Natural Health
Better living through nature


Self-Care Is Not Selfish

Life can just get too busy. No matter what age you are, not enough of us take the time out for ourselves. It is very important to be able to take some time out, switch off for a while, recharge the batteries, helping you to think and see clearer. Self-care is any activity we do, on purpose, to take care of our mental, physical, and emotional health. Pick a day in the week where you will set aside some time for yourself to try some of the following.

skin-care products
Photo courtesy Katie Guerin

Bubble Bath

Just before bed light some candles, turn on some nice music, bring your favourite book, a cup of tea and RELAX. Remember that you deserve it!

Face Mask

Apply a mask once or twice a week to help deep cleanse and clear your skin. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes. Lay down with some music on or soak your feet in a big bowl of warm water while you do it for the ultimate relaxation time.

Healthy Food

Making healthy food choices when possible is one of the best things you can do for your body. Taking the time to prepare meals and snacks ahead of time prevents making poor food choices, which not only affect our body but our mood. Healthy food = good mood!

Exercise

Moving around is a great way to release any tension in the body and mind. As a bonus it increases the serotonin in our brain (the feel-good factor). Find an exercise you like to do, pick a few days in the week to do it and you will feel and see the benefits.

General Appearance

Making that tiny bit of effort in the mornings makes a difference to how you feel. Spraying your favourite perfume, applying some lipstick, polishing your nails. These small things can add to your mood and when you feel good, you look good. Set your alarm a few minutes earlier in the morning to give yourself enough time for those things.

Meditation

Sitting alone, quietly, wherever you are most comfortable for a few minutes in the day is great to clear your head. Taking some deep breathes and focusing on your breathing. Meditation is something that takes time to get into, but everyone should give it a go. There is a very good app you can get on your phone called CALM. It is a guided meditation session and helps you to focus on the moment. The clearer your mind, the clearer you can think.

Beauty Sleep

Try to get as much sleep as possible as our bodies regenerate as we sleep. I really believe that sleep is a healer and you can see it in someone when they have not slept enough. Bring a book to bed with you instead of all the apps on your phone (unless they are meditation apps). Reading or meditating are the best things you can do before sleeping to ensure you get the best quality of sleep.

Ayurveda in Pregnancy: Take Care of Yourself During Those 10 Months

In my Ayurveda practice, I often get questions from my clients asking if there are any tips from Ayurveda during pregnancy. I would say, Ayurveda is a life science. Its not just tips for pregnancy, but it has some real advice which can do wonders for mom and child.  

Ayurveda says, "If a pregnant woman is taken care of, as advised, she will give birth to a child who does not have any diseases—a healthy, physically strong, radiant and well-nourished baby."

Pregnancy is not merely a physiological process, it is a great responsibility to father and mother. The mental and physical status of the mother is important for a healthy pregnancy. There are certain general rules from inception to delivery which include regimen and diet.

Ayurveda in pregnancy
Photo courtesy _ Marcos Moraes

Ayurveda Pregnancy Tips

• Always try to be in a happy mood
• Be clean, neat and well dressed, always wear simple comfortable clothes
• Have proper sleep, go to bed early and avoid sleep during morning hours
• Engage in peaceful and benedictory activities like listening to music, reading, craft works etc
• Not indulge in anger, fright, or agitating emotions
• Travelling in rough roads, long distances should be avoided
• Oil bath is advised
• Beholding natural urges should be avoided

Ayurveda Diet for Pregnancy

Ayurveda gives a detailed explanation of the diet that should be followed in each trimester. As a general rule, greater care should be taken during the first three months of pregnancy and after the completion of seventh month. 

During the first trimester, stress is laid on stabilizing the pregnancy and nurturing the uterine bed through rasa and raktha dhatus (blood tissues). The embryo gets nourishment directly by percolation, hence more liquid substances like juicy fruits, coconut water, and milk should be advocated.

In first month sipping cold milk and maintaining a light diet is good, whereas during the second month the intake of milk is indicated with certain herbs like pueraria, asparagus, liquorice (sweet wood), Bacopa, etc. 

