When my good friend, Nicole, announced she was teaching an introductory class on Ayurvedic Health and Beauty, I jumped at the opportunity! As a girl who already makes eating a conscious and deliberate experience, I was excited to learn more. What I discovered in the class were some simple ways to incorporate Ayurvedic principles into my repertoire. I thought about trying to explain what I learned, but then I thought better of it and asked the expert instead. So today, Nicole is joining us on the blog for a little Ayurveda 101 and some tips especially for summer! A little birdy told me she might be offering classes seasonally to teach people how to best support their health and body during each season! You know I’ll be all over that! You can find out more about upcoming classes and about Ayurveda and yoga in general on her blog, Experiments with Truth.
Gardening and Eating with Ayurveda in Mind
Your garden is nature’s pharmacy. By utilizing the wealth of healing plants in the garden, we can use the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda to balance our bodies and minds. It takes eating organically and locally to the next level by considering how these foods can be best digested in our bodies.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a comprehensive healthcare system from India. It recognizes each individual as a unique blend of the 5 elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth). By knowing your dosha, or mind-body constitution, you can adapt your diet and lifestyle to balance your natural tendencies. Knowing your dosha can also help you understand your unique gifts and inherent life challenges. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. To find out your dosha, click here (link to www.pukkaherbs.com/dosha-quiz)
How can I start incorporating Ayurveda today?
Adapting an Ayurvedic seasonal routine is a great place to begin. Summer is known as the “Pitta season” because it is dominated by the fire element. In Ayurveda, when one quality increases, we add the opposite quality to achieve a healthy balance. For example, when tea is too hot, we add ice (or time) to bring down the heat. Similarly, in the warm summer months, we benefit from adding cooling spices, foods, activities and routines to our busy lives. Cooling spices include fennel, coriander, peppermint and rose. Cucumber, cilantro, mint, coconut water, lettuce, peas, apples, strawberries and figs are refreshing food choices for summer. These make delicious additions to a smoothie, soup, salad or stir fry. Additionally, we can reduce (it’s not necessary to eliminate completely) foods that are heating and pungent like onions, garlic, cayenne, wasabi, pepper, caffeine and alcohol during the summer months.
You may notice that your Pitta is aggravated if you’re feeling angry, competitive, jealous or flustered. You may suffer from acne breakouts or red, irritated skin. Sour belching, heartburn, loose stools and excess sweating or thirst are other signs of Pitta imbalance. When these undesirable symptoms occur, move towards cooling and soothing activities. Reading in the shade, avoiding the noon sun, meditating or practicing yoga can be helpful. Try a 10-minute self-massage with coconut oil (especially on the soles of the feet) or spritzing the face with rose water. Taking a catnap or even a few deep breaths can help reset the system. Essentially, self-care is the cure.
How else can I balance Pitta during the summer?
Drinking 8-10 glasses of room temperature or warm water each day can help you stay hydrated and beautiful during these hot months. Ice water is much harder to digest and stamps out agni (the good, productive digestive fire). In Ayurveda, you aren’t what you eat. You are what you can digest. This means that we may close attention to digestion because it plays a major role in the functioning of the other systems: immune, circulatory, respiratory, endocrine, lymphatic, reproductive and nervous system. Cooked veggies are easier to digest than raw ones, so aim for about 30% raw and 70% cooked veggies.
Just like time in the garden, an Ayurvedic seasonal routine reconnects us to the cycles of nature. As you enjoy the abundance of summer, take a few minutes to refresh and hydrate your body. The effects will show up in your skin, attitude and overall health. I wish you many peaceful, relaxing summer evenings as you relish this gorgeous season.