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Published October 05, 2012, 11:40 PM

Seeking balance: Ayurveda, ancient form of medicine, helps bring about emotional, mental, physical healing.

FARGO – Christina Weber of Fargo says she’s never been healthier – physically or emotionally – all thanks to Ayurveda. “Ayurveda has provided me with a variety of tools to help me work toward a balanced, healthful and meaningful life,” she said.

By: Tracy Frank, INFORUM

FARGO – Christina Weber of Fargo says she’s never been healthier – physically or emotionally – all thanks to Ayurveda.

“Ayurveda has provided me with a variety of tools to help me work toward a balanced, healthful and meaningful life,” she said. “Ayurveda has also helped me better understand what it means to live a holistic life that keeps me attuned to the ways the physical, emotional, and intellectual aspects of my life affect each other.”

Ayurveda means “the science of life” and is an ancient Indian system of medicine that focuses on balancing the mind, body and spirit to prevent illness and promote wellness, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.

Ayurvedic medicine uses a variety of methods, including diet, massage and yoga to help cleanse the body of substances that can cause disease and restore balance, the center states.

Juliet Trnka teaches Ayurveda practices at her Fargo studio, Five Element, which offers yoga, Thai massage, Ayurveda and meditation.

“I believe you can’t heal the body without healing the mind and the spirit as well,” Trnka said. “And if there’s a mental or emotional imbalance, you have to address the body, too. They’re not separate. That’s the beauty of Ayurveda is that it’s working from the ground up through every level of the individual.”

In Ayurveda, there’s an understanding that everything that exists arises out of the five elements of earth, air, fire, water and ether, Trnka said. The elements are always in a dynamic shift, and Ayurveda practitioners change their routine, diet and inner practices (like yoga and meditation) to maintain balance, she said.

“Ayurveda is not a magic pill and it’s not going to happen overnight, but you do see real and deep changes,” Trnka said.

Trnka was introduced to Ayurveda in college. She was practicing yoga and had an interest in natural health, but she had been experiencing a lot of health challenges with anxiety attacks, migraines and issues with her menstrual cycle and couldn’t find a cure, she said.

“Ayurveda was the first thing I encountered that actually made a difference,” she said. “I hadn’t gone in for any medication, but I just felt there had to be a natural way to deal with it.”

In her own practice, Trnka has helped people with a wide range of issues from cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes to allergies, menopause and other menstrual disorders, she said.

“I feel so blessed, not only to be able to do what I love, but the fact that what I do helps people,” she said. “I don’t think it gets any better than that.”

Trnka said a big part of that is the work her clients have done incorporating Ayurvedic principles into their own lives.

A diet of whole foods with an emphasis on fresh spices with no additives or preservatives is an important component. Lifestyle, such as when you go to bed and when you eat, is also a factor, Trnka said.

A private Ayurveda consultation costs $80 an hour or $100 for 90 minutes. Consultations involve assessing a person’s constitutional typology to determine the dominant elements and discussing what can be done with diet, exercise and lifestyle choices to bring a person’s mind, body and spirit into balance, Trnka said.

Trnka also offers Pancha Karma Therapy, an element of Ayurveda to cleanse the body and restore harmony. Pancha Karma therapies cost $285 for a 150-minute session. The therapies involve massage using specially prepared herbal-medicated oils; full-body exfoliation and lymphatic drainage massage; sweating therapy in an herbal steam to flush out impurities and drain toxins; a Shirodhara therapy of pouring therapeutic oils on the forehead and allowing them to run over the scalp; and the nasal administration of an herbal-medicated oil or aromatic smoke.

Pancha Karma can be done at a basic level for stress relief and rejuvenation or as an intensive therapy to deal with deep-seated disorders, Trnka said.

Weber said the positive impact of a Pancha Karma treatment is beyond words. Since she started practicing Ayurveda, she has become more aware of how the seasons and stress can impact her well-being, but Ayurveda provides the tools to empower her to rise to the challenges life throws her way, she said.

In addition to Pancha Karma, she integrates Ayurvedic principles into her diet and yoga practices, has had Ayurveda consultations, follows a spice and herb regimen and uses abiyanga oils.

“I have had some struggles and stress in my job and personal life that were negatively impacting my body and emotional well-being, and I thought this might be a way to help me manage all that stress in a healthy and mindful way,” Weber said.

Practicing Ayurveda helps her find lightness even in the middle of her most challenging moments, she said.

Weber tried Ayurveda on her own through books, but she said she never knew how to put those ideas into practice until she found the Five Element studio.

“Juliet has provided a place to practice this work and to help me understand that yoga and Ayurveda is more than just a few hours on the mat or rubbing oil on your body or using herbs and spices,” she said. “It is working and living in community with others and engaging in the world through these principles.”

Terry Lausch, who is the meditation coordinator for the Spirit Room in downtown Fargo, leads daylong meditation retreats and teaches weekly meditation classes at Five Element, has been practicing Ayurveda for the past year and said it has brought him emotional healing.

He first went to see Trnka for a Thai massage and found immediate relief in healing not just physically, but also emotionally and psychologically, he said.

He has since done a full Pancha Karma treatment and started incorporating Ayurveda into his routine, he said.

“Meditation doesn’t resolve all of your issues. It sort of brings them into the forefront, and I’m always looking for alternative and traditional ways of healing, whether that’s psychiatry, Western medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, acupuncture. I’ve used all of those methods as ways of healing at different points in my life,” he said.

Trnka stresses that Ayurveda is an ancient wisdom tradition – not just another fad.

“Ayurveda is totally consistent, and it’s based in a deep understanding of who we are as people,” she said. “It has the capacity to help with a vast range of issues, particularly chronic disease.”

The National Institutes of Health recommends telling your health care providers about any complementary and alternative medicine practices you use, including Ayurvedic medicine to help ensure coordinated and safe care. The NIH also says it’s better to use Ayurvedic remedies under the supervision of an Ayurvedic medicine practitioner than to try to treat yourself.