As one of the best websites for women in Hawaii, Bodhidevi talks and writes a lot about nutrition and exercise. Nourishing and challenging yourself from the outside in is one of the most essential methods of self-fortification. But caring for yourself goes far beyond yoga, cardio, and kale. Truly prioritizing your health also requires that you work from the inside out, fostering the emotional health and mental resilience necessary for tackling life head-on, courage and integrity intact. To do so, you must be your own best advocate–that is, you must care and stand up for yourself instead of relying on others. When you become your own best advocate, you become independently wealthy in strength, mind, and spirit.
We wouldn’t be one of the best websites for women in Hawaii if we looked only to women’s physical health and neglected women’s empowerment. At Bodhidevi, we want you to feel empowered not just physically, but also mentally and spiritually. This week we discuss just a few of the mental and lifestyle changes you can take in order to become your own best advocate.
In theory, trusting yourself really shouldn’t be a difficult thing to do. You have full autonomy over your decisions and a complete understanding of your perceptions. Shouldn’t you be able to trust yourself more than anyone else?
You should. But that doesn’t mean you do. We live in a world where facts oscillate and constance is fleeting. From unreliable media and an unpredictable sociopolitical climate to the mitigating comments and condescending doubts of others, it can be hard to trust the ground you walk on.
As a woman, it can be particularly difficult to trust yourself sometimes. People may downgrade your experiences, deeming your innate, intuitive perception mere indulgent, irrational grandeur. Women are often told that they’re too emotional or that their trepidations are unfounded. It is not uncommon for others to utilize a woman’s distrust of her own emotions and perceptions to their advantage, to deceptively deny what seems a blatant reality.
One of the best things that you can do to be your own best advocate is to trust yourself. Your intuition is an evolved, adaptive response, one that allowed our ancestors to survive. What our cavewomen ancestors lacked in testosterone-fueled aggression, they made up for in an energetic responsiveness that allowed them to care for their young and respond to changes in their environment. Instead of eschewing that innate response, we should embrace it. If you have a gut response to something, listen to it. Trust yourself. You shouldn’t allow yourself to be fully engulfed by your intuitive assessments, but you shouldn’t stifle or ignore them either. Our bodies are responsive to positive and negative energies, and they are constantly attempting to relay those messages to our brains.
Learn to Say No
Saying yes is a powerful thing. If you don’t say yes to new challenges and new experiences, how can you expect to grow? Saying yes means ushering new lessons, memories, stimuli, and hurdles into your life. It means being uncomfortable for the sake of expanding your mind and strengthening your resilience.
However, as one of the best websites for women in Hawaii, we are here to tell you that learning to say no is just as important as learning to say yes. When you say yes to too many things, you are bound to deplete your energy stores. Working a full time job, parenting two children, exercising for two hours a day, going on a diet with your friend, and heading a charity campaign may sound productive and exciting, but constantly going and doing without any time to relax is unsustainable.
Further, even when you do take time for yourself, you’re mind will remain buzzing and chatty. Having seven ever-growing to-do lists in your brain is overwhelming, even if you’re taking rest in the physical sense. Plus, if you spread yourself too thin, you won’t be able to devote the energy to truly excelling in any single arena. And that may leave you feeling not just exhausted, but also less confident.
Saying no, like saying yes, is a powerful thing. When you say no to a project or commitment, you are effectively stating that you value yourself, your energy, and your time enough to spend it carefully and deliberately. You demonstrate your belief that your health and time should not be subsumed to another endeavor. That your energy is intrinsically valuable and yours to do with as you please. In saying no, you take autonomous control over your life. You preserve your ability to decide what it is important to you.
Prioritize Self Care
Being your own best advocate requires confidence, work, and discipline. Any one of the many websites for women in Hawaii will tell you that. But it also requires being gentle, accepting, and loving with yourself. One of the best ways to practice compassion for yourself is to establish a regular routine of self-care.
Self-care means different things for different women depending on their lifestyles and attitudes. For some, regular exercise and good nutrition is the best way to nourish and energize both body and mind. For others, relaxation and occasional indulgence in a treat may be the best way to express compassion for oneself. Broadly speaking, a self-care practice is one in which you advocate for your own physical and mental health. Physical self-care can include a regular sleep schedule, regular exercise, healthy diet, meditation, rest days, massage, yoga, a hot bath, or a spa day. Mental self-care could include journaling, keeping up with friends, establishing regular alone time, going on a walk, taking a vacation, seeing a therapist, or attending a women’s support group.
Tune into yourself. What parts of you feel depleted? What parts of you are hurting, or angry? And in what parts of your life do you feel incomplete? Answering these questions will help give you an idea of the types of activities you should incorporate into a self-care routine. A good self-care routine re-energizes and heals, filling in the unhealthy lacks and gaps that we may suffer from.
Stress: it’s harmful, it’s agonizing, and it’s ubiquitous. Unfortunately, the modern life is not exactly conducive to a strong, healthy nervous system. Modern living necessitates long commutes, sedentary living, consuming processed foods for the sake of convenience, staying up late, waking up early, sitting in traffic, and more. Even the lights on our phones and computers induce the secretion of stress hormones in the body! Both physical and psychological stress are difficult to “turn off,” so to speak. Thankfully, there are many tips from Ayurveda for stress relief.
The Source of Stress, According to Ayurveda
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, physical and mental stress are the result of bodily imbalance. An imbalance in our doshas, the life force energies, or in our Agni, the digestive fire, causes physical and mental disturbances that generate stress. This stress may manifest as insomnia, anxiety, digestive upset, depression, and rapid heart rate, among other ailments. Further, it can in turn contribute to chronic conditions by disturbing the balance of microflora in the gut, impairing immunity, and undermining reproductive health. Those who experience chronic stress are therefore likely to encounter fatigue, depression, pain, skin irritation, illness, and, over the long term, serious conditions like adrenal dysfunction, hypothyroidism, and even cancer.
The reason that physical and psychological stress are conducive to disease is that they trigger the release of the hormone cortisol. The body releases cortisol in the event of a major stressor to motivate the fight-or-flight response. When our bodies secrete cortisol, we experience a surge of physical energy designed to fuel our fight against, or flee from, a threat. In order to make energy available for fighting or running, cortisol shuts off multiple other bodily functions.
Cortisol secretion is an evolved, adaptive response to danger and the reason that our species survived. However, in modern times, the stress response is rather maladaptive. We are exposed to stressors constantly. Our bodies cannot discern the difference between minor stressors and a threat to life. Thus, in response to insignificant daily stressors, our bodies are constantly secreting cortisol, shutting down the digestive system, suppressing immunity, and disabling the proper functioning of other critical bodily systems.
Ayurveda for Stress: Strengthen and Nourish
In order to tame the cortisol response and ease stress, Ayurveda recommends that we seek to restore balance. Ayurveda for stress maintains that like increases like and opposites balance. Thus, in order to establish balance, it is critical to introduce qualities opposite to those that characterize the stress response. Foods and activities that are strengthening and nourishing effectively counteract stress and anxiety.
One of the primary mediums for introducing strength and nourishment is through diet. Heavy and oily foods are considered strengthening and nourishing. Eating stir fries, soups, and stews that are warm and dense are grounding and soothing. Choosing oils that are rich in omega 3 fats is particularly beneficial, as they will tame the inflammation that cortisol creates. Try consuming kitchari or warm milk with ghee.
Another quality that opposes those of the stress response is stability. Ayurveda for stress recommends practicing dinacharya, the Sanskrit word for “following the rhythm of the day.” Establishing daily routines makes your life more predictable, creating stability.
Our bodies evolved to function in accordance with sun cycles, developing intuitive circadian rhythms. They also evolved to adapt to seasonal changes. The emergence of technology and changes in our economy have led us astray from our intuitive rhythms. We drink caffeine to stay awake finishing projects, or we stay up on our phones, which produce blue light that impairs our ability to produce the sleep hormone melatonin. Establishing a daily routine of rising with the sun, eating, working, and exercising at regular times, and going to sleep just after sunset helps us rekindle our natural rhythms, thereby restoring hormonal and digestive patterns that have been disrupted.
Taking time to slow down and relax is another great way to restore a sense of stability. Take a hot bath, get an Ayurvedic massage, or smell soothing essential oils. Take time to walk in nature. Set aside a day to spend quality time with family and friends to foster healthy, stable relationships. Slow down to enjoy small beauties and appreciate the intelligent simplicity of the natural world.
Ayurveda for stress recommends incorporating regular exercise into your dinacharya practice to ease the mind and body. Regular exercise balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It also encourages elimination and stimulates the lymphatic system, detoxifying the body to alleviate stress-inducing inflammation. Exercise promotes sound sleep, supporting the natural circadian rhythm, and provides the energy and concentration necessary for maintaining other rhythms and schedules.
It is important to keep in mind, though, that overdoing exercise can actually have the converse effect. Excessive exercise can lead to chronic cortisol elevation and, by extension, chronic stress and fatigue. It’s also important to remember that different doshas respond favorably to different types of exercise. Whereas kapha types benefit from vigorous exercise, vata types may find intense exercise overstimulating or draining.
Generally speaking, vata and pitta pacifying exercises like yoga and light cardio are good for stress relief. Yoga can also help to re-establish doshic balance. In combination with pranayama and meditation, yoga helps to release the buildup of toxic substances called ama, relieving physical pain and psychological stress while restoring alignment and reinvigorating the strength and circulation of life energy, or prana.
Believe it or not, acting with gratitude can actually have a significant impact on your health. In fact, ancient Ayurvedic texts actually list acts of service to others as a remedy for stress and poor health. Performing selfless acts in the service of others helps you to get outside of yourself, so to speak, and gain perspective on your worries and your life.
Karma Yoga is another great way to live mindfully and reduce anxiety. Many people are under the impression that Karma Yoga, like Hatha Yoga, is a purely physical practice. But Karma Yoga is actually sattvic action, an act that brings truth to light and inspires humility. Indeed, “Karma” is actually the Sanskrit word for action. Karma Yoga encourages us to revel in the action, to work out of gratitude and not just in the interest of achieving a particular end. When you learn to appreciate processes without identifying with the results they generate, life becomes less stressful and more gratifying. You become capable of releasing the egoistic desire for control that is so conducive to stress and anxiety.
Ghee is an Ayurvedic superfood with both spiritual and nutritional significance, a staple in Ayurvedic cuisine for millennia. It’s also becoming increasingly mainstream in the Western world, with endorsement from prominent holistic professionals piquing the interest of more and more health conscious individuals. But what exactly is ghee, and why should you use it?
Ghee is a form of pure butterfat. It is created by heating butter and removing the water and toasted milk solids, which contain all of the lactose and casein normally present in dairy products. Ghee is very similar to clarified butter, but it is heated longer, lending it a nuttier flavor and a higher smoking point.
With all of the controversy surrounding meat and dairy these days, you might find it surprising that ghee is actually a superior, exceptionally healthy fat, and an excellent source go omega 3’s. No wonder Ayurvedic practitioners have been using ghee in Ayurvedic cuisine for millennia! This week we explore the many benefits of incorporating ghee into your diet.
Ghee in Ayurveda
Ghee has always been nutritionally and spiritually elemental to Ayurvedic practice. Traditionally created by boiling and cooling raw milk, adding yogurt cultures, allowing the mixture to sit for 12 hours, and then churning and simmering it, ghee was incorporated not just into traditional Ayurvedic cuisine, but also into rituals and ceremonies.
