When anger tries to take over, cool down with these five ayurvedic remedies.
All inspired by the esteemed doctor Vasant Lad, these antidotes have something else in common: the goal of bringing the pitta dosha back to normalcy. While pitta has it’s (many!) good points when in balance, imbalanced or disturbed pitta can lead to anger and hostility.
Just like the pitta dosha, which has hot, fiery qualities, anger can literally make us feel hot and fiery; red-faced and steaming. Anger is always unpleasant– no matter if it’s expressed as rage or if it’s bottled up and buried inside.
These remedies are great for cooling physical and mental heat and keeping your temper at bay.
1. Practice the cooling breath.
Sheetali and sheetkari pranayama are two cooling breathing exercises that can fade away anger. To practice sheetali pranayama, sit comfortably. Close your eyes and curl your tongue into a tube. Slowly inhale through your tongue. Notice the coolness of the breath. Close your mouth and slowly exhale through your nose. Repeat this about 12 times.
If you can’t curl your tongue, you can practice sheetkari pranayama: lightly close your teeth and press your tongue against the back of your teeth. Open your lips and inhale through your teeth, which has a similar cooling effect. Close your mouth and exhale through your nose. Repeat about 12 times.
2. Massage your feet with coconut oil.
Coconut oil has cooling properties. Rubbing the soles of your feet with coconut oil before bed helps to cool down pitta. Bhringaraj oil can also be used, and either oil can be rubbed onto the scalp to release heat. As an added bonus, bhringaraj oil is super good for healthy hair growth.
3. Drink a cooling tea.
Herbs with cooling properties can also turn down the heat. Try this tea recipe: mix one teaspoon of chopped fresh cilantro leaves and a half teaspoon of chamomile leaves and steep them in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Strain, let the tea cool down, and drink. Both chamomile and coriander have cooling energies that calm pitta, and chamomile helps to balance emotions.
4. Put some ghee in your nose.
If you’re feeling hostile, dip your finger in a little bit of ghee (better yet, bhahmi ghee if you have it) and gently rub it on the insides of your nostrils. Ghee, which is clarified butter, is cooling, smoothing and nurturing. As you inhale and breathe in the ghee, the mind grows calm and anger dissipates.
5. Take the heat out of your diet.
People who are prone to anger should generally avoid foods that aggravate the pitta dosha. This includes spicy foods and super salty or sour foods. Take chilies, fermented foods, and sour citrus like grapefruits and oranges out of your diet and favor blander, simpler foods. Caffeine and alcohol can increase pitta, too, so it’s a good idea to limit them and replace them with more cooling drinks like water, coconut water, or the tea described above.
Reference: Lad, Vasant. The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies. New York: Harmony Books, 1998.
(This article was also published and featured in the Popular Lately section of elephantjournal.com.)