Art of Living Retreat Center

Art of Living Journeys: Manju’s Road to Healing

November 30, 2017

Art of Living Retreat Center

The practice of a Panchakarma cleanse is an effective, deeply healing way to reset your body and begin to heal. Manju, a recent Panchakarma participant, shares how her experiences at the Art of Living Retreat Center helped her along the journey to healing her body and restoring her range of movement.

A Healing Community

I have problems with my knees and back, and I can’t walk very far, and when I first heard about the Art of Living Retreat Center, as much as I wanted to come, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. So I called and asked if it would be physically possible for me to do the Panchakarma retreat, and the person I spoke to, Mary, reassured me that it was.


I was so scared and nervous – I hadn’t gone anywhere without friends or family in so long. This was an unknown place and unknown people, but Mary said “Look, please come. Don’t be scared, I’ll take care of you.” And she did, and I am so thankful for her for that. And not only Mary, but all of the staff, were very careful and helpful and encouraging. I could have never, ever imagined that I could explore yoga and Ayurveda in this way with all the restrictions I have.


A Step Towards Healing

My knees are so much better now. I used to take painkillers and ice my knees in the morning and evening, and although there is still a lot of progress to be made, with the support of my doctor and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center, I’m beginning to be able to walk up and down stairs again. I’m really, really glad I came here, and I can’t wait to come back.


Begin your road to healing. The Panchakarma Retreat runs weekly. 


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: Ayurveda , back pain , knee pain , pain , Panchakarma

Art of Living Journeys: Elizabeth’s Panchakarma Experience

November 14, 2017


Elizabeth recently joined us for our Panchakarma Retreat to deepen her understanding and experience of Ayurveda. What she found was peace, rejuvenation, and a new and integrated way of life. We sat down with Elizabeth to chat about her experiences.


A Spiritual, Physical, and Emotional Cleanse

The Panchakarma Retreat was much more than I expected. I didn’t realize that it would touch me as deeply as it did, that it would be such an amazing cleanse on all different levels – spiritually, physically, and emotionally.


Experience the Whole Package with Panchakarma

My experience with the Ayurvedic aspect of the retreat has been wonderful. We explored concepts that have made sense logically to me in the past, but I’ve never actually experienced how effective these principles are until the immersion of the retreat. You begin to understand in real time what this way of life can do, how your diet affects your mood and your mind. You get a sense of it in a very concentrated amount of time.


I’ve been doing yoga for so long, but I never quite understood how well yoga and Ayurveda work together. I now understand that the diet and lifestyle work beautifully as a whole package.

Space to Breathe

The Art of Living Retreat Center is wonderful. I loved the green, the peacefulness, the sense that all is right in the world. The lack of traffic and noise and airplanes and busyness. Everything slows down.

Everyone should have the opportunity to do Panchakarma, and not only once, but every year.  It’s very transformative in ways that will surprise you.

Experience the difference for yourself. The Panchakarma Retreat runs regularly. 


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: Ayurveda , ayurveda cleanse , cleanse , Detox , healthy lifestyle , Panchakarma , wellness , yoga
Best detox program 2017 at the Art of Living Retreat Center

In the News: 2017 Best Detox Program

By Andrew
August 9, 2017

Top 10 Spa Awards: Best detox program Art of Living Retreat Center
We are delighted to share with you our exciting news…Organic Spa Magazine recently awarded our Shankara Ayurveda Spa the “Best Detox Program” in the United States!

Here’s why:

“…offers traditional Ayurvedic treatments like shirodhara, abhyangha and marma therapy, consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor and some of the best and most authentic yoga and meditation teachers anywhere.”

Best Detox Program

“Originally built as a Transcendental Meditation Retreat Center by a follower of the Beatles’ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, this bucolic 381-acre property outside Charlotte, NC, was sold to the nonprofit, The Art of Living, in 2011. With more than 10,000 centers worldwide in 155 countries, this is the centerpiece, where guests will find abundant peace and tranquility.
Commit to an authentic Ayurvedic detox (panchakarma), or the signature Happiness Program, which features breathing exercises, yoga, meditation and shared wisdom, is life-changing. The recently renovated Spa offers traditional Ayurvedic treatments like shirodhara, abhyangha and marma therapy, consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor and some of the best and most authentic yoga and meditation teachers anywhere. The cuisine is exclusively vegetarian, much of it from the organic garden on property.


