Three Herbs to Cool Your Fire

Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of the summer season. Summer ignites the fire element. The warmth of fire has the power to bring us out of the contraction of the cold dark winter into a state of expansion and joy. We have more energy to accomplish our tasks and more hours of light within which to accomplish them.

Fire is known for its dynamism, transformation and passion, but also gives us the capacity to feel joy, compassion, empathy as well as deep sadness, because only a strong heart can truly feel deep sadness. If we turn again to the natural world, we find nature’s herbal antidotes to the heat of summer.

As we discussed in our recent spring post, one of the first plants that shows up and blooms in our area is violet. Violet is an anti-inflammatory and is particularly helpful for inflammation of the respiratory system, like bronchitis, as well as skin conditions, such as eczema. Violet cools fire by acting as a demulcent which soothes and calms any surface areas that may be irritated or inflamed.

Stellaria Media, or Chickweed, another herb which showed up in the spring and is unfortunately on it’s way out, is also a cooling demulcent, anti-inflammatory and vulnerary (wound healer). Chickweed pacifies the fire in the joints as an anti rheumatic and reduces itching on the skin.

Another beauty that has just started to bloom in Virginia, Calendula officinalis, heralds the bright, vibrant, fiery energy of summer with it’s stunning saffron flowers. But even with this fiery exterior, calendula actually cools tissues which are inflamed both internally and externally. A vulnerary, that is specific for the skin, this useful plant is applied topically as a poultice or salve onto any tissue which is red, tender and oozing. It heals burns, bruises, and sprains, decreases swelling, clears infection, speeds tissue regeneration, and prevents scarring.

Internally, Calendula is specific to the digestive and lymphatic systems. Calendula raises immunity by stimulating lymphatic drainage. The lymph is an essential part of the immune system, filtering and eliminating waste products and bacteria as well as producing infection-fighting cells. Calendula is also a powerful anti-microbial and anti-viral.

Learn more herbal, lifestyle, nutrition and yogic cooling practices in our upcoming Retreat: Yoga to Cool the Spirits – A Restorative Yoga Retreat. 


Blessing for a Mother-To-Be

Yesterday, Union Yoga had the honor of leading a mother-to-be and a small group of her family and friends in a Yin Yoga Pre-natal class and Birth Blessing. The buzz of bees, bird songs, and April air drifted in through the open windows as we remembered our bodies as our original home. To close the practice, we read this poem by John O’Donahue. 

For a Mother-To-Be

    By John O’Donahue

Nothing could have prepared
Your heart to open like this.

From beyond the skies and the stars
This echo arrived inside of you
And started to pulse with life
Each beat a tiny act of growth,
Traversing all our ancient shapes,
On its way home to itself.

Once it began, you were no longer your own.
A new, more courageous you, offering itself
In a new way to a presence you can sense
But you have not seen or known.

It has made you feel alone
In a way you never knew before;
Everyone else sees only from the outside
What you feel and feed
With every fiber of your being.

Never have you traveled farther inward
Where words and thoughts become half-light
unable to reach the fund of brightness
Strengthening inside the night of your womb.

Like some primeval moon,
Your soul brightens
The tides of essence
That flow to your child.

You know your life has changed forever,
For in all the days and years to come,
Distance will never be able to cut you off
From the one you now carry
For nine months under your heart.

May you be blessed with quiet confidence
That destiny will guide you and mind you.

May the emerging spirit of your child
Imbibe encouragement and joy
From the continuous music of your heart,
So that it can grow with ease,
Expectant of wonder and welcome
When its form is fully filled

And it makes it journey out
To see you and settle at last
Relieved and glad in your arms.

– John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings