Dear Beautiful Human,
Summer is upon us in the northern hemisphere. We just passed the summer solstice, so the days are long, light is abundant, and the weather is warm. In Ayurveda, this is pitta dosha season. Pitta dosha is a combination of two elements, fire and water, but mostly fire. Makes sense, right? Summer is hot, (more or less) depending upon where exactly you live.
As the seasons change the elements that are dominant in the atmosphere change. The more we adjust and change how we live in different seasons, the more in harmony we are with nature. In other words, what we eat, how we schedule ourselves and the activities we partake in should be different from winter to summer or fall.
Pitta dosha is hot, light, bright, intense, sharp, capable, transforming, spreading, strong, and penetrating. Doesn’t that sound like summer? The rule of thumb in Ayurveda is that opposites create balance. We want to apply all things opposite to the above qualities during summertime. We want to cultivate the following: ease, coolness, softness, smoothness, rest, space, relaxation, and awareness.
Here are some simple tips to keep in mind for diet, schedule and exercise this summer:
- Now is the time for salads! With the warmer temperatures we can add more cool and raw foods into the diet. I don’t make salads in the winter but come summertime we are way more likely to have salads each day in my house. I don’t recommend eating ice cold produce out of the fridge. I usually let lettuce and other veggies sit out a bit to come down to room temperature. It’s also ok to eat a little lighter. If you are living in a region of high heat, your body is working to keep you cool and you simply may not need as much to eat.
- Favor cooling spices and foods like cucumber, mint, cilantro and avoid hot, pungent and spicy.
- Avoid exercise in the middle of the day or afternoon. I am always shocked at people running at 1pm in the afternoon on a two-lane black highway with the temperature at 90 degrees! This is so aggravating to the system in summertime. Get out early in the morning to move the body when it’s cooler. If possible, add in some swimming which is the ultimate form of balancing exercise in the summer.
- Include periods of rest during your yoga practice and consider ending with some restorative poses. This will balance out a more vigorous practice and reduce the intensity. Try cooling breaths like Sitali or Sitkari.
- Make sure to take moments of rest. Schedule down time during the week and instead of increasing intensity with over-scheduling, decrease intensity with periods of ease. Make sure you have days to unwind and if possible, a vacation from your normal output.
- Spend time in nature. Nature is soothing and rejuvenating. Move away from screens, stimulation, noise and get out into the sounds and sights of nature. If possible be near a lake or pond or river, some refreshing body of water. This soothes pitta dosha like none other!
How do you know if you are out of balance in pitta season? Here is a quick check list:
- Feeling easily frustrated or agitated? This is a sign of too much pitta.
- Are you quick to get angry? Has your temper been flaring up a lot? This is another indicator of too much heat.
- If you are experiencing rashes, stomach acidity or loose stools you have too much heat in your body.
- Have you been extra critical lately? Of yourself, or others? Catching yourself with a “sharp tongue”? Another, sure sign that pitta dosha is in excess.
These simple adjustments are powerful and will literally help you keep your cool this summer. Enjoy this vibrant time of year and feel calm and balanced, not hot and agitated!