What Is Ayurveda? – Ep# 022 Interview With Health Supportive Chef Richard LaMarita

On this show you’ll learn about Ayurveda, the oldest system of holistic and preventative medicine. The sister science to yoga, Ayurveda helps us to find balance in our body by cultivating self-awareness. The principles of Ayurveda are based on the philosophy that all healing starts with conscious daily choices. It’s about finding routines to ignite the inner-healing power of the physical body.

I spoke with Rich LaMarita who’s been a practitioner and teacher of Ayurveda, for 35 years. He has studied with Vedic and Ayurvedic master Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and has led seminars on Ayurvedic diet, cooking, yoga and meditation throughout the U.S., and in Europe and Asia. I had the pleasure of meeting Rich, or actually Chef Rich when I was in culinary school at NYC’s Natural Gourmet Institute, where he was a chef-instructor for 25 years. Today, Chef Rich teaches at the Institute of Culinary Education teaching in their Health-Supportive Culinary Arts program.

How it offers different food guidance to support unique bodily constitutions in great contrast to diet culture and nutrition dogma. The fundamental role that self observation plays so that we can understand our own tendencies. And ultimately, how we can engage with food and our bodies in a way that feels deeply nourishing in our own life and with the life all around us.

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Podcast Transcript

0 (1s):
Welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast, where you’ll discover that when it comes to your health, you’re so much more powerful than you’ve been led to believe. And now your host, she’s a holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach, chef author, and Yogi, Christine Okezie

Christine Okezie (23s):
Hello, and welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast. I’m Christine Okezie. Thanks so much for tuning in today. And I just want to thank you so much for all your support and tuning into these wonderful episodes. I hope that it’s providing value to you, and if you do have it already, please leave a rating and review that helps me so much keeps the podcast going as well as hitting that subscribe button so that you don’t miss any episodes that came out every Thursday.

Christine Okezie (53s):
So let’s dive in today’s topic is what is Ayurveda? So Ayurveda is the oldest system of holistic and preventative medicine going back almost 5,000 years. In fact, the word are your Veda translates literally into the science of life with its roots in India. Our Aveda is the sister science to yoga like yoga. Ayurveda is a consciousness based healing system with a focus on unlocking the human potential for deep spiritual and physical growth.

Christine Okezie (1m 24s):
The practice of Ayurveda is based on assisting the human being in finding balance, discovering their true nature. The system includes individualized plans, consisting of diet lifestyle pranayama, which is breath, work, meditation, exercise, herbs, and body work recommendations. All these practices are designed to cultivate self-awareness with the goal of unlocking the door to great self-empowerment the principles of IRA Veda are based on the philosophy that all healing starts with.

Christine Okezie (2m 2s):
Conscious daily choices. It’s about finding routines to ignite that inner healing power of our physical body. The three things I love most about Ayurveda are number one. It considers all parts of our being body, mind and spirit. Number two, it respects the uniqueness of the individual and gives us personalized health recommendations. And number three, it empowers everyone to take radical responsibility for their own wellbeing.

Christine Okezie (2m 36s):
So on today’s show, I speak with Richard LaMarita, who’s been a practitioner and teacher of Ayurveda for over 35 years. He has studied with Ayurvedic master Maherishi, Mahesh Yogi, and has led seminars on Ayurvedic diet, cooking, yoga and meditations throughout the U S Europe and Asia. I had the pleasure of meeting rich or actually chef rich when I was in culinary school at the New York city natural gourmet Institute, where he was a chef instructor for over 25 years today, chef rich teaches at the Institute of culinary education teaching in their health supportive culinary arts program.

Christine Okezie (3m 21s):
In this episode, Chef Rich will walk us through the different food guidance to support unique bodily constitutions, which is in great contrast to rigid diet culture and nutrition, dogma. These days, he explains the role that self observation plays so that we can understand our own tendencies using the Ayurvedic system. And ultimately in this show, we’re going to learn how we can actually engage with food and our bodies in a very special way that feels so deeply nourishing in our own life and connected to the life that’s all around us.

Christine Okezie (3m 59s):
I really hope you enjoy today’s episode. Hey, Chef Rich goes so great to see you again, welcome to the podcast.

Richard LaMarita (4m 6s):
Thank you, Christine. It’s been a long time since, since I’ve seen you. Yeah.

Christine Okezie (4m 10s):
Yes. And you continue to do wonderful things out there in the food and healing world. And then that’s what I’m excited to talk about is all the passion and expertise that you bring to the table when it comes to healthy living. So I’d love to get started. Your background is so fascinating and inspiring you in some of your writings have alluded to it as your journey from an American monk in her twenties. And I’d love to say, I’d love to know about your journey from American monk to, you know, natural food shop.

Christine Okezie (4m 41s):
And I are Vedic master.

Richard LaMarita (4m 43s):
Okay. In a nutshell on this one, I could spend a long time on this one. It was, it, it was true. It is true that I was kind of like an American monk back in, started in like the late seventies, I would say. And it was because I was practicing transcendental meditation and I joined a program through the, through the transcendental meditation organization where I pretty much worked full time promoting teaching meditation, traveling around the world, really exploring consciousness, exploring concepts of consciousness under the, under the, the, the direction and, and, you know, and under the, under a teacher Maharishi Mahesh, Yogi, wow.

Richard LaMarita (5m 39s):
It was a wonderful program that the numbers ran anywhere from a few hundred up to 3000 at times where we were living together, working together, teaching together and doing our meditations together. So doing meditations in groups, I’m doing kind of longer periods of meditation. And then, and then really exploring the concepts of consciousness and in our experiences with that, it was an amazing, amazing experience in a way, we were also like a standing army because we were promoting meditation, transcendental meditation around the world.

Richard LaMarita (6m 21s):
So, so if, if, if a need arose, for instance, like the, the, the police department in new Delhi was interested in learning meditation, we would be there in two days to be able to be able to teach hundreds to thousands of people. So we, we were based in, in United States in different different places, and then also did a lot of traveling. So it was an amazing experience for myself in terms of, you know, exploring myself, exploring, you know, exploring consciousness and exploring myself, exploring Vedic science with Maherishi is where I first heard of Ayurveda And first learned about Ayurvda, you know, the way things go.

Richard LaMarita (7m 13s):
It didn’t last forever, but I did spend a good, almost 12 years of my life in, in that kind of a lifestyle important part of my life, but 30 to 40 during this time. Wow. So it was, it was amazing that, you know, I pulled out this part of my life to do that. And then when I, when, when I ended up leaving, it was like being reborn again almost.

Christine Okezie (7m 43s):

Richard LaMarita (7m 45s):
Because during that time there was no concern for, there was no concern for, you know, your career relationships, finances, things would take, they were kind of taken care of. I had always had an interest. Well, I, you know, that’s where I discovered I Ayurveda. I had always had an interest in food. I was one of the cooks for that group. We had about 10 or 12 people who kind of felt like they knew how to cook.

Richard LaMarita (8m 18s):
And, and we would cook on a rotating basis for large numbers of peoples. I mean, we had the facility, it was a nice facility. We usually stayed, you know, at hotels and they had big hotel kitchens. So, so I was one of the cooks too. It got me into kind of the food side. I knew how to do Italian food. So they liked to tell him food since I’m Italian, but I also had a love for Indian food. So I kind of taught myself Indian food along the way there.

Richard LaMarita (8m 49s):
Wow. And when I left this experience, which was kind of in the, it kind of in the early nineties, I would say, you know, I say, well, what am I going to do now

Christine Okezie (9m 3s):
Back to the real world?

Richard LaMarita (9m 5s):
What am I going to do now? And the one thing that hit me was whatever it is I’m end up doing, it’s gotta be something that I absolutely love to do. I gotta, I gotta be, I gotta wake up in the morning, loving what I’m doing. So essential in life. Right? So essential, so essential. And I worked my way into food. I worked my way into cooking for people, teaching, understanding, healthy, cooking, understanding, Ayurevdic cuisine and happily.

Richard LaMarita (9m 43s):
Since then, you know, I have woken up every morning, loving what another,

Christine Okezie (9m 50s):
What a wonderful path and what a wonderful evolution to, to be able to write, to discover how to integrate, you know, all the teachings and the lessons of living healthy and balanced into your day to day it’s it’s final. Right? So for our listeners now, what is Ayurveda ? How does it work? Kind of what are the fundamental principles, you know, and what are the goals? It’s, it’s a healthy lifestyle system. It’s, it’s a whole bunch of things, right? It’s diet, it’s spirituality, right?

Christine Okezie (10m 21s):
What are some of the key goals of Ayurveda?

Richard LaMarita (10m 24s):
Very comprehensive. Well, I, Ayurveda means the word itself means science of life. Veda means a science or knowledge, and Ayur means life. So it’s a science of life, very comprehensive science of life, that, that, by understanding it and practicing it, you can lead a healthy lifestyle. You can, you can, you can be healthy in life. You can, you can keep, keep yourself balanced.

Richard LaMarita (10m 58s):
One of the beautiful, one of the keys to Ayurveda And I would say what makes it so appealing to me and so powerful is that Ayurveda understands that there is an innate intelligence in the body that kind of goes beyond our intellect. That that keeps, it keeps things functioning, body functioning, but not only our body, but keeps us the intelligence of the cosmos, the intelligence of the universe, but just in terms of our body, if you think about it, if you kind of, you know, study physiology and just kind of begin to understand how our cardiovascular system, our respiratory system works and how our brain works, our body is such a complex, dang, it’s a miracle.

Richard LaMarita (11m 56s):
I mean, it’s just unbelievable the details and the, and the intelligence that that’s in there, that’s, that’s keeping, that’s keeping life going. I know, unbelievable, unbelievable. You know, they call that homeostasis, you know, keeping, you know, the body keeping the correct balance going on so that the life in the cell continues so that the life in the body continues. So there is that inner intelligence there, that’s just functioning that, that it’s best if we just kind of way step out of the way and let it, let it happen, let it happen, keep it, keep it going, keep it lively.

