Beat the Heat: Ayurvedic Tips for Summer
And the rain came pouring down…weeks of dry heat replaced with relative humidity were cause for celebration this week! Even though our summers may not be considered oppressively hot by Midwestern standards, these peak temperatures of July can feel aggravating in a community where we usually opt for vigorous hiking or biking over lounging by the pool.
Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science of holistic medicine, is particularly focused on how the seasons can affect physiological imbalance. Summer, known as “Pitta Season” in Ayurveda, is characterized by the fire and water elements, and can elicit physical and emotional heat, ranging from inflammation and a short temper to hyper acidity and, by the end of summer…total burnout! The good news? The medicine is in the ground and on your plate! Here are a few tips for small changes you can make to your diet this summer that will help you stay fueled and cool all summer long.
Ayurveda suggests reducing spicy, oily and aged foods at this time and adding in these easily available foods and practices to stay cool, calm and energized this summer:
Sweet, juicy fruits: The sweet taste is one of the most pacifying for our bodies in the summer heat, but instead of reaching for the ice cream, stock up on the ripe seasonal berries, cherries and watermelon. Ayurveda doesn’t recommend mixing fruit with other food groups, so enjoy these as breakfast or snacks.
Bitter greens: The bitter taste is also balancing for our bodies when we are governed by the sun, which may explain why we often crack open a cold beer! For a healthier option, you can enjoy leafy greens like kale, radicchio, endive, arugula and dandelion greens mixed into your salads, as well as asparagus on the grill.
Cooling herbs: Cilantro, parsley, fennel, and mint are the number one cooling herbs. These can also be mixed in with your salads, or you can add them to boiled water and allow it to cool for a delicious cooling tea to sip throughout the afternoon.
Coconut: If you’ve been to India, then you’ve seen coconut vendors on every street and corner. Coconut and all its derivatives are perfect for keeping you cool under heat. You can eat the meat, drink coconut water to replenish electrolytes and even give yourself a coconut oil body massage in the morning (finish with a cool shower).
Rose: The scent of rose has been known to bring me back from the brink of rage on a hot day. I like to add a few drops of rose oil to water in a spray bottle and carry it with me for a facial misting during a hot hike. If you get stuck without your spray bottle, just stop and smell the roses.