Moon bathing is what we really should be doing in summer
by Eva Dusch
Summer equals sunbathing. But may we suggest something that’s even more exciting and significantly more cooling? Moon bathing. This ancient Ayurvedic ritual is perfect to cool down an overheated Pitta (sure, nocturnal howling is okay if you feel like it).
So, first, we tell you for weeks to be in bed by 10 PM and now we tell you to bathe in the moonlight? Ehm, yes, we do. But in summer it’s okay to sleep a little later as we move along with the daily cycles of nature. So once the night has fallen and the crickets start to sing their usual song, lay outside on the grass or quickly confiscate the hammock on your balcony and enjoy the cooling moon rays and soft breeze. Or you may even want to move your mattress to the rooftop terrace or garden (yes, we’ve seen this happening with Ayurvedic students). Moon bathing is just like sunbathing, but then under the moon, in order to keep Pitta Dosha relatively cool during these summer months.
‘In summertime one should enjoy forests, gardens, flowers, and cool water. During the night one should sleep on the open airy roof of the house, which is cooled by the rays of the moon’ - Charaka Samhita.
Even when you cannot see the moon, her energy is still there. The moon brings in the exact opposite of all the familiar solar Pitta qualities you’ve been hearing about for the last couple of weeks. Her energy corresponds to the yin energy that comes with calming, cooling, nurturing and watery qualities or the more Kapha qualities.
But it also matters whén you go moon bathing, according to Dr Vasant Lad. ‘Exposure to moonlight, moon bathing, is cooling and pleasant, so it is better than sunbathing for Pitta types and those with aggravated Pitta Dosha. The time period from the new moon to the full moon is called the waxing phase; from the full to the new moon is the waning phase. Moonlight during the waxing phase is auspicious and the full moon is the most auspicious time of all. Conversely, energy is withdrawn from the earth during the waning phase of the moon and it is not advised to moon bathe at this time. Exposure to moonlight is best done during the waxing period or at the full moon.’
Calming Nadi Shodhana
One of the most powerful pranayama practices used in yoga and Ayurveda. This balancing breath actively harmonizes both the solar and lunar energies by switching the breath between right and left nostrils and so the masculine and feminine energy.
Or you can practice single nostril breathing: Surya Bhedana (sun-piercing breath) and Chandra Bhedana (moon-piercing breath). The left nostril carries yin or lunar energy and relates to Kapha Dosha while the right nostril carries yang or solar energy and relates to Pitta Dosha. So from which nostril are you breathing? What qualities do you want to increase or decrease? You can switch it with a flip of… nostrils.
This is one of the most cooling breathing techniques in the whole set of Pranayamas. It’s strengthening and helps to release excess heat. Excess Pitta can also mean that heat is stuck in the body and with Pranayama you can shake it loose and release it. Feel the fresh air coming in through the tube of the tongue and breathe out through the nose. If this feels too uncomfortable or you are unable to curl your tongue, practice another variation called Sitkari pranayama or hissing breath. Draw the breath in through the mouth (lips parted) with closed teeth.
Pranayamas are best practised on an empty stomach, ideally early in the morning. But you can also practice these shortly when feeling overheated, angry, or irritated. Particularly during the Pitta time of day, between 10 am and 2 pm, when the heat is usually at its peak.
** Keep your ujjayi breath during your yoga practice gentle and soft, so not super loud and strong.
Take a moment to reflect
Looking back on this summer period and these 8 weeks of balancing your Pitta, what have you learned? What was the most fun or surprising part for you? Have you discovered something new? Any favourite practices?
Take a piece of paper and describe these experiences and how you felt. Don’t think about spelling or grammar (the Pitta tendency for perfectionism should be less by now ;-), just write from the heart.
Once you’ve put it all onto paper, feel free to keep it somewhere safe or perhaps even burn it in a safe manner. Experience how the literal destruction of your (negative) experience can help let go of any residual anger or criticism you’ve been carrying around.
It’s when we look beyond the gross outer layers of life that we find our way to the more subtle layers that can shift your whole being and perspective on life. That’s how it felt when Eva encountered the path of Ayurveda. After years of practising yoga and meditation, it was the cherry on the cake. The foundation she was looking for, that connects everything. No matter where you go. After working for years as a writer and freelance journalist, she took a big break in 2016 to travel the world. She went to all corners of the planet, living in New Zealand and South America for a while. As unstable and challenging the circumstances sometimes were, it was through yoga and Ayurveda that she found stability, balance, and inner peace. Something she brought back home with her when she returned to Amsterdam in the spring of 2019. That same year, she started her journey with the Delight Academy to deepen her knowledge, skills, and experience in the field of Ayurveda. Her motivation to become an Ayurvedic Practitioner is to help people reconnect with their bodies and inner knowing again. Encouraging them to take their health into their own hands, using nutrition, awareness, and balance as tools. She believes in conscious, healthy, and joyful living inspired by the beauty and depth of Ayurvedic wisdom and holistic philosophies. Photo credit: Kiki Reijners