With the world’s hottest days being reported this summer in Dubai, it’s no wonder UAE residents are complaining more than ever this year. But the traditional Indian science of Ayurveda can help, says Dr. Divya Menon, Medical Director at Swasthya Ayurveda Dubai.
“From an Ayurvedic perspective, summer is dominated by the fiery energy of pitta – which is one of the three components of a person’s mind-body constitution. Everyone has some degree of pitta which regulates body temperature, metabolism, willpower, intelligence, and discrimination,” he says. “Pitta is associated with fire, and can tend to overheat during the intense summer if left unattended.” Here are her top 5 tips on how to get through the rest of the summer.
1. Cool Down
To keep pitta from firing up during these hot months, think cool and cool down – in every sense of the word. Start with your intake of food. What’s the first thing you reach for on a hot summer day — a cool lemonade or fresh juice? Our bodies instinctively know that cool drinks and cool foods help balance pitta and replenish fluid levels in the body. Enjoy plenty of freshly-blended fruit juices and nectars at room temperature; grapes, sweet pineapple and watermelon are refreshing choices. Avoid carbonated drinks, because they slow down digestion. Stay hydrated and tank up on at least 2-3 litres of water every day.
2. Cool Water
After returning home from a humid and hot day outdoors, your body is begging for a rejuvenating and cleansing shower. However, before you jump into your usual hot and steamy shower, make sure to adjust the temperature. Excess heat and steam can irritate or inflame naturally glowing skin. According to Ayurveda, the pitta dosha gives skin its glow, but too much pitta can turn that glow to an unwanted inflamed and puffy red. Since summer is dominated by pitta, you’re better off stepping under a cool shower to restore balance and revitalize your inner chill.
3. Cool Foods
Keep your pitta in balance by eating regular and balanced meals. Stewed apples and pears with some sweet cooked cereal is a breakfast good option, while lunch can include two or three servings of vegetables, whole grains, lentils and fresh cheese. A glass of buttermilk flavored with cooling mint and cilantro goes perfectly with lunch. Dinner should be light. Minimize yogurt, sour cream, citrus fruits and spicy foods like cayenne. Also avoid vegetables with heating properties such as tomatoes, hot peppers, radishes, onions, garlic and spinach. Cook with cooling spices such as fennel, mint and coriander, and reduce hot spices such as dried ginger and mustard seed.
4. Slow Flow
A bit of stretching and twisting works wonders after a heated day in the intense desert summer. The asanas or poses that best balance your pitta are those that are calming and not overly heating, such as sidebends, twists, and wide-legged standing and seated poses. Make sure you sit down for a few deep breaths before you start, and follow it up with 2 rounds of sun salutations if you practice yoga. Forward bends are very cooling, and for those who just want to relax – try Vipareet Karani (lie down on your back and put your legs up against a wall at 90 degrees) or Shavasana (lie on your back with arms and legs completely relaxed).
The intense effects of the soaring temperature makes it a good time to indulge in a massage. Opt for a hydrating skin massage, possibly using natural ingredients. Ayurveda draws on ancient beauty secrets of using sandalwood which is known to gently lower body temperature improving mental clarity, and thus being immensely relaxing to the mind and body. If you’re pressed for time and can’t make it to the clinic, play some relaxing music for yourself and a soothing massage prior to your shower. Keep a few moments every day to bring your body and mind to a place of cool and calm.