A few years ago I had the great pleasure of meeting Ayurvedic specialist Edie O’Reilly in Dublin. I was in need of some support and wisdom for my health and so began a journey of delving into the Ayurvedic teachings regarding food and body treatments. I have Edie here to give you some understanding of what her work is all about –
Hi Edie, thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your work. You describe yourself as an Ayurvedic specialist. For someone who’s never heard of Ayurveda before, could you tell us what this actually involves?
Ayurveda is an ancient science from India that teaches that everything in nature, including humans, are made up of 5 basic elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth). These elements dominate our body and create our tendencies and when too high can create diseases. An Ayurvedic practitioner is able to see what elements are too high and recommend foods, herbs, body treatments and lifestyle adjustments to bring the elements back down. When an element is too high in the body a person will have digestive problems, mental issues or they just won’t feel right. Our bodies were created to be healthy and Ayurveda is able to bring that health back into the body naturally by treating the issue at the root of why it was there in the first place by relating each problem to the 5 basic elements.
What specifically was it about Ayurveda that attracted you to it in the first place?
I have always known that my food was important to my health and I have always been interested in herbs and their healing properties. However, general nutrition never felt right to me. When I heard about Ayurveda I knew I needed to learn more about it because it took into consideration the individual needs of each person and explained why not all “healthy” foods are good for everyone.
Do you find that people tend to come to you to improve their general well-being or is it also useful for specific ailments?
Ayurveda can help get to the root of specific ailments and it can improve your general well-being. It is known as the longevity medicine and is also excellent in keeping the body balanced to prevent health issues from occurring. Ayurveda teaches you how you can use your food as medicine to bring health and how to tailor your daily activities to increase your health. Most people come to me for a specific reason.
When I was being treated by you a few years ago in Dublin, one part that I especially enjoyed and benefited from was pancha karma, the body treatments. I can remember what a blissful experience it was to have warm herbal oil slowly trickled onto my forehead and down around my head. Could you talk a little bit about this process and who it might be beneficial to?
Pancha karma is Ayurveda’s way of deeply detoxing the body. Everyone should clean out their body at least once per year and especially around two important seasonal changes; Spring and Autumn. When the temperature changes from cold to warm or warm to cold our bodies are a mess because the elements are changing (outdoors and inside your body). This is when we generally get colds and flu’s and when some of us feel really out of balance. If you detox the body during these seasonal changes you will benefit greatly. You can do a detox at any time of year, but if there is an imbalance then the seasonal changes is when you ideally detox the body.
I can remember when we were working together how you told me that everyone gets treated to calm their vata as the first step. I know that my dosha (or constitution) is vata, but is it true then that most people have at least some vata elements within them regardless of what their dosha is?
Yes, most of us are out of balance in vata because vata increases as we get older. Think of it this way, as the body gets older it naturally starts to dry up. This drying up process is due to air or what Ayurveda calls vata. Also, in the west we are always doing things to increase vata such as watching television, traveling, computers, loud music and eating dry, light foods. We increase this air or vata on a regular basis and 90% of our health issues are due to vata.
So your main focus is on the food, is that right? Then you include the body treatments and other practices, such as meditation, yoga and general lifestyle. What would you be looking for as a sign that the treatment is proving to be successful?
Yes, my main focus is on food because that is what makes your tissue. I see food as the foundation to your health. The way I know that treatments and/or recommendations are successful is by checking in with your digestion and whatever ailment you came in with. All disease starts in the digestive tract and if you came in and your digestion was working perfectly then I’ll want to know when was it not good and what did that look like for you.
When I was receiving panchakarma, I remember you telling me that to receive oil was equivalent to receiving the gift of love. I’m hoping you’ll share a little more about this when we do an extended chat together, but for now, could you say a little about it?
In India oil is referred to as sneha which literally translated means love. When the Ayurveda therapist applies oil to a person they are essentially giving that person love and hence the oil creates the feeling of contentment in the body. The reason the feeling of contentment happens is because when our bodies are nourised and balanced our bodies are in need of nothing. This means the body is well oiled and moist. When we lose the moisture in our bodies we start feeling discomfort. We pull muscles, forget thoughts, are sensitive and emotional. Bring the moisture back and you bring back the health.
You weren’t always an Ayurvedic practitioner, were you? When did you begin to embrace this whole philosophy and how did your life change as a result?
Before Ayurveda I had health issues such as early signs of arthritis, constipation, constant digestive problems. I worried myself sick almost every day. But once I learned and started applying the principles of Ayurveda everything, and I mean everything (without exception), cleared from my body. I know my body has tendencies, but it doesn’t mean they have to play out in my day to day life.
I know that you are a certified yoga instructor and meditation teacher, too. These are two spiritual practices which I personally love and regularly maintain in my life. How do you think they can benefit someone who is experiencing a lot of stress and imbalance in their life?
Yoga is very important because it moves the body and allows memory that is stored in the tissue to be released. I see yoga as keeping everything (physically and energetically) cleaned and cleared so tension, stress or anxiety isn’t able to accumulate. Meditation is also key to a de-stressed, calm life. For me, meditation puts everything into perspective because people generally tend to make big deals out of little things and meditation allows us to see that. Meditation allows you to know yourself and to let go.
When I originally started my practice I was living in an ashram and doing body treatments and seeing clients in one place. Once I moved to Ireland I no longer had a facility where I could do that so I started seeing clients for consultations and was giving treatments out of my home for those clients that needed more work. For me the ideal situation would be to have another facility where I could bring everything together again. So I visualized the clinic, what I would do there, how it would look and I let the idea go. I found my current location by searching on the internet for a room that I could rent to give treatments and consultations. I didn’t know I was ready for my own place, but I came to look at the clinic and the energy of the place was right. I knew this was the place. Honestly, I don’t know how I did it financially, but my job was to not worry about it so I kept the positive focus of what it would look like and feel like once I was in a place and everything just seemed to happen.
I currently offer Ayurvedic consultations, Panchakarma (Detoxing), Ayurvedic body treatments, Herbs, Yoga Classes and ongoing workshops.
When you’re not teaching Ayurveda, what else do you love to do in life?
I have two small boys and I love spending time with them. I also love to learn and am every intrigued and interested in “Who I Am” so I’m always reading books on Vedanta philosophy, the life of saints and studying the classical texts of Ayurveda. More recently I have had another business idea that is still in line with Ayurveda, so I’ve been researching and pulling this idea together and enjoying the process.
Now I’m sure the readers will be pleased to hear that there will be an audio recording available very soon where we can go into some of the topics we have touched upon in more detail and get to know you much better. In the meantime, if anyone reading this would love to work with you, what is the best way for them to contact you Edie?
I am in the process of a new website but until the new one is complete I can be contacted at: