Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Ayurvedic Therapies - Part 2: Kati Basti

Intro: What is Ayurveda and What Can it Treat?
Part 1 - Nasya (Nasal Herbal Oil Application)

Next in this series, we will explore Part 2: Kati Basti, a traditional Ayurvedic therapy for relieving tension in the neck, back and spine.

Kati Basti: Localized Herbal Oil Application

This tradition treatment relieves pain and promotes healing on the spine and surrounding muscles, nerves and tissue.  Warm oil is applied on a localized area of the spine which is retained for therapeutic effects. It is a deep tissue therapy that relieves tension, pain and promotes healing. Excellent for spinal issues, arthritis, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, low back pain & neck pain. It can be beneficial for concerns related to low back pain such as endometriosis, chronic menstrual pain, digestive issues and more.


The Ayurvedic practitioner identifies the area of the health concern in a brief assessment to customize the treatment. Lying face down, a ring of dough is applied to the individual to create a pool in which warm medicinal oil is poured gently and retained.  This oil provides natural pressure to help the spine, muscles and nerves readjust to their natural balance.  The medicinal properties in the oil are absorbed deep into the tissues and act on the local area to reduce pain, inflammation and fatigue. Steam may be applied to the area to allow the oils to penetrate through the pores into the tissues, and promote muscle relaxation.

Benefits of Kati Basti:

  • Relieves neck & back tension
  • Strengthens the spine
  • Reduces muscle tension
  • Nourishes skin, muscle & nerves
  • Restores flexibility in the spine
  • Corrects postural imbalances

Kati Basti treatment lasts one hour. Treatments are often recommended in close succession and can be very beneficial when paired with other Ayurvedic therapies. For chronic spinal issues, several treatments are recommended to relieve pain and promote healing. If you have tried conventional massages, chiropractic, acupuncture or other therapies but still looking for relief, Kati Basti may be right for you! 

All Ayurvedic therapies are customized according to your constitution and health concerns. It is advised to have an initial naturopathic consultation with Dr. Leena Athparia, ND before proceeding to ayurvedic therapies so that the treatments can be customized according to your needs. To book an appointment, contact Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Back to School...with Ayurveda

Understanding Your Child's Dosha Type

By Dr. Leena Athparia, BSc, BA, ND, AWC

Finding balance can be challenging. The return of school schedules and after-school activities adds further to the challenge. As in adults, children also have their own constitution, personality and daily imbalances. No two children are alike. Understanding your child's dosha type can go along way to maintain harmony at home and in school. Fortunately, children have the ability to return to a state of balance more easily than adults who have accumulated imbalances over the years.

Below is an outline of the 3 main dosha types according to Ayurveda (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) and how you can recognize them in your child. By supporting balance, mentally, physically, and emotionally you can prevent common concerns such as colds & flu, worry, temper tantrums and more.

The Vata Child

Attributes: Creativity - Motivation - Dynamic
This type of child often has a thin frame and is very active. They can be more sensitive to external factors (sounds, smells, lights) or to what others say to them. They are often very creative and can be dreamers.  The vata child can be very active but tire quickly. Their nervous system can be more active and they might have trouble winding down. They are prone to digestive concerns such as tummy aches or elimination issues.

Needs: Grounding - Warming - Rejuvenating
A vata child does well with activities that help ground them, such as hugs, time outdoors and hands-on activities. These children need to sleep early and get enough sleep, and eat foods that are warming, moist and nourishing. Foods such as root vegetables and healthy oils (ghee, olive) are very grounding for these types. They do best when their schedules are not overpacked with activities.  Warm ayurvedic oil massage (abhyanga) is very beneficial for them - you can either do it for your child or speak to your Ayurvedic practitioner to customize what would be best for them.

The Pitta Child

Attributes: Organized - Determined - Strong
This type of child tends to be strong and determined, often finding themselves competing with others or putting pressure on themselves to do better. They often have a strong build and enjoy athletic activities. These types tend to be prone to skin issues and in teens, acne tends to affect pitta types more.  They generally have good appetites and digest well.  They are often outspoken and make good leaders. When unbalanced, they can get angry, frustrated or boss around others.

Needs: Relaxation - Cooling - Moderation
Pitta types do best with things and activities in moderation. They should not be pushed, and allowed activities that are more relaxing. They do best with foods that are more cooling such as cucumbers, mint, juicy fruits and reducing foods that are very spicy, sour or salty (such as potato chips). Cooling colours can be supportive as well in terms of clothing or bedroom decor. Aromatherapy oils, such as lavender, can be very beneficial for these children as well. Your naturopathic doctor/ayurvedic practitioner can suggest oils that are suitable for your child.

The Kapha Child

Attributes: Stable - Caring - Patient
This type of child can be very caring and patient. They are generally very stable and like structure. They may have a tendency to gain weight which can become an issue at school amongst peers. Kapha children like to sleep and find it hard to get motivated. These types are more prone to mucous production, sinus issues and asthma. They crave sweets and love cheese & milk which is heavy for them to digest and mucous producing.

Needs: Movement - Motivation - Warming
These types often appear to be in slow motions - they need motivation and movement. Encouraging early wake up times and physical important are crucial to your kids health. Excessive snacking can contribute to weight gain and sluggish digestion - healthy snacks for these types include raw veggies (carrots, celery) or healthy baked chips such as kale chips. They should avoid cold water or foods from the fridge and increase warming spices such as ginger and black pepper in their meals.

For all children, fresh air, wholesome food, exercise, minimal screen time, free play and a loving, nurturing environment is crucial to their development. No two children are alike nor are any children one fixed dosha type - it may fluctuate depending on time, season and other factors. Identifying how the 3 doshas and the 3 elements manifest in your child throughout the day and seasons, as well as observing within yourself can be a stepping stone to a more harmonious dynamic between you and your child, as well as everyone around. This is the foundation for their future.

Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor with extensive training in Ayurveda and can help identify your child's constitution and promote wellness in childhood and teenage years. To learn more, please contact Naturopathic Foundations at 905-940-2727 or email lathparia@naturopathicfoundations.ca to book an appointment with Dr. Leena Athparia ND.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Ayurvedic Therapies - Part 1: Nasya

Part 1 - Nasya (Nasal Herbal Oil Application)

In the last post, we explored What is Ayurveda and What Can it Treat?

Next, we will explore the various Ayurvedic therapies in a series...

What is Nasya?

Nasya is a simple, yet effective Ayurvedic therapy involving steam inhalation, facial massage and nasal application of herbal oil - customized to the individual. The nasal passage is very delicate with membranes that require lubrication to stay healthy, especially in drier climates. When you are exposed to cold, dry air in fall or winter, or even dust and air conditioning in the summer, the nasal passage requires care.

With Nasya treatment, warm herbal oil lubricates the nasal passages and removes obstructions to allow smooth breathing and smooth flow of prana or qi. The nose is also considered as a passage to the brain - nasya treatment is also very effective for conditions related to the brain & nervous system.

It is recommended as preventative care for individuals prone to allergies, respiratory or sinus infections, or anyone exposed to dry, cold or windy climates. It can help remove excess mucous from the sinuses and drain toxins.

What are the Benefits of Nasya?

  • Lubricates the nasal passages
  • Reduces upper respiratory tract infections & sinus infections
  • Promotes clarity of mind and concentration
  • Calms the nervous system
  • Drains the lymphatic system
  • Promotes health of the ears, eyes, nose & throat
  • Removes excess kapha 

How is Nasya Different from Neti Pot?

Both therapies help cleanse and drain the nasal passage and sinuses. Neti can be done on your own and involves warm saline water flushed through the nostrils. It was traditionally incorporated into preparation for yogic practices. Nasya involves herbal oil and is applied after steam inhalation therapy and facial massage to stimulate circulation and loosen excess "kapha" or mucous in the face. This was traditionally used as a method to allow medicinal oils to be absorbed locally in the body. 

Nasya is best done preventatively, and is often suggested in a series of treatments in close succession for maximum benefit. The treatment is customized according to your constitution and health concerns. Nasya treatments are half an hour in duration. A series of daily or weekly treatments may be recommended for best results. Fall is an excellent time to experience Nasya and prevent colds & flus. Speak to your Ayurvedic practitioner to find out which therapy is best for you.

