Episode 8: Discovering Ayurveda, Vibrance, and a New Life Path with Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi
Years ago, Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi had hit “rock bottom.” She was diagnosed with IBS, anxiety, depression, and many other ailments. “I had tried everything,” she tells Shrankhla, but nothing truly helped her—until she discovered Ayurveda. To say the least, she dived right into the practice and moved to Kerala, India. “The decision to pursue Ayurveda was completely an overnight decision for me,” she says. “It was something that I can’t quite explain. It was a voice within me.” What ensued was a path of healing, learning, and liberation—and eventually, a new career. Since, Zohreh has founded Roha, an Ayurvedic healing center in San Francisco. She dives deep with Shrankhla to unpack all that Ayurveda has taught her.
Episode Transcript:Shrankhla Holecek: [00:00:40] 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: [00:01:41] Years ago, Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi had hit “rock bottom.” She was diagnosed with IBS, anxiety, depression, and many other ailments. “I had tried everything,” she tells me, but nothing truly helped her—until she discovered Ayurveda. To say the least, she dived right into the practice and moved to Kerala, India. “The decision to pursue Ayurveda was completely an overnight decision for me,” she says. “It was something that I can’t quite explain. It was a voice within me.” What ensued was a path of healing, learning, and liberation—and eventually, a new career. Since, Zohreh has founded Roha, an Ayurvedic healing center in San Francisco. She dives deep with me to unpack all that Ayurveda has taught her.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:01:41] Thank you so much for speaking with me today. It's such an absolute pleasure. I understand that you came to Ayurveda through a journey of exploration into your own health. And in fact, started with a full 40 day Panchakarma in Kerala in India, which I should call out, is that magnificent and huge in its own right. I've been born into Ayurveda. Yet, to do a Panchakarma. And you went down to Kerala from San Francisco all the way to do it. So I can't think of a more prodigious start to an education in Ayurveda. And that's where, I'd love to start, You know what you felt like diving right in how your days progressed, how you felt physically and emotionally.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:02:35] Tell us all about that.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:02:37] Thank you for having me Shrankhla, I'm really happy to be here speaking with you. Yes. So I sort of stumbled upon Ayurveda at a point in my life where I would say I have completely fallen apart. I have hit rock bottom. I was diagnosed with many different sort of ailments from IBS throughout my life because I had sensitive digestive system to, you know, severe depression, anxiety disorder and then PCOS close to stick a rare syndrome. And I sort of struggled with all of this for many years, not quite figuring out why it was all happening to me. And I tried I had tried everything from Western medicine. I tried therapy for many years. I tried acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, some of which actually helped, but nothing was quite able to figure out why I was struggling so much. So, what I decided to do and this completely came out of nowhere. One day I remembered that many years ago I had seen an Indian holistic doctor. I couldn't remember what the name was, but I popped online and I just did a quick search for Indian holistic medicine. And in the name Ayurveda popped up and I was like, yeah, many years ago I saw this doctor and I remember the only thing she told me was like, you know, your body's out of balance, there's too much fire and we have to cool you down.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:04:04] And I had no idea what that meant at the time. So the decision to kind of pursue Ayurveda was completely an overnight decision for me. It was something that I can't quite explain. There was a voice within me that I'd like to think of it as my higher self or my intuition that just kicked in and was like, this is it. This is your solution. And this is how you're gonna bring yourself back into balance. This is how you're gonna to heal yourself. So within couple of months, I packed my bags and moved to India, and it was a very quick decision. There was not a whole bunch of thinking, really logic that went into it. I just responded to this voice. And when I moved to Kerala, I started studying Ayurveda and at the same time I was doing my Panchakarma and I had no idea what to expect. Nothing whatsoever. And I remember having my first session with my diabetic doctor there, and she sat in front of me and I went through a list of symptoms, everything that had been happening to me ever since I was a kid, because I was not new to disease, an ailment and pain. I kind of had gone see it all my life. And I went through all the symptoms.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:05:15] I told her everything and she just looked at me and she was like, you know, all of that is great. It's good for me to know your symptoms, but we don't really treat the symptoms here.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:05:24] We really want to treat you as a whole. And this is now some 10 years ago, which I didn't fully understand what that meant at the time. And I said, I'm ready. I said, I'm going to dive in. You tell me what needs to be done. And she put me on the whole Panchakarma process. And she suggested that I do know about 40 days to begin because that's sort of what we recommend in Ayurveda when you first getting started anywhere from like 30 to 40 days. And I told her that I'm open to trying all the treatments, taking all the herbs. I was really, truly open because I was at the time, you know, 27, 28 years old. And I had tried everything and nothing had quite helped. So I dived right in and they put me on a program where I was getting treatments daily about, you know, sometimes two to three treatments a day. And I was taking herbs regularly. I was on a specific diet. There was a lot that happened during that whole process. There was a lot that happened not just on a physical level. Of course, I started sort of, you know, feeling better physically, but then on an emotional level, I went through a huge transformation during those 40 days. I remember, days that I just could not get out of bed. Because the emotions were so intense, they were weighing so heavily on me. I spend days crying.