Yagya – Communing with the Divine

Yagya, typically involving a fire ceremony but can also be something as simple as exercise or eating your meal, is the way in which we commune with nature’s intelligence to invoke an effect of greater purification, unity and love.

Yagya is like the cosmic mobile phone. It is the way in which we summon the divine.

We are communing. It is a communication procedure by which we are requesting an order.

Everything in nature revolves around the principle of reciprocity. When we make a request (with intent) through consciousness, we are trigging a spontaneous phenomena of reciprocity.

When we understand this principle and we incorporate agni (fire), agni becomes the transmuter, the purifier, but also the deliverer of the message of the intent. Agni metabolises intent into manifestation.

In Yagya, we offer that intent with things we hold precious to us such as ghee, sandalwood, turmeric, flowers and other various substances from the earth.

These things which we are offering to the fire hold a very sattvic (pure) quality that when transmuted from its gross physical dimension by agni into a spiritual essence, it is transmuted into a celestial substance (soma), which the devatas (spiritual beings) feed of. They feed of our sattvic soma.

This combination of intention, mantras (primordial sounds), fire, offerings and the flow of human awareness will be customised to target a very specific dimension in the more subtle realms of concioussness. Here the devatas bathe in the nectar of our attention and devotion.

This creates a bonding effect and a bridge between the subtle dimension and the gross dimension. We create a window for the light to come in, but we also send light in. It is a two way street, paved with bridges of unity.

What we are seeking to do is commune with each other. With everything – gross and subtle. The vedic world view is we wish to embody all dimensions in consciousness. Yagya is the technology by which we commune with the divine. Not just for the sake of communing with the divine, but to cause an effect…

What that effect is, is relevant to the type of Yagya and who we are “dialling”.

this article is inspired by the teachings of Jonni Pollard 

photo: Natasha Mason

Honey – Nectar or Poison?

Honey, nature’s sweet nectar, was considered by the ancient Vedic sages as one of the most exceptional food items available to mankind. It constitutes unique medicinal properties par excellence. And all this certainly still prevails today, but only when used properly.

In stark contrast, honey when heated is considered fatal and is classified as poison. Not only did ancient vedic sages clearly warn civilisations about this, but now modern science is proving ancient wisdom by confirming the toxicity of heated honey.

I understand that these words condemning heated honey seem harsh, radical and perhaps rather shocking. But many sages (who are considered authentic authorities on the science of life that is Ayurveda) used these exact words for this topic. And by the way, this language was rarely used.

I personally consider heated honey as the #1 Biggest Flaw in The Post Modern Era Diet.

The Importance of Honey

Honey is a medicine, not so much a food.

Honey is only good in little quantities. This is “because of properties like difficult digestibility, dryness and astringency.”(1)

If undigested, honey is very hard to eliminate out of the body. If it doesn’t eliminate, it lodges in the body as ama (undigested food material), which is the root cause of most illnesses. Ama clogs the channels of the body, obstructing metabolic activity, preventing nutrients from being delivered to cells and hampering proper waste elimination.

“Nothing is as troublesome as the Ama caused by improper intake of honey.”
~ Charaka, Ancient Sage.

The best yogavahi (catalyst)

Which means it amplifies the properties of the herbs added to it.(2)

The chief Anupana (Vehicle of Administration)

All herbs need a vehicle to effectively deliver it to the part of body that it is intended for. There are many Anupana’s such as ghee, milk, decoctions, water, sugar, wine and more. Honey is the main Anuapana in Ayurvedic medicine.

Thus, the best way to get your regular dose of honey is to incorporate it into your regular herbal intake.
(see below for other ways to take honey).

Good for the Eyes

Improves the eyesight. Very useful for itchy eyes, trachoma, conjunctivitis, glaucoma and other similar diseases.(1)

Honey is an excellent ‘scraper’ - whether it be scraping undigested food material in the digestive tract, to then be eliminated, or the mature cataracts (when the lens of the eye becomes progressively opaque) to stop the growth of the membrane.

It is to be used regularly internally but most effective when applied into the eyes via a specific Ayurvedic herbal preparation. (contact Vital Veda to order Netra Amrit Eye Drops).

Heart Health

Honey is wonderful for the heart. While it’s sweetness give pleasure to pacify the emotional heart, the scraping quality removes the ama that is blocking heart vowels and arteries.

Heart Tonic Remedy - Honey + amalaki juice + lemon juice + mango juice + arjuna kashayam (optional).

Honey Heals the Skin

Topically applying honey to wounds(1), burns, cuts, skin diseases(1) and ulcers(1) is an easy home remedy to clean the area and hasten healing.

Wound Healing Remedy - Mix some turmeric powder with honey to increase the antiseptic effect and stop bleeding(1). Topically apply on skin lesion.

Digestion

  • Honey is considered a boon for those with low digestion (Manda Agni). This is because it scrapes away the kapha coating on top of the pitta (kapha avarana).
  • It helps with diarrhoea and regulates acid levels.
  • It is a vital ingredient during Panchakarma when conducting purification treatments such as Basti (enema) and Vamana (emesis).

Respiratory Health

Honey is highly beneficial in the support of lung health and treatment of all imbalances of the lungs. Honey contains a mixture of "higher" alcohols and ethereal oil that emit soothing and beneficial vapours. Couple this with a combination of Ayurvedic respiratory herbs to breath at ease.

