Summer’s almost over and I’ve been busy! Great news!
My website has been undergoing an upgrade behind the scenes these past few months. So I’ve been holding off on my blog while contributing toward that effort. I am super excited!
One of the new free giveaways on my newly launched site will be “21 days to optimizing your innate energetic potential”. It takes about 21 days to establish a habit, right? Well, I’ve gathered various segments from my archived newsletters to provide a dedicated 21 days of easy to do practices, meditations, chakra-specific diet/food recipes and suggestions plus other fun topics to follow along as you get to know your energetic/chakra system!
This piece will explain what your seven basic chakras are, why they’re important, and how to work with them to bring balance. Why?
· This system works with your ability to remain grounded and secure, enhances your creativity and expression, encourages your will power and focus, helps you find your voice perhaps for the first time, connects you to your gut instincts and intuition, and inspires you toward harmony, compassion and oneness.
· Because of the mind/body connection, our energetic system/chakras help us bring balance to your whole system—physically, mentally, and spiritually.
· Knowing what each chakra/energy center does, you’ll be able to pinpoint areas in your life you’d like to heal and/or strengthen.
· Becoming aware of the fundamental power contained within each center allows you to better achieve your chosen goals and life-purpose or perhaps understand why your path in that direction has been stymied.
· Building a solid base while working with the more physical energy centers allows growth up the channel to your more spiritual energy centers.
· Being aware of your habitual energy blocks is the first step toward allowing you to choose how to clear the way toward your innermost desires. You don’t know you have the power until you know what that power is, right?
· You’ll have fun! Having fun is part of the process! Having fun allows you to release accumulated stress and trust the process of growth.
Thanks for being a subscriber to my newsletter—and if you’re not, please sign up the right now for your first free gift: My chakra balancing and loving kindness meditation offer in the right hand margin of ! Subscribers will be the first to know when my new website is launched and have immediate access to my new giveaway outlined above! See you on the new site!
Better Day Yoga, LLC
Hello treasured readers!
Over the last few weeks, my blog series has focused on simple ways to incorporate Ayurveda into your life. Here’s a brief overview of what we covered along with the links, in case you missed them:
(Finding out what your “energetic personality” is or “dosha”—this was the introductory blog in my last newsletter email.)
(The Ayurvedic clock and how living in sync with nature’s rhythms enhances your health)
(What to eat for your dosha, season and age)
(Daily activities to enhance health and calm stress)
This newsletter blog will give you some suggestions on how to use your intuition to invite magic into your life—in honor of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day celebration—you know, the wee folk and all!
I’ve always said if I weren’t Polish, I’d want to be Irish! My regular readers know this is one of my favorite topics as I’ve touched upon magic many times, in particular during the March timeframe in honor of St. Patrick’s Day! (Peruse my archived newsletters. Some photos and links may no longer be active as time has passed and is also short! Thanks for your patience! One of favorite ones on this topic is from 2011.)
Let me open with some positive affirmation quotes:
There’s a concept in Eastern philosophy (one of the modules in my current Ayurveda training) referred to as Dharma. This refers to “what you are compelled to do” and invites you to step into your courage and do it.
Dharma suggests we ask ourselves “Am I simply following the wishes of my ego or actually what I’ve been called to do?” We’ve all wondered what we want to be when we grow up, right? That is if you’ve decided to grow up! Frankly I think growing up is way over-rated! I like the quote: “Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional”, as well as “We don’t stop having fun because we’re growing old, we grow old because we stop having fun.”
The idea of having fun as we grow in life is part of your Dharma, isn’t it? If you aren’t compelled to do something, you aren’t passionate about it. So you’re probably not really enjoying yourself! Maybe you chose what you considered a “stable” path. I think many of us did, including myself—early on. That may have been ego talking—“I need stability. This is a respectable career.” Yes I know, I know. I can hear you already! As George Bailey famously says on “It’s a Wonderful Life” when his guardian angel Clarence chastises him about his desperate need for money: “It comes in pretty handy down here, bub!” I get it.
But what about your passion? There’s nothing wrong with pursuing that too; and if you’re lucky enough, the two will meet and you’ll have a career that you’re passionate about. I may be over quoting here but “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Or at least what you need will follow.
Do you trust that you are where you’re meant to be? Do you have faith that the Universe is on your side? I sometimes fall down the rabbit hole too. It’s usually when I haven’t been meditating regularly!
Well wherever you are, you’re probably meant to be —unless you’re really not connected to nature. Did you get that? –Connected to nature! (Okay I just wrote about that in my last blog series!)
So do you trust the Universe? Because stress can stop that trust. When we’re stressed, we aren’t listening to our inner guidance. We’re on fight/flight mode, right? So that is step one to inviting magical moments in:
I wrote about simple rituals to invite Spirit back into your life in my previous blog series. As a trauma-informed yoga teacher, stress is my wheelhouse! Finding time for gentle movement with breath should be your go-to whenever you find yourself going down. And ritual is the way to make it a habit!
Want to know one of the benefits of practicing mindful yoga, meditation or any other mind/body practice? As you hone in on what’s going on in your mind and body you are developing your intuition—your gut instincts. You are connected to nature! That’s step two!
Pay attention to your gut. It’s always communicating with the brain and it’s always telling us the right thing to do. (See my trauma-informed brochure for a bit more on the Vagus Nerve which has been in the news quite a bit. It’s the longest cranial nerve stretching from the brainstem all the way into the belly, carrying incoming information from the nervous system to the brain. Literally the mind-body connection!)
Consider this—if you kept giving your best friend much needed advice over and over (and over); and they never listened to you or took your advice, wouldn’t you stop giving the advice? If you consistently don’t listen to your intuition, it will quit talking to you. Maybe you’re drowning it out with worrisome thoughts or a never-ending to-do list, or lack of sleep. Back to stress management techniques!
So there’s step three! Show the Universe you’re listening!
Yes, sometimes those actions can be big, bold and out of your comfort zone—quitting your job, accepting a job offer, or starting a new career all together like I did! My comfort zone was definitely beyond that decision at the time! So I started it as a side-thing. You might try something you love as a hobby or part-time. Maybe that’s enough. No one said that doing what you love always meant doing it as your full time job! Start incrementally. THAT let’s your intuition know you’re listening and it will send you more!
Maybe you’re not sure how to listen to your intuition, or even sure it’s talking to you. That’s step four!
That’s Theta waves at work! Theta wave brain states occur most often in sleep but meditation and exercising “in the flow state zone” can also create theta waves. Working with this state improves our intuition as well as our creativity (remember Einstein formed the theory of relativity from a dream). For a bit more on using this technique, read my past blog on how I chose my business name, Better Day Yoga (also written for a March blog). So have you been half asleep, and have you heard voices? Insert Kermit the Frog here!
You may still be wondering if this intuition thing really works. You might feel awkward about it or maybe you’re normally left-brained and analytical; and this just seems a bit woo-woo. Well I’ll end with step five!
Start to keep a diary of all the coincidences, synchronicities and kismet moments that happen in your life. When you start to write them down, this action dovetails with step number 3 above! The Universe takes note and starts to become very prolific! Reread your diary regularly to remind yourself just how much the Universe is listening to you. I promise you you’ll be amazed and humbled!
Natural, spontaneous synchronicities and intuitive insights happen when you’re connected to the harmony of the Universe—to Nature. And just remember…
I’ve been consulting with a social media guru who desperately recommends I start doing Facebook live videos. Another friend who’s savvy in that area recommends only a couple minute’s worth to keep your attention. I am dwelling on this option. What do you think? PLEASE let me know!
If I move forward on this and you’re interested in being kept in the loop, please like my Better Day Yoga Facebook page! I promise to be brief, informative and hopefully entertaining! So that’s part of my dwelling process! Any suggestions?
I’m holding off on a blog series for March because my schedule this month is quite erratic and overbooked! So I can’t commit to four blogs this month, but will do my best to write when I can! As is my norm, the rest of March’s blogs will be posted on my blog page here —the same page you go to for the current newsletter which IS sent via email once a month or so. They will also be found on my Better Day Yoga Facebook page here , as well as on my Instagram page here and my LinkedIn account here.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Hope to see you on one of my social media sites!
Please feel free to share this blog with your friends! I’d really appreciate it!
Sandy Krzyzanowski, E-RYT200, RYT500, C-IAYT
Better Day Yoga, LLC
Mail to: 5024 Oxborough Gardens
Brooklyn Park, MN 55443-3990
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This is my fourth installment in a series of blogs I’m dedicating to the ancient sister science of Yoga—Ayurveda. Here are links to the first three in case you missed them:
A very important aspect of an Ayurvedic lifestyle includes a daily routine (dinacharya). Do you notice when your routine is disrupted, you are more easily thrown off balance and more easily prone to stress? Then convincing you of the importance of a daily routine should be easy!
A daily routine is of utmost importance not just to maintain balance but also if you are looking to create change in your body, mind and soul. Kind of like meditating one day isn’t going to have a long-term effect, right?
Out of all the doshas, Vata is the one who is most resistant to change due to Vata’s “mobile” quality. (See the first blog in this series to determine your predominant dosha as well as which dosha might need some extra balance). Remember similarities aggravate and opposites sooth. So routine is especially important for Vata!
I should mention here that this mobile quality is involved in most, if not all, disease processes because it’s moving into various areas of the body. But that’s a huge topic on the stages of disease. It’s enough to say that if your dosha is predominantly Vata, it will be easier for you to be thrown off balance and thus invite various disorders into your system. So, again, routine is uber-important!
We talked a bit about the Ayurvedic clock two weeks ago. Following the clock helps with your daily rhythm, which aids digestion, quality sleep, regular bowel movements, and stress levels. Need I go on? We covered waking up early before the sun rises as well as best times to eat to aid digestion, suggested meditation times, best times and activities to go to sleep and have good sleep, etc. using the Ayurvedic clock. This is all part of your daily routine.
You probably already include at least a couple other of the most essential parts of a daily routine, like brushing your teeth, having a regular bowel movement, bathing, exercising, and wearing clean clothes. Notice that what you do habitually is easy to remember. So for the topics I cover here that aren’t part of your habitual routine, fit them in around those that are to get a rhythm while incorporating them into your life. Habits are great places to place new activities you want to include.
If you’re reading this, you may also have a regular meditation/mindfulness practice and/or yoga practice. See the blog series prior to this one on simple rituals to bring Spirit into your life if you’d like some suggestions on fitting mindfulness in. And, of course, I’m here to help if you’d like suggestions for creating your own daily home practice.
Scrape your tongue
So what’s left, you might ask? The first one I’ll cover may take a bit of getting used to; but trust me, once you’ve started doing it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner! It’s like flossing my teeth now. I don’t feel right if I don’t. Have problems with bad breath? All gone when you start scraping your tongue! Scraping the tongue also stimulates internal organs, aids your digestion, and—very functionally—removes dead bacteria (bad breath be gone!). Do this first thing in the morning before consuming anything else.
There is a whole system of tongue diagnosis in Ayurveda which is way too deep to cover here and I’m definitely still in the learning stages there! I’ll just mention that the tongue is a like a hologram for the bodily organs, similar to your ears, hands, and feet. You’re probably familiar with reflexology maps for these. Well the tongue is a “map” for the organs, the doshas (see the first blog in the series for more on doshas) as well as your digestive fire. Without getting too complicated, there’s even areas on your tongue that experience the six tastes we talked about last week.
Bottom-line? Scraping your tongue affects all of the above! So what are you waiting for? A stainless steel scraper is suitable for any dosha but love my copper scraper. I like the fact that copper “disinfects itself” because it’s bacteria-resistant. Copper also provides important enzymes needed for healthy microbes in the mouth to survive.
The scrapers are U-shaped. You take the “U” and gently place it on the back of the tongue and then scrape from back to front 5-10 times. I’ve read various numbers. And if you have a real problem with bad breath, you might want to scrape after every meal. I personally do this practice in the AM only.
An easy one you don’t need an introduction to would be to drink a glass (or two) of room temperature water upon rising. And if you’re all in, letting the water sit in a pure copper cup the night before helps flush the system out (GI tract, kidneys etc.). Ayurveda doesn’t recommend addictive drinks like coffee or tea, but if you must have those, it’s suggested to wait an hour or more after the water. Full disclosure, I love my coffee.
