Self Care in the Summer Season – by Katie McDonald Johnson
June signifies the official start to summer with the Summer Solstice, although in our NC climate most of us make the shift around Memorial Day when the temperatures consistently stay hot, the air humid, and the graduation ceremonies and dance recitals signal the culmination of a school year. Within yoga and Ayurveda (the Vedic wisdom of a holistic medical system and sister science to yoga), Summer aligns with Pitta dosha. This is characterized by the qualities of hot, sharp, oily, bright, and penetrating. So, as Janis Joplin so soulfully crooned, we should adapt to the seasonal shift with the mindset of “Summertime…and the living’s easy.”
Here are a few of my favorite daily Summer rituals (rtucharya) I have adopted on my student path with my Ayurveda teacher, Maria Garre, and Shiva Rea- the creatress of Prana Vinyasa Flow yoga and guru of living in rhythm.
Slow down: schedule fewer activities, reduce time spent in physical labor (think Spring garden prep- allow the strong Summer sun to take over and bring the plants into abundance) especially between the hottest hours of the day. Savor the beauty of nature, take time off to cultivate love in your relationships and for yourself.
Be a morning person! Wake with the sun, hydrate with warm water, spend the morning hours outside in meditation if this is something you enjoy. Make a large pitcher of herbal infused water (mint and/or basil are my personal favorites) to sip throughout the day.
Eat lighter: fruits that are full of watery goodness like watermelon, mango, and blueberries. Enjoy astringent greens like arugula and endive, and vegetables that begin to mature in the garden such as okra, zucchini, and broccoli. Simple salads with a bit of olive oil and lime juice are very appealing in the Summer. Lunch becomes the largest meal of the day and a time to spend the most heated hours of the day inside lovingly preparing your meal and digesting it with a bit of tea.
Immerse yourself in water: Pond, lake, river, pool (preferably saltwater) or ocean…embody the fluid, meandering, smoothing quality of water by being near it.
Coconut! Drink coconut water for replenishment and massage yourself with coconut oil (the practice of Abhyanga) before a shower.
Cultivate Sringara and Shanti Rasa: The essences of love, gratitude, and peace. Enjoy flowing, fluid yoga practices, gentle walks, and restorative physical activity.
Connect deeply with the moon: she will replenish and nourish with gentle moonbeams and Soma (nectar). Chant Om Somayayai Namaha- “I bow to the essence of Soma”.
Go to bed cool and refreshed: take a relaxing bath or shower before getting in bed and oil the feet with coconut oil.
Enjoy the longer days, time spent in the shade, the sweetness of fruits ripened in the sun, and peaceful regenerative moments with loved ones. Cultivate gratitude to balance the hot-tempered quality of Pitta. With love from my heart to yours…Katie
Thank you to my sources of never-ending knowledge on Yoga and Ayurveda: Carson Efird, Maria Garre, and Shiva Rea. Read more about living in rhythm in Shiva’s book, “Tending the Heart Fire.” Namaste!