Looking Forward

We are in the sixth month of a world-wide pandemic, and there are only meager signs of it slowing. This, plus the explosion of awareness regarding racial injustice to which we have born witness can really make a person stop and think. Not to mention the global climate change crisis or the economy…it gets overwhelming. If you are like me, when faced with these grim events, you are depending on your yoga practice and contemplative exercises more and more. I personally have found some solace in meditation — getting up earlier, sitting in stillness for a little bit longer. However, there is nothing like a well-rounded yoga asana practice to release the pent-up tension physically, mentally, and emotionally too. I am continually amazed at how effective yoga, breath work, and meditation practices can be at helping calm an overactive nervous system. This is why I am so proud to say that I have been a part of the Yoga Center of Columbia Yoga Teacher Training Program and the Ayurveda Immersion program for over five years now. Yoga Teacher Training can help you progress in your own practice as much as it will help you to offer the many gifts of yoga to others who are in dire need. If you want to learn something, teach it! The Ayurveda Immersion program will help you develop a specific daily routine to support your well-being and combat stress and anxiety. The more you help yourself, the more you can be present to support others, your family, friends, and community as well. We plan to hold these trainings in person, as long as it is safe to do so. Otherwise, they will take place on Zoom, but you will still get personalized attention with each of these programs. I hope you’ll consider joining me!

I came across these words from my friend and fellow yoga teacher Mary Byerly; she lives in Costa Rica and hosted the first international yoga retreat that I ever led. Ah, we were so innocent then. Her words seem like good thoughts to share here:

Please continue to take good care of your body, mind, and soul. May you be able to enjoy the beauty of nature, your loved ones, and the connections within your community. May we all find the way to hear and see each other as the spark of the divine we all are, beyond what we look like, what our politics are, and who we love. May we find unity and work with each other for a better world. –Mary Byerly, E-RYT500

Global Yoga Therapy Day

Today is Global Yoga Therapy Day!

Yoga Therapy uses yogic techniques — yoga postures, breath work, meditation, mantra, mudra — to support a wholistic approach to life, good health, and mental and emotional prosperity. In honor of Global Yoga Therapy Day, I created a video about coping with the global (and local) crises and anxieties of the moment. Enjoy!

Click here to view this short video.

Black Lives Matter

I would like to preface this by saying that I am not an historian, and I am definitely not a social activist, but given the protests of the last few weeks I discovered that I have something to say. Social activism was never in my purview. I grew up in a middle class white neighborhood, went to school with mostly white people, and lived my life without thinking much about how people of different color had very different experiences. 

In my college years, instead of social activism, music was my fascination, and all kinds of people made great music, most certainly Black people like Jimi Hendricks and Miles Davis, Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin, Sam and Dave. I had a few black friends but never really paused to think how differently our experiences of America were.

The protests in the recent weeks have definitely made me think twice, think a hundred times, more. George Floyd died a senseless death at the hands of police brutality. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Freddie Gray, and so many others for so many years have suffered and lost their lives at the hands of racist bigots. It is disgusting and despicable and unexplainable. It is time for this to stop.

I asked a Black yogi student of mine how he is faring during this crisis and he suggested I check out We Were Eight Years In Power by Ta-nehisi Coates as that has provided some support for him during challenging times. I have never considered myself “white privileged,” but my eyes have been opened. The systemic bias against people of color can no longer be tolerated. It should have never been tolerated. If yoga teaches us anything, it is that diversity is beautiful. It is the nature of things to expand, grow, shift, change, and diversify. It is a yogic practice to welcome diversity as a unique expression of Universal Consciousness.  Universal means that no one is left out — no animal, plant, or human being, regardless of race, creed, or color. All people and all beings deserve love, compassion, and understanding *and* a peaceful home in which to live without fear.

We need to talk about this.  Even more, we need to listen to what Black people have to say.  We need to listen to their stories, keep this dialogue going and make radical changes to weed out the vile racism that has shaped America.

