The season of mellow fruitfulness is almost with us.  Time to anticipate your holiday by the sea, to change to lighter, cooler foods, to plan to catch a music festival and a garden show.  How different we feel from just a few months ago when the cold, damp days and short night were with us.

Ayurveda is the most ancient health tradition on earth.  It explains the change of mood and differing desires that come with the onset of a new season.  Ayurveda understands that the season arises within you – you also are a creature of this land of changing times.  Summer should mean more than just a change of clothes.   So if your mind-body changes with the season, you need to change your ways in order to keep balanced.

Summer is pitta season.  Pitta is one of three fundamental dynamics in life, as explained by Ayurveda.  Vata and kapha are the other two.  Pitta is the process of transformation, the fire in your nature.  Whether you digest your breakfast or assimilate the morning news, this is due to pitta.  Vata is responsible for all movement within you, and kapha for all your structures.  For health, according to Ayurveda, all these three should be kept balanced.

Pitta is hot in nature and is found especially in the stomach, liver, eyes and skin.   Since pitta is hot, we need to keep cool in the summer.  This explains our natural tendency to chill out and plan a holiday.  Chilling out is even better if done by the sea, because water balances the fire of pitta.  Or by the lakes.

Just having fun is a great tonic for pitta.  People with a lot of pitta tend, anyway, to be fun loving. That is how they keep their balance.  So make sure you schedule into your diary plenty of fun this summer.  Doing so is excellent for your health.  Also make sure to schedule in that music festival, as music also soothes pitta.

Diet is important for balance and health.  So naturally, in summer, we are drawn to pitta reducing foods.  These include the leafy greens, as in salads.  We prefer cool foods and drink at this time.  But Ayurveda says that ice in drinks is not a good idea as it disturbs digestion.  Plenty of fruit and some fruit juices are good.  Avoid the hot spices such as curries and take mild spices like mint, coriander and cinnamon.  Dairy is good but not fermented – which means cheese and yoghurt – are out.

By choosing this summer fare the pitta organs of stomach and liver are soothed. As skin is a pitta organ it should be protected from too much sun.  Use a sun-screen ointment.  Also as eyes are pitta wear your shades.  As beauty soothes the eye as well as pitta, visit that garden exhibition.

What is apparent is that these are things that you would naturally tend to do in summer.  Not doing them would allow your pitta to increase.  Increase of pitta could lead to poor quality of life and even health problems.  Road rage in August is an example.

One beauty of Ayurveda is that it reminds you of what you know you should be doing and what you would like to do.  Even better it gives you the best of reasons to do it – your own better health.

Dr Donn Brennan MB BCh BAO, MRCGP, MScAyu

Dr Donn Brennan was one of the first western medical doctors to train in Ayurveda in India.

He qualified in medicine in 1979 at University College Dublin. During the following decade he worked in different specialties in hospitals and then became a Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners and worked as a G.P. In 1982, after a nine month training course, he qualified as a teacher of Transcendental Meditation. For eighteen months during 1984-1985 he studied Ayurveda in America and in the Government run Ayurveda University in Jamnagar in Gujurat state, India. In 2005 he earned a Master’s Degree in Ayurveda at Middlesex University in London.

Since 1990 he has worked fulltime promoting, lecturing and consulting in Ayurveda and teaching Transcendental Meditation and has lectured and consulted in almost all the major cities in Ireland and Britain, as well as Iceland and the Channel Islands. He has featured in many newspaper articles and on radio and television programmes.

In 2005 he became the founding President of the Ayurvedic Practitioners association in the United Kingdom.