Ayurvedic Suggestions for Summer
This ancient science focuses on the use of seasonal routines as a way of preventing imbalance. Like yoga you can learn the basic guidelines and principles fairly quickly and then the real knowledge comes in putting it into practice in your own life and observing how it affects you. It is an experiential science that can help us to re-discover our own inherent wisdom and intuition.
So read on, have fun, and enjoy!
Summer is considered to be Pitta season, meaning it is governed by the Pitta dosha. Pitta is a mixture of Fire & Water Elements and when it is in balance you will feel focused, vital, joyful, and generous. When Pitta is aggravated however we may feel overheated mentally or physically- think burnout, fiery temper, or hyper critical. We may feel overly acidic and stressed, prone to irritation and inflammation. We may experience skin rashes or breakouts, heartburn, or burning itchy eyes. These are all symptoms of excess heat or fire and if this type of imbalance is not addressed it will lead to further imbalance in the seasons to come.
So knowing that summer is a season that is ruled by the Fire element than it is important to stay cool in summer whether you live in a hot environment or not. Ayurveda works with the basic premise that like creates like (heat + more heat = too much heat) and opposites balance (heat + cool = balance). The following tips and practices will help ensure you keep cool during this active time and as a result experience summer as a sweet and joyful season.
Summer Ayurvedic Diet
- The Ayurvedic tastes of sweet, bitter and astringent all reduce Pitta, as these are found in light and easy to digest foods such as organic milk, mint and coriander herbal teas, and sweet fruits in season such as pears, apricots, grapes, plums, watermelon and sweet berries (not citrus fruits which aggravate Pitta).
- Cold soups, such as cucumber soup, and salads are also good (but avoid salads at supper time when lightly cooked foods are best (i.e. basmati rice with sautéed sprouted mung beans and a green leafy vegetable).
- Avoid dark meats (replace with white meat once a week), tomato, garlic, onions, salty, spicy and sour tastes. Saffron is a very good spice to use in summer cooking as it calms Pitta.
- Minimize alcohol & caffeine as these are both heating and aggravate Pitta. A little white wine or spritzer is OK but avoid heavy spirits and red wine. Increase fluids, especially water but avoid iced drinks which aggravate the digestion.
- Try mixing fresh lime juice with water and a little agave syrup for a delicious and quick still lemonade (1tsp agave or natural sugar + 1 tsp lime juice and a pinch of salt in a pint of room temperature water to sip throughout the day).
- Coconut water is very cooling and healthy. Favor cooling herbal teas with peppermint, licorice, fennel and roses.
Summer Routines to Keep you Cool, Calm, and Clear:
- Avoid hot baths- try a cooler shower and a brisk dry brushing session to get your circulation going if you feel chilled
- Swim in lakes and river
- Walk in the forest (green is soothing and cooling)
- Get some rest—short afternoon naps are lovely and if possible try to be in bed by 10 p.m.
- Practice cooling yoga postures such as long held forward folds, restorative postures, and inversions such as legs up the wall.
- Get up early to enjoy the cool mornings—walk barefoot on the dewy grass. Enjoy moonlit walks in the cooler evenings. Get up early and walk the beach or do some yoga or try a later evening yoga class—avoid running or vigorous exercise in the middle of the day
- If you can’t get to bed early, then take in some moonlight. Moonbaths are excellent for cooling the mind and heart.
- Meditate or at least create space for stillness and silence each day—being overly active mentally leads to an overheated mind which results in crankiness.
- Make space in your schedule for play and relaxation
- Grow something—play in the dirt and grow something green –gardening is fabulous for body, mind and soul
- Upon awakening, do some yoga asanas (postures). The emphasis throughout your practice can be on surrendering, forgiving, softening and being gentle with yourself—a cooling, grounding practice. Avoid being outdoors during the hottest times of the day.
- Practice a daily massage with cooling coconut oil to nourish and clear heat from the skin.
- Wear clothing of light texture and color. Excellent choices would be cotton, linen and silk of white, blue and green. These colors reflect the heat.
- At bedtime, rub the soles of your feet with cooling coconut oil to bring all the heat down to your feet. You can also put coconut oil in your hair for a lovely conditioning treat. Do wear an old pair of socks or hat though. Add a few drops of lavender or sandalwood to your pillow.
- Watch for Pitta emotions such as criticism, irritation and anger. If these arise, a good trick is to hold cool water in the mouth for as long as needed.