As we experience the last few truly hot days of the season, we would like to share some information from Deb on the Ayurvedic “Pitta” Season.
SUMMER SEASON: PITTA DOSHA
Our Bodies & Our Environment
Earth begins to warm after Spring til the coolness comes in the Fall.
SUMMER SEASON: PITTA SEASON
EARLY SUMMER – OCTOBER: EARLY FALL
An Overview of Pitta Dosha:
Summer is said to be the season of pitta. A combination of fire and water elements, pitta has the characteristics of being hot, oily and light. When there is an excess accumulation of pitta in the body, you may experience the following:
- Excess generation of heat in the body
- Acid reflux, gas, indigestion
- Inflammation of the joints
- Nausea, diarrhea or constipation
- Anger & irritability
- Bad breath
- Body odor
- Excessive sweating
Elements: Combination of the water and fire elements. Pittas have more of a tendency toward heat and overheating.
Located: The main sites for pitta dosha in the body are the small intestine, liver, and navel area, so attention should be focused on the navel and solar plexus; asanas that open these areas will release heat and tension there and help to decrease pitta. Associated with digestion, metabolism & temperature in the body.
Qualities: Qualities or gunas, are hot, oily, liquid, sharp, light, and spreading. People with a predominance of this dosha tend to have a medium build, warm body, oily skin, penetrating ideas, sharp intelligence, and hair that is straight, thin, and shiny with a tendency to gray prematurely. They often sweat easily and have warm hands and feet.
Imbalance: Symptoms of excessive pitta dosha may include irritability, anger, aggression, impatience, inflammation, and redness. Digestive issues & excess heat in the body.
Balancing Elements: Fire & Water. Hottest/ Longest days of the Year. Late Spring into Early Fall when leaves turn.
Avoid the heat of the day. Stay out of the sun. 10 am to 2 pm (pitta time). Make time to practice.
Rubdown with coconut oil to cool skin. Rose water for heat spray.
To balance excess pitta, we need to bring opposing gunas into our practice: cool, dry, dull, soft, and dark. And integrating those gunas may begin with your approach to your practice: Try practicing in a cooler, darker environment with a more passive attitude (without expectations, competition, or judgment).
How to Reduce Pitta:
While how to balance pitta dosha is the question that needs immediate attention, knowing about what causes pitta imbalance in the body is equally important. There are a lot of factors that contribute towards accumulation of pitta dosha or pitta imbalance. Some of the most notable among them are:
- Exposure to pitta opposing or provoking diet
- Excessive consumption of preservatives
- Exposure to the sun
- Exposure to too many chemicals
- Emotional or physical stress
For the Ayurvedic practitioner
Each season is associated with one of three doshas: Vata, Pitta, or Kapha. The summer season is ruled by the Pitta dosha, which is primarily composed of fire and water and characterized as light, sharp, hot, oily, liquid, spreading, and subtle.
What Does Pitta Do to You?
Pitta governs digestion (both physical and in terms of the information around us), as well as absorption, assimilation, and metabolism. It also governs body temperature, skin coloration, the luster of the eyes, intelligence, and understanding. Pitta is about transformation.
Think for a second what happens when, at 2 p.m. on a 95-degree afternoon in July, you stand under the sun, sip on a drink, and enjoy a barbeque. If you are Pitta predominant, the heat outside will aggravate you and generate heat on the inside too.
Ayurveda emphasizes that our minds and bodies are deeply connected. If you feel agitated, jealous, envious, intense, or impatient (all signs of Pitta dosha imbalance) notice what that does to your digestion. You may suffer heartburn, diarrhea, or acid reflux from eating pungent, salty, and sour foods on a hot day. You might see skin rashes or inflammation, feel burning in the eyes, or experience excessive thirst.
Balancing Pitta’s Heat
One of the key ways to balance the doshas is through what we eat and drink each day. Because the summer exacerbates the Pitta dosha, it’s important to eat foods that are the opposite of scorching. Equally important is how and when we eat.
Seeking Pitta’s opposite is to seek qualities of calm, coolness, and moderation. And so Pitta-types fare best when they minimize sour, spicy, and salty foods, such as alcohol, coffee, chilies, dark meat, and citrus fruits.