I offer here some words from my teacher, Douglas Brooks of Rajanaka Yoga, because he always seems to say things thoughtfully and with more skill than I ever could.

“We are outraged by the senseless murder of yet another Black person at the hands of America’s police. In the last week we have continued to see police violently responding to peaceful protestors, including Federal officers in front of the White House and the military in battle fatigues at the Lincoln Memorial. These are stains on our present that are the consequences of a past we must address with honesty and seriousness.

We must speak out. We must protest. We stand together with all of the victims of these murders. We reject their silencing, their systemic oppression, and the prejudice waged against them on the basis of skin color. We march with all who seek justice across our country. We will say of the names of the murdered and today we say again his name: George Floyd…

We need actionable, concrete plans to address the deeper issues and so create sustained efforts and relentless commitment.” Find his full statement here.

And here is a list of resources compiled by NPR to educate oneself about the disease of racism in this country:  https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2020/06/06/871023438/this-list-of-books-films-and-podcasts-about-racism-is-a-start-not-a-panacea

Yoga is a universal practice — anyone of any color, race, religion, no religion, age, sexual preference, socio-economic background, or physical or mental ability can practice yoga and discover its healing benefits.  One of the first principles of yoga practice is called Ahimsa – the practice of doing no harm in thought, word, or action.  This is a universal principle because it should apply to everyone everywhere.  A yoga practitioner attempts to engage with the tendency within oneself to elevate or diminish, to separate or cling in order to recognize that all people come from the same source and all people deserve love, harmony, good health, and a happy life.  There is always more work to do, within ourselves and within our communities.  Black lives matter.

I pledge to no longer be complacent to race matters and to stand with those who stand for justice.

India 2020 – Short and Sweet

Our annual India Retreat was interesting this year, special thanks to Coronavirus. The day before we left, we knew it would be a challenge because Emirates had already canceled our return flight due to the lack of passengers. We were some of the last people allowed in to the country and thank goodness we were able to get out in time as well.

We made the most of what we had. Rimmi led our first yoga practice at the Taj Hotel in Delhi, beginning with a loving-kindness meditation that we sent out into the world for the upliftment of all beings and closing with a quote from Swami Vivekananda:

Give me understanding 
Teach me patience & acceptance 
Help me remember that whatever happened in the past 
happened for the best 
And whatever is happening now is also happening for the best.  
I came with nothing 
And I will leave with nothing. 
What belonged to someone else yesterday is mine today 
But what is mine today will belong to someone else tomorrow 
In this ever-changing world help me see your unchanging principle 
Which is that true happiness and peace come from the simple understanding that we are all connected and that we all come from the same source. 

We saw the Taj Mahal with a very small crowd of people. We visited the Ahaneri Step Well on the way to Jaipur and we got to spend some time in Jaipur — meditating, doing yoga, and visiting.

Udaipur and Rishikesh will have to wait for next time.

There are many things I love about India that keep me coming back, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the warm and friendly people. But one of the things I like best is, it seems like everywhere you look there is something to bring you back to Consciousness — like the random sign in Delhi, or the monkey feasting, or the kids laughing. They all become a reminder that we are all part of one big human family, no matter where we live.

Yoga For Back Care

This past weekend I had the great good pleasure of meeting Dr. Loren Fishman when he came to Yoga Center of Columbia to offer his certification training on Yoga for Back Care to a full house of yoga teachers and therapists. It was just about 20 hours worth of sciatica, scoliosis, piriformis, quadratus lumborum, facets, herniated disc discussion, and more. I continue to be amazed at just how supportive yoga can be to one’s good health.

As you may know, I became a Certified Yoga Therapist in September of 2016 (three years ago!) when IAYT first began certifying yoga teachers. This is the highest level of certification a teacher may receive. It is a fascinating prospect to me because, my yoga practice has been so healing in my own life journey, and it is an honor to be able to offer similar healing to others. When drugs and conventional medicine fail, yoga offers hope without the side effects. The main issue is, one has to practice! This is the hardest part, just getting onto the mat every morning (or at least at some point during the day). But if you can discipline yourself for a regular practice, the benefits can be immense.

I once heard the phrase that indulgences like sweets, alcohol, and other recreational activities are elixir at first, and poison later on. Whereas, yoga may feel like poison in the beginning, but it is elixir in the end. And, I am here to say, it only gets better with age. My practice has been 28 years running and I only want to do more yoga, not less.

Our crew with Dr. Loren Fishman, Sept 8, 2019

Some students were asking about his books. He has many, including: Healing Yoga; Yoga for Back Pain; Yoga for Arthritis; Yoga for Osteoporosis.

His website is a great resource, also. You may purchase his books there.

Or, you may contact me. I will be happy to meet with you to create a home practice specific to your needs. One on one with a qualified therapist is really the best way to make the most of your own practice.

A little personal attention is always fun.

Nelson Mandela once said “When you let your own light shine, you unconsciously give others permission to do the same.” Dr. Fishman spent many years with his teacher, BKS Iyengar, and that light is being passed along even today.

Provence in May 2019

This year eight intrepid travelers joined Annette, Rita, and me in a beautiful farmhouse in Pertuis, Provence. The owners converted the farmhouse, complete with stables and a few outbuildings — one of the bathrooms still had the feeding trough within it. There were many nooks to explore in this home with a unique spot for meditation in one of the smaller buildings and an excellent great room for yoga practice. We were able to practice yoga outdoors on the patio when the weather was a little warmer, and we had several dinners outside too. It was really a lovely setting to rest and restore, and enjoy the amazing French countryside.

Our farmhouse in Pertuis
Lunch in Aix
Cezanne’s inspiration!
Inside Cezanne’s studio
Colorado of Provence. It was a little scary out on that ledge, but worth the climb.
Some of our hikers at the top of the mountain

Next door to our farmhouse was a horse farm. These lovelies were huge! Percherons are just a little smaller than clydesdales.
This is part of an ancient cedar forest on top of the mountain. It was such a calming forest. There were signs asking visitors to keep silence to maintain the meditative vibe. It was ethereal.
Yoga! Yes, we did lots of yoga. It was a special treat in the afternoon sunlight.
“Colorado” means red in Spanish (I am told). Other hikers left these cairns for us to enjoy.

India Travels

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, so I want to get you caught up on the 2019 trip to Southern India with Roaming Buddha’s Rimmi Singh and myself. I took over 300 photos, and it is difficult to choose which ones to show here, but below are some highlights from the last trip.

Our group at Arjuna’s Penance on the Bay of Bengal at Mahabalipuram
Arunachalam – the sacred mountain where Ramana Maharishi reached enlightenment
Lakshmi giving a blessing to one of our travelers in Pondicherry. She’s good luck!
Ready to meet Nataraja in Chidambaram!
Our group of travelers standing together in front of relief sculpture of the Pandava brothers at Mahabalipuram
Kali Temple in Chidambaram. Kali is often seen with blood dripping from her mouth. We got it on our feet. Really though, it’s kum kum (koom-koom) powder and it is auspicious.
The hotel pool in Thanjavur. So refreshing, and yes, that is an outdoor bed on the far right.
Yes, we do practice yoga during our travels too. How do you think we keep our energy level up so high? 😉
Birthday celebration for one of our travelers!
Implements from our homa ceremony (fire ritual) for auspiciousness.
Everyone needs their very own garlic truck. No vampires here.
Children from the school at a tea plantation in the Periyar mountain area. This is the second time we’ve visited their school. We brought them backpacks, umbrellas, and ice cream.
Fishermen in Kerala. Love the colorful boat.
Final day before our flight home. This is at the Taj in Kochin; two of our travelers enjoy the infinity pool.

