That means the dog days of summer are in full swing. And although summer brings with it the welcomed gifts of warmth and leisure, summertime weather can have harsh effects on the body and mind. Luckily, with a few Ayurvedic adjustments to your yoga practice, the sultry summer days will feel more like a breeze.
Ayurveda is the science of life.
In Sanskrit, ayur translates to life and veda means knowledge. Thus, Ayurveda is the science of life and sister science to yoga. Ayurvedic practices explore ways to care for the body to achieve optimal vitality. This time of year, Ayurveda suggests one should pacify the pitta dosha.
Pacify a what? Pitta dosha.
Ayurveda suggests there are three main doshas or constitutions: vata, kapha, and pitta. For our purposes, it is easiest to think about these in relation to the seasons. Vata is most closely associated with autumn and early winter. Kapha is the cold, dark days of winter and early spring. And pitta is the fiery months of summer and early fall.
The term pitta translates to “that which cooks.” Therefore, its elemental quality is fire, and it is often described as hot, sharp, light, and spreading. It is the space of energy and transformation. For instance, the energy of the sun is strongest during the pitta season. And it is the season between renewal and shedding—the in-between of transformation where growth and fruition are at their peak. Because pitta is responsible for digestion and metabolism, it is also associated with the element of water with descriptions such as moving and liquid. The combination of fire and water for pitta is important, for it is water that will extinguish the spreading fire.
So here we are in full swing pitta. Even if you are a summer sun worshipper, there might be a few adverse pitta qualities you’ve noticed in the body and mind. For instance, this time of year, it is common to develop skin irritation and rashes. Some people tend to develop inflammation of the joints during the pitta dosha. For others, the summer weather incites digestive issues. It is also common to feel more irritable and frustrated than normal. Tendencies toward perfectionism can increase. Like fire, the manifestations of pitta are intense and often spread physically or energetically.
If you find yourself falling into any of these categories...a pitta pacifying yoga practice might be in order. Keep in mind that a pitta pacifying practice isn’t necessarily about cooling the body. It is more about cooling the mind. So you do not need to overhaul your current practice. Instead, try a few of these tips in your home practice or during any class at Longwave:
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Set the intention of having fun and enjoying the experience of just doing yoga.
- Set your drishti or gaze no higher than the horizon or keep the eyes closed. Looking up is warming and energizing.
- Practice cooling breaths such exhaling out the mouth, fluttering the lips, or seethali pranayama (Roll the tongue or cheerio the lips and inhale through the mouth. Exhale out the nose).
- Find movement in your postures. Rather than remaining rigid and still, explore possibilities of movement. Get creative!
- Practice at a moderate pace with no more than 80% exertion.
- Add wide leg forward folds and more twists to your practice
- For more information about Ayurveda and pacifying the pitta dosha, visit HERE or consult your Longwave Ayurvedic Yoga teachers Kristen Stritter and Rebecca Warfield.