One of the main tenets of Ayurvedic medicine is that you should not apply anything topically that you would not also ingest. That being said, I am very particular about what I include in my Ayurvedic skin care routine.
Though I have carefully selected a few Ayurveda-approved products, I prefer to create my own cosmetic treatments in the kitchen! A number of common kitchen ingredients are actually highly beneficial for your skin. Because these ingredients are free of chemical additives, they usually out-perform processed alternatives, especially on sensitive or irritated skin.
Below are a few of my favorite Ayurvedic skin care “recipes.”
Tropical Exfoliating and Moisturizing Mask for Sensitive, Dull Skin
- Half a medium banana.
- 1 Tablespoon of honey.
- 2 Tablespoons of cooked oatmeal.
Try to actually put this one on your face instead of eating it! In all seriousness, this Ayurvedic skin care mask is incredibly soothing and balancing. It’s suitable for most skin types, and the benefits of each ingredient work in tandem to restore your skin’s supple brilliance.
Bananas are rich in potassium, which hydrates and moisturizes skin. Vitamins C and E work to brighten and exfoliate the skin, vitamin A evens skin tone and zinc kills acne-causing bacteria.
Honey provides an additional anti-bacterial punch, making this a great mask for acne-prone skin. Like bananas, honey also moisturizes and soothes the skin to tame redness and inflammation, and both are excellent sources of skin-protecting, anti-aging antioxidants. Finally, honey helps to open your pores, allowing the exfoliating components of banana to penetrate and clear them out.
Oatmeal provides a nourishing boost to this mask, as it is a powerful moisturizer and anti-inflammatory. Oatmeal also contains acne-fighting zinc and pore-clearing saponins. Finally, oatmeal works to absorb excess oil and restore the pH of the skin.
There’s very little this mask doesn’t do! It hydrates and moisturizes to treat dryness without leaving skin oily; it clears pores, exfoliates, and fights acne without drying or irritation; and it firms and brightens skin without leaving skin taught. There are few women I know that wouldn’t benefit from this one!
Skin-Brightening Apple Cider Vinegar Toner for Oily, Acne-Prone Skin
- 1 Tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar.
- 1 Cup of organic green tea.
- A handful of mint.
This skin brightening toner is best for oily or acne prone skin. Though soothing green tea and mint offset the drying and acidic qualities of the vinegar, this toner may be too harsh for dry or sensitive skin.
Apple cider vinegar is excellent for oily, acne-prone skin because it dissolves dirt and oil and tightens pores without over-drying. Beta-carotene in apple cider vinegar also brightens the skin and protects against future damage.
Steep green tea with crushed mint leaves, allow it to cool, and strain the mint. Then add your tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Creating a tonic with detoxifying, anti-inflammatory green tea and soothing mint combats any redness and tingling from the vinegar. If your skin is sensitive but you still want to give this one a try, add two tablespoons of Aloe Vera to soothe inflammation and moisturize the skin.
Yogurt and Tea Tree Oil Mask for Oily, Acne-Prone Skin
- ¼ Cup of plain, full-fat yogurt.
- 2 Drops of tea tree oil.
Yogurt is incredibly moisturizing and healing. That being said, it does contain certain exfoliating acids that may make it irritating to extremely dry, sensitive skin. However, it is suitable for the majority of acne-prone skin types.
Yogurt is full of lactic and alpha hydroxyl acids, which exfoliate, unclog pores, and brighten skin. These acids work in tandem with anti-bacterial tea tree oil to fight and prevent inflammatory acne. High levels of zinc in yogurt further boost the acne-fighting effects of this soothing mask.
Yogurt is incredibly moisturizing, and tea tree oil is cooling and soothing. The two together are great for soothing redness and irritation. They further improve complexion by evening skin tone and minimizing lines.
If your skin is particularly oily and acne-prone, try adding a teaspoon or two of lemon juice to the mask. Lemon, like yogurt and tea tree, is anti-bacterial and exfoliating. Lemon juice curbs oil production, and its high levels of vitamin C protect against oxidative damage. Be advised that the acidity of lemon may be too irritating for drier skin.
Nourishing Avocado Matcha Mask for Dry or Irritated Skin
- Half a medium avocado.
- 1 Tablespoon of melted coconut oil.
- 1 Tablespoon of Matcha powder.
If you’re skin is extremely dry, or if you suffer from an inflammatory skin condition like eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis, this is the mask for you! That’s because avocadoes are full of nourishing, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
The addition of coconut oil deeply moisturizes and heals dry skin. Coconut oil also contains medium chain fatty acids that kill acne-causing bacteria, making it one of the few effective treatments for skin that is both acne-prone and extremely dry.
I suggest adding Matcha to this mix because it is an incredibly effective way to reduce redness and inflammation. Matcha contains a powerful antioxidant called ECGC that is responsible for most of the herb’s anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains tannins that shrink pores, reducing excessive oil production.
My last blog listed a few of my favorite herbal remedies for managing stress and anxiety. While utilizing these products is an excellent way to combat occasional bouts of anxiety, they are not permanent solutions. The key to managing stress and anxiety is living a holistic lifestyle that prevents stress in the first place. This week we will explore the most critical lifestyle interventions for supporting your mental health and managing stress: diet and exercise.
The Role of Neurotransmitters
Our bodies produce an array of neurotransmitters that support a positive mood and decrease anxiety. Exercising is part of living a holistic lifestyle that supports the production of these neurotransmitters and, by extension, prevents stress and anxiety.
Exercising increases the production of a number of neurotransmitters. Among the most critical are endorphins, endocannabinoids, and GABA.
Endorphins are what create that post-exercise sense of euphoria (what many know as the “runner’s high”). Endorphins also promote sound sleep, which can help your body recover from physical and mental stress. Endocannabinoids, too, promote sound sleep and positive mood, but they also help to control a sneaky cause of physical stress: inflammation. Finally, exercise increases the density of GABA-releasing brain cells in the hippocampus, where we process emotion. Regular exercisers, who possess more of these brain cells, have an easier time returning to homeostasis after a stressor.
The Best Types of Exercise
Not all forms of exercise are created equal, and neither are all quantities. While I recommend lifting weights for a number of reasons, it’s not exactly your best bet for managing stress and anxiety. That’s because lifting weights increases your body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol. High cortisol can, in turn, exacerbate anxiety. Excessive amounts of cardio have a similar effect.
If you’re living a holistic lifestyle to manage your moods, try doing moderate intensity cardio for 45 minutes 3 or 4 days a week. Doing so will help manage cortisol and inflammation without over-stressing the body. Of course, if you are newer to exercise, you may want to limit your sessions to 20 or 30 minutes instead.
Exercise and Attitude
Beyond affecting physiological factors like hormone and neurotransmitter production, exercising can also have a positive impact on human psychology.
Exercising increases concentration and mental alertness, making it easier to focus on and complete important tasks. In doing so, exercising may make your life simpler and more productive, eliminating certain sources of stress.
Exercising may also improve your self-image. Feeling more confident in your body can manifest in a whole host of ways, but the general sense of empowerment is enough to brighten your general attitude and reduce the stress of self-criticism.
Consume a Balanced Diet
I have found that following an Ayurvedic diet is a critical component of living a holistic lifestyle. I love Ayurvedic medicine because it is all about establishing balance. It’s also an amazing avenue for treating stress and anxiety precisely for that reason.
Diet quality has the ability to affect immunity, impact genetic expression, and govern the stress response. Consuming a balanced diet is critical for warding off stress and anxiety, as some nutrient deficiencies are associated with psychological ailments. Deficiencies in zinc, iron, and magnesium in particular are associated with anxiety, poor concentration, and other ailments.
An inflammatory diet can exacerbate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Thus, in addition to eating a balanced, varied diet, it is essential to avoid inflammatory foods. These include sugar, processed meats, hydrogenated oils, red meat, and most processed, grain-based products. Furthermore, you should steer clear of any foods you are intolerant to, as these are considered pro-inflammatory for your unique body.
Use Food as Medicine
It’s important to consume a holistic, well-rounded diet to manage stress. But you can take your stress-management game to the next level by leveraging food as medicine. Likewise, you can work to minimize stress by avoiding harmful forms of self-medication.
Depressants and stimulants affect our psychology, hormones, and stress response. And not all depressants and stimulants come in the form of illicit drugs. Caffeine, which acts as a stimulant by inhibiting the action of the neurotransmitter adenosine, is the world’s most popular psychoactive drug. Alcohol, another popular means of self-medication, is a depressant. Limiting your use of caffeine and alcohol can help reduce inflammation and regulate your stress response. By extension, it can help to stabilize your moods.