Next year we will visit northern India once again. Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Rishikesh and Haridwar. Join us!

Prakriti, Vikruti, and the Ayurvedic Clock

This article is the fourth in a series leading us into the Ayurveda Immersion at Yoga Center of Columbia beginning in January.

Prakriti

Prakriti on the one hand means “Nature, She who is the first creation.” (Svoboda, Prakriti, Your Ayurvedic Constitution, p. 27)  It also refers to your innate physical constitution, your personal metabolic pattern, or in other words your dosha signature.  You may recall kapha, pitta, and vata from our first post.   Your unique constitution depends upon many factors — some of them including genetics, your mother’s health habits during pregnancy, or any abnormal events that may have occurred surrounding your birth.  The amount of each dosha present within you offers the framework for your life experience.  At birth you had certain characteristics that define you, your prakriti, and that tends to not change throughout your lifetime.

There are eight different body constitutions according to ayurveda: kapha, pitta, vata, kapha-pitta, kapha-vata, pitta-vata, vata, and the eighth is much more rare, it is called tridoshic and refers to when kapha-pitta-vata are all of equal amounts.  Everyone has one or more doshas predominant at the time of birth, but as life unfolds, it is possible and even likely that one or more of the doshas will go out of balance.  In other words there may be accumulations or deficiencies of the different qualities.

A common misunderstanding is that when we attempt to bring ourselves back into balance, that means we want to maintain kapha, pitta, and vata in equal amounts within the body-mind structure.  This is not true.  Balance means that kapha, pitta, and vata are restored to your unique prakritic level.

Vikruti

There are many tests you may take to determine your constitution.  You may find examples here and here.  But the question really is, what is currently out of balance within me?  The current state of your health is your Vikruti.  You may be a Pitta-Vata but lately you have been incredibly hangry and have no patience with your family.  Sounds like your pitta is a little excessive.  To restore balance, remember the principle of “like increases like and opposites balance,” and you might want to take up swimming for example, an activity that has a cooling quality.  You might add more cooling foods and herbs to your diet like melons, cucumber, or cilantro.  Or, you may be a straight-up Vata, but you have a lot of congestion in your sinuses and lungs.  In that case, Kapha is out of balance and so you might choose to add more warming foods and spices like cayenne pepper to your diet to help decrease the excess earthy-watery mucous.

Ayurveda suggests gentle ways to deal with imbalances before they get out of control and turn in to disease.  Changing foods or exercise habits to meet your needs are excellent places to begin.  There are many ways to look at vikruti, a current imbalance, and to restore your doshas back to your prakritic level.  This is a longer discussion, no doubt.

Doshas may be in or out of balance based on other factors too.  The time of day, the season of the year, the stage of life, all of these have an effect on the doshas as well.

Ayurvedic Clock

In Ayurveda, 10, 2, and 6 are important transitions to the day, AM or PM.  6 0’clock is a little more fluid, one might refer to that time as sunrise or sunset instead.  From 6am (sunrise) to 10am and also 6pm (sunset) to 10pm, the elements of earth and water, Kapha dosha, are predominant.  This is the time of the day that we might feel more loving, more grounded, or more sleepy for example.  It is a good idea to get to bed by 10pm to ride the coattails of Kapha’s sleepiness into a delightful slumber.

10am to 2pm and 10pm to 2am are fire and water predominant, Pitta dosha.  Therefore, lunchtime is ideal for your biggest meal of the day, when the outer fire, the sun shines brightest, our inner fire is most ready to digest the foods we eat.  This might also account for the desire for a midnight snack.  However, at night when we are sleeping is really the best time to digest not only excess food already consumed previously during the day but also our daily sense impressions, so better to be sleeping from 10pm to 2am.  Says your mother.  In a loving way.

2am to 6am and 2pm to 6pm are air and space predominant, related to Vata dosha.  This is a lighter, drier, more mobile time of the day.  It is also a more subtle time.  In the morning before or around sunrise is an excellent time for meditation or spiritual practice.  Likewise at sunset.  If you can at least arise out of bed by sunrise, quite often you’ll notice a “spring in your step” or just a sense of being awake and alert in a calm manner, as opposed to when you sleep in until the kapha time of day and then the rest of the day you feel logy and sluggish.  Says your mother.  In a loving way.  But there is a reason for it, see?

The seasons also correspond to the doshas.  In Ayurveda, we think of the year as containing three seasons.  Kapha occurs in late winter and early spring when it is cold and wet outside.  Pitta is related to summer, no question; and Vata is related to autumn and early winter when things are drying out and turning cool again.  So you might be a Pitta who gets acid indigestion, but in winter a few hotter, spicier foods may be available to you without discomfort.  You might be a Kapha, but in summertime when it is hot outside, having some ice cream may be good for you.

Time of life corresponds to the doshas as well.  From birth to puberty, Kapha is predominant.  Think of how babies are chubby and full of love.  At puberty, a bit of hormonal fire kicks in and Pitta arises. From the teen years to middle age is when we study hard, find a fulfilling career, and start a family.  These are all very active, busy activities.  Pitta is the one who is motivated to get things done.  Middle age to end of life is associated with Vata.  In Ayurveda there is a saying that the process of aging is the process of drying out.  This is why there are so many practices that involve oils.  Sesame oil swishing in the mouth, self-massage with a doshic balancing oil, or even shirodhara, the process of dripping warm oil on the eyebrow center for relaxation and purification.  Oil counters the drying out and keeps one looking young and beautiful.  (with radiant skin!)  😉

So when we talk about Ayurveda being the study of aligning with Nature’s rhythms, these are some ways to be aware of Her rhythm.  This is a long and complex discussion, but I think a fun one because it opens up so many possibilities for self care.  To me, it is extremely fulfilling to flow with the rhythm of Nature, and in studying Ayurveda we learn how to do that.  When you feel balanced and healthy, you make the world a more balanced and healthy place.  We all owe that to ourselves!!!

In my upcoming Ayurveda Immersion, co-taught with Debbie Martin at the Yoga Center of Columbia, we will go into more detail on nature’s rhythms, prakriti, vikruti, and the ayurvedic clock.  The Immersion is a great way to learn in community with others; the conversations will be interesting and stimulating, and the community support will help you to change unwanted habits for the better.  If you would like to learn more, I hope you will join us!

Agni and Ama

This article is the third in a series leading us into the Ayurveda Immersion at Yoga Center of Columbia beginning in January.

If the subtle essences of prana, tejas, and ojas are the reward for living a healthy lifestyle, just how do we increase these qualities in our lives?

AGNI  

“It is the inextinguishable flame, the witness behind all our states of consciousness, the ever-wakeful seer.” (Frawley, Yoga and Ayurveda, p.105-6)

While there are specific ways to encourage more prana, tejas, and ojas, it all comes down to fire.  Agni in Sanskrit means fire, and Hinduism deifies Agni into an anthropomorphic form because they consider it that important.  Fire metabolizes, fire changes, fire transforms.  It is the transforming force of the universe.  It is not simply fire as we know it, but fire with all of its potential — heat, light, electricity.

The yogis tell us that this divine fire is the origin of all life and the impulse to love.  They say it is the “power of the soul that motivates us from within.” (Frawley, Yoga and Ayurveda, p.105)  Without fire there would be no warmth to cook our food nor warmth with which to hug and offer love.  According to Ayurveda, there are over 40 different types of fire in the body.  A few examples would be the digestive fire that transforms food into nutrients; the fire of awareness that helps us understand the difference between what is real and meaningful and what is not; the fire that affects body heat and fever when we are fighting off illness; there is even an agni representing cellular metabolism and functioning.

