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This is Ayurveda
Ayurveda, the ancient sister-science of yoga, is the wisdom of life and vitality. It follows the rhythms and tendencies exemplified by Mother Nature in her simplicity. Would a seedling sprout away from the sun? Would birds fly north instead of south for their winter migration? Would animals of the forest and field not eat the food that nature provides each season? All plants and animals have the innate knowledge of how to maintain balance by following these cycles. If we desire balance in our lives, then we, too, must consider our natural tendencies and rhythms in body, mind, and emotions in order to harmonize them with the external cycles. We can swim upstream against the current of life or we can choose to turn around and go with the flow.

Through the lens of ayurveda we can see that all things in the universe are governed by three forces - wind, fire, and water. Vata, the elemental principle of wind, is cold and dry like the winter season, and it governs all movement and transition like sunrise and sunset, the transition between dark and light. Movement in the body is carried out through the nervous system, so vata is intimately related to the brain and central nervous system. Pitta, the elemental principle of fire, is hot and moist like the summer season, bright and intense like the peak of the sun at noon. Pitta governs transformation in all things. Just as a fire can transform wood into ashes, the fire of digestion can transform food into energy for our body. The elemental water principle kapha is cool and wet like spring or a misty morning. Kapha combines the lubrication of the water element with the stability of the earth element to create all the solid structures of the body - the bones, joints, and muscles.

These three forces are present in all things from a single cell to the cycle of the day or season, and they keep each other in perfect balance. Winter's dryness (vata) is balanced by the moisture of spring (kapha), and the cold accumulated in these times is melted away by the heat of summer (pitta). Then the cycle completes itself as the excess heat of summer is soothed by the cooling of the coming fall and winter. Opposite qualities bring balance. This is the basis of all ayurvedic treatment.

In the human body the same is true, because we are a microcosm of the macrocosm. The qualities that are present in the season and the time of the day permeate us. Do you ever wonder why we eat lunch at mid-day? The peak of the sun is the greatest time of fire in the day, and our digestive fire is also the strongest then. Have you ever struggled to pull yourself out of bed on a rainy day? The heavy dampness of the rain has made your body heavy and lethargic.

Ayurveda is the knowledge that we all possess and experience every day. If we take time to listen, our body's wisdom will tell us what we need in each and every moment. If you are feeling chilled, you seed the warmth of a fire or a hot drink. When you are hot from working in the sun, you seek shade or a cool drink. Opposite qualities bring balance. This is the knowledge can create true health and vitality. This is Ayurveda.

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Ayurveda holds the belief that the human body has the natural ability to heal itself.
The body detoxifies each night, and in order to prevent these toxins from reabsorbing into the system, one can follow a few simple practices first thing in the morning. These daily cleansing practices, or dinacharya, include drinking warm lemon water, evacuating the bowels, washing the hands, feet, and face, cleaning the mouth by scraping the tongue and brushing the teeth, cleaning the nasal passages with warm salt water (from a netti pot), and massaging the body with oil. The massage can be followed by a warm bath or shower to increase absorption through the skin.

Oil massage is one of the most important tools in the practice of Ayurveda. It has been used therapeutically for thousands of years in panchakarma, a traditional healing retreat that restores the natural state of balance to the body, mind and spirit. In fact, Ayurveda states that every human needs massage. A daily oil massage can increase blood circulation releasing areas of tension or pain and can improve immune function by moving the lymphatic fluids that carry wastes from the body. The oil lubricates the skin and acts as a blanket for the nervous system, calming the mind and reducing the effects of stress. Our skin, the largest organ of the body, actually absorbs and digests everything that is applied to it, so the oil is also nourishing the tissues. For this reason Ayurveda recommends that you never put anything on your skin that you would not put in your mouth. So the choice of oil is an important decision, because it is food

