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How to Use The Wisdom of Yoga to Make Better Diet Choices

Our popular contributor Kara-Leah takes a look at how to eat mindfully using a yogic perspective – combining the wisdom of Ayurveda and the concept of the Gunas.

by Kara-Leah Grant

Author of Forty Days of Yoga – Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice.

In an ideal world, everything you ate would be organic and locally grown.

It would be planted, tended, harvested and stored with love and attention. It would be cooked and presented and eaten with love and attention. Nothing would contain additives, or preservatives, nor would much of it be frozen, dried or tinned.

So lets assume this is true – how do you know exactly what to eat? Ignoring the restrictions of eating locally (mountain dwellers wouldn’t be dining on prawns, nor would New Zealanders be drinking coffee), you would eat what you needed most for your particular energetic state and your desired result.

One way to explore our energetic states is through Ayurveda – part of the Vedic traditions of India that include yoga.

Ayurveda divides the body into three different states of being, or doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

All three are present within us, in different quantities at different times, constantly changing.

The key body qualities of Vata are dryness, lightness and some degree of coldness. If there is an excess of Vata in the body, it might manifest as dryness of the joints – say osteoarthritis.

The key quality of Pitta is heat, and the metabolic activities of the body. Excess Pitta can result fevers, hives, rashes, acne, sore throats, acid indigestion, excessive hunger, profuse perspiration and hot flashes.

Lastly, Kapha is related to coldness, stability and the ability to bind or hold structures together. Illnesses brought about by excess Kapha include weight gain, congestion and lethargy, including allergies. When choosing a diet for maximum energetic vibration, an understanding of the body in Ayurvedic terms helps you choose foods that balance out your natural tendencies.

The three doshas are further expanded on when one starts to look at the three states of mind according to yogic philosophy – the three gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.

Our mind is in a state of sattva when we experience contentment, clarity and quiet. This is where we WANT to be most of the time – a place when intuition and psychic power can easily flow.

Our mind is in a state of rajas when we are driven to action by desire or dislike. We’re either working to attain something or avoid something. In contrast, our mind is in a state of tamas when we are in a state of lethargy and uncertainity – when we don’t know what to do, or can’t be bothered doing anything.

By balancing out our doshas, and paying attention to the gunas, we can choose our food based on needs. This excellent site will give you more indepth information on specific foods to balance the three doshas – Holistic Online.

When I went and had an Ayurvedic consultation, I discovered that all the foods I was recommended to eat, and to steer clear of, completely matched my natural inclinations and tendencies. However you don’t need to spend a lot of time worrying about which dosha you are and what guna you’re experiencing. One of the many benefits of regular yoga practice, an especially home yoga practice is that you can FEEL what your body needs – that’s what being conscious is all about.

So how do you know WHAT do eat? Simply be conscious.

Take a moment to tune into your breath and body, just as if you were meditating or practicing yoga. Once you feel that level of connection, then:

  1. Tune into your energy levels – what are they like? High, low, ungrounded, flat?
  2. Tune into your mind – what state is it in? Content, active, inactive?
  3. Tune into your cravings – what do you feel like eating?
  4. Draw the connection between these three things – take your energy needs, and your mind’s present state, and deduce from your cravings what type of food you need to eat.
  5. Make the BEST choice possible for you at this time – the choice that addresses these needs.

When my energy vibration gets high and ungrounded and I feel all floaty, I know I need to ground myself. I do this by eating heavy, kapha type foods. Unhealthy choices include pastries, cakes and doughy type concoctions. Medium choices include read meat, cheese or wine. Best choices include root vegetables – beet root, carrots, kumara and pumpkin.

When your energy is low and you’re having trouble getting up from the couch an unhealthy choice might be a handful of candy, a medium choice might be a coffee, or the best choice might be a salad with legumes and sunflower seeds and an oil and lemon juice dressing.

By constantly paying attention to how you feel before and after eating particular foods, you can start to notice the effect they have in you. This adds to your wealth of knowledge so that can address your needs with more and more accuracy.

As you start to vibrate higher, you will find your tastes change.

You may find that you develop cravings for different types of food. I was craving asparagus for awhile there, something about it just felt so good in my system. Being conscious as you eat means that you don’t choose food based on habit, but rather need.

Eating for energy doesn’t exclude many foods we’ve been trained to think of as ‘bad’. Your ideal diet may include coffee, chocolate and wine. Yet over time you will also become more aware of how these particular foods affect your state of mind – for example coffee makes the mind rajas, wine make you more tamas. 

If you are serious about raising your vibration – at bringing yourself into a state of sattva – eat foods like vegetables, fruits and legumes. 

Resist foods that will bring your energy lower such as coffee, caffeine, dairy products, processed foods, sugar, and red meat. All of these tend to make your energy very heavy and dense.

For a specific approach to the energetic levels of foods, check out this short article – The vibrations of food and drink. It suggests using measuring the Bovis unit level of foods using a handmade chart and pendulum. Given that we’d expect fresh, organic fruit to score higher than processed cakes, it would be easy to check it’s validity. (Which I haven’t done.)

