Ayurveda teaches that the pitta dosha rises during late spring and through the summer; in this season we’re now at in the northern hemisphere, it’s easy to see that the long warm days increase heat and light. These increase the pitta energy in nature around us and in our bodies too:in nature within us. Formed of the elements fire and water, Pitta is generally described as being hot, fast, sharp, liquid, oily and fiery. Irritability, anger, passion, and competitiveness are considered pitta characteristics and those with pitta as their dominant dosha are said to be prone to being critical, driven, short-fused, charismatic, analytical, argumentative and sharp-minded too. They tend to be of average height and build with fair skin and hair (or red hair), sharp eyes and often freckles or moles. In physical health, they have a tendency towards inflammation-related conditions, rashes, heartburn, acidity but good energy levels. The pitta time of life is considered to be early adulthood to late middle-age (50-ish). Pitta tastes are sour, salty and pungent. Its colours are red, yellow and orange.
In summer, the elevated pitta energy can make us more prone to some of the pitta-associated problems. This may be particularly so for pitta-dominant types and during the middle of the day (and middle of the night) – when pitta energy is more abundant still. However, we can take steps to balance this. Some are things that we’re probably naturally drawn to doing out of common sense, such as staying out the sun in the middle of the day, eating salads and fruit, and drinking cool drinks. Ayurveda advises avoiding or at least reducing things that are heating in the body – for example, alcohol and red meat (if we partake of them anyway), salty, sour and pungent flavours and very hot spices.
Sweetness balances pitta by increasing kapha. I also see it that at this time of year our bodies and digestions are likely to be strong (if we are generally looking after them!) and so a little more tolerant of a bit of sugar – although unrefined sugars such as honey, dried fruit and maple syrup are best. Other sweet tastes like red lentils, almonds, coconut, sweet potatoes and similar sweet vegetables are also good. Coconut oil is cooling when used both inside the body and on it; try a foot massage with it, particularly in the evening. Aaaahh….
Sebastian Pole of Pukka Herbs recommends peppermint, liquorice and fennel as being beneficial herbs for summer. He also advises rose for its cooling, calming properties; it’s a flower that I associate with midsummer, and also full moon (the corresponding point in the lunar cycle when, like summer, things can get a little heady and over-powering) and therefore the mother aspect of the goddess. I’m currently enjoying wearing a little dab of rose oil on my third eye area each day.
Staying grounded and making time for stillness also balances pitta by increasing kapha, as does being by water. Right now I’m drawn to floor-based yoga asanas, (particularly the mermaid pose, probably to assist me in pretending that really I’m at the seaside!). The heat actually helps me with making time for stillness as I feel like doing very little in hot weather. Lately, my toddler and I have often spent the early afternoon indoors with the curtains partly drawn, then later ventured outside for knitting and water play, or gently pottering in the garden sniffing the calming lavender and valerian that we’ve got in flower right now….mmmm yes please.
Yet as well as balancing pitta so that it doesn’t get all out of hand reek havoc, we might want to harness and utilise it too: to stoke our creativity and our passions, to bring into our hearts the warmth of the social gatherings and celebrations that the long days facilitate, to energise, to direct, to radiate love into ourselves and out to the world. to take some time to analyse, evaluate and gently critique where we are and what we’re doing in our lives. To just bask and enjoy. ♥
PS I wrote more about balancing pitta in this post last year.