In the world of Ayurveda, we are now in the summer season (June-August), which means whenever summer arrives in your geographical location, you will have a stronger relationship with the elements fire and water for three months. Ayurveda views the physical body, along with everything in the Universe, as being composed of the five primary elements; earth, water, fire, air, and ether or empty space. These elements are expressed in the physical body as qualities of stability/support (earth), feeling/fluidity (water), heat and metabolism (fire), respiration and circulation (air), and space and lightness (ether).
When the fire and water element are out of balance, it creates a dosha called Pitta. In Sanskrit, dosha means, “that which spoils or causes decay,” as they are not only the forces which produce and sustain the body in their normal condition but those which, when out of balance, serve to destroy it. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each element can help you make daily choices that reinforce health and wellness for the season. As my teacher Scott Blossom said, “It is important to work in a way that ‘feels right,’ but also consciously cultivates complementary traits, such as grounding and stillness for the air type, or coolness and relaxation for the fire type in order to strike a balance.”
To help create balance, consider one of the classic Ayurvedic sutras that says, “like increases like and opposites balance.” This ancient wisdom can be extremely helpful when creating your daily rituals around the seasons.
Asana Advice for the Pitta Season
- Let each asana practice be soft, intuitive, forgiving, creative, and emphasize surrendering in order to prevent overheating.
- Perform all asana or sports in a way that is non-competitive, nurturing, and playful! Practice vigorous sports or asana in the early morning.
- Incorporate counter-balancing postures for poses that create heat such as Sun Salutations, balance poses, strong backbends, etc.
- Practice with your eyes closed.
- Emphasize a cooling breathing pattering during practice where the exhalation is longer than inhalation. Holding the breath out after exhaling has a powerful effect to concentrate the mind, which stabilizes your agni, purified essence of fire.
- Practice shitali or left-nostril breathing after asana.
- Try the Metta, Loving Kindness meditation to release anger.
- Never miss a meal, especially if you are have a Pitta constitution!
- Eat cooling, sweet, bitter and astringent foods (coconut, cucumber, watermelon, all the fresh fruit in season, steamed greens, multicolored salads, watercress, endives, mung beans, basmati rice) and avoid spicy and fried foods.
- Drink cumin, coriander, fennel and rose hot tea. Cilantro, cucumber, and mint are great additions to water for a refreshing beverage that will cool you down.
- Eat few dairy products and meats (unless you are doing intense physical activity)…they are too yang!
If your digestive fire is weak, try this for a week or two until your digestive fire improves: Cook together equal parts of: brown rice, lentils, and sun flower seeds. Eat 1-2 cups daily for 2 weeks. This will also improve body heat.
- Give yourself a full body massage before showering. Coconut oil is best.
- Enjoy the rose, sandalwood, jasmine or lavender essential oils to relax the senses.
- Wear light colored clothing, loose cotton, linen and silk (ex. White, blue, green) so air can circulate between your clothes and your skin.
- Do inside cooking early morning in the morning before it gets hot.
- Spend time in Nature, swim, retreat, and enjoy the moonlight.
Melina Meza, BS Nutrition, 500-RYT. Melina has been exploring the art and science of yoga and nutrition for over 16 years. She combines her knowledge of Hatha Yoga, Ayurveda, whole foods nutrition, and healthy lifestyle promotion into a unique style called Seasonal Vinyasa.
What is Seasonal Vinyasa – Yoga for the Seasons?
Seasonal Vinyasa describes an artistic style of sequencing asana and seasonal daily rituals. The main inspiration for Seasonal Vinyasa comes from the Hatha Yoga and Ayurveda traditions, two complementary sciences that promote health in body, mind, and spirit. While inspiring the self-knowledge to adjust your day-to-day choices and align with what is occurring outside in nature, Seasonal Vinyasa emphasizes the teachings of the yogis—that there is no separation between humans and nature.