Yoga + Ayurveda Tips for the Summer Season
This post covers tips from the yogic and Ayurvedic traditions on navigating the hot summer months.
The summer season makes me think of fun, hot weather, and plenty of sunshine. It is a mix of smiles and sunburns. This season brings with it heat and a yang quality of energy. According to Ayurveda (the sister science of yoga), to stay balanced during this season we need to do the opposite of the qualities of the summer. Read on for some great tips to stay balanced, happy and full of smiles all summer long.
Eat to Stay Cool
The summer season is obviously the warm/hot season depending on where you reside in the world. As such the last thing you want to do is increase that fiery heat of summer inside your body. Too much heat can lead to irritability and anger to name a few.
To counteract this excess fire, it is recommended to eat foods that have a cooling effect. Things like fruit, salad, raw vegetables, smoothies, and even the occasional trip to the ice cream shop. The idea here is to avoid heating foods and drinks including spicy food in excess. Things to avoid would be soups, coffee, and spicy dishes.
This is not to say you should only eat cold foods and avoid anything hot. Listen to your body to see what is best for it on a given day. If you are already overheated try having something light and refreshing instead of that super spicy Thai dish you just love.
Cooling Movement is Best
You may love a good challenging workout but the summer is a time to take a step back and participate in more cooling activities. This is not to say forgo your hard workouts for the entirety of the summer, simply do less of them during this season.
Yin and Restorative yoga are great to stay centered, grounded, and calm. Yin poses are typically held for a longer period of time to allow the connective tissue time to lengthen. Restorative poses are done with the aid of props to make for a truly restful period.
Time of day is important during this time. Choose either early morning or evening for your movement practice, especially if practicing outside. The middle of the day is the heat of the day and intense movement should be avoided.
Play to Beat the Heat
Do you remember summer time as a kid? I certainly do. Recapture that feeling of being a kid again. Enjoy the fun of the summer months. A time to feel a bit more carefree. Let go of the seriousness of life and embrace all that is around you.
The longer days of light fading into star filled evenings. Camping in the forest and enjoying the sounds of nature all around, including the owl that still creeps you out. Dipping your toes in your favorite body of water and enjoying the coolness that runs up your body, whether it be a creek, stream, lake, or the ocean. Watching the fireflies light up the evening and smiling at the memory of catching them in a jar for a childhood night light.
The key is to get outside and immerse yourself in nature.
Your breath is very powerful. It even has the power to cool you down when necessary. Try this next time you are in the need of a cooldown.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Using your right hand fold your index and middle finger in toward your palm. Close off the right nostril with your right thumb. Breath in through your left nostril. Close off the left nostril with your right ring finger and exhale out of your right nostril by releasing your thumb. Repeat this sequence for several rounds. Always inhaling through the left nostril and exhaling out of your right. When breathing in through the left nostril this is consider the cooling or moon channel. As opposed to breathing in through the right, the heating or sun channel.
Curl your tongue if you have the gene making this possible, otherwise press your teeth together and part your lips away. On the breath in take a breath in either through your curled tongue or your teeth. Exhale through your nose. Do this for several rounds. You should notice an immediate cooling effect from this breathwork.
Stay hydrated. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to stay cool in the summer. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Iced teas, lemonade, and fruit infused water to name a few.
Take a nap in the mid afternoon when it is exceptionally hot. A short rest can do wonders to balance and reset the system.
Try meditation. This is one of the best ways to calm the body and mind. Just a few short minutes a day on a consistent basis can make a difference.