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Ayurveda for Yoga Students and Teachers:
The Serenity Prayer always reminds me of the link between Yoga and Ayurveda:
‘God, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (YOGA), the courage to change the things I can (AYURVEDA) and the wisdom to know the difference’. Once you know when you can use yoga and when you can implement Ayurveda you have two of the sharpest tools in the box to keep the body and mind strong, healthy and happy.
Because Ayurveda, like Yoga, is a very big subject, we will look just at a subject called Rtucharya here. Rtu means ‘season’ and Charya means ‘to follow’. The subject of Rtucharya highlights those actions we take to avoid being pulled out of balance by the changing seasons. In particular, we will look at the subject of the Summer season.
In the Summer season we can all agree that it is hotter, lighter (longer days) and dryer than the other seasons. Even if we have a particularly bad Summer it does not match the temperature, rainfall or short days seen in the Winter, Autumn or even Spring. Of course there is a little Summer energy in every season, but the overall pattern is the one mentioned above. But why are we interested in what qualities dominate during our Summer? It is because the root of all treatment in Ayurveda is to provide balance by using qualities opposite to those which are causing symptoms of imbalance. In the Summer we use the qualities of cold, heaviness and hydration via food and activity (Ahara and Vihara) to maintain balance in body and mind.
In the Summer almost everyone needs to take measures at some point to avoid overheating. During the hot summer months our agni (digestive fire) can be drawn to the surface with results such as heat rash/ prickly heat, pimples, bloodshot eyes. Excess heat can also lead to diarrhoea, heart-burn, indigestion, anger and frustration – so it is worth knowing about Rtucharya as the Summer sun accumulates!
These symptoms are called ‘aggravated Pitta’. Pitta means ‘to burn’. Because the qualities of Pitta are so similar to the hot Summer sun, it is Pitta that we look after during the Summer months.
Pitta is one of the three doshas within the body. The doshas can be described as operating systems within the body. People with a predominance of Pitta dosha or a Pitta imbalance need to take extra special care that the Summer season doesn’t further aggravate their sensitive condition.
To stay at your best this Summer use Cold, Heavy and Hydrating remedies:
Ahara/Food – An example of a cooling diet:
Breakfast: Banana Smoothie
– Blend 2 cups of ripe bananas, lime juice and 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom in a blender and enjoy!
Lunch: Summer Soup
– Use the freshest of vegetables!
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon anise seed
1 tablespoon of a cumin/fennel/coriander blend
2 fresh corn
5 small new potatoes
4 stalks celery
1 small head of broccoli
5 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper
In your pot, place oil over a high heat and add anise seeds. When seeds start to pop, remove from fire and add cumin/fennel/coriander mix. Add rest of ingredients, stir and cook till vegetables tender and tasty!
1/3 cup split mung dal
2/3 cup basmati rice
3 to 4 cups of water
1/2 tsp each of organic turmeric, ginger, roasted cumin and coriander.
A handful each of spinach and peas
Simmer the mung dal and rice in the water. Add all the herbs and then the vegetables. It is best to cook it on a very low heat in a covered saucepan and do not stir.
You can add an omega oil such as hemp or flax or a spoonful of ghee before serving.
Snacks: Sweet fruits, mangoes
Drinks Favour cooling herbal teas with mint, peppermint, licorice, fennel and roses, Coconut water is a wonderful coolant.
Minimise alcohol & caffeine At bed-time rub the soles of your feet with cooling coconut oil, adding a few drops of lavender or sandalwood. Get to bed between 10-11pm. Practice anger management. If you know you get irritable and frustrated as the heat rises the yoga and pranayama below provide a cooling balm to the mind! Stick to the usual advice of avoiding the sun between 10am and 3pm and if you do burn, apply soothing aloe vera gel.
Your yoga and pranayama practice:
When you’re feeling hot, irritated, angry, cranky, tight and tense, ready to explode, boiling over, under pressure from all sides with deadlines, questions and demands. Or when you are simply following Pitta Vrkrti Chikitsa. This is your portable air conditioner and coolant!