Holiday Eating Survival Guide

Ayurveda teaches us that our Agni (metabolism, or digestion) is everything, and that one who has perfect Agni will have perfect health.  We celebrate the holidays with family and friends with elaborate meals and parties.  This year, instead of bringing in the new year with extra pounds and guilt from over indulgence, remember the teachings of Ayurveda with these very simple tips and practices.  Make your Agni bulletproof.  Before your holiday party or dinner, keep these simple things in mind:

  • During the day before a large meal or holiday party, Kapha types can fast.  Vata and Pitta types should take simple foods like kitcharee or rice with steamed vegetables and ghee.
  • Sip warm water throughout the day to kindle the digestive fire in preparation.
  • Avoid the snack table. Instead of munching on hors d’oeuvres and cheese and crackers, opt for a full meal.  Th
    is may seem counter intuitive, but nibbling bombards digestion and doesn’t leave room for the fire to burn.  Make a full plate.  Eat it. Then mingle!
  • 30 minutes before you eat, drink 8 ounces of water.  Eat your MEAL (not snacks). Wait a full hour before taking more liquids or water. Again, we are trying to kindle the fire so that digestion can happen.  Excessive liquids taken after a meal will extinguish the fire.
  • Avoid iced or carbonated drinks.  Opt instead for a glass of wine.
  • This one might be over ambitious, but give it a try: exercise or do yoga in the morning! There’s no better way to kindle Agni.
  • If you’re the cook, be sure to use plenty of metabolism kindling spices like cumin, coriander, fennel and ginger. Avoid snacking while cooking.
  • I decided to save the best news for last. Eat your sweets first. Salad last. It’s the nature of the chemical digestion process. Think of a fire. If we throw kindling on it (lettuce, or a salad), it will flicker and soon die. If we put a nice log on the fire, it will burn for hours and hours.

Oh, and have fun. May you be present and full of grace during the holiday season and always!

This Holiday Season, Give Healing. Give Ayurveda.

Half moon ayurveda gift cards are here.

With a Half Moon Ayurveda gift card, the recipient will be able to choose from a variety of classical Ayurvedic treatments, acupuncture, Thai bodywork, or traditional massage.  Email the gift certificate directly to the recipient, or print at home and hand deliver.

Browse our services here.

Gift cards are available in any amount and can be used for any product or service.

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 **Please note, when you purchase a gift card online, you will receive a printable gift card OR a link to email to the recipient. You will be given the option to personalize a note to include with your gift card at check out. **

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Ayurveda For The Whole Family

Join Ayurvedic practitioners Katelynn and Suzanne for a weekend of wellness for the whole family.

Saturday + Sunday

November 4th and 5th  1-3pm


 

Day 1 (Saturday)  :: Women’s Health with Katelynn

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 12.30.59 PMDemystify and even befriend your cycle, using it as a barometer for your overall wellbeing.  Experience freedom from common ailments through daily routine practices based on the science of Ayurveda.

 

 


 

Day 2 (Saturday) ::  Pediatrics with Suzanne

Are Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 12.32.44 PMyou sick of your child always having a runny nose or being constipated? Are you tired of constantly giving your children snacks but then wrestling them to eat an actual meal?  Do you wish your children ate healthier, but then again you’re not even sure what it means to eat well? Are you worried about the pollutants and chemicals your children are exposed to daily? Learn how to raise balanced and blissful children through the simple, practical, and effective wisdom of Ayurveda. Just a few changes in diet, lifestyle, and routine can make a world of difference for your entire family’s sanity and well-being.

30 for each, 50 for the weekend.  

Childcare + kids yoga will be provided during the workshops. $10 drop in

Enroll here, for one or both of the workshops.

Self Administration of Nasya Oil

Nasya oil has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of diseases of the head and neck.  Though it can be curative, the strength of this remedy lies in its protective / preventative properties which work in the nasal passageways, stopping pathogens and allergens before they enter the respiratory tract and cause inflammation.

For acute conditions or high allergy days, use this oil every 2-3 hours.  For prevention and general maintenance of the nasal passageways and mucous membranes, use once every day, preferably in the am, after bathing.

Indications for nasya oil:

  • Allergies
  • Frequent colds
  • Headaches
  • TMJ
  • Teeth / jaw grinding
  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinson’s
  • Bell’s palsy

Our favorite nasya oil:

For more of Katelynn’s at home Ayurvedic allergy remedies, click here.

Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 12.52.30 PMAbout the author: Katelynn Ingersoll, BSN, RN is a practitioner of Ayurveda, yoga studio owner, and non-profit founder.  You can find her at her spot in center city Philadelphia where she teaches workshops, sees clients, and practices yoga.  For questions, or to schedule a consultation contact her at 610.462.1352 or email halfmoonayurveda@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Step Away From the Allergy Meds

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Zyrtec. Allegra. Claritin. Take away my suffering.

Is it just me, or does it seem like EVERYONE is on allergy medications these days? Zyrtec, Allegra, and Claritin have become household names – the holy trinity of seasonal allergy survival.   If you are a consumer, you may already know that these medications offer nothing more than symptom relief, and no cure for the allergy plague which returns again every season forcing us to buy more pills.  I’ll spare you more of why we shouldn’t support the manufacturers of these medications.  You’re all smart. You made it to an Ayurveda blog, after all.  Then I started thinking what would happen if we HAD a cure – no more allergy medications? Wait – then what would happen to all the allergy medication?  We could disrupt a market. That’d be pretty radical.

If you’ve lived in or visited the northeastern US during the “high allergy season,” which happens every spring and fall, then you know that the complaints are coming in as I write.  You might be reaching for a tissue now.  Eyes are itching, noses are running and it’s about time we explore an Ayurvedic perspective of what exactly is going on here.  I’m about to get all pathophysiological here, so I don’t mind if you skip to the treatments at the end…

First, we have to consider three very important Ayurvedic principles that apply to the immune system, which becomes confused in an allergic response ::

In sanskrit English translation (approximately)
Tejas Cellular transformation (cellular metabolism – mitochondrial ATP production)
Smruti Cellular memory (antigen recognition, or immune response)
Prana Cellular communication (present in DNA synthesis and  immune response)

We already know the importance of nutrition in maintaining tissue health. But how do the cells of our immune system get their nutrition? I’m so glad you asked! It just so happens that the cells of our immune system congregate within the lymph tissues or nodes.  Lymph nodes live in the groin, axillae, small intestine, and neck – but are actually found in nearly every inch of the body.  The nodes are nourished by the lymph vessels.  

Think of the lymph vessels as superhighways delivering nutrition to immune system cells hanging out in the lymph nodes. Now think of a big traffic jam on the interstate. 

When the tissues: like the stomach, small intestine, liver, are putting out high levels of toxicity (from poor diet and lifestyle practices), our vessels become blocked.  This traffic along the lymphatic vessel network prevents nutrition from getting in and toxins from getting out of the immune system. The lymph vessels are not able to properly carry out their OTHER crucial function: to carry non blood fluid waste from the tissues and eventually dump it into the venous system for further

This image shows how closely the lymph system – shown in blue – works with major organs – like our stomach.

purification at the level of the heart where it forms our most vital essential fluid: ojas (another lecture on that later, I promise).  It’s a downstream effect.

The immune system is our greatest expression of self.

Specialized immune system cells distinguish self versus non-self – and it stages its attacks accordingly.  Malnourished cells of the immune system lose their smruti (memory) of what is self vs non-self and start attacking inappropriately. Tejas (cellular metabolism) is usually in a heightened, overactive state, enhancing normal responses.  Prana, communication, is no longer free.  Imagine rogue cells of the immune system acting in a state of emergency chemical warfare releasing all those chemicals that cause runny nose, itchy eyes, swollen lymph, fatigue, excess mucous production…

 Restoring order:

You guessed it…the deeper the tissue level, the more we have to work to restore order.  Although we know each individual may have a unique pathophysiological process, I’ve put together a list of generally tri-doshic (for all metabolic types) dinacharya (self care) items to not only ease symptoms, but also to address the root cause.  Remember, I always say there’s an ideal, then there’s reality.  You’ll find your balance somewhere in the middle by incorporating what works for you.  Enjoy these tips and tricks.  Be patient, natural remedies take longer to be effective because they last longer.

  • Use nasya (nasal) oil every 2-3 hours during a flare up. I personally love Usha Lad’s recipe for nasya. Keeping the nasal passageways lubricated adds an extra layer of protection – stopping allergens before they enter your body.  For some allergy sufferers, nasya oil has been a real game changer. DIY best alternative to medicated nasya is to use melted ghee or sesame oil.  Click here for a tutorial on how to use this remedy. 
  • Sip hot water.  It doesn’t get much simpler than this. All day. At least 1.5 liters.  Avoid iced beverages.
  • Do a few sun salutations (or at least cat cow) every morning.  Lymph vessels and nodes are only
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    Use nasya oil once a day throughout the year, and every 2-3 hours during times of allergy flare ups.

    stimulated and flushed by muscular contraction.  My teacher recommends doing as many as your age. I say…divide your age by three. 

