Six Tastes of Ayurveda

At the age of five, maybe even earlier, I was often plagued by stomach aches.  It mostly happened after I ate.  My parents, relatively western in their ways, did what any suburban middle-class parents would do, they took me to my pediatrician.  I loved my Pediatrician.  She was untouchable to me.  It was so cool when she used a tongue depressor that was individually wrapped.  I loved the pink syrup she gave me when I had sore throats and I loved looking through the drawers in my waiting room.  Unfortunately, despite her coolness factor, my stomach aches continued.  There was no definite diagnosis and only some mention after an allergy test that I might be lactose intolerant.  The tiny purple pill which was brand spanking new on the market (now one of Pharmaceuticals top sellers Prillosac) didn’t even help.  I did do a little bit better with lactose free milk but ice cream, cheese, pizza, all those yummy kids foods always made me sick and were out of the question.

In my teens, my stomach aches got worst and worst.  After a trip to France, where I had very little stomach issues even eating their stinky cheese, I returned stateside with horrible cramping stomach aches.  After several mildly invasive tests, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  They told me it was a newer diagnosis that was just being used.   The doctor told me, “Eat what you can and avoid the things that give you an upset stomach.”  Duuuuuuuuhhhh!  That’s what I was doing.  Eating rice and apple juice.  Do you think I would have spent my time coming to you if I didn’t already know that?!  I was frustrated.

About the same time, my mom had picked-up a book from a garage sale and gave it to me saying, “I think this is for you.”  The title was Yoga and Ayurveda by David Frawley.  I had nooooooo idea what yoga or Ayurveda was (neither did my mom) but when I randomly opened it up, I saw charts of foods.  With a quick scan I discovered a book that discussed food as medicine.  I began reading hastily.  Within days I was learning that people had different body constitutions and foods reacted differently to different people.  This all made perfect sense to me.  It was like a lightbulb turned-on, one that was familiar yet so new.  I felt like I finally found hope for reducing my stomach upset.  That was the beginning with my love affair with Ayurveda.  I still had no idea what yoga was and it would be another three years before I took my first asana yoga class.

Ayurveda is a complete system of medicine.  Where biomedicine treats diseases with biomedical pharmaceuticals and surgery, Ayurveda prefers to use food, spices, lifestyle modifications, exercise, meditation, aromatherapy, mantra, manual therapies like massage and herbal formulas, or surgery in severe illness or disease.  Ayurveda’s focus is on establishing and maintaining health and wellness in order to prevent disease.

Hippocrates Food MedicineWhile many people believe Hippocrates coined the term “food is medicine,” this is actually an old Ayurveda saying that dates back thousands of years prior to Hippocrates.  Food is such a key component to health and wellness because we eat several times a day.  Ayurveda has dissected food to a science.  The reason why food is medicine is because anything we put in our mouths has a taste and a post-digestive effect.  Each taste stimulates a different part of the tongue which sends signals to the digestive system to ramp up for ingestion and begin producing the right enzymes to digest the incoming food or beverage.  Furthermore, Ayurveda explains how each taste has a medicine value based on its qualities and elemental properties.  It’s these elemental properties that act on the body in a myriad of ways to create balance, cleansing, healing or even imbalance.

To date, I know of no other culture or medicine that looks at food and tastes so closely.  This is different from the western idea of nutrient and vitamin values.  Nutrients and values are just labels but do not explain why they do what they do to the body.  Ayurveda does.  Of all the years I’ve been studying Ayurveda (over 16 years now) I am still fascinated by the science of food and the six tastes.

I’ve compiled a quick .pdf (Six tastes handout) for you to look at which gives a more detailed description of the six tastes and how they affect the body.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.  Furthermore, if you have more to add, please do.  I am forever a student, willing to contemplate more.

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Asian Medicine Wisdom for Autumn

It’s Autumn which means several things in my world.  Autumn is a wonderful transitional season.  The mornings begin to have a nice crisp in the air once again that just screams to the lungs…Wake up!   And as soon as I take in a deep breath, my body responds with AAAAH!  Oh Autumn, how I love thee.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a.k.a TCM, Autumn is correlated to the element of Metal.  For all you non-TCM geeks, without even having to try to figure out what that means just consider what the qualities of metal are.  Don’t give yourself an aneurysm thinking about it.  Just consider.  Let me get you started.  Metal is ___(fill in adjective here)______________.  Voila!  Now you can begin to relate to the season of Autumn more personally.  Consider how these qualities apply to your own life, your relationships, mental state, habits, or more importantly how you can use these qualities to bring more balance in your life, i.e. cutting things out of your life that no longer serve you or help you to be the best you can be.

