Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Ayurveda Identifies 3 Root Causes of Disease

1. (Pragyaparah) Ayurveda's first root cause of disease is a mistake, mis-identification or misuse of the mind, in where one observes or perceives incorrectly. When we try to solve it from the place of suppression or thinking what to do about IT, that creates further fragments and divisions. 

Observe holistically, observe the whole movement of life as one, then conflict with its destructive energy not only ceases but also out of that observation comes a totally new approach to life!

2. (Asatyendriyartha, samyoga) Ayurveda’s second root cause of disease arises out of its first or even more specifically the misuse of the intelligence, and is the misuse of objects of the senses. We can also view this as wrong relationship to such objects like people, places, things, activities, and even our own mind, including its thoughts, emotions, perceptions and conditioning. 

To be alive is to be in relationship and we are in relationship to all things based upon the health and condition of our 5 physical senses; heard, seen, tasted, smelled, and felt, plus the sixth sense, the mind. The practices of Yoga and Ayurveda work synergistically, and traditionally, Ayurveda cleanses and balances the bodily humors or the material body, and Yoga cleanses and balances the mind and the subtle body, thereby creating the conditions for direct perception and harmony with live. The mind can take the senses, thereby the physical body, in any direction. When total awareness is achieved, and you know who the driver is, then you can go in the direction that you, the real you, really wants to go.

3. (Parinama) The third root cause of disease is considered the most important of all-Time. By Time, it is meant living according to the rhythms of nature and understanding the symptoms of change, which Patanjali also speaks about in his Yoga Sutras III-13 to III-16: as the sun moves and changes in quality and form, it governs specific functions and abilities. 

For example, the rising sun and it’s quality and function of creation, the mid day sun and it’s quality and function of sustaining and nourishing life, and the setting sun, and it’s quality and function of transformation. The same sun shines through each one of us, like unique pieces of stained glass, mirroring the same changes throughout the day, season and lifetime. 

Yoga practice is primarily for balancing the qualities of the mind, and Ayurvedic practice is primarily for balancing the qualities of the body. They overlap and interconnect, as both are the synergy of understanding how the body and mind, with all of their qualities and functions, are subject to change. 

An example of this is given by Swami Shyam in his Patanjali Yog Darshan: the transformation of water into vapor or ice and back again is representative of time, or the natural movement and change of the water element. Thereby, living according to Time means living according to the time of day, the season, the age, the constitution (dosha), and the condition of the individual and this brings and maintains balance and health. This is a fundamental principle of Yoga and Ayurveda and a prominent feature in Ayurvedic treatment. 

The formation, vitiation, aggravation, and alleviation of doshas or biological humors or elements, organs, tissues and waste products are governed by this alchemy. 

The Ayurvedic treatment process and the Yoga Sequencing is based on this principle of nature and balance, purification and harmony that these practices together achieve. The removal of these impurities of  the mind, senses and body that are obstacles to health also creates the environment for the individual to know who they are, to find freedom and live purposefully.

All changes at any level of the body and mind, are influenced by the forces of time and intelligence, and one’s ability to live in this awakened state of pure consciousness allows for clarity, infinite wisdom, good health, longevity and grace. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

International Day of Yoga; The 4 Types of Yoga Help Us In the 4 Pursuits of Life

On The International Day Of Yoga, ChayaVeda Integrative Healing Arts is getting into the essence and core of yoga practice, which begins with the understanding of the 4 types of Yoga that help us achieve the 4 pursuits of life.

Yoga is quite often spoken about as the union of “body, mind and spirit”, with many popular modern day brands, and actually is more accurately described in the ancient teachings as union of the individual consciousness with universal consciousness, which we have interpreted as a return to wholeness, which can happen when we are integrated.

The 4 Pursuits of Life are:
 1. Dharma: Right Action, duty, discipline, purpose, religion. One must be grounded in Dharma first, as it is what sustains you. 

 2. Artha: Prosperity, professional aptitudes, money and economics. 

 3. Kama: Sensual fulfillment, enjoyment, creative play, gives satisfaction to our mind and desires, but should not go against our Dharma, Artha and Kama

 4. Moksha: Liberation, freedom, true nature.

Consider using these pursuits to discern good purpose for your emotions, your responses and they will be transmuted for the free flow of energy that serves creation and integration. The mind is always in opposites, where are you in the battle of duality?

When there are questions of Kama and control, which are often obstacles to success, the clarity attained from yoga is our wake up call to be aware, which offers the way to a permanent solution.

When these 4 pursuits are acknowledged and brought into balance, we feel whole and complete.

Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras, describes the science of Yoga and the steps a practitioner must take to still the fluctuations of the mind in order to achieve its ultimate goal of kaivalya, or freedom.

The Baghavad Gita is a story that Yogis read in order to understand the human condition and how to live a yogic life. The story takes place on the battlefield of Dharma for the uplifting of the whole society. It teaches that no one can stay on the field without performing action, that everyone has to perform some form of action and that it is important to discern what right action is.

If there is any doubt, it will not work, but if you are clear, with no doubt or confusion, then you will do right action with your full heart, and you will be successful.

It's difficult to get to the truth with so much manipulation as the common way of navigating life, the Yogi must go higher and gain clarity to discern beyond the common and ordinary perception to know, which if unchecked borders on heresy, but when achieved is pure budhi, or intelligence.

In the Ghita's story of the battle, this is what it means to "fight and to hold your own".

In spiritual or yogic life, clarity of mind is so important to our success, yet we never doubt material life. Arjuna represents the common person who takes to spiritual/dharmic life and so many doubts arise in him. His teacher, Krishna teaches him that they have to be transmuted, otherwise he will fall back down into the trappings of the illusions of the material world. Doubts and all sorts of attachments stemming from ego come in spiritual/dharmic life and attempt to pull you down into the material world.  

The yoga scriptures teach us that it is important to fulfill our responsibility, purpose or dharma first. Then we can focus on our economic situation, Artha and desires, Kama, in a way that is balanced and leads us to make positive choices providing freedom. Consequently, when we don’t have the determination to hold to our dharma, and we are run by Artha and Kama, the wrong choices result, and ultimately pervert our senses, which are our doorways to true perception. 

Without true perception, we are on a treadmill or rather running in front of the treadmill leading to more wrong choices and an impure or dis-eased mind and body.

When we follow the 4 pursuits, keeping our commitment to Dharma, then we can live a life of balance and freedom from the bondage of illusion that leads to wrong choices, suffering and dis-ease.

This inspirational day of yoga is a great time of starting anew, to make the vow to understanding yourself at the deepest level of your existence and what your Dharma and purpose is. 

Often we can't stay focused on our Dharma because we choose the wrong one and we become "wishy washy" and indiscriminate. 

Through the practice of Yoga, which is part of Ayurveda, we strengthen the muscle of the mind and purify the senses so that our perception of our Dharma becomes crystal clear to us, rather than a goal set in the mind, but an intention of the soul. 

This clarity infuses determination that is no longer something of the mind, but rather about being authentic and true to your soul, to yourself and those around you.

Choose and practice the yoga that suites your Ayurvedic constitution:

Karma Yoga -selfless service and the discipline of selfless action as a way to perfection.

Bhakti Yoga- also called Bhakti marga (literally the path of Bhakti), is a spiritual path or spiritual practice, focused on loving devotion towards a personal g-d, guru and/or creation itself.

Jnana Yoga-(wisdom or knowledge) is considered the most difficult of the four main paths of Yoga, requiring great strength of will and intellect. In Jnana yoga, the mind is used to inquire into its own nature and to transcend the mind's identification with its thoughts and ego.

Hatha Yoga-is a general category that includes most modern day yoga styles. It is an old system that includes the practice of coordinating asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises), which balance the brain and the nervous system.

All of the paths of yoga assist in helping bring peace to the mind and body, preparing the body for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation, which are then spontaneous states of being that bring clarity and knowing of life beyond ordinary perception.

During these times of economic reality, it is this determination to hold to our vows and Dharma, while purifying the senses to get clear about our core values of life that will bring true and permanent riches, rewards, peace, abundance and contentment.

May the inspiration of this International Day of Yoga, uplift your souls and may all beings know peace and be free of suffering.

