India has been hit by a heat wave this year. Even before I landed in the middle of May, my mother-in-law was concerned about how I would deal with 114 degrees Fahrenheit. She wondered how the hot weather would impact my travels within the country and my overall health.
Forget the body, I was worried how the intense Indian summer would impact my mind. Ayurveda reminds us that our mind and body are connected. Meaning, I am predominantly pitta prakruti, so summer isn’t my best friend. The tiksna guna, or “sharp” quality, as well as usna, the “hot” quality, in my personality can be detrimental when summer heat accumulates in my mind-body. Think irritability, stomach issues, warm body temperature, rosy cheeks, burning digestion, sharp tongue, heat rashes etc. Plus, I knew I had a hectic schedule ahead of me that would make eating, sleeping, resting very erratic. And I am a creature of habit and daily routine.
The time in India was going to be emotional on many levels. I had to curate diet and lifestyle practices to make sure my pitta dosha didn’t get aggravated, and that I didn’t burn out and fall sick. I was going to be with friends and family during the day and taking care of my father who was recovering. I was also supposed to be working U.S. hours at my job, attending school at 4 a.m., and seeing clients in the wee hours. I was also going to be dividing my time between hospital visits in one city and spending time with my in-laws in another. All this movement and unplanned schedule can completely imbalance vata dosha as well.
Aside from religiously wearing sunscreen, here are the seven things I did to take care of myself:
Took Ayurvedic herbs: I took pitta-pacifying Ayurvedic herbs to cool, cleanse, and purify my body. Spicy foods, hot weather, fried goodies etc. can very quickly imbalance pitta dosha. Herbs like manjistha (blood-purifying herb) and neem (anti-inflammatory) worked well for me. But please consult an Ayurvedic practitioner before you start taking any Ayurvedic herbs.
Drank no alcohol: In today’s world, alcohol is considered a part of the social fabric. Unfortunately, I can no longer be defined as a social drinker even though I am an extrovert who recharges around people. I don’t feel the need for wine or hard liquor to lower any inhibitions; I have fun wherever I am. And I drink less than occasionally and never when it’s scorching hot. The “sour taste” in alcohol can increase pitta in the body. Fermented foods and beverages like wine, kombucha, and hard liquor can increase pitta. What does that look like? Cantankerousness. Skin eruptions. Agitated mind. Heartburn.
Practiced cooling pranayama: I have a daily pranayama practice, which I almost never miss. But to keep the heat down in the mind and body, I did sitali pranayama. Sitali cools the body, adds moisture to the system, and soothes a pitta imbalance. In addition, this practice reduces fatigue, bad breath, fevers, and high blood pressure. Once again, always learn pranayama from a trained yoga teacher to get the technique right and to understand if it’s suitable for you.
Avoided unpleasant interactions: For me, family is very important, so I am connected deeply with both my cousins and those on my husband’s side. That said, every family has whiners, and every friend circle has that one person who mostly sees the glass as half empty. I avoided the lot of Negative Nellies like the plague. I was explicitly clear with both my dad and in-laws that I want to avoid engaging with XYZ folks who bring the energy down because that can be depleting.
Made time for myself: Summer and/or travels can be busy. You see many people and there are several stimulating experiences. It’s easy to get caught up in going from one thing to another. Stop. Pause. Take a deep breath. There were nights when I went to bed at 9pm. There were mornings I sipped masala chai while staring at the plants. Creating “me-time” is extremely important as it helps to reflect and respond instead of reacting.
Spritzed rose water: I always carry a small bottle of organic rose water. Every time that you feel heated up (internally or externally), or if the skin feels like it’s burning, close your eyes and liberally spray rose water all over your face. Rose is a cooling herb, and it balances pitta.
Stayed hydrated: At first, it might feel like the obvious thing to say. But hear me out. When I say hydrated, I mean … drink room temperature or warm water, not cold water or iced sodas. Iced drinks and chilled water dampen agni, which is the digestive fire. I prefer warm water, but if that feels like too much in the heat, stick to room temperature beverages but not ice cold.
With global warming and our busy lives, it’s difficult to curate travels during the perfect season. Is there a perfect season anymore given that spring in New York requires us to wear jackets? But if you live mindfully, it’s easier to navigate life and maintain good health, without depending on seasons.
“No medicine can compensate for un-healthy living.” ~ Renu Chaudhary
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are nursing, taking medications, or have a medical condition, please consult with your health care practitioner prior to the use of any of these herbs. If you are looking for advice from a trained yogi and Ayurvedic coach, contact me here.