The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary is not only a center for pregnancy and birthing, it is an integrative health center offering effective and conscious health care for women and young families. Visit www.BirthSanctuary.com to see all of its offerings, including midwifery and pregnancy services, naturopathy, massage, yoga, health & wellness classes, hypnotherapy, an eco-boutique and now Ayurveda. Cultivating lasting health and happy families.

(310)566-7690. Located at 11965 Venice Blvd #204, Los Angeles, CA 90066.

Herbs for digestion

Healthy appetite (not too much, not too little) and good digestion are paramount in maintaining optimal health. Maintaining optimal health right now not only makes your day-to-day life more pleasant, but it also prepares the body for a healthier future. Prevention is the best medicine. We know this but it’s so easy to put it off until “tomorrow.” Instead of overturning your whole life, start with a few easy tools and add to them when you’re able.

CARDAMOM
This is a spice that should be in every kitchen. It’s an ideal spice because it cultivates stronger digestion while not overheating Pitta or agni (fire of digestion). Stronger digestion means you will better utilize all the good foods you take in, and you will better process those less-ideal foods or other toxins that accumulate in the body. Stronger digestion = better health, period. This spice can be used in or on anything. Add it to the oil in your pan before you add food, but be careful not to burn the oil and spice. This will offset the benefits. Add it to oil in your salads or into any dish you like, even your teas and coffee. Use the spice regularly for full effect, it’s not intended to change your body overnight, just add it to your cupboard and commit to using it regularly.

FENNEL
This is another great spice for ease of digestion. It’s especially good for bloating or discomfort after meals. You can take this in a few different ways. If you know you have bloating or intestinal discomfort after meals, sip on 4-6 ounces of fennel tea just prior to or immediately after your meals, especially breakfast and dinner. You can buy fennel tea and make it more potent by using 2 tea bags, or you can make your own by buying fennel seed powder at your health food store and add a 1/2 tsp to 6 ounces of boiling water. Frontier and Banyan Botanicals are great brands, but whatever you get, buy organic spices; it’s essential to have high quality spices if you want the full effect for your body. You can also buy fresh fennel, dice it and add it to boiling water. Lastly, for the most potent effect, buy fennel seeds and simply chew on one tsp of fennel seeds just after your meals. If it’s too potent, you can mix a pinch of turbinado sugar. You can toss the shells of the seeds after you’ve chewed on them. For bloating and post-meal discomfort, fennel is your friend. Fennel is also great for nausea.

GINGER
Most people have heard lots of good stuff about ginger. It’s true that it increased digestion, so it’s great for those who have minimal appetite. But be careful if you have a “hot” constitution or “fiery” digestion. For those who need a little stimulus to eat and enjoy food, and/or need to lose a little weight that just won’t go away regardless of how few calories you’re consuming, try taking 4-6 ounces of ginger tea or just chew on a piece of fresh ginger just prior to meals. It will stimulate your appetite, but better yet, it will stimulate your digestion. Thus, you will better assimilate the good foods you take in, and you will better detoxify and eliminate the toxins (ama) you may be carrying. Again, if you have or are prone to any type of ulcers, avoid the ginger.

For additional questions pertaining to unique health concerns, email wendy@firstlightayurveda.com or call for an Ayurveda consultation at The Sanctuary (310)566-7690

Photo from Flickr.

True Health

The definition of health by western medicine is “the absence of disease”. Great. Truly. But does this mean that everyone without active disease is feeling good, that their days are enjoyable because their bodies are functioning well as they sleep, wake, eat, digest, eliminate, think, communicate, love, work and play?

The Ayurvedic definition of health… He whose doshas (fundamental elements of constitution) are in balance, whose appetite is good, whose dhatus (tissues) are functioning normally, whose malas (waste products) are in balance, and whose mind and senses remain in full bliss, is called a healthy person. ~ Sushrut

Ayurveda understands there are 6 stages of disease and has means to assess them all. Symptoms we may feel in our bodies don’t occur until stage 4 or 5. Ayurveda offers natural medicine to heal the body, whether symptoms are in place or not. As we learn more about our unique constitutions and our particular imbalances, we are further able to prevent uncomfortable symptoms, and often, future disease. The Ayurvedic definition of health accounts not only for absence of disease but also for optimally functioning systems within the body, thus giving greater ease in the daily life and opening doors to greater enjoyment of life.

Meditation Instruction

Meditation is most effective after proper instruction, so the practice is easy and flows naturally. Please join us at The Sanctuary for individualized and group instruction. The practice will last a lifetime and is a precious gift. I am honored to be of service as instructor of this transcendental Natural Meditation.

Mondays and Tuesdays at 11965 Venice Blvd #204, Los Angeles, CA 90066.
Call or email to schedule: (310)566-7690 wendy@firstlightayurveda.com

Herbs as medicine

Traditional medicine, holistic medicine, has thousands of years of proof that nature contains powerful resources to heal. We know that maintaining health can be done with proper sleep, food, exercise, daily routines and the people we choose to include in our lives. Through choice or chance, every person goes through challenging times, which affect the physiology and/or the mind and emotions. Herbal remedies, chosen properly, are paramount in swiftly returning the body and mind to its harmonious state of balance. The key is to know the proper balancing agents and how to utilize them appropriately. When used appropriately for the root cause of the problems, not for general symptoms, herbs are potent medicines that restore true health. Symptoms will vanish as a result, and better yet, other areas of health will be enhanced… Digestion will improve, thus improving your ability to assimilate the good foods you take in; sleep will improve, improving your strength, stamina, and immune system; elimination will balance, releasing toxins in your body and keeping your ojas (healthy essence) within you.

Ayurveda recognizes the power of herbs as medicine. Herbs are not intended for long term use, they are intended for specific healing, after which general guidelines are implemented for maintenance of health and enhancement of life. It’s wonderful that our culture so desires greater health that we can now walk into a grocery store and ask for natural remedies. “What do I take for insomnia? What remedy do you have for sinus congestion? What should I take to relieve my stomach aches?” Certainly there are occasions when one health food store recommendation is the answer to your problem. However, more often, it takes numerous attempts with different products to achieve results, and then you’ve taken lots of things that your body must flush out. Furthermore, Ayurveda understand that there are inherent problems with this way of treating your ailments. First and foremost, treating the symptom itself is rarely the way to resolve the actual problem. And sometimes the actual problem is made worse, giving rise to additional symptoms or side effects. There are often many different reasons why one common symptom exists. Learning the root cause of the symptom is essential, so that the actual imbalance can be corrected, which in turn will resolve the symptom. Better yet, the body will be stronger and better able to grow even healthier and stronger.

Another setback of the common herbal quick-fixes is that most often, one or two single herbs will not be as effective as a perfect blend of herbs. Ayurvedic remedies are individualized to meet the needs of unique imbalances, using one or two primary herbs (Emperors) with additional herbs to enhance assimilation and balance other aspects of the body. Ashwaganda may be strengthening, but it’s also heating and could have malefic effects certain people. Hing helps certain individuals tremendously with digestion, but would cause pain or bloating for others. Shitavari is wonderful for the reproductive system, but not if there’s already much cold or stagnant ama. These herbs may still be taken as medicine, but only when aided by other herbs to balance the heat or the cold or the unctuous nature.

Lastly, taking more supplements/vitamins/herbs than you truly need is not good practice. Anything you take in which you do not need is considered ama (toxins for your body which you must work to eliminate or store and then feel sluggish or foggy from).

Every individual has unique needs to strengthen, purify, and balance. And each individual will have different needs at different times, depending on time of life and circumstances in the life. As you get a taste of what is right for you, you begin to crave (and trust) the most appropriate substances to take in…regardless of what society is currently endorsing as the #1 cure-all.

For optimal health, take your body and mind into your own hands. Seek guidance from a trusted practitioner. We all need teachers and guides to help us, so utilize your resources to get you to an ideal state of health and happiness. Then you will be able to guide others, in whatever gifts you are here to offer. It’s a beautiful circle we have.