Ayurveda, an ancient practice for healing the mind, body and spirit

Suzanne Lang of Philadelphia was about to apply to medical school 20 years ago after studying pre-med at Dartmouth College when she changed her mind.

Suzanne Lang, Ayurvedic Counselor. (Photo by Sarah McKay/Submitted to MediaNews Group)

He knew he wanted to be a healer, but everyone he knew who worked in Western medicine was miserable, Lang said. I didn’t feel good about it, so I turned around.

While she was preparing her professional career, she started practicing yoga and decided to follow teacher training. Through his training, he learned about Ayurveda, a system of traditional medicine originating in India.

Most people are familiar with Ayurveda in relation to diet and nutrition, which is a good foundation, but it’s much bigger than that, he said. Treatment options include yoga, herbal medicine, mindfulness techniques and massage therapy, as well as diet.

Book "What to eat for how you feel" includes 100 seasonal Ayurvedic recipes.  (Courtney Diener-Stokes/By MediaNews Group)
The book “What to eat for how you feel” includes 100 seasonal Ayurvedic recipes. (Courtney Diener-Stokes/By MediaNews Group)

As he became more immersed in the study of Ayurvedic medicine, his gears began to turn again.

The seeds of my next work were planted with that, Lang said. It was another path to healing that I felt more aligned with.

It allows you to take control

She was drawn to the uniqueness of this style of medicine which she describes as one that allows you to take control.

It’s awakening your inner wisdom so you can find well-being on all levels, he said. It is a holistic form of healing that addresses the body, mind and spirit.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Ayurveda translates to the knowledge of life that is based on the idea that illness is due to an imbalance or stress in a person’s consciousness.

Ayurveda encourages certain lifestyle interventions and natural therapies to restore balance between the body, mind, spirit and environment, Johns Hopkins states on its website.

Lang spent two years studying at David Frawley’s American Institute for Vedic Studies with practitioner Ed Zadlo, who he noted is a pioneer in bringing the concept of Ayurveda to America. He also studied under Dr. Rama Kant Mishra, whose descendants were the original Ayurvedic physicians of antiquity.

Most of the books on Ayurveda are thousands of years old and written in Sanskrit, so I started devoting my time to studying the language, so I could delve deeper into the meaning of the philosophy, he said.

Focused on prevention

What makes Ayurvedic medicine different from Western medicine is that it focuses primarily on prevention, rather than treatment of disease. It’s intended to serve as a way of life, not just to use if you get sick.

If you have a health problem, find the root cause and what needs to change that’s out of balance in your life, Lang said, adding that he focuses on a personalized wellness plan.

Spending time in nature is very healing.  (Pexels/For MediaNews Group)
Spending time in nature is very healing. (Pexels/For MediaNews Group)

Today, Lang consults through her business, Rock Star Ayurveda, as an Ayurvedic consultant. Clients come to her with a variety of problems, including the need to reduce anxiety or resolve digestive issues or insomnia. He said some are ready to completely revamp their lives and others want to tweak one thing at a time.

I work one-on-one with people on diet, mindfulness practices, yoga therapies, nature therapies and herbal supplements, she said.

Disconnected from nature

Many of his clients are stuck on computers and screens in their daily lives, which he said is not good for the spirit.

We are so disconnected from nature that people need to be reminded to look at the night sky, walk barefoot on the dirt or stop to listen to a songbird, he said. Anything in nature is so healing.

Laura Geiger of Spring City, Chester County, has been a Langs customer for many years.

I have been going to her for various health issues, Geiger said. What I appreciate about her style is the use of food to heal and balance my body. Suzanne takes the time to listen and understand my needs and health concerns, and provides a well-thought-out, accessible and nutritious plan to bring stability and well-being.

Seasonal workshops

Three years ago, Lang began offering seasonal two-hour workshops with her friend and colleague Gabrielle Sigal, who specializes in Iyengar yoga and has a yoga studio in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood.

They are sister sciences and share the same lineage and philosophical background, Lang said. Yoga has exploded, but Ayurveda is much less well known.

Combined, they work very well together, with yoga focusing on the enlightenment of the mind and Ayurveda serving to establish a foundation of good health that allows entry into higher spiritual states.

Working with Suzanne helped broaden my horizons, Sigal said. It opened me up to all the possibilities beyond asanas.

It enriched his life

The way Ayurveda enriched her life and helped her grow inspired Sigal to want to share it with others.

We wanted to offer this to help people understand that, so their awareness grows as well, so they can learn how to take good care of themselves, Sigal said. It can help you improve digestion, clarity, focus and sleep well.

At the workshop, people spend time doing yoga poses, chanting and learning Ayurvedic principles and receive a take-home kit that includes things like a special tea blend, recipes, oils and a spice mix, because they can take their practice home with them.

It’s a whole lifestyle of learning, and I help guide them through the journey using wisdom from 5,000 years ago, Lang said. Ayurveda has transformed my life on every level so now I am living my happier, healthier and happier life.

Rock Star Ayurveda offers individual consultations and group workshops on an Ayurvedic lifestyle. For more information, email suzannelang@rockstarayurveda.com. The next Ayurvedic Summer Reset Workshop will be held on Saturday, June 8 at Gabrielle Sigal Iyengar Yoga, 1639 North Hancock St., Philadelphia. To register, visit www.gabriellesigalyoga.com

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