Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Q: Are Mushrooms used in Ayurveda?

A: In traditional Ayurvedic cooking, mushrooms are not highly regarded and you won’t find them widely used in India. Mushrooms are not technically vegetables, they are fungi, which Ayurveda identifies as being less than nourishing and creating some negative effects.

They grow on decaying matter and considered a polluted (dushta ahara), impure and unhygienic food (asuchi or ahara malina) and unlike plants that use chlorophyll to photosynthesize light, they lack light and it’s resulting affect on digestive capacity called agni and life force known as prana, and are thereby associated with physical and psychological disorders.

They are avoided in a mold free or anti-candida diet because they are a fungus and create damp heat in the body and contribute to fungal conditions seen on the skin, nails, hair and tongue.

For these reasons, mushrooms are considered tamasic, creating ama, which is like a toxic sludge in the body and mind, and therefore are not part of a yogic diet that also doesn’t normally include onions, garlic, or mushrooms. While not taken as food, onions and garlic can be taken as medicine depending upon the dosha and condition of the person.

Many people were brought up eating certain foods and dishes, developing a taste for tamasic foods, however they don’t have the same good effects on your mind and body and once you get used to the bright and lively flavors of prana enriched foods, you will not want to over consume tamasic foods again.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Communication: Chutzpa; Ugly or Beautiful

Since being in the health profession for over 25 years and as an Ayurvedic Practitioner, Yoga Therapist, Massage Therapist and Health Coach, relationship and communication are a core part of our curriculum, healing and teaching to support others and be a skillful leader, that it is within my scope of practice to speak and shed light on raising awareness of how we can do better to serve our clients and each other. 

This weekend I experienced a disconnected conversation with someone that is in a position of leadership in a healing institution. When this happens it catches me by surprise, because I don’t expect this from someone who considers themselves a healer, demonstrating the disconnect and dysfunction of health practitioners and those in leadership roles in such an important, visible and affecting position, contributing to the separateness of disease rather than being part of the unity of healing, and contributing to the world as a stressful upside down place rather than being part of the solution of turning it up right.

Long before wonder woman adorned herself with a golden tiara as a symbol of her royal status and  invulnerability from telepathic attacks, there was a golden tiara of a different variety.  It was the golden tiara worn by the High Priest, and a symbol within many traditions, Jewish,  Greek, Hindu and others of adorning these head pieces.

Known in Hebrew as the “Tzitz”, it was said to serve as an antidote to brazenness, aka chutzpah (both giving and receiving it, through the self actualization it creates through raising our attention to something higher than ourselves). Beholding the words, Holy unto G-d on the forehead of the High Priest, was enough to keep the beholders’ brazenness in check. In the absence of the Holy Temple and the Priestly garments that went with it, the sages say, one should always pray in a house of worship with windows open to the sky, so that one will be mindful of heaven and be humbled in its presence.

This is not to suggest that one should be meek or timid, rather that ones’ “brazenness” should be directed to heaven - channeled and utilized for the sake of heaven, meaning a connection to divinity and a higher purpose.

There’s “ugly Chutzpah” as in disrespect and then there’s “beautiful Chutzpah” - as in boldness, daring, bravery, similar to Brenee Brown’s research and subsequent book on daring to lead, and  a necessary topic of constructive discussion to counteract the negative impacts of immature, inadequate, ignorant and destructive leadership, which really is not leadership at all. It’s like hiring a life guard who may have read the book, passed the written exam, but still doesn’t have the strength or skill to swim or save another,  unless the victim also read the same book and they dog paddle together, ending up on the wrong shore. How many people will have to drown or be lost before it is recognized?

As part of this beautiful creation, we have the ability to access our divinity, perhaps symbolized by wearers of the Golden Tiara - a constant reminder of our calling to be - Holy Unto G-d, which means, be like the warrior, be bold and brave with an open heart, which results in being respectful, authentically kind, compassionate and virtuous which uplifts and empowers everyone and is at the root of healing and differs from being disrespectful, self righteous, passive aggressive, narcissistic and bullying which is disempowering and contributes to stress and the disease process.

