or sit comfortably for 5 to 10 minutes.  Add the essential oils and swish the water to disperse them a bit

Immediately drape a large bath towel over your head, neck, shoulders, and the steaming bowl to create a vapor tent.  With your eyes closed and your face 8 to 12 inches from the surface of the water, breathe deeply and relax.  If your nose is clogged, inhale through your mouth.  You should begin to sweat and your nose should run – that’s a good thing.  Your circulation is moving.  If you begin to feel uncomfortable, pop your head out of the tent for a few moments of fresh air, then go right back in.  Keep your eyes closed during the entire steam.

When you’re finished, splash your face and neck with tepid water, followed by a few splashes of cool water.  Pat your skin almost dry and follow with an application of light moisturizer, if desired.  You may partake of this treatment once or twice per day until you are feeling better.

Yield:  Makes enough for 1 treatment


Recipe excerpted from Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide (c2018 by Stephanie Tourles). Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

The Best Teas to Drink to Start the New Year

Aah! What's better than a nice hot cuppa on a cold winter's day? Tea is a fantastic beverage that warms icy fingers and toes while offering a host of health benefits. 

If you think tea only came in a bottle or from one plant, think again. You can make a tea out of the leaves of many plants, but some remedy specific troubles. If you want to jumpstart the new year in the healthiest way possible, try one of these varieties tailored to your needs. 

cup of tea with kind message
Photo by Drew Taylor on Unsplash

1. Green Tea 

Green tea and black tea come from the same plant — the difference is the maturity of the leaves. Both are rich in antioxidants, but the verdant variety has less caffeine. It has far less than a cup of coffee, so if you're trying to reduce caffeine intake overall, try alternating a cup of green tea with each mug of joe. 

What is an antioxidant, and why are they so important? Oxidative stress refers to a disturbance in the balance between damaging free radicals and the substances that combat them. Free radical damage leads to cellular death and plays a role in the development of diseases. What elements fight free radicals? Antioxidants for the win! 

2.  Cinnamon 

Currently, tens of millions of Americans live with either diabetes or prediabetes. If you fall into the prediabetes camp, make cinnamon tea your new best friend in 2020. A recent meta-analysis of the efficacy of cinnamon in treating Type 2 diabetes found a clinically significant reduction in fasting blood sugar among those who used the herb. The powdered form of this tree bark proved the most effective, so consider adding a scoop to your other favorite tea recipes. You'll get a hint of sweetness and improve your glucose metabolism. 

3. Turmeric 

If you have chronic pain of any type, reach for turmeric. Better yet, make a chai-like tea blend by mixing the Indian herb with black pepper. This blend increases the absorption of turmeric by 2000% — you read that right! As if that wasn't enough pain-relieving loveliness, both substances contain powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Black pepper contains compounds similar to capsaicin, the stuff in pain-relieving creams. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse that anecdotal evidence shows efficacy in treating anything from migraines to fibromyalgia to arthritis. 

4. Chamomile 

Many people today live with chronic stress. This tension doesn't only rob joy from the present moment — it can lead to disease and long-term suffering. Scientists find correlations between ongoing high-stress levels and the development of both heart disease and diabetes. For centuries, herbalists have turned to chamomile to help them relax. If you want to wind down before bedtime, mix a cup of chamomile and lavender herbal tea. You'll sleep like the proverbial baby. 

5. Moringa 

Moringa comes from an African tree that resembles a giant horseradish. In recent years, the herb has gained a reputation as a weight-loss supplement, and some research supports its efficacy in regulating blood sugar. One thing is known — moringa is chock-full of vitamins and minerals your body needs. Try a cup in the morning and see if you experience the increased energy levels many users report. 

6. Lemongrass 

Do you have hypertension or high blood pressure? If so, try adding lemongrass tea to your daily repertoire. Lemongrass contains high levels of potassium, a mineral that decreases your blood pressure. The herb also stimulates blood circulation, further boosting your cardiovascular health. Do you need one more reason? It lowers your cholesterol, too. 

7. Fennel 

If you're female and have menstrual discomfort or are nearing menopause, try fennel tea in 2020. Fennel contains estrogen-like compounds that may help balance your hormones and alleviate symptoms like cramping and low energy. Are you welcoming a bundle of joy in the new year? If you're breastfeeding, drinking fennel tea can help stimulate your milk supply. 

8. Uva Ursi 

Women with menstrual discomfort often experience bloating, but other conditions cause this symptom, too. Consuming too much salt, for example, can lead to water retention. This tea made from the leaves of the bearberry plant contains the chemical arbutin. Arbutin helps promote healthy urinary tract functioning so that you can flush away the toxins causing the swelling. 

9. Spearmint/Peppermint

Finally, if you ever experience tummy trouble, reach for a cup of peppermint or spearmint tea. These tasty blends help to soothe the muscles of your digestive tract to stop the anguish. These herbs work primarily on the intestines, although they relax the stomach muscles as well. Therefore, mint teas work best for disorders of the lower digestive tract. When the muscles of the stomach relax, acid can flood the esophagus, making gastric reflux worse. Ginger is a fabulous alternative if you do have this disorder. 

