Give yourself permission to cool down—your body will thank you, now and later.

In my twenties, I lived on an island in North Carolina. Natives of hot islands and warmer countries know instinctually that summer is supposed to be a time to slow down. Instead, many of us burn through summer at a hundred miles per hour so that by these end-of-summer, August weeks, our body and mind are a little burned-out.

As a true lover of summer, and a teacher and practitioner of yoga and Ayurveda, I’ve learned some ways to cool down so that this burned-out feeling doesn’t translate into some not-so-welcome heat ailments in my body and mind: swollen joints, itchy skin rashes, and mental exhaustion among them.

Ayurveda, or “the Science of Life,” offers a means to stay radiantly healthy if we tune into some elemental principles. Ayurveda’s wisdom comes from understanding that everything living—i.e., foods, nature, our body, even seasons—is made up of some combination of the five elements: air, ether, fire, water, and earth.

The naturally high element of fire in summer must be balanced with some techniques and foods that help keep us cool and energized. Many of summer’s bountiful fruits, vegetables, and herbs are considered cooling—berries, cucumbers, and basil for example. Two foods that keep us cool and balanced are limes and mint. Drink water with lime daily to balance heat. And blend up one of my favorite smoothies that can help to cleanse the heat that accumulates into ailments.

Combine two fresh, peeled peaches (or mango) with coconut water, half a squeezed lime, a dash of turmeric, and mint for a smoothie that contains anti-inflammatory properties to combat joint issues, digestive problems, and exhaustion. Milk thistle tea is another drink that cools inflamed digestive tracks and is known for its liver-healing properties. I like to brew the tea, add a little sweetener, let it cool, and enjoy.

Give yourself permission to slow down for these next few weeks. Look for ways to incorporate restful self-care into your day. In summer, I like to practice a more restorative form of yoga with meditation, and spend some daily time outdoors, preferably around water. Look at your daily routine for places you can par down and incorporate some activities that nourish you: an evening walk, daily meditation, yoga, a garden, or even some firefly catching with the kids.

Slowing down and nourishing yourself can mean the difference between weight loss, lower blood pressure, less inflammation and greater energy—and/or a lifetime of chronic disease. Take it from an ex island girl—slowing down and cooling off will help these last days of summer feel like a sweet Caribbean breeze.

 

— Christa is a E-RYT 500 trained teacher of yoga and Ayurveda. She runs Jala Yoga, with two locations in Shepherdstown (WV) and one location in Winchester (VA). With 15 years of experience behind her, she teaches both public classes, as well as the longest-running teacher training in the area. For more information visit the above link, Like Jalayoga on Facebook, or email jalayoga.christa@gmail.com.

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