As a yoga practioner and teacher with a business based on health and wellness, you would think I’d have my personal wellness plan figured out all the time. But I’m human, and I often fall into the trap of wanting to achieve more, work harder, do more, etc. And in my mind, I think that if I eat all the “right things” and do the “right practices”, that that’s enough. But the one thing I was not allowing myself to do was to actually receive the benefits of the foods and practices through rest. In our culture, most of us don’t know how to slow down because we are addicted to the busy cycle of always doing and not enough of just being.
The body will often send signals that it’s time for us to slow down and that no "super-food" or supplement can remedy deep fatigue. Just like you, I need to give myself permission to rest, and to rest deeply without the guilt that I should be “doing” something else. But slowing down when you’re in a cycle of always moving can be hard to do. That’s when I turn to a practice Yoga Nidra, a guided meditation that is essential for a culture that needs structure in order to feel at ease in slowing down. I usually start with 10 minutes, and opt for 30 days I schedule in this structured time to rest deeply. After a month of this, I slowly began to heal my adrenal fatigue and find a more balanced, sustained flow of energy. It’s an essential practice that I often do. Yoga Nidra is done with full consciousness and allows us to access layers of our subconscious mind with clarity and mindfulness. This allows for the release of negative thought patterns in the mind to unravel and dissolve.
So what IS Yoga Nidra?
Nidra means sleep in Sanskrit. When following this meditation, it takes you past the dreaming stage and into a state of conscious deep sleep, where the brain waves function in theta state and healing of the nervous system, heart and mind take place. Because Yoga Nidra activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System, it also has profound effects on supporting digestion and countering stress-induced insomnia. Through consciously relaxing the effort of body and mind, we learn to address stress in our waking states with more ease and direct the flow of energy more intentionally. On a deeper level, we use Sankalpa Shakti in this meditation to process and transform karma in our lives and manifest our deepest desires.
A regular practice can last anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour. It’s even said that one hour of Yoga Nidra is the equivalent of a full night’s sleep! The best time to practice this meditation is in the afternoon between lunch and dinner; although anytime you can set aside for this practice the benefits will be well received. So, what are you waiting for? Give Yoga Nidra a try and reap the wonderful benefits. Check out this awesome Yoga Nidra - Meditation & Guided Relaxation . It is a complete 16 minute training script that can help you relax deeply and touch a place of deep stillness, peace and insight within.
The word, Ayurveda, translates to “the science of life”. It is a holistic science over 5,000 years old that contains a profound body of knowledge used to understand ourselves within the laws of nature. It is considered to be the sister science of Yoga.
According to Ayurveda, each individual and all of nature is made up of a certain combination of the five fundamental elements: Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. These elements uniquely design each one of us, creating a distinct blueprint known as our Dosha. Knowing your Dosha will help you determine lifestyle choices and the nutritional needs that will benefit you most on the quest to create optimal wellness and beauty. There are 3 main Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. You can take a simple quiz or consult an ayurvedic practitioner to understand and know your Dosha.
How Ayurveda Can Help You Stay Healthy this Fall:
As much as we all enjoy summer, being out with family and friends, enjoying barbecues, summer parties and other outside activities, Fall has moved in bringing with it the promise of cooler temperatures. Its rhythms remind us that it’s time to turn inside, ruminate and nourish that inner light. When we can line up to naturally occurring rhythms, we’re less likely to get sick and develop disease.
Here are 5 simple and effective practices that can help you become in sync with the rhythm of Fall:
1. Drink warm water with lemon first thing in the morning. The acidic qualities of lemon encourage regularity, which is crucial in keeping your digestive track free of toxic build-up. Ayurveda likes to keep things moving through the channels of the body. Lemons also hold vitamins and minerals that help release toxins in the digestive tract. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon into a cup of warm water.
2. Scrape your tongue. If you’ve never taken a peek at your tongue in the morning, check it out! Ayurveda teaches us that we can learn a lot about what’s going on in our bodies by simply noticing the characteristics of our tongue. In fact, it can inform us on how we want to start our day. A body with healthy organs and a clear digestive tract will show up pink. A body with clogged organs or undigested food from the night before will show up with a layer of fuzz, film, indentations from teeth, and/ or bumps (other than your taste buds). If your tongue has any of the latter qualities, then there are toxins lingering in your body. To clear them out you can try drinking detoxifying juice, go on a cleanse, or consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for an individualized plan. But first you want to scrape off these toxins from your tongue so you don’t re-ingest them into your system. Use a tongue scraper. You can find the tongue scrapers at most health food stores or online. Stainless steel are great because they don’t rust. Scrape the tongue gently, working from back to front. It will usually take between seven and 14 strokes to get it clean and clear (be sure not to scrape it too hard as not to make your taste buds bleed!)
3. Have a green smoothie for breakfast. There a many different recipes for green smoothies available online, but Ayurveda encourages a seasonal diet and ingredients that balance out the qualities already occurring in nature. Since it’s fall, nature brings out the dry, rough, light, cold, subtle & mobile qualities of life (Vata dosha). This means for optimal health we want to steer away from foods and activities that have these same qualities (the idea is that too much of a good thing leads to sickness and disease).
4. Add more sweet, sour and salty foods into your diet. Fall (Vata season) carries with it dry, rough, light, cold, subtle & mobile qualities. This means that to maintain a balance in our system we want to steer away from foods that also hold these same qualities. One way we can achieve balance in the Fall is by eating foods that ground, moisten, nurture and warm the body. Sweet, sour and salty tastes are the ideal. Here are some examples of foods to include in your meals: fresh sweet fruits like mango, coconut, berries and peaches; fresh sour fruits like cherries, plums, green grapes, lemon and limes; sweet veggies like beets, carrots (cooked), peas
5. Give yourself an oil massage. It nourishes the skin, relaxes the nervous system, removes impurities from the plasma blood & feeds the inner tissues of the body.
In the same way that a machine needs greasing, the body loves to be oiled for sheer pleasure as well as to protect it against the environment and over time. Here’s a list of oil that are best for each Dosha:
Vata: sesame oil, almond oil
Pitta: coconut oil, olive oil
Kapha: sunflower oil, grapeseed oil
Note: always use organic and cold-pressed oils when rubbing them directly onto your skin
You may also want to warm the oil slightly prior to starting:
Put 1/8 – 1/4 cup of oil in a clear plastic squeeze bottle.
Put bottle in a cup of very hot water.
Let it sit for about 5 minutes or until warm.
Make sure you have a clean towel for drying off after your shower or bath.
Use circular strokes over the joints and abdomen
Use up-and-down strokes over the limbs
When finished, leave the oil on for 15-30 minutes and follow with a hot shower or bath. The hot water opens up the pours and brings the oil into the deeper tissues of the body (lotion doesn’t nourish the deeper tissues, only the outer skin).
Add these few Ayurvedic rituals into your daily schedule to help you stay healthy throughout the Fall season. Enjoy!!
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