When I was a young girl my parents didn’t have much money. My mum took care of me, while my dad worked. He worked hard. So hard in fact the majority of my earliest memories only contain my mum or nanny. Although my earliest memory is crawling to the front door to greet my dad after a hard days work, I obviously missed him.
As we had very little money we used to go on holiday to my grandparents caravan in Overstrand, Norfolk. A simple place full of people making the most of what good weather England gifts us in the summer months. A seaside village that had seen better days but was quaint and joyous in it’s own very special way. I can say with complete honesty, these were some of my happiest days.
Today I went to the beach for the first time this year and was instantly reminded of these simple times. The warm sun was momentarily masked by the coastal breeze, the waves had a frosty edge and the wind made it difficult to see through the mane of hair being blown across my face.
I walked to the lands edge and decided it wasn’t a day at the beach until my shoes came off, so off they came. I stepped into the chilly sea and felt the gentle waves creep up my ankles. I began to wiggle my toes and feel the sensation of the sand, the sea, the smells of food being cooked nearby and seaweed, the sounds of happy children all around, all as I watched each wave one by one ebb and flow toward and away from me.
I was transported back to this time in my childhood in Norfolk, around 5 or 6 years old. Stood hand in hand with my dad as he made me feel at ease with the rocky, sharp sand and the icy cold temperature of the water. He told me to wiggle my feet down into the sand as that would keep them warm. He called it the “squidgy squadge..”
I can’t really remember a time where the squidgy squadge didn’t exist, nor would I want to if I’m honest with you.
The trick is to wriggle and wiggle with all your might to slowly descend further into the sand and feel every grain as it engulfs your feet. It’s a wonderful feeling and is more often than not, the first thing I do when I walk on the beach. From Overstrand to Brighton, from Goa to Crete I have squidgy squadge’d my way across the shore.
There is magic in moments and memories like this, a short of time capsule. Whenever I do the squidgy squadge I am transported back to the first, last or even any time I have squadge’d a squidgy before. The memories are so embedded in those moments of sensation, where I truly immerse myself in the moment that I can recall them so clearly.
I truly believe that there is a place in this world for magic. Not the wizardry of the movies, nor the witchery of old. But the magic of the everyday, the silly stuff anyway.
Magic is everywhere and can creep up on us at anytime giving us a snippet of happiness from a time gone by. Give in and let it unfold. Just watch the magic happen..
Ayurveda is a holistic science of health, focusing on maintaining a physically and emotionally balanced state. Ayurveda began about 5,000 - 6,000 years ago when Indian monks were looking for new ways to be healthy. Revering their bodies like temples, the monks believed that preserving their health would help them meditate and develop spiritually. Over thousands of years of observations, they gathered all their conclusions and advice and preserved it for future generations. This collection of knowledge came to be known as the "science or knowledge of life" - Ayurveda.
How is Ayurveda different from modern medicine?
In Ayurveda, every individual is unique and there is no diet or lifestyle routine that works for everyone.
Prevention is key. Ayurveda focuses on providing specific advice and guidance on how to maintain physical and emotional health.
Food and lifestyle routines are considered the most important medicine. If you come to an Ayurvedic doctor with a complaint, you are more likely to leave with a recipe than with a prescription for pills.
How does Ayurveda work?
Ayurveda is based on the principles of three doshas. Doshas are the energies that make up every individual, which perform different physiological functions in the body:
The 3 Dosha types:
1. Vata Dosha -- Energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and your heartbeat.
In balance: There is creativity and vitality.
Out of balance: Can produce fear and anxiety.
2. Pitta Dosha -- Energy that controls the body's metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and your body's temperature.
3. Kapha Dosha -- Energy that controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturises the skin, and maintains the immune system.
Each person has all three Doshas, but usually one or two dominate. Various Dosha proportions determine one's physiological and personality traits, as well as general likes and dislikes. For example Vata types will prefer hot weather to cold and Kapha types are more likely to crave spicy foods than other types. Generally these are considered to be characteristics of each mind/body type:
Characteristics for Vata predominant types: Creative; Quick to learn and grasp new knowledge, but also quick to forget, Slender; Tall and a fast-walker; Tendency toward cold hands and feet, discomfort in cold climates; Excitable, lively, fun personality; Changeable moods; Irregular daily routine; High energy in short bursts; Tendency to tire easily and to overexert; Full of joy and enthusiasm when in balance; Responds to stress with fear, worry, and anxiety, especially when out of balance; Tendency to act on impulse; Often have racing, disjointed thoughts; Generally have dry skin and dry hair and don't perspire much.
Characteristics for Pitta Predominant Types: Medium physique, strong, well-built; Sharp mind, good concentration powers; Orderly, focused; Assertive, self-confident, and entrepreneurial at their best; Aggressive, demanding, pushy when out of balance; Competitive, enjoy challenges; Passionate and romantic; Strong digestion, strong appetite, get irritated if they have to miss or wait for a meal; When under stress, Pittas become irritated and angry; Skin fair or reddish, often with freckles; sunburns easily; Uncomfortable in sun or hot weather, heat makes them very tired; Perspire a lot; Good public speakers; Generally good management and leadership ability, but can become authoritarian; Subject to temper tantrums, impatience, and anger; Typical physical problems include rashes or inflammations of the skin, acne, boils, skin cancer, ulcers, heartburn, acid stomach, insomnia, dry or burning eyes.
Characteristics for Kapha Predominant Types: Easygoing, relaxed, slow-paced; Affectionate and loving; Forgiving, compassionate, nonjudgmental nature; Stable and reliable; faithful; Physically strong and with a sturdy, heavier build; Have the most energy of all constitutions, but it is steady and enduring; Slow speech, reflecting a deliberate thought process; Slower to learn, but outstanding long-term memory; Soft hair and skin; tendency to have large "soft" eyes and a low, soft voice; Tend toward being overweight; may also suffer from sluggish digestion; Prone to depression; More self-sufficient; Gentle, and essentially undemanding approach to life; Excellent health, good immune system; Very calm; strive to maintain harmony and peace in their surroundings; Not easily upset and can be a point of stability for others; Tend to be possessive and hold on to things. Don't like cold, damp weather; Physical problems include colds and congestion, sinus headaches, respiratory problems including asthma, allergies, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
How do I determine my type?
Most books and websites on Ayurveda will offer questionnaires that can be used to determine your mind/body constitution. My favourite one is offered by Holistic Online, which is very detailed and thorough. Most questionnaires are very similar and will provide similar results. Please keep in mind that shorter questionnaires will give a more generalised and approximate result. Also, your body changes with age, seasons, and life situations so the results will change as well. Taking a few different questionnaires will give you a more definite result for your Dosha type.
I know my Dosha type, now what?
Now you should try to follow the diet and lifestyle routine that fits your mind/body constitution. For example, if you are predominantly Vata, you should include more cooked, warm foods, stay away from icy drinks, and add more warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger to your food. This will prevent any digestion issues that Vata types tend to get, as well, as anxiety, dry skin, or insomnia. Here are some general guidelines for each type:
General Health Tips for Vata Types: Maintain regular habits, try to eat and sleep at the same time every night. Get enough rest and choose foods that are warm, cooked, nourishing, and easy to digest. Sweet berries, fruits, small beans, rice, and all nuts and dairy products are good choices for Vata types. Exercise intensity should be moderate. A more meditative yoga, Tai chi, walking, and swimming are all good. Avoid strenuous and frantic activities.
General Health Tips for Pitta Types: It's important for Pittas to keep cool by avoiding overexposure to direct sunlight and fried and spicy foods. Avoid alcohol and tobacco, overworking, and overheating. When aggravated, susceptible to feeling negative emotions like hostility, hatred, intolerance, and jealousy. Choose fresh vegetables and fruits that are watery and sweet, especially cherries, mangoes, cucumbers, water melon, and avocado. Have lots of salads with dark greens such as arugula, dandelions, and kale. Avoid conflicts. Cultivate the virtues of honesty, morality, kindness, generosity, and self-control.
General Health Tips for Kapha Types: It's important to be active on a daily basis as Kapha types are prone to sluggishness, depression, and being overweight. Getting out of the house and actively seeking new experiences is also recommended. Be receptive to useful change, be intentional in implementing life-enhancing actions. Choose foods that are light, warm, and spicy. Tea with dried ginger and lemon is a great pick-me-up for Kaphas. Avoid heavy oily and processed sugars, which are detrimental to Kaphas. Use lots of spices such as black pepper, ginger, cumin, chilli and lots of bitter dark greens.
This is my first blog in a long time, I warn you I do ramble but luckily I will keep them short for you.
If I were to choose a day to have a public holiday it would be today; the 1st March.
Somehow today always seems to give me a lift, no matter how I'm feeling I always feel better as the day goes on.
There is a lightness, an energy and yet also a softness to March, a beginning and also a natural ending. A time for things to blossom and grow but also take root.
There are many nature themes to March as it's a time where annual planting begins and everything comes to life once again. Animals come out of hibernation and so do humans.
SAD is becoming an ever increasing problem in todays society. It creeps in somewhere around September for some and doesn't leave until now. When the days begin to lengthen and become brighter people feel the weight of winter lifting and their pessimism goes with it. I have found this with every human encounter I have had today, including myself.
Tonight I will be teaching a Yoga class on this very theme. Alongside my regular classes I'm also running a Yoga Retreat this weekend in Dorset. I have been thinking a lot about Spring and how it makes people feel. My Facebook and Instagram news feeds a full of people blossoming life daffodils whether it's intended or not. Much like my decision to start blogging again I am inspired by the world waking up to light once again.
Seeing others step out in to their brightest selves is truly inspiring. I woke up this morning in a funk and had to drag myself out of bed, luckily I have my gorgeous energetic puppy springer spaniel Twiglet to help me. Anyway, I dragged my sorry ass out of bed and into the shower, it was freezing but I didn't mind, it made me feel alive!
Twigs and I went for a nice long walk, it was drizzling and windy but my hair was already wet from the shower so what did I have to loose? We ran together, walked and talked as usual and took in each moment smelling the flowers and smiling at strangers.
When I arrived home I had a few errands to sort so I did them as quickly as possible so I could cuddle a sleepy pooch.
I decided to leave her in peace and finalise my plans for this weekends Yoga retreat, the very first one I have done! I have organised week long Yoga retreats in the past but never a weekend, I was daunted at how much I needed to fit in. Somehow I have managed it.. I hope!
I opened one of my most prized books: Four Chapters on Freedom, otherwise known as The Yoga Sutra's of Patanjali. A book that brought Yoga to life for me. I usually read it once a year and that took me to my diaries of previous years. It turns out that every March for the past 4 years I have read his book.. How odd is that? How have I managed this? Now my Yoga teacher training was over the month of March so maybe thats it, but still what an amazing coincidence. There must be something within me that craves the knowledge at this time.
Like a plant i'm taking root, going to the source and growing towards the light.