By Myra Lewin
I recently worked with a woman who had experienced great health all through her life. Yet she had recently begun to experience symptoms associated with menopause -- hot flashes, weight gain and a scattered mind. After talking through her relatively balanced diet and lifestyle, we centered upon one small, but significant factor that was getting in the way of a balanced transition to maturity: an insulated bottle that she always kept filled with ice cold water.
From a distance, drinking out of an insulated bottle seems far too insignificant a factor to cause menopausal symptoms. But cold beverages restrict and weaken agni, digestive fire. Over a few years of using this bottle daily, the ice cold water had reduced her ability to digest food and life experiences. This created dosha imbalance and her health issues.
By Myra Lewin
I recently found an old box filled with photographs of my life. I found headshots from my time as a corporate executive, pictures of me at holiday parties and a few childhood photos from the black-and-white days. I also found this photo below, taken just after I had left the corporate world and set out to build my life upon healing.
By Myra Lewin
One of my favorite parts of leading our Yoga and Ayurveda teacher trainings is watching our students undergo incredible transformations. Every person is a little different, but after seeing hundreds of these transformations, I find that those who undergo the greatest shifts approach their learning without expectations. They look at their time with us as an experience that will lead them to their next step, even if that step isn’t quite clear at the beginning. They come with a willingness to let go of what they think they know, and emerge a more refined version of who they really are.
There is another big difference in these students -- they realize that learning is not just something they do in a training; it is a way of living. If you are studying Ayurveda and Yoga, or simply want to enjoy more out of life, this approach is the best way to see how deep the healing can be.
Life offers many choices. Some of them move you along your path, others are just distractions. Be open to anything, but don’t feel pulled to follow every left turn that appears before you. You’ll end up moving in circles.
Sometimes, you reach a crossroads where it’s unclear which direction you should follow. Before you take a step in any direction, seek clarity. Go within, practice matsyasana, or fish pose, and find the trusted guide of your higher self.
A student came to one of our recent Yoga and Ayurveda teacher trainings wearing a corset. It was meant to prevent back pain from a slipped disc, an injury that had occurred (and healed) many years before. She had become so accustomed to the idea that she would be in pain without this support that she never questioned whether or not this was actually true.
By Myra Lewin
To be a human is to be in a state of constant change. From the moment we are born, we are dying. Every moment that passes creates some shift of energy, time or feeling. Even your body, as stable as it might appear, is in a state of constant renewal. But beneath all this change lies one thing that is steady and constant: you, as eternal spirit.
The purpose of all the practices of Ayurveda and Yoga -- meditation, mantra, eating for balance -- is to remember who you really are. As you come to know yourself as eternal spirit, you will learn to allow your true nature, not one of the many masks you wear, to guide your life. This creates joy and fulfillment beyond what you could ever imagine otherwise.
Pain, whether chronic or infrequent, mental or physical, is a greatly misunderstood part of the human experience. Most people want more pleasure and less pain, but when you tune in to the messages that pain is attempting to show, it can become a tool to reach moksha, or liberation in life.
The practice of Ayurveda offers a fresh perspective on how to manage pain in your life. By seeing yourself as a holistic being, you’ll see how the mind, body and spirit work together to create pain, and how you can use all these parts of you to heal from the inside out.
This is the first in a three-part blog series on how to reframe your perspective on pain and natural pain relief. In each, we’ll share Ayurvedic wisdom on pain and offer simple techniques to help you feel better for your entire life.
Is it possible to live in the modern world while maintaining a spiritual focus? Of course. Cultivate consciousness through regular spiritual practice and bring that into everything, everyday.
Cooking can be a spiritual act with that intention. That means turning off the cooking shows, putting away cookbooks with complicated recipes, and moving into your heart, where you have all the information you need to create simple, healing food. Allow your spirit to lead the process and you will be satisfied every time.
