Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle to balance the vata dosha

Yoga and Ayurveda are separate branches in the Vedic knowledge, but are closely related and have many overlapping principles.

The word “Ayurveda” is made up of two Sanskrit words – “Ayuh” and “Veda”. “Ayuh” means life or longevity, and “Veda” means sacred knowledge or science.

I first came in touch with Ayurveda around two years ago. At that time, with the challenges of being a new mother, I was suffering from the effects of a poor lifestyle and diet. I was at my heaviest weight and biggest size in my life. In addition, I was constantly feeling tired and short-tempered.

Desperate to slim down, I began to try out various fad diets such a “low carb”, “keto” and “paleo”. However, none of them were sustainable and I ended up in an unhealthy cycle of restricting my diet, followed by eating everything I could see in sight. In addition, when I was following these fad diets, I constantly felt bloated even though I was eating mostly whole foods. I was constantly bloated and the poor digestion negatively affected my mood as well.

I continued to be in this “yo-yo” diet until I chanced upon an article on eating the Ayurvedic way. The article described the concept of eating for your “dosha”, in order to aid your digestion and to feel balanced internally. I was intrigued by this new concept and decided to find out more.

“Dosha”, which is a foundational concept of Ayurveda, refers to the energetic forces of nature. There are three types of “dosha” – vata, pitta and kapha – and each dosha influences our bodily functions in a specific manner, and is made up of predominantly two elements.

  • Vata: Air and ether (space)
  • Pitta: Fire and water
  • Kapha: Water and earth

All three doshas can be found in everyone, but in different proportions. I inferred that I was predominantly of a vata dosha, as I have a small frame and my skin tends to be dry. I am also anxious and quick tempered.

I finally understood why I was constantly feeling bloated and sluggish even though I was eating somewhat healthily. My diet consisted of a lot of cold food (eg. salads and cold fruits), was heavy on animal protein and limited in carbohydrates. All these were considered cold, dry and light foods, which aggravates the vata dosha. In addition, I was also eating a lot of leftover food due to the lack of time to cook. Ayurveda considers leftover food to be devoid of prana and are hard to digest.

A diet to keep vata in balance (i.e. a vata pacifying diet) should consist of foods with the following qualities:

  • Warm
  • Moist
  • Grounding

In addition, the vata diet favours foods that taste sweet, sour and salty, whereas pungent, bitter and astringent foods should be minimized.

A sample day of eating on a vata-pacifying diet, adapted to suit the food choices available in Singapore, may look something like the following:

Breakfast: Oatmeal cooked with milk and warming spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg / Kaya and butter toast with soft boiled eggs

Lunch: Chicken congee / Mung dal with chapati

Dinner: Yong tau foo soup with beehoon / Chicken stew

Once I started replacing the cold salads with warm and fresh meals, as well as drinking warm water throughout the day, my digestion worked way better (too much information, but I started having bowel movements almost on a daily basis instead of once every three or more days). I also started using ghee (clarified butter) in cooking, and even in my morning dose of matcha tea. I found that ghee has a lubricating effect on my digestive system, and I like the buttery taste and texture it lends to the dishes (especially eggs).

As I read up more about Ayurveda, I discovered that diet is not the only way to keep your dosha in balance. Daily lifestyle habits and routines are, too, crucial in balancing the dosha.

I learnt that having a routine makes vatas feel grounded. As such, I started to incorporate some routines into my daily life, some of which I still practise up until today.

  • I try to maintain consistency in my waking and sleeping time, as well as meal times. I try not to eat after 7pm and to sleep by 10pm. Initially I was really strict with this and bailed out on many intimate family meals or outings. Overtime, I have learnt that it is even more important to relax and just go with the flow of life, and to trust myself to be able to get back on track.
  • Get ample rest, physically and mentally! I started to reduce the intensity of my workouts, opting out from my daily circuit training when I feel my anxiety kicking in.
  • Having a basic morning routine, starting with tongue scrapping and oil pulling to help my body eliminate toxins.
  • Have a simple wind-down routine at night. I try to minimize screen time an hour before bed and do some light stretching to prompt my body that its time for bed.

Understanding my dosha through Ayurveda has helped me tremendously in coping with my digestion and stress in life. I’m positive that coupled with my more regular yoga practices these days, I am on my road to achieving a calmer disposition.

