According to Ayurveda, we’re in pitta season, which brings warmth and activity. The summer’s fiery energy fuels your desire to get out there and do things—like picnics, camping, and pool parties. And after a long winter cooped up inside, the urge to be more active and social makes sense. But all of that heat and action can also lead to burnout, irritability, and exhaustion. That’s because overdoing it can cause anyone, no matter their dosha, to feel overextended.
Pitta-season challenges can show up in your body and attitude as physical and mental flare-ups: rashes and acne, an agitated mind, and a quickness to anger. But paradoxically, the excess heat and humidity that accompany the season can also help you cultivate balance.
For starters, warmth encourages fluidity and flexibility. Hot temperatures can also remind you to pause and surrender into the present moment. Slowing down can help you to make smart choices about how you move and breathe, and about what you consume. A still, calm mental state also allows you to remain open to possibility, which is the opposite of rigidity. From this discerning place, you can feel more clarity, relaxation, and ease as you move through your day.
Ayurvedic wisdom supports turning inward to listen to what you need. It also offers you ways to customize your yoga practice so that you can feel and function your best, no matter how high the temperature rises. These Ayurvedic guidelines will help you to navigate pitta season with ease and grace.
Let go of “shoulds”
Excess pitta energy can show up as judgment toward yourself or others. Judgment is your ego’s way of trying to assert control—of dictating how things “should” be. This approach can make you mentally rigid and emotionally tight. The antidote to judgment? Compassion. Setting an intention to be kinder and more sympathetic can soften your ego’s controlling grip and invite a healthy, fluid openness in your body and mind. Cultivating these qualities helps you connect with others and to accept friends, family, and strangers as they are, without feeling the need to control or change them.
Combine strength and openness
Playing on pitta’s strengths is a smart way to moderate its excess. For example, practice a mix of poses that build inner heat along with shapes that help you stay fluid. Vigorous asanas such as lunges and plank variations offer heat-building stillness and help you invite in an attitude of self-appreciation to balance any hot-tempered, judgmental energy the season’s warmth may have kicked up. Poses such as Ustrasana (Camel Pose) and variations of Skandasana (Pose Dedicated to the God of War) usher in ease, openness, and flexibility, particularly in your hips—the svadhisthana chakra—and in your heart, the anahata chakra region.
Find grace in your transitions
Prioritize powerful yet gentle transitions during your asana practice. Flowing movements encourage the body to ramp up the production of synovial fluid, a thick liquid which protects joints. This soothing, meditative approach to movement also calms your nervous system and mind by tamping down stress hormones such as cortisol while encouraging your body to release naturally calming neurotransmitters including gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). The following sequence offers you pitta-perfect guidance.
Pitta season practice tips
- Beat the heat. Practice early in the morning or late in the evening to beat midday’s intense temperatures and invite cooling, clarifying energy.
- Pace Yourself. Rushed motions can aggravate pitta by overstimulating the body and mind. Incorporate longer pose holds, anchoring to your breath to help you focus and open to the present moment.
- Wrap Yourself in Light. Wear light colors and materials such as cotton, linen, or other natural fabrics that allow for airflow.
- Pause. If you feel overheated, invite in cooling energy: Pause more in the practice, take modifications as needed, and gently slow your breath down.
A sequence for pitta season
Marjaryasana–Bitilasana (Cat-Cow Pose)
Come to Tabletop. Inhale, lift your sacrum, and tip your hip points back as you arch your spine and open your chest for Cow Pose. Then exhale, tuck your chin, curve the back, and scoop your belly in and up for Cat Pose. Repeat 3 times.
Bharmanasana, Variation (Tabletop)
Return to Tabletop. Brace your core, inhale, and push through your hands. Exhale, and lift your knees 6 inches off the ground. Hold, hovering for 3-5 breaths. Return your knees to the earth.
Anjaneyasana, Variation (Low Lunge)
From Tabletop, step your left foot to the inside of your left hand. Lift your torso. Interlace your fingers behind your back then place them on your sacrum to lengthen your low back. Inhale, and lift your chest. Arch your back as you exhale. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Vasisthasana, Variation (Side Plank Pose)
From Low Lunge, frame your left foot with your hands. Put weight on your left palm. Turn your body to the right. Lift your right leg to hip height, stacking your hips. Bend your right knee and grab the foot with your right hand. Hold for 5 breaths. Return to Tabletop. Repeat on the other side.
Virasana, Variation (Hero Pose)
From Tabletop, shift back to sit on your heels (or on blocks stacked between your feet). Draw your fingertips back behind your feet. Raise your hips up off your heels and lift your torso skyward. Lower and lift 3 times. Hold the last lift for 3 breaths. Then drop your hips and return to Tabletop.
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II)
From Tabletop, step your left foot forward and extend your right leg out behind you, lifting the the knee off the floor. Stack your left knee over the ankle. Spin your right heel down. Lift your torso, then extend your arms at shoulder height. Hold for 3 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Viparita Virabhadrasana, Variation (Reverse Warrior Pose) to Utthita Parsvakonasana, Variation (Extended Side Angle Pose)
From Warrior II, flip your front palm up. Lean your torso back as you sweep your back arm forward across your lower belly. Then, lean forward as you exhale and switch the arms. Repeat 3 times. Return to Warrior II.
Skandasana, Variation (Pose Dedicated to the God of War)
From Warrior II, straighten your left leg. Turn your toes toward the long side of your mat. Bend your right knee and shift your hips back. Fold over your left leg and reach toward your toes. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Return to Warrior Pose II. Repeat on the other side. Return to Low Lunge.
Plank Pose to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)
From Low Lunge, step back to Plank. Draw your navel in and up. Inhale, let your hips melt down slightly, arch your back, and press your chest forward between your upper arms. Exhale, re-engage your low belly to return to Plank. Repeat 3 times. Return to Plank. Lower your knees to Tabletop.
Ustrasana, Variation (Camel Pose)
From Tabletop, lift your torso and stand on your knees, positioning hips over knees. Reach your right hand back and hold your right heel. Inhale as you sweep your left arm up. Exhale, bring your arms down and lower your hips to your heels. Repeat on the other side. Repeat 3-5 times per side.
About the Author
Michelle Briks Prosper is the founder of Ohra Yoga and Wellness and Ohra Yoga Collective Virtual Studio, a collaboration of yoga instructors streaming classes and workshops. She is also the cofounder of Empowered Female Living, a holistic women’s wellness conference. Michelle has been teaching yoga for 14 years, earning certifications in vinyasa and Prana Flow styles, anatomy, and Ayurvedic yoga therapy. Learn more at ohrayoga.com.