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Back into Balance! January 9, 2013

Filed under: Ayurveda,Recipe — rejuvenateyourprana @ 1:15 am
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Do you ever feel like over the holidays, your good habits and routines somehow get lost in the whirlwind of social events, busy schedules and overindulging? I think a lot of us can relate to this!

I found that after a couple of weeks of drinking and eating more than I’m used to and having a lot of rich foods, my digestion was feeling a bit out of whack! I was gassy, bloated and was starting to feel some familiar food cravings popping up!

So, I decided to give my digestive tract a little retreat after the holidays!

I spent just three days on a simple Kitchari diet. Kitchari (pronounced [ki-cha-ree]) is a simple East Indian recipe that is easily digested and therefore supports and rejuvenates the digestive tract. It’s a great recipe to turn to on a weekly or monthly basis or after a little over-indulging.

I cooked the Kitchari in the morning and ate it, slightly warmed, the rest of the day. I played with the basic recipe a bit and added different vegetables on different days (sweet potatoes, zucchini, beets) for variety. I drank just water and simple, herbal teas.

I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly my digestion improved, my bloating decreased and my cravings subsided! It was a great reminder of how quickly our bodies respond when we do a few good things for them! I shared my experience and Kitchadi with a few friends and they were asking for the recipe, so here it is if you’d like to give it a try! It’s from Myra Lewin’s book, Freedom in your Relationship with Food.

Kitchadi
Basic Digestive Kitchari  
1/2 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup split mung beans
3 tablespoons ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/8 tsp asafoetida (a herb that aids in digestion, found at local East Indian markets)
1 strip kombo (like seaweed – you can get it at health food stores)
6 cups water
1/2 tsp mineral salt
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger root
1 tsp turmeric (fresh or powder)
1/2 tsp cardamom
2-4 cups freshly chopped veg such as carrots, greens, squash
 
Wash rice and split mung until water is clear.  Warm 1 tbsp ghee in a pan and simmer the cumin, coriander and asafoetida until you can smell them.  Add the rice, mung beans and kombu, stir together and simmer for 1-2 minutes.  Add 4 cups of water and simmer for 45 mins.  In a small pan, heat remaining ghee and add the salt, ginger root, turmeric and cardmom.  Simmer for 1-2 minutes then add to the rice and dhal with the ramining water and veggies.  Cook for 20 minutes longer or until veggies are soft.  The consistency should be soupy.  Add more water as needed.

I’ve included this recipe and another variation for ‘coconut kitchari’ under Recipes. I’d love to know if you try them and what you think! I’d also love to know what things you do to come back to balance!

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Oh the weather outside is frightful January 19, 2012

“…but the fire is so delightful”

I can’t quite sing “let it snow, let it snow” at the top of my lungs with the same holiday zeal anymore. We were blessed with embarrassingly beautiful, mild weather in Edmonton over Christmas and the New Year – then boom! The beginning of this week saw temperatures plummet into the minus mid-thirties and forties. It’s the type of cold that makes your skin feel like it’s being pricked with thousands of tiny pins. It’s almost mind-numbing in that you are reduced to one thought and sole mission when you step outside – how to get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time possible.

Unfortunately, my old ’96 Toyota Corolla has become a casualty at the hands of winter. She’s been sitting outside the house, covered in snow and refuses to respond. I’ve tried everything to give her a boost but alas, she remains icy and cold like a scorned woman who’s angry with me for neglecting her (which I did, in a way, because I left her outside with less than a quarter tank of gas!). Luckily, my sweet little sister was generous enough to lend me her car for work. Then it’s straight home and into warm socks and sweaters for the night.

Being trapped indoors does lend itself to resourcefulness though. As much as I would love to zip out and get a warm drink, the general consensus in our house seems to be, “Who the ‘bleep-bleep’ wants to go out in this weather?!” Well, I won’t argue with that. So tonight, I decided to revisit a favourite drink of mine that I discovered last winter. It’s a green tea hot chocolate that I made by accident as I was trying to create something else. I’m sure there are other versions of this drink out there; what I like about this one is that it’s dairy free but still oh-so-creamy. I can’t help but smile after every sip.

Vegan Green Tea Hot Chocolate:

Ingredients:
– Chocolate almond milk (sweetened or unsweetened – if you are limiting your sugar intake, opt for the unsweetened version and add your own natural sweetener, such as honey or agave, as desired)
– Your favourite green tea
– Matcha green tea powder for sprinkling on top (optional)

Directions:
Bring one cup of chocolate almond milk to a low boil. Steep green tea leaves into the almond milk for several minutes until desired strength. Ladle into your favourite “I’m having a relaxing night in” mug and sprinkle Matcha green tea powder on top. Slip under your favourite blanket on the couch and enjoy.

Despite the cold weather, we are looking forward to a good turnout for our Vata Workshop this Saturday. We will be working off the winter chill in Alanna’s yoga class and fuelling our bodies afterwards with a home cooked meal made by me. In the spirit of spreading warmth, Rejuvenate Your Prana will look forward to donating a percentage of the proceeds from Saturday’s workshop to Hope Mission in Edmonton to support their efforts to provide meals and a warm bed for those in need in our city.

Thanks for stopping by and please leave us a comment. We’d love to hear from you! Namaste.

 

Vata – you say Whata? January 6, 2012

I don’t know about you, but personally, I don’t like the winter that much. It’s cold, it’s dry and it’s dark. I’d much rather be on the beach but I think the closest I’ll get to that here is a steam room at the local gym! In the winter, my skin gets dry, I’m constantly trying to warm up and I just want to soak in every bit of sunlight we get. Although most people tend to feel these symptoms in the winter months, some do more than others. Why is this?

Winter is the season in which the Vata Dosha is most dominant. So, what is Vata you ask? Well, let’s back up and start with Ayurveda, the ancient East-Indian science of health, literally meaning “complete knowledge for a long life”. Sounds like a pretty good thing to me! According to Ayurveda, there are three main energies or doshas: Vata (Air-Space), Pitta (Fire-Water), and Kapha (Water-Earth). Each of these doshas can dominate our particular body-mind type, the time of day and even the time of year! In the Fall to mid-winter, the Vata dosha dominates because of its characteristics: cold, moving, quick, dry and rough.
Some people have a lot of Vata in their constitution (or mind-body type). When they are balanced, they tend to be creative, vital and have a great sense of health and well-being. However, when out of balance, Vata types tend to be plagued by worry, insomnia, dry skin, constipation and difficulty focusing. Ughhh! Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? Well, if they do and they tend to get worse in the Fall or Winter, you may have a lot of Vata in your constitution!

Vata is sometimes referred to as the ‘king of the doshas’ because it drives the workings of the other doshas. You can imagine it like a fan that feeds the balance or imbalance of the other doshas. It’s responsible for all the movement in our bodies and without it the other doshas cannot move. In Ayurvedic medicine, like increases like and opposites increase balance. Therefore, when the cool, dry weather of fall and winter is here and Vata is strong in the environment, the Vata in our constitution has a greater chance of going out of balance. However, the great thing thing about Vata is that although it tends to go out of balance easily, it also can quickly return to balance. Like the wind, it can simply change directions! So, how do we put things back in balance after they’re thrown off course?

Bringing things back together is a matter of using opposites to create balance. To counteract cold, chilly weather, indulge in lots of warm drinks. I suggest boiling up a cup of steamy ginger tea with fresh, grated ginger, lemon and honey! Ginger, nutmeg and cardamom are spices that are good for warming the body and counteracting an imbalance in Vata. So, go ahead and make some mulled cider, it’s good for your Vata! Eating lots of warm, cooked foods including root veggies is also a good thing to include on the menu in the winter. Who doesn’t love a hearty stew when it’s cold outside?

You can also allow yourself to indulge in warm baths, showers or steam rooms. They’re great for warmth and humidity which is lacking when it is so dry! Getting lots of rest and avoiding overstimulation is also a great way to bring Vata back into balance. Spending time reading, meditating, relaxing by the fire or candle light is very calming to an over-stimulated mind (which Vatas tend to come by naturally!). To counteract dry skin, oil massage is a good idea. In Ayurveda, Abhyanga, or self massage with sesame oil or other oils is believed to be good for health in general.

So, I think that creating balance this time of year comes down to this: Follow your instincts and indulge yourself in things that you wouldn’t normally do during the rest of the year. How will you allow yourself to be ‘pampered’? What kinds of things will you do to feel good and make your Vata happy? We’d love to know!

If you’d like to find out what your dosha is, here are two helpful sites which you can take a quiz on: What’s your Dosha and Doshaquiz.

If you’d like to learn more about doshas and how to create balance and vitality through yoga and delicious culinary creations, check out our upcoming Vata Workshop on January 21st, 2012!