The practice of Ayurveda believes in balancing the different elements that affect our minds and bodies. One of these elements, pitta, is associated with heat. It especially has to do with the body’s metabolism and digestion. In the summer months, it’s easy to get out of balance with an excess of pitta, leading to over-heating, heartburn, and general crankiness. Through centuries of study and observation, Ayurvedic practitioners have developed ways to calm excess pitta and cool the body in the hot summer.
1) Eat Cooling Foods
The sweet fruits of summer can help cool you off. Try fresh cherries, peaches, avocadoes, melons, plums and grapes. Bitter and astringent herbs, like parsley, mint, and cilantro aid digestion. Water-rich vegetables like cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli and green leafy vegetables also help beat the heat and keep you hydrated. Avoid spicy, sour, and salty foods – like cayenne, yogurt, and garlic – which increase your body temperature. And when reaching for a beverage make sure it’s cool, but not icy – too much cold throws your system out of balance and disrupts the digestive process.
2) Cool the Body and the Mind
Activities in hot weather need to reflect the temperature, so swap out intense workouts for a slower, more leisurely pace. Swimming especially balances out fiery pitta. If you can’t get to a pool or body of water, try taking cool showers or baths in the mornings and evenings. If you can, turn down the heat on your pace in the summer, allow for more recreation and less work. Try and take the time to enjoy nature with evening walks. Practice gentle breathing exercises and meditation to soothe the heat of too much mental activity and stress.
3) Grab a Coconut:
In Ayurveda the coconut is appreciated not only for usefulness and deliciousness, but also for its cooling properties. Massaging coconut oil onto your skin is thought to help cool you down, as well as soothing any irritation from sunburn or dehydration. Try it after you get out of the shower or bath in the morning, giving the oil a few minutes to absorb before applying sunscreen. A scalp and foot massage with coconut oil before bed also helps promote a more restful sleep. Drinking coconut water cools and hydrates and also helps replenish electrolytes lost by sweating. Eating young, just-ripe coconuts is thought to be especially good at calming the heat caused by too much pitta and helping you cool down in the summer.