Your Ayurveda Questions answered by my friends at Pukka Tea

You are about to get the real scoop on what this ancient medicinal science called Ayurveda by my friends at Pukka Tea and find out why it is something very very important to me!

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What is Ayurveda and the power of herbs.

Can you briefly describe Ayurveda? And Ayurvedic medicine?

Translated as ‘knowledge of life’, Ayurveda is a holistic Indian philosophy offering a ‘Users Manual’ for how to get the most out of life, by balancing body, mind, senses and spirit. It offers a very simple approach, without being simplistic. Ayurveda sees that we are all quite different and brings you special insight about your health and well-being, informing your choices and decisions that you make every day. For example, did you know that raw food is seen as better for one type of people than others. And that Hot yoga is best for just one of the types? Ayurveda has been practised in India for over 3,000 years – and its wisdom has now spread all over the planet.  It remains one of the world’s most powerful mind-body-spirit health systems. Ayurveda helps us see how our health is connected to everyone and everything around us: our family, our work, our society, and our planet. The Ayurvedic toolbox covers diet, natural remedies, lifestyle practices, rejuvenation and detoxification processes, hands-on therapies, as well as meditation.  But be warned… there are no ‘quick fixes’ as Ayurveda is a way of life rather than a short-term intervention. There are also not many ‘one size fits all’ solutions. For example, not everyone needs breakfast first thing according to Ayurveda!

What does dosha mean?

The Sanskrit term ‘dosha’ is probably the best-known principle of Ayurveda today and forms the cornerstone of its method of diagnosis, prevention and treatment of health issues. Essentially, Ayurveda sees that everything in the world is made up of 5 basic elements which are ether, air, fire, water and earth. Vata is composed of air and ether, Pitta of fire and water and Kapha of water and earth. The three doshas govern all our physical and mental functions- appearance, mental state, memory, digesting elimination, individual likes and dislikes, as well as hinting at which health problems we may be more susceptible too.

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What can our doshas tell us about ourselves?

Good health seems to be such a complicated subject that it is not always easy to know how to achieve this holy grail. The key to unlocking Ayurveda’s self-help find out what your ‘dosha’ or body-mind type is (Vata, Pitta or Kapha). These can be thought of as a particular pattern of energy, or health star sign. The three primary energy patterns in our body, or doshas, are: wind or vata – that is cold, dry and light – is the force that controls our movement, regulates the nervous system, and oversees elimination of waste; fire or pitta – that is hot, wet and combustive – is the force that controls our digestion and metabolism; and water or kapha – that is cold, wet and heavy – is the protective force which governs stability, structure and moisture in our mind and body. Although we’re all born with all three doshas, they come together differently in each one of us, and it is this unique combination that makes us who we are. Typically, every person has one dominant form of dosha that makes up his or her personal Ayurvedic constitution or prakriti. We are all a mix of each of the dosha but one or two will dominate. It takes a little time to discover your dosha and the art of living in harmony with nature. You’ll then be able to know what helps you thrive; what foods to eat, how much sleep you need, what exercises are best for you (including which type of Yoga!) and even how you interact with others in your workplace, relationships and families. Ayurveda offers life-changing insights that will add clarity and colour to your life. For example, Vata types have variable appetite & digestion, and are often attracted to raw vegetables and salads. However, they are balanced by regular meals of warm and nourishing food- think one pot meals such as soups, stews, casseroles, and the Yogi dish of kitchadi.

What plants are used in Ayurveda?

Ayurveda has many ‘hero herbs’, so called because they can each bring so many benefits to body and mind. Triphala is a great example. This ancient Ayurvedic formula combines three fruits- Amlalaki, Bibhitaki and Haritaki, each of which balances one of the doshas so it’s good for everyone. Triphala has long been revered in Ayurvedic traditions as a decongestant for the digestive system and for cleansing the blood, helping to extend the quality and quantity of life. It is even safe enough for children and can help with a wide variety of digestive complaints. Some Ayurvedic doctors in India just used these three fruits in different ways to heal. Modern research tells us it has a high concentration of active polyphenols and tannins, with a strong ant-oxidative effect. Other key herbs include Ashwagandha and Shatavari which are both powerful adaptogens, helping us adapt to the stresses and strains of 21st century living. For the Yogi or Yogini, both Turmeric and Tulsi are especially helpful. Turmeric is become famous all over the globe for its ant-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effect. It can really help with the physical asanas, as well as contributing to a healthy gut biome and rejuvenating the liver, blood and skin. All from one herb! Also known as Tulsi, Holy basil is a sacred herb, celebrated for its inspirational properties. Helping to lift your spirit and clear mental fog, it provides an antidote to the stresses of modern life that can lead to depression, low mood and a lack of ‘mojo’. Studies have shown that Holy Basil decrease levels of key stress hormones, such as corticosterone. It’s also an apoptogenic herb that increases circulation in the brain and can support a meditation practice.  These are some of my favourite herbs that I use in my Ayurveda clinic, but there are so many more helpful herbs that are also on most people’s spice racks- ginger, cinnamon, fennel, cumin, saffron, black pepper- all have powerful health benefits when used regularly, from good organic sources. Ginger has so many benefits, for example, that it is known as ‘the universal medicine’ in Ayurveda. Pukka Herbs is unique in using medicinal grade herbs in all our herbal teas and lattes- so the same herbs used in our supplements also go into the drinks, meaning you get therapeutic benefits from every cup.

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How is Ayurveda connected to Yoga?

They can be thought of as sister sciences, as they have developed together and have repeatedly influenced each other throughout history. Traditionally they were always used together but this has not been the case in the recent West. Yoga’s popularity has grown since it was brought to the West at the end of the 18th century. Ayurveda was left behind but is now catching up! There are some great books on this connection, such as David Frawley’s ‘Yoga and Ayurveda’ and Mukunda Styles ‘Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy’. It is said in Ayurveda that disease is the result of forgetting our true or spiritual nature. Yoga is the science of self-realisation that depends on a body and mind functioning well. Both sciences exist to help people re-connect to their true nature- Ayurveda is the healing side of yoga, and yoga is the spiritual side of Ayurveda. They are two sides of the same coin.

What does it mean when our doshas are out of balance?

It might be helpful to first talk about how we are when the doshas are balanced. Sleep is easy, and we wake naturally feeling refreshed; we have a good appetite, food is easily digested and eliminated with a regular bowel movement before breakfast. We have sparkling eyes, glowing skin, a calm, clear mind and feel cheerful. We have enough energy to work and play, with good immunity.  Ayurveda views that the human body, when healthy, is in harmony, self-perpetuating and self-correcting just as the universe is.  We get unbalanced through diet, emotions, lifestyle, seasonal factors, physical trauma, and toxins. When vata dosha gets out of balance, we are colder and drier than normal so may suffer from bloating, constipation, dry skin, insomnia as well as increased fear and anxiety. Imbalanced Pitta can lead to skin problems and rashes, acid digestion and acute inflammation, as well as feelings of anger and frustration. Too much Kapha in the body can cause a thick, white coating on the tongue, excess mucous, weight gain as well as feeling mentally foggy and slow. Ayurveda advises on the right diet, lifestyle, herbs and treatments to bring each doshas back into balance. To take a simple example, a person with a cold is suffering from congestion and mucous due to excess water and earth elements in their system. To alleviate symptoms they take ginger tea, predominant in the fire element. They would also do well to avoid dairy and cold foods which make congestion worse.

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Can our doshas change over time?

Although we’re all born with all three doshas, they come together differently in each one of us, and it is this unique combination that makes us who we are. Typically, every person has one dominant form of dosha that makes up his or her personal Ayurvedic constitution. This can be thought of as our true nature. However, it can be hard to stay balanced with busy schedules and eating on the go. When the doshas start to get out of balance, health problems start. It can be hard to work out who you really are, from a state of imbalance but Ayurveda is like peeling off the layers of an onion-the more you explore and experience, the better you get to understand your true nature and how to thrive!

Are our doshas related to our DNA?

