Summer Cool Down: Ayurveda Seasonal Guidelines for Pitta Season

During the summer months, both Pitta dosha and Vata dosh can become aggravated. The increasing power of the sun’s rays takes away the earth’s cooling qualities and allows dryness and heat to predominate. It also causes an increase in wind, which further decreases the quality of Kapha and increases Vata.

Exercise during the summer should be moderate because heavy or excessive exercise increases heat in the body. It can also aggravate Vata.

Staying up late also increases dryness, which is already being aggravated by the hot weather.

The intake of salty, pungent or sour foods and excessive exposure to sunlight will increase the accumulation of Pitta and Vata. Sweet, easy to digest foods, cool foods (never iced) and liquids tend to help bring the body back into balance. Remember that as in heat outside increases, our body automatically lowers its own internal temperatures. This means our power of digestion is lower in the summer. Eating light, cooked foods will help us get through the summer months without accumulating ama, the toxin that is created by  poorly digested food.

Light perfumes and fragrant flowers have a cooling influence on the mind and decrease the tendency toward anger, as well as other manifestations of increased Pitta.

Walking in the moonlight is recommended during the summer. Try to stay out of the sun during the peak sun hours of the day.

Drink lots of pure, fresh water. Room temperature is best. Iced drinks (and food) will further compromise our ability to digest our food. While hot water can increase the heat in our body, hot water can also help ease Vata aggravation, and may be tolerated by those with more Vata or Kapha constitutions.

Remember that eating properly is one of the most important things that you can do to maintain a healthy balance. When we properly digest our food, it brings nourishment throughout all the systems and organs in the body. The old adage “You are what you eat” is indeed true.  Ayurveda gives us the knowledge to understand how to choose what will best support our unique mind/body system.

For more information on Ayurveda treatment programs and consultations, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Minimizing Summer Skin Problems with Ayurveda

By this point in time, everyone knows that the sun can cause severe damage to the skin. Our skin is the largest organ in our body and is one of the main organs of purification. It acts as an insulator, regulates body temperature, and protects us from the harmful radiations of the sun. During the long days of summer, when exposure to the sun is at its peak, the risk of damage to our skin increases multifold.

Over-exposure to sunshine can allow extreme ultraviolet (UV) rays to penetrate through the layers of our skin, harming the DNA of our cells. From the perspective of Ayurveda, the intensity of the sun’s heat during the summer also aggravates Pitta dosha.

According to Ayurveda, most skin problems are associated with an imbalance of Pitta dosha, which governs metabolism, heat, and digestion. Pitta has five subdivisions or “subdoshas”, and one of them, Bhranjaka Pitta, resides in the skin. Its imbalance can cause rashes, boils, acne, and skin disorders of all types.

Problems with Pitta dosha are not limited to the summer time. One of the reasons that acne is common in early adolescence is because that is the time of life when Pitta begins to increase in the physiology. In babies and young children, Kapha is the predominant dosha. Kapha is the formative element that maintains the physical structure, providing support and substance in the body. Kapha makes up our bones, muscles, and fat; it lubricates joints and helps us maintain immunity. During the crucial early years of growth and physical development, Kapha is working overtime.

As we approach adolescence, however, the body begins transitioning from Kapha-predominate to Pitta-predominant. The hormonal changes of puberty are activated by Pitta. This increase in Pitta also causes skin problems.

Whether we are in the Pitta time of life or not, if we have problems with acne, rashes or other skin problems, one of the most basic Ayurvedic approaches is to pacifying Pitta dosha.

waterblog.jpg

Tips for Pacifying Pitta Dosha

1) Avoid foods that aggravate Pitta, such a fried and oily foods, processed foods, chocolate, and junk food. Avoid hot, spicy or sour foods (including cheese). Avoid red meat, which is especially Pitta aggravating.

2) Opt for foods that pacify Pitta. Sweet fruits and fresh vegetables are your best choice in the summer. In addition to being cooling, they provide essential nutrients and have free-radical fighting properties. Look for locally grown asparagus, zucchini, summer squashes, celery, cucumbers and an assortment of leafy greens. Sweet, juicy fruits such as watermelon, mangos, grapes and pears all help cool, nourish and cleanse.

3) The sun can increase the production of sebum, causing the skin to become more oily than usual. When the oil combines with dirt and sweat, pores can get clogged. Be meticulous about your cleansing routine, morning and night. Do not apply oils to areas affected by acne, even when you do your daily Ayurvedic oil massage.

4) Avoid harsh chemicals. Make sure the water you bathe with is not highly chlorinated or chemically treated. Swimming pools, while providing a cooling sports activity during the summer, can aggravate Pitta-related skin conditions. Fresh lakes and ponds are a better option, if available. Ideally, use a water filter on your shower.

