It never hurts to brush up on the basics! Check out our first blog post on doshas, types of yoga, and all of the other essential principles of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda: some readers are intimately familiar with it, and others may have never even heard the word. For some it conjures thoughts of kitchari and meditation. For others it invokes images of certain types of yoga poses. In our introductory blog, we hope to teach you about the core principles of Ayurveda and, by extension, share the ideas that give life and purpose to Bodhidevi.
In simple terms, Ayurveda is a wellness philosophy that originated in early Indian civilization over 5,000 years ago. Perhaps one of the first forms of holistic medicine, Ayurveda prescribes dietary and lifestyle changes in accordance with each individual’s unique body to promote health and balance. The practicing different types of yoga is one of Ayurveda’s primary prescriptions, the philosophy advocates various wellness practices.
But Ayurveda isn’t simply a diet or exercise regimen. It’s a philosophy designed to optimize every facet of the individual, including mind, emotions, and spirit. It encourages spiritual practice and engagement with nature in the interest of restoring our innate intimacy with ourselves and with the planet. When we practice Ayurveda, we become attuned to our most raw, pure, and divine form. When we become acquainted with the beauty of our innate self, we awaken to the interconnectedness of the self with all beings and energetic forces.
Ayurveda honors the sacredness of individuality.
Different individuals possess different physical and mental attributes. As each of our bodies and minds differ, so too do our nutritional, physical, and emotional needs. Ayurveda recognizes and respects each person’s bio-individuality and seeks to cater to the unique needs of each individual. Acknowledging that different people are prone to different diseases, digestive problems, psychological ailments, mental capacities, and energy levels, Ayurveda stipulates that understanding an individual’s unique body and mind absolutely must precede medicinal treatment.
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, we are born with a unique prakriti, or constitution. One’s praktiri consists of one’s unique balance of the three doshas, or energetic life forces. The first dosha, vatta, governs the breath, heart, nerves, consciousness, and happiness. The second, pitta, regulates appetite, digestion, nutrient absorption, intelligence, bravery, and drive. Finally, Kapha manages stability, order, grounding, growth, strength, energy, memory, empathy, water, and fat regulation. Different individuals possess different ratios of the three doshas, and thus have different praktiri.
It is essential to ascertain the nature of one’s praktiri before suggesting treatments or lifestyle changes, such as dietary changes of practicing different types of yoga or meditation. The balance between our doshas at birth is our point of homeostasis, the place in which our body thrives. Each individual possesses different needs in accordance with his or her praktiri. Therefore, according to Ayurveda, understanding your own inherent, optimal balance is the key to determining your medicinal and lifestyle needs.
Ayurveda inspires us to seek balance.
There is nothing inherently wrong with any of the doshas. However, years of unhealthy, stressful living can cause doshic excess, which, in turn, leads to distress and disease. Excessive vata is conducive to anxiety, emotional limitation, constipation, dry skin, poor circulation, insomnia, and malnourishment. Excessive pitta can cause rage, envy, reflux, overheating, diarrhea, headaches, skin conditions, inflammation, and insomnia. Attachment, stubbornness, lethargy, obesity, oversleeping, depression, edema, and sinus infections all indicate too much kapha. In general, if you stray too far from your praktiri, you will experience doshic imbalances that will damage your health.
The objective of Ayurveda is to treat disease and promote health by balancing the doshas and restoring your praktiri. In order to do so, you must balance the gunas—the basic qualities of objects and life forms. The gunas include hot vs. cold, dry vs. oily, dense vs. liquid, soft vs. hard, and heavy versus light. Certain gunas are associated with certain doshas. For example, dryness is associated with vatta. Thus, if you are experiencing excessive Vatta, you want to consume more oily foods to balance your dryness. This notion is based on the Ayurvedic principle that like increases like and opposites balance. Restoring the gunas opposite to those which characterize your excessive dosha therefore establishes doshic balance.
Achieving doshic balance also requires living in accordance with the season. Eating in season not only means eating locally grown, in-seasons foods; it also requires that we balance the gunas of that season. For example: winter is characterized by excessive cold, so we should eat hot foods in the winter to balance that guna.
Ayurveda is a medicinal way of living.
Ayurveda seeks to promote the health of the entire person. Achieving doshic balance is not just a means of healing the body. Rather, Ayurveda understands that doshic balance is linked to mental, spiritual, and emotional health as well. Thus, Ayurveda does not simply treat ailments with food or supplements. Rather, it encourages us to lead a balanced lifestyle in accordance with our doshic make up. For some, that may mean getting more cardiovascular exercise and practicing deep breathing. For others, it may mean getting more sleep or practicing certain types of yoga. The objective of Ayurveda is help the individual discover the lifestyle patterns most conducive to health and happiness.