If you work as a psychic, or intuitive, your energetic state becomes even more important – and I suspect you wouldn’t need such a device, instead paying attention to what your own intuition suggests. Slade from Shift your Spirits says he’s always paying attention to how food feels, and what works for him.

“Doing Intuitive/ Psychic Readings for large numbers of people has created its own set of body and energy requirements. One thing I can say for sure, 100% of the time, performing a Reading dehydrates me. It’s as simple as that.

I have also observed that in my body a combination of proteins and carbs at the same time makes me stupid on many levels. When I eat meat I combine it with vegetables, instead of with breads or starches.

The Meat and Potatoes staple is psychically inhibiting, while a steak and a salad seems to be fine. One of my favorite positive psychically-enhanced food phenomena is what a friend of mine calls a Sushi Buzz.

A Sushi Buzz is a mild euphoric feeling that I get from a high concentration of beneficial omega fatty acids — found in fish oils, these particular proteins are believed to positively affect brain activity and cognitive functions. Combine this with the Miso Soup appetizer, for the intense soy protein rush.

Caffeine, in moderate quantities, at the right time of day, absolutely enhances my psychic ability.”

I’ve experienced most of this in my own life too – in particular, although wine and sake are both alcohols, each has a completely different energetic feel in the body. Wine is complex, warm and heavy, whereas sake is light, clear, clean and ‘sparky’. Wine puts me to sleep, sake makes me want to chat and dance all night long.

Experiment in your own life and figure out what works for you – what raises YOUR vibration?

And trust your instincts – you KNOW how to eat an optimum diet for your particular energetic state, just as you know that the optimum diet for maximum energetic vibration is 95% raw, live foods. (All organic and locally produced with love…)

But that’s not feasible, or possible for most people – but by being aware of the energetic nature of foods, you can continue to make better and better choices. And who knows, maybe one day, you will find you ARE eating a 95% raw, live food diet because it just feels right to you.

Imagine what your energetic vibration would be like then!

About Kara-Leah


Kara-Leah is a writer and yoga teacher who has always been infinitely curious about the make-up of the human psyche and body. Regular yoga helped her heal and recover from chronic back issues, including a spinal fusion at age 16, and two episodes of psychosis at age 29.

Her daily home yoga practice began in earnest when people kept asking her to teach them yoga.  She’s since trained as a teacher with Shiva Rea, and immersed herself in practicing, teaching yoga and writing about yoga. Kara-Leah lives just outside of Queenstown, New Zealand with her son Samuel.

She’s the publisher of The Yoga Lunchbox and has just published her first book, Forty Days of Yoga – Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice. She’s also a regular contributor to the Elephant Journal


8 Step Ayurvedic Treatment for Healing and Addiction

Ayurvedic Treatment and Healing Program

Today’s guest article is really special.  It is an excellent guide on how to use the great power of Ayurveda to heal yourself naturally and nurture yourself back to health.  Although the article is specifically about Ayurvedic treatment for addiction, the principles and methods discussed apply to any ailment or disease.  This article is from Dr. Rajiv Parti, who is a rare combination of both Western medical training and Eastern holistic healing expertise and he shares his knowledge and wisdom on his excellent website and blog  I highly recommend stopping by and checking out his site.

If you would like to be a guest author on Mastery of Meditation and Yoga, please email me at

heal addiction with ayurveda

8 Steps Ayurvedic Treatment for Addiction and More – Part 1

by Rajiv Parti, MD (aka Dr. Raj )

Ayurveda’s treatment for addiction recovery is a process: a lifestyle and a journey into wellness. It is an invitation to participate in our own wellness and healing, to co-create our full potential and to live every future day with a commitment to nurturing and valuing ourselves.

Ayurveda is a whole person non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical approach aimed at perfect balance – not a method in which we become pharmaceutically dependent patients. It teaches that all material forms in the entire Universe – including the human being – are made up of different combinations of five essential elements, the Mahabhutas. These Mahabhutas are: Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.

Differing combinations of these essential elements create an infinity of material forms: differentiating a flower from a river, a mountain from a cloud, a human being from a star; But every material thing contains a combination of these elements – the cosmos and we are made of the same materials.

Ayurveda teaches that in human beings there are three dominant combinations of these elements that give us each our specific body mind constitutions: these three constitutions are called ‘doshas’, each one of the representing a vital dose of the essential elements in our own individual make up: Vata (the Air element), Pitta (the Fire element) and Kapha (the Earth element):

1. STEP ONE: Identifying the Doshas

Typically each one of us will have a dominant dosha that determines our over riding body mind constitution. We can be categorized as a planet of Vata types, Pitta types or Khapha types – and our inclinations, capacities and nature will be determined by our dosha.

Vata types tend to be highly creative, quick thinking, quick to learn and forget, lean, physically and mentally agile, involved in many things at one time, and prone to anxiety and overwhelm.

Pitta types tend to be leaders, extremely focused, goal oriented, driven physically and mentally and prone to bouts of anger, possible aggression, frustration and impatience.

