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.
Nothing against these „guerrilla art cherry blossoms“ – but I can’t wait for the real deal.
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.
Other yoga food recipes (or variations thereof) I’ve posted:
- Ginger elixir
- Banana blueberry hazelnut muffins
I love that it’s light outside when I get off work these days. Today we even got one of those beautiful sunsets. Try and put a price tag on that!
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):
- heavy – light
- cold – warm
- oily – dry
- dull – sharp
- static – mobile
- soft – hard
- cloudy – clear
- smooth – rough
- dense – porous
- 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:
- Like increases like.
- 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:
- Space – cloudiness
- Air – lightness, mobility, dryness
- Fire – warmth, lightness, sharpness, liquidity
- Water – cold, liquidity, softness, smoothness
- 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:
- Vata – consisting of air and space, air being the dominant element
- Pitta – consisting of fire and water, fire being dominant
- 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.“
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.
The sun has been out again today, giving me perfect light for pix of the necklace I made Sunday night. Even used a soldering iron in the process – for the first time!? Just like with the first two pieces, I am very happy with the result, although this time I am not sure I would wear it myself. Neon yellow isn’t really my color but for some reason this is what the necklace just had to look like.
Part of me wants to just continue with an entry about my spring cleaning mission, post a picture about how great everything looks. That wouldn’t even be untrue, since it does look a lot better in comparison. Looks can be deceiving, if anyone knows, then it’s bloggers and readers of blogs, right?
It is easy, and thus tempting to make yourself look good on the web. It’s not even like you’re really lying about who you are: you’re not making up the great things you do, you just kind of leave out the things that you’re not so proud of. In a way it’s even wise because why should you make yourself vulnerable when you don’t even know whom you’re „talking“ to?
I have felt hurt and/or humiliated many times because I just couldn’t keep quiet about something that didn’t technically need to be said. It was only I who felt like I had to let these things out of my head (or was it my heart?). Like telling someone straight out I liked them when I didn’t know whether they did – the humiliating part being that they didn’t, and that after I had said it it became clear to me that all the signs actually had pointed into that direction the whole time.
Or writing a letter to my dad, telling him how things he did made me feel, which led to the most horrible fight. I had not seen that coming, which today seems naive. I was fourteen then, so it made sense. I could go on with examples but you get the picture, right? For the longest time I thought that I needed to learn not to do that. Not to reveal so much of how I feel, and how/who I am.
I know now that I had drawn the wrong conclusion from these experiences. The lesson here isn’t not to show yourself. It’s not about not making yourself vulnerable. It is about realizing that no matter how much our ego gets hurt, our true selves cannot be destroyed. In fact, the only chance we have of truly being recognized is by showing ourselves, rather than hide behind a façade of how we think others want us to be.
I cannot claim that I have been very good at this myself. Enough though, to know that I am right. I remember one incident in the very beginning of a relationship. He texted me, asking if and when I wanted to meet up again. I answered „As soon as possible“. A friend who was with me wanted to know what I had answered. When I told her she completely freaked out, and said that you CANNOT write such a thing, that it sounded desperate, that he now must think that I wanted to get married … ??? Needless to say that this line of commenting made me feel stupid, and it made me doubt myself. At the same time I was irritated – because this is exactly the kind of thing I am not interested in: having to follow a bunch of rules, pretending you don’t want something in order to get it. Some part of me felt that if he’s going to read me the way she did, then he wouldn’t be right for me anyway. We have been together (and happy!) for five years now.
I have spent a lot of time in my life trying to figure out how the people around me expect me to be. A lot of decisions I have made about my own life were based on that. Like I wrote in the about section of this blog, I have felt the longing to finally be me, to show myself, and to take the risk both of being rejected for that but also of being liked for who I truly am. Both seem scary in their own way but I know that either way, the only significant impact approval or rejection can have is on my ego. None of it changes who I really am.
So here are some truths from the past few days that I don’t have to share here with you but that I want to because I do think they pertain to the purpose of this blog. After all, what kind of soul-searcher would I be if I saw the potential for growth in success but not in failure (if it’s even useful to think in those terms):
- After having read so much about Ayurveda and the significance of eating right, I came home from a three hour yoga class on Saturday and stuffed my face with an entire pizza AND half a chocolate bar (the first half I had eaten on the way home from class). Our yoga teacher had told us about Durga that day, the Hindu Godess that, if I understood this correctly, represents the force in our life that gives us a good punch in the face when our ego gets bloated, to remind us that we are not better than the rest but part of it. So I choose to look at this pizza incident as an act of Durga. It was called for because:
- Writing this blog and getting so much (well, that’s relative, I really don’t have a frame of reference here) positive feedback does make my ego feel flattered. Like, a lot.
- I obsessively check the stats for this blog like 19,364,920 times a day.
- I spent more time fighting with my better half over how to re-organize the kitchen than cleaning and reorganizing it.
