Also check out my YouTube channel: What Does Ayurveda Say About Summer?
Raise your hands if it's HOT outside! Maybe the weather is sticky humidity or maybe it's hot n' dry — feeling like you're walking in a blow dryer (Vegas, anyone?).
Or maybe you've got a perfectly sunny 75 degree day with a light breeze. *exhale, wiggle toes* The sun is out much longer this time of year, creating more heat and longer days, but that can feel kinda like we're "on" all day long. While we are excited to play in our day a bit longer, which can make us a bit more tired.
When the seasons change, we need to transition properly so that we practice the right diet and lifestyle regimens in the correct season.
Spring is kapha season, which is ruled by the elements water and earth. In spring we love to have light, spicy, dry foods to balance the dampness and chilliness in the environment.
Summer is pitta season, which is ruled by the elements fire and water. The energy of summer is completely different than spring and so, our diet and lifestyle needs to adjust accordingly. We don't wear a down parka in summer, we wear summer clothes —similarly, our diet & lifestyle has to change also because the change of seasons is when we are most likely to get sick.
Since we are moving from a chilly, damp climate to a warmer climate, we will begin to wean off of warming/spicy foods from spring and instead, bring in fresh fruits, veggies and grains. The farmers' markets provide everything you could need for summer so load up! Notice the colors, the smells, the textures. Nature is no dummy — it gives us exactly what we need! Berries, melons, stone fruits, grapes, cucumber, arugula, leafy greens, and fresh summer herbs like mint are all balancing for us this time of year.
If there was any time of year that is "good" for raw foods, now is the time, as long as you can digest them properly. We don't want heavy comfort foods or overly spicy foods. We crave fresh, cooling, and mild foods to balance out the heat in nature. Too much spice, grease, alcohol, salt, sour or fermented foods will aggravate pitta and cause problems like heartburn or skin rashes.
A big no no is exercising in the sun. It's too hot! Pitta is hot, sun is hot, exercise increases heat...and it will increase pitta dosha, and leave you feeling exhausted and like you're going to pass out. Rather than giving us strength, exercising this way can actually deplete the body, which is counterintuitive to the benefits of exercise. Instead, choose early morning, later in the evening or take a walk under the moonlight (you get bonus points for that!)!
Anything that is cooling on the skin is awesome exercise for pitta, like swimming or biking (cool breeze!). Yoga, pilates, ballet barre are all great too because they won't overheat us and as a bonus, they will calm our mind that may get agitated this time of year. Exercise should be fun and nourishing, it should not totally kick your tooshie. You'll get wiped out.
Pimples, blotchy redness, rashes, sunburn etc., are all common now. Pitta rules the skin, and specifically for pitta people, they might notice their skin problems getting worse in the summer.
Don't panic, it's just a signal from the body that there is too much heat. You can start to balance the skin through diet with cooling foods that absorb heat like bitter and astringent foods including, kale, arugula, aloe vera juice, pomegranate juice, and cilantro.
Coconut oil can be a nice massage for pitta especially on the feet (it actually helps the eyes! I know! the feet are a direct link to the eyes), because coconut is a cooling oil. I love Banyan's coconut oil. Sometimes applying coconut oil to the skin can help oily redness...because sometime the heat dries out the skin, so the body overcompensates by pumping in more oil. It will vary by person, but just know this exists and don't be afraid to experiment and find a balance that works for you.
The pitta mind is sharp. It's analyzing, organizing, discriminating, sorting, processing...oof! Because the pitta mind is so busy trying to achieve, it doesn't always take the rest it needs to get clear!
Meditation will help. I like to think of meditation like when you go to the lake and put a stick in the shallow part and stir it all around — the sand and water mix up and you can't really see the stick anymore. But if you wait a little bit, the sand settles, the water gets more clear, and you can see the bottom.
That's what meditation does for our mind. It settles our flurry of constant thoughts, so that we can be clear on our next pitta-sharp-ninja move!
Make time to do 5-20 minutes of meditation daily!
Sorry! I know. It's fun to have cocktails and bubbles in summer, but alcohol has all the qualities to increase pitta. It is sour, fermented, heating, subtle, moving and negatively affects proper build of the tissues (however! medicated wine can be used in ayurveda to treat blood/liver disorders because the herbs get taken right to the source! cool hey?).
I'm not saying don't have fun, I'm saying you'll feel like crap if you have too many summer parties with too much wine. So have less or swap with a cucumber water cooler.
If you must, a light cold beer is better than white wine, which is better than red wine, which is better than the hard stuff. Ok?
Have less (or none) and your mind will clear up, you'll be less irritable, less dry, less hot, your skin will look better and you'll sleep better. Try omitting it for 2 weeks and let me know how you feel, [email protected]
Spring was all about spices and movement and activity, but summer can make us really tire. Even our agni (digestive fire) is not as active in the summer.
If you feel like just kicking up your feet at the lake (the same lake with the stick!) then do it. If you feel like cozying in the hammock with a good book, do it. If you feel like having a popsicle and sticking your feet in a cool kiddie pool of water, do it.
Pitta energy is the striver-driver of the three doshas, but in summer we'll likely go in quick bursts (like pitta does) and then we get pooped. Pushing ourselves could over do it and only create extra stress, which is NOT the path to R&R.
So! To make the most impact on your life, don't just read about Ayurveda, practice it! Look at this list of 6 and choose 1 to work on this week! *write it down*
If this resonates and you'd like more in-depth teachings from moi on how to balance pitta, sign up for the pitta summer workshop!
Either way, you'll keep bringing Ayurveda to life!