My Souls Work

Cancer Rejuvenation Program; My journey to Kaivalyadhama India, to participate in the research & training of this ground breaking program of Healing Yoga for Cancer Care and Chronic Illness

Namaste Divine Yogis,

Before I left for India, I mention how I was going to keep a blog of my experience here at Kaivalyadhama. It has been 40 days since my arrival and honestly I have not had the time to sit and write. Today is my first day since I have settled here that I have had any
time to just sit without a schedule and BE.

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The program is incredible. Much more than  I was hoping for and expecting. I am so grateful to be here and to be a part of this journey with Lee (Founder/Developer from Toronto), Marie (fellow Yoga Therapist from Sweden, and student of Kdham) and Neeraj (Kdham Resident Yoga Therapist).  Lee, Marie and Neeraj are a solid team of truly skilled professionals in Yoga Therapy, all who have dedicated their lives to helping those find their ability to heal. I am honoured to have been invited and to be a member of their team. What is lovely is that we all bring something different to the table, which make our collaborations very rich in diversity and experience and resources.

As well,  I am grateful to be with all  who have participated in the Chronic Cures Program along side with me from February 14- March 3. What an experience! And to now be on the other-side as a teacher to those who are participating in the Cancer Rejuvenation Program, both experiences have been truly enriching and it is such a lovely experience to have a shared learning towards our individual growth and development. Teacher & student both learning from one another… we are on this journey together.

As a client in the Chronic Cures Program, I didn’t think I would have much to work on, aside from the obvious for me of still processing the grief that I feel since my fathers passing.  As for the other participants for the Chronic Cures program, there were
individuals here with a number of different pathologies and psychosomatic disorders and all from different walks of life. We had a Lawyer, IT / World Marketing Specialist, Yoga Instructor, Customer Service Representative, Retired Dancer, Retired Microbiologist, and a School Teacher. Two of us were practitioner’s of yoga since 2007, one client tried yoga on a few occasions and the rest were all completely new to yoga and never before stepped on a
mat. They presented with chronic back pain, chronic neck and shoulder pain, neurological dysfunction and pain throughout the body, weight loss challenges & grief, chronic migraines, grief, and planter fasciitis.

THE PROGRAM

The program consist of 6 days of a full schedule starting at 6:45 am
and ending at 9pm Monday-Saturday for 21 days.

Asana

Asana practice is gentle and therapeutic with the focus on breath awareness. I felt completely at home, because they were teaching essentially the same practice I teach for my morning class back home, (except I use straps and props). The yoga practice at Kavialyadham follows the ancient texts and they do not teach any yogic practice that is not 500 years or older. They stay very close to the practices in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika – and other ancient text as the Yoga Sutras. I love this aspect of the program. They believe as I do, that asana is to be comfortable and allow for breath and body awareness. So this was very comforting to be in a place that teaches asana in a way that truly resonates with me.

Pranayama

We performed and practiced Pranayama in a way that I have not learned nor practiced. They’re teaching in a very scientific based manner and as a practitioner you gain a full knowledge as to ‘what’ you are doing, ‘how’ it is helping, and ‘how’ to do it correctly to achieve full benefit on how to manage your breath and the ‘why’s’. It is a fantastic process of learning, practicing a20160215_110129nd doing.

Meditation

The meditations we did each day were so heart healing. This is where we began to slowly open up our awareness. I lost myself completely on a few occasion’s… experiencing Dhyana and even Samadhi. I was not able to move or awake… I was ‘Nowhere’, nor here or there. It has been some time that in a meditation, I was able to reach this place.

We did mantra meditations, breath awareness; however, most of the practices were specifically focused on healing, forgiveness, gratitude. All the meditations were easy for anyone to do. The main focus was on being comfortable. We had some individuals in the group seated in chairs, or on mats, cushions, and in any seated meditative pose. It was beautiful to witness the progression of the group, and to see first timers on the meditation cushion witness themselves and notice that they are not their pain. This was very Powerful and Transforming.

The Healing Powers of Yoga Nidra

As Divinity Studio students know, I am a lover of Yoga Nidra. I teach it regularly at the studio and believe in its ability to allow for deep rest, to stimulate the parasympathetic system, and to release deep tensions in the body. The practice we may do at the studio
once per week is only the beginning. And even as a weekly practice, it has healing benefits. But, I would say that it is like dipping your toe in the water. Now, lets take that a few steps
further and practice it daily? For 3 weeks! This is walking in to the water… Chest Deep.

Using the words ‘healing, rejuvenating, relaxing…’ does not fully explain what one experiences when practicing Yoga Nidra on a daily basis. Yoga Nidra connects to the subconscious mind. When looking at the Koshas (5 Layers of the Body), we are working on
the Intellect level and Mind level of the body. Intellect is our Belief Systems and Minds is our thoughts, feelings, and our reaction/response.

Yoga Nidra, works on these two levels of both conscious mind and subconscious mind/intellect. When practiced daily… you can see the shift in ones consciousness and their knowing, that they are not their thoughts and they have the power to control how they choose to perceive the world – when a person begins to witness their ability to choose whether they perceive their world from a place of Love or Fear, they begin to tap into their ability to Heal Themselves.

Chanting

Bhakti Yoga, is the practice of Love and Devotion. This is a beautiful practice of community and Divine Love in its full expression. Each week we chant different mantras and each one
evokes emotions that may be heart opening, grounding and healing, prayer and surrender, oneness and connection, joy, smiles and even tears. The energy you feel when you chant is like playing the strings of your soul. Each chord, each vibrations begins to resonate so deeply within that it creates a direct connection to the Divine.

Summary of My Personal Experience

As a Client in the Chronic Cures Program I knew that I had some unresolved grief as a result of my father’s passing last July. In one year I put on 40 pounds in weight gain. This is the most my body has ever weighed, and I know that the weight gain was
emotionally driven. My body is very sensitive to stress and as a result too, my menstrual cycle ceased for several months. This started last January when my father’s health began to decline. I have been living in a state of Chronic Stress for over a year and it caused my body to shut down, as the body does naturally when it feels it need to go into protection mode.

The problem with Chronic Stress, is that the protection mode does not shut off.
The bodies internal systems react to this, stress hormones are being released constantly, immune system is decreased, heart rate and pressure is elevated and coverts sugar into fat and then storing it for the emergency, sleep is compromised and you are taxing your adrenals by running on empty.  I have been living like this for a year or longer. Probably since I was in India last time and received the news of my father being diagnosed with Lung Cancer.  I was coping pretty well for the most part and I think to myself what shape would I have been in if I didn’t have yoga.  Even with yoga, I was still functioning in a state of chronic stress.  Needless to say, I needed this program and I was over joyed that I was required to experience it as a participant to witness it’s effects.

I was holding so much tension and grief in my body, after my flights from Toronto to Mumbai, I went from being able to touch my toes to only reaching my knees. My body locked up from my lower back to my feet. My calf muscles were like rocks. And thankfully we were receiving daily massages and Naturopathy treatments to aid in the bodies natural detoxification process, help to release emotions held in the body and to help release tension and stress. It worked wonders.

Asana practice was gentle and this is exactly what I needed. My body was stiff and I felt like a beginner all over again. And so I welcomed the practice as a beginner. I left any ego at the door and walked in to asana hall with an open mind and a body that needed
some TLC.

I wrote in my journal daily and kept tract of what I was experiencing and witnessing in my body, mind, emotions and on a spiritual level any changes, openings and blockages or challenges. Journalling is a great tool to understanding and building awareness of yourself and your experiences. I loved the whole process of writing my thoughts and feelings on paper. It helps me to see what is going on inside. And it is a wonderful way to get things out, to release so you are not holding on to what no longer serves you. Let It Go!

Meditations and Yoga Nidra is where I truly did the work. In Meditation we did a Forgiveness exercise and it was amazing to see what was coming to surface… people who I thought I forgave years ago were coming forward for me to forgive, but the one I needed
to forgive the most was myself. This was incredibly healing. It is amazing to see what pressures we place on ourselves and we need to remember to be compassionate to ourselves First. So forgive others, and forgive yourself and send love and kindness
and healing light to yourself and those around you.   Love, Love, Love.

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Yoga Nidra was a powerful tool for me to unlock some subconscious core belief statements that I had about myself. These statements we are conditioned with from a young age and
may not even be aware that they exist. It is these core beliefs that stand in our way from achieving our goals or following our hearts desires, maybe we self sabotage ourselves in some ways. And through Yoga Nidra, I was able to dismantle these belief statements, and resolve some old hurts and come to terms with my inner pain and grief. I was able to LET GO, Resolve and be able to hold both light and dark, heaviness and lightness, warm and cold. I was able to hold both and be a peace with it… just witnessing. It
was a beautiful resolve.

I walked into this program having some personal anxiety and feelings of depression. As much as I was excited to be here in India, on a personal note there was an underlying sadness that I have been carrying and I felt stuck in my pain and grief and was
disconnected from myself on some levels.

I completed the program feeling light, at peace and ease with my feelings of my fathers passing. I was able to let go of any guilt I was feeling and forgave myself, understanding that I did what I was able to do. I gave myself permission to stop shouldering the
responsibility. I feel the sense of acceptance of where I am right now, and I fully Love myself as I am, in this body that I have today. I feel connected to myself again. It was like becoming reacquainted with a old friend. It has been a long time since I have looked at
myself and truly felt the beauty of my soul inside and out. And I have this program to thank. Lee and Marie and Neeraj provide the tools, they hold the space, and  I was the one who did the work.

Believe, Release, Surrender, Forgive, Trust, Gratitude, Acceptance
and Awareness!

Om Namah ShivayaOm Shanti Shanti Shanti Om!

Pacify Vata Dosha with this Harvest Soup

 

It is the Fall Harvest Season and the abundance of squashes and root veggies and gorgeous colourful, warming, earthy food’s make for a delicious soup; and this soup is perfect to pacify vata dosha & add soothing warmth for vata season.

Being a pitta vata type, entering into vata season can be a bit hard on my body and system. So to deal with this change in weather and help ease into falls cool and windy demeanor, I have been reinforcing and strengthening my constitution with yummy foods and soups to warm my belly and bones. Please read my post How to find calm and be grounded during the whirlwind of Vata Season?

I love soups and am quite happy to eat soup daily. It is warming, adds moisture to my system and is nourishing. There is something very comforting about sitting and enjoying a hot bowl of soup on a cool autumn day or evening.  And what makes it even more enjoyable are the colours and fragrance of this fall season.

Fully enjoying your meal can be quite meditative and calming for vatas mind. When vata is imbalance, food and eating may be a bit sporadic, time isn’t taken to eat and enjoy your food. Meals may be missed or rushed or eaten while on the go. Snacking and inconsistent eating and can add to vata’s stress and anxiety.

Creating an environment and giving yourself time to sit and eat without working or multitasking, or rushing can do a world of good for vata’s and help find balance this time of year for all doshas types. 

It is important to make the time to eat. Sit and be in full awareness of what you are doing. Mindfully eating. If you can do this in Maun (silence), that would be even more supportive for vata’s active mind. 

Savoring and fully experiencing your meal with gratitude knowing that every single bite and taste is nourishing you, will be balancing and create a meditative experience and will calm both vata’s mind and body 

Ayurveda is all about living in harmony with nature and it’s elements. The stress of wondering what to do is gone if you bring your awareness to nature, the foods being harvested in each season. Nature has done the work for us!  Nature has provided for us these wonderful nutrient dense and grounding foods to eat that will help prepare us for the cold months ahead and give the warmth, density, moisture, and nutrients to stay healthy and live harmoniously with the season.

 

haul from the market
This Photo is from the blog “He Cooks She Bakes” http://hecooksshebakes.weebly.com/food.html

This Harvest Soup is most delicious and is made up of some delicious fall treats. The main taste of this soup is the sweetness of Butternut Squash. It is smooths and melts in your mouth leaving that bit of sweetness on the tongue. Which is very comforting. The other tones are earthy and warm and grounding with hues of purple sage underneath. To add a bit of weight to this soup I added potatoes with the skins on for extra fibre and texture.  Given I am also a pitta dominant type, I added some Chinese Celery from my garden, both the stems and greens. The beauty of Chinese Celery oppose to the regular celery we find in the grocery stores is that it has a heating and peppery taste. It can be a bit pungent, but that is pacified when cooking. As well, I added fresh Dinosaur Kale from my Tower Garden – visit my page to see pics Tower Garden ~ Grow Green Eat Fresh (facebook page). Kale can be a bit hard to digest, however when cooked in a soup it is perfectly fine in moderation for Vata’s.

For taste I did not add much in extras as I love to taste the flavours of the veggies. So aside from some Leeks, Garlic and the Purple Sage I used Ground Pepper and Himalayan Pink salt Benefits of Himalayan Pink Salt.

When we think of flavours for Vata Dosha, we want Sweet, Sour and Salty. This soup has the sweet and the salt (not salty),  I add little salt while cooking and will use my grinder to crack a bit more rock salt on top after serving.  If you want to add sour to your sweetness, you can always squeeze a little lemon juice on top. YUM!

How to make this lovely creation for yourself?

The recipe is rather quite simple. Most soups truly are. I love the simplicity of cooking and want for my foods to speak for themselves.  This soup will definitely speak to your taste buds and will warm your heart.

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What you will need:

1 large clove of garlic or 2-3 small cloves.

1 leek

1 small cooking onion

2 butternut squash

3 medium size white potatoes or yellow Yukon gold potatoes – with skins on. You can peel if you prefer.

3-4 stalks of organic Chinese celery with greens (use regular organic celery with greens if you can not find Chinese celery)

1 or 2 large kale leaves or 4 slender leaves (mine are on the slender side so I used more)

{OPTIONAL} a handful of white navy beans. The white navy beans were from my garden and I did not have to soak them before cooking. If you are using beans, please soak before you add them in the soup.  This is optional for you. I had the beans sitting there so I used them. Beans are hard to digest for vata, but if soaked and cooked well they are generally okay in moderation. Or you may use yellow mung bean if you wish.

3 tablespoons of Olive Oil

a handful of fresh purple sage (I grow my own and they are small leaves, if you can not find purple sage in the grocery store use regular sage leaves 3-4 leaves or more to taste)

4-5 sprigs of fresh curly parsley (or more to taste)

4 cups of sodium free vegetable broth (prefer organic)

1/2 tsp of ground Himalayan pink rock salt or to taste.

1/4 or 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper or to taste.

Let’s Get Cooking

Prepare your veggies. Chop you garlic cloves, leeks and onions.

Warm your soup pot on the stove on medium heat and add the olive oil,  chopped garlic cloves, leeks and chopped onions. Cook while stirring until the onions are clear.

Add 2 cups of water and simmer.

While simmering, remove skins from your butternut squash and slice in half and remove seeds. Cut into cubes. I enjoy a Hearty Chunky Soup with substance, so I tend to chop larger cubes. Cutting on the larger side is also good for kapha dosha or pitta and who may enjoy less broth, and still want the goodness. But you can cut them to your fancy. Mainly you want them large enough so they do not dissolve in the soup.

Placed butternut squash in soup to simmer. While simmering wash and chop your potatoes. And add to soup. At this time you can add the 4 cups of organic vegetable stock.

While your soup is simmering you will soon begin to smell the lovely aromas coming from the pot. Breathe in deeply and savor the moment. Ahhhhhh

Prepare your Chinese Celery,  wash well and chop the stems and greens and add to the soup.

For preparing the kale, you want to wash and remove the stems before chopping. Once the stems are removed, then proceed with chopping and add to the pot.

Add beans (Optional)

Allow for the soup to simmer for a half hour before adding the sage and parsley.

Reduce the temperature to minimum heat and continue simmering stirring every few minutes. Add pepper and ground Himalayan salt. Continue to simmer on low heat.

I tend to simmer my soups for an 1 1/2 or 2 hours sometimes. I love for the flavours to blend and the soup to naturally reduce. You want for the veggies to be soft and easily break apart before eating, as well with the beans, they too should be soft; holding their shape, but soft in the middle.

That is it! Soups On! Enjoy, be warm and nourish your body, mind and soul with the bountifulness of falls harvest!

How to find calm and be grounded during the whirlwind of Vata Season?

We have entered into Vata season with a vengeance this September here in Southern Ontario, Canada… without much warning. Fall is upon us.

Last week we were in the mist of fire and heating elements with over 30˚C degree weather. Exhaustion from lousy sleep due to the heat for those like myself who don’t use air conditioning. I personally like the heat, but being a dominant pitta dealing with two weeks of constant sweltering hot days and no relief at night was way too heating for my pitta / vata self. Then…. BAM!  Overnight it all changed. The vata side of me was thrown into a shivering cold frenzie ~ “Give me my sweater.. where are my sweaters ~ Why is it so cold?Bring back the heat!” I cried while wrapping myself in a throw blanket and desperately heating the kettle to make a tea.  One day we were fanning ourselves and dripping with sweat at 30˚C+ degree heat to waking with 12˚C degree of bone chilln’,  cold rain, windy weather and a sore throat.  This kind of drastic change in weather can cause havoc on the body & mind balance, completely throwing Vata’s off. So how do we find balance and calmness of the mind during this windy, cold, dry, season? How to deal with Vata season and come out on top!

Fall is the beginning of the Vata Season and during this time we want to work at pacifying vata elements.  This time of year for all dosha’s including both Pitta and Kapha, will need to pay more attention to the changes of what this season brings with it, especially those who are vata dominant or vata imbalanced.  If you are a dominant pitta, then the fall vata season may be your favourite, cooling to your over heating.  Although if like me who is both pitta and vata, this time of year if gradually changes is welcoming, I usually love the fall and the sweaters, scarves and boots to go with it, but the sudden drastic change in weather and seasons can be rather disruptive.  So, if you are already Vata dominant or blended dosha like myself pitta / vata you may find the sudden onset of this season to be particularly aggravating.

What is Vata Dosha and how does it effect us?

Vata controls all movement in the body. It controls blood flow / circulations, elimination of waste, our breathing and movement in mind and thoughts. Since vata controls all movement in the mind/body it is considered to be the ‘master or king’ of the doshas.  Therefore, Pitta and Kapha need to pay attention!  This is the season of wind, cold, dry, a lot of movement of air, causing dryness of our skin our eyes and scalp.  Our nails are more brittle, cracking and soreness of our joints, coldness in the body, especially the hands and feet. Difficult with respiratory, coldness in the chest. Decrease immunity. Our digestion may be off and circulation poor. Our minds tend to be a bit more scattered, and anxiety, worry, difficulty making decisions may be more prominent. All of these qualities can come into play. And if you are already vata dominant or vata imbalanced, it may worsen.

So how do we find calm amongst these cold blistering whirlwind days ahead?

We have to pacify vata elements. When you look at it and how the seasons work and corresponds to the elements and connections to the doshas it all begins to makes a lot of sense. When it is cold and dry, add warmth and moisture. When hot, add coolness. When moist and heavy, add lightness and dryness. Nature is designed to find homeostasis. Being one with nature, we too strive for balance and harmony of the mind, body and spirit.

So what do we do? We want to pacify vata elements. Therefore, during this time it is increasingly important to add warmth to the body by introducing pitta fire and grounding kapha earth elements to your daily life.  We want to add good quantity of oil, warmth in our foods and drinks, sweet (naturally), sour and salty. Foods are to be well cooked and softened, easy to digest.

One way to do this is through our foods. If we look at the fall harvest, we will begin to see a lot of root vegetables and vegetables of wonderful colour. Pumpkins, butternut squash and acorn squash all have a beautiful Orange colour, a fire colour which is pitta element and if you look at them from a nutrition point of view, they are filled with immune boosting nutrients and antioxidants, both very important for Vata’s.  E.g.: Vitamin A, C, Fibre, B2, B6, Folate, Copper, manganese, Vit. K calcium, magnesium,  potassium, etc..   The Yummies of Winter Squash . Everything that we need to keep strong and healthy this fall/ winter Vata season.

Other foods that are great to introduce this time of year are your root veggies like sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, turnips, celery roots, carrots. Roots are exactly that… grounding. A gorgeous blend of colours and warmth to keep you cozy on those cold days and nights. Roots vegetables come from the earth and hold earth qualities. Dense, nutrient and mineral rich, natural sweetness and full of fibre, which will help keep you feeling full longer and more grounded.  When cooking, you want to make sure that they are well cooked and soft. Roasting or making lovely fall soups with these beautiful grounding roots thisVata pacify time of year will help calm and ground Vata’s all season long.

Fruits of the season are apples, pears, pomegranates. We want to make sure our apples and pears are sweet to taste and juicy juicy. Eating these fruits help to remove heat of summer from the body and prepare for vata seasons. However, for vata’s we want to make sure to eat them at room temperature or even cooked like in an Apple Pie or bread {Apple Pie Oatmeal Recipe ohsheglows}. And when eating ensure they are Organic, so you can have the skins on.  Most of the nutrients in these lovely fall fruits are in the skins!  Apples are rich in Vitamin C and the skins hold a lot of goodness. Soluble and insoluble pectin fibre rich, and are helpful for respiratory diseases and disorders like asthma and lung cancers, and C.O.P.D, as well as cardiovascular health and regulating blood sugars.  Find out more about apples and all their goodness here.     

