What I’ve come find after diving into naturally healing modalities like Ayurveda and Chinese medicine is that they talk about poop, a lot. One of the first questions my acupuncturist always asks me is how my bowel movements have been. During my first weekend of Ayurveda Therapist training the topic of poop came up on numerous occasions. This is because in both Ayurveda & Chinese Medicine, proper digestion is one of the main focuses. This is because improper digestion leads to the accumulation of “ama” in the body. In the Ayurvedic texts ama is described as having heavy, soft, and moist qualities. The accumulation of ama is said to lead to obstructions in the body and dis-ease.It is likely that ama refers to any toxin which causes disease in the body.
Although all constitutions can experience digestion issues. People with a predominantly Vata constitution, like myself are more prone to digestive issues such as gas and constipation. Learning how to encourage proper digestions in my body has been an important part of my healing process because no matter what you eat if you don’t digest it well you will not benefit from the food. Today, I wanted to share 5 Ayurvedic practices that have helped keep my digestion flowing and me going regularly!
The spring pollen party may be over for the trees but grass and weed are still going strong. Welcome to summer allergy season where one of the biggest allergy triggers is ragweed, smog, and mold. Ragweed can travel up to hundreds of miles by wind so even it doesn’t grow where you live it can it can still make you feel bad if your allergic. Summer’s strong sunlight and calm winds can create cloud of ozone around some city. Ozone is created in the atmosphere from a mix of sunlight and chemicals from car exhaust. Tiny mold spores and dust mites thrive in warm, humid temperatures. Their residue can get into the air and set off sneezes, wheezes, and runny noses. Summer allergy symptoms are pretty much the same as those that troubled you in the spring and include runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes and nose, & dark circles under the eyes.
Making Allergy season easier:
Sneezing & wheezing month after month? Welcome to Louisiana where year-round allergies are a thing. Here's a look at which allergies plague people most - and when.
During our coldest months’ pollen level are relative low but cranking your household heater can kick up house dust, a winter allergy trigger. If you’re allergic to dust allergies can be just as bad as in the spring and fall.
Dust & mold can cause allergy symptoms all year round but if these two guys don’t spark your symptoms. Tree pollen in late winter early spring might cause you allergies to flare. In the south trees that usually trigger allergies include catalpa, elm, hickory, olive, pecan, sycamore, and walnut.
Down here in the south allergies are usually in full bloom as pollen counts rise with the start of spring. Although the warm weather might beckon you outside its important to keep an eye on the daily pollen counts. The higher the counts the worse your allergies will be affect. A good place to check pollen counts is at the National Allergy Bureau of the American Academy, Asthma, and Immunology.
April showers can bring more than flowers. For many April brings intense allergy symptoms caused by blooming flowers releasing pollen. In Louisiana grass is often emerging in April too. The double whammy of grass and flower pollen can make you feel especially miserable.
Allergic to tree pollen? Tree pollination may start as early as February but it can last through May. This means many will suffer through spring allergens for up to four months.
June is a prime grass pollen month in many areas. It’s likely that if grass pollen hasn’t started to trigger your allergies yet it will. As the days get warmer and longer you like want to spend more time outside. It’s possible to have mix of good and bad days as the number of allergens in the air depend on factors such as temperature, rainfall amount, and time of day.
Although grass pollen levels begin to subside in during middle of summer our warm humid weather creates the perfect breeding ground for fungus spores and seeds. Mold can grow on fallen leaves, compost piles, grasses, and grains and if you are allergic you may feel like your allergies may never end.
Mold spores peak during August during the hot humid weather. The best way to keep these allergens away is to run the air conditioning with a HEPA filter or invest in an air purifier.
Late summer/early fall ragweed is the most common cause of allergies. These ragweed fuel allergies can start in August and continue through October and possibly November. Pollen grains are lightweight and can spread easily in wet windy areas.
In warmer climates like Louisiana, fall allergies can linger well into this month. Seasonal rain and wind can ramp up mold spores – if your fall allergies include mold or fungi spores, your symptoms may linger.
For most people who suffer from outdoor allergies November may offer a much-needed respite. Ragweed season ends in most areas which allows those who suffer with outdoor allergies enjoy the crisp weather before indoor allergens creep in.
