Ep 91 – An Ayurvedic Lifestyle: Detox on the Equinox with Angie Parris-Raney

Young woman smiling with hand on her face, underneath leaves

Angie Parris-Raney, Chopra Center Certified in meditation and ayurvedic lifestyle, joins the podcast to break down her recent article, “Detox on the Equinox,” in Body Sense magazine. Angie lays the foundation for bringing fresh energy and movement to our seasonal transition into spring. She gives five tips on improving diet, exercise, meditation, tongue scraping, and self-massage. And, she informs us about avoiding FLUNC foods.  

Resources:

“Detox on the Equinox,” by Angie Parris-Raney, Body Sense magazine, Spring 2021, bodysensemagazinedigital.com/i/1351228-spring-2021/6.

ABMP’s Meditate & Move Series: youtube.com/watch?v=qc_RUY1ABXc&list=PLCfBu3CT6VzOZNtymKBRqto4BcOm-Uvoj

To determine your dosha, visit chopra.com or banyanbotanicals.com.

Author Images: 
Angie Parris-Raney, Chopra Center Certified Meditation Instructor
Author Bio: 

Angie Parris-Raney is a licensed massage therapist and the advertising director for ABMP. Angie is Chopra Center Certified in meditation and ayurvedic lifestyle. Her training explores physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. You can also see Angie in ABMP’s Meditate & Move series that runs every Wednesday on ABMP’s Facebook page. Angie is also the founder of the nonprofit Project Inti, an organization that provides aid to low-income Peruvian families and communities. For more information, visit projectinti.org.

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Full Transcript: 

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[music]

0:02:17.8 Darren Buford: Welcome to the ABMP podcast. My name is Darren Buford. I'm the Editor-in-Chief at Massage & Bodywork magazine and Senior Director of Communications for ABMP.

0:02:26.3 KC: And I'm Kristin Coverly, licensed massage therapist and ABMPs Director of Professional Education.

0:02:30.9 DB: Our guest today is Angie Parris-Raney. Angie is a licensed massage therapist and Advertising Director for ABMP. Angie is Chopra Center certified in meditation and [0:02:42.2] ____ aliphatic lifestyle. Her training explores physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. You can also see Angie in ABMPs Meditate & Move series that runs every Wednesday on Facebook. Angie is also the founder of the non-profit, Project Inti, an organization that provides aid to low-income Peruvian families and communities. Hello, Angie and hello Kristin.

0:03:03.7 KC: Hi, guys. Angie, we're so excited to have you back on the ABMP podcast.

0:03:08.9 Angie Parris-Raney: Thank you.

0:03:10.3 KC: Angie, we're talking with you today about your wonderful article, Detox on the Equinox, that appears in the new Spring 2021 edition of Body Sense magazine, which for listeners who may not know, is the client-centered digital publication ABMP creates for members to share with their clients. Angie, since you'll be sharing Ayurveda-based principles with us today as we talk about the tips in your article, let's start with a brief introduction to Ayurveda for listeners. What's the two-minute Ayurveda overview?

0:03:40.6 AP: Okay. Well, this might take just a little bit more than two minutes because I wanna lay a little bit of groundwork here 'cause I think that will help set up the discussion. [chuckle] So Ayurveda in Sanskrit is, Ayur, means life, and Veda is knowledge or science, so it's the science of life. It approaches the natural state of all living things and our relationship with nature, and it originated over 5000 years ago.

0:04:06.6 AP: The teachings come from the Atharva Veda and it's one of the earliest recorded medical systems that is out there for human history. There's no single author, and it's rather a group of authors, so it's a system of knowledge and practical wisdom through experience. So what's interesting is that today's science is now validating what these ancient Sages or Rishis already knew through deep, intense observation and study of natural laws or through deep meditation. So Ayurvedic physicians were already teaching their patients the principles for living a lifestyle that cultivates health, happiness and longevity. It's why it's called the original lifestyle medicine, and it shows us how to make conscious healing choices about our diet, exercise, sleep and all the aspects of our lives.

0:05:00.1 AP: They understood that the body isn't just this static structure, that it's an activity through consciousness. And if we think about it, that consciousness is the source of all of our experiences. You can't really have the experience without being consciously with it, right? And then our biology is the metabolism of those experiences. So every thought, every action, every choice that we make, it directly affects our mind-body physiology. So with Ayurveda, they start with the five building blocks of nature. So the five elements of nature. If we set this foundation here, this is where we're gonna build on for the rest of our discussion.

0:05:44.5 AP: So space is boundless, infinite potential, and it's necessary for anything to even take place. We have to have space for anything to take place. [chuckle] And all of ourselves even move within space. So if you think about that, we're actually more space than we are matter, if you think about that. And then, space can also be the space between our thoughts, so that's where when we're going... When we're doing meditation, we're trying to access that space in between our thoughts. So air is the first thing that even happens in space. So air is movement through space, so this is represented through circulation, digestion, breathing, or it's even how we move from thought to thought. And then fire, as air moves, it creates friction, which is fire. So this is where we find the principle of transformation or converting from one form to another. So that's an example of we burn wood and it converts to ash. With it in our bodies, this would be detoxification, digestion, creativity. We take an idea and we create and manifest it into something different than what it was before.

0:06:55.4 AP: Water. As fire or warmth condenses with air, it creates water. And so we can think of this as continuity or fluid, cohesion, lubricating. And it's also how we're able to remember things from one day to the next. We have to have that anchor. And then, Earth is as water mixes with matter, it condenses into a more solid state. So we can think of this as structure and form. It's dense and heavy, and it's how we even can structure our thoughts. So according to Ayurveda, each of us have all of these elements, and you can see how they even build upon one another. So what's interesting is Ayurveda sees this as we each have our own unique recipe. We have our own unique formulation of all of these different elements, and together, they represent three Doshas, which are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

0:07:54.0 AP: So Vata is gonna take the space and the air qualities. This is represented through characteristics like being light, dry, mobile, quick, changeable, cold or irregular. And then, Pitta has fire and some water qualities to it. So this will be hot, intense, sharp, acidic, penetrating or even oily. And then, Kapha will have the water and Earth qualities to it. So this is solid, stable, smooth, cool, heavy, slow, lots of stamina. So you might even recognize that you have some of these characteristics maybe at different times in your life. So that's sort of how we lay that principle there. So we could spend a lot of hours talking then about how... What do they look like in balance and then, what do they look like going out of balance, but the idea behind Ayurveda is that like increases like, and so to balance that, we'll bring in the opposite quality to it to bring that sense of balance.

0:09:04.2 DB: Why is the Spring equinox a good time to think about making adjustments to our daily routines and diets?

0:09:10.2 AP: We'll take these same Dosha types and they can be applied to different seasons. The late winter, early spring, is Kapha season, so this is where it's gonna have that slow, wet, damp, cold sort of qualities to it. So as we move from one season to the next, it's sort of natural for us to have accumulated some of these certain qualities and so, we may naturally be out of a mind-body balance. It's a good opportunity for us to sort of clear out those things and then prepare our bodies and our minds to align with the rhythms of nature. It's a really good time for us to take that break.

0:09:52.8 AP: What Ayurveda introduces then is different diet and lifestyle activities that we can do. When you think about all five of our senses, 'cause that's really the gateway to our mind and our body, and I think we even talked about that in one of our past podcast episodes, where we talked about, to balance the body is through taste and touch, and then to balance the mind are through the three Ss; sight, sound and smell.

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0:10:56.7 KC: In your Body Sense magazine article, you share five tips to kickstart an Ayurvedic detox. Let's talk about a few of those today. Your first tip is, purify the mind with meditation. Tell us about that.

0:11:08.9 AP: Well, the idea is just to start somewhere. Sometimes we get a little bit caught up in, "How do I meditate? And am I doing this right?" Well, then we're already getting a little bit too much into our head. So the idea is to... We're trying to get to that gap, that space between our thoughts. And so in order for us to do that, we can do different techniques, you can even just practice and play on your own and just do simple breathing exercises just to kind of ease into it and calm your mind. And for me, Mantra Meditation was a way for me to connect to some sort of focus. For some, it might be to look at an object or maybe it is just tuning out and looking at nature. So just do something to get yourself to settle the mind.

