As the seasons shift, our bodies cycle through an organic ebb and flow of change that serves to harmonize and create balance within us. These changes are usually influenced by the seasons, i.e. hours of daylight, foods that are plentiful that time of the year, weather, and seasonal activities. Although our bodies adjust to these changes naturally, it doesn’t hurt to adjust our routine to help aid in the transition and find better balance in our bodies.
During this week’s blog, we’ll look at an Ayurvedic approach to inner body balance.
What is Ayurveda?
According to the science of Ayurveda, our universe, which includes our bodies and our thoughts, is composed of the 5 elements: water, fire, earth, air, and space. The 5 elements blend in specific ways to create the 3 doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. Each of us has a dominant dosha that manifests in both our physical appearance and mental character.
According to Ayurveda, summer inspires the pitta dosha (which is a combination of fire and water). Pitta is driven by the solar force, so when the natural cycle of the seasons brings us to the sunny summer months, and the sun is closer to the Earth, we need to balance the hot, fiery external climate with our internal energy. Too much of one energetic force can flood our bodies. When we don’t balance pitta energy, we may begin to feel changes physically and mentally. Physically, we may experience an increase in body temperature, changes in skin, and digestive issues (i.e heartburn and indigestion). Mentally, we may feel more agitated, demanding, or lose our temper more easily. However, when pitta is in balance physically and mentally we are strong, sharp, and focused.
How do we balance that pitta energy?
During this time of year, a good counter for the sunny weather is focusing on activities and foods that are cooling. This approach will nourish your system and help increase your energy levels.
One of the best ways to encourage equilibrium in your body is through your yoga practice. Here are some yoga poses you can include in your daily routine that will help balance and regulate your body during the summer months:
- Supported Bridge- place a yoga block beneath the low back.
- Legs Up the Wall- Keep your tailbone flush against the wall and your legs straight up.
- Forward Folds- complete these seated or standing.
- Twists: seated or lying on your back.
After you complete your asanas (yoga poses), weave in one or both of the following cooling pranayama (breath work):
- Shitali Pranayama: This technique is done by curling the sides of your tongue towards one another and sticking your tongue out through your lips. Inhale through your rolled tongue and exhale out through the nose. Repeat 5-20 times.
- Single-Nostril Breathing: This technique isolates one nostril at a time. Plug your right nostril and breathe in and out through the left nostril for 5-20 breaths, then switch sides.
Food is a great way to help balance the body. Here’s what you can do to align your eating with the summer season:
- Eat vegetables and fruits that have a high water content: melons, cucumbers, and leafy greens.
- Keep things light and cool. Enjoy foods that aren’t dense and heavy.
- Stay hydrated! Drink lots or water or even try drinking electrolyte-enhanced or coconut water.
- Incorporate herbs and spices into your cooking that reduce the pitta dosha (i.e. mint, fennel, cilantro, cumin, and coriander).
Although your body will instinctively crave balance as the seasons shift, it’s also beneficial to help aide your body throughout the seasonal shift.
If you want to learn more about Ayurveda, join Sam from Empower Yoga on Saturday, July 29th from 1:00-2:30pm. Sam will guide you through a pitta reducing asana practice followed by a discussion on how yoga, diet, and self-care can help to balance the pitta dosha. You will learn other yoga poses, foods and spices, and self-care rituals to add to your daily routine to help balance the fire in you this summer.