Tahnee is joined by the wonderful Myra Lewin on the show today. Myra is a yogi and Ayurvedic practitioner who has been studying, practicing, and teaching the Ayurvedic and Yogic arts since the late 1980s. A 'incurable' health condition led Myra onto her journey through Ayurveda and the practice of Yoga and Ayurveda have become the foundation for Myra’s life ever since. In 1999 Myra founded Hale Pule Ayurveda & Yoga; a home-based holistic educational and healing centre where people gather to connect to their true selves and to the power of nature. Over the last 20 years, Myra and the Hale Pule team have guided thousands of people to live a more balanced and bountiful life through the practices of Ayurveda and Yoga. We feel very blessed to have Myra joining us to share her wisdom on the SuperFeast podcast today <3
Tahnee and Myra explore:
- Myra's journey to and relationship with Ayurveda.
- The concept of dis-ease being a result of the disconnection from self.
- Yoga and Ayurveda as healing containers that allow us to return home to our truest expression of self.
- The healing power of nature; living in sync with the innate rhythms of nature.
- The Ayurvedic doshas.
- Living your life from the inside-out.
- The importance of digestion and digestive fire (Agni), "our ability to digest food and life are one" - Myra Lewin
- Emotional disturbance and autoimmune dis-ease.
- The Ayurvedic approach to preconception and procreation.
- Ayurveda's four pillars of health.
- Ayurveda's philosophy on food.
- Self nourishment and connection with mother.
Who is Myra Lewin?
Myra Lewin (loo-in) has been studying, practicing, and teaching Ayurveda and Yoga since the late 1980s. Myra holds a Certificate of Advanced Clinical Study in Ayurveda. She was grandfathered with Yoga Alliance as one of the first ERYT500s in the United States and is a professional member of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA). Myra is the author of two easily understood books on Ayurveda, Freedom in Your Relationship with Food and Simple Ayurvedic Recipes, and is the host of two remarkable podcasts on holistic healing, Everyday Ayurveda and Yoga at Hale Pule and Spark Your Intuition. As the founder and director of Hale Pule Ayurveda & Yoga, originally established in Hawaii and now based in New Zealand, Myra supports people in all phases of life and health with her work.
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Check Out The Transcript Here:
Hi everybody, welcome to the SuperFeast podcast. You're here today with Tahnee and Myra Lewin. Myra is an amazing Ayurveda and yoga teacher and she's been studying, practicing and teaching since she was I think around her 30s. I might be wrong there, but we'll find out soon. I think that was sometime in the late 80s to the 90s and she holds a certificate of advanced clinical study in Ayurveda as well as ... She was one of the first 500 hour yoga teachers in the United States, which means that she was training people long before many people had even heard of yoga in the mainstream really.
And she's also written a couple of books on Ayurveda. So she's got a book on Freedom with Your Relationship to Food, which is a super interesting topic. And also just some Ayurvedic recipes, simple Ayurvedic recipes, which sounds really good as well. And I've been really fortunate to stumble upon her podcasts, which are amazing, Everyday Ayurveda and Yoga at Hale Pule and Spark Your Intuition. So you can go look those up on iTunes after this podcast if you're interested.
She's the founder and director of Hale Pule Ayurveda and Yoga. It was based in Hawaii, but she's moved back to her homeland of New Zealand, so that's one of our favorite countries on the planet. We're excited to hear more about how New Zealand is treating you Myra, and she supports people in all phases of life and health with her work. So we'll get into that a little bit more as we have a chat. What I really found interesting reading about you and listening to your work was that you've got that common but not normal story, that you get burnt out and you have a really high level executive job and you end up with an incurable condition.
But to my understanding, you've healed that, you've worked through these really ancient traditions and come to a place of balance and healing in your own life, so we'll hopefully get into that a little bit. And we're also going to be having workshops happening in Byron Bay and then also in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne when Myra comes here in March this year. So if anyone's interested, by all means check our show notes or jump on Myra's website and we can get you guys the details of that. But yeah, they sound really amazing. I'm looking forward to coming along. So thank you so much for being here, I know that was a long intro...
Thanks for having me here.
Such a pleasure. So I wanted to start, Ayurveda, I feel like so many people have different definitions or different ways of interpreting what it means to them. I was wondering if you could tell us what Ayurveda means to you and how you came to find it.
Okay. Ayurveda, it came to me, and it was as if it was divine because I was at a point in my life where I was pretty frustrated with life. I just didn't feel very satisfied with much of anything and I'd seemed like I'd done all the things I was supposed to do and it didn't work. And so as I look at Ayurveda, it is ... we talk about it, it's the science of life and the science of living. And at that point in my life particularly, I had done all the things I thought I was supposed to do and living didn't seem that interesting. It just didn't seem like something that was working out for me. And so Ayurveda, it really gave me answers. It made so many things make sense.
