Ayurvedic teachings observe the 5 basic elements of fire, water, earth, air and ether (space) as being present in all matter. We are viewed as being a microcosm of the universe, so the elements which are represented in the universe are also represented within us, our food and our environment.
This is what gives rise to the understanding of the doshas. Every dosh is composed of the 5 elements, however 2 elements are predominant in each.
The dosha and their corresponding elements
Vata = Air and Space
Pitta = Fire and Water
Kapha = Earth and Water
Vata, Pitta and Kapha are the very foundations of Ayurveda.
We understand the qualities of each element and can see how this is represented within the doshas. A prominent Ayurvedic law is ‘like increases like’. If we apply this to summer we can see how Pitta imbalance can develop.
Not only do we view the doshas (or the qualities of the elements in us) we also see them in our environment; summer is Pitta season. During summer Pitta dominant people are more like to feel the effects of too much ‘fire’ due to the law ‘like increases like’.
If we then further add to the fire in the body by consuming Pitta dominant foods and allow our lifestyle to be dominated by Pitta activities: high intensity exercise, a stressful workload, multi-tasking and not taking time to relax, we will feel the effects if too much fire, physical and emotionally.
Of course we know the term ‘burn-out’. When we think of it in Ayurvedic terms, quite simply the continual drive from Pitta dosha (fire) becomes too strong and the body and mind will say ‘stop’.
Ayurveda teaches us to live in harmony with our environment, with an awareness of the changing seasons and the physical and emotional nourishment we need throughout the seasons.
Like most people, I’m guilty of trying to fit in as much as I can. Multi-tasking work, family and clients. What does this bring me? Emotionally, feeling dissatisfied with what I am achieving, questioning if what I and doing and achieving is enough or good enough? Short tempered when I feel others (especially my children) are not doing exactly what I want them do do, the second I ask them.
This week, I’ve had a few nights feeling very hot in bed and suffering from nightmares…..OK, it’s time to pause. This is the signs and symptoms of a Pitta imbalance. The Pitta fires are burning too strong. It’s time to cool things down.
The first step in Ayurvedic Treatment is looking at diet and lifetime. Is this adding to much fuel to my internal fire or providing enough to maintain the clarity, focus and illuminating glow of Pitta without burn-out?
Let’s go back to the law of ‘like increases like’.
The qualities of Pitta dosha are: Hot, sharp or penetrating, oily, light, mobile – spreading and has direction, transformational, all of which are essential qualities. But too much is not always a good thing.
For Pitta dominant people it is good to understand which foods are cooling and heating during the summer months. We want to include foods with the opposite qualities to those above.
The taste of food also has heating or cooling properties.
Pungent, salty and sour are the most heating.
Sweat, bitter and astringent are cooling.
We can now apply this what foods are most suitable for Pitta dominant people during summer.
Summer brings us a bountiful supply of foods to suit Pitta dominant people.
Here’s your Summer shopping list:
Dairy and alternatives:
- Yoghurt and Dairy (Semi skimmed or skimmed milk)
- Coconut milk, water and natural coconut.
- Plant based milks
- Goat milk and cheese
- Young soft cheese
Pitta aggravating foods:
- Hard fermented cheese
- Full fat milk and cream
- Almond oil
- Olive oil
- Almonds, hazelnut and walnuts
- brasil nuts
Most spices except: chilli, cayenne
- Garlic and turmeric (in moderation)
- Green vegetables: beans, spinach, broccoli. peas
- Summer squash
- Sweet peppers
- Summer potatoes
- raw root vegetables: carrot, beetroot.
- Sweet grapes
Sour fruits are Pitta aggravating:
Beans, pulses and cereals:
- All beans are great
- Yeast-free bread
Meat and Fish:
- White fish: cod, haddock, plaice, halibut, seabass
- Red meat, shellfish, salmon, tuna.
Maintaining balance throughout summer is all about moderation. Think 80/20. For the majority of the time we consume in-season foods from the list above and be mindful of over consuming Pitta aggravating foods.
Cooling, Pitta Balancing Activities
Being near water or swimming is balancing for Pitta. The perfect Pitta balancing activity it taking a cool, evening walk (in the moonlight) near water. See you at Highams Park Lake for an evening stroll.
High intensity activity is Pitta aggravating, so be sure to conclude your dynamic, vinyasa Yoga practice with a longer, grounding Savasana.