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5 Ayurvedic Tools for Grounding

Summer and I have felt a strong pull to study Ayurveda for years. Back in Florida, we were introduced to iconic text, The Yoga of Herbs by Dr. Vasant Lad. It sparked a new way of seeing our food, understanding healing herbs and our bodies. We couldn’t get enough of making our own ghee, mixing adaptogenic curry blends & having a pot of kitchari on the stove at all times.

Last fall, we started studying at the Dhyana Center under DeAnna Batdorf and have taken our love of Ayurveda to a whole new level. The Foundations of Ayurveda Course has powerfully blended Western Herbalism with Ayurveda in a way that makes it approachable for modern times. Most of all, learning these practices steeped in a foundation of elemental theory, have given us a renewed sense of empowerment to make decisions that will bring our bodies back into balance on a daily level. Here are a few of those practices that anyone can do to support overall well being.

e l e m e n t s  // Ayurveda reminds us that everything is made up of the elements. We know this by our daily direct experiences and observations. We walk outside and notice the weather, the shape of leaves on a tree, the crunch of the ground under our feet—there’s ether, air, fire, water and earth. When we’re experiencing an excess or deficiency in one of the elements, we can balance it with the opposite.

That means, if we’re running cold or dry we need more warming wet foods to balance those elements in the body. On the other hand, if we’re damp or have a lot of mucus with inflammation, then we need cleansing and cooling foods or herbs. Try noticing how your body feels throughout the day. Are you called to certain foods or flavors? Try using the tool ‘balancing with the opposite’ and see if you feel a shift.

b r e a t h  // We have a choice every second to decide how we want to respond to life through our breath. If there is one take-away from this ancient science it is learning how to breath and being aware of your breath to make positive changes in your life. Our breath is our communication with our bodies. Our glands, or chakras, are the first affected, they signal the hormones, nervous system and organs to function accordingly to the state of our breath. Are we telling our bodies we’re anxious by holding our breath? Are we communicating that we’re calm by taking deep full inhales and being aware of our exhales? Just coming back to being mindful of the breath is so powerful even if its only for a few moments. Meditation helps us to settle into this awareness more often. See how many times throughout the day you can bring your awareness back to your breath—in traffic, at the computer or before eating a meal.

o i l  //  Self oil massage, or ahbayanga, is such a beautiful gift we can give ourselves to help move the lymphatic fluid that’s right under our skin. Unlike our blood, the lymph doesn’t have a giant pump moving it through the body. The lymph moves when we move. It gets sluggish and stagnant when we get sluggish and stagnant. Oh, and the lymph is also our immune system! Rarely do we recognize that in fact our lymph health is the basis of our immune health. Start by doing some dry brushing before getting into the shower, making long strokes from your feet and hands towards your heart. Next, apply some warm oil, sesame is great, and massage your body in the same way you dry brushed. Don’t worry about washing off the oil with soap in the shower. The warm water allows the oil to penetrate the skin for deep moisture that is truly calming to the nervous system.

s a l t  // These edible crystals have been prized throughout time for its healing properties and distinct flavor. The magic of salt begins in its formation—-when the electromagnetic charge of the oceans waves makes contact with the charge of land, it creates an electrolyte crystal we know as sea salt. Electrolytes allow the body to send electrical signals from one cell to another.  Adding magnesium rich grey sea salt to your daily water helps support the kidneys to move water where it needs to go in the body properly. If you find that you drink a ton of water and also pee a lot, salt will help you to absorb more of the water. Try adding 1/2 tsp of grey salt to your daily water. If it tastes too salty add less. You can always adjust salt to taste.

s p i c e  //  Ancient people knew the enzymatic power of spices to help support digestion. Spices not only make your food come alive, but they also have important functions in the body. Without proper enzymes the body has a hard time breaking down food and absorbing nourishment. Let your taste buds be your guide when adding spices to your food. They are great tools to use when ‘balancing with opposites’ during meal time. Try adding more warming spices like cardamom and ginger to your meals when you’re running cold. Bitter spices likes methi leaf (fenugreek leaf) and turmeric are great if you need more cooling-cleansing in your meals.