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:06:45] I spend days being angry, being resentful. I spend days being sad. There was so much that came up and I couldn't really figure out why all of this was coming up. I still was really new to Ayurveda and then I was sort of studying it at the same time. So then I started learning about the concept of the Dosha, the concept of the energies within the body and what really was happening to me and tapping into the root cause of all the sort of emotional imbalances that was within me. And one thing became really clear when I did the Panchakarma, was that it wasn't so much the physical body that I needed to heal, but it was really my emotional body, my spiritual body or my consciousness, a spirit, whatever you want to call it. I realized that that's what needed healing, that I was, you know, wounded because of my experiences in life, because of sort of the traumas that I went through as a child. And it sort of brought all of that to the forefront of my awareness. And I dived right in. And I remember on day forty one, I met with my Ayurvedic doctor and I sat in front of her and I was like, I don't know exactly what happened to me. I just know that I feel like I was born again. Like there has been a rebirth. And one of the main goals was to restore my menstrual cycle that I had lost for, you know, a few years prior to die due to PCOS.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:08:14] And I remember her telling me that you may not get your cycle back right away, that you have to give this time. I know it isn't a quick fix and even do you did the 40 days. You may have to give yourself another month or so to really feel the effects and to restore your cycle and that part. Initially it was disappointing and I was like, OK, but I'm willing to stick with this. But the most sort of miraculous thing happened. And I woke up the next morning and I got my cycle for the first sign naturally in years. So that's when I knew I was like, not only was I able to sort of restore my physical body and bring it back into balance, but I also was able to dig deep and figure out what was happening with me emotionally. And in that moment, I had this clear sort of voice is calling within me. I was like, this is your life's work. This is what you're going to do. You know, you were able to heal yourself with the help of this amazing medicine. And now you have to go out there and help everybody you crossed paths with become healthy, specially women, because as a woman, I struggled so much with my health. So women's health became something that I became very passionate about,after doing my first Panchakarma.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:09:29] I would love to get into your formal education with Ayurveda and what that was like. But I want to start with your punch karma in as much as you can. Break it down for us what the day's felt like, what you ate, how you spent your time, what you felt while going through it. You've touched on how it felt coming out of it. But anything that can demystify this complex, amazing bunch of karma ritual for us would be very helpful.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:10:05] Yeah, Absolutely. So the way I look at it, is the whole Panchakarma process is a cleanse. But while you're going through Panchakarma, you can really look at it as a retreat because on any sort of given day, you start your day by sort of waking up with the sunrise. So you're going you're putting your body in line with the natural rhythm of nature throughout the day. So you wake up at the sun. You practice yoga, meditation, and depending on where you go for your Panchakarma, they could have sort of group meditation, they could have group yoga classes. They sort of urge you to do that on your own. So that's kind of how you begin your day and then you're given your meals, you're given your three meals a day. You're given breakfast, lunch and dinner. And all of that is usually fresh based on your body constitution, based on your prakriti. They prepare different meals for you. Like, for example, if you have diabetes or you're if you're in a weight loss diet, your food might look different than the person who's therefore, I don't know, schizophrenia or mental disorders. So then your food is given to you three meals a day and you get to see and speak to your Ayurvedic doctor on a daily basis. So the first day, the session is usually longer, an hour to two to really dive deeper. And then after that, you get to meet with your doctor everyday for like 20 to 30 minutes. And that becomes sort of the psychological or mental coaching. Components of the whole Panchakarma process, because it is a very deep process and it goes deep into your psyche. So a lot of stuff will come up. So it's crucial that you get to talk to your practitioner, your doctor on a regular basis. So you have these sort of like healing sessions everyday with your practitioner, and then you get body treatments, you get physical treatments, which are actually, absolutely amazing. So, again, the treatments change. The way we break it up in Panchakarma is every sort of five to seven days. Your treatments will change. So we do any one particular Ayurvedic sort of therapy with treatments for like five sessions in a row or seven sessions in a row, depending on what the body needs. And typically, when you're doing a classic Panchakarma, you get to do two treatments daily. They're either done sort of in back to back or they're broken up into like a morning treatment. And then you have lunch and then you go afternoon treatment. And then you have typically there's like either meditation or chanting session in the evening as well. And then you get your dinner. And yeah, you do. You'll have a lot of time on your own through this whole Panchakarma process. And they usually urge you to sit with yourself during that time to do a lot of meditation. A lot of reading, writing. And all of that will help you go deeper within because, you know, one of the main goal of Ayurveda is to strengthen this connection that you have with yourself, with your inner self, with your true essence. So by doing this a spiritual practices, while you're going through your Panchakarma, you'll be able to sort of tap deeper into your assessed essence and figure out what's going on with you and how you can remove these like blockages.