The fall is the time when the lung and large intestine system is most active in Chinese Medicine. Fall is a time of beginning to turn inward, gathering and consolidating after all of the abundant energy available in summer. The Lung and Large intestine system relate to the color white, pungent flavor, the pathogen of dryness, the element of metal, skin and hair, the nose and the emotion of grief.
If we look to the environment we can see how the energy around us is consolidating. The plants in our gardens are turning yellow, drying up and becoming smaller. The leaves of the trees are starting to change color. For many trees the color change starts at the top of the tree and slowly moves down just like the energy of the season. We are moving from the abundance of yang energy of summer to the inner contemplation and rest of winter.
Just like in Western medicine the lungs is related to respiration. The lungs take in oxygen and qi from the environment and expel waste from the interior of the body. This is known as “getting rid of the stale and taking in the fresh”.
The energy we take in from breathing is mixed with the food and water we consume to form the qi used for the functions of the body. Just like the quality of food and water you eat and drink is important so is the quality of air you breathe as well as how you breathe. The breath is one of the few processes in the body that is under both conscious and unconscious control. In yoga we breathe in through the nose and out through the nose as the body was anatomically designed for. To take the body out of fight or flight we can exhale longer than we inhale calming the nervous system.
The skin of the body is considered the first line of defense from external pathogens. The “wei qi” is the energy of the body that defends against those pathogens. This is achieved through the opening and closing of the pores. The lung is considered a delicate organ and is easily susceptible to attack. Dressing for the season is important and especially keeping the neck covered to prevent a wind attack which can quickly turn into a stiff neck, sore throat, runny nose etc. The skin has the job of distributing qi and controlling respiration as well.
The lung also assists in regulating the water passages and plays a role in the body’s ability to sweat. When imbalanced this can cause spontaneous sweating, or the inability to sweat.
The lung meridian passes through the throat affecting our speech either in the quality of voice or in the case of grief using our voice, expressing grief in a healthy way etc.
According to Paul Pitchford in Healing with Whole Foods the personality of those with strong lungs is influenced by this qi: they appear unified, hold onto their direction, create order, and are effective at what they do. How well we “hold on” and “let go” can be expressed in terms of emotional attachment. The large intestine is the yang organ paired with the lung and its obvious function is releasing what is no longer needed. In Chinese Medicine this is emotional and physical.
Grief that is expressed and resolved strengthens the internal basis of health, repressed grief causes long term contraction of the lungs. Lung and large intestine disharmonies regardless of source usually have a root cause of unresolved sadness that needs to be cleared.
Grief and the energy of fall is contracting in nature, if used constructively it can clear repression. This is an emotion and time of year that invites us to look within and identify unresolved pain. Mindfulness gives way to resolution. Using the breath especially long deep breathing helps to clear these emotions and thoughts. It is also interesting to note that lung and colon cancer are very prevelant in our culture.
A note on getting sick. Getting sick a couple times a year can actually be a way for your body to expel toxic build up in the body not a sign that you are unwell. Just like with grief if it important to be mindful of your body during times of illness. Take the time to rest and recover when you get sick to lessen the duration and severity of illness. (get some acupuncture to boost the immune system or just at the onset to assist in a quick resolution)
Pungent is the flavor of fall and can be used for both cleansing and protection. Hot peppers and chiles are pungent in flavor and cause the body to sweat, a great example of how all the associations of the lung are tied together. White pungent foods are most specific to the lungs especially in the onion family and garlic. Turnip, ginger, horseradish, cabbage, radish, daikon radish and white peppercorn. Seaweeds, marshmallow root, flaxseed and fenugreek help to clear excess mucus and replace it with a healthy mucus lining in the body.
Foods high in beta carotene appear to protect the lungs and large intestine against cancer. Some examples include: carrot, winter squash, pumpkin, broccoli, parsley, kale, mustard greens, watercress, wheat or barely grass, common green, blue-green, or golden algae.
