In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means 'The Science of Life'. It is one of the worlds oldest holistic healing systems and focuses on promoting health rather than treating illness.
Ayurvedic practice changes with the season - in the summer months, traditional Ayurvedic yoga practice calms, slows and cools the body. Breath is simple and cooling and foods are light and hydrating.
It is thought that summer is the season of the Pitta dosha. Pitta is characterised by hot and fiery temperaments and can be emphasised by hot summers. In response to the heat, Ayurveda aims to calm, sooth and cool through yoga. This isn't the season to flow quickly, practice power yoga or build a sweat. Instead it is a time to hold postures longer, practice yin or restorative yoga and target areas where heat and stress accumulate. Areas such as the liver which can benefit twists and side body openers.
Slow and simple breathing practices cool the mind and body. Sheetali (or curled tongue breath) and Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) both promote cooling, calming and grounding feelings and are the perfect pranayama techniques to practice in the summer.
Food is another essential area to focus in order to balance the body. Below are some simple guidelines to follow that will align your eating with the summer season:
Eat seasonally - what is fresh in your local grocers is likely to be grown locally, have travelled less distance and be more nutritious
Eat vegetables and fruits that have a high water content - melons, cucumbers, and leafy greens
Keep it simple - if you dont need to cook then dont! Save yourself some time and eat raw
Keep it light - save the heavy stews and soups for the cooler ones and fill up on salads and seasonal vegetables
Keep hydrated - water is the best and you can flavour it with berries or cucumbers
Herbs and spices which reduce the pitta dosha are mint, fennel, cumin and coriander.