"The practices [of Ayurveda] were difficult at first, but as I cultivated a daily rhythm I started to feel better about myself and to let go of the stress and pain. With this came a deep feeling of peace. At an ashram in Pune, I learnt that by simply being more present and mindful in my actions, I developed a deeper connection within myself and ultimately achieved a calmer state."
Sunita Passi is an Ayurvedic health coach and founder of Tri-Dosha, a leading Ayurvedic product house that supplies authentic Ayurvedic skincare and training to top spas and retreats throughout the UK and the world. The granddaughter of an Indian Ayurvedic doctor, Sunita came to Ayurveda in an effort to manage her own stress levels, while working in India as a business journalist. She is co-founder of meditation project Unplugged Space and judge of the UK National Massage Championships. She has been invited to speak at the House of Lords and numerous other events and retreats, and also hosts a BBC radio show in Nottingham. Sunita holds diplomas in Ayurveda and meditation, an M.A in investigative journalism and is a highly respected Ayurvedic trainer, practitioner and entrepreneur sharing the tools of this timeless medicine amongst her growing audience.
"I believe everything in moderation is key and the routines in our life should feel pleasurable, not like a chore."
What does Ayurveda mean to you?
An incredible body of wisdom passed down through the Vaidyas to support us in living a peaceful, long and healthy life, and encouraging us to be ourselves throughout our journey.
When did you discover it? How long have you been practising it?
It was while I was based in India in 2002 – the ninth country I had called home over a four-year period – that I first experienced the healing powers of Ayurveda, with a chance massage that changed the course of my work and my life. Lying on a medicinal couch (more of a wooden slab!) in some out-of-the-way side street in Pune, I experienced what I can only describe as an epiphany. I enjoyed the best massage ever, although the therapists hardly touched me, and underwent something of a deep energetic transformation. Though my first treatment was in 2002, I’ve actually been practising it all my life. My parents practise Ayurveda at home though they don’t label the way they fed us. The environment they created in our home and the confidence they gave us was to love ourselves the way we were.
What drew you to Ayurveda?
As I began to settle into the country of my roots, I felt profoundly as if I had returned home. Although I never lived in India, everything felt so familiar – the sounds, the smells, the tastes. It was as if the daily rhythms were just my ‘norm’ and ultimately, I found a sense of calm and peace. After the massage experience, I started learning more about Ayurveda and as the wisdom became a part of my life, I realised just how unbalanced I was, working out twice a day just to cope with my life. I wasn’t alone either, as most of my colleagues existed this way too. I took a year out to travel around India, Nepal and Thailand. One of the first places I visited was the Sivananda Centre in Kerala. The practices were difficult at first, but as I cultivated a daily rhythm I started to feel better about myself and to let go of the stress and pain. With this came a deep feeling of peace. At an ashram in Pune, I learnt that by simply being more present and mindful in my actions, I developed a deeper connection within myself and ultimately achieved a calmer state.
Has it helped you with anything major?
It has helped me with my own growth, and to be my wholly authentic self. At the various ashrams I tried desperately to absorb truth. I couldn’t pull myself away. I became so detached from mainstream life that coming back to the UK was extremely difficult. In retrospect, I almost felt as if I was being asked to give up everyday life, which was quite scary, but ultimately drew me to authentic teachers who helped me get closer to my truth. And as a result, I now have more to share with others.
Is Ayurveda part of your everyday life or just for your medicine cabinet or fall-back routine?
It is part of my everyday but I’m not hard on myself. I wake up early every morning, around 7am. I have a gentle cleansing routine using a tongue cleaner and oiling my skin. I spend about 20 minutes meditating and in silence before the day begins. I live by myself so it’s not difficult for me enjoy a peaceful, quiet space. I have the most amazing garden view and love sitting on an evening gazing at the stars, which can sometimes be accompanied by a very nice glass of wine! I love food and eat warm Indian meals mainly. The spices are based on Ayurvedic principles; I know what works for my constitution and what combinations can be challenging for me, but if I fancy an indulgence, I go for it. I believe everything in moderation is key and the routines in our life should feel pleasurable, not like a chore.
What are your top 3 Ayurvedic tips that have worked for you?
Apple tea. I drink it most mornings. It’s soothing and anti-inflammatory.
Reading The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success: A Pocketbook Guide To The Fulfilment Of Your Dreams, by Deepak Chopra. I found this book very inspirational.
Listening to Kirtan music, for example The Sacred Chants Of Shiva by Craig Pruess, from heaven-on-earth-music.co.uk. This CD of devotional music is great for creating a sense of inner peace.
What surprised you most about Ayurveda?
How easy it is to apply the tools and techniques to everyday life and how effective they are.
Did you integrate it gradually or overnight for any particular reason?
For me, the new tools I integrated over time. Research suggests it takes 21 days to form a habit and I feel this is probably right. And in the case of some activities, it may take longer. For my health, going step by step has meant each new tool is rooted and supports my day-to-day.
What is your favourite Ayurvedic recipe or go-to ingredient?
I love my spice pot, which has a variety of pepper, garam masala, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, salt, ajwain and turmeric. I love it all!
How does Ayurveda fit into your day-to-day routines?
Very easily. I have followed this path for so long now, it would feel foreign to not live this way.
What do you wish was easier in our society to make an Ayurvedic lifestyle more accessible?
We need more ambassadors who have voices in the mainstream to connect the general public to the benefits. We also needs more qualified healers who can support clients on a more grassroots level and introduce people to self-care routines before they start popping pills.
Do people around you/in your circle of friends know about Ayurveda?
They do; many of my friends are practitioners or energy workers from a variety of systems.
What’s the one thing you would encourage everyone to try or you think would benefit the majority of people’s health for the better?
Practising mindfulness. It is a life-transforming tool.
Anything else you’d like to add?
In an incredible way, Ayurveda came together as a system integrating spirituality and practical holistic tools. Even in our busiest of time, it gives us a language to help us live with more abundance and vibrancy and the guidance available here is useful for everyone, be it a child, teenager or adult.
Tri-Dosha will be hosting an Ayurvedic Massage Retreat from 27th September to 3rd October 2018 with their partners at Feel Retreat in Spain. Click here for more information and to book your spot.