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I experienced profound peace within the first couple of nights of experimentation. On night 2 of the experiment I had this crazy thought: that if I were to not wake up, things would be ok…it wasn’t that I didn’t want to wake up, I’d just be ok with not waking up, too. This thought occurred in the few moments after I had tucked myself into bed and before I fell peacefully asleep. I did, of course, wake up the next morning, joyful and well-rested and smelling lavender. But the warmth of that thought stopped me in my mental tracks throughout the following days, likely because of it’s supreme oppositeness to general thought patterns of my life, and specifically a grand fear surrounding the mystery of death. It was an interesting experience.

I practiced every night for the first 8 nights. I felt more aware of my disliked sensations throughout the day, and I chose to recognize their presence and breathe through them. I was more aware of liked sensations, too! I experienced lightness as I woke in the morning, and I felt gratitude for a calming night’s sleep. I found myself abiding in greater clarity.

As time went on, I practiced the evening routine inconsistently, in both occasion and quality. By three weeks’ end, I engaged with the routine with genuine intention about two-thirds of those nights. Sometimes I lazily chose distractions because they seemed momentarily easier. Almost always, I felt the ramifications of evading the practice. I found it more difficult to recognize internal sensations as they arose, rather noticing these vibrations when they had already grown large enough to usurp homeostatic and healthy functionalities. Basically, I got madder, sadder, and anxious-er more often.

There have been some other changes in my choices during this experimental period. For the last 10 or so mornings, I’ve oil pulled with coconut oil before brushing my teeth, varying in duration between 5 and 15 minutes. I enjoy this morning purification process. I also choose to eat mostly pitta-pacifying foods; I often eat a few pieces of ginger before a meal and I drink more tea each day. I avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight (something I used to bathe in!), and I am more aware of dodging pitta-aggravating substances and environments. These are all new undertakings that I believe have happened somewhat subconsciously but in connection with my experimental and more structured evening practice.

I know that one of the most fundamental components of practice is to just-do-it. Regarding this philosophy, I like to think about laws of physics; namely the Law of Inertia, which states that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion at consistent speed, unless acted upon by an external object. Applied to my experience, this law exemplifies that: changes in my nightly behavior towards peace will create greater peace in my life, and continuance with the status-quo of distraction will lead to greater distractions in my life.
Writing this paper has given me the opportunity to reflect significantly on my experience, and in doing so I am realizing that much of life is actually fairly simple, and to complicate is a conditioned habit. I’m grateful to have this paper as testament to clarity. Thank you for helping to guide me, Susan and Derik! Initiating and committing to growth is, as of today, not easy for me. But it is freeing. Thank you for your time, heart, and for creating space for sharing and listening.

In the age of the billion-dollar supplement industry it appears that there is a product for every need. But this is not a new concept; nature has always provided us “products” to help heal our ailments. Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga, has taught people how to use nature for optimal health for thousands of years. The following posts, from one of Axis Yoga’s teacher training students, is a great example of Ayurveda at work. This student used Ayurvedic recommendations to help reverse the hair loss that began after childbirth.

My Ayurvedic experiment focused upon making my hair thicker and healthier.
Shortly after giving birth to my daughter I started to notice hair loss and even developed bald spots on both sides of my forehead. Previous to this course, I had tried taking vitamins that promote hair growth in addition to shampoos recommended by my hairstylist, but neither seemed to work for me. The suggestions for the design of this experiment were taken from the Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies by Vasant Lad.
According to the Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, hair (along with nails) is considered to be a byproduct of bone formation. Even though I was aware that the hair loss occurred because of the hormonal changes from giving birth, I read that proper bone nutrition is necessary for healthy growth of hair. For example, if I don’t completely absorb both calcium and magnesium, not only will my bones themselves be adversely affected, but my hair may become brittle, develop split ends, break easily, and even begin to fall out.

My Experiment:
My experimental timeline was 4 weeks, during which time I focused on two main areas: diet/supplements and massaging hair oils.
First, it was immediately obvious that eating a properly nutritious diet would be vital. Adding more calcium in the form of dairy foods such as cheeses, milk, and freshly prepared yogurt is beneficial for bones and hair. Additionally, I bolstered this diet with a daily mineral supplement containing calcium, magnesium, zinc, among other minerals.
Second, I focused on two specific massaging oils for my hair. According to the Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, rubbing a little oil on your scalp each night can be beneficial for your hair. This part of the experiment was run with two types of oil, Bbringaraj oil and Amla oil, graciously provided by one of my mentors, Ms. Susan. Before going to bed each night, I took extra time to oil and massage my scalp. At first, I had to overcome the strange odor and fear of making an oily mess on my pillows. The application was focused on my forehead scalp and then gently massaged gradually to the back of my scalp for 10­15 minutes. Next, to stimulate the scalp, I brushed my hair continuously for 5­10 minutes. The brushing benefits are twofold: it helps improve the blood circulation at the root of the hair which makes the hair healthier as the necessary minerals are delivered to the hair through the bloodstream. Brushing also helps the oils absorb deeper into the scalp.
As early as the third night, I started to notice a tingling sensation on my scalp during my massaging which led me to believe that the process was working! Previously, I would shower daily, but in order to allow this experiment to work properly I decided it was necessary to skip a day or two giving my scalp a chance to absorb these essential oils more thoroughly.

The developments from both diet change and ritually oiling and massaging my head each night have been profound. Not only has my hair begun to look shinier and healthier, but it has begun growing again (and quickly!) Another unexpected benefit of the process has been the deeper sense of relaxation from the ritual at the time of sleep each night, the result of which has been better sleep! In reaction to these markedly positive outcomes, I have maintained this nightly routine even after the length of my experiment period, I really enjoy the nightly scalp massage. The success of this experiment has truly made me a believer and I look forward to testing many more of the Ayurvedic Home Remedies on my own as I encounter them.

Sometimes it just takes one small change to trigger a series of healthy transitions.

This is something Axis Yoga Teacher Training students have the chance to experience first-hand. The following student committed to adding a short Yoga practice to the morning routine and soon experienced the desire to make other healthy changes. This all resulted in better awareness of what the body needs and a commitment to continue making positive changes. Axis YTT students prove over and over again, every journey really does start with one small step!

I have a tendency to aim higher than I can jump, so for my Ayurvedic experiment I decided to keep it simple. My goal: To do just ten sun salutations, the eight Kriyas, and some meditation every morning. This turned into other things as well – drinking water with lemon every morning, as well as meditating before bedtime and avoiding screen time in the hours of the evening. The hope: that my energy throughout the day would be more focused and that I would be able to use some of that energy to keep my life more organized.
I have always loved mornings, so setting aside time for me first thing in the morning has been lovely. I rearranged my room so that I have a place – a very small place, but still – to do my yoga and meditation, and, as a result my room stays more organized. My energy throughout the day is much more stable – part of that may also be due to the fact that I don’t usually feel like I need to drink coffee after my morning practice, so my caffeine intake has dropped severely. This doesn’t mean that at first I didn’t want to just keep drinking coffee anyways – but that I noticed I didn’t want it as much, and then made an active decision to stop consuming it. The same goes for alcohol – not that I was much of a drinker anyways, but it has come to my attention that even drinking on the weekends once in a while (which so much of our culture finds totally acceptable) is detrimental to the rest of your week.

Something else I noticed about having my own personal practice was that I felt more of the ‘side-effects’ of yoga than I do when simply attending classes. Although I attend some of the same classes week after week, they are never at the same time every day, and they usually don’t start until around nine in the morning. Not to mention the task of getting ready to leave the house- getting up and having my asana space there and ready made ‘getting to yoga class’ incredibly easy! Once I got into the rhythm of practicing every morning that is.
I will admit that at first I had trouble with that rhythm! And tried to rationalize myself OUT of doing my practice – well, I’ll go to class at nine anyways, or, I’ll just do it tonight after the gym, that counts, right? But after I started noticing how much more aware I was during the day, and how stable my energy was afterwards I wanted to practice more. And more and more things begin to grow out of this one little change – I wanted to stay away from TV before bedtime, I wanted to be outside more during the day, I started walking to the grocery store (which is so close to me I can’t believe I wasn’t walking there before) just to be out in the sunshine in the morning. I have always tried to be aware of my hydration, but through this practice I begin to drink a big glass of room temperature water with lemon in the morning, and to stay away from icy cold water during the rest of the day.