As yogis, we are constantly challenging our bodies to adapt, develop and perform to the best of their ability. Strengthening your muscles through regular yoga practice does take time and commitment, but let’s not forget the pain that can be involved. But it’s a good sort of pain, right?

If you’re anything like us, suffering from a sore tummy or bum the day after an intense yoga class is often the most rewarding feeling; it means you’re making progress! Aching muscles after any workout is all part of the plan. This is your body’s way of telling you that it’s adapting (somewhat painfully!) to the new muscular stress, whether that’s a challenging yoga inversion or even some squats and lunges at the gym. The mild inflammation and soreness that occurs in the muscles after physical exertion is completely normal, but you should always listen to your body’s signals in order to prevent over-exertion and injury.

So would you believe us if we told you that there is a simple, efficient and healthy way to battle pain and inflammation?

That’s right, and it comes in the form of a little pot of gold! Turmeric is an ancient golden spice that has been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, not to mention it packs a punch in a delicious curry!

But Indian food aside, turmeric really is a versatile superfood that is emerging as a powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic and analgesic to suitably treat numerous conditions and ailments. Recent studies into the healing properties of turmeric have shown that it’s alleviating affect is equal to that of prescription anti-inflammatory medication, but without all the nasty side effects of course. Rich in magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc and copper, consuming turmeric regularly can aid in the treatment and prevention of:

  • arthritis
  • muscular aches and pains
  • acne
  • depression
  • cancer
  • bloating
  • irritable bowel pain
  • menstrual pain
  • chronic sore throats
  • cold and flu symptoms
  • headaches
  • Crohns disease
  • cataracts
  • gallstones
  • high cholesterol
  • type 2 diabetes
  • liver damage
  • muscle degeneration
  • asthma

But before you race to the closest supermarket to raid the spice aisle for all the turmeric, there’s a few important facts you need to know about this miracle powder. Firstly, what gives turmeric it’s powerful healing properties?

Curcumin is the bioactive ingredient in turmeric – in other words, this is where the magic happens. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that neutralises free radicals and stimulates the body’s own antioxidant enzymes to help fight infections and aid in immune responses. In the simplest of scientific terms (we are yogis, not scientists!) curcumin blocks inflammation on a molecular level by inserting itself into the cell membrane and making it more orderly and obedient, affecting around 160 physiological pathways in the body.

Unfortunately, turmeric powder has a very low bioavailability, meaning that the intestine struggles to absorb the goodness of the curcumin. What’s more, even in it’s natural state a turmeric root only contains around 3% curcumin, so if you’re interested in getting the best results it’s essential to purchase a good quality turmeric powder. Visit your local health food store to find a certified organic powder with a high percentage of bioactive curcumin, as the standard supermarket spices can contain unwanted additives and fillers. Interestingly, research shows that combining turmeric with black pepper can activate its properties and help increase the bioavailability of the curcumin by almost 2000%, and luckily there’s a simple recipe to get the most out of your turmeric!

Golden Paste
½ cup organic turmeric
1 cup water (additional water may be required)
1/3 cup organic coconut oil
1 and ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Combine turmeric and water in a saucepan over a gentle heat for 7-10 minutes until a thick paste forms. Add more water if it is required.Add the coconut oil and black pepper at the end of cooking and whisk well until the oil is well combined. Store in glass jar or container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Golden paste can be added to nearly everything: soups, curries, stews, smoothies, salads, even hot chocolates! Although there is no exact dosage for human turmeric consumption, a good starting point is a ¼ teaspoon of golden paste 3 times a day. As turmeric doesn’t stay in the body any longer than 6-8 hours it’s better to have smaller doses regularly throughout the day rather than a large amount in one go.

Eating golden paste without food can taste a little bit… well, gross! So here are a couple of recipes that are both delicious and a great way of incorporating turmeric into your diet.

Golden Milk

Golden milk is a traditional Ayurvedic drink used in India as a healing remedy. It’s warming and creamy consistency makes for a great alternative to tea or coffee, or try adding a tablespoon of organic cacao powder to the recipe to make a delicious and medicinal hot chocolate!

½ teaspoon golden paste
1-2 cups almond, coconut OR whole cow milk
pinch cinnamon
honey to taste

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over a gentle heat, whisking until the paste is incorporated and the milk is hot (but not boiling.) Serve with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon over the top.

Turmeric Lassi

This Immune Boosting Turmeric Lassi recipe is adapted from the Green Kitchen Stories recipe archives, and is one of the most delicious smoothies you will ever drink (try it and see!)

2 bananas
2 cups organic yoghurt (alternatively, 1 cup yoghurt and 1 cup almond milk)
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon golden paste
juice of ½ lemon
vanilla protein powder (alternatively, ½ teaspoon organic vanilla extract)
5 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

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