Oftentimes it is lifestyle choices in the first place that cause doshic imbalance. Restoring doshic balance and achieving svasthya, or the state of equilibrium in which we are most healthy, thus requires lifestyle alterations.
Though some lifestyle changes are relative to the individual, there are a few practices that Ayurveda believes are universally beneficial. Ayurveda unconditionally encourages the consumption of whole, nutrient rich foods. It also recommends regularly practicing certain types of yoga, meditation, and detoxification. It even encourages frequent massage to stimulate the lymphatic system, cleanse, and relieve tension.
Recent studies and trends in the realm of nutrition and holistic food have turned the “calories in, calories out” paradigm entirely on its head. Or have they? More and more individuals are abandoning obsessive calorie counting in favor of macronutrient counting, food group elimination, or trendy vegan, Paleo, or ketogenic diets. But many nutritionists and dieticians still cling to the notion that calories are king, and that calorie reduction is at the heart of any successful weight loss plan.
So who has it right? Those who espouse the significance of consuming the holistic food, calories be damned? Or is it those who argue that it all boils down to numerical calculations, and that eating in a calorie deficit is the only way to lose weight?
Spoiler alert: they’re both right! You can’t choose to focus on quality at the expense of quantity, or vice versa, and expect to generate positive health outcomes. However, the reasons are complicated. In this week’s blog, we flesh out why and how the issue of simple addition and subtraction has blossomed into a controversial debate in the world of health and wellness. In doing so, we help to clear up the gray area drifting in the folds of dietary dogmatism to simplify your journey to the healthiest, happiest version of yourself!
The Argument for Calories In, Calories Out…
Those who argue that reducing calories is the only effective way to lose weight are quick to invoke the law of thermodynamics as proof of their claim. And they aren’t wrong. Consuming fewer calories than you are burning is the only way to lose weight. Period.
A pound of fat equates to roughly 3,500 calories. In other words, there are 3,500 calories worth of energy in one pound of body fat. When we eat in excess of our daily calorie requirements, we store the extra calories that we consume as body fat. When we consume fewer calories than we need to carry out our daily activities, our bodies will tap into our energy stores, or body fat stores, for fuel, resulting in fat loss.
…And the Arguments Against It
There are whole host of arguments that people leverage in attempt to debunk this simple nutritional logic. Many people, particularly advocates of fasting and ketogenic diets, claim that consuming too much sugar on a regular basis renders the body reliant on glucose alone as a source of energy, thus complicating weight loss. These experts argue that over-reliance on glucose as a fuel source leads to insulin resistance. As a result, the body continues to store glucose in fat cells instead of making it available for use, regardless of how many calories an individual consumes.
This line of reasoning fails to adequately debunk the calories-in, calories out theory. The fact remains: if you eat less than you burn, you will lose weight. So, say you eat a carb rich meal at the beginning of the day. Your body will indeed store the excess energy as fat. However, say you eat fewer calories than your body needs throughout the entirety of the day. Your body will later have to tap into your fat stores for energy. Thus, even though the excess energy was stored as fat earlier in the day, it must be accessed once more later in the day. And that creates a calorie deficit and, by extension, leads to weight loss.
It doesn’t matter what you eat, when you eat it, or what it contains; if you burn more energy than you consume in a day, you will have to tap into your fat stores to fuel your body adequately.
The Truth About Calories
So if everything boils down to calories in, calories out, why do people continue to claim that extreme calorie restriction isn’t conducive to weight loss, or that eating 2,000 calories of holistic food will result in more weight loss than eating 1,200 calories in Twinkies?
The easy part of the equation to understand is calorie intake. Sure, there are plenty of people who underestimate the number of calories they consume, which is why they might feel calorie counting is ineffective. But there are also individuals that weigh every ounce of their food, tracking every calorie to the tee, and still can’t lose weight.
It isn’t their intake that is the problem. It’s their calorie expenditure—the more complicated aspect of the calorie equation. “Calories in” is quite easy to determine if you put in the time and effort. Understanding the number of calories that you expend, on the other hand, is a whole other ballgame.
Most calorie counters use an app or website to calculate their daily energy expenditure, and don’t understand why they aren’t losing weight. The most likely problem is that these estimates are based on trends and averages, not on the unique biophysical characteristics of the individual.
