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October 30, 2007

The power of poo

I fainted this morning, which was was a bit frightening. I've never fainted before, and more difficult than the physical (sharira) response was the minds (mana) response. Being light headed and dizzy and tingly is one thing, but losing consciousness and memory and control of the body is infinitely more disturbing.

D was great-he actually caught me before I hit the floor! And then asked me a few questions like my name and the day of the week. In answering them my mind settled cause I realised I was alright-no need to panic. Then he made me breathe deeply and slowly to relieve the shock.

He was a professional sports person so is well equipped to deal with such situations, having experienced them on the field very many times. I, however am happy to have not had such experience, and was much more freaked out by the whole thing.

I rang my Ayurvedic doctor and the first thing she asked about was my bowel movements! Ayurveda goes straight for the cause, almost ignoring the symptoms entirely. She explained the enema may have brought out some deep toxins which would have been waiting in my body for elimination. Sure enough I had fainted on my way to the toilet, and though I still feel very weak now, after finally making it to the toilet my skin colour has returned and I am able to get out of bed to cook lunch.

October 29, 2007

Let's talk about sex baby..

Woman is the moon and man is the sun. But our sexual organs are reversed. So sexual attraction is the desire to be complete by matching the sun to the sun and the moon to the moon. It is also the desire to balance our own energy with it's opposite.

The result can be (but most often isn't) an opening of all five vital channels, allowing prana to flow through the whole body. But for this goal, the journey is much longer, much slower and much more gentle. It requires patience and time and is much less exciting than the way sex is usually perceived in modern life.

When Ayurveda (and many other spiritual paradigms) advocate celibacy, what they certainly do not mean is an obstruction or denial of this natural energy flow. One man said, upon finding a pornographic magazine in a Sadhu's hut "It is better to have a woman under the arm then in the head"

If you have sexual desires you must respond to these natural urges in a responsible and healthy way. What needs to be worked on is the mind, the goal is to no longer desire sex, the goal is not to no longer have sex.

October 28, 2007

Panch Karma

Panch means five and karma means actions. Panch Karma is an ancient, subtle and very complex series of treatments for cleansing and rejuvenating the body. It is known to have cured things that baffle modern science including arthritis, cancer and Parkinsons disease.

Panch Karma's main emphasis is on cures, not palliative care. Symptoms may not be instantly relieved in the way that an asprin cures a headache. But the root cause of the illness is ascertained and eliminated from the body, so the symptoms will not return.

Extensive pre procedures draw the ama (toxins) from deep within the tissues into the digestive system. This is also palliative and strengthening to prepare the body for the elimination. Panch Karma will then employ one or more of the five actions to eliminate the ama from the body via the nearest exit.

When Charaka wrote the oldest book on Ayurveda he wrote of the five actions as:
  1. Vomiting (eliminates Kapha)
  2. Purgation (eliminates Pitta)
  3. Nasal cleansing (eliminates Kapha)
  4. Cleansing enemas (eliminates Vata)
  5. Rejuvenating enemas (eliminates Vata)
But when Sushruta came along he expanded on Ayurvedic understanding by developing more invasive treatments for critical illness. Sushruta spent a lot of time examining the blood and made the following change to Charaka's five actions:
  1. Vomiting
  2. Purgation
  3. Nasal Cleansing
  4. Enemas
  5. Blood letting (pitta)
After the Panch Karma post procedures and rasayana rekindle the digestion, rebuild the tissues, and strengthen the body.

Humour of "outrageous proportions"

Often when people go for Panch Karma they have been very ill for a very long time, but this needn't be the case. I wanted to share a case study with you by Dr Joshi:

"A man came to me for Panch Karma with no real health problems of any consequence. rather he stated his objective was to raise his level of awareness of the atma within himself. he underwent a six week program of cleansing and rejuvenation with Panch Karma and then I started him on a course of rasayanas.

