Maintain Your Immune System And Get Your Vital Energy Back!

In Ayurveda, there is a word, a concept that means vitality, strength, and immunity: Ojas. Think of ojas as the container that holds your abundant energy. It is the ultimate energy reserve of the body and mind.

It governs aging, immunity, radiant skin, vigor, mood, sleep, digestion, spirituality, and physical strength.

Ojas is considered the most refined by-product of digestion. While complete digestion of a meal is said to take around 24 hours, it takes a full 30 days for the body to digest food and refine it enough to manufacture this substance.

Unfortunately, during those 30 days, there are many factors that can undermine its production. Therefore, many people have depleted ojas and lack the vigor, immunity, and radiant glow they long for. If the digestive process is disturbed, the essence of the foods will not be extracted and no ojas will be made.

The more ojas we have, the more impervious we are to the negativity of others, as our own spirit has a good, strong container. Ojas gives us an overall sense of satisfaction with life.

 

Activities That Deplete Ojas:

– Stress, fear, anxiety, sorrow and grief
– Too many activities or too much physical exercise
– Overworking
– Excess use of screen (TV, Internet, computer, tablet, smartphone)
– Shock and trauma
– Lack of proper rest, late nights, and insomnia
– Excessive travel, multitasking
– Eating unwholesome foods, incompatible foods, processed and junk foods
– Excessive sexual release
– Smoking, excessive alcohol, addictions, recreational drugs
– Repressed emotions
– Fasting

Activities That Build Ojas:

– Laughing
– Being passionate about what you do
– Giving and serving others
– Spending time in Nature, with the elements
– Breathing deeply and through the nose
– Eating fresh wholesome foods in a relaxed manner
– Getting ample rest: 7-8 hours with the natural cycles (getting up early, going to bed early)
– Examples of ojas-producing foods are: milk, ghee, whole grains, organic vegetables and fresh, sweet, juicy fruits.
But increasing our level of ojas is not just a matter of building it up. It is also about not losing or wasting it.

When you are overstimulated, for example, if you spend hours on the Internet, drinking coffee, and texting friends, you lose energy through the five senses in ways you aren’t even aware of. This can leave you feeling tired, depressive or anxious.

The next time you feel depleted, think of turning your mind inward instead of reaching outward for comfort.

 

See also our blog post on how to take care of your 5 senses HERE

Posted: February 9, 2018 By: Comment: 0

Have a Retreat and Spa Day at Home!

Have you ever dreamed of taking a day for yourself to rest and reflect without any responsibility? This article offers some helpful tips for a successful retreat/spa day at home that’s free and energizing.

First, it is important to plan this day in advance so mark your calendar! If you have children, ask your spouse, or a friend/family member to take care of them. Tell your friends that you will be out of reach for the entire day.

Prepare for this day:

Clean up your home, organize, get rid of the useless.
– Prepare a ‘zen’ space, on a small piece of furniture or on the ground: candles, mandala, statues or photos of people who inspire you, incense, essential oils, meditation cushion, yoga mat…
– Create an inspiring music playlist.

The evening before:

Turn off your phone, put away your tablet and computer, turn off your home Wi-Fi signal.
– Prepare your zen space and inspirational readings (magazines, inspirational biography, healing book or personal development, coloring, pencils, sheets of paper).
– Go to bed before 10pm for a good night’s sleep.

Your day:

– Try to get up before 9am.
– Before starting your day: make a mental list of 3 things for which you are grateful (health, family, etc.) and set an intention for this day which is yours completely.
– Make sure to remain silent for the day or at least a few hours.
– Take the time to do some stretching, joint movements, yoga, meditation…
– Prepare a breakfast and practice mindful eating for all your meals. Cook in silence: be aware of flavors, colors, chew consciously and take the time to rediscover your meals as if you were tasting them for the first time.
– Fill an insulated bottle with herbal tea and enjoy it throughout the day.
Make a list of things you would like to accomplish in the next year and picture where you see yourself in 5 years. Try to establish what steps you have to take to get there.
– Have a yoga, meditation or creativity session (collage, spontaneous drawing, mandala, etc.) with relaxing music or in silence, related to the intentions you have set earlier.
– Go for a walk in a park and reconnect with nature. Become aware of your 5 senses and feed them. Nature is your best ally to recharge your batteries.
– Prepare a meal (kitchari type) for lunch and eat consciously again (Recipe here).
– After your meal, lie down on your left side for 20 minutes to digest.
– Practice a guided session of yoga nidra, a deep and powerful relaxation. (Example)
– Do something you never have time to do (which involves staying alone): singing, dancing, playing music, writing a letter to someone, forgiving …
Get ready for a spa session: facial, bath, manicure or pedicure, hair care …
– Again take the time to reflect and write down the effects of this day. Have your needs been met, are your senses regenerated?
Schedule your next retreat/spa day right away! Choose a date and write down new ideas!

Posted: November 19, 2017 By: Comment: 0

How to take care of your 5 senses

Why is it so important to take care of your senses? According to Ayurveda, the 5 senses: hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste are the organs used for perception of reality. They have a truly crucial role! They are the ones who collect information from the outside world and transmit it through our ears, eyes, nose, skin and tongue. They are therefore the bridge between our inner world and the world around us.

In Ayurveda, sensory impressions are considered crucial to health. Just as the food we eat creates our bodily tissues, our sensory impressions determine the quality of our thoughts and emotions and help us regulate our nervous system and sleep quality.

Our sense organs are sometimes overused, underused or misused, and in all these cases, our emotional, physical and spiritual health will be impaired. So how can we take care of our senses?

The Ayurvedic routine gives us magical tools to take care of them on a daily basis, to acknowledge them and to become more aware of them, which is a great start. Try theses tips for the well being of your 5 senses!

In the morning:                                                                  

  • Clean your face and the contour of your eyes with clear water
  • Clean your nose with a neti-pot and put sesame or nasya oil (one drop in each nostril)
  • Scrape your tongue and drink a large glass of warm water
  • Massage yourself with hot oil as often as possible
  • Put some sesame oil in your ears (to nourish the organ, protect from the wind and calm the nervous system)

During the day:

  • Take regular breaks and observe how you stimulate or underuse each of your senses
  • Get away from the computer regularly and do yoga of the eyes: move your eyes consciously and slowly in all directions with a calm breath
  • Vary the kind of music you listen to (rock, jazz, classical, relaxing music, nature sounds…) and alternate with periods of silence
  • Do not hesitate to explore the essential oils and odors that make you feel good: lavender, rose, jasmine, eucalyptus, lemon and their effects on you.
  • Make sure you have all kinds of taste in your meals (salty, sweet, astringent, bitter, spicy and sour)
  • Observe your words. Are they necessary, calm, fair? What is your flow and even what are the qualities of your thoughts?

To explore further:

  • Consider a day of silence (no speech, no screen, no phone)
  • Try a one-day fast or simply a mono-diet of kitchari for one to three days
  • Go on a retreat in nature to recharge your senses of hearing, smell and sight
  • Explore music therapy, aromatherapy

 

Posted: October 19, 2017 By: Comment: 0

Enjoy summer to the fullest!

Ayurveda is a true circadian medicine, which creates a link with the cycles of nature. By understanding the characteristics of the summer season and your own constitution, you can benefit from it. Generally, summer is a warmer and dryer season. There is a principle of accumulation of those qualities as the season progresses. This means that summer will reach a peak at the end of the season in August and September. It is at this point that the associated symptoms could manifest themselves:

Physically, as:

  • Seasonal allergies
  • Skin rashes
  • Inflammation
  • Heart burn
  • Fever

 

Mentally:

  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Impatience

 

To be at your best during summer and plan for the transition to fall, here is what you should take into account:

Nature gives us exactly the kind of food that we need to balance any excess heat. By eating seasonally, you will stay connected to what is good for you

Always remember to treat and balance through the opposites. During a hot season, you want to avoid what will bring more heat, think of what is more cooling and light

Your digestive fire is weaker during summer. We naturally eat lighter and less during summer, your digestive fire is less strong to avoid any overheating; so you might want reduce the heavier food that are more for the winter times: grains, beans, legumes, wheat.

