The season of summer in Ayurveda is connected to the Pitta Dosha, consisting of the elements of FIRE and WATER. The weather gets hot and humid, or you maybe caught in a sudden thunderstorm. I used to think living in the north of England means that we have no Pitta season. I recently learned that Pitta season does not necessarily mean hot and sunny, it also means that the days are getting longer - the sun, fire element - is present longer in the sky, even when it is covered by the clouds. It just may be that Pittas living in this climate find it easier to stay in balance.
The main attributes of Pitta Dosha are hot, sharp, penetrating, light, liquid, mobile, little oily. The energy of transformation! You can easily recognise a Pitta personality as they are courageous, analyzing, sharp, leaders, intelligent, detailed, obsessed with time, love a competition and when balanced joyful, fun, perceptive.
As you can see above, this active and transforming energy is very fiery, thus it can make us angry, irrational, overly emotional or can represent itself as intense hunger / insatiability when out of balance. Summer is the time for us to cool down!
How can we balance this energy in nature in our lives for optimum health? By focusing on the opposing qualities. Cooling this fire by spreading it, letting it out, creating space and direction for it. Pittas hold stress especially strong, our aim is to release this. In our Yoga practice we create this balance by creating space in the mid section, turning to lateral stretches, twists, mild inversions, moving the energy and cooling it at the same time.
We focus on cooling breaths, like the Shitali breath. We salute the moon, the opposing force of the sun to cool us down. We inncrease our mindfulness and practice compassion and gratitude.
In our diet we turn to cooling foods, like fruits, vegetables, grains, ghee, dairy like whole milk, mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese. To balance this Dosha we should favour the tastes of sweet, bitter and astringent from the 6 tastes of Ayurveda. The good news is in Pitta season we can get away with ice cream and dark chocolate too (in moderation of course). For the non-vegetarians, fish, chicken and eggs are a good option too. Making sure we stay hydrated, drinking water infused with cucumber or mint is very refreshing at this time, or peppermint tea. Trying to avoid Alcohol is a big one in the summer, I know it may be hard but the double fire may create a volcano...The 5 main food types to avoid are spicy, fermented, acidic, greasy and overly salty foods (for example: spices, garlic, onion, tomato, pepper, yogurt, sour cheese, soy, citrus fruits, red meat, red wine). To balance Pitta our plates should consists of 1/3 carbs, 1/3 veggies and 1/3 protein, with optimally 3 meals a day, breakfast and dinner being lighter and lunch being the main meal.
One of the easiest way to bring this movement and activation into the body is by balancing
the elements of FIRE and WATER through the senses. Each of our 5 senses are connected to an element:
Earth = Smell
Water = Taste
Fire = Sight - Feet
Air = Touch
Ether = Sound
Balancing the FIRE element through it's corresponding sense of Sight - screen detox! That's a big one, but nothing cools Pitta down more than a bit of time turning their attention inward from the fast, competitive world of social media. A gentle, caring foot massage with coconut oil (cooling oil) will do wonders. Foot bath in cold water with aromatherapy - rose, jasmine and lavender. Reflexology.
Balancing the WATER element through it's corresponding sense of Taste could mean making sure that you chew the food thoroughly before swallowing (recommended at least 32 times), eat the right tastes for your Dosha (if you do not know what your Dosha is but interested to find out then come along to my Yoga for your Dosha workshop). Try to avoid over eating and comfort eating as when Pitta is out of balance their appetite goes through the roof, or should I say, their cravings go through the roof.
We will do plenty to balance the Pitta Dosha during the Summer in our classes, but as a lot of us are travelling and can not make it to class in the summer make sure to keep the exercise up (15 + minutes daily does wonders to release the pent up energy) by either swimming, walking bare feet on the beach, walking in the early morning or evening when the sun is not strong, moonlight walks, anything which is not competitive will work.
If you would like to know more about Pitta read a short summary on the website:
or this wonderful article from Yoga International going into detail on the subject:
Photo credit: YogaInternational