Honoring the Summer Solstice with Ayurveda
The summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is a very significant day of the year and has been celebrated throughout history by many cultures and traditions. The solstice is the longest day of the year—it offers the greatest amount of daylight and is often considered the start of the summer season.
As the sun reaches its peak in the sky above, we too experience a peak in our internal sense of bright, expansive energy.
According to Ayurveda, learning about rtucharya, seasonal changes, is important for living a fulfilled life. It teaches us to track the deeper patterns influencing our health and well-being.
During the summer season, the state of our doshas begins to change in relationship with the elements around us. As we transition out of the cold, wet spring, where kapha dosha was most prevalent, we move into summer, the pitta season, which is defined by long, hot days and warm nights.
At the arrival of summer, we are ideally still supported by the moist, cool qualities of kapha we accumulated in the previous spring season. This bounty of kapha protects us from the intense, fiery pitta qualities of summer. However, the heat that begins to increase during this season tends to aggravate vata dosha due to its light, dry, and rough qualities.
Kapha decreases gradually during the summer season, while vata and pitta increase day by day. Here are some Ayurvedic tips to help honor the summer solstice by cultivating more balance within:
Take Time to Rest
As we go deeper into the summer season, we experience longer and longer days, and our energy is stretched to the fullest.
Ayurveda recommends taking a 20-minute nap during the day to preserve and restore some of your energy. If you can do this between 2–5 p.m., it will help bring balance to vata dosha, which may be contributing to some feelings of instability or flightiness during this time.
Stay Cool with Sensory Therapies
Harnessing the power of scent can bring wonderful support. Jasmine and sandalwood are two fragrances that can help cool the body and mind as we head into this seasonal change. Applying these essential oils to your wrists and behind the ears throughout the day can bring a cooling and grounding sensation to those of us who are more likely to get caught in a frenzy.
Similarly, rose water is a fantastic way to keep cool during the summertime while also awakening and enlivening the senses. As part of your dinacharya, or daily routine, consider spritzing your face and body with rose water—this will reduce heat and dryness while cooling, soothing, and hydrating your skin!
Eat for the Season
Ayurveda recommends eating sweet, light, and moist foods with plenty of healthy fats.
- Choosing to enjoy pitta-balancing foods like coconut oil, avocado, asparagus, barley, basmati rice, dates, summer squash, and cucumbers will be supportive for this time of year.
- Sweet fruits like watermelon, apples, and pears can be nourishing and hydrating on warmer days.
- Be sure to have fruits away from other meals to honor the Ayurvedic principles of proper food combining and support optimal digestion!
- Stay away from oily, fried, and spicy foods.
- Similarly, foods that are particularly heating like tomatoes, garlic, and even alcohol should be limited or avoided during this time.
Eating mindfully and seasonally helps strengthen agni, our digestive fire, so we can experience a clear mind that is able to take in the delights of the summer season!
Make Coconut-Date Shatavari Balls
These simple, easy treats are cooling, hydrating, and delicious and are a fantastic snack during this time of year! The addition of shatavari makes them particularly grounding and balancing for both vata and pitta.
Tap into Solar Energy
This year, the summer solstice falls on Father’s Day. This is a particularly special surprise because surya, or the sun in Vedic thought, can represent the father or the masculine principle within us all. To honor this, consider spending some time journaling about your own unique expression of the masculine archetype.
Here are some journaling prompts to consider:
- What natural energy do you bring to the projects you are working on?
- Do you enjoy being a leader?
- What areas in your life help you to feel strong?
- What is your relationship to responsibility and discipline?
Soak in the Moonlight
One of the ways that Ayurveda helps bring balance to our constitutions is to honor the opposite quality of what is present in our environment. While we move towards the longest day of the year, it can be balancing to spend some time in the moonlight since the cooling energy of the moon will balance the warmth of the sun.
Waking up early in the morning to catch a last glimpse of the moon as the sun rises on the opposite horizon teaches us to honor the natural transitions in our daily lives with grace, ease, and a gentle approach. Similarly, taking a walk in the evening under the moonlight is a beautiful way to connect with the changing light above.
Leaving out a glass of water under the moonlight (especially on a full moon!) and drinking it in the morning will help foster a sense of ease, surrender, and settling for the body, mind, and spirit.
The summer solstice is charged with energy and light—a very potent time to set intentions for the upcoming seasons. Use the suggestions above to deepen your connection to self by strengthening your connection to the natural world. Happy Solstice!