Author Archives: Wendy Young

Conscious Eating – Guidelines for Healthy Eating

Conscious eating is becoming aware of how the food you eat affects your body, emotions and mind. Learning what foods and how you eat them affect both your body and mind can therefore support health and prevent disease.  Nutrition is the essence of effective self-care.

Right diet is the main factor in the treatment of the physical body which is built up by food.  Without changing your diet you cannot expect the body, which is its product, to change fundamentally whatever else you may attempt. By correcting yur diet, you eliminate the fundamental causes of disease.  In its constitutional approach, Ayurveda emphasizes the correct diet for the individual as the basis for health.

When you attend to digestion, you attend to your health.  Remember:  physical disease occurs as a result of poor digestion and assimilation in the body.

Guidelines for Healthy Eating

  • Eat only when hungry and drink when thirsty.
  • Follow the body and not the mind – listen to your body and what it needs.
  • Treat your digestion like a fire – stoke it with easy to assimilate light meals.
  • The main meal is best eaten at lunchtime when the digestive fire is at its strongest.
  • Eating in between meals slows down digestion and must be avoided in intestinal imbalance.
  • Eat the last meal of the day early in the evening. Late eating can cause constipation, indigestion and the accumulation of toxins.
  • Eat to less than full capacity. It is recommended to eat until the stomach is 1/2 full with food, 1/4 full with liquid and to leave 1/4 empty for the digestive process to have some space.
  • Eat simple meals which are less taxing to the digestive system – simplicity in a meal, variety in the week!
  • Avoid drinking water or other fluids with the meal.  The liquid douses the digestive fie and makes the process sluggish.  Taking water or fluids directly after the meal has the same counterproductive effects and promotes lethargy and weight gain.
  • Eat in a peaceful environment in the spirit of harmony and gratitude – not driving, hurrying or standing.
  • Chew the meal thoroughly and joyfully to aid proper assimilation of nutrients and digestion, so that the vital tissues are nourished, the body’s hunger is fed and emotional cravings are satisfied.
  • Eat fresh and seasonal food that is locally and organically grown (as much as possible!).
  • Eat fruit, including juice, away from other foods about one hour before or after a meal as fruit tends to ferment in the digestive tract.
  • Do not eat contra-indicated foods: Dairy and fruit, melon after other food, fruits with other food, fish and milk, eggs with milk, lemons with milk or yoghurt, yoghurt after dark, equal parts of ghee and honey (3:1 by weight), cooked honey.
  • Eat warm and cooked food as these are easier to digest. Cold food, raw food, ice and cold water can weaken the digestive process.
  • Avoid eating raw and cooked food together.
  • Minimise the use of leftovers, tinned, frozen or preserved foods.
  • Avoid excessive fasting or excessive eating.

If you would like to develop a practical and sustainable nutrition and lifestyle programme to suit your specific needs why not book a Nutrition and Lifestyle consultation today?

Remaining a Beginning Student

At the beginning of the year, I went to friends’ son’s second birthday party in Delta Park and had an opportunity to spend the afternoon with his cousins of a similar age… at one point we needed to make a trip to the loo, so off we went.  I found myself walking with a 19month old little girl.  The trip to the loo was an exploration of the present moment … into the tiniest details that I would have missed if it wasn’t for her inquisitive, alert and clear mind that explored the ants, grains of sand, the stones, blades of grass, fish in the fish pond and found a delightful freshness in everything.

It showed me how I meet life from a conditioned mind of preconceived views, expectation, judgements and preferences.  It reminded me of what one of my favourite authors, J Krishnamurti writes on Freedom, that to know Freedom is to let go of everything that I think I know!

Can I meet each moment with a fresh child-like mind of openness and enquiry?

Letting go of that which I think I know and opening into that which I don’t know….

And how does it feel to be open to the mystery of life in the present moment?

Ayurvedic Herbs

Ayurvedic herbs not only work at a cellular level to treat and balance your body/mind consitution or dosha, they also have an effect at a psycho-spiritual level.

I work with the following herbs in my Ayurvedic practice:

Rose Water – rose petals treat and calm the heart, nerves and lift the spirits.  They have an affinity for the blood, have a certain astringency that reduces inflammation and stops sweating.  Rose water helps to balance irregularities in the menstrual cycle, is useful for nervous depression and anxiety and clears heartburn, acidity and inflammation from the digestive tract.  Very useful to calm inflamed skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and itching.

