Ginger – my best f(r)iend

After having had the most horrible stomach aches after pretty much every meal for two weeks now, I finally seem to have found the root of all evil: my beloved ginger!?

First off, yes, I am aware of the irony of me being on such a health trip, and at the same time not really taking any time to look into (or have someone look into) this problem. My stomach was burning after seemingly anything I ate, my digestion was a nightmare – yet I kind of didn’t do anything about it. I attributed this to the sudden changes in my lifestyle I’ve been making, and just hoped it would go away once my body would adjust. As the saying goes, it’s easier to see the splinter in other people’s eye than the log in your own. So maybe this was karma.

I just don’t like going to doctors, especially not here where you don’t even have a specific doctor you go to – you go to a so-called health center, and you’re assigned whoever happens to be on duty that day. Plus I get the impression that the medical practice here is very “traditionally western”. It seems to me that antibiotics are subscribed as if they were skittles. I am just not into that.

Yesterday however I started looking up doctors in town with an Ayurvedic background or a homeopathic one, willing to bite the bullet, and pay for a consultation outside the tax-funded mainstream health system. Then Peter and I had a heated discussion about my state, his concerns that I was downplaying it, etc. And somehow, I don’t remember exactly how, we realized that the number one food that I have increased my intake of since I got into Ayurveda was ginger. It suddenly dawned on me that all the times my stomach couldn’t tolerate a meal, I had added ginger, and I had done that with about anything since it’s supposed to be so good in so many respects.

Perfect example of how there really is no universally valid recommendation, that it always depends on the particular case. For now that I’ve come to this conclusion I suddenly have been able to see all the lines where it says in which cases not to eat ginger – and they were all the symptoms that I had, or rather: developed in a chain reaction after continuing to eat ginger (high metabolism/high Pitta, diarrhea, all that good stuff).

So, today I avoided ginger, drank peppermint tea in the morning to soothe the stomach – and I haven’t had problems all day. I guess I did get around consulting an expert this time after all, and became a little more of my own expert (not sure whether that really is the take home message from this ordeal though).

I did discover one quick remedy (or rather: Peter pointed me to it), which is obviously no solution for the actual problem but which helps the immediate symptoms, and sometimes that is needed: baking soda. Just dissolve about a tea spoon or so in a glas of water, and drink – works within minutes. Baking soda seems to be good for a lot of things, so I guess there is a post about it in the future …

What’s your morning routine?

Do you get up just in time to throw on some clothes, leave for work, and maybe grab some coffee on the way? Do you get up early so you can take your time and wake up slowly, read the paper, and eat breakfast at home? What does your morning look like?

I have always found myself in the category of people who hate to have to rush, even if that means sleeping less. A while ago, before I got into Ayurveda, I started meditating or doing different mudras (good when you – like me – have a hard time letting your thoughts go – mudras work whether you are able to focus or not). It hadn’t occurred to me that there are other rituals that could help start the day right.

This is the daily routine as presented by Ayurvedic physician Vasant Lad (which is the one you’ll find most in books or online – with minor variations in the details).

I am posting this article from the Nithyayoga-site because it goes a little more into detail regarding the oil pulling technique (“Gargling” in Lad’s article), which I find important. Also, I think that setting a positive intention, and thus: the tone of your day, might be a little more accessible than the prayer for some.Ayurveda knows of routines not only for the morning but for the entire day – the Dinacharya in Sanskrit. Just type the word into your search engine of choice, and you’ll find a bunch of sites giving you a variation of this.Now do I do all of this? Well, sort of but not to a t. I am a person who loves rituals, and to some extend feels lost without them, so naturally, as I read about Ayurveda, the idea of adopting a morning routine (and one for the evening) sounded appealing to me.These days I start my mornings:

