Here’s a confession: part of me has been dreading this summer. It sounds rather awful, I know, but the thought of my kids tearing down the stairs at 7 a.m. demanding my full attention while I try to write one last sentence at my computer and then have a whole entire day laid out before us for which we have to fill, well, it strikes a bit of fear in my heart and stirs up my anxiety.
Yoga-loving families in Metro D.C. learned on Monday that Tenleytown’s lil omm yoga studio is closing its doors at the end of the year, but owner Pleasance Silicki does not want them to have heavy hearts. She is, in fact, really exited about the next phase of life for the community she founded in 2009. Read More
If you’ve noticed a challenge feeling balanced during these busy back-to-school fall months, the wisdom of the ancient healing science of Ayurveda might shed some light on the cause.
Although the seasonal change is subtle, it can have a big impact on the mind and body.
As the seasons transition, our mind and our body also experience a transition, as they adjust to the inevitable changes that nature brings with it. This adjustment period is normal, and vital, but it can also lead to certain imbalances if we don’t manage and ease into the transition.
Autumn is known for the decreasing temperatures, the increasing winds, and the overall instability of the weather. Vata, the air and space energy (or dosha), intensifies during this time, leaving our mind and body dry, cold, and unstable.
In our culture, it is normal to start the bulk of our activities during these months. The kids go back to school, they have more activities (sports, schoolwork, and hobbies).
Your job becomes more demanding with deadlines and objectives. But if you observe nature, you will see that animals actually prepare to wind down and hibernate during the cold months. This anti-nature behavior we adopt actually leads to a lot of imbalances in our mind and body.
Perhaps you have the beginnings of a cold, or maybe you get more frequent headaches and are more moody during this time. Your skin becomes drier, your hand and toes are more sensitive to the cold. All of these things are just a way for your mind/body to adjust to the changing season. Even our cravings change. We crave “comfort” foods like soups, stews, and sweets.
The good news is that our mind and body were designed to adjust to these changes. We just need to “tune in” and manage the adjustment so that it is easy, smooth and
leads to balance. In ayurveda, this management is easy if you apply the simple rule of “like increases like”. Because vata is cold, dry, light and mobile (unpredictable, unstable), we have to add warmth/heat, oily/unctuous, and predictable/stability to our lifestyles and diets. If you master this principle, your transition from one season to the next will be a lot easier!
Keep this principle in mind when you prepare the kids’ meals/snacks. Choose grounding foods that are heavy, warm, and sweet like rice, sweet potato, and dairy; avoid raw, cold and dry foods. Download this great vata shopping list.
A great way to cut down/prevent on the colds and sniffles kids get this time of year: dab a Q-tip in warm sesame oil and place in the ears and nostrils daily after their bath. This will not only help to keep the area germ-free, it will also lubricate and nourish the area. If your child is prone to vata-like imbalances (dry cough, change in sleep pattern, constipation), try giving him an oil massage using warm sesame oil; the more often you do this, the better. A few minutes before a bath is best, but you can also do it at bedtime.
Something the whole family can practice during this time of year is savasana, or corpse or dead man’s pose. Lie flat on your back, legs and feet apart, palms up at your side. Breathe and surrender for at least 5 minutes. Guaranteed calm! Drink warm milk with a sprinkle of nutmeg, and enjoy a little quiet time before bed. This will help everyone get a good night’s sleep.
As for the grownups in the house, it is normal to feel less concentration, insomnia, and chronic fatigue with the increase in vata energy. For them, I recommend a wonderful vata-pacifying therapy called shirodhara. It is designed to directly activate the ajna chakra, thereby affecting the mind in a profound way. It provides mental clarity, decreases heart rate, decreases blood pressure, and an overall sense of calm and rest. Most people fall asleep during the treatment!
This treatment, as well as other vata-pacifying techniques, is available at Apurva Ayurveda Healing Center in Falls Church, Virginia.
Lastly, don’t forget to increase seasonal fruits veggies—nature’s way of helping us through this transition. Look to squash and root veggies such as sweet potato. Mmmmm. So grounding and nourishing. Try Monica B.’s recipe from Hey Monica B: A Blooming Resource on Ayurveda for Roasted Root Veggies with Garlic & Rosemary.
