What Does Cold, Windy Weather Have to Do With Anxiety? It’s Vata Season!

barbara-sinclair-what-do-cold-wind-and-anxiety-have-in-commonHere we are again, at the juncture of the seasons. Where I live in the Northeastern US, it seemed as though the high heat and humidity would never leave. And then all of a sudden, it was hat and scarf weather. Windy, cold and wet. 

Yesterday I bundled up and went outside only to find it was warm again. Had to march back upstairs and peel away the layers.

But soon the cold will cause the leaves to change color, dry up and blow off the trees with a little help from the wind.

Ayurveda is very cautionary about the change of seasons. Our bodies need extra-special TLC as the climate shifts and different elements take charge.

“The Ayurvedic texts say that a disease can take root in the body only during the junctions between the seasons, when all nature is in flux. Because of the upheaval dominating these junctions, the body’s natural immunity becomes virtually defenseless against impending disease.” -Maya Tiwari

In Vata Season, the elements of air and ether predominate. This is shifting from Pitta Season, where fire and water were abundant.

Note: If you’re still experiencing any heat-related symptoms in the body (rashes, acidity, etc.) you might want to read this article I wrote recently. 

It’s always important to cleanse the body of excesses from the previous season and Mother Nature has just the right foods to help.

The air element in Vata seems easier to comprehend than ether (or space). We recognize the wind blowing and also that the air element inside the body is what moves everything.

But what role does ether play in the body? Here’s a great article by Dr. Marc Halpern from the California College of Ayurveda which explains how this mysterious element behaves in the body.

Vata dosha is dry, mobile, cold, light, rough, clear and subtle.

Whether or not Vata is predominant in your constitution (take this quiz to determine yours), all of these Vata characteristics can bring about an imbalance.

Because Vata by nature is movement, it rules the other two doshas, Pitta and Kapha. Nothing happens without Vata. There would be no breath, no blood coursing through our veins, no elimination, no thought processes.

Vata is the queen (or king) of the doshas.

And it can wreak havoc during fall and early winter. This I know for sure. The more awareness I place on this changeable dosha, the more I am able to keep my anxiety and fear at bay.

Vata dosha, more than anything else, needs to be deeply nurtured and nourished.

In addition to Vata Season, there are also Vata times of the day – 2:00-6:00 am and 2:00-6:00 pm. These are hours when you might find increased Vata. Bear this in mind during your day.

Here are a few signs that your Vata dosha might be increased and needs balancing:

  • Feelings of heightened anxiety, nervousness and fear
  • Bothered by cold and wind
  • Sleep is interrupted and light
  • Excess worrying
  • Excess stimulation is bothersome – i.e. crowds and loud noises
  • Intestinal gas, constipation – the colon is the seat of Vata dosha
  • Dryness – skin, hair, stools, eyes, etc.
  • Feeling disorganized and overwhelmed
  • Can’t sit still
  • Fatigue following bursts of energy. Crash and burn (this is typical of Vata energy)
  • Depletion

Like increases like in Ayurveda, so think opposite to bring your Vata back into balance.

  • Dress warmly and keep a scarf around your neck, especially when windy. The back of the neck is very vulnerable to wind.
  • Eat more warm, gently cooked seasonal foods. Root vegetables are especially grounding for Vatas.
  • Avoid cold drinks. Opt instead for warm beverages like spiced herbal teas, warm spiced milk, or warm lemon water with honey.
  • Eat enough healthy fats and oils (especially ghee)
  • Avoid over-exercising, which can aggravate already high-energy Vata. Gentle yoga, tai chi and qigong are excellent choices.
  • Take quiet walks in Nature – it’s very grounding for airy Vatas.
  • Meditation and pranayama (breathing practice) can help soothe Vata anxiety and fear.
  • Daily self-massage with warm grounding oils like sesame or almond oil is extremely calming to the nervous system. Or, try an herbalized Vata oil.
  • Try to stay away from loud, noisy environments and when you can’t avoid them, take a moment to breathe deeply and find your inner calm.
  • Keep a regular routine with regards to sleeping, eating, working, etc. is imperative for Vatas, who love variety and can easily lose focus. An ideal bedtime is between 9:30–10:00pm.
  • Nurture yourself as much as possible on a daily basis!
  • Determine your Ayurvedic prakriti (click HERE). Follow the food guidelines for your constitution and you’ll be on the right track.

When balanced, Vata-type people are creative, optimistic, joyful, forgiving, flexible, and full of enthusiasm. They thrive on change and love to discover and experience new things. 

While fall has always ushered in feelings of high anxiety for me, so too has it been a time of super-charged creativity.

Each year I learn a little bit more about keeping the energy balanced, deeply nurturing myself and allowing myself to receive help from others. Especially those gifted with organizational skills. :) 

Vata Season is also a special time for going within and connecting to our Source. Vata people generally have a very spiritual nature. 

So, take the time to get quiet, meditate, be in Nature, and you might find yourself receiving amazing messages to guide you in your life.

May the winds of Vata be gentle this season for us all.

Much love,

Posted in Anxiety, Autumn, Ayurveda, Change of Seasons, General Wellness, Self-Care, Vata | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mother Nature, Words of Wisdom, and a Fairy Sanctuary


Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

You never know what gems await you when you venture out into the world.

I spent last weekend at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, NY and my mind, body and spirit drank in all kinds of goodness.

I’ve been to Omega many times over the years and always breathe a sigh of relief when I arrive. It’s like camp for adults because, well, it used to be a camp and still looks like one.

There are cabins, dormitories, camping, a mess hall (aka cafeteria), and acres of blessed woods and a lake.

A welcome sight, coming from Jersey City.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to smell pine trees and breathe in the clean crisp air as I was this year, having barely tolerated a hot, humid, dusty and construction-laden summer.

I love sitting down to meals and meeting new people. The kindest seekers seem to gravitate to this place.

I heard stories of grief, loss, determination, exploration, elevation, and miracles, told with open hearts, humor and grace.

All this while eating delicious locally grown food.

Omega Institute organic garden

Omega Institute organic garden

In the most perfect setting.

barbara-sinclair-lake-at-omegaYou’ve probably noticed that I’m forever quoting poet, spiritual teacher and storyteller, Mark Nepo. Well, his workshop, based on his book “The Endless Practice: Becoming Who You Were Born to Be” was the reason for my Omega visit.

Sometimes we actively seek out a teacher. Sometimes they’re thrust upon us. And sometimes they serendipitously appear out of the blue.

Such was the case for me with Mark Nepo. I was watching Super Soul Sunday one day last year and saw his interview with Oprah. I was mesmerized by his grace, his authenticity, his humbleness and his incredibly beautiful words of wisdom.

I began with his “Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have”.

The short daily entries have become my daily soul breakfast.

Each day I read Mark’s words, so poetic and true, with my morning tea. And I sigh, always in agreement of the truth he has placed before me.

I’ve only met him once, and may never meet him again, but Mark Nepo has become my teacher. In his humbleness, Mark would probably say that all of us are as much his teachers as his students.

I have been devouring his books and audio recordings, feeding my heart and soul and feeling so blessed to have found this teacher at this particular time in my life.

I offer you a few gems from Mark Nepo. Perhaps his words will resonate with you, too.

“Poetry is the unexpected utterance of the soul.”

“You can’t conquer fear. You can only let it pass through like wind through a tree.”

“When we can follow what moves us, we break open what is possible and the light of the soul spills out of us.”

“Authentic living begins with our acceptance of what we’re given.”

“If you try to comprehend air before breathing it, you will die.”

“The time has come to put our stones down.
  For hands clutching stones can’t freely drum.
 And hearts fisting the past can’t freely sing.”

“Repetition is not failure,
Ask the waves, ask the leaves, ask the wind.”

Thank you, Mark Nepo.

One last share about my weekend. Many of you know about my affinity for fairies. You know who you are. If I had a dollar for every person, friend and stranger alike, who has told me I look like a fairy, I have fairy energy, etc. I’d be a wealthy woman.

I’ve even noticed my ears look strangely pointed, especially in photographs. :)

Perhaps it’s the reason I somehow feel at home when I visit the woods (although I’ve been a city girl my whole life). Who knows?

Anyway, after I arrived at Omega and put my things in my room, I went for a walk – heading down to the lake.

As I walked down the path, something made me glance to the left where my eyes beheld the sweetest little fairy sanctuary someone had built under a tree.

It wasn’t a big tree, I could have easily missed it, as most people I mentioned it to, had.

But there it was, a home for the wee ones, and a spot for us humans to sit and contemplate fantasy vs. reality, and the wonders of Mother Nature.

barbara-sinclair-fairy-sanctuaryA perfect weekend. I am so grateful.

Much love,


Posted in Inspiration, Learning, Nature | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Here Are My All-Natural Remedies for Depression and Anxiety – What Are Yours?

barbara-sinclair-all-natural-depression-remediesMany many years ago my doctor said to me “You really should be on medication. You have too many highs and lows.”

I stubbornly refused, telling her that the waxing and waning of my moods in many ways reflected my rhythm of making art. Some of my best work was created during the lows, some of it during the highs. And I was not going to mess with that.

I wanted to feel passion and pain and joy and suffering. All of them. They’re an equally important part of life and I didn’t want to feel flatlined.

While perhaps the people in my life might have felt otherwise, I’m grateful that my intuition back then guided me to refuse my doctor’s well-intentioned advice. I know far too many people who have succumbed to prescription meds for depression and anxiety, never to get off of them decades later.

Medication was suggested to me again, when I had fibromyalgia, after my divorce, and then years later, after my partner died. Again, I declined.

Let me just say that this is by no means a condemnation of anti-depressants or the people who take them.

I know many people who would say that medication saved their life. Literally. Especially Kapha-type individuals who often struggle with deep and long term depression.

We are all different and I can’t impose what has worked for me onto others.

But I’ve thought a lot about this lately, as depression has peeped into my life here and there – especially after my partner’s death.

It’s not a lay-around-the-house-unable-to-function kind of depression. Although I’ve experienced that phenomenon as well in the past few years, usually it’s a day or two here and there feeling blue and not wanting to be social.

And it’s not an I-can’t bear-to-be-alone kind of depression. Along with the artist thing, I’m an introvert at heart and so being alone comes naturally.

But I know the signs when I’ve let myself be solitary too long. And then, as if through mental telepathy, the friends who know me so well start to reach out and try to coax me from my cave.

We are, after all, not meant to be solitary creatures.

On my bike ride this morning I started to mentally compile a list of all the things that I’ve learned to turn to to when I feel anxiety or depression knocking on my door.

There are no drugs on this list. Not even any herbs. Nor foods that comfort me. Because, of course, potato chips, ice cream and Scottish shortbread don’t really help lift a depression.

Instead, my list consists of activities I love. Some of them I’ve loved since I was a child and I think that’s a big clue for you to compile your own anti-depression/anxiety list.

