Managing Pitta During It’s Peak Seasons

Is your skin red and hot? Are you constantly craving salty and sour foods? Are you feeling especially irritable, angry, and impatient? If so, you could very well have a Pitta imbalance.

In Ayurveda it is determined that our bodies are governed by three physical humors, each with specific locations in the body, specific seasons for accumulating and aggravating and times of the day when each is at its peak.

Everyone is a combination of all three doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha –but there are one or two that are going to be dominant in every person. The goal for optimum health is to maintain that inherent balance. Ayurveda is very precise in its understanding of the disease process and how qualities of certain doshas accumulate in one season and aggravate in another. Any increase in your doshas will create an imbalance which will create illness i.e. skin conditions or digestive upset just to name a few.

It is also important to understand the difference between your Prakriti and Vikruti. Your Prakriti is your inherent dosha(s) formed from the elements (and state of mind) of your parents during conception. This is unchanging. Your Vikruti however is always changing depending on season, diet and lifestyle habits and relates to your current dosha imbalance. This is why when you take those online dosha quizzes the answers are always changing.

LET’S TALK PITTA

When it comes to reducing Pitta, it is important to start taking action in the late spring when Pitta begins accumulating in the body. Because our well-being is directly related to what is happening in nature, I suggest observing nature’s qualities at any given time and the similarities that may be accumulating in your body. So, when winter is wet and cold are your bowels loose? Are you mucous-y, swollen and cystic or feeling dry and cold?

In the summer the elements are hot, light and dry (or humid depending where you live) and your agni (digestive fire) is displaced, drawing heat away from the gut to the surface of the skin. Hello red and inflamed skin. A dietary solution would be cooling foods with bitter, sweet (see more below) and astringent tastes while limiting pungent, sour and salty ones that already work against Pitta.

Pitta is represented by a transformative fire that is located in our small intestine and converts the food we eat into both waste, which the body eliminates via sweat, urine or faeces and nutrients that nourish our body.

Pitta is also responsible for transformation of thoughts. When Pitta is in balance, thoughts are quick and focused. Pitta is precise, competitive and ambitious but Pitta off-balance is impatient, irritable, critical, judgmental, angry and hateful.

When this transformation is compromised (i.e. Pitta is out of balance), our food and our thoughts are not properly digested. This residual metabolic toxic waste in Ayurveda is referred to as Ama and it will linger, build up and cause disease of the body and mind if not cleared.

SYMPTOMS OF A POSSIBLE PITTA IMBALANCE

  • Acid reflux, ulcers, diarrhea and/or hemorrhoids.
  • Conditions of the liver and blood.
  • Hives and/or other red (and burning) patches of skin. Red palms.
  • Rosacea, acne and other skin conditions showing redness i.e. heat.
  • Canker sores, cold sores and bleeding gums.
  • Red, burning and/or sensitive eyes.
  • Excessive sweat

SOME SEASONAL ROUTINES TO BALANCE YOUR PITTA:

  • Cleanse the face and moisturize the body with coconut oil to clear excess heat from the skin. Also use coconut oil in your cooking.
  • Oil pull with coconut oil to cool the mouth and soothe bleeding gums
  • Soak feet in cool peppermint or rose water.
  • Incorporate Sitali Pranayama before your yoga practice – Curl your tongue and draw air in and then exhale through the nose. Repeat a few times.
  • Because Pitta can easily accumulate in the digestive system try some “twisty” and “stretch-y” poses to help move buildup out… Cobra, fish, twist and camel and triangle asanas are perfect. If you are already Pitta dominant (can you tell by some of what we described?) avoid inverted poses that bring heat to the head region.
  • Include eye exercises to relax the eyes and removing stagnant heat. Also, wear protective glasses and take little breaks when on the computer for extended periods of time.
  • Eat your largest meal at noon when Pitta fire is at its strongest.
  • Consume more bitter, sweet (see more below) and astringent tastes.
  • If already taking Triphala to flush bowels, try replacing it with amalaki (amla) during these few months.
  • If you are feeling critical, angry and irritable try holding some cool peppermint water in your mouth for a good ten seconds or longer. Do this often throughout the day depending on your moods.
  • Spritz cooling hydrosols like peppermint and rose on the face and body .
  • After an especially hot day massage the feet with coconut and rose oils to move pitta outward
  • Get to bed by 11pm before Pitta peaks at midnight.
  • Avoid hot showers, steam rooms and saunas during this season.
  • Take cooler showers, wash your face with cool water and sip on herbal teas that were infused overnight in room temperature water.

Cold foods are cold because of the physical transformative effect they have on the body , not on the external temperature of a food. Cold drinks, raw cold salads, raw juices and ice cream are not balanced sheeta (cold) veerya foods.

SOME EXAMPLES OF SHEETA VEERYA FOODS:

Cilantro
Mints
Coriander seed
Cucumber
Watercress
Lettuce
Cardamom
Watercress
Hibiscus
Parsley
Fennel
Licorice
Rose
Coconut oil

Madhura or Sweet foods have to do with the food’s natural inherent composition and taste, not sugar content. Sweet Rasa foods are strengthening, nutritive and calming to the nerves. Madhura rasa ultimately enhances and strengthens the immune system

SOME SWEET FOODS:

Sweet Potato
Almonds
Milk
Ghee
Ginger
Basil
Dates
Blueberries
Bananas
Prunes
Beets
Carrots
Spinach
Rice
Wheat
Corn
Natural Sweeteners

Astringent or Kashya rasa foods are essential for slowing down the flow that is naturally inherent with fire and heat. These foods constrict, are mildly drying and have a cooling effect on the body.

SOME KASHYA FOODS:

Mung Beans and Lentils (Keep beans to a healthy minimum as too many will aggravate Vata)
Squashes
Pomegranate
Millet and Amaranth
Raisins

DO YOUR BEST TO LIMIT THE FOLLOWING:

  • Red meat, pork and fish. The latter especially if you have a chronic skin condition.
  • Raw foods for dinner which can aggravate Vata dosha and create more dryness in the body.
  • Hot spicy foods i.e. chilis, garlic and onions. These will create too much heat in the body that can manifest in some of the symptoms noted earlier. When you do eat spicy foods, do your best to balance them with some of the Sheeta veerya and Bitter, Sweet and astringent tastes mentioned.
  • Nightshades like bell peppers, onions, eggplants, white potatoes and tomatoes.
  • Sour rasa food/drink like lemon (use lime instead), pickled and fermented foods, alcohol (sour rasa) and sour fruits.
  • Eggs,  Sesame oil, garlic and onions (try leeks, chives or scallions instead)
  • Dry foods i.e. pretzels, chips, crackers

There’s always so much more to learn and know about your doshas but for most f us, this is a perfect introduction. If you want to learn more about how to keep them in balance, book an Ayurvedic Wellness Consult today.

To learn more about your doshas, their peak seasons and how to keep them in balance using foods, specific routines and lifestyle practices, RSVP for our Dosha Balancing Series. xo

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