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An Herb-Filled Sun Tea to Welcome the Summer Solstice

Guest Post by Nishaan Sandhu

As the energy of Summer rises from the Earth through the blossoming of flowers, leaves and Sun, our bodies are innately inspired to do the same. During this time, we too escape the cool, moist grips of Winter and Spring. Our blood gets warmer and our temperature rises. Our energy feels more easily moved and inspired. We may find we naturally wake up a little earlier, like the Sun, as we move into the lightness, brightness and elevated energies that Summer brings!

Your spirits may also rise, as well as your desire to connect with others. This is the feeling of your inner Fire, or Pitta, being stoked in harmony with the season and the Summer Solstice to come. 

For some, Summer Solstice feels like a long awaited blessing; long days in the garden, sun kissed shoulders, a renewed sense of relaxation, liveliness and freedom! For others, this rise of energy and temperature can feel a little oppressive, overheating and agitating. I totally get it. The changes of the season are not always easy! However, with a little practical seasonal self-care, you can feel more healthy, happy and whole. 

The spirit of Ayurveda pulls wisdom from Nature and the Elements – which can be felt within you and around you. So, in reflection of this, I’ve pulled together some of my very favorite and simple ways you can integrate herbs and Ayurvedic wisdom to feel more calm, cool, hydrated and balanced this Summer Solstice and beyond! 

So, let’s dive into the heart of Summer…

The Summer Solstice marks the longest day of the year. It’s the very red carpet for the season of the Sun, Fire and Pitta (toss yellow, orange and red marigold petals here). And, let’s be real … for some, the summer can mean heat … lots of heat … too much heat! 

Not to get you flustered … just a balance of magic and realism here … Summer can feel exhausting for some. If this is you, or someone you know, read on! You’re about to discover how to make some delicious, cooling, calming and nutritive sun teas. 

Sun tea is super simple to make and something you can even do before heading to work, or as you play in the garden. While the energy of the Sun is warming in itself, it can be a lovely ritual for the Summer Solstice. It is also less heating than iced tea made from boiling water. 

I love making teas, especially from organic Peppermint leaves, Lemongrass, or, rose petals because they are so easy to prepare and tasty! 

But, First … 

A reminder that with each cup of tea, you can also welcome a sense of calm, ritual, and a connection to your body. The simple act of stillness, a few deep breaths, and truly feeling the tea go down, can transform your tea drinking experience from just going through the motions to an act of meditative self-care.

The heat of Summer and those Pitta energies, within and without, are balanced well by rest. It goes a long way to take time to smell the cooling, calming scent of the roses before you take a sip. Not only will you relax, you’ll invite a sense of celebration. Welcoming yourself into the present moment with every sip, in order to celebrate life, playfulness and connection–with yourself, your community, plants, bees, puppies, or even the whole world!

It’s your choice. Make these moments and share them with those you love.

How to Make Sun Tea:

You’re welcome to use fresh or dried herbs. Mints dry really well and can feel cooling upon first sip. Lemonbalm and Peppermint can both also aid digestion, Lemonbalm being the more deeply cooling to mind, body and spirit of the two (in my opinion).  Because the green world is bursting forth this time of year, if you can go with fresh, that’s great! These plant teas will hold more life vitality … and hopefully get you connecting to your garden or local farmers market as you gather! 

Gathering Violets

What you will need:

A clear glass jar {1 Quart or larger}

A will to collect herbs {1 Cup/Quart}

Water

A sunny day

A sunny window, or, place outside to place your jar.

1. Collect and rinse a couple handfuls of your favorite organic herbs, fruits and/or flowers. To be honest, I don’t always rinse mine. I personally like the opportunity to boost my immunity and am a fan of a little bacteria and microbes in my diet {of course within reason}. I do, however, always check for insect friends to make sure they are safe and left outside! And, to emphasize, do go organic! Non organic teas are likely to have herbicide and or pesticides on them – and my goal is to keep you feeling healthier! 

2. Say a little thank you to your plants and water for the nourishment {as long as it feels good to you and you have time}. If you have the time and are gathering your own herbs, make a longer graden visit of it. 

3. Place your findings in a clear glass jar, cover herbs completely with cool water (spring water if you can) and place the lid on your jar. Use one cup of herbs per quart of water. 

4. Give your jar a few gentle shakes to ensure all the herbs are well coated. This is a nice time to set an intention, set in some of your juju, and give some more thanks. You may even consider writing your intention on the jar to infuse some extra love into your Summer Solstice Sun tea. 

