In conference we touched on the constitution of summer, suggestions for food with respect to the season, and suggestions for sustained practice on the mat and on the plate.
Summer is kapha season. Some of the qualities are heavy, dense, oily, slow. This quality of summer makes me think of one of my favorite songs by the artist Lana Del Rey “Summertimes Sadness.”
The element observed as agitated in summer is pitta (fire). Pitta balances Kapha, so it’s only natural to want to increase pitta in the body if kapha becomes too dominant. Working in the service industry I see the effects excess pitta, or what I like to call fire worship, regularly. When most someones drink a lot, tequila for example, that person may want to smoke. When they start to smoke they want to do other things to stay up and high. While the comedown is inevitable the desire to evoke fire is intoxicating, fun and sexy. For a time anyways.
These urges may be signs of imbalance in the kapha element. Once the pitta is stoked you’ve got yourself a lot of fire on your hands. Cravings for spicy foods, meat, and rage black outs (a term my co workers and I deemed when watching folks get REALLY angry over nothing at all) are also big signs of imbalance. Ever hear of the meat sweats? This is when the bodies digestive system begins to overwork and the body begins to sweat from the extra effort. Hot hot hot! All of this is dumping fire on fire.
It’s nice to stick with cooling, light, and energetic foods in the summer season. Buffalo has a great harvest selection this time of year. Some bodies can tolerate raw foods really well and a good salad with avocado and some cilantro mixed in can be just what is needed. I won’t say too much more on food as it’s a bit out of my wheelhouse. Banyon Botanicals and Kate O’Donnell are two of my go tos when I’m looking to get back into balance with food, yoga and life science. The pendulum is always going to swing. The idea is to not let it become a wrecking ball.
Pratyahara is a limb of ashtanga that breaks down into two sanskrit words. Prati which is withdrawal and ahara which is food (or meant to symbolize everything we take in.) Steadiness in our practice helps develop awareness around what throws us off center. This awareness happens organically without much effort in its direction. My teacher Sharathji says “the yoga grows in you.” I believe he was referring mostly to the ability to be with your urges and allow them to be without letting them take total control.
This practice of ashtanga yoga mixed with hatha yoga was designed for folks who’re householders. It is an incredible tool to help us navigate a complex world while striving to be good partners, daughters, sons, uncles, cousins, friends etc. by practicing love and kindness to ourselves and the world around us. The yoga allows us the opportunity to harness our power or siddhis to be a stronger force in the world around. Food and practicing putting sattvic ( energy dense food and positive experiences and thoughts) into the body is just one easy way to flirt with “plugging the energy leaks” as my teacher Angela would say.