Ayurvedic tips for Staying Balanced in Summer
Summer is here in the southern hemisphere!
That means long warm days, beach time and gatherings with family and friends. However you like to spend your summer days, Ayurveda recommends watching and balancing your Pitta (Fire) dosha.
‘The qualities of Pitta are oily, sharp, hot, light, foul-smelling, spreading, and liquid.’
– Ashtanga Hridayam: Sutrasthana I: 11; a classic Ayurvedic Text.
These qualities naturally increase this time of year due to the hot weather. Therefore, it’s this dosha that is more likely to go out of balance – especially if you are of a Pitta constitution.
When Pitta is out of balance you may experience irritability or outbursts of anger or jealousy more easily, you may break out in skin irritations, inflammation, diarrhoea, fever, or feel generally hot bothered in the mind and body. Pitta governs digestion and metabolism, so when it is out of balance you see a flare-up of heat in the small intestines and an excess release of bile from the gallbladder; this imbalance is usually experienced as reflux, heartburn and acidity.
Here are some Ayurvedic tips to stay balanced in summer:
One of the most important tips in summer is to stay hydrated! The increased internal and external heat causes us to lose vital body liquid through sweating. Replenishing and keeping our fluids up is a key to staying cool and calm during summer. However, Ayurveda warns us to avoid ice cold drinks (and food for that matter), as tempting as they may be on a scorcher of a day because they are not refreshing to the system and impair our digestive function. Sipping room temperature water is best for hydration. Also, avoid coffee and carbonated drinks as these further impair digestion, are too stimulating to the nervous system and cause fluid loss from the body.
Hydrating drinks this time of year are coconut water, fresh green juices, herbal teas and water – to which you can add mint, coriander or lime juice for a healthy and flavoursome boost.
Follow a Pitta Pacifying Diet
Ayurveda recommends eating foods with bitter, sweet and astringent tastes to calm down pitta. These include cucumber, zucchini, apples, grapes, peaches, watermelon and other sweet juicy fruits; green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, rocket, kale; fresh organic dairy such as ghee, milk and fresh cheeses.
Cooling herbs such as mint, fennel, fresh lime and coriander are wonderful to add to everything. Summer is a time when your digestive system can handle more raw foods, so having salads with lunch is a great way to cool down.
Avoid foods that are of a sour, heavy, salty, pungent or spicy nature. This includes alcohol, coffee and caffeine, heavy meats, chilli, fried and oily food.
Adopt a Cooling Lifestyle
Any form of exercise should be performed in the early morning (preferably) or late afternoon. Swimming and other water-based activities are best this time of year. Being surrounded by nature and greenery is a great way to calm the pitta so be outdoors, go for long walks in nature and enjoy the season, but be mindful of the sun’s harsh rays.
Incorporate a daily self-oil massage using coconut oil. Coconut oil is wonderful for protecting the skin after sun exposure as its light, nourishing and high in antioxidants, but it also has cooling qualities to balance the aggravated Pitta. Another way to cool the body is to wash your feet before you go to bed every night. This helps cool and soothe the excess heat in the system, which when built up can add to sleepless nights and irritability.
Finally, surround yourself with pleasant, sweet scents as this helps to balance out the sharp, hot Pitta in the environment. Wear or burn essential oils of Rose or Sandalwood and have an abundance of fresh flowers in your house.
Have a wonderful, healthy Summer!
Author: Tegan Wallis
Tegan is a Naturopath, Ayurveda Health Consultant and Yoga Teacher.