This past weekend I shared in a yoga practice that was very near and dear to my heart with --Pacifying Pitta. It was so wonderful to have so many identify with needing to take time to "cool down" both physically and mentally as we welcome summer in Washington, D.C. Missed the workshop, but still want some of my tips? Here's what you can do this summer to cool down your pitta dosha:
First we must define "pitta"
The primary dosha (or earth elements) is fire. This element controls digestion, metabolism, and energy production. It's primary function is light or transformation. My recommendation for balancing this fire element in the body are through three key elements: 1) physical, pranayama (breath) and mental yoga practice 2) taming Agni (Sanskrit for digestive fire) through food, and 3) aromatherapy practice = essential oils.
1) Physical, pranayama and mental yoga practice
Combine a yoga practice that builds enough of a vinyasa flow to get rid of excess heat, but still can find a cooling element in the body. Ex: take Sun Salutations slowly and without any jump backs. Take time for longer seated work or a yoga practice such as yin or restorative to cool down both the body and mind. In our workshop, we worked with a longer and slower held pigeon pose, legs up the wall, and savasana that was complimented with a cooling wet wash cloth and Orange citrus essential oils.
Pranayama or breath work should be focused on cooling the body down. Practice taking your tongue into a roll (or commonly known as taco tongue). If you can't do this take it to the roof of your mouth. Make an "O" shape and inhale draw the breath in and close the mouth to hold. Take this 5 to 10 rounds.
Meditation or Mental Focus can help draw awareness to where we are heated in the body. The sensation of heat not only comes to the physical body in summer actually feeling like the skin is heated to touch, but mentally we may feel more frustrated, be more quick tempered, or irritable. Take time to sit still or lie down. Imagine yourself sitting or laying next to your favorite body of water. Allow this image to help bring a sensation of feeling refreshed or simply watch the waves in your imagination go back and forth from the shore. Perhaps allow your breath to mimic the waves (inhale the waves come onto the shore) and (exhale the waves go back out to sea)
2) Digestive Fire
Think about a camp fire. We want enough fire in our bodies to bring heat, but we don't want it to get so out of control that we cause a forest fire!! An excess of Pitta dosha can overheat the mind and body. The practice of Ayuveda recommends favoring cool foods and liquids in the summer months with a particular focus on foods with sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes. Foods that we sampled at the end our yoga practice were a blend of cherries, oranges, and fresh pineapples to help pacify pitta.
The blend that I diffused throughout our practice not only smells like a delicious margharita, but is helpful in bringing cooling elements to the body. I diffused about 4-6 drops of Lime and Spearmint essential oil mixed with water in my favorite Young Living diffuser. The diffuser can run up to 2 hours and serves to help clean the air as well as acts as a humidifier.
Essential oils can be used for aromatherapy, topically, as well as ingesting. I always recommend consulting with a Medical professional if you have questions before ingesting any oils. We had a sample flavor available for those interested in flavoring their sparkling water with the essential oils Lemon, Lime, Orange, and Grapefruit. These help bring flavor to a water. Grapefruit in particular has been known to help curb appetite, which is great for summer months. Topically we used peppermint essential oil on our temples during the meditation practice. Peppermint is a recommended oil in particular for pitta dosha to use to bring a sense of cooling. You could also make a blend with hot water and tea if you feel agitated or for those really hot summer days make an iced peppermint tea! Geranium essential oil were blended with a water aromatherapy spray to allow for a cooling sensation during backbending practice. This oil can be used and applied aromatically to help with balance in the body, which is fantastic for pacifying pitta.
The hot and intense nature of Pitta can be balanced by using cooling, soothing and calming botanicals such as essential oils. Oils that can be used are birch, brahmi, chamomile, champa, clary sage, coriander, fennel, geranium, jasmine, jatamansi, lavender, lemon balm, lemongrass, lime, mandarin, myrtle, neroli, peppermint, petitgrain, rose, sandalwood, spearmint, tangerine, tea tree, vanilla, wintergreen, yarrow, and ylang ylang.
The best oils to use topically as a carrier oil for heated months as a pitta dosha are sunflower, coconut and olive oils.
Questions on yoga or essential oils? Maybe interested in ordering essential oils you can use this summer to bring cooling? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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