ahhhhhruyveda

I spent the past weekend attending a workshop on Mindful Sexuality and Orgasmic Meditation and my mind is completely consumed with writing this new article for YogaCity. So lame as it may be, I am once again posting an oldie. This was my second article for YogaCity last fall on Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, and it's sorta cute. Enjoy.

Let’s just cut to the chase.I don’t feel good. During any given week at some point I feel foggy, low energy, lazy, anxious and not regular. And it kind of freaks me out. I eat well, I go to yoga about five - six times per week, have been sleeping okay and have made my pursuit of true happiness the most important thing. So what is the deal? I have tried acupuncture, Chinese herbs, probioitics, digestive enzymes, exercise, copious amounts of kombucha, vitamins, teas, massage, cleanses, giving up dairy, meat, alcohol and even sweets. I have tried eating blended raw spinach for breakfast and spent most of last winter giving myself enemas. So why is my health, or lack thereof, still an issue?

I know, of course, the most important thing is working on my mind; anxiety, fear, and insecurity can’t possible lead to healthy body. But it is a catch 22 because how can I quiet the mind when I sorta feel like crap?

I was introduced to Ayurveda at yoga school recently and I decided it was worth a shot (since I am currently without health insurance – maybe even my only hope.) Ayurveda means “science of life” in Sanskrit. It was developed over 5000 years ago in India by the great rishis who organized the basic fundamentals of life into a system that uses five elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether) to describe the composition of all things. The three vital energies, or doshas, are each made up of two of these elements and are what are used to diagnose our constitution. Vatta is air and ether; pitta is fire and water; and kapha, water and earth.

A quick search lists a few places that offer Ayurvedic consultations and healing treatments. I found my way to Bioticare in midtown because I’m impressed that the practitioners Dr. Naina Marballi and Ms. Amita Banerjee have been practicing for 32 and 28 years respectively and was excited by the idea of having this information passed to me from someone trained in India.

I sit down in Amita’s office and she begins by drawing two parallel lines, explaining that these are the two paths that we are following in our lives. The Spiritual one is always connected to and leading back to the Divine, and the other - our Wooly one - represents our ambitions, dreams, achievements, homes, careers, and relationships etc. In order to travel these paths we are given a body, mind and spirit as vehicle. The purpose of Ayurveda is to balance these so that we are working at our optimum as we move along the road to one-day join again with the Divine.

Amita then asks me a series of questions to diagnose my dosha and pinpoint my vikruti or the way in which I go out of balance. I tell her about my health, my parents health, my divorce (at which point I burst into tears), my erratic sleep, my current relationship, my living situation, my diet, my exercise, my work. She looks in my eyes, at my tongue, and checks my pulse.

I would have bet money that I was vatta. Made up of air and ether, vatta is changeable, scattered, moving, insecure and anxious. I am shocked by my constitution - I am pitta-kapha which means that I am mostly fire and water, with some earth. My pitta nature makes me ambitious, transformative, passionate, and perceptive. The kapha part manifests in my need for grounding and strongly bonded relationships.

So it turns out my dosha is pitta-kapha, with a HUGE vatta imbalance. And it hits me then that I have been living for years completely out of balance. I used to be ambitious and productive and competitive (pitta), but the older I have gotten the more it seems I have been wandering aimlessly moving about once a year and learning how to be more easy going and flexible. Which is great in a way, but not if it means completely living out of alignment with your true nature. I suspect the cause of this may be twofold – keeping depression and boredom at bay, and my image that being “vatta” is much “cooler”. I think at some point I decided that artists are really much more free, mutable, creative, open (overall more vatta) than I was. It is almost as if I willed my way into a vattic lifestyle – leading of course to poor health and an overall dissatisfaction in my wooly life.

