Welcome you, I honor the curiosity that brought you here to read!
Because I understand that most people struggle, at least on some level, I want you to know that if you have issues with digestion, food intolerances, or body aches and pain – you’re not alone.
A lot of the people who have signed up for learning and coaching with me do so because they are tired. They’re tired of feeling kinda crappy in their body. Tired of the way that their mind-body struggles are crowding in on their inner peace, their lifestyles, and their relationships.
You may be suffering from chronic exhaustion. Is your low energy robbing you of a lifestyle you once had? Like being able to go for walks, hikes, and dancing. Are you afraid your symptoms will only increase as you age?
Maybe your anxiety isn’t subsiding. Even after you’ve tried medication changes, supplements, and essential oils you’re still wishing you could find a sustainable resource to to give you a sense of feeling grounded in your life.
Perhaps, your belly and you feel in opposition to one another? You’re frequently bloated. You tried the new diet but your irritable bowels didn’t change. Do twists, forward bends and sneaky farts hold you back from doing a group yoga class? (I mention that because I want you to know, that’s a pretty common fear!)
Are you tossing and turning at night, so much so that your worried mind gets to overthinking? Maybe you and your partner are sleeping separately in an effort to get a little rest.
My friend, if any of these struggles sound like your struggles, then I want you to know – I’m excited for you to learn about Ayurveda! It changed my health and life for the better and I believe it can do the same for you.
Oh, and if you’re just now beginning to read up on Ayurveda – awesome. It’s always a good time to begin. My journey of searching to heal my inner struggles led me to study massage therapy, yoga, Reiki, nutrition, Ayurveda, and behavioral science. I continue to believe that we humans are fascinating, every changing creatures.
My work is designed to support you as you move from a place of struggle (be it overwhelm, a diagnosis of chronic disease, or a general sense of blasé) towards adaptability and a confident foundation with your health routines.
So here we go! Let’s dig into five questions I get asked a lot when people are trying to understand what a Yoga Health Coach does. I’ll share a bit about how hiring a Yoga Health Coach can shift how you show up, think, and feel in your day to day life.
AND at the end of this blog, I’ll share my favorite kitchari recipe with you.
1.) What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a medical system originating from India. In Sanskrit (an ancient language out of Asia) “Ayu” means life “veda” means science. So, Ayurveda is the study of life.
For over 5,000 years Ayruvedic practitioners have used cleansing programs, in depth bodywork, medicinal herbs, food, and specific diet to heal the body. And to enhance a person’s life force – mind, body, and spirit.
Three scholars Charaka, Sushruta, and Vagbhata are the reason we have Ayurvedic principles in textbooks. The foundation of Ayurveda is knowing which unique foods and lifestyle choices will help each unique person.
That’s right. This is not a one size fits all program. It’s unique to you, just like your fingerprint.
“Many different schools of healing therapy popular today, such as massage, physiotherapy, nutrition, herbal remedies, plastic surgery, psychiatry, polarity, kinesiology, shiatsu, mantra, meditation, color, and gem therapy, have their roots firmly planted in Ayurvedic philosophy. In the truest sense, Ayurveda is the mother of all healing systems.” — Usha Lad & Dr. Vasant Lad
The teachings of Ayurveda, and my coaching services will help you shift your habits so that you are preparing and eating foods in a way that is optimal for your physiology. You’ll learn to discern what’s best for you and your body, at this stage in your life.
I assure you, our Standard American Diet (SAD) includes far too many processed foods, poor food combinations and distorted yet normalized ways of eating. All of this contributes to toxic build up in the body. And if not addressed, it will lead to dis-ease.
To understand your individual needs, Ayurveda looks at your constitution — or prakruti in Sanskrit. There are three main qualities (doshas) that every human being has in varying degrees. Once you know your combination of doshas, — your prakruti — you can begin to understand which foods and lifestyle habits will support you the best.
These are the things that I can help you uncover in my Annual Ticket Membership.
The dosha theory originates from Ayurvedic scholars observing the natural world. The scholars saw that all of life is composed of 5 elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. All of life, meaning things like your body. But this also includes invisible things like your mind and emotions, they contain the qualities of the elements too.
