We speak often on the Krya blog about traditional wisdom and cultural practices which flow from Ayurveda and our understanding of how the body functions and how we must take care of ourselves. We saw yet another interesting deity yesterday at the Parthasarathy temple of Triplicane yesterday. The temple contains a shrine to Yoga Narasimhar, one of the 9 forms of Lord Narasimha, who is himself one of the dasavataras (10 avatars) of Maha Vishnu.
Lord Narasimha and Yoga Narasimha:
Many of us would be familiar with the story behind Lord Narasimha. Prahalad, a devotee of Lord Vishnu continued to worship him, much to the dismay of his father, the Asura King Hiranyakashipu. One day, when answering Hiranyakashipu’s taunt of where Maha Vishnu would be found, little Prahalad answered that he would be found in both the “thoon and the thurumbu” (both in pillars and specks of dust. Incensed, Hiranyakashipu pointed to one of the pillars in his palace and mockingly taunted his son asking if Maha Vishnu would be found here. Answering the prayers f his devotee, Lord Mahavishnu burst out of the pillar in the form of Narasimha, half man, half Lion.
The anger and heat of Lord Narasimha:
Lord Narasimha as an avatar is always considered an “Ugra” avatar or a fierce and angry avatar. Everytime he manifests, his anger and therefore heat is so high, that it stimulates Lord Agni to manifests as forest fires everywhere. As a result, water evaporates and steam and heat rise from the surface of the earth, heating it up. The heat of Lord Narasimha is so powerful and intense that it spreads not just in our world, but throughout all the galaxies, .
To pacify the anger of Lord Narasimha, our scriptures tell us that all human beings, trees, flowers, all animals and all the celestial beings requested Prahlada, Lord Narasimha’s staunch devotee to pacify him. When Prahlada started to sing devotional hymns in praise of Lord Narasimha, the Lord’s anger cooled slightly. Then the Lord’s consort, Goddess Mahalakshmi took the form of “Goddess Narasingavalli” and manifested either on his chest or in his lap.
As soon as the Goddess appeared, the Lord’s anger cooled and he assumed the form of Yoga Narasimha where he sits in Padmasana and is seen doing Pranayama to cool his anger.
In the Kal Azhagar temple just of Madurai, there is another famous depiction of Sri Yoga Narasimha. Here too the Lord sits in his yogic pose, and the ceiling of the sanctum above his idol has a circular hole just above eth crown of his head.
Interestingly, in this temple, the Lord is given frequent thirumanjanam (holy baths) using sesame oil as abhyanga oil before the bath with a specially prepared herbal powder. It is believed that the ushna (heat) emanating after this bath is released through the crown of the head of Lord Yoga Narasimha, which then is released through the special opening in the ceiling in the sanctum.
Excess Pitta dosha and Ushna (heat) and its effects on the body:
Pitta dosha is the dosha in our body that controls “Agni” or heat and is responsible for digestion of food, metabolizing nutrients form food, for the quality of blood in our body, for our intellect, focus, vision and complexion.
In our body, the main seat of Pitta dosha is the stomach. The second seat of Pitta dosha is the eyes, where Pitta dosha and Kapha dosha together are responsible for vision and clarity. Every process in our body generates Agni / heat, and to keep our body in a state of balance, we should have heat that is “just right” – not too much or too little.
The activity of the brain and eyes together generates tremendous heat, and Ayurveda says that this heat is continuously released through the crown of the head as vapour.
When the excess Pitta generated in our body continues to stay trapped in the body without being released, Ayurveda tell us that there are many health issues that can form and accumulate in the body. These include excessive hair greying, hair thinning, development of acne, rashes that can develop on skin on sun exposure, and even diseases like high blood pressure, poor vision, improper digestion, diarrhoea, etc.
In seasons like summer when Agni in the atmosphere is already very high, the excess Pitta in our body can build up much more. So in today’s post, we are going to look at 9 cooling practices to adopt this summer. These practices will help regular Pitta dosha in our body, check excess heat, and keep our hair, skin and body in good shape during the summer.
