by Jayme Hissam
Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% what we do with it. I’ve heard this saying, or something very similar to it, several times in my life. When hearing this, I’d always think, “well, of course!” From there, I’d continue on with my day: running from place to place, eating what I wanted whenever I had a moment, letting life happen to me, and engaging with my life in a passive manner.
It wasn’t until I actively decided to practice yoga, when I took that 10% and made a conscious change, that I started to notice the imbalances in my life. This is the practice of Ayurveda, the practice of paying attention to how you react to your life and actively making choices to bring a sense of balance and wellness to the body, mind, and soul.
As I started to become more mindful, I began to notice my imbalances early on. I started new habits to counter my imbalances, which brought me back into harmony. The imbalances I found were telling a story of a hot-headed, anxious, worrying, and self-doubting woman. I had come to a place where I was aware of this, but not quite sure how to change it. However, I desperately wanted to find relief from my habits and patterns. I soon came to learn that what would serve me most, would be to make changes in my day-to-day life. These changes included my food intake, my activities, my sleep patterns, and self care routines. After all, it is the small things that make the biggest difference.
I cut coffee from my diet, I began winding down earlier in the evenings, I kept to evening and morning routines, and I started a list of foods that made my stomach upset. This began my journey of making that 90% of life count, and allowed me to see that I have the ability to tap into what I need at any given moment, to settle the noise and distraction, to tune in, and to start to make decisions that draw me closer to who I know I am.
Today, I won’t say that I always make the choice to stick to what I know will be best. I do slip a chai latte in there every now and then; however, I now know the consequences. The 10% of life will always be there, and I now have a set of tools that I can fall back on when I notice my habits running off track–that’s my 90%.
Jayme teaches Gentle Flow on Monday’s at 8:30PM and Lotus Yin on Thursdays at 4PM. She invites her students to be just as they are, and to let their own experience on fold with each breath.
by Dana Nielsen
Are you running late to class/work/etc, because your forgot your wallet/phone/key then had to run back to your house, only to realize you had your said item was in the side pocket of your bag the whole time? Did your breakfast routine look something like grabbing a Lara bar as your rushed out of the house, or even worse, did you skip breakfast all together? Do you think chocolate is a separate food group, and substitute it for meals? Do you feel floaty often, like your not really ‘here,’ and enjoy daydreaming regularly? Are 3-legged vinyasas and grasshoppers (Ganda Bherundasana) part of your flow almost every time? Ooh wait, where did the day go? Why is my heart beating so fast, and sorry, I forgot, what time does yoga start again?
Does any of this resemble your life lately? If so, you are not alone. Vata season is here, which is Ayurveda’s name for Autumn. This means the energy is more changeable, windy, and dry both outside, and inside of us. The flurry of the holidays are upon us, and its so difficult not to get swept along the tides of the many festivities, sporting events, and cosmic celebrations.
Although we may be overwhelmed with all that we have to do, it’s the most important time of the year to remember to take care of ourselves. No one can do it for us. It is our responsibility to find the time – to make our dinacharya (daily routines) serve us, so that we can thrive during this hectic season, rather than end up sick and exhausted by New Years.
Below are some ayurvedic suggestions and resources that I follow in my daily routine to help ground me during this seasonal change. Try them out, and feel yourself connecting back down to planet earth and harmonizing within during this Vata Season.
Start the day with a warm glass of lemon water. This helps to start your agne, or digestive fire so that you have an appetite, and can generate your own internal tapas (burning enthusiasm) for the day.
Try a breakfast of cooked oats, mixed with cinnamon, almond milk, dates, chia seeds, walnuts and a scoop of ghee or coconut oil. The combination of warming spices, grounding grains, and moisturizing fats will sustain you for the morning, and help your start your day with your feet firmly on the ground.
Rub a drop of your favorite Sandalwood or Rose oil on your chest and forehead to protect your anahata (heart) and Ajna (third eye) chakras from taking in toxic energy. As a highly sensitive person, I swear by this practice, and notice a huge difference in my ability to stay centered within myself and not soak in other’s energy throughout my day.
It doesn’t matter where you work or study, find a corner and take a few moments to squat down and connect back with your body. Malasana is a very centering and grounding pose that activates our Muladhara chakra and helps us feel the strength of our legs grounding into mother earth. Don’t forget to breathe!
Turmeric Milk Tea
Instead of your daily coffee break, try this one out: warm up your favorite milk (I like almond) + half tablespoon of turmeric + few pinches of cinnamon + honey or agave + half spoonful of coconut oil or ghee. It’s my go to drink for when I’m a bit spun out and need to take a break and resource.
