Let’s come together for a full moon practice with breath and movement to help clear what is obstructing us in daily life, heighten our intuition, and open us to new possibilities and uplifted moods. We will chant a mantra dedicated to the moon to help bring peace of mind:
There can be challenging forces at play when August comes especially when the heat continues to be a predominant force. The accumulated heat can cause inflammation and a dry internal environment.
We can experience fatigue, overwhelm, and agitation.
We also have the change in the air now with cooler nights, signaling Vata is on the rise. (This means the nervous system will be more tender.)
The good news is that the body will let us know if there are things going on that we need to pay attention to.
And, thankfully, we have the wise ways of Ayurveda’s daily and seasonal lifestyles and foods, yoga practices, and the underlying philosophy of both, Vedanta, to help show us the healthy path through the ebb and flows of the changing days, nights, seasons, and life cycles.
Before I get into some tips for late summer care, I want to remind you of a fundamental principle of Ayurveda. It’s one of the first things I talk about when I’m asked about Ayurveda.
We’ve got to get this one.
Ayurveda says that Mother Nature’s law and rhythms guide all of life including ours. Our greatest health is found when our daily and seasonal lifestyle practices are synced with nature.
Rise with the sun and the birds
Sleep with the moon and the stars.
Eat 3 meals per day with the main meal in the middle of the day.
Read spiritual scriptures.
– My teacher, Dr. Lele’s prescription for health
Rise by 6am- the time of Divine consciousness- a perfect time for yoga and meditation
Bed by 10pm-when the energy supports settling and sleep
Eat the biggest meal between 11a and 2p based on foods for the season when the digestive fire is the brightest
Awaken to the truth of our spiritual nature- so that we can remain situated within our own selves and feel the joy, peace, and love that is our birthright
This guidance falls into the Dinacharya –Daily Routine – category.
The teaching about specific foods and practices fall into the Ritucharya –Seasonal Practices category. These two go together and are equally important.
Signs of imbalances -and things we can do to alleviate them in late summer
Some of the telltale signs of imbalances:
feeling critical, angry, short tempered,
a tendency to “push” too hard,
loose stools or constipation,
skin rashes, especially the ones that spread quickly,
and sleep troubles just to name a few.
What to do!
We want to make sure we hydrate well and lubricate the tissues of our bodies.
And we want to slow down. Regardless of what we are doing, see if we can do it a little more slowly.
There is a term in Ayurveda, “Ritu Charya” which means attuning to seasonal rhythms with our diets and lifestyles.
We help rebalance ourselves when we shift our routines to be in alignment with the seasonal changes. Think spring! Movement, growth, new beginnings…..
Winter is a more sedentary time for most of us. For anyone who has put on a few extra pounds, this is the perfect season to take the weight off.
In Spring, we can reset our biology, align ourselves, and discard old patterns so we can start fresh. How do we nurture and guide this new growth we envision?
Start Here with 3 Tips to Help Burn Fat
Intermittent fasting – no snacking between meals and waiting 12 – 16 hours of no eating between the evening meal and breakfast. This packs a punch and doesn’t feel at all like what we might associate with the cravings and hunger and fasting.
Eat spicier foods— spicier foods help to stoke the digestive fire, “agni” in Ayurveda terms, which raises our metabolism and keeps us burning fats throughout the day.
3. Move more and eat less — this combination tones us, helps us burn and cleanse ourselves of unwanted fats, and starts to break those craving habits and replace them with healthier ones of our choosing.
For cleansing, think bitters. If you live in an area where dandelion and burdock grow, you are lucky! These plants are a couple of my favorite spring time herbs which grow here in the northeast.
DANDELIONS are a great food and a gentle tonic for the liver.
If you have dandelions growing in your yard, head out with a little gardening tool and dig them up at the roots: in both spring and fall. The leaves are a diuretic, and help move excess water from the body. You can steam or saute the leaves, put them in soups or salads, or just eat them warm.
The flowers can be used in baking. You can make dandelion tempura with a milk, flour, and egg batter. The roots can be cut up and made into a tea or decoction (which means simmering them for a stronger tea).
BURDOCK is a nourishing liver and kidney food and helps promote digestion.
You can cut up the roots, and put them in soups and make a tea or decoction, same as dandelion. Just know that when you are digging the root, it is a long (long) tap root (as you can see in the picture). Be patient!
Burdock is also a great skin tonic. When I was 19, my sister and I used to place steamed burdock leaves on our faces and lie down on the couch to help heal our pimples. It worked!
If you are not able or want to forage, you can find these products in the produce department of a grocery store or coop. Organic is what you would want. You can also purchase teas that provide benefits from these herbs.
Here are 3 of my top tips to help cleanse the body:
Sip hot water throughout the day
Liquid diet: soups, smoothies, juices
We want to stoke the digestive fire: “Angi” which is a key component for health, longevity and vitality.
Here is a simple recipe to help stoke your fire. It’s especially good if you feel like your food is just sitting in your belly
½ tsp grated ginger Pinch of salt 1 tbsp. lime Drizzle of honey
We also want to check in with ourselves on a deeper level. Ask: What thoughts have been churning around inside our heads? Consider: What have we been holding onto that’s not useful?
If you haven’t yet downloaded my free ebook: The Radiant Woman: An Ayurvedic Approach to Beauty From the Inside Out, please do! You will learn how to look and feel your very best using India’s ancient sacred sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda. These proven teachings show us how to develop our inner strength and beauty as the root of our outer beauty and radiance.
You will be amazed at the simplicity of the teachings.
With the health situation as it is, I wanted to acknowledge we are in some rough waters. It is hard not to feel overwhelmed, somewhat fearful, and confused as to what to do and not do.
