How To Heal: Ayurveda with Natasha Gayl

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This week, I connected with Natasha Gayl of Natasha Wellness to get the inside scoop on all things Ayurveda! In this interview, we talk about the history of Ayurvedic medicine, a basic outline of what Ayurveda is, and Natasha’s own journey to living and teaching an Ayurvedic lifestyle! I learned so much during this interview so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Carolyn: Hi Natasha! I’m so happy you could meet with me today! Tell me a little about yourself, what made you become a wellness coach?

Natasha: Hi Carolyn! Well, I got into this a little over a year ago. I've always wanted to be a coach since I was in high school but it wasn’t really a job back then. I had pressure from my Russian family to get a degree, which I did. I worked in my field for a couple years then transitioned because I wasn't feeling fulfilled. At the time, I was enrolled in a yoga teacher training and the whole experience was focused around Dharma. Through that, I realized that my Dharma was to help people through food and healthy lifestyle. With the support of my husband, I left my unfulfilling job and began building my business.

Carolyn: It’s always so interesting to me how each “dead end” in life just repositions you towards creating the life you truly want. What was it about food that made that deep connection for you?

Natasha: Through my own health struggles, food was always my way of managing it. I kept learning and figuring out different diets, aka I was my own guinea pig. During the yoga training, I learned about Ayurveda and it just made so much sense! Not everyone is going to do well on the same diet (hence why I could never stick to one) and Ayurveda really honors that and recognizes that we are all different and require different diets, habits, and practices. I started practicing Ayurveda on my self then decided to take an health coach training that was focused in Ayurveda. That’s what led me to where I am today.

Carolyn: Everything flows for a reason! Had you worked with any holistic practitioners before?

Natasha: I interned with a Chinese herbalist, acupuncturist, and chiropractor. I was trying to figure out my own health issues and doing so led me to connect with holistic practitioners and eventually the beginning of my path, although I didn't know it at the time. Yoga teach training was a launching pad and I'm so grateful for my experience.

Carolyn: Yoga is such a gift, truly, and it’s connected to Ayurveda, is that right?

Natasha: Yes! Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga. It hails from India and is over 5,000 years old!

Carolyn: Wow! So it comes from centuries upon centuries of practice! Can you tell me a little about the history?

Natasha: Sure! Ayurveda comes from Vedic texts that have been translated over time. Ayurveda is similar to traditional Chinese medicine in the way it treats us holistically, but Ayurveda really focuses you as an individual. Each person is made up of a combination of the 5 elements air, ether, earth, water and fire. There is never blanket answer in Ayurveda, it understands that we are all different and require different healing paths. It looks at food, lifestyle, and habits as a way to come back into balance. Ayurveda uses Dinacharya (daily rhythms) to reconnect your body with its circadian rhythms and essentially reconnect us back to the way infants and animals live. Waking, moving, eating, sleeping, etc. in tune with the sun and daily patterns is what reconnects us to our higher selves.

Carolyn: I really love the idea of treating each person as an individual instead of following a blanket plan like most diets on the market today. How does Ayurveda break down who should eat what?

Natasha: There are 3 different Dosha (mind-bod) types that we fall into and it’s all about finding balance between the 3. Protocols depend on each person’s dosha and goals, but essentially if they’re eating and living in balance, no matter what they’re goal is, it will be met.

Carolyn: That’s a powerful promise! Can you break down those types for me?

Natasha: Absolutely! You have Vata, Pitta, and Kapha types that describe different body types.  

Vata is made up of air and ether. This is a wind type so there is a lot of anxiety, ungrounded creativity. A Vata type is usually thinner with smaller features and dry skin. Generally they struggle with digestion issues like gas and bloating. A Vata type needs a lot of grounding and cooked food, meditation, and slow practices like yin yoga. They tend to love running or flow vinyasa but that’s just adding more wind which can increase anxiety..

Pitta is made up of fire and water. Typically a Pitta type will have dry, red, and warm skin. They love spicy food, making lists, and working really really hard. My husband is this type and he’s non-stop - a burning ball of fire! Pitta types have a lot of drive and passion but they can get burned out easily. They love hot yoga classes and intense workouts but they need more cooling practices like a yin yoga class, walking/weight lifting, and cooling foods like cucumber or aloe.

Kapha is made up of earth and water. Together they make mud so they’re heavy, wet and dense. It’s common for them to have big eyes, big lips, and curves. They love sweet and heavy foods that are nourishing and keep them grounded but they need the opposite. Generally, they have a bigger build and are more emotional. They tend to be steady and loyal people. Kapha's should eat lighter cooked foods like warm broths, less grains and meats, and lighter foods in general. They need a lot of movement in their life, especially vigorous movement. They need to get out of their cocoon!

Your dosha shifts throughout your lifetime and can shift through the seasons which is why I offer the seasonal cleanse.

Carolyn: I think I’m a mix of Kapha and Pitta, but I’m not 100% sure. I should probably enroll in your cleanse! Can you tell me a general outline of how the 7 days would go?

Natasha: I’d love to have you join a cleanse! I call it the seven day whole foods and self care cleanse and I offer it in groups and through private coaching. I always have people ease in for the first 3 days - that’s when you figure out your dosha and prepare to go deep. I offer a robust cleanse guide with recipes, self-care practices (dry brushing, tongue scraping, oil massage) and why we're eliminating certain foods. I offer multiple recipes available based on your dosha for each meal. You get to choose your own adventure and you don’t have to eat anything you don’t like!

Carolyn: That’s good because I hate diets that make me eat food I don’t enjoy!

Natasha: Of course! This is all about self-care and you should enjoy your food! The whole point of the cleanse is to bring people back to themselves. I want to teach people how to cook and take care of themselves. The recipes are all anti-inflammatory and then there’s levels that people can choose from. That way an "experienced" cleanser and a "novice" can both find the right cleansing path for them. My cleanse is not meant to be so intense your body fights the process. I want you to work in sync with your mind-body to uplevel your current state of being. If you can’t imagine getting rid of everything at once, then you can choose to only give up certain things. If you’re already in a place where you’ve given other things up, we can start more advanced. We’re all in a different place and we don’t want to shock the body. This is a lifestyle shift and we want to make it sustainable!

Carolyn: That sounds incredible. What is the main message you want someone to take away from your cleanse?

Natasha: Don’t be afraid to cleanse! Cleansing is a really wonderful introduction to healthier living and, from what I’ve found, it’s the most approachable. The cleanse is just seven days, anyone can do it, and it’s a great way to dip your toes into Ayurveda. There’s open communication and support from me the whole time so it’s not something you do on your own. I’m happy to hold your hand through the process. Plus, you can basically eat any of the recipes after the cleanse since they are plant-based and nourishing. This ain't yo mama's juice cleanse!

Carolyn: Having that support makes all the difference! Thank you so much for meeting with me today. Where can people find you to sign up for your class?

Natasha: Of course! They can find me on my website, on Instagram, and on my Facebook page as well!  

Interviews by Carolyn from Without The Weight, Inc. are meant to share all the different options available to heal your mind, body, and spirit from a holistic lens. Any advice or recommendations are meant to work as complementary therapies alongside any treatment provided by your medical practitioner and are not suggested as a replacement for medical care.