Green foods improve digestion of proteins and fats and inhibit viruses as well as aid the body in clearing residues of environmental pollution from fumes, coal dust, smoke etc. Many dark leafy greens look like lungs especially spinach and chard and are especially helpful. Greens also help to clear phlegm in the body.
Adding fiber to the diet is also beneficial in cleansing the lungs and large intestine. Apples, pears, cherries, carrots, oats help to clear cholesterol from the digestive tract. In the fall it is especially benefical to eat these foods cooked.
You will notice that the foods for the fall are also those that are also in season for the fall.
The points used for class are part of Miriam Lee’s Great 10 protocol. Miriam Lee was an important contributor to acupuncture in the United States and would treat up to 18 people an hour. She developed this protocol that could treat virtually any disharmony. Consequently the points we are using fall on the lung and large intestine channels and it is thought that the lung qi is the weakest in modern people.
Li4 also known as the headache point. It is the command point for the head and face meaning that it can be used for any issue involving the head and face eyes, ears, nose, mouth etc. It is also used to treat colds, excessive sweating, red eyes, toothache, nosebleed, loss of voice, sore throat, amenorrhea, prolonged labor, rashes, pain in the body. One of my teachers would say this point is the body’s natural advil.
Li11 According to Insights of a Senoir Acupuncturist current research in China has found that stimulating this point increases white blood cells, this increasing immune function and providing antibiotic and antiinflammtory action. It is used to treat fever, sore throat, loss of voice, toothache, dizziness, hypertension, urticarial, rash, dry skin, shingles, abdomen pain, numbness of the arm, pain of the elbow and ankle.
Lu7 is used to treat chills and fever, nasal congestion, cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, headache, stiff neck, hot or painful urination, poor memory, palpitations, weakness and pain of wrist, clears heaviness and oppression of the chest.
It seemed only fitting to use the 2 most tonifying points for the spleen/stomach system this season: Sp6 and St36. As we explored in class there are a variety of ways to stimulate these points to strengthen our center whether it be through pressure from seeds, our fingers, the heat of moxa or acupuncture needles. Here are some benefits of these points and a reminder on how to find them.
SP6 SANYINJAO “3 yin intersection”
This acu-point is named 3 yin intersection because the 3 yin channels of the leg (liver, spleen, and kidney) converge on this point. Because of this meeting place all three of these organs are stimulated when this point is used. This point is used for a variety of ailments and is considered a primary point for digestive, gynaecological, sexual, urinary and emotional disorders. Sp6 is considered to be one of the most important points to harmonize and cool the blood as well as to invigorate circulation. This point is contraindicated during pregnancy due to its ability to assist the body with labor both by encouraging efficient contractions and reducing the pain of said contractions.
To find this point rest your pinky on the highest point of the body protruburance on the inside of the ankle, find the tender spot where your index finger rests in the depression close to the tibia bone.
ST37 ZUSANLI “leg 3 miles”
This acu-point is named leg 3 miles because soldier would burn moxa over it to give them endurance to march 3 more miles. St36 is also the command point of the abdomen and so it is useful for anything relating to the stomach and digestion. Qin Cheng-zu of the song dynasty went a step further and said that with this point “all diseases can be treated.” This point is the most important point to stimulate the spleen and stomach to build qi and blood. St36 also works to harmonize the stomach, tonify the spleen, nourish blood and yin, clear fire, calm the spirit and resolve dampness.
You can find this point by placing your 4 fingers under the knee cap and then pressing in one finger breadth lateral to the tibia.
If using acupressure gently press into these points for 1-3 minutes on each side. If applying moxa hold the moxa stick above the point until you feel the warmth of the moxa on your skin. Use a pecking motion so the skin does not become too hot. When the point feels warm appx 5-10 minutes change sides. This is a great practice at the change of the seasons to keep the body strong.
When doing moxa make sure to be in an open or well ventilated space. The stick may be reused if stamped out without water after use. Store only after it has cooled and is no longer smoking.
Never do moxa without the guidance of a trained and licensed acupuncturist.
While acupressure is powerful it is important to make sure you are working with a licensed and trained medicine professional and is not a replacement for medical care.
The spleen and stomach system relate to the season of late summer, approximately the last month of summer time as well as the last 18 days or so of each season when we are slowly but surely becoming the next season. Because of this and the other functions of the spleen system it is closely tied with transitions environmentally, energetically, emotionally, and physically. In class we explored the breath and the space between the inhalations and exhalations, the place where one becomes the next.
Here is the quick reference for the spleen system:
Element: Earth Color: Yellow
Taste: Sweet Emotion: Overthinking/Worry
Opens to: Mouth Manifests on: Lips Controls: Muscles and extremities
The main function of the Spleen system is to transport and transform the food we eat. When you think of the spleen/stomach it is easy to think about digestion. This system takes the food we consume and transforms it into usable energy then takes it where the body needs it so it can be used. Digestion and absorption is all about the spleen. The spleen also plays a role in overseeing the water in our bodies as well making sure it is where it needs to be and taking it away from where it doesn’t belong. The pathogen of the spleen is dampness. If you’ve ever been outside on a damp day you can feel it in your body in a distinct way. People who have spleen imbalance can be very sensitive to this kind of weather. Other examples of dampness in the body include pain that is worse in damp weather, heavy achy limbs, edema, diarrhea, phlegm, and retained fluid.
The spleen also controls the blood. While the heart pumps the blood throughout the body and the liver stores it at rest the spleen makes sure the blood is contained where it is supposed to be. When the spleen is weak you may experience bleeding because of this such as spotting in between periods, long or heavy periods, nose bleeds etc
The spleen also controls the muscles and limbs and containment is involved here as well. Healthy muscles are those that contract when used and relax at rest. When the spleen is weak the muscles will be weak and the skin flabby. Malnourishment or excessive consumption of processed foods can cause this weakness in the body as well. Energetically the spleen moves upwards, when this energy is weak it can cause issues with the muscles such as prolapse of the uterus, rectum or other internal organs.
The spleen manifests on the lips. When the lips are soft, red and full it indicates the health of the spleen energy. When pale, dry or thin this can indicate issues or depletion of the spleen energy.
The taste of the spleen is sweet but not the way you might associate this flavor with. Full sweet flavor comes from root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, yams, beets, wheat, sweet peppers, corn, squashes etc Because the spleen is essentially a part of all seasons as the space between one and the next you can think of spleen foods as the foundations of your diet. Many orange and yellow foods are great first foods for babies when introducing solids because they are easy to digest.
The color of the season is yellow and it is easy to see why. Look around outside and everywhere you look there is vibrant yellow. The fields are golden, the flowers are yellow and even some dried leaves are yellow in color. Eating foods that are yellow are also beneficial to the spleen system.
The emotion is worry or overthinking. I can imagine when we depended on growing our own food how this season could be a time of worry. Did the crops yield enough to sell and hold us over winter? Would the coming winter be a rough one? In modern times we damage our spleen energy with multi-tasking. The spleen has many jobs but it is important to take it one step at a time. One way to protect your spleen is to make meal time your one and only priority. Turn the television off, put your smart phone in another room and enjoy the aromas and delicious sight of your foods. Chew thoroughly before taking another bite, putting your fork down in between tastes and enjoy good company and conversation.
If you find yourself in a state of ruminating and can’t get your mind to get off the hamster wheel the best way to clear your mind is to do movement where your opposite hand moves with your opposite foot. Walking is a perfect example of this and even simply walking in place can help especially if your thoughts start up when you’re trying to sleep.
Here are some spleen recipes:
The color of the season is yellow and it is easy to see why. Look around outside and everywhere you look there is vibrant yellow. The fields are golden, the flowers are yellow and even some dried leaves are yellow in color. Eating foods that are yellow are also beneficial to the spleen system.
