Tips to reduce Ama

If you’re feeling the “weight” of the winter, it may be time to do a little gentle cleansing in preparation for the coming months of sun. Gentle cleansing is recommended over a quick “down & dirty” cleanse, unless you are under the care of a practitioner and take the appropriate measures to ensure the proper outcome. Otherwise, doing a quick and intense cleanse can be stressful on the body, causing the body to actually hold on to the weight and toxins more…quite counter-productive. Here are some guidelines for gentle yet effective cleansing, which won’t leave you starving or stressed.

1. First thing in the morning, make a Spice Water and keep in a thermos, sipping from it every half hour(just a few sips at a time will do). Per quart of boiling water, use a tea infuser with 1 tsp Fennel, 1/2 tsp Cumin and a 1/4 tsp Coriander. Always boil water on the stove (not microwave) and make this tea fresh daily. Carry the thermos with you all day, sip from it hot or warm, don’t keep it cold. This will strengthen agni (digestion) and facilitate digestion and elimination of toxins. Plan on taking the spice water for several weeks or even a few months, as it will continue to gently remove toxins which accumulate throughout every day.

2. Eat till about 75% full, and have a regular routine for your meals. The body will always assimilate and eliminate best when it has a routine.

3. Favor warm foods over cold foods. (so no, do not eat all raw or all salads…just eat a lighter but mostly warm diet)

4. Reduce the amount of meat in your diet (it’s hardest to digest and most ama-full). Do not remove altogether if you typically eat meat, just reduce the amount you take. Favor fish and fowl over other meats.

5. Reduce dairy, especially hard cheeses and some yogurt. These are heavier to digest. Fresh cheeses (cottage cheese, ricotta and fresh mozzerella are better). Take 2% milk, and always buy organic dairy products. Milk is best assimilated with cardamom and cinnamon, preferably heated on stove with these spices.

6. Favor olive and sunflower oils (organic, cold pressed when available) over coconut oil or butter.

7. Start your day with stewed apples to aid in eliminating the digested ama: Core and apple and cut into bite size pieces. Put in pot on stove with 1/4+ water and 5-6 whole cloves. Heat for about 5 minutes, until soft. Eat alone (after they cool) or add to a light grain or protein for breakfast.

8. Once a week, take liquids in replace of two of your three meals. Substitute the two typically-largest meals with anything in liquid form. It can be heavy and full of food, as long as it’s blended. This will help to give your digestion a rest without losing agni (fire of digestion…important for purifying and staying strong)

Contact First Light Ayurveda for further direction or questions. Enjoy!

Conceive Naturally

Conception can be many things…. Simple, easy, natural, radiant, and exciting. Or…cause of anxiety, fear, questions about your health or your ability to conceive… Ayurveda is holistic medicine, assessing the physiological functioning of the reproductive system, as well as the rest of the body. This assessment includes pathways that are well understood in Eastern Medicine but less so, or not at all, in Western Medicine. Now, western medicine is amazing in its glory… Yet sometimes there is more. Often, this ‘more’ can need a subtle but highly effective shift in order to allow for conception. In addition to the body, Ayurveda assesses the mind and state of emotions, which both can lead to blockages in fertility on their own, let alone coupled with a physiological imbalance.

First Light Ayurveda blends the wisdom of Ayurveda, it’s assessment and recommendations for resolving the imbalances, with intuitive healing and energy work, to work on all aspects of the client. We create and then simply allow the conception. Ayurveda is gentle yet effective, creating more ease and fulfillment, bringing positive “side benefits” rather than negative “side effects”. Wendy is nurturing and wise, facilitating a most enjoyable experience, different than a common fertility specialist, and she is blessed in helping women conceive.

Baby colic

It’s become common that many infants experience some form of colic. Pediatricians today report colic as “sudden, severe, unexplained crying lasting less than 3 hours/day.”1 Of course moms and pediatricians need to be sure there is not another reason for the crying, such as fever, trauma, or other sign of an emergent condition. If there is truly no medical reason for the crying, and the crying persists, it’s a vicious cycle…. the crying leads to worry in mom and to Baby not eating well…which leads to more worry in mom and Baby crying because he’s hungry…which leads to less sleep and yet more concern for mom and even more crying for Baby who is not able to take in the food she needs. Mom often takes on guilt, like she is doing something wrong or her milk is not good enough for Baby, when she is doing everything perfectly. One day of this is plenty, but often the symptoms last for weeks or months, taking a toll on mom, baby and family.

