"Cool it!" I can't say nor type those words without thinking of my dad who would use them on occasion to kindly tell me to settle down. Soft yet stern, it would do the trick as I didn't want to push it to the next step, which was, let's just say, a little less soft. Thinking of his efficacy with those simple words reminded me of the power of this breathing practice. With the extreme temperatures that are continuing into August it seemed a perfect fit for this Month's Featured Take 5 Stretch & Breath Break.
The Cooling Breath or Sitali Breath is a breathing practice for cooling of the body and the mind. It can help you calm nerves, reduce agitation, and reduce the body temperature. A great option when the weather gets hot, when you experience hot flashes (yes ladies it does help) or someone gets under your skin. Try it out and remember it the next time you:
Feel zapped from the extreme summer heat
Feel your buttons being pushed in agitation
Feel a hot flash due to hormones or the heat
Feel the heat of anger bubbling inside
Feel overwhelm brewing
Herbs That Cool
Summer's herbs are still as abundant as its heat. Here are a few ways to "Cool it" with herbs.
Lemon Balm: Offers a fresh, sweet, lemony-minty flavor. It is physically and emotionally cooling, helping to dispel excess heat and stress from the body. Try this cooling, grounding herb in tea or diffuse a little oil in the home to promote calm.
Chamomile: Another great herb to try in a cold summer tea. As a natural and gentle sedative it's often combined with other herbs as it helps with anxiety and insomnia. As a carminative, chamomile also helps to relax the stomach muscles helping the food move through the digestive system.
Mint: Just think of the word mint and the attributes of cool and fresh come to mind. Mint has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and nerve-calming effects. Smash a few fresh sprigs and add to your water with a squeeze of lime for a quick hydrating and inflammation reducing refreshment. It is also great for helping backyard chickens stay cool in the heat. My hens had a little cooling snack this morning.
Cool the Cortisol: The Case for Morning Movement
Weeks of high summer temps can lead to fatigue and since the amount of fluid in your joints can fluctuate as a result, for some this leads to more inflammation. I am one of those "some" which is one of the many reasons Morning Movement is a key ingredient in my Well-being lifestyle. Here are a few other reasons to consider moving in the morning:
Studies like this one from the British Journal of Sports Medicine show that morning exercise improves attention, visual learning, and decision-making.
Reduce Cortisol Levels:
Cortisol is your body's main stress hormone and levels are higher in most people in the morning when you wake up. Excess cortisol is also produced when you're anxious or under intense stress. Exercise is well known to be an effective tool for managing cortisol levels.
In addition to starting your day off with a lower baseline of cortisol, you also set your level of calm for the rest of the day which has positive effects on your mental health. Here's a great read on the Exercise Effect from the American Psychological Association
Improve Sleep: If you are looking to better your sleep give morning movement a try. According to Sofie Laage-Christiansen, a Ph.D. in sleep research “Exercising in the morning daylight helps you to sleep. It helps to kick-start the brain in the same way as when you expose yourself to bright light early in the morning, and it makes the body release melatonin earlier in the evening."
Increase Energy: If you have ever exercised in the morning and felt that boost of energy long into the day here is a short tidbit from Harvard explaining why. If you haven't ever experienced it, this is your sign to try it.
So there you have it, quite the case for morning movement. So what are you waiting for? Set your alarm a little earlier and take a stroll, do some resistance training, or consider trying an online class like my Rise & Shine Yoga!
When it comes to starting something new we immediately have reasons it won't work for us. That is how we are wired as humans. Let me help you with those, here are a few reasons my Livestream Rise & Shine Yoga Classes might work for you....
You don't have to leave your house
You don't have to have any experience
You don't have to turn your camera on
You can do it in your jammies (see above)
You'll get all the benefits described above
You'll kick up your metabolism the rest of the day
It's free to try your first class or two
It's a small encouraging group
Modifications are offered
It's only 30 minutes
Every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 6:30 to 7:00 AM PST. Register here and select Pay in Person to try a class for free or just hit reply to this email and I'll send you the link.
Cool Caprese Two Ways
Fresh Tomatoes and Basil are two of the most amazing gifts in summer! Here are two ways to enjoy a caprese that covers all six tastes of Ayurvedic Nutrition for a satiating snack or meal.
Option 1: A Cool Snack: Slice up some Buffalo Mozzarella (sweet) Organic Tomatoes (sour) and Basil (sweet, pungent, astringent), drizzle with Balsamic Vinegar (sour) and Extra Virgin Olive Oil (sweet) and add a little minced garlic (bitter). Sprinkle Sea Salt (salty) and Pepper (pungent) on each slice. One of my favorite things about a Caprese is it pairs well with a wide variety of wines! Note highly tannic reds might be too much for the acidity of the tomatoes.
Option 2: A Powerful Meal: Follow all the steps in Option 1 and add arugula (bitter) a sliced peach (sweet) and an egg or two (sweet). This is a great option for breakfast as it adds the protein punch which more important as we age. Prosciutto (sweet) would be a great option to get a little more protein too.
The pictured basil is from my garden, tomatoes from my mom's garden and egg courtesy of Dottie, one of my hens. If you don't have a backyard garden try to opt for produce as local as possible. The fresher your food the more prana or life force it brings you (and the better it tastes).
If you want to learn more about Ayurvedic Nutrition and how it transformed my relationship with food stay tuned for my upcoming workshops or reach out to me via email. Dates to be announced soon.
In the meantime, Stay Cool!