Yes, Autumn, as metal, is more sharp or cutting than the playful energy of summer.  Things all around us begin to show their life’s cycle: wilting, withering, changing colors, falling off trees.  Woah woah waoh, not to get you depressed.  This is a natural cycle and part of your own nature of being.  Asian Medicine is all about celebrating the nature of things and since YOU ARE A PART OF nature, this means celebrating YOU!  This is the perfect time to allow what needs to naturally die away, go.  Let go.  The nature of Metal.  AND when we let go, that creates space allowing for the opposite to occur…receptivity or filling.

More TCM geeky stuff that you should know is the metal element is connected with the Lungs and Large Intestine.  The yin and yang organs of receptivity and letting go.  These images and connections become the perfect guidelines for the natural processes in our own life, no?

In Ayurveda, Autumn is associated with the dosha, or imbalances, of Vata.  Vata is represented by the elements of Air and Space just like the Lungs and Large Intestine.  In fact, the house of Vata is the…drum roll please…Large Intestine.  Coincidence?  Never is.  More like Divine connection!  At this time of the year, it is natural for things in our lives to become irregular, mobile, quick, dry, cold, light, and rough.  Not just on a physical level (lungs and large intestine) but at the mental/emotional level as well.  Both TCM and Ayurveda give us guidelines of how to live with the seasons and not allow these qualities to take over too much and create dis-ease or illness.

During the change of the seasons, Vata, the energy of movement, is predominant. It’s important to avoid excesses in all areas of your life at this time.  Breathing exercises and meditation are important to practice every day.  Begin packing a scarf or top-layer with you every time you leave the house, just in case the weather shifts.  When the weather gets windy, protect your neck.  Most importantly, nurture moderation and stress-free living to keep the immune system functioning at its peak performance.

General food guidelines to follow at this time of the year include:
1) Eat foods that are sweet (whole grains, not cookies), sour & salty (rock salt, not potato chips)
2) Limit the intake of spicy, raw, cold, and light foods. i.e. cold salads, sushi, and cold bean salads.
3) Enjoy warm, cooked foods, a variety of proteins, and healthy fats.

Consider, sipping on the following Vata Balancing Tea throughout the day to help make the transition of the seasons easier on the mind and body.

Ingredients:
1C water
3 deep breaths
1 Intention of “Balance”
1/4 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ajwain (available at most local Natural Food store)
sweetener (optional): sucanat, rice syrup

Directions:
Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and add spices. Cover and steep, or use a coffee/tea press, for 3-5 minutes. Sweeten to taste & serve. Serves 1.

Enjoy with balance and the intention of letting go those things in your life (thoughts, habits, relationships) that no longer serve you while being more receptive, or filling your life with things that DO serve you. This is Autumn! Enjoy.

Aloha & Namaste

To learn more specifically about your personal constitution and what foods, spices, beverages, breathing exercises and physical exercises or yoga asana are best to bring your body and mind into balance, call or e-mail Haunani today to schedule your private 1-to-1 session.

You are the difference!

Another blog discovered in my archives from January 10, 2010.

About two years ago, I was sitting with a close group of soul-sisters who are dedicated, beautiful, and ridiculously funny Change Leaders from the non-profit organization, Shakti Rising, in San Diego.  It was during a fun night of honoring the sacred feminine, speaking our Dharma, and uplifting each other to greatness, that I was introduced to this quote by Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world.  Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

We used this quote to inspire, thank, and remind the 100 volunteers that help run Shakti Rising that each person’s efforts were truly appreciated for the greater good of All.

As I do with most inspirational quotes, I place them on my altar.  This quote, in particular, I placed on my refrigerator next to the picture of Paramahansa Yogananda, Gandhiji, my family, and the Dalai Lama (the second altar in my house that reminds me of my abundant life each time I eat).  Each day reminding me that my thoughts, my actions, my words, my intentions are somehow in someway making a difference.  And if not in someone else’s life, at least in the experience of Love (God, Allah, Spirit, you name it)  flowing through ME in this body, this time around.

