Episode 3: The UMA Ayurveda Podcast- How to Connect with Ourselves and Practice True Self-Care with Tara Sowlaty Lehrer
Lifestyle writer, creative, nutritionist, and chef, Tara Sowlaty Lehrer is a beacon in the world of wellness and self-care. As co-founder of the lifestyle site How You Glow, Tara provides a resource for anything seeking holistic living tips, wellness-focused inspiration, and honest ways to honor our health and how we connect with ourselves. Since a young age, Tara has been a student of various modalities, including how to use food as medicine. At fourteen, she went to Bali—and this opened a new world of yoga, Vedic meditation, alternative healing, and so much more. In her conversation with Shrankhla, Tara unveils the worldly wisdom she’s garnered from her travels and studies and the ways in which she learned to become her own healer. “When you get access to these tools, you really realize that you, yourself, have so much power.”
Tara’s website: http://www.tarasowlaty.com/
How You Glow: https://www.howyouglow.com/
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:00:39] Hi! I am Shrankhla Holecek, the Founder & CEO of UMA, an Ayurvedic beauty and wellness collection. This is the UMA Ayurveda podcast. Each week I’ll be having a conversation with someone I greatly admire on the topics of Ayurveda, holistic healing, spiritual well-being, and alternative health. By sharing this wisdom, I hope to share a personal truth and revelation with you. That, as ancient as they are, Ayurveda and other healing modalities are as modern and relevant today, as ever.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:01:31] Lifestyle writer, creative, nutritionist, and chef, Tara Sowlaty Lehrer is a beacon in the world of wellness and self-care. As co-founder of the lifestyle site How You Glow, Tara provides a resource for anything seeking holistic living tips, wellness-focused inspiration, and honest ways to honor our health and how we connect with ourselves. Since a young age, Tara has been a student of various modalities, including how to use food as medicine. At fourteen, she went to Bali—and this opened a new world of yoga, Vedic meditation, alternative healing, and so much more. In her conversation with Shrankhla, Tara unveils the worldly wisdom she’s garnered from her travels and studies and the ways in which she learned to become her own healer. “When you get access to these tools, you really realize that you, yourself, have so much power.”
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:01:35] Tara. Hi. It's such a great pleasure to be talking to you, all bit in these crazy circumstances. And I am so excited to follow up, to talk a little bit more about healing, self-care, and all the things that you said. Such a beautiful example of..being the best one can be in mind-body health. So welcome.
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:02:02] Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me. And I'm just so grateful to be able to connect during such a weird and uncertain time in our..world. But luckily, we have technology to connect us. And I think that's a beautiful side of technology.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:02:19] It indeed is. And I would be remiss if I also didn't mention sorry, I sound like such a fan gold. Better of the people that I have seen used technology for such good. Both on...
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:02:36] Thank you
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:02:36] Your social media channels, as well as other ways that you touch lives digitally and you've been such a force for good in this arena. So I felt like it's worth calling out since the topic of technology came up.
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:02:52] Thank you. Thank a really, truly, truly appreciate that. The biggest smile on my face. I just feel like especially those of us who have expertises and we've studied and I think having a platform, it's almost your duty to share and offer up your wisdom to the world and make that a positive experience so that you know what I'm what I've learned. I'm able to parlay that into someone else's lives and affect their life. Hopefully, they take that in and they add it to their lives and make themselves better. So it just kind of like a chain reaction in a way.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:03:32] And I'm glad you touched on that virtuous circle as well as very grateful for you, for you and all the wisdom that you have to share because of Ayurveda in particular for a very long time, was just an oral tradition. For thousands of years. It was just or we communicated so much of the wisdom that remains today and touches so many lives very positively, certainly, mine, came from a similar mindset and goodwill as yours of people taking the initiative with their wisdom and passing it along. So thank you to you and thank you for the thousands of sages who did that for Ayurveda. Many, many thousands of years ago and I feel like this is a good Segway into getting insight into your world, which Tara is such a comprehensive and thoughtful journey and approach of taking care of yourself. It's also stunning and beautiful to follow an example. But you put out with the understanding if there were some precipitating factors or it was intuitive or what, what brought about this way of life for you.
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:04:55] Yeah. Thank you for asking that. So for me, my journey really began when I was in my early teens. I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at the age of 14 and. It was something that I knew had to do with my gut. And, you know, and the guy is related to food and the stomach and all of that. So I got very curious as to how food could affect my body. And I learned about different eating modalities like veganism and vegetarianism, even Ayurveda. I was introduced to an AyAyurvedicuvedic healer around age 15 and really learned about the power of food and how it could push forward healing. And from there, after I went to school, I went to college. I studied business, but all throughout then I was kind of trying to learn and teach myself how to cook healthy food. And I was always obsessed with food as well as when I was younger. So I fell across this natural food cooking school one summer when I was living in New York City. I told myself when I graduate college, I have to go to this school. So I went to this amazing school called the Natural Institute. And that was truly where I think I've learned the most in my whole life. They not only taught us about natural foods used and the best ingredients used. It was a much more holistic approach to food as medicine about your daily practices.
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:06:37] And it is very practical knowledge that should honestly be like a God God-given right to every person. But some time through history, I think especially in this country, a lot of that knowledge has really dissipated. So I was so grateful to learn that knowledge. And from that school, I was introduced to a holistic nutrition program through which I decided to join and I became certified. And then I was a health-providing natural food chef for a family for a while. So that was kind of how I got into this journey. And from there, I decided to kind of take my knowledge and put it on like an online lifestyle site through which I created how, you know, with my business partner. And it's been an incredible journey of sharing knowledge and learning from other healers and seekers and just creating a very approachable avenue for wellness. Not that it's one way to live. It's not one way to eat. It's not one way to work out. It's just an easy, approachable way. And just a wealth of knowledge that you can pick and choose the things that make sense for your life.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:07:58] And I love how well-curated, genuine and in many ways moderate the wisdom on how you glow is and other works that you've written. It is very approachable and I love that about..your work. Tara, as I'm sure many are struggling with either diagnosed or undiagnosed, got chronic disorders and are maybe just starting on their journeys. I'd like to hear if you found things that challenged you as you discovered this path and how you navigated some of those challenges.
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:08:42] One of the biggest challenges for me personally was kind of admitting to myself that I have the power just because especially if you're diagnosed with something at a younger age, you're constantly told what to do and how to deal with, with your symptoms and your illness. And I think that when you learn..that you have the power to take on what you have been given. That's when you can really create change and we can all be our own healers. And that's absolutely it's not just, you know, a quote. It's absolutely the truth. And that's why I try to promote a moderate approach because there's absolutely no one right answer. Everybody has their own prescription. Everybody has their own specific tool kit that they should be able to create for themselves to help them figure out whatever they need to figure out.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:09:47] And I want to stay maybe a couple more seconds on the powerful turn of phrase around having the power because it felt so intuitive when you said it. And yet I was reminded of how often I forget that about my day, about my month, about the influence I can wield on my body, my mind, the world at large. So I think it's a good mantra for all of us, for all things big and small, to remind ourselves of that. Speaking of powerful things, I think there is some wisdom to unpack here, and I want to hear about it all and time permitting. And I suppose your yoga and meditation practice might be a good place to start up. Was it your teacher training in Bali that started to inspire at all? How did you get to incorporate a big yoga and meditation practice within your regimen?
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:10:53] I definitely started meditating before I went to Bali. I was first introduced.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:10:58] Making it sound dramatic and beautiful..
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:11:04] Well, you know, I actually..Let's make it lovely and dramatic. I went to Bali when I was—I believe—I was fourteen with my family and it was the most transformative, magical experience that I have ever experienced on any trip. And I got there and I told my family, this is my place. This is where I'm getting married. This is where I'm moving to..I just had some visceral experience with Bali. And it was before, like anyone I knew had ever been there as anyone before anyone had ever talked about it. Like I was 14 and no one really ever talked about Bali. I truly connected to their.. sympathetica with the divine—like the way they lived their lives is just so intertwined with spirituality and ancestors and the righteousness of family. And I think that was a very transformative experience for me. And I knew that I would in Bollywood be a very big part of my life. Since that time, I had have gone to Bali three other times in very long spurts. Being in that place, just kind of being exposed to that connection of self. I think. Really resonated with me, and I brought that back home with me and I got deep into yoga and learned about different kinds of meditation. I got trained in Vedic meditation. And then I came across this incredible program in Bali and where I was going to be trained in Abshanga based in version yoga and Vedic meditation chanting. So it was a very, very special experience. Very challenging and really transformative experience. And I think the deeper you get into meditation, the more you kind of bring it back to what you're talking about before, just shows you that you truly can be your own healer when you get access to these tools, you really realize that you yourself have so much power.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:13:31] There's so much in there, starting with the fact that going to Bali at 14, it definitely sounds fortuitous seasons. You know, it's especially in North America. I don't see that many families, especially young families, holidaying in Bali. The fact that you felt an instant connection, the fact that up in such a meaningful way, it definitely sounds like it was all in the cards or, you know, the universe conspiring to make it all happen. It's also amazing to see how your practice and journey has evolved. Tara, could you share some of the tools that have helped to evolve in that practice? Because suddenly with meditation, I know a lot of people struggle.
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:14:26] Absolutely. I have a lot to say on this. Because I've been the type of person that has meditated for twenty-five minutes, twice a day. And I've been the person where I have meditated for three months. So I think that I've come to a place where I truly believe and want to promote a very not dogmatic approach to meditation. So that means for me that my meditation practice looks very varied so that sometimes it means that I meditate 20 minutes in the morning. Sometimes that means I meditate on a walk. Sometimes that means I'll do. Drawing meditation where I get my watercolors and that's my meditation for the day. I think that we can truly make so many different practices, a form of meditation and teaching people that that's okay, because I think a lot of people tell themselves, oh, I have to sit down against a comfy pillow with my eyes closed and my hands are open and receiving to be, quote-unquote, meditating. I just don't believe that's true. And I think that's absolutely the opposite of what meditation is, is and should promote it. It's whatever you are able to do in your life to accomplish that form of connection to self. That is your former meditation and being kind to yourself. Being easy on yourself. Being flexible with yourself. Sometimes we get into routines where that 20 minutes, twice a day works and that's wonderful. But then sometimes we don't. And that doesn't mean that you should get upset at yourself or because I said that's just a bad process because you feel bad about it. And think about that. You feel bad about not meditating. That's the absolute. Opposite thing, that meditation is the point. So I think we all need to be kinder to ourselves and more flexible and show that we can meditate. In so many ways, you can meditate while you're driving. You can meditate on a walk. You can meditate. You know, snuggling with your dog. It's just— there's so many ways to connect to the self. And I think that's very important and something that I'm really trying to promote.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:16:49] And that is a beautiful framing of the topic and the practice as a whole in that even broader than meditation. I think sometimes wellness can feel like a chore to people and they start to have a visceral reaction to it, which..is something that needs to get nipped in the bud immediately. And sometimes it can feel like a privilege to have the time to be able to do those things. And those are the times you sort of take advantage of that time and other times you don't. But I love the framing of self-love and meditation coming in different forms. So you're not beating yourself up for not practicing it in a traditional sense, as it were..And balance..harmony comes from a variety of things, such as yoga and meditation, arguably, most fundamentally, within Ayurveda, they do come from food. And that's something that I am dying to hear your philosophy on. Especially since you've studied so many different styles of modalities around using food as medicine.
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:18:10] Yeah. Food and I think so. I absolutely love and cherish my meals and my food and. It just brings me so much joy and I and I create such a fun ritual around it and every day looks different for me. So I really tune into my body. I'm more of an intuitive either and..when I wake up, if I'm hungry, I'll have a bigger meal. I'll have like a frittata or some sort of healthy big good that I made the night before and I'll warm it up or some delicious gluten-free toast with ghee on top. Some days I'm not that hungry. So, I'll just have berries and a tonic or so that it's just about being very intuitive. I'm not dogmatic in the sense of, oh, I wake up, I have to eat eggs and this and that. I just..I think our bodies are much more sensitive than that. And I think it's very important to listen to our bodies. And I'm a chef, so every day really looks different. I'm inspired by what I have in my fridge, what I pick up at the farmer's market every week in just getting creative with, you know, delicious cozy foods. I love foods that are like caramelized and cooked and lots of fresh herbs. And I love like a lemony vinegar salad and I love sweets. And I won't deny myself of that. I've done that in the past and it just doesn't serve me and sweet like a delicious date with nuts or healthy chocolate. And I just feel like food is so not only nourishing to my body but is truly nourishing to my soul and I really honor that.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:20:06] And there is something so natural about intuitive eating that is underscored in Ayurveda, both in terms of food and hydration, that it's nice to see you honor that. Further, if there was a mindset or a philosophy that you could impart on our listeners to make eating more delightful and more and more celebratory and intuitive every day, would there be something that we can take right away and add to our eating habits?
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:20:50] Well, I think that, First off thing, distinguishing the food that bring you joy. So that means tapping into your eating habits and I think all of us can name, you know. The foods that bring us the most joy and really honoring that and allowing yourself to eat those things. And let's say your favorite food is sweet potatoes and that, you know, I mean, like making room for that and finding delicious ways to honor that and..or if your favorite food is chocolate..like figuring out how to make that fit into your routine. And in a way that doesn't upset you or make you stressed out or..just getting in tune with yourself and really listening to what your body wants..there is sound there. You listen like we can mask those sounds by just eating and not thinking. And I don't think that's a very fulfilling way to go about, you know, a food philosophy.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:21:59] You're totally right. That definitely is true, both in terms of the sounds as well as at least speaking for myself, sounds that I may have concealed consciously or subconsciously that definitely needs giving more credence to. So that's it for me right away. Tara, you're also a healer. Tell me about that.
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:22:31] Yes. So as a health coach, I've been. You know, working with clients and helping them heal their food journeys. But on top of that, I have some really deep into the power of crystals. And on my tour in training in Bali, I became obsessed with the power of Mandala and Crystal Grid and all that. So I really, really dug deep into that technology and had facilitated workshops and classes and one on one sessions with people to help them harness their creativity. And any wisdom to kind of bring forth what they're looking for in their lives?
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:23:21] Can you share a profound healing experience? You might have had with somebody you feel comfortable?
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:23:29] There was one girl who was really, truly stuck in her job. Second, her relationship. And she got broken up with and, you know, we worked together and I kind of advised her to. She honestly had never traveled before. And I advised her to figure out how to upend her life and go somewhere new. And she did just that. She figured out how to transfer her job to London. She fully upended her life. And it was the best decision she's ever made. And I think sometimes we just need someone to give us that little push in life..and confidence to really follow something new. And it seems very scary sometimes. But when you have someone to lean on and get that information from, I think you can create really transformative experiences in your life.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:24:34] I appreciate your sharing that, because sometimes even when we hear words of wisdom, it's hard to connect it with ourselves and in some shape or form. All life experiences speak to certain parts of us, whether we're feeling stuck or are in an unhealthy relationship or feeling professionally unmotivated that success stories always help give us that personal enthusiasm and reaching out for help when we need. So, thank you for sharing that.
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:25:08] Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:25:10] Tara, I also know that you are you work with crystals in a big way. Tell me a little bit about that.
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:25:19] Yeah, so as I was saying, I really got inspired to delve deeper into crystals during my experience in Bali. I always had been very, very fascinated with them from a young age when I was in Girl Scouts, actually. I was like seven or eight. We stumbled upon this crystal show, one of our Girl Scout trips, and I just was collecting the little rocks and all these little baby crystals. And since I was young and I just have a very, very strong affinity to them, as many, many people do. But when I went to Bali, I was so fascinated by the daily Mandala offerings that they create. If you've been to Bali, you know that..you know, every entrance and every doorway and every pathway, there's these beautiful offerings..and I wanted to bring that back home with me. And in a way that I could offer that to other people. So. I really, really dug deep into crystal technology and, you know, there's different patterns in the universe. There's a Fibonacci sequence. There's different geometrical shapes, a spiral. And these things make up our DNA. You know, the structures of plants. And so utilizing crystals with this structural technology of the earth can really, really amplify intentions. So as I was doing with my healing sessions, I kind of teach people how to utilize the power of crystals to amplify in tension. So you can be very specific with crystals in that way, or you can not. You don't need crystals can go both ways. So you can just get a crystal put in your home. If you resonate with that crystal, bring it to you..and you can just let it be or you can use them as specific tools to amplify what you're looking for in your life. So it's really dynamic. Crystals are very dynamic..and they can bring you as much as you'd like them to or, you know, you can just let them be and work their magic on them on their own. And on top of that, they're just such beautiful gems that come from Mother Earth and..it's just a beautiful reminder of Earth energy that I think is so lovely to have around.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:27:59] It really is. And it makes me wonder what your philosophy on getting started with crystals is. Do you feel that it is best to do it via a consult, or do you think it's okay to get started on one's own and see an expert practitioner at a little later time? Because I could see it both ways.