What is your dosha?

 

References:

https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/learning-ayurveda/glossary-of-ayurvedic-terms/

Pratyahara: Detachment

A primary teaching Master Sree is a big advocate for, evident in his daily theory classes is to

Not be attached to anything.

Not any labels, not any religion, not any beliefs, not even memories.

With every module taught, this teaching stood still.

Pratyahara – Letting go of attachments, take only what we need, keep only what serves us, let go when the time is right.

This state of open-mindedness resonated as it is similar to us being exposed to the wide range of religions available, not excluding astrology, numerology, tarot card reading, crystal healing, fortune telling, etc. The same can be applied of the limitless diets: paleo/ keto/ raw/ vegan/ blood type or intermittent fasting advocated by everybody who achieved successes through their personal experiences.

Who is to say which is the best diet, or which is the one true god or the most accurate tarot card or fortune teller? Who is to say if eating meat is unnatural or are they meant to be eaten?

Everyone’s belief is different, everyone’s truth is different.

A sneak peek to a few thought provoking ideas mentioned in class –

Commercialized by pharma industry Popping painkillers pills for body/head ache 
Alternative idea Using natural herbs and spices to self heal
Commercialized by bottled water industry Drinking 2 litres of water daily
Alternative idea Drinking only when youre thirsty even if its 200ml
Commercialized by farmers/grocers Poultry are meant to be eaten as food
Alternative idea Animals are living things and are not meant to be consumed as food
Commercialized by all industries Love makes the world go round. We love our partners and family.
Alternative idea Only self love is the purest love. Every other love is conditional.

My takeaway from this is to keep an open mind. Don’t be attached to any of it. Take in all the information with an open heart, and make your own assessment if it will serve you and you will like to take it with you. And in time to come, when it no longer serves you, let it go.

A Clean Stomach Is The Key to Enlightenment

Detoxify! Detoxify! Detoxify!

My Guru, Paramahamsa Nithyananda, says that keeping our stomach clean is the key to establish ourselves in the ultimate understanding again and again.

 

With the divine blessings of My Guru, in December 2018, I have made a decision to change from a regular meat eating diet into a sattvic vegeterian diet and started my journey to build a yogic body through daily yoga, right sattvic diet and occasional detoxification through Nirahara Samyama.

 

The sattvic vegeterian diet has its own challenges. It wasn’t that I miss meat at all….it was more of a problem looking for pure sattvic food while we are eating outside. Little india area in Singapore is probably the only location in Singapore, where Sattvic Vegeterian food is readily available.

 

My new yogic lifestyle of starting my day with cleansing Kriyas, followed by physical Yoga in Brahma  Muhurta hours, together with Haritaki and Sattvic Diet has unlocked tremendous energy sources for me. On average, I sleep around 3 to 5 hours a day. I used to need 8 hours sleep and still felt sleepy, tired and drained out.

 

Dorisq Tan

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YogicBodies@gmail.com

+65 9889 5654

Dorisq Tan
Building Yogic Bodies, Vedic Minds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oxygen from 1 Teaspoon Haritaki = 2 Hours Pranayama?

In Ayurvedic Medicine Haritaki is called “The King of Medicines”

 

Haritaki has many names like a lot of herbs out of India, so here are some of the other names it is known as: Abhaya, Kadukkai, Chebulic Myrobalan, Black Myrobalan, Hardh, Ink Tree, Hardad, Harar, Karakkaya, and Marathi.

 

 

Haritaki fruit has been used for thousands of years with great success in India. This wonderful fruit grows in Asia and is common in Ayurvedic Medicine. Haritaki is a great for cleansing our GI tract and building good probiotics and thus improving our immune system.

 

It is also important as a natural antibiotic, anti-fungal agent, and anti-inflammatory agent. Haritaki also helps to protect and cleanse the liver as well as to improve digestive issues such as constipation and indigestion. In Ayurveda, haritaki is said to support the “Vata” dosha.

 

In addition, Haritaki has a bunch of active compounds including healthy acids and metabolites: tannic acid, gallic acid, chebulinic acid, stearic acid, palmitic acid, terchebin, chebulin, behenic acid, oleic acid, sennoside, anthraquinone, mucilage, arachidic acid, and linoleic acid.

 

Uses of Haritaki
In Ayurveda, Haritaki powder is used to treat blood and digestive disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, and has been proven to be a wonderful all-natural alternative remedy for the following health conditions:

Conjunctivitis
Gout
Anemia
Dysuria
Urinary Stones
Gastrointestinal Disorders
May help lower blood sugar (Caution is advised in patients with blood disorders or hypoglycemia)
May reduce cholesterol

 

Haritaki Benefits:
Antiviral – extracts of the fruit inhibit HIV
It has laxative, purgative, astringent and restorative properties
Boosts energy
Promotes longevity
Improves memory
Improves metabolism and aids digestion
Anti-inflammatory
Enhances the five senses
Protects from oxidative stress
Aphrodisiac
Antioxidant
Mouthwash preparation using this herb’s extracts can help prevent cavities

 

Dorisq Tan

www.FB.com/YogicBodies

YogicBodies@gmail.com

+65 9889 5654

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to implement the yogic system in our daily lives? II

Ever heard the phrase “you are what you eat”? It is a concept that is easy to understand but not everyone is conscious of the foods they put into their bellies. Whether you live to eat or eat to live, there should be no compromise on the quality of our foods. That does not mean that the more expensive a food is the higher the quality of it, we should be looking at how it affects the body and yoga gives us some guidelines as to what food are more suitable for a stronger, healthier and cleaner body.

In yoga, we divide food into saatvic, rajasic and tamasic. Saatvic food are mainly food that increase vitality, energy, vigour, health and joy, and are categorized as food that are fresh and organically produced, eaten in as natural a state as possible. Rajasic food are food that overstimulate the body and bring a restless state of mind, such as heavily spiced food. Lastly, tamasic food are said to be food that make a person lazy and dull like meat, fish and all intoxicants.

It is clear to see that yoga encourages that shift towards a vegetarian diet. But as mentioned earlier, these are purely guidelines to help you understand why these food are better suited for the body since they help bring more clarity to the mind and introduce less toxins to the body. It is not a preach to convert all humans to become vegetarians but for everyone to strive towards showing more love towards their body and thus choosing the right kinds of food to nourish it appropriately.

So the next time you are choosing between reaching for those 3 servings of meats to eat with your rice, why not try 1 or maybe even 2 servings of vegetables instead? Start small. There is no need to entirely cut other types of food. But the idea here is to reduce your intake of rajasic and tamasic food to replace with more saatvic ones as much as possible. Give it a month or two, see the change it brings to your body and mind, and hopefully you would feel the lightness it brings and come to love the food that nature has provided for us all this time in the purest and most natural ways.

Yogic Principles in Daily Life – Part 2

Years ago a yoga teacher once told me that “Yoga without the breath is just a circus act”. This really resonated with me at the time and solidified early on in my practice, how integral the breath is when practicing yoga.

During my TTC I learnt that not only is yoga without the breath a circus act, but yoga without following the yogic principles is a circus act too. It’s not just all about the asanas, to be a true yogi you must abide by certain code of conduct. There are 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga, the first of the Yamas (qualities in which a yogi should have) is Ahimsa, or non-violence.

Non-violence towards others in the most obvious way means not to physically harm or injure others, but as well as that maintaining an attitude that does not harm others also. If you can do Tittibhasana and Sirsasana perfectly but then go out into the world belittling others, you become part of the circus act.

Ahimsa means no cruelty towards animals. This aspect of the Yamas is why a large portion of yogis are vegetarians and vegans. In regards to animals, Sree taught us that ahimsa also means not keeping fish in small tanks or birds in cages. In those cases we are trapping the animal just for our viewing pleasure, and thus it is of a violent nature.

I am already a vegetarian so can fully understand this aspect of ahimsa. The biggest aspect of ahimsa that I will integrate into my daily life, is the violence towards myself. Just as I wouldn’t go out into the world and speak negatively to other people, I mustn’t do the same to myself. I definitely notice in my yoga practice if I cannot do a pose I will speak negatively towards myself, but am aiming to culture a more positive attitude and integrate ahimsa towards myself into my daily life.

And I have to admit that having a few injuries along the way has really helped me to practice ahimsa towards myself!

Yoga practitioner must be a vegetarian?

After practicing yoga for quite some time and learning yoga philosophy many thoughts about vegetarianism are hitting my head. Especially I am concerned even more because I eat meat regularly and quite like the taste.