5. Place your jar of Solstice Tea in a sunny spot on the grass, porch or table for at least 3-5 hours. The warmer the day, the less time you may need. 

Placing your jar on the grass is a lovely way to embrace the energy of the Sun and the Earth. If it will be out in mostly high noon sun, which comes from directly above, you may want to consider placing it on its side for a higher sunlight to glass jar exposure.

6. Let your sun tea sit throughout the day to soak up this Solstice Sunshine. When you get home you can strain it and enjoy your favorite tea ritual. If you have a metal lid, just remember to be careful removing the lid, in case it’s still hot from the Sun. 

Some Herbs to Consider (gather organic plants from non-treated lawns):

Cooling Calendula

Calendula Flowers (Calendula officinalis): A favorite herb of many with gorgeous orange blooms and a sunny disposition all around. It’s a bit salty, moistening, earthy and cooling. It’s a lovely lymphatic for immunity purposes, but can be too salty for those who tend to retain water easily. 

Dandelion Leaf and Flower (Taraxacum officinale): If we would keep more of this beautiful flower in our yards we may have healthier livers, more interesting salad greens and added joy from wishes from those sweet, spent little tufts and seeds! 

Sunny Dandelion

Dandelion leaf is high in Potassium and Vitamin A, delicious in salads, tasty in teas, and an excellent diuretic. It’s a great fit if you tend to retain water. The leaves are most delicious when picked just prior to flower. As they age they become a bit more bitter and this is the same with the flower. This bitterness can be good for someone with Kapha, who also tends to retain water, especially at the extremities. 

The roots are only slightly bitter and also a bit sweet. When chopped and toasted the roots can make a delicious coffee replacement {with chicory and carob as well}. I find the tea from the dried roots to be very drying, almost puckering to the mouth if you drink too much for your own body type.Though, I have not seen this in everyone, the slight bitterness can also be a nice oomph for Kapha.

For this sun tea I suggest using the leaves. If you make a salad, go with some of the beautiful, lioness-like yellow flowers! 

Hibiscus Leaf (Hibiscus sabdariffa): Hibiscus is high in Vitamin C and cooling to the mind and the body and considered an antioxidant and antiinflammatory. It is sweet and sour in flavor and offers itself as a crisp refreshment similar to lemonade on a hot summer day.  A great drink to keep you cool in the summer. 

Lemon Balm Leaf (Melissa officinalis): Oh, Lemon Balm! How I love you.

This is one of my all time favorite herbs to use for its cooling effects on the mind. Lemon Balm is a delicious mint with a (can you guess?) lemony flavor. 

The first time I drank the tea was during a major cram-session at my first herbal apprenticeship. I was task-mastering in a frenzy, which is never good … so, like any herbalist, I decided to take a break with a cup of tea.

Oh, boy am I so happy to have chosen Lemon Balm. It set me back big time. I went from frantically tasking in spirals to a deep breath followed by a totally calm, cool and collected mind. I got so much more done, and felt relaxed and happy while doing it. Lemon Balm is also gentle on the stomach, can help to alleviate gas, cramping, tension, and general malaise of the belly. 

It is an excellent, excellent, excellent herb to have around for the person who gets super fiery in the summertime and is quick to temper, irritability, or outbursts of anger (that Pitta fire in action). I think it’s also great for those who feel very airy and anxious – needing a moment of calm from the storm (Vata). 

If this is you, make a big old jar of sun tea {or regular tea from a pot} to sip on throughout the summer time. Lemon Balm will give you even more reasons to love the world and how you project yourself into it.

If Lemon Balm grows in your garden, place it in a container and collect it right before/as it goes into flower. One plant, when well watered and sunned, can grow large enough for a summer’s worth. It is a pervasive plant {as are all mints} and will take over your garden, and your neighbor’s garden and their neighbor’s-neighbor’s garden if you are not mindful.  All that means is more fun harvest time in the sun for you! And harvest sharing, which everyone loves!

Peppermint Leaf (Mentha piperita): This is another fantastic mint tea to drink in the summertime. Peppermint tea, like the essential oil, is cooling at first and then eventually becomes warming. 

It is an anti-inflammatory, reduces histamine responses and can help to clear a runny nose or sinus congestion. Like eucalyptus, it disperses energy and has an opening quality to the body. Like dandelion root and Calendula, Peppermint too can eventually be drying and puckering to the mouth if you drink too much for your body type (or if you steep it in heat for too long). 