By the end of third month, the body parts of the fetus become differentiated, sensory perceptions and motor reactions start developing. The heart starts beating and is said to express the desires through the mother's blood. This the period when women crave certain foods/flavors. The needs of the mother and developing baby are identical. Therefore, Ayurveda recommends that her cravings be fulfilled as far as possible. If not contraindicated, Bacopa helps in calming the nerves and sustaining the pregnancy.

From the fourth to seventh month, drugs which strengthen the uterine muscles and nourish the embryo are advised like winter cherry (withania somnifera) or Indian tinospora should be used. Also fruits like oranges, mangoes, apples, carrots, Indian gooseberry, and leafy vegetables help in providing nourishment to the uterine tissues.

During the seventh month, there is a chance of itching and irritation in the abdominal region due to stretching of abdominal muscles. This should be treated with taking sips of an infusion of berries or butter medicated with Indian madder. External application of neem and basil oil are also effective.

From the seventh month on wards there should be less fat and salt in the diet. It is advisable to take thin gruel, green gram, etc.

In short, fully cooked, easily digestible food with proteins and vitamins are ideal throughout the pregnancy period. A proper diet and regimen will help the mother to have a happy pregnancy and the baby to lead a healthy life in future.

 

7 Ayurvedic Tips for Healthier Summer Travel

Summer is here and everybody will be planning for a vacation. Traveling is amazing if you're healthy, but too much traveling can be stressful and can affect your overall health and well-being.  Is it possible to embrace health and keep your mind, body and spirit in working while traveling? My answer is YES!!

I would suggest some simple steps to stay healthy and happy while traveling with these tips that are inspired by Ayurveda.

girl sitting on canoe near lake
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Sleep Well

The aspects of happiness, nourishment, strength, virility, knowledge, and long life are attained by sound and timely sleep. Sleep is the time for rebuilding and reconstruction. It is an anabolic event and is held to be as best as the divine elixir. If sleep is lost, all the doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha will be vitiated as per Ayurveda.

Do you know how much you should sleep while traveling? Listen to your body's demands and decide based on that. Traveling can be harsh to the body and your body needs adequate rest. So, plan well, giving enough time to rest. Don’t overdo while roaming and be sure to give yourself enough time for little breaks.

Practice Mindful Eating

You should be sure to take the right quantity of food, since it is quantity which helps maintain proper digestive power. Avoid raw salads and uncooked food while traveling since it aggravates Vata dosha. Have simple, warm, and grounding meals. Do not skip your breakfast, thinking you will have a scrumptious meal at noon.

Stay Hydrated

Carry a water bottle throughout your trip. If possible use a thermos, and drink warm to hot water. The hot water will help open up the channels and reduces the formation of toxins in the body. Hot water is carminative, digestive, desirable to throat, light, and it cleanses the bladder as per Ayurveda. It also helps in pacifying the aggravated Vata and Kapha.

Don’t Forget Your Routine

Wake up, eat, sleep, and exercise at the same times daily, like you would regularly. It is always better to watch on your destination time zone right from the beginning of travel for your body to get adjusted with the time change. By doing so, your circadian rhythm will not be hampered and the effects of jet lag will also be reduced.

Pamper Your Skin

Carry some coconut oil, and apply at bed time. This will nourish your skin and keep it lustrous even after sun exposure.

Take Triphala

Triphala is a herbal compound that contains three fruits, one being Amalaki (Indian gooseberry), which contains loads of vitamin C and antioxidants. This will help support the immune system to help fight off any bugs you may pick up on your journey. Also, taking Triphala at bedtime (1 tsp powder with 1/2 cup warm water) ensures proper bowel movement and kindles the digestive fire.

Cut Down on Sugars and Alcoholic Drinks

Sugar and alcoholic beverages will make you tired and disturbs your sleep. You might enjoy the drink, but won’t be able to enjoy the trip.

Above all, always indulge in yourself while traveling. Breath in the beauty of air, delight in the presence of your loved ones, and travel with all your heart and soul.