For us, this award is a reminder of the strong legacy we inherit. Ayurveda is an amazing tradition that offers a holistic approach to wellness and self-care, which is time-tested, approachable and all natural. And natural Ayurvedic modes of detox have been helping people rejuvenate for thousands of years. We are proud to be able to offer this type of programming in the US.

Come and stay with us soon!

If you haven’t checked it out yet, Organic Spa offers inspired, interesting articles on lifestyles of wellness. You can check out the original announcement here or contact us by email at [email protected] or call 800.392.6870.


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


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

Marma - Art of Living Retreat Center

Exploring Wisdom: Revathi Raghavan on Marma

By Paige Reist
May 4, 2017

Marma - Art of Living Retreat Center

When combined with panchakarma, the practice of marma can help you find a profound sense of rest and release. We recently spoke with Revathi Raghavan, Marma Chikitsa Trainer, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Art of Living retreat host, about her journey with marma, and why she thinks it’s an essential addition to your panchakarma experience.

AOLRC: Can you explain what, exactly, marma is?
R: The word marma literally means mortal, sensitive or vulnerable. The term comes from the suchi veda, a part of Ayurveda, and it said to have origins in the martial arts and used on the battlefield to defeat enemies. Another theory is that it originated from Dhanur Veda, one of the four “upavedas” along with Ayurveda, Gandharva Veda (Music) and Staapatya Veda (vastu). Warriors wore protective armor to guard their vital points. Marma points are hidden, secret and vital. Hidden because you can’t see them, they are both inside and on the surface of the body. They’re anatomically thought of to be present at the junction of muscles, ligaments, bones, joints, tendons, and nerves. They’re sort of between mind and matter – that’s why they’re hidden. These points are also full of prana, or consciousness, which is why we refer to them as vital. It was also kept secret so that it is not misused – the knowledge was guarded and passed on mainly within families or through teacher-disciple relationship.

Sometimes we hear stories of people who are in accidents, and who may not have sustained any external injuries, but they die. Often, it’s because their vital marma points have been hit. There are points that can cause death or injury. When the same points are used therapeutically they bring enormous healing benefits.

According to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, it is one of the most restorative therapies. The practice of Marma or Marma Chikitsa is through gentle pressure or stimulation of these vital points. This releases any stresses or blocks held in the nadis for a long time and allows for free flow of prana or energy, thereby bringing deep relaxation and rejuvenation. It is one of the most direct ways of harmonizing prana in an individual. I like to think of Marma Vidya (Science of Marma) as the grandfather of acupressure.

AOLRC: And what are the benefits of marma?
R: The practice of marma has benefits on the body, mind and spirit. On the bodily level, it brings about hydration, nourishment, hormonal balance, pain relief, balances doshas, revitalizes organs, balances digestion and elimination, relaxes muscles and is generally cleansing. On the mind level, marma strengthens, balances the gunas, helps the mind be more in the present moment, improves perception, understanding and communication. Of course it helps us clear emotions and release stresses and achieve a deep state of relaxation. It also helps clear out any fogginess thus bringing clarity.

We live in a very stimulated environment today. People are constantly engaging their senses and there is enormous pressure to be someone and achieve something. There is also a overuse and misuse of our senses and we end up spending countless hours on television, ipads, kindles, laptops, and you-name-it gadgets. Everyone has goals, naturally, but there is so much pressure, hurried movement and competition that we’ve begun to live in this “vata” aggravated environment. Marma gives us a break from all of this and helps release some of the stresses brought on by the overuse/misuse of the senses.

AOLRC: What inspired you to learn and teach marma?
R: I had a wonderful experience receiving marma in Bangalore ashram once, and I’ve been fascinated ever since. I’ve been an Ayurvedic practitioner for many years now, and during my training, I delved into many panchakarma therapies, including abhyanga, shirodhara, nasya, swedana, virechana, and bastis. But I felt like my Ayurvedic training wasn’t complete without learning about marma chikitsa. I had the opportunity to learn from Ann Revington, the director of the Sri Sri Ayurveda programs in Canada, in our Texas ashram, which is where my journey with marma began.

AOLRC: In your experience, what is the common experience that participants have with marma?
R: It’s amazing to see how marma affects people. Even just doing a few points, people go into such a deep state of rest or relaxation. It’s wonderful to see the stress and tension just melt away. People have reported and shared healing of all kinds. They are able to sleep better at night, let go of anxiety, relief from body aches/pain, rest like they have never gotten in years, also have a deep meditative experience. Marma is safe for all ages and groups of people. It is beneficial for post-shock and trauma, illnesses (including cancer), injury, surgery, anxiety, insomnia and many other conditions.

It’s important for the practitioner to be on a regular sadhana practice, so that they’re stress-free and centered themselves. Giving someone an experience of marma is a very meditative experience, and both the practitioner and the recipient tend to achieve a profound state of meditation, and a deep sense of intimacy and oneness with each other and the universe.

AOLRC: Why the Art of Living Retreat Center?
R: When I’m here, I feel home. I don’t feel like going back to my real world! Everyone takes such wonderful care of each other here. The kitchen staff, the office, event organizers, the teachers, the participants – so courteous and sincere and go out of there way to make you feel comfortable. You can tell that everyone here is very passionate about what they do. I feel so comfortable here, so welcome. And yes, of course, the food is delicious!!

Experience the deep and restorative practice of marma at one of our many Panchakarma Retreats, and/or join Revathi for our next Marma practitioner training in July or October. You can also join her for a skin and beauty workshop “Beauty From Within” in July or October.


Experience the deep and restorative practice of marma at one of our many Panchakarma Retreats, and join Revathi for Beauty From Within in July or October!


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: Ayurveda 101 , ayurveda detox , exploring wisdom , knowledge , marma , massage , natural lifestyle , Panchakarma , wellness , wisdom

Healing Journeys of Ayurveda: Amy’s Story

By Paige Reist
April 20, 2017

Small changes can make a huge difference. Amy, one of our recent Panchakarma and Happiness Program participants, shares how much her life has changed since coming to the Art of Living Retreat Center – she’s happier, healthier, and forty pounds lighter!

Happening Upon Health

I love the program. I happened upon the Art of Living Retreat Center quite by accident – I had been battling some health problems over the past few years, actually.  I had looked for answers and hadn’t really found anything that worked.

The Art of Living Retreat Center happened to be about 2 hours away from my home. I said I can drive there, yay! And then I found a program that sounded like what I have been searching for for a very long time. I felt it could be my hope for health for the future.

Become the Person You Were Meant to Be

It’s been much more than a spa treatment. It was life-changing. It has been getting my health back. It has been getting my spirit back. It has helped me to retrain myself, to center myself and be the person that I really always wanted to be. The staff here works with you, supports you and gives you the tools you need in your toolbox in order to go home and start putting those items in your life. You can then start to implement them into your life for the future.

The staff teaches you how to eat for your body type, and it’s not a diet, but a better way of life. I finally feel healthy and vibrant again! I’ve lost forty pounds to date because of the lifestyle changes recommended, and my family of four has lost over one hundred pounds! It’s not all about the weight, though – the dedicated, caring employees here encourage and inspire you to be a well-rounded person.

I am amazed at the simple changes we can make to become the person we’ve always dreamed of being.

Forming Special Bonds

My favorite part of the program was the people — bonding with our little group and the staff. Everyone here is so gracious and loving and giving. I can’t even start to name people because then I would feel like I was excluding someone from the list. But Dr. Lokesh, Medha, I mean, Mary, everyone… People in our group come from all walks of life, driving in from Iowa, New York, driving from North Carolina. We have come together and we’re a family now. And we always will be, because we helped each other through a journey that no one else in our life could share with us. We help each other get through it and we’re friends and family forever, along with the staff that supported us as well.