9 Pitta balancing and heat releasing practices for the summer:
1.Head to toe Abhyanga within the first hour of sunrise (before heat sets in) with sesame based abhyanga oil like the Krya abhyanga oil for the body, and a cooling; Amla based hair oil for the hair. This Abhyanga should be done twice a week.
- Sesame Oil for the body balances vata and also helps open up the pores, allows the oil to penetrate deeply and helps the dissipation of heat through the skin
- Amla based hair oil cools the scalp and brain roughly, helps release excess pitta accumulated in the eyes and head through the crown, improves hair growth and reduces hair greying and thinning
- The abhyanga, if done properly and regularly, intensively removes excess heat through sweat , urine and bowel movements in the body, corrects impaired vata dosha, and leaves you feeling fresh, full of energy and sharp through the day
2.Hair Oiling the scalp with a pure, traditional Amla based hair oil every evening atleast 45 minutes before dinner or 2 hours after dinner, atleast 30 minutes before sleeping.
- This hair oiling helps release excess heat accumulated during the day
- This hair oiling also nourishes the scalp and promotes healthy hair growth
- If done before dinner, it helps settle pitta in the body ensure the digestive fire is not too high or too low. If done after dinner, just before sleeping, it ensures restful sleep.
- Only a small quantity of hair oil needs to be used – ½ teaspoon of hair oil is sufficient
3.Preferentially eat split Mung dal over other Dals this summer
- Most lentils are considered high in pitta dosha, some are considered high in kapha dosha. All lentils are considered high in vata dosha
- Lentils like Tuvar dal are generally considered high in Pitta, so are traditionally boiled or pressure-cooked with cooling fats like castor oil or ghee to ensure both pitta and vata is balanced.
- Lentils like Rajma and Channa are considered very difficult to digest – they are best avoided in Summer where the high heat in the atmosphere unbalances the normal digestive process leaving us less able to eat tough-to-digest foods.
- Mung Dal is considered, light, tridoshic and the least vata aggravating lentil. It is considered very soothing and cooling to the stomach and is normally fed to those with impaired Pitta dosha or digestive disorders.
- It is an ideal lentil base in summer to ensure Pitta is not aggravated, and your digestive system is not taxed by difficult to digest lentils.
4.Add melted cow ghee to your diet; avoid other dairy products like curd, cheese, yoghurt, and milk based sweets
- Most dairy products are unsuitable for this season as they may be difficult to digest: curd is an absolute no, as is cheese because they are both high in pitta and kapha. consumption of these 2 dairy products will build up heaviness and sluggishness sin the system in this season
- Milk based sweets and consumption of high quantities f milk based drinks like tea and coffee (except advised to for a specific medical condition) also create ama and sluggishness in the system.
- If you must drink some form of fermented dairy, then thin, Ayurvedic buttermilk is ok on occasion.
- The safest dairy product to consume, which will actually help you this summer is melted cow ghee. Add to all meals to improve digestive ability.
5.Use a grain based body wash powder or ubtan with cooling herbs for your bath everyday
- In summer, as the sweat secretion from the body increases, there is also a proliferation of debris, dead cells and micro organisms which may grow on the skin, blocking the minor srotas.
- These small micro organisms tend to feed on the small sebum secretions that come along with sweat.
- These increases body odour in summer and also tends to block off the minor srotas of the skin, impairing proper functioning of the sweat glands, blocks healthy perspiration and also causes small bumps, rashes and minor inflammation o skin
- Using a well formulated grain and lentil based ubtan with the right cooling herbs micro polishes the skin, opens up the minor srotas and cleans them well, and facilitates healthy perspiration and removal of ama from the body. This practice keeps skin free of pitta clogged reactions like rashes, acne, etc.
6.Eat your meals on time and eat dinner as close to sunset as possible
- In summer, as Pitta dosha is naturally aggravated, digestion becomes slightly impaired.
- So eating late and at odd times strains the entire body and interferes with proper nutrient absorption.
- Eating your meals on time, helps keep the appetite steady, helps nutrient absorption and keeps the body light and active
7.Drink naturally cooled water and not fridge-cooled water whenever thirsty. Supplement with natural tender coconut water. AVOID all other fruit juices, colas, iced teas, granitas and synthetic drinks.
