Dry, cold, undernourished muscles with a change in range of movement that leaves you stiff, un-lubricated and in pain can be described as one aspect of Vata imbalance (a syndrome of symptoms indicating stress and strain within the body). In order to restore balance, remedies of opposite qualities are indicated. Natural essential fatty acids and lubricating fluids to hydrate and smooth movements, warming lotions and potions to increase circulation and life giving nutrients inside which also restore the health and vitality of the skin’s protective function outside. These are the nourishing tonics which increase strength and stability for muscles that are under strain from lack of ‘optimum nutrient’ love.
Ayurveda advises that all foods have qualities that make them good for some things and not so good for others. Below are some recipes which incorporate some Ayurvedic dietary suggestions for re-establishing health of Vata Dosha, one of the functioning systems of the body that, when healthy, ensures ease of functional movement and less pain.
- Quinoa (high in protein and gluten free) with Turmeric (analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties). Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and reduce heat. Add 1 cup of dry quinoa. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes (until water is absorbed and grains look slightly see through). Strain and set aside. Heat sesame oil in a frying pan and sizzle any of your favourite herbs and spices including ½ – 1t turmeric for a few seconds. Add carrots, cauliflower and leeks (Vata reducing) and lightly sauté. Add quinoa and stir all together. Enjoy!
- Spelt (Triticum Spelta) grain toast (easy to digest) with cinnamon (warms the body and improves flow of Prana) and a little ghee (lubricates tissues and improves nourishment via increasing digestive strength). Buy spelt bread, or make some and toast. Use ghee in place of butter and sprinkle generously with cinnamon.
- Chywanprash (nourishes tissues and improves digestion). Warm a cup of almond milk (nutritious!) and mix a tablespoon of Chywanprash in once off heat (increases nourishment to body and builds strength). There are a number of online stores that sell Chywanprash. My favourite is AyurvedaPura who have won awards for their fabulous blend.
- Vata dosha tea (reduces symptoms of stress and strain). Get a big teapot out and fill with boiling water. Grate an inch of fresh ginger and put that in the pot. Now mix ½ t of ground cardamom and cinnamon and ajwain (carom seeds) and add to the pot. Let it steep for 5 minutes or so, strain and enjoy at least 2 cups a day.
- Kitcheree (gives digestion a rest, increases strength and provides easy nourishment) with Vata pacifying spices (helps relieve symptoms of stress, dryness and cold). Take ½ c of mung beans and soak overnight then rinse. Boil 5 cups of water in a saucepan, adding mung, 1 c of washed basmati rice, 1 onion, 3 cloves of garlic, ½ t black pepper, turmeric , cumin, fenugreek, rock salt and 1 inch of fresh grated ginger. Simmer for about 25 minutes until soft and soup-like. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and rocksalt before serving.
Cleansing and nourishing the body via morning abhyanga (daily oiling with sesame oil) is one of the prize teachings of Ayurveda. This simple technique can transform many a stiff body (and mind!) with its application. Snehana meaning ‘oiling’. This Sanskrit word can also be translated as love. As we all know, love has the power to take away many pains. But, don’t take my word for it. Start your daily abhyanga practice along with your other morning ablutions and you’ll soon be a convert.
- Warm the sesame oil in a saucepan, gently, over a candle food warmer. You can also warm by placing a bottle of sesame oil in a cup of hot water.
- Apply generously to the whole body, or if there is less time just to the feet, abdomen, lower back and face. If you have time to wash your hair afterwards, apply to the hair as well as the body.
- Put on loose clothing that you don’t mind getting oily. You can leave this oil on as little or as long as you have time for. This is a great time for your daily Yoga practice!
- Before you start your work or leave for work have a warm shower and rinse away the oil without soap. Your skin will be thoroughly clean, no squeak though, as you are already moisturized too! Go about your day all loved up!