Open to Meeting Ayurveda Halfway: Adapt Recipes for Individual & Cultural Needs
Traditionally in India, you would (and could still) visit with an Ayurvedic practitioner for 5 – 10 minutes, they will feel your pulses, tell you what to do, and you will do it, if you chose to. The idea of being open to meeting Ayurveda halfway is a relatively new one. In the old days, 100% compliance was valued. It is still valued. Yet today, there’s a lot going on. You may not be able to do an Ayurvedic protocol “perfectly”. I’m not suggesting, be a slouch. More I’m saying, Ayurveda holds many good ideas and practices for optimal health, and you may want to start trying some. Open to meeting Ayurveda halfway, so to speak.
It could be you start putting oil on your feet at bedtime to deepen your sleep. Or weave some yoga or breath work into your early morning before work or school. Or you may look at how you could shift how you’re eating, without abandoning the groceries you already have on hand. I’ve been inviting people to open to meeting Ayurveda halfway in my practice, books, and teaching for a few decades now. The results have been favorable.
I was open to meeting Ayurveda halfway
It was Ayurvedic physician Dr. Shalmali Joshi who pointed out in a Iecture many years ago that the classic text Charaka Samhita translates as “they who walk everywhere”. It was her implication that Ayurveda was meant to travel to many lands and peoples.
As a nutrition educator, I liked the idea of healthy, easy to digest meals made with respect. I appreciated that different foods were appropriate for different types of people and bodies, Ayurveda’s constitutional approach. And the concept that while one’s constitution might not change, one’s current conditions could. Ayurveda works skillfully with changing conditions. All this suited me and my clients. I am grateful for her inspiration and perspective.
I’ve written three Ayurvedic cookbooks. While some of the recipes are original creations, many have been adaptations. At first it was my co-author Mataji (Urmila) Desai and I deciphering how to translate Gujarati ingredients into foods commonly available here in the US. We did this long distance from her home at Kripalu in Massachusetts to my home in the outback of New Mexico. Mine was a rural setting, and the only phone service available was one where the operator listened in. (Yes, those times really did exist.) Mataji would tape different kinds of dals onto pieces of lined paper, then mail them to me. Once I got them, we would talk over their qualities and methods of preparation, the operator listening in. We adapted to our conditions, and The Ayurvedic Cookbook was eventually born.
Later it was my family that was open to meeting Ayurveda halfway. They’d gotten hooked on the idea of fresh food, yet were hoping to eat something other than curries every day. Faced with their needs and interests, Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners was conceived, with me shifting familiar American recipes to suit more subtle Ayurvedic concepts of taste and digestive fire. Still later it was me watching just how many smoothies get consumed. Could we Americans drink differently, with a stronger focus on Ayurvedic principles? With this question in mind, photographer Renee Lynn and I created Easy Healing Drinks from the Wisdom of Ayurveda, a full-color healing dance through the seasons.
Often in my practice, it’s been my clients who are open to meeting Ayurveda halfway, or more. Some people who work with me have a deep knowledge of Ayurveda already. Others are meeting it for the first time, when they meet me. There is a common openness to the process, that I really appreciate. It’s fun, coming up with what’s practical and easy, and suited to whatever person I’m working with. It’s why I ask people to bring in a 3-day food recall with them when they first come to see me. I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel or impose an idealized Ayurvedic food protocol or lifestyle on their lives. We work together, a work in process, with how Ayurveda can be used in every day ways. This adaptability, curiosity, and flexibility in my clients and me is part of our success together in healing with Ayurveda.
This new course invites us to open to meeting Ayurveda halfway, together
I use a step by step approach for integrating favorite foods, flavors, and tastes into a healthy lifestyle. I’ll be presenting this approach in Adapting Recipes for Individual & Cultural Needs, this November 2nd and 9th. It’s about lightening up on certain ingredients, cutting down on white sugar and processed foods, introducing more fresh local foods into your lineup. More roasting, less frying. It’s about adapting recipes in an Ayurveda way for our times, in terms of being affordable and more sustainable (read: less plastic for one).
It’s not just about food, it’s more about being open to people doing things in different ways, that there’s not one right way. Yet I think for me, it’s also about holding a line, I’ll come to meet halfway, yet my job is to hold with Ayurveda standards and health-supporting ways, to be honest about options I think could work in a given situation.
This course is not about learning how to adapt Ayurveda to every imaginable cuisine on the planet. We’ll be working together with the cuisines and individual needs that each of us brings to the table, the participants who choose to come. My classes tend to be relatively small. If you have a specific need and/or cuisine you want to focus on, great, this course is for you. If you are an Ayurvedic practitioner looking to get more skilled and adaptable with Ayurvedic nutrition strategies under diverse conditions, this course could also be for you. (NAMA PACE credits are available.)
We’ll suss out tastes, textures, attributes from an Ayurvedic perspective. We’ll go over sample recipes, and consider different kinds of meals to go with them. You’ll bring a couple of recipes you want to adapt. We’ll save Baking for the second week of the course (it’s two Wednesdays, back to back, just 2 hours each day), since baking is a little trickier, talking about what flours are best for what dosha and which conditions, how to bake gluten-free goodies without heaps of sugar, this sort of thing.
Communication is part of being open to meeting Ayurveda halfway
Adapt Recipes for Individual & Cultural Needs is one of the courses within my Dynamics of Ayurvedic Nutrition series. As an Ayurvedic nutrition educator, I’ve found that knowing what to suggest is important, yet how I communicate it, is at least equally essential. In the first course in this series, Marma, Mind, Mahagunas, we worked with reflective listening. In this second course we’ll be entertaining another communication tool, questions.
In working with the here and now in this present moment, you can learn not only how to adapt recipes Ayurvedically for personal use, yet also how to apply this professionally, as a food educator, Ayurvedic practitioner, healthy chef, what have you. Come play with us. This course is designed for both personal and professional growth. Consider yourself invited.
Opening to Accessible Ayurveda now
In the spirit of encouraging more Accessible Ayurveda in the world, the cost is donation-based, what you can reasonably afford. Adapt Recipes for Individual & Cultural Needs is happening November 2 and 9, Wednesdays, 11 am – 1 pm MT or 5:30 – 7:30 pm MT, different times to suit where you are.
Again, in the spirit of Accessible Ayurveda, my Easy Healing Drinks partner Renee Lynn and I are offering the most affordable price on the planet for Easy Healing Drinks from the Wisdom of Ayurveda, Check it out here!