Yogic tips for surviving the Summer heat

Summer is well and truly here in New Zealand with long, hot days and busy social schedules. We thought we’d share a few yogic tips and a fantastic recipe for a Pitta pacifying tea to help keep you cool during the summer heat.

In Yoga and Ayurveda (which is the sister science to yoga, also known as the science of life) the elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space can be found all around us in our external environment as well as present within our physical bodies.

In Ayurveda these elements combine in the body to create the three main doshas or constitutional types. Vata is composed of Space and Air, Pitta of Fire and Water, and Kapha of Earth and Water.

The elements of Fire and Water combine to create the Pitta constitution and Summer is considered Pitta season, a time of heat and movement with long days filled with extra activities and busy schedules. Both in Yoga and Ayurveda we try to work with the seasons as opposed to against them, so here are a few simple tips for keeping Pitta under control during summer!

Avoid Pitta aggravating foods

During the summer, avoid eating foods that are hot, spicy or salty. These qualities all increase the Pitta dosha. Red meat, red wine and hard liquors are also all very heating and should be avoided or at least minimised during the summer months.

Favour Pitta pacifying foods

Instead, eat foods which are sweet, bitter or astringent as these tastes are all pacifying for Pitta.

Examples of cooling and Pitta pacifying foods are fresh coriander, cucumbers, coconut, milk, yoghurt, ghee, fresh leafy greens, dates, plums, apples.

Avoid ice cold drinks and foods

As tempting as it is, eating or drinking icy cold foods is actually not very helpful in summer and tends to disrupt our digestion and decrease our already lower digestive fire. Favour drinking room temperature drinks rather than ice cold.

Keep hydrated

Ensure you are drinking plenty of water daily (avoiding iced or chilled water) along with other cooling beverages like the CCF tea recipe below or a homemade electrolyte drink to replenish you after a lot of sweating (to a glass of cool water simply add 1 teaspoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon sugar, and a pinch of pink salt).

Here is our favourite tea for the summer months. It’s refreshing, cooling and surprisingly enjoyable on a hot day.

Pitta Pacifying CCF Tea Recipe

Ingredients
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon food grade rose water (we use Cortas Rose Water)
1 cup boiling water

Preparation

  • Mix the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds together.
  • Add the boiling water.
  • Steep for 5 minutes, covered.
  • Strain and discard the seeds.
  • Add the rosewater, starting with half a teaspoon and adding more to taste as it is a strong flavour.

Serve this tea at room temperature, lukewarm, or cool. Do not serve hot or iced as both of these will take away the cooling benefits of this drink.

Enjoy!

 

Thieves Oil for autumn & winter immune boost

thievesherbs

A number of you enjoyed the blog post I recently wrote on yogic tips for navigating the change of season into Autumn. Now is definitely the time of year for preventative self care to keep ourselves healthy and happy as we make our way towards winter.

Since colder days are on their way, Michael and I have started using an essential oil blend to stimulate immunity and help with any stress, tiredness or lack of ‘oomph’. This blend includes highly antibacterial, antiviral and anti-infectious essential oils and is known as the “Thieves Oil”.

Thieves Oil is fantastic in an oil burner; used diluted as a cleaning solution for laundry, floors, surface disinfectant, bed linen/mattresses, cell phones; or rubbed into the chest, back and neck with carrier oil at the first sign of a cold.

Our blend was created with organic and wildcrafted oils by Kasia Degler-White, an extremely knowledgeable aromatherapist and massage therapist (who also made the beautiful lavender eye pillows we use during Yoga Nidra).

10ml bottles available for $40 (a little goes a long way!!). We have a tester in the studio so you can experience this delicious blend yourself.

We asked Kasia to share the fascinating history of Thieves Oil:

Once upon a time there were Four Thieves…

The thieves were actually spice traders and merchants who imported spices, including cinnamon and clove from India. When the Black Plague hit in the middle of the XIV century, all international trade and shipping came to a halt, and these spice traders had to find another way to support themselves.
Since everyone was afraid to touch the dead bodies, they decided to loot the homes and bodies of the plague victims. They knew they wouldn’t get sick if they rubbed vinegar, oils, and certain spices all over their bodies.

Their plan worked well until the King found out… He wanted to know their secret – how they were able to touch dead bodies without getting sick! He sent his constables out to capture them. Four of the thieves were caught and brought before the King. Having to choose between life and death at the stake, the four thieves decided to share their secret formula with the King, who immediately posted it all over the town.
The secret components of this highly antibacterial, antiviral and anti-infectious blend are –

  • Clove Bud (Eugenia caryophyllata) organic
  • Lemon (Citrus limonum) organic
  • Cinnamon Leaf (Cinnamonum verum) wild
  • Eucalyptus Australiana (Eucalyptus radiata) wild
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) organic

Clove Bud (Eugenia caryophyllata) contains up to 70% eugenol, 22% esters, and 5% sesquiterpenes. Clove buds have been used both as a spice and natural remedy for over 2000 years. Essential oil of clove has an impressive range of action against pathogens and illnesses of all kinds. It has antiviral and antifungal effects. It is also antiparasitic and works for gum infections, toothaches, and tonsillitis.

