As the days get longer, and hours with the sun increase, spring’s earth element moves to the sidelines and the transformative element of fire joins water center stage. While the element of water remains from spring into summer, it’s new partner, fire brings forth a new season. In addition, the combination of the fire and water elements also produces pitta qualities in our external environment. When pitta begins accumulating externally, it also begins to rise internally. Impacting our physical, emotional and mental states–even if your constitution or prakriti is not pitta dominant.
An overaccumulation of pitta’s fiery qualities in the mind-body can lead to inflammation, hyperacidity, skin imbalances, hangry, impatience, angry outbursts, or diarrhea to name a few. Playing a role in our immune system’s resiliency not only in the summer months, but the accumulation of heat can also impact our well-being in the fall season.
Through the lens of Ayurveda, each season’s rhythms impact our internal rhythms. A key reason why this ancient science from the Indian sub-continent emphasizes the importance of adopting seasonal routines, or ritucharya. Lifestyle practices catered to harmonize with the external environment that includes and goes beyond eating seasonally. So that we can sway from season to season with Mother Nature’s energy rather than being led by her force.
In the summer, living in harmony with the season involves two key factors–making choices to reduce elevating the fire elements internally and embracing choices that increase pitta’s opposite qualities. The methodology of opposites may sound simple, yet the time-tested science of Ayurveda shows that like increases like and opposites balance is an effective approach to living sustainably. With Mother Nature already providing heat in the summer months, rather than fueling this flame within us and perpetuating the production of the fire element internally, the goal is to keep the fire element gently kindling. Enough to support our metabolic digestive fire, while not increasing heat in the blood, liver, emotions or mind.
If you are a newbie, this may sound a little complex, so to contextualize this logical approach to sustainable, seasonal living practices, we’ve put together some diet and lifestyle tips to the pitta in you balanced.
TIPS ON HOW TO KEEP YOUR PITTA BALANCED IN THE SUMMER SEASON
Shift Where & What time You Excercise
- Opt to work out earlier, when the sun is rising or setting. Since exercise increases internal heat, exercise during the cooler times of the day and leave lunchtime to eating, absorbing and digesting your meal.
- Take your outdoor exercise routine into a shaded forest or indoors. Rather than practicing in an open field or under direct sun exposure, move your routine into a forest, under trees, where the element of earth is stronger, thus more grounding & cooling for the mind-body
Add a Breathing Practice To Your Day To Foster Internal Peace
Turn on your internal AC and support your mental, emotional and hormonal health by balancing your left and right energies with alternate nostril breathing and generate internal coolness and moisture with a sitali pranayama practice.
Lather Yourself in Coconut Oil
Self-massage is a treat for the nervous system, in the summer practice it with raw coconut oil, a natural refrigerant. Coconut oil absorbs quickly and can act as a light sunscreen too! Even if you don’t have time for self-massage, replace your body cream, with all natural coconut oil, its a quick, easy, all-natural and helps cool the body internally.
Aromatherapy Your Way to Stay Calm, Cool & Collected
Wear or diffuse cooling scents like rose, sandalwood, vetiver, ylang ylang. Our nose is connected to the earth element, and what we breathe in can support keeping our mental/emotional bodies grounded and present.
Reach For More Watery Foods
Enjoy summer melons and squashes, berries, cucumbers, stone fruit, lettuce to keep the body cool and hydrated. Plus, water fruits and veggies are also rich in the element of earth, helping our emotions to stay cool and grounded.
Reduce Acidity & Keep Thy Liver Cool
The seat of fire in the body, when overheated can be the source to many pitta imbalances from emotional outbursts to skin rashes, acne and boils. Reduce foods that are harder for the liver to digest and increase acidity. Like, excessive alcohol, red meat, coffee, vinegar, hard cheeses, red chili, and sour tomatoes. Support the cooling of the liver by increasing bitter greens like cabbage, broccoli, spinach, salads, celery. They also act as a gentle daily liver cleaner. A drink we love is The Summer Cooler, a minty-aloe based limeade that tastes more like a mocktail then a medicinal elixir.
Embrace Sweet Foods
Not only does the sweet taste promote grounding energy, but sweet can also keep the body mind-body cool. Aside from fruit, ensure your meals, especially lunch include grains like rice, oats, semolina, bulgar, sprouted wheat. And dessert is great too…lean towards desserts that are the least processed and use unrefined sugars. We love these coconut laddoos aka truffles for the summer season.
Make Lunch Your Heaviest Meal
In Ayurveda, healthy digestion is the key to balanced health. However, while the external environment is heating up our metabolic rate or digestive fire is slowing down. Leading to sluggish digestion and even weight gain for some. Make lunch your largest and heaviest meal and enjoy it from 12 pm – 2 pm. When the sun is at its peak, our metabolic agni or digestive rate too is in full-force. Go with the force! Check out Be a Sunchaser & Cultivate Digestion to learn more.
Support your Metabolic Rate
- Skip the ice, especially while eating, and when your body is digesting. Ice offers a temporary feeling of cool, while it gives mental satisfaction, it also dampens the digestive fire or agni. Potentially putting out the flame completely. Which can lead to ama or toxic build-up from undigested food. Instead, opt for beverages that cool the blood, to stay feel cool like hibiscus-rose teas, raw coconut water, minty-cucumber coolers, celery & cilantro juice.
- Spice it Up! Increase cooling carminative spices to keep the digestive fire kindling and the body eliminating heat like coriander, fennel, cilantro and mint.
Embrace Rest & Quiet Time
Give the mind and body a break whether it’s soaking in a cool pool, taking a nap under trees, reading a good book at home, basking in the early morning or later afternoon sun, or meditating for 20 minutes in the comfort of your own home. With an increase in daylight hours, there is no stop to activity time, and more energy can be expelled outwards than inwards. Remember to give the body time to recoup, by reserving energy for our cells to regenerate and our nervous system to relax. While fun is fun, too much fun can be taxing and stressful on the mind-body.
Acknowledge Your Not So Small Accomplishments
Whether it’s traveling to see as many cities around the world, household projects or hosting a summer bbq the lists of summer to do’s can be never-ending. As humans we come to this earth with lots of desires, its part of our cultural norm to accomplish, accomplish a lot and always be on the go, go, go. Some of us may have internal pressure to meet goals, and over-exceed, this is the pitta in us all. While there’s nothing wrong crossing of tasks or fulfilling life goals, take note of all your accomplishments Even what may seem like little things, like drinking 8 glasses of water, getting up early to run rather than in the mid-afternoon heat, skipping a party to give yourself a break, they may not be your life goals, but these acts of self-care will support your immune system and enable you to accomplish all your favorite things with greater joy. Celebrate them too – they count!