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  Friday, February 27, 2015  Home > Body-Mind-Spirit > Health & Wellness > Ayurveda > Yogi Cameron's ayurvedic view of the autism spectrum
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Yogi Cameron's ayurvedic view of the autism spectrum

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Kathleen Tehrani

yogi_cameron_lrg

My belief is that we are all seekers. We may not always be aware of the path, but I believe it is so. In the process of my own seeking I came across the yoga videos first, and then the yoga/ayurvedic website of Yogi Cameron. Here I found a wealth of mental, emotional, medical and spiritual material that I have not seen in many free access websites. How newly acquired information can assist the autism awareness community is a main focus for me, so as I was reading one of Yogi Cameron’s blog entries, I was suddenly intrigued to understand the way yogi’s, and ayurvedic practitioners, view the treatment of autism and autistic-like symptoms. My request was submitted for a set of interviews with the Yogi and was graciously accepted, for which I am truly grateful.  

To give a bit of background for Yogi Cameron, I present a portion of his bio from the Huffington Post where he posted the blog entry The 'New You' in the New Year in January, 2009.
 
“Cameron was spotted by a modeling scout at a young age and became known as the first male supermodel working for many years with such greats as Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano, Valentino, Elton John and Madonna, and gracing the pages of almost every popular fashion magazine, as well as being the face of Versace, Chanel, Dolce & Gabanna, Gucci and Armani. He eventually phased out of modeling to follow his spiritual calling. For the last twelve years, Cameron Alborzian has been studying Yoga and maintaining a strict yogic lifestyle. Yoga has a history of over 5000 years. The yogic lifestyle, which goes beyond just physical exercise, helps the individual to find a balance between mind and body, which in turn creates a better quality of life. Yoga helps individuals elevate to a higher form of thinking and being. Six years ago, Cameron also started practicing Ayurveda, the oldest natural medicine in use today with a history of 5000 years. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian form of healing that helps to cure the mind and body with herbs, oils, internal cleansings and daily routines that direct back to nature. Ayurveda is practiced on people individually according to their personal constitution and state of mind. It enforces the notion that with healthy habits then we will have health.”
 

Kathleen: Yogi Cameron thank you so much for bringing your wisdom and insight to the urgent concern of autism in the world and its statistically significant rise during the past few years. This is of course a topic that has touched and concerns many, and I appreciate your bringing clarity to those areas possible. 

Yogi Cameron: I do not bring my opinion to people but just follow the Ayurvedic and Yogic teachings of the Gurus and Sages as these were learned and aware beings far more advanced than I. One does not need to reinvent the wheel only learn to use it. Nature has already been created and we just need to learn how to follow its perfect laws and make good use of it. Also Yoga and Ayurveda work on the physical, mental and spiritual levels, so autism or any other issues which western medicine may call abnormal are just viewed as an individual functioning from another energetic level. From the spiritual point of view what the western culture views as a problem to fix, we see this not as abnormal but normal to the individual. In our society we tend to compartmentalize everything and everyone so our intellect can understand things. We can not understand autism intellectually, emotionally or rationally. We need to observe. 

Kathleen: Understood. Yogi Cameron, within the autism awareness community there are many viewpoints regarding causes of autism and autistic-like symptoms. If you would like to discuss causes, please do so, but my focus is rather on curing and/or easing the syndrome and the symptoms. Please correct me if I am mistaken, but my understanding is that Ayurveda views the body as an energy grid, and that basically disease of the body occurs when any part of this grid experiences a disruption of energetic flow. Be that the case, how might this apply to a small child with the diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder?

 
 
Yogi Cameron: Through the practices of Yogic breathing and posture we can alter the energy of the child or individual so it starts to be in sync with the energy of nature. As it is a shift in energy that we are looking to achieve the breathing needs to be brought into balance by certain practices that can be made fun for kids to do. If the child finds certain things interesting they will focus. The challenge is to shift a child's attention on to a practice like Yoga so it is benefiting them rather than them be entertained in a passive way. Ayurvedic herbs also help to bring the balance of nature into us all and should be used on a daily basis, this is as a curative and preventative measure.  The elements in our body are constantly in motion with the outer elements. This is where through better diet and practices we can live with better health, and this is very true for an autistic individual. 

Ayurveda and Yoga view the body as one large energy field that needs to flow each moment otherwise it will encounter blockages that need to be cleared. We all as children come into the world through parents that are creating and generating certain energy and this energy helps to create the fetus. Because of the western view of autism much of the time the mother or both parents feel responsible for doing something wrong and feel it is their fault the child is ‘abnormal.’ As we all come into the world through certain parents to live an individual existence and carry our own Karma, there are certain things we can change and things we can’t. But the things which we can’t change are not viewed as negative but for us to learn from. Here we grow spiritually no matter what energy we came into the world with.  As we do not view autism as an abnormality (as Ayurveda defines normal as an individual trait and not a collective one) we see the child as having different energy and not abnormal or strange disease. It is a flaw in your system called society that we have built a word ‘normal’ and try to fit everyone into it.

That is why now we have a child who loses focus so we diagnose them with ADD and try to medicate them instead of calm them down with the correct diet, sleeping times, exercise and attention.  As modern science only diagnoses with the eyes, the flow of energy or the lack of it is missed on the invisible level. This energy is seen and felt by the other senses and our intuition. As there are 72,000 channels in the body and 108 more prominent ones, the energy has to be flowing continuously to avoid health issues. Depending on the development and health of these channels an individual will operate with different energy.
 
Kathleen: There is a video of you on YouTube that I particularly appreciate. It is one where you are making a presentation to the French Culinary Institute in NYC. During the presentation you mention the fact that Ayurvedic practitioners can observe the body to understand what the disruption is in the energy system, whether it be by observing the skin, the iris of the eyes, tongue, respiration et cetera. Would you say the same ability applies while observing a child with a sensory disorder such as autism spectrum?
 
Yogi Cameron: Absolutely. Observing is one of the 3 main ways we diagnose or determine cause of disease or change of energy. Here a practitioner can watch how the child uses their body, mind, senses, subconscious, environment etc. This needs some time as the child my be too young to verbalize what is in their mind. And especially as speaking may not be an option with some people as they are not fond of verbal communication and prefer gestures or movements to communicate, observing is essential. It is for a trained eye to just watch and not try to intellectually or emotionally read into what is being communicated but with a little detachment to allow the child to present themselves the way they are. Here we can determine not from thinking but from connecting with the child to what they need.
 
Kathleen: Returning to that particular video at the French Culinary Institute, you stated that the balance of the food we consume and the thoughts that we think is of prime importance when discussing matters of health, whether physical, mental or emotional heath, because these two work in tandem, the mind and the stomach or digestion. That being the case, how do you view food allergies and toxic food additives and chemicals when we are dealing with autism spectrum in children. Two very popular dietary thoughts are to use the GFCF (gluten free casein free) diet, and/or the Feingold diet which is basically food additive and preservative free. Some families report extreme effects from implementing these, and some report minimal or none at all. What is the correlation between these dietary practices, if there is one, and the ayurvedic principles. 
 
Yogi Cameron: Ultimately the Ayurvedic approach is the natural one, which is children like adults should be brought up on vegetables, fruits and all other natural foods instead of any processed or artificially made foods. All children, not just autistic ones, will do infinitely better on a diet devoid of gluten, additives or preservatives. By nature these extra flavors and enhancers make the child crave more of these foods and become addicted to them. Now the child does not have the capacity or tolerance for much and will not be able to focus on given tasks.
 
Allergies for instance come about when the body cannot tolerate or digest certain artificial foods like popcorn, sweets (because of all the colours), meat- milk- eggs (because of hormones which are added) and also many other beneficial foods like nuts because of pesticides, chemicals or preservatives that are added during the growing, harvesting or packing process. Here the body has to deal with so many toxins that it reacts by rejecting hard to digest substances.Ayurveda puts a lot of attention on a good strong digestion leading to good health. For this reason these toxic foods and sugary drinks that contribute to diluting and weakening the stomach acid need to be avoided so the system can be healthy
 
 
Our mind and thoughts are directly linked to our stomach as most people eat 3 meals a day plus all the snacking. Depending on if food is in season, eating in compatible combinations, in a palatable quantify for the individual body size, in a quiet environment and with correct full breathing then the child will experience good health and positive thoughts or not. This goes for all of us. From the state of the food industry I don’t see many people being able or having the right information to feed themselves or their kids natural nutritional foods. Also as parents work most of the time little attention is given to the their own diet so they are less aware of the dietary needs of the child.

Kathleen: At your website, I found a very interesting quote regarding children that I would like to share now. “CHILDREN. They are said to be the future but are forgotten at the present. We must bring them into the world, watch over them and give them all that they need without placing on them our insecurities and fears, otherwise the future will continue to be as it is now- full of pain and broken hearts, disease and unhappiness. First we should work on our fears and to rid ourselves of limitations and the insecurities that were passed on to us by our parents, then we can help to bring into the world loving human beings- not visa versa.”Without implying blame or guilt, because never would we insinuate that parents have brought an autism spectrum disorder upon their children, how do you feel the environment adds to or takes away from the severity of autism symptoms in the home and school environment. Energetically how do the thought processes and emotions of the environment interact with the already existing condition. More pointedly, what is within the supervising educator or parent’s sphere of influence on an energetic level. Your opinion on this I value greatly, along with the yogic teachings and ayurveda.
 
Yogi Cameron: The parents or teachers should be calm and observant of what the child's needs are rather than what they think is best. Obviously each child has a different interpretation of autism so the caretakers must be vigilant to how the child is communicating and what it is they are saying in their own manner. Also one should always live as an example to each other and especially to any child whether it be their own or anyone else’s. A parent’s responsibility is to guide a child but first that parent must do what they are guiding the child in. A parent is the one who has to put health first then have the children follow a healthy lifestyle. The habits, attitude and behaviour of the parents need to be loving and giving towards each other and the child will automatically learn from this without words but only through actions.The environment that is created for the child has a big influence on the mental stability of the young mind. The senses pick up every little drop of information at this age so all that is said and done needs to be very positive and kind so they naturally also become like this in their later years.
 
Kathleen: On a different page within your website you refer to the basic ayurvedic types of people:Physical Doshas (or body types) of people:     
Pitta-fire      
Kapha-earth         
Vata-air
 
Mental Gunas (or mind sets) of people:   
Sattva-balanced        
Rajas-stimulated
Tamas-under stimulated
 
How do you feel these types can impact the way we view and treat autism spectrum and related disorders?
 

Yogi Cameron: Absolutely children are no different, they are also human. Each person comes into the world with a certain amount of different elements (doshas) and this makes them susceptible to being out of balance from the opposite doshas. The health of the body is a subtle balance of these elements which are disturbed and become in or out of balance depending on what we eat, what we talk about, how we think etc. We are a product of our habits, lifestyle, the food we eat and the thoughts we have This dictates our behavior. A child with more or less of one or two elements will need to be balanced in the third dosha. Here diet plays a big role.

Kathleen: In general, Yogi Cameron, What do you feel to be the most critical practice and/or observances for parents and educators to remember, in order to facilitate the optimum functioning of the children in their care.  

Yogi Cameron: To remember that the child feels ‘normal’ until we make it feel any different. Then to observe them and how they relate to the world. If the main objective of the parent changes from being a parent to trying to make their child ‘normal’ then this places a lot of pressure on the family as a whole. After observing the actions and reactions of the child there should be some interaction on their level, which is what they relate to most and to introduce other levels of interaction and practices like Yoga, Ayurvedic treatments and dietary changes from processed, canned, left over and packaged foods to natural nutrition.

I know there are many different ways that autistic children receive classes and education which are great, we should also remember not to over load a small being with too many distractions where they become compartmentalized or ‘rehabilitated’ for hours a day. This alone can make a child feel very different.Then for the child to also spend time with others of the same mental age and others of different mental capacity to get the same equal amount of experiences.     

Unfortunately we do not view each other as humans but personalities on the surface, otherwise when we encounter others who are different we would enjoy them and not try to ‘fix’ them. In many villages I have been to in countries like India these children are left alone to experience the life and Karma they came in to this life to live, which is true of all of us.   

Kathleen: Yogi Cameron, thank you so much. Please tell us a bit about your private practice and what you have to offer the community. In particular, please elaborate as to whether consultation with you, either in person or via email or skype, might benefit a family seeking additional assistance with the over all program of their child on the autism spectrum. Also, whether you would consider doing a consultation for groups of families in a specific area in order to somewhat diffuse the cost, as many families already operate on an extremely tight budget for many, many reasons.  

Yogi Cameron: I generally work by coming to a person’s home and consulting with them as this environment is where an individual or family feels more comfortable. I can also get a sense of how they relate to their personal environment. If I am not in the same city I do consultations over the phone as well as have the person fill out an Ayurvedic questionnaire which gives me details of their habits and lifestyle. I am always open to suggestions and opportunities to work with different people as people usually pick me as I do not advertise my services. Here is where energy is at work. 

Kathleen: Thank you again for your time, attention and thoughtful answers. Adding the age old ayurvedic wisdom to the ongoing autism conversation, will be a benefit to many. I look forward to future exchanges dealing with health, wellness and spirituality. 

For further information regarding Yoga and Ayurvedic principles, please visit the site of Yogi Cameron at: www.YogiCameron.com


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