Holding oil in your mouth, or swishing the oil strengthens our teeth, gums and jaw. Vasant Lad, MASc says this practice also “improves the voice and removes wrinkles from the cheeks”. Warm sesame oil is commonly used but you can also get various combinations of oils. Banyan Botanicals has a combo of sesame, coconut and herbs.
Use 2-3 teaspoons of oil, gently swishing around, pulling the oil through the teeth for a few minutes (some say up to 20 minutes!). The longer you do the swish, the more benefits you experience. Remember my suggestion to do it around a habit? I’m reading that swishing as you shower might be a good time. Some texts suggest spitting the oil out in the trash vs. the sink to avoid drain clog—word to the wise. Vasant Lad, MASc also suggests doing this practice twice daily. I have yet to be consistent with this practice but I’m trying!
Nasal drops (Nasya)
A Nasya oil lubricates the nostrils. Doing this especially when you’re in a dry hotel room really helps! So if you have trouble doing this daily, try packing Nasya oil in your travel bag. You won’t regret it! I do a simpler version of using just a couple of drops of Nasya oil in my palm, dipping my little pinky in the oil and lubricating the inside tip of my nostrils.
In addition to lubricating our nostrils, which is enough for me, this practice cleans the sinuses, enhances the voice, and improves vision and mental clarity. “Our nose is the doorway to the brain, so nose drops nourish prana (life force energy) and unfold intelligence.” Source: The Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume 3, by Vasant Lad, MASc
The full description, again if you’re all in, would involve lying on your back cushioning your shoulders so your head tilts back (perhaps hanging the head off the bed) and dropping 3-5 drops of warmed Nasya oil (Vasant Lad, MASc suggests warm ghee will also work) into each nostril.
There are some contraindications for this practice: It’s not meant for young children (although Cate Stillman’s Living Ayurveda 9-month training suggested doing the pinky dip I described above and even doing the same for the ear opening tip.) Pregnancy, menstruation, immediately after exercise, while intoxicated, on a full stomach, digestive issue like diarrhea or vomiting, fever, hypoglycemia and dehydration are also contraindicated. (Source: The Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume 3, by Vasant Lad, MASc)
More oil to the head and body (Abhyanga)
This practice is one of my absolute favorites but remember, I’m a Vata dominant dosha so I have that “dry” quality. So “oily” is an opposite and very soothing. And I practice this after I shower vs. before as often recommended. I suspect many would prefer not dressing with oil on them to keep their clothes from getting oil. Oiling your body just before bed is also supposed to help you sleep soundly.
I have been leaving bhringaraj oil on my hair for several hours the day I’m going to wash my hair to help reverse hair fall out I was experiencing due to hypothyroidism as well as menopause. Mahanarayan oil is my oil of choice for after shower since it helps with muscles and joints. It balances all the doshas but especially Vata. Vasant Lad, MASc recommends warming the oil and using sesame or almond for Vata, sunflower or coconut oil for Pitta and mustard or corn oil for Kapha. If there’s a favorite oil of yours, don’t let the recommendations stop you from using your oil of choice, in my opinion. I have a jasmine infused Vitamin E oil I also use.
Applying oil to your body is a practice of self-love. It will improve your circulation, moisten and condition the skin and is a great de-stressor in this day of go, go. The Sanskrit word for oil means love. Enough said.
There are other practices we could go into for your daily routine but let’s start here and pick something that resonates with you. Be good to yourself. The more you take the time for self-care, the more your body will respond positively. The more you are able to relax with these practices, the more tools you are providing your body to rejuvenate and heal from within. That’s the Ayurveda way—heal from within. Please let me know if I can help you in any way on your journey.
This is my third installment in a series of blogs I’m dedicating to the ancient sister science of Yoga—Ayurveda. Here are links to the first two in case you missed them:
We covered zeroing in on just what your energetic personality type is in the first blog and tackled the Ayurvedic clock / circadian rhythms last week. Now that you know who you are and what your preferences are, as well as the best times to wake, eat and sleep; we’ll touch a bit on just what to eat for your type. Reviewing the past two blogs will help you here.
Remember opposites soothe and similar aggravates. Each dosha, or energetic personality type, has tastes that pacify and soothe their dosha. There are six tastes: Sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent. Ayurveda recommends that we have all six tastes in our diet and preferably in each meal. The key is to eat these in appropriate amounts for your “constitution”/doshic balance.
Sweet: Pacifies both Vata and Pitta but increases Kapha.
Sour: Increases (or aggravates) Pitta and Kapha and it decreases (or pacifies) Vata.
Salty: Moderate use relieves Vata but increases Kapha and Pitta.
Pungent: Pacifies Kapha but excites/aggravates Pitta and Vata. If you eat a little bit of pungent, the first action of pungent is to pacify Vata due to the heat qualities. Using it too much, however, will dry so it increases Vata (already dry) and Pitta (fire element is one of Pitta’s components and is already drying).
On a side note, when I took an in-depth 9-month study on Ayurveda in 2014 (Living Ayurveda with Cate Stillman), I started to drill down on just what spices and foods do to our mentality, mood, and body. I used to absolutely love cayenne! I’d sprinkle cayenne on literally everything! I mean you could see red on my salad! Then I read that pungent in excess makes you …angry, irritable, aggressive, competitive, jealous, envious, and even violent. Makes sense, doesn’t it? What goes in must come out. Pungent is hot, sharp and penetrating. In small quantities that’s good. In excess, not so much!
Bitter: Increases Vata but decreases Pitta and Kapha. Bitter is the most lacking taste in North America. This may be why coffee is so popular—it’s bitter. However, you know how some research shows too much coffee will cause bone loss? Over-consumption of bitter can reduce bone marrow and lead to bone loss. There are many qualities I could go into here, but won’t for now.
Astringent: Reduces both Pitta and Kapha, but increases Vata.
Vata prefers sweet, sour, and salty foods to soothe and balance their dosha.
Pitta prefers sweet, bitter, and astringent foods to soothe and balance their dosha.
Kapha prefers bitter, pungent, astringent foods to soothe and balance their dosha.
Let me just add a quick note on toxins in our body (“ama” in Ayurveda). If you are consuming a lot or processed food, or not using organic vegetables (especially for the infamous “dirty dozen”), or using chemical-laden cosmetic and cleaning products; you’ll probably have some toxicity in your digestive system.