As much as I enjoy my Christmas tree sometimes it makes me wheeze and sneeze. While is probably not the tree itself that triggers allergies but the tiny mold spores that can harbor in its branch. Other common indoor allergen triggers include pet dander and indoor mold that can get kicked out by our home’s heater.
Healthy isn't necessarily the first thing you think of when you hear New Orleans. Thankfully, local small businesses are popping up around New Orleans that make a daily wellness practice a possible feat.
Whether you are shopping for a wellness guru or someone who might need that introduction you can't go wrong with our collection of local favorites that add a little health to our lagniappe.
Its Fall Ya’ll! Bring on that wonderful drop in humidity, cozy sweaters and root veggies. The first few days of fall weather in NOLA are by far my most favorite time in the year. The one thing that can spoil it for me is getting sick. Last year my family was unfortunate to endure both strep throat and the flu during the month of October so this year I took extra precaution to boost our immunity during the seasonal shift. I wanted to share few of my immune boosting go to’s with you today to help your family stay healthy so you can get outside and enjoy this wonderful weather!!
1 cup of boiling filtered water
1 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon of Honey
Dash of Cayenne pepper
Click each picture to learn more about each ingredients immune boosting properties:
Honey – Honey is antibacterial so it helps you fight off any cold bugs that you may encounter. I use honey in a couple of additional way in addition to my morning tonic. If I am sick I chop up a clove of garlic and mix it with a spoon full of honey. This potent mixture is natures best anti-biotic. My daughter is not a fan of sore throat lozenges so instead I make her a mixture of a tablespoon of honey mix with the juice of one lemon to take every couple of hours when battling a sore throat. Taking local honey daily also helps boost antihistamine levels and ward off seasonal allergies.
Cayenne – This one is not for the faint of heart but in addition to adding this to my morning tonic, I have been known to gargle with cayenne pepper. About once a year despite my best immune boosting efforts I come down with laryngitis. This remedy helps me get my voice back in no time. Just mix a SMALL amount in water a gargle. It might sting a bit at first but it is worth it. This works wonders!
Lemons sourced from Traders Joe's currently but I'm hoping they'll make an appearance at The Gretna's Farmers Market soon.
I source my honey locally from Fleur de Bees. You can catch them weekly at the Gretna's Farmer's Market on Saturday morning.
I use Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar.
I use New Orleans own Zatarains Cayenne Pepper
Well there you have it five simple ways to I'm boosting immunity this fall. Let me know in the comments below if you've tried any of these before.
A few weeks ago, I managed to drag myself to a yoga class on one of those days where exhaustion seems insurmountable and you seriously consider staying home and laying on the sofa instead. I had contemplated skipping class because I was so tired and stressed from daily life. Fortunately, I made the choice to get to the studio and onto my mat.
After her dharma talk, Michelle began chanting one of my favorite mantras. Almost immediately, my mood shifted and I felt more energetic. My toes began tapping, my shoulders got lighter, and my heart expanded. As we moved through the various shapes of the asana, my energy levels increased and I began to feel more connected. As we chanted the closing Om, a sense of overwhelming peace was present in my body. Briefly I wondered about this tremendous shift in my being. Then it clicked for me: this practice is the creation of sacred geometry in action. When we tap into sacred geometry with the movements of the body, we literally realign. I am sacred geometry!
When we feel stressed, tired, or ill, we are out of alignment with the natural order of the universe. By attuning our body to universal consciousness through the breath, mantra (sound), and yantra (form) we can realign with our natural state. When I realized this, a new appreciation for sacred geometry arose within myself.
Sacred geometry is the universal patterns existing in the design of everything in our reality. It’s in everything from architecture to art, geometry, mathematical ratios, and harmonics. It’s found throughout music, light, and cosmology. Sacred geometry confirms that there is a wholeness in a creation: a unity in design, pattern, ratio, and energy. Most readily these patterns are found in nature. We see them in hurricanes, spider webs, pinecones, pineapple fruits, seashells, and even our DNA. Beyond beautiful, the patterns of sacred geometry are nature’s design system for efficient and purposeful means of growth, energy flow stabilization, information sharing, and organization. Scientists have discovered that the growth patterns such as the Fibonnaci sequence allow plants to use the least amount of energy needed for growth and are so reliable that deviations from it are often used as indicators of genetic damage.
