Breathe Ayurveda

My Ayurvedic Journey

When diet is wrong medicine is of no use. When diet is correct medicine is of no need. ~Ayurvedic Proverb

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In August 2007 I made my way to the Chopra Center in Southern California. I knew I needed to do something to change my life and a voice deep inside me kept whispering “Panchakarma.” It was strange to hear Sanskrit whispered in my head but I continued to hear it over and over, so that summer I decided it was time to move forward and do Panchakarma.

I wanted to go to India, but a message given to Stephanie Tarr, our Reiki practitioner, said I could travel to India…but The Chopra Center would be a better choice for me now. So Chopra it was.

Panchakarma means five actions. It is the Ayurvedic practice of deeply cleansing yourself in a physical, emotional and spiritual way. I knew I needed this deep cleanse. Since 2002 I had been planning breathe books, opened in 2004 and worked seven days (and many nights!) a week creating the business. While this brought me great joy, it also took its toll. I was more exhausted than I had ever been.

While I continued practicing yoga and meditation, my weight was creeping up and I actually felt that something sticky was inside me preventing me from receiving nutrition. Preventing me from feeling satisfied. This manifested not only physically, but emotionally as well. I felt blocked, cluttered, crowded, overwhelmed. For me, Panchakarma seemed to be the answer for how to get unblocked. Little did I know that this message was going to change my life.

What is Ayurveda?

This ancient medical system was created in India over 5000 years ago. Much like Chinese medicine, Ayurveda looked to the world surrounding us and found a correlation to each element within us. Space, Air, Fire, Water, Earth. We are created from the same elements as the earth. The great Ayurvedic teachers clearly saw that when we are in harmony with the elements, we are balanced, healthy, happy and productive.

But we are often out of balance, not moving in concert with our surroundings. Ayurveda gently brings us back into harmony by establishing balance in our mind/body constitution. Through food, exercise, meditation, and detoxifying practices, we come back to ourselves and establish perfect health.

Some Sanskrit is necessary to further explain. The five elements are the Maha Bhutas: Akash (space); Vayu (air); Tejas (fire); Jala (water); Prithivi (earth).

We are made up of a combination of these Maha Bhutas. These are called Doshas. Vata Dosha is akash and vayu. Pitta dosha is tejas and jala. Kapha dosha is jala and prithivi. Vata is dry and moves fast. Pitta is fiery and hot; Kapha is earthy and slow.

We are all made up from all three Doshas, but one or two usually predominate at certain times in our life.

We are born in a natural state of balance, which is called prakriti (also seen as prakruti). Prakriti is made up of the emotional, physical and spiritual state of our parents and our surroundings — probably with a bit of Karma thrown in. Pretty much from our first breath, we enter into a state imbalance, which is called our vikruti. Ayurveda helps us find our way back to our prakruti.

The Journey Continues

I had lost my prakruti and was deeply settled into my vikruti. I am Kapha. But I was Kapha out of balance, which showed up most noticeably in my weight. I went to the Chopra Center to create space in my life, physically and emotionally.

My week at the Chopra Center took me so deeply into myself. I discovered how tired I was. How much I needed rest. And I let it be. And I began to let go. The different Panchakarma therapies are designed to release toxins from the body and mind. The first few days are exhausting as your body begins to release. The Ayurvedic sessions encourage you to let go by using several different methods: abhyanga (saturating oil massages); steams; herbal scrubs; sound therapy; sirodhara (warm oil poured onto the forehead in a continuous stream); marma therapy (light touch on specific areas of the body); and basti (herbal enemas).

After a week of treatments and classes I went home in an altered state. I felt a deeply profound shift had occurred and I was going to embrace it.

My body and mind felt pristine. I wanted to continue this process so I turned to my favorite bookstore, breathe books! I had a nice little Ayurvedic section including some great cookbooks. I took home a collection and immersed myself. I took the cookbooks to the Indian Market and bought what I needed to create a kitchen that would help me balance my doshas. I bought my oils and herbal supplements to continue the practices I had learned. I read everything I could find on Ayurveda. My mind was so focused, I couldn’t think of anything else. I began to see the world as doshas. The world began to make sense to me.

