By Molly Kitchen – http://www.mollykitchen.com/
We are all students of life. Just by the very fact of your existence as a human, you’ve taken on this fundamental studentship, called adhikara in Sanskrit. And it’s obvious to most of us, being a human ain’t always easy! In fact, it can often be quite a challenge to keep a balanced perspective. One way to look at Yoga is to think of it as a practice that helps us surf the wild waves of life with more skill and ease. Through continual asana and meditation practice, we can begin to see our habits and tendencies more clearly and eventually begin to respond more skillfully. To this end, cultivating the quality of patience is incredibly useful. As students of life, we must practice being patient with ourselves, because change and awareness take time and lots of steady effort!
Medicinal herbs are similar to the yoga practice in this way–they act upon on many levels of our consciousness and it can take time to develop a relationship with them. Just as the yoga postures influence not only the physical body but also breath and energy, plant medicines act upon many layers of our awareness. In some ways, this multi-dimensionality is why we don’t get bored doing the same old postures again and again…It is also one reason why using herbs can help create overall balance in the body and mind. This ability to act on many levels of consciousness—physical, mental, spiritual, and energetic—make medicinal herbs and Yoga a perfect pairing for creating vibrant holistic health.
The following are three of my absolute favorite medicinal herbs. Through years of growing them and using them medicinally, I have learned their value as gentle yet powerful teachers (and I am most definitely a lifelong herbalism student!). These plants can be particularly useful for those who “run hot” in general (in Ayurveda, pitta dosha), and are suitable for just about everyone during the warm summer season. They are considered “tonic herbs”, meaning they are suitable for longer term use in proper amounts.
Soothing, calming, sensual and heart-healing, Rose is a powerful ally for men and women alike. Rose’s cooling properties can be extremely beneficial for hot, inflamed or irritated conditions. I love to use rosewater spray on my face as the perfect relief for “too-much-computer-time” syndrome or as a post-workout refresher. Internally, rose shines as a tonic for the heart and the reproductive systems and makes a delightful tea. I recommend steeping rose petals with lemon balm and a little hibiscus, and drinking it cold on hot afternoons.
Many folks have heard of using aloe to relieve sunburn pain and irritation…The great thing is, aloe can also be used internally to soothe and calm our internal tissue in the same way (just be sure to buy preservative-free, food-grade aloe). When taken internally, aloe juice is a superior digestive tonic and mild laxative that cools and heals the digestive tissue lining, tonifies the female reproductive system, rejuvenates the liver and blood, and helps regulate fat and sugar metabolism.
Ginger has been called a “universal medicine” and is considered sattvic (perfectly balanced) in Ayurveda, because it has so many applications and uses. My all-time favorite way to imbibe this delightful rhizome is to add ½ tablespoon or so of dried and powdered ginger to a quart of water, with a generous squeeze of lemon juice, and a little bit of stevia (a plant-based sweetener)…It is the most delicious, refreshing (and healthy!) ginger lemonade. In fact, if you’ve ever met me, chances are you’ve seen me sipping a big mason jar of this stuff! Ginger has a balanced spiciness that works well to rev up the digestive fire but doesn’t overpower you with its heat. Adding ginger tea before or after a meal is an easy way to insure smooth digestion.
Many plant medicines are gentle and generally safe for most folks to use…That said, if you’re new to trying medicinal herbs, do a little research, ask someone who knows more, and really pay attention to how your body and mind respond when you take them. Or better yet, contact me to set up a holistic wellness consultation and I’ll set you up with a specific formula to suit your particular needs!