Sometimes I get the question: “Why have you chosen the path of Yoga and Ayurveda?” The best answer, I suppose, is that I don’t feel as though I chose it. It feels more like yoga and ayurveda chose me.
Like most students of life, I arrived at my first yoga class without any background in yoga philosophy, and I wasn’t missing it either. As time went by, I began to experience the benefits of a regular practice in ways that my conventional fitness program wasn’t able to stand up. I began to internalize the “essence” of yoga and would look at my sixty something gray haired, soft, strong bodied yoga teacher and wonder what she ate for breakfast and what kind of shampoo she used. I would devour the little bits of information that she would offer, then apply them to my life beyond the mat. As I integrated them at home, I found that I felt better. Life seemed more manageable, and I was happier. Lighter. Aches and pains I had felt before were beginning to fade away, and my limiting beliefs that I needed a “workout” began to fade as I felt much deeper, sustainable benefits permeate my life and my body.
Then, over time the benefits begin to awaken a hunger. Yoga gives us each a taste of how to be in the world in a more light and conscious way. It teaches us how to be interconnected to all people, to leave judgment behind and to see the multitude of ways that we are connected to, not different from, each another. And so, this is where the spiritual path really opens up. This is where the realization comes that Yoga includes and embraces all ways of being, all spiritual paths, all religions, and also realizes that we are part and parcel of a much greater purpose, intention, and path than our limited minds can fathom. And that this path is Yoga = Union = Love = Oneness.
And then this hunger becomes a craving… A desire to awaken a certain way each day. A desire to create daily ritual that integrates each breathing moment with walking a spiritual path. So conscious and clear that there is consciousness in what is consumed, purchased, done in one’s spare time. As well, the selection of books, music, magazines, labels, brand names, and the community to which we belong becomes so clear. So honest. So loving. The drama begins to fall away. Pettiness melts. Conflict wanes. Trust waxes. Then, we accept each other and ourselves as perfect in each and every moment, and we seek to be content in every moment, exactly as we are for no other reason than contentment itself. We see food as medicine, and realize the profound “lightness of being” that is available when we eat, fresh, balanced, seasonal, live foods, walk in tandem with nature, and allow God to infiltrate every, breathing moment. The words ‘struggle, hard, and difficult’ are no longer part of one’s vocabulary. Instead, every experience and person is perceived as a welcome teacher.
Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison, which is one of the books I’ve got in my resource list, to which I’ll give you access to a little later… says this about Yoga (with the big Y as I like to say), as a spiritual practice:
“A spiritual practice is one that brings us full circle – not to a new self, but rather, back to the essence of our true selves. Yoga is the practice of celebrating what is. At the end of one’s journey, one finds there is no need to go anywhere, that all that is sought was within you all along. It is the aim of all spiritual seeking to bring us home, home to the understanding that we already have everything we need… We are far now from home, and weary from our travels. The sun is setting and there is no destination in sight. Yoga is a lamp lit in the window of our home, dimly glimpsed across the spiritual wilderness in which we wander. At a time when we could not feel further from our home, yoga reminds us that we are already there, that we need simply awaken from our dream of separation, our dream of imperfection.”
So, for me… Yoga and Ayurveda both go hand in hand and are completely inseparable from living my best life.
Yoga as a physical practice keeps me strong, steady, grounded, magnetic, fluid, inspired and upward rising, and Ayurveda helps me remember how to live in alignment with the five elements :: earth, water, fire, air and space…. And how to manage change, seasons, death, loss, and the inevitable storms that come our way….
I’m going to give you just a few practical examples of how yoga and Ayurveda come into my life every single day.
First, I align my life best I am able with the light of the day…. I eat at the high point of the day, when the fire on the planet (aka the sun) is the hottest b/c this is also when my digestive fire is the hottest. Biggest meal between 10 am – 2 pm.
Second, I drink warm or room temperature beverages…. (Which obviously rules out right quick, things like margaritas and colas because puke!)… Your digestive fire works optimally when you are are not cooling it or putting it out by adding cold beverages or ice to your tummy. This takes some getting used to, but it makes a huge difference in things like nutrient absorption, gas and having a happy tummy.
Third, I move my body in the morning — always and in all ways. If I feel punky, I still move my body accordingly…. Maybe I don’t go running or climb any mountains, but I definitely move my body, roll around, stretch, do a gentle yoga practice — and always in the morning, to wake my body up and get myself ready for the day. (Besides, once I get it out of the way, it’s done! (Best part of doing anything is to get it over with!)
Fourth, I know the power of breath. Exhaling longer than inhaling (like exhaling for 8 counts and inhaling for 6) helps relax the body and drop my entire nervous system function into relaxation response — so when I am feeling amped up or anxious or can’t sleep or get myself grounded… I do this. As an alternative, if I inhale for 8 counts and exhale for 6, this shifts me into stress response — which isn’t a bad thing, by the way, it’s just the place from which I can turn up my internal “get it done” and be super productive.
And finally, one more tip…. I oil my body… everyday. No expensive oil. Just basic sesame oil — cooking grade — not the toasted kind — and I douse my body in oil to nourish my skin from the outside in, and this alone helps ground me, steady me, and nourish my nervous system, calm my digestive system, and help me get the most out of my resting hours.
That’s just a few of my favorite and never – miss- ‘em ways in which I integrate yoga and Ayurveda into my life.
I literally can tell you that my life is way better with these tools at my fingertips, and I am also certain that my life has become inseparable from these practices and ways of being in the world….. and I’m all the better for it.
If you enjoyed this, head on over to: brittbsteele.com/favorites and I’ll share with you some great places to get started on your journey of learning more about yoga and Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga.