Former Birch Bay resident Juliet Jivanti, r., takes a pulse reading for Josh Roark, of Bellingham, as part of her Ayurvedic practice in Bellingham. Jivanti, who taught yoga for several years in Birch Bay and Blaine recently produced an instructional Ayurvedic yoga DVD. Photo by Tara Nelson
A former Birch Bay resident and Ayurvedic practitioner has produced an instructional Ayurvedic yoga DVD filmed on location at Birch Bay.
And just what is Ayurvedic yoga? Bellingham practitioner Juliet Jivanti says unlike the popular Bikram, or hot yoga, which uses warm room temperatures of up to 105 degrees, Ayurvedic yoga is gentler and is individually tailored to a person’s body type and temperament according to three major Ayurvedic physiological types or “dosha” profiles.
Jivanti recently produced “Yoga For Your Body Type,” a comprehensive, 100-minute instructional DVD for her clients to use at home. The video features three segments – one for each body type, or dosha. The DVD is $27 and available to anyone by visiting, www.AyurvedicHealthCenter.com
“It’s paying attention to everyone’s constitution and doing yoga rather than just a scripted routine,” she said. “Ayurveda is all about the individual, and I love that because statistics might be for 60 percent of the people, but you have to wonder if you’re in that 60th percentile of people.”
Jivanti moved to Birch Bay with her husband six years ago from Laredo, Texas, after teaching yoga at Texas A & M University. Prior to that, the couple had lived in Seattle, and she said they moved to Birch Bay when they decided the Northwest was “the best.”
She later moved to Bellingham, where she opened Aryurvedic Health Center at 203 W. Holly Street in downtown, offering one-on-one consultations, massage, yoga and Ayurvedic treatments.
“Ayurvedic medicine takes a comprehensive look at the physical, mental and emotional health of a person, as well as their lifestyle and diet,” she said. “It’s always looking to find the root of the problem, rather than just treating symptoms.”
A former international consultant in the geographical positioning system (GPS) software industry, Jivanti said she became interested in Ayur yoga a few years after discovering Bikram yoga in 1997, which eventually led to an interest in Ayurvedic medicine and lifestyle consulting.
She also studied at the Kerala Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, under the Ayurvedic doctor Vasant Lad.
“The first class, I totally fell in love with yoga,” she said, adding that she was initially drawn to the Bikram style because of her predominant Pitta, or fiery disposition according to the Ayurvedic profiles, but later chose a gentler style to balance herself out. “One of the basic principles of Ayur yoga is the concept that like attracts like. So you’re drawn to things that you already have a lot of. But in order to balance ourselves we need something that’s the opposite.”
She earned her yoga-teaching certification from Yoga Alliance, an international professional certification organization, and her group fitness training certification from American Council on Exercise.
Jivanti said Ayurveda treatments are based an individual’s unique body compositions and temperaments known as “doshas,” as well as the idea of like attracts like.
Each person’s body type can exude more than one of the three main dosha profiles, but most often some elements predominate.
A person with a strong Pitta element, for example, could exhibit “fiery” qualities such as a high metabolism, quick digestion, hot body temperature, as well as a larger appetite and thirst. An imbalance of Pitta, could result in anger, criticism, judgment, indigestion, heartburn, or inflammation.
In an effort to minimize imbalances, Ayurvedic treatments prescribe the use of diet, lifestyle adjustments and gentle, natural treatments that help bring balance to the individual.
One treatment, “Netra Basti” ($75/ one hour), for example, utilizes warm, herbalized ghee, similar to clarified butter, applied to the eye area to release stress, tension and fine lines. The 60-minute treatment reduces both Pitta and Vata doshas and includes treatment on both hands and feet to balance energy points.
A second treatment, “Shirodhara” ($85) involves pouring warm herbal oil over the center of the forehead between the eyebrows, known as the “third eye,” to soothe the nervous system and induce a sense of well being, balance emotions, and reduce the Vata dosha, the excess of which tends to manifest in fear, anxiety and worry.
Jivanti said while some of the treatments may seem esoteric to those who are unfamiliar with the history of Ayurveda, the majority of treatments are meant to be preventative and restorative, using gentle and herbal remedies and lifestyle adjustments.
“If you don’t know the history of it, it can seem a little confusing,” she said. “But the reason I love it is because it’s something that’s been practiced for more than 5,000 years and refined. So it’s not like ‘Oh, this might work and then 10 years later, we find all these side effects.’”
Winter dosha balancing tips
According to Ayurveda, in order to maintain health throughout the winter season, it is best follow the tips below. The reason is that like increases like and opposites balance. Therefore, Jivanti says during wet, cool, damp weather with limited sun, individuals should keep their digestion strong and bodies moving in order to minimize the accumulation of toxins.
• Favor warm, cooked, spiced foods and limit iced drinks, and cold food – especially ice cream – until the weather heats up. Fresh ginger, cinnamon, black pepper and turmeric are excellent additions to the diet. Ginger, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, can minimize respiratory conditions while cinnamon is used to increase circulation and regulate blood sugar, black pepper improves digestion and turmeric is a powerful antioxidant. It is also wise to limit dairy products during the winter if an individual is experiencing mucus or congestion.
• Rise early. Although it takes a bit more effort to get out of bed when it is still dark outside, it is well worth the effort. It is best to be up and active by 6 or 7 a.m. Ideally, exercise first thing in the morning in order to start the metabolism burning for the rest of the day and enliven the body and mind, she said.
• Oil Massage. Not everyone can afford to have a weekly massage, but everyone can all learn how to utilize the traditional abhyanga self oil massage.
Jivanti says the reason that Ayurveda employs this time tested tradition is because it is a simple, affordable self care method which promotes vitality. It is as simple as covering the body with massage oil as often as possible.
Jivanti says when individuals age, their skin becomes thinner and drier. These practices help keep joints mobile, the muscles flexible and the skin beautiful.
For more information, visit www.AyurvedicHealthCenter.com.