What’s in a name? For Bodhidevi, a lot. Bodhidevi is actually a unique fusion of two words, bodhi and devi. The combined meaning translates literally to “enlightened goddess.” We offer a broad array of services, from holistic retreats and yoga classes to fitness classes and nutritional services. Our many services differ in their nature and origins, but they are united by a unique purpose: to awaken the goddess within by nurturing both physical and spiritual health. You would be hard pressed to find other holistic retreats and health services whose explicit purpose is the empowerment of the divine feminine through self-care and balance.
“Bodhi” is a Sanskrit name for one of the core concepts of Buddhist philosophy. Translating literally to “enlightenment,” the term Bodhi actually derives from the verbal root “budh,” meaning “to awaken.” Bodhi therefore refers to a process of awakening. In Buddhist philosophy, Bodhi is the evolution toward achieving the enlightened state of nirvana. The term actually alludes to Buddha’s own personal enlightenment, which took place under the canopy of a Bodhi tree. Bodhi is also short for Bodhisattva, the Sanskrit word for “enlightenment-being.”
Bodhi is not simply a static state of consciousness. Rather, it is the path of increasing awareness and connectivity that guides us to the state of supreme, complete enlightenment, or nirvana. It is an intuitive, conscious understanding of how consciousness came to presence and of the interconnectedness of life forms. Obtained in the course of transcending the delusion of the everyday and coming to understand the source of all creation, achieving Bodhi awakens us to the mutual reliance of all things, the dependence of the existence of one thing upon the existence of another.
“Devi” is the Sanskrit word for goddess, the feminine form of divinity. The proper noun refers to the Hindu concept of the divine mother, the creator of all things. In the Shakta Hindu tradition, Devi is the highest Supreme Being, the creator without a source, from whom the earth and heavens bloomed. Devi not only created the world; she also occupies all beings, objects, and forces. She is the infinite, undying conscious energy contained in all aspects of earth and Heaven.
Devi is the divine creator in some traditions and a feminine force of divinity embodied in other entities and goddesses in others. She also performs critical functions in the world. Devi eliminates the evils forces that disturb the planet’s delicate equilibrium. She created it, but she also has the capacity to obliterate and re-create it. She blesses the earth and serves as an inspiring model for earthly women. Devi protects villages and tribes. And she is embodied in female earthly saints and yoginis who are revered for their spiritual power.
Drawing the Concepts Together
In combing Bodhi and Devi into Bodhidevi, we’ve established a term for a spiritually aligned “awakened goddess.” Is it any surprise, then, that one of our holistic retreats is actually called “Awake Goddess?” We chose the name “Bodhidevi” for our business because the fusion of these spiritual concepts creates a model for a healthy, nourished, confident, and spiritually awakened method of living. It is our objective at Bodhidevi to provide the services and support necessary to elevate all of our clients to become divine goddesses.
So how do the services we provide nurture both the Bodhi and Devi in each of us?
Achieving Bodhi Through Yoga
Bodhidevi offers Vinyasa style classes that incorporate both Pranayama and meditation. Our classes therefore transcend the purely physical Hatha practice and allow clients to peacefully explore their inner environment. Indeed, the combination of asanas and pranayama permit a holistic meditation of the whole being that opens us to viscerally experience the oneness of all things. In so doing, we equip students with the tools necessary to release external stimuli, focus inward, and explore the depths of consciousness. Such exploration permits the expanded awareness and elevated consciousness necessary to achieve Bodhi and progress toward enlightenment.
Finding Bodhi Elsewhere
But yoga isn’t the only tool for exploring the consciousness and elevating the mind that Bodhidevi provides. Bodhidevi also offers Ayurvedic consultations to help you determine your dosha. Oftentimes we discover through these consultations that our clients suffer from either excess or dwindling agni, pitta, vata, or kapha. When these energies are imbalanced, we experience physical and emotional disturbances that cloud the consciousness. These disturbances hinder the transcendence of worldly delusions and the achievement of enlightenment. We have found that once our clients implement the changes we suggest during our consultations, they experience not just physical and mental improvements, but also spiritual growth, and increased acceptance. They also develop stronger feelings of connectivity with the planet, their food, and other human beings.
