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Shake What Your Mama Gave You

(and move that Kapha!)

When all is going wrong and you’re scared as hell
What you gonna do? Who you gonna tell?
Maybe a hundred bad days made a hundred good stories
A hundred good stories make me interesting at parties

A hundred bad days made a hundred good stories
A hundred good stories make me interesting at parties
Yeah, no, I ain’t scared of you
No, I ain’t scared of you no more

100 Bad Days -AJR

Heyo! Kapha season is full on in New England (the crowd goes wild). For sure, hands down my favorite season too. Why do I adore Kapha season? Spring is the time of rebirth, new beginnings, and abundance of earth and water, nourishment, growth, stability, and overall juiciness, oh and it’s Cadbury Egg season!!! Let it rain kapha, let it rain. 

I know I’m not alone when I say that this past winter was beyond brutal. My ojas credit card is maxed out. Perhaps your eye finally stopped twitching and sleep is back on the rails, the earthy/watery qualities of kapha are to thank. Alas, spring is truly a balm for the nervous system. A weighted blanket gifted to us from the heavens each and every April.

It’s hard to pin down exactly why winter drains most of us, even if we are taking the utmost care. Yes, vata season is taxing due to the predominance of the ethereal and airy qualities. It always befuddles me that the bulk of the holidays happen during vata season when our nervous systems are already maxed out. Perhaps we should lodge a petition to move Christmas to June, when we are more equipped to handle the sensory mayhem. Don’t even get me started with NYE (fun fact, my least favorite day of the year). 

For those that are meh about spring and feel the heaviness to be too much, I bring you hope and inspiration; inspiration in the form of daily SOLO dance parties. This calls to mind the scene from Umbrella Academy where they simultaneously dance to Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now”. In this scene the UA are cohabitating in a mansion and conducting solo dance parties in their respective spaces. If you have never seen this, please pause and watch it now, I promise it’s worth it. 

Kapha is heavy, slow, cold, unctuous,  cloudy, sticky, and goopy like mud. For those that find themselves feeling dull, uninspired, perhaps even depressed, know that this is totally normal and very common during the spring. The solution is to move. Circulate that prana, release any stagnation to avoid feeling bogged down. Full disclosure, I swap out my yoga practice for a dance party each spring. Don’t worry, I live alone and do not have downstairs neighbors…until 10am. 

I recommend that this practice happens during the kapha time of morning, 6-10am, when those heavier qualities are extra potent. Put in your ear pods, crank the music so loud you cannot think and let the rhythm and bass move you. Close your eyes, flow like water. Pump those arms to get udana vayu involved, this increases utsaha*. Squat low, work the quads which are governed by kapha dosha and are said to be connected with the lungs. Tap all over the body to circulate lymph. Keep your hair loose and headbang, moving that glymph. Massage the scalp & sagittal sinus, releasing emotional baggage.

PSA – socks are a bad call, especially if you have your eyes closed.

*Utsāha (Sanskrit: उत्साह) means – ‘enthusiasm’, ‘zeal’, ‘energy’, ‘strength’, ‘power’, ‘fortitude’, ‘strength of will’, ‘resolution’, ‘firmness’, ‘effort’, ‘endurance’, ‘perseverance’, cheerfulness’, ‘joy’, ‘happiness’;[1] it also means ‘initiative’ or ‘drive’.[2]

A Note on Āyurvedic Psychology and the Maha Gunas:

For those sattva seekers out there, will this increase rajas? Yes, 100% yes. BUT it increases rajas in a therapeutic way. Remember folks, we need rajas (passion, desire, activity) to bust through tamas (sloth & torpor). Any substance can be neutral, medicine, or poison. My stance is that if this practice is being used skillfully, and with the right intention, you will cultivate rajas in an effort to propel you from dullness towards balance, peace, and harmony.

A Note on Asātmyendriyārtha Saṁyoga:

According to Ayurveda the 4 components that make up life are the body, mind, sense, and soul. I like to think of these as the 4 legs of a chair. If one is off just a smidge, the chair begins to rock and imbalances rear their mischievous head. Sense care is a huge component of Āyurveda as it helps keep the “senses leg” solid. Being mindful of what kind and how much sensory stimulation is taken in is required for maintaining a life in balance. Why? Because our agni (digestive fire) has to metabolize everything taken in through the senses. Everything.

Śrotrendriya (ears) Atiyoga (overuse) can be a problem if one listens to excessive music, podcasts, television, barking dogs, crying babies, verbal banter, fighting, the list goes on. Thus, it is critical to neutralize the cacophony from the solo dance party with sattvic practices. This can include letting the ears rest for the remainder of the day – no earbuds when you go on a walk, skip the music in your car, listen to the sounds of nature (the birdies are just getting warmed up for their mating season).

Another practice I adore is karna purana, or ear oiling. I do this about 1x a week, at night, to ground excess vata and help me sleep. I know I need to perform karna purana when I become extra sensitive to sound. Like when a spoon drops and I want to punch something. Or when one of those dang stainless thermoses gets knocked over during a yoga class (hiss).

Jimmy-Bean and Sam-o-lama hit the dance floor

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming:

Not the dancing type? No worries, start slow and dig for tunes from your childhood that bring an instant smile to your face. Alternatively, you can choreograph this 4 Minute HIIT Workout from Zach Bush to your all time favorite song. What I love about this workout is that it works all the major muscles. It truly supports vyana vayu (circulatory system) and sleshaka kapha (synovial fluid). As Dr. Scott Blossom says, if you think you’re too old, you probably are – which is his motivational goading to “go get em, tiger.” Keep those knee joints lubed up until the day you die.

Need some musical inspiration? I’ve made a playlist on Spotify called “Ready To Let Go”, or find your A-list and let it rip. As my mamadoodle always says “It’s all in the shoulders” – coincidentally the kapha zone (upper ⅓ of the body). We’re a dancing family, raised on Motown, Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears.

Baila mi hermana
Baila para mi
Baila mi hermana
Baila para mi

Dance until your mood has lifted, until goosebumps pepper your skin with exhilaration, and sweat drips down your back. 

Dance for those 100 bad days.

Dance for your own self-healing.

Dance in honor of your ancestors, for whom if they had not plodded through their own 100 bad days, you surely would not be here. 

Dance, dance, dance.

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Banana Chia Cardamom Cereal 

Staving off Scurvy with Banana Chia Cereal

I know, I know, another breakfast recipe?! What can I say, I love breakfast. It’s the reason I bound out of bed each morning.

Weather wise, New England is always a crap-shoot. Last night we had epic winds that gave me heart palps. Sleet pummeling the windows, a dusting of snow, changing to an onslaught of rain. Lordy lordy. For many in the southern parts of the states you have been basking in spring like weather for weeks, if not months. Up north we are oscillating between spring/winter/spring. This is confusing for the perennials that were brave enough to bloom. For the robins that ventured back up to the shire. It’s confusing for me, my wardrobe, and my thermostat. 

Breakfast wise, I gravitate towards less grains come April. ‘Tis the season for a more austere approach to diet. Spring is dominated by earthier qualities: heavy, slow, sticky, cold, dense, cloudy…did I already say dense and heavy? Rather than leaning into those wintertime breakfasts like oatmeal, pancakes, fruit crisps, (yes I eat apple crisp for breakfast) quiche, or noodle kugel, I go the chia route. 

Chia for days

What makes this recipe a smidge different is that I am incorporating the banana, which offers a bit more heft to the chia cereal seeing as how we are still getting those weird arctic blasts. Bananas are a funny food in Ayurveda. They do not combine super well with many foods and are best eaten with other fruits or alone. As a student I was crestfallen when I found out that bananas and milk are a big Ayurvedic no-no. There went my banana kefir I was absolutely hooked on, sigh. However, I found a way in which bananas can be worked into a breakfast (besides fruit salad) that is amenable to the digestive system, or at least mine. 

Energetically, bananas are classified as sweet, astringent and sour. The hot & sour piece is the reason why bananas and milk are contrary. Milk is sweet and cooling and when the two are combined it becomes a hot mess energetically, too diametrically opposed. 

When ripe, bananas are vata pacifying and can relieve constipation.

When under ripe bananas are astringent, rather than sweet, and best for balancing pitta and kapha…oh, and they help manage diarrhea. 

Cardamom is an acquired taste, and I adore it. Energetic wise, cardamom is sweet and pungent, and fires up the system. Cardamom increases pitta (which I always seem to forget, sorry world that I have been a tyrant as I sip my cardamom medicated water) and balances vata and kapha. This floral spice helps with absorption of nutrients AND

  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Colds
  • Cough
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of Taste
  • Excess mucus in the lungs and stomach

Are you picking up what I’m throwing out? Good. Cardamom is a heavy hitter in the spring when allergies, mucus, and congestion abound. Now let’s make some breakfast. 

Banana Chia Cardamom Cereal 

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp Chia seeds

1 Tbsp Coconut – shredded, unsweetened

1 Tbsp Raisins

¼ tsp Cardamom – ground

½ – 1 tsp Cinnamon – ground

Pinch of pink salt

¾ cup water (add more if you prefer a thinner cereal)

1 small mashed banana – very ripe, with spots! 

Method:

Add chia, coconut, raisins, spices and salt to a small bowl, or mason jar if storing overnight. Add water, stir to combine. Allow the mixture to sit for a minute or two. The seeds on top will start to form a crust. Stir again, making sure all the chia seeds are submerged in liquid. Let sit for an hour, stirring occasionally, or even overnight in the fridge. Once the seeds have absorbed the water, fold in the mashed banana, using the tines of a fork to break up any chunks. Enjoy as is, or top with a drizzle of raw honey, a few slices of bananas, and a dash of cardamom.

Toodles!

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Yea or Nay on the Nap?