“All-pervading Space serves as the common factor or “home” for all objects in the universe.
Air is active, mobile, dry, and the vital life-force, or prāna, essential for all living creatures. Without air, life is not possible on this, or any, planet.
Fire governs digestion, absorption, and assimilation in the living organism as well as the flowering, ripening, and decay of plants. The sun — the eye of heaven, the lamp of the day — is the central source of heat energy.
The life-sustaining, liquid, cool element is water. It maintains electrolyte balance, nourishes plants, and animals, and sustains the environments.
The solid, dense, and hard element is Earth. The first ground for global life. It cradles and holds all living creatures of the planet, giving them food and shelter.” — Usha Lad & Dr. Vasant Lad
Ayurveda combined these elemental energies into three basic doshas. Vāta, Pitta, and Kapha. You might ask why there are three doshas when there are five observed elements?
Ancient Ayurveda saw space and earth as passive elements. But the elements of air, fire, and water are active.
Vāta is air and space.
Pitta represents fire and water.
Kapha is earth and water.
Your dosha helps you determine what type of exercises, food, environments, and activities support your mind-body connection. Pitta types get the label of being high energy, go, go, go people. Both of Pitta’s elements are dynamic. Intentional rest and joyful movement support Pitta constitutions. Whereas, Vāta and Kapha people can benefit from different types of stimulation.
As a yoga health coach who also studies and teaches behavior science under, I can help you make small and consistent shifts in your life. Over time these small changes snowball to create balance in your dosha(s).
2.) What is Your Primary Dosha?
Your special combination of doshas — prakruti — doesn’t change. You might be surprised to realize that it was established at the time of your conception and influenced not only by your birth parents, but also by the moods and health of your Mother while you were in utero. Most people have one or two doshas that are most prominent, with the 3rd dosha presenting in a lesser amount. The doshas that are the strongest in your constitution are also the most likely to go out of balance.
This is where your vikruti comes in. This is considered your “constitution of the moment.” It reflects your balance or imbalance from factors that cause disruption such as temperature, age, emotions, lifestyle, environment, and diet. Your prakruti is your original blueprint. Your vikruti is your current state of imbalance.
The idea is that if your vikruti matches your prakruti your constitution is in a balanced state. When your doshas spend time in an unbalanced (deranged) state, internal struggles and external symptoms will manifest.
There are lots of dosha quizzes out there and most people find them to be fun. I personally like Banyan Botanicals “More than a Dosha Quiz.” This can give you a quick insight into your constitution and imbalances.
If you’d like for more concrete testing, some Naturopathic Doctors have that ability. And depending on your location, you can also search for an accredited Ayurvedic practitioner.
In my yoga health coaching programs, I reference self-tests like Banyan Botanicals to get an idea of what is in excess. I’ll also help you interpret them.
I can guide you to find your own intuitive insights about what’s going on in your body. And of course, I help support you to learn the basics of Ayurveda and to create small habit shifts that will get you to your goals. I can help you use Ayurveda to fulfill recommendations that your healthcare practitioners and doctors have requested of you.
My go-to recommendation for all folks is to eat a seasonally focused, whole foods diet.
3.) What is beneficial about eating seasonally?
There are the economic and physical benefits to eating seasonally. Like reducing your carbon footprint. And placing financial stimulus back into your local economy.
Additionally, you’ll also be eating nutrient-packed food. Have you ever bit into a peach or apple freshly plucked from its tree? My mouth is salivating just thinking about how ripe that fruit tastes. Harvesting and eating food during its seasonal peak gives you all the nutrients and vitamin content your body craves. And more flavor too.
If you choose small scale farms and you talk to your farmers, you can guarantee that you’re not ingesting toxins from pesticides. I highly recommend getting to know the farm you’re purchasing your food and ingredients from. Side benefit: farmers are earthy people and getting to know them helps you feel grounded!
