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 Karla Dixon
Bananas Foster. Just typing the words makes my mouth water and ignites such fond, sweet memories.
Childhood dinners, all dressed up, out with the family. Topping the evening with the infamous flaming Bananas Foster prepared tableside.
My dear friend Frankie (sadly gone from this world), who used to make it for me in my 20s after the spectacular, sumptuous, over-the-top dinner parties we would throw.
Then, the silent ashram, pre-dawn....wait....what?
Yes! It's true! Having recently completed my Yoga teacher training at Hale Pule, I literally cried when this delicious treat was offered for breakfast a few weeks into the intensive program.
Now that I am home, we have them for breakfast a few sweet mornings a week. Here is the recipe for no sugar, HEALTHY cooked bananas that will bring you back to those decadent occasions in just one bite. I promise. Eat slowly. Savor. Chew your food. And enjoy!
By Sonja Semion
I used to be the type of person who was offended at any notion that I should rise before 10:00 a.m. From ages 11 to 25, I stayed in bed most days until about 10:00 a.m., then stumbled around in my pajamas until I decided it was finally time to do something with the day. Often, by the time I made it out the door, I found that the day had long since passed.
This woman who used to shuffle through life has long since been transformed. When I traded my late nights for early days, I found something quite fascinating: I actually enjoy the silence of the mornings. When I began setting my alarm to make it to 6:00 a.m. yoga asana classes, I knew that something had shifted in me that would never go back.
Good thing, because when I had a baby, I learned how important it was to make friends with early mornings. Having a baby means I wake up very, very early. But I don’t wake up because she’s crying or because she wakes me up. I actually set my alarm to wake up several hours before her, and it is my secret to finding my grounding as a mother.
By Lisa Åkesson Stryker
Sugar has often been linked to strong emotions for me. I have eaten sugar when I felt happy, sad, lonely, disconnected, tired, hungry, thirsty, anxious, out of control, victimized, unsettled or excited. I could always find a reason why I deserved a piece of candy, and rarely enough strength to say “no.” Sugar was a faithful friend, always there when I needed distraction from what was happening to me. It sounds a bit like an addiction, right?
This winter the negative impact of this relationship became painfully obvious to me. After eating a lot of sugar around Christmas, my skin was breaking out, I felt constantly exhausted and my digestion was protesting. Still I couldn’t stop having the sweets that were presented to me. When my sister shared that she was detoxing from sugar this spring, I jumped right on board with the idea.
By Nicole Lonero
Studying Yoga and Ayurveda has taught me to appreciate and seek out balance in my life. The lessons I learn from these 5,000-year-old traditions often boil down to and point me in the direction of balance. They also remind me to look to nature – the rhythms, the laws, the chaos and the order. There are so many lessons to be found in nature and in us. In Yoga and Ayurveda there is no duality; we are each a unique expression of nature.
So now, when I am lost in doubt or uncertainty, I look to nature. And what I see are elements. Ayurveda examines the elements in nature and in ourselves to understand how our environments affect our individual constitutions and how we express the elements and qualities of nature internally and externally in our minds, in our emotions, in our thoughts, behaviors, actions and patterns. It’s all connected. Ayurveda helped me discover why, when living in Colorado, the cold, dry air aggravated my vata dosha to the point of imbalance. At the time, I was so clouded by my imbalance. I couldn’t see that I needed sunshine, warmth and nourishment in the form of cooked meals and grounding practices to find myself underneath the expression of my imbalance.
By Lisa Åkesson Stryker
I used to burn everything I touched in the kitchen. My vata/pitta constitution was far from balanced, and I rarely could keep my attention on what I was cooking long enough for it to be somewhat edible. After many disasters I started to doubt that I had inherited my grandmother’s finesse in the kitchen. Food and cooking has always been a huge passion of mine, so I kept experimenting, hoping one day things would change.
Finally, I made a conscious decision: I really wanted to get comfortable in the kitchen. I decided to stop eating out and started buying groceries and looking up different recipes that inspired me. I still botched my meals for a good while, but with baby steps I started walking in the right direction. I gradually felt more and more comfortable, and after a few months I knew a handful of meals I could cook really well.
By Sonja Semion
When my daughter was just a few days old, I was startled awake by her cries in the dark of night. I picked up her tiny body and nestled her kicking legs against my chest. Whispering soothing words, I changed her diaper and tucked her next to my breast. She quickly fell back asleep. The next morning, I thought of how many painful stories I had heard about sleep deprivation in early motherhood. Yet I felt no deprivation. In fact, I was surprised at how little I minded being awakened. I felt that something greater was supporting me.
When she was six weeks old, her father left for a weekend trip that had been planned long before she arrived. On the last day of being alone with her, I found myself gasping for air, searching for any space where I could set her down without the incessant wail that followed me from every bassinet and spread of blankets.
Everywhere I looked was a disaster that I had left behind. Dishes were piled next to the sink. Laundry was wet and growing moldy in the washer. I had imagined it would be hard to keep things together, but I didn’t realize that it would be impossible. The weight of my expectations was heavy on my spine.
By Nicole Lonero
Yoga and Ayurveda provide a series of guidelines to help us measure our growth and direction on the often windy and unforeseeable path of self-discovery. In the eight limbs of Yoga, the niyamas are those guidelines: the moral codes that help us launch the principals of Yoga off our mats and into our lives.
Tapas is the code identified with discipline or austerity –purification through discipline. Focus, discipline and commitment create a purifying heat, a fiery blaze that burns away impurities and distractions from our lives so that we can experience true union.
By Lisa Åkesson Stryker
I used to think Ayurveda was just a whole lot of rules to follow. When I first grasped the basic concepts of this ancient Indian science, my perfectionism quickly took over. “I can’t eat this, or do that. I cannot combine those foods or cook that way,” were thoughts that went through my head. It took me a while to get over myself and to accept that I do my best at every given moment, and that it is enough. This, I think, is one of the most important things to remind friends and family interested in Ayurveda. Otherwise it just becomes another thing on our to-do list.
To me, Ayurveda is a way to find balance and live sustainably. When I see the wonderful effects my new ways have on my mind, body and spiritual life, Ayurveda becomes a choice that is easier to make. It has some guidelines, sure, but it doesn’t mean I’m not free to choose. It gives me clarity so I can choose consciously, and makes a connection between the cause and the effect.
Recently I have been looking back to February 2016, when I found myself on my mat in the bright, spacious yoga room at Hale Pule’s Yoga teacher training. In that expansive month-long opportunity, I learned to look ahead.
Landing with a thump in my plank pose, I hear Myra say, “Look ahead.” “Look ahead when you jump back.” Later when I jumped forward to meet myself at the top of the mat, I noticed how I clung to the image of my feet, following them compulsively to meet my hands, as if they might not be there if I didn't strain my neck to ensure they were moving.