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Maha Shiva Ratri:

the great festival
of the convergence of

Shiva and Shakti

Feb 17, 2015

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Life seemingly appears as a multitude of opposites: knowledge and intuition, inspiration and form, creation and destruction, pleasure and pain. Shiva and Shakti appear as the embodiment of Divine Self, symbolizing the perfect male and female aspects of the Divine. This celebration unifies them, as the ultimate expression of Divine balance.

By diving into the mythology and yogic concepts of this highly revered pair, we begin to see how their individual qualities stand completely autonomous and yet conjoined. Being Truth expressed both as Shiva/inspiration and Shakti/form, they cannot be separated, for they serve as the definition of each other, as Divine contrast.

Likewise, the pairs of opposites we meet every day, serve the same purpose, for only through knowing the unlimited depth of contrast between them, can we open the door to the infinite possibilities as them, as coCreator ourself.

Shivaratri, for me, represents a surrender to the One Heart One Mind within, by embracing the delineation between them, by honouring their differences in the Light of the Whole, by knowing them as the apparent opposites within my self. One Heart is the Heart as Love and one Mind is the mind as Truth and I am both and there is only one of me.

Late Winter in the Cleansing Kitchen

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My Kitchen Cupboard
THE door to balanced health

February brings us closer to the cleansing time of year, as the long winter gestation begins to shed its thick coat and reveal its newness.  All spring green vegetables are high in bitters, one taste that is often left out of the western diet. Bitters stimulate all digestive secretions and stomach acid, help regulate the absorption of vitamin B12, normalize blood sugar, promote the production and release of pancreatic enzymes and bile, strengthen the tone of tissues throughout the digestive tract, heal damaged mucous membranes, soothe gastric reflux, aid intestinal peristalsis, and reduce cravings for sweets.

If you are fortunate enough to still be eating beets from your garden they are now even more enriched with blood building minerals and lymphatic cleansing agents to boost your immunity through these last few wet months.

Externally, one might consider a short cleanse to bring in a little vitality and give the digestion a break from all the heavy winter storage foods, by water fasting from dinner one night until dinner the next night, or by taking a day of just khichadi, the traditional ayur cleansing dish of split mung dal, basmati rice and a balancing spice masala to boost digestive fire, cleanse the immune channels and support proper elimination.

amrit_dharaHeating foods such as garlic, ginger and curries can lighten kapha and reduce stagnancy. Organic cold pressed oils such as sesame or coconut, used in the daily diet, will help stabilize vata. And of course, consuming ample rich greens like dandelion, spinach, chard, parsley and  kale will increase pitta by igniting energy with the high enzyme action.

 

Lemony Garlic  1014_2_1386775855_lrg
Spring Greens

1 lemon

2 cloves fresh garlic crushed

2 tbls organic sesame oil

pinch of himalayan salt

dash of fresh ground black pepper

For one minute, high speed blend the zest of one half of the lemon, plus the juice from one half of the lemon with the other ingredients. Adjust seasonings to taste. Set aside.

Prepare 500gm of fresh spring greens (nettles, chard, dandelion, spinach) by slicing into thin strips. Steam 3-4 minutes, maintaining bright green colour. Once cooked, drain the spring greens over the sink into a colander, steam dry for a minute, then tip back into the pan.

Give the dressing another good shake up, then drizzle it over the greens. Using tongs, gently toss the spring greens in the dressing while they’re still hot to help them soak up all the dressing, then transfer to a bowl and serve straight away. Feeds 3-4 as a side dish.

Navaratri, nine days of Mother Divine

Navaratri   Day 1-3   I bow to Kali Durga

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Day 1 – Relinquish
Sept 27.
6:30-8:30am with the rising sun

New beginnings. A fresh breath is in the air. Kali Durga puja occurred at Ram Spring Wellness today, for the very first time. The fire of transformation is stoked, burning up that which does not serve. This candle will burn at Ram Spring for the next nine nights culminating on the tenth night, Oct 3,  with a Maha Kirtan to Mother Divine at 7:30.

