Any activity in the summer can get strenuous. These are the months when our bodies generate the most heat. To combat the warmer temperatures, we eat refreshing fruits, seek the shadiest spots and relax near the water with a good book. Inherently, we are searching to balance summer’s intensity.
The practice of yoga and ayurveda can also help to alleviate any excess heat that we experience in these months. Ayurveda recognizes that we all possess individual constitutional types or doshas in mind and body. Vata, pitta and kapha are the specific doshas and the categories by which the science of ayurveda is designated. Someone’s dosha can be determined by their body type, their temperament or even by the kind of food, exercise and lifestyle they favor. But we all gravitate toward a specific dosha in certain seasons.
Warmer temperatures tend to aggravate or even initiate a pitta constitution. In general, pitta is associated with fire. It is identified by a strong metabolism, good appetite, oily skin and hair, irritability, intensity, and inflammation. Emotionally, when there is too much heat or passion in the system, pittas demonstrate anger and aggression.
But the practice of yoga has ways to balance the heat in the body and reduce pitta tendencies. When the heat is equilibrated, the pitta person becomes dynamic, focused and determined.
In order to pacify the heat associated with this season, there are certain yoga postures to move toward and others you may want to avoid.
Curb Inversions. Any pose where you are upside down, from standing forward bends to headstands, will move energy and heat to the head. If you want to invert during these months (especially on the hotter days), I recommend you to insert Viparita Karani into your routine. It will provide the benefits of recirculating in a mild, calming manner.
Create a Compassionate Vinyasa Practice. This is definitely something you’ll want to incorporate into your summer yoga routine. Take your normal sun salutation effort level down to 75% and discover the calming effect of a soothing, slow-moving flow. My suggestion is to substitute plank with 1/2 plank, take cobra instead of upward dog and spend a few extra breaths connecting the postures.
Soften Your Curves. Many traditional backbends can be heating. Again, this doesn’t apply to all of the back bending postures. Supporting a bridge pose with a block can be very peaceful and you will still receive the benefit of opening the front body. Salabasana or locust pose is another welcoming backbend, particularly when you extend the breath within the posture. It is important to emphasize spinal extension in these backbends.
Unleash Tension with some mild twists. The gentlest is the reclined revolved belly twist. Allow the breath to release the muscles and the mind will follow. It is also a wonderful posture to regulate digestion which is a powerful component of the pitta dosha.
When a pitta constitution is balanced properly, one should feel a sense of coolness, calmness, openness, patience and tolerance. Even in the midst of a hot summer day!
If you are interested in exploring ayurveda more, look to my previous posts linked below.