5) Instead of washing your face with soap, mix room temperature, purified water and barley flour to a thin paste to make a gentle and effective cleanser. To really pamper your skin, remove the paste using room temperature milk — followed by a final rinse with room temperature water.

6) Drink more water. Water is the best beverage for those with skin problems. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are also fine but avoid canned or bottled juices and sodas, as those contain less of the vital qualities needed to nourish your skin. Air conditioners are also dehumidifiers. While they keep us cool they are also very drying. Air conditioners also prevent sweating, which is our body’s natural way of detoxing. Drinking lots of water will help keep your skin hydrated and will also help in the elimination of toxins.

7) Avoid caffeinated drinks, carbonated drinks and iced drinks. Caffeinated drinks are actually dehydrating. Ices and carbonated drinks can diminish our ability to digest food, leading to a toxic accumulation of ama. Because the skin is one of the leading organs for elimination and purification, an accumulation of ama can lead to skin problems.

8) Get plenty of rest. Because the summer daylight hours are longer, it can be tempting to stay up late. However, no matter what the season, the rest gained from 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM is considered to be the deepest and most regenerative sleep.

Your pineal gland is your internal clock. As the sun sets, the pineal gland senses the change in light transmitted through your eyes and it begins to secrete melatonin, preparing the body for sleep. Typically, within one to two hours after the sunset, you will begin to feel drowsy as melatonin levels rise. This is the body’s signal to go to sleep. By midnight your melatonin levels have peaked. There is a gradual decline in melatonin levels after midnight.

If you are still up and active after 10:00, the “second wind” phenomenon kicks in. This is driven by Pitta dosha. This late-night Pitta cycle is designed to repair and regenerate the body. This can only be experienced if you are asleep. Repeatedly staying up during the evening Pitta cycle can create deep Pitta imbalances and interfere with the body’s ability to stay balanced and healthy.

9) One of the main seats of Pitta is the eyes. Always wear sunglasses in the summer. In the evening, try splashing cool water on your eyes. Soaking a cotton ball with cool water or rose water and placing it over your eyes for 10 minutes can help cool the eyes.

If your skin condition persists or worsens, you may want to consult with an Ayurveda expert in your area. For more information on consultations at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa visit the web site:

http://www.theraj.com

Ayurveda Tips for the Spring-to-Summer Transition

hot.jpg

Now that the cool, wet Kapha days of spring are behind us, it is time to adjust to the increase in heat in our environment. The hot, sunny, and dry days of summer mean that that same heating, Pitta influence is increasing in our physiology. Pitta is hot, sharp, sour, pungent, and penetrating. It is a fundamental principle of Ayurveda that like increases like. To balance Pitta, we need to opt for choices that are cooling, sweet and relaxing.

Diet

Because the hot weather of summer increases Pitta within the body, we need to begin to favor foods that pacify (decrease) Pitta. Include more foods with sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. Include the fresh, sweet fruits and vegetable that grow in this season. Foods such as cucumbers, sweet fruits, and melons are considered very cooling. Dairy can help balance the heat of Pitta. This includes milk, butter, and ghee.

Opt for fewer foods with pungent, sour and salty tastes. Sour, fermented products such as yogurt, cheese, sour cream, and vinegar should be used sparingly as sour tastes aggravate Pitta. Eat fewer tomatoes and hot spices. Rice (especially white basmati rice), barley, wheat and oats are the best grains to reduce Pitta. Eat less corn, rye, millet, and brown rice.

Switch over to cooling herbs such as coriander, cilantro, fennel, cardamom, and saffron. Hard liquor, red wine, and red meat are too heating for the summer.

Enhancing Digestion

As the heat increases outside our body, our physical system tries to maintain balance by lowering our internal fires. As a result out metabolism becomes lower and our ability to digest food diminishes. While may seem natural at this time to indulge in colorful salads and plates of uncooked vegetables, unless your digestive capability is exceptionally strong, your body may not be able to absorb nutrients from raw foods. Ayurveda recommends cooked foods to strengthen one’s digestive power and optimize nutrient absorption. Ripe fruits are considered to be “cooked by the sun” and are fine to eat. Avoid sour tasting fruits, however, as they will increase Pitta.

Ayurveda recommends never eating iced or cold food and drinks. While it can be tempting to grab a drink from the refrigerator or enjoy some ice cream on a hot summer day, these foods will pretty much “put out” our already diminished digestive fire. If you must, indulge in ice cream in the late afternoon, after your lunch has been thoroughly digested.

Stay away from carbonated drinks, as they also act to slow down digestion.

Meal Times

To keep Pitta dosha from becoming aggravated, do not skip meals or wait until you are ravenously hungry before you eat. In the summer months it is good to follow good eating habits: Breakfast is important. Cooked apples or pears are a light yet nourishing way to start the day. If you need a heartier breakfast, include cooked cereal.

