In Awe of Nature Along the Pacific Coast Highway.

If you happen to follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have felt my awe for Mother Nature’s creations. I hope that each photo serves as a reminder that we are each part of something bigger than ourselves. This is a core teaching of Ayurveda– we are merely a reflection of the nature that surrounds us. My true awe for nature was just heightened after a massive road trip along the West coast– from LA to Vancouver, all along […]

3 Ayurvedic Answers to Dull, Dry Fall Skin.

It’s officially fall, and along with its gorgeous colors, clear blue skies and crisp cool air comes a far less welcome occurrence: dull, dry skin. In Ayurvedic terms, fall is vata season. The atmosphere is cool, clear, windy, erratic, and dry; all of which are vata qualities. And because like increases like, you’re more prone to vata imbalances, like dry skin, in the fall– especially if you’re a vata type. This is the season to make extra efforts to keep […]

Calming Music for Yoga

Looking for some calming background music for your yoga practice? I usually practice yoga in silence to give my mind a break from sensory overload, but a little music seems to bring my yoga rhythm to life on sluggish, lazy days. I still choose wisely, always looking for something soothing, calming, and exotic-sounding so that the music doesn’t make me feel anxious or edgy. Here my top picks for yoga music, filled with the calming sounds of the sitar and […]

Better Than Butter: 5 Ways to Love Ghee.

  If you don’t have ghee in your kitchen, you’re missing out. It’s kind of like butter, only better– actually, it’s clarified butter. Making ghee is very simple. You melt unsalted, organic butter and cook it until it smells like popcorn and takes on a beautiful golden color, all of which takes about 15 minutes. Then you strain out the milk solids that have accumulated at the bottom of the pot and voilà! you have ghee. What sets it apart […]

Natural Summer Skin Care: Q&A with Rebecca Razo

  In a city famed for its artificial approaches to beauty, LA-based aesthetician Rebecca Razo is a rarity. This native Angelino knows best that radiant skin depends as much on what goes on the body as what goes in it. She approaches skin care holistically, pampering clients with organic, wild-crafted products, and leaving them with dietary pearls of wisdom to heal skin from the inside out. Here she’s shares her all-natural, expert skin care tips for summer. What led you […]

5 Ways to Manage Anger with Ayurveda.

  (This article was also published and featured in the Popular Lately section of elephantjournal.com.)   When anger tries to take over, cool down with these five Ayurvedic remedies. All inspired by the esteemed doctor Vasant Lad, these antidotes have something else in common: the goal of bringing the pitta dosha back to normalcy. While pitta has it’s (many!) good points when in balance, imbalanced or disturbed pitta can lead to anger and hostility. Just like the pitta dosha, which […]

My Advice to Women Traveling to India Alone.

  (This article was also featured in the Popular Lately section on elephant journal as 12 Tips For Women Traveling to India Alone.) Muscling up the courage to go to India as a solo female traveler takes guts. India is no walk in the park; especially for women. But despite its added challenges, it’s a destination absolutely worth seeking. No one returns from India without being either dramatically changed or incredibly inspired; myself included. I’ve spent many a month alone […]

Your Tummy Will Love This Lassi!

  While yogurt is hailed as a health food, it’s actually pretty heavy to digest. But churn it with water and spices in the Ayurvedic style and its properties change– you end up with a lassi that actually helps digestion. This lassi is a take on takra, aka buttermilk, which is traditionally drunk after lunch to help with all manners of digestive issues. Drink 1 cup of this lassi after lunch each day to get serious probiotic benefits and support […]

Do Your Belly a Favor and Stop Mixing These Foods.

(Also published and featured in the Popular Lately section on elephantjournal.com) Because America is a young nation and a mixing bowl, it lacks a long-standing, time-tested food culture. Our cuisine is birthed through creativity rather than reasoning or tradition, and we combine all manners of food to please our tongues over our bellies: turduckens, kale/banana/milk smoothies, and Hawaiian pizzas, for example. But do cheese and pineapple really go together? Should cantaloupe really be wrapped in cured meat? Ayurveda warns us […]

Why Should We Bother Taking Care of Our Bodies?

  (This article was also published and featured in the Popular Lately section on elephantjournal.com)   Yesterday my boyfriend walked in on me performing my morning routine. Not expecting to find me sitting on the bathroom floor massaging oil all over my body, he was surprised when I revealed that this self-massage is something I do every morning, preceded by a cup of hot water and oil pulling, and followed by asanas and pranayama. “Wow, you really take care of […]

5 Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling.

