Here in the northern hemisphere, as the summer heat bakes into each hour, we have been thinking about all that is cool and airy. The lemon-drop sun has been enticing us to bite into juicy watermelon. It is magical how the season’s invitations are impossible to ignore.
The yogis of southern India acknowledged these natural inclinations 10,000 years ago, which resulted in their developing Ayurveda. A philosophy and science of life, Ayurveda takes a kaleidoscope view of our existence. It reveals the interconnectivity between our body, mind, and spirit and the restorative powers of the natural world.
These truths lead Martha Soffer, an internationally acclaimed Ayurvedic practitioner and founder of Surya Spa. In her work, Martha brings forth the ancient philosophies in a modern sense, helping individuals achieve balance and vitality through accessible self-care practices and education. Her work is calming and grounding.
Considering the emphasis Ayurveda places on shifting our routines according to the seasons, we asked Martha for her counsel on how to best take care while in the depths of summer.
A Conversation with Martha Soffer
In Ayurveda, what does this season of summer signify?
Summertime is Pitta season, which is represented by the elements of fire and water. The energy in the summertime is activating, fiery, and transformative. (Editor’s note: Ayurveda recognizes three biological energies—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—that are derived from the natural elements. Pitta is associated with fire and water; Vata with wind and air; and Kapha with earth and water.)
What principles do Ayurveda suggest we follow to best care for ourselves this time of year?
In Ayurveda, the body is seen as a microcosm of the natural world, so just as the summer season heats up and everything is in full verdant bloom, our body is also heating up internally. Counteract the excess heat of the season by eating cooling foods, avoid exercise outdoors in the middle of the day, and be mindful of staying non-reactive emotionally, as the external heat can contribute to emotional sensitivity and irritation.
Considering that every person has a unique constitution, are there certain foods that are best to eat right now?
It sounds so simple but eating what is in season really is the best medicine. Juicy cooling fruits and light summer vegetables that are in season help to cool the body from the inside out. One of our favorite summertime staples is a smoothie made with coconut, cilantro and aloe.
If we feel overheated this time of year, what practices do you recommend?
A daily Abhyanga (self-massage) with cooling coconut oil or our herbalized Cooling Abhyanga Oil will help soothe inflammation, aid in temperature regulation, and rebalance the body. A meditation practice is also hugely helpful. I practice Transcendental Meditation twice daily, but any type of meditation will help calm and cool the mind and body.