 

Cough

Honey soothes the inflamed mucous membrane of the upper respiratory tract and relieves irritating cough and symptoms like difficulty in swallowing. Honey is also one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods for inflammation anywhere in the body.

Cough and Cold Home Remedy – Honey and spice paste.

Weight Loss, Obesity and Diabetes

Honey is Kapha Nisaraka.
“Sara” = Essence.
“Ni” = Take away.
Honey, with its astringent quality, in small amounts, takes away the essence of kapha. Kapha is the factor for fluids, excess fat and heaviness in the body.
Another quality of honey is Stambhana (Stopping). Honey stops the overproduction of the bodily tissues.

Weight Loss Remedy - Boil water at night. The next morning add 1tsp honey + 1tsp lemon juice to the room temperature water and drink first thing after brushing teeth and scraping tongue.

Aphrodisiac and Ojas Booster

Due to a sweet taste and sweet post-digestive effect, honey (when taken right) is one of the few foods that metabolises so well that it nourishes all the tissues and quickly and directly nourishes and builds Ojas (vital essence). Due to it’s yogavahi (catalyst) quality, combined with aphrodisiac herbs it is effective for low libido, premature ejaculation, low sperm count and reproduction.

Ojas Builder and Immunisation for Babies - Swarna Prasha (honey + ghee + gold bhasma) - (available at Vital Veda clinic).

Other benefits:

“Madhu (honey) breaks up solidified materials inside the body, relieves thirst, mitigates kapha, poison, hiccup, bleeding disease, skin diseases, diabetes, worms, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, cough, diarrhoea; cleanses the ulcers, unifies fractures, heals wound.”(1)

Ways to Take Honey:

  • Incorporate into herbal preparations.
  • By itself as a tonic - If you do not take herbs, you can take 1tsp of raw honey first thing in the morning. (Sweet should be the first taste of the day).
  • Fruit + Honey - Drizzle honey on seasonal fruit. Honey + grapefruit is a great breakfast for weight loss. (make sure to eat the white pith of the grapefruit!).
  • Yoghurt + Honey - Yoghurt is one of the heaviest foods available. Thus Ayurveda says “it should not be taken alone without, sugar, green gram soup, honey or amalaki”(3) to make it more easily digestible. Honey and yoghurt is a great snack.

Honey’s Poisonous Potential

On the other hand, honey can easily acquire a poisonous quality. All it takes is heat.

When honey is heated past body temperature (37 degrees celsius) it becomes poison.

 

“100 litres of honey can be spoiled with 1 drop of hot water. Poison.”
Vaidya J.R. Raju

 

 

When heated, the molecules in honey metamorphose into glue-like structures and that adhere to the gut membrane, clogging the channels and producing ama. This ama becomes a sly nuisance that is very difficult to remove from the body.

“It takes many Panchakarma’s to remove heated honey.”
~ Vaidya J.R. Raju.

Now modern science is proving ancient wisdom. A study showed that when honey is heated, it produces a chemical called hydroxymethylfurfuraldehyde (HMF), a substance linked in certain forms to toxicity and possible links to carcinogenic effects.

The heat melts the microscopic globules of wax, which is where bees store this toxic chemical (and possibly more). This wax which encases the toxic substances is only eliminated straight out the body if it is not heated.

Beware of Heated Honey

  • Don’t add honey to any food or drink that is hot including tea, chai, porridge, honey soy chicken, honey cake etc. You are safer to leave this out all together rather then letting the food or drink “cool down.” - Remember, 37 degrees celsius.
  • Honey as an ingredient in packaged foods - Care should be taken to avoid cereals, breads, baked goods, sauces, bars and other “health food” products that include honey which has been cooked. Read the labels.
  • What is the source of your honey? - Speak to the bee keeper. Find out how they extract the honey. If the honey is cold-extracted or unheated, this is medicine. However most honey sold in mainstream supermarkets are toxic.

Ayurveda is so strict on this that it even prohibits honey during fever and hot summers.

Who is to say that heated honey is not a primary cause in diseases like colon cancer, infertility, children dying at birth or soon after birth? It will be a while till science conducts studies like these.

Other Notes About Honey

  • Honey gets better with age. I recommend only use honey that is at least 2 months old. This increases the activity levels. If it crystallises this is a good thing. Make sure to store well in a glass container. Start collecting!
  • Beware, “Honey mixed with equal quantities of ghee causes death.” ~ Every major ancient ayurvedic text.
honey collection
My honey collection from 2014. I still hold some of these that are getting good age to them! I save them for when strong medicines are required and for Ayurvedic baby immunisations.  

If you have eaten heated honey in the past like most westerners, fear not! you are strong. Even heated honey in very little quantity can be digested to some extent by with those of good physiology. But now you are aware, you can continue to detoxify and further imbue vitality.

 

“Even Brahman cannot cure the heated honey.”
Vaidya Dr. Raju
“Eat honey, my son, for it is good;”
~ Proverbs 24:13, The Bible

 

Honey Brand Recommendations:

  • Kel-Bee Apiaries (Sydney) - Louie comes to the Bondi Farmers Markets on Saturdays. 0414 972 065.
  • Lenny (Ocean Shores, Northern NSW) - Amazing passionate honey dealer who occasionally acquires rare and potent batches of honey.
  • Maharishi Honey - These guys use a Natural Law based approach to apiculture. They have the bees facing east, play them vedic chants and work closely with the environment. This honey is another level. If you are in Australia order through The Medicine Man.

