This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Heidi Mair. Heidi is a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s 200 hour yoga teacher training program. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For most of my life, I have been blessed with health and vitality. I enjoy gardening, cooking, eating healthy foods and an active lifestyle. I began practicing yoga in my teens and continued a regular practice throughout my twenties. In my early thirties, my husband and I bought a 100-year-old house. Much of my free time was spent on renovation projects, gardening, hiking and socializing. I no longer made time in my busy life to practice yoga.
I have had digestive issues including heartburn for as long as I can remember, but I considered it a minor irritation. After 13 years as a vegetarian I began eating meat again. I was busy at work and didn’t have the time to make balanced vegetarian meals. When I hit the big 5-0, the accumulation of a life well-lived began to take its toll. I became more sluggish with achy joints and experienced a bout of sciatica. My heartburn became more frequent and was accompanied by painful, abdominal bloating. I knew it was time to reassess my life and change some of my habits.
I began attending regular yoga classes and soon felt lighter, stronger and more flexible. Around the same time, I attended an Ayurveda workshop and was immediately enthralled by its holistic approach to wellness. Ayurveda is the science of life and is considered the sister science of yoga. Rather than treating symptoms, Ayurveda focuses on each person’s unique constitution (prakriti), nutrition and lifestyle. I researched and found Kerala Ayurveda Academy where I could be certified as a Wellness Counselor in 11 months. Although I was primarily on a path of self-healing, I was also intrigued by the possibility of counseling and teaching.
About 4 months into the program, I made several simple changes and my heartburn went away! I stopped drinking orange juice every morning, cut back on spicy foods and quit drinking wine. Ayurveda teaches us to live according to the seasons and emphasizes the six tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, astringent and pungent. These concepts may sound challenging in our fast-paced and convenience-oriented world, but it can be as simple as waiting for ripe produce rather than eating out of season. And it increases your body awareness. Why didn’t I realize that my love of salsa was related to my heartburn? It is too easy to get out of touch with our own bodies!
Other changes I’ve made include a morning routine (dinacharya): scraping my tongue, using my neti pot, pranayama and yoga. I also discovered trifala, a digestive aid that has really worked for me. I have learned to cook some delicious and healthy meals using ayurvedic spices and nutritional principles. And I try to eat according to the seasons – warming soups in late fall and winter, salads in the spring and early summer and cooling foods including fresh apples in the late summer and early fall. These and other small changes have balanced my energy, reduced my stress and increased my sense of general well-being. I am not super-strict and still love my morning coffee. When I slip into old patterns, I am less judging and more self-aware.
Part of the Wellness Counselor program at Kerala included a regular yoga practice. One of my classmates is a Viniyoga teacher and therapist and she thought I’d enjoy Viniyoga. Through her recommendation, I discovered Whole Life Yoga. After attending a few classes, I knew I had found my yoga home! I was certified at the 200-level in 2010 and have been teaching ever since. My classes are gentle and primarily geared to people over 50. I LOVE teaching and practicing yoga. Lilias Folan wrote a book entitled, Yoga Gets Better with Age and I believe that is true for me. I continue to deepen my practice of both Ayurveda and Viniyoga and look forward to the years ahead of me. There is always more to learn, no matter our stage of life!
Thanks to all of my teachers for helping me learn to age gracefully.
Heidi L. Mair
Some of my writings about Ayurveda and Yoga:
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. The first book in the series, MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and book sellers everywhere!