An Ayurvedic Approach to Corona Virus

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When I started this blog over a year ago, the intention was to stay connected with my ever growing global yoga community. Creating a space through blogging, guiding yoga classes, offering ayurvedic consultations and or workshops where people felt safe, nourished, healthy and inspired.  My specialty has always been supporting seasonal transitions, more recently life transitions.  In the past, people came to me with issues that were in their range of control yet navigation tools were out of reach.  There was rarely a situation I couldn’t tackle.  At least the feedback I received was  positive 🙂

Today we are faced with a situation that is out of our control: the incredible outbreak and transmission of corona virus globally.   And, if you are like me, I need to feel that I am in control!  Yes, the corona virus is spreading like wild fire. And, we do have control over our actions which without a doubt will affect our health and the health of our surrounding community. By now, we are all washing our hands, continuously.  Using Hand sanitizer if we can get our hands on any. And, beginning the suggested social distancing by staying home from work, minimizing exposure to large groups of people, refraining from going to restaurants, gyms and yes, yoga studios.

What I am seeing mostly in the Ayurvedic Community is an outpouring and reinforcement of Ayurvedic Self Care Rituals to build our immune systems.  This is something we do have control over!!  If you’ve ever taken a workshop with me, you may be familiar with Dinacharya ie. Daily Routine. During these uncertain times where we are spending more and more time in isolation, creating a Daily Routine is essential.  Not only does it balance the irregular nature of our current circumstances, but it also includes many immune boosting protocols. Lets get started:

Morning Routine: 

  • Wake up with the sun, everyday! By waking up at the same time everyday, you create a rhythm to begin your daily activities
  • Scrape the Tongue: Use tongue cleaner or even a piece of dental floss to remove the bacteria in your mouth and activate the digestive system
  • Brush Teeth: If you have access to ayurvedic toothpaste, neem and licorice flavor is best
  • Oil Pull: Swish sesame or coconut oil in your mouth without swallowing for at least 5 minutes, then spit out.  You will notice change in consistency of oil to milky.  This is good news, toxins are being eliminated!
  • Drink 1 to 2 cups warm water: Start the day by moving impurities out of the system and clearing the channels for a fresh new day
  • Neti Pot: a great technique to keep nasal passages clear and free from bacteria, follow with Nasya Oil and or a few drops of warm ghee
  • Rosewater: Drop one to two drops pure rosewater in each eye promoting clarity and refresh
  • Self-Oil Massage: A wonderful Self-Care ritual. Give yourself a massage with warm sesame or coconut oil every morning or evening. Benefits include calming the nervous system, lubrication, improving circulation and nourishing the spirit from inside out.
  • Morning is a great time for Light Exercise, Pranayama, Yoga and Meditation Practice

Day Routine:

  • Eat three healthy meals a day with largest meal at lunchtime.  Eating three meals stokes our digestive fire while also allowing time between meals for digestion
  • Limit snacking to fresh fruit and herbal teas
  • Favor warm foods over cool, warm beverages over cold: Warm beverages and food may help reduce onset of corona virus
  • Eat in a mindful environment free of distractions
  • Favor Spring Tastes of Bitter, Astringent and Pungent
  • Incorporate Green Juices, soups and smoothies into your meals
  • Stay Hydrated sipping warm water throughout the day: Add a pinch of sea salt and coconut sugar with lime if feeling dehydrated
  • Suggested Daily Supplements to Keep Immune System Strong: Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Medicinal Mushrooms(Chaga, Reishi) and Tumeric

Evening Routine:

  • Begin to wind down after an early supper
  • Light reading, warm bath, pranayama, warm oil massage, and or meditation suggested
  • Try drinking warm Ojas Milk before bed: Ojas Milk is a nourishing, grounding, delicious beverage that helps you sleep and keep the immune system strong!
  • In Bed with lights out at 10:00pm

Recipe Ojas Milk:

  •  2 cups Almond, Rice, Oat or Whole Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Ashwaghanda Powder(Optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cardamom
  • 1 chopped Date
  • 1 teaspoon shredded coconut
  • Pinch of Honey(Optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tumeric Powder(Optional)

Bring all ingredients to a gentle boil on stove stirring constantly.  Pour in your favorite mug and enjoy!!  Makes 1 to 2 servings

Let’s keep the dialog going.  We may have to practice external social distancing; and, we still have control over keeping connections through emails, face-time and staying tuned in to both our local and global community.  Would love to hear how you are doing in your neck of the woods.  Any remedies that are working for you?  Or just a simple hello!

Wishing you health, connection, love and continued support during these special times.

With Love, Lisa

 

 

 

An Ayurvedic Approach to New Year Resolutions/Upcoming Practice Opportunities!

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Every year around this time the word resolution takes a front seat in many of our thoughts.  I resolve to work less, spend more time with family, explore healthier eating, minimize alcohol consumption and the list goes on.  Does this ring true for you?

While I believe it’s a wonderful idea to set intentions, make resolutions and step into a New Year and in this case New Decade with purpose, I am a bigger fan of Ayurvedic Lifestyle where stepping into each New Year is an opportunity to continue on the path toward health and balance.  Knowing your unique physical and emotional constitution in advance and having a daily routine in place exclusive for your well being. Being familiar with living in harmony with the season, consuming local harvest, exercising for your particular body type are all avenues toward walking down your intended path.

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This winter there are many opportunities to dive into ayurvedic yoga and lifestyle with me.  Starting Thursday January 9 at 9:15am, I will be leading weekly Ayurvedic Yoga Lessons at Sanapurna Yoga and Ayurveda.  Each class will be infused with ayurvedic wisdom,  flow yoga and the unique energy you bring to practice.

January 18th, I will be leading an Introduction to Ayurveda, Yoga and the 20 Gunas Workshop also at Sanapurna Ayurveda and Yoga.  In this workshop, you will discover the connection between Ayurveda and Yoga as it relates to yoga practice. We will explore ayurvedic constitutions: vata, pitta and kapha as well as the 20 gunas(qualities) which make up our body types.  Through discussion and practice, you will discover your unique body type. And have the chance to balance vata, the predominant winter dosha  with a warm, nourishing yoga practice designed to leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready to embrace the cold winter months ahead.

On February 23, I am excited to lead an Ayurvedic Yoga workshop in the US at YogaSmith in Portmouth, NH.  This Workshop will be both practice and discussion, introduction to Ayurveda and an opportunity to directly experience  Ayurvedic Yoga.  You will learn about the Ayurvedic Body Constitutions having the chance to discover your own Body Type. The class will focus on inviting warmth, balance and peaceful energy into body, mind and spirit.

One of my resolutions for 2020 is to be an ambassador for Ayurveda and Yoga, sharing inspiration, recipes, ayurvedic lifestyle and yoga with the intention of guiding people toward continued health and balance.  Paving the way for New Year’s resolutions to be an enhancement to each New Year and Healthy Lifestyle being the New Normal.

Autumn: In the Mood for Nostalgia, Feeling the Need to Cleanse!

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If you had to choose your favorite season, what would it be?  I believe entering any season brings a feeling of nostalgia, anticipation, excitement, the need to cleanse etc. etc.. For me, autumn takes me back to my childhood where my family and I would drive from our home in Westchester County, New York up to Franconia, New Hampshire. We had a small ski chalet.  Of course, it was not yet ski season; rather, we called it leaf peeping season!  I have such fond memories of taking walks in nature, my Mom packing us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to eat on a newly discovered rock big enough for all of us to sit on.  My sister, brother and myself enjoying goofing around along the river, my parents doing their own thing.  Fall was a season of innocence.  Collecting all the fallen leaves in a huge pile and throwing our bodies right in the center.  Rolling around with pure abandon. Fast forward 40 plus years and fall has a very new meaning for me.  I have spent the greater part of my married life  living abroad experiencing the different shades of autumn.  In Puerto Rico, I yearned to travel back to New England to get a glimpse of “Peak.”  In Beijing, there was one street notorious for its golden yellows.  Unless you lived a distance from this street, Autumn in Beijing was fully accessible. People watching was almost as beautiful as the leaves!  South Africa felt anti-climatic as  summer brushed into fall and landed in winter.

Now I am in Switzerland, experiencing fall “Full  On!”  And yes while I do miss my youth of indulging in the beauty of the White Mountains, I also feel so grateful to have  stunning views outside our patio right here in Nussbaumen.

As I gaze outside our window watching the leaves blow off the trees, I am reminded that inside our bodies we also experience this need to shed our layers.  Unlike trees, we can’t just let our leaves go! We have the same excess heat that accumulates from the summer months and is pounding on our doors asking to be guided out.  Back in the day when I was pounding down peanut butter and jelly sandwiches without a care in the world, I had no inkling I might be weighing down “my leaves,” so to speak.  So again, I fast forward 40 plus years and fall not only brings me nostalgia toward my childhood, it also is a reminder that I too must play a role in shedding excess heat, toxins and metals from my body.

