Ever since I can remember, winter used to mean horrible dry skin for me. Even after I moved from the east coast of America to the warmer climate of the Gold Coast of Australia, my skin was still awful in winter. So dry that my hands and feet would crack and sometimes bleed! I tried using every type of moisturiser and every method out there (or so I thought). Until, at the start of last winter, my ayurvedic doctor told me to start doing daily warm oil massage in the morning, followed by a shower. Hmmm… That was weird, I thought. Put the oil on BEFORE the shower? I was willing to give it a try. Read the rest of this entry
Category Archives: Health & Beauty
My Ayurvedic doctor recommended to me that I wrap my belly for six weeks after birth. I had heard of the benefits of belly wrapping (or belly binding) with my second baby, but when I was told about it, I was already 7 weeks post partum and sort of past this ‘golden window‘ of opportunity for belly wrapping. Luckily, each time you have a baby, you get a chance to reap the full benefits of belly wrapping. So, when I found out we were having a third, I was happy to know that I could give post partum belly wrapping a try.
I guess there’s two schools of thought when it comes to post partum belly binding and they sort of overlap.
One is more scientific and the other is more spiritual.
The western view of belly wrapping is that it brings your abdominal muscles back together. I had a three finger split (diastasis recti), in my abdominal muscles. That sort of split is typical during a third pregnancy. I remember having to cough an hour after my son was born and MAN did that huuuurt! However, when I went to see my midwife at our six week post partum check up, she was happy to say that my split was less than one finger wide (that’s about as good as it gets after three babies). So, my post partum belly wrapping helped in bringing those muscles back, according to the western ideology.
The ayurvedic or eastern approach to belly wrapping is slightly different. By the way, the practice of belly wrapping is present in many cultures around the world, but I’ll just talk about the ayurvedic background.
To understand the ayurvedic approach to belly wrapping, you need to understand what vata is. There are three different sort of energies that govern the body (I’ll make this simple). One of these energies is a called ‘vata‘. Vata is movement and air and cold and dry. It’s the energy that makes the baby come out in the first place. My ayurvedic doctor was saying it’s hard to translate the meaning in English, but when the baby comes out, there is a void (a space) where the baby was. This vulnerable space is vata. If you can heal the space (by wrapping), a woman can feel the benefit from it for the rest of her life. If the space is not healed correctly, after six weeks, it seals anyway and can sort of trap a whole array of ailments. Because, when vata is unbalanced, it causes all sorts of mental and physical problems. Following me??
Apparently, the mummy pouch that so many mothers find nearly impossible to get rid of, is excess vata! That’s why sometimes no matter how much weight a woman loses, the belly still seems to be there.
Belly wrapping helps to bring all the organs back into their places and it also helps to balance the hormones. When I wrapped my belly, it felt so comfortable. It took away that jiggly feeling. A woman’s digestive system is very delicate after having a baby, so it is really important for her to eat easy to digest food. Warm, soupy, slightly oily food that is easy to digest, is the best for post partum.
How to Wrap
There are many ways to wrap your belly. The idea is that you lift the belly in and up. I chose the quickest way to wrap. Even though I made the decision to stay at home and not leave the house for the first six weeks post partum (you can read about my experience here), I still wanted to make this easy on myself.
A friend of mine gifted me some SRC compression recovery shorts. I called these my uniform, as I wore them the most. Everyday, after a warm oil massage and a shower, I would put these on and wear them all day. You can start wearing compression shorts from about 4 or 5 days post partum. These shorts are really great as they offer good support while being very flexible and super easy to put on. However, they are expensive and can be hot in summer! A few weeks ago, I was walking by the undies section in Target and I saw these body firming shorts that look almost identical to the compression shorts and they are only $20, so worth a shot if you don’t want to dish out $190 for the recovery shorts. There are some off brands out there too. You can find them online. I haven’t tried them and they are about $40. You can also find compression shorts second hand on Gumtree or Craigslist for about half the price and usually in good condition.
Post Partum Belly Wraps
Another wrap I wore quite often, mostly at night, was this bamboo belly wrap. I got it second hand off gumtree. There are lots of similar ones you can find on line. I liked this one because I could make it really tight. (In ayurveda, they recommend that you wrap fairly firm). However, it was pretty stiff and hard to sit in, so I used it mostly at night, while lying down.
I tried using a woven baby carrier wrap a few times… never really felt as good as the purpose made ones and it took too long to put on. But, it is an option. You can google ‘post partum belly wrapping with a woven wrap’ and Youtube tutorials should pop up. You can also use long bandages. Some cultures use a super long and narrow strip of cloth or muslin and wrap it around and around the abdomen. Do a bit of google searching if any of these approaches appeal to you. I looked, and while it looked beautiful, it all was a bit too complicated compared to the propose made wraps.
