Self care is an essential practice year-round, but according to Ayurveda, a holistic-medicine practice that originated in India more than 5,000 years ago, what the mind, body, and soul need in order to feel nourished changes from season to season. During summer, for example, warming foods are generally replaced with cooling and refreshing options like, watermelon and fresh salads, and cozy nights at home are generally swapped with evening nature walks.
That said, seasonal self-care practices and rituals are also not one size fits all, so knowing the best Ayurveda tips for summer for your particular dosha is key. According to Ayurveda, we all have a dominant dosha, or energetic constitution: vata, pitta, or kapha. Vata constitutes the elements of air and space and governs the movement in the body and mind, says Kimberly Rossi, a certified Ayurveda health expert who works at the Art of Living Retreat Center in North Carolina. Pitta is fire and water energy and rules metabolism and the transformation of the mind and body. And kapha’s elements are water and Earth and it controls the body’s structure, growth, lubrication, and internal organs, she adds.
Each of the three doshas has different needs each season in order to feel happy, healthy, and balanced. Rossi says imbalances can change from season to season, depending on environment, emotions, life stressors, and food and lifestyle choices that are not in harmony with a person’s constitution. That’s where Ayurveda tips for summer, by dosha, come into play.
“Ayurveda provides us with many time-tested tools to keep our dosha in balance to…promote happiness,” Rossi says. Tools include meditation, different types of yoga, herbal supplements, breathwork, personalized nutrition recommendations, medicinal spices, assessments of your constitution and more. Below, learn the best Ayurveda tips for summer self care for your dosha, according to Rossi. (If you don’t already know your dominant dosha, you can take an online quiz like this one.)
The best Ayurveda tips for summer to balance your dosha, according to an Ayurveda expert.
What to focus on: For those with a vata dosha, summer is a time to soak up the sunshine. “Enjoy the heat, and focus your attention on staying grounded and well-hydrated,” Rossi says. “Don’t get overexposed to summer’s dry, sharp, and mobile qualities.”
What to eat: “Ayurveda says like increases like and opposite balances,” Rossi says. “[Knowing this, consider that] summer also brings hurricane season, and when the wind is raging, there is a lot of movement, and it’s easy for vata to get off balance.” That’s when heavier, grounding foods, such as root vegetables and cooked warm stews come in to help ground the vata dosha.
What to avoid: Given that vata already takes in heat from the hot temperatures, Rossi advises this dosha to avoid especially fiery dishes and to exercise moderation with iced beverages and frozen foods to protect their system from bouncing between polar temperatures. She also suggests cutting back on watermelon, raw vegetables, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower to avoid overtaxing the digestive system. “See how you feel after eating, and pay attention to subtle signs of increased dryness, like gas, bloating, constipation, or dry skin,” she says.
What to do: The hot summer wind and heat, Rossi says, can dry out skin. To remedy that, vatas can give themselves grounding massages with sesame oil, focusing on the joints.
What to focus on: People with a dominant pitta dosha naturally run hot, thanks to a fire constitution. So a pitta’s main focus during the summer is to keep cool. Rossi says a great way to balance pitta during the summer months is via cooling food choices, which can help extinguish some of that fire from the inside out.
What to eat: Cooling food is the name of the game for pitta. Rossi recommends coriander, cilantro, lime, shredded coconut, avocados, cucumber, asparagus, watermelon, red lentils, mung beans, and aloe vera juice. Basically, foods that are water-based, which will help bring down the fire in your constitution. Mid-day sweet snacks can contribute to keeping a pitta feeling sprite and fresh, too.
What to avoid: To stay cool, Rossi says spicy foods, acidic foods, and fermented foods, may be best in the back seat of a pitta’s nutrition plan during the summer.
What to do: Try to hang out in the shady spots when spending time outside. “A pitta person can show pitta-imbalance symptoms, such as headaches, irritation, anger, skin issues like acne, hot flush, and burning sensations in the body,” Rossi says. So, she recommends slowing down during the summer and staying hydrated so pitta’s don’t overheat, and to engage in cooling activities such as water sports, hatha yoga, yin yoga, or nature walks in the early morning or evening.
What to focus on: Summer is the most balancing season for kapha, Rossi says. In other words, summer is kapha’s time to shine.
What to eat: Fresh fruits and veggies are great for kapha in the summer. “Favor astringent fruits like apples, cherries, berries, and pomegranate,” Rossi says. “Astringent foods are made from the elements of Earth and air, promote healing, calming, and have rejuvenating properties.” Grains such as quinoa, basmati rice, and beans are also great for kapha during the summer. “Kapha governs the organs that produce phlegm, and eating dry grains such as buckwheat, rye, corn, etc., would help in reducing mucus congestion or phlegm production,” Rossi adds.
What to avoid: “Kapha is made up of the elements of Earth and water,” Rossi says. “These are heavy elements. Their choice of food is warm foods and warm water. Frozen foods or sugary beverages many aggravate a kapha person [and cause] the feeling of heaviness and lethargy.” Furthermore, Rossi suggests minimizing consumption of coconut, avocado, and pasta because these heavy foods can further aggravate kapha’s Earth and water elements, which she says can lead to imbalances that can manifest as congestion, excess mucus, heaviness, laziness, and even sadness.
What to do: Kapha needs things to be fun, new, and interesting—otherwise they get bored easily. That’s why Rossi recommends kaphas focus on embracing new activities during the summertime especially ones that keep their mind active and body fit. Also, kaphas may want to start the day early with a gentle jog, bike ride, or vinyasa yoga. “As the day progresses, kapha’s motivation drops and they can easily get into the habit of putting things off, becoming lazy, sluggish, and lethargic,” Rossi says.
Of course, though, just as seasonal self-care practices and rituals are not one-size-fits-all, neither are Ayurveda tips for summer by dosha. If you find best that certain habits, foods, and activities work for you—or don’t!—remember that you are the best judge of what works for you. Listen to what your body, mind, and spirit is telling you.
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