NAGNATA founder Laura May met Myra Lewin, the vibrant 65 year old yogi and Ayurvedic teacher, in Byron Bay at the end of her Australian tour. Myra founded Hale Pule Ayurveda & Yoga retreat centre in Hawaii in 1999, and is currently in the process of relocating Hale Pule to the Bay Of Islands, New Zealand.
Myra has studied with some of the world’s most prominent practitioners of Ayurveda and Yoga, including Sunil Joshi, David Frawley, Robert Svoboda, Maya Tiwari, Sarasvati Buhrman, Vasant Lad, Sandra Kozak, Pattabhi Jois, Ramanand Patel and Richard Freeman among others.
Laura May and Myra's conversation ran deep and moved through discussions on yoga, fashion and our perception of beauty in the world; to the importance of community in today's society and creating businesses with social purpose.
Read below for excerpts from the women's conversation.
NAGNATA photographed Myra on film at the new Byron Bay studio amidst renovations on the warehouse space. Laura May styled Myra in accordance with the colours of the 7 Grahas. The Grahas are the qualities of the planets in vedic astrology. Myra coordinates her weekly activities and the colour palette of her outfits in harmony with the planetary influences.
Photographed on film by NAGNATA's Hannah. Myra wears styles from the NAGNATA Merino Wool Seamless and Organic Cotton technical knitwear collections.
Myra Lewin founder of Hale Pule Ayurveda & Yoga photographed on film at the new NAGNATA Byron Bay studio.
LAURA MAY What strikes you most when you meet Myra is how vibrant and youthful she appears, in both her physical body and energy. I found myself thinking, I hope I'm as healthy and radiant as this woman is when I'm in my 60's.
At the core of Myra's teachings, and the heart of Ayurveda, is the way in which we approach our life can either harm or heal ourselves. Resistance to life causes suffering and in particular with Myras life – caused disease.
Myra shared endless pearls of wisdom surrounding the science of Ayurveda, but what I found truly inspiring and empowering is Myra's personal story of healing.
Guided by the ancient practices of yoga, pranayama and Ayurveda, Myra healed her body of chronic pain, arthritis and what doctors claimed was leukaemia. Myra talks of her younger years when she didn't digest food well, and how that related to her not digesting life well. She had a resistance to life and had trouble 'digesting' people the way they were. Myra speaks of the cause of her sickness being anger.
'One thing to look at in reversing or preventing illness is taking away the cause. Keep backing up in the process of life to find the cause, then remove it. The body and mind can often take care of itself.'
The quality of food we eat and our sleep, treatments, herbs and how we manage our lives – that’s what takes care of everything. It's the interconnected approach to body, mind and spirit which is at the heart of ancient yoga and Ayurveda teachings.
LAURA MAY Myra embraced the power of Ayurveda and Yoga after she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis , a condition her doctors said was “incurable.” Her career as a corporate executive and background in science and pharmaceuticals had previously made it difficult to manage her health. But that prognosis pushed her to seek out a holistic lifestyle that would allow her body and mind to find balance.
When Myra first began yoga she struggled to forward bend and her body was in constant pain. You find it hard to imagine this could be true for the flexible, glowing 65 year old women who effortlessly positioned her body in the most advanced of yoga asanas during our shoot.
When studying yoga in India under the guidance of Pattabhi Jois, he was concerned initially as Myra wasn't that young when she started practicing with him, around 38-39 years old. He helped her to work and move from the inside out and taught her how to ride the breath. Myra recalls she would sit on the stairs and watch Pattabhi closely. It wasn't about achieving the final pose, and he would only move people on if they were ready to progress in the practice.
Later in her life doctors told Myra she had leukaemia. Through self study and working with teachers, Myra discovered this was related to holding fear around her siblings, which surfaced in her relationships around the time of her father passing. Once Myra recognised this fear, it took only a few months process of healing incorporating the practices of yoga, meditation and Ayurveda to bring her body back into balance and full health.
Myra grew up in a time and career where modern science was the answer to everything, until Ayurveda exploded that concept for her. Myra is proof that the holistic practice of yoga, meditation and Ayurveda can work healing miracles on our bodies and enhance the quality of our lives.
With a society of women increasingly obsessed with defying ageing by using botox and other synthetic beauty treatments in an attempt to look younger. Myra's approach to inner beauty and health is a refreshing reminder that how we treat our bodies and minds, and choose to participate in our own lives, radiates through our entire physical being. Ultimately that is the true path to remaining youthful.
