About Me

My photo
Springdale, Arkansas, United States
Yoga and reading are my passions - followed closely by jewelry-making and cooking plant-based meals. My husband is my guinea pig for my recipes and thankfully he's a willing subject! Be sure to visit my Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheBookishYogini?ref=search_shop_redirect

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Yoga for the Autumn Season

 Autumn is the season for transformation.  Leaves are changing colors, then drying and falling from the trees, the weather is changing, and totally different vegetables and fruits are ripening for the harvest.  During this season of change, just like nature, we must also change by adapting our daily habits, yoga practice and food choices for the season.  Through change, we can stay grounded during this shifting season of Autumn.

Autumn is the Season of Vata Dosha
According to Ayurveda, yoga's sister science of medicine, there are three primary doshas:  Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.  During Autumn, vata, composed of air and space, is the most prevalent dosha.  Vata governs movement in the body, as well as activating the nervous system and the processes of elimination.  The qualities of vata energy are cold, dry, rough, light, changeable, irregular and moving.  Vata energy also affects our nervous system which can be reflected in our mental health.

Our bodies and minds can become out of balance and overwhelmed  in the Fall with the abundance of circulating vata energy.  We may feel anxious, changeable, ungrounded, and unsettled.  Other signs of vata agravation include constipation and bloating.  If you have vata predominant consitution like me, it's even more important to take action to find balance in Fall.  To bring our energies back into balance, we can incorporate yoga poses, food and lifestyle choices that are opposite in quality to the vata dosha qualities to bring them into balance.

Yoga Asana (Poses) and Pranayama (Breath Practice) for Fall
Poses that support the lungs/breath and intestines/digestion help to calm excessive vata energy.  Examples would be:  forward folds (both standing and seated); Child's pose, gate, tree pose, Warrior 1, goddess pose, a slow steady Sun Salutations; Cobra, Locust, Bow, and seated poses like Hero.  Compressing the internal organs helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.  Indulge in a long Savasana (final relaxation) using an eye pillow or a cloth sprayed with lavender to help ground you and encourage a restful sleep.  Try to do your yoga practice at the same time each day and for the same length of time.  Practice right nostril breathing.

Foods and herbs for Autumn
Eat lots of cooked foods that are warm and moist, including soups.  Avoid raw vegetables and salads that increase vata.  Eat two apples a day to encourage elimination.  Drink warm teas made with warming ginger, cinnamon and cardamom.  Choose cooked root vegetables to increase the grounding connection to the earth.  In general, sweet, salty, and sour tastes are calming to vata energy.

Everyday Living for Fall
Try to get a good eight hours of sleep nightly, awakening with the sun.  Engage in moderate exercise - maybe a walk outside to take in the Fall colors.  Enjoy periods of calming silence.  Consider using a neti pot to help keep the lungs clear of phlegm.  Treat your skin to  luxurious oil moisturizers.  Commit to a regular meditation practice.  

So, enjoy the changing season - have a Pumpkin Latte or piece of pumpkin bread and slow down.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Lavender Spray & Yoga Mat Cleaner Recipes

Here are recipes for two items I use a lot:  Lavender Spray and Yoga Mat Cleaner.

My yoga students seem to love the lavender spray that I put on small washcloths and place over their eyes during Savasana.  In fact, once, I had run out of spray and my, oh my, the groans of disappointment!  Some people don't care for lavender, so if I have a new student, I'll usually say, "If you don't like lavender, just place your hand on your chest".  Here is the recipe I use, which I found on Pinterest:  

Lavender Spray: 2 cups distilled water, 1 oz (2 tablespoons) vodka, 1/2 teaspoon lavender essential oil.  (Can use up to 3/4 teaspoon lavender oil depending on how strong you like it.)  Pour into a spray bottle and shake each time you use it to mix thoroughly. If you don't have vodka, you can use rubbing alcohol, but I have found that it smells too alcoholly. The vodka is odorless, and acts as a preservative as well as help to emulsify (mix) the essential oil with the water.

Another recipe I use is for a more natural yoga mat cleaner. It's a good idea to clean your mat frequently, allowing it to dry completely before rolling it up for transportation to class. This is where I got my recipe: Homemade Yoga Mat Cleaner

Yoga Mat Cleaner:  16 drops tea tree oil, 16 drops essential oil (I chose Lemon, but Lavender works well also), 8 drops eucalyptus oil, 3 oz witch hazel or vinegar (I prefer witch hazel - the alcohol free version which you can buy here: Amazon), and 10 oz water, combined in a spray bottle.


Om Shanti, 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Ayurvedic Doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha

As background information for the first three classes I'll be teaching in September at The Jones Center, the following is a fairly brief summary of the doshas and recommended yoga practices for their balancing and support.

