Ayurveda Self-Care: Tips For Shifting Into Summer And Managing Allergies
Cover Photo By Coley Christine
By Yvette Racines McLaughlin
Please note: Below are my suggestions. They may not be suitable for everybody. Please use this information with discretion based on your health and the advice of your healthcare provider.
If you live in the San Francisco North Bay area, you’re probably noticing pretty dramatic weather shifts. It has been super hot, dry, and windy as nature is making the switch from Spring to Summer. Summer officially starts on June 21st. Ayurveda sees this time of the year as a transitional time. In fact, any time we start to move from one season to the next, there is a period of acclimation we need to give ourselves. This is called Ritu Sandhi. As I mentioned in my March Self-Care article, anytime we experience change in our external environment, we are very likely to experience internal change/transition. It’s nature’s way of telling us that our habits for the ending season need to be discontinued and that we must gradually adopt a regimen appropriate for the new season.
As of late, many of my yoga students in the North Bay are experiencing allergy symptoms--sneezing, coughing, wheezing, congestion, itchy throat, watery eyes, and colds. Others are experiencing different types of symptoms, like poor digestion, joint pain, insomnia, and anxiety. And some are experiencing skin irritations like eczema, hives, or hot flashes. Others are not experiencing any of these allergy discomforts at all!
So, why do some people suffer from allergies and some don’t? It depends on how gracefully one is making this transition from Spring to Summer.
While it would be easy to blame these symptoms on the pollen and air quality, Ayurveda reminds us that it is the health of our gut that dictates how balanced and vibrant we are. When we are going through any kind of change, our digestion is the first thing to be affected. So, as we approach Summer, we look at what and how we eat, as well as how we feel after we eat. For the most part, during this time of the year, Ayurveda recommends a light and simple diet. You can never go wrong with a good kitchari! (See recipe from last month’s article.)
You can do a couple days of just kitchari (make it fresh every day). Also, eat your lunch at noon every day. Finish your dinner before 7pm every day. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugar as much as possible. These things alone can help your digestion get back on track.
Why is this important and what does this have to do with allergies?
Ayurveda always looks at the health of the gut when addressing any kind of imbalance, illness or disease. There is an understanding that if a person is not digesting their food properly, they accumulate toxins called ama. Ama is considered the root cause of all imbalances because, if ignored, it makes its way into different tissues in the body. We then begin to notice our body’s natural defense, our immunity, being repressed and bogged down. Our immunity helps us to combat those days, for example, when the pollen count is high. We may not think too much of it, excusing our watery eyes and runny nose by calling it allergies. So, the bottom line...look at your diet and digestion first when addressing allergies.
Daily Self-Care for Allergies
While it is true that the strength of our digestion determines our ability to ward off allergies, we can still do things to reduce our exposure to dust and allergens. A few of my favorite things to do to help with symptoms of allergies:
Clean out your sinuses in the morning by using a neti pot.
Recipe: Fill your neti pot with warm, distilled water and ½ tsp of sea salt. Stir and let salt dissolve. Lean your face over the sink and pour the solution in through one nostril and allow it to leak out the other nostril. Breathe through your mouth while you are doing this. Use half of the solution for one nostril and the other half for the other nostril. After you are finished, follow up with oiling your nostrils.
Oil your nostrils.
Oiling the nostrils helps to collect dust particles and pollen that might otherwise make their way into your sinuses. To remedy this, put a drop of oil (see recipe below) on the tip of each of your pinkie fingers and rub it all along the inside of your nostrils. Then give a good sniff! This is quick and easy. *Caution: If you have any open sores inside your nostrils, do not use the oil.*
Recipe: Use an organic, high quality olive oil, or ghee.
Close your windows.
Typically, pollen counts are highest between 5am - 10am. If you tend to sleep with your windows open, you will want to close them before 5am.
Calm your mind.
Our vitality and resilience will always mirror the quality of our minds. Try practices, including mindful yoga, meditation, Yoga Nidra, and Ujjayi Pranayama - with easeful awareness, to help quiet your mind and allow the body to do the work it needs to do to keep us feeling well.
Finally, if you are dealing with allergies, try adding this mantra into your day: “I am at peace with life.”
Stay tuned for my next Ayurvedic Self-Care Tips in mid-July for more Summer self-care!
Ayurveda means wisdom/knowledge of life. It is an ancient practice that can be traced back to India. Considered a 6,000-year-old healthcare system, Ayurveda is a way to experience wholeness & wellness on all levels. With ancient teachings such as Ayurveda, there is much to be learned. I am by no means an expert in Ayurveda. I have been studying and practicing Ayurveda since 2013. I am a new student and am humbled to say that I have so much more to learn, perhaps a lifetime of studying. My daily practice of Ayurveda has brought about a profound understanding of unhealthy patterns and how I can take better care of myself & my family. PLUS, I use some of the basic Ayurvedic principles to help support my Yoga Therapy clients and my group classes. I’m excited to share this with you too!
Announcement from Yvette:
I am thrilled to announce that The Center for Vital Living is offering a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training scheduled for October of 2019! We will accept 10 students into this program. This yoga teacher training program is recommended for those who would like to gain a deeper understanding of yoga and learn to apply it to life off the mat and/or for those who want to teach yoga as a profession. In this 200+ hour program, students will learn fundamental practices with an emphasis on therapeutics (yoga for individual needs). Whether you decide to go on to teach yoga and/or use it for personal growth, you will learn how to safely, confidently, and accurately teach yoga to the public, while also learning how to navigate through the process of building a career as a yoga teacher. This program will look at the more modern, physical teachings through the lens of the deeper, philosophical teachings. There will be a strong recommendation to continue your yoga education after this training, hopefully a commitment for life! Please see our website for training details: 200 Hour Teacher Training Information.