Bodhidevi’s prepared meals are a means to the same ends. Our chef and Ayurvedic specialist collaborate to create organic, nourishing, plant based meals free of the consciousness clouding additives and inflammatory compounds that most foods sadly contain. In fact, every single service we offer works to catapult you along the path to enlightenment. Our Agro Boot Camp, one of our holistic retreats, combines a cleansing, soothing, and empowering exercise routine with meditative garden activities to unify body and nature. Our special membership packages combine consultations and cleansing massages with other services. In all that we do, we strive to remove the roadblocks to enlightenment. In so doing, we empower you to carry on your journey.
Nourishing Your Devi With Bodhidevi
Your Devi is your inner goddess. A shockingly disturbing number of women have completely lost touch with their divine womanhood. They feel more shame in their femininity than pride. Women with full figures face hostility. Dietary dogma has women confused and ashamed about what they are eating. Women treat their own bodies as visual stimuli and machines for work and the pleasure of others instead of treating them as their divine temples. All in all, modern culture has women questioning and punishing their bodies more than loving them.
We want to change that. That’s why our holistic retreats and services are designed to awaken you to the sacredness of your divine womanhood. In fact, that is the primary objective of our Awake Goddess holistic retreats—to create a safe environment for women to reinvigorate, nurture, and celebrate their womanhood.
Our other services, too, will help you get back in touch with your body. Yoga, exercise, and healthy food will help you build bodily intuition, strength, and confidence. They also energize the body with prana and nutrients while expelling harmful substances. Our Agro Boot Camp will bring you outdoors to reconnect with the mother and bask in her healing energy. Explore our offerings, join us, and discover how great it feels to be the healthiest, happiest woman you know.
Hippocrates, the ancient Greek practitioner hailed as the father of modern medicine, contended that all diseases begin in the gut. Indeed, as Western medicine continues to advance, scientists are gathering mounting evidence that chronic disease does not simply materialize from a void. Instead, chronic conditions are the result of gastrointestinal complications. Research is revealing that factors like stress, dietary quality, genetics, and medications affect the nature of our microbial makeup. The state of our microbiome, in turn, regulates our immune system, produces neurotransmitters, breaks down food into digestible forms, and governs inflammation. It follows, then, that microbial imbalance can lead to inflammation, poor nutrient absorption, and both physical and psychological disease. Thankfully, Ayurvedic eating can go a long way in nursing the microbiome back to health.
Ayurvedic Medicine was on to the critical role of digestion in regulating physical and mental health long before the advent of Western medicine. According to Ayurvedic philosophy, optimizing digestion is the key to promoting vitality and warding of chronic disease. Below we explore the ways in which digestion can impact physical and emotional health from both the Ayurvedic eating and Western medical vantage points.
Ayurveda on Digestion
Ayurvedic philosophy hails the digestive system as the modulator of all bodily systems. The reason that digestion is critical to holistic health, according to Ayurvedic eating, is that it is the primary means through which the body can dispel toxic compounds, or ama. Toxic ama can derive from a number of sources, from environmental pollutants and heavy metals in our soils to cosmetic products and harmful food additives. When digestion is functioning at a sub-optimal level, constipation results, preventing the expulsion of ama from the body. These toxic substances instead build up in the digestive tract, re-entering the blood stream to be deposited into bodily tissues. When ama builds up in the body, inflammation and disease are inevitable.
Optimizing your digestion to effectively dispel ama is therefore a critical element of a healthy lifestyle. In order to ensure that ama is properly excreted, you must make lifestyle changes to stoke your Agni, or digestive fire. Agni is the energy that converts food into consciousness, linking the lower consciousness of the body to the higher consciousness of the mind. Agni is thus emotionally and spiritually healing in addition to being physically cleansing and fortifying. It allows you to process thoughts and feelings and to “digest” experiences and sensations.