It’s amazing to bond with people that you wouldn’t normally get to meet or even think that you would be connected with. The people in our group were just awesome. I love sitting and talking with each one of them. In fact, if I had one wish to be granted this week it would be that we could add a week to the program just to sit and talk with Dr. Lokesh, Medha, and the staff. I’d love to talk more with the people here because all of them have a wealth of knowledge, and it’s just amazing to sit and talk with them. There’s just a feeling here of majesty and connectedness that I’ve never experienced anywhere else I’ve been.

Having the Ability to Feel Calm and Centered

One thing that struck a chord with me was the meditation, definitely. I can look back now and realize that in the past I was trying to find forms of meditating, but they were not exactly the right ways of meditation. And when I would get stressed or frustrated I would want to get away and rethink the situation. But now I have the tools to really meditate, center myself and calm down, whatever the case may be. I can put that into practice every day in my life. And I think that’s going to make the difference.

Body, Mind, and Spirit

I came back and completed the Happiness Program, and I am amazed at the simple changes we can make to become the person we’ve always dreamed of being. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have discovered the Art of Living Center. Each and every person here is dedicated to helping others live better lives, and they truly care. It’s like having an extended family high on the mountaintops of Boone. This place is majestic. I’ve made lifetime friends here, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to live and love more deeply.

I have had the greatest experience and I’m so blessed and grateful that I found this program.


Interested in learning more about 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 , Happiness Program , healing journeys , healthy lifestyle , Panchakarma , weight-loss , wisdom
Healing Journeys of Ayurveda - The Art of Living Retreat Center

Healing Journeys of Ayurveda – Eva’s Story

By Paige Reist
February 9, 2017

Healing Journeys of Ayurveda - The Art of Living Retreat Center
In these tumultuous times, when the world is hurting, sometimes the most radical thing you can do is to take care of yourself. After all, as Eva, a recent participant in our Panchakarma detox program, knows, when you heal yourself, you heal the world. 


The Art of Living Retreat Center is such a phenomenal setting to come and explore Panchakarma. There is such a profound silence and beauty here among the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Panchakarma program exceeded my expectations from the very beginning – even after the first day, I knew that I was involved in something very, very authentic and special. I’m so honored and happy to have been here.

Experience the Lightness of Being

Working with Dr. Manisha in this program was a huge privilege. She grew up in India, and was trained there, so her authenticity and knowledge really shine through. You can tell that her knowledge is a lived knowledge. The team here is amazing, too, and there is such a pervasive feeling of collective happiness and clarity. We were taken care of so tenderly, and it was such a nurturing experience.

I came to this retreat for the benefit of my health, but I left with so much more than a sense of physical wellness. Being here in the mountains, with this community, receiving the treatments, and learning what Panchakarma truly means – I just feel so fortunate that I was guided to be here. I lost five pounds, but more importantly, I feel such a lightness of being. There’s such a sense of spaciousness here, of kindness, of happiness. This program and this place nurture far more than your body; you come away with a feeling of spiritual and emotional wellness, too.


Heal Yourself, Heal the World

This is a gift that you can give yourself, a gift for your entire being. This experience will enrich your life. I would love to see more and more of us give ourselves this opportunity, because I believe that by healing ourselves, we heal our families, our communities, our countries, and the planet. It’s a responsibility we have to move inward and begin our healing for the benefit of the world. That’s what life is all about.


– Eva, Florida


To learn more about our Panchakarma Detox Retreat, click here.

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 , Ayurveda , cleanse , Detox , health , Panchakarma , wellness , wisdom
Healing Journeys of Ayurveda - The Art of Living Retreat Center

Healing Journeys of Ayurveda – Brenda’s Story

By Paige Reist
February 1, 2017

Healing Journeys of Ayurveda - The Art of Living Retreat Center


Every person who participates in one of our retreats comes away with something different, something unique to what their body, mind, and spirit needs. Brenda, a recent Panchakarma participant, recently shared her own experiences with us. 

I came to the Art of Living Retreat Center to get healthy. I felt like the toxins in my body had built up over my life, I felt stressed, and I knew it was time to take care of myself. Now I feel as if they’ve all been released, and my stress is completely gone.


