ayurveda, blissful living, healthy living, stress reduction

Creating Inner Peace, Ojas-Style

This is the last of four blog posts about ojas, the Ayurvedic term for your immune system (read last week’s post HERE. Let’s take a look at practices that foster inner peace.

Silence and Self-Reflection

We can get so critical of ourselves if we feel we aren’t achieving enough or being grateful for who we are. This is something I do a lot. Instead of criticizing yourself for not living up to your own expectations, remember to reflect and go into peaceful silence.

Something as simple as relaxation actually replenishes the ojas. Take a little time for yourself during the day to find silence. That rest can help you maintain vital inner and outer beauty. It doesn’t have to take a long time; two to five minutes is plenty. Sit in silence (with your eyes closed if you can) and strengthen your ability to engage in self-reflection. You can do it in the car, radio off, or if you’re in the bathroom do a slow, deep breathing practice for a minute or two.

Appreciating yourself helps cultivate a more positive mental state, which allows you to build ojas in a naturally graceful way. Even if there are people in your life you’d rather kill, be grateful because they’re here to teach you something!

When you’re grateful for those experiences instead of being critical or beating yourself up, you’ll feel happier, for one, and that feeds the ojas, which gives a lasting sense of contentment. Whenever you’re in a grateful state you step away from the opposite.

Gratitude tends to magnetize more contentment into your life, and when you’re content that’s a phenomenal way to naturally build up ojas.

A Peaceful Pose

Unknown-2Peaceful poses reinforce healthy ojas. If you practice one peaceful yoga pose a day before you go to bed, in class during the day or during your morning ritual, you’ll build your ojas.

I like to do child’s pose – anyone familiar with yoga knows child’s pose. The more relaxed you get, the deeper you sink into the yoga mat – it feels wonderful. Another great pose is shavasana, when you lie prone for several minutes. The longer you do it the more relaxed you get. It also just feels great.

Evening Calm Down Routine

This a wind-down ritual that helps you sleep very well at night. Fill the bath with warm water and add one to three cups of Epsom salts. You can find versions made with lavender, milk and honey or eucalyptus. I recommend the lavender, and then add a tablespoon of honey, two cups of whole milk and a few drops of lavender essential oil under the running water.

You can also add other essential oils depending on what your dosha is: for vata dosha, use rose or geranium; for pitta dosha, use frankincense and for kapha, use juniper. Light a candle and sit in the bath for 20 minutes. Optionally, you could light an incense stick if you want.

I guarantee if you do this evening calm down ritual, you will sleep phenomenally well, whether you’ve just been to the gym or had a stressful day. Not only will you sleep really well, you’ll be building ojas and will smell super yummy!

What healthy rituals do you do to decompress? Share your practices in the comments below.

Wishing you peace to your mind, wellness to your body and tranquility to your spirit.

Namaste,

Rochel Marie Lawson, RN, AHP, CMS

The Queen of Feeling Fabulous and The Wellness Architect

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ayurveda, blissful living, healthy living

Ojas – Stoking Your Digestive Fire

In this third of four blogs about our ojas (read the previous blog post HERE), I’m going to focus on a vital component of building a strong digestive fire: how and what we eat. Let’s go!

Food, Glorious Food

Unknown-1A conscious, mindful eating practice and healthy digestion helps us build our ojas. Be very selective about what you put into your bodies to keep strong during cold and flu season.

Although there are now ‘healthier’ options available at restaurants like McDonald’s or Jack in the Box, do your best to avoid food grabbed on the fly, especially fast food. Get the highest quality, organic, non-GMO food you can afford.

Become One with Your Meal

Don’t wolf it down! These days, people often don’t connect with their food. Taking the time to be mindful sets you up to receive the food properly and actually stokes the digestive fire.

Take a few minutes to be thankful for your food. As you eat your yummy meal, the digestive fire gets hotter, allowing food to be metabolized in an appropriate way. Then you won’t have pieces of undigested food sitting in your body creating ama (toxins) that then get pushed through the digestive tract.

What’s the benefit? Keeping the body in balance blocks illness from coming in. Illness only happens when we’re in an imbalanced state or not taking in proper nutrition. Healthy food is your prime energy source.

Some especially healthy foods include organic milk, almonds, sesame, honey, rice, pineapple, mango, kale and spinach. It’s not necessary to eat these foods exclusively but incorporating more of them into your diet increases the quality of your nutrition.