Natural Prevention and Treatment for Bug Bites

I spend a lot of my evenings and weekends outdoors. Tending the garden, doing house chores, and feeding our pets while also chasing my daughter around our farm.  We love being outside and enjoying the natural beauty we have around us. The downside to this is the amount of bugs, particularly mosquitoes. I have gotten 30 to 40 bites while pulling weeds in the garden before. Not only is the aftermath uncomfortable, but it’s also dangerous due to disease that spreads through these mosquito bites. I prefer using a natural approach to prevent and treat most common ailments.

diy-spray
Bug spray Photo by Getty Images/ChesiireCat

Here is DIY bug spray recipe that’s worked well for my family:

Homemade Bug Spray with Citronella and Lemongrass

Ingredients:

• 2 oz (60ml) Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) hydrosol
• 16 drops of citronella java essential oil (Cymbopogon winterianus)ointment
• 4 drops lemongrass essential oil (Cymbopogon citratus)
• 1 tsp aloe vera gel
• 4 ml Solubol dispersant
• 2 oz (60 ml) glass spray bottle

Directions: Blend all the ingredients together in the glass spray bottle. You will need to shake the bottle before every use. Avoid your face. Use often and re-make the product every few weeks; this recipe does not include a preservative.

(If you like the general idea of this recipe, but prefer the scent of patchouli and frankincense, then check out this great recipe from Aromahead.)

bite-remedy
Beeswax  Photo by Getty Images/Premyuda Yospim

Itch-Relief Salve

Sometimes you may get adventurous (or forgetful!) and not bring your bug spray with you. As a result, you could end up with itchy bites all over your body. There is a great solution for this, and it does not require using any store-bought chemical. You can rest assured and know there is a more natural approach to remedy this situation.

Here is a bug bite anti-itch recipe to rescue your body from those stubborn bug bites:

Ingredients:

• 1/2 oz beeswax
• 1 oz coconut oil
• 1/2 oz jojoba wax
• 14 drops of lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
• 7 drops of peppermint essential oil (Mentha x piperita)

Directions: First, melt the beeswax in an old pot on the stovetop.  You can set the wax inside of a heatproof glass container and fill your pot about ¼ full with water; this will allow you to melt the wax using a double-boiler method. You will then add the coconut oil and jojoba wax.  After the waxes are melted and fully mixed with the oil, you can then remove the pan from the stovetop and add the essential oils. Stir to combine.

At this point, pour the hot liquid into a safe container. The aromatherapists at Aromahead recommend using a lip balm tube for easy application. You will most likely need a plastic pipette to prevent spills.

After the stick cools down for a few hours, you are ready to use it! Simply rub the stick on bites for instance itch relief.

Making these remedies ahead of time is a great idea. Keep both the bugs spray, and the itch remedy balm nearby. Remember, this is not a substitute to prevent or treat allergic reactions. These recipes have been a wonderful and natural alternative that my family has used to protect ourselves during the heavy mosquito season.

Ayurveda Summer Practices & 5 Ayurvedic Summer Fruits

It’s summer time! Ayurveda calls the summer season as ‘Grishma Ritu’. As the sun rays become more powerful, the body feels as if squeezed with increasing atmospheric temperature. This in turn weakens the Kapha, day-by-day, and strengthens Vata.

Ayurveda is called the science of life because it gives great importance to the preventive aspects of health. If you notice the ancient classical textbooks on Ayurveda, the initial chapters have been devoted to the daily and seasonal regimens.

Ayurveda Summer fruits

What Ayurveda has to say about summer?

  • Salt, sour, and pungent tastes should be avoided
  • Rigorous exercises and too much exposure to sunlight should be avoided
  • Preference should be given to sweet tastes
  • The food should be light, unctuous, and cool in properties
  • Cold water should be used for taking shower
  • Intake of alcoholic beverages should be limited or forbidden
  • Diet should include white rice, watery meat soups, water flavored with camphor powder or trumpet flower, churned spicy yogurt, milk, leafy vegetables, and seasonal fruits

What are the ideal fruits for summer?

  1. Mango: As per Ayurveda, ripe mango pacifies Vata, is sweet and sour in taste and increases Kapha and Virility.
  2. Grapes: Ayurveda considers grapes as the best among fruits. It is aphrodisiac, improves vision, and keeps the bowels clear. The sweet taste makes it ideal for summer season. It has light, unctuous, and cold in properties. It pacifies Vata and cures bleeding disorders, bitter taste of mouth, cough, fever, alcoholic intoxication, and emaciation.
  3. Pomegranate: It is sweet in taste and pacifies tridoshas—Vata, Pitta and Kapha. They are stomachic, light, unctuous, constipative, appetizer, and carminative in action.
  4. Watermelon: This summer favorite is extremely hydrating and best suited for season. It cools the body and pacifies. It should not be combined with any other food items and is better to be eaten alone.
  5. Plums: They are sour in taste, vitiate Pitta and Kapha. It pacifies Vata and is a laxative. In addition, plums are powerhouses of nutrients and cures digestive problems.