Get collecting!

References
(1) Astanga Samgraha of Vaghbata, ch. 6,(86-93).
(2) Caraka Samhita, ch. 26, (249)
(3) Caraka Samhita, ch. 7, (61-62)

feature photo: Cereal Mag

Nature Deficit Disorder

Yep it’s actually a thing.

This contemporary phenomenon, “Nature Deficit Disorder,” is slightly controversial in the medical industry in regards to it being recognised as a mental disorder.

Richard Louv, an author who came up with this “phrase” has stated:

“Nature-deficit disorder is not meant to be a medical diagnosis but rather to serve as a description of the human costs of alienation from the natural world.”

And boy what health costs it can have…

  • Youngers generations are being at risk of having a shorter lifespan.
  • Behavioural problems are developing as well as Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) and depression. Studies from the University of Illinois is showing a strong link to ADD, and recently studies in USA showed classrooms and other forms of education that used outdoor classrooms and other forms of experiential education produced significant student gain in social studies, science, language, arts and math.
  • Eye problems like myopia (short-sighted) due to lack of exposure to bright (natural outdoor) light are at jeopardy.(3,4).
  • Childhood obesity is a growing problem and an influential cause of it is separation from nature.(5)
  • A Harvard study showed a strong correlation with mental health as women living in the greenest environments were happier and less depressed.(1,2).

According to Ayurveda, spending time in the nature or green space around plants builds “Ojas” – a substance linked to longevity, vitality and radiant health.

A plentiful reserve of Ojas is reflected in the lustre of the eyes and skin (like the glow in a baby), strong physical strength, immunity and libido, good digestion, vigour and spirituality.

It could be in your garden, or a park. It could be regularly hiking, bush walking, camping or meditating on a beach — it all builds Ojas.

Another one of the best ways to consistently build Ojas is to eat a diet of fresh unprocessed, seasonal whole food and have a balanced agni to support the process. A handful of certain foods even metabolise to nourish and build Ojas more directly and quickly.

Depleted Ojas leaves the body vulnerable to disease.

Regularly employing these methods to building Ojas is an important action to overcome fatigue and increase vitality.

“When you feel life coming down on you, Like a heavy weight.
When you feel this crazy society, Adding to the strain.
Take a stroll to the nearest waters And remember your place.
Many moons have risen and fallen long, long before you came.”
~ Xavier Rudd

Photo: Routeburn Track, NZ  by Dylan Smith

 

References
(1) http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/15-10363/
(2) https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_158317.html
(3) New research an eye opener on cause of myopia”. 2011-06-01. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
(4) Nature Deficit Disorder, No Child Left Inside Archived January 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
(5) National Environmental Education Foundation

Feature Food: Banana (“Kadali”)

There are two species of Banana's - Musa acuminata (the common fruit) and Musa balbisiana (plantain or green banana that's used as a vegetable). Additionally there are hybrids and offsprings, but they all stem from these 2 original wild species.
I will share the Ayurvedic view of the common Banana fruit (Musa acuminata), known as "Kadali" in Sanskrit.

The Benefits:

  • "Banana cures obesity, kapha, diseases of the vagina, causes constipation, improves colour and destroys poisoning." (Lodhradi Gana).(1)
  • Banana is a good remedy for depression and a great replacement to snacking on chocolate as a comfort food. When depression is caused by quality of dryness, bananas actually grant courage and fortitude. (This does not mean to indulge in Banana when feeling down, eat everything in moderation).
  • It mitigates Pitta due to sweet taste, however if eaten in excess can increase pitta.
  • It increases stomach acid - beneficial for those with too little acid.
  • High in Potassium - Potassium levels are important for those whose sodium/salt intake is high and for nerves and muscles.
  • High in Vitamin B6 - Combining B12, Folic acid, and B6 is important because they are synergistically active to provide protection to the heart, brain, and nervous system and more.
  • Skin Care - It is good to incorporate in to your homemade topical skin paste. Especially for Pitta skin types.
  • Low Pesticide Levels - Banana's are not very "dirty" in the sense that conventional tree's don't require much pesticides.

Cautions:

Banana + Dairy = Incompatible Food Combination (Viruddha Ahara)

Banana mixed with dairy is highly incompatible.

The post-digestive action (vipaka) of Banana is sour, while the vipaka of milk is sweet. The different vipakas create an incompatible food composition that typically deposits as "Ama" (undigested food material = toxins) in the body and will manifest as disease later. It changes the intestinal flora and diminishes Agni (digestive fire).

Banana mixed with dairy is a common cause of skin diseases.

This (incompatible) food combination is so common in the west, and is in my top 3 "biggest flaws of the western diet." Stay away from Banana Smoothies with milk (see my healthier Banana Smoothie Recipe), Banana in your Porridge, Banana Milkshake and Banana Cake.

Generally, banana (like most fruits) should be eaten alone, but there are some exceptions (see below).

