Welcome to the height of summer

It’s the height of summer in the Deep South. That means hot nights, rotisserie chickens eaten with salads, eating peaches over the sink while sticky juice runs down my chin and arm, stopping by the store daily for yet another box of popsicles, sending kids outside to eat lunch so I can hear myself think. It’s driving down River Road with the windows down and singing aloud to one of my daughter’s playlists—heavy on the 80s, it’s feeling the kiss of the sun on my freckled shoulders. It’s trying to find the one shady spot at the park while the kids try to decide if they’re going to play or melt or maybe do both. It’s inhaling books and lingering in bed a little longer than necessary in the mornings listening to the hum of the ceiling fan. This time of year I find myself caught in between being languid and hot, remembering the summers of my youth with fondness while simultaneously resenting the duration of this current season. Summer, especially the last few months of a southern summer, confirm my suspicion that it’s not just the days that are long, but life too.

What I’m doing to keep my cool this summer:

  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. And not necessarily ice cold water. I drink at least half my body weight in ounces of room temperature water every day. Adding the juice of a lime adds a little favor and lime is more cooling than lemon.

  2. Exercise in the morning, the coolest part of the day.

  3. In these warmer months I use coconut oil for my abhyanga practice. Coconut oil is calming, cooling, and soothing.

  4. Eat foods that are cooling and offer relief from excessive heat. Foods like watermelon, plums, berries, cucumbers, broccoli, and salads. Try to avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar.

  5. Use rosewater mist liberally. I use this one.

  6. Practicing sheetali or cooling breath. Sheetali breath can be used any time there is excess heat—in summer, after intense physical exertion, during hot flashes, or heated emotions. To practice sheetali breath:

    1. Sit tall. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath.

    2. Curl the sides of your tongue up and in, as though you were creating a straw with your tongue.* Breathe in slowly, pulling the air across the surface of your tongue and exhaling through the nose. If the throat feels dry, swallow now and then. Continue this cycle for 3 breaths, 1 minute, up to 5 minutes.*

    3. Sit in silent meditation for several minutes, noticing the soothing benefits of the practice and allowing the benefits of the practice to be integrated.

  • If you are unable to curl your tongue, practice a variation known as Sitkari: Inhale through the teeth, with lips parted and the tongue floating just behind the teeth.

Morning Routines

Morning routines aren’t for those people that have already realized success or “made it.” They’re actually a valuable tool for those of us still trying to tap into our potential, for those of us trying to take our health and work to the next level.

Here are a few things I do each morning to create a routine that starts my day off on the best foot possible:

  1. Hydrate your body. Maybe it’s drinking room temperature water with or without apple cider vinegar. Or green tea. For me it’s a cup of room temperature water while warming water for my morning cup of hot water with lemon.

  2. Journal. This can be as simple as writing out my to-do list for the day or even putting my concerns or worries onto the page. Ideally I look back at my list of goals and each day write down the things I need to do that day to further them along. This is a great thing to do while you’re hydrating your body!

  3. Read. I aim to complete at least one book for month. This means I need to read approximately 10 pages a day. For you this might mean breaking those pages up, 5 in the morning, 5 in the evening. Again, this is something you can do while you hydrating.

  4. Meditate. 5 minutes minimum. Then try to work up to 10 minutes or more. You might also find it beneficial to split this up into a morning and evening practice of 5-10 minutes. each. One of the tools I enjoy using from time to time is binaural beats on Insight Timer. I have tried several meditation timers and Insight Timer is hands down my favorite. Bonus: it’s free!

  5. Move your body. 15-20 minutes. You don’t have to break a sweat, just pick some movement to set yourself up for the day (movement gets those endorphins pumping!) and to get your blood circulating. My movements vary day-to-day depending upon what my body needs but most days they include: cat/cow, a few sun salutations, a plank hold or two, lunges, squats, and a twist.

  6. Feed your mind. I listen to a podcast while I get ready and while driving between clients and classes. For you, it might be a nonfiction audiobook in a field that interests you. My jam is podcasts. We take care of our physical body with food and movement, we tend our spirit with meditation or worship. Don’t overlook the mind!

  7. Pack lunch. Think ahead to what dinner will be—do I need to thaw anything out? Leave anything to soak before I head out? Prep the InstantPot?

Including the time it takes me to get ready to head out the door, all of this takes about one hour. Yes, that means I get up earlier than I need to. It also means that I get my most basic needs met before my day has ever started. If getting up an hour early sounds daunting, begin with 15 minutes this week. Next week, 30 minutes. And so on. My guess is that by the end of the month you’ll feel better and more centered and you’ll happily go to bed a little earlier each evening so you can take one hour for yourself.

Mid-Year Review

July marks the second half of the year. The summer solstice has come and gone, here in the Deep South we are deep into summer and hurricane season.

Mid-year is the perfect time to review goals set in January, to assess how you’re doing in all areas of your life, determine whether any goals need to be changed, to figure out lessons learned from the first half of the year, and outline plans for the last half of the year. Even if you can’t remember the goals or plans you established in January, this process can be useful.

Whether you set weekly intentions, six month goals, or planned your entire year, as you reflect back take stock of the positive steps you have taken in the last months, no matter how small they may seem. As you make a list of everything that worked for you, note where you might want to pivot, and most importantly what goals no longer seem important.

Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up for things that haven’t progressed as you hoped. There are no failures—just opportunities to grow and learn and better plan for the second half of the year.

Review and plan:

Take some time to note everything that has happened in the last six months, about the experiences you have had—the moments that brought you joy, the worries that have weighed heavy on your heart, the pain that has softened you. It’s all growth.

If you have your goals from January written down:

  • Where have you made progress? If not, why?

  • What has felt good this year? What felt bad?

  • Were the goals you set right for you or do you need to pivot or let go of any of them?

  • Do you need to adjust your time and energy commitments to create time to work toward your goals?

  • Did you allow enough time in the last six months for you? And by this I don’t just mean for yoga or massage. I mean quiet time, time to do nothing, time with friends, time to laugh with your children so that you find moments of restoration.