"He subsequently related to me that about a month after completing the treament., he experienced the dawning of a whole new level of awareness. He noticed his mental clarity and comprehension were much greater than they ever had been in the past. he also said that is sense of humour had grown to "outrageous proportions."

But the most impressive result, he said, was the growth of a sense of lightness, freedom and non attachment. He reported that he felt much more surrended to the experience of the divine within himself, and that much of the "struggle of life" had dropped away.

Such an experience demonstrates that when the false covering of ill health is removed from the mind, sense and body, our true nature or prakruti shines through and is intimately connected to the universal prakruti."

The lesson? If it ain't broken-fix it anyway!

October 27, 2007

"I've got one word for you Kimmy..."

Dr Devaraj says:

“The word “try to live with nature” is the fundamental belief of Ayurveda”

Whilst he can't exactly count, I do think he is on the right track. And now that we are coming around to Daylight Savings time again, I realise how far we've come from nature. I was just beginning to enjoy the Summer sun, waking up earlier, fresher, more relaxed. I can get out of bed and shower and meditate more comfortably now it’s warmer and lighter in the mornings. But now the clocks will be changed so all of this will become more difficult again.

The thing is, the sun sets for a reason. This is the time for resting the body and the mind, for relaxation and reflection. We have introduced daylight savings in an effort to work harder and play harder-to DO more. But really what we need is to BE more.

That there is no one English word to express “try to live with nature” shows a lack of this concept in our lives. So let's make the best of this last few days of nature before we turn the clocks over.

October 26, 2007


So what is it exactly? It is one of the preparatory stages for Panch Karma. Before the detox the body needs to be strong, so many rejuvinative therapies are carried out before the major cleanse.

The cleanse may involve expelling vomit, mucous, blood or faeces in order to rid the body of toxins and extraneous dosha's that have accumulated.

But before all of that come the rejuvinative therapies. I have just finished Shirodhara myself so thought now is a good time to write about it. Shiro is the third eye, the point between the eyebrow centre, and is a powerful chakra and marma point. Since Vata lives in the head, this treament is for Vata disorders including mental illness, over active brain, anxiety or nervous disorders. Insomnia, Parkinson's Disease and eating disorders all benefit from Shirodhara.

Dhara means to pour, so shirodhara is to pour on the third eye. Most commonly this is done with deeply vata pacifying sesame oil, but other liquids including ghee, herbal infusions or even water may be indicated. I believe it is beneficial to blindfold the patient, in order to minimise sensory distractions. Cotton wool in the ears is a good idea too, though in many cases these practices are not followed.

The effect of Shirodhara is to induce a very deep meditation. It is especially advised for those on the spiritual path, but it may bring up some old karma for you to work through. As always with Ayruveda gently gently is the key!

Shirodhara regulates the mood, and breath, improves circulation, improves concentration and slef esteem...and becuase Vata is like the elctricity of the body, placating Vata can benefit all dosha's by supporting their movement and flow of energy as needed.

October 24, 2007

The best bread 4-how to make chapati

OK, so you've read enough about the best bread to want to know how, here's the basics. I'll write up some troubleshooting in another post.

I can't give you exact quantities or time because it depends on the air humidity, the quality of the water, how strong your kneading arm is, how hot your stove are just gonna have to play around, it won't work the first time (if it does you are a genius!) but don't give up.


Atta flour (alright, brown flour if you must, but use hard flour, not cake flour)
Ghee (optional)
salt (optional)

In a wide shallow mixing bowl put one khobo of flour per chapati. I usually make between two and four chapati per person, depending on age, dosha, appetite etc. Add a little pinch of salt if you like, but usually this is only needed if the chapati will not be eaten with salty food. Rub a little ghee through with your fingers to make crumbs. This will make a more tender, flaky chapati, and it will keep a little longer (maybe a couple of hours instead of a couple of minutes!) More ghee will make a chapati into a paratha.