Recently this bright yellow reminder has been speaking to me differently.  It’s reminding me that transformation isn’t just possible, but that it is happening.  So, I want to share my “same-same but different” version with you as a source of inspiration, remembrance, and motivation.   A reminder of how AMAZING YOU ARE and how each and every one of your actions, interactions, and intentions are truly making a difference TODAY.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and passionate people can and will change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

Here’s to being YOU…thoughtful and passionate, willing and able!!!  Have a wonderful day.

Aloha & Namaste

Computer Age or Human Age?

Another blog I wrote on February 15, 2008.  It seems just as relevant now as before, except technology has advanced to the nth degree.  May you find some “aha” moments nonetheless.

Ancient Wisdom reminds us, “what we see on the outside is a direct mirror reflection of the inside.

I sat on a Friday night, tonight, February 15, 2008, thinking about this concept.

As a yogi, I find myself in deep contemplation often.  Where most of my peers in their late 20’s are off drinking at a bar, dancing, or getting ready for the night at 8:30 pm, I’m already preparing for bed.  I’d rather wake early to the sound of silence then stay out late in the sound of chaos.  Back to the point, so here I am Friday night reflecting on how the outside world is TRULY a direct reflection of the inside world of us, each human being.

I began to marvel at how wonderful the Internet and E-mail system has become.  How amazingly fast and efficient it is.  Click click click and I have a whole dissertation sent across the globe.  Click Click Click and I have music produced by a friend in France playing on my computer.  WOW!

Continuing to read Jeffrey Armstrong’s newest book Karma, The Ancient Science of Cause and Effect it became so clear and obvious to me how the Computer Age is truly a direct reflection in EVERY WAY of the current Human Age.

The Internet, or inner-net, of energy frequencies and bundles of energy and information streaming through space and time, from our home computers and from our computers we call bodies.  Information sent from one place to another, communicating long distances from brain to foot, foot to brain in milliseconds.  The Internet, aka “the Web”, is a direct reflection of the internal web within us.  The web of energy channels, nadis, (72,000 in all), acupressure meridians, energy points like satellites or signal receivers, vortexes of swirling energy that concentrate energy into particular areas.  The Web is our web.  We can take this one step further to extend our computer based Internet Web to that of the Web of Consciousness of All That Is.  The omnipresent Web of Consciousness that knows All and is available to anyone who chooses to tap into its frequencies…sound familiar to computer talk?

In October of 2005 I took a Healing course called Total Body Modification.  Although I never became a proficient practitioner of it, mostly because it was like learning HTML Coding (something I didn’t want to invest my energy into at the time), I definitely understood and believed the profound healing impact it had on the human bodies (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual).  Not only because it made sense to me but also because I could feel and experience the healing that took place when it was done on me.  Throughout this training the body was continually being compared to a computer.  Our physical body was the hard drive, the brain the internal processor, the heart the software, conductors and silicon connectors our energy channels.  It made perfect sense in a not so traditional way.  I got it.  How simple I thought, if a person can understand computers and their workings, they can understand the human body.  If they can take apart and put a computer back together, they could probably be an incredible healer.  Of course, in the back of my mind this gave me hope that my computer engineer brother who has been calling me his “hippy sister who’s gone woo-wooo” might come around to “get” me when he heard this correlation.  Like I said, after that weekend training, I used TBM on a few people while the language and protocols were fresh in my mind.  But after awhile, like learning a foreign language, I didn’t use it and I began to lose the language.

But a major lesson was learned and a new paradigm of looking at the human body and its healing capabilities understood.  Here, two years later on this beautiful Friday night I began to understand TBM in a deeper light, with greater appreciation.

If we continue to look at our external world as a direct reflection of our inner-world, we can also understand more of our human evolution in the past ten to twenty years.  Most importantly how quickly we are evolving as a species, consciously and unconsciously.  Consciously it is very easy to see how quickly technology, especially the computer industry, has evolved.  It was just ten years ago that the Internet had entered the public school systems.  Twenty years ago, I remember our school opened its first computer lab.  Dot matrix screens with green or orange print, dot matrix printers, and the only game available was Frogger or Oregon Trail.  The Internet wasn’t even an everyday word until I was in high school.  Even then, most home computers were on dial-up modems.  Remember when it would take 5-10 minutes for your computer to warm-up and dial-in?