It is not just a science, it's a very complete science, including surgery and that takes care of ... In its truest sense, it has the capacity to take care of us, to take good care of us. We've lost a lot of that information now, but we have a great deal of the most important information. And that was mostly passed on by an oral tradition between the students and teachers. But it's also an art, it is very much the art of living. And this is the part that we've forgotten or just say we've gotten distracted by things on the outside and so having Ayurveda come into our lives at this point I think is so important because we have so much abundance in life and yet that emptiness is there. And Ayurveda then gives us the answers to that, to help us understand how our body and mind and spirit work together.
And we talk about it a lot, but then we don't practice it in our everyday lives. And so what Ayurveda did for me was it helped me in combination with yoga to be able to pull all of that together and have it just makes sense and to really be able to see the value of life. That there's a richness in the experience and that it really is just about the experience. That there's nowhere to get to, and yes, it's nice to accomplish things or to finish something. It's very nice, but it is not the answer. The answer is just you and I sitting here having a conversation, and every time we're able to connect.
Well as I say, that's so different to how our culture frames life from an early age. So it's easy for people I think to get really caught up in that and to forget how beautiful the simplicity can be and just, it's interesting.
Yeah, it is something. And so I've lived in Hawaii for 20 years and I moved to New Zealand, so I'm actually new to New Zealand, and it's fabulous.
Are you originally from there or you're an American?
I'm sorry, I misunderstood that. Bad research.
It would've been okay with me if I was from New Zealand.
It's a great country.
It was interesting because I looked all over the world for places, what would be a good place for us and the nature was the most important thing, are we going to be able to be in a reasonable amount of nature, without completely isolating from humanity because it's all about our interaction, but to have somewhere that we can appreciate the nature and help to take care of it.
That's so beautiful. And I think ... I mean was Hawaii changing, was that one of the reasons you decided to leave or was it just you were looking for somewhere?
No, yeah, things are changing, as they are everywhere. And there was a few reasons, a lot we have an international clientele and so it was getting a little bit difficult to get in into the US. So that was good.
Yes. I've heard that happening a lot recently with a certain president, but anyway, politics. So I was curious then, so you basically had this high-level career, it's said on your bio that you were one of the first executive female executives in the States, which is crazy. But then you've also abandoned that and moved into the healing arts. So can you tell us a little bit about how you found Ayurveda?
I'd say all Ayurveda found me. I was introduced first to meditation, and then to a full yoga practice. And so I was practicing yoga and my first yoga teacher said, "Oh," started telling me a little about Ayurveda. But I had been a vegetarian for a long time and been attempting to eat as healthy as possible for many, many years, already 20 years. And it seemed complicated to me at first. And then I had some friends that convinced me to try some ghee, because I was complaining about my body being very stiff and creaky. And they're telling me, "Well, why don't you have the ghee?" I was in India studying at the time, and so I did finally. And once I did, I was blown away by how incredible the impact was, because my body needed the lubrication. And then I said, "Oh, okay." And then I went to a practitioner, and she said, "Well, maybe," I had digestive problems. And she said, "Well, maybe you ought to maybe not have tomatoes every single day."
Which had never occurred to me because that was one of the things I grew up with and I loved. So I left out the tomatoes and a lot of my problems went away. So from there, my interest was so piqued, because I had been I had been a pre-med kind of person and was considering going to medical school and went to work in that profession in the medical field and could see what was going on. And I could see that there was something wrong, that there was something that just wasn't happening as it should, but I didn't really understand what it could be. And when I came to Ayurveda, it just all started clicking for me. So it was actually very quickly that I realised, "Oh, this is something that I really should take up," because it has the kind of answers I'm looking for personally, but also that I feel like I can help other people with. So ever since I've been doing that, it's about 30 years now.
Well, for the people that don't really understand the system that come down from the Vedas, when we're talking about yoga and Ayurveda, they're complimentary systems, right? They're not distinct or separate, they have different intentions that they're on the same path. Could you explain that for us?
Yes actually. Ayurveda we say the science of living and one of the things that we recognize that is at the root of dis-ease or disease, is our disconnection from self, our disconnection from our spiritual self. And so the yoga practices are there to help us be able to make that connection. That's their purpose. And so it's all very much integrated as you mentioned. The practices, it's expected that you would do some of those if you were putting together the ideal Ayurveda situation, one could do a different spiritual practice. But something that cultivates that in us, because then we also look at ... Because when we don't have that spiritual connection, then we have a tendency to misuse our five senses and this is what actually then will promote the disease process. The misuse of our senses of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell.
Create the imbalance and then that becomes disease and manifests as symptoms, right?
That's right. It does. It creates the imbalance, and that imbalance will start out as just a little burping after a meal or maybe a little bit of gas and things like that. And then we keep doing the things that are causing the imbalance and then it progresses. And that was the other thing too, that having had an unpleasant disease pretty early in my life, when I came to understand the disease process from the Ayurveda perspective, it's just, "Oh, it makes so much sense how this happened." And the bidding point in all of it is cause and effect. Then we start to understand that for every ... And in yoga text it talks about this too, that for every action there is a result. And that's the thing that we've been programmed away from to not look at that.