Agni also helps to maintain doshic balance in the body. We are each born with a unique balance of the three doshas, or life forces, which lend us our unique physical and emotional qualities. Just as excess ama can accumulate in the body, so, too, can excess pitta, vata, or kapha. Maintaining balanced agni through Ayurvedic eating helps to expel these excess energies and preserve doshic balance, preventing disease.
Ayurvedic Prescriptions for Healthy Digestion
Fueling agni is both methodical and sacred. When we are eating, we are not just sustaining our bodies; we are also nurturing our digestive fire. Ayurvedic tradition prescribes several methods for maintaining healthy levels of agni for optimal health. Perhaps the simplest and most essential practice is to drink hot water with lemon upon rising. Doing so stimulates the digestive process without introducing more waste into the digestive tract, thus promoting the expulsion of ama. It is also important to eat in accordance with agni’s natural waxing and waning. Agni is strongest in the middle of the day, so it is best to ensure that your lunchtime meal is your largest.
What you eat, too, can make or break the strength of your agni. It is important to eat light, digestible foods, avoiding hard-to-digest foods that are too cold, fibrous, or oily. It is critical to cook your vegetables to increase their digestibility and to be mindful of which foods are and are not suitable for your dosha. Try to limit yourself to two handfuls of food, avoiding products that slow digestion like meat, cheese, and cold beverages. Lack of exercise, an irregular routine, excessive caffeine, and eating too quickly can also hamper agni. Slow down and savor your food, transforming mealtimes into sacred meditations.
Finally, unique practices like pranayama (breathing exercises) and regular Ayurvedic cleansing in addition to Ayurvedic eating make for strong, healthy agni.
The Significance of the Gut
Modern studies are beginning to make sense of the incomparable impact that digestion yields upon our state of health. Immune responses, nutrient absorption, energy metabolism, anti-fungal and anti-viral activity, and detoxification—all of these processes rely on the presence of a healthy amount of good bacteria in your gut.
Our bodies’ single celled organisms are ten times as prevalent as our bodily cells. The human body is therefore mostly comprised of bacteria. Furthermore, nerves in the digestive tract vastly outnumber those in the peripheral nervous system. It logically follows that bacterial imbalance in the digestive tract heavily impacts the nervous system. Thus, if you are suffering from chronic disease, frequent infections, weight gain, hormonal dysfunction, skin conditions, low energy, candida, nutrient deficiency, gas, bloating, or any other debilitating physical condition, an imbalance in your gut flora is likely to blame.
Imbalanced gut flora, or gut dysbiosis, occurs when harmful bacteria overpopulate the gut, out-competing friendly bacteria for space and resources. Unlike friendly bacteria, which aid in digestion and facilitate essential biological processes, bad bacteria generate toxins that cause blockages in the lymphatic system, compromise immunity, and infect tissues of the body. Gut dysbiosis can be the result of a broad array of afflictions and habits. These include the consumption of antibiotics, additives, chlorine/fluoride in water, stimulants, caffeine, improperly prepared grains, and foods that are difficult to digest. Stress, trauma, improper exercise, and lack of sleep can also contribute to gut dysbiosis.
Thankfully, gut dysbiosis is not a lifelong sentence. There are a number of things that you can do to restore healthy bacteria to your gut. Consuming probiotic supplements and fermented foods like kefir, kraut, and yogurt can help to repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria. Practicing regular exercise, taking stress reduction measures, and improving your diet are also effective methods of combatting gut dysbiosis.
Gut and Brain
The health of your intestinal tract can actually influence your mental health as well. In fact, more and more studies are revealing that poor digestive health can cause psychiatric complications.
Gut health is critical to the production of neurotransmitters, the biochemical messengers responsible for cognition and emotion. Like the brain, the digestive tract contains dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine, nitric oxide, endogenous opiates called enkephalins, and benzodiazepines. 90% of serotonin is manufactured in the gut. What is more, certain microbes actually produce neurotransmitters like dopamine, GABA, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and oxytocin themselves. Others are capable of replicating GABA receptors in the brain, improving mood disorders and decreasing cravings for alcohol and benzodiazepines in recovering addicts. Microbial balance also heavily impacts emotions, cognition, behavior, and even pain perception.
