Lessons in making chai, finding balance

An enthusiast of the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda, Muneera Wallace has found a way to spread her knowledge to as many people out West as she can.

On March 4, she will be offering an online workshop on making authentic Indian chai. The workshop will also include discussions about chai’s history and the medicinal properties of the spices used to brew the tea according to Ayurvedic principles as well as different variations found across India.

Discovering her calling for Ayurveda

Mureena Wallace. | Photo courtesy of Muneera Wallace

Wallace hails from the Indian subcontinent, the birthplace of yoga and Ayurveda amongst other practices that have recently become popular in the West. She comes from a family of modern Western doctors and only discovered Ayurveda after leaving home. At 18, Wallace came to Vancouver to study. A former student of UBC’s bio-science program, she discovered her calling under her first teacher, Vaidya (doctor in Sanskrit) Sivakumar Varma.

“Discovering Ayurveda was like coming home for me,” recalls Wallace.

Wallace began working under Varma who had a clinic and store in Kitsilano at the time. This was followed by an informal apprenticeship with Varma. According to Wallace, he taught a small group of keen learners in a beautiful, experiential way.

“I was living Ayurveda, and my day to day understanding and experience was growing,” she says.

After gaining knowledge in the field, in 2014, Wallace decided to go to the Kerala Ayurveda Academy in California to receive certification to become an Ayurvedic Wellness Counsellor. She then began seeing clients and started running a private practice, which didn’t turn out to be as successful a venture as she had hoped.

“I started to see how people have habits and deep-rooted patterns with diet and lifestyle that are hard for them to change,” says Wallace.

With this knowledge under her belt, she decided that good advice was not enough and that something was missing. To rectify this, Wallace trained to become a health coach. In 2018, she relaunched her career from being a birth doula to starting Radiant Living and dedicating herself to Ayurveda. After launching her business, Wallace began consulting in a different fashion.

“[I] integrated science of habit change into my Ayurveda teachings and it worked great. My clients started getting the results they wanted,” says Wallace.

Online workshops and classes

Wallace’s philosophy of teaching is to first inspire students and then teach them. She currently hosts online classes around a foundational health program, 10 Habits for Healthy Living, in which she discusses guidelines taken from her wisdom of Ayurveda on how to live with balance.

“My goal is to share the traditional wisdom of Ayurveda in a way that is accessible and practical in our Western world. I see a lot of people struggling with being overwhelmed – both in their physical and mental health,” says Wallace.

In pre-COVID times, she hosted in-person workshops but now conducts them online in order to reach people beyond Vancouver. She also ran a drop-in monthly membership program where people learned practical Ayurveda concepts for healthy living and were part of a satsang, a community of like-minded people. For anyone dealing with the stress of COVID, she even offers a free 20-minute health strategy session to help people figure out next steps with their well-being.

Of late, she has partnered with her alma mater and has been hosting successful online workshops. In November 2020, she taught Ayurvedic Teas and Tonics online at UBC farm. Since the workshop was successful, she decided to host How to Make Chai – the Indian Spiced Tea.

More information about Wallace’s work can be found on her website: www.radiantlivingvancouver.com and more information on her upcoming workshop can be found on the UBC Farm website: www.ubcfarm.ubc.ca