Ice Water Vs Warm Water: The Ayurvedic Perspective
In the northern hemisphere, we are in the full swing of summer, and the west coast of North America is just emerging from a very intense heat wave.
In western culture, we have been conditioned to reach for the ice tray when temperatures soar. And because one of the foundational teachings of Ayurveda is the concept that 'like increases like and opposites create balance,' many people who are new to Ayurveda may think they are doing themselves a favour by making themselves an iced Ayurvedic Coffee, or an iced Pitta Tea, or simply by downing a glass of iced water.
And ice-water immersion has become more and more popular over the last ten years with the surge in popularity of bio-hacking and personal growth strategies.
So ice, it's good for you...right?
Actually, Ayurveda would say quite the opposite.
One of the pillars of Swastha (optimal health) in Ayurveda is the proper functioning of Agni, or the digestive fire. Agni governs our metabolism, and you can imagine it like a burning fire in the solar plexus. A strong-burning Agni allows us to digest, process and use all that we take in through our 5 senses, including what we consume as food through the mouth. Healthy Agni also allows us to efficiently eliminate the unusable by-products of these energetic and physical inputs, so that toxic waste doesn't linger in our bodies and minds.
But if you imagine throwing a pale of water onto a robustly-burning camp fire, you will have a very clear picture of what happens when we drink ice water or any liquid containing ice. The fire goes out immediately, and whatever you throw onto the logs after that will simply sit there. It will not be broken down and over time, it will simply rot and putrefy. This metaphor takes place in our bodies, in the very real production of Ama (waste), which is very sticky by nature and clogs up internal channels in the body; the precursor to imbalance and disease.
This is not what we want to be happening inside our digestive system!
So, to prevent the dampening of Agni, especially during the hot summer months, we suggest that you sip on warm or room-temperature water throughout the day, perhaps brewing a batch of CCF Tea, letting it cool slightly, then sipping it all day, as warm and hot water actually strengthens Agni while balancing Vata and Kapha Doshas simultaneously.
If you have a Pitta constitution (Prakruti), you are experiencing a Pitta imbalance (Vikruti), if you partake in high-intensity exercise or if it's simply scorching hot outside, drink cool or room-temperature water. You can also try coconut water, aloe water, or warm water with fresh peppermint leaves. Avoid wearing dark colours and purchase some clean white clothes for reflecting the sun's rays away from your body.
So, the next time you order water at a restaurant, ask the waiter to hold the ice and know that your meal will digest so much better without it!
For more Ayurvedic tips to help you stay cool, calm and collected this summer, check out our Pitta Season Survival Guide.