A few weeks ago in our post about a kapha-balancing diet, we shared how kapha is the dosha with the fewest diseases associated. Kapha’s earth and water elements are stable by nature and less prone to go out of balance than vata’s air or pitta’s fire. This is why people with dominant kapha in their constitutions tend to live long, healthy lives. However, one factor can easily aggravate kapha, and it is quite common in our modern lifestyle: sedentary living.
By Myra Lewin
People often come to Yoga and Ayurveda seeking big changes in their lives, but the most profound changes that can happen are usually found on the subtle, energetic level.
Even if you don’t notice the energetic parts of life, they are part of everything you experience. This is why we say in Ayurveda that everything you do has an imprint on your health and well-being. Because we are only taught to notice the physical aspects of life, they can obscure our view of the energy of a situation. But the subtle level is always working and influencing how you feel and act. If you only give attention to the cause and effect at the surface level, you’ll never see the whole picture of life.
By Myra Lewin
Love is simple, yet it has become a bit of a riddle: We seek it, but we already are it. And as soon as we see how much we have, we easily attract more.
Of course I am talking about real love, which is an expression of the divine within. Every relationship you have with another person is a representation of your relationship with the God of your heart, so it’s important to cultivate that connection with tender commitment. We are love. Once you recognize that, you will be able to share your love unselfishly with another.
Movement is what defines Yoga asana, yet its purpose is to bring about stillness. When you move your body in the right ways, you can grow comfortable enough in it to sit for meditation. Making time for the stillness of meditation is how you will learn to master the impulses of your mind and meet the wonders of the world within.
Some poses are designed to cultivate that stillness directly. Siddhasana, or accomplished pose, is one. Add this pose to the beginning or end of your practice (and include the mudra and mantra we’ve outlined below) and you’ll discover Yoga’s true beauty – connecting with the divine within.
Some days your cup feels full. You feel alive and whole and thoroughly grateful for what you have. Other days, your cup feels depleted. You gave too much without replenishing, and you feel tired and worn. These are times you need to recharge your body and mind, to get back to your true state of health and vitality. Tonight, fill your cup with warm, spiced milk.
When people come to Hale Pule Ayurveda and Yoga trainings, they often ask how we can make our food so delicious when it is prepared so simply. We say that our secret ingredient is sattva.
Sattva, or balance and harmony, is a principle in nature and all parts of life. It is the energy of sweetness in life, bringing us closer to the divine. When you cultivate this quality in your kitchen, the food you make will be much more than a delicious meal -- it will be an adventure in healing.
By Myra Lewin
This is a time of year when many people realize that their life needs a different direction. Often, this results in a flurry of resolutions to lose weight, get a new job or find a new relationship. People jump into these changes, but many become disillusioned when things don’t progress as quickly as they had hoped.
Before you head down that road, consider this: The act of setting direction for your life can’t just happen once a year. It is a lifelong process that unfolds each day. Life is not shaped by short-term sprints toward something outside of yourself, but by setting intentions, which are conscious shifts in the way you approach life.
By Myra Lewin
You can be in fear or faith, but never both at once. One represents resistance, and the other is flow. From moment to moment, we make decisions about the direction we choose. What we practice is what we experience.
I witnessed this in my own life some time ago. For many years, I worked in a corporate environment, all the while knowing that I wanted to own my own business. About halfway through my corporate career, I had an opportunity to branch out on my own. Choosing to branch out required faith, but even though it was dream I’d been waiting for, I let fear of leaving a steady paycheck win at that moment and remained in the corporate world.
By Myra Lewin
Many years ago, I left my career as a corporate executive in order to seek a meaningful life through Yoga. I knew this would be a big transition, but I was not prepared for the realities of losing the identity I had previously known.
I was driving on the freeway one day during the height of this life change when I suddenly felt very dizzy. I quickly pulled the car over and sat on the side of the road. As I listened to the traffic buzzing by me, I felt completely empty and lost. I knew this was the direction I wanted to go, but my new life meant I was making one tenth of my previous salary and had none of the perks that come with a powerful job. I had spent most of my life working and going from one vacation to the next, always looking for the next big thing to occupy my thoughts. Wanting was my typical state of mind, but I finally realized that what I wanted was to no longer want.