A great question! The science of genetics is evolving rapidly but broadly our DNA doesn’t change (unless exposed to certain toxins or radiation). Similarly our Prakruti, or true nature doesn’t change. Both our DNA patterns and doshas are set when we are conceived and are determined by factors such as our parents doshas, their mood and the time and place of conception.  However,  our state of imbalance is always changing. What is fascinating is that there have been some studies looking for genomic variations between people who are Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas.  Scientists have found significant differences between people with different dominant doshas irrespective of their ancestry. Studies like this are helping to confirm that the ancient art of treating people according to their dosha has a genetic basis and is just as relevant today when thinking about more personalized approaches to health and healing.

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Sarah Levey, Co-Founder of Y7 Studio shares with a bit of her Savoir Vivre

Today JJ is chatting with Sarah Levey, Co-Founder and CEO of the super dope New York-based hip-hop yoga studio called Y7 Studio. This chick is an innovator, entrepreneur, 200-hour registered yoga instructor, author, and certified Health Coach. Yep, alllllll dat.

After working in Fashion for five years, (remind us of anyone else?) Levey launched Y7 at 26. Since launching in 2013, the Y7 brand has expanded to a super successful bicoastal business with ten studios across New York and Los Angeles!!!! Uniquely positioned—Y7 classes combine 60-minutes of intensity with heat and strength, complemented by deep breathing to calm the mind, all while set to the latest beats (think A$AP Rocky, Rihanna, Drake.) Levey’s goal? Make the practice of yoga more accessible and inclusive in attitude and design, with dark rooms and zero mirrors to eliminate the distraction of physical comparison.

This fabulous lady was named an All-Star Entrepreneur of 2018 by Inc. Magazine and has been featured in Forbes, Vogue, Bazaar, Entrepreneur, Shape, InStyle, Refinery29, Women’s Health and tonzzz more, Levey has earned her success with pure drive and dedication.

Let’s see kinda Savoir Vivre she has to share with us.

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Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Did you go to college and if so, what did you study? 

I went to the University of Wisconsin, Madison and majored in Consumer Science.

What did you do prior to Y7?

Before Y7 I was working as an account executive in fashion. I was at a brand called ADDISON for three years before moving on to a multiline showroom until I made the decision to pursue Y7 full time.

What is your beauty routine? What products do you use?

My beauty routine is pretty minimal. For the morning, I wash my face with Cetaphil and then use an SPF moisturizer, Elta MD, RMS Living Luminizer highlighter, Glossier Boy Brow and I am out the door. Because I am always popping in and out of the studios for a class, I try to keep my daily routine very minimal. At night I wash my face again with Cetaphil, followed by Caudalie Vinoperfect Overnight Renewal Cream.

How do you eat? Do you have a specific diet? 

I have no diet, but I wish I did.

Are you based in NYC? 

Yes! I spend most of my time in NYC and am in LA for about a week out of every month depending on my schedule.

How many times a week do you practice yoga?

I try to get into the studio about three times a week.

What’s your favorite restaurant in NY?

Lucien.

And in LA? 

Croft Alley.

Ideas for expansion? 

We are looking to expand in a ton of different cities in the US! Chicago, Philly, DC and San Fran are at the top!

How does Y7 shape your individual philosophy on the yoga experience? 

Y7 was created out of my philosophy on yoga. It should be carefree, intuitive to your individual body, and beneficial to the mind and body. Allowing you to take what you learn in class into the world.

What advice would you have to a young entrepreneur? 

Laugh at yourself, nothing is ever going to be the end of the world. :)

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Good Vibes with Ingrid Seynhaeve, former Top Model and founder of June 7.2

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Who?

Ingrid Seynhaeve!!

Ingrid and I met at Studio Pier 59 in New York City when she was working as a model and I was helping to assist on the job. I immediately adored her infectious laughter and her very sweet and calm sincerity. Today we are here at brand June 7.2’s showroom and her Parisian home in the 16th arrondissement of Paris to talk about what she does to keep those good vibes flowing and that smile beaming.

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Tell us a little bit about where you?

Belgium, in a small little village (only 10,000 people) called Nenen on the border of France and Belgium, it’s near Bruges. I never moved as a child and family still lives there! I literally went on a plane for the first time for my first modeling job when 16 and I was so nervous that I threw up the whole way. I also got incredibly lost at the airport. I didn’t even know what a gate meant.

Your career?

