Summer is here! Just like we change our wardrobe according to the seasons, we also need to think about changing our diet and lifestyle in order to keep ourselves in balance throughout the year!
This is known as “Ritucharya” in Sanskrit!
Ritu = season, Charya = regimen or rituals
Ayurveda has rules regarding diet and lifestyle to adapt & adjust in different seasons in order to maintain homeostasis (a state of balance in the body). The prime principle of Ayurvedic system of medicine is Prevention. This can only be achieved by the change in diet and lifestyle practices in response to change in climatic conditions. After all, we are a microcosm within this huge macrocosm! Even subtle changes in the macrocosm can have a big impact on our microcosm. Most of the lifestyle disorders that are common in the present era, basically originates from lack of following seasonal regimens i.e. Ritucharya.
Let’s talk about the Summer Season….
As per Ayurveda, the qualities of summer are hot, sharp, and penetrating. That’s why pitta dosha—the energy that controls our metabolism tends to flare up when the temperatures rise & can cause us to overheat. Pitta-related imbalances like acne, skin flare-ups, acid reflux, sunburn, hot flashes, exhaustion and diarrhea are common at this time of the year!
Emotionally, excess pitta can manifest as anger, irritability, frustration and impatience. People who have blood pressure issues will notice that their BP is generally on the higher side in summers!
One of the most important rule in Ayurveda, is “Like increases Like and opposites balance”.
Now depending on your constitution, summer may the best season for you or it may aggravate one of your innate pitta tendencies.
If you are a pitta dominant individual, you already have a lot of heat & intensity in your body and mind, you would prefer a cool climate & cool season like winter, isn’t it? You may not like summer at all! And you will need to take extra care to keep your pitta in balance during summer!
On the other hand, someone who is always cold (like a vata dominant individual) will experience exactly the opposite: long, cold winters will be a challenge for Vata, but this person will appreciate the heat of summer!
If you know your constitution (Prakruti), you can take a more personalized look at harmonizing your internal microcosm with the changing seasons.
If you are unsure of your Ayurvedic body type (Prakruti), I would recommend that you take our self-paced online course on knowing your true self – What’s your dosha? A downloadable dosha quiz is included in the course to help you determine your constitution.
Here are some of my General recommendations for Summer – The Pitta Season …..
Your primary focus through the summer months must be to keep pitta in balance by staying cool in terms of diet and lifestyle. This means you need to balance the intensity in your lifestyle with some sort of relaxation and grounding practices as well.
But summer has some distinctly vata characteristics as well, as too much heat can also dry things out, so you’ll also want to stay hydrated, bring in some stability, and balance vata’s natural expansiveness and mobility with quiet & restful activities at times.
The following recommendations are appropriate for most people during the summer. For additional considerations specific to your constitution, CONNECT with us for a personalized assessment!
- Avoid overeating. During the summer, our bodies naturally crave light foods and smaller meals that are easy to digest because our Agni – (Digestive capacity) is low in order to help keep us cool. Therefore, it is important to eat mindfully and enjoy every bite. This will help minimize the risk of overeating. Enjoy the flavor, the texture & the aroma of each bite of the food on your plate!
- Favor the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes during the summer season.
- This is the best time of year to enjoy fresh fruits and salads.
- It is also a great time to indulge in sweet dairy products such as milk, ghee (clarified butter), cottage cheese, fresh homemade yogurt made into sweet lassi (yogurt drink).
- All unrefined sweeteners except honey and molasses are cooling and can be enjoyed in moderation during the summer months.
- Enjoy cool or room temperature water infused with mint or lime and a little raw sugar,
- Enjoy sweet lassi or cooling herbal teas such as peppermint, fennel or rose. Although we crave for ice cubes in all our drinks during summer but as per Ayurveda, it is recommended that iced beverages be avoided as they disturb the digestive fire and create toxins in the body.
- Avoid or reduce the use of aged cheeses, heating vegetables such as carrots, beets, radishes, onions, garlic, ginger, and mustard seeds.
- Avoid sour or unripe fruits.
- Avoid pungent spices like chilies or cayenne pepper altogether.
- Also, keep in mind that raw vegetables (as in salads) will be better digested if they are eaten at lunch, rather than at dinner.
Here are some foods for the summer season…
- Fruits: Apple, pomegranate, melons, coconut, mangoes, cranberries, grapes, lime.
- Vegetables: asparagus, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, celery, cucumber, green beans, kale, lettuce, okra, potato, zucchini.
- Grains: White basmati rice, wheat
- Legume: Mung beans, garbanzo beans.
- Oils: coconut oil, olive oil
- Spices & herbs: cilantro, mint, lime, coriander, fennel.
CONNECT with us to get a full list of foods for the summer season.
There are numerous herbs such as Amalaki, Brahmi, Guduchi, Neem, Shatavari that support the healthy function of pitta that can be especially beneficial during the summer season. But I would recommend that you consult with a licensed ayurvedic practitioner before going for such herbs on your own.
During summer most of us are full of energy, and most people find it easier to rise early in the morning at this time of year. Being in sync with the circadian rhythm is the best thing that can happen to us! This is something we all must strive to achieve!
- Dress in light, breathable clothing made of cotton.
- Favor cool colors like whites, blues and greens.
- Essential oils of rose, jasmine and sandalwood are good fragrances for the summer. Dab one drop of any of these essential oils on your temples, eyebrow center, throat center (at the hollow of the throat), wrists, and belly button. According to subtle ayurvedic principles, your whole aura will be charged with a sweet fragrance that pacifies pitta.
- If you are an outdoor person, you may spend time in nature but avoid the afternoon sun, and when you do go outside, wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the intense sun.
- This is the only season when Ayurveda recommends that a short nap in the afternoon is beneficial.
- It is best to go to bed 10 p.m. or maximum by 11 p.m. to avoid an overly stimulated mind and lying on your right side will activate the lunar pathway in the left nostril, which is calming and cooling.
- Also, be aware that sexual activity, in excess, can provoke pitta and deplete energy, so cultivate moderation in this aspect of your life during the summer months.
- Early morning is the best time for exercise, when the temperature is still cool.
- Exercise creates heat in the body, it is best to avoid exercising during the heat of the day, especially from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
- It’s also important not to push too hard. Ideally, exercise at about 50–70% of your capacity, breathing through your nose the entire time, if you can.
- Gentle yoga is beneficial. Since the solar plexus tends to hold heat, favor asanas that massage and wring out the abdominal region such as in Cobra, Boat and Cat/Cow pose. Child’s Pose, forward Bends and Moon Salutations are also some of the beneficial yoga poses. Always close your practice with a few minutes in Savasana (Corpse Pose) to ground your energy.
The above recommendations for the summer season are appropriate for most people during the summer. For additional considerations specific to your constitution, CONNECT with us for a personalized assessment!
If you are new to Ayurveda and want to know if Ayurveda is right for you, do take our short introductory course on What’s your dosha?
Learn the basics of Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle through our self-paced online course “Basics of Ayurveda”
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M.Sc., R.H.N., Certified Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant
The content provided in my blogs are for knowledge sharing purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.