Time to Eat Banana

  • Banana is one of the only fruits with "rules" - One should not eat it on full stomach nor empty stomach.
  • Banana is not healthy to eat first thing in the morning.
  • Like other fruit, having Banana as an afternoon snack is an appropriate time to eat banana.
  • People with high blood sugar should not eat banana very much.

Ayurvedic Properties

  • Rasa (Taste) - Sweet and Astringent
  • Virya (Energy) - Cooling
  • Vipaka (Post-Digestive Effect) - Sour

Banana Smoothie

A more compatible and healthier option.

Recipe here.

References:
(1) Astanga Samgraha of Vaghbata, Ch. 16, (18-19).

photo: by Dylan Smith taken in Tiruvannamalai. 

Other Feature Foods:

Golden Milk Elixir

Just like grandma used to cook up for you with love and foresight. This nightly sleep aid and anabolic tonic holds great wisdom, incorporating one of the most nourishing foods: cows milk, with the intelligence of natures herbs and spices. You’ll sleep like a baby and super charge overnight.

Dreaming of a Good Night’s Sleep?

This Ayurvedic remedy will reduce your stress to allow you to switch off and gain a more restful and undisturbed sleep.

Supersede the Stress

Insomnia, which can increase the risk of most degenerative diseases(1) is mostly caused by stress. When we are under stress, cortisol levels (stress fighting hormones) do not decrease, rather they keep us revved up throughout the night and we don’t have the energy to calm them back down.

Modern science has once again proved ancient wisdom by showing milk has certain peptides that lower cortisol and support sleep by 50%. The improvements of sleep are remarkable:

  • Promotes deeper sleep (3)
  • Supports more restorative sleep (3)
  • Provides relaxation at the level needed for sleep (4)
  • Calms anxiety (4)
  • Improves numerous stress markers (5)
  • These peptides further support digestion, emotional state, cognitive function and even cardiovascular function. (6)

Interestingly, these peptides in milk activate GABA receptors.(4) Pharmaceutical drugs that are widely used as sedatives for stress, anxiety, and sleep target these same GABA receptors!(7)

Ojas Building

Even if you sleep well, this night-time tonic will not only upgrade your sleep to be more deep and restful, but also build your Ojas.

Ojas (OH-jas) is considered to be the most refined by-product of digestion, said to reside in the heart. Ayurveda considers ojas to be a bio-celestial substance that is our vital essence.

Our vitality, immunity, vigour, skin, sleep, digestion, spirituality and physical strength are all directly influenced by our reserve of ojas.

Ojas builds our inner silence. It Increases the ability to genetically connect with the circadian rhythms allowing the body to resonate with the rhythms and thrive. If your body is under stress, emergency alarm bells will keep ringing (flight or fight response/sympathetic nervous system) disconnecting you from the genetic ability to hear these rhythms.

Building ojas is an art. Yoga, pranayama breathing exercises, meditation, spending time in nature, sleeping at the right times, laughing, showing love and affection and giving to others, spending time being creative, relaxing, and doing things that make you happy all build ojas.

Perhaps one of the best ways to consistently build ojas is to eat a diet of fresh, unprocessed whole foods in the appropriate season.
Further, there are certain foods and herbs in Ayurveda that are great ojas-builders. These were traditionally blended with warm milk and taken before bed as a sleep aid and an ojas-builder.

Ayurveda’s Super Sleep Recipe:

  • Boil 3/4 cup of unhamogensied cows milk + 3/4 cup of water + 2 strands of saffron + 1 chopped date + 3 crushed and peeled almonds. Boil till it reduces to approximately 1 cup or till it fully foams up.
  • After the milk has boiled. Add:
  • 1/4tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1/2tsp ghee.
  • 1/4 tsp Ashwagandha powder (optional for more ojas building and calming effect)
  • 1/4 tsp Shatavari powder (optional for more ojas building and calming effect)
  • pinch of Ojo or Samadhi (Raju family herbal preparation)
    (Can modify herbs and spices according to season and body constitution).

Sitr well, then drink and enjoy.

When to Drink It:

  • Have between dinner and sleep - approximately 45-60mins after dinner and 45-60mins before bed.
  • You can even make this your dinner.
  • Drink one cup of the golden milk each night for 3 months to rebuild ojas levels and support sleep patterns.
  • You can also have this in the morning approximately 45 minutes before breakfast or make it your breakfast, (good for people who don’t have an appetite in the morning). It is also a great replacement to coffee.

"But I Don’t Do Dairy"

If you are intolerant to dairy, it is probably indigestion, some weakness and/or your mind getting the better over you by 'accepting' the intolerance. Additionally, most milk is difficult to digest because it is unnecessarily homogenised, pasteurised the wrong way, added chemicals, pesticides, preservatives and anti-biotic’s.

However, drink the right milk and correct your agni, and you may find you can slowly introduce this medicinal lactation back into your diet.

Most places you can find milk that is non-homogenised without all these nasty additives. Getting non-pasturised or vat-pasturised, (heated at low temperature for short time), is a bonus, but the main precept is to drink non-homogenised milk. This has become so popular that mainstream supermarkets in Australia and New Zeland are now selling it. Additionally, most health-food stores will have it.

If you are very sensitive to milk, I suggest first correct agni, then slowly introduce dairy by drinking thin Lassi with lunch.

You may substitute substitute coconut or (freshly made) almond milk. Though you won’t get the benefits of the milk peptides, you’ll still have a vehicle for the ojas-building foods and herbs and some calming benefits from the warmth of the milk.

