Summer is well and truly here, with the energy of Surya, the sun in Sanskrit. Summer is synonymous with long evenings, parties, fresh air, and holidays, but also with difficulties for our organisms to cope with the sun and heat. In naturopathy, Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, the aim is to bring balance and harmony to our bodies, minds and lives. Adaptation to the environment, seasons, and cycles is fundamental. In summer, when temperatures rise, certain activities are more energy-intensive, and appetite may drop, which is normal. Therefore, adapting our rhythms and ways of doing things is necessary. Here are our best tips for a fit summer!
As the digestive fire (Agni) is weakened during the summer, one of the first things is to eat only when hungry and in reasonable quantities, as the heat slows down the digestion process. Take great care with the choice of food: favour fresh and raw food, with light, high water content food, such as raw vegetables, cold soups, salads or vegetables, fruits (to be eaten in between meals). However, a small caveat for Vata profiles in Ayurveda or Nervous in naturopathy, a diet that is too raw and cold can lead to imbalances. One can also reduce the consumption of salty, acidic and savoury foods in favour of milder, astringent and bitter flavours. The hot body can easily suffer from dryness, so it is essential to pay particular attention to hydration: water, flavoured waters (with fruit, flowers, herbs, vegetables, etc.), lassis, herbal teas, etc. Contrary to what most people do, it is preferable not to drink cold or iced water so as not to reduce the digestive fire even more. Appropriate hydration is fundamental in the middle of summer. We'll discuss this in more detail in another article in this Summer Series on hydration!
Before going to sleep in the evening, we can pamper our physical body with oil massages. Diffusing essential oils in the bedroom before going to sleep helps create an atmosphere conducive to letting go and falling asleep: Essential oil of rose, fine lavender, sandalwood, camphor, petitgrain bigarade, marjoram or vetiver would be good choices.
The first important piece of advice for taking care of your nervous system is to forget about television, computer and telephone screens during your holidays. Unplug completely to rest your brain and be more productive when you return. While you are not at work, the world does not stop turning. We can't say it enough: breathe! Breathe consciously by practising either cardiac coherence three times five minutes a day or pranayamas – breath discipline – (notably Nadi Shodhana, alternate breathing; or Samavritti, square breathing). This will help to calm the mind and favour the parasympathetic mode of the nervous system, which allows rest and regeneration and better sleep. During this season of fire, anger, impatience and irritation can surface, so it is important to respect a natural rhythm and set aside enough time for rest and regeneration of the nervous system.
Please take advantage of the summer and its beautiful days to do physical activities in the open air, in nature, and in contact with the elements; the benefits will be multiplied! Everything is good, but if the heat is too much, it is important to refresh and reinvigorate yourself: walking, swimming, bathing, canyoning, white water activities, surfing, etc., in cool waters (lakes, waterfalls, rivers, ocean, etc.). Important reminder: physical activity in the middle of summer increases sweat levels, and that's okay! A healthy body is a body that sweats! If there is no sweating in summer, it is because the skin emunctory is blocked and does not allow the correct evacuation of waste. And don't forget to protect your skin and eyes.
We can apply the rule "let's balance opposites" to regulate our inner fire. So, in this season of fire, we certainly fill up on light and heat, but freshness and water are essential to balance the mood, as are gentleness and calmness in our activities and rhythm of life. All of this will help to maintain a good balance throughout the summer. Learning to live with the seasons is essential to maintaining good health. So celebrate life, fill yourself with positive feelings and sensations, laugh a lot and enjoy your summer with a light heart!