 

I heard from someone that if you are a vegetarian your body gets more optimized for yoga practice.

 

But why do we have to be a vegetarian?

If the determination to become a vegetarian is because many yoga practitioners do so then it wouldn’t be lasting long.

 

But then why yoga practitioners don’t eat meat?

I figured out 2 of the reasons.

 

  1. Karma

It says if we eat meat then all the negative feelings before animal dies would be absorbed to our body. Therefore they don’t eat meat because it distracts the energy for breathing and Asana.

 

  1. Ahimsa

Ahimsa means non violence and no destruction of life.

It’s one of the philosophy that yoga practitioner should follow. It can’t be even imagined how big violence eating meat is to animals.

You could say that I didn’t cause the direct violence to animals but they were killed to be eaten for human, meat eater could be a ground for the violence.

 

But the reason yoga people are vegetarian is not only for the body.

Vegetarianism is just one of the things that we follow the philosophy of yoga.

The more important things than being a vegetarian are that all the things such as spirits, thoughts, action, sympathy and etc. that we do in our daily life.

If you are a vegetarian who don’t feel the love of animals inside you then it’s just not real.

 

Before writing this post I have thought of my diets and usual thoughts.

And questioned myself if I feel sympathy consistently in my life and am able to become a sincere vegetarian that I want from a deep bottom of my heart?

 

To be honest the answer is not yet.

But as a person who loves yoga, I will try to implement things yoga pursues to my life step by step. I think it might be a good idea to take a moment and think about animals when I eat meat.

 

But if you want to grow physically and spiritually through yoga, and something from your heart whispers then you can simply start vegetarianism now!

The 3 Gunas And How It Relates To Our Diet and Health

In yoga philosophy, food is not only viewed in terms of its nutritional profile, but also how it affects our minds. What we eat can uplift our moods and keep us calm and emotionally nourished, or they could agitate us and make us dull and lazy. Food can be widely categorized into Sattvic, Rajasic, or Tamasic. We should stick to eating Sattvic food and avoid contaminating our bodies by consuming Rajasic and Tamasic food.

  • Sattvic food are pure food that increases our mental clarity, health, cheerfulness, vitality, and vigour. They should ideally be fresh and natural, organically grown, non-GMO, and without preservatives or artificial flavourings. Examples of Sattvic food include fruits and vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts and seeds.
  • Rajasic food are food that over-stimulates our bodies and minds and prevents us from calming our minds. Such food are typically strong flavours that are spicy, sour, bitter, and pungent. Examples of Rajasic food include onions, coffee, tea, and processed food.
  • Tamasic food are food that are stale, overripe, unripe, decomposed, and unclean. These food can make us full, inert and lazy, and fill our minds with dark and impure thoughts. Examples of Tamasic food include meat, fish, all stimulants (alcohol, drugs), and fermented food.

It can be a daunting endeavour for those of us who consume all types of food to abruptly switch to a Sattvic diet overnight. We can help to ease the transition by gradually shifting our food choices at a pace that is comfortable for us.

Below are some guidelines on how to make the switch to a Sattvic diet as natural and undisruptive as possible:

  • Familiarize ourselves on what foods are Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic
  • Swap out your least favourite Rajasic and Tamasic food with Sattvic alternatives for an easy start
  • Begin to incorporate more Sattvic food into our diet instead of focusing on removing Rajasic and Tamasic food to ease the feeling of deprivation
  • Commit to eating only Sattvic food on weekdays to make it easier to stick to (versus removing all Rajasic and Tamasic food altogether forever)
  • Stock your kitchen with Sattvic food and avoid having Rajasic and Tamasic food in your pantry/fridge as much as possible

Although it will be difficult to completely switch to a Sattvic diet, as long as we commit to pursuing it as a lifelong endeavor and never give up our attempts to adopt a mostly Sattvic diet to nourish our body and mind, we will gradually gravitate towards a healthier diet and lifestyle. We should also not beat ourselves up over the occasional slip-ups and just try harder again. Afterall, “better beats perfect”!

Yogic diet and mind balance

By Harsh Thakkar

Do you control your mind when it comes to eating what you want to eat or does the mind tell you what to eat? And how does the food one eats contribute to the state of mind?

Ayurveda is described as the traditional Indian system of medicine (incorporated in Atharva Veda, the last of the four Vedas) which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and uses diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing. Balance as we know now is also one of strongest pillars of Yoga. Literally translated it would be “Ayur” meaning Life or Age and “Veda” meaning science or knowledge. In most western countries although it is considered as a system of complementary and alternate medicine. Even though I do not have the complete knowledge of Ayurveda and all its practices, whatever I have read so far it tells me that it provides guidelines for diet, seasonal routines and homemade remedies from plants and herbs to remind us that one’s health is a delicate balance between the environment, body, mind and spirit.

According to Ayurveda, food has a prominent role in achieving balanced body-mind-soul consciousness. It is said that the nature of food a person consumes reflects their nature or temperament.

Any food you eat can be categorized as either sattvicrajasic and tamasic according to its character and effect upon the body and the mind.

Sattvic food

Sattva is that which makes us curious, thoughtful, and alert.

Sattvic food is always freshly cooked and simple, juicy, light, unctuous, nourishing, cooling and refreshing to mind and body. It increases the energy of the mind and produces cheerfulness, serenity and mental clarity. Sattvic food is highly conducive to good health.

Foods: Whole grains and legumes like Rice, Whole wheat, Millet, Corn, Lentils, Oats, Beans etc. Freshly picked and organically grown vegetables like Celery, Sweet potatoes, Sprouts, Cauliflower, Zucchini, Lettuce, Green beans, Spinach, Broccoli, Asparagus etc. Fresh fruits such as Apples, Peaches, Oranges, Bananas, Guava, Berries, Papayas, Pomegranate etc.

Rajasic Food

Rajas are invigorating and mentally stimulating and make us active, giving us the desire to work, push, and manifest.

This is food that is fresh but heavy. The rajasic diet is also cooked fresh and is nutritious. It may contain a little more oil and spices compared to sattvic food. Rajasic foods are bitter, sour, salty, pungent, hot and dry. It stimulates aggression, passion, fire, imbalance of the emotion, energy, alters the consciousness, and creates depression.

Foods: Fish and meat such as Salmon, Sole, Trout, Lamb, Chicken, Turkey, Tuna, Eggs etc. Excess of Sharp Spices like Salt, Pepper, Black Pepper, Ginger, Onion, Radish, Garlic etc. Stimulants such as Coffee, Tea, Tobacco, Sugar, Cola Drinks, Chocolates, Alcoholic Drinks etc.

Tamasic Food

Tamas gives us the desire to stop, slow down, and rest.

Tamasic foods cause lethargy, inactivity, mental block, severe anger, darkness, ignorance, and no control of self. These foods are considered to be highly detrimental to the body and mind.

Foods: Fried food, Eggs, White flour, Fast food, excess starch and sugar, chillies, sauce, fermented or stale food, ice creams, chocolates, preserved meats/ fruits and jams, artificially flavoured drinks, alcohol, breads, cakes, Pickles.

We have all the three Gunas / qualities within us in different proportions. All 3 of these qualities (Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic) are necessary for survival and to move in a progressive direction in life. How we respond to the events and circumstances in our life very much depends on the predominant Guna / Quality within us.

Sattva qualities make a person calm and joyful. ‘Small amount’ of Rajas makes the person active and passionate, while Tamas in ‘moderation’ is considered as grounding and promotes stability.

 

 

 

 

Energy ball : a snack full of energy

I got this idea after the day we practised ashtanga primary series. All I needed was a snack full of energy. If you don’t have an oven at home!! No problem, you only need a refrigerator and you can enjoy the pure energy in the form of goodness for those who want something quick and portable.
Here is the recipe!!!

1 cup Dates
1/2 cup Dry oat
1/2 cup Almonds
1/2 cup Cashew nut
1/4 cup Coconut flex
1 tbsp Cacao powder
1 tbsp Chia seed
1/3 cup Almond milk
2 tbsp Peanut butter

Let’s get started!!

1) Mix almond, cashew nuts, oat and cacao powder into a food processor or blender and make into fine dry substances.
2) Then add in the dates, Chia seed and peanut butter, continue blending until the mixture start to clump up
3) Add almond milk and blend it until the mixture start forming a nice sticky dough
4) Roll the mixture like a ball shape
5) Place the ball in the fridge about an hour to hardened them. Keep them in an airtight or container
6) Now you are good to go!! Enjoy!