By Myra Lewin
What you plant is what you will ultimately harvest. Autumn’s transition is a natural time to go within and look at the fields you have been tending. Are these the kinds of crops you want to keep growing?
Each of us has the ability to plant seeds that lead to true health and harmony. Yet with so many distractions inside and out, it can be easy to find yourself stuck and unsure how to shift directions. Simply put: begin where you are. Observe how you got here and then make the conscious choice to point yourself in a different direction if you don’t like the results you’re getting.
Think of life like a river. When you relax into the current, it flows easily. But if you decide to get out of the river and go ashore, you’ll have to work against the flow to get yourself out of the stream. The path won’t be as smooth or comfortable and you’ll find it’s a whole lot more work to move forward. When you slide back into the river, you rejoin the flow and things are easy again. Taking Step 11 allows us to live in the divine flow of the river of life.
By Dhokela Yzeiraj
I learned about Hale Pule through a friend who had spent a month on Durga Farms and came back completely different. She talked about bringing consciousness and sacredness to our food consumption – an idea that was quite foreign to me. I was in college at the time, and the dining halls at our school were a place where my mind was more caught up on the social scene and wanting to fit in, rather than taking the time to consider how my food affected me. She shared the knowledge of light from Hale Pule and inspired me to want to know more. I considered applying to become a farmer on Durga Farms, but my insecurity of not being good enough and my pride of being too good got in the way.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “let go” and wondered how, exactly, that is supposed to happen?
Most people understand that they bring the effects of past experiences into present life. Many see the effects of these experiences getting in the way of the life they want to live. But without a way to release, they struggle to let go of old ideas and impressions.
By Myra Lewin
I have studied with many people of great mastery in Ayurveda and Yoga. Yet of all the teachers and healers I have met and all the wisdom I have been introduced to, I have found that the most important part of any educational pursuit is the choices I make with this new information.
It’s easy to attend a training or receive a healing. It’s easy to feel inspiration and enthusiasm from what you’ve learned. The challenging part is what happens when you return home. Will you make the choice to shift your life or keep things the same?
By Myra Lewin
I didn’t start studying Ayurveda and Yoga with the intention of creating a learning community like Hale Pule Ayurveda and Yoga. I began this work to find a path to my own healing.
I was just 30 years old when I found myself wrestling with a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. I made the choice to find another direction for healing than the one Western medicine was offering me. I came upon a path to health, as well as a path to Self, through Ayurveda and Yoga.
It was New Year’s Eve. I was in a strange house in Maui. My teacher, whom I had met in person just two days before when I arrived from Canada, slept a few rooms away. It was late and the house was silent. I lay in bed, feeling like I was going to jump out of my skin. Tomorrow, January 1, 2010, I would begin my first silent retreat at Hale Pule. This was my opportunity, as a Yoga student and teacher, to become a yogini – to embrace the practices of Yoga and Ayurveda as the foundation for my life. But that would mean letting go, and in the darkness of that room, that felt very scary to me. My mind raced: “Are you sure you want to do this? Are you sure you want to take this direction with your life?”
You peer into the mirror. There are new lines around your eyes. You see a few new white hairs popping out from your scalp. The universe is giving you a choice here: you can either resist the aging process with chemicals, surgery and fear, or you can simply accept the changes as a reflection that you, too, are a part of nature.
Everything in nature ages, including us. But aging doesn’t have to be scary (no matter what the advertisements may say). In fact, it can be a lovely, natural experience. And, by finding balance in your body and mind and embracing changes as they come, you may find that you can actually feel better with age.
Ayurveda and Yoga can serve as guides to help you feel stronger, more confident and secure as you progress in the natural process of life.