For those of you with green thumbs, you experience the abundance nature provides first hand. I bet your family and friends also benefit from the fruits of your labor. You can also buy fruit and vegetables from your local farmer at the farmer’s market or through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) you are tuning into the rhythm of nature.
Now, how does eating local food interweave with Ayurveda?
Consider this, after winter your body is in the Kapha state. It tends to have an excess of Kapha dosha and the heavy qualities of water and earth. To support your body’s transition into the growth and expansive potential of spring, eat more of the foods that would naturally be abundant in the season of spring. For instance – leafy green vegetables like spinach, sprouts, mustard greens and kale.
The leafy green is alkaline for your body and they clean things out, after eating the heavier foods of winter like fats, nuts, and grains. This simple shift to put different things on your plate will help your body to shed the extra weight that quite naturally tends to accumulate over winter. During spring you want to create stimulating energy in your body, to match the longer days and bursting patterns of nature.
Eating seasonally in the fall looks very different from spring. Vāta energy is most prominent in Autumn so we want our foods to create grounding and heaviness. This is where root vegetables like your butternut squash, beets, pumpkins, nuts & seeds, and quality fats will help you to ground back into your body. Have you ever noticed how spacey and airy you can be in your mind during the season of Autumn?
In my coaching membership, Annual Ticket, you get two seasonal detoxes. One in the Spring and one during Autumn. Each time you participate in one of these 14 day courses you’ll dive deeper into Ayurveda. You’ll learn how to architect your seasonal food routines so you can bring your mind and body into a state of balance and vibrancy. In each Seasonal Reset Course you get a chance to intentionally align back to your original blueprint. Your prakruti.
If you’re curious and unsure about detox, and you’d like to chat about whether or not it’s right for you, feel free to contact me.
4.) Why should I detox?
You may have different motivators for detoxing. Maybe you’d like to remove environmental toxins like mercury from your body.
Or you desire to get rid of your afternoon brain fog.
It may be the extra cellulite around your thighs that just won’t go away even though you’re dedicated to daily strength and movement.
The abundance of our Western culture provides many routes to detox. Dry fasting and fasting are rising in popularity. I personally like Dr. Mindy Pelz and her work in fasting.
Conditions like alzheimers, dementia, obesity, autoimmune disease, cancer, etc. are prevalent because of environmental chemicals and heavy metals.
You cannot escape the contamination. Most water is now bulk water, losing its structural integrity due to environmental pollution. Most city water facilities use the same infrastructure from the 1980s and in the U.S. Some add harmful contaminants like fluoride.
If you’re washing your body and your food with contaminated water, that affects your body too. Click here to read your water district’s latest reports on contaminates.
As much as I’d encourage you to be proactive in advocating the EPA to update water standards 20 years or older; what I really want to emphasize is how easy it is to receive toxins. And this is why I recommend detoxing. Detoxing can be preventative. Or it can help reduce, even reverse some of the physical symptoms you’re suffering from.
5.) What is the best detox?
So I mentioned Dr. Mindy Pelz above. And I do admire that woman’s passion for fasting. However, not every person is ready to do a 48hr or 5 day fast by themselves.
That can be intimidating for many reasons. Like reawakening your food insecurities from your teenage years. Or not feeling like you’re in the most supportive environment to fast for 5 days.
This is where my seasonal detox programs can be advantageous to address your fears, help get rid of toxin build-ups, AND have a supportive community. Plus, with a traditional Ayurvedic detox you eat 3 meals per day and you don’t go hungry.
In Ayurveda, the detoxification process is called Panchakarma. The word Panchakarma refers to five actions and procedures that help cleanse the mind, body, and spirit.
The mind, body, and spirit connection is what I believe most detox programs out there are missing.
In Ayurvedic medicine, panchakarma is applied to treat metabolic, stress-oriented, and chronic diseases. It is safe enough to use with therapies like chemotherapy. Since food is the foundation of Ayurvedic medicine, it makes sense that this ancient practice sees the gut as the origin for imbalance.
The focus of panchakarma is to remove the excess ama. A quick tip: you can gauge how much ama build-up you have in your body by examining your tongue. Do this before you brush your teeth or ingest any food or drink in the morning.