Chywanaprash – ‘The Elixir of Life’ – the primary action of Chywanaprash is to increase resistance to infectious diseases, to build haemoglobin and white blood cells.  It is especially good for the lungs as it nourishes the mucus membranes and helps to clear phlegm. It strengthens vata (energy) and increases ojas (enthusiasm for life).  It is a superb remedy to include as part of a programme to facilitate recovery from illness and stress.

Ashwaghanda – a tonic herb that benefits the central nervous system, energy levels and reproductive system.  Very beneficial in all conditions caused by stress, useful post-convalescence, as a pain killer and anti-inflammatory to treat arthritis and is useful to strengthen the lungs.  Ashwaghanda is a tonic herb for both the male and female reproductive systems and is an adaptogen.

Triphala – is a key part of all programmes of health maintenance as it is used to purify and nourish the colon helping to treat sluggishness, constipation, bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, indigestion.  It can also help to heal ulcers, inflammations, and general dysbiois in the gastro intestinal tract.  When there are signs of toxicity in the blood manifesting as skin inflammations, acne and boils, Triphala is used to detoxify the whole system.

Trikatu – the three spices formula (ginger, black pepper & long pepper), is a warming and stimulating herb for colder weather.  It is effective in the treatment of a sluggish digestive system with bloating, abdominal pain and flatulence; also helps in conditions of poor assimilation due to low enzyme secretions. Its heating properties rejuvenate the lungs effectively treating colds with nasal or sinus congestion, coughs or wheezing with sticky white phlegm.  Where there is slow metabolism with low energy and lowered immunity, Trikatu can be part of a treatment strategy and is also helpful in boosting circulation and warming the body.

Shatavari – a beneficial tonic herb for the female hormonal and menstrual cycle to regulate, clear inflammation and boost fertility.  Very useful to treat various menopausal symptoms and is an adaptogen.

Gotu Kola – famous for its brain enhancing properties, it also benefits circualtion and skin quality.  It is used in conditions of stress and emotional turbulence as it relaxes the central nervous system.  It improves concentration, memory and alertness.  It is the specific herb to treat inflammatory conditions of the skin.  Also used to treat arthritis, gout and joint inflammation – clearing toxins and increasing circulation.

Amalaki – a nourishing fruit that is an immune tonic, high in vitamin C, benefits the heart and blood, is an anti-inflammatory and a mild laxative.  Especially useful in inflammatory conditions of the intestines and can help to stop intestinal bleeding.  It is a very effective liver cleanser high in anti-oxidant properties.  Useful for general debility and weakness and for recovery post-illness.

Neem – a renowned anti-bacterial herb useful for intestinal and skin inflammations.  Supports metabolism and regulates blood-sugar levels.  Also useful in high fever.

Gokshura – is the tonic for the kidneys.  It clears water stagnation anywhere in the body as well as urinary and kidney infections.  Helps to dissolve kidney stones and relieves symptomatic pain.

Please let me know if you would like further information regarding any of the herbs.

“health brings happiness”             Ayurvedic proverb

Natural Wisdom for Summer Living

“To be one with nature again is vital – it allows inner and outer nature to blend, healing a separation that never existed in the first place.”    Deepak Chopra

Summer is usually a time of improved health and expanded awareness: there are more daylight hours and warmer weather which inspires us to spend more time outside connecting with nature.  Each season brings with it certain positive qualities and certain challenges to our system. As with all Ayurvedic principles we just have to observe nature and notice the change in the qualities of the air, the light, the temperature and the weather so that we intuitively know how to live each moment harmoniously. Just watching and feeling nature is a practice of awareness and meditation.

The fire element increases in the summer: there is more warmth, dryness and lightness.  Hence summer is naturally a time of calming and cooling pitta.

Fire qualities: Light, warm, dry, penetrating, sharp, transformative, subtle, ascending, expansive.

Fire anatomy: Pitta can build up in the digestive system (acid reflux), liver (indigestion), eyes (sensitivity to light), skin (inflammations), joints (arthritis) and heart at this time of year.  Be aware of any imbalances in these parts of your body.

Fire physiology: Sight, digestion, appetite, metabolism, nutrient assimilation and body temperature are all affected by the increased warmth of summer.  Be aware of any changes in these systems of your body.