She gives me a plan for a 7 day detox that consists of ginger and detox tea and kitcheri, a one pot dish of vegetables, grain, and spices that you blend so it’s easily digested. On the seventh day you return for marma abhyanga, a 90-minute massage that works on 107 vital pressure points and helps to complete the detoxing. I am also to implement some dietary guidelines that she gives me for pitta constitution such as staying away from hot spicy dishes as well as greasy and fatty foods. What I love immediately about Ayurveda is that it gives me the tools to change things myself. I don’t have to take a bunch of weird things, I don’t have to go back once a week, and I don’t have to invest a ton of money.

Even though we may share some characteristics in a particular dosha, each person’s constitution is as unique as a fingerprint. Similar to a yoga practice, Ayurveda requires us to each become our own teacher by paying more attention to ourselves. And not in a self centered way. The whole purpose of figuring out who and what you are is so that you can stop thinking about it and commit more fully to taking your vehicle down your two paths.

I asked Amita what each of the doshas can do as we move through vatta season (fall to early winter) coming into kapha season. She says all the doshas need to not bring more cold into the body by eating too much raw or cold food. We need to lessen our activity but exercise daily for warmth (she suggests dancing), and eat often and yet not too much. Pittas who are naturally warm, must not brave the cold without enough layers therefore exposing themselves to sickness. Kaphas, who become more lethargic during the colder months, need to be sure to get some activity every day to not become slower. Vattas who are usually cold need to take care to stay extra warm.

I am excited by all this new information, but also a bit overwhelmed. It does make a lot of sense, but it can be confusing as well. For instance a buildup of ama or toxins in the body can made all constitutions feel dull, foggy and constipated, as they aren’t receiving the nutrients from their food. Usually connected to increased vatta (the colon is the seat of vatta) constipation can also occur from an imbalance in pitta because it causes dry stool, and kapha because it creates mucus in the intestines. It isn’t the overnight solution that I am of course desperate for but I really like Ayurveda’s simplicity and alignment with what is natural. I commit myself to giving it try.

It wasn’t until later that I realized I had misunderstood Amita. In describing our two parallel paths, she had actually said worldly, not wooly – which makes more sense. Or does it? Because the truth is, my worldly path has felt pretty wooly at best sometimes, and I am sure I am not alone. I think this is the very thing we are all looking for - whether we know it yet or not: tools to bring us into balance so that we can remove some of the wool. Ayurveda allows us to pull it from our own eyes.

epilogue

I found something very interesting today that I wanted to share with everyone. 2 falls ago, I came back from Europe extremely unwell, due to many emotional and physical factors, one of which was my addiction to xanax or klonapin to sleep. I dropped out of Grad school, and entitled that fall "The Fall of Healing" - one of my main goals was to kick that tranquilizers for good. And I did. It was one completely sleepless week and a lot of physical pain, but I haven't taken one in over 1.5 years now. I have since been out of my tree anxious at times... but somehow struggle through it.

Today I woke up so calm, and have remained so all day, it is as if I am on xanax. Or had a cocktail. I am astounded by how calm and peaceful I am, and a bit worried that I might go out and buy some patchouli.

In Macrobiotics they call this expansion or yin, when we eat foods that expand us it makes us feel spacey and far out and coooool. I have never experienced the power of food in this way, but believe me, it is real.

I found it interesting that the quest I started that fall has led me back to the same feeling, in a totally different way. We have so much power by choosing what we put in our mouth it is astounding.

Much love an gratitude to: Cyndie Suarez www.lytnyt.com, Carrie Cegelis www.radical-wellness.com, and www.BluePrintCleanse.com

Love peace and (maybe not) chicken grease

xx

that's all folks

I FUCKING MADE IT!! Maybe not the most appropriate opening sentence...
Or is it?

Yes my friends, I am officially done guzzling juice and nothing but juice for 5 days. It has been one helluva ride I must say. I feel like I have put myself through some sort of rehab as I look forward and realize that tomorrow is really the first day. Going on this cleanse has been such an internal journey that I recognize that I have really been through something - it actually isn't unlike the 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat I did coincidentally the same time last year. Coming out the other side of challenges like these makes me feel proud and capable and maybe even a little bit more confident.

