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THE UMA AYURVEDA PODCAST- NOURISHING CONVERSATION FOR MODERN LIVING WITH KATE O’DONNELL

Written By: UMA Editorial Team |

Published on: March 15, 2024

Shrankhla Holecek 00:00 

Hello, I’m Shrankhla Holecek, the founder and CEO of UMA, an Ayurvedic beauty and wellness collection. This is the UMA Elements podcast. Each week I’ll be having a conversation with someone I greatly admire on the topics of Ayurveda, holistic healing, spiritual well -being, and alternative health. By sharing wisdom together, we will unlock a secret that as ancient as they are, Ayurveda and other ancient modalities are as modern and relevant today as ever. 

Shrankhla Holecek 00:39 

Kate O’Donnell is a seasoned Ayurvedic practitioner and acclaimed author, renowned for her expertise in holistic wellness and vibrant living. With a passion for ancient wisdom and modern application, Kate seamlessly blends traditional Ayurvedic principles with contemporary insight to guide individuals towards optimal health and balance. As an author, her insightful writings illuminate the path to wellness, offering practical advice and inspiring narratives that empower readers to embrace a life of vitality and harmony. 

Shrankhla Holecek 01:19 

With a wealth of experience and genuine commitment to wellness, Kete Donald is a trusted guide on the journey to holistic well -being. In this podcast, we explore Kate’s journey with Ayurveda and how her practice has evolved over the years. 

Shrankhla Holecek 01:37 

Hi, Kate. It is such a pleasure to have you on the podcast and I’ve long been a fan, I’ve followed you along for many, many years and actually discovered you from a book I think four or maybe five years ago, your everyday cooking book, which is such a delight and such a transformation. an old book, personally. But I’m excited to have you here, especially because you have a new book coming out. And I’m sure our audiences can’t wait to hear more about all that you have to say. So welcome. 

Kate O’Donnell 02:15 

Thank you. I’m excited to be here. 

Shrankhla Holecek 02:17 

Kate, I know you get this question all the time, but please tell us once again, how did you get started on your journey with Ayurveda? And how has Ayurveda personally impacted your life? 

Kate O’Donnell 02:30 

Yeah, that’s a great question. I’ve been obsessed with India long before I knew about Ayurveda or even yoga. So it was always wanting to go to India since I was pretty young. And so I landed over in South India when I was 19 and was just traveled around all over the place. 

Kate O’Donnell 02:54 

And Gil got pretty sick back then. So That was how I started the Ayurveda. I was doing treatment for various parasitic infections and it really, that kind of medicine, the experience that I had through Ayurveda, which was like a very spiritual relationship to the body and to the process of healing. That was, it was what I had been looking for, you know. And,

Shrankhla Holecek 03:20 

 you know, you’re saying that you went to India and started traveling on your own at 19. Gosh, I grew up there. But you’re a braver man than I, Gangadin, or something. So, man, that must have been such an incredible experience. And, you know, now without its ups and downs, as you mentioned, it seems like you really took the bull by its horns and experienced everything India had to offer. And, hey, you specialize in Ayurveda cooking, bringing recipes into people’s homes for calm clearer minds or balancing hormones. What got you started into that niche? And as an Ayurvedic, I know that’s not a niche with an Ayurveda because food is medicine. 

Shrankhla Holecek 04:12 

That’s how everything starts. But I would love to hear how you came to be such an expert in Ayurvedic cooking. 

Kate O’Donnell 04:18 

That was necessity. You know, I started teaching Ayurveda. This was kind of 20 years after this first time of me being in India. But I, you know, over the years studied in various places and I was teaching yoga and then I was practicing Ayurveda. So I had clients where I was sort of helping them with their health concerns. And I could see that there was a lot of confusion about food. People really, you know, they want to eat the right thing, but they don’t have the information on what’s the right food for their body. You know, I feel like the way that we tend to get information about food from the media now in general. 

Kate O’Donnell 04:58 

general, is it’s like, oh, you know, oils are bad. And then a month later, avocados are the best thing for you. And it’s kind of this very general idea that has nothing to do with your body, you know, or where you live. And so I found that aspect of Ayurveda to be really helpful for people to help them personalize how they choose the foods that are healthy for them. And that was what brought me to the cooking was, you know, say I have a client who I’d like them to eat more. 

Kate O’Donnell 05:29 

Well, let’s say plant protein, right. And so I’m like, now we need recipes to help them work with this these foods. So that was how I started writing cookbooks was simply because there’s no use telling someone that this food is healthy for them if they don’t know how to prepare it and how to integrate it into their their kitchen flow and their daily diet, you know,

Shrankhla Holecek 05:51 

 that that makes a ton of sense. And one of the things that you underscored about Ayurveda is maybe one of the points where I think Ayurveda sort of differs strongly from traditional Western medicine is the rule of the numbers versus the rule of one. 

Shrankhla Holecek 06:13 

And how medicine gets approved is if it works for 80%, it must work for the other 20%. And I do think the 20% that stuff doesn’t work for in terms of that population that gets left behind, Ayurveda tremendously shines for and it would for the whole 100% if we sort of personalize to our bodies. 

Shrankhla Holecek 06:36 

And you bring up a second thing which is how you help people integrate certain food items or spices in their diet. Now I know this as someone who’s followed Ayurveda for a while but I’d love to hear from you because within Ayurveda, food, it’s cooking, what it’s cooked with has a profound impact on how your body digests it. 

