aryuveda, essential oils, transcendental meditation, Uncategorized, wellness

Re-Entry

Native plants

I wrote about my idyllic time at the Raj at the beginning of last month, for which I am extremely grateful. Now it is time for my blog to catch up to real life… I learned all of these great techniques and now I am trying to implement them in my own crazy, hectic life. No one is cooking for me, making my bed, massaging oils on me, checking on my meditations. (Well, Amy kindly calls to check on me, and it is great having my mom to check-in with regarding all of this too.) But you get my point–life post-Raj is much more scattered, frenzied, and un-Zen.

In the end, I decided I was trying to implement too many life-changes at once. Yes, ideally, I would be waking at 6am for tongue scraping, oil pulling, nasya, garshan, abhyanga, shower, sun salutations, pranayam, and meditation. All before I prepare and eat my barley flakes with fresh fruit and tea. But somehow, this was not happening… So I modified it to garshan/abhyanga/shower every other day with salutations… Which has somehow turned into hey-I-brushed-my-teeth and have-taken-a-shower-in-the-last-three-days I’m good to go!

I want to get back on track though. I need to get “back on track”. Each of the self-care steps I outlined (along with daily NingXia Red, essential oils, a second meditation, and clean eating) make me feel better. Who doesn’t want to feel better?! So the battle of the old, entrenched habits against the new, healthier habits wages on. Sugar & Screen Time are currently in the lead; but I have hope that Meditation, Aryuveda, & Essential Oils will still come out triumphant in the end.

 

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aryuveda, Uncategorized, wellness

My Stay at the Raj (Part 4): Food/Yoga/Lectures

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If you know me in the real world, you know I don’t enjoy cooking. That statement is actually an oversimplification. I do enjoy cooking, sometimes. I think part of the turn-off for me is that it needs to happen so frequently and consistently. I prefer my creative outlets to be more spontaneous-as-the-mood-hits-me, than this-is-required-for-your-and-your-family’s-survival. So another thing I was greatly looking forward to with this trip was not having to meal-plan, shop, prepare, or clean-up for five days!

The food at the Raj is amazing. It’s aryuvedic and vegetarian. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, as that is when your agni (digestive fire) is at it’s peak. Meals begin with a shot of ginger or fennel juice as dictated by your aryuvedic consultation. Followed by chutney–often a pairing of a cilantro and an apple–and tea, again according to your dosha. Next we are served a cup of dahl (soup) often prepared with mung beans or lentils, always yummy. The main dish varied, but included: dark green leafy vegetables, other types of vegetables, rice or quinoa, crepe or chapata all seasoned with Indian spices. For dessert there were puddings, crisps, and even pie–made with fruit and coconut sugar. At the end of the meal we were given lassi (a yogurt drink) to aid in digestion.

Lunch and dinner are served in a room with a long group table that all of the guests at the Raj are welcome at. There is also private seating around the perimeter, if you prefer to eat alone or in a smaller group. There were so many interesting, friendly guests we mostly chose to eat with the group. Breakfast was served in a different area, buffet style with hot drinks, hot cereal, and stewed fruit. We also were able to attend two cooking classes with the head chef. The first was a discussion format about the importance of food. The second was a demo of a chutney and a crepe. Both were extremely helpful in showing me some ways to implement aryuvedic cooking at home.

Yoga is offered twice a day, making it possible for us to find a class that was outside of our treatment and meditation times each day. The class was quite gentle as the instructor understood we were detoxing and didn’t want to tax our systems. It consisted of sun salutations, self-massage, and asanas. I enjoyed them very much.

In the evening different lecturers come in to talk about a variety of topics. Our first night the topic was “Panchakarma”. This is the name of the detox we were undergoing. (Well, my mom and I opted for the PK Lite, but very similar.) The second night the topic was “The Importance of Silence in Sports”, though we opted out. The third night the topic was “Your Physical and Emotional Heart”. A compelling lecture by Helen Toomey. And the fourth night the topic was “Vedic Architecture”. Like our bodies, Maharishi felt it was important for buildings to be designed in harmony with nature.

The flow of our days felt very balanced, and I greatly appreciated the attention to detail from the fresh flowers and Indian music radio station in our suite, to the opportunities for physical/mental and social/solitary outlets outside of treatment times. The Raj staff were warm and accommodating throughout our stay. It was the perfect setting to learn transcendental meditation and aryuvedic practices.

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aryuveda, essential oils, Uncategorized, wellness

My Stay at The Raj (Part 3): Aryuvedic Spa Treatments

Spring Break 2018Yes, I selected The Raj because I was excited to learn Transcendental Meditation. Let’s be honest though, once I saw the spa treatment list, this is what I was gleefully anticipating in the months between our reservation and our trip! At my pulse assessment it was determined I would benefit from: two Abhyangas, two Shirodharas, an Udvartana, and a Pizzichilli! Wait until you hear what these exotic-sounding treatments are…

Abhyanga is a soothing oil massage done by two technicians performing the same movements on both sides of your body simultaneously. It is detoxifying and relaxing.

During Shirodhara a continuous flow of oil is poured slowly across your forehead to settle and balance the nervous system. The effect was sublime.

Udvartana is an energizing herbal paste massage also performed by two technicians in unison. The benefits are revitalized skin and improved circulation. It was my first treatment; I found it messy and I felt a bit like a piece of meat being prepared for dinner!

In Pizzichilli two technicians pour a constant flow of warm herbal oil in tandem over your entire body. This was the ultimate experience of luxury and relaxation! I am told it is very detoxifying as well.

The men’s and women’s treatment wings were separated. Male clients have male technicians, and female clients have female technicians. This helped me with some of my self-consciousness about being undressed in front of strangers. Other than occasionally fretting about my body or how similar some aspects were to preparing food; for the majority of the time I was able to give myself over to the magical sensations.

I wish everyone could experience these at least once. We all have toxins and stress to shed and everyone benefits from pampering and nurturing. The staff at the Raj does an excellent job of making you feel comfortable, and the treatments themselves are unlike any I’ve had elsewhere.

Being the aromatic-loving lady I am, I opted for the Aromatherapy session as well. The consultant had a lovely collection of essential oils and I was able to smell scents I don’t own in my ever-growing collection. I’m afraid she was a bit alarmed at my over-zealous approach to huffing oils. However, she identified some essences that would be good to support my wellness after I returned home from the Raj.

Also, due to an unfortunate accident involving hot barley water, I got a painful burn during our stay. The Raj graciously provided me with 100x wash ghee, which helped tremendously. (Along with the lavender, frankincense, and tea tree Young Living oils I had just happened to bring with me!) I also received a Maharishi Light Therapy with Gems session. Thirteen specialized light beamers shine thru different precious gemstones to balance and nourish the physiology.

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aryuveda, Uncategorized, wellness

My Stay at the Raj (Part 1): Aryuveda

The Raj

Download your own introduction to Ayurveda at: http://www.theraj.com/ayurveda/index.php

I am turning 50 next month. Wow, that feels really weird to type. However, it’s true. And as it seemed somewhat monumental, I uncharacteristically asked my beloved for a BIG present… a trip to The Raj. The Raj is an aryuvedic health spa in Fairfield, IA (of all the unlikely places). I went on this adventure with my dear maman, who has been wanting to go there for many a moon.

Ayurveda translates as “knowledge of life”.

On our first full-day we each met with aryuvedic health expert, Mark Toomey. The appointment begins with an aryuvedic pulse assessment. Aryuveda utilizes many pulses to determine an individual’s doshas (vata, pitta, kapha), sub-doshas, and to determine any imbalances.

The vata dosha governs bodily functions to do with movement. Pitta’s main activity is to control the chemical transformation processes. Kapha is mainly concerned with bodily structure. Once an aryuvedic health expert has done the pulse assessment, they are then able to make individualized dietary, lifestyle, and treatment recommendations for strengthening the body’s healing abilities and promote balance.

It didn’t take Mark long to ask me if I had kids–he said I had the pulse of a “harassed mum”. Um yes, and yes! My predominant dosha is kapha, with vata/pitta not far behind. My dosha imbalances are in vata & kapha. With this information Mark was able to create a personalized treatment plan for my stay (treatment details coming in part three of this series). To learn more about aryuveda and take a quiz to find your dosha(s), check out: http://www.mapi.com/

I mentioned The Raj is in Iowa. It is a lovely destination–a hidden gem nestled among the corn fields. Funny story: as we were driving there our GPS kept taking us on “Level B Roads”. Here are some pictures from the last harrowing leg of our journey, completed with our gas needle pointing at ‘E’ and lots of laughter!

Fair warning

Fair warning–should have heeded.

Not going well

Not the Mini Cooper’s usual terrain!

Abandon ship

When our car bumped into the “Bridge Closed” sign that had toppled over (you can see base lower center), we abandoned ship, reassessed, and turned around. 😉

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