I recently stumbled upon an ayurvedic goddess of a woman, and I think my life may be changed forever. Lilavati owns and teaches at Temple of the Lotus, a yoga and ayurvedic healing center in Philadelphia. In that same space, she also creates wonderfully natural and aromatic healing concoctions, both for consuming and putting on your body. Upon entering the space, you ascend a golden staircase and are immediately surrounded by peaceful energy and incredible beauty. Bright, natural sunlight filters in through giant windows, giving life to the philodendrons that climb down from high-up shelves, and reflecting through crystals that are beautifully placed here and there.
Lilavati herself is a bright light, exuding beauty and infinite knowledge from within. When she speaks, she does so with a soothing voice that makes you feel at ease; at home. When she speaks, you listen. When asked why she first opened Temple of the Lotus, Lilavati responded with, “To enhance the vibration of the women of Philly.” She feels that each woman who ends up at Temple of the Lotus has found her way there because that’s where she was meant to be. It’s not every day that you meet someone with such a presence about them. Lilavati is a gem.
Lilavati is constantly creating all different oils and infusions. When I first arrived, she handed me the drink you see above. It’s her special Green Goddess Tea, and I fell in love instantly.
The bamboo structure above is a swedana tent. During a treatment, a sheet is placed over this, and the tent fills with steam.
Above is a shirodhara pot. During a treatment, it is filled with oil that then drips onto your third eye, bringing you into an incredibly deep relaxation and possibly allowing you to have an otherworldly experience.
When I took the above photo, Lilavati was making Kali’s Nectar, a delicious drink made of rose and hibiscus flowers and petals. Read about its benefits here. She offered me a glass-full from an already-cooled batch, and I still can’t seem to get the taste off my mind. It was so good.
Since I am totally new to the world of Ayurveda, I asked Lilavati to answer some burning questions. As she said to me, there are entire books written on some of these, but she kept it simple for us so that we could gain a basic understanding.
How would you define Ayurveda and why do you feel it’s important?
Ayurveda is defined in ancient texts as the science of Life or the science of longevity.
Ayurveda provides tools for health and healing in the form of daily rituals, food, herbal, yogic, meditative and gemstone therapy to inspire one to take health into their own hands through the calibration of nature’s wisdom.
During the class I attended, you spoke a lot about prana. What exactly is prana and how does it relate to our breathing?
There are 2 different kinds of prana. The prana I spoke of is an expression of life force. By means of harnessing prana through Yogic techniques, movement, breath, mantra and meditation (to name a few), one can profoundly affect their state of health and healing.
Without even asking any questions, you were able to identify my primary dosha as Pitta. What are the three doshas and what can we do to discover which is most predominant within ourselves?
There are three doshas: Vata, which represents the air and space elements; Pitta, which represents fire and water elements; Kapha, which represent the water and earth elements. Dosha is defined as “that which changes.” We are born with a primary and secondary dosha, which is our Prakriti, and as we move through life our imbalances manifest as Vikruti, our present condition based on the dosha variation and disturbance.
Ayurveda first corrects present imbalance (Vikruti), then moves on to keep the basic constitution (Prakriti) in balance to keep disease away.
One can complete an online questionnaire to determine your primary dosha or see an ayurvedic practitioner to determine your constitution and present imbalance.
What is a dosha imbalance and what can be done to resolve one?
This is when the dosha leaves it home, and disturbs the area around it or through it. Examples of dosha imbalances are…
Vata: dryness, feeling ungrounded or confused, gas in the belly, insomnia, constipation.
Pitta: acid reflux, skin breakouts, rashes and sensitivity, irritability, red eyes, diarrhea.
Kapha: edema, weight gain, congestion in the lungs or sinus, allergies, heaviness in the limbs, cysts, tumors and lethargy.
One of the first things you asked me upon my arrival was the time of day and day of week of my birth. You actually somehow knew I was born on a Friday before even looking it up, which blew me away. Knowing this, what information were you able to discover?
Each day and time during the day expresses planetary and astrological influence which reveals information that can be seen and interpreted in an individual through their physicality and personality, and also reveals specific information about a person’s health.
Your Venus birthday revealed your capacity to resonate with beauty on a very deep level and express its wisdom in a profound way.
What is the importance of regular massage with oils? How can we figure out which area of our body is most important to massage, and what type of oil to use?
Daily abyhanga, or oil massage, is one of the primary practices in Ayurveda. This moves obstruction in the lymphatic and circulatory systems which enhances the health of the skin, organs and endocrine system. The best way to find which oils works for you is to do an online questionnaire to determine your primary dosha or see an ayurvedic practitioner to determine your present imbalance.
You can also begin with a Tri-doshic oil which will balance all doshas.
What would you recommend to anyone who is interested in ayurvedic treatment but doesn’t know where to begin?
The very BEST first Ayurvedic treatment to receive in an Abhyanga. This is a warm herbal oil massage therapy that deeply nourishes the body, mind and spirit and begins to create an internal environment for deep healing.
(Psst… go here to book a treatment at Temple of the Lotus.)
Before I left, Lilavati presented to me some incredible skincare products to take home and try for myself — ones that she herself created. I wish I could describe how incredible it feels to use these products.
I feel so lucky to have met Lilavati, and I’m really looking forward to revisit Temple of the Lotus again and again. I have a feeling that this may just be the start of a new chapter in my life.
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