“Health is the effect of a healthy lifestyle and healthy habits. Disease is like a ‘tree’ sprouted from unhealthy habits (the roots)” – Dr Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Home Remedies
You have the power to change many of the symptoms of physical/mental/emotional distress that show up in your life. Organize your: year, month, week and day for the benefit of your physiology and you’ll be more equip to handle the many stressors of modern living.
One of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda is to shift our habits, routines, and dietary choices alongside the environmental changes of the seasons; balance is maximized when we sync up with the cycles of nature by regularly adjusting our lifestyle habits to accommodate what’s going on outside.
A seasonal routine for summer fosters diet, movement and lifestyle habits that prevent the over-accumulation of summer qualities (pitta dosha). The point is to fully enjoy the unique gifts that summertime has to offer without derailing the balance of your mind, body and emotions.
There are some fairly simple strategies to counter the common imbalances that show up in summer, the underlying concepts add up to:
- Keep cool
- Don’t let your intensity levels get out of hand
- Know when to say when – don’t overextend yourself
- Prioritize relaxation and letting go
- Choose some earthy, grounding activities
What are some of the unsavory symptoms associated with the over-accumulations of pitta dosha?
- Skin irritations or rash, acne, cold sores
- Inflammation showing up as swelling or puffiness in your body
- Acid reflux, gastric or peptic ulcers, heartburn, nausea or loose stools
- A wee bit irritable when ya miss a meal, also known as “hangry” (hunger + anger)
- You’re uncomfortably hot and feeling a little pissy about it
- Emotions of: frustration, anger, irritability, judgment, impatience, criticism & intolerance
- Red, burning, or light-sensitive eyes
- The perfectionist part of your personality has narrowed itself to a hawk’s gaze with talons extended
Recognize the early signs of pitta imbalance and nip them in the bud by changing up your movement, food and self-care routines.
STRATEGIES FOR SUMMER EXERCISE
In general, Summer, with it’s abundance of good weather holds a great opportunity to increase your physicality and activity for the annual cycle. “When” and “how” you exercise is the key.
When: Exercise is heating for your entire system; during the summer it’s best avoided during the heat of the day (10 AM – 2 PM especially). Instead, the cooler mornings are perfect for exercise and outdoor labor; which also helps to bring your overall vibrancy and energy up for the day.
How: In terms of intensity, don’t push too hard; aim to hit 50% – 70% of your capacity. Of course it depends on your goals but in many cases 20 minutes of heart pumping breath centered movement can be enough in terms of “exercise”.
Follow your workouts with a shower and turn the hot water off leaving just the cold to finish. Brrr yes!
After that intersperse as many “movement bursts” as you can throughout your day without overheating in the hot sun: walking, biking, swimming, climbing, crawling, yogaing, playing, dancing, bouncing, gathering food and as many other action verbs that give your body lots of variety.
STRATEGIES FOR SUMMER YOGA
Use your yoga to create a grounded, juicy, gentle, flow; ease up on rigid alignment and intense sequences. Cultivate inner awareness rather than pushing to perform; keep your gaze soft, avoid laser focus, keep your eyes on the horizon rather than looking up.
In terms of pose sequences, think forward bends and standing poses accompanied by stable, easy breathing. Use sidebends, gentle backbends and twists to release the heat that gets stored in the center of the body. Invite an overall focus of relaxed effort; spend plenty of time in Savasana.
STRATEGIES FOR SUMMER EATING
Summer is the ideal time to diversify the plants on your plate. Create your own cool with melons, peaches, plums, berries, cucumber, summer squash, mint, cilantro and loads of greens.
Hit the farmer’s market and search for veggies you’ve never tried; veggie variety means more micro nutrients in your bod within the annual cycle. Discover the wild edible plants growing in your backyard and region, eat those too, they’re packed with nutrients.
During the summer our digestive fire and hunger is less robust. Pay attention to your hunger; it’s is the best sign that your digestive system is ready (or not ready) to receive food. Lighter, smaller meals are easier to digest during the summer.
Heavy foods such as: nuts, grains, pastas, breads, gravies, sauces, thick dressings, stews and meats are best suited for the colder months of the year when digestion is stronger.
STRATEGIES FOR EARTHY LOVIN’ DOWN TIME
Constant output will burn you out before summer’s end. Have you made time for truly rejuvenating leisure?
Whenever possible get out in nature (but not too much time in the blaring sun); bare your feet to the earth, walk in the yard to feel the morning dew, turn your face to the cooling moonlight and soak it in. Hang out in shady forests or by cool streams. Take a dips in the waters wherever you can.
Evenings are a key player in the game of deep rejuvenation; it’s the perfect time to play and move gently with your peeps, to cultivate a practice of love. Use this evening downtime to notice the cues that your body gives you when it’s tired. Resist the urge to rev up or override with food, dessert, alcohol, TV or screens. Just be tired if you’re tired.
Build habits of self-care in the evenings, such as: gentle restorative yoga, meditation, breathing exercises (pranayama). Massage your feet with essential oils of cooling peppermint oil or grounding vetiver, mix essential oils with a carrier oil, like coconut oil, which also has a cooling quality.
After the winding down you’ll be set up for a good night’s sleep. Don’t skimp on sleep in the summer just because the days are longer.
OVER TO YOU
Summer is one season; seeking subtle balance during each individual season adds up to more balance within the annual cycle, which adds up to more balance in this one precious life.
We have the power to change the way we feel and the way we age. When we aim for excellence in wellness our ability to contribute to the world around us in a positive way is increased; our lifestyle choices ripple out.
Yoga is a process of studying yourself and the nature of your body, life, community, environment and how it all fits together within today’s reality, here in 2016. As you gain awareness and respond to your needs your quality of life will evolve towards truth, goodness, beauty and wellbeing.
Change your habits, change your life: start small, start now, stick with it!
I’d love to hear from you; leave a comment to let me know: Is this info helpful? Can you identify with any of the “excess-heat-in-your-body” symptoms? Can you imagine yourself implementing some of these subtle shifts into current routines?