My father was super strict and would only let me model on weekends and school holidays, but somehow I managed to make it work. When I turned 18, my agency chose me to represent Belgium in the Global Contest – Elite Model Look. The finals were in New York and I went, with only 100 dollars in my wallet. At the time I even was signed up for Economics and Languages at University, plans of being a fulltime model were not a part of the plan… But funny enough, I actually won the competition. When I called my parents to tell them the “good news” they were incredibly devastated and all around shocked … But I decided to stay in New York after the competition and I didn’t end up leaving for 17 years.

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Your man?

I met my husband, Gio in Paris when she was shooting a movie. He had lead role and decided to kiss me in our scene together, except that it wasn’t a part of the script… I complained to the director, but Gio managed to persuade him to keep the scene. I guess after all the kiss was meant to be there J 3 months later he asked for my number, (he needed a Belgium model for his movie.) This is when the romance began. We did back and forth for 8 years. He lived in Paris and I lived in New York. It was kinda tricky, so when our second son Hayden was born, I moved to join Gio with the kids in Paris. We’ve been here for 7 years, but now its time for a new adventure! Miami baby.

Your alarm rings at…

7 :30 am.

What’s your first thought when waking up?

That’s an easy one – that I haven’t slept enough. Even though I need a lot of sleep, there’s always something going on. And I need my TV at night. So the TV turns on too late and I go to bed too late and then I’m tired the next day. The crazy cycle of my crazy life!

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How do you start the day with good vibes?

I take a deep breath and realize that I am damn crazy lucky. My family is healthy, I am healthy and everything else is extra. I have lots of gratitude. Gratitude for the beautiful day that lies ahead and I always always start the day with a smile. 

Your breakfast?

I start the day very fresh and nutritious. It’s usually granola, and fresh berries with hemp milk, goji seeds, hemp seeds and oatmeal. Oh and let’s not forget my coffee. I really need my coffee.

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Your spiritual side?

I love the 10-minute meditation – “10 Minutes of Happiness.” In an ideal world, I do the 10 minutes in the morning. I should wake up earlier to do this but it’s usually pretty hard. And if I wake up at 7:30 there’s no time for meditation. So this doesn’t happen as much as I would like, but I try and make up for it later in the day. I try and make the time for my 10 minutes of happiness everyday!

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How you stay fit?

I love Barre flow, Pilates and Yoga. I go to Le Tigre Chaillot at least 2 times a week. I actually really really love Pilates; the machines are my go to workout. This keeps me centered and balanced.

Your beauty secrets?

I have a facial every 1 to 2 months, with extractions and peelings at the end. But for more frequent skin refreshment, I scrub once a week and do a fruit enzyme mask and a glycolic mask every two weeks. For me, it is essential to take care of of my skin. My favorite products are from Christine Chin and Doctor Obagi (his under eye skin care is magic). As for masks, I like pretty much anything from Whole Foods. My absolute favorite brand is Clarins! Everything they make and do is just magic!!

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Your perfect morning?

I’m excited because because this will happen everyday when I move to Miami! My day will start with stretching on the terrace, looking over to the sunrise on bay with a couple of sun salutations. Pure bliss. Then time for coffee and to get the kids ready for school. After I drop them off I will do my Pilates workout and have a fresh breakfast of local fruits, grains and cold pressed juice. What could be better?

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Self-love when you travel?

When I travel I actually have more time to take care of myself. To disconnect, I read on the plane – it is my moment of solitude. I almost always book a massage when I get to the hotel and then I do a bit of shopping therapy. I love to treat myself when I am away even if it’s for work! This includes meditation. When I’m traveling I find the time to meditate. Breakfast is also a very important moment on my travel schedule. I make sure to have a lovely and healthy breakfast. If I can’t find something healthy on the menu at the hotel, I google to see where I can have a nice acai bowl or a cold pressed juice. Starting the day on a positive note is essential. This is why I even run in the park in a local park when I can. Getting oxygen flowing to the brain is so good. It’s perfect for attacking a busy day!

Current mantra?

To see the positive side of everything and learn from criticism. To see through the maladroit. To learn.

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Ingrid Seynhaeve is the fashion designer and founder of Parisian clothing brand June 7.2. This former top model will soon leave her Parisian life behind for a new chapter in Miami with her husband, Gio Iera, founder of franchise IT Trattoria and two sons Hayden and Lukas.

