Summer comes as a joy, and the sunshine and warmer weather is a wonderful contrast to the cold, wet and windy climate we experience much of the year. However, this pleasing feeling can quickly fade when temperatures climb higher. You can start experiencing discomfort and feel drained, especially if you have a hot, Pitta body-type.
Those with a cold, dry Vata or cold, heavy Kapha body-types can usually tolerate a certain amount of heat without discomfort, but not Pitta-types. For them, hot weather can feel oppressive and exhausting, and their sleep can become disturbed.
The question comes – how can we all best enjoy hot weather?
Whatever the season or temperature levels, our comfort and joy depends on balance. During the summer season, we all have to balance Pitta.
Keep it cool
Water is a sublime and wonderful experience during hot weather, whether we drink it, swim in it, or enjoy walks beside streams, rivers, lakes, canals or the sea.
Our Pitta levels are balanced by water and also by beauty. Go out and look at the flowers. Appreciating the beauty of nature and purely enjoying yourself is how to keep Pitta balanced. And, when you’re chilled, you joy increases.
A cold pint of beer can feel very pleasant on a hot day, but be aware that beer is fermented, and fermented food and drinks add heat to our system.
Choose cooling (but not ice cold) foods and drinks that are not fermented. A summer-time diet should include plenty of salads, grains and fruit that balance Pitta.
How summer affects your body
During summer the heat within our digestive tract tends to move out to the skin and the resulting evaporation helps cool us down. This means that, during hot weather our digestive fire becomes weaker. So, avoid a lot of heavy meals at this time and eat lighter foods.
Ice cream is very tempting when it’s hot but don’t eat too much. Ice cream is cold, sweet, oily and heavy and not easy for a weakened digestion to cope with. You can be left feeling drained, sluggish and sleepy. Only a really strong Pitta digestion can handle ice cream well.
Use sunglasses to shade your eyes from excess sunlight. Your eyes are a major site of Pitta and they can be weakened when exposed to heat or sunlight. This is why it is never good to bathe your eyes in hot water.
Your skin is also a site of Pitta and so protect it and avoid exposing it to the intense midday sun.
The stomach and liver are both Pitta sites, so a light diet, with reduced quantities of meat, fat and dairy, helps keeps those organs balanced.
Avoid or keep alcohol, hot spices and caffeine drinks to a minimum during hot weather, as these can very quickly overheat your system.
The heart is also a major Pitta region. Fun and enjoyment of life is key to balancing that organ.
Watch out for the end of summer
Pitta tends to accumulate in the body during the summer and grows to its maximum at the end of the season. The result of this accumulated heat can be gout, ulcers, skin problems, anger and frustration.
Ayurveda recommends purgative treatments, such as Panchakarma, during early autumn to eliminate excess Pitta built up over the summer.
Qualities of Pitta to be balanced
Pitta has certain qualities or Gunas, such as hotness, sharpness and lightness and to maintain balance, these qualities should be reduced in our foods and activities.
Lifestyle habits to emphasise
As the nature of Pitta is hot, light and sharp, emotions such as impatience, ambition, aggression and anger tend to dominate. Over the summer, it is important to emphasise a balanced, calm and relaxing lifestyle to counter these qualities. Cultivate patience, friendliness, empathy and compassion.
Exercise can be helpful to discharge excess energy, but should be performed with a routine that promotes self-control, such as the martial arts or yoga.
Such activities should be balanced with enjoying social outings, listening to music, laughing and telling stories with friends. Time should be spent next to rivers and lakes, in flower gardens and other delightful places, and in the company of friends and family.
The home and workspace should be well-ventilated and cool, decorated with cooling colours and fresh cut flowers
An ancient Ayurvedic text called Asthanga Hridya has this to say for balancing Pitta: “Those of (increased) Pitta benefit from taking ghee, indulgence in perfumes which are pleasing, coolant and cordial, wearing garlands of similar nature in the neck and of gems on the chest, residing on terraces lit by moonlight in the evenings, enjoying pleasant music and soft cold breeze, company of friends who do not restrain him … residing in a house equipped with fountains emitting cooled water, parks and ponds, spending time (in houses) near water reservoirs having clean water, sand, lotus, flowers, and trees, with a calm mind; especially so are the ingestion of milk, ghee and purgation therapy.” (A.H. /su/ 13/ 04-09)
Over the summer season ensure that you don’t get overheated. Keep cool, keep chilled and have fun.