Heat and Oil
At night, I would sometimes give my wrapping a break and instead go to bed with a hot water pack resting on my belly. The warmth helps with your delicate digestive system. Massaging your belly with warm oil, in a circular motion (clockwise to follow the intestinal tract) also helps. Wrapping afterwards and the combination of warmth with oil helps reduce the vata. Daily warm oil self massage is also recommended in ayurveda to help reduce the vata. You can google any tutorial on how to do warm oil massage.
How Often Do You Wrap
In ayurveda, you’re meant to keep the belly wrapped most of the time. I gave myself a few breaks of an hour or so here and there, but if I left my wrap off for too long, I would feel all gassy and bloated (that’s the vata, the air creeping in). I would put my wrap back on, do a few big burps and farts (haha, yup, that’s the vata coming out) and feel back to normal. The western view says to not wrap all the time because you need your muscles to get strong but I don’t agree with that one. If you had to wear a cast or a brace to heal a wound, you wouldn’t take it off, right? I felt the same with the wrapping. Anyway, I noticed that my muscles were ready to get strong again quickly after six weeks.
What If You Missed The Six Week Post Partum Window?
If you plan on having more babies, you can do it again after their birth. If you’re finished with babies, you can still bind your belly and do oil massage and be mindful of your data (if you feel yourself getting jiggly and bloated). Getting enough sleep, meditation, eating warm soupy easy to digest foods, especially during cold winter months will help.
An awful lot of people have been coughing and snotting the past few months. Our family especially! Here are some remedies that my ayurvedic doctor gave me. They work really well and have kept the sickness from escalating into something severe, and also provide so much relief. If you’re familiar with ayurveda, I’m pitta kapha, but I think these remedies would be good for anyone. Although, take care if you have asthma with breathing the steam or the fumes! Read the rest of this entry
Ten years ago, I was traveling in south India on a bus. We stopped at a *rest stop* (I’m using this term loosely because I’m not sure if that’s what it actually was). A young Indian woman went into the single stall containing the squat toilet. I was next. She came out with a very disappointed look on her face. “It’s not nice in there, There’s no water. So unclean!” she said.
I thought to myself, “Haha, lucky me, I’ve got my TOOOOILET PAPER!” I carried a stash in my backpack at all times, like all the westerners did.
Well, that was a long time ago… and I was clueless. These days, I barely use toilet paper for #2s. Doing so, is indeed, disgusting.
No, there’s nothing more special about my butthole than yours… but I think in many western countries, people just don’t know what it’s like to feel really clean. Like, ultra clean. And toilet paper doesn’t cut it folks. You need some water. Streaming water. Read the rest of this entry
There are entire books written on Ayurveda and pregnancy, but the following tips are ones I’ve remembered or have made a big difference for me. Most of the tips came from my ayurvedic doctor, or people familiar with ayurveda, while some of them come from just what I’ve heard. Ayurveda is the ancient science of life. It’s fascinating to learn about. I’m not an ayurvedic practitioner, and one thing to note is that in ayurveda, every person comes with their own individual constitution. Some of the things that work for me, may not work for you because of your body constitution. But, for the most part, these are general rules that most pregnant woman can follow. Read the rest of this entry
I was just reading an article titled something like “21 Secrets Midwives Will Never Tell You About Their Job”. The article seems nice enough. The midwife talks about the love of her job, etc. But one thing she inadvertently does is brag about how exhausted she gets at work! Yes, hardly a break, hardly a bite to eat or a drink in a 9-12 hour shift. As if it’s something to admire….
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want someone over-worked and on the brink of exhaustion, making split minute decisions about my health or the health of my baby.
It’s one thing to work hard. Working hard is good for us. And sometimes we have no choice. But, working to the brink of collapse, and being proud about it, is pretty wacky. If you’re in a life or death situation and you have to work until you drop, yes, you’re a hero. But, in our society, we’re generally not pushing ourselves to exhaustion in a life or death situation. But we still think being tired is pretty cool. Read the rest of this entry
This past weekend, while I was teaching a Happiness Program, the question of bedtime came up. I asked people if they could guess what time is the best time to go to bed by, and almost all of them answered ‘midnight‘.
But, midnight’s too late!
The magic hour to be in bed by, is ten o’clock! (As in, before 10, and not much later than 10.)
In ayurveda, the science of life, the day is broken down into different types of energies. You’ve probably felt these energies without even knowing about them. For example, very early in the morning, before the sun rises, everything is sort of still and dreamy. In the middle of the day, you feel like running around and doing things. In the afternoon, you find it hard to concentrate at work or school, etc. We could go on and on about which actives are best during certain hours, but below is a simple breakdown of the day and the energies according to ayurveda. Read the rest of this entry
When my daughter was 5 months old, I woke up in the middle of the night, with a strong pain in my upper abdomen. I’d never felt pain like this before. It was just near my stomach, under the sternum, where the ribs meet, and went all the way through to my back. At first, I thought it was heartburn, but it kept getting worse.
