From the Cushion

Hot, Clear Water

Photo by Erik Dunham

Let’s discuss hydration.  Dare I state the obvious and say that water is an important ingredient for life.  One of the things Curiosity is looking for on Mars is some sign of water, no doubt.

Health in Ayurveda is called svastha.  Sva means self and stha means to be established.  To be established in the self implies an engagement with body, mind, and heart.  It is a certain knowing of what you need and don’t need as far as food, drink, environment, and lifestyle and a certain balance among those things.  It is not static.  Health is a dynamic flow of all the parts of your own being in a balanced way.  When things get too dry inside physically, things get stuck.

In my last post I mentioned drinking two mugs of water upon waking, the hotter the better.  If you are feeling especially acidic, squeeze some lemon in there too.  This serves a couple of purposes.  But before we get there, let’s look at a particular feedback loop within our bodies.  Agni and Ama.  Agni means fire, illumination, even intelligence, and in Ayurvedic terms it represents the fire of digestion and transformation.  When we take in food, agni converts that food into nutrients and things that your body can use to nourish itself.  Ama is the toxic sludge that accumulates when food is not properly digested.  When ama builds up it can cause a whole host of issues, not only obesity but also fatigue, constipation, indigestion, bad breath and even mental confusion to name a few.  So, we take in food, agni helps digest that food, and what does not get digested or eliminated becomes ama in the body.  The stronger your agni, the less influence ama has on you.  If there is too little or too much water in your system, agni will not function well.

Most of us in the first world have an excess of ama in our systems.  It accumulates when we eat too much of the wrong kinds of foods.  Foods that are highly processed or extremely dense are difficult to digest.  Fresh fruits and vegetables, rice, other grains like quinoa and millet, and legumes are really the best choices.  Meat and dairy products are highly dense, so they should be consumed in smaller portions.  And even with healthy food choices, proper amounts are important too.

Now back to water.  Hot water with a squeeze of lemon in the morning serves two helpful purposes:  it hydrates your body and it prepares your digestive system to do its job that day.  Cold water stifles agni, and other morning beverages like coffee or tea do not have the same effect as water.  The caffeine content is a diuretic, so they can actually dehydrate your body more.  But I have to say, if you choose to drink tea, please enjoy Andrews and Dunham Damn Fine Tea.  (shameless hubby-promotion here, it’s true)  And please, soft drinks are even worse.  Have you seen this graphic making its way around the internets?  Yikes.

Hot water with lemon helps draw ama and toxins out of your body and through your digestive tract to be eliminated.  When there is less ama in your system, your internal channels are more clear.  You will be less prone to fatigue and colds and generally you will just feel better.  Your muscles will even be less likely to cramp.

To improve your health and become “established in your self,” it doesn’t take a massive overhaul of your life.  Take baby-steps.  Drinking hot lemon water in the morning is an easy thing to add to your daily routine and the benefits are almost immediate.

 

Next up: Full Circle in Floyd.

Go back to Yoga As Therapy: Fascia.

 

 

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