January, 12th 2016
My new book on Ayurveda At Home – to be published soon
This new book is a combination of my first two books, but not only. It also speaks about seasonal food, about the famous super foods and gives a detailed 9-day Detox treatment to do at home. Practical advice how to live the “Ayurvedic style” at home and how to eat according to your Dosha. Initially, the book will be available only in German from Schirner Verlag.
June, 17th 2014
A Small Introduction To The Teachings Of Ayurveda
Below I give a quick introduction to Ayurveda in general. At the end of this introduction you will find the various blog posts, which are being updated regularly. You will always find the most recent one at the top; scroll down to read earlier posts.
“If You Can Not Be King Be A Healer. ” ( Ceylonese Proverb)
My latest book, which teaches you how to integrate Ayurvedic lifestyle into your everyday life, is selling quite well. So far I have to admit though it is available only in German (please contact me directly if you wish to buy it). While I am working on the third one and am diving deeply into Ayurveda again, I thought, I might give a small introduction to Ayurveda in general on this page before I take you deeper into more detailed facts.
So please read on and learn about the basics of the fascinating doctrine of the ancient Ayurveda healing and lifestyle system…..
What is Ayurveda anyway?
Ayurveda is a general philosophy of life and a teaching about the healing of disease , but above all, their prevention and thus avoidance ( Health = absence of disease ) . Directly translated the Sanskrit word means ” The science of long life ” . Ayurveda originated over 5000 years ago by contemplation in India and is thus considered to be the oldest healing science in the world . Already in the 6th Century gave this natural philosophy found its way to Sri Lanka. At the time, the kings were still doctors. On the island , there are 1460 medicinal plants , 70 of which are endemic.
How does Ayurveda work ?
In contrast to our Western medicine in Ayurveda body, mind and soul form a unit , man is viewed holistically . Balance is created by living in harmony with the laws of nature . We are an inherent universe and our physical and mental balance is determined by:
• Relaxation and meditation
• Yoga and breathing exercises
• holistic diagnosis
• Medicinal Herbs and Ayurvedic medicine as well as
• cleaning and rejuvenation measures
We consist – as well as nature – from the elements earth, water, fire , air and ether ( space ) . In Ayurveda, these elements are summarized as the so-called
Each two of them combine to form a bio energy. Every person contains all the doshas , most of us are, however, determined by two doshas. More rarely occurs that someone is determined by only one or by Tridosha (all three doshas) . Each dosha also is associated with certain positive and negative characteristics .
KAPHA : Earth and water are responsible for the structure and stability of our body , as well for his defense force . Kapha is the principle of inertia.
PITTA: Fire and water unite in the metabolic principle. Pitta regulates all biochemical changes, such as digestion or body temperature. In a figurative sense, it is also responsible for managing emotional influences and impressions.
VATA : Air and ether form the principle of movement . Vata controls all the mental and physiological activities in the body, especially the respiratory system and our neurological functions.
Every human being is made up of an individual combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics that create his special constitution. The preservation of our personal constitution and a good digestive fire rule on health or disease.
Why should I undergo Ayurvedic treatments regularly?
An Ayurvedic cleansing ( Panchakarma ) releases from waste products and toxins, levels out the doshas , strengthens the immune system and gives us balance. Ayurvedic treatments are serve healthy persons as a cleansing and relaxation cure to maintain health . The energies obtained from the cure remain usually depending on lifestyle for approximately 6-9 months. For ailing persons Ayurveda brings cure or stabilization.
In order to obtain the success of the treatment and possibly to prolong it there are easy-to -follow, useful tips for your home. These can be found for example in my book “Ayurveda at home ” (published in Sri Lanka , available at Lanka Princess Hotel or directly from the author, German ). These instructions are clearly described and easy to understand.
I recommend a minimum of 12 – day treatment that can treat among other ” common” diseases or conditions such as the following with great success:
• Nervousness and insomnia
• Headaches and migraines
• Eczema and other skin diseases
• Heart and circulatory problems
• Sinus infections (sinusitis)
• Stress and burn- out syndrome
• Stomach and intestinal diseases
• Over – or underweight
• Tinnitus (sudden hearing loss)
• menstrual and menopausal complaints
• Back pain
But also far more serious diseases can be relieved, improved or even be healed with Ayurvedic treatments. Drugs can be reduced or eliminated. Ayurveda has gained an excellent reputation of good results in the treatment of cancer patients.
Professor Ranaweera, Director of the Ayurvedic Research Institute in Maharagama, Sri Lanka, states: “We are particularly pleased with our treatment of type 2 diabetes, people who took Western medicines without success, here in Sri Lanka with only four different herbs got their diabetes under control.”
