Balance Your Practice Using Ayurveda: Pitta in Depth

Last week we began a 3-part series exploring how to use Ayurveda in your yoga practice to balance your body with the climate around you.

Ayurveda, the preventative lifestyle that balances the body with your environment is a beautiful tool to use during the summer months. According to Ayurveda, summer is associated with Pitta, the fire element. Pitta is known for its sharp, hot qualities. When in balance the qualities of Pitta are intellectual, focused and energetic. When out of balance Pitta can produce anger, poor digestion and irritability.

During the summer months the temperature is hot and our plates are filled with long, activity packed days. This can increase the Pitta in our body and make us feel out of balance. The good news though: that’s what Ayurveda is for, identifying what we have too much of so we can even it out.

Think: if you are already hot would you really put on a warm sweater? No. It’s the same when working with your environment. In the cooler months we all take pleasure in warm drinks and cozy fires. We gladly counter our cool days with warm choices. However, in the summer, instead of cooling ourselves off we add to the heat with excess exercise and activities.

Balance: Slow down. Maybe you don’t need that hot yoga class 4x a week in July and August. Instead, focus on your meditation practice or take a soothing Yin class. If you are still craving movement in your yoga practice, take it slow, stay low to the ground. Enjoy low lunges that open the body and release tension in the hips. One of my favorite cooling exercises is Sitali breath. In a seated position let your palms rest on your thighs and close your eyes. Curl your lips together as if you were going to blow out a candle and curl the edges of your tongue toward each other. Take a slow, deep inhale through the tongue, hold the breath at the top then exhale out of your nose.

Tap into the power: Despite the heat there are times when you still must stoke your inner fire. To tap into the power of your Pitta practice Kapalabhati or Breath of Fire. Again, begin by taking a comfortable seated position. Start by breathing in and out through your nose. Bring one hand to your belly. With a full inhale, quickly pull the belly toward the spine to exhale. Continue this quick breath cycle for 15-30 breaths to start. Always slow down or stop when you need a break.

To close out our series, next week we’ll explore Kapha, the earth element.

Happy cooling!