  • early – I wake up between 4.30 and 6.30, depending on a variety of factors – usually around 5 or 6 (regardless of  whether I am working that day or not)
  • by drinking some room temperature water, sometimes with a little lemon and honey in it (Ayurvedic remedy if you have problems emptying your bowels in the morning)
  • going to the bathroom
  • boiling some water for tea and a nose cleanse – during the winter I often wake up with a stuffed nose, cleansing it with warm salt water helps
  • over the past few days I started doing some yoga before (I don’t have/take time for this on the days that I work)
  • meditating and doing mudras for about 30 minutes
  • oil-pulling/gargling for about 15-20 minutes
  • while I do that, I usually turn on the computer, check e-mails, start writing something
  • after I spit out the oil, I brush my teeth, wash my face and underarms – or I take a shower
  • when I do take a shower, I started combining this with a massage (again: if I have the time, so, not on working days, and not even on all days off)
  • I get dressed
  • drink some tea
  • and start writing

The order in which I do things does vary, I also skip some steps some days, when I am too impatient and anxious to actually start my day – working on that one. Like today, I brushed my teeth but never really washed the rest, and I am still not really dressed. Sometimes I just feel like I need to start writing first, and then after a while I’ll get back to finishing the morning routine. In reality, it often doesn’t happen then, and I never actually sit still for a while to contemplate the day I am about to begin. Kind of funny, that I manage to rush into the day even though I consciously follow a morning routine.

I am not ignorant (or I’d like to think at least not THAT ignorant), so I know that me having this kind of extensive morning ritual is largely thanks to me not having a full-time job, and my hours being spread over only two to three days per week. Also,  am guessing that not having kids might have something to do with it. Basically, I have the luxury of being able to use a lot of my time as I please.

I find this kind of morning routine very pleasant, energy-inducing, and thus: I find that it helps me make the most of my days. I can recommend it to anyone but I do wonder: is this realistic? Can anyone (who wants to) adopt such a routine? Is it just about setting priorities, and getting up early enough? Or does the world we live in today not really allow for paying so much attention to yourself? Will I still do this as a parent? Do those of you who are parents do this? What do your mornings look like?

A house of one’s own

Why even pretend to be modest. No, I don’t just want a room of my own, I want a house. Right now I have neither (who invented this bedroom-living-room situation for couples anyway?). What I do have is access to hemnet.se, a website where you can check out on a map which houses are for sale here in Sweden. I haven’t indulged in this kind of reverie in a while but Peter’s return from a visit to friends of ours who do live on the country-side, and most of all: the enthusiasm in his voice when he talked about it, led me back there. Who knows, maybe one of these is our future home???

It’s address is Solbergavägen – this must be fate!
Don’t care too much for the blue but this would do, too.
Classic Swedish red house – and I love those kind of porches.

 

While I am dreaming anyway: why not this one???

Recipe – Scones

When I was an exchange student in the USA, my (host) mom would make pancakes or scones on the weekends for breakfast. I loved and kept this tradition later on. Until I – like most people it seems, including my host family – kind of fell of the sugar and carb wagon. But the other day I just couldn’t resist. So if you want to celebrate this Sunday (or my American mom), make some scones!

Here’s my mom’s recipe for 12 scones:

2 3/4 cups (ca. 6,5 dl) flour (I used whole wheat)
1/2 cup (ca. 1 dl)  sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups (ca. 2 dl) firm butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup (ca. 2,5) milk
add fruit if desired

  • Mix dry ingredients,
  • cut in butter until crumbs,
  • stir in milk,
  • knead 25 times,
  • shape and place 2 inches apart.
  • Bake 400° F (200 ° C) for 18-22 minutes

During the colder season, I like to add orange zest – lemon zest tastes great, too, but to me it’s more of a “cold”/fresh taste (= summer in my mind), while orange feels more “warm”. You know what I mean?

My favorite breakfast – besides American pancakes, of course!

Spring fever…ish

I thought I had posted this last night but I guess I was too tired from work. Found it under “recent drafts” just now. So this is “yesterday’s jam”, as Roy from the IT Crowd would say.

