Dance with Yoga

Every year, you hear more people start “doing” yoga. Maybe it’s your friend, a coworker, or a family member. There’s something magnetic about the practice that makes everyone instantly attracted to it. Moving your body, keeping it limber, noticing the little nuances.

In my personal dance with yoga, I have been practicing asana for about 20 years now, it has lead me to deeper spaces of my being than I was unaware existed. I haven’t been to an actual asana class for years, unless you count that Im currently in a 300 hour We Evolve training I am participating in.

When you go for your first asana practice, you might think it will improve only one aspect of your life. Perhaps you do it for its physical benefits, or because you want to incorporate some type of spiritual practice into your life. But soon you realize it seems to affect every aspect of your being – and soon you come to realize, the more you learn, the less you know and the practice of yoga becomes more important, it somehow becomes part of you.

The True Importance Of Yoga

True yogis understood that humans are physical, mental, and spiritual beings. Yoga, which in a literal sense, means “to yolk” works on all of the subtle layers of our body to, bring us back to our center or seat and bring us back to harmony. True yoga in India, didn’t develop only around physical exercise, not at all. It was primarily a spiritual practice focused on the development of virtues, sadhana, and inquiry that help us reach our highest potential, and find purpose in our life.

Still, even if you only practice the physical postures or asanas, you will see a change in your being. If you incorporate pranayama, you get even more benefits. If you include meditation, well the grey matter in your brain only gets stronger and more dense in certain areas of your brain. That’s not only a promise coming from subjective experiences of practitioners, it is also something that has been proven by science today. 

Physical yoga practice is a form of education about living a better life. On the mat, we become aware of our body and our movement. We connect to our breath and learn to control it. The breath serves as a sort of bridge between our physical body, our mind, and our spiritual self. You can experience that as soon as you start controlling your breath. And you don’t have to believe me my word – you can try it right now. 

Start deepening your breath. That means your inhales and exhales get longer, and you activate all the organs involved in the breathing action. As you inhale, lift both your belly and chest and try to make your exhalation longer than your inhale. Only after a couple of moments, you will experience a sense of calm, your thoughts will be quieter, as more air flows into your body, your nerves will calm down reducing stress and anxiety and the more you practice, the more your body will enter a meditative state. Try closing your eyes, and breathe for a minute or two.

Now, in only a few moments of conscious breathing, you have experienced the true importance of yoga. Without any preparation – you have managed to connect your body, your mind, and your spiritual presence.

When we start practicing yoga regularly, we learn of this control over our bodies. We learn we are able to calm ourselves down, heal our pains, and become aware of the present moment. This happens even if we’re not aware of it, but it does become more significant when we are conscious of what we’re doing.

After you learn to connect your breath, movement, thoughts, and emotions, this will soon lead to taking these skills and incorporate it into life off the mat where real “yoga” begins.

That’s the true importance of yoga. When we start experience this ancient wisdom first hand, and experience the benefits in everyday life, what a blessing our practice becomes. When we add the knowledge of Ayurveda, we then we are experiencing true health, harmony and happiness.

To understand your unique constitution, please feel free to book a consultation with me and I will even give you personalized pranayama and possibly some asana as well as diet, lifestyle and healing practices you can incorporate into your life. As we heal ourselves, we are building our personal spiritual practice and personalized medicine as well as improving our mental health. With yoga, you gain back control of your own being. That empowerment is what makes it so important, especially in this fast-paced time in which we are living today.

Physical Benefits Of Doing Yoga

Some people wonder if they’ll lose weight when doing yoga. Some want to improve their performance, whether it is greater flexibility or strength. The third want to heal their chronic pain or improve their posture. The truth is – yoga does all that. 

The reason why yoga improves every aspect of your body is that it uses primal movements. When you observe yoga poses, you will notice you’ve done many of them since you were a child. We squat before we walk, nearly every child tries rolling on the floor, stretching, and doing the candle pose. With yoga, we’re not focusing only on one aspect of our body. We’re doing natural movements that simultaneously improve our strength and range of motion.

Still, there are different styles of yoga you can do, if you want to focus on a certain physical benefit. All styles will still improve every aspect of your body, but some do some things a bit better than others.

For example, if your main goal is to build strength and to lose weight, a more dynamic style of yoga would be appropriate. There are many styles of dynamic yoga, including Ashtanga, Rocket yoga, Iyengar yoga, Hot yoga, and more, but they can all be described as Vinyasa Yoga. Vinyasa yoga is every type of practice where you spend a lot of time in standing poses and move through them at a fast pace. 

On the other hand, those who want to combat back pain and other chronic issues, or want to improve their flexibility, will be attracted to more gentle yoga styles. Although Hatha yoga meant something else in the past, today we relate this word to a slow and gentle yoga style. Other variations are Restorative and Yin yoga. In these styles of yoga, we spend most of our time in sitting and lying positions, and we hold them for longer.

Most yogis are attracted to one style of yoga the most. Still, with time, you will realize you don’t have to decide. Simply choose the style of yoga that gives you the physical benefit you need at this day, this season, or this period of your life. 

Mental Benefits Of Doing Yoga

Even if your main motivation for doing yoga is physical benefits, you will notice the mental benefits of the practice from your first class. 

By being aware of our body, and connecting breath with movement, we have something to focus on. At that moment, our thoughts slow down, and we begin to relax. Science has proven time and time again that yoga improves mental health. A single class can remove the stress from that day, and regular yoga practice can relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental illnesses. 

Whenever you feel stressed, anxious, or have negative thoughts about yourself and the world – try doing yoga. At least for that hour, and an hour after the practice, you’ll get back to a calmer and more positive state of mind. With time, you will see the benefits last longer, and you will be able to use yoga as a type of self-therapy whenever you want to improve your mental well-being. 

All styles of yoga will give you this feeling, whether you’re sweating through a challenging Vinyasa sequence or relaxing your body through a gentle Hatha practice. 

Spiritual Benefits Of Doing Yoga

Regardless of our religion or view of spirituality, most of us feel there’s something else, beyond our body and our thoughts. The spiritual aspect of our lives is what gives us purpose, a greater meaning. Only when we can feel our greater purpose, can we combat our daily struggles long-term. 

Yoga can give you that. The focus on the movement and breath allows you to calm your thoughts. When your thoughts and emotions are calm, you are able to return to the present moment. The present moment is when spirituality happens. 

Every person can experience something different in spirituality. It can be that you simply feel a state of love and bliss. Some get physical sensations, others have visions. That’s why it’s hard to explain what spiritual benefit you can expect from yoga. Yoga is very individual – and the best things happen when you don’t expect them.

Still, what we can promise is that you can expect to gain spiritual experience, knowledge, and understanding. When this begins to happen, yoga stops being merely a physical practice, and it becomes a part of your life. You start using the practice to improve yourself, to treat yourself and others better, and to finally find meaning, love, and true joy in this beautiful life you were given.

That was exactly why old Indian yogis created this practice in the first place. The goal was to reach a higher state of being and to live spirituality both on and off the mat. 

Many will say yoga today moved away from this initial idea, but that’s far from the truth. Yes, it did change – but humanity changed as well. It’s only natural we adapted the practice to make sense to this day and age. We need a different approach, we practice more physical poses, but the goal is the same.

And whether that goal is why you started doing yoga, or it’s only somewhere in the back of your mind, with regular practice, you will achieve it.

Keep doing the type of practice you enjoy, incorporate what you learned into your everyday life, and see for yourself how you and your surroundings change for the better.

Bring more joy, peace, love, and meaning into your life, and enjoy the process of improving your life little by little, every day with yoga. 

Cool and Calm Hibiscus Sun Tea

By Michelle Berry

This tea is best in the summertime, it contains the tastes of sweet, bitter and astringent to help us stay in balance this time of year. This tea is a powerful blood tonic and helps our skin look great, it also helps with water retention.

  • 1/3 cup dried Hibiscus
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1 TBS Peppermint
  • 1 TBS Rose petals
  • 1 tsp Brahmi or Gotu Kola
  • 1 tsp Shatavari
  • 1 tsp Fennel
  • 1 calendula flower
  • 1-2 Limes ~ Juiced
  • 1/4 cup Honey or Sucunat

In the morning, combine the herbal ingredients and put into a 2 quart glass jar. If you don’t have all of the ingredients on hand, thats okay as long as you hav Hibiscus, sweeter and lime, it will taste great! Fill the jar with 7 cups of blessed water. Seal the jar with a lid and place outside for 4-5 hours. After infusion is complete, bring inside, strain, add sweetener and stir, add lime and enjoy! Will keep well sealed in refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Cool and Calm Hibiscus Sun Tea

What’s the difference between a regular massage and an Ayurvedic massage?

India is known around the world for its ancient culture and wisdom. One such form of medical treatment found in India, Ayurveda medicine has been used to heal people from all over this vast country for thousands upon millennia! The system uses food spices herbs remedies body work lifestyle changes which boost your health balance spirit throughout life’s journey.

Abhyanga is an oiling of the body that is based on the principles of Ayurvedic medicine. Which means it’s designed to relieve stress and release emotional blocks. This technique can be very beneficial for people suffering from anxiety or depression because they focus heavily upon relaxation during these massages as well!

HOLISTIC HEALTH

The pursuit of overall wellness can be achieved through gaining proper balance in life. The idea has been around since ancient times and was made popular by doctors like Hippocrates, who believed that all parts must work together for good physical shape- mind, body & spirit too!

Holistic healers take an holistic approach when they look at your environment, stress in life and medications you’ve taken before. Some people want only natural treatments while others may utilize both Western medicine AND alternative practices such as yoga, Ayurveda or meditation for their healing path.

A good Ayurvedic Professional will treat the whole person – not just what’s wrong with them so that their bodies can be functioning properly but also how it affects other aspects of our lives like mental health, diet and lifestyle to exercise and relaxation techniques.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN AYURVEDIC MASSAGE AND A REGULAR MASSAGE?

The focus of an Ayurvedic massage is holistic- relieving emotional stress as well physical. The practitioners hands are used along with medicated herbal oils to help relieve tension from the body’s energy points instead joints and muscles which can be released through activating the body’s Marma points. These are vital points on the body are the junctions of the body and mind much like acupuncture in Chinese medicine but much larger and are not related to the meridians.

A typical Western Massage focuses on pinpointing problem areas such as tight shoulders while also working over time into strengthening those weak spots so they become less noticeable when someone applies pressure elsewhere.

The body is made up of three energies in Ayurveda, which can be balanced through diet and lifestyle. These are the Kapha (earth/water), Pitta(fire/little bit of water) & Vata (air/space) combinations that each person has one dominant dosha based on their individual makeup with an ability to keep it within normal ranges by following specific practices like eating wisely according to what type you are primarily represented at any given time as well taking care not only about your physical needs but emotional.

An Ayurvedic massage may include: mantras, oils, sound therapy, light therapy and more. Ayurvedic Massage is known as Abhyanga. The word ‘abhyanga’ is composed of two Sanskrit words, Abhi and Anga. Abhi means ‘towards’ and anga, in one of its meanings, refers to ‘movement’.  It also means ‘oil massage’ or in sanskrit, ‘snehana’. Snehana means oil, but it also means love. So by receiving Abhyanga, we are oiling our bodies with love, comfort, and nourishment.

The experience of Abhyanga is deeply relaxing to your brain, nervous system and joints. It eases pain while feeling comforting warmth throughout the body – a super yummy way to nourish the body. It lovingly replaces your anxieties with a sense of calmness and contentment because the oils are warm, stable, and grounding.

The Abhyanga treatment can range from spa like a more clinical therapeutic procedure that uses herbalized oil to penetrate the skin and bind with toxins. It also provides joint lubrication, nourishment for your skin as well moisturizing it once bound together by this powerful natural substance! The medicated oil also helps your body achieve balance through mind and body.

Abhyanga is a sequence of massage that helps clear out toxins by encouraging quick removal from the body. The Lymphatic system has various pressure points which are targeted with varying degrees for each section being massaged, ensuring optimal circulation in order to remove metabolic wastes via this route as well! 

The lymphatic system is a very important part of our bodies because it helps to remove fluids from your organs and transport them around so that they can be excreted by other body systems. The manual massage therapists use their hands as pumps, which increases circulation in the area being treated; this leads us towards getting more nutrients through better blood flow- all while feeling totally blissful! It is an amazing experience when there is the option for treatment includes having two people work together using tandem massages where both sides are being touched at once. Either way, this is a highly recommended experience and very unique to Ayurvedic Massage.

The massage helps in tuning up the functioning of our internal organs and optimizes how well they work. It also revitalizes cell self-healing abilities, which can have physical effects on you mentally or emotionally while stimulating parasympathetic nerves with psychological benefits as well! The body, mind and skin is transformed by regular Abhyanga simply by infusing it with the loving herbal oils making it more resilient, hydrated and vibrant that can better withstand the aging process ~ so you can have that vibrant glow!

Generally, Ayurvedic massage should not be done in the following conditions according to Ayurveda.

  • Fever
  • In any acute illness (unless permitted by your doctor)
  • Blood clots (like deep vein thrombosis) or bleeding disorders
  • Hangover
  • Dehydration
  • During Chemotherapy
  • During Menstruation

Schedule a consultation or a treatment today!

Love & OM,

Michelle

Allergies and Ayurveda

Up to 50 million people in America struggle with allergies every year and it’s considered one of the leading causes for chronic illness.

The immune system is a complex and dynamic system that protects us from disease by identifying harmful substances in our environment that it doesn’t recognize as safe, then triggering an allergic reaction to get rid of these foreign substances. An allergy occurs when the body’s natural defense turns on and against itself!

Allergies can cause a wide range of symptoms, from mild to life-threatening. They’re often caused by plant pollens or animal dander which we are allergic too without even knowing it because our bodies consider those substances harmful! Allergies and stress can also give people asthma, hives, itchiness, runny nose and watery eyes, when they’ve never had any before in their lives!

The practice of Ayurveda recognizes that there are many causes for allergies, one of the main reasons being the accumulation due to ama (toxic buildup from improperly digested foods). This combined together in our body with low Ojas (immunity) ~ leads to allergic reactions when it becomes too much.  There can be several reasons why this happens: typically because someone has a genetic predisposition combined by unhealthy diet habits or chronic illness; sometimes mental stress will trigger an emotional trauma leading them down another path towards having more trouble breathing during seasonal changes. This is why following a seasonal diet and routine is so important, to build Ojas (immunity) and protect against seasonal and everyday allergens.

When the power of digestion (Agni) becomes weak due to an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, overtime this will cause an imbalance in our doshas. This causes ama – or undigested food particles-to accumulate within us which acts as allergies that trigger an auto immune response from tissue cells anywhere in the body, especially the respiratory system, digestive system, skin or any combination.

Ayurveda gives us the tools to live a healthy lifestyle through daily dinacharya, ritucharya (seasonal rituals), and our evening rituals, help strengthen our digestion, enhance our immune system, and clear out unwanted toxins. 

Seasonal Practices to Keep You Healthy and Allergies at Bay:

  • Do some spring cleaning
    • For your body: Practice a spring cleanse
    • For your environment: Deep clean your house
    • Get rid of cosmetics with fragrances and chemicals
    • Get rid of chemical cleaning supplies
  • Wake Early
  • Dry Brush
  • Daily Nasya
  • Exercise first thing in the morning: Sun Salutations, a brisk walk, a short jog, jumping jacks, anything that makes you feel good and revitalized.
  • Meditate
  • Pranayama
  • Keep warm during these cold, damp days
  • Get an invigorating massage or Abhyanga
  • Eat light, warm and cooked food
  • Add some stimulating music to your playlist
  • Dance
  • Laugh and spend time with loved ones

Ideas for Eating this Season to Create Balance:

  • Add foods that are pungent, astringent, and bitter to your diet:
    • Aloe, nettle, dandelion, quinoa, barley, mung beans, fiddleheads, arugula, mustard greens, chard, spinach, asparagus, spring onions, lemon, spiced broths, green tea, local honey
  • Add apple cider vinegar to your foods
  • Consume less meat
  • Avoid dairy
  • Drink CCF (Cumin, Coriander and Fennel) Tea
  • Take triphala, tulsi, guduchi
  • Add activating spices like cayenne, ginger, turmeric, black pepper and mustard
  • Drink water

In conclusion, allergies are very common and can be caused by a variety of factors. Allergies can often be difficult to detect. With knowing your constitution and understanding your daily habits and lifestyle an Ayurvedic Consultation can help you to find the root cause and ultimately help alleviate symptoms!

Looking forward to connecting with you soon!

Many Blessings,

Michelle