Updated: Jul 27, 2021
As we head into the summer months, we're beginning the transition into what Ayurveda refers to as Pitta Season. Our body is composed of the five elements of the universe (air, fire, ether, earth, and water) and these five elements are conveyed by the three doshas present in our body.
The doshas are:
These three vitalities define every person’s disposition. Each dosha has corresponding qualities that are articulated in the mental, physical and emotional aspects of one's being.
Vata is composed of fire and ether
Pitta is composed of fire and water
Kapha is composed of water and air
During summer, the fire element is at its highest, and we move into Pitta season. We have to balance the heat and intensity associated with this time.
Ayurveda has a simple principle that says “like increases like”. This means that anything that brings heat to the body will increase Pitta. Therefore, it's wise to introduce cooling, pacifying qualities into your diet and lifestyle to transition into Pitta season.
How to transition into Pitta season
Structure your day around Pitta time and create a routine
According to Ayurveda, Pitta governs the time between 10am to 2pm and 10pm to 2am. It’s important to be aware of this time of day as it’s more likely you'll fall out of balance if you deviate from it.
The time between 10am and 2pm is one of active energy and heightened productivity. The sun is highest in the sky, creating more heat. This in turn increases our digestive fires and amplifies our energy.
This is why Ayurveda recommends eating your main meal between 10am and 2pm and scheduling your most productive tasks. It’s also important to have a regular eating schedule and avoid skipping meals. If you want to fast, opt for intermittent rather than prolonged fasting.
Between 10pm and 2am is when the body shifts into recovery mode by making repairs and burning stored fat. It’s especially important during Pitta season to take it easy during the evening. Spend your time relaxing and try to avoid doing anything that requires intense concentration too close to bedtime.
Cool the body by supporting the five senses
To balance Pitta, avoid salty, sour and spicy food and instead focus on bitter, sharp and sweet flavours. Green leafy vegetables, rhubarb, dandelion tea, turmeric, pomegranate, and rice are good examples of foods to opt for.
To stay cool, focus on wearing clothing that is light, breathable and a natural fabric like linen.
Essential oils can be a wonderful way to cool down the body during Pitta season. Focus on relaxing oils such as jasmine, peppermint, lavender and ylang-ylang.
Try to incorporate cooling tones such as silvers, whites, blues and greens to balance the Pitta dosha. These colours can be integrated into your home décor, accessories and clothing. You can also cool Pitta by taking in the sights of nature by being near lakes, oceans and forests.
Listen to music you find soothing and relaxing. My personal choice? Artists such as Bon Iver and Grand Brothers help me to rhythmically balance the Pitta dosha.
Cooling practices to try
Apply a soothing oil
Abhyanga (or application of oil to the body) is a recommended daily practice in Ayurveda.
Abhyanga can help balance Pitta by calming the nervous system. Try to use cooling oils, like coconut as opposed to heating oils, like sesame or almond. If you're feeling particularly heated, focus your attention on the face, ears, nose, scalp and feet, and keep the massage movements small and slow.
Once complete, relax with a cooling shower or bath.
Practice gentle yoga flows
Opt for cooling exercises such as a gentle yoga flow and aim to exercise in the early morning. It's also beneficial to avoid any pose that brings too much heat to the head (such as headstand).
Spinal twists are great for incorporating in your yoga flow because excess Pitta heat tends to accumulate in the mid-abdomen, the small intestine and the liver.
Breathing practice and meditation
Meditation and pranayama are highly effective tools in reducing excess heat during Pitta season.
Both practices encourage grounding, reduce stress, aid in the release of emotions, and cultivate peace – all things that cool down Pitta heat.
For meditation practices, try focusing on the breath or Soham meditation. Soham (pronounced 'so-hum') meditation is a simple yet effective technique that uses breath and repetition of a mantra to bring yourself to a state of joy and inner peace through mental clarity.
Soham means 'I am that'. When we chant the Soham mantra, we are saying, 'I am one with the universe'. When we inhale, the life energy goes in and when we exhale, our ego goes out.
Another cooling tool is Sitali breath. To do Sitali breath, you slowly sip air through a rolled tongue or pursed lips. Then, unroll the tongue, close the mouth and exhale through the nose.
It’s almost as if you’re making your own air conditioning. It’s a very subtle breath practice and can be done almost anywhere. I would recommend 10 rounds of Sitali breath to bring calm and coolness into the body.
By using the above tools, you can transition with ease into Pitta season. I wish you a calm, cooling season!
About Erica Breen
Erica is a life-long mover and forever student. Trained in Pilates, Yoga and Ayurveda, Erica has a breadth of knowledge when it comes to the human body and its inner workings. Leading a nomadic lifestyle, you'll find Erica sharing her work online from all over the world! Find out more at ericabreenpilates.com.