Pears too have an abundant of health benefits. They are high in fibre, copper, Vit. C and K. Pears are not conventional in what is considered to be an antioxidant, but these fall fruit along with apples are very helpful for chronic illness, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant function.  If you are choosing your pears to enjoy… choose them juicy!!! Pears and how they can benefit your health

Naturally sweet juicy fruit is good for Vata’s.  Sour flavours too, a squeeze of lemon or lime, oranges and ‘Pomegranates’. Pomegranates, are a fruit of the fall and winter months. These bright red coloured fruit is very important and hold a lot of antioxidant functions. Important for vata season where we need to build and increase our immune systems.  Pomegranates canIMG_2399 be a sweet and sour, and is considered a sour that is tri-dosha. Good for all constitutions.  In Ayurveda, pomegranates are used medicinally, as well as for food. When consumed as a whole, including the skins it is great for our digestion, dealing with parasites and more.   Enjoying the fruit inside too has many health benefits; anti aging, immune system boosting and antioxidant and good for heart health. You can eat the fruit as a whole or make juice with it.  And remember, we are pacifying vata dosha, so we only want to consume foods that are room temperature or warmed. Cold food, drinks and food are to be avoided. Pomegranates are also lovely to have warmed to enjoy as a tea.  Health Benefits of pomegranate and Ayurveda uses

Nuts, which are good healthy fats and healthy fats are important for vata to eat. Almonds, cashews and pistachios are especially beneficial for vata. May be good to soak them or mix them with some sesame oil, olive oil, or sunflower seed oil, and add a little rock salt or sea salt for taste.  Sesame Seeds too are very good for vata.  If eating dry fruit, you may wish to soak them to add some moisture. Oatmeal, cream of wheat, or if gluten intolerant or celiac then choosing a quinoa, sorghum or cornmeal to make a porridge for breakfast in the morning to add warmth and moisture may be a wonderful way to start the day. However, bear in mind that if you’re a Vata with Kahpa imbalance you may need to choose foods to help balance both doshas. An Ayurveda practitioner can help you with this.

Dairy is okay for Vata Dosha, and having a glass of warm milk at night with pure saffron – or with tumeric and a bit of cinnamon, is lovely too, {saffron has wonderful benefits for vata dosha. Saffron and it’s benefits.}Personally being vegan I drink almond or cashew milks. Therefore, if you too follow a plant based diet, you would look at non dairy alternatives.  As well, same if you have lactose intolerance or are Kapha dosha dominant with vata imbalance and create a lot of mucus… dairy is not your friend.  However, if none of these apply to you and you drink dairy, then choose Organic Cow. Or try Goat Milks. FREE from hormones, antibiotics and steroids.  And if eating cheese, you want for your cheese to be the same and free from all the above, as well as free from modified ingredients.  Cheese, is to be soft and moist as with cottage cheese or ricotta or goats cheese. And / or hand made cheese like paneer or if vegan and lactose intolerant then eat home made cashew cheese as an alternative.  How to make Cashew Cheese

Food is one aspect to help pacify Vata Dosha, yet it is not the only practice to use. Daily hygiene practices are very important in helping to calm vata.  One way of doing this is to use Oils. Oils add moisture and helps to retain moisture in the body and are just as helpful to use in our food prep and meals as it is to use topically.

Using a good quality sesame oil or olive oil to put in the hair and use as a body rup is most important to combat dryness in Vata’s.  Instead of store bought soaps that are toxic and dry the skin, begin to Oil wash for your face daily.  Here “Wellness Mama” gives her Oil Washing regime Oil Cleansing Method . Vata’s tend to have very dry skin. To get rid of dry skin, simulate blood circulation and lymph circulation, use a skin brush and dry brush the skin before going in the shower in upward circular direction starting from the feet and working up towards the heart. Same with the hands and work along the arms towards the heart.  Do this before showering.  Then bathe using clean non-toxic skin products.  When you have finished showering pat dry the body to maintain the moisture and then slather your whole body with oil. Sesame oil, olive oil or sunflower seed oil. These three are generally tri-dosha neutral.   Especially important to oil your feet and hands and face and hair.  Even add some oil inside the nostrils. Leave on and allow for the skin to fully absorb the oil for about 10-15 minutes before getting dressed.

Aside…

The soaps you are using can be drying your skin. Here is a list of chemical commonly used in soaps and shower gels found in some of your favourite products bought off the self, and sadly does not exclude products in the “health food section” or even organic for that matter.  Choose products that are pure and clean and free from these chemicals.  Right here in Alliston and where I provide ‘Healing Journey Sessions’ in Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda is Organic Lifestyles… check out their product list! Organic Lifestyle Product List!

The following list of products are toxic and cause dryness and irritates the skin:

-Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Chemical agents which make soap foamy. It’s harsh, can irritate the skin, and even cause dry skin. Slightly less irritating is sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), but this chemical still causes skin drying.
-Triclosan.  An antibacterial and antimicrobial ingredient added to soaps which can cause skin irritation.
-Lye. A concentrated, watery solution of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, lye is often combined with animal fats to make bar soap. It is known as caustic soda, because it’s so corrosive. It may also cause itching, irritation, even burns.
-Polypropylene. Is  a possible carcinogen.
-FD&C dyes/Synthetic Dyes. Synthetic dyes that make our soaps colorful are made from petrochemicals that can cause allergies, skin irritation, even hives and respiratory problems. Choose brands that use natural colorants.

