It’s here! Summer! A time for picnics, swimming, beaches and lots of sunshine. So what can you do to make sure that you have a healthier summer? Ayurveda recognizes that the patterns found in nature can also be found within our bodies. We are constantly interacting with nature and as the seasons change so do our bodies. That means what you were doing in the winter and spring, may not be what your body need in the summer.
To understand what happens to your body during the summertime, you must first understand the characteristics of the Pitta dosha, which is the dominant Ayurvedic dosha in the summer. Pitta is the dosha responsible for transformation and is associated with our digestion, assimilation and metabolism. And just like the sun, Pitta radiates lots of heat and energy. The heat is associated with a good healthy metabolism and a good appetite. But when it goes out of balance Pitta people tend to get overheated. This can make you feel easily irritated and angered as well as make you vulnerable to inflammatory conditions, food allergies and skin rashes especially with too much sun exposure.
The Pitta dosha has specific qualities such as hot, oily, sharp, spreading and liquid. These qualities are manifested as specific physical characteristics in Pitta individuals who are in balance. Hot represents a strong, healthy appetite. Oily can be seen as soft, supple skin. Sharpness manifests as a strong intellect and an active mind that is able to solve problems and stay organized. Spreading can be seen as the desire to create and be involved in many projects, which is why Pitta people are often popular with others. Liquid is an aspect of Pitta which allows for easy transportation, and that is why Pitta individuals often tend to sweat easily and have multiple bowel movements a day.
So how does this tie into summer balance? Summer is usually the hottest time of the year with the sun being the closest to the earth. This increases the Pitta within us all. But if your Pitta was already out of balance, you will have tendency to have more health problems during the summer. The first signs of excess Pitta that I typically notice in myself are more irritability and greater skin sensitivity to the sun. In the summer time, Pitta individuals may start becoming more aggressive, break out in rashes, have worsening heart burn or stomach pain, catch a “summer” cold, suffer from worsening allergies, get heat stroke, and get more headaches as the weather gets warmer. But just because you have too much Pitta doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the summer. You just need to take some healthy precautions to prevent your Pitta from getting out of balance
The key to keeping Pitta balanced in the summer is easy – just chill out! Here are few easy ways to keep your Pitta nice and cool.
1. Spend less time in the sun. Avoid doing hard work during the hours between 10 am and 2 pm, which is when the sun is the hottest. When you go outdoors, keep your head covered and drink lots of fluids.
2. Avoid hot foods. Diet is the most powerful way to keep Pitta cool. During the summer avoid foods that increase the heat in your body such as chilies, vinegar, oily foods, fried foods, fermented foods, salt, cheese and sour foods. In place of these items, eat foods that have a cooling effect on your body such as sweet, watery fruits like melons and mangoes and green leafy vegetables.
3. Try rose-petal preserves. They’re a wonderful, tasty treat that will help you cool down your heart and mind. You can spread them on bread or just eat them straight.
4. Get a coconut-oil massage. It’ll help to draw out excess heat from your body. Just rub coconut oil over your body and let it absorb for 5 minutes before your shower. You can also rub it on your feet at night especially if your feet start to burn at bedtime.
5. Have some fun! Pitta individuals can sometimes get too serious and caught up in their head. Do your best to balance hard work with some relaxation time with family and friends.
6. Go for a swim. Swimming is the best exercise in the summer. The cool water balances out the excess heat inside your body.
7. Make my favorite summer drink! Try freshly squeezed watermelon and cucumber juice with a hint of rose water.
You have a great opportunity to be in harmony with nature by learning to balance your lifestyle, diet and activities with each season. This helps you to understand yourself better year round and keep you feeling great all the time.
Have a great summer!