  Travel can throw the body off track and leave you sick, feeling like crap, or needing a second vacation to recover from the first. Try my 5 Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling so that you return home feeling awesome. The article was published on MyYogaOnline.com– read it here. For more travel tips, check out my list of The 10 Ayurvedic Medicines That Every Traveler Should Carry.     Photo Credit: katerha via Compfight cc  

Technology is moving us backwards. (video)

  A few years ago while traveling in India, I took this short video of a man blending a mango smoothie. Yes, he’s using a blender, but he proves that a little elbow grease works just as well as electricity. In India, this sort of resourcefulness prevails. When electricity and fancy equipment are out of reach or out of budget, people make do. They get the job done using their bodies– putting arm strength, leg strength, or teamwork to use. […]

Date Surprises: A Quick and Easy Ayurvedic Dessert.

  Dessert doesn’t get any easier than these sweet, gooey, crunchy date surprises. Not only are they quick and simple, but they’re Ayurveda approved– meaning they’re nourishing, wholesome, sattvic (promoting purity), and tridoshic (appropriate for all body types– with a little modification). I like to serve these date surprises at the end of a dinner party. They satisfy a sweet tooth, but don’t discount the wholesomeness of the meal just eaten. They also make a great snack for vata and pitta […]

If You Care About Your Skin, Switch to Natural Sunscreen.

  The Environmental Working Group recently put out its 2014 Sunscreen Guide, rating hundreds of sunscreens and finding nearly half to contain a chemical with super high health risks: biochemical and cellular level changes, endocrine disruption, allergies and even low birth weights. Not only that, but common sunscreens were found to pose other risks: chemical inhalation, speedy growth of skin tumors and lesions, and even increased risk for other kinds of sun damage. Be a smart consumer and make sure […]

Calm Your Mind and Cool Down with Yoga’s Sheetali Pranayama. (Video)

  Feeling agitated, stressed, or hot? Try sheetali pranayama: yoga’s cooling breath. This simple and straightforward breathing technique acts like a natural air conditioning system, making it especially useful in the approaching hot summer months. When you roll your tongue and inhale, you’ll feel icy cold air being drawn in. In fact, the name of this pranayama exercise is derived from its root word sheet, which means cold. The word sheetal means ‘that which is calm, passionless, and soothing’, and […]

Be Brave and Embrace Change.

  Spring is a time of change. We can see it in nature as new growth and flowers emerge, the landscape greens, and birds seem energized with new life. Our bodies are meant to harmonize with the rhythms of nature, meaning that we too should embrace change this season. For many people, change is a scary notion. Change brings uncertainty and unpredictability. Change threatens our sense of security, and that’s perceived as something negative. Change is unnerving when we are […]

The 10 Ayurvedic Medicines That Every Traveler Should Carry.

Having literally spent years of my life on the road, I’ve faced my fair share of travel-induced ailments– grisly tummy troubles, bizarre skin funguses and boils, all kinds of bug bites, bus and boat sickness, and cuts, scrapes and bruises owing to jungle treks and motorbike spills. Stubbornly against chemical-laden allopathic medicines, I used to let the sickness or pain run its course for lack of natural-cure knowledge. This usually took ages, and was surely not the smartest thing to […]

Nourishing, Delicious Kitchari.

Every vegetarian– everyone, really– should learn how to make kitchari. This Ayurvedic dish is so simple to make, so tasty, so nourishing that it will become your favorite go-to dish when you need some protein, or when you’re feeling like something light, or simply when you have no idea what else to cook. Kitchari means a mixture of beans and grains. There are endless kitchari recipes– various combinations of white rice, brown rice, whole mung beans, split mung beans, lentils, […]

How to Naturally Boost your Immunity.

  Ayurveda teaches us that our wellness, vitality, and potential for spiritual growth is dependent upon something called our ojas: the sap of our life’s energy, and the gateway between matter and consciousness. Ayurveda considers ojas to be an actual substance, residing primarily in the heart. Balanced ojas brings strength, luster, contentment, and good health. Decreased ojas, on the other hand, put us at risk for decay and disease. Western medicine doesn’t have an equivalent to ojas, and the closest […]

7 Ways to Make Your Food Healthier Without Sacrificing Taste.

(This article was also published on elephant journal!) Most of us need a little salt, fat, and sugar in our diets– otherwise we could throw our bodies completely off balance. Healthy cooking doesn’t mean ruling them out, but opting for these foods in forms that have beneficial and even medicinal properties. Here are 7 simple kitchen pantry switches that will make your food a whole lot more wholesome and more tasty, too! 1. Instead of table salt, try Himalayan salt. […]

5 Natural Beauty Care Uses for Sesame and Coconut Oil.

One of the benefits of switching to natural beauty products– besides cutting out chemicals and toxins– is the need for less. The more natural I go, the fewer products I have crowding my bathroom. Now, one giant bottle of organic unrefined sesame oil has taken the place of about 5 commercial and toxic beauty potions. I not only feel better knowing exactly what I’m slathering on my body, but I also spend less money since overcoming the consumerist delusion that […]