- I haven’t tried out a single no poo method on my hair yet although it seems so easy. I just love the smell of the poo I have right now.
May we all feel free to be ourselves a little more each day.
This is what it looks like where I take walks.
… in life are „yes“, „no“, and „wow“.
Credit where credit is due: It was my yoga teacher who said this in class yesterday (and she in turn got this from a teacher of hers). Some of us should probably say „no“ more often, others „yes“. But I am sure that we could all use „wow“ a lot more.
Wishing you a wow Sunday.
My infatuation with Ayurveda still feels new, it’s only been a few weeks. That’s why it’s so amazing to me that it already has made such a huge impact on my life. The biggest change Ayurveda has led me to – perhaps like a lot of significant changes – is concerning something seemingly banal: my sleeping rhythm.
I already knew about myself that I really am a morning person. I have always loved the early hours, rising with the rest of nature. Most of all I have the best energy to get things done in the morning. Already in the early afternoon I feel like I can’t work/be productive anymore. After 4pm I really want to be done. The evening hours are definitely not mine, I get like a little kid: way too tired but still throwing because some part of me doesn’t want to go to bed. It’s a What?!-Surely-this-can’t-be-everything-something -more-needs-to-happen kind of mood. Do you know what I mean?
Yet when I had no external reason that forces me to get up early, I simply could not bring myself to do it. I have tried many times, and failed. I was trapped in that vicious circle of not being able to go to bed early, then for fear of lack of sleep not being able to get up early, either (or maybe it’s the other way around, you know, the hen and the chicken).
For some reason not getting enough sleep (enough being about 8 hours for me) bothered me a lot. I used to make myself even more anxious by checking out the clock, and thinking „I still have seven hours left – if I fall asleep RIGHT NOW“. I realized that that never helps (yup, I am that smart!). There is just something I resent about this tired state that you walk around in the day after, which makes it really hard to function even when you have to. Thus, whenever I could let myself sleep in, I did.
Thanks to these amazing Ayurveda books (man, am I sounding like a salesperson on a teleshopping channel or what?), I came to understand why my way of trying to compensate for lack of sleep did not work. Also, I’ve come to understand that being tired is not so much connected to actual lack of sleep but depends on what time of day you get up. After about two weeks, I now get up between 5 am and 6 am – without even setting an alarm. I try to make a point of going to bed between 9 pm and 10 pm, which works for the most part (and when it doesn’t turn out that way, it is now more often than not a deliberate choice because I choose to meet up with friends or something). The more important point: I am now able to fall asleep within minutes of going to bed, which has NEVER been normal for me. Even as a kid I often was the last person laying awake in their bed.
Before I go into what the Ayurveda take on sleep is, I just want to say that if you are not familiar with Ayurveda, then a few of the terms will probably be confusing. I am aware of that, and I do want to write more about the basic stuff – but I just felt like writing about this today, so I am just going be so bold as to refer you to „the internet“. I assume that that’s what you all do anyway – look up stuff you don’t know. Although it would obviously be much neater if I wrote everything in „the right order“, one post building on the next, it would not be very authentic (I know there is a better word, but I can’t come up with it right now). I don’t know about you but I am not really used to this concept yet, so I need to remind myself of this: You don’t need me to explain the world to you, and I do not need to sacrifice the impulse to write about anything to formal or stylistic rules. This linear way of expressing things/ourselves is no longer necessary today. We are free. To make the reading not completely aggravating, I will probably insert a few short explanation here and there anyway, but I will not go into too much detail. You would probably have found it yourself but here’s a link to an Ayurveda 101.
So what is the Ayurvedic take on sleep?
There are very few universal Ayurvedic recommendations, since we are not all the same in most regards. We do have different needs when it comes to how much sleep are good for us (ranging from six to eight hours, give or take), also depending on the season, where we are in our lives, etc. One thing that does apply to everyone, however, is that we are all part of nature, who „awakens“ in the morning, and that lays down to rest in the evening. So should we.
Ayurveda knows five elements (space, air, fire, water, earth) and three natural forces or energy forms (doshas) which reflect the energies of the five elements in different ways: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. This relates to sleep not only in so far as these doshas describe our own constitutions (which in turn determines how much sleep we need). The doshas are also linked to different phases of the day.
Each of the three doshas is dominant during two periods in a day:
6 am to 10 am – Morning’s Kapha period
10 am to 2 pm – Mid-day Pitta period
2 pm to 6 pm – Afternoon’s Vata period
6 pm to 10 pm – Evening’s Kapha period
10 pm to 2 am – Nighttime’s Pitta period
2 am to 6 am – Morning’s Vata period
Have you ever noticed that you woke up early in the morning – but then decided, „Nah, it’s too early!“, went back to sleep – and woke up hours later, even more tired?
That’s happened to me many times. The explanation, according to Ayurveda, is, that if you sleep through the Kapha period (Kapha having qualities like „heavy“, „stable“, „earthy“, etc.), that dosha rises in your own constitution – meaning, that you feel „heavier“ = it gets harder to wake up. This excess Kapha then influences you throughout the day. (Of course a lot of other factors play in, like always. The extend of the effects are different depending on your dominant dosha(s) in the particular situation.)
Ideally one should get up in the beginning of the morning’s Kapha period. And, looky there: the second Kapha period is between 6 pm and 10 pm, which is when nature prepares to „call it a day“. Here we should take advantage of the Kapha qualities, and do the same: finish up and unwind, so that we can go to bed, and ideally go to sleep by the end of that period.
Because the period that follows is dominated by the firy Pitta-dosha. When I read this it suddenly made sense to me how I could be tired, yet feel like I didn’t want to go to bed: I had pushed past Kapha period, and my Pitta dosha was rising again (Pitta also happens to be my dominant dosha, thus re-enforcing the effect).
So how do you break the cycle? And how do you compensate for lack of sleep?
The first rule seems to be: Whatever changes you are going to make, make them gradually. I somehow missed that part, so I went straight from sleeping until 12pm to getting up at 6 am. I had a burning stomach after every meal for over a week (still do, sometimes), and if I am connecting the dots correctly, that is the result of the sudden shift in my doshas. Before, when I slept long hours and through the morning Kapha and half of the morning Pitta period, Kapha naturally was more dominant in me. I really did have less energy then, despite getting so much sleep, as I thought. After the switch in my waking hours, my Pitta energy basically went through the roof, and all the spicy things I usually ate, that were before ok with my Kapha dominance, suddenly were too much. Sounds complicated, I know, and in a way it is, when you believe that everything is connected, which is what Ayurveda is all about. But it makes sense. Therefore:
Don’t quit any behavior „cold turkey“.
Get up 15 to 30 minutes earlier every day, and go to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier every day – until you’ve got your ideal rhythm.
If you do get too little sleep, still get up at your usual time, and no later than 8 am. Don’t try to make up for it by letting yourself sleep in (the reasons have hopefully become apparent by now). Instead make sure that you do go to bed earlier the next day, and try to go easy on yourself during the day. I suppose for some it’s ok to take naps in the afternoon, I just know that that doesn’t work for me at all. But again, Ayurveda is all about being your own expert, so you really know what works best for you.
Well, this has turned into another long post with no pictures. I am sharing this anyway, hoping that you find this information as helpful as I did. I wish you the best for whatever changes you are making or hoping to make in your life. Remember to be kind to yourself, and forgiving if you find yourself not able to make certain changes.
A few weeks ago I suddenly felt that I wanted to know more about Ayurveda. I only had a vague idea that it was an ancient Eastern healing tradition. I wanted to find out what it was really about, hoping that it might be helpful in this quest for deliberate living. I borrowed some books from the library, and the very first one was an easy to read and inspiring overview. It was a Swedish book, „Skapa din hälsa med Ayurveda“ (meaning: Create your health with Ayurveda) by Maivor Stigengreen (it has been translated into German – „Ayurveda – Die eigene Gesundheit stärken“).
Maybe you already know all about Ayurveda (chances are you do, after all, it’s nothing new). In case you don’t, just a few words:
„Ayu“ means „life“ and „Veda“ means „knowledge“ – so, Ayurveda = Knowledge of Life.
The Charaka Samhita (one of the oldest, most well-known texts on Ayurveda, dating back to ca. 1000 – 600 BC) defines this Knowledge/Science of Life as follows:
„The science which describes advantageous and disadvantageous, as well as happy and unhappy states of life, along with what is good and bad for life, its measurement and life itself is called Ayurveda.“
„Hita hitam sukham dukhamayustasya hita hitam
manam ca tacca yatroktamayurvedar ca ucayate“
Sounds like a useful science to me. What intrigued me about Ayurveda was that it is about becoming your own expert. Sure, you need to learn and you need guidance, especially in the beginning. But from what I’ve gathered so far Ayurveda acknowledges the individual, and is not about having a single set of guidelines for everyone. So it makes sense that no one can be more competent on concerning your life and your happiness than you yourself.
Back to the issue of change: according to Maivor Stigengreen, Ayurveda describes all change as a process consisting of four steps:
- Leaving the old behind,
- Thus creating a gap,
- Allowing for change to happen within this gap,
- Bringing about the new.
I have clearly been in a gap for a while now – but until I read this, and understood that there is nothing wrong with this state, I wasn’t very good at accepting this. For as long as I can think, I have been afraid that if I/ things don’t change right away, I/they never will. It had never occurred to me, that a transitional state is necessary for change to be happen. Then again, when I look back at my life so far, I have often been worried that things that I wanted to change might not – but they did. Despite of me and my worries.
How about you? Does this sound familiar? Do you recognize this four-step process in your life? How do you feel about that gap?