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Seasonal Practices for Summer (Pitta Season)

Ayurveda provides a wealth of seasonal lifestyle practices or rituals known as ‘Ritucharya’ (‘ritu’ translates to ‘season’, and ‘charya’ to ‘guidelines’) to support us throughout the year, and ensure that we live in accordance with nature.

As the natural world around us begins to heat up, ignite and transform – it is important that we take measures to cool down to keep the balance.

Our environment should always be the inspiration for how we live our lives on a daily basis.

Nature provides the foundation, and it is up to us to work harmoniously with her to complement what is naturally abundant.

It is this flow, this dance, that allows us to live a balanced, effortless life, in tune with the natural rhythms of our environment.

Summer embodies the actions of transformation and intensity, and just like our garden – if there is too much heat, there is also risk of  destruction. Days become longer, creating more opportunities for socialising, connection and outdoor activities. But like everything in life, daily action needs to be taken to ensure the scales don’t tip over.

All seasons work together to provide balance and allow space for the intrinsic patterns of life to exist. Summer is a time of fertility, growth and renewal. It is a time for connection, enjoying nature’s bounty and connecting with your environment. It embodies qualities of action and inspiration, but can also trigger feelings of frustration and competitiveness while leaving you hot-headed and angry.

Every season possesses the energy to both inspire and encumber your sense of self.

This can cause imbalances in those with a predominantly Pitta constitution, leading to physical and emotional symptoms such as skin rashes, sunburns, irritability, anger, and digestive issues. The increased heat can also lead to dehydration and fluid imbalances in the body. The Pitta season is a time to take special care of yourself by making adjustments to your diet, exercise, and self-care routines to balance your Doshas and avoid exacerbating any Pitta-related discomforts.

For those with a predominantly Pitta dosha, this season can bring with it feelings of irritation, anger, and heat-related discomforts like sunburns and rashes. However, with a few mindful changes to your lifestyle, you can balance your Pitta and enjoy the summer to the fullest.

It is through Ayurveda that we are able to identify and work to balance the elemental forces at play. By using Ayurvedic principles, to adapt our diet and lifestyle practices, we are able to access and utilise the intentions of each season, without being burdened by seasonally induced imbalances.

Ayurveda

Ayurveda is an ancient tradition that is based upon the relationship between the mind, body, soul and emotions. Ayurveda factors in diet and lifestyle practices that work in harmony with the elements (Doshas), as well as nature and the seasons. Ayurveda originated in India many thousands of years ago and can be translated as ‘The Science of Life,’ or ‘The Art of Living’. It possesses ancient practices for living a balanced and fulfilling life that doesn’t harm the planet.

The Doshas

The unique physical, emotional, habitual and energetic qualities of each of the elements—ether, air, fire, water & earth—combine to reflect the three Doshas—Vata, Pitta & Kapha.

Ayurveda believes that every living entity — plants, animals, humans — are composed of these elements in certain quantities, as are all diseases. Each of the Doshas are dominant throughout certain times of the day, seasons, phases of life and are unique to every individual’s constitution.

By working with the Doshas, we are given the tools to balance, or neutralise, the effects of dominant elements in order to restore harmony.

PITTA SEASON (SUMMER)

Representing the fire and water elements, Pitta is associated with qualities such as heat, intensity, and transformation. During this season, which spans from late spring to early autumn, the external environment tends to mirror these characteristics with rising temperatures and longer days. As the sun radiates its potent energy, individuals may experience an increase in the Pitta dosha within themselves, leading to potential imbalances such as heightened irritability, skin sensitivities, and digestive issues. Ayurvedic practices during Pitta season often focus on cooling and calming strategies, including mindful eating of cooling foods, staying hydrated, and engaging in activities that promote relaxation and balance to counteract the intense energy associated with this period.

Pitta (fire + water) resembles hot, intense and overwhelming qualities as well as aggressive, argumentative and competitive emotional attributes. 

Pitta’s heat can result in an excess of the fire element within the body – leading to symptoms such as acidity, reflux, diarrhoea, skin breakouts, rashes, headaches etc as well as feelings of frustration and hot-headedness, which can impact your ability to negotiate, work collaboratively, stay calm and exercise compassion. 

Understanding the physical and emotional characteristics of each season allows you to harness your mental strength to overcome burdens and limitations and work harmoniously with what the environment is offering rather than fighting against it.

Each season pacifies or ignites certain energies within us, meaning that our systems can be thrown out of balance if we don’t take the correct measures to adapt with the season. As Pitta is dominant in the environment during summer, our lifestyle and diet should work to pacify its qualities, so that we can avoid an accumulation or aggravation of its qualities.

Ayurveda has many tools to support us during seasonal shifts. This support structure allows us to thrive, and live symbiotically with nature, plants and each other.

 

Ayurvedic Summer Lifestyle Practices (Ritucharya)

During summer you may feel highly charged, so instead of stoking the fire through more stimulating forms of exercise – it is best to slow down, ground and ‘put out the fire’ through more gentle alternatives. 

  • Take advantage of the longer days and rise with or before the sun to practice stillness.
  • Ease your way into the day with a meditation practice.
  • Utilise coconut oil for Abhyanga (self-massage) to keep cool and pacify the nervous system.
  • Stay cool by using a cold compress/wash cloth on the back of your neck, take a cold shower or place your feet in a bucket of cold water rather than drinking lots of cold beverages which extinguish your digestive fire (Agni).
  • Practice grounding forms of yoga, pranayama and mantra.
  • Swap high intensity exercise like running, boxing & HIIT classes for gentle walks and swimming.
  • Connect with nature and cool down by a body of water (preferably away from the midday sun).
  • Create an eating ritual where you are completely focused on your meal, away from devices and technology. Take this time to express gratitude and allow your taste buds to connect with the life-giving properties of your food (prana).
  •  Be mindful of the additional fire element present in summer and try to keep it balanced to avoid conflict.

Ayurvedic Summer Diet Principles

With all of the additional heat outside and inside your body – it is best to avoid anything that will also contribute more heat, and opt for more cooling foods that will keep you in balance. Keep in mind that this does not necessarily mean cold in temperature, but more so cooling by nature. 

Avoid spicy, sour, and oily foods that can increase Pitta in the body. Instead, opt for cooling, sweet, and bitter foods (like watermelon, cucumber, and leafy greens). It’s also important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water to balance your fluid levels.

Summer is the time for…

  •  Sweet Fruits: Opt for sweet, juicy fruits like melons, grapes, watermelon, limes and pears. These fruits have a cooling effect on the body.
  • Leafy Greens: Embrace leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard. These vegetables are not only nutrient-dense but also have a cooling nature. Add herbs like coriander, parsley and mint to your meals.
  • Cucumbers: With a high water content, cucumbers are excellent for hydration and cooling. Consider adding them to salads or infusing water with cucumber slices. Best to remove the skin for anyone with weak digestion.
  • Coconut: Coconut, in various forms such as coconut water, coconut oil, and shredded coconut, has cooling properties that can help balance Pitta.
  • Whole Grains: Choose grains like basmati rice, barley, and quinoa. These grains are nourishing and have a cooling effect.
  • Fennel: Fennel seeds or fennel tea can aid digestion and help cool the digestive system, making them beneficial for Pitta individuals.
  • Soothing Spices: Use mild, cooling spices like coriander, cardamom, and fennel in cooking to enhance flavor without increasing heat.
  • Aloe Vera: Aloe vera juice can be consumed to soothe the digestive tract and cool the body from within.
  • Refreshing salads (avoid using raw vegetables – best to cook and allow to cool first to support digestion). E.g pre-roasted root vegetables with fresh greens, plenty of herbs, cucumber (skin removed), soba noodles and a cooling raita (coconut yoghurt) dressing.
  • Green gazpacho.
  • Borscht (beetroot soup) with fennel.
  • Stirfrys with plenty of greens.
  • Remember to minimise anything cold or frozen (which will dampen Agni).

Staying in Balance

By understanding the attributes of the doshas we are able to recognise aggravations, and work to find balance through our daily diet and lifestyle practices. By consciously connecting with our bodies, we are able to feel and sense the effects each meal has on our digestion – whether it’s energised & revitalised or bloated & lethargic, and can recognise what does and doesn’t work for our innate constitution.

Begin to slowly observe how your body and mind feels after you eat specific meals and explore different forms of exercise/lifestyle practices. Give yourself the space to reflect and decipher whether these experiences have had a positive or negative effect on you and begin to reduce practices that aren’t aligned with your optimum wellbeing.

When living harmoniously with nature, our intuition is strengthened, we are able to live in conscious attunement with our natural habitat, whilst creating minimal impact on the planet.

Ayurvedic Diet + Lifestyle consultations provide you with an opportunity to uncover your dosha, harmonise any imbalances, and establish complimentary practices for each season. 

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