Kali Durga energy is devoted to clearing up the misconceptions, limiting beliefs and anything else that stands in the way of seeing life as it really is. Whatever it is we want to clear out, we must first show up.  So much gratitude for the lovely Beings who came out in the dark just prior to sunrise this morning .

I welcome everyone to continue a daily offering from today until Friday, as a surrendering of that which gets in the way of you LIVING your highest SELF on this new earth. Perhaps abstinence from a certain pleasurable food or activity, (traditionally meat, grains, nuts, seeds, sugar, dairy), setting extra time for a meditation or intentional walk (traditionally with Kali Durga as your contemplative inner companions) or just being in stillness, focusing on relinquishing that which no longer serves.

This morning we made offerings to the five elements and the five senses with an intention of purification of perceptions, concepts and beliefs we unnecessarily hold around all form as experienced through the senses, the doors of perception.

What sweet, sweet melodies were offered to Kali Durga Ma. Pranam to everyone for open curiosity, commitment to truth through a sincere love and respect for all of life, for showing up in your fullness. This is the power of kali durga manifest.

JAI KALI
JAI DURGA
JAI MATA

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Please join us for CULTIVATION, a Lakshmi puja and ritual cleansing on Saturday, Sept 27, 6:30-8:30am. rsvp to ramspringwellness@gmail.com. 250-537-6200

Baby and Me

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A friend who is a new mom is struggling from lack of sleep. The grandmothers will say, of course, thats nothing new in the world of parenting a child, especially first time around.  To the question of what would you do,  I answered thusly:

Everything has its unique dosha balance, including parenting styles and baby’s needs. And they don’t always line up as the easiest combinations. Depends on your parabdha karma, perhaps! 

No one style is right for everyone. In my
 opinion (and I’m pretty sure its ayurvedic altho I can’t find a quote to back it up), its best to just allow our innate nature to lead the way and baby will abide well with parent being true to self and thus more at ease than “trying to do it right” according to…..whoever those parenting experts are.

Vata parent will be some what aloof and read/tell lots of great stories, go with the flow and show little consistency. Pitta parent will be more disciplined, routine. organized and firm. Kapha parent will be more nurturing, soothing, close and cuddly. 

Vata baby will be a day dreamer, nurse a little, stop and gaze around, nurse a little more, stop, gaze. They probably won’t sleep soundly and be prone to dryness and thus constipation. If mom’s vata, too, then hopefully dad’s kapha or pitta to give some routines and structure or mom needs to learn how to incorporate these seemingly awkward traits.

Pitta baby will be more independent but also want to be in charge. When hungry, bored, tired, they will let you know and not stop until their need is taken care of. The won’t like to be wet or messy. They will sleep well but not for to long, probably nurse until full and then push mom away. If mom’s pitta too, hopefully dad’s vata or kapha to get some unstructured play happening and some sweet tenderness or mom needs to chill out a bit to include this balance. 

Kapha will be calm and joy filled and tend to have more mucous, will nurse a lot because its a little bit of heaven just like them, sleep long and deep and not groove on too much stimulation. Hopefully if mom’s kapha, dad’s vata or pitta to enliven the playtime, create some healthy boundaries and throw in some chaos or mom will need to get going and live it up a bit.

More than anything baby will show a vikriti (imbalance) that is due to the mother’s state as she is baby’s closest influence. If mom’s off her mark, baby will reflect that. So, best advice to all moms – find out what your doshas are and do your best to stay in balance.

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Abhyanga

Regardless of dosha types,  try a warm oil abhyanga (massage) for both mom and baby before or after evening bath and then drift off to a rest filled night. In India,  all Ammas (mothers) in an ayurvedic household massage baby with sesame oil, three times daily for babe and once daily  for mom for the first three months of this new partnership.  Sesame oil, as the first jewel of ayurveda,  lowers vata (restlessness), acts as an antiseptic and antibiotic, nourishes the tissues inside and out and calms the mind giving rise to sweet bliss filled dreams.

 

Winter 2014, Time as Change

Winter 2014.

