Beat the Heat with these Pitta Reducing Tips
Its been a ridiculously long hot “monsoon-y” summer-sometimes dry, moist, hot, humid, and overwhelming in general to say the least.
Summer according to Ayurveda is dominated by Pitta Dosha- which is comprised of the elements of water and fire.
How does Pitta manifest in the physical body?
We may experience excess heat manifesting in skin irritations ( eczema flare ups, rashes, skin burning or reddening easily, redness or inflammation of the eyes, infections of the skin, etc), excess sweating or feeling of being hot, upset digestion ( diarrhea or loose stools), inflammation of the joints ( swollen and inflamed), etc.
How does Pitta manifest in the mind?
Excess heat may manifest in anger, feeling easily irritated or frustrated, jealousy, resentment, criticism, judgement, etc.
Side note: Ayurveda in no way tries to box people into categories ( which is one of the reasons why I’ve heard it turns people off from it) rather it provides us with an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and how our environment and lifestyle choices affect our body and mind. We are then able to choose ( rather than live life blindly or in ignorance) what actions to take that will make us happy, healthy, and content. **Suffering as they say is inevitable, but avoidable!
SO, being someone who has a generous amount of Pitta in my constitution, and knowing my tendencies to heat up during the warmest of seasons, I’ve engaged in lots of Pitta ( heat) reducing practices as part of my self care regime to stay cool and collected.
Here are some great tips to beat the heat and stay calm and cool this summer:
1) Food/Diet: Agni ( metabolism) tends to be high for pitta type individuals especially in warmer climates. Focus on the tastes bitter, sweet, and astringent. *Remember that Ayurveda approaches food and herbs through a science of energetics.
One of the best times to consume raw foods is during the summer ( or if you experience pitta in the digestive system) since metabolism is high and it can actually be soothing for the digestive system for someone with a hyperactive agni. **Eating cucumbers, anything coconut related ( coconut flesh, oil, water), watermelon, or certain dairy products for example, because of their sweet and cooling nature can counterbalance heat and keep physiological functions that may go awry during this time, at optimal.
2) Cold Water: Cool water is Pitta’s best friend, especially in the summer! Swimming is highly recommended especially when its not so warm outside and/or taking a cold shower can bring the temperature down greatly. **An Ayurvedic Practitioner and herbalist, Isabel Brenda reminded me that soaking one’s feet in cool water during the day can draw heat away from the body and keep temperatures moderate and tolerable!
3) Essential oils: Essential oils like geranium, rose, lavendar, lemongrass, and sandalwood for example can be diffused or used topically to calm and bring pitta dosha into balance.
4) Herbal Teas: Once again, focusing on herbs that are cooling, sweet, and bitter can help reduce excess heat/pitta from ones constitution. I personally enjoy an adrenal tonic tea in the summer that is nourishing and cooling at the same time. Herbs such as nettle, oat straw, fennel, rose, hibiscus, spearmint, and peppermint, can be enjoyed at room temperature or even slightly cooler during warm-hot days.
5) Color Therapy: Wearing red and black are probably the last things I’d want to wear on a hot summer day. Those colors can actually aggravate Pitta and draw heat towards you! Focus on cooling calming colors such as green, blue, and white. Avoid heating colors such as yellow, red, and orange.
6) Nature/Walks: Walking in nature can be so serene, promotes contentment and a peace of mind. But walking or running in peak Pitta times of the day can actually aggravate your dosha. Avoid being out in the heat during 10-2 when its the hottest and try and walk when its shady and cool out.
7)Yoga: Chill out with twists ( wrings out excess heat from the solar plexus where heat is generally stored) and practice in a sweet, gentle way as to not aggravate pitta dosha. When we practice intensely, competitively, or critically we become more intense, competitive and critical at ourselves and others. When we integrate slow, calming, gentle, soft movements and mindset for our practice, we practice embodying those qualities into all aspects of our lives.
Also practicing restorative yoga poses such as legs up the wall aka vipartia karani or supported bridge aka supported setu bandha it can be relaxing for the body and mind.
8) Healing herbs for pitta balancing support: Herbs are highly medicinal and balancing for both body and mind. Herbs such as aloe vera juice ( bitter and cooling), gaduchi, turmeric, neem, and burdock for example support healthy liver function, reduces inflammation, heals irritated skin and membranes. *Speak with an herbalist or Ayurvedic Practitioner for more info on dosage and using herbs for specific health conditions.
Despite the heat this summer, I’ve been able to stay cool. My mind is relaxed which tells me a lot. And by incorporating more raw foods into my diet, I’ve noticed that my digestion has improved and not to give too much information, but my stools are not loose. I also have a tendency to experience hot, inflamed, and irritated joints when its this warm, but these practices have helped keep circulation flowing, energy moving steadily, and inflammation and heat at bay.
I hope you find these practices helpful!