Okay here's a question for you: Are you hot or not?
It seems like a pretty trivial question, but it's one worth asking every time you step on your mat, especially in the heat of the summer. Why? Because our bodies are constantly giving us signals about the state of our health and wellness.
BUT we rarely listen. Heat can show up in SO many ways (warm hands and feet, redness or irritation, anger, hunger), and it can end up in many ways too (inflammation, rashes, ulcers, diarrhea, acne, rage).
Every yoga practice is an opportunity to listen, learn, and take steps to find balance.
You're probably hotter than you think.
According to Ayurveda, summer is pitta primetime. It's when our internal heat rises along with the heat outside. It's also when issues related to pitta are most likely to occur, although they can actually happen any time of the year.
Have you been feeling a little testy lately? Have you been breaking out like a teenager or showing your “hangry” side? These subtle (or not so subtle) signals are very often the earliest signs of imbalance, and since they can be part of our common experience of summer, we don't always notice them! Leaving them unchecked creates an opportunity for them to escalate. Can you say “fire alarm!"
The good news is, there are lots of ways to beat the heat. Cooling foods, calming scents, chilled out experiences, and your yoga mat are all great ways to start!
So for arguments sake, let's just say you're smokin' hot! Managing your internal fire from the mat might look a little like this…
The Pitta Salutation
Pitta energy is hot, sharp, light, intense, and expansive. It pushes us to our limits and kicks moderation to the curb. It's the energy that makes extreme sports, workaholics, Las Vegas, and staying up WAYYY past your bedtime possible. And it's wakeup call is typically burn out.
This summer sun salutation is aimed at slowing the pace and dialing down the intensity. It's a cooler and calmer version of a typical sun salutation that's aimed at moving the body and mind without creating tension. And yes, it's likely to drive the typical “adrenaline junkie” nuts, but that's only because they're the ones who need it most!
How to Do It
The beautiful thing about fire is that it's a living, breathing thing that can sustain or destroy. The pitta balancing mantra is: cooling, calming, moderation. So our goal with this practice is to tend the flames rather than extinguish them.
Move through the practice with an open, easy manner. Keep on the lookout for tension or a competitive spirit. Step into a “committed but not attached mindset,” and channel your inner penguin. Here's a video to show you what I mean.
The video features a couple of iterations of the sequence to get you started. Take it slower than you think you can (or should). Tune into the mind's response and then the body's. Use it as a kick-off to a longer practice or as a quick and simple “slow it on down” moment when you need it. Oh, and let me know what you think!
Once you get the hang of fire fighting, we'll consciously turn up the heat in our next and final version. You guessed it, “The Kapha” will make it's stimulating debut soon…so stay tuned!
p.s. Practicing pitta yoga near water increases the pitta calming goodness, so find a beach or lake or put on a watery screensaver!