It is an excellent remedy for an upset stomach, and can even be used for nausea (road trip anyone)? 

Peppermint is also energizing, Zing! It can help perk you up in the morning or in the middle of the day, particularly if your mind is wandering and lacking focus. So, if Summer makes you feel groggy and lacking in motivation, this may be a nice fit for you. 

Raspberry Leaf (rubus idaeus): Raspberry leaf contains many vitamins and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, iron, vitamin A and vitamin E. It is sweetly aromatic and sour in flavor and safe to use in pregnancy. It has an astringent quality that allows for it to tone the tissues and is commonly used as a uterine tonic.

Raspberry may be a nice nutritive and nourishing support in a blend with lemon balm, hibiscus, peppermint dandelion and rose petals. 

There are many other herbs that I would have loved to cover such as Tulsi, Nettles, and Rose…but we’ll save that for another time! 

In the meantime, enjoy your sun tea and let me know how your experiments go!

Much love,

Nishaan

Photo by Kaitlyn Sylvestri

Nishaan Sandhu, Holistic Herbalist, Certified Mind-Body Eating Coach and Intuitive Healer

Nishaan supports huge-hearted women who want to stop feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and out of control so they can start feeling more  calm, confident and connected.  

For the past fifteen years, she’d worked with over one thousand individuals one-to-one to help ease symptoms and struggles with anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues, binge eating, mental fog, fatigue and weight imbalances. Clients report lasting results …  feeling confident, energized, balanced, grounded, and less anxious … finally finding freedom from a lifetime of crash diets, fatigue, bloating, anxiety, mood imbalances, weight challenges and negative body image. 

Having been there before, Nishaan loves to lead motivational talks, transformational programs and inspirational teachings to help inspire deeper trust, compassion and intuitive confidence in your relationship with your body, food, daily routines, workflow self-care rituals and energy.

Nishaan shares a down to earth and spiritual approach to healing through an integration of Plant Medicine, Mind-Body Eating Coaching, Astrology and Ayurveda.  She believes healing starts from within and can ripple out like a wave. When you heal and nourish yourself,  you help heal and nourish those around you, the world, and generations to come.

L I N K S

Website: www.Nishaan-Sandhu.com

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Yoga Nidra…The Sleep of the Yogi

The practice of yoga nidra is as ancient as the practice of yoga. Designed to take practitioners through the experience of the koshas, or layers, of the self, this practice offers deep rest and integration after your yoga practice. Try this 20 minute practice offered by Partner Cara Sparkman, in the style of Dr. Richard Miller’s iRest. For more information about iRest, please visit www.irest.us.

The Psoas…our true ‘core’

The iliopsoas complex lies at our deepest interior muscular level. As the muscle group that joins the upper body to the lower body, it has to intermediate between that which moves us through the world (the legs and lower body), and our thinking mind and feeling heart (in the torso and upper body). Because it lies so deep in the body and because it has a tendency to act as an emotional storehouse, it needs a subtle touch when we work with it. BUT! Subtle doesn’t have to mean complicated. Try the short practice below, to experience just how impactful working with the psoas can be.

Light as a feather, stiff as a board

In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali famously wrote “sthira sukham asanam.” This phrase is often translated as a recommendation to find a balance between effort and ease in our yoga postures. When we try Plank Pose for the first time, we might laugh at the thought of ever finding ease in such a demanding posture. However, with a little help from kinesiology, you might find yourself laughing with delight at how easeful your Plank can feel. Practice along with Amanda and our friend Cherie to find out how!

The Surprising Benefits of Online Training

Kitty’s favorite part was “meditation”

In March, as businesses the world over were grappling with how to move online, I got to experience the dilemma from both sides. Even as we set up a Zoom account for the school, purchased a webcam, and rearranged the studio, I was deciding whether to forfeit my spot in a long-awaited retreat, or to go ahead with online attendance. In the end, I decided to attend online, so I was able to experience first-hand some of the unique benefits of an online retreat or training. 

So what is it really like? And how did I translate my experience and feedback from our students into improvements for our 200 and 300 Hour Yoga Immersion Teacher Training Programs? Read on to find out!

About a week before the start of the retreat, I received the retreat materials–a booklet and a schedule of events. I love to know when things are going to happen, and what to expect, as it helps me to feel safe. Our students receive the Student Handbook, including the weekend calendar, as well as the Program Workbook in advance of the first training weekend!

