10 Ayurvedic Tips for Summer
How to have fun in the sun—and keep your the pitta in check with this life-giving summer routine.
Ah…the long, leisurely days of summer. Are you sipping lemonade by the pool? Packing for a picnic? Watching the sunset on the beach? I hope you’re having fun. But beware of summer’s side effects!
According to ayurveda, the qualities of summer are hot, sharp, and penetrating. That’s why our pitta dosha—the subtle energy that controls metabolism and can cause us to overheat—tends to flare up when the temperatures rise. Pitta-related imbalances include sunburn, hot flashes, exhaustion, acne, and diarrhea. Emotionally, excess pitta can manifest as anger, jealousy, and impatience. Sound familiar? Try the following tips to keep your cool all summer long.
Try Ayurvedic Sunbathing
Take a 10-to-15-minute walk at sunrise, when the gentle rays that fall on your face and skin will stimulate sadhaka pitta
Take a 10-to-15-minute walk at sunrise, when the gentle rays that fall on your face and skin will stimulate sadhaka pitta—an energetic principle that, according to ayurveda, is a mood lifter similar to serotonin and melatonin and promotes creativity and joy. Sunlight also helps stimulate the body’s production of vitamin D—a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in calcium absorption, which in turn leads to stronger bones.
Summer’s intense heat saps moisture from plants, the earth, and our bodies. That’s why it’s okay to add an extra pinch of salt in your food in the summer to compensate for sweating and to prevent fatigue. Also, drink at least six 8-ounce cups of water per day.
Eat Cooling Foods
Some of the best pitta-pacifying foods are leafy greens, coconut, cucumber, cantaloupe, and watermelon. The best dairy products are yogurt, milk, and ghee (clarified butter). Garnish salads and other dishes with cooling cilantro, parsley, and alfalfa sprouts, and avoid hot drinks, spicy food, alcohol, caffeine, and chilies.
After showering, mix one teaspoon each of organic, unrefined coconut oil and castor oil in a glass bottle with a cap. Place the bottle in hot water until the oil is lukewarm (not hot!). Apply to your whole body to keep your skin supple, soft, and cool. You can also use this treatment before you swim to protect your skin from salt water or chlorine.
Dab one drop of sandalwood essential oil on your temples, eyebrow center, throat center (at the hollow of the throat), wrists, and belly button. According to subtle ayurvedic principles, your whole aura will be charged with a sweet fragrance that pacifies pitta.
Adjust Your Bedtime Routine
You can go to bed a little later on summer nights, around 11 p.m. when some of the sun’s heat has dissipated. Sleep on your right side to open your left nostril, which corresponds to the ida nadi, the subtle energy channel that corresponds to the cooling moon.
Natural Solutions for Summer Bummers
Rub preservative-free aloe gel on your skin. Or juice a few ounces of fresh cilantro and drink two teaspoons three times a day. Apply the cilantro pulp to your sunburn; it’s cooling and soothing.
Mix together one part each of cumin powder and dried mint, and one-fourth part ginger- root powder. Fill 00-size vegetable capsules with the mixture and take one or two of them an hour before your flight.
Apply equal parts tea tree oil and neem oil (available online) to itchy bug bites. You can also use neem oil as a natural bug repellant.
A Soothing Summer Meditation
For thousands of years, yogis have begun their day with spiritual practices that honor the sun: surya namaskara (sun salutations); surya trataka (a master practice that involves gazing at the sun); and a walk at sunrise to absorb the early morning rays. The sun is the source of all life. That’s why summer is the perfect time to recite the Gayatri mantra, the Vedic song of sunlight, during meditation.
Vasant Lad, BAMS, MASc, is a world-renowned ayurvedic physician from India. He is the founder of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the author of numerous books. For more information, visit www.ayurveda.com.