Summertime is Pitta time

Summer in the south is the time of heat and fire. It is dominated by the PITTA dosha (body constitution) and therefore aggravates pitta while pacifying kapha. In a hot and dry climate, vata can also increase during summer; a humid environment is more suitable for vata types. The pitta of summer reduces near the end of autumn when kapha increases.

In the body, pitta governs the digestive fire, liver, eyes, heart and skin. It also plays a vital role in our creative process and how we perceive the world visually, mentally and emotionally. Thus pitta determines how we biggest both the physical nutrients of food as well as the nuances of our life experiences.

During the summer, the inner fire manifests externally as people celebrate life and play joyously outside. However, it is also when inflammatory conditions arise and one must take care not to overexert, overheat or dehydrate. Summer illnesses include heat stroke, hay fever, prickly heat, dehydration headaches and nausea, and dry, itchy, sunburned skin. Digestive troubles such as acidity, heartburn and ulcers may occur more frequently.

Summer is also a time when many people excessively “party” by drinking alcohol and overeating, This indiscriminate behavior and misuse of the senses can lead to disease. Because the potential for excessive revelry is stronger in the summer, it is the best season to practice the principles of viveka and vairagya. Viveka means “mindful discrimination” or “awareness.” Vairagya means “dispassion” or “nonattachment.” Excercising viveka and vairagya does not mean losing love for life; it simply means avoiding the things that do not serve a higher purpose in life. Cultivating these qualities gives us the freedom to live with awareness in the present moment, where the true celebration of life takes place.

Summer Seasonal Routine

–       Follow a pitta-pacifying diet (listed below). Avoid food with pungent, sour and salty tastes. Eat sweet, bitter, astringent, cooling and easily digestible foods. Eat light foods such as dark leafy green vegetables, basmati rice and mung beans. Raw foods such as salads, fruits and berries are ideal. Raw seaweed salads make an excellent summer meal. Raw vegetable juices can be taken abundantly. Fruit smoothies or vegetable juices make great summer breakfasts.

–       Make sure to drink sufficient amounts to avoid dehydration. Fresh coconut water and fruit juices are very beneficial, especially aloe vera, grape, papaya, watermelon, sweet pineapple juice and other sweet cooling beverages. Cooling herbal teas like peppermint or fennel are suitable.

–       Brush the teeth cooling, herbal tooth powders or pastes such as neem, peppermint and wintergreen.

–       Massage with coconut oil during the summer.

–       Walk barefoot on the earth.

–       Swim in natural bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, oceans and waterfalls.

–       Yoga asanas should be performed in a cool area out of the direct sunlight. Practice should be gentle with lots of standing asanas and spinal twists. Surya namaskar can be performed slowly and gently. Inversions increase heat and should be minimized.

–       Use sweet, cooling and calming essential oils like jasmine, lotus, rose, sandalwood, and blue chamomile.

–       Wash and spray the face frequently with rose water.

–       Cooling herbal supplements for the summertime are Whole Leaf Aloe and Amalaki.

–       Shitali (cooling) pranayama can be performed regularly throughout the summer.

Pitta Balancing Diet

Pitta season is hot and dry, usually lasting from July through October. Again, this will vary depending on location. During this time, favor foods and drinks that are cooling. Eat foods of sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. Include fresh,  sweet fruits and vegetables that grow during the pitta season. Eat fewer pungent, sour and salty foods. Avoid yogurt, cheese, tomatoes, vinegars and hot spices, as they all greatly increase pitta.

To balance pitta, favor foods that are oily, heavy, cold, bitter, sweet and astringent:


–       Herbal teas: alfalfa, bancha, barley, blackberry, borage, burdock, catnip, chamomile, chicory, comfrey, dandelion, fennel, ginger (fresh), hibiscus, hops, jasmine, kukicha, lavender, lemon balm, lemongrass, licorice, marshmallow, nettle, oat straw, passion flower, peppermint, raspberry, red clover, sarsaparilla, spearmint, strawberry, violet, wintergreen, yarrow

–       Juices: aloe vera juice, apple, apricot, berry, cherry, grape, mango, mixed vegetable, peach, pear, pomegranate, prune

–       Other: almond milk in moderation, grain beverages, rice milk

–       Condiments: chutney, cilantro, sprouts

–       Dairy: butter (unsalted), cow or goat cheese (soft, unsalted), ghee, whole cow and goat milk (avoid homogenized), lassi

–     Supplements: aloe vera juice, blue-green algae, barley greens, brewer’s yeast, calcium, magnesium, zinc, spirulina, vitamins D, E and EFAs (essential fatty acids found in cold pressed oils from hemp seed, evening primrose, black currant seed, fax seed, borage), whey protein powder as a protein supplement (isolate only, not concentrates or hydrolyzed as the protein has been denatured)

–       Fruits (ripe and sweet): apples, applesauce, apricots, avocado, berries (sweet), cherries, coconut, dates, figs, grapes (red and purple), mango, melon, oranges, papayas, pear, pineapple, plums, pomegranate, prunes, raisins, watermelon

–       Grains: whole amaranth and barley, cereals (dry), oat bran, oats, whole grain pasta, spelt, sprouted wheat bread (Essene style), tapioca, white basmati rice

–       Legumes: adzuki beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), kidney beans, lentils (brown and red), lima beans, mung beans, mung dal, navy beans, peas (dried), pinto beans, split peas, white beans. NOTE: all legumes should be well-cooked.

–       Nuts: almonds (soaked and peeled), coconut

–       Oils: coconut oil, ghee, olive oil

–       Seeds: flax, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower

–       Spices: basil (fresh), black pepper (in moderation), fresh ginger (in moderation), cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, mint, peppermint, spearmint, saffron, turmeric, rock salt

–       Sweeteners: agave, barley malt, fruit juice, honey, maple syrup, rice syrup, stevia, raw sugar or sucanat, rock crystal sugar

–       Vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, beets, bitter melon, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cilantro, cucumber, dandelion greens, fennel, green beans, kale, dark leafy greens, leeks, okra olives (black), onion (cooked), parsley, parsnip, peas, sweet potatoes, prickly pear leaves, pumpkin, rutabaga, spaghetti squash, sprouts, squash (winter and summer), taro root, wheat grass sprouts, zucchini

To balance pitta, reduce foods that are dry, light, warm, salty, spicy and sour…including:

–       Dairy: Reduce intake of sour fruits such as olives, sour oranges and unripe pineapples, persimmons and bananas

–       Grains: Reduce intake of brown rice, corn, millet and rye

–       Oils: Reduce the use of almond, corn and sesame oils

–       Spices: Avoid chili and cayenne

–       Sweeteners: Avoid large quantities of honey

This information is directly from Health and Consciousness through Ayurveda and Yoga by Dr. Nibodhi Haas