Changing Into Summer


No doubt by this time, you’ve put away all the winter clothes and have been enjoying your summer couture (especially if you live in my neck of the woods – the very hot, very humid St. Louis area).

Have you changed into your summer lifestyle, too?

Enjoying robust health means that we flow with nature and its changing seasons. The heat of summer brings about its own special health challenges and Ayurveda provides us wonderful guidelines in helping us develop the right lifestyle for the season.

First, what is your prakriti or physical constitution? In Ayurveda, there are three doshas – energies believed to circulate in the body and govern physiological activity: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The qualities of Vata are cold, dry, mobile and light. Those of Pitta are oily, hot, sharp, light and Kapha qualities are moist, cold, heavy, dull, and static. While we all have Vata, Pitta and Kapha qualities, there are some that are more dominant – thus we would classify a person as a certain doshic type.

For example, I tend to be a Pitta dominant. I tend to run hot and dislike hot, humid temperatures. Summers have always been the season I dread the most. My immune system is much more challenged in the summer than any of the other seasons. Many people look at me like I am crazy when I express my dislike of summer or my love of winter.

A few years ago, I went through a period of physical crisis when my body had trouble with digestion and I was becoming depleted. I had limited amounts of energy and had great difficulty sleeping.

Yet I was a child of the 80s aerobics scene and believed that to be fit I had to do cardio work almost every day. So, in addition to my duties as a Pilates and Yoga instructor, I made sure I did that 45-60 minute cardio workout at least 5x a week.

Frankly, I really wasn’t feeling good but hey, I was following the fitness guidelines, right?

Then Ayurveda came into my life. I learned that the combination of the hot season, my hot nature and the heat of those cardio workouts was creating way too much heat in my body and contributing to my depletion.

I learned that I was not crazy to dislike the summer as much as I did and that many people with the same nature can suffer from summer colds, heart palpitations, skin disorders and exhaustion in the summer season.

Ayurveda had suggestions to support my prakriti so that my suffering would be reduced. One of the suggestions was to back off of that cardio work – which I must say was very difficult with the mindset I had at the time. But Ayurveda has been around a long, long time for good reason – it is based a lot on common sense and listening to your body. Indeed, if I had listened to my body – instead of trying to beat it into submission – it would have told me to back off of all that cardio in the summer, too.

Ayurveda also offered other guidelines to help me stay as cool and comfortable as possible, which I welcomed gladly. It was a bit difficult to examine and discard certain belief systems but the fact that I was feeling so miserable made it easier to do!

Before my experience with Ayurveda, it never occurred to me that as the seasons change, we too must change to flow with those changes.

All bodies move towards health. Your body wants to not just live but to thrive. We just have to get out of our own way and listen to our instincts rather than so-called fitness “experts” who may indeed have good information but if it’s not appropriate for us, then we need to toss it aside.

So, when you switch the winter-to-summer wardrobe, be sure to switch into the summer lifestyle as well to enjoy the best of health, fitness and wellness.