{List provided by Ingredients in you soap may be the culprit}

What about yoga? Where does yoga fit in to all this and how can it help pacify Vata?

Vata season or what most know as being fall and winter is a Yin time of year. This is a time when we need to begin looking at conserving energy. It is a time of year that we tend to hibernate, want to stay warm and be surrounded by warm cozy fires, wrapped in blankets and curled on the sofa, drinking tea, hot cocoa or warm milk. Winter is also a time of darkness and we tend to be more withdrawn and go inside both in a physical sense and spiritual sense.  It is a time when we are more introspective in our practices, both with yoga and meditation.

I find a good yoga practice for Vata’s  would be one that is grounding and nurturing for the Self.   Those practice would be Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga.  Yin Yoga is great for Vata dosha.  When looking at our physical bodies Vata is located from our lower lumbar /hip and down our legs. On an energetic level Vata is in the upper region of our head. A good balanced Yin Practice concentrates on these areas, stretching out the back, hips and legs and is a form of meditative movement.  Another practice that is healing, conserving of energy is Restorative Yoga and one of my personal favourites. Restorative yoga is a very grounding and warm practice, passive in nature yet quite meditative.

However, if you enjoy a vinyasa yoga practice, then begin to slow it down by practicing one posture at a time and balance your movement from left to right rather then practicing all on the left side and all on the right side; and connect to your breath, slowing down breath and movement. Vata is movement, air and space. High movement will aggravate vata’s a Hatha practice of holding would be beneficial.

As for breathing and pranayama I find practicing a 3-2-1 inhale and 1-2-3 exhale to be very grounding and centering.  Breathing into the belly, ribs, chest and exhaling from the chest, ribs and belly. Wonderful if you also tend to experience anxiety, very calming of the mind.

Another breathing exercise that I find most grounding and allows to focus the mind offering a very meditative practice is Bhramari or aka Humming bee. You can perform this either in savasana or in a seated Sukhasana (easy pose) or Padmasana (lotus).  I enjoy beginning in a seated posture and then moving to savasana while continuing my humming. This could be for 5-10 minutes or up to 30 minutes or even an hour. Once you lay in savasana, continue humming few more moments and then allow the body to fully rest in savasana and allow for the vibrational energy of the pranayam to resonate throughout your whole body.

These are suggestions to ease the transition into Vata season, especially those of you who are Vata dominant or Vata imbalanced.  I hope you find this helpful during these winds of change.  To be one with nature and find ease in it’s transitions… we strive for balance and harmony with the seasons of ones mind, body and spirit.  However, it is important to know that this is a generalization and a practice that has personally helped me with finding balance with my vata qualities. The best way to know what practice is most suitable for you is to see a Ayurveda Practitioner / Counsellor in your area.   They will be able to properly assess you and create a program best suited for your specific needs and your constitution.  For you own personal “Healing Journey” using Ayurveda, please feel free to contact me I would love to hear from you.

From my heart to your… Many Blessings and Namasté

Maa Moksha Anand {Michelle Joyce}

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Endometriosis… What it ‘Is’, What it doesn’t ‘Have’ to be & How Yoga Helps

It was through the regular practice of yoga that I can honestly say my symptoms of endometriosis began to subside and eventually became non-existent. Yes… I have endometriosis.  So I know very well what you women out there and even ‘teens‘ may be going through living with this disease.  I emphasize teens because I was a teen when the onset started and the idea of a teenager having endometriosis was unheard of.  Doctors didn’t take me seriously and even were patronizing in their care or non care.

When I was 18 years old I use to have the worse periods. The pain I experienced was like none other. Oh My God! I thought I was dying. Seriously. It literally felt like I was being stabbed in the abdomen. The only way I was able to find some kind of relief was to take my fists and press them in my belly while laying in a fetal position.  This was me for about a week before my menstrual cycle. Then there was the aching legs and lower back pain. This was unbearable and would go on for hours or even days.

I had no idea what was going on with me. I went to several doctors and the response I received was most discouraging and very insulting.  One physician told me after my examination “You have pain like most women get headaches“. This was a gynecologist, and Yes… that was his response.  Another was from a female doctor whom I was referred to because she specialized in Women’s Health, she told me that “You are just severely constipated“.  Another doctor advised for me to “get pregnant” and there were a few more… no need to get into all of the responses, lets just say, they weren’t very insightful.  Until one evening while at a pub watching the basketball game with some friends I had an episode. That is what I called them. Episodes. Well this time it knocked me off the chair in the pub, on to the floor in such excruciating pain (pain caused by the stabbing feeling in my pelvis and sheer embarrassment), it was so bad that my friend rushed me to the hospital.  I am very grateful for that moment, not the best moment to remember, but an important one; because, there in the emergency room I met a resident doctor who told me about this disease called Endometriosis.  And from that moment my life changed. I still remember his name.. it rhymed with Canola {dreamy smile}, he was quite handsome too.

