Staying Cool this Summer
with Ayurveda

Jan 16, 2019

 Ayurveda is an ancient system of healing from India that is often translated as the ‘Science of Life’. Ayurveda draws on nature as a foundation for it’s principles, thereby offering a holistic and natural approach to health, wellness and longevity.

Here are some simple & natural tips on how to stay cool this summer by making small changes in your diet and lifestyle.

 

Foods & Digestion

In Ayurveda, much focus is put on to the foods we eat and how well our digestive system functions. Ayurveda believes that if we have a healthy gut, then we will be more nourished, more energetic and experience less dis-ease. The foods we eat also tend to be either warmer or cooler, and so can be used to regulate our body temperature during the difference seasons

 

Cooling Foods

If you really feel the heat, sweat a lot and get ‘hot and bothered’ in the summer months, then you will do best with cooling foods.

  • Some of the most cooling foods are: cucumber, watermelon, anything coconut, basmati rice, green vegetables & herbs especially coriander, mint and aloe vera.
  • Raw foods will act like an air conditioner for your body. If you often feel hot, digest your food really quickly and are often hungry, then this may be a good option for you in the summer months. You will do well with fresh fruit, vegetables and salads.
  • If you tend to feel full, bloated or tired after eating too much raw salads, then you may do better cooking your foods. Lightly steaming or sautéing on low temperature, seals in the nutrients, makes the food more digestible and won’t overheat you.
  • It may be tempting to go for cold or icy drinks, although this shuts down your digestive system. The best way to hydrate is by opting for fresh or filtered water with a squeeze of lime, a pinch of sea salt, and a teaspoon of natural sweetener such as honey or maple syrup. This remedy acts as a natural electrolyte drink without the expense, the chemicals or the high sugar levels.

 

Foods to Minimise

  • Foods that are excessively oily, fried or BBQ’d will have been cooked on a high temperature and as a result, the food itself will take on these heating properties. Therefore, it is best to avoid cooking food in this way, especially in the summer months.
  • Avoid spicy foods, which contain large amounts of chilli, salt, black pepper, horseradish, wasabi, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
  • Fermented foods are designed to increase your stomach fire and aid digestion, so are perfect for people with a slow or sluggish digestion. However, if you have a strong digestion and fast metabolism, this may be too heating for your body type.
  • Traditionally, alcohol was used as a digestive and in Ayurveda is created with herbs and spices and used medicinally. Therefore, as alcohol increases heat in the body, you may want to keep consumption to a minimum in the summer months.

 

Lifestyle Tips

  • Chose to do your yoga practice or exercise either early morning or late afternoon/early evening. Avoid being outdoors during midday and especially avoid exercising at this time. This sounds very obvious, however, I am often surprised how many people I see exercising in the middle of a hot summer’s day looking, looking extremely red, hot and sweaty.
  • Forward bends are the most cooling of all yoga postures, as well as gentle or supported inversions such as shoulder stand and legs up the wall. Back bends and chest-openers tend to be more heating and invigorating, so if you are already feeling overheated you may want to avoid these postures. Naturally a flowing vinyasa or dynamic yoga practice will increase heat in the body, so it is advised to minimise this type of practice during the summer months if you are experiencing excess heat in the body.
  • Spend time in nature and in natural water sources such as the ocean, rivers and lakes. Not only does this physically cool you down, it also means that you get away from work and the hustle n bussle of your busy life which reduces your mental stress and pressure, which tends to make us ‘hot and bothered’.
  • Massaging your body with coconut oil is very cooling and soothing from the heat or sunburn. If you don’t like oil on your skin, you can try rubbing coconut oil into the top of your head and soles of your feet, leave for 20-30 minutes and then shower off. This will cool down your entire body.
  • Be mindful of angry emotions such as frustration, irritability or impatience. This may indicate that you have an excess of heat in your body, and because heat naturally rises, often it will result in you feeling ‘hot headed’. Conversely, if you are feeling stressed, upset or angry about a situation or incident this can put your into the “fight or flight’ response which increases the heart rate and therefore, sends more blood throughout your body resulting in your body temperature to increase. Long, slow belly breathing can help bring your back to your ‘rest & digest’ state which will slow your heart rate and reduce your body temperature.
  • Most importantly, during the summer months, start noticing if there are foods or activities that make you hotter than usual. Ultimately, Ayurveda believes everyone has a unique constitution that requires an individual approach. So by becoming more familiar with how we each respond to foods, activities, relationships and even our choice of work, we can self-regulate how we eat and live according to our constitution. In this way, we each intuitively know how best to keep ourselves cool, calm and in balance over the summer months.

For more information about this article or Ayurveda, you can contact Emma Grant at

emma@redtentyoga.com.au or 0410 576 267.