Last month we had our first VeraWell Insider Interview.  Today we’re featuring Katie Ziem of Teton Alchemy.  Katie is an Ayurvedic practitioner here in Jackson, Wyoming.  She creates handcrafted formulas of herbs and spices, as well as medicinal oils & teas to help people feel healthier and more balanced.

VW:  Thank you for being a VeraWell™ Insider, Katie!  To get started, can you give our readers an introduction to who you are? 

KZ: Hello Blair! I’m an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner, Herbalist, Garden Designer and Painter. I began my schooling at the California College of Arts in Oakland, CA. While studying painting I really felt like the landscape flew off the canvas into my everyday world.

I was raised in a family of hobby & professional gardeners and saw that the botanical world provided a much larger canvas then I could build.  So, after finishing my BFA I moved on in order to learn from those practicing the philosophies of permaculture and xeriscaping.

I still felt incomplete though – feeling that there could be more intentional ways to use botanical spaces. So, after 15 years practicing as a Master Gardener, I enrolled into The California College of Ayurveda. My need to follow my path led me back to Ayurveda, a healing modality that incorporates the whole body, mind and spirit.

Along with the gardens, I have created a line of body care products, teas, and spice blends that help bring more vitality to those that appreciate access to locally made, preservative free and fresh products.

Vera Iconica Architecture VeraWell Insider Interview Katie Ziem

VW:  For those who may not know, how would you describe what Ayurveda is and how it can help people?

KZ: Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word meaning “Life Knowledge.”  It is a 5000 year old sister science to yoga – it is the healing side that compliments your spiritual path.  Ayurveda is a holistic healing modality that appreciates the uniqueness of everyone through the Dosha Philosophy and is tied into the importance of what & how we eat, our daily routines, the use of our 5 senses, the chakra system, and regular seasonal cleansing practices.  It is a way of living life with a greater awareness.

Vera Iconica Architecture VeraWell Insider Interview Katie Ziem

VW:  How were you personally introduced to the practice of Ayurveda? 

KZ: While traveling through India I was intrigued by the integration of the health of the body and the health of the mind through a vast spiritual, herbal, sensory, dietary and yogic approach.  I, myself, had been fighting an infection that I had picked up in New Zealand.  This infection wasn’t responding to the usual antibiotic treatment and I stumbled upon an Ayurvedic doctor.  He looked at me, took my pulse, looked at my tongue, asked many questions and then handed me a vile of very small pellets to take internally.  Within a couple of days I felt great. 

I came home, back to the US, and attended an Ayurvedic workshop.  I kept up with my own yoga and found that other ailments I had experienced over the years, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, hormone imbalances, anxiety, digestive upset, depression, & weight gain, were kept at bay while living an Ayurvedic lifestyle – eating for my doshic balance, and eating seasonal foods.   

VW:  When we met a few months back, you introduced our team to the concept of Ayurvedic landscape design.  What are some of the effects or results of having an ayurvedic landscape as a homeowner?

KZ:  A lot of installed landscapes are templates, and though they may be attractive, they are not a personal expression. They are not unique. I bring a greater awareness and healing to the outdoor environment through the 5 senses: touch, sight, smell, sound, and taste. The process starts with a consultation that addresses the emotional, physical and environmental needs of the client. That can mean we see the garden from seed to the mature plant and then harvested for food, tea, lotion, etc. Or, the garden may be a meditative space, a joyful place, that has the ability to deeply heal the household. The play of textures with leaves (the gentle velvety texture of stachys contrasted with spiky needles of a spruce tree), the colors of flowers and different greenery throughout your garden, the sound of your foot as it travels over different terrain, the smell of herbs in the summer sun, and the taste of the strawberry freshly picked lead to a more intentional and creative space. This leads to a complete environment that is a reflection of the wholeness we all seek to feel.

Vera Iconica Architecture VeraWell Insider Interview Katie Ziem
VW:  What are your favorite wellness activities, practices, or rituals?

KZ: Laughter, good & nourishing food, daily walks in the woods, yoga, pranayama and meditation. And in the summer, resting on my porch swing and watching my garden grow.

VW:  Do you have any advice for those who are on the path to personal wellness, or advice for those on a wellness-focused career path?

KZ: Set reasonable & obtainable goals. Set yourself up for success because that leads you to further successes down the road. Gather those that see and support your true divine spirit, and allow those that hinder you to fall to the wayside. Sometimes the path seems distant like the mountain range, and sometimes it is hidden in brambles.  Don’t be discouraged.  Absorb all that is around you, and realize your path is uniquely you.

If you’d like to get in touch with Katie to learn more about Ayurveda or schedule a consultation, shoot an email to tetonalchemy@gmail.com, or check out her website http://www.tetonalchemy.com/.

Vera Iconica Architecture VeraWell Insider Interview Katie Ziem