The last two blogs have focused on the Ayurveda doshas or energetic forces in the body called Vata (air/ether) and Pitta(fire/water) and tips to rebalance our current state in order to reset the balance of doshas to what they were at birth (Constitution). This week the focus will be on Kapha (earth/water) and tips to rebalance this expression in the body, mind and emotions.
Since we all have varying degrees of each of these doshas - Vata, Pitta and Kapha - there are times where we will find ourselves out of balance in one, two or all three of the doshas. The clues for an imbalance in Kapha is lethargy, heaviness, slowness and lack of motivation.
Last week I provided the link below to learn your constitution and current state according to Ayurveda. In case you haven't checked it out yet, here it is again.
Dr Claudia Welch and Banyan Botanicals have developed this fun and easy online tool for us to determine quite accurately our constitution and current imbalances. Of course being brutally honest in taking the quiz is important.
Ayurvedic Profile™ quiz. Take the quiz and Banyan sends personalized recommendations!
To return to balance for Kapha, we need to counter kapha’s heavy, slow, cool, oily, smooth, and sticky qualities. Like increases like and opposite helps to balance. Kapha is balanced with foods, herbs, and experiences that are light, sharp, hot, dry, rough, and clarifying. A simple guide for when kapha is aggravated - keep warm and dry, avoid daytime napping, and increase your activities. Though you may feel like sleeping and being a couch potato, allowing your body to do so will not energize you but will take you deeper into imbalance and you'll feel more sluggish, tired and uninspired with life.
TIPS TO PACIFY AND BALANCE KAPHA:
Loving Life and Living Love,
My recent blog on balancing Vata noted that most people in our fast paced world have Vata imbalances, according to the science of Ayurveda. Keeping the movement and flow of energy balanced in our lives was the focus.
This week’s blog will focus on balancing Pitta - the combination of fire and water as expressed in the mind and body.
My general constitution, according to Ayurveda, since the time of my conception, is predominantly expressed as Pitta. Vata (air/movement) and Kapha (structure/earth) are expressed in me to a lesser degree. I tend to have Vata and Pitta imbalances.
Pitta qualities are sharp, penetrating, hot, liquid, fleshy smelling, mobile, and oily. Pitta is the energetic quality of transformation and digestion - not only digestion of food, but also digestion of information, sounds, sights such as movies, television, daily incidents, nature and anything else that can be ingested through the sense organs.
Like increases Like is a fundamental principle of Ayurveda, and anything with qualities of hot, liquid, mobile, sharp, oily and penetrating will increase pitta. Strong triggers of pitta are the summer season (especially if you live in areas that are particularly hot) - I’m currently in the beautiful, hot and humid Bahamas.
As I'm in an ashram, the following triggers are easy for me to avoid, such as eating spicy, sour, or salty foods; eating extremely hot foods or processed foods; caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants; red meat; and alcohol more than the occasional beer or wine. These may not be as easy for you to avoid in our western culture.
Stress, anger, competition, jealousy and feeling misunderstood are also triggers. Pitta can be a driving force—often to the point of doing too much and pushing too hard. In the extreme, Pitta is the quintessential workaholic who burns the candles at both ends!
Luckily I’m not as often extreme since I’ve been at the ashram, but I definitely still have my pitta provoked reactions. The recent heat and humidity, plus the stresses of self imposed work deadlines and perfectionism have provoked my pitta and unfortunately imbalances yield mental stress, pain and often physical struggle.
The heat associated with Pitta creates fluidity, irritability, and dilation of blood vessels. These are some typical symptoms of imbalances in Pitta:
Ayurveda’s approach to bringing balance is simple. Pitta-pacifying suggestions will have a positive impact that will cause a ripple effect throughout your body and mind.
TIPS FOR BALANCING PITTA:
Cooling, soothing, and moderation. Pitta sometimes wants to do it all, and do it perfectly. That is not the goal in this case.
Dr Claudia Welch and Banyan Botanicals have developed this fun and easy online tool for us to determine quite accurately our constitution and current imbalances. Of course being brutally honest in taking the quiz is important.
Ayurvedic Profile™ quiz. Take the quiz and Banyan sends personalized recommendations!
Our lives change quite regularly, so it’s a good idea to take the Imbalances test every month or so. There are also other good articles on Pitta on the Banyan website if you would like to learn more.
Loving Life and Living Love,
Since I began studying and following Ayurveda, the ancient Eastern approach to a healthy life, I've been learning to navigate my imbalances - Vata in particular. This posting will help to shed some light on ways to counteract those imbalances. Balancing Pitta and Kapha will be future blog postings.
A few definitions to start - Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word meaning science or knowledge of life. The three doshas or energy forces in nature (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) are made up of the five elements ether, air, fire, water and earth.
Vata (ether/air, wind, movement), Pitta (fire/water, transformation, digestion) and Kapha (earth/water, structure, stability) are the three doshas. We are each made up of all three doshas in differing degrees and amounts. Our physical and mental characteristics are reflective of our doshas from birth, called our constitution, and our current state, including imbalances.
I'm generally following a vata-pacifying lifestyle. This is a path of balancing vata with my habits, routines, and daily practices. In Ayurveda, adaptation of my lifestyle and being mindful of how I'm living from day to day—even in relatively simple or subtle ways—can help me return to or maintain balance.
Vata is an energetic force that is highly mobile and active, so when it is elevated, I'm usually over-committed, stressed-out, and sometimes exhausted. A sense of routine is potent medicine for balancing vata because it creates a number of anchor points throughout the day that serve to ground my energy, calm the nervous system, and disrupt the self-perpetuating cycles of stress and busy-ness that can overtake me even in the peaceful ashram setting of the Bahamas.
Every substance and experience I encounter has the potential to influence my health. Hence, there truly are an infinite number of ways to support my path toward balance.
Below are some tips that will give you the basic tools necessary to begin to adapt your lifestyle in favor of calming vata, if you should need it, like I often do.
Understanding which types of influences are most supportive is helpful.
Vata is soothed by experiences that are:
In general, it’s important to slow down, ground, and create a sense of routine and stability. Making time for rest, sweetness, deep nourishment, and meaning will be potent medicine in and of itself. Pacing yourself throughout your day, and experimenting with creating space and acceptance for self-care helps to release any attachment to spontaneity just long enough to experience the benefit of having a sense of routine in your life.
Another key balancer - each time you are presented with a new opportunity, be willing to pause and consider the real impact that saying 'yes' may have on you.
This is really needed and a difficult one for me. I tend to say 'yes' quickly and
far more often than I should.
Environmentally, it is best to insulate yourself from intensely cold or windy weather. Cooked, nourishing foods are Vata-pacifying as well.
Keep in mind that just one or two intentional shifts can have a dramatic impact, and that it is important not to over-extend yourself. This is a perfect opportunity to embrace going slow, being intentional, and remaining open to the possibility that less may truly be more. What’s important is to follow consistently, and to keep things as simple as possible.
