The breasts have been used in symbolism since time immemorial. They have represented love and fertility, as well as sex and pleasure. But dream interpretation theories show that in the deep recesses of our minds, for men and women alike, breasts symbolize something even more integral—our primal need for motherly love, support, security, care, and nourishment, because their function as an organ is to give just that.
We all know that the heart is one of the most vital organs in the body. Just look at the veritable fortress of bone and tissue that surrounds it in the chest cavity. Given that we cannot survive without a properly functioning heart, this level of physical protection is really no surprise. But physical protection isn’t always enough to keep our hearts healthy.
Do you consider yourself to be underweight or overweight? Do you feel unsatisfied or uncomfortable in your own body? These days, body weight can be a bit of a touchy subject. There is no shortage of evidence that our culture has adopted a very narrow set of physical standards that are considered normal, healthy, and beautiful.
We’ve all experienced the disappointment of having to put everything on hold when our bodies crash and our health deteriorates, usually just when we think we can least afford to slow down or take a break. Deep down, most of us know that there is often deep wisdom in the irony of those moments. Nevertheless, most of us would rather avoid the inconvenience altogether—whether it’s a cold, a cough, the flu, shingles, or something else.
Have you ever stopped to consider just how dependent your every movement is on those miraculously slippery and cushioned spaces between your bones? Our joints are essential for bodily movement and yet somehow incredibly under-appreciated.
Do you suffer from irregular sleep? Perhaps it’s falling asleep that troubles you. Maybe you wake up in the middle of the night, wanting desperately to keep sleeping, but are unable to. Or, is your tendency to spend more time sleeping than is physiologically necessary, so that you actually get too much sleep (which can be equally problematic)?
There are many different types of hair out there, and we all want what’s best for ours. After all, the hair is often one of the most prominent aspects of a person’s physical appearance, likely second only to one’s face. And given the choice, who among us wouldn’t want healthy, lustrous hair to style as we see fit?
Is your skin prone to inflammation and irritation? Perhaps you have always had extremely sensitive skin—the type that sunburns in a matter of minutes, or that breaks out in hives after a seemingly minor contact with something “foreign.”
Renowned for its practical elegance in balancing the body, mind, and spirit, Ayurveda often emphasizes healing from the inside out. But the Ayurvedic tradition is also rich with beauty rituals and other self-nurturing practices that focus more on the exterior of the body.
The human body was designed to move, as evidenced by the three hundred and sixty joints in the human skeletal system, and we all know that exercise is critical to maintaining optimal health. When engaged appropriately, and according to one’s individual needs, exercise can be a potent catalyst for improved health.
There is certainly no shortage of information or education on health- how to take care of your teeth, how to eat well and take care of your heart and bones, how to keep your gut healthy- but how do you take care of your womb, what does that mean and why is it even important?
Menopause rings the bell, welcoming and celebrating the beginning of a radiant period of wisdom and grace. This is an exciting transition. That is, IF you can enter it with perspective and preparation, such that vata gently blows a breath of insight and discovery, instead of rushing in a whirlwind of change and instability.
Ayurveda has a long tradition of supporting and promoting pregnancy. In fact, Ayurveda emphasizes the preconception period just as much, if not more, than the pregnancy period itself. The preconception time offers a golden opportunity to provide the best of the both of you to your future child.
The concept of agni, the Sanskrit word for "fire," is rather essential to the Ayurvedic tradition. Ayurveda views agni as the very source of life. It is said that a man is as old as his agni and that when agni is extinguished, we die.1 Perhaps even more significantly, Ayurveda teaches us that impaired agni is at the root of every imbalance and disease. So the importance of agni in Ayurveda simply cannot be understated.
Have you ever wondered just how much impact your state of mind has on your health? This has long been debated, and is somewhat difficult to study empirically. But the short answer, at least according to Ayurveda, is that the mind is one of the most powerful influences affecting our overall health and well-being. Ayurveda defines health not only as an absence of disease, but also as a very holistic level of vitality throughout our lives.
Stress is a fairly universal element of the modern human experience, and while some stress is appropriate—even productive—we now know that too much stress can be quite harmful and can compromise our health physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Have you been told that you have adrenal fatigue? Or perhaps you are working with your healthcare provider(s) to track surpluses and insufficiencies in your hormone levels. Abnormalities in our body chemistry can be deeply alarming, and can leave us feeling rather out of step with ourselves, our sense of normalcy, as well as our overall health and well-being.
According to Ayurveda, different stages of our lives are deeply influenced by each of the three doshas—vata, pitta, and kapha. Childhood, which is the first stage, is governed by kapha dosha. The second stage, from puberty up to the age of fifty, is governed by pitta dosha. And the third stage, which is from the age of fifty until death, is governed by vata dosha.
Do you suffer from allergies in any way? Perhaps you’ve come to dread the arrival of springtime because of the degree to which your allergies overtake your life. Unfortunately, many of us feel utterly helpless when it comes to changing our allergy experience in any real or meaningful way.
Did you know that Ayurveda has a great deal to say about the importance of oral health—and the practice of oral hygiene? We all know that brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings are important. But very few of us look forward to going the dentist, even for routine check-ups. For whatever reason, there is a great deal of fear and shame attached to dentistry, which can mean that, on a cultural scale, oral health receives far less attention than it deserves.
Most of us would gladly welcome an improvement in energy and vitality. If increasing our energy levels were as simple as waving a magic wand, who among us wouldn’t readily give it a flick of the wrist? Unfortunately, most of us have been conditioned by very misguided representations of what it means to have a lot of energy, and as a result, are deeply confused about what true, increased vitality looks like.
As a culture, we seem to be increasingly liver-conscious—ever more aware of the importance of a healthy liver. This attention is well deserved. Without question, the liver is one of our most vital organs—perhaps second only to the lungs and the heart. We can live with just one kidney or a single lung, and we can do without the spleen entirely. But we cannot survive without a functioning liver.
This one is for you—all of you! The macho and the timid, the outgoing and the shy, the providers and the caretakers, the beer lovers and the wine lovers, the jocks and the bookworms, and everyone in between.