Transitions and True Nature!

Right understanding of self and right understanding of environment can help us live a healthy balanced harmonious life. In fact, according to ayurvedic philosophy, recognizing our true nature as our spirit is the first step toward living a healthy balanced life! When we see ourselves through our innate spirit, we can let go of all the every day dramas that surround us and live our lives according to our true nature. You may be asking yourself, “so really, what is my true nature?”

True nature is your self without all of the material, emotional and physical disturbances of the world around you. In simpler terms, it is that state of complete calm that washes over you during a really present yoga practice and or meditation practice. The time you were practicing pranayama and you were saturated in your soul, immersed in your inner landscape.

During the change in seasons, it is especially hard to find this balance of holding true to yourself and not be challenged by all the transitions surrounding you. This year in particular! We are in the middle of winter and buds are sprouting from the earth, the jasmines are beginning to bloom and the temperature around us is unseasonably warm. On the one hand, it’s lovely to feel the surprise of an early spring, on the other, not so much. Here is a little ayurveda background information: While ayurveda sees living your life according to your true nature as a way of preventing disease, ayurveda also presents 3 main physical, emotional and behavioral constitutions (dosha’s) including vata, pitta and kapha. These dosha’s are a mirror of our true nature, our imbalanced nature and the surrounding environment. For example, Vata is made up of the elements of air and space. People with this constitution take on the qualities of dry, light, cold, rough, mobile and subtle. Interestingly enough, these are fall and winter qualities too. Kapha is composed of the elements earth and water. People of Kapha nature also present with earth and water and take on the attributes of heavy, slow, cool, oily, thick, smooth, stable and cloudy. The Kapha season is spring. Pitta shows as fire and water. People with pitta constitution present with fire and water and take on the qualities of oily, sharp, penetrating, hot, liquid, and spreading. Summer is pitta season.

Now that we have the background information, lets get back to the change in season and how it affects us physically, emotionally and behaviorally. We now know that winter is vata season and takes on the qualities of cold, dry, light, mobile, rough and subtle. When there is a quick transition to spring or kapha season, we see the opposite qualities including oily, heavy, slow, smooth, stable, sticky, thick and cool. These qualities are not only surrounding us, they begin to manifest inside us. In simpler terms, the soft, thick, sticky mud we feel under our feet, translates to excess water, mucus, and congestion in our body. What use to be cold, dry, light and windy days outside, has become, warmer, more stable, slower and heavier in nature. Our minds will also take on these characteristics. Hence, it is common during change of seasons for us not to be completely on our game. We may experience heaviness, fatigue and lethargy in both our minds and our bodies.

Luckily, Ayurveda gives us tools to glide through these transitions feeling happy, healthy and prepared to embrace each new season. Here are a few suggestions for moving into Spring:

  • Start your day with a cleansing warm glass of water with a few slices of fresh ginger
  • Move toward a lighter, more cleansing diet, green smoothies, berries, legumes and salads are perfect this time of year
  • Gravitate toward more vigorous, flowing yoga practice
  • Twists, heart openers, warriors are all excellent poses to stimulate Kapha
  • Incorporate ujjayi pranayama into your daily yoga practice
  • Try adding 5 to 10 minutes of Kapalabhati breathing into your morning routine

Embodying just these few changes should make a considerable difference in how you feel physically, emotionally and behaviorally during this seasonal transition. In addition, remember to invite your spirit to be your true nature. As you move through this time of change, try not to get ruffled by all the material, consuming drama that will try and disturb your authentic self. Hold on to what is occurring inside, your innate nature, your true spirit!






Exploring Duality: Sun and Moon

So often in yoga practice, we focus on surya namaskar, salutation to the sun. There’s series A, B, C, Hatha style sun salutation, Iyengar style and I imagine many other sacred variations.  What about the moon salutation? Yes, lots of ways to practice the moon salutation too! Where do you park yourself, sun salutation, moon salutation, a balanced mix of both?

