Ayurveda is defined as an ancient form of medicine with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. The theory and practice of Ayurveda go hand in hand with Yoga. Yoga asana and pranayama as well as Ayurvedic techniques can be drawn upon to keep us healthy,balanced and in tune with our bodies and seasons.
This past weekend, Suzanne and I had a workshop to share these techniques that we fine-tuned for summer. Globally the heat is rising. And, summer time is getting hotter and hotter. The heat of summer can drain our bodies of energy and vitality so it is essential to bring a cooling, soothing energy and balance ourselves. Here are some of the tips and and suggestions from the weekend:
Our bodies are made up of the elements found on Earth. We are made of
1. Earth~ obviously soil and rocks but the poetic earthy quality is stability, structure, groundedness.
2. Fire~ digestive power, transformative energy, clarity, anger, HEAT
3. Air~ wind, prana, vitality, ungrounded (spacey/dreamy)
4. Water~ fluidity, cooling, adaptable, going with the flow.
5. Space~. expansiveness, the creative force
In Summer the dominant element is fire. To create balance, we need to seek Soma. Soma is the cooling soothing element of the Moon that is related to the pineal gland in the body. The neurotransmitter serotonin is associated with bliss and contentment and is made in the pineal gland. We also need the cooling, refreshing element of water. We can find Soma in food, drink, Mantra( chanting), asana, pranayama and meditation, and aromatherapy. Remember, cooling is both a state of mind and nervous system as well as a temperature.
The scent and flavor of rose is an essential cooling plant. Use rose in water, in food or as a jam, or an incense to cool ourselves. Summer is the time of year you can indulge in your sweet tooth! Other flavors are: fennel, mint, coriander and Holy Basil. Consume sweet, juicy foods like melon, squash, zucchini,cucumber, grapes and stone fruit. Speaking of food, eat your largest meal during the sun's highest peak in the sky. 12 ish. This is when your digestion is at its strongest. Since digestion is the strongest at noon, it's the best time to eat protiens too. It is never a good idea to skip or delay meals, this can lead to irritability or a hot liver.
Abhyanga, oil massage is so important to cool and soothe. Use coconut oil in the summer, use it on your scalp and all over your largest organ (skin). Apply liberally and wait 20 minutes before washing off in a warm shower. Aloe is another soothing and refreshing plant to use in the summer.
For the mind and spirit, incorporating aromatherapy with vetiver, jasmine or rose will cool/ calm you. Keep up on asana practice, in particular, practice forward bends with the head supported, shoulder stand and the poses in that family, pranayama-especially Nadi Shodhana or tounge curling as well as simhasana ( the lions breath).
Try modifying your sleep schedule to be in bed no later than 10pm. This will help your body repair and process so you wake up feeling refreshed.
We learned the Mantra of the moon:
Om Som Somaya Namaha
Have a great summer and we will be having another workshop for fall, which is the best time to do a deep cleanse. Stay tuned for more!