How to Overcome Food Intolerances

Almonds, a very common food intolerance
Food intolerances have become common currency these days.
Some surveys even suggest that a stunning 25% of the Australian population believes they have at least one food intolerance.
I personally have worked in my clinic with many patients who believed they were intolerant to some type of food, and have now managed - with proper care and the mindful implementation of very simple & straight-forward Ayurvedic principles - to reintroduce said foods in their lives, allowing them to enjoy the treats they had already sworn off a long time ago.
Overcoming food intolerances is possible when you have the proper tools and the right understanding of how digestion & nutrition work.

Factors that increase your susceptivity and reactivity to food intolerances and allergies

Food Quality and Food Transformation (samskara):
For example, one may experience inflammatory reactions after drinking cold homogenised milk extracted from stressed cows. But non-homogenised cows milk, diluted with water, then boiled… this “lightens up” the milk: reduces kapha (mucous creating, congesting qualities), and makes milk more compatible for one to tolerate and enjoy.
Especially if a food item is hard to digest for you or triggers any health implications - those who are wondering how to overcome food intolerances need to obtain quality food and “transform it” the right way, then try & reintroduce.
Poor digestion (low digestive agni):
This is a key factor when it comes to food intolerances.
The agni is the digestive fire in your gut. If the agni is not enlivened enough, you won't be able to digest properly the foods that you eat, especially the ones that your body is "intolerant" to.
In a lot of cases, it is not so much the food you are eating, but the poor function of your metabolic pathways and digestive health that impedes you to properly digest food.
I have worked with coeliacs and many managed to eat wheat again. They don’t eat it every day, but they enjoy this nourishing grain weekly in moderation with the right tools, knowledge and intuition of their own body. They enjoy high-quality wheat cooked fresh, reaction-free.
Those who eat even a tiny amount of onion and garlic and bloat like a balloon…
Those who can’t eat oxalates (e.g. almonds, spinach, peanuts, soy, beetroot, swisschard, rhubarb, cashews, sesame seeds, etc.) without swelling up, getting a runny nose, abdominal discomfort, or itchy skin…
A lot of it can be healed. And from what I have seen, it can be easy as organic ancient grain pie.
The Mind
Another key point.
It’s amusing and fascinating how many times I see patients that only after they get their “allergy prick test”, do they get reactions after eating the foods for which they tested “positive”.

When one unquestionably “accepts” the laundry list of foods they were told to avoid (in some cases, for the rest of their life!) their mind and body accept these “allergies” and reject the food whenever it comes.

Allergy Skin-Prick Tests

For the best part, as a study in the Journal of Paediatrics showed, allergy skin-prick tests are incredibly inaccurate.

One of the problems with them is that, according to another study, patients show skin reactions to allergenic foods in 50-60% of the tests- even if the person is not allergic to that food.

Food sensitivities can be complex, however, they can be healed.
Food Intolerance Skin Prick Test

How to Conquer Food Intolerances & Allergies

There are many variables & possibilities for those wondering how to overcome food intolerances.
My general principle for healing food intolerances is - first fix the digestive fire (agni), then slowly introduce the foods in a methodical way.
Also take into consideration the nervous system, gut-brain connection, toxic exposure & more.
Just eliminating the food is not the solution. You need to fix the underlying imbalance. Because if you cannot digest wheat or milk, how are you going to digest the carcinogenic glyphosate that is being spread across the air and rain onto your organic kale? Or the vaccines and spike proteins that are being passed around. Or the external stressors, electro-magnetic fields & any toxin your body has to metabolise.
It's not a matter of avoidance, but rather of applying the proper principles to reintroduce those foods that you have labeled yourself as "intolerant" or "allergic" to.

If you want to work towards superseding food restrictions and optimise your digestion health, check out my recent online offering: “The Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition”, and/or book an online consultation.
The Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition - Online Course

How did you overcome your food intolerances? Comment 👇


Surya Tarpana: Remedies (Upāyas) to Enliven Sun Energy

Dylan Smith doing Surya Namaskar (salute to the Sun)
Here are some techniques to enliven Sūrya (sun) energy.
You may have been prescribed these “remedies” (Upayas) by a Jyotishi (Vedic astrologer) for your unique birth chart.
The following techniques help strengthen Surya energy and connect to the sun.
Although a lot of these are generic ways to honor the sun that is good for many people, we recommend consulting a quality jyotishi to refine how you personally should be engaging deeply in communion with celestial planetary bodies.

Surya Energy

Surya is the cosmic energy that correlates with:
  • The Self. The Soul
  • Ego, power
  • Consciousness
  • Dignity
  • Organising power
  • Leadership, Government, King - the sun governs the solar system.
Further Jyotish details:
  • Exaltation: Aries (Meesha)
  • Debilitation: Libra (Tūla)
  • Moolatrikona: Leo (Siṃha)
  • Father - relationship with one’s father
  • Education
  • Pitta dosha
  • Cakra: Ajña cakra (third eye)
  • Direction: East
  • Sun in Balance: “Atma Śatki”

Practices / Remedies to Strengthen Surya Energy:

Surya Tarpaṇa

Lord Surya, or Sūrya सूर्य is the cosmic sun.
Tarpaṇa तर्पण has many meanings:
  • Fuel
  • Food
  • Satiating
  • Refreshing
  • Gladdening
  • Saturation
Sūrya Tarpaṇa is the process of imbuing Lord Surya with refreshing nourishment and energetic attention.
Surya Tarpaṇa (Offering Water to Lord Surya) Procedure:
1. Fill a cup or vessel with pure water.
2. Face the sun (sunrise and/or sunset time is ideal).
3. Pour the water in front of the sun and look through the “waterfall” at the sun.
Dylan Smith Doing Tarpana for Lord Surya
4. If you are not performing this in or at a body of water (e.g. riverside, in a river, ocean shore or in the ocean), such as an urban setting, you can pour the water into a pot plant or garden.
5. This practice is best done after taking bath (snān). Traditionally one would bathe in a river first and then offer Tarpana to Surya. This way you are purified and energised before subtly connecting with the sun.
6. Practicing Sūrya Tarpana on Sundays should be prioritised if it is not able to be done daily.
Profound Qualities:
  • The waterfall in between your eyes and the sun is not only a protecting buffer to potentially harmful direct sunlight, but also provides a “healing filter” so the sunlight can invigorate the body and eyes that it hits. Safe and effective “sun-gazing.”
  • This is a form of Surya Namaskar: “honoring the sun” - this creates a reciprocal exchange of energy that absolutely uplifts and energies both our individual self and the essential life-giving aspect of nature.
  • Offering water to the sun cools the sun and invokes Gayatri: the feminine principle of the sun, (in you and in the environment).

