Natural Wisdom for Summer Living

“To be one with nature again is vital – it allows inner and outer nature to blend, healing a separation that never existed in the first place.”    Deepak Chopra

Summer is usually a time of improved health and expanded awareness: there are more daylight hours and warmer weather which inspires us to spend more time outside connecting with nature.  Each season brings with it certain positive qualities and certain challenges to our system. As with all Ayurvedic principles we just have to observe nature and notice the change in the qualities of the air, the light, the temperature and the weather so that we intuitively know how to live each moment harmoniously. Just watching and feeling nature is a practice of awareness and meditation.

The fire element increases in the summer: there is more warmth, dryness and lightness.  Hence summer is naturally a time of calming and cooling pitta.

Fire qualities: Light, warm, dry, penetrating, sharp, transformative, subtle, ascending, expansive.

Fire anatomy: Pitta can build up in the digestive system (acid reflux), liver (indigestion), eyes (sensitivity to light), skin (inflammations), joints (arthritis) and heart at this time of year.  Be aware of any imbalances in these parts of your body.

Fire physiology: Sight, digestion, appetite, metabolism, nutrient assimilation and body temperature are all affected by the increased warmth of summer.  Be aware of any changes in these systems of your body.

Psychic fire: Manipura chakra – situated behind the navel at the solar plexus and related to ambition, gain, wealth, achievement, goals, drive, direction, power, thought and counter-thought – this chakra can be stimulated by the natural increase in the solar energy and fire element.  Be aware of mind states that are critical, judgemental, angry and reactive.

Yogic summer: This is a good time to apply the wise teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati by becoming aware of and practicing discernment (viveka) and non-attachment (vairagya). By being more discerning, we are choosing what is best for us and not just following the perpetual likes and dislikes of our mind. By letting go we can start to become free from the pleasure and pain of our experiences and move towards acceptance, an open heart and living in the precious present moment.

Suggested Summer routine:

  • Start your morning with a dash of Aloe Vera juice (50ml) in a class of warm water, this will help to flush heat toxins from your liver.
  • Then massage yourself with room temperature coconut oil which nourishes and clears any heat from your skin. Shower off with luke warm water.
  • Walk or stand with bare feet on a cool dewy lawn for a calming and centred start to your meditation practice or simply to connect with nature’s beauty.
  • Start your yoga practice with some cooling and calming Sheetali pranayama– this is an especially calming and soothing breathing practice where you roll your tongue into a tube then draw the in breath through this tube and breathe out through your nostrils. You can feel the cool air chilling you out!
  • As we have seen pitta can accumulate in your digestive system especially the liver and small intestine. Do some abdominal stretching and twisting exercises to help clear pitta from your belly. Try Trikonasna (triangle series), Bhujangasana (cobra), Matsyanasna (fish), Matsyendrasana (twist), Ushtrasana (camel) to massage pitta out of the intestines. As pitta can also accumulate in the eyes, via the liver, try doing a range of eye exercises to relax the eyes and increase circulation that can carry away any excess heat.
  • If you are already a bit of a pitta prone person (hot-headed!) it is important to not do too many inverted poses as these bring heat up into your head.
  • After yoga anoint yourself with some fragrant sandalwood or rose oil. Place a drop on your third eye, throat and navel to keep these centres of awareness cool, calm and collected.
  • Your diet in the summer can consist of sweet (grains), bitter (salads/leafy greens), astringent (pulses) flavours and be light and easy to digest.
  • A light nourishing breakfast of a fruit, seed and nut smoothie will sustain your energy levels through the morning.  Add a pinch of saffron for flavour and cooling energy.
  • Eating lunch around noon when the sun is at its zenith is best. Try kicharee as a cooling nutritive meal.  Add a teaspoon of ghee or hemp seed oil at the end with some grated fresh coconut. Eat it with cucumber raita as a delicious condiment.  Green salad is ok at lunchtime.
  • For supper have a light meal of basmati rice, sprouted mung beans and green leafy vegetables.  Best to avoid salad at night as it will aggravte vata.
  • In the summer it is best to also avoid all dark meats such as beef, lamb and pork as well as citrus fruits, tomato, garlic, onion, salt and sour dairy products as these all increase pitta.
  • A good way of flushing pitta out of the body is via the bowel; Ayurveda recommends Amla herbal remedy as a mild laxative.
  • When you are thirst try drinking cool herbal teas of peppermint, licorice, fennel and chamomile.
  • It’s important to watch out for pitta?emotions arising such as criticism, being judgmental, irritation and anger. If you feel a bit ‘hot under your collar’ a good trick is to hold a glass of water in your mouth as the water cools your pitta and keeps you quiet!
  • Before you go to bed, especially if it has been a hot day, rub the soles of your feet with coconut or castor oil to bring all the heat down to your feet.
  • Wash your face in organic rose water and spray it in your bedroom. It is helpful to fill your home and bedroom with fragrant roses and jasmine in the summer.
  • Best to go to bed before 11pm as pitta peaks at around 12 midnight.  If you sleep on your right side then ida nadi in the left nostril is activated and guarantees you a blissful nights rest.

As with all your yogic practice, the only rule is that there are no rules! Adjust your daily lifestyle and practice to the changes in the weather and to how you are feeling. Trust your intuition to help maintain the balance of your doshas. Learn to appreciate how the changes in how you are feeling relate to how the dosha changes in you!

For a nutrition and lifestyle consultation or any further information please contact me on wendy@wise-living.co.za and 011 781 4797 or 072 800 4982.

 

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