I am beyond excited to share this blog post and interview with you guys. You already know that I don’t believe anything is an accident, so trust me when I say this brilliant man was introduced to me and it was no less than divine interference. Johann Helf of Lotus Blooming Herbs, is a Ayurvedic Practitioner and the man responsible for bringing the most authentic shilajit to the US and he is an incredible wealth of knowledge when it comes to restoring us to our natural vitality. Check out our fun interview on Eat with Intention LIVE on facebook below and dive deeper with our more in depth interview below as well as the recipes for our ‘miracle elixirs’ on todays show!
Have you always been involved in Ayurveda? How did your relationship and knowledge develop and what sparked your deep interest?
I came to Ayurveda through other healing modalities. In the mid 90’s I became very interested in Tibetan medicine. I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Yeshe Dhonden (former personal physician to His Holiness the Dalai Lama) when he was touring the United States. I later lived in Dharamsala in the foothills of the Himalayas and spent some time volunteering and studying with Dr. Dhonden and several other masters. It was at this time that I was first introduced to shilajit through a Yogi who was staying in this area. In 2003 I studied a family system of Chinese medicine with Paul Pitchford, author of Healing With Whole Foods. One day in class he mentioned shilajit but he believed it to be a mystical and legendary substance that probably didn’t exist. I told Paul that I had had the real thing and he was certain I had tried one of the imitations. This also fueled my desire to find genuine shilajit and prove to Paul that it was indeed a real substance. Paul now uses my shilajit with a great many of his clients!
When I went back to India for meditation practice and to search for shilajit, I started meeting with and learning from different Ayurvedic Doctors. I fell in love with Ayurveda and was able to see how both the Tibetan and Chinese systems of medicine had evolved out of Ayurveda. I now assist and learn from a brilliant Ayurvedic doctor, Dr. Jayant Lokhande, and take blessings and instruction from our master in India Dr. Ganesh Shinde. I have also studied with and received my Ayurvedic Practitioner designation under Dr. Paul Dugliss, who is a wonderful and insightful teacher here in the USA at New World Ayurveda. Dr. Dugliss was able to really explain the consciousness model of Ayurveda in a way my western mind could make sense of.
Your company, Lotus Blooming Herbs focuses on a particular branch of Ayurveda called Rasayana, what makes this branch particularly dear to you? Can you tell readers who have never heard of it a little bit more about it?
Rasayana therapy is an Ayurvedic system of rejuvenation. Its purpose is systemic revitalization of body and mind. It is especially suited to the present era as we are so depleted due to toxins, stress, greed, anger and materialism. It should be emphasized that true rasayana therapy must have an authentic form of meditation at its center. Meditation is the ultimate medicine! The two products we provide at Lotus Blooming Herbs support rejuvenation and are both very important rasayanas in Ayurveda. They are very powerful yet safe to take on a daily basis to supplement the diet and promote wellness of body and mind. Many Ayurvedic medicines are today sold as dietary supplements but really ought to be administered by a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner. Not everyone should take these medicines and they can have detrimental effects if not used correctly and in proper combinations with other herbs. Conversely there are very few people today who would not benefit from the deep rejuvenation of rasayanas. Both chyawanprash and shilajit are safe and helpful for people who are experiencing stress and fatigue or need to build stamina and strength. One of the names for shilajit is “The Destroyer of Weakness”!
I love, love, love the fact that you learned about shilajit from a yogi on a mountain in India! Please tell us more about that magical encounter and it’s effects on propelling you towards what you offer today.
Well! It’s a long story. The short version is that I was living in the foothills outside of Dharamsala and there was a yogi in the area who had recently finished a very long cave retreat. These types of masters are rare and I really wanted to meet him. I bought him a chai one day and we became friends. We would meet and talk and drink chai and one day he pulled out one of those plastic film containers with this black gooey tar inside and put some in my tea. I tasted it and was immediately obsessed. I felt connected with this substance. I experienced a calm clear energy vibrating in my skin. The yogi taught me about shilajit from a more spiritual and esoteric perspective. Many yogis carry shilajit as part of their kit for long meditation retreats. For them it is a divine substance and not merely for nutrition and physical health. In mystic teachings shilajit is connected with Lord Shiva and the creation of the universe. There is so much more to this story but probably better suited to our Facebook live conversation!
One of my favorite things about both the shilajit and chyawanprash is that I feel like both become really beautiful daily rituals for your health and vitality. What’s your personal morning routine and how do they both weave in to it?