Ready to learn more about traditional foods and elemental herbalism? Join us for a grounding weekend as we focus on releasing blockages while helping you tap into your deep creative potential. The adventure includes 3 nights stay at the beautiful desert oasis, Korakia Pensione, menu curated by yours truly, daily yoga with Nina Endrst, herbal cooking workshops + so much more!

Pop over to FP Escapes to reserve your spot for this magical weekend getaway!

Elemental Eating: The Secret to Nourishing Harmoniously

I’ve been wanting to share this post for some time now. After being halfway through our Ayurvedic Clinical Program, I’ve felt these concepts sink deeper and have been using the elements to better understand, not just herbs, but the world around me. In a way, it’s a ‘re-learning.’ What inspires me most about studying Ayurveda is how intuitive it can be, but how intuition is also like a muscle that needs training. You have to relearn to see the world through your sense organs and to understand the connections between the way something looks, smells, tastes, sounds, feels and how that is going to react to the body.

With so many people flocking to herbal medicine and ancient practices these days, and with all of the new information out there, it becomes harder to know what is right for your own unique body. Even though high priced cold-pressed juice and blue algae are the chic new beautifying ‘cure all’ it might not be the best thing for YOU, personally. Something that often gets missed when profiling specific plants or potions, is who they are suited for. What I mean by that is, what energetics does it have? Its it going to support someone who runs cold and dry? Or is it going to cool someone down that tends to run hot and has inflammation?

Ayurveda, though a complex and sophisticated system of healing, has a beautiful way of reminding us that, at the simplest level, everything is made up of elements. By using this simple principle, we can unlock the essence of our food, herbs and self-care rituals to use them as tools to find balance everyday. Once you know what your constitution or dosha is, you’re much more likely to ‘intuitively’ know what your body is calling for. Here are some examples of constitutional imbalances:

COLD | cold hands + feet, poor circulation, slow digestion, low energy, tends to worry

DRY | rough skin, dehydrated, low blood pressure, overthinks

HOT | lots of energy, acidic metabolism, heartburn, red complexion or rashes, overworks

WET | poor metabolism, sluggish energy, water retention or puffy, overeats

OPPOSITES as REMEDIES – AIR | FIRE | WATER | EARTH

When we’re experiencing an imbalance, the first thing we can do is the opposite of what we’re experiencing. For example, if you’re feeling cold, grab a warm cup of tea or some soup with lots of ginger and grab your favorite socks to warm up your feet. Better yet, make yourself a warm foot soak while enjoying your tea! When looking for herbal allies to support your dosha, don’t be afraid to use your senses to have an understanding of their energetics. What color is it? Does is taste bitter, astringent, pungent, sweet? Here are some examples of using opposites for balance:

COLD needs WARMING | warm soups/stews, broths, pungent, sour and sweet flavors, grounding self-care rituals, soaks/scrubs and needs to eat consistently.

Warming herbs | ashwagandha, ginger, cinnamon, tulsi 

DRY needs NOURISHING | wet cooked foods, broths/stews, sweet and salty flavors, abhyanga or oilinate the skin, grazing on food throughout the day.

Nourishing herbs | licorice root, cardamom, basil, cilantro 

HOT needs COOLING | raw, wet and alkaline foods, bitter and astringent flavors, taking rest, eating three meals on time each day.

Cooling herbs | aloe vera, mint, fennel, dill 

WET needs CLEANSING | raw, juices, light foods, sour, pungent, bitter flavors, steams, salt scrubs and invigorating self-care rituals, daily exercise and eating three small meals a day.

Cleansing herbs | elecampane, rosemary, thyme, black pepper 

Each one of us comes into the world with a unique constitution, also known as your Prakruti. This is your foundation and the result of your parents’ constitutions which are the result of their parent’s constitutions… and your entire ancestry. Pretty fascinating! When you know what your foundation is you’re better equipped to know when you’re in balance and when you’re not.

Try noticing when you feel like you’re running warmer that usual or when you’re skin is a bit dyer that normal. Can you think of any plant allies that would be cooling and soothing? Notice the properties of the foods and plants you tend to use the most or feel drawn to. Is there an intuitive balance already happening in your life? Keep working out your ‘intuitive muscle’ by seeing, tasting, touching, smelling and listening to what is around you and what you take in.