Ayurveda, the science of life is beneficial for every type of person in any state. And the recovery and relaxation effect when you find yourself after your treatments in a bathrobe on the balcony of your hotel room in the shade, maybe even watching big drops of tropical rain fall on fresh green grounds is simply unbeatable.
November, 21st, 2014
How Do The Six Tastes Affect Our Dosha?
In my previous post I wrote about AHARA, the proper diet from an Ayurvedic point of view, mentioning amongst those components, which make a diet balanced also the six tastes.
It is not only the food itself, which influences our Dosha, but tastes do cause specific Doshas either to increase or decrease.
The “stupid” thing about our body constitution is that we follow the principle “like attracts like”. What does that mean? A person with a predominant Pitta will have the tendency to accumulate more Pitta and thus increase Pitta. We tend to like what is not good for us. Many Pitta types like spicy food – which increases the Pitta-typic heat in the body even more. A Vata type will always love activities that include wind like motorcycling, parachuting or even just walking on windy beaches. Wind increases Vata. The latter just to clarify that it is not only the food, which influences our Doshas, but it is our overall lifestyle. Kapha will love to drink milk – milk increases Kapha.
Foods that decrease a dosha are said to pacify that dosha, and foods that increase it aggravate it.
Which tastes pacify which Dosha?
VATA: sweet, sour, salty
PITTA: sweet, pungent, bitter
KAPHA: pungent, bitter, astringent
The nervous VATA constitution needs mainly calming food as they tend to be hyperactive and anxious. Vata needs oily, heavy, cooked food – we are always talking healthy oil here – even dairy and sweets are pacifying the Vata type. Very hot, spicy food is not very helpful. You can use more salt than the other Doshas when cooking, sweet and sour veggies are excellent choices. Steamed vegetables rather than raw ones, drizzle them with a bit of clarified butter or extravirgin oil or stir-fry them. Heavy fruits like avocado and mango help to reduce Vata.
The fiery PITTA has to consume cooling food and spices. No hot and spicy food, he digests cool food very well, raw veggies and salads are an excellent choice. Remember though: ice cold – be it food or drink – inhibits digestion in any Dosha. Use fats, oils and salt sparingly. Sweet and completely matured fruits are very good to pacify Pitta, a moderate consumption of dairy products is allowed. There are herbs like mint for example, which have cooling effects, also coconut is very good for the “hot” Pitta constitution.
The by nature cool and sluggish KAPHA Dosha needs to be warmed and set in motion, i.e. stimulated. They should avoid fatty and oily food altogether and prefer light, dry and warm food. Consume only very little sweets, probably in the form of honey, but only raw. Fruits should be light and dry such as apples or berries. Dairy should be avoided, if at all milk with a low fat content such as rice milk or nonfat milk. Kapha should be very cautious with salt, but can eat all spices and herbs. Pulses (apart from soybean) are an excellent.
More detailed information regarding spices and herbs for the various Doshas you can find in my new book. Available soon.
November, 8th, 2014
A balanced diet according to Ayurveda (Ahara)
Last night during my presentation about „Ayurveda at home“ the audience went wild with questions like „can I eat this“, „can I drink that“, „can I eat all the pears that come down my pear tree in autumn, would that be healthy“ and so on. So let me ask you a question: do you ever pay attention to what your body tells you after you have eaten? Does it alarm you in a way when you feel bloated or have to burp or just feel in any way uneasy after eating? Why do we reach for a third helping when we are already full? Why do we feel like eating 500g of ice-cream in the late evening? Basically: how do I obtain a balanced fulfilling diet according to Ayurvedic principles?
The answer according to Ayurveda is: when we are balanced, we only desire food, which is good for us. If our body & mind are out of equilibrium, we loose connection to our inner intelligence and start craving unhealthy things.
In the Ayurvedic healing texts, AHARA (= proper diet) is the essence, the beginning, where health and happiness start. There is no “one diet fits all”, no, we have to learn to know our bodies (i.e. our Doshas) and re-learn to listen to them.
What you put on your plate and finally into your metabolic system has to be balanced in:
- Taste: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent.
- Colour: try to assemble as many colours as possible on your plate. Eat the rainbow!
- Consistency: have some chewier food, some soft food, s.th. with more fiber etc.
- Temperature: generally, Ayurveda advises to eat warm food rather than cold. But sometimes we just crave a salad or we love our raw food. The important thing is to combine warm and cold (e.g. have a warming soup before your salad) and to make the cold food more digestible by adding warming components and spices
By following these instructions, we will be completely nourished and satisfied. Forget one thing, have just fast food – and we will crave sweets as we have eaten only salty and sour tastes. Try it! Add two small pieces of pumpkin or sweet potatoe to your salty, pungent dinner and you will notice that you don’t crave that box of ice cream afterwards.
