Summer is Pitta
Each of the year’s seasons is associated with a dominant dosha in Ayurveda; a characterisation which outlines the key qualities which must be balanced in order to maintain good health and steady energy. Summer is dominated by the Pitta dosha.
This means that the qualities of the season are hot, sharp, forceful and penetrating. Summer is intense! And so the secret to staying well during these warm months is to balance the heat and sharpness with food and activities that are imbued with different qualities: cool and gentle.
The effects of excessive Pitta can include:
Burning sensations and skin irritations
Inflammation and fevers
An irritable, very critical, or generally intense mental state
Intensity is High in December
I mentioned that summer is intense — but couple that seasonal quality with the heightened energy and pressures of the holiday season, and emotions can become fraught! It’s common to feel strung out at this time of year. Overheated, overworked, and desperately in need of an ice cold drink and a little alone time.
All of the expectations and family occasions can exaggerate the negative aspects of this Pita summer. But the good thing about that is that Ayurvedic practices can help to balance the silly season stress as well as the summer energy overload.
Ayurveda has been gaining increasing attention in the world of science, and studies show that its systems have stood the test of time. Ayurvedic medicine and preventative practices can protect your health, and reduce the negative effects of stress and anxiety.
So, What Does Ayurveda Advise?
These simple and actionable tips are based on the ancient knowledge of Ayurveda. Use them to cool down, calm down, and sail through summer — and Christmas! — with ease.
Eat foods that cool you down. Light, fresh and plant-based meals will balance the heat and support your health. Try room temperature soups, colourful salad made with lightly steeped vegetables, and green smoothies.
Raw food is harder to digest and therefore not recommended within Ayurvedic tradition — but using veggies or fruits in a smoothie is a quick way to make them easier on your digestive system and up your intake of essential nutrients.
Hydrate! As obvious as it might sound, you’d be surprised at how many people don’t drink quite enough water during the summer time. Aim for 2-3 litres each day. The best way to ensure you do drink enough is to get yourself a 1 litre water bottle; that way, it’s easier to remember that as long as fill that bottle 3 times a day, you’re all set.
Moisturise your skin. The summer sun can dry out the skin — but oily moisturisers can become sticky and uncomfortable in the heat.
So opt for a gentle water-based moisturiser with natural ingredients. If you have very sensitive skin do use cooling coconut oil to moisturise; but use it in the evening when the temperature drops, so it can be absorbed into your skin by the morning.
Look at something which calms your mind. With all this heightened intensity, it’s important to give yourself moments of ease and release. Shift your focus from work or your holiday to-do list, and look out of the window: take some time to gaze restfully at trees, water, or even houseplants.
It’s beneficial to surround yourself with calming and cooling colours too; including white, pale blues and greens, silver and grey.
Discover cooling Pranayama techniques. Shitali utilises the breath to cool the body and brain. Make an ‘O’ shape with the mouth; and then curl your tongue lengthways — or keep the tongue flat if you’re not able to curl it.
And then breathe in through the mouth, close and then slowly out through the nose. I will share a more detailed blog post about this pranayama technique soon.
Stay Cool, Calm, and Embrace the Chaos
By paying attention to your wellbeing even during the busy month of December, you can move through it without being overwhelmed. Remember: you’re not alone.
The reason Ayurvedic medicine includes cooling practices for the hot seasons is because everyone needs to balance the Pitta — you’re not the only one who gets hot and bothered!
Wishing you a breezy and blissful summer.
A sure way to cool down in summer is through a morning mantra immersion. Click here to read more.