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ayurveda

Kaayasekam or Pizhichil

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Kaayasekam or Pizhichil

Kaayasekam

Today I had a wonderful treatment called Kaayasekam on my full body. The therapists warm some therapeutic oil and do a rhythmic pouring of this oil all over my body. The oil was mainly ‘murivena’, a very good herb for pain management and inflammation. Also used for certain cases of arthritis etc. During the treatment I felt love, warmth and grace. It was really such a luxurious and calming feeling. Apparently this treatment enhances nerve conductivity and circulation and the strengthening of joints. Slipping and sliding on the table is part of it; the feeling during the treatment was of love being poured all over my body. What an amazing feeling of warmth and security. 

This treatment, feels like it would pacify my already over active vata. After the treatment, I felt tired and somewhat drained. Being pretty active usually, I have learnt to slow down and allow the therapy to work its magic on me. Even though I really wanted to do some form of light exercise today, I opted for the passive approach of resting. Lets see if this approach pays off. Hopefully it will help to alleviate some of the stomach issues that I am having. 

Part of  rejuvenation therapy for Ayurveda, one must really figure out which dosha is accumulating, which dhatus or tissues are affected, and whether Agni is high or stagnant. This indicates health. If Agni is strong, usually disease can burn itself out or purify itself, even if dhatu Agnis are high, the metabolic waste can be purged out, BUT if it’s not, AMA, or undigested food particles accumulate in the gut, spread through the blood, and accumulate deep within the tissues. This sticky mass, can be thick and hard to eliminate. Thus Ayurveda uses thick substances, similar to that of Ama, to remove it. 


The next treatment that I am doing is Choorna Pinda Sweda, which is one of powdered bolice applied to skin via transmission of heat and just a tad of oil for enabling  herbs to transmit to the skin. The idea of the powder is known as ‘Lekana’ which pacifies and is administered before any oil therapy. ‘Lekhana means reducing, reducing tissue mass, or reduction of toxic accumulation. I guess the best way to explain this is catabolic vs anabolic. The reason behind this is because oil or anything nourishing or building can aggravate accumulation of Ama, and m are matters worse. 

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India Internship Kerela

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India Internship Kerela

So we are finally here in Kerela for the India Internship from Kerela Academy. We have learnt so much about healing and that its more than just meets the eye. In fact, the methods adopted here for healing are relatively amazing compared to anything I’ve ever experienced. Today Dr. Kartick took my pulse reading and stated so much personal stuff about me such as, do you have hair loss, skin disturbances, did your father like to drink alcohol? I was blown away at these details that I immediately took an interest in his method of pulse, which is different from any of the online courses I’ve ever taken. He proceeded to put marks on my wrists to denote the area the fingers should be to check VPK.

After this, he taught us how to take a pulse correctly and how to denote proper disease pathology in Ayurveda.

Below are actual pictures from a disease pathology, that can honestly be so simple yet so thorough.

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Detoxing the Ayurvedic Way

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Detoxing the Ayurvedic Way

words; Rachel Duffell

The ‘five actions’, or panchakarma, to naturally detox body and mind

It’s so easy for our bodies to become unbalanced due to the stress of life today. With this imbalance come food cravings, weight gain, mood swings and even depression and anxiety. While detoxification might bring to mind cabbage soup diets, raw juice cleanses, and lemon water fasting, detoxing the Ayurvedic way is a natural and relaxed experience, not only recommended to cure ailments, support digestion, rejuvenate and revitalise, but to be undertaken as a preventative measure against illness.

The aim of Ayurvedic detox, or panchakarma, is to remove toxins from the body. According to Ayurveda, these toxins, including preservatives, DDT, dioxin, pollutants, pesticides and other damaging chemicals, accumulate as ama and it is this which needs to be removed from our fat cells where it is stored and evacuated naturally from the body via the colon, bladder, sweat glands, lungs, nasal passages, etc.

Panchakarma means ‘five actions’ and is comprised of five treatments, encouraged to be undertaken at the junction of the seasons or when illness arise, and in the case of the latter, for as long as they take to heal.

Panchakarma begins with a pre-purification process, or purvakarma where the body is prepared to release its toxins. Abhyanga, or full-body massage with medicated herbal oils, comes first, where long, sweeping strokes are applied to the body to start moving any toxins towards the colon. This stage can be accompanied by shirodhara, or oil-spilling where warm, herbalised oil is poured over the forehead. Both of these procedures help to calm and relieve stress. Swedana is also part of the preparation and is a sweating session which follows massage, again aiding in loosening the toxins from the body. 

