At first, Ayurvedic terminology may seem a little hard to grasp, but once you learn the basics it can be quite easy to understand and apply to your life. Then you can use the age-old wisdom to maintain balance throughout your life's many seasons and transitions.
In applying Ayurvedic principles, one of the first things to learn and remember is that “like increases like.” So, just as you wouldn't turn the heat on in your home in the peak days of summer, it is unwise to increase the heat inside your body when it's already hot outside. Rather you should make simple lifestyle, dietary, and herbal choices, which help you stay cool and calm.
Recently, we shared some specific diet tips to help you beat the summer heat. Now, we invite you to combine those dietary changes with activities that keep you cooler and calmer.
Some of pitta's qualities are hot, penetrating, sharp, and oily—similar to the qualities of summer. So, if we remember the principle of like increases like, we realize that things that are hot, penetrating, sharp, and oily can aggravate the heat in our body and manifest things like heat rashes and other skin irritations. We can remedy this by applying opposites to the qualities of pitta. How? Be sure to engage in a routine and eat foods that possess opposite qualities by making plenty of time for cool, playful, and calm activities. Combine this type of activity with a healthy diet and herbal regimen and you can limit or alleviate conditions caused by excess heat. You will be less prone to heat rashes, skin irritations, and diarrhea. You are also likely to enjoy a dramatic decrease in states of impatience, anger, and intolerance. So, if you have a fiery (pitta) personality or just find yourself aggravated by the heat, notice whether or not you are engaging in enough soothing activities and encouraging a flow of positive thoughts.
Here are some specific Ayurvedic adjustments to help you avoid heat aggravation and maintain a healthier state of balance this summer:
- Get plenty of fresh air by taking nice walks or otherwise engaging in a moderate exercise routine during the cool times of day/night.
- Everyday, just before you shower, indulge in a 15-minute self-massage with Pitta Massage Oil, Sunflower, or Coconut Oil. This will make your skin cooler and less irritable. You'll also enjoy a healthy luster and glow.
- Surround yourself with sweet smells, scenes, and company.
- Listen to soft, peaceful music.
- Meditate or practice personal prayer or reflection, daily.
- Eat foods and spices that are light and naturally cooling like bitter vegetables, coconuts, sweet berries, cilantro, and fennel.
- Limit or avoid foods spiced with chili peppers, cayenne, dried ginger, mustard seeds, and other hot spices.
- Wear light, well-ventilated clothing in cooling colors such as white, blue, and purple.
- Try to be positive and encourage yourself to be patient and tolerant.
- Avoid overly critical or judgmental thoughts.
- If you are having trouble sleeping because you are overheated, try sleeping on your right side as it's often an effective way to cool the system.
- Favor refreshing activities like swimming and a gentle yoga routine.
- Wear sunscreen if you're going to be outdoors as sunburns are especially pitta-aggravating.
- On an otherwise ordinary evening, try basking in the light of the moon for 20 minutes or so. No tan, but it is very cooling, peaceful, and calming.
- Avoid hot tubs or steam rooms; instead go for a cool dip in the pool or swim in a river or the ocean.
- Be sure to take long, slow, deep breaths while you are waiting in traffic or otherwise stuck in the heat of summer.
- If you have a yoga practice, consider replacing sun salutations with moon salutations for the duration of the summer.
- Observe a routine with regular times for rest, relaxation, and play.
- Take pitta-pacifying herbs. Blood Cleanse is particularly good for cooling the blood and limiting skin irritations.
Liver Formula is especially helpful for supporting a sluggish liver and emotions of excess anger and aggression. Pitta Digest is useful for heat related digestive complaints. Amalaki, a key ingredient in Triphala, is a natural anti-oxidant commonly taken in conjunction with Pitta Digest for those with sensitive digestive systems due to heat in the GI tract.
We hope you enjoy the healthiest summer ever and stay cool, calm, and balanced!