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17 Ayurvedic Summer Routine Ideas to Beat the Heat

Summertime.


Hot sun, hot temperatures, and hot, sharp emotions predominate during this time.


Explore these Ayurvedic summer routines to help you deal with the heat and keep cool.


Ayurvedic summer routine: woman standing in a sunflower field

Jump ahead to the summer routine ideas or keep reading for a better understanding of the Ayurvedic view of the seasons.


Seasons in Ayurveda


According to the Ashtanga Hridayama, there are 6 seasons in India (AH, Sū, 3/1-2).


However, in the US, most sources agree that we can break the seasons into 3 groupings.


Summer--Pitta season--predominance of fire & water elements

Fall and early winter--Vata season--predominance of air & ether elements

Late winter and spring--Kapha season--predominance of water & earth elements


Ayurvedic summer routine: Chart of the seasons by dosha

What the Ashtanga Hridayam has to say about summer


The Ashtanga Hiridayam is an ancient Ayurvedic text which includes an entire chapter dedicated to seasonal routines.


It begins by explaining how the seasons affect the doshas.


During the spring pitta dosha, the dosha composed of fire and water, begins to accumulate.


Then in the hot summer months, pitta dosha begins to aggravate due to the intensity of the sun and heat.


At the same time, vata dosha, the dosha composed of air and ether, begins to accumulate in the summer as the heat in the external environment and within the body begins to create dryness. Then vata dosha will naturally begin to aggravate in autumn (AH, Sū 3/26).


The good news is that as the pitta season of summer commences, the kapha dosha that had been aggravated during the spring season (kapha season) begins to diminish day by day (AH, Sū 3/26).


Ayurvedic summer routine: Woman lounging at the side of a pool in a sunhat

The Asthanga Hridayam tells us that in summer, the sun becomes stronger which causes the destruction of all things (AH, Sū 3/26).


Just think about how plastic can crack and become brittle during the hot months, or even how the earth begins to dry out during this time.


During the summer, foods that are salty, sour, and pungent should be avoided (AH, Sū 3/27), and, instead, foods that are sweet, light (easy to digest), slightly oily, cold, and liquifying should be consumed (AH, Sū 3/28).


Excessive exercise and exposure to the sun should also be avoided during the hot months (AH, Sū 3/27), and, instead, cool or cold showers and baths are indicated (AH, Sū 3/28).


Wine and other alcoholic drinks should be avoided in the summer because, in large doses, they can create emaciation, debility, burning sensations, and delusion (AH, Sū 3/29).


If you do decide to consume some alcohol in the summer months, have only a small amount or dilute it with water (AH, Sū 3/29).


Reading through the poetic recommendations from the Ashtanga Hridayam, my pitta heart feels cooler and lighter.


For example, some excerpts from the Asthanga Hridayam:


"Daytime should be spent in forests having tall trees reaching the sky, such as shala, tala, etc. which obstruct the hot rays of the sun, or in houses around which bunches of flowers and grapes are hanging from their creepers; sheets of cloth spreading sweet scented water, are arranged (to fan the air), bunches of tender leaves and fruits of mango hanging all around; sleep on [a] soft bed prepared with petals of flowers...with fully blossomed flowers suspended at all places, or spend the day remaining inside the house cooled by water fountains, [the] water being scented with [vetiver]...and thereby get rid of the heat of the sun" (AH, Sū 3/33-36).


Ayurvedic summer routine: Woman in a sunhat in a flower patch

"At night, people should sleep on the terrace having good moonlight. Exhaustion (due to heat of the day) of the person, who is of balanced mind will be relieved by, anointing the body with [a] paste of [sandalwood], wearing garlands [of flowers], avoidance of sexual activity, wearing of very light and thin dress, by fanning of fans made of leaves...made wet; syringes sprinkling cool water softly, garlands of flowers [camphor], [jasmine] and beads of white sandal paste, children, mynah birds and parrots talking pleasantly..." (AH, Sū 3/37-41).



Let's break this down into activities that may work in your modern life.


17 Ayurvedic summer routine ideas to beat the heat


Daily routines


1. Brush your teeth with neem and peppermint toothpowder


This cooling blend will help to cool your mouth to start your summer day (Pole, 52).


You can make this DIY toothpowder by mixing 1 part neem leaf powder to 1 part peppermint powder. Store this mixture in a jar and use either water or coconut oil to hold the powder on your brush.


2. Swish with oil


Coconut oil is a good choice for summer swishing, or you can try this Swish Oil from Athreya.


Ayurvedic summer routine: Athreya Swish Oil jar beside a glass and toothbrush


3. Use a cooling oil for nasya (drops of oil in the nose)


Coconut oil, brahmi coconut oil, ghee, or brahmi ghee are good examples of oils to use in the nose during the summer to help cool the mind.

During the summer, you may find this practice helpful at midday 1/2 hour before your lunch, or in the evening before bed.


4. Spray the face and eyes with good-quality rose water


Rose water is astringent and cooling for the face and the eyes, a site of pitta that gets overheated and aggravated during summertime.


Make sure the rose water is free of additives. Mountain Rose Herbs has a lovely Rose Hydrosol.


Another option to cool and lubricate the eyes is to put a drop or two of pure, clean ghee in the eyes once a week before bed to help soothe the eyes. Just be careful, your vision will get a bit blurry from the ghee.


5. Give yourself an abhyanga, self-massage with oil


Use coconut oil or another pitta pacifying oil such as Kshirabala oil, Brahmi oil, or Chemparuthyadi Coconut oil for your daily oiling during the hot weather.


