How the Vedi*Vaahan  or Portable Sacred Charm Came to Be

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How the Vedi*Vaahan or Portable Sacred Charm Came to Be

Helena shares the beginning and conceptualization behind these sweet mini murti's known as VediVaahans.

Vedi translates as Altar and Vaahan is a Vehicle

Discover the how and why of this sacred portable charm to bring awareness within and cultivate the inner gaze toward the horizon of your dreams.

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Ginger Turmeric Tea ~ Ancient Elixer of Longevity

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Ginger Turmeric Tea ~ Ancient Elixer of Longevity

Helena’s Ginger-Turmeric Tea

Are you feeling the winds of change, the impeding darkness and blustery chill of late fall?  Here’s a great option if you are a tea lover and want a healthy alternative as a supplemental drink and wonderful way to absorb the healing advantages of this delicious concoction.

This tea is a staple in my house during fall and winter. Warm, soothing drinks are recommended at this time of year. Herbs and warm drinks are nurturing, soothing and recommended for the darker time of year. This hot, golden to orange remedy will bring sunshine to your eyes and body as you sip it in anticipation of its ancient medicinal properties.

According to Ayurveda, ginger-turmeric tea is healing, tri-doshic and very grounding.  That means it has beneficial properties for anyone who takes a sip! Just one cup per day is a great way to receive the full benefits of this medicinal elixir. Also, tea-time is beneficial as a relaxation mOMent and a quiet time to honor your body.

Taste (or rasa) is a way for your palate to welcome this intoxicating and earthly tonic into your system. Over time your skin will glow from the color of the turmeric; a natural skin brightener.  Plus, orange fingers you might get from handling this root are a conversation opener wherever you go! 

Turmeric is at the cornerstone of traditional Indian medicine and everyday diet. Turmeric has been revered for its’ health and culinary properties for centuries.  It’s a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial.  It supports digestion, improves mood and has even been touted to support brain and memory function.

Ginger is an Ayurvedic and Chinese herb.  Long ago ginger root was thought to aid food poisoning, nausea, and menstrual cramps. Today, we know that it also helps with circulation of bile and the breakdown of proteins, and can decrease cholesterol with its anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it a perfect after-meal treat when sipped slowly.

The constituents of this tea are known to help with cardiovascular function, immune function, respiratory function and reduces nausea associated with pregnancy

Now, let’s get to the good stuff.  The recipe for this yummy immune booster is below!

Turmeric-Ginger Tea Recipe

Ingredients

· 2 index finger-length pieces (fingerlings) fresh turmeric*  (peeled & chopped)

· 2 fat fingerlings fresh ginger (peeled and chopped)

· ½ tsp. coconut oil

· dash of black pepper or pippali to taste

· 32 oz water

Optional squeeze of lemon or honey if desired but not needed.

 

Makes 4 cups

*Fresh turmeric may be difficult to come across but can often be found in Indian herbal stores in the refrigerated section.  I buy in bulk during the cooler months as it keeps well in your veggie-drawer.  (If fresh is unavailable, use 1T powdered turmeric which you will need to whisk thoroughly into the mix.) I suggest you locate fresh turmeric - the most delicious and holistic way to make this easy concoction and well worth the effort.

Use the back of a large spoon to peel and then roughly chop the roots into smaller pieces, add chopped turmeric and ginger in your pot with the water, simmer for 10 minutes.  

 

Add a ½ tsp or more of coconut oil to sweeten and assist as a carrier for curcumin with black pepper to your liking to help absorb the nutritional benefits of this tea.

Strain this golden elixir into your favorite mug.  Add lemon or honey if desired

Gingerly sip and let the ingredients percolate and permeate your body’s ecosystem!

Enjoy!

~With Illumination and Love~

Helena

*When I am unable to make this tea – my favorite to-go drink is a Prana Shot from Tumeric Alive, a versatile, portable and functional beverage to pack on an airplane or bring in the car.  When the weather is warmer I keep it in my refrigerator for a post yoga boost or a little lift anytime during the day.  It’s perfect to add into juices or green drinks. Mostly I drink it au natural as it comes in many flavors- (my fav. Is the pineapple!)  (Tumeric Alive.com)

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Vyana - and the Vayus or Currents of the Body

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Vyana - and the Vayus or Currents of the Body

The 5 Vayus and Vyana...

In case you wondered about the meaning of Vyana; here is a blurb on the Vayus and where Vyana emanates from.

According to ancient yoga tradition there are 5 major currents of our vital life force that run through the body in different directions and orchestrate physiological functioning.

This is known as the Pancha Vayu Model. Vyana is the 5th Vayu or current.

The 5 Vayus have a part to play to maintain homeostasis and balance. Each current in the physical body have an opposing direction that work separately with their own functions and together.

On a day-to-day basis we take in air, food, water, information and experiences which we then process in some form or another. We absorb and assimilate the nutrients of air, food or knowledge from this processing. We distribute and retain what is needed. We reconstitute and assimilate. We then eliminate what we don’t need. Over a lifetime we learn and grow mentally and physically. These are simple examples of the vayus of prana at work.

Any physiological issue that is experienced, can be understood in terms of vayu function whether it is

inhaling (prana), speaking (udana), digesting our food (samana), taking a poo (apana), or having cold hands and feet (vyana)

 

1)  Prana Vayu is responsible for INTAKE and is the Inhalation.

Its direction is Inward and Down.

This current resides primarily in the head, lungs and heart.

Prana vayu provides our most basic energy of vitality: the breath of life.

2) Udana Vayu is responsible for growth and is the Exhalation.

Udana’s current is upward from the diaphragm and throat then out through the head.

It governs our ability to stand, speak, grow, it is also effort, will and enthusiasm.

3)  Apana Vayu is responsible for elimination, reproduction and bone health.

Its current is the gravitational movement of down and out and also of retaining.

Apana is located in the lower abdomen and base of the torso (genitourinary system).

Exhalation is the grounding force of Apana; the opposing and complementary current is prana vayu.

4)  Samana Vayu is centered around the navel and its primary purpose is processing things such as food and is associated with our gut instinct.

Its movement is linear as it churns in toward the solar plexus and core.

Samana vayu is the mid-breath and situated between the other vayus..

This current regulates our digestive fire (agni) and is associated with processes of digestion(mind, food), absorption and assimilation

Samana is the drawing in of energy and works together with expansive Vyana vayu.

5)  Vyana Vayu moves outward in an expansive circular motion.

It is responsible for the distribution and circulation of all substances in our body.

Vyana is considered the “through breath”.

The pulsating motion of vyana extends from the heart and lungs to the limbs as it nourishes the body and assists in muscular movement.  

Vyana allows clear passage for the movement of prana through the nadis/energetic channels and is considered the vayu that facilitates and empowers the other vayus.
 

NOTE: ( little p-prana is the vayu, capital P-Prana is the Vital Life Force/Vital Energy;  if prana is used without vayu it is the Vital Life Force)
I use “current” since the body is an energetic entity, the direct translation of Vayu is direction or movement.

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LEAP YEAR 2016

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LEAP YEAR 2016

 

 

This year's leap year was an extra day for most of us but for me it was the difference between life and death and a day that will always leap into my mind and heart.

My eldest son started a new job so I  was in charge of his little red haired morkie. Jax is an adorable 5# puppy and my little pup- Lily’s best friend.

After teaching a beautiful morning yoga class I decided to take these eager puppies out for a walk whenever the weather is nice enough to take them out.

We have a pond next to our home and I sometimes take them around it to do a loop without leases since they stay close to me. When we approached the pond the dogs saw 12 geese and ran to the pond's edge to investigate; but stopped dead in their tracts at the cold water's edge. I laughed because then I knew they knew how cold it was and would stay away.  There was a large pancake like block of ice floating in the middle of the pond. I was delighted to see this since it meant that winter was thawing out.

We ran around on the large lawn playing while ignoring the loud geese and tried to avoid the mini mountains of poo everywhere.

I suddenly heard a ruckus and looked up to see that Jax just hauled off on the floating ice deck charging toward the middle of the pond. He somehow jumped at least a foot onto the floating ice to chase them. I was screaming for him to stop while running toward the shore.  He ran all the way past the ice and torpedoed in the water on the opposite side.

OH NO!!!

All I could see were his front two paws and head as I was removing my coat and boots. It was so damn cold and he wouldn't last long. I will never forget the look on his face as he kept trying to get back on the ice to safety.

No time to think- or basically I thought a million things in 5 seconds as I raced barefoot into the freezing water; it's a graduated mucky pond you can walk into but after a few feet it drops off drastically. He was 2/3 across the pond but no time to go around so i was in the water with adrenaline and sheer determination.

I had to break through the ice to get to him. He was getting tired and frantic- then he saw me coming as he went under. Oh my heart.  I grabbed him and threw him back on the ice so I could swim back to shore...  he jumped off back to me and then I put him on the ice so I could get back to safety faster.  After the third time we both made it out.

He was shivering heavily. I was forcefully inhaling and exhaling to release the cold numb fear.

My feet and hands were numb but I held him to my heart with my coat over him carrying him back to the house with little Lily leading the way.  I went directly into the steam shower and slowly thawed ourselves out. Finally he was warm and stopped shivering.

He is fine and a happy puppy again without a care in the world!

 I- on the other hand am traumatized. I remembered a day long ago when I almost basically drowned at five years old and was resuscitated... this event was a potent trigger and it came back to me in a flood of tears. How interesting that these long lost and hidden memories come back with traumatic events. I don't speak of it often, but now you know that I have always had a deep love, respect and fear of the water. I’m a Pisces and yet it’s true… I do not float but I sink. I never ever thought i could save myself let alone someone else from long ago.

The good news is I saved him… and in the process I saved myself even in the fear of death and those long lost fears.

A past-life karmic debt was paid on leap year.

As I was racing in the pond my thoughts were-  I can't let my sons pup die on my watch and if I'm going to die saving him that's what's going to happen.

I was not much good for anything for the rest of the day other than feeling extremely blessed and grateful that we are all alive and well.

I felt as if I had leapt years back to a childhood memory long ago that shockingly resurfaced after all was said and done... I faced that dreadful fear and in the process I had overcome.

I have discovered self-realization and courage in my yoga practice and teachings. The lessons on the mat are a reflection of living life in union of body, mind and spirit. Yoga has provided me with the determination and tools to be present no matter what happens in life. To be present when needed and have a disciplined focus is yoga's gift of perseverance and equanimity. The courage to do what is right and just is the process of living from the heart. I took a leap of faith in frigid murky waters to save this sweet little life.

I'm ever so thankful to be fully ALIVE.

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~Mantra in Motion~Mudra in Devotion~

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~Mantra in Motion~Mudra in Devotion~

The SYMBOLIZATION of Mantra and Mudra

Mantra MatMudra® Symbolization

 

The meaning behind our Mantra MatMudra® and how to use the one of choice for your yoga practice or sadhana.

Mudra is a term or Hindu word with many meanings. It can be used to signify a gesture, a mystical position of the hands, a seal, and even a symbol. The term mudra by definition is simply “symbolic gesture” or as a symbol or action or gesture.

Mudra symbolically seals or “stamps” the mark of a divine god or goddess on the practitioner like a signet ring stamps an impression in soft pliable wax signaling complete devotion and self surrender.

Practice... and all is coming.

I enter the room and find my spot on the wooden floor ready to let go of the outside world and delve into yoga - MY yoga; the blissful state ofbreathing meditation within sacred movement. As I unroll my mat I catch a glimpse of this Dedication or Mantra at the top of my magical carpet. This is a mantra to resonate within this practice for the soul of my meditative flow . I stand here ready to practice in this very sacred space and place.

Mantra and Mudra.

Mudra is a symbol of who you are and who I am. But do we know in our hectic lives who we are when we bustle about? Only when I quiet my mind and clear the slate do I get a glimpse of"Who am I' "Who I am". I am in this moment and potent process of becoming. This incredible journey is in the here and now.

As I set the foundation of my sadhana I feel a deep connection with Mother Earth and her qualities. She represents the grounding stability and nurturing resource of nature in all its glory. As i consciously place my hands on my mat in Hasta Bandha and my feet root down through Pada Bandha. I feel a direct vibrational link coursing through my body with the qualities of the earth element. I am home on my mat harmonizing and syncopating within each movement, throughout each pose and within the inhalation and exhalation of the inflow and outflow of breath. Giving and Receiving.

My body is a reflection of a profound dedication to this life force as it transitions in a series of Mudra's within each Vinyasa.  Communicating with myself and nature in its purest form of a bodily prayer.

Symbolization links Atman (the true self) with all of consciousness. The physical, emotional and spiritual practice of Yoga is the the union of a deep cosmic awareness void of time and space; its a divine place or Realm between heaven and earth. There exists a manifest glimpse of the divine within each and every breath and movement of supreme consciousness.

Pranayama is the first entity in yoga as the air element with the surrender of our breath to communicate within ourselves and go within the practice.

The entire practice of yoga from dedication to pranayama, asana and repose is a salutation to the divine within.  From the purest joy within our being is a dedication to the practice and to a higher realm.  Asana(poses)- become a movement in meditation. Within each movement is a particular way to place the body initiated and culminated by breath through awareness, observation and dedication formulating a body mudra or symbol of divine love.