Per contemporary medicine, colic is not well understood, and this fact is common knowledge. Statistics show that colic does go away eventually and therefore is not a major medical concern. However, it is a huge concern for mom and dad of the infants who have unrelieved crying, fussiness, and possibly begin to lose weight when they should be gaining weight.

The medical community suggests colic is due to some combination of the following:

  • Digestive woes, perhaps due to intolerance of cow’s milk protein or lactose
  • Reflux (heartburn due to stomach acid and milk flowing back into the esophagus)
  • An immature digestive system in which the intestinal muscles are often in spasm
  • Air (gas) in the intestinal tract
  • Increased hormone levels that cause stomachaches or a fussy mood
  • Hypersensitivity to a stimulation in the environment (sound, light, etc.)
  • An intense temperament in the newborn period
  • An immature nervous system 2

Common recommendations to try include changing from breast or cow’s milk formulas to soy, adding lactase to formulas, warm baths, and medicines to aid in reflux. Please know that per traditional Ayurveda, all but the warm baths can lead to additional digestive problems, and may only be treating the symptoms rather than the root cause of the problem.

Ayurveda for Baby Colic

Ayurveda understands that there are many reasons for baby colic, and often they are related to the digestive system, but can also be related to emotional peace in the mom and family (hence colic getting worse as mom worries more and loses sleep because of the colic). The digestive system in an infant is immature… it’s natural. The digestive system is functional, but needs support. Ayurveda understands the digestive system is closely related to emotions (have you ever lost your appetite after a traumatic event or tough news?), because we are “digesting life” and can therefore not digest food well, simultaneously.

Things to consider before losing too much sleep over colic:

You are most likely giving lots of love and nurturing to your baby. It’s also important that you don’t overstimulate his or her nervous system with sensory stimulation (television; music that is loud or not truly peaceful; anger, fear or depression in the household; too much movement (taking Baby into public places and out of his/her home environment often). Baby likes to be swaddled, held close to the chest (heart to heart, you can get carriers for this), “shh shh shh shh” peacefully in his or her ear while you hold him, warm baths with a little sesame oil (be careful so the oil doesn’t let your baby slip out of your arms).

If these things don’t improve symptoms, consider contacting an Ayurveda Practitioner specializing in maternal & child holistic health care. From a simple consultation (a phone consult is often enough), you can get specific recommendations for your particular situation. They may include:  a ½ ounce of a small-dose fennel tea at particular times, to help with gas/bloating and reflux; Infant Abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil massage, instructed for parents to give to baby), to help with soothing the nervous system and thus aiding the nerves for digestion; addressing mom’s digestive and nervous system (because Baby always feels what mom feels); or other recommendations. Common results are a happier baby, happier mom, and improved digestion, after simple remedies.

One thing to take note of, is that taking Baby off of milk products (breast milk or cow-based formulas) will only limit their digestive ability in the future. The fact is, milk has received a bad reputation in our culture, yet when taken appropriately (contact First Light Ayurveda or for more on milk and how to take it for optimal results), it has the most ojas (life force) and strengthening power of any food. In fact, organic whole milk and breast milkd is the only food that nourishes all 7 dhatus (tissues of the body) within 24 hours. Of course, do not give whole milk to your infant, but consider alternatives before taking your baby off your breast milk or milk-based formula. Not everyone needs milk in their diet, but our digestion should be good enough to take it without trouble. If not, then our digestion is lacking strength, and the ramifications are that we will not digest other things as well as we can, leading to weaker assimilation of nutrients from our food, and less elimination of toxins in our body. So, it is actually important to strengthen digestion to a point where we can take milk comfortably. Most people (babies included) who believe they have a lactose intolerance or milk allergy are actually dealing with a weak digestion. Few people truly have milk allergies. We want to strengthen the digestion, so we can take all the good from our food and remove all the bad from the food….not ignore the weakness and eat according to it. This will just make the problem worse.

So please, if you or your baby need guidance, contact

Ayurvedic Medicine

As people are seeking greater health and wellness in their lives, Ayurvedic Medicine is a growing trend in health care and lifestyle. But what exactly is Ayurvedic Medicine? When people ask this question, they often get a large range of answers. Or they have had one experience with Ayurveda, such as herbs or meditation or a new diet, and they assume that alone is Ayurveda. The reason for such a span of answers is that Ayurvedic Medicine is an entire system of health care, comprised of endless knowledge of the physical body, in all its intricacy, as well as knowledge of the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of each one of us. With origins in India, its principles are easily applied in any area of the world, using natural means to bring the body back into its unique and balanced state. It is holistic, whole system,health care.

