Balance is at the root of optimal well-being. From what we eat to how we sleep, our habits significantly impact how balanced (or imbalanced) we are. You’ve likely experienced this, first-hand. For example, if you get a poor night’s sleep, you’ll feel imbalanced the next day. Inadequate sleep impacts your mood, energy, food choices, and more. According to Ayurveda—the ancient science of natural health—living well means being in balance. Meaning, rest will bring you back into alignment after a bad night’s sleep. At any rate, Ayurvedic principles encourage living in flow with our hormones and the seasons. Speaking of the seasons, it’s no surprise that when things heat up in the summer, the key to balance is to find ways to cool down inside. We’re diving into Ayurvedic tips to keep cool this summer.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a natural system of medicine. Originating in India more than 3,000 years ago, Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge). Thus, Ayurveda translates to knowledge of life. To this day, Ayurvedic medicine is widely used for its focus on whole-body healing. According to Ayurveda, an imbalanced dosha leads to poor health and disease. Therefore, opting for food, exercise, and lifestyle habits based on your dosha is believed to promote optimal health and balance. Not sure what your dosha is? Take this quiz!
Summer is pitta season
Summer season is ruled by the pitta dosha. Composed of the elements fire and water, pitta is associated with words like oily, hot, light, and liquid. Think: humidity. In the body, this time of year can express as agitation, low digestive fire, sour stomach, and skin irritations. While some enjoy hot summer days (me!), others literally wilt and groan in the sun. According to Ayurveda, this is partly because of your specific constitution (prakriti) or imbalance (vikrati). With these Ayurvedic tips to keep cool this summer, hopefully you can find more reprieve in the heat.
Disclaimer: Ayurveda one size doesn’t fit all. Consult an Ayurvedic professional for recommendations pertaining to your unique body constitution and imbalance.
Eat to Cool the body
When it comes to Ayurvedic tips to keep cool this summer, let’s start with nutrition. Ayurveda encourages focusing on pitta pacifying foods, hydrating enough, and avoiding hot drinks. Ideally, cut back on spicy, sour, and heating foods (think: fried and processed food), vinegar, and too much alcohol or red meat. Instead, favor astringent, sweet, and bitter tastes. Try cooking in the morning—instead of in a hot kitchen during midday. According to Ayurveda, below are the foods to eat during the summer:
- Light or cool foods, like salads
- Vegetables like leafy greens, summer squashes, cauliflower and cucumber
- Grains like basmati rice, oats, quinoa and barley
- Legumes, like mung beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, and split peas
- Water-rich and sweet fruits, such as melons, grapes, berries, peaches and pears
- Cooling spices, like cilantro, mint, dill, fennel and coriander
- Oils like coconut, avocado oil and ghee
- All unrefined sweeteners in moderation (except honey and molasses)
Last but not least, eat at regular meal times to avoid pitta accumulation (acidity, headaches, heat rashes, inflammation, and irritability). Said differently: keep your blood sugar balanced!
This comes as no surprise. Staying hydrated is key. According to Ayurveda, replace lemon juice (sour) with lime (bitter). Other refreshing drinks include rose water, coconut water, pomegranate juice, and hibiscus-mint herbal tea. Avoid hot water or drinks that are too hot. Lukewarm or cool tea is better than coffee, too. Unfortunately with coffee, it’s heating (even cold brew!), as well as astringent. In a season of heat, sticking with room tempearture tea is better than copious cups of coffee.
avoid excessive heat
Another obvious tip, but it’s worth the reminder: avoid excessive heat. Take cool showers, and limit massages / steaming. Save those self-care luxurious for the winter! If you do get a massage, opt for coconut oil or sunflower oil. If you steam, enjoy a shorter session. If you partake in aromatherapy, try calming, cooling, and sweet oils, like sandalwood, rose, and jasmine. Lastly, wear loose, breathable clothes made of cotton, hemp, or linen. Linen sheets are wonderful this time of year as well. You take things one step further by opting for lighter, pastel shades.
Opt for lower intensity exercise
As with avoiding excess heat, limit strenuous exercise that promotes intense sweating. Exercises like yoga, Tai Chi, swimming, early morning / evening walks, and spending time in nature are all good for slowing down, relaxing, and grounding. Exercise during the cooler time of the day and try an early morning practice of walking on the grass. In the very least, aim to sync your exercise routine with your menstrual cycle.
STart a Meditation practice
Fiery pitta season is the best time to begin a meditation practice. Cooling the temperature of your mind will bring a sense of calm and balance to the body. Given that we have longer daylight in the summer, create a habit of meditating in the early morning. Just a few minutes counts! That said, there are many other ways to turn down the dial of a busy, frazzled mind. Listen to beautiful music, take a walk in nature, or jot down a few things you’re grateful for.
Images courtesy of Unsplash.
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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider.
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