Good Fat

Cooking with clarified butter, known as ghee, builds ojas. You’ll get the yummy taste of butter without the unhealthy fats. Omega 3s, mono- and poly-unsaturated fats are great sources of healthy fat, and remember to use coconut oil for cooking. Olive, almond, chia and flaxseed are also excellent oils to not only build ojas, but they’re great for heart health as well. Women with a higher intake of healthy fat have firmer, smoother skin!

A Magical Recipe

Stay away from white or any processed sugars. They promote inflammation, which can lead to a whole host of diseases, and will decrease your ojas. Use stevia or agave instead, or add mango or coconut to your plate so you can have a sweet without adding something bad to your diet.

When I talk about sweets, know that I really had to work on it because I’m a sugar addict! Rice pudding contains the good fats I talked about and gives you the sweetness you want. Gather these ingredients:

  • ½ cup basmati rice
  • 4 cups organic milk (I prefer almond or coconut milk because I’m lactose intolerant)
  • 4-6 cardamom seeds – bruise them a little to allow the essential spice to come out
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1/8th to ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon powder)
  • 2–4 TBS honey or organic agave syrup
  • 1 handful of pistachios or almonds. Almonds are good for all doshas.

Rinse off the raw rice. In a heavy-bottomed pan, add the rice, milk, cardamom and cinnamon and bring to a boil over low heat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure it doesn’t burn. Check the texture and cook until the mixture is slightly thick but easy to stir. Remove the cinnamon stick and the cardamom pods (unless you used the powders). Stir in the agave or honey and let it cool. Toss in the nuts. I also like to add raisins or goji berries.

When I was pregnant with my daughter this was the only thing I could eat in the morning that didn’t cause morning sickness and was very nurturing to both of us. Funny that now my daughter doesn’t like rice pudding!

Do you have a favorite healthy go-to snack that’s healthy and satisfying? Share in the comments below how you build healthy ojas!

Wishing you peace to your mind, wellness to your body and tranquility to your spirit.

Namaste,

Rochel Marie Lawson, RN, AHP, CMS

The Queen of Feeling Fabulous and The Wellness Architect

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ayurveda, health and wellness, healthy living

How to Strengthen Your Ojas

In a previous blog post, I defined ojas, agni and ama, the three building blocks that contribute to a healthy immune system (read it HERE). Now let’s jump in and talk about specific steps you can take to strengthen your ojas!

Worry – A Great Way to Ruin Your Day

It happens to all of us. First thing in the morning, we might find ourselves worrying about our day, compulsively checking email or Facebook or thinking about problems. This habit sets us up to not have a good day. A worried, depressed state also disrupts our ojas, particularly if it becomes a chronic habit.

Rather than hit the ground running, create a slower-paced morning ritual that allows you to connect to the part of your body and mind that’s happy to be alive. Make a choice to consider the beauty of what the day has to offer without worrying about everything else around you.

The Morning Ritual

This is what I do on a daily basis when I’m not traveling. To set the tone to handle daily life, I wake up in bed and take a couple of slow, deep breaths. I give thanks for the day and slowly get up. In the bathroom, I wash my face and go through my elimination process.

I recommend using healthy oils on your skin. Use an oil like sesame prior to getting in the shower, then reapply after you get out. It nourishes the skin and helps curtail dryness. Sesame oil is a little bit heavier and nurtures all the body tissues. Lighter oils that I suggest are almond or sunflower. For fall and winter, make coconut oil your last choice if you can’t find the others. It works just as well, but tends to have a cooling effect on the skin so it’s best suited for the warm weather months.

images-1Tea and Meditation

Once I’m up, showered and dressed, I light a candle and maybe some incense. I sit down and meditate for a few minutes and finish the ritual with a cup of tea. Somehow a lovely, steaming cup of tea anchors me to go forth confidently through my day.

Try it yourself for a week and see if you notice how the tone you set in the morning lasts throughout the day to maintain that calm.

How do you usually start your day and is it setting the tone you really want? Let me know in the comments!

Wishing you peace to your mind, wellness to your body and tranquility to your spirit.

Namaste,

Rochel Marie Lawson, RN, AHP, CMS

The Queen of Feeling Fabulous and The Wellness Architect

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