5 Ayurvedic Tips for Being In Your Best Summer Shape!
Ayurveda offers structured guidance and many useful tips for prepping your body for summer - from the inside out! Whether it’s making sure you’re eating the right foods, or preventing the dreaded belly bloat, Ayurveda has the tools you need to feel confident in your body this summer.
1. Try our favorite Yoga and Pranayama breathing exercises.
Surya namaskar (sun salutations) makes for an all-body workout provides an excellent burst of cardio. Start with a set of 15-20 sun salutations every morning. Have some more time? Do another set in the evening. For toned arms and a flat stomach, spend a little extra time in your Chaturanga. Blast thigh fat by going deeper into your downward dog. Back troubles? Spend extra time in your upward dog/cobra, stretching out and strengthening back muscles. Love cardio? See how many sets you can get done in 5 minutes.
Other exercises especially suited for a summer body include: boat, dolphin, planks and headstands for core strength (you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that good balance comes from core strength!), bow and forward bends for thighs, and crow/crane pose for toned arms! NB: People with a pitta imbalance should avoid headstands and inversions in general.
Also, could yogic breathing exercises (pranayama) assist you in weight management? Ayurveda responds with a resounding YAS! Kalpabhati (Breath of fire) is a great breathing technique believed to assist with the metabolism of fat in the body. While seated, take a deep inhale and exhale forcefully in spurts (you will naturally inhale some air after each forceful exhale). Exhale forcefully in spurts for about a minute, followed by a minute of rest. Repeat three times. Thank us after. NB: Kalpabhati pranayama is "creates heat" within the body. If you're struggling with a pitta-imbalance, avoid too many!
Why we especially love Yoga and Pranayama in summer months is because very intense cardio exercises are best avoided in the summer time when pitta is at its peak, and frequently indulging in heat-generating exercise such as intense cardio can further throw your body off pitta balance.
2. Prevent belly bloat.
Healthy probiotic yogurt for breakfast increases the amount of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium bacteria in our digestive tracts. This facilitates efficient digestion and prevents belly bloat. Plain (and fresh, if possible!) yogurt is your best bet in this case. NB: If you struggle with kapha imbalance - yogurt (and all dairy) should be consumed in moderation.
Eat at a slower pace while sitting down in one place. Ayurveda recommends chewing your food 30 times before swallowing! This can send an important signal to your brain when you've eaten enough to prevent filling yourself with large meals and can control the overstuffed feeling. This not only reduces bloating, but also encourages you to pick healthier food options. Also reduce the amount of high fructose and fatty foods from your diet. Not only are fructose, trans fat, saturated fat and omega-6 fats hard to digest, but they also cause inflammation in your digestive system.
Water boiled with barley (and then strained), as well as coriander tea, are extremely helpful in relieving water weight and bloating.
Some additional tips from Ayurveda? Sip water during meals (though ice water and fruit juice with your meal are to be avoided). Also, try observing the following discipline: your stomach should be filled roughly a third with food, another third with water, and the final third with air. Following this Ayurveda principle will keep you from overeating and help prevent belly bloating.
3. Hydrate throughout the day.
Many don’t realize that they can sometimes mistake thirst for hunger and eat when they’re actually supposed to drink! Keep yourself hydrated with a consistent amount of water throughout the day. Chugging large amounts all at once can shock your system and cause swelling, so drink slowly. The fluids will help move the flow of food along within your digestive system, hydrate your bowel and flush out sodium, preventing bloating. You can try these creative ways to stay hydrated, including eating fruits such as watermelon, pineapple and cantaloupe, all of which have high water content and sodium-flushing potassium levels. Papaya also helps the movement of the bowels.
4. Eat right for summer.
We’ve already mentioned that sweet fruits like watermelon can help you stay hydrated – but have we also mentioned that they’re a key part of a Pitta-pacifying Ayurvedic diet? This makes for a healthier intestine and gut all summer long for optimal energy and digestion. Eat more green leafy vegetables to increase your fibre intake and your magnesium levels, which are all essential to rejuvenate gut muscle function so that gut contractions function properly. Cooking your vegetables will improve the ease of digestion and promote optimal nutrient absorption. You can also try brown rice and oats. Potassium can help to counter the role of excessive sodium and prevent water retention. Try chomping down on a banana for your mid-day snack, and add ginger and peppermint teas to superpower digestion and metabolism!
If you're prone to gaining weight easily, you’ll also want to avoid some of the foods that increase Kapha, especially because one condition of Kapha imbalance is sluggishness and unwanted weight gain. Ice cream, cheese and yogurt can be culprits (goat’s milk and derived products are acceptable--these actually help to reduce Kapha) so consume these sparingly. Also consume oils sparingly, and preferably use almond or sunflower oil when you do.
5. Combine dry brushing with essential oils.
Dry brushing is a traditional Ayurvedic practice used to detox the lymphatic system and recharge the skin. This ritual causes microscopic scratches on the skin’s surface, which triggers blood to come to the rescue by improving circulation to the brushed area and essentially renewing the skin. In other words: fight cellulite!
How to do it? Using a vegetable bristle dry brush, brush gently up and towards the heart in semicircular motions, just until the skin becomes slightly red.
The way we supercharge it? Pure essential oils.
Oils like cypress, juniper berry and patchouli will help with fluid retention, while rosemary, cinnamon and citrus oils will help to further improve blood circulation. Mix 3-4 drops of your desired oil(s) with a tablespoon of a carrier oil (like almond or jojoba oil) and massage into the skin. Your skin will feel completely revitalized and may even tingle slightly. Plus, you’ll also smell divine! For all the benefits mentioned and even anti-aging properties, try UMA’s award-winning Absolute Anti Aging body oil that will leave skin feeling tighter and looking brighter!