 

Food during summer:

Eat ripe fruits that are ready to be eaten and don’t need a strong digestive fire to be digested: Apples, cherries, strawberries, watermelon, grapes, cranberries, cantaloupe, apricots…

Eat the veggies in season: Cucumbers, dandelion, fennel, kale, lettuce, radish, summer squashes, beet greens, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, celery

– Eat lighter grains: rice, barley

– Drink regularly throughout the day water at room temperature

Avoid fermented foods that are heating in nature (cheese, miso, yogurt, kombucha…). Choose milk, ghee instead that are more cooling

– Reduce consumption of red meat, alcohol, coffee, spicy (pungent) or sour food

 

Lifestyle during summer:

– Avoid intense physical activity under the sun in the middle of the day

– Avoid any conflicting situations

– Go to calm places in nature, near water

– Practice a calming cooling yoga (see my previous article: Yoga For Pitta)

– Breathe through your nose

 

Posted: August 29, 2017 By: Comment: 0

A splash of Ayurveda in your coffee

In Ayurveda, everything in nature is considered medicine or poison, especially food. Let’s have a close look at coffee. We can now have access to a wide range of coffee and the possibilities to consume it are numerous. It is mainly bitter and sour. Caffeine acts as a stimulant of the digestive and nervous systems. However, its long-term effects in too much quantity can also lead to a form of addiction in addition to overstimulating the adrenal glands that may deplete the body’s reserves.

Here are some tips to take into consideration for your coffee consumption:

  • Try to consume organic coffee. Coffee is grown in places that use very strong pesticides and chemicals which have a detrimental effect on the body and especially the hormonal system.
  • Limit yourself to an espresso or half a cup of coffee a day. Increased consumption will dry out your system (skin, digestive system, respiratory tract), become an irritant and you may develop a sense of addiction (by the activation of dopamine).
  • Have your coffee before noon, during or after a meal. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach will irritate the mucous membranes of your digestive system. In the morning think to drink at least a glass of hot or room temperature water before you drink your coffee.
  • Add a pinch of cardamom to your coffee. This spice is known to mitigate acidity.
  • If you are sensitive to caffeine but love the taste of coffee, consider a natural water process organic decaf
  • If you are feeling anxious, dehydrated, or have difficulty sleeping, try chamomile, tulsi tea or your favorite cereal coffee substitute. 

 

Posted: May 3, 2017 By: Comment: 1

Hot medicinal beverages during winter

What’s best than a comforting hot beverage when it’s cold outside?  What if, this drink was also medicinal and healing??

Here are 2 examples

      Medicinal hot cocoa

This cocoa is made medicinal with the addition of ashwagandha, sometimes known as ‘indian’ ginseng.  Use of this herb (powder here) keeps the body strong (ashwin means horse).  The addition of ashwagandha to hot cocoa makes it thicker, malty tasting and really good for you!  If you don’t have ashwagandha, you can still make this hot cocoa.  Due to its heating energy, ashwagandha is generally recommended for use in cold weather .

Serve 2:

  • 2 cups of oat, almond or cow’s milk
  • 1 tbsp of mapple syrup
  • ¼ cup of cacao powder
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon powder (and/or ginger, cardamon)
  • 1 tsp of aswagandha

Begin to warm the milk in a medium saucepan on medium heat.  Add the mapple syrup and the cacao powder.  Whisk until it begins to steam.  Take off the heat and whisk in the cinnamon (or spices) and ashwaganda.

For a smooth texture and to create a foam on top, use a hand blender and churn for 30sec, then serve with some grating fresh nutmeg. Hummmm!!

