The power of the mind on our well being.
Let's reflect for a moment on a time where your state of mind impacted how you felt physically. Negative, sad news, which stopped your digestion and ceased your hunger. Frustration and anger that resulted in red eyes or a rash. Subtle transitions of thoughts and emotions that manifest into physical conditions. The complexity of our emotions and how they translate into the tissues is something that Ayurveda addresses through divine presence, breath, yoga and daily practices which cleanse and nourish the senses and calm the nervous system.
As we look for ways to move gracefully through this life, we seek the lense which provides us with the view that allows us to accept, let go and relieve desire.
Yoga Nidra, Meditation, restorative practices which open our mind to uncluttered thought, relieved from judgment and critical thought. Sometimes it can be as simple as the power of suggestion.
My friends daughter launched this project last year. EWOP Vision
Helping us all see that "Everything is Working Out Perfectly"
From the website:
The EWOP Vision Glasses: To aid us in times of need, when we can't see EWOP, (like getting a flat tire, losing a job or spilling catchup on a new dress), special glasses were developed which help the participant to see that all is in fact perfect.
How they work: When something is happening that is not desired, simply take a few deep breaths, close your eyes, put on the EWOP Vision glasses, open your eyes and pause, in a few moments ponder why the situation at hand may be in fact for your personal best interest.
State of mind ~ we can manage this in many ways, but first we must set the intention and then we can grow the practice of a healthy state of mind that can aid us in overall physical wellness. A healthy state of mind creates the foundation for all healing.
In a recent interview with Dr. Jay Glaser, Diana Lurie asked the author, educator, physician and role model, many interesting questions about how Ayurveda has entered and evoloved with his personal pursuit of health sciences.
(The interview is published in the Light on Ayurveda Journal, Vol. XI, Issue 1, Fall 2012)
The Light on Ayurveda Journal is a peer-reviewed and published quarterly by the Center for Indic Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Dr. Jay Glaser has been active on the editorial board of Light on Ayurveda Journal since 2004 and on the board of directors for Light on Ayurveda Education Foundation since its inception. This publication is the foremost Ayuvedic resource in the United States and provides the Ayurvedic community, world wide, with current day relavance to this ancient science. There are four publications a year and the call for papers is published at www.loaj.com
Dr. Jay Glaser is board certified in internal medicine, and a member of the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Glaser practices hospital medicine at UMass HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominister, Massachusetts and he received his medical training at Dartmouth College, the University of Colorado School of Medicine and McGill University. One of the first Western physicians to study and practice Ayurvedic medicine, he has authored numerous original research studies on the physiology of meditation and Ayurveda. His recent book, Body renewal: the Lost Art of Self Repair (Lotus Press), oriented to practitioners and health consumers alike, has received high critical acclaim.
When Diana asked Dr. Glaser about how Ayurveda was received by his medical school in Colorado, upon his first submission of a journal of his experiences with Ayurveda, Dr. Glaser stated that his paper was applauded as a fine historical presentation of a quaint but vestigial art that lacked modern relevance. An animated debate ensued when he countered that Ayurveda was exactly what was missing from the modern curriculum. Dr. Glaser has noted that he was almost thrown out of his obstetrics rotation when he advocated for breastfeeding, a practice that at that time was discouraged in modern hospitals. Dr. Glaser then decided to not make waves promoting Ayurveda and to wait for the medical community was more open-minded.
Dr. Glaser feels that Ayurveda is part of an extended family of Vedic sciences that offer the patient and provider an integrated vision of humankind and its connection with the universe. Dr. Glaser notes that other systems lack consistent theoretical principles or are lone souls unrelated to other sciences of healing. If you study the Vedic sciences you can find disciplines describing your spiritual nature from different perspectives, your relationships with the other plants and animals, the foundation for the rules of right conduct which provide a basis for bioethics including how to make life and death decisions.
Within Dr. Glaser's book, Body Renewal: The Lost Art of Self-Repair gives many examples of successful Ayurvedic approaches to modern ailments. He also addresses how many chronic conditions respond to a well-conceived set of treatment strategies aimed at the underlying pathology of the disease and at the relief of symptoms. Dr. Glaser acknowledges where emergency allopathic medicine has its place with treating acute illnesses like appendicitis, heart attack and pneumonia. Dr. Glaser conceived the Body Renewal book to address the chronic diseases nearly everyone eventually gets because other books on Ayurvedic practice mostly describe how a vaidya in a village in India might deal with an acute condition like a bloody cough. He states that most traditional books do not address the relevant problems a Western Ayurvedic practitioner encounters in their daily practice. In Body Renewal he describes how you can continue your antihypertensive medication while you are introducing into your life evidence-based Ayurvedic strategies for reducing blood pressure such as meditation, yoga, dietary changes, exercise, and herbs, thus permitting you to cut back and eventually discontinue your medication. Dr. Glaser notes that when chronic disorders have a strong psychological or behavioral component, they are even more amenable to Vedic approaches and more resistant to Western ones, including obesity, addictions, depression, and functional digestive problems.
Dr. Glaser does feel that Ayurvedic practitioners should learn Sanskrit to memorize and understand the important slokas, but this should not be imposed by the government. He states that if serious practitioners continue to study Ayurveda and other Vedic sciences properly, and if they meditate, practice yoga and live an integrated Vedic life, they will never be lacking in Rogi (patients).
Dr. Glaser has recently chosen to cease seeing individuals for either standard medicine or for consultations in Ayurvedic medicine so that he can put his knowledge and skill he has accumulated into three new channels:
- Publishing and giving seminars
- Doing original research
- Bringing the principles and ethics of Vedic medicine into the mainstream medical system
You can learn more about Dr. Glaser on his website: http://bodyrenewalbook.com/ayurvedamed/
Book information: http://bodyrenewalbook.com/
One of my larger adventures in Ayurveda has included the exploration of the manas - the mind - and how our thoughts, feelings and experiences impact our physical being. Every piece of pathology has the aspect of where the mind plays into the disease. One of my favorite lines, "What we see in the mind today, we see in the body tomorrow," can be truly profound IF you are tuned in. When we are tuned in to the signs and symptoms our body offers as messages of imbalance we quickly see this impact, but when the senses are dull and unattended or misused, we miss these indications.
The goal of life is simply becoming healthy and happy. Mindfully feeding our body, mind and soul. Healthy thoughts, laughing with friends, contributing to this world with love and compassion. Cosmologically we are handed on a path that can be influenced and altered on some levels and how we view this opportunity will aid us in the process of having a healthy mind.
This past weekend I spent some time with Dr. Sarita Shrestha as she reviewed the Ayurvedic view on allergies and immunity. I was prepared for the discussion to define the samprapti (pathology) of vata pushing kapha and the imbalance of the dhatus (tissues) that contributes to the susceptibility to allergies as a physical body. What I was not expecting to digest was the aspect of fear and phobias that drive the physical response of allergies in the body. The impact of how the mind is the driving force to allergic states. I immediately challenged this with an example of my friends daughter who from an early age had severe asthma attacks and anaphylactic shock from exposure to peanuts. Where is the phobia or fear for a small child? Why peanuts for this child and lactose for that child? This is not a short answer of course. My Western scientific molecular upbringing caused me to want more information. What is the chemistry behind our thoughts, fears/phobias? It was clear by the environment of this workshop that I needed to walk away with these questions unanswered. This is something for me to unpack through this science of life. Simply placing this concept on the table to view in my Rogi (clients), teachers, friends and relatives. I'm looking forward to this next journey with Ayurveda.
HOT YOGA? Maybe not - What is YOUR appropriate yoga practice?
Don't get me wrong, I love yoga, but we have lost the core structure of this ancient sister science of Ayurveda. Bringing ourselves to the root knowledge of our unique selves will help enable us to find the appropriate yoga practice.
The book Yoga for your Type, Dr. David Frawley, outlines the many methods for a custom yoga practice based on the laws of the universe and the inner process of cosmogenesis that holds the keys to all our unique transformations. The two systems of Ayurveda and Yoga have maintained a long and intimate history, interacting upon and enhancing one another up to the present day.
Begin with researching what your body needs. By knowing your constitution (Prakruti), what are your imbalances (Vikruti) are and connecting with this chemistry will allow you to make better decisions about your yoga practice.
Things to consider:
- Body Type
- Time of day for yoga practice
- Yoga style
- Temperature of room
Once you have dertermined your personal element/doshic balance, you can begin to custom design your practice. Selecting a yoga teacher that is educated in Ayurveda will ensure your practice provides modifications for not just physical injuries or limitations, but also for your personal body type needs.
