Category Archives: Energy

Transition Time

The days are slowly getting shorter. Yet, if you’re like me, you still want to carry on at the same pace as before.

In Ayurveda the autumn season is linked with Vata – movement. With the large intestine being the seat of Vata, I often get clients contacting me with more issues around eliminationat this time of the year. You may feel a bit more sensitive than usual, and want to get involved in many activities but lack the energy. Your body is already starting to anticipate the change in season. There may be times when you feel anxious, unsure, stressed. This is normal at this time.

As we approach the Autumn equinox, a period of transition from the heat of the summer to cooler typically more windy weather, most of us are more sensitive physically and emotionally. During the transition it’s important to devote time to help your body deal with the changes happening within and externally.

Here are 3 sets of advice to support you during this time. In particular, they’ll help you to handle the cold and dryness that dominate during this season and to help bring fluid and warmth in, maintain gentle movement and support the ability to let go.  

Advice set 1 – dietary tips

  •  Include heating spices in your diet e.g. cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and ginger
  • Eat warm, soupy, oily, sweet, sour and salty foods to bring more fluid and (see extra tip below)
  • Consume less raw food and avoid very cold or frozen foods and drinks and cold dairy products.

Advice set 2 – lifestyle tips

  • Establish a routine of waking up and going to bed early to ground and centre yourself     
  • Take more exercise e.g. go for a walk to raise energy levels, do yoga regularly – at least 3-5 x weekly for 30 minutes
  • Bring rhythm into your life for more stability

Advice set 3 – yoga techniques 

  • Lie down in the relaxation position – savasana – on coming home from work for a few minutes to help reduce stress and tense muscles, tiredness and boost your immune system.
  • Sit for a short period each day in a calm environment 
  • Do nasya or neti to breath more deeply, boost the immune system and bring balance to body and mind

Spicy pumpkin soup ( for 4 generous starter portions)

3 tbsps olive oil & sesame oil (half and half) or ghee
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 generous tbsp fresh ginger (peeled and chopped)
1/8 tsp chilli powder
½ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp black pepper
500g pumpkin (diced)
Salt to taste
small bunch of fresh parsley (finely chopped)

Heat the oil in a pot. Test the heat of the oil by dropping in one cumin seed. If the oil sizzles it is hot enough to add the remainder of the seeds. Fry until brown.
Add the fresh ginger and stir well.
Add chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric and black pepper and mix well and leave to cook for a minute. Add salt.
Add the diced pumpkin to the pot and mix well.
Add enough hot water to cover the pumpkin completely and stir well.
Leave to simmer for approx. 20 – 30 minutes.
(optional) Pour the mixture into a liquidizer and blend for 30 seconds.
Sprinkle on the chopped parsley just before serving.

What’s next?

Choose at least one idea to put into practice in the coming week.
Go out and get the ingredients for the recipe.
Feel free to share your feedback with me, including photos!
I’m happy to answer your questions to support your choices so feel free to contact me. 🙂

How to eat Bread …

Recently I gave two talks on food intolerance entitled (rough translation) “How bread eating won’t leave your intestines hurting” at the Salon Holistica, a local alternative trade fair, and taught an ayurvedic cooking class at the Sivananda yoga centre here in Geneva. The participants had a number of questions, a few of which I share with you below.

Question: Is there a secret recipe to how to eat bread?

My answer: According to Ayurveda the “secret recipe” is to enhance your digestive capacity. One of the easiest ways is to include  spices appropriate for your constitution in your diet. Ginger in root form is a great one for almost everyone.

Question: If someone has a very quick digestion where the food just seems to race through, what can s/he do?

My answer: One simple thing they can do is to take more time, to slow down, to breathe between mouthfuls and to savour each mouthful. In general a good spice for such a person would be fennel because of its cooling as well as digestive action.

Question: Are onions and garlic not used in Ayurvedic cooking?
My answer: 
In Ayurveda nothing is actually excluded. Individuals eat ideally what is appropriate for him/her at that time of life, during that season, depending on what else is happening around them, to maintain harmony with Nature within and externally. Those following a yogic path may choose to omit onions & garlic from their food to avoid the stimulating energy they both contain.

And here is the recipe for the warm decoction I made for participants of the talk.

Cinnamon and ginger decoction (for improved digestive capacity)

(adapted from the book “Recettes Ayurvédiques faciles” Editions Jouvence 2009)
Preparation time: 10 – 15 minutes

1 cinnamon stick

1 tbsp fresh ginger

1.   Put all the ingredients in a  pot with about 1 litre water.

2.   Boil for approximately 15  minutes. Remove the cinnamon and the ginger.

3.   Drink half a cup of the warm/hot decoction 15-30 minutes before eating.



Varied Diet

Question: I find it difficult to maintain a nutritional diet. Info about how to create a varied diet would be helpful for me.

My answer:Last year I gave an ayurvedic cooking course and in one of the presentations I gave  ideas of what to eat according to the season and to your dosha (whether you are predominantly Vata, Pitta or Kapha). Here’s the link to the slide presentation.

Ideas for breakfast lunch and dinner


Staying Cool this Summer

Summer is with us. It is lovely to be able to enjoy the warmth of the sun. Moreover, the light from the longer days lifts our spirits and our body can make plenty of Vit D if we spend just 30 minutes enjoying the sun each day.
Yet, the heat of the summer can also be a negative source of stimulation. We are typically much more active because of our increased energy levels and all this action produces heat within our bodies (fine as long as we don’t overheat!). What’s more, the general race to get as much done before going away on holiday or travelling can easily result in hot tempers, irritation etc.
I was recently talking to a friend who complained of redness around her eyes and generally swollen eyes. In Ayurveda, the eyes are one of the main sites of Pitta, associated with the fire and water elements. Fire is experienced within the body as the force which breaks down food, thoughts and ideas – digestion, and also in our body temperature. For burning eyes, swelling or redness, and in general to stay cool in both body and mind it is important to follow appropriate lifestyle and dietary tips. So, as we move into summer,let me share with you 9 of my top lifestyle and nutritional tips to keep the internal fire steady and balanced so you stay cool in both body and mind while at home or travelling this summer.
Enjoy a diet that includes
1. cooling spices, for example, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, saffron, and plenty of fresh green herbs (my favourites include coriander and mint)
2. leafy greens such as kale, chard, at least once a day to introduce the bitter taste, the most cooling of the six tastes that we learn about in Ayurveda
3. light and cooling grains such as basmatic rice, quinoa and barley.
Keep cool and hydrated by
1. making sure you drink plenty of (non-sparkling) water (at room temperature or slightly warm) throughout the day to hydrate even more quickly. Add a squeeze of lime juice to liven it up
2. having at least one glass of water for each hour you are in the air on any flight to and from your holiday destination. I generally carry a small thermos flask with me on flights (remember to empty it BEFORE being screened!)
3. avoiding/limiting caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, and alcohol especially when you fly. They have a dehydrating effect on your body cells, which means that it will take you longer to recover from jetlag.
In your day to day life
1. avoid the hot sun especially on an empty stomach or right after a meal, and don’t leave home on an empty stomach.
2. cool down during the day with a refreshing pure rosewater face/body spray when you’re feeling hot and by putting slices of cucumber on burning eyes at night.
3. wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses when out in the sun

Spring Solutions

With the advent of Spring the main complaint many of us have is associated with our breathing.
Spring is the season when the heavy and solid qualities of the Kapha principle start to become lighter and more liquid. There is movement – especially around the time of the Spring Equinox. In Nature, for example, we see movement with a change in the weather, internally we feel a shift as our bodies adjust to the longer days. Since Kapha is associated, in particular, with the chest area around this time it is no wonder that so many of us complain about respiratory issues that involve sneezing, congestion, sinuses etc.

So here are 3 key solutions to help you saunter into and through Spring:
Solution 1:Keep breathing – maybe the most obvious advice but so many of us are shallow breathers – practise deep breathing into your belly (you can place your hand there to observe the rise & fall).; for those who practise hatha yoga, the pranayama technique of kapalabhati is particularly beneficial; the practice of jala neti and/or nasya can also provide relief.
Solution 2:Get things moving – go out for walks (wrap up warm if it’s still chilly & windy like it is here in New Mexico!); get a massage (especially lymphatic drainage at this time of the year)
Solution 3:Spice it up! Include more warming spices in your diet – e.g. fresh ginger made into a tea or as part of your meal is a simple solution for all.

And to get you going here is a Red Lentil Soup for the season
Ingredients (for 4 portions):
red lentils (150g)
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt (to taste)
fresh ginger chopped into small pieces
pinch of black pepper
200g organic seasonal vegetables
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
1. Wash the lentils until the water is clear
2. Put in a pot with fresh water and the turmeric.
3. Bring to the boil and keep at a rolling boil for 10-15 minutes
4. In the meantime wash and chop the vegetables.
5. Place the vegetables in the pot of lentils.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste, the ginger and  sunflower oil.
7. Cover and leave to simmer for 10 minutes.
8. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with freshly cooked basmati rice.

