Aaaah, the great Australian Christmas, burnt bbq food, lots of booze, family arguments, and having to ‘catch up before Christmas’ leaving you feeling frazzled. Does this sound familiar? Change the way you feel and approach the Christmas break with yoga and Ayurveda.
Ayurveda, the sister science of Yoga is one of the oldest health care systems in the world and can be literally translated as the ‘science of life’. Ayurveda says we all have a unique mind/body type called a Dosha.
There are 3 different Doshas based on the elements and associated with a particular season– Vata (air - winter), Pitta (fire - Summer), Kapha (water – Spring). To find a full sense of wellbeing and harmony, Ayurveda says we need to balance these Doshas with diet, lifestyle, meditation, and yoga.
As Pitta is driven by the sun and the heat, summer can bring out the excess in this Dosha – ever heard the term ‘gone troppo?’. Aussie slang that came from the stories of settlers in the northern parts of Australia going crazy from long spells of heat! Excess heat and excess Pitta can result in feelings of irritability and anger. Couple this with the silly season, over indulgence and rushing from here to there for family Christmas catch-ups, and it’s easy to see how we can feel burnt out by January.
Find some balance during your Christmas break, and enjoy the sunshine and parties while staying nourished, rejuvenated, cool and calm.
1. Yoga Asana
San salutations are awesome for warming your body, but probably not the best to do on a 40 degree summers day. If you are finding yourself running around and feeling burnt out, take time out for yourself for some cooling yoga postures. Some of the best for this are:
Prasarita Padottanasana and Paschimottanasana – Beautiful cooling forward folds, that will also allow yourself to turn inside.
Viparita Karani – An underated yoga Asana in my opinion! Take your bottom in close to the wall and put your legs up the wall. Very calming, and relaxing and great to relieve tired legs. Perfect to do before bed or just to take a 5 minute time out.
Ardha Matsendrasana – Seated spinal twist. Twists create pressure on your digestive organs and can help with the detoxification process. Practice after a day of over-indulgence to get things going!
2. Eat Cooling Foods
· Eating hot, warm and spicy foods will only aggravate the Pitta Dosha. Your body will naturally gravitate towards more cooling foods in summer, so listen to your body and seek out healthy salads, smoothies and fruit. Avoid chilli and cayenne pepper.
· Try and avoid over-indulgence by eating mindfully, savour every bite, really taste and experience the flavours and eat in a calming atmosphere.
· Add herbs to your food that help to balance the Pitta dosha like coriander, fennel and cardamom.
· Coconut Oil is a cooling oil and the best to use in Summer to lightly cook foods or add to smoothies..
· …And.. yep this one is hard over Christmas, but try and limit alcohol intake (!!), caffeine and drink plenty of water.
Take time out, even just 5 minutes first thing in the morning to set your intention for the day and simply be with yourself. Your day will start from a calm, centred place. This year I’m going to start my day with a gratitude meditation, to make me really appreciate what Christmas is about.
An effective cooling Pranayama is Shitali (or sitali) breath. If you can roll your tongue (that thing you’d do when you were at school to gross people out), this is perfect to cool down.
-Breathe in through your mouth (with your tongue curled up at the sides) and then out through your nose.
- If you can’t curl your tongue have your teeth closed and open your mouth wide with teeth closed (kind of like the Joker from batman) and breathe in through your teeth and out through your nose.
These sound like bizarre instructions, but I’m not making it up! I’ve found this Youtube clip here that talks you through in more detail. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4B_Kestynw. Give it a try!
Stay cool Yogis and have a healthy and happy Christmas and New Year with your loved ones!
The Yoga Social Team