Yoga + Ayurveda: Sister Sciences


Shiva, The Transformer, the patron deity of Yoga

Ayurveda and Yoga are sister sciences. They both have roots in Vedic philosophy and developed side-by-side through the last several thousand years.

“The link between yoga and Ayurveda is prana, or the life force. Yoga is the intelligence of prana seeking greater evolutionary transformations, while Ayurveda is its healing power…” ~ Dr. David Frawley

“Yoga is a work-in, not a work-out.” ~Dr. Indu Arora

Ayurveda uses yoga as a therapeutic modality, especially to calm and focus the mind and to move prana through the body (similar to tai chi and qi gong). Traditional 8-Limbs yoga was also historically used as a method to purify and prepare the mind to receive information through insight meditation, communion with the Divine and teachings from a guru or mentor.

Ayurvedic yoga focuses on creating a practice that is appropriate for one’s Constitution and Imbalances. For example, vigorous yoga heats us up and gets us moving, which may be what is needed on a cold, cloudy day or if we are feeling heavy, slow and cold. But too much heat can be aggravating to Pitta and too much movement can be aggravating to Vata dosha. Furthermore, vigorous yoga practices during the hot summer/midday can also aggravate pitta, leading to inflammation of both the body and mind.

In our culture, yoga has been relegated to the role of “exercise” but yoga does not mean exercise -it means “union” -with the divine in ourselves and the universe, seeing all things as One or Unified, the core of Advaita Vedanta or Non-Dual philosophy. The physical practice (asana/vinyasa) of yoga is a wonderful tool for keeping us limber and building strength, but if done without regard for the spiritual aspects or the the particularities of each individual, it can be of only limited service. It can also injure us or further aggravate our doshic imbalances.

Yogini extraordinaire Shiva Rea wrote a great article for prAna about how Ayurveda informs her yoga practice and how she practices yoga in a way that preserves and enhances health and well-being rather than squanders it.

FOOD = NOURISHMENT :: Basic tips for Eating


The Basics: Eat real food! Always favor organic over conventional, especially animal products like dairy and meat. Cook at home as much as possible. Avoid GMO’s and processed foods. Support your local farmers. Try to eat food as ripe as possible.

“Whatever can be digested is food, whatever enhances digestion is medicine” -Ayurvedic saying

Here is a link to Dr. Lad’s complete food guidelines chart listed by body type/dosha. Each doshic type has lists of foods to favor and those to avoid. It can be important to remember that this doesn’t need to be a heavy thing! Even getting it right 50% of the time will go a long way to enhancing health -and when in doubt, just keep in mind the basic flavors and qualities that are balancing (or aggravating) to your particular constitution. If, on the other hand you are actually experiencing a more serious condition or dosha aggravation, it is better to try to stick more strictly to the guidelines.

Joyful Belly! Here is a link to a great Ayurvedic site that has lots of recipes listed by body type/dosha, seasons, tastes and qualities.

Food Combining is an important concept in Ayurveda. Of most concern are improper food combinations that can reduce digestive fire/function, increase indigestion, gas and bloating and create undigested toxic food sludge called “ama” in Ayurveda. Here is the link to Dr. Lad’s incompatible food combinations chart. You may notice that some of your favorite food combos may be listed here! Yes, it’s true that many of the things we like to eat together are actually considered incompatible! Try avoiding the combination(s) and see if you notice any improvements in your digestive function. If you do only one thing -avoid eating fresh fruit -especially melon- with your meals! 

Why Eat Only Three Meals a Day?

According to ancient Ayurvedic theory, it is optimal to take at least 4 hours between each meal. This allows the body to digest food (especially moving it through the stomach and upper intestines) before we give it more material to deal with. In this way, we are less likely to produce “ama” -the Sanskrit term for undigested food sludge that results from improper digestion and is the cause of many diseases.

During the “fasting” time between meals, after the body has used the quick energy (short-chain carbohydrates) obtained in the most recent meal, the body will dip into its fat stores to produce energy. This allows us to become efficient metabolizers of body fat, which provides a longer-lasting type of energy. An added benefit is that this fat metabolism also allows us to burn through and eliminate natural and non-natural chemicals that might be stored in our fat, thus reducing our toxic load on a daily basis.

Disclaimer: these suggestions are not intended to diagnose or treat any health condition. Consult your healthcare practitioner and use at your own risk. They are intended for use by Vivian Linden’s clients who have been assessed in her practice. 