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:13:31] So on any given day, to answer your question as to what kind of how you're feeling as you're going through it, there's a lot that you're feeling. There's a lot that comes up. There are days that you wake up feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, more hopeful. And then there are days that you wake up feeling quite literally like crap, like you wake up just not feeling great. There's a heaviness. There's a stagnation. There might be disappointment. There's all kinds of stuff that sort of moves you. And there are days that, you know, you wake up in. The very first time I did it, there were days that I woke up thinking, I don't want to do this anymore. Like, I don't want to continue on this because this is hard work while you're getting pampered with the treatments. And it's nice to like, you know, talk to your practitioner every day. There is a level of difficulty that comes with doing a Panchakarma. And I always tell my clients it's not for the faint of heart. You have to kind of be ready to know what you're getting yourself into. The pampering and the treatments are great, but the only way to truly heal yourself from within is to face your own darkness and to face your own demons within and to face that is not an easy task.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:14:45] So you have to sort of be ready to push through the days that are not as easy, because once you do, the reward is waiting for you. And that's sort of what I learned by doing my Panchakarmas every year. And I realize that every time that I do it, it gets a little bit easier. So the very first time was the most challenging for me was to you know, it's a test every day that I woke up with a test to my strength, my stamina. It's like sort of my emotional strengths to be like, hey, I'm gonna wake up and do this all over again. But, you know, the end goal and the results show me that it was all worth it. So you do. You do. You go through a number of emotions and not any two days look the same as you're going through this process.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:15:36] It is interesting how Panchakarma is this beautiful guided, call to action to tap in deeper and only you can do the work. Yes, The Oleation therapies can prepare the body to get rid of all the Auma or the toxins through the massages and the amazing Abhyangas but you're right in that the body of the work remains with the individual to release them into the universe, to release all the emotional and the physical toxins that one doesn't need. I can imagine that can be an intense but very very profound introduction to Ayurveda. Indeed, Tell me a little bit about from that point on how you formally educated yourself in Ayurveda.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:16:33] Yeah. So when I was in Kerala, I did a three months sort of intensive diploma course in Ayurveda. That was my first introduction into Ayurveda and I took classes where Ayurvedic beauty care for pregnancy care, pregnancy care massage. I did sort of as many courses as I could possibly do.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:16:54] And the classes were intense and there were long because there's a lot of material to cover. And in, you know, in just three months of time, that's not enough to sort of dive into this vast ocean of knowledge. So I did that while I was there, along with some yoga therapy courses.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:17:12] And then while once I was finished with that course, I realized that I had just sort of started my education in Ayurveda that I was by no means ready or willing to go on practice it that I really wanted to dive deeper. So I started searching for schools in the states that offered sort of higher education in Ayurvedic medicine.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:17:37] And I stumbled upon one in Southern California, AUCM or American University of Complementary Medicine, and they offered a doctor and the Phd program in Ayurvedic medicine. And that immediately caught my attention because there are many other practitioner courses, masters courses out there. But I just deep down knew that I wanted to do the longest program that offered me the most number of hours and specialty clinical hours.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:18:05] So I moved down to Los Angeles and I studied I ever got there. And the best part of that whole program for me was the clinical hours that I had to do because I spent a thousand hours in the Ayurvedic clinic we had at the school practicing with my teacher back then, Dr. Joggle, Paul Parla, known as Dr. J. And I learned sort of everything that I needed to by being with the patients, with the clients on a regular basis, by learning the treatments, because there's only so much that you can learn on a theoretical level. You can be self study and learn, but then actually doing things with your hands, doing Ayurvedic treatments with your hands, making the herbs, making the formulations. There's just something so beautiful about doing that. So that was definitely my favorite part of the whole program. So I obtained my doctorate degree in Ayurvedic medicine.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:19:05] And how would you say, Zoreh, your practice has evolved over the years. What are some of the things that you've held on to and what are some of the things that you may have adjusted based on all the wonderful experience you've had with seeing patients after so many years?
