Welcome to summer! It’s a time we can enjoy longer days and extended hours of light to have more fun. For many people, it’s a time for holidays, visiting the beach, Christmas celebrations and heralding in the New Year.
Ayurveda teaches us that we are part of nature, and what manifests in the macrocosm of life is reflected in the microcosm of life. When it gets hotter in the summer, heat (pitta) rises in the environment. Correspondingly, the body reduces its inner fire (agni), as it follows nature’s tendency to maintain balance. Reduced production of heat, lower metabolism and somewhat weaker digestive power can result from the body’s rhythm of coping with hot weather. While it is natural and normal, there can be some uncomfortable shifts in the summer season.
Signs of excess pitta in the body
If the body develops excess pitta, it can led to skin rashes, pyrexia (fever), swelling of the tissues, excess perspiration, acne, premature graying/balding, heartburn, red eyes, acid stomach, loss of appetite, lethargy and diarrhoea.
Signs of excess pitta in the mind
Excess pitta in the mind can lead to irritability (particularly after being exposed to heat or pitta-provoking circumstances), competitiveness, egoism, envy, hot temper and quick-to-anger.
When we live by ayurvedic principles in summer, we can balance the pitta energy within us. To find the perfect balance of pitta, we need to choose the right diet, exercise, and activities to pacify the fire energy.
When the fire element is dominant, it is wise to select foods with cooling and soothing qualities. They balance out the abundance of heat in our bodies from the surrounding environment. It is good to choose fresh and seasonal foods that are sweet, bitter and astringent in flavour.
Fresh salads as side dishes are an excellent way to bring cooling (but not cold) foods into our bodies.
Summer fruits such as mango, watermelon, peaches are a delicious way to soothe and cool our bodies.
Eat only when you are hungry and eat only in moderation.
Drink plenty of water and other healthy fluids, but do not drink directly from the fridge as it’s too cold for our digestive fire.
Foods to limit
Nightshade vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, capsicums, chillies and other vegetables in the pepper family
Garlic and onions
Heating spices such as dry ginger, black pepper, mustard, cayenne and chili powder
Fermented foods, spicy foods, heavy animal proteins, molasses and coffee
Sour, salty, and pungent tasting foods
Reduce the duration and intensity of exercise compared to winter and spring.
Avoid vigorous exercise in direct sunlight at peak times of the day (11-3pm) as it can aggravate pitta.
Seek indoor or early morning and early evening activities instead.
Choose a relaxing and cooling yoga practice, and avoid heating yoga classes in the summer months. Forward bends support the intention to balance the season’s expansive energy by bringing some energy back into the body. Spinal twists help release excess fire and toxins.
Cooling breath exercises like nadi sodhana, ujjayi, shitali, shitakari are recommended.
Avoid intense pranayama such as bhastrika, kapalabhati, strong ujayi, shitali, shitakari. They can be too heating in summertime.
With long days and short nights during summer, nighttime sleep may not be enough to recover. If it is possible to have a short break during the day, seek refuge from the heat. It is good to have simple siesta or guided yoga nidra to reduce the stimulation.
Massage Skin needs extra attention in summer. A relaxing oil self-massage before bed can help to bring balance and support to the nervous system when it has been over-stimulated from long days and too much activity. Use a light, pitta-balancing oil like almond oil or coconut oil or medicated ghee for summertime.
Eye care Eyes can become red and irritated from extra sun exposure. Soak cotton balls in rosewater and place them over the eyes for five minutes while you rest. Wash your eyes with fresh water a few times throughout the day.
Moon bath Let nature nurture you. Summer is sun dominant and so you can use the moon’s energy to bring balance. The practice of lunar bathing has a cooling effect on the body and mind. Sleeping in moonlight and away from artificial light helps to regulate your endocrine system and synchronise your cycles with the moon’s cycles.
Ayurvedic therapy during summer
Summer season needs extra care for the pitta life force. Organs like skin, eyes, liver, blood and stomach require specific attention to keep them functioning well and in balance.
Ayurveda offers a holistic approach to keep your pitta in balance. At Sunshine Ayurveda, we offer personalised therapy to address your needs. Ayurvedic therapeutic massage, medicated ghee massage, head massage, foot massage, shirodhara (calming treatment for the nervous system), netra tarpana (eye therapy) and virechana (therapeutic purgation) are recommended during this season.