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Reiki I Training - Healing for Yourself and Others

posted Jan 4, 2018, 7:23 PM by Susan Bernhardt   [ updated Jan 4, 2018, 7:31 PM ]

http://signup1.essencereikihealing.com/
Learn Reiki, a hands-on healing practice, to bring an improved sense of well-being to yourself and your family, friends, and pets. Reiki is a special method of supporting our innate healing ability that anyone can learn to use. Join Jon Bernhardt and me for this three-day training, which will give you the tools and knowledge you need to practice Reiki on yourself and others.

Find out more and sign up at www.essencereikihealing.com/reiki-trainings/reiki1training.

Friday, January 26, 2018 7-9pm; Saturday & Sunday, January 27-28, 2018, 1-6pm. Class size is limited to 8. Sign up now to save your spot.

Ayurveda Workshop Starting February 25

posted Jan 4, 2018, 7:19 PM by Susan Bernhardt   [ updated Jan 4, 2018, 7:19 PM ]

https://tinyurl.com/ayurvedawithsusan


If you’ve wanted to explore Ayurveda, or have started down that road but want some guidance in going further, join me for this workshop. Even if you've had a personal Ayurveda consultation, there's rarely the time to go in-depth into Ayurveda's time-tested wisdom on nutrition, daily routines, and other practices for living a life in balance. In this 24-hour workshop series at Samadhi Center for Yoga, we will delve into Ayurvedic concepts and practices that will allow you to determine steps you can take to move yourself toward balance and optimal health. We will work with Ayurvedic recommendations for diet, daily and seasonal routines, and more, individualizing them for your needs. The extended workshop format is designed to allow time for the participants to integrate Ayurveda into their lives, with guidance and support.

Sign up at https://tinyurl.com/ayurvedawithsusan. Please contact me directly if you have any questions.

To our health in 2018!

8 Sundays 2018, 9:00-12:00: 2/25, 3/18, 4/29, 5/20, 8/19, 9/16, 10/21, 11/11
Optional 2018 community gathering in between sessions; details TBA.

Motivation to Eat Better

posted Jul 30, 2017, 8:48 PM by Susan Bernhardt   [ updated Jul 30, 2017, 8:48 PM ]

If you are looking for motivation to eat healthier: a recent study found that healthy eating reduces depression. Other studies have indicated that there is a link between an unhealthy diet and depression, but this is the first study to look specifically at the effects on depression of moving from an unhealthy diet to a healthy one.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/…/clinical-trial-finds-diet…

I work with people on moving to healthier eating. The guidelines I suggest have much in common with the diet followed in the study, but are customized for each person based on Ayurvedic principles. For practical, effective suggestions to help you move from wherever you are to a healthier place, make an appointment at www.essenceayurveda.com/schedule.

Trip to India: New Awareness, New Appreciation

posted May 7, 2017, 11:32 AM by Susan Bernhardt   [ updated May 7, 2017, 6:02 PM ]

Free Medical Camp in Palghar
Free Medical Camp in PalgharFree Medical Camp in Palghar

My years of studying and practicing Ayurveda and yoga introduced me from afar to India. I anticipated that a three-week trip to India last month with my Ayurveda teacher, Dr. Bharat Vaidya, and his school, Ayurved Sadhana, would make everything feel more tangible and deepen my knowledge. The trip certainly did that. And much, much more. 

The majority of our trip was Ayurveda-focused: 
  • The school and those of us on the trip sponsored six days of free medical clinics that served over 1,200 people. The clinics served dual purposes: people received free Ayurvedic care and medicines, and we vastly expanded our knowledge, experience, and skills. The first clinic took place at the Ayurved Sadhana Clinic in Bombay, an ongoing charitable clinic sponsored by Dr. Vaidya that will continue to provide care to people we saw and others.  

  • We visited an Ayurveda teaching hospital, where we talked with doctors and Ayurveda medical students, observed patients being treated, and stood next to Ayurveda medicinal plants growing in their natural habitats.

