Ayurveda states we are all comprised of three main doshas or physical gunas. We’re born with a specific constitution that is influenced by our diet, exercise, and thoughts, as well as by nature. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata means wind or that which moves and is the prime force of the nervous system. Pitta is bile or that which digests things and is associated with heat. Pitta gives us light and luminosity when balanced. Kapha means phlegm or that which holds us together, providing nourishment and substance. All of us have the three elements within us and they can get out of balance rather easily.
Pitta, or fiery heat, can be aggravated in the summer. All that heat can manifest as responding to stress with anger and impatience, competitiveness, skin inflammation, and literally burning ourselves up.
To stay balanced, we need cooling, expanding asanas to create more Vata or lighter energy. In general, focus more on forward bends, twists and restoring poses to quiet and calm your system. Placing more emphasis on the navel and solar plexus chakra where Pitta resides in the small intestine is highly effective. Focus less on backbends or handstands, which can raise our heat levels.
If you only have a few minutes to chill out, try Sitali Pranayama or Pascimottanasana:
In Sanskrit, Sitali translates to cooling and this Pranayama technique will definitely lower your heat level. Sit comfortably, close your eyes and take a few deep, even breaths. Then, stick out your tongue and roll the outer edges up so your tongue looks like half a straw. Inhale for a count of 4 through your “straw,” close your mouth and retain the breath for a count of 2. Keeping the lips closed, exhale through your nose for a count of 4. Repeat this at least 5 times, but preferably 10 or more. Enjoy the coolness from the inside out!
From a seated position, extend your legs straight out in front of you for Pascimottanasana or Seated Forward Fold. Inhale, lift your arms high and exhale, fold forward from your hips. Reach for your big toes or outside edges of your feet. If your feet aren’t accessible, use a towel or strap to connect. Each inhale lengthen your spine, each exhale soften into your forward bend. If your hamstrings or lower back are tight, put a slight bend into your knees. Close your eyes and remain here for up to 1 minute. Forward bends are cooling and calming.
Check out this week's chilled out classes:
Kylie Larson / Yoga to Unwind
This is the perfect class to do at the end of the day or after a workout, run, or cycle. You will open up the hips, quads, and hamstrings, and do some gentle twisting to rinse tightness and stress away. This a well-balanced and relaxing flow that you will want to return to time and time again.
Patrick Montgomery / Neck Nirvana
This practice helps release tension from the neck, shoulders and upper back. This sweet, slow, short sequence includes seated twists, lunges and shoulder stretches and winds down with restorative variations of Setu Bhanda (Bridge Pose) and Savasana (Corpse Pose) that will leave your heart light and your neck feeling so much better.
Jackie Casal Mahrou / Daily Decompression (FREE CLASS)
This class will help decompress your spine, increase mobility, and relax your mind. You will move through postures that elongate your spine, as well as postures that open your chest, shoulders, neck, and hips. This class is great for an evening unwinding, or really any time of the day that you need to loosen your body and free your mind.
Alanna Kaivalya / Loving Kindness Mediation to Open the Heart
The practice of loving kindness opens the heart and makes us more available for joy, gratitude, worthiness and connection. This meditation practice guides you gently through the age old practice of loving kindness, or metta, and gives you a new perspective on people in your life.
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