126: Dr. Avanti Kumar-Singh – Can Your Body Heal Itself?

Why Dr. Avanti Kumar-Singh M.D. Left Traditional Medicine

Speaker 1: Welcome to the authors who lead podcast. This podcast is dedicated to you. People who want to be inspired by authors leaders and the messages they share. This is such an important podcast to us because we help uncover what goes on behind the scenes. When authors are writing their book, we talk about the process. We talk about where they get big ideas and you can listen in on those conversations. We can't wait for you to join us. So let's get started.

Speaker 2: Everybody else who will throw at us here from authors who lead, I'm thrilled to bring to you a dear friend and incredible leader, Avanti Kumar sings here. She's a physician who, after many years of medical training began a journey to find her joy again, and to help people truly heal. One of the codes that she mentioned in her book that actually thrilled me was you can quit your job, but you can't quit your calling. She went on to help with, with incredible heart, help people learn more about how they can actually heal their cells. We're gonna talk a little about that. She's now known as Chicago's premier thought leader and go to expert on our Aveda and her mission is to share these methods that transformed her life as many people as possible. And as she's teaching this incredible transformation that comes from her South Asian family, having Europe with Arvida and she deeply knows how it can impact people.

Speaker 2: So we're gonna talk a little bit about her book about what is this, what is IRA Veda, as well as the journey she's had as an author? I can't wait for you to learn more about Avanti. Welcome to the show. I'm so thrilled to be here as well. But what I really excited about is that we were just talking before we started recording how our paths have come together. And we think that at the time of this recording, that is actually two years almost to the date that we actually incredible serendipity that we met at Wales adult summer camp for, for, for people and hosted by Jonathan Fields and his family. And it was an incredible place up in upstate New York where, you know, incredible speakers would come together about all sorts of topics. And dr. [inaudible] was actually a speaker there. And I was so blown away by you about the, I went to your workshop because it was about healing yourself.

Speaker 2: And I hadn't really heard anyone talk about that and this way, and I'd never heard of IRA Aveda. I heard heard of yoga and in some practices around, around self healing, but I didn't know anything about IRA Veda. And when I walked into your workshop, I sat through it and I was like, Oh my goodness, why don't I know more about this? And I went and got my husband's Stevenson. You've got to come back to me with this workshop. I just attended it, but will you come to this one? And it blew me away. It was so powerful. The principles around IRA Aveda. So I want to start there before we even talk about the book, which is incredible. I want to talk about this notion of the health catalyst that your books titled after, and about how to harness the power by Aveda to self heal and achieve optimal wellness. Let's talk about that initial journey of where we met at camp GMP. And then we'll talk about your own personal journey to finding one it's because not too often, an MD will return to some traditional practices that they knew from their youth. So let's start, let's talk about that where we met.

Speaker 3: Yeah. So, I mean, it was a camp GLP good life project, and it was literally, I think I did the workshop three times that weekend and sort of the idea was that all the speakers would be campers as well with all of the participants so that we were around to be able to mingle and answer questions and all that kind of stuff, just like during meals and whatever. And you came to the first workshop and I remember we walked back to dinner together or lunch, one of the meals. And you started talking to me about Irv though. And then you came to the second one with your husband and you talked to me after, and it was the funniest thing because he said, have you ever thought about writing a book? And I didn't know what you did. I had no idea, you know, that you were a book coach or anything.

Speaker 3: You had never reveal that to me, we're just really interested in an IRB that I knew said to me, have you ever thought about writing a book of auntie? And I said, funny, you should ask me that. Yes. And we started a conversation from there because I actually had, you know, had this idea for, to write this book for about five years. So it was like three or four years before I met you. And I actually had kind of scribbled an outline already. So for you to ask me that question at that moment, when I was actually kind of ready to do it was of course, serendipity, you know, there's no coincidence is divine coincidence. Right. So, yeah, it was amazing. So yeah.

Speaker 2: Yeah, that was that wasn't I think I was so moved by your talk that I felt like the world should know these things and I felt, how could I not know? I felt a little bit ashamed. Like how do I not know about IRA Aveda? And I want you to talk about it a little bit, so that as we're speaking of these topics in your book, that people kind of get a sense of, well, what is it? So why don't we start before we even dive in? I thought it would be interesting before you talk about what I revealed is let's start with your story. So let's start with the idea that you are a medical professional. You come from a family of doctors and you're in a book, you do a beautiful job of painting the picture of that moment, where you decided enough is enough. Take us back to that moment and then we'll go back into what it is.

Speaker 3: Yeah. So, you know, I w I trained in emergency medicine and really, you know, I think it's a story that's very common among physicians and people who are in the healing professions, we're notoriously the worst to taking care of ourselves. And that was very true of me. You know, I went to medical school, I took seven years through medical school actually, because I had both my kids, I got married and had children during medical school. Most people thought I was a little nutty. My parents certainly were like, Oh my gosh. And you know, so I also had a very different perspective, but I, you know, had so many things going on in my life, how I was taking care of two kids. I was married. I had, you know, a really close knit, South Asian family. And I just, my body just started breaking down.