Mudra (mud) joy and (ra) to give- a seal, stamp or hand pose

Mudra's are called energetic seals because they seal – mudranat- the energy of the universe in the body, leading to a higher state of consciousness.

Mudra's are one method to hold prana in the body in a beneficial way of healing, cleansing and activating spiritual and physical release. They are used as rituals, offerings, salutations and a means of meditation

Mudra's express feelings and convey meanings such as clarity, knowledge, courage and more. You can offer a mudra to a god or goddess, nature god, guru, teacher, friend, and stranger…..

Contemplate and observe the offering of mantra from the Mantra MatMudra® as a symbol of a unique reflection and mirror of the higher self. Our practice is about conveying an esteemed dedication and practice to the universe, we are connected to all of life and each other.

Mantra MatMudra: address the given joy that illuminates from your mat to the universe. OM Shanti.

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ARTHRITIS  <Ayurveda and Modern Medicine     (#1/3 part series)

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ARTHRITIS

Arthritis

Arthritis is a medical term used to describe more than 100 dis-eases with one common factor: inflammation of the joints.

Arthritis can cause joint pain worsening during the day with or without swelling, redness, and hotness. It can lead to limited range of motion ROM with stiffness (especially after rest or inactivity), atrophy (muscle loss), leading to weakness, depression, and lack of motivation with exercise further exacerbating the degenerative process.

As we age, wear and tear can contribute to deterioration of the soft tissues (joint fluids, tendons, and cartilage) that protect and cover the joints. Water begins to build within the cartilage and the protein inside degenerates leading to loss of lubrication and bone on bone contact, which is often quite painful.

In the journey of a lifetime exercise can be a healing modality or a pathway to degenerative changes.

This degenerative disease is brought on by the wear and tear of life, inflammation, repetitive stress and ones very own constitution. Deterioration can be attributed to pressure and gravity on the joints from obesity, heredity, repetitive stress and ones constitution.

Yoga has been a “Joint Friendly” benefactor of arthritis with attention to strengthening the joints, observing and releasing tension patterns, minimizing atrophy (muscle wasting d/t pain and inertia), reducing stiffness, assisting balance, and regulating levels of uric acid (gout), reducing obesity, while bringing overall general attention to health and well-being with the art of attention and loving kindness or self love.

Yoga is a non-impact form of exercise with a Big Impact on maintaining joint mobility; relieve pain and stiffness, and decreases cortisol, cholesterol, and uric acid.  It is effective for preventing atrophy and promoting beneficial resilient muscle while regulating body mass and weight.  Yoga is known to be a mood enhancer and relieve stress through breath-work, physical poses and meditation. People look and feel younger when they develop a regular pranayama and hatha yoga practice.  Each attentive inhale and exhale creates support and structure that allows one to move (within the movement) with the purposeful breath during yoga and eventually daily activities.

The common types of arthritis are Osteoarthritis (most common), Rheumatoid Arthritis, Gout, and Fibromyalgia.

Osteoarthritis - Degenerative Arthritis is among the more common diseases worldwide affecting %40 of Americans from 45-64 and a whopping %60 age 65 and older. 80% of women in the USA are much more prone to osteoarthritis which commonly affects the knees, hips, hands, feet, and spine.

Rheumatoid Arthritis 

Affects millions of Americans young and old. Age can increase the risk and vulnerability of arthritis yet children, teens and young adults can acquire this progressive disease.

Gout

Affects men more than women with high levels of uric acid.

Fibromyalgia

Fibrobyalgia predominantly affects the female population and can co-occur with rheumatoid arthritis. It is a generalized widespread pain whereas arthritis is localized within the joint area. Between 10-15% of osteoarthritis sufferers have Fibromyalgia.

This gender factor is dually noted in Ayurveda as well. According to Ayurveda, osteoarthritis is a Vata/Pitta, Pitta/Vata condition whereas rheumatoid arthritis is a Kapha condition. Arthritis is correlated to poor muscle and bone health, disproportionate body weight, asymmetrical patterns from repetitive stress on the joints minimizing a normal ROM, and an unhealthy lifestyle.

Western Treatments of Osteoarthritis include weight management, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and medication for pain relief orally and possibly within the joint, and exercise. Even among western modalities and exercise, yoga is a prime alternative treatment for this degenerative disease along with walking, water therapy, acupuncture, massage, polarity and diet. Joint replacement is a palliative option when all others fail.

Unfortunately there is no cure for osteoarthritis. With astute observation, mindfulness, yoga, Ayurveda, a Vata/Pitta pacifying diet and these aforementioned modalities we can slow down the degenerative process and relieve suffering.

