Ayurvedic Guide to Staying Cool in Summer
Every season brings about subtle changes within our body, and in our home environments. Depending on your dosha, your experience with the summer season can vary considerably! In Ayurveda, lifestyle and dietary shifts are necessary to stay balanced and cool in the summer, and they can be personalized just for you. Here are some general tips to stay cool in the summertime, along with some tips specific to your dosha.
Staying Cool in Summer
Enjoy cooling herbs throughout the day such as mints, fennel and chamomile. Brew up a cup of tea, then let it cool to room temperature (or chill it slightly) to enjoy on a warm summer day.
Massage cooling oils such as sesame oil and sunflower oil on the soles of your feet.
Add cooling herbs and spices to your meals such as coconut flakes, cilantro or fennel seeds, especially if it is a spicier dish.
Scents: fill your space with aromatic and cooling scents like jasmine or rose.
Time your workouts to avoid exercising in the peak heat of the day.
Practice meditation to calm a frantic mind, or a gentle yoga pose. Reclined Goddess Pose can be helpful to cool the body down: Lie back on the floor, bending your knees and bringing the soles of your feet together. Let your knees drop down to the floor either side of you, and hold for as long as possible.
Cold water bottle for sleep: Fill your “hot water bottle” with cold water and place in the freezer an hour or so before bed. You can keep this near you while you’re sleeping to stay cool on warmer nights.
Quickly cool down by taking a mouthful of cold water. Hold it in your mouth for ten seconds.
Use a cooling body cloth (instructions below) if your upper body or head is feeling overheated, and especially after a workout to help you gradually cool down.
Not sure of your dosha? Take our dosha quiz
Summer Tips for Vata:
Vata dosha tends to be cool and dry, and is mainly influenced by water and air. In the summer, there are much higher levels of heat and sunshine, making the environment generally dryer. This may lead to an imbalance of vata for excess dryness, but be balancing in regards to internal temperature (warm balances cool!). Thus, vata dosha in the summer months may experience symptoms of excess dryness including dry, itchy skin, dry cough, or dryness in digestion such as constipation or irregular bowel movements.
Make sure to include things within your diet and lifestyle that are moistening and soothing to balance any excess dryness. This can include daily oil massages, water based activities like swimming, misting your skin and face often with hydrosols or light oils, and enjoying foods that are fresh, juicy and water rich!
Vata foods to enjoy in summer: Fresh fruits such as strawberries, peaches, blueberries, kiwis, watermelon, melons and tomatoes. If enjoying fresh greens, cook them well and add plenty of ghee or olive oil. Use oils such as ghee and coconut oil to cook with and drizzle oils such as hemp and olive oil over your meals (especially if they contain raw vegetables!). As always for vata dosha, maintain a regular eating and drinking routine to support a healthy digestion.
Tea for Vata: Detox Tea: enjoy morning, afternoon or evening with your meals to balance digestion.
Summer Tips for Pitta:
The pitta dosha is predominantly influenced by fire and water elements, and is usually full of energy, strength and discipline. In the summer, pitta is the dosha that is most affected due to the increase in heat, as this exacerbates the already fiery nature of pitta. They may experience increased ‘hot’ conditions such as heartburn, high blood pressure, fevers and skin rashes. You may also notice a change in their temperament, becoming more irritated, angry and frustrated in the ‘heat of the moment’. The key is to keep them cool and calm.
For the summer pitta, keep your spaces cool and comfortable and avoid clothing that is too constrictive or scratchy. It’s important to help the body clear excess levels of heat through efficient detoxification practices such as dry brushing, drinking plenty of water and herbal teas, and keeping your diet light, fresh and colorful to encourage liver detoxification.
Pitta foods to enjoy in summer: Pitta’s tend to have quite a bit of heat and “agni” (digestive fire) already, so in summer keep foods light and fresh. Foods with a sweet, bitter and drying taste are generally considered to be more cooling in their nature. Pitta’s are also the only dosha that can efficiently digest raw or cold foods, so foods such as fresh salad are perfect for the fiery pitta during the warm summer months. Avoid foods that generate heat such as spicy, salty and sour foods.
Tea for Pitta: Three Mint tea is perfect for pitta in summer for it’s cooling, refreshing and hydrating qualities. Enjoy slightly chilled throughout the day.
Summer Tips for Kapha
Earth and water elements found in kapha mean that they are most aggravated in cold and damp environments, but generally kapha dosha find balance in the warm and dry summer season. This is the season where a balanced kapha dosha may feel more energized. If the weather takes an unexpected turn for the cold and damp, an increase in kapha is possible and means a decrease in energy and a tendency towards becoming more reclusive. Kapha’s might find that there is a tendency to sleep during the day, or comfort eat. This is especially notable if a kapha dosha is traveling quite a bit during the summer. To stay cool and balanced, keep your routines consistent, enjoy movement outdoors for physical exercise to create a level of internal heat, and increase warming, drying and stimulating foods.
Kapha foods to enjoy in summer: Increasing naturally bitter, drying and spicy foods will help heat up the digestion and remove any built-up cold and damp congestion from the winter months. Tend towards warming and drying meals such as curries with summer vegetables, and add ginger, fennel and turmeric spices on any dish!
Tea for Kapha: Revitalize tea is naturally balanced for kapha in summer with it’s gently warming, moving and invigorating blend of cinnamon, elderflower and spearmint.
For any dosha in the summer season, try enjoying your herbal teas at room temperature or slightly chilled for a refreshing and hydrating treat anytime of day. Time your workouts for when you’re feeling light, cool and energized (this may be a very different exercise time than, say, your winter workouts!), and limit caffeine intake if you’re feeling an increase in internal heat. Although it won’t affect everyone, caffeine can often increase your heart rate thanks to its stimulant effect, making some feel warmer. Instead opt for a mug of energizing Mint Matcha Green or Three Mint tea to avoid an excessive caffeine hit yet still experience a pick me up.
Nurture: A cooling neck, face or shoulder cloth
Mints are filled with essential oils that contain calming and cooling qualities. You probably notice that the aroma of mints are fresh, vibrant and cool, and when made into a tea, you can experience these same qualities. Fieldmint, spearmint and peppermint make up our delicious Three Mint tea - the star ingredient of this cooling summer body cloth.
In a medium sized bowl, steep two tea bags of Three Mint Tea in warm water for 10 minutes, covered. Remove the cover and tea bags from the water, and add a handful of ice cubes. Place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, until the liquid is chilled. Soak a cloth or towel in the chilled mint tea, wring out the excess water, and place it on your shoulders, forehead, or neck when you’re feeling overheated. Repeat as needed, and keep the chilled tea to re-use for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
Author: Lindsay Kluge
Herbal Educator, Pukka Herbs US
Lindsay is a clinical herbalist and nutritionist with a passion for bringing plants and people together. Through her work as a teacher and practitioner, she is passionate about helping people feel empowered in their health through community organic gardening, health education, and connection with nature. She has worked in clinical practiced with naturopathic doctors and MD’s alike, bridging the gap between alternative and conventional medicine to bring comprehensive, research based botanical medicine to her local communities. With an undergraduate degree in horticulture and a Masters in herbal medicine, plants are Lindsay's love language. She currently serves as the herbal educator for Pukka Herbs in the US, and teaches clinical nutrition at her alma mater, the Maryland University of Integrative Health. She is a guest lecturer at herbal medicine schools and conferences throughout the US.
MS Herbal Medicine
Years of Experience:
10+ years as a clinical herbalist and nutritionist practitioner