Guest post by Andrea Olivera, a leading Ayurvedic beauty and wellness specialist, and founder of The Andrea Olivera Centre for Ayurveda Rituals, as well as the Ayurveda Expo in Toronto, Canada.
my journey into the healing world of ayurveda began at age 7
...in my laundry room, where I first saw my Punjabi neighbour oiling his long beautiful black hair on his yoga mat.
The scent of Amla (Indian Goose Berries) cooked into sesame oil permeated the laundry room and awakened my cellular memory of a past life in India. The curiosity in me grew, as I watched him massage every strand of hair, listening to him chant the sound of Om.
His wife would smile as she watched me mesmerized by her husband, massaging her daughter's scalp with glowing green oil that smelled so familiar to me, yet not connecting to my Uruguayan roots that I could sense.
Here began my love for the healing arts of Ayurveda.
During the years other Indian's moved into our building, and I would be invited in for chai, and other savoury delights. I was always fascinated by their elaborate altars filled with golden dolls dressed in colorful silk dresses, trays of sweet rice, aromatic rice plates, and spicy curries.
The scent of Sandalwood incense and the sound of drums and harmoniums accompanied by chanting voices that sang praise to their Gods and Goddesses would often transport me into another world.
I fell in love with this spiritual world and could not live without it. I stepped into this Vedic civilization that seemed so familiar to me, I moved into Hindu temples and learned the spiritual path of Bhakti Yoga.
In the temple kitchen, I was introduced to the healing power of spices and food combinations.
My apprenticeship into Ayurveda foods began when visiting Swami's, who eat according to their body-mind constitution, to balance their Doshas.
Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine that came from an ancient Vedic civilization over 5000 years ago.
It is now India's natural medicine system. Many tribes and villages naturally follow these wise teachings into their cuisine and lifestyles.
Ayurveda is a science of longevity, a science of self-realization, and a holistic system that offers philosophy and psychology for the purpose of liberation from suffering.
The ancient scriptures known as the Vedas show us how the Sages documented healing formulas and lifestyle management programs, as well as ritualistic ceremonies for our wellbeing.
Ayurveda medicine diagnoses and treats illness or dis-ease in the body using three doshas or elements:
Pitta (Fire/Water), and
Dis-ease is diagnosed as either predominance or lacking in one of these doshas, and the aim is to regain balance through restorative measures using diet, exercise, massage, yoga, herbs, oils and scents.
Yoga is a prescription given to align our minds to our soul's purpose. Understanding our mental nature, the type of mind that we have will help us understand how we digest our thoughts and emotions. The idea is to be able to process and metabolize our emotions, thoughts, and life experiences.
Past experiences make up our cellular body, as well as our genetics and latent desires. These, known as Vasanas or Samscaras, contribute to the formation of our energetic body and the map of our consciousness.
This is where the third sister science of Yoga and Ayurveda provides a view of our Cosmic Anatomy. Known as Jyotisha Astrology, it encompasses the light of the planets that shine on us at the time of our birth. Jyotisha or Vedic Astrology offers a map of our soul and a look at the evolution of our consciousness.
In understanding Elemental Wisdom, we can see the importance of knowing our constitutional body-mind type, and in that self-awareness, we will learn our true core healing needs.
My first experience of these three sister sciences was given to me by my teacher Mantriji, a well-known guru of Vedic sciences and Jyotisha in the West.
Mantriji was an elderly Indian man who would come to the temple for lunch when I lived there. He would teach certain people Sanskrit, the language that Yoga, Ayurveda, and Jyotisha had been written in.
He would have his lunch and take his desert over to the park and sit under a tree, to wait for his chosen student to come and learn from him. I would follow the young monks as they ran to be the first one. Their flowing saffron robes and shaved heads would shine as bright as the Sun's rays, it was a sight to see!
I followed them with my chanting beads in one hand and sweet rice in the other, an offering to their teacher who one day would become my mentor and spiritual father. I would offer him sweets and ask him politely to teach me.
After many tries, I finally was invited to sit by him. He took my pulse and told me everything about my Doshas, what I should eat and how I should live my life. He later cast my birth chart and shared with me my life purpose, and all the strengths and weaknesses that were revealed there.
His prescriptions of herbal concoctions, mantras, yoga poses, breathwork and self-care rituals using oils for massage saved my life.
He merged, and created a tapestry of healing ceremonies and introduced me into a new perception of myself that began my path as an Ayurveda Practitioner and Vedic Astrologer.
