Late Summer

“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?”

The Buddha Siddhartha Gautama

This year we are having an Indian summer with long hot days like summer yet autumn is tickling around the edges with cooler nights and darker mornings. As we begin our journey out of the heat and fire of summer towards autumn there are many rituals, ceremonies and actions we can enjoy to prepare ourselves for the winter coming.

Yoga and Ayurveda both place emphasis on purification balanced with rejuvenation, action with rest, and stimulation with restoration. Yoga and Ayurveda make the perfect pair to complement the late summer season. In March and April  as we transition from summer through late summer into autumn if you like from heat to coolness, from spring vegetables to late summer harvest. The seasons are changing and for balance and harmony we should change too –  our eating habits and our activities – let’s get in tune with the season.

Take a moment to be honest about how you are traveling and reflect on what is happening for you as you enter this new cycle of the year.

What is working for you?

What needs to change? 

There are six seasons according to Ayurveda rather than four. The six seasons are spring, early summer, late summer, fall, early winter and late winter.  The later summer season in Sanskrit is called Varsha ritu or “rainy season.” In India, the birth country of Ayurveda, late summer is monsoon season –  very hot and very moist. Yet here in Southern Australia, we are less moist though certainly hot and this means the effects of climate may be a little more subtle.

During late summer vata dosha is predominant and vata is made up of ether and air elements which means it generates movement within the universe and this includes initiating flow and movement in and outside of our bodies.

Vata creates all forms of circulation – physical movement or actions, respiration, the pulse of our hearts, the flow in our nervous systems, mental actions or perceptions, thoughts, insight, and of course, communication through words, language – written and body language. When in balance and harmonious vata brings creativity, inspiration, lightness, spontaneity, however, when disturbed we become anxious, fretful, worried, overwhelmed, tired, our joints and bones may ache, we may experience bloating and constipation and have problems sleeping.

Tend the Fire of Your Life Force

Simple Ayurvedic Tips for Late Summer Season

  • Slow down…yes I know I am always suggesting this but now is the time to stay present. Let go of multitasking and eating on the run. Move through your day mindfully, consciously and slowly.
  • Get grounded and earthed – relax into activities and foods that connect you to the heavy, stable and solid qualities of the earth.
  • Spending time outside in late summer is a wonderful thing to do but remember to wrap up in the mornings and evenings especially looking after the head and lower back so bring out those scarfs, hats and shawls.
  • Eat foods that are easily digestible, warm and light. It’s goodbye to cold or raw foods, for example, summer salads, cold drinks, ice cream and hello to warm moist foods like soup, kitchari, roast vegetable salads, warm water and teas. Organic whole barley, rice, millet and wheat are recommended.Chew your food thoroughly…yes it is time to really slow down.
  • Self abhyanga or self oil massage. Make oil your best friend! Slather in on the entire body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Take a warm shower and rinse it off or if you have time perhaps in the weekend follow it up with a warm bath with 1/3 of a cup of dry ginger and 1/3 of a cup of bicarbonate soda for a special treat. If you don’t have much time then at night massage warm oil into your feet.
  • Start using more oils in your food for inner lubrication. I like coconut, ghee, olive, hemp seed and sesame oil. As the earth and our bodies begins to really dry out find balance with inner lubrication.

Consider a conscious cleanse but do seek professional advice to work out the best system for your dosha type. Mine is very simple three days of preparation – eliminating sugar, coffee, alcohol, and processed foods and eat as many simple, whole foods as possible – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds as possible. Then I move onto a mono diet for a week say Kitchari or rice porridge before reintroducing whole foods slowly back into my diet again.

Rejoice in a simple life filled with slow food, lots of relaxation time and get back in touch with your body’s rhythm soft, mindful and ready for winter.