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5 Ways to Stay Cool in the Summer That You May Not Know

Summer.


The season that many people long for throughout the winter months.


But for some, the heat of summer can be excruciating.


Ayurveda offers diet and lifestyle changes to help your body adjust to any season.


5 ways to stay cool in the summer



5 ways to stay cool in the summer: woman in the sun with a straw hat

The seasons according to Ayurveda


Summer is the pitta time of year, bringing more fire and water elements into the environment.


During the spring, pitta dosha begins to accumulate.


In summer, pitta dosha aggravates.


Then, in the fall, pitta dosha begins to pacify naturally.


It is also important to remember that vata dosha begins to accumulate during the summer.


Consider caring for both pitta and vata doshas during the summer months.



5 ways to stay cool in the summer


1. Eat cooling foods (pitta pacifying foods)


5 ways to stay cool in the summer: an opened coconut with a straw sitting on a beach

Ayurveda recommends specific foods to help cool and calm pitta dosha during the summer.


Sweet, sour and salty foods help to pacify Pitta dosha and reduce heat.


If you are feeling overheated enjoy some of the following cooling foods:


  • sweet fruits like sweet apples, sweet pears, watermelons, sweet grapes, melons,

  • green veggies including green beans, leafy greens, broccoli, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, asparagus

  • cooling herbal teas such as rose, lavender, hibiscus, peppermint, fennel, coriander

  • other cooling beverages like coconut water, cow's milk, goat's milk

  • use ghee or coconut oil for cooking


Avoid overly spicy, sour, and salty foods during the summer as these can increase the internal heat in the body.


Here are some foods to avoid:


  • coffee and black tea

  • chili peppers and other heating spices in excess like black pepper, mustard seeds, ginger, asafoetida (hing), ajwain

  • chocolate

  • nuts, unless they are soaked overnight

  • sour fruits like sour apples, sour citrus fruit, sour mango, banana

  • overly salty foods like snacks, chips, and processed foods, or even using excess salt in cooking

  • onion, garlic, tomato


To clarify, "avoid" does not suggest that you can never consume these foods, but rather consume them in smaller quantities and less often.


Save the pitta aggravating, heating foods for the late fall, winter, and early spring months.


To read more about the six tastes of Ayurveda, check out these posts:






2. Spend time in or near water


5 ways to stay cool in the summer: a woman's face coming up out of the water

Pitta dosha is soothed by being in or near cool water.


If the body of water is in direct sun, either swim in the morning before the excess heat begins or swim after 2 pm when the sun's intensity is reduced


The moderate exercise of swimming laps is soothing for the pitta mind and body, and sometimes, just floating in the water can help settle pitta dosha and create coolness.


Dunking the head under cool water can help to soothe headaches and excess heat in the head.


Even sitting near water can help to cool you down.


Try sitting near a lake or a babbling brook out in the woods.



3. Use cooling, soothing essential oils


5 ways to stay cool in the summer: an essential oil bottle on pink rose petals

Some of my favorite summertime essential oils include:


  • rose

  • sandalwood

  • lavender

  • peppermint

  • jatamansi



Remember that most essential oils should be diluted in a carrier oil (such as coconut or sesame oil) before being applied to the skin. Essential oils are intense and can burn the skin and mucous membranes if not diluted.


This blog deals with the external use of essential oils. Please do not ingest essential oils.


Rose


5 ways to stay cool in the summer: a bunch of pink roses

Rose essential oil keeps the heart open and allows a connection to all things, with a sense of being secure and spiritually attuned. (Miller & Miller, 285).


Pure rose essential oil is expensive, but some lovely diluted rose essential oils are available. Anima Mundi sells my current favorite: Rose Otto.


I apply a drop of Rose Otto to my heart because it is nourishing and heart-opening.


When I'm suffering from the heat in the summer, I'll add a few drops of rose essential oil and 2 cups of milk to my lukewarm bath.


Rose is a natural refrigerant and cools the body down immediately.


Benefits of Rose essential oil include (Miller & Miller, 285-286):

  • reduces anger and frustration

  • improves liver function

  • eases menopause symptoms

  • reduces pitta-type inflammation

  • alleviates skin allergies of a pitta nature

  • can be used in cases of:

    • amenorrhea

    • dysmenorrhea

    • dizziness

    • mental illness

    • headache

    • depression

    • sore throat

    • aged skin

    • impotence

    • grief

    • nervousness

    • acne



Sandalwood


Sandalwood oil is cooling as it keeps you grounded and helps reduce fear (Miller & Miller, 290).


Sandalwood oil is used for spiritual practices as well.


Apply a dab of sandalwood oil to the third eye point, the point above and between the eyebrows, before meditating to aid in focus and concentration during your practice.


Benefits of sandalwood essential oil include (Miller & Miller, 290):

  • antibacterial

  • helps reprogram the brain

  • builds the endocrine (hormonal) system

  • eases venereal diseases

  • regulates the uterus

  • reduces nervousness and anxiety

  • eases bronchitis

  • diminishes palpitations

  • alleviates insomnia

  • helps with sunstroke

  • soothes dry skin

  • lessens nausea

  • clears acne

  • ameliorates depression

  • alleviates impotence



Lavender


5 ways to stay cool in the summer: a woman holding a bunch of lavender flowers

Lavender essential oil is an all-around excellent essential oil because it has many medicinal uses (Miller & Miller, 263) beyond cooling.


I carry lavender oil when I travel to use it in case of burns, bug bites, skin irritations, and sunburn.


Uses for lavender essential oil include (Miller & Miller, 263-264):

  • anxiety and stress

  • depression

  • anger and irritability

  • reducing hypertension

  • lowering fever

  • burns

  • insect bites

  • wounds

  • eczema and other skin issues

  • rheumatism

  • nerve issues

  • headaches (rub on temples)

  • fungal infections (athlete's foot, vaginitis)

  • motion sickness

  • insomnia

  • mood swings

  • dry skin

  • water retention

  • dandruff

  • hair loss

  • flu, colds, and bronchitis



Peppermint


5 ways to stay cool in the summer: fresh peppermint leaves

Peppermint is excellent for easing pitta dosha and cooling the body and mind (Miller & Miller, 282).


Uses for peppermint essential oil (Miller & Miller, 282):

  • headaches especially heat-related (rub on temples)

  • stimulant for depression or lethargy

  • revitalization (use this when your energy is flagging)

  • antiseptic

  • expectoration of mucus (inhalation in steam)

  • cools the body (mix in milk and add to bath water)

  • digestive upset

  • fever, colds, sore throat, and laryngitis

  • nervous agitation

  • dysmenorrhea

  • asthma


I carry peppermint oil when I travel to help clear my sinuses in polluted areas. I'll add some to a bowl of boiled water, cover my head with a towel, and inhale the steam.


Remember that peppermint oil is quite intense, avoid using it directly on the skin.


Jatamansi


Jatamansi (sometimes spelled jatamamsi) is one of my favorite essential oils. It is beneficial for reducing aggravated vata and pitta doshas in the mind.


Jatamansi (or Indian Spikenard) is an endangered plant. Look for sources that are cultivating it and harvesting it sustainably.


I apply jatamansi to the soles of my feet to help cool my mind and body.


Uses for Jatamansi essential oil (Pole, 200):

  • nervousness

  • Parkinson's disease

  • insomnia

  • cools an exhausted and hot nervous system

  • clears pitta

  • increased intellect

  • mental clarity

  • headaches

  • hypertension

  • flatulence

  • bloating

  • peristalsis

  • nervous skin disorders, including burning and itching sensations

  • brain rejuvenation




4. Avoid the hottest part of the day


5 ways to stay cool in the summer: a woman in a yellow shirt with a blue yoga mat wiping her brow from the heat as she walks

From 10 am to 2 pm, pitta dosha is predominant in the external environment making this the hottest time of day.


Avoid going outside in the hot sun during this time.