Today, we are seeing faster, smaller, more powerful computers every month.  Not only is the hardware advancing but the software is becoming more complicated, more user friendly, and the diversity of programs is unthinkable as to ten years ago.  Computer viruses are becoming more prevalent, harder to track and able to destroy more information than ever before.  Sound familiar?  Our bodies are two upgrading, adapting, taking on more energy and changes than every before.  And like the Apple vs. IBM debate as to “stick with what I know computer” and not try the new one, we fight ourselves and deny change even if the other “sounds just as good.”  Internally struggling to stay with the comfort zone of what I “know,” refusing to even consider changing to another computer or different lifestyle.  In the process creating more stress or denying the inevitable change, becoming attached to something that is being outdated, thus our software systems begin to show signs of wear and tear…cancer, hypertension, migraine headaches, repetitive injuries.  We are definitely in a mirroring stage of existence.

While viruses become more and more ramped, at the same time the anti-virus programs, firewalls, computers that filter Junk and pop-ups are also growing at an astounding rate to keep up with the “negative” aspects of computers.  As a “healer” I can see a direct reflection of the number of Healers who have come out of their closet to step into their role as a healer in the past five to ten years.  Different modalities, creative, intuitive, channeled, and integrative methods of healing the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual body spring up every week.  They all work, and like anti-virus software, are becoming more and more powerful against the unforeseen virus.  Becoming more preventative in nature rather than curative.

Another direct reflection of the Computer World as our own is the ongoing struggle between choosing to stick with our old computer systems that we grew up with or adapting new systems that are unknown but sound more reliable, efficient, and virus proof.  Where some people take the leap of faith of buying a new computer and totally different computing system without even thinking twice, typically the switch from IBM to Apple (a more virus preventative computer), there are those who still hold on with a strong hold to what they know because they don’t want to have to go through learning something new or changing what already “works” for them.  Again, does this sound familiar to our conscious evolving (or not evolving) groups of society?  Some people quickly adapting to change while there are those who refuse to think outside the old paradigm box of what makes them comfortable.  A critical difference, once again reflected in our growing computer world, is that we can’t deny the change any longer.  It’s happening whether we want it to or not.

Consciously we can see, even in our economic market, that computers, their workings, software, and components are changing faster than ever.  Our bodies, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual bodies are ALSO changing faster than ever.  At an unconscious level, the computer industry may think they are working to keep up with developing technology, but perhaps technology is attempting to keep up with changing and evolving human consciousness?  My altruism holds faith in the later.  They are one and the same, a direct reflection of each other.

At this critical, burgeoning time of human consciousness, we can choose to hold on and refuse to change to a new hardware, operating system, processor, and software because we fear change, the unknown and we’ve become to complacent and comfortable to learn something new thereby inducing stress, virus, and other conditions or dis-eases of our computing systems.  Or we can take a step towards the unknown, go with the flow of change and ask for an upgraded operating system, processor, and software that keep us up to date with the ever expanding possibilities thereby reducing undue stress and dis-ease in the body.  How do you want to live?  It’s up to you.

Going back to where this whole article began, if the outside world is a direct reflection of our inside world, what else can we learn about ourselves as evolving spirits on planet earth if we look outside?  Are you destroying yourself like our environment?  How much pollution and carbon emissions are you filling your body with or are you choosing new ways of living that reduce these chemical toxins?  Are you choosing to live and support spraying your food with toxic chemicals and pesticides the same way you spray your internal organs with pharmaceuticals and drugs?  Are you recycling because it makes you look good from the outside and it’s the fad thing to do, the way you try to do the new fad diet or health conscious trip because it makes you look like you care form the outside?  How do you really feel on the inside?  What steps are you truly living because you believe in it versus the things you do because it makes you look good?

Remember our outer world is a direct reflection of our inner-world.  I challenge you to look at the outside life in this manner and than reflect on your inner-self.  See a resemblance?  If not, it was fun to consider this point of view and to write this article.  You read this far, which means something caught your attention and I thank you for your precious time.  For those who have read this article and truly “get it” I thank you too for your time.  May our ever-changing world continue to inspire us to “Be the change we wish to see in the World.”

Aloha & Namaste

The Synergy of Yoga and Ayurveda

 

For thousands of years*, Yoga and Ayurveda have been used to heal, transform and balance the human body, mind, and thus, Spirit. Through globalization, both have spread worldwide assisting people in reclaiming their health and well-being by promoting daily practices to create health, rather than relying on a magic pill.  Both systems were suppressed in India during the British occupation but continued to live-on behind closed doors within households and particular spiritual leaders.  The reemergence of both practices is growing at a rapid rate worldwide.

Yoga and Ayurveda are intimately connected and often hard to separate.  Ayurveda is the healing and therapeutic branch of yoga, also known as Yoga Chikitsa.  Yoga is the spiritual aspect of Ayurveda.  Yoga as an individual practice is known as Yoga Sadhana.  When we use yoga as a medical therapy (i.e. when students come to yoga studios because they’ve been advised by a doctor or because of their own volition to find relief from stress, pain in the body, chronic backache, etc) this is traditionally considered Ayurveda.  In addition, the Ayurveda view of the mind and psychology stems from Yoga philosophy, thus making the practices and exercises for the mind the same.

While “yoga” has become a more integrated part of the western lexicon, Ayurveda still is yet to be discovered, or used, in the same way.  For Ayurveda practitioners like myself, this is both a blessing and a challenge.  A blessing because it means the competition is low and the potential number of people to educate is massive.  The challenge is…the same thing.  That is why Breathe. Connect. Be. was created.  To educate as many people as possible.  So stay tuned!

The Similarities between Yoga and Ayurveda:

  • Life sciences (study and practice of the human experience in relationship to other lives)
  • Acknowledges humans have an intimate connection with Nature
  • We are all connected and are endowed with life through a force and source of energy called Prana.
  • Wisdom designed to help people stay vital while realizing their full human potential.
  • Providing guidelines on ideal daily practices, behaviors, exercises, proper use of the senses,
  • Health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind, and spirit.
  • Mantra, or sound, are used to balance the mind.
  • When the whole body is balanced (body and mind), we become more at peace with ourselves (spirit) and the world around us.  From this state of internal well-being, you will naturally begin to make wiser choices for your livelihood.
  • There are four main goals of every human’s life: Dharma (purpose, duty), Artha (wealth, prosperity), Kama (desires) and Moksha (liberation).

The Differences:

  • Ayurveda provides guidelines on ideal diet per individual constitution and health conditions.  Yoga has general sweeping recommendations based on the principle observances (eight limbs) of yoga.
  • Ayurveda uses specific asana (postures) as therapy for illness and dis-ease.  Yoga uses asana to redirect energy in our bodies for spiritual awakening or self-realization.  As you might here in India, “same same but different.”
  • Ayurveda outlines a variety of aromatherapy, gem therapy and herbal remedies for illness and dis-ease.  Yoga does not.
  • Ayurveda is a complete system of medicine (refer to What is Ayurveda? blog).  Yoga is a path of spiritual awakening.  Through the path of yoga is deep healing…mostly because when you feel better you begin to make better choices.

In short, Ayurveda provides us daily, seasonal and age-specific guidelines on how to best live according to our Nature, or constitution.  Ayurveda’s main focus is balancing the physical body and mind.  Yoga’s main focus is balancing the mind and expanding the mind to discover deeper truths about one’s self.  When practiced together, they create a whole system of life science medicine which is practical for anyone, at any stage of health or life.

Examples of conditions transformed through the integration of Yoga and Ayurveda: Emotional conditions, chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, irritable bowl syndrome, acid-reflux disorder/GERD, headaches, migraine headaches, menstrual problems or irregularities, low energy, stress, hypertension, anger, anxiety, neuropathy, lifestyle diseases (diabetes type II, hypertension, obesity), dis-empowering life patterns and habits, underweight, joint pain, post-surgery care, poor concentration and depression.

Benefits of Yoga and Ayurveda:

  • Deep Relaxation
  • Reduced stress & tension
  • Increased self-esteem & confidence
  • Better coordination
  • Weight loss
  • Flexibility
  • Stronger bones and toned muscles
  • Overcoming limiting patterns in your life
  • Breaking habits that do not serve you in your Highest
  • Inner-Peace
  • Balance to your overall Life Knowing your inner Self more intimately
  • Becoming more connected with Nature and its cycles
  • Deeper understanding and living your Dharma (life’s purpose…again, an individual discovery only YOU can uncover)
  • Deeper understanding and integration of the four human goals: Dharma (purpose, duty), Artha (wealth, prosperity), Kama (desires) and Moksha (liberation).