Our body is so well-designed that without the toxicity, our cravings are healthy. Our body will actually crave those things that will balance our doshas! How cool is that? Cellular intelligence at its finest! However, and this is a biggie, if you have digestive issues due to toxins or other considerations, our cellular intelligence is off and our cravings become what Ayurveda likes to refer to as “perverted”.
Modern science is catching up to the ancients here. I’ve read recent studies that if we eat the wrong foods, we feed the wrong microbes in our gut. What we feed grows and wants to stay alive so the cravings will be more of the same—“Feed me!”
So part of the healing process of our gut is to start eating the good stuff, right? Then once we remove the toxins from our diet, our cravings will be healthy ones.
A few other things that can lead to toxins could be overeating, eating heavy foods in excess or large heavy meals just before bed, eating hard to digest foods for your dosha, and eating at the wrong times (night, between meals, or unseasonally.)
So I’ve highlighted some ideas for heading toward a balanced intake above. But what about some recipe suggestions? My favorite Ayurvedic cookbook is Eat, Taste, Heal: An Ayurvedic Guidebook and Cookbook for Modern Living. Each recipe is labeled with which dosha it’s appropriate for as well as how to adjust a particular recipe to be okay for a different dosha. Genius, right?! There’s also “Dosha food lists” in the appendices for easy reference.
Fruits as a starter list from the above cookbook
(There’s more, but this will get you going until you get the book!)
Vata would favor all berries, dates (a super food in Ayurveda), oranges, apricots, coconut, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, limes, and avocado (healthy fats!).
Pitta would favor apples, avocado, sweet berries, sweet apricots, dates, coconut, sweet grapes, mango, sweet plums, watermelon, and pomegranate.
Kapha would favor apples, apricots, berries, cherries, mango, peaches, pears, and pomegranate.
Vegetables starter list
Vata: favor cooked vegetables—asparagus (again a super food), beets, squash (winter, butternut and acorn), carrots, cucumber green beans, leeks, onions (remember cooked), sweet potatoes.
Pitta: Brussel sprouts, butternut and spaghetti squash, leafy greens, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, fresh corn, cucumber, green beans, kale, collards, mushrooms, peas, parsley and sprouts.
Kapha: Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, fresh corn, eggplant, horseradish, kale, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, peas, parsley, white potatoes, radish, and summer squash.
There are also categories for grains, legumes, dairy proteins, nuts, seeds, oils, sweeteners, herbs and spices, condiments, beverages, supplements. Too much to cover here!
“Every food has its own taste, a heating or cooling energy, and a post-digestive effect. Some also possess an unexplained effect. When two or more foods having different taste, energy, or post-digestive effects are combined, your digestive fire, (Agni in Ayurveda), can become overloaded, inhibiting the enzyme system and resulting in the production of toxins. Yet these same foods, if eaten separately, might well stimulate your digestive fire, be quickly digested, and even help to burn toxins.” ~ Textbook of Ayurveda Volume 1, by Vasant Lad, MASc.
This is a very important topic that we don’t always consider. You’ve probably heard to eat fruit alone? This is one of the Ayurvedic recommendations. Improper food combining causes indigestion, gas, fermentation; and yes—disease, among other things. Here’s a quick chart to start your journey. Remember to start slow. It’s a process!
Kitchari is a simply prepared meal. It’s also a great balancing, easily digested complete meal in a single dish. There are many recipes out there. In my current Ayurveda training with Yoga Veda Institute, they commented that while Kitchari comes from Ayurveda, each culture has their version—kind of like our chicken soup recipes. So explore your favorite Kitchari recipes online.
I hope you’ve enjoyed dipping your toe into eating with your doshas in mind. I’ve only touched upon some very basic concepts. The rest is up to you. I’m here to help if you have questions! See you next week for my fourth installment on Ayurveda!
Last week was the first of the current series of blogs I’m dedicating to Ayurveda and some simple steps to make this 5000 + year-old sister science of yoga part of your lifestyle. Last week I introduced doshas—your energetic personality type, here.
One of the easiest ways to start to foster a balanced lifestyle is to live according to the natural laws of nature. Just as we each have our own energetic biorhythms that define what our essential nature is (doshas), Mother Nature has circadian rhythms that affect us as humans living on this Earth. Ayurveda teaches us how to live, eat, and breathe in harmony with nature.
The Ayurvedic clock is broken down by doshas:
From 2 – 6 AM and PM it is Vata time. As you recall from last week, this dosha is all about movement with qualities of light, subtle, clear, flowing and mobile—among others. From 2 – 6 AM is when our minds are more awake and clear. Ayurveda would say to rise with the sun, no later than 6 AM. Exposure to sunlight also causes a chemical reaction to that makes your body more alert. This is why insomnia experts recommend dimming your lights as the day comes to a close so you don’t have this alertness affect your sleep.
Getting up before 6 AM is actually easier than you think. I’m sure you’ve woken up before 6 AM and felt totally awake, right? That’s Vata time! Ayurveda recommends getting up no later than 6 AM to meditate and do breath practices (pranayama) when your mind is the most clear (Vata).
Once 6 AM hits, it’s Kapha time from 6 – 10 AM and PM. This is the dosha with the force of nourishment, lubrication and structure and has qualities like heavy, gross, dense, static, smooth and cloudy—among others. Kapha time is the hardest time to get motivated. We tend to be groggy (cloudy) this time of day. So sleeping past six will allow the heavier, denser qualities of Kapha to influence your day’s experience. This is why exercising in the morning to help rev up the engine and energize the rest of the day is helpful.
Kapha is also the time in the PM when we start to become sleepy. So Ayurveda recommends going to bed no later than 10 PM. Use the Kapha timeframe to wind down, dim the lights, quit using electronics and chill. Staying up later and fighting the drowsiness Kapha brings could give us a second wind when Pitta is in full force, making all chances of a good night’s rest impossible. Journaling, restorative yoga, some peaceful breath practices, and/or perhaps some relaxing aromatherapy would all be helpful ways to prepare for sleep.
From 10 – 2 AM and PM it’s Pitta’s time to shine. Pitta is the fire dosha with the power of transformation, digestion, and metabolism. This is the time when our digestive fire is the strongest which is why Ayurveda suggests eating your biggest meal at lunch. Eating our biggest meal at the end of the day, as many of us do, falls into Kapha time when our digestive fire is the slowest.
