You might already know that there is a dosha associated with each season, but what you might not know is that there is also a dosha accumulating each season - just waiting to become predominate and throw you off balance. It is just as important to know what dosha is accumulating as it is to know what dosha is aggravated from season to season. When you know which dosha is on deck, you can take measures to avoid going out of balance before it is too late.
This time of year (May), Pitta is accumulating. You might start to notice subtle symptoms this time of year - burning indigestion, inflammation, irritability - which are all signs Pitta is on its way to being out of balance. So, before you get into a yelling match with your neighbor, or break out into a rash (yeah, it happens!), you need to check yourself (before you wreck yourself!). Here are some ways to stay cool as Summer approaches.
Incorporate some relaxation and cool activities into your Summer fun!
Plan now! We like to shove as many activities into our Summers as we can, especially in places (like the PNW) where we know the good weather and sunshine isn't going to last forever. As you start to plan your Summer activities, try to reserve a weekend or two for a really low key, relaxed (ideally near cool water) getaway. Maybe a weekend at a spa, a meditation retreat, or a place where you can read a book in the shade. Summer, for me, is all about enjoying the sunshine in stillness. I like to set up near some water and shade, and enjoy conversation, snacks (duh!), and cool beverages. Because, really, if I do too much I'll get a rash!
Start cooling the body now.
This is time of year I like to start drinking cold infusions of cooling herbs. Throw some red clover, burdock root, dandelion root, or mint into a jar of water overnight, strain in the morning, and drink throughout the day. My favorite is a half ounce each of dandelion & red clover steeped in 4 cups of water overnight (see below). It will taste a bitter, and that is how you know it is right for pitta!
Find a daily cooling practice.
The Spring is a great time to form some habits you can use in the Summer. Now is a great time to explore what cooling practices work best for you, so by the time the heat arrives you are already in a routine of taking time each day to cool off and chill out. Here are a few ideas.
1. Take a slow, moonlit walk every evening. Take the time to pause and look up at the moon. If you don't have time to walk, you can even just spot the moon from somewhere near where you are and take a moment to gaze at it in stillness. The energy of the moon is cooling and moments of stillness are great for pacifying a burnt-out pitta!
2. Take cool showers. I don't know about you, but I can't stand cool showers. I want the shower to be hot enough to almost burn my skin. This is the worst for pitta, so at the very least I try to end my shower by turning down the heat. I hate it, but I always feel better when I get out.
3. Try lunar pranayama when you feel stressed or overheated. This practice of breathing in through the left nostril and out through the right reduces heat AND laziness. Close the right nostril on the inhale with the thumb on your right hand. Close the left nostril on the exhale with the ring finger of your right hand. You can do this sitting or laying down. Repeat for 5-10 even breaths and notice how you feel. (Even my dog does this one, sort of...)
4. Stop & smell a pitta pacifying essential oil. When I worked in an office I used to keep eucalyptus essential oil on my desk. I would take a whiff to wake myself up and find my clarity. Sandalwood, jasmine & rose are great scents for pitta. Maybe make a habit of incorporating these smells into the moments between activities, meetings, projects, or phone calls. You might be surprised what a difference just a minute of rest makes in a busy day.
Try these out and then try to incorporate one into your routine daily. By the time Summer arrives you'll have made a habit of it and will have these awesome tools at your feet!
Get rid of the fiery colors and incorporate cooling colors into your home and/or office instead.
You see very few red, orange, or yellow colors in my house. Pittas "see red" enough, so having those pitta colors around can be surprisingly aggravating. If you tend to be a fiery, stressed, competitive, and irritable person when imbalanced, I encourage you to notice if you feel a difference between looking at a red object and looking at a green or blue one. Mint green really does the trick for me, so I keep lots of this color on my work desk. That way, when I'm looking around and feeling the stress of all the things piling up, I see nice cooling colors and don't become even more aggravated. Whatever color you look at that gives you a sense of calm, wear it & decorate with it now! This way you will already have a cool refuge once the heat of Summer arrives.
Often we will become imbalanced when we stop paying attention to ourselves! The more you pay attention the more you will notice the little things that happen as the body starts to go out of balance. While a full-blown pitta imbalance may present itself grossly as acne, hives, anger, burnout, heartburn, or fever; pitta accumulating will be a lot more subtle. You might feel a little warmer or more intense than usual. You might feel a little tired or cloudy, or perhaps a little bit annoyed without a reason. When you notice these little things is the best time to do something about it. What subtle pitta ailments do you notice in the Spring?
Start a restorative or calm yoga practice.
We pittas love love love vigorous vinyasa flows. The more arm balances the better. Personally, too many intense workouts make me angry. I have to work really hard to find the balance here. I love arm balancing, and running, and taking barre classes and pushing myself. Through patience and perseverance, I have also learned to love a long, luxurious restorative practice. Bring on the bolsters and let me be still! yes! Once I am already out of balance, it is much more difficult to sit through a restorative class, as there is a lot of extra tension to let go of! When I know I am about to be busy, I sneak in restorative poses throughout my day. So, yes pittas, learn to love restorative classes. It might be hard at first, but you will be ever so thankful later. Really. (Look how chill I look below!)
That's all for now! Hope this helps ease you pittas into Summer!