These nutrient dense root veggies pack a punch of vitamin C to help you fight off any viruses and they are filling and grounding snack to include in your lunch, or afternoon treat. (I pop them in the oven whole for 45 minutes the night before, then cut them up and pack them for the next day.) The sweetness taste also helps to calm the vata craving for sugar.
Dry Brush + Oil
Take a dry (yes dry) brush or exfoliating cloth to your skin before you shower or bath. Using a circular motion, rub it around your skin to exfoliate and help your lymph system to move any toxins you’ve acquired from your day. Then before hopping in the shower or bath, massage yourself with your favorite oil (almond or sesame are my choices.) Oiling yourself before the hot shower/bath helps to ensure the nutrient rich oil soaks into stays in your skin when your pores open from the steam
If you have a bathtub, soak yourself in warm water and sea or epsom salts, with a dash of Rose or Ylang Ylang oils included for some extra indulgence. Salt baths are a beautiful way to rinse off the day, and calm your nerves. Light a candle and exhale it out.
My favorite thing to do before bed is to put a few drops of Vetiver or another grounding essential oil on my feet. Two fabulous brands for high quality essential oils are DoTerra and Young Living Essentials. Rub a drop in with base oil like almond or sesame, and massage your feet, especially on the arch of your foot. Top it off with some socks, and get under the covers. Make sure to turn your electronics off at least an hour before bed, try to get to sleep before 11pm so you are ready to wake up with the sun refreshed, grounded, and ready to align with nature again the next day!
Dana teaches at Laughing Lotus on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9am, and Wednesday at 5:30PM. She is currently studying a Masters degree in Somatic Psychology at the California Institute for Integral Studies, and aims to support people to reclaim their own embodied selves. To learn more about Dana, check out her website: http://www.danamarienielsen.com/
by Jasmine Tarkeshi
Many people think that because of my spiritual heritage and far-out upbringing, that the teachings and practices of Yoga, and it’s allied spiritual teachings, have been passed down to me like a family heirloom. Although I grew up with my mother meditating; and a wild cast of characters who would read Rumi, Kabir and Hafiz standing on their heads; my path has been a roller coaster ride with the most surprising roots.
The once painful but now empowering truth is: I have another “heritage.” I came to the practices of Yoga on my knees. I was in a lot of pain and searched everywhere for a way out of this pain, by numbing, running and aggressively fighting it. My life in my late teens and early twenties felt like it was nothing but suffering–mentally, emotionally and physically. When my partner of six years unexpectedly died, I felt that was IT. Strangely enough, it was IT! The epoch of pain lead me on my path to a lasting happiness, health and a freedom I never knew existed!
The teachings of Yoga and Buddhism describe suffering, anxiety, stress, and dissatisfaction as Dukkha. Buddha, in fact, said life IS Dukkha. In The Four Noble Truths, he describes the way out of suffering, and emphasizes the importance of developing insight into the nature of Dukkha, the conditions that cause it, and how it can be overcome. The practice of Kriya Yoga starts with “tapas” to create heat but also to accept suffering as part of the path.
Through the yogic lens, I was first able to see the meaning behind my suffering, and then find my way out of it. This was due largely to the incredible grace of being blessed by the teachings of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is translated to “life science” or “wisdom.” First and foremost, my teachers taught me that “I” was not my body, mind or emotions (known as Prakriti); there was something, someone beyond and deep within me (known as Purusha); and my journey was going to be an internal one. Though I was still identifying with the many veils of the Kleshas (obstacles), my true self was at peace and harmony! My path to a state of inner peace and harmony would involve a willingness to take a brave and truthful look at what was causing me so much pain and suffering, and take action through devoted practice and radical changes in living. Taking personal responsibility for my own Dukkha was the awakening of personal power to be free of Dukkha! Not that suffering is not a part of daily life, but it’s our relationship to it that changes.
“Dosha,” in Ayurvedic wisdom, means disease. Described as the first obstacle in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1:30, dis-ease blocks us from the experience of Samadhi, union with ourselves and the world around us. Everything I was suffering from, such as anxiety, depression, anorexia, extreme restlessness, addiction, physical pain, and hormonal imbalances, were all rooted in my particular disease type referred to as Vata.
There are three main Doshas, which are allied with the three Gunas, or forces of nature. Seeing ourselves as nature and a part of nature is Ayurveda’s main Gospel. Vata is composed of air and ether, Pitta is fire and water, and Kapha is water and earth. Each of us is a unique combination of the elements of nature. We have each of the elements and Doshas within us, but every individual contains them in a portion that is uniquely theirs! The Goal of Ayurveda is to re-establish and maintain a person’s natural doshic balance, so their own nature is supported, enhanced, celebrated, and fulfilled.
