AYURVEDA TIPS FOR MONSOON

What if the small changes you made in your lifestyle during monsoon could help you keep the bugs at bay and enjoy the cool verdant surroundings? And as a bonus give you glowing skin as well? Take pointers from Ayurveda, India’s ancient wellness text…

It’s been more than a decade since I was first introduced to Ayurveda. Authentic Ayurveda is more therapeutic than it is relaxing, to be honest. Instead of soft and cushy massage tables, ayurvedic treatments are performed on hard rosewood massage table. Not only is it healing (benefits of rosewood, another post sometime) but considering the copious amounts of oils used, it is extremely hygienic. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of rosewood help in keeping the table almost sterilized for multiple uses.

In these times, when sustainability is the buzzword, I would also like to point out how there is minimum wastage. No soiled sheets. No Turkish towels. The oils that are used are not stored in tiny single-use vials but big glass bottles. The poultices used in certain therapies are prepared fresh in muslin cloth using a combination of grains and herbs. You just have to get used to the unique smells of herbal decoctions. Be warned, it’s not the same as an aromatherapy experience!

Coming back to my first tryst with Ayurveda, it was a rainy day and I was booked for an Abhyanga treatment) at the spa at Trident Kochi. I called up to enquire if I should postpone it? Dr Ratheesh Kumar, who was the practicing ayurvedic physician there (now he works at Oberoi Sukhvilas, Chandigarh) insisted that I must not cancel as monsoon is the best time to undergo ayurvedic therapies. It is during the rains that the microbes are thriving too and our immunity is at the lowest, so it’s good to get ayurvedic treatments as they act as safety jackets. The drop in temperature and the humidity makes the body more receptive to treatments. Post the treatment I was treated to a typical ayurvedic meal which was a balance of all six tastes — sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. This balance of taste remains constant but what goes on your plate changes as per seasons. This is what made a lasting impression.

It changed the way I lived on a daily basis as that’s perhaps the first time I was introduced to the concept of syncing our energies to that of nature. We are the guests and our planet and its elements are our hosts. The universe doesn’t move according to our preferences rather we have to continuously make changes to tune ourselves to the elements around us. That’s why Ayurveda, which literally means the science of life, is not something you embrace at spas and retreats but it’s a way of life that you bring back with you. But come monsoon, I do schedule some ayurvedic treatments.

Therapy for Monsoon Rejuvenation

Last week, I visited the fuss-free almost austere but extremely professional Birla Ayurveda  (Prabhadevi, Mumbai) with an aim to fix my stiff upper back muscles and to attain an overall glow. Navara Kizhi was suggested. In this treatment, warm rice poultices are applied on to the body to relieve stiffness, niggling aches and to give the skin instant hydration. What makes it so effective? It is made of rice that is harvested precisely for 60 days as that’s the time its therapeutic benefits are the maximum. “The unpolished 60-days-harvested rice is boiled with milk and some herbs like ashwagandha, Shatavari and Balamula powder to intensify its healing prowess,” explains Dr Vrunda Lotlikar, the ayurvedic physician at Birla Ayurveda.

The combination of rice and milk, though a bit messy is magical that works on beauty inside out. Ayurveda is all about bespoke beauty, where each treatment is customized to the body type and concerns. I got the best of both the worlds with a combination of two oils — Ksheerbala (for muscle strengthening) and Nalapamaradi (for enhancing skin glow). And like every ayurvedic treatment should, this too ended with a consultation where Dr Lotlikar explained to me the changes I need to imbibe in my routine to be disease-free and radiant in the monsoons.

11 Ayurvedic Tips for Monsoon

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According to Ayurveda, aggravation of Vata (air – breathing) and Pitta dosha (fire – digestion) in Varsha Ritu (Monsoon season) is the cause of various diseases during the season. That’s why upper respiratory throat infections and dysentery are common ailments. Some changes in our dincharya or daily routine are recommended to boost immunity and stay disease-free during this time. So in a nutshell, here are guidelines to pacify the agitated doshas of Vata and Pitta:

  1. Start your day by gargling with sesame oil.
  2. While a body massage is recommended, that may not be feasible every day. Regular application of oil (sesame/coconut) helps to keep skin moist and free of fungal infections.
  3. Every day put two drops of anu oil in each nostril to build internal immunity. Medicines administered through nostrils reach the brain stimulating our sense organs.
  4. Always have a warm water bath. If you can have a bath with water in which neem leaves have been boiled, it’s a definite way to keep all bugs at bay. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of fresh neem leaves (not powder) protect the body. An alternate way is to place (washed) neem leaves in a bucket of hot water and close it with a lid for half an hour.
  5. Avoid cold foods such as salads and raw vegetables. Have soups and steamed veggies instead. It’s important that all the food goes through Agni sanskar or is treated with heat to kill microbes.
  6. Avoid sour foods such as tamarind and raw mangoes as they might irritate the respiratory passage.
  7. Spicy food is advised. Replace green chillies (that cause acidity) with red chilly powder.
  8. Food cooked in desi ghee helps to keep the internal systems lubricated and enhance the digestive fire. In this season when the internal pitta is imbalanced, this keeps our digestive tracks running smoothly.
  9. Avoid adding fresh ginger to boiled water or tea as it can cause acidity. Just during the rains use dried ginger instead.
  10. Have cinnamon-infusions as its antibacterial properties improve the immunity of the respiratory system.
  11. Instead of vigorous outdoor activities, it is advised that we practice yoga (sets of suryanamaskars) to relive the stiff muscles. Vajrasana (helps in digestion), padmasana (minimizes anxiety) and bhujangasana (strengthens chest and abdomen) are most beneficial.

Author

  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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