My results were rapid and encouraging. In less than three months I dropped close to 30 pounds and my cholesterol fell an astonishing 80 points. (To balance my Kapha dosha, I reduced the amount of dairy, wheat and sugar I ate. I added in many new foods including Indian spices, dals, rice, different fruits and veggies. The diet and daily routine are different for each dosha.)

I was so excited by what I was learning that I needed more information, so I attended another Chopra workshop called Journey Into Healing: An Immersion Into Ayurveda.

In this workshop, Drs. David Simon and Deepak Chopra took me to another level of understanding of Ayurveda. And I loved it. I felt I was remembering a past life. It was like I was being reminded. Like I was coming home to knowledge that was deeply ingrained in me and now was the time to remember it. Now I had the time, the money, the skills and desire to remember. And the opportunity was handed to me.

It was at this workshop in November 2007, that I decided to take the Chopra Center’s Teacher Certification program. This supplied me with an organized path of study in addition to all research and reading I was doing on my own.

Over the next few months I lost another 15 pounds and I watched my body take on this new shape I hardly recognized. At 45 years old, my weight had fallen to where it was when I was 18. Mentally I began to slowly shift into this new phase. I still find my mind is catching up to my body. I think when the two meet, I’ll be able to let go of another 15 pounds or so that I would like to say goodbye to! (I’ll add that now – at the age of 51, the weight and cholesterol levels have remained the same!)

I took a year to complete my course work, and after a week of intense study and practice at the Chopra Center in November 2008, I received my certification. I am so unbelievably proud to part of the Chopra Family as a Certified Chopra Instructor.

Where I Am Now

Besides the weight, I found other things in my life that weren’t serving me began to change. I sought out corners of my house where clutter had accumulated over the years and rid myself of the unwanted things. Old clothes, paperwork, items of no use. Gone. I created breathing space. The prana, or chi, was flowing through me and around me. By creating space inside and out, I was encouraging this healthy flow to nourish me. And into that space I created, my soul partner walked in! My husband-to-be, Larry Bohlen, actually walked into breathe books in December, 2008. We were married in September 2010. (In addition, a foster-puppy came in to breathe books with her foster mom in January 2010, and we adopted her! Ella –full name is Ellananda Shakti Weis-Bohlen – joined the happy household! She’s a Pitta puppy for sure!) And Shadow, our lab-boxer mix has joined the family as well! 

Since my initial experience with The Chopra Center I have gone to two other Ayurvedic Clinics for Panchakarma. Life Spa ( is located in Boulder and run by John Douillard. The Ayurvedic Institute ( in Albuquerque is the U.S. base for Dr. Vasant Lad. Panchakarma continues to be a profound and different experience each time and each clinic has its own benefits. (If you decide to contact The Chopra Center, please use my name to receive a discount or you can contact me to arrange your program!)

While not everyone is able do it, Panchakarma is ideally done twice a year. For me it jump-started my Ayurvedic practice. But there are things you can do right now, right here to begin your journey.

Cooking nutritious food is the backbone of Ayurveda. I was privileged to take a five-day cooking class with my food guru Amadea Morningstar at Kripalu in April 2008 and a week-long intensive at her home in New Mexico in 2009. I learned many Ayurvedic techniques and some beautiful mantras and chants to use while cooking! I recommend Amadea’s book, “The Ayurvedic Cookbook”, and “Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners” to anyone who wants to create an Ayurvedic lifestyle.

We completed our second Ayurvedic Cooking Weekend Retreat with Amadea Morningstar, in March 2011. Over 40 people have come to a beautiful farm house at Fox Haven Learning Center in Frederick, Maryland to learn the art of Ayurveda.

In April 2012 I attended a week-long Pulse Reading Intensive course at the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico, with Dr. Vasant Lad. Pulse reading is an ancient diagnostic tool that is now part of my tool-kit when I work with clients. The pulse can reveal deep-seated imbalances as well as indicate good health and a strong constitution among other subtler indications of health both physical, mental and emotional.