And so one of the things I look at as an Ayurveda educator and when we train counselors and that as well as working with individuals, that we help people start to take a look at that because that's the empowering piece. That's when people can really start to be in charge of their own wellbeing, and feel empowered in it. Sometimes some people in the beginning, they just want to blame. It's like, "Oh, okay, well I did this. I ate that stuff and yeah I know I have a stomach ache." But that's not the point. The point is, "Okay, so is eating that stuff important enough to me to want to risk that stomach ache?" And if it is then keep doing it. And if it's not, if you get tired of the symptoms, then there is a solution and the solutions are actually pretty simple. But they might require some change, and then they require change of attitude.
If we think that, "Oh, I have to have this particular food, because it makes me feel good or because somebody told me it's good for me." That may not be the case. You might not be able to digest that food, which case, it doesn't matter what it is. So we also learn to look at ourselves and say, "Okay, how am I feeling?" For example, it's hot weather right now. And when the weather is hot, our ability to digest food and therefore life goes down because that fire is a little lower because it's hot outside and your body is naturally trying to keep itself cool. So then eating maybe a little less and a little bit lighter food and in the hot weather is a great idea. So it's learning those kinds of things that really put us in touch with nature and how our system operates.
So when you're talking about nature, because one of the things that's so potent about the ancient traditions is that it literally came out of this witnessing of the natural rhythms and humans at that point weren't completely disconnected from nature. We weren't living in boxes on concrete in cities, we were having to survive through understanding and being in union with nature. So when you talk about nature, how does a relationship with nature actually bring you into balance? Is that something you've chosen to build your school where it is? Is that something that you're really aware of all the time?
Yes, we're aware of it all time. And we do that in a number of ways, sometimes when I give a client some instructions, "So here's what I'd suggested you do," one of the things that I have them do is, is go out and touch a tree. Just put your hands on the-
Tree Qi, we call that.
Just anything, and especially people who live in the city, to have them be able to have just some sense of the vibration that's happening there. But the other thing that we do that's a really simple practice, something called Agni Hotra, which is a fire ceremony, it's a Vedic fire ceremony that anybody can do and it's at sunrise and sunset. And so keeping yourself in that rhythm is extremely helpful. The other thing of course in Ayurveda that we recommend is that you have regular meal times and that those regular meal times, it's not just to take care of your tummy, it's again to bring us into some rhythm with the day.
Because from an Ayurveda standpoint, we look at doshic times of day. So there's times where each of those doshas, which are the elements in us and their functioning, so it's how things are working, and so the elements are what we have to balance. So for example, if I stand out in the hot sun and wind for a period of time, it's going to increase fire from the sun and the wind, the air, it'll increase that in me, which is to have the doshas basically. And so when that happens, then I start to experience symptoms. I might feel overheated at night when I go to bed, I might feel spacey and my mind might be real scattered from the wind. So those are the kinds of things that happen.
Happens to me all the time. Wind and I don't get along, I'm very Vata.
I understand this. So that what we're known to do then in Ayurveda is to bring in the opposite quality in order to bring the balance. So we talk about the qualities that are present in nature. There's 10 pairs of opposites, and we look at everything that way. So actually, it's just a very different system, but it's very simple because it is based in nature and that like attracts like, and the opposite brings balance. So I can-
Yeah, I think that's a really ... Because something that I hear people say a lot, which makes me laugh, but I try not to be obnoxious. But they'll say, "Oh," so they're naturally a very slim person and they're very busy. And then they're like, "I only feel good if I eat raw on and keep moving. And if I slow down I don't feel well." But that's because you're so used to that and you keep attracting that. So you're creating it and it can feel a bit funny to do the opposite of what we have a tendency toward, right? Like balance doesn't always feel great I suppose as we're sliding into it. Can you talk about that phenomena for me? Because I find that one a really curious.
Well, part of it is because the doshas have not only an effect to the elements that make up the doshas, they have an effect on the mind as well as the body. And so what happens is when the doshas get out of balance, when particularly when there's excess, but even if there was a deficiency, then the mind gets affected. And then our mind, I would say the wires get crossed a little bit. And our thinking isn't correct. The other thing too is that when things start to just start to go out of balance, then you might say, "Oh, you know what? I might have a piece of raw fruit today." So you don't have any charge about it. You're just, "Oh, okay. That might be a preference."
But when things get a little bit more out of balance, then you start to crave and then you start to be really attached to, "I got to have some." Got to have that fruit. And that's when everything you're doing is taking you out of balance. So it's that like attracts like. Now, in order to bring the balance, that's one of the things that Ayurveda practitioners do is they help you to see where your mind is starting to take you in the wrong direction and make things worse. Because for example, if somebody has, let's say somebody has some constipation and they feel, and get a little scattered sometimes and maybe feel a little insecure or anxious. So this is all the Vata Dosha out of balance. And so continuing to have light food and continuing to move constantly is only going to make it worse.
