THE AYURVEDIC PITTA SEASON (SUMMER) SURVIVAL GUIDE!
Finally, summer is almost upon us! And we are all excited to get outside, to soak up the sun, to play, to celebrate and to express. But, it's important that we find skillful ways to relish in the heat while avoiding the undesirable consequences of excess Pitta energy in the system, such as sunstroke, heatstroke, fever, inflammation and diarrhea.
In Ayurveda, we call this time period Pitta Season. During the moist heat of spring, Pitta Dosha, with its qualities of Fire and Water, accumulates in the environment and thus in our bodies to counter-balance the effects of Kapha Season’s Earth and Water energies. Therefore, as we feel the seasonal shift occur, we can sense, if we are living in alignment with mother nature’s rhythms, that in order to balance the sharp, hot, light and mobile effects of Pitta Season, we must soften, cool and slow it down!
As the days becomes so much longer and the blazing heat and humidity burns ferociously, summer gives us the opportunity to take action, socialize and play!
But if we are living in ignorance of Ayurvedic wisdom, and making choices that go against the natural inclinations of the seasons, we can spend the Summer wrestling with inflammatory conditions of the body and mind, such as rashes, acne, heartburn, migraines, stress, anger, over-control, aggression and even violence.
This Summer Survival Guide will be an ongoing blog entry, with new suggestions added regularly over the next two weeks, so be sure to follow us on Instagram or sign up to our newsletter to know when new entries are made.
PITTA TIP #1: EAT A SUMMER DIET
Pitta energy (Fire + Water) is hot, oily, sharp. Ayurveda teaches us that like increases like and opposites bring about balance. So with that natural law in mind and heart, what energies will bring balance at this time? Coolness, dryness and softness.
In terms of a healing Summer diet, focus your choices towards foods that are:
SWEET (earth + water): maple syrup, rice, sugar, fruit, carbohydrates, grains, natural sugars, milk
BITTER (air + ether): bitter melon, turmeric, dandelion, aloe vera, dark leafy greens, fenugreek, neem
ASTRINGENT (air + earth): unripe plantain, raw fruits & vegetables, pomegranate, chickpeas, yellow split peas
One of the easiest ways to incorporate these balancing tastes into your diet is to begin cooking with our Pitta Ayurvedic Spice Mix. Featuring the Pitta-pacifying spices of fennel, coriander, licorice, cumin, cardamom and turmeric, you can sprinkle some into your cooking or even make a digestive tonic by mixing 1/2 tsp into 1 cup of warm water, and drink 10 minutes before every meal.
PITTA TIP #2: MOVE AT A MODERATE PACE
Summer is the perfect time to increase your physical activity, and to get outdoors as much as possible. Increased movement is actually wanted by life at this time! So don't hesitate to throw on a pair of running shoes and head out the door on a daily basis!
However, Pitta types have the tendency to want to move very quickly. They will pack their days full to the brim, leaving very little time to relax, eat, or to even breathe! In their exercise routines, they will favour workouts or activities that are high in intensity! Their intention will be goal-oriented, hoping to achieve something rather than simply for the enjoyment of the experience.
Pitta constitutions will tend towards activities like high intensity interval training (HIIT), power or hot yoga, running, competitive sports, extreme sports, and more. All constitutions may feel a little more drawn towards these kinds of activities in the summer months, as well, simply because Pitta energy is strongest at this time of the year.
It is important that you come into awareness of your personal sense of ambition and how it drives you into future-thinking and projection in the moment, rather than moving from a place of rooted presence in the Now. There is of course nothing wrong with having dreams and goals for the future, but by holding them more lightly as a potential rather than a 'have-to,' we can avoid the unwanted experience of having our internal pot boil over, burning ourselves and all those who come into contact with us.
Pitta-types should make an effort to firstly, actually consider whether they even enjoy the type of physical activity that they are doing, or whether they are simply in it for the perceived benefits and results. Life is far too precious to be engaging in activities that are not loved!
Next, they should make a conscious effort to turn the intensity-notch down one or two levels. In a yoga class, they could choose to cut their attendance at hot yoga classes in half, and fill the freed-up time with moderate-style classes, yin yoga classes, or another activity that feels more light, joyful and fun! They should move at a moderate pace, taking breaks when they feel themselves over-heating or becoming stressed.
Yes! Fun is important. Which brings us to our third suggestion! Pitta-types should notice where they are taking their physical activity too seriously. Infusing their time of exercise with an attitude of play will balance and soothe Pitta Dosha, allowing them to remain or discover joy, happiness and ease in both the body and the mind.
Make a commitment to engage in a 30 minute to 1 hour moderate and fun movement practice, and consider planning your practice for the Kapha time periods of the day: between 6-10am or 6-10pm rather than during the Pitta time of the day (10am-2pm), when our fire is already burning strongly, causing us to over-heat! And certainly, do not exercise between the Pitta time of night (10pm-2am)!
And to cool down during and at the end of a summer sweat session, you can spritz your face with our Pitta Botanical Toner or our Organic Rose Water to feel refreshed, soothed and calm! This is an excellent ritual for all Doshas in the summer!