*The fist written records of Ayurveda and Yoga date back to 3,000 BCE

References

Frawley, David.  Yoga & Ayurveda, Self-Healing and Self-Realization. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press, 1999. Print.

Frawley, David.  Ayurveda and the Mind, The Healing of Consciousness.  Twin Lakes: Lotus Press, 1996.  Print.

Note: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This is a reference work.  It is not meant for diagnosis or treatment and it is not substitute for consultation with a licensed health care professional.

 

What does it mean to be “Healthy”?

These days, “yoga” is a household term in the United States, while the term Ayurveda is still unknown.  Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, is also Sanskrit and means Science or Wisdom of Life.  It is the oldest and most complete holistic mind-body medicine still practiced on this planet.  The ancient texts and complete medical books of Ayurveda are over 5,000 years old!  Yes, even Chinese Medicine has its roots in Ayurveda.  Ayurveda and yoga are two of many ancient wisdom traditions that have laid the successful path of self discovery, awareness and transformation.   Together they are a complementary medical system that helps us to understand ourselves from all levels of existence: physical, emotional, mental, higher/spiritual self and Soul Self.  The image above is a visual guideline of this roadmap showing the interconnectedness between self and others and how your personal health and wellbeing can affect others.

Ayurveda gives us guidance and blue prints of what it means to be a Whole Being.  It is the same map that helps one to understand what it means to be healthy.  This road-map to wholeness and wellbeing is called “Swasthavritta” or the science of being established in one’s self.  Ayurveda acknowledges each person as an unique individual with different needs AND at the same time is part of a massive whole (like the image above).  Ayurveda celebrates the connection of physical, sensory, mental, spiritual AND social wellbeing!  Yes, you heard me right, SOCIAL wellbeing!  Recognizing that individual health is just the starting point and social health is a direct reflection of healthy people coming together in union, or yoga.

You might be asking yourself, “Established in one’s self?  Don’t I live with myself each day?”

True, however, are you at peace and acceptance with yourself each day?  Do you make mindful choices and decisions about food, beverage, recreation, medicine, work and relationships that support your Whole Being and, thus, your family and community’s wellbeing?  Do you know Who you are at the core of your being?  I truly believe that each person on this planet is here to understand this question and to discover it for him or herself.  According to Ayurveda, to be healthy means to have awareness and make choices that support and nurture your Whole Being—body, mind and spirit.

The concept of being established in one’s self as part of a medical system truly paves a way for a global paradigm shift in what it means to be healthy.  Healthy is not just being pain or disease free.  It’s more than that.  Healthy is swasthavritta, being established in one’s self.  Healthy is recognizing that each decision you make affects the whole, including your family and society’s wellbeing.  This ancient wisdom has many keys that can help unlock our current medical structure and evolve medicine to new horizons where people come first, not their disease.

I invite you to take a deeper look at the visual map of whole being, or well-being, above.  May you find many “aha!” moments, healing moments and inner-smiles as you begin to contemplate swasthavritta and your own life.

Aloha & Namaste.

What is Ayurveda?

Airuuveeda? huh?

Let’s start at the beginning.   Say it with  me. “Eye-ru” “Vay-duh”…”eye-ru-vay-duh.”

Ayurveda is a word from the Sanskrit language of old India.   Ayur = Life   Veda = Science, Wisdom or The Way.  Therefore, Ayurveda is the Science of Life.  Its origins date back to 1000-700 B.C.E. and continues to be a tradition of professional practice, research and education world-wide.  In India, it is an inseparable part of the culture and daily living.

Today, the word and practice of yoga is more well known.  In fact, in Southern California where I currently live, yoga has become one of the hottest commodities and businesses.  Ayurveda on the other hand is still relatively unknown.  Traditionally, the practices of Ayurveda and Yoga were inseparable.  Inseparable because Ayurveda is considered to be Yoga’s sister-science.  They are complementary systems that address the whole person, body, mind and spirit towards wise living or how to live a long and healthy life.  The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda informs us of daily health and wellness practices that, like yoga, also relieves the mind and body from attachments, unhealthy desires, habits, stagnation or poor health.

