TIS THE SEASON: AN AYURVEDIC GUIDE TO BALANCE

By Lauren Massalas, Ayurvedic Health Counselor

 

“I’m never drinking or eating anything ever again! Except kale. And I’m going on a juice cleanse. And I’m going to start training for a marathon.”  

 

The holiday season can leave one feeling like a hot mess.  The kind of mess that makes us say dramatic things like this, hating on the body and past choices.  It doesn’t have to be this way. Ayurveda offers us tools to find equilibrium in the body. Here, I’ll give you 3 strategies for coming back to balance this holiday season that emphasize skillful wellness rather than punishment.

 

Strategies for Holiday Season Survival:

1. Ground and nourish the body and the mind, to build your reserves

2. Cleanse when appropriate, after indulgent events

3. Bring back the light

 

First and foremost, incorporate everyday nourishment and grounding to build your reserves. We tend to punish and deplete ourselves, which isn’t a helpful strategy for health and balance. This is vata season, meaning the qualities of the New England environment are cold, dry, light, and mobile, which you’ll find in the windy weather, crunchy leaves underfoot, and snow that will eventually fall.  If these qualities show up in your food and lifestyle, your digestion, immune system, and mental stability can suffer. Seasonal medicine comes in the form of all things cozy.

 

Choices that can cause vata imbalance:

-Ice water

-Raw, cold salads and smoothies

-Eating while walking, or in a moving plane

-Overscheduling, living a FOMO life (fear of missing out)

-Poor sleep quality

-Running outside

 

Ways to ground and nourish:

-Sipping hot water, especially first thing in the morning

-Cooked veggies, soups, and stews

-Schedule quiet time everyday, practice JOMO (joy of missing out)

-Proper deep sleep

-Warming yoga, gentle yoga

-Alternate nostril breathing, daily, for at least 2 minutes

 

 

Cleansing vs Nourishing

Cleansing must be done skillfully, when appropriate, with the right attitude.  In fall and winter, long-term fasting starves and threatens the body. Ayurvedic cleansing takes a gentler, more common-sense approach.  Enjoy your celebrations with friends and family. However, the day after a heavy meal your body and mind might feel heavy or dull, so here are some ways to regain lightness in the body and invigorate the mind.  

 

 

Bringing back the lightness

-Take a walk with your people (or fur friend) after a big meal

-The next day, eat only when you’re hungry (a sign that the previous meal has been fully digested)

-Drink ginger tea, a root that dissolves ama, or toxic accumulation in the body

-Practice kapalabhati pranayama, a breath technique focusing on forceful exhales to eliminate waste and remove dullness in the mind.  Do this on an empty stomach, like first thing in the morning (ask a Coolidge Yoga teacher for guidance).

-Make an “Ayurvedic Green Smoothie” as a meal replacement. It’s warm to keep vata under control.

 

 

Ayurvedic “Green Smoothie”:

3 cups veggie broth

1 inch ginger, peeled

1 tsp ground turmeric, or Ayurvedic spice blend

5 cups packed greens like kale, swiss chard, baby spinach

1 bunch parsley

1 tsp ghee (coconut oil for vegan)

Pink salt and black pepper

 

Bring ginger, spices, and broth to boil.  Add greens and lower to simmer for 5-10 minutes, until tender but still vibrant.  Turn off heat, add parsley, oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend with a hand blender, or transfer to high speed blender.  Let the soup cool before blending, then blend until nice and smooth.

 

This is incredibly light, quick to digest, full of bitter, vibrant, cleansing greens and Ayurvedic digestive spices.  Blanching greens does not lower the nutrient content. Instead, your body will find it much easier to digest and assimilate by enjoying it warm this time of year.  

 

 

May your holiday season be merry and bright, and may you feel grounded but light!


FEACHA TEACHA: PAMELA NEWMAN

Where are you from and how long have you been in Boston? 

I am originally from Portland, ME but have been in Boston since 2014.  

 

What was your first yoga class like?

My older sister dragged me to a hot yoga class in 2007 (kicking and screaming) but thank goodness she did. It was love at first tadasana and I have never looked back! I loved the way the practice connected me with my body and made me feel. 

 

What’s your favorite pose to teach?

Sleeping Swan (it is the yin version of Pigeon). There is such power in slowing down to stillness and being able to look inwards while in an uncomfortable position.  

 

As a practitioner, what pose makes you cringe?

Sirsasana (headstand)

 

Where can we find you when you’re off your mat?

Bookstores, coffee shops, or at home :) 

 

What’s your favorite or the most random song on your class playlist right now?

Human Right by the Strike, puts me in the best mood! 


IGNITE YOUR POWER AS A CONSUMER!