Take this milk to build some resiliency towards the stress that prevents us from sleeping like we should.

It’s tasty, nourishing and a great way to end the day, plus it’ll send you off with the clouds for the night.

 

References

(1) Occup Med (Lond). 2010
(2) The Open Sleep Journal. 2009;2:128-32
(3) J Dairy Sci. 2000 Jun
(4) Ther Umsh. 2009
(5) Eur J Nutr. 2005

 

(6) Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007

(7) FASEB J. 2001

Ayurvedic Porridge (Quick Cooking Time)

Here is a simple, nourishing and nutritious meal that only a takes a few minutes to prepare, and you don't have to be a kitchen wizard to prepare it.

Sweet First

In Ayurveda, sweet is the first taste to start the day and also to start a meal (yep, 'desert' is the first thing you eat in Ayurveda).

After you have fasted for some time, whether it be overnight or in between meals, your hunger = strong agni (digestion and appetite). You need strong agni to digest the sweet taste because it is the heaviest taste (dominant with the earth element).

Further, the sweet taste kick starts the agni and stimulates saliva secretions (Bodhaka Kapha), to prepare your digestion for the meal and/or day ahead. This is why when you finish with sweet (common desert), you keep wanting more... and then you'll begin to feel very "full" and heavy.

Ayurvedic Porridge Ingredients:

  • Oats, coarse semolina, rice flakes or quinoa flakes -  1/3 - 1/2 cup
  • 1 Tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp raw sugar (optional)
  • handful of raisins/sultanas
  • handful of one type of crushed nuts (almonds, macadamia or cashew)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cardamom powder

Method

  1. Put ghee in a pot, let it heat.

  2. Add 1/3 - 1/2 cup of coarse semolina or oats or rice flakes or quinoa flakes etc.
     

  3. Toast (fry) grains in the ghee to infuse ghee into the grains. - this lightens the grains and makes them easier to digest.
     

  4. Add approx. 1-cup of boiling water, stir and cook. - Be aware of porridge splatter, continually stir to avoid lumps and splatter.

  5. Add 1 tsp or tbsp of raw sugar (optional) + handful of raisins + handful of soaked and crushed almonds or cashews (optional for more protein and a filling breakfast) and stir.

  6. Add some cows milk (optional). If adding milk can initially add less boiling water.
  7. Add 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon powder + 1/4-1/2 tsp cardamom powder (cardamom and cinnamon removes morning sluggishness).

  8. Stir a bit more then it is ready!

Makes for 1 person.

Try another type of Ayurvedic Porridge HERE that is assists in weight loss and is yummy for children.

"A sweet start to the day wakes the agni up to say g'day!"

7 Ayurvedic Super Foods

According to modern science, food nutritionists, food industry leaders and dieticians, so called “superfoods” aren’t exactly “super.” Wikipedia describes that “Superfood is a marketing term used to describe foods with supposed health benefits..”

The European Union has even prohibited the marketing of products as “superfoods,” unless accompanied by a specific medical claim supported by credible scientific research.(1)

Not particularly inspiring…so I will redefine the word from an Ayurvedic perspective.

First of all, there is no need to exaggerate that foods are “super.” Whatever one uniquely needs will be their superfood. Additionally, everything is actually superfood if you know how to transform and use it.

In general, for a food to be “super” it must:

1. Promote ‘Sattva’

Sattva is a quality in us that translates to “purity.” If Sattva is increased, then so is our inner stillness, clarity of mind and contentment. Love radiates and flows back to us in abundance, while the hormone oxytocin (also known as the “bonding hormone”) is simultaneously secreting. Fresh, seasonal whole foods are predominately Sattvic, thus increases the Sattvic quality in us based on the Ayurvedic law of “like increases like.”

2. Detox and Heal the Body

Some Ayurvedic foods are prized for their powerful medicinal properties. Ayurveda valuably teaches us how to use food as medicine.

3. Directly nourish ‘Ojas’

Ojas is the vital essence of our body that translates to “vitality.”
A plentiful reserve of Ojas is reflected in the lustre of the eyes and skin (like the glow in a baby), strong physical strength, immunity and libido, good digestion, vigour and spirituality.

'Ojas' is considered to be the most refined product of digestion. Every food must metabolise through all the body’s tissues before it can become Ojas.

Ojas: a bio-celestial liquid substance that (predominately) resides in the heart, as well as all over the body in a less concentrated matter.

Building Ojas is an art. Perhaps one of the best ways to consistently build Ojas is to eat a diet of fresh unprocessed, seasonal whole foods, and have a balanced agni to support the process. A handful of special foods (some listed below) even metabolise to nourish and build Ojas directly.

The Super Seven!

The seven Ayurvedic super foods I have chosen genuinely are super. They aren’t just packed with a dense hit nutrients, minerals and essential constituents, but actually promote and support your bodies natural intelligence to absorb and produce its own required constituents itself! Further, The Super Seven promote strength, immunity, peace and contentment in the body and mind. And best of all, they are readily available to everyone! Here they are…

1. Hot Water

I am about to reveal to you a very special Ayurvedic purification technique that is excellent for eliminating toxins from the body’s system…
It sounds very simple, but you’ll find that is has a powerful influence in purifying and strengthening the gastrointestinal tract, as well as detoxing and rejuvenating the major systems of the body.

