In House: Medha Garud on Ayurveda and Spinal Care

By Paige Reist
September 11, 2017

Art of Living Retreat Center


In her work as a physical therapist, Medha Garud has witnessed first-hand the empowering effects of an Ayurvedic lifestyle. Through the practice of Ayurveda, we have the ability to heal our bodies, rewire our minds, and extend our lives. Read on to hear Medha’s thoughts on spinal care, pain management, and holistic health. 


Health from an Ayurvedic Perspective

The top three ways in which we encourage health from an Ayurvedic perspective are through diet, lifestyle, and environment. Ayurveda doesn’t prescribe a one-size-fits-all diet, but rather an individualized diet plan based on our specific body type. Following this plan keeps us in balance.

We try to live our lives as a yogi might. Yogis are often able to live for a hundred years, but we don’t see many non-yogis living that long. This is because we are so often out of sync with nature. Ayurveda teaches us how to be as close to nature as possible, and how to align our lifestyle with the natural cycles of the seasons.


Living with mindfulness in our environment doesn’t necessarily mean that if it’s cold outside, we eat warm food, or if it’s warm outside, we eat cooling foods. It means that our mental and emotional environments are healthy as well. Ayurveda teaches us how to build strength to deal with challenges, or it empowers us to move away from things that are not healthy in our lives.


Spinal Care & Ayurveda

I’m a physical therapist, and I’ve been treating patients with spinal health issues for 20 years. Before I incorporated Ayurveda into my practice, I never felt that I was reaching for the root cause of these problems that my patients were dealing with. I’d be able to give them short-term relief and advice, but then they’d be in my office again a few months later, dealing with the same issues that brought them in in the first place.


I feel that Ayurveda and yoga hold the answer to long-term wellness, because they address the root cause of these problems, rather than just soothing the symptoms.


Research suggests that different people feel pain in different ways based on their perception of it. When our perception of pain changes, reported levels of pain actually go down. With this workshop, we use the principles put forth in yoga and Ayurveda to help people manage their pain by changing their perspective on it. We’re building new neural pathways in the brain, and building confidence and body autonomy through yoga postures.


We also talk a lot about how Ayurvedic principles can contribute to pain management. An Ayurvedic lifestyle not only remedies the physical presence of pain, but the mental and emotional presence of it as well. We provide anti-inflammatory recipes, and teach meditation and Ayurvedic lifestyle guidelines to promote a holistic approach to a pain-free life. Each person comes away from the workshop with an individualized plan, because, as practitioners of Ayurveda know, every person is different and has different needs. As one of our participants, B. Saccone, said: “I feel more calm, but more importantly, looking forward to using these Ayurvedic techniques to maintain balance.”


Living a Pain-Free Life

So many people have been able to move more freely now, without pain. They’ve learned a more healthy way of life, how to eat correctly, and how to live according to nature. They also come away from the workshop with a new knowledge of yoga postures and mudras. “I am at peace with my body and my mind is calm,” said Michelle, another participant of the Ayurveda and Spine Care program. To change your pain, you must change your life, and through Ayurvedic principles, a long, healthy, pain-free life is possible.


Medha Garud is a physical therapist, yoga therapist, Ayurvedic practitioner, and RYT 500. Join Medha at the Art of Living Retreat Center for Ayurveda Awareness & Spinal Care from Oct 20-22. 


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , Ayurveda , fall , healthy lifestyle , lifestyle , mindfulness , pain management , spinal care , wellness , yoga
feldenkrais workshop north carolina

In House: Lavinia Plonka on Your Sixth Sense

By Lavinia Plonka
March 5, 2017

feldenkrais workshop north carolina


Imagine being so aware that even as you reach for a cup of coffee, you sense the muscles in your back supporting your hand. The quality of each finger’s touch as it wraps around the cup. The momentary intake of breath as you carefully lift it to your lips. The fluttering of your eyelids as you sip.


Constant Movement, Constant Awareness

The human organism has the potential to experience this peak awareness, not just during moments of heightened danger or demand, but every moment. By developing this ability, you move more effectively and listen more carefully. You make fewer mistakes, injure yourself less, and enrich your life as well as the lives of those around you. Whether you have limitations due to an injury, or if you’re at the peak of your performance, you can improve, grow, and enjoy your life more fully.
We are always in movement. Even sitting at the computer involves a complex series of signals throughout the nervous system that keep the mouse moving, the toes tapping, the forehead wrinkling. These habitual movements help get the job done – the foot knowing when to step on the brakes, the hand knowing how to hold the toothbrush. But many of these habits also cause pain and limitation. Hunched shoulders, grinding teeth, and a tense lower back are just a few examples of what Moshe Feldenkrais called parasitic habits – they help you through a portion of recovery, and then they create greater problems.