I find it quite remarkable that I can clearly see the changes in our weather patterns in just fifty years. Nature does her best with adaptation and at this point, seems to be struggling to keep up.  We must head the signs that if we change to quickly the outcomes may well be more detrimental than advantageous. Fifty years is a very short period for so much change. It equates to  the plant and animal kingdoms inability to keep up, resulting in extinction or down grades  of species that can’t quickly adapt.

This stands true in our personal lives as well.  Ayurveda says its better to make one dynamic change and take the time to fully observe the related outcomes.  Only if its a green light, do we then allow it to settle in as the new normal. Once it settles in and becomes routine, only then can we whole heartedly observe the next change and its affects, separate from any other.

In this way, our body/mind environment  is intelligently coerced into letting go of the old and settling in with the new and does so with a lesser amount of resistance or acting out than if we turn our lives upside down in an attempt to embrace too much newness all at once.

In the long run, conscious integration serves us much better than radical change.  Listening then becomes more important than doing and integration comes from truth and honest reflection rather than willful determination. This is the new paradigm as I see it.

This month hosts one of my favorite celebration, Valentines Day.  May we all experience the eternal flow of Divine Love, having no expectation of what it looks like, other than recognizing it as the purity of Love itself.  Our Divine Love of Self is paramount in preparing our little selves for true Love with others. Let us embody this manifestation as the “three hundred and sixty degree Love” that is our true nature.

And from this,  all life will unfold as that Love itself.

Winter Wellness

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Ayurveda Winter Wisdom, 2014

In the Pacific Northwest, we have a unique weather system that has vata and kapha in a dance from winter solstice to spring equinox. For the next month at least, we will be more in the vata season, although kapha will be starting to take its hold. When I’m unclear about which dosha to address, I go back to the basics. Like increases like, opposites balance. 

To balance Vata, make choices that bring warmth, stability, and consistency to your life.  To balance kapha, make choices that bring lightness to the heart and invigorate the body.  Try to get to bed before 10pm, awaken by 7am, and eat your meals at regular times.

Fresh ginger root is beneficial and can be used frequently. During the cool weather, sip ginger tea throughout the day.

  • Be certain that your bowels move on a daily basis. Refer to the post : A dilemma to digest.
  • All sweeteners pacify Vata and may be taken in moderation. Kapha is best to avoid sweeteners.
  • Fats and oils are beneficial in the digestive system and help reduce Vata. Use up to 3 teaspoons daily of ghee or extra virgin olive oil. If Kapha is high, use less.
  • If your digestion is strong, all low-fat dairy products are recommended. Milk is easier to digest when warm or heated.
  • If Kapha is high or digestion is sluggish, build digestion with agni appetizers. Fifteen minute prior to meals, take trikitu or ginger slivers with a pinch of rock salt and a squeeze of fresh lime
  • Rice and wheat are the best grains for balancing Vata but can increase kapha.
  • To reduce kapha increase the amount of quionoa, barley, corn, millet, buckwheat, and rye.
  • To reduce kapha, fast one day a week from after dinner the first day to before dinner the second day.
  • To balance all three doshas, eat kichadi one day a week.
  • To balance vata favor sweet, heavy fruits such as: bananas, avocados, mangoes, apricots, plums, berries, coconut, figs, grapefruit, orange, lemon, melons, papaya, peaches, pineapples, rhubarb, kiwi, dates, nectarines and dried fruits.
  • If Kapha is high, eat dry or light fruits such as apples, cranberries, pears, and pomegranates. To ease digestion, fruits are best eaten lightly cooked, sautéed or eaten alone.
  • Cooked vegetables are best. Raw vegetables should be minimized.
  • Sprouts and cabbage tend to produce gas and should be minimized.
  • For non-vegetarians, use fresh, organic chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs.

Favouring heavy foods such as sweets, oils, and richer foods may contribute to weight gain. Focus on natural grains, and moist fruits and vegetables. Keep your sweets to a minimum and use low-fat milk products.

Cook your food for easy digestion. Lightly steaming vegetables greatly reduces digestion time and increases nutritional uptake in most people by facilitating the breakdown of the fiberous outer cell wall which are an undigestable cellulose.

