The heat of summer is in full swing, at least here in the DMV. From this point forward we must start taking steps to relieve the heat that may be causing havoc to our physical and emotional selves. With an over-abundance of pitta, or the fire element in Ayurveda, we tend to feel irritable, judgmental, critical, quick to anger, and even depressed when things are not being done to our satisfaction. Left unchecked, too much pitta can affect digestion giving us heartburn and loose stools. It can cause skin rashes and acne flare ups, as well as headaches, dizziness and insomnia. Cooling down and staying calm becomes essential during this time of year.
Here are six tips for balancing out the summer heat.
1. Do your exercise during the cool times of the day. Exercising in the heat of the day just makes a bad situation worse. It’s just too much heat for our bodies. You may want to consider doing a lighter form of exercise as well, like power walk instead of run, or slow down your bike ride so you’re never feeling overheated.
2. Avoid spicy foods. Just like you don’t want to add heat to the body with exercise, don’t add heat with food either during this time of the year. You may also want to avoid fried food and grilled food. These methods over-heat our food. Instead stick to food that was “cooked” on the vine, such as fresh salads and juicy fruits.
3. Avoid alcoholic beverages. I know there are many reasons to celebrate in the summer, but find some festive drink recipes that don’t include fire water (alcohol.) Steep sliced cucumbers and muddled mint leaves into your water. Blend watermelon with water for a homemade and super-cooling juice.
4. Spend the evening relaxing. Summer is meant for lazy days. Soak in the pool, read a romance novel, go for a leisurely walk after a light dinner. Do anything that encourages conscious winding down and calm. Keep the mood light and mildly quiet, maybe add soothing music, too. Consider anything that will help you feel calm and relaxed.
5. Try Abhyanga, an Ayurvedic self-massage, with virgin unrefined coconut oil. Abhyanga is a time-tested tool for bring consciousness into the body and practicing self-love. Add the coconut oil, and your skin will feel soft and hydrated in addition to smelling great! While you’re at it, add a teaspoon of coconut oil to your daily diet, too. Extra fats can keep the heat from drying us out, so we use them inside and out. To avoid cross contamination, be sure you keep separate jars for massage vs. to eat.
6. Practice yoga in a way that promotes calm. Practice in a non-goal oriented way, and only work at about 75% of your capacity. This is not the time of year to push yourself. Allow your focus to settle on being calm, effortless, grounded, easy, and comfortable while in each pose. At the end of practice, spend more time on the earth lying in Savasana to balance the fire. Take note after practice by noticing how you feel. Your practice should make you feel calm, cool, and relaxed.
I hope these tips will help you feel great for the rest of the season!