In the intricate, holistic system of Ayurveda, everything has a dosha — people, animals, objects, nature — even seasons. As summer sets in, we leave behind the spring Vata and embrace the summer Pitta dosha.
It is said that Pitta people are sharp thinkers, and when they are out of balance, they can boil over. These types exhibit the same qualities of extra heat, intensity, and penetration as summer. To balance an overabundance of Pitta, the best thing to do is to make choices that are cooling, sweet, and stabilizing.
For many, summer is a tremendous relief from the cold of the other seasons, providing more freedom with less clothing, as well as the ability to roam, contributing to the expansiveness of mind and body with exploration and travel. But for others, summer is oppressive — too hot, too still, and too sweaty.
Cooling Down as The Year Heats Up
If you happen to be a Pitta or Kapha during the height of summer, you could be prone to rashes, skin problems, burning eyes, increased anger, and irritability. Some antidotes include avoiding the hottest part of the day, taking walks by waterways, sitting in cool grass beneath shady trees, and treating your skin to a lukewarm shower after applying coconut oil.
If you’re experiencing digestive problems, consider a pitta-pacifying diet with sweet, bitter, and astringent foods. These include fresh green vegetables, basmati rice, coconut water, apples, ripe bananas, watermelon, cucumbers, and cilantro, to name a few. And, you’d be best to avoid pungent, salty, spicy, and sour foods, including onions, garlic, processed, and canned foods. Alcohol and coffee need to be avoided as well.
Breathe Fresh Air
If you’re a Pitta, you may want to practice a specific kind of pranayama-breathing technique to help cool down. Here are some simple instructions from Erin Casperson at Kripalu Yoga: Curl the sides of your tongue together so it looks like a hot dog roll. Inhale through curled tongue, and on the exhale, flip your tongue up so the tip touches the hard palate while exhaling through your nose.
If you’re unable to roll your tongue, you can receive all the benefits of Sitkari instead: Allow your tongue to float in your mouth while your teeth lightly touch. Inhale through your mouth, spreading your lips away from your teeth (while they are still touching). On the exhale, flip your tongue up so the tip touches the hard palate, while exhaling through your nose.
Vattas Delight in Summer
If you’re a Vatta type, summer may feel like a godsend. But just be sure not to overindulge in your enjoyment, lest you get sunburned, overheated, or dehydrated. Keep drinking water and enjoy watery fruits and vegetables. Creamy sweets may be balancing to both Vatta and Pitta, but be careful not to quell your digestive fire with too much cold or frozen food, such as ice cream, iced drinks, and cold smoothies.
Vata types embody cold, dryness, lightness, and mobility, and Pittas are heat, lightness, intensity, and fluidity. The diet should reflect a mix of both heating and cooling, moderately moist or oily, grounding, and stabilizing.
Kapha Types Need to Cool Off
Kapha types tend to benefit from the heat and dryness of summer and may find this time of year particularly energizing. But since Kapha is constitutionally cool and damp, these types may struggle with intense heat and humidity, finding the season uncomfortable. Summer days are Pitta — marked by water and fire elements. This means that when the water element dominates then environmental humidity levels rise, causing an imbalance in Kapha types.
Kapha people may find summer a problem if they are out of balance, with the heat leading to skin problems, ranging from acne to rashes. Excess perspiration can lead to too much water loss, and summer temperatures can even cause heat stroke. Keeping the body from overheating is aided by consuming certain spices that promote cooling: Add fresh mint, coriander, fresh cilantro, fresh dill, cardamom, fennel seeds, and cumin seeds to your diet. Also helpful are fruit drinks, including watermelon and pomegranate juice, coconut water, and lemonade. Cucumber, watermelon and coconut water help replenish electrolytes and cool off the body. Sweeter fruits nourish the body’s “juice” (rasa dhatu).
Eat and act for your dosha
Summer represents the ultimate freedom of movement, skin that can breathe, time to exercise and enjoy nature, and to stay active. If you eat and act in balance with your dosha, summer can be the time to interact with everything that spring has brought our way. Mornings are the best times to get things done and midday is time for rest and cooling off. Mind your dosha and pay attention to how your body responds to the heat, as well as the stillness that tends to come at night. Cooling drinks, more fruit, and plenty of introspection make this season something to look forward to.