Make a well in the flour and add water, a little at a time, and get your hands stuck in. You need to make quite a wet dough. Give it as much water as it will take without getting sticky. Then turn out the dough onto a clean (not floured) surface and knead it briefly.

Then put the dough back into the mixing bowl and cover with a tea towel and leave aside for 15 mins, or an hour if need be. This is when you will know if you put enough water in, if you haven't the dough will dry out and have cracks on the outside. If this happens throw away the outside bit.

Now knead it good and proper. You will know when it is kneaded enough because it will stop being tough and the dough will become more stretchy and elastic. To test this pull a handful off and see if the dough stretches or breaks and cracks.

Heat a heavy based fry pan to a medium heat. Put a handful of flour in the bowl next to your dough. Take a small amount of the dough, one muthi is plenty, and roll it into a ball. Dip it in flour and shake off the excess. The idea is to use just enough flour that it doesn't stick, but not enough to dry out the dough.

With a rolling pin roll it out into a circle. Keep turning the circle between rolls, when it begins to stick dip it into the flour again, and keep on rolling. Make sure it is not thicker in some parts then others. It should be quite thin, like pitta bread, and about 9 inches in diameter.

Wow, I think this is my longest post ever-but such an important one! Soldier on...

Put the rolled chapati on hot pan. (When you are good you can roll out the next chapati whilst the first one is cooking-requires good concentration!) Turn it over as soon as it is sealed or a little bubble appears, cook it just enough to hold together at this stage. When the second side is barely sealed take the pan off the heat and put the chapati directly on the open flame, turning it often, with a little luck it will blow up like a balloon. The steam inside the chapati will cook it through. Wrap them in a teatowel, and serve as soon as possible.

Congratulations, this is your first chapati! Serve it hot with a little ghee.

October 21, 2007


Babaji repeatedly says that we only need a fraction of our mental energy to live in this world, but most of us use far too much. I have a little glimpse of understanding of this through Shirodhara.

Now, coming to the end of a series of these oil treatments, I feel like I am living in the world with just a fraction of the effort it used to take. All the small things used to be difficult for me, like getting the shopping done, choosing what to wear on a cold day, returning my library books on time...but now somehow it all seems to flow. I feel much more peaceful and aware and like I am on the right path.

So I just want to express my great appreciation to Baba and Ayurveda and meditation!

October 20, 2007

ANZAC Biscuits

D needed to take something for morning tea and was gonna go to the supermarket on the way. I said he'd be as quick making Anzacs, so he tried it and it was probably even quicker! He asked if the recipe was on my blog, and I realised it's not, which is silly cause I proabably use this recipe every week.

Anzacs are an Aussie favourite. They were made by wives and mothers at home during the war to send to the frontline. They don't have eggs so as not to spoil on the long journey, and they are made with ingredients that were available in times of rationing.

The biscuits were cooked till they were really hard and apparantly the some soldiers would grind them up and use them as porridge.

The recipe seems to have deviated, but this version is simple one of the most common version today, but with less sugar.

ANZAC Biscuits

1 cup flour
1 cup oats
1 cup coconut
1 tspn baking powder
1 Tspn golden syrup (treacle will do-but not honey)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

Mix all ingredients briefly. Place small spoonfuls of the mixture on a greased tray and flatten a little with a fork

I often can't be bothered shaping all the biscuits and make it as a slice instead-works well, like muesli bars. Of course, ok for vata and pitta and hopeless for Kapha-sorry guys!

October 19, 2007


Pitta is fire and water. Pitta relates to the liver, blood and eyes. Pitta is:

loud noise
the colour red

October 18, 2007

Seven Spice Tagine

So I christened my new tagine, and it is wonderful. Something magic goes on inside that conical lid when you aren't looking.

A tagine pot may look a bit daunting to the inexperienced. I googled it and found very little help, then when I just got stuck in I realised there's no help needed. You just stick everything in, put the lid on and leave it on a low heat for an hour or so.

