Beat the Heat of Summer with Ayurveda
By Denise O’Dunn
Relentless heat, major tropical storms, an overbearing sun piercing your eyes, never enough shade… If this is all you can see about summer, you are most likely of a Pitta dosha and you need to be careful in summertime; read on.
Ayurveda is an ancient system of preventative health care, rejuvenation and longevity. Ayurveda is a way of life that creates harmony by teaching you to honor your individual nature, while consciously following the rhythms and cycles of the natural world.
Ayurveda is the Science of Life or the study of natural law; the essence of Ayurveda has always existed. Ancient Vedic texts tell us that the Rishis, or holy men of India, acquired the knowledge of Ayurveda through the observation of nature and meditation. Ayurveda predates the written word so its exact beginnings are difficult to calculate, but we know the Vedic texts date beyond five thousand years.
Ayurveda is based on elemental principles that pertain to life on earth. Two fundamental principals of Ayurveda are: like increases like, and opposite actions balance one another. Every living thing is affected by these simple, yet essential, laws of nature.
Ayurvedic philosophy establishes the Five Great Elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth as the building blocks of the natural world. These five elements pair-up in three combinations to form the primary forces of nature called doshas. Doshas regulate all natural processes of your body, mind and emotions, as well as, all aspects of your life. Air and ether form the Vata dosha. Fire and water make up the Pitta dosha. Water and earth create the Kapha dosha.
According to Ayurveda, you were born with a unique combination of Vata, Pitta and Kapha, that resulted in your Prakriti, or constitutional nature. Your Prakriti is fixed throughout your lifetime, but can go out of balance, as it is influenced by the time of day, the season, your diet, environmental conditions, and your place in the cycle of life. Dosha means that which changes. The forces of Vata, Pitta and Kapha are constantly moving to maintain a natural state of balance. Your current doshic state is called your Vikriti.
With your awareness of your Prakriti or personal nature, and the impact the environment has on your life; the practice of Ayurveda provides you with the tools necessary for living in harmony despite the forces of emotional stress, business and family pressures, or the heat of summer.
Summer is Pitta. Pitta elements are Fire and Water and we are embarked on a long, hot and humid Pitta season. In the Florida summer you are especially prone to accumulating excess pitta. If your dosha is predominantly Pitta, you are at an even higher risk of becoming out of balance because Like increases Like = Hot increases Heat. Tempers rise with the humidity and temperature. Even if you have less Pitta in your Prakriti, you may find that you need to take steps to pacify Pitta to stay balanced and healthy.
Transformation is the main function of the Pitta dosha. Pitta is the heat that drives your digestive system, metabolism, and glandular functions. The stomach, liver, skin, heart and eyes are primary locations of Pitta in your body. Pitta is also responsible for sensory perception, discrimination and precision thinking. By its fiery nature, Pitta is intense, purposeful and passionate. Out of balance the above attributes of Pitta will be weakened or over active.
Though Pitta is aggravated in summer, elevated Pitta can occur at any time, look for these signs of aggravated Pitta: Skin irritations, any burning sensations, aggression, acid indigestion, anger, excessive sweating, hypertension, diarrhea, irritability, fever, blurred vision, inflammation, and impatience.
To ease Pitta one seeks to calm and cool the burning effects of the Pitta season. Follow these guidelines:
• Practice Yoga that is calming and soothing
• Perform physical activities in the coolest part of the day
• Rest or swim during the high heat of the day
• Walk in the moonlight
• Insure that you take a vacation, preferably in a cooler climate with a relaxed schedule
• Drink plenty of liquids
• Consume your heaviest meal between 10 am and 2 pm (Pitta time)
• Eat cooling foods, favoring those that are;
o Sweet: Melon, Cucumber, Pineapple, Coconut, Wheat
o Bitter: Dandelion greens, Kale, Turmeric, Pumpkin Seed, Maple Syrup
o Astringent: Pomegranate, Blueberry, Spinach, Sunflower Seed, Chickpea
• Use cooling herbs and essential oils, such as; Mint, Cilantro, Fennel, Rose and Sandalwood
• Wear light, breathable clothing in shades between blue and cool green or white
• Sleep on your right side, this facilitates cooling left nostril breathing
• Allow for leisure time
• Schedule time for pleasurable things
• Practice moderation in all matters
• Avoid heated confrontations, deadline pressures, artificial stimulants and alcohol, hot, spicy and salty foods, and the mid-day sun
I hope that you find these summer time tips helpful in reducing the effects of excess Pitta. Please keep in mind that if you have a dominate Vata or Kapha Prakriti, you already have some protection from the heat of Pitta. The best way to determine your original nature and your current doshic state is to have an Ayurvedic consultation with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner.
Disclaimer: This article was written for educational purposes only and is based on the tradition of Ayurveda. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prescribe or heal any health condition or to replace standard medical treatment or advice.