To Celebrate the Earth and its Beings

 

The average t-shirt requires between 400 and 600 gallons of water to produce (that's equivalent to 10 bathtubs full of water!). The fashion industry uses 1600 chemicals in their dyeing process, only 1 percent of which have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. We consume 400 percent more clothing than we did twenty years ago, and the average garment is only worn seven times before it is thrown out.

 

Ignite your power as a consumer!

 

1. Hug the earth

The fashion industry leaves behind a huge environmental footprint, from the pesticides that are used to grow materials to landfills bursting with cheap and discarded clothing. Conventional cotton requires one-third of a pound of chemicals to produce just one t-shirt. How many t-shirts does each of us have tucked away at home?

 

Choosing organic fibers and sustainable fabrics like bamboo and hemp can reduce carbon output and help you and your family avoid unnecessary chemicals.

 

2. Hug ourselves

Support the people making your clothes by choosing companies which provide sustainable and caring environments (sweatshop free!) and who pay living wages under safe conditions. Exercise your purchasing power to demonstrate to companies that humans matter more than a bottom line.

 

3. Hug animals

Countless animals are harmed and/or killed in the name of traditional fashion. This includes the manufacture of materials like leather, wool, and silk, and the practice of animal testing. Stock your closet with cruelty-free clothing to take care of all beings. There's no need to use animal products when plant-based clothing is so comfy and conscious.

 

4. Hug longer

Reducing waste and cutting back on consumerism by purchasing clothing that is made to last will make your wardrobe more sustainable and timeless. Trends come and go, but durable and carefully chosen materials, pleasing silhouettes, and classic pieces all make for a curated closet that can be smaller and last longer. Quality over quantity.

 

Ways to help:

 

*Shop local! Whenever possible, choose products that were made as close to home as you can find. This means less transportation, fresher goods, and an opportunity to support your neighbors and local economy.

 

*Look for key words like plant-based, local, sustainable, cruelty-free, and fair trade. These labels mean better conditions for workers, better clothing quality and safer products.

 

*Before purchasing something, ask if it will add quality to your life and the lives of others.


FACE BEHIND THE DESK: DANA EINHORN

Occupation: Manager of Coolidge Yoga

 

Fun Fact: My first yoga class (over a decade ago) was at Sadhana, what is now Coolidge Yoga South End.

 

Favorite Yoga pose: Ardha Chandrasana, half moon! I love the energetic feeling of all my limbs reaching in energic opposition; I feel a sense of weightlessness. It’s a challenging combination of flexibility, strength and play!

 

How long you have you been practicing and what’s your latest Yoga breakthrough?

I’ve been practicing since 2006. My hips are very weak and tight. Lately, I’ve found that with scaling back and leveling my hips in a pose like three legged dog or standing split (where I would love to stack my hips and be a half moon!!) I actually find more strength and space. So letting go a little to move forward has been my latest breakthrough on and off the mat.

 

When you’re not on the mat, where can you be found?

With my favorite being on the planet, my dog, Fred! We love getting outside. I’m also a trained chef and love to cook so I’m often in my kitchen. 

 

How has Yoga impacted your life?

Yoga began simply as a way to decompress from a stressful career and offset the physical strain of long distance running and being active. Coming full circle I’ve now found a way to make yoga my career and use my practice not only to offset but to compliment the other physical and mental stress we all encounter in our current environment. I’ve always found home and community on my mat wherever life has taken me and always find a sense of grounding in the teachings of yoga on and off the mat.


FACE BEHIND THE CART: SYLVIE MANNING

What do you do when not the friendly face behind the cart? I am usually adventuring in the woods somewhere. I am currently hiking all the 4000 footers in New England and have been spending much of my time in NH. If I am not outside, I can be found snuggled under a blanket with my 2 pit bulls and a lot of coffee.  Read More

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FACE BEHIND THE CART: JESSIE KALOS

What do you do when not the friendly face behind the cart? I like to travel, read, ride my bike, and play with my kitty Binx! Where are you from and what brought you to Boston? I'm originally from CT, but I lived in Los Angeles for 3 and a half years, and after moving home, I realized I missed being in a city. Boston was my next stop, and I've been here for two years! Read More

Face Behind The Desk: Natasha Sheehy

What do you do when not the friendly face behind the desk? I am an elementary school teacher in Dorchester on weekdays and play Irish music in bars around Boston on the weekend. If you ever saw anyone playing an accordion in the front room of the Burren in Somerville that was most probably me! Read More

FEACHA TEACHA: RAQUEL MARRA

Where are you from and how long have you been in Boston? I am originally from NYC, but spent the last few years splitting my time between Ludlow, VT and Westport, Connecticut.  I have been in Boston full time since March 2017. Read More

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