By Vedika Global 2-Month Ayurveda Self-Care Course Graduate Serena Arora
It was February 2001 and I had been a full time French Immersion middle school science teacher for five years. I enjoyed my job and was also teaching regular yoga and fitness classes 3-5 times per week after work. I felt healthy and vibrant at the time but, looking back, I remember getting frequent colds throughout the year, experiencing emotional highs and lows, and seemed to always be ‘on the go’.
One afternoon, my seventh grade students were diligently working on their “glacial erosion’ projects when a young girl caught my attention. I called on her. She asked loudly, in front of the class, “Miss Arora, did you have crab for lunch?” I thought about the question for a moment, smelled my breath, and with a puzzled look on my face said, “Noooo…why?” She looked straight at me and said, “Because…you’re crabby,” and continued to work on her project.
It was in that moment that I knew that something had to change. I was responsible for bringing a particular energy to my classroom from which students were supposed to feel motivated to learn and to create. Until then, however, I was completely unaware of how my energy was affecting my students (and colleagues, I’m sure). I decided to request a one year leave of absence from the school division and, when granted, I set upon my journey.
At the time, I thought that I was taking time to travel, explore, and deepen my studies in Yoga, Thai Massage, and Ayurveda in Southeast Asia, India, Australia, New Zealand, and America. One year quickly became two, and a two year sabbatical manifested into a lifetime of learning, evolving, and sharing my gifts with others. I never did return to teaching middle school, but I am forever grateful to that seventh grade student who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. She was the catalyst who ultimately sparked a journey back to myself. And, 13 years later, sometimes I feel that this journey has only just begun.
Distant childhood memories of lessons in ballet, gymnastics, skating, skiing, swimming, and track tournaments all encouraged me to be ‘in my body’ early on in life. Being ‘in my body’ also meant that I was conscious of what I put into it. Plus, with a father from India and a mother from Malaysia, I was exposed to a diet full of variety and a gamut of flavors. Ginger, turmeric, ajwain, cumin, and cilantro were staple spices in our kitchen growing up and eventually snuck into western versions of pasta, main dishes, and soups when I started cooking for myself. You could say that Ayurveda was ‘in my body’ from a young age without me really knowing it; however, it was time to create a conscious and consistent practice of self-care, self-growth, and ultimately, self-love. And, turning 40 this year was the perfect motivation to fully commit.
Having dabbled in Ayurveda (Yoga’s sister science) over the years, it has added tremendously to my Yoga Sadhana (daily spiritual practice). I knew I wanted to embrace this broad art and beautifully crafted science more fully, so uprooting myself from a cold Canadian winter and being surrounded by like-minded people, fresh local ingredients, energizing climate, abundant opportunities for yoga, meditation, fitness, and, of course, the study and practice of Ayurveda was a clear decision.
Enter Vedika Global in Emeryville, California.
This gurukula (traditional school) style approach was a catalyst to helping live and breathe Ayurveda in a more consistent and practical way. The 2-Month Ayurveda Self Care Course helped me discover which foods, spices, herbs, and practices are appropriate for different seasons, according to their qualities, how they affect each individual, and help cultivate more balance and harmony in life. The most significant and consistent change that I have made is the time I get up in the morning and what I do in this time to prepare for my day.
I have been disciplined in a daily self-care practice (Dinacharya) every morning and have experienced the positive effects that it has had on my mind and body. Indulging in a morning Meditation and Yoga practice has helped quiet my mind and awaken my soul; Body oil massage (Abhyanga) helps me to feel more grounded and has kept my joints feeling well lubricated and strong – especially noticeable in my yoga practice! Nasal oiling (Nasya) and oil pulling have helped detoxify impurities (Ama) and subsequently boosted my immunity. I haven’t been sick this entire winter and spring seasons!
People who know me know that I love food (and eating), but Ayurvedic recipes that I have prepared in the past have never really been that appetizing to me; thus, I have avoided preparing them. The meal experience at Vedika, however, was a refreshingly different story and the meals (prepared for every class) were simple, satisfying, and delicious! I have now happily integrated these Ayurvedic recipes into my daily menu repertoire and aim to eat at the same times every day (not always easy, but our bodies love consistency).
All of these internal and external nourishment experiences have contributed to me feeling more calm, centered, and vibrant – ultimately affecting everything I think, say, and do, and allowing me to feel more grateful for each and every part of this journey. No more ‘crab for lunch’ for this gal – embodying a daily Ayurvedic self-care practice has helped me to now become more conscious of the energy that I bring to the classroom of Life. Now that sounds and feels good to me (and hopefully to everyone else around me). :)
Serena Arora is an E-RYT500, Professional Yoga Therapist and IYT Affiliate Trainer. She leads yoga teacher trainings and workshops at Thrive Naturally, her lakeside yoga studio retreat in Alberta, Canada, as well as in other parts of North and Central America. Read more about Serena.