Ancient sages recognized that the patterns we see in nature are the result of the forces of creation. They organized these patterns into a complex system known as Yoga. Our yoga practice aligns the physical body in time and space, with the Cosmic forces acting beyond time and space. By aligning our body with these matrices, we can connect to universal consciousness.
During asana practice our bodies assume sacred geometric forms of straight lines, circles, squares, and triangles, all signifying an aspiration of convergence from duality to a unified field of consciousness. These patterns resemble sacred geometric forms known as yantras. A yantra is shape representing divinities, which exert their influence by means of higher vibrations. Like a magnet, yantras draw consciousness from the outer world to the inner world. The effect of moving our body into these yantras is a sense of peace and interconnectedness not present in other forms of exercise. Exercise, as the name suggests, projects energy in an outward motion, whereas yoga focuses on drawing energy in. For this reason, yoga can be thought of as more of an “innercise” than exercise.
The Pythagoreans taught that the five geometric shapes known as the Platonic solids were the core patterns behind physical creation. Modern day scientists confirmed this teaching by examining 3-D models of the elements of the periodic table. They found that each has a crystalline structure at an atomic level made up of these Platonic shapes. Plato, for whom the shapes are named, discovered that each of these shapes corresponded with the five classical elements, earth, wind, fire, water, and ether.
Developers of ancient healing modalities, like Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine, learned that systematically applying these elements through five-sense therapy can restore harmony and balance to the physical and subtle body. For example, the healing treatment Halotherapy uses salt crystals to restore balance to both the respiratory and energetic systems of body. Salt is made up of the elements Sodium and Chloride and has the crystalline structure of a cube. The cube is related to energy of the earth. Earth energy assists in grounding, clearing, increasing focus, relieving tension, and reducing stress.
I witnessed the healing benefits of Halotherapy on a personal level while trying to find a way to alleviate my daughter’s persistent respiratory ailments.
Like many New Orleanians, she suffers from frequent allergies issues year round. Living down here in the damp swamps, her immune system was battling oak tree pollen in the spring, grass in the summer, ragweed in the fall, and mold pretty much all the time. This led to frequent doctor visits and many missed days of school. The year I discovered Halotherapy she had missed nearly 5 weeks of school due to respiratory issues. While I valued our pediatrician’s care, I was frustrated by her repeated suggestions to give her Claritin & Flonase every day. I knew that these simply masked the symptoms of an imbalance she was experiencing rather than clear the root problem.
On a particular challenging spring night, unable to fall asleep because of the constant coughing coming from my daughter as she slept, I began researching holistic treatments for allergies and came across Halotherapy. I was intrigued and made an appointment for the next day at the nearest center that offered this treatment. I was skeptical, but to my surprise, 30 minutes in the Salt Room offered a relief to Stella that over-the-counter medication had not. We visited two more times that week & by the end of the week, her symptoms had completely subsided.
As I began to dive deeper into the science behind Halotherapy, I learned that the treatment was causing shifts on an subatomic level. All matter (the human body, air, water, etc) is made up of molecules which are made up of atoms which are made up of three types of particles: protons (positive charge), electrons (negative charge), and neutrons (no charge). Electrons orbit their molecules like planets revolve around a star. Occasionally an electron flies off and when it does, it leaves behind a positively charged ion whose sole purpose becomes to fill the void left by its little lost electron. In other words: it wants to steal a replacement electron from another molecule. Our atmosphere is over-saturated with positive ions, mostly due to the amount of electronics in our environments. Positive ions have a negative effect on the body. They sap our energy, increase stress, and lower our body’s immune system. The heated salt particles released by the Halogenerator release negative ions into the air and help counteract the effects of our over exposure to positive ions.
Furthermore, the crystalline structure of salt makes it super absorbent. You’ve probably witnessed this while cooking with salt. Just slice some eggplant and place table salt on it and watch the moisture come to the surface. When you inhale dry salt, it absorbs the excess mucous in the system and since pure sodium chloride is water soluble, it passes through our waste system. Additionally, the sodium chloride molecule is structured in such a way that it actually rubs against the cilia along the respiratory tract and loosens the dust, pollen, and toxins that we breathe in each day. Dry salt is also anti-inflammatory, which means that it opens and expands areas in the respiratory system. Another characteristic is that salt is anti-bacterial, which allows it to prevent bacteria and viruses from spreading.
