Summertime and the living is easy…

…or at least it should be.

However, as the sun gets stronger, we can start to feel the effects of increased heat in our bodies. Symptoms such as skin irritation and rashes, anger and irritability, headaches, inflammation and acidity are all indications that our bodies are experiencing an excess of Pitta dosha.

Here are a few tips to keep Pitta in check so you can enjoy the long-awaited summer without the ‘side-effects’.

Diet

At this time of year it’s helpful to include lots of sweet, bitter and astringent foods such as sweet berries, stone fruit, watermelon, coconut (in any form – fresh, water, milk..), coriander, cucumber, leafy greens, asparagus, green beans. White Basmati rice is an ideal grain choice as it’s sweet taste is cooling and soothing. Culinary herbs to consider using are fennel, coriander, parsley and mint. We don’t often recommend eating raw foods in Ayurveda but this is the season where those young leafy salads are at their tender best and can be more easily tolerated by the digestive system. Take care to avoid too many spicy, salty and sour foods which can increase heat in the body.

Herbs

There are a number of Ayurvedic herbs which are excellent at reducing Pitta heat in its various guises. For heat in the digestive system, Guduchi is an excellent choice as is Shatavari which is great for reducing inflammation and supporting the liver. If rashes and skin irritations are a problem, consider Manjistha or Neem both of which have a particular affinity with the skin. If you’re finding the heat is causing you to become irritable and “hot-headed”, Brahmi is your friend. Its cooling qualities and ability to calm the mind make it a good choice for overheated emotions. As always, do consult an Ayurvedic or herbal practitioner before taking any herbs to ensure they’re suitable for you as an individual and won’t interact with any other medications you may be taking.

Massage

The best massage treatment for this time of year is Pada Abhyanga or Ayurvedic foot and lower leg massage. There are many Marma points (Ayurvedic acupressure points) in the feet and lower legs and treating these helps to remove excess heat from the body. To reap the full benefits, treat yourself to a fortnightly foot and lower leg massage in-clinic during the summer season. If this isn’t possible, once or twice a week give yourself an evening massage with Kumari oil followed by soaking the feet in a bowl of lukewarm water. To complete the experience, lie down and relax with some cucumber slices over your eyes (I know it’s a cliché but it does work to draw excess heat from the body – simply feel the cucumber slices when you remove them and you’ll see what I mean).

Yoga

Moon Salutations are more cooling that Sun Salutations and make for a perfect yoga practice during the summer. Spinal twists (seated or lying) are also a great way of drawing heat out of the spinal column. Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) and Shitali breath practice are the ideal summer breathing exercises to cool the body at any time of the day or night. Avoid any practice which is inherently heating and opt for a gentler style of yoga during the summer months.

Lifestyle

Referring back to the title, it really is the time of year to take things a little easier. Factor in extra time for your daily activities so you’re not rushing. Rushing not only feels very unpleasant under the hot summer sun but it also increases heat in the body which, in turn, increases stress, anger and irritability.

If you tend towards high-intensity or aerobic exercise, summer is the time to slow things down a little. Opt for gentler exercise such as walking, yoga, Pilates and gentle swimming. Pitta dosha is aggravated by competitive exercise (and that includes being competitive with yourself), so be gentle and mindful in your exercise regime during the summer season.

Ayurveda recommends spending time in nature as a part of daily self-care. During the summer months seek out water which will be very soothing to body and mind. It doesn’t have to be full-blown open sea swimming; a walk by a river or around a lake will deliver benefits. If you have access to a garden, try walking barefoot on the dewy grass first thing in the morning. It not only feels amazing but is an easy way to cool and ground the body in preparation for the day. At the other end of the day, ‘moon-bathing’ – spending some time outside under the light of the moon – is a cooling way to prepare for bed.

In Summary…

The increased heat of summer is one of the things that can cause aggravation of Pitta dosha in both the body and mind. The initial symptoms include skin irritation, indigestion and acidity, anger and irritability. Left unchecked, such symptoms can develop into Pitta related illnesses such as eczema, psoriasis, gastritis, fatigue and general inflammation in the body. Adopting some Pitta pacifying diet and lifestyle changes for the hotter months can help you feel better throughout summer and beyond.

If you’d like to book an Ayurvedic consultation or massage treatment with me, please click here: https://jane-eastwood.au1.cliniko.com/bookings#service

 

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