  •  We attended a conference of Ayurvedic doctors in the rural district of Palghar, north of Mumbai, where we were honored to give presentations. I spoke on Yoga in America. 

  • We met with an Ayurvedic physician who founded a research foundation and a manufacturing company focused on formulating and proving the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicines.

  • We paid respect to the history of Ayurveda by visiting the Dr. Prabhuram Jivanram's Maha-Samadhi (place where he left his body). Dr. Jivanram played a critical role in establishing a high-quality educational program for becoming an Ayurvedic physician by founding of the first institute for the study of Ayurveda in Bombay in 1877, first Ayurveda college in 1896, and first Ayurveda university in 1929.  
 I'm still working on sorting through photos as well as thoughts about the trip, but for now I want to share a few observations and takeaways. 

Some Observations

  • The people we saw at the medical clinics came for far different reasons than the people who come to see me for consultations here. Here, stress, anxiousness, and insomnia are common concerns. Of the over 1,200 people we saw, only a handful expressed those concerns. We saw kids who looked like they were 7 but told us they were 10, and adults who looked like they were 55 but said they were 45. Many kids had signs of parasites, distended bellies, and other signs of malnutrition. The local doctors we worked with told us that we could expect nearly all of the women in one village to be anemic. And they were. People had skin rashes and ulcers that wouldn't heal, often from exposure to unclean water -- not just drinking it, but standing in it while working at their jobs. Back and neck pain were common, but instead of coming from long hours at a computer, the pain came from literally backbreaking physical work. 

  • The kinds of advice the doctors gave at the clinics differed from consultations here. Our counseling typically involves individualizing dietary recommendations and daily routines for a particular person, as well as working to resolve underlying causes while relieving symptoms. After all, as the Ayurvedic maxim says, if the diet is proper, the medicine is not needed; if the diet is not proper, the medicine is of no use. At the clinics, we saw people who truly could not afford proper food and whose obligations for home, family, and work made following Ayurvedic lifestyle guidelines unrealistic. Because of these limitations, the focus often became relieving symptoms with medicines, rather than the traditional approach of also addressing the underlying root causes. 

  • We use different types of Ayurvedic remedies. The medicines we provided were mainly pre-formulated tablets and syrups (arishtas and asavs) made by Ayurvedic pharmaceutical companies. Local doctors said that they tend to use these forms in their regular practices as well. At the conference we attended, the doctors seemed surprised that in the US we tend to use powdered herbs (churnas) that we combine into customized formulas, a very traditional approach and one that appears more uncommon where we visited. 

  • Despite the hardships and lack of resources, the people we met were generous, warm, and friendly. Many have next to nothing by our standards, yet they gave us gifts and welcomed us into their homes. We were privileged to attend the 50th wedding anniversary celebration of Anupama Vaidya's parents. AV, as she often is called, is Dr. Vaidya's wife, an amazing teacher of Ayurvedic and Indian cooking, and the driving force behind the school and our trip. Her family welcomed us as if we were long-lost relatives, from the time we arrived in Mumbai, to the anniversary extravaganza, and finally back to the airport to return home. 

  • Our hosts took time for ritual, thankfulness, and acknowledging people's contributions, rather than rushing into the next activity with barely a pause. When we landed at the airport, AV's family greeted us, at 1:00 in the morning, with beautiful flower garlands and a welcoming ceremony. At each of the clinics, which were organized in India by AV's sister, Dr. Ujjvala Kale, the day began with introductions, thanks, and more flowers given to each of us and the local doctors. The medical conference began with a ceremony, each speaker was thanked before and after speaking, and we were presented with plaques (mine says, somewhat over-generously, "Dr. Susan Bernhardt"). 
Some Takeaways 
  • Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. We have clean water coming from taps in our houses. We can drink it, prepare our food with it, brush our teeth with it, and shower in it. We have regular trash collection, sewer systems, and the ability to clean our surroundings. We can make choices about our lifestyles, even if challenging.

