In case you haven’t noticed, it’s hot! Across the US we’re experiencing a heat wave; this is the season known in Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine as Late Summer. For many of us the heat can feel both exhausting and irritating. How do we surrender to the heat and support our bodies & minds in so doing?
This is a moment when the Pitta (fire & water) energies are especially high. We don’t want to put out on our internal fire by using ice in our drinks, but rather keep the flames of digestion at a slow and steady burn. Stay hydrated with coconut water, or mint & hibiscus teas. Adding a pinch of Himalayan salt and some fresh lime juice to your water will help your body maintain it’s mineral balance and prevent dehydration.
Eating raw fruits and vegetables will give the body ample carbohydrates that it needs for fuel. Here in Santa Cruz it’s finally tomato and pepper season, and those are great options for cooling and fueling the body. Also consider adding in more cucumbers, broccoli, stone fruits, berries, dates and melon. Steamed veggies, salads, and coconut oil are also great options. Avoid foods that create more heat in the body, such as spicy & sour foods, & anything excessively salty. Focus on foods that are sweet, bitter, and astringent!
The moisture of sweating can actually help to cool the body down, but avoid overly exerting yourself with strenuous exercise or activity, especially in the peak heat hours of the day. If you need to exercise, consider doing gentle stretches such as cat/cow, cobra, & spinal twists. Go for a swim, or wait & take a gentle walk as the air cools off in the evening.
Another great tool to have during these high Pitta times is to fill a 2oz spray bottle with filtered water and 3-5 drops of peppermint essential oil. Keep this in your bag and spray it on your neck and arms to keep you cool throughout the day.
If you start to feel overheated, find a relaxed place to sit or lie down and practice “Chandra Bhedana” or “Left Nostril Breathing.” Close your eyes and block your right nostril with your thumb, taking a slow, deep inhale through your left nostril. When you are ready to exhale use your ring finger to block the left nostril and completely exhale through the right side. Repeat by blocking the right nostril with the thumb once again, take a full deep breath through your left nostril, and block your left side with your ring finger to exhale once again through the right. Repeat this three to five times and notice how your whole body and mind start to cool down and center.
We hope these Ayurvedic tips have been helpful to you in dealing with the intense heat. Remember that these temperature fluctuations can be difficult on everyone, slow down & practice compassion for yourself and others if you start to feel irritable. Reach out to us here at Santa Cruz Ayurveda for a consultation or a massage if you feel like you could use some extra support!