Intuitive Wellness

Our bodies are amazing. They have a natural way of communicating their needs, but we have forgotten how to listen, often preferring a quick fix. Ayurveda offers a natural approach to health, and a great way to start is by paying attention to the 10 pairs of opposites, or gunas. These descriptive words highlight the connection between our environment, mental state, digestion and physical bodies.

For example, at the end of my work day, I’m often aware of my to do list. I am left feeling scattered and overwhelmed. In ayurvedic language I would use the terms mobile & dry (scattered thoughts), subtle & light (overwhelmed). My body recognizes this, and looks for a quick fix. To find balance, I crave something static, heavy and sweet. Our bodies are smart, so the quickest way to achieve this feeling is through food (and often we may crave the wrong foods with the right qualities). What I’m observing lately, is that a little fruit or almond butter satisfies the urge for sweet taste and combats dryness, while meditation gives me that heavy and stable quality that I’m missing.

Ayurveda gives us a different way of meeting our own needs. The formula is simple “like attracts like and opposites balance”. Using the 10 pairs of opposites will highlight what our bodies are really asking for. Learning to listen to our bodies in a different way and taking small steps to meet your own needs will leave you feeling balanced and satisfied rather than depleted and lacking. Here is a list of the 10 gunas to help get you started

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Heavy - Light

Slow/Dull - Sharp

Cold - Hot

Oily - Dry

Smooth - Rough

Dense - Liquid

Hard - Soft

Static - Mobile

Subtle - Gross

Cloudy - Clear

If you’re done with the quick fix diet approach to health and strive for a wholistic approach to lifetime wellness, let’s set up a free 30 minute conversation. A commitment to working with me for 3 - 6 months will teach you to learn to listen to your own body’s cues and find your own best health.

What is Self-Care

Self-care is a buzz word that I hear being used to describe a variety of activities. My recent search of #selfcare on instagram revealed over 9 million posts. The current top posts include “how to get a boyfriend, favorite manicure color, eyebrow shapes and weight loss tips for lazy people”. This differs dramatically from what I consider self-care, so I consulted my trusty dictionary.

“The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health.” - Oxford Dictionary

There is nothing wrong with maintaining your looks or improving your relationships, but as a yoga teacher and ayurvedic practitioner, I offer a much broader variety of self-care practices. Wellness needs vary from person to person and shifts are often necessary based on the season and individual constitution (including vikriti - state of imbalance). With the cool winds of fall, many people experience an imbalance of the vata dosha (air and space elements). Signs of vata imbalance include bloating, gas, constipation, nervousness, fatigue and dryness of the skin. Ayurveda and yoga offer warming and nurturing self-care practices that can help return a sense of balance.

Diet is a great place to practice self-care and establish balance. Because of the cold, dry nature of the season, I recommend avoiding cold foods, and opting for warm, moist foods that are easy to digest. In ayurveda, we focus on the 6 tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, astringent and bitter) and include them in every meal. In the case of vata imbalance, we can focus on can add a little more sweet, sour and salty tastes.

I recommend establishing a series of daily morning practices as self-care. One item that is a must in my daily routine is drinking hot lemon water. During the summer when my digestion is strong, I use less lemon or switch to lime. Now that fall is here, I recommend using the juice of 1/4 to 1/2 a lemon. You can still have coffee or tea, but start with your hydration practice. If you choose to drink coffee or tea, let it be the bitter taste that accompanies your meal.

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Looking for more ways to support your health with yoga and ayurveda? During ayurvedic consultations, we will establish self-care routines that include morning/evening habits, breathing practices, a yoga/movement routines and dietary guidelines tailored to meet your wellness goals.

If you are in the Lancaster area, you can learn more at my Doshas + Dosas Workshop. Those ready to invest in the next level of self-care are invited sign up for Create Karma’s AWE (accessible wellness for everyone) program. 2019 rates are discounted for those who sign up by January 31.


In Rhythm - an Ayurvedic Approach to Life

For the past 10 years, I have worked as a Cardiac Electorphysiology Technologist. We are rhythm specialists. We create rhythms in the hearts of those without it and we have many tools to hunt down and treat problem rhythms in others. It is our job to restore balance (sinus rhythm) to the hearts of those who are suffering. 

Finding balance and proper rhythm has been a passion of mine in my yoga practice and teaching.  In 2016, I was introduced to the self care practices of Ayurveda by Deanne Caputo during my 300 hour teacher training program at Create Karma , and this October I will complete my training as an Ayurveda Yoga Specialist through the Himalayan Institute under the guidance of Katheryn Templeton. Ayurveda teaches us to live in rhythm with nature and nurture ourselves. This is a deep topic that takes years of study and practice to master. 

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A great way to start is to nurture yourself by living in rhythm with nature. Ayurvedic teachings recommend going to bed by 10 pm and being up by 6 to stay in rhythm with the energy of the day.  You know that 2nd wind that you get when you're up past a certain time?  That energy could be better used by letting your body "rest and digest" while you sleep. That groggy feeling when you've slept in? It is more in tune with nature to rise early and begin your day in the rhythm of your daily self care rituals (more on that in a future post). 

If you have trouble getting to sleep early, you can sooth yourself by massaging your feet with oil (consider adding lavender) or focus on your breath, gradually lengthening your exhale and feeling the heaviness of your body. If you want to learn more about ayurvedic self care practices and living in rhythm with nature, find me in one of my yoga classes or contact me at bethmartinyoga@yahoo.com to schedule an appointment for a private consultation.