Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old tradition of natural healing that has its roots in India. Much more than a system of healing, it also considered to be a "science of life" as its name, "Ayur," meaning life, and "veda," meaning science or knowledge, infers. This tradition is designed to help people stay vitalized while realizing their full potential. We in Turkey are very lucky to have our very own Ayurveda expert, and an expat no less, who is sharing this precious wisdom with clients in courses, seminars and even cooking classes.
Ulli Allmendinger is one of those people who radiates from the inside out. Her crimson hair, beautiful smile and wise eyes give a peak into the very special knowledge she has to share. Needless to say, her physical presence is also the type everyone would aspire for – healthy in every sense of the word. Originally from Germany, although Ulli has lived abroad since her early 20s, she has been in Turkey now for the past five years, where she has been sharing her knowledge of Ayurveda in an effort to help create more awareness and expand the field of holistic medicine in the country.
I had the chance to speak with this expat extraordinaire as she gets ready to host a wide range of courses, seminars, detoxes and retreats coming up this fall. "Ayurveda is amazing in the way that, different from other medicinal systems such as Chinese medicine, it offers very practical, day-to-day advice. It is often called the 'science of life,' and as such, it is much more than just a system of medicine, it is a way of living: Living in harmony within your own self – mind, body and spirit – and your environment, nature specifically. At the heart of Ayurveda is this concept of constitution, your unique body type that you are born with, and if you are living and eating according to that, perfect health is the result."
I asked Ulli how she first became drawn to Ayurveda. She said she first studied it in London. "Back then, I was a journalist," Ulli explained. "After a fairly busy career in New York [City] as an art critic and journalist as well as in public relations, I started practicing yoga as a way to balance my hectic New York life. Through yoga and meditation, I discovered Ayurveda, and since I had always been interested in nutrition, cooking and herbal medicine, it was a perfect fit. I moved to Seattle to study there and after finishing my master's in Ayurveda, I decided to enroll in Dr. Vasant Lad's two-year program in New Mexico." Spending more than 10 years in the U.S., Ulli completed her second master's in Ayurvedic medicine after her apprenticeship with Lad, who is considered the father of Ayurveda, after which she moved to Turkey in 2010.
Initially, Ulli opened Heal Istanbul with her ex-husband, whom she met in London. However, over the past two years she has been running her own company, Ulli Ayurveda and Ulli's Kitchen, where she holds consultations and cooking courses. Both are based in Moda on the Asian side of the city, which she said she much prefers to the European side "since it is more calm, greener and generally more relaxed. But I also see clients on the European side one day a week."
I asked Ulli to describe the services she offers to her clients. She said, "In my daily clinical practice, I offer Ayurvedic health consultations, including a customized constitutional diet, lifestyle and herbal medicine. Depending on what the imbalance is a person is presented with, I might also suggest certain breathing exercises and yoga postures or might prescribe certain spice mixtures and medicated oils that I prepare."
In addition to guiding at-home detoxes, she also offers guided detox programs twice a year here in Istanbul. Ulli's next detox will be held in İzmir at Sade Yoga and will run from Oct. 19-26 with a pre-detox meeting and seminar scheduled for Oct. 17. The next detox program in Istanbul will be held at Om Yoga Merkezi in Beşiktaş from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2 with a pre-detox meeting and seminar on Oct. 23.Starting on Oct. 24, Ulli will also be offering a six-module introduction to Ayurveda course at Nefess Yoga Studio in Moda, which will be held one weekend per month. Participants can attend a single module or the full series. "The course will give a basic understanding of the concepts of this beautiful, ancient science. It is open to anybody, without any prior knowledge, and we will cover different aspects such as the basic concepts of Ayurveda – including elements and doshas – the physical and subtle body according to Ayurveda, working with Ayuryoga to balance the body and mind, Ayurvedic nutrition and digestion as well as seasonal detoxification routines. It is very practical, and people can directly apply the knowledge learned to themselves and their family."
I asked Ulli what level participants will have reached once they have completed the course to which she said: "They will be confident to apply the knowledge learned to themselves and their friends and family, or if they are trained massage therapists or yoga teachers, they can apply it in their work as well."
Ulli also gives lectures and seminars on a variety of subjects such as healing autoimmune diseases with Ayurveda, women's wellness and stress-reduction. Her next seminar, which will be on healing a leaky gut and autoimmune disorders, will be held on Oct. 31 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Halka Sanat in Moda. Ayurveda has long believed that many types of diseases form in the gut; therefore, digestive health is key for overall wellbeing and vitality. Ulli's hands-on course will offer ways to repair and heal the digestive system and will provide nutritional knowledge and recipes for healing elixirs.Ulli's Kitchen is another endeavor by the Ayurvedic master in which she offers cooking classes on all sorts of subjects such as gluten-free baking, fermentation and the use of medicinal spices. She also offers a number of specialty items that fall into said categories. Started more out of necessity, Ulli explained: "I would recommend clients to go off gluten, for example, but they could not find any suitable products here in Turkey. So, I started a line of gluten-free breads and cookies, as well as offer my spice mixtures, ghee, tea blends and massage oils online for easy ordering."
Ulli's "Kitchen Pharmacy Series: Heal Yourself through Food," kicks off on Oct. 10 and is a series of cooking courses held on Saturday's from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Ulli's Kitchen in Moda. The first course will be held on Oct. 10 and will focus on healing elixirs and medicinal tonics for vitality and longevity. On Nov. 7, the focus is on home-fermented superfoods that can detoxify and boost digestion and metabolism, while the Dec. 5 course will be on how to bake gluten-free bread, cookies and treats. Ulli is also working on a cookbook on Ayurveda, inspired by the foods of the Mediterranean region hopefully to be published next year.
I asked Ulli what ailments people come to her the most with, to which she shared:" "Since Ayurveda places such a big emphasis on nutrition, I see a lot of people with digestive disorders or metabolic imbalances such as weight gain and diabetes. Due to the stress that we are all subject to in big cities like Istanbul, I also see a lot of hormonal imbalances, skin issues and autoimmune disorders, as well as most chronic diseases that we unfortunately are more and more faced with."
In March 2016, Ulli will be joined by Devrim Akkaya to host the "Detoxify & Rejuvenate in Paradise" retreat in Bali. This Ayurveda and yoga wellness retreat will be held at the Bloo Lagoon eco-resort in Padangbai on the eastern coast of Bali from March 6-13, 2016, and will be an amazing opportunity to detoxify, rejuvenate and be immersed in the ancient healing arts of yoga in one of the most beautiful places on earth. For more information on Ulli and Ayurvedic healing, check out: www.ulli-ayurveda.com and www.ulliskitchen.com.