Ayurveda, a Sanskrit word that translates to the “science or study of life,” is an ancient Indian science that dates back over 5,000 years. It provides a holistic outlook on how diet and lifestyle affect our health.
Ayurveda focuses on the five elements—air, fire, ether, water, and earth—and their roles in nature. These five elements manifest their properties in humans to create the three doshas: Vata, which is made up of the elements of air and ether; Kapha, which is made up water and earth; and Pitta which is made up of fire and water.
According to Ayurveda, summer is a season rooted in the Pitta dosha. Since Pitta is hot, oily, light, sharp, and spreading, when this dosha is in balance you have naturally oily skin with a reddish tint, strong appetite and digestion, are sociable, have a good sense of humor and are goal-oriented.
But when we are in the midst of a season, the corresponding dosha tends to get out of balance and become extreme. For these reasons, acne, rashes, heartburn, indigestion, and a fiery temper are all more common in the hot summer months.
If you recognize some of these unbalanced Pitta qualities in you at the moment, have no fear. Here are five easy ways to bring your Pitta back into balance this summer:
1. Change up your food and drink options.
Ayurveda operates on the principle that like attracts like and opposites balance. This means we should look at the hot, oily, light, sharp, and spreading qualities of Pitta and apply the opposite qualities to bring us back into balance. When it comes to food, this means eating more cooling, dry foods. Foods that are in season offer the balancing qualities you need. Think cucumbers, zucchini, kale, spinach, asparagus, berries, and melons.
2. Reduce foods that aggravate the Pitta.
Salty, sour and fried foods, onions, garlic, vinegar, coffee, and alcohol can all aggravate your Pitta, so look to moderate these in the summer heat.
3. Incorporate more herbs.
There is an abundance of flavorful and cooling herbs available in summer, from cilantro and parsley to mint and basil. These herbs not only make food tasty but have Pitta-calming benefits as well. Look for ways to sprinkle some on your meals to cool you down and aid in digestion.
4. When in doubt, use coconut oil.
The benefits of coconut oil are endless, and the cooling oil is even effective at balancing Pitta energy. Not only is it a great ingredient to cook with during summer, a daily coconut oil massage after you shower can help keep your doshas in check. It feels especially nice after a day at the pool or beach.
5. Be active...but not too active.
It is important to get physical activity in, but Pitta can get out of balance when the activity is too intense. Look for ways you can do more of a 50/50 workout. Start out intense, then wind down with more restorative exercises and stretches.