HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED WHICH DOSHA IS AGGRAVATED IN SUMMER?
You guessed right! It is the Pitta Dosha – the fiery energy which is aggravated by the heat in Summer! But it is not like the fire in its literal sense. It is a subtle energy that works in the body to give you the effects of heat.
Have you also wondered how the two Solstices affect the body?
The year is divided into six seasons according to Ayurveda. However, there may be overlap in the temperate countries.
The Northward movement of the Sun (Adana kala) and its dehydrating effect bring about three seasons Late Winter, Spring, Summer.
People feel weak during this time. The Summer solstice on 21st June heralds the beginning of summer and the heating effect in the Northern hemisphere when the sun is over the Tropic of Cancer.
The Southward movement of the sun (Visarga Kala) exerts a hydrating effect giving rise to the three seasons including rainy, autumn and winter.
During this period people tend to grow in strength and vigour.
The Winter Solstice is on 21st December when the sun is over the Southern Tropic of Cancer.
What is the Pitta Dosha?
The word Pitta comes from the Sanskrit root “Tapa” – to heat.
Pitta in English means a colourful bird from the tropics which lives on land! And that is what a Pitta personality is like- colourful in life, and they like land, mountains forests and water!
We will give a brief description of Pitta Dosha for you to relate to the summer heat. Pitta is one of the three fundamental energies Vata-Pitta-Kapha according to Ayurveda, which make up our unique body type or constitution and regulate all the functions of our mind and body.
Pitta It is the functional energy that regulates your metabolism. It regulates your temperature and heat in the body, is responsible for all the biochemical reactions in the body, for good digestion, secretions and action of hormones and enzymes, and a sharp intellect!
If you are new to Ayurveda, you are not alone. Many people round the world are getting to know about Ayurveda with Yoga in order to enhance their natural wellbeing.
It is not difficult to learn the basics of Ayurveda and our body type as it is based on our natural characteristics we share with Nature around us and how we interact with our environment.
Relevant to today’s blog is the seasonal routine – Ritucharya – that you should adopt during the hot summer months in order to balance your Pitta energy for your wellbeing. For a simple example, we all have experienced how we suffer from heat stroke if we expose ourselves to too much heat instead of seeking cool shelter on a hot day?
Pitta Body type makes you fiery, Type A personality, with a huge drive and sharp intellect and leadership qualities, sporty, muscular, strong medium weight, passionate and with a hot sexual drive! It also gives you good digestion when in balance.
What are the characteristics of the Pitta Dosha according to Ayurveda which become more pronounced in Summer heat?
The seven qualities of pitta are described in Ashtanga Hrdayam Sutrasthana as:
‘pittaṃ sasneha tīkṣṇoṣṇaṃ laghu visraṃ saraṃ dravam’
Pitta is sharp, hot, oily, light, liquid, transforming- destroying, spreading.
Compare it with a flame like in a camping fire. See how the flame dances, spreading in the air. Notice how you experience the warmth sitting around it, even when it is just smouldering.
This means that a Pitta person is most likely to be intelligent, discerning and have a high level of concentration. Pitta minds tend to be sharp, passionate, keen, studious, focused and driven. They can equally be dominant and dictatorial!
What effects does high Pitta Dosha have on our body?
The obvious one is of course it increases body heat! Pitta Dosha causes sunburn, skin rashes, burning sensation, perspiration, headaches, migraines, gastric acid and heartburn, burning and red eyes, dizziness and giddiness, blurring of vision, increased thirst, allergies like hay fever and nose bleeds, piles and burning sensation on evacuation of bowel and urine, heat stroke and are all part of the pitta effect.
Did you notice you feel more fatigued easily in Summer if you do not balance your activity and diet?
That is why it is a natural instinct to drink ice cold drinks, eat ice-creams, have a splash in cold water or the sea, sit under a cold shade of a tree!
Can you check this out with the effect of heat on your body in the Summer months?
Have you felt hot, dizzy, burning eyes and urine, and get easily sunburnt? Have you felt short tempered?
You must have guessed what aggravated Pitta Dosha can make us emotionally charged with excessive drive and dominance, anger, ego, jealousy, irritability, short tempered.
As the weather turns hotter, raising the body heat, as well as warming up the skin and internal organs.
