For 26 years, I administered Ayurvedic panchakarma detox retreats, guiding thousands of patients through the mental and emotional transformation that Ayurveda requires for optimal health and longevity, giving us the capacity to live a content, joyful life with the freedom to love, give, and care for others fully.
To take this knowledge to the next level, I am so excited to introduce my new Yoga Journal course, Ayurveda 201: Six Weeks to Transformation & Bliss through Ayurvedic Psychology. Larissa Hall Carlson (former dean of Kripalu school of Ayurveda) and I will guide you through weekly yoga, breathing, meditation, Ayurveda, and Ayurvedic psychology techniques to shed unwanted patterns of behavior that lie at the root of our mental, emotional, and physical health challenges.
The model I use for the course is an aspect of the Vedas called dhanurveda, or the Veda of Transformation. Dhanur, meaning bow, is a metaphor for the transformation we all can make: pulling back the bow represents a process of enhancing self-awareness—suggesting that the more still the bowstring, the more precise and transformational the flight of the arrow.
This can only be done when the body and mind are healthy, which is why yoga, breathing, meditation, Ayurveda, and Ayurvedic psychology must all be employed. Then, with the bowstring perfectly still (when we are deeply seated in self-awareness), we are guided to take transformational action: we release the arrow. These actions are made through the window of love, compassion, understanding, and nonjudgment: they are you truly doing you, not in reaction to the stressors of your life.
Taking action from this place is called karmic transformation. Karma means action. We must break the pattern of acting in reaction to the changing whims of the environment or the needs of others. We can start acting based on truth, without concern for outcome—it’s a shift from needing to be loved to being the love. Think of the sun, which gives life endlessly, but seems unaffected by the fruits of its actions.
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Two Vedic Roadmaps
In this course, we use two Vedic roadmaps to ensure success. The six-week course is designed to guide you with yoga, breathing, meditation, self-inquiry, and many other Ayurvedic techniques to restore sattva—a sense of deep love, contentment, compassion, and understanding for others.
While we guide you through the more dense tamasic and more stimulating rajasic behaviors in week one, we designate the following weeks to purification of each of the five koshas to help balance mind, body, and subtle energies in order to create self-awareness. With this self-awareness, we can take aim at transformational action steps, yoga, breathing, and meditation techniques we lay out each week.
A Glimpse of Ayurveda 201
- Week One: Determine your emotional mind-body types and identify what areas of your life are more tamasic (dense, depressed, or fearful) or rajasic (addicted to stimulation or reward). Once determined, we can then take aim at these unwanted mental and emotional behaviors and free ourselves from them.
- Week Two: The annamaya kosha, or physical body, is purified by resetting digestion and balancing vata, pitta, and kapha with Ayurveda and yoga. If the body is out of balance, little self-awareness can be established or maintained.
- Week Three: We examine the pranamaya kosha, the energy sheath that connects body and mind. Here, the movement of subtle energy with yoga and breathing is key to move life-force or prana into both body and mind. Only when prana is moving fully into mind and body can we be fully self-aware.
- Week Four: We find ways to purify the manomaya kosha, the mental sheath, which is where we hold in old mental and emotional patterns of behavior.
- Week Five: The vijnanamaya kosha is the discernment sheath, the sheath of transformational action. Here, with the body in balance, the prana moving freely, and the mind no longer attached to its protective emotions, we begin to take transformational action to free ourselves from old patterns of behavior that have taken root as physiological imbalance.
- Week Six: The anandamaya kosha is the bliss sheath. We pull all the tools together and help deepen self-awareness, while making more profound transformational action steps. The goal is to allow the ananda or bliss to feel safe to open the delicate petals of its flower and lets its true nature out into every aspect of the body, mind, and spirit.
This is an incredible journey that I hope you will take with us.