  • Avoid self criticism and practice self forgiveness.  One theory popular amongst the naturopaths is that deep seated self hate causes self to attack self (aka, the immune response).  Be conscious of all the times throughout a day when you find yourself in a pattern of negative self talk. Noticing is the first step of changing.  Incorporate this intention in your daily meditation and reflection.  
  • Sleep during the dark hours.  Many restorative metabolic functions ONLY happen at night – including drainage of the glymphatic system which is the newly discovered drainage network in the brain, aka command central for vital unconscious bodily functions (including immune reactions).  A new discovery for the allopaths, yes, but ancient science of Ayurveda tells us the importance of maintaining proper flow of prana through the brain.    
  • Take pippali pepper longum . Some herbal preparations are unfortunately only available in India.  I’ve found this Banyan Bronchial Support to be the closest thing to medicinal herbal wine, which is the best way to take pippali.  Pippali works by soothing inflammation.  
  • Do self oil massage at least once a week.  There is honestly nothing better for allergies than this practice, which works by massaging the lymph vessels and nodes, and thereby flushing our immune system.  Just try it.  Here’s my blog post with instructions
  • For itchy eyes, carry a spray bottle of rose water with you.  It’s all natural, won’t irritate contact lenses, and the rose has cooling, soothing properties.  Use it as needed.  Be sure to get a 100% pure formula with no additives!  My go to is the Heritage brand
  • Take seasonally appropriate foods and avoid eating heavy foods before sleep.  Consult any reputable Ayurvedic cookbook or your local Ayurvedic practitioner for this one.
  • Use ghee.  In all that you cook. Liberal amounts.  This supreme nectar of mother cow has anti-inflammatory properties that help to sooth allergy symptoms.  It withstands high heat and can be used in any recipe as a substitute for any oil.
  • Keep loving, nurturing company.  Just because.

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 12.52.30 PMAbout the author: Katelynn Ingersoll, BSN, RN is a practitioner of Ayurveda, yoga studio owner, and non-profit founder.  You can find her at her spot in center city Philadelphia where she teaches workshops, sees clients, and practices yoga.  For questions, or to schedule a consultation contact her at 610.462.1352 or email halfmoonayurveda@gmail.com.

 

References

Benveniste, H., Lee, H., Volkow, N. (2017). The glymphatic pathway: waste removal from the CNS via cerebrospinal fluid transport.  The Neuroscientist 1-12.  DOI 10.1177/1073858417691030.

Ivker, Rob. Interviewed by John Dulliard. The Life Spa Podcast Library Episode 37. 14 November, 2016.  https://lifespa.com/episode-37-sinus-survival-dr-rav-ivker/

Lad, Vasant (2012).  Textbook of Ayurveda Volume Three:  General Principles of Management and Treatment. Albuquerque, NM: The Ayurvedic Press.

 

 

The Science of Taste : Astringent

Astringent taste is cooling and drying. It’s the perfect combination for summer!

Astringent taste causes mucous membranes to contract and dry up, causing a peculiar drying sensation in your mouth and a therapeutic effect on over active secretions like excess gastric juices in the stomach.

More astringent foods to add to your diet this summer are:

  • pomegranate
  • parsley
  • chickpeas
  • coriander
  • corn
  • millet
  • potatoes

Click here for a full Ayurvedic summer protocol. 

Katelynn Ingersoll, founder and lead Ayurvedic practitioner at Half Moon Ayurveda completed her Ayurvedic studies program at the Ayurvedic Institute in 2012 under Dr. Vasant Lad. She has continued to study extensively with Dr. Lad and other leaders in the field in clinical and apprenticeship settings. She sees clients one on one for diet and lifestyle consultations, Ayurvedic massages and treatments, and guided cleanses.

Schedule an Ayurvedic treatment or consultation today with Katelynn and experience the wisdom of Ayurveda for yourself. Kickstart healing. She has limited appointments in June and is looking forward to hearing from you.

The King Of Seasons

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“…and of seasons, I am the flower-bearing spring,” the king of seasons.

In chapter 10.35 of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna reveals his true nature, “and of seasons, I am the flower-bearing spring,” the king of seasons. It is the time for growth, sprouting, and blooming.  According to Ayurveda, the qualities of spring are warm, moist, gentle, and unctuous. The warmth of spring melts the cold accumulated kapha.  This is why many people experience seasonal allergies. In addition, as flowers shed their fragrance and pollen, many people experience allergies and hay fever.

By honoring seasonal protocols, we honor the laws of nature and of the universe.  Spring is a time for cleansing and cleaning.  Celebrate spring by following seasonal guidelines mid-March through early June.