There is no leadership or communication class you can successfully complete without purifying and opening your own heart to listen and hear the others’ and no healing relationship or leadership that can be decorous and up-leveling without it.

May we all wear our tiaras, mindfully, with humble pride, by remembering to listen with our hearts and change the world with beautiful Chutzpah, one heart at a time.

Monday, December 24, 2018

The World Health Organization Recognizes Ayurveda

In the Ayurveda Journal of Health, Fall 2018, there is an interview of Dr. G. Geetha Krishnan, of the World Health Organization (WHO), where he discusses how the WHO views traditional systems of medicine (TM), including Ayurveda, as important elements in achieving the goal of universal health coverage, within the broader framework of SDG 3 (Sustainable Development Goal 3). The traditional medical systems are understood as an integral part of the health system, and WHO realizes their role. He states that WHO’s involvement will have a very positive effect on the practice of Ayurveda across the globe and they will be publishing benchmarks for the practice of Ayurveda in 2019–2020.
He also states that Ayurveda is seen as a system of medicine by many people across the globe, though a large number of people see it as a kind of massage, or an herbal product. Nevertheless, in recent years the perception is largely transforming to be predominantly that of a healthcare system, which can not only take care of your illnesses, but also keep you healthy.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work and Why Our Efforts to Change Fail

It’s the time of the year of making all sorts of promises to ourselves, most of which we will break.

Desiring change is admirable, but, as psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic writes, “there’s a big difference between longing for the results that come from change and committing to do the work that such change requires.”  https://www.fastcompany.com/90276565/science-explains-why-productivity-hacks-and-resolutions-are-practically-destined-to-fail

Research suggests that our traits are fairly fixed, so seeking change that requires a personality reboot is more likely to fail. The United States Health Foundation states that behavioral change science studies suggest that it takes at least 1 month to make behavioral changes and 6 months to become part of and maintain a healthy life style, and that the key is to pursue shifts that play to our existing qualities and strengths.

Ayurveda, which is based on assessing our natural tendencies and looks at resetting our internal technology by understanding ourselves and our relationships to our thoughts and our environments, addresses root cause elements that create and shift patterns.  Our supportive 6 week and 6 month programs provide the support and time frame necessary to make the change you want to see to find freedom, feel better and live purpose.

ChayaVeda Transformational Wellness Programs begin January 22nd and 23rd with early bird opportunities through January 2nd. Visit: https://chayaveda.com/programs

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Wonder of the Breath

The breath governs movement, integration and connection, and is the link between mind and body as an integral part of the interplay within a dynamic feedback loop of our thoughts, breathing and nervous system, which includes the vagus nerve, proven to govern all the organs and functions of the body and mind. This energy network corresponds to the nervous system, in yoga terms, called the nadis, the subtle channels where energy is absorbed and flows through the body and mind. Therefore, when we control our respiration we control every aspect of our being. 

Different patterns of breathing result in various affects, and understanding how to use this system is foundational to the science and practice of yoga, and constructing an appropriate and effective yoga posture sequence coordinating specific breathing methods with specific yoga postures that are tailored to the individuals constitution and condition and for the purpose of integrating the nervous system, resulting in a calm mind, clear senses and perception to become free from our repeated thought patterns. The first limb of yoga practice begins with using the breath to move our attention from desires to focusing on our goals.

Breath is often referred to as prāna, or life force. The system of Hatha Yoga is yoga postures coordinated with breathing that is based on balancing and increasing the flow of life force in the body in addition to balancing the nervous system. 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 and when the mind is clear and balanced, the breath is even and rhythmic and the parasympathetic nervous system or “rest and digest” is dominant. When the mind is nervous and tense, the breath is strained and erratic and the autonomic nervous system or “fight or flight” is dominant. When we are in the “fight or flight” mode, our body and mind go into a cascade of chemical changes creating toxins and inflammation, putrefying and dulling our senses so that they are unable to perceive directly or interact with life skillfully.

