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"The spirit is the true self, not that physical figure which can be pointed out by your finger."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman statesman & philosopher

Keeping Your Cool in Summer

By Renee Riviera on 10 July 2012

Itʼs summer, schoolʼs out, the days are longer and itʼs time for fun in the sun. If you arenʼt careful, this season can surely burn you out. So here are a few Summer guidelines, to keep you cool during this season.

The universe is our home. It is part and parcel of our external body. The seasons are akin to rooms in our home. Each room has its own particular protocol. The kitchen is for cooking, not for bathing. The bathroom is for bathing, not eating. In the same way, there are certain protocols for each of the 6 seasons per Ayurveda.

Following these protocols will keep your health in balance and your body will thank you. These protocols consist of diet and lifestyle management.

Heat and Dryness. These two words describe the effects of summer upon our planet. Just look at nature and see the effects. Do you notice the hills become more dry, brown from the heat? Some plants might become wilted in the summer heat. The moisture is gone. In the same manner, nature affects our bodies as well. The moisture is gone from our joints and skin. Our joints become more dry and make cracking noises and our skin becomes more dry and rough. Our hair is more brittle. The dry heat is drying up our body.

How do you counteract this heat and dryness of summer? With the moisture and the unctousness of oil and the sweetness of certain foods.

Hydrate with elixirs and juices such as grape, melon, mango, pomegranate, cucumber and coconut. Water can be a liability is not the ultimate answer to hydration. The answer is to balance the heat and dryness through oil and sweetness.
On the Wholefoods Page you can find an ayurvedic recipe for a very nice and cooling Rose summer drink.

Why oil?
Oil counteracts the drying out factor. How to take in the oil? By applying oil to the body in self-massage called abhyanga. You can have abhyanga done professionally by an ayurvedic practitioner and have the steam treatment afterwards so the properties of the oils to become absorbed by all the different layers of tissue in the body. Or you can apply the oil all over the body on a daily basis. Long and broad strokes on the long bones and circular motion around the joints. Depending on your metabolic constitution, sesame oil and coconut oil are good choices. Heat the oil beforehand to body temperature as warm oil is more easily absorbed by the body.

Oils can also be found in foods such as avocado and coconut which would be excellent choices for this time of year. Ghee or clarified butter is also a wonderful elixir as ghee increases the digestive power and pacifies the heat of the body.

The sweet taste also helps to balance out the heat and dryness. Foods such as wheat, basmati rice, fresh sweet corn, oats, chapati and milk are filled with sweetness. Although milk should always be heated before drinking. Cold milk is like a wet blanket on a campfire - it snuffs it out. The agni or digestive fire is an important concept in Ayurveda. Sweet fruits such as sweet mango, pomegranate, dates and plums are excellent choices.

Now the hard part - the foods to avoid during this season: Say no to sour foods such as fermented breads, yoghurt, vinegar, and citrus fruit. Pineapple and papayas are considered hot in nature and would further dry out your body. Watermelon is considered very drying to the body (despite its watery content) and is therefore not recommended. Sesame and peanuts should be avoided in summer as they are heating. Tomatoes, alcohol and chocolate increase the heat factor and should be avoided as well.

Things to do: We have enough of Father sun during summer and thus we need to soften that sharpness with the cool, nourishing softness of our Mother moon. We can do this by walking in the moonlight or just simply observing the moon. Being quiet within and taking in the sweet and cooling elixir of the moon.

Renee Rivera is an RN, Yoga Teacher at the University of California San Francisco, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, involved in research with Breast Cancer and Yoga, Depression and Yoga, teaches chair yoga, therapeutic yoga for cancer and gentle healing yoga. She is also an Ayurvedic Practitioner, teaches Primordial Sound Meditation and Perfect Health. Check out her FaceBook page Chitta Happens for more delicious summer recipes and tips. More information can be found on her website www.ChittaHappens.com