The focus of our yoga practice this season is about finding equilibrium during times of transition. In each pose be mindful of your breath especially in the spaces between the inhale and exhale, the place of becoming. That’s what this season is all about. We do a series of postures in different ways to explore how it feels and which feel best for right now. The intention is to bring these postures into your daily practice however they feel best. Remember especially if you are short on time to pick 2 poses to practice everyday, the one from class you liked best and the one you liked least. 😉 Let’s begin.
Wide Mountain Twist
Stand with feet shoulder width apart or wider. Feel how your feet make contact with the ground. Inhale arms to T exhale twist upper body to the right keeping hips square. Move with breath inhaling to center and exhaling to twist noting the space between each inhale and exhale. Repeat 3 times on each side and return to wide mountain to observe body for 3 breaths.
Standing with wide legs march in place for 3 breath cycles.
Closed leg mountain
Standing with big toes touching and outer feet parallel inhale finger tips to shoulders exhale releasing shoulders down. Inhale lengthen spine and exhale twist. Repeat on opposite side. Do 3 rounds o each side.
With feet together march in place for 3 breath cycles.
Bring feet hip width apart. Inhale arms to cactus, exhale twist. Repeat other side. Do 3 rounds, return to center and observe for 3 breaths.
Repeat one more round of standing mountain twist which ever feet and arm combination felt best in your body.
With feet hip distance apart march in place for 3 breath cycles.
Curl ring finger into palm and bring middle and index finger to touch thumb. Keep pinky extended and rest back of hands on thighs or knees. This mudra can help with clearing congestion and headaches especially when caused by weather changes. It also can help when we are spending too much time in our heads. Rest in this mudra for 3-6 minutes spending time observing your breath allowing for the spaces between your inhalations and exhalations to comfortably lengthen.
Acupressure SP6 & ST36
Bridge wide legged
Place feet shoulder width apart keeping knees and feet parallel. Arms are in a wide “V”, shoulders and neck are relaxed. Take a deep breath and feel the pause, with the exhale lift the hips off of the ground and hold for 3 breaths. Inhale and release, exhale and allow the body to soften. Repeat 3 times.
Lie on your back, knees bent feet on the floor. Bring arms to a “T”. With an exhale drop knees to right with knees pointing down and away from the body. If you feel any tightness in the hips of knees elevate the left thigh/knee with a blanket or block. If you want to go deeper into the twist turn the head to the left. Take 3 deep breaths. Lift right leg and then left back to center when you are finished. Repeat on the left.
Bridge feet together
Thighs, knees and feet touching and arms close to body. Inhale, pause and exhale lift hips into bridge. Slide shoulders down and slide arms toward midline. Take 3 breath cycles and release. Observe effects of pose.
Take a deep breath and as you exhale drop knees to the right bringing the thighs parallel with right arm. If any tightness is felt place a blanket or block under your right thigh. To go deeper turn head to the left. Both shoulders should be resting comfortably on the ground. Take 3 deep breaths, observing the gentle squeeze of the internal organs as you exhale.
Bring feet hip distance apart for this bridge pose. You can place a block inbetween your thighs. Three breath cycles
Arms in T, exhale knees into chest. Inhale pause, exhale drop knees to right with the knees pointing up to the arm pit/shoulder. Place a blanket or block under thigh for support if needed. Take 3 breaths. Pause in the center and Repeat on the left.
Supine Spleen Salutation
Start lying on your back, knees bent, feet hip width apart.