So then what we do is we outline for people specifically. "Okay, you need to sit down and do nothing for 10 minutes a day," and take pause and breathe during the day and things like that. So yes, you're right. It can be quite challenging. And for myself, that process was over a fairly long period of time, because my mind didn't want to believe it, but I thought I knew, and this is where the yoga part comes in, the ahamkara, or the ego that gets pretty attached to feeling right. I'm right, I'm doing the right thing. I'm doing it. It's good for me. But the more I studied Ayurveda and the more I kept practicing Ayurveda and yoga, then I started to see the error of my thinking, so then I would get open enough to try to do something new. Right. Because of the cause and effect again, we have to look at the results we're getting. It's like, "Well, the results were not quite where I wanted them to be." Okay, that means I need to change something I'm doing. And so I kept doing that. Thank goodness.
Well it's that I, “do have clear vision or clear perception?” which takes time to develop. And I think we all come with such conditioning. That I find the philosophical side of yoga so helpful for understanding the human mind. I think their writings on psychology were just way ahead of their time. And I think we've really, sadly maybe through colonialism or whatever the reasons we've lost a lot of that wisdom, but it's still available. It's still out there. But if people are thinking about, "All right, well maybe I'm not seeing things really." What would a sign of balance actually be? How would I know if I'm in balance, if I'm so used to being out of balance?
There would be an absence of symptoms. And that's an interesting thing though, because today, so many people have accepted symptoms of imbalance as being, "Oh, I've always been that way. It's just going to be that way." And no, it doesn't have to be like that. So it would be without symptoms. So for example, a woman's menstruation would come and go and you would feel a little more inward, and maybe your activity level would come down a little bit, but that you don't have any of those other things that people describe, and cramps, and difficulties or that you wouldn't have a constipation and that you wouldn't have burping after you eat, or heartburn or anything like that. That you would wake up in the morning feeling fresh and really looking forward to the day. And that you can eat a meal and feel well afterward. And that you can go to sleep at night easily.
Yeah. So what about this ... This is something that I really I'm curious about because we're on Instagram and we have this culture of wellness, which is so extreme. It's so far away from any of the traditional stuff that I've ever studied, and people are so sucked into this realm of fasting and juices, which are all practices that are useful in some ways, but as a lifestyle or as a thing you do over a decade, it can be really deleterious on the body. Are you working with people a lot who are coming out of the wellness industry or ...
I've actually worked with, I've been through quite a few fads.
I can imagine, yeah.
When the raw foods started coming around, woo boy! My business went up tremendously because people who didn't have a real strong Agni they got sick really fast. So those kinds of things ... Well, I think the big thing is that people say, "Oh, I just can't take on something else that has a bunch of rules." And Ayurveda has no rules, it's only choices. So I always encourage people to take it from ... understand what nature is telling us. Take those principles and work with it, and then you see, you go as far as you like, and feel good about your choices. That's the thing, is that people make choices a lot today and then they beat themselves up. And in the Ayurveda text it talks about that one of the most harmful things that we can do to ourselves is self judgment. Not the end of the day where I look at my day and say, "What can I do better?" But more of that punishment and blame and anything that says I'm a bad person. None of the [crosstalk 00:26:07].
Yeah, self flagellation, none of that. So our ability to really become more of ourselves is directly connected to our ability to clear the things, let's say, the misunderstandings that we have about who we are. We often think, we're worried about being less than, or that we might not be enough for a certain situation. And in fact, that's all going on in your head. And so with Ayurveda and yoga then we start to be able to see ourselves doing that, and then to see beyond it, and to be able to take the steps we want to take anyway. And that's what happens when doshas are balanced. Is that we're able to start to see who we are as the eternal spirit, who I am, and the things that I have to work out in life. Meaning the impressions that I may have from my early life that affect my behavior.
Like samskaras and... That kind of thing.
Samskaras. Yes. Exactly.
... I heard you say something about living from the inside out, which I think is such a powerful way of helping people to understand that it's useful to take in information and ideas and all of these things. But like you say, we talk a lot about sovereignty at SuperFeast, it's this idea of becoming sovereign of your own self on multiple levels. And obviously, we exist in a culture and a time and a political and geographic space, all of these things and you can talk about karma and all of these various almost esoteric topics. But in reality, if we start to make these small daily choices that arise from what we see as being most beneficial to us, then and.. Through, I think sometimes having help from the outside is useful. Working with a good practitioner or counselor or something.
But then we create this culture for ourselves, this daily rhythm for ourselves that we can observe and that we can adapt through the changes in phases of life. And that's basically the essence of Ayurveda and Dinacharya, this idea of having a daily routine or a daily practice. Is that on mark with that?