Ayurveda honors you as a whole, unique person (body, mind and spirit) who is deeply connected to nature.  Nature expresses itself slightly differently in each person, thereby creating diversity and individuality of physique, personality and even how you respond to stress.  By determining your particular “constitution,” or prakriti, a well-trained practitioner of Ayurveda can offer specific lifestyle solutions (exercise, yoga poses, stretches, activities, daily routines), dietary recommendations, herbal remedies, breathing exercises, aromatherapy and mantras (or sacred sounds).  In the past, and in most parts of India that I traveled to in 2007, Ayurveda and Yoga are practiced together.  They are practiced together to help bring the whole-body into health, balance and inner peace by reducing suffering, pain and relieving physical and energetic stagnation.  Traditionally, a person would spend years practicing and living a lifestyle as prescribed by a Doctor of Ayurvedic before he/she would begin their path of yoga.

One of the most fascinating things I learned during my formal studies of Ayurveda through the Kerala Ayurveda Academy was how detailed, developed and in-depth Ayurveda medicine is in its original form.  While most Ayurveda, as practiced primarily  in the United States are day-to-day activities and choices each one of us can do, Ayurveda is a whole and complete medical system developed in what is now India by the most enlightened physicians and surgeons.  In its entirety, Ayurveda has eight departments of medicine including:  Internal Medicine, Surgery, Ear, Nose, Eyes and Throat Diseases, Pediatrics, Toxicology, Psychiatry, Science of Rejuvenation and Science of Aphrodisiacs (fertility).  Did you know the first records of plastic surgery, particularly rhinoplasy, come from ancient Ayurveda medical texts dating back to 600 B.C.E.?  Rhinoplasty was used to reconstruct noses damaged in battle.

Like I mentioned earlier, despite its age, Ayurveda is practiced around the world today.  In the United States, Ayurveda is not a licensed practice (at least not yet), so most trained practitioners use Ayurveda in combination with other licenses such as Physical Therapy, Western Biomedicine, Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Chiropractic Medicine or Massage Therapy.  A few trained in Ayurveda use their certification to start a small business as a health coach or in combination with teaching yoga.  For me, I use Ayurveda with all my clients in-person and long distance via Skype or Google+.

Who is Ayurveda for?  Individuals and families who appreciate being acknowledged as a whole person (not their disease) should consider Ayurveda.  It offers natural ways of treating dis-ease and focuses on promoting health by helping you determine foods, drinks, exercises and other lifestyle solutions that will help you at the root-level of health and well-being.  More importantly for modern times, it is complementary to most western medical treatments.  Herbal remedies should be carefully analyzed for potentially dangerous drug-herb interactions by a qualified licensed healthcare provider.  Because Ayurveda focuses on empowering you to take responsibility for your own well-being, most people find after they integrate individual recommendations they begin to have fewer health issues overall and have more energy for the parts of life they enjoy.

Others who might benefit from Ayurveda include:

  • Parents of children who have chronic health conditions
  • Individuals with chronic health conditions that are not improving under other medical care
  • Individuals who understand the importance of PREVENTION
  • Yoga instructors and other holistic health care practitioners

References:

Textbook of Ayurvedic Medicine. Published by Kerala Ayurveda Academy.  2009.

Frawley, David.  Yoga & Ayurveda, Self-Healing and Self-Realization. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press, 1999. Print.

Svoboda, Robert E. Prakruti, Your Ayurvedic Constitution.  Albuquerque: Geocom Limited, 1989.  Print.

Tiwari, Maya.  Ayurveda, A Life of Balance.  Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 1995.  Print.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This is a reference work.  It is not meant for diagnosis or treatment and it is not substitute for consultation with a licensed health care professional.

What’s your Passion?

Last night I rediscovered “What’s your Passion?” from past blogs on an older website.  On the memorial date that changed the world’s events forever, and thus our lives, I felt it was appropriate to repost it.  Especially now as the spouse of an active duty Marine Corps Infantry Officer, I find this post more meaningful than when I first wrote it.   May you continue to find gratitude in all parts of your life including the stranger or person standing next to you.  Every-body is extraordinary with an extraordinary story.  

February 7, 2010 by Haunani Chong

About two weeks ago I was truly blessed to attend a reception sponsored by the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine with special guest Naomi Judd in San Diego, California.  The reception, titled  “Journey into Healing,” turned out to be spiritually uplifting and confirmed the path I’m walking on now and the path that lies before me.

