Beat The Heat The Natural Way!
This is the time when Mother Nature undergoes a transformation yet again, the greenery, coolness and freshness of spring gradually making way for the sharp onset of the harsh, ruthless summer. Yet this is also one of the most picturesque times of the year, as the gulmohar tree starts bursting forth in all its glory, its orange-red flowers aflame. And the frangipani too starts to bloom, its fragrant white-yellow beauties shyly clustering together, adorning city parks, gardens and bustling streets. This is Grishma ritu (the summer season) lasting from mid-May to mid-July, the months of Jyeshthaa and Aashaadha. It is one of the three seasons which fall in the Uttarayana period of the sun’s journey as it moves North. The sun’s rays now start getting hotter and hotter and dryness in the air increases, which can lead to lethargy, dehydration, lack of energy and a feeling of weakness and exhaustion. Correspondingly the moon’s strength becomes more and more feeble.
Ayurveda says ...
According to Ayurveda, the 5000 year-old science of life, the three doshas (humors) in the body, vata (wind), pitta (bile) and kapha (phlegm), keep changing according to the season. This is the time when the kapha dosha which had accumulated in the body during winter starts to mitigate, as the sun’s heat becomes more powerful. Vata tends to increase due to the dryness in the air. The body starts losing its oily softness and becomes increasingly dry.
From Mother Nature’s kitchen!
It is obvious that in summer particularly, meals should be light, balanced, slightly oily and easily digestible. Opt for a healthy breakfast of fruit – binge all you want on papayas, guavas, chickoos and lots more. Green leafy salads, comprising tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, a wee bit of onion and garnished with a sprig of fresh coriander or mint, topped off with a tangy dash of lemon are cooling as well as nutritious. Grains like chana (gram), moong (green gram) and moath (lentils) sprout very well and quickly too in this weather, so including sprouts at meal-times is a good idea. Old rice, daliya (broken wheat porridge), rice kheer (pudding) are other healthy options. Dinner should ideally be eaten at least three hours prior to bedtime. Lessening the intake of tea and coffee is good, though it’s even more beneficial to exclude them altogether.
Go for Gold – Keeping ‘naturally’ COOL!
Nature’s abundance is truly magnificent! One has so many healthy options – juicy fruits, tangy-sweet kokum (one of the mangosteen family) sherbet, sweet and cool drinks such as fresh fruit juices, particularly fresh pomegranate juice, sattu (mixture of ground pulses and cereals), ghee, milk, lassi (curd shake), buttermilk and mattha (spiced buttermilk). Grape juice, sugarcane juice and aam panha (green mango drink) are also very welcome in this weather, being naturally cooling as well as refreshing. Awla (Indian gooseberry) juice, lemon juice, gulkand (rose petals marinated in sugar), green coconut water and giloe (heartleaf moonseed) are extremely favourable in these months as they pacify and balance the doshas. Drinks which incorporate pudina (fresh mint) and khus (poppy seeds) are also very calming and cooling. Try your hand at some creative mock-tails! And watch your skin glow!
This is the season when drinking water should be ideally stored in an earthen pot so that it remains cool. Drinking this water is extremely reviving - it wonderfully quenches the thirst besides cooling the body. One can also enjoy a special coriander seed preparation – simply soak whole coriander seeds in a glass of water for two to three hours. Mash the seeds, strain the mixture and add sugar before drinking.
If one is not careful, sun-stroke, fever, vomiting and dehydration can occur so one needs to drink as much water as the body needs. Since the heat can get rather severe, one has to take adequate measures to protect oneself, in terms of diet, activities and appropriate clothing. Avoid being outdoors in peak afternoon time – if you absolutely need to, take care to keep the head and skin covered. This is the time to sport colourful umbrellas, trendy broad-rimmed hats and stylish sunglasses to protect your face and eyes. Damp skin is a good breeding ground for bacterial and fungal infection, so make sure to keep skin cool, airy and dry.
Health and beauty go hand in hand!
Face-packs using multani mitti (Fuller’s earth), chandan (sandalwood), haldi (turmeric) and mulethi (liquorice) in rose water are a terrific way to cool down – add a few rose petals for that special touch! A pack for the scalp with awla and nagarmootha (cypriol) paste can be applied on the top of the head if the pitta is highly aggravated. Applying a paste of chandan (sandalwood), (agaru) agarwood, (kapur) camphor, haldi (turmeric) and manjishtha (Indian madder), etc. all over the body cools it down as well as beautifies the skin. Mud packs placed on the navel are beneficial too. Cucumber too is very cooling – cucumber juice applied to the skin is very soothing in hot weather. Thin slivers of cucumber and also cotton-wool soaked in rose-water when placed over the eyes greatly refresh them. Soak your feet in cool water and watch your fatigue fly away!
Last but not the least, maintaining a cool ‘inner’ climate wonderfully counters the heat outside, so stay cool and keep your cool too!
Get set to pamper yourself!
This is your time to indulge! Sitting in shady spots besides tranquil lakes in the cooler part of the day soothes the senses and calms the mind. Enjoying the fresh air in the outdoors and sleeping in cool places like open terraces under the moonlight, relaxes and refreshes both body and mind. White clothes that are light, thin and airy are ideal and most comfortable in this weather. Bathing in cool fragrant water is extremely reviving as well.
Panchkarma for you
It is possible that due to excess heat, pitta dosha gets aggravated in the body, leading to rashes, boils and pimples, burning sensation, skin diseases and eruptions and red patches on the skin. For this, the ayurvedic techniques of takradhara and dughdhadhara are very beneficial. Abhyangam (body massage) with chandanadi oil (which includes sandalwood) as well as augmenting the entire body with chandanadi paste is very cooling and also beautifying. Tiktakshir basti and virechan are recommended when the pitta dosha is excessively aggravated.
Stay away from these...
Avoid salty food, fried food, refined flour products, sour substances such as sour curd and sour curd shakes, aerated drinks and cold drinks which are commercially available, pickle, spicy and pungent food. Cooking ingredients such as mustard, black pepper, dried ginger and jaggery should be avoided in this season as they increase heat in the body. Hard physical labour, wandering around in the hot sun and excessive exercise are not conducive in this season.
Folks, now that you are all set for the summer, put your best foot forward and step out in style!