Ayurveda advocates for daily routines. An appropriate daily routine is one of the single most powerful Ayurvedic tools for improving overall health and well-being. This holds true even when we're in near perfect health.
To be a real game changer, consistency is highly important. No fanaticism is needed, but creating predictability as an anchor to the nervous system that creates a feeling of normalcy, security and safety is key.
Your routine might be as simple as waking and going to bed at the same times each day, or it might be more elaborate. Elaborate or simple, it should only include elements that you can successfully engage with on a regular basis.
Consistent practices might include sleep and wake times, meal times, and work schedules. You might also want to consider consciously committing to more rest than you might think you need. Sleep deprivation often accompanies Vata imbalances.
Yoga asana (postures) practice, Pranayama (breathing exercises), Moderate exercise and Awareness will all benefit and can be Vata-pacifying. Not overdoing, and intentionally creating a sense of warmth, grounding, serenity and nourishment in your practices is the overall approach to take. Being careful to not get chilled, allowing movements to be slow, steady and graceful, and embracing fluidity in movements for joints and the spine that are grounding and stabilizing - nourishing and strength building, rather than depleting of energy.
Avoid exercising between 2–6 a.m. and 2-6 p.m., when a natural lightness, clarity, and transitional energy in the atmosphere can be especially vata-provoking. 6-10 a.m. would be an ideal time to exercise. To work on this imbalance, exercise is generally best done at about 50% of capacity, and exercising outdoors can be nourishing and effective. Allow time to rest and recover.
Alternate Nostril Breathing, Bhramari or Humming Bee Breath are two impactful pranayama practices that soothe and pacify the mind and nervous system. These practices also help to support sound sleep and can dramatically improve our state of mind and overall well being.
An overall awareness practice helps us to develop an attitude toward life that fosters and nurtures well being and balance. Intentionally filling our days with supportive experiences and limiting those experiences that are not, will lead to powerful healing.
Bringing qualities of nurturing, soothing, calm into our daily lives through our foods, yoga, pranayama and exercise practices will be the most effective to encourage a return to balance.
Peace and Love to each of you,
Thank you to Padmavati Carine Alda for this inspiring Promise. May each of us practice this way of living life. What a wonderful world we would experience each day!
Peace and Love to each of you
Gratitude to Pulkit Sharma for his interesting article in the May 11, Times of India. Below are excerpts from his article.
Psychologists feel that what differentiates human beings from all other species is a strong, cohesive and complex sense of self that we derive from our lifelong narrative of experiences. We always want this self to appear marvelous, flawless, enviable and everlasting to us and to the world. Most people feel that this can be achieved by being admired, loved and valued unconditionally throughout their lives and even after they are gone. Therefore, they toil hard and put everything at stake to keep their grand narrative alive.
Although this sense of self encourages us in making our mark and therefore, can be seen as something that adds meaning to our life, it often turns out to be an albatross around our neck. Preoccupation with our self brings up intense anxieties around losing what we have, being outperformed by others, making mistakes, feeling vulnerable and devalued, and slipping into oblivion. Even when we do something good, the excitement is short-lived; self-critical ruminations hit back rather quickly. In order to appear valuable and perfect to the world, we seem to be making a huge sacrifice – forgetting who we are, what we really want and what we could become. No wonder, an unexplained and incalculable suffering torments us.
Chinese sage Chaung Tsu narrates the story of a huge, old oak tree that was declared worthless by a carpenter because its timber was of bad quality and anything made from it would break, rot or wither away. Subsequently in the story, the tree told the carpenter that it had turned useless on purpose because it wished to live a natural and happy life. Had its timber been useful it would have been cut into pieces, made into something else and have long been dead. The sage enlightens us that in trying to be valued, desirable and significant in the eyes of the world, we usually end up relinquishing our deeper essence and live artificially. Despite assuming a grandiose form, our life is then fraught with meaninglessness and misery.
I found this story and article Interesting to ponder......may it also be of value to you.
Loving Life and Living Love,
I just completed certification training for being an Ayurveda Body Treatment therapist. I’m still a bit surprised by it all. I had no idea if I’d like massaging bodies with lots of oil. I also had no idea if I could be steady and calm enough to administer Shirodhara or Nasya.
The Ayurveda Body Treatment or Bliss Therapy, as we call it at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas, is a combined Abhyanga and Shirodhara treatment.
Abhyanga - A blend of organic base oils and essential oils are applied to the client’s head and body using light friction and gentle pressure with specifically designed strokes. The warm oil massage stimulates, clears, and balances the energy patterns of the body and mind. The treatment stimulates lymph and blood circulation, supports hormonal balance, strengthens and helps detox all the tissues of the body, and supports the immune system. It feels so relaxing and wonderful!
Shirodhara - An application of a continuous slow stream of customized, warm organic oil poured on the forehead and scalp. Shirodhara simultaneously has a slowing and balancing effect, while stimulating the endocrine system’s pituitary and pineal glands, enhancing blood circulation to the brain and helping to release deeply trapped toxins. This treatment calms the mind, which allows for deep relaxation and improved sleep. Tension and discomfort in the head, neck and shoulders are alleviated. Headaches, anxiety, nervousness and other stress-related symptoms can be relieved.
The treatment is a form of healing that has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda. The use of oils to lubricate muscles, joints, skin, bones and balance the body’s systems is a proven technology that aids in nourishing and supporting a healthy body, mind and spirit.
I also learned to administer Nasya combined with the Abhyanga massage treatment.
Nasya - This treatment uses specially formulated organic oils and mild heat of the face and nasal passages. Herbal oil drops are applied into the nose, which Ayurveda deems the doorway to the brain and mind. Energy points (Marma or acupressure points) are stimulated and lymph is encouraged to flow. Nasya clears obstructions in the sinuses, relieves tension, pacifies nerves and clarifies mental processes. It can also alleviate insomnia, sinus conditions and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
I feel grateful to have experienced the training and blessed to be able to administer such peaceful states to those I’ve given treatments. It is a very meditative practice to give the Ayurveda Body Treatment and has a transformative effect on the recipient and the therapist. The love and energy transmitted to the recipient comes from a deep source, as God’s grace flows through my hands and being.
My classmates and the teachers were a fabulous group of women that I feel honored to have met and learned from. It was a powerful and empowering experience!
My life keeps flowing in such an expansive way - learning and staying open to whatever life presents. God continues to bless me and guide the way.
Loving Life and Living Love,
Thank you to Janet Shivani Chase, writer for this article below, from Banyan Botanicals newsletter. It's a favorite topic for so many - chocolate - yogis love chocolate too, and it is a sweet pleasure with some interesting benefits - in small quantities. Enjoy!