- Fridge cooled water tends to be vata promoting and leaves the mouth and body dry
- Naturally cooled water (water stored in earthen ware) is refreshing for the body, promotes natural heat exchange and allows for excess pitta to leave the body through urine and sweat.
- Coconut water is an excellent electrolyte restoring , nutrient rich, cooling summer drink
- Eating seasonal fruit is preferable over drinking the juice (even if it is made at home without added sugar) as chewing stimulates the digestive system, ensures you eat there right quantity of fruit (and not too much) and that your system is not overloaded.
- Colas, iced tea and iced coffee are very vata aggravating, water and nutrient depleting and acidic and bone weakening. Avoid in all seasons, especially summer.
8.Avoid the peak sun. Stay indoors between 10 am – 3 pm if possible.
- Go out only if you must and cover your head and arms with protective clothing.
- After coming back from high sun exposure, give yourself atleast 10 minutes of rest before drinking water. Do not drink cold water immediately after sun exposure.
- Do not have a bath / cold shower immediately after sun exposure as it sends your system into shock.
9. Eat bitter foods and avoid extremely sour or spicy foods to control pitta aggravation
- Eat a small quantity of bitters regularly through the season like bitter gourd, local greens. These bitters help balance pitta
- Control the amount of sour and spicy food you eat as both aggravate pitta dosha. Very mildly spiced food is best for this season.
A part of Ayurveda gives us detailed information, diets and practices for each season, called “Ritucharya”. By following the appropriate Ritucharya for Summer, we can avoid many of the health issues that plague us, and continue to lead a life of good health, balance and harmony.
We hope you enjoyed this post on 9 cooling practices and diet changes for the Summer. If you would like us to cover any specific topics on health which are appropriate for the Krya blog, do write to us.
Krya products recommended for this season:
- The KryaAbhyanga system for Men and Women (consists of the Krya Abhyanga oil and either a Women’s ubtan or a Men’s ubtan. ) The system is designed to balance aggravated vata and pitta dosha. Most urban dwellers additionally have aggravated vata dosha due to their long commutes, nature of work, uncertain eating timings, etc. This together pushes vata dosha along with pitta dosha out of balance
- The Krya Abhyanga skin oil with Vacha and Ashwagandhanoticeably brings down aggravated vata and pitta. Users report seeing a reduction in vata related aches and pains and balancing of excess pitta through the body with regular use.
- The Krya Abhyanga bath powder for Women with Lotus Leaf and Lodhra – formulated to cleanse skin after an abhyanga. Helps remove excess oil, dead cells, debris for the skin without stripping it of moisture. Prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors as a natural soap substitute.
- The Krya Abhyanga bath powder for Men with Vetiver & Van Tulsi– formulated to cleanse skin after an abhyanga. Helps remove excess oil, dead cells, debris for the skin without stripping it of moisture.
Bodywashes for adults: meant to replace soap; can be used even if you have not oiled your skin
- Krya Classic Bodywash with Rosemary & Cassia Flower– formulated for Normal – Oily Pitta type skin
- Krya Moisture Plus Bodywash with Kushta & Indian Liquoriceformulated for Normal – Dry Vata type skin
- Krya After sun Bodywash with arjuna & Ashwagandha– formulated for skin that has very high sun exposure
- Krya sensitive Bodywash with Lodhra & Lotus flower– formulated for skin prone to dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions
- Krya Zingy Summer Bodywash for Men with eucalyptus & Green Tea– formulated for Men’s skin that has high outdoor exposure
Hair Oils for different hair types:
- Krya Classic Hair Oil with Amla & Bhringaraj (for normal – oily hair)
- Krya Conditioning hair oil with Carrot and Banana stem (for normal – dry hair)
- Krya harmony hair oil with Brahmi & Vetiver for dry hair and people with high stress
- Krya Damage repair hair oil with Marigold & rosemary for chemically damaged hair
- Krya anti dandruff hair oil with Black Cumin and Citriodora