BY LINDA EGENES

sc00255e8e03You toss. You turn. You count sheep. But still your mind is whirling. For 50 percent of the nation’s population, getting a good night’s sleep is harder than mining gold. Below are ten simple yet powerful Ayurvedic sleeping tips that can help. Researchers have identified lack of sleep as a cause of many significant health issues and high stress levels. Maharishi Ayurveda honors sleep as one of the four pillars of health. And it offers a wide arsenal of tools to improve your sleep—from structuring a more relaxing daily routine to eating the right foods.

It even offers specific advice for solving various kinds of sleep problems. The first problem is the most common: difficulty falling asleep at night. This is caused by Vata imbalance or mental stress. People who toss and turn, unable to fall asleep because their mind is on overdrive, have this issue. It tends to happen to people who are anxious, worried or who have to rush around a lot during the day (sound familiar?). If it takes more than 15 minutes before the sandman visits you at night, you might try one or more of these tips to fall asleep faster and to sleep better in general.

Foods, spices and tips for sleep:

1. Eating more sweet, sour and salty foods helps balance Vata dosha, the mind-body operator that controls mental activity.

2. Eating three warm, cooked meals at the same time every day is recommended.

3. Getting to bed before 10:00 p.m. and rising by 6:00 a.m. is also advised.

4.As much as possible, avoid rushing during the day.

5. You can make your own Poppy-Seed Sleep Aid and eat it one hour before bed:

  • 1 teaspoon white poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coconut powder (fresh-grated if possible)
  • 1 pinch of cumin
  • 1 pinch of turmeric
  • Small amount of organic ghee (clarified butter)


In a small bowl mix the poppy seeds with the coconut powder, adding small amounts of water as you mix until it forms a thick paste, and set aside. Melt the ghee in a frying pan until it turns clear. Add turmeric and cumin and mix well. Remove immediately; simmer without heat until the color and aroma of the spices change slightly. Add to the poppy seed mixture, mix well and let stand five minutes. Add a little salt to taste. Eat one hour before bed for best results.

6. It’s best to avoid watching TV or using digital devices the hour before sleep.

7. Massaging your hands and feet with Rejuvenation Massage Oil before bed also helps.

8. Another suggestion is to use aroma therapy at bedtime. Pure lavender oil or Slumber Time aroma are recommended.

9. Taking Blissful Sleep herbal supplement one hour before bed helps balance Vata dosha and therefore facilitates falling asleep faster. Try Deep Rest to support sleeping deeply through the night. This herbal formula is especially targeted for those who have difficulty staying asleep, waking up in the middle of the night. But it also helps those who have difficulty falling asleep and those who awaken early in the morning after less than six hours of sleep. The herbs in Deep Rest help you to sleep deeply throughout the night — and wake up feeling refreshed, ready to take on the day.

10. Ayurvedic herbal teas can help. The herbs in Slumber Time Tea include Winter Cherry, a powerful adaptogenic that helps stabilize the mind and emotions. Arjuna myrobalans helps calm the emotions. Bacopa Monnieri and Indian Pennywort (Gotu Kola) balance and calm the mind.  Licorice pacifies both Vata and Pitta, and Cardamom is a tridoshic spice good for balancing all three doshas.

You might try adding just one of these habits a week to feel more relaxed during the day and to sink into a happy sleep at night.

Sleep well!

(I originally wrote this blog for the Maharishi Ayurveda Blog [MAPI], May 7, 2012. Reprinted with permission.) 

Photo Credit: Gerald Ward. Reprinted with permission.

 

BY LINDA EGENES

IMG_7831As more and more Americans work hard to keep the pounds off, an interesting study shows that when you eat is just as important as what you eat.

According to a study  published by researchers at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, mice dropped 40% of their weight just by not eating after 7:00 p.m.

This is a familiar idea for those of us who have been practicing Ayurvedic principles. In Ayurvedic terminology, the daily routine (called dinacharya in Sanskrit. Pronounced ‘dee-na-chari-a’), is structured around basic rhythms of the sun, moon and your body. These rhythms are powerful indeed and good things happen when we respect these natural cycles.

For instance, one of the major principles of the Ayurvedic daily routine is to eat your main meal at noon, when the sun is at its zenith and the digestive fire is strongest inside you. (Another secret to healthy weight: a strong digestive fire, or agni) And a corollary to that is: eat light at night, early in the evening, and allow your digestive system to cleanse and repair itself all through the night while you sleep.

This study is a great validation of the power of these age-old insights, this simple, natural ayurvedic weight loss secret from Maharishi Ayurveda. Sleep is considered a significant period for daily natural detoxing; and Ayurveda has long recommended herbs and other modalities to support ideal deep sleep and strong digestion.

Life in tune with the rhythms of nature has multiple benefits. Healthy weight may just be one of them.

(I originally wrote this blog for the Maharishi Ayurveda Blog [MAPI], May 25,2012. Reprinted with permission.) 

Photo credit: Linda Egenes

lower cholesterol with ayurveda

photo by Linda Egenes

BY LINDA EGENES

Are you one of 98.6 million Americans today who has elevated total blood cholesterol levels? If high cholesterol is left unchecked, you may be at risk for heart disease, stroke, and hypertension.

