Practical Application of the 3 Gunas in Food and Fishing

“Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The three Gunas describes 3 basic qualities or tendencies that groups states (harmony, activity, chaos), attitudes (positivity, self-centeredness, apathy) and dispositions (peacefulness, dynamism, ignorance) that is generally encountered together in daily life.

This system provides a useful conceptual framework to help understand, categorize and leverage in our life’s undertakings. The following details my attempt to outline a practical application of the 3 Gunas framework in the (hypothetical) feeding, capture and post-catch management of a really hot guy/(s).

It is my hope that this contribution to the yogic community will provide an aspirational yogi at least some help to attain their happiness, or at least bring the rest of us a little amusement in hearing about how the capture attempt goes.

 

Three Gunas & Food:

The following table handily summarizes the categories of food that promotes the respective attitudes. Identical tables, charts and infographics can very easily be found through a quick check with Google.

   
Figure 1: Food that promote the 3 Gunas [1]

The long and short of it is that the eating certain types of food will promote certain kind of energies. Managing the types and proportions of food you eat will assist to regulate your energies (sattva, rajas, tamas); eating chicken if you’re a tamasic kind of person who needs a bit of energy, minimizing spicy food and downing some nuts if you’re the rajasic sort who needs to prepare for a presentation, etc etc.

The standard application prescribes the active evaluation and choice of food types to facilitate the yogi’s own life practices. Numero Uno. Yours truly. The one and only.

But that’s boring. Managing [2] others based on your esoteric yogic guru super-wisdom is where it’s at.

[1] The Gunas in Yoga – Understanding the Significance, [https://yogacentral.in/2017/09/12/gunas-yoga-significance/], YogaCentral [2017]

[2] /məˌnɪpjʊˈleɪʃ(ə)n/. Verb. The action of manipulating something in a skilful manner.

 

A Very Practical Problem

You’re you. You’ve just trudged through an exhausting week of meetings, emergencies, client/customer management and snide passive aggression from your bosses/colleagues over the past five days.

You’re dragged your miserable self down to a fancy bar on a Friday night. You meet this cute guy, struck up a discussion and immediately hit it off. You two had an engaging discussion of the Bhagavad Gita and Sankhya philosophy because you’re both kindred modern enlightened new-age spiritual liberal types like that.

You somehow worked up the courage to invite him back to your sweet (hypothetical) bachelorette pad for a nice meal together. You have just opened your fridge at your generously stocked kitchen when you snapped a little out of your martini-tipsiness;
“Oh sh~eesh. I have no idea what I should cook here.”

What is a girl/non-binary/liberal-male to do?

 

Scenario 1: Mr Tamasic
“Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Mr Tamasic is quite a looker. Unfortunately, he’s also a tad bit apathetic, lethargy and slow on the uptake. Left on his own, this fella doesn’t seem to have the initiative to really step/stand-up, hold himself erect, and really bring things forward tonight.

In this case, you want to cook up something to really ramp up his rajasic energies (Passion, desire & attachment), and a dash of stattvic (Truth, Intelligence & consciousness) to open his eyes to what a treasure he is missing out on if he doesn’t hustle and seize the damn opportunities when they’re standing right in front of him.

Here’s a couple of nice recipes to get his blood boiling:

– Indian Chicken Curry (Murgh Kari): https://www.simplycook.com/recipes/murgh-kari-for-2
– Tamarind Fish Curry (Asam Pedas Ikan Pari): https://www.nyonyacooking.com/recipes/asam-pedas-ikan-pari~ByZH_viDfcZQ
– Lemon Daal (Nimmakaya Pappu): https://blogexplore.com/food/curries-gravies/nimmakaya-pappu-lemony-dal-recipe/

 

Scenario 2: Mr Rajasic
“When strong, avoid them. If of high morale, depress them. Seem humble to fill them with conceit. If at ease, exhaust them. If united, separate them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Mr Rajasic is a total hottie. Unfortunately, he also appears just a tad bit hot-headed, impulsive, wilful, and maybe a little wild. While you’re interested to secure a little more than just the passing acquaintance with this eligible bachelor, you’re worried of the seemingly considerable risk of a one-night stand, a passing fancy, and/or a pelvic fracture/sore hips the next day.

We really want to tone down Mr Rajasic’s rajas over here. Really load up on the tamas to get him nice and satiated. A lot of red meat, some mushroom sauce, a few bottles of red wine for extra romance. Hold the coffee, garlic, and for God’s sake, do not feed the man any spicy curries.

Try one of these recipes:

– Steak with mushroom gravy: https://cafedelites.com/ribeye-steaks-with-mushroom-gravy/
– Juicy Steakhouse Burger: https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/steakhouse-burgers.html

 

Scenario 3: Mr Sattvic
“The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Now, Mr Sattvic is an intelligent (and very attractive) chap. He says all the right words, makes all the right moves, makes you laugh with his witty jokes, fascinates you with his insightful observations. Unfortunately, he might be just a little bit too clever, able to sniff out your plans and check all your advances. Can’t have that upsetting the balance of power in your future relationship.

Where we’d usually promote the consumption of sattvic food, here we want to do the exact opposite; stuff the fella full of rajasic and tamasic food to throw him off balance;
“Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.” – Sun Tzu

Here’s a couple of nice dishes to obfuscate, obscurate, and enfeeble:

– Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani): https://www.indianhealthyrecipes.com/butter-chicken/
– Paneer Tikka: https://www.indianhealthyrecipes.com/paneer-tikka-on-stove-top/
– Aloo Chaat: https://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/aloo-chaat-recipe/
– 5 Minute Chocolate Pudding: https://laughingspatula.com/5-minute-chocolate-pudding

 

Back to Basics: Self-care

Of course, being busy with whipping up specially tailored epicurean gastronomical miscellany is no excuse to neglect the proper care and maintenance of player one. In between juggling 4 frying pans, 2 stewing pots and a smoking oven that’s just about the trigger the fire alarm, one should make sure to whip out a solid sattvic main to keep yourself primed and alert during the coming meal.

Probably a small pretty salad, a plate of fresh fruits and a nice pot of herbal tea. Just tell your wondering meal buddy that you’re on a diet. Maybe leave the washing for tomorrow.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad: https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a19885314/mediterranean-chickpea-salad-recipe/
Fruit platter: https://divascancook.com/how-to-make-a-fruit-tray-beautiful-fruit-platter-idea/
Homemade Herbal Tea: https://www.acouplecooks.com/herbal-tea-recipes/

I don’t think we have had enough Art of War quotes. Here’s one more for good measure:

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

 

P.S. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Control

It is the lack of control that frightens me.

In yoga terminology, I believed I had a rajasic mind – an overstimulated body, unable to keep still, and an anxious mind. I have never thought of myself as a perfectionist. But over time, I realize my need to establish structure and stability has heightened over the course of adulthood. Maybe for a long time, I have decided I have been cruising through life too much – lost in life at 19; the I-woke-up-one-day-and-decided-to-fly-to-Australia-for-two-years-with-a-student-loan decision because I thought leaving was the best solution to a happier life; the trip to the grocery store one day, with a budget of 20 dollars, felt like crap and walked in to get a job at a café. Those days, I drank too much coffee, to keep my body physically capable to do everything I thought I had to do.

There were also days I felt moody and lethargic, having a tamasic behaviour, causing me to make impulsive decisions, like waking up one day and telling my partner I’m taking a solo trip because I needed to be alone. Those days were the worst, because they were the days I lack purpose, demotivated to chase a shining future. I ate badly and lived on ready-to-eat food. I smoked and drank too much, thinking that the 5 minutes that cigarette will last is the 5 minutes my mind could be at peace.

Shifting from the two extremes was exhausting, not only for me, but also for the people around me, particularly family who couldn’t cope with the stubbornness, my then-partner, who had to live with my impulsive decisions and irrational moods. After a while, with all the hasty decisions and carelessness, I made a commitment to settle for something, for anything.

I made a conscious decision to settle on a career and to stay in Singapore. Being in one place allowed me the space to try new things for a longer duration of time. In my quest to find myself, I found yoga. For a long time finally, I felt I had composure.

I began my quest to eat more sattvic food, partly to lose weight so I can work on my asanas, but as I went along, I also began feeling healthier, more energetic and focused. I slowly transitioned towards cooking more. As much as I can, I avoided processed food, even bread and crackers, even if they were wholegrains, but I ate small portions of brown rice. I couldn’t avoid meat altogether but I switched to white meat and fish. I snacked with nuts, not on chocolates (though I snacked on 90% dark chocolate).

Suddenly, with the choice to progress and grow, I realised that the control I was searching for was within myself.

I cannot alter my external surrounding, I cannot will people for approval, my partner’s loyalty – in short, I cannot demand certain outcomes. That is the challenging part, isn’t it – accepting that some things are beyond dominance.

And with that, I leaned back on my office chair and drank my chamomile tea in big gulps. I then left the office much earlier than usual. I met a friend and had some good laughs, and made one conscious decision;

This time, I will breathe and let go.

 

How yoga improves my self-awareness

In yoga, we learn to pay our attention to the body when performing a variety of yoga poses, whether our back is lengthened or rounded, our chest is opened or collapsed, our core is actively engaged or relaxed, our hips are squared or slanted, our pelvis is tilted anterior or posterior, our feet are in a dorsiflexion or plantar flexion position, our fingers are relaxing or actively stretching, and where our eyes are resting. Practising yoga not only increases my body awareness for improved body posture, it also increases my awareness in managing my facial expression and eating habits. In this post, I would like to share with you how practising yoga has promoted my awareness in these three aspects which are so important in our daily life.

Maintaining a good body posture

One of my favourite yoga poses is wheel pose or alternatively known as upward bow pose. This deep backbend and chest opening pose allows the spine to be stretched backward, counteracting the usual hunched body posture. Most other sitting or standing yoga poses also require us to open the chest and lengthen the spine. After practising yoga for some time, I have become more aware of my body posture when I am walking or sitting in front of the desk. To keep a good body posture, it takes awareness to contract my back muscles for straightening the back and roll my shoulders back for opening the chest. Having a good posture not only makes me look taller, but also improves my confidence. Mentally, with the chest opened, I feel my heart is opened as well. I have learnt to open up myself more to accept others and focus on bringing kindness to them.

Managing the facial expression

How often do we pay attention to our facial expression when interacting with others? There was one time in a yoga practice, when being asked to relax the space between our eyebrows during the relaxation stage, I realized I had been frowning unknowingly for no reason. I also tend to blink my eyes excessively during public speaking probably because I am too nervous. Realizing facial expression which is a part of the body language can determine how people interpret us, I started to put more attention on managing my facial expression. Starting from relaxing the space between my eyebrows, I go on to relax my face, smile more and focus my eyes in one direction. I believe the facial expression also reflects our mental state. By managing our facial expression, not only this can make people become more comfortable to interact with us, but also regulate our emotions.

Practising mindful eating habits

Healthy diet and exercise go hand-in-hand to nurture and shape our body. Additionally, the yogic diet encourages sattvic foods which are foods that are eaten fresh and natural or lightly cooked for a clear and calm mind. I was so used to eating excessively hot and heavily spiced foods which can overstimulate the body and mind. I frequently experienced stomach discomfort and breakout on my face on top of the restless state of my mind. After learning about the yogic diet, I always remind myself not to eat so much spicy food and avoid stimulants of all kinds. For example, I will opt for an egg prata instead of my usual egg and onion combination for this delicious local dish. Most importantly, I consciously remind myself not to overeat. Due to the constant stress in my study and work, I had been overeating for a long time as I wrongly took eating as a form of self-love by feeding myself all the foods that I was tempted to eat and as a reward for my hard work. During the yoga training, I could literally feel the heaviness in my body when trying to lift myself up in certain poses. I have since made some changes to my eating habits to avoid overeating.

  • Slow down the pace when eating: This is because our brain needs at least 20 minutes to catch up with the status of our stomach. In the past, I always finished my meal in 10 minutes and looked for more small bites to fill my stomach. After I have consciously slowed down my pace when eating, I can easily get full after just one meal without additional foods.
  • Be aware of the way you check in with yourself after eating: After each meal, instead of asking ‘Do you still have room for desserts or small bites?’, I find it better to ask ‘Are you feeling full now?’. Surprisingly, the answer is always yes to me.
  • Think carefully before ordering food: It is always tempting to buy a set meal that comes with a main course and a dessert or some side dishes to get the best deal from the menu. After knowing that I may overeat from this action, now I will choose to buy only the main course first. I will buy the dessert later when I truly feel hungry after having finished my main course.
  • Know the body conditions associated with your appetite: I get most hungry when the temperature is cold, especially when I am doing paperwork in an air-conditioned room. I also tend to eat more if I don’t get enough sleep the night before. It seems like my body is trying to fill the energy gap from my lack of sleep by eating more foods to keep me awake. Therefore, to prevent myself from overeating, I will ensure myself getting enough sleep by going to bed early and avoid working long hours in an air-conditioned room. I also realized I don’t feel hungry easily when I am doing certain exercises such as yoga and Pilates. This is probably because my senses and attention are focused on coordinating the body movements but not the hungry signal from my body. Therefore, exercise is a good way to burn my calories and suppress my appetite to prevent overeating at the same time.

Having said that, it is also important to satisfy our cravings from time to time. The key is to not develop a habit of overeating as this can lead to undesired consequences on our health such as obesity and diabetes. Our demand for food also changes with our age and body condition. Therefore, it is good to consciously check in with ourselves every time how much food is truly needed by our body.

 

With love,
Wei Li

I tried a pure Sattvic diet for 4 days and this is what happened

What is the Sattvic diet? 

Yogic diet builds on the principles of purity, bringing inner peace to the body and mind. Food is being classified into 3 categories – Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic (refer to illustration below). The aim of my 4 days experiment was to explore if diet can really affect my energy and mood. 

What did I eat? 

Admittedly I’m not very creative with my food choices so my diet largely consisted of the similar few ingredients. (also did my grocery shopping in bulk) 

 

Changes – and my attempt at some scientific explanations 

During this week, I just ate as much Sattvic food as I liked without counting my calories. However, based on the food that I’m eating, it’s highly likely that I’m in a caloric deficit, which brings me to my first change observed. 

(Note: all other physical activities remained largely similar as per previous weeks) 

 

Weight loss 
  • This wasn’t part of the aim that I set out for this experiment but it was obvious enough to talk about. I did receive some comments on the noticeable change in my appearance by my siblings. That said, as with other conventional diets, typically the first few days of weight loss would be the loss of water mass. Unfortunately I did not measure my body fat % hence unable to drill into the details of whether the weight loss was from fats or water or muscles. In terms of hunger level, I did not let myself starve at any point of these 4 days as I would just snack on some fruits or nuts if I were feeling a bit hungry. For people who are set out to lose weight, this diet would help as you can remain full throughout the diet. However, one downside would be the food choices and flavor options. My meals were very lightly seasoned and my sweet palate was satisfied but not my savory palate. (Random note: I realized there are a lot of naturally sweet fruits/vegetables but not naturally savory ones, potato was the closest that I could find to being savory – please do let me know if you have recommendations.)
Energy level 
  • On a typical day with my normal diet, my battery would be drained towards mid-day, especially after lunch. However, I did observe my energy remaining relatively constant throughout the day. This is likely due to the nature of Sattvic food being natural which doesn’t spike our blood sugar level after meals as compared to highly processed food. [1] https://www.levelshealth.com/blog/can-controlling-my-glucose-levels-give-me-more-energy
Mood 
  • It’s not my first trying out different diets, but given my experience with highly restrictive diets, my mood was not very good. After all the old saying goes: “A hungry man is an angry man.” Hence I was very skeptical stepping into this diet given that Sattvic food was supposed to keep the mind pure and calm. I did feel pretty calm throughout these 4 days and my mind wasn’t always filled with what to eat next (since it’s pretty much the same few things). I struggle to find a scientific explanation for this so you can try it out on your own and share with me your thoughts. 
Fitness performance
  • This also wasn’t part of the aim I set out for but on the last day of the diet I tried to do some pull-ups and I could do 5 consecutively. Was a shock as the last I tried was only 2 (but it was quite some time ago). So after resuming my normal diet (at point of writing this), I went again to try doing some pull-ups and I can now do about 3-4. I’m attributing this to the diet, but also note that the performance could fluctuate based on a lot of other factors. Again, it’s for you to try and find out. 

Conclusion 

Before I started this diet, I entered with a “I’ll do this for 4 days and never again” mindset. I also shared this plan with my family and comments I got were: “it’s not sustainable”, “it’s too restrictive”, etc. However, after completing the 4 days, I actually would want to continue with this diet given the changes that I’ve seen above, but I would not go 100% Sattvic as it’s really too restrictive and not very socially friendly. In addition, my sister is also now convinced to try out the diet (which speaks volume from my 4 days experiment). Branching from this, I would also like to experience more into diets fit for my dosha and feel the difference.