Kapha types tend to placid, easy going, slower and heavier physically and prone to being anxious to avoid conflict, and experiencing mental and physical inertia or fatigue.

When the doshas are in perfect balance, we humans are well, functioning optimally, mentally and physically, living with vitality and in ease. When the doshas are disturbed, our wellbeing is obstructed, our mental and physical functioning is impaired, and we will live with fatigue and dis-ease.

At the heart of all Ayurvedic treatments therefore is the intention to restore balance to the doshas. Once this is achieved, wellness flows naturally.

Having diagnosed the individual’s dosha type and which doshas are experiencing stress, treatment will now focus on the removal of the stress.

For this the therapeutic practices of Ayurveda center on creating restfulness, restoring calmness, nurturing the body-mind. The mind, and the subtle energy of the body-mind are all equal targets for therapeutic applications.

What you can do at home:

1. Find out your Dosha at

Creating a stress free zone to allow the doshas to come in to natural balance, and support the individual’s natural intelligence at the physical, emotional and mental levels to re-emerge then becomes the foundation for all further treatments.

2. STEP 2 : Rebuilding the Body: Re-storing – Ojas

The Ayurvedic texts identify a substance called ‘Ojas’ as being the vital force of the body. Like honey is the essence of flowers, in the same way, Ojas is considered to be a secreted essence from our tissues, muscles, blood, plasma, fats and bones: produced by all healthy cells, imparting strength, radiance, luster, and power to the body and mind.

In addiction, this Ojas is being continually depleted – and ultimately the depletion of Ojas will eventually cause death. One of the main areas of focus therefore is restore Ojas in the body.

Ojas is mainly cultivated through diet – the useful product of food materials.

Therefore in Ayurveda, there is a major emphasis on diet.

Treatment should center around foods that support the restoration of Ojas, and also support  sup: green vegetables, kale, parsley, spinach, rice, honey, almonds, strawberries, mangos, split mung lentils, amaranth, cooked lightly in spices that are also Ojas enhancing: cumin, coriander, ginger, fennel, cinnamon.

What can you do at home:

1. Cut out foods that are processed or pre-cooked

2. Stock up on lots and lots of green leafy vegetables

3. Try cooking with fresh spices: fennel or cinnamon or ginger

3. STEP 3: Restoring Natural Intelligence : Cultivating Tejas

Vitality in Ayurveda is not something that occurs only in the body. Tejas is the radiant vitality of the body-mind’s innate intelligence: the intelligence by which our cells innately perform a myriad of miracles – carrying oxygen molecules in our blood or releasing neurotransmitters or metabolizing nutrients from foods and identifying waste materials – simultaneously, continuously. Tejas is also the means by with which we can digest and process mental thoughts and impressions, and experience higher perceptual capacities;

Having strong Tejas therefore gives us digestive and information processing power at the mental and physical levels: cellular metabolic energy.

Restoring Tejas would involve calming the nervous system, through a variety of techniques that involve Panchakarma  (a series of detoxification and purification therapies) and ‘Rasayana’ – the practice of destroying disease through the conservation transformation and revitalization of energy.

(see step 4)

4. STEP FOUR: Detoxification and Purification: Panchakarma

Pancha means ‘five’ in Sanskrit and ‘karma’ means action.

Panchakarma is a unique set of five detoxifying Ayurvedic treatments administered in three phases: the preparation, cleansing, and rejuvenation phases.

The first phase is oleation – ingesting and applying pure essential oils in order to mobilize the accumulated toxins in the body. The first of the five actions of Panchakarma here is ‘Swedana’ – the application of hot steam and warm oil therapies that loosen toxins and encourage their flow to the GI tract for elimination.

The second phase is the cleansing phase: now that toxins have been mobilized, their elimination is focused upon through a further three actions, all of which are administered gently through the application of medicinal herbal oils: Basti (intestinal irrigation); Nasya (nasal irrigation) and Vamana (oral elimination)

The final phase of Panchakarma is Rasayana: here medicinal and Ayurvedic oils are applied in uniquely restorative bodywork and massage techniques. Most famous of these is the practice of ‘Shirodhana’ – where warm oil is poured continuously on to the center of the forehead between the two eyes: acting as a powerful pacificier for the entire nervous system.

Further Rasayana would be pursued through Ayurvedic herb prescriptions using the healing properties of plants and flowers, for example:

Ashwaghandha – proven in some 216 medical to: confer immune system protection, combat the effects of stress, improve learning, memory, and reaction time, reduce anxiety and depression without causing drowsiness, reduce brain-cell degeneration.

Guggulu – purifying herbs. It cleanses unhealthy tissues, increases the white blood cell count and rejuvenates the

Brahmi – nerve tonic

Ayurvedic teas and tonics would be included in the diet every day to enhance healing, reduce stress for the rebuilding of tissues: pumpkin is a known sedative, nutmeg is a nervine, and chamomile is a digestive tonic and known sedative nervine herb.

What You Can Do At Home:

1. You can order many of these herbs and teas are available at reputable herbalists, and my own favorite source for these is at world center of excellence, with whom I have personally trained, The Chopra Center:

Stay tuned for part 2 of Ayurvedic Treatment for Addiction and More, where Dr. Raj will detail steps 5 through 8…

Rajiv Parti, MD (aka Dr. Raj) is a world leading specialist in pain management with over 30 years practicing clinical experience. He was the Chief of Anesthesiology at Bakersfield Heart Hospital where he specialized in cardiac anesthesia for 15 years. Dr. Raj founded the Pain Management Institute of California, and under his direction it has served thousands of patients for acute and chronic pain relief. He now specializes in promoting spiritual wellness and personal growth with various non-traditional healing modalities.  His new book “The Soul of Wellness “ is being released by Select Books in October 2012.


Natural Way to Lower Blood Pressure | Seetkari Yoga Breathing Exercise

Yoga for High Blood Pressure

Natural Technique to Reduce Blood Pressure

Free Online Video of Seetkari Yoga Pranayama

(Coming Soon)

Seetkari Yoga Pranayama to Reduce Blood Pressure and More:

Blood pressure can be influenced a great deal by many natural methods and therapies.  One such natural way to combat high blood pressure is by the practice of certain Yoga Breathing Exercises (Pranayamas).  Of the many yoga breathing exercises the ones that are calming and cooling in nature are good for lowering blood pressure, and of those, Seetkari Pranayama is one of the best.

Yoga for High Blood Pressure

Although lowering blood pressure is one of the benefits of this wonderful technique, Seetkari pranayama bestows many other important benefits as well.  You will find those enumerated in the benefits section below. 

This breathing exercise is very easy to learn and practice and it will become part of our ongoing Free Online Yoga Pranayamas E-book here on Mastery of Meditation and Yoga.  Also, a video demonstration of this technique is planned and I will upload that here once it is ready.  Before practicing any yoga or fitness routine please make sure you are medically cleared to do so.  Also, please follow the guidelines for yoga breathing as I have explained in the following article, Beginner’s Guide to Yoga Breathing Exercises and read our Legal Disclaimer.

The science behind many of these natural breathing techniques actually extend from Ayurveda, which is the ancient Indian science of health and longevity.  You can get more information regarding Ayurveda in the following article, Introducing Ayurveda – Alternative Medicine for Self Healing, and also Ayurvedic dietary principles and natural therapies can be excellent to help you fight high blood pressure further. 

Seetkari pranayama is closely related to Sheetali Pranayama and both bestow many of the same benefits, including lowering blood pressure, so please feel free to try Sheetali Pranayama as well to see if it suits you better.  You will find details of this technique in the following article, Sheetali Yoga Breathing Exercise for Reducing Stress.

Below are the details of Seetkari Yoga Pranayama to help lower blood pressure and more.

Benefits of Seetkari Yoga Pranayama:

Benefits of Seetkari Yoga Pranayama:


  • Helps Reduce Blood Pressure.
  • Cools the mental, physical and emotional systems and reduces internal heat (pitta).
  • Reduces stress and creates a sense of tranquility and peace.
  • Helps fight insomnia.
  • Reduces anger and irritation.
  • Reduces fever.
  • Combats other Pitta related disturbances such as acidity, burning eyes, heat rash etc.





Cautions for Seetkari Yoga Pranayama:

There are not many cautions for practicing Seetkari Pranayama.  Since it’s a cooling breath it will increase Kapha (mucus) so don’t practice it if you have cold and respiratory related issues.  See the Introduction to Ayurveda article above for more information on this.

Instructions for Seetkari Yoga Breathing Exercise:

To practice Seetkari pranayama sit up in a comfortable position, you can sit cross legged or on a chair if needed.


  • Elongate your spine upwards, lengthen your neck and subtly bring your chin back and in like a soldier at attention.  This will align the spine with the back of your head.
  • Close your eyes and place your hands on your knees.
  • Take 5 long deep breaths through the nose to relax and calm you.  Your blood pressure should already start dropping .
  • Now bring your teeth together lightly and pull the lips back.  Your teeth should now be exposed.
  • Now simply inhale slowly and deeply allowing the air to pass through your teeth.  The air passing through the teeth should make a hissing sound.
  • To exhale, close your mouth and exhale slowly and completely through the nose.  This completes 1 round.
  • Do 10 repetitions to start with and then over time you can build up to 50 repetitions.





Seetkari Yoga Pranayama to Reduce Blood Pressure Summary: 

As I mentioned above the cooling or calming yogic breathing exercises are excellent natural ways for lowering blood pressure.  In addition to Sheetali Pranayama another breathing technique that has been know to be very effective for reducing high blood pressure is Anuloma Viloma Pranayama, and you will find the details for this technique in the article, Chakra Balancing Breathing Exercise – Anuloma Viloma.  This technique is really one of the best yoga breathing exercises and whether or not you have high blood pressure, it is a must do everyday exercise for overall personal and spiritual growth.


Effective Ayurveda & Yogic Tips for Fighting Colds & Flu

Ayurvedic Treatment for Cold & Flu

Yoga Tips for Cold & Flu

The free November Mastery of Meditation newsletter included these useful Ayurvedic and Yogic tips for battling the common cold and flu, which I think is worth sharing with all of you given many of us are smack in the middle of a rough winter season.  If you would like to sign up for the Meditation newsletter, just enter your email at the top left corner of the page.

Ayurveda Remedy for Cough & Colds:
According to Ayurveda, colds are a Kapha and Vata disorder and the best herbal remedy for overcoming them is ginger.  There are many concoctions you can make using ginger, all of which would be useful, but the following is my choice as it is one that tastes good, so even your kids won’t mind taking it.

Effective Ayurveda & Yogic Tips

Mix 1/4 teaspoon of ginger powder and 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric powder, with enough honey to make a paste in a tablespoon.  Then take by licking slowly.  The ginger will help soothe the cough and cold, the honey will help the throat and the turmeric will act as an antiseptic.  It is the medicine of choice at my house in winter .
Another variation which is also excellent for cough and colds, is to take the same portions of ginger powder, turmeric powder and a teaspoon of honey, in about 2 ounces of hot water, as the last thing before sleeping.  This is also a very effective remedy.
Yoga Remedy for Colds:

To help fight off colds and better still, to help prevent them in the first place, practice Kapalbhati Pranayama.  This pranayama is one of the best ways to boost your health and immune system.  It also generates heat in the body to offset the Kapha/Vata imbalance and helps clear of system of congestion.

Another pranayama that is great for battling colds and flus, boosting internal heat, detoxifying and building your immune system is the potent Kundalini Yoga Breath of Fire Breathing Exercise

Stay warm, stay healthy stay happy!


Kundalini Yoga Exercises & Chakra Meditation to Boost Immune System

Summary: Kundalini Yoga Exercises and Kundalini Chakra Meditations to boost your immune system and get your body tuned and ready for the challenges of winter.  Detoxify your system, increase your energy, burn excess fat and optimize your health with these two terrific gems from the profound science of Kundalini Yoga.

Often in Kundalini Yoga the example of a car is used to explain what this great spiritual science is trying to accomplish.  Kundalini Yoga puts it this way, your body is like a Ferrari, but in not knowing how to tune it, you essentially end up living your life running around in a Pinto.  If one thinks about it, we are taught a great deal of stuff in school, but we are not really taught how to optimize and take care of one of the most important things that we possess, our bodies.  I know there is Gym class, I can barely remember that far back actually :-), but even there we are not really taught much regarding health and wellbeing.  I do remember learning dodge ball though and I loved floor hockey, ok I digress :-D.  So hopefully this website is going to make up for that lack of education and give you all the tools and techniques needed to create a powerful, refined, dynamic and Ferrari like body.

Kundalini Yoga Exercises

Continuing along the analogy of a car.  Prior to the onset of winter my father, without fail, gets the cars to our family mechanic to winterize them.  As a result our cars run forever.  I know there is the great law of impermanence, but it just does not seem to apply to the wheels we have in our house :-D.  I think we ought to apply this same wisdom and diligence to our bodies and with winter around the corner, especially for us here in the North Eastern US, it’s time to winterize them as well.

The combination of Kundalini Yoga exercises and the Kundalini Chakra meditation below is excellent for this purpose of tuning up the body for winter.  The details of each of these yogic gems are in the articles themselves so I won’t rehash that here, but I will point out some of the important highlights and reasons for doing them prior to winter.

Benefits of Kundalini Yoga Morning Wakeup Series & Sodarshan Chakra Kundalini Yoga Meditation:

  1. Improve Immune System: Boost the immune system so that it’s working at maximum capacity.  Will help ward off and protect against cold and flus.
  2. Increase Heat/Pitta: Generate heat (increase Ayurveda humour Pitta) in the body to combat the affects of winter.  Thus, not allowing Ayurveda humour Vata and Ayurveda humour Kapha to be exacerbated during the winter months.  This will prevent Vata/Kapha type ailments, which are more prevalent during the cold season.
  3. Detoxify: Detoxify the entire system at all levels to increase the flow of oxygen (prana/chi/life-force) and amplify energy (Kundalini Shakti) is the psychic pathways.
  4. Increase Energy: Improve the nervous system, digestive system and respiratory system, thus helping tune the body to ensure health and vitality.
  5. Burn Fat: Help increase the cellular metabolic rate to promote weight loss and prevent excess winter fat from being accumulated, thus, helping attain and maintain a slim trim body.

Here are the links to the Kundalini Yoga Morning Wake-up Series and Sodarshan Chakra Kundalini Yoga Meditation respectively.  Time to get the Ferrari out of the garage!

Kundalini Yoga Morning Wake-up Series

Sodarshan Chakra Kundalini Yoga Meditation


5 Healthy Weight Loss Tips from Ayurveda

Excerpt: Ayurveda approaches weight loss and fat reduction by providing guidelines for all dimensions of your being.  This article details Ayurveda’s recommendations for your Physical Dimension in order to fight obesity and get fit.

In the article Healthy Ayurveda Diet to Lose Weight & Burn Fat, we discussed what constitutes a healthy weight loss diet based on Ayurveda’s model of Vata, Pitta & Kapha body types.  In that article we indicated that the Kapha Dosha (humour) is primarily responsible for fat and adipose tissue and by reducing Kapha we reduce fat and excess weight.  To get a quick overview of Ayurveda and the 3 doshas please read the following article: Introducing Ayurveda – Alternative Medicine for Self Healing.

Weight Loss

Continuing on the war path against excess weight, Ayurveda proposes the following weight loss tips to help reduce Kapha Dosha and thus battle obesity and being overweight.   Of the 4 dimensions of our being, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, in this article I will cover the Physical Dimension which is most important for the reduction of Kapha and the correlating reduction in weight.  In future articles I will cover the other dimensions.

Weight Loss Tips from Ayurveda for The Physical Dimension:

1.  Ayurvedic Diet for Weight Loss:

The Healthy Ayurveda Diet article already detailed this most important food aspect for reducing Kapha and burning fat so I wont repeat that here, but, please note that diet is a very key aspect in this battle against being overweight.

2.  Exercise for Weight Loss: 

The following Ayurvedic guidelines should be followed for proper exercise with regard to weight loss:

  • More Exercise the Better:  Kapha’s qualities of fixed, dull, heavy, soft and cold are all negated via exercise.  In other words, the more exercise you do the more you reduce Kapha and therefore fat in your body.
  • Exercise Without Excessive Strain:  According to Ayurveda, Kapha individuals need the most vigorous exercise, but at the same time, the exercise should never be extreme.  Find a good balance between doing too little and over doing it.  Breaking a nice sweat is good, but being totally breathless is probably too much.
  • Be Consistent:  A Kapha body type has a propensity towards weight gain so you need to make exercise a daily part of you life.  The hardest part will be to get the exercise program underway.  Once this is done Kapha people tend to be very determined and steady, so they will be able to adhere to it long term.  Getting started though is another matter for Kapha types and usually requires shock treatment.  In the spirit of shock treatment, understand that by NOT exercising and NOT losing the weight you are putting your longevity and quality of life at risk.  Enough said, start today!
  • Yoga for Weight Loss:  In the article Online Yoga Exercises for Healthy Weigh Loss I have provided a potent yoga set to help you burn fat and lose weight.  Feel free to incorporate that into your exercise regiment.
  • Post Exercise Diet:  After exercises do not drink cold liquids.  This period is key as you are trying to increase the metabolic fire in your cells so they burn more calories and drinking cold liquids at this time will negate this important benefit which exercise bestows.

3. Hard Physical Work to Burn Calories:

According to Ayurveda reduction of Kapha is promoted by living a physical, active lifestyle.  In today’s age of technology, computers, TVs, TiVO, internet, etc. manual labor is getting more rare for people to do.  So you need to consciously incorporate physical work into your life.  Whether that be mowing the lawn, tending to the garden or shoveling snow, it is important to not live a sedentary live of watching TV and eating twinkies.

4. Massage Therapy to Reduce Fat:

There are many treatment modalities in Ayurveda of which massage is highly recommended.  In the context of weight loss and reducing Kapha, strong massage with light oils such as mustard or flaxseed is helpful.

5. Sleep Guidelines for Weight Loss:

No napping or going to bed early.  Yes, a recommendation from a Meditation and Yoga website to actually not retire to bed early :-).  If you want to reduce Kapha and weight remember you burn more calories when you are awake and being active, than when you are happily snuggled under the blanket.

Feel free to join the Free Online Weight Loss Course offered here to help you in your goal to reduce weight and get fit.  In the next part of this series I will cover Ayurveda’s Emotional, Mental and Spiritual recommendations for burning fat and reducing weight.

Internet Resources Below

Ayurveda Resources:

The Ayurvedic Institute
American Institude of Vedic Studies

Other Weight Loss Resources:
FDA Nutrition & Weight Loss Q&A
How to Use Fruits & Vegetables to Manage Your Weight (Center for Disease Control & Prevention)
Tips for Exercise Success (American Heart Association)
How to Stop Emotional Eating (Mayo Clinic)


Sheetali Pranayama Breathing Exercise for Stress & Anger Management

Breathing Exercise for Reducing Stress 

Sheetali Pranayama: Hatha Yoga Breathing Exercise #6

Free Online Video of Sheetali Yoga Pranayama

(Video #5 of the Online Yoga Breathing Exercises Video Series)



What is Sheetali Pranayama:

Sheetali Pranayama is Yoga’s answer to heat, stress, anger and irritation.  Sheetal means calmness and peacefulness and those are the results of practicing this cooling breath.  I recently undertook the practice of Sheetali Pranayama when an internal heat imbalance took place within my body and I am happy to report that the energies within have been cooled and equilibrium has been restored.

Sheetali Pranayama comes directly from the traditional schools of Hatha Yoga, but, it was also taught to me in my Kundalini Yoga training and is a widely used breathing technique to combat Ayurveda’s Pitta (Heat: see Introducing Ayurveda – Alternative Medicine for Self Healing) related issues.  Sheetali is another pranayama worth having in your repertoire and its simplicity makes it possible to do anywhere and an anytime.

