Have you ever heard of Ayurveda? It’s a sister science to yoga whose name literally means “knowledge of life.”
Ayurveda is now used mainly as a holistic healing method, whose overarching goal is staying in balance with the nature around us and with our inner nature.
According to Ayurveda, nature and we are all made up of different combinations of five elements–earth, water, fire, air, and ether. Our internal combinations of the elements determine what energy rules our body and mind. These energies are called doshas, of which there are three : vata, pitta, and kapha.
Since these doshas affect our personality and our health, knowing your dosha would help you know what food, exercise, working environment, schedule and so on would give you the best physical, mental, and emotional health.
For example, if your dominant dosha is fiery and sharp pitta, then you need to calm and cool down to balance it out.
On the other hand, if your dominant dosha is energetic and scattered vata, then you need structure and grounding to remain balanced.
If you’re slow and steady like an elephant, as a kapha you need get moving and eat light foods.
To learn more about Ayurveda, listen to my interview below (or download it) with Ayurvedic consultant Monica Bloom of Hey Monica B to find out:
what doshas are, Ayurvedically speaking
how to figure out your or other people’s dosha through what you/they look like
how to identify other people’s dosha through their emails in less than five minutes
the best way to communicate as a yoga teacher with each dosha type to address their learning styles
Want to learn more about Ayurveda? Here are your ACTION STEPS:
Find out what your dosha type is by taking Monica’s dosha test.
As Monica mentioned, summer is pitta season. Find out more about how to stay cool in the summer in her free magazine Seasonal Bloom for Pitta. This also applies to pitta people.
If you’re a kapha, check out her Seasonal Bloom for Kapha.
If you’re a vata or know a vata, download the comprehensive guide to vatas.
It’s summer in Berlin, even though the weather isn’t quite hot here yet.
Nonetheless, when the heat does turn on, sweating through a yoga class could feel like heating your body too much.
To address overheating, two yogic breathing / pranayama techniques called sitali and sitkari use your breathing to cool your body down. Not only do these two breathing / pranayama techniques cool your body down physically, they also cool down any heated emotions you may have, like anger or resentment. They both calm the mind, cool the body, and lower blood pressure.
The first breathing / pranayama technique sitali asks you to sip air through your rolled-up tongue. If you can’t roll up your tongue like a straw, the second breathing / pranayama technique sitkari is when you suck air through your teeth.
Watch the video below to see how to practice these two cooling breaths.
ACTION STEP : The next time you feel overheated either physically or emtionally, try a few rounds of sitali or sitkari breaths as I show you in the video above.
If you feel light-headed, dizzy, or in any way uncomfortable during these breaths, stop and breathe normally for several rounds. Begin again when you’re ready.
Let me know if you have any requests for a short yoga routine and/or questions about yoga or meditation!
Currently I’ve been publishing an interview for Yogis Talk the first Friday of the month and Q and A video posts on the second and fourth Thursdays. When I have something written to publish, that comes out on the occasional Tuesday.
I realize, however, that I’m gifted by a wonderful community of awesome yogis, and so I’m opening up Active Hands Yoga to the community to share their valuable wisdom and experiences. Are you a yoga teacher or a yoga student? Or just yoga-curious?
I’m specifically looking for….
* …”My Favorite Asana” posts where you tell us your favorite asana and why, especially if you have a story
* …Real Life Yoga Style Icon where you show us with photos or videos how you dress for yoga class and your daily life
* …‘Traveling Yogi’ posts where you share your experiences in a yoga ashram or meditation retreat
* …any other guest post (it can be written, video or image-based) that my readers’ll love….
As long as you have something valuable and unique to share, you’re so welcome here. And it’s so easy!
To submit a post, please email me at info at activehandsyoga dot com, and tell me what you’d like write / film / interview about. After you submit an idea, I’ll work with you to create something that works well for our readers and for you. As necessary, I will also edit the piece with your feedback, so we can all be 100% happy about our work together. For more information, I’ve created some submission guidelines for guest posts here.
Like many other entrepreneurs, we yoga teachers get together to share business and life stories. When I met Erinbell Fanore, a fellow yoga teacher in Berlin teaching hatha and yin yoga, at one of these casual get-togethers, I was most impressed that she made her own yoga DVD on the sunny island of Malta. She talked about it like it was easy to pull off, so I had to ask how how she did it with such ease as one of my Yogis of the Month.
Even if you don’t want to make your own yoga DVD, listening to how simple and easy it is to tackle a big project once you break down into steps and ask for help is helpful for any project. You would imagine that producing a DVD would take months to do, right? But knowing that Erinbell produced hers in just two weeks completely changed my mindset of what’s possible. And expanding possibilities is always a good thing.
Listen to my interview* above with Erinbell (or download it!) to find out about:
her introduction to yoga through…Cindy Crawford in the desert?!
retraining your muscles through two somatics exercises she shares
I’ve been diving deep into yoga history by reading. One book I recently read, The Poets of the Powers: Magic, Freedom, and Renewal by Kamil V. Zvelebel, has translations of Tamil Siddha poetry. It’s a thin volume, only 144 pages with footnotes included, so it was a good introduction to this group of yoga practitioners I had only heard of in passing before.
Tamil is one of the languages in South India and refers also to the culture of the people who speak the language. The Tamil Siddha school of thought is a branch of tantric yoga, with a distinct character of social radicalism and an emphasis on magical powers. A distinction of tantric yoga is the belief that liberation is possible in your human body and not just at death, which lead to technique of yoga to ensure a healthy body. The body is the seat of the experience of liberation. If your body was weak, in pain, or unbalanced, how could you experience bliss or become liberated?
What is the sign of absolute and true liberation?
The physical body aglow with the Fire of Immortality.
(Uroma risi nanam 12) p. 58
Even though Zvelebel says that the first Tamil Siddha poet was active between the seventh and eleventh centuries, it would be a mistake to think Tamil Siddhas were only active in medieval India. Zvelebel claims that the Siddha doctrines are still a vital undercurrent in modern-day South India albeit hidden from public view.
Written in an intentionally enigmatic language, where words embody multiple meanings, the Tamil Siddha poems can be mystical or vulgar and direct. For example, Civavakkiyar who was writing immediately before the tenth century wrote (p. 87):
Why, you fool,
do you utter mantras,
murmuring them, whispering,
going around the fixed stone
as if it were God,
putting garlands of flowers around it?
Will the fixed stone speak–
as if the Lord were within?
Will the cooking vessel,
or the wooden ladle,
know the taste of curry?
The misogynist language in some of the Siddha poems really bothered me. All of the poets translated in the book were men, and women, specifically the bodies of women, were temptations for them.
9. Breath deeply, rhythmically, slowly, regularly and relaxedly. Be conscious of the speed and rhythm of your breath.
10. Walk at least two hours daily.
11. Regular and frequent sexual intercourse is beneficial. However, be master, not slave of your sex-life. Oral-genital sex is not harmful; on the contrary, it is often desirable. Visualize yourself as the creative Siva, and your partner as your (i.e. Siva’s) sakti, energy. Let her lie on you, and drink your sperm; let you suck her discharge of pleasure (curatanir).
12. Never give up. Never be idle. Try to maintain always a cheerful and positive attitude. There is no harm in satisfying a desire, when the satisfaction destroys it. Do not suppress forcibly any desire. Liberation is always here and now with you. If you cannot believe in god, it does not matter. Believe in yourself, in your own existence. Find out the source from which you came.