The Maine summer days are among us. The temperatures are climbing upwards, the sunshine is vibrant, and the schedules bursting at the seem to fit it all in while the short summer season lasts. As our physical body heats up, and our schedules become more crowded, the temperature and pace of living can become unsustainable.
In the ancient science of Ayurveda (the sister science to yoga), the 5 elements (earth, water, fire, ether, air) provide the building blocks to life; everything on this earth and in the universe is built from these 5 elements. Seasonally, certain elements become more dominant in nature and in our bodies. By recognizing these imbalances in both nature and our bodies, we can lean into a healthier and happier life.
The summer months in Ayurveda are a time of excess heat, humidity, intensity and light, and referred to as the Pitta season. Pitta, when in balance in our beings, can bring us drive, focus, comprehension, healthy appetite, steady hormones, clear rosy skin, to name a few. When Pitta becomes in excess in both our external and internal environment, it can lead towards exhaustion, headaches, rashes, inflammation, upset belly, deep fatigue, anger and even rage.
Perhaps you can relate to the feeling to having to fit it all in, the day is sunny, the summer is short, no stopping until you drop. Sound familiar? Or, have you ever been in an unconditioned car, air temp 100 degrees, no breeze, sun blazing in, all while in a traffic jam when you needed to be somewhere 10 minutes ago!! Maybe just even thinking about it you can feel and sense your stomach knotting, your brain starting to boil, and your anger building? Your life starts to feel out of balance, hectic, and in overwhelm.
When the elements are in balance, nature and our our own bodies work to sustain life. So, how do you bring yourself into balance? Kate O’Donnell, author of The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook states, “Ayurveda manages imbalance by introducing opposite qualities and reducing like qualities.”
In order to help you thrive and be present, healthy, and happy throughout your whole summer, consider welcoming in more balance into your life through actions, food, conversations, and movements that are cooling, neutralizing, and slow to counter the past paced, heated, sharp, and intense summer energy.
Some of my favorite summer time antidotes to simmer excess summer pitta include:
- Ocean plunges or swims, even a cold shower or bath
- Drinking lots of cool water (add in cucumber or mint into the water for a refreshing cooling beverage)
- Creating a schedule that includes downtime
- Abhyanga body massage – lathering my body in coconut oil (this oil has a cooling quality to it and great for the summer months. Check out the oils for sale at Lila – Kaibay summer blend. Not sure what Abhyanga is? Check out Genell’s quick tutorial on how to love up on yourself.
- Stay out of the sun mid-day
- Exercise in the early am or evening when the temps are cooler and the sun is lower in the sky
- Choosing foods that are cooling, non-acidic, bitter, astringent, and sweet. Ripe strawberries, mint, cucumbers, cilantro, parsley, chard, fennel are some of my summer favorite go tos.
- Asana practice on my yoga mat that includes a slow, ease-filled pace, if not restorative or yin practice. A lot of forward folds, gentle twists, floor work, and perhaps ending with legs up the wall. If you are available, join me at the Maine Yoga Fest, on Saturday, July 9th from 1-2:30pm. I am leading an Ayurvedic Inspired Flow. My teaching coupled with the the grounding music of Michael Ayotte and Dave Noyes will sure to leave you feeling more connected, balanced, and at ease.
What are the ways in which you are keeping your cool? What are the ways you can lean into living in sync with Mother Nature and living a life of more balance, health, and vibrancy? Here is to us all stepping into deeper balance for ourselves, each other, and our planet.