To nap or not to nap? That is the question. Sleep is a crucial part of our life. The quantity and quality of our zzz’s makes a significant impact on our overall energy level and mood. In Ayurveda, there are three pillars prescribed to achieve and maintain health, they are: sleep, diet and energy management. When all three of these pillars are in balance, living is easy. According to the classical Ayurvedic text Aṣṭāñga Hṛdayam, “Happiness and unhappiness, nourishment (good physique) and emaciation, strength and debility, sexual prowess and impotence, knowledge and ignorance, life and death – all are dependent on sleep.” That’s a lot of pressure put on getting a good night’s rest!

But what if sleep eludes you one night, or you’re simply exhausted, should you surrender to the call of a scandalous day time rest?  Well, as the answer is to everything in Ayurveda, “it depends”. “Sleep indulged at the improper time, in excess or not at all, destroys happiness (health) and is like another kālarātri (goddess of death).” Yikes! 

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on Pexels.com

In general, it is not advised to sleep during the day. Sure, should you feel some afternoon fatigue, perhaps put your legs up the wall or do 20 minutes of yoga nidra. Even a walk in the afternoon sun is said to beat sluggishness by thwarting the release of melatonin, the sleepy hormone.  However, Ayurveda says summer is prime time for indulging in an afternoon siesta, just do it on an empty stomach. It is said that as summer approaches, and the nights become shorter, vata dosha (the ethereal aspects of ourselves) becomes aggravated. As the temperature climbs, the body naturally begins to dry out. Sleeping during the day is thought to increase kapha dosha, or the earth & water elements, in the body thereby hydrating and lubricating the tissues, making it a perfect antidote to balance the heat of summer.  Take note, during other seasons when the water and earth element are more prevalent (think late winter and spring) sleeping during the day will increase kapha in ways that are not ideal – meaning you may wake up in a puddle of drool, cold, puffy, drowsy and craving cupcakes.

Bottom line? If you’re feeling sluggish during the dog days of summer, Ayurveda gives you permission to take a nap. The rest of the year? Perhaps take a sense break or get outside and let nature give you a burst of energy.

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10 Ayurvedic Tips for Weight Management

Ugh, why don’t my pants fit?! I swear I’ve been doing all the right things! Exercising daily, downing salads, kale smoothies, and even rice cakes! Where did I go wrong? 

Have you ever noticed that the harder you try to lose weight, the more weight you gain? Such a conundrum. If energy input is less than energy output, shouldn’t weight management be simple? Not so much. Maintaining a steady weight may seem like the puzzle of the century, but it doesn’t have to be a head-scratcher. 

5000 years ago Ayurveda laid out the ground rules for healthy, happy and balanced living. Below are ten diet and lifestyle tips that can help get you back on track, and stay there, without counting calories or hopping onto the next fad diet. 

My invitation is to read through these tips and select one that resonates with you. Try that tip on for a week, a few weeks, or a month. Once you feel as though that has become fully integrated into your life, then try on the next tip. As always, give yourself permission to be human, make mistakes, and move on. 

  1. 3 meals a day, preferably warm, no snacking

Let’s be honest, we’re a snacking culture! Snacks at the gas station, the hardware store, even Office Depot! Allegedly we became a snacking society with the advent of the corner gym. Once working out became a part of our lifestyle, it was common for people to start eating breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. Woah, let’s back that up a minute. 

We went from eating the following:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch 
  • Dinner

To:

  • Breakfast
  • Snack
  • Lunch
  • Snack
  • Dinner
  • Snack
Snack Lover

We basically doubled our caloric intake. This, in and of itself, is problematic. The body is built to burn the food we ingest. During the 3-4 hour break in which we are not eating, it will start burning the fat reserves. The stored fat works as slow, steady burning energy. Energy that allows us to go about our day in a more predictable manner, rather than experiencing ups and downs due to blood sugar fluctuations. When we eat breakfast, and then an hour later eat a snack (healthy or not), the body opts to burn the newly added fuel vs tapping into the fat stores. I imagine the dialogue goes something like this:

Body: Well jeez, I was just about to start burning the fat stores, but you just ate that carrot. Welp, I guess I’ll burn that, saves me a lot of work.

If you are a habitual snacker, it may take some finesse to work toward three meals a day. Most find that the morning snack is the easiest to eliminate. Deprogramming the afternoon snack habit will most likely take longer. Play with the quantity of food you are eating at breakfast and figure out how much food you need to consume to get you to lunch without being hungry. Do the same for lunch to dinner. 

Ayurveda recommends leaving 3-4 hour between meals. This is ideal so as to not interfere with the digestive process. Dr. John Douillard likens interrupting this process with snacks to botching a pot of rice. 

Imagine you are cooking rice for you and your pal. The rice has been bubbling away on the stove for 3 minutes when your kiddo walks in ravenous. You think to yourself, “no problem, I’ll just throw in another handful of rice.” Uncooked rice joins the simmering pot of par-cooked rice and you continue to cook the rice for the original cook time. How do you think that rice will turn out? Some chewy, some perfect, some mushy. Probably not going to be winning a James Beard Award for that rice. 

When we consume food the stomach gets to work by releasing hydrochloric acid to break down the nibbles and churns like a Whirlpool washing machine. Once the stomach has done its thing, it releases the chyme into the duodenum. If left unhindered, meaning no extra snacks added to the fold, then this is equivalent to cooking a 5 star pot of rice. 

However, if that cupcake is too good to pass up (no judgement, if it’s from Magnolia’s, it’s a no-brainer) the stomach is put in a quandary. Keep churning the food to break down some of the newly added cupcake and risk overcooking the prior batch. Or release sooner to the duodenum and give the small intestine some improperly processed food to try and absorb nutrients from. 

While this tip takes the most time to explain, I promise it’s #1 for a reason. 3 meals a day, no snacking, done. This has become hardwired into my brain, alleviating a lot of the stress and anxiety surrounding diets and weight management. 

Now for those who love your cake, and want to eat it too, no problemo! I’m not saying your beloved snack foods are being taken off the table. Just group them with a meal. If you love eating sweets or chips, have them with your lunch. 

  1. Eat your biggest meal at lunch

Studies have shown people that front load their calories have more success at keeping their weight in a steady range. That being said, it’s okay to skip breakfast if you’re not hungry in the morning.Those that have more kapha in their constitution may take a while to work up an appetite. That’s fine, favor fruit instead, don’t eat breakfast if you’re agni isn’t awake yet. Vatas, eat your oatmeal! Pitta, for the love of all things holy, please have food prior to your cup of joe. 

10am-2pm is considered the pitta time of day. This is when the sun is at its peak, and being a microcosm of the macrocosm, our digestive fire is burning bright. It is ideal to eat your biggest meal at lunch because your agni is equipt to break it down. Be sure to eat a substantial meal so that you have enough energy to get to dinner sans snacks. Remember, if you have a sweet tooth, have your treat at lunch. 

Dinner should be the lightest meal. Supper comes from the word supplemental meal. This can be tricky in our culture as we are a dinner heavy society. However, favor lighter fare such as soup and crackers, steamed veggies and grains. Remember that you are just going to lay down for 8 hours, so you don’t need a ton of energy. 

If some nights you do eat later, don’t sweat it, simply notice how you feel the next day. Eating late bogs down digestion, which diverts the energy that is normally allocated for cell and tissue repair and other detoxifying processes performed by the liver and kidneys. 

Ayurveda is the art of observation. Notice how you feel, make note, and adjust. 

  1. Listen for the burp 

The digestive fire is often likened to a small campfire. For those unfamiliar with the art of fire building, start with a base of kindling, add a spark, slowly start to add sticks, then bigger sticks, then logs. If you add too little fuel, what happens? Burns out. If you add too many logs what happens? Smothers and goes out because there is not enough wind to fuel the fire.

Ayurveda suggests we have a careful balance of food, water and air in our stomach. The pie gets split as follows: 

  • ⅓ Food
  • ⅓ Water, liquids (can include soups, beverages, moist foods) 
  • ⅓ Air

The air piece is often lacking in the Standard American Diet, it’s easy to forget to leave space so that air can circulate, so the stomach has room to churn. When you are full the body will let you know it’s full with THE burp. 

This burp is magical, and subtle. It shows up as a tiny trickle that works its way up the back of the throat. It’s often inaudible and it’s your body signaling that all the real estate is spoken for. If you leave the table now, you will feel light, refreshed and ready to move onto the next task. 

Heed the burp, fork down, walk away. I like to think that I don’t want to deprive my future self of the remaining brownie, cookie, etc. Save it for another time if the burp has arrived. You will leave the table feeling satisfied and light vs bogged down- like after a Thanksgiving dinner. 

  1. 80/20 , 60/40, 51/49 % Rule 

This rule is a fan favorite. If you are toeing the line 80% of the time, allow for 20% of slack. That sounds too tough? How about 60% to 40%? No, 51/49%? As long as you are making healthy choices for more than 50% of the time, you are on the right track. Leave space to have fun, do not get so rigid and dogmatic about rules that you dry up and become a fun sucker. Have the cake, beer, chocolate, and Hippeas. Moderation, and enjoy the heck out of those treats, rather than eating on the run. 

In his book Food Rules, Michael Pollan suggests the “S Rule”. This rule says no sweets, seconds, or snacking, unless it’s an “S” day (Saturday/Sunday). Implementing the S rule is basically like implementing a 70/30 protocol. Whether you prefer to let loose on the weekend, or have more flexibility throughout the week, keeping the 80/20, 60/40, 51/49 rule in mind will leave space for fun (and fun foods).

  1. Bitter to squash cravings

Ayurveda always looks to treat with opposites. If you are cold, you have a warm beverage. If your skin is dry, add moisturizer or oil. Sweet cravings can often be an indication of an imbalance of the 6 tastes. The six tastes are:

  1. Sweet
  2. Sour
  3. Salty
  4. Pungent
  5. Bitter 
  6. Astringent

Ideally you are consuming a mix of all 6 tastes. Most meals will have a base of the first three tastes, spices and greens usually take care of the remaining 3 tastes. While you do not have to consume these tastes in equal proportions, if you are only consuming a few tastes, things get skewed. 