Fruits are summer super fruits and are healthy for digestion and assimilation. Fully ripened, fresh fruits appropriate to the season can act as nectar. As per Ayurveda, fruits with the above mentioned qualities get immediately digested and converted to Rasa (one among the seven tissues). These fruits also increase the Ojas (energy and vitality) and provide immunity. Remember to go for organic fruits from your local market whenever possible.

Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash


All information and resources provided are based on the opinions and experiences of the author, unless otherwise noted. Information is intended to encourage readers to do their own research and come to their own conclusions, and should never substitute or replace the recommendations of a qualified healthcare provider. Always consult your physician before making changes to your diet, exercise, or general wellness plan, even when using holistic methods.

In Honor of International Yoga Day 2018

Yoga is one of the most popular workout regime in recent times. With its origin in India, the word yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘To unite’. In simple words, I would say yoga is the union of the self and the spirit.

Due to an increase in popularity worldwide, June 21st is celebrated as International Yoga day.

The idea of International Day of Yoga was first proposed by the current Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, during his speech at the UNGA, on 27 September 2014.

During the month of June and  as we celebrate the International Day of Yoga, I would like to share a few facts on yoga, its relationship with Ayurveda, and my journey with these two sciences.

yoga silhouette
Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

What is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient physical and spiritual discipline and branch of philosophy that originated in India reportedly more than 5,000 years ago. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means to yoke, join, or unite.

The earliest written record of yoga, and one of the oldest texts in existence, is generally believed to have been written by Patanjali, an Indian yogic sage who lived somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 years ago.

What Are the Benefits of Yoga?

The benefits of yoga are innumerable. It constitutes Asanas, or postures, Pranayama, or breathing exercises, and focused concentration to unite the body, mind, and spirit together.

It helps to achieve increased flexibility, strength, balance and stamina of the body, and prevention of joint pain and tenderness. These are just the benefits on the body. In addition, it helps in stress reduction, provides better sleep patterns, improved self-confidence, and alignment of your body with mind.

Also, there are specific yoga postures advised for most of the diseases and in pregnancy and postpartum.

Relationship Between Yoga and Ayurveda

Both of these sciences, which have their origin in the Vedic texts, address health and wellness practices. If Ayurveda is the healing aspect, yoga is the spiritual/practical side of the Vedic teachings.

The teachings of Ayurveda are mainly for the achievement of ‘Purusharthas’ – Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Dharma means righteousness or duty, Artha means wealth, Kama means desire, and Moksha means liberation. An individual can realize him or herself by balancing and fulfilling these four objectives. In this, the Moksha or ultimate liberation and identification of self can be achieved by the practice of yoga.

Understanding the body constitution, which is the prime diagnosis tool of Ayurveda, can be utilized to identify the correct yoga according to individual. Though all yogis are not familiar with the sister science Ayurveda, all Ayurveda practitioners will know the basics of yoga.

Yoga day 2018
Photo by Arya Krishna

My Experience with Yoga and Ayurveda

I was introduced to Ayurveda under the guidance and prayers of Satguru Mata Amritanandamayi in Amrita School of Ayurveda, Kerala, India. Ours was a Bachelors in Ayurveda Medicine and Surgery Course, for a duration of five years which has the yoga education for 18 months’ time.

I still remember my first yoga class. It was on Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutations. And the class was given by Swami Dayalu. From that day my relationship with yoga was truly divine. I was a trained classical dancer from the age of four and the knowledge of classical Bharatanatyam dance helped me in doing the yoga poses with flexibility.

During my pregnancy and post-partum, I practiced yoga. I tried to incorporate yoga and Indian classical dance to form Nritya Yoga, or the Yogic dance.

As an Ayurveda practitioner and yoga practitioner I would like to say yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice which can help you deal with almost all the diseases of body and mind. It can be done in a curative aspect. But, remember to practice and perform yoga under the guidance of a knowledgeable person.