Right, you may think. I’ve heard all this before—I should eat less fat. Yet according to Vaidya Manohar, a Maharishi AyurVeda health expert, a certain amount of fat is important for keeping the brain and body functioning properly. “Balancing cholesterol may be more a matter of eating the right kinds of fats in the right amounts for your body type,” he says.

Here are five ways to lower cholesterol with Ayurveda.

1. Reduce toxins by eating foods that lower cholesterol. The liver not only produces cholesterol, it’s also part of the digestive system. It’s the place where toxins are screened before they enter the bloodstream. If the liver becomes overloaded with toxins, its functioning can become impaired and toxins can enter the body.

When toxins mix with the fat tissue, it changes the quality of cholesterol. This mixing of toxins with fat tissue is the main cause of high cholesterol. There are two kinds of toxins: environmental and digestive. To avoid environmental toxins, drink pure water, avoid air pollution, and avoid exposure to harmful chemicals. Eat organic vegetables, as these are grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and thus protect the body from toxic overload.

The other kind of toxin is called ama, and is caused by weak or incomplete digestion. To strengthen your digestion, eat fresh whole foods and cooked foods and avoid leftover, processed, canned, or frozen foods. The way you eat also affects digestion—eat your main meal at noon, when digestion is at its peak. Eat lighter at breakfast and dinner. And try eating your meals at the same time every day—your digestion will thrive on a regular routine.

2. Avoid bad fats like the plague. Certain fats are impossible to digest and cause ama. Take the modern invention of trans fats (also known as hydrogenated vegetable oils). These have been formed by adding hydrogen to liquid fats to make them more solid, adding to shelf life and taste. Used in fast foods and most processed foods, they are blamed for rising cholesterol levels. Another kind of bad fat, saturated fats—found in butter, hard cheeses, coconut and palm oils, red meat, and chicken skin—should also be avoided. Difficult to digest, they cause imbalances in cholesterol production.

3. Eat good fats. The best good fats for nourishing the brain and body alike are olive oil and ghee. Ghee (clarified butter, made from simmering butter for an hour and separating out the milk solids) is by far the ayurvedic favorite, because it is medhya, or brain-enhancing, while also being more easy to digest. Ghee provides essential fatty acids, vitamin A, and vitamin C. It’s also practical—it can be heated at high temperatures without destroying its nutritional qualities. This makes it a good choice for baking and sautéing foods.

Olive oil is the other good fat recommended. It’s a mono-unsaturated fat that lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. But it’s important to choose cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil, which means that the oil is pressed from the olives without heat or unnatural processing. This ancient method of processing doesn’t destroy the nutritional quality of the oil. It’s also important not to heat olive oil at high temperatures for cooking. If you need to heat the oil at higher temperatures, it’s better to use ghee.

4. Eat for your body type. How much fat you need depends on your body type and health needs. For people with high cholesterol, it’s usually recommended to follow a Kapha-pacifying diet and daily routine. This means avoiding sweet, sour, and salty tastes. Stay away from heavy, fried, or fatty foods, and eat very small amounts of good fats. Eat more pungent, bitter and astringent foods, such as spiced, freshly cooked green vegetables, to tone the digestion and stoke the digestive fire.

Cholesterol Lowering Spice Mixture

3 parts ground turmeric 6 parts ground cumin 6 parts ground coriander 6 parts ground fennel 2 parts ground fenugreek 1 part dried powdered ginger 1 part ground black pepper

Combine and store in a sealed container. When preparing your meal, sauté a teaspoon of spices in a small amount of a   ghee or olive oil. Combine with vegetables or grains to give them a satisfying flavor and to enhance digestion.

5. Take herbal supplements. Specific formulas used to lower cholesterol naturally help improve bile production, strengthen liver function, improve fat metabolism, and flush cholesterol from the elimination system, thus helping produce lower cholesterol levels and preventing disease.

(I originally wrote this article for The Iowa Source, September 2009. Reprinted with permission.)

BY LINDA EGENES

IMG_0108Americans spend millions every year on expensive power bars and shakes to power up sagging energy levels or to replenish themselves after a workout.

If you’re spending your money on power bars, you might want to consider a different approach. Power foods are not a modern invention—Ayurveda has long recognized certain foods as natural but serious energy-boosters. The list includes fresh organic fruits, vegetables, spices, and whole grains. These foods are rich in chetna, a Sanskrit word for the healing and nurturing intelligence of nature. They are foods so lively with nature’s intelligence and purity that fatigue-causing toxins are less likely to accumulate in your body when they’re eaten.

The Secret Power of Ancient Grains

Athletes have long relied on the carbohydrates and proteins in grains for long-term endurance and energy. Yet not all carbohydrates are created alike. A croissant, for instance, is high in fat and low in nutrition. The most nutritious carbohydrates are whole organic grains, which have been found to support healthy cholesterol and blood glucose levels and promote a healthy immune response.

Maharishi Ayurveda considers organic rye, quinoa, amaranth and millet the most nutritious, because they are especially high in protein and minerals. They are also high in fiber, and because of that have a detoxifying value. These are the same auspicious grains that are described in the ancient Ayurvedic texts.