Monday, June 10, 2019

From Sharon the Professional Dancer to Chaya the Contemplative Healer

Born and raised in New York, Sharon studied dance at Brockport State University and then graduated from Queen’s College with a degree in Home Economics, specializing in dietetics and food science. After years of working in various unfulfilling jobs, she returned to her true passion: dance. As a tap dancer she flourished, she danced in Broadway shows and even traveled around the world. During this time, she was a tiny person living out of her huge bag in the city or wherever she found herself. Those around her did not understand her reasons for leaving behind a culturally acceptable career in favor of one as an artist, but she knew she was on the right path to finding freedom and living purpose.

For the next decade this was her life: living out of her dance bag and performing with all her heart and soul and with some of the worlds most loved artists and legends. But something was still missing and through the passage of time and injury, she happened upon yoga. These first yoga classes were therapeutic to work through the toll dance had taken on her body as well as her heart and mind, but soon enough she fell in love with the practice. Within one year she visited Kripalu Center and the next year immersed herself in the same Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training that she now teaches.

In this time, through actualizing lessons of peace and mindfulness, Sharon became Chaya. In her journey towards healing herself she merged her natural gift for teaching with her desire to share her lessons of healing with the world. She had already been teaching dance as well as various types of aerobic and fitness classes for years, so teaching yoga, Ayurveda and massage was the next step of the natural progression. She embraced the spontaneity of this period and actually moved to the Kripalu Center where she spent almost a decade healing and teaching. 

Finally she settled in Florida where she is dedicated to spreading the lessons of yoga, Ayurveda, and massage, that nourished and awakened her when she needed it, to others.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Elements of Life and Ayurveda

When asked, most adults would agree they are aware of what changes in their lifestyles would improve their health. So that begs the question, “Why, as a country, are we so unhealthy?” Most adults want to make changes but find changes are hard to make.  As humans, we like familiarity. You may have heard the definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. 

My primary job as a Certified Health Coach and Ayurvedic Practitioner, is to support my clients, with education, tools and techniques that assist them in re-engineering habits to move them in the direction of optimal wellness.

I see people experimenting with current diet and lifestyle trends, then wondering why they still have digestive, sleep, or other health issues and don’t feel well.  And that’s where, like in the old advertisement,  ‘the rubber meets the road.’  “Ayurvedic principles meet health coaching to get you where you want to go.”

There is a sharp increase in the number of people who are becoming consciously aware of their health, yet there is now also evidence that more people are living with chronic conditions and not able to live to their full potential.

With skyrocketing health care costs, people are taking a more proactive attitude and recognize that the investment into prevention, and that there isn't a "one size fits all" method, so personalized medicine such as Ayurveda and Health Coaching is a worthwhile and valuable investment and learning to take care of and properly utilize one's own inner technology to discover and develop ourselves, working with our inner state to produce an outer result, transcending problems and creating the ability to live and know about life, beyond our ordinary and conditioned patterns is the sustainable and smart way to live.

To know or understand life, we can turn to physics; the knowledge of nature, and a natural science that studies matter, its motion and behavior through space and time, along with the related entities of energy and force. 

Prior to physics there was a science of life called Ayurveda.  Ayur” means life and “veda” means to know beyond ordinary perception. So often it is termed “The Wisdom of Life” and understood and applied through the anatomy and structure of the doshas, which describes how the universe behaves to achieve rejuvenation and longevity through self realization, thereby in Ayurvedic Health Coaching, the central tenet is that life is defined as the intelligent integration of body, mind, senses, and spirit/soul or energy, not just a body-mind system, and the root cause of disease is a misuse of our mind and it’s thoughts, making up the way we think life should be, rather than viscerally understanding and knowing how life actually is, including the rules and rhythms of nature, and living in harmony with them.

According to the 5,000 year-old system of Ayurvedic medicine, the physical body and all of matter are composed of elements, that when combined are called doshas. The doshas move in and out of balance while governing all of our biological functions. It was revealed to the ancient seers of Ayurveda, that we, and all matter in nature, are made of these elements that they called ether, air, fire, water, and earth.  Modern science refers to these elements as basic molecules such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon, which combine to create our DNA.  

Doshic combinations are determined at conception and this Ayurvedic constitutional type is akin to our genetic makeup. Over the course of time, doshas change, going in and out of balance, and this flux is the process of disease.