For all of you who has read this article, I urge you to try this diet and if possible, share with me your experience! 🙂 

Benefits of Aloe Vera (Internal & External)

Well, we all know that Aloe Vera is widely used in skin care products. It has therapeutic qualities and has been used for many centuries by Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Chinese, Indians. Aloe Vera does not belong to cactus family because of its fleshy long leaves have thorns. They belong to the family of Lilies. There are around 250 species of Aloe Vera. They grow almost anywhere in the world as they do not require special conditions to be cultivated. They can even absorb moisture from the air to survive.

Aloe Vera is called ‘Kumari‘ in Sanskrit, which means ‘young girl‘. The name is given because it is believed that the properties of this plant gives the woman their youth. Despite of its name, even men will benefit from this plant’s medicinal properties. 🙂

 

         

 

How many of us consume them at least once in a while?

Not many of us consume them on a regular basis because of its bland taste. Soft drinks uses pulp of Aloe Vera leaves.

                   

 

Originally, it has pure bitter taste and the Ayurvedic medicine places this plant under Sattvic foods. This plant is suitable for all dosha types – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. When it is used for intake, it is has tremendous and beneficial effect on our digestive system. It can be consumed in the form of juice or pulp.

 

SOME OF THE MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF ALOE VERA:

  • Has antibacterial and antifungal properties
  • Benefits and improves the function of the digestive system
  • Heals skin problems
  • Detoxifies our digestive system and improves function of our kidneys, liver and gallbladder
  • Stimulates the white blood cells production in our body
  • Strengthens our immune system
  • It is a very useful nutritional supplement for patients before and after surgery
  • It maintains good pH of our stomach
  • Hydrates and strengthens our hair and scalp
  • Reduces cholesterol level
  • Improves heart function

and it is capable of having many more healing properties.

They play a wide role in Ayurvedic medicine treating skin allergies and also Leprosy. The leaves of this plant contains phytoconstituents that aids antiallergic actions.

 

RECIPE:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Buttermilk
  • Salt (to taste) / Sugar

I would recommend that we take some time to cut the leaves fresh from the plant, cut the pulp into cubes and eat with buttermilk immediately after washing the pulp thoroughly many times. We do not have to consume the latex which is the very bitter part of the leaves. They can be used for the skin and hair. Aloe Vera leaves can be cut fresh as shown in the picture below for consumption in the early morning. It would benefit us immensely if we intake once in a week.

 

                             

 

IMPORTANCE OF CONSUMING THEM FRESH:

We know that some items we find in supermarkets today might have been prepared a few weeks or months ago. During this process, nutrients are lost to a certain level. If we straight away bring the food from soil to our plate, the nutrients lost are much lesser.

It is a very good indoor plant that can be air purifier and also used for decoration purpose. Aloe Vera’s specialty is that these plants release oxygen at night while absorbing carbon dioxide thus purifying the quality of air. The plant does not need pampering and regular watering which results in easy maintenance.

Healthy Diet

 

KETOGENIC DIET & SATTVIC DIET

 

Photo sources: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vegetarian-diet-plan

 

Ketogenic diet also known as Keto diet. Which is an eating plan focuses on food that provide healthy fats, adequate amount of protein and very few of carbohydrates. Keto diet promoted for its powerful effects on weight loss and overall health. Though often associated with animal foods, this way of eating can be adapted to fit plant-based meal plans — including vegan diets. Vegan diets exclude all animal products, making it more difficult to eat low-carbowaxes, with careful planning, vegans can reap the potential benefits of a ketogenic diet.

 

Sattvic diet is a based-on foods that contain one of the three yogic qualities (guna) known as sattva. In this system of dietary classification, foods that decrease the energy of the body are considered tamasic, while those that increase the energy of the body are considered rajasic. A sattvic diet is sometimes referred to as a yogic diet in modern literature. Sattvic diet can also exemplify Ahimsa, the principle of not causing harm to other living beings. This is one reason yogis often follow a vegetarian diet. A sattvic diet is a regimen that places emphasis on seasonal foods, fruits if one has no sugar problems, nuts, seeds, oils, ripe vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and non-meat-based proteins. Dairy products are recommended when the cow is fed and milked appropriately.