When we can increase the prāna in our system by increasing our lung capacity, and steadying the breath to become even and rhythmic, the mind becomes clear and the nervous system becomes balanced with parasympathetic dominance. When the mind is nervous or tense, the breath is strained and erratic, depleting energy, and causing stress, strain and confusion or sympathetic dominance. 

A Yoga and Breathing practice that is appropriately tailored to each individual, removes obstacles that inhibit clear perception and prepares the mind for the process of directing it towards a chosen goal.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


PANCHAKARMA and seasonal cleansing are purifying and rejuvenating programs for the body, mind and consciousness. They are known for their beneficial effects on overall health, wellness and self-healing, and are the signature treatment of Ayurvedic Medicine also known as the science of life or life knowledge that is beyond ordinary perception.

The majority of clinical trials in Ayurveda have been conducted in more than 40 research institutions in India, many supported by the government, with findings published in India and European scientific journals. Because Ayurveda has been outside the Western model of health care and scientific system, research in America lags but is growing and modern scientific studies are using their own language to recently say the same things that Ayurveda has been demonstrating for thousands of years (1).

Exploring larger evidence-base for contemporary Ayurveda is being studied, one by Ram Harsh Singh in the International Journal of Ayurveda Research states:  “Ayurveda represents the most ancient and classical knowledge base pertaining to life science, health and cure. It seems to have been the world view of its time, although subsequently the world view of this knowledge base shrank to India alone and India remained its sole custodian till the end of the 20th century. Because of its unique pro-nature vision, Ayurveda once again is gaining global relevance” (2).

Another interesting study was performed in the Netherlands with a group of patients with chronic illnesses, including asthma, bronchitis , hypertension, and diabetes, that were treated with panchakarma and other Ayurvedic remedies. Strong results were observed, with nearly 80% of the patients improving and some chronic conditions being completely cured. Other studies have shown that panchakarma can lower cholesterol and improve digestive disorders. Diabetes, acne and allergies have been successfully treated with Ayurvedic remedies, and many Ayurvedic herbs have been proven effective in lab tests. Ayurvedic treatments, including panchakarma, have been used successfully to support the healing process of patients undergoing chemotherapy (3).

One study by the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine showed the effect of panchakarma and Ayurvedic treatment in postpartum rheumatoid arthritis to be beneficial in causing remission after 4 months of treatment.(4)

Currently, the National Institute of Health (NIH) is also funding studies on Ayurveda. Outside of scientific research, there are many patients who give testimonials to the effectiveness of panchakarma, which may be obtained from Ayurvedic clinics (4).
Significant improvements were found in self-efficacy towards using Ayurveda to improve health and reported positive health behaviors. In addition, perceived social support and depression showed significant improvements 3 months post program after the subjects had returned to their home context. As a program of behavior change, our preliminary results suggest that the complex intervention, panchakarma, may be effective in assisting one's expected and reported adherence to new and healthier behavior patterns (4).

There are many testimonials for Ayurveda and specifically it’s panchakarma therapy, in that it eliminates physical & mental toxins, restores physical, constitutional & emotional balance, improves physical, mental & emotional health, strengthens physical & emotional immunity, deepens physical & mental relaxation, improves physical & mental energy, improves physical & emotional vitality, improves physical & mental clarity, improves gut health, improves brain health, improves circulation, improves digestion, improves skin, improves the microbiome, improves the RhinoSinoBiome, slows the aging process and increases one’s sense of well-being.

Panchakarma is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat almost all diseases, particularly those that are chronic, metabolic or stress-related in origin. Panchakarma has been used to treat allergies, asthma , arthritis, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome , colitis, high cholesterol, depression , diabetes, digestive disorders, heart disease, hypertension , immune problems, infections , inflammation, insomnia , nervous disorders, obesity , skin problems, and ulcers. Panchakarma may be used alongside intensive conventional treatments including chemotherapy and surgery, to support healing and recovery. Panchakarma is safe and non-toxic, and can be used as prevention and to increase general well-being. Panchakarma is limited in treating traumatic injuries, acute pain, and conditions requiring immediate surgery or invasive procedures (5).

Panchakarma is based on central concepts of Ayurveda, which state that disease is caused by the build-up of toxic substances in the body and by imbalances in the body and mind (5).

The ideas behind panchakarma have influenced other alternative treatments. Environmental medicine studies how the accumulation of environmental substances in the body may cause disease, and detoxification therapy utilizes cleansing the body as its central treatment (5).

The first step of any Ayurvedic treatment is a thorough examination and diagnosis by an Ayurvedic practitioner, who determines the type and extent of panchakarma treatment required. According to Ayurvedic theory, physical and emotional traits are classified as three doshasvata, pitta and kapha. Each individual has all three doshas with one predominating. If an imbalance occurs, diseases/conditions appear. Panchakarma rebalances the doshas, bringing them back to equilibrium and the individual back to good health. The physician may prescribe herbal remedies and recommend dietary and lifestyle changes that may be enacted before, during and after panchakarma (5).

Ayurvedic doctors believe that disease generally starts in the digestive tract. Due to poor diets, bad health habits, and other causes, digestion can be impaired, causing a toxic substance called ama to accumulate in the body. Ama interferes with normal functioning and the flow of energy, creating imbalances and disease. One goal of panchakarma is to cleanse the body of excess ama, and to restore the body's digestive integrity (agni ) (5).

In panchakarma, there are two main types of therapy.  Shamana are the supportive therapies that include the preparation and post-therapy measures. The main treatment is called shodhana and refers to pancakarma's five main cleansing and elimination procedures. During preparation for panchakarma, internal and external oil therapy (termed snehana in Ayurveda) is the first treatment. Patients are given oil massages—abhyanga is is a rhythmic full-body massage that promotes arterial and lymphatic circulation and drainage that facilitates cleansing, rejuvenation, and deep relaxation. The heated Ayurvedic oils are selected according to one’s dosha and condition, and shirodhara where warm Ayurvedic oil is poured in a gentle stream onto the forehead in specific patterns alleviates stress and related mental  and emotional conditions, is good for brain health and nourishment, and soothing and calming the nervous system, by synchronizing brain waves, stilling the mind, enhancing blood circulation to the brain, nourishing the hair and scalp and aiding in the release of stress and tension, it is energizing yet relaxing. Sweating therapy (swedana ) is another treatment that uses sauna, steam, heated towels, herbal poultices, and exercise, depending upon the person. They are also fed dietary oils to lubricate the digestive tract. This internal oleation therapy may be used for up to a week before the main treatment. Oil enemas are sometimes recommended as well(5).

After cleansing methods are performed, patients go through an important aftercare stage called paschata karma or rasayana therapy. Patients are advised to rest, avoid certain activities, and often receive additional and continued attention and guidance from their Ayurvedic Practitioner, which may include Ayurvedic psychological care and counseling as part of the healing program, as panchakarma strives to cleanse the patient of emotional problems in addition to physical ones. Patients are also educated about preventative practices. Dietary changes are carefully planned, and lifestyle considerations are examined and recommended. Exercise programs, such as yoga , and stress-management techniques, including meditation or yoga nidra , may be introduced to patients during or after panchakarma, and herbal remedies may be recommended as well (5).

Panchakarma treatment can vary in length from a couple days to several weeks. Some clinics offer in-patient services, during which patients are intensively treated around the clock with medical supervision, dietary therapy, exercise, yoga, meditation, massage, and other therapies. Most clinics offer out-patient services, during which panchakarma treatments may take two or more hours per day until completed. Some clinics provide housing arrangements for visiting patients (5).

Patients should be thoroughly assessed and cared for by a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner. Patients should seek panchakarma treatment from reputable clinics with adequate staff and facilities(5).

Certain panchakarma methods are not appropriate for specific health problems, and some should not be performed or should be modified for children, pregnant women, and the elderly. Panchakarma treatments should only be administered by qualified and experienced practitioners (5).

ChayaVeda's programs are tailored according to each individual’s constitution, age, condition and specific needs and are a unique, natural, holistic, health-giving series of therapeutic treatments that consist of a balance of cleansing and rejuvenating body therapies that remove deep seated toxins, open the subtle channels of the body and mind and are life-enhancing, improving energy, vitality, inner peace, confidence and well-being.  Chaya’s Ayurvedic Consultation and Health Coaching, assure proper assessment, therapies, education and support life enriching and sustained results.

1 . Journal of Research in Ayurveda, Ayurvedic research and methodology: Present status and future strategies
Ashutosh Chauhan, Deepak Kumar Semwal,1 Satyendra Prasad Mishra,2 and Ruchi Badoni Semwal3
Ayu. 2015 Oct-Dec; 36(4): 364–369.doi:  10.4103/0974-8520.190699
2 . Exploring larger evidence-base for contemporary Ayurveda, Ram Harsh Singh
Int J Ayurveda Res. 2010 Apr-Jun; 1(2): 65–66.
doi:  10.4103/0974-7788.64394,PMCID: PMC2924985,PMID: 20814517
3 . Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine Volume 8, Issue 1, January–March 2017, Pages 42-44 Effect of panchakarma and Ayurvedic treatment in postpartum rheumatoid arthritis (amavata): A case study Author links open overlay panelShailesh V.DeshpandeaVaishali S.DeshpandebShraddha S.Potdara
4 . Ayurveda and Panchakarma: Measuring the Effects of a Holistic Health Intervention
L. A. Conboy, 1 ,* Ingrid Edshteyn, 1 and Hilary Garivaltis 2 ScientificWorldJournal. 2009; 9: 272–280.
Published online 2009 Apr 27. doi:  10.1100/tsw.2009.35
5 . Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine
COPYRIGHT 2005 The Gale Group, Inc.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Inspiring Women In Leadership Conference at UF

The holistic tone of the program demonstrated the insight and awareness of the brain child of this event, Laurel Brown and the program participants soaked it up like a sponge. Laurel and her team assisted by Katie MacWilkinson and overseen and supported by the Distance & Continuing Education team directors Andy Campbell and Dr. Brian Marchman collaborated skillfully to make this a successful, purposeful and fun event.

All the presenters and panels had nuggets of information, experiences and exercises to share that were holistic in nature, expressing the ability for everyone to do their own inner work and unlock their highest potential by being authentic, embracing their passions, utilizing FEAR management: Faith, Essentialism, Action and Resilience. (Gee, sounds like one of my programs, LOL) It was nice to be a student among so many other esteemed, established, successful, wise and wonderful women and a few awesome men. It was refreshing to be in the company of other leaders and business owners that were on the same page of inner growth to overcome challenges and be their best selves in offering their products or services to our community and many of its institutions.

The opening keynote speaker, Jennifer Ransaw Smith, set the tone with equating branding to a personal elevation lab, exploring words to re engineer your narrative.

Nadia Alcide on effective delegation began with an exercise in realizing our uniqueness and how we often lose it when we compare ourselves to others. Leaders don’t use their energy trying to “fit in” and forget their uniqueness, but rather tap into it and live fearlessly authentic.

Julianne McGuinness gave a thorough presentation on learning to understand, manage and take control of your finances. She presented many interesting facts, figures and suggestions such as: though women have 60% more wealth than men, 40% out earn their husbands, women have more debt, own fewer  homes but have better credit scores than men, demonstrating they manage money wisely. Women’s products and pink products are on average 13% more expensive than men counter items. Women demonstrate they are more interested in a well rounded lifestyle to include purpose, physical health, community support, social activities and relationships, where men were more interested in earnings and willing to devote more of their life to working. There is a relationship to how much money you earn and your happiness, that plateaus at $75,000, above which it has no affect, and she suggests buying your home and having it paid off before retirement.

Tara Blythe asked us "what did you want to be/do when you were 5 years old? Me, along with 2 others in the break out session of about 50 actually did it. Many said they wanted to be dancers and she was a bit surprised when I said I actually was a professional dancer. Most people get derailed from their dreams due to fear and self doubt. She also discussed the qualities of an innovator; one who puts ideas into action, thinks outside the norm, improves the status quo, is an influencer and uses dissatisfaction to move to action, and just like with our health, every big problem began as a small problem.

Opening day 2, keynote speaker, Rachel Scherl, began  with,  " Life's a marathon not a sprint and Grow or it's an expensive hobby". Grow by identifying your core values and stick to them, work with the people you like and on the topics you like, it’s more important that you like the people you work with than the topic you work on, and don't lose your sense of humor.  Liking the people, includes a feeling of team work, which means they align with your core values. Mine are honesty, transparency, respect, reliability, consistency and kindness. I can forgo the kindness, but usually if they have the first 5, kindness will be a given. I've learned that working with people that don't align with my core values is not only irritating, it's not satisfying and limits potential.  She continued stating that those that are aloof or who don't follow through on their word, make their word worthless and insincere, and use up our precious time, energy and resources, so both professionally and personally, why would we do that? Which was another question that reverberated throughout many of the presentations. Remember why one does what they do.

Jennifer Webb, brilliantly weaving a tapestry of life teachings through magic as she skillfully gave an enlivened presentation about effective communication and utilizing personal influences to summon confidence to help resolve conflict. She suggests not saying you're sorry, or I'll try, but rather "pardon me" or "excuse me" or “I will” or “I won't” as a more empowering way to communicate. We as women are often saying we are sorry for every movement we make, and there is a social bias here that we must be at the forefront of recognizing and changing.

Laurel Brown and her sister Hollie Walker gave a heartfelt presentation about rediscovering our inner child, the treasure within, and reflected on the power of play in inspiring creativity, fearlessness, and using nature as a stomping ground for curiosity and laughter to build our strength.

There were panel discussions on handling bullies, bozos and bosses (could have used that earlier in life), on networking skills, being an innovator and so much more.

I mingled with other exhibitors about their services and learned about other helpful resources in our area. The food was wonderful, with a beautiful presentation and selection and so many trinkets and toys to remember everyone by.

At one point near the end of the intensive, the closing key note speaker, Judi Huller guided us through an exercise of "fear slaying" asking, what would you do if you weren't afraid? We had pink cards that said "Because fear is my homeboy I will............(fill in the dots). She then went around the room asking people to pop corn out what they would do if there was no fear. Cynthia Allen said she'd be on Voice, and the group asked her to sing. She sang the national anthem, ( I heard she had done that earlier, as part of an exercise in one of the breakout sessions with Gregg Jones on creative empowerment). The group went wild. I thought I had video recorded it to share, but somehow it didn't record and hope someone else caught it). Imagine this room full of over 170 professional women and a few men, on their feet applauding, screaming and encouraging her, though she was fiercely awesome, that is how women and men in leadership role. They get excited to see someone grow and appreciated the courage and broom stick of fear she was jumping over. There were tear filled eyes around the room because each women could relate to what just happened. In unlocking her fear, she unlocked it for all the other women. As women, especially those in leadership roles, we are not only the example, we are also a catalyst, in doing the work ourselves, we simultaneously do it for others.

Dr. Brian Marchman was called upon to make some closing remarks where he shared that leaders serve those that they lead, true leadership comes from one's own personal growth, it’s not about me, as he passed the microphone to Colleen Davis and company, who work in his department to address the group and close the conference.

What I enjoyed most during these 2 days, was the essence of community of people wanting to up level their lives with integrity, balance and authenticity and let go of the things that hold them back or keep them stuck. (Sort of like my programs LOL).

Being a sponsor and participant of this memorable, purposeful and powerfully holistic event has up-leveled my knowledge and experience of women (and men) in leadership positions and created meaningful relationships.

Thank you to the people who sponsored my participation and sponsorship of this event and its associated materials. It is a worthwhile investment into the lives of the 170 plus participants, myself and the thousands of people we will impact, as a result of this gift that allows us to develop, and in that become a catalyst for others to develop and more effectively serve. I appreciate this generous gift and your support and what it has done for all of us.

I’m looking forward to nourishing these nuggets of wisdom, friendships and personal growth and improving what I can offer to my clients, students and friends. Collaboratory for Women Innovators April 6th, The Women’s Place April 20th and The Women’s Health Retreat May 19th