Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness That most frightens us. (From “Our Deepest Fear”, by Marianne Williamson) There was a time when I practiced yoga simply because...
Spring has sprung, and hopefully you are finally getting the necessary Vitamin D from the sunshine to combat the seemingly endless winter blues. Once our minds turn to outdoor activities, we often start to scrutinize our bodies and imagine how me might look and feel in our summer/swimsuit attire.
This is all part of our body’s innate wisdom to detox and slough off the heaviness that accumulates from a winter of hibernation. A time of rebirth, in the spring our bodies go through a natural cycle of detoxification that rejuvenates us from the inside out. You might notice a shift in the kinds of foods you are craving: suddenly, smoothies and salads seem appealing where a week ago grilled cheeses and baked potatoes filled your food dreams. You might feel sudden longings to go outside for long walks or runs, a desire to take a sweaty yoga class or get your hands dirty in the garden. These cravings signal our bodies’ natural metabolic enthusiasm for creativity, hard work, play, and celebration.
Consider humans’ typical spring/summer activity: daylight is plentiful, and after working we enjoy longer hours of softball games, days at the beach, hikes, walks or runs, and we work on bigger projects like gardening or housework that requires an ability to be outdoors. Our energetic output is no coincidence: it is a sign that despite the influence of modern technology, we are still are still connected to the natural world around us.
Coupled with a newfound energy, many of us experience springtime’s other familiar offering: allergies. According to Ayurveda, allergies are a sign of imbalance in the body, and they are not your fate. Not everyone experiences allergy symptoms, but ask yourself if you experience any of the following:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Low energy, feeling constantly tired or even exhausted
- Poor digestion, including not knowing what foods make you feel good
- Sluggish metabolism
- Low levels of enthusiasm
- Feeling over-stimulated, anxious, and stressed
The 5,000 year-old medical science Ayurveda, translates to the knowledge and wisdom of life. Not merely a system to address illness, Ayurveda is a philosophy of how to experience everyday wellness as a form of preventative medicine. Experiencing any of the symptoms listed above is a reason to check in with your body: having allergies is not just a fact of life, but your body signaling to you that something is imbalanced, and it’s time to bring harmony to your inner ecosystem.
It is important to remember that your body is unique, and there is no single formula or pill for humans across the board to solve all of your health issues once and for all. However, there are certain techniques or daily practices that I recommend to all of my clients, regardless of personal idiosyncrasies, that can help improve your overall feeling of wellness. Techniques so simple, there’s no reason not to start employing each of them today.
This list is numerically ordered not by order of importance, but by chronology of time in the day.
- Sip PLAIN HOT water, first thing in the morning, before consuming ANYTHING ELSE.Yes, plain. I know you’ve read elsewhere to add lemon because it detoxifies the body. Bu t there’s actually a good reason not to add lemon. Lemon, despite it’s alkalizing effect on the body, is sugar. Starting your day off with sugar invites a sugar crash a few hours later. Lemon is also drying. First thing in the morning, all of you, not just your eyes and your head, are sleepy and tired. Know that feeling of taking a warm shower to wake you up? That’s what sipping hot water does for your insides: it slowly, easefully, encourages them to wake up, stimulating your gut and colon and inviting any stagnancy in your system to get moving. Adding lemon to that mixture is like adding acid to your shower: it screams at your GI tract to WAKE UP, rather than inviting it to get moving on its own.Yes, the water should be hot. Definitely not ice water, definitely not cold water from your fridge. No, not even tepid room temperature water. The warmth of the water should be more similar to the temperature or your insides.Yes, sip the water. Gulping water is a great way to smother your stomach’s ability to function. You want the water to travel through your digestive tract slowly, to lubricate, warm, and wake up each of your organs.Sipping hot water is the best way that you can boost your body’s digestion and metabolism. Because it helps to move out anything remaining in your system from the day prior, you will experience hunger in a different way. Your palate will become more sensitive, and your cravings will become less intense. You will be less likely to drink 2 or 3 cups of morning coffee, helping to prevent that afternoon crash, and you will feel more alert and energetic in the morning.
- Eat more greens.Most people do not eat the proper ratio of vegetables to other foods. In our busy lives, it is easy to find foods like nuts, breads, meats, cheeses, to eat on the go. Vegetables provide your body with important fiber and enzymes that actually help us to process the food that we are eating. Filling your belly when it is hungry is only one part of the process. Enabling your body to take that food and transform it into usable nutrition is another. Greens help your body to make the most out of everything that it is consuming, not to mention, they are themselves sources of important vitamins and minerals like iron that improve your body’s energy levels and boost alertness.Try adding a FULL serving of greens to your daily diet. Usually, greens are best digested at lunchtime when your stomach’s fire is the strongest. If green vegetables go through you quickly or give you gas, make sure to cook your greens (rather than eating salad or raw). Try this out for a month and notice the difference it makes in your digestion.
- Take a technology sunset.Why is it you have trouble falling asleep? Did you lie down for bed after watching 6 episodes of your favorite TV series? Were you checking Facebook for 15 minutes while lying in bed after having turned out the lights?Technology has an adverse affect on our ability to sleep. Waning daylight is actually a signal to our body to start slowing down and preparing to rest at the end of the day. When we stay up late with artificial lighting and computer or television screens glaring in our eyes, it disrupts our brains’ ability to rest. What will I do at night if I can’t watch TV? This is the biggest question I hear. Do you have a nighttime routine? Do you prepare for your morning the night before? Creating an evening routine: pre-soaking your breakfast oats, packing a lunch to take to the office, choosing your work clothes, prepping your coffee, brushing your teeth, filling the kettle, all of these activities give your very sensitive eyes and brain a chance to unwind before being asked to completely shut down for the day.Try taking a technology sunset at least 30 minutes before lights out. After a week or so, move it up an hour, and if you really get good at this, take a technology sunset after supper and busy yourself by relaxing and enjoying the company of your partner or family.Try out these 3 simple steps to begin enjoying your life even more today. I’d love to hear your personal experiences and strategies in the comments below!
Practical Magic For Modern Living
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