Tag Archives: Ayurveda

Becoming more You – Riding the waves of change

I’m happy you are here! Building the capacity for inquiry is important for our positive evolution. We must learn to discern, evaluate and adapt our yoga and life practices to serve our current needs.

Yoga is a personal experiential practice to me, and my practice is woven within me in a way that brings a comfort that I would find hard to explain. Yoga is personal but it isn’t necessarily solitary. The many beautiful souls and wise people I learn and evolve from, the shared conversations and practices and the time spent in community all make my journey such a joy and a gift. My teachers, students, family and friends all make up my experience where I explore how to become more “me”. I am thankful that you all hold me in your sphere of influence and allow me to learn, grow, question, succeed and fail. If I want to make changes and I am unsure how to proceed I speak with my teachers, my friends and other professionals. I look to make the best decision in the moment, and I endeavor not to “put up” with a lack of function or a physical or emotional difficulty. I want to build new positive patterns.

Do I fail? Yes, I mostly fail, but with each effort I make I am building successful patterns.

Yoga and Ayurveda tell us that everything that is manifest is in transition. The seasons change, our body makeup changes, our mind and thought processes develop and decline. So, if this is the case, why would we keep our practice the same season to season and decade to decade. If we are always changing, then what is best for us is also changing. Then we must try to be aware and in the present to help us make the best decisions and to adapt and grow. Don’t get me wrong, we must have a sustained regular yoga and meditation practice, but we must also evolve with our changing needs. Jumping from idea to idea isn’t a great or productive tactic and it will not serve to help us develop efficiently. That is why during the change of seasons, it is a natural place for me to take a pause and make small thoughtful changes.

I am always evaluating what might be best for me, but during these natural transitions, I take time to evaluate my practice to help me serve my higher purpose and improve my lived experience. I have many considerations I think about to help me evaluate.

As an example, I consider some of the following. You can also take some time to consider your answers to these questions and how your practice on and off the mat is helping you enjoy and manage the ups and downs of your life?

Do I:

-recover and stay balanced with the joys and the sorrows of life?

-have an injury that is not healing?

-feel like I am going in the same circle?

-feel inspired and joyful?

-sleep well?

-generally feel sluggish, or restless?

-feel my body is feeling energetic and without discomfort?

-startle easily or do I feel numb?

-have a good digestion process?

And:

-How is my relationship with myself?

-How are my relationships with others?

-Is there an activity or experience that I would like to do that you can’t do now?

The many practices of yoga are there to help us improve our lived experience. For me, I allow myself to rest in a quiet space and to see how I am truly feeling. Then I make changes to my practice. The considerations I make are not just the change of the seasons but for everything that is happening in my life. Sometimes I get things right and sometimes wrong, but I always make a conscious effort to continue to be patient with myself and others as I navigate becoming the most fulfilled and at ease in my skin that I can be.

One small piece of this change is how our personal doshic makeups and experiences are affected by the seasons. We are moving into Vata season (fall and winter) and this is where we look to counteract or balance the drying effects of the Vata time of year. I make some small changes such as changing my diet from fresh salads to warming soups and stews, and the root vegetables that are in season. I make sure I practice nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breath to balance my bodies and mind making me feel more less scattered and safer.  I incorporate warm oils in and on the body make me feel less achy and dry.

There might be changes you have made that have served you well. You intuitively knew what you needed. Take some time to consider what you need. Consider this statement in a heartfelt way and away from the cognitive process of the mind. You are looking for your ego to not be involved.

Take a moment in quiet meditation where you can rest in the space of acceptance and perfection. There, your most inner needs will unfold. Remember to listen.

Thriving through the kapha time of year

Spring sows a sense of renewal within us. At this time we become acutely aware of the feeling deep within ourselves to move our bodies and to cleanse all that has accumulated through winter.

Kapha season is defined by moisture, softness, and denseness. The earth is awakening. This is the unctuousness of the earth brings growth and transformation. These qualities are needed. However, the qualities that are naturally presiding in kapha can present challenges for the individual if we are not in balance. We must be mindful not to encourage through lifestyle choices that enforce the qualities of kapha such as heaviness, dampness, and congestion.

Often at during the kapha season we take the time to cleanse the body. Just as the earth is becoming soft and moving, so is our bodies and minds. During the kapha time of year there is a tendency toward congestion, runny noses, and colds. Those who are kapha dominant can struggle to maintain balance at this time of year. Consider if you are in balance within your own doshic constitution before making any large changes to work with the seasonal considerations.

Generally, in spring we look to move away from eating warm, heavy stews and consider lighter, cleansing choices for meals and snacks. My friends, my students and I have talked about how we often feel hungry in spring. The need to feel satisfied and content is a hallmark of kapha. We must listen to our bodies and choose to nourish ourselves differently. I include dandelion tea in my diet during spring which is very cleansing and also wonderful for pitta constitutions. Ayurvedic doctor and teacher Dr. V. Lad recommends avoiding dairy and cold drinks and to incorporate legumes, ginger, cinnamon, spinach, honey and spices. The spices should only be incorporated if they can be tolerated within your constitutional makeup as hot spices are agitating to vata and pitta dosha constitutions. Too much oil is Kapha promoting, ghee or clarified butter can be used instead. Light meats are suitable but heavy dark meats and seafood should be avoided as they are heavy on the system.

The kapha season is a time of renewal, to clear away stagnation and to sow the seeds to move into the growth and focus of purpose in the summer. Kapha must have stable nutrients for health to be maintained through the hot, focused, and intense time of the summer. Without a foundation of support and unctuousness from spring, we could feel frazzled and irritated when the demands of the heat of summer are upon us.

Beyond food we can support ourselves through this season by incorporating physical movement and activity. Without the heat of the pitta season, now it the time to find ways to move. I am a proponent of finding something you love to do that is suitable to your health abilities. It could be dancing, cycling, swimming, or hiking. Check with your physician if you plan to start something new. If you love your yoga practice, consider warrior poses, back bends and lateral movements. This is the time to also enjoy a beautiful sun salute practice and long strong holds in your poses. Breath practices needed for this season are cleansing in nature. Consider Kapalabhati or bhastrika breath. Both are cleansing and promote a sense of lightness to the body and mind. You can also consider a hasta mudra or hand mudras which balance that heavy downward movement.

Being mindful is key. Notice what you are feeling in the moment and if you are choosing food, activities and thoughts that increase the heaviness you desire due to the time of year. Take pause and see if you can lighten your meal and move your body to stoke the fire to decrease congestion and the feelings of stagnation in the body and mind.