Pitta Elements = Fire + Water
•Fire qualities: heating, intense, bright, rhythmic
•Water qualities: fluid, cooling, calming, graceful
Depending on where you live, you may think summer is never long enough (like in the Pacific Northwest), or that it’s always too long (like in the South). Regardless of your geographical location, I believe summer is the one and only season where Westerners live at the appropriate pace, one that is in sync with Nature. It is the one time of year where you are encouraged to take a break from school, go on vacations, swim, hike, play outdoor sports or training to improve your body, with the use of different supplements such as these guys here, eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to stay healthy and so on.
Summer is a Pitta season, and as such, fire and water elements will be more predominant, and most people will feel the heat, sweat more, and seek refuge in cool water to help regulate their internal furnace. Relaxing is one of the best ways to decrease Pitta’s hot, ambitious nature and prevent your elements from going out of balance in the first place. It’s best to take it easy, do less, and take frequent deep breaths in a hammock under the shade of your favorite tree. If you do this, you will learn firsthand what the “opposites decrease” sutra is all about.
Adapt your life to live with the seasons and you will soon realize Mother Nature varies her workload every few months. The generosity you experience in summer occurs because there was a dormant, resting period in the winter and a cleansing and rooting phase in the spring, both of which helped pave the way for a clear and efficient flow of prana into the summer fruits, vegetables, trees, and plants. Without the balance and partnership of the previous seasons, summer would lack her abundance.
In the Western culture, there is a tendency to try to be consistently productive all year round, without exception. On an intuitive level, most people know that taking downtime in the summer feels right because everybody needs and deserves a break. In the West, the work environment and ethics are aligned with the Pitta elements and create a world for enthusiastic people to strive for perfection and power, reflecting the “like increases like” sutra.
But when the Pitta elements are out of balance in your lifestyle or in your body, what you notice is often a feeling of being burned out, dried up, tired, and angry. You carry along companions like regret, especially if others around you are having fun. When it’s hot, bright, and perhaps dry or humid outside, it’s best not to take on too much responsibility or overplan your free time; rather, leave some time to be spontaneous and let yourself go with the flow.
SUMMER DAILY RITUAL (Dinacharya)
Ideally, all these practices should be followed, but if the list seems overwhelming, choose just a few that resonate with you and commit to them for the whole season (up to three months).
• Wake up before the sunrise at 5:30 to 6:00 a.m. (do your best!) and greet the day with gratitude for another opportunity to celebrate life.
• Wash your face, brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, do a neti pot, and lubricate your nostrils with oil or ghee.
• Drink hot lemon water with a little salt in the morning to stimulate elimination.
• Meditate for 5 to 30 minutes (on water, loving kindness, or blue sky).
• Do your aerobic exercises while it’s cool outside, balancing your exercise with restorative asanas.
• Perform abhyanga, a full-body self-massage, which calms the nervous system and hydrates the skin. In the summer, apply coconut oil (leave the oil on for 10 to 30 minutes) and then take a warm shower, which will open your pores and allow the oil to be absorbed into your skin.
• If possible, eat all your meals outside in the fresh air.
• Summer is the time to stay cool. Avoid overheating by eating salads and foods that are cooling (like cucumber and watermelon), sweet (like fresh fruit), and satvic (like mung beans and basmati rice); drink lassis, a blend of yogurt and water mixed with fruit and/or Indian spices or salt. A small amount of chili or spice can promote sweating, which helps you cool down. Too much heat will create Pitta irritation such as heartburn, diarrhea, or a skin rash.
• Do your cooking and meal planning in the morning when the kitchen is cool. When you prepare food under stress, or when you are overheated or unhappy, your energy gets transferred into the food you make. During hot days, get out of the kitchen altogether and enjoy a picnic or barbecue instead.
• Never skip a meal, especially if you relate to the Pitta dosha and are in the summer season. To avoid low blood sugar moments that fuel Pitta’s impatient, irritable nature, keep a stash of healthy snacks like energy bars, nuts, fresh fruit, seaweed strips, or coconut water around at all times.
• Enjoy rose, sandalwood, jasmine, or lavender essential oils to relax the senses.
• Wear light-colored (white, blue, and green) clothing that is loose-fitting and made from cotton, linen, or silk so air can circulate between your clothes and your skin.
• Spend time in Nature, swim, retreat, and enjoy the moonlight.
To read more about summer practices, please refer to Art of Sequencing – Volume Two Seasonal Viinyasa.