Notice any white patches? That’s ama.
Panchakarma reignites the digestive fire, called agni. Both my Autumn Reset and Spring Reset programs are designed to support you to intentionally detox. The goal is to reset before a major seasonal change. Goodbye, winter! Hello, Spring! Let’s welcome the heat of summer!
“I’ve struggled with 30+ years of digestive complications including: autoimmune issues, Crohn’s Disease, Colitis, and the anxiety/depression that accompanies the physical conditions. Sarah has helped me to identify and change my relationship with food by coaching me back to basics from the grocery store, to my kitchen, to our table. Because of our work together I am enjoying food and I actually look forward to mealtime, whether I’m feeding myself, my family, or friends. This is a huge turnaround!’ — Rebecca Appl, Mother, Business Owner, & Yoga Teacher
What is different about my programs is that they are home-based. No need to spend $300 a day at an Ayurvedic clinic to undergo panchakarma. Each Seasonal Reset that I offer is a 14-day program that begins with intention and preparation. The deepest part of your commitment (the detox portion) can be one day. Or up to five.
Exiting your detox is by far, the most important feature of resetting your mind, body, and spirit connection. I’ll guide you through that phase too.
My role as a coach is to support your intuitive knowing and provide yogic information to help you achieve your desired results. So I invite you to join me to reset your digestion, soothe your nervous system, and experience intentional self-care.
Feel free to set up a time to chat about your detox questions.
My Favorite Kitchari Recipe
A big part of panchakarma is a mono-diet of kitchari and ghee. The intention is to reset your digestive fire — your agni — while your gut is resting. Unlike long fasts, kitchari provides adequate nourishment to your tissues (thanks to the mung beans) and assists in the detoxification process.
Kitchari can be served as an everyday meal or you can use it for cleansing and balancing purposes. Anytime you need to reset your gut and body kitchari is a dependable option. Mono-diet means you only eat kitchari all day. It’s nourishing enough to continue to eat it exclusively for several days in a row.
Gather Your Ingredients:
- 1 cup uncooked split yellow mung beans
- ¼ – ½ cup uncooked white basmati rice
- 1 tbsp. fresh ginger root
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp., each: black mustard seeds, cumin and turmeric powder
- ½ tsp., each: coriander powder, fennel and fenugreek seeds
- 1 pinch hing – also called asafoetida (optional)
- 7-10 cups water or vegetable broth
- ½ tsp., salt (sea salt is best)
- Optional: chopped root vegetables, leafy greens or cilantro leaves
* For sensitive digestion, gas or bloating: Before starting to prepare the kitchari soak the beans and rice overnight, drain, and proceed.
Assemble Your Creation:
To make the batch of kitchari, in a large cooking pot, bring 7 cups of water to a boil over high heat, set the other 1+ cups aside to add as needed.
Drain and rinse the rice and mung in a strainer until the water runs clear. Add them to the pot of water once it comes to a boil, add the spices, keep the pot at high heat until the mixture returns to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil turn the temperature to low.
If you’re adding hard vegetables such as roots, add the cubed veggies now. Cover the pot but leave a little crack in the lid, simmer for 30 minutes without stirring.
After 30 minutes check to see if the mixture is still submerged with water, if it’s not add the extra cup of water or more water until it is.
Return the lid with a crack and cook for an additional 10 – 20 minutes.
Kitchari should have a consistency along the lines of thick soup or a light stew. The beans should be completely tender. Add more water and continue to cook as necessary.
If you’re adding quick cooking veggies such as greens add those when there is about 10 minutes left of cooking time. Just place them on top of the mixture. They will steam as the soup finishes it’s cooking time.
Ladle it into your bowl and top with ghee, cilantro, and extra salt and pepper to taste. If you are using your pot of kitchari for a mono-diet cleanse, you can leave it at room temperature throughout the day and reheat your desired amount at each of your 3 meals during the day.
P.P.S. If you’d like to watch a free documentary about Ayurveda, a 2001 film, “Ayurveda – Art of Being” is available to watch on YouTube.