You likely just spent the last three months exercising more, sleeping less, catching rays and, overall, creating a build-up of heat in your body. Add to that the anticipation of re-entry into your hectic life once the summer fun ends, and you have a recipe for system overload that can manifest in physical and emotional symptoms, such as indigestion, skin rashes, acne, low blood sugar, dehydration, insomnia, hot flashes, and irritability.
The life-science of Ayurveda is all about balance and its age-old approach to cooling down is a kind of health insurance, reducing the chances of flare-ups when the frenetic pace of life picks up again. Here are three ways to enjoy the final fiery days of summer without paying the price later in electric or doctors’ bills.
1. Chill the system with cooling foods.
Sip room temperature mint tea or water without ice, which can impede proper digestion. Add cucumber slices and rosewater, which have cooling qualities. Focus on sweet, fresh, fully-ripe late-summer bounty, like berries, cherries, melons (eat alone or leave alone), apples, peaches, pears, plums, and pomegranate—all of which have seasonally appropriate cooling and cleansing qualities. Minimize sour, pungent and spicy foods, like yogurt, citrus, and cayenne pepper, which are heating.
2. Slow and balance the engine.
Self massage morning and/or evening with coconut oil, which has natural cooling properties. Apply the oil in long, sweeping motions toward the heart and in circular motions over the joints, preferably after dry brushing. Practice slow exercise, like gentle flow or restorative yoga, using long, deep breathing patterns and keeping the eyes focused at, or below, the horizon line. Choose pilates and other less strenuous and competitive forms of activity, skipping excessive or extreme exercise on the hottest days to prevent dehydration. If you notice that your are getting overly critical, judgmental, and quick to anger, practice this cooling meditation (the featured video!) and be mindful to avoid confrontational, aggressive, and competitive situations until the feelings subside.
3. Try this breathing meditation to cool it.
Specific patterns of conscious breathing are a great way to deliver cooling energy to the mind and deep into the tissues of the body. Here are two ancient practices that may lower your blood pressure and bring relief. Warning: If you suffer from low blood pressure, asthma, bronchitis or constipation, this practice may not be a good choice for you.
Cooling breath: Inhale through closed teeth and open lips. Exhale through the nose. Repeat for a few minutes.
Left nostril breathing: Close off the right nostril with your thumb and breathe gently in and out through the left nostril only. Pause slightly at the inhale and the exhale. Repeat for a few minutes.
By Lisa Hedley