Starting off as an inspirational speech, inviting doctors to consider the more subtle aspects of whole-being (like emotional and spiritual health), the reception turned into a night of promoting and advocating integrative health and wellness solutions for ALL, including our service men, women and veterans.

Towards the end of an hour-long, interactive, and surprising, funny speech, Miss Judd concluded by reading a letter from her lifelong friend.  Miss Judd’s friend was a mother who watched her son’s life change, transform, and eventually end because he chose to live his life’s purpose (dharma)—serving in our Country’s military.  This letter was brutally honest, heart wrenching and at the same time life-promoting.  What struck my heart-chords the most was the line, “Will my country ever learn to love the way he loved for our country?”  Tears filled my eyes.

For the past two weeks I’ve taken this same question personally.  Will I ever learn to love the way he loved for my country and me?  I am touched by this young gentleman’s selflessness.  He was willing to sacrifice it all for my freedom.  And yours.  My freedom to be here now writing this blog, to attend a post-graduate degree in Asian Medicine, to teach yoga and to have the ability to share my ideas and thoughts in public.  That’s love, unconditional love—to serve in a way that allows others to live their dreams.

So, what’s your love?

My love is humanity.  My love is you.  My love is medicine.  My calling is to serve all of humanity by improving medicine by integrating holistic mind-body solutions into clinics, hospitals and all lives, especially the military system.

Today, I ask you: what do you love so much that you’d be willing to sacrifice it all?

The First of Many

Breathe.  Connect.  Be. came to me a few months ago during a meditation.  So much for really stilling the mind, right?!  Haha.  That’s typically how my “meditations” go.  Nonetheless, here it is Breathe.  Connect.  Be.  A new blog dedicated to uplifting you to your highest potential through education, inspiration, humor, honesty and passion.

What you’ll find are articles, videos, photos, how to’s, and links on the topics of: Yoga, Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, holistic living, holistic health and wellness solutions for all ages, Feng Shui, Meditation, motivation, Integrated Medicine and real life experiences.

Who is Breathe.  Connect.  Be. for?  Primarily YOU!  It’s no coincidence you found this page, or this page found you-a matter of perspective or belief.  However, if you found something helpful, heartful, wise or just plane unbelievable or insane, PLEASE SHARE IT!  Add it to your Facebook, Twitter, blog, next group email or even as a gift to someone.

Specifically, you may have been drawn here for one of the following reasons because:

  • you feel a deep calling to change something in their life.
  • you are sick or have been diagnosed with a disease or illness and is looking for another option.
  • you are looking for a like-minded community or connection to others who also appreciate a holistic way of life.
  • you need a laugh…or a cry.
  • you are a yoga teacher and want to learn more.
  • you are an editor and want to republish something on this blog.
  • you are passionate about humanity.
  • you love life.
  • a friend recommended this blog site to you…you should read more and figure out why.
  • you need inspiration for your own blog, clinic or work.
  • you are searching…again, it’s no coincidence you found this blog.

Regardless of why you are here, my intention is to share my authentic self and experiences with you.

In a very influential time in my life I read a quote from Mohandas Gandhi which read “My life is my message.” My life changed forever.  From that day forward, I dedicated my life to uncovering, discovering, learning and living a life that was in alignment with what I valued in myself, others, the Earth and eventually the presence of something higher than myself.  I decided I wanted to live a life that served others and created positive, mindful and well-intentioned footprints on this World.  From a young 20 year old who thought she had it all as the Restaurant manager of a four-star fine dining restaurant, to the yogi who lived in the jungle, to the weak and out of balance shaved-head girl who preferred to sleep on the ground, to the strong and energetic business professional and now wife of a United States Marine Corps Infantry Officer, I’m living a life that is dedicated to respecting and loving each person as a WHOLE AMAZING BEING (body, mind and spirit) that is an integral, much needed and unique gift to this World. Each one of us is here with unique and varied paths and journeys.  It’s not for me to make everyone choose the path I did or even pretend I know what someone else’s path is.  What I have discovered along my own path are tools and little gems that have turned suffering into freedom, aggression into love and abuse into forgiveness.  To not share these gems and tools would be selfish.  Choosing a life of adventure, Truth, Soul searching, healing and radiance was, and is still, the best path I ever decided to take. Like the famous poem of Robert Frost proclaimed “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

May you always remember to Breathe.  Connect. and Be.

Aloha & Namaste,
Haunani