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations)

Surya Namaskar has been described as the most complete mental and physical exercise available.
It involves a sequence of twelve physical yoga postures or asanas that are so much more than just an exercise.
Surya Namaskar generates prana (life-force) and charges us up like a battery through solar vitalisation.
It is a medium to enhance the energising quality of the sun in us and in the environment.
Procedure:
Dylan Smith with a Group, doing Surya Namaskar
  1. Learn Surya Namaskar from a quality yoga teacher (consider potential adjustments for your unique physiology).
  2. Perform 1 - 13 rounds of Surya Namaskar while facing the sun. This can be done at anytime, but when done at sunrise and/or sunset, there is greater power.
  3. Star with 1 round daily, and can increase to 3, 7, 9, 12 and 13 as is comfortable.
  4. Avoid Surya Namaskar when yoga asanas are contra-indicated, such as when feeling ill, during menstruation and certain medical conditions etc.

Sun Bathing (Responsibly)

Sunbathing with gratitude for the energy and life force Sūrya gives to you.
Responsible sun-bathing considers the three principles of Ayurveda:
1. Desa (habitat) - Where are you in the world. Are you in Scandinavian summer or the Australian summer?
2. Kala (time period) - What time of the day are you sunbathing? In what season of the year? For how long?
Man sunbathing at the beach
3. Patra (unique individual) - What is your skin type? Are you fair or dark-skinned? How is your tan? How used to the sun are you?
These will determine the amount of sun you should expose yourself to and when to get it.
Start with a little sun and gradually increase day-by-day. Getting a little pink is good but you do not want to burn.
Putting oil on and/or the practice self-abhyanga can help protect you from the sun and metabolise the healing properties.
Ayurveda prizes the time periods near sunrise and sunset to be exposed to the sun.
Do not fear the sun, but connect with this Divine Sentient Being.

Listen to Āditya Hṛdayam (Aditya Hrudayam)

Ādityā Hṛdayam is a Sanskrit devotional hymn dedicated to Lord Surya.
It was recited by the sage Agastya to Rāma (the “perfect” expression of the dharma) on the battlefield before fighting with the demon king Rāvaṇa.
This hymn teaches one to ascend to “defeat” the ultimate “enemy”: the darkest negativity or ignorance in one’s own life.
Āditya आदित्य is one of the names of the sun that expresses the infinite cosmic mother, the divine maternal nurturing aspects of the sun.
Aditi is one of the many names given to the cosmic Mother, Mahaśakti. She is the mother of all expressions of consciousness and the source of creative power.
Hṛdayam ह्र्दयम् has a range of meanings:
  • heart, core, essence, best or dearest part of anything
  • true or divine knowledge
  • science / veda
  • going to the heart
Āditya Hṛdayam is the sounds that sequentially enliven the true divine knowledge which is the heart of Sun energy within the heart of the beneficiary (who chants it).
Best to find Āditya Hṛdayam chanted without music or minimal music.
Procedure:
Simply listen to the Āditya Hṛdayam being chanted while you are in a de-excited state (e.g. after meditation, while resting, while sun-bathing).
Listening to Āditya Hṛdayam on Sundays and on Sūrya Jayanti (Sūryas annual birthday) should be prioritised if it is not able to be done daily.

Fasting on Sundays

Fasting the day when Surya energy is strongest makes one “less heavy” (tamasic), thus more pure (sattvic), therefore increasing our capacity to connect with the subtle energies available on Sunday (Sun energy).
There is a diverse range of approaches to fasting, and it is best to consult your health practitioner on how it is best for you. In our online course, The Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition, we go through the variety of ways you can fast so you can choose the one that is biblically right for you.

Gayatri Mantra

Gayatri mantra is the most commonly used mantra in Yoga.
It consists of primordial sounds that invoke the aspect of the sun that governs transformation and potential illuminating intelligence, called “Savitri”.
Savitri, represents the transformational power inherent in the Sun.
Savitri is the force of nature that changes night into day.
Savitri is dominant in the moments before sunrise, when the environment shifts from darkness (of the ego) into the infinite light of the higher Self.
Chanting inwardly or listening to Gayatri mantra enhances the impulse of Divine Savitri, which activates our power to move into the realm of Divine light.
It is particularly chanted at sunrise, midday and sunset.

These are general recommendations and it is always best to consult a Jyotishi for specific advice.

What practices do you do to honor lord surya? Comment 👇

Siddhis: Supernatural Yogic Capabilities | Eddie Stern #065

Vital Veda Podcast Banner - Siddhis with Eddie Stern
"Siddhis" are extraordinary human capabilities that yogis have been striving to attain for millennia.
And many have been successful, because Siddhis are dormant non-local potentials that exist in every Consciousness state.
A Siddha is one with perfected human capabilities.
One who has sequenced the capabilities of Absolute Totality ("Brahman") to become the perfect (most relevant) expression of “Dharma" (the most evolutionary thing you can be doing in any given moment).
Join Eddie Stern and Ayurvedic practitioner Dylan Smith as they discuss the Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patañjali, one of the most well-known yogic texts that described these mystical "siddhis".

About Our Guest: Eddie Stern

Eddie Stern is a Yoga teacher, author, and lecturer from New York City.

He has been practicing Yoga since 1987, and ran his school in SoHo from 1993-2019.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the school became a focal point for Ashtanga Yoga in New York with an eclectic mix of downtown artists and spiritual seekers practicing and meditating next to well-known personalities such as Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mike D, and Lou Reed, in what was also Manhattan’s first consecrated Ganesh Temple.

Eddie Stern

Eddie has a passion for seeking out diversity in all aspects of his work and uses a multidisciplinary approach of combining technology, scientific research, and collaboration to help further understanding, education, and access to yoga.

He continues to study philosophy, Sanskrit, ritual, science, and religion, as well as maintain a passion for the daily practice Yoga.

Eddie learned Ashtanga yoga under Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and R. Sharath Jois, of Mysore, India.


In this Episode we Discuss:

Eddie's Dinacharya (Daily Routine)

Maharishi Patañjali as a Historical Figure

Very little is known of him as a person. 
He is estimated to have lived around 300/400 C.E. 
He is credited with two major works:
  • The Yoga Sütras - a text on Yoga theory and practice; one of the most important texts in Indian tradition and the foundation of classical yoga. Here he elaborates on the concept of siddhis and how to master them.  
  • The Mahābhāṣya - a text on Sanskrit grammar.
He is believed to be an incarnation of Adi Sesha, the celestial snake on which Lord Vishnu reclines in the cosmic ocean. Ayurvedic sage Caraka is also said to be an incarnation of Adisesha. 
Illustration of Maharishi Patañjali

An Introduction to Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras

The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali are made of 4 chapters (padas) and 196 sutras
A sutra from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras
Sütra (सूत्र) in Sanskrit means “string” or “thread”, or something that is woven or stitched together.
A Sütra is a collection of few words that have been “stitched together” to convey in a very brief and precise manner a theorem or maxim that is incontrovertible in meaning.
They very often need to be explained and “fleshed out” by some sort of commentary in order to be fully and properly assimilated.  
In the Yoga Sutras, Maharishi Patañjali explores, amongst many other things, the different mechanisms by which a Yogi can conquer siddhis

Siddhis: Divine Human Capabilities

Tat Wale Baba, an Indian siddha
Tat Wale Baba, an Indian siddha - aged 85 when this photo was taken
Siddhi (सिद्धि), means supreme fulfillment & accomplishment. 
Siddhis are divine human capabilities that can be enlivened by a Yogi/Yogini’s advancement through different sadhanas (spiritual exercises).
  • By means of spiritual practice, the Yogi/Yogini eventually achieves a state where supra-normal abilities become at his/her disposal, it is then that they become a Siddha (one with perfected human capabilities).  
Samyama (संयम) meaning to tie together, integrate or bind; is the combined and simultaneous practice of Dhāraṇā (intention/concentration), Dhyāna (meditation) and Samādhi (union). 
  • By means of dhāraṇā, one puts intent and focus on one of the siddhis, by means of dhyāna one manifests it into a transcendent state of being, and finally, by achieving samādhi the siddhi is allowed to be integrated and unified with the relative field.

Patañjali Yoga Sutra's - Overview

First Chapter - Samadhi Pada
The first chapter of the Yoga Sutras explores the different types of samadhi, of which there are 8 types listed.

Second Chapter - Sadhana Pada
In the second chapter, Patañjali discusses Kriya Yoga (क्रिया योग).
Kriya” loosely translates as “frictionless action” or “action which does not bind”. Kriya Yoga is the active aspect of Yoga
  • There are three components to Kriyayoga: tapas (asceticism), svadhyaya (recitation) & ishvara pranidhana (devotion to the lord). 
  • Kriya Yoga was revived in modern times by Mahavatar Babaji (also known as “The deathless Yogi”), his sishya (student) - Lahiri Mahasaya - and eventually brought to international awareness by Paramahamsa Yogananda in his widely renowned book “Autobiography of a Yogi”.
Mahavatar Babaji, and Indian Yogi who conquered Sindhis and death itself
Mahavatar Babaji (a.k.a. "The Deathless Yogi")
The 5 first limbs of ashtanga yoga are also discussed - the bahiranga sadhana (the external limbs).
  • Yama - the five yamas are personal virtues one has towards the external (society & all living beings)
  • Niyama - the five niyamas are observances that allow one to transcend the external
  • Asana - postures that allow one to be still and comfortable (this is what is commonly known as Yoga in the west)
  • Pranayama - regulation of breath or prana (life-force). 
  • Pratyahara - withdrawal of the senses that allows one to connect with the inner self. 
All of these are considered sadhanas or practices that we can do to achieve the highest states of consciousness
Chapter Three - Vibhuti Pada
Vibhuti means “perfection”. 
The last 3 limbs of ashtanga yoga are discussed here - the antaranga sadhana (the internal limbs). 
  • Dharana - concentration or awareness that is intentionally directed in one direction in an undisturbed manner - usually mantras are chanted and act as the active focus of that awareness.
      • Just like when one places a cup on a table. It is the table that holds the cup up, the cup doesn’t hold itself. In the same manner the Yogi rests its awareness on the object so that the awareness can rest there, immovable. 
  • Dhyana - concentration or awareness that is directed towards one’s inner self; Commonly referred to as “meditation”. A mantra is also used, but it will eventually fade away until a state of transcendence is all that is left. 
  • Samadhi - cosmic consciousness is achieved, the idea of the meditator as an entity completely disappears & all that is left in consciousness is the object that is being meditated on (totality). 
      • The different levels of samadhi are discussed back in chapter 1. 
Samyama is the capacity to direct that tripartite process towards different objects of the world, and in doing so you learn something about the nature of those objects. 
  • Their inner nature is revealed to you, because the chosen object entirely fills your awareness. You take on the defining characteristic of any object in your field of consciousness and allow it to be the only thing that exists there. 
Chapter Four - Kaivalya Pada
Kaivalya means "solitude" or "detachment" in Sanskrit. 
This chapter refers to the isolation of purusha from prakṛti - consciousness from nature -, and therefore the liberation from rebirth and freedom from suffering (moksha).

“Siddhis can be useful because they can help you to understand nature to its finest characteristics. But in the end, the highest siddhi that you can attain is the ability to discern the distinction between nature and consciousness - between prakriti and purusha. When you have that final discernment you are free from the bondage of nature and the suffering which goes along with it.”

Prana, Nadis & The Subtle Physiology of Yoga

Nāḍī (नाडी) in Sanskrit means “channel”
The Nāḍīs are the pathways through which prana (life-force) flows. These channels converge at special points in the body, the chakras. 
Prana” etymologically means “that which causes things to move”; and it’s the life force that animates and coordinates everything, not only within the body but on a cosmic level - everything is constantly moving, some things do so in a more subtle way than others. 
Diagram of the 3 main nadis & the chakras
By becoming aware of the prana that flows within us - and enhancing as well as directing its flow with different yogic practices - one is able to invigorate the body & mind while also opening the door to higher states of consciousness. 
In Pranamayakosha, the energy body there are 72.000 Nāḍīs; yet, these 72.000 mainly spring from three basic nadis: ida, pingala and sushumna.
There are two holes on the sides of the spine which are like conduit pipes for all the nerves to pass - these two holes are ida and pingala
  • Ida represents feminine energy while Pingala represents masculine energy. That is the basic duality of humans, also known as the shiva shakti in vedic tradition.
      • Finding an energetic balance between ida and pingala allows one to flow through life more effortlessly. 
  • Sushumna, the centerpiece of the spine, is attribute-less (meaning beyond duality) and remains mainly dormant.
    • When one manages to direct energies to the sushumna it is said that one achieves the supreme state of vairagya (which translates as “that which is colorless or transparent”).
All the nadis in the energy body
Illustration of all the Nāḍīs in the Pranamayakosha (energy body)
        • Vairagya is a state of inner balance that grants one the capacity to remain utterly unattached, with an infinite capacity to adapt and remain completely unprejudiced to everything no matter the situation one is in.   
        • "Transparent" in the sense that one holds on to nothing.

Siddhis When Put Into Practice

The breathing in and out of air is prana coming and going, and that means that he/she who is breathing is still living in duality - with duality come all the pairs of opposites imaginable: inhalation & exhalation, desire & aversion, success & failure, pleasure & pain, happiness & sadness, etc. 
  • But when a Yogi goes into states of higher levels of consciousness, where duality is transcended, the breathing in and out starts to cease; and when the breathing stops coming out of the nostrils but the body remains alive, the breathing is said to be occurring in Sushumna Nāḍī - the central column.
      • Then aging & thinking stop, and unity consciousness is all that is left, the Yogi as a separate entity ceases to be experienced within his/her own consciousness.
Humans have what are called Central Pattern Generators (CPG) which exist in the spine. These generators drive and maintain certain behaviors in the body such as respiratory rhythms. 
  • The theory is that when inhalation and exhalation cease to exist but the body continues to live, it is because these CPGs are still propagating these impulses of respiratory rhythms inside the spinal column, and that is the reason Sushumna Nāḍī is also called “Internal Breathing” - since the breath only occurs internally in the spine. 
There is also the theory that humans hold all sorts of dormant cells within our bodies, hibernation cells being one type (which for example bears use).
  • Very advanced Yogis manage to awaken and control these dormant cells during extended periods of deep samadhi & meditation and they can slow down the metabolic needs of the body to almost zero
  • Some Yogis are known to not eat any food or drink anything for several years and still live - their mastery over their metabolism is how they manage to do this. 
Mahananda Siddha
Mahananda Siddha
    • This is a siddhi called Kantha Kupe, which translates to hollowness/space of the throat & freedom from all behaviors motivated by fear or survival. 
    • Dylan personally met in India a yogi called Mahananda Siddha, who hasn’t eaten or drank anything in nearly two decades since Shiva came before him and gave him the gift to live 500 years.
      • He lays in fire every morning to receive Prana and the Amrita flows from his mouth to feed his body.
      • Mahananda Siddha is the 19th Siddha in India.
    • Dr. Robert Svoboda's (guest on ep. #062) Guru, Jatala Sadhu Ram Vishwambar Das,  was believed to have lived for over 400 years.
      • Dr. Svoboda explained that Jatala Sadhu didn't eat any food other than Tobacco, and that he performed inner alchemy to turn that "poison" into Amrita (nectar).
    • Another example of a woman saint who has attained siddhis is Sri Sri Sri Mahayogini Manikeshwari Matha.
      • She doesn't eat or drink and is believed to have attained the astha-siddhis (anima, mahima, garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, isatva and vasitva).

Resources

More on the three Nadis HERE

Sadhguru on the three Nadis HERE

-

Eddie's Instagram Account HERE

Eddie's and Deepak Chopra's "Yoga For Enlightenment" Youtube Series HERE

Eddie's Website HERE

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Please seek advice from a qualified practitioner before starting any new health practice.