 

Benefits of Keto diet

  • Support weight loss
  • Improves ache
  • Reduce risk of certain cancel
  • Reduce blood sugar and insulin level

 

Benefits of Sattvic diet

  • Easily digestible
  • Support weight loss
  • Least lifestyle disorders
  • Reduce chronic disease risk
  • Better immunity system

 

What food you should eat in Keto diet:

  • Fats: Butter, avocado, macadamias, walnuts, almonds, coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, animal fats, lard and etc.
  • Protein: Meat, eggs, fish, seafood, beancurd and etc.
  • Fiber: vegetable with minimal carbohydrate, low sugar fruits and etc.
  • Snack: Greek yogurt, fish skin, blueberry, walnuts, dark chocolate and etc.
  • Drink: Plain coffee, Plain tea, plain water, lemon water and etc.

 

What food you should avoid in Keto diet:

  • Processing food: hotdog, fish ball, can, luncheon meat, instant noodle.
  • Low quality fats: Peanuts, Margarine and etc.
  • Fiber with high carbohydrate: Sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, taro, barley, red bean, green bean and etc.
  • High sugar contains fruits: durian, banana, mango, grapes, pear, orange and etc.
  • Snack: potato chips, chocolate, dessert and etc.
  • Drink contain sugar: milk, milo, coffee, bubble tea, fruits juices and etc.
  • Carbohydrates: rice, bread, noodles, oak, potato and etc.

 

What food you should eat in Sattvic diet:

  • Fats: olive oil, sesame oil, red palm oil, flax oil, ghee, walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, unsweetened coconut, flax seeds, etc.
  • Protein: Soybean, chickpeas, quinoa, beancurd and unprocessed daily like milk and cottage cheese and etc.
  • Carbohydrate: organic ricewhole wheatspeltoatmealand barley and etc.
  • Fiber: all fruits, vegetables like cauliflower, spinach, cabbage, celery and etc.
  • Natural sugar like honey
  • Drinks: fresh milk, fresh fruit juice, honey water and etc.

 

What food you should avoid in Sattvic diet:

  • Animal products: seafood, lamb, fish and process dairy product and etc
  • Any processing food: kimchi, can food, biscuit, cake and etc.
  • Pungent vegetables like hot pepper, leek, garlic and onion and etc.
  • Gas-forming foods such as mushroom
  • Hot and spicy food, stimulant foods like laksa, deep fried vegetable and etc.
  • Drinks: Hot coffee, bubble tea, milkshake, soda and etc.

 

Internal cleansing secrets to a healthier and longer live

According to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), the global wellness economy is currently valued at $4.5 trillion with wellness expenditure totalling up to more than half as large as total global health expenditure at $7.8 trillion.

From circadian lighting to circadian diets to apps that utilise timed light doses to crush jet lag, the focus has shifted from sleep to true circadian health. With an avalanche of sleep solutions and a newly sleep-obsessed culture, why do we continue to remain in a sleepless epidemic with around 1 in 3 of us sleeping badly and 1 in 10 having regular insomnia?

Sleep and its impacts on daily peak performance

Research has shown how people are chronobiologically hardwired with genes that make us either night owls or early birds so early risers’ daily peak performance occurs early during the day while the night owls tend to occur later. In an always-on culture, adopting regimes where you would disconnect from devices or TV and dim lights before bed – banishing iPads or phones from the room are simple measures to take to trick your mind that it is bed time. In addition to that, a simple switch in home lighting – from using bright light with short wavelength, blue-light bulb to a dimmer, warmer, longer wavelength bulb with red, yellow, and orange colour spectrums boost melatonin. In fact, technology-enabled equipment such as an app-based home lighting creates flexibility that allows one to set different light schedules for different rooms, switching rooms to a natural setting based on astronomical time and location.

As a recent article in the Atlantic explains, temperature plays a critical role in supporting sleep: we need to be able to lose heat to sleep so being too hot or too cold interferes with this process. Studies have shown that people with sleep disorders sleep longer—and are more alert in the morning—in 16 celsius rather than 24 celsius rooms, and people who sleep in hot environments have elevated stress hormones in the morning. As such, medical experts agree we should sleep in environments somewhere between 10 and 15 celsius rooms.

Diet and its effectiveness on weight loss

For decades, diets have been all about the type of cuisine we consume (from Mediterranean, to Keto diet, etc) but science has revealed that when we eat has profound metabolic and weight loss consequences – this new evidence has been reflected in the rise of intermittent fasting (IF) which typically restricts eating and drinking to an 8-10-hour window a day. Studies have revealed that this form of fasting is very effective for weight loss. We lose weight if we let our insulin levels go down. As the entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat. This metabolic switch from glucose-based to ketone-based energy also increases stress resistance, longevity and a decreased incidence of diseases including cancer and obesity. A new Salk Institute study shows the implications for the diabetes and obesity epidemic: people with metabolic syndrome who limited food and beverage consumption to a 10-hour window for three months saw big improvements in body composition and cholesterol levels.

