As summer approaches and the temperatures rise, we’ve got you covered at Rakta. In Ayurveda, summertime is pitta season. Pitta is the fire element. When it’s in balance, it gives us drive, motivation, and ambition. The summer heat can produce too much fire element in us, which can manifest as anger, GI upset, heartburn, joint pain, and skin rashes.
Summertime in Steamboat is full of heat. Many of us don’t use air conditioning. We enjoy being outside to hike and bike in the sun at high elevation. When we add in a hot yoga practice, we can end up with a lot of heat in the body and start to not feel so good.
Many hot areas of the country have busy hot yoga studios during the summertime. These communities usually have air conditioning and don’t recreate outside as much as we do in Steamboat. So how do we keep our cool and continue our practice?
If possible, practice heated yoga early in the day. The temperature inside the studio will be lowered slightly. Yoga postures change seasonally as well. During the summer, it’s important to keep the energy and breath moving in order to avoid creating too much heat around the heart or in the head. Summer may not be the best time to bust out a ton of headstands, arm balances, and other high exertion postures which can often induce breath holding. Instead, a slow, steady vinyasa practice may be a better idea.
Breath techniques such as sitali breath, curling your tongue like a straw or pursing the lips and inhaling, helps cool the body. What you eat after yoga is also important. Meeting up for margaritas, spicy salsa, and chili rich food right after a hot class may sound like fun, but adding more heat in the form of alcohol, chili peppers, and seasonings can increase pitta and leave you with heartburn and an stomach upset.
The body’s digestive fire is not as strong in the summer. Integrate cooling foods like watermelon, cherries, grapes, pineapple, cucumber, zucchini, asparagus, ghee, milk, and rice as well as spices like fennel, mint, and coriander. Avoid spicy foods and foods with heating properties (tomatoes, radishes, onions, ginger, and mustard). Beverages shouldn’t be ice cold as that can disrupt the digestive fire. Carbonated beverages should be avoided.
The most important guide to pitta and hot yoga in the summer is to be aware of how you feel. If you don’t have any issues, that’s great! If you find yourself getting angry at your houseplants, consider looking at your diet, the times of day you’re outside, the time of day you practice yoga, and the temperature of your showers.
In light and love,