Thursday, October 10, 2019

A Yogic Inspiration For World Mental Health Day



The state called yoga is a slowing of the fluctuations of the mind, and is the first thing discussed in the traditional practice, a holistic program for mental health that considers the close relationship between the senses, mind and heart. What we allow entrance to our mind through our senses creates desires, restlessness and often unfulfilled desires that create the mind’s activity of preference, clinging or aversion, derailing us from our true purpose and goals, and robing us of the precious space in our hearts needed to interact with life with authentic kindness. 

When the space in our heart is free our mind is free and when our heart is closed, our mind is left vulnerable to unhealthy distraction and actions that create a ripple of karmic action through our lives and the lives of those around us.

Notice that spontaneous kindness emerges in the act of letting go of your personal desires. Today, choose to be authentically kind, notice how it feels and the effect you can produce with your conscious act of letting go of yourself for a moment.

At ChayaVeda we teach the science of breath and practice breathing exercises that are calming, purifying and nourishing to our minds and hearts and contribute spontaneous kindness making the world a healthier and happier place.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

October is Healthy Lung Month; Breathe As If Your Life Depends On It!



Many books have been written about the science of breath from the yogic perspective and it is a main focus in the origins and most authoritative and respected works, such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, The Hatha Yoga Pratipika and The Siva Samhita and their subsequent interpretations. I have read and studied them and with some of the world’s leading authorities over the last 26 years have experienced this science and its profound life interplay and it's my life’s work to carry on the legacy of educating the future yogis and leaders of our world, and to carry on the wisdom to sincere students who are ready and interested in knowing the truth and awakening to their true self and what that even truly means beyond trendy lingo and generational gaps of time, which are illusory as well.

The lungs and the nervous system:

“The lungs are placed in a recess so sacred and hidden that nature would seem to have specially withdrawn this part of both from the eyes and from the intellect: for, beyond the wish, it has not yet been granted to anyone to fit a window to the breast and redeem from darkness the profounder secrets of nature. For of all of the parts of the body, the lungs alone, as if shrinking from observation, cease from their movement and collapse at once on the first entrance of light and self-revelation. Hence such an ignorance of respiration and a sort of holy wonder. Still let me draw near to the inmost vitals, and concerning so obscure a matter, make at least a guess”. John Mayow, (1674), Proctor’s A History of Breathing Physiology.


Breathing usually happens from the edge of our awareness, but will and volition are always at our disposal. Just as we can choose how many times to chew a bite of food or adjust our stride when we are walking up a hill, so can we choose the manner in which we breathe.

Most of the time, however, we run on “automatic pilot”, allowing input from internal organs and sensory overload to manage the rate and depth of our breathing. Yogis emphasize choice, and have discovered the value of regulating respiration consciously.
Yoga and Ayurvedic anatomy and physiology are not an erroneous mystical idea, they are clear and accurate scientific and spiritual systems and those who study and practice them, it their entirety, find that they reveal more about the internal functioning of the human body than any modern scientific experiment or explanation.

The mind, breath and nervous system interplay within a dynamic feedback loop that controls all functions of the body and mind. This energy network corresponds to the nervous system and is called the nadis. Energy is absorbed and flows through the nadis. The nasal passages have more nerve endings than the mouth, consequently more prāna, our life force, is absorbed during nasal breathing which also has a balancing effect on the nervous system.

The system of Hatha Yoga is composed of postures and breathing, and is based on balancing and increasing the flow of prana, in the physical and subtle bodies.  Prāna exists in all things, and is abundant in air, food, sunlight and water, and expressed through the breath. The key to understanding prāna and energy is breath. One who has strong lungs and good breathing capacity usually has abundant energy.

It is true, however, that the ancient descriptions of nadis and chakras bear a remarkable resemblance to modern anatomical descriptions of nerves and plexuses, respectively. Some scientists have tried to establish a correspondence between the two systems, but the assumption behind such an attempt is that the nerves and plexuses belong to the physical body, while the nadis and chakras belong to subtle body. In other words, they are the subtle counterparts of the nerves and plexuses. The currents of prana flowing through the nadis are the subtle counterparts of the nerve impulses.

The yogis did not dissect the physical body in order to learn about its subtle crosscurrents. Dissecting the physical body to look for subtle energies would be futile. They discovered the network of nadis and chakras by mapping the flow of prana through this network, and they developed this mapping ability through introspective experimentation.

This mirrors the differences in eastern and western thoughts and values. The east values direct vision of truths and pure reasoning, with a comprehensive and holistic approach, verses the west which values the intellectual pursuit of the mind and thinking, compartmentalizing and fragmatizing information.

Bapuji, Swami Kripalu states, "though it is correct that true realization is attained by actual practice, even so, in the beginning, correct knowledge is needed. After arriving at the truth, one should review his previous ideas. If one was mistaken in the past, these errors will be banished by new understanding. If it carries the truth, then both the mind and heart will be highly pleased."

The Yogi understands the relationship and interplay between the body, breath, nerves, mind, prana, and the universe, as all part of a continuum, and he does not set up artificial distinctions and borders between them.

In western thinking, however, there is great tendency for compartmentalization. For instance, the sciences of physiology and psychology have maintained their separate identities. Only in recent times have scientists admitted the psychosomatic origins of disease. Western medicine has now come to recognize the beneficial health giving and invigorating effects of correct voluntary respiration. It is not only acting on the lungs, but the metabolism of the whole human body, mind and consciousness.

According to Yoga and Ayurveda, disease manifests when there is an imbalance in the flow of prana because it keeps us stuck, separate, and ignorant, and allows for the accumulation of toxins, the results of undigested food and experiences, and doesn’t allow the light of clarity to shine. Equilibrium is impossible without the balanced and uninhibited flow of prana, it is the link between the layers of who we are, enabling us to be integrated, within ourselves and then with the world and beyond, thereby integrating different levels of our being into a functional whole.

With increased awareness and control of the subtle aspects of breathing, and appropriate posture sequencing, along with Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle, we can affect deep physical and psychological changes, opening new avenues of being to the conscious mind, providing  powerful tools in the pursuit of truly holistic health, personal growth and ultimate joy.

At some point, every human, will face a time when they will need a strong, healthy nervous system. They will need mental clarity and the back up of spiritual strength to handle the fast pace of change and the challenges of the world. The rapid advances in technology, psychology, and sociology will be huge. The chaos of information in the fast paced computer age will make it difficult for people to cope with their day-to-day lives. The body, mind and spirit will have to be organized to meet these natural human phenomena.

We can say with confidence, the way to do this is through the study and practice of Yoga and Ayurveda, whereby the body, mind, and spirit can be integrated and enhanced and we can awaken and live our highest purpose for ourselves and our world.


Get started with us Thursday, October 10th, 5:30pm-7:00pm, at our Breathing IntoSpontaneous Calm Workshop or at one of our immersion, certification programs that begin October 18th or 25th or a personal consultation or class at ChayaVeda Integrative Healing Arts Studio.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

September; Pain Awareness Month



We help people resolve pain issues all year long, but I just saw September was dedicated to pain awareness and a good time to announce the new law coming into effect in 2020, requiring physicians to educate their patients on alternate methods of pain reduction, that include massage therapy, yoga therapy and Ayurveda as options for reducing and often eliminating pain.

Pain receptors called neurons are on one end of nerve cells and on the other end is an axon, which connects to the spinal cord. When the pain receptor is activated, it sends a signal through the nerve, and subsequently through peripheral nerves, up the spine and neck to the brain via synapses between each neuron, eventually landing at the thalamus in the brain, which is a sorting station that sends the signals to the appropriate part of the brain. Signals are sent to the somatosensory cortex (responsible for physical sensation), the frontal cortex (in charge of thinking), and the limbic system (linked to emotions).

It seems there are several factors that affect how a person experiences pain.
In addition to the gate control theory of the thalamus are differences in emotional and psychological state; memories of previous pain; upbringing; expectations of and attitudes towards pain; beliefs and values; age; sex; and social and cultural influences.

Hence the experience of pain differs from person to person.

From the Ayurvedic viewpoint, vata (ether and air) are responsible for movement, and thereby govern the nervous system and the sensory pathway. When there is either an injury or an excess or irregularity of vata in the system, the nervous system will activate more, affecting pain level and perception.

Chronic pain can persist for months or even years after an initial injury and can be difficult to treat. People with chronic pain may experience sleeplessness, anxiety and depression, all of which are vata disorders and can compound the problem. 

However, support and help are available, often in the form of a multidisciplinary approach and with skillful integration of body/mind and contemplative practices of Ayurveda, massage and Yoga Therapy, where we work holistically, from the level of the brain, nervous system, mind and emotions, to the physical body and all aspects of a person’s daily routine and life.

This is accomplished with a combination of massage and bodywork modalities, yoga therapy tools and techniques such as appropriate movement, breathing, yoga nidra; a specific form of guided imagery that promotes very deep relaxation and integration of the brain and the nervous system and incorporating appropriate diet, herbal support and daily and season routines all prescribed according to the person’s Ayurvedic doshic condition and assessment.

By utilizing these methods, we can reduce the root causes of pain and its perception, whether they are of a pitta- inflammatory, kapha- accumulated toxins, or vata-dryness, movement and/or sensory impressions and nervous system conductivity and bring a person back to balance. 

The practices of shirodhara and yoga nidra are important for neuroplasticity and integration of the brain and nervous system, and change conditioned patterns in order to create a new normal without pain. The use of specific types of oils and appropriate styles of application or massage are best for calming the nervous system, for vata or pitta imbalances and dry, lymphatic drainage with silk gloves and/or powders work best for kapha imbalances.

These are therapeutically combined into a personalized treatment plan or panchakarma program for optimum results, (see previous blog or visit).

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

10 Reasons To Do Panchakarma


Ayurveda's Signature Integrative and Comprehensive Healing Experience

                                 10 Reasons To Do Panchakarma

  1. Eliminate physical and mental toxins
  2. Restore your constitution; physical and emotional balance 
  3. Improve physical, mental and emotional health and wellness
  4. Improve gut health, digestion and elimination
  5. Strengthen your physical and emotional immunity and become more resistant to    illness
  6. Reverse the negative effects of stress on your body and mind, thereby slowing the  aging process
  7. Enhance your self-reliance, energy, and vitality 
  8. Enhance your emotional strength, mental clarity and expand self awareness 
  9. Bring about deep relaxation and a sense of calm and well-being
  10. Re-Engineer healthy habits to sustain these improvements throughout the year

PANCHAKARMA is Ayurveda's traditional and holistic method of creating personal clearing and rejuvenation for the body, mind and consciousness, and an immersion known for its beneficial effects on overall health and wellness that strengthens the body's capacity for its own self-healing. 
The transition between seasons is a prime time to receive a panchakarma cleansing and rejuvenating program, though you can schedule one any time.
Programs are customized according to what is indicated for your constitution, age, condition and goals with a specific, natural, holistic, health promoting series of therapeutic massages and body treatments, specified diet, Ayurvedic health education, Yoga and Meditation/Yoga Nidra classes creating a balanced and holistic program to engineer healthy habits, improve energy, vitality, inner peace, confidence, well-being, longevity and purpose. 
Your Ayurvedic Consultation includes a complete assessment to determine the appropriate steps needed, from diet and treatments to yoga and meditation, and your Ayurvedic Practitioner will monitor you closely and document progress at every step along the way.
Programs are custom-tailored to your constitution, and current state of health and participants gain improved well being and in depth understanding of Ayurvedic principles, their self care and health and are inspired by Chaya’s vast knowledge, teaching skills and sensitivity, creating a life changing experience most people are longing for.
Ayurveda recommends Panchakarma to facilitate deep cleansing and healing of the body and mind. The initial stage of Panchakarma therapy is called Purvakarma
Ayurveda believes that the causes of chronic disease are deep-rooted imbalances in the dosha (basic body elements)-dhatu (body tissues)-mala (waste products). The following information will be beneficial in understanding the preparation phase of purvakarma.
It has now been scientifically proven that a natural purification treatment can successfully eliminate environmentally toxic substances such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB's) and pesticides from the body, without any negative side effects. A laboratory study at the Colorado University demonstrated that classical Panchakarma treatment eliminated up to 50% of the detectable toxins in the blood.
Purvakarma is the preparation for panchakarma that helps to mobilize and liquefy waste products (ama) from the tissues and to move it out towards the intestines, which then allows Panchakarma to flush them out. 

Panch means 5 and karma are the actions of this removal process that is tailored towards each individual.

Purvakarma is recommended for the full success of Panchakarma, though there can be benefits attained without it as well. 
The program includes eating Ayurveda's signature healing dish called kitchari, a delicious rice, bean and vegetable meal that balances the doshas and starts the process of detoxification.
Before the actual operation of purification begins, there is a need to prepare the body with prescribed methods to encourage it to let go of the toxins. These two procedures are snehan and swedana.
Snehan means “love” in Sanskrit, which is referred to as “internal and external oleation”. The internal oleation is accomplished by consuming prescribed quantities of ghee (clarified butter) and specified herbs along with external oleation consisting of Ayurvedic massage and body treatments.
Snehan reduces the dryness of body tissues (dhatu) and body passages (srotamsi). This ultimately helps in driving impurities out of the body during Panchakarma. Snehan mobilizes unwanted matter lodged in the body and adds to the results of Panchakarma. Daily Snehan profoundly relaxes the body and mind and improves the flow of energy by opening the channels of circulation. In addition Snehan prepares the body and mind to flush excess toxins and doshas from the system.
Swedhana is sweating induced by steam and is given immediately following the snehan to liquefy the toxins and increase the movement of toxins into the gastrointestinal tract to be removed. 

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.