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!

 

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.

Post Christmas dinner relaxation technique to aid digestion

Even with the best intentions, so many of us end up overindulging on Christmas day and feeling quite tired afterwards, heading to the couch for a nap. However when our body is busy trying to digest all that yummy Christmas food, having a sleep in a strange position isn’t always the best solution.

While yoga nidras are a great way to boost energy when we’re tired, they are best performed a few hours after a meal. The 8-16-32 breath technique is an excellent relaxation you can do after lunch or dinner, to recharge your batteries while at the same time aiding digestion and reducing bloating. Following a meal we want to focus on lying on the left side to help with the digestive process, so the longest part of this practice is spent on our left.

8-16-32 breath relaxation technique

  • Find a place where you can comfortably spread out and not be disturbed. Take your time and try to not rush the practice.
  • Start in Shavasana (corpse pose). Lie on your back, arms slightly away from the body, palms facing up. Legs hip width apart, feet flopped to the side. Relax the whole body. Close the eyes.
  • Take 8, deep, full abdominal breaths. Feel the belly rise on the in breath, feeling the belly sink as you exhale.
  • Roll onto your right side now, relaxing the whole body.
  • Take 16 abdominal breaths. Feel the belly rise on the in breath, feeling the belly sink as you exhale.
  • Roll onto your left side now, relaxing the whole body.
  • Take 32 abdominal breaths. Feel the belly rise on the in breath, feeling the belly sink as you exhale.
  • Gently and slowly raise yourself back to seated and take a few normal breaths in and out the nose.

I hope you can file this away in your Christmas survival toolbox and try it out on Christmas or Boxing Day! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas 🙂

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

Namaste
Felicity

Gingerbread Man Yoga image from HERE