Ayurveda and Yoga

Nirmala’s grandfather, an Arya Samaj Hindu Pandit, began teaching her yoga when she was just two years old and entrusted to her ancient Ayurvedic recipes, techniques and treatments to heal the body from within. These simple lifestyle practices were further enriched by Nirmala’s personal research in her native South American jungles, as well as endless discoveries on her many extensive travels around the globe.

Nirmala is passionate about many things and one is teaching, like her grandfather.

In the 1860s, Nirmala’s great-great-grandfather migrated from India to Guyana, South America. He was an Ayurvedic scholar and brought with him valuable Sanskrit sutras and teachings he had inherited from their ancestors. He passed them on to Nirmala’s grandfather, who finally entrusted them to her.

Ayurveda, the science of life, originated in ancient India more than 5,000 years ago. Over the centuries, this natural healing system has profoundly influenced many cultures, including the Greek and Chinese. It has prevented countless diseases and offered millions the key to a healthy and balanced physical, mental and spiritual lifestyle. We will feature all natural homemade Ayurveda recipes that you can make in the comforts of your home; they will help beautify the body, and in doing so, beautify the soul.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means to join or unite. We will spotlight some fun, yet simple, yoga breathing practices and exercises that you can do in the comfort of your home or in the office. When the mind is kept calm and quiet for a long time in Dhyāna (meditation), we unite with ourselves and attain Moksha (salvation). This is the true goal of yoga.
If you are a teacher and would like Nirmala to visit your school for cooking, speaking or yoga classes, please send us an e-mail at info@nirmalaskitchen.com

SPRING CLEANSE, 2012

Ayurveda and Yoga Spring Cleanse for Body, Mind and Soul,

The season of spring celebrates rebirth.

It is a time of budding flowers, the sweet scent of daffodils, and new signs of life. This spring season I will not inform you on how to clean out the old spices from your pantry. Instead, I’d like to share a gift of spring, and that is to clear a path so that the universe we dwell in may renew itself.

Spring cleanse the soul

Weed through the toxicity in your life. Make room for good energy to arrive. You must remove the negative so that the universe will provide more positive.
Disengage yourself from toxic energy takers and surround yourself with only positive, encouraging folks.

Creating boundaries for good energy does not mean you’re being narcissistic. It simply means you care enough about yourself to eliminate drama and negativity from your life. These elements are replaced with moments to be savored, and yes, something called happiness.

Spring cleanse the body

Spring also brings forth the misery of hay fever. Symptoms typically include sneezing, runny nose, burning eyes, lethargy and headaches. And for those who suffer, the pleasure of spring is ruined.

In Ayurveda, symptoms are classified by the three different constitutional types. So, Vata (air types) will usually have a cough with some phlegm, headache and insomnia, along with restlessness and anxiety. Pitta (fire types) are likely to suffer from burning eyes, thirst, yellow nasal discharge and skin rashes. Water types, known as Kapha, will produce abundant clear or white phlegm and will feel the most dull and lethargic. As a result, treatment will vary for each type, depending on which constitution is the most dominant!

Stress, overwork and illness weaken our immune system. Consequently, it overreacts and becomes hypersensitive to environmental factors that it has coped with well in the past. A strong immune system, which reacts appropriately to bacteria, viruses, and pollution and is not overly threatened by dust, pollen and other allergens, is linked in Ayurveda to strong digestion with a seasonal diet of freshly prepared warm food, along with a balance of work and downtime. It is important to avoid a diet rich in dairy such as cheese, yogurt and ice-cream, along with sugary foods – all of which increase the production of mucous.

Here is my favorite Panchakarma recipe in the morning, not only during the spring season but at all times of year. It is a great drink to cleanse the body of toxins and strengthen the immune system. If possible, do not refrigerate any of the ingredients; leave them out overnight. Warm liquids in the morning are easier on your digestive system than chilled or solid foods.

This recipe will help to reduce the symptoms of hay fever for all Ayurveda constitutional types.

Spring Detox Juice

Ingredients:
3 small grapefruits (peeled and chopped)
4 carrots, chopped (washed, do not peel)
One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped (washed, do not peel)

Directions:
1. In a juice extractor, add the grapefruits, carrots and ginger.
2. Stir and serve immediately.

Jal Neti Cleanse:

My favorite Ayurvedic nasal cleanse for spring pollen is “Jal neti,” a Sanskrit word for cleaning the nose with water.

This cleansing treatment can be done regularly and will really help to clear the congestion and phlegm, soothe the inflamed mucous membranes, and reduce irritation. I never travel without my neti pot. It came in handy in the Thar desert, polluted cities with nasty exhaust fumes, and the bat-infested caves of Mangapawni, Africa.

The saline water pulls toxins and other build-up from the mucus membrane that lines the sinuses. Continual practice of Jal Neti will help to reduce hay fever symptoms and to prepare you for the seasons ahead.