Ayurvedic summer routine: Athreya Ksheerabala oil bottle

Ayurvedic summer routine: Kottakkal bottle of Chemparutyadi oil

You can read more about why and how to do abhyanga in Self-Love with Abhyanga: Ayurvedic Massage.


6. Bathe with lukewarm water (Pole, 52)


Use lukewarm water instead of hot water on your body to reduce heat and burning sensations.


Use cooler water on your head when you wash your hair to keep your mind cool.


7. Anoint yourself with cooling essential oils


Sandalwood, rose, jasmine, jatamansi, and peppermint are excellent cooling essential oils to apply after bathing during the hot months.


These can be applied to the navel and the third eye (the spot above and between the eyebrow) to keep these areas cool (Pole, 52).


I would also suggest adding one of these essential oils to the feet to pull the heat down and out of the body.


8. Oil the feet before bed


Coconut or castor oil massaged into the feet will help to draw excess heat in the body down to the feet (Pole, 52).


Brahmi oil is another excellent choice to apply to the feet in the summer months.


Ayurvedic summer routine: Woman pouring brahmi oil for a jar into her hand


9. Get to sleep by 10 pm


I know this may sound challenging in the summer in the northern locals when the sun sets so late, but the pitta time of night is from 10 pm to 2 am.


The body is performing a natural detox during this time that can only be accomplished while sleeping.


In addition, when you stay up past 10 pm, there is a chance of catching your second wind and having difficulty falling asleep before 2 am.



Summer activities to help keep cool


10. Walk in bare feet in the morning dew


The coolness of the dew on your feet helps to cool the body at the start of the day (Pole, 52).


11. Spend time in nature.


Being in a forest protected from the sun beside a gently flowing, babbling stream is one of the best places to spend time during the summer.


Ayurvedic summer routine: A water fall in the forest

12. Swimming


Swimming is an activity that helps to cool down excess heat in the summertime.


Having a vigorous, strong swim can calm the pitta mind, however, sometimes just relaxing and floating in the water can be even more calming to pitta dosha.


13. Take a nap


Napping is usually frowned upon in the Ayurvedic tradition, but the long days of summer and the depleting heat conspire to make napping permissible during the summer months.



Summer diet to cool you down


14. Qualities of summer foods


Summer foods should be predominant in the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes, and the salty, sour, and pungent tastes should be reduced.


However, all tastes should still be present in every meal.


Foods should generally be light and easy to digest (Pole, 52). Leave the heavy-to-digest foods for the winter months.


15. Summer mealtimes


Sebastian Pole in his book Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice, recommends having a liquid breakfast of warm milk with almonds, saffron, and a natural sweetener (Pole, 52).


Here is a delicious ojas-building warm milk recipe that I use:



Ayurvedic summer routine: Recipe Ojas-building warm milk


Eat lunch around noon when the sun is at its strongest (Pole, 52).


Dinner should be light so the food can be digested before bed. Avoid salads at dinner because they can disturb both vata and sleep (Pole, 52).


16. Foods to favor during the hot summer months:

  • grains, especially:

    • barley

    • rice

    • oats

    • wheat

  • cooling vegetables, such as:

    • green beans

    • asparagus

    • broccoli

    • cauliflower

    • leafy greens (but use caution with mustard greens, nettles, and other pungent greens)

    • cucumber

    • zucchini

    • squashes

    • peas

    • lettuce

  • sweet and astringent fruits, but sour fruits should be avoided (the exception is lime because lime has a sweet post-digestive effect)

  • legumes

  • nuts and seeds

    • coconut (especially cooling for summer)

    • sunflower seeds

    • pumpkin seeds

  • oils

    • coconut

    • olive

    • sunflower

    • ghee

  • sweet, not sour dairy products

    • milk

    • ghee

    • unsalted butter

    • soft, unsalted cheeses

  • sweeteners: most are heating in nature, so be careful use caution with honey, molasses, white sugar, and even jaggery (raw sugar). In summer, favor maple syrup and coconut sugar.

  • spices

    • coriander

    • fennel

    • cinnamon

    • cardamom

    • turmeric (with caution for pitta individuals)

    • cumin, in small quantities

    • black pepper, in small quantities

  • Drink cooling herbal teas such as:


Ayurvedic summer routine: Red hibiscus flower


17. Some foods to avoid during the hot summer months:

  • garlic

  • onion

  • tomato

  • excess salt

  • sour dairy products

  • cheese

  • citrus fruits

  • dark meats

  • alcohol

  • yeasted breads

  • nuts

  • hot, spicy foods

  • coffee

  • black tea

  • fermented foods like kombucha, kimchee, sourkraut

* (Svoboda, 1349-1399) & (Pole, 52)


17 Ayurvedic summer routine ideas to beat the heat


Which of these routines can you see implementing into your life to help you stay cool this summer?


Start with one or two of these summer routine ideas and then gradually add more over time.


For an online consultation to discuss your personal needs for the summer season, you can book here:



Please let me know if you have any other summer routines that help you beat the heat of summer in the comment section.



 


Vagbhata. Astanga Hrdayam. Translated by Prof. K. R. Srikantha Murthy, 7th ed., vol. 1, Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy, 2010.


Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. 2nd ed., Singing Dragon, 2013.


Svoboda, Robert. "Chapter 3 - Food." Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution. Kindle. Sadhana Publications, 1998.




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