Any oil that is organic and cold-pressed is suitable for the body, but sesame oil is usually recommended, because it also has antiseptic properties. If you use sesame oil to massage the skin, you are cleansing the skin so you do not have to use soap (except on hairy parts of the body). This helps to maintain the natural oils keeping the skin soft and glowing, and it provides a natural immunity against virus and bacteria. Sesame oil is slightly warming, so coconut or sunflower oil can be used if the skin becomes itchy or irritated. Keeping the oil in a small bottle makes it easy to heat the oil in warm water before applying it. This quality of heat is important in the oil as well as the space in which you are doing the self-massage. If you are cold, the muscles will contract causing constriction of the blood and lymph vessels. Warmth is essential to relaxation and detoxification.

Abhyanga is the style of massage recommended for dinacharya. Before you begin, have your warm oil ready, sit in a comfortable place, and spend a few moments in stillness. Take a few long, deep breaths and notice any sensations that are present in your body. If you notice any discomfort in your back or neck remember to spend a little extra time massaging that area.

Begin applying oil to the abdomen in clockwise circles, this aids in elimination of the bowels and is soothing and grounding. Massage each joint with circular motions including the joints of each finger and toe. The largest concentration of nerves are in the joints, so this helps to calm the nervous system. Use long up and down strokes on the legs, arms, and torso to move the lymph. Spend some time massaging the head, hands, and feet in any manner that feels good to you. These areas have many marma points, or points of consciousness, which can help to energize the body and mind when stimulated. The whole massage could take 5 minutes or 50 minutes depending on your schedule. Then follow with a warm bath or shower and start your day with a greater connection to Source and Self. This connection is Ayurveda

Hands, Heart, and Being

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For most of us, the summer is the busiest and most active season of the year. Massage therapists and yoga teachers pack their schedules full, while those in the service industry work longer hours to accommodate travelers. Then there's the participation in outdoor activities like biking, swimming, kayaking, and other sports that fills up our free time. All of this extra activity has the potential to end up lodged as tension in the neck and shoulders. But how exactly does the tension get there? And more importantly, how do we get it out?

One major contributor to neck and shoulder tension that is often overlooked is tight muscles in the hands and forearms. Think of all the ways we use of hands repetitively day after day: driving, computers, carrying a bag, purse, or children, washing dishes, writing, painting, or creating, massaging, participating in sports. The list goes on and on, but how many times a day do you stretch out your hands? For many, the answer is never, not even one time in their lives. So the accumulated tension in the hands and forearms "creeps up" into the neck and shoulders causing stiffness, headaches and pain. But the connection also goes deeper than just muscle tissue.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, each finger relates to one of the five elements, ether (space) to the thumb, then air, fire, water and earth ending with the pinky finger. So each finger corresponds to the organs or functions in the body related to that element. For example, ether in the body exists in the larger spaces like the lungs and cranium, and the marma point at the tip of the thumb, hasti kshipra, enhances the flow of prana to the lung and brain, and relieves headaches.

The index finger relates to the air element, so it includes places that have movement through a hollow space (lungs and colon) and the movement itself, which is called a vayu. Tarjani marma point, on the tip of the index finger benefits the lungs and regulates the colon and apana vayu (the downward moving energy that carries waste products down and out of the body). Tarjani also balances udana vayu (the upward moving energy that controls exhalation, speech, cough, vomitting, etc.) with apana vayu.

The lungs and the colon have functional integrity, the lungs take in prana from the air and the colon takes in prana from our food. So if one area is affected, the other will soon follow. For example, lung congestion, cough, or sinus congestion is often accompanied by or caused by colon congestion/constipation. Interestingly, traditional chinese medicine also recognizes these same connections to the fingers and organs. The energy meridians that run through the thumb and index finger are the lung and large intestine respectively, and these two meridians work as a pair and have functional integrity.

The other fingers are also similar in each system. From an Ayurvedic viewpoint, the middle finger relates to the fire element and the small intestines, the ring finger to water and the kidneys, and the little finger to the earth element and the heart. The womb and the heart have been said to be one organ in two places. The womb has the creative power to build the structure (earth element) of a human being, while the heart holds jiva, or the soul, to help us feel and think. It's this connection of hands, heart, and our true being that is most interesting to me.

As we stretch our arms and chest, we release the muscular tensions that restrict our lung capacity. Then as the lungs open we are free to release the unexpressed emotions that have been trapped in our bodies. These undigested emotions, or mental ama (anything that is unprocessed), act as a veil over our true nature, our essence, which is love.

Think about the arms and hands for a moment and how they connect us with the world. We use our hands to nurture: we hug, we greet with a hand shake, we massage away pains, we soothe a crying baby by rocking in our arms. These are our expressions of love. We also use our arms and hands to keep the world at a distance when we are angry or sad. We may even strike out against someone with a hand or fist. These are expressions of imbalanced emotions or mental ama from past experience.

So a series of stretches and massage for the hands can not only improve the physical comfort in our bodies but also open the pathways to deeper healing on all levels of our being. As we open our hands, we open our hearts, and then we can experience our true being. As a wise person once said, "when the power of love overcomes the love of power, we will know peace".

So take a few minutes each day this summer to cultivate peace in yourself. Try these simple stretches. Hold each stretch for one minute, then massage each finger thoroughly, spending time on each joint and at the tip to stimulate marma (vital energy) points. Notice the difference after stretching one side, maybe even look in the mirror and notice if you see a difference in shoulder height or arm length. Then after finishing both hands, sit quietly, take a few deep breaths, and try to feel the connection between the hands, heart, and being.


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"I have been working with Whole Being Therapy since 2008 as an integrated element of my health regimen. Through Terrel's instruction and treatment my sinus, blood pressure, and muscle tension issues have been greatly ameliorated. In my opinion, his deep tissue and thai massage are unsurpassed, and I have recommended his work to many friends. I look forward to continuing my relationship with Terrel, and feel fortunate that Lakshmi's Garden is close enough for regular, as well as emergency work."
- Matthew Larkin, Richmond MA

"I have personally experienced Kim's massage therapy treatments and recommend her work without hesitation. Kim has not only mastered the techniques of various schools of massage and bodywork, she has the sensitivity and compassion to apply them correctly. She tunes in to her clients and helps them dissolve the tension and restrictions that hold them back from living more fully. Though relaxation and well-being are certainly primary, Kim's massage is also yoga in the original sense of the term, a way of unifying with the energy and spirit of life."
- Kenneth Cohen, author of The Way of Qigong (Ballantine Books)

"After a session with Terrel I feel open, lighter and walking is a joy! Terrel truly gives his all and has a strong but quiet, kind and caring approach to his healing work He has a devotional quality, his work, it is sacred"
- Angela Farmer, world-renowned yoga teacher

"I felt like a beloved member of the family. And through the skill and care of Kim's sessions and her love of ayurveda, I felt change occur and I remembered my essential balance."
- Dorothy Cochrane, yoga teacher, owner of Watering Pond Yoga

"Terrel is a tremendously gifted body worker and healer, He is exquisitely trained and highly intuitive and this is a really unbeatable combination. In addition to that, he is now bringing a very subtle understanding of Ayurvedic wisdom to his work, and this adds a whole new level of depth to his already world-class skills."
- Stephen Cope, Director, Kripalu Institute for Extraordinary Living.
  Author of the highly acclaimed "Yoga and the quest for the True Self" And "The Wisdom of Yoga."

"Kim's intuitive touch and respect for allowing the process created a sense of trust in me that allowed a "breaking apart" to happen."
- Shelly Williams, chef, owner or Haven Cafe and Bakery

"Terrel is the most sensitive, caring and talented body-worker I have ever encountered. Whatever the massage modality I want, he is the one I seek out to help ease the physical stress and strain of travel and my heavy teaching schedule."
- Sara Meeks, PT, MS,GCS

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Phone: 413-232-0276
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