Summer is finally here! And while most of us love the summer sunshine and the hot weather it brings, the increase in temperature can often become intense and we may actually begin to feel slightly out of balance as our fiery natures are stimulated by excess heat and humidity. According to ayurveda, the ancient science of self-healing originating in India, pitta is one of the three fundamental energies or “doshas” comprised of the fire and water elements. The other two doshas are: vata, comprised of ether and air, dominant in the fall; and Kapha, comprised of earth and water, dominant in the winter. Each individual contains all three doshas and an imbalance or disturbance in any of the three can lead to discomfort or illness.
Because the pitta dosha is driven by the solar force (the sun or fire), it is during the summer months when the sun is strongest that the pitta dosha becomes most predominant, and has the potential to move out of balance. Because it is the dosha that is the expression of radiant energy that fuels all biochemical activities in the body including digestion, metabolism and assimilation, anyone can be prone to a pitta imbalance in prolonged periods of excess heat.
When pitta is in balance, we experience joy, bliss and radiant health. But when pitta is out of balance, the fiery qualities in this dosha can ignite anger, aggression, irritability, judgement and jealousy. So in the hot summer months, we need to balance this heat in order to help remain cool, calm and peaceful. One way to balance out pitta is to ensure we are eating foods that are cooling, such as cucumber, watermelon, avocado, asparagus, broccoli, celery, leafy greens, and zucchini. Try the following recipe for a simple and easy cucumber salad. My husband makes this for me from an old family recipe every summer and it’s definitely one of my favorite cool summer salads:
1 large English cucumber, thinly sliced
5-10 radishes, thinly sliced
¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp fresh chopped dill
½ cup organic sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until cucumbers are covered. Chill for 1 hour before serving.
You can also use yoga and pranayama to cool off on a hot summer day. Try the following breathing exercise, Shitali Pranayama also known as “cooling breath” in the evening to help cool the body and mind before bed.
Find a comfortable seated position
Drop your chin towards your chest as you roll your tongue into a tube
Breathe in through the rolled tongue as you raise your head and gaze upwards
When you finish inhaling, close the mouth and exhale through the nose as you lower your head and gaze downward towards the chest
Repeat for 10-20 full breaths
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Adrienne Kelly-Durys is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, 500Hr RYT and lover of feeling good in mind and body. She teaches Yoga and wellness classes at Balanced Life Yoga and specializes in detoxing and nourishment. Classes include Power Hour Yoga, Power Yoga Vibe, and Holistic Nutritional Consulting.