These combined properties of salt provided a natural and effective solution for my when my daughters allergies would flare up but I knew as with all healthy practices consistency was the key to its effectiveness. Traveling an hour to get treatment every time wasn’t sustainable so I began the process of figuring out how to bring Halotherapy to New Orleans, and with the help of my Swan River Family was able to open the first Halotherapy room in New Orleans.
Sacred geometry gives the blueprint for the subtle framework, acting as map of both soul and body. The study of this subject will allow you to accelerate the return journey to oneness. Through the study of archetypal forms and retracing the Creator’s steps, you will learn to move and play freely within the grand construct. This liberation is goal of our yoga practice.
As you move throughout your practice on the mat, explore how different shapes elicit different emotional, psychological, and energetic responses. As you adjust your body to the alignment cues of the teacher notice how this affects those responses. Systematic alignment cues within the poses are not only for the anatomical and physiological balance of the body, but also for realigning the individual’s molecular structure in and around the body. By focusing on alignment, you are using asana to tune the auric field of the body and create connection to universal consciousness
Off the mat, witness and connect with the patterns of sacred geometry in nature all around you. These patterns confirm coherence with the order of the universe, with the elements, and with precise patterns of life. Nadine Artemis writes in her book Renegade Beauty, “When we resonate with the coherence of the cosmos, we dissolve the illusion of separateness and connect to the source of all things. Connecting to this infinite intelligence attunes us to our inherent perfection and our inherent worthiness, and we discern that we receive resources from Source as we allow the beauty of nature to continually revive our being.”
Written by Jessica Walther
Yoga Nidra also known as yogic sleep, is an immensely powerful meditation practice. During a yoga nidra session the participant is led through a systematic process to relax the body and the mind. I found my experience of Yoga Nidra deeply restorative and healing. In additional there are numerous benefits to this ancient practice.
Kapha dosha is comprised of the elements of earth and water. The qualities of Kapha dosha are heavy, slow, steady, solid, cold, soft, & oily. To counteract the general stagnation that occurs in individuals with imbalanced Kapha dosha a flowing practice that includes heat generating sun salutations is recommended. Asanas that include twist and core strengthening elements are most beneficial to combating the stagnation that often accompanies excess Kapha in the system.
Breath of Fire
Kapalabhati means skull shining breath. It’s a pranayama exercise as well as an internal kriya, or cleansing technique. This breath will help clear mucus in the air passages, relieve congestion, reduce bloating, and improve lung capacity. Kapalabhati is an invigorating breath that can build heat in the body.
How to do it: Start by sitting in a comfortable seat with a tall, straight spine, and exhale completely. Inhale briefly through both nostrils, then sharply exhale (again out of your nose) while pulling your navel in toward your spine. The exhalation is short and quick, but very active, while the inhalation is short and passive. Again, pull your navel in as you exhale and soften it on the inhalation. Do one round of 30 (counting your exhalations) and rest for a minute with some deep breaths in between. Repeat. If this seems strenuous, start with 15 and gradually work your way up.
Sun Salutations - Sun salutation is a common sequence of hatha yoga asanas. The physical base of the practice links together twelve asanas in an order that alternatively stretches the spine backwards and forwards. The routine engages the core, stretches the hamstrings, and loosens the shoulders. Regular practice improves blood circulation throughout the entire body, massages the internal organs, and promotes overall health. The practice is versatile and can be adapted to your individual needs. When practiced at a fast pace, the technique provides an excellent cardiovascular workout and aids weight loss.
Twists build heat in the body while simultaneously pushing out the stagnation that can build up in the chest and lungs from excess kapha. Twist also help stimulate the sluggish digestive system of those with excess Kapha in order to get things moving. Emotionally twists help to release those habits and tendencies that are no longer serving to create joy.
Revolved chair – Parivrtta Utkatasana
Revolved Lunge Pose Parivrtta Anjaneyasana
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose Ardha Matsyendrasana
Core Poses help to build heat in the body & stoke the digestive fire also known as agni. Stimulating the core region can help activate passion, power, strength, and transformation which can sometimes become dormant for those with excess Kapha.
