Summer From an Ayurvedic LensMay 28, 2022 10:59PM ● By Nicole Zornitzer
In Ayurvedic medicine we look at the seasonal transitions as an opportunity to balance our constitutions/doshas and increase our sense of internal stability and wellness. Ayurveda, which is the sister science to yoga, encourages us to balance our bodies, minds and spirits as per the environmental fluctuations to create a greater sense of connection with self and live a healthy existence. The human body is affected by seasonal changes and therefore needs to be attended to as we transition through a calendar year and similarly journey through life stages.
The most obvious characteristics of summer are heat, fire, humidity, longer days of bright sun and often imbalances of those who are affected by the elevated temperatures or activities that tend to accompany summertime. These qualities directly relate to the pitta dosha in Ayurveda which is why summer is viewed as a pitta season. Pitta’s earth elements are fire, heat, action and may be viewed from the Eastern perspective as a “type A personality”. While so many of us look forward to summer and the beautiful aspects of it, we must be mindful of how to properly balance the body to avoid dis-ease and overindulgence of a good thing.
The general guidelines for all bodies during summer to keep pitta balanced is to keep relatively cool, engage in moderate activity as to not overheat the body and to ground the body’s energy. It is extremely important to stay hydrated and rise early before the sun and get to sleep early. It is also recommended to exercise early in the morning when the sun’s intensity has not peaked.
Some useful tips to maintain balance are:
- Eat light foods and smaller meals frequently
- Be fully present while eating food to avoid overeating
- Enjoy sweet, bitter and astringent tastes to assist in cooling the internal agni (fire)
- Eat fresh fruits, salads, dairy products such as milk, butter or ghee
- Drink a lot of water and add some mint or lime to further cleanse and cool
- Avoid spicy foods as they will aggravate the agni
Having a personal sadhana practice is important in any season. A sadhana practice encourages us to be on a routine of self-care to create wellness of body and mind. During the summer season, some recommendations when creating your daily sadhana are:
- Use of pitta balancing oils to conduct self-massage such as coconut oil or sunflower oil
- Incorporating cooling essential oils such as jasmine or lavender
- Dress in cool, light colors to reflect the sun
- Shower or bathe prior to bedtime to create a sense of relaxation
Keeping in mind the importance of maintaining a sadhana practice includes a yoga practice to cool the body and help release the natural internal fire that accumulates. Some common yoga asanas that one may enjoy during this season are:
- Cat/Cow to encourage release of fire/heat in the solar plexus
- Twists of any kind
- Child’s Pose
- Moon Salutations
- Avoid hot yoga during the height of the day (12-3pm)
In summary, it is essential for one to maintain balance throughout all months of the year. Ayurveda calls us to become aware of how our bodies are affected by temperature, food and earth’s elements to become present in our experience on earth. When a balance is created, we are taking measures to avoid unrest or dis-ease in the body. Ayurveda and yoga go hand in hand, one cannot exist without the other when we are living an authentic yogic lifestyle.
Nicole Zornitzer, ERYT 1000, yoga therapist, founder of Niyama Yoga & Wellness Shala, located in Randolph, New Jersey; Upper Lake Mohawk in Sparta, New Jersey; Roseland, New Jersey; and Delray Beach in Florida. NiyamaYogaShala.com.