I went to see another specialist referred to me by my aunt. He was a Godsend from Ireland. Older doctor and incredible gynecologist. He informed me that Endometriosis was a disease more common in older women 45 + years old and very uncommon to see someone my age of 18 years having it.  In 1993 a laparoscopy was performed and confirmed that I did in fact have Endometriosis. My diagnoses was medium – severe and the scar tissue and endometrium tissues was accumulated around my left & partial right ovary and all under my bowels.  It was partially cauterised where it could be and I was told that I needed to receive treatment as it may cause infertility and other health concerns.

At the age of 18 I was put in to a medically induced Menopause for 6 months and didn’t have a period for a year afterwards.  Wow… I learned quick what my mother was going through. Hot flashes, mood swings, short temper and I gained a bit of weight in my belly. Now, imagine being 18 years old and living in a house where you and your mother were going through menopause??? Yikes… it was no field day, yet at the same time I fully understood what my mom was dealing with, as she did with me and we got through it together.

To give you a general idea of what endometriosis is 
it is when your endometrium lining sheds outside of the uterus. It attached to areas within the cavity of the body and each month during the women’s menses it acts as the lining does inside the uterus. It thicken and then sheds.  However, creating lesions and scar tissue and adhesion’s,  growing on possibly the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowels, and essentially anywhere inside the body creating inflammation and pain. There is no way for it to leave the body. It can even grow around the lungs, bladder, cervix etc… I attached a link to provide you with more insight into this chronic disease and it’s
symTEXTptom’s. What is Endometriosis? 

Suffering each and every month does not have to be a way of life. I know that you may have a difficult time believing in this idea, but it is true. There is another way.  I have had 3 laparpscopies over the past 2o years.  The 2nd was performed in 2006 for fertility purposes, to see if all was clear. There was some more build up on the left ovary and around the fallopian tubes and I found out my appendix is attached to my side. The doctor removed some more scar tissue and that was it. My symptoms and discomfort with my cycle were still there. Not nearly as bad as they were when I was first diagnosed at 18 years old, but still present.

It wasn’t until 8 years ago when I actually began to experience a pain-free cycle. It was just one day I came on my period and had no idea. There was no P.M.S, no back pain or pelvic pain, no leg aches and pain, I didn’t even bloat, in fact other symptoms too were gone,  This was awesome! Even my partner noticed a difference and welcomed it.  We thought to try to conceive, as getting pregnant was difficult; therefore, in 2010,  2 years after I started practicing yoga, my 3rd scope was performed and every thing looked good. Infertility was a reality; however, there was notable difference from that last scope in 2006. All healed well and no significant new growths. The fertility specialist cleaned up some areas inside and informed me that my endometriosis was mild. This was amazing news. I attribute this change in my body, balancing of my hormones and comfortable periods each month to my yoga practice.

Endometriosis is an estrogen dominant condition. It is caused by an imbalance of hormones.  Practicing yoga helps to balance the endocrine system, bringing hormones into stasis through increase oxygen, blood flow, and energy flow to specific areas of the body. One the main areas would be our ovaries and the pituitary gland which governs the processes of our ovaries, adrenals and thyroid. And we need a good balance between these three for our estrogen, progesterone and the stress hormone cortisol.  

In addition,  when observing the  energetic connection. Endometriosis is housed within the sacral chakra.  The sacral chakra is located in the naval centre. This is where we would find imbalances in sexual and reproductive organs. Sacral chakra deal with our personal relationships, our desires, creativity and sexuality. It identifies with our emotions, so feelings of depression, addictions, anxiety are associated with sacral chakra, as well a guilt.  The connection to our endocrine system is our ovaries, as previously mentioned; as well, associated with the womb, genitals and kidneys. The sacral chakra governs movement and connection.  

So what does this mean? It can have many meanings. It could be that there is an energetic blockage(s) deeply rooted that needs to open to allow for energy movement and flow. It can be due to hormone imbalance or emotions held in the body or a combination of the both.  This is not meant to diagnose, it is to provide you with some insight and possibly some new information that may assist you in your healing.   There are some asana’s that you may do to help target and ease the discomfort you may feel with the endometriosis.

Will yoga cure it?  I don’t know if there is a cure, aside from not having a period any longer.  Endometriosis is a fact of my life and is still present. It is under control from what I believe.  I am at a place now where I can tell when my body is out of balance, some symptoms may re-occur, but there is an awareness. That is what has changed.  I am aware and have a relationship with my body.  There’s a dialogue that happens and I listen. You too can develop a relationship with your body by starting a regular yoga practice, taking time to connect and listen to the messages your body is sending you.

Here are a few asana’s to get you started.  Practice with ease and comfort in the pose and allow for your breath to flow… relaxing in to your exhalations.

1} One of my all time favourite is the restorative version of Supta Baddha Konasana or reclining bound angle pIMG_2462ose. You may perform this as a restorative posture with props or without. It targets all the areas that we want: Ovaries, groin, kidneys, womb, whole pelvic area, the back and legs.  As well, it is opens the heart and allows for expansion of the chest. It eases discomfort, helps with sleeplessness, calming and very nurturing. It can feel exposing for some who may feel vulnerable being so open; therefore, covering yourself with a blanket will help.    Yoga Journal ~ reclining bound angle pose

2} Padmasana / Ardha Padmasana~ Lotus pose or half lotus. This is an intermediate or advanced posture. This is another asana that helps to direct circIMG_2433ulation and energy to the groin and pelvic area. It eases menses and menopause symptoms.  The hips are required to be open to perform, and can be hard on the knees and ankles (not good to do if you have any injuries in these areas). To start if you are able, perform Half Padmasana. Yoga Journal ~ Padmasana or Ardha Padmasana (Lotus / Half Lotus)

