Thursday, June 30, 2011


Staying cool and balanced

According to Ayurvedic seasonal cycles, summer is considered to be Pitta season, where the energetic principles of fire and water are strongest. It is during summer that Pitta dosha, inherently driven by solar force, is most predominant, as it is comprised of the fire and water elements.

Pitta dosha is the expression of radiant energy, both within our bodies and in the universe. As we move in and out of the Summer Solstice it is a time where the Earth is receiving the most sun, heat and radiant energy thus bringing the qualities that are sharp, hot, bright, and penetrating. We mostly feel the drying effects of this time of year via the hot sun and for some areas dry winds as well. Ayurveda considers this a time of dehydration that occurs both inside and outside the body. Following the principle of like increases like we follow a summer guide based on Pitta pacification measure to balance what is predominant in our environment.

The key qualities or gunas of Pitta are hot, sharp, light, liquid, spreading, slightly oily and fleshy smelling. When these attributes build up within the body due to wrong diet and lifestyle, Pitta accumulates and begins to manifest various imbalances. This imbalances can more easily arise in the summer whether you are of Pitta prakriti or not. However, for those with Pitta in their constitution this season is an especially sensitive time of the year for you because during the summer season, due to the hot quality, Pitta people become more susceptible to heat related ailments.

Signs of increased pitta in the body include:

-excessive body heat

- heartburn

- hyperacidity

- peptic ulcers

- acne

- irritation, impatience, anger, frustration

- skin rashes

- diarrhea

- early graying of the hair or falling hair

The Pitta person is prone to a low tolerance for heat, sunshine, or hard physical work. When out of balance emotionally, the sharp quality of Pitta arouses aggression, irritability, anger, hatred, judgment, criticism, and jealousy. Special care must be taken in order for them to remain cool, calm and peaceful. In general, to balance Pitta, we learn to apply its opposite qualities to any given imbalance. For example, if a person has eaten chili peppers, making their mind sharp and agitated we counterbalance with cooling foods, remedies and practices.


Due to the strong properties of the sun and the body’s need to stay cool and release internal heat Ayurveda correlates this in terms of internal Agni in the body. Meaning that Agni is pulled to the extremities to keep the body cool and therefore digestive Agni is compromised weakening our digestive capacity. That is why in the summer we are often less hungry and want to eat less. So it is good to eat lighter and smaller meals during this time of year.

Increase sweet, bitter, and astringent tasting foods that are light in nature. Eat plenty of bitter salad greens such as lettuce, arugula, radicchio, basil, and endive are particularly Pitta balancing. Include cool drinks and raw foods in the diet, including cucumber, mango and coconut water. Natural fruit juices without added sugar, mint teas, and raw berries are good choices.

Reduce sour, salty, and pungent tastes

Lifestyle Recommendations

Since the stomach, liver and skin are the principle seats of Pitta dosha, simple cleansing techniques aimed at these regions are commonly employed in the summer months.

- Upon awakening, do some yoga asanas, including Chandra Namaskar. The emphasis throughout your practice can be on surrendering, forgiving, softening and being gentle with yourself – a cooling, grounding sadhana.

- Spend time outside before 10 am and after 5 pm. Avoid being outdoors during the hottest times of the day.

- Practice cooling pranayama after your asanas. Either Shitali pranayama or left-nostril breathing will cool and calm the hot quality of pitta dosha. Be sure to release any remaining internal heat from within the body before meditation.

- Give yourself a slow and loving full body massage before taking a shower. Use Pitta massage oil, Coconut oil or Sunflower Oil.

- Essential oils of rose, sandalwood, jasmine or lavender are cooling

- Drink a tea of cumin, coriander, fennel and rose to pacify the hot quality, improve digestion and calm the mind. Mint tea.

- Wear clothing of light texture and color. Excellent choices would be cotton, linen and silk of white, blue and green. Red and yellow shades tend to increase the fire that is already present.


