Ayurvedic tips for keeping your cool this summer

Short-tempered, hot-headed and irritable anyone? (I’m quietly raising my hand). The combination of having my kids home for summer and my pitta-vata constitution is spelling out a recipe for pitta imbalance. Pitta is the constitution with a predominance of the fire element, when in excess shows up as “hot” and intense emotions like anger, impatience, irritability, frustration, aggression and intolerance (these do not pair well with small children). In the body it can show up as inflamed, irritated or itchy skin, loose stools, heartburn/acid reflux, and generally feeling overheated in body, mind and emotions.

I’ve compiled my favorite tips for beating the summer heat and staying cool, calm and collected.

  • Eat green. Look around. There’s green all around you. Chlorophyll is like putting on the inner A.C. I start my day with a green smoothie (lately with purslane, chickweed and lamb’s quarters – I’ve been selective in my weeding : ). Greens have bitter taste which is cooling to the bodily tissues. (see below for pitta-reducing drink recipes)
  • Eat sweet. Summer fruit is sweet and abundant. Savor what the season has to offer and you’ll never go wrong. Increase sweet taste as it’s also cooling.
  • Eat cooling foods. Like they say – “cool as a cucumber”, or watermelon, fennel, cilantro, summer squash, sweet peas, coconut and small amounts of ice cream : )
  • Hydrate. The summer sun is drying. Drink cool water (not iced – never recommended as it puts out the digestive fire), perhaps with mint leaves or cucumber sliced for added cooling benefits. Coconut water is also great as are herbal teas like mint, lemongrass and lemon balm. Avoid caffeine for its stimulating and dehydrating qualities (it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire)
  • Set your piggies free. Walking barefoot on the grass is a great way to cool down, ground and relax (a perfect antidote to all summer imbalances).
  • Foot baths. Fire goes up. Too much heat caused hot-headedness. One of the best ways to cool off (mentally and physically) is with a cool foot bath (it brings the fire down from the head). Add lavender or peppermint drops or leaves. Other appropriate essential oils for this time of year are sandalwood, rose and jasmine.
  • Exercise early in the morning (best) or in the evening and definitely avoid the midday boot camp class
  • Have a big, long, leisurely lunch and a light, early dinner. Our digestive fire is smaller in the summer to help disperse the internal heat. Take advantage of digestion being at its strongest in the middle of the day and don’t overload your system at night.
  • Self-massage with coconut oil to calm the nervous system and cool the body
  • Cool down with a rosewater or lavender face spray.
  • Avoid adding fire to fire. That means reduce spicy, sour and salty foods, alcohol, stimulants, and overworking
  • Chill-ax. Balance your work with play. Prevent summer burnout by scheduling in time for fun and relaxation every. single. day.

Okanagan Summer Smoothie

Blend: 2 nectarines (or peaches), 1 honeycrisp apple (or other local apple or pear), 1 cup strawberries (or any other fresh local berry), 4 cups local dark, leafy greens (spinach, chard, kale, collard, lamb’s quarters, purslane, chickweed, etc.) 2 or more cups of water

Cool as a Cucumber Juice

Juice: 1 Cucumber, handful each cilantro and mint, 1 apple, 1 fennel, 1 whole lime