It’s hot outside — like Heath Ledger in a '90s teen romance hot.
Like each of the seasons, Summer arrives with its own distinct personality. Hot, bright and wildly busy, the season of fire naturally turns up the heat in everyone’s life. Because each of us experiences this seasonal heat within our body and mind uniquely, there are various ways that Ayurveda can be useful to us when it comes to staying cool.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, Summer is governed by Pitta Dosha - the physiological energy that regulates our bodies' temperature systems, including: the hypothalamus, skin, sweat glands and blood vessels, as well as the agni (digestive fire). So, it is to these physical places within ourselves we look to protect, support and create balance this season..
Here are 10 Ayurvedic tips
to keep you cool + thriving all Summer long:
1. Exercise in the morning before 10 a.m. or in the evening after 7 p.m. when the day is naturally cooler. It’s OK to mellow on your workouts, too. Add in some restorative yoga classes, replace repetitive cardio with late night dancing, put down the weights and build your biceps on a kayak trip with friends.
For my yogi's - Practice in a moderately cool space, and limit practices in the heat. Since the solar plexus tends to hold heat, favor asanas that massage, strengthen, and wring out the abdominal region such as cat/cow, cobra, boat, side openers, and twists. Set an intention of expending your energy evenly throughout the practice and bring more focus to your exhalations.
2. Favor the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes and relish in cool, liquid, even slightly oily foods, as these balance Pitta. Fruits and veggies such as watermelon, cucumber, coconut, celery, kale and zucchini are great choices. Herbs like cilantro, parsley and coriander add great summer flavor with a belly cooling effect. For my carnivores, opt for more white fish and poultry vs. red meat. Feel free to indulge your sweet tooth with creamy delights such as frozen Greek yogurt with agave nectar and berries. Limit hot, spicy, salty foods and stay mindful of caffeine and alcohol intake as these all increase heat in the digestive tract.
3. Skip harsh skin treatments such as peels or microdermabrasion and cut down your exfoliation routine to keep skin’s natural oils abundant. Use a light daily moisturizer like sunflower or coconut oil on your body and apply a bit to towel dried hair to help lock in needed moisture.
4. Wear light, breathable clothing made of natural fibers like cotton or silk. Favor cool color palette of whites, grays, blues, purples and greens to help counter the heat.
5. Get to know Neem oil — a pungent vegetable oil pressed from the fruit and seeds of India’s neem tree (Azadirachta indica). It's useful as a bug repellent and to treat heat rash.
6. Keep a scarf or sweater in your purse or car for over air-conditioned restaurants or offices. The drastic temperature shifts from inside-out can be challenging on the immune system long term. Having a scarf or sweater on hand will help regulate body heat, keeping you from catching that summer cold.
7. There is an old Zen saying, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you are too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” A humorous reminder that being present to our lives is of the utmost importance. You can give meditation a try or you can leave your phone in the other room for an hour at night. Do whatever feels right to you and work into a rhythm of balancing daily busyness with a practice of presence.
8. Utilize essential oils such as jasmine, sandalwood and rose to help calm an overactive nervous system. Great to keep on hand for post workout cool down support, or use throughout the day to lighten your mental load. Apply a few drops to the third eye, throat and navel.
9. In the evening before bed, wash and dry your feet. Then massage them with a bit of Brahmi oil to ground energy and draw excess body heat down and out.
10. Fall asleep reading a great book instead of watching television this summer. Reading is a wonderful way to calm a mind still fired up after a long day. Engulf your senses, spark your creativity and get lost in a story before you slip into slumber — inviting a deeper kind of rest for your entire being.