Richard LaMarita (12m 37s):
So Ayurvdea understands that that, that, that is that that intelligence is present. And the goal of Ayurveda is for everybody to just keep that lively, to keep that lively, to keep that functioning, to maintain that health. And then if we get out of balance to begin to restore that balance, just to bring you back to that state of that state, where that intelligence is functioning, very lively.

Christine Okezie (13m 5s):
That’s amazing. Okay. So balance right is key. And so health is balance. And then when things in, I guess, in our, in, in our self care or food or environment create imbalance in the body, it kind of sets the stage for disease or dysfunction to take root. Now we’re trying to, it’s really the ultimate preventative medicine. Isn’t it

Richard LaMarita (13m 28s):
Completely, it’s very prevention oriented because of that. Yes, exactly. That when, when those imbalances start to come up in the body and their ways of, of being aware of that, they eventually develop into disease. You know, our modern medicine is, is modern medicine today is, is, is about disease management. And they really cannot take care of you unless you have a diagnosable disease, but it takes a while to get to that point.

Richard LaMarita (14m 5s):
And we should. And we, you know, we, we should be able to, to be, be enough aware of your body and enough aware of the imbalances that are going on so that you can kind of catch these imbalances at earlier stages where they’re much easier to take care of. And did it just to kind of go back to that, to that sense of, we’ll go back to that, that situation in the body where that intelligence is just functioning correctly, you know, so, so yes, I have.

Richard LaMarita (14m 36s):
It is, is very prevention, very prevention oriented, as well as being very powerful in treatment as well. But the definitely its strength is prevention. Absolutely.

Christine Okezie (14m 49s):
What are some of the, you know, basic what’s the basic framework. So one of the things, as you mentioned, in contrast to more Western or modern day medicine and health approaches to health, it’s kind of a one size fits all out there, right? It’s kind of a, you know, a one-to-one, you know, eat this, don’t eat that, you know, this is the superfood, you know, do this this way. How has I aggravated different? How is it what I believe to be part of its powers is it’s personalized.

Richard LaMarita (15m 20s):
Yeah. Yes, yes, yes. Completely correct. There’s a concept in Ayurvdea and it’s one of the most fundamental concepts and it goes, it ties into what we’ve already talked about is what is called your prakruti it’s, you know, the, the kind of the basic term for that is your body type. Right. Vatta, Pitta, Kafa. if you’re, if you’re aware of, if you, you know, if you know some of the terminology of Ayurvdea but that’s a key concept and Ayurvdea here is something called your prakruti and prakruti is your true nature.

Richard LaMarita (15m 56s):
What is your fundamental nature? Who are you? What is your fundamental nature? So whenever, so that, that’s, that’s the first thing you understand in terms of, you know, what is my fundamental nature when you get out of balance? Another concept that I’ve been it’s called Vikruti s when that fundamental nature starts to get out of balance. But the goal of Ayurveda is to take Vikruti and bring it back to iprakruti properly so that your fundamental nature, where that intelligence is, was really functioning is allowed to, is allowed to express itself.

Richard LaMarita (16m 35s):
So in terms of, in terms of Ayurvda, whether it’s prevention or, or restoring balance treatment, the first thing that ourAyurveda says, who is this person who is this person that has the imbalance, because that’s going to help with understanding what to do. Okay. Because for somebody who has a certain imbalance, then maybe a specific herb is right for them.

Richard LaMarita (17m 5s):
Okay. But maybe for another person, a specific group is not going to be right for them, even though the imbalance might be similar or it could be the same because it’s a different person, fascinating. It’s a different person. That’s the very first thing you do is you understand who it is that has the imbalance and how you’re going to bring back, you know, approaches, what treatments are going to be brought to that person. It’s totally opposite of the one size fits all.

Richard LaMarita (17m 38s):
Yes. It’s very individualized in that sense.

Christine Okezie (17m 42s):
Fascinating, fascinating. So, so what are doshas for our listeners?

Richard LaMarita (17m 46s):
Okay. So the doshas are, the doshas are a kind of the operating principles of how the body functions in our vetted they’re called Vata Pitta, Kafa; but really what the dosha is, are, are, were composed of the, one of the, another very important point in Ayurveda is that we are basically made up of the five elements, which is space, air, fire, water, and earth.

Richard LaMarita (18m 18s):
Okay. Okay. These five elements are an expression of intelligence or expression of consciousness, and they are very fundamental to life. Everything in, in creation within the body outside of the body has these five elements within it. Space, Air, Fire, Water Earth. By Fire we mean heat, heat, and transformation.

Richard LaMarita (18m 49s):
Okay. So it’s not like fire fire, but it’s just a heat heat element. So there are these five elements they combine in the human body to cut, to create what is called the three doshas. So Vata is a way of talking about how space and air function in the body, okay. Let space and air function in the body. Its main effect is how things move. It’s responsible for all the movement that takes place in the body so much is moving in the body, right?

Richard LaMarita (19m 24s):
To air, to waste material, to food so much is dependent on the correct movement of things going, right. Absolutely. So, you know, heartbeat, respiration and everything. So that’s, that’s Vata. That is Vata. Pitta is a way of talking about fire and water. Hmm. So heat transformation, how this affect how this functions in the body transformation, meaning all the, all the processes in the body, you know, that, that, that go to allowing life to happen, you know, like digestion and metabolism, you know, you know, creation of body, he, you know, everything in the body that has something to do with transformation.

