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Yoga and Ayurveda in Cape Town, South Africa workshop review.

October 5, 2012

Yoga and an Introduction to Ayurveda with Jennifer Stephens.

On Saturday 1 September 2012 one of my favourite South African yoga therapists and Ayurveda practitioner, Jennifer Stephens, hosted a workshop at the Yoga Ayana studio in Tokai, Cape Town. If you have ever been lucky enough to attend one of Jennifer’s yoga classes or workshops you will know what I mean. As one of my first yoga teachers, this warm-hearted, super knowledgeable and compassionate teacher always has a smile on her face and is definitely one of the few real living yogis, (in my opinion of course).

Having studied yoga and been introduced to Ayurveda during my teacher training over 10 years ago I found Ayurveda to always be a bit of a daunting practice as the philosophy and practices seem so vast and complicated, (and to be honest I’ve just not really known where to start!). I also find it quite strange because in the West yoga and Ayurveda seem to be quite strongly linked, however, when I went to India earlier this year to the yoga and Arogya Expo and conference I learnt that yoga and naturopathy are directly linked and that Ayurveda is a stand alone practice, separate from yoga. Needless to say this discrepancy led to many discussions and debates about yoga, Ayurveda and naturopathy and still seems to be an on-going debate in the international yoga world.

So deciding if I want to spend more time looking into naturopathy or Ayurveda, I decided on the latter and decided to attend Jennifer’s workshop to see if she could somehow explain Ayurvedic concepts to me in a clear, easy and straightforward method. Our workshop started with determining our doshas and discussing the elements/prakrtit that make up the 3 main doshas. Having this basic information is so helpful to understanding general overriding principles that affect each of us. We then explored the sense of taste by determining where on our tongues we could taste certain food items and where in our bodies these areas on our tongue are directly related. For example, sweet can be sensed at the tip of the tongue, and this area and taste of sweet is related to the thyroid gland, which regulates our metabolism. Which means if you take in too much sweet stuff, you could be over stimulating that organ, simultaneously, if you have an imbalance with a certain organ, for example your kidneys, you may want to see if you are maybe over or under doing salty tastes in your diet. Super interesting!

So with most of that understood, we then looked at the balancing effects of certain food items and spices as well as easy lifestyle changes one can make on a daily basis to help bring oneself back into a natural state. Having a clearer understanding of one’s constitution can really help to make decisions about choosing the right type of foods, drinks, flavours, activities and so forth that one should partake in to ensure optimal health.

So now that I’m trying to bring about a bit more rest, regularity and routine into my life, this slightly unbalanced, spring cleansing vata-kapha yogi hopes that you will be inspired to explore some new facets of yoga and health.

Looking forward to seeing you on the mat or at one of our next workshops.

Namaste`

Nina.

PS. Make sure you receive the YAA newsletter to stay informed about regular workshops as well as the next Introduction to Ayurveda workshop with Jennifer.

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