5 Ayurvedic Tips for Keeping (Your) Cool in the Summer Heat
As the summer season is now officially upon us, pool parties, barbeques and beach days are calling our name. However, if you find yourself experiencing a little too much fun in the sun, here are some Ayurvedic tips for keeping cool, and for keeping your cool.
In Ayurveda, there are three bio-energies, or doshas, known as vata, pitta and kapha. These doshas are present in our bodies in varying amounts, with one typically being more dominant than the others. Just as each person has a dominant Ayurvedic dosha, each season also has a particular doshic prominence. Summer is the season of pitta dosha (comprised of the elements of fire and water), and is characterized by the same qualities of heat and intensity. The summer heat can often cause our pitta dosha to go into overdrive, resulting in dehydration, sunburn, inflammation of the skin, and even mental effects of irritability, anger and frustration. In order to counteract the heat of summer, some things we can incorporate are:
1. Eat cooling foods
In Ayurveda, every food has particular gunas, or qualities. Foods that are balancing to pitta are foods with the cooling quality, such as cucumbers, watermelon, pomegranate, leafy greens and aloe juice.
2. Practice Pranayama
Certain pranayama, or breathing exercises are very cooling to the body and calming to the mind. Try shitali breath if you find yourself overheating or getting aggravated. Just a couple minutes of this simple breathing method will help reduce agitation, calm the nervous system and reduce excess heat in the body.
Shitali Breath Instructions: Sit in lotus or cross-legged. Curl the tongue lengthwise like a taco, inhaling through the opening formed by your curled tongue as slowly as you can. At the end of the inhalation, with pull tongue in, close the mouth and exhale slowly through the nose. Repeat for 10 to 14 breaths.
3. Self-massage with aloe vera
One of the best ways to nourish and cool your skin after a long day in the sun is through self-massage (known as abhyanga in Ayurveda) with aloe vera gel. Aloe vera is effective at balancing increased pitta, especially when it is affecting the skin through heat or inflammation.
4. Pitta-balancing yoga postures
Certain yoga asanas are great for their pitta-balancing effect. These include:
- Child’s Pose - Balasana
Child’s pose is great for alleviating stress anxiety and calming the mind and body.
- Bridge Pose - Setu Bandhasana
Bridge pose helps to calms the mind and improve digestion. It can also reduce anxiety and fatigue, as well as headache and insomnia.
Pitta is the regimented, focused dosha, so if you find yourself experiencing fatigue from too much stimulation, set the phone or ipad down, take a break and go on a walk or go for a swim. Your body and mind will thank you.