Long days of bright sun, heat and humidity are all in line with the season of Pitta in Ayurveda. And if you’re already Pitta dominant, this season can overload and put you off balance. (Since the Pitta dosha is known for its heat and fire elements, it's no surprise warm weather can throw things for a loop!)
But no matter what constitution, everyone can benefit from a few Pitta-reducing tricks during summer. To help prevent the over-accumulation of Pitta qualities and let you enjoy the summertime, it's important to adopt a seasonal routing when it comes to food and lifestyle so as to usher in a more cooling nature.
Her are six practices you can try to cool yourself off, both internally and externally.
1. Opt for "cooling" foods.
Summer is the perfect time to try out a raw food diet as not only will it help flush out toxins, but it's quite cooling for the body. Opt for ripe, sweet and juicy fruits and leafy greens (these should make up about 80% of your daily food), and cut down on oily things. Sipping cool (not ice cold) water infused with mint or citrus through the day will also keel the fire low. Avoid onions, garlic and other spicy/hot foods that will only add fuel to the fire. Instead, indulge in cold soups or let a warm meal cool to room temperature.
2. Move with easy and purpose.
It can be quite tempting to have fun in the sun, but it’s best to avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day. If you like biking or running, try doing it early in the morning and of at dusk when the temperature is slightly cooler. Favor peaceful and relaxing walks in nature, light gardening, swimming and gentle yoga to high-intensity cardio.
Moon salutations can help keep your practice fun and light with plenty of twists and side body openers. Try focusing more on your exhalations and meditation than working up a sweat.
3. Try taking a "moon bath."
Never heard of it? Though sunbathing is the conventional "bath" of choice during the summer, allowing yourself to bask in the light of the moon can do wonders for your mind and body. Not only can the moon's cooling light help to balance Pitta, but if you're lucky enough to get outside under a full moon, you can truly harness the benefits of that special time each month when the moon's energy is full of love, abundance, creativity and positive energy.
Engage in full moon beach walks, hikes, strolls or even sitting outdoors under the rays of the moon in white clothing to infuse the body with the moon’s cooling nature.
4. Practice cooling breathing.
When you feel a buildup of heat in your body, practicing cooling pranayamas (conscious, deliberate control of the breath) can be incredibly helpful. Shitali (cooling breath) and left-nostril breathing will calm the hot quality of Pitta as the left nostril is associated with our body’s cooling lunar energy.
5. Embrace neem oil.
Thought neem has a bitter flavor, it's one of the most cooling oils used in Ayurveda and can work wonders to balance PItta. Since this dosha shows up prominently on the skin (oil, redness, irritation), applying neem oil topically can soothe the skin and cool parts inflamed by the sun and heat. It's even works as an anti-itch remedy for bug bites.
6. Spritz liberally with rose water.
Pitta benefits from regular hydration to counter heat, especially in summer. Since rose is considered cooling for mind, body and emotions, it's the perfect antidote to overheating. It can be used topically, orally and even inhaled to relax the spirit. I like to keep some chilled rose water mist on hand to spray on my skin (it also works well and is delicious in smoothies using raw ingredients!).