Speaker 3: You know, I just was not taking care of myself. I was on the go all the time. I was completely out of sync with like, with life in general, but also in nature. Right. And it was really, it came down to, I got so sick. I, you know, I had gained so much weight. I had plantar fasciitis. I had severe pain, headaches, GI issues, all of these things were happening and really sort of my knees on the floor moment was when I threw out my back for like the umpteenth time, just bending over to fold a blanket. And I couldn't move for five or six days. And I, for the first time in a very long time had this time where I couldn't move, I had couldn't do anything. I just had to lie in bed to recover. And a lot of time to think about sort of the state of my life and the state of my health, and really kind of had this moment of saying to myself, okay, Avanti, like, what's it going to be?

Speaker 3: Right. It was really that sort of moment. And it was at that time that I really decided that, you know, I had to do something different. So I started looking for answers really. And, you know, for my own health of like, you know, I'm a Western medical doctor and that's not helping me, so what am I missing? And so I really started reflecting on my life. I went back to what I needed, which is what I grew up with. I'm South Asian. I grew up in a family. That's very much, we followed so many IRA, the principles without me really understanding that that's what we were doing. But I think I really started reflecting on, you know, why is it that, you know, I'm in my thirties, I'm really young. I should be vibrant and, you know, be okay. Yeah, I'm tired and sleep deprived, but why am I so sick?

Speaker 3: And I realized that it was because my life was so different. As far as the routines, the way I was eating, the way I was living was so incredibly opposite to the way I had grown up doing things. And I really started to compare those things and realize that, Oh, it's really, it was all about my daily life, my daily routines. And I started to think about my mother, my parents, my grandfather, specifically, I, I wrote actually a lot about him in the book. And the fact that, you know, at the time I was in my thirties, my grandfather was 89 years old and or 88 years old had no medical problems. I mean, he lived in India. He was not on a single medication. Had never had a single medical problem, had no chronic illnesses, nothing at the age of 88, 89 years old.

Speaker 3: And I started reflecting on him and his life and the way he did things. And he lived a very [inaudible] life. And according to the IRA, the principles. So I thought, yeah, there's something there. So I started to dig deeper, you know, started to ask my mom questions, asked my family questions. My grandfather at the time, you know, was, had already passed away that I was reflecting on him in his life. So I started to questions. I started to read, I started to dig and I started to change small things that I could, and I over time began to heal. So, I mean, it's, it's really quite simple as far as the story goes. And I think because of that, I started to read more. I started to look deeper and at some point I decided, you know what, this is what I'm supposed to actually be doing. This is the medicine I was supposed to be practicing. And I feel like my grandfather was sort of nudging me in this direction. And so I just, I decided to listen. So yeah,

Speaker 2: It's incredible because you know, so much goes into committing yourself to it being a doctor, medical, Western physician, you know, and raising two children and being married, like it's a lot. So I'm sure it was a big turning point for your family, but also just to see your health turned around. And it was in that story, in that room. When I knew I had to go get Steve and come and sit in the session, because I had mentioned to you that, you know, my daughter had suffered from IBS and even some anxiety and that I was trying to help it. Doctor traditional medicine was just seeming like a path that kept bleeding down to another path of medication, another path of trials. And in my own journey, I think I told you, my goal is to commit, to not needing blood pressure medication. I've been working really hard on it.

Speaker 2: I still have to, I am not totally there, but I see my life shifting. I see the regularities in my schedule or my patterns in my life. It's not instant. It wasn't, it didn't happen instantly. So I don't expect it to heal instantly, but I really see how it's benefiting myself to learn. So let's help people understand what I rebated is because I was just as lost with what it was, as you know, aside from my, I heard it mentioned in yoga class, but I still didn't understand what they were referring to. So let's help listeners understand what is this practice that you're talking about that helps the body,

Speaker 3: Right? So I already have, as a sister science of yoga, they're actually, they come from the same basic texts and they actually are completely linked because Irv that uses yoga as one of the committees, right. And yoga actually fits into an Ayurvedic lifestyle. So they actually go together. And so many times, many people are introduced to IRA that through a yoga class or a yoga teacher, but they're not always clear on what it is. If I really had to sort of boil it down to its essence, I Ave the is about being instinct or being in harmony with nature, living your life, that way, Irv the incense, which actually means the science or knowledge of life. And so I really look at it as a manual for living manual for life. That's quite literally what it is. And the principle really comes from this idea that everything in the universe, including human beings are made of the same five elements.

Speaker 3: Okay. So air space, water, fire, and earth. And because we're all made of the same five elements and different combinations or different proportions, if you will, when we are in harmony with those elements, we have optimal per hotel. Right. And so it's all about how can you do that? You know, what are the ways to live in harmony with nature? And the way that I look at it and sort of explain is that there's sort of these three areas that you can, self-heal using these three areas, which is routines or intelligent routines as I call them diets and the tools of yoga. And I think because I kind of break it down to simple ways to think about it, it does become something that you can actually access. It's more accessible. It's more, it's something that you can actually incorporate into your life, which I think maybe is one of the things that you said to me is like, Oh, I understand how you can actually apply this, this information to my own life. So, yeah, so that would be like in a nutshell, what [inaudible],

Speaker 2: Well, that's great guesstimation because it is a quite complicated science and what I, when we started to work together and I started asking you questions, why I said, have you made this a book is because so many times there are texts out there by quote, let's say, quote experts, because experts, we needed the one known for the topic, but often texts by those experts are hard too, for the layman to digest and conceive how they can actually apply it to become more a textbook for practitioners and not really as useful for people who are trying to learn. And I knew that you really wanted this book to be useful for the people that they wouldn't get lost in jargon or lost in not being able to start. And I think that was a really strong premise that you really wanted this book. I mean, even trying to title this book and realizing we can't call it Rigveda because people won't know what it is. We have to find the title. We wrestled quite a bit with the title.

Speaker 3: That was a long discussion. I think it was like two or three calls for that, just trying to figure it out. And I remember we were wordsmithing words like, okay, this word goes in front of this one or this one. It was, yeah. You know, I think that actually, so, you know, the book really came out of the way that I was teaching. You know, I started in education of teaching my peers, colleagues speaking, I love to teach. And I started teaching medical students to introduce them to our Veeva and what happened over the course of that teaching in my own training in IRB and then yoga therapy and plant-based nutrition is that I found that I had a very natural ability to explain things to people. And so as I started doing my workshops, it was almost like those workshops became, they were the basis for this book.

Speaker 3: And, and so I think that's where it came from is that every time I would do a workshop or a talk, people would come up to me after and say, I've been so interested in this topic. I've never been able to understand it. And you just explained it to me in a way that I actually can use it. And then I would hear from people, you know, emailing me or coming to another lecture that I was doing and saying, I've been able to do X, Y, and Z since your last lecture. So I started taking notice of that. And I, I mean, I had been teaching and speaking, before I met you at camp, good life project for probably eight years already. So I've been doing this for a while. So I had a lot of data to work with, uh, feedback.

Speaker 2: Great. And I know it was important for you to have the blessings or the encouragement from your mentors. Dr. Reicher came to mind when I was thinking about this and that you didn't want to not honor the traditions and the practices of a very sacred and dense topic. What was that process? Like making sure that you didn't, you didn't put too much jargon, but you also didn't like water down the notions in here. How was that like for you and what, what does it feel like now we just talked about it before we came on, like having your book in your hand.

Speaker 3: Yeah. You know, it was, I know I, this is actually a topic. I think we talked about this a lot. I was really, really stressed about that and worried about that because I never want to, I didn't want to take away from the beauty of the sacred texts and sort of the wisdom. That's an Irv that, and water it down in any way. But I also realized that for this information to reach more people, and if that's what my role is, is, you know, using my, my MD, my platform of being able to then spread this information more and in a wider and wider platform, then I needed to find a way to bridge that gap, right. To go from, you know, the beauty, the power, the wisdom that's in these texts, and then translated into a way that's actually usable in modern life. Because, you know, I think it's also really important that you, one thing that I really thought about was my grandfather, you know, he lived till 89 because he was in a very controlled environment in India, most of his life, right.

Speaker 3: Where he could do all of the practices that are talked about in these Vedic texts. So of course he was able to live a very pure Ayurvedic lifestyle. That's not the case for most of us living in the West, you know? And so I really needed to think about if I want to make sure that that gets translated, how am I going to do that? And so I did talk with a lot of people who've been studying IRB for much longer than me. I mean, I trained in Western medicine. I did my own advanced training, but I will never profess to be as adept or as knowledgeable in IRB that to the depth set. Some of my mentors and teachers are, they've been learning since they were children or have learned, you know, been in India and, and studied for many, many years. So I really consulted with a lot of them and talk to them about the ideas I talked to them about, you know, sort of the way I was explaining things.

Speaker 3: And I really got feedback from them about, you know, how I was doing it and almost in a way, got their blessings on like, no, this is, you know, as long as you're clear on what you're trying to do, which is not to replace any of them in the sense of like giving the wisdom, like giving it an accessible way for beginners to start as a place to start with IRB that they were like, this is absolutely what you should be doing. This is what you were meant to do. So I, once I got that affirmation and that support for mentors of mine, I was like, okay, I'm good. Okay. Let's go. Then the writing, I think started speeding up because I wasn't so anxious about it.

Speaker 2: Right. And, you know, I know what's amazing is for those listening, the simple principles that really struck me, and I want to kind of illustrate my point was that to live in harmony with nature, which is something so foreign to humans. So it shouldn't be, we don't think of ourselves as part of nature, but the principles that really helped me that you explained to me where there are these reactions or ways you should respond to the way your body's feeling or the, the way your body is interacting with itself. So one of the things that I applied to myself, when I think about even my high blood pressure, it is, I like to be constantly moving in yoga, which, you know, if you haven't practiced yoga, one of the last things in often in many practices is the ms to be still in Shavasana July, still to accept all of these things.

Speaker 2: And one of the things that I realized was that I don't like Shabbat I'm moving is my thing, but for my blood pressure and for my state, that needs to be helped me. I need to learn to be calm and be still and apply practices to my life that aren't movement oriented, even though I find comfort in moving. So that's sort of the way I started. You're trying to apply some of your teachings from your book. And I read it into my life and realize in stillness, I find my blood pressure returning to a natural state, and I have to bring stillness with me in every situation, even the way in which I move through the room. I just didn't notice before I wasn't paying attention before, but I realized I'm in control of my blood pressure. I just have allowed it to be a different thing.

Speaker 2: I know that there's so many more analogies to make around this. So I want to, at one, thank you because I'm learning to listen to my body when I wasn't listening before and making sense of why I didn't like service. Everyone loved him. I was like, because in stillness is where I, I have a hardest time. And I realized that what I'm taking from being on my mat is that stillness needs to accompany me in my restlessness as part of the, I don't see it as anxiety, but it's an anxiousness in my body that reflects itself in high blood pressure. That's what I've learned.