Nadi Shodhana: The Breath That Balances

Vayu Devanta, the god of Wind. The breath is the wind of the body.


Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is a powerful technique we can use to enhance our well-being. *Please consult with your healthcare practitioner to make sure breathing exercises are appropriate for you at this time.

Click this link to watch a video for basic instruction

Below is a thought-provoking article on the potential benefits of Nadi Shodhana. [from Holistic Online]

“If you don’t do anything else, this is a simple yoga breathing exercise that can be done virtually anywhere, anyplace. You will be glad you did. It is simply dynamic!

The name alternate nostril breathing is due to the fact that we alternate between the two nostrils when we do the breathing. Yogis believe that this exercise will clean and rejuvenate your vital channels of energy, thus the name nadi sodhana (purification of nadis or channels).

With this exercise, we breathe through only one nostril at a time. The logic behind this exercise is that normal breathing does alternate from one nostril to the other at various times during the day. In a healthy person the breath will alternate between nostrils about every two hours. Because most of us are not in optimum health, this time period varies considerably between people and further reduces our vitality. According to the yogis, when the breath continues to flow in one nostril for more than two hours, as it does with most of us, it will have an adverse effect on our health. If the right nostril is involved, the result is mental and nervous disturbance. If the left nostril is involved, the result is chronic fatigue and reduced brain function. The longer the flow of breath in one nostril, the more serious the illness will be.


1. The exercise produces optimum function to both sides of the brain: that is optimum creativity and optimum logical verbal activity. This also creates a more balanced person, since both halves of the brain are functioning properly.

2. The yogis consider this to be the best technique to calm the mind and the nervous system.

The Scientific Confirmation of Alternate Nostril Breathing

Medical science has recently discovered the nasal cycle, something that was known by the yogis thousands of years ago. Scientists have recently found that we don’t breathe equally with both nostrils, that one nostril is much easier to breathe through than the other at any particular time and that this alternates about every three hours. The yogis claim that the natural period is every two hours, but we must remember these studies were done on people who do not have an optimum health level.

Scientists also discovered that the nasal cycle corresponds with brain function. The electrical activity of the brain was found to be greater on the side opposite the less congested nostril. The right side of the brain controls creative activity, while the left side controls logical verbal activity. The research showed that when the left nostril was less obstructed, the right side of the brain was predominant. Test subjects were indeed found to do better on creative tests. Similarly when the right nostril was less obstructed the left side of the brain was predominant. Test subjects did better on verbal skills.

Medical science has not quite caught up with the ancient yogis yet. The yogis went one step further. They observed that a lot of disease was due to the nasal cycle being disturbed; that is, if a person breathed for too long through one nostril. To prevent and correct this condition, they developed the alternate nostril breathing technique. This clears any blockage to air flow in the nostrils and reestablishes the natural nasal cycle. For example, the yogis have known for a long time that prolonged breathing through the left nostril only (over a period of years) will produce asthma. They also know that this so-called incurable disease can be easily eliminated by teaching the patient to breathe through the right nostril until the asthma is cured, and then to prevent it recurring by doing the alternate nostril breathing technique. The yogis also believe that diabetes is caused to a large extent by breathing mainly through the right nostril.” (Excerpted from Holistic Online website)

Disclaimer: the information contained in this blog article is not intended to diagnose or treat any health condition. It is intended for use by Vivian Linden’s clients who have been assessed in her practice. Consult your healthcare practitioner and use at your own risk. 

Beauty from the Inside Out

Outer Beauty is an Inside Job!

~Follow the guidelines for balancing your specific constitutional type (make a consultation appointment to find out your unique constitution).

glass-of-water-w-lemon~Upon waking, drink a large glass of warm water. You can add a squeeze of fresh lemon.

~Dry brush skin (towards the heart) to activate lymph flow (to de-stagnate from inactivity during the night)

~Mini-self oil massage (also called abhyanga) with plain sesame oil or an oil that is specifically for balancing your constitution or imbalance.

~Shower (add in 30 seconds of cold water rinse if your constitution is strong. Especially get cold water on the upper chest and throat areas to stimulate the thyroid. This stimulating “hydrotherapy” helps to activate the metabolism and also moves lymphatic fluid).

~Pranayama: Nadi shodhana (see the Nadi Shodhana page for instructions) and Brahmari pranayama support relaxation and the endocrine system.

~Cat/Cow: Helps to lubricate the spine and move cerebral spinal fluid.

~Meditate or do any other relaxation practices that you enjoy.

~Walk or do other enjoyable, stress-reducing forms of exercise.

~Drink plenty of non-caffeinated, non-sugary beverages. Try to sip warm water throughout the day (it helps hydrate cells and move lymphatic fluid)

~Eat high quality organic fats, especially ghee and coconut oil, especially if you have a high Vata constitution.

~Cultivate appreciation for beauty of all kinds! One of my favorite “beauty icons” is elder Georgia O’keefe -no Botox for for this beauty!

Disclaimer: the information contained in this blog article is not intended to diagnose or treat any health condition. It is intended for use by Vivian Linden’s clients who have been assessed in her practice. Consult your healthcare practitioner and use at your own risk.

Nourishing the Spirit

chakras“The complete solution is to go back to who you are!”
-Dr. Sunil Joshi, Ayurvedic Physician & Panchakarma specialist

Dr. Joshi is a profound teacher! His five-day teaching at Kripalu was one of the most inspired educational experiences of my life, filled with wisdom, passion and a LOT of humor! You can read an interview with him here.

Alakananda Ma:

I’ve felt very blessed to discover the wise teachings of Alakananda Ma, an Ayurvedic doctor, English-trained medical doctor, poet, ex-Catholic nun, multi-faith pilgrim, Goddess devotee and founder of the Alandi Ashram and Ayurveda School in Boulder, Colorado. Her recorded talks have greatly informed and inspired me this year. She has a brilliant mind and, like any good teacher/guru, makes the Universe a more expansive space with her wisdom! I believe she is a teacher for the New Age!

You can access her audio teachings here:

Peace Pilgrim:

My mom had a copy of Peace Pilgrim’s book way back in the late ’80’s. I remember thinking it was just about walking for peace and nuclear disarmament. What I didn’t understand at the time was that Peace Pilgrim was a very profound, fully realized and enlightened Spiritual Teacher. I recently re-connected with her work -and the amazing video interviews with her on Youtube! In this time of deepening violence and aggression, she teaches that Peace must begin within each of us and that the outer World is a reflection of our inner landscape. Peace Pilgrim’s simple teachings are ripe for our Times.

Tara Brach is a wonderful Buddhist teacher in the Insight Meditation tradition. She is best-known for her “Radical Acceptance” teachings. Her Buddhist practice takes into full account the intricacies of the Western experience and the challenges that arise when Westerners explore the Buddhist practice. She is also an accomplished psychotherapist and counselor and brings years of clinical practice into her worldview. I find her Dharma talks to be inspiring and particularly helpful, especially when I am facing challenging times. You can access her weekly talks (and 25 minute guided meditations) through the Dharma Seed website.

I’m also a fan of Stephen and Ondrea Levines‘ teaching and work. They have made their lives an open laboratory for the Dharma in so many ways and their compassion towards themselves and others is an inspiring work-in-progress. Stephen’s “Soft Belly” practice was a profound teaching for me and I highly recommend checking it out! You can access a really great interview with Stephen via this link to hear him talk about Soft Belly.

Speaking of interviews! Tami Simon (the owner/founder of Sounds True) conducts very profound discussions with many of the leading spiritual teachers of our time. I have learned so much from these free hour-long conversations. Check them out at the Sounds True Insights at the Edge page.

Why Wake Up Early?
Waking Up Early: Experiencing the Ambrosial Hours of Brahmamuhurta
As Homo Sapiens, we are diurnal creatures. We sleep at night and are active during the day. Getting up early, around sunrise, serves two purposes: It gets us into rhythm with the natural daily cycles of sleeping at night and being active during daylight, which supports (and is supported by) the natural cortisol/meletonin production. The time before sunrise is also considered to be the optimal period to do spiritual practices such as yoga, mediation and pranayama.

Comedy as Spiritual Teaching:
I love this Louis CK bit about cells phones so much, I had to share it. Here is a wonderful, funny and totally profound teaching on the Human Experience…

Surviving the Holidays

caramel-cream-cake-lThis blog (below) by Dr. Aviva Romm has some great suggestions for what to do if you accidentally (or accidentally-on-purpose, like during holiday festivities) get exposed to dietary allergens or simply over-indulge. I’ve had a few clients suffering from and worrying about this issue recently, so I thought I’d share.