Here’s mine:

  1. Riding my bike. I wrote a whole post about my precious pink bike. I can feel like crap, my emotions bouncing up and down, but when I hop on that bike and go to the river, it’s like the emotional storm dissipates and the sun comes out. Even when it really is about to storm (I got caught in a downpour last week), I feel good.
  2. Listening to music. There was a time when I needed silence for a while and stopped listening to music. Now, I need it again. Coming through headphones, it seems to have an even greater ability to lift me up. Singing along, of course, is even more of a depression/anxiety killer. And when I add
  3. Dancing – well, that just lifts me up even more. I didn’t dance for years and years. I was too shy. Now, most mornings you’ll find me with my headphones on, music blaring, dancing alone to my heart’s content. I tell you – it is the BEST depression/anxiety buster out there.
  4. Yoga/Qigong – even just a short 20 minutes, gets me out of my head and into my heart.
  5. Reading a good book. Especially fiction. I’ve always loved disappearing into another world via a good fat book. Even better if a warm blanket and tea and biscuits are involved.
  6. Meditation. My list would not be complete without this state of consciousness which we are all meant to experience daily, right along with sleeping, dreaming and being awake. Meditation did more for my insane anxiety than any little pill ever could. I went from someone who was terrified to get on an airplane to someone who comforts others around her when there’s turbulence. All thanks to meditation.
  7. Movies. Best in a theater, but even at home, a movie can get my stuck emotions moving like nothing else. When I’m feeling blue I intentionally pick a sad or happy or funny movie to get the tears or anger or whatever needs to go out the door.
  8. Nature. I think I saved the best one for last. Sometimes I have to physically force myself out of the comfort of my apartment to get outside and find some green (or even white, in the winter). The clouds, the trees, the water, the animals – they’re the perfect antidote when feeling blue. Standing in a pine forest is sometimes all the prescription I need.

There are two things going on here that are key. One is movement and the other is stillness.

Whenever there is depression there’s stagnation. Our prana, or life force is not flowing. Movement of any kind helps clear out and recharge our chakras and get the prana flowing freely again.

Stillness, on the other hand, is just as important. Running away from uncomfortable feelings without first sitting with them and asking questions is a dangerous habit and will only drive those feelings deeper into our very cells.

And when there’s anxiety, Vata dosha, which rules the nervous system, needs calming.

Years ago when I was terrified of flying, I finally succumbed to anti-anxiety medication. But I was still so wound-up in flight that the drug only heightened my anxiety and when I reached my destination I would be so tired I couldn’t function. Only when I started to meditate did this anxiety finally start to subside.

It is equally important to learn how to be in darkness as it is to be in the light.

The reason I am grateful that I resisted taking antidepressants is that living through those tough times without being drugged forced me to experience that aspect of life.

I learned so much about grief and death and loss and change that I might not have had I just started popping pills.

Coincidentally, my first issue of The Sun magazine arrived with a timely article by Tim McKee titled “The Geography of Sorrow – Francis Weller on Navigating Our Losses”.

“If we have both an adequate level of companionship in our sorrow and periods of solitude that aren’t about distraction or avoidance, then grief will transform itself into tender melancholy. This life we have is incredibly short, but we’ve been blessed with it. When we shut off our grief, we forget that. To let grief work its alchemy on you yields gravitas, by which I mean the ability to be present with the bittersweet reality of life, which always includes loss. There’s no way to be spared sorrow. I wouldn’t even wish that upon someone. But we shouldn’t get stuck in our grief; it’s not a permanent address but a companion that walks beside us….There is indeed such a thing as joyful sorrow.” — Francis Weller

How did this become about grief all of a sudden? Well, because I think that depression almost always bears an element of grief. Grief over the loss of a loved one, a marriage, a home, or a job, just to name a few.

While I didn’t include herbs on my list, they have in the past and still in the present play an important role in my healing.

Herbs are food and food is medicine.There are so many safe and amazing herbs that can calm our nerves and lift our moods. I have studied and learned a great deal about Mother Nature’s remedies.

When I had fibromyalgia, St. John’s Wort was a lifesaver. It helped curb the pain and let me sleep, and it helped me stay positive and out of self-pity.

And even humble chamomile is an incredibly effective nervine.

But I always remember what my Ayurveda teacher, Maya Tiwari taught us. That sticking to a healthy daily routine complete with sadhanas (daily spiritual practices) should always come first before reaching for an herb to bring us back into balance.

And I love the fact that doing something I cherished as a child can often chase away my blues or anxiety.

That’s my short list of truly natural antidepressant/anxiety remedies. Do you know what yours are?

Much love,

Posted in Anxiety, Ayurveda, Chakras, Depression, Grief, Healing, Kapha, Meditation, Nature | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Judgment, Blame and Shame – Meet the Little Voice in My Head

barbara-sinclair-judgment-shame-blame-the-voice-in-my-headI like to think that I’m not a judgmental person.

I like to think that I take responsibility for the things that happen in my life instead of blaming others.

I like to think that I’ve moved beyond feelings of shame.

But on a daily basis, a little voice in my head tells me otherwise. I don’t remember the voice being there years ago. Maybe it was there and I just tuned it out. Maybe it was stunned into silence from too much judgment, blame and shame.

It seems to have started after I began consciously working on my stuff. Healing myself, studying Ayurveda, energy medicine, writing this blog.

Just when you think you’re so conscious or spiritual some little voice tells you that your work is never done. To stop worrying about other people’s stuff. To mind your own business.

I especially hear The Voice when I’m on my bike, free as a bird.

I get a whiff of a cigarette and the minute my mind goes to judgment (So disgusting!), I remember that I smoked for several years. Started in my forties. One of the dumbest things I’ve ever done. So, says the little voice in my head “Who are you to judge? Remember how hard it was to quit?”

Or – what kind of parent lets their toddler loose on the boardwalk when there are bikes and runners whizzing by? “Oh right.” says the little voice, “Remember the time your two-year old got out of her stroller, went down the escalator and was ready to walk out the front door of the department store while you were talking to a salesperson?”

That damn voice has a memory like an elephant.

That’s Judgment Voice. Thankfully, I notice the judgments seem to be getting smaller and more insignificant. I guess that’s thanks to The Voice.