The three sister sciences, Yoga, Ayurveda and Jyotisha (Vedic Astrology) combined give us a wonderful map, offering a journey into Self-Realization. I have come to understand this is critical on our road to healing.
Being raised by five mothers who consistently emphasized the importance of self-awareness and self-acceptance, I adapted the concept of "know thyself, heal thyself" into everything that I do and live by.
Incorporating crystal healing, following the phases of the Moon and learning to prepare specific herbal teas was a gift my great-grandmother and grandmother taught my mother and her two sisters, who made it part of my lifestyle at a young age.
Their prayers and encouragement during challenging times in my life taught me to look towards the wisdom of the Earth and Her traditions to find myself.
"Return to the lap of Divine Mother; She will heal and restore your Soul"
...is the mantra that my five mothers sang to me and taught me to live by. Finding the Mother of Healing, Ayurveda, and her two sisters, Yoga and Jyotisha, brings to life the inheritance I was raised with, that nature restores you back to life.
Scent is the vehicle I learned to drive from my five mothers. In their unique ways, they each guided me towards finding my soul purpose. This guidance is reflected in the creations of my product line and treatment modalities that I offer in my professional career as an Ayurveda Practitioner, Ayurveda Spa Specialist, Vedic Astrologer and creator of 22 Ayurveda skin care and perfume products.
Being a holistic science, Ayurveda is preventative. It uses the big picture approach of Jyotish (Vedic astrology) to examine our karmic map.
Yoga offers us a practice that can align our minds to our soul's purpose which is revealed to us in our birth chart. Yoga is an excellent resource for physical and mental exercises that help facilitate Rasayanas which are life-preserving remedies. When properly prescribed to an individual, optimum health can occur.
During my life of accidents and surgeries, learning Pranayama, the science of breathing, helped to restore my body and calm my anxieties and pain.
When you can’t move your legs, using your breath helps your circulation, while meditation, working on the essences of my soul, helped me to boost my immune system.
Yoga cultivates discipline and awareness as one works towards physical and spiritual fluidity through relaxation techniques that can ultimately lead to self-realization and spiritual bliss. Yoga is a form of alchemy, and it aims to transmute human consciousness. In this age of atheism, yoga is the new religion because it applies consciousness in a practical, humanistic way towards a definite aim and without dogma. And, like Ayurveda, Yoga is customizable.
Astrology compliments Ayurveda in this way. What is not always obvious to the Ayurvedic practitioner addressing physical symptoms is the underlying karmic cause of these symptoms.
My mentor Mantriji read my chart and explained the concept of an “inner saboteur,” which is when a part of our consciousness gets stuck in past trauma and leads us to repeat the same mistakes over and over again until we learn to see ourselves and those who hurt us differently.
He explained that people have a hard time healing because of this inner saboteur, and the antidote is to find redemption from our soul's crisis.
During the exploration of my chart, he showed me how to shift my self-perception and see how my beliefs could be sabotaging my health and soul purpose. This insight revealed the proper rituals, and remedies to heal me and to help support the Ayurveda and Yoga prescriptions that I was taking.
A Jyotishi (astrologer), or someone knowledgeable in Jyotishi, can usually spot it at a glance. Further analysis can also determine what part of the client's karma is active at a given time. This information is useful in counselling the client as core issues are often what obstructs the rejuvenating process. Addressing them may bring rebirth. For me, it saved my life in many ways, from physical imbalances, to letting go of negative relationships that weakened my life force energy.
Meeting my teacher, who continued to mentor me into Vedic wisdom as a path of personal transformation and healing allows me to share this with others today.
about the author
Andrea is a pioneering figure in the field of Ayurveda beauty and has dedicated her life to the study of Ayurveda, Jyotish, Yoga and the Vedic Sciences.
Over 30 years ago, Andrea began her career as a make-up artist and aesthetician. She was one of the first Canadians in her field to incorporate Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedic Astrology and Eastern wellness practices into her spa treatments and services. Today, she is one of Canada's leading Ayurveda beauty and wellness specialists and educators.
Andrea opened The Andrea Olivera Centre for Ayurveda Rituals in the year 2000. There, she developed many signature treatments, trained leading Canadian spa professionals, yoga therapists and many others.
Andrea has developed a signature line of natural Ayurveda skincare, and custom botanical perfumes. She has also developed an Ayurveda Spa Specialist certificate program and produced the first Ayurveda Expo in Toronto, where she bought together many leading Ayurveda, Yoga and Jyotisha experts.
Phone: 416 504 6049