Ahhh, the summer season. When you think of summer, you probably think of all the things happening in nature—the days getting longer, the hot sun baking the earth, the warm ocean waters calling you for a swim, the green grasses and balmy breezes. What about how summer is manifesting within you?
Ayurveda says that as we are a part of nature and what manifests in the macro does also in the micro. In other words, whatever is happening in nature around you is in some form also happening within your body’s own chemistry. So what signs does this season exhibit within your body?
One of the keys to health in Ayurveda is your agni, or digestive fire. In the blazing heat of the summer, everything in nature seems more delicate and vulnerable. It’s the same with your agni. The digestive capacity is less robust in the summer, and that is why nature provides you with foods that are easier to digest.
You can support your digestion with herbs like cumin and fennel (found in Pitta Digest), and with the foods that naturally grow in summer. You’ll see a lot of greens, like chard and kale, which are lighter than the dense, heavy vegetables of the winter, and which also keep providing a cleansing effect for your liver. (As the seat of pitta, the liver can definitely face some challenges during the summer. Even pitta emotional imbalances like anger and hate take their toll specifically on the liver.) And to balance the bitter greens, the summer season brings sweet fruits and berries, all balancing for the heat of summer, and all light and easy for the digestion.
Mother Nature also provides cooling foods to keep your internal temperature balanced—avocados, cucumbers, and cilantro make for terrific additions to a variety of salads and stir-fries, and can even be enjoyed by themselves as snacks. Cucumber juice or cucumber milk makes for a lovely, refreshing drink.
Here’s the recipe:
- ½–1 cucumber
- ¾ glass of milk (or about ½ glass water for just juice)
- Turbinado sugar (or sweetener of choice) to taste
Blend and enjoy!
In addition to your digestion, how else does summer manifest within you? Just as the earth baked by the sun takes on a reddish hue, your skin becomes more vulnerable to the heat of the season. You may be thinking of sunburns, which you must certainly be cautious about, but even internally, the skin is the place where pitta likes to manifest as it spreads throughout the body.
When pitta becomes imbalanced, which can happen more readily in the summer, the skin may start showing irritations and inflammations, red bumps and acne. If you are prone to these things, try some soothing, cooling herbs like neem, guduchi, and manjistha, all of which can be found in Blood Cleanse, to keep your pitta balanced and your skin healthy. Aloe vera juice can also do the trick both externally and internally.
Of course, the fun of summer largely comes with the longer days and extended hours of light. This allows for afternoon picnics and swims, and evening dinners on the porch. Is there a place for extending the light in your own life? Can you shine a light in some hidden dark corners that have been forgotten? Often, we do this with emotions and experiences that we’d rather not face or process; but putting them in a dark corner doesn’t mean they disappear, and they have a way of popping back up at inopportune times. Shining some rays of light on those dark corners can bring cleansing and renewal.
The extended hours of light can also mean more time and energy for you to spend doing the things you enjoy. The sun is a natural source of energy and is known for its ability to lift the mood and the spirits.1, 2 What will you do with this extra energy that leaves you feeling rejuvenated and uplifted? One possible suggestion is to do a gentle cooling yoga routine that keeps pitta balanced and the heat within in check.
“Deep Summer is when laziness finds respectability.”
Finally, the other creatures on earth take the time in summer to relax and enjoy a slower pace of life to keep from overheating in the sun. The extended hours of sunlight doesn’t mean that you should use them to do more pitta imbalancing activities—those that require you to be driven, ambitious, sharp, and on the go.
Instead, the ancient texts of Ayurveda recommend that in the summer, one should enjoy the cooling shade and beauty of gardens and trees, cool water and the soothing rays of moonlight. Ayurveda also says that to keep pitta balanced, you should enjoy the company of sweet friends, harmonious melodies, and joyous laughter.
So, go ahead, find the summer within you! Enjoy the season and all it has to offer, surrounded by your loved ones and sweet, cooling activities and foods.
1 Lambert, GW, et al. Effect of sunlight and season on serotonin turnover in the brain. The Lancet. December 7, 2002; 360 (9348):1840-1842.
2 Rohan KJ, Roecklein KA, Tierney Lindsey K, et al. A randomized controlled trial of cognitive-behavioral therapy, light therapy, and their combination for seasonal affective disorder. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2007; 75:489-500.