Cooling Your August Fire with Ayurveda

The ayurvedic dosha of Pitta is hot hot hot in summer—and it governs our digestion and metabolism. Here’s how to beat the heat.

Joan Hyman is part of our teacher training program at Wanderlust Hollywood. Come practice, listen, taste, learn, and gather with us at our new center. 

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August marks the end of summer. As we enjoy the long days of the final month and begin to prepare for fall, it brings to mind the idea of balance.

The science of Ayurveda aims to bring our bodies back into harmony with nature, helping us create balance through our diet, daily routines, and lifestyle. Understanding Ayurveda helps navigate us to harmonize with each season so we prevent disease and exist with ease.

Ayurveda recognizes that we contain five elements:

  1. Air
  2. Water
  3. Earth
  4. Wind
  5. Fire

When we experience these five elements in the environment around us, they mirror our internal climate. The five elements combine to create our doshas, which make up our constitution.

Pitta (Fire & Water)

Vata (Air & Space)

Kapha (Water & Earth)

Each person is a combination of all doshas but, in most cases, will relate most to one of the three. Since we’re coming out of summer, let’s look at the Pitta dosha—where fire is the main element.

Most of us will experience a pitta increase during this time: think hot and humid. If your dosha is already Pitta, you will feel the extra effects of overheating in the summer. Be mindful, as this is a clear sign you will want to look for balance.

As we move through the seasons, we want to be sensitive about having excess of any one particular symptom.

Symptoms of Pitta excess include:

  • Sleep disorders;
  • Skin rashes;
  • Acne;
  • Excessive sweating;
  • Fever;
  • Inflammation;
  • Agitation;
  • Irritability;
  • Burn out; or
  • Temper flare-ups.

And, since Pitta governs digestion and metabolism, the fire can flare and lead to: Heartburn, diarrhea, and digestive problems/upsets.

Learning how to find balance year round will contribute to a life of feeling balanced and calm by being in harmony with nature.

How to find balance in the PITTA season:

  • Add more cooling foods to your diet with a bitter, sweet, and astringent taste. Apples, grapes, zucchini, lettuce, cucumbers, cilantro, watermelon, any other type of melon and strawberries with a sweet cooling taste are great to add to your diet.
  • Avoid excessive hot, spicy, oily or salty foods. Replace salt with fennel seeds, coriander, fenugreek, or fresh lime juice for seasoning. Limit alcohol, coffee, heavy meats, and fried foods. Try adding teas like cooling mint, green tea, and dandelion tea to stimulate digestion and cool your body temperature down.
  • Use spices in your food to help digestion—ginger, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin. These help to break down the food during cooking and also stimulate the digestive juices in the mouth and stomach. Oils such as coconut and avocado are great for stimulating digestive fires.
  • Avoid drinking with ice, which will lower your digestive fires. Apple cider vinegar can be taken before meals and adding lemon juice to your food will aid assimilation and build digestive fires.  Chew your food slowly to avoid indigestion.
  • Try cooling pranayama techniques, like Sitali and Sitkari, which are done by inhaling through the mouth and exhaling through the nose.
  • Avoid too much sun and seek the moonlight! Limit the need “to do,” playing competitive sports, and try relaxing more and enjoying life. Walking, swimming, and being in nature are great ways to take a break from work and surround yourself with beauty. Take frequent breaks, spend time in a garden and remember to smell the roses.

May you enjoy the rest of your summer and stay healthy and cool!

Photo by Emily Bergquist

Joan’s grounded teaching style creates space for students to deepen their personal journey while aligning with teachings of true yogic traditions. Joan frequently shares her insight on the subject of health and wellness in national magazines and blogs, including Elephant Journal, Mind Body & Green, Yoga Journal, ORIGIN Magazine and Women’s Health. She currently has a thriving career as a Wanderlust Senior Teacher (E-RYT500) and leads yoga retreats, workshops, and teacher trainings all over the world, while maintaining a full yoga class schedule in Los Angeles. joanhyman.com