All you have to do is sip hot water frequently throughout the day.

Sipping frequently (rather than focusing on quantity) flushes the lymphatic system, softens hardened tissues (just like hot water will soften leather, unlike cold water) and dilates channels and deeply hydrates the body. It also heals and repairs the digestive system.
In a short time you’ll begin to appreciate the soothing and balancing effect of this technique. Once you have gotten used to it, you will look forward to drinking hot water on a frequent basis.

“Hot water is the most superfood.”
~ Dr. J.R. Raju.

 

 

2. Ghee

Ghee is the crown jewel that joins Ayurvedic medicine and Indian cooking. Ghee is clarified or purified butter. With all the lactose components & milk solids removed, no-one is allergic to ghee.
Ghee is light to digest and has the special quality of enkindling Agni and supports fat metabolism. It effectively detoxes the gut and is an effective source of internal lubrication.
This concentrated golden substance is highly Sattvic and directly nourishes Ojas.
Click HERE for more on the benefits of ghee

3. Cows Milk

Dairy has a bad name in the press these days. With people increasingly claiming dairy intolerances, it has become perilous in todays new-age health scene.

Let me clarify two reasons why this has developed:

1. The dairy industry in the west is increasingly producing homogenised milk from poorly treated, stress inundated cows that are being fed grains. Further, the milk is pasteurised the wrong way, with added chemicals, pesticides, preservatives and anti-biotic’s.

2. A lot of kids drink cold homogenised milk with sugar filled processed cereals, and topping it off with some fruit in their bowl or having a glass of OJ on the side – a highly “un-ayurvedic” recipe for an incompatible digestive disaster.

Hence, people develop a dairy intolerance. And it may only hit them down the track. Possibly when they finally begin to tune into their own body and become more conscious.

Let me also add, if you believe and accept the notion that “dairy is bad,” you negatively charge the micro-biome in the foods, stress out your own body and if when you eat dairy with guilt it will not digest well due to lack of harmonious compatibility. Mind is the culprit here.

However, Ayurveda on the other hand prizes dairy as one of the most medicinal and nourishing foods and one of the most anabolic foods that directly builds Ojas. Rest assured, it is not a requirement for anybody to drink milk all the time, but if someone is in need of strength or Ojas, milk is one of Ayurveda’s top choices.

What more, it is a classic Ayurveda sleep remedy to drink boiled milk with spices before bed, also having a profound stress reducing action. Modern science has proved ancient wisdom by showing cows milk has certain peptides that lower cortisol and support sleep by 50%.(2)

Cows are considered sacred animals in India and cow milk is highly revered in Ayurveda as one of the most Sattvic of foods.

Please note: milk should always be boiled with equal amounts of water and un-homogenised and preferably organic. This will make it easier to digest.

If you have difficulty with cow’s milk don’t worry, first correct your agni, then slowly introduce dairy. (Consult an Ayurvedic practitioner). Also, there are six other superfoods on the list to choose from!

 

4. Lassi

Lassi is buttermilk, or diluted yoghurt.

  • Improves digestion and a fantastic pro-biotic.
  • Lassi is the best alkaliser.
  • As Lassi improves digestion and absorption it ultimately supports calcium absorption and bone health.
  • Balances heat (pitta) and clear the physical channels.
  • It is the best remedy (with a pinch of salt) for haemorrhoids and anal fissures.
  • A great food to introduce dairy to a lactose intolerant person after they have corrected their agni.
  • Lassi is very hydrating, and a great drink to have with lunch.

*Yoghurt should be fresh.
Ratios of Yoghurt : Water: 1:4, 1:6, or 1:14.

Lassi recipe here

5. Honey

Honey is super Sattivc and directly nourishes our own life-nectar, Ojas. It is actually more of a medicine than a food. Due to its richness, it should be taken in moderation.

On the other hand, Ayurveda teaches that honey will be poisonous when heated above body temperature (that means no honey in hot teas, hot porridge, cooking with honey etc.) as it perniciously clogs the channels. This is why is it always important to purchase honey that is extracted at low temperatures.

Learn more: Honey: Nectar or Poison

6. Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) is the most thoroughly researched plant on this planet! and i don’t blame the scientists for the 5600 peer-reviewed and published biomedical studies.

Turmeric has a vast catalogue of health benefits, but here is an essential summary on why to use Turmeric as medicine in your daily cooking:

  • It is the best anti-inflammatory.
  • It regulates mood and boosts cognitive function.
  • Protects the gut and stomach lining.
  • Supports joints: (pain, stiffness, swelling, arthritis) and healthy blood.
  • Since turmeric is anti-carcinogenic, it is vital to use when cooking meat due to the high risk of carcinogenic properties in most meat these days.

Turmeric powder is best advised, always with a pinch of black pepper, as black pepper increases the absorption of turmeric by an astonishing 2000%!(3)

Learn More: The Essential Uses of Turmeric

7. Almonds

Almonds are also Sattvic and help to maintain our Ojas. They are a good source of zinc, strengthen the body and grounding for the mind. But they are also quite rich and heavy, so again, moderation is the key. Half a handful of almonds a day is enough. To make them lighter and easier to digest, always soak almonds overnight in water and remove their skins the next day.