These days I am most concerned with my spiritual fitness rather than my physical health but I do have Chyawanprash every morning and shilajit 2 or 3 times a week. Other than that I don’t take any supplements unless I am dealing with a specific imbalance. A wise man once told me, “Mind matters most!” so I try to practice Vipassana meditation every morning and I pray that all beings be happy, peaceful and free. So my morning ritual is mainly focused on my mind and reminding myself what is important in this short life. I try to promote an “attitude of gratitude” and this sets up my day for less negativity and more happiness.
I practice Iyengar Yoga about 5 mornings a week before eating any food. After yoga I often eat at the Krishna Temple in Culver City because the food there is non violent and made with love by the monks who chant devotional prayers while they prepare it.
I eat a variety of food, shop at the farmers market, and try to stay within Ayurvedic principles but I make a point of not taking my diet too seriously. In the past I have been overly obsessed with diet to the point of it becoming another form of stress in my life. Mental stress of any kind is, in my opinion, far more detrimental to ones health than even sugar and fast food. Today I honestly believe the most important vitamin is Vitamin H and H stands for happiness! So I look for opportunities to laugh and smile and be happy as much as possible.
Both are recommended to be taken with tea or hot milk, I love having them with a nice chai roobios tea (from yogi tea) in the morning with some coconut milk. Do you have any delicious tea or elixir recipes you like to pair them with?
I recently quit caffeine so I’m hooked on this Dandy Blend coffee substitute that’s made from dandelion, barley and chicory. Here’s a recipe for a Shilajit Latte using Dandy Blend.
2 tsp Dandy Blend
3/4 cup hot water
¼ cup unsweetened almond, coconut or goat’s milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp coconut oil
Sweetener of choice (I prefer jaggery, but can also use raw honey or liquid stevia)
- Combine all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend on high for until smooth and frothy. Enjoy! Tip: I like to heat up the milk first before blending.
I usually take my Chyawanprash by the spoonful as I’m running out the door to get to yoga class! If you’re in the mood for something a little different, try out this chyawanprash chai recipe.
½ cup hot water
½ cup warm goat’s milk or dairy free milk
Simply stir, or blend for frothiness, Authentic Chyawanprash™ into a cup of warm milk, relax and enjoy! Super easy but chyawanprash has so many ingredients there is no need to add anything else!
For someone who is reading this post and knows very little about ayurveda, I really believe that these two items can be a wonderful “gateway drug” of sorts because they are beneficial to everyone and can give a lovely boost of clarity, energy and vitality. Would you tell readers who are new to ayurveda a little bit more about the ingredients in each and why they can truly complement anyones wellness practice?
Shilajit is a very unique substance within Ayurveda as it is considered to have the capacity to bring the essence of any dhatu (tissue system). This means that it adapts to you. If you are doing high intensity exercise it will bring shape and faster recovery to your muscle system (mamsa dhatu). If you are weak and fatigued it will bring life to your blood (rakta dhatu). If you are under a lot of metal stress it will bring clarity and knowledge to your nervous system (maja dhatu). From a western perspective shilajit contains a very wide spectrum of minerals and trace elements that are involved in every single chemical reaction of the body. As our farms soils have become depleted of mineral content so have our bodies and shilajit is a natural way to restore balance through re-mineralization.
Chyawanprash was formulated 5000 years ago by one of the Rishi’s (Vedic masters) who’s name was Chyawan. It was cognized by him to be the perfect functional food for all of humankind. If someone is interested in Ayurveda they can just research the ingredients in Chyawanprash. It contains a total of 35 ingredients including many of the most utilized herbs in Ayurveda, aromatic spices and linoleic rich fats, which combine to create a Super Supplement for longevity, wellness and rejuvenation. The base is Amla fruit (http://www.authenticshilajit.com/amla-berry-natures-nurse.html/), sometimes called Dhatri in Sanskrit which means “The Nurse”. It is the ancient herbal equivalent of a daily multi-vitamin. I believe it is the greatest example of Hippocrates’ maxim “Food as medicine and medicine as food”. The way we make it is according to detailed directions laid out by the Rishi Chyawan. It takes 21 days to produce in conjunction with the moon cycles and each ingredient is added at a very specific time.
** During our live interview on facebook, Johann also recommended the book “The Ageless Woman” for diving deeper if this conversation excites you. Link to buy it on amazon here.