The other day a friend came over for a hug and a couple cheek-kisses as is customary in Montreal.
“You smell like toothpaste,” she said. She was right. It was another stinking hot day and I did one of the things that best helps me stay cooler in this hellish weather– doused myself in coconut and peppermint essential oil.
As I’ve said before on this blog, I’m a big believer in Ayurveda and its ability to heal us and allow us to live an optimally healthy life. My constitution is Pitta-Vata. We’re in Pitta season. Fire. Hot. Those of us with higher amounts of Pitta can easily become imbalanced in the heat of Montreal summer. Imbalanced Pitta means short temper, impatience, rage… All the things you don’t want from your yoga teacher or your mom.
There are many things we can do to cool the burn. Here are a few things that help me. If you think you might have Pitta in your constitution, or if you’re curious to know if you might be Vata or Kapha or a mixture of the two or three doshas (we are all to some degree) you can take this quiz.
1) Load on the coconut and peppermint essential oil
There are other oils that are cooling but these are two of my favourites. Peppermint oil needs to be diluted and coconut is not only a great carrier oil but it’s also very cooling (you might not use it to excess in winter months). I rub the mixture on my face, back, arms, chest and all over my head. My particular hairstyle isn’t bothered by the oil.
2) Drink lots of water
Sometimes we hear it’s important to drink eight cups of water. Drink when you’re thirsty. I add fresh mint and or cucumber to my water to make it even more cooling and delicious. I also put a drop of high-quality therapeutic grade peppermint essential oil in my water. Like I said, call me Peppermint Patty.
3) Minimize heating food and drink
I really clued into how diet affects mood a year ago. I was eating burgers and drinking red wine and found myself incredibly angry and worked up. Impulsive and I totally lost it. I’m not much of a drinker anyway, but I certainly don’t drink red wine in the summer anymore. I also stopped eating meat. I don’t know if a vegetarian diet is best for everyone, but it keeps my Pitta temper under better control. Less kimchi and sriracha in the summer too. This is hard but I know it’s never worth it. Some foods seem like their cooling (yogurt) but are actually heating. There are many sites that will help you figure this out.
4) Do less
I’m go, go, go and can continue going until I burn out. Pitta people are very driven! It’s a good thing, but we need to remind ourselves to take it easy, especially when it’s hot out. I was proud of myself the other day for insisting we drive instead of ride our bikes to go to the Lasalle Bird Sanctuary. I was happy to walk around the park with my hat, water and coconut-peppermint oil. But the thought of biking there was too much!
5) Ayurvedic massage and yoga
So I do yoga and get massages through the year, but the style changes based on the season. In the cooler weather, I get a massage that is going to ground me, but in the summer my massage therapist extraordinaire, Dominic, uses oils that are cooling. And whatever other magic. I do not do hot yoga in the summer and I even stray away from dynamic flow hatha classes. I am happiest in a yin or restorative class. Most fiery people will probably feel the same.