Then there’s Blame. I hear her most often when I misplace something and my mind immediately goes to someone else. When I hear the Blame Voice, I usually laugh out loud. I only have to hear her to know that I lost it, I misplaced it, or I broke it myself.

There’s also serious Blame. The kind that we think we let go of years ago. But it still rears its ugly head, now and again.

For some people it goes back as far as they can remember. Could be an abusive childhood, an argument that never got settled, a divorce, someone who wronged us.

When my mind wanders back too far in the past and grabs ahold of something or someone to blame from the past, the Blame Voice snaps me back to reality. “Let it go.” she says. “There’s two sides to every story.”

And then there’s Shame. Ahh. Sometimes I hear it when I think of someone or something that shamed me in the past. It begs forgiveness.

Because the Shame Voice is reserved strictly for my own shame, it seems to have a gentler edge to it. “It’s okay”, she says, “acknowledge it, let the feeling pass through you, and then let it go.”

Shame is a great deal more painful to deal with than judgment and blame. Because, of course, most of us are way harder on ourselves than others. And somehow we always seem to feel responsible for our own shame.

In fact, the more attention I pay to The Voice, the more I notice that most of the judgment, blame and shame is self-directed.

I find it fairly easy nowadays to forgive and forget. I work really hard at not succumbing to gossip, which seems to always lead to judgment. But the thing The Voice keeps reminding me I need to work on is old self-judgment, self-blame and shame for my own actions in the past that hurt others.

I’m getting better at letting go, moving on, forgiving myself, thanks again to The Voice. Over and over she tells me that the past, however painful, was necessary to bring me to where I am today.

That all of those painful experiences gave me the opportunity to grow, to become the person I was meant to be, to travel towards the light.

“Light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond.”
— Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

Amen to that, Mark Nepo. Deep down inside, judgment, blame and shame aside, I am profoundly grateful for all of the broken pieces of my life. They have shaped me into someone who finally can love herself for who she is. Well, most of the time.

And with humble gratitude, I thank The Voice for keeping me honest and good and true to myself. It’s a daily struggle, but one worth having.

Do you have a Voice in your head, too? I’m curious what yours is yapping about. Please share.

With love,

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
— Mark Twain


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Ayurveda’s Tough Love Recipe for a Good Night’s Sleep (Or How to Sleep Like a Baby)

IMG_1021.JPGHow many articles have you seen lately about getting a good night’s sleep? A lot, I daresay. That’s because it affects us all and any one of us can fall prey to insomnia at any time. Don’t we all wish we could sleep like a baby again?

Lack of sleep can do more than just make us cranky and reach for a cup of coffee. It can make us crazy and it can make us sick. Our body depends on sleep to repair and regenerate. Without it, we’re vulnerable to a host of illnesses too long to list here. And forget looking and feeling our best. It just doesn’t happen without a good night’s sleep.

I know firsthand how horrible chronic insomnia is. When I had fibromyalgia, sleep was practically nonexistent. Pain and an overly sensitive nervous system kept me up most nights. Oh, the irony. I needed the sleep to heal the pain.

I used to joke that I felt like the Princess and the Pea because my bed felt like it was filled with hard pebbles.

I changed the mattress. I made my bedroom a beautiful haven. Desperate for sleep, I succumbed to a pharmaceutical named Ambien. Oh, boy, was that ever a mistake. I went from an insomniac to a sleepwalker doing all kinds of strange things in the night.

I finally found pain relief from herbal remedies and eventually my sleep improved. And only then, did the healing from fibromyalgia begin. But I’ve never forgotten how nearly crazy the lack of sleep made me.

We all know that our natural biorhythms dictate how we should sleep.  And yet still we treat bedtime like a toddler having a temper tantrum. We avoid an early bedtime at all costs. Can’t shut off the computer, tv or telephone. Just one more episode of our favorite show.

Had I known more about Ayurveda back then I feel certain that things would have been much different.

Here are a few basic Ayurvedic principles that are guaranteed to help get your sleep back on track:

1. Respect your biorhythms

Ayurveda divides the 24 hour day into six four-hour cycles.

2:00-6:00 a.m. – Vata Time
6:00-10:00 a.m. – Kapha Time
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Pitta Time
2:00 p.m. -6:00 p.m. – Vata Time
6:00-10:00 p.m. – Kapha Time
10:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. – Pitta Time

In terms of sleep, it’s important to rise towards the end of Vata time (2:00-6:00 a.m.), before Kapha time begins (6:00-10:00 a.m.)

The reason for this is that Kapha is a slow, heavy, often lethargic kind of energy. Sleeping into this time of morning will not result in a rested kind of sleep. It will set you up for feeling groggy throughout the day, even though you may have slept more hours.

Even more important is getting to bed BEFORE Pitta time (10:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.). During the evening Pitta hours, the body wakes up and the organs start doing their work, repairing, regenerating, digesting, etc. The liver is especially active at this time. This energy will wake us up and keep us up (i.e. getting your second wind) and make falling asleep next to impossible.

This time period is the most critical in terms of sleep. Sleeping from 10:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. will do more for your health than sleeping during any other period. Most people with a lot of Pitta in their constitution are the night owls. They laugh at me when I make this suggestion.

Preceding evening Pitta time is Kapha time (6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.). Just like the slow energy in the morning, we experience it in the early evening hours. How many times have you fallen asleep on the sofa during this time? This is when your body is ready for sleep! Take advantage of its wisdom.

2. Eat your largest meal at noon and keep supper light and early (preferably 5:00-6:00ish).

Pitta dosha rules digestion and metabolism, so eating during the Pitta hours of the day – 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.) will help the body immensely.