A few days before the start of the retreat, I received the Zoom Meeting Information for the retreat. I was already familiar with Zoom, but I haven’t always been! If you’re not sure where to start, check out the Quick Start Guide on Zoom’s website. 

The day before the retreat, I made sure my space was ready. I reviewed the retreat materials for any special items I might need to have on hand. We recommend that our students have a yoga mat, 3-4 yoga blankets, 2 blocks, a yoga strap and an eye pillow. Don’t have some of those items? Don’t despair! You can substitute towels for the yoga blankets, thick books for the yoga blocks, and a long scarf or bathrobe tie can stand in for both the yoga strap AND the eye pillow!

I made sure to get a good night’s sleep, and then it was finally time to begin! I dressed and got ready, just as if I was actually attending the retreat in person. This can be so helpful as a means of letting our brains know that something special or out of the ordinary is about to happen. This was not a regular old day–I was going on retreat! I logged in using the information provided, and then we were off on our adventure.

Throughout the retreat I attended, the facilitators offered lots of opportunities for participants to speak up and ask questions, and to visit virtually with each other. Here at The Essence of Yoga Center, building community is part of our heartfelt mission. Our students have a private student portal where they can learn more about each other and access class resources, whether they’re attending online or in person!

The best part of attending a retreat or training online? I got to engage with new practices and learn new things in my space–where I can keep to my routines, sleep in my own bed, and not worry about commute times. Research indicates we learn best when we feel safe, and I found that to be so true with my online learning experience. Most importantly, I didn’t have to delay or cancel my retreat. I was still able to obtain the highest quality educational experience from the safety and comfort of my home.

The good news? You can too! Our 200 Hour Yoga Immersion Teacher Training Program is second to none, and it is now available 100% online. Your yoga, your way. Visit our 200 Hour page or contact us today to find out more!

Just do the twist!

We’ve all heard spinal twists are good for us, but why? The obliques are crucial for our postural support, and they are often neglected, particularly if we spend most of our time seated in a stationary position (ahem…perhaps in front of a computer screen?). But the obliques never have a chance to create a spinal twist if we are using our arms to pull ourselves into the rotation. Using the arms in this way is a cue you might hear often in yoga classes, but we’d like to invite you to try something a little different, and notice the effect on the obliques and on your spine. The arms do have a role, and believe it or not, so do the eyes!

Try out this exploration of a simple spinal twist, and surprise yourself with how good you can feel! You can do this one right at your desk…

Row Your Own Boat

When we hear the name Navasana, or Boat Pose, for the first time in a yoga class, we might think we’re in for a sweet and sunny experience, but for many of us, Boat Pose can be anything but. Depending on the length of the spine and torso, the length of the legs, and existing habits and patterns in the body, we might find ourselves struggling to maintain stability even as those around us are sailing blissfully on.

But sunny skies and calm seas are ahead! Check out the video below for the kinesiological keys to a happy, strong and cohesive boat pose.

Unlock the Power of the Bandhas

The Bandhas, or “locks,” in yoga practice can often feel esoteric, inaccessible or intimidating. However, utilizing the Bandhas in our practice can lend the body greater support and cohesion, as well as improving organ health and overall well-being. The good news is, there is a simple and natural muscular action behind this ancient practice. Try this short practice to “unlock” the mystery of this powerful action!

The Core of the Matter

Image courtesy of Rayner & Smale
https://www.raynersmale.com/blog/2014/3/14/the-role-of-transversus-abdo

We’ve all heard that to ensure a healthy, strong and pain-free back, we need to focus on maintaining or increasing our core strength. However, all core work is not created equally.

For many of us, when we think of the core, we think of what we can see and feel: the “six-pack.” However, there are three additional layers to the core in the front of the body alone! It’s the deepest layer of the core, the Transversus Abdominis, and the “back core,” the Multifidi, which we want to target in our efforts to protect and even rehabilitate the spine.

The good news is that achieving this enhanced core integrity is as easy as breathing. Literally! Try the short practice below to see what we mean…

Evidence based research explains why these two sets of deep core muscles are so important to our ability to move gracefully and safely through our lives. For more information on the Transversus Abdominis, check out this article, and for the low-down on the Multifidi, find more information here.

Our 200 and 300 Hour Yoga Immersion Teacher Training Programs explore these concepts and practices in depth through embodied experience. Want to join us? Check out our upcoming offerings on our homepage.