photo from Flickr
I’m sure you know how obsessed I am with “balance”. (That sounds positively unbalanced…) Last month I picked up an issue of Body + Soul magazine – now called Whole Living. (By the way, I have not enjoyed a magazine so much since Organic Style Magazine which was published by Rodale Inc. in the early 2000s.) There was a fascinating article about balancing your dosha.
The concept of doshas comes from Ayurveda (which means “science of life” in Sanskrit). Ayurveda is an integrated discipline that encompasses everything from lifestyle, diet, detox and cleansing, and herbal remedies. The underlying philosophy is balance – “living in sync with our own unique energetic makeup.” We are all a unique blend of the three doshas: vata (made up of air and space which represents the energy of movement), pitta (made up of fire and water which represents the energy of transformation), and kapha (made up of water and earth which represents the energy of stability). Although we are a blend, there is usually a dominant dosha that can be attributed to our personality, lifestyle preferences and appetites.
Since a dosha is a mind-body type, I was able to determine my dominant dosha for body is Pitta and for mind is Pitta-Vata. But let’s address one thing at a time here…
The Whole Living article says:
Our doshas shape our identity, but they can also be our Achilles’ heel when the dominant energy becomes too strong. For instance, the pitta personality is naturally drawn to hard work and high achievement, but if she gets too caught up in that, to the exclusion of her softer (kapha) or more reflective (vata) sides, she’s courting a physical and/or emotional breakdown. In Ayurveda, everything is connected. The fiery pitta personality may crave spicy foods, which then fuel hot emotions.
Pittas are intense. Fiery. Ambitious.
As a result of our intensity and passion, we crave moderation and purity (I believe that point was addressed in my first sentence of this post). We can be irritable when stressed (well who isn’t though?). And are often short-tempered (oops sorry!)
We have ravenous appetites. And are prone to overwork.
We struggle to turn off our active minds before bed time. (It gets even better if you happen to be a Pitta-Vata mind type.)
And we over heat. Big time. (With all that fire going on 24/7, it’s no wonder!)
So that brings me to the point of my little tutorial on the science of life: being hot ain’t all that.
The temperatures have been running a little too high for my liking over the past couple of weeks. Things have cooled down considerably in the last 2 days but with no A/C working productively and sleeping soundly became ultimate challenges. At some point during the heat wave, I recall being in the office tidying up. It was already evening but not yet sundown. The 3rd floor was a humid 30C. I checked the Canadian Red Cross calendar on the wall and realized we were still on June so I flipped it up to July’s calendar. At the top of July it read: “Beat the heat – do you know the signs and symptoms of someone suffering from heat exhaustion?” I read the question out loud to Mike. He responded: “Irritability?”
While it is awesome to be a Pitta – who is the spice of life and is emboldened by that amazing transformative energy that allows us to solve problems and conquer the world – it comes with a price. That said, I have come up with a few strategies (in part thanks to my keen ability to solve problems and in part thanks to some stuff I have read about Pitta doshas).
So if you are a Pitta, like me, here are some ways to keep your hotness in check:
- Keep the caffeine to a minimum. Coffee and caffeinated teas can cause Pittas to over-rev. They also incidentally dehydrate and that totally messes with our internal temperatures. When I have needed a bit of a boost, I drink coconut water. It is nature’s version of Gatorade replenishing electrolytes and tasting yummy all at the same time.
- Drink a lot of water which helps to regulate body temperature.
- Stick to cooling foods like raw greens, carrots, broccoli, apples and cantaloupe. If I eat cooked meals, I avoid adding hot spices. Instead, I have tried cooling and tasty options like coriander, fennel or cumin. I have been using as little salt as possible since abusing salt will only make me inflate into a big water balloon.
- Schedule workouts when it is cooler. I have no access to a cool workout environment – the street is my gym, so I have mostly scheduled walks and runs in the evening after sundown. There is a short window there before it gets to the point when it is too late for serious aerobic activity so if you are going to try this, please use your judgment.
- Take cooler showers. This is the most refreshing way to start the day. (Although when it is hot and sticky outside and inside, the sensation doesn’t last very long but enjoy it for the time it does last.)
- A little bit of yoga can go a long way. I haven’t been indulging in hot yoga for obvious reasons but a 15-minute yoga break in the morning and afternoon has helped to work out the kinks and make me more physically and mentally comfortable.
- Finally, without A/C at home, I have been sneaking off to spaces in the neighbourhood in which I can work for a few solid hours comfortably. This is a great solution for work but I have yet to find an equivalent for sleeping purposes.
Good luck to all of my hot Pitta friends out there. Just think: if we can rock this for another couple of months, the greatest reward will be the cool temperatures and fiery colours of fall. 🙂