How to Keep Cool in Summer Heat
Date Posted:10 January 2011
Summer was always Linda's favorite time, but with two preschool children, temper tantrums seemed to be the order of the day during the hot season. There would be times when Linda would swear that the number of daily tantrums moved in perfect synchrony with the thermometer reading outside.
Finally, Linda discovered that if she took her kids swimming once a day, peace was dramatically restored. She made it through the entire summer without a single incidence. Swimming is one of the activities that is very effective at soothing Pitta Dosha. Pitta is associated with heat, and its effects are especially felt during the hot Pitta season from November to March. Whether you are a Pitta type or not, you need to pay attention to excess heat during this time.
What is Pitta?
It is one of the three basic factors that govern all activities of the mind and body. It rules metabolism, particularly digestion, and is in charge of all processes of transformation in the body.
When the first heat waves of summer roll around, most of us start to experience the effects of excess Pitta. If your spouse seems to have a shorter fuse than usual or if you feel irritable or are easily annoyed, it is a sign that Pitta Dosha is aggravated.
It might be hard to believe that an ordinary thing like hot weather can affect our mood that much, but in fact, the effects of hot weather even show up in the nation's crime statistics. For example, data from the Des Moines, Iowa Police department show that more violent crimes are committed during the summer than during the winter.
Signs of excess or out of balance Pitta include:
- Excessive body heat and sweating
- Skin rashes
- Excess stomach acidity
- Peptic ulcers
- Early graying hair
- Irritability and anger
As you can see, these are very different complaints, but they are all related to the same factor - Pitta.
The beauty and simplicity of Maharishi Ayurveda is that by attending to this common source of imbalance, we can address or prevent a whole range of disorders in one stroke.
Knowing the simple things you can do to pacify Pitta will help you enjoy the summer more, and it will also ensure that the summer heat doesn't cause subtle imbalances that may later show up as disorders. There are three powerful approaches for balancing Pitta: diet, daily routing and herbal formulas. Follow some of these simple health tips and you'll be well on your way to enjoying a wonderful, cool summer.
The Cooling Diet
What is the first thing we reach for on a hot summer day—a cold drink? We instinctively know that cool drinks and cool foods help reduce heat or Pitta. However, if a drink is too cold, it will extinguish the digestive fire and spoil digestion, so avoid iced beverages, especially during meals.
Many foods have excellent cooling properties: sweet fruits like melons, cherries, or grapes, vegetables like asparagus, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and also milk, butter, ghee , and natural sweeteners except honey and molasses. Also, the Pitta tea and Pitta Churna have been designed especially to help pacify Pitta.
The main principle is that you should favor foods that taste predominantly sweet, bitter and astringent.
Minimize your intake of hot and spicy foods, and foods with salty or sour tastes, such as yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk or sour oranges, grapefruit or pineapple. You also want to minimize the intake of vegetables with heating properties such as tomatoes, hot peppers, radishes, beets, onions, garlic and spinach.
The Cooling Lifestyle
Pitta-aggravating activities such as overworking, frequency deadlines and long commutes are even more stressful during a summer heat wave when our emotional well-being is already under siege.
So emphasize activities that have a cooling influence, both emotionally and environmentally. Try to take the time to vacation more during the summer season so you have time to enjoy the outdoors. Leisure activities also reduce Pitta by mellowing intense, fiery emotions and increasing our happiness and contentment.
Take time to enjoy life. Swimming is very cooling, and so are leisurely evening strolls when the night air is cool and refreshing. A walk in the moonlight is especially soothing to a Pitta-aggravated mind and to the emotions.
Sleep with open windows, if possible, and engage in as many outdoor activities as you can. But avoid overexposure to the sun, especially during the hottest part of the day, from 10 am to 2 pm.
When working, give yourself plenty of time to meet your deadlines, and avoid over-scheduling and working long hours.
Herbs to Beat the Heat
Enjoy cooling Pitta tea at any time of day. It will help you and your family cope with the summer heat. It needs to be brewed hot, but if you want the cooling effect the herbs give and can't handle hot drinks in summer, brew some up in the morning, or night before, then leave in the fridge to cool. Try not to have ice cold drinks with meals as this can put out the digestive fire, but a cool & cooling Pitta Tea is a great way to keep in balance during the summer heat.
Whenever possible cook with Pitta Churna (ayurvedic seasoning). This churna contains all six ayurvedic tastes with a special emphasis on those that help to balance Pitta. You can sprinkle it on your food at the table, or sauté it with Ghee and add to your soups or vegetables.
A soothing whiff of Pitta Aroma by your bedside will help relax the mind and emotions while you sleep.
Hot, spicy foods combined with hot weather can aggravate your digestive fire. Try Herbal Aci-Balance to help with excess stomach acid.
ReGen Vitality is especially balancing for Pitta. It helps replenish vital nutrients that are depleted by excess heat, stress and overwork.