What is Ayurveda? Ayurvedic Practitioner Sachi Doctor Gives Us the Lowdown

As a South Asian myself, I feel like I should have a better grasp on Ayurveda but to be honest I’ve barely scratched the surface. Which is why I turned to Sachi Doctor, an Ayurvedic practitioner, yoga instructor, and tea maker at Elemental Alchemy. She and I were introduced by a mutual friend in the C&G Girl Gang and it’s been so wonderful learning more about these ancient practices from her.

Without further ado, I will let Sachi take over!

“Have you ever wondered what actually accounts for differences in people? Why some people are hyperactive and fast-moving, while others are more methodical and unhurried? Why some people can eat a five-course meal with ease, while others can barely finish a salad without feeling digestive distress? Why some people seem naturally joyous while others are pensive? Genetics offers some insight, but what about these particular characteristics and idiosyncrasies that make every person unique?

Thousands of years ago in India, rishis (wise seers or sages) wondered the same thing. They retreated to the mountains for years on end to gain insights into human nature, and it’s through their insights that we received the Vedas—the original source of yoga. In addition to sparing us lifetimes of fasting to gain such wisdom, these sages also provided a system of natural healing to help us live our fullest, most vibrant lives. Translated from Sanskrit as “the wisdom of life” or “the knowledge of longevity”, Ayurveda (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge) is a time-tested science that recognizes that just as we all have a unique fingerprint, we each have a particular pattern of energy—an individual combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics—which comprises our mind-body constitution or makeup.

This is what makes Ayurveda different from modern medical system. In viewing individuals as complex, unique being with specific needs, Ayurveda takes a holistic approach to individual health, believing that all aspects of life contribute to balance (or imbalance) including nutrition, lifestyle, seasons, past experiences and long-term tendencies. Thus, restoring health begins with understanding our unique mind-body type — the blueprint that outlines the innate tendencies built into our systems.

The Ayurvedic term for this body map is prakriti, and it represents our truest nature established at conception. Ayurveda teaches us that when our mind-body abides by this outline, we experience health and ease in our entire system. But like we just established, everything we do, see, eat and experience impacts our prakriti. What Ayurveda does, then, is help us identify what this blueprint looks like — what and where are tendencies, strengthens, and weakness are — and provides language to better understand these idiosyncrasies, and therefore, heps us to better know ourselves. Specifically, Ayurveda provides suggestions for how to establish and sustain mind-body health given our unique composition. These guidelines included nearly everything one can think of: diet, yoga, meditation, herbal formulas, self-care practices… like I said, it’s an all encompassing system!

When you are new to this philosophy, the whole thing can feel overwhelming and taking on too many suggestions at once, however well intended, can be frustrating. This is one of the reason’s why it’s best to explore your particular dosha and its nuances with an Ayurvedic practitioner. In the meantime, I want to offer a few general principles that apply to everyone, regardless of your prakriti. Establishing consistency with even one of these suggestions can lead to incredibly shifts. Like with yoga, regular practice and patience is much more important than how much you do!

Four Ayurvedic Guidelines to Restore Balance:

Nourish Yourself with Good Food: It’s a simple rule. Try to eat foods made by Mother Nature and not Monsanto (aka. non-GMO, packaged, imitation) as much as possible. The foods we eat create our tissues and feed our entire mind-body. Next time you grocery shop think of your skin, hair and heart!

Keep All The Moving Parts Moving: Transformation and change is constant in the body. Physical exercise and movement improves circulation, aids in detoxification and helps to cultivate a feeling of lightness and stability. It also helps that daily exercise is one of the most powerful anti-aging activities that connects your heart and brain.

Regulate Your Senses: Don’t let your senses take you for a wild ride. According to Ayurveda sensory overuses/abuse is the first stage to create any imbalance and disease. It creates mental fatigue and makes you more prone to make unconscious decisions. Regulating sensory cravings creates stability, which is most important for making life-nourishing choices. A daily practice of meditation goes a long way to this end.

Listen In: To make choices that keep you in alignment with your natural rhythms, tune in to your body which is always expresses itself through signals of comfort and discomfort. Whereas the mind lives in the past and the future, the body resides in the now and never doubts itself. Begin to trust it and you will find balance a less complicated state to maintain.”

If you want to hear more from Sachi be sure to check out her website www.elemental-alchemy.com or find her on Instagram @elemental_alchemy!

Can Apple Cider Vinegar Cure Hangovers? Plus More Reasons to Take ACV.

apple cider vinegar

apple cider vinegar

There are countless claims out there for apple cider vinegar: from helping with dandruff, to clearing acne-prone skin, to even helping with digestive issues, apple cider vinegar, or ACV, seem to do it all.

Like with most trends, I was hesitant to jump into the ACV bandwagon but after giving it a shot for the last year, I do think there are some positive effects. The fact that apple cider vinegar has been used for over 5000 years makes me believe there’s a reason that it’s still in our diet today.

Again with a lot of supplements and foods out there, it’s difficult to do controlled scientific experiments on humans so it’s hard to know the exact benefits. So with any nutritional advice I’d recommending taking supplement or food my advice is to take all studies with a grain of salt, listen to your bodies, and use common sense. I think we as consumers we need to learn how to critically think for ourselves. There is no miracle supplement for health in my opinion.

Also my role as a blogger is not to regurgitate another scientific article but instead, to share personal experiences – which I do below:

Curbing Sugar Cravings:

Apple cider vinegar really helps me cut sugar cravings after a meal. After breakfast or lunch I like to add a tablespoon of ACV to a tall glass of cold water and then add a tablespoon of ACV and a dash of cinnamon and sip on it for a couple of hours. The water naturally helps me stay hydrated while the tartness and the cinnamon spice keep the sugar cravings away. If sipping on ACV, I would recommend diluting it in at least 8 oz of water as the acidity can otherwise be a bit harsh on your teeth and digestive system.

Preventing Colds:

I find apple cider vinegar can help prevent colds – be it the acetic acid or who knows what. If I feel the sniffles coming on, I like to drink a mug of warm (not hot) water with a tablespoon of ACV, a dash of cinnamon, and a teaspoon of honey. It’s very comforting in cold weather too.

Curing Hangovers:

Okay the only thing that can cure hangovers is not having one in the first place. But I get it, life happens and once you get up in the morning you’re looking for anything that makes you feel better.

Now you are probably over shots after last night, but I think apple cider vinegar shots are a perfect way to wake your body up and soothe your stomach. One teaspoon of ACV, a quick pour of pineapple juice, a dash of cinnamon and cayenne pepper should help get your body moving. That and plenty of water & electrolytes should do the trick.

tone-it-up-getaway-apple-cider-vinegar-shots

Finally, here’s what the C&G Girl Gang says about apple cider vinegar:

  • “I took apple cider vinegar tablets for about a month. The only reason I stopped is because I’m bad at keeping habits but I noticed a positive change in *regulating* my digestive system.”
  • “t’s beneficial for a number of reasons. One trick people generally take it for is prior to a large meal to aid with digestion. Others take it daily. One thing to note is go organic, and be aware that it can have an effect on your teeth due to the high acidity. “
  • “I take a capful in the morning, either as a shot, or in a half cup of warm water. I do feel like it helps me wake up.”

Do you take apple cider vinegar? Tell us your tips and tricks!

*This advice is not supposed to replace that of a professional. Please consult a RD/physician before making any major lifestyle changes!

Introducing the C&G Girl Gang!

What started on a whim ended up being the best decision I could have made for Citrus & Gold. Introducing…the C&G Girl Gang!

The C&G Girl Gang is a community of women interested in making health and wellness a priority. It’s a forum for women to ask questions, share advice, and connect with other bad-ass women. I’m focusing on building awareness especially for South Asian women but all women are welcome . Sorry men, I don’t mean to exclude but I do want to create a safe, open environment for women specifically.

My mission is to help women take control of their lives to become healthier, happier, and bolder. As much as I like posting on my blog and social media sometimes I feel like the conversations are one-sided. I don’t get to hear what matters for YOU guys quite enough. Or if I do, the conversations end up being quite superficial. Blogging can be pretty lonely at times and I knew I wanted to create something that fosters authentic communication. So on a random Tuesday night I started a FB group, called it the C&G Girl Gang, created a header on Canva and there it was.

At first I thought there would be maybe 20, 30 friends interested but I’m happy to say we have over 150 women from all across the world in the group! It’s been so amazing seeing others connect and bond. One of my friends published a beautiful article on Brown Girl Magazine through connecting with a couple of girls in the group.

We are brainstorming meet-ups, book-clubs and much more! We are all so excited to how it transforms in a organic, authentic manner.

If you are interested in joining you can request access here. Hope to see you there .

The Three Most Important Changes In My Wellness Journey

akansha-agrawal-fitness-blogger

akansha-agrawal-fitness-blogger

I’ve learned a lot about myself ever since I started my health & wellness journey five years ago. Five years ago fitness, nutrition, and mental health were not top of mind. My overall well-being was not a priority.

Luckily, the tables have turned but the changes have not easy nor straightforward.

When I first started exploring the realm of fitness, I discovered influencers in bodybuilding who would lift heavy, count their macros, and “cut” for a few weeks after “bulking” for a few months. I briefly fell into that trap and was told to try competing in a bikini competition (yeah no thanks).

Another example is I when I tried to steer towards a vegan diet: I added more soy-based proteins to help supplement my diet (yikes) and never really felt satisfied. It took me a while to realize that it’s okay to eat (good quality) meat and I should eat what my body craves.

These are just a couple of examples of things that didn’t work for me in the end (but hey it may work for others!). Here are three things that do work:

Meditating: Yes again, I know. How cliche right? But guess what guys, even 5 – 10 minutes of breathing, sitting, and doing nothing has helped me so much with my stress and anxiety. Whenever I fall off from meditation I feel my anxiety creeping back again.

Working with a nutritionist: I didn’t start seeing a nutritionist for what most people would think — losing weight. I actually consulted a nutritionist when my digestive issues became too much to bear. My nutritionist Mary Vance has helped my heal my gut (almost!) and has helped me see nutrition in a different light. I promise to post on this topic soon because there is so much to be said here!

Finding fitness buddies: Having friends or people you can workout with has been life-changer! When I first started I’d almost always workout alone for two reasons: 1. I didn’t know many other people who made it a priority (clearly I wasn’t looking hard enough) and 2. I was afraid others would judge me. Once I got over that fear, my life was changed. I started training with Fleet Feet for half marathons, met girls from the Tone It Up Bay Area community and was also more willing to try different kinds of group fitness classes with friends.

So obviously, this is what works for me and those “a-ha” moments may be different for others. Regardless, I do think there are certain take-aways for all:

-Try meditating with Headspace. It’s only 10 minutes long!
-Pay attention to what you eating. Does it make you feel good? Are you eating mindfully, eating whole foods? A nutritionist can be expensive but if you want some basic guidelines on nutrition, the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan is a good start.
– Find a local running group (Lululemon has one, or check out The November Project), or try different group fitness classes with friends. It’s always easier with a buddy :).

It’s like something finally clicked in my mind when I started doing each one of the three things I mentioned above. I’d love to know what works for you in your own wellness journey.

DIY Turmeric Face Mask to Moisturize and Brighten Skin

turmeric face mask

Indians use turmeric for everything: food, medicine, drinks, and yes, even for face masks. This easy DIY turmeric face mask is a great at-home remedy to brighten and moisturize your face and skin.

Fun fact: turmeric is also a very important ingredient in Indian weddings – especially for a particular ceremony – the haldi. The haldi (which means turmeric in Hindi) is celebration held for the bride and groom at their respective homes. A turmeric paste is gently applied to the their face and feet. According to Hindu teachings, turmeric is supposed to cleanse the body and soul and marks the beginning of a new chapter in the lives for the couple!

There are many variations of different turmeric masks but I picked one that’s easy and convenient. You only need a few ingredients and a few minutes to put it together. FYI – whenever I share a DIY project or recipe, rest assured that it will always be pretty straightforward. Because I can’t deal with complexity.

You’ll only need 4 ingredients: turmeric, yogurt, honey, and oat flour. If you don’t have oat flour you can sub it with rice flour or gram flour, or skip it all together!

turmeric-face-mask-ingredients

 

DIY Turmeric Face Mask to Moisturize and Brighten Skin
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 1 tbsp of yogurt ( I used plain greek yogurt)
  • 1 tsp of oat flour (gram or rice flour works too)
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together to form a smooth paste. If the mask feels too dry you can add a little more yogurt to get the right consistency.
  2. Use a mini rubber spatula to apply the mask to your face, avoiding your eyebrows and hair. If you use your fingers to apply it, be mindful of your nails because turmeric does stain!
  3. Leave the mask on for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Wash your face thoroughly with warm water to remove the mask. You may need a couple of rinses to get it off completely. I like doing it in the shower so I don’t have to worry about staining my clothes. An old towel also helps remove the last bits of color.
  5. You can keep the mask in the refrigerator for about a week. If it starts to dry out, add a little more yogurt (or milk) to fix the consistency.
 

Now why is this so good for you? First turmeric has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Honey has antibacterial properties as well. The lactic acid in yogurt helps remove dead skin cells and moisturizes your skin at the same time. Finally, the oat flour also acts as a gentle exfoliant & hydrates dry skin.

***A few important reminders about turmeric.

1.A slight yellow tint may remain on your face if you don’t wash thoroughly but don’t worry it’ll go away by itself.
2.Turmeric does stain clothes so beware!
3.If you have facial hair (especially if it’s light in color) don’t put turmeric on it.

 

 

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This easy turmeric face mask is made with oats, honey, yogurt and turmeric and is used to brighten and moisturize your skin