The six tastes also affect the doshas. I will write about that in a separate post. For today I would like to present you with a recipe for a balanced plate.
BALANCE PLATE INDIAN STYLE
- Wild rice with black sesame
- Dhal of yellow lentils
- Cauliflower Raita
- A Chutney of your preference (for example apple or mango mixed with rhubarb and alges, homemade or bought in the Organic Store)
- Asian pressed root vegetables
- Ginger pickles
If you go through this meal list, you will find all kinds of tastes, colours and temperatures in these dishes. The Asian method of pressing vegetables is a fantastic, super healthy way of eating your raw food (remember Sauerkraut? Good for your stomach and your whole well-being) as are Ginger pickles, which bring that pungent, yet sweet taste to your plate.
Here comes a link to the best recipe I found for Asian pressed vegetables of which I always keep a big container in my fridge. The easiest way of adding that healthy raw food to whichever meal you are preparing….
October, 28th 2014
Yesterday – as it is my habit – I posted a photo and the recipe of my breakfast, a healthy smoothie, on my Facebook page. Today’s post is a reaction to a friend’s immediate reaction, which went something like “Send me recipes! I want to know everything about smoothies and Ayurveda!”.
I thought, okay…. 🙂 Why not combine both and post about smoothies inside the Ayurvedic concept?
Yes, there is such a thing as an “Ayurvedic Smoothie”. Those of you, who know a bit about Ayurveda might raise their hands now and say “Halt! Cold, raw vegetables, cold and raw fruits, superfood packed juices – a burden for our digestive system…?!” And I answer: “You are right. But…” There is always a but, isn’t there?
It is like with a simple salad: Ayurveda does prefer cooked food as it is easier to digest. But it is not forbidden to eat raw food. The important thing is that we have to learn to understand, how our digestion works and especially how your own body in particular reacts and digests. Of course, if at 8 AM in the morning when your digestion is not exactly at its best and you’re maybe even a VATA person, who has a weaker digestion by nature, you drown a smoothie packed with green raw veggies and fruits and the whole thing freshly out of the fridge – that is as digestible as eating an ice-cold block of Gouda cheese and you will feel bloated, have gas and feel dry and cold!
In my books I explain in detail the Doshas and their digestive abilities. Pay respect to your body, listen and don’t feed it things that it cannot digest just because they are “trendy”.
To give some simple hints about how to make your smoothie more digestible and Ayurveda-friendly without regarding the single Doshas at this point, I recommend:
1. Let your veggies and fruit warm up a bit before blending them! Take them out of the fridge well in advance and do not add ice or cold water. All drinks in Ayurveda are supposed to have at least room temperature. You might even want to warm up the water or whatever liquid ingredient you use slightly.
2. In order to not deplete our very important OJAS (fat tissues) we have to nurture them. So add some high quality fat to your smoothie, for example Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.
3. Add some warming spices like lemon, ginger, cayenne pepper, cinnamon or others. They will aid in digesting your valuable drink.
4. Learn to know your own digestive system! In general as I mentioned above, our digestive fire starts firing up after 10 AM (yes, no matter where in the world you are….) and burns vigorously until 2 PM. So late morning when anyway you have burned your breakfast working or exercising and you feel that little gnawing in your stomach saying “Feeeed me!” – now that is the right time to have your green & fruity smoothie! As smoothies, which contain vegetables, do not oxidate, you can very well prepare them at home in the morning and take them with you wherever you go.
Now I have talked enough! Following I present you with one of my favorite recipes, the
“Favorite Green Shake”
3 cups of spinach, 1 cup fresh or frozen fruits (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, Mango, Papaya…whatever you prefer), lime juice to your likings, 1 tbsp of high quality organic oil, 1 tbsp Maca powder, 1 tbsp spirulina or wheatgrass powder, 1 cup almond or soy milk, 2 dates for sweeting, some Goji berries if you like them
Combine all ingredients in the blender until they reach a creamy, drinkable consistency.
July, 4th 2014
which I mentioned in my earlier post on WHAT’S NEW – is the purest Ayurvedic detox food. It is comfort food. It is fantastic for breakfast, gives you energy, nourishes you intensely and keeps your mind clear. Kitchari is a food you can eat at any time when you don’t know what to eat, but you know you have to eat. When you’re not cleansing you can add steamed vegetables of any kind or white meat.
It is easy to prepare, it will be healing when you’re sick, when your body needs a break.
What is so healthy about Kitchari?
First of all: why white rice? Because its hull has been removed and it is much easier to digest. Kitchari is there to cleanse your body, not to burden it with valuable wholegrain fibre. The rice and the split yellow mung beans (the only Vata balancing legumes) have to be cooked together, they provide the ten essential amino acids. The dish will keep your blood sugar levels balanced for a long time.
