Summer is in full swing and temperatures are soaring across the globe. In Ayurveda, the summer months are Pitta season. There is a concept in Ayurveda of “like increasing like”, so if you have a Pitta dominant prakriti (constitution), you may be more at risk of developing pitta imbalances during this time of year.
Pitta imbalances manifest in many different ways throughout the body and mind Here are some of the most common ones:
- Hot flashes
- Increased sun sensitivity
- Bleeding gums
- Excessive sweating
- Body odor/bad breath
- Hair loss/premature greying of hair
- Intense hunger
- Excessive thirst
- Nausea, especially upon missing meals
- Acid reflux
- Diarrhea/burning stool
- Yellow coating on tongue
- Muscle fatigue
- Yellow urine
- PMS symptoms, especially tender breasts
- Tenderness in testicles
- Heavy or painful menstrual bleeding
- Adrenal exhaustion
There are many natural ways to stay cool during pitta season. You don’t need to do everything at once. Choose a few Ayurveda tips for summer to begin with and consider what areas may make the most difference for you. For example, if you eat spicy food regularly, minimize or avoid it for a few weeks and see how you feel.
PITTA PACIFYING DIET AND LIFESTYLE GUIDELINES DIET
Favor cooling Ayurvedic foods that are bitter, sweet and astringent in taste. Bitter foods include dark leafy greens (kale, collard greens, dandelion), bitter melon, basil, aloe vera, nettle, fresh lime juice and barley. Astringent foods include pomegranate, cranberry, lentils, legumes, beans, apples, pears, parsley, dill, cilantro, rosemary and quinoa. Sweet Ayurveda foods that cool the body include sweet fruits (not sour), cashews, almonds, dates, rose, whole grains and organic dairy.
Spices that are particularly good for pitta are saffron, turmeric, fennel, fenugreek, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and caraway.
Rose petal jam, aloe vera juice (1/4 cup twice a day in between meals) and warm turmeric milk are fantastic foods to include into a pitta pacifying diet. Or try this delicious Pitta Balancing Cilantro Juice!
It is also important to eat at regular times throughout the day as pitta dosha can get aggravated if there is too much time in between meals, causing irritability, nausea, vomiting and acidity.
Reduce or eliminate alcohol, nicotine (smoking) and excessive caffeine (especially coffee).
Spend time in nature as it helps to relieve stress and ground pitta’s intense energy. However, do not spend too much time in the sun.
Wear more loose fitting clothing and natural fibers such as linen.
Physical activity is important but for pitta types, it’s best to do more cooling types of exercise such as hiking/walking in the early morning or evening, yoga (not hot yoga), cycling or swimming.
Forward bend poses in yoga are cooling and are great to focus on when it’s hot outside or you are experiencing pitta imbalance. Examples of these are corpse pose (shavasana), child’s pose (balasana), supine spinal twist (supta jathara parivartanasana) and standing wide-leg forward bend (prasarita padottanasana).
Begin a daily meditation practice, even if it’s just 5 minutes a day to start.
Try cooling pranayama breath such as Sheetali. To do this, sit comfortably, begin natural, slow diaphragmatc breathing. Stick your tongue out halfway and create a tight “u” shape with the tongue, almost like a straw. Slowly breathe in the air through the tongue, while expanding the rib cage. Close the mouth, and slowly exhale through the nose. Repeat this process for 2-3 minutes, then return to regular breathing for a few minutes. You can eventually increase this practice to 10 minutes.
Listen to calming music such as classical music, flute or anything low key.
In addition to making time for these natural ways to stay cool, it is also important to balance activity and rest. Overworking is all too common in this day and age and can throw the body and mind out of balance.
Fill your home with the scent of cooling flowers such as rose, jasmine and geranium. Or use a diffuser for essential oils of these scents.
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