The state of your microbiome is a strong indicator of your general health. The microbiome affects every aspect of your health, from immunity and digestion to—you guessed it—mental health. If you need help managing stress and anxiety, try incorporating gut-friendly, medicinal foods into your diet. These include probiotic foods like Kim chi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, miso, tempeh, and natto. To help feed the beneficial microbes in these foods, make sure to consume prebiotic foods. These include garlic, onions, asparagus, breadfruit, cassava, artichokes, dandelion, chicory, and bananas.
Chronic stress has, unfortunately, become part and parcel of everyday living in the modern age. Some stressors, like heavy traffic, a busy schedule, and insomnia have become almost inescapable in everyday life. Others, like a move, divorce, or job change, are less common but much more impactful. Generally speaking, life is much more complicated and, by extension, more stressful than it was just a hundred years ago. Thus, finding the appropriate tools for managing stress and anxiety is imperative to your mental health.
Managing stress and anxiety is also critical to your physical health. Chronic stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels and inflammation, in turn damaging your metabolism and contributing to chronic fatigue. Relentless physical and emotional stress can even affect your DNA, accelerating cellular aging and increasing your risk of developing cancer. Not good!
Of course, establishing a healthy diet and lifestyle is critical to managing stress and anxiety. But, for those of us who could benefit from additional homeopathic support, I’ve provided a few examples of effective holistic remedies for stress. As always, always consult with your physician before trying any herbal remedies.
Kava is a tropical evergreen shrub and a member of the nightshade family that originally hails from the Polynesian islands. Arriving in Hawaii 1,400 years ago alongside Polynesian settlers, Kava became a celebratory and ceremonial drink amongst these Native Hawaiians. Today, kava remains an integral facet of Native Hawaiian tradition as a hallmark of peaceful and celebratory times.
The psychoactive components of the kava plant reside in its root. Known as kava-lactones, these psychoactive compounds work to increase available levels of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter necessary for restoring the body to a parasympathetic state in the brain. It also reduces the reuptake of dopamine, thus activating the brain’s reward center. Some say kava induces the same kind of happiness and relaxation that alcohol does, but without the impaired judgment and coordination.
Kava is considered a sedative capable of promoting both euphoria and relaxation. As such, kava can be useful for both daytime and nighttime relaxation. It has also proven effective in relieving aches and pains and can be used as a muscle relaxer. You can consume kava either as an earthy beverage or as a tincture diluted in water. Some natural grocery stores even have chocolate bars that contain kava.
You’re probably familiar with lavender, the small, light purple flower from which the color derives its name. The lavender plant is a beautiful perennial evergreen that will adorn your garden with beautiful sights and smells. But lavender is far more than a sensory indulgence. This potent medicinal plant functions as both a sedative and anxiolytic. It is thus a powerful tool for managing stress and anxiety.
Like kava, lavender works to reduce stress by increasing the availability of GABA in the brain. It can also relieve symptoms of depression, and studies show that it improves sleep, its efficacy rivaling that of powerful drugs like Ativan. Lavender not only relieves the psychological manifestations of anxiety; it also reverses the physiological symptoms, such as high blood pressure and heart rate. Finally, lavender possesses analgesic properties and is excellent for relieving mild aches and pains.
You can consume lavender in oral capsules or tinctures. Aromatherapy, too, is a great way to reap the benefits of lavender. Just put a few drops of lavender essential in your bath, on a pillow, or in a diffuser.
Keep in mind that lavender is also an endocrine disruptor, and excessive use can create imbalances in testosterone and estrogen. Be sure to consult with your physician before incorporating lavender into your supplement routine.
Valerian root is a bitter, earthy medicinal herb hailing from Asia and Europe. The name derives from the Latin word “valere,” which means “to be strong.” Valerian root’s most popular function is to relieve insomnia and promote sound sleep. Known to many as “nature’s valium,” this plant medicine also relieves anxiety and benzodiazepine withdrawal.
Valerian root is yet another anxiolytic that works by increase levels of GABA in the brain. More specifically, valerenic acid, isovaleric acid, and several antioxidants in valerian root slow the breakdown of GABA in the brain, leaving more available to inhibit the physiological component of fight or flight symptoms.
Valerian root is excellent for managing stress and anxiety, but it can also provide powerful relief for insomnia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Valerian root is available in a wide variety of forms, including capsules, essential oils, tinctures, tablets, and teas.
