Ayur-what-the-heck with Lisa Bracken.

 A few of my favorite things.

A few of my favorite things.

Have a successful career, an even more successful blissful family life, a beautiful and organized home, a Heidi Klum toned body, and two perfectly behaved dogs. I say this while staring at my chipped nails which are making me seriously not be able to function at any task in life currently. And I still am trying to manage some sort of social calendar. Is it ridiculous to say "Oh yes, lunch sounds great and I have a gap in two months on Friday at noon for one hour" . Sound familiar or I am entirely alone here? How do the women of the world do it??? I am in desperate need of finding balance. I thought things would calm down after shutting down my business but I am still struggling in finding that sweet spot. I am also struggling in the worst way with anxiety from just turning on the news lately. The world feels as though it is falling apart at the seams and it's seriously freaking me out. The news today and yesterday in Louisiana and Minneapolis and now Dallas....what is happening?? I can feel the tension in my shoulders and neck. My insomnia is back. I cannot stop worrying honestly. I find myself constantly stalking my friend's social media pages to get me through life. Lisa Bracken seriously can calm me down instantly with her tips and tricks. She is like this walking encyclopedia that has so much to teach the world.  

For the past nine years, Lisa and her husband Sam, had the good fortune of owning and operating The Canebrake, an award-winning destination hotel and spa in NE Oklahoma. This was one of my favorite places in the world and I am so happy that it connected to me to Lisa. I love her yoga classes. They are nice and challenging and she is one of the best instructors. She now is the founder of Copper Cup Ayurveda which focuses on the art of returning the body and mind to balance through the science of foods, herbs, and lifestyle. She is a graduate of the Ayurvedic Practitioner Program through the California College of Ayurveda where she also received certifications in Pancha Karma (PKS) and Ayurvedic Bodywork and Massage Therapies (AMBT). Fascinated with how the body moves – or more often doesn’t – Lisa holds a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology and is a registered yoga teacher with over 1,000 hours of training, teaching and practice in anatomy, physiology, Sanskrit, meditation, asana, and philosophy. She has received certifications for teaching Therapeutic Yoga for Seniors via Duke Integrative Medicine and continues to study with Tias Little at every opportunity.She lives in Wagoner, OK, with her husband, two standard poodles, and one rowdy pit bull. And I am thrilled for you to get to know her a little bit better and learn about this mysterious enigma called Ayurveda. I feel like we can all use a bit of balance and do something good for our bodies and mind. 

Lisa Bracken Interview:

-Let's talk about your new adventure?!! Tell me all about it?!

After dabbling in Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, for the past decade I made the financial and time commitment to formalize my education by studying in earnest at the California College of Ayurveda three years ago. After graduating as an Ayurvedic Practitioner, I opened Copper Cup Ayurveda (located inside the newly renovated yogaQUEST at 31st and Harvard) and am absolutely thrilled to be in Tulsa! The principles of Ayurveda contain the keys to longevity, energy, and vibrant health - who couldn't use more of that? Ayurveda is based on the five fundamental elements of nature (earth, water, fire, air, space), and how those elements combine to create the three doshas of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each of us has a unique percentage of these three doshas which makes up our inherent constitution. It is this unique balance of the doshas that we strive to maintain while juggling the dynamics of environment, lifestyle, food choices, drama and trauma, that throw us out of whack. According to Ayurveda, food is the mother of all medicine so a large part of my work revolves around designing dosha-specific food programs and healthy eating guidelines for each individual according to their particular  imbalance(s). By implementing food programs, guidelines for heathy eating, daily and seasonal routines, as well as yoga, meditation and other therapies, we can achieve the equilibrium our body, mind and spirit longs for. In addition to offering Ayurvedic consultations, I see clients privately for yoga - whether it's a therapeutic application or simply assistance in designing a home practice - and offer workshops on Ayurveda, anatomy and yoga. (Next up is at Pryor Creek Recreation Center onWednesday August 24: Shoulder Savors)

-How do you take charge of your own life and health?

Routine, routine, routine! I've found that the morning and evening routines (dinacharya) suggested in Ayurveda are both accessible and sustainable if I keep it simple and implement them one at a time. Adhering to particular rituals in my morning practice such as asana, meditation, pranayama and chanting not only serves to keep me grounded but provides me with a foundation of joy and contentment onto which I can build my day. In addition to ritual, I've finally brought my head into the game. What was once an 8-pound, disconnected, chatter-box of nonsense is now a team player with the rest of the body community. This disconnect contributed to many years of abuse, neglect, and refusal of responsibility. Yoga and Ayurveda (and not a small amount of therapy) have taught me the skills needed to get my mind, body and spirit on the same page. While I am painfully aware of how I fall short on a daily basis, I do my best to practice what I preach. 