Within this system of natural health care, there are thousands of modalities to utilize. Common ones include herbal remedies, particular yoga practices, oil massage, and purification techniques (“detoxing” done right). Yet these and other regimes are not used generically for all. Rather, they are carefully selected for an individual’s unique constitution and imbalances. Ayurvedic medicine does not treat generalized symptoms, it treats the particular imbalances that cause the disruptive symptoms. Ayurveda has a distinct means of assessment and works with a different approach to creating health in our bodies than the traditional western approach. Ayurveda recognizes that there are multiple ways in which one symptom (such as painful periods, insomnia, irritable digestion or elimination, depression, or others) may have come about. Thus, each individual needs individualized care to gently overcome his or her health problems.

Yet Ayurveda is so much more than an answer to your health problems…  It gives the gift of maintainingyour optimal health and attaining continued growth & fulfillment in body and mind. Ayurveda is a way of life, a way to greater health and longevity. This is why bits and pieces of Ayurveda always trickle into the lives of even those who intend for just a simple and natural fix to their ailments. Los Angeles and other areas of the country are catching onto this time-tested and effective system of health care and people are realizing they can feel better than ever.

Natural Herbal Remedies

Ayurveda provides a natural means to minimizing or removing many of our current health issues, such as diabetes, infertility, rheumatoid and osteo arthritis, and even the common cold. Of course, the best health care is one which prevents illness and injury. Ayurveda shines in prevention, as it gives simple and natural lifestyle guidelines that simply feel good, while increasing your immunity, decreasing toxin build-up, and replenishing your energy. It offers means to easy and sound sleep, proper digestion and elimination, and healthy purification. If ailments arise, herbs may be used as natural medicine. A carefully selected blend of herbs is generally more effective than a single herb. Arjuna, for instance, is wonderful for the heart, but will be best assimilated when joined with another strong herb and smaller doses of digestive aids such as ginger, cardamom, licorice or fennel. It does take time to reverse major or chronic health issues, but the results yield much longer lasting effects and without uncomfortable or hazardous side effects. Of course, Ayurveda will not replace your doctor’s prescriptions, but it can reverse or minimize your need for them.

Health maintenance and prevention of illness tips are sometimes thought of as “grandma’s recipes.” Try out a few of these over the course of a week and see if they work for you. These are simple but effective for some basic complaints.

  • For trouble falling asleep: Heat one cup of organic whole milk on the stove. Pour into a mug, add a pinch each of cardamom and cinnamon (nutmeg also, if you like). Sip just before bed. Also take a warm bath with sesame or olive oil in it, just be careful not to slip!
  • For bloating after meals: Make a potent fennel tea by adding 1 tsp of freshly ground fennel seeds to 4-6 ounces of hot water. Stir and let steep for a bit before sipping at the end of your meal. You can also steep the whole seeds in boiling water.
  • For early morning awakenings (when you wake up at 3-4 AM, wide awake): If you wake up hot or sweaty, try 1/4 cup of Aloe Juice (whole leaf, from the health food store not Trader Joe’s unfortunately) just before bed. If you wake up but you don’t feel hot in the nights, try 6 ounces of licorice root and fennel seed tea. Just buy the freshly ground powders at health food store and stir into hot water.

Ayurvedic Remedies

Plants hold great power in healing. Whether using natural Eastern or contemporary Western approaches to medicine, plants are the foundation for the efficacy of medications. Herbal medicines are often overlooked as a lesser potency than many western drugs. Fortunately, this is not the truth. The key to successful healing through herbs is to have the appropriate blend of herbs for whatever imbalances have led to the health issue. Three people with high blood pressure may all have different imbalances that caused their symptom. Hence, three different herbal remedies, along with lifestyle guidelines, may be recommended for success in reducing blood pressure. The same is true for treating women’s health concerns such as painful periods, menopause symptoms, or others. If you want to reverse a health issue, try this natural and lasting approach. And if you are currently in good health, remember to keep your health with the Ayurvedic lifestyle.

