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Ayurveda Classes This Fall

Turn Around

Western medicine dissects, differentiates, and separates illness into more and more finite detail. While there is amazing good that comes from this, it forces us to specialize and master all those details in order to be helpful. Ayurveda seeks to find the same answers to health via the core vibrational essences. This perspective is completely opposite in that it looks for primary or foundational unbalances that are the root causes instead of focusing on all the branching details at the leaf. This opposing perspective does many good things, but for our purposes the most important is that it makes health accessible to our understanding. By understanding primary root energies and focusing on ways to keep those few things in balance we can take back control of our health.

Join Us

We are offering day long immersion classes in ayurveda as well as an Advanced Topics single night class this fall at both the CBY (Colby) and WAU (Wausau) locations. If the idea of learning a completely different health philosophy or more about the mind/body/spirit connection then make some time to join us. This class is very informative and packed full with ideas that will change the way you think and live.

You can call our reception desk to schedule at 715.316.0040

Day Long Immersion

 

 

Ayurveda & The Gut

 

 

This Ayurvedic Life: Fear – Where it resides and how to manage it.

This Ayurvedic Life: Fear

Fear is associated with constricting energy and also with the primal vibrational essence that is called Vata. Read along or watch the video for more insight into what this means as well as for some tips on how to cope and mitigate these emotions that close us off and cause so much suffering for us.

In Ayurveda there are three primary body type’s: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We will discuss what these are and go into more detail in future blog posts. However I will give you a crash course of what Vata is: AIR (Wind) + ETHER (Space), Qualities that reflect Wind and Space. They are generally very creative, imagination runs wild, very energetic, and have many projects going on at once.

Transcription With Details

If we use what we know about Vata, where the energies of Vata are associated with the body (every bodily movement), and where the physical manifestation of fear is at the given time, then we can follow the trail backwards to find the root cause. Using manipulations, i.e. Massage Therapy, Yoga, Stretching, Meditation, and other opposing fear activities, we can open up body parts that are constricted physically and emotionally. This will help minimize our body’s susceptibility to fear and our body’s concentration of primal fear energy association. So, with all of that said we can now discuss the three things that one can work on specifically to help with fear.

Three Specific Actions that Calm Fear

The first one, the easiest one, is the Hamstrings. Who knew right?! The hamstrings are associated with energy and fear. Very often we are told that tension is everywhere in our body. When we get afraid we curl up, we turtle up, but we don’t think about our leg muscles. So, how would we help the hamstrings? Stretching, forward bending would be a go to; it will cool any aggravated energy but will also open up the hamstrings, which is a concentrated area for fear energy. If you can get rid of the fear energy by stretching you can reduce your impulse to be afraid.

Next, is the idea of ‘turtling up.’ If someone shouted out, “There’s a ball coming, duck!” What would you do? Most would recede their head downwards and hunch their shoulders up, while covering their head. That causes a restriction and a constriction through the pectorals, multiple neck muscles, and holding of the breath. These constrictions that are taking place are associated with fear. The way to break that after the ball fell safely, not hitting anyone, is to sit like a Captain in a Captain’s chair, if you will; or when standing, your shoulders are back and not up by your ears, chest out, head up, not slouching, be confident. All of these things are associated with the opposite of a fearful personality, a fearful posture. While sitting, use the Captain analogy with your arms extended outwards from your body for five minutes and that will help reduce the fear. Doing this expands opens the chest, the heart, and the lungs.

The third area of constriction and of fear is a little more esoteric and may not be for everybody. The area of the body that holds Vata energy strongly, maybe the most strongly of all, is the colon. Our colon does many jobs for our body, one of which is drying out stools. Dryness is one of the primary qualities of Vata, and an area that focuses on creating dryness in our body is an area that is always susceptible to having too much Vata energy. Too much dryness magnifies Vata, and with that comes too much energy that correlates with fear.  We can remove the emotion of fear by removing the associated energetic principles in the colon that are excessive and unnecessary. By countering too much dryness with proper lubrication we can remove our susceptibility to fear. Anything that we end up doing to allow the colon to be more effective in its healthy function will probably help with fear as well.

You are probably wondering how to do this. Well, in Ayurveda they do a small oil retention enema called a basti. Its a simple 2 oz enema held for 20 minutes, so its not too intense, and it powerfully lubricates and promotes healthy colon function. For the less adventurous, they also recommend certain herbs to lubricate the colon, such as licorice root. Licorice tea is made from licorice root that would be a helpful thing to have in your cabinet if you find yourself fearful a lot and having issues with dryness in your GI tract and colon.