One-half cup of amaranth (measured dry), for instance, contains 14 grams of protein, 8 mg of iron, and also magnesium and zinc. The same amount of quinoa contains 13 grams of protein, 9 mg of iron and 3 mg of zinc. Rye is also high in protein, with one-half cup yielding 15 grams of protein and 4 mg of zinc. Millet is a good source of B vitamins. As mentioned earlier, all of them also contain carbohydrates that fuel your body for activity.

All of these grains contain copper, which is an essential trace mineral that improves energy and immunity, and their zinc content also boosts ojas, the finest product of digestion that creates lightness, inner energy, immunity and bliss.

How to Cook Power Grains

To prepare quinoa, rye, amaranth or millet, place two cups of water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add a teaspoon of organic ghee and one cup of the grain. Boil for ten minutes andthen lower to a simmer. The grain-to-water ratio is two cups of water to one cup of grain. Cook until the grain is tender (usually 20-30 minutes is enough).

High-Energy Fruits and Vegetables

Other high-energy foods include fresh organic vegetables, which should constitute forty percent of the meal. Green, leafy vegetables are especially high in minerals and fiber, so they should be eaten often.

Fruits are another great source of instant energy. You can start the day with a stewed apple, and if you feel hungry in between meals, try snacking on a ripe juicy pear. If you are feeling heavy and bloated after lunch, eat a fresh papaya as they contain enzymes that aid digestion. If you have strong digestion and more Pitta in your constitution, mangoes are a rich ojas-producing food. Half a mango contains 2 mg of beta-carotene and is a rich source of Vitamin C.

According to Maharishi Ayurveda, grapes (or their dried counterpart, raisins) are among the best of fruits because they enhance sattva (purity), pacify the mind and heart, and increase the coordination between them. They are also a rich source of iron and Vitamin B6, and provide magnesium, calcium, zinc, and potassium. Raisins aid digestion and elimination when they are soaked in water overnight. One handful per person is a good amount. Nature’s massive source of Vitamin C and rejuvenation is Organic Premium Amla Berry. Every athlete should consider taking this incredible Ayurvedic herb. It contains five of the six tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, astringent and pungent. The only taste missing is salty. These five tastes give it a holistic, balancing effect on the doshas. Very few fruits have this quality. Amalaki is also a great Rasayana, revered in the Ayurvedic tradition. Rasayanas are the cream of Ayurvedic herbal substances, and have remarkable longevity-enhancing and rejuvenative qualities. Rasayanas also create ojas—the master biochemical of beauty, immunity and connectivity—in the body.

Date-Milk Energy Shake

A Date-Milk Energy Shake is a nourishing way to end the day, because it promotes sleep and calms both Pitta and Vata sleep imbalances.
4-5 whole dates (Medjool dates are ideal. If you use large Medjool dates, one or two is more than enough.)

1 cup whole organic milk (unhomogenized if possible)
1 pinch cinnamon powder

Soak the dates for several hours. Boil the milk until it creates a foam. Turn off the heat and cool until the temperature is comfortable for drinking. Combine the milk with the other ingredients and blend until the dates are ground up. Drink it warm in winter and at room temperature in summer.

Foods that Drain Your Energy

Just as there are foods to boost energy, other foods drain it. Any fast foods as well as canned, frozen, packaged, leftover, or old foods—or foods laced with preservatives, chemicals, and additives—are difficult to digest and contain little nutritional content.

If you do eat some of these foods, and you feel heavy after eating, drink half a glass of water with 1/4 of a fresh lime squeezed into it. Or eat a tablet of Herbal Di-Gest to aid digestion. If you feel occasional indigestion or heartburn, try Aci-Balance, as it works quite quickly.

But if you’re feeling dull, sluggish, and drained of energy every day, it could mean that your diet contains too many energy-draining foods, which have clogged your microcirculatory channels with toxins, called ama in Ayurveda. This is an opportunity to upgrade your diet to include delicious foods that create more ojas and energy.

Adding Ayurvedic spices to your food is an easy way to increase the value of chetna, or nature’s intelligence. Try sautéing cumin, coriander, fennel, and turmeric in ghee, then combine with sautéed or steamed vegetables or cooked grains. Or add spices to your drinking water to boost your energy. The important thing is to eat foods every day that boost your energy, rather than relying on artificial boosters when you feel your energy sag. Try Organic Churnas specifically formulated to pacify Vata, Pitta or Kapha doshas.

Your body is a magnificent expression of engineering and has the potential to generate all the energy you want. Toxins are a big impediment in this regard. That’s because circulation goesbeyond veins and arteries to minute channels that supply nutrients and energy for all the billions of cells in your body. When these channels are clogged with digestive impurities, then fatigue can set in.Top of FormBottom of Form Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus)is a revered traditional Ayurvedic digestion-toning formula usually taken daily before bed. Organic Digest Tone balances the digestive fire, called agni in Sanskrit. Agni represents the transformative intelligence of digestion. It is a process of great importance in the Ayurvedic health model because it is linked to immunity, beauty, energy and detoxification. Balanced digestion reduces ama, or toxins, increases ojas, the finest byproduct of digestion and aids your ability to assimilate nutrients from any other supplement or food. Fatigue Free is another product that helps you recover your energy. It is a combination of Ayurvedic herbs and minerals that help move ama out, reestablish the flow of energy and quickly support the building of new cells.

Cumin-Mineral Water

Prepare this Cumin-Mineral Water drink at home to promote your energy and digestive power.
1 quart water
1/4 tsp. whole cumin
1/3 tsp. whole fennel
2 pinches of licorice
1 tablet Calcium Support 

Boil the water first. Place it in a thermos and add the spices. Sip the water throughout the day to promote digestion and support your energy. If you are a Pitta constitutional type, you may want to let the water cool to room temperature before drinking.

Enjoy!

(I originally wrote this blog for the Maharishi Ayurveda Blog [MAPI], October 18,2012. Reprinted with permission.) 

BY LINDA EGENES

qm2According to the American Pain Foundation, an estimated 50 million Americans suffer from persistent pain each year. Second only to the common cold as a cause for sick leave, it is said to be the most expensive health problem today, with costs estimated at higher than $100 billion. A hallmark of many chronic conditions, pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.

While pain killers might offer relief, many have been taken off the market due to harmful side effects. Worse, pain medications don’t fix the problem that caused the pain in the first place. In fact, research shows that at least half of those who suffer from chronic pain do not find relief with medication. No wonder Americans are turning in droves to alternative therapies to deal with chronic pain. Some have found relief with a treatment known as Maharishi Vedic Vibration TechnologySM (MVVT), a non-medical approach for enlivening the body’s inner intelligence to heal chronic pain and underlying chronic disorders.

Take Michael Yankaus. The surf-industry graphic designer suffered a whiplash injury when another driver didn’t notice a stop sign and rammed his car from the rear. “It caused severe headaches, and restricted neck rotation over the next 9 years, and even though I went through physical therapy and used extensive Yoga practice to help heal it, nothing really helped,” he says.

The headaches and neck pain continued until Michael signed on for three MVVT treatments (for headache, whiplash, and a frozen shoulder resulting from surfing in cold-water wetsuits over a period of years).

“During the treatment, the pain in my shoulder evaporated,” he said. “Within three weeks, my posture had changed, and I noticed a tremendous fluidity and youthfulness in my upper body.”

Soon the headaches and neck pain disappeared. Within six months, Michael’s nine-year injury ordeal was over. “I actually felt better than I did prior to the injury,” he says.

Maharishi Vedic Vibration Technology -MVVT

Your Body Is a Wave Function

Maharishi Vedic Vibration Technology is a healing modality from the Vedic tradition, which is described as the oldest system of knowledge in the world.

Brought to light by Maharishi in recent years, it can be thought of as both ancient and modern, because it comes from an ancient tradition yet can be understood from the perspective of modern quantum field theory. For example, in quantum field theory, all matter, including the human body, is understood to be a complex waveform, the sum total of many smaller waves or vibrations. And all fluctuations and frequencies in creation—including the human body—have their basis in one fundamental field, which physicists call the unified field.

Similarly, the Vedic tradition describes all phenomena as vibrations of an underlying field of unity. You could say that from both these perspectives, health is a state in which the waveforms that comprise the individual are in balance. Conversely, disease is an aberration in those fundamental frequencies.

This gets to the heart of the matter. The MVVT treatment uses traditional Vedic sounds to restore normal wave functioning to frequencies that are out of balance. Deep in the cultured silence of their own conscious awareness, the Vedic experts quietly whisper Vedic sounds traditionally used for a specific complaint. They then apply the vibration to the person by gently blowing on the involved area. The wave function of the imbalanced area returns to normal, and the pain or disease disappears.

With this simple technique, thousands of people have received significant and lasting relief from health problems ranging from chronic back pain to asthma to migraine headaches. The Vedic sounds awaken the body’s self-repair mechanisms, often bringing relief to the disease and its symptoms on the spot. The program has been equally effective with emotional disorders.

And because Maharishi Vedic Vibration Technology alleviates chronic pain and disease by enlivening the experience of wholeness, which is at the basis of both good health and enlightenment, it offers something to healthy people as well. They can take advantage of special MVVT techniques to enhance experiences during meditation, or to create a greater sense of calm even when facing great responsibilities, thus speeding them on their spiritual path.

Preliminary Research

All of this would sound like interesting theory, except for the anecdotal evidence of thousands of people who have found relief through MVVT—and the findings of preliminary research.

The first research, a double-blind randomized controlled study conducted in Germany, Holland, and France, tested the effectiveness of a single session of MVVT in 176 individuals with peripheral arthritis, spinal disease and rheumatoid arthritis. In the group receiving the MVVT technique, one third of the patients experienced 100 percent relief from pain, one third had greater than 60 percent relief, and one third reported less than 60 percent relief. In addition, more than half the patients experienced 60 percent improvement in range of motion.

These results were published in the journal Frontiers of Bioscience. Since then, researcher David Scharf, Ph.D., has collected and analyzed 30,000 patient self-reports from MVVT participants who have found relief for a wide range of chronic disorders, ranging from chronic pain to insomnia to depression. These findings indicate that patients experienced more than 45 percent relief in just three sessions for chronic disorders that had lasted an average of 14 years. Two-thirds of the patients reported from 25 to 100 percent relief, including 6 percent who reported 100 percent relief. The average improvement for all disorders was about 44 percent. These are impressive results by any standards.

Recommended by Doctors

Nancy Lonsdorf, M.D., a practitioner of holistic, integrative medicine and author of The Ageless Woman,regularly recommends MVVT to her patients. “With the recent discovery that common pain medications can increase heart risk, there is a real need for pain relief without toxic side effects,” says Dr. Lonsdorf. “MVVT works at a deep level of mind-body connection to relieve pain and correct the underlying imbalances that cause it. MVVT rebalances the body by strengthening its own healing ability in a natural way. In a sense it’s erasing the memory of pain.”

One of Dr. Lonsdorf’s patients complained of back pain from an accident six years earlier. She had tried surgery, medication, and physical therapy—as well as alternative therapies such as acupuncture and massage—all without relief. Then she came to The Raj Ayurveda Clinic, and Dr. Lonsdorf recommended MVVT. “By the end of her treatment, she experienced 80–90 percent relief,” says Dr. Lonsdorf. “This kind of dramatic and lasting improvement can seem miraculous, but it does happen.”

Thousands of people have reported relief not only from pain but also from a wide range of chronic diseases. One woman suffered from such debilitating allergies that she couldn’t work for several weeks each spring. Since her MVVT treatments, she is allergy-free. Another woman found that her blood pressure, which had averaged 150/90, fell to 120/80 on a daily basis.

Dr. Lonsdorf cautions that, as with any treatment, results are not the same for everyone, but as a clinician she feels that MVVT is definitely worth trying.

“Even though you can’t predict who will receive the greatest results, most participants experience a noticeable improvement in their symptoms,” she says, “and unlike surgery or medication, there are no negative side effects. When something this simple and effortless works, it’s wonderful.”

For more information on Maharishi Vedic Vibration Technology (MVVT), go to www.vedicvibration.com or call 1-800-431-9680.

(I originally wrote this interview for Enlightenment Magazine, Issue number 6. Reprinted with permission.)

BY LINDA EGENES

IMG_0136As Valentine’s Day rolls around, we naturally get involved in matters of the heart. Yet when it comes to strengthening the emotional heart the rest of the year, many of us haven’t a clue.

Maharishi Ayurveda offers a unique view of the emotional heart. Just as there is a digestive fire in the stomach that metabolizes food, there is a similar function that metabolizes emotions. When this metabolic function, known as Sadhaka Pitta, is set too high, it can cause explosive emotions and irrational behavior. When it’s set too low, the person takes a long time to process negative emotions, making it impossible to let go and move on.

The secret to emotional health, then, is to balance the metabolic functions of the heart so you can relate to those around you in a loving, calm, and positive way. And because the emotions affect the body, balancing emotional stress is essential for keeping the physical heart healthy, too.

Here are ten ways to reduce emotional stress the ayurvedic way.

1. When you feel emotionally stirred up, drink a cup of rose petal herbal tea with milk.Roses have long been used to alleviate depression, anxiety, insomnia, and irritability. Milk also has a soothing effect on the emotions, but it’s easier to digest if you heat it to the boiling point first. Add cooling flavor with a pinch of cardamom or a teaspoon of rose petal jam, and let the milk cool before drinking.

2. Eat foods that are especially nourishing to the heart, including mature pomegranate fruit or juice; asparagus; sweet, juicy, seasonal fruits; rose petal jam; sweet yogurt drinks (lassi); avocado; and leafy greens. In general, eat more sweet, bitter, and astringent foods. Rather than eating a lot of seafood or red meat (which increase heat in the body), meet some of your protein requirements with soups made of small legumes, such as lentils or split mung beans.

3. Avoid excessively spicy and acidic foods such as chilies and tomatoes. Use cooling spices to flavor your food, like the Heart Healthy Spice Mixture:

  • 1 part ground turmeric
  • 2 parts ground cumin
  • 3 parts ground coriander
  • 4 parts ground fennel

Mix the spices and store airtight. When it is time to cook the meal, steam the vegetables. Melt a small amount of ghee in the pan and add enough spices to flavor the amount of vegetables you are cooking. Sauté the spices until the flavor is released. Add the vegetables, sauté lightly, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately. Both the weather and the foods you eat can quickly cause an imbalance in your physiology. When it’s hot outside, eat sweet, cooling foods.

4. Exercise every day. This helps keep digestion and elimination regular, cleanses toxins from the body, and releases endorphins, the hormones that are associated with a happy mood. According to Maharishi Ayurveda, it’s better to schedule half an hour of exercise every day rather than overdoing it three times a week. You can vary the intensity and type of exercise depending on your body type and strength. For people who are of slight build and tend to have trouble gaining weight, it’s better to start with gentle exercise such as yoga or walking. For people who are more competitive, team sports will be more appealing. And those with a sturdier build may need to increase the speed and intensity in order to stimulate their slower metabolism and stay in balance.

5. No matter what your body type, avoid overexertion of all kinds—both mental and physical. Working too hard, either physically or mentally, can cause the emotions to go out of balance. Plan leisure time every day, time for pure enjoyment. Listen to music, chat with your friends, take a moonlight stroll. Taking the time to appreciate the tranquil beauty of nature calms the heart.

