Ayurveda To The Rescue: Stay Cool With These Easy Tips
Dr. Bindiya Gandhi is an American Board Family Medicine–certified physician who completed her family medicine training at Georgia Regents University/Medical College of Georgia June 2014. She completed an integrative medicine fellowship at the University of Arizona with Dr. Andrew Weil, and she is also working on her functional medicine training with the Institute of Functional Medicine.
We are all made up of three main constitutions according to Ayurveda: vata, pitta, and kapha.
The goal is to ensure all three constitutions are flowing harmoniously. We are born with one innate constitution, and we have a present constitution. (Figure out which one you're most prone to here.)
When one is more prominent, like pitta is during the summer, it can negatively affect many. Those who have the innate pitta tendency need to be more careful during this season because it can aggravate many ailments including disrupting digestion and increasing inflammation like acne, rashes, and insomnia, making one more fatigued, angry, depressed, and even dizzy.
Try these summer Ayurvedic tips to help keep you chilled and your pitta in check during this blazing, scorching, scalding season:
1. Stay hydrated.
It actually seems counterintuitive but if you want to keep cool this summer, don't drink ice or cold water. Craving cooler beverages is actually due to heightened pitta levels.
Enjoy room-temperature beverages since colder beverages can disrupt your GI tract, worsening reflux and slowing down digestion. Try switching it up and drinking room-temperature sparkling water, cool nettle or spearmint tea, or even some refreshing coconut water.
One of my favorite things to do in the summer is drink water with cucumber, mint, or lemon in it to get added detoxing benefits.
2 Eat cooling, light foods.
Most people tend to eat less in the summer naturally. Your body is not storing food like it does in the winter, so eating lots of salads with lean meats is perfect.
Spicy foods aggravate pitta more in the summer, so try minimizing spicy, sour foods and warming spices like ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Although they have great and various anti-inflammatory properties, they can make inflammation worse in those with pitta constitution due to the searing heat.
Be sure to eat sweet, ripe summer fruits and colorful veggies, which will keep pitta in check.
3. Don't overexercise.
Staying active in the summer is important, but overheating can be dangerous. If you're outside getting your sweat on, be sure to do it early in the morning, before 10 a.m.
The evenings tend to get humid and sweltering, so exercising then can be just as detrimental as during the day. Overexercising and sweating overheats pitta when it's already bothered by the sun. Sweating actually cools the skin, which may be a reason to exercise; however, excessive sweating irritates the skin, making it prone to redness and inflammation.
4. Use your breath.
Slower, deeper, long pranayama breathing will not only relax you but cool you down. I personally like Sheetali breathing for times when I feel overheated.
How to do it: Sit in a comfortable seated posture with your back straight and place your palms on your knees. Roll your tongue on both sides inward making a cylindrical shape.
Inhale fully with your tongue curled up like this counting to 5, holding it for a few breaths, then close your mouth and exhale through your nostrils for a count of 10.
Start off by doing 5 of these a day, working your way to 10 breaths per day.
5. Massage it out.
Stay cool by massaging your skin with soothing coconut and neem oil. They have great antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties as well. Try adding a couple of drops of essential oils like lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus for an even cooler feeling.
6. Try cooling yoga poses.
Do more poses like savasana (corpse or dead man's pose), shoulder stand, and bridge. Savasana is a great way to end your day and get into your meditation practice. It's a great way to release your day and get more centered when pitta's mind is already overstimulated, overactive, and chaotic.
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