There are a whole host of extraneous factors that affect, and thus render difficult to determine, your daily energy expenditure. If you eat more fiber and protein, i.e. thermogenic macronutrient groups, your body will require more calories just for digestion. Some individuals have over or under active thyroids that affect their metabolic rate. The list of factors than can influence metabolism goes on an on. Which brings us to the next point…
The Argument for Quality
In truth, the argument that reducing calories is the key to weight loss doesn’t contradict the fact that you must consume a healthy diet of holistic food to lose weight. These two theories are not oppositional; to the contrary, they compliment one another.
Why? It’s because the quality of your diet can have a significant impact on your metabolism, i.e. your calorie expenditure. Consistently consuming processed foods full of additives, sugar, dyes, and chemicals can cause inflammation, thus alerting your body to the internal threat and placing your bodily systems in crisis mode. Inflammation, in turn, will affect hormone production, increasing secretions of the fat-storage hormone, cortisol. And hormones play a vital role in regulating metabolic function. In sum: the quality of your diet will affect your hormones and, by extension, your caloric expenditure. The problem with a low-calorie diet of Twinkies is not the number of calories you are consuming; it is the way it affects your body’s ability to burn calories in the long run.
The Hidden Dangers of Focusing on Quality
Eating a diet of whole, organic foods is the key to ensuring that your metabolism is functioning properly. In other words, a healthy diet can improve your health in ways that allow you to burn more calories on a daily basis. However, it is important to note that excessive stringency can actually yield adverse effects.
Consider an individual that adopts a diet of holistic food. They may be consuming healthy foods that support a healthy metabolism. But failing to eat the proper quantity of holistic food can actually suppress metabolic function. Indeed, when the body is deprived of calories, it slows down non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). All chemical processes in the body begin to slow down or cease entirely. Your digestion will slow, causing constipation; your body will begin to produce less heat, leaving you cold and sleepy; and you will have a difficult time thinking clearly. Extended periods of severe calorie restriction can eventually lead to fertility complications, muscle breakdown, weakened immunity, dangerously low blood pressure, and metal health concerns.
If you choose to adopt a diet of pure and holistic food, be sure that you are consuming enough calories. If you are eating less than 80% of the calories you expend in a day, you might be at risk for metabolic damage.
The adverse, of course, is true as well. If you require 2,000 calories a day and you consume 2,500 calories, you will gain weight. The reason that a diet of holistic food works for so many people is because it is satiating. And a satiating diet helps you cut calories without having to think about it. But it’s not because calories don’t matter; it’s because it helps to reduce your ratio of calories consumed to calories burned with minimal effort.
The Final Point
To make a long story short: calories and holistic food are both essential for weight loss. The quality of your food can have a significant impact on your body’s ability to burn calories. Thus, eating holistic food improves your metabolism, resulting in greater caloric expenditure and easier weight loss.
The New Moon is a time for rest and reflection. Thousands of years ago, before the lights, toxins, and stressors of moderns systems hijacked and eroded our natural endocrine rhythms, women’s menstrual cycles coincided with the occurrence of the New Moon. The New Moon thus became a symbol for cleansing and regeneration in several cultures. Though most of our cycles are no longer in sync with the lunar calendar, the New Moon remains a powerful reminder of the importance of rest, contemplation, and rejuvenation. Thus, on every New Moon, Bodhidevi hosts an event for women designed to foster connection, reflection, and goal setting. It is one of the only women empowerment events on the Big Island.
Few are aware of the symbolic significance of reflecting on your journey and setting new goals during the New Moon. Even fewer, though, are aware that each New Moon has its own unique energy and meaning. The implications of each New Moon are contingent upon the zodiac sign that the New Moon falls under. This week, we explore what each zodiac sign means for its corresponding New Moon. We incorporate these themes into our women empowerment events to further community and spiritual connections.
Capricorn is the sign of diligence, hard work, and organization. A New Moon in Capricorn therefore calls us to stop slacking and start getting organized. If you have been indulgent and frivolous during the holiday season, the Capricorn New Moon is a great time to organize your calendar, clean your living space, and generally systemize your life for greater productivity and effective goal completion.
Capricorn also calls us to shed that which is inhibiting our productivity and growth. A New Moon in Capricorn may grant you the courage to abandon old commitments, like a bad job or relationship, that are no longer serving you, or that are causing misdirection and chaos in your life. Capricorn is a sign of logic and realism; as such, it may awaken you to a painful truth about a situation or connection that is no longer beneficial to you.
Embrace the energy of this New Moon to create new, realistic goals and detailed plans for reaching them. Use your mental energy for reflecting on what serves you and what doesn’t, and construct goals and plans accordingly. This New Moon will help you realize that success, particularly in the realm of career and finance, is attainable. You just need a plan.
