Summer is the season when the intense heat and extra activity can fan the flames of your Agni, or digestive fire. The Gunas, or qualities of the fire and water elements, which are most predominant at this time, are hot, sharp, spreading, oily, light, and intense. This is why it is so important to bring in the opposite qualities, to adopt a softness and playfulness during these months and to take everything a little bit slower.
Agni that becomes over-heated and overly influenced by Pitta Dosha can become, what is called, Tiksna Agni (sharp digestion). This can lead to overly active digestion, or hyper-metabolism, and very fast-moving, sharp and burning elimination. When this sets in, hunger will be rampant, but absorption will be limited due to the intense and rapid rate of digestion. Tiksna Agni can lead to diarrhea, hyper-acidity, acid reflux, colitis and other inflammatory conditions. At the level of the personality, this imbalance will express through anger, a tendency to be critical, sharp, lacking in compassion, impatient and controlling.
Following these 6 simple tips to balance your digestion in the summer will soothe inflamed digestion, bring balance and help to maintain its healthiest functioning:
1. Emphasize the tastes of Sweet, bitter & astringent
These are the most balancing Rasas (tastes) for Pitta Dosha, as all of these tastes are Pitta-reducing.
2. Sip Warm or room-temp water with Coriander Powder throughout the day
Alternatively, you can use our Pitta Spice Mix, or sip on water with cucumber, fresh mint, or a splash of rose water. Drinking coconut water or aloe juice are also good alternatives. The cooling properties of these beverages will calm the fires of Pitta.
Our Vegan Coconut Takra (Ayurvedic Buttermilk) Recipe is also a great support for digestion all summer-long.
3. Eat your biggest meal at lunch time ( Pitta time of the day)
The hours between 10am-2pm are dominated by Pitta, meaning that our Agni also burns the strongest at this time, because Agni is related to Pitta. Take advantage of how brightly your inner fire is burning and eat your largest and heaviest meal at this time.
4. Limit oily, spicy, sour, heavily salted & inflammatory foods
This includes things like coffee, black tea, alcohol, fried foods. The sharpness, heat, oiliness and Rajasic quality of these foods will irritate Pitta and continue to perpetuate its imbalance.
5. Don't fast too long between meals, stick to a regular eating routine
Fasting for too long between meals can create acid reflux as well as irritability for Pitta-predominant individuals.
6. Practice Shitali Pranayama or lunar breathing through the left nostril
Sitali Pranayama is a breathing practice that moves the breath and Prana through the mouth, rather than the nose, which has the effect of reducing body temperature. Sitali is so beneficial int eh summer, but quite the opposite during the winter, or when you are cold, weak or experiencing a chest cold or dampness in the lungs.
To practice Sitali, sit comfortably with a tall spine. Stick your tongue out and curl it into a U-shape. Inhale slowly through the tongue, to full capacity, while relaxing the neck, jaw, shoulders and the face. Draw your tongue back in and hold the breath for a few seconds. Then, exhale slowly through both nostrils.
Repeat for 1-10 minutes and notice the cooling sensation that begins to set in.
(If you cannot curl your tongue, you can practice Sitkari by bringing the bottom and top teeth together and placing the tip of the tongue at the roof of the mouth just behind the upper teeth.)
Practice these simple shifts every day in the summer and see how much cooler, happier and lighter you feel in the heat! Happy Summer!