AN AYURVEDIC SUMMER | 16 Jun 14, Pille

While the Summer Solstice is coming near and we enter into the Summer Sweetness it can also get pretty challenging at times...

PITTA

According to Ayurvedic seasonal cycles, the Summer is considered to be the Pitta season. Then the energetic principles of Fire and Water are the strongest and the warm, sharp and penetrating qualities of Pitta are most active. This is a time when dehydration occurs both inside and outside the body. The chances are higher that Pitta starts to accumulate in the body and this in turn can cause various imbalances to manifest. Signs of increased Pitta in the body include skin irritations, diarrhea, inflammation, acne and excessive digestive acid (causing heartburn or hyperacidity). Mentally the increase of Pitta may manifest as irritation, frustration, criticism, anger or impatience.

To keep you going smoothly in this wonderful season, it is wise to observe how you are reacting to the outside (& also inside) influences, both physically and mentally. To balance the excessive Pitta qualities (gunas in Sanskrit), we need to counterbalance them by adjusting our diet and lifestyle accordingly. In the summer we are often less hungry than in the winter cause our Agni or digestive power is more busy now with keeping the body cool. It is advisable to listen what our body is telling us, by eating lighter and smaller meals.

FOOD

Bitter, sweet and astringent tastes calm Pitta, that's why it's good to increase these tastes in your diet and to reduce sour, salty and hot/pungent tastes. Eat plenty of green salads (lettuce, rucola, endive, raddichio) & add more herbs like mint, basil, dill and cilantro (aka the green part of coriander) to your foods. Other favored veggies/ fruits for this season include zucchini, cucumber, broccoli, kale, asparagus, okra (if available) and seasonal fresh berries (if not very sour), watermelon, mango, apples. (And if apples tend to give you gas, it is wise to balance the action by cooking them and adding some sweet spices - applies for any season).

Spices to use more now are fennel, coriander, cardamom, beside all the garden herbs. When using milk products go for the fresh organic produce (vs heavy/ processed cheeses). Oils and fats to use: olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil or ghee (excellent for heating). Avoid or reduce (red) chillies, garlic, dry ginger, coffee, heavy meats and all fried, salty, spicy or sour foods.

DRINKS

Remember to drink lots of water to keep your body adequately rehydrated but certainly no ice/cold drinks - yes, also not in the hottest days! as it will inhibit the capacity of your digestive enzymes. Fruit juices are fine (moderately) and better not including added sugars (might be hard to find, unfortunately). Beneficial because of their cooling effects are coconut water and mint tea. 

A great tea to balance Pitta (and to enhance digestion - on any season) is cumin, coriander, fennel tea (take the seeds in equal amounts) with rose petals. Considering alcohol, the best rule of thumb which to apply is: the less, the better. To counterbalance the heating and drying qualities of alcohol, it is better not to drink while it's hot outside, to drink plenty of water and to avoid hard alcohol.

LIFESTYLE

Exercise is preferably lighter in the summer, it could be walking, swimming, bicycling, tai chi or yoga. Early morning or sunset exercise is more favored than during the hottest time of the day. While doing yoga, favor the asanas which remove excess heat from the body instead of building heat: forward bends, twists, mild backbends. If you are familiar with Pranayama then the cooling Sheetali or Seetkari is nice to practice. And if you like essential oils then you could use rose, jasmine, lavender and sandalwood oils.

Last but not least: one of the greatest everyday gifts you can give to yourself is a regular practice of self-massage, called Abhyanga in Ayurveda. A clear and detailed description of Abhyanga by doctor C. Welch can be found here: http://www.banyanbotanicals.com/sm, check it out! You don't need any body lotions with strange ingredients and are giving yourself some Pure Love (do you really think it is a coincidence that the Sanskrit word sneha means both 'oil' and 'love'?).


Keep your head cool, heart warm - and enjoy!!!



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