I find the varying degrees to which people can stand the heat in summer to be very interesting. Some people are so happy when it's hot out. "Beautiful weather we are having," "I don't mind the heat," and "I'd take this over cold any day." Others, like me, respond very differently to the same weather. "This heat is miserable." "The heat makes me lose my mind," and "This makes Buffalo winters seem not so bad."
The reason for this wide range of physical responses, according to Ayurveda, is that we are all made up of different proportions of the elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. I happen to have a large proportion of fire already in my body and mind (I am a pitta) so, summer is a time when I have to follow a certain lifestyle and diet to counter the effects of excess heat. If someone with a good amount of fire in their system isn't careful in the summer, they can experience physical issues like hot flashes, diarrhea, and sunburn, and emotions like anger, jealousy, and impatience.
Ayurveda teaches us how to use opposites to maintain balance. Here are some things that we can all do to stay cool this summer:
Eat Cooling Foods
When planning and preparing your meals choose fruits and veggies with sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes. Cucumbers, avocadoes, potatoes, and kale are great veggie choices. Sweet fruits like berries, cherries and melons help balance aggrevated heat. Sweet dairy products like organic raw milk and clarified butter are soothing, as well. Use cooling herbs and spices like dill, mint, and cilantro and skip the spicy peppers, onions, and garlic.
Beauty Routine
Coconut oil is a perfect way to moisterize your skin during the summer months. If it is warm enough the oil will be liquid, but if you are lucky enough to live in an air conditioned house (jealous!) it might become solid. Just bring the oil into the shower with you so that it is liquid when you get out. Coconut oil keeps your skin cool naturally. Add a couple of dabs of sandalwood to the oil or onto your temples after you are moisterized for a soothing aroma throughout the day. Choose a cool shower over a hot one to feel refreshed. Wear light colored clothes in cool shades of blue, green, and white over dark and/or bright colors.
Tone Down Your Exercise Routine
Many of us turn up our exercise routine during the summer months because we feel we have the time and the energy. In fact, that can be dangerous. Take your routine to 80 percent of your capacity and, when possible, refrain from exercising outdoors when the sun is at its highest and hottest. Swimming is a great exercise to choose in the summer, as are yoga and tai chi. However, be sure that the yoga you choose does not add too much extra heat, like hot yoga classes. Walking in the early morning, after dinner, and in the moonlight are also great ways to get moving in the summer without overheating.
Although many love summer, others get very out of balance. Following these three simple ways to stay cool can help you feel better and be better able to enjoy this beautiful season.