Speaker 3: Right. And so I think the point that you're making also is really important is that, you know, I R V that is about conscious awareness. It's about just being aware, right? And that's actually the first place to start is just having an awareness of why you're doing what you're doing. What are the decisions, or maybe you don't know the why always, but what are the things that you're doing and actually just taking notice of that. And then you can start to apply these principles and you start to see patterns. You know, I recently did a Potter, a podcast episode for my own podcast on sort of this idea of balance. And I are Veeva and using the golden principle of like increases like an opposites reduced. And one of the things I talked about was, you know, a place to start, and this is something I usually do with a lot of the students and patients is that I'll have them just actually write down on a piece of paper, everything that they do over the course of the day.

Speaker 3: And just take a look at that and look at how much, for example, let's use your example, how much movement and how much stillness there is. Those are two opposite qualities. And just write that down, just look at, just look at that one opposite pair of qualities and assess like, is there tons of movement? Am I moving? Like most of the day is everything like lots of creativity. Am I running in the morning? And then am I doing, uh, you know, a flow class, a yoga full class in the evening, and then, you know, am I eating as I'm going, like I'm walking, right. That's or, or do I speak really fast? What's happening? Am I moving from task to task to task? That's so much movement that just writing that down on a piece of paper gives you so much awareness that it's like, what you said. You're like, Oh wow, I'm moving all the time. Maybe I just need to slow down a little bit. And it's amazing what can happen just from that awareness, because you carry that into everything you do. Like you're saying you started to notice that you just needed to do things a little slower, you know, slow down in every aspect. So, yeah.

Speaker 2: Yeah. So those, the, the balancing part of viral beta let's think you did a beautiful job in the book giving case studies. So giving examples, so someone's listening, maybe, maybe they don't have my struggle with the blood pressure and the movement. Well, let's pick something that maybe anxiety is a good example in the book, but let's pick something. We can walk someone through what the symptoms might be and what might be some of the ways in which you can help people observe simple habits and how I renovate it might help start to use the principles to heal themselves through some of these behaviors.

Speaker 3: Sure. Well, we're in August right now, as we're recording this and we'll talk about summer and sort of the idea let's apply how this principle works. So the summer time is really the elements of fire. There's lots of heat. That's pretty obvious, right? And so with so much heat that is outside, that's going to reflect what's inside, you know, an IRB that we say that we are a microcosm of the macrocosm. So what is outside of us is also inside of us. So as the heat is rising, there's increased fire, increased heat in the environment, in the natural world. There's also going to be heat that will start to accumulate within us. Now over the course of summer, if we don't find ways to constantly balance that heat with cooling types of things, practices, diet, routines, tools of yoga, right? To balance out that heat.

Speaker 3: By the end of summer, around this time, you know, beginning of August, you start to have symptoms that have the quality of fire and heat. So for example, some of those things might be, you know, do you have a lot of irritability? Are you really irritable? And really, really worked up by the end of the summer, is your mood just sort of irritable? Are you having a lot of rashes that are coming out acne, right? That's like fire trying to escape the body quite literally. Do you have a lot of GI symptoms, acid reflux, those kinds of things. Do you have a lot of injuries? Right? These are all symptoms that have the qualities of fire that had the qualities of being hot and sharp. And that is the same as the summer time of what's in nature. So you can see how, because of the accumulated heat within the body, these symptoms are starting to show up. So that just shows you that there's too much fire. And that if you actually can start to balance that out, you can reduce those symptoms. And if all along during the summer, you had been balancing that heat. You probably wouldn't be having these types of symptoms by the end of summer.

Speaker 2: That's amazing. Yes. Well, let's talk about some of the things you could do that those were great examples. Many people are probably thinking, Oh gosh, I have head rashes. I thought it was heat rash. You're like, you might be on the right track. Let's talk about, so what are the things that you can do that would help balance that fire from? Yeah.

Speaker 3: Yeah. So, you know, let's, we'll, we'll go through it through the three areas of remedies that I kind of talk about, which is the first is routines. Then we'll talk about diet and then we can talk about the tools of yoga. And I'll just give you simple examples, like really quickly. So as far as routines go, right, you know, really simple things like just, don't be outside in the middle of the day when it's the hottest time. Right. So you really want to be outside when it's cool, adjust your schedule. You know, if you are doing a lot of running or exercising, don't do it in the middle of the day, try and adjust it so that you're doing it in the early morning when it's a little bit cooler or in the evening. Right. So that's living in harmony. So that's one really simple way to sort of, you want to beat the heat, right?

Speaker 3: And reduce that heat. As far as your routines go, you know, a simple thing with diet, right? Irv that is actually where this concept of seasonal eating comes from. And the idea is that, you know, mother nature is so much more intelligent than we are. So it provides the food that we need throughout the year to help us balance naturally. So in the summer, right, we have all these fruits and vegetables that have a higher sugar content that have, you know, some natural sweetness have a lot of water in them. That's all to cool the body down. So you want to adjust your diet again, have more of those fruits and vegetables that have a higher water content in the summer that will naturally cool you down. You don't want to be doing things like eating, you know, spicy, greasy, heavy sugar, like added sugar types of foods in the summertime, because those all have the qualities of hot and sharp.

