We often become hyper-focused on how our bodies look in summer. This is years of marketing the “perfect summer body”, when in reality, if you have a body and its summer, you have a summer body.
Our focus and attention have been so much on the external aspect of our body and how it looks to others, that we only focus on the internal aspect, or our health when a disease is already at our doorstep.
Let me help you with this guide on preparing your mind and body for the upcoming, big hot Indian summer.
The one thing we should keep in mind about our body: it is a physical manifestation of our energy.
Energy is determined by our diet, our thoughts and our environment (although the mind can conquer a negative environment). We have often believed our health is not in our control but I am here to tell you that it is absolutely 100% in your control.
We must prepare our bodies and adjust our routines or Dinachariya according to the season. Ayurveda works around the fundamental principles of the 3 doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha. They represent energy in our bodies that interact with each other.
According to Ayurveda, we fall sick when one or more of these elements is out of balance in one’s body.
Summertime is the peak Pitta season. The qualities of pitta are hot, light, sharp, oily and fluid. People with Pitta dosha can have an especially hard time and may experience hot flushes, migraines and acid reflux more often in the summer season. Having high pitta can also affect our mental state making us irritable and short-tempered.
Ideal Ayurveda-Prescribed Summer Routine
1. Waking up at 5:30 AM
It is earlier for summer as there are more hours in the day. Keep your phone away from you at least 1 hour before you sleep. This will help you wake up easier, with a more fresh and well-rested mind. Cleansing yourself and maintaining your personal hygiene is the next step. Use natural ingredients (such as dantmanjan) and clean all the toxins your body removes away. During this time use anti-inflammatory ingredients in your skincare such as turmeric, rose and vetiver.
2. Have a glass of warm water every morning after you wake up. This is very important to fuel your Agni or digestive fire in the mornings.
3. Exercise every day during summer. Because it is peak Pitta season, the body experiences inflammation more easily and it can cause quite a bit of discomfort. In summer, exercise light and listen to your body. Don’t do an intense workout where you run out of breath or sweat too much.
Slower, more holistic exercises such as yoga are recommended highly during this time. Because yoga is breathing and movement together, it really helps the body relax and rejuvenate in the heat.
Practice morning yoga in bed with asanas like
- Legs up the wall
- Child’s pose
- Cat/cow pose
- Frog pose
Exercise once more for an hour and take the time to stretch your body and progress in your yoga abhyas. This is helpful for the body and the mind. Practice Chandra Bedhan pranayama to induce coolness in the body as well.
4. The time you eat your meals is very important. In summer, it is recommended to have breakfast between 8:00 AM to 10 AM lunch between 12:00 PM to 2:00 PMand dinner by 7:00 PM.
5. Lunch is the main meal in summer as your digestive fire is most active at this time. Summer foods should be sweet, light, astringent, and cooling in nature. Avoid spicy, fried or oily food as it can lead to irritability and inflammation in the body.
Pro tip: have fresh coconut water every morning in the pitta season. In your food, use fresh herbs and zesty, citrus-filled food too. And make sure that you and your family indulge in all the seasonal fruits such as watermelon, pears, figs and pomegranates.
6. Lastly finding time to rest and rejuvenate yourself is very important. Especially in hot summers, you do not want to overexert yourself and exhaust your energy. In the peak sunlight hours, between 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm, stay indoors. Rest by practicing pranayama or having an afternoon nap. Work towards cooling and energising your body.
7. When you wind down at the end of the day, after dinner, follow a similar self-care routine as you do in the morning. Wash your face, do some skincare and relax. It is more difficult to sleep in the summer heat. To sleep better you can use essential oils such as lavender & pomegranates. Eat fruit as a snack and not as a part of your meals
Take your time to rest, relax and enjoy the season! Set goals for your diet and exercise that incorporate having compassion for yourself. Creating a new routine around the season is highly beneficial and its impact is felt once you start practising it. We are all a part of nature, why not live in sync with it?