Ayurveda and the West on Digestion
Ayurvedic prescriptions for healthy digestion make even more sense in the light of recent western discoveries. Ayurveda prescribes a healthy, whole-foods diet of properly cooked foods that are easy to digest. It therefore encourages motility, reducing constipation and clearing waste from the digestive tract. Maintaining regularity is critical to maintaining a healthy microbial balance in the gut because it flushes bad bacteria. A healthy diet feeds good bacteria while starving bad bacteria of the sugars they thrive upon.
Ayurveda also advocates a regular practice of yoga and exercise, both of which work to encourage motility. Additionally, yoga and exercise help to reduce stress levels, preventing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria that can occur when stress compromises the immune system. The Ayurvedic diet also includes plenty (but not too many) fibrous foods, lots of water, and limited sugar and starches, all of which help to maintain regularity and subsequently support a healthy microbiome.
In the West, we tend to understand yoga as a monolith. In other words, we think of yoga as a singular and uniform concept. However, examining the history and philosophical practice of yoga creates a very different picture of this centuries-old practice. There are, in fact, a myriad of schools and yogic practices, each possessing their own methods and objectives. In seeking to be the best yoga studio Hawaii has to offer, Bodhidevi incorporates several of these styles to create a holistic practice.
It can be difficult for both entry-level and experienced yogis alike to know how and what to practice. Today we explore the main schools of yogic practice to help you select one that’s right for you.
Hatha yoga is a physically oriented form of yoga that primarily emphasizes aligning poses with breath work. The word “Hatha” is Sanskrit for poses or postures, but it actually translates, literally, to “force,” which can apply to the energetic regulation of posing, breathing, mantras, and more. Therefore, Hatha yoga concerns focusing energy on aligning breath and body in a physical practice. Prioritizing posing over flow, Hatha yoga is simpler and gentler than many other forms of yoga.
Hatha yoga was not always simply a physical practice. In fact, it was once far more esoteric. The traditional practitioners of Hatha yoga would sacrifice their whole lives—family, sex, social relationships, and substance use—to the practice. Originally, Hatha yoga tended to exalt the spiritual elements of yoga like pranayama, viewing yoga as a means of expelling karma. It was only through thousands of years of sociocultural evolution that Hatha yoga became what it is today.
Hatha yoga is great for beginners because it is slow-paced, gentle, and physical. It is good practice to establish an understanding of the asanas before incorporating pranayama and focusing on yoga’s spiritual purposes, and beginning with Hatha yoga will allow you to do just that.
Though Kundalini evolved from Hatha yoga and incorporates similar asanas, it is far more spiritual in nature than its physically oriented predecessor. In traditional Hindu philosophy, Kundalini is spiritual energy, envisioned in the figure of a serpent that rests at the base of the spine. Kundalini yoga draws this energy from the first chakra in the base of the spine to the 7thchakra at the top of the head, which governs consciousness and spirituality. In so doing, it is said to allow you to speak your truth, live with compassion, and unite with other beings in conscious awareness.
Swami Sivananda first articulated the term “Kundalini yoga” in 1935. It gained ground amongst the neo-Hindus of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, and remains a popular element of modern, mainstream yoga.
Kundalini yoga employs meditation, pranayama, mantra, and asanas in releasing Kundalini energy, making for a challenging and spiritually awakening class. It often involves fast-paced exercises and intense breath work, engaging and strengthening the muscles. At our yoga studio Hawaii, we use Kundalini practices for energizing purposes. Elevated heart rate and breathing lend Kundalini yoga a cleansing effect as well. If you have experience with basic yoga asanas are looking for both a physical and spiritual challenge, give Kundalini yoga a try.
Vinyasa yoga, or “flow yoga,” has quickly become the most popular yoga practice in the West. You can find it in virtually every yoga studio Hawaii is home to. The Sanskrit translation of Vinyasa is “variation within prescribed parameters.” The practice thus varies from class to class, with different yoga studio Hawaii instructors operating at different paces and incorporating different poses.
