Allergies and the shift into summer
Please note: Below are my suggestions and 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’s warm, dry, windy….as nature is starting to make the switch from Spring to Summer. Summer officially starts June 20th. 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 we must gradually adopt a regimen appropriate for the new season.
As of late, many of my Yoga students in the SF Bay Area 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. While some experience skin irritations like excema, hives, hot flashes. Some are not experiencing any of these allergy discomforts at all! Why do some people suffer from allergies and some don’t? Well, it depends on how graceful 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 it is the health of our gut that dictates how balanced & 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 and 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 months article) You can do a couple of days of just kitchari (make it fresh every day). Also, eat your lunch at noon, every day! Finish your dinner before 7pm, every day! Leave out 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 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 llergies, 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:
*Drink H20. This is so important! It is well documented that the “average” person is recommended to drink at least half of their body weight in water per day in order to sustain the normal functions of the body. This means if you weigh 130lbs, it’s recommended to drink a minimum of 65oz of pure water….not tea, beer, coffee, juice, vitamin/mineral water, just pure H20. Dehydration is known to be the culprit for many, many health disturbances, including allergies! If you find yourself in the bathroom an obscene amount of times per day, perhaps you should look to make sure you have enough salt in your diet. I highly recommend a book, You’re Not Sick, you’re Thirsty! by M. D. Batmanghelidj, F.
*Neti Pot. 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 the below mentioned practices to help quiet your mind to allow the body to do the
work it needs to do to keep us feeling well.
Meditation, Yoga Nidra
Ujjayi Pranayama – with easeful awareness
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 of life 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 humbled to say 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! Yvette is a mom of 3 children and the founder of The Center for Vital Living in Cotati, CA. She is the creator of Vital Living Wellness, organic & seasonal self-care product line. With a strong love & thrust for ancient wisdom, Yvette has been studying Ayurveda for 8 years and continues. Yvette understands that being well means taking care of the whole person, inside and out.