If you are in any doubt about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician.

References:
(1)  "Superfood 'ban' comes into effect". BBC News. 2007-06-28.
(2) The Open Sleep Journal. 2009;2:128-32
(3) Research done at St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore, India Planta Med. 1998 May;64 (4):353-6. PMID: 9619120

article originally published on Welcome Earth

Ragi (Finger Millet) Porridge Recipe

What is Ragi?

Ragi, also known as 'finger millet' is a popular cereal grown throughout Africa and Asia. It was introduced to India 4000 years ago and is grown in the Himalayas. It is generally purchased as a very fine pinky/brown flour which can be prepared as breads, dosas, porridges, puddings and cakes. It is an awesome and delicious flour in its own right.

Properties of Ragi (Ayurvedic perspective)

Rasa (Taste): Sweet
Virya (Action): Heating
Vipaka (Post-digestive effect): Sweet
Gunas (Qualities): Dry, Light
Doshas: Balances Kapha, increases Vata and Pitta in excess.

Medicinal Qualities

  • Easy to digest
  • Nourishing
  • Treats high cholesterol, dull agni (digestive fire), diabetes, excess weight, and other excess kapha (mucus/fluid), (All millets have these actions.).

Where do I get it?

Raggi is not common in Australia (yet). You will find it in an Indian Grocery.

Ragi Porridge Recipe

PS. there is no chocolate, I swear, but it is tastier than chocolate, a little like a subtle cacao. The ragi roasted in ghee is what makes it look like melted chocolate.

Gluten Free
Serves 1

Ingredients:

  1. 2-3 tbsp ghee – ragi is quite drying, so will need to use plenty of ghee, vata constituents especially.
  2. 1⁄4 cup raggi flour
  3. 1⁄4 cup un-homogenised organic milk
  4. 1⁄2 cup boiling water
  5. 2 tsp raw/rapadura sugar or jaggery – kapha constitution can have less.
  6. a generous pinch of ground cardamom & ground cinnamon
  7. pinch of slippery elm bark powder (optional to lubricate bowels)
  8. crushed cashews or macadamia nuts or almonds (optional for more protein and to fill one up more)

 

Method:

  1. Melt the ghee in a medium sized pot over low-moderate heat. 

2. Once the ghee is melted and warm, add the raggi flour. 

3. Toast the ragi flour in the ghee for 2-3 mins until the grain turns a deep chocolate colour.

4. Remove the pot from the flame and add all of the milk then all of the boiling water, being careful of any steam or splatter that is created.5. Return the pot to the flame and gently bring to a simmer stirring continuously and vigorously with a whisk to avoid lumps.

6. Add crushed nuts (optional, for more protein).

7. The raggi will thicken suddenly. If it gets too thick, add some more boiling water until the porridge is a thick soupy consistency.

8. Keep simmering for several minutes then add the sugar/jaggery and spices and stir through.


9. Remove from the flame and let it rest for a few minutes. Serve warm.

How I got into Ragi

My friend Nikki was shopping at the Indian grocery and asked me if I wanted anything. I asked her to get me Buckwheat flour so I could make my delicious Buckwheat Pancakesbut since all the flours were labelled in Hindi, she accidentally bought me Ragi. I didn't even know it wasn't buckwheat until I made the pancakes, as they were a lot drier causing me to use load more ghee.

So I researched it on the internet and mostly came across articles saying how good it was for babies. I then came across this lovely recipe from the Mudita Institute in Byron Shire. I have tweaked it a little. It has been my favourite porridge ever since. Thanks Nikki!

This grain is defiantly worth the trip to the Indian grocery! plus you'll find other treasures.

A Sweet start to the day is the nourishing way, and the Agni gently wakes up and in balance, says G'day!

 

Tulsi (Holy Basil) – The Queen of Herbs

Described as the most holy plant on earth in the ancient Vedic texts, Tulsi is still revered today as holier than holy.

For millennia, tulsi has been grown for spiritual purposes in the backyards of most Indian homes. It's branches are carved into beads and worn to enhance spiritual progress. Its fragrance is used to purify temples and the leaves are used in sacred ceremonies to honour God and heighten one’s awareness.

What is not commonly known about the Tulsi plant are its best kept secrets, it’s medicinal value.

It's beneficial properties were originally undiscovered because the plant was so sacred that people wouldn't ingest it out of reverence and respect.

In Ayurveda, this miraculous plant literally heals and links one’s body, mind and spirit.

English name: Holy Basil
Botanical name: Ocimum Sanctum
Also known as: The Queen of Herbs

Adaptogen to Stress

Interestingly, tulsi is both spiritual and medicinal for the same reasons.
Tulsi not only helps protect the body from the degenerative effects of stress but also repairs the body from the damage done.

These are the properties of an adaptogen and tulsi is emerging as one of the world’s finest.

Tulsi treats the body at such a deep level that it steps in before the symptoms arrive, preventing stress from manifesting into disease. There is no doubt that stress is the leading cause of disease and western science is combating this by recommending a daily adaptogen.

Choosing An Adaptogen

While most stress-fighting adaptogens have hidden stimulating properties, few claim the ability to rejuvenate rather than stimulate.

Before choosing your daily adaptogen, take the product before bed. If you cannot sleep after taking it, it may be a stimulant in disguise, (e.g. ginseng) and not a pure enough adaptogen to be taken daily.