Shrankhla Holecek 07:05 

So could you from that perspective explain Ayurveda and maybe some salient elements about Ayurvedic food to someone who’s just starting out? Yes, the thing about Ayurveda is that the science teaches that all imbalances in the body, which can eventually turn into diseases, that they all begin in the digestive tract. 

Kate O’Donnell 07:31 

So there’s a big focus in Ayurvedic medicine on the stomach, the small intestine, the large intestine and the process of nutrition in the body. It’s so important and you can eat like the perfect meal that’s your Ayurvedic chef made for your body type but you’re like eating and driving, you know, stand on the phone. stressing out while you’re eating it. And so your body isn’t able to take that food in, you know, and transform it into healthy tissues. So there’s so many aspects of digestion that we look at. The sum of it has to do with your emotional state when you’re eating. 

Kate O’Donnell 08:10 

And so one of the rules that, ancient rule is to sit down when you eat, which is very common sense, right? It’s like something you would tell our children to do. But I even find myself like standing at the counter eating, you know, and it’s like, no, no, we sit down when we eat because the digestive organs can rest in that state, right? 

Kate O’Donnell 08:30 

And it allows the digestion to just work on the food and all the muscles are relaxed and the food can kind of move down through the digestive process. So simple things like that are really important. And also you mentioned the cooking and spices. My spices are a very important part of Ayurveda because all spices have digestive benefits. Depending on the spice, it could be something that, say, warms up the digestive fire. 

Kate O’Donnell 09:01 

So if you’re going to eat ice cream, maybe you have some ginger tea after, so that sharp quality of the ginger warms and helps the body manage the qualities of the ice cream. And then we cook with things like turmeric, which is just, it’s an anti -inflammatory, it improves circulation. 

Kate O’Donnell 09:20 

So it’s going to improve also the quality of the food that we eat. Your body has to transform that into this nutritive precursor, right? That’s then absorbed into the bloodstream and builds the tissues of the body. And so the spices that we use, they help to harmonize in the gut so that the food juice that’s created, you know, when we chew the food and then break it up and all that, so that that food juice that literally builds the tissues of the body is of the utmost quality. 

Kate O’Donnell 09:54 

And so spices can, because they help the fires in the belly, break things down. And also if things are too hot, like some of our listeners might suffer from hyper acidity. So then we, we’d limit the warming spices and use spices that are calming and relaxing, refreshing for, for the stomach instead of heating, you know, things like coriander and cilantro, things like fennel seeds are fantastic for hyper acidity. 

Kate O’Donnell 10:22 

Right. And once we get through working with spices and in food, you know, if that’s not working, we might take the next step into using herbs, which are just more concentrated. 

Shrankhla Holecek 10:33 

Yep. As someone who has, you know, done a lot of antidotes for eating either too much or the wrong combination, and especially, uh, hyper acidity, which is something as pita dosha I do struggle with quite a bit, I am sort of nodding my head long, pretty vigorously. And you know, speaking of pitta, our listeners are likely quite familiar with the Ayurvedic concept of different dosha’s, which are vata pitta kapha. 

Shrankhla Holecek 11:06 

In your perspective, what are some of the important guidelines to follow when it comes to eating, being mindful of the dosha’s? I don’t say your dosha because I know sometimes we can be out of balance in another dosha than our primary, but I’d love to hear all of it from your perspective. And if I might tack on how do you, Kate, get started in your journey with an individual you might be working with with some dosha imbalances?

Kate O’Donnell 11:38 

 I think the big answer about sort of how do we work with the dosha’s and food. The primary principle in Ayurveda is seasonal eating. So, you know, we shift what we eat according to whether we’re in a rainy season, a dry season or a winter versus a summer. So we would eat foods that cool the body in the summer, foods that warm the body in the winter, moisturize in the dry weather, right? And remove excess moisture during the wet time. And so some people live in climates where there’s all sorts of different seasons. Like I live in the Northeast and US, so we have all the different seasons. 

Kate O’Donnell 12:19 

But even a person who lives in a place where it seems like similar weather most of the time, there’s usually still some variation. I say this because this is like the most often asked question, right? And so even if say your temperature is changing by like 10 degrees Fahrenheit at some course during the year, that for that person is a big deal, right? You know, so they would be shifting their diet as we age, we move into a different season of life as well. 

Kate O’Donnell 12:49 

So we sort of become drier. We move into the Vata time of life as we get older. And that’s important. Working with a lot of women in perimenopause right now. And this is such an important thing because that’s the juncture between the Pitta time of life and the Vata time of life. So there’s a lot of changes the body undergoes that do have to do with dryness. And, you know, so we can introduce more moisture and it’s so helpful at that time. So it’s similar in like a dry time of year to introduce more moisture through the diet. 

Kate O’Donnell 13:21 

So people do tend to fixate on sort of eating for your personal dosha, where this general principle of seasonal eating, that’s the top of the list for Ayurveda, traditional Ayurveda. That’s like the first thing the books are talking about. And then if we have someone who has an imbalance, right? Like say hyper acidity, we’ve got a Pitta type. So it was a little too much fire in the constitution. It’s agrovated the person is in a very hot season or they’re eating spicy food or stress, you know, it’s also eating. These kinds of things then can cause imbalances that can make it difficult for a person to just do their daily duties, you know, and show up for life. And that’s when we want to start, we need to intervene. 