What you need:

Neti pot (a ceramic, plastic, or bronze vessel that resembles a small teapot); find online or at your local health food store.

Natural salt or kosher salt. You can also find special neti salt online or in health food stores.

Fill the neti pot with only bottled water. The water should be lukewarm (approximately 1/2 cup of water for each side).

Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir with spoon to dissolve thoroughly.

Instructions:

1. This practice can be done over an open sink or bathtub. Or, practice neti outside!

2. Tilt your head sideways, so that your right nostril is directly above your left nostril. Tip the neti pot, allowing the water solution to pour into your right nostril.

3. Open your mouth slightly. Breathe continuously through your open mouth during this sinus cleansing procedure. This allows for a necessary air passageway so that the water will not drain from behind your nose into your mouth.

4. Within a few seconds the water will drain through the nasal passages and sinuses and exit out the left nostril into the sink.

5. After the net pot is empty, remove the spout from your right nostril, and exhale through both nostrils. Gently blow your nose into a tissue.

6. Repeat steps 2-5 for your left nostril.

7. After you’re done with the practice, close off the right nostril and release 5 sharp exhalations from the left nostril. Do the same on the otherside.

8. Exhale forcefully through both nostrils while turning the head side to side until you feel the water is gone.

Note:
• Jal Neti can be practiced 2-3 times a week or every day. Do not practice after meals.

• Be sure to rinse the neti pot after each use with similarly distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered water. Leave the pot in open to air dry.

• If you have chronic nose bleeding or a deviated septum please consult a doctor before practicing jal neti.

Spring cleanse the mind

Meditation yoga is my spiritual foundation and perhaps my first real education in Sanskrit language, taught to me by my grandfather.

It is the practice by which there is constant observation of the mind. This was challenging as a child, when all that was on my mind was climbing guava trees.
Meditation requires you to focus your mind at one point and make your mind still in order to perceive the “self.” Through the practice of meditation, you will achieve a greater sense of purpose and strength of will. Meditation lowers blood pressure and oxygen consumption, decreases the respiratory rate, increases blood flow, and slows the heart rate.

It also reduces emotional distress and anxiety attacks by lowering blood lactate levels and aides asthmatics in their breathing.

For starters, here’s a simple meditation you could apply to your daily routine. Set aside 10 to 20 minutes at the same time each day, if possible. Before breakfast is a good time.

1. Choose a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed by anyone.

2. Sit quietly in a comfortable position on a chair. If you prefer, you can also sit on the floor cross-legged. If you sit on the floor, sit on a cushion so that your hips are elevated above your knees. This will be more comfortable and place less strain on your back.

3. Close your eyes. This will make it easy to concentrate. Take a few long, slow, deep breaths to settle yourself. Then do a mental scan of your body. Relax your muscles sequentially from head to feet. This helps to break the connection between stressful thoughts and a tense body. Starting with your forehead, become aware of tension as you breathe in. Let go of any obvious tension as you breathe out. Go through the rest of your body in this way, proceeding down through your eyes, jaws, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, upper back, middle back and midriff, lower back, belly, pelvis, buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet. Observe your breathing and let yourself breathe naturally.

4. Pick a focus word or short phrase that’s firmly rooted in your personal belief system. A non-religious person might choose a neutral word like one, peace, or love. Others might use the opening words of a favorite prayer from their religion, such as ”Hail Mary, full of Grace,” “Om,” etc.

5. Continue to breathe slowly and naturally, repeating your focus word or phrase silently as you exhale.

6. When you notice your mind has wandered—which it will as it’s the nature of the mind to think—simply bring your attention back to the breath and the mantra. Notice any feelings that arise during the process and let them flow out.

7. Continue for 10 to 20 minutes. You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm. After you finish: Sit quietly for a minute or so, first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes open. Do not stand up again for one or two minutes.

After meditation, you can savor a glass of the detox fruit juice.

Remember, working with your body rather than against it will bring you increased energy and sustainable health season after season. Practicing these small and simple steps to cleansing your lifestyle may be the greatest gift you give your body, soul and mind this spring.

January 2012 Post,
Morning Drink
Morning Drink
Posted 1388 days ago

2 tablespoons FRESH squeezed lemon or lime juice (approx. 1/2 lemon) (absolutely no canned, bottled or frozen juice)
2 tablespoons organic agave
A small pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
10 ounces purified water between room temperature and medium hot (but not cold)

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients by thoroughly stirring or shaking, and drink.

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Yoga for the Eyes:
Yoga for the Eyes:
Posted 1388 days ago

Here’s a perfect exercise to strengthen the eye muscles after endless hours of staring at the computer, playing video games and or watching television.

Sit upright, looking straight ahead with your eyes open. Look up, then down, while keeping your head still. Repeat 10 times. Then look left and right, and repeat 10 times.

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