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ON LOCATION – My Retreat in Amorgos

04720ee0-8255-4299-8838-ac1b10457d1dOh sweet paradise. Amorgos. How you treated did me well.

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Just a couple of short weeks ago I spent one full week on the Greek island of Amorgos. This prolonged moment of solitude and grounding nailed my two feet to the ground. Amorgos came to me by virtue of Aria and Gus, my yoga coaches, for a retreat that I will never forget. I discovered the mystical Warrior Yoga at my Parisian yoga studio, when I stumbled upon this rather intense, very cardio style of a vinyasa flow. It was love at first flow. The combination of abs, vinyasa and inversions was my happy place. Such a happy place that I was quickly swept away to Puglia in Italy for my first yoga retreat. Amongst laughter, fun and sweat I came back to Paris with a new vision on my life, one that I would fully discover a couple of months later when I decided to leave the fashion industry. I came back mentally lighter, and lacking my passport and cellphone which were consequentially stolen at the airport …yeah. I must haven feeling pretty zen if I was able to singlehandedly have my beloved iPhone stolen for the first time along with my passport. Praise B for my carte de séjour, which saved the day – it let me cross the French border.

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So really strangely enough when I came back, surely based on my new outlook and good vibes, things started to turn around and change in my life. Things started to really come together. I found love, my true passion in life (hey Savoir Vivre by JJ) and genuine happiness. A yoga practice of 4 (ish) days a week turned into 7 days a week. I was becoming a really really devoted yogi. Aria and Gus remained a constant part of my life (when they were in Paris that is), so it was pretty much a no brainer for me to take off with them to Amorgos when they announced the upcoming retreat.

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Taking back off with a group of 35 strangers (with the exception of only a few that I knew from Italy) was again a oh so unforgettable experience. By virtue of my first experience, I could see how much I had grown and evolved since. I found my attitude softer, my brain calmer and all around freer. I happily shared a room with a friend (I don’t think I had ever shared a room before, except as a freshman in college, it wasn’t my brightest moment), I actually enjoyed staying out and getting a minimal amount of sleep, and felt truly bienveillant. While yoga has an impact on my everyday life, these retreats have made an impact on the real big picture.

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I know it may sound strange to think of a yoga retreat as “me” (“The Parisian Well-being Guru”) stepping out of my comfort zone, but you know what, it actually really was. It forced me to let go, it put me in a situation where I was not in control and I was emotionally vulnerable. But guess what? It made me better. It made me grow. It made me learn. It made me cry. It made me GOOD and truly thankful. Thankful for who I am today, all that I have and every waking moment on this absolutely beautiful earth.

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Photos by Joel Capillaire

 

Headed to NYC Baby! {hitting all my favorite spots and open to suggestions}

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Hey all! Very cool news, next week I am headed to the Big Apple. I am excited to discover, explore and see what’s happening in terms of well-being and yoga in my hometown. Visits are already all set and planned at YogaWorks, Y7, The Class TT and Woom Center. YEA. As for foodie tips, let me know the best new spot to get my avo toast fix please. Stay tuned for my NYC guide.

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Yoga Village {yoga in the center of paris with some of the best teachers in town}

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Just steps away from Opera, you will find Yoga Village. This studio provides a wide range of different yoga styles from vinyasa, to strala, to kundalini and hatha (plus even more). Known as the Parisian epicenter with the best teachers and the best instruction, I decided to give it a try.

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I started the day with a Vinyasa class guided by Benoit. It brought me to a higher level of happiness in an environment filled with light and love. His practice is absolutely magical (and you will hear more about him soon). The yoga space overlooks the Boulevard Capucines, visually providing the truest beauty of Paris throughout the duration of your practice. As owner Laurent Commergnat states, Yoga Village looks to share the quality of the teachers, in a bright and vibrant space – and they surely do. Their schedule proves the studio’s value based on it’s class variety and well-known gurus. I highly suggest practicing with Benoit, Tatiana and Dasha if you plan on stopping by, and I can’t wait to test all of the other talent at Yoga Village. For more information check out their website. Yoga Village – 39 Boulevard des Capucines, 75002.

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