Speaker 3: They have qualities of fire. So they'll just increase the heat that you have. So that's a very simple one for his diet. And then as far as the tools of yoga, you know, again, it's actually goes back to what you were talking about earlier, when you were talking about your blood pressure, you know, in the heat. It's very easy. You know, I, I talked about, I have a lot of people, especially in Chicago, there's like, there's runs marathons every weekend. Well, not this year, but usually, and I have a lot of people who will come in, who are injuring themselves, who are having all of these symptoms that we talked about by, you know, the mid to the end of the summer, because they're training outside. And so I always ask them, you know, are you doing anything besides running? Or like, what do you mean?

Speaker 3: They looked at me like I have five heads. They're like, no, I'm just running I'm training. And like, well, here's the thing you might want to balance that out with something a little bit slower, you know, something that's a little bit more grounding. So get on the floor, do some restorative yoga, some yoga nidra, you know, do some just gentle stretching. You want to do some things that are slow, that slow you down a little bit. And not for example, do a Vinyasa flow class or do a hot yoga class. That's just going to increase the heat. So again, it's not that you necessarily have to stop doing things. It's just start to become aware and balance those things according to the seasons. So that's one example that makes sense. So those are some simple things that you could do.

Speaker 2: You also, these are great. You also mentioned a lot about routines. I mean, one of the reasons why I get up and have hot lemon water, the reasons why creating a really regular schedule for my body and I do my meditation and yoga, even if it's short in the morning is I I'm finding balance in routine. Let's talk about that because I'm one of those people that eat, you know, as I'm cooking, as I'm moving, like, because I was a teacher for so many years, that's a really bad practice in the U S where lunch is 20 minutes. And then you only have five minutes to eat if you're going to do anything else. Whereas in Europe, you know, lunch is an hour and a half hour, 45 minutes. There's no rushing through lunch. They don't do, I have a bad habit of rushing through meals. And so one of the things you talk about is habits as part of the routines you create to help build in structure for applying these notions to your daily life. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Speaker 3: Yeah. You know, routines are actually the foundation of an IRA, that lifestyle, you know, I can't tell you the number of times that I'll start a workshop. And the first question that I get is, you know, dr. Carson, are you going to tell us what to eat? Like, are you going to give us, uh, a list of foods that are good to eat? And I'm always hesitant to say yes, because I'm not going to, because that's actually not the most important thing, you know, in Irv that we really focus in on first, helping people look at their routines and adjust their daily routines. So I really stress that, that is sort of foundation of an Ayurvedic lifestyle. And so, you know, you can start with simple things. I mean, really the reason that routines are so helpful is that it indicates to your system, to your body, your mind, your spirit, that you can be at ease, right.

Speaker 3: You know, there's this stress response that we are constantly in this sort of battle between the two branches of our nervous system, which is the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system. And the sympathetic nervous system is our stress response in modern life. We are constantly in a stress response, but then Mount of information coming at us, the amount of different things we're doing, you know, there's a lot of stress. And so we are constantly in a state of increased activity in our nervous system. And we weren't designed to be like that. We need those times of parasympathetic relaxation. And by just having a regular routine, you actually start to move yourself, your whole system into that parasympathetic state, which then actually translates into more health. We know that stress is probably one of the number one issues or is linked pretty much every chronic illness that we know of there is that the component of stress and inflammation that is caused by stress.

Speaker 3: So you can always, you know, basically look back from any symptom and you'll end up at stress and inflammation. So how can we create more relaxation and a decreased stress response routines are a really, really wonderful way to do that. And it's what we've been doing in IRB that for 5,000 years, that it really works. So just becoming aware of that. Again, I talked about that before that Irv though is about becoming aware, just becoming aware of the fact. You need to find some way to add some structure to your day, to your routines, some rhythm, you know, a daily rhythm that's important. And I would say that the most, some simple ways to do that is to first look at, you know, what time are you going to bed? Whichever you waking up, can you create some regularity around that? And then start to look at your mealtimes. Are you eating at regular times of the day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, can you create some regularity around your mealtimes? So those are two good places just to start to make the changes as far as routines go

Speaker 2: So helpful. I mean, maybe we'll have one more chance for it. An example of a patient or somebody you've worked with how applying these principles has helped them with some of their chronic illnesses. And I really want to inspire people who are listening to think about their health and how powerful the human body is. Your body was designed to heal itself. We know these principles because if you cut your hand and you watch yourself, your body heal like the scabs over, and it begins to heal. We know this in our mind that we can heal ourselves, but we don't apply it to all areas of our life. Like, of course our skin is going to heal, but we don't think of our, the rest of our body healing. What's an example of somebody who's come to you with some sort of illness and how the principles that you've helped them apply, help them get through to a more healthy place.

Speaker 3: So, you know, I've had a few patients. I mean, there are many, but there's a few that I'm thinking of and I'll think of somebody specific. And she is, I'll call her just to preserve her anonymity. I'll call her Kate. And Caitlin is a 43 year old woman who came to me and she was having a lot of issues with weight gain was one of her issues that she felt was really distressing her. But as we talked more, I uncovered more about the fact that, you know, she was also having a lot of stomach pain, a lot of bloating GI symptoms that she just was having this discomfort all the time. She would go to bed with discomfort in her belly and wake up feeling sort of heavy all the time. And that really was sort of gave me some more indications. So in sessions was that she was eating at all the wrong times of the day.

Speaker 3: This seems very, very pedestrian, but it's actually really true. So I asked her, you know, what are you eating? What time are you eating? When are you eating? And really, I discovered that she was eating these very heavy meals, complex meals. They weren't too late at night. It was actually around six 37 o'clock, which we say an IRB that you should try and eat before 7:00 PM, but it was what she was eating. And it wasn't specifically like the exact food. It was the kinds of foods that she was eating for dinner. She was preparing dinner for her family and she was, they were eating a lot of heavier proteins, animal proteins. You know, IRA does is not that it has to be vegetarian, but they were eating a lot of protein sources for their evening meal. And she was always having a salad. So now this is an example of a woman who thought she was eating a really healthy meal, which on its face, right.

Speaker 3: Having, you know, a piece of protein with some raw vegetables is quite healthy. It's just that she was doing it at nighttime. Now, the thing is, is that we just, all I did was say to her, have that meal at lunchtime instead in the middle of the day. And let's talk. That was the main thing that I asked her to do before our next session, which was a month later. And she messaged me about three weeks in and said, I don't know how to explain this, but I feel so much better. And it was just the simple tweak of taking that same meal, that she was eating a dinner time and moving it to lunchtime that made all the difference. And the reason is that again, she was more in harmony with nature. The way that we think about what to eat when during the day is that you eat your heaviest meal in the middle of the day, because that's when your digestive fire is at its highest.

Speaker 3: So it can deal with the most complex types of foods that are hard to break down proteins and raw vegetables that takes a lot more work for your digestion to break down and then assimilate in use. So if you do it, when you're at the fire is the strongest in the middle of the day, your body has an easier time using that, that food in the morning and the evening, your digestion isn't as strong. It's sort of like the way I tell people to think about this is that think about the path of the sun, right? It's just rising in the morning. It's not so strong in the middle of the day, it's at its highest point. It's at its hottest. And then it starts to set and it gets less hot, right? So again, we are a microcosm of the macrocosm, right? So our internal digestive fire follows the path of the sun.

Speaker 3: And so, because she was eating that complex Neal that was difficult to digest at the end of the day, when her digestion wasn't as strong, she was developing symptoms. When she just made that small adjustment, her symptoms started to go down. They didn't go down the, I mean, it wasn't like they disappeared in magically in three weeks or anything. Because again, as you said, these symptoms, these things take time to develop. They're going to take time to go away also, but she did feel significantly different and significantly better just by making that one, one shift. So, right.

Speaker 2: That's a great example. And I really appreciate the way that you've explained. I renovated the way that you're helping people. You know, let's talk for a few minutes before we end up about the process of writing a book, because working with me, I always tell people, look, this is not going to be traditional. This is probably going to be the opposite of the way that you think about writing a book. Most people think the best way to tackle it as created an outline. And I'm going to convince you that you need to start sort of differently. And so let's talk about the book writing process. What was it like for you obviously very well. It's getting to spend a lot of time in academia. This is sort of pushes against the academic notions of writing and it pushes you into an uncomfortable place, but let's talk about the process. What was it like for you to begin to write this book? I mean, there's a lot of content, obviously you've taught a lot of these principles over the years, but getting into a book as a different

Speaker 3: Yeah. You know, it's very much that I think it's, I came from such an academic perspective. And when I thought about a book, it was like almost like writing a thesis or a research paper or dissertation or something. And it wasn't that I, you know, I always wanted it to be as simple and the small book that was easy to access and take around with you. But I remember you saying to me, when I first sent you an outline, because of course I'm a very linear thinker and you said to me, something along the lines of like, this is great, but where are you in this? Like, I don't see you Avanti. And I was, huh, what are you talking about? Because I hadn't really added any of the personal stories when I first started. And you really pushed me to add that whole section and to really write about my personal stories and really get into it. So I remember feeling very uncomfortable, sort of like, well, I'm not sure if I should be freely sharing so much about myself, this is about the person who's reading it. So I remember that was a difficult piece for me at first.

Speaker 2: Yeah. I know it's difficult for most authors because they're like, no, this is about the reader. I'm like, they need you to be in there because it's not a textbook. It's not that this is, that's what struck me so much. When you told the story of staring up at this ceiling tiles at the workshop that was like that it hooked me into trusting, believing, and yet having an incredible amount of empathy for where you were. And then also having that for myself. Like if this is a medical doctor, who's feeling this and experiencing not wellness, um, then I can understand why I might not be able to have wellness because I'm not, I don't have the tools. So that's why I thought it was so important that you put it there.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Yeah. And I remember you saying to me, and then I wrote those stories and you said to me, I just, you know, I think I really appreciated. I actually, in my acknowledgements, I thanked you. And I said, you were the book whisper because I really do believe that because you, you were so able to sort of figure out how to get me where I needed to go. And sort of like, you figured out how to speak in a language that I could understand and give me examples or give me exercises to do, to push me in the direction when I was feeling sort of that writer's block. So I remember with those stories, I still, it, because it's different when you speak them than when you write them, right? Because you have body language, there's intonation of your voice. You can be so much more expressive in a different way.

Speaker 3: And when you're writing it, you have to write in a different way. And I don't think I totally understood that. And you said to me, I remember you saying this to me. He said, okay, I want you to picture it's a movie. And how would you describe what was happening if it was just a movie and you couldn't say anything, I want you to write those words down. I was like, Oh, and all of a sudden, because I'm so visual. It totally made sense to me. And so I did that. And the other thing that you helped me with is that I was initially having a hard time just writing things. I kept erase it, like, you know, deleting and going back. Cause I'm such a perfectionist. And you said, I want you to just speak it. Because again, you tapped into the idea that, you know, I speak all the time and I teach and you, I think you said to me, you told that story so beautifully in the workshop.