- 1 cup split yellow mung dahl beans*
- ¼ – ½ cup long grain white or white basmati rice
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger root
- 1 tsp each: black mustard seeds, cumin, turmeric powder, asfoetida
- ½ tsp each: coriander powder, fennel and fenugreek seeds
- 3 cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- 7-10 cup water
- ½ tsp coarse sea salt
- 1 small handful chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Can add steamed vegetables or lean meat when not cleansing, or for extra blood sugar support during a cleanse
- Wash split yellow mung beans and rice together until water runs clear.
- In a pre-heated large pot, dry roast all the spices (except the bay leaves) on medium heat for a few minutes. This dry-roasting will enhance the flavor.
- Add dahl and rice and stir, coating the rice and beans with the spices.
- Add water and bay leaves and bring to a boil.
- Boil for 10 minutes.
- Turn heat to low, cover pot and continue to cook until dahl and rice become soft (about 30-40 minutes).
- The cilantro leaves can be added just before serving.
- Add salt to taste.
For weak digestion, gas or bloating: Before starting to prepare the kitchari, first par-boil the split mung dahl (cover with water and bring to boil), drain, and rinse. Repeat 2-3 times. OR, soak beans overnight and then drain. Cook as directed.
June, 18th 2014
Migraines and Ayurveda
You probably have read my latest post on the “What’s new” page, which explains the connection between migraine and nutrition. If you haven’t, do it! 🙂 It completes this article, which explains how the Ayurvedic science sees migraine.
As with all conditions, opposite to our Western medicine Ayurveda treats illnesses with a combination of healing approaches and therefore is especially successful when it comes to chronic deseases, which come with a psychological component.
How does Ayurveda explain the cause for migraine?
As with any condition only a doctor’s detailed examination can clarify the individual conditions, which lead to your suffering. Migraine usually originates through elevated Vata and Pitta.
In our times, which are very Vata-driven and Vata-increasing it is to no surprise that so many of us suffer from migraine. Vata is the dominant cause when it comes to the throbbing pain in your head, especially if someone already has a Vata Prakruthi, which very simplified shows itself through physical and psychologic symptoms such as anxiety, nervousness, digestion problems.
The other option is an inflated Pitta. This migraine comes with a lot of head in the head. A Pitta Prakruthi brings along high blood pressure, sensitive skin and emotional conditions, which might easily lead to burn-out.
In both cases the disturbance of Kapha manifests itself in the typical nausea and vomiting and the sensation of feeling heavy and not being able to move.
As mentioned in my article under the “What’s new” tab, modern medicine has so far not been able to completely explain the causes of migraine. Looking at what the Doshas do in the body at that moment when the hammer in your head starts to work, it comes back to the same motives: high stress factors, traumata, tensions, subconscious aggressions and of course malnutrition (dry and sour food). All of this creates too much tension in the blood vessels and thus their expansion and the release of inflaming substances.
An Ayurvedic doctor will perform a profound analysis and determine, which Dosha is dominantly disturbed. From there, he generates the respective combination of treatment for each individual person. Same as I mentioned in my other article that everyone is different, each body constitution is different, and so different healing approaches have to be exerted. There is no same treatment for any 2 persons. That is why we can all go to the Western pharmacy with our migraines and the medicine will calm down the pain. But it will never eliminate the root of our condition.
Generally speaking it is very important to regard both the psyche AND the digestion and treat both of them.
According to the individual analysis a combination of the following treatments might be applied:
- it starts with Vasti (excretion of toxins), your body will be prepared by various oleations
- enemas (herbs and/or oil) will be applied various times
- Body massages with special oil, foot massages, ShiroDhara will be applied
- an essential treatment for migraine is the Nasya (nasal treatment with Ghee or special oil)
- further of course you will be prescribed herbal medicines, herbal teas and other inner treatments and the healing ayurvedic diet.
It will be vital to imply Vata and Pitta lowering properties over a longer course of time in order to stabilize those Doshas.
There are some basic foods, which help in stabilization: wheat, rice, MungDhal, honey, almonds, zucchini, fennel, grapes, fresh ginger, cloves, anis and milk (milk is a full food in itself! Always drink it warm and by itself, not together with meals). Your meals should be prepared with Ghee (Vata stabilizing)
Please avoid any acid increasing food like too many pulses, many kinds of fruit, tomatoes, hot spices, cheese, alcohol, fast food, food additives, eggs, coffee etc. Please also see my earlier post on “Alkalizing nutrition” (see tab: “Earlier articles”).
Regular mild exercise, which calms you down, but brings sufficient oxygen to your cells, should be done regularly. Yoga is fantastic for stress reduction, long brisk walks and Pilates exercises can be very helpful.
In the end we come back to the wholesome, balanced diet, which I prescribed in my other article under “What’s new”.