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:19:25] Yeah, there's been quite a bit of adjustment for sure. I, I like to practice what I call sort of the authentic form of Ayurveda. But as we know, it's a little bit more difficult.We don't have as much access to all the beautiful herbal formulations that, you know, the Ayurvedic practitioners in India have access too. So some of that had to be modified. We use a lot of sort of single herbs and powdered herbs.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:19:57] Now, in the States and I've sort of started adopting those as well, some of the physical treatments that we're not able to by law legally, We're not allowed to practice at the clinic. I've sort of modified dose. I teach my clients how to do them for themselves at home.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:20:15] So that's part of it. And another sort of big thing that I have to dive deeper into, I noticed that there's a need for is the whole emotional aspect of healing in Ayurveda and the mental health aspect of Ayurveda because a lot of people come to us thinking, you know. They're gonna heal their physical bodies or that Ayurveda is really just about the physical body. But what I'm realizing as I see more clients is that the emotional body is pretty much where it's at, that most of these ailments and problems are psychosomatic. So I'm now spending a lot of time doing coaching with my clients. So my sort of initial consultations went from talking a lot about their physical bodies, educating them on their Doshas and their physical manifestations within their body to now really focusing on the mental and emotional aspect of it. And how are these Doshas or these energetic qualities, you know, presenting themselves or manifesting themselves on an emotional level. And, you know, Hardy being characterized in their bodies based on, you know, what's what's showing up. So that's become a big, big focus in my practice. And that's actually something that I'm so deeply passionate about, sort of educating people on this connection that exists within the physical body and the mental body. So I talk to my clients in depth about, you know, the herbs that I'm recommending for them and how these herbs will sort of affect their mental body and their spiritual body, as well as just the physical body that I'm not just helping them heal the symptoms, or their physical, you know, their physiology, but also helping them heal their mind as well. So that's sort of like the the biggest shift that I would say that has happened in my practice.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:22:07] And it is fascinating to observe that because many aspects of your Ayurveda can feel cultural, especially when you're starting out because.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:22:18] Yes, the system of medicine did originate in India and for many of us that were born and raised in India. It's part and parcel of life in some ways, how you cook, how much you refrigerate or lack there of access to even things like fresh cows milk that can sometimes be taken a little bit for granted up until you move, as I did, to a different country and then start working backwards into integrating some of those practices in their rich, authentic way. But I think you touched on something that is very powerful. It is, again, an invitation to dig in deeper, to see what your intuition is telling you about your body, rather than relying on what is necessarily available or what your environment is able to do for you, and then practicing the art of moderation in practicing Ayurveda, because then you start to quickly find that relief is there to be found while making the adjustments that you might need for your surroundings. So I agree, that does exist for every one, in every sense of that. It may just differ in its rendition from culture to culture and geography to geography, but the beauty is that with a few tweaks and sensibilities, you can make it your own and still thrive with it. And that's a that's beautifully put by you in how the journey has evolved. I'd love to go back to the question of mental health and get into a few more specifics better before that of a question that I think a lot of people ask, specially as they get into the understanding of Ayurveda. And that is in many ways pivotal to understanding your true self. Once Dosha tell me what Dosha you are and how you truly discovered it.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:24:26] So I predominantly a Pitta dosha, which is the fire principle, and I have both water and Kapha in balance, so pretty much equal quantities of water and Kapha within myself. It wasn't until I moved to India and did my studies in Ayurveda, and did that first Panchakarma that I truly realize what it meant to have sort of one energetic quality within you more than the other.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:25:01] For me, I realized that once I sort of discover that I'm predominantly dosha because my predominant dosha is Pitta, it was very life changing for me because one of the first things that my Ayurvedic practitioner in India told me all those years ago was that we need to cool you down. We need to cool you off. So what they did for the first two weeks everyday straight, they did
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:25:27] Shirodhara for me. But using buttermilk, they they pretty much poured milk on my forehead for two weeks straight, and when I was telling my friends back home about this, it was fascinating for them because they're like how was milk poured on your forehead. It's going to be like, what does that even mean? What does that even mean to do? The benefits were immense. Because I.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:25:51] I felt the difference immediately. So I realized within myself that most of my life I was running on a lot of heat.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:25:59] That I've always I you know, historically speaking, I used to be a very intense person. There was a lot of perfectionism within me. I wanted to always be in charge. I always wanted to be in control of my life, of every moment of my life and the people around me to the point that it led to self-destruction within myself. Some of that behavior of perfectionism needing to be in charge, thinking that I know the best for me and for everybody around me. And as a result, getting disappointed, disappointed when things didn't go my way. I would often be easily irritated. Like patience. And that was sort of the running theme in my life. And there was a lot of anger associated with that. So once I realized that this fire exists within me, there is no way to deny that there's no way to avoid that. But then what if I learned to tune in to the positive qualities of the fire? What if I learned to contain the fire and turn it into this beautiful light that exists within all of us? And the positive attributes that come from having fire within you is having is having courage, is being brave, is being compassionate, motivated, is having sort of the good intensity within you that gets the world going, that gets you out of bed every day. And Ayurveda taught me how to do exactly that is to sort of take the anger that I have within me, like and do something good with it.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:27:33] I stop judging myself. I stop criticizing myself because I used to do that, I used to beat myself up for years and years. If one thing wasn't done right or my deficient definition of right, then I would completely just lose my temper. And then I realize, OK, what if I instead of losing my temper, what if I saw this anger that's rising within me? Something good. What if I took this anger and turned it into complete heat on passion and compassion towards myself, to heal myself and to help heal the world around me. So really understanding my sort of constitution, my Dosha, but also not over identifying with it. So I don't get too attached with it and recognizing that I still have the other energetic qualities within me as well, that on any given day I could wake up and be a Pitta-Kapha or be a Pita-Vata. And what does that mean and how is that manifesting on that given day. So that really helped me to study myself deeper and get to know myself and realize how to balance myself, you know, and that means the lifestyle that I'm leading, the foods that I'm eating. And a small example of that is I completely cut, you know, spicy food or anything that's like pungent or too acidic out of my diet many years ago.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:28:56] And I find myself benefiting from that. And that's really, truly what I everyday is.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:29:02] It's a lifestyle change. It's a diet change is not just herbal medicine. So now I have that knowledge to know what to do. And I know I know myself to be a very sensitive human being. So now I sort of know how to harness those emotions, how to contain those emotions as they come up. And instead of sort of judging myself for having too much fire within me. I've started appreciating the fire within me.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:29:28] I've started sort of worshiping and praising the fire within me and learning how to master my emotions is what sort of got me closer to accepting myself exactly as I am. And that with that acceptance comes the essence of surrender.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:29:44] You surrender to who you are, you surrender to your body constitution, to your prakriti and to the world around you. And that sort of leads to.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:29:54] Reaching content and bliss within oneself.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:29:57] Speaking of bliss, I'd love to tap in to some of the amazing work that you've done around understanding emotional health within Ayurveda, because I know that's a big part of your practice and how one can find answers. You mentioned in your videos that you were diagnosed with severe depression at the time you sought out Ayurveda. Can you share a few things that some of us can do to start to manage that within ourselves as we seek out professional help, either with a therapist or an Ayurvedic practitioner to help manage those feelings a little bit better?