If you awake with bloating, nausea, fatigue, or brain fog, you might be quick to blame poor sleep or weak digestion for your troubles. Ayurvedic medicine, however, would beg to differ. According to Ayurvedic philosophy, lethargy and stomach upset, especially in the morning hours, are most commonly indicative of a poor diet. More specifically, fatigue is associated with eating a dinner that is too large, too heavy, or simply inappropriate for your doshic type. Eating an Ayurvedic dinner may just be the key to brightening your mornings and restoring your vivacity!
This week we will explain what qualifies as an Ayurvedic dinner and what Ayurvedic dinner is most appropriate for your dosha.
Dinner is for Paupers
The old adage that one should eat “breakfast like a King, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” doesn’t completely apply here. Indeed, Ayurvedic medicine actually stipulates that lunch should be the largest meal of the day. Agni, or digestive fire, is highest in the middle of day. Eating a large lunch thus ensures that your largest meal is digested and absorbed most efficiently.
However, Ayurvedic medicine would certainly concede that you should eat dinner like a pauper. That’s because the digestive fire is weakest in the evening. It is therefore healthier to eat a small, light, and healthy dinner than a large, heavy one. If your dinner is too large or heavy, you will likely have difficulty digesting it due to dwindling agni. The result? Your body fails to excrete ama, or toxins, and to digest properly. And that means bloating, fatigue, digestive troubles, and general malaise the next day.
Ayurvedic philosophy recommends consuming dinner between 6:30 and 7:00pm—not too close to bedtime. Generally speaking, light soups and fresh salads are excellent Ayurvedic dinner options. Avoid heavy, oily foods, or foods that are high in carbohydrates, as these are too heavy for your body to process in the evening.
If you use oil, choose a light, cooling one like olive oil. Limit your consumption of high-carb grains, beans, eggplant, radishes, dill, red cabbage, and tomatoes. Instead, choose lean meats, fibrous, slow digesting grains, and light vegetables. Squash, bell peppers, lettuce, mixed greens, green cabbage, and cucumbers are excellent additions to an Ayurvedic dinner.
Pacify Your Inner Kapha
Kapha energy governs the evening. Thus, it is important to eat a kapha-pacifying Ayurvedic dinner. Doing so staves off the heavy, slow qualities of kapha that can lead to lethargy and poor sleep. Eating kapha-aggravating foods high in carbs and fat can also slow metabolic activity—a logical outcome, as kapha types typically have slower metabolisms.
In addition to avoiding heavy foods, you should steer clear of sour foods in the evening. Limit your consumption of fermented foods and citrus to earlier in the day (or not at all, if you are a kapha). Also limit your consumption of dairy, which aggravates kapha, and especially fermented dairy products like yogurt and cheese. Opt for light, cooling vegetables and lean proteins instead. Steamed vegetables, particularly greens, cabbage, broccoli, and asparagus are great for pacifying kapha. Be wary of high-carb root vegetables like beets, carrots, and parsnips.
The Ayurvedic Dinner for Your Dosha
Ayurveda also offers different recommendations for a healthy dinner based on your doshic type. Vatas, for example, require three ample meals a day. They are better able to tolerate carbohydrate sources like fruit, grains, and beans in the evening. A vata type may be able to consume root vegetables in the evening, whereas a pitta should opt for steamed vegetables and kapha should stick to steamed or lightly sautéed green vegetables. A vata may enjoy dates, avocadoes, and coconut in the evening, whereas kapha should stick to lighter fruits like mangos and peaches. Pitta should avoid fruit entirely in the evening.
Portion sizes differ from dosha to dosha, too. Vatas often have a hard time keeping weight on. They can therefore handle a heavier evening meal. Pittas would do well to eat light yet solid food, like a modest portion of stew or a source of lean protein and vegetables. Kaphas can enjoy a light soup and salad. Kaphas benefit more from fasting than any other doshic type and may even benefit from skipping dinner altogether.
Tips for Optimizing Your Digestion
The perfect Ayurvedic dinner won’t be enough to relieve fatigue and indigestion if you aren’t taking the proper steps to optimize your digestion. Try chewing a slice of fresh ginger before a meal. Stick to warm water throughout the day, and don’t drink water during or immediately following a meal. Try eating slowly and mindfully, which eases digestion and can fight cravings and blood sugar fluctuations. Finally, try taking a light walk after dinner two or three hours prior to bed.
