8 Ayurvedic Tips for the Late Summer
by Shama Sara Palmer
What beautiful summer days we’ve been having! And how lovely to wake up this morning to the freshness of summer rain. It reminded me that we are in late summer already – and that means autumn is now approaching.
I think actually we all start to feel it in our bones, don’t we, at this time of year? The mornings and evenings are a little cooler, and already the sun is setting a little earlier each day.
Ayurveda pays particular attention to the rhythms of the seasons and invites us to adapt our diet and lifestyle, physical and mental activities accordingly. The ancients could see that all the various aspects of creation move together in intricate interdependence. Every aspect of life knows how to act in coordination with the whole of life, for the good of the whole. Most of us humans, however, have lost that sense of interdependence.
A major part of treatment for restoring health and balance to body, mind and soul in ayurveda is to realign once more with these cosmic rhythms, to act once more in coordination with the whole. Ayurveda can be translated as ayu, life, and veda, knowledge or understanding. And so, implementing ayurveda is to bring us back to that understanding of life, of how things work in the universe, the nature of things – and how to reclaim a life attuned to the nature of things.
Adapting our daily lives to the rhythms of the seasons plays a big part in this re-alignment of body, mind and soul. This means that once we get into the habit of thinking and living once more as part of the whole, acting in alignment with nature rather than struggling to sustain an unnatural way of life, we find ayurveda is actually extremely simple and constitutes much common sense. We just need to start thinking that way again; to build the awareness and attunement again to the rhythms of nature of which we are indeed a part.
Below are 8 simple tips that you might want to implement this month, to help set you on the way. Firstly, however, let’s take a brief look at ayurveda and its perspective on the late summer months.
In ayurveda we say that the vata dosha (a humour comprised of air and ether elements) is already beginning to rise before the vata-dominated autumn season begins. When that vata dosha is elevated in the environment, in nature, and in our climate, we need to antidote it in our lifestyle and diet so that it doesn’t become elevated in our bodies and minds. Signs of an aggravated vata dosha are increased dryness internally and externally, such as constipation or dry stools, dry skin and hair, or restlessness including nervousness, increased insomnia and worry.
An important key is to start to implement the antidote before that dosha’s season sets in. This means that the time to implement vata-pacifying remedies is right now. Prevention is easier than cure! Once we apply the antidotes to the seasons, we start to experience more of a sense of well-being and peace of mind.
Work less or take a break from work for a few days or a week if you can – or even better, for the rest of the month.
Do something nurturing each day
Take time to pause with a good book, go for a gentle walk in nature, or spend time with friends who are easy to be with.
Eat local seasonal summer foods
Make use of the plentiful summer squash, or stew the seasonal fruits that are so plentiful at this time of year with a little cinnamon for an afternoon snack.
Practice yogic breathing
Practice gentle yogic breathing for 5 minutes on waking: breathe quietly with eyes closed and an equal and regular inhale and exhale, perhaps counting 4 count inhales and exhales. Or, if you are familiar with it, practice alternate nostril breathing. This is great for pacifying vata dosha, and any yoga teacher should be able to show you how to do it if you are not familiar.
Spend a little time each day in yoga nidra, deep relaxation or meditation.
Exercise daily, but do so in a way which is gentler so as not to create too much heat – and therefore possibly more dryness – in the body.
Keep regularity in your daily schedule
Rise early and do a gentle breath-focused yoga posture practice. Sleep by 10pm and eat regular meals. As far as possible, keep a routine that is a little less busy than usual.
Put time aside to reorganise, clean out and tidy your cupboards, files and drawers
Decide what to keep, and what you can now let go of and discard. This is a time when nature is reorganising and preparing for the transition to autumn. Spending time in similar activities helps us to attune to this natural rhythm.
I wish you happy and peaceful late summer days and nights. I’d love to know how you get on with these August tips. Look out for more ayurveda seasonal tips as we journey through the year.
Shama Sara Palmer, Ayurveda Nutrition & Lifestyle Practitioner, Yoga teacher, Yoga Therapist
About the author
Based in Warwickshire, UK, Shama Sara Palmer has travelled around the world, living in various ashrams to immerse in and live fully the teachings of ayurveda and yoga. She has been teaching traditional hatha yoga for nearly 15 years, and has been studying and implementing the teachings of ayurveda into her yoga teaching and daily life for 10 years. More recently, she qualified as an ayurveda practitioner and now offers 1-1 consultations. She teach Ayurveda-Hatha Yoga retreats and Ayurveda Living courses.
Visit www.loveyogahealing.com for more details and to contact Shama.