When we eat a heavy or late supper, our body will unnecessarily be given the task of digesting a big meal during evening Pitta hours, rather than being able to repair and regenerate. Digestion takes roughly 60% of our daily metabolism!

3. Learn to Meditate

Just like we have a sleep state, a waking state and a dream state, we also have a meditative state. It really is as important as all of the others.

Do yourself a favor and learn to meditate. Just twenty minutes, once or twice a day, will change your life and help your sleep state immensely.

An added bonus is that it’s a wonderful remedy for those who wake during the Vata time of morning (2:00 – 6:00 a.m.) and can’t get back to sleep. Meditating during these hours will often result in falling into the most delicious sleep you can imagine.

4. Turn off the lights and all electronics at least an hour before bedtime

The light really does mess with our melatonin and makes it hard for us to fall asleep. Light some candles, take a bath, listen to calming music or read a book (boring is better).

5. Learn how to do Ayurvedic self-massage (abhyanga)

Even newborn babies in India benefit from this age-old practice. HERE’S how it’s done.

6. Use herbal remedies to help with the transition

While we don’t want to become too dependent on anything to help us sleep, herbal remedies are food and can help us immensely, especially in the beginning.

HERE are some good choices from Banyan Botanicals, a wonderful source for clean, sustainable, organic herbs.

I had particular success using St. John’s Wort Extract when I had fibromyalgia. It had a three-fold effect for me – giving me pain relief, helping me sleep, and elevating my moods during the day. St. John’s Wort extract is widely used in Europe for depression.

Keep in mind that our bodies are all different and will react differently to herbs. What might be calming and sedating for one person, might be stimulating for another.

Also, most herbs take time to show any results. Be patient.

We can do this!!! What’s more important – our health or a TV show or Facebook?

I am right there with you. I have fallen into a pattern of not getting out of bed until 7:00-8:00. I feel groggy and lethargic.

This is not my usual routine. Morning is my best time of the day as it should be for everyone. Getting up before 6:00 is magic time in terms of creativity. I know this, and yet I can’t seem to put down that 1,000 page book that I’ve had my nose in until 11:00 every night.

I haven’t mentioned people who regularly work a night shift. It stands to reason that this fights against the body’s natural rhythms in the worst possible way. Aside from suggesting another job, all I can offer is that you nurture your body as best you can in all other aspects of your life.

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that can be helpful to alleviate some of the stress working a night shift has on the body.

I challenge us both to give these tips a try for two weeks and see if sleep doesn’t once again become something pleasant rather than frustrating.

Sweet dreams!

Much love,

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Why You Need to Cool Your Body – NOW


Apples are one of the best foods for drawing heat out of the body

Here we are again, approaching the juncture between Ayurvedic seasons. The heat of Pitta Season will soon give way to the cold and windy nature of Vata Season (Fall/Early Winter).

Ayurveda cautions that this seasonal shift is a tenuous time for our health.

While it’s still terribly hot and humid here in the NYC/NJ area, my body is starting to feel the shift. Little waves of anxiety that are the hallmark of Vata Season are starting to appear. Uh oh…

For those of us who live in temperate climates, the changes are more obvious than for those who live in tropical climates. Still, wherever you are (well, maybe not in places like Scotland where the summer has mostly been cool and wet), if it’s been hot then you might want to heed this warning:

It’s time to kick that accumulated heat out of your body!

Ayurveda is wise and knows that the excesses which accumulate during each season need to be cleared out in order for the body to be healthy during the upcoming season.

In the case of Pitta Season, of course, it’s HEAT that needs to go.

If any of these symptoms ring true for you, you may have excess heat from the hot summer months:

▪ Skin problems such as rash, eczema, hives, psoriasis or dermatitis
▪ Feeling of heat trapped in the body, hot flashes
▪ Burning or itching sensations
▪ Digestive issues such as heartburn, acid reflux, burping, nausea, loose stools or diarrhea, intense hunger
▪ Yellow coating on the tongue
▪ Bleeding gums or canker sores
▪ Excessive sweating (pungent-smelling)
▪ Excessive thirst
▪ Feelings of anger, jealousy, criticism, impatience

While these symptoms may seem to be simply an annoyance, they are actually red flags of imbalance that, left untreated, can lead to more serious problems.

Vata is dry and mobile. If the excess heat of the summer is not properly expelled before entering Vata Season, this hot/dry energy will begin to move upward in the body, weakening it and making it more susceptible to colds, flus, allergies, as well as digestive and respiratory problems.

The body will begin to produce reactive mucus to combat the dryness and we will likely blame it on the person we work with who has a cold.

Mother Nature knows best, as always, and she kindly provides us with foods that are naturally cooling and help to dispel heat from the body.

You need look no further than your local farmer’s market. Chances are that most of the seasonal foods you find will be of a cooling nature, so eat lots of fruits and vegetables at summer’s end.

Especially effective are apples (the sweet kind are best for Pitta types), pomegranates and beets.

Eating lots of these foods may create looser stools. This is a sign that the body is expelling excess heat. So be sure to stay hydrated by sipping water and coconut water throughout the day.

Vata-types especially might benefit from fresh-squeezed lime juice with a pinch of sea salt in water to help ward off dehydration.

For a more complete list of foods that are cooling and Pitta-pacifying, click HERE.

The change of seasons is always a prime opportunity to cleanse the body.

Unlike harsh cleanses which can leave the body in a weakened state, an Ayurvedic cleanse gently clears the body and mind of toxins and brings the doshas back into balance.

Contact me for guidance with an Ayurvedic cleanse.

Next month I’ll be back with lots of tips to soothe your Vata. :)

Much love,

Posted in Change of Seasons, Pitta, Vata | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Thrill of a New Path

Exploring a Path in Northern Michigan

Exploring a path in Northern Michigan

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved paths. Walking on them, biking on them – all the while loving the mystery of where they took me.

That love has only grown stronger as I’ve grown older. I don’t need to search for them, they just seem to appear at the right time.

Just last week in Northern Michigan, I came upon a number of them while walking the country roads or hiking in the woods.

Back home, on mornings when I bike by the river, I traverse through a tiny little city park and always opt to take the path that cuts through it, rather than the easy way around.

No kidding, my heart skips a little beat and I feel like a kid again as a I weave my way through the trees and park benches. It only takes me about thirty seconds, but it’s so worth it.

When I lived in NYC, there was a special path down by the water in Battery Park City where I would always ride my bike. As I got off the tourist-laden main walkway, I would feel for a moment like I was deep in the forest (albeit on concrete). There’s a private little spot with some large boulders and a park bench. Sometimes I would stop to rest, eat my lunch, read a book or meditate.

Now I love to photograph paths as much as set foot or bike on them. There’s such a mystery about them. Where do they lead? Back where you started out? To a dead end? Or to something so incredible it takes your breath away.

Starting out on a hike in the woods last week, my daughter and I came to a fork in the path. The left side was unmarked but the other said “Keep Out”. So we went left and laughed when the path eventually ended at the “Keep Out” sign.

You know where I’m headed, don’t you? This is all such a metaphor for the paths we find ourselves on in our lives.

Talking about “your path” has become almost a cliche in the world of spirituality. But there’s no denying the impact our choices regarding right or wrong paths (some would say there is no right or wrong path – only the one meant for us) make in our lives.

I’ve learned that when faced with a big decision or life change looming ahead, turning to Mother Nature for answers can be just the ticket. Sometimes I do it consciously, but more often than not it just happens. Like being on the path.

That’s why when I’m stuck, or sad, or anxious, I nudge myself outside to be with the trees, the sun, the moon, the clouds, the water, the earth.

When you live in the city, it’s all too easy to hole up inside. I’ve been guilty of it this year and have had to make a conscious choice to fight against that becoming a bad habit.

And each time I step outside it’s like a veil is lifted and answers start to come to me. Almost the same as in a dream or a meditation.

There’s a correlation with everything in our life and Nature. Both the good and the bad. This is a polarity planet, after all.

The sun can illuminate us, give us energy, but it can burn us, too. We say things like “She has a sunny disposition” or “He’s burned me too many times.”

The wind can sweep away stagnant air and cool us down. But it can also be a destructive force.

And on and on.

I was ruminating about these things and came home to find this timely wisdom in my inbox from my friend, Brita.

“This moving away from comfort and security, this stepping out into what is unknown, uncharted, and shaky – that’s called liberation.” — Pema Chodron

Whatever path you choose (or as Ralph Waldo Emerson suggests – go where there is no path and make your own), enjoy the mystery and let it unfold, knowing that your life mirrors Nature in all her ever-changing glory.

Posted in Inspiration, Nature | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Why Jamie Fraser Is the Perfect Pitta Male

jamie fraser starz screenshot pitta

Sam Heughan as Scottish Highlander, Jamie Fraser

Well, the 2015 Emmy nominations just came out and the cast of my favorite TV show, “Outlander” got snubbed. Boo.

I think it’s the first time I’ve ever paid such close attention to the Emmy nominations.

Caitriona Balfe, Sam HeughanTobias Menzies and everyone else involved are spectacular.

And, oh, there’s Scotland, which almost steals the show.

Scottish Countryside

Scottish Countryside

I barely watch other TV shows lately – just “Outlander”, over and over again. And seeing that in print I realize that it’s getting a little out-of-control.

Perhaps I had a past life in Scotland in the 1700’s. I don’t know what it is, but the story has a grip on me and won’t let go.

When I head to the lake with family in a couple of weeks, I’ll take a break. But, maybe I’ll bring the book along and read it again. :) At least I’m not alone, right, Brita?

Which leads me to the reason for this article.

Why Jamie Fraser is the perfect Pitta male.

Most of you who read this blog know what I’m talking about, but if not, let me just say that I’m not comparing Jamie, the kilted Scottish Highlander, to soft leavened flatbread (pita). I’m talking about Pitta Dosha, a la Ayurveda.

Here’s a little refresher.

According to Ayurveda , the doshas are forces or energies comprised of the five elements – space (ether), air, fire, water and earth that make up our human physiology. The same elements that are in nature are within us, as well.

Your prakriti is your individual constitution which you were born with and it never changes. It’s determined by the combination of doshas which are dominant in your psycho-physiological makeup.

All three doshas are present in each of us, just to varying degrees. Most people are a combination of two dominant doshas – rarely just one. Even more rare is a prakriti with three equal doshas (tri-doshic).

In my opinion, Jamie Fraser is the perfect Pitta male.

I have to wonder if Diana Gabaldon (author of the best-selling “Outlander” series of books) knew about Ayurveda when she wrote the story, and that she was creating a perfect Pitta type when she crafted Jamie’s character – the handsome Highlander who has stolen the hearts of millions of readers and TV viewers.

The elements associated with Pitta Dosha are fire and water. Mostly we think of fire when we talk about Pitta.

And Jamie is HOT. :) Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, as well. He embodies all that Pitta Dosha is about. Outlander fans will see the connection immediately.

