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The three doshas are naturally dynamic, which means that they constantly respond to changes in your life. The biggest changes occur seasonally, and summer is the season when Pitta dosha is strongly affected, because heat and humidity are two qualities that summer shares with Pitta, which is warm and moist. Summer heat can easily aggravate Pitta, so you want to pay special attention during this season.
To keep Pitta from being aggravated, a few simple key words should be kept in mind. Healing words for Pitta dosha are Cool, Dry, Bitter, Sweet, and Moderate.
This includes keeping cool during the day, not overheating or taking in too much sun. Any inflammation such as sunburn or heat indicates that Pitta has gone far out of balance. Cool drinks are indicated throughout the day, and a cool room temperature. Emotionally you need to keep cool, which means avoiding situations that spark anger and irritability, two signs of Pitta out of balance.
Heat and humidity affect Pitta adversely, more so than with either Vata or Kapha dosha. A moderate summer climate that is also dry is beneficial. On a daily basis avoid breaking out into a heavy sweat—if you exercise outdoors, choose to jog or run in the cool of the morning and evening. Avoid wet, heavy, spicy foods.
Basic tastes affect each dosha differently. Pitta increases with fatty, heavy, spicy foods. The two most beneficial tastes to pacify Pitta are sweet and bitter, the two tastes are combined in tonic water, for example, which is very effective in reducing Pitta. Alcohol, which is not recommended anyway, increases Pitta, as indicated by the flushed skin that results from drinking.
Pitta is associated with a forceful personality that is energetic, ambitious, and full of plans for how to achieve things. But this natural tendency, when driven too far, depletes Pitta energy. Over-exertion should be avoided even when you feel you can push yourself further. Emotionally Pitta provides a spark that turns to fiery anger and resentment when out of balance. Seeking a happy medium in all things is the ideal.
These simple indications are good for everyone but apply especially to Pitta types. If you are a Pitta type or have a strong influence of Pitta in your makeup, a range of qualities will apply to your body type. Your physical build is likely to be medium, and so will your energy level. But Pitta types are active and energetic by nature, and summer, being the sensitive season for Pitta types, can bring a sudden bout of exhaustion as a result of thinking that your energy is limitless.
As Pitta types grow older, the lessons of moderation are often hard to learn. Believing, for example, that they can eat anything, Pittas need to pull back on food consumption once past the early twenties. Pitta gives the strongest digestion of the three doshas, but this can be abused as the years pass. If you experience a burning sensation, indigestion, stomach upset, or any other digestive complaint, these are signs that you are creating Pitta imbalance in your eating.
Psychologically, the need to achieve and stand out comes naturally to Pitta types, and with this comes discipline and above average intelligence. However, it is easy to overlook that the world is divided into other dosha types as well—not everything was designed to suit Pitta’s plans and goals. The signs of imbalance in this area are impatience, intolerance when others seem too slow, and in extreme cases, a demanding, critical nature that seeks to control and dominate others.
Culturally we associate summer with fun and recreation, but the onset of summer heat can aggravate the psychological downside of unbalanced Pitta. This brings us to the most important factor in balancing your doshas: self-awareness. The best Ayurvedic advice won’t help you if you are not aware of where balance and healing are needed for you as an individual.
In terms of the doshas, self-awareness begins by being on the lookout for Vata imbalances. Vata leads the other two doshas by being quick to change and highly responsive to signals that otherwise go unnoticed. Vata gives life its joy and sparkle, so when these qualities aren’t present, Vata needs to be addressed. Other signs include headache and susceptibility to seasonal contagions like summer colds. Psychologically, feeling tense and anxious are leading indicators of Vata going out of balance. Feeling worried and overwhelmed is typical of Vata in the face of stress.
Knowing these signs gives you a guide for Vata imbalances that apply more and more during stressful times. The reason that self-awareness applies so importantly is that Vata’s early signals give fair warning that more lasting and serious symptoms will follow unless healing and balancing steps are taken. For example, Pitta drive and confidence make it easy to shrug off feeling tense, and anxiety is pushed aside as part of life when circumstances are trying. Moreover, since they like being in control, Pitta types are reluctant to see themselves overwhelmed by stress.
It takes self-awareness to step in and see the situation clearly. Be on the lookout for Vata signals first—this is true for all body types. Then attend to the dosha that dominates your makeup. It is good to remember that awareness itself has healing power, which is especially true for Vata symptoms, because they tell you to take rest, relaxation, good sleep, and a carefree attitude to heart. Such simple steps make a huge difference in self-care the year round, with special emphasis on Pitta signals during summer.
Cool off and find calm this summer with Pitta-balancing practices to nourish mind, body, and spirit in Summer Renewal, a four-part Ayurveda series with Dr. Sheila Patel, available now in the Chopra App under For You.