A big thank you to Trudy and Leah co-founders of Paavani Ayurveda for the first in their series on the wisdom and practice of Ayurveda. This post was written by Trudy and edited by Leah. We hope you will incorporate some of this knowledge into the long, beautiful days of summer!
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In Ayurveda, summer is considered pitta season. What exactly makes the summertime pitta season you ask? Well, it all begins with the elements…
Ayurveda works with the 5 elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth. Each of these elements have qualities that define them and there are pairs of elements that become predominant within each passing season. For example, in the fall and winter months, ether and air are predominant. Ether and air create dryness and coldness in the environment and many times, this is reflected in our personal experiences. We start to feel colder in the fall and maybe we feel downright frozen during the dead of winter. Dryness can set into the skin, tight joints and limbs can manifest, while an emptiness or depression can crawl into the mind. Then just as we feel like we cannot handle any more qualities ether and air, the season begins to fade, snow begins to melt, the earth begins to blossom with the promise of spring.
With spring, water and earth come into the forefront, while the ether and air elements take a welcomed backseat. The flow of water and the steadiness of earth create a foundation for new life to begin. As humans, we literally and figuratively head outside and sow the seeds that we will grow and foster throughout the summer months. As the spring begins to dissipate and the warmth of the summer sets in, the elements change who is in the driver’s seat yet again. The earth element switches place with fire and fire becomes the lead in the summer months, with water in the passenger seat. This combination of fire and water is what creates pitta dosha.
I myself am pitta predominant; therefore, in the summertime, the increase in fire in the environment easily makes my internal fire blaze out of control. For instance, when I step outside on a hot summer’s day, hop into my hot car and make my 30-minute commute to work, I can already feel the heat in my body begin to rise. When I finally arrive in the office, the environmentalist in me tries to not turn on the AC unit in hopes of conserving money and energy. Yet, the rising heat begins to literally transform my once cool, calm, collected demeanor into an irritable, impatient, curt, well, jerk! This, my friends, is an example of the transformational power inherent within the fire element!
Fire can change you or your situation in a positive or negative way–it depends how you harness the energy and activation of this powerful element. Thus, in the summertime, you can use these months to expand kindly, creatively and make your goals a reality. As we stand in July, we stand in the second half of 2018. What a spectacular time to reflect, to see how far we have come on our soul’s journey and to use the activated, expansive energy of fire to help us achieve our life’s dharma or true purpose.
In order for us to work towards our personal and spiritual goals this summer, it is important to help keep pitta dosha in balance. According to Ayurveda, that means we need to counterbalance the heat that is associated with pitta. Here are some common signs of pitta imbalance in the physical and emotional body:
The beauty of Ayurveda is that it offers simple, effective tips to deal with each ailment listed above. It just takes observation and awareness of what is occurring in your body and mind. To help you tune into your own physical and emotional body, go ahead and step outside on a hot summer day, start to run in place for several seconds in the direct sunlight. Stop moving and observe the effects the heat has on first your body, and then your mind. Bring a notebook with you and take some notes on what you observe. Your connection to self will help you understand the lifestyle practices that can assist you in maintaining balance as the fire comes into the forefront.
Below are some recommendations to help keep pitta in balance all summer long:
DIET: Favor sweet, astringent and bitter tastes. Summertime is the perfect time to introduce fresh greens into the diet. Select a fresh kale and spinach salad to help purify and cool the body. Favor sweet juicy fruits like fresh strawberries and peaches over sour fruits (sour fruits have a tendency to increase the heat in the body). Also, take advantage of the hydrating fruits that are abundant like watermelon, honeydew melon and cantaloupes. If you eat meat, Ayurveda recommends chicken and freshwater fish over the more heat inducing saltwater fish.
HERBAL ALLIES: Look to seasonally appropriate culinary herbs. Summer is an ideal season to replace your hot spices like: cayenne, mustard seeds, black pepper and cinnamon with more cooling herbs like: peppermint, cumin, cardamom, calendula, lavender and fennel. These cooling, soothing herbs can help aid against inflammation, smelly gas and indigestion in the digestive tract.
EXERCISE: Avoid heat increasing exercise from 10am-2pm. According to Ayurveda, the fire element is the strongest from 10am-2pm; thus, it is suggested to exercise during the cooler morning hours. Any endurance-like exercise you plan to do, do in the morning and avoid physical labor in the late morning and afternoon. If you must perform physical labor between 10am-2pm, drink plenty of water or water infused with mint and breathe evenly through the nose to keep the mind and body cool.
YOGA ASANA: Focus on a gentle, forward folding practice. If you have been aching to get into that mid-afternoon heated power flow yoga class, this might not be the season to start! Instead, focus more on a gentle, restorative practice that includes forward folding postures that can help soothe the mind and nourish the nervous system. If you still feel the need for a hot, sweaty, vinyasa practice, try one in the morning hours and commit to an overall gentler practice throughout your week.
SELF-ABHYANGA (MASSAGE): Make self-abhyanga apart of your daily routine. If you have not begun to incorporate Ayurvedic self-care practices into your daily routine, begin this summer with replacing your body lotion with PAAVANI Ayurveda’s Pitta Body Oil. The Pitta Body Oil is designed to help your skin and entire body feel supported by earth based ingredients formulated to work with the heat of summertime. Herbs of gotu kola, rose and coriander are infused into sunflower and sweet almond oil to cool irritated, inflamed skin. It also has the added benefit of easing stress or irritability in the mind.
Summertime is the perfect time to explore cooling, soothing scents which help to balance pitta dosha. Some essential oil favorites for the summer are mint, geranium, honeysuckle, lemon and coriander. If you are looking for an aromatherapy diffuser on the go, check out our Pitta Cooling Aromatherapy Spritzer which combines lavender, peppermint, sandalwood and rose water. This blend will keep you cool and calm, wherever your summer adventures take you.
As we slide into the long, expansive, sun drenched days of summer, I wish you the highest, most balanced manifestation of pitta in your being. I also hope that the above lifestyle recommendations assist you on your journey. Take a moment each morning to sit, breathe and observe the elements moving through and within you. You have the power to cultivate the life you love. Let Ayurveda share with you its ancient tools to help along the way.