It’s Footbath Friday

Posted by Maria on February 10, 2012 under Aromatherapy, Ayurveda & Elemental Nature, Books, Magazines, Music, Esthetics School, Feet, Fitness, Home spa, Ingredients, Photo gallery, Pop-Psychology, Recipes, Self-Care, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Spirituality, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized, Weight Management, Wellness, Yoga | 5 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Have you ever had a job that wasn’t working out and you knew your days were numbered? I’ve been in that situation many, many times and the last time was back in 2009 when I was working for the provincial government. It was a good job in some respects but it was a hostile work environment also. I won’t go into the why’s and the who’s but I’d often come home quite upset and would waste my evenings and weekends rehashing the drama of the week in my mind. It’s one thing to think about work while you’re at work. It’s another thing to bring it home with you and think about it while you’re not working and not getting paid for it. Am I right?

Because of all of the unpleasantness in the office, I was trying to figure out a way to leave my job gracefully. I kept on going online to check out some schools and courses to upgrade my skills to help me launch a new career. It was my way of escaping reality ever so briefly. I knew there was something more for me but I didn’t know what that was. I had my eye on a massage school that I almost applied to many years before and kept on going back to the website on my lunch hours.

Then on one inspired weekend in August, I got an idea. Why not look at the textbooks of the programs I was interested in to see which subjects appealed to me most? Textbooks are notoriously boring — *hello insomniacs :) — and if you can read one subject with enthusiasm and pour over the pages as if they were the Legend of the Holy Grail, you know you’re on the right track. So I went to the University bookstore just as classes were starting for the year and found my section: HEALTH.

Spa Bodywork A Guide for Massage Therapist by Anne Williams.Among the dozen or so titles on the shelves, one book in particular jumped into my hands: Spa Bodywork A Guide for Message Therapists by Anne Williams. I loved the green clay masque on the woman’s back on the cover and thought, “I want to know how to do that!” I quickly flipped through the pages and decided to buy the book on the spot even though I wasn’t enrolled in any school. (I still feel a little bit guilty for buying a textbook from another student and I hope there were enough copies for everyone who needed one).

As it turned out, I got layed off from the government job a few short weeks later. But I didn’t end up going to massage school; I went to esthetics school instead. Funny how things work out. But my Spa Bodywork textbook still gets to live on the top shelf and I still give it credit for helping me turn the page and start a new chapter in my life.

Anyway, back to my old job that wasn’t a good fit for me. At that time, I wasn’t in the habit of doing any nurturing or pampering home spa treatments on myself even though I knew a thing or two about the subject. I wish I had been more kind to myself during that stressful time and that’s why I’m writing this post called, “It’s Footbath Friday.”

I’d like to encourage all of the people out there who are working hard at their jobs — especially if they’re not living the dream — to soak their weary feet in a footbath every Friday night. Start tonight. Pour yourself a glass of wine or make yourself a pot of tea and pop some popcorn. Then dip your feet in a lovely, warm and aromatic foot bath and you’ll be well on your way to a better mood. Footbaths are a perfect way to release the negativity from the past week. And then you won’t drag all of that B.S. into your weekend and you’ll be able to start work on the following Monday on a better foot, so to speak. Just relax and pour that tension down the drain and forget about it. Start the weekend fresh.

These days, I’m writing my own ebook and I plan on publishing it in a few months. For my research, I read the chapter on Ayurveda (a subject I became familiar with in esthetics school) in the Spa Bodywork textbook and I found some useful recipes for footbaths that were inspired by the Ayurvedic tradition that I’d like to pass on to you.

Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old, traditional medicine system and philosophy from India that offers keys for creating harmony and balance in life. Many Western spas have adopted elements of Ayurveda into their spa treatments because of the focus on positive life choices, relaxation, exercise, detoxification and spirituality. In a nutshell, Ayurveda is based on the belief that everything in the universe is composed of 5 elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. Specific combinations of the 5 elements form the 3 doshas which are: vata, pitta and kapha. Each individual is made up of a combination of all 5 elements and all 3 doshas and that formula or recipe, for lack of better words, will show up in their body type, mental and emotional disposition, and personality.

You can find out which dosha you favour the most by answering the questions on my Ayurvedic Questionnaire page on my website or Googling Ayurvedic quiz. I recommend Dr. Deepak Chopra’s website and Dosha Quiz for a quick response. Then you’ll know which footbath recipe below will be the most balancing and beneficial for you. Recognizing when you are out of balance and making choices to correct the imbalances will keep you healthy and will keep stress and disease at bay.