Richard LaMarita (20m 21s):
That’s what Pitta is. Kafa is how water and earth function. Okay. And that’s responsible more for our structure, how the body stays together, its ability to lubricate itself, its ability to bind things. It’s, you know, it’s kind of responsible for, you know, for how some people are tall and thin and some people are short and stocky, you know, it creates the, the end of the actual tissues in the body are created through, through, through what’s called Kafa.

Richard LaMarita (21m 2s):
So, so it’s so understanding these three doses is very fundamental and then you’ve got to take it one step further in terms of understanding that, going back to the elements that, you know, each element has, has certain characteristics or certain qualities to them and those that’s called Gunas in Ayurveda – G U N A S. So, so for instance, space and air, what does space in air like?

Richard LaMarita (21m 37s):
Well, it dries things out, right? It’s drying, it’s all about moving space and air things move. And generally coldish generally called fire and water is going to be hot and sharp, pungent, you know, sharp and water and earth mixed together is going to be more heavy, more dense, more solid, even a little anxious and oily kind of.

Richard LaMarita (22m 9s):
So, so, so, so Vata in the body would be expressed through the qualities of things that are dry and moving in cold pitter would be expressed more through things that are hot and sharp and kafawould be expressed more in the, you know, the, the, the qualities of being heavy, heavy and oily. So that’s how you kind of get a grasp on these doses. So for instance, so for instance, let’s say, let’s say you notice that your skin is very dry.

Richard LaMarita (22m 47s):
Okay. Okay. Or you have a cough develop a cough and the cough is very dry. Throat is dry noses, dry. You know, you notice your hair is getting dry over the course of a few weeks or a course of a few days. That would mean that something is going on with the intelligence in the body, that’s functioning through Vata so that there’s too much space and air going on.

Christine Okezie (23m 21s):
Okay. Okay.

Richard LaMarita (23m 23s):
Maybe, you know, maybe it could be from the food you eat. It could be from the activities that you do. It could be from an, from numerous things where you’re taking in a lot of coldness and dryness and it’s increasing that coldness and dryness in the bottle could move into a time it’s cold and dry outside spending a lot of time outside. And you suddenly feel cough with dryness. Skin is very dry and brittle, and this could give rise to, you know, things, what happens when things dry out, you know, things start to crack and these feel very weak.

Richard LaMarita (24m 5s):
You know, certain symptoms will start to come out. Okay. And then you begin to say, Oh, okay, I’ve got this dryness as indicates Pitta. And then from there you make, you make adjustments. Okay. Ayurvdea is usually just bringing in the opposites to create the bal the opposites, like I said before, it’s not super difficult. Really know if there’s a lot of dryness, then you need to bring in more water and earth because excess of space in there, you bring in more water on earth.

Richard LaMarita (24m 46s):
So again, you can do that numerous ways, but one way would be through food in terms of, you know, more grounding, more grounding, food, more grounding meals, fat diet. And then you notice the balance and sure enough, I mean, one, one of the beautiful things about Ayurvedais that when you begin to practice it, it works. You know, it works, the little logic works. There’s a lot of

Christine Okezie (25m 16s):
Logic to it, for sure. Cause we’re just looking to create balance and there, you know, but it’s the introspection and self-awareness that I think is so powerful, you know, with this, this approach, because it actually, it puts you in the role of what’s going on inside of me, how am I feeling? What am I noticing? Right. And that, that curious or that inquiry, you know, is, I think so fundamental and it’s, what’s really missing quite frankly.

Richard LaMarita (25m 46s):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You know why, because we’re, you know, we’re, we’re raised with this concept of that, you know, that health is now not our business in a sense, you know, it’s not our responsibility. It’s very strange

Christine Okezie (26m 7s):
Little departure for sure. From, from, you know, wisdom, you know? Yeah.

Richard LaMarita (26m 12s):
Wow. Oh, the doctor will take care of me. You know, my doctor will take up something as well as my doctor will take care of me and I’ll listen to what my doctor says. Yeah. So this definitely puts the responsibility of your health in your lap, which is ultimately where you want it to be.

Christine Okezie (26m 33s):
You absolutely. Okay. Now, just to clarify the different doshas using that as a framework to understand our body type, our tendencies, how you know, where the are manifesting, are we, since we’re made of all the five elements, can we be a dominant dosha or are we all three doses at different points in our lives? How does that work? Yeah.

Richard LaMarita (26m 58s):
Prakruti is basically stable throughout our entire life. In other words, what you’re born with generally stays matter life since I’ve always been. Okay. Well, yes, you can be at blend. It’s kind of rare that one is very dominant. It can happen.

Richard LaMarita (27m 28s):
The more general thing that happens is that it’s usually a blend of two. Okay. And then, and then it’s also rare, but it also happens that you can be equal in all three. Its’ called tri doshic Yeah. So I mean, you know, people are different, there’s infinite variety. We have all these elements in us and they express themselves in, in our, in our Prakruti . So, so I’ve, I’ve always been Pitta to Kafa, a lot of fire.