The days are getting longer, and most of all: lighter! It’s not until you see the sun again after a very long winter that you realize how much you’ve missed it. I know I did.

When I left the house this morning there was still ice on the ground …
… I was greeted by the moon and a pastel sky so pretty it even made our neighborhood seem beautiful.
The sun came out during the day …
… and suddenly, spring seemed like a possibility.

Nothing against these “guerrilla art cherry blossoms” – but I can’t wait for the real deal.

Food from a bird’s eye view

Today my bloglovin-feed made me smile:

I sense a trend here – VERY SUBTLE but if you look closely, you’ll see what I mean!

Ko-inky-dink – or do we all read the same blogs? Either way, think of this as my attempt to pay homage to Sandra/Niotillfem and UnderbaraClara while contributing something new:

Can you guess what I had for breakfast???

Have a great Saturday everyone!

Recipe – Fancy yoga cake

Yes, another recipe from the Yogamat book. I actually didn’t deviate from the recipe here except for the decoration.

For one fancy yoga cake (ca. 12 slices):

  • 5 dl (ca. 2 cups) almonds, soak them in water for about 4 hours first
  • 5 dl (ca. 2 cups) dried dates, also: soak them in water for about 4 hours first
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 ts vanilla powder
  • 5 dl (ca. 2 cups) cashew nuts, also soaked for about 4 hours
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 ts ground cardamom
  • 1 dl (ca. 1/2 cup) agave syrup
  • 4 tbs coconut oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 5 dl (ca. 2 cups) raspberries
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • fresh berries and fruit as decoration – I used sea buckthorn and Physalis, and some Flower Power, an organic spice and herb mix

Line the bottom of a spring form pan with baking parchment. Mix almonds, dates (without the seeds, obvs), cocoa and the vanilla until the texture is grainy. This will be the bottom layer of the cake, so spread onto the spring form pan.

Mix cashew nuts, bananas, cardamom, agave syrup, coconut oil, lemon juice, raspberries and salt into a smooth mass.

Pour this mass onto the bottom. Put the cake in the freezer for at least four hours. This cake can easily be prepared the day before serving it. Just remember to take it out again a few hours before eating it.

Add you berries and fruit for decoration.

Note to self: next time remove the cake ring right after taking the cake out of the freezer …

Other yoga food recipes (or variations thereof) I’ve posted:

 

Which is your dominant dosha?

Here comes some of that “basic Ayurveda stuff” I have been meaning to write about. I have been using terms such as “Pitta”, “dosha” and “dominant dosha” without actually explaining them. Maybe you’ve looked them up yourself, maybe you just overread them.

The ten pairs of gunas

Ayurveda is much about qualities (gunas) of things, more precisely: keeping the balance of pairs of qualities. The Charaka Samhita, tells of twenty different qualities, or ten pairs of qualities (a pair consisting of two opposite qualities):

  1. heavy – light
  2. cold – warm
  3. oily – dry
  4. dull – sharp
  5. static – mobile
  6. soft – hard
  7. cloudy – clear
  8. smooth – rough
  9. dense – porous
  10. solid – liquid

Two basic rules

These qualities are used to describe especially food but also the different doshas, our environment, etc. When it comes to the relationship of the pairs, Ayurveda knows two basic rules:

  1. Like increases like.
  2. Opposites balance each other.

It is important to remember that everything is relative here: “hot” can be “cold” when compared to something even hotter, etc. Also: like is often drawn to like. This is the part where listening to your intuition gets a little tricky. For example, sometimes your body seems to be craving exactly what it actually has too much of.

