Staying Cool this Summer

The energy of the pitta dosha, according to Ayurveda, embodies qualities similar to fire. For any of us with a dominant amount of pitta in our constitution, researching decisions and operating in a way that maximizes efficiency and logistics are natural; we love reading consumer reviews. We want to know why, and spend a lot of time examining the why because we believe that it helps us find solutions or fine-tune our approach in the future. We are the pattern-finders of the universe.

The sharp quality of fire can also mean that we can be short, blunt, and a bit insensitive when our fires are flared. In particular, pitta excess often manifests as an intolerance–especially to ignorance, hypocrisy, injustice, and people not doing anything to solve their problems (and still complaining about them). Other mental, physical, and/or spiritual signs of pitta imbalance that I often see this time of year include the following:




more criticism, especially of self


short temper

focus on problems and areas of improvement instead of appreciating what is good

overworking or burning the candle at both ends

to-do list mania

feeling hot

flushed face, ears, chest

increased appetite

loose stools and more frequent bowel movements

yellow/green coat on tongue

mouth sores

inflammatory muscles and joints

headaches (usually behind the eyes or accompanied by light sensitivity)

rash or skin irritation


pervading dissatisfaction (nothing is good enough)

How do you bring pitta back into balance? Well, it’s about decreasing intensity, activity, and heat in all areas of your life–diet, work, relationships, exercise, or routine while increasing cooling, calming, stillness, sweetness, and appreciation/joy in every way possible. Try these five suggestions in a consistent approach over two weeks to feel yourself cool off:

1. Reduce spicy-hot food. This includes garlic and ginger. Tapatio, Tabasco, jalapeños, cayenne, and even garam masala and mustard seeds are all examples of heating spices. Favor cooling spices such as dill, fennel, coriander, and mint.

2. Avoid spicy people. As pitta rises, the increase in those experiencing pitta imbalances means that there can be an abundance of criticism and confrontation. Create safe boundaries from those in your life that bring in pitta energy in this way. We don’t want to run away from issues; rather we want to balance our own energy so we can approach others in a loving, compassionate, and less aggressive manner. Surrounding ourselves with compassionate and supportive people is great this time of year, as are keeping interactions light.

3. Check your alcohol consumption. While alcohol is a common component of summer celebrations, it is fiery (there’s a reason why it’s called firewater). Sweet wines or malted beers are the least aggravating to the pitta dosha. (For more information on alcohol and doshic energetics,

4. Get in water. I mean immerse yourself in water as well as get water in yourself. Being in the ocean and pools is a perfect way to find balance in the heat of the summer. Staying hydrated (especially with some cooling cucumber, lemon, rosewater, or spearmint in your water) is an effective approach for cooling pitta. In addition, plentiful water intake helps to flush out toxins and inflammatory messengers in the blood. This can lead to a reduction in symptoms such as acne, skin irritation, and joint inflammation. Urine is a good indication of proper fluid intake: if your body is hydrated enough, your urine should be clear.

5. Decrease the intensity. Create bubbles in your life devoted more to being than doing. This is why vacations are seasonally appropriate: they help to balance pitta’s intensity. Sleeping in, curling up with some engaging fiction, or spending a day at the beach without Internet are all simple ways to “chill out.”

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