What unites different styles of Vinyasa is their fluidity. Vinyasa coordinates poses and breath work to create a rhythmic and meditative experience. In Vinyasa yoga, one flows from one asana to the next in a fluid transitional movement instead of simply ceasing one and resuming another. It also incorporates drishti, or the orientation of gaze, to create an active, full-body meditation. In a Vinyasa class, you will breathe through your nose and constrict your throat to steady your breath. Called Ujayyi breath, this form of breathing increases the invigorating and cleansing effects of the Vinyasa practice.
Vinyasa yoga’s fluid motion strengthens and lengthens the body while also working the cardiovascular system and burning calories. Additionally, Vinyasa boosts circulation, supplying oxygen to and cleansing the organs. Like most other forms of yoga, Vinyasa is excellent for soothing mind and body, increasing bodily awareness, and strengthening your core. Beginners may enjoy an easy vinyasa class, whereas experienced yogis may find an advanced class more suitable. In striving to be the most accommodative yoga studio Hawaii has to offer, we offer Vinyasa classes of varying intensity.
Ashtanga yoga is a form of Vinyasa yoga and therefore entails the incorporation of breath, asanas, and drishti into a fluid, meditative practice. What sets Ashtanga apart from other types of yoga is the difficulty and structure. Ashtanga yoga is quite formulaic, for every session incorporates a specified sequence of opening, main, back bending, and finishing sequences. Each session will involve two types of sun salutations and a series of advanced poses. Additionally, Ashtanga incorporates complex poses at a fast pace, making it unsuitable for most beginners.
“Ashtanga” refers to the 8-limb path that Patanjali described in the Yoga Sutras. Asanas, or poses, comprise just one of these 8 yogic limbs. Others include pranayama, mantra, drishti, and meditation. In employing all 8 limbs and aligning pranayama with asanas, Ashtanga is said to purify the body, nervous system, and mind.
As a form of Vinyasa, Ashtanga exercises the cardiovascular system and strengthens the body. It also increases bodily awareness, and its rhythmic quality lends it a meditative air. Because Ashtanga produces internal heat, it also works for purify the mind and body.
Many people confuse Bikram yoga with Hot Yoga. Indeed, like Hot Yoga, Bikram yoga is practiced in a room of approximately 105 degrees and 40% humidity. Whereas Hot Yoga refers to any type of yoga practiced in this setting, Bikram incorporates the same sequence of 26 poses into each class. Bikram poses derive from traditional Hatha practices, making them appropriate for intermediate yogis.
Bikram yoga became popular in the 1970’s and remains trendy today. Because of the strict conditions required to create a Bikram setting, it may be more difficult to find a Bikram class in a yoga studio Hawaii than, say, a Vinyasa class.
Bikram yoga boasts all of the same benefits of Hatha yoga. However, the intensified heat of a Bikram class further increases circulation, supplying the muscles and brain with plenty of oxygen. Because Bikram classes get very sweaty, they also stimulate the lymphatic system and trigger the release of toxins. Beginners should beware, though, as this intense class can cause severe dehydration. It is absolutely critical to consume water and electrolytes before and after a Bikram class.
While most forms of yoga derive from Hindu teachings, Yin yoga is premised upon Taoist concepts of bodily energy. Taoism teaches of the two opposing forces of yin and yang, which serve as the foundation for all that exists. Yin is a stable and static energy. Yin yoga therefore entails holding static poses for a prolonged period of time. This practice increases the flow of prana, or chi, energy through the body, clearing blockages that may impede one’s health.
Like most other forms of yoga, Yin yoga increases flexibility and circulation, both energizing and soothing mind and body. Unique to Yin yoga is the stark improvement in joint mobility that it fosters. Yin yoga is typically performed in a seated position and entails holding poses anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. These poses typically involve stretching the lower body in a variety of ways.
In remaining passive and allowing gravity to stretch the body, Yin practitioners can greatly improve the health of their connective tissues and joints. At our yoga studio Hawaii, we incorporate Yin yoga poses to help clients with joint pain and inflexibility. Because the Yin practice is so slow, it can be quite soothing and meditative. Be aware, though, that this is an extremely challenging (and thus far more necessary) practice for those with severe muscle tightness.