If you’d like to learn more about elemental eating, join us for a 3-day retreat in Palms Springs with Free People + Nina Endrst. We’ll be whipping up magical meals using the elements to help release your blocks and ground into your most creative self. Spots are going quick so reserve yours today

FEBRUARY // Things We Love

We’re only two months into 2017 and I’ve gotta to say, it definitely feels different. With all the craziness going on it has been super grounding to spend time with friends and family and put more energy into my workout schedule. I’ve been running and doing yin yoga about 3-4x a week to reduce stress. Here are some pieces of inspiration and experiences that are keeping me inspired, healthy, and grounded through turbulent times. Plus–some beautiful gems I’ve had my eyes on.

Visited Florida and went to the Dali Museum, which is now featuring an exhibit on Frida Kahlo. I never realized her first surrealist painting was arguably of Luther Burbank, who is a famous botanist, horticulturist, and passionate plant lover.

Inspired by this photo of Georgia O’Keeffe’s kitchen–holy organization!

Need this shirt by Modern Women, in pink. Grab back!

These Animal Spirit Cards, too. Though I already know my current spirit animal is an otter.

Loving this interview on Gingertooth & Twine, it’s between my two herb school sisters Sienna (Moon Minded Medicine) and Spencre (Gingertooth).

Heidi turns everything to gold! Loving her new series Fridge Crawl, featuring the array of ingredient she keeps handy in her fridge. Definitely good for some cleaning inspo.

Been rubbing 3-4 drops of palmarosa essential oil topically on my jaw each night. My Ayurvedic teacher DeAnna taught me this trick for teeth grinding.

Been mostly sugar-free, infusing coconut oil gifted to us by Nutiva in these date filled tahini cups. So delicious! Thinking these would be perfect to infuse maca or shatavari into.

Dreaming up our May retreat in Palm Spring with Free People + Nina Endrst Yoga. Join us for yoga, medicinal foods, and a trip to Joshua Tree!

XO

Summer

Free People x Kosmic Kitchen // Palm Springs Retreat

We’re over the moon to announce that we’ll be teaming up with Free People to lead their #FPEscapes retreat in Palm Springs this May!

Join us for a grounding weekend as we focus on releasing blockages while helping you tap into your deep creative potential. The adventure includes 3 nights stay at the beautiful desert oasis, Korakia Pensione, menu curated by yours truly, daily yoga with Nina Endrst, herbal cooking workshops + so much more!

Pop over to FP Escapes to reserve your spot for this magical weekend getaway!

Photos from Korakia + Free People

 

Everyday Rituals for a Kosmic Kitchen

We’re excited to share another collaboration with the lovely and inspiring, Jamie Arrigo. Her blog Wallace & James shares a hands on approach to all things wellness from a real and grounded perspective for mama and baby. Its not easy juggling being a mama, wife and photographer so we offered a few ‘holistic hacks’ to jump start nourishment in the new year that anyone can use. Pop over to W&J to to read the full post.

How to Use Botanical Oils

In the depths of winter there is nothing that feels more nourishing to the skin than abhyanga, the Ayurvedic self-care technique of lathering and massaging your body with oil–from head to toe. Often this oil is applied warm and infused with botanical herbs, which can be tailored to promote everything from cognitive function to joint health.

While this remedy is one of our favorites of the season, there are plenty of other ways to use infused herbal oils, or as we call them–botanical oils.

O I L  R I T U A L S

Abhyanga // Ayurvedic massage ritual that is performed with warm oil, often with botanical oils for your specific body type or constitution. When this ritual is performed regularly, 2-4x a week, you may find that your skin is softer, sleep comes on more naturally, and joints feel more lubricated.

Breast Massage // We learned this ritual from shaman and ethnobotanist Rocio Alarcon, who acquired it from her own lineage of Ecuadorian healers.  You can often find her teaching here, but in the meantime just use your two hands and massage daily with an oil infused with lymph-loving calendula or a simple sesame seed oil. This ritual helps with lymph congestion, and in turn helps to keep our immune system healthy–plus it’s a relaxing daily breast check.

Cooking // This way of using oil is probably the most obvious, but the options are endless. Use thyme, rosemary, basil, or whatever herbs you have handy! Then you have an easy way to kick your salad dressings up a notch!

