Cooling Down with Ayurveda

Cooling Down with Ayurveda

Embrace Ayurveda-Inspired Techniques to Soothe Fiery Energy and Promote Wellness in the Hottest Months - By Magnolia Zunigua

Reading time: 4 minutes

In Ayurveda, summer is governed by the Pitta dosha, which is associated with the elements of fire and water. Pitta's qualities include heat, sharpness, intensity, and acidity. During the summer months, when Pitta is at its peak, it's essential to adapt your yoga practice to balance and cool this fiery energy.

When Pitta dosha becomes too high, physically, it can manifest as inflammation, skin rashes, acid reflux, and excessive sweating. Emotionally, elevated Pitta can lead to irritability, anger, frustration, and impatience. Spiritually, an excess of Pitta may cause a loss of focus, overwhelming drive, and critical nature, leading to a sense of inner turmoil. Incorporating cooling foods, calming practices, and mindfulness techniques to balance high Pitta can help restore harmony.

Here are a few examples of how your summer protocol

Focus on Cooling and Grounding Poses

  1. Forward Bends: Poses like Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) and Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend) help cool and calm the body and mind.
  2. Twists: Gentle twists like Bharadvajasana (Seated Twist) can help release excess heat from the internal organs and promote detoxification.
  3. Hip Openers: Poses like Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) and Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend) release tension and cool the body.

Slow and Steady Practice

Avoid intense, vigorous practices that can exacerbate Pitta's heat. Instead, opt for a slow, steady, mindful practice emphasizing relaxation and cooling. Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga are excellent choices for balancing Pitta during the summer.

Cooling Pranayama (Breathing Exercises)

  1. Sheetali Pranayama (Cooling Breath): Inhale through a rolled tongue and exhale through the nose. This breath cools the body and calms the mind.
  2. Sheetkari Pranayama (Hissing Breath): Inhale through the teeth with the mouth open and exhale through the nose. This practice also has a cooling effect.

Incorporate Moon Salutations (Chandra Namaskar)

Moon Salutations are a cooling and calming counterpart to the traditional Sun Salutations. They help balance Pitta's fiery energy and bring a sense of calm and relaxation.

Practice in a Cool Environment

Ensure your practice space is well-ventilated and cool. Avoid heated rooms, practicing in direct sunlight, or practicing during the hottest part of the day. Soothing music can help settle the mind and reduce Pitta's intensity.

End with a Long Savasana (Corpse Pose) or Yoga Nidra Meditation Practice 

Allow yourself extra time in Savasana to fully relax and integrate the cooling effects of your practice. Consider using an eye pillow and playing soft, calming music.

Yoga Nidra, often called "yogic sleep," is a powerful relaxation practice that guides you into a state of conscious deep sleep, where the body and mind are profoundly rested, yet the practitioner remains fully aware.

Mindful Meditation

Incorporate mindfulness or guided meditation at the end of your practice to further calm the mind and balance Pitta.

Hydration and Cooling Foods

Ensure you are well-hydrated before, during, and after your practice. Drink plenty of water and consider herbal teas like mint or chamomile. Eat cooling foods such as cucumbers, melons, and leafy greens to support your practice and maintain balance.

Sample Summer Yoga Sequence

  1. Centering and Breath Awareness: Start with a few minutes of seated meditation or breath awareness, focusing on slow, deep breaths.
  2. Gentle Warm-Up:
    • Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
    • Child’s Pose (Balasana)
    • Gentle Seated Twists
  3. Standing Poses:
    • Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
    • Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
    • Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
    • Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
  4. Cooling and Grounding Poses:
    • Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
    • Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
    • Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
  5. Closing Sequence:
    • Supine Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
    • Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
  6. Cooling Pranayama: Practice Sheetali or Sheetkari Pranayama for 3-5 minutes.
  7. Savasana (Corpse Pose) for 10-15 minutes or Yoga Nidra for at least 15 minutes

Summer's inherent heat can increase Pitta dosha, potentially causing various physical and emotional symptoms such as inflammation, irritability, and digestive issues. If left unaddressed, an imbalanced Pitta may contribute to conditions like ulcers, hypertension, and burnout. Incorporating cooling foods, calming activities, and a cooling and calming yoga practice can help maintain physical, emotional, and mental harmony.

By embracing these Ayurvedic* principles, you can enjoy a summer routine that cools the body, calms the mind, and supports overall well-being.

*commission earned from this link.

Magnolia Zuniga

Magnolia Zuniga, a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist with 17+ years of experience, develops personalized yoga practices for specific conditions, blending Ayurveda, Yoga, and Tantra