During Summer our environment becomes hotter, dryer and lighter, the days become longer and we enjoy more activity during daylight hours. Given the fundamental Ayurvedic principle of ‘like increases like’, the corresponding effect of Summer on our bodies is that we can feel hot, sweaty, dehydrated, even ‘hot-headed’ e.g. more easily frustrated, angry, agitated or short-tempered. Any of these things can lead to us feeling out of balance in the Summer heat.
So in order to bring us back into balance during Summer, we need to promote the opposite of these qualities. Instead of hot, sweaty and agitated, we want to promote a cool and calm physical, mental and emotional environment. Here are my top 5 tips I’ve learnt from Ayurveda for a cool, calm and collected Summer:
1. Eat the Right Food for Summer: In a nutshell, you want to increase your intake of foods that have cooling properties and reduce your intake of foods with healing properties.
For a good Ayurvedic Summer diet you should:
- Increase your intake of sweet, bitter, astringent flavours and foods that are light, slightly oily and easy to digest. This includes salads, steamed veggies, rice and seasonal fruit.
- Reduce the amount of spicy, sour, salty and dry foods, e.g. chillies, salsa, dry biscuits, chips, coffee
- As always, eat your main meal at lunchtime for optimal digestion while the sun is its strongest (your digestive fire is also at its strongest).
2. Sip Cooling Summer Drinks: It’s super important to stay hydrated! Drink cool herbal teas that include herbs with cooling properties such as rose, licorice, hibiscus or peppermint. Simply pour freshly boiled water your infusion teabags, cover and steep for 5-10 minutes and refrigerate.
ORGANIC INDIA blends I love to drink cold during Summer are:
- Tulsi Sweet Rose Tea (stress-relieving and magical)
- Tulsi Peppermint Tea (stress-relieving and refreshing)
- Tulsi Licorice Spice Tea (stress-relieving and soothing)
Note: Ayurveda recommends against drinking icy cold drinks, but room temperature and slightly cool drinks are great during Summer.
3. Focus on Cooling Yoga Practices: Adapt your yoga practice to reduce excess heat from the physical, mental and emotional body. Try creating a beautiful practice of cooling, calming poses such as:
- Seated forward bends (such as child’s pose, wide-legged forward bends)
- Lying backbends (such as a gentle Fish pose)
- Seated spinal twists
- Restorative poses (such as Legs up the Wall and extended Savasana)
If you haven’t already, you have to try this:
- Sheetali Pranayama (Cooling Breath). This simple practice really and truly does cool your blood and calm body and mind. Sit in a comfortable position with an upright spine, close your eyes, focus on your natural breathing, then gradually lengthen, slow down and smooth out the breath. Stick out your tongue, curl it into a tube. Breath in slowly through the tongue. To breath out, carefully take the tongue back in, and close the mouth, breathing out through the nose. A perfectly cooling Summer practice.
4. Try a Coconut Oil Massage: Ayurveda is well known for its beautiful warm medicated oil body massages. In Summer, the oils are still warmed, but oils with cooling properties are used. So if you are a fan of using Black Sesame Oil throughout the cooler months (which is warming), try adding increasing amounts of good quality Coconut oil to your massage oil as the days warm up, and then wash off with lukewarm water. Coconut oil is calming and cooling for the body, mind and emotions.
5. Lifestyle: Slow it Down over Summer! I know it’s hard, but try to slow your life down a little. During a Summer heatwave it is especially harsh to be rushing around, running late, feeling over-scheduled and over-worked. Becoming mentally and emotionally overheated only exacerbates our already hot physical environment. Try as many of the following as you can:
- Don’t overschedule or push yourself beyond your limits
- Slow down at every opportunity
- Don’t exercise in the hot sun
- Book a holiday
- Take a moonlit or twilight evening walk (i.e. we are talking a stroll here, not a powerwalk).
Beautiful Summer evening moonlit or twilight strolls are a lovely way to brush off the day, unwind, reconnect with nature, and prepare yourself for sleep. Happy Summer everyone!!