Energise Your Life through Healthy Nutrition

Recently I was invited to give a talk on healthy nutrition with customised catering for a multinational company here in Geneva. All those who attended were keen to know how to improve their energy levels with a healthy nutrition especially while at work.

To give you a true taste of the material they received I’ve decided to share a summary of the presentation in the form of a short video.

View it here

Energise Your Life through Healthy Nutrition

and share your comments just below.

Are you breathing properly?

Breathing is essential for survival and vitality. Most of us cannot survive for more than 5 to 10 minutes without oxygen. When we breathe we take in oxygen, essential for all bodily functions and, therefore, it is the key to nourishing the body and to achieving vitality.

However, when most people take a deep breath they push out their chest as they breathe in. We use a fraction of our lung capacity and our breathing is shallow.
We can learn a lot from the way babies breathe. They all breathe from their bellies and so use all their lung capacity. However, as we get older, we breathe more from the chest, which is much more inefficient since the stale air stays in the bottom of our lungs. As a result fresh air has a hard time reaching the lower section of the lungs where the blood vessels are wettest and warmest and so most efficient for moving oxygen into the blood.

Correct breathing is important for physical and mental health. By learning to breathe correctly we can increase our energy levels. Simply by slowing down our rate of breathing, for example, we start to change the chemistry in the body from an acidic pH to an alkaline pH.

If you are interested in learning further correct breathing exercises, I would recommend attending specialised classes. Hatha yoga can train us how to breathe properly again since, from the start, emphasis is given to proper breathing.  We learn to push out the stomach as we breathe in, then the breath filling up the chest and right up to the collarbones. As we breathe out we are encouraged to contract our abdominal muscles. Breathing is ideally slow, regular and rhythmical, ideally between 12 and 20 breaths a minute. By breathing this way for a few minutes a day you can  combat stress and improve your overall health generally.

Recipe for an Ayurvedic Christmas

During the holiday season a few things generally happen.

1. we rush around trying to get everything done by the end of the year or before we go away for the holiday period.

2. we tend to eat a lot of sweet refined foods and generally overindulge

While, in ayurveda, it’s recommended to eat a good amount of the sweet taste during this season, ideally it should come in a non-refined form such as whole grains, beans and pulses, sweet vegetables such as squash, sweet potato, beetroot and other root vegetables, and nuts and seeds.  We need to feel satisfied during this season and this type of food helps to fill us up and also supports the immune system.

Are you thinking that this recipe for Christmas doesn’t sound like fun? Well then I’m going to give you my menu – literally – for an alternative Christmas lunch that won’t break the bank or the belly!


Roasted pumpkin & sunflower seeds


Lentil & vegetable soup – your favourite winter vegetable with a lentil dahl. This soup is nice and filling and warming. Add a trickle of your favourite cold-pressed oil and a sprig of parsley before serving

Main course:

Buckwheat – this is a seed rather than a grain but has plenty of magnesium  and helps to regulate blood sugar levels – i.e. helps to fill you up!
Curried Vegetables – any seasonal vegetables added to my curry sauce – quick & simple
Steamed beetroot – simple but who can resist? Add a few drops of lemon juice to intensify the sweet flavour.
Green chutney – Whizz up your favourite herbs with lemon juice and ginger and season to taste

Dessert :

A slice of homemade spicy fruit cake
(from Winter Recipe booklet of Holiday Seasonal Saver package )

2 handfuls dried fruit e.g. raisins, apricots, dates, figs (soaked – overnight if possible – and cut into pieces)

125 ml/ ¼ pint  non-refined olive oil

125 grams /5 oz organic unrefined cane sugar

200 ml/ 1/3 pint Rooibos tea

300 grams/ 12 oz spelt/kamut flour

¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder

¼ teaspoon cardamom powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1.      Soak the dried fruit overnight in the Rooboisch tea.

2.      Pre-heat the oven at Gas Mark 4 (350-375°F, 180 – 190°C).

3.      Put baking parchment in a baking tin.

4.      Put all the dry ingredients – flour, cinnamon, cardamom, bicarbonate of soda – (except the sugar) into one bowl and mix.

5.      Put the wet/moist ingredients – soaked dried fruit, oil, water – and the sugar into another bowl and mix.

6.      Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl containing the wet ingredients.

7.       Mix well. The mixture will fall easily from the spoon.

8.      Pour the mixture into the baking tin.

9.      Bake the cake for about 20 – 30 minutes. You will be able to smell the cake when it is ready.

And to drink – sip a glass of strong ginger and cinnamon tea.

Have a happy, healthy and satisfying holiday season!