Denver Healer of the Month: Leita Ayurveda

Every month in our Discord community we highlight a different Denver Healer. In a written interview style we chat about who they are, what they do, and how their healing modality can help offer new forms of evolution for our community. For the month of January, we talked with Laurie Riley of Leita Ayurveda. In this discussion she broke down Ayurveda and the ways we can use this to find our own healing as well as provided us a ton of resources to support our own education. Here’s that conversation.

Interview with Laurie Riley of Leita Ayurveda

‘Ohana: To start things off, we’d love to introduce Laurie to you with a short intro video.

Laurie: So happy to be here with you all! So Ayurveda! In Sanskrit, Ayur = Life / Veda = system of or science of – so Ayurveda is the Science of Life. Translation: Ayurveda is a medical science and its purpose is to heal and maintain the quality and longevity of life AND it is a living science, incorporating modern developments and techniques along with ancient wisdom. Ayurveda is often referred to as yoga’s sister science. Ancient texts detail the goal of both is to eradicate pain and misery – of the mind, body, soul. Stay tuned, and journey with me as we peel back the layers of individualized healing.

‘Ohana: The Science of Life. I love that. One of the reasons I’m so obsessed with Ayurveda is that it isn’t a once size fits all approach to health and living. It has tools for all different forms of self care that apply to your personal make-up and therefore I find it to be so accurate in helping us heal. How did you get into Ayurveda?

Laurie: I found Ayurveda (or rather it found me) after I became an anomaly to the allopathic health care system. Don’t get me wrong, I have immense gratitude that we live in a time and place to receive life-saving health care, but it wasn’t the answer for me at that time of my life. I was the healthiest, yet sickest person I knew. And I had this hunch (what I would later learn was my intuition), telling me there was more to my un-wellness than the physical. In came Shakti School, a feminine-form Ayurveda school that introduced the “idea that it’s possible to experience abundant health, passion, and vitality at any age, and eliminate the divide between spiritual and worldly fulfillment.” It wasn’t long after enrolling in the course and embodying Ayurveda as a lifestyle that I knew I wished for every person to have access to and come home to this wisdom.

Let’s get into it. Who knows their dosha? Check out Sarah Rose’s fun quiz here. I will caveat that these quizzes can be just the surface of the iceberg, and may lean more toward how you’re feeling in the moment (in this time and place), vs your innate nature – depending on how you answer.

‘Ohana: What if someone doesn’t fall into any of these?

Laurie: The doshas are made up of all five elements, and we need each dosha to exist. For example, Vata is composed of air and ether. Ayurveda holds that ether is the presence of spiritual energy, the basic principle of air (or vayu) is prana (the flow of consciousness from one cell to another), and functionally we need this motion to pee, or birth a baby (apana vayu). And when this dosha is out of balance we might see that expressed as fear, anxiety, and abnormal movement. To bring back into balance, we look to its opposite – the opposite of the air is the earth. So grounding practices, warmth, less external input, and my favorite ‘quick fix’ is wearing a knitted hat on my head.

‘Ohana: Can you give more of a breakdown of what each dosha is and some of the characteristics associated with each one?

Laurie: Here is a simple snapshot of each dosha:

VATA DOSHA | that which moves things
Elements: air and ether.
Qualities: lightness, movement, change, roughness, quickness and dryness.
Physiological: Force behind the nervous system, respiration and elimination.
Imbalanced Vata: You may have experienced imbalanced vata energy if you have had dry skin, constipation, premature wrinkles, anxiety, fear or a general feeling of being spaced out.
Balanced Vata: Enthusiasm for life. Excellent healers, inspired writers and artists, and enthusiastic speakers

PITTA DOSHA | that which digests things
Elements: fire and a little water.
Qualities: sharpness, oiliness, lightness and instability.
Physiological: digestion and metabolism
Imbalanced Pitta: fever, loose stools, skin rash or acne, or the heated emotions of anger and frustration. We become overly critical and compulsive.
Balanced Pitta: On the plane of the mind and spirit, pitta carries the gift of discernment that can cut through the smokescreen, allowing you to see a situation clearly.

KAPHA DOSHA | that which holds things together
Elements: earth and water
Qualities: stability, heaviness, wetness and coolness
Physiological: force behind the lymphatic system and the mucus membranes
Imbalanced Kapha:. Hard time losing excess weight, and can gain easily. Quality of holding on can turn into gripping or a codependent attachment.
Balanced Kapha: Luscious, well-lubricated, sturdy and dependable1

Give a listen to one of my teachers speak about Ayurveda in beautiful, accessible depth.

‘Ohana: I’ve been reading this book on Ayurveda over the last week and the thing that I love SO much about this science is the intentional practices to tune into our bodies. For example, in the daily routine its suggested to notice if you have bad breath in the morning or can taste last night’s dinner. This is a sign of not having fully digested your food. But the act of noticing has so much power. One of the things I struggle with in the “American Health Culture” is the question “How do you feel in your body” never comes up. It’s about how you look, but not how you feel. Most people can’t even answer this question. Ayurveda gives you great tools to be able to ask this question in more specific ways so you can start to notice what’s going on in your body. I just love it.

Laurie, we’re getting to the end of the month and have loved making Ayurveda the focus these last few weeks. Are there any final resources you’d like to leave us with?

Laurie: What a great book suggestion, it’s definitely a go-to of mine.

To answer your question, Ayurveda is all about looking to nature and the cycles all around us to inform us about our own internal landscape (as above so below, as within so without…). So late fall and early winter months are governed by the Vata dosha. When you observe nature during this time, you can see that the leaves have dried, there is coolness/ cold, and more wind in the atmosphere. Because there is more Vata in the environment, it can be understood that you will also be affected by the predominance of air and ether, and the qualities that come with them. So we all look to balance Vata dosha.

To balance Vata, we want to bring in the opposite qualities: warm, heavy, moist, stable, and regulated. Think of these qualities as you’re planning your meals, self-care, workouts, as well as your daily routine.

Signs Vata is imbalanced
Dry, cracking skin and joints
Dry nails and hair
Gas and bloating
Low back pain, nerve pain, twitching
Fatigue, exhaustion, depletion

Mental & Emotional
Insomnia, restlessness
Inability to focus, scattered
Talking fast, losing train of thought
Fear, anxiety, nervousness
Feeling ungrounded
Loneliness, isolation

How Vata becomes imbalanced
Eating excessively dry, light, cold, rough, mobile foods (raw food, crackers, rice cakes, caffeine, cooling foods like coconut, watermelon)

Cold climates & winter months
Excessive travel
Excess movement and talking
Overstimulation of the senses
Excessive, fast, intense

Balancing Vata
Favor sweet, sour, and salty flavors
Eat in a peaceful environment
Mindful eating, silent dining
Avoid caffeine and dry, raw, cooling and cold foods
For meals, let at least 85% be warm, cooked, grounding, oily, and nourishing foods that are easy to digest

Slow down
Walks in nature
Reduce sensory stimulation (lower lights, volume, screen time)
Quiet before bedtime
Find routine and rhythm in your life with waking, eating and sleeping times

Self-care & Exercise
Belly breathing: long exhale/sighs
Alternate nostril breathing
Abhyanga: massage your body with sesame oil in the morning: 20 minutes before you shower
Take baths
For exercise: hatha yoga, swimming, tai chi or walking

‘Ohana: If anyone is interested in diving deeper into ayurveda and wants to work with you, can you share a little more about what your process looks like and how they can get in touch? Do you have a specific focus within ayurveda?

Laurie: I am deeply passionate about supporting individuals from conscious conception through the infinite postpartum. I am a birthworker as well to offer my clients continuity of care through this journey into parenthood. I also support clients of all genders and ages.

What it’s like to receive Ayurveda Health Counseling: A truly holistic and personalized approach to your whole-body wellness. It’s both supportive in helping unwind the current state of imbalances (symptoms) as well as providing practical tools and rituals for identifying and maintaining your state of balance and building resilience in all levels of your being, including energy, immunity, sleep, digestion, creation.  You’ll fill out a detailed form – helping to give me a glimpse into the story of YOU. We will use it to guide our conversation in our Intake Session, and through it I gain a deeper understanding of what support means for you! I’ll then create for us a  living ‘Summary + Plan’ document – you can think of this as our co-created journey map We’ll begin each session with this document to Ensure our goals are still accurate, check-in on symptoms, consider recommendations given, adapt/adjust/reassess. There is value in a regular cadence, but I honor your availability and ability to take on supportive adjustments. 

To learn more about Laurie and her Ayurvedic offerings check out her website and book your first session with her.

Find more Denver Healer’s here or join us on Discord to be a part of the live discussion and get your questions answered.

Katie Leigh Jackson Denver Artist and Illustrator

Katie Jackson is an Ohana YTT Graduate and Artist in the Denver Area. She creates artwork and wallpaper that showcases the magic in the ordinary and helps others live a simpler more peaceful life. Get tips + resources to create a calmer life and home with her free slow living library