 Anti-stress rejuvenating Chai

In India, Chai is certainly the most common drink you can find in the streets.  Traditionally it’s made of black tea (assam), a lot of sugar and a mix of spices.  Here we will propose a serie of spices that have some heating and rejuvenating effects that are especially good during winter.  The black tea will be replaced by holy basil (Tulsi)

Holy basil is considered in India as one of the most spiritual and sacred herb.  Tulsi not only helps protect the body from the degenerative effects of stress, but it also repairs the body from its damage.  Tulsi is an adaptogen, which means it will naturally adapt depending on the need.  Tulsi has rejuvenating properties that can boost energy, and because it is not a stimulant, it can also be taken before bed and support deep sleep.

Serve 2 or 3

  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1/2 inch of fresh ginger sliced
  • 1/2 inch of fresh curcuma (or dry)
  • 4 black peppercorn
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tbsp of dry tulsi
  • Cow or vegetal’s milk
  • Sweetener (maple syrup or sugarcane according to taste)

Bring water to a boil, add the spices and let it simmer for 20-30 min. Take off the heat and put the tulsi in. Leave to infuse for 5 min before you fitler.

To serve, bring half of this chai preparation and half oh hot milk together. Whisk it with a hand blender to form a cappuccino like foam on top! And add some sweetener if you’d like

You can drink it at anytime of the day!

 

Posted: February 14, 2017 By: Comment: 0

Ayurvedic Travelling Tips

While travelling, do you ever feel more tired than usual? Do you suffer from insomnia, have dry skin or is your digestion not as good as usually? You may think it’s just due to being away from home, but this is not the only reason.

Ayurveda looks at travel in a really specific way. If you love travelling or have to for work, this article will give you tips to help you regain your balance as soon as possible when you are away.

The simple fact of being in movement in a car, train or plane, turns your biorhythm upside down because you are moving faster than nature can. If on top of that you add the change of habits, climate, food, and time zone you get the perfect cocktail for disrupting your systems.

Let us be clear, this does not mean you cannot travel anymore! Keeping in mind these changes and using the tips below will help alleviate your discomfort to make the most of your discoveries!

The main reason why you are having trouble is because there is too much movement during travel. Movement is regulated by the elements of air and space. Both are naturally light, dry, mobile and cold, creating in the body the symptoms of these qualities: dry digestion (constipation), dry skin, as well as mental lightness and movement (difficulty concentrating, feeling scattered). Air and space are the features of the Vata dosha. Vata is the governor of the nervous system; so make sure to take good care of it before and during your trips to avoid sleep disturbances, anxiety and dryness.

To prevent these disorders while travelling, keep in mind to:

  • Keep warm. Especially if you are travelling in places with air conditioning or draughts (have scarves, socks, long sleeves even if it’s summer outside).
  • Drink hot liquids. Bring a little thermos that you can fill with hot water wherever you go (airport, railway stations etc.). This will allow you to keep your system hydrated and warm (cold drinks reduces your digestive fire which is a key element to your health!). Avoid beverages that dehydrate like coffee, tea and alcohol.
  • Avoid eating complicated meals. Your digestive system is naturally weakened by the fact that you are in motion. By eating simple meals, it will be happier and you will be able to digest properly. Get meals with easily digestible food (not heavy, fermented or dry food) with less than 5 ingredients, cooked and hot! You can even bring your own meal on the plane, bus or train (kept in a thermos). Porridge, soup, or kitchari are good examples!

How to Prepare Kitchari

  • Eat less. If the appetite is not there, do not force yourself. Wait to get settled and acclimated to your new surroundings first.
  • Get used to you new rhythm and environment as quickly as possible. Wake up and go to bed with the sun (or as close as possible), eat again your three meals at specific times during the day, 7 am, 12 pm and 7 pm. Expose yourself to natural light to get your circadian rhythm get back to normal.massage abhyanga huile chaude
  • Self-massage with warm oil (Abhyanga) before your departure and on arrival to stay hydrated, circulate lymph and calm your nervous system. Keep your sinuses hydrated by applying a little oil in your nostrils if you are taking the plane.

Auto-massage According to Ayurveda

  • Stretch regularly. Remember to move and take breaks if you are driving, get up and walk about on the train or plane, stretch your arms up, touch your toes, grab your shoulders with opposite hands, yawn, roll your shoulders and smile!

 

Most of all, have a wonderful trip!