An Ayurvedic Perspective
Theobroma cacao, the food of the gods, has been used as food, medicine, and even currency for thousands of years.1 In its pure form, raw cacao is an amazing source of antioxidants, protecting us from free radicals, helping to keep us vibrant and healthy.2 Antioxidants may act to counteract the effects of exposure to stress, pollution, chemicals, and other unhealthy stuff. Cacao is a wonderful source of magnesium (which many of us are deficient in) and one of the highest plant-based food sources of iron. It contains chemical compounds that increase our ability to focus and improves our memory, and it contains anandamide, the “bliss molecule,” which helps us to feel good, longer. It also contains phenylethylamine, “the love molecule,” which raise the level of endorphins in our brain, very similar to the chemical changes that make us feel on top of the world when we are falling in love.3
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.”
— Charles M. Schulz
But that doesn’t mean we should all rush down to the local grocery and stock up on chocolate bars. Unfortunately, the typical chocolate bar or commercial hot cocoa mix has been highly processed, heated, alkalized, and contains sugars, preservatives, artificial flavors, and other undesirable additives. Usually, white sugar or corn syrup are the main ingredient, and both have a bad rap for very good reasons. Comparing organic raw cacao and most commercial chocolate is like comparing a perfectly ripe, fresh, organic, wild blueberry with the synthetic chemical blueberry flavoring in a jelly bean. The processing and the toxic additives are not digestible and are lacking in prana, aggravate all three doshas, builds ama, and contributes to disease. But don’t despair. With a little education, you can learn how to use this wonderful food to your benefit.
How to Choose the Best Chocolate for Health and Healing
Ayurveda teaches us to pay attention to the qualities of the food we eat, that anything can be medicine or a poison depending on how it is used or who is using it.
When I talk about pure chocolate, I am referring to raw cacao. Raw cacao has a very bitter taste (rasa), a pungent aftertaste (vipaka), is light and dry, and has a heating energy (virya). It is rajasic as it stimulates the mind and can be difficult to digest.
So, is it good for you?
It depends on many things.
Are you in balance and do you have a strong digestion?
Do you have a dominance of vata, pitta, or kapha or an imbalance of one, two, or all three?
(If you are new to Ayurveda, you can find out more about how this relates to you by taking this Ayurvedic Profile™ quiz.)
If you are balanced and happily healthy, think of chocolate as a spice. A little goes a long way. If you are out of balance, it is advisable not to consume chocolate or even raw cacao powder very often. If you are craving chocolate, try to discern if you are you craving the bitter taste or the sweet taste. The sweet taste associated with chocolate is not the cacao, but the added sugars. You might consider eating something naturally sweet, like a date or piece of fruit, and if cravings are particularly strong or frequent, take Sweet Ease instead.
When I was taking my oral exam in Ayurveda school, my teacher asked me to describe the qualities of chocolate. I explained that the bitterness increased vata but would decrease kapha. However, as chocolate (raw cacao) is usually combined with sugar, it would increase kapha and decrease vata and pitta. And as it contains a little caffeine it would increase both pitta and vata. Chocolate is rajasic, or stimulating, which would increase vata and pitta and decrease kapha. He paused, smiled sweetly, and then explained the prabhava of chocolate was magical, so therefore could be enjoyed by all.
“Look, there’s no metaphysics on earth like chocolate.”
— Fernando Pessoa
Chocolate And The Doshas
In balance, kapha can benefit the most from cacao. The bitter and heating qualities are the opposite to kapha’s heavy and cool qualities. But this doesn’t mean that kaphas can run out and buy a boatload of chocolate. Someone who is balanced can consume small quantities, like a square of very dark chocolate once or twice a week.
If you are pitta, the heating and stimulating qualities of cacao can throw more heat on the fire. Caffeine increases the heat of pitta, which may contribute to pitta imbalances like heartburn, acne, and irritability.
And for those with more vata, well, sadly, chocolate is the least beneficial, as the light and dry aspects of cacao match the light and dryness of vata. And the caffeine in cacao will contribute to nervousness and anxiety. If you are vata and choose to eat chocolate, be sure to eat some with natural sweeteners in it. The heaviness of the sweetness will help balance the lightness of the cacao. Again, take it in very small amounts.
How to Choose Chocolate
For the greatest health benefits, buy chocolate that is certified as fair-trade and organic. Non-organic chocolate is heavily treated with toxic pesticides and fungicides which are big no-no’s for vibrant health. Seek out fair-trade, which ensures that farmers are paid a fair and stable price for their labors, and sustainably sourced ensures that both farmers and land have been treated with respect.
The most medicinal chocolate will be organic, raw, unprocessed cacao nibs. These are very powerful and very bitter. However, this is not always preferable for everyone. If you do not like the idea of chewing on a little bit of raw cacao nibs, look for chocolate that is above 70 percent concentration of dark chocolate. The higher the concentration, the more bitter, and the more nutritional value and healing effects it will have. But because of the bitterness of raw cacao or intense dark chocolate, consuming it with a meal and all its tastes will be more balancing. Remember that chocolate is a stimulant, and best eaten in moderation. Pay attention to how it makes you feel and that will help you decide when and if to eat it.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
How to Make Your Own Special Chocolate
By making your own chocolate, you have more control of the quality and can choose what to add to it to make it more balancing for you.
Over very low heat, or in a double boiler, melt the coconut oil and then stir in the sweetener and milk until combined. Whisk in the cacao powder until smooth.
You can stir in a small amount of the ingredients listed below to help balance the qualities of cacao for each dosha. The mixture should be thick enough that you can form it into a ball. Roll the balls either in more cacao powder, unsweetened shredded coconut, or sesame seeds. Store in the refrigerator.
Best Stir-Ins for Each Dosha:
Vata would benefit from adding a bit of shredded coconut, chopped almonds, sesame seeds, grated orange peel, cardamom powder, or mineral salt. The best sweeteners would be honey, molasses, or barley malt.
Pitta may want to add shredded coconut, sunflower seeds, chopped dates, mint, or vanilla extract, and use maple syrup, date sugar, or stevia as the sweetener.
Kapha could add chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, ginger, cinnamon, clove, or nutmeg. Honey or stevia is the best sweetener.
Enjoy your chocolate in sacred little bites. Focus on its healing benefits and give it your full attention when imbibing. Let it be another part of the bitter-sweetness of life.
Loving Life and Living Love,
This article resonated with me so much that I had to share it. Striving for perfection is a state I know well, and I've talked about it in a number of my prior blogs and also in my recently published book What's Possible?
While there are links to Banyan Botanical products in this article, the products highlighted are pretty standard Ayurvedic offerings. Consulting with an Ayurveda Practitioner is the way to know if any of the products will be of benefit from you. I am not suggesting the products, but I do endorse Banyan as a high quality company, providing high quality products. I hope you enjoy this article and gain insight for consideration.
The Myth of Perfect Ayurveda
By Melody Mischke - freelance writer for Banyan Botanicals
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a recovering perfectionist. And quite honestly, my dedication to excellence served me well for a lot of years. But more recently, I have come to realize the degree to which it has also stood in my way. Interestingly, my relationship with Ayurveda tells the story of a dramatic shift in consciousness that, on the surface, may look like I’ve become a giant slacker. But deep down, I think it reflects something quite beautiful taking shape in my life.
I was first introduced to Ayurveda when I was in my early twenties while traveling in India and studying meditation and yoga. I was completely captivated. My father was a highly respected surgeon in the United States, so I had grown up feeling rather familiar with the world of Western medicine. But here was a tradition that celebrated each individual’s uniqueness, that didn’t recommend the same treatment for everyone with the same symptomology, that operated from the perspective that we could prioritize supporting and maintaining optimal health as opposed to reacting to and treating disease.
Even more strikingly, Ayurveda seemed to really honor the natural rhythms of nature and the cycles of life, which resonated with me deeply. I wanted to know more. While in India, I devoured Deepak Chopra’s book, Perfect Health, and when I returned to the US, I found an Ayurvedic practitioner and dove headlong into my first experience with panchakarma.
A number of years later, and somewhat to my own astonishment, it occurred to me that I could study and practice the art and science of Ayurveda myself. So I enrolled in an immersive program to become an Ayurvedic practitioner.
The Stumbling Block
As my knowledge of Ayurveda deepened, I began to orient myself around an ideal of optimal health (or perfect balance), against which I measured everything else. As a result, I became highly adept at identifying the imbalances, the flaws, the things that weren’t working well—both within my own body-mind ecology, and in that of my clients.
The lens through which I viewed the world became somewhat myopic; find the “problem,” and then identify the most efficient and effective way to “fix it.”
Truthfully, I had always operated this way, but now, as an Ayurvedic practitioner, I really embraced seeing things in black-and-white terms: good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, healthy vs. diseased, balanced vs. imbalanced. (This is a very pitta thing to do, by the way.) I dwelled in a rather harsh and unforgiving reality, and yet I was largely unaware of this at the time.
Enter Parenthood: The Great Magnifier
Partway through my Ayurvedic training, I learned that I was pregnant. This, of course, motivated me to try even harder to do everything as perfectly as I possibly could. And when my son was born in the fall of 2009, I found myself striving—really efforting—to follow everything I had learned about Ayurveda meticulously well. In an attempt to care for both my system and my baby’s, I wanted to do everything the right way.
Now, let me be clear. There was nothing inherently wrong with my desire to tend to my son’s health in this way, nor my own (the two were intimately intertwined, after all). But I was so attached to achieving a perfect outcome that I was actually creating a lot of additional stress. I was so hyperfocused on the ideal, and on all of the places where I was falling short of it, that there was very little space to celebrate any of the things that I was doing well (and there were quite a lot of them).
Not surprisingly, a number of imbalances were beginning to show up in my system. My digestion suffered. My mind was less clear. And somehow, I felt less capable as a human being. I had begun to have mysterious aches and pains that seemed to have no identifiable cause.
It seems rather obvious to me now that the root cause of all of my symptoms likely had a lot to do with the level of tension that I was holding in my body (concerned that I might not be doing it all flawlessly) and the sheer strain of trying to hold it all together, while I worshiped a rather ridiculous notion of how things should be. In truth, I had been living this way for my entire life, so the effects were cumulative. Becoming a parent had simply amplified things enough that I had started to feel the effects.
Looking back on this time in my life, I have so much compassion for myself. It’s the most natural thing in the world to want to give our children the best foot forward in life, to want to set them up for success. And who doesn’t want to preserve their own health as much as possible? It’s how we hold our intentions that matters—that can quite literally be the difference between taking small, appropriate steps in a positive direction and suffering relentless self-judgment (or even shame) for all the ways that we might be “failing.”
Perfectionism Is a Double-Edged Sword
These are patterns I see quite often in my work as a Women’s Empowerment Coach. All of my clients have a strong sense of purpose and a burning desire to be of service in the world. They tend to hold themselves to incredibly high standards—in every aspect of their lives. Many of them are also juggling (and trying to balance) their work life with their commitment to their families. And honestly, for most of these women, their pursuit of excellence has been an incredible strength.
The gift in being a perfectionist is that it usually comes with a profound capacity to sense what’s possible, to connect with a vision for the highest potential outcome in any situation—and often, to sense viscerally when things are even slightly misaligned. But when that vision becomes the defining expectation for where we should be now—the level of health we should be experiencing, how successful our businesses should be, how our marriages should feel, how our children should perform at school or in a sport—then the gift becomes an obstacle.
In truth, pursuing the “right” way or the “perfect” outcome tends to rob us of the experience that anything is good enough, instead setting us up to feel perpetually dissatisfied.
Ultimately, our attachment to living the ideal leaves us feeling like we’re failing. All. The. Time.
This was my experience for many, many years. I was constantly falling short of my own expectations, and it cost me greatly. I truly came to focus on my flaws, and on every flaw around me. I became fixated on mending everything that was broken—both within and outside of myself. In the process, I completely failed to see the many gifts that I had always possessed, the skills and capacities that I had cultivated along the way, and the countless blessings in my life.
Taming the Perfectionist Within
What follows are some useful suggestions to help calm your inner perfectionist.
Ayurveda is such a beautiful art and science. When I discovered it, I could sense the truth in it, and when I sense truth, I tend to embrace it somewhat emphatically. Unfortunately, overzealousness tends to go hand in hand with all-or-nothing, black-and-white ways of thinking.
After all, if there is a right way to do everything, then there must also be a wrong way.
For decades, this way of thinking caused me to judge every single misstep harshly. But the path to optimal health has nothing to do with how proficiently we judge our individual choices; it has everything to do with the collective impact of many choices over time. The journey is really about taking one, single—and often small—step at a time, while allowing ourselves the space to slip up on occasion.
In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu said: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The trouble is, we tend to forget that there’s a second, a third, and a thousandth step, too—that, in fact, we have to take each and every step on the path. Once our initial excitement has waned, most of us expect to skip over the vast majority of the journey and somehow magically arrive at our destination.
I believe that Ayurveda serves us best when we are willing to progress slowly and steadily, taking the time to develop and embody competency at each stage. We must ask ourselves how Ayurveda can support us in improving our health rather than achieving perfection. Then, with each improvement, we were poised and eager to take another step, and then another, and another.
For me, what began as a complex list of dos and don’ts, how-tos, shoulds, and how-NOT-tos (rules for every occasion) has become something quite different.
I am guided now by a profound curiosity and a willingness to notice. I notice how my desires change as the seasons wax and wane. I notice how the expansive and somewhat frenetic nature of summer impacts my mind and body. I notice how I can feel my entire nervous system dialing down as I walk through the woods after the first snowfall in the autumn. I notice how I want different foods in the spring and summer months than I do in the fall and winter. I notice how my body speaks to me in subtle ways every single day.
I no longer live by a strict set of rules. Instead, I’ve learned to tend to the qualitative shifts in my inner landscape, in my environment, in my relationships, and in the world at large—as they come, and as I’m able.
