Wholistic Mama - Herbs


Pregnancy is a time of happiness and many, many changes to your body. With these changes may come discomfort. We know that this does not have to be a time of displeasure, so we’ve included some herbs that have been known to mitigate symptoms common in pregnancy. From nausea to sleep deprivation, you may find that these help.

Ginger Root to combat morning sickness. Tea and capsules are commonly recommended in books and other sources, but drinking warm or even cold tea when you are already sick to your stomach is no fun, and may even make you feel worse. The same is true with capsules sitting in your stomach and the water or juice you need to take to chase them. Other options you may consider are slivers of ginger placed directly in your mouth, ginger candies, or ginger ale.

Cranberry to prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). Cranberry can be used in the form of cranberry juice (opt for a less sugary type from the natural foods store or fresh juice made at home in a juicer using ½ cup of fresh frozen cranberries and 2 apples) or cranberry capsules dosed as recommended on the product of your choice.

Chamomile to help with sleep and relaxation. Pregnancy is often a time of disturbed sleep whether from vivid dreams, new concerns over becoming a mother, or the discomfort of your growing belly making it hard to find just the right position. Chamomile can be taken throughout the day for stress relief and/or before bedtime for relaxation and better sleep.

Red Raspberry Leaf to tone the uterus in preparation for childbirth. Some studies show that Red Raspberry can also help to expedite labor and reduce complications and interventions associated with birth. This herb is best used during the second trimester.

Evening Primrose Oil to soften the cervix. Evening Primrose can be ingested orally, inserted vaginally or used during perineal massage. As the cervix ripens contractions are triggered which may lead to labor. Additionally the softening of the cervix may help make labor quicker and easier. It is recommended to start using Primrose in the last trimester of your pregnancy.

Back Support

According to Jeddy Azuma, Doctor of Physical Therapy, the deep abdominal muscles play a key role in relieving back tension.  When they are they are in a state of activation and your core is engaged, it gives your back muscles some relief from being overworked.  To learn about loosening up your back even further, join us for stretching, alignment assessment and mobility exercises at the Friday 'Unlock your Body' class.  Hosted by two doctors of physical therapy, Jeddy & Phil, this class at 9am every Friday can help people of every age group and body type get stronger. Come give it a try! Dropping in is $20, and if you decide to commit to 10 classes, we offer a free 30 minute personalized one-on-one consultation specifically for your body's unique needs.

Honey, Honey

Raw honey- that sweet golden treasure that we eat has so many applications! In case you haven't got a jar on your shelf yet, you may want to get one for health multi-tasking:

-Seasonal Allergies: the trace amounts of pollen local to your area in local honey can balance your histamine responses over the long term.

-Making electrolyte drinks: lemon, honey, himalayan salt... GO!

-Creating a facial masque: it's humectant, meaning it attracts minute amounts of water and plumps the skin.

-Healing a mild burn or scrape: it's antibacterial and nurtures the skin while it heals.


The Sun at Your Back

This morning in Qi Gong class here at Amara, our teacher re-oriented the class so that we could all face west.  The experience was lovely because our backs were warm and we could see our teacher clearly in the soft eastern light.  His choice was more than aesthetic.  Traditionally when practicing Chinese martial arts, one nourishes the body with the sun at one's back.  In the morning, you face west.  In the afternoon, you face east.  This offers a source of nourishment to the energy body that is very beneficial.  Try it for a week when you do your daily tasks or exercise and see if you feel a difference!

Watermelon- An Electrolyte Balancer

When you have been sweating, and you need to get some electrolytes back into your system, what foods do you enjoy?  The key is usually picking something that can give you back small amounts of salt and potassium- replenishing your body's supplies so your metabolism can continue to hum along smoothly in the warm weather. A slice of watermelon with a dash of sea salt has a lovely balance of potassium and trace minerals that really hits the spot nutritionally.  Served fresh out of the refrigerator, watermelon can cool you off and top up your electrolyte stores.  Yum!

Squeezing Your Bones

Did you know that physiologically, your bones get stronger and produce more marrow when they receive pressure?  The tendons and ligaments pulling/pushing on the bones help cue them to grow and change.  So what can you do to create this effect on a regular basis for your bones, particularly if you don't consider yourself "athletic" or if you have health concerns like osteoporosis?

Tai Chi!! The slow gentle spirals utilized in Tai Chi movements use connective tissue to compress the bones- like wringing out a towel.  These caresses of connective tissue on bone are a lovely way to get in touch with strength without using any jarring force.  Smoothness of form and slowness of tempo make TaiChi a practice that speaks straight to your skeleton.

Never heard of Tai Chi? Join Alan on Wednesday mornings at 9am at Amara for his class.  A drop in costs $15.  Whether you are a seasoned pro or a newbie, we would love to have your company. 