Guru Purnima (The Brightest Moon of the Year)

Guru Purnima, Full Moon
When the pleasantly cooling and Ojas-increasing moon (Soma सोम / Chandra चन्द्र) is closer to the Earth and at its fullest (pūrṇimā पूर्णिमा) and brightest, hence, effectively removing darkness (guru गुरु) on many levels.
This full moon falls this year on July 23rd. Guru Purnima next year will fall on the 13th of July and for 2023 on the 3rd of July.
This full moon day and night is when “Guru consciousness” is at its strongest. Thus, a day to honor everyone and everything in your life that removes darkness (ignorance), and awakens wisdom in you which causes your inner light to radiate.
Although it’s in the northern hemisphere where the moon reflects the most amount of sun, on Guru Purnima the whole earth experiences this huge amount of “light energy” at its fullest.
Those who reside under the brightest moon of the year (Purnima) are imbued with increased sweet vitality and radiant creative energy. 
The word guru in Sanskrit means “heavy”. The Guru acts like a heavyweight.
Chandra Deva (Moon Deity)
Chandra / Soma Deva
The Guru is so experienced, knowledgeable and established in Being that they can provide wise guidance to the pupil/worthy receptor (śiṣya शिष्य ) in Any aspect of life. I say Any because Guru (seems to) always have an answer.
If Guru doesn’t have much of an answer, Guru will spontaneously answer in a highly relevant, appropriate and impressive way that supports the need of the time and the śiṣya’s (pupil’s) journey.
As the śiṣya evolves on their spiritual path, they connect more with “spirit”. They become more subtle and less gross, more air and space element and less earth element, more light and less dense.
The Guru’s role here is to stabilise. Maintain an anchor as the śiṣya undergoes purification, cosmic illumination, kundalini (energetic) magnification and all sorts of abnormal body sensations and mind alterations.
You don’t have to have a personal “Guru” to honor, worship, or thank this Guru Purnima.

On Guru Purnima you can honor anyone or anything that has taught you something that you value, or has removed some ignorance from your life. You can even have a guru and have never met them before!

Guru is he/she who connects you to cosmic intelligence, and also Guru is that supreme cosmic intelligence itself.

This is the time of year in Jyotish (Vedic Astrology) to honor Guru consciousness that is personifying through individuals or things.
The moon is completely unobstructed by the earth - so the moon can express himself completely, in fullness, heightening emotions on earth and allowing hearts to open easier.

Auspicious Activities to engage with on Guru Purnima

You can honor in gratitude; directly or indirectly. Some things you can do on Guru Purnima are: sharing of music, love and friendships, meditation, japa (chant), being extroverted, expressing yourself, watching the moon and bathing in its nectar. 
A Puja (पूजा) ceremony, to celebrate and honor your Gurus and their lineage, is also very auspicious and in alignment with this blessed date. 
In doing so, you’ll reciprocally receive blessings, boons and energy for you to pleasantly and elegantly radiate like the full moon. 

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on Guru Purnima

“Guru Purnima is the day of infinite correlation. It is a day of supreme knowledge; it is a day of Brahman; it is the day of Guru; Guru Purnima, the fullness of Guru Dev, the fullness of the element of Guru, the fullness of pure knowledge. Guru is the expression of enlightenment, pure knowledge, the field of all possibilities, the field of infinite correlation. In that supreme awakening, in that supreme awareness, in the state of supreme knowledge we have wholeness of life, absolute value of being, pure infinity, pure eternity, pure immortality.

Guru Purnima day is structured in pure knowledge. It comes year after year to bring the awakening of the totality of life. It unfolds the full potential of knowledge and brings to fulfillment the master-disciple relationship. It is the master-disciple relationship, and that expresses itself in its totality: Full potential of all possibilities. It is a very special day. It’s a very special day for us.” – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi


How do/will you honor Guru Purnima? Comment 👇

Natural Remedies for Anxiety and Depression

Hand reaching for the sky

ANTIDEPRESSANTS may stop us from feeling unhappy, anxious or depressed but that doesn’t mean we then feel happy, radiant and fulfilled.

We just stop feeling. 

We stop feeling into our natural enthusiasm to have shared experiences with other people and other things (Love).
We stop feeling our desire to fulfil the need of the time and the needs of others (Dharma).
We stop feeling gratitude and even awareness for the beauty that permeates every single corner of life (Appreciation).
It’s no secret that anti-depressants inhibit our sex drive.
Through the alteration in cortisol and other hormones, antidepressants not only inhibit our ability to experience love, happiness and fulfilment but also weaken our immunity, making us more vulnerable to nasty diseases.
Natural Remedies for Anxiety and Depression
On the bright side, antidepressants can be life-saving medications in emergency situations.
They have an ability to provide a window of time and space for a person to put their life back together. Note this is short term, and too many people “stretch” this window of opportunity and become dependent and habituated to them
In recent years, the most prevalent mental illnesses in Australia have become Depression and Anxiety, and during the COVID-19 pandemic cases have risen exponentially worldwide.  Here at Vital Veda we have received many enquiries regarding natural remedies for anxiety and depression hence this article.
At Vital Veda, we never advise anyone to go off any medications if you are already taking any. 
We aim to make you feel better mentally, then only under the guidance of your doctor may you gradually wean off the medications if that is necessary for you.

Natural ways to Treat Anxiety and Depression

According to Ayurveda, there are a variety of natural remedies for anxiety and depression. 

At Vital Veda, we explore a variety of all-natural solutions to assist people in healing anxiety and depression without the need for antidepressants.

Here are just a few things to look at and consider.

Woman Meditating on a dock

Meditate

Meditation will quickly allow for your mind to slow down, de-excite itself and achieve a state of inner calm.
Although there are several meditation techniques, Vedic Meditation is the one we recommend the most, due to its high effectiveness and how easy it is to actually learn it.
You can find a Vedic Meditation teacher close to you by clicking HERE and scrolling down to “Vedic Meditation”.

Self-Abhyanga Massage

A daily Abhyanga practice restores the balance of all biological agents, pacifies the nervous system and enhances well-being & longevity.
Your skin is your largest organ, plus it has more nerve endings than any other part of your body. So when you anoint oil on those nerve endings and massage them, it helps ground and strengthen the nervous system.

