By Acharya Shunya
In Sunny California, which is my home, we have become a little spoiled with expansive blue skies and a warm golden sun that sparkles and shines and adds a special radiance to our lives, year-round. And we especially look forward to summer with great anticipation.
World over, we humans have developed an entire culture around summer. Its arrival is often greeted with great super sales of cooling cottons, designer beach gear, water sports, special juices and drinks to keep us cool and hydrated. Bottled water sales go up and sunglasses go on our noses, where they will stay perched for several months!
Unfortunately, summer’s dry heat can also be trying on our system since the moisture in the environment reduces drastically, including from our body, causing loss of body fluids through sweating.
We can also manifest conditions like sunstroke, dehydration, prickly heat rash, inflammatory skin disorders, bleeding from the nose, burning sensation of urine, muscle cramps and fatigue, etc.
What Ayurveda Says About Summer
Ayurveda-wise, the fiery hot sun in summer activates Pitta Dosha. Increasing dryness (of the wind) begins to accumulate Vata.
There is reduction in Kapha Dosha within the body and a reduction of Rasa Dhatu (fluid nutrition of all the body tissues), and the Bala (strength) of the body are also greatly diminished.
Hence, Ayurveda not only cautions external protection but also suggests inner replenishment, rejuvenation and restoration.
Ayurvedic Ways to Replenish This Summer
Ayurveda suggests not only enjoying the cooled interior versus the blistering outdoors in day time, but also actively soliciting the comfort of shaded gardens and forests filled with fragrant flowers and fountains or tall trees with thick foliage to soothe the intense heat.
In no other season is a nap recommended apart from summer season. Ayurveda advises adequate rest (no over exertion or over heating of the body), and recommends daytime sleep to replenish lost Kapha.
The Moon is a great help in summer, which is why Ayurveda suggests sleeping in the open (if possible) perhaps even bare skinned, or minimally clothed with the lightest cotton garments to absorb the cooling rays loaded with love!
How to replenish the body:
Anoint it with the paste of herbs usher or Chandan (sandalwood) – mixed in cool water and wait till dry. Then take a cooling bath or shower. The skin will become soft, moistened and ready to combat the sun.
Coconut oil makes for a good sun protector (always apply slightly warmed) before you step out.
The face can be washed with ground red masoor daal (red lentils), pinch of sandalwood powder and saffron (use a coffee grinder to make a powder). Mix tablespoon of mixture with cooling while cow milk to make creamy paste for a cooling and nourishing face wash that will remove redness from the face.
What to avoid:
Reduce exertion, heavy exercises, direct or excessive exposure to direct sunlight.
Excessive sex / intercourse should also be avoided in this season, especially after a meal.
Self care is a sacred ritual, thus, Ayurveda’s self care wisdom demonstrates a deep understanding of nature.
The self care rituals laid out here not only deliver results but become potent ways to love ourselves and to step into a more conscious relationship with nature, the sun, the moon and the wind.
Following Ayurveda’s recommendations, we begin to flow more and fight less with nature.
This summer, the time we will take to choose appropriate foods and craft a season-appropriate lifestyle by virtue of Ayurveda wisdom will truly transform our understanding of nature and what it wants from us. With Ayurveda’s help, we do not need to only react to the escalating heat and dryness of summer with discomfort.
Instead, we can choose to respond to it proactively by being prepared in advance. This will be truly conscious time invested in the self for a happy, cool and healthy summer!
You can learn more about the study and practice of Ayurveda through Acharya Shunya's online course, Alchemy through Ayurveda.
This blog is excerpted from our blog, "Summer Self Care with Ayurveda: Wisdom Teachings from my Vedic Lineage" originally published in May 2019.
Acharya Shunya is a globally-recognized spiritual teacher and Vedic lineage-holder who awakens health and consciousness through the Vedic sciences of Ayurveda, Vedanta and Yoga. She is the driving force behind an online wisdom school and worldwide spiritual community, and the author of best-selling book on the Vedic art of mind + body + soul well-being and health, Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom (Sounds True, 2017) and her second book, Sovereign Self (Sounds True, 2020). Acharya Shunya is a keynote speaker at national and international conferences, and serves as an advisor to the Indian Government in matters pertaining to global integration and cultivation of Ayurveda and Yoga. Receive her free online teachings and browse her current eCourse offerings here or see more about her on Facebook and follow her on Instagram. Study Ayurveda with Acharya Shunya in her online course, Alchemy through Ayurveda.