Gems & Minerals

Did you know that quartz crystal bits within our cellular phones are part of the inner workings that enable them to receive calls and ring?  The ability to respond to heat & pressure to create an electrical charge (or a vibrating resonance) proves useful in both engineering science and crystal healing!  Having a gem resting on your body, responding to your warmth or the pressure of you hands can feel very soothing.  

When you come to Amara remember to visit our gallery of crystals & minerals.  You may pick out a crystal to purchase, or perhaps you just want to just touch,  look and explore what gems you have an affinity for.  Either way, you can make some friends in the mineral kingdom.

Our Grand Opening

Here at Amara, we have been brainstorming on how we can be of service as we launch this phase of our healing center.  

Our focus this spring has been integrating movement classes into our clinic space, and we want to invite everyone to our amazing new offerings! We have classes in Qi Gong, Taoist yoga and Meditation.  We have decided to have a Grand Opening introducing our movement instructors with activities including music, dinner catered by Mandala, discounted massages and discounted movement classes! 

So join us on March 26th for our grand opening- what is sure to be a memorable day for all!!

Click here for tickets!!

  • Meditation with Alan Chang at 9am

  • Unlock your Body-Somatic Movement with Jeddy Azuma and Phil Gomez at 10am

  • Qi Gong with Dastan Khalili at 11:30am

  • 12:30-3pm Break

  • Taoist Yoga with Lily Kutzuba at 3pm

  • Tai Chi with Alan Chang at 4:30 pm

  • Opening Ceremony and Kyudo Zen Archery Demonstration at 5:30 pm

  • Music and Celebration with Prana Brothers and friends at 6 pm-9 pm

  • Food by Mandala Tibetan and Indian Cuisine at 6:30 pm-7:30pm- vegetarian meal options will also be available

The Easiest Season to Grow

Thinking about freshening up your life?  How about starting a small garden with the beautiful March rainfall?  The easiest way to indulge your senses without making epic efforts is to start small and act practical.  Spring craft ideas suggests reusing a colander to make a planter, which can look really unusual when you make it a hanging model, and the colander would provide maximum aeration for some lovely herb starters from the local nursery!  

So how do you pick some plants you won't end up killing off in a week?  I have gone around to our locally owned nursery here in Ojai, Flora Gardens, to ask for you!  If you are here in sunny California, Thyme & Marjoram are a lovely low-water-use safe bet that will thrive.  Also, for those of you that want to sprinkle something in your omelette, there is nothing quite like the fresh tender chutes of a chive plant cut up in your eggs.  Chives grow back quickly and you can eat them dried or fresh on just about any savory food.

Happy Planting!!

The Muscular System

A little less than half the weight of an average person comes from their muscles, and you might justifiably ask: what do these power-house helpers do for me? Muscles serve to create both our voluntary (walking) and our involuntary (heart beating) actions, and they all move in one specific way- they contract.  According to the website Top 10 Facts About the Muscular System

"Muscles cannot push.  They can only pull.  When something in the body is 'pushing', its actually because another muscle is pulling. For example, when you push something with your arms, it is actually the muscles in the back of your arm pulling your elbow."

So when tracking how you move, and what areas are working to create that movement remember- do be pushy!  Think about pulling.

Spring into Spring

How do you harness the power of this new season from your health?

In Chinese medicine, spring is liver time.  The liver is associated with wood and the color green; think of all the little green plants beginning their journey from seed to tree right now!  The lesson from the season is to remain succulent and pliant, as opposed to brittle and unbending.  The best qualities of wood come out when we get both strength and flexibility working together.   To maximize the potential of the season, it may be time to clean your liver so anything causing congestion or stiffness in the body can be flushed out.  The gentle weather and warm sun help get the body going as you pick foods to hydrate and nourish.  Think green- green salads, green juices, green apples and dark bitter sauteed veggies.


Unlocking Your Your Body by Breathing

We let our in-house physical therapist Jeddy Azuma compose a pearl of wisdom just for you this week!  So take a deep breathe and get ready to absorb these cool ideas about breathe:

Breathing, or respiration, is commonly overlooked in regards to its critical function in health and wellness. While we all know that without breath there is no life, some are still largely unaware of the far-reaching effects of breath and breathing strategies.  For starters, did you know that breathing is the ONLY physiological function in the body that is both voluntary and involuntary

Here are 5 other quick thoughts about breathing you may not know:

1. The movement of the ribcage during breathing is crucial in setting the tone for your posture.

2. Long, relaxed inhalation and exhalation induces a relaxing, anti-inflammatory state in your nervous system that affects you entire body physiology (look up “parasympathetic nervous system”).

