A shared post from Donna Farhi's newsletter (Nov 21012) (www.donnafarhi.co.nz):
Late this year when I told several close friends that I was going to do Panchakarma, the ancient Ayurvedic cleansing practices, many were surprised. “But you have such a good diet already!” one exclaimed. “You’ve been doing Yoga your whole life!” said another. “You’re already so strong and fit!” And while all these claims are more or less true, like any mortal being no matter how good my diet is, or how many hours I spend on a yoga mat, “stuff” can accumulate not only in the physical body, but in one’s mental, emotional and spiritual self. The last ten years have been the most challenging time of my entire life. Establishing a home on a 30-acre block of bare land with no electricity, water or septic system has been an all consuming and oftentimes back-breaking task. Long and arduous international teaching tours with radical changes in season, climate, and time zones combined with noisy hotels and jet lag induced insomnia had progressively undermined any semblance of a sound sleep pattern. And then who could predict when the Gods ordered up one major quake that would destroy the city center of Christchurch that we would get over 17,000 (and counting) aftershocks since! Being shaken awaken to a racing heart sometimes multiple times in a night had reset my nervous system to a new state of high vigilance.
Ayurveda has always been a part of my lifestyle but I decided to make a renewed commitment to this ancient sister science of Yoga and see what would happen. I had already trialed a whole series of state of the art herbaceuticals and vitamin supplements. I’ll admit, I was also motivated by some of the less than pleasant symptoms of menopause and the beginnings of some arthritis in my hands. But as someone who spends a good part of the year on the road I could not wrap my mind around the 48 odd hours it would take me just to get to India. What great good fortune then to discover Dr. Ajit, arguably the most experienced Ayurvedic doctor in Australasia right at my door step with the Planet Ayurveda clinic being located in the heart of Auckland, New Zealand. For some months now I’ve been religiously following some simple lifestyle practices that Dr. Ajit suggested that have already made a profound difference to my overall health. Based on those palpable results I decided to undergo ten days of Panchakarma. Conducted in a sacred atmosphere with incredibly sensitive, well-trained practitioners, my panchakarma experience made a profound impact on me. And while I’ve only just returned to the farm I already can feel a big difference. There is a deep inner relaxation that is supporting unbroken, restful sleep. I have had a complete cessation of any menopausal symptoms whatsoever. There has been a 90% reduction of inflammation in my hands and I feel an inner calm that is helping me keep my mind clear to face the ongoing challenges and decision making that is the stuff of everyday life.
What I would most like to share with my friends is that the foundation of Ayurveda is developing a healthy lifestyle that is in harmony with nature. Simple right? Well not quite. With Ayurveda one cannot circumvent the fundamental issue of how we live our lives. My sense over the years is that more and more our health strategies seem designed to throw things on top of our already entrenched life style imbalances which for most of us boils down to being in a chronic state of stress. No amount of superfoods, antioxidants or expensive herbal formulations can counter the deleterious effects of overwork, irregular meals, poor diet, lack of exercise, conflictual relationships, unsatisfying work, or unrelenting mental and emotional stress. When I was completing my training as Yoga teacher I worked part time in the health food industry, and the biggest change I’ve seen since the original bring-your own-container and bulk bins of lentils and rice, is the way in which the industry has adapted to serve the pathology of the culture with highly processed and packaged fast “health” foods, jaw-dropping expensive isolated nutrient hype and entire isles now delegated to meal replacement power bars. Is this the stuff that health is made of . . . I think not.
So I’d like to share with you some of the simple and inexpensive life style practices that have helped me improve my health. Don’t be fooled into thinking that something simple can’t make a BIG difference. Like any science you can’t know whether it works unless you give it a try. I invite you to little-by-little incorporate these practices into your routine and see whether they make a difference to you. Every few months I’ll send another suggestion for you to consider. Let’s make 2013 a year to reclaim the simple supportive wisdom of nature.