Stay Juicy, Feel Satisfied
It’s 8:00 am and I’m sitting in the Richmond, Virginia airport, about to head to out Cincinnati to teach a yoga workshop in one of my favorite states in the country. Amidst the dry heat of the airport, styrofoam coffee cups and the cruel brightness of the overhead halogen lighting, I can’t help but notice that many of my fellow passengers look, well, overburdened. It makes me think of all the cool hard-working women I get to meet on the road. One thing that seems to come up, again and again, is how tired everyone is. It’s like life itself is drying us up and burning us out.
My observation in the airport this morning reminded me of one Sanskrit word we use a lot in yoga — rasa.
“What’s rasa?” you may ask.
Well, it’s a sugary word related to taking the time to stop the whirlwind of life for long enough to recognize its inherent meaningfulness, or perhaps even its sweetness. In English we can approximate the meaning of this word as sap, essence, satisfaction, or a juiciness in the mind/body that brings vitality and delight.
The unctuous concept of rasa seems to address so many of the desires we have as modern women. We all want to feel that we are in tune with our essential vibrancy and purpose. We all want to feel satisfied with our lives. And certainly, I have never met a woman who didn’t want to feel a connection with her own sweetness.
The old-school teachings of yoga and Ayurveda didn’t see the mind and body as separate things, and so they created some super-helpful nutritional and lifestyle techniques that actually helped boost our sense of satisfaction and delight in life in both the physical and soulful realms. As we age, its normal that we begin to lose some of the natural juiciness of youth. The body shrinks, the joints dry and the mind can lose its sharpness as we progress in our lives. And so one of the main practices for staying healthy involved keeping the mind/body machine well-oiled, well-loved and juicy.
And so, for all of you hard-working women out there, here are my top 5 juicy rasa-boosting tips. These are especially helpful for any of you who fly in airplanes, burn away the midnight oil in front of the computer, or run marathons (or just marathon-style hauling kids to practice).
- Breathe deep into your belly. The belly holds some major life-juices. It’s where we digest our food, make babies and access our wise-woman intuition. If life is feeling particularly hectic, make sure to let some really conscious breaths visit this part of your body on a daily basis.
- Oil up. Ancient beauty rituals held body oiling as the most important practice for boosting the feeling of contentment in the woman. And modern science is even proving it today! In fact, a regular 20-minute self massage with an organic oil, like sesame, sunflower, almond, coconut or jojoba, has been shown to boost the feel-good hormones of the body such as oxytocin and DHEA.
- Drink some fennel, fenugreek and/or licorice tea. These are some of my all-time favorite plant foods. Ayurvedic medicine heralds licorice, for example, as the panacea of vitality for women. It helps boost the juicy-factor of the body by reducing the exhaustion that comes from drying up and burning out in life.
- Take a bath with natural nectar. In Ayurveda, women rejuvenated their tired bodies in a bathtub full of natural ingredients. Try mashing together some organic banana, add a splash of milk, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, a dollop of yogurt and a teaspoon of honey. Massage the creamy mixture into your skin and soak in the bathtub for at least 15 minutes.
- Be grateful. The teachings of yoga, and now science, show that having an attitude of gratitude reduces the stress hormones that dry us up and burn us out. Can’t seem to get in the groove of gratitude? Rent the movie Life is Beautiful.