Monday, September 28, 2009

Get Real. A Month-Long Lifestyle Intensive with Kate at Back Bay Yoga. In effect Oct 10-31. Meeting 4 Saturday mornings 8:30-11:30. Oct 10, 17, 24 and 31. We will be using this blogspot as our on-line support space. Comment on this posting to ask questions, offer advice, rejoice, complain, and whatever else may come up during the month. I will be checking in daily. Om!
Blog on Kripalu School of Ayurveda Experience

Ayur: Life. Veda: Sacred knowledge.

There has been some curiosity about what is going on while I am away at Kripalu, and the School of Ayurveda there. Sparing you the details of the inevitable personal transformation during the 2-week residence at a yoga center, I will attempt to fill you in. This is actually the 5th class they will graduate, on an annual basis. There are 55 people in the group with me (51 are women). We head to Kripalu for a pair of two-week stints this fall: Foundations of Ayurveda. After the New Year, most of us will continue on to 4 more 9-day segments, working towards a Certificate in Ayurvedic Counseling. Seems pretty quick to me to go from foundation to “certificate”.
It still plugs me in when people ask me where I did my teacher training upon hearing that I teach yoga. What is this phenomenon? Because of the label Kripalu was using to sell their program, I never considered it. I was lucky enough to get personal advice from Dr Robert Svoboda, the first westerner to receive a degree in Ayurveda in India, expecting to take off for India again on his advice (just in time for winter!). He me to go to Kripalu! So without thinking too much about it, I signed up, and Stephanie and Dominic have been generous in teaching for me while I am away so much this fall. Same goes for the steady group of students at BBY, who obviously know the practice is the teacher, because the “teacher” keeps leaving!
I asked our first presenter Dr. David Frawley (History and Philosophy unit) what he thought about the certificate business and he said: At least the knowledge is getting out there. We don’t need to be afraid of Ayurveda; its very simple changes in the beginning that can turn someone’s life around. He is right. I could tell you (and I’m telling you right now) not to drink iced beverages with meals, and this could save you from a lifetime of digestional dis-ease. Simple.
Ayurveda seems to have chosen me. I knew it a year ago with the Lifestyle Intensive in the fall- students were so into the Ayurveda. The same way it came to me with the yoga in 1998- like someone took a cloth and rubbed the patina off my brain. The shining result: Ayurveda. I value much the quality of tradition so much alive in India, and so little a part of our culture in this baby of a country, which is why I asked Dr. Svoboda for a trustworthy direction to start what is, of course, a lifelong study. After ten years, the yoga studies seem ready to share the stage with their sister system, Ayurveda.
We began with, in addition to Dr Frawley, Dr P. Chauhan and his brother Satya Naranyan Das from North India. They have founded institutes there for the study of Sanskrit and Ayurveda. The Jiva Institute ( has an affiliation with Kripalu School of Ayurveda. The brothers covered Introductory Sanskrit, Anatomy and Philosophy. Dr. John Doulliard from Boulder covered Ayurvedic Lifestyle, and the pulse (a medical/mystical tool for self-knowledge and diagnosis). A team of local Ayurvedic practitioners came in and out as well. They packed us full from 6:30 AM to 9PM with a simple exam on our last night (guess who got 100%?). I took my hour at dinner to do a half-series of Ashtanga pretty much every day, unless there was something delicious happening in the dining hall. Next session includes Ayurvedic Psychology, Yoga and Ayurveda, and Herbology.
It’s difficult to summarize after hours and hours of learning, what to voice as my current impression of Ayurveda. It is the essence of Holistic. Like the yoga, the purpose of the science is to bring individual into balance with the universe. While these two systems find their roots in the esotera of India’s philosophy, they are delightfully practical paths to harmony. Any road you turn down in the study of Ayurveda is a path to Higher Self, and the organization of the system makes it impossible to forget. For example, the Anatomy of Ayurveda includes not only tissues and body parts, but also soul, mind, and emotions. Most of the time, dis-ease is manifested in the physical body, but seated in the subtle body. Again, like the yoga, balance begins with the gross (physical). This being, what you put in your mouth and when. Food, and the rhythms of nature, are the medicine.
My self-study of the past five years is now enriched and guided by a team of teachers who live the lifestyle. Students are given homework such as rise before the sun, do your yoga first thing, main meal at lunchtime, bed before 10 (sound familiar Ashtangis?). I think I get 100% on that exam too : ) Then, of course, there is the reading. The first book I read on Ayurveda was Frawley’s Yoga and Ayurveda, it’s a short read, if you are looking for something.
This year’s BBY Lifestyle Intensive starts in 2 weeks, meeting on Saturday mornings from 8-11 for one month. We will be doing personalized Ayurvedic lifestyle experiments throughout the month, working with food, oleation, pranayama, asana, meditation, and on-going internet support. Not to forget Integration of practices into daily life. If Ayurveda interests you, or you feel out of balance, please join the group, sign up link is below. I hope we can all benefit from another of India’s wisdom traditions, Ayurveda! I can organize materials for you to participate if you are unable to come to one session out of the four.