307: Taking Diet-Culture Out of Ayurveda with Diane Finlayson 

One of the harmful messages that we get in the broader health and wellness industry and in the yoga world is arounddiet culture. How does it show up in Ayurveda as well, and what can we do about it? Diane Finlayson shares her insights.

Diane Finlayson has been educating yoga teachers, therapists, ayurvedic and meditation facilitators for the past 20 years. Diane recently retired from her service at MUIH (Maryland University of Integrative Health) as the Department Chair for Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda. Prior to that, Diane had 3 yoga studios and ran YTT 200/300 Ayurveda trainings as well as meditation facilitator trainings for 15 years. Diane also serves the recovery community in her private practice.

Diane explains what Ayurveda is and how colonization has affected Ayurveda. She highlights the differences in practice between North America and India, and the scope of practice of different practitioners in the industry and what to be aware of before working with someone in Ayurveda. Diane also shares more about the ways in which diet culture can show up, what she does when she sees it online, and how people interested in adopting Ayurvedic practices can learn and integrate them in their lives more safely.

Key Takeaways:

[3:14] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode – Diane Finlayson.

[7:29] What does Diane do and who does she do it for?

[8:06] How does Diane feel about all the changes in her life at this time, especially around retirement?

[9:29] What is Ayurveda? Diane shares a little about the history of Ayurveda and the impact colonization had on it.

[14:28] Diane explains how Ayurveda is shared and consumed in North America.

[16:05] The scope of practice in Ayurveda around talking to people about food is really blurred. Diane explains how you can be aware of what you’re getting into and how to check the credentials of a practitioner.

“Diet culture has already put so many rules and weirdness in place on individuals that [orthorexia] is just one more flavor of eating disorder that can take hold.” ~ Diane Finlayson

[19:41] Diane highlights some of the different levels of practitioners you might encounter and what they might offer.

[22:23] What is orthorexia?

[27:08] What are some things Diane wishes yoga teachers knew about orthorexia?

[30:06] Shannon pops in to share some news about OfferingTree.

[33:19] What are Diane’s thoughts about how we talk about the food that we’re putting into our own bodies?

[37:55] What was it like for Diane deciding which of her teacher’s recommendations to follow?

“When a person can be curious and mindful about their lived experience, they can, in my opinion, better care for themselves because they have a deeper connection to self.” ~ Diane Finlayson

[41:01] Whether you’re teaching yoga or sharing Ayurveda, how can you encourage agency with our students?

[44:58] Shannon reflects that in a lot of our relationships as yoga teachers or Ayurveda practitioners, the other person may be looking for you to tell them what to do.

[45:43] Rather than approaching with an attitude of understanding and certainty, try keeping curiosity at the forefront.

“It’s about understanding how this digestive system we have operates and being able to support it in doing its job.” ~ Diane Finlayson

[47:01] Where does Diane recommend going to learn more about Ayurveda?

[49:46] What is something that has really impacted Diane or the people she works with?

[53:14] Connect with Diane on social media to continue this conversation.

[53:55] What does Diane do when she sees harmful comments or perspectives shared online?

“I think people create a lot of more suffering for themselves than they need.” ~ Diane Finlayson

[56:31] Shannon shares her biggest takeaways from this episode.

[58:50] Please leave the podcast a review on iTunes!

[60:03] Hang out with Shannon in real-time online in the Pelvic Health Professionals membership.


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