Find a full Abhyanga Massage guide HERE & Abhyanga Massage Oils HERE

Sunrise in Nepal

Wake up with the sun and go to sleep before 10pm

Waking up early in the day increases Sattva. This is the factor for purity, lightness of being and radiance in one's life. When Sattva dominates, tamas (inertia) which is the quality which leads to depression, diminishes.
When light shines, the darkness diminishes. Feed the light, and the darkness will starve itself out. 

Optimise your sleep

Many of the chemical imbalances that afflict the brain (which naturally often lead to depression, anxiety and stress) are caused by a lack of optimum sleep. Optimizing your sleep will allow for your brain to be rested and to remain strong. 

The lack of optimum sleep has many other consequences that go beyond these three conditions, but if you are trying to address these three, sleep can not be ignored.

Fresh food cooked with love.

Fresh food is full of Prana (life-force). This helps provide positivity in life (Sattva). Left over food, frozen food or microwaved food is tamas (inertia). It is dull, has a low value of Prana and therefore makes you feel low in life.

Herbs

Samadhi

Samadhi opens the physical channels and enlivens wholeness (unity) in the mind and body. It is particularly useful for those afflicted with mental stress, tension and anxiety.
It is also helpful for restoring calm during any stressful situation, including performance anxiety. It also balances Prana Vata (movement in head, central nervous system and life-force regulator).

Manasolassa Vati

It enhances mind-body coordination and connection. Helps pacify overactive and thinking minds, therefore assisting in cases where lack of sleep and insomnia are present. Helps with depression and is useful to transition off pharmaceutical antidepressants.

Drakshadi Kashayam

This nourishing tonic strengthens and stabilises the mind and body. Helps in nervous system disorders, depression, tiredness, dizziness, anxiety and schizophrenia. It is also helpful in the treatment of alcoholism and hangovers. 

Schedule a consultation

Dylan Smith (the head Ayurvedic practitioner here at Vital Veda) can help rectify the root cause of your ailment and liberate the mind and emotions so you can experience a radiant mind and participate in the richness of life.
Click HERE to schedule an online or in-person consultation. 
Have you had experiences with antidepressants and/or natural remedies for anxiety and depression? Comment below 👇

Foraging and Curing Olives

Olive tree

Season (Kala)

As we exit the northern solstice, “Uttarayana,” which is heat dominant (Agneya)  , and transition into the southern solstice, Daksinayana, cooling and moon dominate (Saumya), here in Australia, the earth moves a little more away from the sun in the southward direction.
Seasonal transition (RtuSandhi ऋतुसन्धि) is a significant event in Ayurveda. Not adapting to the outer environment and supporting your biological changes which vulnerably occur at this sandhi (transition) time is considered one of the significant causes of disease.
So that is why in the Vedic culture, 9 nights are designated at these times of transition. These nine nights (Navratri) are provided to go more inward (opportunity for enhanced spiritual connection), eating less or some types of fasting so your cellular energy can be utilised on other biological functions than predominately digestion, and eating certain foods and herbs to assist with this transition.
Here in Australia at this time of year (around late April), nature provides olives. Ripe and ready on the tree to be brined and cured.
Olives being fermented and rich in Lactrobacillus bacteria have the action of sparking up the digestive fire (deepena karma).
This naturally aligns with nature because by the time these olives are cured and ready to eat, it’s winter, and the digestive fire is stronger as it huddles in to keep the body warm and digest higher protein and fatty foods to keep us insulated as we hibernate through winter.
Olives have a delicious abundance of monounsaturated fat. This coupled with biophenol anti-oxidants, helps regulate cholesterol by preventing the bad cholesterol in the arterial walls and supporting the good cholesterol for heart, brain and hormonal health.
Dylan Smith harvesting wild olives
Overall inflammation is reduced in the body by the phenolic compounds in olives when they are had in moderation
However, olives are quite salty and heating. So make sure to consume them in condiment sizes and eat them seasonally - in winter. Pitta types   should eat less of them as they can increase this fire which may manifest as skin diseases, acne, irritable bowel syndrome, hyperacidity and anger/irritability.  
So my fellow Australians and those around the world who are reading this or saving it for when your season comes, look for some wild or generous olive trees and have a go at curing them…

Brine and Cure Method

Brine cured olives are absolutely delicious!
The basic principle of curing olives is that you are using water and salt to extract the glycoside from them - the chemical which makes olives very bitter when picked. Then you are left with sweeter, bitter, salty tasty fruits.
  1. Soak olives in water - Put your olives in a bowl or esky or drum of pure room temperature water. (It is good to have a tap as you will be draining the water and refilling regularly). Or you can sit your olives in a strainer in a bowl of water for easy removal and water change.
  2. Cover the vessel and leave for two days.
  3. After two days, empty the water and refill with new water.
  4. Repeat this process for about 14 days total. (If you forget about your olives for an extra day or two, that is fine).
Brine Cured Olives
Now it’s time to brine…
  1. In a big jar mix 1L of pure warm-hot water with 100gm of salt non-idolised good quality salt. Warm-hot water is used so that the salt can dissolve evenly throughout the water.
  2. Note you can make 5L or 20L of brine (highly concentrated salty water). Whatever you want. Just ensure the water to salt ratio is 10:1 (10% salt). So if you are doing 5L of water, add 500gm salt.
  3. Once the jar of salt water is cooled to room temperate, add your olives in until they reach the top of the jar. It is good to squish them down tightly in. They should be fully submerged under the brine. To achieve this, add a small plate or some big flat rocks to weigh the olives down.
  4. Keep your jar of olives in a dark place with a stable temperature (like a pantry).
  5. How much time to brine? -  This depends on the size of olives, the ripeness, how long you did the water stage for (if at all, you don’t have to do this stage but it makes the olives tastier and smoother), how salty you like your olives .
  6. Taste your olives after they’ve been in the brine for 2 months and get to know the taste of brining olives. This can take 4-12 months for them to be ready.
  7. After the brine stage - When they are ready, you should strain the brine (this will be very bitter).
  8. Then store your olives by adding them into a new brine (this lasts for up to 6 months), in olive oil or in 50:50 vinegar and water solution.
  9. Add herbs and spices like rosemary, fennel and lemon slices is good to add at this into the jar for the storage phase until you eat them all.
  10. Enjoy your very own brine cured olives!
Have you ever brine cured olives? How do you use olives in your cooking? Comment below 👇
Olive brining recipe adopted from @milkwood

Related Reading: Foraging & Eating Seaweed ~ Australian Golden Kelp


Poem to Tulsi (Holy Basil) – The Holiest of Herbs

Dylan Smith next to a Tulsi Plant

Sri Tulsi
They say you are the Queen of herbs,
and no doubt thou shall see, that therapeutically.

My dear Holy Basil, you are far more than a queen. You are mother divine whose pungent and bitter leaves shine.

Your shakti (power) provides infinite adaptability. In times of stress, your ability to balance hormones marks my nervous system tremendously impressed.

O what a nourishing caress I feel in my chest when I sip tea invigorated with your potent Prana packed leaves. It’s those powerful volatile oils that spoils toxins that attempt to coil in the soil of my respiratory tract.
My lungs smile when we make eye contact.

Dear Ocinum sanctum, you bring glory to each and every one of my atoms.
For your speciality is to avert, any bacteria or virus that becomes a virulent jerk.
You even purify water. In times when clean structured water is repelled, you help intra-cellularly hydrate our dry thirsty cells.

You reduce inflammation, gift my taste buds with delicious sensations, provide mental alertness for optimum concentration, counter harmful electro-magnetic radiations and boost my immune system’s core foundation.

My dear Sri Tulsi.
It is now winter time and now more than ever I want you to be mine. I will surrender to you and honour you. Then offer you to my cup of hot water, and then into my agni ? .

Sri Tulsi Devi, considered by the Vedas as the most holy plant of earth, I hope every one else gets to experience your supreme medicinal worth.


Where to Get Tulsi

  • Reach out on The Vital Veda Facebook Community to see if anyone near you has a cutting they can share.
  • Try your local Indian grocery store for a tulsi seedling.
  • Try gumtree or ebay.
  • In Australia, Beautanicals may have tusli seedlings.

Organic India is a wonderful brand that not only produces high quality organic tulsi, but they also regenerate Ayurvedic agriculture, village communities and protect endangered herbs.

Discount code: VITALVEDA

Dylan Smith next to a Tulsi plant

Did you ever try to grow your own tulsi? What has your relationship with this mystical herb been like? Comment 👇

Related Article: Nangali ~ Devotional Poem to an Indigenous Australian Ancient Mountain

Optimal Intake of Prana (Life-Force) ~ Ayurvedic Anatomy and Physiology

Dylan Smith doing Pranayam (movement of Prana) while sitting in a rock on a river
The movement of air element Prana Vayu [life-force] located near the Nahbi (umbillicus), moves upward to the hrdaya (heart) and comes out of the throat to drink the VishnuPadAmrta ("nectar of the atmosphere” / oxygen), and haven partaken it moves quickly inside to enliven the entire body and kindle the Agni (digestive fire). 
Sarngadhara Samhita, Ch 5, (47-51)

As fundamental as this physiological phenomena of intaking prana (life-force/oxygen) may seem, not everyone is doing it right. Everyone alive is certainly doing it (breathing), and doing so involuntarily, but a lot of people are not intaking a sufficient amount of quality Prana. This is due to blockages and “ama” (thick undigested materials) throughout the body.

Low and poor quality Prana can be a contributing factor to:

  • Migraines
  • Stroke
  • Eye diseases
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • "Mental tamas” (inertia)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Auto-immune disorders
  • Neuro-degenerative diseases
  • Cognitive decline
  • ADHD
  • Infertility

Just to name a fair few. 

But as the above shlohka (hymn/quote) from the famous ancient Ayurvedic treatise “Sarngadhara Samhita” says, it starts with “Nahbi”: Your Navel, the home of all connections which encompasses all the channels and current layout of your body. The home of the Enteric Nervous System (the largest nerve plexus) and your Svadhisthana (Sacral) Chakra.

As fundamental as this physiological phenomena of intaking prana (life-force/oxygen) may seem, not everyone is doing it right. Everyone alive is certainly doing it (breathing), and doing so involuntarily, but a lot of people are not intaking a sufficient amount of quality Prana. This is due to blockages and “ama” (thick undigested materials) throughout the body.

Here are a few ways to optimise Prana

Nasya

Inhale oil up the nose followed by alternate nostril breathing technique (Nadi Shodana Pranayama) for 5-10mins, 1-3x/day. 

Healthy Digestion

Healthy digestion = clear alimentary tract for Prana to sufficiently nourish. Contact me to arrange a phone consultation to optimise your digestion.

Bush Walk

Supersede the pandemic of Nature-Deficit Disorder and get Prana at the same time.

Herbs

Certain herbal rasayanas (elixirs) invigorate you with Prana + clear and re-activate bodily channels for Prana intake.

Chakra Basti Treatment

Hot medicated oil is kept over the navel, home to the Enteric Nervous System (the largest nerve plexus in the body) and your Svadhisthana (Sacral) or Nabhi Chakra.

Chakra Basti:

  • Balances the nervous system.
  • Increases immunity.
  • Nourishes and rebuilds your energy center.
Chakra Basti by Vital Veda

The Power of Hanuman: Accessing The Superman Within You

Illustration of Hanuman, a Vedic god

While I will share with you the beautiful mythological story of Hanuman, the deeper significance and intended outcomes you can experience from this tale will also be shared.