How then does matching the timing of eating with our circadian rhythms (with light and dark) impact health? More studies suggest that we should be embracing and adopting the terminology of a circadian diet. While intermittent fasting can have people take their first bite (an important cue that impacts other clocks in our organs) way after the light of morning, a body of evidence shows that calories are metabolised better in the morning than evening so synchronising meal times with our circadian rhythms lead to significantly more weight loss and reduce insulin resistance than if you ate the same food without a schedule, concluding that a larger breakfast, a medium-sized lunch, and small dinner drive optimal results.

Home & Environment

In this newly enlightened age, neuroscientists, doctors, and architects are all working hard on nailing the science of circadian rhythm-supporting light – what intensity and colour, at what time, for how long, and for whom because circadian systems differ from person to person – by age, where you live, etc. So for instance, when kids hit puberty, they have their circadian and sleep cycles pushed about two hours later than a typical adult, and while human evolution began near the equator, where daylight hours are consistent, most of us live with ever-shortening and lengthening days, becoming more extreme as we head up or down the poles.

As our home is supposed to be a refuge from the world, where one can relax and recharge, decluttering can help one to feel lighter and more positive. For example, if a stack of unopened mail is a constant reminder of things that one needs to do, starting to tackle that pile is one way to keep the area clutter-free in the future so taking small steps and making changes one at a time is a good way to start a new habit. Research also shows that even short contact with nature is beneficial to our well-being so as little as 3-5 minutes of contact with nature has been linked to reduced stress, reduced anger and a boost in positive feelings. Some of the same effects are seen if we have views to nature or can bring nature into the living space through plants or fresh flowers, aquariums and even fireplaces.

Yoga and its effects of stress on the body

Studies have shown that practicing yoga postures reduce pain for people with conditions such as cancer, auto-immune diseases, hypertension, arthritis, and chronic pain. It improves body alignment resulting in better posture, relieving back, neck, joint, and muscle problems. Additionally, taking slower, deeper breaths improve lung function, triggering our body’s relaxation response and increase the amount of oxygen available to our body – allowing us to increase vitality and strength from head to toe as we enhance our mobility. As with anything, continuous and consistent practicing of yoga allows us to begin to use the correct muscles, and over time, our ligaments, tendons, and muscles lengthen, increasing elasticity, make more poses possible. As our flexibility in the body lends to greater openness in the mind, we gradually become less rigid, less opinionated and more adaptable to ‘go with the flow’. Afterall, improving our posture and stamina allow us to focus better and with a deep sense of inner calm and clarity, that only brings us closer to our inner peace.

 

A Positive Pranic Snack

Living a balanced healthy life, from my point of view, it has to start with the basics in place: food, exercise and sleep. Yoga is key on the excercise front from a physical, spiritual and mental perspective. It is never easy to get all in balance. See if I can help a little on the food front as food is my thing! Especially healthy food is what I love to experiment with and develop new recipes. After learning about positive, neutral and negative pranic food, being really similar to what I practice, I created a positive pranic muffin full of great ingredients that it’s easy to make and practical in our crazy busy daily life.

These muffins are versatile as a nutritious snack or an easy take away breakfast when in a rush. Let me introduce you to these beauties: I call them ‘power muffins’ as they are packed with great goodies: almond, Greek yogurt, honey, flaxseed, chia, blueberries and anything else you feel like really.

Here you have the recipe step by step:

       Preheat oven to 220C. Get the muffin tray ready with the muffins paper cups in.

       Wet ingredients: In a bowl, mix well 180gm of yogurt, 2 eggs, 85gm of almond butter, 75gm honey, and 2 tsp vanilla.

       Dry ingredients: In a bigger bowl, whisk 160gm of oats, 50gm of almond flour, 25gm of  chia, 25gm of flaxseeds, 1 tsp of baking powder, 1/2 tsp of baking soda, 1/4 tsp of salt, and 1tsp of cinnamon until well mixed.

       Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until everything is combined. Add in 100gm of blueberries.

       Fill the muffin paper cups all the way to the top as they will not raise much. Top each with blueberries and sliced almonds.

       Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 220C. Reduce the oven temperature to 175C and bake them for 15 minutes more or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let them cool down and enjoy!