Soak your feet in a tub of cool water with one of the essential oils listed above during this time of day to help get relief from the heat.


Dunk the entire body in a lake, river, ocean, or pool away from the direct sun, if possible.


Sip soothing, cooling herbal teas or coconut water between 10 am to 2 pm during the summer.


5. Utilize cooling breathing techniques


Hissing Breath: Seetkari Pranayama


5 ways to stay cool in the summer: mouth position for seetkari pranayama, lips open and teeth together

Often known as the "hissing breath," this breathing technique helps to cool the body (Swatmarama, 243).


Benefits of the Hissing Breath (Swatmarama, 243-248):

  • cools the body

  • cools the tongue and reduces the blood temperature as it leaves the lungs

  • heat in the reproductive and excretory organs is reduced

  • regulates hormonal secretions

  • balances the endocrine system

  • makes one virile and attractive

  • gives control of the mechanisms of the body

  • stabilizes the mind

  • deepens the mind/body connection

  • discourages a lack of motivation

  • reduces the need for eating, drinking, and sleeping

  • increases sattva (goodness and purity of the mind--leads to enlightenment)


Contraindications:

  • chronic constipation (Swatmarama, 244)

  • extreme cold (Kripalu, 3.28)

  • excess vata dosha or kapha dosha (Kripalu, 3.28)


How to do the Hissing Breath (Swatmarama, 243-244)

  • Sit in a comfortable position with the spine elongated

  • Close the eyes, or look at a spot 2-3 feet in front of you

  • Hands can be on the knees, using a mudra, if you know one

  • With the lower and upper teeth pressed together, separate the lips

  • Slowly breathe in through the gaps in the teeth

  • Observe the sound of the breath

  • When the inhalation is finished, close the lips and exhale through the nose

  • Start with 8 rounds and work your way up to twenty rounds

The Cooling Breath: Sheetali Pranayama


Sheetali has multiple meanings in Sanskrit, it means "cooling" and also "calm," "unemotional," and "without passion. (Swatmarama, 249)"


The Cooling Breath not only cools the body but also the mind (Swatmarama, 249), and can be used after heating breathing practices or anytime during the day (Swatmarama, 250).


Benefits of the Cooling Breath (Swatmarama, 249-251)

  • lessens an enlarged stomach or spleen

  • reduces fever

  • regulates bile

  • decreases hunger and thirst

  • counteracts poisons

  • cools the mind

  • cools the body

  • purifies blood

  • improves digestion

  • alleviates high blood pressure

  • soothes the nervous system


Contraindications:

  • in excessive cold (Swatmarama, 251)

  • high vata dosha or kapha dosha (Kripalu, 3.28)


How to do the Cooling Breath

  • Sit in a comfortable position with the spine elongated

  • Close the eyes, or look at a spot 2-3 feet in front of you

  • Hands can be on the knees, using a mudra, if you know one

  • Stick out the tongue

  • Roll up the sides of the tongue so it forms a tube

  • Slowly breathe in through the tongue as if you were sucking through a straw

  • After the inhalation is finished, breathe out through the nose

  • Start with 9 rounds and work up to 10 minutes

  • If you can't roll your tongue, stick with the Seetkari breath above.


5 Ways to Stay Cool in the Summer That You May Not Know


This summer, remember these 5 ways to stay cool and use them to help prevent irritability and frustration from the heat.


  1. Eat cooling foods

  2. Spend time in or near water

  3. Use cooling, soothing essential oils

  4. Avoid the hottest part of the day

  5. Utilize cooling breathing techniques



If you need help finding balance in your life, book a consultation.








 

Muktibodhananda, Swami, and Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Hatha Yoga Pradipika: Light on Hatha Yoga. 3rd ed., Yoga Publications Trust, 1998.


Kripalu Center. "Foundations of Āyurveda." 2019. PDF.


Miller, Dr. Light ND, and Dr. Bryan Miller DC. Ayurveda and Aromatherapy: The Earth Essential Guide to Ancient Wisdom and Modern Healing. 1st ed., Lotus Press, 1995.




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