With the full moon rising this week, I began to focus more on creating a full moon practice.  In ayurveda, the full moon resembles many of the gunas, qualities, of Kapha Dosha.  During the full moon, you see fullness and therefore feel indulged, feel coolness and start to unwind; and move slower, finding more time to relax with your people!  You may be asking, how does this affect your yoga practice? Well, in the evening, you may want to feed these qualities nurturing your yin side, the more feminine, cool, nourishing half of your being. Perhaps starting practice on your back, feeling the coolness of the ground below you and gradually moving into several rounds of your favorite style moon salutation.  Nadi Shodana, alternate nostril breathing, may also be a good choice to draw out your more soothing side!

How about the morning after full moon practice? For me, this is where duality comes into play.  Finding that balance between sun and moon, generating heat yet not overheating, creating lightness while still finding your ground, nourishing your spirit, and not getting too satiated! Here perhaps flirting with this duality of sun and moon by incorporating sun salutations to begin practice and moon salutations to end practice?  Combine kapalabhati, breath of fire, with shitali, cooling pranayama? Putting a little savasana into the mix, take a 5 to 10 minute rest feeling the coolness of the ground below you and the warmth of the universe surrounding you!

Would love to hear your thoughts on how this plays out for you?!



Upcoming Workshop: Kapha Crushing Spring Cleanse


While I don’t want to get ahead of myself and take out my spring wardrobe, I am beginning to see, hear, taste, touch and smell the presence of Spring all around me.  Buds are sprouting on bushes, the birds are starting to chirp, asparagus is now back on the shelves at Coop, fragrant spring flowers are popping up in garden stores and the ground below me is beginning to soften.  Is noticing enough or do we need to start preparing to transition from Winter to Spring?!  At this point, bringing awareness to the small changes around us is enough.  And, as we get closer, yes, there is some prep work to navigate our way into spring without getting sick, feeling sluggish, heavy, bloated and dull!  Not a coincidence that these are some of the qualities of Kapha Dosha when out of balance!  Kapha is the ayurvedic constitution associated with spring, it consists of the elements earth and water.  Hence, you can imagine with the onset of spring, when we feel the ground beginning to soften and our shoes tracking gooey mud; this soft, viscous liquid is not only surrounding our feet, it is also inside our bodies.  Keep reading, there is a solution!!  By slowly moving from a winter diet of heavier foods to a spring diet that is more reducing, discovering spices that stimulate, switching up our yoga/breathing practices and refining our sleep patterns, we can gracefully stroll into spring avoiding that gooey build up of fluids in the body, wooing us to feel mobile, light, energetic and ready to blossom!

On Saturday March 2 from 10:00am – 12:30pm at Sanapurna Yoga and Ayurveda Center in Zurich, I will be leading a workshop on transitioning from Winter to Spring with Ayurveda.  We will talk about moving toward a spicy, reducing Spring diet, learn about Kapha reducing cleansing techniques and engage in a Kapha Crushing Yoga Practice inviting you to fill your tool box with time tested ayurvedic remedies and lifestyle practices.  To register, visit Sanapurna’s website at

Looking forward to finding our balance together as we move toward Spring!



New Ayurveda/Yoga Class Offering!

img_2184  Interesting choice of posture on top of this beautiful mountain, hey? I am finding my root, searching for my ground given a few feet more and I am over the edge. Over the years, I find myself moving more and more toward a practice that is in alignment with the seasons, time of day and my particular prakruti.(constitution)  With the constant change in weather around me including heavy snowfall, intense wind, cold and today heavy rain;  I am less likely to invite my body into a vigorous practice that will deplete my energy stores, release an exorbitant amount of sweat and leave me feeling fatigued and shriveled up.   I need to conserve my energy to stay warm, nourish my spirit to feed my well being and lubricate my body to feel lush! Of course, I need to move my body, we all need to move our bodies, finding the juice and essence of feeling completely alive and radiant.

Hence, I am starting a new Ayurveda/Yoga class that will cater to the practitioner, the season and time of day. Together we will explore our current vikruti’s(current state of balance) and move toward finding the perfect balance between what is happening inside our bodies and minds with what is happening all around us.  There will be pranayama to ground our energies and on sluggish days boost them, yoga flow either dialed up or down depending on the gunas(qualities) we arrived to practice with, and relaxation geared toward leaving you inspired to branch out into the rest of your day. Yes, this class will begin in the morning, during the Kapha time of day!

