HOW TO STAY COOL
Discover how to cool down and balance your inner fire (Pitta) this summer, and wave goodbye to inflammation and irritability. Learn the secrets of living harmony with the seasons with breathing techniques, meditation, mindful, eating, decor recommendations and more.
How to find balance and step into summer feeling in-lightened and in the flow
Summer is all about fun and freedom, but if you’re not feeling like yourself, summer can be a drag. Are you feeling short-fused or irritable? It could mean your constitution is out of balance.
Integrating our bodies into the season is critical to enjoying all the summer fun. When you’re living in the cycle of Earth’s rhythms, the body is naturally less stressed because you're going with the flow rather than trying to swim upstream.
The summer solstice is a time of growth and bounty, and if you allow yourself to unify with the weather patterns, you’ll feel mentally and physically healthier.
Read more to learn how noticing your habits and patterns can help you balance your constitution this summer.
Table of Contents
- Flowing with the summer solstice
- Your body in harmony with Earth’s cycles
- Signs you’re out of balance
- Balance your Pitta this summer
The solstice is the first official day of summer and is signified by the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, and is December 22nd in the southern hemisphere. It makes a major shift in the daylight hours as they begin to lessen until we reach the longest night, known as the winter solstice.
Because the summer solstice is often aligned with crop cycles, people have celebrated the solstice for centuries in hopes of a bountiful harvest in the fall. Around the world, different cultures have honored the changing season with rituals and festivals.
The sun’s path determines the change of seasons. The amount of the moon visible in the night sky and the rise and fall of the tides worldwide show the monthly cycles. The sun and moon make up the harmony of our days and nights.
It is a time to remember that, like the Earth, our lives ebb and flow in cycles. This means it’s the perfect time to listen to Earth’s rhythms and discover how they intertwine with our health.
Your body in harmony with Earth’s cycles
In Ayurveda, the constitution refers to your body's balance of the three doshas, the three energies that determine the body’s elemental makeup.
Your constitution plays a role in what you eat, the activities that benefit you the most, and how you interact with the world around you. They constitutions are Vata (air + ether), Pitta (fire + water), and Kapha (earth + water). During the summer in the northern hemisphere, Pitta is the most predominant dosha in the natural environment.
When living with circadian rhythms, your constitution is more likely to be in harmony with the environment, which reduces the stress load on the body, automatically making you feel better.
Doshas & Gunas
Each season, living thing, age, time of day, and the five tastes fit into one of the three doshas.
Pungent, sour, and salty flavors increase Pitta. Bitter, astringent, and sweet flavors reduce pitta.
Pitta is the dosha of summer and the solstice. It has the properties (gunas) of being hot, light, sharp, oily, and spreading (like a fire).
Ayurveda, also called the science of life, has further detailed these patterns into what are known as gunas, or pairs of opposites.
Signs you’re out of balance
When someone accumulates too much of a guna or dosha, they should take action to find balance.
For example, hearty beef stew is warming, and salads are cooling. Summer is hot, and winter is cold. Therefore it makes more sense for a person living in harmony with nature to eat more salads in the summer and stew in the winter, each made with seasonal ingredients.
Middle-aged is the predominant pitta time of life. High noon is the most pitta time of day, and summer is the most pitta time of year. Each person has a unique constitution, but these descriptors help us to decipher patterns. Physical and emotional symptoms can indicate your PItta is out of balance.
If you have too much Pitta in your body, you may experience the following:
- flushed cheeks
- yellow/red on the nails, eyes, or skin
- a bright red tongue that may have no coating or yellow coating
- inflammation or joint pain
- excessive sweating
You may also experience digestive symptoms like:
- constipation or diarrhea
- foul-smelling gas, body odor, or breath
Or these emotional symptoms:
- temper flares
- a sharp tongue, feeling critical
- an overly competitive nature
- burn out
Balance your Pitta this summer
Our habits, lifestyles, and what we consume will impact the gunas. Summer is a time to take it easy and cool off, even though it’s the easiest time to overdo it.
Dinacharya - Daily Ritual
Committing to daily rituals will create harmony and allow your body to flow with the daily cycles.
To start your day, wake up before sunrise and empty the bowels. Then brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, and then drink lukewarm water before consuming anything else.
Pick materials like cotton or linens when choosing what to wear. Also, choose lighter tones of white, blue, green, or other pale shades. An example of a seasonally inappropriate outfit would be a three-piece red wool suit with knee socks and boots.
Choose appropriate foods for each meal, taking the last of them at least 3 hours before bedtime.
Pitta is strongest from 10:00 to 2:00 in both the AM and PM. You may encounter a second wind when staying up past 10 PM. People who are Pitta tend to burn the candle at both ends.
Also, Try to make time for a relaxing activity before bedtime to help transition from the day's action to rest.
Your skin is the largest organ in the body and protects us from the elements. The body digests anything we put on the skin. Look for cooling ingredients to moisturize your skin. Try coconut oil, coconut milk, rose, lavender, and sandalwood.
Reducing the number of ingredients in skin products, especially chemicals, reduces stressors on the body because it decreases the number of things the body needs to metabolize. Eliminating chemical ingredients also lowers the amount of heat your skin requires and creates while absorbing the product.
People with a Pitta constitution, Pittas, have livers that are more sensitive to chemicals than the other two doshas. If you’re PItta, you might even be extra sensitive to smells.