Ayurvedic Yoga Video Options:
Madhuri Phillips offers an Ayurvedic overview and custom guidelines on her video: An Ayurvedic Yoga Practice
Madhuri's video covers:
- An introductory lecture on Ayurveda and how it is relevant to you!
- A 10 page booklet including a dosha checklist to analyze your own Ayurvedic constitution
- 3 different yoga classes for vata (to de-stress and relax), pitta (to cool and calm), and kapha (to invigorate and energize)
- Pranayama breathing practices suited for each dosha
- Chanting and meditation for all doshas
- This DVD is suitable for all levels
Another great option by Juliet Jivanti: Ayurvedic Yoga For Your Body Type
Juliet's video covers:
- This DVD has three sequences: one for each body type (dosha), Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The Vata sequence is rejuvenating and grounding, the Pitta sequence is cooling and soothing and the Kapha sequence is energizing and uplifting
- Each sequence is approximately 30 minutes long
- These sequences are for all levels of yoga practitioners
One of my teachers, Mas Vidal, also has a new Ayurvedic Yoga video: Mas Vidal's Optimum Yoga & Ayurveda
Mas's video covers:
- Air - Fire - Water element based series
- Each series if focused on the unique qualities of a Vata - air - Pitta - Fire - Kapha - Water
- Appropriate for all levels of yoga practice
Hot Yoga Soap Box:
Hot Yoga most certainly can provide some benefits for some body types. Here are some lovely benefits that can be found on many Hot Yoga practice websites(along with some added Ayurvedic commentary:
"The heat has many benefits ..."
The heat means we can get into postures more deeply and effectively (Great for Kapha body types, possibly causing injury for Vata body types) - plus the benefits of the postures come quickly (take a look at a bell curve on progress and consider the downside of fast burnout). Like thousands before you, you will find that practising yoga in the warm room creates a satisfying and almost addictive feeling of achievement. (For some Kapha and Vata body types, depending on current imbalance state - the addictive feeling is called an imbalance)
The benefits are many:
- Your body burns fat more effectively, fat may be redistributed and burned as energy during the class. It is common to lose centimetres of shape in a very short time (for a Kapha body type this is acceptable, for Vata and Pitta this can be quite disruptive to cellular health and metabolism)
- The heat produces a fluid-like stretch allowing for greater range of movement in joints, muscles, ligaments and other supporting structures of the body (Correct, but it also may be vitiating for Pitta predominates)
- Capillaries dilate in the heat; more effectively oxygenating the tissues, muscles, glands and organs and helping in the removal of waste products (True, but this can be achieved without the addition of external heat, through the asana practice itself).
- Your peripheral circulation improves due to enhanced perfusion of your extremities (Also achieved through a yoga practice which does not have increased external heat)
- Your metabolism speeds up the breakdown of glucose and fatty acids (Correct, this is not a result of the hot room though, it is from the yoga asana practice)
- You benefit from a strengthening of willpower, self control, concentration and determination in this challenging environment (State of mind, yoga asana provides this without the heated room)
- Your cardiovascular system gets a thorough workout (Great! same same)
- Your muscles and connective tissue become more elastic and allow for greater flexibility with less chance of injury and improved resolution of injury (Yes! Just as any non-heated yoga practice provides)
- Sweating promotes detoxification and elimination through the skin - which is the body's largest eliminating organ (It sure does, but some Pitta body types perspire enough on their own and may experience dehydration from a heated practice)
- Just as when your body raises its temperature to fight infection, the raised temperature in the room will assist in improving T-cell function and the proper functioning of your immune system (Also achieved with a standard yoga practice in a non-heated room)
- Your nervous system function is greatly improved and messages are carried more efficiently to and from your brain (Because of a heated yoga practice? I am pretty sure that message is, "If you are a pitta predominant, you are going to be light headed and nauseous very soon.")
- Metabolism improves in your digestive system and in the body's cells (that is food in the gut and nutrients in the cells) (Once again, this is not due to a hot room while practicing yoga. This is the natural physical response from a proper yoga asana routine).
With the current day world of yoga that we live within - it is important to know that there are many patented versions available to us that might be worth exploring. The best way to begin is by knowing your personal needs and chemistry. Ayurveda will provide this knowledge for you and allow you to safely proceed with your yoga journey. Explore your personal body type through one of the many wonderful books we have today (recommended reading section of this website) or see your local Ayurvedic ND/ARNP/MD/BAMS/Practitioner.