We will meet at Sanapurna Center in Zurich Mondays and Thursdays at 9:15am-10:15am.  All levels are welcome to join on a drop in basis or with abo! For more information you can contact me directly or contact the center:

Warming up with Dasha Chalanam

About ten years ago, while studying to become an Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist at Kripalu, I had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Scott Blossom. For those of you not familiar with Scott, he is a fabulous shadow yoga teacher, Ayurvedic consultant and traditional Chinese medicine doctor.  During my week with Scott, I learned Dasha Chalanam, which is the warm up for shadow yoga, and the warm up we did every morning during this training.  Dasha Chalanam was a sequence of 9 churns that went body part by body part until the whole body had synchronized movement like Sarpa the Snake! You could make this practice into what ever nourished you.  For example, it could be something that got you from point A to B, warmup  to vigorous practice.  Or, it could be a mindful exploration into your Guna’s, the qualities that make up both your mind and body.  In addition, it could work as an opportunity to build bone strength, delve into your organs and tissues.  For the beginning yogi, I imagine it is seen as a vehicle to get you from point A to B!  And 10 years ago, I wonder if that is how I looked at the sequence?  After practicing this sequence over and over, by myself, with various teachers and with Scott on fortunate occasions, Dasha Chalanam has become a part of me.  A sequence I don’t reserve only for the yoga mat! I practice on airplanes in the galley, outside elevators, in waiting lines and often use as a warm up in the classes I teach.  Secretly hoping, my students will also find nourishment from this warm up that moves beyond getting from point A to B. After all these years, I am ready to put my acquired version of Dasha Chalanam to print, to share with all of you.  Of course, it is best to do with a skilled teacher and I do hope you will join me on the mat.  For those of you who are already practicing with me, you can now take this home and do it on your own!  See where it takes you, could be a deep investigation into your inner landscape, a place of strength and growth, an addition to your daily morning routine?!

Dasha Chalanam Lisa Style:

  • Start Standing: feet heavy and hip with apart, knees bent generously, for men left hand on the belly right hand on top, women right hand on the belly left hand on top, eyes can be open or closed, internal and external gaze at the horizon
  • Pranayama: begin breathing in and out of the nose, spreading the prana(breath) throughout the entire body. Start to notice how you feel in both mind and body. Allow yourself enough time to feel rooted in your self and your practice
  • Feet/Ankle Circles: open eyes, hands by your sides, continue looking at horizon as you step your right foot behind you coming on the top of the foot.  Begin to churn top of foot into earth as you make 16 circles one direction, 16 circles the opposite direction, then change sides
  • Neck Circles: mindfully circling to the right 16 times and then to the left 16 times
  • Shoulder Circles: moving toward shoulders, circling forward 16 times and back 16 times
  • Wrist Circles: opening up the wrists, interlace your fingers, bring elbows together parallel to chest. Make 16 hand/wrist circles to the right, 16 to the left
  • Twisting: open arms like wings, right hand taps left shoulder as left hand taps right side lower back, look left. Then left hand taps right shoulder, right hand taps left side lower back, look right. Repeating 16 times.  Note: shoulder corresponds to lung meridian and lower back kidney meridian
  • Hip Circles: Spread feet a little wider than hip width apart. Ground feet as you begin to circle your hips to the right, 16 circles and to the left 16 circles. Notice how the upper body also begins to get involved!
  • Knee Circles: bring feet together, rest hands on thighs, bend the knees, engage belly as you churn both knees and ankles 16 circles to the right and 16 circles to the left.  Try and keep feet grounded throughout the circles.
  • Sarpa the snake: Feet a little wider than hip width apart, bring buttocks back as you round back, chin to the chest, then bring hips forward, as you open the heart, lift chin up.  Repeat 16 times!  Sarpa the snake puts everything together, feet are grounded, rest of the body mobile as you undulate the body moving from cat so to speak to cow with the whole body!!

I board airplane to US in 10 minutes, now feeling inspired to do my Dasha Chalanam in the airplane galley.  Curious to hear where you enjoy to do your Dasha Chalanam!

On Intention



Happy New Year! As we begin 2019, it seems only appropriate that I bring up intention, commonly referred to as resolution.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, there are a few definitions of intention:

  • Noun form of intention is a thing intended, an aim, a plan. Someone’s intentions, a person’s plans.
  • Medical definition of intention, the healing process of a wound.
  • Logic definition, conceptions formed by directing the mind toward an object.

When thinking of New Year resolutions and or intentions, we typically stick with the noun form, a thing intended, an aim, a plan. However, in most cases, it’s not just one thing or aim, it’s several! Several aspirations that we hold ourselves accountable for in the New Year ahead. When I think of setting my own intentions, I am faced with the reality that there’s a strong possibility I won’t be able to follow through. So I set just a few attainable intentions, keep it simple. Simple enough that if I share my intentions with others, I am more accountable and have more chance of following through.  With that said, I invite you to be  privy to my intentions with the hope that I fully embrace all of them! And at the same time, inspire you too to reflect on your own possibility of fulfillment, sharing and accountability.

My plan focuses on dinacharya or daily routine.(Reference Blog Post On Finding Routine) While I already consider myself to have a strong dinacharya practice, there are a few small refinements I can make to find more balance,  “heal wounds.”  Without realizing it, perhaps your intentions will also be aims that lead to “healing wounds?”

My short list of intentions:

  • Start my dinacharya the night before ie.  work on eating dinner earlier, spend more time winding down without social media or netflix, be in bed by 10:00pm. Hence, a little jump start on a smooth transition to the next day!
  • Move through my day with more love. While I know that love causes the brain to release oxytocin which can smooth out roughness, soften rigidity and alleviate stress, I often lose sight of this.
  • Spend 15 minutes every day practicing nadi shodhana, alternate nostril breathing with the hopes of bringing more balance between my emotional half and my more fiery self!

Ah, my intentions sound so much more realistic when written down, read out loud and shared!  Perhaps this inspires you too to cultivate your short list of resolutions, maybe share with others, and hold each other accountable?! As we move into 2019, I would love to hear how your plans are unfolding, your aims being met and your past wounds being healed. Feel free to share your thoughts, intentions and inspirations with me!

Finding Balance this Holiday Season with Pratyahara.

In Ayurveda, Ahara is the food we take in.  Whether it is through the mouth or our five senses, we are constantly taking in.  As you can imagine, Ahara (food) is a main ingredient for optimizing our health.  In fact, it is one of the three pillars of health according to Ayurvedic Medicine, the other two Nidra (sleep) and Brahmacharya (balanced sex drive.) While Ahara is a key element for good health, overconsumption will tip the scale.  And I am not referring only to food consumed through the mouth!  Especially this time of year, we are constantly taking in from all our senses.

Are you feeling the overload?  Going to holiday parties a few times a week?  Braving the crowded malls to finish your holiday shopping? Enduring the heavy holiday traffic? What if we balanced what we take in with what is already inside? Pratyahara is the practice of withdrawing from external sensations into the world within.  While being the 5th limb of yoga, Pratyahara occurs naturally after practice of the Yamas (moral disciplines), Niyamas (positive observances), Pranayama (breathing techniques) and Asana (posture). Seems like a tall order if you are not a practicing Yogi!

While finding balance with Pratyahara can certainly be mastered through the practice of yoga, not all of us carve out the time for a full practice every day, and yet, the need for introspection lingers.

If this is you and you are too busy for a full yoga practice, here are a few simple tips that lead to the same result.