Through the wisdom of Ayurveda, immersing myself in the practices of self healing, and the daily ritual of Yoga,Pranayama, Mantra, healthy eating habits, and the use of herbs and spices for my Dosha, I have experienced miraculous cures: from being able to conceive a child at 43, to having the beautiful life I have, which involves running a temple of healing, Laughing Lotus Yoga Center, to serve these life changing and transformative teachings! This, I could have never conceived of 25 years ago. And I’m certainly not saying it’s easy…I still struggle with my Dosha daily; but by committing to path of physical, emotional, and mental health; everyone around me benefits.
Like the Buddha himself, I encourage you, too, to look into your Dosha and Dukkha that are particular to you. Along with consulting a Vidya, an ayurvedic practitioner, any book by Maya Tiwari, David Frawley or Harish Johari can be great guides on your path to healing. YOU become your own healer.
Here’s a link to begin to determine your personal dosha.
Dukkha as described in wiki :
Anxiety (Chogyam Trungpa, The Truth of Suffering, pp. 8–10)
Dissatisfaction (Pema Chodron, Chogyam Trunpa)
Frustration (Dalai Lama, Four Noble Truths, p. 38)
Stress (Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Jon Kabat-Zin)
Suffering (Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Succito, Chogyam Trungpa, Rupert Gethin, Dalai Lama, et al.)
Uneasiness (Chogyam Trungpa)
Unease (Rupert Gethin)
Developing insight into Dukkha is the gateway not only to awakening, but also to the raising and nourishing of compassion. Compassion is that feeling in the heart that wants to help others and ourselves be free of suffering. The First noble truth leads us to the practice of compassion, because it is the practice of letting things in, letting people in, letting all parts of ourselves in.
Lokha Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu: May all beings every where be happy and free from suffering.
Jasmine Tarkeshi is the Co-Founder of Laughing Lotus Yoga Centers in NYC and SF. She is a master teacher and devoted student of Yoga and it’s allied practices. She teaches weekly classes and Leads Teacher Trainings at Laughing Lotus SF, Teaches workshops and retreats worldwide and will featured at the SF Yoga Journal Conference in January 2015 teaching an Ayurveda and Yoga Workshop, Dancing with your Dosha.
by Valerie Starr
As the seasons start to change, so do our bodies’ needs. We can’t help but feel a pull to go more inwards as the days get shorter, colder, and darker. According to Ayurvedic principles, Vata season; or Autumn, is a time when it becomes more windy and airy outside. Internally, you may notice emotions getting stirred up, heightened anxiety, restlessness, fatigue, dryness, and constipation. Fortunately, there are ways of making sure that we keep in balance as nature provides exactly what we need to keep ourselves healthy! Foods that happen to be in season at this time are not only grounding and warming, but boost the immune system and also keep us feeling comforted.
Foods that grow below the earth (or just on the surface) have a rooting and grounding quality to them. These foods include: beets, carrots, turnips, sweet potatoes, squash, onions, garlic, ginger, etc. Also available, are citrus fruits such as lemons, grapefruits, oranges and tangerines that have higher Vitamin C content to boost the immune system and help to fight off infection. All of these nourishing and healing foods are made plentiful during the fall season because that is what we need at this time to stay healthy and strong. There is no denying amazing wisdom of Mother Nature and how she provides!
2 Tbsp coconut oil (or ghee)
3 medium golden beets, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, loosely diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger finely chopped (or more if you like more warmth)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp clove
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 cups vegetable broth
1-cup coconut milk (full fat)
Salt and pepper to taste
Sprinkle of pumpkin seeds as garnish
1. Melt 1 Tbsp coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan.
2. Sauté beets, carrot, and onion 7-8 minutes
3. Turn heat to low and add garlic. Continue cooking until vegetables are softened about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. In a separate soup pot, add 1 Tbsp of coconut oil, the ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and turmeric. Sauté until fragrant.
5. Add broth and vegetables to the soup pot. Bring to a low boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered, for 10 minutes, until squash is tender.
6. Place ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
7. Return soup to pot, adding coconut milk. Salt and pepper to taste, add garnish
Add a dash of cayenne pepper for more heat and warmth
Add in a handful sautéed dark leafy greens for added nutritional benefit (Kale, Collard Greens or Swiss Chard)
Valerie has an optimistic, genuine compassion for all people and walks of life. Valerie’s dedication to her personal practice shines through in her heartfelt and soulful classes as she is continually educating herself and nurturing awareness of the body-mind-soul connection.
Valerie teaches Lotus Flow 2 on Monday and Friday from 10:15-11:45AM, and Happy Hour from 5:30-6:30PM on Thursday.