We love summer with its clear blue skies, longer days of extended sunlight, outdoor activities, swimming, evening walks, bike rides and barbeques. But the intensity of summer can leave us craving cooler days and more comfortable nights. Ritu Charya, seasonal routines, is one of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda, where your dietary choices, habits and routines should ebb and flow with the seasons. Pitta (fire + water) is the energy of transformation, kapha (earth + water) is the energy of grounding and vata (air + space) is the energy of movement. Whatever your personal constitution, summer is the season for pitta. There are things that everyone does naturally to stay cool and calm the pitta energy, such as eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, drinking cool drinks and wearing lighter clothes. But what does Ayurvedic medicine say to do when you feel hot and bothered?
EAT MORE COOLING FOODS
Firstly you want to avoid heating foods such as alcohol, hot spices, fried foods and vinegar. And then to find balance during the hot summer (pitta) days, include more cooling foods in your diet. Eat more vegetables and grains, such as summer squashes, celery, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, basmati rice, quinoa and oats. Herbs and fruits can also cool you down, such as coriander, mint, dill, melons, grapes, berries and stone fruit.
COOL YOUR EXERCISE
Ayurvedic tradition says to adjust your physical activity during summer for optimal balance. Ideally it’s best to exercise early in the morning so you can build heat and cool down again before the day gets too hot. For summer when you’re trying to cool pitta, it’s best to exercise at no more than 50% of your maximum capacity. Focus more on your moon salutations in Yoga, as well as swimming, walking, hiking and cycling.
MASSAGE WITH COOLING HERBAL OILS
Abhyanga, or self-massage, is a cooling practice that is easy and simple. People often think of massage as heating, but if you use a cooling massage oil, it’s different. Cooling essential oils include grapefruit, sweet orange, lavender, rose, sandalwood and mint, which you can apply to a coconut or almond oil base. The self-massage will not only cool your skin but purify as well. Especially good for sensitive skin, it’s ideal for the hot summer months. It also calms and cools the entire system.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
The pitta dosha is fiery, busy and agitated. If you want to balance out that energy within your mind, it can be really beneficial to begin a daily meditation practice. Try cooling your mind by slowing down and paying attention to your breathing. Put on some calming music such as classical music, flute or anything low key. It is also important to balance activity and rest.
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE SUN
Refrain yourself from outdoor activities during the afternoon. When it’s hot and you are outside, protect your skin with a good sunscreen. Avoid being exposed to the sun for an extended period of time. Hydrate yourself before going outdoors and wear light clothes that allow your skin to breathe.