- maria

Monday, June 13, 2011

the yoga of cat-walking ............

"the cat walkers" - they are famous to all who visit me and observe this most curious phenomenon of taking cats out for a walk. I've had the pleasure of observing this peculiar activity for 9 months and pondering the reasoning behind putting both of your cats on leashes and strolling about (yes there are two of them!). And perhaps some of you out there may have seen this before but for me this was foreign and eccentric.

But then after many months of observation I realized that for the owners it is a very meditative practice. Cats on leashes do not run around or jerk and pull one in various directions looking for the next tree or fire hydrant to "mark". They observe, sit and watch. There is not much to do while walking the cat as they they glide and stealthy move about planning each step with care. Unlike dogs, cats pause in observation and marvel at the slightest movement or blade of grass. They are present to each moment: walking in stealthy awareness. So naturally the walkers take on the same prowling, meditative demeanor. Rather then darting from place to place they glide and stare out into the grass watching and admiring their domesticated cats on leashes as in peaceful, active meditation. There is a sense of calm and tranquility as no one seems to be rushing.

There are many paths to finding peace and tranquility and many forms of Yoga - for my neighbors clearly they are finding samadhi in nature with their cats on a leash.

And it appears they are not the only one with these same thoughts as some have even captured it on video (special note that this cat is much more active then what i've seen).

Monday, March 14, 2011

Flow into Spring with Ayurveda

Flow into Spring with Ayurveda

by Maria Garre, March 2011

As we welcome the wonders of Spring time with warmer weather, rains that nourish the soil , and the migration, emergence of animals and plants from their Winter hibernation, we ourselves undergo an internal transformation as well. According to Charaka, a great Ayurvedic authority, 7 days before the Spring Equinox and 7 days after the Equinox is the transition time to slowly make changes necessary to effortlessly and healthfully welcome the new season. With the Spring Equinox a few days away, the time is now!

According to Ayurveda, Spring time is Kapha dosha predominant time, which brings the gunas (qualities) that are heavy, cold, dull, liquid, dense, slimy, and oily. Though this simple list does not seem to offer much information it is actually quite enlightening. These qualities have been prevalent since the Winter season (another Kapha time) but now in the Spring time whatever quality was increased in the Winter and not decreased during the Spring will adversely affect the health of the individual. Following the Ayurvedic mantra of “Like increases Like” we adopt the opposite qualities of hot, dry, sharp, mobile, and light to offset any imbalance.

We are all familiar with Spring allergies, congestion, sinusitis, and excess mucous. This is nature’s way of melting away our inner “snow”. Just as the mountain snow is melting down into the rivers making the rivers to flow along with increased rains, our bodies follows suit much the same way. As you can see the gunas are all prevalent in the very illnesses that are common during the Spring time. So this is the time to melt away what was built up in the winter and release any excess heaviness, mucous so that we may feel light, refreshed and renewed like the emerging Spring tulips.

Spring Tips:

  • Start to wake up 30 minutes before sunrise. Kapha time begins around 7 am therefore to not increase Kapha qualities in the body it is important to be up and moving before the sun is rising to move toxins and stagnant lymph accumulated over the night.
  • Morning dinacharya to include: neti, nasya, tongue scraping, abhyanga with heating oils (unless ama is present), dry brushing (2X per week), warm lemon water upon waking, early morning walk.
  • Clean up the diet. Just like we like to Spring clean our homes it is time to Spring clean your inner home. For Kapha predominant Prakriti this is considered a great time Spring detox. Ayurveda has specific Spring detoxification recommendations knows as Panchakarma.
  • Enjoy some type of daily exercise like daily walking. The best way to move excess heaviness and mucous is to move the lymph and blood that circulate throughout the body.
  • Slowly energize your Yoga practice with more challenging Asanas (backbends and arm balances are perfect!)
  • Avoid heavy and dulling foods like excess dairy, wheat, and cold foods.
  • Continue to eat warming foods and spice them up