An Ayurvedic Approach to Coping with Anger and Irritability

Ayurveda is approximately a 5,000 year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in India. Both Tibetan and traditional Chinese medicine have their roots in Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the science of life (Ayur meaning life, and Veda meaning science or knowledge). Ayurveda offers guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet, behavior and appropriate uses of our senses. Ayurveda constantly reminds us that heath is the balanced integration between our environment, body, mind and spirit.

Ayurveda describes three fundamental energies that govern our inner and outer life, known as Vata (Wind), Pitta (Fire), and Kapha (Earth). These three forces are responsible for the characteristics of our body and mind. Each person has a unique proportion of these forces, known as doshas, yet most people have one or two elements (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) that predominate. For example, when Vata is balanaced a person is lively and energetic, and even clairvoyant. Yet, when there is too much movement (Vata) in the system a person can experience symptoms of anxiety, dry skin, constipation, insomnia or distractibility. When Pitta is balanced, a person is warm, friendly or disciplined. Yet, when Pitta is out of balance, an individual can experience bouts of anger, irritability, indigestion or inflammation in the body. When Kapha is functioning in a balanced manner, a person is kind, supportive and stable. When Kapha is out of balance, a person may experience depression, sluggishness, sinus issues or congestion.

Additionally, these three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha – govern not only our own constitution, but also seasons and everything else in the cosmos. From an Ayurvedic perspective, the Vata season is from late fall into early winter; Kapha season is from the coldest part of winter into spring; and Pitta season includes late spring into early fall. Understanding the qualities of each season can enable you to diminish any adverse health effects you may be experiencing.

Keeping in mind that we are now in summer, which is the Pitta season from an Ayurvedic perspective. Hence, individuals whose constitution is predominately Pitta may notice an increase in bouts of anger or irritability. An excess of Pitta is essentially an excess of heat (fire) in the body. Here are some tips that can help balance out the Pitta dosha during late Spring to early Fall:

  • Substitute raw foods for cooked foods. Steer towards salads or raw vegetables whenever possible.
  • Use coconut oil as a substitute for other oils such as sesame or almond oils which tend to be warmer and heavier. Coconut oil is light and cool in nature.
  • Invest in a metal tongue scraper (sold at Whole Foods) and begin your day scraping your tongue of ama (toxins).
  • Avoid spicy foods. Although Pittas often prefer spicy foods, these spicy foods increase the heat in the body and tend to aggravate the Pitta dosha.
  • Avoid foods that are pungent, salty or sour
  • Incorporate fennel more into your diet. You can even chew on it after a meal or mix fennel seeds into your water to calm down acid in the stomach.
  • Do not skip meals (including breakfast) and do not wait to eat until you are famished, which is often common of Pitta-types.
  • Laugh a lot, everyday
  • Perform 5-10 min. daily abyanga (self-massage) in the morning with coconut oil which helps the lymphatic system, nervous system and circulatory system.
  • Stay cool. Jump in a lake or walk in the woods. Be out in nature!

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