LONGWAVE YOGA BLOG
August: Lighten Up, Yogis!
As author Natalie Babbit writes, “The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning." August is the climax of summer’s wrath. Like the top of the ferris wheel, August is the still moment before the descent. But before we decrescendo into Autumn, we must brace for the ferocity of August.
According to Ayurveda—the sister science of yoga—the stifling heat of August derives from the pitta dosha. There are three predominate doshas or constitutions in Ayurvedic studies: vata (air and ether; mid-September to mid-January), kapha (earth, water; mid-January to late May), and pitta (fire, water; late May to mid-September). As we climb to the peak of the pitta dosha, it’s element of fire and water increases. Fire is intense; it burns, spreads, transforms, and even destroys. As such, in the midst of the pitta dosha, we might discover too much intensity in our own lives. This might manifest in the form of emotion or irritability. Or maybe you find yourself working harder than normal. In your yoga practice, you might push yourself harder than necessary. The intensity of pitta molds into varying shapes for different people. But despite it’s form, we feel pitta’s intensity.
This is not too suggest that fire or agni should be entirely extinguished. The element of fire is critical in our bodies and lives. Agni is the fuel for digestion and transformation. Like a farmer burns his or her fields to create fertile soil, our internal agni provides energy. It digests our food so that we can absorb nutrients. Fire is the powerhouse that gives us drive, ambition, and energy to succeed. However, if agni burns too hot or spreads too far, it can lead to over-intensity that (no pun intended) burns us out.
But things get interesting in our corner of the world. Saying Wilmington is balmy is an understatement. It’s hot! But it is also wet. Our predominate element in coastal North Carolina is water. That means even during the wrath of pitta, we must also balance the heaviness of kapha. Kapha’s energy is heavy and dense. As such, not only do we embody the intensity of pitta, but we might notice kapha’s density or “stickiness.” The humidity and wetness of Wilmington can lead to feeling stuck in our ways or possessive. It can even lead to feeling tired or lethargic during the summer months.
With the combination of fire and water, we must lighten up. By cultivating a sense of lightness in our lives, we can unload the intensity of August’s heat and the heaviness of kapha. There are a number of ways in which we can lighten up. We can eat cool, lighter, local, seasonal foods. Mother Nature is designed to produce the foods we need for balance. We can find less intensity and more playfulness in our practice. Move and flow more in your practice, and try not to take the outcome of your asana practice too seriously. It is also important to reduce emotional intensity this time of year. Cool the mind with a meditation practice and pranayama.
Stay cool, yogis!