The following is a guest blog post by one of our very own sponsored yoga teachers, Pam Rand, RDN, RYT. She talks to us about what Ayurveda is and how we should approach it during the summer and hot months. Thank you, Pam, for your insight! I hope everyone can take a little bit of this with them as they approach the heat.
Ayurveda is an ancient eastern system for preventing illness and preserving LIFE!
Use real whole foods and yoga to balance disease.
A basic tenet of ayurveda is: like increases like, so in the summer you wouldn’t want to eat and exercise with foods and activities that increase the heat as our weather may be enough!
Of the three doshas, pitta represents the summer season. Some qualities of pitta include: hot, sharp, light, liquid, oily, spreading, flesh-smelling. Think of the opposite of these words and the opposites may describe the qualities of your summer diet and activities.
To keep Pitta balanced, choose more sweet, bitter and astringent foods; spices like turmeric and peppercorn can cool Pitta. Homemade iced chai or iced green tea with a small amount of REAL sweetener vs. artificial sweeteners. Maybe a smoothie made with vanilla almond milk and seasonal fruit plus greens for breakfast vs. bacon and eggs or pancakes and sausage. Bean salad, potato salad or coleslaw for lunch over a bed of fresh greens. High fiber foods that are seasonal and REAL vs. processed.
Choose more food from the sweet, astringent and bitter lists below to help keep us cooler mentally and physically during the summer months. Eating smaller portions overall will keep our body/mind running less hot. Raw foods are better in the summer or at lunch time when digestion is the strongest. During the pitta summer season, go easy on animal protein(beef, fish, chicken and pork) and alcohol as it heats up our systems when digested and metabolized.
Here are some examples of each of the 6 tastes:
Sweet: Almonds, sugar, milk, rice, wheat, large beans
Salty: Salt, seaweed, salted snacks
Sour: Lemon, yogurt, cheese, tomatoes, sour fruits, pickled fruits, tamarind
Pungent: Ginger, mustard, clove, hot spices, radish, chilies, garlic
Astringent: Beans, lentils, pomegranate, unripe bananas, apples, cabbage, potatoes, cranberries
Bitter: Green tea, green leafy veggies, endive, tonic water, fenugreek, rhubarb, turmeric, chocolate
Activities should be fun and not produce so much heat that we become dehydrated and exhausted. Walking, biking or jogging on pavement during midday when it is the hottest may result in a ‘pitta imbalance.’ This type of imbalance usually doesn’t feel good from the heart center outwards. A pitta imbalance will result in inflammation mentally, physically and emotionally.
Even your yoga will change in the summer months. Instead of driving to a class, trust yourself and choose a flow of postures in the supine position that stretch the big muscles of the hips and legs encouraging space for increased flexibility in the entire organism! Move your body instinctively by following your own easy breath. Practice your yoga outside in a shady spot in the morning or in the evening by yourself or with others. Tune in to your senses, it’s guaranteed to be the best music you’ll ever hear; see the leaves on the trees and the color of the sky; feel the weather on your skin and stop and smell the flowers, you’ll be glad you did.
Your yoga practice may be savasana only, let it be and surrender.
We need to trust ourselves and slow down. Use conscious breathing for 6-10 cycles to know what you are hungry for…a salad, a swim, a cool drink, a leisurely walk by yourself or with friends. Take a vacation from work or home by planning to turn off your phone or TV and go outside for the mere enjoyment of food, friends and activities that are pitta balancing like sitting under a shade tree. Enjoy yourself during the summer months a breath at a time.