Moving into the warmer months, it is important to shift our yoga practice towards calming and cooling in order to balance pitta. Pitta is made up of the elements of fire and water. It is characterized as fire, doesn’t move on its own and needs the assistance of wind or vata. The word pitta translates as “that which cooks” and it is this dosha that helps us to digest. Unbalanced pitta can often result in emotions of anger and resentment and physical ailments such as hyperacidity, ulcers and acne. This dosha resides in the small intestine area so it is beneficial to practice asanas that put gentle pressure on the area of the abdomen and solar plexus. Over the next several months try focusing on the calming and cooling effect of these asanas:
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated Twist) From a seated position place the right foot to the outside of the left leg (optionally, tuck the left leg under so both knees are bent). Hug the right knee into the chest with the left arm and twist to the right. Place your right hand on the mat behind your back. With your inhale, feel the full length of your spine. With your exhale, rotate and draw the abdomen inward for gentle compression. Practice 5 breaths and then reverse the instructions for the other side.
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) Lie face down on the floor or yoga mat. Rest your forehead down as you place your hands, palms down, under your shoulders. Make sure the tips of your fingers are in line with the middle of your chest and the tops of your feet rest fully on the ground. Engage your elbows towards each other and back towards your tail as you lift your chest and head with an inhale. With an exhale, lower the forehead back to the floor. Do this a couple of rounds using your back muscles more than your arm muscles. Then try holding the asana for 5 breaths or more and gradually use more arm muscle action to lift higher. Be cautious to not pinch the low back area and always keep a slight bend in your elbows.
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) Lie face down on the floor or yoga mat. Bend your knees and reach back to take hold of your ankles. Pause here with your forehead resting on the floor so that you can feel your abdomen region become soft and open. Ensure that your thighs are drawn in towards each other and with your inhale, press your shins up and back, lifting the thighs and and torso through the pull of the arms. Hold for 5 breaths and release the pose on an exhale. Try a modification by placing a yoga block at the top of the solar plexus on the floor. As you lift into the bow pose, your upper torso will be resting on the block, assisting the gentle pressure and opening of abdomen and solar plexus. Ask your trusted yoga instructors for more pitta balancing asanas and other tools to stay cool during the summer. Namaste.