Ideal summer regimen
Sujal Torgal Patil
Summers are special. As kids we had mixed emotions about the season. The anxiety and stress of exams and the thrill of the holidays surface the moment the first heat wave sweeps the Earth. Summer is otherwise scorching and tiring, but we can keep the summer blues at bay with the regimen detailed in this article.
The year is divided into six seasons, namely, varsha, sharad, hemant, shishir, vasant and greeshma. Greeshma is roughly the summer season. Greeshma ritu can be defined as the period of intolerable heat as the sun is closer to the Earth and the sun’s ray are short, straight and strong. It is roughly from mid-April and mid-June. March to May is ideally termed as summer in the Indian subcontinent, but these days we start feeling the change in temperature in the month of February.
Ayurved says a change in the season brings about change in the internal mechanism of the body. Seasonal regimen or ritucharya explains the dietary and lifestyle regime corresponding to the climatic and bodily changes happening during at particular season. To keep the doshas in the state of balance our regimen should complement the state of dosha in a particular season. Due to the level of hotness in greeshma ritu, the vata dosha increases while kapha is in the stage of shaman (pacified stage). Right at the onset of summer, the kapha that has accumulated during winters in the form of excessive mucus in the body starts liquefying, giving rise to various disorders like cough, cold, various infections or fevers.
Here are simple guidelines to beat the heat
Diet: Food should not be heavy in summer as the metabolic rate is low. One should consume sweet, mildly warm, unctuous, light, liquid food (avoid pungent, sour and salty food), sweet natural beverages, cold water (not refrigerated), milk, butter, ghee, old boiled rice, green gram, curds or buttermilk and avoid meat and fish in excess except the meat of birds or animals from dry regions in the form of thin meat stocks or soups. Alcohol should not be had as it can cause a burning sensation and even debility. If necessary have small diluted quantities.
Panaka: Mix 30 grams of jaggery in one litre of water. Then add a pinch of powdered dry ginger, cardamom and cinnamon and mix it well. It is very cooling, nourishing and tasty, and it satisfactorily quenches thirst.
Mantha: Take equal quantities of dried grapes, dates and figs and then soak them in water for an hour. Drop them in a mixer with some water and churn well. This is appetising, tasty and cooling.
Saktu: Make fine powder of dry roasted barley, mix it with water and boil. Then add jaggery, cardamom and milk. Serve after it has cooled. This drink is filling, nourishing and cooling.
Camphor added to water stored in earthen vessels is better than refrigerated water. One can also have water boiled with coriander seeds, coconut water, lemon syrups, raw mango, grapes, rose petals, vetiver, kokum, lotus, etc. Traditionally made gulkand is a great coolant in summer. Seasonal fruits and fruit juices should be enjoyed heartily during this season. Buffalo milk which is added to candy sugar and cooled overnight can be consumed in the morning. Buttermilk or curd is considered a coolant and had in plenty during summer; however this is not ideal as buttermilk is hot in nature.
Lifestyle: Stay in cool places, and wear lose and light cotton dresses to lower the body temperature. We are a tropical country so we should stick to cotton and white clothing even for formal or official attire. Use perfumes made from natural ingredients which are cooling in nature like sandalwood, vetiver, camphor and various flowers. A day nap is permitted as nights are short.
Skincare: Apply medicinal packs of sandalwood, neem, camphor, coconut milk, cool mud, etc, to reduce body heat.
Suntans: Use aloe gel, milk cream, cucumber pulp, green tea or papaya fruit mash to remove the tan.
Avoid cold drinks, beverages, chilled items or ice creams which don’t beat the heat but on the contrary increase body heat. Prefer natural products.
Calming and soothing music or mantra chants to control and pacify the agitated mind.
Intercourse and exercise should be minimal in this season as the body is already low in energy.
A slow walk in morning or evening in a cooler place is ideal. Yoga is the best option not just for physical but emotional activity as well. Certain yogic techniques including pranayama help one deal with the heat.
Other practices like hydrotherapies like foot baths, cold baths and jets help reduce the accumulative body heat.
Ayurved procedures like kseerdhara, lepa (body packs), padabhyanga (foot massage) and general body massage with cooling oils help a lot.
Avoid using air-conditioners. The temperature transition in the outer surroundings and the room will make it difficult for the body to adjust. Avoid direct exposure to sunlight after morning hours.
Prefer natural sunscreen products like coconut milk, shea butter over chemical sunscreens, etc.
Don’t wear synthetic and dark clothes.
Avoid sleep-skips at night and overexertion of any form.
Have a soothing summer!
(Writer is CMO at Traya Natural Health Centre and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)