And to avoid the unwanted annoyance of oily and inflamed acneic skin that can sometimes erupt in the summer, consider trying our 3-Step Pitta Facial Care Line, so loved for the way in which it keeps acne-prone, sensitive, inflamed or freckled skin soothed and clear. It includes our Pitta Ubtan, Pitta Botanical Toner & our Pitta Facial Elixir (large).
So make sure you move but cool your jets, Pittas!
PITTA TIP #3: SITALI or SITKARI PRANAYAMA
Sitali Pranayama, or the cooling breath, is a very effective tool for cooling the body, lowering the actual body temperature, and calming a Pitta-imbalanced mind. This is an easy practice that can be done daily, and is especially helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed by the summer heat, or overcome with anger or even hot flashes. And even if none of these imbalances are present, this technique will keep you balanced all summer long, offering cooling and moisture to the system.
If you are not able to curl the sides of the tongue up and into a tube, then you can always practice Sitkari. Bring the top and bottom rows of teeth together gently and without causing tension in the jaw. Open the lips as widely as is comfortable. Slowly breathe in through the small gaps between the teeth, making a hissing sound. Hold the breath at the top of the inhale for a few moments, and then exhale through the nose.
Both Sitali and Sitkari are amazing self-air-conditioners in the summer, but should typically be avoided by anyone experiencing an extreme Vata or Kapha imbalance and should generally be reduced or skipped entirely throughout the winter months.
PITTA TIP #4: MOON BATHE
The moon represents the feminine, lunar or yin aspect of the universe. Her energy is cooling, calming, sweet, passive and nurturing. It's no wonder that she appears during the time of the day when it is intended for all of life to turn inward, to rest and to digest all of the days 'active-ities.'
For Pitta season, or a Pitta-constitution, the moon represents freely available medicine that returns night after night as a soothing balm for any literal or metaphorical burns that may have accumulated in the heat of the day.
The full moon, or Purnima, as it's known in Sanskrit, is a potent opportunity to absorb and harness this Shakti energy into your body and mind. This monthly event can become a personal Pitta-pacifying ritual that will harmonize the feminine, lunar aspects within you.
You might also want to consume full-moon charged water the following morning. To do this, place your copper cup or copper water bottle somewhere visible to the moon and leave it overnight. Then drink on an empty stomach in the morning.
Be mindful however, not to make these rituals into another healing 'task' to be completed. This can be the default tendency for a Pitta mind. Gather with friends and let the full moon be ripe with fun and celebration! Which is medicine in itself for Pitta energy!
PITTA TIP #5: TAKE YOUR HERBS (AUSHADHI CHIKITSA)
This Summer, tailor your choices of herbal supplementation to herbs that offer the energetics of soothing and cooling, and focus on herbs that boast a Rasa (taste) that is sweet, bitter or astringent.
The following are general recommendations for Pitta Season, for Pitta constitutions (Prakruti) and for long-standing Pitta Vikruti (imbalances), however, we always suggest to check in with an Ayurvedic Practitioner or doctor for individualized recommendations.
Shatavari is a powerful and effective herb for pacifying Pitta Dosha.
With tastes that are sweet & bitter as well as cooling energetics, this herb, which means “she who possesses 100 husbands,” is both excellent for calming down excess Pitta in the system as well as acting as a rejuvenant.
Shatavari also works at the level of the female reproductive system, bringing balance to women’s hormones at every stage of their lives—while they are menstruating, menopausal and post-menopausal.
She also offers fertility-enhancing benefits and increases the production of breastmilk in nursing mammas.
We at RASA Ayurveda, offer Shatavari as a stand-alone herb as well as in our beloved WILD WOMAN POTION.
This potion is an amazing product to help women re-energize, combat stress and balance their hormones. And, well, to access a little more of their wildness! And we could all use some more of that energy after months of lockdowns, in a balanced and harmonious expression of course ;) !
Manjistha is probably the best blood purifying herb in Ayurvedic medicine. It is anti-inflammatory and clears acne. Manjistha cleans the blood and liver, lowering pitta disorders in the skin, and clearing acne. It cools and detoxifies the blood, and cleanses and regulates liver and kidney functions. Take this herb in capsule form (2 capsules in the morning, and 2 capsules at night) if you are suffering from any Pitta skin disorders. Or, take it with warm milk before bed.
Manjistha can be found in our SKIN PURGE POTION, a powerful potion packed full of Vitamin C and so excellent for clearing skin disorders caused by stress and excess Pitta in the system as well as to clean out Ama (toxins) from the bloodstream.
It can also be found in our PITTA ABHYANGA OIL (self-massage oil) as one of the main carrier oils. Infused with several herbal oils (made in house) of shatavari, manjistha, brahmi and neem, as well as organic and high-quality essential oils of peppermint, palo santo, rose geranium, fennel and palmarosa (just to name a few), your skin, tissues and organs will absorb and reap the benefits of this cooling and stress-releasing anointment.