3. Though we appear symmetrical in our bodies, our basic anatomy and breathing mechanics guarantee that we are not (for example, you have 1 Liver on the right side of your body, 1 Pancreas on the left, stronger diaphragm on the right, etc.).

4. The diaphragm is the primary engine for normal breathing, but it does not function well in disordered postures. Thus, you will depend more on smaller, accessory muscles to breathe if you are misaligned.

5. Breathing with an extended back and elevated ribcage - which is a common postural strategy used by people who pull their shoulders back and stick the chest out - increases the sympathetic response in the body. This contributes to elevated blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tone, and other physiological effects reflective of the stress response.

Filtering Your Water

Water is one of the basic needs to sustain life, and it's an important cornerstone of health maintenance.  Did you know most people need at least 8 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated?  In this current age of expensive plastic water filters and bottled waters, how do we minimize waste but still have delicious pure taste in our water?  In Japan, for decades, they have utilized a tradition method which is effective even today!  Types of pure charcoal can be placed in tap water to absorb heavy metals like lead and typical pollutants like chlorine. What kinds of charcoal works best?  Well, bamboo charcoal is exceptionally pure and easy to use.  In addition is is an ecologically sound choice because it's a renewable resource! Check out our friends who produce MIYABI CHARCOAL on their website www.miyabicharcoal.com- to see what charcoal can do for you.

Five Elements of Chinese medicine

In the Chinese philosophy of health, the elements of health are described by relationships between the elements.  Each organ has its place with a specific element, and healthy function requires a symbiosis of all five elements.  Listed below are the five elements and their pathways of growth and destruction.

Earth (spleen & stomach) is nourished by Fire (Heart & Small Intestines)
Metal (lungs & large intestine) is created by earth
Metal dissolves to feed
Water (kidneys & urinary bladder) nourishes
Wood (liver & gallbladder) feeds fire

Water quenches fire
Fire tempers metal
Metal cuts wood
Wood restrains earth
Earth holds back water

Rock the socks!!

Keeping warm in this wintery time feels so good!  So what are the keys to staying effortlessly warm?  Covering your extremities makes it easy for you body to keep your core temperature stable.  When your feet and ankles are covered in a cozy layer, you keep the heat circulating in your whole lower half.  Similarly, wearing a hat can keep up to 30% of the body's heat from escaping thru the top of your head, so cap both ends of your body and avoid the chill of the season.  Easy cold prevention and effortless health maintenance!

Tai Chi


As we are beginning the new year and strengthening positive patterns in our lives, Amara has adopted Taichi as one of our offerings for the Ojai community.  What is Taichi? It is both a martial art and a cloud-water dance.  If you have never heard of the benefits of taichi, we thought they were very elegantly described by the Authentic Yang Style Taichi Website:

"The continuous flowing movements of Tai Chi are based on the principle that running water never stagnates. The gentle movements relax your muscles and joints which strengthens your body from the inside. Through movement and meditation Tai Chi brings you robust physical health, and peace of mind.

Tai Chi uses calming, structured movement to counteract the stress of living in today’s fast and pressured society. Our minds are constantly stimulated and strained by work, relationships, money and hundreds of other distractions.

Even in your sleep your mind remains active. An over stressed mind makes mistakes and interferes with healthy functioning of the body. Only by entering the state of tranquility which Tai Chi can give you will your mind and body rest thoroughly."

Combined Activation

“Love your body from within then see it shine from without!"-Author Serena Jade on Tantra Yoga

In yoga, according to Serena Jade, the combination of three things make change in the molecules of our body: movement, sound and intention.  If we combine these three elements, our practice becomes exponentially stronger- whether or not we are in a yoga pose!!  Applying this trio creatively throughout our lives can make a shift in how effective our meditations, exercises and interactions are.

Eat Well, Be Well

"He who takes medicine and neglects dietary nutrition, wastes the skill of his doctors.”              -Chinese Proverb.

In this chilly season, support your body with ginger tea, hearty veggie stews and nourishing cooked greens.  Keeping the body warm makes it easy for homeostatic regulation even though it may be cold out. The beauty of winter health building is the opportunity to be a bit more hearty in our tastes to build our strength.


According to Johns Hopkins University, frankincense has been proven to be a psychoactive antidepressant.  Simply inhaling the essential oil from a diffuser or burning the raw resin can activate your relaxation and warmth receptors.  How perfect for use in the colder darker seasons!

Raw Beet Salad

Raw beet powder has recently been marketed as a supplement for liver health and sustained vitality during workouts!  Instead of recommending you add another pill or powder to your regimen, how about a salad recipe?  Healing the body thru good food makes life easy!

1 large red beet

1 green apple

1/2 lemon

2 tbspn. olive oil

1 pinch sea salt