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MY AYURVEDIC JOURNEY TO WELLBEINGClaire StephensonAs the seasons change, so our lifestyle, food and yoga should change in accordance with our life experiences. I was born with spina bifida which has now evolved into spondylosis. I have also experienced some secondary dis-ease like learning difficulties, IBS and impaired bladder control. Each time, I have been empowered through ‘knowledge of self’ to take the necessary pure, natural and conscious steps towards my own self-healing. I found yoga and have been practicing it since I was 19 years old – shortly after my mother’s passing. My journey began with Iyengar Yoga, which was necessary to correct my gait. At the time I was wearing orthotics – and, after a couple of years of yoga, I had developed strong arches and my toes spread beautifully to balance out my feet, legs, and hips. In yoga, we suggest being ‘well rooted’ to the ground, drawing up healing and inspiration from Mother Earth – which is more easily done when walking barefoot. Nowadays science substantiates the benefits of a practice called ‘grounding’. I practiced Iyengar Yoga three times a week right up until I met Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in 2007 and decided that instead of going to Pune, India, I would do my TTC 1 (Teachers Training Course) in Bangalore. Sri Sri yoga is a more ‘heart-filled’ yoga and this is when I truly ‘moved from my head to my heart’. I had finally found how I was going to express my truth, through this system of Hatha Yoga and Pranayama (breathing practices). After my son Stuart was born in 2011, I learnt and qualified in Pregnancy Yoga and when he grew older, Kids Yoga as well. Since we were taught the ‘Eight Limbs of Yoga’ in the Bangalore Ashram, my personal practice had to evolve to suit my circumstances and commitments as a mother. Photo: Will SwannIn 2017, I found myself once again in chronic pain. It would radiate down the side of my right leg and left arm. I drastically needed to make a change to my lifestyle and yoga practice. I was fortunate enough to participate in a Mindful Yin Yoga Intensive Training with a teacher visiting from Canada. From then onwards, this became my personal practice – slow, Mindful Yin Yoga, which brought me back to balance.
Today I allow myself rest, recovery and repair and suggest this to patients when they come for their Ayurvedic Consultations and treatments. I welcome change more easily and believe that I am more resilient under the circumstances. The last couple of years have been incredibly challenging for many of us and I like to think that ‘when others are down – I am up’ and it is my Dharma (right action, duty or nature) to hold space for others in their time of need. My yoga practice has evolved to suit the ‘medicine I needed in the moment’ and I’m grateful that it has allowed me to heal and inspire just that in others along my yoga journey.Claire Stephenson Ayurveda & Yoga Practitioner Claire 2 ClarityIn the following issues of Evolved Magazine, I will be sharing my Ayurvedic recipes with you. These recipes have been extensively tested and refined over a number of years, providing a solid foundation from which to explore the Ayurvedic diet and I hope to inspire you all to investigate this amazing alternative diet and practice.
These recipes will form part of my upcoming Ayurvedic Cook Book which I aim to publish in 2022.