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July 24, 2019

How to use Ayurveda to stay Fit & Cool when the Summer Heat is weighing you Down.

 

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Summer is the time for many things—travel, playing outside, barbecues, social gatherings, and festivals, of course.

But, as temperatures rise, so do our tempers. Studies have shown that crime increases during heatwaves.

Yikes!

Why does this happen?

According to Ayurveda, it’s because summer marks the time of increased pitta, the fire element. From drinking more alcohol to staying in the sun all day, many typical summer activities can mess us up and put us in an icky ayurvedic imbalance.

Fear not, we can still have fun.

Here are some simple tips and tricks to help keep you cool all summer long:

Limit sun exposure. While this is fairly obvious, it’s also good to be reminded. The sun is hot, and hot is also a quality of the pitta dosha. Stay inside during peak sun hours or keep your body covered with long sleeves and a hat.

Add cooling foods or herbs to your water. This is such a wonderful and simple tool for balancing pitta and vāta doshas (especially when you use cucumber, which has soothing, kapha qualities). Some great additions to water include mint, cucumber, lime, spearmint, watermelon, melon, and berries. Avoid using lemon as this is heating and increases pitta rather than counter it.

Reduce or eliminate red meat. Summer is barbecue season, and the irony of this is that large chunks of red meat are notoriously hard to digest. Red meat is also tamasic and increases the dullness of the mind. Eat a Beyond burger instead (while wishing you were an early investor). Favor lighter meats like chicken and fish, or go vegetarian.

Eat lunch later in the day. Your digestive capacity decreases in the summer because your central fire gets pushed outward to allow you to sweat. Ever notice how extreme heat kills your appetite? This is why. Eat your biggest meals when it is a little cooler outside, which is also the time when your central fire has moved back to your core, allowing you to digest your food.

Oil up regularly using sunflower or coconut oil. This will help to balance both pitta and vāta doshas. Sunflower is great for those who tend to run dry, and coconut for those who are a little oilier.

Drink beer. Yes, drink beer instead of having red wine or liquor. Beer has a bitter flavor which serves to balance pitta. See? I told you we wouldn’t take all your fun away.

Wear cooler colors. White is the most balancing and sattvic color and is the coolest color you can wear when it’s hot out. Blues and greens are also great choices. Avoid excess red or black as these only serve to heat you up more.

Practice shītalī and sheetkari pranayamas. Never heard of them? Now you have something fun to research.

Enjoy your summer and remember to have fun and savor the gifts of nature.

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author: Sarah Otto-Combs

Image: Lucas Sankey/Unsplash

Editor: Michelle Gean