Summer, like all other seasons, has it's own traits in Ayurveda. Depending on your 'dosha' or constitution, you may experience a sense of ease and harmony in the hot summer months, or on the other hand the heat may throw you off balance, irritate or bog you down. For example, if you are a naturally prone to be hot or overheat easily you may prefer cool weather and you may love the winter, but will feel discomfort as in the intense heat of summer. On the other hand, someone who like me tends to have cold hands and feet and takes a long time to warm up naturally in the winter, will be a challenge by winter temperatures and love the heat of summer. Through small adjustments to diet and routine we can make it easier for yourself to navigate the seasons with a little more equanimity.
Ayurveda teaches that our habits, routines, and dietary choices should be change with the seasons, so that our bodies and mind can adapt to the external environment. In our practice we learn about consistency, discipline, dedication and devotion. To tune ourselves with the cycles of mother nature all we need to do is apply these qualities learned on the mat and make small conscious efforts to study ourselves in our lives with full attention...how we react to the external environment, to the food choices we make, to the type of exercise we practice....then we commit to regularly adjusting our lifestyle and habits to accommodate the each season. This idea may sound like a lot of work, but it more energy to live in a body that is out of balance and struggling to feel at ease in the present moment. When you get in the habit of observing yourself and fine tuning our ability to know ourselves through our practice this process of adjusting comes naturally, all it takes is a few simple changes to increase our health and vitality.
In Ayurveda, like increases like and that opposites balance, it's therefore understandable that summertime affects each of us differently. If you know your constitution, you can take personalized steps to bring your body and mind into a state of harmony and equanimity, then your internal landscape will ease into each season and you will feel energized independently of weather you do well with a season or not.
Summer is heat, long days, bright sun, sharp, intense, dry and fiery which are all qualities directly related with pitta, which is why summer is considered a pitta season. Some climates are exceptionally humid this time of year,but the intense heat is still a dry quality and so still fall under pitta. On a more subtle level, summer is a time of expansion and mobility which are qualities of vata. A good summer routine aims at cultivating habits that will help you prevent over-accumulating these summer traits.
Keep pitta balanced by staying cool, slowing down intense activities, add moments of relaxation, ground your energy, stay hydrated, foster stability through steady routine, and balance 'vata’s natural expansiveness' and mobility with quiet, restful activities. Light foods and small meals that are easy to digest because the digestive fire is a strong source of internal heat. Be present with your meals to help you avoid overeating. Favor sweet, bitter, astringent tastes, cool, liquid, and slightly oily foods. Enjoy fresh fruits and salads. Drink cool or room temperature water infused with mint or lime and a little raw sugar, a sweet lassi, cooling herbal teas such as peppermint, licorice, fennel or rose. Remember that iced drinks disturb the digestive fire and create toxins in the body. Go easy on sour or unripe fruits, aged cheeses, and heating vegetables and spices such as carrots, beets, radishes, onions, garlic, ginger, and mustard seeds. Try to avoid extremely spicy foods like chilies or cayenne pepper altogether. Raw vegetables will be better digested if they are eaten at lunch, rather than at dinner.
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I am no ayurveda expert but my friend Kate O'Donnell is and I highly recommend you check out her work to learn more about this old system of health.