From the Chopra Center website:
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India. Although suppressed during years of foreign occupation, Ayurveda has been enjoying a major resurgence in both its native land and throughout the world. Tibetan medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine both have their roots in Ayurveda. Early Greek medicine also embraced many concepts originally described in the classical ayurvedic medical texts dating back thousands of years.
More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vital while realizing their full human potential. Providing guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet, behavior and the proper use of our senses, Ayurveda reminds us that health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind, and spirit.
Recognizing that human beings are part of nature, Ayurveda describes three fundamental energies that govern our inner and outer environments: movement, transformation, and structure. Known in Sanskrit as Vata (Wind), Pitta (Fire), and Kapha (Earth), these primary forces are responsible for the characteristics of our mind and body. Each of us has a unique proportion of these three forces that shapes our nature. If Vata is dominant in our system, we tend to be thin, light, enthusiastic, energetic, and changeable. If Pitta predominates in our nature, we tend to be intense, intelligent, and goal-oriented and we have a strong appetite for life. When Kapha prevails, we tend to be easy-going, methodical, and nurturing. Although each of us has all three forces, most people have one or two elements that predominate.
For each element, there is a balanced and imbalance expression.
When Vata is balanced, a person is lively and creative, but when there is too much movement in the system, a person tends to experience anxiety, insomnia, dry skin, constipation, and difficulty focusing. When Pitta is functioning in a balanced manner, a person is warm, friendly, disciplined, a good leader, and a good speaker. When Pitta is out of balance, a person tends to be compulsive and irritable and may suffer from indigestion or an inflammatory condition. When Kapha is balanced, a person is sweet, supportive, and stable but when Kapha is out of balance, a person may experience sluggishness, weight gain, and sinus congestion.
An important goal of Ayurveda is to identify a person’s ideal state of balance, determine where they are out of balance, and offer interventions using diet, herbs, aromatherapy, massage treatments, music, and meditation to reestablish balance.
This system is on my mind these days, particularly as my body adjusts to the winter months. Seasonal affective disorder has always been a problem for me (at least since moving to Boston) and this winter I'm determined to eat and live in harmony and balance (as much as possible) to prevent disagreeable symptoms.
So far, so good.
In addition to my private practice, I also work at Cambridge Naturals--a locally owned natural products and health store in Porter Square Shopping Center in Cambridge, MA. We have some wonderful customers from a wide range of fields, backgrounds and interests. One day a particularly nice person offered me this recipe for a delicious AND SIMPLE Ayurvedic breakfast.
Give it a try and pay attention to the following right after eating and throughout your day:
-any physical sensations -any mental or emotional changes
Feel free to post comments here! Share the wealth for health!
1 Tb ghee* (melted)
1 Tb raw honey or coconut oil (melted)
1 tsp of powdered (or grated) ginger root, cinnamon and turmeric
sprouted wheat bread (or cooked whole grain of your choice)
1) mix ghee, honey and spices together with a knife in a small bowl
2) toast bread**, add the spread---AND WOW!
This is easy, fast and really delicious. No more excuses for leaving the house without anything in your stomach AND it's a huge improvement from your daily bagel and cream cheese. Why?
Here are the benefits of what you're eating:
Ghee: Ghee, also known as clarified butter in anglophone countries, is made by simmering unsalted butter in a cooking vessel until all water has boiled off and the milk solids, or protein, have settled to the bottom and a scum has floated on top. After removing the scum the cooked and clarified butter is then spooned off or tipped out carefully to avoid disturbing the milk solids on the bottom of the pan. Ghee can be stored for extended periods without refrigeration, provided it is kept in an airtight container to prevent oxidation and remains moisture-free. The texture, colour or taste of ghee depends on the source of the milk from which the butter was made and the extent of boiling/simmering.-Wiki
To be honest, I have run into some dead-ends when it comes to ghee. Ayurveda contends its health benefits, but Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., doesn't recommend it highly. Do your research and make a decision that feels right for you.
Raw honey: when it hasn't been pasteurized or heated, many of the original enzymes and nutrients remain intact. Raw honey is a very medicinal food--not just a convenient sweetener. Not all honey is the same so make sure you're getting raw honey which is the most nutritional--not the stuff in that container of a little bear with a hat. I'll write another blog post about this in the future.
Turmeric: a spice that has proven to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation can take many forms, not just aches and pains. It can show up as IBS, acne and depression.
Cinnamon: a spice that may regulate your blood-sugar levels. In this recipe, I noticed I didn't crash mid-morning.
Ginger: A warming and healing spice. Good for digestion and may have anti-bacterial properties, among many others.
Coconut Oil: I haven't had much personal experience with this other than another quick recipe I'll post in the future. I intend to cook with it using heat soon, and I'll let you know what I discover. In short, though, many people believe in the health benefits of coconut oil which are many, so read this article:
I enjoy this breakfast immensely and look forward to discovering and sharing more solutions for battling SAD naturally in the coming months!