Pitta Season: Ayurvedic Tips to Beat the Heat
Summer is here and bringing the heat! I always look forward to the long days and warm, pleasant nights, to being outside and celebrating all the extra sunlight with friends and family. It’s also Pitta season, and while I love summer, I can’t stand the unbearable heat. So just like any other seasonal transition, I’ll have to do some adjusting to balance my doshas and “beat the heat”, both inside my own body and in my physical surroundings. Here are my six favorite ways to keep cool, calm, and dosha-rific during the summer. (You can add these to your daily routines year-round when your Pitta dosha is out of balance.)
Seasonal Diet – Pitta is characterized as hot, light, penetrating, oily, and liquid. In order to pacify this dosha and counter any resulting imbalance, the best foods to eat during this season are sweet, bitter, and astringent. My favorites of these include sweet fruits like apples, melons, and berries (though avoid sour or citrus fruits); sweet and/or bitter vegetables like cucumbers, spinach, celery, and zucchini; and the lighter grains like white, wild, or basmati rice and quinoa. These ayurvedic recipes for the Pitta season are sure to keep you feeling light, cool, and deliciously fed. Also try to avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol.
Spices – When I say “spices” here, I’m not talking about the hotter ones like black pepper, salt, cumin, or cayenne. I don’t use these at all in my dishes during Pitta season (but I love a little black pepper and Himalayan salt in moderation). Instead, I add a different flavor to my meals with cooler, more soothing spices like cilantro, fennel, dill, cardamom, and saffron. If you’re looking for a real treat, I can’t get enough of fennel and mint tea, served slightly chilled (not iced) with just a splash of honey or muddled berries for extra sweetness.
Self-Massage – One of my favorite ways to give myself some much needed self-love is through massage. During the Pitta season, I turn to Abhyanga, which is a warm-oil massage from head to toe—a mini-retreat any time of day that only takes me 15-20 minutes. Light oils should be used, such as coconut (it smells so amazing) or sunflower, and you can even add some sweet, Pitta-balancing essential-oil scents to your own massage oil, such as lavender, sandalwood, rose, chamomile, or almond.
Sleep – While a sleep routine is essential for any balanced lifestyle, there are slight variations in waking and sleeping times during the different seasons. Through the Pitta season, I aim to be in bed by 10pm and up by 5:30am. The Pitta hours of the night (10pm-2am) are when our body digests both physical food and the emotions/experiences of the day. Staying up past 10pm cuts into that Pitta-restoring time, leading to extra fatigue in the early morning. Taking naps this time of year is perfectly acceptable, and I actually recommend it! Find a cool, shady spot, and give yourself an hour or two of rest after all that summer excitement.
Exercise –When it’s really hot, I try to stay away from any vigorous activity that gets me even hotter and sweatier during the day. Instead, my best ways to get in my daily exercise and stay cool at the same time include swimming, walks in nature (and the shade), and calming vinyasa yoga. These activities still definitely get my body moving, and they make those naps I mentioned that much more enticing.
Meditation – The heat of summer during Pitta season often leaves me feeling overheated and irritable (not at all the same as feeling “hot and bothered”). Meditating in a cool, quiet place brings me right back to calm, peace, and contentment. If you’re new to meditating or have just begun your own practice, check out these great suggestions for Pitta meditation, which are especially helpful during this season.
My favorite part of Pitta season is that rest and play go hand in hand. If you’re anything like me and want to enjoy your outdoor summer activities, look for the best ways to keep cool. Stay on top of things by balancing the penetrating heat with light, sweet foods, self-massage with cooling oils, lots of fluids, and less intense, restorative exercise. For all my Dosha Pop lovers out there, stay on your health lick, soothe the summer heat, and feel good about it with these Pitta-cooling candies.