We’ve discussed the principles of Ayurveda before on Peaceful Dumpling, including the three types of dosha (energy), oil pulling, when to eat certain kinds of foods, and the recommended daily routine. According to Ayurveda, each of us are influenced by pitta, vata, or kapha doshas, usually with one that predominates. Vata is composed of elements of air and space; kapha is of water and earth. And pitta is primarily driven by fire energy–which makes it most likely to be affected during summer months.
Naturally, people who are already pitta-driven are more likely to become over-pitta’ed in warm weather. Now, enter the part of every post where I talk about me! Seriously though, I always experience such an imbalance almost as soon as daytime temperature reaches the 80s. This starts with lack of appetite, light insomnia and waking up at odd hours, and develops into lethargy, overheated feeling, and upset moods later in the summer, when the mercury really rises. Surely enough, I’ve been having restless nights recently, and someone I just met told me I’m “argumentative and almost rebellious.” (My answer: “NO I’m not”).
To prevent myself from bursting into flames come August, I’ve decided to adopt some preventive Ayurvedic tips for summer.
1. Keep hydrated – but just drinking fluids isn’t enough. For instance, iced coffee may sound so refreshing, but caffeine will over-stimulate your pitta instead of cooling it. Instead, try coconut water or herbal teas like Moroccan mint.
2. Eat cooling foods – hydrating foods like watermelon, cucumbers, fresh green salad, are your best friends. Focus on sweet and bitter foods, such as grapes, cherries, coconut, mangoes, peaches, plums, avocado, broccoli, sweet potatoes. Herbs and spices like coriander, mint, cilantro, cardamom, and mint are on the good list.
3. Avoid warming foods – Stay away from hot, spicy foods and alcohol. Naturally, many pitta-raising foods are already non-vegan, so that’s taken care of. Among vegetables, tomatoes, onions, garlic, eggplant, even carrots, beets, and spinach are considered pro-pitta. Use warming spices sparingly, like ginger, black pepper, mustard, salt, etc.
4. Spend time in nature – a walk or a hike in lush, green settings, especially around trees or bodies of water, will reduce excess pitta. Deepak Chopra also recommends walking in the moonlight–how romantic. But it does sound very cooling indeed.
5. Take cold showers – as weather gets hot, you may benefit from taking a cool or cold shower, or even just washing your feet in cold water. Afterwards, change into light, comfortable clothes in cotton or linen and dab yourself with cooling essential oils like rose, jasmine, ylang ylang, lavender, or mint.
6. Make sure to relax – Make sure you take some time each day to decompress and do something you enjoy. During the summer, it’s easy to feel the pressure to stretch yourself thin, but book your social calendar lightly and make some quiet time for yourself.
7. Use coconut oil on your skin – coconut oil is considered a light, cooling oil for rejuvenating over-heated skin. It also moisturizes your skin, can work as a mild sunblock, and smells heavenly! You could also use aloe vera after spending time in the sun.
8. Practice heat-releasing asanas – any wide-legged poses will open up the hips and groin, which is where a lot of our heat energies are stored. Try Goddess pose, Happy Baby, and Triangle poses. You may also try softening your gaze or even closing your eyes lightly during the practice to promote a sense of tranquility as opposed to energy.
Do you have also experience a pitta imbalance during summer? Please share!
Also in Summer: Self-Love – How to Feel Confident in Your Body
Photo: Ian Bothwell via Flickr; Jessica Renae