Sunday, September 27, 2020

Inhale and Exhale; The Benefits of Yoga


What is the "experience" of the breath known as prāna? 

Have you ever noticed that every yoga class begins and finishes in stillness, except for the movement of your breath? 

This is no coincidence, but rather a key step to ultimate connection between oneself and the universe that happens through the feedback loop of the breath, our thoughts and the nervous system that determines our perception of our experience of ourselves and our world. 

A balanced breath leads to a balanced mind and leads to a balanced life. Yoga is a vehicle for wellness because of its ability to promote health and healing through integration at physical, energetic, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels simultaneously. Though popularized as an exercise and relaxation tool, the fullness of yoga extends further, to also include self-realization and how to embrace the whole human experience.  

The physical aspects of yoga have powerful healing effects. By maintaining a consistent yoga practice one can increase flexibility and muscle strength. Scientific studies have been researching the effects of yoga and finding promising results for a wide range of applications, including, people with back pain, migraines, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, fibromyalgia, ADHD, and overall chronic pain. In addition, yoga can help increase your immunity attributed to a reduction of stress hormones produced, fewer toxins lodging in the body and mind, and the free flow of energy through the body and mind complex that boosts our immune capabilities. 

When the breath is balanced the parasympathetic nervous system known as “rest and digest” is dominant. When the mind is nervous and tense, the breath is strained and erratic and the autonomic nervous system known as “fight or flight” is dominant. The autonomic nervous system stimulates chemical changes creating toxins and inflammation, putrefying and dulling our senses so that they are unable to perceive directly or interact with life skillfully. In a chaotic overstimulated world it is easy to become overwhelmed and remain in “fight or flight”. As you may have experienced this way of life leads to stress, brain fog, and lack of energy. 

When we can balance the prāna in our system by improving our lung capacity, and attune to the breath as a tool for understanding our relationships and responses to life, learning how to regulate the breath to affect a clear mind and balanced nervous system, with parasympathetic dominance, we receive it's benefits of health and harmony to the physical, energetic, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of ourselves, as well as integrating all of these layers of ourselves so we can live in this experience of oneness and create a better world for ourselves and our communities.  

Yoga is a special teacher and opens the door for everyone at any mental or physical level. Yoga begins with the breath and can lead you down a life path of fulfillment. The clarity yoga brings infuses determination that is no longer something of the mind, but rather about being authentic and true to your nature, to yourself and those around you.  

Choose your yoga teacher wisely. Yoga has become popularized by those who do not teach its core roots to meet the perceptions of the general public and teach from their own limited or skewed experiences and pass that on. Yoga is a practice unique to each individual. Learn all the aspects of yoga in our next yoga teacher training, for an immersion with Chaya, diving into the depths and whole yoga spectrum to bring valuable clarity to your life and support you in your personal and professional endeavors to unlock your highest potential.   

Register during National Yoga Month and save an additional $50 off of the extra early tuition.

For more information about our Yoga Teacher Training






Monday, September 21, 2020

Experience the Peace Of Stillness Within


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 helpfulUjjayi 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.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

A Comparative Approach To Health and Healing and the Role of Ayurvedic Massage & Bodywork


Ayurveda, in Sanskrit terms, means the “science of life,” and is both, a first and second person approach to healing, that is personalized and a holistic. 

Ayurvedic Massage & Bodywork is a second person approach, which means health and healing arise from the activity or energy of a practitioner in synchrony with the receptivity, energy and activity of the client- “WE”, that creates the conditions for the client to also experience the powerful benefits of first person approaches, where the health and healing arise directly from a person’s inner experience, and tend to naturally cultivate and include the effects of second and third person approaches-“I”. 

In Western medicine, treatment is a third person approach, meaning health and healing arise from the knowledge, skills and technology of the practitioner. The passive patient only needs an open and receptive attitude. The assessments and treatments are typically fragmented and individuals are treated for parts of the body, managing their disease symptoms rather than getting to the root cause of the problem, keeping them in a cycle of disconnect- “You They”. 

Traditional western medicine may tend to overlook a person’s lifestyle, past experiences, conditioning and belief system as contributing factors to their symptoms. However, in Ayurveda, we focus on the person as a whole, in relationship to their environment and nature, balancing the “Five Great Elements” of nature to keep our mind and body healthy and in harmony, and through this, come to see ourselves and our relationship to life in a new and improved way to support our highest potential. 

Health and illness exist at physical, energetic, psycho-emotional, intuitive and spiritual levels. The human being is multifaceted, and unity and separation occur at many levels. Deep awareness and listening at all levels of being is a key to health. Lack of awareness and its subsequent disconnection and fragmentation are primary factors in illness.