In Ayurvedic cuisine, ghee is not just a food, but also a medicine. Ayurvedic practitioners traditionally used ghee in preparation for Panchakarma, an extensive, long-term Ayurvedic cleanse, to begin purifying the body and clearing the digestive tract. Indeed, ghee stokes the digestive fire, or agni, stimulating elimination and enhancing nutrient absorption. Practitioners also recommend ghee for taming both vata and pitta doshas, the former due to ghee’s oily properties and the latter for its cooling abilities.
Ayurveda prescribes ghee as a remedy for a host of other ailments as well. Ghee functions as an aphrodisiac and has the capacity to alleviate physical, emotional, and psychological ailments. Its broad capacities are likely attributable to its ability to increase the body’s life force, or Ojas. Ojas improves vitality and immunity and is essential to the basic, proper functioning of all bodily systems. Ghee can even amplify the healing properties of other herbs and is therefore incorporated in Ayurvedic herbal medicine. It may surprise you to learn than some practitioners use ghee topically in Ayurvedic medicine as well, both in massage and in treating certain skin conditions.
Praise for the many benefits of ghee is not limited to Ayurvedic circles. Many holistic health professionals are beginning to recommend ghee as an allergen-free, nutrient-dense alternative to butter. And it’s becoming quite trendy, too; many people use ghee instead of butter in things like bulletproof coffee.
One of the most beneficial components of ghee is the short chain fatty acid butyric acid. Butyric acid is incredibly nourishing and healing to the gut in several ways. Firstly, it can help repair damaged cells in the intestines and strengthen cells in the colon. Secondly, it promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria while preventing constipation and promoting regularity. Finally, butyric acid strengthens the gut-barrier to prevent pathogens and other harmful compounds from entering the blood stream and stimulating an unnecessary immune response.
Butyric acid’s benefits are not just digestive. It also enables the production of cancer-fighting T-cells and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It canhelp to control insulin spikes and inflammation, thus stabilizing energy, preventing fat storage, and reducing water weight.
Conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, is another beneficial compound in ghee. Like butyric acid, CLA yields a multiplicity of astonishing benefits. CLA is able to protect the body from the toxic impact of carcinogenic materials while also preventing diabetes and the buildup of plaque in crucial arteries. It also reduces inflammation, taming and event treating an array of inflammation-induced chronic diseases. Finally, studies demonstrate that the consumption of CLA can promote fullness, stable energy, and weight loss. Broadly speaking, the fatty acids in ghee increase the body’s capacity to burn fat.
The liver can easily metabolize the short and medium chain fatty acids in ghee into energy. When the body is able to use fatty acids for energy production, it is more inclined to burn fat. It also prevents the insulin spikes and crashes that can lead to energy depletion, insulin resistance, and weight gain. Ghee’s nutritious fats will keep you full and energized, deterring you from reaching for sugar and caffeine throughout your day. They enhance mitochondria function as well, improving both physical and mental stamina.
Ghee can also improve long-term energy levels. That’s because it prevents malnutrition by functioning as an ample source of fat-soluble vitamins. Ghee contains vitamin A for good vision, vitamin K for strong bones, and vitamin E for healthy skin and hair. Because ghee has the ability to heal the digestive tract, it can also aid in general nutrient absorption, preventing malnutrition.
What Gee is NOT
Ghee is also incredibly nourishing due to the things that it does not contain. Because the toasted milk solids are removed from ghee in the production process, it does not contain inflammatory or allergenic lactose or casein. If you purchase ghee produced from grass-fed butter, you also protect your body from the growth hormones, antibiotics, and pathogens contained in conventional butter and other dairy products.
Ghee is also less likely to oxidize and produce free radicals than other oils. That’s because ghee has a very high smoke point of 485 degrees Fahrenheit. When you heat oils to their respective smoking points, they begin to produce acrylamide and other toxic substances that can cause oxidative damage and inflammation. Because ghee’s smoke point is so high, it is far less likely to produce these damaging substances than other oils, which reach their smoking points more easily.