Heatwave and Back to School Tips
With thanks to Maharishi AyurVeda practitioner, Linda Sinden.
Back to school, we go! As parents and children alike prepare to return to the previous ‘norm’ of the busy morning routine on a ‘school day’, do you sigh with relief or feel an unexpected sadness? As Scotland leads the way, schools are now getting ready to receive their charges as children and teachers once again prepare to be together.
As the heatwaves currently being experienced leave their impact, you may also have noticed a tendency for your child to be more reactive, expressing frustration and anger more easily. If so, the increased external heat has caused an imbalance of Pitta dosha within leading to signs of Pitta imbalance. There are other signs of Pitta imbalance that you may not be aware of that indicate a need to balance Pitta in the mind-body and your environment. Let’s consider them below.
About the doshas
From an Ayurvedic perspective, five key elements – space, air, fire, water and earth form the basis of life. These five elements combine to create three doshas or organising principles of nature called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each of the doshas has specific functions they govern while regulating thousands of separate smaller functions automatically often without our awareness.
What is Pitta?
Pitta is one of the three doshas. It governs bodily functions concerned with digestion, metabolism of what we eat and experience, normal body temperature and energy production. Pitta dosha guides the healthy functioning of the eyes, healthy glow of skin, drive and decisiveness, sense of meaning and purpose in life, digestion, assimilation and metabolism for healthy uptake of nutrients and healthy toxin-free blood.
The main seat of Pitta in the body is in the small intestines or duodenum. When heat increases beyond what is comfortable in the small intestine, then one can experience indigestion, acidity or digestive upsets, loose and smelly or frequent bowel motions (more than 1-2 per day), feeling overheated and emotionally intense or reactive with signs of inadequate assimilation and nutrition.
Have you noticed this?
Below are signs of Pitta imbalance. Which ones can you see in yourself or a loved one recently?
- Bloodshot eyes and poor vision.
- Skin rashes and acne.
- A tendency to be demanding or impatient.
- Being driven to have things perfect.
- Finding it difficult to stop and to overwork.
- Over-supply of stomach acid.
- Early greying and balding.
- Easily frustrated, sometimes sarcastic with bouts of anger, impatience and temper.
- Feeling ravenously hungry if dinner is half an hour late.
- Wake up at night feeling hot and thirsty, needing few blankets.
- Becoming uncomfortable and easily fatigued in hot weather.
- Feel like you should take control of a situation or in the case of a child they may take control, leading and directing the play.
What causes imbalance?
When imbalance or discomfort due to Pitta imbalance arises, there is usually a precipitating cause such as
- The weather is hot and humid (summer weather).
- Overeating hot, spicy, salty, oily or fried foods recently.
- Your diet contains too much sour or fermented products such as cheese, vinegar, sour cream, Coffee and alcoholic beverages.
- Being exposed to impure food and water.
- Under stress and feeling angry, frustrated and resentful.
- Placing excessive demands on yourself and others, live under constant pressure from deadlines, and cannot bear to waste time.
What to do now
By now, you will have gotten the picture that intense heat waves often cause Pitta imbalance or discomfort. There are some simple yet extremely useful lifestyle choices and herbals that will make a real difference. Let’s look at them now.
Cooling Pitta – Your food choices
- Eat at regular intervals. Never delay a meal and always eat when you feel hungry. Ideally, take the most substantial quantity of food at lunchtime with a lighter evening meal by 6 – 6.30 pm.
- Pitta dosha is very sensitive to pure food and water, so choose spray-free, organic and buy from your local garden market as the foods that are in season are the best ones to favour right now.
- Sweet juicy fruits are your best friend! Put them in the lunch box for morning tea, and eat with the lunch meal. Use them in a smoothie for breakfast or as a fruit salad. Add a little coconut milk, coconut cream or organic cream for a particularly soothing meal. Avoid sour fruits at this time.
- Freshly made salads and juicy cooked vegetable preparations are your second best friend at this time of the year. Vegetable juices can be very satisfying too!
- Be sure to eat adequate amounts of starchy vegetables or whole grains to satisfy your hunger.
- Cook with olive oil or Ghee – clarified butter which has a cooling and soothing influence in the intestines and is particularly good at this time of the year. Use Ghee as a preference when cooking during the hot season.
- Increased heat can cause you to become hydrated so drink purified water, Pitta tea, sweet fruit juices and vegetable juices you enjoy. Moderate intake of Coffee as it aggravates Pitta and try Raja Cup after a meal as it contains the bitter taste like Coffee and is an excellent digestive too.
- One tasty way to smooth out digestion is to have a sweet lassi drink with lunch made with one part fresh yoghurt (made overnight), three parts water, one dessert spoon of Rosewater, 2-3 pinches of cardamom and one tsp of raw sugar or maple syrup. Blend all together. Skim off the foam and drink the rest. Enjoy!
Herbal Gems to cool Pitta
When the heat of Pitta dosha causes discomfort in the stomach, I usually recommend 1-2 tablets of Herbal Aci Balance (MA575) after meals.
Suppose the heat of Pitta moves from the duodenum into the blood, and thereby warms the heart. In that case, it can give rise to the easily angered, discontented and driven qualities of Pitta imbalance. Then I recommend MA3323 Ash Gourd/Amla paste twice daily. It is tasty and very soothing to the heart and mind.
Interestingly, when in balance, people with strong qualities of Pitta in their nature are contented, chivalrous and naturally compassionate.
Tips for how to cool the body
- Applying Pitta Massage Oil over the body and following it with a bath or shower is soothing to a child or adult alike.
- Use Pitta Balance Aroma Oil in a diffuser at home or work. The sweet aroma seems particularly suitable during heatwaves.
- Make a strong Organic Cooling Pitta Tea and then blend it with a sweet juice (mango, pineapple or tropical fruits you enjoy) 50/50 and enjoy rehydrating. This summer cocktail is very cooling, soothing and tasty! Share this summer cocktail with a friend as it is a winner.
Cooling Pitta at bedtime
It can be challenging to get to sleep when the weather is hot. Here are a few tips to help.
- Be in bed before the Pitta influence increases, which is between 10 pm to 2 am. Aim to be in bed by 10 pm light out for sleep when you can.
- Favour natural fibres for bed linen and pyjamas.
- Keep your room temperature comfortably cool.
- Massage the feet before bed for 5 minutes with a little coconut oil. Use gentle and soothing strokes.
- Take a drink of organic milk with pinches of cardamom, nutmeg and turmeric before bed.
- Take two tablets of Blissful Sleep – Basic (MA1778) combined with Blissful Sleep – Vata and Pitta (MA 1684) 30 minutes before bed to support going to sleep or if you tend to wake in the night.
Wishing you the bliss of balance today and always.
Linda Sinden, Maharishi AyurVeda Consultant
Linda Sinden has been a practising Maharishi Ayurveda Consultant since 1990 and is a regular contributor to our health articles. She has a practice in Auckland, New Zealand and also provides phone or Skype sessions for those who need assistance, but don’t have a consultant in their vicinity.
Mobile: +64 212237525
DISCLAIMER: The information in this document is presented for the sole purpose of imparting education on Maharishi AyurVeda and neither the information nor the products are intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical condition or are pregnant or lactating, please consult a health professional and it is recommended that you speak with your physician before making significant changes to your diet or routine.