Good herbs for spring are pippali, black pepper, ginger, fennel, cumin, coriander, and fennel. To make a tea, add one teaspoon of each herb to 4 cups of water. Boil until the mixture is reduced by half. Strain and enjoy. You can also use those herbs liberally in your everyday cooking during the spring months.

Strictly avoid heavy, oily, sour, salty foods.

Limit dairy, including ghee and milk.

Favor bitter, pungent, and astringent foods.

All legumes such as lentils, pinto, and garbanzos are astringent and are highly recommendeIMG_6672d.

Astringent and pungent vegetables and spices include radish, spinach, okra, onions, garlic, black pepper, cayenne and chill peppers.

A cup of hot water with honey eases congestion.  Never cook honey though, as it can clog the channels.

This is a good season to observe fasts of juices of pomegranates and apples.

Wake up early and go for a walk or do some invigorating sun salutations.

Avoid day sleeping, as it aggravates kapha.

 

 

References,

Vasant Lad. The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, Three Rivers Press; 1999. 

By Katelynn Ingersoll

Katelynn is a yoga instructor and practitioner of Ayurveda and completed her Ayurvedic studies prScreen Shot 2017-04-01 at 12.52.30 PMogram at the Ayurvedic Institute (New Mexico) in 2012 under the guidance of Dr. Vasant Lad. Since then, she has continued to study extensively with leaders in the field of Ayurveda in clinical and intensive settings such as Dr. Claudia Welch’s mentorship program and a Gurukula setting with Dr. Lad in Pune, India. She is the director of Hot Yoga Philadelphia, Half Moon Ayurveda and Integrative Health and also the the founder of Philly Yoga Factory, a non-profit organization making yoga and integrative healing arts accessible to underserved communities in Philadelphia. Katelynn practices Ayurveda, organizes workshops, and teaches yoga at her yoga/ intergrative health clinic in Center City Philadelphia.

Emotional Indigestion

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Think of the mind as having two main facets: manas – the thinking, acting mind and buddhi – the remembering mind.

Let us take a moment to think about emotional digestion.  Digestion is happening at a biochemical, cellular, and energetic level in every aspect of our being.  We digest every experience and every emotion. Perfect health depends on perfect digestion. Perfect digestion depends on clear energetic and physiological channels, or srotamsi.  There are srotamsi for the digestion of all substance and experience.  The mind channel, or mano-vaha-strotas is the complex channel responsible for the digestion of all sensory information including mental and emotional experiences.  There are two parts to the mind: manas and buddhi.  Manas includes perception, thinking, and emotion.  Buddhi includes the intellect and the ego identity.  Buddhi is based upon past experiences which can be accumulated genetically, or experientially in this life or in a past life.  Just like we experience indigestion of incompatible foods, the mano-vaha-srotas is prone to emotional indigestion caused by trauma.  Traumas can be deep seated from past experience, or it can be experienced everyday depending on lifestyle factors such as occupational or relationship stressors.

How Trauma Blocks Mano-vaha-srotas

It is the buddhi that becomes affected in deep seated traumas, which can lead to impaired daily experiential perception.  Think of buddhi like this: all your memories (far reaching and recent) and how they affect you on a daily basis.  You are who you are, in part, because of your memories. Negative past experiences can be re-lived every day via our world-view.  Recent psychological studies reveal significantly altered states of agency, or “feeling in charge of your life,” in individuals with a history of trauma (Van der Kolk, 2015).  This is demonstrated in everyday statements of, “he made my skin crawl,” or “you broke my heart.”  A past experience of powerlessness due to trauma leads one to constantly give away their sense of agency.  Consider “I statements” as a way to take back your agency.  The statement, “I’m feeling very upset,” actually gives you the power to choose your emotions.  Accusational language gives away that option. Give yourself adequate time to feel upset after an incident, and then give yourself the same permission to choose to move on.     

Each strotamsi has a root, a passage, and and opening.  Mano – Vaha – Srotas, or mind channel is rooted in the heart, it’s passageway is the entire body and opening is the  sense organs.

Signs and symptoms of afflicted mano-vaha-srotas include recurrent episodes of insecurity, criticism, and comparison.  In other findings, neuroscientists noted the activation of primitive areas of brain functions responsible for self protective behaviors like cowering and startling in patients with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) during everyday socialization.  In the traumatized individuals, there was an overwhelming absence of activation of social engagement related neurons.  The constant veil of negative thoughts furthers the buildup of “emotional toxicity” within the mind channel and prevents us from social connection and presence.  We become paralyzed with fear and insecurities, leading to an inability to cope with the repeated trauma of daily life.  The cycle reinforces itself.  

Without awareness, we may find ourselves in a constant trance of fear based reaction

We must investigate the depths of these harmful behaviors, which may be subconscious in origin. Vedic tradition teaches us that we cannot stop the wheels of karma (the sum of one’s actions based on their history), but that our everyday activities and choices can actively contribute to slowing its effects.  What I mean here is simple.  We cannot change our past experiences.  However, our habitual patterns of emotional response to stimuli can either liberate or further block the mind channel.

So, how do we liberate a toxic mano-vaha-srotas?  Ayurveda tells us that there is no one size fits all method of healing for any condition. Here are some dosha-appropriate signs, symptoms and healing therapies for your consideration:

Pitta  

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Social anxiety is real. Keep your mind channel open and clean with Ayurvedic therapies.

Pitta individuals might manifest their emotional indigestion as anger, judgement, criticism. It can be directed toward the self, or others.   They are prone to a “negativity bias.”  Try journaling as a way to reflect on negative interactions.  A simple, mindfulness based meditation can help in noticing and re-directing negative thoughts.

Vata   

The ether and air qualities of vata dosha make one prone to uncertainty, fear and insecurity.  It can be disabling and permeate every interaction and life experience.  My favorite vata therapy is to take care of something.  If your circumstance allows, consider adopting a pet, engaging in childcare, or even tending to plants.  Chanting, and heart-felt meditations may soothe feelings of loneliness. Yoga is absolutely integral in maintaining a healthy vata constitution.

Kapha  

Behind the jolly, joyful kapha individuals can lie deeply rooted attachment.  Since kapha tends to hold and stagnate, I also find intense pranayamas like kapalbhati (breath of fire) or agni saar (mula lock with stomach pumps) helpful in releasing.  Vigerous yoga including sun salutations is recommended. If communication about emotions or past experience is difficult, start by opening up to an already trusted confidant.   

To find out your own Ayurvedic constitution, or for personalized Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle counseling, email Katelynn at halfmoonayurveda@gmail.com.

About the author:

Katelynn Ingersoll is a an Ayurvedic practitioner with a background in education and a passion for the science of caring.  She is the director of Hot Yoga Philadelphia, a practicing collective member at Half Moon Ayurveda, and an eternal student.

References:

Lad, Vasant.  Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda.  Albuquerque:  The Ayurvedic Press.  2002.

Van der Kolk, Bessel.  The Body Keeps The Score.  New York:  Penguin Books. 2015.

Glazed Carrots, A cookbook review, and a recipe for love by Katelynn Ingersoll

This recipe comes from the first vegetarian cooscreen-shot-2016-11-11-at-11-05-46-amkbook I’ve ever owned, Lord Krishna’s Cuisine, The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, by Yamuna Devi. It’s a beautiful book filled with so much more than thousands of vegetarian recipes.  It is one of my favorite books.  And yet, I admit, that I have only made a few dishes.  Each preparation I’ve made has been complicated and detailed.  Things I don’t really have time for.  These days, when it comes to food, we are obsessed with convenience and speed.  But the recipes in this book are very different. Each one involves beautiful, detailed interactions with each ingredient.  The use of spices and unfamiliar vegetables are demystified. The book teaches that food preparation is a meditation of love and should always be done in the mood of  service and gratitude.

And then there’s reality…which is why I have not tried so many of these recipes.

BUT! With the holidays around the corner, I suspect that maybe there’s going to be an opportunity for us to prepare just one dish with this mood in mind. It doesn’t have to be this dish.  But if you’re looking for that stand out side dish, try this recipe.  It combines the crowd pleasing baby carrot with the flavor of digestion enhancing spices.  After several holiday meals, I think I’ve perfected the recipe…

30 baby carrots, about 1 pound, sliced in half lengthwise

3 tablespoons ghee, or coconut oil

2 tablespoons brown sugar or maple syrup

¼ teaspoon turmeric

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Make it mindful: when you chop vegetables, just chop vegetables.

½ teaspoon coarsely crushed cardamom seeds

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ cup orange or apple juice

⅔ cup still or sparkling mineral water

½ teaspoon salt

⅛  teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Place the carrots in a single layer in a skillet or saute pan with 2 tablespoons of the oil or ghee. Add the sweetener, turmeric, cardamom, coriander, and juice.  Boil, cover, and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer on low for 20-40 minutes, until the carrots are nice and tender.  

When almost all of the water has evaporated, bring the pot to a rapid boil until all the liquid boils away.  Shake the pan to prevent sticking and turn off the heat.  The carrots should be nice and shiny glazed by now.  Add the remaining 1 tablespoon ghee, the pepper, and the parsley.  Shake the pan again.  Just before serving, add the lemon juice.

Offer with love.