Essentialoils1

Oil lovers unite. It’s Spring and it’s about time we discuss essential oils. I always feel like some stealth superhero when I use oils. They seem to last forever if stored properly, so I tend to forget I have them. When I’m looking for an extra Ayurveda boost I pull them out and BAM, I’m climbing up vertical buildings. It also amazes me that you can do as little as inhale an oil and it will be directly carried into the brain to influence emotions, memories, or creativity. Ayurveda is wild.

Let’s rewind a bit to 5000 years ago when essential oils were refereed to as aromatic essences. (Poetic I know.) So it goes, in Vedic texts these essences were fragrant herbs, flowers and barks that were burnt to enhance healing and meditation. The Charaka Samhita states is used aromatic oils for massage and marma therapy. It also discusses how oils were used as garlands and fragrances as aphrodisiacs and to promote well-being.

These days, we use them to unclog pores after a night of drinking. (Again, poetic.)

Essential oils, past and present, are derived from plants, flowers, fruits, leaves, wood, resin, bark, root or seeds. Here is a breakdown of what each do for you.

Flowers – relaxing & sedative
Wood, Bark & Resin – heating & increases circulation
Leaves – cooling & clearing
Roots – grounding
Fruits – stimulating & expanding
Seeds – tonic

I spoke here about which oils benefit what dosha and talked here about Ayurveda Skin types.  I also broke down using essential oils to make a perfume here. But what else can you use oils for?

Abhyanga Massage: In a 1 ounce bottle add about 15 drops of oil to a carrier oil (Sesame vata Coconut pitta Sunflower kapha.)

Bathing: 5 – 10 Drops of oil in water immediately before entering bath.

Compresses: 3-6 Drops of essential oil in 4oz of hot water. Soak washcloth in mix and apply to skin.

Foot Bath: 15-20 drops of oil in 2 quarts of warm watch.

Oil Diffusers: There are many different types of diffusers including, candle, electric heat or cool air nebulizing diffuser. They tend to break down how much essential oil is used for each.

Also check out how and what essential oils I incorporate in my Ayurveda Toolbox and how I use them when I travel.

Spreading little drops of oil goodness over your week!

Some things to note: Ayurveda does not advise using essential oils internally, avoid contact to eyes and mucous membranes, do not use citrus oils before being exposed to UV light, and do not use oils on infants, children, pregnant women, elderly or those with serious health issues without speaking with a doctor. As always if you are unsure, contact an Ayurveda Practitioner. 

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Guys. I have not forgotten about you, this blog, pizza. (What?)

I’m finishing up my one year design portfolio school program and have a 1,000,000.01 things to finish. It’s exciting to finish up something you’ve worked on for a whole year but it’s also completely terrifying. So I did the only reasonable thing and decided to take a few days off to go to Michigan with some friends.

We spent our days hiking, watching Happy Endings and discussing all things vulnerable. (I sure know how to market a vacation.) Mornings were spent slowly sipping coffee with the crisp 40 degree wind sinking into my pores, the sun there to keep ears from frostbite. We read and journaled and discussed the latest turn of events over wine.

And while all these conversations were happening I was finding out things we so easily shy away from. One being a conversation where my friend brought up how she constantly feels bombarded by information, especially when it comes to health. She has no idea what to believe, what to give up, what to keep and more. She loves the idea of Ayurveda, but doesn’t feel like it’s suitable for her life. There are so many parts and so much that goes into it, that she doesn’t think she can keep up.

And the truth is, I used to feel that too. I would dive head first into a health kick, only to be left puzzled and less knowledgable than when I began. I believed that I would forever live this way. That there would always be a new craze that I would have to keep up with. I thought being complete and whole in health was a lie we told ourselves as a country. America.

First things first, I don’t have the body my sixteen year old self was really pushing for, but I have health, good digestion and a full heart. When I found Ayurveda, it is was what I was searching for the whole time. The art of living, jam-packed with information, enough for every situation and catered to you. Hell yes it’s totally overwhelming. And you will never know it all or live the ideal schedule everyday. But you will live your ideal schedule. You make it come to life. You pick what will make you happiest, what your body needs more or less of and what’s real to you.

Does this scare the shit out of you? Having to be in control of your health. Not being able to follow a plan that maps out every single meal, workout and sleeping times. Then we have something in common.