While it may be a coincidence that apple picking is a favorite weekend outing in Autumn, consuming 2-4 tart apples daily can be a great start toward releasing excess heat through purgation. What about some of the other local harvest?  Indulging in raw shredded beets with lemon juice and ground mustard are perfect for cleansing the liver.  Green soups with whatever local greens you fancy are another wise choice for taking care of your body and mind as you transition from leaf season to stick season! Remember, we are not just cleansing our bodies, our minds also take a toll and need to be refreshed through intelligent consumption.  And I use the word consumption loosely.  Not only do we consume whole foods and grains, but our minds take in external stimuli constantly.  Hence, if you do decide to take the time to shed your leaves, you may also want to slow down, find more time for quiet reflection, meditation and gentle yoga.  Go lightly and playfully!

Happy Fall, Lisa

Pre-Ritu Sandhi (Seasonal Transition)!!

From where I sit in Switzerland, I see kids already back to school, biking the streets with their backpacks, small children walking with their reflectors and both parents and children experiencing yet another transition from summer to back to school.  Even if you don’t have children and or they are already out of school, end of summer typically presents this feeling of moving from holiday rhythm to stressful mode.

In Ayurveda, planning in advance for transitions makes for smooth, healthy passages.  We see this with seasonal transitions known at Ritu Sandhi.  Ritu in sanskrit means season and Sandhi means meeting place or junction. In India, there are six Ritu Sandhi’s.  This is interesting to me as there are only four seasons.  And understandable as rainy season is also taken into account.

6 Ritu Sandhi’s (Seasonal Transitions) 

  • Late winter and Early Spring
  • Spring and Summer
  • Summer and Rainy Season
  • Rainy season and Autumn
  • Autumn and Winter
  • Winter season and Late Winter

Ritu Charya is the time in between transitions where sticking to a seasonal regimen promotes balance, health and a peaceful state of mind. Charya meaning regimen.

While the transition from summer holiday to back to school and or work, does not meet the criteria for one of the six Ritu Sandhi’s, it is still a transition.  And, in my opinion should be approached in a similar way to seasonal transition. The rule of thumb with Ritu Sandhi is to gradually change diet, lifestyle and behavior 7 days before the actual change and 7 days after.  Hence, you spend 14 days gradually prepping for the shift.

So what would happen if you spent 7 days transitioning from holiday status to school/work mode? And continued for another 7 days while working and or going to school? What would that look like? Perhaps…..

  • Moving toward a scheduled daily routine
  • Rising with the sun
  • Incorporating a set time in your day for exercise, yoga, meditation and or pranayama
  • Preparing lunch for either your kids and or just you
  • Making a sustainable breakfast that carries to lunch
  • Starting to arrange daily activities and logistics in advance
  • Planning light supper menus early in the week
  • Lights out early, sleeping by 10:00pm!

Summer time lends itself to sleeping late, unscheduled meal times, spontaneity, and late nights.  This seems to be the Ritu Charya, Seasonal Regimen of Summer!  And, since we are moving away from this Season, perfect time to reintroduce daily routine, more emphasis on scheduled meal times, waking with the sun and being in bed before 10:00pm.  Would love to hear how this goes for you!!  Always striving to Find Balance!!

Caught Up In The Kripalu Vinyasa Flow!

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The last few months for me have resembled a perfectly flowing extended Kripalu Vinyasa Class.  I have journeyed back and forth from Switzerland to the United States several times, safely.  Discovered that each trip had a beginning, a middle and an end only to take another breath and find myself beginning again.  By allowing for smooth transitions between each event whether my daughter’s graduation, visits to see my aging parents, family weddings, guiding yoga classes and a 10 day opportunity to assist Kripalu Vinyasa Teacher Training, I have learned that the most gracious way to travel is to travel slow, fully participating in each moment. There has been a natural evolution to my path, each experience building on the previous moving toward a peak reality.  The presence of this reality allowing me to dive inward noticing where the beauty lies, the intermittent kinks reside and the knots build up.  Inviting me to savor the spacious, juicy terrain while also doing the work to release the sticky, sometimes painful inner landscape. I have had to modify my plans allowing for more comfortable travel.  Often creating options to adapt to my needs and the needs of those around me. Of course there were moments of meditation, reflection and introspection, encouraging me to discover what is true and real for me, Om Tat Sat! In addition to finding movement within an underlying stillness. Throughout my journey, there was carefully selected music in the back round ranging from Vance Joy to Kick Bong.  Each song creating the bhav(mood) for my wanderings.

