Over the past decade, Perry Macdonald has immersed herself in her passion for Ayurvedic medicine, a health system developed some five thousand years ago by the sages of India, and considered by many to be one of the world’s most enduring, sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems. Perry loves what she does, and it is obvious that she practices what she preaches, as she radiates beauty, calmness, serenity and positivity.


More than a mere system for treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realising their full human potential. The two main guiding principles of Ayurveda are that the mind and the body are inextricably connected, and that we look at all dimensions of one’s being to see what could have made one vulnerable to getting sick in the first place. It offers countless practices for expanding self-awareness and cultivating an innate state of balance, for instance, through eating well; practicing meditation and getting the right amount of restful sleep. 
According to Ayurveda, sleep is the nursemaid of humanity, so when a colleague mentioned feeling sluggish, possibly due to poor sleep patterns, it was suggested that she book a session with Perry.

Hair Test

Perry works from a tranquil studio with panoramic views across to the sea in Milford on the North Shore. After a friendly introduction, and a brief chat about what was bothering my colleague, Perry suggested commencing with hair profiling: a new technology that measures the resonance of the cells /or the epigenetics of the hair. It is more effective than conventional hair testing — prioritising nutritional needs (vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, anti oxidants, amino acids, EMF’s, toxins and more). You can find out a lot about your present state of health with results of the hair testing during that first session with Perry, who uses the results to assist with treatment advice.


Hair test out of the way, Perry set about finding out more about my colleague and her poor sleep patterns. By working out what Dosha type she is, Perry will have a better insight into what might be causing the problem. The Doshas are the energies that make up every individual: there is Vata, Pitta and Kapha Dosha, and it soon becomes clear that my colleague may need to balance Pitta. Perry continues to ask questions, listens to the answers, frequently suggesting alternative and better ways of doing things, like having a routine around sleep, pen and paper by the bed to write down any bothersome and persistent thoughts, the removal of all technology from the bedroom, and making sure there is some sort of interlude between work and home. She strongly encourages a reflective practice and the use of oils/massage when showering or bathing.

Contact Perry to make a booking.

Diet of course is all-important. A combination of muscle testing, and the results of the hair test emailed back to her from Germany all help to make recommendations. Then there is more chat about various herbs, metagenics supplements and Yoga Nidra — a deep relaxation and guided meditation technique.

The session is over for the day and my colleague walks away from this safe-haven with a plan that should help her release what is not working in her life, and restoration of better sleep patterns.

A month has elapsed since meeting Perry, and my colleague is looking more rested and calm, and says that the quality her of sleep continues to improve as she becomes more adept at doing the things recommended in her session with Ayurveda Health.

Perry’s Refreshing Ayurvedic Tea
A formula that revitalizes, helps to warm up circulation and clear out water retention. It stokes the metabolism (digestive fire) and will help purify the blood. An added bonus is that it tastes good.
Place the following ingredients into a tea infuser basket.
•    1/2 lemon diced
•    5cm fresh ginger sliced
•    generous pinch of fennel seeds
•    generous pinch of cardamom seeds
•    generous pinch of coriander seeds
Pour over freshly boiled water and let stand for 5 minutes.

Verve Magazine November 2015

NZ Herald Review

You’re cooking with massage oils?” a friend quips when I mention I’m off to an ayurvedic-cooking class. Clearly ayurveda is clearly best-known for things other than its cuisine. Native to India, the 5000-year-old tradition is, at heart, a self-care system of preventative medicine that meshes nutrition, meditation, massage, yoga, tailormade herbal remedies – and the odd tantra and mantra.
Practised by a string of celebs including Madonna, Gwyneth and Demi, ayurveda’s no longer just a lifestyle of the rich and famous. With its in-vogue aim of balancing mind and body, it’s become Miss Popularity in the Western world this millenium.

“Five years ago, no one could spell or say ayurveda, but they can now,” says Auckland ayurvedic practitioner Perry MacDonald. She has that radiant glow (but not in an irritatingly zen way) that most of us crave. Though she’s cagey about her age, it’s hard to believe she has two grown-up children.

