Summer's light filled days inspires free flowing schedules that propel us to connect with others, transform and grow. However when the heat is on, the heat within us increases. Tempers can flare and our skin can get sun burned, bit, scraped and possibly break out into a heat rash. In the heat exercise routines are likely to pause and appetites can decrease during the day. This can make you extremely hungry later in the evening which of course is not the best for your digestion and managing your weight.
A natural way to cure a variety of seasonal ailments is to practice Ayurveda (eye-your-vay-duhh), yoga's sister science. It is a natural medicinal practice from Southern India that says everything that exists in the universe is made up of nature's elements- space, air, fire, water and earth. Different combinations of these elements create the clouds, rocks, flowers, dogs and us. Some people have more space and air within them, they are called vatas. Vatas are light on their feet, super creative and feel chilly most of the time. Their energy is dominant during late autumn through mid winter. Kapha's are late winter and early spring people. They have plenty of earth and water running through them which makes them congested most of the time, able to go with the flow better than most and they are the friends you can always rely on. Thirdly there's the late spring and summer pitta person. Pitta's have plenty of fire and a little water in them. They run hot, thirsty and are super fast people who are at times hot tempered, not very emotional when it comes to other's needs but are great strategists. If you're wondering if it is possible to be a combination of two types, the answer is yes.
Once you understand what elements or combination of elements you're made of, then you can use nature's elements to stay balanced and healthy. Since the basic principle of Ayurveda is like increases like, a pitta person during summer's high temps will feel their best if they perfectly follow Ayurveda's how to stay balanced and cool tips while a vata type who runs cold or a kapha who is nearly always congested can loosely follow these tips.
Here are a few Ayurveda Made Easy Summer Lifestyle Tips. Pitta, fire people pay close attention:
Food: Avoid excess salty and spicy foods such as soy, onions, garlic, red peppers, red meat, tomatoes, alcohol and fermented foods. All of these foods burn the inner body. It is best to save them for a cooler season. I know that tomatoes in the summer are hard to pass up as they are their ripest. Therefore the best thing to do especially if you are a Pitta is to learn how to make sauce this summer and freeze it for the fall/winter when you can use a tomato's heating quality. This summer opt for sweet tasting foods which are carbs like rice, pasta, potatoes, bread and dry cereal. Having a bowl of dry cereal with milk for breakfast is perfectly cooling as well as drying. Sweet fruits and veggies are in season, so enjoy them. Make smoothies, juice or eat fresh berries, peaches, melons, mangoes, cucumbers, mint leaves and green leafy vegetables. When it cools off at dinnertime you can slice eggplant, corn, zucchini, mushrooms and summer squash. Put your sliced veggies into a wok with a little vegetable oil and stir fry for a short amount of time with high heat. Cool, dry and sweet are the food qualities you should reach for to balance your energy in the heat.
Skin: Summer promotes a whole bunch of skin issues. Sun burn, heat bumps, rashes, scrapes and acne. Buy an aloe vera plant, they're easy to keep and whenever your skin needs a little cooling break open a branch and use the gel straight from the plant. Also drinking aloe vera juice where you cool your skin from the inside out works wonders.
Eyes: Summer's bright light makes us squint and strains our eyes. The result can be dry itchy eyes. During the day wear shades and a straw hat outdoors. This will also ease future wrinkling. In the evening soak two cotton balls in milk and place them over closed eyes for about 5 minutes.
Heartburn and End of the Day Belly Bloat: Heartburn attacks worse in the summer. When you combine salsa, chips, hamburgers, ketchup, a pickle and alcohol with the summer's hot sun, be ready to burp and feel the burn in your chest as well as notice the end of the day belly bloat. Drinking milk will instantly ease heartburn. To avoid a burning chest and bloated belly eat plenty of fruit salad, veggies, pasta and potato salad at your next barbecue. Hydrate with minted teas and fruit smoothies. If you must drink alcohol stick to white wine. Add seltzer and make a spritzer.
Exercise: Taking a dip in water and swimming is ideal. Also a bike ride or walk preferably under leafy shady trails in the morning or sunset are great. Avoid exercising outdoors under the noon time sun. Hot bodied pittas should pass on participating in competitive sports and hot yoga. Yoga in a ventilated room is balancing in the summer heat.
Smell: Smells get worse in the heat. Body odor, garbage sitting on the side of the curb and the New Yorker in me must share the smell of dog's urine on the streets is intensified under the hot blazing sun. Carrying a small bottle of summer perfect essential oils such peppermint, jasmine, rose and sandalwood are instantly satisfying and cooling when applied to your wrists, forehead, back of neck and soles of feet.
Stress: The heat easily makes us angry. When things don't go our way our shoulders creep up into our ears and we're fast to honk our horns. To cool our inner boil practice yoga breath exercises. They will instantly ground and calm your energy.
Using our nostrils and noticing our breath is the fastest way to connect our mind and body. This is why aromatherapy works. Unfortunately learning pranayama/breath work needs to be done in person so... perhaps I'll see you in yoga class this summer where I'll be sure to also teach you summer's most balancing postures.
Also my upcoming Saturday July 26th at 4pm workshop "Summer Belly: Finding Ease and Strength" is a core body focused physical yoga practice threaded with summer ayurveda wisdom. Read more about the workshop on my site's sidebar and register @ www.bamboomovesyoga.com in Englewood, NJ.