There are always so much more that we can discuss and can always go into more detail about our topics but it is nice that you know have some understanding, if you didn’t before, on the three parts of the body that are more subjected to fear energy and where it resides. Also, you now have some tips on how you can take specific action to open those places up and create a lack, or removal of the vibration that causes fear energy. If you are interested more in learning about different techniques of the Ayurvedic Life check out our Ayurvedic classes at Back To Bliss.

Gems Of Ayurveda: Everyone Isn’t The Same

Everyone Isn’t The Same

Ever get sick of ‘blanket advice?’ Sick of that commercial which is certain that the one point they are making is THE ANSWER to your health problems? One of the fundamental tenants of Ayurveda is a concept that allows for an individual body type. All of us have had the experience where we find sage advice to be horrible for us. Maybe that sage advice is good advice, just not for your body type.

The idea that you are not the same as everyone else makes finding healthy options a bit more complex. But the results, once you learn some basics about what your body type is, are much more reliable. The pearl of wisdom we are looking at today says, “Hey, I am unique. I respond to the world in my own way. I need unique advice about my health.” Pretty decent idea, wouldn’t you say?

What Are Body Types

Understanding body types isn’t all that hard. Basically, there are three primary types. There is a windy type, a fiery type, and a muddy type. These elemental types are metaphors that describe how we react in fundamental ways at all three levels of our being; body, emotion, and mind. The key is to understand that each of us is some combination of these three body types. Each body type has its own set of balancing and healing therapies. For instance, we have all heard advice about putting ice or heat on sore muscles. What’s up with that? They are complete opposites. Why would both completely opposite therapies be good? The concept of body types gives us some insight as to why the advice of both hot and cold packs can be the right advice. Both windy and muddy body types are more often cold and would like heat for balancing while fiery types are already inflamed and cold packs are more balancing to them in general. We just need to find out what your body type is to see how your unique nature needs to be balanced.

 

An Example of How It Works

We will use the example of music, which is not commonly thought of as medicine. Because, once you understand how the types work, you can turn everything in your life into something that balances you or unbalances you.

EXAMPLE:

You are tired and out of sorts from a long week of work. As you sit in your car to head home you go to turn on the radio:

Windy people love motion. They crave and live on the stimulation of new things and bouncy active events. However, that Pop 40 Station, filled with excitement, fast tones and your favorite jams that make you want to sing along and dance is depleting to you. Windy people often are imbalanced because they have spent all their energy. Now is not the time to get your groove on and burn the remainder of your vitality away. Silence would be the best answer, but maybe a channel without so much excitement would be best at the moment. Try some classical or something smooth and slow to help you wind down.

Fiery people are intense. They love lists, order, and can see what needs to be done. This ‘burning through’ decisiveness leads to a Friday drive home that probably has you tense and focused. Very often anger and control emotions are popping up because of all the obstacles keeping you from getting your list finished. The goal of balancing you now is to cool your fire from a raging inferno to a warming glow. Silence is too much of a change for you, so music that isn’t angry or intense is best. No feisty and rough lyrics for you today. How about turning off the rap and adding some country? Maybe some classics from the 50’s and 60’s instead of that 80’s rock. Even your Christian station may not be best today. It is filled with themes that inspire intense feelings within you. Now is not the time to light your fires, but to cool them.

Muddy people are steady. They endure and have consistency. Very likely they are not overburdened by the work week and are ready to roll. These people are typically in a rut and when unbalanced. That rut tends to lead them to complacency and sluggishness. So crank up the tunes. It’s time for the weekend! Muddy personalities can use a good shake up and shake down to get them moving and throw off their sluggishness. Activity and exuberance are what they need. So find your favorite jam and be that crazy person singing out loud and grooving to the beat. If your car isn’t bouncing at the stop lights, then you aren’t dancing hard enough!

To Learn More

Ayurveda takes a little bit of effort to learn. Mostly because our minds are not used to thinking in metaphors, but also because we need to learn how activities can be adjusted to make them less wind, fire, or mud unbalancing. That’s a good deal of detail. Basically, it’s a new way of thinking about our lives and how we do things. We can get very serious about it, and change a lot of things in our lifestyle, or we can take our time and focus on adjusting one activity at a time. As we grow in our knowledge, we make more and more small adjustments to our lifestyle that add up to keep us on track and balanced in a big way.

Back To Bliss offers an introductory Ayurveda class to get you started and often teaches classes on holistic health that utilize Ayurvedic wisdom.  Check our class schedule to see what’s coming up soon!

Tips For Better Sleep

For many people, sleep is a problem. Getting to sleep, staying asleep, and feeling rested when you are done can be elusive goals. Here are a few tips, tricks and insights that may help you get your the rest you crave.

Getting to sleep:

Few people understand that it actually takes energy to shift your consciousness into sleep. Many people that suffer from insomnia are so depleted that they fail to muster enough energy to jump into slumper. If you are one of these people, try taking some rejuvenative herbs or get a weekly massage for a month. Practicing yoga or meditation for 20 minutes before sleep will allow you to conserve and build energy, too.

Most of us have had the experience where we are very tired but then around 10-11pm we get a surge of energy and alertness that carries us into the wee hours of the morning. This second wind is caused by a rise in the fiery and stimulating force called pitta energy. Every night from 10pm-2am this subtle force rises up and affects us all. If you want to get to sleep on time, make a point of getting to bed at 9:30pm, before the stimulating energies of pitta give you a second wind and you lose three hours of sleep.

Staying asleep:

Have you ever heard that spicy foods give nightmares? They may indeed, but more importantly, spicy foods have a deep stimulating effect on our nervous system and consciousness. This agitation can affect our dreams, give us indigestion, and interrupt our sleep cycles. Try to keep the spicy foods out of your diet from 6pm onwards. Some people are very agitated by spice and may need to cut it out earlier than others.

Resting well:

They call the time between 12-2pm ‘liver time.’ What that means is that our liver and detoxification organs activate during the night to digest toxins and perform house keeping duties. Many of us fail to realize that eating food late forces our liver to digest that food instead of detoxifying us. It takes about four hours for our stomach to empty completely after a meal, which is why the rule says no food after 8pm. Adopting this strategy will go a long way to giving our bodies the undisturbed rejuvenation of nightly liver time.

Waking alertly:

Creating regularity in your wake up time is a powerful way to sync all of your biological systems. Have you every tried to plan a party and not give exact times for your attendees? By waking up at different times of the day and by not setting a consistent alarm every morning, we end up with chaos, just like if we forgot to set a time for our party. The best advice for getting your hormone levels and other wake up systems all together at the same time and place is to wake up at the same time every single day: weekends, weekdays, and holidays, too. Trust me, its worth it to pop up out of bed alert, refreshed, and with all hands on deck ready to take on your day.

Triphala: a traditional herbal formula Pt. 1

Triphala means three fruits.  It is an herbal compound made from three different herbs.  The herbs are from the subcontinent of India where Triphala has been a staple herbal medicine for thousands of years.  As a combination remedy, it has properties that act strongly on our entire digestive system and it is gentle enough to be good for all body types.  Its properties make it broadly applicable and easily usable by a large percentage of the population.

So what does Triphala do?  It stimulates bile, cleanses the blood, gently lubricates the colon and it enhances peristalsis or the movement of material through the intestines.  These factors have the combined effect of enhancing our digestive and eliminatory capacities.  Triphala is often recommended as a part of weight loss programs.  By enhancing several detoxification functions throughout our body, it paves the way for the release of unnecessary weight.

Putting it into Eastern language, it balances all three of the governing tissues: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.  These subtle tissues, when out of balance, overflow from their homes in the digestive system.  This ‘spilling out’ process pulls toxins out of the GI tract as well.  Once toxins are in the body, they build up and create health issues anywhere that they lodge.  Triphala is so highly recommended because it keeps our digestive system healthy; helping keep Vata, Pitta, and Kapha in their homes instead of spilling out into the body.  While the language is different between medical systems, the ideas are essentially the same.  Both systems say quite clearly that unhealthy guts are a significant way for bigger and nastier diseases to develop down the road.

Triphala commonly comes in two forms: tablets and powders.  We like the tablets in America much more than the powder because of Triphala’s taste.  However, it is traditionally served as a tea, where part of its medicinal power comes from tasting it.

CAUTION: Triphala packs intensely bitter and astringent tastes that take time to appreciate.  Prepare for it and don’t let it deter you.

Making Triphala Tea from powder is quite easy.  Start with either a teaspoon or a tablespoon of powder poured into a 12 or 8 oz coffee cup.   Fill it with near boiling water and let it steep.  Medicinal teas always steep longer then beverages, and while you can drink your tea after 20 minutes, in my personal practice I wait 8-12 hours.  By letting it sit a long time, the powder will settle to the bottom so you don’t need to mess with strainers.  When I need Triphala, I will drink two cups a day.  I make a cup after supper and let it sit covered on the counter to drink in the morning.  At breakfast, I will prepare my evening cup and leave it sit covered on the counter until then.

REMEMBER: Standard wellness theory has us looking for ways to halt the momentum of disease early.  Here is a great way to take the teeth out of disease early.

Balancing Against Extreme Cold

We have arrived at the top of the mountain.  And by mountain I mean crazy extreme cold weather.  This will, hopefuly, be the most extreme cold weather all year.  It is important to understand the implications that this peak weather has for our health.  The good news is that there is plenty we can do to minimize the stress that it puts us under.

According to ancient wisdom there are 10 pairs of opposing qualitys in our physical world.  The opposites of temperature, hot and cold, are the strongest to affect us.  Other qualities come with the extreme cold that we have been feeling, and bringing in their opposites can be greatly beneficial.  To help explain, think of what it would be like to stand on the top of a mountain.  Wild wind would be whipping across the landscape in gusts and swirls.  You could feel the cold and dry wind attempting to freeze, crack, and ravage your skin.  When we pay attention to the qualities of our winter weather, we find it to be full of dryness, roughness, mobility, lightness, sharpness, and coldness.  Those qualities are affecting us all.

To stay in balance, we want to be very conscious about bringing  the opposite qualities of those listed above into our lives.  An example would be dryness.  The more extreme the dryness outside, the more extreme we need to get in our efforts to drink more water and apply moisturizers to our skin and chapstick to our lips.  Pretty simple.  And so, we balance against the mobile wind with regularity and consistency in our daily schedule.  We balance against the rough, sharp and dry qualities of the air outside with things that are soft, smooth, and liquid.  We add warming activities and foods into our diet to combat the cold.   All of these practices have at their core the goal of minimizing the stresses that our environment is putting on us.

Remember: Stress can be defined as any change to homeostasis.  Think about the difference between our core body temp at 98.6 degrees and the current temperature outside?  The larger the difference, the larger the stress.  The same goes for all the above named qualities.

Practices:

Eat more soups.  Soup is hot, heavy, wet, and smooth.  Basically, you can’t do much better at finding a food with qualities so opposite of our weather.

Winter is also the time to add more acidic foods to your diet.  Acids are considered to be heating, and foods like nuts, beans, and meats all have warming qualities to them that are more appropriate in winter than in summer.

Moderate and regular exercise.  The key to this one is that regular exercise warms you, but extreme exercise stresses us.  So be consistent and be nice to yourself with 20 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a day to heat you up.   Also, exercise brings blood to the muscles and skin.  This helps the skin stay moist and healthy.

Stay home and read a book.  The more extreme the weather, the more extreme the stress.  So rest.  Turn off the stimulants and the motion in your life.  Curl up in a warm cave of blankets and hibernate a bit.

Crimes Against Wisdom

There is a pearl of wisdom that says, “Well over 90% of all our dis-ease comes from performing crimes against wisdom.”  What could a crime against wisdom be?  The answer is quite simple.  A crime against wisdom happens when you know you should not do something, but you do it anyway.  In other words it is not heeding our inner voice of wisdom, also called heart knowing or our gut reaction.

We say, “Gosh, I’m tired.  I should go to bed.”  We stay up anyway.

We say, “I’m full.  I should stop eating.”  We clean our plate anyway.

All of us fail to listen to our inner voice of wisdom at times.  Often, this is because our mind and our gut have different opinions about what to do.  Our mind wants to get its own way, so it argues like crazy.  Our mind creates excuses, talks us in circles, and often manipulates us with our own desires.  It does this in order to convince you to go ahead with what it, the mind, wants.  Our gut comes to conclusions a different way.  Our gut can’t argue the way our minds can.  Our gut’s voice doesn’t explain itself with rational thought or wordy explanations.  Our gut just knows.

The difference between the voice of the gut and the voice of the mind can be explained in short by saying that knowledge isn’t wisdom.  Our mind is a complicated thing.  It has great power, but its knowledge is limited.  Wisdom is deeper.  It is intuited.  Wisdom from the gut isn’t clouded by the opinions of the mind and is therefore very honest.  This is important when it comes to wellness.  Your gut says, “I’m full.”  Your mind says, “I must keep eating until everyone else is done, too.  I don’t want them to think I don’t like the food.”

Wellness Practice:  By making a conscious effort to listen to what your gut is saying, you will strengthen your connection to that level of internal wisdom.  Start simply with two food based practices.  The first opportunity to connect occurs when you choose to make a meal.  Stop, close your eyes and ask yourself what you want to eat.  Start listening to your responses and try to make the meal your gut is telling you it wants to eat.  The second opportunity happens as you end your meal.  Listen and watch.  When your body tells you it is full, do you stop eating?  What stories do you tell yourself that complicate the simple impulse of, “I’m full?”  What are the parts of the conversation that conflict with the voice telling you to stop?  Are you conscious about your end of meal habits?  Do you nibble and don’t know it?  Is the fork back in your hand?  Stay with these two awareness building practices.  Eventually you will learn more about yourself and hopefully be able to perform a few less crimes against wisdom each week.

Caution:  By continuously suppressing our internal voice of wisdom we end up constantly pushing the boundaries of our health.  By eating too much, we stress our system.  By neglecting rest and sleep, we stress our system.  We stress ourselves by little bits again, and again, and again.  What happens to a body after 30 years of extra little stresses again, and again, and again?

Remember:  All stress caused by crimes against wisdom is avoidable.   Train yourself to heed your internal voice of wisdom.