No wonder everyone rushes to the sea, woods and trees, mountains, rivers and lakes – anything to cool down the body.
What does Ayurveda recommend?
Ayurveda lays great emphasis on following the right rituals according to each season.
You need to follow the summer rituals more particularly if you are a Pitta Constitution – body type or Prakriti, as the effect of heat will cause mare damage sooner in Pitta constitution.
What does your happy Summer Ritual look like?
How will you work out your daily routine in Summer?
Pace yourself and do not over work. Just do the mental, intellectual and physical work that is essential and does not exhaust the brain, mind and body.
It is time to go out more and enjoy yourself in cool natural environments. Going for long walks in woods, gardens, lakeside, riverside, seaside, mountains and in nature is perfect to keep your Pitta balance in order and feel good inside!
What type of exercise should you do in Summer?
Ayurveda recommends that we should not do heavy physical exercise that can pump up the heat in the body.
Heavy work out in the gym or outdoors can cause increased risk of damage to muscles and heart.
We recently saw how a football player suffered a heart attack playing football in the heat.
Many people collapse in the heat. The recent heat wave in Canada has caused many deaths due to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. So while you are enjoying exposure to the hot sun on the beach or outdoors, do be careful not to overdo things.
As you read in our last blog that it is important not to get dehydrated. Drinking plenty of cool or cold water, fruit juices, milk shakes and eating juicy fruits helps enormously to keep the body tissues cool.
Ayurveda says that taking a diet that is cool, sweet, liquid, with some oiliness and lots of sauce.
What type of drinks are healthy for your wellbeing in Summer?
According to Ayurveda, you should drink cold mantha in Summer.
‘Mantha’ is prepared by mashing together fruits, water and Gur- raw unprocessed brown jaggery or sugar and kept in an earthen pot to cool. You can store it in a copper or steel jug in the fridge.
This drink is supposed to be very refreshing, cooling, nourishing and quenches thirst. This drink can prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke and fainting.
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, strawberries, blue berries, grapes, apricots, peaches are all cooling to the system.
Coconut water where it is available is a very cooling and nourishing drink in summer.
Which foods are good in Summer?
Ayurveda says you should eat foods with sweet, astringent, bitters. You should avoid excessive salt, sour and pungent (hot spicy sharp) foods. This includes spicy curries, sour chilli sauces, and radish, ginger, garlic and too much onion,
Make sure you eat nourishing foods which are not too spicy and sharp in taste or effect.
Spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, mango powder, liquorice, and mild seasoning like parsley and oregano are good for you.
Starchy foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, butter squash, root vegetables, and courgettes, cucumber, carrots, lettuce, green vegetables are all said to be cooling. Spinach, asparagus and coriander soup is great for your summer recipe.
Mixed salads with olive oil and seeds are good. Sprinkle a lot of fresh coriander and mint on your salads, soups and main dishes.
Dishes prepared with Shali Rice (Oryza sativa) - or a good quality like basmati rice – eaten with Ghee- clarified butter, and milk. Cheese and other protein sources are also especially useful for your wellbeing. We advise to avoid red meat. If possible, we recommend a lactovegetarian diet.
You can enjoy your pastas, and pizzas but too much tomato and aubergine, onions and garlic, spicy curries and chillies cause burning on the body in summer.
Casseroles, lentil soups, sweet yogurt drink, and lots of green vegetables and salads with your main dish will help balance your Pitta dosha and maintain your healthy wellbeing.
Drinking cold Lassi – yogurt drink- as you read in our last blog is greatly beneficial to the inner body in summer. Instead of adding black pepper you can add sugar, honey or Maple syrup to rebalance Pitta. (Please see the recipe in last blog on how to prevent dehydration).
There are many ayurvedic cookbooks with delicious Summer pitta balancing recipes.
Our recommendation below from our dear friend who we admire- actress and wellbeing celebrity Jasmine Hemsley, author and Ayurvedic chef! You will find some amazing recipes in her popular cook book “East by West”!
Which herbal teas and herbs are good for your wellbeing in summer?
We love to drink cold drinks tea and coffee even in Summer. However, Tea and coffee are not good in summer as the caffeine can heat up the body and aggravate pitta.
Some herbal teas are cooling, particularly when cooled in the fridge or iced herbal teas.
Pitta balancing teas like Mint and Cinnamon, Chamomile and Lemon Balm, Lemon Balm and Sweet Orange, help you remain cool and maintain your wellbeing in Summer. Drink teas with mint, fennel, cinnamon, cardamom, lemon, fruit teas which are very soothing.
You can drink a cooling Turmeric Latte with coconut and cardamom in the evening which is nourishing and cooling.
Which ayurvedic supplements are good in Summer?
It is good to take Trifala – the three chebulic myrobalan fruit berries formula in Summer to detox the body as high pitta encourages toxins to build up in the body, specially affecting the liver.
Avipattikar churna powder in cool infusion, made with digestive soothing herbs, is recommended after meals to relieve acidity and aid digestion during summer.
In order to balance the fiery pitta, have a massage in the cool evening or early morning. Use cooling oils like pitta balance oil made from cedarwood, frankincense, ylang ylang blended with shatavari in sesame seed oil.
Ayurveda says one should enjoy a relaxed comfortable restful position in a chair or recliner, in a cool atmosphere and be pampered by the touch of tender hands also smeared with sandalwood or a sweet aromatic oil!
How should you sleep in the Summer?
You must have plenty of restful sleep in Summer.
Many of us find it difficult to go off to sleep in the Summer heat.
We sleep under the fan or air conditioner. It is best to sleep in open air under the cooling effect of the moon! However any naturally cool, well ventilated room or terrace is good.
Keep fragrant flowers in the room like jasmine, lily which can be hypnotic! One can also use Eau de Cologne with perfumes on the body or the room air.
Which Yoga postures are helpful in summer?
Gentle stretching is good with the following yoga postures:
Shavasana – the corpse pose - is the best, where you lie comfortably on your back on a soft mat, breathing gently with your abdomen, with eyes closed and listening to soft, relaxing happy music.
Some other asana that are helpful are:
Child’s posture (Shishu asana)
Moon salutation (Chandra namaskar)
Cobra posture (Bhujangasana)
Half boat posture (Ardha naukasana)
Bridge posture (Setubandhasana).
Gentle Pranayam breathing in the cool evening and morning settles the excess pitta Dosha in the body. Breathe gently through both nostrils first then do alternate nostril breathing in cool air atmosphere so you are not breathing hot air.
Shitali: Breathing in and out through the mouth with a rolled protruded tongue relieves thirst and dryness of mouth and throat and cools you down.
The Art of Living a very authentic source to learn yogic breathing and spiritual wellbeing methods.
There you have it! Your complete ritual for Summer wellbeing.
To end on a sweet note, here is our favourite Summer recipe for you from Jasmine Hemsley, actress, wellbeing expert, author, Ayurvedic chef, clean eating and wellness champion!
Coconut, Lime and mint Ladoo Recipe
Makes 24 balls
Serving size: 1-2 balls
200g (13⁄4 cups) ground almonds
140g (13⁄4 cup) desiccated coconut
3 tbsp maple syrup
Zest of 2 limes
1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp peppermint extract
100g (1⁄2 cup) coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt
- Blitz the ground almonds, 60g (3⁄4 cup) of the desiccated coconut, the maple syrup, zest, vanilla extract, peppermint extract, coconut oil and sea salt in a food processor, until chunky but evenly mixed.
- Taste the mixture and add a drop more of the peppermint extract if needed, then blitz again.
- Take small pieces from the bowl and roll them into twenty-four bite-sized balls with the palms of your hands. Refrigerate for around 20 minutes, until firm.
- Spread out the remaining desiccated coconut and roll each ladoo in it until completely covered. Store in the fridge for up to a week or keep in the freezer for a refreshing snack.
Enjoy this delicious Summer treat!
Practising your Seasonal Summer Ritual – Ritucharya - to keep your mind and body cool with Pitta balancing correct diet, lifestyle activities, Yoga and Pranayam breathing and meditation daily, drinking suitable cold drinks and Pitta balancing herbal teas, taking Amla and massaging with cooling soothing pitta balance oils will help you maintain your wellbeing in Summer.
If you follow our tips above, you will maintain your wellbeing in Summer, and enjoy a positive energy with a cool mind too, preventing the harmful effects of the Summer heat.