But like a good Chicken Soup for the soul classic would say – Everything you want is on the other side of fear. 

Because once you commit, you’ll realize your body tells you what to do. It’s not going to happen overnight. But it will happen. Every action helps and you never have to do it all. Know that everything you are doing is helping, and if you do as little as dry brushing, know that you are practicing Ayurveda. Know, that is enough.

To all my halfers out there. You are killing it. Start wherever you are and celebrate that. The more you incorporate Ayurveda into your life, the more it will meet you half way. You’ll know the next step for yourself. Trust that and trust yourself.

Okay enough weird soapbox moments. It’s Sunday. I wish you all the lying around with the windows open, or long runs if that’s your thing. Maybe even some homemade chocolate, a long self-care session or a cool glass of rose.

Sandalwood

Hello my Ayurveda enthusiasts! Spring is at the tips of our fingers and I’m finally hopeful that I can stop sleeping with two pairs of pants on. What a wonderful metaphor as we head into Kapha season and begin to let go of the winter weight.

We are entering the Ritu Sandhi time period, so make sure you are taking the time for morning routines, daily routines, Sunday night routines, or even some small routines. Doesn’t that sentence make you wonder if routine has always been spelt that way? 

Here are some things I’m up to during the transition.

1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Oh no, have I joined the cult? This past weekend I went through everything I owned. I did a closet sweep a few week prior, but I was still able to get rid of 1.5 trash bags. My space feels oh so crisp. I was even able to take what was once a scarf shelf and turn it into a book shelf. If you own scarfs, I know you can relate to them never staying folded. Getting rid of that mess? Instant joy. I highly recommend clearing your space in prep for the new season. It will make the transition easier and bring more clarity to the mind, for real :x!

2. Authentic Sandalwood Powder. When one of my friends was visiting his home in India, he asked what he could bring me back. I quickly asked for more sandalwood powder (since it’s extremely hard to get and can’t be exported to the states :x). What he returned with, was a mortar and pestle (as pictured above). I laughed at his honest attempt. Turns out, he was so right and this is how his family gets their sandalwood powder. It’s directly sourced from sandalwood trees, which in 1972 were considered sacred and deemed property of the government. Sandalwood is serious business. You most certainly have to work for your facial mask, but it’s Kapha season and we could amp up our intensity.

3. Podcasts. When you are feeling sluggish podcasts are great ways to get the mind moving. Just pop it on as you clean, do work, or simply lay. It can also serve as a motivator and give you insight into new ways of doing things. Some of my favorites are anything by Tim Ferriss (check out the Tony Robbins episode), Dear Sugar Radio (great night time story listening), and Design Matters with Debbie Millman. If you are a NAMA member, they have an archive of past calls. If you can get passed the quality, it’s a great resource for current day Ayurveda.

If you are interested in a guided spring cleanse, Dr. Blossom & Kate Schwabacher offer a wonderfully priced 10 day online cleanse.

On to you. What will you be doing in the next few weeks to lighten the transition into Spring. And more importantly, any podcast recommendations?

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Sidenote: I originally wrote this post in August after Lollapalooza. I never got around to publishing it and I haven’t edited it since. But with festival season coming up I wanted to share my experience. I’m not planning to go to any festivals this year but that could change. For the record, Ayurveda does not endorse drinking in the sun.

If you read my last post you could almost presume that I won’t turn down a good festival. But because I know myself and know how Vata stimulating festivals can be, I typically only choose one to go to each Summer. After moving to Chicago in March, it went without saying that it would be Lollapalooza. Even against the challenge of 100,000 humans smack dab in the middle of summer.

In the past I’ve stayed away from festivals this big and I’ve learned that I appreciate the non-camping aspect of a longer festival. While I love camping, the combination of camping and festivals requires too much planning which throws my Pitta into high gear before I’m even at the event.

So lets recap. Friday Morning I went for a run, drank green juice and had an egg breakfast. I wasn’t sure how nutrients would connect with the rest of the weekend so I started strong. I headed to the festival by myself around 1pm. I really want to see Lucius and nobody else was as eager. While I thought heading in alone would be the worst, I ended up loving it.

