Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda are two modalities deep rooted in the ancient philosophy that we are seasonal and cyclical beings composed of the natural elements. In order to create more harmony and balance in our minds and bodies for overall well-being TCM and Ayurveda recommend living according to the seasons including our diet, lifestyle habits and exercise. The two practices gracefully intertwine in their approach to well-being and restoring balance to our entire energetic systems.
In Chinese Medicine, summer is governed by the fire element and is represented by the colour red. It is a time where we naturally feel drawn to be active and more social. The emotion associated with summer and the fire element is happiness and joy, therefore to be aligned with this season we need to be tending to our sense of satisfaction and contentment. It is also a great time to spend pursuing our goals and dreams. All this is facilitated by the warmer weather and longer days.
According to Ayurveda summer is known as the ‘Pitta’ season. Pitta is a combination of fire and water elements and in this season with increased Pitta (heat), it can lead to a disharmony in our mind and body. The qualities of Pitta are sharp, oily and hot. Our skin is related to Pitta this season is when skin irritations can arise, so rashes, acne, psoriasis & eczema. This is also the season when inflammation (heat in the body) can increase and as a result we can experience acid reflux or heartburn. Feelings of irritation, control, jealousy and anger are more prominent over this Pitta season.
In Ayurveda like increases like, so we don’t want to increase this heat in the body we want to cultivate more cooling habits and implement more cooling foods, herbs and spices. Here are our tips below to live more in harmony with the summer season and restore balance to our bodies and mind:
Succulent fruits and brightly coloured leafy vegetables are around during summer, perfectly reflecting the principle of abundance, expansion and growth at this time. Eating with the seasons is an important part of Chinese Nutrition. In Summer, the foods which we eat should be of a cold and cool nature. Listen to your body. It is the best indicator for you to determine what you should eat and should not eat.
During summer, it can be particularly difficult to digest and assimilate foods, especially warm natured and heavy food. These should be avoided. Foods that support and nourish the heart and small intestine are generally red coloured foods such as berries, tomatoes, capsicum, beetroot; grains such as quinoa and other foods like pine nuts, chestnuts, lychees, longan, passionfruit, watermelon and adzuki beans.
Tomatoes are perfectly suited to eating during the hot weather. They are regarded as ‘cool’ in nature as they clear heat and promote digestion. Tomatoes strengthen the stomach, calm the liver and are excellent for sufferers of high blood pressure, mouth sores and dizziness. Their red colour has allowed the Chinese to use them for many centuries to promote their health. In recent years, science has discovered they lycopene the substance that makes tomatoes red, can provide protection against heart disease.
- Meals should be smaller and foods need to be lighter.
- Favour sweet, bitter & astringent tastes.
- Best time of year to enjoy smoothies, salads & fresh fruit.
- Avoid spicy foods, red meat, processed and fried foods.
- Eat lots of watermelon.
- Avoid iced drinks or foods (deplete our agni-digestive fire).
- Add in more cooling foods such as fennel, cucumber, coconuts, mint, coriander & parsley.
- Eat your meals mindfully (really savour each bite) and wait for 10 minutes before going to the next task or activity.
- Abhyanga (Ayurvedic self-massage) with coconut or sunflower oil in the morning before bathing.
- Strengthening the immune system should be part of any season ritual. Any tonic formula that strengthens the essence, nourishes qi and regulates the heart is appropriate.
- Pitta times of the day are at 10am-2pm and then from 10pm-2am (so make sure to be in bed by latest 9.30pm otherwise you’ll get that ‘second wind’).
- Meditation & calming breath work. Deep breaths over shallow breathing.
- Favour restful and rejuvenating activities and not overdo, overwork or push ourselves.
- This is a great time of year to exercise, but avoid during peak time of day 10am-2pm, early morning is best.
- Begin practising Yoga to soothe the mind, tone the body and release heat from the body.
- Add in twists in your Yoga practice, which act as detoxifiers.
- Avoid running during this time, which can aggravate our joints and create more inflammation.
- Take up soothing walks with peaceful music or along the water.
Bella Rothel has immersed herself in all things wellness, nutrition, mindfulness and holistic health for the past 6 years and is currently studying Naturopathy and Ayurveda after her own health issues and is committed to equipping herself and others with the knowledge and tools to restore our bodies back to balance, harmony and complete vitality. This year she will be going to India to further her passion and knowledge of Ayurveda and to delve even deeper into the wisdom that is Ayurveda.