The best way to use a body oil is to allow the oil to soak in the skin for 10-20 minutes before showering. This will allow it to penetrate the skin's layers more deeply. However, applying oil anytime is better than not at all.
Making space for self-care and skincare is an effective way to calm the body and mind.
Pranayama Techniques- Breathing
Specific pranayama, or breathing techniques, can aid in cooling the body and mind.
The left side of the body, including the left nostril, is associated with soothing the nervous system. To help calm your nervous system, close the right nostril with one hand and take a few rounds of breath through only the left nostril.
Sheetali, or the cooling breath, is extremely useful in cooling us down. You can practice this by curling your tongue and breathing in through it. If you can’t curl the tongue, simply act as if you're slowly inhaling through a straw. Then exhale out your nose. Think about dogs. They do not sweat and instead rely on the veins in their mouths to cool them off. Sheetali is doing the same thing.
Try practicing these breathing techniques first thing in the morning to set the stage for the day. If you find yourself getting irritable or overheated, do a few rounds right then. You can also use this technique when you’re in the midst of a hot flash. Practicing this type of pranayama would also be a great option before bed or even on your lunch break, which is the most pitta time of day.
Breathing is a fast-acting solution that only takes a few minutes and can be done virtually anywhere.
Unlike Kaphas, who are slow n steady, or Vatas, who can be all over the place. Pittas are the most type-A of all three constitutions. They feel like they always need to be on the go or doing something.
Meditating can help you be more productive without aggravation because it puts your brain in the alpha state. Thus helping you to achieve more, without burnout.
For help meditating, try the ‘Into the Flow’ meditation by Fletcher Johnson, MS, from Elevate Your Health. It will help you find ease, creative inspiration, and the ultimate state of mind for problem-solving.
For additional meditations or breathing techniques, check out Fletcher’s profile on Insight Timer.
The saying you are what you eat is a cliche because it’s true. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to what and how we eat during times of Pitta.
Since Pittas always want to do more, having parameters around meals can be extremely beneficial.
Top ways for a Pitta to eat mindfully:
- Let consumption be your only task when eating your meal or snack.
- Sit down and cease ALL your other activities
- Chew your food consciously and try not to woof it down or rush to get to the next thing on your list.
- Take a breath upon completion of your meal before getting up from the table to signal to the body that this task is complete.
The longer something is cooked (think crock pot), the more warming it becomes. Therefore summer is the best time of year to eat fruits and other raw foods that are “cooked” by the sun.
Start by paying attention to what you are currently eating. Coffee has hot properties and can be irritating, even when served iced. Summer is a great time to switch to teas like mint, hibiscus, or chamomile.
Have you ever heard the saying “cool as a cucumber?” It is because cucumbers have cool properties. Try putting some in your water or eating them as a snack or on a salad. You can even place a slice on your eyes to reduce irritation.
To make cucumbers easier to digest, try peeling them and removing the seeds, especially if you usually burp after eating them. Try making tzatziki, it is the ultimate summer condiment.
However, eat fruit alone and don’t combine them with other foods. Mixing them with other foods can cause fermentation in the gut. This can lead to bloating and/or diarrhea. If you are already suffering from these issues, then try this simple remedy of eating fruit at least 30 mins before a meal and not with it.
If you must indulge in sweets, this is the most suitable time of year for ice cream (winter is the worst).
Summer is a time of socialization and celebration, often leading to overeating, irregular meal times, and some strange food combinations.
One way to give your digestive system a break is by eating kitchari, a one-pot meal that is easy for the body to digest. It generally consists of rice, a legume, and spices.
Elevate offers a kitchari for every season and constitution. The best one for summer is Soothing Kitchari. It contains mung dal, basmati rice, quinoa, Himalayan salt, coriander, fennel, ginger, curry leaf, turmeric, peppermint, cumin, rosemary, and rose petals.
The most balancing foods for Pitta in the summer are pears, cranberry, pomegranate, bananas, berries, melon, bitter greens, sweet potato, oats, barley, coconut, and beans.
When feeling hot and irritated reducing alcohol, coffee, garlic, onions, chilis, nicotine, vinegars, ferments, and heavily spiced foods will be helpful. Also, foregoing foods that are primarily sour, pungent, or salty. In Ayurveda, foods like a increases and opposites balance it. This is why bitter, astringent, and sweet tastes (cooling) are most appropriate this time of year. Example: garlic is pungent and hot, a cucumber is bitter and cooling.
Though this does not need to be an all-or-nothing diet, it is something to be aware of when you’re making your shopping list or going out to eat. Ask yourself what choices are the best for you in that moment. If you want to have a cocktail, opt for the mojito rather than a mulled wine.
Eating seasonal, locally grown foods will give your body the probiotics most appropriate for our internal environments. Browse local farmer’s markets for the best selection of perfect summer foods.
Even though summer is a hot time of year, there are ways to keep balanced and cool.
Paying attention to your patterns and physical and emotional well-being will help you identify when you are out of balance and have too much or too little PItta.
Develop rituals and routines to connect and harmonize with the daily rhythms.
Take care of your skin and practice cooling breathing techniques and meditation to help ensure you are in step with the Earth.
Practice mindful eating by paying attention to how and what you eat. Consume seasonal, whole foods. It’s even better if the food is sourced locally and grown organically.
Following these steps and visiting Elevate Your Health can help you live with Earth’s flow, find peace of mind, and have the coolest summer yet.