Boat Pose Navasana
Tiger Pose (Vyaghrasana)
Vata dosha relates to the element of air. The nature of Vata includes the following qualities; cold, light, dry, irregular, rough, moving, and unstable. Since it is the natural tendency of person without a lot of Vata in their system to be always on the go; practices that intentionally cause them to slow down can help bring about balance. For this reason, a slow flow yoga class that incorporates standing poses, forward folds and hip openers would greatly benefit those beings with a majority of Vata dosha.
Slow the mind by balancing the breath...
Nadhi sodhana, also known as alternative nostril breathing, is a very relaxed, balancing breath that is used to help calm the nervous system of those with an imbalance of Vata.
How to do it: Nadhi sodhana can be done seated or lying down. To start, empty all the air from your lungs. Using the thumb of your dominant hand, block your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril only. Be sure to inhale into your belly, not your chest. Once you are full of breath, seal your left nostril with the ring finger of the same hand, keeping your right nostril closed, and hold the breath for a moment. Then release your thumb and exhale through your right nostril only. Be sure to exhale all the breath out of the right side and pause before inhaling again through the same side. Seal both nostrils once you’ve inhaled on the right side and exhaled through the left side. A complete cycle of breath includes an inhalation and exhalation through both nostrils. If you’re just starting out, you can do a four-count inhale, holding your breath for four to eight counts, then exhale for four counts. Perform up to ten cycles and notice how your body responds. You may feel more relaxed and calm in both your mind and body
Standing Poses – Standing poses help to ground Vata energy by developing strength and stability. They bring the quality of rootedness into the body because they are grounding and centering. For example, In Mountain, the most basic of standing poses, when you physically plant your feet firmly into the ground and bring your hands together at your heart center, your energetic body follows and that scattered feeling dissipates. This stability sets a solid foundation to help you withstand whatever life throws at you. Standing in Warrior with all four corners of your feet firmly grounded, lifting through your spine and ribcage and reaching up through the fingertips allows you to feel your inner strength and joy brings all your energy to center and sends it crisscrossing through the main central energetic pathway of the body.
My Favorite Standing Poses:
Mountain Pose - Tasdasana
Warrior 1 –Virabhadrasana 1
Warrior 2 – Virabhadrasana
Triangle – Uhitta Trikosana
Hip Openers help to release any pent up emotions or excess energy of Vata dosha. In my experience, most people physically hold emotions in the hip. Many people also have extremely tight hips. This is no coincidence. Hip openers are best when done slowly, sinking down gradually with each exhale. Then stay there for a while and let those emotions bubble up. Stay present and fully feel whatever you are feeling without judgment. Breathe into the emotions and allow them to release.
My Favorite Hip Openers:
Low Lunge – Anajanaeasana
Lizard – Utthan Pristhasana
Goddess Pose - Malasana
Pigeon Pose - Kapotasana
Forward Bends are calming to the ever active Vata dosha. Forward bends calm the nervous system and promote rest. Forward folds can help alleviate uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, vulnerability, & sensitivity that are common in those with excess Vata. Forward bends also release the muscles of the lower back, an area where many people experience tightness and hold emotions.
My Favorite Forward Bends
Head to Knee Pose - Janu Srisana
Cobblers Pose – Badha Kosana
Seated Forward Fold - Pachimottasana
Boat Pose – Navasana
Mild Inversions are great for relieving low back pain & calming nervousness in the body. When practicing these poses close your eyes to & focus on the breath to help further quiet the mind. Viparita Karani is also a great asana to help with insomnia that is also usually present with a Vata imbalance.
My Favorite Mild Inversions
Supported Bridge Pose – Setu Banha Sarvanasana
Legs up the Wall – Viparita Karani
Finally finish the practice with short snuggly savasana by placing a bolster under your knees & cocooning yourself in a blanket.
Allergy, cold & flu season is upon us. Unfortunately, myself & my daughter were early victims of the flu this season & it was no fun. A week of missed work, followed by a flu ridden trip to California & an almost missed Disney trip made for a sad & miserable two weeks. In an effort to spare others of this sad fate, I want to share some ayurvedic practices to protect your respiratory system and boost your immunity. We will definitely be incorporating these into our routine to prevent any other cold & flu misfortunes.
Halotherapy or Dry Salt Therapy