Kate O’Donnell 14:05 

So we would, if a person comes to me with certain symptoms, I’m then going to say, well, which dosha is responsible for these symptoms, you know? So if it’s something fiery, like acidity, we’re say, oh, that’s going to be a Pitta story. And then we’ll look, I’ll sit back with them and look at their whole, their diet, their lifestyle. And we look for sort of, I call them red flags, you know? I’m looking for, okay, where’s the excess Pitta coming from, you know, for in this person’s life. 

Kate O’Donnell 14:33 

And it might be in their food. It might be stress levels, you know, might be travel, you know, so many different things that we consider. And then we just very slowly. Very slowly, like one thing at a time, we’ll start to shift some of those causative factors. While in the meantime, we can introduce things like spices, foods, herbs, different recipes in the kitchen that are going to calm that pitta down. But we can’t just do that, because if the causative factor in a state of docia imbalance, we got to take that causative factor down. 

Kate O’Donnell 15:09 

And these things happen slow, like very slowly over time. So it’s a gradual process where people are changing their diet, but it’s not overnight. We let it kind of happen in a natural way over time. 

Shrankhla Holecek 15:24 

That makes sense, especially because I think of Ayurveda as such a moderate accommodating science that is intuitive and works with the body. And again, with sometimes the Western mindset of immediacy introduced into it, I think it can be orthogonal to how Ayurveda thinks about stuff. But easy come, easy go, as we know. So some of the changes that Ayurveda helps us make, I know can take time, but are profound and manifest and last a long time. 

Shrankhla Holecek 16:03 

So I think a lot of people drawn to Ayurveda, I like to hope, are looking for sort of like that lifelong shift, as it were. However, I do get this question a lot, and I realize it is subjective. But with that, in your expert perspective, what is the typical journey of shifts, changes, as one starts to take on an Ayurvedic lifestyle? 

Kate O’Donnell 16:38 

That’s a great question. You know, I think the first thing that starts to shift is that we start to pay attention. tension in a different way to how our environment and our foods are affecting us. You know, so if I can say to a person, you know, bananas are very cold and heavy and moist. 

Kate O’Donnell 16:58 

And so bananas can cause mucus. And some people write and some bananas are this like mucusy mucusy food might explain to someone with a cuppa imbalance that eating bananas all the time, you know, maybe they’re eating too many bananas and I’ll be like, oh, you know, bananas can have this effect. I like to explain things. I find like them people are really empowered to take it on and make the change.

Shrankhla Holecek 17:23 

 And it really is remarkable how some of the stuff starts to feel intuitive once you are immersed in that journey. 

Kate O’Donnell 17:33 

Right. Right. Because the person with the banana will start to notice. you know, as the week goes on, they’ll be like grabbing that banana, you know, and then they’ll be like, wow, Kate was right, you know, there, I feel heavy in my stomach, or I feel like there’s junk in the back of my throat every time I eat a banana. 

Kate O’Donnell 17:50 

So we start to notice these, the causative factors that we just kind of weren’t aware of before, simply because we’ve had them pointed out to us. And then it’s like you then it’s like you don’t, in the banana example, it’s like, the body can be. 

Kate O’Donnell 18:09 

Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, I think, what you say when you’re saying Shrankhla, like, it becomes intuitive, right? It’s, your body is like, I know what that banana is doing. Mm hmm. You know, I’m less interested in bananas now, like, can we gravitate towards pomegranate instead? You know,

Shrankhla Holecek 18:23 

 all all fair things. And it brings up another question that maybe is more personally driven. But I do imagine some of our audience struggles with access to what might be in traditional Ayurvedic texts, you know, sometimes when we’re sending a blog out with recipes, I’ll find myself sort of stymied by the availability even at Whole Foods, which will have broader sets of ingredients. 

Shrankhla Holecek 18:57 

As an expert in Ayurvedic cooking, we’d love to hear your thoughts on how to navigate that.

Kate O’Donnell 19:05 

 Yes. So the reason that we’ll choose a certain food in Ayurveda is because of its effect on the body, right? 

Kate O’Donnell 19:15 

So say we eat bananas, somebody’s all dried out. So we want to give them bananas because it will really bring that moisture to the body. And they don’t live in a climate where there’s bananas. So I so we have to say, okay, what foods grow in your climate that are moist, and a little bit slimy, you know, they might be like, Oh, you know, I have avocados, avocados grow here, you know, I’m like, you use it in a similar, use it for its same qualities. So whatever is available in a person’s environment that has its qualities, right? It’s gonna heat up or it’s gonna cool you down. I think the learning curve there is to begin to understand the qualities of the different foods. 

Kate O’Donnell 20:01 

I feel that’s what I’m trying to do with my books is like talk about the qualities of foods and help people understand that. Because if you know the texture and the feelings of a banana, you’ll think, you know, there’s got like, oh, that’s similar to a sweet potato. You know, things that’s similar to milk. Like there’s things that are available that are similar. So I feel like, you know, we run into problems with things like mung beans. You know, I- True, that’s, Not all my friends are like, how do I make that mung bean recipe? 

Kate O’Donnell 20:35 

And I send them to the Indian grocery store in town, but it’s there, I understand, you know, that there are certain things that are hard to find. You know, maybe a person lives in an area where meats are readily available, but legumes are not. 

Kate O’Donnell 20:49 

You know, so they’re a protein source, or they live on a coast, and so they have fish available. You know, so it’s like just about understanding what the qualities of these foods are, how they act on your body, and then you work with what’s there, you know? 

Shrankhla Holecek 21:05 

I love that answer. It makes so much sense, and again, drives home the idea of intuition and empowerment. Right. When it comes to Ayurvedic healing. And you started to touch on your book, which is something I definitely want to talk about, because they’re such a goldmine and an encyclopedia for anybody starting to immerse themselves into Ayurveda. 

Shrankhla Holecek 21:31 

And what I love about them is, yes, they talk extensively about how to use food to balance and heal your body. So there are recipes and more, but they lay such a wonderful, comprehensive nuance, but at the same time, understandable foundation of Ayurvedic principles. 

Shrankhla Holecek 21:53 

And it starts to make sense why certain foods or certain activities or certain rituals will change your body or balance your body back or heal your body. And your upcoming book, Every Day Ayurveda for Women’s Health, is particularly exciting to me because, A, I have health concerns about myself as a woman, but I also know that dear friends, dear customers, broader audiences. 

Shrankhla Holecek 22:25 

This is an area that all of us struggle a fair amount with and I don’t. know what the reasons are, whether it’s the more stressful lives we all lead, more pollution in our water, in our food supplies. 

Shrankhla Holecek 22:39 

But I think everyone’s having an issue with hormonal imbalance and it’s showing up in many good, many on the spectrum, bad ways of, you know, minor inconvenience to just downright wretchedness. So with that, I’d love to get started on some of the things that you talk about in your upcoming book. 

Kate O’Donnell 23:04 

Yes, it’s interesting because Ayurveda doesn’t, the texts don’t talk about hormones, right? Like hormones were only discovered, what, 100 years ago, 150 years ago? So I mean, 

Shrankhla Holecek 23:17 

they got a lot of it without actually going into the body, but you’re 5 ,000 years ago. 

Shrankhla Holecek 23:24 

But yeah, some of the more particular medical discoveries as hormones are not addressed indeed. Right, right. Whereas the balance of hormones that that’s seeming to be elusive for so many women right now, Ayurveda does talk about that. 

Kate O’Donnell 23:43 

Right. All the time. Right. And yoga talks about that all the time. And so the way part of what I had to do to create this book was kind of get the language opened up for us to have the conversation of how do we use Ayurveda to balance hormones. 

Shrankhla Holecek 24:01 

And I like to explain that hormones, they’re like messengers in the body, that they go around and they glom on to a receptor and they make something start happening. Right. So a ton of sense, you know, like, I think who hasn’t experienced a fight or flight response and what’s driving that? 

Shrankhla Holecek 24:24 

So yes. Yeah, great example. Yeah. So the hormones are they’re messengers, but who’s giving them the message? Right? Like, where is that message that they’re carrying through the body coming from? And that’s what’s interesting to me, because that’s the ultimate causative factor of the imbalance. 

Kate O’Donnell 24:46 

And what I see a lot is that it does have to do with stress, that cortisol and adrenaline, browser, say the big two stress hormones, they are being secreted in the body way more often than is healthy for a lot of them. 

Kate O’Donnell 25:06 

Yeah. And that then affects the sex hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, because all hormones exist in a balance with each other. Right. So it’s like if someone’s having a problem with, say, estrogen, amounts of estrogen, it’s, we have to look at the matrix in which that estrogen exists. 

Kate O’Donnell 25:26 

And we’ll say, Oh, well, the estrogen, the, the precursors for estrogen, are being stolen by cortisol, for example, that kind of thing happening a lot. So all the resources that build stress hormone, sex hormones and fertility and juiciness, you know, and like all the sexual fluids, all that lovely stuff, the resources that the body uses to create all that juiciness and all those healthy tissues are kind of being funneled over in the direction of creating the stress hormones because of the way that we live our lives, you know, because we do things or we take on too much, we hold too much, we try to do everything, you know, and we don’t necessarily, I think one of the problems is we don’t stop to take care of ourselves. 

Kate O’Donnell 26:20 

Women, I think, definitely end up taking care of everyone else, that happens a lot. And the other thing I’m looking at that really interests me right now is that I’m not sure we… cause enough to really sink into our deepest desire and the factor that drives us, to act the way that we do in our daily life. 

Kate O’Donnell 26:44 

And I feel like very easily we come disconnected from that. We become possessed by some idea. Like for instance, I need to make hundreds of thousands of dollars to send my child to higher education. That’s a stressful proposition, right? That has somebody pushing their body in ways that at some point, some bodies at some stages of life are just gonna say no. Like we have to do this in a balanced way. We can’t sacrifice everything for that ambition. 

Kate O’Donnell 27:17 

Although it’s a wonderful ambition and I get how important something like education is, you know, for your children. But it’s like we have to zoom out and take a larger view of what’s the cost. Yes. To us. 

Shrankhla Holecek 27:32 

And the balance, I think profoundly, I are rated is I keep coming back to it because I think all of us know it, but we forget about it in our micro as well as, you know, macrocosms about where the lines should be drawn in terms of personal energy, work, food habits, what you’re sacrificing. 

Shrankhla Holecek 27:59 

And in terms of sort of some of these tactical things one might be able to do, Kate, would you mind sharing one or two freebies that one could explore further in your book in terms of how women can get started in balancing their hormones? 

Kate O’Donnell 28:18 

Yeah, I love that you asked that question because when we talk about, you know, like getting attuned to our deepest desires and that can be overwhelming. So I am and I always have been. and you’ll see this in all of my work. I’m an advocate for very practical, very simple, like first step, right? Because the thing about how Ayurveda looks at imbalances is when an imbalance starts to happen in a body, it has like, it has energy behind it, you know? 

