Summer is here, and you can't wait to plunge into the pool or head for the beach. But before you rush out to sample the joys of summertime, make sure you are following a diet and routine that will help keep Pitta dosha in balance.
According to ayurveda, every individual is a unique combination of the three doshas or psycho-physiological principles Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is mainly air and space, Pitta fire and water and Kapha water and earth. These doshas also govern the seasons of the year, with Pitta, the fire element, ruling the hot summer months. During the summer, even if you do not have a lot of Pitta in your make-up, you may find that you need to take steps to placate Pitta to stay healthy and balanced. This goes not only for your overall health but skin and hair health as well.
Here are some suggestions to keep your skin looking beautiful all summer long:
- Drink lots of water through the day, not only to replenish moisture lost to the heat and sweat but also to help flush toxins out of the body and keep skin looking clear and lustrous. Herb or spice teas, made with skin-enhancing ingredients, offer added therapeutic benefit. To balance Pitta, choose cooling herbs and spices such as mint, cardamom and fennel. Stay away from iced beverages because they hinder digestion and can create toxins leading to skin breakouts.
- Eat Pitta-balancing fruits, vegetables and herbs, which supply the skin with essential nutrients and come with free-radical fighting antioxidant properties while they help keep your skin cool. Carrots, lettuce, summer squash such as zucchini, celery, asparagus and leafy greens are good vegetable choices. Sweet juicy fruits such as pears, grapes, watermelon and mangoes both nourish and cleanse. Fresh ginger, cilantro, mint and basil add flavor and aromas to dishes without aggravating Pitta dosha.
- The sweet, bitter and astringent tastes balance Pitta while the sour, pungent and salty tastes aggravate it. Go easy on spicy or sour foods, especially if you plan to go out and enjoy the sun for the day, to keep your skin from breaking out or getting inflamed.
- Milk is a cooling, Pitta-pacifying beverage that also supplies nutrients to your skin and helps to keep it from drying out. Drink a cup of milk every day, and also combine milk with ingredients like almond meal and rose water to make a Pitta-balancing skin cleanser.
- Get plenty of quality rest each night. Keep your bedroom cool, dark and comfortable and sleep on cotton or linen sheets. Get to bed early and awaken early for clear healthy skin and sparkling eyes.
- Pitta dosha governs the heart and emotions. When you feel stressed, angry or frustrated, your skin will show it over time as furrows and small lines and breakouts. Practice calming yoga poses or meditation to stay serene and help your body and mind manage stress. Diffuse Pitta-balancing essential oils, such as rose, sandalwood and lavender to keep mind and heart balanced. Walk on the beach or through a cool shady garden.
- The sun can increase sebum production, causing your skin to look oily on occasion. When the oil combines with dirt and sweat, pores get clogged. Be meticulous about your cleansing routine, morning and night. Use a non-soap based gentle cleanser that will deep cleanse without drying out the skin. A good cleansing mix for dry/normal skin can be made with almond meal, oatmeal, milk and rosewater. For oily skin, try chickpea flour (found in Indian grocery stores) or oatmeal with yogurt and a little lemon and neem powder. If you use a toner, look for one without alcohol.
- Keep your skin nourished with an herbal moisturizer. Look for ayurvedic formulations that contain skin-friendly herbs such as sandalwood, turmeric, brahmi, amla and aloe vera. At least once a week, treat yourself to a fruit or vegetable mask appropriate for your skin type. Cucumbers, avocados, apricots and papayas lend themselves well to homemade masks. Puree the fruit or vegetable and blend with some yogurt, honey, oatmeal and lemon juice (for oily skin) or rosewater (for dry skin) and apply evenly to the face. Let stay for 15-20 minutes and then rinse off with lukewarm water.
- Do not go out during the hottest parts of the day, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you exercise outdoors, do it early in the morning. Wear sunscreen, lip protection, sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat when you go out-exposure to the sun can age skin very rapidly. A thin mixture of red sandalwood powder and rosewater applied to your skin 2-3 times a week can help it become more resilient. Take an aromatherapy floral water or hydrosol along for the day to stay refreshed.
- Eyes and feet could do with extra TLC. Each evening, splash lots of cool water on your eyes. When you can, soak some cotton pads in cool water or rose water and place them over closed eyes for 10 minutes. Keep your feet clean and cool. Wear sandals when you can to let feet breathe and stay odor-free.
Shreelata Suresh is a yoga instructor from the Bay Area, and she writes on yoga and Ayurveda for different publications. To subscribe to free newsletters on Ayurveda, or for more information, please visit http://www.ayurbalance.com.
Information provided in this article is for the sole purpose of imparting education on Ayurveda and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical condition, please consult your physician.