0:11:55.4 AP: What we've learned is that when the mind is agitated, the body is agitated. When the mind is still, the body is still, and vice versa. If the body is calm, the mind can calm. So that's why these two things reflect each other. We, at ABMP, have also started, I think since COVID began last year, we've been doing this weekly, where we have a weekly Meditate & Move. So I've taken a lot of these teachings from the Chopra Center and have applied them and share them as much as possible with you guys every week. And these are all based on the Vedic teachings as interpreted or presented by the Chopra Center. Chopra themselves have a new app, so you can download that off of Apple. You can go on to their website, chopra.com. Roger Gabriel, who's the Chief Meditation Officer, leads a daily meditation on Instagram, so you can just follow Chopra there, so they lead one there.

0:12:51.7 AP: The Insight Timer is another app that I think we all use on some level. It's really fun because there's a lot of different instructors on there that you can follow them, and they have them broken up by different sort of categories or themes that you might be after. I use it just purely for the timer aspect of it, just to help me with my practice and keep me timed. And then, what's really fun with it, at the end, you can see who else has been meditating with you and you can send them little messages. So you can see people from all around the world. And then, another style of meditation are with the mala beads, so that's a japa meditation. So they have 108 beads, 108 is a very sacred number in many traditions. So whether or not you have a mantra that you like or you create your own sort of, "Here's my goal in life, this is what I want," repeat that 108 times, that will get into your consciousness and help you to manifest these things into your life. So those are some different ways that you can just get started and not overthink it.

0:14:02.9 DB: Listeners, I highly recommend listening to Angie's Meditate & Move that is every Wednesday on ABMPs Facebook page. It's excellent. And in addition to that, as Angie mentioned, I'd used the Insight Timer, and I do the little daily insight every day, which is... I like the guided meditation personally, I need that help. So Angie, thank you for the past year doing those.

0:14:23.7 KC: And I think, correct me if I'm wrong, I think people can also access the Meditate & Move videos on our YouTube channel, is that right?

0:14:30.6 AP: Yes. Yeah, we created some really beautiful imagery to go with some of the meditations, too.

0:14:36.8 DB: So listeners, if you go to ABMPs YouTube page and click on the playlist there, you'll see all the Meditate & Moves in there as well. Angie, the second tip in your article is move, breathe and sweat. Why is that important?

0:14:51.1 AP: For Ayurveda, complete practice and mindful movement includes three elements. One is the cardiovascular aerobic activity, and this is, again, detoxifying the body, strengthening the heart, boosting mood and increasing stamina. And then, there's strength training, which builds muscle mass and protects bone health. And then, there's the flexibility training, which benefits our joint mobility, calming the nervous system, and integrating our mind-body system.

0:15:18.7 AP: So exercise should be enjoyable, not depleting. Make sure that you love it, like embrace it. Whatever it is, again, don't overthink it, just do something, [chuckle] whatever that is. And walking is the king for all Doshas. So no matter what Dosha type you are, whatever is going on in your mind, just go for a walk, it's the most natural thing our bodies were designed to do. And if you can get outside and get into nature, then you'll align and attune to the bio-rhythms of nature as well. If you can do your 10,000 steps a day, that's a great goal, or even thinking about just getting 30 minutes a day of rigorous, brisk walking, 'cause the goal, again, is obviously to get our heart rate up, to get our respiration up. You'll notice if you go for a really brisk walk, your body temperature increases, you're much warmer coming back than you were when you started. And then, as far as the strength and the flexibility, yoga, of course, is the sister of science to Ayurveda, so that you can approach and achieve both of those with yoga.

0:16:21.1 AP: Pilates is another great way. And of course, there's lots of other strength and flexibility type of trainings that are out there too, but find what's good for you. And then again, we can think about these Vata, Pitta, Kapha types, right? So with the Vata Dosha type, you wanna maybe do more slow or grounding types of exercise such as Tai Chi or light cycling. Pitta, they're already gonna have that fiery intensity to them, so we don't wanna add more fire to it, but yet, we have to let it burn. So this is gonna be a little bit more of a medium intensity and maybe something that's more cooling, like swimming or skiing or biking. So those are good ways to balance the Pitta type. And for our Kapha, these guys can benefit from the most intense exercise. They might not be the ones the most motivated to exercise, but they can benefit from the most intense exercise.

0:17:14.6 AP: So again, just go dance, go crazy, find your theme song and get started there, or think about aerobics or rowing, those types of things. And then, breathing, again, in the morning too. You can do even the breath of fire. I think I talk about that in the article, the bellows breath or Bhastrika. So that's another way where you can clear out even the sinuses, you can get the heart rate going, you can have that little kickstart to the day. So that's another great way to get things moving. Again, there's some contraindications for some of these things, so please make sure that you are following whatever health recommendations by your doctor.

0:17:56.6 KC: Angie, your third tip is, clean your tongue. This might be a new concept for lots of listeners. Tell us more about that.

0:18:04.3 AP: Yeah, it is interesting that you say that. That was never a thing that I ever thought of until I started learning Ayurveda, but once I did, I became obsessed with this. I'm always looking [chuckle] at my tongue now because now I can see signs of, "Do I have toxic buildup or do I have good Oja?" So, Ojas is [0:18:23.7] ____ prana life force, like vitality, your skin looks healthy and glowing and things like that. So reading the tongue is just one way to see, do I have Ojas or do I have a Ama amas toxicity?

0:18:37.0 AP: So you'll notice in the morning, just take a look first thing when you get up and just see if you've got a white coating on there, which we'll probably have some because we're detoxifying through the night, so don't swallow that and bring that back into the system. Take a stainless steel tongue scraper, so it just has this little U-shape. You take the top of the U part towards the back of the throat, and you just scrape it from the back forward. And when you look at it, you'll see lots of fun things on that and just keep scraping and rinsing, scraping and rinsing, probably about a dozen times. Don't go too crazy. You don't wanna make your tongue bleed or anything, just, you're lightly scraping that off and then brush your teeth, and then you can drink warm water with lemon and that'll be another good way to detoxify everything, and then it sends a signal to the brain to kick-start the digestive system.

0:19:34.7 DB: Angie, is the first thing you do when you get up?

0:19:37.5 AP: Yes. It is.

0:19:38.9 DB: Okay.

0:19:39.6 AP: Yeah. So, I will wake up, I will pee. [chuckle] That's the first way to detox and then scrape the tongue, look at all of that, get all of that out of there. I'll do a little neti pot and get all of that going and then step in to do yoga, meditation, that kind of a thing. I remember when I went to Thailand to study Thai massage, I was so excited to really start embracing this lifestyle of Ayurveda, and one of the things I did know about was cleaning your tongue. So I went to one of the pharmacies, they have them everywhere there, and I went in and I was so excited. I asked the gentleman behind the counter for a tongue scraper and he looked at me like I was crazy. And he's like, "Just use your toothbrush." Like, oh, I was so disappointed. I was like, "But this was gonna be my first purchase towards this beautiful Ayurvedic lifestyle." And he was just like, "Yeah, it's just common everyday thing, just scrape it off with... " No big deal. Just use your toothbrush. [laughter]

0:20:40.1 KC: I would love a tongue scraper.

0:20:42.1 AP: Well, it's one way to make sure that you're not re-introducing any other bacteria into the mouth too, so you're just really cleaning that out.

0:20:52.4 DB: That's a good point.

0:20:52.5 AP: And you can get them on Amazon, they're all cheap, easy to get too.

0:20:57.1 DB: Angie, I have a plastic one, but I don't have a stainless steel one.

0:21:00.7 AP: Oh, well, time for the upgrade.

0:21:02.2 DB: It is time... [chuckle]

0:21:02.4 AP: There you go. Detox on the Equinox.

[laughter]

0:21:07.3 DB: Angie, your fourth tip is nourish the senses with self-massage. Now, our audience today are massage therapists, so tell our listeners about the practice of self-massage on a semi-regular basis, and what are some tips they can do to enhance that practice?

0:21:20.9 AP: Sure. Well, I am definitely one of those people too, where I'm just unconsciously working a joint or an ache or a pain or somewhere. So I think that's a natural thing that we do for ourselves. From an Ayurvedic perspective, this is more about really just creating an environment so that you are sending a signal to yourself that I love me, I am taking care of me. And so you're just gonna really, really put the intention of creating a very healing, healthy, nurturing environment for yourself, giving love back to yourself. So they talk about Sneha oil. So again, that's oil love. So, picking... Again, according to these different Doshas, you can choose an oil because that's the most natural thing closest to our skin, is to use an oil. So for a Vata, they're gonna be running dry, so they'll want something that's a little more grounding, like a sesame or a sweet almond oil, even an olive oil. With the Pitta Dosha, they have a little bit more oily skin and a little bit more inflamed, so a coconut oil would be really good for that. That draws out the heat and draws out the oiliness. And then with the Kapha, again, we wanna keep it on the light side.

0:22:36.8 AP: So this is where we would go with the grape seed oil or a sunflower seed oil. So again, you can use whatever aromatherapies that are your favorite and infuse that in there. One way too, is if you can have a warmer environment. Again, with a Pitta, they're probably not gonna desire a real warm environment, but it's a way to open up the pores and then you can penetrate and get those oils deeper and more saturated into the tissue, and then just slip into a bath and just rinse that all off. It'll just leave a nice light residue on the skin. But again, just encouraging you to just... I think sometimes as massage therapists, we're so focused on fixing things and solving problems, and this is more about just sending yourself this message of self-love and self-care.

0:23:25.2 DB: Angie, which Dosha are you?

0:23:27.2 AP: I am primarily Vata and second would be Pitta. So for me, when my Vata goes out of balance, the Pitta imbalance shows up real quick, so I'm always working to balance Vata.

0:23:41.0 DB: Angie, I don't know what I am. How can I and the listeners find out which Dosha we are?

0:23:48.4 AP: Well, you can go to chopra.com. They've got... They call it a Prakruti and a Vikruti quiz. So Prakruti is what your natural state is that you were born into, that's what you'll see what your mind-body type is. Again, we don't wanna... If you're born an Oaktree, you're never gonna be a palm tree. Don't try to be a palm tree. So, think of it like that.

0:24:07.4 DB: I wanna be a Palm tree, though.

[laughter]

0:24:09.3 AP: No, well, the ideas is don't judge yourself, don't try to transform into something that you're not, embrace what you are. So chopra.com has a Dosha quiz. And then Banyan Botanicals is another website where you can even buy your tongue scraper and all these other lovely herbs and things, and they have a Dosha quiz on there too.

0:24:30.5 KC: Now, we are all fascinated to know what kind of tree aligns with our Dosha.

[laughter]

0:24:38.4 AP: I am always... On those quizzes, I always come out a combination of Kata and Pitta. So, depending on the day, the week, the season, I'm balancing one way or the other.

0:24:48.9 KC: You're right, yeah. One will show up moreso than the other, depending on the time, the season, time of day, all of that. And it's really interesting to start to look at your life and lifestyle through the eyes of Doshas. Once you learn more about them and take the quiz, and you can look at the choices you're making from, like you said, all five senses and how they may have either continue to put you out of balance or bring you back into balance. So it's really fascinating once you start looking at life that way, through the Dosha lens. Look at everything. Yeah, great. And then, moving on to your final and fifth tip from the article, it's favor a lighter, drier, less oily diet this time of year. So what should we be thinking about when we're meal planning and shopping?

0:25:33.0 AP: So again, now we're in this Kapha season. So, during winter, we might have been eating the heavier denser foods because things were cold and lots of air movement and things like that. So as we're moving into our next season now, we're gonna bring in more of the bitter, pungent and astringent foods. So this is where it's gonna lighten things up and dry things up and prepare our digestive system to enter the new season, which will be the Pitta season, that will be summer. This is in a four-season climate, by the way. If you're somewhere else, you might have only two seasons, but in a four-season climate, this is the approach.

0:26:14.4 AP: To think then about bitter taste, we can think of the bitter greens and then asparagus or some of the cruciferous vegetables, the broccolis and cauliflowers, things like that. And then pungent, we could think of this more of herbs. I think I've talked a lot about ginger in the past, too, it's like the king herb of all herbs to take. It'll help, again, all three Doshas. It's really good to just take fresh ginger, slice it, and put it in some warm water and just sip off of that all day long. And you can even start to incorporate fresh ginger into some of your different foods. And then, turmeric and cumin are other really good pungent herbs.

0:26:58.6 AP: And then astringent taste, this is all of the legumes. If you think about astringent, it's taking out water. When you soak your beans overnight, think of how much water it just soaked up, so that's what we're going for with astringent. In Ayurveda, they really favor the moong dal bean or the yellow split pea. It's a little bit easier for the body to digest. It doesn't have such that gassy, bloaty kind of feeling. But any of the legumes, like the yellow split peas, red lentils, garbanzo, pinto beans, again, it's key in how you prepare these beans, obviously. But eat beans, they are very good for you. They have lots of protein and fibre. And if you think about human beings used to eat 100 grams of fibre a day, and the average American maybe eats 10 grams, 20 grams, just even if you [0:27:55.2] ____ shift for 50 grams of fibre a day, you'll do your body lots of good. So that's going a little bit off of what taste we're after, [chuckle] but it's a really good health tip there.

0:28:05.5 AP: And again, eat fresh, obviously, as much as possible. We all know this, but try to avoid the "FLUNC" foods, so that's the frozen, leftover, uncooked, nuked, or canned, so we wanna get away from those. That was David Simon, that was his little term with the Chopra Center, which I love 'cause that's how I remember it.

0:28:26.6 DB: Can you repeat that again? I need to hear that again.

[laughter]

0:28:29.6 AP: Okay.

0:28:30.3 DB: The "flunked" foods?

0:28:31.5 AP: The "FLUNC" foods, yeah.

0:28:32.2 DB: The "FLUNC."

0:28:33.6 AP: Yeah. So frozen, leftover, uncooked, nuked, or canned. That was Dr. David Simon from the Chopra Center, that was his little acronym, which was super helpful for me. And that's the thing, I think, that can be challenging for some people when you think about Ayurveda, is that they really want fresh foods because, again, we're trying to consume as much Prana, life force energy, into our bodies, and so that's why we wanna think about every colour of the rainbow and you want fresh. You wouldn't wanna put lifeless food into your body, that's what you're going to represent. So if you just think of it like that. But I also know, and I do this myself, sometimes it is hard to always cook fresh. Some tips that I've tried to do is just to maybe have the vegetables ready where you could even pre-chop them ahead of time, so when you're getting ready to prepare them, boom, you just go for it kind of a thing. I've just gotten so used to chopping vegetables, I don't even think about it anymore, it's just something I do.

0:29:35.7 AP: But sometimes, even with the leftover, if you can eat it within that 24-hour period, and if you're warming it up, don't nuke it, put it over the stove to have a more natural way of bringing it back to temperature, and then maybe adding something fresh to it. Sometimes I'll just add some fresh cilantro or fresh basil or maybe saute some nuts to add to it or whatever, so just adding a fresh component to bring it back to life. It'd be like if your campfire was going out and you wanted to stoke the fire again, you would wanna reinvigorate it and then add some fresh burn to the fire, so that's how you think of that. [chuckle]

0:30:15.3 DB: I'm thinking I might need to avoid the biscuits and gravy I was thinking about eating, right? It's probably a good thing.

[chuckle]

0:30:21.2 AP: Well, here's the other thing. Life is meant to be enjoyed and so, if 90% of the time you're doing good, that other 10%, you're gonna have a strong enough fire, it's gonna burn off whatever other stuff is going on. So give yourself a little bit of permission to have some fun there, too.

0:30:38.4 DB: You just gave us permission for a little cheat food there, Angie, and I appreciate that.

0:30:41.8 KC: But 10%.

[laughter]

0:30:46.1 DB: I wanna thank our guest today, Angie Parris-Raney. Listeners, if you're an ABMP member, be sure to check out the newest issue of Body Sense Magazine at bodysensemagazinedigital.com. And listeners, if you like what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast or Spotify, and be sure to rate the podcast at the bottom of the episode list. Thank you, everyone.

0:31:08.4 KC: Angie, thanks so much for being with us and giving us these great tips as we transition into this beautiful season of spring.

0:31:14.3 AP: Thank you for having me. This was so much fun to share this with you all, I appreciate it.

[music]

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