Ayurveda Tips for the Summer
A fundamental principle of Ayurveda is that our habits, routines, and dietary choices should align with the seasons. Ayurveda views the physical body, along with everything in the Universe, as being made up of the five primary elements; earth, water, fire, air, and ether or empty space. These elements are expressed in the physical body as qualities of stability/support (earth), feeling/fluidity (water), heat and metabolism (fire), respiration and circulation (air), and space and lightness (ether).
Characteristics of Summer:
The characteristics of summer are heat, long days of bright sun, and sharp intensity. These are all attributes of pitta dosha which is made of fire and a little water, which is why summer is considered a pitta season. (If you want learn more about the Ayurvedic three dosha theory, go here). Even though some climates are also humid this time of year, the cumulative effect of intense heat is to dry things out, so summer is also considered dry. On a more subtle level, summer is a time of expansion and mobility and so it’s a great time for being outdoors and stepping outdoors.
While there is plenty to enjoy in summer including warm weather, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. When there is to much heat, there is an excess of the pitta dosha. To help create balance, consider one of the classic Ayurvedic sutras that says, “like increases like and opposites balance.” This wisdom can be extremely helpful when considering your diet and activities in each season.
Stay Cool, Calm and Hydrated.
Summer Food tips:
- Flavors: As you move into summer, eat more foods that are sweet, bitter and astringent. Eat less foods that are pungent (spicy), sour and salty.
- Liquids: Drink lots of liquids. Avoid iced drinks and instead enjoy drinks that are cool, room temperature or warm. Water and herbal teas are great choices. Good choices are: mint, chamomile, dandelion, cumin, coriander, and fennel.
- Fruits: Enjoy sweet and astringent in season fruits like apples, berries, grapes, peaches, etc. Eat less sour or citrus fruits. These are best enjoyed in other seasons.
- Vegetables: Enjoy all types of vegetables especially sweet and bitter in season vegetables like greens of all types, cucumbers, celery, zucchini, peas. Go easy on the sour and pungent vegetables like tomatoes and peppers especially if you have a pitta constitution.
- Grains: Enjoy whole grains. Good choices for summer are basmati rice, wild rice and quinoa. Wheat is fine if you can tolerate it well.
- Dairy: If you can tolerate dairy, ghee, fresh cow’s milk and goat’s milk can be suitable for summer. Yogurt is fine. Ice cream is best enjoyed and tolerated on a hot day. When it heats up, go easy on the more cultured dairy as it can be heating.
- Animal protein: If you eat animal protein, be moderate in the summer. Go for the lighter meats (poultry and fish) and limit red meat. Heavier meats are better for fall and winter.
- Spices: Enjoy cooling spices and herbs like cilantro, mint, dill, fennel. Limit the warming and pungent spices like chiles and cayenne.
- Legumes: Legumes are astringent and are a great source of protein for the summer season. Soak legumes and enjoy them well cooked.
- Nuts and seeds: Many nuts are heating, but almonds are good choices and most seeds are also fine. Soaking seeds is better for digestion.
- Coffee and alcohol: It’s best to limit coffee in the summer months as it is heating to the body. The same goes for alcohol.
Lifestyle Tips for Summer
- Wear light colored and light clothing.
- Avoid excessive activity during midday heat as it can be draining.
- Enjoy a walk early in the morning and in the evening.
- Do indoor cooking in the morning before it gets hot.
- Do not skip meals. Enjoy your largest meal at lunch before 2pm. Make it relaxing.
- Eat an earlier, lighter dinner.
- Carve out time each day to rest, rather than push yourself. Get yourself a hammock!
- Spend time in Nature, swim, retreat, and enjoy the moonlight.
- Self Massage with coconut oil.
- Use cooling and calming essential oils such as sandalwood, jasmine or lavender.
- For skin irritations, use aloe.
- Use your hat and sunglasses. Use a natural zinc based sunscreen.
- Aim for EASEFUL LIVING.