If you would like to learn more, I teach a five-week course called Perfect Health Through Ayurveda — the signature course of the Chopra Center. In these sessions I offer the knowledge you need to help you on your path to creating balance in your life. Each week focuses on a different aspect of your life: healing nutrition for your dosha; clearing emotions, accessing your inner pharmacy; creating a daily routine; and understanding your universal connections to others and the world around you. Included in each class is meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises), and gentle yoga.

I also offer individual Ayurvedic Consultations in which we take an in-depth look at your lifestyle, nutrition, health and emotional well-being and I make recommendations to you based on your Ayurvedic prakriti (natural born constitution) and vikruti (imbalance) to help you restore balance and harmony and bring you to perfect health! The cost is $300 for three sessions and includes a detailed report with nutritional advice and daily routine tools and techniques. Pre-paid consultations are non-refundable.  I see clients Monday through Friday in Reisterstown. You can contact me at to learn more or set up a session. 

There are many resources to learn about Ayurveda. I’ve listed a few below. Please feel free to contact me for more information and to learn about dates for upcoming classes and workshops.

breathe books, and now Susan’s Kitchen and Breathe Ayurveda have become a sort of Ayurveda-Central. My life has reached a new level of health and happiness because of Ayurveda. One of my missions is to share this with you.

I wish you a wonderful journey into Ayurveda. Please note, that if you would like me to come teach your group about Ayurveda or meditation, please contact me. I’m able to travel anywhere around the world to teach! It’s my Dharma.

 Individual Ayurvedic Consultations

Ayurveda is the 5000-year-old Indian Science of Health and Healing. Learn how to heal yourself through food, daily routine, pranayama, meditation and yoga.

Ayurveda says Food is Medicine.

You can change your life by incorporating Ayurvedic life-style tools and techniques into your daily routine. Even small adjustments can have a huge impact! Let me help you find the way. During a private consultation, we determine your dosha (mind/body constitution) through pulse diagnosis and questions and answers. We’ll take a deep look at your current balance and imbalances, see how your lifestyle works for or against you, and talk about what you can do about it! I work with you to create a plan to restore you to full harmony and balance. You’ll learn how to come back to your natural way of being through food choices and nutrition, daily routine, behavior, exercise, meditation, breath work, career choices, family lifestyle and more.

$300 for three pre-paid sessions. The first session is 1.5 hours, ($150) follow-up sessions are one hour each ($75 is pre-paid, $80 if not). Additional sessions are $80 an hour. Please call 410-979-2096, or email to schedule your appointment or to learn more! Clients are seen on Monday through Friday in Reisterstown. Phone, Skype and FaceTime appointments are also available. Pre-paid consultations are non-refundable.  Private cooking classes can also be arranged.  

Susan Weis-Bohlen is a Certified Instructor of Ayurveda through the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in California. She has also completed an Ayurvedic Pulse Reading Intensive with Dr. Vasant Lad at the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico. Susan studied and works with Ayurvedic cooking and lifestyle teacher Amadea Morningstar. Susan began practicing Ayurveda in 2007 and lost 50 pounds and lowered her cholesterol by 80 points.

Ayurvedic Resources: Please visit some of my favorite sites for more detailed information on Ayurveda:

You may also download a PDF of my Ayurvedic Resource Guide

Ayurvedic Education and Certifications for Susan Weis-Bohlen

August 2007: Chopra Center 5-Day Perfect Health Program/Panchakarma, Carlsbad, California. Studied with Dr. David Simon and Dr. Deepak Chopra, and various Chopra Center teachers.  Introductory Ayurvedic program

September 2007: Began personal Ayurvedic practice. I lost 50 pounds and my cholesterol dropped 80 points

March 2008: Ayurvedic Cooking and Life-style 5-day program with Amadea Morningstar, Kripalu, Stockbridge, Massachusetts

March 2008: Began self-study program of Ayurveda with guidance from Amadea Morningstar

April 2008: Chopra Center 5-day workshop: Seduction of Spirit Retreat, Austin, Texas.  Speakers included Dr. David Simon, Dr. Deepak Chopra; Dr. David Frawley

May 2008: Began Chopra Center Ayurvedic Certification Program

June 2008: Attended Chopra Center Journey into Healing Workshop, Boulder, Colorado

Speakers included: Dr. David Simon, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. David Frawley

July 2008: Panchakarma/Ayurvedic Counseling with Dr. John Douillard, Life Spa, Boulder, Colorado

November 2008: Awarded Chopra Center Perfect Health Teacher Certification, Carlsbad, California. Certification course included: Study of Charaka Samhita text; practical application of consultancy work; Ayurvedic daily routine; the doshas and sub doshas; the koshas; levels of consciousness; food as medicine; application of oils; Ayurveda and emotions; Ayurvedic Herbs; Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, Primordial Sound Meditation; Sanskrit proficiency exam.  Teachers included Dr. Deepak Chopra; Dr. David Simon; Dr. David Frawley

April 2009:  Panchakarma, Ayurvedic Institute, Dr. Vasant Lad and Ed Danaher. Attended 5 days of evening classes with Dr. Lad. Had an in-depth consultation with Dr. Lad in front of his students. Participated in lectures and yoga

October 2009: Completed Amadea Morningstar 7-day Ayurvedic Cooking and Life-Style Certification course, Santa Fe, New Mexico

June 2011: Chopra Center Journey into Healing Workshop, Asheville, North Carolina

Speakers included Dr. Deepak Chopra; Dr. David Frawley. I was also invited to speak at the conference, to tell my Ayurvedic journey

March 2011: NAMA Healthy Body, Healthy Brain Conference, Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Certificate of Participation Practicum:  Bhaya Snehana with Dr. Sunil Joshi. Attended lectures with: Mother Maya Tiwari; Pandit Rajmani Tigunait; Dr. Vasant Lad; Dr. Sunil Joshi; Vaigya Rama Kant Mishra; Dr. Christine Horner; Swamiji Chandrasekharanand Saraswati; Michael Mastro; Dr. John Douillard; Dr. Marianne Tietelbaum

April 2012: NAMA Healing People, Healing Communities Conference, Bellevue, Washington. Certificate of Participation in Practicum with Melanie Sachs, Ayurvedic Cooking and Light Miller, Women’s Rituals. Attended Lectures with: Dr. Vivek Shanbhag; David Crow; Dr. Claudia Welch; Dr. Marc Halpern; Melanie Sachs; Light Miller; Robert Sachs; Dr. Vasant Lad; Steven Highburger; Arun Deva; Michael Mastro; Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa; Paul Dugliss; Lisa Jeck

June 2012: Ayurvedic Pulse Intensive program, with Dr. Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Institute, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Received Certification of Completion

April 2013: NAMA Longevity through Ayurveda Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Attended lectures by: Amadea Morningstar, Dr. Sunil Joshi; Dr. David Frawley; Dr. Vasant Lad; Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary; Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa; Michael Mastro; Arun Deva; Jayarajan Kodikannath; Melanie Sachs; Robert Sachs; Prashanti de Jager; Eduardo Cardona-Sanclemente; Guru Ji Shree Sanjay Ji; Nomi Gallo (homa)

August 2014: Ayurvedic Treatments at The Raj Ayurvedic Center, Fairfield, Iowa

April 2015: AAPNA Conference on Consciousness and Ayurveda, Edison, New Jersey. Attended lectures by: Dr. Vasant Lad; Dr. David Halpern; Paul Dugliss; Acharya ‘Shunya’ Pratichi Mathur;  Acharya Devakrsnananda Avadhuth;  Swami Sadashiva Tirtha

September 2015: Will attend Chopra Center Teacher’s Retreat 2-day program with Dr. Deepak Chopra

November 1 – December 12, 2015: Will participate in a six-week Gurukula Ayruvedic clinical program in Pune, India with Dr. Vasat Lad.