To balance sweet cravings, treat with the opposite, and that’s bitter. Bitter can be found in black coffee, dandelion greens, kale, arugula, radicchio, broccoli rabe, IPAs, dark chocolate, or black tea. Coincidentally, these tastes as listed above, follow the stages of digestion and it is ideal to consume your food in the same order. Now, I’m not saying to start with cake, but perhaps the heavier grains, root vegetables, meats, and go from there. In many cultures meals end with something bitter. Rumor has it that in France bitter green salads are served last. It’s common in Italy to sip an espresso after a meal. Bitter ties up the meal nicely. 

Heady Topper – Bitter AF

I discovered this hack on my own. I would leave the Kripalu buffet always feeling unsatisfied, not because the food was lacking, but because I still was craving something. I started consuming a square of super dark chocolate and noticed my cravings went away immediately. From there I experimented with Urban Moonshine’s bitters and found this worked even better. I carry the travel size spray bitters and use them whenever I feel “tounge-ry” rather than hungry. 

  1. Sit when you eat

Take time to sit and enjoy your meal. Put down your phone, the newspaper and simply sit and be present with your food. Perhaps giving gratitude for all the hands that came together to get this food onto your plate. 

When you are multitasking, or eating standing up, the attention goes away from the food and outward. Not only can this hinder the digestive process, but by scattering your energy you are not taking in the depth and flavors of your food. Love that food up and make eating a ritual. 

  1. Wake up with the sun

Waking up with the sun can dramatically improve your energy levels. Vata dosha, composed of ether and air is said to rule from 2am-6am. If you wake up closer to 6am, you will feel the lighter, ethereal qualities of vata. Nature wants us to wake up with the sun, that’s when all the critters are up and at ‘em. In order to ensure more zip and enthusiasm for life, get up with the sun. 

However, if you are in the habit of sleeping into the kapha time of day (6-10am) your day will be infused with a heavier, earthy energy. Sleeping into the kapha time of day may leave you looking puffy, snotty, and requiring a small crane and 4 cups of coffee to get you out of bed.

Skip the snooze button and you can skip the coffee. 

  1. Exercise in the kapha time of day 

While the kapha time of day may not be great for sleeping, it’s a boon for morning exercise. Move the body and lymph first thing so that the system does not get gummed up. This is the time of day when we are physically at our strongest. It has been scientifically proven that we are physically stronger during the 6-10am window. A study found that Russian weightlifters could lift more weight in this time slot. 

Not only is the body physically built for exercise first thing, morning exercisers are more likely to stick to an exercise routine. My guess is the earthy quality of kapha makes them prone to routine, and if you exercise during the kapha time, this naturally becomes part of the daily rhythm.

Exercise moderates our digestive fire. A robust fire allows for substances to be properly broken down and assimilating, resulting in less ama or toxicity. 

Do whatever exercise excites you. If you hate it, then you’re probably not going to stick with it.  Dancing is a great way to lift the mood and get in some cardio, as Tal Ben Shahar says, “It’s hard to be somber while dancing.” Find an exercise guide with a similar constitution. Hate cardio? No problem, how about Pilates, weight lifting, kayaking, slow biking? If you tend to have more vata, you may need to burn off a little more energy before you can slow down. If you tend to struggle with depression, the Ayurvedic classical texts suggest walking east towards the rising sun every morning. 

Regardless of the exercise type, get moving!

  1. VATA weight gain!! 

The classical texts talk a lot about weight gain related to indulging in heavy foods and laying around. How many people can you think of that simply lounge around all day long? None, right? It’s not part of our culture. We are constantly on the go. Moving from task to task, barely taking time to eat, let alone breathe. When we do remember to eat, it’s to grab a salad and mindlessly eat it in front of our work computer. Stress abounds. Cortisol is released, we are constantly in fight or flight mode, rather than rest and digest. 

Stress is not a bad thing, our reaction to stressful situations has a survival purpose. We are biologically programmed to handle stress. If we see a bear on a hike our body enters fight or flight, which sends blood to the extremities to prepare to haul ass out of there. Then we realize it’s not a bear, rather a fuzzy labradoodle galavanting with its family. Well guess what? The stress hormones are still running wild, telling the body we are in danger for hours and hours after the “bear” incident. These hormones are telling the brain that we are in danger and may not get another meal for a spell, thus hold onto any fat like our life depends on it. Eek! Holding, holding, holding.

Ayurvedically speaking, what happens if we continue to take in qualities that are dry (salads) light (rice cakes), mobile (commuting), pouding (spin class) then our vata increases and our nervous system is perpetually on high alert. Kapha, the earth and watery dosha acts as a big brother and declares that there is a state of emergency. All these drying activities, smoothies, and salads are causing the system to be sapped of its juice. Kapha plops right on top of vata to prevent the drying and creates a lubricating barrier. This can show up as those pesky 10-15 pounds that just won’t budge. 

Until you drop the stress, the body will hold the weight. Once the state of emergency is over (meaning you are not in fight or flight mode 24/7), then kapha will relent and those pounds will slide off.  Practice belly breathing, or alternate nostril breathing, to start to soothe the system.

  1. Love yourself- you’re perfect and a gift

As cheese ball as it sounds, take time to truly appreciate your body and repay its generosity. Perhaps a loving abhyanga to nourish the skin. A foot massage in gratitude for all the miles your feet have carried you. File your nails and think about how hard it would be to communicate without these digits. Your body is on your team. Once you realize that your body is not your enemy, rather your champion, things will start to shift in a positive manner.

If you’re sick of counting calories and stressing about your weight, I highly encourage you to integrate some of these tips into your life. As previously mentioned, begin with one and slowly layer on another. Change takes time, but being able to ditch the scale anxiety makes it 100% worth it.

Eat that cake!

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A Planetary Guide to Sheltering-in-Place

A Planetary Guide to Sheltering-in-Place: How I know what day of the week it is based on what I’m wearing, eating and doing

What day is it? Is it Monday, or maybe it’s Tuesday. No wait, it’s definitely Monday…I think. 

Sheltering-in-place have you wondering what day of the week it is? Jyotish, or Vedic Astrology, can help you figure out what day of the week it is by what you’re wearing, eating, and doing. 

Jyotish recognizes 9 planets, or grahas, that play significant roles in our life. For the sake of this article we will only be focusing on 7 out of the 9 planets. The remaining 2 grahas, Rahu/Ketu were not designated a specific day, thank goodness because they are very mischievous.

The 7 planets are the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. 

Graha translates as something that grasps, or seizes us. While many are dismissive of the roles the planets play, there’s no denying that when the moon is full, things get strange, its presence deeply impacts the tidal pools, our emotions, and women’s menstrual cycles. The ERs fill with pregnant women going into labor, lunacy abounds, and it may be hard to sleep. 

Similarly, when the sun hides its face for weeks on end, it changes our perception. Bleak, cloudy days call for oodles of coffee to get that extra pep back in your step. However, the second the sun decides to shine its light on us, the masses emerge from their houses and soak up every moment with pure revelry.

Did you know the planets are also said to rule the different days of the week? 

  • Sunday is ruled by the Sun (no surprise there)
  • Monday, the moon
  • Tuesday is ruled by the fiery planet Mars
  • Wednesday is lorded over by Mercury
  • Thursday, sweet and benefic Jupiter
  • Friday is reserved for lovers and Venus
  • Saturday is Saturn-day

Now that you have this down, what does this all mean?! The planets like to be placated by us pandering to their preferences. If you honor their existence on their respective day, they just might bestow their blessings upon you, or at the very least, malefic planets will ease up on their wrath. 

Not only does following the planets make it easier to figure out what to wear, eat, and do each day, it helps one keep track of what darn day of the week it is. When someone asks me if it’s Tuesday, I simply look at my outfit, spot the bright red and reply “indeed”. 

Sun – Sunday

The sun is our soul, a great day to listen to Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. You may find that you feel a greater sense of reverence on Sundays. It could be helpful to connect with something that you consider higher than yourself, whether that be nature, God, animals, etc. 

Photo by Pedro Figueras on Pexels.com

The sun is also seen as the father, for some reason this inclines me to do things I ascribe as “man jobs”. Jobs that would make my father proud, like caulking the kitchen sink, washing my car, and tightening the screws on the cabinets. 

Regarding the wardrobe, dark red and orange represent the Sun. Favor clothes that are thicker, I assume this includes comfy sweatpants. 

Finally what to eat?! The Sun is connected with the bitter flavor, IPA anyone? Other foods include wheat, almonds, saffron, peppercorns, nutmeg, lavender, chamomile and wait for it…fine wines and rare liquors. Perhaps start your day off with a delicious almond croissant (almonds and wheat) accompanied by a cup of lavender & chamomile tea. No shame in sipping a cold one around the grill come Sunday afternoon. 

Moon – Monday

The moon is seen as the mother, and she governs our senses and emotions. You may find yourself more sensitive all around on Mondays, that’s to be expected! Cue The Bangles’ song “Manic Monday”. Practice self-care on Mondays. This could include a self-oil massage, moon salutations, journaling, getting in the water, allowing yourself to feel all the feels. 

Photo by Manav Sharma on Pexels.com

Mondays are the day to get out your white clothes, preferably newer clothes. 

Flavor wise, the moon is connected with the salty taste, is this because it causes us to retain water? That’s my best guess. The moon loves the following foods: rice, melons, coconut, common fruits and vegetables, cucumber, milk and dairy products, corn, water, beer, juice fruits, and stewed fruit. Don’t like coconuts? As Jimmy Stewart’s character retorts in It’s a Wonderful Life, “Say brainless, don’t you know where coconuts come from? Look-it here, from Tahiti, the Fiji Island, Coral Sea.” Coconut rice pudding, Thai curry, the world is your culinary oyster when using coconut. 

Tuesday- Mars 

Oooh, Tuesday, my favorite day of the week, connected with power and strength, and a little bit of war. Mars is a feisty planet, seen as malefic, but it can give us a boost when we are feeling stuck or stagnant. Tuesdays are a great day to do one thing you are scared of. I’m not talking about sky-diving, but writing a story, posting a video on Instagram of your latest dance moves. Let Mars give you the gumption and bravado you need to hit “publish”. May not be the best day of the week to go on a date, or get hitched, unless you like to debate. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Bright red is the color du jour for Tuesdays. Makes sense, right? Fire and glory. 