Cinnamon Leaf (Cinnamonum verum) was traditionally used in the East to help with common complaints such as cold, flu, digestive problems and joint inflammation. It is said to be effective against 98% of all pathogenic bacteria. It is also effective against yeasts, candida and fungi. It is antiparasitic and prevents fermentation in the intestines; it is effective against diarrhea, colitis, amoebic dysentery, bacterial cystitis, and urinary tract infections with E. coli and tropical infections accompanied by fever.

Lemon (Citrus limonum) has a long history of use in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. Essential oil of lemon has strong anti-infectious and antiviral activity due to its high content of limonene. It supports healthy immune function when fighting infection, and is also used to promote cleansing in the lymphatic system and to help relieve muscular aches and pains.

Eucalyptus Australiana (Eucalyptus radiata) has strong antibacterial, antiviral, and expectorant properties. Essential oil of eucalyptus is traditionally used by indigenous communities in Australia for skin problems like insect bites and sunburn. It has been commonly indicated for treating colds, respiratory ailments, as well as muscle, nerve and joint pain.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is well documented in recent history. The French hung rosemary in their hospitals during World War II due to its antiseptic and purifying properties. During the plague, bunches of rosemary were hung and burned to help fight off infection. Essential oil with high cineole and camphor content has strong anti-infectious and expectorant effects, and can be used to assist healthy breathing and digestion. Rosemary Cineol also aids regular circulation and is helpful with joint and muscle pain.

How to use Thieves Oil

Diffuser

This method of essential oils diffusion by nebulization (micro droplets) purifies the air and helps defend against infectious pathogens. Diffuse 15-20 drops of Thieves Oil for 15 minutes three to four times a day.

Household use

Dishwasher, laundry, floors, surface disinfectant, bed linen/mattresses, cell phones. Prepare cleaning solution by adding 15 drops of Thieves oil into 200ml spray bottle and use when needed.

Common Ailments

  • During cold and flu season – at the very first sign of any symptoms – dilute 15 drops with 15 drops of carrier oil and massage into lower back, chest and back of the neck.
  • For immune support massage 2-4 drops diluted in 4 drops of carrier into the bottom of feet. Apply twice daily, morning and night.
  • At the very first sign of sore throat add 2-3 drops of Thieves oil to 2 tablespoons of water and gargle. You can make lemon, ginger and honey drink, add 1 drop of Thieves and drink as a tea.
  • For extra support during cold and flu season, place 2-4 drops in an empty capsule with 4-6 drops of vegetable oil (EVO, avocado, sesame seed) and swallow daily to boost immune system.

Yogic tips for navigating Autumn

A warm pot of Ayurvedic Kitchari for breakfast

A warm pot of Ayurvedic Kitchari for breakfast

As we head into Autumn, Yoga and Ayurveda can provide simple ways to support your physical, mental and emotional health as we transition into the next season.

The qualities of Autumn

Summer is a time of heat and movement with long days filled with extra activities and busy schedules. Autumn on the other hand is a cooler, quieter time with the days beginning to shorten as we start to slow down and prepare for winter. Yoga and Ayurveda encourage us to work with the shifting seasons, as opposed to against them.

Autumn is Vata season. In Yoga and Ayurveda (which is the sister science to yoga, also known as the science of life) the elements of earth, water, fire, air and space can be found all around us in our external environment as well as present within our physical bodies.

The elements of air and space combine to create the Vata constitution within the body, and when it comes to the seasons, Autumn is the time when these elements are also increased in our external environment too – lots of wind, dryness, crackling leaves. Do you notice that this time of year is when these qualities are more present within your body? Dryer skin, cracking or stiff joints, an increase in aches and pains and perhaps a scattered distracted feeling within the mind?

Support your digestive system

Now is the time to gently begin moving away from the cooling foods and drinks we tend to favour during the summer months. Eat less iced or cold food or drinks, and avoid dry, airy foods such as crackers or popcorn.

  • During Autumn try more grounding, warm and easy-to-digest foods.
  • Focus on mushy, warm, and savoury porridges for breakfast with plenty of grounding root vegetables, such as the kitchari in the photo above.
  • Pick steamed greens over salads.
  • Incorporate more soups and stews.
  • Drink warming digestive teas, such as ginger, cinnamon and cardamom tea.

Focus on routine

Both Autumn and Vata have a variable/mobile quality, think strong winds, unstable weather, and erratic temperatures. The best way to counteract this variability in our environment is to focus on routine in our daily lives.

Think of five rituals you could do every morning and every evening. You don’t have to go fancy and life changing, these might be things you already do – brushing your teeth, cleaning your tongue, washing your face, oiling the skin, 3 minutes of belly breathing, etc.

Commit to one week of doing these five things everyday, in the same order, first thing upon waking and last thing before bed. Don’t make it complicated and treat it as a little experiment and see what happens.

