Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Massalas.
Lauren, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started practicing yoga in 2008 during nursing school. I used it to balance my party lifestyle and the high stress of my new career as an ICU nurse. I moved to San Diego in 2011 and became a regular at CorePower Yoga Encinitas, eventually taking their yoga teacher training.
It was great dipping my toe into the yoga world, but when I moved to Boston two years later, I was really inspired by the depth of knowledge and creativity of Boston yoga teachers. It made me realize I was regurgitating someone else’s yoga experience, and I wanted to cultivate my own. So, I went further and completed another 200-hour training at Coolidge Yoga in 2016 with local greats and specialists from the Kripalu retreat center in the Berkshires. That included a day with Larissa Carlson, the former dean of Ayurveda.
At a time in my life when I was confused about my health, even though I was doing and eating all the “right things,” Ayurveda had the answers I was looking for. So simple, yet so profound. That summer I completely transformed physically and spiritually. I had to learn more, so I went to Kripalu myself and became an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, 650 hours later. Now, I divide my time as a part-time nurse, yoga teacher, and Ayurvedic Health Counselor.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My Nana told me (in regards to nursing school) if it were easy, everyone would do it. I think that also applies to really listen to what lights you up and following that voice. I found it frustrating when friends/family/coworkers would question my path or fearfully ask about where the money will come from in the yoga/Ayurveda business. It was discouraging. Fortunately, my close circle stayed by me, including my mom, boyfriend, and my yoga teachers. Tatyana was also an inspiration as she transitioned from a career as a pharmaceutical scientist to the owner of Coolidge Yoga. Laura Ahrens motivated me every step of the way, helping me with the business end of things and materializing events.
It helped to have strong mentors, both in the literal sense (like Tati and Laura) and dream mentors, people who influence me from a distance. These include “famous” teachers like Rod Stryker (I love his yoga nidra and pranayama classes), Dr. Scott Blossom (who taught Ayurvedic psychology and Shadow Yoga at Kripalu), and even a Swedish cook I follow on Instagram who posts beautiful vegetarian plates with hilarious commentary (@olivehummer).
Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
In modern healthcare, we are divided into parts. For the heart, you see a cardiologist, digestive problems you go to a gastroenterologist, and mental health, a psychiatrist. It’s rare to be seen as a whole person. When a specialist cannot find an answer it might be helpful to take a step back. Ayurveda is such a compliment to modern medicine because nothing goes unseen. You can not separate the body, the mind, or even the environment. Everything is connected.
Seasonality is a focus; it’s crucial we adapt our food and lifestyle with the seasons, just like we do our wardrobe. Drinking a cold green smoothie is not considered healthy or digestible in the winter. In many ways, Ayurveda feels counterculture, and yet its ancient wisdom is more relevant than ever. We can go to Whole Foods 365 days a year and buy bananas, but that fruit is not balancing all year round. It doesn’t even grow in our state. It’s like Michael Pollen’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. We have anything we want, and people’s digestion is a mess. This is an example of something Ayurveda considers that other sciences and modern nutritionists don’t.
As an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, I collect the full story of a client and let them be a whole person. I give them diet and daily routine tips custom to their unique mind/body constitution within the context of the season, their age, and what’s going on in their life. I’ve started to give seasonal workshops to share this life-changing information and get the conversation started in the Boston community. It’s gaining popularity at a really cool time. People are starting to advocate for their health and doing their own research, and that’s what Ayurveda is all about. It’s learning how to self heal.
What sets me apart is my career in Western healthcare with a deep respect for Eastern tradition. Life is a full spectrum, so there is no reason to think one way is better than the other. We should not turn our nose down at Eastern medicine, but see it as an enhancement. I think that is the future of wellness. We need to merge East and West for both prevention and treatment of acute problems… it’s like a power couple.
Which women have inspired you in your life?
Number one is my Nana. She double majored in biology and chemistry and owned a medical lab, which was unheard of in those times. She is smart and confident and always asked questions in school. Besides being a badass girl-boss, she is also super charming and loveable. She’s 89 and still polka dances with my papa. She has always adapted to the times and has been using a smartphone for years, always signing texts with “luv nan.”
Another huge part of my life is cooking, influenced by both my mom and step-mom. My mom taught cooking to Jr. High and High School kids and even started a cooking show during her final year teaching, merging her cooking class with the media department. The kids loved it. I’ve always admired women who evolve, adapt, and get creative. I think that’s how experts stay fresh.
My step-mom is famous for hosting out of control dinner parties with zero notice. She introduced me to the mega technical Cook’s Illustrated, but I also watched her throw together legit meals without recipes, using kitchen intuition.
- 90 minute Ayurvedic Consultation and 60 minutes follow up, $160
- Address: Consultations at Coolidge Yoga Brookline, 1297 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA 02446
- Website: laurenmassalas.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: laurenmassalas