Neem is one of the most powerful blood purifiers and detoxifiers in Ayurvedic herbology. Best for acne, skin diseases, wound healing, and skin damage (especially from the sun), neem is useful for all Pitta disorders (such as skin and eyes). It works wonders for eczema and psoriasis skin flare-ups. It is also useful for joint and muscle pain. Use neem on the skin in a medicated oil.
We carry Neem in our apothecary as a stand-alone herb! And it can also be found in our Liver Scrub Potion.
The liver is considered a seat of Pitta dosha, which is why we highly recommend cleansing this vital organ at this time. Our LIVER SCRUB POTION, containing Neem, is a simple way to assist the liver in its detoxification efforts of held Ama (toxic waste) from nutritional, environmental & technological pollutants, as well as from the garbage of heated emotional holdings.
Start by mixing 1/2 tsp into purified water, aloe juice or coconut water and take 2x/day. Continue for 1 month. Consult your Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor for personalized dosage recommendations. Or book an Ayurvedic Consultation with Tiffany to get the deepest results.
Other Spring herbal supports are our PITTA TEA, a cup full of cooling, calming and refreshing herbs, balanced by the stabilizing and cold/flu-fighting benefits of tulsi leaf!
PITTA TIP #6: LESSEN STIMULATION
We live in a Pitta-driven world, in which we are encouraged to be in constant doership-mode. We are expected to be moving constantly, doing constantly , producing constantly, achieving constantly, and in case you hadn’t noticed yet, the keyword here is 'constantly.' And in the summertime, because Pitta energy is more elevated in all of nature, this urge to be living in a state of chronic doing and stimulation can spiral out of control individually and collectively.
In reflection of this misguided commitment to living in Pitta energy 24/7, our outer environment encourages and manipulates us into more doing, while discouraging rest, relaxation and integration. Our 5 senses are infiltrated with advertisements , with seductive images, smells, tastes and sounds intended to drive us into a forever pursuit of ‘shiny objects’ external to us for nothing more than a temporary hit of pleasure or relief. We are stoked to diverge from our centre to find satisfaction, chasing the elusive carrot that dangles incessantly just out of our reach.
So, during the summer time especially, but during every season, it is so important to make a conscious effort to limit the amount of stimulation that you are exposed to on a daily basis.
But this can be so difficult, especially as the majority of us have moved to spending more and more time online and less time interacting within meaningful social connections and natural spaces.
So here are some tips!
- When you wake up in the morning, do not let emails or scrolling through social media be one of the first activities that you engage in. Even if you must turn on your phone, set it to ‘Do Not Disturb’ until at least 8am, so that you can have some valuable time, during the auspicious period of the day known as Brahma Muhurta to connect internally to the space within you that seeks for and needs nothing to be satisfied. Learn more about the Ayurvedic morning routine here.
- Spend at least 30 min in nature every day. Build this into your daily schedule and make it a high-priority commitment. This daily immersion offers us the chance to be reminded at a cellular level of our intrinsic oneness with nature. Like the trees, we can recall that we need not strive for anything, and yet all growth occurs of its own accord and all is taken care of. Bathing in nature allows all 5 senses to intake natural medicine, saturating ourselves with Life in its most natural form. In the summer, you can also allow your time in nature to be the period in which you engage in moderate exercise.
- Listen to calming music. Specifically Pitta-balancing sounds can include recordings of softly flowing streams and waves lapping against the shore.
- Take time to consciously rest, relax and CHILL every day! Yes, chill it dude! You don’t have to own a surf or skateboard to abide by this often overlooked wisdom. Spend 20-30 min simply observing life. Sit on your couch, or in a rocking chair on your front porch. Watch the squirrels and chipmunks scurry by. Listen to the birds. Play some joyful music and dance without any agenda. Connect and share with a friend over tea.
- Connect with your emotions! Pitta-types can have the tendency to be too busy, intense or stoic to pay attention to their emotions. In fact, when out of balance, they will tend towards suppressing their emotions entirely. Try buying a journal that can fit in your bag and spend even just 10 minutes per day, in stream-of-consciousness writing, pouring all variations of emotional arisings out of your body and onto paper. This will allow you to access your own deep, inner feelings that you often ignore, opening to truer connection with yourself, greater authenticity in the way that you relate to others, and avoiding the inevitable emotional eruptions that will surely ensue when suppressed emotions boil over the proverbial lid.
- Switch to natural aromatherapy. Give away, or dispose of your regular perfumes and colognes and expose yourself uniquely to natural scents. Cooling scents like sandalwood and rose are especially balancing for Pitta dosha. You can find our easy to carry Pitta Sacred Essence here, for keeping in your bag and applying throughout the day.
- Turn off all electronic devices by 8pm. Logging off will allow the brain and nervous system to settle and prepare for sleep. And as one of the 3 pillars of health according to Ayurveda, quality sleep is deeply important for overall health, vitality and happiness. Spend the last 20-30 minutes before bed in meditation or practicing Yoga Nidra. You can find guided meditation recordings here.