It’s pitta season: Tend your fire without getting burned


In between fire and water is a space of harmony. In this space, both elements – though seemingly opposing – are equalized. They ebb and flow, but never overtake the other. This is what balanced pitta dosha, represented by the elements of fire and water, looks like. 

As we move out of the damp, earthy kapha season (spring) and into sharp, hot pitta season (summer) we may notice our bodies reflecting more of the fire element that governs pitta dosha. In the heat of summer, we can find balance by moderating that fire with pitta’s other element, water.

Pitta dosha governs metabolism and digestion. We tend to think of digestion as the process of breaking down food for energy, but we also digest emotions, thoughts and the world around us. Pitta is responsible for all forms of digestion. As pitta helps us digest food and life experiences, it creates heat that metabolizes what we take in and purifies the body. When pitta is balanced, this heat results in courage, motivation, energy, good muscle tone, organization, sharp intellect and the ability to see the bigger picture in life. If pitta is out of balance, you’ll see fiery emotions, like anger and impatience, hot flashes, hyper-criticism, and health issues related to the fire element – acid reflux, red and itchy eczema, excess sweating, bad breath and conditions that end in "itis." 

The Ayurvedic concept that like increases like and the opposite brings balance is the key to balancing pitta dosha. Moderation – tempering heat with cool – during this pitta season can help you stay cool in body and mind.  

Here are some tips to guide you through pitta season this summer: 

  1. Moderate fiery emotions with meditation. Devote time each day for meditation. When you regularly look inward, you learn to distinguish between reaction (an emotionally charged spark) and response (a thoughtful answer that is in line with your higher self).

  2. Ahhh-sana. Make time in the cooler parts of the day for Yoga asana practice. Summer is time for a gentler, more restorative practice with forward folds, bends and twists that cleanse and calm the digestive tract. Avoid building excess heat (and risking injury) with fast-paced sequences or heated rooms.

  3. Take a breather. If you find yourself overheated by stress or physical exertion, incorporate the simple pranayama practice of sitali into your daily routine. Sit with a straight spine, roll the sides of your tongue up and breathe in slowly through your rolled tongue. Bring your hand into Vishnu mudra (index and middle finger tucked into the pad of the thumb), close your right nostril with your right thumb, and exhale smoothly out the left nostril. Repeat three, six, or nine times. If you cannot roll your tongue simply spread the lips and inhale across the top of the tongue through the closed teeth.

  4. Cool as a cucumber. Moderate pitta’s fire by eating foods with bitter, astringent and sweet tastes and incorporating coconut oil and cooling herbs, like mint and cilantro. Avoid spicy, fried or stimulating foods (there’s no better time to break your coffee habit). Want a quick and delicious tip to bring cooling energy to your meal? Add shredded cucumber to cooked vegetables.

  5. Sip sweetness. Keep your body hydrated by sipping sweet and cooling drinks, such as coconut water or a tea blend made of mint, rose and hibiscus. On hot days, enjoy a rehydration drink. As you look to quench your thirst, remember that cold drinks and cold food cause greater imbalance. The cold shocks your system and extinguishes agni, digestive fire. Enjoy your food and beverages room temperature or warm.

  6. Moderation, moderation and more moderation. When pitta is out of balance it’s easy to go to extremes. Find peace in the middle by balancing everything you do. Go to bed before 10:00 p.m. (pitta dosha functions start at 10, so staying up later will make it harder to go to sleep) and wake before the sunrise. Avoid the midday sun and use meditation and pranayama to manage stress. Above all else, find ways to be kind to yourself. One of our favorites is abhyanga with cooling coconut oil or an herbal oil recommended in a consultation with Hale Pule.

As you seek balance through Ayurveda and Yoga, remember that we have all three doshas present in each of us, just in different amounts. Even if pitta is not your primary dosha, you may experience signs of pitta imbalance. If you do, adjust your diet and lifestyle using these tips to make a difference in how you feel this summer and all year long.

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