The 24 solar terms, based on the sun’s position in the zodiac, were created by farmers in ancient China to guide the agricultural affairs. It reflects the change in seasons throughout the year.
We refer to this season up till the summer solstice as ‘mangzhong,’ or more familiarly known as the season when the planting of the grains is done. (FYI, for us yogis, June 21st in summer solstice is International Yoga Day!)
Early summer rain (called ‘samidare’ in Japanese meaning fifth lunar month rain) is rainy season where life is given to all living things. It also affects us humans in different ways. For example, it is difficult to maintain the water balance within our body due to humidity which results in swelling of the body and melancholy mood.
However, by changing your behavior and perspective, there must be new findings!
One way is to wake up early on your day off and spend some Ayurvedic time for yourself.
You can use massage oil to self-massage your head, ears, and soles of your feet, or bathe in your favorite aromatic oil bath.
Try your tongue cleansing, nose cleansing, and then your eye cleansing!
Yes, eye cleansing (or eye brushing).
Like the famous photographer, Nobuyoshi Araki says, “In the morning when you wake up, go out into the balcony and take (a photo of) the blue sky. Brush your eyes. Like how you brush your teeth every day.”
As for me, I go out into the balcony to water the plants, look up at the sky and “brush” my eyes.
I ‘brush’ my eyes by looking at the golden beams of the sun brighten the sky, how the clouds swift along, and the leaves sway in the gentle breeze. I ‘brush’ my ears by listening to the birds chirping. I ‘brush’ my lungs by breathing in a big deep breath.
Even during this rainy season, you can look up at the clouds in the sky that form these droplets of water. You can enjoy the chilly misty mornings where the scent of the tree barks are fresh, sipping warm water, listening to the melody of the rain.
Then shifting to your asana practice. Time of bliss.
There’s a fine line between rain as being miserable and rain as being beautiful. It all depends on the perception of your mind.
As citizens of this world and nature living in harmony as one, it is important to enjoy the seasonal changes.
This photo (up top) was taken in February of this year when I traveled to Sri Lanka. It’s an ayurvedic massage oil. The lady at the store said, “This oil smells so bad, but it is the perfect oil to do self-massage! I highly recommend it.” It got me worried that there was no sample of this item, but she was so certain and passionate, I had to buy it.
Oh my… it smells SO BAD! lol
That’s why there was no sample at the store. It’s a very mysterious scent.
That lady from the kingdom of Ayurveda mentioned multiple times that it smells bad, and now I know why.
I tried it out anyway. I massaged from head to toe and the next day, I’ve never felt lighter and in better condition!
It’s like this strong herbal medicine smell that even cats run away from.
Like stripping the bark off the trees from deep in the forest and mixing that with algae.
Like the astringent smell of a cat’s pads.
It’s weird, but you’ll get hooked.
If you’re interested and have a chance, please try it out.
The rainy season is about to start. Although it is said that rain is a blessing, it may become a burden for some as it gets very humid and sticky. You start to feel woozy and melancholy as well.
During times like this, I use aroma therapy to refresh myself. The scent has a huge impact on how our body or feelings react. I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite oils for the rainy season.
Essential Oil Recommendations
Rosemary has a very sharp, clean scent. Along with loving the name, it is also one of my favorite essential oils. It heightens concentration and motivation. The wooziness from this season will definitely be eased with this oil.
Tea tree also has a very sharp, clean scent. It is said to have a strong antibacterial effect and can be used for cleaning the kitchen and keeping the bacteria and molds away. We also use it in our studio to clean our yoga mats! When you’re feeling down and low, this oil will help.
Lemon has a citrusy, fruity scent. It has an antiviral, antibacterial effect as well as purifying the air. This aroma will help ease your mind.
How to Use
We have all been acquainted with diffusers and aroma light as they are being sold in a variety of stores these days. By using these items, it will help purify the air in your room and prevent bacteria from spreading. Also, during the rainy season in Japan, we hang-dry our clothes inside the house, welcoming mold to grow. The use of these items and oils will remove the unwanted smell of mold.
No worries if you don’t have diffusers or aroma lights. You can also do the following to enjoy the same benefits:
・Pour hot water in a mug and add a few drops of oil
・Add a few drops in you bath
・Add a few drops on a towel or handkerchief and place it next to your pillow before sleeping
When using aroma oils for massage, always dilute them with carrier oils. Carrier oils are derived from vegetarian sources and have a neutral scent. The concentration of essential oil in this mixture should be less than 1%. Jojoba oil and grapeseed oil are a popular choice usually sold in aroma stores.
Aroma and Yoga
You can also enjoy yoga with aroma. Essential oils are made by extraction of flowers, leaves, resin and peels of these plants. It is a blessing of nature. It’s like a form of perfume that people have been using from long ago.
Not only can scents be physically absorbed through the skin or inhaled into your lungs. You can also breathe in and activate the sense of smell stimulating the nervous system and the brain. The body systems such as autonomic nervous system, endocrine system and immune system are affected though the oils and can result in relaxation and balancing of the hormones.
・Do not use undiluted oils directly on the skin. Always dilute them with carrier oils before applying
・Do not apply directly on skin for pregnant women and small children
・Use up the bottle within one year of opening (or 6 months for citrus oils)
You can enjoy aroma therapy by choosing the essential oil that suits your needs or constitution. By blending the oils, there are infinite ways of relishing it. Try finding your combination that best suits you!
Japanese Book 『Aroma de Fuchou wo Iyasu Hon』（Author Miho Sonoda）Daiwa Shobo Publishing Company