  • There is much value in taking the time to acknowledge others and to create and follow ritual. I, at least, can be more mindful and more generous with acknowledging and giving to others. 

  • We have the resources and opportunity to further Ayurveda as it traditionally was taught and practiced, perhaps even more than those in its homeland. This is an unbelievable gift, and perhaps even an obligation, that we are privileged to have. 
In the spirit of giving more public acknowledgments and expressions of gratitude: thank you to Dr. Bharat Vaidya and Anupama Vaidya for organizing this trip and founding a school based in traditional Ayurvedic teachings; thank you to Dr. Ujjvale Kale for organizing the clinics, being a guide for much of the trip, and for sharing your warmth, fun-loving spirit, and love; thank you to all of the local Ayurvedic doctors and others who visited with us, cared for the people who came to the clinics, and shared their knowledge and experience in order to enrich ours; thank you to those who visited the clinics, sharing your concerns and trusting our advice. Thank you also to other teachers who have shared their wisdom and helped lead me on this beautiful journey in Ayurveda, yoga, and healing, among them Dr. Sarasvati Buhrman, Shar Lee, Derik Eselius, Santosh Powell, and Baba Hari Dass and his senior students. 

Om shanti,

Susan


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Your Gut's Rhythm Can Affect Your Health

posted Feb 27, 2017, 3:25 PM by Susan Bernhardt   [ updated Feb 27, 2017, 3:36 PM ]

Western medicine is devoting significant efforts to understanding the gut microbiome, including how our foods and activities affect the biome and how the biome affects health. Take a look at this article to learn how new research shows that eating and sleeping habits can affect health by affecting the gut microbiome: https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-disrupting-your-guts-rhythm-affects-your-health-1488164400. According to the new research, the gut has circadian rhythms, and disrupting those rhythms can affect organ health and overall health. But, Western research cannot yet tell you what diets or mealtimes will help restore gut health and overall health.

Ayurveda has been addressing these questions for millennia. Ayurveda long has held that digestion is at the root of health and disease, and it's not just what you eat that affects your health. Other factors, like when you eat, how your food is prepared, and when you sleep affect your digestion and thus your organ health and overall health. One example: the liver has daily and seasonal rhythms. It performs its detox and repair functions at night, but only if it does not have to deal with digestion (which, in turn, requires you to have finished eating at least two hours, and often three, before bedtime) and are asleep. Ayurveda cleansing practices for the liver are viewed as best done in the spring.

Ayurveda has time-tested advice on specific diets, mealtimes, and more to help restore gut health and general health. There is no one healthy diet that fits all people all the time, or even you all the time.  The foods and preparation methods (steamed is not the same as raw) that worked for you at one point in your life or in another season of the year might not work now. If you want to explore food choices, preparation methods, and daily routines that can help restore your digestion and health, Ayurveda can guide your way.

Ayurvedic Advice for Dryness

posted Feb 27, 2017, 9:40 AM by Susan Bernhardt   [ updated Feb 27, 2017, 9:40 AM ]

A fundamental principle of Ayurveda is that like increases like and opposites lead to balance. When something is too dry, apply the opposite. With dryness, the opposite is lubrication, typically in the form of oil and moist foods, not just water.

Symptoms of excess dryness include the obvious, such as dry skin, chapped lips, and cracked heels. Signs that may seem less obvious but can be associated with dryness include anxiousness, cracking and popping joints, trouble sleeping, and constipation. 

Use Oils for Dryness
To counter any kind of dryness, opt for foods that are moist, soupy, creamy, saucy, and cooked with healthy oils, like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, or ghee. Avoid eating dry foods alone. In other words, if you are having tortilla chips, be sure to include some guacamole. 