I feel pretty clear as well that my time cleansing is done for now. I was hungrier today than I've been all week, and my ability to survive in a concrete jungle this expanded is wearing thin. I can smell everything (not usually what one aspires to do in NYC) and I feel like I could burst into tears a bit too easily. That being said, I am also nervous to begin eating again. I plan a slow transition that will include more greens and less of the things that don't really make me feel great. I was shocked when I realized that I haven't craved coffee or sugar AT ALL.

It's a dance. An ever evolving, shifting, changing dialogue with ourselves and our bodies. One of the points of my doing this was to be able to hear the subtle (and sometimes not so) pleas that I have often ignored. Knowing I have lived for 5 days without food makes me feel like there might be a lot of other things I can do that I might not know about.

It's a celebration for sure.

I want to thank all of you for stopping by, for your well-wishing, inquiries, and support. It's been a sweet ride.

Dreaming of avocados
xxx

+ + +

Gotta say, today went off without a hitch. I had some extra trouble spelling while writing an article this morning, and was a bit tired after rehearsal this afternoon, but that was about it. Oddly enough I've noticed some pain & sensitivity in places where I have had injuries before, namely my appendix (or lack there of), my inguinal hernia (which I still need to get fixed :P) and my right front tooth which I bashed when I was about four years old. Weird. Last night I awoke again at 3:30 am, and was pretty achy. Laid there for hours, until finally I got up to take an epsom salt & peroxide bath at about 7am. But while lying there for 3.5 hours, I thought about this:
We all just want to be happy. Find joy, freedom, love, a purpose etc etc etc. If these positive feelings and emotions vibrate at a higher frequency, then by clearing out old stuff and replacing it with higher vibrating substances (plant based foods) we are literally changing the frequency at which we vibrate. Now I realize that we can also do this by thinking more positive thoughts, which most likely has an even more profound effect - but my point is, there is more than one way to skin a cat (I don't really ever ever care to skin anything). And if we are having a hard time changing our thinking, maybe working from another direction, the body, can help us move in the overall direction of happiness.

Food for thought.

Ciao amici
xx

the rain is gone

Hump day behind me, I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Today wasn't too bad juice-wise, but my mid-cleanse colonic was rather intense. Juicing acts as a scrubbing brush and soap in the colon. I hear it has to do with the high vibrational energy of fresh raw foods that pull out toxins and clear waste. I found out today first-hand about those gas pockets or walls that trap matter behind them. And when a great therapist can help release them, you can feel it moving. I was pretty nauseous afterwards to be honest. Cyndie says that by cleansing we actually make the environments in our bodies completely different. I love this.
I also today discovered why I have such a difficult time accepting criticism. There is this belief that if I don't do things perfectly that it is all over; I'm dumped, fired, ruined and totally screwed for the trajectory in which I wish my life to go. Leaving such little room for error makes it very difficult for me to keep the desire to go forward and try new things. Mistakes are human and, of course, inevitable - and I'm willing to bet all really smart, successful, creative, interesting people fuck up too.

I would like to think that 3 days of fasting helped me to see this so clearly. Today there was much clarity.

I'm tired so will keep this short; I have been waking up at 3 and sweating. FUN!

It was like 107 degrees in NYC today... the trees in Prospect Park are in bloom and the air is full of possibility.

Sleep well
xx

day of the drill

The newness of day one behind me, day two was much more difficult. I was hungrier today - it didn't last long but was certainly more intense. I was up early and had a bunch of energy to do some cleaning and yoga in preparation to teach my spring detox themed class in the afternoon. A class in which I think at one point I said "put your elbow behind your wrist" - my ability to find parts of basic anatomy was lost, let alone my sanskrit. In the spirit of swaha (sanskrit for 'so be it', or as I like to say, whateves) I blamed the green juice and laughed it off. I think everyone still got a good workout and had fun.
By the time I made it to rehearsal, my headache was pretty intense and I was fairly loopy. The director and lead actor were so amused by my energetic outbursts, at one point Jim said "What else did you do today Alex" to keep me talking.