Arthritis Types According to Ayurveda

In Ayurveda Arthritis is called “Amavata” which translates in Sanskrit as TOXIC-AIR caused by internal and external factors. Most Osteo-Arthritis is considered a Vata disease and most often takes place in one’s Vata years (post menopausal). Arthritis is related to poor digestion and accumulation of toxins.

Our state of AGNI or digestive fire is a major factor in the disease process.

Joints are classified in three separate types.                    

Within these three classifications of joints each is distinguished by their ability to articulate;                     

Arthritis mostly affects the large number of freely movable joints called:                                                               

Diarthroses, which are composed of the knee, hip, elbow, wrist, finger, and toe.                                                  

Immovable joints (synarthroses) ie: skull joints.              

Slightly movable joints (amphiarhtoses) are the vertebrae of the spine which are not as affected by arthritic changes.

Joint health is affected by:            

Imbalanced Doshas (mostly VATA)                               

Presence of Ama (natural buildup of toxins)

The most common form of Arthritis occurs when Vata is allowed to remain imbalanced over a prolonged period of time. The main tissue of Vata is bone (bone density). Vata enters the bone from poor digestion, low Agni, environmental exposure and insufficient waste removal with its accumulation of Ama (toxins) in the colon (seat of Vata), which are then transported, to the joints. Injury, stress, “wear and tear”, and repetitive patterns repeatedly wear down the joints protective cartilage diminishing the synovial fluid and protective coverings leading to bone on bone.

Arthritis is more common in windy, stormy, damp, dry and cold climates.  It is considered an immune system disorder where the body attacks itself.

Ayurveda and Arthritis

Ayurveda classifies Arthritis within the three constitutional categories of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha and each of the types & stages (Samprapti) of this degenerative disease.

VATA

The joints in Vata arthritis will include immobilizing, throbbing, or searing pain that can be variable. Joints may be cool to the touch. Heat relieves the pain and cold aggravates the joint. Pain is felt upon movement with a localized area of pronounced tenderness. There can also be stiff and cracking joints d/t Vata. . Strenuous exercise exacerbates the pain promoting more stiffness with inactivity. Deformation of the joints can occur along with muscle wasting and asymmetry. There may be constipation, abdominal distention and gas accompanying this disease and is one of the markers of the first stage of arthritis.

PITTA

Redness, inflammation, swelling and a burning sensation are the hallmarks of this variety. Pain is alleviated by cold and stimulated by heat. Concurring symptoms can be sweating, irritability, and loose bowel movements.

KAPHA

Edema, swelling, and stiffness in and around the joints where the pain is somewhat localized, dull, achy and heavy feeling with limited ROM (range of motion). Heat will relieve the pain and damp, cool weather will aggravate it. Some movement and exercise will reduce the pain, which can be greater in the morning and diminishes during the day. Along with this the skin can be oily with congestion and mucus in the stool.

Treatment for Arthritis

Ayurveda’s treatment for arthritis is unique according to each individual clients constitution, lifestyle, diet, emotional patterning, and age.

The main feature and starting point is to initiate a progressive treatment through the colon for all dosha’s. Vata is involved in most of these cases or is the initiator of the imbalanced state leading to the final functional and structural changes.

Osteoarthritis is particularly alleviated by the preventative modality of Ayurveda early on in the disease process.

Reducing Vata is the keystone of treatment!

We pacify Vata through diet, herbal remedies, lifestyle and the removal of toxins.

Following a Vata/Pitta/Kapha (VPK) pacifying diet is essential depending on which arthritis is presented.

Western medicine has a great role to play in the progression of this disease to maintain and protect the natural joint.    There are multiple non-surgical options including physical, aquatic, and manual therapy, active release technique, anti-inflammatory medications, cortico-steroid and cutting edge injections. The final options include osteotomy with re-alignment, arthroscopy to reshape bone, surgical dislocations, and finally semi and total joint replacements by an orthopedic specialist.

It is paramount to have an initial and correct diagnosis through X-ray, MRI, specialized scans, manipulation, palpitation, and clinical observation by a certified medical/surgical specialist, or professional. Once an Ayurvedic Practitioner has the essential tools they can work along with a M.D., PA or health care worker. 

Ayurveda is a fascinating science that is 5000 years old and allows us to blend its ancient wisdom with modern medicine for the prevention and treatment of arthritis.

Blending western and eastern modalities are the foundational tools in Ayurveda.

Helena Zera, RN, 500E~RYT, 200~APTA, 200Ayuryoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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