Below are the details of Sheetali Pranayama.

Benefits of Sheetali Pranayama:

Primary benefits of Sheetali Pranayama:

  • Cools the mental, physical and emotional systems and reduces internal heat.
  • Reduces stress and creates a sense of tranquility and peace.
  • Reduces anger and irritation promoting calm.
  • Reduces fever.
  • Combats other Pitta related disturbances such as acidity, burning eyes, heat rash etc.

Secondary benefits of Sheetali Pranayama:

  • Stimulates and assists in digestion.
  • Helps combat restlessness and helps induce sleep.

Cautions for Sheetali Pranayama:

There are not many cautions for practicing Sheetali Pranayama.  Since it’s a cooling breath it will increase Kapha (mucus) so don’t practice it if you have cold and respiratory related issues.  Also, in winter don’t overdo it to avoid exacerbating Kapha and excessively cooling the system.

Instructions for Beginner’s Sheetali Pranayama:

To practice Sheetali pranayama sit up in a comfortable position, you are also practice this breathing exercise standing up or lying down.  The instructions below are for if you are sitting, but, for other positions only slight modifications should be needed.

  • Elongate your spine upwards, lengthen your neck and subtly bring your chin back and in like a soldier at attention.  This will align the spine with the back of your head.
  • Close your eyes and place your hands on your knees.
  • Now curl the sides of your tongue up to create a tunnel and slowly breathe in through your mouth allowing the air to pass over your tongue thus creating a cooling sensation.
  • After you inhale, bring the tongue back in and exhale through the nose.  Then again stick the curled tongue out and repeat.
  • Do 10 repetitions.  One breath cycle of inhalation and exhalation makes 1 repetition.

Instructions for Intermediate Sheetali Pranayama:

The only change for intermediate Sheetali Pranayama is to increase the number of repetitions from 10 up to 50.

Modification for Sheetali Pranayama:

The key to Sheetali Pranayama is the cooling of the air as it passes through the curled tongue, unfortunately, not everyone can curl their tongue in this manner.  If you fall into this category just curl the sides of you tongue up as far as possible and breathe in allowing the air to flow over the tongue to create the coolness as best as possible.

Secret of Sheetali Pranayama: 

According to Yoga lore, The Fonz (Fonzie from the TV show Happy Days) practiced Sheetali Pranayama in secret and it was the reason why he was so cool :-).


Healthy Ayurveda Diet To Burn Fat & Lose Weight

Ayurveda and Weight Loss

As Thursday’s topic is Health, today’s article deals with diet and weight loss from an Ayurvedic perspective.  In the article Introducing Ayurveda – Alternative Medicine for Self Healing the great holistic science of Self Healing and Healthy Living, Ayurveda, was introduced.  A key concept in Ayurveda is that of the 3 Doshas (humours): Vata, Pitta & Kapha.  A combination of these 3 bodily humours are responsible for the makeup of our human body.  This article is focused on the Kapha Dosha, which is responsible for fat and is the prevalent dosha in those who are overweight and obese.  Thus, from a Yogic and Ayurvedic point on view, in order to burn fat and lose weight one must reduce Kapha in the body. 

Healthy Ayurveda Diet

As a quick review the following 3 most important points about Ayurveda need to be remembered:

1. The qualities of Kapha Dosha are: Wet, Cold, Heavy, Dull, Soft, Sticky & Fixed

2. Ayurvedic healing is based on the following 2 principles

  • Like Increases Like
  • Opposites Decrease Each Other

3. There are many treatment methods in Ayurveda and of these we are focusing on Diet for weight loss in this article.  In future posts I will detail other Ayruvedic recommendations to reduce weight, burn fat and get fit.

So keeping the above in mind here are Ayurveda’s dietary recommendations for how to combat obesity, reduce fat and promote healthy weight loss.

General Diet Composition to Lose Weight & Burn Fat (Kapha Reduction) 

  • 30-40% of your diet should be whole grains.
  • 20-30% protein (from both vegetarian and non-vegetarian sources)
  • 40-50% mostly vegetables and some fruit.

Specific Dietary Recommendations to Lose Weight & Burn Fat (Kapha Reduction)

  • Since like increases like, the qualities of Kapha should be a guide to help you choose the right type of foods to eat.  So looking at it from that perspective one should reduce fatty foods, dairy, ice cream, meats (specially red meat) etc.
  • For drinks, stick to hot drinks instead of cold ones.  Again use Kapha qualities as a road map to help you choose.  Drink teas, hot water, instead of cold sodas and milk shakes.
  • Since opposites decrease each other, use more hot spices in your food.  Ginger, cinnamon, coriander and other hot spices will all work to help you reduce Kapha, which is the key to reducing weight.  The tastes you should shoot for in your diet are pungent, bitter and astringent.  Foods with these tastes are all anti-Kapha and will assist in burning fat.  The tastes you should generally avoid are sweet, sour and salty.
  • Similarly increase salads, beans, dry cereals and cooked grains in your diet.  Eating foods with Vata and Pitta qualities will increase those doshas in your body and will work against increasing Kapha.
  • Eat one big meal a day and make it either your lunch or your breakfast.
  • To avoid snacking, have a glass of hot lemonade made with honey.  This will help burn fat and keep away the hunger.