Posted: October 7, 2016 By: Comment: 0

10 tips to get back to your optimal energy level

In Ayurveda, we consider that even the smallest changes or adjustments can have a big impact on our health. At first glance, the links between nutrition, meal schedules, time spent on the computer, digestion and the energy level can sometimes be difficult to understand. Yet all these parameters are connected.

Here I’ll give you a partial list of what might help you regain your optimal energy level.

If you often:

• Feel tired during the day or when you wake up,
• Lack inspiration,
• Find it difficult to make decisions or implement your aspirations,
• Have thoughts that are more often negative than positive…

These are all signs that your vital energy (prana) is not flowing at its best physically and mentally.

If one of the items on this list speaks to you more than others, try to change it. If you’re the type of person to dive 110% in your activities and tend to overdo it, do not change everything at the same time. It could have the opposite effect you desire and disperse your energy even further.

On the contrary, if you find it difficult to change, select only one and put it in place gradually, every second day for example. Long term, steady changes are better than extreme but temporary.

10 tips for finding an optimal level of energy

  1. energie_astucesTry to get to bed and wake-up early (ideally before 10pm and 7am in the morning).
  2. Eat your biggest meal of the day at lunch, and try not to eat your last meal after 7:30 pm.
  3. Limit the time spent on screen, especially first thing in the morning and late at night (they are the first and last impressions of your day and will stick in your mind).
  4. Find a way to do some exercise in the morning (stretching, walking) even if it is just 5 minutes, it will make a big difference in your day.
  5. Make sure that your activities and the people around you are inspiring and help you be a better, more positive person.If you have never done it before, make a list of all the people that are part of your life and of all the activities you do in a week. Are they all necessary? Do they take more energy than they give you?

    Free some time in your schedule to do nothing. Breathe, take an inspiring walk or do what you always put aside (a creative activity, a class, etc.)

  6. Limit your sensory stimulation. In today’s world, we greatly underestimate the contribution of stimuli in our everyday life. Our five senses are rarely at rest and it affects the nervous system a lot because it is always on guard and can never truly relax.Intense sports or activities, heavy music and violent movies are commonplace. If you feel overly sensitive, tired, depressed, avoid those activities. Too often in moments when we feel down, we tend to keep busy and disperse our energy (this seems like a good solution in the short term, but it is not in the long-term).

    The lyrics of the music you listen to should be nourishing and positive (Have you ever really listened to them? They adhere to your mind and influence you!)

  7. Make sure to sip warm (or room temperature) water throughout the day (1.5 to 2 liters per day). Cold and carbonated drinks require more energy to digest than they provide.
  8. Avoid long (more than 20 minutes) naps during the day because those create more lethargy.
  9. Start a gratitude journal. List everything that makes you feel good, all the good things in your life and the things that make you realize how lucky you are (we are all in one way or an other)… It could be as simple as having a roof over your head, interesting work your are doing, your wonderful friends and having delicious vegetables for every meal! You will slowly retrain your brain to see the positive around you.
  10. Take time to prepare your food. Awaken your senses by having some color in your meals. Try to have at least 3 different tastes over the 6 in every meal and learn to recognize them (salty, sweet, bitter, astringent, pungent and acid). Put an intention, a positive emotion when cooking (or sing a mantra) and take time to taste everything and eat quietly.
Posted: August 2, 2016 By: Comment: 0

How to Prepare Kitchari

Kitchari in Ayurveda is used for different purposes. In my experience, it is mainly the simplest dish to make with only two basic ingredients: lentils and rice. The variations are endless changing the spices, vegetables, grains and type of lentils.

Kitchari is usually used as mono-diet in the time of remission, disease, fatigue, or season and climate changes, simply because it provides all the nutrients and protein you need to operate, it is very easy to digest and because it’s good!

This recipe works for the 3 doshas. You can then explore the proportions, spices, grains and lentils that suit your constitution or imbalance.

