keeping our hearts connected

Where there is love, there is life.
― Mahatma Gandhi

We often talk about the heart (and heart chakra) in yoga with words like, “open your heart”, “place your hands in prayer in front of your heart” and “breath into your heart”. We clasp our heart when we feel compassion or when something touches our soul. When we hug, our hearts connect. In India, there is often a silent salutation with the gentle touch of the heart. A newborns innate safest place to nuzzle is into a warm heart. Within the chambers of our hearts, we each have our own cellular stories stored; there is no right or wrong, our hearts are affected by our life experiences and karmas.

We all have our unique stories, yet we all share this incredible muscle that sends blood around our bodies. This blood provides our bodies with the oxygen and nutrients it needs. It also carries away waste. How nourishing, detoxifying and beautiful! So, we beat together, even though it may be at different rhythms. While February can bring up a myriad of feelings, it’s helpful to check in to our “Self love bank” and see what our balance is. Changing the world one loving vibration at a time requires this sweet do-diligence.

Here are a few easy techniques I learned along the way to invite balance and love into the passionate wisdom of our hearts true nature.

1. Hugging: Seriously :). Take a deep breath into your heart and a slow exhale upon embrace. Connect, give, love and be present.

2. Smile with your heart: Sit comfortably, close your eyes. As you inhale allow the breath to fill your relaxed abdomen (think soft belly) first and then draw your inhale into your chest up to your clavicles (“collar bones”), then bring it even further and allow with corners of your mouth to smile gently, hold the breath for a second or two without strain. Keeping a gentle smile on your face, slowly exhale releasing from the chest first and flow down to your lower abdominal muscles (imagine down to your tailbone). Repeat 10 times. This can be used on its own or just before settling into your meditation practice.

3. Heart Mantra: Sit comfortably, close your eyes. Allow your inhale to fill your heart three dimensionally into the front and back of your body.  Repeat (aloud) 5 times peace, harmony, laughter, love. Now whisper (aloud) 5 times: peace, harmony, laughter, love. Finally, say these words to your heart on the inside for as long as you can without strain (recommended 5 minute minimum). Enjoy these words, fill your heart without contemplation. Give to yourself as if these are gifts for your very special valentine. Open your eyes gently, let the mantra go and vibrate love.

Be well this Valentine’s Day and give love to your own heart. Vibrate your loving gift to all those around you. If you are in NYC Valentine’s weekend and want to join 5 Element Spa (and many cool sponsors) for an inspiring community/yoga/wellness day/live music/dance party weekend of events benefiting others, check out this big love weekend to the right of this page.

Love,
Cynthia

january 2014 ayurveda bodywork

You do not see anything when you experience pure consciousness; you become everything.
― Sebastian Pole, Discovering the True You with Ayurveda

ayurveda-massage-600x366With winter in the air and a new year in our presence, it’s a great time to remember that each moment offers us an opportunity to make conscious decisions for our health and well being. Variable weather, extreme cold temperatures, dryness from external heaters, increasing moisture in the air, as well as shorter days of sunshine throughout winter can begin to add additional stress on the body and mind. The following nourishing ayurveda body treatments are a great way to support internal balance. These particular treatments pacify the current vata (space and air) dosha weather as well as the beginning stages of kapha (earth and water) dosha*.

Abhyanga: Detoxing and rejuvenating. Using a dosha specific warm oil, the whole body is massaged with medium pressure strokes, including the scalp, face and abdomen. Using long strokes on the long bones and circular strokes around the joints, an abhyanga promotes circulation in the flows of the body: arterial and lymphatic.

Shirodhara: Deep healing. This treatment typically begins with a modified abhyanga massage to open the body. Warm oil is then streamed onto the Ajna chakra or “3rd eye”. As one of the most meditative treatments, the nervous system is allowed to surrender as brain waves synchronize. Often times it promotes a gentle sleep that allows the mind to dive deep into the ocean of healing and return calmed and refreshed.

Nasya: Sinus and mind clearing. To prepare the sinuses and upper respiratory for opening, this treatment begins with a head, neck and face massage, followed by facial steam. Warm medicated “nasya” oil drops are administered into each of nostril while inhaling. The client is then advised to draw residual ama (toxins) into the back of the throat and spit it out. Depending on how prescribed, this treatment can be very effective several days in a row.

Marma Massage: Balancing. Working more specifically on the subtle body, marma massage includes holding specific energy points of the body after each body segment has been massaged in an abhyanga style. The therapist determines if tonification or detoxification of each marma point is advised. With roots in martial arts, marma points are powerful energetic and pranic energy junctures throughout the body.