Aquarius is a sociable and intellectual sign. Like Capricorn energy, Aquarius energy is more detached and realistic than emotional. Thus, a New Moon in Aquarius is a great time for socializing, conjecturing, and crafting new ideas. The intellectual energy of this New Moon may foster revolutionary and unprecedented insights concerning your personal and public lives.
Because Aquarius is objective, realistic, and detached, a New Moon in Aquarius is conducive to practicality. The energy of this New Moon will assist you in abandoning plaguing negative emotions. It may help you to view your stressors and struggles more objectively. Doing so will lend you more clarity and control in your life. It can also help you derive positive lessons from old traumas.
During the New Moon in Aquarius, pursue social interactions. Attend one of our women empowerment events. This is a great time to try out new experiences! Aquarius, as a social sign, will also awaken you to your place in your social network. Remain aware of the role you play in your relationships, and let it grant you insight on your strengths and weaknesses. Open up a dialogue about new business ideas or creative projects.
Pisces, unlike the previous two signs, is highly emotional. As a water sign, Pisces ignites deep emotions and creative energy. Thus, a New Moon in Pisces is a great time to begin new creative projects. Delve into your emotions during this New Moon and pursue catharsis through writing, dancing, art, and other forms of creative expression.
Pisces is not emotional in a blubbery, attached way, like Cancer can be. Instead, it opens a window to your higher self. It allows you to access valuable insights and to process their emotional weight. Furthermore, it inspires to you channel these insights through creative endeavors, allowing you to experience, nourish, and protect your internal environment. Thus, it is safe and constructive to spend time alone and surrender to your emotions during a Pisces New Moon.
Aries, as a fire sign, is the first to take action. The first symbol of the zodiac calendar, Aries is a trailblazer with an inspiringly youthful energy. A New Moon in Aries may therefore spark a desire to start a new project. Roll with it, and use your insights from the previous New Moon in Pisces to drive you!
A New Moon in Aries may also cause a swell in confidence, and would be a great time to attend one of our women empowerment events. This is the perfect time to take risks and try new things. It is also prime time to assert yourself in situations where you have been treated poorly. The New Moon in Aries may even grant you the strength to abandon unhealthy or abusive situations in pursuit of an entirely new path. Indeed, Aries is the sign of self-reliance and responsibility.
However, Aries can also be child-like and impulsive. Think back to your New Moon in Capricorn and try to harness a bit of that practical energy and insight to guide you during this New Moon. While charting a new path might be a positive move, be sure to do it with logic and deliberation.
After the energizing New Moon in Aries, you may be feeling the need to recuperate and rest. The New Moon in Taurus is just the time to do so. Taurus is an indulgent and slow sign, calling us to slow down and enjoy life. You may find yourself more inclined to relax at home with an indulging meal. Indeed, Taurus energy will awaken you to your personal needs and the proper means of nurturing them.
Taurus is also tied to the home environment and material possessions. Embrace the inclination to stay home and to evaluate your role in your family. Harness this energy to become more aware of your worldly attachments, and to identify what is really important to you. It is quite possible that you may feel an intense attachment to certain possessions during a Taurus New Moon. And this feeling might actually be an indicator that you need to let that possession go.
Finally, Taurus is the sign of laid-back simplicity. The energy of this New Moon will help us realize the ways in which we are complicating our own lives through various complexities and unnecessary attachments.
Gemini has a reputation for being flighty and frivolous. But a New Moon in Gemini can actually help you access a deeper connection to yourself. As Gemini is the sign of communication, the New Moon in Gemini is an excellent time to write, speak, and perform in ways that grant you insight into your own thoughts and feelings, as well as how to manifest them in your external world.
Gemini is also an incredibly sociable sign—perhaps the most sociable of them all! Thus, the New Moon in Gemini is a great time to socialize. After resting up at home during the Taurus New Moon, you should be ready to get out there and build new connections.
The New Moon in Gemini is anything but frivolous. It can actually be an excellent time to address conflicts, as this New Moon is conducive to effective communication and healthy listening skills. Put in the work during this period to strengthen communications for a healthier, more productive life.
Cancer is an incredibly emotional sign. Thus, the New Moon in Cancer can be incredibly emotional. Like the Taurus New Moon, the Cancer New Moon will also make us more inclined to spend time at home. As a maternal sign, it may also prompt us to rekindle connections with our families and our mothers.
Allow the emotional energy of Cancer to pass through you, but down let it weigh you down. Instead, draw what insights you can from your emotions. What messages do your receive about your security, your family, and your relationships? What is it that leads you to protect yourself in an emotional enclosure—your own metaphorical crab shell? Reflecting on these questions may grant you new insights.