Perhaps most importantly, I’ve chosen to be more gentle with myself when my choices aren’t perfect. I’ve tried to embrace and celebrate my humanness, trusting that when my routines are a little (or a lot) out of sync with the ideal, that I’m meeting a very real and human need and that I can take pleasure in the experience—not because the ideal isn’t worthy of guiding me, but because I’m human and I know that being human is sometimes messy.
I don’t do everything perfectly. Far from it. And I can still be very harsh with myself when I seem to be making choices that dishonor my body’s natural intelligence. But I have lowered my expectations of myself tremendously.
In fact, I often ask myself, “How much would be enough in this situation?” or, “What’s the bare minimum result that I would be satisfied with?”
In many ways, I am a giant slacker when compared to the perfectionist I once was. In fact, she would struggle to understand what exactly there is to celebrate about lower expectations. But it’s been amazingly freeing. I am so much more relaxed, more content; I’m happier.
I am very much still on a healing journey, but I can feel the degree to which my stress level has quieted. My mind is softer, and I no longer see things in such black-and-white terms (at least not as often). The most incredible thing is that this shift in orientation has allowed me to make real progress toward what I most want, in a much healthier, saner way.
Ayurveda teaches us that everything is medicine, and everything is poison; it’s the context that tells us which. If this is true, then there is no “perfect” or “right” way to do anything.
If I could offer one simple reframe to the eager student of Ayurveda that I was ten years ago, it would be this:
RELAX! The pursuit of perfect health is about taking one, small, manageable step toward your ideal at a time.
Let go of having to get it all right. Eating an improper food combination or doing something that will aggravate a dosha isn’t evidence that your dedication to health is subpar.
What if Ayurveda is simply a map — a map to help us navigate the very unique and personal terrain of learning to be our best? Having a map doesn’t guarantee that we won’t take a wrong turn or feel disoriented at times—especially if we are exploring new territory. But the map is always there, as a reference point and a guide, as a friend and an ally. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a “perfect” Ayurvedic lifestyle. There is only the exploration. And there is only your way of being in it.
Quite frankly, each small step we take toward a more aligned way of doing things is real progress and is worth celebrating. And one thing is certain: the journey will be far more health-promoting if you choose to celebrate your wins. So I suggest that you focus on what you’re doing well and honor every bit of progress you make. Here’s to the health, happiness, and joy that comes when we release ourselves from the pressure of having to do it all perfectly!
Loving Life and Living Love,
The New Year brings opportunity to investigate and learn about something new. Ayurveda has been a magnet for me the past 4 years, and I cannot get enough. I find the science fascinating, logical and so rich with easy and practical ways to approach life.
I read this article over the holidays, and it is so good that I am excited to share it with all of you. It is rather lengthy, but there is so much good information, that it is worth the time it takes to read it.
Thank you to Melody Mischke from Banyan Botanicals for the following information. I shortened the article a bit. You can also go to Banyan's website for the full article.
An Ayurvedic Guide to Stress Management
Is stress playing a bigger role in your life than you would like it to? For most of us, the answer to that question is a resounding YES! Stress is a fairly universal element of the modern human experience, and while some stress is appropriate, even productive, we now know that too much stress can be quite harmful, and can compromise our health physically, mentally, and emotionally. Ayurveda offers a beautiful perspective on stress management, but in order to better understand it, we will first explore the potential consequences of excess stress and establish a contextual understanding of the human stress response.
The Consequences of Excess Stress
When we are suffering excess stress, many systems in the body can be negatively affected: the digestive system and metabolic function (including imbalances in body weight), the cardiovascular system, the musculoskeletal system, the nervous system, the reproductive system, and the immune system.1 Excess stress can also impact our mental and emotional states, our relationships, as well as the health of our bones2 (and related tissues such as the teeth, hair, and nails). Stress tends to wear us down on a systemic level, so even though it is a contributing factor in a variety of ailments, its influence is easily overlooked. The bottom line is that, if you know that you’re stressed (even occasionally), there is a good chance that making some supportive adjustments could benefit you immensely.
The Mechanics of Stress
The human stress response is an evolutionary adaptation that has helped humans cope with moments of crisis through the ages. It occurs in response to danger in any form—whether a natural disaster, war, devastating emotional loss, or an encounter with a powerful predator. In the face of a perceived threat, the sympathetic nervous system floods the body with stress hormones (cortisol being the primary player), and initiates a complex cascade of events known as the “fight-or-flight response.” Hormones can travel anywhere in the body, so the effects of cortisol are felt virtually everywhere in the body.
Cortisol reallocates the body’s resources; it makes more energy available to the brain and large muscle groups in order to accelerate speed and response times, but it simultaneously decreases urine production, inhibits inflammation, slows the digestive capacity, and stifles the immune response.5 These physiological changes are meant to support us in navigating (and hopefully surviving) the crisis at hand. Truth be told, the system serves us beautifully, as long as the crisis is followed by a period of rest, recovery, and recuperation, which has generally been the case throughout evolutionary history.
Evolutionary Biology Meets Modern Life
But the circumstances of our lives have changed rapidly in a very short period of time (speaking in evolutionary terms). Our stressors have transformed and multiplied; they are everywhere, every day: a hectic morning, power struggles with willful children, traffic on the way to work, encounters with road rage, an irate boss, time-sensitive deadlines, long hours, bills piling up, challenging interpersonal dynamics, and countless others. It’s important to note that stress hormones cannot be turned off; long after a stressful event is over, the stress hormones released still linger in our systems.6 Chronic stress therefore tends to keep our tissues bathed in stress hormones almost continuously, which makes us hyper-vigilant, and ever more likely to trigger the fight-or-flight response again—even when faced with rather minor stressors.7 This can quickly become a viciously self-reinforcing cycle. At the same time, many of us are both more “networked” (think social media) and lonelier than we’ve ever been before. So all of this is happening as our core sense of community is changing, which has the potential to further sensitize the sympathetic nervous system.
Chronic stress puts our bodies in a very difficult situation. On the one hand, our physiology is at the mercy of an endless barrage of stressors, with very little chance to recover, reset, and regain balance in between. This puts our systems on high alert and actually makes us more susceptible to stress. On the other hand, our support systems are often very weak. To make matters worse, most of us view stress itself as a problem, which can intensify its harmful effects on our physiology (more on that later). For now, let’s try to understand the broader implications of our modern relationship with stress, according to Ayurveda.
Ayurveda on Stress
Ayurveda shines in its capacity to distill a host of complex maladies into an elegantly simple collection of qualitative patterns, which help to illuminate a clear path toward healing for each individual. The Ayurvedic approach to managing stress is a beautiful example of this.
One of Ayurveda’s foundational principles is that like increases like and that opposites balance. Ayurveda relies on twenty gunas (qualities)—organized into ten pairs of opposites—to describe various phenomena throughout the natural world. Identifying the qualities involved in a particular imbalance or disease helps to direct an appropriate treatment of opposites. When we distill the stress response down into its most essential characteristics, and begin to understand the qualities it activates in the body, we gain an intuitive grasp of how to use opposing forces to invite a return to balance.
According to the ancient texts of Ayurveda, one group of ten gunas is deemed to be building, nourishing, and anabolic in nature, while the other is reducing, lightening, and catabolic in nature. Here are the ten pairs of opposites, divided into these two camps:
Reducing, Lightening, Catabolic Gunas Building, Nourishing, Anabolic Gunas
It is important to understand that none of these qualities is inherently good or bad. Each of them supports the maintenance of equilibrium in its own way. Similarly, too much or too little of any one of them can be problematic.
The fight-or-flight response directs huge quantities of energy to the brain and the large muscle groups while shutting down non-essential activities (like digestion and the immune response)—rapidly consuming the body’s resources while inhibiting their ability to be replenished. Therefore, the stress response falls firmly into the reducing, lightening, catabolic category. It is intensely activating, energizing, strengthening, motivating, mobilizing, and accelerating. As a result, it activates the light, sharp, hot, dry, rough, mobile, subtle, and clear qualities in the body. In the short term, this can be very adaptive and beneficial, but if this depleting pattern goes on unchecked for any length of time, it will inevitably wear us down.
So how do we stop the cycle?
Obviously, if there are ways we can reduce the number of stressors we encounter each day, doing so is an essential starting place. But, there will always be stressors that we can’t control, and encouraging our nervous systems to respond to these situations in a healthier way is the key to reclaiming our health.
A Return to Balance: Five Steps to Renewal
If like increases like, opposites balance, and the stress response is unequivocally reducing, lightening, and catabolic in nature, then the antidote to excess stress is to offer our systems an abundance of the entire group of building, nourishing qualities—through our diets, our lifestyle, our practices, our relationships—basically, anywhere that we can get them. This means welcoming influences that are heavy, grounding, slow, unctuous, nourishing, soft, and stabilizing, while doing our best to minimize the influence of their opposites. At its core, the Ayurvedic approach to balancing excess stress is really that simple.
The key is to invite these qualities into our lives in a supportive way and to release accumulated stress and tension from the mind and tissues in order to help promote a more easeful relationship with life. Below are five simple steps to mitigating the effects of excess stress in your life.
1. Slow Down
One of the most important first steps in balancing stress is to slow down. However, when we’re accustomed to living a fast-paced, busy life, slowing down can feel utterly impossible. It is not. For many of us, though, this can be very challenging—and often frightening. For those of us who can muster the courage to begin to invite a slower, more balanced way of being into our daily routine—one gentle step at a time—the rewards are often felt quite immediately. Then, with time, the positive changes reinforce our intentions and can encourage us to slow down a bit more, and then a bit more, and later even more. But how to begin? That is truly the crux of the entire endeavor. One of the best ways to slow the pace of our lives is through devoted and purposeful self-care: taking time every single day to be still, quiet, and immersed in self-nourishment. It is so important, in fact, that it is the next step in returning to balance.
2. Indulge in Quality Self-Care
Purposeful and committed self-care can be a beautiful part of the healing process, and a meaningful opportunity to practice self-love. Each day, regardless of what else might be going on in our lives, a devoted practice of self-care reaffirms a deep commitment to Self, to wellness, and to vibrant health. Choosing to prioritize things like adequate rest and other nourishing practices can help us stay centered as we navigate the turbulence of the world around us.
In truth, there are countless ways to nurture and care for ourselves. Those that impart a sense of grounding, relaxation, warmth, unctuousness, and stability will be best for balancing excess stress, but it is important that you follow your intuition; you know yourself best. Below, we have outlined a number of different possibilities. The list is by no means all-inclusive, but it is meant to provide a number of choices to spark the interest of diverse individuals. Trust what most appeals to you. And remember, it is usually best to choose just one or two new practices to start with. You can always add more as and when you feel inspired to do so.
Take a Bath
A bath relaxes the nervous system, releases tension, and helps to quiet the mind. If you like, you can add ⅓ cup Ginger powder and ⅓ cup baking soda to the water for increased relaxation and healing. This combination encourages circulation, sweating, and detoxification, but it is also quite soothing, making it very supportive when stress is elevated. If your pitta is high, be mindful that the ginger and baking soda can increase internal heat and you may not want to stay in the bath as long. An Epsom salt bath can also be very relaxing and cleansing. Use hot water for kapha and vata, warm water for pitta.
Practice Oil Pulling
Swishing and gargling with warm, untoasted sesame oil or coconut oil helps to remove tension from the jaw, improves the sense of taste, and removes natural toxins from the mouth, teeth, and gums. Begin by sipping a tablespoon or two of Daily Swish, our specially-formulated oil-pulling blend, or use plain Organic Sesame Oil. Swish the oil from side to side, front to back, and through the teeth for up to twenty minutes. Spit out the oil and rinse with warm water. For more detailed instructions, see Banyan website on How to Do Oil Pulling.
Do Abhyanga (Ayurvedic Oil Massage)
This ancient practice of self-massage with oil calms the nervous system, lubricates and rejuvenates the tissues, and promotes healthy circulation throughout the body. It is no coincidence that the Sanskrit word for oil, sneha, also means love. Abhyanga is a profound practice of rejuvenation and loving self-care that benefits both the physical body and the more subtle realms of consciousness. In addition, the oil itself forms a protective sheath around the body that can help to buffer the nervous system against stress. Each morning, before a shower or bath, massage about ¼–½ cup warm organic oil into the skin. For further instructions on this rejuvenating technique, and for support choosing the best oil for your constitution and current state of balance, please see Banyan’s resource on Ayurvedic Self-Massage.
Nasya is the practice of applying medicated oil to the nasal passages. It soothes these delicate tissues, promotes unobstructed breathing, relieves accumulated stress, and supports mental clarity. Nasya should not be performed by pregnant or menstruating women. Each morning, apply three to five drops of Nasya Oil into each nostril. If you are new to the practice of nasya, Banyan has a helpful instructional video.
Massage Your Feet Before Bed
Before bed, apply some warm Sleep Easy Oil to your feet. I love the Sleep Easy Oil!
Or if you prefer, use plain Sesame Oil. This practice grounds the energy, soothes the nervous system, reduces stress, quiets the mind, and promotes sound sleep. Remember that sleep is one of the body’s most essential avenues of rejuvenation. The Banyan author suggests to wear some old socks to bed to protect your sheets. I just give the oil 10 or 15 minutes to soak into the skin. I don’t wear socks to bed.
Sit in Nature
Often, simply exposing our nervous systems to the natural world—to its sights, sounds, smells, textures, and rhythms—is enough to activate the “rest and digest” capacity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which governs periods of relaxation. Consider a gentle walk, sitting by a stream, taking in a gorgeous view, or simply surrendering your body to the surface of earth for a while (weather permitting). If the idea of taking time to connect with nature speaks to you, this practice is probably worth pursuing.
Read an Uplifting or Inspiring Book
A good, inspirational read can go a long way toward signaling the entire system to relax and rejuvenate a bit.