Pitta Dosha Diet & Foods
Pitta is one of the three doshas known to govern the metabolism and the transformation that takes place in the body. Pitta predominantly controls how we digest food and discriminate between right and wrong. In a nutshell, pitta dosha concerns itself with the digestion power or ‘agni’ and makes sure it does not go into an overdrive causing you discomfort and stomach related ailments.
Pitta Dosha Diet :
Ayurveda in India prescribes simple yet effective pitta remedies, applying which, you can easily get rid of the pitta imbalance in the body. These methods include a pitta pacifying ayurvedic diet that aids in cleansing the body of all the harmful and toxic waste material and regularizing the bowel movements for a happy and healthy gut. Doing so on a regular basis will calm the body and allow it to function properly. Here’s your guide to a wonderful pitta pacifying diet, following which you can easily tackle the problem of how to control pitta and feel healthy at the same time. Yoga For Pitta Dosha can also prove useful in balancing Pitta Dosha.
Rytucharya is the Ayurvedic practice of taking up rituals and routines that support you through each season to live in balance and harmony with yourself and the natural world (Russell).
How then do we balance the Pitta Dosha?
Pitta is pacified by consuming a combination of fresh, cooling, grounding and carbohydrate rich foods. For a person who has excess of pitta dosha, must take care of the below given pointers:
- Favor cool over warm or hot
- Nourishing & light food must take precedence over dense or heavy food items
- Dry food over liquid help curb pitta dosha
- Mild drinks like fresh juices over hard ones like alcohol or caffeine based drinks work as a wonderful example of pitta pacifying foods
Diet recommendations for you to follow.
Fresh fruits and vegetables work best to control pitta dosha. Fruits that are sweet to taste and slightly astringent help pacify pitta. When picking pitta pacifying foods, it is important to distinguish between the tastes as anything sweet can work in your favor, but a fruit or vegetable that is bitter to taste can work against your body.
Also, fruits, vegetables and juices are best enjoyed alone and not as an accompaniment to any other food. Best would be to have it 30 minutes before or an hour later to any meal. It will help you digest the food properly and make the maximum of your diet.
1) Fruits beneficial to remove pitta from body :
Apples, apricots, berries, cherries, coconut, dates, pear, papaya, plums, pomegranate, mango, orange, melons, watermelon, strawberries, figs and grapes.
2) Vegetables to eat to curb pitta imbalance :
Avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cilantro/coriander, peas, pumpkin, radishes, cabbage, sweet potato, spinach, lettuce, okra, cucumber, potatoes, leafy greens, and mushrooms among others
3) Grains that support pitta diet :
Barley, couscous, oats, quinoa, granola, wheat, tapioca, wheat bran, pasta, pancakes, amaranth and rice (basmati) among others.Grains to avoid: Corn, buckwheat, millet, museli, rye, yeasted bread, polenta and brown rice.
4) Balance pitta dosha with legumes :
Legumes are astringent in nature and therefore, help pacify pitta. As part of easy and simple pitta remedies to try at home, you must include the following legumes in your everyday diet. Black beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, soya beans, tofu, lima beans, mung dal and black-eyed peas among others can be consumed for an incisive answer to the question of how to remove pitta from the body. Legumes to avoid: Soy meat, miso, urad dal, and soy sauce. These things have high salty content and can aggravate pitta dosha.
5) Dairy products that are part of a healthy pitta diet :
Unsalted butter, cow’s milk, cottage cheese, goat’s cheese, ghee, ice cream, yogurt and goat’s milk. Dairy products to avoid: Salted butter, buttermilk, frozen yogurt, sour cream, hard cheese, and fruit or preservative based yogurts.
6) Nuts & seeds that support pitta:
Most nuts and seeds are known to have high oil content in them and so are advised to be kept outside of the pitta diet chart. However, there are some nuts and seeds that can be consumed in moderation to tackle the issue of how to reduce pitta from the body in a healthy manner. Pitta diet friendly nuts & seeds include: almonds (soaked & peeled), flaxseeds, coconuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and popcorns (unsalted & plain) Nuts & seeds to avoid: Cashew nuts, almonds with skin, pine nuts, pecans, pistachios, tahini, walnuts, sesame seeds, chia seeds and peanuts
Thinking how to reduce pitta immediately when you are on a non-vegetarian diet? Read further.
