A Little Summer Remedy

I began reading about and practicing Ayurveda before I ever touched a yoga mat. It was my poor eating habits and total lack of self-care that led me to a book in Four Seasons book store some 23 years ago, that I discovered as a young under-grad at what was then Shepherd College. I had no idea what I was diving into at the time, but the principles seemed to make sense on an instinctual level and I knew right away this was something that could save my life. And so it did–but not quite then.

It took me another 10 years before I’d return to the practice of Ayurveda whole-heartedly. I have come to understand the ancient Ayurvedic proverb that says: “When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” And so this is where I start every imbalance that arises for me–with my diet. Ayurveda gives us the tools to understand how to find balance within, even when there is chaos without. Often the practice of finding radiant health is as simple as adjusting what we eat to balance the effects of the season in which we’re living.

Loving this practice as I do, I was thrilled when one of our lead teachers, Kimber Hyatt, endeavored to learn more about Ayurveda and make this practice her own in order to guide others toward an understanding of the vast and ancient wisdom it offers. So this month, I am honored to feature some of that wisdom with a post from Kimber on how to easily cultivate a bit of balance as we transition into summer:

Out of the Kapha, into the Pitta.

            After spending a few years living in Texas, where it was typically hot during the majority of the year, then mildly cold for a few weeks before starting to get hot again, I’ve learned to truly appreciate the distinct seasons we experience here on the East coast. The extreme temperatures of Winter and Summer, the colors and smells of Spring and Fall, the slow transition between each one; it can’t be faked, there’s really no comparison.

            I can’t point a finger at one time of year and call it my favorite, however the transition from Spring into Summer would be close to the top of the list. We’ve officially put away our winter clothes, save for a light jacket for the occasional cool night. The garden is in full bloom and busy with butterflies and bees visiting the newly-opened flower heads. Heavy rains are no longer constant, switching the conversations from “when will it stop raining,” to “thank goodness its finally raining!”

            Our bodies go through a transition as well. Congestion begins to clear up and is replaced by a drier, sharp scratchiness in the throat and eyes. Our skin turns a couple shades darker, feels warmer to the touch and if we aren’t careful, gets a painfully sharp burn from the sun. You may notice a craving for lighter, cooler foods, and may begin to keep the fridge stocked with fruits and berries to snack on.  It might seem like just obvious summer behavior, but this is Ayurveda.

            It isn’t always easy to follow our intuition to stay healthy.  This could be partially because certain “fad diets” have led us to believe in one solution for everybody all the time, and it could be because we simply don’t recognize an imbalance until it is pointed out to us.  I’ve found in my personal experience that one area that must have constant attention called to it is digestion.

            Spring months bring excess moisture and heaviness to the body and the mind.  In turn, our digestion can become a bit sluggish.  To clear out some of that extra earth and water element, a tea made from Cumin, Coriander and Fennel seeds (CCF Tea) is ideal.  Cumin is a slightly warming spice which fuels agni, the digestive fire, and acts as anti-inflammatory to calm down many skin irritations. Fennel is cooling for the body and soothes abdominal pain and flatulence. Coriander is a stimulant spice, which increases the benefits of the other two while aiding the digestive process and building the body’s vitality. Together these spices create a delicious tea which can be sipped warm before or after a meal, or cooled to room temperature and sipped on as a refreshing beverage throughout the day.

            To make CCF tea, combine ½ tsp of each spice seed with 2 cups water, let simmer about 10 minutes.  I like to combine equal parts of the herbs in bulk, and either spoon into disposable tea bags for portability or keep in a jar as a loose-leaf tea. The flavor is deliciously satisfying and you’ll notice its effect on your body almost immediately.  A bonus benefit: CCF tea is a diuretic, and will help prevent UTI. You really can’t go wrong with this summer-balancing spice tea.

~By Kimber Hyatt