The Actual Purpose of Mythology

The Gods and Goddesses of Indian “Mythology” are symbols of states of consciousness. Usually states of higher and expanded consciousness which are told in a legendary format. The sequence of the story (legend) triggers a “eureka” experience. This connects oneself with the larger universe, usually experienced in an abstract fashion.

Myth is the story in the collective imagination that explains the infinite mystery of our existence.

Story Of Hanuman

It is told that as a child, Hanuman rose to the skies to catch the sun, thinking that it was a bright and delicious fruit, and wanted to eat it. He rose up to the skies in the direction of the sun to grab that substance and swallow it.

Indra, the ruler of the heavens, was startled at this adventure of a mortal trying to ascend to the heavens and grab the solar orb, so he gave such a blow on the chin of this little boy with his weapon called Vajra (disc) and Hanuman fell down unconscious.

Hanuman’s father, Vayu (wind god) got annoyed at this.

“My son has been treated so badly by these gods…I shall teach these fellows a lesson.” Vayu, the wind god, withdrew himself from all parts, and everyone stopped breathing. Nobody could breathe. There was suffocation and agony everywhere, and even the celestials ran to Brahma (the Creator): “There is some terrific suffering. This wind is very angry. Please go and give him blessing.”

Brahma then blessed Hanuman - “No weapon can hurt this child. Not even the five elements can harm him. Not even celestial missiles except my own Brahmastra can have any effect on him…he shall be invincible and no one can stand before him.”

Hanuman is the Aspect of Consciousness (in everyone and everything) which encompasses:

Cosmic Vayu (Air) manifests into Prana (Life-force)

Not just our physical prana but the prana of our mind and all the vibratory forces in the universe.

Vayu manifests as technological information (data, calculations, communications), light, or electrical force.

Cosmic Vayu links us to the cosmic mind that aligns all minds together in an interconnected network of thought. Hanuman is the most wise and observant. A master who decisively discriminates between the intellect (buddhi) and the inner intelligence (purusha) to reveal the highest truth.

This prana manifests when you connect to the unlimited potentials within us. 

Mastering the Dynamic Power of Yoga

Cosmic Vayu gives flexibility of body, unbounded vitality, stout-hearted will power, motivation and dynamic mind capacity.

Tapping into Hanuman consciousness grants certain yoga siddhis (dormant non-local potentials of perfected human-capabilities that exist in every consciousness). Capabilities like movement, extraordinary perceptivity and mastery of the senses and cosmic energies.

Our highest prana merges with immortal Prana. Dedicate ourselves as Hanuman to Rama, to offer our mortality or temporal existence to the immortal and infinite.

Cosmic Vayu Attunes One to Live in Harmony with Nature

Vayu governs the creation and equilibrium of nature and the universe as a whole.

As the wind blows, so the clouds move and rain.

Vayu moves the sun and moon, which govern the earth through gravity. Cosmic Vayu actually creates galaxies (through smoke clouds).

Hanuman is the conduit of the power of Rama: universal Self who orchestrates all nature. This is true bhakti (devotion).

Incredible Strength

Self-power (Atma Shakti) to realise our higher potential and accomplish what is supernatural and transformational. Fearlessness, self-confidence, daring and boldness to attempt the impossible and succeed.

Established in the field of transcendence, then we can playfully interact with all the energies across the vast layers of the universe.

Access your deeper cosmic energy and Become Hanuman.

Credits:

Bibliography: American Institute of Vedic Studies, David Frawley.
Feature photo: Art by MTM Nataraja
other art: unknown, but thank you.

Related Reading: The Power of Mother Divine and “Navaratri” and How to Access Its Regenerative Energy


Neem (Azadirachta indica) – Benefits and Uses

Benefits of Neem according to Ayurveda:

Skin Health
Known as the “Queen of the Skin,” Neem’s contribution in topical and internal support for skincare is one of Neem’s greatest glories. The calming, cooling and anti-inflammatory properties pacifies heat, redness, itchiness and all skin diseases. Apply a neem paste topically for skin diseases (see recipe below).

First-Aid
The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal composition makes it a valuable first-aid tool not only to clean and disinfect wounds but also heal them. Keep a bottle of neem oil handy while camping.

Mosquito Repellantneem-mosquto
Lice and fleas aren’t the only pests that Neem repels. Keeping a bunch of neem leaves at the entry of a home is common in India to keep mosquitos out and purify the atmosphere.

High Prana
This may be new news to you, but most trees emit oxygen only in the day while at night they solely emit C02. There are only a handful of trees that emit oxygen 24/7. Neem is one of them.

Digestive Support
Neem with a high chlorophyll content and an action that kills bad bacteria makes Neem an awesome pro-biotic. Neem also balances acidity.

Oral Health
High chlorophyll also gets rid of foul odours such as bad breath and is commonly used in toothpastes and neem twigs themselves are used as toothbrushes.

 

One end of a neem twig is made like a brush by chewing it. Then one should brush their teeth.

More benefits...

Neem also is an effective blood and liver purifier, it helps reduce fever , diabetes and poisoning.

Ayurvedic Properties:

Taste (Rasa): Bitter, Astringent
Energy (Virya): Cooling
Post-Digestive Effect (Vipaka): Pungent
Qualities (Guna): Light, Dry

How to Make a Neem Paste (Topical Skin Application)

  1. Harvest neem leaves. If this is unavailable dry neem leaves or neem powder will do.
  2. Add 1 tsp of turmeric powder.
  3. Add 1 tea-spoon of salt – for excess fat (meda dhatu) or sluggish lymph.
  4. Mix this with 3/4 cup of yoghurt. Mix well then apply on body.

Contact me to order a Neem Paste preparation and if you’re in Sydney visit The Medicine Man for neem oil or powder (he ships within Australia).

Growing a neem tree in Sydney is challenging, but it's coming up slowly.

 

Related Reading: Tulsi (Holy Basil) – The Queen of Herbs

Did you know about the many benefits and uses Ayurveda has found for the neem plant? Comment 👇