Earth, air, fire, water and ether. Los Altos resident Rashee Rohatgi weaves the five elements of life throughout her everyday routine, through the principles of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is the ancient Indian science of healing - for Rohatgi, it revolves around health and well-being through the integration of herbs and spices in her cooking. She also uses other techniques to achieve a state of balance in her life and often refers to it as the "science of yoga."
"Yoga is also a very integral part of Ayurveda - it applies yoga postures to restore balance," Rohatgi said. "Cooking Ayurvedically is a conscious way of approaching food."
However, Ayurveda is not all about satiating the taste buds.
"Although taste, or rasa, is one piece of the puzzle, it’s just not the only piece to consider ... as we oftentimes do," she said. "It’s about cooking with awareness, and that is what yoga and Ayurveda are about. It’s about bringing consciousness into your movements and your daily existence."
Having grown up in India, Rohatgi noted that Ayurvedic influences have been part of her upbringing for as long as she can remember. Since moving to the U.S. in 1997 and Los Altos in 2013, she has strived to maintain a balance among all the elements in her daily life.
Rohatgi has been learning these concepts for more than 20 years and recently delved deeper into the science behind Ayurveda. Four days a month, she studies at the Mount Madonna Institute in Watsonville. She also studies remotely and through online webinars.
She shares her love for the Ayurvedic lifestyle through her home-based business, Naivedya. The name symbolizes "an offering to divine," and her business logo represents the mudra, a ritual positioning of the fingers and hands.
"It’s sort of understanding that we cook food recognizing the divinity within us," Rohatgi said. "We cook with that reverence and we eat with that reverence."
Rohatgi shares her culinary knowledge and discoveries with others through cooking workshops in her own kitchen.
Although diverse cooking classes can be found all around Silicon Valley, the absence of Ayurvedic elements motivated her to create classes about something she is passionate about.
"Food is something that brings me to a place where I’m the best version of myself," she said.
She offers the classes the third Saturday of every month, with a typical cooking session beginning with discovering Ayurveda and the concept of recognizing the five elements. Participants then craft a meal in her kitchen, sometimes incorporating a traditional Indian dish called dal, a roast vegetable salad and a fresh loaf of bread. In addition to cooking classes, Rohatgi offers a catering service she calls an "evening with a difference," providing Ayurvedic dinners for events while also explaining the principles of Ayurveda.
"It takes us away from that constant concept of food fads and trends which apply across the board to everybody, to understanding that health and balance are very individualized," she said.