It's that time of the year again when the seasons change. The sweltering Indian summer is (finally!) coming to an end and monsoon is about to begin. So open your windows and keep a lookout for a soothing breeze and the first drops of rain hitting parched earth.
But we are talking about more than just the weather here. Seasonal changes have a tremendous impact on all forms of life. The trees shed their leaves in fall and bloom again in spring. We are a part of the same ecology and our biological rhythms greatly vary according to the season.Things like the environment around us and the time of the day have a significant influence on our doshic balance. Most of us would have experienced how a hot, humid day affects us very differently from a cold, overcast one. Therefore, each season requires us to adapt suitable changes in diet and lifestyle to find a new alignment with the changed environment around us.
When our lifestyle is not in harmony with seasonal variations, it causes friction in our body leading to agitation, tiredness, loss of appetite and other problems. Further, it may imbalance the doshas rendering us vulnerable to illness. But worry not! Ayurveda gives us intuitive ways to establish balance within the body and align ourselves with these natural cycles.
The shift from summer to monsoon this year happens around June 21, the Summer Solstice. The environment shifts rapidly from scorching heat to heavy downpours. Monsoon strongly aggravates Vata and mildly imbalances Pitta. It is also a time of low immunity when cold and flu commonly occur. Further, the humidity in the air makes the digestive fire weak. This leads to the accumulation of toxins in the body. Therefore Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle recommendations focus on rebalancing the doshas, improving immunity, nurturing the digestive fire and most importantly cleansing the body of accumulated toxins.
The Season of Warmth Bowls
The easiest way to rebalance the doshas is to realign our eating patterns. Since the digestive fire is weak, it's ideal to pick foods that are easy to digest and a diet that stimulates digestion. Here are a few simple guidelines for a rejuvenating monsoon:
Sip Warmth: Nothing improves digestion like warm water. Keeping a flask nearby and sipping a small cup throughout the day can do wonders to your digestive fire.
Say Soup not Cheese: A good rule of thumb is to choose light foods that are easily digestible. It's best to have piping hot, freshly cooked meals, right off the oven. It enables easier digestion and more importantly, just tastes better! Go easy on the cold, heavy-to-digest-stuff like curd, maida and cheese though.
Add Zing to Meals: As always it's your magical spice box to the rescue. Be generous with the use of ginger, black pepper and lemon. These add zing to your meals and make for great soups and porridges too.
A Spoonful of Nectar: Ayurveda sings the glories of the food of the gods. A spoonful of honey every day works wonders during monsoons.
Glorious Teas: Herbal teas are your best companion this winter. Who would not want to sit on the balcony watching the rain, sipping a warm tea made of ginger, honey, lime and mint? This also means going easy on the tea and coffee as they can be dehydrating. Might not look easy to give those up we know, but try the glorious warm tea above and you will easily shift loyalties.
A Dash of Desi Goodness: Desi Cow ghee is one of the best things you can have to kindle digestion and balance Pitta. So indulge yourself and add a spoonful to meals.
A Bottle of Auric Every Evening: It's natural to feel dehydrated and during those times, choose Auric to consume your daily intake of ayurvedic herbs as you sip into the refreshing juices. Yes, they are 100% natural with no preservatives, no chemicals, no artifical flavours, no added sugar - just pure goodness of nature.
Align and Adapt
Apart from great food tips, Ayurveda also gives us helpful insights on lifestyle to align our biological rhythms with the changing seasons. Here are a few that caught our eye:
Soothing Warm Water Baths: While this prescription might sound painful now, we are sure that as the heat recedes you will change your mind. In rainy weather, nothing is as soothing and rejuvenating as a warm water bath. Plus, it balances the aggravated Vata too!
Avoid that Siesta: If you have had by chance gotten into the (Ayurvedically approved!) habit of a nice afternoon siesta to beat the summer heat, now is the time to stop. Sleeping in the afternoon during monsoons kills the digestive fire and can leave you sluggish on waking up.
Lighten Your workout: This is a time to go easy on your workouts, as your energy can get easily depleted.
The Perfect Time to Detox
Monsoon is the time when, due to low digestive fire, toxins begin to accumulate in the body. This makes it the perfect time to treat yourself to a detox. A good monsoon detox done the Ayurvedic way, will leave you feeling younger, fresher and rejuvenated for the entire year. Take your pick from this bouquet of simple home remedies.
Bitter Is Good: Bitter neem first thing in the morning( we know its hard) or consuming vegetables like bitter gourd can help cleanse the digestive system.
Fasting is a great way to give a break to your body and enable a natural cleanse. A fast every fortnight keeps the toxins away.
A Weekend Massage: On lazy weekend mornings pamper yourself with an oil massage, lounge for a while and then bathe in warm water. Its best to use medicated oils and spend time on the massage. This is deeply relaxing, strengthens your body, removes aches and helps balance Vata too. What more can ask for!
And now, Steam: The humidity of the monsoon opens up the pores of our skin. A steam sauna that works up sweat is a great way to eliminate toxins and rejuvenate our skin. If you are in the mood, enliven the experience with different essential oils.
Go Gentle into that Good Routine
Seasons do not change overnight. Neither should you. The period of transition between seasons is fourteen days, seven days at the end of last season and the seven days at the beginning of the new one. This is a period of great fluctuation in the outer environment and there is a high chance of dosha imbalances and diseases. We must be careful to gradually discontinue our old routine and gently ease into the new monsoon lifestyle. This gives our body time to adapt to the new routine.
Enjoy your monsoon, the Ayurveda way!