Space, Air, Fire, Water, Earth – the five elements

These qualities can also be found in the five elements, that everything in the world consists of – according to Ayurveda:

  1. Space  – cloudiness
  2. Air – lightness, mobility, dryness
  3. Fire – warmth, lightness, sharpness, liquidity
  4. Water – cold, liquidity, softness, smoothness
  5. Earth – heaviness, density, stability

Vata, Pitta & Kapha – the three doshas

These five elements in turn make up the three vital energies (doshas) that are the foundation for all physical and mental processes in body and soul:

  1. Vata – consisting of air and space, air being the dominant element
  2. Pitta – consisting of fire and water, fire being dominant
  3. Kapha – consisting of water and earth, water being dominant

Click on the excerpts to get to the source and read a little more about each dosha:

“Vata is the principle of mobility that regulates all activity in the body. It is this energy that governs the movement of everything from our own thoughts to the food in our intestines. Vata is responsible for creativity, speech, inspiration, excitement, adventure, happiness and joy.”

“Pitta is the principle of combustion and integration. Pitta is responsible for the absorption and assimilation of foods, thoughts, experiences and emotions, and is signified by order, logic, and reason.”

“Kapha is the principal of structure and density. It is responsible for lubrication of joints, tissues and cells. Kapha is also the dosha of devotion, beauty, endurance, and peace.”

Do you recognize yourself in any of this? Maybe in more than one dosha? That’s what I like about Ayurveda: although it may at first seem like this is about filing people away into one of three neat little drawers – the system is actually quite complex, and helpful and easy to apply to yourself all at once.

Your dosha constitution – your finger print

According to this, yes, we all are a combination of only these three doshas. Yet, there are many possible combinations: some have one very clearly dominant dosha, others two (with one being dominant over the second), very few are evenly balanced. Yet, even individuals who have the same dominant dosha (combination) can be very different, for each dosha has many qualities, and we all express different aspects of each dosha, so it’s kind of like with finger prints: we all have them, yet no two people’s finger prints are the same.

Obviously, there is a lot more to learn about this than I can convey in a single blog entry. This is really more to give you an overview of what I find fascinating. If you’re hooked: Once again, I recommend Judith H. Morrison’s The Book of Ayurveda. Also, for the Swedes among you: Skapa din hälsa med Ayurveda by Maivor Stigengreen (available in German as Ayurveda: Die eigene Gesundheit stärken).

So what is the point of knowing your dosha(s)?
To put it simply knowing your nature is what it takes for you to be able to live according to that nature. Maybe you are so in tune with your intuition that you already do – then you don’t need any of this. This is just the irony: Ayurveda is actually a tool for following your intuition – which only those of us need who have forgotten/”over-written” our ability to do just that. My guess is that there are many more like me who have been taught, and allowed others to teach them to obey somebody else’s rules rather than the signs their own body gives them. How many of us weren’t taught that everybody in the family eats at the same time, the same food? But what if we have different needs? The idea to make everyone equal is not a bad one. However, we are not all the same, so what’s really important isn’t “the same for everyone” but creating the same opportunity for everyone to meet their individual needs.

Living in tune with your nature according to Ayurveda does not mean balancing out all three doshas so that you have exactly the same amount of each in you. Maintaining a balance means taking into account your personal dosha constitution and living according to it. This is nothing stable – your constituiton can change, and is dependent on factors such as environment, age, your particular situation in life (work environment, relationships, etc.). Everything is connected. Also, since like increases like, and like is often drawn to like, you will most likely develop imbalances in your dominant dosha(s).

Who are you?

Maybe you are curious now as to what your dominant dosha(s) might be, and whether you have any imbalances. Or maybe you just enjoy these kind of “personality tests”. Either way, here is a link to an online test. If you want to figure out whether you have any imbalances: take the test twice. Once answer according to your current situation, the second time answer according to what you would consider your normal state. The areas where you get different scores show you where your imbalance lies.

PS: This is a scheduled post by the way, like most everything today, Friday and Saturday will be. Contrary to what it may seem like, I am not a only a homemaker, I do have another job, one that society deems worthy of recognizing as such (= I get paid for that one). I have a weird schedule where I sometimes have long periods where I am off work, followed by days where I do nothing but work and sleep. So that’s that.