Summertime...the light-hearted season that makes you want to get up in the morning, go outside, run around and have some fun in the sun. But if you have a naturally hot and active constitution, like those with a Pitta dosha, you can easily get overheated, overworked and need some help getting back to your naturally balanced state.
Wait, what's a Pitta? No, it's not a fun shaped bread pocket you use for falafel, that's a pita (with one "t"). What's a dosha? It's also not a delicious type of bread, that's a dosa (Indian crepe, no "h"). Pitta dosha is used to describe a particular type of constitution in Ayurveda. What's Ayurveda?! Ayurveda is a holistic healing system that's been around for thousands of years and is called "The Science of Life". Within this system, there are patterns of energy made up of physical, mental and emotional combinations. These patterns of energy are naturally in balance, but internal and external factors (ie: emotional state, food, weather, physical trauma, work, family, relationships) can disrupt that balance and affect us based on our individual constitution.
The three basic types of energy, called doshas, are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, which each relate to two of five different elements, Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. These energies also relate to the energies of the seasons, Summer being Pitta (fire + water) season. The qualities of fire are hot, penetrating, sharp, and agitating. The qualities of Pitta are oily, sharp, penetrating, hot, light, mobile, and liquid. Notice any similarities? It is the energy of digestion, metabolism and transformation, creating warm bodies, penetrating ideas, and sharp intelligence when in balance. Pitta dominant people have strong constitutions and strong appetites. Summertime is heat time, and as we get to the height of the season, Pitta energy (in anyone) can accumulate and cause inflammation, agitation, insomnia, distractedness.
To counteract this accumulation, we can incorporate daily practices that soften and cool and tap into our heart energy. Roots & Space's Emilie Berger suggests, "Softening the heart and surrendering intentionally to a place of kindness, compassion and love is necessary for Pitta imbalanced individuals, but it can be challenging to move into that place, and you might notice resistance to slowing down, doing less or considering empathy and compassion towards yourself and others."
As with any holistic modality, we look at all areas of our lives to find balance. As Emilie suggests, bringing attention and awareness to our heart is a good place to start when looking to balance Pitta energy. We can incorporate this into a daily yoga practice with restorative heart openers in the morning and evening and bring our hands to our heart anytime throughout the day as a reminder to soften and slow down. The use of floral essential oils is another way to cool and relax that out of whack Pitta energy. Lavender, geranium, jasmine, ylang ylang are some top choices and a few drops can be added to a diffuser, on bath salts, or to a small spray water bottle to spritz yourself as needed. (to learn more about essential oils and Aromatherapy, check out our interview with Emilie in the blog post Beyond the Scent). In addition to floral essential oils, some dietary tips are also useful for cooling and balancing Pitta heat energy:
Rose or hibiscus herbal tea
Coconut oil for cooking
Seasonal, sweet, juicy fruits like peaches, plums, cherries, berries, and melons as morning and afternoon snacks (but don't mix them with other foods)
Go easy on the spicy, salty, sour and fried foods
(Check out The Holistic Initiative for some free seasonal Ayurvedic recipes)
Pitta dosha is naturally moving and productive and there is an intrinsic value to that energy. When we feel off kilter here, to explore the mental and emotional aspects of unbalanced Pitta energy, we might do some journaling to loosen any resistance and try out some affirmations, like "My productivity does not determine my worth", or "I deserve to speak kindly and act gently towards myself", or "I am worthy and deserving of rest". We can also seek out hugs and thoughtful touch with others and any other little details that remind us of the softness and take us back to the heart.
Embracing the energy of each season can help us stay connected and naturally in balance, contributing to sustainable well-being throughout the days, weeks, and months of each yearly cycle. Becoming aware of any imbalances as we move through these cycles and finding supportive ways to balance ourselves out is important to getting the most out of that natural seasonal energy. What are some ways you may be feeling the accumulation of the Summer Pitta energy as we move into the peak of the season? What are some practices you might incorporate to bring some balance to your daily life? As you go forth this week, you might take some time to reflect and bring awareness to your heart energy, letting it soothe any excess heat and bring you into a place of compassion and kindness towards yourself and others.
*A note of acknowledgement and gratitude to the contributions made by Emilie Berger for this post.