Tulsi has rejuvenating properties that boosts energy in the morning and because it is not a stimulant, supports deep restful sleep when taken before bed.

Anti-Bacterial & Anti-Viral

“How can you cure Ebola disease?” someone asked my teacher in a lecture in late 2014, when the largest Ebola epidemic in history was affecting West Africa.

Dr. Padma Raju replied: “Dip Tulsi leaves in hot water and chew, this is what they really need [in Africa] now.”
This is because Tulsi’s specific/special action (“Prabhava’’) is anti-bacterial and anti-viral and that it removes parasites from the gut (“Krimighna”).

Prana & Respiratory Health

This plant is full of Prana. This is why famously it’s principle use is for the respiratory system. Hence, it is great for cough, bronchitis, asthma, immunity and to wane fever.

In Ayurveda, we give Tulsi tea/water as a last resort for a miracle if a disease seems impossible to tackle. We also give it to people before they are about to die to bestow Prana (life-force) in them.

Water Purifier

Tulsi's broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, which includes activity against a range of human and animal pathogens, suggests it can be used as a water purifier. Additionally add a small amount of Nirmali Seeds (Strychnos Potatorum) to purify water.

And the List Goes On...

Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-aging, anti-stress, anti-arthtritic agent, tulsi is good for anything! In addition, tulsi has been reported to lower blood pressure, boost immunity, reduce ulcers, treat allergies, cancer, infertility, diabetes and cholesterol.

Studies have shown that tulsi protects healthy cells from the toxicity of radiation and chemotherapy.

As western science continues its investigation, it will be difficult to find a condition that tulsi will not be helpful in. This is why it is the Queen of herbs.

Fresh Is Best - Capture Full Potency

A lot of the really powerful constituents are mainly in the volatile oils like eugenol and ursolic acid.

Volatile oils means the chemicals dissipate out of the air. So to capture these volatile oils (where the full potency of Tulsi resides), it should be ingested hours after harvest or as a special type of extract.

Fresh usage - Dip fresh leaves in some water and chew or brew in a tea.

Alternative to fresh - You can use it as a critical extract as the volatile oils are saved. Use half the formula of extract, plus half of the whole herb.

It is always important to use whole herbs to receive microbes and enhance biochemical intelligence, so the body can properly absorb the full spectrum of these powerful chemicals and in a safe manner (avoiding side effects).

Where Can I Get Tulsi?

Plants - In Australia, you can buy seeds (germinate them first) or seedling pots from The Herb Store, Beautanicals or Green Friends, or possibly your local local Indian Grocery.

Growing and using your own Tulsi is a very rewarding ritual. They say it really tests you a gardener’s devotion because the plant is SO sensitive to all energies and intentions.

Teas - Tea bags are readily available across the globe, go for the original tulsi, not flavoured. I drink Organic India Tulsi if I can't get fresh.

Properties

  • Rasa (taste): Pungent and Bitter
  • Virya (potency): Hot
  • Vipaka (post digestive effect): Pungent
  • Gunas (quality): Dry and light.
  • Doshas: Balances VPK. Increases pitta in excess.

Tulsi and Amla full moon yagya
photo: offerings to Tulsi part of a ceremony at the renown Raju clinic, Hyderabad, India.

 

Ayurvedic Buckwheat Pancakes Recipe

Here are light and easy to digest pancakes, that are quick and easy to make, and SUPER YUMMY!

Serves 2-3      Gluten Free

  • Good for Kapha, & Pitta body types
  • Seasonality: Good in spring, winter and summer


Ingredients:

  • Buckwheat flour – 1⁄2 cup (a.k.a. "Kuttu flour" in Indian Groceries)
  • Non-homogenized milk – 2 tbsp - (can replace with fresh almond milk or add millet & channa flour to make batter stick). 
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Cinnamon powder – 1⁄2 tsp
  • Cardamom seeds crushed or cardamom powder – 1⁄2 tsp
  • Ghee for frying
  • Fresh coriander, fresh lemon and maple syrup (optional) for garnish.

Method:

 Mix all the ingredients, adding water a little at the time, to make a smooth, runny batter.

Heat tawa or non-stick pan to low heat. Then coat pan with 1-1.5 teaspoons of ghee.

Pour on batter to the size you want & spread to make a 
pancake.

Optional: add chopped coriander on the raw batter and spread to infuse in with batter.

When bubbles start appearing on surface of pancake, spoon 1 teaspoon of ghee around edges (if you didn't start with enough ghee).

Turnover and cook other side, spooning ghee around edges to make crisp.

Serve with fresh lemon juice, fresh coriander and mango chutney or maple syrup.

Comments:

  • Good for those trying to lose weight and diabetes.
  • Good for suffers of I.B.S. & celiac disease.
  • Good for Kapha aggravations such as excess water retention, sinus blockage.
  • Good for grain-free cleanses/fasts.
  • Great for kids, they love it!

Ayurvedic Properties:

  • Rasa (Taste): Astringent, Sweet, Pungent
  • Virya (Energy): Heating
  • Vipaka (Post-Digestive effect): Sweet
  • Gunas (Qualities): Heavy
  • Actions on the doshas: Balances Vata and Kapha, increases Pitta in excess