  • Brahmari, also known as bumble bee breath.  Here’s how: we close off our five senses with our fingers.  Thumbs lightly press ear flaps, index and middle fingers frame the eyes, ring fingers underneath nostrils, pinky’s graze the mouth. Take a deep breath in through the nose, exhale slowly out the nose making the sound of a bumble bee.  Try seven rounds, diving deep into your inner landscape.  Let go of all external thoughts, sounds, smells, tastes and agendas. After seven rounds, sit quietly diving inside, noticing the fruits of introspection.
  • Paschimottanasana, also known as forward fold. Here’s how: find a comfortable, quiet place.  Roll out your yoga mat, or sit on the carpet with your legs fully extended in front.  Take a deep breath in as your arms rise toward the sky, exhale fold forward allowing hands to land on shins, ankles or feet.  Inhale lengthen spine, exhale fold forward drawing your attention inside.  Close your eyes and take ten to twenty full breaths.  Inhaling through your nostrils, exhaling the same. Slow down your breath, allow yourself to completely relax into the space you have cultivated.
  • Indulge in a Hot Bath, Pour your favorite bath salts and essential oils into running hot water, light a few candles, close your eyes, let go of the day and enjoy some you time!

Wishing you a Balanced, Joyful Holiday Season!



One of my favorites….

Being vegetarian/pescatarian I often struggle over being creative with our dinner choices.  When our children lived at home, we consumed so much pasta, I feel I have had more than my fill.   Another go to, the loaded salad, is delicious. And, cold, dry/rough, similar to the weather outside and the terrain inside many of our bodies during the colder months.  I do enjoy a nice piece of grilled salmon with roasted brussel sprouts and nutty grains, but still seek a more juicy alternative.  This morning, I woke up thinking about one of my favorites, my husband’s too: Coconut and Red Lentil Soup!  I discovered the recipe in Kris Carr’s book, “The Crazy Sexy Kitchen.” If you haven’t seen the book, have a look, it’s amazing!  What I like about this particular soup is it’s loaded with protein from the lentils and perfectly spiced so that each spoonful becomes an investigation into the plethora of mouth watering tastes, sweet, sour, salty and pungent.  If you want to add some bitterness, incorporate a side of steamed dark leafy greens, for a bit of astringents, sprinkle dried cranberries on top.  Now you have all six tastes in one meal with a concentration on sweet, sour and salty the tastes of winter.  There is also quite a kick to this soup adding the perfect amount of heat.  Give the recipe a whirl, let me know what you think!

Coconut and Red Lentil Soup, Serves 8:


1.5 Tablespoons cumin seeds, 1 Tablespoon coriander seeds, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, half of a red serrano pepper chopped, 1 small white onion finely chopped, 1.5 cups red lentils, 4 to 5 cups vegetable stock or water, One 12 ounce can coconut milk, 2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger, .5 Tablespoon Black Pepper, .5 Tablespoon sea salt, 2 Tablespoons lemon zest, 5 Tablespoons lemon juice. Garnish with chopped cilantro and sliced avocado

  1. Toast cumin and coriander seeds in dry pot on medium heat for 2 minutes until robust aromas unleash.
  2. Add olive oil, red pepper and onion, stir until golden
  3. Add the next 6 ingredients
  4. Put on low heat, stir well and cover.  Allow to cook for about 30 to 35 minutes stirring occasionally until lentils have melted. You may need to add more water
  5. When soup is done, add lemon zest, lemon juice and chopped cilantro
  6. Remove from heat and serve with sliced avocado

A few variations from a little experimentation:  Add 2 teaspoons of turmeric to the spice mix. good for the skin and inflammation. Try serving over coconut rice or basmati rice. Whip up a side of steamed or sauteed dark leafy greens with sea salt, black pepper and roasted cumin seeds with a sprinkle of dried cranberries.

Ayurvedic Note: While the tastes of winter are sweet, sour and salty, it is nice to have all six tastes in each meal with a greater focus on sweet, sour and salty!





On Finding Routine

With the days getting shorter, the mornings feeling darker, motivation to get out of our cozy covers begins to get harder….for some.  In Ayurveda, each dosha ie. vata, pitta and kapha correspond to a particular time period throughout the day, the season, and time of life.  Kapha, the dosha composed of earth and air, holding the qualities of heavy, cold, dense, cloudy, stable, smooth and oily coincides from 6:00am/pm to 10:00am/pm.  Whether our constitution is kapha or not, it can be hard for us to take that first step out of bed in the morning!

