In Ayurveda, each season is associated with a dosha, or body type. Because summer is hot, fiery, and dry, it’s matched with the fire sign Pitta. Ayurvedic practitioners believe that every person has all three dosha aspects within their body ‒ Pitta (fire), Vata (air), and Kapha (earth) ‒ though at varying levels.
To stay healthy, these doshas should be in balance with one another. When one of them is out of whack due to stress, diet, or even the weather, you feel it physically and emotionally.
Because summer exacerbates the Pitta dosha, it’s key to eat foods that are the opposite of fiery or have a heating effect; think sweet, bitter, astringent, cold, and even a little oily. By eating these types of foods (and avoiding heating foods or spicy foods), you can keep your Pitta fire in balance. If Pitta is imbalanced, you may notice physical symptoms like acne, rashes, heartburn and acid reflux, low blood sugar, and insomnia. Emotionally, you may feel “hot under the collar” (or agitated), more sarcastic and impatient, more irritable, or more negatively affected by the heat. (Before we get started, we'd like to acknowledge that you should always ask your doctor for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment before trying alternative methods).
Cooling Summer Foods
Numerous fruits and vegetables are in peak season during the summer months, and many of them are great for maintaining your Pitta dosha. Looking for meals to make with the list of cooling foods Ayurveda allows? Check out these 15 healthy summer recipes that’ll keep you cool, hydrated, and nourished all summer long.
To keep your Pitta in check, it’s recommended to stock your pantry and refrigerator with Pitta-balancing superfoods that have a cooling effect on the body:
- Grapes (red, purple, or black)
- Bell peppers
- Dandelion greens
- Snow peas
- Basmati rice
- Azuki beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- Pinto beans
- Red lentils
Eating meals raw or lightly cooked is also recommended, as raw foods include particularly hydrating in Ayurvedic medicine and considered easier to digest than frozen foods (think deconstructing your smoothie and eating the ingredients rather than blending them with ice).
Room temperature juices, water, and coconut water are perfect for hydration, but try to avoid ice-cold drinks, as those could dampen your digestion and cause issues. Salads, gazpacho, blended drinks, and fresh fruit and veggie crudités are perfect meals for a Pitta summer. It’s also recommended to avoid eating foods that are spicy, sour, salty, hot, or dry, so stay away from items like hot coffee, salty chips, and spicy salsa.
Stay Cool With This Refreshing Ayurvedic Drink
We've got the perfect Ayurvedic recipe for a tasty drink that will balanca pitta dosha get you through the dog days of summer: a refreshing Ginger Basil Limeade!
This recipe is perfect for waking up your mind, stimulating your whole body, and strengthening your agni (digestive fire). It also replenishes essential electrolytes that will perk you up and get you going during that late-afternoon summer heat.
The ideal cleansing drink with the perfect combination of ginger, basil, lime, and a touch of sweetness.
For this recipe, you'll need:
- 4 cups of water
- 1/2 cup of basil
- 2 inches (roughly) of fresh ginger
- 1 lime
- 2 tsp of raw sugar
Here's how you get started:
- Zest your lime until you get about 1 tsp worth
- Juice the lime completely
- Chop ginger into small chunks
- Add 1 cup of water, ginger, lime juice, lime zest, raw sugar, and a handful of your basil leaves into a blender, and blend until smooth
- Combine the blended juice into a pitcher with the remaining 3 cups of water
- (Optional) garnish the rim of your serving glasses with salt to satisfy all six tastes
- Garnish with fresh basil, chill, and serve!
Abiding by Ayurvedic principles, the ginger and basil wake up your tastebuds, the lime will add some much-needed sour, and the sugar and salt will cover the rest. Uplifting, smooth, pitta pacifying, and satisfying for summer heat, this drink is as tasty as it is healthy.
Other Ways to Keep Cool This Summer
Dress in light layers
Dressing in light, breathable clothing made from linen, cotton, or silk and in cooling colors like blues, purples, greens, whites, grays, and taupes will help you counter the intensity of the summer heat.
Rise with the sun
Depending on your location and the time of year, the hour the sun rises can vary. Benefits of rising with the sun (that is, waking up early) include regulating circadian rhythm, increasing energy levels, and improving productivity.
Exercise in the early morning
Summer can motivate you to improve your fitness levels and provides more opportunities for outdoor exercise. Early-morning exercise can help you avoid the high temperatures that come with midafternoon summer sunshine.
Try Pitta-focused yoga poses
You can balance the fiery Pitta season by adjusting your yoga practice. Allow your routine to be guided by relaxed effort: Move gently and fluidly, keeping your breathing regulated and your energy focused on your breathing.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine are considered “sharp” and “heating” – and according to Ayurvedic principles, both should be avoided in the summer months. Iced coffee, especially, should be avoided, as ice can douse your digestive fire.
Keeping Cool the Ayurvedic Way
Keeping your body and mind cool during the summer is key to balancing the Pitta dosha. Eating cooling foods, drinking enough (room-temperature) water, and surrounding yourself with soothing friends and experiences will help you beat the summer heat. All these make up your primary food – the things that feed your soul outside of the foods you eat. When you’re adequately nourished with primary food, you can live a more fulfilling and healthier, happier life.
Take Your Ayurvedic Learning to New Levels
Eating with an Ayurvedic diet is the perfect way to feel balanced, nourished, and energized. For those looking to take the concept of Ayurveda beyond physical nourishment, we recommend trying our Chopra Health Certification Program – an immersive class that not only gives you a deeper understanding of Ayurvedic principles, but also shows you how to implement these principles in every part of your life, while also providing the resources necessary to teach others within your community about Ayurveda. Whether you're looking to expand your knowledge, boost your career, or change your life, this course is the perfect solution.