Friday, March 19, 2010

More about Ayurveda. Which Dosha are you?

Ayurveda, the ancient medical/holistic system from the vedic civilization of India, teaches that health is maintained by the balancing of three subtle energies known as Doshas - individually they are Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

This system teaches maintenance and protection of the whole person (mind, body and soul). Ayurvedic medicine is based on an individual's characteristics and body frame rather than oriented toward treating disease or sickness.

Each of us are made up of a combination of the three types of Dosha. The three Doshas are comprised of these five universal elements:
1. space
2. air
3. earth
4. fire
5. water
Vata is a combination of air and space.

Pitta is mostly fire with some water.

Kapha is mostly water with some earth.

Although there are only three Doshas, they can be combined in ten possible ways to arrive at ten different body and behavioural types:

3 single Dosha types
6 double Dosha types
1 tridosha type

If you're interested in finding out your constitution i.e. your combination of the 3 Doshas you can use the following link to complete a short questionnaire.

However, the most reliable way to discover your Dosha type is to visit an Ayurvedic Doctor, who by simply taking your pulse can ascertain it.

The single Dosha type:

If one Dosha is much higher than the others, you are a single-Dosha type. A true single - Dosha type displays the traits of Vata, Pitta or Kapha very prominently.
Your next highest Dosha will still show some influence in your natural tendencies but to a much lesser degree.

The two Dosha type:
Vata - Pitta or Pitta - Vata 
Pitta - Kapha or Kapha - Pitta 
Kapha - Vata or Vata - Kapha

If no Dosha is extremely dominate, you are a two-Dosha type. This means that you display qualities of your two leading Doshas, either side by side or in alternation. The higher one comes first in your body type, but both count.
Most people are two - Dosha types. In some, the first Dosha is very strong which would qualify them as a single-Dosha type except for the prominence of another Dosha. In other cases, the difference is smaller, the first Dosha still predominates, but the second will be almost equal. And in still others, one Dosha will stand out but the other two are exactly tied. They are probably still a two-Dosha type, but the written test did not pick up the second Dosha. If your score is like this, pay attention to the first Dosha as your dominant one, and with time the second will become more clear.

The three Dosha type:
Vata - Pitta - Kapha
If your three scores are nearly equal, you are a three-dosha type. This type is considered rare, however.

Interpreting body types
Your body type is the mould you were cast in and is genetic, it is inherited at birth. Knowledge of your body type enables you to evolve to a more ideal state of health. Understanding it's corresponding behavioural characteristics gives you a better appreciation for the inherent behavioural traits and instincts that you display so easily, without thinking. To grasp hold of yourself and attempt to develop a life of balance, the way you approach the world through your thoughts may be more important than even your body type. Everything you create in your life first starts out as a thought and even your body follows the directions of these same thoughts.

The pure Vata type

Light, thin build. 
Quick to grasp new information, also quick to forget
. Performs activity quickly. 
Tendency to worry
. Irregular hunger and digestion
. Tendency toward constipation. 
Enthusiasm, vivaciousness, imagination
. Tires easily, tendency to over exert. 
Excitability, changing moods. 
Mental and physical energy comes in bursts

The pure Pitta type

Medium build. 
Enterprising character, likes challenges. 
Medium strength and endurance
. Sharp intellect
. Sharp hunger and thirst, strong digestion. 
Precise, articulate speech. 
Tendency toward anger. 
Cannot skip meals. 
Irritability under stress. 
Blond, light brown or red hair
. Fair or ruddy skin, often freckled (or reddish undertones)

The pure Kapha type

Solid, powerful build. 
Slow to grasp new information. Good physical strength and endurance. Good retentive memory. 
Steady energy; slow and graceful. 
Tendency to obesity. 
Slow digestion, mild hunger. 
Tranquil, relaxed personality; slow to anger.
Affectionate, tolerant, forgiving
. Cool, smooth, thick, oily and often pale skin. 
Tendency to be possessive
. Complacent.

Overall well-being and striving for longevity depends on keeping your doshas balanced. Any imbalance among the tridoshas causes a state of unhealthiness or disease. Factors that can bring about balance of the tridoshas are diet, exercise, good digestion, and elimination of toxins.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shatavari, The Queen of herbs, an absolute must for any woman!

I'm so lucky to have come across again, at this stage in my life, the Indian, Ayurvedic herb, Shatavari[asparagus racemosus(pronounced sha-tar-vari)]. In Sanskrit it means "she who possesses a hundred husbands"!
I only started taking a teaspoon of the organic, Indian grown, powdered herb, 3 times a day a few months ago, when Kaya my second born was 3 months old. I was feeling quite exhausted from breastfeeding and keeping up my usual level of activity.
Almost immediately I noticed, not only an increase in my energy levels but that my energy level became more consistent. It's something I've always had trouble with and it's not a commodity you can be short of with two children under 3 demanding all of your attention!

I was recommended to mix the organic powder with some organic, ground ginger then add it to hot milk(it can be any milk ie normal cow's, soya, rice, oat, goat's etc) or even just water. Also, depending on your Dosha(see next post for defintion) you can then add extra herbs such as cinnamon, cloves, even a touch of nutmeg. It makes a delicious, soothing and grounding drink which I positively look forward to three times a day. The grounding benefits being of great importance to my Vata tendencies(see next post).

I first came across it in Mysore, Karnataka, Southern India in 2004 and even took some back home to England for my sister who had just given birth. So yes, a shame maybe that I didn't remember about it before becoming pregnant in the summer of 2006 but thank the Indian gods that I remembered it now.

Shatavari is actually considered to be the most helpful herb for women as it overall helps in balancing the female hormonal system. The main herbal rejuvenative for women Shatavari totally nourishes and cleanses the blood and the female reproductive organs causing it to be very effective in enhancing her fertility. It nourishes the womb and ovum and almost prepares the female organs for pregnancy and prevents threatened miscarriage. It also improves super lactation. Shatavari contains the phyto-estrogens, the precursors of estrogen and is really very useful for women who suffer from low natural estrogen levels as a result of menopause, hysterectomies or oophorectomies.

Benefits of Shatavari
• Shatavari is exceedingly effective in improving fertility. It tones and nourishes female reproductive organs and greatly regulates ovulation
• Shatavari normalizes hormonal secretion
• Shatavari treats PMS symptoms just by relieving pain and controlling blood loss.
• Shatavari aids in proper lactation for nursing mothers
• Shatavari relieves the menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. By producing estrogens it overly makes up for low estrogen levels in women who are in menopausal or have had hysterectomies or oophorectomies
• Shatavari is highly beneficial in amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, leucorrhea and other pelvic inflammatory diseases.
• Shatavari increases the white blood count and almost stimulates macrophages which helps to combat candida.
Indications for taking Shatavari
Shatavari helps in treating for these disorder
• Infertility
• Irregularities in ovulation
• PMS symptoms such as those excessive bleeding, cramps, pain, bloating
• Menopausal and other post menopausal symptoms
• Reduced breast milk secretion in the nursing women
• Amenorrhea, Dysmenorrhea, Leucorrhea and pelvic inflammatory diseases
• Decrease in the libido

Shatavari Facts:
Family Name : LILIACEAE 

Shatavari is in its a climbing plant which grows in low forests all through India . It is mostly the roots of the plant that are used for medicinal purposes. The roots are in nature bitter, sweet, emollient, cooling, nervine, tonic, constipating, opthalimic, anobyne, aphrodisiac. They are in character useful in nervous disorders, dyspepsia, and tumours, scalding of urine, throat infections, tuberclosis, cough bronchitis and for general debility. 

Shatavari increases the white blood count and stimulates greatly macrophages which helps to combat their candida. Shatavari also contains various bioflavinoids, and essential vitamin B components, and the essential elements of calcium and zinc
Shatavari in Ayurveda:
Shatavari has been mentioned in Ayurvedic texts like the Charak Samhita and Susruta Samhita, and Astanga Samgraha. Pandit Hem Raj Sharma and in the Kashyap Samhita, has evidently stated that shatavari promotes maternal health and noted its meticulous use as a galactagogue (enhances breast milk secretion in lactating mothers). Shatavari actually literally means "having a 100 spouses" and ayurvedic texts accurately claim that shatavari strengthens a woman to the point where she is being capable of producing thousands of healthy ova. 

