Stay Cool Calm Hydrated Balanced this Summer
What is Ayurveda?
This summer learn and live according to Ayurveda! Ayurveda is a scientific practice that dates back 5,000 years to modern-day India. In Ayurvedic tradition, the source of existence is universal Cosmic Consciousness which manifests as energy. Some texts and teachings say this energy is categorized in male (Purusha) and female (Prakruti). These two energies are present in all beings and inanimate objects.
While many texts present the different energies as male and female, there has recently been a movement against the binary in Ayurvedic medicine. Many LGBTQ+ advocates and allies argue that the roots of Ayurveda (and many other indigenous systems) are not binary and have always shown acceptance of LGBTQ+ identities, including those that are non-binary. Take a look at this comprehensive and beautiful article from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, written by Anuradha Gupta. Anuradha interviews Stevie Inghram (she/they), a queer & non-binary yoga therapist, naturopathic medical student, and Ayurvedic wellness counseling student.
Ayurveda is a comprehensive and extensive medical system that addresses a person’s health holistically and naturally. Ayurveda is deeply tied to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Yoga. One expression of Ayurvedic medicine is what we consume and how we treat our whole selves in varying seasons.
The three foundational energies in Ayurveda are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These energies are present in everything and everybody, to different degrees.
Vata is made up of space and air. Pitta is constituted by the combination of fire and water. Kapha represents water and earth.
Within our bodies, these three energies, or doshas, govern our psychobiological functioning, or the processes where mind meets body. The goal of Ayurvedic medicine is balancing the three doshas, creating health. Each person has a unique makeup of the three doshas and there is typically a dominant dosha. Try out the Mind Body Wellness Center’s Quiz to see what your dominant dosha is!
Each dosha or energy is known to govern a season and provide guidelines for what we consume, activities we participate in, and behaviors to avoid or engage in. As we transition from Spring to Summer, the ruling dosha is changing from Kapha to Pitta. Based on San Diego summer, here are some tips for staying cool this pitta season.
Pitta dosha is the ruling summertime energy that constitutes fire and earth. However, we don’t have to let pitta rule our health and wellness!
According to the Kripalu institute, with hot weather, pitta dosha can become unbalanced. This could lead to skin irritation, nausea, indigestion, and frustration. The foods we consume can calm pitta or inflame it. It’s important to note that foods that might calm or cool pitta are not ice cold drinks like we might imagine. For example, you might want to reach for an ice cold beverage straight from the cooler during a hot beach day or hike. However, what would serve pitta better would be a beverage that is cool.
Aim for Cooling Foods
Teas & Beverages
- Try teas like mint, fennel, hibiscus, lemon balm, or chamomile
- Stay hydrated with coconut water, fruit juices, and water infused with cooling fruits & veggies
- Leafy greens
- Cooling Fruits
- Spices & Seasonings
- Try mint, dill, coriander, fennel, cumin, saffron, basil, cardamom
- Cooling Meat Options
- White meats of chicken and turkey
- Egg whites
- Non-salty fish like catfish, cod, salmon, tuna, halibut, flounder, red snapper, haddock, perch, and whiting
Avoid Heating Foods
- Avoid caffeine like coffee or large amount of black tea
- Avoid cayenne, clove, garlic, and hot peppers
- Stay away from salty, oily, fried, and spicy foods.
- This includes garlic, onions, processed foods, and canned foods
- Try to exercise during the cooler parts of the day. Hatha yoga, slow flow, yin, restorative, and sound healing are all great options!
- Asanas that support calming pitta include standing, sitting, and prone poses like twists, back bends, and supported poses.
- Try replacing Sun Salutation with Moon Salutations. Moon Salutations have a cooling effect. Also try to avoid asanas that bring heat or blood flow to your head like hand stand or shoulder stand.
Emotions, Behaviors & Actions
- Rely on breathing techniques to help cool you down
- Try shitali pranayama by curling the tongue (like a taco) and breathing in through the tunnel created by the tongue and out through the nose. 5-10 cycles will help cool you down.
- Gravitate toward cooling scents and oils like lavender, rose, sandalwood, and jasmine.
- Avoid heated discussions and arguments. If you feel a heated interaction coming, take a break from the situation and practice shitali pranayama or your favorite breathing exercise
Ayurveda offers a unique and tested perspective on health and wellness. At the end of the day, you know your body best. Do what is best for you, discuss with your healthcare providers and understand how your specific health and wellness may be impacted by ayurvedic medicine.
If you’re looking to find ayurvedic counseling or services, check out the list below for some starting points!
Get Ayurvedic Assistance from Qualified Professionals
- Ayurveda Amritvani – La Jolla
- Ayurvedic Integrated Wellness – Coronado
- Ayur Vida – Mission Hills
- Body Mind Wellness Center – North Park
- Lotus Blooming Ayurveda – La Jolla
- Omkar Ayurveda – Carlsbad
- San Diego Ayurvedic Healing – Online Consultation
- Sound Mind Ayurveda – Mobile, San Diego County
- Tejas Yoga & Wellness – Chula Vista