Vata Foot Bath (Spa Bodywork page 217) (Infinity and Air elements)

“(Using herbs recognizable to Western therapists). Fill a muslin bag with ½ cup of mixed herbs that include ground ginger, sandalwood, eucalyptus leaf, calamus [a.k.a myrtle grass or sweet grass] and basil. Cover this bag with boiling water and allow it to steep for 20 minutes while it cools. Add cool or hot water as needed to adjust the temperature for the foot soak.”

Pitta Foot Bath (Spa Bodywork page 218) (Fire element)

“Fill a muslin bag with ½ cup of mixed herbs that include chamomile flowers, lavender flowers, peppermint and lemongrass. Cover this bag with boiling water and allow it to steep for 20 minutes while it cools. Add cool or hot water as needed to adjust the temperature for the foot soak.”

Kapha Foot Bath (Spa Bodywork page 220) (Water and Earth elements)

“Fill a muslin bag with ½ cup of mixed herbs that include basil, ground ginger, eucalyptus leaf, and common sage leaf. Cover this bag with boiling water and allow it to steep for 20 minutes while it cools. Add cool or hot water as needed to adjust the temperature for the foot soak.”

Thank you Anne Williams for sharing your wisdom in your Spa Bodywork A Guide for Message Therapists textbook and for inspiring me to follow my bliss. I hope this blog post inspires people to enjoy a Friday night foot bath and to change their circumstances if they don’t match the dream.

What is your Elemental Nature?

Posted by Maria on May 3, 2010 under Ayurveda & Elemental Nature, Esthetics School, Self-Care, Skin Care, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized, Wellness | 18 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

In school we’ve been learning a lot about Ayurveda and Elemental Nature so we can customize our spa treatments for our guests to match their needs.

According to ancient Indian Ayurvedic philosophy, every living thing in the entire universe is composed of five building blocks called “elements” and they are: Infinity, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. We each have all of these qualities within us to some degree, but most of us favour one or two over the rest and the unique composition of these elements and qualities within us changes from hour to hour and day to day. The goal is to find balance between all of the elements and within the elements themselves as best we can, otherwise, life gets out of hand and we are living in extremes rather than feeling centered and at our optimum.

By understanding our elemental nature and recognizing when we get out of balance, we can take steps to re-adjust our situation and feel better. You can tell you are out of balance when you don’t feel like yourself. An imbalance can show up on your skin as a rash or as acne or as dandruff, for example. Also, you might feel sluggish or nervous or cold. Or your stomach may become upset after eating certain food. All of these symptoms correlate to the elements.

What do you do when you get out of balance? Working with the principle of like increases like, the best approach is to do the opposite and counterbalance the symptom and therefore not encourage more of the same. So, if you’re feeling sluggish, eat something or do something that will give you energy. Also, if your sensitive skin is red and burning, then apply a cold compress. You wouldn’t want to make it burn more, right?

Below I’m going to introduce the 5 elements and I plan on writing about this topic more in the future because I find it fascinating. It really explains why we behave the way we do and why we as individuals prefer some things over others.

1) Infinity

The element of Infinity is represented by:

  • Force: Space
  • 3 Key Qualities: Cold, Light, Dry
  • Sense: Sound

Foods to Favour in the diet:

  • Sweet: breads, pasta, meat, fish, milk, cream
  • Sour: citrus, cheese, yogurt
  • Salty: sea salt, tamari, seeweeds, pickled foods

Foods to Reduce in the diet:

  • Pungent: peppers, ginger, onions, garlic, curries, spices
  • Bitter: kale, spinach, broccoli, coffee, chocolate
  • Astringent: beans, legumes, tea, cabbage, cauliflower

Infinity’s mind: Quick, expansive and open (like outer space).

Skin: Tends to be normal to dry with small pores.

Body Frame: Petite

When in balance the personality is: Warm, outgoing, make others feel comfortable, have lots of energy.

When not in balance, the personality is: Nervous, anxious, they lack focus and lack follow-through.

2) Air

The element of Air is represented by:

  • Force: Movement
  • 3 Key Qualities: Cold, Light, Dry
  • Sense: Touch

Foods to Favour in the diet:

  • Sweet: breads, pasta, meat, fish, milk, cream
  • Sour: citrus, cheese, yogurt
  • Salty: sea salt, tamari, seeweeds, pickled foods

Foods to Reduce in the diet:

  • Pungent: peppers, ginger, onions, garlic, curries, spices
  • Bitter: kale, spinach, broccoli, coffee, chocolate
  • Astringent: beans, legumes, tea, cabbage, cauliflower

Air’s mind: Rapid, creative, learn things quickly but forget just as quickly.

Skin: Tends to be dry and dehydrated with fine lines and small pores. Skin feels tight.

Body Frame: Tall and slender.

When in balance the personality is: Airs are the movers and shakers of the world. Airs are creative, energetic, good conversationalists, open to new experiences, don’t like things to stay the same and like to try new things.

When not in balance, the personality is: Difficult time making decisions, like to keep options open and not commit, tend to speak quickly and excessively, are worriers and are forgetful.

3) Fire

The element of Fire is represented by:

  • Force: Transformation
  • 3 Key Qualities: Hot, Light, Moist
  • Sense: Sight

Foods to Favour in the diet:

  • Sweet: breads, pasta, meat, fish, milk, cream
  • Bitter: kale, spinach, broccoli, coffee, chocolate
  • Astringent: beans, legumes, tea, cabbage, cauliflower

Foods to Reduce in the diet:

  • Sour: citrus, cheese, yogurt
  • Salty: sea salt, tamari, seeweeds, pickled foods
  • Pungent: peppers, ginger, onions, garlic, curries, spices

Fire’s mind: Linear, determined, focused, intellectual. Have strong views, are ambitious and like to get things done.

Skin: Sensitive, sunburns easily and have tendency for sun damage, hyperpigmentation (spots and uneven skin tone) and are prone to rosacea.

Body Frame: Athletic, solid build.

When in balance the personality is: Fires are the leaders of the world. Fires are charismatic, witty, focused, independent. Fires like making decisions and are organized.

When not in balance, the personality is: Angry, irritable, aggressive, frustrated, impatient.

4) Water

The element of Water is represented by:

  • Force: Connection
  • 3 Key Qualities: Cold, Heavy, Wet
  • Sense: Taste

Foods to Favour in the diet:

  • Pungent: peppers, ginger, onions, garlic, curries, spices
  • Bitter: kale, spinach, broccoli, coffee, chocolate
  • Astringent: beans, legumes, tea, cabbage, cauliflower

Foods to Reduce in the diet:

  • Sweet: breads, pasta, meat, fish, milk, cream
  • Sour: citrus, cheese, yogurt
  • Salty: sea salt, tamari, seeweeds, pickled foods

Water’s mind: Get emotionally attached, are compassionate and learn a little more slowly but memory is pretty strong. Like routine and familiarity.

Skin: Oily to Acneic. Have smooth skin but prone to breakouts on face and back. Have bigger pores.

Body Frame: Tend to be heavier and tend to retain water.

When in balance the personality is: Waters are strong, thoughtful of others, consistent, dependable, have a lot of stamina, bond for life.

When not in balance, the personality is: Emotional and needy, emotionally attached to people, places and things.

5) Earth

The element of Earth is represented by:

  • Force: Matter
  • 3 Key Qualities: Cold, Heavy, Wet
  • Sense: Smell

Foods to Favour in your diet:

  • Pungent: peppers, ginger, onions, garlic, curries, spices
  • Bitter: kale, spinach, broccoli, coffee, chocolate
  • Astringent: beans, legumes, tea, cabbage, cauliflower

Foods to Reduce in your diet:

  • Sweet: breads, pasta, meat, fish, milk, cream
  • Sour: citrus, cheese, yogurt
  • Salty: sea salt, tamari, seeweeds, pickled foods

Earth’s mind: Have strong, long-term memory, are true to their beliefs, have calm and stable mind and no crazy/rapid thoughts.

Skin: Normal to oily with a thicker skin texture. Waters aren’t prone to fine lines but suffer from breakouts.

Body Frame: Are heavy, large and have broader shoulders.

When in balance the personality is: Earths are dependable, caring, calm and function best with routine and structure. They make good friends.

When not in balance, the personality is: Lethargic, depressed, slow, sluggish, tired, have a hard time adapting to change and new situations.

I hope these descriptions give you something to work with. If you have any questions, please post a comment or email me. I’m curious to know which element you resonate most with. If you want to know my elemental nature, I’m a Water/Earth with some Infinity/Air and very little Fire, though my hair did go grey early. When I get out of balance, I definitely get lethargic and sluggish and I’m a home body and like my routines. I also get nervous and anxious easily too which is more Infinity/Air. I’ve found unexpectedly that drinking a glass of pureed ginger in warm water and eating Jalapeno potato chips (not at the same time) really help me so I include those items in my diet from time to time.

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