Ayurveda has called Shatavari the Queen of herbs and is the primary herb recommended for female health. Among the three Ayurveda Doshas of 'Vata', 'Pitta' and 'Kapha' , Shatavari efficiently helps in balancing 'Pitta Dosha'. Shatavari's rasas are sweet "madhura" and also in nature bitter "tikta". It is a natural coolant.
Shatavari Research and Clinical Studies
Shatavari nourishes the overall female reproductive organs and prepares them for conception. It also prevents some miscarriages and is useful as a post partum tonic. A clinical study also performed in the Dept. of Gynecology & Obstetrics, Ayurveda Hospital, Nepal on The Effect of Shatavari in to Threatened Abortion and High Risk Pregnancy, showed a 90% of the mothers had successful, healthy pregnancies and deliveries when using the herb shatavari
In a study published in J.Post Grand Med, by Reg.N.N. et. al 1993, Shatavari was greatly shown to stimulate macrophages and thereby combat candida. Macrophages are immunity cells that greatly help to destroy harmful organisms and cancer cells.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pain is not pain, labour is not labour!

I awoke at around 1am with what I thought was a pain from something I'd eaten!
By about 3am I knew it was definitly not something I'd eaten and called the midwife.
The pain to me wasn't pain, it was an intense sensation, which through the use of yogic breathing/postures and some experience of Vipassana meditation was able to handle on my own as I urged Neil to go back to sleep.
At around 8am we greeted Sinnead and she could see the birth was imminent.
Surely enough after taking it easy up the stairs, she told me I was fully dilated and ready to give birth. It all happened so quickly as I wasn't at all anxious and the atmosphere was calm.
I didn't really push Gwendoline out, more breathed her out. The moment her head crowned was certainly the most intense sensation of my life up to that point.
All of a sudden my waters broke her head appeared as did the rest of her body as Sinnead caught her, just!(She was in the middle of explaining to Neil what should happen, normally there would be a long pause between the head appearing and the rest of the body so almost dropped her!)
What a moment of exhiliration, at around 9.30 Gwendoline was on my tummy trying to suckle. Incredible! Nature knows exactly what to do if only we listened and allowed.
Here we are moments after her birth.

This is a great website!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Beyond conditioning

This brings me to what I believe to be the main reason why I forged ahead and did what I felt was right for me from the start. I simply didn't take on board any 'advice' from anyone and certainly didn't pay heed to any negativity coming my way. Which fortunately wasn't a lot due to our decision to move away from our family and hence our conditioning.

With only two meetings with Sinnead my pregnancy continued to be easy throughout which I put down to my keeping active(I'd taken my hand to hemp/lime plastering a week before Gwendoline's birth) and diet. I was and had been for 2 years, vegan. In order to keep my iron/protein and vitamin levels high I was eating a lot Dilisk(Dulse) which grows prolifically along the Atlantic coast

And so drew closer the birth of Gwendoline.
Due date was the 24th April, she decided to come on the morning of the 8th.

It was strange that on the day of the 7th Neil started to light bonfires all around the place. Here I am enjoying the one he lit in front of the cottage, little did I know I'd be holding my child in my arms only hours later, or did I?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Humping stones!

Everyone thought we were mad! And the thought certainly crossed my mind many times over the following few months.
We arrived in Ireland on one of the wettest, darkest days in December of 2006. There'd been so much rain in the preceding weeks we couldn't even drive along the 800m track so spent the night in a local hotel and the next morning started to wheelbarrow our belongings along in, yes, you guessed it, the incessant Irish rain.
At this stage I was 6 months pregnant and the job began to try and find a home birth midwife, easier said than done. Finally towards the end of January I came in to contact with Sinnead Murphy. Although based near Killarney, Co. Kerry, a mere 2+ hours drive away she agreed to be my midwife.
Meanwhile, Neil was doing his best to improve our living conditions and I was helping as best I could having no knowledge of building(demolishing). So at 6 months pregnant I found myself moving stone(not too big), rubble, chipping off old render etc. all the kinds of jobs my conditioning was telling me not to do, never mind all the people around me(except Neil).