I hope what you begin to see with Ayurveda is that it gives you the knowledge and framework within which you can then customize the treatments you need using your intelligence.  That’s why I call Ayurveda the science of Self Healing.  Once you know the basic concepts, you can readily apply them to deal with any health situation that life throws at you.  Specifically for weight loss understand the qualities of Kapha Dosha and tailor your diet and life style to reduce it.  When you reduce Kapha you reduce fat.  From a dietary perspective, simply reduce intake of food with the same qualities and increase intake of food with opposite qualities. 

To help you further in your weight loss objectives you may wish to sign up for the Free Online Healthy Weight Loss Via Yoga, Breathing & Meditation Program – Course #104.

Internet Resources Below

Ayurveda Resources:

The Ayurvedic Institute
American Institude of Vedic Studies

Other Weight Loss Resources:

FDA Nutrition & Weight Loss Q&A
How to Use Fruits & Vegetables to Manage Your Weight (Center for Disease Control & Prevention)
Tips for Exercise Success (American Heart Association)
How to Stop Emotional Eating (Mayo Clinic)


Introducing Ayurveda – Alternative Medicine for Self Healing

Introduction to Ayurveda

In this website some members of the spiritual family have been properly introduced, such as meditation, zen, yoga,  chakra, kundalini, pranayama, etc. and hopefully you are getting to know them well.  Today we are going to introduce another important member of this most lovely family.  Say hello to Mr. Ayurveda.  Ayurveda literarily means the Science of Life and Longevity.  It is the science of natural healing which dates back almost 5 thousand years and has been evolving and gathering wisdom since then.  Thus, today it is one of the most profound and complete holistic healing systems on this planet.

In this introductory article I will give you a broad overview of Ayurveda and lay down the foundation for providing you future health, healing and wellbeing solutions from this great science.

Introducing Ayurveda

Background of Ayurveda:

Ayurveda is a psychobiological system that looks to optimize health taking into account your body, mind and emotions.  Ayurveda is based on the Vedic Samkhya Philosophy of which, for our purposes here, we will focus on just the 5 Great Elements and the 3 Doshas (humours or fundamental energies that form your constitution) that are derived from them.  The 5 great elements are space (ether), air, fire, water and earth.  The 3 doshas are vata, pitta and kapha.  More on this in the following sections.

The 5 Great Elements & the 3 Doshas of Ayruveda:

The Ayurvedic framework within which all healing is conducted is based on the 3 doshas.  Understanding the doshas and their interaction is the key to understanding Ayurveda. The 3 doshas are formed by the 5 elements as follows…

Vata: Space & Air

Pitta: Fire & Water

Kapha: Water & Earth

According to Ayurveda everything, including the body-mind complex, can be defined by these 3 humours.  They exist in varying quantities in all things.  The qualities of the 3 doshas are as follows:

Vata: Dry, Light, Cold, Rough, Subtle & Mobile

Pitta: Sharp, Hot, Light, Slightly Oily, Slightly Odorous, Mobile & Liquid

Kapha: Wet, Cold, Heavy, Dull, Soft, Sticky & Fixed

Health Goal of Ayurveda (Prakruti & Vikruti):

Ayurveda states that each of us is born with a particular combination of the 3 doshas.  This is our natural state, our constitution or our blueprint.  It is called Prakruti. Due to life acting upon us, this natural balance is altered and the altered current state of your doshas is called Vikruti.  The objective of Ayurveda is help you regain your natural state or close the discrepancy between Vikruti and Prakruti.

It is important to remember here that Ayurveda is not trying to equalize the amount of Vata, Pitta and Kapha in your system.  It is trying to re-establish the natural composition of these three doshas that you were born with.  Here is how Ayurveda looks to do this.

Healing Principles & Techniques of Ayurveda:

Ayurveda is based on the following 2 principles:

1. Like Increases Like

2. Opposites Decrease Each Other

Ayurveda is the manipulation of the three humours, vata, pitta & kapha, based on the 2 principles above.  Since everything is composed of these 3 humours everything is available to be used to influence the quantities of these 3 humours in the body-mind complex.  Some of the more common treatment modalities are as follows…

Diet & Nutrition
Medicinal Herbs
Yoga & Exercises
Thought & Visualization

Massage Therapy
Aroma Therapy
Sound Healing
Color Therapy
Gem Therapy


One of the most fun parts of Ayurveda is figuring out your constitutional makeup and seeing in what quantities Vata, Pitta & Kapha doshas exist in you.  But, the best part of Ayurveda is that it is a science of SELF HEALING.  Once you understand the basic concepts as outlined in this article, you are well on your way to helping yourself create optimum health and vitality.  In future articles I will go deeper into Ayurveda and how to use this great knowledge to effectively heal yourself and set the stage for greater spiritual and personal growth.