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A daily practice of self-abhyanga is also a wonderful way to keep the body nourished, loved and balanced.  Even taking five minutes before or after your shower to apply a warm organic abhyanga oil to the entire body is highly beneficial.

If you are in the NYC area and are interested in booking an appointment with me, please click here.

Wishing you an inspiring January! Follow your dreams, let your creativity flow and remember to be gentle with yourself.

Love,
Cynthia

*please note: ayurveda treatments can be tailored with product, rhythm and technique to pacify specific dosha imbalances regardless of the season; speak candidly with your practitioner prior to treatment for best results.

india 2013 film documentary

IMG_2767Once in a lifetime experience of authentic teachings in Ayurveda coupled with a front seat navagation adventure with my love, my trip to India was mindblowing.  Surely, the passport of my heart will long carry a stamp of gratitude for this journey.

It began in Kerala, well…. no…. it actually began in Dubai!  I stop at a cafe to get myself ready for India with a spicy chai after a long flight from NYC.  In a synchronistic moment across oceans from Brazil, my mentor, teacher and soon to be guide of India, Arjun Das arrives on the scene with and a very lively bunch of beautiful Brazilians.  We join together with introductory double kisses and Portuguese that I don’t (yet) understand and we all join in line for the last leg of our India arrival to Kozhikode.

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We were graciously greeted in the airport by the Ayurgreens Ayurveda Hospital team.  Flower bouquets for each of us, a decorated van with disco lights and Indian music and we were off to the hospital in Kerala.  Several weeks with an incredible team of dedicated yogis and many many learning moments of magic later, the second portion of my adventure continued with my love when destiny brought us together in Delhi, India.  Now it is time to shift gears as a spriritual passenger to a full blown driver with my love (the most supportive husband EVER!).  We traveled to Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Pushkar, Udiapur, Gujarat and finally Goa (and definitely some places, planes, trains, motorbikes, tuk-tuks and automobiles in between)!

I could go on and on about this trip and maybe my journal entries will make it to the blog page….. but for now, I have a funny inclination that you would prefer a visual interpretation of what our camera saw in India.

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Jai (salutations) and many thanks to all of the energy, people, animals, plants,  love, grace, elements, service and teachings that manifested into this journey.

Super special thanks to Arjun Das, founder of Triguna Institute and Viver Ayurveda (this is who you want to go to India with!), Dr. Asgar, Vaidya Karunaji and the amazing team at AyurGreens, Kerala.

Check out India 2013 Video here and 5 Element Spa Vimeo Page 

PASSWORD: 5elementspa108

Love,
Cynthia

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graduation!

The import thing is this: to be able at any moment
to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.
– Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

The auspiciousness of longest day of the year, the summer equinox. Today, the class you see in the photo has graduated an Ayurveda Practitioner program with New World Ayurveda. For me, this journey began when curing a long battle with eczema (by the suggestion of my wise yoga teacher, Susan Meyer) happened in an office in the Bethesda Medical Center occupied by my first (w)holistic health care practitioner, Don Diggs.

I was knee deep in massage school with the length of the inside of my arms full of a weeping, inflamed, slightly oozing rash that had been anointed with topical steroids for just about several years. In our initial consult, Dr. Diggs asked me about my life, not just about my symptoms. Over an hour or so, he asked me about my past and current medical history, my emotional life’s story, he looked at my eczema ridden arms and professionally showed compassion. We talked about stress, sleep, diet, appetite and elimination. He “read” my pulse on my wrist, looked into my eyes and at my tongue, taking notes along the way.

Finally, my whole being was heard. Tears shed and intuitively I knew I came to the right place.
He prescribed the yummiest jam I ever had called chavanaprash, a specific “cooling” diet for my heat, told me I should apply aloe to my arms, gave me a restorative yoga practice, a really sweet meditation and a number of herbs (in pill form) to detoxify my blood and body. What was I doing? In my very rational midwest mind, I had felt like I went off the deep end a bit, but an innate desire for healing allowed me to surrender and have some blind faith. After all, nothing else had worked beyond temporary symptom suppressant.

I followed the prescription of treatment and, at first, everything got worse. I called the my practitioner and explained; he adjusted a few things and told me to hang on, healing was on the way. I hung on.

A few weeks later, my symptoms subsided. My body and mind were cooler, less stressed. I felt as if I had entered a new being. I had been out of balance so long, I need some time to adjust and began to accept and understand the my attachment for my extra fiery self. At this moment, I knew, this was a message that I needed to share.

Over the last decade (with unwavering support of my family and friends), I have been blessed to continue not only my own self studies, but the study of Ayurveda with wonderful instructors and organizations that have deeply influenced my current practice, such as Lalita Devi with the Sivananda Center for Wellbeing, David Crow with Floracopeia, Dr. Vasant Lad, Arjun Das with Viver Ayurveda, Greens Ayurveda Center in Kerala, as well as one of the most comprehensive clinical studies I could have dreamed of with Dr. Paul Dugliss and New World Ayurveda.

I am quite aware that while maybe not all approaches to a cultivating a new health care practice begin with telling a personal story. But for me, I thought you should know, Ayurveda is a living breathing component in my life. I experience my own body, mind and spirit through the 5 elements of Ayurveda. While the practice and message of Ayurveda are universal, for me they are also personal. It is a path of imbalance and balance, harmony, awareness, consciousness, love, forgiveness, truth, letting go and definitely moments of magic. I look forward to meeting you on this journey.

Yours in service,

Cynthia G King
Ayurveda Practitioner
Licensed Massage Therapist
Certified Yoga Instructor

a decade of massage

Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels, simply by pouring out love. Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy.
Sai Baba

Ten years ago this month I graduated from Potomac Massage Training Institute and became a certified and licensed massage therapist. I can still remember walking into my first class of massage school. The teachers set up back jacks (floor chairs) in a circle and we sat around playing a memorization name game = your name + favorite food. I was Cynthia + corn (still holds true). As my top notes of nervousness began to evaporate, oddly, the energetic core of my being felt completely at home with all of these strangers. The class size wasn’t too small or too big and each person was more interesting than the next. With a wide variety of nationalities, social classes, backgrounds and ages, we all had different reasons for enrolling in massage school. But somehow, a calling at this moment in time meant we were about to explore our karma together for next year and a half (maybe more). For the remainder of my education, we met in circles, we learned, we shared and we grew. The instructors, students and energy of this school changed the course of my life.

Our teachers guided and supported us, held our hands and gave us tools to study and practice massage. We learned anatomy, physiology, ethics, body systems, body structure and self care routines. We studied Eastern and Western approaches as well as modern and ancient traditions of healing. As an undercurrent of all our studies were encouraged to practice compassion, non-judgement, acceptance, sensitivity, listening techniques, awareness, effectiveness and how to “hold space” for healing to occur. I learned massage was equal parts art and science.

What is massage? When I began to teach massage, I would often ponder – “what are we teaching?” Sure, there is a curriculum protocol that you are required to follow, but offering authentic positive healing touch is so much more. As a practical massage instructor, I have sacred vivid memories of watching new massage therapy students tap into their instinctual ability to be in service of massage. The energetic purity of healing is mind blowing. For me, massage is an opportunity to unblock energy channels, release toxins, mirror and quiet down the mind, body, spirit long enough so that it can tap into it’s own deep innate knowingness of healing. The massage therapist is the humble facilitator.

I have had the pleasure of working with many clients from many different populations and ages with a variety of injuries, syndromes, diseases, conditions that range from physical to emotional. The hands on experience of working for ten years has taught me that, unequivocally, there is no separation within the mind, body and spirit.

With the gift of massage therapy as my foundation, I have had the opportunity to wear many hats such as employee, independent contractor, instructor, small business owner, marketing analyst, payroll accountant, volunteer, spokesperson and mentor. I have been able to tap into different modalities of massage, a long term yoga practice, yoga teaching, meditation, massage instruction,  ayurveda and continue my studies in holistic healing therapies.

My heart, soul and hands are grateful for the last ten years. Clients are my blessing. With profound respect, my teachers and fellow massage therapist colleagues are my unsung heros. My loved ones are my support. My father, my inspiration. Thank you (beyond words) for a wonderful decade.

Yours in service.

Love,
Cynthia

India

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
– Henry Miller

As gratitude sets in for my practices, the unconditional love and support that surrounds my life, I am filled with an inner curiosity.

Why India? Why yoga? Why ayurveda? Why me?

My spiritual journey is not always steady and peaceful, it requires work. But, it brings me deep inner joy and has an unquantifiable meaning in my heart. It supports me, allows me to observe, heal and then flower time and time again. But, what is it that draws me (and so many others) to India? I look forward to continued contemplation.

I will begin my journey in Kerala, studying in an Ayurveda Hospital for two weeks. The rest of the trip has yet to be determined, but I will be flying out of Dehli, so traveling South to North is in the cards.

When we answer the call to hold the hands of others, the light shines brighter on our own path. Not knowing what is on the other side, I am grateful for every footstep that has brought me here.

Trip details: Jan 2 – Feb 8, 2013
NYC work details: back to work @
Pratima Spa = Saturday, Feb. 9th;
Moksha = Tuesday, Feb. 12th

Love and light to you in the new year!
Namaste,
Cynthia

call to action

Action expresses priorities.
-Mahatma Ghandi

Transforming intention into action is what inspired my trip last week. Living as a (mostly) city girl who really appreciates being in nature, I took an educational trip to upstate New York to spend time with some inspiring people, connect and be in satsang (Sanskrit सत्सङ्ग sat = true, sanga = company).

My first stop was an overnight trip. I took the train from NYC to Rhinecliff, NY where my good friend, Dana Eudy and her daughter, Francis picked me up. The Eudy tribe: Michael, Dana and their two super fun kids Cy(rus) “the tree climber” and sweet Francis, who generously thanks the cows for their milk as a typical grace before dinner.

Not long ago, the family completely changed everything about their Brooklyn, NY lifestyle to be in service to medicinal plants and the well being, holistic health care of local communities by creating an herbal farm and apothecary called Field Apothecary and Herb Farm.

What do they do and how do they do it?  they built a greenhouse, designed a farm, tended to the farm, harvested crops (this year!!!!!!), created a CSA (community supported agriculture), made medicine, created ½ share and full share programs of these beautiful herbal honeys, tinctures and “kitchen” medicinals.  This is a huge undertaking, a lot of blood, sweat and maybe even a few tears. But this family believes that the plants have a destiny and while they are taking care of the plants, they watch, listen and then deliver these wise messages to the community.

After getting my boots in the mud and hands in the dirt (literally) at the Field Apothecary, Michael, Dana and I traveled to Saratoga Springs, NY for a workshop with David Crow, founder of Floracopeia (enter 5elementspa for a discount), who was hosted by a good friend of ours and local Saratoga Springs acupuncturist, Brigette Kinder.

The workshop topic was Ayurveda Aromatherapy. For those of you who do not know David Crow (yet), he is the founder of Floracopeia. He is a botanical master, a magnetically charged poet that has the ability to manifest vast community awareness and healing through a certain transcendent philosophy of plants, all the while, strongly committed to sustainably replanting the global garden.  Full of action, he is all of that, and then some.  I have taken several trainings/workshops with David and each time my heart and mind are fully satiated, somehow he reminds me we (all living beings) are connected. If you get a chance and the spirit moves you – go and be with David, he is a gift. Listen and learn, he freely shares his experience with plant based medicine.

Without further ado, I would like to introduce to you – the lovely, Bridgette Kinder, L.Ac., founder of Ageless Acupuncture and Herbal Apothecary  in Saratoga Springs, NY. She is a powerfully humble practitioner with an unstoppable dedication for healing.  She offers high quality and experienced acupuncture sessions, herbal and ayurveda consultations. She has a beautiful healing center downtown. Her most recent call to action?  Jars and jars of herbs full of healing energy carefully placed on shelves in a beautiful apothecary (doors opening soon) awaiting their custom blend destiny. Wow.

As I am being called into action, I am grateful for the authentic flames of inspiration that keep my fire ignited.  Come join me, Sunday, November 11th for a community workshop in NYC, at the Alphabet City Community Center, where we will experience and discuss practical uses of aromatic botanical medicine (essential oils) through the the lens of the 5 Elements in Ayurveda Medicine.

Love,
Cynthia

nature (re)connection

Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.
William Wordsworth

Monday morning. Taking a city break by train, enjoying the introspection of the visibly changing leaves. Mostly deep green, yellow and a few fiery trees, creating a burnt sienna haze if you relax your eyes. Some of the brighter mustard leaves are beginning to fall, but the overall feeling is still quite lush. The Hudson River on my left through the trees with only the sounds of the train chugging along in a valley between the rocky hills and mountains. Content.

It is our true nature to connect with nature. This trip is precious to me. I have had the blessing of meeting and spending time with Dana and Michael Eudy in a couple of auspicious occasions. This time I will have the day with the family including their two kids and the plants. They are my heros. The plants called them to help, to make medicine, to serve. They listened and pursued. Looking forward to the day unfolding. First, take time to take the warm sun in and meditate. Om.

product wisdom

True wellness and lasting beauty can only come from knowledge—
the knowledge of yourself and how you play a part in nature and everything that surrounds you. – Dr. Pratima Raichur

Taking a trip?  Packing a few ayurveda self care body products for any trip is essential.  Some products I packed for a recent beach getaway (most shown), focus on bringing harmony and nourishment to the skin and body. With meager beginnings over a decade ago in the wellness world co-creating an all natural body product company, I have tested many natural skin care lines. These are some of the best…. so I had to share. Enjoy!

Criteria for products I love:

natural = non-synthetic, made from nature’s 5 elements
organic = when possible
responsible = respects mother earth
connected = has a traceable story of ingredients, recipe, maker
sacred = created with intention, knowledge, tradition and lots of love

Floracopeia Products:

I am completely in love with the scents and essence of the new natural perfume Chandra Collection from Floracopeia. In each of these sweet little bottles you can find the worlds most exotic oils preserved in jojoba oil. Champa, rose, tuberose, jasmine and neroli…. really powerful. On this trip, I brought my rose (cooling), champa (grounding) and neroli (a spicy, sweet kick). Using my intuition, I blend. The size is absolutely perfect for travel and will fit in even the smallest of clutches for easy access anointing. Immediately after application, you will feel good and so will those around you!
The cost: $25/each or the whole set of 5 for $100. Add the 25% discount code below (5elementspa) and you get all 5 for $75.

Link to order products:
Floracopeia – Enter 5elementspa to receive a 25% discount

Pratima Spa Products:

Our teeny tiny NYC apartment bathroom is full of Pratima Spa products.  A few essential that made the trip: Pitta herbal cleanser (not shown), Purifying Oil, Neem Rose Face Sunscreen + Neem Vetiver Body Sunscreen. Pratima’s herbal cleansers are dry (add water for desired consistency), herbal, easy to travel and great for summertime pitta skin. It takes the oily edge off without disrupting the skins natural pH. I use three drops of purifying oil (full of essential oils) post cleanser. ‘Oil on the face?’ you ask… Yes, my friend – welcome to Ayurveda! It is so nourishing!* The sunscreens are made specifically for face Neem/Rose or body Neem/Vetiver. For my face, I currently use the face sunscreen as a light daily moisturizer. For intense sun, both should be applied every two hours for mazimum protection. For the body, Pratima staff expert advise: start with a nourishing layer of Neem Oil, then apply Neem/Vetiver Body Sunscreen.  These products are natural, they do not clog pours and they have the ability to heal deep tissue layers.
*Pitta skin products work for my specific summer skin type; you can customize Pratima’s products to your own skin type by taking a skin dosha quiz on line or by scheduling a consultation with Dr. Pratima Raichur.

Link to order products or shop in person @ Soho NYC shop:
Pratima Skincare – Pratima Skincare

Aromabliss Products:

Ritually based and thoughtful in creation, Aromabliss products are magical. Lilavati (creator) is such a goddess and when you use her products you will feel like royalty.  On this trip I brought Vamakeshi Hair Oil (not shown), Nasya Oil, Breast Balm (not shown), Shakti Ojas. Vamakeshi Hair Oil: After days in the ocean, sun and sand, I massaged this into my scalp (and my sweetie’s) for a rejuvenation treatment. This oil can easily be incorporated in your daily self abhyanga, at the scalp. While on vacation, I used the ocean as nature’s neti pot followed by a few drops of Nasya Oil to extend clarity and keep the colds at bay with this natural anti-inflammatory that coats as well as delves deep into the tissues. Aromabliss Nasya oil is incredible and I will continue to use daily in NYC! Goddess breast balm is full of Ayurveda tradition for breast health with pomegranate oil, macadamia butter and evening primrose. Lush, luxurious and great for daily use, I also found this balm also nourishing for breast tenderness. Shakti Ojas = juicy goddess.  Aromabliss could not be a more perfectly descriptive name for this product line.

Link to order products + detailed descriptions of product ingredients/use:
Aromabliss – Aromabliss Ayurveda Skincare

teachings

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.
– Buddha

Some moments we are a caterpillar inching and chomping along a branch slowly and other days we can take flight with our strong, yet delicate butterfly wings.  And, of course – there are those days when we all desperately wish the cocoon would last a little while longer….

When we feel these changes and sensations, what do we do?  While working hard, feeding our passions, raising our families, creating our futures, supporting our loved ones, looking for love, changing the world one ________ (insert your craft here) at a time, etc. is there time enough to check in and truly take care of our body, mind and spirits?

How can we can enjoy each metamorphosis in our daily life?  We have heard it before, but the journey really is the destination!  In my life, I have found a great love for Ayurveda, which has become an essential component allowing me to be in the “now” and offers me intuitive guidance to continually bring my life back into balance.

Please join 5 Element Spa for community workshops, full of nectar, to support you on your path in the upcoming months. Click Events Page Here.  I look forward to seeing you!

Love,
Cynthia