Another effective strategy is to self-massage your body with oil before showering. If you tend to run hot, choose coconut oil or sunflower oil, both of which are cooling. If you run cool, sesame oil (be sure to get the untoasted kind) is a good choice because it is warming. Almond oil tends to be a little warming and so is a good, in-between choice. You can take anywhere from a minute to half an hour, applying oil to your skin and even your scalp. It is best to warm the oil up first. The oil dissolves dirt, so you won't need soap, except perhaps in the underarms and "private" parts. The oil will soak into your skin in the shower, leaving it silky but not greasy. To remove oil from your hair, apply shampoo
before wetting your hair. Be careful not to slip on your bathroom floor!

Oil pulling can help with dry lips and a dry mouth, and improve the health of your gums and teeth. Put about a tablespoon of sesame oil (again, untoasted) in your mouth and swish it around. Try to spend at least five minutes (it may take you a bit to build up to this). You can swish while doing other things, so it takes no extra time in your day. When done, spit the oil out and rinse with warm water. 

Ayurveda offers additional oil-based remedies for dryness, such as nasya (plain or medicated oils placed in the nose), oil in the ears, oil soaks on joints, basti (self-administered enema of herbal teas or oil, which are absorbed by the large intestine into the body), and more. Sometimes the oils are plain, other times I recommend oils that have herbs incorporated. 

If you'd like more information about any of these practices, I'll be happy to answer your questions.                                                         

Low Back Pain? MDs Say to Use Natural Remedies, Not Drugs

posted Feb 27, 2017, 9:34 AM by Susan Bernhardt   [ updated Feb 27, 2017, 9:35 AM ]

Lower back pain? MDs now agree: alternative and natural methods work best.

The American College of Physicians now advises that all kinds of low back pain should be treated with natural methods, not drugs. This goes for acute, subacute, and chronic pain. They even say to skip Tylenol for acute pain. It doesn't work any better than a placebo. Here's what does work according to the MDs: heat; massage; yoga; exercise, mindfulness based stress reduction (i.e., meditation), and other natural remedies.

Come see me for Thai massage, yoga therapy, Reiki, and natural topicals for pain relief. Thai massage, for example, uses massage techniques and passive stretching to release tight areas, potentially resulting in improved spinal and pelvic alignment. Heated Thai herbal compresses can add to the relief and allow for deeper work.

The massage work I do for low back pain is not generic. As a result of working with my own low back, sacroiliac joint, and pelvic alignment issues, and those of many, many other people, I've learned much about specific techniques that can truly address the imbalances causing pain. With or without the bodywork, I can recommend a couple of quick, yoga-type movements that you can do at home can help as well -- no yoga experience or flexibility needed.

To see more about the MDs' advice, take at look at this article: https://www.wsj.com/articles/no-drugs-for-back-pain-new-guidelines-say-1487024168?mod=e2f

Meditation Workshop

posted Aug 2, 2016, 6:17 PM by Susan Bernhardt   [ updated Aug 2, 2016, 6:17 PM ]

Meditation- a Four Week Course with Susan Bernhardt
Four Thursday evenings: Sep 15, 22, 29, and Oct 6, 2016 7:00 pm - 8:30 pmat Kosha Yoga, 1500 W. Littleton Blvd. Unit 110B, Littleton

This four-week meditation course will help you build a solid foundation to establish your own meditation practice. You will learn different meditation techniques from the Hatha Yoga and Tantra Yoga traditions, as well as breathing practices (pranayama) that help you in your meditation practice. This workshop is for you if you want to begin a meditation practice but want guidance, or if you already have a meditation practice but want to deepen or expand your practice. 

Cost:  $110 or $100 if registered by Sept 8th. 

Sign up here.

Ayurveda Tips for Spring

posted Apr 11, 2015, 4:45 PM by Susan Bernhardt   [ updated Apr 11, 2015, 4:45 PM ]

Even in dry Colorado, spring brings an increase in dampness and continued coolness. Signs of imbalance in the spring include allergies, spring colds, and feeling sluggish. In keeping with the Ayurvedic principle that like increases like and opposites lead to balance, spring is a time to move to a lighter diet and to engage in stimulating, healthy activities.

