“Use your senses to balance the fire in your body this summer.”
A sizzling summer is here and like winter it can challenge our constitution according to the dominant elements. The fire element, that is called ‘pitta’ in Ayurveda is active in the summer with the strong rays of the sun and when aggravated can lead to a pitta imbalance. What can happen with the physical body is skin outbreaks/rashes, burning indigestion or diarrhea, red eyes, heat stroke if out in the sun too long and you may experience strong emotions such as anger, frustration and impatience.
One thing to understand about Ayurveda is that like increases like and opposites decrease each other. And we can use the five senses (taste, sight, smell, touch and hearing) as ways to stay nice and cool in the hot summer weather.
During pitta season, eat cooling vegetables like cucumber, zucchini, celery, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower and leafy greens such as kale, chard and spinach. Grains such as basmati rice, quinoa and oats are good. Cooling herbs include: cilantro, dill and mint. Fruits that are good are melons, grapes, berries, peaches and pears. Aloe Vera is also good to take internally to decrease the heat in the body.
Heating foods should be avoided, such as alcohol, fried foods and excess use of spices and hot spices that will aggravate the already lit fire in your digestion. Also drink lots of water, at least 8 glasses per day and avoid soft drinks, loaded with sugar, and instead replace them with coconut water or plain water or try dairy –free, coconut based ‘kefir’.
- Aromatherapy/Natural Herbs
Sweet smelling flowers will cool the home and have a cooling effect on the eyes, for example, roses, jasmine and honeysuckle. Aromatherapy also helps. Sweet aromas to use are rose, jasmine, lavender, chamomile, geranium and ylang-ylang to stay cool and centered this summer.
Rose water is very cooling and you can use a rose hydrosol as a toner on your face, back of the neck and the soles of your feet to instantly cool down. You can also take an aromatherapy bath with a few drops of these essential oils or use them in a diffuser.
Use sweet and relaxing aromas like jasmine, rose, honeysuckle, lavender, chamomile, geranium, and ylang-ylang to stay cool and centered thissummer. Rose water is especially cooling. Use rose hydrosol as a refreshing toner or pick me up—spritz on your face, the back of your neck, and onto the soles of your feet to instantly cool down.
Cooling Spritzer:½ oz. distilled water; ½ oz. rose hydrosol; 6-8 drops jasmine or ylang-ylang essential oil; 4-6 drops lavender or chamomile essential oil. Mix all the ingredients in a glass bottle and shake well. And spray as needed
It helps to wear loose, light, breathable and natural fabrics like cotton, linen and hemp to stay cool. For skin care use natural products that have rose, aloe or cucumber in them. And use a cooling moisturizer like coconut oil. If you are doing any self massage of the body or the feet, use cooler oils like coconut and sunflower during the summer.
- Color/Nature Therapy
We are naturally attracted to certain colors according to the time of year. Cooling colors for the summer months are blues, white and pastels. You can have these colors in your home décor too with pillows, throws, vases etc. And various hues of green plants in the home are cooling to the eyes. And white colors keep the bugs away.
Families love to be by the green-colored rivers and lakes and to enjoy a walk on a green forest trail. Walking in nature is naturally calming, and cooling to the mind and body. Of course, remember to avoid the strong direct sun to prevent a bad sunburn or heat stroke.
Sounds of nature can be refreshing and calming to the body, emotions and mind e.g. gentle summer breeze, birds chirping, babbling brooks and streams. For music, it helps to play soft and calming music, especially harp and flute. Pitta naturally balances with a soft rhythm of music. Mantras can also bring calmness and centeredness.
- Breath Work/Pranayama
Sitali Breath is very calming and cooling for children and parents. See the post of this pranayama on the website this month.
- General Summer Lifestyle Tips
It is good to exercise early, before 10 am in the summer heat or in the evening. Spending time in nature with your family by a river, lake, or hiking in the woods is a great way to relax. Meditating for a few minutes with your children by a quiet pond or lake will be calming and cooling as well.
The one thing to know about ‘Fiery Pitta’ is to do things in moderation to bring calmness and coolness. Enjoy a balanced and happy summer with your family.