Talking Ayurveda: An Interview with Jenna Wolf
Ever wonder why you're sweating like you've landed on the surface of the sun while your pal across the couch is wrapped up in a blanket? Ayurveda can explain.
I've long been fascinated by the world of Ayurveda and its approach to maintaining health through balancing body and mind. Although the concept is simplistic, this ancient approach to wellness takes years of learning and practicing to fully grasp. Practitioners of this healing art understand the details and intricacies that make adopting this lifestyle so powerful.
Last year, I was fortunate enough to connect with Jenna Wolf (pictured above), owner of The Lotus Room, an Ayurveda healing studio in Nashville. Jenna is one of those people whose inner glow reaches out to hug you before her arms make it official. She is so easy and welcoming, it's easy to see why she was called to share Ayurveda with others. Her love and knowledge of this holistic science is captivating and the way she shares information makes me want to sit up, listen, and change my habits.
Jenna was kind enough to indulge me in a Q & A about Ayurveda and her answers honestly made me say out loud: "Yes! You are such a badass!" Below is our conversation, filled with tid-bits on how you can discover your dosha, clearing your sinuses, what new offerings The Lotus Room has in store and everything in between.
(Note: Here's a little context for the Q & A:
"In Ayurveda, the five elements that are found in all living things—ether, air, fire, water, and earth—are the building blocks of life. While this foundation unites all humans, the manifestation of those elements through the doshas is what gives rise to our differences. How the three doshas appear, and in what proportion, is what makes each of us unique." The Chopra Center)
AJ: What initially drew you to Ayurveda? What keeps you hooked?
JW: The beauty + simplicity. I’ve always been fascinated by the unknown. Maybe it’s because I am a Scorpio? What drew me initially to Ayurveda was the innate simplicity and the way it spiritualizes the everyday, sometimes mundane activities - like eating and brushing your teeth. The fundamentals of the whole thing are just so, duh! The 5 elements, the 3 doshas, when you take the time to understand them, it feels less like a foreign language and more just like, well YOU!
Everyone sees themselves in Ayurveda, and that’s why it works.
What keeps me hooked? Honestly, it is pure devotion. I don’t believe the Ayurveda life is for everyone. I think its inspiring and becoming more popular, but it’s not for everyone. It’s not a quick fix, it’s a slow medicine. It’s a lifestyle. It takes thoughtfulness, faith and openness. I often use the analogy of standing in the middle of a teeter totter - are you ever still? No. That’s Ayurveda, it takes strength and constant attention. There is no ‘perfection’ here. I’m all about that life. It’s a challenge, an ever unfolding adventure, much like love or knowing God - it just works for me.
AJ: What have you learned about your personal dosha that has had the most impact on your life?
JW: My Prakriti (doshic temperment) is Kapha Pitta (Earth + Fire). When I am balanced, I feel grounded, powerful and transformative as a woman, healer and teacher. Like a blazing fire contained in a stone pit.
When I am out of balance I have a tendency to burn the whole forest down - never good…
Managing my volatile fire nature while honoring the sweet steadiness of my earth has been, and will forever continue to bring the most powerful lessons for me. It’s the dance of a lifetime for sure.
AJ: What's one Ayurveda product/resource you can't live without?
JW: Nasya oil. I have an embarrassing confession…I’m a long time mouth-breather. At this point, after many years of conscious practice it only really happens subconsciously late at night. Truthfully it’s related to a perpetual dryness in my sinuses. Thus, I use Nasya oil 2x/day. I can honestly say it helps me so much, especially in Tennessee allergy season!
AJ: Where do you see people struggle/become challenged the most when they are learning about and trying to adopt an Ayurvedic approach to life?
JW: My teacher once said “its easier to change ones religion than it is to change their diet.” Getting people hooked on the idea of Ayurveda is easy, getting them to actually change their routine, close to impossible. My philosophy - take life one bite at a time. Chew up what life is giving you right here, right now - digest it - keep what’s true to you - eliminate what isn’t and keep moving.
AJ: Tell me about the simplest change people could make today to support/help balance their dosha?
JW: Pay attention to the qualities of the weather. You don’t have to know anything about Ayurveda to know whats happening outside. By qualities I mean looking at the attributes of outside - cold, warm, wet, dry, light, heavy, etc. Remember the mantra: same for more, opposite for less. Meaning, if you feel heavy and the weather outside is heavy too, do something of the opposite quality - eat light, move your body, be around happy people.
AJ: Which online dosha test do you recommend?
AJ: How do you develop/design the services on the menu for The Lotus Room?
JW: It is my intention to uphold the time honored practice of Ayurveda by offering the most traditional, effective, and sacred therapies it has to share. When designing our menu I aim to create the most authentic experience possible for our clients. That said, there are always limitations that we have to work around (i.e. not having showers, etc.) At this time our menu is limited to what our space can accommodate. One day we hope to expand and be able to offer other Ayurveda treatments like scrubs and steam therapy!
AJ: Is there anything new we can expect from The Lotus Room?
JW: Yes yes yes! We are so excited to be offering a new service in the coming weeks: Kati Basti!
Kati Basti is a traditional Ayurvedic treatment used for lower backache and disorders of lumbosacral region, including slip disc, lumbar spondylosis, sciatica, spinal problems etc.
In Sanskrit, the word Basti translates as, “to hold”, and refers to a compartment made for herbal oils or tonics to sit in for a period of time.
Your healer will prepare a ring of whole wheat dough which is shaped over the lower back. It is then filled with warm Ashwagandha Bala oil and left to rest for approximately 20 minutes.
AJ: Do you have a favorite treatment that you enjoy facilitating? Receiving?
JW: Hands down, our Indian head massage. Warm oil poured over the head and then massaged in - talk about bliss! It grounds a windy mind and soothes the whole nervous system. Plus, your hair will LOVE the extra nourishment from the oil!
AJ: As a healer, what self-care do you practice to keep you balanced and aligned?
JW: Keeping a regular eating schedule - Breakfast by 9a, and lunch by 1p. When I’m hungry, I am useless. “Running on fumes” is what I call it. Being a healer is not only my calling, it is my job. Everyday people come to me and I need to show up for them with the medicine of life. If my energy reserves are low, I am truly no use to anyone on their healing journey. It’s taken me literally a year, and a difficult alteration of my daily schedule to make this a routine - but now it’s a non-negotiable self-care practice.