Seven is a special number in Morocco.

Seven Spice Tagine

2 tspns Cumin Seeds
1 stick of Cinnamon
A few cloves of Garlic
7 Cloves
2 tspns of Sumac
1/2 teaspoon of Tumeric
A handful of Parsley

7 closed handfuls whole mung beans
7 baby Carrots
7 baby Zucchini
2 Onions
1 Capsicum
7 small parsnip
Olive oil

ghee, salt and pepper to taste

Soak the mung beans for at least a few hours or overnight.

Put the tagine pot on a low heat and bring it up to temperature slowly.

Saute the cloves, cinamon, cumin, onions and garlic in ghee, in that order. When fragrant add drained mung beans and vegetables and stir through spice mix. Cover with water and add salt, sumac and pepper. Stir, cover and leave on a low medium heat for an hour. Don't open it-you'll spoil the surprise!

When you do finally open it mix through the parsley, olive oil and tumeric. Serve with rice, cous cous or flat bread. A good hearty meal, I reckon every peasant in the world must have their own version of beans, vegies and rice.

Of course this is a Vata Pitta mix. For Kapha use potatoes, chickpeas and peas instead of mung, zucchini and parsnip, and serve with millet.

October 17, 2007

measurements-get stuck in!

One of my favourite things about Indian food is eating with my hands. It gives sensory depth to the food, another dimension, a more sensual experience. One of my Indian friends fathers said to me once "God gave us perfectly good hands, humans are so ignorant to think that a fork they created is better!" So I've adopted a suggestion from a very sweet and simple book called Ayurvedic Cooking written by Ramesh Patel.

In India cups and spoons are not used to measure, it is of course done by the hands. In my blog I have been using cups and spoons, to keep things simple. Eventually I hope to use these measurements in my recipes cause this is how I work at home:

Chapti is a pinch with the thumb and first finger
Moti Chapti is a pinch with the thumb and first and second fingers
Nani Chapti is somewhere between the two

Muthi is a closed fistful
Khobo is an open handed scoop

Of course this guide is only rough, never follow a recipe exactly. Instead conjure Annapurna, the goddess of abundance, and as you touch the food or spices you will feel exactly how much to put in.

October 10, 2007

cinnamon scrolls

I've been playing with the pizza scrolls recipe an came up with a lovely variation. For a bring-a-plate for breakfast type affair I wanted something healthy and not too sweet.

As usual you make the basic scone dough and then roll it out into a rectangle. This time roll it quite thin, and fill it with a mixture of grated palm sugar and cinnamon and a little ghee to bind it. Roll it up, again slice it quite thin and bake as usual.

October 08, 2007

The best bread 3-why

So if chapati are so bloody hard to make why would you bother? To start with, they aren't actually that hard, they just take a bit of practice, but mostly because they are the best bread and here's why:
  • Chapati are fresh-if you've ever eaten a cold chapati you'll know they must be served piping hot, straight from the pan, and we all know how Ayurveda feels about old food
  • Chapati contain no yeast-which aggravates all three doshas and plays havoc with your digestion and is a bad food combination with lots common bread buddies including milk
  • Chapati contain no preservatives or nasties that you get from the supermarket shelf
  • Chapati are one of the most satisfying and enjoyable baking experiences you'll ever have. It may take you awhile to master, but once you do you'll be churning out chapati quicker than they can be eaten-like the best Indian housewife around!
And as Shubhra Krishan says "Though initially time consuming to make, chapatis are so delicious that you will want to eat them daily!"

October 07, 2007

Himalayan Rock Salt

Salt is a natural and very important part of the human diet. It is especially balancing for Vata, and second to sweet taste, should make up most of all healthy diets.

So why does it get such bad press? Because iodised salt, or table salt, like many modern "foods" is refined to the point where it is no longer nourishing, and can actually be dangerous to the body. All minerals are removed from common table salt until there are only two: sodium and chloride. The other minerals that are removed are sometimes even sold as medicines-a far more lucrative product!

