Cool Your Practice with These 3 Simple Asanas

Summer is the season of Pitta. It's the energy of warmth, changing, and the meshing of water and fire. And as the atmosphere becomes more and more pitta-driven, your body will naturally echo this change. Internally, your pitta balance will shift, potentially leading you to some of the effects of an imbalanced pitta dosha. These include conditions relating to some of your largest and most important organs, including your skin and liver.

While you should constantly reflect on diet and how you can use foods to help balance yourself internally, you also have another tool at your disposal: yoga! Yoga is a great way to open up your body, increase circulation, and help shed excess pitta energy. This is done by balancing your pitta dosha in the same way you balance it with food – a lesson in opposites. Rather than practice hot yoga, find a cool area to practice. What's more, rather that practicing burning asanas, that increase body heat, you should focus on cooling, opening poses, that encourage your body to breathe, cool, and relax. Generally, asanas that help balance the Pitta dosha put emphasis on places around the naval and solar plexus region, which is where the small intestine (and pitta) resides.

Here are 3 such asanas:

Asana 1: Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

Camel Pose UstrasanaUstrasana, or Camel Pose, is one the great asanas that help balance your Pitta dosha. Like other in this series, this asana helps calm the body and prevent overheating – the asana itself isn't especially a fiery pose, though it make take some work to get into it completely.

Here's how to perform the asana:

  • Begin kneeling and standing on your knees, with buttocks in the air.
  • Place your palms on your bottom
  • As you press your thighs and pelvis forward, extend the lower back downwards, creating an arch.
  • As you progress, move your hands down to you heels, tracing the thighs, to legs, and outward.
  • Extend your neck outward, bringing your chin up.

As you will feel, your inner body – abdomen and chest especially – will be opened greatly. Hold the asana for a few breathes, allowing the energy to migrate throughout the body.

Asana 2: Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

Half-Moon-PoseThe next asana in this series is ardha chandrasana, or the Half Moon Pose. This asana make look difficult at first, with limbing seemingly going in all directions, but you'll find that with a bit of effort, you'll be able to nail it every time.

  • You'll be performing this on the right side of your body to start (see the picture in case you're confused!)
  • Begin standing normally, feet flat on the mat.
  • With your left hand resting on your left hip, inhale and begin to bend your right knee, moving it forward (almost a sprinting position).
  • As you bend your knee forward, about 6 to 12 inches in length, keep your left toes touching the floor.
  • Keep your right heel firmly planted in the ground and breath, then straighten your leg as you bring it upward
  • In tandem, stretch your right hand downward toward the floor, as you lift your left arm up toward the ceiling
  • Keep your torso faced outward, not downward toward the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.

Asana 3: Utkatasana (Chair Pose)

Chair Pose UtkatasanaThe last pose in our series is Utkatasana, or chair pose. This is a fairly simple pose, but too offers an position that encourages an open, breathable, and extended chest.

  • Begin in Mountain Pose with feet hip distance apart
  • Turn your toes slightly inward
  • Slowly rotate your femurs, and on exhalation, bend the knees to sit it what might be an imaginary chair (that's why it's called chair pose)
  • Reach outward with your hands, above your head. Do so in a way that doesn't cause your body to clench or become hot
  • Breath fully and hold the asana
  • Note: You can perform this asana with your back arched at both an acute angle (more forward)  or obtuse, straighter with the back.

Cool Your Pitta Dosha with Yoga

Combining these simply asanas with healthy, refreshing, and cooling foods is one of the best ways to encourage a balanced pitta dosha this summer. For more information about doshas, check out our short guide on the three doshas and what they mean for the seasons and your body.