Don’t wait for a sunny day to go out and breath the fresh air. If you can get into the coastal rainforest right now, the kapha micro world of mosses, mushrooms and fungi is in full bloom.

A dilemma to digest!

Did you poo today???

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The ayurveda approach to optimal health is maintaining a healthy digestive system, which includes a daily bowel movement. One is said to be constipated if a bowel movement does not occur within 36 hours. The natural process of elimination is necessary to move toxins and waste materials out of the body and is a “TIME RELATED” ISSUE.

Time runs out when constipation sets in, allowing toxins to take up residence within our body/mind, causing stress to the systems and an increased vulnerability to dis-ease. And it will manifest where our weakness lies, in mental, emotional or physical areas of our Being. The message here is to not ignore these weaknesses but listen and learn from them.  By intimately knowing and understanding our weaknesses, we begin to recognize the first signals of imbalance and can make the appropriate changes to reinstate that balance. In this way, the weakness becomes an open doorway to a more harmonious, productive and pain free life.

Poor digestion and constipation are weaknesses that raise bright red flags in ayurveda. The longer poorly digested foods,  waste materials and toxins sit in the colon, naturally more water is pulled out and constipation will intensify. The effect will back up into the small intestine, disturbing digestion and absorption, causing any number of digestive issues. If digestion is stalled nutrient uptake is stalled, which compromises cell production. Healthy cells are the building blocks for optimal cell division and function. Starved cells make for weakened building blocks and the structure quickly becomes wobbly and susceptible to a myriad of imbalances.

Some of the wobble affects can be seen over night, some within a few years and some not until the aging process moves us out of the high functioning, metabolic (pitta) state of our middle years to a more sedentary, catabolic state in our elder years.  For women, symptoms will worsen around the menopausal time. For men, although there is not quite so pronounced a life change, the timing is the same due to a increase in vata (air and ether).  With aging, there is a natural shift to more dryness and constipation. Aging also increases the rate of apoptosis in the body, resulting in an elevated die off rate of cells. The replacement cells must acquire all the necessary nutrition to replicate efficiently and thus build a strong, alert, vibrant form.

The bottom line:  We do not want to build an abundance of toxic, starved or mutated cells as the result of constipation.

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Digestion is most certainly a Canadian cultural issue.
The Canadian Digestive Health Foundation (CDHF) launched a scientific project to define the incidence, prevalence, mortality and economic impact of digestive disorders across Canada. Detailed information on 19 digestive disorders was compiled through systematic reviews, government documents and Internet sites. This information was published as ‘Establishing Digestive Health as a Priority for Canadians, The Canadian Digestive Health Foundation National Digestive Disorders Prevalence and Impact Study Report’, and released to the press and government in late 2009 (www.CDHF.ca). The CDHF Public Impact Series presents a full compilation of the available statistics for the impact of digestive disorders in Canada and they are astounding.

The list of clinically proven digestive issues coined by the medical system is getting longer as time passes.  Crohns, IBS, GERD, acid indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn, malabsorption, ulcers. These are real issues for real people and can be very debilitating to quality of life. So many suffer from one or more of these issues as a chronic state that it taxes our medical system and makes our drugstores and health food stores very wealthy.

If you have a longstanding digestive issue and have yet to find satisfactory solutions, see a well practiced ayurveda practitioner, as digestion is the root of all dis-ease according to this system. The education you will receive will be the starting point of a path to greater self knowledge and amazingly inspired health and wellness.

This practitioner will educate you on your natural, holistic options such as best lifestyle practices, a personal seasonal diet, perhaps a yoga program or spiritual practice. They may recommend specific herbs or traditional treatments. All this without harm from unnatural substances or activities.

This time tested system is more than 4000 years old and still entirely relevant in its scope and practice of sustaining optimal health, as it is based in the laws of nature as observed by science and nature has not changed much over the past 4000 years, although science certainly has.

 

Wishing  you vibrant wellness.
savita

The First of The Three Gems of Ayurveda: Sesame Oil

It is said that when the pyramids were opened they found sesame oil, honey and ghee (clarified butter) along side the coffers of gold silver and copper.