3} Another favourite of mine and is a go to pose when I am having any menstrual discomfort especially in my back and my legs is Downward Facing Dog.  Also good to ease mild depression as it directs blood flow and energy to the brain. Stretches out the back targeting the kidneys, adrenals as well, directs energy to the pelvic area and hip crease, which helps with menses and menopause symptoms.  Since DWFD causes a upward stretch of uterus as in inversions, you may wish to only do this one during the few days before your period starts,   Yoga Journal Downward Facing Dog

4} I have a few favourite’s and Seated Forward Bend~pashchimottanasana is on the top of my list.  This asana gentle massages the internal organs, focusing in on the ovaries, uterus, it stretches out the back targeting the kidneys and adrenals as well, feels really good for that back pain and leg discomfort. In addition, it helps to detoxify and cleanse the energy channels of the liver and kidneys. In my opinion pashchimottanasana is one of the master asana’s. Yoga Journal Pashchimottanasana

5} The last one is Half Lord of the Fisher Pose, Ardha Matsyendrasana http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/half-lord-of-the-fishes-pose/ . Seated Twist. This asana  helps to gently massages the abdomen, the liver and kidneys. It ease menstrual discomfort and helps with infertility. Stretches and lengthens the spin so it feels really good on the back all the way up to the neck. As well, it offers a good stretch to the legs.  One more to add to the top of the list for master poses.

I hope you find this post helpful. There are many more asana’s that I could add that would be helpful for Endometriosis,  but I don’t want to overwhelm you.  Just know and believe that your body is designed to heal itself and yoga is a wonderful tool to assist you with doing just that.   Please feel free to send me any comments. I would love to open up a dialogue with you.

From my heart to yours,

Blessings & Namasté ~ Maa Moksha Anand

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Hello world!

Hello World! I like that.  Although, I suppose it may be a bit frightening to know that what you have written is going out into the world. Out there for all sitting at their computers or mobile devices to read, take in, judge, like, dislike and so on.  This is a time and age that we all have something to say. We did before, and just didn’t have such a platform to do it on.  I have been told by some that I should write. I have completed a couple articles and I write notes on the studio’s Facebook page, post pictures of healthy food and recipes that I have made, but I have never written a “blog” before.  So welcome to my First One! One of many more to come of course { wink }.

Before I get into the juicy healing tips, stories and all the greatness that I wish to share with you; allow for me to introduce myself;  I am Maa Moksha Anand, {aka, Michelle Joyce}. Maa Moksha is my spiritual name, given to me on my spiritual birthday August 22, 2014 by my Guruji Dr. Om Anand of Paramanand Ashram. Guruji blessed me with this name, it is the name that represents my True Self, my True Being.

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If you were wondering, Maa Moksha is…  maa means “mother” and moksha is “liberation“.  When Guruji gave me this name it all came together for me. Everything I have done up to that moment made total sense.  I understood my purpose.  I knew it before, I had known all along, as a counsellor, as a yoga & qigong instructor and now a yoga therapist,  I have the desire to help guide people to end their suffering. To help people find peace and love within themselves. I am here to help those find their liberation. That is my service.  Moksha means the liberation from suffering. To find your true Self & self-realization and end the life/death cycle. Liberation too can be in this life.  One may find their liberation in this life and embrace their journey towards freedom within, self love and true acceptance.

This is a journey of self exploration and awareness of what IS.   I offer ” Healing Journey Session’s” using  Yoga Therapy, Ayurveda and Natural Nutrition. These Healing Journey Session’s are done in a private space, a protected and held space for healing and self discovery.  I offer services in a private studio space at Organic Lifestyles in Alliston, ON and at Divinity Studio. As well, for your convenience Healing Journey Session’s may be offered In-Your-Home and via Online Coaching.

Getting back to the purpose of the blog. This is a space for me to share with you the reader healing tips with therapeutic yoga techniques, Ayurveda lifestyle information and practical uses, holistic nutrition… primarily plant-based-nutrition fact’s, helpful hint’s and recipe’s. It is a platform for me to connect with you. A space to open conversations, share ideas and interest.

A little background. On September 30th, 2015 I will be closing Divinity Studio Yoga & Health Qigong, (a yoga members studio in Alliston).   I have been called to do my souls work.  As difficult of a decision this was to make, it was what my inner guidance was guiding me to do for a while. I am letting go of the studio, to allow space to do what my heart truly desires.  My souls work is to work with people in an individual manner. Providing one-on-one Healing Journey Session’s as I had previously mentioned. I will continue to provide events and small specialized groups and workshops over the course of the year(s); however I truly love working and building relationship’s with my student’s on an individual basis.  Therefore, the blog will be my way to stay connected to the greater community and those on social media, the studio’s students and new students and clients.

Writing the blog will be pretty exciting. I am interested to see how it develops. The main purpose is to share and educate and hopefully reach out and help a few people along the way.

I hope you enjoyed the first post and my little intro. I will be posting another blog to follow along soon. If you have any question’s please feel free to write and if there are topics of interest I would be happy to hear from you.  As well, If you wish to see my bio, you are more than welcome to check out the Divinity Studio Website.

From my heart to yours…

Many Blessing’s and Namasté

Maa Moksha Anand

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