Anti-Yoga: The Feldenkrais Method

Research has proven that the nervous system can learn to create new patterns, new ‘neural pathways’, for a more rewarding life. It does this most effectively through movement – the language of the body. The Feldenkrais Method® uses subtle, sophisticated movements to teach people how to literally reorganize themselves – improve range of motion, reduce pain, and live a fuller life. Yet, it is gentle, effortless, and safe for everyone. Houstonia Magazine recently called it the ‘anti-yoga’. 

It’s not flexible bodies I’m after, it’s flexible brains.
– Moshe Feldenkrais, founder of the Feldenkrais Method

If you’d like to experience the joy of enhanced awareness and effortless movement, you owe it to yourself to join us for Your Sixth Sense at the Art of Living Retreat Center.

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , Feldenkrais , flexibility , Lavinia Plonka , pain management , yoga , yoga practice , yoga retreat
healing Ayurveda

Healing Journeys of Ayurveda: Overcoming Pain Naturally

By Paige Reist
December 16, 2016

One of the most incredible things about the Ayurvedic lifestyle is the effect it can have on our pain. As we work to flush out the toxins that are built up in our day to day lives, our bodies naturally begin to heal themselves, and with Ayurveda, people that have struggled for years with chronic pain have found release.

We spoke with Nidhi, one of our recent Panchakarma retreat participants, about their experience of overcoming pain, finding peace, and learning to honor their body.

healing ayurveda

Q: How was your experience with panchakarma?

Nidhi: It was amazing. I was not expecting my experience to be this good. I think when I came in, I didn’t quite understand what I was getting into. I was prepared for the dietary restrictions, but everything else that came with it – the meditation, the community, and a space where you can be with yourself – was all unexpected. All in all, it was fantastic.

Q: Could you share any standout moments from your time here, or a favourite part of the experience?

Nidhi: The first time I meditated. I haven’t even practiced yoga before – the only workouts I’ve ever done have been quite rigorous.The first time we meditated in the program, I didn’t even know what to do with myself! About two or three minutes into it, I wasn’t sure where I was anymore. I felt like I was in a trance. Now, with a little more experience, I feel like I can describe it better. But that first time, I didn’t know if I had left my body, or if I was still here. I didn’t know if I was asleep or awake. And at the end of it, when I opened my eyes, I felt really energized.

Another thing that surprised me, and that I appreciated, was that the treatments were all very gentle. When I used to think of massages, I thought of them as a very rigorous activity, where the masseuse is using so much of their strength on your body. But here, the therapists are so gentle and so precise. They achieved the same kind of feeling, in terms of relaxation, without the same physical effort. The massage really seems to be of the spirit and mind, as well as the body.

Q: And how are you feeling after the program? How would you compare it to other practices or treatments you’ve tried?

Nidhi: I am feeling fantastic! Until now, I’ve lead a fairly decadent life of poor eating habits and sporadic physical activity. This was the detox, I think, that I really needed.

About three years ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. I was in constant, debilitating, chronic pain, so much so that I couldn’t even squeeze toothpaste onto my toothbrush. I tried a number of different doctors and dermatologists, and they gave me steroids and immunosuppressants. My hair began to fall out, my voice became hoarse, and I wasn’t sleeping well. There was a lot of fluctuation in my weight, but through everything, the pain was still there. All of these harsh medications had no effect on my pain.

Finally, I looked into Ayurvedic medicine, and read about panchakarma and detoxing, and decided to try it out.I got here on a Monday, and I woke up on Thursday morning absolutely pain-free. 100% pain-free! I haven’t been without pain in some part of my body for at least three years, so it was a strange sensation to wake up and feel that. I have panchakarma to thank for that. If it hadn’t been for the structured diet, the mind-body balance of the activities here, I don’t think I would have ever done this on my own, or achieved any of these results.

If it hadn’t been for the structured diet, the mind-body balance of the activities here, I don’t think I would have ever done this on my own, or achieved any of these results.

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to share about your experience here?

Nidhi: When we think of alternative medicine, there’s a stereotype that it’s for older people, or people that embrace it as their entire lifestyle. But what I’d like to share, and what I’m going to go back and tell my friends about, is that it’s really just about respecting your body. We do that when we go to the gym, when we this diet or that diet. Ayurvedic medicine has the same goal. The whole purpose of it is to honour your body.

If you don’t honour your body when you’re younger, it won’t work out for you very well when you’re older. There’s a time when you should be exposed to different types of medicine, and different types of self-care. I think trying panchakarma has opened my mind, changed the way I want to eat and how I want to live. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop going out with my friends, or having a bowl of pasta every now and then, but at least I know now how to better balance myself, and how to listen to my body.

• • •

Our Panchakarma Detox Retreat is one of many detox retreats available at the Art of Living Retreat Center. Feel free to contact us to learn more about how Ayurveda can transform your life.


Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living retreat center , Ayurveda , ayurveda cleanse , ayurveda detox , cleanse , Detox , pain management , Panchakarma , sri sri ravi shankar , wellness

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