Balance Your Summer Heat Using Ayurveda
An Interview with Pauline Zweck, E-RYT 200 Certified Viniyoga Wellness Instructor
Summer. It’s officially here. It’s a time of excitement—travel, visiting friends, family celebrations, summer projects.
Summer. It also can be a time of excess—excess heat and humidity, over-scheduled social calendars, indulgent celebrations. We pack a lot into our short summers. They can become a whirlwind of activity. We may find our lives begin to match the intensity of the season.
To find balance, consider incorporating Ayurvedic principles into your physical or asana practice. Pauline Zweck, E-RYT 200 Certified Viniyoga Wellness Instructor, explains how Ayurveda can help when the summer heat—and busyness—is on.
First, some perspective. Ayurveda is an ancient health system, founded in India over 5,000 years ago. It teaches that everything is made up of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether or space.
“According to Ayurvedic teachings, each of us is born with a unique combination of these elements. This is your basic constitution, known in Sanskrit as ‘prakriti’. Your constitution never changes, and it’s expressed as doshas,” Zweck says.
The three doshas and their associated elements are:
- Vata (air and ether)
- Pitta (fire and water)
- Kapha (earth and water)
“When life starts happening—our diet, lifestyle, environment, and even the seasons—can put us in vikruti, or an imbalance of our doshas. Ayurveda, the science of life, suggests introducing opposite qualities to find balance and maintain good physical and emotional health,” explains Zweck. “In Ayurveda, the seasons are also assigned related doshas. Summer is known as pitta (fire and water) season. Even if pitta is not your basic tendency, this hot, fiery season may cause pitta imbalance in our bodies.”
If you are experiencing excess pitta, it may show up as:
- Skin rashes
- Excess heat in the body
“As someone with pitta as my dominant dosha, during the hot summer days the excess heat makes me quite miserable and I can feel irritable and impatient,” Zweck says. “However, when pitta is in balance, we have mental clarity, vitality, and are joyful to be around.”
So, how can you get to a more joyful place? Using the Ayurveda teachings that balance is found in opposites, Zweck shared these tips to try during your asana practice to cool and soothe your body and mind:
- Practice in a cool, dark room
- Practice before 10:00 a.m. or after 2:00 p.m.
- Keep your gaze soft at the horizon
- Let go of precision and rather find grace and flow in your movements
- Take time to pause—summer is not a time to be agenda-driven
- Relax effort to 70 percent
- Use forward bends, side opening poses, and simple twists to “vent” the “fire” in the solar plexus (naval and upward) area
- Lengthen your exhales to release any built-up anger or frustration
- Be aware of your back body as you breathe
For those new to Ayurveda, Zweck shared this quick, pitta-pacifying hand mudra you can do anytime, independent of an asana practice:
Bring the tip of each thumb to the web between the ring and little fingers of the same hand. Relax your hand and fingers and hold the mudra up to 5 minutes. The fire element represented by the thumb, bows to, and is pacified by the earth and water elements represented by the ring and little fingers.
Zweck recommends incorporating a few of these ideas into your practice. Notice how you might bring some of these ideas into other activities throughout your day. Your body, mind and spirit may welcome the balance.