Animal meat that is sweet in taste and dry, works best to combat the question of how to reduce pitta. The meats that you can consume in your diet include chicken, shrimp, rabbit, venison, fish (freshwater), eggs (white) and buffalo meat. Meats to avoid: Beef, egg yolk, duck, pork, salmon, seafood, sardines, lamb, fish (saltwater), tuna fish and turkey.
8) Oils that work best:
Coconut oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil, primrose oil, sunflower oil, soy oil, ghee and walnut oil. Oils to avoid : Almond oil, sesame oil, corn oil and apricot oil
Spices play a very integral role in our cooking. So, if you are wondering which spices to favor and which ones to avoid to deal with the question of how to reduce pitta. Spices to favor: Basil, black pepper, coriander, ginger, fennel, mint, orange peel, saffron, peppermint, cinnamon, dill, cardamom, parsley and vanilla. Spices to avoid: Bay leaf, garlic, mace, hing, nutmeg, mustard seeds, salt, sage, thyme, cloves, fenugreek, rosemary and mace.
Sweet food items are known to balance pitta in the body and so most of them support the system. But an appropriate balance is required to be maintained. Sweeteners to eat: Maple syrup, dates, barley syrup Sweeteners to avoid: Honey, jaggery, molasses, white sugar
Andrea Russell, my mentor and friend suggests the following tastes for the pitta season:
TASTES TO FAVOR
*SWEET: earth + water | builds tissues
grains, root vegetables, sweet fruits
*BITTER: ether + air | purifies blood
leafy greens, bitter gourd, broccoli, aloe
*ASTRINGENT: air + earth | constricts and reduces
pomegranate, persimmons, legumes, beans
TASTES TO MINIMIZE OR AVOID
*SOUR: earth + fire | moistens tissues
citrus, vinegar, fermented food, yeast
*SALTY: fire + water | supports digestion
seaweed, salt in excess
*PUNGENT: air + fire | kindles agni, cleansing
garlic, onions, chilli’s, mustard greens, mustard seeds
While you might be motivated to increase activity levels and improve your fitness in the summer
season, keep in mind that excessive activity is highly heating for the body. Hence, it’s better not to work out in the heat but rather exercise to 50–70 percent of your capacity in the early mornings or later evenings when the temperatures are cooler.
The heat of summer can often accelerate our mind and heat our bodies. It’s important to pay attention to these sensations and incorporate a slower, more focused practice into our daily yoga routine. When your blood and your mind are already boiling from the quickening pace of summer activities, try to avoid the following poses as they tend to increase your body’s internal heat.
Focus on poses that help to release excess heat from the body, including those that open the heart and the hips. Avoid bringing heat to the head. Cooling & calming: slow & fluid non-competitive poses. Poses such as Asanas that stretch and tone the abdominal muscles. Bending and twisting asanas to help pacify pitta. Twists, heart openers, forward folds and wide leg poses encourage spaciousness and opening which releases and detoxifies heated Pitta energy out the body.
- Standing: Side Bend, Twists, Trikonasana, Revolved Trikonasana, Tadasana (Heart Opener), Tree, Warrior II, Half Moon, Wide Legged FF,
- Back: Fish Pose, Bridge, Reclining Hero, Supine Spinal Twist, Supine Heart Opener, Savasana (Longer/Restorative), Legs up the Wall
- Belly: Cobra, Bow, Crocodile,
- Side Body: Trikonasana, Side Angle/Revolved Side Angle, Runner’s Lunge Twist,
- Table Top: CNC, CP, CP Flow, Puppy Pose,
- Seated: Half Seated Spinal Twist, Twists, Seated Forward Bend**, Easy Seated, Half Lord of the Fishes, Boat,
- Salutations: Chandra Namaskar ( Moon Salutation: benevolent, cooling, nourishing
Pranayamas or breathing exercises and meditation to promote relaxation. Cooling pranayama breathwork: Sheetali (cooling breath), Sheetkari (hissing breath), Chandra bhedana (left nostril breathing), Kapalabhati (skull shining breath), Kaki (Crow’s Breath)**
The Pitta mind responds well to a meditation centered around soothing sound, smells, and colors. You may wish to listen to calming sounds of water or light a scented candle with a fresh cooling scent.
We are blessed to have Deb teaching with us at Wishing Tree on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Thanks for sharing your blog with us, Deb!
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