Be Healthy. Be Happy. Naturally.
Where I live, summer is long, hot and humid and often has long periods of drought. It heats up in the middle of May and finally cools down at the end of September with most days in 90’s and even the 100’s. So summer here is definitely pitta season, as pitta is fire and water, and is hot, sharp, oily, liquid and intense.
Everyone experiences summer in a different way. If you have a fiery constitution, you might dread the heat and humidity of summer and dream of spending time in a cooler climate. If you are someone who feels chilled all year round, you might relish the heat of summer. Either way, we all benefit from making adjustments to our diet and lifestyle along with the flow of the seasons.
Ayurveda says that like increases like and opposites balance which is why summer can increase those cranky feelings in a pitta person, and soothe the coldness in a vata person. Overall, the intense heat of summer drains the energy in everyone.
Summer Tips for Everyone.
When it heats up outside, we might start feeling angry, irritable, aggressive, impatient, critical, frustrated, competitive, and have trouble falling asleep. We might develop skin rashes, acne, sunburn, lots of sweating, weaker digestion, heartburn, hyper-acidity, ulcers, loose stools, stinky body odor, excessive thirst, and inflammation. If we ignore simple symptoms, heat can go on to manifest in more serious and harmful conditions such as ulcers, gastritis, liver disorders and heart disease..
Fortunately, what we do in our day to day routine and what we choose to eat can have an enormous impact on how we feel. If you know you are predominantly pitta or already have a pitta imbalance, you’ll want to give more care to your choices in the heat of summer as you are more prone to get hotter, faster.
Simply remembering that opposites decrease and like increases like will help keep you in balance in the summer. You’ll benefit by adding things with the qualities of cool, dry, gentle, heavy and sweet smelling in everything you do - from what you eat and drink to even considering what colors you wear, what you smell and your routine.
These suggestions are if you are in balance or are dominantly pitta or have a pitta imbalance. If you are predominant in another dosha, or have a vata or kapha imbalance, you will need to make different adjustments. An Ayurvedic Practitioner can guide you on what is best for your particular situation.
What to Eat to Cool Your Fire
-Favor sweet (white basmati rice, wheat, most fruits - not refined sugar!), astringent and bitter tastes as these all decrease pitta.
- Vegetable such as greens, cucumbers, celery, okra, lettuce, green beans, squash, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are cooling.
-Juicy fruits such as berries, apples, mangoes, grapes, coconut, pineapples, pears, dates, figs, plums and and melons are terrific.
-Mung beans, garbanzo beans, adzuki beans, milk, freshwater fish and chicken are good proteins.
-Basmati rice, quinoa, wheat, and buckwheat are cooling grains.
-Coriander, fennel, tumeric, basil, cilantro, dill, lime, parsley, mint and saffron are cooling spices.
-Ghee and maple syrup are both soothing and nourishing.
-Coconut milk, mint tea, lemongrass tea and fennel seed tea are all great drinks. Another nice drink is cool water with a touch of maple syrup and a squeeze of lime.
-Avoid acidic, spicy, pungent, salty and sour foods. Especially avoid hot peppers, onions, garlic, sour cheeses and sour fruits, nuts, honey, molasses, red meat, vinegar, and alcohol.
-Avoid leftovers, microwaved and canned foods as these are all difficult to digest.
-You’ll want to drink and eat cool foods, but avoid iced foods and drinks as ice can further weaken your digestion.
-How you eat is as important as what you eat. Eat only when you are hungry. Our digestion is weakest in the summer and it is important to eat lightly and in moderation as simpler meals are easier to digest. Be mindful when you eat so you do not overeat.
Cooling Lifestyle Tips
-Exercise -Be gentle in your exercise and only exercise to 50% of your capacity. Remember pitta is intense and the heat of summer is draining. Breathe through your nose during exercise. If you are exerting yourself so you must breath through your mouth, slow down!
-Avoid exercising during the most fiery time of the day between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The early morning is ideal as it tends to be quieter and cooler. Have fun and relax.
-Hatha Yoga The best hatha yoga for summer is quiet, gentle and restorative that include back bends and twisting postures like cat/cow, cobra, boat, bow and spinal twists. Focus on the heart, the small intestines and the liver. Child's pose, moon salutation and savasana are all important. No competitive or hot yoga!
-Self Massage (Abhyanga) Use cooling and soothing coconut oil. Be gentle with yourself and apply the oil with mindfulness to give your mind a rest. Coconut oil is also great to soothe a sunburn or a rash.
-Get out into Nature. Sit in the cooling shade, walk by the water, or go swimming. Listen to the sounds of nature and the colors of the woods. Spend time sitting near water and bathe or swim in cool water.
-Avoid being outside during the most intense time of the day between 10-2. Wear a hat!
-Clothes: Choose to wear the cooling colors of greens, blues, lilacs, whites, grays and silver. Wear clothing that is light and natural such as cotton, linen and silk. In addition wear cooling silver, pearls,amethysts, moonstones and red coral.
-Scents: Sandalwood, Jasmine and Rose are delightful and cooling scents. Add a drop or two to a spray bottle of water and mist the air to enjoy these lovely scents. After your shower, you can apply a dab of sandalwood, khus or jasmine oil to your forehead and your inner wrists.
-Meditation: Practice a gentle, simple meditation such as focusing on your breath. You can practice mindfulness and simply observe your thoughts. If you notice yourself feeling critical or judgemental, let it go. Smile and feel happy.
-Pranayama: Sitalee is a lovely cooling breathing technique. Simply roll your tongue up like a straw and breathe in over your tongue and out through your nose. If you are unable to curl your tongue, just gently such air in gently over your tongue and feel it cool as it passes over it.
-Sleep: Try to go to bed before 10 p.m. It is lovely to rub some Brahmi oil to the soles of your feet before turning in. Slip on some light socks to protect your sheets. Sleeping on your right side is more cooling to the body. Summer is also is a nice time to enjoy a short afternoon nap.
Kottakkal has many wonderful formulas for cooling pitta down. A consultation with an Ayurvedic Practitioner will determine which formulas are best for you.
I hope you add these tidbits to your daily routine. In the meantime,
Be well and smile often,
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