‘Stay cool and balanced this early summer with some helpful tips to keep the fire (Pitta dosha) balanced in your body, mind and spirit.’
Summer is here, with the sun shining closer and bringing forward the fire element within us. In Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, the fire element, that is called ‘pitta’ is active now and when aggravated can lead to a pitta imbalance. What can happen with the physical body is skin outbreaks/rashes, burning indigestion or diarrhea, red eyes, heat stroke if out in the sun too long and you may experience strong emotions such as: anger, frustration and impatience.
Right now our body is burning up the fat (kapha) from winter so it is good to change to a lighter diet to keep our body balanced in the heat of summer. Our appetite changes and our Agni (digestive fire) increases.
One thing to understand about Ayurveda is that like increases like and opposites decrease each other. And we can use the five senses (taste, sight, smell, touch and hearing) as therapies to stay nice and cool in the hot summer weather.
During pitta season, eat cooling vegetables like cucumber, zucchini, celery, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower and leafy greens such as kale, chard and spinach.
Grains such as basmati rice, quinoa and oats are good. Use light spices like coriander and cumin in your cooking.
Cooling herbs include: cilantro, dill and mint.
Fruits that are good are melons, grapes, berries, peaches and pears.
Avoid taking much oil at this time as it will only make the body oilier when already burning fat.
Heating foods should be avoided, such as alcohol, fried foods and excess use of spices and hot spices that will aggravate the already lit fire in your digestion.
Also drink lots of water, at least 8 glasses per day and avoid soft drinks, loaded with sugar, and instead replace them with coconut water or plain water or try dairy –free, coconut based ‘kefir’.
- Aromatherapy/Natural Herbs
Sweet smelling flowers will cool the home and have a cooling effect on the eyes, for example, roses, jasmine and honeysuckle. Aromatherapy also helps. Sweet aromas to use are rose, jasmine, lavender, chamomile, geranium and ylang-ylang to stay cool and centered this summer.
Rose water is very cooling and you can use a rose hydrosol as a toner on your face, back of the neck and the soles of your feet to instantly cool down. You can also take an aromatherapy bath with a few drops of these essential oils or use them in a diffuser.
It helps to wear loose, light, breathable and natural fabrics like cotton, linen and hemp to stay cool. For skin care use natural products that have rose, aloe or cucumber in them. And use a cooling moisturizer like coconut oil.
If you are doing any self massage of the body or the feet, use cooler oils like coconut and sunflower during the summer.
- Color/Nature Therapy
We are naturally attracted to certain colors according to the time of year. Cooling colors for the summer months are blues, white and pastels. You can have these colors in your home décor too with pillows, throws, vases etc. And various hues of green plants in the home are cooling to the eyes. And white colors keep the bugs away.
Sounds of nature can be refreshing and calming to the body, emotions and mind e.g. gentle summer breeze, birds chirping, babbling brooks and streams. For music, it helps to play soft and calming music, especially harp and flute. Pitta naturally balances with a soft rhythm of music. Mantras can also bring calmness and centeredness.
- Breath Work/Pranayama
Sitali Breath is very calming and cooling for children and parents. See the recent post of this pranayama on the website blog.
- General Summer Lifestyle Tips
It is good to exercise early, before 10 am in the summer heat or in the evening. Spending time in nature with your family by a river, lake, or hiking in the woods is a great way to relax. Meditating for a few minutes with your children by a quiet pond or lake will be calming and cooling as well.
The one thing to know about ‘Fiery Pitta’ is to do things in moderation to bring calmness and coolness.