Ayurvedic medicine, also known as Ayurveda -- is one of the world's oldest holistic (whole-body) healing systems. It was developed thousands of years ago in India. According to Ayerveda, each person is made of a combination of five basic elements found in the universe:

- Space (Ether: the subtle energy that connects all things)
- Air
- Fire
- Water
- Earth

These elements combine in the human body to form three life forces or energies, called doshas. They control how your body works. The three doshas are:

- Vata dosha (space and air)
- Pitta dosha (fire and water)
- Kapha dosha (water and earth)

Each person will generally have a dominant dosha. We can also be bi-doshic or tri-doshic. The three doshas fluctuate constantly within us according to our environment, which includes our diet, the seasons, the climate, our age, and many more factors. As they move out of balance, they affect particular areas of our bodies in characteristic ways. The current state of these three doshas most commonly defines our imbalance, or vikruti.

When working with the doshas, remember that: Like increases like, and opposites balance each other. In other words, foods, weather, and situations that have similar characteristics as the doshas will increase them; those that have opposite characteristics will decrease them. Knowing this, you can adjust your yoga style, postures, and pranayama (breathwork) techniques as well as diet, and other environmental factors to affect these forces in ways that create greater balance and harmony.

Signs of Imbalance in the Doshas
There are many signs and symptoms associated with doshas being out of balance:

- Vata dryness, coldness, constipation, insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, fear
- Pitta inflammation, acid indigestioin, heartburn, skin problems, loose stools; anger, agitation, short temper
- Kapha weight gain, mucus build-up, lethargy, depression, lack of motivation.

Balancing Doshas

Once you have successfully recognized the culprit, you can begin the appropriate "pacifying" routine:

- Vata warmth, moisture, daily oil massage, vata-balancing diet, establishing supportive routines, calming/quiet environment
- Pitta cool down, pitta-balancing diet, calming routines, daily introspection, cooling herbs and spices
- Kapha stimulation, exercise, vary routine, avoid napping, kapha-balancing diet, wake at sunrise

Dosha Questionionnaire's
There are numerous on-line questionnaires to help determine what your dosha is. Here are a few links to on-line sources:

Once you've determined your dosha, then you can tailer your practice to support and balance your dosha.

Yoga Practice for Your Dosha

Vata's:  The asanas which are most suitable for balancing vata are those that are calming and grounding by nature, quite, slow and steady. They will counter the tendency for those with a vata imbalance to be “spacey,” agitated, or nervous. In general, most yoga asanas are good for balancing vata, since most asanas are calming to the mind. There are, however, some that are particularly good and some that should probably be avoided such as overly stimulating practices like repetitive Sun Salutations, and those that place excessive pressure on sensitive joints in the body.  Backbends such as shoulder stand, plow and wheel should be avoided or if done not held for long. Vata's benefit from a longer than normal savasana. Alternate nostril breathing is good for vata's.

Pitta's: The best asanas for pitta are those that are slow, calming, promote coolness and ease, non-competitive and not overly heating. People of pitta nature or imbalance tend to be more assertive and intense. Calming poses help sedate their intensity and ease the emotions of anger and resentment. Asanas that help balance pitta are those that place pressure on the naval and solar plexus region, in the small intestine where pitta resides. All forms of standing forward bends and inversions reduce pitta. Sitting poses such as cobbler, hero pose, sitting forward bends such as head-to-toe, half- and full-lotus forward bend, and tortoise are also recommended. Work the abdominal area with twists such as maricyasana. Other pitta-reducers include cobra, half-bow, and boat. Experiment with moon salutation; while sun salutation heats, this vinyasa has a cooling effect. Warrior, chair pose, headstands, armstands, and lion increase pitta; if you enjoy these poses, hold them briefly.  Avoid revolved poses that just build more heat. Alternate nostril breathing and sitali breath are good for pitta's.

Kapha's: To balance the heavy, slow, cold, and sedated nature of kapha, practice asanas that are more stimulating and heating, and chest-opening. The stomach and chest are the areas where kapha accumulates. In the chest, kapha takes on the form of mucous.
For those of kapha nature and imbalance, the calming and sedating effect of most asanas needs to be balanced by other asanas that are more stimulating and heating. People of kapha nature are the best suited to handle strengthening poses, as their joints and muscles tend to be strong and stable. Increasing flexibility is extremely important for those of kapha nature, as kaphas tend to become overly stiff or rigid. Few asanas are harmful to kapha, as kaphas benefit from all forms of stretching and movement. Two weak areas of the body for kapha individuals, however, are the lungs and the kidneys. Asanas that place excessive pressure on the lower abdomen, such as Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), can aggravate the kidneys if held for too long.

There is much more information on the internet and in books if anyone is so inclined to more research. See you in class!