Having less food energy to digest as you sleep allows the second round of Pitta time (10 PM – 2 AM) for digesting and processing all the other intake from the day—our mental energy needs digesting as well. This is the one area we don’t always take into consideration. All the mental energy we took in during the day with emails, phone calls, social media, television, traffic, work-related issues and meetings, needs to be processed by our brain. Our body also turns on its repair functions at this time.
I’m sure you’ve heard how important sleep is for the health, right? Well a big part of that is allowing time for the repair functions that occur while we sleep. Your brain literally clears things out during sleep.
Eating lighter at the end of the day lightens the digestive load, making it easier to rest and detox.
Start to notice when your energy peaks and wanes. Perhaps journal about how you feel on days when you follow the Ayurvedic clock more closely vs. not. Our daily patterns affect our health in so many ways
Many ancient medical systems, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, recognize the seasonal cycles of nature and the benefits of living in balance with nature. Even modern science is catching up with the 2017 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine being awarded to three joint winners for their discovery of how internal clocks and biological rhythms govern human life.
While circadian rhythms can be altered with various changes to your schedule, research shows this isn’t always healthy. Night-shift workers, for example, have been documented as having various health problems. As the old commercial says—“It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”
Over the last few weeks, my blog series focused on simple rituals to invite Spirit back into your daily life. They take no more than a few minutes and easily fit into your schedule. Here’s the links to all four if you missed any:
Using Ritual to Listen to Spirit (introductory blog in my last newsletter email)
My next series will be on simple ways to incorporate Ayurveda into your life and just like my last series of blogs, you won’t get the subsequent ones in a weekly email like this newsletter. I don’t think most want a weekly email from anyone! You can check out my blog page weekly here —the same page you go to for the current newsletter which IS sent via email once a month or so.
The Science of Life
What is Ayurveda? Ayurveda is a sister science to Yoga. It literally translates to the “Science of Life” and incorporates all aspects of health—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Ayurveda is a Vedic Science that’s a 5000 year old traditional science designed to bring the body back to balance in order to heal from within. It incorporates nutrition, lifestyle, breath practices and more to bring you to balance—mind, body, and spirit.
Rather than looking at and “fixing” symptoms, Ayurveda looks at the whole person and seeks to balance areas that are out of kilter. Removing the imbalances goes to the root cause vs. just applying a bandage to the symptoms.
If you give the body what it needs to balance, it will heal itself naturally. Our bodies want to heal. It is our body’s nature to heal. We just have to give it the tools it needs for balance.
In Ayurveda, the whole universe is an interplay of the energies of the five elements—earth, water, fire, air, and ether or space. These are the building blocks.
Ayurveda groups the five elements into three basic types of energies that define every person’s makeup, and are present everywhere, called the “Three Doshas”. We all have a mix of all three. The Three Doshas, or energetic personality types as I like to refer to them, are:
We start by assessing your “essential nature” known in Ayurveda as “Prakruti”. What characteristics and preferences have you had for most of the decades of your life?
I remember when I first started looking into Ayurveda well over ten years ago, I had so many a-ha’s! THAT’s why I like salty foods and warm, mushy foods! Oh! No wonder I prefer warm, humid weather! Ahh! Yes, I can be like a white tornado at times and I do burn out quickly.
You see, I’m primarily a poster-child Vata dosha. Each dosha has a set of qualities that go with them:
These are basically descriptors (known in Ayurveda as “gunas”) you can see in your nature. Like increases like. Opposites soothe.
I’m already “cold” which is why I don’t prefer being in cold weather. My infamous “rain barrel” is already full of cold. Likewise for dry—dry skin, dry hair, cracking joints that need a little extra lubrication. I prefer humidity. You get what I mean.
The seasons outside also have characteristics putting them in the doshic categories as well. Early winter starts out Vata and late winter leans toward Kapha as we go into spring. Spring starts out Kapha and eases into Pitta as we head into summer. Summer starts out Pitta and eases into Vata as we approach autumn.
The seasons of our life can also be seen through the doshic lens. Our younger years are Kapha years. It’s all about nourishment and growth—muscles grow (dense, soft), bones grow (dense, gross, hard). Our middle years are Pitta dominant. Pitta is known for transformation—goals have focus (sharp) and desire (fire). What are you becoming (spreading)? Vata predominates our latter years. There’s more dry, rough characteristics, right? Our nervous system starts to become affected more easily as we age (see the subtle, mobile characteristic there in our nervous system?) This is simplifying it quite a bit but it gives you a general idea.
In addition to being a Vata dosha, I’m also approaching my “Vata” years. So my Vata rain barrel is really full and tends to get off balance more easily as I’ve aged. I’ve learned to incorporate the opposites with gusto as I’ve studied Ayurveda, increasing healthy oils both inside and out—more so during the cold, dry seasons.
Once you’ve established your “essential nature” that’s been with you most of your life, you take the quiz again to see where you are currently, during the last few months or so. This is known in Ayurveda as “Vikruti” and refers to your nature of imbalance. If you’ve been having a lot of stress, this will show up in various ways in your answers. We then compare the first take of the quiz, to your second take of the quiz to see what might be off balance and needing some assistance.
As explained on the quiz, if your Vikruti (second take for how you are currently) is stronger in a particular dosha than your Prakruti (first take for how you’ve been most of your life) was, you’ll want to follow a routine soothing to that dosha to bring it back into balance. If your Prakruti and Vikruti are about the same, you’d follow a routine for your strongest dosha.
So are you ready to see where your essential nature lands? What have you got to lose but maybe that annoying rash, headache, extra weight, insomnia, stress? You fill in the blank (literally)! Just have fun with it!
By the way, I’ve taken my share of dosha quizzes! I probably took my first quiz when I was still living in Madison, Wisconsin in the 90’s. My first Ayurveda training was back in 2010 with YogaFit’s Level 1 program and I completed Level 2 in 2015. The latter part of 2015 I completed a YogaLean week-long immersion training in Austin, TX which incorporated Ayurveda, and in between I completed a 9-month “Living Ayurveda” program with Cate Stillman. Dosha quizzes were used in each program.
