Many people look forward to the summer all year long, and who can blame them? The perfect weather, so many social gatherings, and of course, beach time! However, if you’re like us, with everything going on this time of year, self-care tends to take a backseat. Luckily, Ayurveda, the Indian sister science of yoga, offers several self-care practices that can keep us healthy and vibrant as the heat waves roll in.
In Ayurveda, it’s said that each season possess different qualities that influence both the environment and our bodies. Summer is known as pitta season, and is associated with the fire and water elements. As the temperatures rise, so does the element of fire in our bodies. According to Ayurveda, this can lead to things like too much acidity in the body, feelings of anger and frustration, and even health problems like heart burn and skin rashes.
To counteract the potentially harmful effects of pitta season, Ayurveda offers a few tips for bringing about balance by “cooling” both the body and the mind. As a yoga teacher, I have studied and seen how incorporating certain lifestyle changes during each season can influence our physical and mental state for the better. Check out our best tips below.
Eat light, cooling foods.
Hot and spicy foods are said to be aggravating during pitta season. With that in mind, the holistic approach suggests that we balance out the heat of summer with foods that are cooling to the body, like fresh salads, light grains such as quinoa, herbs like cilantro and mint, and sweet fruits like coconuts and berries. Try to avoid eating hot or acidic foods like coffee and caffeinated teas, spices like chili pepper and cayenne, and ginger.
Surround yourself with sweet scents.
Ayurveda suggests that we can use all of the senses to bring our bodies into harmony with the environment. Because of the “sharp” quality of pitta season, sweet scents can help to balance us out and bring calm to the body and mind.
Essential oils are a great tool to use during pitta season. Favor scents like sweet orange, peppermint, lavender, vanilla, sandalwood, and jasmine. To use, diffuse your oils in the air or apply to the skin in the form of a roll on like this one from Up Nature ($10, Amazon).
Make time to de-stress.
As mentioned, the hot quality of pitta season can lead to “hot” feelings in the body, like anger and frustration. During this time of year, it’s especially important to carve time out to practice being calm and grounded.
A daily meditation practice is a great way to slow down in the rush of pitta season. At a time when we’re prone to knee-jerk reactions, meditation helps us to find stillness by slowing down our thoughts so that we may witness the feelings before we react. Anger can manifest in the body as health problems, so having this space can make a world of difference, not only emotionally, but how you feel physically as well.
Don’t work out too hard.
While it’s tempting to rev up your workout routine in the summer months, pitta season is actually a time where our metabolisms are naturally a bit higher. That being said, raising your body temperature too much with intense workouts during the summer months contributes to the over-accumulation of heat in the body, which leads to imbalance.
In the summer, Ayurveda suggests that we favor refreshing activities that aren’t too heating, like swimming, walking in nature, and gentle, invigorating yoga. Rather than moving very quickly, focus on building strength by moving a little more slowly and taking long, deep breaths, which will help cool you down as well as give your nervous system a much-needed rest. Check out our cooling yoga sequence for building strength in the summer!
Ayurveda teaches us how to take what each season has to offer and make the most of it. While it’s easy to feel imbalanced during summer, these lifestyle changes can help you seize the power of pitta energy. When in balance, pitta helps us focus and accomplish our goals, sharpens our minds, and provides us with energy and motivation to see our dreams through to completion.
With that, we’re wishing you a happy, vibrant, and balanced summer!