Ayurveda Lifestyle Hacks by Certified Ayurveda Wellness Coach & Ayurvedancer
Nandini Natasha Austin
Namaste and Welcome to this month's edition of Poise your monthly Ayurvedic Living Magazine. Pronounced 'puaz' which translates to the word 'balance' in French. Using Ayurvedic wisdom, we believe that everyone can maximize their health and vibrancy at any age and regardless of their health history. With a balanced diet, effective exercise for the mind, body, and soul, embracing the outdoors, and a positive outlook, you stay younger for longer, inside and out, and live life to your highest potential.
Photo Credit Nandini Austin - in my garden in Olivebridge New York
In this edition, we are celebrating the month of April, a time of renewal, rebirth, and reflection. Perhaps are feeling stuck in old habits or a sense of direction? or maybe you are filled with optimism, hope, and the birthing of ideas, dreams, and visions? Whatever you are feeling, you are not alone. As winter finally loosens its grip, it's a time for us too to become unstuck in our thoughts, behavior, and patterns, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Check out this month's issue where we share some Ayurveda tips to keep agile and balanced in April and beyond. From a simple breathwork exercise to practice daily to a Mindful Mauritian Inspired Curry made with healing nourishing spices.
AGILE is marked by the ready ability to move with quick easy grace.
Photo Credit Nandini Austin - Olivebridge
April in the Ayurveda world is considered a Kapha season. People who are susceptible to allergies may feel the effects of Kapha in the chest as the first spring flowers poke their tiny heads above the dirt and the flowers begin releasing pollen.
When the Kapha dosha becomes aggravated, mucus increases, leading to colds and problems with sinus congestion, allergies, and asthma. Being a Brit I never knew The English word "cough" comes from the Sanskrit word Kapha. So to help keep Kapha in balance, try these life hacks below :
#1. Make it a Mindful Morning
In Hindu philosophy the time before sunrise around 4-6 is called Brahma murhta- which translates to 'time of god. For years saints and sages have been mediating in the early morning because there is less charge and bustle. Let's face it we are no sages, but in a world that's moving too fast, if you can get up early, then savor this precious time. No one is calling you, texting, or DM'ing you. So use it wisely.
Early morning is regarded as being the most conducive for creating a connection with our deepest inner nature and consciousness. It coincides with Vata time where the atmosphere is infused with lightness and clarity, which helps us to more easily awaken.
Yet, if the thought of meditation scares you, try this simple meditation called 'Listen' from of my favorite philosophical entertainers Alan Watts. Listen a few times as it won't sink in straight away And if you simply can't meditate don't worry, try some simple stretches see below and or Yogic breathing exercises just do anything that calms you and soothes your soul. Whatever you do, don't jump into your inbox or to-do list straight away.
Try these simple breathing exercises to calm to refresh you.
Start with both hands by your heart. Take a slow deep breath in, then as you exhale, extend one hand downwards with your palm facing the floor and one hand upwards with your palm facing the sky until both arms are at full extension.
Pause for a moment and then inhale, as you bring your hands back to the center, and then exhale and push them apart with the opposite hand going upwards. Repeat the exercise nine to 10 times while taking deep breaths.
# 2. Eat your biggest meal at lunch
In the old days, people used sundials to tell the time, but did you know that you can also tell the rate of your digestion from the sun? Yes because Ayurveda uses the cycles of nature the elements, and the circadian rhythms of life to create harmony in our bodies, the sun plays a huge part in our digestion.
Many of my Ayurveda clients come to me for weight loss and I explain,
'"The old adage you are what you eat, is no longer relevant, instead, it is what you 'digest.'"
Undigested food sitting in the stomach is one of the main reasons for the build-up of 'Ama' (toxins) in the body that lead to obesity and disease.
So why make lunch the main attraction? Well imagine that behind your belly button lives your digestive fire, otherwise known as your “Agni” (in Sanskrit.) Did you know your digestive fire correlates with the sun's movement and energy? Yes, it does.
In the morning as the sun rises, your digestive fire is just starting, so you might add some light kindling ( a light breakfast) to get it going. As the sun peaks from noon - 2 pm, that fire is roaring nicely now and so is your digestion, so it's time to add those larger pieces of fuel ( food) that will burn effortlessly.
Therefore plan to eat your biggest meal of the day at lunch, when the digestive fires are naturally at their peak. As the sun goes down, so does your digestive fire.
Now imagine as it gets darker and the sun sets, your digestive fire is almost out, so why throw a big log on late in the evening? The fire will have to work harder to get that fire going again, and that's like expecting your body to digest a big meal during the slower sluggish Kapha times from 6 - 10 in the morning and evening when digestion is weaker.
Compounding this with being less active means there is a good chance undigested food will sit in your belly overnight and the body will have to work harder to remove it, diverting precious energy away from other bodily functions.
#3. Get curried Away with a conscious chicken curry
Photo Credit - My chicken curry @ JudithRaeNYC
At this time of year to warm up your internal system, eat spicy-cooked foods to help promote digestion. So get 'curried away' with my favorite chicken curry see my recipe here made from wholesome ingredients. It includes warming spices such as ground coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, ginger, turmeric, and curry powder.
I also add a few curry leaves that have antibacterial qualities and fight harmful microbes to keep colds at bay. And if the thought of making a curry is daunting to you, then come join me at my' Curry in a Hurry' a simple one-pot dish cooking class this month in Kingston.
The best ‘you’ is the one that is well-nourished and fueled. How you feel on the outside begins with how good you feel on the inside.
4#Stay Active and Agile in April
Spring is a good time to ramp up your exercise routine as once Kapha energy is energized it brings great strength and endurance. Try something new yet fun as you may find your initial resistance will turn into exhilaration.
In my private one one dance sessions, I use fun Belly dance-inspired moves like standing hip circles. This helps loosen the lower back and hip muscles and strengthen the core, and trim the waist. Exercise should be enjoyable and not a chore and I find that these simple stretching movements keep us supple, agile, and flexible.
Hip Circles Instructions
Stand straight with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Bend the knees slightly and place your hands on the hips.
Slowly rotate your hips, making big circles.
Complete a set in one direction and then switch to the opposite direction.
Hip circles are also great for relieving stress and tension and improving your flexibility and keeping your mojo flowing. Once Kapha energy is energized it brings great strength and endurance. To vary it up, you can also do these sitting on a yoga ball.
# 5. Savor a Sunset
My favorite part of the day is sunset. You'll find me dancing on my deck watching the sun go down. Even when we lived in Brooklyn, I made it a point to catch the sunset whenever I could, from our 6th-floor apartment, overlooking the Verizano Bridge.
Photo Credit Nandini Austin: View from my back garden.
For years I thought I was alone in my obsession to watch the sun go down, but did you know there is an actual word for this spiritual addiction? Yes someone who loves the sunset is called an Opacarophile. It derives from two words, 'opaque' which is Latin for dusk or sunset, and 'phile' which is Greek for love so it means sunset lover.
Studies have shown that sunsets have a profound mental effect on the brain and this effect often lasts long after the color has faded. That’s one reason the attraction of sunsets is so instilled in humans.
Environmental psychologists have argued that there is a valuable component added to the human-nature relationship. By staying close to nature, we feel more grateful and appreciative of what it has to offer us (Proshansky, 1976).
Sunsets also affect our mood as they induce calm, reduce stress and relax us. Looking at the sunset, I feel so much gratitude, like I am paying homage to Mother Earth, and thanking the sun for its daily gifts reminds me to return to a more mindful way of living. Ps One of my favorite movie clips of a sunset is here - it's in Carlitos way, but forward to the five min mark to avoid seeing the gruesome ending :)
Photo credit Nandini Austin - Southampton NY - Happy days
''For a second you forget your separateness: you are the sunset. That is the moment when you feel the beauty of it. But the moment you say that it is a beautiful sunset, you are no longer feeling it; you have come back to your separate, enclosed entity of the ego. "
So there you have it, a few simple Ayurveda nuggets of wisdom to keep you balanced healthy, and agile this month. As always, I will continue to inspire healthy, mindful living and empower you to make informed decisions about yourself and your future health.
So, take that time, savor that sunset, get to that dance class, and above all......
Live a life in balance!
If you want to learn more about Ayurveda and how it can help you, schedule a free 30-minute Ayurvedic consultation here
Love and Abundance
Live Life in Balance