My current Ayurveda program is with Yoga Veda Institute and it is a 600-hour advanced track program for their Ayurvedic Health Counselor program meeting the standards set forth by the National Ayurvedic Medical Association. They have their own dosha quiz too.
Yoga Veda’s nutrition module suggested we create our own dosha quiz, using descriptors we feel our audience might prefer or that we’re more comfortable with. So I created one of my own, referencing some of the ones I’m familiar with as well as Dr. Vasant Lad’s (M.A.Sc.) Textbook of Ayurveda. A complete guide to clinical assessment. Volume 2.
Would you please give me the honor of being one of the first to check out my personal “Better Day Yoga Dosha Quiz”? There are two pages below–you need to hover your mouse over the bottom to see the prompt to get to the second page. Or you can access a downloadable version here.
The instructions are at the top. Total the columns each time you take the quiz to find which dosha is your predominant dosha for your prakruti (how you’ve been most of your life) and then again for your vikruti (how you’ve been the past couple of months or so).
I look forward to hearing back from many of you! Thank you so much!
Perfect health is achieved by establishing
and having a deep knowing of the Truth of the Self.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this first installation of my next blog series on Ayurveda! Hope to see you next week on one of my social media sites!
As mentioned above, I’m currently continuing my Ayurvedic studies by participating in a 600-hour Ayurvedic Health Counselor program. If you are interested in having an Ayurvedic one-on-one therapy session, please contact me! I’ve been incorporating Ayurveda into my one-on-one therapy sessions for some time now. Click and scroll down to Private Consultations/Therapeutic Yoga one-on-one/Single yoga class for a special occasion or gift
Or if you want to gather with a group of friends to learn how to live a lean lifestyle while incorporating Ayurvedic principles into your daily regimen, check out my YogaLean workshop !
Please feel free to share this blog series or the above opportunities with your friends! I’d really appreciate it!
Sandy Krzyzanowski, E-RYT200, RYT500, C-IAYT
Better Day Yoga, LLC
Mail to: 5024 Oxborough Gardens
Brooklyn Park, MN 55443-3990
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This is my fourth blog in the series on simple rituals to invite Spirit back into your daily life. They take no more than a few minutes and easily fit into your schedule. Here’s the previous three links if you missed them:
This week it gets even more personal.
Have you ever found a natural rock that just felt good to hold? It could have been picked up while on a retreat or vacation or perhaps a long walk to one of your favorite places. Maybe you put it in your pocket for luck or maybe it found its way to your bedside table or your desk at work. Every time you look at it, you remember the moment you found it, or the place you found it, or the person you found it with. That’s a touchstone and the subject of this week’s topic to bring Spirit into your daily life.
According to Ayurveda: “There is a mind in everything, living and non-living, organic and inorganic. However the state of consciousness differs for various things. For example, the mind of a rock is as if in a deep coma. Rocks have feelings and expressions, and if one is aware, one can sometimes sense that a rock feels happy, sad, or perhaps frightened or angry. However one must have an open mind to perceive these emotions. It is beneficial to develop one’s intuition, the mystic aspect of the mind.” ~ Dr. Vasant Lad, M.A Sc
Did you question your good feelings when you picked up the rock? Did you for one moment think, why does this rock make me feel good? Of course not! Because you feel what you feel. No one can question that, nor should they.
I have rocks, crystals and stones throughout our house! We have quite a collection! And while I can’t always remember what I did an hour ago, I can pretty much tell you each and every place I found or purchased these treasures. We remember what makes us feel good, don’t we?
Stones with words on them
Maybe you like a little more décor in your environment. So polished rocks with words on them are also available. I won’t go into how many I have that simply say “Believe” (my favorite word); but I do have one next to my bedside that says “Gratitude” as well as “Meditation”. Do you remember the book, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne? She mentions the magic of a gratitude rock creating a miracle. I’ll stop there. You should really get the book. We’ve all heard and read how feelings of gratitude can be healing. At the very least it will remind you to stop and feel gratitude at the beginning and end of your day just by gazing upon the stone.
Now your treasured find could serve as a worry stone. You know what I mean, right? It’s the kind of stone that fits into your grip so well you can rub it between your thumb and index finger for a soothing sensation. I’ve found natural stones that fit the bill but they’re out there in various forms. There’s a cute little retail shop on the way home from the north shore that sells small ceramic ones formed just right. They have words like “Namaste” as well as “Gratitude”, among others. One year this was my Christmas gift to each of my students.
You can also find various medicine bag necklaces to put your teeny tiny treasures in and wear them close to your heart. I have beaded ones and a couple leather ones with drawstrings. You can insert tiny stones, crystals, medals, herbs that smell nice or offer medicinal qualities—you get the idea. The medicine bag comes from Native American history and is often worn for maintaining personal harmony. Some include sage, sweet grass, or cedar—all healing, cleansing smudgeable herbs. Some include food items like corn or seeds or even flowers for the “medicine” they contain. Some might include a feather inside or out as part of the decoration. Buy one and fill it with YOUR personal mementos—only YOU know what resonates with YOU. And if necklaces aren’t your thing, but Native American art is, you can hang a typical medicine bag near where you’ll appreciate it most.
Blessing Bowls and Pyramids
One of my oldest and dearest friends gave me what is called a “Blessing Bowl” with an instructional booklet to “write down a few things you are grateful for. Fold the paper and place it in your Blessing Bowl. Every time you pass by your bowl or think of it, you will be reminded of your blessings. As you are thankful for your treasures, you invite more good things.”
Over the years, we’ve gifted several small holding containers to each other. I think the one thing I am most grateful for is her dear friendship over these 40+ years.
Pyramids are also a symbol of gathering energy and sending it upward. You can find small pyramids that are made of various crystals or that can open up for you to insert your list or other treasure inside.
Rosaries and Malas
I have a collection of prayer beads. I grew up with my favorite rosaries and still have these treasured gems—like the one I made my first communion with and the one my husband gifted to me that I held down the aisle at our wedding ceremony. I had planned to put my mom’s rosary inside a picture box with some fancy dress gloves and a veiled hat. Sadly, that project never happened. I recently discovered this collection of pieces in storage and immediately rescued the rosary from the box. It now sits next to me as I type. I believe it contains her energy. She touched this chain of beads more than any other person on this earth. So it’s like she’s right next to me. I know I can feel it.
My mom (in-law) wore her rosary out. She prayed on it daily, if not twice a day, as did her husband on his. We have those two rosaries together, as they should be, in a box. If you don’t think rosaries contain energy, well, think again. They’ve been a source of inspiration for both my husband and I for many, many years.
Now for the malas! I used to collect Neil Diamond albums whenever I accomplished anything exciting in my younger life. Once yoga entered my life, the spirituality of the practice did as well. I bought one of my first malas to commemorate achieving 500 hours of yoga training, and then again when I achieved 1000 hours of teaching yoga, and again when I was certified as a yoga therapist, and most recently when I graduated from 100 hours of Yoga Nidra training with Indu Arora last year. It’s become a “yoga thing” for me. Some would say a fetish, but let’s not go there. You see it combines my love of crystals with my love of yoga so this ritual is a bit unstoppable. I still say Hail Mary’s on most of my malas. Old habits are also rituals, aren’t they?
When was the last time you commemorated an accomplishment with a treasured something, something? It doesn’t have to be prayer beads.
Sacred and symbolic Medals
I am absolutely enamored with the story of St. Catherine Laboure and the miraculous medal. I have owned three medals, two from my childhood that traveled with me through life until I gifted one to a dear friend who needed a miracle at the time. One is embedded inside a prayer card I purchased at Holy Hill in Hubertus, Wisconsin.
I still wear the one medal on special occasions. When my mom (in-law) passed away, I realized that St. Catherine’s birthday was May 2 near the date of the funeral. So I wore it that day knowing mom would’ve been pleased.
St. Catherine’s story reminds me of so much—of faith, of my childhood, and most of all—believing in miracles. What makes you remember to believe? Surround yourself with that.
One time during a yoga therapy training, we were working with chakra energy (energy vortexes that correspond to our endocrine system—they’re in my logo) and using a pendulum to measure the energy of each chakra down our spine. I had purchased a hamsa necklace seconds before at the boutique open during the training. They hadn’t suggested removing jewelry so I was still wearing it. When the pendulum check got to my throat, the circular motion stopped and went very haywire, bouncing this way and that. I thought for a moment and figured let’s try removing the necklace. The pendulum circled beautifully around my throat chakra after I removed the hamsa. I kid you not! There’s something to it! Open hands are very symbolic.
I wrote about the hamsa before. Here’s a small paragraph from that blog:
“Amulets that are used for protection go back thousands of years. The open hand as a symbol of protection is universal. Symbols of divine protection based upon the open hand go by many names: Hamsa, Hand of Rachel, Hand of Mirium, and Hand of Venus/Aphrodite, among others. Hamsa literally means “five”. It predates Christianity as well as Islam. The Hand of Mary was used to protect women from the evil eye, boost fertility and lactation, promote healthy pregnancies, and strengthen the weak.”
My most recent purchase of a hamsa was, again, at a yoga conference (I need a jewelry anonymous meeting, don’t’ I?). It has a beautiful clear crystal wrapped just above it. It makes me feel downright protected when I travel long distances. Do you have a piece that you wear when you travel? Maybe you have something in your car for safe travel—perhaps a St. Christopher’s medal? I purchased one for my husband for our five year anniversary.
Speaking of Saints
I’ve mentioned a few of my favorite Saints here. For those of us that want a different kind of touchstone, remember the prayer card I mentioned above? You can find them dedicated to various Saints, some containing medals like my St. Catherine prayer card, some commemorating the passing of a loved one. Maybe you can find a special prayer card and post it in a special place to remind you of that special someone, or your belief in prayer, saints and angels. Perhaps place it on your bathroom mirror, or on your refrigerator. Where will you see it most?
I used to read a children’s book about the story of Saint Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes over and over each year. It’s the story of ‘Bernadeta’ seeing Marian apparitions at the grotto in Lourdes, France. Miracles, again, make an impression on me. How about you? I wish I’d kept that book when I moved out on my own. Sadly, I did not. But I still have a prayer card containing a cloth touched to a relic of St. Bernadette. It still means something to me. Do you have a favorite Saint?
I still own a statue of the Blessed Virgin from my childhood. It sits upon my dresser and is one of the first things I see in the morning. What do you see first thing in the morning? Does it bring you peace?
What makes YOU feel good? What memento brings you good memories? What reminds you to send a prayer to the heavens? Surround yourself with THAT. Then it will only take a moment to bring Spirit into your life when your eyes land upon your specially chosen spot.
A few of my favorite things
This is my third blog in the series I introduced a couple of weeks ago promising to send you simple rituals to invite Spirit back into your daily realm. I promised they’d take no more than a few minutes and easily fit into your schedule. I hope you enjoyed the first two blogs. Here’s their links if you missed them:
Now, on to this week’s topic!
If you aren’t regularly making time to connect to Spirit, Spirit won’t have a venue to talk to you because you obviously aren’t listening. It’d be like leaving messages and sending gifts to a relative or friend but never hearing back or getting an acknowledgement they’ve heard from you. Eventually you’d quit, right? The same goes for Spirit. Once Spirit knows you’re listening, the floodgates open! I am speaking from first-hand experience!
I like to take a moment in the morning to contemplate a question for Spirit—maybe it’s some advice I need. It could be before I get out of bed, perhaps just after I’ve meditated, or maybe after I’ve exercised and done yoga. I could chose my moment just after I light a candle, as I wrote in my first blog on this series. If mornings don’t work, you can do this practice in the evening too. As you can imagine, these random connections can happen any time you’re feeling like you need a fix!
Here’s a collection of ways to “dial up” Spirit:
“Sandy, have you been leaning on me lately?
For absolutely EVERYTHING?
Day and night, rain or shine, Gummi Bears or Gucci?
Sometimes a particular reading from these above-mentioned books resonates with me so much at the time because they’re spot on to what I asked about. So I’ll reread that particular passage daily for a while to let it really sink in. Why not? THAT’S the reason Spirit sent you the message, right? If it resonates in a big way, keep dwelling on that message!
Keep in mind that if the topics that interest me don’t interest you, any random reading from pretty much any book can carry a message. Try it. You’ll see.
If you prefer a different kind of random pull, you can use a deck of cards. I like to shuffle the deck until one pops funny. It could drop out, it could flip over, or it could just stick out in a unique way as I’m shuffling. Somehow it lets me know, THIS is the one! And then I always take the bottom card from the portion of the deck that’s still in my hand and do a two-card reading. If two cards happen to pop out, I’ll still grab the card from the bottom of the deck. I figure Spirit knows my M.O. and may have been trying to get that bottom card to me somehow! You don’t have to do it my way. I just thought I’d share.
I used to highlight my favorite decks in my newsletter. I have that many! There are many decks to choose from! There are even some readings you can find digitally—like here. (Native American wisdom)
Here is a small sampling of what I’ve highlighted in previous newsletters:
Many times the cards have a full message, but depending on your time, you can just read the summation or key word. Bing, bang, got it!
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what I own. I finally had to admit I have a fetish for them and stop buying new ones! I even started to train to read Tarot cards (I’m a work in progress!) They are fun, quick and I promise they’ll become one of your best resources to talk to Spirit.
They’re simple, quick and may be just what you’re looking for. There are affirmation calendars, horoscope calendars, even a word a day calendar can bring a message if you’re asking. Here’s a couple I use:
When I’m feeling disconnected from Spirit, these suggestions are like picking up the phone and literally dialing up Spirit (I may be aging myself with that term!). It’s like talking to an old friend and asking for their advice. No matter how long it’s been, Spirit remembers you.
It helps to be a bit centered prior to doing a random reading—at least for me. So remember to take a deep breath, think of a question or area of advice that you’re working on prior; and trust me, the responses you get will start to amaze you! Whatever portal you open to spirit, I promise you, the messages will come!
That didn’t take any time at all, now did it? Enjoy!
P.S. I’ll add here, that if you are exceptionally down and you DO have more time, you can always do multiple card readings, random book readings, etc. Sometimes I need a good talking to. Maybe you do too. So give yourself this gift of time.
Last week I introduced this series of blogs on easy ways you can bring simple rituals into your daily realm to invite Spirit back into your life. These rituals take no more than a few minutes and will easily fit into your daily schedule. And as I mentioned last week, if one doesn’t resonate with you, perhaps the next topic will.
Driving and Stress
Do you ever find yourself stressed while driving? Perhaps you drive to and from work during rush hour when traffic can get a little, shall we say hairy? It’s sometimes hard to stay calm as you notice how many other drivers are perhaps texting or simply wanting to drive right through you!
How do you insulate your nervous system from this onslaught of stress? It’s an important question because it’s the quality of life every day that creates your overall health, right?
Try turning off the radio and humming a favorite tune and if it happens to be a spiritual song, or one that reminds you of loved ones, even better.
When I’m driving and want to stay calm, humming some of my favorite songs brings me back to center. My go-to song to hum all year round is “Silent Night”. This song pops into my head immediately when I’m driving. Sometimes I find myself humming it before I’ve even realized I started humming—like the infamous “Pavlov’s dog” experiment. I get in the car and start to hum as I start to drive because my subconscious knows that’s my M.O.
If it’s a long drive, I have a playlist of sorts. “Silent Night” turns into “You are my sunshine”, which has a very emotional component, calling to mind my mom (in-law) as well as my great aunt (in-law), both of whom have passed. Next I hum “Que Sera Sera” which my dad used to whistle to himself. When I find myself missing him terribly (he passed away in 2003), I’ll hum the “Polish National Anthem”. My parents were both born in Poland and I went down the aisle to the Polish Anthem as a surprise gift to both sets of Polish parents. (My in-laws are also 100% Polish.) My dad could play this tune on his harmonica to his dying day (from Alzheimer’s). It was his favorite song and would always bring tears to his eyes.
Humming has a calming effect in and of itself but the songs you choose to hum will also add to the healing environment you are creating with the sound of your vocal chords. It’s like inviting my best friends into the car with me—my most supportive relatives surrounding me. The songs that have come to mind when I drive bring soothing memories and a reminder of important connections in my life.
Maybe it’s a spiritual song that brings you comfort. Maybe it’s like the ones I’ve chosen. Although it’s really more like they chose me!
I believe everything’s a sign and I’ve often thought the songs that have made it to my playlist are my relative’s way of reaching out to me when I need it, especially when the song just starts humming itself unprompted.
Then at other times I know that humming the tune by conscious choice will bring them to mind. And this conscious choice literally brings their spirit to me whenever I am in need of their particular message—like a calling card of sorts. Sometimes I just need a reminder of what their presence meant to me in my life to bring me back to center.
How about you? Do you have certain favorite songs that bring someone special to mind? Invite them back into your life by humming “their song”. They’re only a song away.
Some humming benefits
You know innately that humming calms your central nervous system. I’m sure you’ve experienced this before. This calming response is compliments of your Vagus Nerve which runs through your vocal chords to the base of your stomach. (Yoga activates the Vagus Nerve too, but more on that another day.)
I’ve read that humming enhances health and wellness by increasing oxygen in the cells. It lowers your blood pressure and your heart rate too! How cool is that? No meds required! Humming also clears toxins out of your body by increasing your lymphatic circulation, increases melatonin—the sleep hormone, reduces stress hormones, releases oxytocin—the love/trust hormone, releases feel good endorphins promoting natural pain relief, and also increases nitric oxide levels which is a molecule that promotes healing! Humming transforms us on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. (Source: The Humming Effect by Jonathan Goldman and Andi Goldman)
There’s a yogic breath called “bees” breath (Bhramari) that is one of the best breathing exercises to release agitation, frustration, or anxiety and helps get rid of anger. Could you use those benefits while driving? The exhalation sounds like a humming bee sound. So even if you can’t think of a tune to hum, you can try simply making this vibratory hum sound of a bee. (The full practice would suggest closing your eyes and placing your fingers in your ears, plugging them. Obviously you WON’T do this full practice while driving but you could hum a vibratory bee sound without the other details.)
Try it! You’ll see. Humming relaxes you in mind and body, reduces fear and worry; and keeps you grounded and focused. It’s kind of like your own white noise filling your mind with soothing tones vs. the monkey mind of chitter chatter your ego likes to go on and on about. I’ve read that humming helps you concentrate (some auditory learners need that white noise) among many other benefits. You may have read that our iPhones are taking our concentrative powers away! We have an antidote—humming!
Try humming a few tunes the next time you’re on the road and see if you arrive at your destination a little calmer, more centered and at peace.