Having turned her lifestyle into a career, Perry holds health consultations and retreats, teaches yoga and meditation, and practises massage through her company Ayurveda Health ( She also runs an ayurvedic-cooking course – three classes held weekly – at her Milford home every couple of months.

As I’m doing the downward dog at her yoga class one Monday, MacDonald mentions her next round of classes, saying they’ll help people who struggle with adding taste to their food – especially vegetarian food.
This hits a nerve. Instead of emptying my mind on the mat, I’ve been pondering what to make for dinner. I’ve never had much of a cooking mojo. Vegetarian for 18 years, I’ve never learned how to cook tasty, healthy meat-free meals despite stacks of cookbooks and good intentions. The kindest adjective my partner can come up with for my stir-fries is “pedestrian”. I’d say soggy, tasteless, bland.

It turns out MacDonald runs the course for love, not money ($150 barely covers food costs), because she wants to spread the word about how to use spices, which add taste and aid digestion, in everyday cooking. Sold. A few weeks later I turn up in her kitchen, with its oven big enough to house Hansel and Gretel and its Buddha statue. I know ayurveda involves diagnosing doshas (physical constitutions/bioenergies), but you can take or leave that side of things.

Five others press the doorbell. Tim, a hairdresser with a booming laugh; his real-estate agent girlfriend Bernadette, whose lightning quips belie her corporate attire; wistful-looking hospice manager Janine; and mother-of-three Sue, whose daughter’s health problems spurred the family to cook differently. Then there’s project manager Mary, who has IBS, which Perry informs us can be cured by ayurvedic cooking. The jury’s out on that, but there’s consensus that spices (particularly hing and arjwan) aid digestion and reduce bloating.

Apart from the “place in bowel” directive, the recipes look pretty straightforward. Don’t be daunted, MacDonald tells us, by the long ingredient list: most are just a teaspoon of cumin here, a few arjwan seeds there. First up we’re making ghee, which looks much as you’d imagine: like a jar of lard, just yellower. The equivalent of olive oil to Italian cuisine, this clarified butter’s the building block of ayurvedic cooking. You simply heat unsalted butter until the milk sinks to the bottom and the water evaporates, leaving a rich, golden oil. “Ghee brings food alive,” MacDonald says. “A small amount goes a long way, and like whisky it gets better with age.”

We move on to two other ayurvedic-cooking bastions, vegetable subji and dahl, as Tim quips “Hey Dahl, what’s for dinner?” and Bernadette rolls her eyes. “If there’s nothing else in the house you can make subji,” MacDonald says, whipping out “something I prepared earlier”, Alison Holst-style. When I ask if it’s frozen veg, MacDonald shoots me a look of horror. She doesn’t do frozen – or leftovers – and shops fresh every day.

There’s a lot of stirring. Ayurvedic cooking is also about bringing awareness and mindfulness to your cooking and eating, says MacDonald, so you’re not just slapping it in the pot and shovelling it down while glued to The Bachelor. As she relays tidbits about each spice’s health-and-medicinal benefits, she reminds me of Ayla, the healer from the Clan of the Cave Bear book series – all she needs is a totem and medicine bag.

I haven’t looked forward to a meal this much in ages – and not just because aromas are wafting, it’s nearing 9pm and my stomach-gurgling has become alarming. Dinner, followed by spiced rice pud, is delicious. I chew slowly, relish the food, enjoy the company.

At class two, we make chutneys – one tomato, one cilantro-coconut – which go nicely with dahl or fish. And who knew my favourite takeaway – palaak paneer – could be so made easily and healthily? (Vegans can substitute tofu for cheese.) Dessert, semolina halva, is substantial enough to double as breakfast.

At the last lesson, Sue informs us that, to her shock, her three fussy-eater kids liked her paneer. There’s another surprise in store. We’re expecting to make another subji or curry, so we’re thrown when MacDonald, who’s trying to break down the myth that ayurvedic cooking is always Indian, announces tonight’s main is ayurvedic fish ‘n’ chips.

Baked fish is coated in a spicy paste that’s also good for meat and tofu; served with wilted veges, crispy potatoes, and cilantro-coconut chutney; followed by spicy fruit crumble and washed down with a little chai. Because I eat slowly, appreciating each bite, I don’t leave the table over-full, but MacDonald insists we leave her with the dishes. She even makes us up a basic spice tin for me.