The Sun Salutation (Video)

*** There are many versions of the sun salutation, but this is considered the classical form. Do a few rounds before your yoga practice to get your heart pumping and body warm. In this video, I go through 3 rounds of the sun salutation– one round means both the right and left sides. The sun salutation– called surya namaskar in Sanskrit– is a series of 12 gentle movements aligned with the breath. Sun salutations raise the energy of the body, […]

5 Quick Ways to Connect with Nature in the Big City.

  (This article was also published on elephant journal!) Nature should be a big part of our lives. It should determine the clothes we wear, the time of day we sleep, and the foods we eat; but even these fundamental ties to nature are easily severed if we live in temperature-controlled brick boxes, where lack of daylight is no obstacle to activity, and ships and planes ensure we have every fruit and vegetable available year-round. Balance and good health are […]

15 Ayurvedic Remedies for Insomnia and Sleep Disorders.

(This article was also published on elephant journal! ) Without a good night’s sleep we not only feel like crap the next day because we’re tired, but because our bodies and minds have missed out on their chance to recharge. In Ayurveda, sleep is considered one of the three pillars (or necessities) of life, along with food and sex. The role of ahara, or wholesome and compatible food, is fairly obvious; without it we waste away. Brahmacharya, or sex, is […]

How to Breathe (Literally).

(This article was also published on elephant journal!)   Pause for a moment to observe your natural breath. Ask yourself the following: 1) Am I breathing through my nose? Nose breathing filters the air, protecting the body from environmental pollution, dust, and airborne germs. It warms and moistens the air, protecting the respiratory passageways. If you breathe through the mouth, you’re susceptible to dry mouth, colds, and sore throats. 2) Is my belly expanding with each inhalation? Breathing into the […]

The Indian Market Shopping List

The mystical corner Indian market: keeper of bizarre and mysterious treasures. Exotic scents of curry and spices and incense, sounds of Bollywood. Most important, possessor of healing spices and foods. As someone who’s well-versed in the Indian science of Ayurveda, I view the Indian market as a massive apothecary. For the unacquainted, its foreign foods are probably daunting, but a little spice and rice education can change all that. Whole Foods and the like are slowly catching on to India’s […]

The Best and Worst Natural Toothpastes.

When you brush your teeth you inevitably swallow or absorb a little bit of toothpaste. If it contains toxic chemicals, as most commercial toothpastes do, then you’re basically swallowing those toxic chemicals at least two times every single day. Solution: switch to natural toothpaste. Watch out for triclosan- a synthetic pesticide that’s added to commercial toothpastes. Likely put in there for it’s antimicrobial properties, it’s believed to interfere with normal thyroid functioning, and it’s classified as potentially toxic, harmful, an […]

Restful Sleep the Ayurvedic Way.

(This article was also published on elephant journal!)   “Early to bed, early to rise” has gone out of style. These days it’s old advice; outdated, no longer applicable to the modern world. Generations X, Y, and Z have every temptation to stay up late and little motivation to wake up early. Before the prevalence of electricity, “early to bed, early to rise” was probably an easier proverb to follow. When the sun retired and all was dark there wasn’t […]

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The Ayurvedic Practice of Tongue Scraping to Eliminate Gunk and Funk.

For most people, oral hygiene equates to brushing their teeth twice daily. Those who go above and beyond maybe also floss and gargle with mouthwash, taking care of the teeth and gums. But what about the forgotten tongue? Given that it takes up half the space in the mouth- let alone the fact that it enables us to enjoy the taste of food- doesn’t it also deserve some attention? Considering the tongue is one of the body’s several detoxification paths, […]

Using Ginger to Jumpstart Sluggish Digestion

Good health starts with good digestion. There are a few telltale signs that you may not be digesting your food properly- and there’s a simple way to fire up digestion if it’s sluggish. Ayurveda (the timeless ancient Indian science of life) calls the power of digestion agni- which means fire in Sanskrit. It’s the physical and subtle internal fire that gives us strength and vitality. When the agni or digestive fire is weak, the whole body suffers. Low agni keeps […]

The Art of Drinking Water: An Ayurvedic How-To

(This article was also published on Elephant Journal under the title: “The Art of Drinking Water: 10 Ayurvedic Tips for a Happily Hydrated Body”.)   Again Ayurveda brings us indispensable guidelines for something we thought had no method:  drinking water. Just like the rules for eating, there’s a way to drink that helps your physical body thrive. It’s more than just glass to lips and chug. With a teensy bit more awareness, the way in which you drink water can […]

Triphala: Ayurveda’s Powerful, Super Natural Mouthwash

Organ toxicity, reproductive toxicity, lung irritation, allergies and environmental damage: these warnings aren’t stated on your bottle of mouthwash, but they’re the risks you take for a minty fresh mouth and supposed oral health. Not worth it.  Mouthwashers, meet Triphala: Ayurveda’s all natural wonder formulation that chances none of the above. In fact, if you were to accidentally ingest Triphala, no damage done- only beneficial manifestations on your digestive, circulatory, respiratory, and urogential systems. If you accidentally ingest Scope and […]

Why Ayurveda Says Big Girls and Real Men Do Cry.