The “Corona Virus in Maine” was the topic on Maine Calling last week on Maine Public Radio. Very good program. It’s worth listening to. This we know: grounding, shoring up, calming, and immune building measures are called for now. There are many disciplines that help.
As a yoga studio owner, I have sought council, am following the guidelines, and have taken measures to help keep us all safe. Here’s the scoop:
Classes will continue here in Liberty unless or until it makes sense not to. I will certainly keep you posted.
I have hand sanitizer waiting once you enter.
We are encouraged to practice social distancing: no hugging, no shaking hands.
I am asking that folks bring their own yoga mats and blankets.
I also have sanitizing wipes for chairs and other surfaces that will be cleaned regularly.
And please do not come if you have a cough, cold, sneezing, or are feeling ill in any way.
The practices I am focusing on now help to strengthen and balance our systems so that we can withstand whatever comes our way. Also, reducing stress and anxiety, supporting immune health, and more is what is covered these days. All through the lens of Yoga and Ayurveda.
This past winter I have been working on getting set up for more online offerings. There will be more posted on my website very soon. Now may be a good time to consider a personalized yoga practice online or by phone. The practice can be designed for you- uniquely you and what you need and want. For example, if anxiety is on the rise there are certain breathing practices, yogic exercises, and chants that can be very helpful. A daily sadhanda, or spiritual practice, is essential. It is what helps anchor and fortify us. I can help you design one especially for you. E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 207 589-4254 to find out more and to schedule a session.
Other Online or phone offerings:
Online/ phone coaching programto help you make deep lasting changes that can be very transformative.
AnAyurvedic Consultationis also very potent to help you identify your unique constitutional make-up and needs. This includes a customized diet and lifestyle plan which follows the ancient way: no one size fits all.
No matter what, we need each other. It is a known fact that being connected is essential to our health and wellbeing. There are many ways we can remain connected.If I don’t see you, I will remain in touch through e-mails and, finally!, I will be sending out a regular monthly newsletter.
Some tips for us all:
Stay hydrated!! When the winds in our minds are blowing, we dry out–which contributes to anxiety and fear.
Warm, moist cooked foods are grounding and nourishing.
Soups and stews.
Teas such as chamomile, holy basil, and licorice are comforting.
Even plain water with a little lemon can soothe.
A paste made from equal parts raw, unfiltered honey and turmeric are helpful to strengthen immunity.
Take 1 tsp. of the paste every couple of hours.
Lemon, ginger, turmeric, and honey tea as well.
Oil your body with warm sesame or almond oil – daily. It’s amazing how quickly that can help ground us. In fact, Ayurveda says it is one of the quickest ways to calm down the nervous system.
A simple breathing practice to reduce stress:
Breathe in for 5 counts, hold the breath in for 6 counts, and exhale for 7 counts. Repeat and practice for 1 – 3 minutes. It’s worth trying. It works!
Tuesday, Vibrant Living – a Gentle/chair yoga class 9-10:15am
Practices, guidance and support to help us maintain strength, flexibility, and mobility for years to come.
“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep the mind strong and clear.” – Buddha
The roots of this new Vibrant Living offering began 20 years ago when a group of senior citizens, all residents of Liberty- came to the new Yoga Studio’s Open House.
They had never taken a yoga class before and were interested to know how Yoga could help ease their achy joints, improve their energy, decrease their worries, and help them age well.
I listened to their needs and challenges. I spent some time developing a program and Gentle/Chair Yoga was born.
Back in the day they were the most committed group of folks. They didn’t miss a class. We had lunch after class every Tuesday at local restaurants – our favorite was the Corner Restaurant.
They told stories of their lives. We gathered at my home for holiday celebrations.
Those years were some of the most precious years of my teaching career. I will always miss that group of folks and appreciate what they taught me and what they brought to my life.
All but two of the participants have passed on now, including my mom. And the two remaining continue to take class on a regular basis.
One of my greatest passions is studying and learning about ways to enrich my programs.
Now that I am closing in on my mid 60’s, my interest is as strong as ever in understanding how we can remain healthy, strong, and vibrant well into the older years.
An area of focus this past year has been on this very topic which brought me to the decision to change the name from Gentle/Chair Yoga to Vibrant Living.
This new title better reflects my studies, practices, latest research, and understanding of what contributes to the aging process and how we can slow or reverse the effects.
I have been and will continue to slowly make changes to the class format so the transition remains a smooth one.
And there are still some of standard familiar elements; always will be.
“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patients in care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”
Vibrant Living consists of gentle stretching, whole body movements, yoga poses, breathing practices, healthy living info all designed to help us not only remain strong, limber, and mobile but also ease stress and feel lighter and brighter. The content is practical and applicable to our daily lives. And fun!
There is a continued focus on:
-Spinal health -Nervous and glandular systems strength and balance – a key for overall well being -Food for the soul -Food for the brain -Relaxation techniques to calm the mind and so much more.
Chairs are still available and used during part of the practice just like before for those that want and need them.
“If you know the art of deep breathing, you have the strength, wisdom and courage of ten tigers.” – Chinese adage
This “one of a kind” program as it’s been called by some of the participants is powerful enough for anyone/any age and gentle enough for everyone – including seniors.
The age range has been from mid-twenties to 98.
Comments such as “There is nothing quite like this” is not uncommon.
It is unique: I consider this offering one of my signature programs found only here in Liberty, Maine.
On that note… To honor all who joined me twenty years ago, all who have come over these past many years, and to honor those who are with me now:
I am offering a free Vibrant Living Class next week, on Tuesday, July 2nd from 9-10:15am. Please come and bring a friend. We’ll make room.
Deborah Keene is a Waterville, Maine native whose life-long passion for holistic health led her to the studies of the connections between the emotions, thoughts, physical well-being and spiritual health.