From an Ayurvedic perspective, summer is dominated by the fiery energy of pitta, one of the components of a person’s mind- body constitution known as prakriti. Everyone has some degree of pitta in their prakriti, which regulates body temperature, metabolism, willpower, intelligence and discrimination. Because pitta is associated with fire, it can tend to overheat during summer and throw you out of balance. If left unattended, an excess of pitta can produce inflammation, excessive hunger or acidity, aggressive behaviour and “hot”emotional reactions such as anger irritability, frustration and hatred.
To keep pitta from firing up too much during these hot months, begin fostering “coolness” in every sense of the word: slow down, chill out, swim and enjoy a light, fresh vegetarian diet.
The best asanas for pitta are those that are calming and not overly heating such as side bends, twists and wide legged standing and seating poses. Holding seated and supine poses without strain for several minutes is also beneficial. Provide ample time for supine poses such as restorative backbends, inversions and Savasana, whilst focusing on long exhalations to calm your body and nervous system.
Also the yogic practice of loving kindness (maitri) can soothe pitta-induced anger and reactivity. The practice is an excellent way to conclude your yoga practice and step out into the world. Cultivate loving kindness by repeating a short phrase or mantra that speaks to you of compassion -for example “May all people be safe, happy and well”.
Written by Scott Blossom
Yoga Journal, June 2008