Finally, as Cancer is an imaginative sign, this time is perfect for adding flare and originality to your projects. Use the nurturing energy of this New Moon to care for yourself, the land, and others. Doing so will help you process the intense emotions of this New Moon effectively.
Leo is the sign of creativity, passion, and bravado. Like a New Moon in Aries, a New Moon in Leo might lend to greater confidence. Thus, it is a great time to try something new, particularly things that ignite your passions. This New Moon will be especially valuable for performers, or for creating positive first impressions.
This is an excellent time to reflect on what makes you feel confident and passionate. Is it a career or activity? Does it derive from your lifestyle, or the way that you speak to yourself? Become aware of what makes you feel truly alive during this New Moon, and use that insight to infuse all other aspects of your life with pride and passion. This is a great time to cast away your fears and embrace your true self. If you are an entrepreneur, it can also be a great time to self-promote or pursue business connections.
As a fire sign, Leo can also be testy. You may find yourself more fiery and reactive during this time. Don’t give in to the feeling too easily, nor repress it. Instead, become aware of its source. What is it that makes you reactive? What does your reaction say about the state of your mind and your life? The best you can do with feelings of anger is to derive insight about yourself from them.
Virgo symbolizes purity and perfection. Much like Capricorn, Virgo is logical and organized, and its New Moon is thus conducive to creating new goals and projects. However, whereas Capricorn drives hard work and efficiency, Virgo encourages us to slow down. Counter to the energy of Aries, Virgo discourages impulsivity. Instead, it fosters reasoned, deliberate decision making, with fine attention to detail.
As Virgo is extremely detailed-oriented, this New Moon is perhaps the best time to get your finances in order. It may also call you to spend more time alone in careful reflection. Use this alone time to strategize in the arenas of career, finances, and health, setting concrete goals for success. This is an especially great time to process the larger, loftier goals that have been daunting you for a long time.
Libra, as the zodiac symbol of the scales, encourages us to pursue balance in all things. If you are behaving excessively in any aspect of your life, harness the energy of this New Moon to moderate yourself. If you are feeling emotionally imbalanced, try to tap into your psyche. What is it that is serving as a source of emotional instability in your life? Utilize the insights of this New Moon to cast away what destabilizes you and detracts from your vibrancy.
The New Moon in Libra lends to empathy and objectivity. Thus, this New Moon is an excellent time to revisit long-standing conflict. You may find yourself less reactive and more understanding of countering perspectives during this time. This empathetic, level headed approach will lend to conflict resolution, creating ease and alignment in your relationships.
Though Libras are logical and empathetic, they do tend to become wrapped up in superficial concerns. Instead of focusing critically on possession and appearances, use this time to create emotional balance. This would be an excellent time to attend one of our women empowerment events and tune into yourself.
It’s a wonderful joke in the world of zodiac buffs that Scorpios are the most intense of all of the zodiac signs. There is, of course, and element of truth to that. But Scorpio’s energy is intense and beautiful. It can lend itself to profound, even revolutionary changes, as well as groundbreaking awareness and emotional breakthroughs.
You may find yourself feeling dark, even unstable, during this New Moon. Don’t be afraid to visit those places in yourself. This New Moon will help you find insight in the deepest parts of you. It may provide you with the courage to trudge through and process traumas, thus allowing you to relinquish them and begin to heal. Scorpio governs the internal environment, so this is an excellent time to embrace your emotions. It can also be a great time to do a dietary cleanse.
Scorpio has a powerful psychic energy, and in many ways channels the cycles of death and rebirth. This can lend to intense feelings. But it also sparks a deeper, more profound sexual energy that can make this New Moon really fun. You may find yourself discovering new, more powerful forms of sexual connection than ever before.
Finally, this New Moon is perhaps the most conducive to abandonment and growth. It encourages us to walk away from things that are no longer serving us, to let die what needs to. It inspires us to move on, guided by our intuition, to better things.
The New Moon in Sagittarius will provide a boost of positive energy—much needed after the intensity of the Scorpio New Moon. This New Moon calls you to embrace the good and think positively. It will excite you, allowing you to focus on what makes you happy. It is especially conducive to fun and dancing, as Sagittarius governs the hips. Our women empowerment events are especially fun and exciting under the Sagittarius New Moon.
Sagittarius also governs philosophy, education, and intercultural experiences. Thus, this New Moon is a great time to book a trip, read a book, and have meaningful conversations with others. Revisit your outlook on life. Start reading about a topic that interests you.
Finally, embrace the light yet brazen energy of Sagittarius to be fully yourself. The energy of this New Moon is quite adventurous. But you won’t be able to tap into it if you aren’t feeling positive or confident. Cultivate the perspective conducive to pride and natural self-expression.