Ayurveda on Jet Lag
Traveling disrupts our biological clock and internal rhythms. Movement, air – conditioned environments, and increased altitude increase Vata (the space and air dosha). Dehydration, sluggish digestion, insomnia, hotheadedness, anxiety, spaciness, jet lag, exhaustion, irritability, disorientation, and constipation all signify a Vata imbalance.
The beauty of Ayurveda is that even if there were no high speed travel five thousand years ago, it has clear understanding how to prevent the jet lag and deal with discomfort if it happens.
Before you leave:
An hour before you leave: Swallow a ginger or cinnamon powder to strengthen agni (digestive fire), improve circulation, and relax the mind.
On the plane:
To keep Vata in balance it is logical to eat Vata pacifying diet before, during, and after the flight. See Food list for Vata.
1) Eat citrus fruits especially limes. Sour taste keeps the colon hydrated and flowing.
2) Ask for orange juice when the flight attendant brings juices between the meals. If needed, drink room temperature water during meals. Moderately hot herbal teas are also good.
3) Ask for wine with your meals on international flights. Three tablespoons of wine increase agni (digestive fire).
4) Eat simple, light foods. No fatty, heavy, or difficult to digest foods.
5) Peanuts and crackers are heavy, drying, and hard to digest and increase vata.
Exercise and meditate on the plane.
Do basic stretching every 3 hours while flying.
Meditate to stay grounded. Sit with your spine straight for 10 minutes observing your thoughts.
After arriving at your destination:
Before going to bed, massage your body, including the scalp and soles of the feet, with comfortably warm sesame oil. Then take a hot bath or shower and go to sleep.
Adapt to the local time immediately. Reset your clock and go to bed and get up at the same time you would at home. Resist the urge to nap; it prolongs jet lag.
Sunlight reduces jet lag. When you reach your destination, go outside and let the sun soak your skin for 20 minutes. Sunbathing resets your body clock to local time and stimulates alertness of the brain.
Keep eating Vata grounding food. Avoid raw foods like salad, dried fruit, and potato chips, and choose warm moist foods such as steamed vegetables, lentils, and warm soups. Kitchari with Ghee is a perfect meal for this occasion because it is nourishing and easy to digest.
Almond milk before bed relieves spaciness, anxiety and other Vata – related imbalances. Blend soaked almonds with one cup of hot milk, a pinch of cardamom and saffron, and a teaspoon of natural brown sugar or honey.
Triphala is the best medicine for constipation. ½ to 1 teaspoon of the powder with a cup of hot water will keep your bowels working properly. See Triphala.
Bath therapy. Take a bath immediately after arriving changing water from cool to pleasantly hot several times. Start with cool and finish with hot water; it will ground the airy Vata.
TODAY’S TIP: I recently had a possibility to use these recommendations when traveling to France. It works. I have experienced much less discomfort than during my previous international trips.