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:30:42] The way I look at it and the way sort of Ayurveda looks at it. Depression is nothing but the loss of connection to your sense, to your essence or to a higher self. So when you lose that connection to your true self, to your higher self, that's when sort of depression happens. And for a person who's sensitive, who by nature is has more connection to their heart and soul, the loss of this connection is quite tragic. And this is what we don't realize. And once this connection is lost and instead of it, this sort of fatigue and lethargy and heaviness gets settled within the mind and within the body. It leads into anxiety. So depression, anxiety very much go hand in hand because the mind feels like it's lost control and once the loss of control is there leads to an anxious mind. So it's pretty much the groundedness. The calmness of the mind is lost. And, you know, you feel exhausted, you feel depressed, you feel heavy. And that journey to healing yourself and pretty much combating anxiety and depression is and a painful one. It's actually a beautiful journey of self discovery is a beautiful journey of going deep within to finding your truth and finding your true nature. Because the way we sort of describe this in Ayurveda is when the mind, the mind always wants to be in control. The mind always wants a narrative or a story.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:32:19] So the mind starts distracting us by bringing up these powerful emotions of anger, shame, guilt, jealousy. And the mind starts seducing us by drawing attention to the outside world, to the war world outside of ourselves, by distracting us with money, fame, sex, food, success, achievement. And when all of that fails, then the mind latches onto fear. It starts relying on fear. And this fear becomes something that we rely on and live our lives based on. And that's when sort of the whole disconnect happen. And then in Ayurveda the seat of the mind is in the heart. So while the neurological functions of the mind is done in the brain is done through the brain, the emotional sort of functions of the mind are done through the heart. So to sort of heal yourself from depression to sort of get to your own essence is nothing but strengthening that connection and bringing that balance and synchronicity between your mind, your emotions and your body. So bringing this balance and harmony and what truly helps here is doing some of these spiritual practices. So what I find that help me with severe depression was not only therapy, of course, like doing sort of traditional talk therapy, as well as holistic coaching, but also doing meditation, doing pranayama the breathing practices, doing some of the yoga postures. All of that helped me, as well as diet and lifestyle.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:33:53] So eating a healthy diet, because the imbalance of the doshas don't only show themselves physically in the body, but each dosha has a different emotional and mental characteristic within our body. So understanding doshas, how they play a role in our mental health is another thing that being helped. So if there's anxiety on the mind, for example, anxiety is nothing but fast-moving, lightness, rigidity. It all comes from the Vata dosha so that tells us that the Vata dosha increase in the mind. How do we bring that back into balance, by eating a Vata pacifying diet. So there is a lot of factors and this is why Ayurveda is so great in helping with mental ailments like depression and anxiety, because we sort of educate people on how to heal themselves through doing some of these deeper spiritual practices, but also eating a diet that's going to help them sort of combat anxiety and depression by leading a lifestyle that's going to help them find balance within themselves again. And a small example of that is sort of living in accordance with each season. So, you know, every season eating the fruits and vegetables that are available to you because fresh vegetables and fruits on what comes from that season has a lot of Crono or Life force. And that's what you need to help heal yourself from depression is to sort of bring your Prana, pranic sort of energy into balance within your body. And by eating seasonal fruits and vegetables, you'll be able to do that because eating a Sattvic diet or like a pure and fresh diet will help you with that. So there's a lot of sort of elements and components that go into it. I'm doing the deep. Work of removing the amount accumulated toxins on a physical level, but also on the emotional level is what helps bring you back into balance and what will eventually help you overcome depression and anxiety in the mind.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:35:56] What are some of the foods you'd recommend to someone that is struggling with anxiety?
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:36:05] So if this is also another thing. So in Ayurveda, since it's very individualized, it's very personalized based on each person's sort of Prakriti or Dosha. Some of the things that I might recommend to a person who is predominantly, for example, a Pitta constitution versus a Vata constitution would be different. But in general, if were speaking of anxiety, I would say for anxiety, we want to bring down the Vata dosha.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:36:33] So we want to do foods that are warm, nourishing, grounding, sort of easy to digest, mainly cooked to help bring that back good oils in the diet. Good oils really help with the nervous system. So we're trying to bring the nervous system back into balance. So good fats play a big role in that, you know, good omega 3's of Avocados, coconut oil, sesame oil, flax seed bringing seeds and nuts. Again, this will vary depending on your body type. Like, for example, a Kapha person struggling with anxiety who happens to maybe also be overweight. I wouldn't recommend as much not some seeds, for example, versus a Vata person who happens to struggle with anxiety. But in general, remembering to eat seasonally in accordance to your body type, in accordance to your dosha. So eating foods that come from nature and come from the earth. Because with anxiety, we need more earth element. We need more Kapha. So root vegetables would be amazing. Eating food that's more cooked would be really great because raw food has very similar characteristics to this Vata dosha or anxiety, raw food tends to be cold, dry, rough. So it's a little bit harder to digest within the system. So eating things that are cooked. Eating whole grains. Having oatmeal. Any form like, you know, rice, brown, rice, kernel that are like cooked with warming spices, nourishing spices, all of that. We really help to ground and calm the mind.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:38:08] Any lifestyle practices that you might recommend to someone struggling with anxiety often that also translates to a racing mind in the evenings and sleeping poorly because that also sometimes drives out of an imbalance in the Vata dosha. What might you recommend?
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:38:29] Yes. So one of the best things to do for anxiety is to put yourself and your body on a routine because anxiety and being anxious is nothing. But fearing the unknown is worrying about the future, is worrying about what's to come. So when you have a routine, so when your body when your mind knows exactly what's coming next, then it reduces some of that anxious feeling. By that, I mean trying to wake up and eat more or less around the same time daily. That will be a big, big help. So putting yourself on a regimen where, you know, when your breakfast, lunch and dinner is going to be more or less around the same time when you know, when you're going to wake up or when you're going to go to bed. You know, on any given day waking up and starting your day by drinking a cup of hot water, depending on your, you know, your dosha, if you're more Kapha, I would recommend adding some lemon in there. If you're more about Pitta then I would recommend adding fresh basil or mint leaves in your hot water and not grabbing your phone the moment you wake up is another big thing. So waking up, washing your face, drinking a cup of hot water and, you know, just doing a meditation practice. And this could be ten minutes. It could be 30 minutes.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:39:47] This could be an hour. So this all depends on sort of the amount of time that you have and how new you are to the whole meditation practice. So just kind of sitting with yourself, setting an intention for yourself. Just for that day, it does not need to be an intention that you're setting for your week for the rest of your life just for that day. Telling yourself that I'm going to wake up today and this is what I'm hoping to accomplish or not. No, it could simply be I'm going to wake up today and just live and just see what the day brings me. So just kind of giving yourself that assurance that, you know, you're in charge of your health, of your day. And there's nothing out there that sort of can dictate that if anything happens out of the ordinary, then you'll deal with it as it comes. So living in the moment, accepting the moment and living every moment with awareness is another thing that really helps with anxiety. And another. Really useful thing is oil massage. So doing your own self Abhyanga at home on an everyday basis. Or at least three times a week. Whenever you have the time. That could be really beneficial. So just warming some coconut oil or some sesame oil and giving yourself 10 minutes to sit with yourself quietly.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:41:02] I like to light a candle for myself, burning incense and dim the lights and just sit and, you know, make this self Abhyanga and meditation ritual for myself. And that's very beneficial. I recommend doing it more in the evening time. You know, an hour or so after you've had your dinner, they do the oil massage and get yourself and your body ready for sleep. And instead of grabbing your phone before you go to bed, maybe you grab a book, maybe you read a poem, maybe you read a little you know, you write a little bit in your journal. Just do some practices that are going to help you. Keep your mind on your nervous system more grounded. I'm going to get early is another really good practice. So in Ayurveda, we recommend Bed Time to be by 10:00 p.m. the latest, because between the hours of 10 to two is when you're able to get the deepest sleep. That's when your whole digestive system is resetting. Your tissues are rebuilt. Building your cells are sort of regenerating. So if you are able to be in bed between 10 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. and really, that's it. That's a deep sleep. If you're able to get to bed by 10 p.m., then that's highly recommended. That also helps to keep your mind sort of calm and grounded.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:42:20] My personal experience around the 10 p.m. window has very clearly been around us noticing a rise of Pitta in within myself. I tend to be a bit the dominant type, and it definitely is true in that if I get myself in a restive state by 10 and sort of start to channel the energy towards regeneration of the body, I definitely find myself falling off to sleep better then rather than when I channel into it a little bit and start to fuel the Pitta energy and then try to get to bed by midnight.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:43:00] It's definitely a little bit more in full force than going until the 2-am time frame when Pitta actually transitions into the Vata energy.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:43:13] But yeah, the timeliness has definitely been an age to many, many that, that struggle with a predominant Vata dosha and getting that structure is a tremendously helpful switching tacks a little bit. I know that pregnancy care and Ayurveda for children is a specialty area for your clinic. Roha in San Francisco. And I know many of us would be interested in learning a little bit more around that. Well, of course, physicians advice must be closely followed at all times, given that every pregnancy is unique. But what are some of the Ayurvedic lifestyle choices and tips you share with people to follow in during these times that can make pregnancies even healthier, even more joyful?
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:44:06] Yes. Pregnancy care in Ayurveda is a big topic. And it's fascinating and definitely one of the areas that I'm very interested in and passionate about, in Ayurveda, we view, pregnancy as being a very spiritual and special time in a woman's life. And during this time, the female intuition is particularly very, very strong. And you hear of the pregnancy glow. I mean, Ayurveda we sort of explained that this particular see, there's this like three luminous, vibrant, golden aura about a pregnant woman. And that's what we sort of look at as a pregnancy glow. But it's also the inner intuition of the woman that's so much stronger. So it's shining very, very brightly. And this is a time to bond with the child within. So this is sort of what I coach my pregnant clients on, is to do a lot of self care during pregnancy, because whatever you're eating, whatever you're sensing, feeling, experiencing, touching, your child is experiencing all of that with you. So there is no time like pregnancy to take care of yourself.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:45:18] One of the many, many things, you know, we talk about during pregnancy is that the Vata dosha is bound to increase immediately the moment you get pregnant. So our goal is to keep Vata in balance for the nine months of pregnancy, and that means a Vata dosha dominates the nervous system. So we're trying to bring about sort of like the groundedness to the entire nervous system.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:45:41] One of the biggest, biggest things we recommend is Oleation. A Sneha, the water sneha in Sanskrit, which means oil. It also means love. And that pretty much explains everything. So Oleation internally and externally, to make sure that the woman is gaining enough weight, but also to make sure that the baby's brain is developing properly. So incorporating good oils, good fats in your diet. They eat daily like organic whole milk.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:46:09] If there's no sort of lactose intolerance, coconut oil, olive oil, not some seeds are fantastic, like avocados. Again, cooking with geeky is really essential during pregnancy. So we highly recommend that. And then these are just for like internal and for pregnancy. I put my clients on couple of safe pregnancy formulations, Ayurvedic formulations to make sure that I'm strengthening their uterus to make sure they're able to sort of keep the fetus within the body. And all of Ayurvedic herbs are fat soluble, which means the nutrients will sort of effectively be delivered to the cells and tissues if if it's accompanied by healthy fat. So that's another reason to sort of do good fats. And then that's for internal. And then externally, I recommend my pregnant clients to always do oil Abhyanga, oil massages for themselves at home. Because this oil massage not only is nourishing the body and the mind, it's relaxing the body. It helps. Sort of, you know, there's a lot of sort of fear around stretchmarks and all of that like skin sort of losing its elasticity. There's a pregnant belly itching.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:47:20] So, Oleation externally will help with all of that. And it brings about like a stability and warmth and it helps sort of evaporate. Stress, fatigue, tiredness within the system. So those are like some of the main things. And of course, one of the other important things I always emphasize is eating a fresh and pure Sattvic diet while you're pregnant. So that becomes really, really important as well. So enjoying fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, organic dairy, all the foods that pack a lot of cosmic lifeforce Prana and life essence within them and that helps build vitality or immune system or what we call "ojas" within the system, both for the pregnant woman and for the baby. So these are sort of some of the things that I recommend that Ayurveda recommends during pregnancy. And the most important thing is to just be mindful and stay connected to your body, to the baby, to sort of all the emotions and sensations that are coming up and do as much self care and self-love as possible throughout the whole nine months.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:48:31] It goes without saying that things like Oleation and self Abhyanga should be consulted by via your physician in case there might be specific things within your physiology that might need addressing. But this sounds like an amazing blueprint to thrive during a pregnancy, one that integrates self-love and also almost good habit formations and and love for the body even within the child. While it is inside you. But speaking of children, how do you get children started on Ayurveda?
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:49:12] Yes. So children's is is a very interesting area because the way I sort of look at it is I educate the parents. So I teach the parents what it means to live an Ayurvedic lifestyle. Because I look at Ayurveda as a lifestyle medicine, it's not just an herbal medicine. So I teach the parents on the basics of Ayurveda, what we focus on in Ayurveda, which is a well-balanced diet, is getting proper, adequate sleep. It's life's making lifestyle choices like clean personal hygiene, having enough of indoor outdoor activity and exercise for kids. All of these are pretty much what we recommend for adults, but then for kids as well, because these are essential for especially indoor outdoor activities is one thing I talk to parents about because it's essential in kids' brain function and learning ability. So I recommend that they maybe take in some yoga postures and do it as a family activity indoors and then take their kids outside. And I recommend they do it on an everyday basis to get some fresh air, to get some fresh Prana for the kids outside. Then it will balance clean diet. It's a little bit harder to get kids to take a lot of the herbs and formulas, so I often try to help what's going on by mainly doing diet and life style unless they come to me with something that's been, you know, really chronic or does like an acute case of cold or flu or like seasonal allergies or mucus.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:50:48] Then I'm able to give small doses of some of Ayurvedic herbs and mix with honey when there's a little bit of sweetness. It's easier for children to take it on this. There's some cases that need the herbs eye more often, sort of lean towards diet and lifestyle. I'm teaching your kids how to have proper personal hygiene because that's very important for metabolic activities within the system. And just sort of teaching them how to eat properly, making sure that the kids are eating their meals, making sure that they're getting enough sleep throughout the day. All of the pretty much the basic principles of Ayurveda that apply to anybody in adults. You know, apply to children as well, maybe on a more modified basis, because sometimes it's harder to get kids to eat anything and everything. So if they bring their kids in, I usually talk to them about what they like to eat. And I try to sort of design a diet that fits, you know, their liking or their taste, because I don't believe in forcing kids to eat things, because if you're not truly enjoying the food you're eating, you're not going to benefit from it.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:51:55] So if they like pizza, our past store and French fries, then, you know, I help sort of design Ayurvedic recipes of those foods, but using wholegrain using whole wheat instead of white flour and things like that. And it becomes, you know, somewhat fun. It's just about getting kids excited about and it's about speaking their language and getting them excited about the things that they're eating, the things that they're doing, and treating them like adults, like they're individuals that understand and they have a choice in what they're eating. So that also helps me connect to kids.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:52:34] And one of the things I have found is that. Has a lot of credence with parents when it comes to young children is how meaningful Ayurveda can serve in way of a coping mechanism as one grows older in that a lot of us end up resorting to some self-destructive habits in times of extreme stress. And how meaningful Ayurveda can be as a replacement to those habits in means of coping with scenarios that may be causing us stress, even if it is the practice of self-Abhyanga or breathing meditation that becomes your go to because you've started at a young age with practices such as Yoga or or caring for yourself in times of stress that provide this beautiful blueprint of of coping with stress, as we all will through the course of our life, and starting out young and understanding some of these things and being able to turn inward to find the strength we need can be very, very beautiful as we go through life. And Ayurveda in particular, shines in its ability to do that. And I definitely find that some of the things I learned early on through my practice of Ayurveda and Yoga have really served me well through the course of my life. Oh, sorry. This has been very, very informative and so wonderful. Before I let you go, I want to ask, is there anything else you'd like to share with our audience about Ayurveda, about integrating it into the hustle and bustle of modern life into starting out with it? Anything that you feel like we may have not covered during the course of this conversation?
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:54:34] Yeah. The one thing that I would like to say first and foremost is that I truly believe Ayurveda is for everyone and anybody can benefit from Ayurveda. So that's, that's key to know. And another thing is that there is no one way to really do Ayurveda. There is no way to do it perfectly. So do as much as you can based on your schedule.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:54:59] And this is sort of another thing I talk to my clients in depth about. If you wake up and, you know, wake up and sleep more or less around the same time daily and eat your meals around the same time daily. That is Ayurveda. You're already practicing Ayurveda. If you wake up in the morning, brush your teeth, scrape your tongue and drink a cup of hot water, you've already done Ayurveda. So the whole it could be overwhelming to sync up the whole day in a Cheerios or a daily regimen, the seasonal regimen, and wanting to incorporate all of it. And it brings about more sort of anxiety and it makes you more overwhelmed. That's not the goal of,Ayurveda, the goal of Ayurveda is to teach you the basic tools you need to know in order to heal yourself and your body. It's a system of self healing. And my Ayurveda might look different than yours and the person next to me. So everybody's sort of version of it is different. You know, I do some of the practices that I know are more beneficial for me. And the only way to kind of find that out is to give it a chance to give it a try to see, you know, what works and talk to your practitioner about your level of comfort, with taking the herbs, with falling some of the dietary stuff. And there if there are things that are you absolutely cannot fit in your to your day, then talk to your practitioner about that, because we are able to modify some of the practices and help, you know, fit them into the lifestyle and daily schedules of our clients. So, yeah, given a chance. I mean, Ayurveda quite literally has saved my life and so many people that I know around me and I have so much respect and love for this science.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:56:46] Wonderful guidance and absolutely wonderful chatting with you, Zohreh.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:56:51] Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate all that you've said today and all that you do for Ayurveda and your patients every day. So thank you for being with us. And I'm sure we'll talk soon.
Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi: [00:57:07] Thank you so much. It was my pleasure speaking with you.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:57:33] 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.