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How To Heal: Ayurveda with Natasha Gayl

Natasha Wellness.png

This week, I connected with Natasha Gayl of Natasha Wellness to get the inside scoop on all things Ayurveda! In this interview, we talk about the history of Ayurvedic medicine, a basic outline of what Ayurveda is, and Natasha’s own journey to living and teaching an Ayurvedic lifestyle! I learned so much during this interview so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Carolyn: Hi Natasha! I’m so happy you could meet with me today! Tell me a little about yourself, what made you become a wellness coach?

Natasha: Hi Carolyn! Well, I got into this a little over a year ago. I've always wanted to be a coach since I was in high school but it wasn’t really a job back then. I had pressure from my Russian family to get a degree, which I did. I worked in my field for a couple years then transitioned because I wasn't feeling fulfilled. At the time, I was enrolled in a yoga teacher training and the whole experience was focused around Dharma. Through that, I realized that my Dharma was to help people through food and healthy lifestyle. With the support of my husband, I left my unfulfilling job and began building my business.

Carolyn: It’s always so interesting to me how each “dead end” in life just repositions you towards creating the life you truly want. What was it about food that made that deep connection for you?

Natasha: Through my own health struggles, food was always my way of managing it. I kept learning and figuring out different diets, aka I was my own guinea pig. During the yoga training, I learned about Ayurveda and it just made so much sense! Not everyone is going to do well on the same diet (hence why I could never stick to one) and Ayurveda really honors that and recognizes that we are all different and require different diets, habits, and practices. I started practicing Ayurveda on my self then decided to take an health coach training that was focused in Ayurveda. That’s what led me to where I am today.

Carolyn: Everything flows for a reason! Had you worked with any holistic practitioners before?

Natasha: I interned with a Chinese herbalist, acupuncturist, and chiropractor. I was trying to figure out my own health issues and doing so led me to connect with holistic practitioners and eventually the beginning of my path, although I didn't know it at the time. Yoga teach training was a launching pad and I'm so grateful for my experience.

Carolyn: Yoga is such a gift, truly, and it’s connected to Ayurveda, is that right?

Natasha: Yes! Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga. It hails from India and is over 5,000 years old!

Carolyn: Wow! So it comes from centuries upon centuries of practice! Can you tell me a little about the history?

Natasha: Sure! Ayurveda comes from Vedic texts that have been translated over time. Ayurveda is similar to traditional Chinese medicine in the way it treats us holistically, but Ayurveda really focuses you as an individual. Each person is made up of a combination of the 5 elements air, ether, earth, water and fire. There is never blanket answer in Ayurveda, it understands that we are all different and require different healing paths. It looks at food, lifestyle, and habits as a way to come back into balance. Ayurveda uses Dinacharya (daily rhythms) to reconnect your body with its circadian rhythms and essentially reconnect us back to the way infants and animals live. Waking, moving, eating, sleeping, etc. in tune with the sun and daily patterns is what reconnects us to our higher selves.

Carolyn: I really love the idea of treating each person as an individual instead of following a blanket plan like most diets on the market today. How does Ayurveda break down who should eat what?

Natasha: There are 3 different Dosha (mind-bod) types that we fall into and it’s all about finding balance between the 3. Protocols depend on each person’s dosha and goals, but essentially if they’re eating and living in balance, no matter what they’re goal is, it will be met.

Carolyn: That’s a powerful promise! Can you break down those types for me?

Natasha: Absolutely! You have Vata, Pitta, and Kapha types that describe different body types.  

Vata is made up of air and ether. This is a wind type so there is a lot of anxiety, ungrounded creativity. A Vata type is usually thinner with smaller features and dry skin. Generally they struggle with digestion issues like gas and bloating. A Vata type needs a lot of grounding and cooked food, meditation, and slow practices like yin yoga. They tend to love running or flow vinyasa but that’s just adding more wind which can increase anxiety..

Pitta is made up of fire and water. Typically a Pitta type will have dry, red, and warm skin. They love spicy food, making lists, and working really really hard. My husband is this type and he’s non-stop - a burning ball of fire! Pitta types have a lot of drive and passion but they can get burned out easily. They love hot yoga classes and intense workouts but they need more cooling practices like a yin yoga class, walking/weight lifting, and cooling foods like cucumber or aloe.

Kapha is made up of earth and water. Together they make mud so they’re heavy, wet and dense. It’s common for them to have big eyes, big lips, and curves. They love sweet and heavy foods that are nourishing and keep them grounded but they need the opposite. Generally, they have a bigger build and are more emotional. They tend to be steady and loyal people. Kapha's should eat lighter cooked foods like warm broths, less grains and meats, and lighter foods in general. They need a lot of movement in their life, especially vigorous movement. They need to get out of their cocoon!

Your dosha shifts throughout your lifetime and can shift through the seasons which is why I offer the seasonal cleanse.

Carolyn: I think I’m a mix of Kapha and Pitta, but I’m not 100% sure. I should probably enroll in your cleanse! Can you tell me a general outline of how the 7 days would go?

Natasha: I’d love to have you join a cleanse! I call it the seven day whole foods and self care cleanse and I offer it in groups and through private coaching. I always have people ease in for the first 3 days - that’s when you figure out your dosha and prepare to go deep. I offer a robust cleanse guide with recipes, self-care practices (dry brushing, tongue scraping, oil massage) and why we're eliminating certain foods. I offer multiple recipes available based on your dosha for each meal. You get to choose your own adventure and you don’t have to eat anything you don’t like!

Carolyn: That’s good because I hate diets that make me eat food I don’t enjoy!

Natasha: Of course! This is all about self-care and you should enjoy your food! The whole point of the cleanse is to bring people back to themselves. I want to teach people how to cook and take care of themselves. The recipes are all anti-inflammatory and then there’s levels that people can choose from. That way an "experienced" cleanser and a "novice" can both find the right cleansing path for them. My cleanse is not meant to be so intense your body fights the process. I want you to work in sync with your mind-body to uplevel your current state of being. If you can’t imagine getting rid of everything at once, then you can choose to only give up certain things. If you’re already in a place where you’ve given other things up, we can start more advanced. We’re all in a different place and we don’t want to shock the body. This is a lifestyle shift and we want to make it sustainable!

Carolyn: That sounds incredible. What is the main message you want someone to take away from your cleanse?

Natasha: Don’t be afraid to cleanse! Cleansing is a really wonderful introduction to healthier living and, from what I’ve found, it’s the most approachable. The cleanse is just seven days, anyone can do it, and it’s a great way to dip your toes into Ayurveda. There’s open communication and support from me the whole time so it’s not something you do on your own. I’m happy to hold your hand through the process. Plus, you can basically eat any of the recipes after the cleanse since they are plant-based and nourishing. This ain't yo mama's juice cleanse!

Carolyn: Having that support makes all the difference! Thank you so much for meeting with me today. Where can people find you to sign up for your class?

Natasha: Of course! They can find me on my website, on Instagram, and on my Facebook page as well!  

Interviews by Carolyn from Without The Weight, Inc. are meant to share all the different options available to heal your mind, body, and spirit from a holistic lens. Any advice or recommendations are meant to work as complementary therapies alongside any treatment provided by your medical practitioner and are not suggested as a replacement for medical care.

Resources To Manage Stress and MS

The only thing more stressful than the diagnosis itself is dealing with the symptoms.

MS is a really tough disease that can feel impossible to navigate, but I want to let you know that you have control of the ship and there are so many treatment options available to find relief!

When I first started on the MS path, I thought the only thing I could do was take my medication and “try to stress less”. I had NO IDEA what it meant to stress less (isn’t it a part of life to be stressed?), how to do it, and nothing gave me more stress than taking the medication itself.

I started with injections and I hated it, every single time. I just wanted my disease to go away, but instead, it seemed to get more fierce with each passing day. Everything felt out of control and I didn’t know how to feel grounded again. I needed help and felt completely lost.

That’s why I decided to write this post today. It took me YEARS after diagnosis to reach out for help… but once I did, I was AMAZED at how much is available for MS patients. Non profits like the National MS Society and MS Focus (these are just two of the heavy hitters but there are many small organizations as well) are working day and night to improve the lives of MS patients and I couldn’t be more grateful for all they offer. For example, MS Focus helps to relieve stress with grants for everything from Health and Wellness Programs, Homecare Assistance, Healthcare Assistance, and more!

If you have MS or are affected by a loved one with the diagnosis, use these resources. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Reach out to these networks for support and they’ll gladly direct you to relief…. and that’s what matters more than anything. YOUR RELIEF.

Happy healing,

Carolyn Rachel

How To Heal: Yin Yoga with Pamela Newman

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A few years ago, I found myself with a friend in New Hampshire at a Yin Yoga class. I’d been doing yoga at home for quite some time, but I’d never actually been to a class. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I felt nervous, but as the class flowed, I realized how beneficial this type of yoga could be. By the time it was over, my life was changed forever. I was head over heels for Yin.

According to Yogapedia, “Yin Yoga is a slower-paced, more meditative version of the popular physical and spiritual discipline of yoga. In Yin yoga, the poses are held for a long period of time (typically three to five minutes or longer) to target the connective tissues (such as the ligaments) rather than focusing on the muscles. As a result, the asanas are more passive holds, with little muscular engagement.”

After that first class in New Hampshire, I came back to Boston and immediately searched on google for a nearby class. As if divine intervention was guiding me, I discovered a class at the perfect time above my favorite restaurant in Cambridge (just an aside, it's called Life Alive Cafe and you should DEFINITELY go if you're ever in Boston!). Yin yoga with Pamela became a staple in my weekly routine and I loved how much mental strength I developed by focusing on my breathing during those long holds.  

Through that practice, I’ve learned to better manage stress, to carve time out of my schedule for self care practices, and that healing the body doesn’t have to be aggressive or quick… it can be simple and flow smoothly.

That’s why I wanted to interview my bright light of a yoga teacher and now my great friend, Pamela Newman, to share a little more insight with you into the world of Yin.

Carolyn: Hi Pam! Thank you for interviewing with me! You know how much I love your class and I’d love for others to become aware of the power of Yin, so this is great! Let’s just jump right in… Tell me, what makes yin yoga different than a standard yoga class?  

Pamela: Hey, Carolyn, thanks for having me! Yin targets your connective tissues as opposed to your muscles, like regular yoga classes do, so we do all of our poses on the mat for anywhere from 2-6 minutes.  Each pose is supported with props so you can relax the muscles to stress the connective tissues.

Carolyn: Right. So it’s less about getting a workout and more about relaxing the muscles, which is huge when it comes to reducing stress! What are some other benefits of taking yin/restorative yoga?

Pamela: The benefits are endless!! But to name a few, it helps with stress management, improved joint mobility, increased circulation, lower blood pressure, anxiety reduction, increased flexibility, and it calms and balances mind and body.

Carolyn: No wonder I love this class, I need all of these things… It’s amazing how one class can have such dramatic benefits! Can you break down how a class with you would go?  

Pam: Sure! We open in a relaxing pose to get centered in the present by either lying down or sitting upright. Then, we go through a handful of poses that we hold for 2-6 minutes. It can take up to a minute to set up each pose but, once you are comfortable in the pose, you resolve to be still for the remained of the time and attempt to keep your mind present throughout. At the end of each pose, we come out slowly and do a minute of rebound in a more relaxed posture. Every class ends with an extended Savasana (final relaxation pose).

Carolyn: Ah, Savasana, my favorite part! Despite all the benefits, Yin hasn’t picked up in popularity in the Western world yet. What prompted you to start teaching Yin and Restorative yoga?