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:28:28] Yeah, I agree. I think absolutely both ways. I think kind of going back with my approach to life in general, I'm just not a very dogmatic person. So I think if you feel called to wanting to get specific with an expert and get a console, that's what you should be doing. But or if you're that person that says, no, I want to learn on my own, I want to just feel it out, then that's what you should do. So I think that's what's so beautiful about crystals, is that there's no one way to interact with them. There's no one way to use them and they serve different purposes for different people. So if you and I think the first step with any crystal is you should be drawn to it. It shouldn't be something that this person said, oh, that's a good crystal. You should get it. It has to be an intimate relationship with that crystal, with that specific shape of that crystal, how that crystal feels in your hand, the energy you feel when you hold it. So it's a very, very unique and prescriptive experience. And I don't..always necessarily agree with somebody picking out or crystal for you. I think that crystal healers should guide people towards a crystal, not, you know, be very dogmatic in how they tell other people to use it.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:29:55] Is there a resource or a book that you like to advise to someone who might be just starting to understand crystals or is curious about it, obviously, you got me very curious about a consultation with you. Do you make that available to other people? And what's the best way for some of our audiences..I know you're based in Los Angeles..to go about that.
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:30:25] Absolutely. So first, your first question. The Book of Stones is the Bible. I would say so. I can give you a link to that if you want to share that with them. The listeners.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:30:36] Will do.
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:30:37] it's an incredible resource. And secondly, yeah, I can share my email with you and I can sleep. I set up when I'm on consults and, you know, if you're in L.A., I can take you to one of my sources and we can, you know, do a session and pick out some crystals together. And that, you know, just through email, we can do that. So it's a really, really lovely experience.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:31:06] And it's one that I get a lot of questions around because of crystals and metals have re-reviewed place in Ayurveda, not just in balancing one's own energy with the Earth. It also goes back to how other planets and Vedic astrology has an impact on your life, your health, your mental balance, your emotional well-being, your relationships, and the crystals and metals show up often in ways to manage that within maybe with you. So it's definitely one arena that we get a lot of questions around. It's inspiring that you have such a rich tradition of wellness integrated into your life, but also that you do many delightful things, like a lot of travel and you have a full plate professionally. Sometimes those things can feel orthogonal to each other in terms of being able to balance them. Any tips on how you do that, well?
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:32:24] yeah, I think that..I have made wellness practices such an ingrained part of my daily routine that..I don't really stress about staying well when I travel. Like, for example, I always have a ton of water with me on the airplane. I drink a lot of warm water with lemon. I. You know, incorporate veggies and greens into my meals, but I never really stress about, you know, having to work out or eating a specific way, like when I'm traveling. I fully embrace and indulge in whatever experience that I'm going to. So that to me is wellness, that to me is being present and being mindful of the fact of where I am in the world and really embracing it for what it is like that is being well and You know, not going actually overboard, but really honoring where you are in the world and making that the norm instead of being so stuck to one rigid way of being well, that hasn't served me in the past. And I feel like once you really embrace being in a different culture and living a different life like that shows you how resilient you are. And that shows you how dynamic you are that you can be in a different place in the world and adapt and learn that culture and be that way and still be well, you know. So I think it's a practice of..being mindful and being very present with where you are.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:34:12] That is indeed very sage. And having met you, I can see that you embody that in..such a practical and real payback is there is an energy around you that seems very much at ease and connected to one's funding.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:34:34] So there is that much more reason for us to be taking this seriously and trying our best to be present and make wellness enjoyable because that's pretty much the only way something sticks is when..it's intuitive, it's pleasurable, it's moderate and which is something that we have very much been trying to do with, with the dissemination of Ayurvedic principles because they are at bottom all of those things and wherever you are in your wellness journey is OK. So those fitting words seem like a great place to leave our listeners with and to think about everything wonderful that you've shared with us during this conversation. Tara, any words or any parting thoughts that we may have not covered but that help you stay inspired every day?
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:35:36] Well, thank you so much for your kind kind words. And I would just love to leave everyone with kind of just hammer home the sense of moderation. And in some ways, at least one my favorite quote it. Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist. Learn yourself inside and out. And allow yourself to stray from that as well and indulge in the things that you love and bring you joy and..allowing you like that like variance in your life. That's what makes you so vibrant and happy. And I want to share with people that that's okay to have that dynamic so
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:36:20] That is a great call to action. I certainly I'm inspired to do a little bit more of that than I already have been trying to do. Tara, thanks again for being here. I know there will probably be a ton of questions that I will be funneling your way once this goes live and I look forward to exploring so much more with you because you are such a clear beacon of wisdom and knowledge in this space so,.
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:36:52] Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. And so lucky to be speaking with you.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:36:57] You are very welcome. And I'm sure we'll be talking soon.
Tara Sowlaty Lehrer: [00:37:01] Yes. Be well!
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:37:26] Thank you so much for listening. If you like more information on our guest and the additional references during our conversation, Please visit us at UMAOils.com.