Once the body is prepared the main purification process begins and can include vamana, where congestion in the lungs is eased through therapeutic vomiting, removing excess mucus. Virechana can address excess bile in the gall bladder, liver and small intestine through therapeutic purgation. The nasal passages are also cleared with medicated drops in a nasya procedure. Finally, the colon is treated with basti, or enemas using herbal decoctions and medicated oil preparations, which soothe constipation, digestive problems and other ailments.

These treatments are complemented by gentle activities such as yoga, breathing and meditation sessions. They are also supported nutritionally by the ingesting of ghee each morning which helps to loosen ama, the undigested food particles and toxins caused by eating unhealthy foods or by weak digestion, and drive it out of the body. Meals are best comprised of kitchari, an easy to digest, simple vegetarian porridge, eaten like a soup or stew. This reboots the digestive system without being harsh to it, ensuring the body is nourished and fulfilled. Many detoxes starve the body causing it stress so it is unable to perform natural detoxification functions. But during panchakarma and on a diet of easily digestible and nourishing kitchari, the body is at its optimal state to thrive and work on rebalancing itself for a state of wellbeing and health. A cleansed and purified digestive system allows balance to be restored which will be accompanied by a clear mind and sense of wellbeing. As well as playing a key role in panchakarma, a kitchari cleanse can be carried out by itself and can be tailored to a person’s dosha for optimal results.

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Health Benefits of Jaggery

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Health Benefits of Jaggery

Jaggery is also known as 'gur' in Hindi, and is a sweet delicious brown sugary substance coming from raw sugar cane, date palm or coconut sap. The deeper coloured jaggery is from date palm whereas the sugarcane form is the most common of all. I like to use jaggery as an alternative to sugar as it is non refined and tastes delicious. a little goes a long way indefinitely. It is loaded with antioxidants and contains minerals such as zinc and selenium. It is known to lower vata and pitta dosha, but people with kapha dosha should be careful from consuming too much.

Jaggery is one of the best cleansing agents for the body, as it works on the deeper tissues to remove unwanted toxins. It is also good for the lungs, liver and stomach to prevent acidity and heartburn. Take this from someone who suffered from acidity all her life!!! Another relevant point is that is actually is good is weight loss due to its high potassium content. As its a digestive aid, a little goes a long way, and this is true with the usage. many Indians eat jaggery after a meal to aid in digestive processes. 

Lastly, for that time of the month, PMS! Jaggery is known to help combat moodiness, menstrual cramps and abdominal pain. 

So next time your thinking of a sweetener, look no further than jaggery. 

 

 

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Why I am SO OVER Quinoa, Refined Oils, Gluten Free Fads and Low Fat Crap!

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Why I am SO OVER Quinoa, Refined Oils, Gluten Free Fads and Low Fat Crap!

I was exposed to Quinoa over 9 years ago In New York, where quinoa was marketed as a high protein and amazing health grain, and above all gluten free. In fact it still is marketed like that!!! During that time I was able to introduce it into my diet with much ease. It was easy to cook, tasted good, and ‘wow’ , the amazing health benefits seemed too good to be true. Well that’s what I thought anyway. Whilst doing a total ‘western, superfoods overhaul’, I noticed my health was deteriorating in New York. I became fat, pimply, exhausted and angry all the time! On one hand I was learning about all these ‘so called’ healthy superfoods and on the other was suffering from a range of health and emotional disturbances. This didn’t quite add up. 

The more I ignored the traditional ancient wisdom I had learnt as a child,  the more I suffered. I delved deep into health and Ayurveda, and have been studying it for a good 9 years. Always learning more. Having a rich Indian heritage to fall back on I looked at traditional foods and saw that they were all-health nourishing. This is not based on journals or experiments, but on my own experience. The proof was in the pudding; my ancestors survived and flourished and I was determined to survive and flourish too. I began eating full fat oils like ghee and coconut oil. I began introducing ‘kitchari’ back into my diet (an ancient rice and lentil dish), I began incorporating pickled and fermented foods back into my diet, and guess what. I dropped all the weight and my moods were uplifted. (from eating more fatty foods.) It is so funny that now I do the opposite to what is marketed! 

Coming back to Hong Kong I’ve seen all these fads take shape, the newest ‘Gluten Free’ fad, which by no means is bad, but only really necessary if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. As an Ayurvedic Nutritional Therapist and Chef, I never put anyone on gluten free diet, unless they have celiac disease or gluten intolerance in one shape or another. The reason for this is because there are a lot of 'non-nutrient compounds', which are essential for the body that you fall short on when you avoid gluten. Yes I understand that our modern day wheat has GMO written all over it, but what about ancient grains like spelt, which can be just as delicious and organic and non modified? 

