The Ayurvedic Practice of Abhyanga

Are you sick and tired of trying to find the right lotion for your body type? Did you try the lotion that your best friend loves only to find that it sits on top of your skin like an oil slick? Or when you read the label you find out that it contains chemicals like petroleum or alcohol?

No one wants to absorb bad stuff into their body. In fact, we want to use healthy products on our skin! Just like the food we eat is the building blocks of health for our bodies, what we put on our skin also affects our health and wellbeing!

So my new rule is this: “If I wouldn’t eat it – then it doesn’t go on my skin.” And here are the steps I took to make the change.

#1.  Check ALL the beauty products in your home for the ingredients below. Check your deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo and conditioner, shaving cream, body lotion, face lotion, makeup (yes, even that) sunscreen….ANYTHING that you use on your body!

Artificial Color
Diethanolamine (DEA)
Formaldahyde donors
Parabens
Phthalates
Propylene Glycol
Sodium Laureth Sulfates
Sodium Laurel Sulfates
Toluene
Tri Ethanolamine

These chemicals are all known to cause cancer in mammals. If you find these chemicals in your products I suggest you THROW THE PRODUCT OUT. Believe me, I know this isn’t easy. I almost cried when I found out my favorite lotion was full of bad stuff. But we are trying to lower our exposure to harmful chemicals.

If you want to double-check me – go to google and type in the name of the chemical like this: “toluene and cancer” and look for scholarly publications with articles on the subject.

#2 Go to any search engine and type: Dosha Quiz. They are all pretty similar so just pick one. The main thing we want to know is your primary Dosha which will be either Vata, Pitta or Kapha. There are varying combinations but you will find that you are dominant in one aspect.

#3   Visit this website: https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/lifestyle/self-oil-massage/  Then find your dosha and see which kind of oil they recommend for you. For example I’m Pitta and they recommend Coconut and Sunflower Oil.  Both oils that I would cook with!

Once you find out which oil is right for your dosha feel free to add any essential oil that you prefer. The Chopra Center recommends Sandalwood, Mint, Jasmine and Lavender to balance my pitta dosha. Mix your essential oil in with your carrier oil until it smells just the way you want! (roughly 12 drops per fluid ounce of carrier oil) And now you have a Massage Oil or Body Oil made just for YOU!

#4 Start using this mixture, your Abhyanga oil as a daily ritual to nourish and moisturize your skin! This is normally a pre-shower process which even includes the scalp and hair.  If you’re up for it, the Banyan Botanical site above will give you all the tips on how to do a proper Abhyanga. It is a relaxing process that will benefit every part of your skin, hair and nails.

If you don’t have enough time to do a full Abhyanga join me in using your oil as a daily after shower moisturizer. This is especially great if you shower or bath in the evening because you are not in a hurry and the oil can soak into your skin all night! I’m currently using coconut as a carrier oil with a little bit of Lavender Essential Oil from doTerra and some home-made Vanilla Bean Oil. I rub the oil all over my body. (avoiding my scalp, hair and face) I do this slowly and methodically rubbing the oil in until it is absorbed – usually about 15 minutes and it leaves my skin with a healthy glow all day long!

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PLEASE NOTE: If you’re going to add essential oils to your carrier oil be sure to do some research on the EO that you choose. Some oils can be hot on the skin and can even cause burns if undiluted. Some Citrus oils are not ok to use when going out in the sun or tanning! So be careful and do your research please. I want you to love this and have a great experience!

Happy Oiling! Dawn

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A Journey to Liking Myself

Ten years ago I couldn’t stand to be alone. My kids were 10 and 12 and when they were in school I would go walking or shopping or call my mom. I didn’t like to spend time by myself. And if I WAS alone I had the TV playing or music on but never, ever just quiet.

Why would a person NOT like spending time alone? I mean really? When I am alone I can eat whatever I want without anyone looking at me funny. I can watch crappy, sentimental TV or dance around my house naked. It’s pure freedom!

I think the honest answer is that I didn’t like myself very much. I had everything a girl could want: A husband who supported me, two kids, a couple of dogs, the white picket fence. But I just wasn’t happy.  I was fat and lonely and the negative voice inside my head was loud and opinionated. She kept telling me what I “should” be doing. She yelled that I “needed to” be the perfect wife, mom and home-maker. I could never measure up.

I also didn’t know who I really was. I was just going along in life but I wasn’t really engaged. I was busy trying to be who I thought other people wanted me to be. I gave someone else all the credit for the good stuff and blamed myself for all the bad stuff.

Today I’m a hot mess. I’m a glitter-filled, bundle of energy and joy, who can’t wait to get up in the morning and encourage, uplift and sparkle on everyone I meet. I LOVE life and all of it’s possibilities. I can’t wait to find out what good stuff each day is going to bring and what I will learn from it.