When I’m at these events my alter ego – the spiritual tomboy – hops right out. This spiritual tomboy loves to dance around, weasel in between crowds and soak up every aspect of what’s in front of her. So give her the freedom of not having to wait around for anyone and you’ve got a golden situation.

On the first day I made sure to drink a bottle of water in between every drink. I also took a long mid-day break and had some chicken. I wanted to get an extra bit of grounding in. Next I continued on and danced all night. I even ended up splitting off on my own again. I’m still drinking water heavily at this point. I also stopped drinking around 7 to assure I could dance it all out before bed.

After the show ended I headed straight to the exit. I knew if I got caught in a ridiculous crowd my Pitta would come out in full force, very impatient (obv). When I got home I washed my feet off with cold water to cool my body down and climbed in bed.

As soon as I closed my eyes I could hear the loud music and feel little Vata jumping up and down. I knew that I wasn’t going to fall asleep easily. I remained calm and went on.

The next morning was my birthday so I could do whatever I wanted. I went to spin to sweat out any junk from the day before and came home to have a big lunch and do yoga nidra (long grounding session before the madness). I didn’t think much about how to stay balanced this day besides drinking water, I played the rest of the day on feel.

It was my favorite day.

With spiritual tomboy in full force, she convinced everyone to go out after being out at the festival all day. (Things that happen when my Vata is too high for my own good.) It was still fun. The next morning was not.

Sunday, the final day had me wondering what the heck I was thinking. But I’d been waiting years to see the Avett Brothers and I was convinced Chromeo would turn my mood around. If nothing else Glen Hansard could lullaby me into a deep sleep on the grass. I didn’t arrive back to the jungle until around 4. It was filled with downpours and dancing. I didn’t hate it. In fact, as I danced I felt lighter, more alive and humbled by the production. The rain became symbolic for washing away things that were ready to go. As I got on the train to head back home around 7 (I needed to switch gears with Monday fast approaching) I felt a sense of surrender for it all and excitement for what lies ahead.

What I was not expecting was the crash I would experience the following few days. I couldn’t listen to music (my lifeline) for a week, and I felt permanently exhausted (Kapha coming to the rescue.) This wasn’t my first three-day fest, but I think it was the magnitude of people, stages, heat, and walking, lots and lots of walking. Now 5 days later I feel like I’m coming back into my alignment, my self and I’m feeling good about it.

In the future I would give myself time on the other end to rest and not have to hop back into the week, but other than that, it all fell into place. I find in moments where my balance is all over the place, I can see things in a different light. An odd, odd reset button that helps wash away things that were once stuck to prepare the body for new opportunities and experiences.

Chia4

This is the last week of the I Quit Sugar 8 week plan. I never intended to go this long. I told myself a month and then I would re-evaluate. Here I am two months later and don’t plan to stop anytime soon. I have had sugar unconsciously (margaritas for the win), but other than that, avoiding it hasn’t been much of an issue. There was that stint at week 4 that made me wonder why I was even doing this, but once I got past that point it all changed. I’m loving the freedom that letting go of a bad habit brings and the self-discovery that comes along with it. Nerd status.

In the meantime, treats like these help. Being able to make your own food is a major tool when giving up sugar. I tend to make a treat or two over the weekends. While I made a big batch of Chocolate on Friday to take to a friends, it was time to make chocolate that’s not allowed to leave the house.

Now we all know how nut butters go. You have one bite, and maybe just one more, and one last one etc. So how about we just jump to the chase and say this whole jar is one serving size. Kind of like those cookie butter jars at Trader Joes. I heard you aren’t allowed to get up until the whole thing is gone.

Really though, this thing will last for a while stored in the refrigerator. So enjoy. You can also freeze some in a cupcake pan to make it more of an ice cream butter type of treat. Say what?

Chia Cacao Cashew Butter
(I was playing with the ingredients so they aren’t exact, but you are looking for a little thicker than peanut butter texture. Also the Chia seeds will absorb as they sit in the butter which will make the crunch go away)

1 cup of raw cashews
1/2 cup of cacao
1/4 cup of chia seeds
1/2 cup of Brown Rice Syrup
1/2 cup of coconut milk
2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil
1 Teaspoon of vanilla

1. Grind cashews in a food processor till smooth. Add in the rest of ingredients and blend. Pour into a jar, throw on rice cakes, toast, or just eat by the spoonful.