Sesame is the most highly acclaimed of the three gems of ayurveda. It has a gentle heating quality, natural antiseptic, antibiotic and antiviral properties. Daily application of warm sesame oil is recommended to loosen impurities, enhance the luster of skin, create a natural defense against bacteria, fungus and viruses, provide protection from climactic changes, and help fend off the aging process.

Abhyanga- Full Body Oleation
Abhyanga has been traditionally used to help: promote the penetration of oils deep into the tissues so that impurities are loosened and separated from the cell structure; increase tissue strength; reduce muscle and joint pain; improve blood circulation; rejuvenate the whole body; improve circulatory, lymphatic, nerve, muscle, bone, joint and organ disorders; reduce cellulite, beautify the skin; delay aging; induce sound sleep; promote; vitality; pacify Vata imbalance; reduce stress and remove toxins.

In general, self abhyanga should be administered with warm oil, in the morning, prior to showering. Sesame oil is best for vata and kapha predominant doshas, safflower or sunflower is best for pitta predominant dosha in the hot seasons. Specific medicated oils may be recommended by an Ayurveda practitioner or Doctor.

Procedure:
1. Start at the feet, and if you know them, applying pressure to the acupressure points as needed. Flex and extend the ankles and toes. Press into the crease of the ankles with fingertips for a lymphatic flush.

2. Move to the legs, always massaging towards the torso. Massage with circles on the joints and long sweeping motions in between. Use a wringing technique on the long muscles to stimulate lymphatic drainage and break up cellulite. Pay particular attention to the hip areas, massaging with increasing larger circles.

Massage the hands, applying pressure to the acupressure points as needed

4. Move to the arms, again using circles on the joints, long sweeping motions in between. Apply wringing technique to long muscles. Flex and bend the wrists.

5. Move to the head. Apply upward strokes moving over the entire face, apply slight pressure to the marma points at the third eye, hair line, top the head and the top of the back of the head. Oil inside the nostrils with the baby finger or full nasya can be applied here. Pay particular attention to the ear and surrounding lymphatic drainage. Tug the ears – up, down, back, forward, oil inside with the tip of the baby finger, or place 10 drops of warmed oil in the ears (may require a loved one to help with this) and rest with head to the side to assist with full penetration into the outer ear canal. A few drops of garlic oil added to the ear oil can lessen and sometimes cure chronic ear infections.

6. Move to the neck. Pay particular attention to the lymph nodes along the sides and back, milking the area.

7. Move to the torso. Massage the upper chest area paying particular attention to the lymphatic areas in the armpit and upper chest regions. Moving clockwise, massage the belly beginning with small circles around the navel, moving in increasingly larger circles to encompass the entire abdominal cavity. Motions should be down the left side, across the bottom, up the right side, across the top, following the path of digestion.

8. Wait, ideally, 15 minutes prior to taking a warm shower. The body secretes natural oils and healthy bacteria, to deal with the elements. For this reason, it is recommended to only use soap on the private areas and to allow the heat of the water to further penetrate the oil. Use a towel to wipe off any excess, although after the shower there will be little left.

Oral and Dental Hygiene
Swishing or pulling of sesame oil through the spaces between the teeth can deter receding gums, support the seating of crowns and root canals and lighten halitosis (bad breath). it pulls the pre-embryonic bacteria that forms overnight and eliminates it safely.

The basic technique is simple. Upon waking, you take one tablespoon of sesame or sunflower oil in your mouth and swish it around. Then spit it out. The details, however, are a little more involved.
• You need to do it first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything.
• You need to swish for 20 minutes — give or take maybe three to five minutes. As it turns out, this is absolutely essential for the procedure to work. If you swish for much less than 20 minutes, it won’t work. If you swish for much longer than 20 minutes, you run the risk of reabsorbing the bacteria and toxins back into your body.
• Effectively, you want to swish until the oil turns from clear and thick to a thin, white, milky consistency.
• You want to swish the oil back and forth between all of your teeth and side to side across all of your gums. You want to hit the cheeks and soft palate. Like butter on an English muffin, you want to “press” the oil into all the nooks and crannies of your mouth — over and over again.
• Do not gargle with the oil. You do not want to risk swallowing it. Swallowing a little will not harm you, but repeatedly swallowing the oil after you’ve swished with it means you will be ingesting things that you’re trying to get rid of.
• Once done swishing, spit the oil out into the toilet or sink.
• Rinse, gargle, and spit out again
• Use a tongue scraper to remove the coating from your tongue.
• Finish by brushing your teeth and rinsing with a mouthwash if you like.
• Perform daily for approximately 40-50 days (three 8-ounce bottles of oil will do the trick), then as desired.