Healing with Reiki

Healing with Reiki: Learning Another Path to Health and Happiness

We all want greater health and happiness, and we’re continually learning about new and old ways of achieving this. Reiki is a form of healing and energy work that has been passed down from Dr. Mikao Usui from Japan and has retained it’s purity in lineage, effectiveness in healing the body, and creating greater happiness in the life. The Ki (same as Chi or Life Force) is transferred through the hands of the Reiki practitioner and into the receiving body. The practitioner is a conduit for the healing power of Nature (Consciousness), so it is nature that heals. The practitioner must have been attuned  through proper instruction and activation for the use of Reiki. It is more than simply laying the hands on the receiver. The consciousness of the practitioner is important, as well. The greater the consciousness, the more energy can easily stream through the practitioner and into the recipient. The receiver also plays a role, in that his or her body will “pull” the Reiki they require through the vehicle of the practitioner. Reiki symbols are used to enhance the healing, with Reiki II. These symbols are sacred and are given to the practitioner through another attunement and activation.

Reiki healers are conscious souls that we simply just want to be around. They typically have a glow about them, as they access Universal Energy and the higher powers of nature on a regular basis. When we are drawn to learn more about Reiki or to have a Reiki session, we are ready for more out of life, greater health and happiness. Getting onto a Reiki table and inviting the healing is the first step. The healing process begins in the session and continues into the life. Individuals will have different experiences of healing. Some will be very aware of energy movement, opening, or releasing. Others will have less conscious awareness of this, but the healing is still taking place. The proof is not in the experience on the table (although it is a soothing and peaceful experience), but rather in the life to come.

Reiki is powerful alone, yet it can also be done in combination with other treatments. Whether done with massage, Shirodhara or Abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil treatments), Reiki will only enhance healing. Other energy work can be combined with Reiki, as well, such as chakra balancing, intuitive healing, and the use of aromatherapy to work with your subtle energy fields. Utilizing Reiki during a Raindrop Therapy session is highly effective in working with aromas and touch to influence spinal alignment (scoliosis or general aches) while purifying the nervous system of viruses and emotional baggage. And it feels amazing… Whatever you choose, all of this work feels nurturing and nourishing, while it is purifying and strengthening. The sessions themselves are loving, but the effects truly have the most influence in the life afterward.

Reiki in Los Angeles

There a many Reiki practitioners in Los Angeles and throughout the country. You can choose to work with a Reiki II practitioner from a distance, or you can choose someone close to your home, so that you have the experience of being in his or her direct energy. Take the time to talk to Reiki students or clients, or to explore practitioners online, so that you’re excited about who it is you choose to see. There is likely a practitioner who will simply feelright to you. You may need to meet in person or talk on the phone (you can call to schedule or ask questions) before you have a sense that a practitioner is the right one for you. Simply choosing Reiki, with a qualified practitioner, is a healing step and will help to enlighten your life.

When asking about the qualifications of a practitioner, the lineage should always go back to Dr. Usui. When the lineage lines up, you can be assured that the practitioner was properly attuned to Reiki, and they can effectively stream Reiki through to you.

Chakras and Reiki

Reiki can be pulled from any area of your body, or directly through your chakras. We have chakras all over our bodies, but there are 7 primary chakras along our spine. These energy centers literally create our life. Each of the 7 chakras are like data bases for certain areas of our life, each one holding energetic blue prints for our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. For this reason, Reiki is often focused directly into the chakras. A Reiki practitioner may scan the chakras first, assessing which ones are in balance and which ones need more life force. Then he or she can focus the Reiki into the particular chakra in need. The recipient often feels a shift, subtle or sometimes dramatic, when the Reiki has realigned some of the energy. Reiki is wonderful as a one-time treatment, or can be optimized with regular sessions. You may find there are times when you need more Reiki than others. You can also become a Reiki practitioner yourself, and pull Reiki every day, for you or others. It takes healing to a new level and life simply becomes more beautiful by the day. To your health and happiness…

Wendy Arneill, RN, Ayurveda Practitioner, Reiki II Practitioner, Intuitive Healer

Healthy Longevity

True health is only obtained when you are fulfilled with yourself and your life. This does not mean you stop seeking more, as there is always more goodness to explore. Fulfillment comes when you know you are on the right path, in the right place, doing and feeling the right things. The body has been given health and now the mind and the heart feel the same balance. Contentment, which then opens the door to so many more possibilities, continually improving your experiences. As you age, life gets only better. This is the essence of Ayurveda, healthy longevity. For inquiries to get started, contact First Light Ayurveda. Enjoy…

Photo from Flickr.