Summer is a time when plants and life flourish, we feel the expansive and radiant energy from the sun. In Chinese Medicine, Summer is a yang season, a time when the body undergoes vigorous metabolic (body energy) processes. It is a fire element, and important for our joy, passion and optimism, and allows us to express ourselves fully. The main organs associated with Fire: Heart, Pericardium, Small Intestine, and Triple Heater, and these meridians lines run up and down our arms. The Heart stores our spirit (Shen) and is responsible for housing our thoughts in our mind. Effectively, the Heart is the centre of our emotional and mental activity, integrates and unifies the upper world- positive thoughts, with the lower world-negative thinking. The heart rules understanding and intelligence, deepens intuition, engages inner knowing, and wisdom. So slow down to listen to your inner voice.

When the fire element is imbalanced, we may either lack joy (depression) or have an excess of joy (maniac condition). Fire is symbolic of maximum activity or greatest Yang; and the motion is upward. Other indicators of excess are increased perspiration, or lack of perspiration, rashes, hives, or hot skin eruptions, sleep disturbances, insomnia, and restless sleep, palpitations, or an irregular heartbeat, restless, agitated, or explosive energy, inappropriate laughter, impatience, and feeling uninspired, anxiety and irrational fears and phobias, and lack depth in our relationships and interactions with others, letting down our guard.

Physically, when the fire element is balanced, the heart properly governs and circulates the blood and insures proper assimilation of the beginning breakdown of food in the small intestines.

Emotionally, when the fire element is balanced, sensitivity and expression, true fulfillment and the equilibrium between heart and mind are our greatest rewards, the heart is strong and healthy, the mind is calm, optimistic and enthusiastic and sleep is sound. We have compassion for those around us and are comfortable with being vulnerable, allowing our authentic self to show up in the world. We are creative and able to be expressive, creating depth in our relationships.

Cardiovascular exercise serves you especially well during summer, because fire rules the heart and circulation of the blood. Get a good cardiovascular exercise and try to build a sweat, which helps to cleanse toxins from the body. Using yoga to balance the fire by focusing on the upper body and in particular our arms, armpits, and shoulders, as this is where the energy lines run. Try to walk fast enough to just break a bit of a sweat. The heart is more vulnerable in the summer, so build your exercise routine gradually.

Fire also rules the small intestine, which in traditional Chinese medicine is intricately connected with the heart. The small intestine transforms the foods we eat into usable components, which go directly into the blood. The blood moves to the heart and is circulated through the rest of the system. If you feed your body toxic food, the small intestine is unable to pass on good nutrients.

Eating for summer

It is the perfect season to introduce some cool, yin foods into your diet, to clear heat, reduce toxins, and generate body fluids.

In general, cooling foods tend towards the green end of the spectrum – lettuce, cucumbers, and watercress are some of the coolest. Few vegetables are warming. Fish and seafood are also cooling, while most meats are warming.

Here are some suggestions to keep you cool and balanced all summer long. These fruits and vegetables will help your body adjust its temperature and protect you during the long, hot summer days:

• Watermelon
• Apricot
• Cantaloupe
• Lemon
• Peach
• Orange
• Asparagus
• Sprouts
• Bamboo
• Bok choy
• Broccoli
• Chinese cabbage
• Corn
• Cucumber
• White mushroom
• Snow peas
• Spinach
• Summer squash
• Watercress
• Seaweed
• Mung means
• Cilantro
• Mint
• Dill

If you are fire deficient: lack of activity, lack of joy and apathy.
• eat warming foods, such as peppers, ginger, citrus, butter, meats, corn, cherries and basmati rice

If you have an excess of fire: overexcitement, over-involvement and overcommitted, hyperexcitability and restlessness.
• eat cooling foods, such as cucumber, sprouts, watermelon, apples, lemons and limes, dandelion greens, almonds and scallions, and cooling foods like cucumber, sprouts, watermelon, apples, lemons and limes. Avoid heavy foods dairy, greasy, fried foods, meats, eggs and oils.

Remember simple, fresh and cooling foods are the key to eating well and feeling well this summer.

Because the power of Fire is felt most intensely in summer, summer may be the best time for you to concentrate on rebuilding the energy consumed during the winter and spring months. As summer activities can sometimes appropriate your relaxation and meditative time, make sure to find a balance between action and being, between social events/connection and time to be in your garden, or relax in your hammock, and allow the earth to nourish you and recharge your battery pack.

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