Regular Massage

Ayurvedic Massage

Third person approach- You They

First and Second person approaches- I, WE

Fragmented, focusing on parts of the body

Wholeness, focusing on the whole person

Body Focused

Body/Mind Integration and the practitioner considers the mind, body, spirit connection

Practitioner centered, adaptations according to the practitioners training

Client centered, adaptations according to  constitution and needs of the client

Practitioner is trained in and focuses on the physical body and addresses physical symptoms

Practitioner is trained in and focuses on all levels of being and integration

Focus on relieving physical tension and injuries

Focus on integration, reducing emotional stress, balancing the mind and nervous system and either removing toxins or adding nourishment and rejuvenation, according to the client’s needs, resulting in alleviating physical tension, healing injuries and creating the space for the client to gain self-awareness into their own healing mechanism

Oil acts as a tool or aid

Oils, herbs or other substances are part of the therapy

Price range can vary from $ to $$$ and

Price range is usually higher due to the cost of equipment, products and specialized training of the practitioner $$-$$$

Duration of treatment may vary according to the client’s schedule and budget, usually from 30 to 90 minutes

Duration of the treatment may vary according to the actual needs of the client usually from 60 to 150 minutes


Physical health naturally corresponds to personal integration. Healing is not always synonymous with physical health or curing, but is always synonymous with the experience of unity. Therefore, the focus of Ayurveda and Ayurvedic Massage and Yoga Therapy is to focus on creating the conditions for unity and integration and allowing physical health to be a natural reflection of integration and evolution. 

Why become an ChayaVeda Ayurvedic Massage & Bodywork Specialist?

As a ChayaVeda Ayurvedic Massage & Bodywork Specialist, you will be equipped to offer your clients treatments in eleven modalities and learn how to adapt each modality to best support the individuality of each client. Each modality is different and will provide your client with a uniquely beneficial experience. 

For example, Pinda Swedana focuses on the balance of bodily doshas by the use of heat along with a specific substance suitable for the client’s condition. The heat causes vasodilation, which contributes to the overall movement of returning the excess doshas to their respective domains. Pinda Swedana is especially useful for clients who have asthma, arthritis, sinusitis, or Vata or Kapha disorders, though may be used for Pitta conditions in some instances. Specific procedures are dependent on the client and their current state and condition. 

After an ayurvedic massage or bodywork treatment, the client will experience a transformation of rejuvenated mind, body and spirit, with a reduction of stress, and improved overall well-being. This, in turn, will help support the re-balancing of all the systems of the body, including their immune system and reduce most medical problems. 

If you are interested in becoming a Certified Ayurvedic Massage and Bodywork Specialist, we offer six modules to teach you eleven ayurvedic modalities. We offer a promotion that allows you to take five modules and get one day free! We offer the flexibility to start any time and to complete any sequence of modules in 6 to 12 months! If you don’t want to take all the modules, you can register for as many or as little as you would like. All courses include handouts, certificate of completion and CEUs where applicable. We are CEU providers for NCBTMB #1192 for LMT and PACE for NAMA. 

Modalities include:

Garshana, Abhyanga, Vishesh, Shirodhara, Udhvartana, Nadi Swedana, Pinda Swedana-3 types, Dry, Leaves and Wet, Basti-3 types: Kati Basti, Uro/Hridaya Basti, Janu Basti, Full Body Steam, and Sinus/Sans including Pranayama.

For our schedule, to learn more about each modality, detailed information, pricing, and registration, click here.

We are offering our classes live online with excellent reviews and student feedback. 

“Solid 5! This was a full day of learning through handouts, visual guidance and hands on application. It was a well put together training that allowed all participants to interact, well-paced with plenty of time for questions and was presented in a way that made us leave wanting to learn and know more. I learned the types of Pinda to use for each dosha, how to make them, as well as massage techniques.” Kelsey Shuler, Ayurveda Practitioner Student, Lexington, KY 

I feel there is such a plethora of information it is so hard to narrow it down. Chaya is so knowledgeable I enjoy her sharing her knowledge with us and try to soak it all like a sponge . I enjoyed learning different aspects of Ayurveda and the benefits of Basti. 5 stars!! Feel very blessed to have this opportunity. Kristen Tyree. LMT, RYT-200, Fremont. OH 

“Lovely, educational and interesting. I am confident that I could successfully choose which basti for which client, run on time and use this during a massage. For acute joint issues or low back issues, I can add this to beginning of massage to nourish the tissue before I do my treatment. Chaya is wonderful, knowledgeable, encouraging.” Heather Welch, LMT, NMT, YT20, Sarasota FL 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The 6 Tastes of Ayurvedic Nutrition & Digestion

Taste transcends beyond the tongue's pallet to the flavor of our existence or our "zest for life".
Rasa is the Sanskrit word for taste and many others like enthusiasm, experience and essence, and also is the name for lymph that contains our ojas, or vital fluid, the building block of our immunity and ability to love and be loved. The various translations of the word "rasa" express its importance beyond palatability of how our food tastes to include its relationship to what our food becomes as it transforms into our essence and "juice for life.

In Ayurveda there are six defined tastes that impact digestion in the physical body and clarity of your mental state. All six are included in each meal to balance the effects each one contributes. The taste of the same thing can vary greatly depending on where it was grown, when it was harvested, the methods of production used, and how long it’s been sitting on the shelf. I’m sure you can agree not all the strawberries you have eaten tasted the same. Just as you want the best education and nutrition for yourself and your family you want to ensure you are enjoying your food in the best way for your body, mind, and spirit. 

Be intentional with what you are buying, how you prepare it, and where you sit down to enjoy it. I encourage you to practice one mindful meal a day, whether that be sitting in silence enjoying a cup of tea or eating lunch outside soaking up the sunshine. Now let’s learn how to be intentional on what foods you choose that work for you best!

Can you guess all six tastes? Take a moment to try!

In Ayurvedic teachings everything is composed of the five elements -- earth, fire, water, air, ether -- yet there are two elements that dominate and thus characterize the object or being, such as food or me and you! 

Six Tastes of Ayurveda

  1. Sweet: water + earth elements, cooling effect, increases kapha, decreases pitta and vata

  2. Sour: fire + earth, heating effect, increases pitta and kapha, decreases vata 

  3. Salty: water + fire, heating effect, increases pitta and kapha, decreases vata

  4. Pungent: air + fire, heating effect, increases vata and pitta, decreases kapha

  5. Bitter: air + ether, cooling effect, increases vata, decreases pitta and kapha

  6. Astringent: air + earth, cooling effect, increase vata, decreases pitta and kapha

Create An Ayurvedic Six-Taste Bowl

Choose from each category in quantities based on your dosha.Read about each taste below and complete ChayaVeda’s Doshic Questionnaire here: 

to see which tastes balance or aggravate your dosha

  • Sweet: Rice, beets, avocado, nuts, apple

  • Sour: lemon, apple cider vinegar, tomatoes, yogurt

  • Salty: sea vegetables, sea salt, celery, kelp noodles

  • Pungent: cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic, onion

  • Bitter: kale, collards, spinach, broccoli, bell pepper, zucchini

  • Astringent: legumes, tahini, cilantro, dill, microgreens

Sweet is a taste that I’m sure we all can recall, but there is a subtle sweetness in things you may overlook like rice. The sweet taste is soothing for the body in mind, but when consumed in excess it weakens your digestive fire, immunity, and is associated with greed. For kapha dominant people sweetness is suggested to be consumed in small quantities. 

Sour is associated with acidic flavors. Just the sight of a sour lemon can pucker my mouth and generate saliva! Common sour tastes are lemons, grapefruits, raisins, alcohol, cheese, yogurt, pickles, tomatoes and garlic. The sour taste enhances secretion of digestion enzymes, fuels appetite, increases metabolism and liver health. Biting into a grapefruit can really excite your insides and your mood! Kapha and pitta dominant people should be conscious of their sour taste intake because it can be aggravating and be related to skin rashes, heartburn, hyperactivity, and even anger or jealousy.

Salty taste comes dominantly from salt in our diets, although seaweed and celery are great salty additions too! Like sour things salty foods increase salivation and aid in digestion, absorption, and elimination. Salt is energizing and can help combat the feeling of dullness or lack of creativity. Salt is added to almost everything and can become addictive, it can disrupt all of the doshas so it’s best to consume salt in small quantities especially if you are pitta or kapha dominant. 

Pungent tastes are known to have a feeling of dry heat, which relates to many spicy foods and herbs. The heat can positively impact you to feel more enthusiastic, curious, and concentrated. Heat in the body is known to be cleansing for the senses, digestion, and most notably to clear out excess kapha. Excess heat can cause dryness, inflammation, irritability and anger. The dry heat commonly aggravates pitta and vata dominant people.

Bitter brings to mind leafy greens like kale. Biting into bitter foods like kale, eggplant, dark chocolate, and turmeric boosts digestive fire clearing out heat, congestion, toxins and allows space for more clarity and self-awareness. In excess, bitterness can weaken the lungs and kidneys due to its dry quality. If your vata is out of balance reduce your intake of bitter foods.

Astringent is also known to be a dry taste so it’s best to complement it with sweet or sour tastes. The drying quality helps to compress the body (removing moisture) therefore helping with diarrhea, decongestion, aid in blood clotting, and excess sweat. Emotions that are associated with balanced astringency are grounded and unified. While too much of this taste evokes anxiety, fear, and rigidity. Excess in the body may induce constipation, thirst, stiffness, or bloating. If you tend to be vata dominant reduce this taste. 


ChayaVeda's Resource Page includes Doshic Questionnaire, Recipe and more

Chaya’s Ayurvedic Guide Book (available with Chaya’s Ayurvedic Health Consultation), Chaya’s Kitchen, Ayurvedic Nutrition and Food Fundamentals with Recipes for Daily Living (available with Chaya’s Ayurvedic Nutrition & Digestion Program)

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Ayurveda and Preparing for Fall

In Florida today, with some of the hottest temperatures we've seen all summer, it's hard to imagine that Labor Day marks the transition from summer to fall. In Ayurveda, though, we think ahead and prepare for what's next.

Labor Day marks the transition from summer to fall. After summer breaks and vacations, not only do we shift our wardrobe, we shift our routine back to school, back to work, back to being busy and achieving our goals. 

Autumn is also a season of festivals and a time when we give thanks for the abundance of our harvest, and also when the atmosphere gets cold, dry, rough, light and variable and people with an abundance of Vata dosha constitution (composed primarily of ether and air), can have imbalances such as more frequent constipation, gas, bloating, insomnia, anxiety, and other conditions of dryness and of the nervous system, including creaking, cracking joints, spaciness and nervousness. 

The best remedy is to adjust lifestyle and diet to be warm, moist and soothing, and include internal oleation and digestive stimulation with the Ayurvedic style of cooking that utilizes ghee and spices and incorporating fresh ginger and root vegetables, while avoiding cold, dry, light and rough foods. 

External oleation can include a full body massage with warm oil (Abhyanga) and Nasya/SANS; sinus treatment that includes specific oil applications in the nose to balance vata and prana, build immunity and prevent colds and infections. 

Movement and Yoga practice should slow down and focus on grounding and stabilizing aspects of poses, incorporating forward bends, standing and belly down positions, with slow movement from one pose to the next, coordinated with steady even breathing, and a focus on steadiness, grounding and remaining relaxed, and choosing nurturing environments and activities. 

For more serious vata imbalances contact me for a personal Ayurvedic Health Consultation. Currently available live online with zoom. 

I also can answer questions in our ask Chaya column in our blog that I will share in future newsletters.

 Below is a signature fall dish that everyone can enjoy. 

Yellow Mung Dahl Soup (can also use red lentils, see notes below)


  • 1 cup yellow mung dahl
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups vata pacifying chopped vegetables like carrots, celery, sweet potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons ghee (sunflower or coconut oil may be substituted for vegan diets, though will not have the same therapeutic effects as ghee)
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds-(omit for pitta people, people with heat, inflammation, ulcer)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 pinch asefoitida (hing)
  • 1 small handful cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 5 curry leaves
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon  
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • Wash the mung dahl twice and soak it if for a few hours for better digestibility the rinse it.
  • Put the mung dal and 3 cups of the water into a soup pot and bring to a boil.
  • Cook on medium heat for 25 minutes, uncovered, discarding the foam and stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • Add the last 3 cups of the water and vegetables and simmer for another 20 minutes, covered.
  • Stir until smooth, the lentils will dissolve.
  • Heat the ghee or oil in a small saucepan until medium hot and add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and hing. Stir until the seeds pop.
  • Turn down the heat and add the curry leaves, cilantro, turmeric cardamom and cinnamon and black pepper and fresh ginger and stir and sauté for 1 minute.
  • Add to the soup, stir and bring to a boil.
  • Add salt and chopped cilantro.
  • Boil for 1-2 more minutes and serve.

 This is great served with basmati rice.

Yellow mung dahl is sweet and cooling and mainly calms vata and pitta, though it is good for all doshas. It is very easy to digest and promotes strength. Red lentils can be substituted for the yellow mung dahl, since the spices in the soup make it balancing for pitta dosha, who should omit the garlic). Red lentils are a good source of iron, are a good blood builder and liver cleanser.

 The seasonings help to balance the drying, light and astringent qualities of the soup that could aggravate vata.

Split Yellow Mung Dal Soup