Pitta, Vata, Kapha: The three doshas, or energetic forces, that govern both the natural world and the human body. You might know your dosha and even understand some of the qualities that it endows. But how do you know if your doshas are truly balanced, or whether your experiencing doshic excess? What can you do to balance your dosha for a happy, healthy life? Below we explore each of the three doshas and the steps you can take to balance them.
The Vata Dosha
Vata is the energetic force of air and space. Governing movement and communication, vata regulates our elimination and nervous systems. This energetic force also influences our thoughts and emotions, which is why those of vata constitution are both cerebral and emotional. Vata types are typically fast moving, talkative, and excitable people. Though energetic and creative, vata is easily overwhelmed and prone to anxiety, sharp fluctuations in mood, and oscillating energy levels. Physically, vatas are thin with dry skin and a darker complexion.
Vata is characterized by dryness, roughness, speed, turbulence, coldness, and light. Those of vata constitution, or those with imbalanced vata, will experience these characteristics as excess that disturbs their sense of wellbeing. When vata is imbalanced, we fall prey to weight loss, physical pain, weakness, constipation, and fatigue. Our sleep may become more restless, or we may notice painful or sluggish digestion. Vata types often complain of coldness and dry, rough skin. Excess vata yields negative implications for the emotions as well. When vata is imbalanced, we experience nervousness, anxiety, racing thoughts, depression, loneliness, difficulty communicating, and mood swings.
Lifestyle Suggestions for Vata
Vata types are often drawn to rigorous physical activity as an outlet for their anxiety and restlessness. However, long, intense bouts of cardiovascular exercise are too stimulating for vata’s already over-stimulated system. Though vatas may enjoy bouts of intense exercise, they are bound to find themselves exhausted soon after. Instead, vata types should practice gentle forms of exercise like yoga and walking. Vatas also benefit from strength training, which will add muscle mass to balance their light, thin quality.
Vata types will benefit from a cool, stable lifestyle. Vatas typically crave constant change or adopt a stressful, faced-paced lifestyle. Like excessive exercise, excessive daily activity and change will upset vatas’ sensitive systems. Instead, vata types should seek stability and serenity in their home environments. They should take care to rest. If they have sleeping difficulties, they may benefit from soothing herbs and meditation. Self-care is important for everyone, but it is particularly vital for vata types. Vata may neglect their own needs in working hard at something, but they tend to crash after periods of intense exertion. Change, travel, movement, and chaos will quickly exhaust vata. Establishing personal time for pleasurable, relaxing activities is therefore a priority.
Dietary Suggestions for Vata
Because vata is cold and dry, vata types must eat warm, oily foods to balance their doshic excess. Vatas benefit from heavy, cooked foods like soups and stews that are high in fat. Ghee, butter, cream, and coconut oil will go a long way in soothing the body and facilitating digestion for vatas. They should nix cold drinks for herbal teas and warm beverages. Vata types should always include sour, salty, and sweet foods. They tend to tolerate root vegetables better than cruciferous vegetables or leafy greens, which are harder to digest. Green beans, onions, sweet potatoes, garlic, asparagus, beets, and carrots are particularly good for vata types. Cooking vegetables is absolutely essential for this dosha, which cannot tolerate them raw.
It is best for vata to avoid cold, bitter, or astringent foods. They should therefore ensure that they only eat fruit that has fully ripened. Vata should choose warm, soothing herbs like ginger, cayenne, and cinnamon over bitter or astringent ones. Though vata tends to tolerate oils and dairy very well, they should avoid red meat. They should also steer clear of candy and coffee, which can be over-stimulating, as well as most grains.
The Pitta Dosha
Like vatas, pittas are quite intellectual. However, they are more grounded and focused than creative, distractible vata. Pitta is the dosha of fire and water, and quite the force to be reckoned with. Pitta is passionate, outspoken, fiery, and logical at its best, and blunt, angry, impatient, and jealous at its worst. Characterized by heat, lightness, intensity, pungency, sharpness, and acidity, pittas have a lot of energy. Physiologically, the pitta dosha governs digestion and metabolism, so pittas tend to boast strong digestion and regularity.
Lifestyle Suggestions for Pitta
Physiologically, pittas are often prone to excess and should seek to establish moderation in their lives. Oftentimes they overeat, particularly salty, sour, and spicy foods that can aggravate their pitta energy. Typically mesomorphs of strong stature, they are also prone to excessive exercise, which aggravates the dosha instead of balancing it. Pittas should strive for balance by being mindful of portion sizes and practicing gentle exercise. Swimming, Pilates, and yoga are great for pitta, as is meditation.
Pitta types should also work to balance their fiery mental energy. Pittas are quick to anger and compulsivity and tend to blame others for their problems. Imbalanced pitta is typically associated with inflammatory conditions like skin irritation and indigestion, as well as ulcers and heartburn. It is also conducive to irrational jealousy and even rage. Taking personal time to keep perspective and evaluate emotions is incredibly therapeutic for pitta. Engaging in soothing, mentally engaging activities like painting or puzzles can also help pittas keep their cool. Pittas can work to keep cool in a more literal sense by avoiding humid climates and consuming plenty of water, which can even their moods.
Dietary Suggestions for Pitta
Pittas should strive for moderation in their diets as well. Cold or hot foods are too extreme for pitta types, who should opt for warm or cool foods instead. They benefit from foods that are neither too heavy nor too light, like cooked grains and vegetables. They should nix heavier, heat-forming foods like meat, fried food, nuts, and egg yolks. Olive, sunflower, and grapeseed oils are better for pitta than almond, corn, sesame, or coconut oils. Pitta types should also replace spicy or sour foods with bitter, sweet, and astringent foods. Unlike vata, pitta can handle raw fruits and vegetables, which cool their internal heat. Herbs like cilantro, dill, fennel, mint, turmeric, cumin, and black pepper also balance their fiery energy.
The Kapha Dosha
Kapha is the energetic force of earth and water. As such, it governs immunity and bodily structure and is considered heavy, slow, stable, cold, soft, solid, and oily. Kaphas tend to be strong, heavy individuals that easily store water and fat. They are calm, steady, and loving. Though they don’t move quickly like vata, they have remarkable endurance. However, they are also prone to lethargy. Kapha types boast sound sleep, radiant skin, strong digestion, physical strength, and stable moods. Excess kapha can cause water retention, weight gain, fatigue, respiratory complications, and depression.
Lifestyle Suggestions for Kapha
Mentally and emotionally, kaphas tend to be very healthy. They are compassionate and joyous but still gentle, patient, and stable. They enjoy introverted activities like music, reading, and relaxing, and typically get more than enough sleep. However, kaphas need to be very conscious of how they govern their social lives. Prone to attachment and loathing of conflict, kaphas oftentimes have difficulty letting go of the past or confronting issues in their lives. To balance their dosha, kaphas must consciously speak out even when it is uncomfortable and cut ties that are no longer serving them.
Kaphas are good at relaxing—sometimes a little too good. Kaphas should avoid napping during the day and try to wake with the sun every morning. Oversleeping only exacerbates their lethargy. They should also engage in energetic activities like cardiovascular exercise and interval training. Kaphas will benefit from choosing a profession that keeps them on their feet throughout the day and should walk instead of driving whenever possible. So long as kapha works to keep moving, they can avoid falling into a cycle of lethargy.
Dietary Suggestions for Kapha
Kaphas are prone to overeating and should avoid the sweet, heavy foods that might trigger bingeing. Candy, salty foods, or fried food are not good for kapha types. They should avoid all sugar and dairy, as well as cold food and drinks. Warm, light, dry food is better for kapha types. These include plenty of fruits and vegetables, either raw or steamed. Dry cooking is great for kaphas because it balances their oily nature. They also benefit from consuming spicy food, although they should limit other heat-forming foods like cooked grains and meat. They should also limit particularly sugar fruits like dates, figs, bananas, and mangos.
Kaphas stand to benefit from fasting more than any other dosha. Unlike vata, which should only fast on heavy, nourishing foods, kaphas can engage in liquid fasts for a few days at a time. They also benefit from consuming herbal teas and broths—warm, light foods that may not be substantial enough for the other two doshas.
The Kona Yoga community is a rich and active one. Yoga studios abound in Kona town, as do avid studio practitioners and independent yogis. Healthy personal practices like yoga, meditation, surfing, and consuming more plants are far more pervasive on the Big Island than in any other part of the country. No wonder Hawaii ranked as the healthiest state in America in 2018!
If you are looking to begin or expand upon your yoga practice, it is important to craft a yoga routine that is beneficial to your unique body and mind. For some, that means attending buddhi yoga once a week. For others, that means a gentle, daily personal practice in the comfort of one’s own home.
In previous blogs, we have explored the different types of yoga and their many benefits and drawbacks. This week, we will discuss the merits of both group and private yoga sessions. We hope today’s post will help you determine which type of practice is best for your individual needs. At Bodhidevi, we offer both group and private yoga lessons. We want to ensure that we can accommodate any and every woman in our beautiful community!
