Jill Leslie, founder, Ayurveda Alchemy

Jill Leslie is a certified Ayurvedic practitioner, herbalist, wellness chef, and yoga teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area who, for more than two decades, has been immersed in the study and practice of natural healing.

The entrepreneur, who has owned her own businesses since graduating from the University of Maryland in 1986, founded the award-winning retail shop Milk & Honey in Sebastapol, CA, in 1999.

She sold it in 2006 so that she could dive deeper into her study of yoga and Ayurveda.

As she discovered the life-changing wisdom of these ancient practices, she began sharing her knowledge at wellness retreats, yoga studios, and through cooking classes.

Ayurvedic Alchemy was born in 2008 from her passion for herbal medicine and nutrition, and her love of sweets, inspired her to create delicious things. In addition to hosting classes and events, and providing consultations and dietary advice about Ayurveda, she has created a line of healthy and delicious confections, which are available online at Kitchen Alchemy Treats.

“When I learned the adage of Ayurveda, ‘Let your food be your medicine,’ I put on my apron and said, ‘Let your medicine be delicious,’” she says.

Learn more about her services at www.AyurvedaAlchemy.com.

Don’t Miss the First Annual Living Ayurveda Symposium & Marketplace: Nov. 9-10, 2013

Sebastopol CA, September 23, 2013 — Join us for the Living Ayurveda Symposium & Marketplace in downtown Sebastopol on Nov. 9-10, where you’ll get a first hand taste of Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science.

Considered the ancient remedy for healthy, modern living, you’ll get a heaping helping of some of the best insights into this healing practice including:

  • Having the opportunity to take two days of classes with world-renowned Ayurveda teachers,
  • Learning how to care for yourselves, your loved ones, and your clients with this timeless tradition,
  • Exploring the marketplace where you will find essential items for a healthy lifestyle, as well as meet local artists and healers.

That’s not all! You’ll also have the opportunity to:

  • Rejuvenate in Sonoma County’s newest self-care studio,
  • Unwind in the steam room, sauna, and baths,
  • Enjoy a farm-to-table organic vegetarian lunch prepared by top local chefs.
  • And, in the evening of Nov. 9, celebrate with Ananda Rasa , a reggae style Kirtan Band and an enchanting Odissi Dance performance by ShaktiBhakt.

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Think Vegetarian Cooking Is Bland? Think Again.

February 2012, Be Inkandescent magazine — I am a huge fan of “Heaven’s Banquet: Vegetarian Cooking for Lifelong Health the Ayurveda Way,” by Miriam Hospodar.

Not only does she show us how to make our kitchen the basis for health and healing, the recipes are simple enough to appeal to everyone—even those who don’t know their way around the kitchen.

Of course, the serious chef will appreciate the sophistication of the recipes, and those of us who have been studying nutrition for years will find solace in the manner that the dishes are crafted to balance the body and mind.

In fact, Hospodar follows the principle that if food does not taste good, it is not truly nourishing. She says, “If you aren’t up to a little magic occasionally, you shouldn’t waste your time trying to cook.”

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Simple Wisdom to Help Determine "What's Next?"

January 2012, Be Inkandescent magazine — “Every moment’s a ‘what’s next,’” says well-known yoga and meditation teacher Rod Stryker.

I like this idea, especially as my clients and I ruminate on what we’d like to manifest in 2012. To me, the advice is as logical as this perfectly simple adage: You are what you eat.

Originally written in a 1983 essay entitled, “Concerning Spiritualism and Materialism,” Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach wrote: “Der Mensch ist, was er isst.” That translates into English as, “Man is what he eats,” insisting that the food one consumes has a bearing on both state of mind and health.

What does breakfast have to do with determining what’s next?

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The Beatles, Boys on the Mat, and Vegetarianism

December 2011, Be Inkandescent magazine — “In February 1968, the Beatles went to India for an extended stay with their new guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi,” writes Philip Goldberg in his book, American Veda, a fascinating look at India’s profound impact on Western culture. “It may have been the most momentous spiritual retreat since Jesus spent those 40 days in the wilderness.” [Photo of the Beatles by shutterstock.com]

Indeed, for we are living at a time of a profound awakening of consciousness that is changing the world. Much of that awakening is due to the influence of Indian spirituality, and its practical applications in our everyday lives.

If you are one of the estimated 20 million Americans who practice yoga, if you meditate or have taken advice from Dr. Dean Ornish or Andrew Weil, the ancient Indian teachings are already part of your life. In fact, the ancient texts of India have shaped our understanding of the mind and body and are dramatically changing how we view ourselves and our place in the cosmos.

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Folks of All Ages Are Embracing the Foody Frenzy

November 2011, Be Inkandescent magazine — Since the beginning of time, every generation has been concerned about health and well-being. It is a survival instinct, and something that our brains, and bodies, cannot deny.

Every generation is looking for ways to maintain youthfulness, and so it is important for all of us to keep stress levels low by exercising and eating high-energy foods that will enhance our health.

The good news for Millennials, especially, is that they have grown up with these messages. Not only that, but the natural food grocery store, which was nearly nonexistent in most communities 50 years ago, is now accessible to most people, and part of the mainstream.

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Six Ways to Thrive in the Fall

October 2011, Be Inkandescent magazine — Fall is a time of transition and change, and in Ayurveda, the junctures of the seasons are considered times to gently cleanse the body and prepare for the upcoming season.

The logic of this is exquisitely simple. As we prepare for changes in life, we release the old and create the optimum environment for what lies ahead of us.

We do this during the bigger transitions of life as well as the smaller ones. In fact, if we manage the “smaller stuff of life,” we are not as rocked by the larger ever-present shifts that are part of the natural unfolding of time.

In the ancient Ayurvedic texts, we are reminded that “like increases like” and “opposites balance.” These straightforward beliefs are the perfect way to cultivate harmony in our lives, and maintain and restore balance—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

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Discover Your Recipe for Happiness

September 2011, Be Inkandescent magazine — In “The Art of Happiness,” the Dalai Lama wrote: “Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, the very purpose of our life is happiness, the very motion of our life is towards happiness.”

In fact, there are times in all of our lives when despite the struggle, our stress seems to fade into the background. These are times when we feel a sense of contentment with “what is.” We may even take secret delight as we hear ourselves respond to the question, “How are you?” with a genuine, “Life is good. I am really happy.”

Recently, I have had a few of those ‘unreasonable’ moments of light-hearted equanimity. As a chef, when I have a mouth-watering, delectable experience, I try and figure out the recipe so I can recreate it. I examine the more subtle flavors of life, too. After a particularly wonderful night’s sleep, I review the prior day. Was there something I did or didn’t do differently that may have contributed to the blissful quality of sleep? Perhaps an earlier supper than usual, followed by a walk around Lake Merritt with a friend were the ingredients for a sumptuous slumber.

In the Vedic tradition, we call this karma. While we often consider this concept only when we stumble on a date with destiny, or experience a mysterious twist of fate, karma is simply the law of cause and effect. It refers to the mundane aspects of life as well as those moments of serendipity that leave us feeling a sense of awe or bewilderment. (I jokingly say that the headache you feel after celebrating with a bit of bubbly is a citation from the karmic police.)

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Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

August 2011, Be Inkandescent magazine — You have heard the adage, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Well, I believe the reverse is also true: You will see it when you believe it.

If that sounds like an unrealistic fantasy, consider this. Researchers tell us that we have approximately 60,000 thoughts a day—and 90 percent of them were the same thoughts we had yesterday. Why? Because our brains love repetition.

The down side is that this process carves deep pathways in our brains, which ensure that we recreate our future from our past. The reason, psychologists tell us, is that each thought is attached to an emotion. And each emotion spurs us to action. The actions we take create our destiny.

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How to Keep Your Cool When It's Hot Outside

July 2011, Be Inkandescent magazine — Ever notice that as the temperatures rise during the summer, temperaments heat up, too?

That’s because during the summer, the sun’s rays hit the Earth at a steep angle. The light does not spread out as much, thus increasing the amount of energy hitting any given spot. Also, the long daylight hours allow the Earth plenty of time to reach warm temperatures. This change causes an increase in the what we call in Ayurveda, the fire element—one of five natural elements that impact our body’s health and well-being. Source: www.loc.gov

And that’s why during July, and especially in August, we tend to feel more intense, impassioned, excited—and perhaps a bit impatient, irritable, and hotheaded.

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Play With Your Food and Whip Up These Yummy Facials

June 2011, Be Inkandescent magazine — You can have a ball playing with your food,* especially when it come to whipping up body care products. More than simple cleansers, herbal blends have been used for thousands of years in the field of Ayurveda to balance the body and the mind, prevent disease, and address health concerns.

What is Ayurveda? As I have noted in earlier Healthy Living columns for Be Inkandescent magazine, Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that translates as “The Science of Living.”

It is the world’s oldest holistic health care system, dating back more than 5,000 years. The primary focus of Ayurveda is the maintenance of health, the prevention of disease, and aligning the body and mind with the rhythms of nature.

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Enjoy This Soul-Food Revival

May 2011, Be Inkandescent magazine — Soul singer, actress, and author Sheila Ferguson once said, “Soul food is just what the name implies. It is soulfully cooked food that is good for your ever-loving soul.”

That definition has stayed with me as a reminder as to why soul food is so good for us. Given the continued downturn in the economy, rising gas prices, and the speed at which life seems to whirl around us — more of us are reaching for comforting soul food as a way to soothe our ever-loving selves.

Unfortunately, much traditionally prepared “Southern fare with flare” is often served up as big plates of fried chicken, and biscuits dripping with honey. While these dishes are undeniably delicious, they were initially used to help sustain captive workers in slavery-era America.

Given their grueling workload, they metabolized the food as fuel. Today, however, all of that starch, fat, sodium, cholesterol, and calories accumulates in the body, resulting in some of our most common diseases — high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.

The good news is that you can have your cake, and eat it, too.

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Want to Rock Your Meals? Embrace the Spices of Life

April 2011, Be Inkandescent magazine — Whether you realize it or not, there is an incredible pharmacy in your kitchen — your spice rack. In fact, common herbs and spices have been used for their medicinal properties for centuries.

My Russian grandmother knew this. She donned her apron with dignity, acknowledging that her role in our family was — first and foremost — to be our health care provider. Her tools against what might ail us were all in her pantry.

Chicken soup to cure a cold or flu? Definitely. She knew that a generous use of parsley in the soup, dill with our potatoes, cinnamon and raisins in our oatmeal, would keep us healthy.

Similar examples are found in cultures and cuisines the world over. Indian grandmothers have been sprinkling turmeric into food for centuries. Scientists are now validating the fact that this fragrant yellow spice is a wonderful way to reduce inflammation. Cinnamon is a natural remedy for lowering cholesterol. Ginger is a great choice to heal the symptoms of colds and the flu.

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Stress! What’s a Girl to Do?

March 2011, Be Inkandescent magazine — These are truly stressful times. Regardless of your age, status, or accomplishments, we all have one goal: To find a sense of well-being.

While it is tempting to look outside ourselves for a supplement, the latest diet craze, the perfect exercise program, or a partner who can provide us with what we need, we all know that the real solution is to look within.

For women especially — even those who have a partner, the children they dreamed of, and work that makes them feel fulfilled — it is important to take time each day to listen to the wisdom inside. When we do, we will find she actually has quite a bit to say.

I would venture to guess on the top of her list is, KISS: Keep It Simple Sweetie.

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This Elixir by Jill Leslie Will Put You in the Mood for Romance

February 2011, Be Inkandescent magazine — It’s that time of year when shop windows are ablaze in red, and grocer’s shelves are stocked with hearts, flowers, wines, and candies.

While there’s nothing wrong with a glass of smooth merlot or a chunk of melt-in-your-mouth chocolate, with a little know-how you can choose healthier foods to ignite your passion — and not just on Valentine’s Day.

I know what you are thinking: “Aphrodisiacs as part of my daily routine? Oysters for breakfast, chocolate-covered strawberries for lunch, and a bit of bubbly for my afternoon pick me up?”

While our Western notions of aphrodisiacs may be enticing, those selections may not be the best way to balance the body, mind, and emotions.

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