So what becomes the motivating force?!  Is it the hot, brewed coffee you dream about that takes you from the bedroom to either the sofa or kitchen table?  Or, knowing you have to roll out of bed quickly to be on time for work? What if you set your alarm a half hour earlier each day and woke up to a new routine? A routine that revolved around making you feel warm, cozy, nourished and invigorated outside of those comfy covers.

Dinacharya/daily routine has been around for thousands of years.  It can mean different things for different people.  However, the intention is to wake up each morning before kapha takes its hold and begin the day with cleansing the five senses, 15 to 30 minutes of exercise, yoga and or meditation, followed by a warm breakfast.  In the summer, this is easy because the light exuding through your windowpanes encourages open eyes.  In the winter, the dark mornings may lend toward hitting the snooze button again and again.

So I challenge you to 40 days of working Dinacharya into your daily routine.  Resist the urge to hit snooze; rather, hop out of bed with the motivation to nourish your senses,  spirit and well-being.  Who knows, 40 days could turn into a lifetime!!

Tips For Dinacharya: Picking 5 to 11 of your favorites from below list is a great way to get started!!

  • Wake up 6:00am or half hour before your usual wakeup call
  • Evacuate Bowels
  • Brush teeth and scrape tongue with stainless steel tongue scraper
  • Drink warm glass of water, may add lemon and fresh ginger
  • Use Neti Pot followed by Nsaya Oil
  • Drop 1 to 2 drops of pure rose water into each eye
  • Drop 1 to 2 drops of warm ear oil into each ear 2 to 3 times per week, other days massage warm sesame oil around and inside ear lobes
  • Enjoy warm organic sesame oil self massage over the entire body.  Long strokes on the muscles, round strokes on the joints
  • Take some time for meditation, pranayama, yoga and or light exercise
  • Treat yourself to bowl of hot oatmeal with sweet spices, soaked nuts, juicy dates and a dollop of plain yogurt.
  • Have a great day!!


Practicing Yoga Similar to Eating Locally?

IMG_1954  Living in Switzerland, I feel fortunate to be surrounded by local farms growing seasonal vegetables, fruits, flowers and even Christmas Trees.  Depending on where you are on the map geographically, it is often difficult to decipher what is local harvest and what is being imported.  In South Africa, there is an abundance of vegetables and fruits year round. And, the observant eye will still know when avocado’s are no longer in season, fresh berries hidden from shelves.  The streets of China become there own informant as you witness rickshaws arriving early morning to respective fruit vendors. In tow, the latest cropping from their rural surroundings. In the US, supermarkets overwhelm.  And, if you look closely this time of year, the produce section overflows with root vegetables, citrus fruits, dates and nuts ensconced in their shells.

Yes, eating locally can be similar to practicing yoga!

  • Cultivating mindfulness as you journey through your neighborhood supermarket. Noticing the abundance of produce indigenous to the winter season,  just like you might notice the many varieties of yoga being offered at your local studio. Both scenarios inviting choice.
  • Beginning to find nourishment “On and Off” the Yoga Mat. For instance, partaking in Yoga Asanas that bring the same fulfillment as your favorite dish.  Taking the time to plan your meals, diving in to the local harvest. Resulting in fulfillment from the inside out.
  • Experiencing what is present in the moment, not longing for the future and or the past.  Comparatively, staying focused on your yoga practice rather than mentally updating your calendar during child’s pose! In winter, choosing oranges over blueberries, butternut squash over asparagus.
  • Taking into consideration the qualities of food and your yoga practice. Such as, opting for moist, heavy and warm foods during the colder months. Favoring sweet potatoes, legumes and whole grains over salads, smoothies and ice cream. Winter time yoga also has its essence.  Practice resembles the same qualities we find in our winter diet i.e.  heating, juicy, and grounding. Spending more time in seated poses, engaging in syrupy hip openers.  Perhaps indulging in a longer shavasana covered with a toasty blanket just like you might linger over dessert?!