The Benefits of Group Yoga
Joining a group yoga class is an excellent way to forge new friendships and business connections. Thus, if you are a socialite or entrepreneur, making your debut in the Kona Yoga community and joining a group yoga class is an excellent idea.
Of course, social connection is an intrinsically rewarding element of attending a group yoga class. But those social connections can also inadvertently enhance the physical benefits of yoga. Once yoga class becomes a social occasion instead of an exercise obligation, you will find it easier to regularly attend. By extension, you will reap ever greater benefit from the practice!
Even in Kona yoga classes that are catered to specific experience levels, individual expertise will vary. There will always be someone more or less skilled, experienced, strong, or flexible than you in every class. Though intimidating for some, being surrounded by individuals who are more experienced than you can be a great motivator. If you are a competitive individual looking to cultivate an impressive skill set while improving your health, try attending a group session. The drive to meet and surpass the abilities of others will motivate you to maintain a consistent and rigorous practice.
Likewise, serving as an example to others can also serve as a positive motivator. Are you highly skilled and experienced? Attending a group yoga session will allow you to serve as a positive model for less experienced individuals. By extension, you will promote confidence and motivation not only in yourself, but also in other members of the group.
Perhaps you find competition more intimidating and stressful than motivating. Does that mean you should forego Kona yoga and opt for an in-home practice instead?
Not necessarily. One of the best things about group yoga classes is that you can invite your friends to attend with you. Thus, even if you are less inclined to compete or socialize with others, you will still find the comfort and drive to attend the class regularly. In fact, attending a group yoga class is an excellent way to strengthen the bonds of existing friendships. Establishing mutual support for adopting a healthy lifestyle by co-attending yoga is a great way to flourish together.
The Benefits of Private Yoga
Even the most social and adventurous woman may find a private, one-on-one session with an instructor more beneficial than a group Kona yoga session if she has specific goals and needs. Working one-on-one with an instructor affords you the time and space to communicate individually about your objectives.
This is especially critical for individuals with health concerns. It can be uncomfortable to confront a yoga instructor at the beginning of the class with health concerns. Further, it’s awkward to ask for modifications in the middle of a class. Unfortunately, failing to ask for modifications can, in turn, exacerbate an injury. If you have an injury or are suffering from specific types of pain, opt for a private session. Thoroughly discuss the nature of your injury with your instructor. He or she will be able to offer individualized attention and therapeutic solutions to improve your condition. Additionally, a private practice affords continual communication throughout the session. Thus, if pain arises or an injury acts up, you can ask your instructor to modify the practice.
Even if you don’t have a serious medical concern, the ability to obtain individual attention and feedback from an instructor can make a private session worthwhile. For example, if you are training to become a teacher or are interested in taking your skill set to the next level, a private session will allow for personalized attention and feedback to promote advancement.
Taking a group Kona yoga class will allow for some degree of personalization in terms of the type of practice you desire. You can select from an array of different yoga styles and practices, from a relaxing hatha yoga class to a fast-paced, strengthening Vinyasa flow.
A private yoga class, however, allows for a much higher degree of personalization. You can discuss your desired style, pace, and intensity with the instructor prior to your practice. Doing so also allows you to cater each session to how you are feeling on any given day.
Further, working with an instructor one-on-one allows you to determine what extraneous elements you would like to incorporate into your practice. Some individuals enjoy 20 minutes of pranayama at the beginning of every session. Some want to limit Savasana to a brief period, or omit it entirely. Pick and choose what works for you!
You don’t have any control over what Kona yoga sessions are offered when. However, you do have control over when you schedule your private session. It can be tricky to stick to a regular yoga regimen if you have to cram classes into a busy schedule. Plus, it is hard to relax and focus on your breathing if your class is during your lunch break, or if you have to pick up the kids immediately after class. Private sessions allow you to select the days and times that work best for you, in addition to the type of practice that will benefit you most.
Minimizing Mental Chatter
It can be incredibly difficult for some women to fully engage in Kona yoga classes. Some find it impossible not to pay attention to the sounds and movements in the room. Others may find themselves caught in a loop of comparison and anxious mental chatter, wondering whether more fit or experienced individuals are judging them. If you have an anxious or distractible mind, a private yoga session might be just what you need to unwind and really get focused on your practice.