Yes. And the Dinacharya though, and what we also can say about it is that it is literally the foundation of life. And Ayurveda and yoga, most people take it up, and in the beginning, I did, I took it up, is this other thing that I did in my life. And then I started to see that what it really was offering me, was a foundation for living. It's not about, for example, the practices. But it's so much as it is what the practices can do for us, and our ability to be in life or ability to interact with our family and friends, to be productive in life in the way we want to be.
So that foundation then comes with things that connect us to our higher self, that connect us inside. And that then we learn to live from the inside out. And I think that's one of the greatest things. It's such a great feeling. And it's another thing that I would say would be an indicator of having a fairly good sense of balance. But it's back to the sense of balance, it's a dynamic thing. All through the day it's changing, and what happens though is that it's, I like to think of it like when you get into the ballpark, when you're in that vicinity, then you start to have your choices be on a more subtle level and you start to experience the subtlety, and then when anything that's disruptive comes along, you handle it much more easily, and then it comes and goes quickly.
We talk about the pendulum swing becoming less extreme. So let's start where I have huge swings but in the end it's small adjustments as opposed to...
Yes, and so there's nothing rigid in it, and there's no rules in it. Everybody gets to do it the way that's best for them. And that's one of the beauties of Ayurveda is that it's the principles that are applied to the person at that point.
Individualised. Because it's that idea of prakriti which is the essence of who we are when we come in but vikriti being that response to the environment and how that manifests in our current state. Is that an...
Yeah, vikriti is your state of imbalance, so it could be ... It's internal that causes the imbalance, but external can be a contributor.
And so in terms of things like ... Because we actually in our household and a lot of the team use a lot of the cleansing practices like neti and tongue scraping. I usually have a funny story, when I first started seeing my partner, I wouldn't let him kiss me in the morning until he'd scraped his tongue. He had to take up that technique. But yeah, abhyanga for me, I'm again, a creepy person, like yourself that's a really powerful practice for me, which is like a warm oil massage if people don't know. But yeah, are other things that are really simple that people can bring in as part of the daily routines or anything that you love that you do daily?
Yeah. One of the simplest things is when you wake up in the morning, maybe even before you open your eyes, that you have, either a prayer, a mantra or a statement of appreciation and that you have yourself do that every morning and it helps you to set the energy for the day. And then the next thing that I do is that I get some warm water and rinse my mouth before I even swallow. And then I have some more water to drink. In that way, if anything has collected in the mouth overnight, you can expel that, and then I gargle. And that little gargling, it just helps to clear any excess Kapha that might accumulate overnight. And that's a really simple thing that helps people to keep their voice clear and to have a sense of what's happening with you.
Do you use oil to gargle or just water?
Just warm water. And then if somebody has some particular problems in that, then you might use other things.
Salt or things like that.
And what about at the end of the day, because we speak to so many people that have trouble sleeping and like I personally really had to work on that, like having a wind down routine. But I wonder, is there something from Ayurveda that you've seen really that works in your coaching?
Oh yes. Well, always anything that you can do to improve your digestion is going to help. But the first thing is to stay away from the electronics for an hour before bed. And then the next thing though is that there's a little, and it's a marma type sequence for vibrational cleansing. And actually this is something that's very helpful. It takes about three minutes to do right before you go to bed. But there are a number of other things too, putting a little bit of oil, sesame oil on the bottoms of the feet, very helpful. A little bit, and there's various herbal oils that work well. You put them on the fontanelle on the top of the head, and sometimes even just on the forehead would be enough. But covering the top of the head and the ears, maybe a little shawl or something, and tucking it in. I know it seems like it might not look so great like that, but-
Like a little baby.
Yeah, like a baby. And then the other thing is to take a little bit of cotton and put a little bit of warm oil, sesame oil on it, and put that in the ears. And that's also very helpful. But we have a number of other practices too. But those are some simple things that I've used myself and find very helpful.
Well it was something that ... Because I have a three year old and as a young mum realising how important routine was to babies. And I was thinking, "Why do we lose this as we get older?" Really it changed my relationship with myself. I've always as a yoga teacher said, "Approach yourself like you would a small child and be very gentle and very kind and patient," but then I probably wasn't doing that with myself, giving the advice I needed to hear. But yeah, I started to shift my routines around a little bit and I really noticed that if I'm diligent with it, it makes such a big difference. Like eating at the same time every day. Because my daughter's like, 7:30 breakfast, 8:30 snack, 9:30 second snack, 11 o'clock next snack. She's like a little clock. She knows exactly what time it is. And yeah, I think that's, humans have that innate circadian rhythm. We forget and we lose it in the madness of..
Very good point. It's right, we're either in the rhythm of it or we're out of the rhythm.