Coming full circle, I return to the perfectly flowing Kripalu Vinyasa class. As you may have detected from my personal journey, there are components to a Kripalu Vinyasa class that coin it “Kripalu Vinyasa.”   The ingredients include and are not limited to:

  • safety
  • a beginning, middle and end
  • movement within stillness
  • modifications, options, props
  • journey
  • smooth transitions
  • moments of inward reflection
  • slow it down, sense and feel
  • evolution of sequences
  • intensity
  • music perfectly sequenced
  • prana response
  • time for meditation
  • an experience for the practitioner
  • Om Tat Sat: that which is true and real

With that being said, my Sankalpa/Intention for the next 40 days is to dive deep into the Kripalu Vinyasa Practice and Teachings both “On and Off” the yoga mat.  Would love to hear what your Sankalpa is?

 

April Showers Bring May Flowers, And Hail?

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It’s been over a month since I posted and it feels like yesterday! Back in March I was all jazzed up about the early Spring we were having here in Switzerland. The temperatures were getting warmer, the flowers beginning to bloom.  Fast forward 5 weeks, we are in the midst of Spring and it feels like winter! This morning I went for a mid-morning jog with my husband, temperatures were in the high 40’s, the sky overcast.  Toward the later part of the run it started raining which soon turned into hail.  I was sorry I didn’t wear gloves. My husband was sorry he didn’t wear a hat, the hail was crushing down on his balding head!

So why all this talk about the weather?! Well, Spring is clearly Kapha season.  Rainy, damp weather is expected, shoes getting stuck in gooey mud the norm. Our bodies also resemble this sense of defrost in the form of excess mucus. allergies and the common cold.

And, this Spring feels different. Temperatures are fluctuating between a high of 70 one week and a high of 48 the next. Our bodies are torn between defrost and freezing!  Ayurvedically speaking, there is a toss up between Vata, the winter dosha and Kapha  spring.  Vata being governed by movement is often thrown out of balance by fluctuating conditions.  Hence, now is a good time to make friends with your Vata qualities and work towards finding balance.  You may be feeling cold, light, mobile, ungrounded, agitated, and or forgetful?  Perfect time to find nourishment with warm, sweet, heavier foods.  Engage in a yoga practice that is more grounding as opposed to vigorous.  Wake up early and start the day with Nadi Shodana, alternate nostril breathing, to calm the nervous system and find balance between the desire to start your day with a bang or stay under your cozy covers.  And just as Vata dosha is governed by movement, be prepared for warmer weather to crop up and your daily routine to return to a more Kapha balancing practice of managing the defrosting temperatures both internally and externally.  More on that when the time comes!!

To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse?

IMG_2455The temperatures are getting warmer, the days longer, the heavy winter coat being replaced by a lighter coat, long sleeve shirts replacing sweaters and sneakers chosen over  boots.  Have you already begun to clear your closets of wool, cashmere and fleece for cotton, polyester and spandex? How about all those papers that accumulate over winter, are you becoming anxious to discard? Having second thoughts about your relationships, job, and or food choices? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you are not alone!

Spring defined as that time of year between winter and summer that signifies rebirth, rejuvenation, regrowth, resurrection and last but not least, renewal, has the propensity to put everything on the table.  Being the Kapha season, I am not surprised! The qualities or gunas of Kapha include heavy, dense, cool, soft, smooth, slow, sticky and stable. Hence as we transition from winter/vata season to spring/kapha season, we take on the qualities of kapha, even if we are not predominately a kapha constitution. And, all of us are exposed to vata gunas in the winter including cold, dry, rough, mobile, light, clear and subtle. Hence as the weather begins to warm, the ground begins to soften, buds sprout on the trees, our bodies take on these similar characteristics.  We also begin to defrost and renew resulting in a viscous, sticky mess inside our bodies and  minds. Homeostasis would suggest we need to bring ourselves back into balance!

So I ask again, to cleanse or not to cleanse?  Knowing what you know now, it becomes clear that springtime is optimal for cleansing.   The great thing about an Ayurvedic cleanse is it’s gentle and suggested for all body types.  Just like a good yoga practice, you can modify the regimen to meet your specific needs. If you would like guidance regarding setting up your individual cleanse, reach out for a consult.  I am also available on skype! 

To get started, try this beet smoothie, great for cleansing the liver and moving the lymph. 

Beet Smoothie:

1/2 raw peeled beet, sliced fresh ginger, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/4 cup fresh parsley, 1/2 granny smith apple and 1 cup fresh water, cardamom to taste

Place all ingredients in blender until desired consistency. Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

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

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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 https://www.sanapurna.ch

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