Summertime is Pitta time!
The fiery dosha ensures warm temperatures and lots of sunshine, inviting us to spend days by the pool or the sea, to wear airy clothes and to sit outside for long evenings.
But be careful: if the reading on the thermometer climbs too high, it can also have a stressful effect on us, especially if we have a constitution with a lot of Pitta. This can easily be thrown out of balance by heat and increased sunlight.
Whether you’re one of those people who love summer or prefer a different time of year, here’s how to keep your cool no matter what.
What does Pitta time mean for us?
Pitta, the dosha formed mainly from the element of fire, is dominant during this season. You already know that this makes the weather summery hot and sunny. But what does that do to our bodies?
Since people with dominant Pitta Dosha have the best digestion, the assumption is that during this time of year the Agni, the digestive fire, burns stronger in everyone. However, this is not the case. Why? Our body needs a constant core temperature to function well. If it gets particularly warm outside, our body tries to compensate by sweating. The skin gets more blood flow, which means that the digestive organs get less blood flow. So our digestion doesn’t necessarily run at full speed during hot periods – you may notice this by feeling less hungry.
So what foods are good for us when our Agni is on the back burner?
The bad news: the salad that is so popular in summer is rather unsuitable. Raw foods, as healthy as they are, are not necessarily easy to digest and thus only give our leisurely digestive tract more work – which costs energy.
The good news is that if you just can’t pass up a crunchy salad, you can choose a yogurt dressing to go with it, as dairy is good at making the raw ingredients a little easier to digest. If you want to boost your Agni, drink a glass of ginger water about half an hour before eating.
Generally, you need cooling foods during this time to balance pitta. These include sweet fruits such as mangoes and melons, but also rice, ghee, coconut, and herbs such as lemon balm, fennel, and mint.
Cooling does not mean “chilled,” however! Drinks fresh from the fridge, possibly even with ice cubes, will only dim your digestive fire even more and rob you of energy, because the body works at full speed again to balance its core temperature when it is supplied with iced foods. So it’s better to choose drinks at room temperature and only treat yourself to a tasty ice cream every now and then – even though you might feel tempted.
I probably don’t need to tell you that you should avoid the midday heat. Maybe you feel a bit tired during this time and long for rest. In that case, deep relaxation or a round of Yoga Nidra is better for your body than a nap.
Exercise should be scheduled for the cooler hours of the morning. If you are usually an athlete, Pitta time invites you to cut back a bit and perhaps meditate more instead. Or maybe you can take your exercise to or even into the water?
To ensure a good night’s sleep, don’t eat too much in the evening so your body isn’t too busy digesting and can relax. Try to keep your bedroom windows open when the temperature drops a bit in the evening to ensure a comfortable sleeping environment.
Your yoga practice can also be wonderfully adapted to the warm season. Just like everything else in our lives, the asanas affect the doshas and, when practiced accordingly, can provide a pleasant cooling effect.
For example, instead of sun salutations, you can practice moon salutations to (gently!) warm up, bringing the cooling, flowing moon energy to the mat.
Backbends have a strong heating effect and should therefore only be practiced gently. For heart opening, choose asanas like the sphinx or cobra instead of the wheel. Rebalance afterwards with yummy forward folds. You may even notice that they come easier to you than usual, since you are more stretchable due to the heat.
In addition to the cooling effect of the forward folds, the digestive effect of twists is also very welcome in the summer. Support your Agni by doing Ardha Matsyendrasana or the crocodile twist.
Balances balance all three doshas. So tree, standing balance & co. also fit wonderfully into your summer practice.
A cooling pranayama exercise for in between is Sitali. Roll your tongue lengthwise and stick it out of your mouth. When you inhale, you will feel a cooling draught on your tongue. Breathe out through your nose in a relaxed manner and repeat this process as often as you like.
What about you? Are you a fan of summer or does the heat get to you? How do you take care of your well-being during this time? Share it with me in the comments!