I was having a conversation this morning in the Mysore room about still feeling the elements of 'Spring Time Kapha' 😉 and it got me thinking about how summer is known to represent the Pitta season! I went back to my notes and found an article by Lisa Munger. I thought I would share for those who might be noticing a few shifts during these summer months. Even though this summer might not be intensely hot, you may still be feeling the element of 'fire' 😉🔥
"In Ayurveda, often called “the science of life” and a sister art to yoga, Pitta dosha represents the meeting of two of the five elements: fire as mediated by water. For the summer season, the other elements, earth, air and space (or ether) take a backseat to fire for many individuals with higher amounts of the element in their natural constitutions.
Your constitution (also called dosha or Prakriti) is determined at the moment of conception, according to Ayurveda, and pervades throughout a lifetime. Ayurveda views our bodies, minds and spirits and a microcosm for the universe as a whole; just as the elements compose our external world, they also account for our individual human make-ups.
Accordingly, as summer ratchets up the heat index, as it does the fire element, in the universe, and in our individual bodies. We all have some amount of the fire element, however, usually one or two elements predominate, and if fire is on the top of your list (or your loved ones’), you make notice a few uncomfortable shifts in the summer season.
Signs of high Pitta in the body: skin rashes, acne, premature graying/balding, heartburn, acid stomach, diarrhea.
Signs of high Pitta in the mind: irritability (particularly after being exposed to heat or Pitta-provoking circumstances), competitiveness, egoism, envy, quick-to-anger.
So you see a sign or two of high Pitta in yourself or a loved one? What to do?
Well, first recognize high Pitta is sometimes prized as virtuous in American culture, so it can be hard to ferret out as an imbalance in the first place. Work tons of overtime? Great! Rewarded by your boss. Push yourself to your limits physically? Great! Rewarded by cultural perception as hard worker. Take every challenging variation your teacher offers in your hot yoga class? Great! Rewarded as feeling like a rockin’ yogi!
None of the above behaviors are inherently negative. Just a few examples to show how easy it is in American culture to mix up “working hard” with the fire element run amuck. If our practice, yoga asana, meditation, or otherwise is to be bringing us closer to balance, to union with the Divine, sometimes recognizing when your fire is too high can equal a hit to the ego. That’s the rocks on the path to the Self.
So now that you’ve set your ego to the side and recognized that you may need to quell those rising flames, what to do? Here are a few practical remedies you can do right away to set you on course for a cooler summer (at least for the mind and body).
1. Check in with your diet. Are you taking in foods that are whole, seasonal and fresh? To quell Pitta, emphasize the sweet (think: white basmati rice, most fruits and whole milk, not Snickers), bitter and astringent tastes. Try to avoid leftovers, using your microwave, spicy, pungent, salty and sour foods.
2. Evaluate your yoga practice. Consider “working” at 75 percent for the duration of the summer season. Emphasize twists, forward bending and less vigorous vinyasas and arm balances for the season. Notice: are you subtly competing with the person on the mat next to you? This is a good indicator that your practice, and your mind’s approach to it is aggravating your Pitta. Attempt to emphasize play, lightness and (gasp!) fun in your yoga practice so that your movement is not directed toward a goal, but rather involved in the process.
3. Cool off. Take a tablespoon of aloe vera gel (not juice) as a Pitta tonic every day to quell your fire. Do abhyanga with coconut oil once a week (or more). To really quell fanning flames, consider coating your scalp (hair included) with coconut oil, wrapping it in a towel or even plastic wrap for a particularly sexy site (and yes, I’ve done this myself!) for bed. When you wake up, wash it out with shampoo and not only will your hair feel great, but you should notice less burning in the mind and body as well."
by Lisa Munger
A Soothing Summer Meditation
For thousands of years, yogis have begun their day with spiritual practices that honor the sun: surya namaskara (sun salutations); surya trataka (a master practice that involves gazing at the sun); and a walk at sunrise to absorb the early morning rays. The sun is the source of all life. That’s why summer is the perfect time to recite the Gayatri mantra, the Vedic song of sunlight, during meditation.
To learn the Gayatri mantra, read Awakening to the Sun: The Gayatri Mantra. For more pitta-pacifying health tips, read How to Balance Pitta in the Summer.
If you are interested in learning more about Ayurveda join us for our upcoming workshop.
PRACTICAL AYURVEDA FOR
with Harmony Slater
Saturday September 28
1 - 3pm
Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga. It is the
traditional healing system in Indian and is
5000 years old. Ayurveda takes into account
the entire person, mind-body-spirit in its approach
to creating greater health.
In this workshop we will learn about Ayurveda’s 3 constitutional principles and how your own unique constitutional principle effects your experience of life.
We will learn how to cultivate more balance in your
daily life in routine in relation to your individual
nature, which will help increase your overall
sense of well-being and healing.
The Doshas and Life Cycle:
- Daily Effects
- Seasons & Climate
- Stages of Life
- Agni, Prana, Ojas
The Yogic Life in Harmony with Ayurveda:
- The Gunas
- Creating a balanced practice of yoga