The International Yoga Day was declared unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly or UNGA. Practice and spread this divine science.

5 Hormone-Balancing Rules That You Need To Know Right Now

Hormones are known as chemical messengers in the body, which can impact overall health. Glands and organs secrete these messengers throughout the body, therefore, it is vital that your hormones are balanced. For men and women, hormones that occur include estrogen, testosterone, adrenaline, and insulin. They travel through the endocrine system, the blood, and to various tissues in the body. Even the slightest imbalance can cause significant health problems. The most common causes of hormonal imbalance could be a poor diet, allergies, genetics, or even exposure to toxic chemicals. But balancing hormones is not as hard as it may seem, and there are many effective ways to keep an eye on them without chemicals or additives.

pexels-photo-179912
Photo by Pexels

1. Cut Down On Sugars

To restore your hormones, one important rule is to make sugar an occasional treat. Sugar is known to cause a fluctuation in hormones easily. It can impact blood sugar levels, weight, and even appetite. Excess sugar intake can disturb the balance of insulin in the body, resistance to insulin and leptin can also cause the body to store fat instead of burning it. This happens because the hormone fails to keep the metabolism going, which influences energy levels. By making a conscious rule to cut down on sugar,  you reduce its effect on estrogen and testosterone levels in the body. You can reduce the intake of sugar in everyday food, like coffee, tea, curries, chocolates, etc. And gradually shift to sugar-free alternatives.

2. Get Plenty Of Rest

Science shows that a lack of sleep can impact the normal functioning of the body. Apart from your diet, a lack of sleep could be disturbing your hormone levels. Aim for at least 7-8 hrs of sleep every night so that your body’s hormone levels are balanced. Hormone imbalance can be caused by merely disturbing your body’s natural circadian rhythm. If you are wondering how sleep can impact hormones, it's because just like you, even your hormones work on a specific schedule. Lack of proper rest can stimulate the stress hormone, cortisol, contributing to depression and anxiety. It can disturb your diet and other routines, impacting hormonal well-being.

3. Good Digestive Health

One healthy and productive way to balance your hormones is through your gut. By eating healthy at every meal, you don’t have to worry about your hormones. Aim for good digestive health, as your stomach determines how balanced your hormones will be. If you eat healthily, then you don’t have to worry about fluctuating estrogen or testosterone levels as much. You can do that by eating foods that are good for digestion, like clean proteins, such as chicken, legumes, seeds, and seafood; antioxidant-rich veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and spinach; and healthy fats like ghee, coconut oil, and olive oil. You can even introduce healing spices and herbs into your meals. All these foods can help you build a healthy hormonal balance.

4. Add Probiotics to Your Diet

Another rule to live by for hormonal health is to include probiotic foods in your diet. You can find probiotics in foods like bread, yogurt, kefir, sourdough, sauerkraut, and more. They act quickly to balance hormones by repairing the gut lining and function. Many foods we eat can cause inflammation in the body, but probiotics fight undigested food particles that can impact the body’s overall functioning. They do the work of enzymes in the gut that help break down food into smaller particles, making it easier to digest. These healthy bacteria can boost the production and regulation of critical hormones in the body like leptin and insulin. You can say that, in a way, probiotics are digestive-friendly food that can regulate normal hormone levels.

5. Avoid Too Much Stress

Stress plays a significant role in hormonal imbalance, as well as overall health. That’s right, something as severe as chronic stress can disrupt hormonal balance, and even without realizing it your habits and lifestyle could be impacting fluctuating hormone levels. For example, a hectic work schedule, stressful exercise routines, or an extreme diet, could upset the hormonal balance. Even emotional stress can impact your everyday life and your hormones. Yoga and meditation are a few among many soothing methods that can calm your nerves and regulate normal hormonal function.

These are just a few lifestyle changes that can help balance your hormones. They can either help you overcome the symptoms in the initial state or naturally reduce its effect. However, in some cases, one would require synthetic hormonal treatments, particularly if symptoms are neglected for a long time. These hormone-balancing rules can be made naturally, and without the help of a doctor, however, it is always suggested to first consult with a doctor before any medication to overcome symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Make sure always to keep a track of your hormones and how you are feeling, this way it will help you respond to those symptoms accordingly.







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