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Cool Yourself this Summer

Dr. Ankita

Summer is here which is a pitta season so you need to balance pitta in this hot weather. Here are a few Ayurvedic tips to stay cool naturally and healthfully.

Summer season is pitta season, so you need to balance pitta through diet. Include a few dry foods in your daily diet to balance the liquid nature of Pitta, some “heavy” foods that offer substance and sustained nourishment, and foods that are cool to balance the fiery quality of Pitta. Increased heat can bring an imbalance of Pitta dosha, the mind-body operator that governs hormones, digestion and other metabolic processes in the body. It’s important to stay cool and hydrated to help prevent summer breakouts and rashes.

Seasonal pitta is first characterized by increased heat, increase in humidity, less cloudy days with brighter sunshine and some decrease in the digestive fires of our bodies. To stay in balance with nature and to maintain our health, we must become accustomed to these seasonal variants and prepare and adapt to them. We should not make drastic changes in our routines, but we will need to make some adjustments. The springtime is a kapha/pitta season and becomes more pitta as summer approaches, so our summer routines will actually start to some extent in the late spring. Because the digestive fires are somewhat weakened in the pitta cycle, we tend to be less hungry and naturally choose lighter and cooler foods. In spite of the great temptation, we should not drink iced drinks, only cool drinks and less hot drinks. We should favor the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes, such as sweet fruits, coconut, figs, melons, asparagus, potatoes, leafy greens, celery, basmati rice, oats, sunflower seeds and ghee. These moderate changes are always to be consistent with our basic constitutional doshas. The routine of our life must be maintained or the vata may be aggravated. These temporary and minor changes are more important for the adults (16 to 50) as they are in their pitta period of life.

Here are a few Ayurvedic tips to stay cool naturally and healthfully.

Lifestyle recommendations

The primary lifestyle recommendation for balancing Pitta is to stay cool—both physically and emotionally. Avoid going out in the heat of the day, especially on an empty stomach or after you have eaten tangy or spicy foods. Avoid exercising when it’s hot. Walk away from situations that make you see red.

Do not skip meals, do not fast and do not wait to eat until you are ravenously hungry. Start your day with cooked fruit, followed by some cereal. Eat a sustaining meal at lunch and a lighter meal for dinner. For snacking, choose sweet juicy fruit—fully ripe mangoes, sweet pears and sweet juicy grapes are excellent Pitta-pacifying choices. Delaying meals can cause excess acidity, so eat on time every day.

Daily elimination is very important to prevent ama from accumulating in the body.

To soothe sensitive skin, to balance the emotions and to nourish and tone muscles and nerves, indulge in an ayurvedic massage every morning before you bathe or shower. Use coconut oil for your massage. If you like, you can add 3-4 drops of a pure essential oil such as lavender or rose to 2 oz. of massage oil. Mix well before use. Two or three time a week, massage your scalp with warm oil, and let the oil stay for an hour or two before you shampoo. After your shower or bath, apply a pure, gentle moisturizer all over your body or spray your skin with pure rose or sandalwood water to keep your skin feeling cool all day long.

Protect yourself from the heat. Stay cool in warm weather by wearing loose cotton clothing. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes when you go out. Drink lots of room temperature water.

Water-based activities are ideal exercise for Pitta-dominant people. Try swimming or aqua-aerobics to stay fit but cool. Strolling after sunset, especially along a waterfront, is also a soothing way to fit some leisurely activity into your day.

If Pitta dosha is out of balance, you may find that you can fall asleep without much trouble, but you wake up in the very early hours and find it difficult to get back to sleep. It is important to get to bed early, so that you can get adequate rest each night. A cup of warm milk, with some cardamom, can be helpful before bedtime.

Balance work and play. Set aside some time for R&R everyday, and do not get so absorbed in a project that you are unable to detach from it.

Set aside about 30 minutes each day for meditation, to help balance the heart and emotions and to enhance body-mind-spirit coordination.

Cooling Summer Water Boil two quarts of water for two minutes. Take it off the heat and add 1/4 t. fennel seed, 2 rose buds, and 1 clove. Store it hot inside a thermos, but before drinking pour it into a cup and let it cool to room temperature.

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