Time flies when you’re fully-engaged, and somehow I’ve collected 13 years experience practicing, teaching and writing on Ayurveda–yoga’s sister-science of healing. It’s been an amazing journey, and there is no end in sight! Because Ayurveda assesses each person’s complete individual nature and needs, and works with all the senses – plus the mind – it’s the ONLY truly holistic approach to healing and living I’ve ever been introduced to. Ayurveda holds the keys–a set of reference points, really–that really unlock how each of us can live in harmony with our own true nature, and with Mother Nature.
Originally, I met Ayurveda in India about 30 years ago, but I have to admit – it wasn’t love at first sight! For two years in the early 80′s, I lived in the very same ashram Elizabeth Gilbert visited about 20 years later, the ashram she wrote about in her book – Eat, Pray, Love. In my first years in India, I noticed Ayurveda everywhere, but all I really saw was a pleasing green soap, spicy toothpaste, hair-grooming oils and powdered herb mixtures I had no idea what to do with. I did learn some basic Ayurvedic principles of digestion, food-combining and self-care from my guru, but honestly, I was much more interested in exploring the potential of human experience through yoga, Indian philosophy. service, sacred music and the power of devotion, than I was in Ayurveda. This was a very rich, blessed time in my young (healthy!) life, working and learning with people from all over the world while immersing myself in early morning meditation, preparing foods and spices, mantra repetition and the beautiful, traditional culture of Maharashtra, India.
It was only later–when I became ill–OK, possibly from over-enthusiastically drinking down ladels filled with the sweet holy water that flowed from even the tiniest grungy little temples all over Northern India–that I became interested in my health. As my guru had pointedly said, “It’s hard to meditate when you have a stomachache.”
I sought cures in western medicine, acupuncture – I even tried ‘apitherapy’ (look it up!) – and spent tons of time and money on a wide spectrum of alternative practitioners, diets, remedies and treatments. Almost everything seemed to help–for a day or two… I just couldn’t stabilize in being healthy and productive, no matter which doctor I tried, or what healing system I submitted myself to.
I continue to explore the treasures of Ayurveda, Siddha Vaidya and Yoga, and never cease to be amazed to find that the very clear concepts and natural technologies for living and healing–spelled out thousands of years ago by wise sages, healers and teachers–are so practically valuable for women today.”
Niika has been a frequent contributor to Yoga Journal Magazine, her stories appearing internationally. Her writings have also appeared in UTNE Reader, Natural Health Magazine and other publications.Often consulted as an expert on Ayurveda, Niika’s quotes have appeared in Natural Health Magazine, Mother & Baby India Magazine and on numerous websites such as on iVillage.com, LiveStrong.com and Mothering.com.
Niika is a passionate, entertaining and practical presenter. Her multi-sensory and thought-provoking lectures, workshops, retreats and yoga teacher-training segments bring India’s ancient wisdom to life in places like Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, New York, Rancho la Puerta in Tecate, Mexico, and Rasa Ayurveda Traditional Healing Centre for Women, in Kerala, India. She’s enjoyed presenting to groups as diverse as the Holistic Moms Network, New Jersey prep school teachers, Danish animation students, Northern California Pacific Gas & Electric linesmen, elementary school students, as well as yoga students, and women of all backgrounds in conferences and other gatherings.
In 2007, with the participation of her adopted Malayalee brother and business partner, Sanjeev ‘Sanju’ Kumar, Niika founded Rasa Ayurveda Traditional Healing Centre for Women, realizing her vision of a traditional residential Ayurvedic clinic that would offer women from all over the world a place dedicated to reconnection with self, Nature and the traditional technologies of sensory nourishment.
Niika is also founder of The Muthashi Project, an outreach program designed to inspire younger Malayalee women to continue the age-old practice of recognizing and using native plants as medicine.
Niika often returns in the U.S. to teach Ayurveda to Western women who want to enjoy the practical benefits ancient Ayurveda offers us all for living well in these times.
Niika is a member of NAMA – the National Ayurvedic Medical Association.