Tis the season for holiday feasts, gatherings and parties. And with that can come a whole lot of gas, bloating and discomfort in the colon. According to Ayurveda, gas and bloating stem from the presence of Vata dosha (the elements of air & ether) in the colon and impaired Agni (digestive fire). Vata literally means wind, so it is no wonder that when Vata is increased in the body, it can get a little windier down under. The fact that we are also in Vata Season (fall to early winter) and that we more than likely will be indulging in extravagant meals that might be hard to digest, means that Vata could get out of hand this holiday. Luckily, however, there are a few simple suggestions that you can follow to calm, ground and lubricate your GI tract, thereby reducing the possibility of a bloated belly and the pain and discomfort that come with it.
1. Sip on a Dosha-Specific Digestive Tonic 10 Minutes before Meals
Make yourself a delicious and simple digestive tonic and sip on it before you come to a meal. Use any one of our 4 Ayurvedic Spice Mixes,
available for each Dosha and in a Tridosha version (suitable for everyone) and mix 1/2 tsp into 1 cup of warm or hot water. Mix it all up well and then drink. You may find that the Vata Spice Mix is most suited to you at this time because of the seasonal influence.
Ayurveda has always known of the power of spice to kindle Jatharagni (digestive fire), to balance the Doshas, and truly, to be daily medicine for preventing disease and maintaining health.
2. Prioritize Foods that are Vata-Balancing
Let your meals during this time be oh so pacifying for Vata dosha. This means that your ingredients, your cooking methods, as well as the energy you bring into the kitchen and to the table should all be grounding, calming and stabilizing. Focus on creating meals that are ‘guru’ (heavy), ‘usna’ (hot), ‘snigdha’ (oily) and ‘mrdu’ (soft) to invite in the energies of Earth and Water, the very opposite of Vata.
1. Think HEAVY, WARM & MOIST. Apply these tenets to everything, including what you eat, how you eat, and your overall lifestyle.
2. Prioritize foods that are Sweet, Sour & Salty. These 3 Rasas, or tastes, balance/decrease Vata dosha.
3. Avoid or limit foods that are Pungent, Bitter & Astringent. These tastes increase actually increase/aggravate Vata dosha.
4. Avoid all raw and cold foods. Be sure to cook everything and eat your meals warm or hot, using lots of warming spices like turmeric, fresh ginger, cumin, fennel, ajwain, hing (asafoetida), brown mustard seed, black pepper, sesame seeds, cinnamon and nutmeg
5. Use an abundance of oils in your cooking, prioritizing oils like sesame oil, olive oil and ghee.
6. Soak your beans overnight!
7. Follow a consistent schedule for meal times every day and eat your largest meal at lunch time (between 10am-2pm).
3. Sip Hot CCF Tea Between Meals
CCF Tea is a popular herbal infusion, born from and deeply loved by Ayurveda. A blend of whole Cumin, Coriander and Fennel seeds, our version is also entirely organic.
This tea is known for its balancing effects, and its ability to reduce gas, increase and kindle Agni (therefore, stronger digestion), burn fat, and eliminate Ama (toxins).
Drink it all throughout the day, or sip after meals to encourage proper digestion.
4. Wind-Relieving Pose (Pavana Muktasana)
Pavana Muktasana is a deeply restful and restorative yogic asana (pose) that helps to release gas and Vata dosha from the colon. And fittingly, 'Pavana' means air, gas, while 'Mukta' means liberation and release. To come into Pavana Muktasana, lie on your back and draw your knees into your chest. Wrap your hands or arms around your shins and hold for 3 minutes or more while breathing slowly and deeply and keeping the eyes closed. Breath the belly into the thighs so that the internal organs can receive an effortless massage. You will notice that the gas held within your gut begins to gradually release. Final tip: do this asana when you're alone or only with people that you are very comfortable with ;).
5. Close Out the Holidays with a Kitchari Cleanse
Fall into a period of internal cleansing & dietary simplification after the holidays have come to an end. Order a KIND CLEANSE, if you live in or around the Peterborough ON area or the Toronto area, and ease into a self-retreat of 3, 5 or 10 days in which your diet will be paired down to the delicious, nourishing, unctuous and deeply cleansing Kitchari dish, a highly-revered and traditional meal of organic rice, mung beans, spices and vegetables cooked specifically for your unique needs and doshic imbalances. Cleanses help to clear physical, emotional and energetic toxins, enkindle Agni, balance the Doshas, and restore the body’s systems of elimination. Afterwards, the body and mind will be cleaner and rejuvenated.
Gas and bloating does not need to be your normal. And it is certainly possible to regulate and heal this disorder with time. Try these tips during the holidays and after, and see how things shift in your digestive health, and let us know in the comments how you feel!
Wishing you all happy holidays and happy feasting!