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Massage has been used for centuries as a therapeutic tool for various ailments, injuries, and athletic recovery.  Abhyanga, the Ayurvedic practice of self-massage is a self-care ritual that supports the healing of inner and outer ailments the body might express. When pain or inflammation arises, it is often a call from our body that we need relaxation and self-healing. Self-Massage moves energy through the body which helps to clear the lymph system, relax muscles, and alleviate trapped emotion initiating a deeper connection to self.

Some of the many health benefits of abhyanga massage include: an increase in muscle tone and circulation, an increase in bowel regularity, calming of the nervous system and improvement in quality of sleep. Below you will find a sequence to start your Abhyanga practice.

Start with the head:  Pour a tablespoon of warm oil on your scalp.  Using the flat of your hand, not the fingertips, massage the oil in vigorously all over.  Cover your entire scalp with small circular strokes, as if you were shampooing, and adding a little oil as desired.  It is not necessary to soak your hair with oil.

Move to your face and ears, massaging more gently:  Gentle circles on the temples and backs of the ears is especially good for settling vata dosha.  Circle temples, cheeks. Stroke across upper lip and chin. Stroke across forehead.

Apply a small amount of warm oil to your entire body and then proceed with the abhyanga to each area.  This will allow the oil to have maximum amount of time in contact with your body.

Neck:  Massage back and forth and up and down the front and back of your neck, including the upper part of the spine (be gentle over the windpipe).

Arms – Hands:  Massage somewhat vigorously, using a circular motion at the shoulders and elbows and long, back and forth (or up/down) motions on the long muscles.  Massage back and forth on the palm and back of your hand and gently pull each finger.

Chest – Abdomen:  Make circles on the chest with both hands over pectoral muscles and gently sweep larger circles around the sides of breasts, and paddling towards nipples around them.  A gentle oval or up/down motion over your breastbone feels soothing. Also use circles on your abdomen, following the bowel direction clockwise.

Back – Sides:  Reach around without straining to massage your back and spine with up and down strokes or whatever you can do.  Pull forward on sides. If your spouse or mother is there have them do several long sweeps on your back and circles over the shoulder blade area.

Legs:  Start with full circles on your hip, then long strokes on the thigh.  Circles on knee with both hands, alternating, and long strokes on calf.

Feet:  Alternate (both hands) circles on ankle bone, one hand (fingers) up and down on achilles tendon down to heel.  Do some thumb work on soles if you have time. Work toes pulling gently. Back and forth with palms on top and soles of feet, in an alternating pattern.

Do a couple full sweeps over the face, the arms when you finish there, legs and feet when you are done there.

Allow time for rest and oil to be absorbed after massage.  Then follow with a warm bath, helps oil to penetrate deeper into the tissues. 

Kitchari is the perfect dish for the spring season. Spring is the season of detoxification and this delicious dish is a great way to give your body a much-needed break while it works on resting your digestion it gently promotes detoxification from winter accumulations and the holidays!

Kitchari is balancing to all three doshas and can be jazzed up, spiced up, or flavored in ways appealing to your taste buds and personal needs.  To make kitchari you start with basmati rice and lentils or dal. This combination creates a dish that is easy to digest and is nourishing to the body. A bowl of rice and lentils by themselves may not sound too appetizing and that’s why you can add in any variety of veggies, spices, and even meat into the mix.

When making Kitchari for the whole family or a group of friends it’s a great idea to make a batch that is balancing and pleasing to all three doshas and putting out extras or condiments to later add into the dish.

To create a basic Kitchari, start by soaking 1 cup of split yellow mung dal or red lentils. It’s best to allow them to soak for a few hours or overnight, this allows the dal or lentils to soften ensuring you have a soft and easily digestible final product. After soaking you want to place them in a strainer and wash them thoroughly.

In a large saucepan on medium heat add your ghee or high heat oil then spices. We enjoy mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds. Allow the seeds to simmer in the hot ghee until the mustard seeds pop and the others lightly brown. This allows the full aromas of the seeds to blend in with the meal.


Once the seeds have opened up and filled the air with their lovely aroma you can add in your rice, dal, veggies, and other spices.  Gently stir and coat them with the seeds and oil.You can add any veggies your heart desires to this dish or tailor it to your doshic needs, we enjoy seasonals like asparagus, spinach, and root veggies.

Pour in your water and bring to a boil. Let the pan boil for 5 minutes before turning it down low. Cover the pot and allow it to cook for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the lentils and rice are tender.

Your dinner crowd may define what powdered spices and condiments you add to your kitchari in the last 10 minutes of cooking. For pitta soothing add turmeric, cumin, and fennel powder with shredded coconut or chopped cilantro garnish. For vata and Kapha soothing add a tiny pinch of Hing, ginger powder and garam masala, perhaps more of the heating spices like ginger and pepper, even cayenne for Kapha. Salt can also be added at this time.

Some further ways to jazz up your kitchari are by garnishing it with things that will make your mouth and belly happy!

For the Vata predominant folks out there you can add yogurt or ghee for extra moisture or warm things up with a squeeze of lime.

Pitta predominates folks might enjoy the soothing and cooling freshness of lime and cilantro added to the kitchari. Coconut milk is also a wonderful additive that cools down the spices and can also be added in while cooking.

To kick up the spice and get things moving Kapha predominant folks may enjoy adding an extra pinch hing, ginger powder, cinnamon or clove.

You could even get creative by adding chipotle, chicken, shredded coconut, or anything else. Kitchari is a wonderful dish to be expressive with!

We hope that this inspires you to get in the kitchen and whip up a big batch of kitchari that you and the whole family can enjoy.


Basic Kitchari Recipe

 This recipe is just for the base, add in seasonal vegetables or favorites like zucchini, asparagus or sweet potato. You can also add coconut milk, or other spices to the dish as well as adding cooked meats to the dish once its cooked.


1 cup basmati rice

1 cup mung dal or lentils

5-6 cups water

3 tsp. ghee

½ tsp. coriander seeds

½ tsp. cumin seeds

¼ tsp black mustard seeds

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 pinch asafoetida (hing)

½ to 1-inch fresh ginger root, chopped or grated

¼ tsp – ½ tsp rock or sea salt


Optional: Assorted veggies, coconut milk, shredded coconut, cilantro lime and yogurt to garnish.


And of course, no kitchari is complete without its counterpart the papadam. If you are eating kitchari for a cleanse, I’m sorry to say it, but you’ll want to pass on the papadams. But if you’re making it as a diner to share with friends, papadams are a tasty crunchy gluten-free cracker that provides the perfect vehicle for eating your kitchari. Papadam can be found at most grocery stores in the ethnic section of the store.

Establish Balance This Spring Through Pranayama

The Seasonal transition (in sanskrit Rutu Sandhi) offers many obstacles when it comes to maintaining balance within our bodies. Spring may be Characterized by Kapha dosha but as the weather patterns become variable and unpredictable there is a spike in Vata. In addition, the hot cold alternation and constant adjusting can aggravate Pitta. So what can we do to find equilibrium within our variable external environment?


Pranayama is a practice of breath control and awareness. Prana (as breath) is our vital life force.  Pranayama involves various kinds of practices and works to balance the body, mind, and spirit in beneficial ways. During Pranayama we focus on the breath, working to strengthen one’s ability to maintain awareness and mental stability. Much like mindfulness meditation practice we keep our attention on the breath, bring the mind back to center and focus each time it wanders. It has proven benefits for mental/emotional conditions like depression and anxiety and has been shown to lower blood pressure, benefit respiratory disorders, alleviate pain among other numerous evidence-based benefits.

Seasonal Pranayama

During each seasonal transition, it’s a good practice to add or modify pranayama in our daily routine. There are many different kinds of Pranayama but today we shall focus on Kapalabhati, Sheetali and  Nadi Shodhana, which respectively balance Kapha, Pitta, and Vata doshas.

Kapalbhati (Skull Shining Breath)

Kapalabhati, also known as skull shining breath, is the practice of naturally allowing inhales and forcefully exhaling in shorts burst through your nostrils. This action is an energizing breath practice that clears the lungs, nasal passages, sinuses, and the mind. The exhale breath instigates rapid contraction and release of the upper abdomen while the inhalation is seemingly effortless and transparent.

 Where Kapalabhati can be tridoshically balancing it is a wonderful way to bring balance to the rising Kapha of spring especially if we find ourselves with nasal congestion, brain fog and depression. The short bursts of air clean out sinus passages and strengthen the lungs by facilitating a flush of stagnant air and particles thus increasing respiratory resilience and natural immunity. As we contract and release in our abdomen we are building energy within our bodies and simulating a breathing cycle mimicking cardiovascular exercise with similar benefits. This energy facilitates movement helping to remove excess Kapha from its home sites in the stomach, lungs, mind, and sinuses.

Sheetali (Cooling Breath)

Sheetali, also known as cooling breath, is the practice of creating a cooling inhalation by curling the tongue into a straw shape and gently inhaling. Sheetali calms and soothes the mind, body, and spirit by delivering experientially cool energy to the deeper tissues of the body.

To perform it we first curl the tongue into a straw and breath in gently, allowing the breath to travel down and fill the abdomen experiencing the calming energy of this practice. Then, applying a slight contraction to the abdomen, pulling the belly button back into the spine, allowing the breath to slowly and gently leave the body through the nostrils with the mouth being clothed and the tongue relaxes or gently touching the soft palate.

Sheetali cools the body down and clears excess heat. It is very balancing to pitta and soothes excess digestive fire. As we transition from winter to spring the influx of heat can aggravate Pitta within our bodies and minds and instigate latent heat conditions like allergies, mental irritation, and eczema. Cooling breath is a wonderful way to stay cool and calm in the rising heat of spring and preventative care for the upcoming heat of our summers.

 If you are unable to curl your tongue you can achieve the same effects through Sheetkari Pranayama, also known as hissing breath. To do this,  gently press the top and lower teeth together, open the lips, and start inhaling. While breathing in a natural hissing sound should occur as the breath cools the sides of the tongue. After a full inhalation gently release the breath through the nose while relaxing the tongue or having it gently touching the soft palate.  

Nadi Shodhana (Alternate nostril breathing)

Nadi Shodhana literally cleaning the channels of prana, but more commonly known as alternate nostril breathing, aims to purify the subtle channels of the body, harmonize the hemispheres of the brain while balancing the masculine and feminine aspects of our consciousness. It fosters mental clarity, calm alertness the mind, and brings balance to the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Numerous research has shown its beneficial effect in anxiety, depression, ADHD, amongst other mental-emotional conditions.

Nadi is a Sanskrit word meaning “channel” or “flow” and shodhana means “purification”. During this practice, we breathe in through our left nostril and out through our right. We then breathe in through our right nostril and back out through our left. We can then repeat the process many times until we clearly experience its benefits. The hand position or mudra is known as Vishnu mudra and is done by folding the tips of the index and middle fingers inward until they touch the palm. We can then alternate with the thumb and ring finger closing off each nostril as needed.

Nadi Shodhana brings balance to the body, mind, and spirit. It is said that this breath balances the masculine and feminine energies of the body. Alternate nostril breathing can also strengthen our chi or state of sattva by bringing balance to the Yin, Yang, Chi or Sattva, Rajas, Tamas trios. This practice can bring a balance to the body by calming vata and infusing the body with oxygen.

When should I do this practice?

The level of your practice and health will determine how many rounds of each breath you are able to do. However, starting out with 3 round of Kapalabhati and 8 rounds of Sheetali/Sheetkari and Nadi Shodhana is a great way to introduce these pranayamas into your daily practice. This practice can be done daily in the morning or even as needed throughout the day.

What constitutes one round?

One round of Kapalabhati is and 20-30 short burst exhalations with 2-3 deep inhalations and exhalations afterward. One round of Sheetali/ Sheetkari is one full inhalation through the tongue and one full exhalation out the nostrils. One full round of Nadi Shodhana is a full breath in through the left nostril and out through the right, followed by, one full inhalation in through the right nostril and out through the left.

This month’s self-care practice is Neti, an ayurvedic selfcare practices that focus on the nose, sense of smell and earth element. It is a great time to incorporate this practice into our daily routine, especially for those of us with sinus conditions. Both the usage of a neti pot and nasal drops (nasya) are preventative care for sinus congestion and irritation due to spring colds and allergies. A note of caution, this practice should not be combined with oil based nasal drops (nasya). Nasal drops are preferable when deep congestion prevents the usage of the neti pot.

Let’s take a look at how to use the Neti pot.

When to use it and how to make the liquid solution

The neti pot can be used daily,
either in the morning or evening before bathing. The neti pot is designed to
allow fluid to pass through your nasal passages clearing out any excess
congestion or unwanted particles, like dust or pollen.  The fluid used is made up of a half cup of
water and a ½ teaspoon of salt. It’s best to purchase sterile saline salt and
distilled water. This mixture mimics our own saline body fluid and is gentle on
the sinus cavity. The water should be lukewarm and close to body temperature. This
will create minimal resistance of the nasal passages.

How to use it

To use the neti pot bend over a sink and tilt your head up to one side or the other. Place the opening of the neti pot against the nostril that is facing the celling. Then gently tilt the pot up and pour the fluid into your nostril. Sometimes it is helpful to create a small amount of suction to help the flow but be careful that you don’t suck in the water. The fluid will flow into your nostril, through your sinus cavity and flow out the bottom nostril into the sink. If some (or a lot) of the fluid flows into your mouth, don’t worry, it’s totally normal. Typically, you use half of the fluid in the first nostril then switch sides and pour the remaining fluid into your opposite nostril.

Finishing the process

After performing this process on each side bend over a sink near to 90 degrees and, blocking a nostril, forcefully exhale through the open nostril 10 times. Alternate nostrils and repeat the process 3 times to ensure the drying of the nasal passages and removal of excess salt water. The short burst of air help keeps the flow of air out of your nose and not into the ear canal. Avoid covering your nose with a tissue or towel and blowing your nose.

Now you can enjoy a freshly cleaned nasal passage and easeful breathing!

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