Psychic fire: Manipura chakra – situated behind the navel at the solar plexus and related to ambition, gain, wealth, achievement, goals, drive, direction, power, thought and counter-thought – this chakra can be stimulated by the natural increase in the solar energy and fire element.  Be aware of mind states that are critical, judgemental, angry and reactive.

Yogic summer: This is a good time to apply the wise teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati by becoming aware of and practicing discernment (viveka) and non-attachment (vairagya). By being more discerning, we are choosing what is best for us and not just following the perpetual likes and dislikes of our mind. By letting go we can start to become free from the pleasure and pain of our experiences and move towards acceptance, an open heart and living in the precious present moment.

Suggested Summer routine:

  • Start your morning with a dash of Aloe Vera juice (50ml) in a class of warm water, this will help to flush heat toxins from your liver.
  • Then massage yourself with room temperature coconut oil which nourishes and clears any heat from your skin. Shower off with luke warm water.
  • Walk or stand with bare feet on a cool dewy lawn for a calming and centred start to your meditation practice or simply to connect with nature’s beauty.
  • Start your yoga practice with some cooling and calming Sheetali pranayama– this is an especially calming and soothing breathing practice where you roll your tongue into a tube then draw the in breath through this tube and breathe out through your nostrils. You can feel the cool air chilling you out!
  • As we have seen pitta can accumulate in your digestive system especially the liver and small intestine. Do some abdominal stretching and twisting exercises to help clear pitta from your belly. Try Trikonasna (triangle series), Bhujangasana (cobra), Matsyanasna (fish), Matsyendrasana (twist), Ushtrasana (camel) to massage pitta out of the intestines. As pitta can also accumulate in the eyes, via the liver, try doing a range of eye exercises to relax the eyes and increase circulation that can carry away any excess heat.
  • If you are already a bit of a pitta prone person (hot-headed!) it is important to not do too many inverted poses as these bring heat up into your head.
  • After yoga anoint yourself with some fragrant sandalwood or rose oil. Place a drop on your third eye, throat and navel to keep these centres of awareness cool, calm and collected.
  • Your diet in the summer can consist of sweet (grains), bitter (salads/leafy greens), astringent (pulses) flavours and be light and easy to digest.
  • A light nourishing breakfast of a fruit, seed and nut smoothie will sustain your energy levels through the morning.  Add a pinch of saffron for flavour and cooling energy.
  • Eating lunch around noon when the sun is at its zenith is best. Try kicharee as a cooling nutritive meal.  Add a teaspoon of ghee or hemp seed oil at the end with some grated fresh coconut. Eat it with cucumber raita as a delicious condiment.  Green salad is ok at lunchtime.
  • For supper have a light meal of basmati rice, sprouted mung beans and green leafy vegetables.  Best to avoid salad at night as it will aggravte vata.
  • In the summer it is best to also avoid all dark meats such as beef, lamb and pork as well as citrus fruits, tomato, garlic, onion, salt and sour dairy products as these all increase pitta.
  • A good way of flushing pitta out of the body is via the bowel; Ayurveda recommends Amla herbal remedy as a mild laxative.
  • When you are thirst try drinking cool herbal teas of peppermint, licorice, fennel and chamomile.
  • It’s important to watch out for pitta?emotions arising such as criticism, being judgmental, irritation and anger. If you feel a bit ‘hot under your collar’ a good trick is to hold a glass of water in your mouth as the water cools your pitta and keeps you quiet!
  • Before you go to bed, especially if it has been a hot day, rub the soles of your feet with coconut or castor oil to bring all the heat down to your feet.
  • Wash your face in organic rose water and spray it in your bedroom. It is helpful to fill your home and bedroom with fragrant roses and jasmine in the summer.
  • Best to go to bed before 11pm as pitta peaks at around 12 midnight.  If you sleep on your right side then ida nadi in the left nostril is activated and guarantees you a blissful nights rest.

As with all your yogic practice, the only rule is that there are no rules! Adjust your daily lifestyle and practice to the changes in the weather and to how you are feeling. Trust your intuition to help maintain the balance of your doshas. Learn to appreciate how the changes in how you are feeling relate to how the dosha changes in you!

For a nutrition and lifestyle consultation or any further information please contact me on wendy@wise-living.co.za and 011 781 4797 or 072 800 4982.

