“To see the Summer Sky / Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie / True Poems flee” ~ Emily Dickinson
It’s almost summer!
According to Ayurveda the predominant qualities of summer are hot, sharp and penetrating. Summer can also be intense and dry.
Depending on your unique body-mind constitution you might be very excited for the arrival of summer, or you might find yourself dreading it a bit. Someone who usually experiences cold hands and is often unable to stay warm, will fully welcome the rising temperatures; on the other hand, a hot-natured individual who has more fire qualities will find that summer intensifies their intrinsic hot nature, sometimes to the point of great discomfort.
A basic tenet of Ayurveda is that “like increases like and that opposites balance” - this helps explain why summertime, and any seasonal changes for that matter, will stir us in such different ways.
Regardless of your constitution it is always wise to watch for signs of Pitta aggravation (fire element) during the summer season: hot flushes, sunburn, diarrhea, exhaustion, acne. Emotionally pitta imbalance will manifest as anger, impatience and jealousy.
Keeping it light and simple, here are some Ayurvedic tips that will keep your “heat” in check this summer, both internally and externally.
1. Eat "cooling" foods
Summer is the perfect season to eat more of a raw diet. Leafy greens, sweet and juicy fruits, coconut, cucumber, cantaloupe, watermelon – are all great choices. It’s always best to visit the local farmers markets and pick whatever is in season. Garnish salads and other dishes with cooling cilantro, parsley, and alfalfa sprouts. Avoid or at least consume less hot drinks, spicy food, alcohol and caffeine.
2. Stay Hydrated
Drink at least six 8-ounce cups of water per day. Also it’s okay to add an extra pinch of salt in your food in the summer to compensate for sweating and to prevent fatigue.
3. Move with ease and purpose
It’s best to avoid exercising during the hottest (pitta) part of the day, which is said to be between Noon and 2PM. Avoid intense, strenuous physical activity and, as a rule of thumb, practice at no more than 75% of your capacity. Favor peaceful and relaxing activities - walks in nature, swimming, gentle yoga - to high-intensity cardio. Try focusing more on your meditative activities than working up a sweat.
4. Practice cooling breathing
When you feel overheated either in your body or emotionally, practicing cooling pranayamas (conscious breathing) can be incredibly helpful. Shitali (cooling breath) and left-nostril breathing will calm the mind and reduce excess systemic heat.
5. Personal favorite: rose water
Spritz liberally with!! Rose water is cooling for the mind, the body and emotions; and with a great subtle scent makes for a perfect antidote to overheating!
In closing, this is a short paragraph from one of my beloved teachers Dr Vasant Lad, a world-renowned Ayurvedic physician originally from India. He’s always so sweet and uncomplicated!
“Summer is a Pitta season. The sun is hot and it is important to stay cool both internally and externally. Coconut oil is very cooling - you can apply it on skin as a light protecting moisturizer in the summer. Coconut water is a great cooling drink that will help you stay hydrated. I like to rub coconut oil on the soles of my feet and scalp during the summer and always stay away from a prolonged exposure to the sunlight. By helping your body and mind to stay cool you can help balance your pitta during summer season. Don’t wear very dark, black clothes. Put on white clothes so that they will reflect the light and they will not heat your body.”
Have a wonderful summer!
On the horizon...
Saturday June 19, 4-5:30pm (in person)
Join me for a Summer Solstice practice at the newly opened CloudBreak Yoga in Sausalito! Come experience deep, rhythmic somatic movements followed by a summer pranayama breath practice and a guided meditation.
Sunday June 20, 1-2:30pm (virtual and in person)
Join me in person at SukhaYoga Marin in downtown Novato, or practice with us online from the comfort of your home or sun-filled backyard.
For all June classes and events click here.