6. Avoid skipping or delaying meals. This is so important for people who have a high digestive fire and may suddenly feel emotional when they are hungry. One of the best ways to avoid squabbles among the kids on family outings is to simply plan to eat regular meals. Schedule your main meal at noon, when your digestive fire is at its brightest and can metabolize food more efficiently.

7. Massage yourself every day with a cooling oil such as coconut oil. Ayurvedic oil massage releases toxins, improves blood circulation, and can help restore balance to body and mind.

8. Create a home environment that is pleasing and restful to the senses. Avoid watching too much TV at night, especially violent movies or shows. Rose aroma oil creates a soothing atmosphere and a cooling effect on the emotions.

9. Get your rest. Research shows that stress levels (and heart disease) soars among people who habitually stay up late. The body’s metabolic functions naturally shut down around 10 p.m.—so if you stay up and snack it disturbs the heart’s need to rest, recuperate, and cleanse. Try sleeping early two nights in a row and you’ll not only rest deeper, you’ll feel more emotionally balanced, too.

10. Nourish your emotional heart. Make it a point to tell your loved ones  why they are special to you. Practice gratitude and respect with your family and it will soon become a habit, generating the positive hormones and neuro-chemical reactions that create health instead of disease. Remember, your heart health depends more on the feelings you project rather than the feelings you receive.

And remember to take care of your physical heart, too. After all, it’s hard to overflow with love if you are ill. And to protect your heart, make sure your cholesterol levels are healthy, with a proper balance of good and bad cholesterol. February is National Heart Month—a reminder to schedule a checkup. You owe it to yourself and the people you love.

(I originally wrote this article for The Iowa Source, February 2010. Reprinted with permission.)

BY LINDA EGENES

make your healthy New Year's Resolutions stickWe all do it. We make grand resolutions on New Year’s day and break them the next. Yet there are ways to make your healthy resolutions stick. Here are some ideas.

1. Break it into baby steps. Most resolutions involve long-term goals, which can be daunting. If your dream is to get into shape, break it into small steps, like scheduling thirty minutes a day to exercise. According to Maharishi Ayurveda, it’s healthier to engage in mild exercise such as walking every day rather than doing an über-workout three times a week. Signing up for classes in dance, aerobics or yoga helps because once you pay the fee, you’ll feel motivated to show up. You’ll find yourself slimming down without even realizing it.

2. Make your resolutions concrete and action-oriented. Rather than resolving to eat a better diet, plan to eat five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Feel more energetic from eating right today and that success will motivate you to do it all over again tomorrow.

3. Try the one-day-at-a-time plan. If your goal is to feel more rested, choose one night a week to skip TV, engage in relaxing activities like taking a warm bath or listening to music, and get to bed early, by 9:30 pm. Drink a glass of warm milk with cardamom at 9:00 pm to relax your mind and prepare for an early sleep. Create a sleep-conducive atmosphere with Slumber Time Therapeutic Aroma. The pure, organic essential oils of Sweet Orange, Marjoram, Lavender and Jasmine are blended in a precise formula to help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. You’ll make better choices when you wake up rested. And after you establish the habit of one night a week, you can add on another night, and then another.

4. Make it fun! Find an exercise that is appealing to you, and foods that are healthy but tasty too. Join forces with a friend to cook a new recipe in the new year. Take a trip to your local health food store and select fresh, new-to-you ingredients to make a vitamin-filled but delicious meal. Reward yourself with great food shared with great friends.

5. Wish you could effortlessly feel inspired to meet your resolutions? Schedule a detox. It’s easier to spontaneously choose the right foods when your body is free of impurities. It’s also easier to exercise when sluggish toxins aren’t making you feel tired. The most important thing to do is to prevent toxins from forming in the first place. Eating organic, whole foods is the best way to stop toxins in the digestive tract and at the cellular level. You can also improve your elimination system (which carries toxins from the digestive tract out of the body through the bowel and urine) by eating a cooked apple and figs in the morning. Figs have more fiber than any other food. Adding more organic greens and other vegetables to your diet—flavored with detoxifying spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander and fennel—also helps the body eliminate toxins.

BY LINDA EGENES

Back to SchoolWith kids back at colleges and schools across the nation, everyone is wondering how to avoid getting the flu this fall. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 25 to 50 million cases of the flu are currently reported each year—leading to 150,000 hospitalizations and 30,000 to 40,000 deaths yearly. And while health authorities race to develop a flu vaccine for specific strains, they can only advise us to avoid traveling to affected areas and to wash our hands frequently to avoid the spread of germs.

Yet there is so much more that we can do to boost the immune system. In fact, the ancient science of Maharishi Ayurveda specializes in just this area: strengthening the body’s natural defenses. Even now, with this new virus testing our immune systems, there’s time to brush up on flu prevention.

If your body is filled with toxins, infection will find fertile ground for spreading disease, just as land that is fertile will sprout many seeds. Symptoms of the sticky, obstructive toxins that result from undigested food are stiff joints, sluggish digestion, dullness or headaches, and fatigue. If your digestion is strong and there is lightness and strength in your body, then the seeds of infection will not be able to take hold.

