Your second anti-stress plant for this month of December is Brahmi. Always at the side of streams and close to the water’s edge, Brahmi, or Bacopa monnieri (also spelled Bacopa monniera), is a creeping plant that reduces anxiety and may extend your memory. It is another rasayana in a long line of Ayurvedic plants to stash in your cabinet for a sense of calm and peace of mind. And when you pair your herbs with yoga breathing techniques, you just might double your tranquility, or at least quell the storm churning within.
Traditional medicine and contemporary research on Brahmi
In Ayurveda, Brahmi treats memory decline and inflammation. It acts as an effective nerve and brain tonic. Used to treat forms of epilepsy in the past, it acts as a mild sedative, but instead of dulling the mind it enhances mental clarity and focus. Often the whole plant is dried, processed and administered in a form that is most beneficial for the patient. Contemporary research in Nutrition Journal 2012 identifies two plant chemicals, Bacoside A and Bacoside B, that are assumed to be the key to Brahmi’s clinical efficacy in numerous animal studies and some human studies.
Yoga breathing for stress
In the last article, I introduced basic nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing. Continue the practice, but now, before you begin, check and see which nostril is more open. Is it the left one or the right? In yogic terms, the left nostril represents ida, the right one pingala. Broadly, ida/left nostril represents the feminine, the moon and contemplation; pingala/right nostril represents the masculine, the sun and action. Depending on what nostril dominates, you can plan your yoga practice and your day. If ida dominates and you are more contemplative, engage in those more reflective activities. If you are restless, perhaps it is time to take a walk since your right nostril/pingala is more open. This way you can work with your body, be more in tune with its rhythms and ultimately more aware.
Brahmi milk decoction
½ cup whole milk or water
½ teaspoon of Brahmi powder
Honey to taste
1. Heat milk or water on a low setting, add powder and stir for 3 minutes.
2. Let the decoction sit for 2 to 3 minutes, then strain.
3. Add honey and sip. You do not have to strain the powder, and you may ingest it, though some do not enjoy the gritty feel.
For a reliable source for organic plants, botanicals and spices, try Frontier; for Ayurvedic products, try Banyan Botanicals. Before taking any substances, always consult with your chosen health-care professional. To ensure proper yoga training, seek the advice of a certified yoga specialist.
Photo: Herbal Brahmi powder. Credit: Sarah Khan