Recognizing doshas and understanding their qualities and functions enables an early assessment of imbalances and the opportunity to adjust our choices in diet and lifestyle to restore harmony before a full blown disease state occurs.  Ayurveda teaches us how to understand the function and qualities of doshas in ourselves and in nature and the relationship between diet, lifestyle that includes mind and emotions, and their effects on the doshas. This is akin to the current fascination in the medical field with the study of genetics and epigenetics. Epigenetics is a newer branch of genetic study that, like Ayurveda, recognizes that factors such as the environment, diet and lifestyle, which includes stress responses and conditioned patterns that all effect our gene expression.  

Modern science is catching up to Ayurvedic practices, and new terminology such as epigenetics expresses century old ideas.

Combining elements of the same qualities will increase them, so we often say, "like increases like and the opposite brings balance", so understanding the elements in food, the time of day, the seasons and stages of life can benefit how we plan our daily and seasonal routines and how changing one's diet and lifestyle can restore a person’s true nature.

Knowing your dosha helps to understand your physical nature and subsequently tailor a diet and lifestyle to maintain a doshic balance, which optimizes your health. 

While understanding the doshas is not complicated, it does require skill and knowledge to assess, analyze, problem solve, and understand how the elements combine and change form, like the waxing and waning of the moon and the rising and setting of the sun, they have a natural rhythm, and increase and decrease according to the season, time of day, and stage of life, as well as diet, lifestyle, and attitude. This is why an Ayurvedic Health Coach and Practitioner is a purposeful health service to integrate into your health care team.

Recognizing the root cause of a person’s imbalance is not always simple, especially when the doshas have been altered so much they are unrecognizable. As in life, we think we see one thing, but it's really something else, because it has been altered by wrong diet, lifestyle, and thinking.

The elements of the doshas combine to affect or create conditions as follows:

• Ether and Air combine to form the Vata Dosha.
  -- Qualities: Dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile, and dispersing.
  -- Areas of influence:  Movement, respiration, circulation, elimination, locomotion, movement, speech, creativity, enthusiasm, and the entire nervous system and releases energy (catabolism).
  -- Times of influence:  In the fall, during old age, and between the hours of 2:00-6:00.
  -- Constitutional type: Auditory, kinesthetic, creative, sensitive, and delicate. When out of balance:  Gas, bloating and constipation, osteoporosis, insomnia, anxiety, and worry.

• Fire and Water combine to form the Pitta Dosha.
  -- Qualities: Oily, penetrating, hot, light, mobile, liquid, and malodorous.
  -- Areas of influence:  Digestion and transformation of food or metabolism, thoughts or intellect, discrimination, experiences, vision, complexion, body temperature, courage, and cheerfulness.
  -- Times of influence:  In the summer, during adulthood, and between the hours of 10:00 and 2:00.
  -- Constitutional type: Visual, similar to type A personalities, goal oriented, organized, intense, athletic, competitive, and prone to overdoing things. When out of balance:  Inflammation, skin issues, auto-immune conditions, high blood pressure, heartburn, anger and frustration.

•  Water and Earth combine to form the Kapha Dosha.
  -- Qualities:  Heavy, slow, cold, oily, slimy, dense, soft, and static.
  -- Areas of influence:  Structure, stability, and lubrication, as well as growth (anabolic processes), fluid secretions, binding, potency, heaviness, fluid balance, patience, and compassion.
  -- Times of influence:  In the spring, early life, and between the hours of 6:00 and 10:00.
  -- Constitutional type: Not as bothered by things and turns emotions inwards; larger structures, slow, steady, and grounded. When out of balance:  Obesity, allergies, diabetes, attachment, greed, and depression.

We need all 3 doshas to function, and we are all made of a combination of them in varying amounts. In human physiology, these three doshas interact in a harmonious and compensatory way to govern and sustain life. Their relative expression in a person implies a unique ratio of functioning according to each person's unique DNA (vata-pitta-kapha ratio) determined at conception. This is body or constitutional typing is called prakruti. There are seven types – vata type, pitta type, kapha type, and all combinations of them. Throughout our life, due to improper diet, lifestyle, and thinking, our doshas change in quality, quantity, and location, which creates our current state, conditions or imbalances called vikruti.

These Ayurvedic Coach blogs will provide information that may help readers to recognize personal tendencies and how a few simple changes in diet and lifestyle can go a long way to improve health and vitality.

Friday, May 31, 2019

The Collective Power of National Meditation Day

                   National Meditation Day May 31st
            The Power of Meditation Is Increased When We Practice It Collectively

In the west, many people think meditation is something they need to do, this is a symptom of our culture and misappropriation of contemplative practices. Meditation changes the state of our mind. It brings awareness, harmony and natural order to human life and happens spontaneously under the right conditions.

We want to create those conditions on a regular basis and the science of yoga, specifically combining specific movement and breathing practices, help to still the mind and prepare you for deep concentration and ultimately spontaneous meditation. There are many methods of meditation. Choose one that feels appropriate and comfortable for you and try to practice it regularly.

When we concentrate and are so still that we can focus our attention on one thing and hold it there for a period of time we become the masters of our mind and are liberated from the fluctuating thoughts, recognizing them as condition patterns to be released. This transformation improves concentration, mental and emotional stability, clarity, improved communications, relationships, and the mind’s ability to observe with equanimity. It helps us to be present in our body, use energy efficiently, increase self-esteem, self- knowledge, peace of mind, ease of well being and unlock our healing and creative potential.

Meditation is a form of stress reduction that also dilates blood vessels, relaxes muscles and creates rhythmic blood flow. The brain requires less oxygen and a state of tranquility is created. Once you are relaxed you will remain relaxed until the next stressor. Other habitual things one might reach for to offer an immediate fix of relaxation could have a rebound effect of constriction and increased stress, creating a roller coaster ride for all of our functioning. True tranquility from meditation happens through the expansion of consciousness at the cellular level, tissue level and systemic level. 

There is a difference between the brain being made quiet versus being quiet. 20 minutes of meditation is as rejuvenating as 2 hours of sleep and provides vagal nerve stimulation that governs all the functions and rejuvenation of the body, mind and emotions to return to our natural state of integration.


Select a time, twice a day is optimal at dawn and dusk, or if only once a day is possible try for the early morning and following your Asana and Pranayama practice is best. It is important to begin with a relaxed body so some preparatory Asana and Pranayama are helpful. Ujjayi and Nadi Shodhana are quite effective for meditation. The body will become accustomed to regular time and allow the meditation to deepen. Choose an amount of time to begin with, even if you can only devote 5 minutes, it is worth it, and increase to 15 minutes or more. 

The environment you meditate in should be clean, comfortable, well ventilated and quiet without stimulants like sound and bright light.

Sit either in a straight back chair or in a comfortable position, with the spine extended. If on the floor, sit to the front edge of a cushion to tilt the pelvis slightly forward, or if in a chair place a small cushion behind your back, which helps to support the spine.

Meditation on the Breath (physical)

To begin, sit quietly and observe the natural flow of your breath without trying to change or control it in any
way. Observe subtle sensations and then focus on one place where you feel the breath. When your
mind wanders away from the breath be compassionate with yourself and return your concentration
to the breath again and again. Be reassured that this is the nature of the mind and a way to build the muscle of concentration and stillness.

Once you’re still, you can direct your mind further with one of the following meditation practices:

Metta Meditation
Also called loving-kindness meditation is the simple practice of directing well-wishes towards other people. Here's How to Do It. The general idea is to sit comfortably with your eyes closed, and imagine what you wish for your life. Formulate your desires into three or four phrases.
May (I) you be peaceful
May (I) you be happy
May (I) you be healthy
May (I) you be safe
May (I) you be free from fear
May (I) you take care of yourself joyfully
May (I) you have ease of well-being

The idea with Metta Practice is to connect with the true meaning/feeling behind the phrases. Feel free to modify the words in any way that will enhance your experience.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Power of Healthy Habits

Ayurveda, which includes yoga, is a science that has endured for over 5,000 years. One of the reasons for its great longevity is that Ayurveda educates and empowers you to take responsibility for your own healing. Since you know your body better than anyone else, you can make health promoting decisions to bring your body back into balance with diet and lifestyle modifications tailored to your specific constitution, age and condition. As Ayurvedic practices become daily routines, they become second nature to you and your new normal. You no longer have to keep remembering to do something that improves your health.
As you walk the path of Ayurvedic healing, you will gain immense benefit by paying close attention to your body and how it reacts and adapts to changes in diet and lifestyle. Keep a journal to record these if you’d like and use the weekly worksheets to trouble shoot obstacles and document your progress.
You can also witness how Ayurvedic protocols promote detoxification and rejuvenation. The longer that you engage in Ayurvedic practices, the more adept you will become in understanding what your body requires. While it is helpful to have the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner to get you on the right track, you can free yourself from seeking outside advice for even the smallest of health issues.

One of the reasons for its great longevity is that Ayurveda educates and empowers you to take responsibility for your own healing.
Another factor contributing to the longevity of Ayurveda is that Ayurvedic practices are cumulative. Daily habits are composed of timely rituals, where each thing you do creates a ripple effect; from scraping your tongue to abhyanga massage, to drinking warm lemon water, to eating a lighter, earlier dinner, to waking up and going to bed earlier. So once the daily rhythm is established, even if you miss something for a day or two, the historical efficacy of the practice still remains in your system. If you are only able to do self-massage twice a week rather than daily, you still derive a benefit. There is no “all or nothing” phenomenon to concern yourself with and over time, you witness how the power of your healthy habits has transformed your body and mind. 
The doshas are also benefited from creating daily healing routines and rituals. Of the three doshas, vata is the most resistant to stability. Vata craves change and stimulation but has difficulty sticking to a routine. The mobile quality of vata makes it quite erratic. So if you have a vata imbalance, you may have to work a little harder and it’s even more important for you to get into the swing of a routine. Vata dominated people often wake up at different times daily, don’t eat on a regular schedule, and are constantly multi-tasking. The more you participate in a regular routine, the healthier and more grounded your body will feel. It literally will make a world of difference for your personal and professional life. You will feel greater focus and clarity as you move throughout your day. You can accomplish more and feel a greater sense of ease knowing that you have control over your circumstances.
Start cultivating your daily habits slowly and in small, measureable increments. Don’t try to do everything at once. For example, if you are moving towards eating an Ayurvedic diet, don’t attempt to change your entire diet overnight. Take one food group (e.g., fruit) or one meal at a time, and slowly incorporate the changes over a few weeks. Then move to the next group (e.g., vegetables) or meal for a few weeks. These adjustments to your diet will become habitual over the course of a couple of months.

Start cultivating your daily habits slowly and in small, measurable increments.

As far as daily habits go, select one habit to start with. You may begin with drinking warm lemon water, and a short breathing practice in the morning. If you forget one morning, just make it your intention to do so the next day until it becomes a habit. You can gradually increase the amount and type of breathing until you’ve created a comfortable and sustainable routine. Then move on to the next habit, such as doing some yoga postures, using Nasya (nose drops) oil massage (abhyanga) or having warm cereal for breakfast. What will automatically happen is that you will feel both the subtle and physical impacts of these practices and their benefit, leading you to become empowered to cultivate healthy habits.
Our Ayurvedic Consultation and health coaching, and community classes are an integrative program designed to help you create and sustain healthy habits to find freedom and live purpose by unlocking your healing and creative potential.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Seasonal Abundance From Chaya's Kitchen

                          Gratitude comes in many shapes and forms. 

Honor the seasonal gifts of nature’s bounty by eating locally sourced, seasonal food. 
We are given exactly what is needed at just the right time. 

For example, in the spring we are given foods like radishes, citrus fruits, mustard greens, chard, bock choy, basil and chili peppers that reduce the cool, damp and fat that can accumulate at this time of year. 

As summer approaches, switch to foods that don’t create as much heat like pears, avocados, cherries, okra, radicchio, watercress, watermelon and papaya and in the fall we receive apples, fennel, lavender, squash, and sweet potatoes which are cooling, removing the excess heat that may have accumulated over the summer. 

Of course we may need to make adjustments for those whose constitutions may be imbalanced and need special considerations.

Want to learn more? Register for our Ayurvedic Cooking and Food Fundamentals class and stay tuned for our upcoming online course, Food Misconceptions and eating for your constitution the end of June.