Pitta types are:

  • Passionate
  • Highly intelligent
  • Warm, friendly
  • Competitive
  • Sharp-witted
  • Independent
  • Courageous
  • Leaders
  • Highly organized
  • Self-confident

Physical characteristics are:

  • Strong, athletic build
  • Sensitive skin – often pale-skinned/freckled
  • Hair is usually smooth and shiny – often red or blond
  • Excessive hunger/thirst
  • Excessive sweating, high heat in body
  • Strong digestion, but gets crabby when they skip a meal

And the unbalanced Pitta type can be:

  • Sarcastic
  • Stubborn
  • HOT-headed
  • Frustrated
  • Irritable
  • Spiteful, jealous or angry when stressed
  • Domineering, vain, ambitious
  • Judgemental, critical, impatient, intolerant
  • Excessively perfectionistic

Can you see how these characteristics all relate to the fire element?

Pitta dosha rules our metabolism, digestion, and the transformation of our thoughts, food and physical activity into energy.

Pitta ignites our agni, or digestive fire.

It rules the blood. Hence, Pitta people are usually hot-blooded.

Pitta types are hot, inside and out – even their internal organs get easily overheated.

“Impervious to cold, he seemed to carry a small furnace within himself, and his skin was always warm; sometimes almost hot, as though he burned more fiercely in answer to my own cool touch.”Outlander

Scotland’s weather, much maligned by many, suits the Pitta constitution because of its cool climate.

And when I visited there in May, I commented to my friend about all the Pitta couples I saw. They were everywhere. Red/blond hair, ruddy complexions, wearing t-shirts while we had on our winter coats!

Back to Jamie…

With sword(s) drawn, Jamie valiantly and passionately rescues Claire (more than once – as she always seems to be getting herself in trouble).

And there are all of the references about his stubborn hot-headedness, which seems to run in the Fraser family.

Like a true Pitta, Jamie is a born leader – Laird of Lallybroch, his home.

Of course, I have to mention Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie in the series, and completely embodies this complex character that Diana has created. To a tee.

And Ronald D. Moore, for creating a show that honors the books, yet has a life of its own. (I saw the show first and then read the books.)

If you want to fully understand why Jamie Fraser is the perfect Pitta man, watch the show (on Starz) or read the book(s). There are eight of them, and another one on the way. Pick your poison – books or TV (or both, like me).

And Emmys be damned. I think I’m going to boycott this year. Except to cheer on Bear McCreary who wrote the amazing musical score and snagged a nomination.

You have no idea what you’re missing. Check it out.

Much love,

P.S. If anyone’s wondering about Claire, the main character in “Outlander”, my best guess would be that she has a Vata-Pitta constitution. Or it could be Pitta-Vata. Claire has a lot of Pitta fire in her personality, to be sure – she’s a force to be reckoned with – but physically she’s more Vata (at least TV Claire is). Claire is played with equal passion by the talented and lovely Caitriona Balfe 

Posted in Ayurveda, Pitta | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

My Bike Is My Muse

Bike2My bike is my muse.

I had this thought the other day while riding my twenty-something-year-old PINK Giant mountain bike. It seems like all I have to do is hop on her and the ideas start to flow.

Sometimes they flow like a river, sometimes they drip like a faucet, and sometimes they flood my mind like a torrential rainstorm.

I’ve tried capturing them by using a dictation app on my phone, or asking Siri to take a note. Sometimes I just have to pull over and grab my notebook.

But more often than not, I merely continue on with the task at hand, which is to go for a bike ride, get some exercise and be outside.

If I were to stop each time my muse threw an idea at me I’d never get my ride in. So, I always say a silent prayer that the important stuff will stick around in my brain until I get home and can write it down.

Technically a muse is an individual (or deity/spirit/guide) who is a source of artistic  inspiration. It’s traditionally a woman – a la the nine goddesses, daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who presided over the arts and sciences.

But I think anyone or anything can be our muse.

My bike has especially good energy. It was given to me as a Mother’s Day present by my kids a couple of decades ago, made the journey with me to NYC, and rode many miles in the company of my partner, Ralph.

I don’t do races or tours. I don’t do any mountain biking, even though it’s a mountain bike. I don’t do anymore crazy NYC city riding like I did when Ralph was alive. I go for fairly leisurely rides by the river that more often than not turn into precious creative time.

It’s no coincidence that this happens most during late spring and summer when it’s Pitta Season. Pitta is all about action, being “fired up”, getting things done.

My Vata creativity melds with my Pitta fire in the summer and sometimes I think I’m going to burst from all of the ideas I have bouncing around in my head.

Have you noticed more emails from me in your inbox lately? I apologize for that, but try as I might to adhere to a regular blogging schedule, it just doesn’t work for me. When inspiration hits and I’m able to harness it and bring something to fruition, I have to go with the flow.

In the wintertime, I have a different muse. Two or three, in fact. But that’s a subject for another time. In summer, I’ve decided that my bike is my muse.

The day I started writing this post my friend, Diana, came over to make lunch (the kindest thing you can do for someone who doesn’t like to cook) and share some of her poetry with me.

Lo and behold, she pulled out a book of poems she’s going to publish titled “Multiverses of a Captive Muse”! Big smile. :) I love synchronicity.

Diana has more of a traditional muse by the name of Calliope (one of the nine daughters), who presides over eloquence and poetry.

I think you’ll agree that Calliope has connected with Diana in a deeply profound way. She oozes creativity and generously agreed to share one of her poems with us.

A Muse Got Free

“A muse got free
and her wings cropped by angels
she believed in
suddenly disappeared.
She found herself
and her new bangs
sent by aliens,
disguised as strength,
as faith and as the new Life
they will abduct her soul
and take her to new universes
full of forces,
full of powerful horses
that will carry her thru
the highest peak in paradise.
It’s now or never baby!”
— Diana Calliope


INFINITAS Series By Diana Calliope

Whether it’s a Greek goddess or an old pink bike, having a source of inspiration is a precious gift.

We’re all born with creative potential for whatever we were meant to do in this lifetime. To waste it is sad and makes for an unfulfilled life.

So, I ask you – Who or what inspires you? Do you have a muse? Please share with me below!

