SO bummed when the Kanyakumari Ayurveda and Yoga Wellness Center closed October 2016 that was host to a fabulous year-long Panchakarma program wherein practitioners could learn the intricacies of lepas, chakra bastis and preparation of Ayurvedic medicinal oils.

A good portion of an Ayurvedic practice is rooted in vegetables, grains, and herbs. Even the curing of medicinal oil in a deep cast iron wok after infusion of herbs is a thoughtful process as the oil slowly rises to boiling point while a worn wooden spoon moves continuously through the mixture for what seems like hours. Resolve in learning this art was thoroughly tested in the heavy hot and damp northern Wisconsin summer!

Abhyanga is a oleation massage especially soothing for nerve disorders. Traditionally, Abhyanga is offered as a four-hand massage with the client laying on an unadorned wooden table with a loin cloth.

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In March, 2014, my daughter Maria and I trekked out of six foot snow banks to pursue continuing education requirements where there was sun.  Acclimating to the desert floor of Arizona for this brief hiatus after six continuous months of winter in Wisconsin required renewed focus on hydration. The Tarahumara Indians of the Copper Canyons in Mexico use chia seeds mixed in liquid to remain hydrated while the locals in Arizona use whole leaf aloe vera juice for electrolyte replacement.  We always had an interesting concoction to drink every morning as we focused on being outside as much as possible after being held hostage by winter.

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A Buddha statue in Changmai

Changmai is a city where one walks a lot or becomes adept quickly with a motorbike.  It appeared as if motorbike operators required hair-trigger reflexes as they would weave through traffic that didn't seem to have rules other than to drive fast. 

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Throughout the forum Practical Dermatology in Chinese Medicine-A Clinical Perspective taught by Dr. Mazin Al-Khafaji November 2014, a prerequisite to the Dermatology Diploma Course offered by Avicenna Seminars, decoctions presented in case studies most always included Sheng Di Huang/Rehmanniae Radix as the leading ingredient followed by Mu Dan Pi/Moutan Cortex. Acupuncturists arrived with different levels of understanding of Chinese herbology prompting Dr. Al-Khafaji to say, "I expect there to be a baseline understanding of Chinese herbs in this class." A ruffling of papers could be heard throughout room.

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Starting November 2016, Dr. Mazin Al-Khafaji will be traveling state-side to commence his first class in Dermatology from a Chinese Medicine perspective. I was thrilled to be a part of his overview class November 2014 in Santa Monica. The overview class documented resolution of skin disease including eczema, psoriasis, acne, lichen simplex, rosacea, and alopecia from a basis of clinical TCM patterns in the preparation of herbal formulas both topical and internal. I discovered there is no baseline understanding of TCM herbal formulas taught throughout the United States; acupuncturists and doctors in class came with different levels of understanding of herbal combinations that is an esoteric art form best appreciated through years of apprenticeship and practice. The source, combination and decoction of herbs will always prove interesting study. As a member of Dr. Al-Khafaji's dermatology class, I have access to his Avicenna apothecary in the U.K. that may be helpful to my clients who have found no relief from their skin afflictions from a Western medical perspective. Please let me know if you would like to explore the Avicenna apothecary.

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