Kate O’Donnell 28:54 

So it’s like, it’s like when you roll a ball down a hill, you know? And so these balances gets energy from rolling, right? And like moving along in this person’s life. So when we change one little thing about the trajectory of that ball, you know, in the direction it’s rolling, it changes the whole process, right? So we often look at an imbalance and think we need to overhaul our entire life. Everything’s wrong, nothing’s working, right? I’m doing it all wrong. Where in fact, it’s the one small thing that we start with that then creates a chain reaction. 

Shrankhla Holecek 29:32 

Gosh, how inspiring, especially to many of us who do get glum when things are going wrong, but absolutely, please tell us more. 

Kate O’Donnell 29:43 

Yeah, so simple things, like one of the things I’m a really big fan of is the morning routine. 

Kate O’Donnell 29:50 

I think it is potentially the most important time of day because your ball, when you wake up in the morning, your ball is sitting at the top of the hill. That’s your life, you’re the ball and you’re sitting at the top of your hill and you can go in any direction that you please at that time and create whatever kind of energy you want that day. And so if we just whack the ball down the hill and start running around, then that’s the kind of energy that we create and that energy builds as the day goes on, we call that rudges for those who are familiar. 

Kate O’Donnell 30:24 

So in the morning, I recommend starting with, and this is something I know, your followers probably are familiar with the cleaning the tongue. And it always helps to reinforce because every now and then I’m talking to someone and she will go, you know, I have not done that for the last six months. 

Shrankhla Holecek 30:48 

Thank you for reminding me. 

Kate O’Donnell 30:49 

Yes, yes, yes. So I feel like we clean the tongue, we brush the teeth, maybe we do oil pulling. You know, if we’re inspired and then we drink some hot water. You know, it’s just dipping hot water. 

Kate O’Donnell 31:05 

You don’t clean the pipes with coffee or with cold things, right? So you actually detoxify and you get the digestion ready for the new day by just sipping on some hot water after cleaning the tongue and the mouth. And it’s not just about digestion. It’s not just about oral hygiene. It’s about starting your day with self -care. You know, starting your day by like connecting with the body. body. And just, you know, yes, it’s important to clean the mucus off the tongue, so we don’t have to digest that, right? 

Kate O’Donnell 31:39 

And oil pulling is a fantastic practice. I’ve noticed a huge change in my gums. They were going in a not great direction. And now they’re completely healthy 

Shrankhla Holecek 31:48 

it really is remarkable how some of these practices and they can, I won’t say oil pulling is trivial, because, you know, some some of us balk at the idea of the 10 minute thing, you can program it in, you know, you can do it partly in your shower, partly while you’re prepping your coffee, but totally agree oil pulling is one of those magnificent things that people just marvel at the results. 

Kate O’Donnell 32:19 

It they did. Yes, they’re it exactly. And so I’m a huge fan of that. But I didn’t do it for years. I was just not I did not want to take the time. Now I walk around my house you know, so I’m getting dressed, I’m doing my hair, I’m doing makeup, like all of that is happening while I’m swishing. 

Kate O’Donnell 32:37 

That’s the time that works for me to do it. Right. But I didn’t do it for years. It wasn’t until my my dentist wanted to send me to a gum specialist. But I was like, Oh, I said, No, I said, Let’s wait one year and let me start oil pulling religiously. 

Kate O’Donnell 32:52 

You know, and I did. And now I’m completely fine. Like, I have no problems. So there are, you know, I think these things definitely motivate us. But what I want to stress here is that doing something like this isn’t just about your gums and your teeth, you know, it’s actually about if we say hormones are messengers, what’s the message, you know, so we we wake up and we start a new day and the message that we send into the organism, the system that is this body is I care about you, you matter. 

Kate O’Donnell 33:25 

And I’m gonna I’m gonna like treat you well, and give you some of these substances that that make you healthy and give you longevity and beauty, you know, and radiance and all these things that we carry through life because of how we take care of ourselves. 

Shrankhla Holecek 33:41 

I like the sound of that partnership. And, you know, ongoing partnership with one’s body. In your book, you also talk about something that stood out to me, women’s journeys with their hormones as they course through life. 

Shrankhla Holecek 34:02 

And I thought it was beautiful how you teed that up that we go through these phases and our hormones change and our needs change. I’d love it if you could share a little bit more about that concept, as well as sort of the Ayurvedic perspective, your perspective on how women took the course of their lives and what their hormones do alongside. 

Kate O’Donnell 34:26 

Definitely. Yeah. So as you can imagine, when we hit puberty Pitta comes in. When your childhood is kappa time of life, it’s all about growing new tissues, you know, kids are all very mucusy. Yes, there’s a lot of kappa in the body. And with puberty, it’s like Pitta hits, it comes in, you know, and so things, you know, we get a lot more maybe rash or emotional, you know, there’s just a lot more volatility, which is 

Shrankhla Holecek 34:55 

things I understand with the high levels of Pitta in my body. 

Kate O’Donnell 35:00 

Yeah, right. Yeah. And it’s, and it’s, you know, I think if we look back to that time in our lives, we can think, Oh, how like strange that that was and felt and how we had to figure out how to be with this new energy in the body, you know. And so we expect that at puberty, but we don’t, I don’t know that we expect that or look at perimenopause and menopause in that way. So as we get, as we get into our thirties. Let’s say scientifically, it’s around 35. 

