Staying Healthy for the Holidays with Ayurveda

Staying Healthy for the Holidays with Ayurveda

  • Posted by Kaleigh
  • On November 20, 2017
  • Comments

Ayurveda is an ancient sister science to yoga from India. It is the science of balancing the body through foods, herbs, oil massages and daily practices to bring forth glowing health. Try some Ayurvedic recipes and other techniques in between those inevitable indulgences this coming holiday season to cleanse and stay healthy!

MORNING MOUTH ROUTINE

Ayurvedic practitioners rely on the aptly named tongue scraper to dislodge ama (undigested toxins in the body) lest it be reabsorbed while eating or drinking. Both plastic and metal tongue scrapers are sold at many health food stores, but the edge of a stainless steel spoon works also. Scrape the tongue gently, working from back to front. Use seven to 14 strokes to cover the entire area. This not only rids the tongue of ama, but also unearths the taste buds, awakening the gastric fire for another day of savoring food. Then rinse your mouth and brush your teeth.

Oil pulling: put a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth. Swish and gargle it for up to 20 minutes while you get ready for your day. When you are done, spit it in the garbage can (as it can clog your drains)! Then rinse your mouth with purified water a few times. Don't rebrush your teeth. Original practitioners of oil pulling used sunflower, coconut and sesame oils as a way to prevent bleeding gums, decay, dryness of throat, oral malodor, cracked lips and for strengthening teeth, gums and the jaw.

RECIPES

Kitchari

Kitchari means mixture of a grain and a legume. This recipe is one that is particularly nourishing and easy to digest. Kitchari (pronounced kich-uh-ree) is the traditional cleansing food of Ayurveda.

INGREDIENTS

« 1/2 cup basmati rice
« 1 cup mung dal (split yellow)
« 6 cups (approx.) water
« 1/2 to 1 inch ginger root, chopped or grated
« A bit of mineral salt (1/4 tsp. or so)
« 2 tsp. ghee
« 1/2 tsp. coriander powder
« 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
« 1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
« 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
« 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
« 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
« Handful of fresh cilantro leaves
« 1 and 1/2 cups assorted vegetables such as zucchini, asparagus, sweet potato (optional)

PREPARATION

Carefully pick over rice and dal to remove any stones. Wash each separately in at least 2 changes of water. Add the 6 cups of water to the rice and dal and cook covered until it becomes soft, which is about 20 minutes. While that is cooking, prepare any vegetables you'd like to add. Cut them into small pieces. Add the vegetables to the cooked rice and dal mixture and cook 10 minutes longer. In a separate saucepan, sauté the seeds in the ghee until they pop. Then add the other spices. Stir together to release the flavors. Stir the sautéed spices into the cooked dal, rice, and vegetable mixture. Add the mineral salt and chopped fresh cilantro and serve.

Baked Delicata Squash

Baked Delicata Squash

This lovely winter squash is conveniently found this time of year. Look for the enticing green and gold striations that flank its ridges. The raw vegetable makes a beautiful addition to a centerpiece based on a fall theme. Serves 4 as a side dish.

INGREDIENTS

« 2 large delicata squash, eight to ten inches in length, split lengthwise and seeds and pulp removed with a spoon
« ¼ cup ghee with 1 teaspoon garlic + 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
« ¼ cup golden raisins
« Salt
« Dark brown sugar

PREPERATION

Preheat oven to 425° F. In a rectangular casserole dish, bake the prepared squash, covered, cut side down in ¼ inch of water for 30-35 minutes or until tender. Insert a sharp knife into the back of one of the halves to check for tenderness. Leave covered while preparing the sauce. In a small saucepan, add the ghee with garlic and rosemary and bring to a high heat. Add the golden raisins and salt to taste. Stir the ingredients together well until the aroma of spices is released, for about one minute. Remove from the stove and lay the squash halves upright so that the cavity is exposed on each half. With a teaspoon, divide the sauce equally between the squash and lightly blend. Then take several pinches of brown sugar and sprinkle over the top. Serve immediately, while hot. Enjoy!

ABHYANGA: THE AYURVEDIC DAILY MASSAGE

This warm oil massage prepares the body for peak performance. Accumulated stress and toxins in the mind and body dissolve. A daily full-body warm oil massage acts as a powerful recharger for mind and body. This is especially nice before exercise or yoga practice—you may find that your body feels more open through the muscles and joints during exercise.

Benefits:

« Increased circulation, especially to nerve endings
« Toning of the muscles and the whole physiology
« Calming for the nerves
« Lubrication of the joints
« Increased mental alertness
« Improved elimination of impurities from the body
« Softer, smoother skin
« Increased levels of stamina through the day
« Better, deeper sleep at night

Abhyanga provides the means for transdermal absorption of the healing qualities of the material used in the massage, and it helps the skin, which is the largest organ in the body, perform its diverse functions efficiently, whether it is allowing toxins to be released from the body or nourishment to be absorbed by the tissues. It is like oiling the engine of your car—if you do it regularly, your engine will be in peak condition, and give you years and years of trouble-free performance.

The ayurvedic massage is traditionally performed in the morning, before your bath or shower, to facilitate the release of toxins that may have accumulated during the previous night. You can use cold pressed organic sesame oil, an herbalized massage oil, or an aroma massage oil. These can be found at any health food store.

Sesame oil contains antioxidant properties, and is helpful in protecting the skin from free radical damage. It is considered highly nourishing for the physiology. To "cure" or purify the sesame oil, heat the oil to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat once this temperature is reached, cool and store for use as needed. Up to a quart of oil can be cured at a time. Use low heat, and don't leave the oil on heat unattended.

So how is the Ayurvedic abhyanga done? Use comfortably warm massage oil. Warm it by putting your container in a sink full of hot water for a few minutes. Dip your fingertips into the warm oil and apply it lightly to the entire body. Wait for 4-5 minutes to let some of the oil be absorbed by your skin. Then massage the entire body, applying even pressure with the whole hand—palm and fingers.

Apply light pressure on sensitive areas such as the abdomen or the heart. Use more oil and spend more time where nerve endings are concentrated, such as the soles of the feet, palms of the hands and along the base of the fingernails. Circular motions over rounded areas such as your head or joints, and straight strokes on straight areas such as your arms and legs, work best.

After you're done, relax for 10-15 minutes, letting the oil and the massage do their magic. The longer the oil is on, the deeper it penetrates. During this time you can read something relaxing or uplifting and rest; or shave, cut nails, and get ready for the day. Follow with a relaxing warm bath or shower. If your schedule doesn't allow for a daily massage, try to squeeze it in at least three or four times a week.

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Did you know that our special guest teacher for our Yoga Teacher Training, Maria Radloff is an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner? We are very excited for her to teach us more about Ayurveda during our training! Learn more about Maria and our Yoga Teacher Training program starting in January!

BY SARAH JANE 
YOGA DIRECTOR AT THE FRONT CLIMBING CLUB