 

Natural Wisdom for Spring Living

“Every impulse of intelligence in our awareness starts its journey from the source of life as love, and nothing else.”  Deepak Chopra

As we welcome the unfolding wonders of Spring with warmer weather, rains that nourish the earth, the return of animals and the growth of plants from their Winter hibernation, we also undergo an internal transformation. According to Charaka, a great Ayurvedic authority, 7 days before and after the Spring Equinox is the transition time to slowly make changes necessary to effortlessly and healthily welcome in the new season on all levels. The Spring Equinox is the 22nd September.

Nature teaches us that space contains infinite potential and is the seed of all creation. So from the space, quiet and rest of the Winter, comes the potential for rebirth and new possibilities of the Spring. I invite you to take a few moments now to reflect on what seeds you wish to plant this Spring? They could be seeds pertaining to your health, to personal transformation and growth, to birthing a new relationship or career… the possibilities are endless… the seeds of Spring are yours for the planting.

According to Ayurveda, Spring time is Kapha dosha (earth & water constitution) predominant time, which brings the qualities that are heavy, cold, dull, liquid, dense, slimy, and oily. Although this simple list doesn’t seem to offer much information, it is actually quite informative. These qualities have accumulated through the Winter (another Kapha time) so following the Ayurvedic principle of “like increases like” we adopt the opposite qualities of hot, dry, sharp and light to treat any imbalance.

We are all familiar with Spring allergies, congestion, sinusitis and excess mucus. This is nature’s way of melting away our inner “cold”.  So now is the time to melt away that which has built up in the winter and clear excess heaviness and toxicity so that we may feel light, refreshed and renewed.

Suggested Spring Routine:

  • Start to wake up 30 minutes before sunrise. Kapha time begins around 6am.  So as not to increase Kapha qualities in the body, it’s important to be up and moving before the sun rises to help move toxins and stagnant lymph that have accumulated overnight.
  • Morning routine can include: warm lemon and/or ginger water upon waking, abhyanga (self massage) with warm sesame seed oil before your shower, skin brushing (twice a week) and a brisk early morning walk!
  • Clean up your diet: just as we Spring clean our homes it’s time to Spring clean our inner home. Avoid heavy and dulling foods like excess dairy, wheat, oily and cold foods.  Continue to eat warming and astringent foods and spice them up with cloves, ginger, cumin, mustard seeds and black pepper.  Green juicing is a great way to detox the liver and cells.
  • Enjoy some type of dynamic daily exercise. The best way to move excess heaviness and stagnation is to move the lymph and blood that circulate throughout the body.
  • Slowly energize your Yoga practice with more challenging asanas which focus on the chest and stimulating breathing practices.
  • Meditation helps to digest the events of the day on a mental and emotional level allowing you to enjoy the precious present moment.  Daily practice is a profound way to help clear the ‘clutter’ from your life.

For a nutrition and lifestyle consultation or any further information please contact me on wendy@wise-living.co.za and 072 800 4982.

Natural Wisdom for Winter Living

‘Wisdom is knowing the difference between the habitual demands made by the mind and the simple demands of the body.’                Dr H S Kasture

During winter the earth’s energy is withdrawn back into herself. It is a time of rest, storing and preparation. Rest from the bounty of the autumnal harvest and preparation for the vitality of the coming spring. This is a time of being grounded, internalised and still. The weather is cold and dry – qualities that aggravate both the vata (ether & air elements = dryness & anxiety) and kapha (earth & water elements = phlegm & heaviness) doshas (body/mind constitutions).

How we live each day is key to Ayurvedic living. Ayurveda is really the art of moment to moment living in accordance with our unique nature and Mother Nature. The awareness of how we need to live to be optimally healthy needs constant adjustment. This is can be challenging because of our routines, commitments, desires and attachments.  Ayurveda recommends different lifestyles according to age, sex, climate, time of day and time of year.