Let that Pitta fire light you and create away!

Much love,

My First Bike

My First Bike

Posted in Art, Ayurveda, Creativity, Inspiration, Pitta, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ayurvedic Tips to Avoid Heat Exhaustion/Stroke

Sun Drawing:web“Even after all this time
The Sun never says to the Earth
‘You owe me.’
Look what happens with a love like that
It lights the whole sky.” Hafiz

This poem by Hafiz is one of my favorites. The sun tirelessly gives to us day in and day out. It warms us, energizes us, and keeps us alive. But sometimes we need to take a break from the sun when the thermostat rises.

It’s heating up in the NYC area. It’s summer, after all. There have been some beautiful mild days but there have also been days of blistering heat and high humidity.

I’m being super cautious this year, having suffered heat exhaustion in the past. I recognize the symptoms and take it very seriously. Left untreated, it can lead to heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition which requires medical intervention.

Heat exhaustion can happen when dehydration occurs after a long heat spell – especially when the humidity is high. Living in an urban area can add to the likelihood of it occurring because of the poor air quality.

Symptoms can include:

  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Rapid or weak pulse
  • Muscle cramps
  • Excessive sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Skin may be cool and moist to the touch

When heat exhaustion occurs, you need to immediately cool the body by:

  • Drinking cool (not ice-cold) non-alcoholic liquids
  • Stopping all activity and RESTING
  • Getting out of the sun and preferably into air-conditioning
  • Taking a cool shower or bath
  • Wearing loose-fitting, lightweight, natural fabrics

If your temperature reaches 104 degrees, seek medical attention immediately as heat stroke may be imminent.

People with high Pitta dosha need to be particularly vigilant about keeping their body cool. The main element in Pitta dosha is fire and so they already run hot. In order to avoid damaging their internal organs, Pittas should take special care to not get overheated.

I devoted a recent blog post to Pitta Season which is upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere. You can read it HERE to get some tips on how to maintain a healthy Pitta balance during the hot summer months.

But it’s not just Pittas that need to be cautious about overheating. I learned this the hard way a couple of years ago on a long bike ride on a blistering summer day.

My prakriti is Vata-Pitta, which can be a dangerous combination in hot, humid weather. Vata dosha is dry and easily becomes dehydrated. Vata-types also don’t sweat a lot.

Coupled with Pitta dosha, the air (Vata) can fan the fire (Pitta) and make a perfect storm for heat exhaustion. Ever heard the phrase “He/she runs hot and cold”? Well Vata-Pittas literally do–physically and emotionally.

Coconut water saved me that afternoon on my bike, and these days I am never without it in the summer. Coconut is a cooling fruit that can do wonders to help keep you hydrated. Read my article to learn about the many benefits of coconuts.

A problem that Vata-Pittas encounter when overheated is that their Vata dosha doesn’t like to sit still and they are often bothered by air conditioning because of the cold air movement. I had ditched my air conditioner several years ago when I lived in NYC because it unnerved me so.

I’ve never minded the heat, but as I’ve grown older, my body’s cooling mechanism seems more precarious. Now I have air conditioning which I use sparingly when it gets unbearable.

It took several days for my body to readjust when heat exhaustion happened.  I forced myself to lay on the couch in the middle of the day to rest. This is torture for a Vata-Pitta, unlike a Kapha who would gladly head in for an afternoon nap.

Water is the predominant element in Kapha dosha, so Kaphas do better in dry weather. When the humidity is high, they also suffer. Unlike Vatas, Kaphas tend to sweat a lot but also retain water. They need to be cautious in high heat and humidity, especially if they are overweight and/or have high blood pressure.

Exercising in hot, humid weather can be extremely dangerous. I want desperately to hand out Ayurveda tips to all of the Pittas running in the park during the hottest time of day. Red-faced and looking like they want to kill someone, I wonder what possible benefit they are deriving from this self-inflicted torture.

In fact, Ayurveda teaches that we should only exercise to 50% of our capacity. When it comes to the doshas, all exercise is NOT created equal. So, take it easy in the heat. Maybe opt for a swim or an early morning or evening walk or bike ride.

The bottom line is that all three of the doshas need to take care during extreme heat, especially when the humidity is high. Here are a few cooling Ayurvedic remedies for prevention or treatment of heat-related symptoms:

  • Fully hydrating the body can take up to two weeks. Sipping hot/warm water every 15 minutes throughout the day is much more effective than downing large glasses of water all at once. Cold water is shocking to the system and should be avoided. It also interferes with digestion by literally putting out the digestive fire. Remember that the average core temperature of the body is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Coconut water alone or mixed with fresh orange juice is one of the best hydrators around. Most sports drinks have added sugar and other unnecessary ingredients.
  • Sweet cucumber milk is delicious. Blend 1 cup of raw or organic, non homogenized milk with 1/2 cup skinned cucumber and 1 T raw sugar. (Thank you Joyful Belly Ayurveda!) Milk is very cooling and calming for Vatas and Pittas, but it should always be taken alone.
  • Combine 3-4 cups of water with 10 fresh mint leaves, 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger and 1 tsp. fennel seeds. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and drink throughout the day. It will help cool the body and aid digestion. You can add salt, lemon, lime and/or raw honey. If adding honey, don’t add it to boiling hot water–wait a few minutes. Honey heated at high temperatures is toxic.

Here is a video with some Ayurvedic home remedies for heat stroke:

Wherever you are in the world, if blistering heat and humidity is upon you, be very cautious. Find a shady tree, or air conditioning and stay out of the sun as much as possible. It’s a great time to go to the movies!

Much love,


Posted in Ayurveda, Ayurvedic Tip of the Week, Coconut Oil, Pitta | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment