+51 961 369 218 (cell & whatsapp)
Well :) I opened a yoga studio in Cusco, Peru. Lately, people have been trying to find me here, looking for classes, etc... so I thought I'd post that information here, just in case. Come find me at YogaWasi!
+51 961 369 218 (cell & whatsapp)
My thoughts are on my mother and grandmother at the moment... the loss of them and the process of recovering from that loss... or rather, the current moment and it's appearance due to that loss.
"The psyche knows how to heal, but it hurts. Sometimes the healing hurts more than the initial injury, but if you can survive it, you'll be stronger, because you've found a larger base. Every commitment is a narrowing and when that commitment fails, you have to get back to a larger base and have the strength to hold to it."
I read that yesterday and it made me think of all that has happened since losing the two women who played the largest roles in my life. It made me wonder about this "larger base". What does "larger base" mean? Can it be a place? Does tragedy result in strength? Is it possible that all is going to be okay?
I sat with those thoughts a bit.... contemplating whether Cusco was supposed to be a part of that "larger base" or not. Contemplating whether or not I am doing the right thing... settling here, breathing normally again, pausing my adventures around the world.
Joseph Campbell once wrote:
"Nietzsche was the one who did the job for me. At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called "the love of your fate." Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, "this is what I need." It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment - not discouragement - you will find the strength is there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow.
Then, when looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You'll see that this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes."
This day, four years ago, was the day my mother was in a car accident that eventually took her life and soul out of this world. She took her final breath, on her own, in literally about 10 more minutes, 3:31 pm, four years ago. It feels so crazy to write that. And it feels even crazier that I am able to breathe right now. For so many years this day has come around and I have found myself unable to breathe, unable to sit still, unable to look at anything beautiful without crying, unable to feel loved.
But, this year is different. I am still sad. I still have this tension in my chest, like tears welling up that need to seep from my eyes eventually, but it's not so painful. What I find the most amazing is the journey to this point. The tears shed, the adventures, the letting go, emotionally, physically, etc. The base finally forming like strong steady stone beneath my feet instead of like an ocean of tears.
The yogi principle of non-attachment has been my mantra for as long as I can remember. This concept that everything is temporary. Nothing lasts. Death is inevitable. However, of course, when something or someone is snatched from you, as a human, it is a natural reaction to grasp at it a little tighter and to crave its presence. It's that craving though that causes the suffering. It's the suffering that causes the numbness that sometimes cynically follows. And yet, somehow, there's supposedly a balance that can evolve from the tragedies. One can find gratitude in all the temporary.
I think I've finally reached that point where I am able to feel gratitude for the tragedies, and love for the experiences, for the results.
Because my mother lost her life like she did, when she did... because my 8 year relationship ended suddenly and without warning a couple months later, because I lost all the family I felt I really had since most had been non-participatory in my life... because of the depression and sadness... I was able to leave the country and end up here.
I am now here. Present. Awake. Open-Hearted.
And to be honest, there's nowhere else I'd rather be. I feel very lucky. I feel very blessed. I feel very strong. I feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair and I simply desire nothing more than another June 25th. Another memory. Another breath. Another day.
The dark night of the soul
comes just before revelation.
When everything is lost,
and all seems darkness,
then comes the new life
and all that is needed.
I wonder what my life would have been like if my mother hadn't passed away four days from now, four years ago. I wonder if I would have ended up here in Cusco, Peru. I wonder if I would be opening a yoga studio. I wonder if I would have spent the last four years attempting to complete her bucket list, as well as fulfill my own.
As I sit here and reflect upon this incredible journey, I remember little details of a blog I wrote about the loneliness I felt after losing her... I remember wondering if it would ever really go away. I also remember writing a blog about trying to find happiness in this world without her... about my attempt to recover and just breathe. I remember wondering if my breath would ever return to me. And I remember writing a blog about being emotionally hurt shortly after losing her and trying to recover from that too. I remember thinking that it was going to be a very long, long journey.
And it has been.
I remember the day I decided to leave the country and just go - go wherever she wanted to go when she had been alive. Just go and let everything else go. I remember I couldn't place my feet on my yoga mat without crying... and I remember finally just doing it... pushing through Surya Namaskara under a full moon in Santorini... pushing through the tears and practicing anyways... hearing my mother's voice telling me, "keep going"... "one more round"... "breathe"... until finally all the tears fell and fell and fell and I could breathe again.
And here I am now, four years later... finally settling. Finally feeling peace and at home. And once again, I am feeling grateful for yoga and for it's unbelievably healing energy. Without it, I wouldn't have found the healing I needed, nor would I be the woman I am today. And today, I feel grounded. I feel open-hearted. Aware. Awake. Present. And so unbelievably grateful. *sigh....
It's because of yoga's healing abilities that I want to share it with you too. And so, it's with much gratitude and excitement that I share the following news with you now.
I'm working on my own bucket list item - To Offer Yoga In My Own Studio <3
Yeah, it's happening :) I found a cozy space and the heart and energy to share as much yoga and it's benefits as I can with you. The studio will be in Santa Monica, Cusco, Peru. It's located just a short walk from Avenida de la Cultura. It's on the third floor of a renovated home and has a terrace and little court yard. It's cute, warm, full of love and full of gratitude. There's so much to do still, but I'm hoping I'll be able to offer classes in mid-July, along with many beautiful teachers from all over the world. We will offer Forrest Yoga, Yin, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hatha, Kundalini, Qigong and more!
Another perk, as I work on fulfilling my own dream of having my own studio, I also get to work on completing one of my mom's wishes -"LEARN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE".
It's funny how this has turned out, isn't it? How tragedy can lead to positive experiences. How one crack just lets in more light. It's a wonderful life we all have.
Come visit me sometime my yogi friends in other countries. I'd love to see you. Truly.
Check it out :)
A spirit that lives in this world
and does not wear the shirt of love,
such an existence is a deep disgrace.
Be foolishly in love,
because love is all there is.
There is no way into presence
except through a love exchange.
If someone asks, But what is love?
answer, Dissolving the will.
True freedom comes to those
who have escaped the questions
of freewill and fate.
Love is an emperor.
The two worlds play across him.
He barely notices their tumbling game.
Love and lover live in eternity.
Other desires are substitutes
for that way of being.
How long do you lay embracing a corpse?
Love rather the soul, which cannot be held.
Anything born in spring dies in the fall,
but love is not seasonal.
With wine pressed from grapes,
expect a hangover.
But this love path has no expectations.
You are uneasy riding the body?
Dismount. Travel lighter.
Wings will be given.
Be clear like a mirror
Be clean of pictures and the worry
that comes with images.
Gaze into what is not ashamed
or afraid of any truth.
Contain all human faces in your own
without any judgement of them.
Be pure emptiness.
What is inside that? you ask.
Silence is all I can say.
Lovers have some secrets
that they keep.
“Isn’t it time
to turn your heart
into a temple of fire?”
There is an aloneness that is not loneliness, and not despair, and western medicine hasn’t got a clue. It is something like a profound closeness with your own being, an intimacy with the quiet passing of things, friendship with the broken and the transient within and without. While you quietly grieve over yesterday’s dreams of tomorrows that never came, you hold today so close in your arms. You are the mother of today.
There is a fragility that is not weakness. An exquisite sensitivity to the sad majesty of this ordinary world, a vulnerable openness that has nothing to do with how much money you have made, how you have succeeded or failed in your quest for perfection, or how beautiful or immune to infection your body is, but something to do with the tenderness with which you are willing to touch the broken parts of the world, the depths of aloneness to which you are willing to plunge.
There is an exquisite melancholy that is not depression, contains no pathology, for it contains no self at all. It is as if the heart is broken open and cannot be closed again, ever. Like everything is made of the finest crystal and could shatter at any moment. The sun could burn up without warning, the breath could seize up, a loved one could pass away quietly in your arms. That tiny bird on the tree over there is made of finely woven thread. The neglected pool of water by the supermarket door has infinite depths but no surface, no surface. The moon takes on the quality of a reflection of a reflection in a dream, and everything is so close. You can touch the horizon, whisper to galaxies.
This melancholy, sometimes it arrives unexpectedly in the middle of the night, when you cannot sleep and the moonlight is casting tender shadows on your forearm, or it comes sometimes as you walk through the forest with your dog (you love how he waddles now that he’s getting old, your little companion) and you remember what it is like to be free, or at least alive; or it comes unexpectedly at the dinner table with friends, with delight at … the salt, yes, delight that the salt could exist at all, that there is a world with salt and food and friends, and the possibility of meeting.
Do not medicate away this melancholy. Go deeper into it. It contains information, important information, and longs to release its healing energies. No, they won’t understand you, they will call you depressed, self-indulgent, mad, but you will smile, for you are like the daffodil, and you never wanted to be understood. Your being is too vast to be understood. You will take this imperfect life over no life at all, you will take this broken world blasted through with gratitude over a perfect world half-touched or half-remembered, and the judgements of others will be a small price to pay for never being able to turn away.
Running naked through the streets, throwing off the last of your clothes, you will laugh as they come to lock you up. You are free! You are free! And this beautiful melancholy will keep you from ever closing your heart!
- Jeff Foster
“All things are in process, rising and returning. Plants come to blossom, but only to return to the root. Returning to the root is like seeking tranquility. Seeking tranquility is like moving toward destiny. To move toward destiny is like eternity. To know eternity is enlightenment, and not to recognize eternity brings disorder and evil. Knowing eternity makes one comprehensive; comprehension makes one broadminded; breadth of vision brings nobility; nobility is like heaven.” ~ Lao-tse
I had a cat named Oscar that recently died (named after one of my most favorite authors and poets, Mr. Oscar Wilde.) He was my first cat and I loved him. I arrived in Peru a week ago with the intention of returning to the states soon to see my pets and family. It had been so long since I had been home, so the idea of holding my super soft cat had often brought a smile to my face. However, my step-father contacted me a few days ago and informed me gently that Oscar had died in his sleep. Oscar was six years old. Maine Coon cats are ‘supposed’ to live to 20, so this was a shock to me. And so I cried. I spent a whole evening crying and looking through pictures and videos of him. I felt sadness that I would never hold him like a baby in my arms again or pet him in the morning as he woke me up with kisses.
After a period of time I took a deep breath, put the pictures aside, laid out my yoga mat and forced myself to practice surya namaskara. I was in downward dog, taking deep breaths, when my heart opened and a smile came to my face. I smiled because I had loved. I smiled because he had existed. I let go of the sadness and I embraced the love. I felt blessed… blessed that he had been in my life and that I had all those moments with him… and blessed that I experienced such sadness over the loss of him. I experienced true loving feelings. It’s amazing how yoga opens the energy channels of our body. How it can guide you to the answers to that you have long pondered. How it can bring you peace when you need it the most.
I have had the blessed experience of losing family/animals/jobs/friends/lovers in my life. I say ‘blessed’ because without these experiences I believe I would still be asleep. I would continue to take advantage of the time I have with people that I love, but instead I now feel more aware, awake and appreciative of the people and moments in my life. I have developed a living understanding of the temporariness of everything and everyone in my life. I have come to learn that every second is precious. Every moment is a treasure to be loved and cherished… and let go of. I’ve learned that when the person, animal, lover, thing departs (as all things will inevitably do), that it’s okay… that the love will live on.
“For that which is born, death is certain, and for that which is dead, birth is certain. You should not grieve over the unavoidable… The Supreme Self which dwells in all bodies can never be slain… Weapons cut it not; fire burns it not; water wets it not; the wind does not wither it. Eternal, universal, unchanging, immovable, the Self is the same forever… Dwelling in all bodies, the Self can never be slain. Therefore you should not grieve for any creature.” ~ Bhagavad Gita
We will all inevitably experience loss in our life. Pain. Misery. Sadness. Heartache. It’s these feelings and experiences that make us human. We have hearts and we tend to love so much! And we all struggle some. When I held my grandmothers hand as she left this world I felt like a part of me had died. I didn’t quite grasp the concept of the temporariness of everything though. So, when I lost my mom I struggled! I thought I had more time! I did! I floundered and felt so much loss. Overwhelming sadness. And it took me a long time and many yoga poses and moments of solitude and mistakes made and countries seen, to cope with the loss of them both… But now, looking back on it all, I would not change a thing. I am more alive because of these losses. I am more open-hearted. I love and I love hard. And now that Oscar is no longer here, I am still okay because I loved him fully. I loved him truly. And I have no regrets.
A long while ago, during the loss of my mother, I began reading Nietzsche… and it was Nietzsche that sort of did it for me. At a certain moment in Nietzsche’s life, the idea came to him of what he called “the love of your fate.” He teaches that whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, “This is what I need.” It may look like a wreck, but you should go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment – not discouragement – you will find the strength is there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life.
Nietzsche also says that then, when looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You’ll see that this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.
Recently I’ve been speaking with a very dear friend of mine about a friend of hers that is experiencing the inevitable death of her beloved father. To this friend and anyone else experiencing loss, I want you to know that it’s going to be okay. You will recover and the strength that you need will be there for you. Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” Keep loving! Keep smiling! Embrace the moments you have left with the ones you love… and let them go… because they are not really gone… they will live on in your heart and memories and smiles and tears. And when he/she finally does pass… It will at first feel so new and all you’ll see is the empty space, but that is not how it is in the landscape of the heart. There, there is no empty space and he still laughs and grapples with ideas and plans and nods wisely with each of us in turn. And you can continue to live proud that you knew him, loved him and cherished him until the very end.
I just want to say to her and anyone else experiencing loss or the feeling of overwhelming sadness that I hope that my experiences and studies help you to handle loss in your life a little better and to please know that you are not alone. In short, love the moment, the experience, the happiness and sadness… you will come out of this stronger than you ever thought possible.
While women are still the majority in yoga classes, there's a strong movement of men not only trying yoga, but striving both on and off the mat. Men benefit just as much from a regular yoga routine as women. Here's how:
Yoga alleviates pain and injury.
Most men come to yoga with injuries and pain, particularly in the back, knees and joints. Yoga uses controlled movements, expert alignment, biomechanics and breath to open your body efficiently while minimizing the risk of injury.
Safety and alignment are the absolute first priorities in yoga. Yoga demands that you do not push beyond what you are capable of doing safely. Clear physical landmarks and attention to the breath prevent you from pushing past your limits. There's always a variation or modification to keep you safe while still progressing and challenging yourself. Within the first month of a regular yoga routine, you will alleviate your pain and injuries – beyond that, yoga will help take your health to a whole new level.
Yoga keeps your body fit, flexible and strong.
Many men say, “I'm not flexible enough to do yoga.” That is like saying, “I'm not strong enough to lift weights.” The poses are powerful and specifically designed to open and strengthen your body efficiently. Yoga will make you more flexible, light and in many ways stronger than any other exercise – without wrecking your body! With patience and steady practice, you will become more open than you've ever imagined.
The right combination of strength and mobility is key, whether you're a professional athlete or just trying to age gracefully. You will tone and strengthen muscles that you didn't know you had. The small muscles in your back that have been deteriorating from that desk job will be getting a long-awaited wake-up call. With a commitment to yoga, you will be a lean, mobile, strong and physically fit yoga machine.
Yoga will provide the fun challenge you crave.
Yoga is more than just sitting around, humming and talking about your feelings. As a former collegiate wrestler, I can honestly say that some yoga classes are more challenging than any workout I've ever done. It will be humbling at times, but worth it. You will learn how to challenge yourself without being competitive. Competition will result in injury. Most men come from a strong athletic or business-minded background, where competition is fierce. Yoga teaches you to challenge yourself intelligently and completely without being overly aggressive. Learning new poses and noticing real progress is addicting! The light-hearted, compassionate attitude in yoga will help you to not take yourself too seriously, even while you're sweating it out.
Yoga will help improve diet, sleep and overall health.
Once you're feeling the physical benefits of your yoga regimen, you naturally begin to shift your diet and sleeping patterns. You will no longer want to eat a pint of ice cream or stay out late on a weeknight knowing you're doing these healthy things for yourself. During yoga, you will notice your mind is so focused on what you're doing that it is impossible to think about your job, bills or anything else. You find yourself fully in the moment, and that complete focus puts your mind at ease. Afterward, you will feel grounded and relaxed. The combination of your body and mind feeling fantastic is a recipe for practical, healthy lifestyle changes.
Yoga allows you to do the things you love more efficiently and for longer.
The whole point of yoga is to live your life to the fullest. Whether you love to run, fish, golf, play basketball, travel or play with your kids without hurting yourself – yoga will help you do the things you love better and longer. While the yoga poses are fun and a strong tool, they're not the point. What matters is that when you feel great, you are able to truly savor life.
Yoga improves your performance and relieves stress.
In the trenches of the workplace, sports arena, family reunions and even the grocery store, you will face many challenges. Yoga trains your mind to be grounded and calm, especially while in the fire of stress. Why would anyone want to put themselves in a challenging yoga pose, hold it and be asked to stay calm and breathe deeply? Because on the battlefield of life, you will be challenged far more than you will on your yoga mat. However, by practicing to stay grounded in very uncomfortable situations, physically and otherwise, you train yourself to be at your best when it matters most.
Yoga is the fountain of youth.
Between all the physical, mental and overall health benefits, yoga will make you feel better and younger than you could have ever imagined. This only happens after you commit to a regular yoga routine. Anything worth doing will take patience and time. Yoga communities consist of the young and old alike who want to better themselves and live more vibrantly. You become the company you keep. When you surround yourself with people who willfully open their bodies and minds, you become more youthful and open to trying new things.
*This post originally appeared on USNews.com
Yesterday, my friend Daniela and I went exploring and managed to climb 1008 stairs to the very top of the Chamundi Hill here in Mysore, India… all in order to see a temple. 1008 steps people! I think that’s the most stairs I’ve ever climbed in one attempt and I am totally feeling it today in my calves. Lucky for me, today’s blog topic is abhyanga (pronounced ah-bee-yawn-ga), which just so happens to be the perfect solution for my sore muscles.
Over the past few days we’ve some spent time exploring the importance of the Ayurvedic practice dinacharya (daily routine), as well as the benefits of jala neti. Today, we are going to break down the practice of anhyanga, which is one of the principle actions within a strong and healthy dinacharya, and we are going to answer the following questions:
Abhyanga – What is abhyanga?
Abhyanga is the anointing of the body with oil. Often this oil is chosen specifically for your particular dosha or condition while keeping the current season in mind. The oil is usually warm and is massaged into the entire body before bathing.
It is believed that the effects of abhyanga are similar to those received when one is saturated with love. From my experience, I completely agree. Like the experience of being loved, abhyanga can give a deep feeling of stability and warmth. There is no greater expression of self-love than lovingly anointing ourselves from head to toe with warm oil. Doing so allows the oil/love to pass through minute channels in the body and to penetrate deep layers of our bodily tissue.
Abhyanga — the Ayurvedic oil massage — is an integral part of the daily routine recommended by this healing system for overall health and well-being. Traditional ayurvedic texts wax eloquent on the benefits. Here's what one says:
“The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age”. ~ Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89 - (One of the Great ancient texts of Ayurveda)
Benefits – What are the benefits of Abhyanga?
"By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age." ~ Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89
Abhyanga provides the means for trans-dermal absorption of the healing qualities of the material used in the massage, and it helps the skin, which is the largest organ in the body, perform its diverse functions efficiently, whether it is allowing toxins to be released from the body or nourishment to be absorbed by the tissues. It is like oiling the engine of your car — if you do it regularly, your engine will be in peak condition, and give you years and years of trouble-free performance.
Oils – Which oils should I use?
Oils used can vary depending on the season and the individual’s constitution (prakrti) but commonly used oils include sesame, coconut, sunflower, mustard and almond. The seasons change and therefore if we are to live in harmony with the seasons, we must change as well. For example, during the winter, you may want to use a warming oil such as sesame oil which is particularly helpful for the cooler, lighter vata dosha. However, being that pitta is already a fiery dosha, you may want to balance it out during the winter by using sunflower oil, opposed to the heating sesame oil or the cooling coconut oil. No matter which oil you are using, attempt to find organic, cold-pressed oils as they are better for you opposed to regular cooking oils.
If you would like to learn what your dosha is and/or receive a recommendation of an oil for your abhyanga, feel free to look over my Ayurvedic Services and then contact me. I’m happy to help!
Sesame Oil: If you choose sesame oil, look for cold-pressed, chemical-free organic sesame oil for the best results from your massage therapy. Sesame oil contains antioxidant properties, and is helpful in protecting the skin from free radical damage. It is considered highly nourishing for the physiology and has heating properties.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil has keshya properties -- that is, it improves hair quality. In Southern India, women apply coconut oil to their hair every day – which gives them long, lustrous locks. Applying it to the body results in a cooling effect.
Sunflower Oil: Sunflower oil is basically a neutral oil which is good for every dosha at some point throughout the seasons. It can be mixed with sesame oil to lessen the heating properties of that oil or it can be added to coconut oil to increase the heating properties of that particular oil. Sunflower oil also has a natural anti-bacterial property which makes it great for infection prone skin.
• Vata Dosha: Sesame oil or sunflower oil
• Pitta Dosha: Coconut oil or sunflower oil
• Kapha Dosha: Sunflower oil
Routine – What are the steps of an abhyanga routine?
The ayurvedic massage is traditionally performed in the morning, before your bath or shower to facilitate the release of toxins that may have accumulated during the previous night.
Enjoy the feeling of having nourished your body, mind, and spirit and carry that with you throughout your day. Daily abhyanga is generally followed by yoga or gentle stretching exercises and meditation.
Today I slathered myself in coconut oil and instead of showering it off, I left it on the entire day and it felt glorious! Take a look at my makeshift abhyanga station. I boiled some water and then turned off the heat. Instead of placing the plastic bottle of organic coconut oil into the boiling water, I placed some of the oil in a small metal bowl and then kept the bowl afloat with a large spoon. After a short period of time I dipped my finger into the oil to confirm that it was warm and then used a small spoon to repeatedly lift some of it out to place on my palm. I slathered it into my hair, my face (which I washed off at the end), my ears and joints, my body and feet. It was an amazing and super nourishing morning. I have felt so calm and peaceful all day. I hope you enjoy abhyanga as much as I do. You may not get to do it everyday, but trust me, just a few times a week makes such a difference in your overall well-being and health. Enjoy!
Oh! It's especially helpful before your yoga practice because it lubricates the joints, allowing you to sit in lotus more comfortably for example. Shower before the yoga though or you'll slip all over your mat!
While I was ill this past week one of the most annoying symptoms that I had was a clogged or runny nose. Because of it, I was unable to think efficiently, breathe properly, or practice my yoga adequately. What did I do about this particular problem? I grabbed my neti pot. I know, I know… if you are afraid of the neti pot, please don’t freak out at this time, or close the page, or stubbornly sigh. Simply keep an open mind and read on!!! I promise you will find that what is shared here is enlightening and if practiced, totally worth it in one way or another, whether or not you practice yoga or any other form of Ayurveda.
Dinacharya - The use of Jala Neti is one of the key ingredients in a healthy dinacharya (daily routine) practice. A large part of this blog post is referenced from my most favorite yoga book of all time, “A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya” which was written by my teacher, Swami Satyananda Saraswati. With his guidance we will cover the following common questions about Jala Neti:
Because this particular post is so informational and therefore a little long, if you are a subscriber to this blog & are currently viewing it within your email box or on your phone, it is suggested that you read this post from the Blessed Yoga Website for better viewing. Simply click on the post title above or the link provided here… Oh, and thank you for subscribing & taking an active interest in your own self-healing & well-being. <3
This blog post is very detailed since most of it is coming directly from Swami Saraswati and he doesn’t miss a thing. If you are patient, you will learn quite a bit about jala neti and the human body. At the end of the blog I will gladly share with you my first experience of using a neti pot… it was quite harrowing, but in the end, totally worth it. I will also offer up some of my own recommendations and tips to help guide you on your journey toward having a healthy and balanced lifestyle through the Ayurvedic practice of dinacharya and jala neti.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati says...
Yogic science gives as much importance to certain cleansing processes as it does to asanas or pranayama. Without regular cleansing of the system you will not gain maximum benefits from your practices. Without purification of the body one will not be ready for the higher practices of yoga. When the body is free the mind also functions properly.
Body cleansing is gained through the practice of shatkarmas or the six purificatory techniques. Shatkarmas are excellent practices, which are designed to purify the whole body and bring about first class health. They also bring clarity and harmony to the mind. They are very important from the point of view of physical and mental health, and these simple techniques are also highly valuable in healing internal disorders. Today I will share with you one of the main groups of shatkarmas or yogic cleanses: Neti.
What is Jala Neti? Jala neti is a process of cleaning the nasal passage with salt water, and is essential in allowing free breathing as required in many yoga practices, as well as in helping to ensure your good health.
What are the functions of the nose? The nose is the body’s organ for ensuring that the air that enters the lungs is of sufficient purity and warmth not to cause harm. The air that we inhale is rarely suitable for entry into the lungs. It is generally too cold, too dirty and too germ-ridden. It is the function of the nose to rectify this situation.
First of all, the air we breathe contains dust and small insects. These larger impurities are initially screened out by the vibrating hairs at the entrance to the nasal passages. These hairs vibrate in the opposite direction to the air as it enters the nose and prevents impurities from proceeding further.
In the deeper regions of the nose there are special body structures that are covered with a thick, spongy, germicidal mucus membrane, through which circulates a large, rich supply of blood. The mucus membrane follows a long winding air passage which ensures that all the inhaled air comes in contact with the membranes. These mucus membranes remove millions of germs that are contained in the air and which could cause the lungs much harm, and in fact do in the case of pulmonary tuberculosis, bronchitis, etc. This mucus membrane also removes small particles of dust that have passed through the first defense of the hairs. This membrane both heats and moistens the air to a level that will not harm the lungs. Cold and dry air can result in much injury to the lungs.
Deeper in the nose there are a set of glands which further help to eliminate germs that have managed to escape the previous defenses. Additionally, our sense of smell prevents us inhaling noxious gases. As soon as we smell something unpleasant we immediately stop breathing, or if possible seek clean, fresh air.
By now the reader should be aware of the importance of the seemingly insignificant organ – the nose. It should also be obvious why it is so unhealthy to breathe continually through the mouth as so many people do. When air is inhaled through the mouth instead of the nose, it escapes all the mechanisms of the nose which prepare the air for admittance to the lungs. All the dust, germs, cold and dry air directly enter the lungs. The mouth and throat do have mechanisms for removing these impurities and air conditions, but they are nowhere nearly as efficient as the nose.
If the nose us blocked, or if the mucus membranes are profusely covered in impurities, then the nose cannot perform its duties effectively. In fact if the nose is completely blocked, then one is forced to breathe through the mouth. And we have already explained the disadvantages of this process. This is the reason why we blow our nose to operate efficiently. However, the normal nose blowing does not remove all impurities. Ingrained, dry mucus can remain. This is one of the reasons that the practice of neti was developed: to ensure the best possible cleaning of the nose.
There are other reasons for the use of neti such as the stimulation of various nerve endings in the nose; this leads to improvement in the brain and organs to which these nerves connect and also helps in the stimulation of ajna chakra, the midbrain psychic center.
Equipment - What kind of equipment do we need? A pot or lota (pitcher) should be used to introduce salt water into the nostrils. There are various designs and even a teapot can be used if nothing else is available. We recommend the shape of the post to be as shown in the provided picture. This pot is known as a neti lota. It can be made of brass or any other suitable material which does not contaminate water, but the important thing to remember is that the nozzle on the end of the spout should be suitably sized so that the end fits comfortably into your nostril.
Salt Water - How do we prepare the salt water? The water used in the practice should be pure and lukewarm; body temperature is the ideal temperature for pouring the water into your nose. The water should then be mixed with clean salt in the proportion of one teaspoonful per half liter of water. Make sure the salt is fully dissolved in the water. People often wonder why salt water is introduced into the nostrils instead of ordinary water. The reason is very simple and very practical. Salt water has a much higher osmotic pressure than ordinary water, which means that salt water is not easily absorbed into the delicate blood vessels and membranes in the nose, whereas ordinary water is. If you try this practice with ordinary water you will discover for yourself, in the form discomfort or a little pain in the nose. However, we don’t suggest you do this, though it is not at all dangerous.
In conclusion, salt water is ideal for jala neti, because while it thoroughly cleans the nostrils of impurities it is not absorbed into the delicate nasal membranes. As such no discomfort will be felt when the water flows through the nose.
Posture - What posture should we take? One may either sit in a squatting position known as kagasana, or one may assume a standing position, bending the shoulders and head forwards. This position is most suitable for doing neti into a sink or washbasin, while the other position, kagasana, can be done in the garden or in a shower.
Personally I simply lean over my sink. :)
Technique - What exactly is the technique? Fill the neti pot with the prepared salt water. Hold the bottom of the pot with one hand, as shown. Gently insert the end of the nozzle into the end of the left nostril (or, if this is blocked into the right nostril).
There should be no force involved, but the nozzle should press firmly against the side of the one nostril so that no water leakage occurs. Progressively tilt your head to the right side while simultaneously raising the neti pot in such a way that water runs into the left nostril. Make sure that you keep your mouth wide open so that you can breathe. Some people say that the mouth should be closed and the breath held during the practice, but we feel this complicates, especially for beginners, a practice that is essentially very simple. If the pot is in the correct position, if your head is tilted at a suitable angle and if there is a tight fit between the nozzle and the sides of the nose, then the water should flow in through one nostril and out through the other nostril. It doesn’t matter if water flows into your mouth or throat, but if the practice is performed correctly with relaxation this should not happen. Allow the water to flow through the nostrils for 10 to 20 seconds.
Then remove the neti pot and remove the water and impurities from your nose by closing the left nostril and breathing quickly and forcibly through the other nostril. Don’t blow so hard, however, that you damage your nose and cause bleeding. In this respect the practitioner should use his/her discretion.
Now close the right nostril and blow forcibly through the left nostril.
Now pour water into the right nostril for about 20 seconds and repeat the same process.
Again pour water into each of the nostrils in turn, repeating the same technique just described.
Personally, if I am using a large stainless steel neti pot (which I like to call the Cadillac of netis) I use one half of the water in one nostril, pause to blow, then use the remaining half of the water in the other nostril, pause, blow. Done.
Drying the Nostrils: After completing this practice the nostrils must be dried and any further impurities removed.
Stand erect. Bend forwards so that the trunk assumes a horizontal position. Close one nostril by pressing the side of the nose with the thumb. Breath in and out vigorously up to 10 times in quick succession. The exhalation should be especially emphasized to expel the moisture from the nostrils. Repeat the same procedure with the other nostril closed. Then repeat the same procedure with both nostrils open.
This simple practice should remove most of the moisture from the nose. If moisture remains the vigorous breathing should be repeated until the nose is perfectly dry.
Duration - How long will this take? Once the practitioner is familiar with the technique, the whole process can be completed in a short period of time. Not including preparation of the water, the whole process should take less than five minutes.
Neti is ideally practiced early in the morning before breakfast. However, if necessary, it can be practiced at other times of the day, excepting straight after meals. Once a day is sufficient, though if one has a nasal catarrh, a cold or any other specific ailment, it may be practiced more times.
Limitations and Precautions: People who suffer from chronic bleeding of the nose should not do neti without expert advice. Make sure that the water is not too hot when you introduce it into the nostrils. Do not breathe in and out too deeply when removing the moisture from the nose; we are trying to improve the condition of your nose, not damage it. Also, if sinuses are blocked with mucus, be careful not to blow your nose hard. It is very easy to push the mucus further into the cavities. Ensure that the salt fully dissolves in the water before pouring it into your nose.
Be careful to hold the head correctly and not to hold the neti pot too low. In order for the water to flow into one nostril and out the other, the water level in the pot must be higher than the region at the back of the nose, where the two nostrils merge with each other. If you tilt your head too much then the water will go down your throat instead of the other nostril. If you tilt the pot too much the water will merely overflow out of the pot. You must adjust the position of your head and the pot so that they are at correct levels.
People who have great difficulty passing water through the nose may have a structural blockage such as a polyp. Expert advice should be sought. If there is a slight burning sensation in the nose during your first attempt with salt water, don’t worry. This will disappear as your nose tissue becomes accustomed to contact with water.
BENEFITS - What are the benefits of Jala Neti? Neti is the best method of preventing and eliminating colds. An effective cure for the common cold has not yet been found. Neti is not foolproof, but it goes a long way to solving the problem. A cold indicates something significant, namely that your body is in a weakened condition. If this was not the case, the cold virus would be unable to penetrate the defenses of your system; your auto therapeutic powers would be strong enough to withstand such an attack. The cold virus flourishes in nerve tissue, particularly the olfactory nerves in the nose. During a cold, neti greatly helps by removing the accumulated mucus in the nose, this being a breeding ground.
Regular practice of neti when you don’t have a cold keeps the nasal passages working at optimum efficiency and thereby helps to maintain a healthy body. Remember, breathing through the mouth or insufficient treatment of the inhaled air prior to entry into the lungs, due to nasal blockage and congestion, can encourage the onset of disease, by allowing germs to infect the lungs, or by generally weakening the state of health in the body.
Neti is also a help in curing sinusitis, ailments of the eyes, nose and throat, tonsillitis, catarrah, as well as inflammation of the adenoids and mucus membranes. It is effective in removing headaches, insomnia and tiredness. Neti has a subtle influence on the various nerves which end in the nasal passages, such as the olfactory bulb and other adjacent nerves which innervate the eyes, ears, etc. This has a very soothing influence on the brain and can help to relieve such ailments as migraine, epilepsy, depression, tension, etc.
Neti helps in no small manner to prevent and cure lung diseases such as asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, pulmonary tuberculosis, etc., for the reasons already mentioned. Respiration becomes much easier, which leads to an improved intake of oxygen, improved removal of carbon dioxide and consequently better health.
Importance of neti in yogic physiology: The science of yoga maintains that the flow of air in each nostril alternately changes. If you test this for yourself, you will find this to be true. At present one of your nostrils is admitting more air that the other. After some time the other nostril will admit the greater amount of air.
This alternate flow of breath through the two nostrils in turn has a profound influence on the energy cycle of man. It controls our thinking and physical activity, our introversion and extroversion. This cycle has a great bearing on our mental and physical health. Now if one or both of the nostrils are permanently blocked, then this natural alternation of breath flow cannot occur. Our health can suffer. This is another reason why jala neti is so important; it cleans both nostrils and allows the breath to alternate freely between the two.
Let's talk about my first showdown with a neti pot
The first time I was introduced to neti was back in 2007 in Sedona, AZ. My boyfriend at the time had tried repeatedly to get me to add this practice to my daily routine, however just the idea of putting water in my nose made me cringe. So I ignored him… until one day I was sick and I was standing in the bathroom, miserable, blowing my nose. It was then that he came to me, placed the ingredients that I needed for jala neti next to me, smiled a devilish smile and then wandered off.
SO THERE I STOOD... Leaning over the bathroom sink, head cocked at a 90* angle, wishing I had a level with which to verify that my forehead was in fact higher than my chin. Then I had this moment. There was this moment when I thought to myself:
Okay, I'm going to do it now.
No... now. Now! ... ... ... ... hmm... ... ... ... ...
Okay, 1....2....3.... Now!
Wait! I need to collect myself.
It's like the moment after you've cut your finger and you are contemplating putting alcohol on it…
Okay, I'm going to pour it NOW…
No… how about now! Maybe if I close my eyes?? Okay, go! Now!
Aaaannnyyy minute now.
But you keep hesitating! It's like there is a completely confused survival mechanism inside of you saying, "DO NOT POUR THAT STINGING ALCOHOL ON YOUR CUT. IT WILL HURT!" But at the same time you know deep down inside that in order to clean a wound, you have to momentarily suppress your will to live.
The same is true of your first time neti pot use. :)
There is something inside of you saying, "Do not pour that teapot full of water up your nose. That is a bad idea." But then you also kind of know it's probably helpful. You just need to bite the bullet!
Well… I stood frozen for a few minutes. I started breathing through my mouth, lifted the pot, and poured. I bit the bullet and I am here to tell you that exactly one eternity passed between the moment the water entered my right nostril and the moment it started flowing out of my left. I was so sure in the moment of eternity that water would soon be leaking out of my eye sockets, and that this was how it would all end for me… Me, slumped over the bathroom sink, neti pot in hand. Toast… death by neti pot.
But then it worked! I was pouring water into a hole in my face, and watching it flow out of a different hole in my face, and I thought, "THE HUMAN BODY IS A FREAKING ROCK STAR." And I blew my nose like I've never blown it before. It was glorious! :)
Neti Pot Reviews - Are some neti pots better than others?
Here are three neti pots that I have personally used and this is what I think of them.
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Yesterday we discussed and researched what the Ayurvedic practices of dinacharya are, as well as the benefits of adding this regular routine to your daily life. We discovered that dinacharya is a daily routine developed to ensure proper hygiene and dosha balance in the human body.
A daily routine invites health, vitality, and a sense of clarity into our lives. Adopting an appropriate daily routine is undoubtedly one of the most grounding and nurturing things you could do for yourself, and while the concept of having a daily routine is at the heart of an Ayurvedic lifestyle, no single prescription is right for everyone. So imagine yourself now as your own healer; realize that the general template I am providing can and should be adapted to meet the needs of each individual’s (your) constitution and current state of balance. And that’s the beauty of it, because the right daily routine can dramatically improve your life.
Keep in mind that it takes some time to establish a habit or new routine, so be gentle with yourself if you miss a day. Just come back to the routine the next day. The benefits of dinacharya to your health and wellbeing are immense, so it’s worth putting your time and attention on developing a nurturing balancing routine for your self.
In the last blog post we explored a few practices contained within a morning dinacharya routine. Today we will explore the options available within an evening dinacharya routine. Tomorrow we will dive further into the details, applications, and benefits of jala neti, abhyanga, and mindful-meditation.
Unwind: Dinacharya Options for the Nighttime
The evening routine is critically important because it lays the foundation for success with the morning routine. An evening routine can be as simple as establishing a consistent dinnertime and bedtime. Or, it can incorporate a few simple practices. Here are some healthy habits to consider adding to your evening routine.
Twilight Dimming: As the sun goes down, lower the lights in your home to signal to body and mind that the frenetic pace of the day’s activities is coming to an end—and that it’s time to stop being “on.” According to modern Ayurvedic experts, that means minimizing screen time on your electronic devices for at least an hour before bed, too. Wind down by reading something uplifting or spending time with your family or friends.
Stick to A Consistent Dinner Time: Ideally, we would eat dinner early enough that our food has time to move completely out of the stomach before we go to bed. This means allowing your body a minimum of 2-3 hours between dinner and bedtime. It may also mean eating a lighter dinner than we might otherwise be accustomed to. These practices allow for proper digestion, prevent the unnecessary accumulation of toxins, and support healthy sleep patterns.
Take Triphala: Triphala is a traditional Ayurvedic formula comprised of three fruits that are balancing for vata, pitta, and kapha. It is revered for its unique ability to gently cleanse and detoxify the digestive tract while replenishing, nourishing, and rejuvenating the tissues. About half an hour before bed, steep ½ teaspoon triphala powder in a cup of freshly boiled water for 10 minutes. Cool and drink. Or, take 2 triphala tablets with a glass of warm water.
By the way... anytime you see a green word that is typically underlined, it's a link to further information. Feel free to click. Also, you can use the search box up in the top, right corner of this website to search for keywords, such as "triphala", to see if I have written anything else about it, such as a review or blog. Sometimes I don't always include the green links in the current blog post, so you might give it a shot if you're unsure of the meaning of a word :)
Infuse: As night falls, light a stick of incense or a sandalwood and vanilla candle. Consider adding a few drops of these aromas, in the form of essential oils, to a warm bath. From an Ayurvedic perspective, these scents have a calming, balancing, and grounding effect. When we consistently associate these aromas with a particular state of being, such as relaxation, we create a memory in the brain. The next time we breathe in these aromas, our neurophysiology remembers that state of relaxation.
Create a Brief “Bedtime Routine”
The idea here is to create a simple series of events that helps to signal your body that the day is winding down and that you will be going to sleep soon. This practice can be incredibly helpful in supporting our ability to surrender to sleep. It is important that these activities be consistent from one day to the next. A bedtime routine might include things like:
Note: Reading in bed is not recommended, as it disrupts the desired association between being in bed and sleeping. If you like to read before bed, designate a specific place – other than your bed – and enjoy. But keep in mind that reading before bed can be quite stimulating to the eyes and the mind, which can disrupt healthy sleep patterns. If you tend to struggle with disturbed sleep, you might want to try giving up your bedtime book for a while to see if you notice a difference in your quality of sleep.
Soothe: There are several marma points, or Ayurvedic pressure points, on the foot that correspond to the entire body. Doing a foot massage, can relax the entire body in just a few minutes. I will write more about marma points in the future if you're interested in learning about them. Just let me know by leaving a comment below this blog on the Blessed Yoga Facebook Page or below the blog post on the Blessed Yoga Website.
Wash and dry your feet. Apply warmed, organic, cold-pressed sesame oil to one foot at a time, using your palms to rub the sole from heel to toe in small circular motions. Repeat on the top of the foot. Massage the ankle, followed by the sides of the foot. Interlace your fingers between your toes, gently push the foot to flex and point, and make clockwise and counterclockwise circles. Beginning with the little toe, rub each toe gently, and apply a little pressure in the webbing. Finally, pull each toe slightly, rub either lavender (soothing) or vetiver (grounding) essential oil into the sole of the foot and then put on clean cotton socks to sleep in.
Savor: Before bed, heat a cup of organic whole milk until it boils. Add a pinch of ground cardamom, nutmeg (spices that, in Ayurveda, are said to promote sleep), and cinnamon (to aid digestion). Let it cool a bit and add honey to taste. Warm whole milk is used in Ayurveda as an insomnia remedy. Don't drink milk? Sip chamomile, valerian, or lemon balm tea.
Breathe: To calm yourself for sleep, or before you sit for evening meditation, spend a few minutes doing Nadi Shodhana (also known as alternate nostril breathing). This cleansing breath practice calms the nervous system and, on a more subtle level, opens and balances the sushumna nadi, an energy channel that quiets and steadies the mind.
Place your right thumb over your right nostril to close the airway. Inhale through the left nostril, and then use your ring finger to close off the left nostril. Lift your thumb, and exhale out of the right nostril. Breathing in through the right nostril and putting your thumb over your right nostril again, exhale out of your left nostril. This completes a single round; try to do 5 to 10 rounds per sitting. This practice helps you transition from activity to stillness.
Establish a Consistent Bedtime: The trick here is to be consistent. Having predictable sleep and wake times helps our bodies naturally attune to a daily rhythm. It is often helpful to work backward from your desired wake time and establish a sleep time that ensures that you get enough rest each night without being excessive. This is a beautiful way for us to honor our need for sleep and to ensure that an appropriate amount of rest is built into each day.
Other Considerations That May Alter Your Routine
You may also find that there is good reason to deviate occasionally from this traditional tri-doshic routine.
Seasonal Adjustments: Each of the seasons arrives with its own unique personality. We can support an improved state of balance throughout the year by making a conscious effort to live in harmony with the cycles of nature and by making small adjustments in our routines in order to accommodate the arrival of each new season. For more information on how you might adapt your routine as the seasons change, view my Ayurvedic Consultation page and then contact me... or wait for future blogs.
Adjustments for Imbalances: Similarly, if we are dealing with imbalances that do not line up precisely with our constitutions, it is often helpful to adopt a routine that pacifies the dosha(s) that are most aggravated. If you are unsure of your current condition, contact me today and I will help you determine your current dosha. Learn more about this service HERE. If you know your current imbalances and would like to adapt your routine to better support those doshas, let me know and we can create a routine suited just for you.
At the most fundamental level, our physiology is very much adapted to – and supported by – some sense of regularity. Actually, this is precisely why the daily routine is such potent medicine. In effect, having a daily routine offers the grounding, stability, and predictability that are largely absent from our hectic modern lives. The routine itself creates a number of familiar and comforting reference points throughout each day that send a resounding affirmation to the deep tissues of the body that all is well, that we can be at ease. And so, when the body becomes accustomed to – and learns to count on – a daily routine that includes things like adequate rest, appropriate exercise, and a nourishing spiritual practice, the nervous system can finally begin to relax. As a result, a daily routine can elicit profound rejuvenation throughout the body without requiring any conscious awareness of the healing process.
Adopting a daily routine is also a very purposeful and enduring act of self-love. Each day, our routines provide us with a tangible opportunity to prioritize our own health and wellbeing, regardless of what else might be going on in our lives. They quickly become poignant reminders that we are in fact worthy of a healthy dose of loving attention every single day. The cumulative affect of caring for ourselves in this way is quite powerful. And for many, committing to a daily routine results in a greatly improved sense of wellness in a very short period of time.
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being.
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© 2011 Blessed Yoga. All Rights Reserved. | 'Yoga, as a way of life and a philosophy, can be practiced by anyone with inclination to undertake it, for yoga belongs to humanity as a whole. It is not the property of any one group or any one individual, but can be followed by any and all, in any corner of the globe, regardless of class, creed or religion.' - Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.