Kate O’Donnell 35:32 

The ancient text would say it started around 32, a little bit older, younger back then. So that’s when your sex hormones do start to decline. So it can be, let’s say, maybe more difficult for some to conceive as we get into the late 30s and into sex hormones as women get older. And it’s natural, you know, that’s supposed to happen that way. And so it’s this kind of very slow and gradual process that a lot of women might not notice at all, you know, until you start having changes in your period. 

Kate O’Donnell 36:18 

That’s what we would call perimenopause, which can be a 10 year that can go on like all through the 40s for some, for some women, it’s just a few years. And there’s this, this is what I think a lot of women are experiencing as a more, more drastic kind of perimenopause symptoms. 

Shrankhla Holecek 36:35 

True. 

Kate O’Donnell 36:36 

You know, we’re shifting now from the pitta time of life, which began with puberty, where we’ve enjoyed, you know, the, say the ambition and the activity and the responsibility of these decades, where we’re harnessing the fire element, you know, to be very active, to raise kids, you know, to have jobs, to do all the things that we do in the world. As that vata time of life comes with menopause, and it’s men as well, right? It’s like in your starting late 40s, 50s, like we’re shifting, the body is changing, and the body’s priorities are changing. 

Kate O’Donnell 37:12 

So the body is definitely putting less into fertility at that time, right? And so those resources then can free up and be, you know, used elsewhere. But the problem that I’m seeing is that when we do have these high stress, hormones, when we start to see the sex hormones not dropping as they should, as they naturally do, the stress hormones are then they’re unopposed. 

Kate O’Donnell 37:39 

Right. And so the balance between these, these two, like groups of energy, we could say in the body starts to kind of get off. And so we need to, as we get into our late forties, let’s say we do need to take care about how we aggravate Pitta, how we aggravate Vata, and we need a little more care. And we do need to potentially put a little more time and energy into managing our stress, or reducing our stress, you know, and I think that a lot of women in this stage of life will naturally what I see with my clients is women, they naturally what they want out of life begins to shift. 

Kate O’Donnell 38:23 

You know, they don’t want to kill it at work as hard. They just aren’t that interested. You know, a lot of women, I find them really, what’s really interesting is they, it’s like they’re having a spiritual awakening where they’re just not interested in all of the like, busyness that was the hallmark of the pitta time of life. And they’re looking for more an expansive, creative relationship to the world around them. It’s a beautiful thing. 

Shrankhla Holecek 38:49 

I know how natural that sounds. And like you said, a beautiful way to embrace the profoundness of each period in our life as life is meant to be. 

Kate O’Donnell 39:06 

Right, right. And I think one of the main tenets of Ayurveda is that we try to go with the flow of nature. You know, whether it’s the time of day, whether it’s the season or whether it’s the season of life. 

Kate O’Donnell 39:20 

You know, we accept that our environment is having effects on our body, like that we’re always changing. And just in the way that we like change what we eat, when it’s cold out, we can also shift the diet as we get older. And I think the hallmark of that time is we’re seeing a lot of high stress. So we’re seeing some pitta stuff there. And so with women, I have to talk about like things like alcohol, especially at night, red wine, you know, like, you know, it’s maybe become something we can’t do that every day. Maybe like meats, red meats at night, those kinds of things. Like they just heat the body up in a way that becomes very uncomfortable. And then with some women, it’s vata. You know, we really need to look at like they’re feeling dry. 

Kate O’Donnell 40:09 

So we see vaginal dryness. We see the skin changing, the hair changing, you know, and this like irregularity of the bowels, that kind of like dry stool. Like these things are not fun. Nobody wants to live with these things, you know? And so then we might, I might start to get them using more. ghee, right? Like how can we get more ghee in your diet? Like can we get you to get two teaspoons more per day? And can we make sure you’re digesting it? 

Kate O’Donnell 40:35 

You know that it is transforming in the body and that it’s not just going in as sort of like a heavy fat that’s going to sit there. And that’s why we’ll again back to the spices. Yes. And I love that your book covers everything soup to nuts in terms of take this but do it this way. 

Shrankhla Holecek 40:55 

And you know, underscoring the importance of seasonality and time of day, just like you know, we’ve been talking about to ensure that everything works vitally together. And, you know, two follow up questions emerge from what you just said. 

Shrankhla Holecek 41:14 

One is natural rhythm of life. And are there things women can and should be doing over and above what you already said? You know, I’m thinking about sort of I know there are people who follow the moon cycle and have aligned their periods with the moon cycle. 

Shrankhla Holecek 41:35 

Are there things like that that you’re a big fan of and would recommend, especially with the mindset of practicality in our life styles? Yes, yeah, I love that because the book has it has a whole section on lunar rhythm. 

Shrankhla Holecek 41:55 

It does. 

Kate O’Donnell 41:56 

Yeah. So I’m bringing that in there as you know, I’m a long time yoga practitioner. So I’ve I’ve been aware of moon’s energy in my body. And a good place to start, I think, for women is just to start noticing where we are in the moon cycle. Like just knowing, oh, the new moon is next week on Thursday, right? The full like having a moon calendar hanging on your wall, you know, or even like daily planners now will have the phases in them, you know. 

Kate O’Donnell 42:27 

And then you’re just aware because we are during just in the way that the tides like that the ocean, the movements of the ocean change according to the moon, right? When the moon is full, the tides are higher farmers plant around the full moon because it pulls water to the surface. 

