If summertime is leaving you feeling hot and bothered, how about a tall glass of yoga to cool you down?
According to Ayurveda, the `wisdom of life’ and yoga`s conceptual counterpart in holistic Vedic tradition, yoga can do this and more when King Heat comes to town. In the Ayurvedic universe, the five elements of earth, air, fire, water and ether mix to produce three distinctive doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These consist of air and ether, fire and water, and water and earth respectively. Through a belief in the interconnectedness of everything, Ayurveda prescribes a system for the fulfilment of health by maintaining the balance of body, mind and spirit via a balance of the doshas. So what role can yoga have in maintaining a healthy relationship with everything this summer? Between respites from the sweltering heat and humidity by the might of overzealous indoor AC units, the fire-water Pitta aspects of summer makes itself known. Many become susceptible to a Pitta overload when temperatures rise – impatience, aggression, agitation and exaggerated desire for competition are mental symptoms of Pitta imbalance, says Ayurveda, whilst skin rashes, acne, stomach digestion issues and hair loss manifest in the physical.
Keep a cool head this season with the calm, contemplation-inducing actions of yoga. Recommended poses include those that stretch the front body and place pressure on the solar plexus and
small intestines, the seat of Pitta energy. Forward bends, side stretches and gentle backbends expel excess heat in the body whilst twists promote balance . Check out Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)
below for a heart-opening remedy for the stress of the Sun.
1. Following a light warm-up, lie face-down on the floor, bringing legs parallel and hands under the shoulders.
2. Press the palms, tops of the feet, thighs and pelvis down into the ground whilst hugging the elbows in towards the torso. Pull up the knee caps and rotate the inner thighs.
3. On an inhale, straighten the arms to raise the chest. Keeping the neck in alignment with the spine, activate the shoulders in downward and backward movement to prevent them rising up around the neck. Lift the sternum upward whilst
4. Engage the back muscles to facilitate the backbend, using the arms for support in a manner of strength, not force. Accommodate a bend at the elbow in order to allow for the pubis and upper legs to maintain contact with the floor throughout the lift, or straighten arms if flexibility offers the space to do so. Avoid compression in the lower back by firming the abdominals and distribute the backbend evenly through the spine with a localised awareness of each vertebrae`s contribution in space. The buttocks are firm but not stiff.
5. Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds or 4 to 5 cycles of open, relaxed breath.
6. Upon an exhalation, bend the elbows to lower the chest to the floor.
By Corinne Pitt