Speaker 3: I want you to do that here. And I was trying to write it and you said, Avanti, speak it into your phone. And you like sent me the, the exact app to use. And you said, this is how you're going to do it. And so I literally would sit in the car when I was thinking of my daughter, who was in high school at the time and had so many activities and I was sitting in the car and just for 15 minutes, I would just start blabbing away on some story that I thought of. And many of those became part of the book we would transcribe. And you just, you created a process for me that worked for me and I really appreciated that. So that was one of the things.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And I really appreciate you trusting that process. Even down to the title we wrestled with calling it, stock, optimal health, all these things. And then the health catalyst just felt right. And the most beautiful thing was someone that I, I, I mentioned this book too, and I read the title to the health catalyst, how to harness the power IRA, Aveda to self heal and achieve optimal wellness. You're like, Oh my God, that says exactly what's in the book and what I get. And I was like, so grateful cause you and I wrestled so long, like trying to get the right words so that people would get what this book is and not get lost or confused. And that was so grateful because I didn't prompt them. They just said, Oh, that's so good. I was explaining titling. And I was like, this isn't an easy process. Titling is one of the most difficult things in the book journey. So I want, I want to commend you for wrestling that to the ground. Cause it was no easy.

Speaker 3: No, it was, it was really hard. And I think I only used that term a few times somewhere in the book and we were able to pull it out and then really kind of work it back in and a little bit more of a strong way once we decided the title. So I think that was, that was really helpful too. Yeah. I feel like that process was one of the hardest was coming up with the title. Yeah.

Speaker 2: If anyone's listening here who thinks they might have a book in them or they've been told as you write a book, what advice would you give them?

Speaker 3: I would say do it for sure. And I would say get someone to help you, especially if you have just a lot of things going on. I think that I know that I could have done this myself, but it would have taken so long and who knows when I would've been able to get to it. But I think having someone leading me through the process, coaching me through the process and then helping me get past those stuck points, made the process so much more fun and just rewarding in a way, because I learned a lot about myself also in the process, which I think was really wonderful. So I would say definitely do it. Definitely take the leap. If you have something important to say, do it or that you want to share with the world and have someone help you. Because I think that, that it just helps you keep moving along the process and not allowing yourself to get stuck and stay stuck.

Speaker 2: Great. That's awesome advice. I know I have to get help when my books, I don't, I wish I could help coach myself. I can't, I have to get help. So that's, that's great advice. Well, the health catalyst is available anywhere. You can buy books, but where else can we send people to get to know more about you?

Speaker 3: Yeah, and well, so my website would be a great place. There's tons of resources, lots of ways to

Speaker 2: Learn about me and my work. And that's Avanti Kumar saying.com the other place. That's a really great place to hang out with me is on Instagram. I'm there a lot. And so, you know, you can DM me. I post a lot of great information. I have a podcast which is linked in Instagram, it's called the health catalyst or the healing catalyst, sorry, the health catalyst. So that's available on iTunes and Spotify, wherever you listen to podcasts, but you can access that through my website as well. Awesome. We're going to link all of that into the show notes so that they can find you. I know I've led many people there to discover the power of our Aveda Avante. Thank you so much for being our guest. That's such a joy. I feel like a proud coach or a pop-up seeing the book arrive and seeing it in my hands and then knowing it's in yours. And it's such a great joy to know that people have so much health and healing from your work. Thanks for being here. And we look forward to hearing more about you and go read the book, buy it, get the health catalyst cause you need it just as I do. And again, thank you for listening to the podcasts. If you haven't subscribed, please do please leave an honest review. It helps us all know about how we're doing here, but also spreads the message of this incredible platform. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you

Speaker 1: For listening again, to another episode of authors who lead, we appreciate you being here and we hope you subscribe. So you get this delivered to your device every week. And if you haven't left us a review, please do so. It really helps. And if you have a book in your heart, you've been wanting to write a book. Please go to authors who lead.com and join us on this journey of becoming a published author.

Dr. Avanti Kumar-Singh is a speaker, author, physician, and Ayurveda expert. Praised as a “Wellness Innovator,” Dr. Kumar-Singh challenges medical professionals at all stages of their career to redefine their roles to become heart-centered, healing catalysts that practice what she calls true medicine. 

Throughout her 20 years of practicing Western medicine, Dr. Kumar Singh has also studied traditional, ancient healing practices of the East, with a focus on Ayurveda, which she now teaches to students and holistic practitioners across the world. 

In The Healing Catalyst Podcast, Dr. Kumar Singh is demystifying Ayurveda and other integrated medicine, showing how these simple, ancient practices are the key to unlocking a healthy modern life.

She is leading a movement to empower patients to heal themselves and presents on a wide range of topics at the intersections of women’s health, integrative medicine, traditional healing systems, meditation, yoga, lifestyle, and nutrition.

