By Dawna Matthews
Do you love summer with the sun radiating above you? I love being outside, dancing in its warmth: I feel as if I am receiving energy from the sun. Others I know can’t wait for winter — the heat seems either to deplete them or to fire them up. When I think of summer, I think of sunlight, long days, heat, and lots of activity. On the other hand, if I do too much, I think of fire; summer is dry and the heat can be intense. I have found that a lovely, simple, seasonal routine will allow me to relish the summer but won’t have me increasing my own body temperature.
Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, teaches us to live in harmony with seasons, to adjust our activities, diet, and lifestyle as each season approaches, so we can minimize discomfort and enjoy what each season has to offer. Each season has its own distinct personality and, depending on your unique makeup, you may be living joyously in harmony with summer’s heat or finding yourself aggravated and uncomfortable as the heat intensifies.
Here are some ways to keep your cool but still cherish what the season has to offer.
1- Hydrate — Stay energized and keep the fire at bay by increasing your intake of liquids such as water, fruit infused waters, or herbal teas. I like to start my day with a glass of water followed by aloe juice (which is very cooling) in my green juice/smoothie de jour. Later in the afternoon, I enjoy limeade or an herbal tea such as peppermint or chamomile. Other great liquids are coconut water, or cucumber or lime in water. Try to have room temperature beverages (without ice), as iced beverages can deplete your energy and disturb the digestive fire.
2- Mellow Activity and Relaxation — Quiet, restful activities such as slow barefoot walks or watching a sunset will help you to stay grounded and foster stability when summer can be hot, dry and windy. Try to do less — intentionally rest, relax, and literally chill out. Plan your activities for the early morning or the evening, especially if you will be outdoors. Be sure to cover up; shade yourself with hats, sunglasses, umbrellas or cooling fabrics; and drink plenty of fluids. Exercise in the early morning. Choose soothing, gentle activities and try not to push too hard — cut the intensity in half. Try swimming, walking and yoga. If you practice yoga, try to clear the center of the body with twists and forward bends, and take slow flow classes. Cultivate a sense of play and relaxation to soften your sharp edges. Laugh, get messy, and enjoy summer. On especially hot days, take a nap to restore your energy.
3- Cooling Foods — Mother Nature provides us with cool foods that we naturally crave at this time. Trust your inner wisdom and eat light, smaller meals which are easier to digest and won’t overextend your energy. Summer is a time to favor the sweet yet cooling foods which are readily available and in season. This is the best time of year to enjoy fresh fruits and salads. Think about cooling foods such as apples, berries, stone fruits, avocados, lime, melons, cucumbers, leafy greens, squashes, mint, cilantro and more. So much can be enjoyed during the summer months.
4- Align with Nature — Summertime is bursting with vibrant energy. Create more alignment with nature by rising and settling down early, as this is a natural and beneficial rhythm to embrace. Watch the sunrise or sunset, and send yourself thoughts of love. Walk barefoot in the grass during the evening and allow yourself to be anchored in the earth. In the evening before bed, wash and dry the feet and massage them with coconut oil to ground your energy and draw the heat down while soothing the mind. Try to go to bed by 10 p.m. Avoid overstimulation by turning off electronics and powering down 30 minutes or more before bedtime. Add some cooling aromatherapy such as sandalwood, rose, or jasmine to the third eye, throat, and heart center to help the body cool down. Restore energy by meditating on cooling images such as water or colors such as blue or green.
All of these tips are super easy and just feel good. If it seems like too much for you, gently add these practices one at a time to your day. Summer is definitely a time for celebration, dance, vibrancy and fun. Be sure to balance this season with grounding activities and these simple ways to stay cool. Follow your intuition; integrate one or more of these steps; stay cool this summer; and maintain your vibrancy as you enjoy the sun.
What are some ways you like to keep your cool while enjoying summer? We would love to hear from you!