During the summer season, the elements of Fire and Water (and the Pitta dosha) run high. This is the time when weÂ experience the hot, light, liquid, sharp, oily, and mobile qualities of the season and as the heat waves roll through and our air conditioning isn't quite getting the job done we are more likely to feel irritable, frustrated, angry, impatient, jealous, and short-tempered.
Learning how to cope with seasonal changes is essential. We may develop heartburn, acne, fever, skin rash, foul smelling sweat, headaches, and acidity during the summer season. But . . . summer is a time for celebration! We should rejoice in longer days and the lighter workload instead of fretting over migraines and feelings of irritability. And with Ayurveda, we can learn to understand how to balance the increased Fire element and eliminate the bothersome effects of aggravated Pitta.
Ayurveda means the knowledge of life, and it's through Ayurveda, we understand that there are five states of matter: Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. With the change of seasons, a change in the elements is evident in the environment we inhabit. We see leaves change, flowers bloom, and temperatures rise and fall. As human beings, part of the same ecosystem, we too are greatly influenced by our external environment.
The body must be able to adapt with each changing season to maintain balance. If we fail to adapt, we fail to fully thrive . . . and we may suffer the consequences physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Here are 7 useful tips to help you to keep your cool this summer.
1. Eat a Pitta pacifying diet by favoring sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes.
Nature provides us with cooling fruits in the summer season like watermelons (add mint for a delicious treat!), pomegranates, melons, and berries. Fresh, juicy fruits help to hydrate the body and increase urination and sweat production helping to eliminate excess heat from the system. Vegetables like zucchini, cucumber, and broccoli keep the body nourished with vitamins and minerals; grains like rice and barley give us adequate energy and are easy to digest; and dairy products like ghee and milk are wonderful choices for providing the body with calcium to assist in nerve and muscle contraction. Incorporate cooling herbs and spices into your dishes. Favor mint, cilantro, fennel, cardamom, turmeric, and coriander and limit spices like cayenne pepper, mustard seed, clove, garlic and oregano.
2. Avoid sour, salty, and pungent tastes.
Think twice about fermented foods like pickles and avoid excessive vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, and lemons. Eat lighter meals. Digestive strength is lower in the summer so reduce consumption of meat and eggs as they are both heating and heavy on digestion.
3. Drink up! Staying hydrated can be difficult so get creative, mix it up!
Start your day with 4 oz. of aloe vera juice. Room temperature water is best as ice cold water will disrupt digestion. Drink sweet fruit juices or sip on coconut water. Prepare a drink made with a slice of lime, a spoonful of maple syrup, a bunch of fresh mint leaves, and a pinch of rock salt to maintain electrolyte balance. In the evening, prepare a cup of boiled and then cooled organic milk made with a pinch of cardamom. Enjoy a handful of coconut flakes and a teaspoon of ghee for a sweet treat before bed.
4. Make coconut oil your friend internally and externally.
Before bed, massage the feet and scalp to balance the nervous system, lubricate the tissues, and sooth the mind inducing a sound, peaceful sleep. Cooking with coconut oil heals digestive discomfort associated with excess heat.
5. Exercise in the early morning or in the late evening. Avoid exercise in mid-day sun.
Swimming and water-based sports provide great relief. Enjoy a moonlit stroll to burn off feelings of anger, stress, and frustration.
6. Keep a bottle of rose water spray in your bag.
The eyes are closely related to the fire element and spraying or splashing rose water in your eyes will give immediate relief to burning eyes and temporal headaches.
7. Give hugs . . . spread love.
Giving generously and lovingly helps to balance the sharp, intense, fiery qualities of Pitta dosha. Embrace a sweaty friend, donate to a local charity, perform a random act of kindness, it's good for your health! Eat right and take care, enjoy the sunny days ahead!
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