After stocking up on every imaginable spice from Mahadeo’s and buying the requisite mortar and pestle, I try flying solo. I can now turn out a decent dahl, vegetable subji, even palaak paneer. It doesn’t taste like MacDonald’s cooking – yet – but it’s good. And as those mustard seeds pop, for the first time in years I’m having fun in the kitchen.

Mung Dahl 
1 cup of split Mung Dahl 
3-4 cups of water 
1 tsp mustard seeds 
1 tsp cumin seeds 
4 Tbs ghee 
1 pinch of hing (Indian spice, also known as asafoetida) 
2 clove of garlic 
2 tsp grated ginger 
10-12 curry leaves 
1/2 tsp turmeric 
1 tsp coriander powder 
2 tsp cumin powder 
1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional) 
Salt to taste 
Handful of chopped coriander leaves 
Lime juice to taste
Rinse the lentils until water runs clear. Mung dahl needs no pre-soaking. Cook dahl on medium heat and skim off any foam that builds at the top.
Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt, ginger, chilli, to the dahl. Continue boiling on low heat .

Heat ghee in a small saucepan.
Add mustard seeds and once they have popped add cumin seeds, a pinch of hing, chopped garlic and curry leaves and fry for a few seconds.
Add the seasoning to the boiling dahl.
Boil for a further 3-4 minutes, then garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
Add a dash of lime and serve hot with steamed rice or roti.

– NZ Herald

My growing love of meditation

I have been practicing meditation for a long time and now teach it. My belief in meditation, as importantt to health and well-being continues to grow. I have noticed how as I continue to practice there is a deepening in all my experiences.The inner silence and sense of peacefulness is carried forth more and more into my daily activity.
I am sure I used to be very black and white with strong opinions. I know sense that I can come from a place, where I know but I don’t know, so my mind is more open and receptive to receive.
The simple act of consciously inhaling and exhaling (breathe meditation) grounds us in our bodies, reminding us where we are, who we are and how precious our life is. When we connect deeply to our own existence in this way many of the petty thoughts and feelings that can dominate our minds dissolve without any effort
If you wish to attend a restorative yoga class where we prepare our bodies and minds, so we can settle into a lead meditative practice you would be very welcome. .nz

Women are not small men

I like this saying – Women are not small men. Often we work in a man’s world, trying to keep up with our male counterparts, forgetting that physiologically and physcologically we are very different species. Often I see young girls working hard out at the gym and opting for vigorous yoga practices when they are on their cycle. The old adage of taking time to rest and to care for themselves during their menses does not seem to occur. Menstruation is an opportunity not only for cleansing but also for rejuvenation. With each monthly cycle, enormous hormonal shifts occur. In Ayurveda your period can be understood as the body’s attempt to clean itself out. Not jut the lining of your uterus but also all the toxins that have built up in your body. Menstrual difficulties are related to the amount of ama (toxins) in your system. Menstrual irregularities can be avoided by keeping the system clear and eating clean appropriate food for your body type.

Ayurvedic Routine -” Live simply so that others may simply live” – mahatma Gandhi

What I love about Ayurveda is the emphasis on prevention of disease. Rather than waiting until there is a problem, you can strengthen your whole system and immunity by integrating the practices of Ayurveda into your life.We need to live in accord with the cycles of nature, and of course our own nature. Understanding our basic constitution enables us to establish an appropriate and regular daily routine.A lifestyle is nothing but the long-term pattern made up of daily routines and habits. Having a daily routine called “dinacharya” in Ayurveda is one of the most importnat elements. When the body adjusts to a daily routine and learns it can count on it, the nervous system can relax.We all know what happens when our habits are irregular; when we eat too much or eat the wrong food at the wrong time. Similarly when we sleep too little or too much; we can’t function as well. Too little exercise, or the wrong type of exercise can disrupt our equilibrium. In establishing a routine that suits us, our whole system works more effectively and we have the stamina and resilience to cope with what life throws at us. The reward is that you will feel healthier and stronger, and be less prone to sickness and disease.