- exhale bridge pose
- inhale release
- exhale knees to chest arms up and over head
- inhale release arms at sides, extend legs up bent knees if need be
- exhale knees to chest
- inhale to starting point, do 3-5 rounds
Hold for 5-10 minutes in restorative pose of your choice
The late summer yogapuncture is in Crystal Lake on Friday September 15th at 7:15. If you’d like to join there are a few spots left. I am including a self care package that goes along with the theme of this yogapuncture and all of it relates to the spleen/stomach system in Chinese Medicine. The self care package is designed to assist you through out the season and hopefully give you a few new things you might not have tried before. Here are the 4 items that will be in this care package and what they are for. Since the spleen/stomach system’s main job in Chinese Medicine is to “rot and ripen” our food both transforming and transporting the energy our body uses from the food we eat and the color associated with this system is yellow/orange it only felt fitting to include a few things that support digestion.
These are hand rolled “pills” of powdered ginger, peppercorn and long pepper with raw, local honey are part of Ayurvedic medicine (Chinese Medicine’s). These can be enjoyed before or after a meal to assist with digestion and are especially good if you have a tendency to run cold or struggle with gas and bloating. Not sure if you run cold? If raw foods seem to give you an upset stomach that could be an indication of cold in your belly as one example. Black pepper is known to assist in the absorption rate of the foods it is paired with. These are especially helpful in the fall/winter seasons when the temperatures are colder.
Golden milk includes turmeric and ginger (both are yellow/orange) which are helpful anti inflammatory herbs. This concentrate is homemade and takes the labor out of making your own golden milk at home. Drink daily for a boost of energy, to support your spleen/stomach system and reduce inflammation. It reminds me of a latte and feels cozy in your belly on a cool fall day without any of the guilt. This golden milk is also dairy and caffeine free.
If you would like a self care package let me know by next Wednesday Sept 13th. The cost is $35 I will only be making them to order this time. They will be ready for class on next Friday and if you can’t make it to class I can mail to you or you can pick up by me. If you have any questions please let me know!
Can you feel it? Autumn is on the breeze, ever so slightly. Its a whisper in the urgency we feel as we race to the pool for the last dips of the season, as we watch the sun dipping slowly down the horizon faster than we would like as the dew of the grass feels a little too cool in the early mornings and evenings. The garden is slowly but surely going to seed, leaves drying out in a blaze of yellow.
It amazes me to watch the subtle connection my children have to the seasons. In the height of summer their energy seems to have no bounds, they push bed time as far as they can with all sorts of joy filled shenanigans and wake early with the sun ready to start a new. I think to myself how will I ever get them to bed on time for school even when its months away and then that tiny whisper on the breeze beckons them to bed a little earlier, the shenanigans don’t last quite as long, they don’t fight the heaviness on their eye lids, they wake with the sun which is also a little later to rise. There is always so much to learn.
In Chinese Medicine the Spleen and Stomach system relate traditionally to late summer and also any periods of transitions whether that be between seasons of the environment, seasons of our lives or the ebb and flow of our days. The spleen correlates to the earth which is our center. Its job is to ripen and rot our food to be transformed and transported throughout the body to be made into usable energy. Its emotion is worry or over thinking and controls the mouth and the muscles of the body. Most Americans can be classified as spleen (qi) energy deficient because of our fast lifestyle and empty diet.
Join me Friday September 15th from 7:15-9:45 in Crystal Lake as we explore the Spleen/Stomach system a little deeper through gentle yoga practice, acupressure, acupuncture, and nourishing foods. If the cooler weather leaves you with a feeling of dread, you struggle with digestive issues, are going through a life transition or just like learning this class is for you. Space is limited and I would love to see you there! Look for a facebook event to reserve your spot soon.
Until then enjoy the last bits of summer. 😉
Here is the yoga sequence we did at Bonnie’s in Crystal Lake. Let’s do a Facebook live for the sequence at Ohm Mother Yoga especially for those of you who wanted a slightly more active class. 🙂 I’ll keep you posted with a date for July. Photo credit to my joy filled mom Joyce Zender-Hodnett for the pictures by her roses.
