By Bindu (Maureen) Shortt, Svaroopa® yoga teacher, Nutritional & Ayurvedic Consultant
Instead of four seasons in the year, Ayurveda identifies only three. Spring runs March through June, when planting happens. Summer runs July through October, when harvesting happens. Winter runs November through February when the fields are dormant. Depending on geographies and climate, the timeframes of these three seasons vary, in different regions across India, the birthplace of Ayurveda, as they do in different regions of the USA.
Each of these three seasons has different energies, corresponding with the doshas. Ayurveda sees spring as kapha, summer as pitta, and winter as vata. Each of these energies is high during its associated month, both outside in nature and inside us human beings. That means we tend to over-accumulate the energies of the season as it builds into its second half.
Right now, September through October, we are in the second half of the summer pitta season. You may be noticing the over-accumulation of pitta, a fire-and-water energy, in your own body and mind. You may have skin conditions or seasonal allergies. Your appetite may be uncontrolled, or you may be having some loose bowels. Other symptoms include your joints bothering you as well as getting some heartburn.
Even finding yourself feeling easily frustrated or angered, or critical of yourself or others could be excess pitta. Perhaps you are experiencing pitta perfectionism or a bit of obsessive-compulsiveness. You may have a very sharp tongue, wondering where it came from. Maybe you even resent this blog trying to label you!
Any of this can be happening whether you have a pitta constitution or not. Be easy with yourself and recognize that it is a predictable excess of seasonal energies. How to deal with that excess? In Ayurveda we seek to pacify the excess by using the opposite. With pitta being hot and moist, we look to cool and dry out these conditions. Again, you do it both outside and inside.
Dietary adjustment means eating more of the cooling foods and less of the heating. So eat less of the sour (pickles), salty (chips) and spicy (salsa) foods. Four foods that help lower pitta the most are: cucumbers, watermelon, apples and pomegranates. They have the three pitta balancing tastes of sweet, bitter, and astringent.
In life, stay cool, both physically and emotionally. Walking in the moonlight, especially by water, is wonderful to cool excess pitta. Use sweet scents like rose and sandalwood. Listen to sweet music, especially chants. Wear cool colors, stay in the shade and rest more. Only watch sweet TV — no murders or mayhem. Practice surrender, letting go of the pitta need for control.
Here is a lovely cucumber raita recipe. It goes well with most entrees and settles excess pitta over the next six weeks or so:
- Remove the seeds from 1 cucumber.
- Peel it and use a grater to slice long strips.
- Add those long strips to 2 cups of plain yogurt.
- Add 1 teaspoon crushed black mustard seed. You can use a mortar and pestle to crush it.
- Add 2 teaspoons ground cumin.
- Stir together and add salt to taste.