A guest post by Katia Grodecki
In Ayurveda, summer is known as Pitta season. Those people whose primary constitution is Pitta will be the ones who will most strongly experience the effects of the season, resulting in feeling sluggish and tired in the heat of the summer. Regardless of your primary constitution, we all are feeling the effects of Pitta. To counteract them, the focus in the heat of summer should be on slow, mindful movements and cooling poses. In turn, these practices should also help quiet the mind.
It’s best to practice either early in the morning, at around 5 a.m., while greeting the sunrise, or wait until the early evening, once the sun starts to set and the air cools. Personally, I prefer to practice early in the morning when I have the most energy. The summer is a perfect time to get into the habit of rising with the sun and going to sleep shortly after sundown, in order to regulate our circadian rhythm.
This short Pitta-balancing practice focuses on deeply but gently opening the heart, the hips and cultivating gentle core strength to allow you to root down and feel mellow.
Please note that this sequence is designed for practitioners who have had some exposure to yoga and are familiar with the basic poses mentioned below. Remember to consult your medical professional before starting this or any other exercise program.
1. Sukhasana / Easy Pose
Sit cross-legged on a block or bolster in order to elevate the hips. Stay rooted through both sit bones and elongate the spine. Relax the shoulders. Alternatively, you may wish to lie down in Savasana. Practice inhaling into the belly, the ribs, and the chest. Exhale the air from the chest, ribs, and belly. Try to make the exhalation twice as long as the inhalation. Stay here for a few minutes.
2. Cat and Cow
Move through Cat/Cow, allowing your breath to lead the way. Inhale as you elongate through the spine, lifting the chest and hips toward the sky. Exhale and reverse the movement, scooping the tailbone toward the heels, pressing the palms of the hands firmly into the mat, and lifting the navel toward the spine. Continue for 8 full rounds of breath.
3. Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward-Facing Dog
Bring the spine to a neutral shape, with the pelvic floor and navel lifting upward. Curl the toes under and move into Downward-Facing Dog. Move easily through Downward-Facing Dog, pedaling out through the feet, bending the knees if you need to. Keep the shoulders soft and the triceps hugging in toward the midline. Spin the inner thighs back and keep the core engaged. Stay in Downward-Facing Dog for 5-8 breaths.
4. Anjaneyasana / Crescent Pose
From Downward-Facing Dog, bring the right food forward between the hands, ensuring that the knee is over the ankle. Root down evenly through both feet, energetically pulling the right foot toward the left. Square the hips by moving the right femur back into its socket, wrapping the left hip toward the front. Lift through the pelvic floor and the belly as you continue to root down through the legs. On an inhale, float the arms up, keeping the shoulders soft and the torso lifting. Stay here for five breaths and on your last exhalation, bring the hands down.
5. Utthan Pristhasana / Lizard Pose
Bring both hands to the inside of the right foot. You may use a block under the hands to keep the heart lifted and the spine long. Keep the fingertips on the floor, rooting down through the legs, squaring the hips, or bring the forearms down to the mat or to a block. Keeping the spine long, breathe in the pose for 5-8 breaths.
6. Downward-Facing Dog (see No. 3)
7. Repeat Crescent Pose (No. 4) and Lizard Pose (No. 5) on the left side.
8. Downward-Facing Dog (see No. 3)
9. Balasana / Child’s Pose
Kneel down, pressing the forehead into the mat while lowering the hips toward the heels. If the forehead does not easily reach the floor, feel free to use a bolster or block under the forehead. For sensitive knees, use a blanket under or behind the knees. Stay in Child’s Pose for 5-8 breaths.
10. Viparita Karani / Legs-Up-the-Wall
Place your mat close to a wall and sit sidewise on your mat with either your right or left hip close to the wall. Lean back on your hands and forearms, and with the knees bent, rest the feet onto the wall while slowly lowering the torso down. Adjust by moving the hips closer or farther away from the wall. You may also slide a folded blanket or bolster under the hips to elevate the hips. If your lower back is sensitive, feel free to bend the knees and move the hips farther away from the wall. Continue to breathe deeply with the eyes closed, staying in the pose for several minutes.
11. Savasana / Corpse Pose
Lying down on your back, with the shoulder blades moving comfortably down the back and the chest lifted, allow the hands and feet to flop open toward the ceiling. Breathe easily and stay in this pose for several minutes. An eye pillow or a small towel placed over the eyes is a great prop to help you draw deeper into the pose.
When you’re ready, make small movements with the fingers, toes, wrists, and ankles. Hug the knees into the chest and wrap the arms around the shins. Roll over to one side and using your hands for support, slowly lift yourself back up to a seated posture. Sit up tall for a few moments and notice the quality of your breath, your mind, and the space you have created in your body. Appreciate how you’re feeling in this moment.
ABOUT KATIA GRODECKI
Katia is the co-creator of Dharma Wanderlust, a blog that documents one family’s exploration of a lifestyle nourished by mindfulness and creative expression. Katia started practicing yoga in 1998 and has been leading classes since 2011. For more information on Dharma Wanderlust: