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Cultivating a Harmonious Body with Ayurveda

This past month has been incredibly challenging. Our survival mode has kicked-in and there is a rise in global consciousness.  We are all doing our best to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by taking care of ourselves, family, friends, and our communities.

As an Ayurvedic healer, many of my clients reached out asking for tips on improving their immune system during this time of crises.  Before I start talking about Ayurveda is important to remind that the CDC and the WHO have a lot of online resources and are the authorities on the prevention and safety measures for the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease). Be informed so you keep unnecessary fear and anxiety away. 

Ayurveda is an ancient healing system that focuses on the prevention of diseases. Fundamentally Ayurveda believes that our bodies are free of “dis-ease” when we are in harmony and aligned with nature.  On the other hand, when we stress our bodies and don’t pay attention to the environment around us, we begin creating disharmony and eventually “dis-ease”.

Below are a few “tips” that I want to share on supporting your immune system for overall health and well-being.  

Food as Medicine

The health of your gut is important for your overall health and immunity.  During Kapha season (late winter/spring) eat warm, cooked, light and easy to digest foods to support overall digestion. Avoid fried, heavy, dairy and mucus producing foods (ex:bananas, milk, cheese).  Avoid refined sugar and carbs! Cook with spices such as ginger, mustard seeds, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, garlic and clove.

Water

Drink warm liquids avoiding cold beverages and ice as it creates constriction, stagnation and congestion. Ginger tea, CCF tea, Turmeric-ginger tea, Tulsi tea and sipping on plain warm water are wonderful choices to keep your body hydrated and to support digestion.

Breath

Our breath is vital!  It is our first action when we are born and our last action before we leave this world. Pranayama is one of my favorite practices as it eases the mind, helps balance your body’s energetic channels, and strengthens your lungs. 

Sleep

Get enough sleep and rest.  When we sleep 7-8 hours per night, our bodies have the opportunity to repair, regenerate and digest not only food, but also emotions and the overload of information from our day. Your metabolism is more prominent at this time and a complete night of sleep is essential for good health and strong Ojas (vitality).  Avoid late nights by going to bed around 10pm. 

Exercise

Regular physical activity early in the morning increases stamina and stimulates the immune system while promoting circulation and burning accumulated fat.  Choose grounding and outdoor exercises that are enjoyable. Avoid over exerting and depleting exercises.  

Meditation & Positivity

Cultivate happy thoughts! In difficult times a clear, steady and positive mind is essential to maintain a healthy immunity system. Meditation is a wonderful practice to lower anxiety levels and bring you a sense of calm. If you are new to meditation, there are many APPs that can guide you on starting a daily practice.  Start with a 5-10min practice each day slowly increasing to 15-30min.  Some of my favorite apps are Calm and Insighttimer.

Dinacharya

Having a self-care routine is essential in creating a harmonious rhythm between your body-mind and the nature around you.  If you don’t have a daily routine yet refer to this article on Dinacharya and consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner that can guide you on creating a unique routine just for you. 

Herbs

Ayurveda has many wonderful herbs and ancient formulas to strengthen your immune system.  Because Ayurveda believes in bio-individuality and each person’s unique constitution, is extremely important to consult your practitioner if you are interested in taking ayurvedic herbs.  Is also important to consider that Ayurveda uses ancient vedic formulation, or a combination of herbs with a carrier instead of a single herbs as listed below. The list below is to get your curious about this wonderful science. 

Ginger – clears phlegm, expectorant, diaphoretic.  Using ginger in teas or everyday cooking is very helpful in aiding a sluggish digestion and clearing ama (toxins) from your digestive system.

Turmeric – antiseptic, antibacterial, antioxidant, aids digestion, cough. Turmeric is great for cooking, seasoning and should be consumed in small doses. 

Clove – cold, congestions, cough, increases agni and improves digestion, toothache and gum infections. Clove is used in traditional ayurvedic preparations such as Sitopaladi and Talisadi. Is also a great addition to your morning oatmeal and cooked spiced fruits because of its distinct flavor.

Guduchi – anti-inflammatory, fever reducer, immune system support, infections.  In low grade fevers guduchi is given with mahasudarshan and a pinch of pippali (long pepper).

Tulsi – antipyretic, decongestant, antibacterial, expectorant.  A tea of tulsi with cinnamon, cardamom and lemon grass can be used in the first signs of cold. 

Pippali – kapha reducer, low agni and sluggish digestion, immunity, mucus, rejuvenative for the lungs. A tea of ginger with a pinch of pippali can be given for weak lungs.  

In positivity, 

Luciana AWC, CHC, RYT, AYT

Resources: Sahasrayogam – Dr.G. Prabhakara Rao; Bhavaprakasa Vol.1 – Prof. K.S. Srikantha Murthy ; Ayurvedic Medicine – Sebastian Pole; M.A,Sc.; Texbook of Ayurveda, General Principals of Management and Treatment Vol. 3 – Vasant Lad,

All material and information presented by Blueberry Bunch by Luciana Ferraz is intended to be used for educational purposes only. The statements made about products, supplements, or treatments have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The information on bluberrybunch.com is not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any condition or disease. Please consult with your own physician or health care practitioner before making changes to your diet, exercise routine, or lifestyle.

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Ayurveda gift basket for the perfect daily routine

From Blueberry Bunch and Lime and Cocoa

Ayurveda Gift Basket

I’ve partnered with Lime and Cocoa to create this beautiful gift basket filled with hand-picked Ayurvedic products and ancient wisdom to support your daily routine, as well as other products I think you’ll love.

What’s included:

  • Bottle of daily swish for oil pulling
  • Tongue scraper
  • Massage oil for everyday use
  • E-book (PDF download) that covers my favorite Dinacharya practices
  • Relaxing soy candle
  • Lavender Epson salt bath

Treat yourself or someone you love.

This gift basket is available through Lime and Cocoa for $108. Also available to be added: The Great Gift of Ghee cookbook (shown in the picture above). Contact Lime and Cocoa for details, or email me at info@blueberrybunch.com.

All material and information presented by Blueberry Bunch is intended to be used for educational purposes only. The statements made about products, supplements, or treatments have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The information on blueberrybunch.com is not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any condition or disease. Please consult with your own physician or health care practitioner before making changes to your diet, exercise routine, or lifestyle.

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Sautéed Seasonal Vegetables

This is such an easy recipe from the creators of The Great Gift of Ghee (more on this cookbook below). I love how you can personalize it with your choice of seasonal vegetables or flavors, and how the ghee makes all the yummy difference.

RECIPE

From: The Great Gift of Ghee

Serves: 2 medium portions

Ingredients

  • 2 – 4 cups of your favorite vegetable combination, in bite sized pieces (green beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, asparagus, sweet potato, bell peppers, onions)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
  • 2 garlic flakes
  • 1 tbsp Ghee
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Cookware

  • Skillet that is 2 inches deep
  • Ladle or wooden spoon to stir

Preparation

In the pictures shown, I used different color baby potatoes, fennel, Swiss chard, baby beets with greens and an assortment of zucchini.

I browned the boiled potatoes first in Ghee and cumin for that special roasted taste and added the fennel, zucchini, beets, and Swiss chard raw since they cook so quickly—I favor them a little crunchy anyways.

Step-by-Step

  1. Boil or blanch the vegetables as needed to cook. Root vegetables like sweet potato or yams should be cooked separately. Beans, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower can be blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes and then rinsed with cold water to retain their crunch. Bell peppers and onions should only be sliced or diced.
  2. In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp Ghee. Add cumin seeds and swirl for a few seconds. Add the garlic, stir for a half-minute or so. Do not brown the garlic.
  3. While sizzling, add the blanched vegetables and stir for 2 minutes on high heat. Add the salt, turmeric and chili flakes. Stir for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Pour half the lemon juice over the  vegetables. Add half the chopped cilantro and toss. Garnish with remaining cilantro.
  5. Serve with lemon juice on the side.

The origin of the recipe and others to try

This recipe was shared by my friend Susanne Jarchow-Misch who art directed and co-published The Great Gift of Ghee. Check out this beautiful cookbook for more heirloom Indian recipes that are nutritious and easy to make for each season—as well as ancient wisdom related to cooking. For more about the creators, visit www.sansaar.co.

More seasonal flavoring tips

Don’t be afraid to play around with different flavors that are balancing to your constitution. For example, if pitta is your primary dosha and you make this in the summer, there are many cooling spices and herbs you can try. See my blog 5 Ways to Stay Cool as a Cucumber This Summer With Ayurveda for details.

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5 Ways to Stay Cool as a Cucumber This Summer With Ayurveda

Beach Setting - Staying Cool This Summer

Long days. Outdoor fun. Travel. Relaxation. Summer certainly has its perks. But the heat of summer can also throw you off balance, aggravating your mind and body in many ways. According to Ayurveda, the ancient “science of life,” there are reasons for that—and some helpful practices to keep you calm and cool.

What summer has to do with Ayurveda

Before we dive into Ayurvedic practices for restoring your balance, it will help to have some background. To put it simply, Ayurveda can show you how your body reacts to the elements around you and within you, plus what you can do about it.

The season of pitta/fire

All five of the primary elements (air, fire, water, earth and ether) and the three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha) exist in everything and everyone, but in different proportions. That means each season—and person—have elements and a dosha that are predominant, making them unique.

Summer aligns with the pitta dosha and the element of fire because of its hot, penetrating, sharp and oily qualities.

How pitta can affect you

The pitta within you is closely related to your digestion, metabolism, body temperature, thoughts, emotions and more. These can be prone to imbalance as you’re exposed to summer’s heat and other pitta qualities. This is especially true if pitta is your primary dosha.

When your doshas are aggravated, there can be many physical and emotional signs.

Signs of excess pitta

  • Uncomfortably warm
  • Acid reflux or heartburn
  • Skin irritation and rashes
  • Loose stools and diarrhea
  • Red, inflamed or light-sensitive eyes
  • Inflammation
  • Infections
  • Impatience and intolerance
  • Irritability and anger

Even if you experience these already, they may show more often when pitta is aggravated.

5 tips to help balance pitta in the summer

In Ayurveda, it’s believed that “like increases like.” So things that are hot, penetrating, sharp and oily (pitta characteristics) can aggravate your body and mind during the summer. Try to cut back on them and increase what’s opposite of pitta—calm and cool—to keep your body and mind in harmony with this season.

1. Choose cooling foods and drinks.

This is the most effective way to balance pitta. Good choices include:

  • Sweet fruits like pears, melons, mangos, apples, grapes, dates, figs and prunes (Avoid citrus and other sour fruits.)
  • Sweet or bitter vegetables like peas, sweet potato, cucumber, leafy greens, celery, zucchini, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower (Cut back on pungent varieties like onions, chili peppers, tomatoes and eggplant.)
  • Cooling or astringent spices and herbs like neem, shavarti, amalaki, burdock, cilantro, parsley and fennel (Avoid cayenne, garlic, chili pepper, mustard seeds and dried ginger.)
  • Cool (not iced) beverages like water, coconut water and coconut milk. Teas like chamomile, mint and coriander seed can be good if room temperature or cool. (Avoid caffeine and alcohol, especially beer and wine.)

2. Cool down your exercise.

Adjust your physical activity during summer for optimal balance.

  • Time of day: ideally early morning when it’s not as hot, especially if exercising outside, otherwise in a cooler environment
  • Intensity: no more than 50 percent of your maximum capacity
  • Refreshing activities to consider: swimming, gentle yoga like moon salutations (instead of sun salutations), walking, hiking and cycling

3. Limit heat exposure.

In addition to being mindful of exercise timing, you should also:

  • Minimize all sun exposure during the hottest part of the day.
  • Wear sunscreen if you go outside when the sun’s rays are the strongest (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) to avoid a pitta-aggravating sunburn and other effects of the sun. Sunscreens are definitely not created equal, so check out EWG’s guide to safer sunscreens.
  • Avoid hot tubs or steam rooms.

4. Take it easy.

To balance pitta, it’s especially important to prioritize self-care, calm your mind and slow down.

  • Go inward. Meditate or practice personal prayer or reflection, daily.
  • Be mindful of your emotions. Observe your feelings and how you react. Try to be patient and tolerant, and turn your focus toward positive thoughts.
  • Take deep breaths. Whenever you have to wait, deal with an unpleasant situation or simply want to enjoy more calm, try to take long, slow, deep breaths.
  • Relax. Make time each day for rest and relaxation. Listen to peaceful music, or enjoy silent moments. Lie on a blanket and take in the beauty of the moon and stars.

5. Follow an Ayurvedic daily routine that’s pitta pacifying.

Another powerful way to harmonize your mind and body is with a daily routine that’s in alignment with the natural rhythms of day and night. Check out my previous blog post for 11 day-starters that promote overall balance and health.

Start to experiment with these cooling suggestions and you’ll be on your way to harnessing all the wonderful qualities of summer with fewer pitta-related aggravations.

Until next time, here’s to a cool, calm and balanced summer!

Luciana

All material and information presented by Blueberry Bunch is intended to be used for educational purposes only. The statements made about products, supplements, or treatments have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The information on bluberrybunch.com is not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any condition or disease. Please consult with your own physician or health care practitioner before making changes to your diet, exercise routine, or lifestyle.

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Take control of your life with dinacharya: a powerfully balancing Ayurveda routine

Do you ever start the day thinking, “I’m going to work against myself today?” Of course you don’t. Not knowingly. The thing is: The way you go about your day does affect how you feel and how your body functions. So if you’re like most people I talk to, who could benefit from greater life balance, let’s talk about something that really works. There is a way: how to intentionally start your day so your mind and body can work in harmony as you’re challenged with day-to-day tasks, distractions and everything else that comes your way. It’s an Ayurvedic practice called dinacharya.

What dinacharya is and how can it help you

Dinacharya is a powerful daily routine used in Ayurveda. In Sanskrit, the word dinacharya means to follow the knowledge of the day, and that’s what we are doing: following a schedule of practices that are aligned with the natural rhythm or flow of life. This puts you in control of your day—and it can bring radical change to your mind and body. For example, it stabilizes your circadian rhythms, eating patterns, and bodily functions, which in turn improves your digestion and your overall feeling of happiness.

What it means to follow the rhythm of the day

Even if you’re not well-versed in Ayurveda, you probably already know how certain things like sleep are best to keep at the same time each day. To understand it from an Ayurvedic perspective, let’s look at our day in terms of doshas. During the day, we flow through different phases: vata, pitta and kapha. Just as these three doshas, or energetic forces of nature, make up your personal constitution, they are also represented in the day. When our practices follow the flow of the day, we set ourselves up for optimal digestion, focus, productivity, health and wellbeing.

  • 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. is kapha time. This can be a sluggish and heavy time, making it ideal for lighter eating and Ayurvedic practices (introduced in the next section) to start your day well.
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is pitta time. This can be characterized by increased heat in the air and in our bodies, which can be harnessed for productivity and high agni (a Sanskrit word meaning “digestive fire”).
  • 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. is vata time. This is generally a time of transition, good for promoting creativity, problem solving or peaceful comfort, depending on your nature.
  • 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. is kapha time. The return of sluggish and heavy feelings influence a smaller meal and winding down in a soothing way.
  • 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. is pitta time. Active qualities return in the form of internal cleansing.
  • 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. is vata time. As another transitional time, it can promote deep rest and peaceful rising.

11 Dinacharya day-starters that promote overall balance and health

Here are my 11 favorite Ayurvedic practices for starting the day. They’re things I like to do before breakfast and looking at my phone. I realize that may sound like a lot, but don’t let it overwhelm you. When adopting Ayurvedic practices, start gradually and realize even small, consistent changes make an impact. For me, these morning rituals take 1 to 1.5 hours and make all the difference, helping me feel more grounded and peaceful as I go about my day.

List of My Top 11 Dinacharya Practices

1. Wake up early for optimal refreshment.

It is best to wake up before sunrise, or on average before 6 a.m. It can be far more refreshing to rise and start your day when vata is dominant rather than kapha’s heavy, sluggish period. Before going to bed, set an intention to wake up early and dedicate it as a time of self-care. It’ll be your opportunity to create inner awareness through silent practices. Putting it first allows you to harness this energy throughout your day and ensures other demands won’t get in the way of this important practice.

2. Set an intention before getting out of bed.

Say a positive affirmation, prayer or mantra with personal meaning to set your intentions for the day.

3. Makeover your mouth with oil pulling.

Oil pulling cleanses your mouth and strengthens your teeth, gums and mucus membrane. It also aids with bad breath and inflammation when present. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil or sesame oil to your mouth, swish it around 5 minutes, spit it into the trash and then rinse. I love Banyan Botanicals’ Daily Swish. Another option is swishing herbal tea.

4. Enhance skin and circulation with dry brushing.

Dry brushing promotes cell renewal by exfoliating dead skin while also increasing circulation and helping flush out toxins. Use a dry brush with natural bristles to brush your entire body, starting with your extremities and working in toward the lymph nodes. This practice can be done daily or three times per week.

5. Massage your body with warm oil.

Abhyanga massage is widely practiced in Ayurvedic medicine and is a good daily health practice. In addition to nourishing and softening the skin, it enhances circulation, lubricates joints, removes metabolic waste and helps balance your doshas. After dry brushing, incorporate a few minutes of self-massage with coconut (pitta), almond or sesame (kapha), or sesame oil (vata), and follow with a shower.

6. Clean your teeth naturally.

Use a natural toothpaste, such as a neem clove toothpaste to brush your teeth. Herbs like neem and clove have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and pain relieving properties that not only cleanse and freshen breath, but also enhance taste buds and help with sensitivity. This toothpaste can be found online and in some stores where vitamins or natural products are sold.

7. Detoxify with tongue scraping.

Use a metal tongue scraper to remove residue that has built up over night, including bacteria, dead cells and toxins you don’t want to reabsorb. Tongue scraping should be performed lightly 1 to 3 times with a stainless-steel tongue scraper, or copper if it’s available and you are kapha-dominant. They can be found at most drug stores and online—just refrain from choosing plastic.

8. Hydrate with warm lemon water.

Drinking warm water with lemon in the morning is a great way to energize, rehydrate, increase your metabolic rate, stimulate your digestion, maintain your body’s pH balance, help fight infections and help your liver flush out toxins that have accumulated overnight.

9. Tune into your breathing with pranayama.

Using breathing (pranayama) techniques helps balance your body’s energetic channels (nadis) and bring heightened awareness and clarity to your mind. These are some techniques you can try while seated:

  • Alternating nostril breaths (nadi shodhana)With your right hand, you will use your thumb to control passage of air through your right nostril and your ring finger for your left nostril. To begin, gently close your right nostril and breathe in slowly through the left nostril. Next, close the left nostril while opening the other so you can exhale slowly through your right nostril. Inhale slowly through your right nostril, and repeat for around 12 total rounds, or longer if you’d like. This can be practiced no matter your constitution.
  • Cooling breaths (shitali): Stick out your tongue and roll the outside edges inward so your tongue forms a straw-like tube. Inhale and exhale through your rolled tongue around 16 times. Since it has a cooling effect, it can be especially balancing for pitta.
  • Short, fast breaths (bhastrika): Inhale and exhale through your nose forcefully so your abdomen expands and contracts with equal duration—about one or two seconds each. Complete around 10 breaths, rest with a couple of normal breaths and repeat (slowly building up to 5 or 10 rounds). Since it can have a warming effect, pitta should practice gently, in moderation. Do not practice this if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure or any illness.

10. Activate good vibes and focus with meditation.

Meditation offers a feeling of relaxation followed by a release of energy boosting endorphins. It’ll help spring you to life—without coffee—and get your mind into a flow state to handle the day’s challenges with greater ease. If it’s new to you, start with a 5- or 10-minute practice, and work up to 15 minutes or more a day. There are many techniques, such as mantra meditation or Empty Bowl Meditation, as well as many resources like local classes and mobile apps.

Contact me if you’d like direction, and don’t think of meditation as taking up time. The focus and energy you get can make you happier and more productive.

11. Get moving with exercise.

In Ayurveda, regular physical activity early in the morning increases stamina and stimulates the immune system while promoting circulation and burning accumulated fat. Yoga is by far my favorite physical and mental activity as it also encourages the flow of oxygen, moves toxins, nourishes joints and stimulates the digestive fire in the body. Ayurveda generally recommends breathing through your nose and exercising at 50 percent capacity, until you break a mild sweat. Or from a doshas perspective: mild exercise for vata, moderate for pitta, vigorous for kapha.

Important healthy practices for other times

I could fill a whole new post with practices for other times of the day, but there a few I feel just have to be shared now.

Take a digital detox and get your Z’s.

A good night of sleep is extremely important for good health. During the night, cells repair more rapidly. Your digestive system gets a break, giving the elimination process an opportunity to catch up. Your mind also needs plenty of rest. Plan to get at least 8 hours of sleep each day. To help you sleep well, lower your consumption of TV, cell phones, iPad, computers, etc., at least 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. Remove electronics from your room, and if an alarm clock is essential on your cell phone, place it in airplane mode.

Flush toxins with a steam treatment.

Swedana is a treatment performed at an Ayurvedic clinic that consists of an oil massage followed by a steam bath. The heat enlarges your pores and increases circulation, aiding digestion, the release of impurities, elimination of excess water weight and reduction of inflammation. It also promotes healthy, glowing skin and deep relaxation. It can be a great treatment to have when you’re dealing with a cold, sinusitis, aches, some digestive issues or as a pre-operative procedure.

Pamper yourself with another favorite.

Have you heard the saying, “Take care of yourself before you take care of others?” Self-care is absolutely essential for a happy life—and when you tend to your own needs, you are more open and present to support others. Choose one of your favorite pampering rituals and make that part of your weekly routine. Whether you take time for a massage, acupuncture, a visit to the nail salon, a walk on the beach, or something else, taking regular “me” time is a very important part of healing and balancing your dosha.

Now that you have several ideas you can incorporate into your dinacharya, don’t think of this as another to-do list. By aligning the activity of your mind and body with the natural rhythms of day and night, you will set yourself up for optimal health, happiness and productivity. Commit for a few weeks and start gradually. Add more only as you feel inspired and don’t be hard on yourself if you veer off course. Simply return to what serves you best, and enjoy.

Until next time, live well!

Luciana

All material and information presented by Blueberry Bunch is intended to be used for educational purposes only. The statements made about products, supplements, or treatments have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The information on bluberrybunch.com is not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any condition or disease. Please consult with your own physician or health care practitioner before making changes to your diet, exercise routine, or lifestyle.

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6+ holistic tips for healthier, more comfortable air travel

Whether you’re planning a visit with loved ones, a business trip or another adventure, thinking ahead with a holistic approach can make your flight more enjoyable and get you to your destination feeling your best.

There’s no doubt flying can take a toll on your body, especially with frequent or long-distance travel. Throughout my years of flying, I’ve developed a strategy for healthy air travel that helps me enjoy being on the plane, lower the effects of jetlag and restore balance to my body. Add some of these ideas to your upcoming travel plans if you’d like to arrive feeling more relaxed, refreshed and healthy.

1. Understand how travel affects your body

When you fly, your vata can naturally be aggravated, causing gas and bloating. Traveling also naturally dehydrates the body. Consuming nurturing foods is one of your best allies in preventing jetlag, balancing your vata and transforming you into a pro traveler.

Not familiar with vata? Vata is one of the three doshas, a foundational concept in Ayurveda that can help you understand yourself better. Doshas are essentially energetic forces found within everyone and everything, but in different ratios. When your doshas become aggravated or imbalanced, they can disrupt your body in many ways. The good news: Ayurveda offers many natural remedies to restore balance, heal and even prevent health issues.  

2. Nourish and hydrate your body with healthy air travel in mind

  • Eat a healthy meal with greens and low-sodium foods before boarding so you are not at the mercy of high-sodium airline foods.
  • Drink plenty of water before and during the flight to stay hydrated. Dehydration increases jet Take tea bags of your favorite herbal caffeine-free tea. Peppermint and ginger are great choices to sooth your stomach, and chamomile will help you to relax and sleep on overnight flights. Bring an empty water bottle that you can refill and keep with you, too.
  • Consume fruits high in vitamin C like oranges and lemon to give your immune system a boost prior to flying. Drinking water with lemon is a great choice.
  • Consider supplements like the I Travel Well liquid extract from Banyan Botanicals. I add it to water, and I love that it helps calm the mind and energize the body.
  • Pack healthy foods. Nuts are my go-to food when I fly. I roast raw nuts at home with lots of different herbs, vata pacifying spices and a touch of pink salt so they are full of flavor. Healthy snacks like nuts and fresh fruit can also be great for curbing hunger during meetings or excursions, until you’re able to grab a healthy meal.
  • Avoid alcohol and coffee. It’s not only going to increase your jetlag upon arrival, but the sugar in certain drinks can also agitate you and prevent sleep.

3. Dress comfortably

I am one not to compromise style, especially if traveling for business or arriving at a stylish destination. At the same time, I’ve learned that there is no point in looking good at boarding and a complete wreck at my destination.

  • Wear clothing made with soft stretchy fabrics and comfy tops. The last thing you want is to have your belly compressed by skinny jeans and tight buttons during a flight. Cashmere, cotton tops and leggings are great options.
  • Bring layers. Airplanes tend to be cold, so I always have a few layers in my carry-on and an extra pair of comfy socks.
  • If you wear high heels, leave them for when you land. A good pair of sneakers is my best friend walking through terminals and the easiest fit after a long flight.
  • Stow jewelry if you can. Fingers and wrists get swollen during flights. When possible, I keep my rings, bracelet and watch inside my carry-on or purse. It’s not only more comfortable to sleep, but I won’t have to use soap to squeeze the rings off of my fingers.

4. Tune into your personal care

Your skin can be affected by the airplane’s dry air and also LED lights. Most of the time, I wash my face with mild soap and hydrate my face and eye areas more. There is a good selection of balms and face oils that work wonders.

  • If you wear makeup when you fly, apply a serum prior to boarding and add a thick layer of moisturizer under your makeup. Before arrival, you could even use wipes to freshen up your face and apply a quick coat of makeup.
  • Protect your skin from LED lights and sunlight. Most plane windows are not tinted and will cause skin damage. The LED lights have the same effect as sunlight, so apply your SPF as your part of your normal beauty routine.
  • Flight attendants swear by face mist. I took their advice and on long flights I carry a small bottle of rose water or jasmin. I not only love the smell, but also keeps my face hydrated.
  • Hands and cuticles also need care. Carry a travel-size hand cream and apply as often as possible.

5. Relax and get your Zs

While there are plenty ways to pass the time on a flight, air travel can offer you can that perfect opportunity to do what can be challenging elsewhere: simply relax. Try these ideas to get as much R&R or Zs as possible.

  • Try to avoid blue light. I personally prefer reading over watching movies or working on any electronic device. The blue light will affect your levels of sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Reading can also help you fall asleep. If you do watch a movie or work on your computer, listen to calm music after—it will help you to relax.
  • Mediate! Even if you are not familiar with this practice, there are plenty of apps with guided meditations that are super helpful at all times. I use the Insight Timer app during flights. It helps me to stay relaxed but also prevents me from listening to the loud engine noise.
  • Follow a bedtime routine. If you’re taking an overnight flight, brush your teeth, wash your face and follow as many other bedtime rituals as possible. Bring an eye mask as well. Sunlight is a major part of our internal (circadian) clock, so I find that a soft eye mask helps my body adjust to a new time zone.
  • Apply lavender, Jatamansi and nutmeg oils on the crown of the head and temples. These essential oils can promote better sleep. You can apply them to pillows and bedding as well. Look for a USDA organic source, such as Floracopeia.

6. Make adjustments upon arrival

There are few things I like to do at my new destination to give me a fresh start, and they help me recover from jetlag.

  • Continue drinking water and eating nourishing meals. Green juices are another favorite for healthy
  • Eat smaller portions more often during the first few days if changing time zones. I find this helps me adjust to the local meal times.
  • Take a nice shower using favorite lotions and potions. This practice makes me feel grounded and like I’m at home.
  • Do self-massage (abhyanga) upon arrival, which nourishes your tissues and is very grounding for the nervous system. Choose an oil appropriate for your constitution:
    • Vata: a warm, grounding oil like untoasted sesame or almond
    • Pitta: a cool, hydrating oil like coconut
    • Kapha: a light, warming oil like almond or sesame
  • Schedule extra time for rest after a long day of adventure, meetings or running around, or even in between activities.

Next time you fly, experiment with some of my tips and see what works best for your own body.

Here’s to healthy, comfy and safe travels!

Luciana

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Sweet Potato Squash Casserole: a whole-food, plant-based recipe

The holidays give you a great opportunity to amaze your friends and family with whole-food, plant-based cooking. So Blueberry Bunch enlisted Certified Plant-Based Raw Chef Joanna Derouin to share a dish for your guests to enjoy: Sweet Potato Squash Casserole.

Combining the flavors of the season, this healthy sweet potato casserole is easy enough to prepare that you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the company of your loved ones.

This time of year is about gratitude, so put your best intentions in the cooking process and spread your love through the food you serve.

RECIPE

Sweet Potato Squash Casserole

Assembling Sweet Potato Squash Casserole

Ingredients

Top and bottom layer
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes*
  • 1 small acorn squash (or butternut squash)*
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

* To save some time, you could buy pre-cut sweet potatoes and squash.

Stuffing
  • 8 oz. sliced mini Portobello mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons tamari (or coconut aminos if avoiding soy products)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes (for a sweeter version, use cranberries and pecans instead)
  • 1 cup cooked tri-color quinoa (can also use amaranth or millet)

Preparation

Ready to Bake - Sweet Potato Squash Casserole Layers of Sweet Potato Squash Casserole

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Wash the sweet potatoes and squash, then peel (if using organic sweet potatoes, you can keep the skin on to add more fiber). Cut evenly into ½ inch-thick rounds, place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, black pepper, turmeric powder and rosemary. Bake for 40 minutes, until the sweet potatoes and squash are tender when pierced with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile, start the stuffing by adding the mushrooms, paprika and tamari to a bowl, mixing them all together and allow to sit for 15 minutes so the mushrooms can marinate.
  4. After 15 minutes, place the marinated mushrooms and the cherry tomatoes in a large, dry skillet, and sauté over medium heat, stirring frequent for about 7 minutes. (There is no need to add water; the mushroom will release enough liquid to cook the vegetables without them sticking to the pan.)
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat, and remove any remaining liquid. Add the cooked quinoa, mix it gently and set aside.
  6. When the sweet potatoes and squash are tender, remove them from the oven and mash them together with a fork. Add the flaxseed meal and mix until even. Adjust the flavor to your taste, adding more salt, black pepper and dried herbs, if needed.
  7. Spread a 1 inch tall first layer of the sweet potato and squash mix into a large casserole dish. Add the mushroom stuffing on top of it. Then, spread a final layer of the sweet potato and squash mix, covering all the stuffing. Press down firmly with a spoon.
  8. Bake uncovered at 400° F for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is light brown.
  9. Remove from the oven, garnish with fresh herbs and enjoy.

Serving of Sweet Potato Squash Casserole

More about Chef Joanna

Joanna Derouin - plant-based raw chef

A certified plant-based raw chef by the renowned PLANTLAB® Culinary School, Joanna Derouin has a lifelong passion for cooking and conscious eating. In a journey to nourish her own body through a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle, she has been an avid student of nutrition and believes that proper nourishment can be a powerful aid to our healing processes.

Interested in checking out more of what Joanna has to offer? Follow and connect with her on Instagram.

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Ayurveda and the doshas: setting the foundation for better balance and health

In our busy world, finding balance can often feel like a crazy, uncoordinated dance. We often over-caffeinate and over-stimulate, staying close to screens and allowing our interactions and workloads to overwhelm and stress us. We also turn to food as comfort instead of medicine, tending to look away from our habits and questioning whether our lifestyles truly suit us. But there is another way, a better way, one that helps bring awareness to our imbalances, empowers us to make changes to our bodies and bring health rituals to our daily lives—and that’s Ayurveda, the world’s oldest intact healing science.

Ayurveda spices for health and healing-blog Blueberry Bunch by Luciana Ferraz

Practiced in India for over 5,000 years, Ayurveda (which translates to “science of life” in Sanskrit) has been gaining more attention in the western world. Although it’s an ancient science, Ayurveda offers many practical applications for our lives today. By gaining a few insights into its basic principles, you can set the foundation for how to apply Ayurveda to your own life.

Understanding your body type in terms of Ayurvedic doshas

According to Ayurveda, you have a unique constitution, established when you were conceived, that represents your natural mental, emotional and physical state. Your constitution is made up of a ratio of the three doshas (energetic forces of nature)—Vata, Pitta and Kapha—and you’re likely to have one or two doshas that are predominant.

While your constitution will remain unaltered during your lifetime, your constitution does respond to changes in your environment. I’ll explain the significance of this in the next section, but first I’ll give you some detail on each dosha so you identify a few unique characteristics.

Vata

  • Composed primarily of these natural elements: air and ether
  • Governs these functions in the body: movement of all biological activity, including elimination and breathing.
  • Signs of a balanced Vata individual: creative, artistic, sharp, quick thinking and loving

Pitta

  • Composed primarily of these natural elements: fire and water
  • Governs these functions in the body: digestion, metabolic functions and body temperature
  • Signs of a balanced Pitta individual: energized, sharp and quick minded, goal-oriented, productive and enthusiastic

Kapha

  • Composed primarily of these natural elements: water and earth
  • Governs these functions in the body: provides the body its structure, form, nutrition and groundedness.
  • Signs of a balanced Kapha individual: calm, dependable, loving and affectionate

Knowing your primary dosha and how it can become imbalanced

Knowing your constitution (which one or two doshas are primary for you) is key. It will help you know what imbalances you’re susceptible to, issues those imbalances can cause, and how to bring harmony and healing to your body.

While you can experience an imbalance in any of your doshas, you’re likely to be most affected by an imbalance in your primary dosha. Each dosha is associated with certain health issues, which can include disruptions to your sleep, energy levels and the function of many systems (respiratory, reproductive, digestive, muscular, neurological, etc.).

So, what factors can aggravate your dosha and create disease? There are many, including the food you eat, what you drink, your emotional state, relationships, exercise routine, workplace, environment, how you sleep, the climate/weather, sounds and stress. Again, what affects you is very personal and related to your constitution.

Restoring balance to your constitution

Ayurveda offers you many holistic ways to get your individual equilibrium back, heal your body and prevent disease. Empowering you with lifestyle changes and rituals that are specific to your constitution, Ayurveda takes the preventative approach of Eastern medicine, rather than the curative approach of Western medicine, to keep you well.

When you or your Ayurvedic counselor recognize an imbalance in your primary dosha, these are a few ways you might address it.

How to balance Vata:

  • Eat a Vata-balancing diet. This may include eating warm, lubricating, grounding foods that are rich in healthy fats and protein as well as sweet, sour and salty tastes—while avoiding fried, cold, raw and low-fat foods.
  • Take time for self-care and allow plenty of time in between activities.
  • Practice Pilates, yoga and meditation, and take long walks.
  • Perform Abyangha, a self-massage with oils soothing for Vata, such as sesame oil.
  • Use a diffuser with calming essential oils, such as clary sage, vanilla and clove.

How to balance Pitta:

  • Eat a Pitta-balancing diet. This may include eating cool, astringent, sweet and bitter foods, including lighter proteins, dark greens, peppermint tea and lime—while avoiding red meat, caffeine, excessive spices and foods that are deep fried or processed.
  • Make time to relax and play, but limit competitive activities that could aggravate you.
  • Practice yoga, swimming, biking or fast walks while avoiding the warmest times of the day.
  • Play soothing music.
  • Use a diffuser with calming essential oils, such as lavender, rose and lime.

How to balance Kapha:

  • Eat a Kapha-balancing diet. This may include eating fresh cooked vegetables; lighter proteins; light grains like quinoa, millet and buckwheat; and especially astringent, pungent and bitter foods—while avoiding high-fat foods, dairy, gluten, red meat, sugar, salt and foods that are fried, processed or sour.
  • Practice self-acceptance and positive body image.
  • Practice cardiovascular activities, such as biking, running, martial arts or any other vigorous type of exercise.
  • Use a diffuser with uplifting essential oils, such as tulsi, cinnamon and frankincense.

More Ayurveda resources and support

Want to discover dietary recommendations and other ways to integrate Ayurveda into your life? I’ll be posting more about Ayurvedic living in the future. I also welcome you to connect with me personally to learn more about your unique constitution, and how to support yourself with this ancient science of life.

Until next time, live well!

Luciana

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Basil Sauce: delicious, healthy and versatile

During a recent trip to the Farmer’s Market, I was immediately drawn to the bunches of fresh basil available. The lush green leaves and rich fragrance had me thinking of all the delicious ways I could prepare it—and the many health benefits.

Fresh basil bunches by Luciana FerrazThis time, I decided I would make a basil sauce that I could enjoy with vegetables, fish, gluten-free pasta and avocado. It was so tasty, I became obsessed.

Basil Sauce served with vegetables by Luciana Ferraz

If you’ve never made a basil sauce, it’s pretty simple and can add a burst of flavor to so many foods. If you can keep yourself from devouring the whole batch, you can even freeze it.

Besides being delicious, basil is a powerful herb with healing properties. It’s used in Ayurveda to promote the long-term health of the respiratory tract, boost the immune system, enhance digestion, stabilize blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, aid in weight loss, enhance mental clarity and reduce painful inflammation, among several other benefits.

In terms of eating for your specific body type, basil is balancing for vata and kapha, as well as for pitta if used in smaller quantities. Don’t know your dosha balance (or body type)? Ask me and I’ll send you an assessment to complete.

RECIPE

Basil Sauce

Basil Sauce Recipe by Luciana Ferraz

Ingredients

  • 3 Large bunches of fresh organic basil (or 6 packed cups)
  • 1 cup of raw walnuts
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 small slices of parmesan cheese or vegan cheese of preference (for creamier texture)
  • 1 clove of garlic, or more if you’re a garlic lover (optional)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Lemon zest to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients in Basil Sauce by Luciana Ferraz

Preparation

  1. First, wash the basil carefully and add the leaves to a bowl with cold filtered water and ice. This will preserve the bright green color of your basil sauce. Gently dry the leaves.
  2. In a food processor, mix basil leaves (small bunches at the time) with the olive oil until you reach a smooth consistency. You can add small amounts of water if needed. Add the walnuts, cheese slices, lemon juice and garlic. Mix until it becomes a creamy paste. Add salt, pepper and lemon zest to complete the sauce.
  3. Enjoy immediately or divide into small glass containers for optimal perseveration. This sauce will last up to two days in the refrigerator and a few weeks in the freezer.

Until next time, here’s to a healthy, happy you!

Luciana

 

All material and information presented by Blueberry Bunch is intended to be used for educational purposes only. Statements made about products, supplements, or treatments have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The information on blueberrybunch.com is not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any condition or disease. Please consult with your own physician or health care practitioner before making changes to your diet, exercise routine, or lifestyle.

 

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Welcome to the Blueberry Bunch blog with wellbeing inspiration

Luciana Ferraz, creator of Blueberry Bunch

Hello! I am so excited to have launched my new Blueberry Bunch blog and website. It’s a place for you to come explore the meaning of wellbeing and what it means to you.

What aspects of your wellbeing are important to you?

Do you want to learn about Ayurveda and how to incorporate it into your daily life?

  • Gain an appreciation for healthier foods?
  • Reduce unhealthy cravings?
  • Learn ways to deal with daily stressors?
  • Achieve your desired healthy weight?
  • Sleep better? Feel more vibrant, confident and even younger?
  • Enjoy better overall life balance?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there are many ways I can support your goals.

Get inspiration you need from the Blueberry Bunch blog, and directly from me.

As an integrative nutrition health coach, certified Ayurvedic counselor and certified yoga instructor, I live to inspire, educate and motivate healthy lifestyle changes within individuals and groups who seek a more balanced and integrative (or holistic) way of living. I’ll be sharing inspiration for you right here on the Blueberry Bunch blog. I’ll deliver it directly to you if you join my newsletter. And I’d love to explore other personalized support with you.

My approach is based on a longtime interest and study of holistic practices.

I developed an interest in healthy living as a teenager, and it inspired me to adopt a cleaner diet and practice yoga. But once I worked in the corporate world for a while, I got burned out. I realized the negative effects of living a stressed-out life. I was constantly running to retreats, yoga classes and cleanses in India to undo the daily neuroses I was living. And I wanted to save everyone I worked with, too, from the unhealthy food in planes and conference rooms, from the lack of work-life balance and so much more. It led me to pursue a higher quality of life with greater balance and knowledge—and I absolutely love using all I’ve learned to motivate and empower others who want restoration for their mind, body and soul.

Don’t just take it from me.

Troy Ludgood, managing director at Head of Core Fixed Income shares, “Prior to working with Luciana, I was easily agitated, had lost motivation for work and found my ‘funks’ to be occurring frequently. The sessions with Luciana have worked in ways that previous efforts have failed. I now feel a richness about life and a sense of purpose and excitement that I haven’t felt in decades.” See what other happy clients are saying.

Let’s stay connected, shall we?

I believe wellbeing is much more than looking after our bodies, and I’ll be sharing many ways you can do that right here on my Blueberry Bunch blog. To explore what it looks like for you:

Until next time, here’s to a healthy, happy you!

Luciana

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