Ear Oil // Traditionally made with garlic and mullein, we learned how to use this oil to reduce ear aches from Rosemary Gladstar.

Gua Sha // Use a botanical oil, or a simple sesame seed oil when applying the technique of gua sha. This healing therapy is popular in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and is incredible for removing blockages in the body and promoting whole body wellness.

Hair + Scalp Treatment // When we’re feeling dry and flakey (it’s the worst, we know), try lathering your scalp in an oil infused with calendula blooms, rosemary, or a simple coconut oil. Leave it in your hair for 15-30 minutes, and then wash it out with shampoo or soap and water. An added bonus–your hair will shine all week long.

Herbal Castor Pack // We’ve both suffered from ovarian cysts, and one of our favorite alternative therapies for these suckers are castor oil packs externally on the abdomen. You can even try mixing in a botanical oil in for added benefit, plus folks use this alternative therapy for all kinds of detoxing.

Back + Body Massage // Try massaging arnica oil and/or St. John’s wort oil directly on sore spots, post chiropractic care, or try relaxing partner massage with kava kava oil.

Medicine Making // We love infusing botanical oils like calendula, rosemary, and plantain into our lymph stimulating salt scrubs, nourishing body lotions, or an inflammation reducing plantain + chickweed bite salve.

Moon-time Massage // We’ve often relied on a simple home-made cannabis oil to relieve cramps, by massaging over the abdomen topically, but we’ve heard cramp bark (a popular anti-spasmodic herb) can do wonders too. We’ve had our eyes on Holy Sponge’s Our Lady of Mercy Salve, which base is made with anti-spasmodic herbal oil.

Oil Pulling // Technically, we wouldn’t used infused botanical oils for this, but it’s an Ayurvedic oil ritual we adore. Simply swish around coconut or sesame oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes each morning to lower plaque and gingivitis risk.

If it’s feeling a little expensive to buy these botanical oils, cut the costs by creating your own. When we can’t grow and dry herbs from our own gardens, we turn to our favorite local shop West County Herb Company or national seller Mountain Rose Herbs.

 

DECEMBER // Things We Love

My partner Chris and I are back from Thailand after a ten day trek and still feeling the sunny glow! The photo above was taken at an artist collective in Chang Mai, called Baan Kang Wat. If you have the chance to check it out, I highly recommend it. We got tons of amazing treasures there: handmade pottery, wooden spoons, indigo dyed aprons, stationary, and more.

These rainy NorCal vibes are in stark contrast with our last couple weeks in Thailand with fresh coconuts in tow, but I’m slowly getting back into the groove, recovering from jet lag, and crafting my Christmas list. Many of the links below are things I’ve had my eye on! This season I’m focusing on giving and receiving things that last. A huge goal for me is to reduce waste and to invest even more of my dollars into ethical and mindful companies.

Have you heard about Chamba Pottery? It’s definitely on my wish-list. Handmade in South America by families who’ve crafted these vessels for hundreds of years, from simple earth-based materials.

Needing this Noda Horo enamel tea pot and more of this tea, a.k.a. “Peace Cloud.”

Just bought Matthew Wood’s newest book, The Earthwise Herbal Repertory. I can’t wait to dive into this one, maybe I’ll get nerdy during this upcoming Chistmas holiday! 

Adult Rainbow by Magic Carpet Yoga Mats

I was thrilled to meet Sophie at Spirit Weavers and I got this epic magic yoga mat by her brand Magic Carpet Yoga Mats. All her designs are incredible! I’ve been stretching out on it after my long commute, and it makes me feel like f’n goddess.

I’m looking to feel a little less guilty while indulging in holiday desserts this season. Thinking I need to make this and this to nourish my sweet tooth.

Has anyone used these? Or these? Looking to go nearly-zero waste around the kitchen and these both seem like wonderful tools. Loving Litterless + Trash is for Tossers for quick waste-free inspiration. 

I can’t get over how much I love Willow Smith. I could listen to Wait a Minute a thousand times, and her cover of King Krule is on repeat right now.

Have any herbal holiday treats you’ve been whipping up? Be sure to tag us in them using #radicalwitch, we’d love to take a peek inside your magical kitchen!