5 Ayurvedic Herbs to Protect Your Body in Winter

The Vedic sages had understood the rhythm of nature and forces – the rhythmic cycle of seasons – alteration of night and day can affect us as cycles and seasons in human life. Being in tune with nature also means being in tune with the individual constitution – Pitta, Kapha, and Vata – the energy of metabolism, lubrication, and movement.

It is important to make peace with the natural cycles and adjust with the changes in the environment by making little changes in food, ingestion of herbs, and exercise for staying healthy all year long. You cannot control external factors but small changes in daily meals can make a big difference. Cloudy and grey sky often cause an imbalance in Kapha, which is responsible for lubricating the joints, maintain immunity and moisturize the skin. In excess, it can persuade mucus related illness, sluggishness, negative emotions such as greed, envy, and excess weight. You can learn in detail by enrolling yourself in Ayurveda courses in India

As we know, food plays a crucial part in keeping us healthy. Incorporate buttermilk, unyeasted bread, steamed vegetables, cottage cheese, ghee, warm soup, and warming spices like cloves, cinnamon, black pepper to improve appetite, promote digestion, and increase circulation. For more details, you can go for an Ayurveda course in Kerala. Here is Ayurveda's view on winter and a guide to help you stay balanced all winter long by adding a few herbs in your diet.  

Ayurveda herbs

Brahmi

Brahmi – a blessing for the brain! In fact, the leaves of Brahmi have the appearance of the human brain. The word Brahmi describes two different herbs for instance Bacopa Monnieri and Centella Asiatica. Its leaves help in balancing the left and right hemispheres of the brain. You can nurture both the intuitive and analytical side as well as both Shakti (feminine) and Shiva (masculine) aspects so that you can become whole. It stimulates the pineal gland as well as the endocrine gland located within the brain and assists with intuition. You can take Brahmi in the form of powder or syrup. Many brain-boosting supplements have Brahmi.

Peppercorn

Peppercorn – king of spices has a mild and sharp spicy flavor that enhances the taste of many dishes. This ayurvedic medicine has been used for thousands of years because of its beneficial plant compound and concentration of potent. Free radicals can damage our skin and leads to premature aging, certain cancers, and heart diseases. Peppercorn has a plant compound that helps in protecting it from free radicals and their effects. It has shown potential benefits for severe degenerative brain conditions, for instance, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Daily consumption of peppercorn leads to the absorption of nutrients like selenium and calcium. A study shows that it can be a natural pain reliever.

Cloves

This versatile spice is a staple of Indian cuisine. Found in both powder and whole form, it can be used in hot beverages, cakes, cookies, and pot roasts to add aromatic and sweet flavor with medicinal properties. It will be surprising to know cloves include minerals, fiber, and vitamins with some crucial nutrients. Cloves are rich in antioxidants and vitamins C. Cloves have antimicrobial properties that stop the growth of microorganisms, for instance, bacteria. A study shows that cloves are capable of killing three types of bacteria including E. coli. It can use as an herbal mouthwash for proper oral hygiene and improves gum health. Cloves promote liver health and regulate blood sugar.

Cardamom

An intense, sweet flavor spice used in ancestral medicines for centuries and both savory and sweet recipes – cardamom can easily be found in Indian kitchens. Cardamom – a simple spice has immense health benefits. It is highly beneficial in high blood pressure, contains cancer-fighting compounds, and has an anti-inflammatory effect that helps in protecting you from chronic diseases. This is not it cardamom has used to treat digestion problems for thousands of years. It often uses with other medicinal spices for treating vomiting, nausea, and discomfort. It improves oral health and treats bad breath. In some cultures, it’s common to eat cardamom after meals for freshening up your breath.

Cinnamon

A delicious spice prized for its medicinal properties. Modern science has confirmed what humans know for ages – cinnamon has effective medicinal properties. In Egypt, it was valuable for gifting to the king. There are two types of cinnamon – Ceylon (true cinnamon) and Cassia (we generally use). Cinnamon is stuffed with antioxidants like polyphenols and can be used as a natural food preservative. Cinnamon protects from the world’s common problem for early death – heart attack. As we all know, Insulin imbalance leads to diabetes. Regular use of cinnamon boosts metabolism, controls blood sugar and shows effective benefits on insulin resistance. It also treats diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and protects from cancer. A study shows cinnamon can treat HIV – 1.

You can include these ayurvedic herbs into your diet for immense health benefits. You can also take a break from the hassles of your life and go for a yoga retreat in Nepal. Hopefully, this little guide will be helpful for you in this winter. These spices will not only help you keep warm but also make you healthy. I hope you’ll adopt these habits in your daily routine for a healthy winter. 


Bipin Baloni is a yoga teacher from India and his core specialization is in Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga. He organizes 200 hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh. Bipin Baloni conducts Yoga Teacher Training in India in different cities. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda and Health.