Now I’m not saying that everyone should load up on the cookies, cakes and biscuits, but what I am saying is that a preventative approach to health is far more sustainable than going with the latest health crazes of marketing. Eating foods enriched with vitamins, mineral etc. is worse than consuming the whole food as it comes from nature in its purest and most assimilable form. Taking out healthy fat and replacing it with skim or low fat versions is not how my ancestors lived, and it is not how I am going to live either. They flourished! 

In Hong Kong I see people searching for quinoa, California almonds and other superfoods which are not even indigenous to Hong Kong, China. Yes I understand that some Chinese crops are ridden with toxins and heavy metals, but at least consider the benefits of eating local or even regional. For example quinoa has been cultivated in the Andean region for over 7,000 years and was considered sacred by the Inca Empire. As the demand for quinoa continues to grow in western markets it robs the local farmers deserving consumption of their grain as they switch to more western based diets for higher profit. As the price increases for quinoa it is consumed less and less in Bolivia. Not to mention the thousands of miles it takes to reach our supermarket shelves. People, wake up, we have rice and millet!! Why do we as a culture seem to think that everything can be fixed by robbing another nations crops! Also, why do we suffer from the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ syndrome! It really upsets me when people think the grass is greener, when they have so much abundance and nutrition right at their doorstep! Eating local and seasonal can really be a preventative health approach, protect the environment and also help nations economically thrive. 

Mis-guided health advise is a form of harassment, end of. Food and health advise should be reasonable, sustainable and be based on actual experience rather than tested on lab rats! You don’t necessarily need to buy some products to make you healthy. True health is unique and can be achieved through a determination to listen to what our thriving ancestors have told us. But most importantly to what your body is telling you. 

The truth is that refined food items are highly toxic, even if they are marketed as being the most healthy food in the world. Trust me, a newer food will come along very soon. Yesterday its was Vitamin D today it is algae! Lets take Ghee for example (clarified butter). Ghee the golden liquid is so healthy and beautiful, yet at one point in time people in India were avoiding it and going for more refined clear vegetable oils or western versions of olive oils and canola. What happened? The hydrogenation of the refined oils made these oils far worse and less nourishing and our bodies have told us so. Also robbing India's natural resource of ancient wisdom. But we choose to ignore our bodies! The word refine makes people think that the item is better, but it is removing everything good in the item. 

So, after my rant I conclude that ‘Ancient Food Wisdom’ is worth preserving, and if you are lucky enough like myself to have access to the rich and abundant wisdom, delve deep and know that true health is your birthright!

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Ayurvedic Detox Rice Dish

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Ayurvedic Detox Rice Dish

Ayurvedic Detox Rice Dish 

Serves 2

 

Ingredients:

1 cup brown basmati rice, organic

1.5 tbsp ghee or canola oil

⅓ cup black mustard seeds

1 to 2 cinnamon sticks

4 cloves

salt to taste 

3 cup water (more for adding) 

 

Procedure:

Rinse rice.

In a pot dry roast rice slightly on medium high heat. (until pop corn smell emits).

Add oil to a separate pan and dry roast spices (add cinnamon stick, cloves and mustard seeds, as soon as they pop, add to rice with ghee or oil. Stir for 2 minutes than add water. Keep stirring to combine. Make sure the rice is fully cooked, this will take about 12 to 17 minutes, depending on the heat. Add salt and serve. 

* optional to add 1 cup chopped veggies at the last 5 minutes of cooking. 

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Turmeric for Inflammation

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Turmeric for Inflammation

The best spice for inflammation is turmeric. It helps ease digestive disturbances and is used fairly often in Indian cooking. Not only does it have anti inflammatory properties but it is used extensively in beauty products. Incorporating small doses into food and drink can really help the gut heal. I've seen this first hand . Especially with those suffering from digestive issues like IBS, gastritis, heartburn and pain. 

 

So the next time reach for your turmeric. 

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Sesame! Five ways sesame oil can change your life for the better. by Ally Barnard

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Sesame! Five ways sesame oil can change your life for the better. by Ally Barnard

Sesame has been around for more than 5,000 years, but it may be one of the most nutrient-rich foods still in use today! It’s capable of improving skin, hair and heart health, stimulating bone growth, reducing blood pressure and even helping to manage anxiety and depression. Talk about multi-tasking!

Here are five ways sesame oil can make you look and feel healthier, and stay that way.

Smooth, Silky Skin

Sesame oil is full of zinc, an essential mineral for increasing your skin’s elasticity and making it smooth and silky to the touch. Applied directly to the skin, it can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and age spots by creating a protecting layer that defends against UVB rays and toxins like pollution. Very handy on those hot, smoggy days in Hong Kong!