Sinus Support
In the sinus cavities, sesame oil is administered as nasya (nasal lubrication). Nasya is the practice of inserting 5-6 drops of oil in each nostril, whole laying on the back, with the nostril entrances higher than the chin. The oil penetrates the sinus cavities and makes its way into the sagittal sinus that runs over the top of the head. The drying of the sagittal sinus is now being linked to alzheimer’s and dementia.

Use: It can be as easy as putting 5 drops of oil in each nostril.

To enhance the practice, preferably at bedtime, warm the nasya oil by placing the bottle in a cup of hot water. Drape a warm damp cloth over the sinus areas for approximately 5 minutes. While waiting, chant your favorite mantra to fill the mind with sweet thoughts.

Once the sinus cavities are warmed, apply 5-6 drops of equally warmed oil in each nostril. Rest in this position for 3 to 5 minutes  to allow the oil to penetrate deeply into the sinus cavities and mucous membranes.

Pregnancy and Post Partum Care
When a baby is born into an ayurvedic household, the grandmothers oil the baby and the mom every day for 45 days. This assists the baby’s body and mind to adjust to a rather rough environment after floating in a water bath for 9 months. Sesame oil internal and external,  assists the mom’s body and mind returning to a balanced and healthy post partum state. Mom often takes sesame oil enemas to support the bladder, bowel and colon after the weight bearing of the child in utero.

The Circus of Life, Act 1

 Musings from the Teeter Totter.

There is no doubt that we live on a polarity planet, with duality as its matrix, where the sweet nectar and bliss of pleasure is as much a trap as the deep felt suffering of pain. The Great Buddha named this craving and aversion.

This leaves us with a question. Do we want to be constantly inundated with this teeter tottering of pleasure and pain, victory and defeat, gain and loss showing itself over and over again? Most would say no.

Only a true warrior would say yes, for this person understands that through intimately experiencing both ends of this spectrum, she can build a bridge between them and that bridge will set her free.

She knows that through focusing on the movement between these two polarities and not fixating on either side, true knowledge dawns and dispassion is attained.

She is a high wire acrobat, vigilant in every moment to the myriad of micro adjustments necessary to stay balanced on the wire, for once she starts the walk, if she is still for too long, she will fall. She must keep moving to maintain her balance.

She is unwavering and at the same time flexible in her strength, like a tall bamboo that gracefully bends in the wind without breaking.

She maintains a fine tuned awareness to sense the subtlest of energetic changes in her environment and continually adjust as the moment predicts.

She is acutely aware of the outcomes of her choices. She does not dwell on her mistakes and does not blame, make fault or criticize herself should any given choice cause her to wobble, for she knows her mind must stay free and open to quickly choose again.

She uses courage to squelch her fear of falling. And should she fall, she accepts this without defeat and trusts that she will be caught and set back on her feet to walk yet again.

She has faith in the strength and purpose of her high wire, and deeply invests in an intimate understanding of how she herself informs its anchors on each end.

With this awareness, she walks her wire with confidence and truth and stands softly balancing in the middle.

And finally, she has trust in the integrity of her own inner self as her highest, dearest and most meaningful guide, for she can know no other like she knows herself.

In this, by this, with this, she balances with poise and wisdom through wind and rain, cold and heat, drought and flood.

In the middle of her high wire, she is free.

And as her own audience, she applauds with love.

inspirations by Savita Leah Young
Dec. 2, 2013.