maha life

It's prolly safe to say I am currently obsessed with expansion. The bottle of red wine I joyfully drank last night (alcohol is very expansive) is a lovely example of this.

I had the most intense acupuncture session with Carrie yesterday. I've been having a lot of pain and heat in my lower legs, apparently along my stomach and spleen meridians and caused by excessive dampness in my body. Think hot, wet, heavy - it feels very tight and contracted.

Carrie does her thing, a few of the needles were pretty painful, and then some more of that magical cranio-sacral work. I can feel so much energy moving - it's undeniable that we are pure energy & that this is a completely viable and important healing modality.

I have the distinct feeling towards the end that this body I am trying to heal and clear is simply and profoundly the vehicle for this energy to move through this life. And wouldn't it be nice to finally unite my physical body, my mind and an awareness of this energy with which to live it.

My right kidney is killing me today. I know this might sound insane if you haven't experienced it - but I can't move so well and there is a big red spot on my back; kidney height. As energy moves and clears suddenly other places of holding begin to free themselves up as well. The body is really incredible.

You see, we can't really move on fully into expansion until we clear out the old. Sometimes, oftentimes, it hurts like hell... but I'm okay with that as I know it's part of the process. I'm currently sucking the most exciting things into my life - I believe because of all this (sometimes painful) housekeeping. If finding THE pair of jeans I've been eying in exactly my size laying on top of the rack (waiting for me) yesterday for $20 on sale from $150 isn't a clue, I don't know what is.

We're meant to expand. We're meant to go out and live our own maha (sanskrit for great/big) lives. Lives that we love, created and manifested by ourselves - and to do this we have to be big! And bold and brave and maybe even deal with the pain of clearing our old energies, thoughts, and emotions... in the many forms they present themselves, which can oftentimes be through the non-expanded views of others.

As the session was over, Carrie stayed as I lay there (she normally doesn't) and I had the sense that she was holding space for what had occurred. I began to cry a little, then laugh (it's interesting for me to note here that I've found my joy is always held underneath my sadness). Apparently my "dampness" had been holding some of both...

In EXPANSION,

Maha Alex

P.S. I'm (obviously) kidding about the jeans being so important. Sort of.

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

+ + +

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

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.

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

remedial awakening

So tonight I would like to discuss spirituality and all the hoopla around consciousness and awakening and the like. Because you know what? Although I do believe becoming conscious is where we're going, I feel that some of the messages on how to get there have taken a twisted route. Let me just say, I feel a helluva lotta pressure to meditate. To raise my consciousness, find stillness, and commune with the Universe. And I don't. Not regularly. I can't. And before youz all get "you have to try harder" and "don't say can't" - I offer this:
A few years back, in undergrad, (okay - a LOT of years back) I was in a body movement class. And I was learning about chakras and moving and rolling around on the floor and creating dance pieces about Halloween candy. And I tried so hard, I felt so silly and totally out of water, but I was giving it my all. MY all being the operative here. So naturally I was crushed at the end of the semester when I got a B - the teacher saying something to the effect that I hadn't let myself totally get into it.

6 months ago, when applying to Yoga School, I came up against a similar thing when I was looking at applying to a couple schools that required a handstand practice. At the time - I didn't have one - because I was terrified of them. And I thought - no one knows what injury or trauma, fear or holding that I have in my body that might be preventing me from flipping onto my hands. And how can anyone say that my inability to do it wouldn't make me a good teacher?

Why does some rule or another's perception of where our bodies are hold us back from where we are trying to go - when it's clearly toward opening - RIGHT FROM WHERE WE ARE. Our bodies are so personal and our expression in them so completely individual that in reality one can never really know anyone else's true experience. There are similarities of course, but that isn't the same thing.

And you know what? In the world of physicality - I am in the remedial group. I am. But I'm trying like hell, and maybe even more than most because I know I am so behind. I'm working on letting go of trauma and fear with an almost reckless abandon - but it is still a process.

You see, I think there has become a standard set of rules that have been applied to what gets you and A, into some yoga programs, and makes a serious spiritual practice. And I'm here to call bullshit.

Maybe we could step back to see that some people need a bit of 101 to get to a place where then can do a handstand, swing their hips freely, and sit in a daily meditation. I think someday when I've learned to calm my anxiety through a variety of techniques which I now employ other than tranquilizers, I will happily sit on a cushion.

Until then?

My 5 second handstand practice at the wall rocks the house.

Totally an A.

xx