All Ayurvedic therapies are customized according to your constitution and health concerns. It is advised to have an initial naturopathic consultation with Dr. Athparia before proceeding to Ayurvedic therapies so that treatments can be customized according to your constitution. To book an appointment, contact Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

What is Ayurveda & What Can it Treat?

What is Ayurveda? 

Ayurveda is an ancient system of medicine that provides an integrated approach to preventing and treating health concerns.  Originating in India, with many links to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is a system which is now widespread and relevant to our modern era.  

Wellbeing, according to Ayurveda, is a delicate balance between the body, mind, spirit and the environment.  It is based on the understanding that the forces and principles found in nature, also exist in humans.  Ayurveda outlines three fundamental energies that govern the inner and the outer environment: movement, transformation and structure. These three energies (doshas) are known as Vata (air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (earth). These represent the primary forces that determine one’s physical and mental constitution.

Ayurveda emphasizes prevention with daily self-care techniques (dinacharya), lifestyle habits and customized nutrition. Specific Ayurvedic treatments are used to treat chronic and acute health conditions to prevent worsening disease and to help you regain vitality.  This system of medicine acknowledges the role of the mind and pairs well with it's sister science, Yoga, to help raise consciousness.

An Ayurvedic assessment identifies your constitution and helps you understand various factors which may be contributing to your health concerns such: as seasonal changes, environmental toxins, exercise & posture, diet, and stress.  An assessment includes a detailed health history, questions on lifestyle and personality and physical exam which involves tongue, pulse & nail diagnosis.

Ayurvedic treatments may include customized herbs, lifestyle recommendations, therapeutic oil massage & ayurvedic therapies to support your health.

What Can it Treat?  

Ayurveda is a wholistic system - understanding the link between body, mind and emotions and how they relate to health.  A full intake is done, integrating Ayurvedic assessments to identify the underlying cause and manifestation of the disease.  The ayurvedic understanding is that imbalances of Vata, Pitta & Kapha lead to chronic conditions.  Ayurveda, as does naturopathic medicine, works with treating the individual rather than treating merely the disease. The same disease in different people may have a completely different etiology or origin.  Ayurveda emphasizes accurate assessment to identify the cause and progression of the condition so that treatment can be tailored to the individual.

Examples of Common Conditions Treated:

Vata conditions:

  • ·     Joint pain
  • ·      Osteoporosis
  • ·      Anxiety
  • ·      Insomnia
  • ·      Digestive concerns
  • ·      Muscle tension
  • ·      Headaches
  • ·      Constipation

Pitta conditions:

  • ·      Inflammation
  • ·      Arthritis
  • ·      Migraines
  • ·      Hypertension & Heart disease
  • ·      Skin conditions
  • ·      Ulcers
  • ·      Anger & irritability

Kapha conditions:

  • ·      Weight gain
  • ·      Edema
  • ·      Diabetes
  • ·      Respiratory concerns
  • ·      Depression
  • ·      High Cholesterol
  • ·      Fatigue
Ayurveda understands that the mind plays a major role in health and not only addresses physical issues, but does not overlook the importance of mental, emotional and spiritual balance. Meditation and yoga play a significant role in addition to dietary, lifestyle factors and other treatments.  Treatment plans follow Ayurvedic principles that have been effectively practiced for thousands of years and provide solutions for modern health concerns.

What are Ayurvedic Treatments ? 

Ayurveda, offers a rich variety of treatments - many of which appear intricate or exotic. However, Ayurvedic therapies follow ayurvedic principles and work systematically to remove obstacles & toxins (ama), ignite agni, and rejuvenate you on all levels. Therapies are always customized to the individual's constitution & condition, geographical location, season, time of the day etc.

Ayurvedic Treatments: 
  •  Nutrition - diet according to dosha types
  •  Botanical medicine - customized herbs to promote balance
  •  Abhyanga – full body oil massage
  •   Shiroabhyanga – head & Neck massage
  •   Nasya – face massage & nasal application of herbal oil
  •  Gharshana – exfoliating herbal massage
  • Kati Basti – localized herbal oil treatment for back issues
  • Shirodhara - warm oil poured on forehead to promote relaxation

Interested in Ayurveda or want to learn more about Ayurvedic therapies? Contact us hereStay tuned for Part II on Ayurvedic Treatments !

