Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Turmeric Milk
It’s cold tonight in Santa Monica. Damp, biking home with my nose running, feeling rundown after a long day socializing and connecting and trying to pick out gifts and talking and listening to music and biking to and from the annual Eco-Gift festival in Santa Monica. I have to get up tomorrow for BKS Iyengar’s birthday bash of 108 sun salutations and then I have to do the socializing all over again. What to do? Ayurveda.
One of my favorite Ayurvedic remedies is turmeric milk. Hot milk cooked with turmeric powder and then a pinch of sugar and a little bit of ghee. Warm, two cups, it’s my favorite remedy for colds, flus, for those run-down days for calming the windy airy dry energy of the vata dosha while simultaneously soothing and reducing the hot fiery agitating energy of the pitta dosha. From the first sip I can feel it. And it’s easy to make: one cup of milk with 1/4-1/2 tsp turmeric, heat until warm and blended, pour into a cup, add ghee and sweetener, drink while lying in bed, hot water bottle at my feet, body wrapped up in a recovery bag from Get Earthed. The next morning, I woke up congestion clear, muscle aches gone, no headache. I let myself sleep in as well, to facilitate recovery.
When I went to the Iyengar Center of LA, Rupa reminded me of another ingredient to add to the mix: a pinch of black pepper. I’ve also made turmeric milk with a pinch of saffron (delicious, sattvic/promotes clarity, and warming for cold nights), or some crushed cardamom (helps to increase prana, the subtle life-force). The next night, I made turmeric milk again: one cup milk, 1/2 tsp turmeric, pinch of freshly-ground black pepper. No sweetener tonight because I felt that I ate too much sugar already. Then I added a little ghee to smooth it out. It’s actually delicious. Be careful, though, turmeric stains everything. A little care is well worth it, as turmeric is shown to be anti-inflammatory, a natural anti-histamine, anti-microbial, and even is believed to have protective effects against cancer. Turmeric milk is easy to make and a soothing home remedy for colds and flus, and it works for me without fail.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Biking through Santa Monica
It wasn’t a dark and stormy night but it was a foggy and cloudy evening. So foggy that the mist enveloped my skin, blanketed me, felt at home on my skin, soft, like lotion, soothing, like standing out in the rain. I loved the smell of it, biking through it, my pedals rotating in circular movement. The perpetual motions creating a counteracting force to the thick heavy kapha energy of the marine layer settling in over the streets. I love the fast breath that comes with the rhythmic circulation of the pedals; it’s the perfect counterpart. Cutting through the air with the a car would only dampen my spirits, make me feel ever more sleepy, tired, lethargic, heavy.
No matter the season, whether the dry windy fall of the airy vata months or the sunny overwhelming heat of the pitta summer, a kapha day can fall like a quilt. Sometimes comforting, it can also be heavy, dulling. The experience can instigate needed rest or slow everything down too much. In Ayurveda, kapha is the earth and water elements, carried on rain clouds, deposited in mud. Yet kapha also gives structure to rocks and stone, earth and balustrade. Kapha gives an energy like the energizer bunny, going and going and going. Stamina, steadiness. But when we are unprepared or already slow, the stagnation can be overwhelming.
The remedy: sweat, move, sing, call out, sprinkle hot peppers over food, favor warm drinks and eschew ice. Bake potatoes instead of serving cooling potato salad. Ladle bowls of warm soup. After I biked home, I warmed tea, I heated water to place inside a hot water bottle (one of my favorite indulgences for seasons tinged by either vata or kapha cold), served myself a bowl of hot soup. Warmed myself inside and out. Enjoyed the smell of fog.