Cooling The Fire

I’ve been noticing the past couple of weeks that as the temperature rises outside, so does my internal thermometer.  I’ve been much more easily irritated, impatient and frustrated. I wondered what the heck was wrong with me? Then I remembered that summertime is the season of PItta, the fire dosha according to Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga.  In the summer season the other elements, earth, air and space (ether) all take a backseat to fire, especially for those of us who have higher amounts of Pitta in our natural constitutions.


According to Ayurveda, our bodies, minds and spirits are a microcosm for the macrocosm of the universe as a whole.  Just as the natural elements make up the external world they also account for our individual human make-up and determine our basic nature throughout our lives.


It makes sense that if you have a fair amount of Pitta (fire) in your constitution then the heat of summer will cause those tendencies to come to the forefront.  Some signs of Pitta in the body include acid stomach or heartburn, skin rashes, acne, graying or balding. Signs of Pitta in the mind include irritability, competitiveness, egoism, envy and short temper.


Our Western culture which holds in the highest esteem material gain, accomplishment, success at any cost and multi-tasking is very Pitta in nature, adding fuel to the fire.


So what can we do to balance too much Pitta in our lives this summer season?  


First check in with your diet.  Make sure you are eating whole, seasonal, fresh foods.  Avoid spicy, salty, pungent oily, heavy and sour foods. Instead eat what nature provides in abundance in the summertime, lots of sweet fruits (think watermelon, peaches, plums, nectarines), lots of leafy greens like kale, collards and dandelion, cooling foods like cucumbers, fennel, mint and dill.  In general, stick with light foods that don’t overburden the digestive fire.


Next check in with your yoga practice (and any other physical activities).  Try working at 50-75% of your normal effort for the summer season. Pushing too hard in summer will cause the whole system to overheat.  Notice if you are competing with the person on the mat next to you. If you are, it’s a good indicator that your mind is too Pitta. When you find yourself competing, shift your focus to having more fun in your practice.


Do self care focused on cooling off. Enjoy cool showers, take a tablespoon of aloe vera gel (not juice) daily or try rubbing your hair and scalp with coconut oil and leaving it in for an hour or even overnight.  When you wash it out your hair will feel great and your mind may also be less on fire.

Stay cool!