Eat your main meal at noon when your digestive fires are at their peak. While yogurt is not recommended in the summer, yogurt in the form of lassi can actually help boost digestion. Drink it at the end of your meal.

Stay Hydrated!

Pitta is drying by nature. It is important to drink 4 – 6 cups of water daily, as well as enjoying other cooling beverages.

Daily Routine

Those who enjoy daily Ayurvedic massage may want to switch from sesame oil to a cooler oils such as coconut oil or olive oil.

Avoid direct exposure to the sun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Save your exercise for the early morning or late evening. Avoid extreme sports.

Go to bed on time. Because the days are longer in the summer, it is easy to stay up late. Unfortunately, because the sun rises early (along with the birds), we also tend to get up earlier. This lack of sleep can aggravate both Vata and Pitta. In addition, staying up late at night to watch television, or use the computer can aggravate the Pitta located in our eyes. Try to switch off electronic devices early in the evening to give your eyes a rest.

Favor aromas that are cooling and sweet. Sandalwood, rose, jasmine, mint, lavender, chamomile rose and geranium are recommended.

And don’t forget to meditate! Regular meditation will help lower your mental/emotional temperature.

Signs of Pitta Aggravation

The doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, are primary forces that are responsible for the characteristics of both our mind and our body. Pitta imbalance can manifest emotionally as well as physically. Anger, jealousy, and finding ourselves being increasing critical of others are as much signs of Pitta imbalance as indigestion, rashes, skin irritations, and burning eyes. Other signs of Pitta imbalance include diarrhea, burning sensations, sweating, fever, inflammation and problems with the small intestine and the stomach. Excess Pitta can lead to acidity, ulcers and liver disorders. If you suspect any health problems, seek a qualified practitioner.

Some people find that insomnia can increase during the summer months. Pitta-based insomnia is associated with waking up in the very early hours of the morning and not being able to get back to sleep.

Making changes in our diet and daily routine at the beginning of the season can help us avoid Pitta imbalances and allow us to enjoy a healthful and blissful summer.

For more information of programs to address Pitta imbalances, such as insomnia, gastritis, and ulcers, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

http://www.theraj.com

Summertime Cooking Tips

Cooling Herbs and Spices:

One easy way to prepare Pitta-pacifying foods is to add cooling spices and herbs to your foods and drinks. During the next hot months:

Add more: Anice, cardamom, coriander, cilantro, fennel, fenugreek, licorice, mint and turmeric. Simply adding mint leaves to your drinking water can provide a cooling influence.

Avoid heating spices: Cayenne, garlic, chilies and black pepper.

These are obviously general tips. Individualized recommendations for your specific state of balance and imbalance can be given to you by an Ayurveda expert in your area.

images

Ghee: The Perfect Summer Cooking Oil

Although most oils increase Pitta, ghee (clarified butter) has the unique property of stimulating digestion and cooling Pitta at the same time. Ghee is a cherished in Ayurveda as a nutritional food for all body types. Ghee does not burn at high temperatures, so it works great as a cooking oil.

Sweet Lassi

Although yogurt is a sour food that you’ll want to avoid in summer, when blended with water and sweetener, it becomes a healthy, cooling drink called lassi. Try this recipe for delicious sweet lassi:

3 parts room-temperature, pure water

1 part freshly-made yogurt. (The fresher the yogure, the less Pitta it will have)

Raw sugar or honey or stevia to taste

Rose water to taste

Pinch of freshly ground cardamom powder

Pour ingredients into a blender and mix thoroughly

Coconut Water

Coconut water is a great thirst quencher that comes with a long list of health benefits. High in fiber, it aids in the prevention of indigestion. Coconut water contains five essential electrolytes present in the human body: potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and sodium. This makes coconut water an excellent choice for rehydrating after exercise. Coconut’s amazing ability to rehydrate was recognized in WWII, where coconut water was actually used for blood transfusions in remote Pacific outposts.

Coconut water has a soothing anti-inflammatory effect in our digestive system. Its creamy quality helps soothe inflamed mucosal membranes throughout our entire digestive tract.

Try adding some raw sugar, lime and a pinch of cardamom to coconut water for a refreshing summer drink.

www.theraj.com

Ayurvedic Summer Recipes

One of the delights of summer is the joyful abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables tumbling off the grocery shelves. According to Ayurveda, sweet fruits and bitter greens help pacify Pitta dosha.  According to the scientific community (and our own common sense) they also protect us from falling ill. A recent international research study conducted by the University of Adelaide found that people who consumed a diet high in fruit, vegetables and certain grains had a lower risk of developing not just one but multiple chronic conditions including anemia, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, arthritis, hepatitis, coronary heart disease, asthma, stroke, fracture and cancer. The study found that people who eat a higher amount of fruit are less likely to develop any chronic disease, while a high intake of vegetables helps prevent people with one chronic disease from developing a second.

So pile your plate high with these health-creating foods! Here are a few fun summer recipes to try out:

Asparagus and /or carrots with lemon-herb sauce

Steam your chosen amounts of asparagus and/or carrots to the point where they are asparagus-and-carrots“fork-friendly”. This means a bit more than al dente but not soft or mushy. Then pour the following lemon-herb sauce over the vegetables.

Lemon-Herb Sauce

Juice one lemon. Add a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of honey (use only unheated honey). Mix together in a blender with a few leaves of fresh basil and mint. Puree until smooth.

Cucumber Raita

This side dish goes well with dal, rice, curries and other Indian dishes.

Combine in a mixing bowl:

1 cup fresh yogurt

1/4 cup cucumber (peel and dice finely_

1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and grated

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (the leaves of the coriander plant)

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

salt to taste

Cooling Mint Tea

mata-peprna-pouziti1 cup fresh peppermint leaves

1 quart boiling water

1 quart room temperature water

2 teaspoons sweetener

Pour the quart of boiling water over the mint leaves. Cover and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain the tea into a pitcher or glass jar. Add cool water sweeteners. If you are adding honey, make sure the water has cooled down first. This is a great drink for aiding digestion. Drink at room temperature for maximum assimilation. Remember that iced and chilled drinks dampen our digestive fires, making it difficult to properly digest our food.

Dandelion Salad

If your lawn is full of dandelions, stop complaining and start picking. Dandelions are one of the most nutrient-dense plants you can eat. Their leaves, when young and tender, have a slightly bitter taste like arugula. The older the pant, the more bitter the greens. Before you start picking, be sure that the yard in which the dandelions are growing has not been treated with chemicals.

1 cup dandelion greens, washed and dried

8 large leaves of butter lettuce, washed and dried

1/2 cup feta cheese or goat cheese, chopped or crumbled.

Dressing

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/8 cup olive oil

sweetener to taste (just a bit is needed)

1 tomato chopped

fresh basil

fresh ground black pepper to taste

Boiling the dandelion greens is better for older, larger leaves as it removes their bitterness. Some even recommend boiling the older greens twice: once for 2 minutes, drain and boil again for 2 minutes.

For information on consultations with Ayurveda experts or to take a dosha quiz and discover your individual mind/body type, visit The Raj, Ayurveda Health Spa:

www.theraj.com

( Picture of the asparagus and carrots. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Googles Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)

 

( Picture of the mint tea. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Googles Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)

 

Keeping Cool with Ayurveda Tips

50262018_524e21b23b_zAccording to Ayurveda, the heat of summer is aggravates Pitta dosha, the metabolic principle responsible for energy production, metabolism and digestion. When aggravated, Pitta can give rise to increased anger, ulcers, rashes and other skin problems.

Pitta season starts in mid-June and lasts until mid-October. During this time you may find that your appetite is not as strong as during the cold months of the year. This is because in the winter the body has to provide its own heat, so the digestive fires burns at its brightest. As the outside heat increases, however, our inner fire diminishes. If you find your appetite is less in Pitta season, listen to what your body is telling you.

You’ll want to drink more liquids during the hot months of summer (room temperature to cool is acceptable, but never ice cold) but it is important not to douse the digestive fires by drinking liquids at the end of a meal.

Sunbathing can increase Pitta and therefore should be minimized. According to modern medicine, sunbathing increases the risk of skin cancer—and that risk is greater among Pitta types or those with Pitta aggravation. If you must be in the direct sunlight, wear a hat and sunglasses. The eyes are one of the five main seats of Pitta dosha and excess heat can accumulate there during the summer.

One way to help control Pitta is simply through diet. Pungent (spicy), salty and sour tastes increase Pitta. Sweet, astringent and bitter tastes reduce Pitta. Whether or not to adopt a Pitta-pacifying depends on your constitution and on any imbalances you might have. A trained Ayurveda expert can recommend the right regimen for you. Remember also that the differences among Ayurvedic diets are matters of degree. Whatever the season, we should always include the six tastes in every meal in order to nourish all of our body tissues.

Seasonal Maharishi Ayurveda purification and detoxification treatments, or Panchakarma, are recommended to keep the doshas from unhealthy levels of imbalance. Imbalance of the doshas arises in six successive states: accumulation, aggravation, dissemination, localization, manifestation and disruption. As long as the doshas don’t get past the accumulation or aggravation stage, we can avoid ill-health.

Once the process goes beyond the aggravation stage, however, some symptoms of disease or disorder may be experienced. The traditional rejuvenation treatments of Ayurveda help remove imbalanced doshas, loosening them from localized areas and eliminating them from the body.

For more information on the traditional detoxification treatments of Ayurveda or for information on consultations with Ayurveda experts, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center:

www.theraj.com

 

 

 

( Picture of a Rose in Water. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Googles Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)