Pitta is comprised of the elements fire and water. The fire will burn high during the summer. In Ayurveda, we use the tenant that "like attracts like." The heat outside brings more internal heat.
How Pitta is Irritated
A primary way to aggravate Pitta is to elevate its associated qualities. Here are some of the qualities (gunas) associated with Pitta dosha:
Sharp - Pitta people are very intellectual. They love to keep their brain stimulated and flood it with information. Their appetites are also very voracious.
Oily - this shows up as acne, oily skin and hair. Pitta dominant people don’t assimilate oily foods that well. This, in turn, can create physical problems with their gallbladder and liver.
Liquid - Pittas sweat a lot and get very thirsty. They can also have a lot of stomach acidity.
Light - Bright sunlight and lights are what Pittas aim to avoid, given their intolerance to light. PIttas are also prone to migraines. The hot sun can create sunburn, freckles, moles, and at worst, melanoma.
Causes of Pitta Imbalance in the Summer
What causes Pitta to flare in the summer months? The reasons can be attributable to both internal and external factors.
Emotional factors include heated mental states, such as anger and rage. Frustration, envy, and jealousy will also fire up Pitta.
The outside environment can also cause Pitta to rise, especially the hotter it gets. Other ways in which Pitta may get imbalanced is via poor dietary and lifestyle choices. (Learn more in Ayurveda's Top 5 Medicinal Plants for Restoring Balance to the Body.)
How to Cool off Pitta During the Summer
Here are some practical tips for cooling off Pitta during the hot summer months:
- Favor cooling, lighter foods, like lentils, rice, quinoa, couscous, and oats.
- Eat green, leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, kale, cabbage, cilantro, and dandelion greens.
- Go for the sweet and bitter tastes. Have sweet fruit like apples, mangoes, melons, grapes, pears, and plums.
- Avoid pungent foods, such as onions, garlic, and chilies.
- Don’t have sour fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit, cranberries, and lemons.
- Keep away from nuts.
- Avoid vinegar, alcohol, and fermented foods.
Cool Your Competitive Spirit
Pitta people enjoy being in charge. They are always trying to win at whatever they do and be the best. Success is a primary goal for them.
Yet, their fiercely competitive nature just aggravates the Pitta situated in the brain.
Don’t feel that you need to be number one at everything, win the prize, or capture the spotlight. Know that other opportunities will present themselves. Sometimes you can win merely by not being at the top.
Try Oil Massages
Do an oil massage (abhyanga) before a shower. Keep your skin cool by applying body oils that will cool your system. Coconut oil and sunflower oil are ideal for people with high Pitta.
Don’t Exert Yourself During Mid-day
Pitta generally gets most imbalanced from 10 AM to 2 PM. These hours are known as Pitta time. Ideally try to stay indoors during that time. Avoid driving long distances in a car where you will be exposed to the hot rays of the sun. Don’t do a heated or strenuous yoga practice at the time. Restorative yoga would be great to do. (Learn more in Restorative Yoga: What to Expect On and Off the Mat.)
It’s best not to play tennis, soccer, basketball or other competitive sports at this time either. If you have to be outside for an extended period during these hours, make sure that you wear sunglasses and a hat, so your head does not get overheated.
Calm Your Mind
Pittas are so focused on thinking, reasoning, inquiring, criticizing, judging, evaluating, and comparing that they don’t let their mind rest for a moment. Even their dreams are active and goal oriented.
The mind needs time to rest so that it can assimilate all the day’s activities and keep the mind sharp for the next encounter.
Practice a form of gentle mediation to start the day. This can be a mantra meditation. Alternately, you can meditate on a quality, such as peace, harmony, or love.
Outside of Summer
Keep in mind that while summer is technically “Pitta season”, this can certainly extend to before or after the typical times of June / July / August. Given global warming and recent aberrations in our weather patterns, we’ve seen warmer periods extending into the fall as well as the rainy season going into the summer. (Learn more in Swap Sunbathing for Moonbathing This Summer to Cool Your Fiery Pitta Dosha.)
If you’re uncertain which of your doshas are currently high, you can take a free quiz online. It will inform you which dosha needs the most attention at this time, as well as give you some helpful guidelines to follow. For a more comprehensive plan on how to balance Pitta or the other doshas, please consult an Ayurvedic specialist.