According to Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science), summer is the season of the fiery pitta dosha. Pitta is one of three basic Ayurvedic mind-body types, which also includes vata and kapha. This summer, beat the heat with deliciously-cooling yoga foods.

Calm the Pitta Fires

Summer’s long, hot days and intense sunlight can produce an accumulation of the pitta dosha in our bodies and minds. We’re all familiar with the effects of too much sun and increased pitta, like sunburn, redness, rashes and skin problems, and an overheated digestive fire. Ayurveda and yoga philosophy recommend that we balance pitta’s fire and escape summer’s swelter with pitta-reducing foods. Summer is the perfect time for cooking and eating outdoors and enjoying pitta-harmonizing salads, raw fruits, and cool herbal drinks. 

Cool Yoga Foods for Summer

Pitta-reducing foods to incorporate into your summer menu include:

  • Whole Grains: brown basmati rice and quinoa
  • Leafy Green Vegetables: dandelion greens, lettuce, kale and collards
  • Fresh Vegetables and Herbs: cucumbers, celery, artichokes, scallions, mint, cilantro, and coriander
  • Dairy Products: yogurt, cottage cheese, and ice cream
  • Fresh Fruits: mango, pineapple, grapes, melons, apples, dates, and coconut

Summer Snack: Raita

Quench pitta’s flames by enjoying cool, yoga-inspired salads, known as raitas. In ayurvedic cuisine, raitas are a delicious mixture of finely chopped vegetables or fruits and fresh herbs that are folded into cool yogurt. Raitas can be served as a cooling accompaniment to balance savory dishes and grilled foods.  Raitas can also be enjoyed on their own as a first course, a light lunch, or a snack. Raitas are simple to make and can include your favorite pitta-cooling fresh fruits or vegetables from your summer garden or favorite market.

Recipe: Yoga Raita

Try your favorite pitta-calming fruits or vegetables in this cool yogurt salad. Serve Yoga Raita as a refreshing accompaniment to savory dishes or on its own as a snack or light lunch.  


– 1 cup whole, low-fat, or non-fat plain or Greek-style yogurt
– 1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and diced cucumber (or your favorite fruit and/or vegetable)
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (or your favorite fresh herb)
– 1 tablespoon finely chopped scallion (optional)
– sea salt to taste


1.  Place all of the ingredients except the salt in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Season with salt, to taste.
2.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve immediately.

To learn more about yoga foods, diet, and recipes, download a free sample from Elaine Gavalas’ book “Yogi in the Kitchen: New, Expanded Edition.”

You can buy Elaine Gavalas’ books here.

Elaine Gavalas is an exercise physiologist, yoga therapist, weight management specialist, nutritionist and healthy recipe developer.

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