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Island yoga instructor brings traditional Indian medicine to Vashon
Well-known yoga instructor Ronly Blau has brought a new healing practice to the Island.
After two years of intensive training and an internship in India, Blau, 43, who teaches yoga at Island Yoga Center, the Blue Heron and other Island locations, opened Meadow Heart Ayurveda in Paradise Ridge last fall. Filling a unique health care niche, Blau is the only Ayurvedic practitioner doing lifestyle and health consultations on Vashon.
A 5,000-year-old traditional system of health and healing from India that works to bring balance to the mind, body and spirit, Ayurveda is considered a sister science to yoga. It’s different from other healing modalities in that it’s not just about treating disease, Blau explains.
“It’s a program that works on imbalances to help people reach well-being,” she said. “Some of the things that can bring you out of balance include lifestyle, what and how you eat, the timing of eating and sleeping and how you handle stress. When you bring these living rhythms into balance, the body naturally follows.”
In Ayurveda, an individual’s constitution is expressed through five elements — space, air, fire, water and earth — which combine to create three essential energies or “doshas”: vata, pitta and kapha. Ayurvedic practitioners use diet, herbs, yoga, breathing techniques, meditation and cleansing to make adjustments that will support and strengthen each person’s constitution, finding balance among these energies.
Because Ayurveda recognizes imbalances before they become stubborn diseases, it can be helpful in treating conditions that aren’t necessarily recognized by Western medicine.
“You might have general malaise and low energy,” Blau said. “But the problem isn’t necessarily going to show up on a blood test. Ayurveda looks at the current state of imbalances in diet and lifestyle that may have led a person to stray from their inherent constitution, and then helps the person reach equilibrium in their body and mind.”
The holistic method is particularly suited to chronic conditions, allergies, skin conditions, digestive irritabilities or imbalances, and to helping people prone to frequent illness or who have low immunity.
Blau says her personal story is testimony to the healing power of Ayurveda. After suffering for years with chronic sinusitis, Blau tried many standard and alternative medicines before she turned to Ayurveda.
“Because I had a chronic
condition, I had to go beyond relieving the symptoms to the root of the cause,” she said. “I needed to look at how I was dealing with stress and make dietary and lifestyle changes.”
Instead of being sick about 50 percent of the time, Blau says she now gets just one or two sinus infections each year.
“Ayurveda improves so many things because you’re balancing your mind and body,” she said. ”I’m better able to handle stress, my energy is better, and my relations with people are better.”
Blau’s healing experience inspired her to begin studying Ayurveda, first with a mentor in Seattle, then at the Mount Madonna Institute in Watsonville, Calif., where she became a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner last fall. After graduating, she was awarded a scholarship to study Ayurveda at the Rasa Traditional Healing Center for Women in Kerala, India, where she was thrilled to see many of the herbs used in Ayurveda growing wild.
Those scheduling a consultation can expect a first visit involving a detailed inquiry into their lifestyle, diet, family and personal health history, a pulse reading and a visual observation to assess their health. Blau uses this information to develop a personalized wellness plan.
The approach requires more work than, say, taking a pill for one’s ailments, Blau notes. At the same time, she says, it helps a person take charge of his or her own health. What’s more, she says, when one’s body, mind and spirit are in balance, he or she is both a more productive person and a happier person.
“It’s very aligned with nature and natural rhythms, so it’s not just a healing system — it’s a way of living and interacting with the environment,” Blau said. “I can’t think of a more complete system.”
— Kathryn True is a freelance writer living on Vashon.
For more information, visit meadowheartayurveda.com or call (206) 499-8488.
To learn more about Ayurveda, join Blau at a free introductory talk at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 18, at the Vashon Library.