The science of Ayurveda makes living a healthy life just so much easier. As seasons change, Ayurveda lays down for you the most ideal seasonal routine or Ritucharya to follow in terms of diet, lifestyle changes, detoxes, and practices for your body and mind to adapt most naturally to the changes brought about by seasonal transitions. For example, fruits and vegetables that supported your dosha balance in the winters may not be good for you in the summer, or herbs that heal the excessive summer heat in your body may not grow in nature during the other seasons. Ayurveda offers the perfect guide to living life in the rhythm of nature and when you do that, you live healthily and live longer.
What our bodies undergo during this transition
In spring the body sheds excess Kapha dosha accumulated during winter, and so spring is the time when the body undergoes a natural detox. Spring also is a great time to go for Ayurvedic cleanses like panchakarma since the season supports the natural purging of toxins. As we enter the summer months between June and August, pitta dosha starts to accumulate while Kapha dosha is reduced. So everything we do, we eat, we practice and the lifestyle we lead in these summer months should be geared towards managing the pitta buildup. In this blog, we discuss some of the Ayurvedic dos and don’ts so you can manage the pitta challenges that come along with this season. This is more important if you are a pitta person. (Don’t know if you are a pitta personality? Take this dosha quiz to find out.)
Signs your pitta is aggravated
Some signs of excess pitta dosha can be itchy eyes, acidity, skin rashes and drying, digestive problems, inflammations, fever, ulcers, liver problems, anger, jealousy, and hate, and in some cases even sleep disorders.
Managing pitta in the summer
Come summer, the heat in the atmosphere can sap our vital energy and affect your digestive capacity. So Ayurveda experts recommending eating smaller portions during summer, almost half of what you would eat any other time of the year.
Sweet is the flavor of the season
Summer is dealt with sweetness, as per Ayurveda but that does not include refined sugar. So you can have foods like coconut, clarified butter, dry fruits, lentils and whole grains, mung beans, and soybeans. Bitter and astringent foods are also considered but avoid foods that are pungent, sour, or salty. So sour cream, cheese, yogurt, tomato, red meat, or red wine should be avoided. Have foods that are light, cooling, and slightly unctuous. Avoid foods that are spicy, hot and dry.
For herbal teas, you can make spearmint, lemon balm, or hibiscus tea that helps reduce pitta and are very cooling for the digestive system.
As we are tackling pitta here, and since our digestive fire is particularly wonky during summer, Ayurveda recommends we avoid having raw vegetables that may tax our digestive system. Here’s everything you need to know about a Pitta balancing diet.
Pick your herbs carefully for summer
Mint, cumin, chamomile, spearmint, honeysuckle, cardamom, fennel, sandalwood, rose or saffron are your herbs for the season while you’ll do well to avoid onion, garlic, too much salt, and black pepper during the summer.
To protect yourself from feeling drained and hot, a good herb of choice is ashwagandha. Known as the vitality herb and used to both energize the body and calm the nervous system, it supports a healthy immune system, bones, joints, thyroid, adrenals as well as the male and female reproductive systems.
Go easy on work out
As surprising as that sounds, you are meant to go easy on yourself during summer, so your body can preserve energy that you are naturally losing out to high temperatures. So instead of exerting yourself too much, try light yogasanas and certain cooling pranayamas or breathing exercises like sheetali pranayama or nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breathing. You can also go on nature walks or moon gazing during the summer.
No skipping meals
Ayurveda recommends against skipping meals, for all dosha types except kapha people. This can aggravate pitta dosha even more. You can have a light and sweet-fruit-based breakfast and then a slightly heavier lunch since your digestive fire is strong during the day.
Amla, giloy and yashtimadhu–The Ayurvedic trio to manage pitta dosha
In order to manage pitta dosha, manage excessive body heat, keep your immunity up, energy high and cool down the system, an ideal trio of herbal formulations is amruth or giloy, amla (Indian gooseberry) and yashtimadhu (licorice).
Giloy is an effective detoxifying herb that is known to support the healthy functioning of the immune system, liver, joints and muscles. It also supports a healthy fat and sugar metabolism and restores energy lost to the atmospheric heat.
Amla is a natural source of Vitamin C, packed with antioxidants that support the body’s natural ability to combat free radicals. Its other benefits include supporting healthy digestion, rejuvenation, and restoring youthful vitality. It is also good for hair, effectively nourishing the scalp and roots.
Yashtimadhu is a strong anti-inflammatory herbal supplement that supports the healthy function of the excretory, nervous, reproductive, and respiratory systems. It also helps strengthen the digestive system that is usually weak during the season. It also helps calm the mind, a much-needed herb for the summer. It helps support a healthy nervous system too.
It is also important to drink copious amounts of water during summer since the pitta aggravation can be very drying for the body.
Abhyanga or self-massage is a must
In summer, you can incorporate a daily massage with cooling essential oils such as sunflower, bhringraj, coconut or almond oil. Daily massages help improve the movement of lymph in the body, and as such reduces the accumulation of ama toxins, promotes well-being, relaxes stiff muscles, improves the quality of hair, reduces hair fall, fights premature greying, and helps calm the nervous system.
So with some help of Ayurveda, you can sail through high pitta months of June, July, and August if you eat less than you would other times of the year; stay sufficiently hydrated and moisturized; have cooling and pitta dousing foods, herbs, and spices such as mint, chamomile, hibiscus, turmeric, yashtimadhu; and take it easy in summer.