A few other suggestions for Autumn

  • Include regular nourishing physical practices such as a Satmya Yoga class, walking, swimming or Tai Chi
  • Make room in your schedule for rest and relaxation in a quiet setting. It can be as simple as setting a timer on your phone for 3mins when you get home to sit quietly with closed eyes before you move onto other tasks such as the evening meal or working on the computer.
  • Avoid loud music, fast driving, over-scheduling, and starting too many new projects.
  • Dress warmly when indoors or outside and focus on protecting the neck, ears, and head on windy days.
  • Avoid cold draughty environments.
  • If you are finding falling asleep difficult or your sleep is broken, try gently massaging your feet just before bed with a little cold pressed, organic sesame oil. (NOTE: Do NOT use toasted sesame oil, this is a completely different oil!). Sesame oil is warming, grounding and soothing for Vata.

As a trained Yoga Therapist as well as a Yoga Teacher, I love using my knowledge of Yoga and Ayurveda to navigate the changing seasons and keep healthy. I hope these Autumn tips have been helpful.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me or have a chat after class.

Namaste
Felicity

Some yoga is better than NO yoga!

city mike crow matarangi

Even if you can’t make it to classes in January, try to keep up a bit of home practice wherever you may be. Yes, even if you’re camping or off holidaying someplace beautiful. Your body and mind will thank you for it. While on holiday, Michael and I chose to have some fun doing crow pose on the deck before heading out for a swim!

The following are simple ways to fit some quick yoga into the day:

  • When you first wake up, take a moment to perform 5 abdominal breathes. Rather than let your mind race ahead to all the things on your to do list, this gives you a chance to wake up feeling a little more calm.
  • Do a couple of rounds of sun salutations in the morning or even during afternoon tea.
  • Try a gentle spinal twist in the evening before you hop into bed.
  • Get creative, do a few yoga poses like butterfly while you’re watching tv or use ad breaks as a chance to do some downward dog, tree pose or a gentle forward bend.
  • Get your kids involved, they are natural yogis. Get them doing some downward dogs, churning the mill (stirring the pot) or cat stretches and make up some fun stories around the poses.

Spring is in the air!

Even the weeds are blooming

Even the weeds are blooming

Spring is a time when the much anticipated returning warmth starts thawing out the ice and cold of winter in our environments.

Traditionally in Yoga (and its sister healing modality Ayurveda), spring is a time when we see these same effects in the body with accumulated “ice and cold” (we call this Kapha dosha) starting to liquefy and run out of the body, often leading to people getting spring colds. With an abundance of blooming spring flowers shedding their pollen, spring is also a time for hay fever and allergies to flair up too.

Here are some simple Yoga and Ayurveda based tips for navigating Spring!

  • Have light, easily digestible meals and try to avoid the larger, heavy meals we tend to favour in winter.
  • Even though the sun is teasing us with some stunning, warm days, in spring it is best to stay away from cold drinks and ice cream until summer is officially here.
  • Drink plenty of warming teas. Ginger and cinnamon is a delicious tea to try.
  • Do your best to keep warm and dry, avoiding cold drafts, damp environments and air conditioning if you can.
  • Increase your exercise gradually. Take advantage of the increasing daylight and try a quick walk in the morning or hop on your yoga mat for either some rounds of Sun Salutations at home or join us for a Satmya Yoga class and get the body moving for spring!
  • Use the uplifting spring energy to come out of winter hibernation and get stuck into some projects. Planting some herbs and veggies for summer, tackling some spring cleaning around the home, cleaning out your wardrobe or committing to regular, weekly exercise such as walks in nature or yoga so you can feel energised and healthy when summer arrives.

As a trained Yoga Therapist as well as a Yoga Teacher, I love using my knowledge of Yoga and Ayurveda to navigate the changing seasons and keep healthy. I hope these spring tips have been helpful.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me or have a chat after class.

Namaste
Felicity

 

Health benefits of winter yoga

We’ve hit the middle of winter and its a time of year we can enjoy hot soups and casseroles, snuggling up in a blanket to watch movies and spending lots of cosy time by the fire or heater staying warm. But winter can bring its fair share of gloom with less sun and warmth to energise us along with the usual colds, coughs, aching joints, dry skin and feeling lethargic.

Yoga can definitely be a powerful addition to your winter survival kit.

Fight the winter blues:
With less sunshine, shorter days and often cold, gloomy, grey weather, winter can have a significant effect on our mood and energy levels. While our natural instinct can be often be hiding away from the world, getting onto the yoga mat and moving the body can have a positive effect on mood. A Satmya Yoga class incorporates asana (phsycial postures), pranayama (breathing techniques) and yoga nidra (relaxation) to get your body moving, energise you and calm the mind.

Keep moving, keep warm:
On cold nights it can be tempting to skip yoga class and stay home. But getting yourself to class and moving your body through asana (yoga poses) will get your circulation moving, increase body temperature and warm up cold hands and feet by increasing blood flow to these areas. Regular yoga during winter also reduces stiffness and joint pain which can often flair up during the colder weather.

Fighting winter bugs:
Winter doesn’t have to be a time of lowered immunity. Regular yoga practice helps to boost our body’s immune system and pranayama techniques can have a positive effect on clearing congested chests and sinuses. In particular, warming pranayama exercises can assist the body in fighting off winter viruses and infections or help us recover from a winter cold quickly.

Namaste
Felicity