I went to the hospital, explained the pain to the doctors. They put me on some antibiotic drip, wouldn’t let me eat and in the morning, gave me an ultrasound to confirm that I had gall stones in my gall bladder. The surgeon met with me and asked me when I wanted to schedule the ‘minor‘ procedure to have my gall bladder removed. I told him that I certainly needed to do some research before they hacked a body organ out of me, especially since the pain had subsided and I had spent the day researching on my phone how to take care of gall stones. Read the rest of this entry
Stand still or sit down.
Put you finger under one nostril like I’m doing in the picture, breath in and breath out. Put your finger under your other nostril, breath in and breath out again.
Which one was more clear, or less blocked?
If your left nostril was more clear, don’t bother reading this post (joking, just read it anyway).
If your right nostril is more clear, then you’re in luck. When your right nostril is more clear, the left side of your brain, which is the academic/logic part of the mind, is functioning better at that moment. So, comprehending this post will probably be much easier. Your metabolism and digestion is also working faster.
If your left nostril is more clear, the right side of your brain is functioning better. The right side of your brain is the more creative and artistic part of the brain. Ever noticed how sometimes, no matter how many times you read a block of text, the information just doesn’t seem to be sinking in? It’s probably because the left nostril/right side of the brain was dominant at that moment.
If both are completely equal and stay that way for a while, then maybe you’re an enlightened yogi, because it’s very rare.
There are certain activities that are better to do, depending on the nostril that is dominant.
Activities You Should Do If Your Right Nostril is Dominant
- Giving speeches/talking in public/teaching
- Sign important documents
- Eat (or at least after you eat the right should be more clear to indicate good digestion)
- Exercise, be active
Activities You Should Do If Your Left Nostril is Dominant
- Listen to Music
- Being with friends and relax
- Do leisure activities and do creative hobbies
But, what if you need your right nostril clear, so you can think?
Let’s say you HAVE to pay attention at a lecture or meeting or something and the information is going in one ear and out the other. There are a few things that can help.
Casually lean to the LEFT to clear your RIGHT nostril, so you can pay attention better. Nobody will even notice what you’re doing. Like this:
If you really don’t care what people think, you can actually stick your hand under your left armpit, there are certain energy points there that help clear the right nostril. Looks like this, minus the silly posed look on your face.
If you’ve just eaten a big meal, you want to make sure your right nostril is more clear for better digestion. If your right isn’t clear, just after eating, you can also lean to the left or even recline or lay down on your left side to help the digestion thing start to happen. Sometimes you can actually feel the shift, like this big lump moving from one side of your sinuses to the other. Gross. Cool.
Some people have ‘chronic’ nostril dominance
The nostril that is more clear, should shift every couple hours or so. But, sometimes, you’ll find that it doesn’t and one tends to be more dominant throughout the day. To make it extremely simplified, if our nostrils don’t balance regularly, that’s an indicator that there’s some sort of imbalance in our systems. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help (important stuff people!).
If Your Right Nostril Seems to Be More Dominant, you may find your body and mind are overactive or your may have trouble sleeping. To help:
- Fall asleep on your RIGHT side when you go to bed.
- Do alternate nostril breathing, a breathing technique which balances the brain, releases stress and tension and impression on the mind, for about 5 minutes, twice a day. Here’s a link from the Art of Living Foundation on how to do it and the benefits and the video is below.
If Your Left Nostril Seems to Be More Dominant, you may find that your digestion is sluggish, you often feel ‘spacey‘, have trouble making decisions. To help:
- Fall asleep on your LEFT side when you go to bed.
- Do alternate nostril breathing, a breathing technique which balances the brain, releases stress and tension and impression on the mind, for about 5 minutes. Here’s a link from the Art of Living Foundation on how to do it and the benefits and the video is below.
How to Do Alternate Nostril Breathing
Twelve years ago, I was at a public talk by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and he had us all put our finger under our noses to check which nostril was dominant. I found that part of the talk fascinating and I’ve been paying attention to my nostrils ever since. I’ve been practicing about 14 years of yoga and meditation and observing the breath as well as been involved with teaching and learning in a classroom environment. From countless experiences, I’ve found that it’s very VERY interesting to put a little awareness into your snout!
If you have time, watch this video on the mind, by brain researcher, Jill Taylor, it is AMAZING. It ties in with the side of the nose that is dominant (even though she doesn’t talk about the nostril dominance thing specifically).
Make a tight fist.
Hold it until it becomes uncomfortable.
Make a fist again.
Was it easier to make a fist the second time?
That’s the way yoga and meditation work for the body and mind. You give the body and mind a break from ‘the grind‘, so that you can come back again, stronger and sharper. Read the rest of this entry