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.