Favor pungent flavors to honor mars. This is the day I like to make Buffalo Cauliflower, Frank’s RedHot sauce never fails to knock my socks off. Mars also gets a kick out of spicy peppers, mustard, garlic, heavy proteins and meats, basically anything that makes your taste buds sing. Lastly, Mars loves stimulants such as coffee and black tea. Can we say cold brew Tuesday? 

Wednesday – Mercury

Mercury is seen as a prince, youthful and neither 100% benefic, nor 100% malefic, he can go either way depending on the company he keeps. Mercury is all about the rational mind and speech. Wednesdays are a boon for teachers and writers. I purposely schedule myself to teach, or do Ayurvedic consultations, on Wednesdays because I know Mercury has got my back and my teachings will be effectively communicated.  

Wear green on Wednesday, just make sure your clothes are pressed, iron and immaculately clean. 

Being the most vata of all the planets, Mercury does not prefer just one flavor, rather it likes all of them. Mercurial foods include mung beans, root vegetables, root beer (!), carrots, parsnips, fruits that are the result of grafting, like the tangelo or the pluot. My theory on this is that grafting takes a lot of ingenuity, which is brought to you by Mercury. Root Beer float day! 

Thursday – Jupiter

Photo by Luku00e1u0161 Dlutko on Pexels.com

Jupiter is the most benefic of all the planets, he oversees higher knowledge, wisdom and fortune. This is an auspicious day for most endeavours, especially pursuing esoteric knowledge, like studying Jyotish. 

Jupiter is represented by the color yellow, and the clothes are often more average or ordinary, save your glamorous clothes for Friday. Dr. Robert Svoboda suggests that if one is trying to beg a favor, always wear yellow, as Jupiter has no enemies and the favor is likely to be granted. On the flip-side, do not wear red (Mars) when asking for help as it may cause more excitement and confrontation.  

Got a sweet tooth? So does Jupiter. Thursday is the day for sweet and heavy foods, but of the utmost quality. Jupiter delights in the following foods: butter, ghee, cream, pumpkin, squash, berries, honey, dates, sugar cane, olive oil, spearmint, peppermint, and sweet wines. Why not eat a date or two on Thursday? They support iron levels, build ojas (immunity), and are delicious.

Friday- Venus

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that Venus is the planet related to desires and yearnings. The god of love, Fridays are perfect for date night. Can’t go out? No problem. Spotify has playlists to create the ambiance of your favorite Mexican, Italian, or Greek restaurant.

Creativity reigns on Fridays, comb your favorite food blogs and get cooking! Fridays are also ideal for breaking out the colored pencils, beads, watercolors and letting your inner child play. 

Like the moon, Venus is also connected with white. Variegated colors printed on fine cottons and silk will also do the trick. Venus loves to be well decorated, so feel free to dress to the nines. It’s date night, so why not?

Venus loves the sour flavors as well as exotic fruits and vegetables, berries, pomegranates, white sugar, candy and confections, flour, and flowering trees. Basically, this is the weekly “have your cake and eat it too” day. Get fancy and top your cakes with edible flowers to get extra credit from beloved Venus. 

Saturday- Saturn

Last and 100% not least, is our pal Saturn. Saturn has a lot of stigma around him, he is banished to the outskirts of the galaxy. Son of the Sun, he slowly makes his orbit, cold with downcast eyes. Saturn rules sorrow and misfortune. He’s all about rules, service and loss. I reserve Saturdays for my days of austerity, sadhana, and other spiritual practices. Saturn deeply appreciates the chanting of the Hanuman Chaleesa. Feeding crows (Saturn’s bird)  black sesame seeds is a phenomenal way to show Saturn some love. 

Being a stern and glum planet, Saturn prefers darker hues such as black, blue, indigo and violet, people of NYC rejoice! Being a representative of the mendicant, old, ragged or tattered clothes are par for the course. Blue jeans are the epitome of Saturn, once only reserved for coal miners and laborers. 

Saturn is all about the astringent flavors, probably because they zap the moisture out of the mouth (Saturn is a drying planet). Foods to hit up on Saturdays include sesame seeds, beans, peas, alfalfa, peanuts, soy, rye, coarse foods, impure food, old food, junk food, bitter herbs, and roots, salt, fermented foods such as pickles, vinegars, foreign dishes and dry wines. Personally, I try and abstain from drinking on Saturdays as to not perturb Saturn, but I’ll never turn down a glass of kombucha, which is a fermented product.


There you have it, a planetary guide to what to wear, eat and do on each day of the week. Whether or not you believe in the power the planets possess, you may find this framework a helpful way to navigate your wardrobe or cupboard. In the very least, you’ll know what day of the week it is! You’ll be the office hero when you can assuredly confirm in your next Zoom team meeting that it is in fact Monday.

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Insomnia: Decoding Why We Wake Up at Midnight, 2am, or Dawn

Sleep, I love you so much, and yet, I fear you. Sleep is king; the power sleep lords over us is greater than all the gold ringing in the coffer. We need it desperately, requiring sleep in order to function in every single way. To be able to navigate the world without snapping, crying, or withdrawing. To loving serve our children, family, community, and boss without being acerbic. Basically, we need sleep to be a good human. But, what if sleep is not your forte? What if going to bed fills you with trepidation and uncertainty? Will I sleep tonight, or will it be disturbed and full of chaotic dreams?

Rest assured, Ayurveda offers the key to decoding your seemingly erratic sleep patterns. For those unaware, one of the cornerstones of Ayurveda is following a daily routine. In modern parlance, this would refer to heeding the call of circadian rhythms.

It is universally understood that human beings are diurnal creatures. Diurnal means awake during the day and sleeping, god willing, during the night. Nocturnal meaning the opposite, awake at night and sleeping during the day. 

Contrary to popular belief, human beings are not designed to be night owls. However, through the force of habit, societal pressure, or jobs, many end up self-identifying as candle-wasters. While the practice of burning the midnight oil can be fun in your teens and early twenties, over time it becomes detrimental to your health. 

Ayurveda recognizes that the daily clock is governed by the energies and qualities of the three doshas, vata, pitta, and kapha. Each dosha rules a 4 hour block of time in the morning and evening. Below is a breakdown:

6am – 10am = Kapha 

10am- 2pm = Pitta

2pm – 6pm = Vata

6pm – 10pm = Kapha

10pm – 2am = Pitta

2am – 6am = Vata 

For the sake of this article, we will be focusing on the last three time chunks.

The qualities of kapha are heavy, dense, stable, gross. Kapha is composed of earth and water. Together earth and water meld to form a thick, goopy substance. Kapha gives us physical structure and allows us to feel grounded. At 6pm, kapha rolls in and resides until 10 pm. Why is this important? Because it is the heavy, dense, stable energies of kapha that makes our body feel heavy and sleepy while watching Lester Holt. It’s okay to be tired at 8pm, that’s what nature intended, go to bed! Instead of repeatedly forcing your eyes open, GET IN BED! If you slip into bed when these heavier qualities are present, the chances are that you will fall asleep quickly, and most likely stay that way until the morning. 

The King of Nightly News, Mr. Lester Holt

However, if you decide scrolling through Instagram is more appealing, no shame, then you will feel the energies of pitta, the next dosha in line. Pitta is derived from fire and water. While counterintuitive, pitta is mostly made up of fire, with a smattering of liquid. The liquid serves as a container to hold the fires of pitta. Similar to how our stomach is lined with a mucosa layer to protect the tissues from the fiery acids. Pitta is hot, sharp, and spreading. Uh oh. Do you see the difference between sweet, heavy, dense kapha and wildfire pitta? If given the choice, which qualities would you elect to have dominating your slumber? Seems like a no brainer, right? Kapha is the sure winner – kapha is maternal/paternal. Kapha wants you to get some shut eye. 

Should you be awake at 10pm when pitta rears its spicy head, you will get a second wind. The boiler ticks on and the body’s temperature kicks up a few degrees. The biological function of this extra heat is similar to the nightly janitor coming in to clean house. Scientific research discovered that this is the time when the body is repairing cells, detoxifying the liver, and flushing out toxins through the lymphatic system. Clearly, this is a critical piece to being a thriving human. We need the janitor to come in every single night. Sure, if you stay up late every now and again, no biggie, but if this a nightly habit, not good. 

Being up every night during the wee hours is akin to never cleaning your apartment or taking out your trash. Letting boxes pile up in the corner, leaving dust bunnies to form sentries under your couch, toothpaste film in your sink, and your compost bucket transforming into a liquid. You get the picture. If you are not detoxing nightly, then your channels are brimming with toxins that the body did not have the luxury to dispose of because you were noodling around on Twitter. 

The final chunk of time to explore is from 2am-6am. This gem is ruled by Vata dosha. Vata is a marriage of the elements ether (space) and air. Space and air are not tangible, they are light, mobile, dry and rough. Imagine a brisk windy day, the wind whipping around the trees. We cannot physically capture the wind, but we can experience it through our senses. The wind is abrasive on our skin, overtime causing dryness and hyper-sensitivity. Once 2am hits, Vata is in charge and things may get a bit rough like the wind. The mind picks up speed, the senses are heightened and the emotional palate may be extreme and variable, like the wind. Tears, anxiety, grief, worry, frustration, loneliness, these emotions are all par for the course. This is when the wild dreams will take flight, all brought to you by Vata. 

And without further adieu, onward to the insomnia analysis. 

Why am I waking up at midnight, 2am or dawn?! 

While most sleep experts would discourage you from looking at the clock when you wake in the middle of the night, Ayurveda would suggest taking a peek. Trust me, I get it, this part fills me with apprehension, but this information is critical to deprogramming the insomnia story. 

