In Ayurveda summertime is associated with Pitta dosha and the element of fire and water (predominantly fire).
Signs of Pitta imbalance are:-
- Feeling overheated and irritable
- A tendency to get impatient or angry
- Red skin or eye conditions
- Burning indigestion (heartburn, diarrhoea)
- Inflammatory disorders (skin rashes, pimples, infections etc.
Balance in Ayurveda rests on the simple principle that like increases like and opposites decrease each other. Therefore if something is heating in nature one would take things that are cooling in nature to counteract the heat and bring back into balance.
Using the five sense therapies (taste, smell, sight, hearing, touch) and more, here are some ways you can stay cool and balanced during the summer months:
Taste / Food
Aim to include more foods in your diet of a cooling nature. Such as:-
- Leafy greens that are bitter, astringent in flavour, such as watercress, arugula (rocket), spinach, and kale
- Zucchini (courgettes)
- Beets (cooked)
- Melons (watermelon, cantaloupe)
- Fruits with stone inside are generally cooling in nature.
- For those that are not vegan, add milk, yoghurt, buttermilk in moderation.
- Spices such as:- coriander, mint, cumin, fennel, cardamom.
- Drink rose or mint tea, with warm or cool water.
In India a popular summer time drink is lemon water with a little pink or black Himalayan salt and pinch of sugar to rehydrate and balance electrolytes. You can also add a pinch of toasted crushed cumin seeds for extra cooling if you like the taste.
Make the most of the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables available at this time of year and enjoy juices – drink them cool, not chilled. Summer time juices which help reduce Pitta are:-
- Cucumber and mint
Fresh coconut water is also perfect natural re-hydration (also helping to balance electrolytes) and cooling in summer.
In India we also drink lassi and buttermilk with a little added cumin and salt as a cooling (non vegan) drink that also helps with digestion and is a natural probiotic.
Furthermore, adding ghee (in moderate quantity) to your diet, especially during the summer months is also beneficial to health and is cooling in nature. Ghee forms an integral part of the Indian diet and as per Ayurveda is considered a “rasayana” or rejuvenator. Ghee contains omega 3 fatty acids as well as vitamins C and A. It is sweet in taste and cooling in nature. It helps to nourish the tissues of the body, maintain healthy moisture levels within and also beneficial for the skin and hair. It is a great home remedy to help reduce pitta and body heat.
Consuming ghee on an empty stomach improves digestion and controls pitta dosha. Try taking a spoonful in the morning or added to your breakfast. It has powerful antifungal and antiviral properties, which helps avoid illness. According to Ayurveda, ghee is one of the best foods to help improve digestion and aid the absorption of nutrients.
A vegan alternative to this would be coconut oil, however please note that it does not contain the same nutrients.
Avoid foods which have heating qualities and therefore aggravate Pitta dosha such as:-
- Fried foods
- Overly spicy food
- Overly salty
- Meat & non vegetarian products
- Heating spices such as:- black pepper, cloves, red chilies, ginger, turmeric
- Caffeinated drinks
- Processed and canned foods
Smell / Aromatherapy
A vase of freshly cut seasonal flowers in the house create a sattvic energy and naturally help reduce Pitta dosha.
Aromatherapy /essential oils such as vetiver, rose, lavender, peppermint, sandalwood and eucalyptus are soothing and cooling in nature and help to balance excess pitta.
One can use an aromatherapy diffuser to safely use and get the benefits of these oils in the home – whilst also cleansing, purifying and uplifting the environment energetically as well as physically.
A few drops of your choice can also be added to a coconut oil carrier oil for a cooling body moisturiser or massage oil or try adding to some Epsom salts in a tepid bath for extra cooling and water therapy!
Surrounding oneself with colours of a cooling and soothing nature such as blues, greens, whites, lavender and pastel shades. Opt for these colours in the clothes you wear, bedsheets and linens around the home.
In addition to this, walks in nature in the coolness and shade of the forest, sitting by water such as by lakes, ocean, river calms and cools the senses.
Taking an evening stroll in the cooler air of night. Sitting and bathing in the moonlight also has a cooling effect.
Listening to calming frequency music, harp and flute music pacifies Pitta dosha and has an overall calming and balancing effect.
OM chanting – to find out more click HERE
Chanting other Beej (seed) mantras (that is sounds of one syllable) such as Shreem / Shrim. Shrim is a mantra relating to Lakshmi the Goddess of Beauty and Divine grace. Yet this mantra works on a deeper level and is known as a “soma” or nectar mantra, connected with lunar energy. It is soothing, calming and cooling in nature and hence beneficial for balancing Pitta dosha.
Listening to the sounds of water and connecting with element of water through sound and visualisation is also highly beneficial and healing on many levels.
Opt for natural (organic where possible) clothing on the skin, such as cottons, silks, linen, hemp and bamboo. This will reduce irritation, and help to keep feeling cool and comfortable.
When practicing Abhenga – a healing and balancing self-massage technique – use cooling oils during the summer months such as coconut oil. (For a free advice/information sheet on abhenga massage just send me a message!)
Skincare during the summer months:-
Using coconut oil on the skin is a great moisturiser and also has a cooling effect. For a touch of extra luxury and sense therapy add a few drops of your choice of cooling essential oils (as outlined above).
Aloe vera gel, is well known for its cooling properties and can be used as a non greasy moisturiser on the face and body as well as an after-sun care to help cool, hydrate and soothe sun kissed skin.
Rose also has excellent hydrating and cooling properties. I love to keep a spray bottle of pure natural rose water in my hand bag during the summer to spritz and freshen up whenever I feel the need. Keep it in the fridge at home for extra cooling on super hot days! Rose water also makes for an excellent natural face toner and has many healing benefits for the skin.