By Myra Lewin
Why do you seek transformation?
What does transformation mean, really? Transformation implies deep change. Real change. Change that feels true and lasting. Transformation is about letting go of what you don’t need and creating space for the new. It’s about redefinition, renewal and regeneration. Transformation is inherent in the process of creation and destruction, and that’s why we’re here in this life - to continually open ourselves up to new experiences that we can enjoy and grow from.
By Myra Lewin
A man came to stay with us at the urging of his wife, who is a regular guest. He was used to a diet of meat, spicy foods and alcohol and a busy lifestyle filled with things to do and see. After just a week of taking part in morning practices, meals of Ayurvedic food, and being surrounded by the natural world, he said with surprise that he felt 10 years younger.
The recovery that is possible through Ayurveda and Yoga is remarkable. As our guest found, making simple adjustments in what we eat, how we live and where we put our focus is enough to make a person find a new experience of being alive. Often times we do little more than remove what is getting in the way of health and inner peace. This allows us to use the senses wisely and start a journey to true health.
By Lisa Day-Lewis
As a mental health counselor working in a public school system, I am often challenged with not having effective immediate interventions for the children I work with. Through my education I was trained in therapies and techniques that were really designed to be delivered in weekly one-hour sessions over a period of months, beginning with rapport building and laying out a series of goals and objectives. Unfortunately the time I end up having to work with kids is typically only 5-20 minutes, and the goal is usually to get them back attending in the classroom. Truth be told, aside from the time limitations, I have often questioned the efficacy of many traditional Western counseling techniques when applied to kids. My question lies not so much in the techniques themselves, but in whether children are equipped to learn and utilize them. In today’s world, are we nourishing children in body and mind such that they will be successful at life, let alone school? That is the question that has led me to shift the focus of my interventions to incorporate Ayurveda.
By Myra Lewin
A client recently came to me wanting to learn how to meditate. I flew to his home in Hong Kong to spend a week with him and his family. However, our first meeting together did not involve sitting down on his meditation cushion. Instead, I began by teaching his family about Ayurvedic cooking.
My client was seeking meditation to relieve the stress of his day. He wanted a greater connection to his higher self and for his mind to soften. I shared with him that the connection and softening of the mind is aided by a holistic practice that includes an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle. This is the purpose of Ayurveda -- it is a way of living that promotes greater consciousness. When my client experienced the tools of Yoga and Ayurveda together, incredible results followed for everyone in his home.
By Myra Lewin
It’s September, and about midway through the month marked the transition to vata season. Even here in Hawai’i, I can feel the warmth of the summer pulling away as the days become just a bit shorter. Where you live, the first frost might already be on the ground.
This time of year is when nature begins to turn inward, a natural response to balance the moving quality of vata. It makes sense that you also want to follow suit. You may find yourself wanting to stay in a bit more and focus on taking care of yourself. You may be inspired to pull out your roasting dish to bake pumpkin until it is tender and delicious. Follow your inner wisdom to relax and welcome nourishment.
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.
I have been practicing pranayama and meditation for a few years. In the beginning, I would find space for practice beside my bed or in the middle of our living room while the house was still asleep. When we moved, I found space in our spare room in the basement. I was excited to designate a space for my practice. The practice itself was relatively new to me, not very comfortable, like the space itself (being in the basement), but I continued. I continued because I enjoyed my days more when I did practice. Naturally, I also tried to find a way to share it with my family. One idea was that I would hold Yoga classes on Saturdays. My son, quite young at the time, would peek around while in meditation (I knew this only because I was peeking at him myself).
In the end, the organized family sessions did not find their way into our daily routine. I realized that it was challenging enough for me to stay consistent with my own practice without organizing others to do the same. Deep down I knew it was changing me even if I could not put my finger on as to how. And, every once in awhile, my daughter would find me and join, simply intrigued.
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.
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.
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.
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 Robin Stamp
It gets easier the moment my feet hit the floor. In the dim light before sunrise, I can feel the grounding energy running through the souls of my feet. I immediately feel more connected. Waking with the natural rhythm is the heartbeat of my day, guiding me and giving me the energy I need to thrive.
It didn't used to be this way. For most of my life I was a nighthawk. My time to shine was between happy hour and 2:00 a.m. I lived on debates fueled by alcohol, spicy food and politics. This is when I thought I was at my best. I sacrificed my mornings for this time; I never took a meeting before 10:00 a.m. I sacrificed the middle of my day too, finding myself in need of a nap after lunch pretty much every day. I thought I was supposed to live this way, because everyone else around me was. And this way of living didn’t seem to be broken. I was successful in my work in politics, I served my community by sitting on the school board and was on my way to fulfilling my dream of going to law school.
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
Health is found in a place between extremes. It is a place of not too much, not too little. It looks like eating enough simple food, getting enough movement in your body, devoting enough time to spiritual development and spending enough time with positive community. What is “enough” depends entirely on your unique needs – there is no other guide than the one within to identify your limits.
Finding your place of balance is easier when you cultivate a regular meditation practice. Think of it as a training ground for your mind, a way to experience your stillness to allow your inner voice to speak. Follow your breath consciously and do nothing but be. With a regular practice, it soon becomes easier to make choices that lead to greater balance in all areas of your life.
One of the most revered ancient texts on Yoga, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, has 196 sutras, or small threads of wisdom, about the practice of Yoga. Did you know that only four of these talk about asana, or the physical postures that most people associate with Yoga?
By Myra Lewin
I speak with a lot of people about the value of a daily meditation practice. Much of the time I get an initial response of, “I just can’t turn off my head.” My response: This is exactly the reason you need meditation. From this place, you can begin to connect with your heart.
At the beginning of each Hale Pule Yoga teacher training, we take photos of the students upon arrival. At the end of the training we take a second picture. After one month of immersion in the teachings of Yoga, the differences are striking. They see how their posture changes as they break through limiting patterns in other areas of their life. For instance, a forward head position can signal fear and distrust (on the lookout for danger), or slouched shoulders can be a sign of insecurity or self-judgment, which is tamas, darkness and inertia. As the students clear fear and distrust by pointing rajas (activity) toward sattva (light), their energy flows and alignment becomes more natural. This is a good reminder of how Yoga affects every aspect of life.
By Shannon Wianecki
Before attending my first silent retreat, I wondered: what would happen? Would I go stir crazy? Would I be shocked by what I discovered inside myself? That was 10 years ago. I was a beginning yoga and meditation student and the idea of being totally silent, alone with my thoughts for nine days sounded both enticing and terrifying.