Lie on the Couch for a While
As a culture, we tend to expect productivity, and many of us experience tremendous guilt around being “unproductive.” But when we’re exhausted, stressed out, and tending toward hypervigilance, there is nothing more soothing than simply taking a good long break—maybe even an energizing afternoon nap.
Foster Supportive, Loving Relationships
Our systems often also find great refuge in a good laugh, a loving connection, a reassuring hug, a sympathetic ear, and other encouraging relational signs that we are, indeed, supported. If you have terrific friends, close family members, or beloved pets who can nurture you in this way, consider carving out some time for a meaningful connection with your tribe.
Get Balanced and Adequate Rest
Sleep is an important antidote to excess stress. It has considerable restorative functions and plays a critical role in the repair and rejuvenation of tissues (both in the brain and throughout the body), but it also allows for the more efficient removal of metabolic wastes and natural toxins. If sleep is an area that you struggle with—whether you get too much sleep or too little—Banyan has a Guide to Balanced Sleep that is especially supportive. Otherwise, try to go to bed and get up at about the same times each day, and aim to sleep for at least eight hours each night. When we’re recovering from excess stress, our bodies often need significantly more rest. In other words, at least for a while, it might be completely appropriate to indulge in more than eight hours of sleep each night.
3. Commit to a Daily Routine
Ayurveda recommends a daily routine for everyone, but it is particularly essential when we are trying to balance excess stress. Our physiology is very much adapted to—and supported by—some sense of regularity. Actually, it is amazing how impactful a few adjustments to our routines can be. Think about the natural world and how prevalent routines are; most plants and animals are profoundly attuned to the cycles of day and night, the seasons, and other patterns that direct the broader community of life. By contrast, the human experience seems increasingly disconnected from these natural rhythms. Adopting even a modest sense of routine gives our nervous systems a number of comforting and reassuring reference points throughout each day. These touchstones send a resounding message to the deep tissues of the body that all is well, that we can be at ease. Over time, a context of predictability and safety allows the nervous system to relax, and a profound rejuvenation process can begin.
There are some very simple first steps to establishing a daily routine—things like waking, eating meals, going to bed at about the same times each day, and if possible, maintaining a consistent work or activity schedule. These steps alone can have a profound effect on the nervous system. Including self-care or mindfulness practices in your daily routine will provide an even deeper level of support.
If you find yourself drawn to the idea of an Ayurvedic daily routine, please consider visiting Banyan’s Daily Routine Department, which explores this concept in depth, and offers personalized recommendations for different constitutions and imbalances.
A Word About Exercise
When engaged appropriately, exercise can be a panacea for improved health. While exercise itself may not be terribly building or nourishing, it supports the body’s natural mechanisms of rejuvenation—sound sleep, the ability to relax, and a balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Proper exercise helps to release accumulated tension, move stagnant mental and emotional energy, and improve circulation. It also kindles agni (the metabolic fire, which is essential to optimal health), improves digestion, bolsters the body’s detoxification mechanisms, and encourages proper elimination—all of which help to counter the effects of excess stress.
Ayurveda offers the unique perspective that the type, duration, and intensity of exercise that is most balancing for each of us depends largely on our constitution, and current state of balance. If you do not know yours, it is worth consulting with an Ayurveda Practitioner who will do a pulse reading, tongue analysis, face and body structure analysis and inquire into your overall health and emotional state to provide you with your Birth Constitution and your Current State imbalances. It is worth mentioning that for most people with chronic stress, a vata-pacifying exercise routine that is gently paced and grounding is often most appropriate at first. If you are not currently exercising regularly, keep in mind that a supportive exercise program does not have to be complex or time-intensive. A daily twenty-minute walk can do wonders for the entire system body, mind, and spirit.
4. Quiet the Mind-Body Organism
Chronic stress tends to ramp up the sympathetic nervous system so that our bodies react to even benign situations as if they were profoundly threatening. Ayurveda recommends a number of subtle therapies like pranayama, yoga, and meditation as an effective means of breaking this cycle, resetting the nervous system, and cultivating a healthier physiological response to stress. A number of Ayurvedic herbs also foster health in the mind and the nervous system and can be incredibly supportive. While we cannot live a life completely free of potentially stressful situations, we can certainly change our capacity to cope with them. This step is about calming the nervous system while celebrating and activating the human capacity to repattern the mind and reorganize the physiology. The following therapeutic strategies do both—each in their own unique way. They help us to digest and release accumulated tension and stagnant mental, emotional, and physical ama (toxins), but simultaneously encourage fluidity and ease throughout our bodies—both physically and energetically. Follow your inspiration in terms of where to start.
Prana, the vital breath, is the subtle essence of the life force that animates each of us. It infuses every cell and tissue throughout our bodies and is carried on and stimulated by the breath. Imbibing prana helps to restore fluidity and vitality to the subtle energy channels of the body while digesting and eliminating stagnation and ama (toxins).
One of the best ways to bathe our tissues in fresh prana is to practice pranayama (yogic breathing exercises). The practice of Nadi Shodhana is especially effective at clearing accumulated tension, relieving stress, and supporting an improved mental disposition in the face of everyday stressors.
Yoga moves prana in the body, helps to dissipate tension, clears stagnation, and encourages fluidity, both in the tissues as well as in the mental and emotional spheres. Ayurveda offers a nuanced approach to yoga that specifically helps to balance whichever doshas need the most attention in your system. Once you know your predominant dosa or characteristics, check out Banyan’s how to practice vata-pacifying, pitta-pacifying, and kapha-pacifying yoga. That said, wherever there is a history of excess stress, vata- and pitta-pacifying yoga routines are often the most appropriate.
Imagine if we could consistently witness the stressors in our lives with detachment and clarity, focusing on purposefully responding to them rather than blindly reacting to them. Meditation helps us to develop this capacity through the cultivation of passive awareness, and can inform a far healthier response to stressful situations. Over time, a daily meditation practice can truly repattern the brain, helping to rewire our response to challenging circumstances. If you do not have an established practice, Empty Bowl Meditation is a wonderful place to start.
Changing Your Relationship with Stress
Studies have shown that how we feel about the stress in our lives affects its impact on our physiology. If we view stress as a harmful influence, it generally is. If however, we view stress as an adaptive response to a difficult situation, its negative impacts are dramatically reduced. The stress response is an age-old mechanism for ensuring that we’re up to the task at hand. If we can simply acknowledge the intelligence behind it, and learn to relate to the hormonal cascade with a sense of gratitude and awe, we can actually minimize the harmful impacts of stress before they begin.17 That’s not to say that we shouldn’t also be working to reduce our exposure to stress in more general terms, but there is something to be said for befriending the utter intelligence and wonder of our instinct for self-preservation.
Supportive Herbs and Formulas
Just as with any supplements, it is best to be advised by a highly trained and qualified Ayurveda Practitioner regarding which herbs and formulas to take and how much is right for you.
Ayurveda also reveres a number of herbs for their ability to foster clarity and health in the mind-body organism. These herbs specifically bolster the mind and the nervous system, and can help to encourage a sense of ease in the face of our daily challenges.
Ashwagandha has long been celebrated for its ability to support the body in coping with stress while calming the mind. As a highly regarded adaptogen, ashwagandha encourages quality energy throughout the day and sound sleep at night. Ashwagandha tablets and liquid extract are also available.
Brahmi/Gotu Kola is incredibly sattvic in nature and is renowned for its ability to balance the nervous system and the mind. It is a cooling, relaxing tonic for pitta, and it helps to calm vata in the mind. Brahmi/Gotu Kola liquid extract is also available.
Mental Clarity tablets offer deep support to both the brain and the nervous system. This formula helps to calm the nerves while encouraging concentration, intelligence, mental health, and emotional stability.
5. Eat a Supportive Diet
Committing to eating a balanced diet does not have to be an overwhelming or taxing endeavor. In fact, when we’re dealing with chronic stress, our lives are often rather complicated, and our systems generally respond better to solutions that are comparatively simple. The diet needs to be a wholesome source of nourishment and grounding. While you can certainly study the nuances of eating a vata-pacifying, pitta-pacifying, or kapha-pacifying diet, it is probably best to focus on emphasizing healthy, whole foods, and minimizing processed foods, stimulants, and refined sugars (which we often reach for when time is short and our bodies are craving nourishment). If you don’t have a lot of time to cook your own meals, soups, stews, root vegetables, and other simple, grounding foods are usually good choices. Or, choose prepared foods that are aligned with the healthy, whole food model. Asian restaurants and the prepared foods section of many health food stores often have a good range of options.
Trust Your Own Process
We recognize that there is a lot to work with in the preceding paragraphs. As you prepare to ground, nourish, and rejuvenate, please keep in mind that Ayurveda is a very holistic and individualized system of medicine. Listening to yourself as you engage in this process is as important as each of the steps above. A slow, simple, gradual approach to change is far more likely to be supportive than an overly effortful attempt at perfection. Remember, the stress response floods our bodies with activating, energizing qualities that are light, sharp, hot, dry, mobile, and subtle by nature. Balance is therefore supported by quieter, more nurturing qualities that are naturally heavy (or grounding), slow, cool, oily, and stabilizing. Your process of embracing change should also feel nourishing and stabilizing—delicious, even. Go slowly. Be intentional. And more than anything else, listen to your deepest inner knowing, honoring where you are at each moment along the way. We hope that we can continue to support you on your journey toward a life of balance and vibrant health.
Loving Life and Living Love,
3 1/2 years in the making, this story sheds light on one mainstream American woman's experience as layers of life are peeled away and truths exposed.
Now Available at Amazon Books and check out KP Khalsa excerpt from book below
A Little About Me from What's Possible?
I am Mary Roberts (Padmavati). Discovering a different path at the age of 61, after a lifetime of traditional living was completely unexpected. My rather ordinary life journey became an unlikely adventure.
My story begins in the same way that many of our stories do - schooling then career path, in my case as a teacher, then marriage...children...divorce...a new, work-hard-play-hard career path in marketing and eventually international trade…all part of the respected, acceptable and typical treadmill of life in our Western culture. The faster we run, the better - or so I thought.
On the surface, before this adventure began, I had it all - lovely condo in one of the nicest parts of Chicago, a loving family and a wide circle of friends. I had attained work success with a nicely titled and high-paying job, had nice clothes and a nice place to live. Yet, I couldn't help but feel that something indefinable was missing.
I began my exploration of the ancient sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda at my local yoga studio in downtown Chicago, and was introduced to new ways of life that fascinated me. I felt compelled to learn more. That interest led me to a week-long Ayurveda conference at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas.
From that one week vacation, I became a "guinea pig" for a year-long Ayurvedic - Yogic lifestyle study at the Ashram. No caffeine, no alcohol, no meat, eggs, seafood - all vegetarian diet, and I’d be living in a tent!
Somehow, I created the proposal and presented it to KP Khalsa, renowned herbalist and Ayurveda specialist. He is the co author of this book and a well respected author of numerous books on Ayurveda.
I wanted to see what was possible.
As a typical American woman, raised on an abundance of fast, convenience foods, meats, seafood, sugary desserts, and who enjoyed strong coffee, alcohol, constant activity and late nights out with friends; this was a huge leap. Sleeping in a tent, using communal bathrooms and living a simple, yogic lifestyle seemed inconceivable. Yet I chose to have this experience.
This book takes you on the year-long journey, with before and after photos, actual journal entries, milestone reports and final results. I’d be honored to share my story with you.
Excerpt from the Foreword of What's Possible?
by Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa
“Living Ayurveda and using Ayurvedic herbalism can keep you well. With this knowledge, you can achieve balanced health, a priceless gift. Imagine a time in the near future when you’re free from sickness, when you haven’t been bothered by even a painful joint or uncomfortable bloating for a long, long time. That future can become your reality.
I’ve seen thousands of patients regain vibrant health, and for my entire adult life I’ve been involved in the revolution that is transforming the health care system in America. Ayurveda and yoga play a big part in that. I am sure you, like other Americans, want to know what you can do to protect yourself from the degeneration, aging and daily irritations that undermine the quality of our lives.
If you have relied on conventional treatments and they are failing you, learn yoga and incorporate Ayurveda in your life, starting today. In this book, you will read about the success story of an admittedly typical American woman who did just that. Committing to the historically potent herbal traditions of India, fused with a modern slant, she found transformation. This could be you. I hope you take to heart what she says about her experience. Admittedly, she spent the year in a concentrated yoga and Ayurveda environment, but there is so much you could do in your own kitchen.”
My evolution of self was life changing in a very positive way, but that transformation did not come without many challenges, lessons and a few humorous experiences that served to humble me throughout the year.
Loving Life and Living Love,
Narayani Cynthia King is one of our therapists in the Well Being Center at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas. If you've ever thought about doing a cleanse, I'd highly recommend coming to the ashram for this one. It will be a transformative experience. If you are one of my blog followers and do come, please say 'hi'. You can find me around the Well Being Center every day.
4 Day Ayurveda Kitchari Cleanse
The 4 Day Kitchari Cleanse is designed for busy humans who don’t have the time for a longer cleanse. It could be perfect for you if:
It’s empowering to prioritize your health … and Ayurveda shows the way. If you want to feel light, balanced, and renewed, an Ayurvedic approach to cleansing will help you effectively address your personal health goals. With one-on-one personalized attention, you will be guided in meal planning, herbal formulas, and laxative choices for your unique constitution. You will also receive a daily routine, hydration protocol, and stress relieving practices.
This 4-day cleanse includes:
It’s also advised to arrive a few days before the cleanse begins and to extend few days after it ends, if possible. This allows time for the body to become acclimated to the ashram environment.
*Pre- and post-cleanse dates (on your own) include January 21 and 26.
*Registrations received after January 10th may not have access to the 30-minute consult prior to cleanse
Loving Life and Living Love,
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