Aveda has deep roots in India; our founder Horst Rechelbacher journeyed there and created Aveda based on Ayurvedic principles. We consult with the Drs. Upadhyay, a husband-and-wife team, on many of our products — most recently Invati Advanced — and use traditional Ayurvedic herbs like turmeric and ginseng to help power our products whenever we can.
Aveda employee and health coach Stephanie recently journeyed to an ashram in Rishikesh (thought of as the yoga capitol of the world!) as part of her graduate school’s travel abroad program, and it was there that she learned some very important lessons about yoga, finding peace, and happiness. She also had lunch with two women who had close ties to Horst — and one who visits an Aveda salon every time she’s in the United States!
Yoga and Aveda collided several times during Stephanie’s trip. “I went wanting to understand more of the Himalayan yoga tradition as it’s such a rich part of Aveda’s heritage,” she said. She attended the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, an ashram completely dedicated to the practices of Swami Rama, who taught our founder Horst. “I want to bring some of the wisdom of the tradition to my health coaching clients and my own daily self-care practices. It seemed like a naturally awesome fit.”
While we in the West tend to think of yoga as a series of postures (like what you do at yoga class, commonly called asana), at the ashram they went a bit deeper. “Yoga also includes meditation, breathing techniques and living a life of non-harm,” Stephanie said. “It’s a lifestyle that extends beyond the asana practice, and this ashram is dedicated to helping others learn more about those practices as a way of leading a healthy life.”
Stephanie learned a lot at the ashram — but one of the most important lessons helped her learn to find peace anywhere, any time. “Relaxation and ease are possible when you intentionally bring in relaxation practices into your life, focusing on diaphragmatic breathing and moving the body with intention,” she said. “I noticed such a huge difference for me in terms of the way my body felt when I was at the ashram intentionally engaging my parasympathetic nervous system all day long versus what it’s like here in the West.” Stephanie went on to say that in our day-to-day lives, we tend to move with an energetic force that lacks ease and relaxation … AKA stress.
The trip came with its fair share of challenges, too. “At the ashram, the heat broke in my cabin and all I had was a space heater. It was 40 degrees in the morning. [I left] having a lot of appreciation for how good we have it here [with] clean water, hot showers. Being in an ashram where you don’t have control over food and environment puts things into perspective,” she said. “I came back with a desire to live more simply, to keep into perspective that material goods don’t make you happy. Happiness exists within us, we just need to tap into it.”
Now that she’s returned, Stephanie has incorporated some of her ashram practice into her life at Aveda, as well as to her at-home practice and her health coaching. She leads meditation at our HQ in Minnesota during the week, and has added certain poses (like crocodile pose) to her routine.
Try it yourself:
Lay flat on the ground, face down.
Place your forehead on your hands.
“What this does is press on the diaphragm so it trains your body to breathe from there, rather than from the chest. We have a tendency to carry everything up near the chest, so when you do that post it encourages the body to breathe more naturally.”