Counter the season's tendencies with a few adjustments to your daily routine and diet:
  • Favor light, warm, drying foods. Now is the time to move toward cooked greens (spinach, chard, kale, beet greens, dandelion greens, etc.), seeds, lentils, beans, and, as the weather warms up, leafy salads. Other good veggies include broccoli, asparagus, radishes, leeks, and artichokes. Among the grains, favor quinoa and millet. Both make a yummy breakfast porridge.  Buckwheat, corn, and oats also are good choices. Use warming spices, like ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, garlic, and chili pepper. For fruits, try apples, pears, plums, pomegranates, and rhubarb.

  • Stimulate the digestive fire. The digestive fire tends to be slower in the spring than the winter. Honor that by reducing the amount you eat. Eat only when hungry. To stimulate the appetite, drink a cup of warm lemon water, or eat a small piece of fresh ginger with a squeeze of lime juice, 20 to 30 minutes before a meal. Try a "juice fast" one day a week, with fresh veggies and fruits like parsley, carrots, beets, beet greens, broccoli, apples, or berries, and at night drink a cup of triphala tea (an Ayurvedic cleansing formula).

  • Limit heavy, cold, damp foods. Limit dairy generally, and especially avoid cold dairy such as ice cream. Also limit salty, sour, and sweet foods. Here's the good news: honey can be helpful; enjoy it stirred into a cup of herbal tea or warm water or your breakfast porridge after it has finished cooking.

  • Get moving. Now is the time to return to outdoor walks and other exercise. Get plenty of movement. Ayurveda recommends exercising to half your capacity every day. Help stimulate movement internally as well. Dry brushing with spa gloves or a loofah is a good way to move lymph and aid circulation. Work in the direction of lymph flow, from the hands and feet towards the heart. Use a neti pot to move mucus out of the nasal passages, helpful for preventing colds and allergies.

Spring Cleaning - It's Not Just for Your House

posted Apr 11, 2015, 4:42 PM by Susan Bernhardt   [ updated Apr 11, 2015, 4:42 PM ]

Just like spring is the season for cleaning house, it is the ideal season for cleansing the body. Cleansing practices are central to both Ayurveda and yoga. Ayurveda has five cleansing practices, known as pancha karma (“five actions”). Classical yoga has six cleansing practices, called shat kriya (“six techniques”).


Both pancha karma and shat kriya are believed to confer a number of benefits:
  • Removal of toxins (known as ama in Ayurveda), which can cause a wide variety of symptoms, such as allergies, asthma, immune system dysfunction, joint pain, low energy, and poor digestion.
  • Balancing the doshas.
  • Opening channels.
  • Renewing and rejuvenating the body, believed to aid in longevity.
  • Cleansing of the emotional and mental spheres, not just the physical body.
  • Making the body a more appropriate vehicle for the expression of higher consciousness.

Having trained extensively in both pancha karma and shat kriya, I believe in customizing a cleanse protocol for each person. The protocol can include elements of pancha karma and shat kriya, as appropriate for your needs and desires. I also customize herbs to be taken during the cleanse, dietary recommendations, pre-cleanse preparatory procedures (called purva karma), and post-cleanse rejuvenation (rasayana) recommendations.

Although many cleanse formats impose strict, and very restrictive, dietary requirements that can prove depleting or simply defeating, I believe in setting dietary guidelines that are workable for you and will ensure that you have adequate food to be energized throughout the day.  I am happy to provide whatever support is needed, from recipes to cooking lessons.

Finally, a cleanse can be tailored to fit the length of time desired, from 4 days to 3+ weeks, and will be primarily in your own home, making it affordable as well as convenient.

If you would like to explore undertaking a cleanse, please schedule an initial Ayurveda/Yoga Therapy appointment at www.essenceayurveda.com/schedule.

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