Cue the happy music:  Agni is the force necessary for evolution to occur.  This concept of fire in Ayurveda represents how the elements combine and convert into doshas which are refined into the subtle essences.  The yogis advise us to cultivate balanced agni whenever and wherever possible.

Types of Agni Related to Digestion

Jatharagni is located in the stomach and duodenum.  This is the one responsible for digestion.  There are four types:

  1. Samagni – a balanced digestive fire; this is the ideal, when food is digested and absorbed well; one will have a good appetite for nutritious food and very little gas, colic, or constipation
  2. Tikshnagni – sharp or excessive digestive fire; in this case one may develop heart burn, diarrhea, or a host of other things involved with hyperacidity of the stomach
  3. Mandagni – weak digestive fire; one may have a poor appetite, feel sluggish, or have a tendency toward weight gain
  4. Vishamagni – variable digestive fire; there are alternating cycles of strong appetite and loss of appetite; one may be affected by gas, constipation, diarrhea, or a host of other things

We can use food, herbs, and spices to help regulate jatharagni.  If one has a predominantly earth-water constitution of Kapha, Ayurveda suggests this person eat lighter drier foods like leafy greens and hotter spices like ginger or cayenne pepper to balance that.  If one has the predominantly fire-water constitution of Pitta, she should consume more cooling foods like cucumbers, sweet melons, cilantro, or turmeric.  Likewise if one has a predominantly air-space constitution of Vata, then he would favor foods with more earth element in them like root vegetables, avocado, or coconut.  The principle of “opposites balance” is at play here.

When agni is balanced, one will experience nourishment, proper energy level, contentment, regular elimination, strong immunity, a clear radiant complexion, excellent circulation, and overall strength and vitality.  Who would not want to cultivate proper agni?

But, what happens if agni is weak and food is not digested properly?

AMA

Cue the scary music here:  Ama is the Sanskrit word for undigested food, sense impressions, thoughts, and actions; it is a toxic, sticky sludge that forms in the body and creates cloudiness, confusion, and excess weight.  Ama can lead to fatigue and a feeling of heaviness.  It may induce indigestion, bad breath, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and mental confusion.  When ama is present, one might experience excessive mucous production, clammy skin, loss of appetite, hypertension, diabetes, or obesity.

So, it really does pay to support agni because agni is the fire that burns away impurities; it helps rid the body of ama or excess gunk.  It enhances our experience of the subtle essences of prana, tejas, and ojas which we now know creates the experiences of creativity, inner radiance, peacefulness, contentment, and joy.  Balanced agni is our friend in good health.  Cue the fireworks!

In my upcoming Ayurveda Immersion, co-taught with Debbie Martin at the Yoga Center of Columbia, we will go into more detail on how to cultivate agni and reduce ama.  The Immersion is a great way to learn in community with others; the conversations will be interesting and stimulating, and the community support will help you to change unwanted habits for the better.  If you would like to learn more, I hope you will join us!

The Subtle Essences

This article is the second in a series leading us into the Ayurveda Immersion at Yoga Center of Columbia beginning in January.

Last week we talked about the three doshas or body constitutions, the six tastes known as sat rasa, and the principle of how “like increases like and opposites balance each other.”  This week we will discuss what happens when the body-mind structure is in balance.

According to ayurveda, there are three subtle essences that arise within the body from the doshas.

Ojas

Kapha is the constitution related to water and earth.  When kapha is out of balance, one may feel heaviness, sadness, or depression; one may be sluggish, lethargic or carry excess weight.  When kapha is in balance, a person feels love and compassion for oneself and the world, she feels at peace and in harmony with herself and those around her.  Ojas arises.

