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Ayurvedic Practices

Cool Summer’s Fire

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by Katie Silcox

Sizzling summer is fully upon us! This is the time of year when the fire element dominates. When we’re in balance during this time, we can embody the inherent passion, warmth, and golden satisfaction of the season.

The downside of summer is that it is also ripe for imbalances related to burn-out. These include such fiery conditions such as acne, boils, rash, excess sweating, heatstroke, hives, excessive anger and intensity, as well as digestive upsets like peptic ulcers, colitis, and diarrhea.

And so, while you may love the sun, make sure to cool summer’s spice with some simple Ayurvedic heat-reducing practices.

Routines for Cooling Summer’s Fire

Get under the moon Take your soul out for a moon bath. Fire (also known as pitta dosha) is reduced by gazing at the moon with a cool head and a loving heart. And for a powerful fire-reducing experience, take a swim outdoors in the moonlight.

Rinse your eyes The eyes are one place we tend to hold extra heat. Make your rosewater using organic rose petals and splash on the face and in the eyes each morning.

Exercise moderately Regular exercise is important but slow, smooth yoga is best for most of us during the hot season. Emphasize spinal twists and forward bends. This will help release excess fire and toxins from the digestive system. It may also help to exercise to half of your capacity in summer, just to the point where your forehead, armpits, and spine get a little sweat-glow going.

Lube up Lubricating your skin in coconut oil makes you feel like you are on a tropical vacation. Plus it’s cooling and has natural detoxification and nourishment properties. Gentle daily massage with coconut oil will not only slow your roll and cool your intensity, but it will nourish the skin, calm the nervous system, boost vitality and the immune system, help with insomnia, and bring a general juiciness to body and mind.

Natural sunscreen  Neem oil has a 35 SPF natural sunblock capacity, when frequently applied, and has none of the negative side effects of chemical sunblock.

Cooling foods Emphasize seasonal foods that are cool, dry and heavy, with sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. Coconut water, dates, sweet berries and cherries, pears, melons, coconut, cucumber, and raw foods/salads are cooling. And cooling herbs and spices include fennel, mint, coriander, cilantro, turmeric cumin, dill, parsley, chrysanthemum, peppermint, dandelion, burdock, aloe vera juice. Avoid heating spices like cayenne, garlic, horseradish, chillies, basil, and pepper. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar. Drink cool (not iced) water with mint, cucumber, or lime.

Relationship matters Avoid intensity and conflict during the hottest months, including decisions about business or relationships that can be contentious. Romance is wonderful in the summer but too much sex can be overheating.

Fragrance notes Rose, lavender, jasmine, lotus, sandalwood, and hibiscus are all cooling. You can use them as essential oils, in powder, as tea or just enjoy the fresh flowers.

Meditate The bija mantra “vam” is the mantra of water, which cools fire, softens intensity, and halts judgment. Practice resting in the witness of your experience as you say and hear this sound.

Fashion fixes Consider wearing more cooling colors. White, blue, and light green, loose-fitting clothing of cotton or silk are great ways to mitigate summer’s heat.

Katie Silcox is a certified teacher of Rod Stryker’s Para Yoga® and a certified Ayurvedic Wellness Educator and Therapist. She mentored with Devi Mueller, president of the Ayurvedic Medical Association, and Dr. Claudia Welch. Katie teaches classes and workshops nationally and internationally, and is authoring a book on ayurveda and tantra yoga, to be published in 2012.