By Myra Lewin
As I write this, I am in Vietnam listening to a beautiful symphony of frogs, crickets, waterfalls and who knows what else.
Listening to this song outside my hotel room is a good reminder of how much I enjoy traveling. But over the past few decades, as I made spiritual growth my main priority, the way I travelled began to change. I still love visiting new places, but I don’t spend my time running from one activity to the next or eating big meals in fine restaurants. These days, I bring my spiritual practices with me (along with a small rice cooker for hotel room kitchadi) and enjoy the wonder of being surrounded by new sights, sounds and experiences. Gone are the days when I ended my vacations so exhausted that the only way I could feel better was by planning the next one. Now, I come home filled with more energy and a deeper connection to my path.
By Noriko Morimoto
I had always heard that a woman’s menstrual cycle goes for about 28 to 30 days. But since I first started my period, I have never enjoyed that kind of regularity. There were times when I would have my period just once a year. When it did come, it was preceded by extreme PMS. Sometimes I would experience depression so heavy that I would have suicidal thoughts. These intense emotions would go away as soon as my period came, leaving me confused and scared for the next time. This was no way to live.
It’s no fun to practice Yoga out of habit. Each time you unroll your mat is an opportunity to find freshness and joy. When you find yourself in a rut, give birth to a new experience with a fun pose like garbhapindasana, or embryo in the womb pose.
Garbhapindasana is great for bringing in a childlike sense of joy. As you rock back and forth around your mat (one time for each month of gestation), you can't help but smile, let go and enjoy the twists and turns of life. As you come out of the pose and into kukutasana, or rooster pose, you are reborn into a new experience of yourself.
By Nafisseh Soroudi
I have a cousin who regularly goes to India to do panchakarma. As a long-timer New Yorker, she says this practice is what keeps her sane. I was intrigued by her experience but had not considered it for myself until I began to experience some digestive and emotional issues that I wanted to get to the heart of.
I found Hale Pule’s program and was attracted to Myra Lewin’s wisdom. I wanted to learn from her and heal my body at the same time. I signed up for panchakarma with these priorities.
It may surprise you to learn that eating an Ayurvedic diet means you get to enjoy your food -- perhaps more than you ever have. That’s because true enjoyment comes from eating in a way that nourishes your body and mind.
Using Ayurvedic spices for balance
Ayurvedic wisdom says that you should enjoy your food five times: planning it, preparing it, cooking it, eating it and digesting it (although we added a sixth way in our most recent Ayurvedic chef training: serving it). At each step, you have the opportunity to engage your senses to get the most out of the experience. Your food should look and smell wonderful. It should taste delicious and you should feel better for having cooked it and eaten it. A sure way to enjoy each step is to include Ayurvedic spices in every meal.
Yoga asana is a powerful form of exercise. When you practice in a sattvic, or balanced, manner, it works the muscles of the body, mind and spirit. Yoga asana awakens and lightens all parts of being, which is what makes it the perfect form of exercise for pitta dosha.
Pitta likes challenge, but when it is out of balance, this zest for life can turn to competition and pushing oneself beyond capable limits. Daily asana practice, a wonderful companion to a pitta-balancing diet and lifestyle, provides space to exercise pitta’s mental and physical strength in a harmonious way.
What does it mean to digest? It’s easy to define this concept as simply the process of turning the food you eat into nutrients. But we are holistic beings, so it follows that digestion happens on a holistic level. All of our experiences, whether they are on our plates or in our lives, must be transformed to a state in which we can use them.
Pitta dosha is responsible for digestion, both in the body and the mind. Just as this dosha transforms rice into nourishment for your body, it transforms experiences into samskara, or impressions. When experiences are digested properly, meaning you have allowed an emotional response to move through you, you clear old samskara or create new, more positive ones that guide you along your path. But if you become stuck on something in the past or breeze past an experience without fully digesting it, you create new samskara that makes it difficult to move forward in life.