Richard LaMarita (27m 59s):
That’s kind of my dominant dosha, sharp digestion. I’ve always had good digestion, warm, warm body. Yeah. And I don’t, I do okay. In the cold weather I do. Okay. In the warm weather, but if it’s very hot and sunny, you know, then, then it’s a little bit too much. So a lot of fire, well, you generally, it’s people with a very strong focus, you know, and Kafa, Kafa is water and earth.

Richard LaMarita (28m 47s):
So steady, calm, you know, like kind of oily oily skin. Definitely don’t have, don’t definitely don’t have dry skin. You know, the things like I sleep well. I have a tendency at this point in my life, you know, to gain a little weight and then mix in. It’s harder to feel that way to come off. The, these are all tendencies. So it gives you a kind of a good understanding of yourself physically and behaviorally and mentally, emotionally.

Christine Okezie (29m 11s):
Exactly. It is a very, it’s a wonderful way to deepen and understanding of your tendencies. As you said, from other, from emotionally psychologically or, or certainly behaviorly and habitually, you know, what you tend to so helpful. What are some ayervetic dietary prescriptions, then there’s some general ones and then obviously there’s eating for your dosha or your tendencies. Right. So what are some tenets of the Ayurvedic diet?

Richard LaMarita (29m 39s):
Okay. So one of the most important things in the Ayurvedic diet is to understand number one, that it’s really this kind of triangle with three points, and they’re all interpret all of the big interplay. Right? I have one of those points is food, food itself, an outside thing that we put into our body. There’s like so much we can talk about and that alone. Okay.

Richard LaMarita (30m 9s):
Have you pointed that? The other point of that triangle is our digestive syst. What are we w what are we putting that food into? What’s the quality of our digestion. That’s going to be transforming that food into our bodily tissue and energy and intelligence because everybody’s digestion is different. You want to make sure your digestion is very, very strong.

Richard LaMarita (30m 39s):
In fact, Ayurvdea says that most imbalances and most diseases start in the digestive tract,

Christine Okezie (30m 47s):
Absolutey, Hippocrats right. All disease begins in the gut.

Richard LaMarita (30m 52s):
Yes. And then in these days, we’re beginning to understand what that means more clearly with the whole understanding of microbiome section between microbiome and brain and how it strengthens our digestion. So science is beginning to, to support what these ancient theories have known for a long, long time. So that is the second aspect. That’s the second point of that triangle is the digestion, because you can put the most delicious and nutritious food in your body, but if your digestion is not up for it, you know, get the maximum out of that third part of that triangle is how we eat, you know, the, the, the actual house.

Richard LaMarita (31m 44s):
How do we do we chew our food enough for, do we just swallow it down? We eat and drink so much liquid with it that we dilute the digestive juices. We eat a meal and then not give it enough time to digest by eating another meal on top of that meal. Wow.

Christine Okezie (32m 7s):
No, yeah.

Richard LaMarita (32m 9s):
Three things into play. And that’s very, very important within that. Each one of these, you can spend a good, good amount of time talking about, but in terms of food, cause most people are interested in food. I’m kind of, one of the key principles of Ayurveda is the food that you intake during, during the day should be a variety of different tastes in those tastes. Those tastes are sweet sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent.

Richard LaMarita (32m 40s):
Okay. It’s a little different than the view of modern, you know, kind of whatever today,

Christine Okezie (32m 47s):
Right? It’s a lot broader and a lot more comprehensive. Yes, indeed.

Richard LaMarita (32m 52s):
Yeah. So you want to have, if you want to have anyone that you want to be able to get all these tastes every single day, even every meal would be nice. Okay. Interesting. Yeah. And not only that, but you can even make one dish and have all the different tastes. Oh wow. Yeah. When chefs, the chefs say that they build flavor into their delicious, when you go to a restaurant and you have this really great dish and it’s complex, it’s got these multiple, you know, you’re getting hit by multiple tastes.

Richard LaMarita (33m 23s):
That’s what they’re doing there. They’re incorporating these cooperating different tastes into the, into their dishes. So each case is also dominant in the elements. So that’s how you understand that. So when you know, so for instance, when you have all the tastes, you’re going to get a nice balance of all the elements. Let’s say, if you are very, if you have a lot of heat in the body and it’s summertime and you know, and let’s say, you let’s say you’re, you’re, you know, you’re not sleeping well because it’s just too hard or you’re scared, you’re starting to get some rashes on your skin, you know, with the heat or something like that.

Richard LaMarita (34m 8s):
Then, then you would say to yourself, Oh, I have too much Pitta. I have too much fire and water. So that means I’m going to take the foods that do not have that little fire and water to taste. So I’m going to take the tastes that do not have that much fire and water. I’m going to reduce those. I’m going to increase the taste that will cool my body down. Fascinating for instance, you know, foods like spices, you know, you would kind of calm down a little bit okay.

Christine Okezie (34m 36s):
Down on those. Okay. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Wow. So it’s current, it’s, it’s being, having an awareness of what your tendencies and your, your dose, your dominant doshas are, but it’s also having an awareness for what your, what your current experience in your body is. Right. Okay. And modulating that.

Richard LaMarita (34m 56s):
Yes, exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. And then they, they’re not at odds really. Right,

Christine Okezie (35m 1s):
Right, right. Yeah.

Richard LaMarita (35m 3s):
Like I have, it is if it is about the elements, five elements, but also aggravate is very elemental in a sense, in the sense that it’s very intuitive. You know, if we’re walking, if you’re walking on the street, you know, and it starts to rain, what do you do? Boom. You open the umbrella, you find some shelter and I’m in sense, we’re interacting with these elements all the time. That’s beautiful. You know, we feel heat in the body. We do things that are gonna make it cool.

Richard LaMarita (35m 36s):
It just, just makes it just make sense. Yeah.

Christine Okezie (35m 39s):
It makes sense if we’re conscious, if we’re aware, right. If we’re, it’s the entry point, but it really changes how you take care of yourself, how you move through your environment with that level of self awareness. It’s amazing. And I love the eating practices, cause I’m always saying that, you know, you can eat the best meal, but if you show up to that meal, you know, a hot stressed out mess, you know, when you’re eating it, you know, while you’re texting and watching the news, you know, it’s not about what you’re eating, it’s what you’re assimilating and metabolizing and what your body’s doing with it.

Christine Okezie (36m 16s):
So there’s so much of that. I think that’s lost or at least not given enough attention with, well, if I eat this, you know, this will work for me. Well, it’s half the equation to your point.

Richard LaMarita (36m 27s):
Exactly. Exactly, exactly. Exactly. That’s beautiful.

Christine Okezie (36m 32s):
So yeah. Now, now what are some other, so there’s food, you mentioned food and then obviously the ability to digest it as well and, and lifestyle. What are some other lifestyle practices that would support this practice of Ayurvda?

Richard LaMarita (36m 49s):
I think the most important, they’re all important, but one of the one that is so fundamental and has been fundamental to me in the course of my life is the practice of meditation. So mental technique, yes. Our data has approaches that deal a lot with the physical, you know, like food and lifestyle and taking herbs and stuff like that. But the mental approach is one of the most powerful because the practice of meditation is a practice that allows you to take your kind of active, busy mind and quiet it down and just quiet it down and have an experience of your own inner silence.

Richard LaMarita (37m 44s):
And that is according to Ayurveda the source of your intelligence to source of, of your thinking process. Yes. So therefore you’re directly experiencing this lively unmanifest intelligence, that’s that’s within us. You’re having an absolute direct experience of that. It has a lot of different words in a lot of different, you know, expressions and ways of expressing it.

Richard LaMarita (38m 15s):
But, you know, one is pure consciousness. Did you experience your own inner pure consciousness? And that’s the source of our intelligence and to be able to directly tap into that, and kind of Enlive in that is, is, you know, is what is, what allows this intelligence of the body to really, really be live. And it’s what kind of gives you kind of a sense of, I know for me over the years, I’ve been practicing meditation for many, many years, that it just gives me this sense of connectedness, solidity, peacefulness, liveliness, liveliness inside, you know, so that, that, that I’m not dumping off everything that’s going on around me.

Richard LaMarita (39m 10s):
You know, I’m responding to it, but I’m not letting it, you know, sway me and push me in so many directions. You know, it doesn’t throw me off myself

Christine Okezie (39m 21s):
Component, right. When it comes to taking care of our, our health, right. Whether that’s trying to make a positive lifestyle change or whether that’s trying to figure out what are my tendencies, what is my body telling me, you know, what, what do I need to pay more attention to? And to your point, if there is a universal life force, a healing force that exists within us. And as you said, you know, our job is to really kind of get out of the way. I would say that what you’re saying here is that not only do we not want to interfere, right, we want to connect as deeply to it as possible.

Christine Okezie (39m 54s):
We want to build that inner communication. Have that be the, the w the wisdom, you know, that kind of guides this in this process called life called health. Right. Isn’t that really it.

Richard LaMarita (40m 9s):
Yeah, exactly.

Christine Okezie (40m 11s):
Yeah. And there’s a lot of distraction these days. There’s a lot of, a lot of ways we get knocked out of balance literally. Right. And so I think people, you know, they beat themselves up a lot around, you know, like if I could just eat this way, if I could just exercise this way, but I think fundamentally this is why meditation or any kind of contemplated practice to your point is you have to create sort of have to define the stability within ourselves fundamentally, and then

Richard LaMarita (40m 39s):
Well forward. Right. I, to completely, so that would be the first thing I would recommend for them to find a practice of meditation that really works. That helps you, that, that, that you could do on a regular basis. I mean, I practice transcendental meditation for one 50 years. I just love it. And then everything builds from that. So, you know, your yoga practice or your diet, you know, what are you eating, you know, your lifestyle in terms of getting to bed on time, getting the proper amount of rest.

Christine Okezie (41m 19s):
How does someone get started if they’re interested in exploring Ayurvda as a health system?

Richard LaMarita (41m 24s):
That’s a good question. I mean, there are books out there that would, that are, you know, some good introductory books that you can start. I think the best thing that they should do is seek kind of seek out an Ayurvedic consultation. That would be, that would be a really good thing to do. There are very doctors and Vaidyas, all over the place now. And, and to have these Ayurvedic kind of Vaidyas give you a little consultation in terms of, you know, in that consultation, they would be able to tell you what your property is, what, what are the, doshas, what the fundamental doses are, but yet what’s your body type they’d begin to, they would, they would help to determine what your imbalances are.

Richard LaMarita (42m 15s):
It’s a very powerful experience. I mean, these values are very good at kind of even kind of getting, getting a sense of your medical history based on what under techniques, the most powerful technique is called pulse diagnosis. They take your pulse and then they begin to kind of set up a little program for you. And also then start educating you in terms of, you know, you should think about doing that meditation. You can practice yoga.

Richard LaMarita (42m 45s):
Here’s, here’s a diet here would be a good diet for you in terms of, in terms of specific foods. So I think that would be a good way to, to kind of go into it, you know, in a very solid way, picking up books here and there it’ll take, you know, you can do it that way too, but it’ll take you a little bit longer.

Christine Okezie (43m 4s):
Yeah. I love that. Thank you. That’s really good. So I want to ask some specific questions so far our listeners let’s say when it, you know, a lot of my listeners struggle with a lot of metabolic imbalance. So whether that be excess weight or chronic digestive issues, you know, IBS, obviously a lot of these things as you and I both know relating to, you know, the, the strength and the, the power of our gut health, you know, so there’s a lot of emotional component to it. You know, there’s an anxiety.

Christine Okezie (43m 34s):
I mean, we’re living in 2020, so who doesn’t have some of that? What would you, you know, what are some, how can Ayurveda help with some of these things like can Ayurvdea help with weight loss and IBS and anxiety?

Richard LaMarita (43m 47s):
Definitely, definitely. I’ve had to, can help with pretty much anything because it’s going to be, it’s going to look at the fundamental imbalances of what is going on. And, you know, it’s going to determine, you know, what is this? What is, you know, what is the IBS relating to, in terms of, in terms of what are some of those fundamental imbalances that are happening in your digestive system in terms of too much heat too much, and it’s gonna help, and it’s gonna kick in, it’s gonna start.

Richard LaMarita (44m 17s):
And then from there, you can start making adjustments at very fundamental levels. When you start taking care of, you know, imbalances from the levels of the, of the, of the elements you start, you start seeing changes. It’s, it’s hard to give kind of diagnosis and prescription in a situation like this. Because again, the first thing that you do get is determined, what, who is the person that’s having this issue?

Richard LaMarita (44m 48s):
You know, if it’s, if it’s a tall, thin person, rather than let’s say a large person, so a person who’s dominant and Vata versus a person who’s dominant and Kafa, but they have similar symptoms, it would be a different, it would be a different approach.

Christine Okezie (45m 7s):
Yes, yes. Thank you. Okay.

Richard LaMarita (45m 11s):
But definitely Ayurveda could help.

Christine Okezie (45m 14s):
Yeah. It’s a wonderful entry point, right. Into understanding what is it that I really need to do? You know, what’s, my body really need my specific, you know, experience of these symptoms telling me

Richard LaMarita (45m 25s):
Exactly. Exactly. Can I give a crazy example of that please? I’m a baseball fan and, and, you know, I see, I see some of these guys on some of these baseball teams, major league baseball teams, first of all, they have a big, it really big, big, large compliment, you know, people that are like six, six, six, seven X pounds. And yet they, when they play, they get hurt. Right. They get hurt really fast. Okay.

Richard LaMarita (45m 56s):
And then they have to stay out for like weeks. A lot of these people, they go through the kind of a warmup and they go through the same warmup as everybody.

Christine Okezie (46m 4s):
Interesting. Right.

Richard LaMarita (46m 7s):
Well, that’s, that’s an example outside of kind of like the medical field where one size doesn’t fit all

Christine Okezie (46m 15s):
I follow you. Yeah. I totally follow you. Yeah. Yeah.

Richard LaMarita (46m 19s):
If somebody is stealing wirey and quick, they’re going to do a different warmup before then someone who’s big.

Christine Okezie (46m 28s):
I love this example. Yeah.

Richard LaMarita (46m 30s):
Maybe that person, who’s the person who’s light and thin, you know, maybe he needs to kind of get, you know, get things going and run a little bit, stretch, do some stretching and stuff

Christine Okezie (46m 41s):

Richard LaMarita (46m 42s):
Before the game. Maybe the person who’s big. Maybe they just, maybe they actually need an oil massage.

Christine Okezie (46m 48s):
Right, right, right. Yeah. Just a different way to get again, work with their elemental design to your point. Right. I think that’s beautiful because now I’m even thinking, well, that kind of translates into, beyond the food component of health. What about exercise and movement? Right. And I’m always saying this, I’m saying you have to listen. It’s, you know, what you eat, it’s gotta be specific to what you need and how you move your body has to be very designed as well, specifically to fit your needs. So it makes so much sense. I love this.

Christine Okezie (47m 19s):
I love that example. Thank you today, you know, in the modern world and, you know, the epidemic of chronic diseases that we’re seeing and, and all of that, what are some of the key advantages of using Ayurveda as a health system? Why would it be amazing if it was more adapted here in the Western world?

Richard LaMarita (47m 39s):
Mm Hmm. Yeah. That’s a good, that’s a great question. I think fundamentally it’s because, because it is so prevention oriented, it does, it is a way to really connect with the kind of this body’s inner intelligence that keeps our body healthy, that we develop in within us, you know, a really good sense of, of health, a good, strong sense of health, a good strong immune system, you know, to combat things that are, that are, that are coming, that are coming into us.

Christine Okezie (48m 13s):
Does it cost a lot of money, right?

Richard LaMarita (48m 15s):
Ayurvdea no not really, no. I mean, less than

Christine Okezie (48m 20s):
pharmaceuticals yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Richard LaMarita (48m 26s):
There’s a concept that I invented. It’s called. Ojas, jus that when you’re healthy, you have strong ojasYes. I’ll just as like life force. I mean, there’s a lot of different definitions. It’s like floors, but it’s also, you know, there’s a physical component to it, according to Ayurveda. And you know, if you’re healthy, you have a lot of ojasin the body and, and that’s that, that helps it to keep life going. And that helps to keep us healthy so that, you know, you’re going to be much stronger against, you know, against any pathogen, any disease that kind of starts to enter the bottle.

Christine Okezie (49m 6s):
Yeah. Well, yeah. I love the personal responsibility component. That’s a huge paradigm shift away from the, you know, reliance on outside external, you know, quick fixes. It’s certainly, I think, much more affordable, you know, in, in, in the longterm, for sure. So from personal health and collective health, obviously the prevention component, but also I think, I mean, I love the way you talk about, because it’s, it’s fundamental to Ayurvdea is that we’re, we are made of the same thing that this beautiful planet is made up.

Richard LaMarita (49m 42s):
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Christine Okezie (49m 44s):
Inherently, right. You know, bringing that into our psyche for how we care for ourselves is related to how we care for our natural world. I mean, it’s, there’s such a beautiful component relationship there. Sustainability factor that really speaks to me.

Richard LaMarita (50m 0s):
Yeah. Completely. Yes. Yeah.

Christine Okezie (50m 3s):
Okay. So I think I know the answer to this, but what is your non negotiableRrich in your daily self care kit,

Richard LaMarita (50m 12s):
Rest, eat, you know, do good things. You know, you think that make me happy, rest includes a lot there, you know, and includes good, proper rest, proper sleep. Yeah. That also includes my meditation. Never. And I always, I always practice my meditation every day. It’s kind of part of the routine. Those three things are really fun,

Christine Okezie (50m 37s):
Fundamental back to the basics. Right. But again, we have to bring a new level of prioritization or awareness to them, right? Yeah. It kind of gets lost in our everyday sometimes. What are your, what are you most curious about these days when it comes to health and healthy living

Richard LaMarita (50m 55s):
Kind of happy these days to see alternative medicine and integrative medicine start to make inroads into modern medicine. So I’m kind of happy to see that, that we’re at the point where we can have discussions like this, that people are like, you are out there exploring these ideas and teaching these ideas that, you know, that our health is, is, is in our hands.

Richard LaMarita (51m 26s):
And we have a great responsibility and with great ability to keep ourselves, to keep ourselves healthy and that, and that, and that ultimately I think, I think our healthcare system is, is changing. It’s slow to change, but, but I do think it is, it is changing.

Christine Okezie (51m 42s):
Oh, I’m glad to hear that from your perspective as well, that that warms my heart and, you know, excites me too, that we’re going in the right direction in that regard. So I’m glad you feel that way. Thank you. And so I just like to close, you know, rich, do you have maybe a personal mantra or a motto that you like to share? Something that’s meaningful to you?

Richard LaMarita (52m 1s):
I’m going to give you the definition of health in Ayurvdea , coming from one of the ancient Vedic texts. And this comes from a book called the Sushruta Samhita which is over 3000 years old, a medical book that’s over 3000 years old, one whose doshas are balanced. One whose agnis are balanced with proper form datus, proper elimination of malas. We’re going to, I’m going to explain what all this is.

Richard LaMarita (52m 32s):
Well functioning bodily process with mind, body and senses are happy. It’s called a healthy person. Very simple, very straightforward. Basically it says when the doshas are balanced, when those elements are balanced in the body, when the agnis are balanced, strong digestion, then your vatus, your bodily tissues and your molars are your processes of elimination, your mind and senses become happy.

Richard LaMarita (53m 3s):
And that’s a healthy person.

Christine Okezie (53m 5s):
Yes, yes. What we take in and we get what we let go of. Right. I love that. Thank you. Yeah. Such a beautiful place for people to embrace health in, in a very empowering and personalized way. So I hope people, I hope our listeners go and learn about Ayurveda.

Richard LaMarita (53m 23s):
Thank you so much. Really appreciate it. Being able to talk about Ayurveda to you and thank you for your amazing work. Oh right back at you. Thanks again Chef Rich . This has been such a wonderful, wonderful time to be with you. Thank you so much.

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