Feeling a little fiesty or over-heated these days? As spring starts to transition to summer I started noticing my pitta fires getting inflamed already. What the heck is my pitta fire? No, it’s not a crazy yogi bon fire party. The season of summer is related to the pitta dosha in Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science of nutrition and healing. it’s important to keep our internal cool and balance the extra heat that’s easy to accumulate and cause aggravation this summer.
Signs of pitta imbalance include diarrhea, burning sensations, skin irritations, acne, odorous sweating, fever, general inflammation, and a hypercritical or intense mental outlook. I personally notice it most when my skin breaks out, I sometimes get cold sores, I get angered easily, and I get “hangry” often. “Hangry” is when I am hungry and it makes me angry and I can’t think and I eat the first food I can find. It’s not pretty. Pitta governs digestion and metabolism, so the fire may flare first in the small intestine and the stomach—pitta’s main seats in the body—with excesses of digestive acid and bile. That’s heartburn by the way.
It’s a fundamental principle of Ayurveda that like increases like. In Ayurveda: Secrets of Healing (South Asia Books, 1998), Ayurvedic teacher and author Maya Tiwari writes, “The doshas are not simply the dynamic energy within the body; rather, they are influenced primarily by seasonal variations.” As summer heats up, we become prone to accumulating excess pitta. If we already possess a pitta prakriti (nature), we’re at an even higher risk of becoming out of balance. If you are curious what your prakriti or nature is according to ayurveda you can take a quiz online. It’s kind of fun.
What to do when pitta’s boiling over? Keep in mind that doshic imbalances can vary in manifestation and severity, depending on many factors. If you’re simply a touch overheated, tune in to your senses and try applying opposing qualities to maintain balance in the midst of summer’s swelter. I have started to eat more fruit, smoothies, and have been thinking about ways to shift my yoga practice and teaching so it’s more aligned with the season. I’ll be focusing more on forward folds and twists and transitioning from the inversions and strength of spring. The following are some ways you can cool down according to Ayurveda and yogajournal.com:
TASTE – Bitter, sweet, and astringent tastes calm pitta, so eat more foods like apples, grapes, zucchini, lettuce, cucumbers, cilantro, and fresh organic dairy. Eliminate or reduce your intake of alcohol, heavy meats, and fried, oily, salty, spicy, and sour foods. Instead of salt, use fennel seeds, coriander, fenugreek, and fresh lime juice for seasoning.
TOUCH – Wear breathable natural fibers that have a cooling effect, such as cotton and linen.
SMELL – Treat yourself to a fresh bouquet of tuberose, gardenia, or freesia. Or dab on a diluted essential oil: Try rose, jasmine, geranium, vetiver, or ylang ylang.
SIGHT – Take a break from work that requires intense visual focus. Gaze at summer’s verdant trees and meadows. Surround yourself with cooling hues of pearl white, blue, green, silver, and gray.
SOUND – Listen to calming music which can help calm your heart and soothe your spirit.