Dr. Vasant Lad @ the Ananda Ashram

Ayurveda is beyond beginning and ending. A science of eternal healing, it is compared to a vast ocean, and studying Ayurveda to swimming across. A true teacher can teach one how to swim, but the swimming is up to the student; it is a lifelong journey. -Dr. Vasant Lad

When I think of Dr. Vasant Lad, warmth fills my heart, my eyes water a bit, a heartfelt smile on my face appears and gratefully feel inspiration to learn more and serve others. Last week I08 or so students had the pleasure of spending time with this respected and known pioneer of ayurveda, Dr. Lad, in a six day workshop at the Ananda Ashram in Monroe, NY.

I am still downloading my experience from the workshop, consisting of two lectures per day with Dr. Lad, संस्कृतम् sanskrit (ancient language) classes, delicious सत्त्व sattvic (pure) food, yoga classes, walks in the woods, meditation, canoeing on the Saraswati Lake and lots and lots of संघ sangha (community).

It was so profound how Dr. Lad could graciously create an environment for the beginner and the more advanced aspirant as he spoke pure and deep about the pulse diagnosis, the physical and energetic channels of the body, living in moment to moment awareness, talks of healthy food and healthy relationships, natural remedies, breathing exercises, rejuvenation to improve vitality, medicine making, relationships and the path of divine love. ‘Wow, can you imagine?’ (something he might say inviting our curiosity).

He would start his class chanting sweetly, humbly referring himself as ‘the speaker’, all the while channeling ancient information in a sincere, organized and joyful approach. He fed us with his melodic voice of the sutras and other mantras for healing. When we would do our part as a group of the call/response, he would wear an innocent, blissful smile.

Dr. Lad’s heart is undeniably full of compassion for suffering, calling to my mind my own mother’s endless, selfless, unconditional love. As each of us vulnerably approached him individually to have a pulse assessment, he gave his wisdom as to who we are, where we are out of balance and what we can do to improve ourselves. He stayed late, assisted us on his “lunch break” time, he tirelessly gave fully to individual and the group. He was loving us.

Although I learned many techniques, recipes, philosophy and applications, the real teaching that resonated in my heart is to be compassionate in this world. Some of the wisdoms I felt from Dr. Lad’s teachings were: “Decrease the separation between ourselves and nature as well as between ourselves and other beings. Listen. Begin to understand that anger is only love that did not get a chance to express itself. If we can let go of our identification from our thoughts, emotions and feelings we can let go of suffering. The heart is the seat of consciousness. The mind is the inner instrument of experience. Ask ourselves the question ‘who am I?’, but do not seek the answer. We are eternal bliss.”

Trust your instincts, find the teachers who are right for you heart, who show you ways to lessen the space that separates you and your true nature. Then, when you are ready, teach others in the same light.

Gayatri Mantra (GUY-ah-tree)

Aum Bhur Bhuva Svah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
Dhiyo Yo Naha Prachodayat

On the absolute reality and its planes,
On that finest spiritual light,
We meditate, as remover of obstacles
That it may inspire and enlighten us.

Gayatri is a mantra of physical, emotional, and mental healing, purifying the subtle karmas, protection from the onslaught of obstacles, and of spiritual awakening or Self-realization.

July NYC Master Teaching Events

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
― Rumi

After a busy day of massage and a cleansing yoga class taught by my ashram brother, Jason, under the full moon nectar of Guru Purnima, I am so excited to talk about a special month of study/teachings being offered in NYC.

The more I delve into my journey of service, the more I gratefully find myself in the company of authentic, masterful, generous teachers who serve their students on an unprecedented level. The teachers I am speaking about, are guides, they are gifts to this lifetime who selflessly offer experiential (as well as intellectual) maps that kindle the flame in the devotional hearts of many.

So, it is time to share!

I am thrilled to announce one of my most inspired teachers, Arjun Das, from Brazil will be coming to visit NYC to teach and consult. We have planned a week long tour of NYC July 11th-17th with quite a few events for everyone interested in learning a basic principals in Ayurveda and tips on how to take better care of ourselves (translation: love ourselves more, re-awaken our natural instincts, lessen the separation between ourselves and others, tap into unbridled creativity, let go of fears, etc.). Who is interested?

Arjun Das is an Ayurvedic Practitioner & Panchakarma Specialist, and founder-director of TriGuna Institute in Brazil (since 2001). He was recognized with the award ‘Vagbhata 2009 – Excellence in Teaching Ayurveda’ by AAPNA (North American Ayurvedic Association) and has represented Brazil in major Indian Conferences as a guest lecturer. He is a Certified Hatha Yoga Instructor (2001) and is a researcher in Medical Astrology, studying local herbs and their connection with Vedic astrology for health and meditation. Arjun offers Ayurvedic training courses in various states of Brazil, USA, Europe and India since 2001, where he also supervises his students for clinic residency in Kerala.

Please check out 5 Elements Spa Event Page and share! Most lecture events average about $20/$25 for 2 hours.  Arjun will also be taking 75 Minute Consultations for either a professional Vedic Astrology or Ayurveda Constitution for a fee of $150.  For questions or scheduling exceptions to events page, please contact Cynthia.

Remember to have some quiet time to yourself this month, stay cool, bask in the moonlight, smell the roses, sit in the shade and find the breeze. Please contact me with any questions, assistance or just to connect! Happy biggest full moon of the year.


P.S. The Ananda Ashram in upstate NY will be hosting Dr. Vasant Lad the week of July 17th, check this link. We will be headed up there on Tuesday morning.  Hope to see you there too!

what is 5 Element Spa?

“When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space”. -Pema Chodron

Planting seeds of Ayurveda.
An evolution.
A love of nature.
An intention for both subtle and deep healing.
An offering.

With roots in Ayurveda and a strong commitment to offering healing modalities and workshops that support the re-connection of our body/mind/spirit, Cynthia has created 5 Element Spa as a living breathing offering.

Services: With over ten years experience practicing yoga and massage therapy, teaching and business owning, Cynthia is currently offering Massage Therapy and Ayurveda body treatment services in two esteemed holistic locations.  Offering basic workshops in Ayurveda and Aromatherapy for the community at large.  Private in home massage or yoga services personalized to bring mind/body/spirit nurturing to even the busiest New Yorker.  Collaborating and promoting amazing master teachers and co-creaters of a healthier connection to our true nature.  Jumpstarting a program in NYC to bring accessible yoga/massage/healing to those in need by building a partnership with TOR non-profit.

Products: Believing in taking great care of our bodies and the planet, everything we endorse and sell is full of life, love, sustainability and prana which then CREATES life, love, sustainability and prana in our bodies and the planet.  Stay tuned for 5 Element Spa products!

Why the 5 Elements? Why Spa? The 5 Elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth) are an accessible way to get to know our selves, others and our environments better in all aspects of our daily living.  It can also be a means of re-ingniting our own intuition that will allow us to become responsible individuals with own health harmony and well being.  The spa aspect is a way of incorporating the ancient traditions of spa like hydrotherapy, hot and cold therapy, plant based medicines, herbal concoctions and all things that represent the essence of the elements.

Thank you for being a part of this magical journey!  I look forward to serving you.



moment of clarity

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
– John Muir

It was a magical moment of clarity that I remember as if it were yesterday. One late afternoon a few years back, I was relaxing on the beach at the Sivananda Ashram on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Sitting comfortably and cross legged on my bright yellow cotton sarong the soft, cool sand came up to meet and support me. As I close my eyes, I can hear the peaceful rhythm of the waves in the ocean calming my mind. The setting sun was at the ideal time of day to provide a nourishing warmth inside my being, the lightness of the gentle wind whistled between coconut tree leaves and gently swept over my skin. It was a time of day at the ashram before dinner, when most of the guests and staff were scarce, so it’s easy to feel as though you have this peaceful edge of the island all to yourself. It was in that moment, when I began to consciously feel the elements alive not only in nature, but deep inside of me. The separation between nature outside of me and nature inside of me began to dissolve. Perfect harmony.

This time at the ashram was sacred for me. I was living there for several months and blessed enough to work for one of my mentors, Lalita Devi, in the Well-Being Center offering Ayurveda body treatments and massage. It was a transition time of my life, moving from Washington, DC to New York City. I committed to letting go and allowing clarity to flow in with asana practice, meditation, ayurveda study and community.

Why did I want to study Ayurveda? Over almost ten years ago, I was living in Washington, DC, attending massage school, working hard in the restaurant industry and had been studying with my first master yoga teacher, Susan Meyer. Although taking asana classes slowly began to shift my life, I was still faced with some imbalances that were ready to be set free.

I had a horrible case of pinkish red, weeping eczema/psoriasis covering the anterior side of my arms, between my fingers and behind started breaking out behind my knees. After multiple unsuccessful treatments from quite a few dermatologists. Talk about stress feeding more stress. My yoga mentor, Susan, asked me if I had tried Ayurveda. Never hearing of it before, but tired of putting very strong steroids on my skin with no results, I sought out a Ayurvedic Practitioner, Don Diggs, in Bethesda, MD. I fondly call him “Dr. Diggs”. He not only assessed acute symptoms, but listened to my life story and complete health history. I have never had a consultation like this before; I felt the sweetness of surrender, someone is listening to all of me. He then prescribed a “pitta pacifying” regime including asanas, food lists, meditation, Ayurveda herbs and the application of neem oil and aloe.

It got worse before it got better, but Dr. Diggs was determined the “fire” needed to come all the way out and this was the route. And… it did, using the science of Ayurveda, the root of my imbalance began to heal. Within that year, I had two barely visible breakouts. Under the care and guidance of Dr. Diggs, Ayurveda text reading, dosha specific yoga study, more herbs, neem and aloe, my eczema has dissipated. The fire came out. This natural and intuitive way healing began my love for the poetry of Ayurveda.

I am eternally grateful to my teachers who put me (and keep me) on my path, fellow healers, family and friends who love me unconditionally and the beautiful angels who make their way to my workshop offerings and my massage table.

If you are intrigued or feel a spark inside of you, I deeply encourage you to open your heart and experience the 5 elements as a boundless, living, breathing part of your daily life. Please enjoy these ancient seed offerings and join me to live a more harmonious life with nature, others and especially within ourselves.