Ayurveda tells us that our bodies don’t exist in isolation to the external world. They are, instead, a part of it, integrated with it, and depend on it for our health and well being. In this age, however, we live in such a separate state from nature that we’ve forgotten the natural and instinctual ways in which to nourish ourselves. The seasons play a big part on how life is governed on earth and they serve to inform us on what changes need to be made in our diets and lifestyle. Different seasons bring about an increase in different elements. They also bring about different crops from the earth; these crops are meant to be consumed in order to nourish us and also to safeguard us against the harsher aspects of the season. The guidelines and observances for seasons are known as Rithucharya (Rithu – seasons, Charya – disciplines) or seasonal disciplines. In south Africa the seasons take on more or less the following dates:
- Summer – 1 December to 29th February
- Autumn – 1 March to 31 May
- Winter – 1 June to 31 August
- Spring – 1 September to 30th November
Because we are now in Summer (Ghrishma Rithu), here are some tips and guidelines to follow until the 29th February:
Most of us need to balance the fire element (we will talk more about this as the Intro to Ayurveda course progresses) in the summer regardless of our constitution. Our digestive fire is naturally low during summer and we often experience a decrease in appetite. We should respect this change by eating in moderation. Our bodies will want more liquids when it is hot. But even though we find it refreshing and satisfying to drink cold water and cool fruit beverages at this time, we must take care not to douse the digestive fire by drinking ice cold liquids during or after meals.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day, as it helps in flushing out all the toxic matter from the body. About seventy percent of our body is made up of water, thus it is necessary to keep ourselves hydrated. Water is the major carrier of blood and oxygen to different organs of the body. It nourishes the red blood cells by providing them with nutrients.
What to eat
This is the time of year for sweet, light, cold, mineral-rich food. Eat lots of herbs and drink lots of fruit juices. Seek out antioxidants. Eat fruits like watermelon, peaches, plums, mangoes, grapes, pears, avocado and berries. Use vegetables like – Asparagus, cucumber, cabbage, sweet potato, celery, green leafy vegetables.
Greasy and junk food:
Avoid food that is greasy, oily, and fried. The food that contains lot of spices and pungent taste should be kept away. Do not consume stale or leftover food, as they contain harmful bacteria. Eat fresh food that is cooked just an hour before.
Cut down certain drinks:
Cut down the intake of coffee, tea, or carbonated drinks. Minimize the consumption of alcohol during summers. Carbonated drink contains acids that make your more dehydrated. Even the caffeine in coffee triggers dehydration in your body.
Work and stress management:
Remember during summer, the fire and water element is high in the nature. Take care to avoid strenuous or stressful activity between 10am and 2pm. (when the sun is at its peak and the atmosphere is the warmest)
The fire element is highest in the body during this time which means we are usually prone to a higher temper. If you are planning an office or business meeting that is foreseeably stressful then take care to schedule it during the cooler times of the day. (early morning or late afternoon)
Take care to have your biggest meal in the day during lunch as the digestive fire will be heightened due to the effect of the sun during this time and skipping a meal will be sure to get the stress levels up (especially for people with a fire temperament).
Recommended Ayurvedic treatments
Abhyanga: This season is drying, so keeping your skin moisturized is a must.
Shirodhara: Shirodhara is a deeply relaxing therapy that involves a steady stream of warm oil that is poured onto the forehead. This blissful treatment is perfect for the chaotic state that fire and air can bring to the mind.