Intuition and intellect, feminine and masculine, moon and sun, night and day. Throughout the universe, pairs of opposing qualities combine in a dynamic dance. Ayurveda recognizes the value of this interplay of opposites in the environment and within our being. In fact, the idea that the opposite brings balance is a central principle in Ayurvedic healing. We can apply this concept to our diet, to our activities and perhaps most important of all, to how we manage our energy.
Prana is life force. It is the energy that creates and sustains us. When prana flows easily through all parts of our beings, life unfolds with greater ease. Pranayama, one of the eight limbs of Yoga, is a powerful set of practices that harnesses and directs prana to flow the way it is intended. A consistent and balanced pranayama practice can correct emotional and physical disturbances, calm the doshas and support spiritual awakening.
Because it is so powerful, it’s best to learn advanced pranayama practices from an experienced teacher, but there are a few practices that are simple enough to share online. We have posted on bhramari and a version of nadi shodhana. A few months ago, we also shared the practice of yoni mudra as an additional way to direct your flow of energy and connect to your higher self within. This month, we offer one additional pranayama practice that is designed to disperse excess heat in the body and mind.
Each of us began in the womb -- a place where our senses were protected and our attention drawn inward. But when we were born, we entered a world with an onslaught of sensory experiences. There are billions of things to see, touch, taste, feel and hear. Most of them are not worth our attention.
Allowed to move unchecked, our senses pull us around, making us do things that are not always aligned to our greatest good. But when we bring our attention inside, withdrawing the senses (the Yogic practice called pratyahara), we learn to turn away from cravings and desires.
By Myra Lewin
Ayurveda and Yoga offer a wealth of information about how to live a better life. Yet students who attend our trainings are often surprised to hear me tell them that I don’t expect them to change everything the minute they return home. Rather than trying to completely overhaul their lives overnight, I suggest they pick 2 to 3 changes they are willing to commit to. When those are comfortable, add a few more. This kind of steady walk toward greater health and well-being is how the practices were meant to be experienced.
Transitioning to Ayurveda and Yoga
The purpose of Ayurveda and Yoga is to allow us to remember our true selves, but this uncovering happens when it is sustained over months and years, not days.
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.
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.
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 Susan Barozzi
I first came to Hale Pule in the spring of 2016. Before that, I had spent many years being told by various practitioners that I was allergic to many of the foods I was eating, or that I was prone to candida overgrowth and had parasites with no apparent symptoms. I had also been plagued with low blood sugar issues and was told to eat snacks every hour or two to keep my blood sugar up. Being one of the “sensitive types” I found I was easily overwhelmed by life’s challenges and had a tendency to worry about things more than I would have liked. I decided that I was ready for a new story. I wanted to heal my relationship with food.
Step 12 is incredibly powerful because it has three steps within it. It involves working the previous eleven steps, being of service by sharing what we have learned and to continue practicing these principles for the rest of our lives. Practicing for the rest of our lives is the most important guiding principle of life, as well as the steps.
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
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?
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?”
By Stephanie Stillman
It’s simple: we inhale and we exhale. When I flow freely through emotions and life, my breath flows freely through each inhale and exhale. When I attach to fear and uncomfortable emotions, my diaphragm tenses and my breath is restricted. The breath is our prana, our life force. It’s a tool we have to see what’s really happening inside on a mental and emotional level. Knowing the power of the breath now, it’s no wonder to me why I felt so disconnected in my life — I had never felt connection with my breath.
With more than 5,000 years of history, Yoga is having a resurgence in modern times. In fact, in nearly every city and town, we are fortunate to find a range of Yoga studios. As more people roll out their mats and practice finding physical flexibility in a class, we have the opportunity to rediscover the many other aspects of this beautiful science that can help us find mental and spiritual flexibility.
The holidays: Everyone’s favorite time to relax and reflect upon the year behind us. Or…maybe not.
The winter holiday season usually means a time of frantic decoration, overeating at parties, endless shopping and exhausting travel. Overactivity, especially during the vata season of the year, causes imbalance that leads to illness, fatigue and the customary New Year’s resolutions to regain health. But just because it is that way for some, it doesn’t have to be the case for you.
When people talk about luck, they usually regard it as something that exists outside of themselves. The typical view is that luck is random, that some people are just “born lucky.” But the truth is that we contribute to everything we experience in life. Each of us has an innate ability to create the lives we want to live.
Karma is a simple principle of cause and effect that reminds us of our powerful creative abilities. It takes the mystery out of luck. Understanding it will allow you to shape your experiences in life.