Yeah. Because we've never had sleeping issues with our daughter, but because I think we were super aware of that's a bit dark, we don't put lights on the ... We try and keep it really ... and it's made us more aware because we were guilty of late night laptop sessions. But so I'm curious because you've talked about digestion a couple of times and my experience with Ayurveda is that it's huge on strengthening the digestion, to the point where that's all some practitioners focus on. But that's not just digesting food. I always think about this on a multidimensional level because what's going on for us emotionally will affect our digestion, how we think and that kind of thing. Is there something you can speak to about how Ayurveda works with digestion and then also on a cellular level, how our emotional and mental states will affect what's going on with our digestion as well.
It is that our ability to digest food and life are one. There's only one word for our digestive fire, it's agni. And sometimes there are other words that are used, but from the original Ayurveda there was no distinction between, "Oh, am I digesting life or am I digesting food?" So it's our thinking that is compartmentalised. And so bringing that back together is something that makes an enormous difference. If someone says, "Oh, I'm having all these digestive problems." First thing I want to know is not just what and how you're eating, but I want to know what's going on in your life. "Well, my father just passed and I moved last week." And we look at those things like, "Oh, well, I accomplished it. No big deal."
But those are huge deals. And especially moving and death of someone close to us. Those are things that even though we might intellectually feel like we're handling it on many other levels, there's a lot going on. And one of the things that's interesting is, I think it's very telling, is when you eat food and it goes through the digestive process, there's a point where we look at it as going into the tissues of the body. So the nourishment from the food is going to go into the tissues of the body. And there's a step that takes place there and takes it into the blood bloodstream, into the blood plasma. And it's called rasa. And rasa is also the word for emotions. So there's this place in, there's a physical location. But there's this step that takes place when we take nourishment.
Now think about that on an emotional level. That it's not just what I put in my mouth, but it's anything I put in my five senses is having an impact. And that's why we talk about children. And especially toddlers and infants that oh everything so sensitive and highly tuned. It's so important what we expose them to, because that's all going in and their ability to digest that is not that high yet. Because when they're born, they've been relying on mum's digestive fire, or agni, and now we have to let them develop their own. So those are just things to think about, to help us think about, "I have to be able to digest life." So let's say that I get angry at someone and I don't forgive them. Or I get angry at myself and I don't forgive myself. These are things that will make us very sick. They make us sick on the physical level as well as on that emotional level. So there's the notion of acceptance and forgiveness that is a really big factor in our health and wellbeing.
And one of the things we haven't talked about is that a way to think about, a simple way to think about Ayurveda and us, and yoga is, it's the flow of prana. We're alive based on the flow of our life force or energy. And that energy flowing, we feel good. And when it gets blocked, then we don't feel so good. As simple like that. It's like, "Oh, if I have pain, there's something happening there that it's blocking." So often our digestion is really disturbed because I'm upset at somebody and it might be something that happened three weeks ago. But if I'm still upset about that, it's still going to affect me.
That's why I think yoga aligns so beautifully with Ayurveda because so many of those physical practices and even the breathing practices and further down the track, the [inaudible 00:41:29] practices help us to develop a sensitivity to either flow of prana but also to where we habitually block ourselves, and those patterns of reaction that we have toward, triggers is a really common word at the moment. But you see that a lot with people that they'll respond to maybe different situations but in a similar way. And that will create blockages that repeat and they can manifest as chronic illness and stuff and people often would treat that but it's not really getting to the root of what's going on. That's why these Ayurvedic systems and other the ancient systems I think are so powerful because they address the whole system from the inner relationship with the world to the external body.
That's why we have such a huge increase in autoimmune diseases now, because of not addressing that emotional level and the connection between that, because the auto immune diseases are all rooted in the emotional disturbance.
I'm curious if you have any thoughts on the genetic... Because often I've been thinking about a lot lately with autoimmune and how it's becoming more common and I'm thinking about how as a culture there's been so much shift, it's been a really fast couple of decades for humans. We put so much change from the 40s and 50s to now, and I'm thinking, just about that genetic inheritance of that suppressed emotional stuff and how, because so many kids these days are born unwell. This is totally just a thought that I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on that or ...
Well, I do.
I'm really curious because I think it's part of something, my partner and I talk about a lot is, one of the things we were trying to do before we had our daughter really do a lot of work on releasing ourselves from the patterns that we felt we had inherited from our family lines. And forgiving that and just working through that, we just both felt that that was something we both really, we'd both come with a lot of family baggage. And I feel really proud that that was something we ... Obviously we are still doing it, don't get me wrong. But I felt like we really moved through a lot of stuff, and our daughter's, she's a really cool little human and I think, how I wonder if that was part of it.
Oh sure. Absolutely. And that's one of the things from traditional Ayurveda, is that when two people come together and they want to have a child, is that there's a whole preparation phase that goes on. And ideally it would be at least a year. And so that year is spent clearing toxins both physically and mentally and emotionally, and building that spiritual connection in mum and dad. So that what you give to that being that comes is ideal. Now there's still karma, there's still the karma of the being and yours and-
Of course... And ours.
But that step ... And so as a result of that, one of the things that's also said, I think in the yoga text too, is that to be born into a family that meditates is so auspicious, it's wonderful. But what we have now is that we have a lot of people with imbalance, particularly Vata imbalance. We have a lot of mums with Vata imbalance. Baby is going to be Vata imbalanced. So that's number one. And if dad is also imbalanced, then we've got that opportunity going in there too. And then the third thing is the birth process.
So the birth process, depending on what it is, it makes an enormous difference. So if you've got a traumatic birth process that goes on, then Vata is going to be aggravated and then you're going to get a lot of the things that we have these days, the ADD, ADHD, that all is a manifestation of the last hundred years. Or really less than that, in the last 60 years. So those are some of the main factors. So your point about what you all did is fabulous. It's the very best thing that you can do for a child.
And then the other thing is don't move right before you deliver. People do that. So in Ayurveda we say that during pregnancy, that mums should be treated like a jewel. Almost like you would put it on a little cushion, in a velvet cushion and say, "Okay, we're going to keep you all shined up here." Because you're doing a fabulous thing. I mean it's so incredible.
I'm curious what you say to feminists who want to go get it all. Because I had a really interesting pregnancy because for about half of it, let's say like a third of it, I was living alone ... I'm not alone, I live with my partner but I was in this cabin on my own a lot of the time, meditating, hiking, no TV, no wifi, no reception on my phone, like amazing. And my daughter was coming through every day and this was a really beautiful time for me. Really beautiful. And then we had to move because we had to move to have a home birth because we were too far away from the home birth place. Long story.
But anyway, we had to move down to the beach and I started working with my partner at that time. And I just noticed such a huge shift in my connection to my daughter. It basically disappeared, like once we moved. And I still was very slow and I tried to have lots of time alone at the beach and just tried to really spend as much downtime as I could, but I really just observed a huge shift. I'm curious if there's anything Ayurveda says to that stuff or ... Is it about women letting go of things sooner or is it women that just want to do everything until the day they give birth.
One of the things that I always like to remind pregnant women about is that it's only nine months out of your life. It's a very short time. I think the big thing is to really take a look at our attitude about pregnancy and childbirth and having a child. Those three things all go together, and raising a child. And sometimes some people haven't thought about the other next steps that are coming. So we just have to realise that it's like anything, what I put into it is what I get out of it. And the other thing though is that we've been programmed to think of our body as just this mechanical thing and we have forgotten that sensitivity. What you're talking about there too is that you had that inward nature.
So the feminine energies, and the feminine being more inward, then masculine being more outward. And that you were very tuned into that. And when you increase that masculine energy, being more outward, you noticed the difference, which is great. And the thing is that we all have both, girls and boys. But that were meant to be able to shift it as we need to. And so our ability to do that easily is I think one of the things that makes it really helpful for modern day mums, to understand that and tend to see that, "Oh yes, I can keep that inward quality and take care of things on the outside, but I don't have to lose myself in order to do that." And it's something that we have to learn because we learned..
Oooh yeah! I Think it's a really beautiful distinction there, and I think something that probably women are so used to almost being in their masculine energy at the moment because of this culture of achievement and doing ... Because you're a business woman, how do you balance Ayurveda and the things that you teach with the reality of running a business. Have you had to struggle with that yourself or ... I hope the answer is yes.
In parts of it I could say yeah. But it takes us back to the Dinacharya, part of my Dinacharya is that pretty much no matter what, I'm going to sit down and do pranayama and meditation. And in most days I'm going to do asana as well. And it doesn't necessarily have to be a really long time, but that foundation is always there for me. And that's what brings me in touch with my inner world. So that I can make sure that what I'm putting out into the world is actually what I want. And that those parts of me work together.
That's something that comes as a result of the practices, and it also is affected highly by what and how we eat. And how we conduct our lives. So what we call ahar, the diet and bihar, the lifestyle. Those are two of the four pillars of health in Ayurveda. And the third one being sleep in the fourth one being brahmacharya, how we manage our energy. In particular, our sexual energy. But how we manage our energy is so important. And that's what we've been talking about. These practices in that, that's all about what we're doing with our energy. So the more we understand that, the more we can make good choices.
I think for me my so far experiences is if I'm more aware and attuned to my energy, then I make better decisions around how much to extend myself instead of just piling it on and.. Crossing my fingers that it works out in a unconscious decision.
And one of the signs of imbalances when we push, push, push, push, push until we crash, and have to get up and go again. And that's a sign of imbalance of one of the doshas.
So we've spoken quite a bit about food and I certainly have taken a lot from Ayurveda in terms of how to eat, especially just in terms of eating a lot more warming and cooked foods just because of my personal constitution. But you work a lot with people around different types of issues with food as well as just teaching people how to cook the Ayurvedic way and all those kinds of things. But we touched on this idea of craving and almost addiction. I had an eating disorder as a young woman and it's such a common thing when you start to talk about it, I can speak of hundreds or thousands of women who've had the similar experience. So when people are first learning to just heal their relationship with food, are there any steps that you can recommend or any perspectives that might help people understand how to shift issues that they're having?
Yeah, well there's a few things, the relationship with food is very much about our relationship with self and rooted in our relationship with mother. So those are things that we would take a look at. But actually that assignment to go and touch a tree is one of the things that I give to people. Because to go and be with the trees or put your feet in the grass or the sand and those kinds of things, just to take a look at, "Am I willing to have the human experience?" Because sometimes there's something sitting in the way of that. There's all kinds of different issues for people. But it is about that... And I mentioned to myself in the beginning, my relationship with myself was almost nonexistent in the sense that of my awareness of it. So when we start to look at it as, "Oh, it's not just I have a problem with eating, it's that I have a problem with relating to myself."
And so eating is one of the ways that I relate to myself every day. It's something that's very much about nourishment. And if I'm not feeling quite right about myself, then nourishing myself doesn't seem like it makes a lot of sense. As I mentioned too earlier, is that one of the beauties of Ayurveda is that we start to learn to be empowered by the control that we can have. Not being rigid about what I eat or don't eat. But, "Oh! What I eat has an effect on how I feel." And I know a lot of people get involved in some negative patterns with food because they feel like they don't have any control in their lives. And so, taking it a step further and starting with what is my relationship with myself? Am I willing to have a human experience? And then we start to build it from there.
... Everything you just said basically it was what I talked about in therapy so ... But it's funny because I was doing the therapy but I was also doing yoga and meditation at the same time. And I noticed that one day the desire just dissolved. It was literally like ... I imagined it in my head as this magical poof! Moment, but I'm sure it was a progression of me shifting, shifting, shifting, shifting. But I've spoken to a couple of other friends who had similar experiences as they created or strengthened that relationship with their selves, and healed the relationship with their mothers. I think that's a really important one to kind of talk about more. And kind of their own worth of receiving nourishment I think is a really big thing. Like so many, for whatever reason. But those were the really big themes. I saw you have a course on this on your website, is that right? Like a six week course on-
Yeah, it's coming out later this year, and healing your relationship with food.
So you've got so many resources ... I'm actually very impressed you've been busy. But so your people can get podcasts and stuff, but do you have other courses or other offerings online for people that want to work with you?
Yeah we do online. We have getting started, a state of health, it's called getting started with Ayurveda. Those are really nice, straightforward, and practical ways to get started with Ayurveda and some foundations in yoga. Just being able to look at yoga, asana practice as well as pranayama meditation from the standpoint of working from the inside out. Let's see what else do we have.
Well, you've got the workshops coming up. So are you going to be doing those around the world or is that more just locally or ...
In March I'll be in Australia, in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Byron Bay. And we'll be talking about about pregnancy and fertility and that kind of thing, we'll be talking about agni and the Dinacharya the daily routine and how to bring healing to that. And then we're going to do... There's one on addictions and understanding that and how to get the recovery from those kinds of things going.
Yeah, and I saw Ayurveda for yoga teachers as well. Is that one of the workshops?
Yeah, it is one of the workshops. That's right. So we'll be talking about how you can take the principles of Ayurveda and blend that with whatever you're teaching in yoga, and how that enhances it.
That's great. I feel like the superficial Ayurveda trainings in a lot of trainings. It's not so great. So yeah, it's nice to have that offering of continuing education for teachers.
For sure. Yeah.
In terms of your space in New Zealand, can people come and visit you there if they were interested?
Oh, yes. Later this year we will have our new place. We had to wait a little bit just to become resident. Yes, so we'll be doing panchakarma on site, and we allow-
So that's the cleansing practices of Ayurveda if people ...
Yes. And we do private immersions, where people want to come and be in silence for a period of time and that kind of thing. And then we do trainings, and we do Ayurvedic chef training, we do treatment trainings where you can learn how to do the various oil treatments. We do a marma bodywork training, and we do-
And marma, I didn't say it before, but that's like the acupressure I guess. So the acupoints of Ayurveda, is that an accurate analogy?
Yeah. It's very similar and based on the same principles. But it works on a subtle level, but also then with great physical manifestation from it.
Amazing. So people would can just jump on your website or your social media. You have, I saw Facebook, Instagram, all the big ones.
At the website. You got to be everywhere these days. It's wild. And you have a great YouTube as well actually. Like I said I was like, "Oh, she's everywhere." So we'll pop the links to all of that stuff, show notes. I just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing so much of your wisdom with us.
That was a really beautiful conversation. I think really valuable for people. So thank you for taking the time.
For sure. Absolutely.
Right. Well, much gratitude. And I'll see you when you're in Byron and hopefully some of our listeners will be with you around Australia or in New Zealand soon.
Okay. Very good. Bye now.