- Any mix of root vegetables like butternut squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets
- Olive oil
- Garlic cloves
- Rosemary sprigs
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Chop the root veggies into bite size chunks and place in a pan.
- Drizzle with plenty of olive oil because when cooked it will caramelize and turn extra yummy.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes uncovered
Thanks to Ileana for this guest post! Apurva Ayurveda Healing Center is running a fall special on shirodhara of $105 (regular price $125). Must be used by November 15. Purchases should be made by October 15, but Ileana is extending her special for Mindful Healthy Life readers through the end of October.
What mom couldn’t use some suggestions on how to feel more grounded, calm and peaceful? Craniosacral therapist Sally DiCesare of Your Blissful Journey recently presented a “Create Your Own Personal Oasis” talk to the Arlington/Alexandria Chapter of Holistic Moms Network, and this Thursday, August 21, she’ll be at the group’s August meeting on a panel about Supporting Children’s Emotional Health. Sally will share how craniosacral therapy can be used with children. But she also wants to remind moms that taking care of their own health is paramount in paving the way for family health.
Here’s a guest post by Sally:
“As Moms, we don’t often ask for help. Many times when we do it’s because we are drowning in overwhelm.
But who has time for a break. And kids’ camps, enrichment and sports aren’t getting any cheaper.
How do you get what you need? Because remember, if the well is empty there is nothing to give.
How do you fill yourself, support yourself, so you have something left to give your family?
Fortunately, I’m here with some simple tips to squeeze into your day. Oh, and have your kids join you. They are stressed, too!
Simple Tips from Your Blissful Journey
1. Feeling overwhelmed? Give yourself a hug; an occipital hug.
Remember in the old movies when the man is sitting with his feet propped up on his desk and hands clasped behind his head? Gently place your hands, with fingers intertwined, behind the base of your head, behind your ears, at your occiput. Now just hold your head.
Notice anything? You may feel a pulse. Or take a deep breath or sigh.
This balances your Central Nervous System and is calming and centering.
If I wake in the middle of the night and my mind is working on something so I can’t fall back to sleep, this is my go-to exercise.
2. Home Reflexology while you multitask
Why does a foot massage feel so good? It is known that certain areas of the foot can stimulate organs of the body. So massaging the foot can actually massage and support the organs and systems in the body. When done in a systematic way, this is called Reflexology. How do you multitask while massaging your feet? Use a tennis or racket ball. When you sit down for dinner, take off your shoes and roll the ball under your foot. If an area is tender, continue there till it feels better. Within a few weeks you will notice subtle improvements in the way you feel as your organs and systems respond to the stimulation and support.
3. Bridge to calm
Wake up your internal organs by massaging all the nerves along the spine. This supports all of your body as the nerves innervate all of your organs. Lay on your back on a hard surface such as the floor. Bend your knees so your feet are comfortably close to your buttocks. Slowly curl your back off the floor starting with a pelvic tilt and curl your back off the ground from your pelvis up to your shoulders, one vertebra at a time. Slowly lower your spine from your shoulders to your tailbone. Repeat as often as is comfortable.
4. Instant mood lifter: SMILE.
Yes, I mean it. Just smile. For better results, try laughing.
I took a Laughing Yoga class at Yogaville. What fun! I never knew there were so many ways to laugh or ways laughter expresses emotion.
Like the laughter of surprise at seeing a friend you haven’t seen in years on the street. Or the chuckle over seeing puppies play.
Practice belly laughs will your kids. See if you can come up with a secret family laugh. Imagine how a giraffe would laugh.
Whatever, have fun with it.
Bonus: Close your eyes!
Recover more quickly from illness by resting your eyes as often as possible. Seventy percent of our energy is used by our eyes. Conserve your energy for healing by resting your eyes when home sick by listening to books on tape instead of reading or watching TV.”
For lots of us, Mother’s Day brings more than a bouquet of organic roses; it brings up a lot of emotion about our role as daughter, mother, partner and more. Other than Scary Mommy.com‘s hilarious take on what mothers really want, most of the emails I saw about the day from blogs and businesses were beyond cheery. If I watched commercial TV, I expect I might have been overwhelmed by images of silk and sweets. The richness and complexity of this day often isn’t given adequate space. Read More