Suggested Daily Routine – Dinacharya:

  • Sleeping late in winter is fine – rise with the sun around 6:30am.
  • Hold some warm sesame oil in your mouth for a few minutes. This sounds strange but it has a wonderfully nourishing effect on the mouth, strengthens the teeth and stops bleeding and receding gums.
  • Massage yourself with warm sesame oil. Sesame oil is energetically warming and can be beneficial to every constitution at this time of year. This can offset the seasonal tendency of cold and aching joints.
  • Rinse the oil off in a hot shower.
  • Drink a cup of warm water to which you can add fresh grated root ginger. This relaxes the digestive system, enkindles the appetite and encourages a healthy bowel movement.
  • Dynamic exercise during the cold months is most beneficial.  Enjoy a brisk early morning walk, or vigorous yoga asana and breathing practices.
  • Your winter diet can consist of warm cooked foods that are mildly spicy, slightly salty and nourishing. The digestive fire is usually stronger in winter as the colder weather constricts the surface of the body and pushes the heat back in to the centre of the digestive system.
  • Breakfast can be a bowl of porridge oats, barley or rice. Add some cinnamon, cloves and honey. Honey is heating and drying which helps to clear mucus.
  • Lunch and supper can be wholesome meals avoiding too many cold, wet and damp foods that are excessively sweet or from the fridge or freezer – root vegetable soups, casseroles and grains. Drink spicy teas throughout the day.
  • Increase your omega 3 oil intake during the cold and dry winter months.  Every single cellular function in the body needs quality omega oils (3,6,9).  Nuts and seeds, as well as flaxseed oil are good sources of essential fatty acids.
  • If you are easily disturbed by the cold of winter then you may benefit from taking the herb Trikatu. This is a mixture of ginger, black pepper and long pepper – it will help blow away colds, coughs, poor circulation and post-nasal drips.  It burns toxins and stimulates digestion and aids nutrient assimilation.  Please let me know if you would like to order Trikatu.
  • After a day of hard work settle in for a relaxing evening. Ayurveda suggests that an occasional glass of warming wine may be beneficial in winter to encourage circulation and stimulate digestion!
  • Then it’s off to bed with a delicious glass of hot spicy milk. Nutmeg is a very calming herb that promotes sound sleep and can be added to your milk.

What a deliciously rejuvenating day! Keep warm and active this Winter, keep your vata in check and enjoy the Winter calm.

For more information and to book a Nutrition & Lifestyle appointment , call Wendy on 072 800 4982 or email wendy@wise-living.co.za

Gratitude

Practices to Awaken Gratitude

At times we can feel overwhelmed by hurt, anger, fear, sadness, loss, anxiety.  This closes our heart and leaves us feeling alone and separate.  Now is a good time to write a gratitude list.  It won’t solve the challenging life situation and it’s not about ignoring or suppressing the feelings.  Practicing appreciation does help to reconnect us to our heart, giving us some space from the wounded emotions and the story that our mind is creating.  From the space, we are more able to understand the bigger picture – the underlying motives, habits and patterns of our self as well as the other.  This can facilitate transformation from the wounded mind states back to peace, love and joy.

Dedicate the month to the practice of Gratitude:  each day add something new to your gratitude list, just one or two things that have touched you during the day.  Notice what changes in your body, heart and mind as well as in your Life…

I also invite you to take a moment now to sit quietly, become aware of your breath and let your attention settle into your heartspace.  Then bring to mind something in your life that you are grateful for at this very moment, it could be that you can smell the summer flowers, feel the touch of wind on your skin, that you have food to eat, friends who care about you… life itself!  Allow this image to settle into your heart and really develop a feeling of gratefulness for it.  Watch and feel what changes in your body, heart and mind.  Spend a few moments experiencing how practicing gratitude heals and opens your heart.  Make this a daily practice for Life.

“When you realise that behind all the worry, complaint and disapproval that goes on in your mind, the sun is always coming up in the morning, moving across the sky, and going down in the evening.  The birds are always out there collecting their food and making their nests and flying across the sky.  The grass is always being blown by the wind or standing still.  Food and flowers and trees are growing out of the earth.  There’s enormous richness.  You could develop your passion for life, your curiosity and your gratitude.  You could connect with your joyfulness.  You could start right now.”           Extract from the wisdom of no escape by Pema Chodron

The heart’s innate state is one of openness.  No matter what has happened in your life, you have an infinite capacity for love.

 

“The Navajo teach their children that every morning when the sun comes up,
it’s a brand-new sun.
It’s born each morning, it lives for the duration of one day,
and in the evening it passes on, never to return again.
As soon as the children are old enough to understand,
the adults take them out at dawn and they say,
‘The sun has only one day.
You must live this day in a good way
so that the sun won’t have wasted precious time.’
Acknowledging the preciousness of each day is a good way to live,
a good way to reconnect with our basic joy.”           

Extract from ‘the wisdom of no escape’ by Pema Chodron