Cool Things Down

The Summer Solstice, marking the day when the sun stands still in the sky, the longest day of the year, is nearly here. And though we’ve certainly had some hot days so far, we’ve not quite entered the true start of summer. As we roll into this potentially explosive time, a time when we often push ourselves to do do do, we must also make time to just be, to unwind and cool the senses.

Summer is a magical time. It is a time of reflection as we look back on the first six months of the year, and a time of cultivation as we plant seeds for the last six months. This is an opportunity to take stock, knowing how quickly we’ve arrived at this mid point, and to slow down enough to envision how we’d like to complete this year. How have you been living your life so far this year? Is it serving you well? What do you want to do from here in that will leave you with a sense of satisfaction, closure, integration as the year ends?

In Ayurveda, summer is the time of fire, the Pitta time. The summer months are governed by qualities that are hot, light, penetrating, oily and liquid. These qualities can be exhilarating, filling your summer with a fusion of joyful energy. However, in excess, the qualities of summer can lead to problems. So the balance of Ayurveda offers a solution to this excess. Balancing Pitta during the summer months means observing everything the five senses is ingesting. We do this because the qualities of our world are such that if we overindulge in the same qualities–for example, eat lots of spicy foods, engage in heated arguments, overindulge in alcohol, listen to loud music, sit outside sunbathing for hours–we are apt to end up with migraines, irritability, possibly skin rashes, indigestion, and more, as we aggravate the Pitta in the body. We can balance the qualities of Pitta with the soothing sounds of water and soft music, cooling fabrics and cloths dipped in cool water or rose water, surrounding ourselves with cooling colors like blues and greens, eating foods that balance Pitta (bitter, astringent and sweet foods are balancing to Pitta–more information on this is available at www.ayurveda.com), and incorporating soothing scents, such as rose and sandalwood on the neck, palms and temples.

It is important to note that summer is the time when our digestion is slowest, and so we are best not to overeat or eat late at night in the summer, as undigested foods turn into toxins that turn into disease. Our natural inclination to eat less during the heat of summer is actually our bodies intelligent instincts trying to keep us healthy. Fasting on fruits once a week is a possibility. Drinking a lot of water, coconut water, and cooling beverages like cool Tulsi Rose tea is another way to balance internally.

As for our yoga practice, summer is probably not the best time to overexert yourself on the mat. We are prone to overexertion in our daily lives, as summer tends to become a time of running from event to event, trip to trip. Our yoga practice can serve to cool us down, as we incorporate chest opening poses and twists, avoiding too many big inversions and arm balances (never fear–we’ll get back to those in the fall!). It is still wonderful to practice heated yoga; however, we cool the practice down with longer restorative endings to class and reminders to drink a lot of liquid after class.

As you turn your attention to summer, I wish you beauty and delight; long days filled with ice cream drizzling down your chin and big splashes into a local quarry; fireflies lighting your path as you journey outside to feel the cool night air; bright arrays of wildflowers, sunflowers, poppies exploding; the delight of the first local berries and peaches as the juice sprays across your cheek. I wish you the ease of mind that you felt when you were a kid, knowing that you had sooooo much time before school was back. Most of all I wish you the peace of knowing that you are blessed with six more months in this year to make as fabulous as you can imagine.

Blessings into the Solstice,
Christa