Blue Lotus Ayurveda Newsletter

Seasonal Routine for Summer

July 2004

According to Ayurveda, the three fundamental doshas or principles that govern the function of our bodies on the physical, mental, and emotional levels are known as vata, pitta and kapha. Vata is the principle of movement, pitta is the fire component that transforms food into energy, and kapha is the cementing, constructing matter of the body. Each person is born with an original constitution or prakruti, which is a unique combination of all three of these energies, one usually being predominant in the individual.

The qualities of summer (hot, sharp, and penetrating) correspond to the attributes of pitta dosha. Therefore, in the summer pitta will be increased in the body, and the routine for summer should focus on decreasing pitta to avoid pitta type disorders (rashes, anger, diarrhea, acidity, and so on).

These are general summer recommendations, provided there is no vata or kapha imbalances. Since all summer days are different, these routines and recommendations can be flexible. To learn more about daily routines, or dinacharya, click here.

Morning Routine

Summer mornings are cool, so it's best to wake up as early as possible to take advantage of those cool morning hours. Scrape the tongue with a silver or stainless steel tongue scraper before brushing the teeth. After brushing the teeth, it is also recommended to take a mouthful of coconut oil, swish it slowly before spitting it out, and then gently massaging the gums. After rinsing the mouth, drink a glass of room temperature water.

Those who start their day with a yoga practice should favor the fish, camel, boat, cobra, cow, and palm tree poses, which help soothe pitta in pitta sites such as the liver and small intestines, and avoid head stands and too many inverted postures, since they bring excessive blood and pitta to the thyroid, thymus, eyes, and brain. Doing the moon salutation also pacifies pitta.

It is good to rub coconut or sunflower oil all over the body before the shower, especially for pitta constitutions. This will prevent sunburn, rashes, and hives. And of course, avoid really hot showers!

Dress in cotton (or silk) clothes, and as much as possible avoid colors like red, orange, yellow, and black. Gentle and mild colors help one to stay cool, especially blue, white, green, and purple. After dressing, you can do your worship or meditation practice if it is part of your routine.

Proper Foods

Pitta accumulates quickly from 10:00 AM on, so it's best to have a light breakfast early. Do not skip breakfast, as this may easily provoke pitta later in the morning. Oatmeal or cream of wheat with a little ghee are good options. You can also have fruit, but do not mix it with grains. Apples, dates, pears, melons, plums, and prunes are all cooling fruits. Avoid iced cold or hot drinks, since they reduce the permeability of the mucous membrane in the stomach and inhibit digestive enzymes, therefore slowing down the digestion. Iced drinks also contribute to receding gums. Room temperature drinks are a better choice.

Eat a light lunch, such as basmati rice and mung dal kitchari with cilantro, grated coconut, and ghee. In summer, dinner should not be late. The best time for dinner is between 6:00 and 7:00 PM, and definitely before sunset.

If you are not vegetarian, avoid dark meats (beef, pork, lamb) as much as possible, since they are very heating. Sour fruits should also be avoided, as well as citrus fruit, beets, carrots, garlic, onion, chilies and spicy seasonings, tomatoes, sour cream, and salted cheeses.

Good foods for summertime are asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cucumber, bitter melon, red lentil dal, and sweet potatoes. Of course, there are other foods that can be eaten in summer, but in general one should have more of the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes in food, because they pacify pitta.

Stay Cool & Keep Cool

Earth's kapha evaporates in the summer, so there is more dryness. In a similar way, kapha from the body evaporates through the sweat, bringing low energy. Summer fatigue is often a sign of excess pitta in the liver and a lack of kapha in the environment. This is why Ayurveda recommends avoiding excessive sunbathing or working under the hot sun, especially for people of pitta constitution.

If you must work under the sun, wear a hat and put some eucalyptus leaves (not oil) or sandalwood oil inside the hat. Wear sunglasses, but avoid red, yellow, blue, and purple sunglasses.

Red and yellow are pitta aggravating, and blue and purple attract the ultraviolet rays of the sun, which affect the retina and can cause cataracts.

Summer is the season of fire, and there is an increased tendency for arguments, yelling, and getting angry. It is better not to discuss any serious topics during the hot hours of the day, or during very hot days. If you need to make important decisions, do it in the morning or evening when it's cool.

A good drink before bedtime is cool milk (not refrigerated). Boil the milk first, then let it cool down, add a little rock candy or turbinado sugar, a few drops of rose water, and a few blanched almonds. This milk will decrease pitta, increase ojas (immunity), and induce sound sleep.

Another recommendation for staying cool is to rub coconut oil on the scalp and the soles of the feet before bedtime. You can also use castor oil on the soles of the feet and put one drop of castor oil in each eye to cool any burning sensation that is common in summer.

As much as possible, sleep on your right side to cool your system, and avoid excessive sexual activity. Jasmine flowers or roses in the bedroom also help keep pitta down.

General Recommendations

Try to stay cool after cooking. If you like working in the garden, do it in the early morning or in the evening. Keep your running, jogging or jumping routines light and during the early morning, so they do not provoke pitta. When thirsty, drink a glass of lemonade made with lime juice and a little rock candy or turbinado sugar. Carbonated water is okay for kapha, but not for vata constitutions. Avoid red wine, whiskey, brandy, or rum, as they are very heating.

Cooling pitta down is a good foundation for harmonious relationships and good health during the summer. Yet, it is important to remember that the imbalance of vata can also aggravate pitta (and kapha), since vata moves the other doshas in the body. So, you should decrease pitta during the summer, but you must not forget to keep an eye on vata as well. Therefore, therapies like abhyanga and shirodhara, as well as doing panchakarma at the change of season, are good preventative measures in the summer. You can find out more about these therapies through the side links.

Stay cool, stay healthy, and enjoy your summer!


Ayurveda & Yoga,
Sister Sciences for Health,
Peace and Longevity

Workshop with Vishnu Dass.

Learn Ayurvedic principles and how to integrate them into your yoga practice, as well as Ayurveda's approach to nutrition and rejuvenation, and self-healing with asana and mantra.
If you are a student of yoga or interested in improving your health, you shouldn't miss this workshop!

July 10th, 2:30 - 7:30 PM

Namaste Yoga and Healing Center
57 Broadway St. - Asheville, NC.
(828) 253-6985

Things to Do in Summer

* Eat a pitta-pacifying diet
* Get up early and go to bed by 11:00 PM
* Wear a hat and sunglasses
when outdoors
* Do daily massage with coconut
or sunflower oil
* Drink cooling digestive teas, such as CCF (cumin, coriander, fennel) tea
* Eat sweet, astringent and bitter foods
* Eat cooling, easy to digest meals,
such as kitchari and salads
* Apply coconut oil to feet and scalp before bedtime
* Do regular cooling pranayama, yoga and meditation

Things to Avoid in Summer

* Foods that increase pitta
* Excessive pungent, salty, or sour foods
* Iced cold drinks, as well as hot drinks
* Fasting or skipping meals
* Exposure to the sun in mid day
* Getting in arguments or serious
* Alcohol and other heating substances
* Excessive sexual activity

Cooling & Calming Drinks

Pitta Lassi:
Mix 3/4 cup of room temperature water with 1/4 cup of freshly home made yogurt, then squeeze in 1/4 of a lime, add a teaspoon of sugar or rock candy, and a pinch of cumin and coriander powder.

Cucumber Milk:
Grate 1/2 cucumber and mix it with 1/2 cup of boiled but cooled milk, one teaspoon of sugar or rock candy, and a pinch of cardamom powder.

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Fall Course 2004 - Level I

*Sept. 22 - Dec. 15*

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