LAURA MAY Myra speaks a lot about AGNI; the energy that’s available to transform anything and everything that we consume. We are a part of nature, not separate from it. Everything matters and the way we do and think things effects everything else.
'The desire for intimacy is part of our fabric. We often look for it outside of ourselves, but true intimacy is experienced on the inside as a deep knowing. Intimacy is a communing with a moment and it is revealed when we let go of our resistance and open ourselves up to what's happening, right here and right now. The practice of brahmacharya, which is the conscious management of energy, can enable us to experience true intimacy.'
The 7 Grahas Navagraha means "nine celestial bodies" in Sanskrit and are nine astronomical bodies as well as deities in Hindu astrology. These are the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Solar Eclipse and Lunar Eclipse.
The Grahas are the qualities of the planets in vedic astrology. Myra coordinates her weekly activities and the colour palette of her outfits in harmony with the planetary influences which are outlined briefly below.
SUNDAY _ SUN (SURYA) IS THE COLOUR RED Has to do with our sense of self and body and things that involve needing a firm ego. It's a Pitta planet that can become easily irritated or aggravated so be aware of this in yourself and others and keep Pitta calm.
MONDAY _MOON (CHANDRA) IS THE COLOUR WHITE Has to do with our mind observation, perception, and consciousness. Activities that involve nurturing others (such as healings) and the public (presentations). It is a Vata planet and likes to jump from constellation to constellation so the aim is to keep Vata calm.
TUESDAY _ MARS (MANGALA ) IS THE COLOUR RED Has to do with leadership and our ability to assert. The planet of working with the earth, tactical planning and mechanical ability with the hands. Mars tendency is to be impetuous and violent so avoid quick decisions on Tuesdays. Activities that require vitality and assertion, mechanical ability with the hands, things to do with the earth, engineering, nature, surgical procedures and setting tactical plans. Diplomacy and patience are key. It is a Pitta planet so keep Pitta calm.
WEDNESDAY _ MERCURY (BUDDHA ) IS THE COLOUR GREEN Has to do with our ability to discriminate. Our mind observes, Mercury judges and discriminates. Activities that involve assessing and placing value, merchandising, commercial endeavours, commerce, needing to judge things, movement of money, inspections, purchasing, trade, study/education, communications (meetings), writing, astrology work. Mercury should be in a good place before shopping, if Mercury is afflicted, wait until it isn’t. Next to the moon, it is the fastest planet. Mercury is a Vata planet, so keep Vata calm.
THURSDAY_ JUPITER (GURU) IS THE COLOUR YELLOW Has to do with teaching and bringing light. Also called “brihaspati”, bringer of light. Activities that have to do with the power of words (presentations, courses, webcasts), teaching, charitable giving and service, astrology, lawyers, ministers, government officials, people in high places and social activity as this planets energy has a love of people.
FRIDAY_ VENUS (SHUKRA) IS THE COLOUR WHITE Has to do with beauty and inspiration, lifting things up (guru to the demons). Shukra means “bright” and is known as the bright one. Activities that have to do with refining, beautifying (planting, weeding, house repairs), love, marriage, human resources, listening, social events that involve conviviality with people, anything to do with art, dance, music, healing and mantras.
SATURDAY _SATURN (SHANI ) IS THE COLOUR BLUE Introspective planet, called the “slow goer”. Saturn is Lord of the truth and planet of wisdom born of experience. A planet of democracy. Teaches us that nothing in this world will last and that the more we hang onto things, the more we will suffer. Saturday is a good day to clean things out and practice non-attachment. Activities that have to do with death, discipline, forms of restriction (related to Yoga practices and other spiritual pursuit), organization (physical and schedules etc), non-attachment (cleaning closets) and all forms of labor and hard work, steel, rock, bones, teeth (dental appointments) and gemstones.
Myra chooses not to cut her hair, as similar to the beliefs of the Native American Indians, our hair is an extension of the nervous system. Our hair is a system of exteriorised nerves, a type of highly developed human 'feelers' or 'antennae' that are capable of transmitting enormous amounts of important data to the brain stem, the limbic system and the neocortex.
Visit Hale Pule Ayurveda & Yoga website to learn more about Myra and the new retreat centre in New Zealand.