We’ve been trained to fight our tears. Oddly, our society considers crying to be a sign of weakness in men, emotional instability in women, and something we should never do in public. Hit songs tell us that big girls don’t cry, and boys grow up learning that real men don’t do it either. This becomes a problem when we suppress the urge to weep- even if the body begs us to let the tears free-flow. We engage in an internal […]

Why You’ll Never be Good at Yoga.

  Also published here on Elephant Journal!  http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/09/why-well-never-be-good-at-yoga-julie-bernier/   “I like yoga but I’m not very good at it.” As a yoga teacher I hear this all too often. I tell these doubters that any scale of proficiency or talent is completely irrelevant. Now they look at me skeptically, and say something like this: “But I can’t even touch my toes!” I persist: it doesn’t matter. You can not be good or bad at yoga. It’s a shame that so […]

How to Eat the Ayurvedic Way.

A lot of us really care about what we eat. We buy organic, avoid GMO’s, weigh up antioxidants, evaluate glycemic index- all factors relating to the quality of the food entering our bodies. Props to us for doing our research and making healthy choices, but it’s all done in vain if we don’t give as much attention to the process of eating itself. It’s not only what we eat, but also how we eat that matters. Ayurveda- the science of […]

When Too Much Oil is a Good Thing

  (As published on Elephant Journal!)   Everyone wants beautiful skin. Everyone wants to sleep well. And everyone wants a strong immune system. Simply swapping your lotion for oil and giving your body a loving daily rubdown can move you towards all three, according to Ayurveda- ancient India’s timeless science of life. Ayurveda indicates a specific morning routine that cleanses the body, sets it up for an efficient and productive day, and keeps all its parts in good working order. […]

Yoga Lingo

Yoga has a vocabulary all of its own. Chances are you’ve heard something like this in a class:  “Focus your chitta on the manipura chakra.” This kind of yoga speak befuddles anyone who hasn’t seriously studied the ancient yogic texts, and that’s most yoga students. A basic knowledge of yoga jargon is a big help in situations like these. Just because you don’t know Sanskrit doesn’t mean you can’t reap yoga’s rewards, but a few key words make all the […]

Read This. (Yoga books I love)

There’s a lot to yoga. Way more than touching your toes and standing on your head. It’s a science, a philosophy, a way to live. If you’re ready for some yoga self-education, read some (or all!) of these well written books: Yoga:  The Greater Tradition by David Frawley This book is short, easy to read, and does a great job of introducing the philosophy of yoga and its spiritual side. The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga by Swami Vishnu-devananda Delving […]

White Rice Deserves Love Too

Poor white rice has a bad rap in the US.  So much of the world depends on it as a core part of their diet, but somehow it’s been rumored as unhealthy with a stigma of little nutritional value and a cause of weight gain.  Ayurveda believes otherwise. There are a few foods that Ayurveda has established as good for everyone, year round, and rice is number one on the list.  No matter what your prakriti (constitution, as everyone is […]

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Ayurveda: Yoga’s Long-Lost Counterpart

     Ayurveda and yoga are sister sciences, each one a part of the other.  Why then, even if we practice yoga, have we rarely heard of Ayurveda?      Although Ayurveda’s popularity is slowly spreading in the West, this beautiful and all-encompassing system of natural medicine has been used for thousands of years in India, where it was never separate from yoga.  The two go hand in hand, and when used together yoga and Ayurveda have the power to heal body, […]

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Getting the Most Out of Yoga

I’ve learned from experience that it’s possible to take hundreds of yoga classes and still not know yoga’s fundamental principles and bases.  It’s not that I didn’t listen to my teachers; the information was simply not disclosed.  When I went through my teacher training eight years after my very first yoga class I was in for quite a shock. For eight years I had been practicing in ways that were more harmful than helpful, and I actually had no idea […]

Julie's students relax in Shavasana on a rooftop in the Himalayas.

Why You Should Never Skip Shavasana

Despite the challenge of standing on one’s head, arching the body in a spine-defying backbend, or balancing on nothing but the hands, I’ve observed that a great chunk of my yoga students find ‘easy’ Shavasana to be the most difficult pose. Once directed to lay on their backs in perfect stillness and relax, a sort of agitated energy takes over as many start to do the exact opposite– fidgeting, scratching, staring, fake coughing. Or worse– they slip out the door […]