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Latest articles

April 30, 2023

Ishvara Pranidhana is the fifth and highest niyama. In order to understand it, first we must examine the word Ishvara. The root of the word Ishvara comes from īś meaning "most capable" or "owner, ruler, chief"[12], while vara means (depending on context) "best, excellent, beautiful", "choice, wish, blessing, gift", or “one who solicits a girl in marriage".[13] Thus, Ishvara literally means “the most capable owner & ruler” or “the one who solicits life”. Ishvara in Indian philosophical thought really translates as “Lord”, as in, the personal, lordly aspect of God almighty. Isvara is the controller, the personal deemer of the universe.

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April 27, 2023

Svādhyāya is a compound Sanskrit word composed of sva + adhyāya. Adhyāya means “lesson, lecture, chapter; reading", and svā means "one's own self, the human soul". Therefore, Svādhyāya literally means "one's own lesson", or “the study of one’s own self”. Generally, svadhyaya is translated as the discipline of sincere inquiry into the nature of our own existence and our fundamental purpose of life.

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April 23, 2023

Tapas means “discipline” or “austerity”. It also literally translates to “heat” or “fire”. One common meaning of tapas is self-discipline, in the sense of deliberately resisting the natural urges of the body and mind in order to build heat and gain power in a certain aspect of life. For example, resisting the urge to snooze your alarm and instead get up to have a cold shower and meditate is an example of tapas. Resisting the path of least resistance, which is not always good for us, builds heat in the body and mind, and creates power and strength to enforce a positive, healthy habit. This heat burns away the impurities and weaknesses in body and mind and makes us strong, much in the same way that adding fire to clay makes it hard and strong. Tapas is the fire which burns all of the impure desires, greed, hatred and delusion that cloud the mind from realising one's true nature. Thus, in yoga, tapas is highly recommended as the sole catalyst of all spiritual growth. In some way or another, growth only comes from tapas, the internal purification born from the fire of self-challenge, of living out of our comfort zone, expanding our boundaries and opening our awareness.

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April 20, 2023

Santosha is the second of the five niyamas, and literally means “contentment”. To practise santosha means to be content with whatever is given to us, with whatever may be happening, be it pleasant or unpleasant to the mind and senses. Santosha means “satisfaction” or “fulfilment”. This word ‘fulfilment’ really does it justice, with this sense of resting in fullness, in wholeness, completeness, devoid from any lacking. Santosha is to realise that every moment is always complete, nothing is ever lacking. Rather, it is the mind’s habit of comparison that generates a feeling of lacking. The Buddha often referred to this reactive habit of mind. He said “I can not help you with the first arrow (what the world gives you), I can only help you deal with the second arrow (the suffering that we impose from our reaction to the first arrow). In this way, he taught that we will take knocks from life, that is inevitable. The first arrow will come. But what we can change is how we react to the first arrow, being the second arrow. He taught that the second arrow is really the killer. The first one is not that bad, and it also passes quickly. The second arrow is what leaves the deepest impression.

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