To begin with let us understand how Ayurveda works
Eastern systems of health and medicine (of which Ayurveda is one) focus on prevention, early detection and nipping problems in the bud.
When we look around, we see people going on two wheeler, jogging, running, walking and driving with no protective clothing like sweater or jacket, or helmet and wearing only a T-shirt. We think, we are strong and healthy and can handle the climate. These days, when it comes to health, we tend to think only in terms of days and weeks or a month, at the most. No wonder hospitals and nursing homes are flourishing in every street corner.
Ayurveda thinks in terms of at least a year- through the seasons of spring, summer, rainy season, autumn and winter. It recommends different practices of eating, diet, dressing, exercise, sleeping etc., for every season. The effect of what you do, both right and wrong, will be seen in the next season or even later, depending on our age, nature (Prakriti) of our body and any other existing condition that we may have.
DIET forms a very important part of healthcare. Diet does not only include what we eat and its taste (sweet, salty, sour, hot or bitter), but also how it is cooked (boiled, stir fried, deep fried, etc…); temperature of the food (if the food is hot, cold, taken out of a fridge) and our posture while eating (standing, talking, watching a phone or TV).
It is good to eat warm, freshly cooked, (preferably home –made) food, focussed on eating with a calm mind and being seated.
Stay healthy through the monsoon
A very important difference between our Monsoon season and rainy season elsewhere is that, it is accompanied by gusty winds. We need to take precaution against wind because it makes a big difference.
When we are moving in a vehicle, the negative effect of wind is aggravated much more.
Wind affects our nervous system- brain, spine, the nerves and all our sense organs. Regular oil massage and applying oil all over the body helps strengthen the nerves and keeps them functioning well.
Keep Warm. Protect your head and sense organs. Wear an additional layer of clothing whether you feel cold or not, make sure your ears are covered or plug them with some cotton. Two wheeler riders should wear a helmet with a visor to protect your eyes, nose and mouth. Four wheeler drivers, keep the windows up.
The head has more important things than our hair. Our brain and eyes, ears, nose and mouth have to serve us our lifetime. Exposing them to wind and cold causes weakness in all of these as well as our neck and shoulders. Earlier, getting wet in the rain used to be fun. Now what we get in the cities may be acid rain.
When there is a difference of more than three or four degrees in the outside temperature, it creates a strain on the body to adjust. The body’s temperature has to be maintained at the normal level. In order to do that, the body withdraws energy from our vital organs like, liver, heart and kidneys.
In this season our appetite goes down. That is why we feel like eating stimulating food like fried snacks with sharp tastes and junk food of all kinds. Definition of junk food is what the body does not benefit from and what harms health. So avoid them, however tempting.
Eat only simple, freshly prepared food. Eat on time even if you eat is a little less. Eating light and on time will help you avoid binging on junk food. Things made out of flour, fermented batter (idli, dosa) could be ‘heavy’ to digest. Do not have them every day. Observe how you feel after eating. If you feel rather lethargic, it is heavy for you. Ensure you night meal is light, freshly prepared, warm and taken early. Exercise should also be light.
Our body is made up of the five Elements of water, earth, air, Sun (heat) and sky (space). The Elements inside our body constantly interact with those outside. As there is plenty of water and humidity outside, our body does not need too much water. But either due to habit or the unnatural conditions that we live in (air conditioning and fans) or conditioning of the mind, we may want to drink more water than our body needs. Take small quantities of boiled and hot water just to quench your thirst. Alternatively, you may keep a small piece of candy sugar (kallu sakkere, kalkand or misri) in your mouth (people with diabetes, don’t take excess). If you dip the piece of the candy sugar in ghee and keep it in your mouth it is even more beneficial. Particularly in the night, this would be soothing as well as satiate your thirst.
Heed the Signals
The body gives many warnings when you do wrong things:
First warning is sneezing; when this is ignored, it may lead to water dripping from the nose; third warning could be blocked nose, which affects sleep; fourth stage is headache and inflammation of the sinuses; fifth stage is cough, inflammation of the throat. In the sixth stage the lungs get congested and the seventh stage it may be fever.
Fever is your immune system’s response to clean up your respiratory and digestive organs. To do a thorough clean up the fever requires all your energy. That is why you feel tired when you have fever. Taking rest and allowing the fever to do its work will leave you healthy. Rest completely. Eat freshly prepared, warm, light liquid or semi liquid food. Porridge (with salt) kanji, kichdi, rasam rice are all good during fever.
Sneezing: Sneezing is a natural reaction of the body in this weather. Never suppress sneezing. Suppressing sneezing can give you headache or even paralyse your neck and shoulders.
What should we do to stay healthy this season
Honey- take one or two tea spoons of honey directly. DO NOT ADD HONEY TO ANYTHING HOT.
Harda- or alalekai or kadukkai: keep a tiny piece of it in the mouth. It can clean up phlegm in the throat.
Licorice- Ati madhura or Mulethi or Yashtimadh. Chewing a small piece of this sweet root can help keep the throat clear.
Instead of drinking plain water, we can have herb teas such as green tea, Tulsi, etc…
Try everything and choose what suits you most.