What We Discuss with Avanti Kumar-Singh, MD:

  • How she got into Ayurvedic medicine being a Western medical doctor
  • What is Ayurveda?
  • Finding the right title for the book
  • Her book writing process
  • The importance of conscious awareness
  • How Ayurveda can help heal your body
  • The 3 areas of remedies
  • The concept of seasonal eating
  • Developing habits from routines

[05:16] How She Got Into Ayurvedic Medicine Being a Western Medical Doctor

Avanti trained in Emergency Medicine. And it’s common among physicians and people in healing professions to be worst in taking care of themselves. Avanti’s body just started breaking down as she was not taking care of herself. She got so sick and gained so much weight. She began to experience different bodily illnesses until she got to a point where she couldn’t move for several days. It was at that moment that she decided to do something different.

Avanti started reflecting on her life and she traced it back to her family in South Asia who practiced many ayurvedic principles.

She realized her lifestyle was just so way different from her lifestyle growing up. It was all about her daily routines. And seeing her grandpa at 89 years old without any single medical problem, and knowing he was living an ayurvedic life, Avanti knew there was something in it. 

She started to ask questions, read, research, and eventually change small things that she could begin to heal over time. At that point, she knew it was the kind of medicine she was supposed to be practicing. 

[11:27] What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a sister science of yoga, which comes from the same Vedic texts. They are completely linked because Ayurveda uses yoga as one of the amenities and yoga actually fits into an Ayurvedic lifestyle. So they actually go together. 

Many times, many people are introduced to Ayurveda through a yoga class or a yoga teacher, but they’re not always clear on what it is. 

Ayurveda is about being in sync, or being in harmony with nature. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means the science or knowledge of life. You can look at it as a manual for life. 

The principle comes from this idea that everything in the universe, including human beings, are made of the same five elements – air space, water, fire, and earth. And when we are in harmony with those elements, we have optimal, perfect health.

[21:48] The Principles of Ayurveda

The first place to start is just having an awareness of why you’re doing what you’re doing. What are the decisions? Just take notice of what you’re doing. Then you can start to apply these principles and begin to see patterns. 

Ayurveda is about conscious awareness. It’s about just being aware.

Look at how much movement and how much stillness – two opposite qualities – you have in your life. And just write that down. Having that sense of awareness will allow you to carry that into everything you do.

[25:09] How Ayurveda Can Help Heal Your Body

Summertime is the element of fire, where there’s a lot of heat. So much heat outside is going to reflect what’s inside. As the heat is rising, there’s increased heat in the environment in the natural world, there’s also going to be heat starting to accumulate within us. 

In Ayurveda, we are a microcosm of the macrocosm – what is outside of us is also inside of us. 

Over the course of the summer, if we don’t find ways to constantly balance that heat with cooling types of practices, diet routines, and tools of yoga to balance out that heat, you start to have symptoms that have the quality of fire and heat by the end of summer. Because of the accumulated heat within the body, the symptoms are starting to show up.

Some of those symptoms might be irritability, rashes, acne, GI symptoms, acid reflux, injuries, etc. These are all symptoms that have the qualities of fire. And that is the same as the summertime of what’s in nature. If you start to balance that out, you can reduce those symptoms. And if all along during the summer, you had been balancing that heat, you probably wouldn’t be having these types of symptoms by the end of summer. 

[28:57] The 3 Areas of Remedies
  • Routines – Don’t be outside in the middle of the day when it’s the hottest time. Be outside when it’s cool.  
  • Diet – Ayurveda is where this concept of seasonal eating comes from. Mother Nature provides the food that we need throughout the year to help us balance naturally. So in the summer, we have all these fruits and vegetables that have a lot of water in them to cool the body down. 
  • The tools of yoga – Get on the floor, or do some restorative yoga. Do some just gentle stretching. Do some things that slow you down a little bit. Doing a vinyasa flow class, or a hot yoga class is going to increase the heat. It’s not that you necessarily have to stop doing things, just start to become aware and balance those things, according to the seasons. 

[33:12] Developing Habits From Routines

Routines are so helpful because it indicates to your system, to your body, your mind, your spirit, that you can be at ease. In modern life, we are constantly in a stress response with the amount of information coming at us. 

We are constantly in a state of increased activity in our nervous system. We weren’t designed to be like that so we need those times of relaxation. By having a regular routine, you start to move your whole system into that parasympathetic state, which then actually translates into more health.

Routines are the foundation of an Ayurvedic lifestyle. 

Stress is probably one of the number one issues or is linked pretty much to every chronic illness that we know of. And in order to create more relaxation and decreased stress response, routines are a wonderful way to do that. 

[37:18] Following the Path of Nature

For example, when you’re fire is the strongest in the middle of the day, your body has an easier time using the heavier proteins (ex. meat) in the morning. In the evening. your digestion isn’t as strong. 

Think about this as the path of the sun. When it’s rising in the morning, it’s not so strong. In the middle of the day, it’s at its hottest. When it starts to set, it gets less hot. Again, we are a microcosm of the macrocosm. So our internal digestive fire follows the path of the sun. 

[42:49] Avanti’s Book Writing Process

Avanti initially struggled with writing at first but then she began writing stories. And writing stories is different from when you speak them because you have body language. There’s the intonation of your voice. You can be so much more expressive in a different way. And when you’re writing it, you have to write in a different way. But one of the hardest things for her was coming up with the title.

Take the leap if you have something important to say.

Finally, Avanti advises aspiring authors to do it and get someone to help you. Having someone to lead you through the process and help you get past the stuck points will make this process so much fun.

Episode Resources:


Follow Avanti on:

Instagram @avantikumarsingh and LinkedIn @avanti-kumar-singh-md

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