-How long have you been practicing the principles of Ayurveda?

Applying the principles of Ayurveda into my daily life has been nothing short of an evolution. I am extremely fortunate to have an exceptional yoga teacher who exposed me to Ayurveda when I first began studying with him 12 years ago. Ayurveda was simply part of the curriculum and I'm forever grateful for that introduction. Over the past several years, I was in a position to bring fantastic teachers of Ayurveda to The Canebrake - Sarah Kucera (KC), Sonia Masocco (NM), and Maria Garre (NM). These women inspired me to get serious about incorporating the principles into my life and they continue to influence me greatly today. When I began my studies at CCA three years ago, that's when the shiz got real. We were/are required to embrace and live the principles; it's not an option.

How have the principles of Ayurveda impacted your life?

I could regale you with personal stories (for example those random pesky nosebleeds and that time my thyroid went rogue - both a result of extremely elevated Pitta) that would illustrate how following protocols of Ayurveda had a positive impact on me physically. But what really gets me weak in the knees are the numerous testimonies from clients who have rediscovered the beauty of a good nights' sleep, or have successfully put an end to acid reflux, or are now saving buckets of money by dropping prescriptions that no longer serve them. I get all giddy just thinking about it! 

-Can you share one easy tip, practice, recipe, that is easy to incorporate into daily life?

Sleep is one of the three pillars of Ayurveda (the other two being food and sex - another blog post for another time) and sleep deprivation/insomnia is something I see a great deal of in my practice. Here's a simple recipe I call the Nutmeg Nightcap, so effective  that one of my clients has renamed it Ayurvedic Ambien. 

1/4 tsp nutmeg powder

1/2 C milk of your choice

pinch of cinnamon

Heat the milk over low heat, stir in the spices

Once the milk is heated all the way through, pour it into a mug 

When you're ready to drink it, add a squirt of honey for a little sweetness 

Enjoy this 30 minutes before you hit the pillow and ... nighty night!

-How do you see the world of yoga and Ayurveda evolving in the coming years here in The West? Can you give us some predictions?

The incredible growth of the yoga industry over the past two decades is surely an indicator of what's to come with regards to Ayurveda. Remember how many yoga studios were in Tulsa 15 years ago? Maybe two? And look at the abundance of opportunities now. And Oklahoma City - wow!! So many people are hungry for alternatives that will compliment their Western medicine and thanks to people like Dr. Oz and Deepak Chopra, Ayurveda is making its way into the mainstream. It's exciting to contribute to this movement and be a part of the solution to our current healthcare crisis. 

-Hobbies?

I'm recently obsessed with gangsta rap videos from the early '90s on YouTube. Does that count? 

-Currently listening to?

Right this minute - Classical 88.7.... Sounds like Rachmaninoff. Yep, I'm going with Rachmaninoff.... Definitely Rachmaninoff

Guilty pleasure?

Ben & Jerry's Phish food without a doubt. 

-Best advice you have ever received?

Best personal advice: "you should totally go out with my friend Sam Bracken!!" 

Best business advice:  begin as you mean to go on

Best yoga advice: your teaching is not your time to practice, you're there for your students. When you teach, teach; your practice is on your own time.

-Worst advice you have received?

 "Just eat the whole pint. You'll be fine. You've already eaten half, you might as well finish it off." (...the struggle is real)

-Your favorite Sunday consists of?

My favorite Sunday always begins with yoga with the posse (you know who you are), followed by a leisurely 2.5 hour brunch at a semi-secluded corner table with the hubs and The New York Times, after which I would lounge on the sofa with the dogs catching up on recent issues of Vanity Fair, The NewYorker, or pouring through the latest book that has me captivated - currently "Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon". The end of the day would find me sitting on the sand in front of an extraordinary sunset, enjoying the song of seagulls, and the gentle surf of the Gulf of Mexico lapping at my toes. Oh, and there would be ice cream. 

-Favorite yoga pose?

Urdhva dhanurasana (wheel)! For a long time this pose was unavailable to me due to a back injury, but time and patience (and a large dose of compassion) have made it a regular part of my practice. These days, pushing up into wheel invigorates me; it juices up my spine, builds my confidence, and reminds me of my power.

-Advice to the new yogi?

Don't give savasana the shaft!! Give yourself 5 minutes for every 30 minutes of practice. Nothing less than 10 minutes is acceptable. 

-Your favorite meal ever?

The Radical Reuben from the Chicago Diner. Hands down. 

I mean....serious girl crush! I cannot wait to attend the August workshop and incorporate some serious routines!! Get connected with her social media outlets to learn new things daily loves. Inhale, exhale, now repeat. 

(all photos are owned by Lisa)

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Xo

Sam