Healthy, Lighter, Clean, Energetic

I’ve never eaten such delicious, healthy food. I can’t say enough about it! I’ve been able to bring home new knowledge about food and nutrition that I can share with my family and friends, and make a positive difference in their lives. I know they’ll see the same transformation I’ve experienced. I feel healthy, lighter, clean, energetic. Back home, I was so lethargic, and now I just want to climb a mountain!
The feeling of getting clean from the inside, detoxing my body, was wonderful, but the best part of Panchakarma was the people I met here – the most amazing, loving happy friendships that were created.
It was honestly the best week I’ve spent in my life. It was worth every penny. I’m just so glad that I came. I want everyone to experience it.
– Brenda H., Raleigh

To learn more about our Panchakarma Detox Retreat, click here. 

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 , Detox , healing journeys of ayurveda , Panchakarma , stress
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
healing journeys ayurveda

Healing Journeys of Ayurveda: Lighter Every Day

By Dr. Harrison Graves, MD
November 2, 2016

healing journeys ayurveda

Ayurveda considers the buildup of toxins, physical and mental and environmental, to be the underlying cause of many diseases. Toxins enter our world by what we eat, drink, breathe in and process in any way. With so much hype about detoxes and cleanses, it’s hard to know where to turn. Today’s blog features special guest, Susan W. from Syracuse. Susan recently shared her Panchakarma experience with Andrew Keaveney, Ayurveda enthusiast and Art of Living teacher :


Andrew:  Susan, how was your experience of  Panchakarma?


Susan: My experience here has been really really great.  I’ve actually done many cleanses before this. But this is my first time doing Panchakarma. I can tell you that this experience is nothing like any of the other cleanses that I’ve done. Some of the things that set it apart are the fact that it’s Ayurvedic based, for sure. But it’s more  than that.  We had the doctor looking after us, keeping an eye out on our progress, checking when we came in, individually. Tailoring the program to each one of us individually was just amazing. The piece that I really liked about it is that when I would have the different sessions, it was like I was feeling lighter every single day. I was feeling this cleansing process more and more with each treatment that I got. It was really clear that the treatments that I was getting were guided for me, and what I needed. So the experience has been just outstanding. I am leaving here feeling light and fresh.


I think it’s more than just physical though.  Because of that lightness and freshness that I’m feeling physically, it transfers into how you’re feeling mentally and emotionally — all of that as well. So just all the way around, a lightness that has come.  I am telling you it was like layers coming off each day. It is nothing at all compared to any other cleanse that I’ve done. This is just very very different.

“I am leaving here feeling light and fresh.”

Andrew:  Could you share a little more about your other cleanses? What were the other cleanses like and then what was feeling different?


Susan: Okay. I have never done anything that was residential like this. The other cleanses that I’ve done  were done from my home. I felt that there was some cleansing that was taking place, but it was more of something that was geared toward everybody. Everybody got the same thing. So the amount of benefit you get here really shows up when you have something that’s tailored just for you. The way that you should be eating.  The treatments that you are personally in need of to correct any imbalances. It really shows up in the way that I feel in the end – comparing the two.


Andrew: Did you come here with anything particularly complaint or something that you want to remedy or is it more for overall?


Susan: Yeah, it was more for an overall detoxification and cleanse.  We have so many toxins in this environment. It’s hard to avoid them. This is why I’ve done cleanses in the past to just keep my body as healthy as I possibly can. And so it was really more “overall” for me.

“Ayurveda is a lifestyle. It really is a way of living our lives to give us the best possible bodies and health”

Andrew: What does Ayurveda do for you personally?


Susan:  Ayurveda is a lifestyle. It really is a way of living our lives to give us the best possible bodies and health, and by uplifting our bodies and our health and being as high of energy as possible. As much prana or energy in our bodies as possible allows us to be as stress free as possible. It really reflects on the way that our mind is working our emotions. We become lighter and freer with that.


• • •


Interested in learning more about what Ayurveda can do for you? Please contact us and we’d be happy to guide you as to how an Ayurvedic cleanse can harness the natural healing power of your body. Both weekend and week-long cleanses are available to feel refreshed and rejuvenated the Ayurvedic way.


