Saffron, Cinnamon & Wild Herbs…
The Yoga of Kitchen’s Divine Alchemy
The Ayurvedic Cooking Workshop in Freiburg
When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use,
when diet is correct, medicine is of no need.
— Ayurvedic Proverb
Making sweet meals and sharing joy and laughter around the dining table has long been noted by the Sages as a harmonious way to pass time together. After Igor’s past immersion in Freiburg – as we sat and ate lunch – the idea came to offer an Ayurvedic workshop around eating good food, and sharing some mutual passions and practices. Both of us have spent years looking at Mother Nature in ways of healing and providing her bounty as gifts to healing. In the workshop, we explored the ways in which we feel more connected to the whole, the importance of how we nourish ourselves, our friends and family, and the intention we prepare meals with. In the weeks to come, we aligned our focus and efforts – and entered an inspiring flow of preparation together. This first ayurvedic weekend was a beautiful offering, which we would like to share with you, the reader.
Many of the participants are part of the Sangha, who had been at several immersions with Igor already, interested in exploring this theme and learning about the place of ayurvedic cooking, as well as herbs which are seasonally available and which assist the body’s natural way of cleansing and releasing toxins. A sweet and modern vegan bistro venue was found in the center of Freiburg, which felt like the perfect place for us and the group; it even was equipped with a slow juicer and Vitamix, pretty awesome – we knew we must share our green juice recipe!
Our intention was to dedicate these two days to playfully introducing and exploring the basic Ayurvedic principles through lectures, dialogue, and directly applying them in the process of preparing, cooking and eating ayurvedic dishes together. Ayurveda as the Science of Life teaches us how to realign with the primal energies which nature is comprised of – including our bodies. Learning about and exploring the workings of the maha bhutas – the five great elements – earth, water, fire, air, and ether, enables us to work with them in conscious and creative ways. It can be quite revealing to reflect upon the fact that everything in this world expresses these elements in different, unique combinations. And since Mother Nature transforms constantly – plays and dances with these energies – we often immediately feel and experience these changes through what our bodies and minds signal us. Ayurveda basically draws us back to the simplicity of life, to ways of how to realign our individual rhythm with the greater rhythm of Nature – the seasons, the climate and locally available foods – to support ease, well-being, strong immunity and inner radiance.
Following this understanding, the time of Spring is the period when our bodies naturally tend to get more active after a more quiet phase during winter, and where gentle ayurvedic cleanse or detox programs support us to feel lighter, more vibrant and renewed. Nature at this time of the year provides us with an abundance of wild, edible herbs – many packed with nutrients and rich in healing properties. Adding freshly picked wild herbs to meals and juices can be a great addition to any gentle cleanse program. Inspired to share this knowledge, we added ‘foraging of wild herbs’ to our workshop structure.
After introducing the holistic principles of Ayurveda and the different constitutional types called doshas, participants were guided through a dosha test to learn about their individual body type – which was quite an eye-opening experience for many. We also spoke about the importance of the digestive fire – Agni in Ayurveda – and ways of culturing and nurturing it. A strong balanced digestive fire is important to support the maintenance of our physical and mental health through being able to properly digest the food we eat, as well as the mental and emotional impressions we constantly take in. Ama is the forerunner of all diseases, and when it builds up in our bodies over time, it will lead to the manifestation of specific symptoms which signal us that something is out of balance, and needs to be adjusted. It’s interesting to know that the ayurvedic approach strives to support us to maintain our physical, mental and emotional health throughout life by following individual constitutional guidelines, thus preventing the development of major doshic imbalances which inevitably will lead to illnesses. In contrary to that, Western medicine mainly deals with and focuses on treating the “final” stage of this long process of an imbalance manifesting as particular illness, without acknowledging what is the root cause of the disease.
We also addressed the relevance of sustaining ojas, which ideally is the end product of the digestive process, as well as the process of health – the essence of immunity, longevity, and quality of our reproductive fluids. It is defined as the vital substance in the body-mind that creates balance among the doshas Vata, Pitta, and Kapha; it is produced when diet, digestion, behavior, and mental and emotional states are balanced and free of ama. Then all the tissues are being well nourished and maintained at their highest level of physiological efficiency – creating clarity, contentment, and happiness. The mental and emotional experience of ojas is also described as bliss or the melting feeling of pure love. In our immersions, Igor often mentions that the process of genuine neurophysiological transformation requires sufficient and high-quality ojas and that it is necessary to adjust one’s diet to the requirements of expanding Consciousness. Awakening is also characterized through the (spontaneous) processing of deep mental ama, old memories (even unconscious ones) and the residues of emotional stress – the rejection, doubt, and disappointments of our lives, and the greater collective. The more this stored and undigested information has the chance to be released, the more our true essence shines forth. Ojas is the fuel and our offering for Kundalini Shakti, and it supports us to cushion and insulate the nervous system and prevents us from falling into deep emotional and energetic “valleys” after prolonged phases of blissful and ecstatic peak experiences. There are many food items which can be added to one’s diet to restore ojas, but one of the best and easiest ways is using high-quality, homemade ghee (clarified butter, preferably from organic milk) on a daily basis – viewed as the “gold” in Ayurvedic medicine. In a ghee cooking demo on Saturday, we showed everyone, how to make their own spiced ghee at home, using the healing spices turmeric, cardamom, and fenugreek.
Other inspiring topics on this first day of the workshop were tips on how to equip one’s kitchen, as well as a lecture on which spices and herbs support either the Agni or Ojas aspect. We further spoke about dinacharya, the daily routine and recommended ayurvedic lifestyle.
On Sunday, we relocated from the Soma Yoga studio to the kitchen venue – the car was packed with bags and boxes filled with fresh vegetables, spices, oils, herbs, and flowers. We began the day with cleaning herbs, and a circle in the kitchen – everyone wearing a colorful apron, we introduced and explained 15 wild edible herbs, freshly picked that same morning; participants had the chance to smell and taste the herbs’ inherent characteristic rasas (tastes). After this, we began with the preparation and creation of our many dishes in small teams. As we introduced how to cook each dish, the highlight of our workshop was the opportunity to get everyone cooking in bliss in the kitchen and engage all the senses in the cooking process. The green cleanse juice kept us on our toes midmorning, and the experience was very inspiring, and fun was had by us all! Time passed quickly, as the sun shone through the windows and the meals in the kitchen were getting prepared to enjoy the feast we had anticipated while gathering around a big, beautifully decorated table. Sharing a moment of silence and prayer, we gave thanks to the abundance of nourishment, to being in this bliss-filled space together, able to nourish each other on so many levels. Ayurveda describes the six different tastes as sweet, pungent, sour, salty, bitter and astringent and their various actions on the doshas – a fascinating topic in its own right which we explored with the group as well, while eating our lunch together and sampling these rasas.
Our Ayurvedic Menu
Green Juice with fresh Ginger
Creamy Asparagus Soup
Apricot-Saffron-Basmati Rice with spiced green Mung Dhal
Wild Herb Coconut Chutney
Birch Leave Salad with green Lentil Sprouts
Carrot & red Beet Halwa
A special part and another highlight of the workshop was a beautiful offering, which Amrita Ma had attentively and lovingly prepared in the weeks prior to the workshop – the possibility to take home a Cleanse Kit with detailed guidance for starting a gentle 10-day cleanse. Included in this package is a copper tongue scraper, medicated brahmi ghee, a coconut-neem swish (for oil-pulling in the morning), a herbal tea mixture & the Dining with the Divine guide booklet with over 25 tasty recipes – her teaser for the upcoming cookbook-in-the-making!
We closed our first workshop with a feedback circle, giving the opportunity to share experiences and ask more personal questions which had risen during the workshop, while enjoying the grounded feeling of contentment after the meal, and sipping on our freshly brewed renewing nettle tonic.
Offering this first ayurvedic workshop was a beautiful experience of honoring our deep connection to the life-force present in all living things – as the Great Mother nurturing us all. While the participants felt satisfied, nourished and shared revelation after revelation, in many re-awakened that connection that feeding oneself also means feeding the devatas, the shaktis governing all processes within our bodies, as well as viewing food as a sacred offering into the fire of the Divine Self. The feelings that were invoked in our hearts were joy, love, and gratitude for the blessing to share and cherish the bond which connects us all. We both as the guides of the weekend workshop felt a deep and beautiful heart connection and a celebration of sisterhood. We all united to flow with the moments and to enjoy and taste the unique flavors of life as they present themselves to us.
For sure, there will be another ayurvedic workshop happening soon!
With the rasa of love and joy ~
Jai Guru Dev
Amrita Ma Devi & Sundari Ma
For more inspiration and information on further workshops as well as ayurvedic recipes and ordering the Ayurvedic Cleanse Kit, please visit Amrita Ma Devi’s website: www.diningwith-thedivine.com
Images: taken by Stefan, Amrita & Sundari. Courtesy of Flowing Wakefulness Fellowship.