According to Ayurveda, sesame oil is also ideal for use in morning self massages or Abhyanga. This aims to remove toxins from the body, reduce physical stress, strengthen tissues and improve the appearance of skin. To do this, warm sesame oil to the temperature of tepid water and massage copious amounts firmly into your skin. Then, just chill out - don’t wash it off for 15-30 minutes! This massage is ideal for a pre-shower rub down before your morning shower, although of course you can use it any time you like!

Healthy, Happy Hair

Many of us damage our hair every day without even thinking about it, whether through the use of soaps, shampoos, hair colouring, rollers or straighteners. Sesame oil can help return your hair to its natural, healthy state and can even darken hair colour and stop hair loss. Just as with your skin, sesame oil deep conditions the scalp and improves the quality of hair follicles.

Frazzled, frizzy hair? No problem - apply warm sesame oil to the scalp as part of a deep conditioning treatment! Massaging the ends of your hair with sesame oil can also get rid of split ends. Dandruff or psoriasis? Sesame oil provides nourishment to your hair follicles, reducing flakiness and dryness.

Going out and need your mane to shine? Just take 4-5 drops of sesame oil and run them through your hair using your fingertips. What’s more, its anti-bacterial effects can help to eliminate any pathogens that might attack your scalp or hair. That means it’s even a natural way to attack your children’s inevitable attacks of nits!

Heart Health

Sesame oil isn’t just good for rubbing into your skin - it tastes delicious too! Both your tastebuds and your heart can thank its fatty acid content for that. As well as being a tasty alternative to cooking with vegetable oils, ingesting sesame oil keeps your cardiovascular system in balance and your cholesterol low. This means that a regular dash of sesame oil in your cooking can protect you from heart attacks, heart disease and strokes.

Sesame oil can also safely lower levels of blood sugar, combating diabetes and improving the effectiveness of some antidiabetic drugs in Type 2 patients.

Smile Brighter

Sesame oil can make your smile shine! It’s highly recommended by dental professionals for a process called “oil pulling”. That simply means swishing oil around your mouth and spitting it out. The powerful antibacterial effects of sesame oil can lead to whiter teeth, less dental plaque, better breath and protection against certain streptococcus bacteria that can cause illnesses from sore throats to meningitis.

Combating Cancer

Sesame oil has been directly linked to a slowing of development of some cancers, including lung, ovarian, prostate and renal cancers as well as leukemia. It’s anti-cancer effects are thanks to an organic compound it contains - phytate. It also contains high levels of magnesium, which have been found to be beneficial in preventing colon cancer.

Whether you massage sesame oil into your skin and scalp, or add a little to your daily cooking, you’ll soon feel the benefits and find yourself stocking up on this most ancient of condiments. Enjoy!

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Ayurvedic Cooking Class

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Ayurvedic Cooking Class

Chef Lakshmi’s Cooking Class (Main Meal)

14th May 2015 (Thursday) 7pm – 9pm

“Many people think that Ayurvedic food is only Indian spiced and rich food. This is quite contrary to what Ayurvedic food is. In fact, Ayurvedic principles can be translated to everybody’s unique temperament and body type.”

Who needs this class?

If you need more variety to raw food or if you find raw food difficult to digest and do not give you the benefits that other people seem to enjoy, you probably need to consider eating more properly cooked foods! Enzymes do not just come from raw food. They are produced by our body first and foremost.  And spices support the production and efficacy of enzymes in our body for proper digestive health (for proper digestion, assimilation and elimination).  It’s rare to see anyone in today’s lifestyle who has great digestive health really as stress depletes it.

In this class you can learn how to make these quick and easy recipes that suit the modern lifestyle:

1. Chana Dal

This Ayurvedic spiced dish features chana, known as split chickpeas which are effective for weight-loss. Chana regulates hormone levels in women due to high phytonutrient content. The spices used in this dish are tempered traditionally and help aid digestion and assimilation.

2. Baked Paneer/Cauliflower

For those Paleo nuts, cauliflower can replace many grains in dishes. Using organic ghee to temper the spices helps assimilation of the nutrients, especially that of curcumin. The turmeric in this dish relieves inflammation and is known for its beneficial qualities of preventing cold and flu.

3. Thick Ayurvedic Tomato Sauce with Zucchini Noodles (grain free)

You would never believe that this is actually a salad. The fresh basil and oregano counteracts the pungent tomato sauce, giving way to beautiful rich sauce.

   Fee: 

HK$350 per person or HK$300 per person when two or more people register together

Register here now!

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