• Dr. Patty Hlava

Eleven Tips to Stay Cool this Season

The heat — some people love it, some hate it. Regardless of which preference you hold, you’re likely experiencing the heat of the season. Keeping our cool can be beneficial for our body as well the mind and spirit. Fortunately, there are simple things we can do to alleviate the heat and keep our cool.

Nuture Your Fire

Fire. It’s a powerful force. It can illuminate the darkness and has the alchemical power of transformation.

Anything which meets the force of fire enters a process of change: wood becomes ash, and water becomes steam. In Ayurveda, we understand our digestion as a manifestation of the fire element within in, called “agni”.

Our agni, or digestive fire, handles our ability to metabolize life. Agni is responsible not only for our digestion of food, but also for our digestion of ideas, experiences, and emotions.

Anything that we ingest must be metabolized and transformed:

  • Our food must be transformed into nourishment and energy

  • Our emotions must be transformed into understanding

  • Our ideas must be transformed into action

  • Our experiences must be transformed into wisdom

As with any fire, we must manage the flames of our agni. Imagine a campfire. If the fire burns too hot and strong, the flames soar and can spread beyond the borders of the fire ring. The flames devour the firewood, burning too hot and then dying out just as fast. In our digestion of food, this can manifest as loose stools, ulcers, and inflammation in the digestive tract. In our mental and emotional states, this can look like burn-out.

If the flames are too weak, we receive little heat from the campfire. The flames struggle to thrive, and the kindling remains unscathed. In our digestion, this can look like sluggish elimination and constipation. In our mental and emotional states, this can look like low energy, difficulty processing information, anxiety, confusion, lethargy, and even apathy.

Summer is here—and so is the heat.

In Ayurveda, summer is known as “pitta season”, the season when the fire element is most prevalent. The sun burns hotter and longer each day, fanning the flames of our internal agni—our pitta energy—along with it.

We can take this an invitation from Mother Nature to cool down. With the extra heat that the fiery summer sun brings, our minds and bodies are more prone to imbalances related to heat, or excess pitta, such as:

  • Irritability

  • Increased criticism/negative judgments

  • Impatience

  • Skin rashes

  • Inflammation

  • Acid reflux

  • Red, burning eyes

No fun.  When pitta is balanced, our life feels good. We have stable energy and drive, mental clarity, vitality, strength, and a sense of joy. Fortunately, Ayurveda has some very simple and strategies to help beat the heat and keep our cool this season, which helps us keep our agni balanced, our moods stable, and our focus sharp and clear. Here are 10 tips to balance your pitta and keep cool this summer:

11 Tips to Balance Pitta in Summer:

  1. Water: Stay hydrated this summer but forego the ice cubes. Add cucumber and/or fresh mint leaves to your water. This has cooling effect on the body without shocking the digestive system.

  2. Roses: Roses are very cooling and soothing. Put some organic rose water into a spray bottle with regular filtered water. Use this is a facial mist to cool the body from the outside. If your eyes become red and irritated, put some rose water onto a cotton pad and rest this over your closed eyes for a few minutes.

  3. Tastes: Enjoy fresh summer fruits such as plums, berries, cherries, melons, and mangoes. Choose lime over lemon: lemon adds more heat, while lime is more cooling to the body. Keep your meals lighter and save the hot & spicy dishes for fall and winter. 

  4. Spice: Add cooling and soothing spices to your meals such as coriander, cilantro, fennel, saffron, or dill. If you’re feeling a little acidity in your belly after eating, try chewing on a few fennel seeds.

  5. Coconut: Enjoy coconut water, yes. Enjoy coconut oil even more. You can use it for cooking, AND it is soothing and cooling to the body as well. Massage some into your feet before bed. Massage some into your scalp before bed. Wrap your head in a towel and go to sleep. In the morning wash your hair well. You’ll feel “cooler headed” and cooler in the body as well. 

  6. Aloe: Aloe is lovely and cooling. A treat for balancing high pitta, especially in the heat of summer. Have a tablespoon of aloe vera gel (not the juice) once daily to soothe that inner fire. 

  7. Movement: Exercise in the morning or evening when the sun isn’t burning down so hot. Adding a hot workout to a hot day only adds more heat to the body. Let your workouts be cool: swimming, walks with shade, etc. 

  8. Balance: Balance rest and activity. There is a natural pulsation and rhythm to life. Allow yourself to flow with that rhythm. Intentionally invite ease, down time, play, and leave space for laughter. Be mindful to not put too much pressure on yourself, as this will only increase the flames of pitta.

  9. Scent: Using essential oils can be very soothing for our physiology. Enjoy sweet and cooling scents such as rose, sandalwood, mint, jasmine, fennel, Roman chamomile, or lavender.

  10. Meditate: Even a few moments of stillness and silence can cool a heated body and mind. Focus on lengthening your exhales, exhaling through the mouth allowing heat to gently release from the body. Try a guided compassion meditation to soften and soothe the heart.

  11. Shower: At the end of your shower, turn the water temperature down and enjoy 30-seconds to 2 minutes of cold water. Let your body take this in. Throughout the day, use cool water on your face and hands if you begin to feel overheated. 

  12. BONUS TIP: Moonbathing. Yes, it’s a thing. The 90s Seattle band Sky Cries Mary even wrote a song about it! According to Ayurveda, the moon has a cooling and soothing effect on the body and mind. Take a walk in the moonlight, or simply enjoy lying on a blanket under the moon. See how you feel!

We are in the midst of a global transformation. Every day the world outside our windows is changing. We need to tend to our inner fire to nourish our physical bodies as well as to support us in fully digesting our experiences. When we do so, we can deepen our understanding, engage in aligned action, and grow and heal together as a global community.

Experiment. Have fun with these practices and see what resonates with you and your body. The best measure of how well your self-care is working is how you feel. Pause, check in with yourself, and invite in some soothing and cooling practices to support you through this season.

Why should you bother?

Because you matter: You matter a lot. 

If you're looking for more support and are ready to develop skills using the gifts of Ayurveda in your life, let's chat! Schedule a conversation today.

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