As we approach the official start of Summer this month, Pitta season is slowly arising. In Ayurveda, the ancient science/wisdom of life, the term Pitta refers to the energy of Fire and Water. Since Fire and Water are naturally antagonistic elements, they must work together to create balance in the season of Pitta. The hot and active Summer months from June to August are when Pitta predominates and we have to take extra precaution to keep ourselves cool and balanced. This is especially important for people who have a more Pitta/Summer-like constitution. If you tend to have a medium build, have an aversion to hot weather, have a tendency to anger quickly (hot-headed), have a healthy appetite, have a competitive spirit, and are very passionate, then you may consider yourself to have a greater amount of Pitta (fire & water elements) in your body.
Some great adjustments to make in the Summer months (especially if you are a Pitta-type person) are some tweaks to your diet and to make sure to find the cooling ‘Yin’ energy to the warmer, more active ‘Yang.’ Most importantly, since Fire is very drying, we need to make sure to stay as hydrated as possible. Coming off of Kapha/Spring season, the moisture of the spring rains are starting to dry up from the hot summer days. Pitta is also a very active season when our digestive fire is strong, therefore we need more energy to sustain us through the longer days. Foods like fruits, vegetables, and carbs help us to stay cool while giving us all the energy we need. It’s better to favor foods that are cool and liquid, sweet, bitter, or astringent. Try to avoid foods that create heat like spicy, salty, and sour foods.* If you’ve been toying with the idea of going Vegetarian, or eating less meat, now is the time to do it. Animal protein is very acidic and creates a lot of heat in the mind and body. It’s also very heavy for digestion and increases fat.** Check out this comprehensive list of foods and tips for Pitta Season: https://lifespa.com/summer-grocery-list-pitta-reducing-diet/.
Not only is food important to switch up in the Summer months, but our lifestyle may also need a makeover. We tend to get irritable and cranky during the hot Pitta months because heat naturally rises in the body towards the head. This is a time to find more meditation and a cooler Asana practice such as Yin Yoga to compliment the heat-inducing Vinyasa that we may be used to. Some pranayama (breath work) techniques that are very cooling are Sitali breath: Curl the tongue (or pretend to sip in through a straw) and inhale through the mouth for four counts and exhale through the nose for four counts. Do this for seven rounds or until you feel cooler. Chandra Bhedana (Moon Piercing Breath) is also a way to access the cooling moon side of the body. Start by bringing the right hand into Vishnu Mudra (press your index and middle finger into your palm) and close the right nostril with your right thumb. Breathe in for four counts then block the left nostril with the ring finger and exhale through the right nostril for eight counts. Repeat the inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril only for about 10 rounds. Once we train the mind and body to work together and instinctually listen to what we need to find balance during these hotter months, then Summer will become more pleasant and a joyful respite from the colder seasons that came before it.
By Monica Ott
* ‘The 3-Season Diet’ by John Douillard
**’Prakriti, Your Ayurvedic Constitution’ by Robert E. Svoboda