There’s a point in summer where the heat loses its magic and allure. That point usually comes early August for me, with signs of bloodshot eyes, red skin and a little less patience for the people around me. I often say yes to too much, and end up pretty burnt out by the end of September. To avoid the burn out, here are some essential tips to beat the heat and balance pitta through diet and lifestyle practices as you ride out the rest of summer.
In summertime, when the energy of fire (pitta) is at it’s highest, we select certain foods with cooling qualities to balance out the abundance of heat in our bodies from the surrounding environment. Favor fresh seasonal, ingredients that are sweet, bitter and astringent in flavor. As you stock your summer fridge/pantry, consider the following foods, herbs and spices:
|Vegetables||Fruits||Herbs & Spices|
|Coconut water; Fresh organic juices; Teas of mint, nettle, chamomile, lavender, hibiscus, rose, tulsi;
Infused waters with cucumber, lemon, lime, mint, basil
|Leafy greens like lettuce, arugula, radicchio, spinach, chard, watercress; Cucumber, Celery, Summer Squash, Peas, Asparagus, Broccoli, Cabbage||Stone fruit like cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots; Watermelon, Honeydew, Cantaloupe and other fresh melons; Apple, Berries, Pineapple
*Mango & Papaya in limited quantities
Fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, mint, parsley, tarragon, dill, fennel; Dried spices like cardamom, fennel, coriander, saffron
What to Avoid or Limit:
- Nightshades like tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, chili peppers
- Heavy use of garlic and onions
- Heating spices like dry ginger, black pepper, mustard, cayenne and chili powder
- Fermented foods, spicy foods, heavy animal proteins, molasses and coffee
- Reduce sour, salty, and pungent tastes
Avoid rigorous exercise in direct sunlight at peak times of the day (11-3pm), seek indoor or early morning/evening activities instead. Choose cooling yoga practice, avoid heated yoga classes in summer months. Forward bends support the intention to balance the season’s expansive energy by bringing some energy back into the body, and spinal twists help release excess fire and toxins. Cooling breathe work, like this gentle Sama Vritti breath, is recommended over intensive pranayama like bhastrika, kapalabhati, and strong uujayi that can be too heating in summertime.
Many cultures celebrate the art of the afternoon nap. In these hot summer days, seek refuge from the heat and take a conscious rest in the afternoon. Whether it’s a simple siesta or a guided yoga nidra, this will help greatly to reduce the stimulation that comes from too much activity this time of year!
A long oil massage before bed can help to bring balance and support to the nervous system when over-stimulated from long days and too much activity. Use a lighter oil like almond or coconut oil for summertime. If your eyes are red and irritated from extra sun exposure, soak cotton balls in rosewater and place them over the eyes for 5 minutes while you rest. Carry rosewater spray in your bag during the day and spritz when feeling overheated.
Let nature nurture you. Head outdoors for a camping trip or pitch a tent in your backyard to sleep under the stars and spend more time in the moonlight. The practice of lunar bathing actually has a cooling effect on the body and mind. Did I also mention sleeping in moonlight and away from artificial light helps to regulate your endocrine system and sync your cycles back up to the moon?