"I hung curtains!"

It's true. Every self-respecting single woman in the middle of personal transformation should grab a drill and hang something.

Anyway, the intense headache has dissipated (I did have to lay down for awhile though) and I am alright, if a little slow. The most exciting thing is that my skin looks awesome and I am not bloated for the first time in what feels like years.

I would like to attempt to speak here about something that I know very little about - carbonic gas pressure building up in our bodies. And I mean in every cell, not just the colon. I have been told this theory by 2 separate hydrotherapists, about how much gases effect the body. One even saying that the gas pressure can change the shape of our skull (the blown up look) and acts as a wall in the intestines which absolutely blocks anything from moving through. Apparently that is what happens to us as we age and continue to eat foods that don't digest fully and ferment, drink a lot of beer and other carbonation (kombucha included), and maybe is also the byproduct of other cellular activity which isn't able to leave the system. If you take a look at some middle aged men that look like they are going to explode, you'll know what I am talking about.

Take it for what you will, like I said I am not all that educated about it, but it's something to think about - feeling bloated just plain sucks.

Alrightly then. Sleep well y'all. Tomorrow is hump day!
xx

awake and sing

Ah yes, the moment we've all been waiting for... end of day one!

I must say it has been rather fascinating and surprising too. Green juice, is well, very green. It tastes not so different from some natural cleansers. Not that I taste those. But if I did, I imagine it would be similar. It seems clean is what I am trying to say.

Bear with me I think I am a bit slap-happy.

Funny how much more time we have when we aren't having to figure out what to eat! It also amazes me how little food we actually do need. I have had what seemed to be hunger pangs about 3 times, and they lasted for about 4 seconds.

I've alternated from being very cold (cold juice not helping this) to very hot, almost fevery.

I've also alternated from being very positive to feeling downright despondent, close to tears. At one point, whilst watching a frisbee game, I was so overwhelmed by how alone I felt, how much I envied one friends beautiful yoga practice, and another's gorgeous legs I actually did shed a few.

After work I was so down I came home and went straight to Prospect Park and walked and thought about how cleansing is really about personal responsibility. Responsibility for all the stuff you have eaten & done to your body, and also for all of the stuff that you are thinking and doing on rote that is keeping you miserable. Because it all comes up with nowhere to hide.

I reminded myself of an ol' story of myself. Back in, well when I was 19 - I had an internship here in NYC with a casting director. She was auditioning understudies for a Broadway musical and asked if I sang as I was the same height and look of one of the actresses.
"Not very well" I replied.

And the point isn't whether I did I didn't or do or don't - but that I undercut myself before even trying. It's safer... it's easier... and I think it is also what keeps me playing at a sub-whereAlexandrawantstobe level in my life. And envious of yoga practices and legs and people playing frisbee with friends. Because I don't think any of these things would matter if I was, well, really living.

I was so relaxed after that walk I though about circling it for the rest of the summer.
Happy Easter Monday my friends. Thank you for reading and for all of your well-wishing.

Alex

P.S. if anyone knows how in the hell it is possible for one's teeth to feel fuzzy when not eating - please let me know.

rising from the dead

Things are starting to shake up here! Last night I woke up with a mild headache behind my right eye - I have no idea if it is related but I know that the liver meridian ends behind the eyes - the liver obviously being our major detoxing organ. Made a green smoothie for breakie (spinach, banana, frozen mixed berries) they are actually really good. More fruit for lunch... mildly lightheaded today & feel low grade fever perhaps.

Went and had the first of 3 colonics that I have scheduled for the cleanse with Cyndie Suarez at LYT. (www.lytnyc.com) Now colonics aren't my absolute favorite pass time (surprising I know), but she was super cool and gave me tons of new information. I am grateful to have support over there to work with through this. She offered that I might experience some headaches as I detox the ol' stuff out. Sweet.

Picked up my HUGE box of 18 juices for the next 3 days. They're very green.

veg for dinner...

I'd love some chocolate. Or a sandwich. Perhaps a chocolate sandwich.

I do think it is rather poetic to be doing this around Easter. And not because I want chocolate eggs.

Peace & Peeps

A

it takes a village

It's a gorgeous Saturday. Afternoon. I'm still in my pajamas complete with bunny slippers. Yesterday I went to see Carrie Cegelis (www.radical-wellness.com), an acupuncturist, massage therapist and basically magical healer. She knows a lot about cleansing and I though it would be smart to see her a few times around this whole thing. She did acupuncture to help my body prepare for cleansing, and also some cranio-sacral massage - which was this awesome energy work that works with the fluids and ancient rhythms of the body so that it can heal. She really is awesome.
The closer I get the more I realize that this is actually some serious shit. (NPI)

In preparation for the cleansing, you have to give up coffee, sugar, alcohol, animal products, milk and start a "bulking diet" which consists of fruit and veg. And I am already starting to crack. You see food is a coping mechanism... even if I am coping with organic dark chocolate, and oatmeal - taking it all away has left me feeling like a raw nerve.

During detox all of the crap loosens off of our intestines, and we go through feeling bad until it moves. This is apparently what cravings actually are - your body's desperate plea to have more of the good stuff so that everything stays in place and we don't feel bad. Craving bread or coffee or meat is therefore the same as craving a cigarette. The only foods that pass through us without adding any toxins are fruits and veg.

My roommate/boyfriend moved out & a great friend moved to Portland yesterday - but the unbearable loneliness I feel is due to something much deeper. I am terrified to find out, but the desire to move past it has surpassed the terror. Or so I am hoping. Where the emotional toxins stored in my gut end and the putrefied food begins, I don't know - and I don't even think it matters. I have a hypothesis that I can't clear out my body physically without also clearing out my mind, energetic body, spirit etc.

Anyway, I have to get out of the house. I will most likely be posting daily for a bit - they won't all be perky I am guessing, but if anyone out there is interested - I'll be here.

Happy Easter Weekend

xx

hello, goodbye

It's time for some spring cleaning. There is LOTS of change happening - positive - health care passed, I've been cast in a really great and exciting pilot www.PioneerOne.tv, and it's beautiful here in Brooklyn.

There is also some letting go - my membership at Yoga High has expired, I've decided to put my yoga teaching career on hold to (once again) pursue acting, and my dear friend (read: ex-boyfriend) and roommate is moving out.

I'm thinking about getting a cat. To keep the loneliness at bay.

To help the process of moving on, mentally and physically, and hopefully finally heal some of the crazy digestive things I have been dealing with over the past couple years, I am doing a 5 day green juice fast. I'm terrified. And thrilled. At the same time.

My most recent theme seems to be that nothing is black and white. Health care isn't perfect, sometimes you have to give up one love to pursue another, you will miss dearly the people you can't live with, and saving a cat is selfish.

Sometimes you have to to through some shit (or quite literally get rid of it) to feel better and get to the other side.

I'll keep you posted here on the spring cleaning, I am sure I'll be crawling the walls around day two.

10 days to go!

Meow

the freedom sandwich

And then sometimes - the non-nightshade eating, refined carb-o-phobe vegan NEEDS a turkey sandwich. With cheese. And sun-dried tomatoes. On a bagel. With a coke. I had such an attack the other night - and have been out of control since.
It. Feels. Awesome.

I have dedicated so much time to health and healing and learning and cleansing and yoga and eating greens and brown rice and juicing and I finally hit the proverbial wall. My health has passed the point of balance and is sweeping into the territory of doing what is "good" and "correct" and "perfect" - which inevitably for me is also followed by extreme guilt, anxiety and panic.

