Exercise in summertime – what is best?

In Ayurveda we differentiate between Vata, Pitta and Kapha seasons. Meaning that certain months of the year the qualities of that dosha are prevalent in nature.

Vata with her cold, dry, rough, light, irregular and mobile nature is expressed in autumn. A transitional season from the warm summer months to colder winter months. A season of change. Temperatures steadily drop, the wind is blowing from every direction (irregular), sweeping us from our bikes, we notice our hair and skin become more dry and we might even feel a little les grounded due to Vata’s light quality.

Kapha with her cool, stable, heavy, dull, slow, static and soft nature settles in winter time and extends till spring. The wind subsides and in return a thick pack of snow covers the streets, providing us its calm, stable and heavy energy. We slow down and draw more inward. A time in which we feel heavy, sleep more and nourish our body deeply.

Sooo different from summertime. In this time Pitta dosha prevails and she expresses her hot, sharp, spreading, light, oily, fleshy and liquid qualities. The sun is high, beating down her hot and sharp sun beams onto our skin. We feel awake, light and are more outgoing than in other times of the year. Qualities that we take advantage of by going out and exploring new places (Pitta has courage and self confidence, up to the point of thrill seekers), waking up early and going to bed late.

BUT………. don’t overdo it. There is one golden rule in Ayurveda:

“Like attracts like and opposites balance”

That means that Pitta season can trigger us into sun bathing, being overactive and eating and drinking foods that evoke Pitta even more. Like red meet on the BBQ or alcohol at a beach party.

As an effect Pitta will increase further (Pitta + Pitta = lot of Pitta) until a point where Pitta gets aggravated too much. How we experience this? If you’re feeling dehydrated, sweaty, or irritable, you probably have excess pitta. Other signs include skin inflammation, acidic stomach, burning sensations in the body, red eyes, and a flaring temper.

summer

This you don’t want of course. So…. what is a NO and what is a YES in order to keep your body from exploding into a Pitta-bomb in sense of exercise? Here are some tips.

  • Don’t exercise in the middle of the day when the sun is high. With real hot summer days not even after 8 am. Exercising in the evening is not recommended, even when it is cooler, you will still increase heat in your body which causes the mind to become more active prevending a good, calm sleep. If you do want to do something in the evening take a walk in the parc, or do gentle qi gong of yoga.
  • Don’t do hot yoga or Bikram yoga. I am sorry, this might not be a popular thing to say, but really doing Hot yoga is very very Pitta aggravating because of the hot temperatures and profuse sweating.
    Apart from the signs of aggravated Pitta mentioned above, hot yoga, in the long run, depletes your tissues (you literally burn them up) and decreases your overall vitality.
  • Are you a person that is overcompetitive and just can’t stand loosing? Then be mindful in summer time, competition, performance, anger all increase Pitta, making a hot-headed person to eat you alive if he is loosing a game. Rather focus on having fun together and enjoying the company of others. Or avoid competitive sports/games all together.

maroc1

So what to do then?

  • Water sports
    Water is cooling and balances the fire element in Pitta dosha. Swimming, surfing, diving, rowing are all wonderful sports in summer season.
  • Calming exercises
    Try cool and calming exercises such as yoga, gentle bicycling, roller blading and leisure walks alongside the river.
  • Yoga for Pitta
    Pitta people often choose a active Yoga practise (Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga etc). If you do so focus on the breath and create a gentle flow through your practice, giving 80% of your effort rather than 120% (or more, because Pitta’s can push themselves to the limit!).
    On the other hand, it would be good for Pitta to change the script some times and go for a more calming practice, such as Yin Yoga, Restorative Yoga or Yoga Nidra.
  • Calming and cooling breathing exercises
    Pranayama (breathing exercises) are a perfect way to calm your mind. The following are especially suited to balance Pitta:
    Sitali
    Sitkari
    Nadi Shodhana

Picture by ©KIRSTENVANSANTEN

At last, make sure you hydrate your body well. Coconut water is an excellent way for Pitta to hydrate and cool down. Other option is water with a some mint leafs making it into a lemonade.

Enjoy the summer and keep your head cool!

Love,

Alma Yoga by Amber

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