An Ayurvedic guide to feeling more balanced this summer
10 ways to counter the heat and why it's not just the temperature outside that gets you hot and bothered.
I was recently walking through a hot, sweaty, crowded Tsim Sha Tsui trying to find a place to have a tea or coffee, maybe a cheeky slice of cake and the sweetness of cool aircon. After an hour of walking around in the heat and not finding anywhere, I could feel myself getting more and more agitated and irritable. Over what was a ridiculous thing to get annoyed about, I was tense, grumpy and snappy.
In the heat of the summer, we see temperatures rising not only outside, but inside our minds and bodies too.
The summer season, according to the science of Ayurveda is represented by the Pitta dosha, which of the five elements, is all about fire, water, heat and ‘transformation’ (especially the digestive system).
Find yourself getting agitated, grumpy and snappy?
In the heat, you may notice that your irritability rises quicker, your temper is shorter and you're just that little bit more competitive. You might even notice you’re having more arguments or conflicts. Physically you might find yourself getting more heartburn or skin outbreaks (rashes, allergic reactions)
Ayurveda science gives us ways in which we can live more in flow with the laws of nature – helping us feel more balanced, manage our energy and bring us into more of our unique natural flow.
According to Ayurveda we each have a unique mind-body type (dosha). As well as living, eating and moving according to our own unique mind-body type, we are also affected by the seasons. Whether your dominant dosha is Vata, Pitta or Kapha (or a combination), it helps to make seasonal adjustments to our routine and habits so we can feel good, live well and be at our best at home and at work.
Pitta is our inner fire.
When Pitta is in balance we're motivated, decisive, assertive, passionate and driven to achieve what we desire. When out of balance we find ourselves getting more agitated, overly competitive, angry, jealous, greedy, we over-work and get short tempered.
If your dominant dosha is already Pitta, it’s especially important to make some adjustments to counter the heat of the summer season. This time of year can feel really busy (the inner and outer fire in action!). Just making a few small adjustments to your habits can help you perform and feel better.
Here's 10 ways you can keep your mind and body cool, calm and in balance this summer, whatever your mind-body type:
Key is not allowing the body to over-heat too much in the summer (sounds intuitive I know, but most of us don’t always listen to what our body actually needs). Combine your usual gym routine with some gentle yoga that soothes the mind and body. Stay close to the earth and do cooling and relaxing yoga poses like butterfly, forward folds, seated twists and lion pose. Enjoy a nice long savasana (corpse pose) and focus on your breath to calm your mind and your heart rate. Do (much!) less hot yoga.
Whether in the gym or a yoga class notice if you’re overly pushing yourself and resist the urge to compare yourself to others (Pitta is all about competing and achieving).
Breathing through the left nostril. Most Eastern wisdoms tell us that the left side of the body is Yin (feminine, changeable, cool) and the right is Yang (masculine, constant, hot) so breathing through the left nostril can be very relaxing and cooling for the system. If you feel hot in bed at night, try turning onto your right side to expose and breathe more through your left nostril to cool and calm the body. That's why we're usually asked to lie on our right side at the end of a yoga class.
Eat cooling foods with sweet, bitter and astringent tastes – think cucumber, asparagus, cauliflower, celery, zucchini, peas, potatoes, avocados, coconuts, sweet melons, pineapples, pomegranate, apples.
Avoid sour foods like vinegar, ketchup and spicy sauces and reduce fried, fatty foods that over burden the digestive system.
Try not to overeat. Overeating causes extra work and extra heat for the digestive system. A classic high Pitta symptom.
Notice when you’re getting agitated over small things and see if you can relax in the moment. When you feel your inner heat rising in a situation, see if you can take a few deep belly breaths to calm the mind and/or walk away and let your system settle.
Walk or swim in the moonlight. The moon's energy can be cooling and relaxing. Try it!
Balance rest, work and activity, build in white space for yourself. Notice when you're creating unnecessary time pressures and deadlines on yourself. When in balance Pitta is
Laugh and have some fun too. Remember the lightness in life.
If you're interested in learning more about your own mind-body type and how it impacts your energy, your well-being, work and personal life, get in touch.
Stay cool. With love.