As I prepare for the unlikely adventure of living an Ayurvedic lifestyle for one year at the Sivananda Yoga Retreat and Ashram in the Bahamas, guided by an Ayurveda expert and internationally known Herbalist, I am excited - nervous - open - fearful and a host of other emotions - bouncing in and out of my psyche and sometimes, seemingly there all at the same time!
Why is the adventure unlikely?
For a Midwestern American woman, with Eastern European roots - a Mom and proud new Grammy that has lived in the same state her entire life - it is a HUGE leap!
The longest I lived anywhere other than Illinois was as an exchange student in college. At 19 years of age, I lived for close to 6 months in England.
As a mainstream American, I’ve been raised with an abundance of fast, processed and convenience foods; have lived a fast paced, high stress work life; have experienced the trauma of divorce; have been a yo-yo dieter since my teen years; and generally have lived the work hard and play equally hard lifestyle most of my adult life.
I’ve loved eating ice cream and candy and pizza and chill cheese fries, nachos, plenty of meat and seafood, and wine, margaritas, and chocolate martinis. My daily eating habits included skipping meals regularly and eating all the day’s calories in one meal.
Typically, my lifestyle has been staying up late, struggling to fall asleep and very fitful/poor sleep, waking tired and requiring coffee to get me moving each and every day for the past 4 decades of life.
It’s also an unlikely choice as my current life, living in Chicago for the past few years has been a lifestyle I’ve enjoyed immensely.
I live in a beautiful apartment, have family in the suburbs of Chicago and have great friends in the area. I’m plugged into an amazing yoga community at Tejas Yoga and great organizations like Landmark, Rotary One Cosmopolitan, the United Nations Association and Seagull Institute to name a few.
I am not escaping anything.
In fact, my leap feels like I felt as a young girl, all smiles inside and heart completely open to whatever this new journey brings my way.
Any of my fears and nervousness have to do with being able to juggle all the balls of a move out of the country - lots of loose ends to deal with and many logistics with current housing situation and my belongings and selling furniture and address changes etc.
The actual leaping to Sivananda Yoga Retreat and Ashram and a year of living Ayurvedically - my heart is wide open and joyous about the discoveries that lie ahead.
What is living an Ayurvedic lifestyle?
For me, it all began about a year ago, in a workshop that James Tennant led at the Tejas Yoga Studio. I had never heard the word Ayurveda before this workshop. I was intrigued and still am intrigued. He started by defining Ayurveda, and since I am a beginner in the study of Ayurveda, I will share what the experts say.
Ayurveda means the ‘Science of Life’. (Ayur=life, Veda=science or knowledge) It is the traditional medicine of India and the oldest system of Health Care in the world. Ayurveda is concerned with both preventative and curative medicine. According to the College of Ayurveda in California, it is at least a 5,000 year old system of Natural Healing, and perhaps as long as 10,000 years. During India’s time of foreign occupation, Ayurveda was suppressed.
According to Deepak Chopra and the Chopra Center for Health, more recently, both in native India and throughout the world, Ayurveda has been enjoying a major resurgence. Tibetan medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine have their roots in Ayurveda. Also early Greek medicine embraced many concepts originally described in the classical Ayurvedic medical texts dating back thousands of years.
Ayurveda is one of the most advanced herbal sciences in the world and a system that provides guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet, behavior and the proper use of our senses. Everything from types of food, colors, aromas, sounds, meditation and even touch will create a state of balance and harmony in the body and mind.
Something I personally like about Ayurveda is the focus on the individual, noting that each person is unique, with a unique path for optimal health. It is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution, nor is it a ‘take a pill - quick fix’ lifestyle.
The ‘one pill’ for all headaches or ‘take this drug’ for depression - the Western medicine approach specifies the treatment based on the specific ailment not based on the specific individual. Drug makers create meds that are for the mass population.
In Ayurveda, nature creates the meds, as all naturally grown food has medicinal qualities. Any treatments that are prescribed, focus on bringing balance to an individual person.
In Ayurveda, when the body and mind are in harmony, normal physiology is restored and healing takes place. The goal of Ayurveda is a balance and integration between the environment, body, mind and spirit.
As the Ayurveda experts at the conference I attended in January noted, if you get into an accident or break your arm, Western medicine and surgical procedures are absolutely the way to go.
For the healing process, once you’ve been stitched up, an Ayurvedic approach to restoring balance and harmony in the body, mind and spirit will be the most powerful aid to healing.
In the next few blogs, I will provide more background about Ayurveda and the fundamental energies that are known in Sanskrit as Vata (wind), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (earth). Understanding these three primary forces of nature is at the core of Ayurveda. I'll also share some amazing personal experiences from gradually incorporating some of the Ayurvedic lifestyle changes in my own life. Stay Tuned!
I am excited to find out What is Possible? for me, as this “guinea pig” for the year long study of Ayurvedic living.
I am honored and blessed to be guided by internationally recognized KP Khalsa, who is one of the foremost natural healing experts in North America.
I am also blessed to be doing this study at the beautiful Sivananda Yoga Retreat and Ashram in the Bahamas. The supportive environment will provide an ideal, controlled setting to discover What is Possible?
Banyan Botanicals, the industry leader in certified organic Ayurvedic herbs, offering the largest selection available has agreed to provide herbs and supplements that are prescribed by KP Khalsa, to start me off on my journey.
I am very grateful for the support of KP Khalsa, Sivananda Yoga Retreat and Banyan Botanicals.
My entire year will be devoted to this study and to training to become an Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher.
I will continue with writing weekly blogs, in the form of updates.
I hope that you will want to follow the journey. I am so excited for the adventure to begin!
I encourage you to leave a comment below or post one on my BestYOU facebook page.
Sharing your thoughts is a gift to all of us!
If you know someone who may like to sign up for my blog posts, please share this link with them. Thanks!