3 Yoga Poses for Strong Legs and Thighs

Powerfully built legs are what everyone wants. Since legs are responsible for movement, the pair is of tremendous importance in one’s life. Most of one’s successes are based on the healthiness of the legs and thighs—from enjoying the beauty of this world to witnessing your success stories, a brawny pair of legs is quite significant. A number of people in the world believe in yoga for making their legs strong. In fact, there are numerous yoga asanas which can be extremely useful to strengthen the legs.

Here, we will discuss three yoga poses that are immensely fruitful in making the legs and thighs strong.

girl in boat pose outdoors
Photo by Vishal Bhutani on Unsplash

Navasana (Boat Pose)

One of the finest exercises for having a pair of well-built legs, Navasana is Sanskrit for Boat Pose. The practice is all about balancing the two halves of the body by balancing it from the hips. While indulging in the asana, the thigh and abdomen muscles undergo a good workout which in turn, enhances their strength. Boat Pose is considered a fine exercise to lose weight. Navasana is also given tremendous importance in various Yoga programs such as Yoga teacher training in Nepal, India, Thailand, etc., thanks to its all-round benefits.

How to Practice:

  • Navasana’s practice starts in Savasana — the state of complete rest on the mat.
  • Bring the feet together and make the body flexible.
  • Raise the upper body in the air, followed by the legs and thighs.
  • The elevation angle of the spine should be equal to that of the thighs.
  • Make sure the spine is elongated and the knees do not get bent during the process while the body is balanced on the sitting bones.
  • Extend the arms to bring them parallel to the ground, in line with the knees.
  • It is also very important to keep the chest opened.
  • You can take help from others if you are not able to balance the two halves on your own.

If one is suffering from asthma, heart problems, low blood pressure, etc., the practice is advised to be avoided. It should also not be practiced during menstruation. The stress-relieving asana is great for stretching the hamstrings. If you are a Badminton player or a footballer, give some serious time this asana for boosting the movement of your body. In addition to all the physical benefits, the pose is an awesome alleviating reproductive health problems. Also, if you are having digestive issues, this exercise will prove to be immensely fruitful.

Utkatasana (Chair Pose)

This one is quite an easy exercise when it comes to practice. Almost everybody can enjoy the asana’s beauty. And this is what makes Utkatasana an extremely popular Yoga pose among people of all age groups. The final position of the asana imitates a chair, for which it is also known as Chair Pose. Owing to its contribution to boosting the strength of the thighs and legs, this asana is very fruitful for athletes and sportspersons.

How to Practice:

  • The practice of Utkatasana begins in the standing position. Keep the whole body straight.
  • Make sure the feet are placed slightly apart from each other.
  • While bending the knees gently, push your pelvis down in such a way that looks like sitting in a chair.
  • It is better to keep the thighs parallel to the ground and let a right angle be created at the knees.
  • Stretch your arms in the air to bring them parallel to each other above your head. Instead, you can bring them parallel to the ground with palms facing the mat.
  • Make sure the elbows don’t get bent.
  • Keep the spine erect and elongated while trying to hold the body in the position.
  • Let the body relax and thighs muscles tone for about a minute.

At the end of the practice, it is very important to give your legs a much-needed rest. Sukhasana, Virasana, and Siddhasana are some of the most popular relaxing Yoga poses.

Since the whole weight of the body is placed on the thighs, the muscles get toned in an amazing fashion. It is advised that you should not force yourself to stay in the pose if you are not able to do so. In the beginning, you can practice 5-6 laps of 4-5 seconds each. You can increase the lap time as you become an expert.

Padangusthasana (Hand to Big Toe Pose)

Padangusthasana is an amazing exercise when it comes to strengthening the thighs and legs. It is a very impactful practice for the complete health of the body and mind. Traditionally, the asana is a major instigator of peace, since it leads to a good amount of blood flow in the mind. Also known as the hand to big toe pose, the Yoga pose is one of the most influential physical exercises. The best part about this asana is the fact that you can practice this anytime and anywhere. Making it an integral part of your life would ensure the fitness of your legs.

How to Practice:

  • Padangusthasana also begins in a standing position.
  • Bend the body down in the forward direction and bring the nose near the knees.
  • By making sure that the knees are not bent, plant the fingers below the soles in such a way that the palms face the soles.
  • Make sure the torso, thighs, and shoulders are in a comfortable position.
  • Come back to the original position and repeat the same practice a few more times.

The asana has various forms of practice. Instead of placing your palms below the soles, you can just hold the toes with your fingers. Many people station their palms on either side of the soles. One of its major variants is called Uttanasana. Give this pose at least 5-6 minutes in the morning as well as in the evening to get the maximum benefits. Along with bolstering the thighs, Padangusthasana is also beneficial in enriching the brain and all muscles with substantial blood. The asana nurtures the legs, shoulders, and hips with proper blood circulation throughout the body parts. Enjoy this pose for strong and better-functioning hamstrings.


Bipin Baloni is a yoga teacher from India, and his core specialization is in Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga. He organizes Ayurveda Courses in India specially in Kerala. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, meditation, Ayurveda and health







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