Keep Your Cool!

June 1, 2010

I’ll never forget a particularly frigid NYC winter day when I was walking with my friend “R” and marveling that she had on a short, thin jacket, no boots, hat or scarf while I was layered and bundled from head to toe. Well, I smugly chalked it up to her youth (early twenties) while mature, dry, warm me (actually, I was still cold) was dressed appropriately.  Not so. In reality, my friend R was quite comfortable in her clothes and I have since learned the key to our differences. I am more Vata and she is more Pitta.

If you are a regular reader of my newsletters then you have heard of Ayurveda and the three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. We are all made up of some Vata, Pitta and Kapha and in an ideal world, would be an equal balance of the three. But the constitution we are born with, called prakruti in Ayurveda, comes from our parents and is usually heavier in one dosha. We are entering summer season here in the Northern Hemisphere, and thus, Pitta season. This dosha is associated with the interplay of fire and water elements.

Getting back to R and me. Now that it is summer, if I took a walk with R in the heat of the day, it’s likely that her face would be red and she might be, well, a little crabby. As I mentioned before, R is a typical Pitta and because of this she has plenty of warmth in her body already. Add the external heat of summer and Pittas can be miserable. If this sounds like you on a hot day, you are most likely Pitta dominant, or at least going through a Pitta phase in your life. Many people experience a little more Pitta dominance in hot summer weather.  In fact, my skin is very Pitta, unlike the rest of my constitution, so in the summertime I need to take extra precautions.

So, what to do to stay in balance this summer? The tendency to be too hot, and thus aggravated by heat, can be balanced by consuming cooling foods such as raw salads, fruits and lightly steamed greens and avoiding spicy, sour and salty foods.  Some other good food recommendations can be found here.  Additionally, to remain in balance try meditation, conscious breathing, gentle exercise and drinking plenty of cool water, herbal tea or coconut water, a natural source of hydrating electrolytes (nature’s Gatorade!).  Coconut oil applied topically is also an effective method for cooling off while moisturizing and protecting the skin from the sun.  If at all possible, avoid being in the hot afternoon sun and take plenty of cool showers.

If it seems like I have been picking on R, not so. She knows who she is and she is one of my favorite people in this world. I think one of the reasons we get on so well is that our doshas compliment each other. Pittas’ strengths are that they are strong-willed and passionate people that are highly organized and make excellent leaders.  A visit from R always leaves me feeling a little more organized and motivated! Each dosha, when balanced, has its own vital strengths and by studying Ayurveda we can better learn how to achieve a wonderful balance in our own life.  To determine your  dosha, take this online quiz.

Recipe of the Month: Cooling Cucumber Summer Salad

3-4 small cucumbers, whatever variety you prefer
1/4-1/2 small, sweet onion
1-2 plum tomatoes
1/4 cup plain, full fat yogurt
Dill, dried or fresh, to taste
Fresh chopped mint to taste
Sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Slice cucumbers and remove seeds, if desired.
2. Dice onion very fine and chop tomatoes in small pieces,
discarding juice.
3. Combine veggies and yogurt then season with fresh or dried dill,
fresh chopped mint and salt and pepper, to taste.
4. Refrigerate for at least half an hour before serving.

Delicious with pita bread! (no pun intended)
Option: Add thinly sliced radishes for a spicy kick!

Resource of the Month: Video:  Balancing Pitta Dosha Through Yoga and Ayurveda

Just a reminder that our upcoming Qigong Workshop is still open for registration. It will be held on Tuesday, June 15th 7-9pm. For full details see:

I would love to see you there!

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