Outdoor Fireplace Design

Haugen/Zohar Architects designed an outdoor fireplace for a storytelling at a children's school in Trondheim, Norway that I've thought about quite a bit, since coming across a photo a few years ago. It would be a lovely addition to my dream Ayurvedic Spa. Surprisingly, it's very difficult for the wooden structure to catch fire, according to the architects. More below the pictures. Thank you to Dave from Contemporist Design for making these pictures and the explanation below available.

How to do Alternate Nostril Breathing (Pranayama)

Pranayama is one of my Top 10 Ayurvedic practices to stay balanced. I learned how to do do pranayama breathing in 1987 in rural Québec. I've done it for many, many years. What's strange to me, is that for the 6 years I was too weak to leave the house most days, or function in day-to-day routines at home, I stopped doing it. Why? I should have known enough to realize I had a severe Vata imbalance. I should have realized that if I was barely breathing as I lay in bed, on the sofa, or on the back patio, too weak to lift a finger, that I needed to rekindle my life energy, my prana, or chi. How? Through breathing. Silly me. I've learned this: The most important Ayurvedic exercise for

How to make ghee. Why you should eat and use it.

Ghee is one of the foundational, pure foods that are the bedrock of a healing, balanced Ayurvedic diet. Kapha body types are the only constitutions that don't do well with much ghee in their diet, since they best favor no dairy. Ghee is the same as clarified butter (if you've ever had it as a dipping sauce for

How to make kitchari (kitchadi)

Here is a really well-done video that shows you how to make Kitchari. It's India's version of chicken soup on a cold day. It's made for children, for when you're sick, and it's wonderful when you grow old. It's also

Baby bath care like you've never seen. Lucky baby!

Beginning at the 45 second mark, this video shows how babies are bathed and massaged in India, using Ayurvedic massage and oils, both for the baby and mom. There is some public TV channel-style nudity, so if you're not comfortable with seeing nudity, stop the video at the 2:30 minute point.

What is Prana?

Prana (प्राण, prāṇa) is the Sanskrit world that means "the primary and all round motion of Life Energy." In Ayurveda "praṇā vāyu" is the basic vāyu (wind, air) from which all the other vāyus arise. (Source: Wikipedia)

The article on Prana below, written by certified Ayurvedic practitioner, Vladimir Kazinets, is a good reminder about how much we thrive on, and need, vital prana, or chi, or energy in our life. I've included the text below, with permission.

I noticed Vladimir uses the word, "prana cultivation." It makes me feel like a gardener, setting about to grow seeds of light, energy, or prana within and around me so that I can be filled with more light. I want to be sunshine, and if I want to be sunshine, I need to learn how to grow it.

So now, I'm going to post this article, turn off my computer, and continue to cultivate my seeds of light as I feel the open windows in my rooms, the taste of fresh fruit in my mouth, and the peace of lying down in my warm spa room, listening to music. I don't feel like walking outside in the harsh dry wind, so some good stretches will give this gardener the feeling of satisfaction in having cultivated her prana garden well on a day when she just wanted to sleep.

Things we can do to increase our Prana
By Vladimir Kazinets 
Certified Ayurvedic Medicine practitioner 
Member of NAMA (National Ayurvedic Medical Association) 
Founder and clinical director of holistic healing center House of Ayurveda (Northbrook, IL)

"Ancient holistic medicinal system Ayurveda says that all forms of life are infused with essential energy, which is necessary for vitality and longevity. This field of energy is called differently in different holistic systems. In Chinese medicine it is called “chi”, in Japan it is known as "qi," Egyptians named it "ka" and in Ayurveda and Yoga this important life force is known as "Prana."

According to B.K.S. Iyengar, “Prana is the energy permeating the universe at all levels. It is physical, mental, intellectual, sexual, spiritual, and cosmic energy.”

Prana is the vital life energy which flows through and around our bodies, and it is responsible for the



A double-blind study showed that Ayurvedic purification treatments can successfully eliminate environmentally toxic substances such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB's) and pesticides from our body,

VATA BODY TYPE {DOSHA}: Explained by Aparna Khanolkar

I posted this earlier, but am reposting it again now, so that it's next to the Pitta and Kapha Dosha videos. Out of the many videos that explain the Ayurvedic Dosha's, I find Aparna Khanolkar's the easiest to follow and understand. She has an in depth understanding of Ayurveda, and used to be the head chef at the Chopra Center. Here's to living a balanced life.

PITTA BODY TYPE {DOSHA}: Explained by Aparna Khanolkar

Here, Aparna Kanolkar explains the nature of the Pitta dosha, or body type. She explains tools, exercises, and foods that help a Pitta person stay in balance. Aparna used to be the head chef at the Chopra Center. I really like her explanatiions, and hope you find them helpful, too.

KAPHA BODY TYPE {DOSHA}: Explained by Aparna Khanolkar

Here, Aparna Khanolkar explains the Kapha Dosha, or body type. From the many videos that explain the Ayurvedic doshas, I especially like her video series. Aparna used to be the head chef at the Chopra Center. Her explanations are easy to understand, and she is a truly beautiful person.


Now that I've been enjoying turmeric facial masks, I've learned it's difficult for me not to get little stains on the towel or wash cloth. So, it seemed a lot easier to have a few towels that were already that beautiful, turmeric color! I put them in the sink, filled the sink with warm water, sprinkled 1/4 cup of turmeric (1/2

RECIPE: Morning Warm Lemon Water Tonic

This morning while I was at the sink tidying up, my husband apparently grabbed a glass of what he thought was lemonade to gulp down. He'd been too frantic to sit down and eat breakfast since he was


Try a simple Ayurvedic trick to get your relationship with your loved one back on track. Before sharing the tip, it's important to understand what is behind why it works. Ayurveda kindly approaches the


This story is identical to the Ayurvedic principle of Ahimsa:  cultivating a harmonious life, and causing no harm. For parents who are trying to help their children get along, or anyone who has recently felt hurt or


A hilarious parody of Les Misérables {my favorite musical drama of all time} directed by Michael Bihovsky and Lily Bayrock. It also makes fun of how we think we need to make pseudo breads, buns, milks, and cheeses to be gluten and dairy free. One more reason I feel happy I cook Ayurvedically. It gets us out of that American diet box of, "Hmm, how can I keep eating what I like to eat, without really eating it? As long as it looks like bread, I'll force myself to eat it." Thanks for the link for this, Mom!


Every once in awhile I get carried away and forget to eat lunch, which needs to be my heaviest meal of the day. Or, on the days I'm feeling no strength, I physically can't create, prepare, and clean up a meal. So, these spa eggs are an easy-to-make, easy-to-peel snack, and you can make as many at a time as your


I had no idea how much better I would feel if I made my lunch my biggest meal. When I learned that someone like me who has a weak digestive fire--or, to put it gracefully, who struggles with the food bolus

Turmeric Face Mask to Lighten Dark Spots

I started doing this Ayurvedic beauty routine last week when I read that it whitens and moisturizes the skin, and supposedly gets rid of dark spots. It calls for turmeric, garbanzo (chick pea) flour, milk, lemon juice, and raw honey. The girl on this video comes close to the recipe. I ordered a 1/2 lb. of organic turmeric from Banyan Botanicals, I think, and have a good


If your baby has diaper rash, try this simple Ayurvedic remedy to alleviate the suffering: Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of pure, organic Aloe vera juice (Kumari) to your baby's water bottle. As you probably know,

Oil Pulling for Detox and Whitening Teeth

Take before and after pictures.
You'll be surprised at how well it works!
Ayurveda has a unique solution to whitening teeth naturally. My daughter had me bring more coconut oil out to Korea where she lives, because I works! It's called Oil Pulling. The purpose of oil pulling is for


Food is medicine, which Ayurveda has taught for 5,000 years. Cooking is also a sacred art. The Lord has given us the plants of the earth to nourish our bodies and minds, and as we prepare fresh food, when we are mindful of this, it is an expression of gratitude and love for God, ourselves, and those we cook for.

This video is from Aparna Khanolkar, who was the head chef at the Chopra Center. It's an invitation to join her for a workshop that has already taken place, but her explanation of food as medicine is one I like. She has also written several books on Ayurveda.


If you are solidly built, have lustrous thick skin and hair, prefer sweets, snacks, and ice cream, and prefer to rest and relax rather than work, you likely have a Kapha bodily constitution. This video will be helpful for you to follow and add vigor and healthy intensity to your change in lifestyle.

Vigorous. Forceful. Sharp precision. Keep moving. 

From Banyan Botanicals: As a sister science of Ayurveda, Yoga is an excellent exercise and spiritual practice to incorporate in your daily routine for balancing your individual constitution. Although many yoga poses or asanas are beneficial to each of the doshas, the greatest benefit for balancing your dosha comes from your approach and the way you practice the pose. A yoga practice for a kapha individual should be one creating space, stimulation, warmth and buoyancy. Kaphas can cultivate this by following some basic guidelines:
  • Practice at a vigorous pace and intensity.
  • Focus on the subtlety of the pose and how it creates an expansive presence in the body and energy field.
  • Practice in a warm space.
  • Use a strong forceful breath during practice.
  • When you are ready to release the pose, take one more breath.
  • Keep your chest and shoulders open and lifted as you practice.
  • Have a sharp upward gaze.
  • Feel a sense of lightness in your poses.
  • Pause for a moment between your inhalations and exhalations.
  • Challenge yourself.
  • Keep moving. Have short resting periods between poses.
  • Enjoy a restorative pose for final relaxation.
  • Be precise in your poses.
  • Pay close attention to your alignment.
  • Dont give up!


If you have freckles, have a lot of energy, and have a firey disposition, you likely have a predominantly Pitta constitution. Since like attracts like in the Ayurvedic viewpoint, hot and spicy foods or the heat of summer will aggravate your already heated disposition, causing you to overheat physically through skin conditions, bursts of temper, and so forth. You need coolness, cooling foods, and softness of mind to remain calm.

Have fun. Don't take yourself too seriously. Allow softness of mind.
80% effort. Avoid judgement. Coolness in the room.

From Banyan Botanicals: As a sister science of Ayurveda, Yoga is an excellent exercise and spiritual practice to incorporate in your daily routine for balancing your individual constitution. Although many yoga poses or asanas are beneficial to each of the doshas, the greatest benefit for balancing your dosha comes from your approach and the way you practice the pose. A yoga practice for a pitta individual should encourage compassion, acceptance, relaxed effort and be cooling in nature. Pittas can cultivate this by following some basic guidelines:
  • Have fun in your poses. Do not take yourself or your pose too seriously.
  • Enjoy movement in your poses.
  • Soften your gaze downward, at the horizon or even practice with your eyes closed.
  • Allow freedom and creativity in your practice. Change it up. Avoid sticking to one style or series of poses.
  • Practice in a moderately cool space. You do not want to get cold, but pittas should avoid practicing in extremely heated spaces.
  • Focus on the yoga experience in your body, not your brain.
  • Work at 80% effort.
  • Avoid being judgmental and critical of yourself.
  • Make sure you have plenty of practice space.
  • Remind yourself that yoga is not a competition.
  • Focus on your exhalation.
  • Use the exhalation to let go and release any built up anger, frustration, stress, etc.
  • Be aware of your breath in your back body.
  • Practice plenty of twists and side body openers.
  • Notice the position of your ribs; draw them back into your body.
  • Benefit from practicing at a moderate pace.
  • Remind yourself that less is more!


If you are usually thin and find it difficult to gain weight, you likely have a predominant Vata constitution. You likely have little energy reserve and can tire easily and get out of balance. If that's the case, you need sufficient rest, and need to be wise in where you put your energy, so as not to overdo things. You need to stay warm, place heavy blankets on your abdomen while you lie on the floor to rest, and you need to keep a regular lifestyle routine.

Stability. Warmth. Support. Grounding.

Vata dosha is characterized by the qualities cold, mobility, lightness and expansiveness. If you have a vata constitution, or imbalance, this video demonstrates how you can customize your yoga practice to encourage the opposite qualities that naturally bring vata back into balance. By adding the qualities of warmth, stability, grounding and focus to your practice, you can reestablish your natural state of health and well-being.

A yoga practice for a vata individual should be one creating warmth, serenity and nourishment. Vatas can cultivate this by following some basic guidelines:
  • Practice at a slow, smooth and steady pace.
  • Explore fluidity in your poses. Use gentle movements such as spinal and pelvic undulation, rotation in the joints, counter-poses, and flexion and extension.
  • Hold each posture for a short amount of time, but do multiple repetitions.
  • Draw into and move from your power center or hara. The hara is the area below the navel and above the pubic bone.
  • Focus on the foundation of the pose to create stability.
  • Internally rotate the femurs and press into the outer edges of your legs.
  • As you move, imagine you are moving through a substance like warm water or warm mud.
  • Focus on lengthening your inhalation.
  • Stay connected to the earth. Ground down through your big toes.
  • Fix your gaze below or at the horizon.
  • Engage your entire body by hugging your muscles to the bones.
  • Do not over extend or deplete yourself. Your practice should be strengthening, not draining. Vatas easily exhaust themselves and when the vata imbalance becomes severe, a restorative practice is best.
  • Be present in your practice.
  • Stay warm.
  • Conclude your practice with a long relaxation. 
From Banyan Botanicals


Learn this simple and deeply nourishing practice of Self Massage. Ayurveda has many useful tools for bringing balance and harmony to our body/mind.
Abhyanga takes 10 minutes. It's easy and you will enjoy the benefits life-long. Radiant skin, balanced hormones, deep sleep, immune strength are just a few of the benefits of Abhyanga. ~Aparna Kanolkhar
This sweet video by Aparna Kanolkhar is a demonstration of how to do abhyanga. You feel like a million bucks afterwards.

Seeing how this mother and daughter interact reminds me of how mothers and daughters care for each other in the Korean jimjilbang's or bath houses. In many areas of the world families are very comfortable caring for one another in this way. In our more impersonal, stressful lifestyle here in the states, it can seem like a strange idea, or feel uncomfortable. If this is the case, try it for one day on yourself. If you have children at home, you may eventually teach them this calming, timeless tool for self care.

For more information about her programs, to sign up for her newsletter and her books, please visit: TheMistressOfSpice.com

Her books available on Amazon:
Happy Belly Happy Soul
A Mother's Blessing


Doing daily body and head oil massage (or Abhyanga as it's known in Ayurveda) is surprisingly pleasant, relaxing, and easy for me to do. It is especially helpful during cold, dry weather, or to support yourself when you are nervous, tense, and overly stressed. Basically, you massage your body with love and patience for 5 - 20 minutes. If you take time to prepare a beautiful, relaxing setting in your bathroom, it is that much more pleasant. You should see how peaceful my bathroom is becoming.

It is said a person is "endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age." Charaka Samhita: Sutrasthanam: V: 88-89

Thanks to Dr. Claudia Welch, here are very helpful instructions:

How to do an Ayurvedic morning routine

During the last six years of struggling with chronic illness, with varying, confusing diagnoses ranging from Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Final Phase Adrenal Insufficiency, and Addison's Disease, I consider

Thank You Vladimir Kazinets

I want to express gratitude to Vladimir Kazinets for taking time to counsel me over the phone on the importance of following an eight point Ayurvedic protocol to help heal my adrenal and thyroid issues. You'll find his credentials below the photo collage. I'm also including his contact information.

I've met with many wonderful Western physicians over the last six years who have been helpful. I'm proud to say my oldest son is in medical school. I've taken prescription medications, had countless IV's, and sought to overcome fatigue so profound it has left me sleeping 12 - 15 hours a night. At one point I was so weak, I was unable to open my eyes or speak for 16 hours. 

Yet, from the third day of following Vladimir Kazinet's Ayurvedic guidance, I felt an unusually quick return to feelings of normalcy. To feel healthy and growing in strength
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