Dr. Leena Athparia ND visiting an Ayurvedic Dispensary in Kerala

Dr. Leena Athparia is one of the few naturopathic doctors in Toronto who integrates Ayurveda into her Naturopathic practice. She is passionate about helping others learn more about Ayurveda & Yoga, guiding them with everyday tools to help them to feel their best. To book an appointment or to learn more about Ayurveda, please contact Dr. Leena Athparia, ND.

Monday, 18 July 2016

What's the Craze with Coconuts ?!

by Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

If you grew up in a tropical country (or if you were lucky enough to grow up in a country without cold winters!) coconuts were probably no big deal. They grow everywhere, they are used in cooking - from drinks to desserts to curries.

In North America, if you didn't grow up from a tradition where coconut was used, you probably enjoyed coconut as a delicacy - as shredded coconut dusted on cakes, or as an ice cream flavour, or in an exotic Thai curry.

However, in the past 5-10 years in North America, the coconut craze has kicked in with coconut-products catching your eye no matter where you are. It seems like coconuts are becoming a one-stop meal from coconut "meat" to coconut water to coconut sugar. You can eat it hot, you can eat it cold, you can enjoy roasted or raw. The coconut's versatility has helped it's popularity rise.

Did you know that coconuts are being used for the following?

  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut butter/cream
  • Coconut flour
  • Coconut sugar
  • Coconut milk (milk alternatives)
  • Coconut whipped cream
  • Coconut yogourt
  • Coconut ice cream
  • + external coconut based oils and creams

If you love coconut, this might be great news ! If you don't, it seems like it's getting harder and harder to avoid !  So what's the big deal about coconut? Isn't it rich in fat that will clog your arteries?

While coconut may be an over-marketed miracle food, and while you may not want to substitute everything with coconut, there are certainly several amazing benefits to consider.

A few Benefits of Coconuts:

  • Coconuts are cooling in nature. In Ayurveda, coconuts are beneficial for Pitta types as they have cooling properties.
  • Coconut flesh is a delicious alternative to dairy (or rice/soy milk): coconut cream, coconut milk or whipped cream
  • Coconut water is rich in electrolytes to help hydrate you in summer heat and works as a natural electrolyte drink alternative.
  • Coconut oil has amazing anti-viral & anti-fungal properties due to the presence of lauric acid.  It is rich in MCT oil (medium-chain triglyceride oil) claimed by many companies to help you burn fat, and support the brain & nervous system.

What's best for my constitution?

If you have a Kapha constitution, coconuts are generally not advised on a regular basis as they are cooling and heavy. Individuals with a Vata constitution can general enjoy coconuts in the summer, but best to avoid in the winter due to the cooling properties. Modifications for Vatas can include cooking coconut and adding warming spices such as cinnamon or ginger to neutralize their cooling effect in the body. Pitta types generally tolerate coconut products well.

While coconut has saturated fats, these are naturally occurring fats which are healthy in moderation versus hydrogenated vegetable oils such as margarine. However, if you have specific health concerns such as cholesterol or weight gain, it is always best to work with a practitioner rather than self-prescribing high doses of coconut products. Too much of a good thing may not be good so moderation is key.

Try something new - experiment with coconut recipes this summer and let use know what you think !


  • Coconut-Mint Chutney:

  • Homemade Coconut Yogourt:

One of my favourite dairy-free, probiotic-rich coconut yogourt recipes !
View recipe here: http://www.ishafoundation.org/us/blog/homemade-coconut-yogurt

If you want to know more about your Ayurvedic constitution and what kinds of foods are best for you, contact Dr. Leena Athparia, ND for more on naturopathic medicine & Ayurveda. To book an appointment, contact Naturopathic Foundations at 905-940-2727 (Markham) or Yuri's Village at 416-466-5773 (Danforth).  A complimentary 15 min meet n greet is available to learn more how Naturopathy and Ayurveda can help you.