Kate O’Donnell 42:48 

Right. So all that moisture and all that, what I call sexy juice, all the sexy juice in the body is like coming to the surface with the full moon. And this is not like it’s not mumbo jumbo, you know, it’s happening in the soil. It’s happening in our seas. You know, of course, it’s happening in our body. I know. Sometimes we forget that we’re part of the universe and all things are interconnected. But please go on. Yeah. So I think something we can do is say just a very simple practice for women to know, oh, you know, the full moon’s on Wednesday, you know, and the new moon  is two weeks later. And on a full moon day, we can expect to feel juicier. So in relationships, it can be super helpful to clue in a sexual partner. Like things might not be as sexy around the new moon, right? 

Kate O’Donnell 43:44 

But full moon, like let’s think about, you know, yeah, like let’s carve out time because that’s gonna be a lot more exciting. You know, creativity is all these, all these like outward things are happening. 

Kate O’Donnell 43:57 

And then one of my big recommendations for four women is to when the moon is new, when we’re in the dark moon is to just take it easy, a little any amount, you know, I’m not saying you close all the meetings for the day, I mean, but like, you just on that day, do some sort of ritual thing, which could be something like making a tonic with ashwagandha. you know, or Chautauvery, you know, some something very kind of grounding and supportive for the body. You do that on that day, you know, because you know, there isn’t as much of that natural juicy energy in the cosmos for you. Or you just, you know, maybe it’s a day where you feel like staying home instead of doing that extra thing in the evening. And if you can, you do. You know, and I not every month is perfect. I do my best to sort of have these rituals. 

Kate O’Donnell 44:52 

And sometimes I miss it. But every time I hit one, you know, a new moon where I rest or a full moon where I’m like super juicy. It’s like I celebrate that, you know,

Shrankhla Holecek 45:02 

 it’s worth celebrating. And you touched on two, two herbs that I personally love as well. And in fact, I always recall your Instagram live when I asked about Chautauvery, which I love for women’s hormones. And I personally take when I am home, I do dissolve the powder and I drink it. But when I’m traveling, I tend to favor the capsules because of easier mobility. 

Shrankhla Holecek 45:36 

And something that I hadn’t realized, but you called out was the importance of rasa on the tongue and made a lot of sense to me. I’d love for you to share that with our audiences, because it is profound in terms of how Ayurveda thinks about the food and the supplements we put in our body. 

Kate O’Donnell 45:59 

Yes, yeah, we asked the it’s like the digestive process begins with the tongue. And yes, the food, you know, so a taste is, it’s just our sense, our sensory way of connecting to what the qualities of that food are, like if something is, is fiery, it will taste spicy to us, you know, or something like Chautauvery will taste sweet, because it’s unctuous. 

Kate O’Donnell 46:24 

And so the body then is alerted. It’s like the message I get back to the messengers, right? So the message is is sent to the body that this kind of a substance is coming in now. So let’s get ready. You know, let’s get ready to transmute that into something that we can use. So it’s with something like Chautauvery, especially I feel because Chautauvery is, it’s a precursor, it’s a it’s food for our sex hormones, which is why so many women are having great luck using Chautauvery. 

Kate O’Donnell 46:55 

Yes, you know, and especially in perimenopause and menopause because it opposes those stress hormones. It helps the sex hormone stay stronger, you know, and the body build those. So when you taste it on the tongue, it’s it connects the consciousness into that process. 

Kate O’Donnell 47:15 

And it’s kind of signaling the digestion, like what, okay, these kinds of nutrient precursors are coming down the pipe. Let’s get ready to make some estrogen. And that’s the difference between swallowing something and having like a powder with a hot water or milk or something. 

Shrankhla Holecek 47:34 

That’s definitely stayed with me. And I will say that I’m doing the taste, Rautish Chitavari, much more since I heard you say that than the capsule switch. And you also said that, hey, at the end of the day, it does come around to what’s the precise term you used? Habit, there’s a better word that as long as it supports your habit, take the capsule. But when you can, you know, use the powder version as I do. In fact, I do love organic India. I think, did you recommend that? Or was there another that you recommend? 

Kate O’Donnell 48:19 

No, I like organic India, banyan botanicals for those who are in the US. 

Shrankhla Holecek 48:25 

Yes, that’s what I was thinking about. But any other herbs you love for women’s bodies, women’s health or spices? I know that is a pure specialty. 

Kate O’Donnell 48:39 

Yeah. Well, spices definitely, I think, cardamom, like the soft and warming spices, they pair nicely with something like Chitavari and help the body take that in. There’s the ones that are a little warm and also sweet. So that would be nutmeg, cinnamon, dry ginger powder. Like, so I’ll drop those into a cup with Chitavari. I gotta try that. Yeah. And cardamom is another really good one. And they, again, help the body break down the qualities of the Chitavari. And we do hear a lot about Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is one of those. Ashwagandha is warming. where Chautauvery is cool. And so that’s a big- To be reminded of that, yes. That’s a big difference, because if a woman is experiencing, say, excessive heat, like she’s having hot flashes, ashwagandha might make that worse. 

Shrankhla Holecek 49:30 

Makes sense. 

Kate O’Donnell 49:31 

Right, where for people who run cold, they’re like our very thin people, you know? That’s where ashwagandha can be very helpful because it keeps them warm and really strengthens the deep tissues of the body, especially having an affinity for the bones. 

Kate O’Donnell 49:48 

So that for women who are looking at concerns with bone density can also be helpful and fantastic. Yeah, it’s just good to know about the warming and the cooling. So sometimes we might mix together the two. 

Kate O’Donnell 50:04 

Like one ashwagandha, that’s a wonderful ton, balanced tonic for women. That is really helpful with the body. dealing coping with physical stresses makes you feel stronger 

Shrankhla Holecek 50:19 

makes makes a ton of sense that you’ve been so generous with your time i know we could talk for hours or i could you know sort of just listen to you for hours but uh before we let you go i would like to you know we have front row access to one of the people i like to think it is one of the more celebrated authors of ayurveda so from your own perspective i’d love uh to hear what each of your books quote unquote specializes in you know chances are people are going to rush and buy all of them but if someone was to pick one or the other i’d love to hear what each book covers 

Kate O’Donnell 51:00 

yes that’s important because it’s overwhelming there’s i’ve written four books you know so far so the the first one to

Shrankhla Holecek 51:07 

 think of it as a treasure trove but but

Kate O’Donnell 51:10 

 it’s a lot to digest in the beginning so the i often recommend everyday ayurveda cookbook as the starter and that’s like kitchen set up it introduces you to a lot of the spices that we use most often there’s there’s western as well as indian style dishes in there i would say it’s like 50 50 50 so you can learn different ways of incorporating these foods and spices into your life and it’s divided by season so that way also you’re not overwhelmed by like too many recipes you can just open to the season you’re in and start cooking you know so in that way user friendly and then the second book is about um the mind so it’s about sattva rajas tamas which are known as the doshas of the mind and so that one i find people definitely get a lot of help from that book around um the nervous system things like anxiety and depression like a 

Shrankhla Holecek 52:12 

lot of us need every face of our life, you know, yes, 1725 45. 

Kate O’Donnell 52:20 

Yeah, yes, yeah. So we talk about sort of stress management and trying to make shifts and in in how we relate to our daily life. I think that book is very special in that way. And that was called calm clear mind. 

Kate O’Donnell 52:33 

It’s also a cookbook. So it has 100 recipes that are unique to that book. They’re not in any of the other books. And the third book I wrote is the self care of everyday Ayurveda guide to self care. And so that one is where it’s I wanted to really dive into how this stuff works. Right. And so it’s more home remedies. So the recipes in that book are for things like the coffin cold, metabolic function, There’s some beauty, there’s some like homemade, you know, face masks and products as well. And some of these spices, how we might use the spices medicinally, like say making a tea with them and drinking that alongside meals, things like that. And that one also really goes into seasonal self care. 

Kate O’Donnell 53:22 

Like why we might use a different oil at a different time of year for a different body type that’s in there. And then the new one coming out is the women’s health. So again, it has recipes and all that, but I feel I feel very lucky to have a preview of that. 

Shrankhla Holecek 53:40 

And I am voraciously consuming it. It’s, it’s rich, it’s lovely. It’s eye opening. And it where is the best place to get one of your books? 

Kate O’Donnell 53:57 

I think the best place burn author, what helps me the most is that somebody goes into their local bookstore and asks for my book. 

Shrankhla Holecek 54:06 

Oh, wow. 

Kate O’Donnell 54:07 

That’s the most helpful thing for me. Yes. Wherever you live in the world listeners, you know, if you go into your local bookstore and say I want one of Kate O ‘Donnell’s books, both quaint and just lovely less inspiring. 

Shrankhla Holecek 54:23 

I will do that myself. And if one of us can pop into a bookstore, what’s this next best thing? 

Kate O’Donnell 54:31 

I think you could buy it direct from the publisher Shambhala, you can of course buy it on Amazon, you know, I think the best way to get a book is the way you’ll actually buy it. 

Kate O’Donnell 54:41 

And actually have it, which is often Amazon, you know, and just to let people know, we can put this in the show notes, but I’ve also recorded the introductory chapters on an audio so people can listen. And because there’s a lot of front matter in this book, and I want to help people consume it in ways that are convenient and easy to digest. So That’s free when people pre -order or buy the book. I’ll give you that link, we can put it up. 

Kate O’Donnell 55:10 

Then people can download and listen to the first several chapters of the book as well. 

Shrankhla Holecek 55:15 

Oh, how cool. 

Kate O’Donnell 55:16 

Yeah. 

Shrankhla Holecek 55:17 

Well, thank you so much for sharing all your wisdom for your books, for being so generous in both your time today and all the time, I would say, because I do follow you along. 

Shrankhla Holecek 55:32 

I do see the rich body of work you put out in educating audiences on Ayurveda. So any last thoughts, Kate, before we let you go? 

Kate O’Donnell 55:44 

No, I would just remind our listeners to keep it simple. Remember that that one little thing that you start doing changes everything eventually. 

Shrankhla Holecek 55:56 

It’s a good tip to take away and live by. Thanks again, Kate, for being here. We’ll put all the links just below the podcast and I’ll also cover them in my ending note after this closes. So thank you again and I’m hoping we will chat soon, very soon. 

Kate O’Donnell 56:16 

Thanks for having me. Great to be here. 

Shrankhla Holecek 56:20 

To learn more about Kate’s work, as well as her new book, Everyday Ayurveda for Women’s Health, please visit https://www.kateodonnell.yoga/. That is https://www.kateodonnell.yoga/. Thank you for listening. 

Shrankhla Holecek 56:35 

As we conclude this episode, we invite you to delve deeper into the world of Ayurveda with Uma. Please subscribe to the Uma Ayurveda podcast to continue this transformative journey with our series of conversations that we hope you’ll find enlightening. 

Shrankhla Holecek 56:52 

Visit umaoils .com that is u -m -a -o -i -l -s .com for an even more immersive experience exploring not only our luxury Ayurveda products, but also an array of inspired wellness insight and lifestyle tips.

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