By Cindy Michaels
Throughout my yoga journey, I’ve been reminded that there really is no destination. There’s no end spot where I can say, “I have arrived.” It’s as if my GPS keeps leading me on new routes, twists and turns that embolden me to keep traveling, curious enough (and sometimes a little nervous) to explore what each path offers. Recently, my yoga journey led me to India where I dove deeper into my understanding of the ancient science of ayurveda.
As many of you know, I am fascinated with ayurvedic principles and how we can incorporate them into our daily self care and living. Ayuveda offers a holistic approach to complete health and wellness with a focus on nourishment and understanding food and its role in your life. Several years ago, I turned to Jaya Ramamurthy, who is a clinical ayurveda specialist in Atlanta, for an ayurveda assessment. I’ve since enjoyed a better understanding of my body’s needs through learning about the principles of ayurveda. Jaya has become a good friend and she has presented at several of our workshops here at Wrens Nest. As I’ve witnessed our community learning more about ayurveda, I’ve observed people soaking up the information and
wanting more of it. I’ve been thrilled that everyone is so eager to learn more, so when this trip to India presented itself, I embraced the opportunity with an enthusiasm for bringing back the knowledge to share with others. My training in India puts me on the path to becoming a certified ayurveda wellness counselor, which is the perfect complement to our offerings here at Wrens Nest.
So, on January 29, I boarded a plane to begin my journey across the world, eventually landing in Kerala, India at the Somatheeram Ayurveda Health Resort where I spent eight nights practicing yoga, meditation and undergoing ayurvedic treatments designed to rejuvenate my mind and body. I took a boat trip in the backwaters of the jungle and visited an elephant reserve and rehabilitation center. I was in the heart of where ayurveda originated and has been celebrated for hundreds of years. It was exhilarating!
It’s hard to describe in words the experience of watching the sunrise on the Sacred Ganges River among floating candles and flowers and witnessing pilgrims from all around the world journeying there to cleanse and heal, and to celebrate their loved ones at night in fire ceremonies. By sharp contrast to the poverty I witnessed and the harsh realities that exist in this part of the world, my journey also took me to the Taj Mahal, a monument built upon the concept of love and loving life. Both experiences were humbling.
While I learned so much about how what we put into our bodies has an effect on us, I also learned that what we remove from our bodies (and our minds) can be as nourishing to our soul as the most nutritious herb or healing ointment. At the beginning of our experience, we participated in a ceremony of sorts of dropping coconuts into a large concrete hole in the ground. The idea was that the coconuts symbolized an obstacle in our lives and by throwing them into the hole, they would break, meaning that our obstacles were tossed away, broken and unable to distract us from moving forward. It was a healthy way to start the trip — with an act of healing, to allow room for growth.
I selected my coconut, which was heavy and rough around the edges like the weight and grittiness of grief I’ve been carrying these last five years over the loss of my husband, Marty. It was time I let go of that grief so I could move forward. I stepped up to the hole and reluctantly tossed my coconut. All the ones before mine immediately cracked from the force and impact. Mine, however, bounced on top of the others and came back out of the hole, rolling away from me. I stood there in shock, looking at my instructor who assured me it was okay. It was not okay with me, however. I ran after that coconut, chasing it down with determination, finally retrieving it, gripping it tight, and I marched back to the hole. This time I mustered up the
power to forcefully throw it, watching it crack and split with both relief and longing. It was a transformative time during my journey, one that I needed to experience as the whole focus of my trip was developing a better understanding of what my body and mind need to be healthy. I realized then that this life we live is a marathon, not a sprint. We have to push ourselves to keep going. We have to fuel our minds with a determination to progress in health and wellness. It’s hard. Sometimes we have to chase the coconuts down until we have the strength to throw them.
This personal pilgrimage offered me a deeper understanding of ayurveda and myself, providing me with a more informed and beautiful experience upon which to draw from. I opened my mind to this culture where ayurveda was born, taking in all the new experiences with an open mind. While it was transformative in many ways, I came home to the comfort and familiarity of my traditional American lifestyle with a better understanding of other cultures. As I move forward in this ayurveda journey, I’ll be incorporating the health and wellness principles I learned in India in my private yoga classes, where my students want to learn more about practices for maximizing health and rejuvenation through nourishment and natural ways to cleanse the mind and body. I’m thrilled to share my growing knowledge of ayurveda with the Wrens Nest community. Please connect with me if you want to learn more.