But how did I get from there to here? That’s a really good question. It was a really long process. I started by taking care of myself. I used to be last on the list and that’s not a recipe for success. So step one was that I moved myself to the top of the list and started exercising and eating better.

Step two was that I started listening to the smaller voice that whispers inside of me instead of the loud, bitchy voice. And know what? The quiet voice had the best answers:

Go take a long, hot bath, It’s ok to take care of yourself for a change.

If you don’t want to do something say NO – don’t just say yes because you think people will judge you.

Start speaking your truth. If people really love you they will listen.

Stop apologizing for things you’re not really sorry for or things that you didn’t do.

It’s ok NOT to be friends with people you really don’t like.

Forgive yourself – yes, even the really crappy stuff you did.

Step three involved a lot of self inquiry. I asked myself really deep questions about what I believe, how I want to live my life and whether it was ok to be miserable all the time or make some changes that would lift me up. I had to examine everything that I had held true for over 40 years and come up with answers that truly reflect ME.

I wish I could have liked myself more earlier. It would have saved me a lot of time. But that’s what life is all about right? I am learning lessons along the way? Sharing those lessons with others? Being REAL and Sharing the uncomfortable stuff because we ALL have crap we deal with.

I hope if you’re suffering today with not really liking yourself that you can find some small thing about yourself to appreciate. That you can find a way to start taking care of yourself because NOT liking yourself is very lonely and it affects all of the people in your life.

I can’t wait to see you fall in love with yourself! You can do it!

Hugs, Dawn

The Universe’s Answer is YES

What do you do when the Universe offers you everything you’ve been working toward? For me it looked like dancing around in my living room and pumping my fist in the air while I yelled, “Yes, yes, YES!!!!” really loudly!

It started six years ago when I set some BIG changes in motion. My marriage was coming to end, I had attained a very unhealthy weight and I knew I had to change my life. Eventually, the divorce ensued. I started practicing yoga and the weight came off!

Because I loved Yoga so much I set my intention to become a yoga teacher. I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to pay for my training but I courageously put down my deposit and found that the rest of the money showed up little by little just when I needed it. A similar experience followed with a yoga retreat to Costa Rica.

That’s when I learned that the Universe’s answer is YES! If you want something, ASK for it and then WORK toward it. Don’t just sit on your bum with your hands extended waiting for the goods to drop into your hands. You have to help! You have to put energy in to get something out!

Eventually, I starting telling the Universe that I wanted to own a studio.  I even flew from Seattle to Florida to look at a yoga studio that was for sale. But that place didn’t feel quite right. So I waited and kept practicing and  teaching. I worked and educated myself and dreamt of what I wanted a studio to be.

Recently I went back to school to become a Licensed Massage Therapist – another skill to add to my resume. Then I told a few friends that I was planning to move to Georgia in July – checking in to see if they would maybe have some work for me….and the Universe had a great big YES for me.

Neely Hunter, the owner of Balance Wellness Studio offered me a partnership in her business! Balance couldn’t be more perfect. It is a holistic wellness center that offers massage, reflexology, acupuncture, community meditation and education, Feldenkrais, yoga, barre & Pilates. It’s a cooperative community of wellness professionals and It’s exactly what I would have built on my own!

The Universe’s answer is YES. It may not happen overnight. It might take 6 years. It might take a lot of hard work on your part to be ready for what the Universe has in store for you. Don’t give up hope. Keep moving in the direction of your dreams. The perfect place is out there waiting for you!

You can learn a little bit more about My Yoga Story here. 🙂

Peace, Love & Namaste.

My Yoga Journey

When I came to Yoga, I was overweight, severely depressed and lost. My marriage was coming to an end, I had two teenagers and I didn’t know who I was supposed to be anymore. I had been: mom, wife, church lady, lunch lady, lady trying to be the perfect everything and none of it had worked. I ended up lying on the floor of my house, crying every day for a year. I finally went to the doctor for help after several scary months of not wanting to breathe anymore.

My doctor told me to take some antidepressants, get a counselor and get some exercise. I did all of those. I took anti-depressants, got a great counselor and picked yoga – because I thought, “It’s only stretching right?” Ha! Boy was I wrong!

At the end of my third class, during Savasana I had an epiphany – what Oprah calls “a light bulb moment.” It was that I was in charge! I was valuable and I was enough just the way I am! I can choose to make the decisions for the direction of my life. And everything started getting better from that point on. It wasn’t easy though. I had a lot of tough decision ahead of me and days where I would question every choice I was making.

I kept practicing and then started Yoga Teacher Training. I cried every day in class – I mean EVERY day. I don’t know how my teachers dealt with it. I’m sure the other students thought I was losing it. But it is now four years later and I am a dedicated yoga teacher/lover of myself/bringer of light and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my job!

It’s more than a job really – It’s my life and It’s a calling. For me, the most important part of a yoga practice is getting in touch with who you really are, on the inside. It’s being able to hear that little quiet voice inside that is your heart telling you which way to turn, telling you what you REALLY want to be and do. It’s learning that you are stronger than you think – because you REALLY are! It’s learning that you are worthwhile and lovely and special – or remembering that you are. That YOU are in charge of making your life what you want it to be!

We forget somewhere along in life that it’s ok to listen to that voice. The one that says it’s ok to take care of ourselves – that it’s ok to jump in rain puddles even if we are 60 – that we don’t have to live our life exactly like everyone else – and for me, that you don’t have to be unhappy, overweight and lost forever.

At 44 I saw the light. It was as though someone flicked my forehead and said “You have the Power!” You have the right to be happier. You have the tools to be healthier. You can find your way. Yoga set me free. And I want YOU to be free too.

YOU are lovely and special and you have gifts and talents that no one else has! You have a light inside of you that only you can shine! You have the power to be healthier, happier and free! We create our reality and it all starts in our mind. We get to choose positivity and light or….not. We get to choose our actions – actions that affect ourselves and others for good…….or bad. We get to choose our words that uplift, love and encourage others….or not.

As we begin to make those choices our lives will begin to change. Some people will fall away as you become more aligned with the true you. New people will be drawn to you because of your outlook and positivity. Those who truly love you will stay right by your side and hold your hand and say, “You go girl!”

For those of you who may be struggling today I want you to know you are not alone. You may be struggling with your weight, or with depression, addiction to perfectionism, a need to please every one else. You may be feeling worthless and hopeless. I’ve been there and may I just say…..reach out for help, tell someone, create a circle of friends that will support you, open your heart and tell them the real stuff – don’t keep it hidden.

Go to your doctor if that’s an option, take the stupid meds for a while even if you don’t really want to, and find a way to exercise – go walk, ride a bike or even try Yoga. You might find a community there of loving, real, broken and challenged human beings – just like YOU!!! Who knows? You might even find a calling.

From My Heart to Yours, Dawn

Reflexology with Ronda – St. Simons Island Georgia

My feet are very ticklish! I’m the one who embarrasses my daughter when we get a pedicure because I usually scream and try to pull away when they start to scrub my feet! So I was a little worried when I decided to book a Reflexology appointment with Ronda Porter at Balance Wellness Studio. I wasn’t really sure what all a reflexology appointment consisted of but I knew it involved my feet. But what the heck, I’m up for an adventure right?!

Ronda is the epitome of southern charm. This georgia girl has an easy open smile on her freckled face, waves upon waves of curly brown hair and that coastal georgia accent that makes you think of sweet tea, peach cobbler and warm summer nights.

Ronda lead me into her treatment room which is warm and comforting, soft light filters in through the cloth window blinds and posters of multi colored body parts – espescially feet and hands cover the walls. She put on soft massage-like music and invites me lie down on the table. The table is elevated at one end and I lay down with my head on the pillows. This is when Ronda tells me that I need to turn around an put my feet where my head is! I did it backwards – LOL….my feet go up on the pillows so that they are lifted above my heart.

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Ronda explains that having the feet lifted helps the body drain any fluids that could be accumulating in the lower extremities. It also makes it easier for the blood to flow back to the heart. As I put my feet up and lie down – correctly oriented this time – I feel a sigh escape my body. I am lying in the best ever Savasana and I know it’s going to be GOOD!

As Ronda begins to touch my feet I notice that she uses a firm grip and methodically works the entire foot – around the heel, the ankle, the outside edges, the toes and also the sole of my foot. She is looking for something and paying close attention. She presses strongly on some areas and tugs my toes. She wiggles my foot back and forth between her hands. At certain points on my foot I felt a strong reflex (what I thought of as a sore spot). When she sees me respond to each spot she spends more time on that area by pressing deeply and releasing in rhythm with my breathe. She borrows a line from the last yoga class she took from me, “Breathe in Love, Exhale Fear.”

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The entire body is a system of nerves. From the Central Nervous System (Brain and Spinal Column) out to the extremeties. In reflexology the feet and hands are massaged and manipulated to find “reflexes” that correspond to parts of our body. By pressing and massaging these areas of the hands and feet the body is encouraged to send blood flow to that area thereby sending healing and decreasing inflamation in that body part.

Ronda saved the best for last – the “Lymph Tug.” Ronda stands at the end of the table with her hands holding my heels and begins a slow rhythmic tug, tug, tug …….moving my body up and down slightly. It’s like being rocked to sleep! This tugging rhythm stimulates and encourages the lymph system to drain and it feels GREAT!

I really enjoyed my Reflexology session and I will go again! If you live in the Coastal Georgia area come by and see Ronda at Balance Wellness Studio and if you’re a little further away find a practitioner near you and give it a try! But please, be sure to wash your feet first! LOL….Enjoy!

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