Midnight-2am – Pitta Dosha

If you wake up at midnight, or in the pitta window of 10pm-2am, this points to a pitta imbalance. To throw in another layer, there are different organs that prevail during various 2 hour chunks of time. These organs are also connected with a dosha and an emotional overtone. The hours of midnight to 2am are governed by the heart, related to unresolved emotions- which can manifest as sadness or anger depending on the person. 

Remember that these hours are ruled by pitta, pitta’s job is to metabolize, detoxify and transform once it punches the clock. The liver is one of the primary organs of detoxification, and you can bet the house that the liver is hard at work during the wee hours. Liver time begins at 2am! The liver is a hot, fiery organ, classically associated with anger. If you are living a life that is pitta aggravating, you may notice that you wake up around midnight dumping sweat and requiring copious amounts of water to quell the heat. What aggravates pitta?

  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Citrus and sour fruits
  • Spicy or fermented foods
  • Fried Foods
  • Not eating enough to feed the fire (pittas burn through food, salads are not going to cut it)
  • Fighting, talking about politics 
  • Being overly competitive or regimented 
  • Not allowing space in your schedule to decompress
  • Being a workaholic 
  • Lack of love, compassion and surrendering 
  • Negative self-talk
  • Summer

Perhaps if you had a glass of red wine before bed, you wake up because your liver is working in overdrive. Again, everything in moderation, simply take note and adjust. Balance with opposite qualities. Prefer less aggressive and intense foods and beverages. Get outside in nature, bring the heat out of the head by walking barefoot in the dewey grass or submerging them in cool water. Take in the expansiveness of the night sky, gaze at the moon. 

Sleep Tips for Pitta:

Eye cover for the win
  1. Black out curtains! Being photosensitive, a pitta cannot sleep if there is even a sliver of light. Invest in black out curtains or an eye mask. 
  2. Keep the room on the cooler side, pittas have enough internal heat to keep them toasty. 
  3. Metta meditation before bed (not the news!) – practice softening the heart and opening to more compassion. Pittas have the hardest time falling asleep, practicing gratitude is a perfect way to mitigate the fire of an analytical mind.

Pitta Dreams:

  • Teaching or learning
  • Naked in public
  • Arriving late for a meeting/school/event
  • Violence, battle, war, aggressive sex
  • Summer
  • Eating/drinking 
  • Burning buildings 
  • Tigers or Cats

2am- 4amVata Dosha

Curse you 2:45am! 2-3am is the most loathed wakeup call. This is the time of night where you startle awake as though someone tossed a bucket of ice cold water in your face. Gasp! You find yourself torn out of sleep, heart pounding and the mind amped up and ready to fret about everything under the sun. 

Henry Butz, the Vata Beagledore

For those with a predominance of vata, your sleep is light and interrupted. You may find yourself waking up every 2 hours due to excessive dreams or debilitating nightmares. As a result, the next day a vata sleeper is exhausted with poor energy. Lack of sleep dries out the channels and poor concentration, bloating, constipation, and eventually arthritis and rheumatism can ensue. 

Recognizing that vata qualities will inevitably dominate in the hours of 2am-6am, you may find your thoughts become more mobile. These are the hours where the mind is bouncing like a Jack Russell Terrier. Oscillating like an industrial fan from emotion to emotion.  Worrying about the state of humanity, picking at old childhood wounds, getting peeved at your snoring partner (or pet), tears of frustration followed by a cool resignation to your sleepless state. Ether and air are running wild, but what aggravates Vata? 

  • Coffee, chocolate, black tea
  • Alcohol
  • Dry, light foods- salads, rice cakes, crackers, beans, leafy greens
  • Smoothies
  • Cold food, beverages
  • Skipping meals
  • Eating on the run
  • Irregular routine 
  • Being on a screen all day
  • Excessive talking, or texting
  • Engaging the mind too late into the night
  • Too much sex
  • Excessive movement- running, spinning, commuting, power yoga
  • Overwhelming the senses
  • Late fall to early winter 

Balance cold, rough, dry, and mobile vata with grounding practices. Warm, cooked, gently spiced foods. Include oils internally and externally into your daily routine. Increase lubrication by adding a drizzle of olive oil to your cooked grains, or anointing the body with herbalized oil before a warm bath. Aggravated vata is soothed by dimming the lights, unplugging 2 hours before bed and playing spa. 

Sleep Tips for Vata :

  1. Ear plugs! Vata types are hypersensitive to sound. These are the folks that can hear a clock ticking in the next room. Eliminate extra stimulation by wearing ear plugs.  
  2. Make a nest. Weighted blankets, socks, sweatshirts, pillows to cuddle. Vatas cannot sleep in a cold room, make sure you are warm and cozy. 
  3. Belly breathing – breathe deep and full, filling the entire belly. Exhale completely, wash, rinse, repeat. 

Vata Dreams:

  • Falling
  • Being attacked or pushed 
  • Constant action
  • Witnessing the death of a loved one
  • Flying
  • Jail, or being locked up
  • Being paralyzed with fright
  • Birds or snakes

Dawn- Kapha Dosha

To be frank, I didn’t think there was such a thing as kapha insomnia. These earthy types are known to sleep like a log and are often prone to hypersomnia. These guys go down hard and fast and stay that way. Kaphas can sleep in any room, warm or cold, any bed. My partner is a kapha and he once fell asleep in a lawn chair, positioned on a busy street corner while holding a campaign sign for his pal running for City Council….he slept for 2 hours!

Waking a kapha up is not pretty, they love sleeping through their alarm and often beg for “just another 5 minutes”. They wake up puffy with eye crusts. Coffee was basically invented for kaphas, otherwise they would require a small crane to come excavate them each morning. 

According to Dr. Vasant Lad, kaphas CAN have insomnia, though mild by comparison to the pitta or vata variety. While a kapha sleep soundly through the night, they may find themselves waking up at dawn and unable to get back to sleep. This can be a bummer, especially if they didn’t hit the pillow until midnight.

4-6am is related to the colon and bladder, which can explain some wakeup calls that are more a call of nature. Because vata is still prevailing, the emotional overtone during the bladder/colon hour is anxiety. 6am ushers in the lung hour. In both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that the lungs are a repository for grief and sadness. It is not uncommon for breath to be constricted at 6am, or to feel glimmers of sorrow during the lung hours.

Kapha insomnia is often related to diet, namely overeating. Remember that kaphas are composed of the grosser elements, earth and water. Because of this, they have a propensity to put on weight, and keep it on. These extra pounds can interfere with breathing resulting in snoring, sleep apnea, mild depression, seasonal affective disorder and even restless leg syndrome. What aggravates kapha?

  • Heavy foods – meat, wheat, dairy sugar
  • Cold foods and drinks – ice cream, iced water, smoothies
  • Excessively oily foods – nuts, avocados, coconut, olives
  • A diet heavy in the sweet, sour and salty tastes
  • Eating in between meals
  • Eating too late at night 
  • Drinking your calories
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Lack of stimulation – mentally or physically 
  • Being married to a routine and unwilling to deviate
  • Hoarding 
  • Not vocalizing your needs
  • Sleeping too many hours
  • Staying in unhealthy relationships
  • Late winter early spring 
Donuts in bed + The Great British Bake Off
= Kapha Heaven

Balance heavy, slow, solid and cold kapha with the opposites. Bring in stimulation through vigorous exercise. Increase circulation by incorporating spices into your foods, like cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, garlic, or ginger. Dry brush the skin to slough off old cells and move the lymph. Avoid eating wheat, meat, dairy and sugar in the spring, especially if you are prone to seasonal allergies. Spring clean! Organize your space and donate whatever you no longer need. A clutter free space creates a clutter free mind.

Sleep Tips for Kapha :

  1. Eat a light dinner, leaving at least 2 hours between your last bite and bed. 
  2. Exercise daily 
  3. To cultivate gratitude and temper any seasonal depression, before counting sheep, make a mental list of 3 glorious things that happened that day. 

Kapha Dreams:

  • Romantic 
  • Feature water or snow
  • Finding money
  • Swimming
  • Eating sweets
  • Repetitious 
  • Arriving late
  • Seeing themselves dead
  • Winter
  • Ocean animals, elephants or swans

Well, there you have it, the user’s manual for solving those pesky sleep interruptions. Next time you are ripped from a deep sleep for seemingly no reason, glance at the clock and note the time. Allow this information to help you decipher a potential doshic imbalance. 

Remember, no one is impervious to temporal or seasonal changes. Meaning, you may find you have more kapha sleep issues in the spring,  pitta in the summer, and vata in the winter. I invite you to dive inside, be your own healer and get that sleep back on track, stat.

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Sleep: Does it REALLY matter which direction your head faces? Yes!

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rank the quality of your sleep? Do you wake up feeling refreshed? Or do you feel completely zapped of energy, as though you never actually slept? Perhaps you toss and turn all night due to active and agitating dreams. You can blame it on the late afternoon chocolate pick-me-up, the glass of Malbec, or the work conflict, but it may actually be your sleeping direction.

Yes, you read that right, according to Vastu Shastra, the traditional Hindu system of architecture, the direction your head points while snoozing can determine how much juice you get out of your slumber. 

By now we all know that sleep is extraordinarily important. Not only does a good night’s rest allow us to be nice people, but it also enables the subconscious to perform repair work on the body. Ayurveda asserts that there are three pillars of health: diet, sleep and energy management. Think of these three pillars as the legs of a chair, and if one is falling short, or out of balance, then the whole chair will wobble, as will your health.

Sometimes we do all the right things, unplug the electronics by 8 pm, meditate, gratitude journal and yet, sleep is still elusive. This is where Ayurveda may turn to the ancient wisdom of Vastu for resolution. 

Translating as the “science of architecture”, Vastu Shastra is like the Hindu version of Feng Shui. Vastu seeks to balance all 5 elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether) by ensuring that all the elements are in proper position and proportion. The intention is to ensure that the dwelling is harmonious, thereby fostering a peaceful, healthy and loving homestead. With the understanding that we are constantly receiving and radiating energy, it is critical to sleep in an orientation that is conducive to propagating quality energy. Please note, when considering the direction of the head while sleeping, this placement refers to the direction the top of the noggin is pointing when supine. 

Without further adieu, let’s investigate the best sleep options per vastu. 

North

To quote the great Dr. Vasant Lad, “Only dead people sleep pointing north.” It is Hindu custom to arrange a corpse so that the head of the deceased is pointing north until cremation. They believe that north is the route that the soul takes to exit the body. Because of this notion, it is thought that north sleeping is only desirable for lucid dreaming and astral travel, otherwise sleeping with the head towards the north is ill advised due to earth’s magnetism. 

As rug-rats we learned that the earth has a magnetic pole extending from north to south, with the positive pole in the north and the negative pole in the south. It has been suggested that the human being is also like a magnetic pole with the top of the head positively charged and the bottom of the feet negatively charged. If you grab two magnets and try to place the positive poles together they repel like a vampire on a sunny beach. Similarly, if you lay with your head to the north, there are 2 positive poles at work creating a riveting skirmish. Sadly, the earth’s pole will always win as it is greater and we will wake up feeling exhausted from this subconscious battle that has been ensuing all night. This magnetic phenomenon is also thought to effect the circulation of blood causing stress, illness and inevitably disturbing the mind. If you sleep with your head to the north you may experience the following:

  • Misery
  • Frustration
  • Crankiness
  • Lack of emotional stability
  • Diminished willpower 
  • Physical ailments


Lastly, according to Dr. Robert Svoboda, “ Sleeping with your head into the north draws energy out of the body, disturbing body-mind-spirit integration.” Moral of the story? Don’t sleep north.

East

The Greatness of Saturn: A Therapeutic Myth
by Dr. Robert Svoboda

For all you students out there, east is your ideal sleep direction. According to vastu, sleeping with your head pointing east is a boon for any academic pursuits. It boost memory, increases concentration and promotes meditative sleep, resulting in good health. East is recommended for scholars, teachers and those looking for fresh career opportunities or promotions. The quality of this sleep is thought to make a person feel powerful and energized. In addition, this is the position suggested for those hoping to overcome any health related obstacles. 

West

Sleeping west is a mixed bag. Many suggest that sleeping west is ideal for those that are success driven, striving for fame, wealth and a stellar reputation. If your goal is to take over the world and have 1.4 million followers on Instagram, go west. Other sources suggest that west is a neutral sleeping position, while some say west is not ideal and promotes active and unsettling dreams. Allegedly, those dedicated to the science of vastu shastra purposely have their guest bedroom equip with a bed pointing west. As a result their company does not achieve a restful night’s rest, thus, lacking rejuvenating sleep they will not be inclined to overstay their welcome. Smart. 

South

Brahmi, my travel buddy

According to vastu shastra, south is the winner. South is ruled by the Hindu god Yama, therefore if one wants to have the heavy and deep sleep of death, sleep south. Going back to the magnetic pole theory, since there is a mutual attraction happening (head positive, south negative), there is a harmonious exchange that does not leave one feeling depleted and exhausted. Sleeping south is thought to help draw the energy into the body, rather than out in the case of north, resulting in better health. This direction also promote happiness and prosperity. Let’s face, who isn’t happy when they’ve slept like a log?  

So there you have it, some vastu 101. To sum things up with more wisdom from Dr. Robert Svoboda, “Sleeping with your head into the west or north opposes sleep’s chief goal, which is to maximize rest and recuperation.”

Experiment with the position of your bed and see what happens. I’ve had a handful of friends switch their sleeping position from north to south and found immediate relief from restless nights.

Your partner, pet or plants may not love you rearranging the furniture on the reg, but just explain that your happiness and prosperity will soar with this new reconfiguration. Sweet dreams!

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VPK Quarantine: How to gracefully bunker down with your loved ones

It stands to reason that if you truly want to know someone, be it your spouse, sidekick, or progeny, a 2 week quarantine is a fabulous way to immerse yourself in their idiosyncrasies. With the advent of Spring 2020, the entire world was catapulted into a tailspin fueled by uncertainty, fear, and sheer panic. No doubt, the Coronavirus is a force to be reckoned with. 

We heard whispers of said virus, but it wasn’t until last week that COVID-19 had us batten down the hatches at record speeds. CVS looked like a Black Friday circus as customers clamored for Purel and the highly coveted 60-pack of Charmin Ultra Soft Toilet Paper. Comestibles? Check. Water? Check. Cadbury Mini-Eggs? Double check. 

So here we are, with our beloveds – – but what if in larger doses they drive us absolutely bananas? Breathe, Ayurveda can provide some insight on how to skillfully, and lovingly, handle each family member during times of stress. By recognizing their innate constitutional makeup, one is given an intuitive map to what makes them tick. 

Ayurveda recognizes that everyone has a distinct genetic blueprint that manifests as a configuration of the 5 elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. Together these elements coalesce to form the 3 doshas, or biological humors. 

Vāta Dosha = Air & Ether

Pitta Dosha = Fire & Water

Kapha Dosha = Water & Earth

Not sure which category you, or your family members, fall in? Here’s an archetype run down:

Vāta

Vāta people have a predominance of ether and air. Like the wind, they move quickly, talk fast and flutter from idea to idea. These are the social butterflies, the artist, the dancers and dream makers. You can easily spot one by their long, lean build, namely in their legs. Vātas are known for being enthusiastic and the team cheerleaders. When met with a challenge, they may quickly erupt, but then promptly forget and move on. 

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Willowy vātas couldn’t gain weight if they tried. Their frames are on the slight side and they are ruled by their senses. With the skin being the largest organ, sense organ and otherwise, vāta people can be overstimulated by excessive touch or sensory stimulation. These are the people that come home from a trip to NYC with their eye twitching due an overload of the sense organs. Flashing lights, honking taxis, street food smells, people everywhere…vāta goes haywire and needs to detach from the world for a spell in order to recharge. 

Lacking an abundance of  the earth and water elements, vātas do not have the same level of sustaining endurance that kaphas possess. Vāta types are known to keep pushing even when their gas tank reads E, further depleting themselves and requiring more R&R.

Without a heavy helping of the fire element, Vātas tend to run cold and have weak digestion. In times of stress they may lose their appetite and tend towards gas, bloating and constipation. Vātas can become untethered and spiral into a panicked thought vortex, especially at 2am. Emotionally, out of balance vāta shows up as insomnia, anxiety, irrational fears and mania. 

Pitta

Pitta folks are full of passion and drive, thanks to a good helping of the fire element. Pittas are often Type A’s that love to make lists and feel immense satisfaction as they check all the boxes. They are organized, direct, phenomenal leaders, sharp , witty and goal oriented. Wicked competitive, these are the folks that play Uno for blood.

Physically, pittas are square in the middle between vāta and kapha. Not too thin, not too muscular. They have sensitive skin that burns easily in the sun, or turns to a smattering of freckles. The sense organ that dominates pitta is sight. Fire folks are hyper sensitive to light, and can be spotted sporting a pair of Ray Bans while grocery shopping. They require black out curtains to sleep and an eye mask! 

With their radiant fiery minds, pittas are dedicated scholars and want to know how everything works. They are opinionated and love parlaying in intellectual debates. In fact, their minds are so robust that the fire goes to their head and often renders their hair thin, prematurely grey, or bald, and even their eyesight can be hindered (eyes are a fire organ according to Ayurvedic A&P). 

Pittas LOVE to be right and can have a hard time admitting defeat, or saying “I’m sorry”. They are not going to wax poetic or constantly tell you how much they love you – those words of affirmation would more likely come from a vāta or kapha type, respectively. Pitta’s love language is through action and protecting the fox hole. 

 When the fire gets too high, pitta can spread like a brushfire. They are quick to anger and will smolder until they decide they are done being angry, which can take some time.  They can become extremely impatient, snarky, acerbic, dictatorial and thus, prone to acid reflux and inflammation.

Kapha

Kaphas are the epitome of the love nugget.  Made up of earth and water, Kaphas are the most stable and grounded of all three doshas. They are calm and steady, rarely flustered. Steadfast, they will assuredly maintain the peace during times of chaos.

 Kaphas love to love. They are humanitarians with massive hearts. Brimming with compassion, kaphas are often the teachers, nurses or health care-providers.  

Crafted with mostly earth and water, kapha types have solid, curvy, and muscular frames. Everything about them is luscious and thick. Imagine lustrous Pantene Pro V hair, gleaming healthy white smiles with wide Disney princess eyes…ahh! 

Kaphas are all about potential energy, and live to bank energy. This can show up as excess weight, holding onto relationships that no longer serve, or hoarding nostalgic possessions. Public Service Announcement – No shame in holding onto that wardrobe from 25 years ago, so long as it brings happiness and is still being utilized. However,  if it triggers a negative emotion, toss it!

Jimmy-Bean and Curly, the needy dog

Kaphas are creatures of habit and are perfectly content with routine;  really, they were built for the quarantine life. The earth and water aspect of their constitution keeps them rooted in habits, good or bad. They will drive the same way to work every day, eat the same breakfast for years, while being punctual and predictable. 

Out of balance, Kaphas can become lethargic couch potatoes. This can lead to depression, lack of motivation, weight gain and allergies. 

Do any of these Archetypes resonate with you, or remind you of a family member? Know that it is quite common to be dual-doshic, or for some even tri-doshic. Meaning you may resonate with both vāta and pitta, or kapha and pitta. 

Before we get into ways to cope, here are 2 key concepts related to the VPK emotional profiles:

Under Stress:

Vāta = Flight

Pitta = Fight

Kapha = Freeze 

How to relate, treat:

Treat Vāta like a flower

Treat Pitta like a friend/spouse 

Treat Kapha like their cheerleader or coach

What to expect if you’re quarantined with a Vāta, Pitta or Kapha

+ Self-Soothing for VPK

Vata – The ethereal aspects of vata dosha bestows them with oodles of creativity. Their thinking, and talking, is often expansive and excessive. Vatas are yippers and may often miss words because they are so excited about what they have to say. To quell this nervous chatter, focus their attention with something calming and artistic. 

Perhaps dust off the mandala coloring books. Throw on some soothing music, or a funny movie, and they could be enraptured with doodling for hours. 

Knitting is often recommended for smokers in lieu of reaching for a cigarette, another nervous habit, I imagine it would be a great success for a twitchy vata. Arm knitting is still trending, perhaps your vāta loved one could construct an arm-knitted blanket. Double win as the heavy, warm material will help ground their nervous system. 

That being said, vātas also need to off-gas their nervous energy through movement. This could be done easily through a family dance party, going for gentle walks in nature, or following an online yoga class.

Vāta Self-Soothing:

Brunch!
  • Color
  • Knit
  • Dance party
  • Start an indoor garden
  • Restorative yoga
  • Yoga nidra
  • Japa mantra
  • Walking meditation 
  • Soothing breath practices like: Dirgha or Nadi Shodhana
  • Creative cooking – Chopped style
  • Get outside, or observe nature from your window
  • Read: cozy up on the couch with chamomile tea and a pet and/or blanket
  • Foot massage – especially at night for sound sleep
  • Warm cooked foods – helps keep you regular,  for breakfast try oatmeal with a scoop of flax and a generous sprinkle of ground cinnamon 
  • Play an instrument
  • Play catch with a family member, or the wall
  • Creative writing
  • Journal 
  • Make your own Tik Tok videos
  • Put on a family performance of your favorite play or musical
  • Have a mug of ojas milk in the afternoon
  • Beading
  • Take warm Epsom salt baths scented with lavender 
  • Take virtual tours of museums
  • Learn about your favorite artist, writers, musicians
  • Maintain faith, trust and hope

Pitta- To be honest, pitta is probably the most irate about being locked up. “But I still have the Chicago Marathon in the fall! How am I supposed to keep up with my training?!” Pittas need to move, and challenge, their bodies while staying mentally astute. Pittas like to distract themselves through work. These are the folks that are “up and at em” with the power washer at 7am.

Pitta often finds purpose through their occupation, as a result, there may be an identity crisis brewing with looming lay-offs. In addition, these fire gods/goddesses have supercharged digestion, meaning, don’t let these folks get hungry…or even worse, hangry. Keep your pitta family members well fed, and I’m not talking salad, I’m talking dense foods that will take time to burn off.

Pittas are rigid and like schedules. Create a daily schedule with your pitta child, in fact, all benefit from a consistent daily routine. Come up with jobs, goals, or projects. Have you always wanted to learn how to play the piano, or master Hozier’s masterpiece Shrike on the guitar? Now is the time to carpe diem!

Paint those cabinets, tighten all the screws in your house. You get the point…and pitta, don’t forget to be soft and embrace those around you. Tell them you love them and appreciate their existence. 

Pitta Self-Soothing:

Ayurvedic Mocktails
  • House Work
  • Neglected projects
  • Research your favorite topics
  • Learn a new skill 
  • Chess, Checkers, Scrabble – remember it’s just a game
  • Cool showers
  • Rose water spritz to the eyes
  • Moderate yoga
  • Box Breath, Nadi Shodhana or Shitali pranayama
  • Endurance based trainings – plyometrics perhaps
  • Metta meditation
  • Start a website
  • Start an Etsy page
  • Try making your own fermented foods – just don’t eat too much, they aggravate the fire
  • Practice gratitude 
  • Read inspiring works
  • Photography, graphic design
  • Draft up plans for your dream house, job, dress
  • Write- Put your brilliance to paper
  • Play Legos on the floor with your kiddos
  • Check out all the free online classes offered by Universities
  • Organize an effort to help those in need 
  • Cook – FYI America’s Test Kitchen is right up your alley 
  • LAUGH!! Watch all the comedians, shows, performances that make you chortle
  • Give until it hurts, and then give more 

Kapha- As previously mentioned, kaphas are the most suited to shelter-in-place. If you, or your spouse, are a kapha, you may be relishing the extra time home with the family. Homeschooling? No problemo, you’ve totally got this with your saint-like patience. Since you already have a deep nesting instinct, why not embrace that quality? Cozy up the house, perhaps even rearrange – your vāta pal can help you pick out new paint colors.

Kaphas express their fondness through affectionate touch and food. Spouse, friend, kid, cat, dog, or plant, doesn’t matter, go snuggle and take care of them. Get out the Crock-Pot and make a massive batch of vegan chili. Better yet, sweetness soothes anxious vātas and agitated pittas, so why not whip up a batch of your famous gooey, chocolate brownies? 

Basically, let your love light shine. Nest and give yourself permission to read and be earthy. Your grounded energy is contagious, the world could deeply benefit from more kapha right about now.  

Kapha Self-Soothing:

Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com
  • Bake 
  • Cook family style: freeze, disperse, or share a meal with your loved ones
  • Knit face masks for your vāta friends, or pitta entrepreneurs
  • Read a good novel
  • Escape into a Hallmark movie- rumor has it Hallmark is re-running their Christmas movies all month long!
  • Tend to your plants – perhaps it’s time to get a bonsai tree, those need lots of care
  • Reorganize your pantry
  • Clean out your closet! 
  • Spring cleaning all around
  • Rake the yard
  • Pilates
  • Get the blood flowing with some vigorous yoga
  • Subscribe to an online workout that lights you up
  • Dance like nobody’s watching
  • Sing, sing, sing
  • Reach out to loved ones via FaceTime, Zoom, Skype
  • Snail-mail: Write your grandchildren, nieces, nephews, children, or friends letters
  • Bhakti Yoga- Listen and sing with Krishna Das
  • Vinyasa yoga
  • Stimulating breaths like Dirgha or even Bhastrika if you want some extra juice 
  • Gratitude circle
  • Game night! Even if it’s over Skype
  • Puzzles! Kaphas have the patience for even the 1000+ piece puzzles
  • Stay in community through technology- sign up for an online meditation course, cooking course, sky’s the limit
  • Worship – Some churches, synagogues, mosques, meditation centers are now offering their services online
  • Stay seated in yourself, so others can mirror your stability 

Alas, there is your laundry list to keep your VPK self, or comrades happy during lockdown. In closing, never forget the following:

Keep good company
  1. Food, and spices, are your medicine
  2. Breath and fear cannot coexist, so breathe deep
  3. This too shall pass

Hari Om

Featured

Low Blood Pressure? Hipster D.I.Y. Electrolyte Fix

Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.
– James Joyce

Quick, out of the way, a Higi Station! What can I say?  I simply cannot resist those Higi stations. Like a puma on the prowl, I skillfully bob and weave around the innocent bystanders, plop myself down and thread my arm through the blood pressure cuff. Victory!

Ubiquitous in pharmacies and grocery stores across the nation, these health kiosks can proffer a free snapshot of your current state of health in under two minutes. Check your blood pressure (BP), pulse, weight, body fat, and body mass index all in one go. Amazing. Once Chicago based (woot woot) Higi Corp adds palm reading and genealogy to the mix, you just might find me camped out at the neighborhood Jewel.  

Fine, I’ll admit it, I’m competitive and I’m sorry for what I said during bananagrams. I dig numbers and appreciate the fact that this awe-inspiring machine stores my bp AND rewards me with higi points. Now, before you get all Big Brother conspiracy theory on me, let me tell you why storing this information is beneficial. It behooves everyone to have a general idea of what is happening in their body as it allows one to create wellness goals and track progress.

In Ayurveda and meditation, students are constantly asked to get curious, dive inside and become their own private eye. If you do not have a general idea of how you are feeling on a day to day basis, how will you know when something is off? In his collection of short stories, Dubliners, James Joyce hit the nail smack on the head when he penned- Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.” Ah yes. May I be so bold as to suggest that this is somewhat of a universal truth? How often do you find yourself living a short distance from your body?

What did I discover last Saturday when I pounced on that Higi machine? Low blood pressure. Not bragging rights, I meditate and do yoga low. Bona fide, “how am I still standing?’ low. 92/64. Eek. Yes, that helped me rake in a whole slew of higi points, 200 to be exact, but these numbers concerned me.

I think it’s safe to assume we all know the dangers of high blood pressure. Heart damage in a myriad of forms:

  • Heart attack
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Aortic dissection (don’t ask, it’s not pretty)
  • Stroke

How about the opposite side of the pendulum? What are the symptoms of  low blood pressure?

  • Dizziness, vertigo, lightheadedness (and not the fun, I just got off the Tilt O Whirl variety)
  • Feeling off kilter, unbalanced
  • Fainting
  • Hazy, blurry vision
  • Heart palpitations (the “why can I suddenly feel my heart pounding in my ears?” sensation)
  • Disorientation
  • Nausea
  • Overall feeling of weakness

This raised the question- is there a healthy way to boost one’s blood pressure? My brother kindly offered to let me babysit his karma child. While this generosity made my heart grow three sizes, I decided I needed to do some crowd sourcing and noodling on the world wide web. 

When asked, my chiropractic friend instantly said that I am dehydrated and need to boost my fluids. Side note- Chicago folks and stiff yogis, click here to check out his practice. Dr. Joel is not only a brilliant miracle worker, but also holds a holistic approach AND is kind.

Simple enough. Dehydrated, the blood is too viscous to pump swiftly through the body. While it’s tempting to just start pounding Klean Kanteen after Klean Kanteen of H20 like a champ, I recalled the whole electrolyte warning from my high school biology class.

Water. On a regular basis, drinking roughly half your body weight in ounces, per day, is a reasonable goal. Granted, lifestyle variations may require you to adjust the amount, bookworm vs ultra-marathoner. Then there’s the whole electrolyte conundrum. Regular water is precious (Gollum, TheLord of the Rings, precious), however, too much can actually deprive the blood of essential nutrients, such as electrolytes. Puzzling.

Consulting the great Guru Google yielded this

“Electrolytes are minerals in your blood and other body fluids that carry an electric charge. Electrolytes affect the amount of water in your body, the acidity of your blood (pH), your muscle function, and other important processes. You lose electrolytes when you sweat.”

