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.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Yoga and Ayurveda: The Science of Life

Yoga and Ayurveda: The Science of Life 

For Longevity, Rejuvenation and Healing

Part of the lifestyle approaches and educational training at ChayaVeda Integrative Healing Arts

Ayurveda is the oldest continuously practiced healthcare system in the world. It originated in India over 5,000 years ago, and is a global medical system based upon the “Five Great Elements” of nature, that includes understanding nature’s rhythms and laws.  

Human beings are natural beings, governed by all the rules and laws that other natural beings are governed by, and if we choose to ignore these laws then imbalances will begin to appear. These imbalances are the precursor to disharmony and disease in the mind and body.

This system of medicine understands our deepest connections with the whole universe and the influences of the energies that made up this universe and continue its evolution. We are considered a “microcosm” of the “macrocosm”.

We view the world through the archetypical elements of ether (space), air, fire, water and earth. Ether and earth are static in nature while air, fire and water are dynamic and ever changing. These elements have inherent energies expressed by their qualities that govern their functions. We are all made up of all of these energies and subsequent qualities, with each individual having slightly different proportions of the individual elements, making everyone unique in their own constitutional or genetic makeup.

Ayurveda assesses and treats each individual, according to their unique psychological, emotional and physical constitution. We evaluate the imbalances in the body through this system of the elements as well. Our world and bodies are in constant interplay. We are constantly adjusting to changes in the environment as well as new environments, and when these environments change or become imbalanced we are affected and will feel it in some way.

Ayurveda concentrates on prevention through understanding one’s own makeup, and the affects that the outer world, environment, diet and lifestyle choices make on our daily lives. Our goal is to teach each person how to attain optimal health through a deeper understanding of themselves and their own particular nature in relationship to the world around them.

Ayurveda is a system based on natural healing through strengthening one’s own body, mind and spirit, and allowing the body’s own natural healing mechanisms to work to their fullest.

The practice of Ayurveda includes lifestyle approaches, such as appropriate yoga, massage, diet, purification, rejuvenation, daily routine and imparts wisdom on how to live in balance with oneself and the environment and a profound philosophy that conjoins “Mind, Body, Spirit” as a framework for Holistic Health and Wellness. This practical knowledge of self-healing can be learned and practiced by anyone.

The Ayurvedic foundation for Yoga is an integrative one that sees everything in life as a harmonious dance as we move in and out of balance and towards the merging of our individuality with the oneness of creation. In this state of unity there is complete freedom and bliss.

In the west, the popularization of yoga has been limited to an allopathic and scientific approach to yoga and yoga therapy, using the mind to identify different diseases and holding to beliefs and concepts, where the key to understanding is analysis and logical deduction. In the east, in the traditional roots of yoga and yoga therapy, there is a holistic and spiritual approach, based on identifying different people rather than different diseases, and where the key to understanding is intuition, acceptance, observation and experience, cultivated and refined through stillness of the mind and adapting the practices to meet the needs of each individual.

In the west adaptation may mean what is convenient, which makes people vulnerable to scammers, or may be based on an allopathic model limited by the mind and reductionism in its scope of practice. In the east adaptation considers the Ayurvedic definition of health: as one who’s elements(doshas) are in balance, who’s tissues (dhatus) are well formed, who’s waste products (malas) eliminate properly and one who has a bright and shining soul and consciousness or one who is self actualized, grounded in knowing their true nature.

To balance our body, mind and spirit, we need to first understand the attributes or qualities (gunas) of the elements that comprise our constitution (doshas), in order to know their tendencies and functions, and how they move in and out of balance, the integration of the layers of who we are (koshas), and the science of creation (samkhya philosophy), to understand nature, it’s behavior and how it works, like physics. Then we can learn how the various tools of yoga, diet and lifestyle work to affect them and tailor appropriate practices and daily and seasonal routines that bring us closer to our goals, finding freedom live our purpose in life, unlocking our human and creative potential.