Melissa Camacho for 7 Centers Yoga Arts
The Ayurvedic community has lost a great teacher, a women’s health advocate, and a gentle loving soul. Former Seven Center’s staff member, Ysha Oakes passed away gracefully in Albuquerque, New Mexico amongst friends and family on May 25th 2015. She taught Ayurvedic postpartum care at Seven Centers in the Fall of 2007, and contributed greatly to the Ayurvedic cookbook compiled by Mira Murphy. I met Ysha in 2006 for the first time at the Ayurvedic Institute and attended several of her workshops throughout the southwest. She changed the way I think about women’s health and Ayurveda. I was honored to be her friend. For this month’s article, I’d like to share some of what she shared with us, including an unforgettable recipe that features in our cookbook.
Women for Women: Ayurvedic Postpartum Basics
According to Ayurveda, the first 40 days after childbirth are called the sacred window. During this time the mother’s body has the potential to reset, refine, and recover the doshas. This time also sets the foundation of health for the newborn baby. Central to Ysha’s message was the importance of women supporting each other during this time. She would organize food share groups, cleaning services, and childcare for siblings if needed. She taught the importance of women and men working together for the sake of budding, sometimes struggling, families. She would say that if she entered the house of a newborn and it was clean, something was wrong! New mothers should not be cleaning. In fact, mothers are to do very little during the sacred window.
Saffron Cream Cheese Stuffed Dates
During the 40 days after childbirth Vata dosha is most vulnerable. It is best for new mothers to get daily abhyanga massage, eat a Vata pacifying diet, and cultivate stillness of mind. The following recipe is probably the most popular of Ysha Oakes’ contributions to the cookbook. Thank you Ysha for this gem! It is very nourishing for the heart, good for Vata dosha, and full of ojas. Many new mothers, as well as yoga students, have enjoyed this juicy nugget of joy.
40-50 Organic dates
1 package Organic Cream Cheese
3 Tbsp Flax Oil
2 Tbsp Raw Honey
12 threads Saffron (soaked in a few spoonfuls of warm water)
5 drops Lemon essential oil (or 2 tsp minced zest and squeeze of juice)
½ tsp Organic vanilla extract
¼ tsp Organic cardamom powder
¼ tsp Organic ginger powder
Let the cream cheese soften at room temperature and puree all ingredients together in a small food processor. Slice the dates open on one side, take out the pit and spoon the cream cheese into the date. This also makes a great cream cheese frosting for cake!
A Call to Continue the Work
Ysha Oakes’ legacy is alive through her students, the families she helped, and in the recipes she left behind for us all to enjoy. Now, more than ever, women need to know about the sacred window and the impact it has on overall health of mother and baby alike. If you are curious and would like more information on Ysha’s work and the sacred window, go to www.sacredwindow.com. Om shanti, Ysha Oakes. Love to you, my friend. Namaste.
L. Ac., CAP