Ojas is the first of the subtle essences.  Ojas is the lubricating part of the body that nourishes all of the tissues, such as blood, lymph, muscles, and bones.  It is the stuff responsible for a strong immune system, vigor, longevity, and overall well being of an individual.  We cannot have ojas without balanced kapha dosha.  When ojas is present, one has a radiant complexion, youthfulness, cheerfulness, a high threshold for stress, and mental clarity.  If ojas is weak or low, one may be timid, insecure, have poor appetite, or have feelings of worthlessness.

A few ways to protect ojas would be to eat a balanced meal which, according to ayurveda, contains all of the six tastes as discussed last week.  Do not rush your meal or eat on the go in the car or on the run.  In other words, sit and enjoy your meal, taste your food and keep good company when you eat.  Nourishing your mind through meditation or quiet walks in nature also protects and increases ojas.  There are more ways to support ojas, but this is a good start.

Tejas

Tejas is the second of the subtle essences.  Tejas is the inner radiance that shines in the luster of one’s eyes and the glow of one’s skin.  Tejas brings clarity to the mind, will-power, courage and fearlessness to one’s demeanor.  It is a type of fire that transforms food into nutrients the body can use and it transforms sensory experiences into knowledge and even wisdom.   One cannot have tejas without balanced pitta dosha.

Pitta dosha is the constitution related to fire and secondarily water.  When pitta is out of balance, one may feel sharp emotions like anger, jealousy, irritation, frustration.  In the extreme, pitta becomes the “type A” personality.  When pitta is in balance, one has energy to accomplish things, one has a healthy sense of competition, and there is a warmth to one’s personality that is highly attractive.

Keeping pitta in balance will stoke the subtle fire of tejas in a healthy way.  Avoid excessive talking about menial things or gossip to strengthen tejas.  A regular meditation practice or even chanting mantras will keep the inner radiance shining brightly.  Long slow deep breathing and mindful awareness are also helpful.

Prana

The third of the vital essences arises from Vata dosha.  It is known as prana.  Vata dosha forms from the elements of air and space so a person with a vata dominant constitution will have qualities of lightness, mobility, tendency toward dryness, and plenty of creativity.  Vata dosha is the primary biological force because it is the one that creates and supports movement.  Without movement of any fashion there is no life.  The key to managing all doshas and subtle essences is to care for vata.

When vata is out of balance, one may feel mentally scattered or ungrounded; one may be anxious, nervous, or fearful; and one’s behavior may be erratic.  When vata is in balance, one is creative and open-minded; one is a powerful speaker with an enthusiastic personality and the ability to understand a broad range of topics quickly.  When vata is in balance, prana is unblocked and flows freely.

Prana moves in five directions in the body: downward and inward like an inhalation, downward and outward like an exhalation, metabolizing or support during transformation, upward and outward as in speech, and circulating throughout the entire body-mind structure.  When prana is unblocked and flows freely, one has abundant vitality and is a source of inspiration.

A few suggestions to keep vata in balance are to keep a regular schedule for your daily routine: wake at the same time every day, eat meals at the same time, and go to bed at the same time every day.  This sets up a rhythm for life so one’s body-mind knows what to expect and even prepares for food or sleep so that one may gain more nourishment from those experiences.  Turning off all electronics, including television and phone, one hour before bedtime to have a more sound sleep is another way; one could use that time for reading, quiet contemplation, or meditation.  Third but not lastly, increasing one’s intake of root vegetables in the diet may have a grounding, soothing effect on one’s system to help balance vata.

Conclusion

So you can see that cultivating the subtle essences can be a very positive force in one’s life.  Ayurveda practice offers techniques to enhance ojas, tejas, and prana to restore balance in one’s life but also to live life fully and to thrive.

In my upcoming Ayurveda Immersion, co-taught with Debbie Martin at the Yoga Center of Columbia, we will go into more detail on how to cultivate the subtle essences.  The Immersion is a great way to learn in community with others; the conversations will be interesting and stimulating, and the community support will help you to change unwanted habits for the better.  If you would like to learn more, I hope you will join us!

 

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