Summertime: The Season of Pitta
In Ayurveda, the "sister science" of yoga, we speak of 3 primary Doshas, or biological "humors" that, when imbued with "prana" or lifeforce, create life. They are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. According to David Frawley, "Our biological existence is a dance of the three doshas..." All of us contain the 3 Doshas within us, although one or two may be primary. You can determine your Ayurvedic constitution by taking any number of online tests, although the most effective way is to see a licensed practitioner of Ayurveda. The Doshas or "humors" also exist in the natural world. The energy of Pitta is dominant in the summertime. Vata dominates Fall and the beginning of Winter. As Winter turns to Spring, Kapha becomes dominant. According to Ayurveda, your individual constitution, or "Prakriti" is determined at birth. Ayurveda views our bodies, minds and spirits as a microcosm for the universe as a whole. Just as the 5 elements of earth, water, fire, air and space make up the universe around us, they also comprise our "internal universe". Someone with a Pitta constitution is dominated by the element of fire, with water also present. The element of fire cannot exist in the body without water. Think about stomach acid that transforms our food into energy. Our stomach lining has special protection to allow this acid to be in the body without burning a hole through our stomach, but if the acid leaves the stomach, it can eat away at the esophageal lining. If you suffer from skin rashes, red eyes, diarrhea, acne, or acid reflux - you may be Pitta dominant. If you tend to be irritable, are quick to anger and highly competitive, this is also characteristic of Pitta nature. People with Pitta constitution tend to overheat pretty easily - especially in hot, humid weather - when both fire and water are present in the air. Summer is the Pitta season of the year. Fortunately, in the heat of summer, Mother Nature offers us release in the form of delicious, cooling fruits and vegetables, high in water content. Ayurveda operates under the principle of "like increases like" and uses opposites to treat imbalance. So, if you are Pitta and it's 90 degrees outside, and you go to a Hot yoga class where you "find your edge", you might be pushing yourself towards exhaustion. At least in the heat of summer, try holding back a little in your yoga practice. Practice forward folds, and twisting poses that help us to digest and release heat from the body. Take a Restorative yoga class. Practice self care with a coconut oil massage. Eat and drink cooling fruits and vegetables like cucumber salad with yogurt sauce, watermelon or coconut water. Try filling your water bottle with water and adding some cucumber slices, lime and mint to the water for a cool treat. Make sure you stay hydrated - drinking plenty of water if you are outside sweating. In the morning, it may be helpful to splash cool water in your eyes. If you get overheated throughout the day, try a cooling pranyama, such as sitkari breath. This is one of the few pranayams where we breathe in through the mouth. Allow your teeth to touch. Make sure you are not clenching your jaw! (Pittas tend to carry anger and tension here and can be subject to TMJ). Gently inhale through your teeth. Close your lips and exhale through your nose. Feel how inhaling this way, cools the breath as it enters your mouth. Another way to do this is to curl your tongue, extending it outside of your mouth, and breathe in through the tongue. However, not everyone is able to curl their tongue. Pittas tend to be "Type A" personalities, who like to Go, Go, Go!, but, especially in the heat of summer, it is important to find balance and take time to rest and recharge yourself. Take time to "Cool off". Namaste!