*You can keep them for 3 days in an airtight container or you can freeze them too. 


Ash Gourd – High Prana Food

Ash gourd, also known as Benincasa hispida, winter melon, wax gourd, white pumpkin, and Chinese watermelon, is a fruit native to parts of Southern Asia.

It grows on a vine and matures into a round or oblong melon that’s approximately the same size and color as a watermelon. Immature ash gourd is coated in fine hairs which disappear as the gourd ripens. The exterior color can vary between dark green to a pale gray. Once ripen, the exterior morphs into a powdery ash-colored coating that gives the fruit its common name “ash gourd”.

Ash Gourd comprises 96% water and is very low in calories, fat, protein, and carbs. Yet, it remains rich in fiber and provides beneficial vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and B-complex vitamins such as niacin, thiamine and riboflavin. Ash gourd is also a valuable source of minerals like iron, potassium, zinc, calcium and magnesium.

The taste of ash gourd is very mild, similar to cucumber and therefore can be incorporated into all kinds of soups, stews, salads, smoothies, desserts, juices or eaten raw similarly to cucumber.

It offers various health benefits and has been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. The yogis of India have long regarded ash gourd as one of the most naturally energizing foods due to its high quotient of what yogic science refers to as “prana”, or vital life energy. To retain maximum vital energy, ash gourd should be eaten raw. See my post on Pranic Food

Ash gourd & Yogurt Salad Recipe
Seasoning
Ingredients:
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/2 handful Curry Leaves

Instructions:
Add olive oil in a small pan over medium eat
Add mustard seeds and reduce heat when they start to pop
Add curry leaves and stir until they are crispy
Set aside

Salad
Ingredients:
– 1 medium size ash gourd
– 200g plain yogurt (milk or plant based)
– Handfull of coriander leaves
– Salt and pepper

Instructions:
– Wash and peel ash gourd, remove part with seeds and grate finely (squeeze out water)
– Mix ash gourd, yogurt, seasoning and salt & pepper to taste
– Wash and chopped coriander leaves and decorate

Bon Appetit

Pranic Food

In yogic philosophy, Prana which is a Sanskrit word that has a number of interpretations in English, including “life force,” “energy” and “vital principle” is also known as Chi or Ki in other traditions. All living beings have the innate ability to absorb and utilize Prana to sustain life. Food or Eart is one of the 3 sources of Prana with Air and Sun.
In order to extend and improve our energy and therefore our health and wellness we can take a look at how food is categorized in yogic and ayurvedic principles and integrate it in our daily life.

In yogic and ayurvedic principle, the food is categorized as following:
1. Positive pranic food
2. Neutral pranic food
3. Negative pranic food

1. The positive pranic food
When positive pranic food is consumed it adds prana and therefore increase the pranic energy, vital energy into our system.
List: Ash Gourd (Winter melon), Lemon, Honey, Coconut, Nuts and seeds, Raw and dried fruits, Ripe vegetables, Sprouted grams, Legumes (peas, beans, lentils, etc.) and Cereals (rice, buckwheat, barley, millet, oats, teff, spelt etc.)

2. Neutral pranic food
When neutral or zero pranic food is consumed, it neither adds nor takes away pranic energy. It is only eaten for taste.
List: Potato and Tomato

3. Negative pranic food
When negative pranic food is consumed, it takes away prana from the system. It stimulates us on a nervous level but it takes away our vital energy.
List: Garlic, Onion, Asafoetida, Chili peppers, Eggplant, Vinegar, Cacao, Cocoa, Coffee, Tea, Alcohol, Tobacco and other stimulants and intoxicants

Some of the negative pranic foods have medicinal properties and they need to be used as a medicine and should not be part of our daily diet as it may result in health issues in the long term.

The optimum way to consume the food is opting for vegetarian food in its raw form ou sprouted. They are easy to digest and pass through our digestive system within 3-6 hours.
Some of the vegetarian food have to be cooked but nowaday we tend to over cook them killing all the digestive enzymes which make them hard to digest. It takes vegetarian cooked food between 18 to 24 hours to pass through our system. In addition we don’t feel comfortable.
Non-Vegetarian have no prana as it left the animal when it is killed. In addtion, non-vegetarian foods develop inertia in the body as it takes about 32 to 48 hours to pass through our system

Daily food choices are essential to support energy levels and ways of being. Considering all the above consciously helps promote holistic health.