Centering with mudra: touch index and thumb together, place left palm up on thigh and right hand over heart. Find your breath. Inhale from base of the spine up and exhale from crown of the head down. Hold 2-10 minutes
Shoulder shrugs and upper body alignment. (Not pictured) sit at end of seat feet hip distance apart. Inhale shoulders up to ears and exhale shoulders down. Let movements match breath.
Lengthen the exhale: inhale shoulders up
Exhale squeeze shoulder blades then slide shoulder blades down into back pockets
Feel the shoulder girdle grounded (we return to this in chair downdog)
Square hips and cross ankle over opposite thigh, let knee open
Inhale arms up, exhale opposite arm back for extra stretch use other hand on elbow as pictured
Inhale arch back and reach arms out in soft cactus position
Exhale round spine and reach arms forward
Do 3-6 rounds
Swivel to the side of chair, back leg can be straight or bent, you could even put a block under a bent knee for support
Check your arm pit to feel the head of the humerus plugged into the socket, in downdog we feel this by releasing the shoulders away from the ears like we did in the beginning of class only now you are partially upside down
Keep the knees in line and bend your knee, bend the elbow and hold your hand out like you would holding a tray feel your chest open, stay here or scoop the inside of your ankle
Remember these fun stretches that open the meridians and nerves of the hands? Arms in a T ground the shoulders down, draw the ribs in and press the heel of the hands out as fingers reach toward shoulders, play around with fingers and wrist location for a different stretch, go deeper by slowly and gently tilting the head from side to side
Take hands to side of chair or back of chair depending on how open your chest and shoulders feel, lift up through the chest let the head and throats soften back
Rest torso on thighs and fold forward, reach for ground or block
One hand on block or floor and one reaching up, head can be neutral, looking up or down
Hands in prayer, thumbs resting on third eye
Like we discussed in the last post, summer yogapuncture the flavor of summer is bitter. Check back there for some examples of bitter foods to add to your diet in the summer.
Summer is the season of variety! Go to the farmers market throughout the season and each week you will see more and more delicious foods to eat. Bright colored, beautiful foods are the best to eat right now. This nourishes us deeply and fills up our energetic savings account especially for the winter months. Cook light on high heat (or not at all) and steam veggies lightly. Add spicy regularly to help regulate body temperatures. As you eat spicy foods it warms the body which signals to turn on the internal A/C. (it also helps rev up your metabolism) The summer is also a time of eating less and lighter especially on hot days. Eating in season and local is best especially in the summer because the foods you are eating have adapted to the same environment that you have giving you the best nutrition possible.
The color of summer is red and foods that “bleed” red are especially nourishing to the blood of our bodies energetically. The summer is also the time of adding more fresh, in season fruit to the diet. Think cherries, strawberries, watermelon, raspberries and beets. Watermelon is especially nourishing in the summer as it is hydrating and cooling and is actually considered an herb in Chinese Medicine. It is often recommended to eat watermelon when losing weight or if there is danger of heat stroke. Here is the recipe for Watermelon Juice. You can add cucumber slices for added cooling effects. Drink strained or straight both ways are good.
I’ll end with a few summer recipes to try.
Creamed Kale with Scapes (the farmers market has scapes now and if you’ve never had them you really should try them they are so good. If you are wondering what in the heck it is, its a young tender garlic)
Share your favorite summer recipes and beautiful meals on our facebook group.
Summer is the time of expansion, growth, lightness, brightness, outward activity and creativity. Its when the energy around us is most superficial, abundant and available. Just look outside and see everything in full bloom.
In Chinese Medicine the summer is the time of the element of Fire and the meridians most active pertain to the Heart and Small intestine channel. Perhaps because the energy is so available this season has another organ pair active as well: the pericardium and triple warmer.
When you think of summer here is an easy cheat sheet. I’ll get into the specifics below
Color: Red Taste: Bitter
Emotion: Joy Meridians: Heat/Small intestine and Pericardium/Triple Warmer
Element: Fire External Factor: Heat
Opens to tongue Controls Sweating
The main function of the heart/small intestine system is circulation just like what you would think about in western medicine. In Chinese Medicine the heart also houses the mind, spirit and controls sleep and memory. Pericardium is said to be the master of the heart as well as its protector and because of this carries the same functions as the heart.
The small intestine has the job of separating the turbid from the clear for both the food we eat for usable energy and also for our thoughts.
The Triple Warmer protects the organs of the body on the outside as well as controls the “waterways” of the body which helps with distributing energy throughout the body. My teacher would say that the triple warmer is a concept looking for an organ. There are three warmers: upper, middle and lower that divide the torso in a certain respect.
The tongue is an useful diagnostic tool in Chinese Medicine. It is the only organ that is both internal and external. We look at the tongue as a way to see how the body is functioning internally. The shape, size, color and coat all tell a story. The tongue is also where the heart energy opens to. If you have trouble sleeping, are feeling restless/anxious take a peak at your tongue chances are the tip of your tongue will be redder than the rest of the tongue body. If you find a center crack on the tongue that can indicate stress in the body or can be constitutional deficiency of the heart energy. When stress recedes in our lives typically the center crack will as well even if it doesn’t go away completely. Balanced heart energy means you have an easy time communicating your thoughts. Trouble finding words or getting “tongue tied” can indicate an imbalance with the heart. Forgetfullness is also a sign of heart energy imbalance.
The emotion of the summer is Joy. Like any emotion it should be balanced. We often associate joy as being a positive emotion that you can’t have “too much of.” An example of too much joy would be shock. A woman was once thrown a surprise party. When she walked into the room and saw all of these people she started to scream uncontrollably. This is an example of the excess joy taxing the heart. Another example of excess joy would be overstimulation. You might think of burning that candle at both ends as overstimulation. All fun and no rest is damaging to the heart energy of the body. Manic energy is also depleting.
Especially in the Midwest it can feel like we wait all year for summer. It can feel like such a short season and we might feel compelled to get the “most” out of it. As a way to keep Joy balanced this is a perfect season to practice mindfulness.
The heart energy also controls sweating in the body. The heart energy can be damaged by too much heat. If you find yourself sweating excessively or feeling hot or stuffy especially in the palms, feet and chest this can indicate a heart yin deficiency, essentially your body needs more coolant. Acupuncture, herbs and diet changes can help rectify this.
The taste of the summer is bitter. This is often referred to as the most under utilized flavor in western cuisine and perhaps for good reason. In nature typically bitter plants warn us of the plant’s poisonous nature. However the bitter flavor of foods helps to increase saliva which in turn helps to improve digestion which allows the body to absorb more nutrients from the foods we eat giving way to our ability to have more usable energy. The bitter flavor also clears away heat and drains dampness which can make our bodies feel heavy and lethargic, not how you want to feel in the summer!
Examples of bitter foods include: celery, dandelion, burdock, yarrow, chamomile, hops, Echinacea, alfalfa, romaine lettuce, rye, asparagus, papaya, quinoa and citrus peel. Coffee and dark chocolate are also bitter.
Digestive bitters are also another great way to incorporate the bitter flavor into your diet. Take a teaspoon or so of bitters before a meal to help prime the body for digestion. If you indulge in a heavy meal that leaves you feeling full, bloated or gassy taking bitters after a meal can help assuage your symptoms. The digestive bitters that are included in the summer self care package are custom made for the summer and include cherries or strawberries (the color of summer), citrus peel (bitter element) and peppermint (aromatic and cooling). You can also use bitters mixed with some fruit and sparkling water for a low alcoholic beverage that supports your body rather than deplete it.
I find that the bitter flavor also leaves me craving more water which is a great way to keep the body hydrated in the summer months.
I’ll leave you with this here and get into the diet of summer in the next post so its not so overwhelming and then will have 2 yoga sequences for you to use through out summer as well. Stay tuned! There are still a few self care packages available for purchase as well, let me know if you would like one. 🙂