Here are five natural flu remedies and tips to boost your immune system.

1. Schedule a fall cleanse. Fall is a season of change—when the warm, humid days of summer are changing to the cool, dry, windy weather of autumn. This fluctuating weather can make our digestion weaker and cause us to fall sick with colds and flu in the fall.

The flu prevention antidote? Avert the danger with a cleanse during the few weeks when the weather is making its transition from summer to fall. Fall cleansing serves two purposes. First, it clears the toxins that have built up in the summer. And because digestive strength tends to fluctuate when the seasons are changing, eating lighter during this transition can actually boost your immunity and help avoid sickness.

Cleansing doesn’t mean that you have to fast for two weeks. It just means eating fresh, easy-to-digest foods that give your digestion a break and help it to process and eliminate toxins. Eat warm, cooked organic vegetables seasoned with spices, rice or whole grains such as quinoa and bulgar wheat, and for proteins favor soupy split-mung dal or other soups made from lentils or small legumes. Light dairy products, such as ghee (clarified butter), whole milk, and lassi (a probiotic digestion-enhancing drink made with water and freshly made yogurt) improve digestion and enhance immunity. Avoid eating cold foods and drinks, fried foods, hard cheeses, and meat during this time. And drink plenty of hot fluids between meals, such as hot water with lemon or herbal, uncaffeinated teas.

Eating lighter will fire up your digestion, eliminate toxins, and raise your immunity quotient. Maharishi Ayurveda also recommends taking a mild herbal laxative, such as senna tea, at night during this two-week cleanse.

2. Flavor your foods with an immune-boosting spice mixture. Mild spices actually boost digestive power and prevent toxins from building up. Here’s a mixture you can make at home.

6 parts turmeric
3 parts ground cumin
3 parts ground coriander
6 parts ground fennel
1 part powdered dry ginger
1 part ground black pepper
1/4 part ground cinnamon

When cooking, measure one teaspoon of the spice mixture in one tablespoon of ghee and heat until aroma is released. Apply this to cooked rice, vegetables, or other dishes. These spices will support your immune system and digestion.

3. Take herbs to assist a cleanse and boost the immune system. Look for herbal formulas that will enhance a deep, gentle detoxification program.

4. Geting plenty of rest is a natural flu remedy. Lifestyle also impacts immunity. Staying up late, working at night, eating at irregular times, and sleeping during the day can all affect the digestion and body rhythms—and thus compromise the immune system. That’s why it’s important to follow the Ayurvedic daily routine, arising early in the morning, before 6 a.m., and retiring before 10:00 p.m. Using essential aroma oils such as lavender and sweet orange can create a calming, peaceful atmosphere conducive to sleep.

5. If you do fall sick, consult your doctor! Stay home, drink plenty of hot liquids, get plenty of bed rest, and follow all of the tips mentioned above to help strengthen you through illness faster with more comfort.

(I originally wrote this article for The Iowa Source, October 2009. Reprinted with permission.)

by Linda Egenes

A build-up of heat in the body can lead to rashes, heartburn, and irritability. Maharishi Ayurveda recommends several ways to stay cool in the heat.

Sun, sea, surf. It’s all part of the idyllic summer. Yet sunny summer brings its own health challenges. According to Maharishi Ayurveda, the hot, humid weather can cause heat to build in the body, resulting in skin rashes, breakouts, heartburn, itchy eyes, and increased susceptibility to sunburn and insect bites—not to mention hotter emotions such as irritability, frustration, and anger.

The hot Pitta dosha is the mind-body element that governs metabolism and transformation in the body, and the time of year when the sun is stronger—from July to October—is called Pitta Season.  Here are ten simple tips to chill and stay healthy this summer.

Cool It

Drink more fresh juices in summer. The four top heat busters: watermelon, lettuce, cucumber, and coconut milk. If you drink one of these several times a day, you’ll notice that the heat won’t bother you as much. Other cooling Pitta drinks: pomegranate, sweet grape, or sweet pineapple juice at room temperature. Stay away from  ice-cold or carbonated drinks, as these stop your digestion. Caffeinated drinks are drying and lead to liver and skin damage.

Between meals, drink cool, milky drinks. Boil the milk first to make it more digestible. Then let it cool to room temperature. Add cardamom or rose water—or blend the milk with dates or fresh mango for flavor that’s as appealing as a milkshake, but much more healthy.

Mango Milk: One fresh peeled and sliced ripe sweet mango, 2 cups of milk, raw sugar to taste, 1/4 teaspoon cardamom. Boil milk and allow it to cool to room temperature. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Makes 2 servings.

Summer Tea: Boil two quarts of water for two minutes. Take it off the heat and add 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, 2 rose buds, and 1 clove. Before drinking, pour it into a cup and let it cool to room temperature.

And don’t forget to drink plenty of pure water—you need it to keep your skin and body hydrated in summer.

Digest It

Summer is a great time to reduce calories—when the heat turns up outside, the body’s internal digestive “furnace” shuts down, so we naturally crave lighter foods. Think light and liquid.

