Staying Cool & Calm for Summer with Ayurveda

I have been a casual student of Ayurveda for many years (bought cookbooks, did dosha quizzes, tried some herbs) but in the last two years my interest has really picked up. Bringing in fabulous Ayurvedic teachers like Kimberly Loeb and Savita Young for the teacher training programs has really sparked my enthusiasm for this ancient science and then this spring I did an Ayurvedic cleanse with Certified Anusara Yoga Teacher and Ayurvedic practictioner Cate Stillman. This cleanse was fabulous! I loved it so much I signed up for Cate’s Ayurvedic Living Course which is a one year online learning program for Ayurveda. So though I am by no means an expert on the subject I thought it would be fun to pass on some of the great stuff I’ve learned through my newsletter and this blog. Ayurveda as a science can be very complex, especially when you get to the level of being an Ayurvedic doctor that treats disease and dispenses herbal medicine. But what I love most about this ancient science is it’s focus on kitchen wisdom and the use of common sense daily and seasonal routines as a way of preventing imbalance. Like yoga you can learn the basic guidelines and principles fairly quickly and then the real knowledge comes in putting it into practice in your own life and observing how it affects you. It is an experiental science that can help us to re-discover our own inherent wisdom and intution.
So read on, have fun, and enjoy!
Summer Routines to Keep you Cool, Calm, and Clear:
Summer is considered to be Pitta season, meaning it is governed by the Pitta dosha. Pitta is a mixture of Fire & Water Elements and when it is in balance you will feel focused, vital, joyful, and generous. When Pitta is aggravated however we may feel overheated mentally or physically- think burnout, fiery temper, or hyper critical. We may feel overly acidic and stressed, prone to irritation and inflammation. We may experience skin rashes or breakouts, heartburn, or burning itchy eyes. These are all symptoms of excess heat or fire and if this type of imbalance is not addressed it will lead to further imbalance in the seasons to come.
One of my favourite things Ayurvedic teacher Cate Stillman said recently is that by attuning to the wisdom of one season we become better attuned to the wisdom of the season to come. In other words by making effort to create balanced health in summer we can avoid autumn chest colds and winter heaviness.
So knowing that summer is a season that is ruled by the Fire element than it is important to stay cool in summer whether you live in a hot environment or not. Ayurveda works with the basic premise that like creates like (heat + more heat = too much heat) and opposites balance (heat + cool = balance). Staying cool in summer is especially important if you have a Pitta pre-dominant dosha, (don’t know your dosha? take this quiz), or you live in a seasonal town like Tofino and as a result must work long hours in the summer, or you are in the Pitta season of your life (20-50 years of age). I full under all these categories so am passing on info that has personally worked for me!
The following tips and practices will help ensure you keep cool during this active time and as a result experience summer as a sweet and joyful season.
* eat foods that are cooling in nature such as fresh salad greens, seasonal fruit, and homemade vegetable juices and smoothies
* avoid hot baths- try a cooler shower and a brisk dry brushing session to get your circulation going if you feel chilled
* avoid spicy foods, excess alcohol, and anything deep fried
* drink water and for some colour therapy drink it out of blue or green glass
* swim in lakes and rivers
* walk in the forest (green is soothing and cooling and helps cool fire)
* eat more green food (green foods cool overheated blood which can lead to rashes and skin breakouts)
* get some rest- short afternoon naps are lovely and it if is at all possible try to be in bed by 10pm
* practice cooling postures such as long held forward bends, restorative postures, and inversions such shoulderstand or legs up on the wall
* get active in the cool parts of the day-get up early and walk the beach or do some yoga, or try a later evening yoga class – avoid running or vigorous exercise in the middle of the day
* if you can’t get to bed early then take in some moonlight, moonbaths are excellent for cooling the mind and heart
* meditate or at least create space for stillness and silence each day- being overly active mentally leads to an overheated mind which results in cranky behaviour
* make space in your schedule for play and relaxation
* avoid overworking, and if you can’t do that then don’t try to do everything else as well, too much activity will lead to burnout, which will lead to imbalance
* grow something- play in the dirt and grow something green, gardening is fabulous for body, mind, and soul
These tips were inspired by Cate Stillman, Kim Loeb, Savita Young (, the amazing Ayurvedic cookbook Eat, Taste, Heal, and the wisdom of Maya Tawari.