More electrolytes, check. Now, I could just hit the nearest vending machine and purchase a Gatorade or Vitamin Water, but I’m frugal and a purist snob. Skip the high fructose corn syrup, which our body simply does not know how the heck to metabolize, so out of pure bafflement it just shoves it in the back of the closet (or crams it in our fat cells). Avoid the brominated vegetable oil, food coloring and artificial colors. Jet fuel green is not a color nature ever intended to be consumed, especially in times of illness. 

Let’s get all Martha Stewart (pre tax scandal Martha) and make our own electrolyte beverage. 

Here’s what to do, courtesy of the magical Dr. Vasant Lad

Grab your hippest mason jar and combine:

1 tsp Natural Cane Sugar, Coconut Sugar or Maple Syrup
1 tsp Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice 
Pinch of Salt (Pink Himalayan Salt is best, Trader Joe’s sells this dirt cheap in these handy grinders)
1 Pint of Room-Temperature Water

Give it a good shake and sip this concoction throughout the day. This trifecta of sugar, lime and salt work seamlessly to restore the electrolyte balance in your blood. Sodium is often perceived as the bad guy because salty foods, say in canned soup, are said to increase blood pressureHey, wait a minute.  Eureka! We need to boost our blood pressure so, mindfully, bring on the salt (please don’t go binge on a box of Cheez-Its, you know who you are). Sugar will give you a carbohydrate boost, hello energy. The lime adds a kick of vitamin C, goodbye scurvy. 

There you have it, nature’s cure. Adios weakness, blurry vision and vertigo.
This all being said, consult your Doc if symptoms do not get better. Passing out mid- Higi test is not only embarrassing but scary and dangerous. No bonus points for head injuries. 

Until next time, enjoy. 


Squirrel Travel Grub

Squirrel Approved

Traveling, whether you love it or hate it, one thing we can all agree upon is that it disrupt one’s daily routine. Things easily get out of whack, our rhythm skips a beat.

Rhythm is of utmost importance when taming vata dosha. Creating a daily routine is critical in maintaining harmony in the body, mind, and spirit. Rhythm in which you:

  1. Arise at the same time each morning.
  2. Eliminate like clockwork. 
  3. Consume your meals on a predictable schedule. 
  4. Get outside daily.  
  5. Hit the pillow roughly the same time each night.

You get the point. Keeping to a schedule can be very tricky when on the road. The body needs a moment to catch up after we propel ourselves across different times zones. Dr. Robert Svoboda suggests that it takes one day per time zone crossed before the body is acclimated. Until then, vata most likely is in a state of hypervigilance. What does this look like?

  • Anxiety 
  • Stress
  • Perhaps a twitching eye, or two
  • Surface level sleep – lots of wake ups to piddle or think about 2am things
  • Dry skin
  • Irritated eyes
  • Impatience
  • Unchecked emotions
  • And….constipation!

Chia seeds to the rescue. These little guys are loaded with fiber, and when soaked they become slimy – remember opposites balance (dry needs oily or slimy).

Rather than relying on airport kiosks, or Dunkin’ Donuts, I come armed with my own breakfast mix to keep the insides lubed and the bowels moving. Make a big batch if you want to ensure your fiber game is on lock while adventuring. Remember, rhythm = better R&R.

Squirrel Travel Grub

Photo by Delphine Hourlay on Pexels.com

Combine:

  • Chia seeds- 3 part
  • Hemp Seeds – 1 part
  • Large flake coconut – 1 part
  • Mix of dried berries: cranberries, blueberries, mulberries, & goji berries – 1 part
  • Cacao nibs – 1/2 part
  • Sweet Spice Mix (combo of cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cardamom) – to taste 
  • Pink Salt – pinch

Method:

Add 1/4 cup of chia mixture to 1 cup of filtered water, coconut water, even some juices are delicious – pomegranate, cherry, or cranberry.

If you’re at the airport, grab a spoon and disposable cup from the nearest Starbucks (they won’t mind). Add your chia to the cup, pour in your liquid and stir. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 20 minutes, or until the chia seeds have absorbed much of the water, or juice. If time allows, let it sit for an hour.

At homebase this can be mixed the night before, stored in a glass container and refrigerated overnight. In the morning pull the chia cereal out and allow it to come to room temperature before consuming. Fiber (and world), here we come!

May your bowel movements be ever in your favor, while traveling and beyond 🧭

Buffalo Cauliflower Wings: Your New Favorite Dinner

Looking to spice up your dinner repertoire? Buffalo Cauliflower is guaranteed to rock your taste bud’s world. 

Cauliflower has really hit its stride these past few years. The humble Brassica can be spotted mascarding as pizza crust, the base for pancake batter and now as a substitute for chicken wings. With its mild and unassuming flavor and malleable texture, cauliflower can be rendered into a whole slew of culinary delights. 

Cauliflower is a proud member of the cabbage family, along with cabbage, broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Traditionally harvested in late spring and summer, cauliflower is the perfect antidote to the inflammatory aspects of summer (nature always provides us with the antidote). The sweet, cool and astringent qualities of cauliflower can help quell the inner fires that build, be it from loads of time in the sun, or copious amounts of Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Hot Wing Sauce

With its high sulfur count, cauliflower has certainly earned itself a reputation for being a gaseous food. However, well spiced and cooked cauliflower will help temper the gas forming qualities. Being lauded as the Ayurvedic Beano, I’ve added hing, or asafoetida, for good measure. 

Serve these bad boys on a bed of arugula with a side of blue cheese dressing, or straight up sour cream. Trust me, you’re going to need the dairy to put out some mouth fires. Can’t go wrong rounding out the meal with some carrot and celery sticks. 

Batter:

1 cup chickpea flour – this will provide more protein, can sub out for brown rice flour, APF, etc.

½ tsp ground black pepper

Fun Tip: Rinse your cauliflower in salt and turmeric water to remove critters and debris.

½ tsp garlic powder or a pinch of hing/asafoetida 

¾ cup of water- enough to make a thin batter

Wing:

1 head of cauliflower, break off floretts 

Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (option to use vegan butter)
  • ½ cup of Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Hot Wing Sauce (I’m drooling just thinking about this stuff)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Cut parchment paper to fit prepared baking sheet, this is critical, otherwise all the coating will be lost to the baking sheet. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together chickpea flour, black pepper and garlic, or hing if using. Feel free to experiment with various spices. Slowly pour in the water as you continue to whisk. The batter should have the consistency of crepe batter, slightly thinner than pancake batter. Added too much water? No worries, sprinkle in more flour, this recipe is very forgiving. 
  4. Gently toss the cauliflower in the batter, hands are the best tool option here. Once fully coated, lay the cauliflower piece by piece onto the parchment paper. Allowing, for a little space between each “wing”. Bake for 20 minutes. 
  5. While the cauliflower is baking, prepare your sauce. In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, remove from heat and whisk in the hot sauce until completely homogenized. Caution, this may make your eyes burn, but it’s worth it. 
  6. After 20 minutes of baking, remove the cauliflower from the oven completely. Loosen the cauliflower gently with a metal spatula. Pour the wing sauce evenly over the baked cauliflower, and coat as evenly as humanly possible. Return to the oven and bake 10-15 more minutes, or until the wings have slightly browned.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes, and dive in. 

Summer Breakfast Crisp – GF & Vegan

Yay, warm weather has descended upon us. In New England late spring equals rhubarb. Rhubarb can be quite prolific, to the point that I have neighbors chasing me down with an armload every few weeks. When life hands you rhubarb, make strawberry rhubarb crisp!

For those unfamiliar, rhubarb is incredibly bitter and requires some sweetness to make it palatable. Rather than spiking blood sugar levels right out of the gate, I prefer to keep this breakfast crisp on the tart side. Ayurveda recommends favoring bitter, pungent and astringent flavors in the spring to balance the more dense, heavy qualities of kapha dosha. In the summer, pungency (spicy) is no longer preferred and gives way to the sweet taste to balance the inherent fiery pitta qualities. 

Strawberries are sweet and astringent with just a hint of sour. Traditionally harvested in late spring and summer, they act to purify and cool the blood. Strawberries are loaded with vitamin c, fiber, potassium and antioxidants. Anemic? Allegedly consuming 10 berries per day will help get those iron levels back up. In addition, strawberries are said to help with obesity, gout, arthritis, diabetes, constipation, hypertension, and kidney stones!

Rhubarb is bitter and pungent, providing the antidote to the damp and heavy qualities naturally abounding in springtime. This herbaceous perennial helps to balance excess pitta and kapha dosha. The short thick rhizome tonifies the colon, aids in purging bile, moves the blood, and can contribute to weight maintenance and fat loss. A gentle purgative, rhubarb aids in moving heat down and out of the body and keeps you regular. 

Breakfast is the 2nd most important meal of the day (lunch is VIP in Ayurveda), so why not crush it with a breakfast crisp? The density of the crumble paired with the cooked fruit will keep you satiated until lunch rolls around. 

Ingredients:

  • 4 rhubarb stalks – cleaned and sliced into ¼ inch pieces
  • I pound of strawberries – washed, hulled and quartered (monster strawberries cut into 6-8 pieces)
  • ¼ cup raw cane sugar (adjust to your taste preference)
  • ½ lemon – juice and zest
  • 2 Tablespoons white rice flour
  • 1 tsp of grated ginger (optional) 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Crumble Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup white rice flour (or flour of your choice)
  • ¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut 
  • ⅓ cup unrefined coconut oil – melted
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
  • ½ tsp salt 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a deep oven-safe baker, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, 2T flour, grated ginger (if using), and vanilla extract. Toss until the strawberries and rhubarb are fully coated with the sugar, lemon juice, etc. 
  3. In a medium size bowl combine all the crumble ingredients. Stir to completely integrate. The crumble should be moist but not super wet. Feel free to add more coconut oil if the mixture seems too dry. 
  4. Add the crumble to the top of the prepared strawberry/rhubarb mixture. Pack firmly in place with your hands. 
  5. Bake uncovered for 1 hour.
  6. To brown the top, broil on low for a few more minutes (watching like a hawk) until light golden brown.