Flexibility Tips & Oil Baths

Flexibility Tips & Oil Baths

  • Posted by Kaleigh
  • On June 19, 2018
  • Comments

Summer is here and, in our Shala, we couldn’t be happier! We are observing the sun’s melting effects on our bodies. Our students are easily doing asanas that seemed impossible in the cold winter. 

We have a few tips to share for staying flexible and continuing to shine in your asana practice:

« Don’t crank the AC when you are inside.
« Allow your body to acclimate to the weather.
« Stay super hydrated with plenty of filtered water and electrolytes.
« Eat more fresh organically grown fruits and vegetables. Cook foods less. Below we have shared a delicious Ayurvedic recipe for a summer arugula, watermelon and avocado salad!
« Take time to relax in epsom salt baths a few times a week (not too hot!).
« Keep your innards lubricated with plenty of healthy organic oils or ghee in your daily diet.
« Try an oil bath. In Ashtanga yoga culture, it is common to take an oil bath once a week on “rest day”, the day you take off from asana practice. Coconut oil is cooling and moisturizing and pulls toxins out of your body. You can buy a huge jar of organic coconut oil from Costco for super cheap, it’s also great for cooking! Castor oil is wonderful for a summer oil bath as well. It smells great and has healing benefits. However, it is very sticky so be sure to have some good soap on hand for washing it off after!

OIL BATH

If you use a lot of AC in your house, and you are using coconut oil, you will need to melt the oil. Either way, starting with warm oil is key. You can put about a cupful of oil in a jar, fill your sink with hot water and let the oil liquify and heat in the bottle. 

Here’s how to take your oil bath:

« First shower and wash your body. I love to use a skin brush to exfoliate, these are available at health food stores. I find that I get really itchy if I put the oil directly on dry skin so I turn off the shower but don’t dry off.
« Slather your whole body (hair included) in oil. If you have long hair, it’s best to use coconut oil on your hair because of the stickiness and expense of castor oil. You could still use the castor oil on your scalp though, if that’s the oil you prefer.
« Massage the oil into your body, using circular motion over the joints and long strokes toward the heart on the limbs, neck and torso. Massage your face, ears and scalp. Give yourself a good massage using firm pressure.
« Lie in the empty tub or on some towels for 15-60 minutes and relax. I like to read and/or listen to chill music or a yoga podcast.

« Take a hot shower and clean off the oil. Dr. Bronner’s soap is great for getting off the castor oil but any good soap should do. Wash and condition your hair.
« Towel off gently and apply a natural moisturizer.
« Enjoy some more relaxation as the oil bath should make your feel super chilled out!

Arugula, watermelon, and avocado summer Salad

I love watermelon and love to find ways to eat it every day in the summer. Crisp, sweet, refreshing watermelon. In ancient Egypt watermelon was put in tombs to provide water for the long journey ahead—even King Tut was provisioned with watermelon for the afterlife! For a millennium watermelon has been used as a canteen, of sorts, stored for use in times of drought. The sweetness we know this summer fruit to have was actually bred into it: ancient societies grafted the plants to eliminate their bitterness until, as Mark Twain proclaimed, “To taste watermelon is to taste what angels eat.”

Avocados date back 10,000 years—to the opposite shores of Central and South America. Avocados were once the snack of choice for mammoths, giant land sloths, and the gomphotheres (mammals similar to modern-day elephants). They would swallow them whole and excrete the seeds, which would then be deposited in a completely different locale to grow into trees. Today there are groves and groves of avocados, and we have the luxury of eating them by the tons—although because we are not megafauna (creatures usually the size of a FedEx truck), we have to at least peel and seed them before indulging.

The following recipe is a melange of color and texture, with crisp watermelon, creamy avocado, pungent arugula, succulent heirloom tomatoes, sweet cherries, and just a hint of habanero pepper. It’s my favorite go-to for the hot months of the year.

Ingredients:
« 3 ounces arugula
« ½ watermelon, chopped (about 4 cups)
« 2 just-ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
« 1 heirloom tomato, sliced
« 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and chopped
« 2 ounces feta cheese
« ¼ ounce (or 1 tablespoon) fresh mint, finely chopped
« Juice and zest of 2 limes
« 2 tablespoons olive oil
« Dash habanero powder (or ⅛ teaspoon chopped habanero pepper)

Instructions:
This salad looks like a really pretty layered like a cake. Start with a bed of arugula. Arrange the watermelon on top, then add the avocados, the tomatoes, the cherries, the feta, and the mint. Place the lime juice and zest, the olive oil, and the pepper in a blender (the smaller the carafe the better) and blend to emulsify. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve.
Because of the vividness and contrast of the colors, you can think of this salad as a painting and connect to your inner artist to create any effect that’s calling to you. Whether you layer it vertically or horizontally or toss it into an abstract-expressionist concoction, it’ll dazzle the eyes and delight the taste buds.
Serves 6-8 (depends on how much you keep for just YOU!)

BY SARAH JANE
YOGA DIRECTOR AT THE FRONT CLIMBING CLUB