But for every gram of sodium chloride that the body cannot get rid of, the body uses twenty-three times the amount of cell water to neutralize this salt. I don't need to mention the health problems that have been related to excessive consumption of table salt. It's in the media every other day.

The largest salt range in the world is in the Himalayas. The salt here is up to 700 million years old and is mined by hand. It contains around 80-90 minerals and is black or pink in colour, with a very sulphurous smell.

It is available from many Indian grocery stores, and can be used in any way you use regular salt. In the same way that treacle is much more tasty than refined sugar, Himalayan rock salt is much more tasty than what you are used to. Don't be put off by it's smell (my sister calls it egg salt!) your body will learn to love it. It is best to put salt into your food at the beginning of cooking, things cooked in the same pot are more easily assimilated by the body.

NB. You can get many other forms of rock salt, which is preferable to iodised salt, but the pink or grey Himalayan Rock Salt is the best of all.

The best bread 2-Thata flour!

Atta flour is one of the most commonly misunderstood ingredients in Indian cooking. when you taste real atta flour you will exclaim "thata flour!" and demolish the lot.

A grain of wheat is made up of three main parts. The germ is the bit in the middle, which holds the most nutrients and the endosperm makes up the bulk of the grain with starches and sugars. The husk or bran is the tough skin, like you find on the outside of brown rice. This is very high in dietary fibre.

Brown or wholewheat flour contains all three parts of the grain.

White flour contains only the endosperm which means it retains the carbohydrates loses most of the minerals and vitamins.

Atta flour on the other hand uses the germ and the endosperm. But not the bran. Bran fibre is insoluble, so atta flour is a much lighter more easily digested flour. And good digestion is the key to good health.

Unfortunately the Heart Foundation have arrived in India with a vengeance and to get the tick of approval atta flour is no longer atta flour. It's still labeled atta flour, but it contains the whole wheat grain. Also don't be fooled into thinking atta flour is half white and half brown flour mixed together.

Atta flour is light enough to use in place of white flour in all baking, and it is of course the key ingredient of chapati, the best bread. So we are back to the best bread...stay tuned...

October 06, 2007

The best bread

Baking your own bread is perhaps one of the best things Vata can do for themselves. It is grounding and nourishing and wholesome. It requires patience and attention and focus. It gives quick results and wheat is excellent nourishing food for Vata. It's one of those gifts of nature that

But I made terrible chapati last night, it was very disappointing, cause I thought I was finally getting good at it. Chapati making is a fine art, preferably learned from an Indian grandmother on the rammed earth floor over a period of years.

I did not have that privilege. I was lucky enough to learn in India, from my friend's mother, who makes easily the best stuffed paratha I have ever eaten, but I only got a couple of lessons, and since then I've been perfecting the craft alone in my studio flat in Melbourne.

My mistake last night was I didn't "break" the wheat, as I was taught. Meaning I didn't knead it for long enough. Turning flour and water into the best bread you will ever eat is one of those miracles of science that in Ayurveda could only be termed "prabhav." No one knows why, it just is.

So, back to the beginning, I'll post a series about the ups and downs in my quest for the best bread.

PS I thought chapati making was hard, but check out this article about baking Autizimo, a Mediterranean chickpea sour dough bread.

October 05, 2007


So I lied...I said I'd keep posting from Freo but I haven't. Not as much anyway. But I've been making my wedding dress and handing out invitations and meeting prospective celebrants.

We were just given a tajine as an engagement gift, so I am busy researching a vegetarian tajine recipe. Chickpeas and tomatoes are on my Ayurvedic no list, so I'm having to do some adaptations. Oooh. it's so beautiful though. I'm always worried I gonna be givena toaster or an iron every time I receive a wedding/engagement gift, but I should have more faith in my friends.

Let me know if you have any tips on using a tajine or any good recipes.