I just got back from a whirlwind week in New York and am currently sitting at my kitchen table with a clay mask on, slippers adorned, and coconut oil all over my body. I spent the last week buzzing around the city, co-hosting an Ayurveda pop-up dinner, visiting friends & old stomping grounds, and conjuring up future collaborations so I can get to NYC more often. I realized on this trip how much my purpose is to be a wellness translator, especially for urban dweller corporate worker bees looking for a little more balance and a little less burn out. Because only a few years back, I was there - I spent almost ten years in corporate America and got severely burnt out, which led me to travel for a year around the world, uncovering new ways to truly care for myself that I never knew existed. It was an almost unlearning and relearning process - unlearning the tendency to just follow what ‘they’ say is successful & fulfilling & healthy and uncover what really made me feel truly nourished. It’s not that I don't encounter stress or difficult situations in this new chapter of my book - trust me there are many. It’s just now I feel that I have way more tools in my tool box to recognize when I’m starting to feel off kilter, and processes in place that allow me to take baby steps back toward my thriving state (which I had no idea existed since I spent most of my life in survival mode). And I feel compelled to share these tricks of the trade in hopes of helping others gain access to a more nourishing and fulfilling life.
The language that Ayurveda lays out around intuitive living really helped me understand how to balance out when things start to go awry. I've come to realize that balance isn’t something you arrive at - it's a constant ebb and flow between ease and dis-ease. If we ignore the signs, our swings from one to the other can be quite drastic. More often than not, I actually think many of us spend a lot of our time on the dis-ease side of the spectrum, ignoring the signs and pushing ourselves because of the crazy expectations society puts on us to be faster, better, and more productive. We also tend to live more on the dis-ease side because we have never really been trained on how to recognize the early stages of imbalance, nor do we have the proper tools in place to return toward the best version of ourselves. Why? Maybe because we have either never felt what its like to be our best selves, never explored what it would feel like, or feel guilty for even going there (more on that in a future post).
The main law of Ayurveda energetics is like begets like and opposing forces balance. For example - maybe you feel angry (heat). You start getting flushed (heat). Your eyes start to burn (heat). Then you start to feel like your getting gastritis or a urinary tract infection (heat, heat). Then in response to the pressure, you decide to burn off some steam by either pushing yourself at hot yoga (heat), going out and having a glass (or seven) of red wine (heat), or eating some spicy Indian food (heat). The problem is heat + heat = more heat, like begets like. When you start to develop symptoms of heat, you need to go for cooling ‘treatments,” like cooling breathing techniques, drinking cooling beverages like cucumber and mint water, taking a cool shower, or rubbing some aloe on your body where it feels hot, i.e. opposing forces balance.
When it comes to travel, the plane ride, change in environment, change in time zone, and busy schedule all increases the quality of mobility and the ether and air elements go all outta whack. When theres too much erratic mobility, we can expect to see symptoms associated with this quality mainly around lack of proper movement, i.e. constipation, poor circulation or cold extremities, dry skin, excessive thoughts, maybe even a smidge of anxiety from sitting in a cab on the way to the airport in massive traffic (maybe just me), trouble sleeping, you get the picture. These are all signs that vata dosha is aggravated. Remember that vata represents the energy in our bodies associated with air, space, and movement.
Here are a few tips to help combat that excess mobility and get you back on track once you touch down.
* G R O U N D O U T - Do something that literally gets your mind or your feet grounded. Go for a slow walk around the neighborhood, stick your feet in some sand, do something that gets your mind to slow down and focus on right now. For me this morning it was sitting at my kitchen table, cracking walnuts, and picking down coriander seeds that I’ve been drying over the summer to use in my cooking. It could be reading a book in bed, drawing, journaling, anything that gets you to slow down and increase stability to combat all that mobility from traveling.
* C R E A T E . R E G U L A R I T Y in your schedule - The plane ride and change in schedule may have set your rhythm all out of whack, so the best thing you can do is create as much regularity in your schedule as possible. Try to eat your meals around the same time, go to bed as early as you can, and try not to skip meals. So I traveled a bunch for work when I was working in corporate retail, and I get that this one can be tough. At minimum, try to at least implement some sort of morning routine for yourself - you can have a longer version for when you have more time and a more abridged version when you are traveling with only a few minutes to spare in that hotel room before you have to rush off. For me, my minimum base is I put on my slippers (yes I travel with them everywhere), make a coffee, listen to Max Richter "Sleep" album, and sit in my pjs for at least 10-15 min at a desk or table. My longer version involves grinding & making my own coffee with cardamom & cinnamon, doing yoga, watering my plants, making breakfast (usually steamed egg with avocado on fresh bread & herbs), and listening to music, but I’m a realist and know I don’t always have the time to do it all. The point is that an established morning routine represents something stable and dependable you can always go back to and look forward to when you feel out of balance. And you can have different versions based on the amount of time you have each morning.
* Eat and drink W A R M & N O U R I S H I N G F O O D S - This one’s important. Warm, heavy, and nourishing foods will help you settle all that erratic movement caused by travel and help calm you down. Drink herbal teas if you can (or ask for hot water with lemon on the plane), eat denser foods like purees and soups. Favor cooked foods over raw, and go for foods you know are easy on your digestion. Warm liquids help to correct the movement of vata so you can get things moving properly and back in order!
* L A T H E R . U P ! - Erratic movement from travel can cause some serious dry skin. I always travel with a tiny bottle of coconut oil to lather up on the plane, but once I’m off and arrive at where I’m staying, I lather up any chance I can get. This morning, I did a heavy clay mask on my face and put unrefined raw coconut oil all over my body, especially areas that feel super dry. Maybe we don’t think about this, but our skin is super porous, so oil application can reach beyond the skin layer, into the tissues, and help you stay & feel nourished!
* Correct your digestion with C C F. T E A - we served this super easy tea at our Ayurveda dinner and everyone loved it. Mix equal parts Cumin, Coriander, & Fennel seed, boil in water, let it reduce down a bit, and sip away! CCF is considered trip-doshic, meaning it helps to balance out and correct all three doshas. If you are having any problems with upset stomach and constipation, this will surely help to keep you moving. If time is a concern, Banyan Botanicals makes an already blended mix that you can bring on your trips - all you need is a tea ball and some hot water and you’re in business!
* Oh, and if you can’t sleep, two words - Y O G A N I D R A.
Ok time for breakfast. Bye for now from my kitchen table ❤️ Sending you all love and grounding energy from Sonoma County. Ps if you feel like testing out these new tricks and traveling some more, we still have a few spots left this October for our olive harvest retreat! More details HERE