Add cooling foods to your diet: coconut chutney, coconut rice, cous cous salad, baked fennel, fresh dill and cilantro, and any fresh, sweet, juicy fruit. For breakfast, eat an apple boiled with cardamom. Fruits like melons, pears, and grapes, vegetables like broccoli, cucumber, and zucchini, dairy products like milk and ghee (clarified butter), and grains like rice are all excellent choices. Favor sweet, astringent, and bitter foods, as these are cooling. Avoid sour, pungent, and salty foods like sour cream, vinegar, and ketchup, as these are heating.

Summer Spice It

For most of us the word “spice” means “hot.” Yet certain herbs and spices—such as mint, fennel, coriander, anise, licorice, and cardamom—actually cool you down in summer. And adding small amounts of spices such as cumin to your food helps pick up your digestion when the heat has shut it down.

Chill It

In summertime, the livin’ really should be easy. To keep your emotions cool and calm, minimize stress and take plenty of time for rest and leisure. Plan a relaxing summer vacation in a place of natural beauty. Practice meditation to balance mind, body, and emotions.

Smell It

Make a point to walk in cooling gardens and smell the flowers. The sweet scents of summer are cooling to the mind and emotions. Sleep with your windows open to breathe fresh air and enjoy the smells of nature. For aroma therapy indoors, fill your home with fragrant flowers and use cooling rose, jasmine, or sandalwood essential oils.

Soothe It

Slow down, listen to soothing music, chill. If your eyes burn from the heat or long hours at the computer, lie down for 10 minutes with organic rose-water-soaked cotton pads on closed eyes and feel the tension flow away. Splash rose water in your bath, spray your face with rose water spritzer when you feel overheated, and add a drop of rose water to coconut oil for a cooling summer massage. The rose is not only cooling, but it soothes the heart and emotions as well.

Gentle It

Lay off the heavy exercise in summer. Try gentle yoga, walking in the moonlight, and swimming in cool water. Avoid exercising at noon, when the sun is at its peak.

Shade It

Avoid sun exposure, especially at midday. Cover up with sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, and light-colored organic cotton clothing.

Rest It

If you toss and turn in the summer nights, try going to bed before 10:00 p.m., before the Pitta time of night has started—you’ll be amazed at how deep and peaceful your sleep can be. And you’ll wake up early, when the air is cool and fresh.

Rejuvenate It

Ayurvedic herbs can help transform tired cells that have been depleted by the heat. Amla berry is a legendary herb for balancing Pitta dosha and rejuvenating the mind, body, and emotions. Amla and other ayurvedic herbs—such as arjuna, cabbage rose, ashwgandha, nutmeg, and Indian cardamom—help balance inflamed emotions. And for a deep summer’s sleep, Indian valerian, jatamansi, dwarf morning glory, licorice, pearl, mica, and Indian tinospora are ayurvedic herbs for helping you to fall asleep easily and stay asleep through the night.

I originally wrote this article for The Source: July 2010. Reprinted with permission. http://www.iowasource.com/health/2010_07_heat.html

 

 

Raising Healthy Children
April 17, 2012
Super Healthy Kids: A Parent's Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda

Super Healthy Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda

Here is my friend Jane Dean’s book review of  SUPER HEALTHY KIDS: A PARENT’S GUIDE TO MAHARISHI AYURVEDA. Jane  is a writer and former radio host who is the executive assistant to the Director of Maharishi  School of the Age of Enlightenment and mother of two. In the past three years she has traveled to 17 different countries to promote Consciousness Based Education.

Personally, I loved this book.  Everything I learned about Maharishi Ayurveda over 20 years is comprehensively explained in Super Healthy Kids.  I advise you to read it through once and then take another stroll through each chapter (with a marker and some post-it notes). Dr. Reddy and Linda Egenes make a good argument that Maharishi Ayurveda is an effective, sensible and cost effective approach to taking care of children.   It is simple to read for the newcomer to Maharishi Ayurveda.  It is also great for parents who need a reference guide on Ayurveda. Super Healthy Kids is packed with patient’s stories, simple charts and scientific research.  Among its advantages the book has great recipes and a charming bedtime story.

Throughout the book Dr. Reddy tells the stories of her patients, all children, who have benefited from Maharishi Ayurveda mostly with a simple change of diet or a change in daily routine.  The book is, in fact, a text on a complex ancient health care system so it is not light reading.  Dr. Reddy describes how the doshas (the three dominant trends in the human body) emerge from the five elements.  She then elaborates on why each child is a unique individual with a unique health profile.  Dr. Reddy gives a detailed overview of the biology and sequence of digestion and assimilation.  This fascinating but exhaustive detail helps the parent understand the vital role good digestion plays in creating the building blocks that create healthy blood, healthy fat, healthy muscles and healthy bone tissues in a growing child.

Dr. Reddy and I relax together during her visit to Fairfield in June 2011

There are four complete chapters dedicated to the ideal daily routine of a child.  They include bedtime routines, wake-up routines and exercise.  Reddy goes a bit further and explains that a cohesive and peaceful family environment is fundamental.  She backs up her arguments against TV and video games with scientific research on the brain and recommends cultivating a softer, richly stimulating family environment.

Reddy and Egenes give a fresh perspective on the prevention of sickness. They show us how Maharishi Ayurveda health and life style habits create health in childhood and beyond.

 

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