Ingredients:

• ½ cup white basmati rice (more digestible than brown)
• ½ cup of mung dal lentils splited or whole (less drying and more digestible than other lentils). Whole they are green, splited they can still be green or yellow.
• ½ teaspoon of ghee (or coconut oil)
• 1 pinch of cumin seeds
• 1 pinch of coriander seeds
• 1 pinch of fennel seeds
• 1 pinch black mustard seeds
• 1 pinch of turmeric powder
• 1 pinch of Himalayan pink salt
• 1 pinch of black pepper powder
• 4-6 cups of water (depending on the desired consistency)
• vegetables of your choice
• herbs (cilantro, parsley, etc.)

Makes: 4 servings Preparation time: 10 min. Cooking time: 20 to 30 min.

Preparation:

  1. If you have time, soak the lentils a few hours or overnight (this will make them easier to digest and to cook).
  2. Rinse the lentils and rice with fresh water.
    kitchari1
  3. Heat the oil on medium heat (ghee or coconut oil) and saute the spices in seeds (cumin, coriander, fennel and black mustard) until the mustard seeds start to pop.
    kitchari2
  4. Add lentils and rice, saute for one more minute, stirring with a spoon.
    kitchari3
  5. Add water, salt, pepper and turmeric, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. The kitchari can take the consistency you want: more soup or denser. Add more water if you wish. Make sure the lentils and rice are cooked.
    kitchari4
    When Kitchari is ready, we no longer distinguish between the rice and lentils, they are completely mixed.
    kitchari5
  6. Meanwhile, cook the steamed vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, green leafy vegetables …..)
  7. Serve the Kitchari with vegetables on top and sprinkle with coriander or parsley. It’s ready!
    kitchari6

This dish can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can also choose to eat this dish for 2 -3 days in a row changing the spices and vegetables. This will be a little ‘cleanse’ and give a break to your digestive system. Feel free also to vary the grains (quinoa, millet, amaranth) and even lentils for red lentils (note they are more drying)

Personally, when my life becomes complex or that I do not know what to cook, my answer is always: ‘Kitchari’

Bon appétit!

Posted: June 4, 2016 By: Comment: 0

Adapting to Spring

Ayurveda gives great importance to transitions and changes because they can be a source of imbalance. Like any change, the period between two seasons should be treated very carefully.

In Quebec, the transition from winter to spring can sometimes be a shock as temperatures can vary drastically. After getting into a winter routine of spending more time indoors, spring invites us to go outside. However, it is important to go slowly and pay close attention in the coming weeks to our lifestyle and dietary choices. They can contribute to a more stable health and a good mood.

Spring is the time for renewal, heat and expansion. Maybe you feel a little lethargic from the long winter, tired, with less motivation or perhaps allergies are showing up and overwhelming you.

In your diet, it’s time to put aside the very rich, heavy and sweet foods that are more nurturing. During the winter we promote root vegetables, soups and stews but for spring, we will slowly add more green leafy vegetables that are lighter and bitter by nature. Their fiber, minerals and antioxidants will help cleanse the liver, colon and lymphatic system, which can stagnate during the winter. Also, promote lighter grains such as millet, quinoa and basmati rice.

.

printemps_aliments

 

Take turmeric out of the cupboard! Sauté your vegetables in clarified butter (see recipe for ghee) with ginger and black pepper. This will raise your digestive fire.

Lie on your left side for 5 to 20 minutes after your meal to promote a good digestion and avoid feeling heavy after the meal.

Drink plenty of warm water throughout the day to help the immune and lymphatic system function well.

Keep a steady sleep routine, go to bed before 10pm and get up early (6-7am) to avoid falling into morning lethargy. Also, avoid naps during the day.

Take care of your sinuses. Seasonal allergies and the end of winter will promote congestion and colds. Do inhalations of eucalyptus and peppermint. Take out your ‘neti pot’ to rinse your nose with a saltwater solution.

In the shower, stimulate the chest area by rubbing it with a loofah sponge or a brush. This will open the airway and stimulate your bronchi.

Sing and dance! These are two recommended activities to overcome lethargy and stimulate the senses.

Think renewal. Sort, organize and prepare yourself to new opportunities!

Posted: April 8, 2016 By: Comment: 0