Best practices to take advantage of the Summer fire element.
Summer is one of my favourite seasons of the year. Brings me memories of lazy Sunday siestas, warm evening walks, the smell and taste of fresh figs and juicy watermelons, and school holidays! Today I’d like to share with you some tips on how you can improve your overall wellbeing in summer.
This season is all about having fun and thanks to the longer hours of daylight (in the Northern Hemisphere), being outdoors and spending more time with friends.
Of course, nothing screams summer more than going to the beach, sunbathing and swimming in the sea. Ah… The pleasure of dipping in cool water after seating or lying under the hot sun… especially if you grew up in the Mediterranean, like me!
It’s that combination of fire from the sun and coolness from the water that we should consider when we do our summer yoga practices too. In summer, the Pitta dosha, consisting of the fire and water elements, rules.
So, let’s approach our practices with a balance of fire and water, hot and cool.
If you tend to do always energetic practices, like Vinyasa, perhaps it’s time to consider longer savasanas, yoga nidra, or yin and restorative practices to balance the fire. And if you’ve been lacking a bit of energy during the darker months… maybe try some energising flows.
What is Pitta and how can affect me
Pitta is one of the three Ayurvedic doshas, or qualities, and each person’s unique constitution contains a combination of all three, although one quality tend to predominate.
Ayurveda divides the year into three seasons based on the predominant forces in each and Pitta dominates the summer in most parts of the Norther Hemisphere.
Pitta drives healthy digestion, productivity, passion and it’s great for making decisions or starting projects… But if you are already a Pitta individual, an excess of this dosha can manifest in higher irritability, frustration, excessive body heat or digestive problems.
There’s an energy shift in summer which empowers us and brings about more energy. As the fire element is strong, this might also bring out the passion in us. Love, hobbies, new projects, and a sense of adventure and that anything is possible!
So, how can we harness the power of fire whilst balancing the Pitta dosha? Like everything in life and yoga, he answer is in balance… and listening to yourself and your body. Do you need to stoke a bit more the fire of passion, or perhaps cool down a bit that temper?
What can you do for your wellbeing this summer?
This is the season of fresh food, salads and plenty of juicy fruits. So take full advantage of it! There’s a reason why our body crave salads in summer, it’s trying to cool down that pitta!
- Stay hydrated: drink plenty of water, or even better, coconut water! it contains essential minerals like zinc, magnesium, calcium and sodium and it will definitely keep you well hydrated.
- Eat fresh fruits, or make smoothies. Also great too keep you hydrated are these water-rich fruits: watermelon, berries, grapefruits, pineapple, peaches and mango. When I was in Turkey we used to have fresh slices to watermelon every evening before bed, better than ice cream!
- Salads, salads, salads. Renew your love for salads and try different recipes. They are easy to prepare, to store in the fridge and even put into a container to take to the park for an impromptu picnic! You can prepare salads with melons and cucumbers; herbs such as mint and cilantro; with quinoa or other grains; with pasta or baby potatoes; even with vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, peppers, etc. The list of possible salads is endless. Play with it.
The sun is still high late at night, so it’s still very light and we are full of that fire energy, so we can’t sleep. In summer we tend to go to sleep later than in the darker months. Don’t worry, it’s fine, our body can take a bit less of sleep because of that pitta energy… but we might overdo it, and stretch the time for bed a bit later every day. Well, I know I do.
Lack of sleep can make us more irritable and suddenly all that energy and passion is transformed into… well, have you seen a toddler that hasn’t slept much?
- Take a siesta. Ah yes, I’m a big fan. I grew up being forced to take siestas, which as a child I resented… but I really learned to appreciated them, especially because it allowed me to stay awake and energetic until late at night. The trick is to make sure it’s a short nap! 30 restful minutes is enough.
- Or try Yoga Nidra instead. A wonderful practice that will restore your energy. I’ve been practicing yoga nidra regularly for years now and it’s a wonderful type of meditation. I don’t have any recording currently to share with you but I can recommend a few. Jennifer Piercy is one of my favourite teachers and you can find some of her recordings here or in the Insight Timer app.
- Unwind with a coconut-oil foot massage. Coconut oil is cooling and can help promote a good night’s sleep. Massage just a small amount for around 5 minutes. You’ll feel a sense of luxury and relaxation.
- Do some yin or restorative yoga before bed. Or even ON the bed before sleep. Make the transition into sleep with very gentle movements that will calm your body and mind and ease you into a deeper sleep. If you have ever taken a yin class before, you are probably aware of how relaxing it can be. If you haven’t, don’t worry, I’ve actually recorded a class to help you sleep that you can do from your own bed. PRESS HERE or see below.
3. Movement and Reflection. A short Ritual.
The Bhagavad Gita famously states: ‘Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self’.
Lately I’ve been playing with introducing more reflection time in my asana classes, mainly in workshops. I truly believe that one of the many benefits of doing yoga asanas and mindful movement is an increased creativity and an openness to explore and dive deeper into ourselves.
The beginning of the summer is more or less half way through the year and it gives us a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon our past achievements in the year so far and to visualise the new goals we want to achieve in the following months.
And the energy of the sun, with all that pitta fire, help us feel more active, so it’s a perfect time to stretch, move our body and maybe even exercise outdoors. So, let’s put moving and writing together.
I’ve come up with this short ritual to help you harness the power of the inner summer fire.
- Find a space free of distractions. Close the door for the next 30 minutes (or more if you wish). Maybe light some candles or incense to intensify the sense of ritual, or arrange some fresh flowers! Up to you.
- Start with some gentle movement. Try this gentle 10 minute gentle practice that will help stoke your inner fire. Or if you have more time, try this 20 min energising practice.
- Journaling time. You don’t need to work on the 3 prompts at once. You can pick one at the time, and do this ritual more than once. Prompts:
- What have been your achievement so far this year? I am sure you’ve done things you didn’t even think were possible. What are you most proud of so far? Look back in your diary and list them.
- Summer’s element is fire. What’s your inner-fire, your passion? Reflect and acknowledge what moves you forward? What’s your driving force?
- With that fire and passion… What would you like to cultivate this season ahead? Is there something (a project, a relationship) you’ve been neglecting? or perhaps a new adventure. Write 3 steps you can take towards achieving that goal/project.
I’d love to know if you tried this mini-ritual and how it went for you! Leave me a comment below or email me directly
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