The summer season is one of abundance and beauty. It is a joyful time of increased light and warmth, and it’s nature is generous, and extroverted, compared to the chill, dry seasons of fall and winter. It is a time to delight in the rich colours and fresh flavours offered up from the Earth, a time to gather with friends and family, to play outdoors and to savour the long evenings and lazy days.
Summer is a wonderful time of year and yet for many years it has always been the most challenging season for me. Because I live in a seasonal town where summer is the time to work the hardest I would find myself dreading summer because it meant irritable nerves, fatigue, burning eyes, aggravated skin, a short temper, and by August a feeling of burn out. This is because my dominant dosha is Pitta (Fire/Water), and summer is the season when Pitta is highest and is accumulating in nature. So the long bright days, combined with my seasonal time of overworking and its attendant patterns of excess mental stimulation, and excess caffeine consumption, combined to create a perfect storm that would result in imbalance.
Some of the sights of Pitta within the body are the liver, the blood, the skin, and the eyes. Due to excess heat and light in the environment as well as the excess activity of this social season the liver can easily become overheated and aggravated which leads to the blood also becoming overheated and toxic, which leads to rashes, acne, allergies, itchy eyes and skin, inflammation, heartburn and moods of anger or frustration. As I have become more knowledgeable about Ayurveda I have gained some very simple and powerful tools to maintain balance during this busy time of year and I am now able to enjoy the summer season so much more as I understand what types of choices to make in order to stay calm and cool.
In this post I will share some of what I have learned in the hopes that it will support you in making summer a time of radiant health and joyful celebration. If you want to learn more you can also check out my Seasonal Wisdom for Summer online class which includes a 40 minute presentation, yoga practices suggestions, guided meditation, supportive handouts, recipes and simple home remedies.
Summer Is The Time to Chill Out
One of the primary principles of Ayurveda is the idea that Like Increases Like and Opposites Balance. So when the element of Fire is at it’s strongest during the months between May-September we need to take extra care to eat cooling foods and cultivate cooling practices to stay calm and sweet tempered. Some tools for staying cool both inside and out are;
- get up early and exercise in the cooler part of the day
- meditate daily to keep your mind spacious and relaxed
- practice more cooling forward bends and inversions in your yoga practice
- eat as much fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables as you can get your hands on
- drink more liquids, but limit dehydrating liquids like caffeinated iced tea or coffees
- moderate the amount of alcohol you drink- it’s heating!
- avoid deep fried, spicy, and salty foods
- eat bitter greens ( as much as you can) too keep your blood cool and your skin clear
- take short afternoon naps when overtired rather than pushing through with caffeine or sugar
- do restorative yoga poses when you need a break mentally or physically
- get as much time sitting under trees and by cool bodies of water as you can
- if you don’t live near a natural body do a foot bath in cool water each afternoon (it’s so nice!!)
- fill your house with fresh flowers
- massage your skin with cooling coconut oil (add a few drops of Rose or Sandalwood oil for a treat)
- avoid overworking or over exerting yourself, especially during the hours of 10-2pm each day
- don’t rush
- breathe deep and do cooling pranayama practices daily such as Nadi Shodhana
- enjoy quiet and relaxed evenings outdoors with friends and family
- take moonlight walks
- get to bed early most nights of the week so you can avoid being overtired and can get up early to enjoy the day