This is not to say that I don't believe in eating a mostly vegetarian, organic, whole foods based diet. Aside from the fact that I personally feel better eating clean beautiful food, there is too much evidence out there which points to the fact that our Standard American Diet is making us sick. If you haven't read Fast Food Nation, The China Study, Food and Healing, or seen Food Inc., check them out. The point here is not meat vs. vegan, processed vs. whole or even Secret vs. baking soda - let's be clear.

The point here, is freedom.

The first thing that came into my mind during my turkey sandwich extravaganza (OK, maybe second as the first was mostly just "HELL YES") was something I read in Food and Healing by Annemaire Colbin. On page 33, she describes 7 universal laws of how things work. Here are 3:

Everything changes: Nothing remains the static. Energy moves constantly, within and among systems. Thus, the diet that heals us must change as we change.

Everything has an opposite: Everything has a front and a back. Opposites are complementary, connected like two ends of a stick or two sides of a coin, and separated by degrees. Opposites may change into one another, and often do, either gradually or suddenly.

Energy moves in a pendulum swing, between opposites: All motion is the result of expansion and contraction, to and fro, in rhythmic alternation. When the swing arrives at its extreme position, it reverses direction and heads the opposite way. Day turns into night, winter into summer, the in-breath into the out-breath.

So I feel that A) I can't be surprised after months of kale that I would find myself in a almost desperate state for turkey, B) the key to any real health, healing or balance is to learn to listen to what it is we really need - it's a constantly changing ever-evolving living and breathing dance, and C) the most important thing is my right to exercise the freedom to choose for myself, and only for myself, what is right for me at any given time. Not because Macrobiotics say I shouldn't eat spinach, the colonic guy says I should drink juice for breakfast, or my dear father thinks I'm an idiot cause I don't eat steak.

We can only find real balance in the freedom, and there is soooo much freedom in balance.

Off in search of rainbow sprinkles...

xxx

smell ya later

So I got some disturbing news last week. A few years back, I stopped using antiperspirant in order to stop putting heavy metals into my body. Our pits being chock-full of lymph nodes and very near the possible dumping ground of breast tissue - I am not interested in taking the chance that a daily dose of aluminum won't add up to some serious health problems in the future. Blocking our sweat glands also doesn't allow our bodies to get rid of toxins inside, so the damage is really twofold.

And to be honest, I've enough trouble making sure I'm outta bed before 10am some mornings and gettin' off the coffee-sauce to need to worry about my deodorant.

I've tried most every natural deodorant out there, but was very excited last fall to finally be introduced to.... the Crystal! Long lasting, naturally occurring, endorsed by the Environmental Working Group and Cancer Treatment Centers all over the country... what more could I ask for!

Until I learned last week from my new favorite website www.Mercola.com (and double checked with my Green Guru Lisa Hish) that the crystal is actually not safe, and simply another form of aluminum. The thought is that the particles are too large to pass through our pores therefore making it harmless. Seriously?

But it's natural! Yes, as are arsenic and lead and I don't really care to rub them under my arms either.

This, my friends, is another example that we can't necessarily count on the FDA, EWG, or USA to tell us all the information needed to make the best choices for our health.

I took a special trip to the store to search for a deodorant that didn't contain aluminum, propylene glycol, or parabens, and even in the natural section there were only about 3 choices left. Of all the ones I have seen and tried, Weleda is by far the best (my favorite is the rose.) It is a bit pricey, but the bottle lasts for many months and smells beautiful. Not to say that I do after many hours or a vigorous vinyasa, but I still prefer this to the alternative. Dr. Mercola suggests baking soda and water, and that has actually worked great so far, and is even cheaper than Lady Speed Stick.

so please please please give this a thought - we really can't ignore all the info anymore. Check out this article and as always, keep me posted with questions and your thoughts.

In smelly solidarity,

Alex