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 , harrison graves md , Panchakarma , sri sri ravi shankar , wellness
pratyahara ni patanjali yoga sutras

Pratyahara: Yoga’s Forgotten Limb

By Dr. Harrison Graves, MD
October 26, 2016
pratyahara ni patanjali yoga sutras
The Three Wise Monkeys – moderating input from the senses to affect our actions

Pratyahara is often defined as “the conscious withdrawal of energy from the senses.” Yet what does that phrase really mean? Did you know that a massage or even vacationing by the sea can be form of pratyahara? Read on and find out how.

Pratyahara is perhaps the least understood limb of the 8-part yoga system. Pratyahara has two parts: creating positive impressions for the mind and avoiding negative ones. Impressions are all of the things we take in through the five senses. Everything we see, hear, touch, taste and smell.


The ultimate goal of pratyahara is to help us turn inward, by creating a calm, peaceful environment and a sattvic (balanced) mind.

A mind turned outward — a mind bombarded with sensory overload from TV to twitter — cannot meditate. We must learn how to manage our sensory intake — all of the information taken in by our five senses. In other words, don’t put  junk food into your mind or into your body.

Pratyhara: Yoga’s Forgotten Limb
“Just as a tortoise withdraws its limbs, so when a man withdraws his senses from the sense objects, his wisdom becomes steady.” -Bhagavad Gita

 Natural Pratyahara

There are two types of pratyahara: natural pratyahara (think sleep, rest and relaxation) and the pratyahara that comes to us from the practice of yoga.

Sleep is a great example of natural pratyahara.  Sleep is where the Soul loves to rest and recharge. All five senses are are silent. Vacations and retreats can also be forms of effortless pratyahara. The simplest way to control the impressions is to cut them off. Treat yourself to a silent retreat. Take a walk in the woods.

Pratyahara also means avoiding harmful impressions — like TV and other “if-it-bleeds-it-leads” media.

Instead, cultivate better impressions. Immerse yourself in Nature. Gaze at the vastness of the sky. Do yoga.


Yogic Pratyahara

As the fifth limb in the yoga system, pratyahara occupies a central place — a bridge between the physical aspect of yoga, asana, and meditation. Yogic pratyahara includes calming asanas, alternate nostril breathing and types of mindfulness or guided meditation. Another great example of yogic pratyahara is Shavasana — corpse pose. In Shavasana, the energy is withdrawn from the five senses. The eyes are closed. Visual stimuli are absent.  The body is relaxed, and turned inward. In a world of overstimulation, the practice of pratyahara can offer us silence, peace and rest.


Pratyahara and Ayurveda

Pratyahara literally means control of ahara or food. Here “food” refers to anything we put into our bodies and minds, both physical and mental.

Examples of Ayurvedic pratyahara are an Ayurvedic diet, aroma therapy, color therapy, Ayurvedic massage, marma point therapy, shirodhara and pancha karma. These are all delightful and beneficial therapies that support the the body-mind and lead to deep relaxation. A natural pratyahara for the digestive system is fasting, or feasting, on kichadi, an Ayurvedic superfood.

Also included in pratyahara are your associations with other people. How do the people around you make you feel? Do you feel lifted up? Filled with love and connection? Or do you feel pulled down by negativity and toxicity? Ayurveda recommends satsang therapy — hanging out with those who are heart-centered seekers of truth.


Summary: Feed Your Head

Pratyahara starts at home. Become aware of the quality of things taken in by your five senses. Turn off the TV. Create your own space — a positive environment that restores you and calms the senses. Nourish yourself with positive experiences by gazing at the ocean, the mountains or the blue sky. Associate with quality people.

You are doing pratyahara, the fifth limb of yoga and a gateway to meditation.


Review Question: What are two examples of pratyahara?


Comments?  Please share with us your favorite form of pratyahara in the comment box below.


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TAGS: art of living retreat center , Ayurveda , fifth limb of yoga , harrison graves md , Panchakarma , pratyahara , sri sri ravi shankar , wellness , yoga , yoga retreat

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