Ayurveda in Summer

High summer is the time when the Pitta dosha can become high and unbalanced, unless precautions are taken. Pitta is said to mean the power of digestion or cooking; that which causes things to ripen and mature. Pitta governs all forms of digestion and transformation in the body, from the cellular level to the workings of the gastrointestinal tract.

The Pitta dosha is also responsible for digestion on the mental and spiritual levels, digesting what we see, hear and feel. When we experience imbalanced agni (digestive juices) within the physical system then there will be imbalances on the mental and spiritual levels. This is why fasting for two or three days, especially in summer, will aggravate Pitta, increasing the agni or fire element within the body.

Summer is the time when those of a Pitta constitution should avoid unnecessary internal and external increases in temperature such as over exercising, even in their Yoga practice. Too much sun (they will burn, not tan), hot and spicy foods should be avoided because high Pitta will lead to the doshic emotions of anger, frustration and judgement, mainly aimed at themselves because they strive for perfection in whatever they attempt.

When in a balanced state, people of a Pitta constitution psychologically have a good power of comprehension; they are very intelligent and sharp and tend to be good orators. They also make good leaders.

The skin is said to be the largest organ of Pitta and we must not forget that it is a digestive organ. Ayurveda says that we should not rub anything into the skin that we are not prepared to take orally, because it will be digested. It may be that our favourite skin care creams are creating internal imbalances.

On the emotional level the practice of sweetness of speech, forgiveness and contentment will help to counteract the imbalances implicit in our modern society and business practices, our emphasis upon personal achievement and success as well as such habits as smoking and drinking, all of which aggravate Pitta.

The cooling pranayama practices of Sheetali and left nostril breathing are especially recommended for high Pitta.

Asanas that help to balance the Pitta dosha are those that affect the navel area, increase the gastric heat efficiency and stimulate digestion. Also Asanas that stimulate the liver, spleen and small intestines, and strengthen agni or gastric fire. These can include the bow, fish, shoulder stand and the half wheel or supported bridge. As always these should be carried out in a calm and peaceful manner, linked to calm and flowing breath. Remember that “going for the burn” is not for the Pitta constitution.

The dryness of summer will affect Vata, but they will love the heat, as will Kapha, although humidity will cause Kapha problems.

I hope the summer is kind to you, especially for those of a Pitta constitution.


Bill Feeney
General and Remedial Yoga teacher
Guide in the Ayurvedic principles of well being