Pam: After 10 years of regular vinyasa, ashtanga and Iyengar classes, which are all considered yang or active styles, I took my first ever yin class in Portland Maine with Sagel Ulacher and fell in love. I couldn't believe how challenging it was for me to be still for so long.  As a self proclaimed type A personality, I realized immediately the benefits that slowing down would bring me.  When I started my 200 teacher training I knew right away that I wanted to offer my students Yin and restorative because the benefits of slowing down were endless for me.

Carolyn: Wow, so you fell into it just like I did… except you’ve had a lot more practice with other styles! Ten years is a long time, what got you involved in yoga in the first place?

Pam: My older sister dragged me, kicking and screaming, to a hot yoga class in 2007 when I was staying with her in Princeton, NJ. I had been running for years and never felt so open as during class. I just felt the immediate benefits of better posture and increased confidence. After that, I was hooked.

Carolyn: Oh, that’s so funny that you went kicking and screaming! Funny how we always need what we’re resisting most. So, you teach yin all over Boston now… Who should come to your classes?

Pam: Everyone! Although I believe “should” is a judgment word, so I would say that physically yin yoga is accessible to most people. We use plenty of props to support each individual's postural needs and in our overly busy “on the go” culture, most people would benefit from slowing down and spending some time in their parasympathetic nervous system.

Carolyn: Ah! You caught me using the should word! Louise Hay would be questioning me up and down for using that. And yes, I completely agree… we spend so much time in our Sympathetic Nervous System (fight or flight) that it’s an absolute gift to have Yin to bring us back to our Parasympathetic (rest and digest). After decades of practice, do you have a favorite yoga pose?

Pam: Definitely Deer pose - I have been known to drool over the bolster in this pose :)

Carolyn: Haha, just the imagery makes me laugh. Let’s get back to your class. What’s the main way you hope your class attendees feel after class?

Pam: At ease, centered and grounded in themselves.

Carolyn: That’s beautiful. And what is the main message you hope people will take away from your class?

Pam: You are perfect just the way you are, let's love ourselves a little more and judge a little less.

Carolyn: Amen, girl! What are your top three tips for people who’ve never tried it or are new to yoga?

Pam: Come with an open mind and know you don't have to do any of the poses, breath work or meditation techniques that don't resonate with you.  Everyone's experience will be a little different and you can't do it wrong!

Carolyn: I love that. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions about yourself, Yin, and your class. It was such a pleasure, as always, to connect with you and I can’t wait for my next yin class! Just tell me now, how can people find you?

Pam: I currently teach around Boston at Yoga Works in Back Bay, The Corner Studio in Medford, and Coolidge Yoga in South End. To keep up to date on my classes or any pop ups, follow me on instagram at instagram.com/yinspiritwarrior!

Interviews by Carolyn from Without The Weight, Inc. are meant to share all the different options available to heal your mind, body, and spirit from a holistic lens. Any advice or recommendations are meant to work as complementary therapies alongside any treatment provided by your medical practitioner and are not suggested as a replacement for medical care.

How To Lose Weight Through Stress Management

Is the secret to weight loss something that can be done without ever getting up from your chair?

I know it sounds weird. Let me explain.

You’re most likely reading this post because you’re tired of always trying to lose weight. You’ve got the gym membership. you know the diet, heck, you may even have all the foods stocked up in your fridge. Yet, something always gets in the way

Cravings, invitations to events where you don’t want to seem difficult, or even just boredom or a bad mood can come into play and mess up all your weight loss plans. Before you know it, those margaritas from happy hour on Thursday extended to a weekend bender that leaves you bloated and disappointed all over again.

You get mad at yourself for being “weak” and then resolve to start all over again…. on Monday.

Sound familiar?

I’ve been there and through my journey of talking about it, I’ve found that it’s extremely common for other people to go through it too.

But why?!?!

I genuinely thought it was about the food. I thought that there was just something about me that was hyper programmed to want to eat massive amounts of salty, sweet, and delicious (but ohhhhh so bad for you!) treats, but when I look back at what gets in the way… those cravings, invitations, or emotions…. it made me realize that I was wrong. DEAD wrong.

It doesn’t actually have much to do with the food itself and everything to do with what’s going on in your mind.

I know, I thought it was crazy too, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made!

Weight loss comes from diet and exercise, but if you can’t get yourself to do it, how can you ever be successful? Every action comes from a thought first. Your thoughts talk to the cells in your body and tell it what to do and it doesn’t matter if you’re going vegan or paleo, taking dance classes or doing cross fit, if your thoughts don’t match your goals, your body won’t know how to get you there!

That’s why I focus with all my clients on stress management over weight loss.

We look at slowing down our thoughts, becoming aware of the story line that goes on in our mind, and then using specifically targeted mindset exercises to help shift that thinking from negative to positive.

The truth is, in order to be successful, you have to think successfully. It starts in your head and once you learn how to manage your thoughts, your health, happiness, and healing will naturally follow.

What do you think? How has your mindset impacted your journey? Comment below and share what you’re struggling with and what tools you’ve used to overcome it!

How To Maintain Motivation

It’s Monday.

You’re pumped with energy and ready for the week. You got everything together this weekend, making sure you had healthy food in the house, meals all prepped, and that the gym membership that you’ve been paying for (and not going to) for months was still active.

Motivation is just flowing through your veins as you go through the day, excited that surely, this will be the last time you ever have to start over.

Monday through Wednesday are great! You snuck a few m&m’s on Wednesday but that’s nothing compared to the king size bag you used to scarf down every day. That’s all in your past now.

But then, on Thursday, that cute coworker tells you that they’re all going out for happy hour after work and you should come.

Anxiety hits.

You brought your meal prep, but you’ve been working so hard all week and you really want to be social. In fact, it would be bad business not to go and one night out with coworkers couldn’t be that bad. You’ll just have one drink and jump right back to your diet tomorrow.

You go out and somehow, one margarita turns to three. Soon you’re splitting nachos and wondering if anyone is down to order another plate for the table.

The next morning, you wake up with a hangover and bloat.

You’d be happy to start over today, but you didn’t pack your lunch last night and all you can think about now is how good a cup of coffee and a piece of lemon cake from Starbucks would be. You’ll get a salad for lunch.

But then lunch comes around and the office ordered pizza to celebrate that it’s Friday. You think about your bank account and opt for the free lunch and gossip with your coworkers about last night’s escapades.

By the time you get home, you’re exhausted and opt to order Chinese food. It’s the weekend now and you’re absolutely beat. For sure, on Monday, you’ll start over one more time.

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. In fact, this is the cycle most of us live in.

We start a new diet or exercise routine with gusto but soon, as external situations pop up, we lose motivation and fall off track.

Really, all we needed was to know was how to stay motivated, but instead, we let our goals fall to the wayside and put it off, just for one more weekend.

Enough is enough.

If you have goals that you want to hit, making the decision to hit them is the first step.

Second step is understanding why that goal is so important to you. What will dieting bring you? Weight loss to fit into your old jeans? Better health so you can heal your chronic illness? A calmer and more focused mind so you can excel at work? Whatever the end goal is, get clear on it and keep that image in your mind.

The third step is to surround yourself with motivation. According to Zig Ziglar “Motivation doesn’t last, but neither does bathing. That’s why we suggest it daily.” Fill up your social media feeds with pages that remind you of your mission, keep notes around your bedroom and office to keep you focused, bring yourself back to the reason for your goal as often as humanly possible.

By doing this every single day (multiple times a day) you are filling your brain with that motivation. Truth is, it’s in the action of constantly bringing it back to your attention that will keep you motivated, not the actual motivation itself.

Motivation is yours in abundance if you keep your mind on the goal. Position yourself for success and it’s yours for the taking!