Aviva Romm: What to do if you get “gluten-ed” article

I especially love and agree with the idea of carrying digestive bitters and digestive enzymes/HCl for emergencies (that can happen anytime). It’s also great to keep ginger or CCF tea on-hand as well -drink them before a meal to enhance your natural capacity for good digestion.

Most importantly, enjoy the festivities, don’t be hard on yourself, then get back on the wagon as soon as possible!

The Importance of Daily Routine

b8e0c99a2a1982b80643874beaa44ebfI’ve recently had a number of clients who have illustrated for me the importance of having a good daily routine. In one case, a client found that an endocrine issue for which they had been receiving acupuncture and herbal care got even better results when a good sleep routine was added in to their treatment protocol. In another case, it was clear to me that a client’s persistent insomnia troubles were likely related to the time at which they were trying to go to sleep. In other clients, I’ve seen problems that were likely being caused and/or made worse by eating at the wrong times (which were then cascading into all sorts of other chronic health problems). While it may be impossible for us to have a “perfect” daily routine all the time, it can be enormously helpful to understand the importance of a basic daily routine, what that looks like and why.

Why is a daily routine so important? The main thing to understand about having a somewhat stable daily routine is that it follows and supports the natural cycling of our endocrine and nervous systems. Sleep is one place we can see this play out so clearly: In the evening (around 7-9pm and onward) our melatonin levels begin to rise, which help us feel sleepy and help us wind down for the evening and (hopefully) get us headed to bed for a good night’s sleep. Conversely, in the morning (a little before sunrise) our cortisol levels (and blood pressure) begin to rise naturally to motivate us to get up and greet the day. When we miss the chance to “ride the waves” these hormones provide us, we will often find we are struggling to either fall asleep, get a restful sleep or have an energetic morning. We are going “against the flow” as it were.

In a similar vein, our digestive system is also running on daily rhythmic cycles. A healthy person usually gets hungry about three times a day -which, in a healthy person, should occur in the morning, midday and early evening. A healthy hunger is generated by a cascade of hormones and physiological processes that we do well to honor. The biggest benefit of eating when we are naturally hungry (at the proper times of day) is that our digestive capacity is enhanced -as our natural hunger signals that all the biological chemical cascades are in place to receive and process food. No matter what/how one eats (Weston Price, Paleo, vegan, GAPS, Macrobiotic, etc), good digestion is a MUST in order for our bodies to even make use of our food. Eating regularly also helps us Pitta types avoid the dangers of being “Hangry”, which results from low blood sugar and can cause all sorts of things like Road Rage and general crankiness!

Pooping, which is the MOST IMPORTANT detox function of the body (aside from peeing), also generally happens early in the morning. It is also controlled by the hormones and nervous system and should be encouraged. It is generally a good practice to not eat the new day’s meal until one had had a bowel movement. This is greatly aided by drinking a large glass of warm water first thing in the morning. (Generally, it is only necessary to have one complete bowel movement per day. Pooping after every meal is possibly the sign of an overly active digestive system that is not “holding” food long enough to fully process it).

What is a good daily routine?

Sleep: Try to get to bed/sleep between 9:00-10:00pm. Do not burn the midnight oil!

Wake: Wake 30-60 minutes before sunrise (the time will shift throughout the year). Earlier is better for most people.

Poop: shortly after waking (preferably sometime between 6:00 and 8:00am)

Eat: Breakfast: 7:30-9:30  Lunch: 11:30am-1:30pm  Dinner: before 7:30pm

If we can try to stick to these general guidelines (for which our bodies are naturally programmed!) we will find ourselves feeling more energetic and healthy.

Below is a great video from one of my teachers, Dr. Scott Blossom, that discusses this topic with some additional info that I didn’t include above:

Disclaimer: the information contained in this blog article is not intended to diagnose or treat any health condition. It is intended for use by Vivian Linden’s clients who have been assessed in her practice. Consult your healthcare practitioner and use at your own risk.

Drops of Nectar

a22e2036b3ff11e28b6522000a1f97ac_7Thank you so much for visiting the Blog page of Rosewood Ayurveda! This page will feature news, views and treasures I would like to share with you all. Please check back soon for updates and information you will love! -Vivian