Summer Blues

It might sound strange, coming from someone born in Brazil, but yes, I suffer from the Summer Blues. While thousands of people in the city get excited about hiking, biking, going to the beach, or simply baking under the hot sun, you can find me at the movie theater (thank God for AC), or at home with the blinds closed, curled up with a book, or at the studio doing hours of yoga and meditation.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being outdoors - just not in the heat. It took me a few years to admit that I don’t love Summer. I can live with it - I have to - but it is not a season that naturally agrees with me. It also took me a while to admit that I don’t like heated rooms (sorry, my fellow hot yoga teachers) or saunas.

I know these are controversial topics - not something I bring up when meeting people for the first time (hi, my name is Roberta. Did you know that I hate Summer?). But I’ve learned to live with it - and more importantly, understand WHY this is the case. No, it has nothing to do with any childhood trauma or a bad Summer love story. It has everything to do with my dosha. Say what?

Doshas are our unique energies, or constitution, according to Ayurveda. There are three doshas, comprised of the tattvas (elements: earth, water, fire, air, ether): Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata expresses the quality of AIR, and individuals who are Vata dominant tend to embody that quality (hello forgetfulness or “air-headedness”). Pitta embodies the element of FIRE, and are generally individuals with fiery, strong personalities. Kapha is the expression of the EARTH element, and Kapha folks tend to be balanced, calm, but a little stubborn.

Generally we balance our doshas (the dominant one) with the opposite: more AIR and EARTH to the FIRE, more FIRE and AIR to the EARTH, and so forth. These are simplifications of the not so simple method of Ayurveda. In reality the method in itself is simple. We on the other hand, are complex. Some individuals (like ME), have two or even three dominant doshas.

And this is where my Summer story fits in. As a Vata-Pitta type, I tend to dislike cold (too much AIR), but also heat (too much FIRE), making me an extremely picky individual weather-wise. Summer aggravates Pitta (FIRE), and people with an excess of Pitta, tend to get a little hot headed (hello road rage!) during this time. The Ayurvedic cure, as I mentioned lies within the opposite dosha. I can’t change the season (though I can move or travel), but I can adapt to the new condition. Here’s what I specifically do to calm this fiery energy:

  • Close the blinds in my house to keep the room cool. The brightness of the sun also agitates my Vata (scattered air energy), so I like to keep the room a little dim.

  • Wear eye masks to sleep. In the Summer the sun doesn’t set until 9:20 pm or so, and sensitive individuals might take a while to fall asleep while it’s still bright. Conversely we naturally wake up earlier in the Summer (sunrise is around 5:00 am), which means fewer hours of sleep overall.

  • Eat Pitta calming foods (cooling), and avoid Pitta aggravating foods, such as coffee, black tea, spicy food, etc.

  • A tip from a friend: I add khus syrup (Vetiver) in water, to cool down the body

  • I take cold showers - such a boon!

  • Wearing Pitta calming oils (jojoba oil) and scents, such as rose, sandalwood, vetiver, jasmine

And when everything falls apart - say the AC is broken, you can’t find the appropriate food, it’s the middle of the day and someone cuts you in traffic - there is always the BREATH. Take a deep inhale, hold a few seconds, and exhale long. You’ve got this.