6 Tips for Anyone trying to Navigate the Summer, (pitta season).
I was sitting in a training the other day, and the Ayurvedic Practitioner was surveying the room. She looked directly at me and said, “You’re Pitta Kapha.” Yes M’am.
How do Pittas navigate Pitta season without catching fire?
I love my summers, but only when I’m in balance. I love spending time on the ocean and celebrating the longer New York days with friends and family. I love barbeques and celebrating the fact that it’s FINALLY NOT SNOWING. Too much celebrating though, and Pitta-Kaphas can suffer. The Pitta in us can over-celebrate. The pitta dosha is guided by the elements of fire and water, so its possible for us to get to hot, literally. If we don’t take time to ground and relax, we can be thrown off-balance. We need to eat cooling foods and engage in cooling practices, like Yin Yoga or meditation. The Kapha in us also loves a good celebration - bbq’s and soul food keep us spreading that loving energy all the time. This dosha combination is a challenging one in the summer, so here are 6 tips to prevent imbalance in a NYC summer for any dosha.
1. Drink water with lemon or mint in the morning, (lemon for kapha or vata dosha, peppermint for pitta dosha).
I know we looooooveeeeee iced drinks in the summer, (at least I do), but ice isn’t great for our digestive system. If you’re thinking about whether that 3rd iced frappaccino is a good idea, the answer is probably no! Our digestive fire, or "agni," is responsible for making sure that we get the nutrients we need from the food we eat, and that we release the toxins we don't need in our body. It’s easier for our system to work when we are hydrated and lubricated, and drinking enough water, especially when we first wake up in the morning, is critical to maintaining a healthy digestive system.
2. Spend time in nature
Walk early in the morning around trees or water whenever possible. Take a hike or a gentle bike ride at sunrise or sunset, when it’s not too hot. Exercise is important, but if you are moving around outside during the hottest parts of the day, make sure you’re not doing anything that’s going to piss you off. That sometimes happens when we’re all hot and sweaty. Take breaks in air conditioning or a cooler space when you can.
3. Try to avoid eating too many spicy foods.
You don’t need to be an expert in Ayurveda to realize that spicy foods make you hotter. Because it’s already easier for your body to overheat in the summer, consuming too many hot foods, (including too much coffee), can throw you off-balance. Instead, think about introducing more cooling foods into your diet - watermelon and cucumber are great examples. Sour cream and yogurt are great for pittas in the summer because it prevents them from overheating and spices including dill, coriander, cilantro, and fennel are great for the summer also. Include these spices in your nutritional plan, and your gut will thank you!
4. Eat smaller meals, but eat more often.
Big, heavy meals can be too much for any dosha in the summer. Because the days are longer, it’s possible that we may be hungrier because we are more active during the day. Also, our agni is already pretty active in the heat. If we eat too much at once, we could feel sluggish and uncomfortable, which is NEVER fun when you’re running for the train or the bus in July's heat and humidity.
Though we think of citrus in the summer, be careful not to consume too much acid, (think of that digestive fire again). We could end up with heartburn or ulcers if we overdo the summer oranges and lemons.
5. Engage in slower, less high-impact exercise.
Lots of people love an energizing run when the weather is cooperative, but be mindful of the time of day and the type of activity you are engaging in when you move in the summer. Taking a Bikram class right before a double at SoulCycle probably isn’t necessary or that great for you. Exercise outside when you can, and when you can’t, take a body-sculpting, barre, or Yinsa Flow class.
6. Engage in a daily self-massage practice.
In Ayurveda we call this “Abhyanga,” (I have another blog post about that), to cool down the body at the end of a longer day. If you are a night-owl like I am, it might be hard for you to wind down at night. Combining the pitta in me with pitta season, (summer), and pitta time, (10 pm to 2 am), and it’s nearly impossible for me to fall asleep. Your best bet is to get to bed BEFORE pitta time starts at 10 pm. If that’s not possible for all you urban-dwellers, try to wind down at night by massaging Yinsa Pittacify into your skin. Pittacify is great for summer if you’re looking to cool down after a long day of annoying humidity and crankiness.
What are some signs of pitta imbalances?
Excess anger or irritation is a sure sign of a pitta imbalance; the uncomfort of being too hot can exacerbate that. Gastrointestinal issues including diarrhea, ulcers, heartburn, or nausea are all signs of pitta imbalance as well. Think of what fire feels like. If you’re feeling fire anywhere in your body or mind, it’s possible that you may have a Pitta vitiation.
If you experience these issues, the perfect pitta-pacifying tea can be made with 1 tbs each of Fennel, Coriander, and Cumin seeds may help to relieve some gastric issues. Boil a cup of water, and allow the tea to steep for 20 minutes. Remember - drinking the tea warm or at room temperature is fine. You can drink this tea in between meals to manage your digestive system and cool off any over-heated agni, (digestive fire).
Want more help navigating the summer? Daniele is hosting a workshop at the Yoga Collective in NYC titled "I Got 99 Problems but my Dosha Ain't One on June 27th. You can sign up here.