Tea and Yoga: A Beautiful Connection
“Yoga is the tea ceremony in motion,” Jane London, author www.teabeyondblogspot.ca. London beautifully describes this fluid connection between yoga and tea . In almost every yoga studio across North America, there is one common element: a pot of tea brewing in the lounge. Most studios encourage their students to linger and drink tea both before and after the practice.
Yoga is more than just a series of movements; it’s about a creating a union between your mind, body and spirit. One of the challenges with yoga is learning how to still the mind and focus on the present, leaving the worries of the past and future for another time. Slowly savoring a fragrant cup of tea can help accomplish this.
Tea helps build the connection to ourselves and to those around us. It aids in relaxation, brings us harmony and helps us connect with each other as a family.
According to Nina Navjit Kaur Sidhu , Owner and Director of Tea and Yoga Studio in Ottawa, Ontario, in Indian culture, tea is drank throughout the day, even in the hottest days of summer. “ My mother believed that drinking a cup of hot tea in the summer would cool your body down,” states Sidhu. Part of the reason that tea is seamlessly interlaced into the yoga culture is tradition.
Connect with a Cup of Tea
Sidhu integrates tea into each and every one of her classes adapting this practice from the Kundalini guru, Yogi Bhajan. After each of her classes, Sidhu takes the time to connect with your yoga community and personally serve them a cup of tea. This tea ceremony is part of Sidhu’s celebration of the practice, helping to connect her practitioners to other’s in the yoga community.
“Tea expands on the bonding experience that goes beyond the class,” states Sidhu. “There is definitely a social aspect of tea. When you drink tea, people are encouraged to linger, savor and relax in that moment.”
Jennifer Durand, owner of Tea and Yoga Studio in San Francisco takes the tea connection up a notch by having a weekly tea party. “Visualize a tranquil and serene Asian influenced tea ceremony and you will be very far from the truth of a Tea & Yoga Society gathering, “ states Durand, “it’s more like cowgirls in a Victorian Parlor having a great messy Dickensian tea party with porcelain tea pots, Earl Grey and treats. Sometimes we discuss a yoga sutra that has been on someone’s mind, sometimes we simply connect through easy chatting.”
Enhance Yoga’s Health Benefits with the Perfect Cup of Tea
Yoga Therapist, Cathy Ness, Therametta Yoga, Barrie, Ontario emphasizes choosing teas that will directly enhance the property that you are trying to get out of your yoga practice; whether it’s Chamomile to quiet the mind or ginger to increase energy. “ I think that throughout the rest of the day when you work on your “off the mat” yoga, your choice of tea can influence the benefits of that practice,” states Ness.
“The combined actions of theanine and caffeine found in tea are responsible for the complex and pleasant effects upon the brain. “ states Professor Gary L. Wenk, author of Your Brain on Food. Tea is the perfect beverage to energize you to get into the yoga studio while encouraging you to slow down and focus on the needs of your body.
In 1968, Kundalini guru, Yogi Bhajan brought both yogi tea and Kundalini yoga to North America. The herbs found in yogi tea enhance the health benefits of the yoga practice. The spicier herbs, including cardamom, ginger and black peppercorn form a synergy when combined helping support brain development.
Bhajan believed that tea and fostering community were essential pieces to the yoga practice. Traditionally served with milk and honey, yogi tea follows the principles of Ayurveda, combining the five traditional spices to maximize its overall health benefits on the body.
Additional beneficial properties of yogi tea include:
• Purifying the blood
• Mild stimulant
• Repair and strengthen the nervous system
If you don’t have the ingredients to make yogi tea in your cupboard, don’t fret. Most black, green and white teas have the brain boosting combination of theanine and caffeine that yogi tea promotes.
Additional Herbal infusions that aid with concentration: Gingko Biloba, Rosemary, Sage
Yoga Postures: Salutation Seal (Anjali Mudra), Downward Dog, Tree, Warrior 3
Seeking Relaxation: Drink a Soothing Tea Mixture Before Savasana
Savasana is known as the rest pose in yoga, the main intent of this pose is to calm and center the mind. Typically done at the end of each yoga practice, Savasana gives you the time to relax, meditate and recognize the specific needs of your body and mind.
If you really want to take the relaxation up a notch, try a Nidra class. Nidra yoga is a fairly new technique in the Western yoga community. Sometimes touted as “a power nap” class, the focus of these classes is to reach a deep, meditative state of relaxation. Tea is the perfect beverage to enhance the relaxation process.
Whitney Young, Naturopathic Doctor of the Healing Oasis in Barrie, sees the value of integrating tea into the relaxation portion of a yoga practice.
“Having a cup of tea, choosing it carefully, steeping it with good intention, and concentrating on just the tea alone without any distractions can be very meditative,” states Young. “ Both yoga and tea offer a chance to reflect on oneself and how the body and mind are in that moment.”
Tea Recommendations for Relaxation: oats (avena sativa), hops, lavender, lemon balm, valerian, passionflower, skullcap, vervain
Yoga Posture: Savasana, Child’s Pose and Deep Yogic Breathing
Tea and yoga naturally work well together. The main reasons for embracing a yoga practice mirrors those for drinking tea; relaxation, health benefits, and to socialize. When choosing your next cup of tea, take the time to reflect on your reason for wanting tea at the moment. Make your tea choice a conscience one, and give your body and mind the specific blend that it requires.
“What we experience on our mat can continue throughout the day and be enhanced by choices we make in our daily life including what we drink,” states Ness. “The incredible variety of teas available to us can help us to breathe easier, calm an anxious mind, and energize us. Tea is part of a yoga lifestyle.”