I guess we can technically say that we're literally in the depths of the summer! It's hot, muggy, the sun is out, and truthfully I wouldn't want it any other way. I am so meant to always be in a balmy 85 degrees. But nonetheless, that doesn't mean I don't learn to live seasonally, which is what Ayurveda is attempting to teach us every day! Anywho...
I wanted to chat a little about healthy exercise and what Ayurveda has to say about activity and moving your body. It's super easy for us to get into this mode "beach body", but what does Ayurveda really have to say about exercise in the summertime?
When we think about moving our bodies in the summer, we have to first stop and think about Pitta...what is it doing? How is it manifesting? What will balance and throw it off it's balance? We go back to basics of Ayurveda.
Let's start with the qualities of pitta: hot, sharp, oily, light just to name a few. Looking at these, we want to think of things that are going to naturally balance them out in order to make it favorable for pitta. Now, inherently the idea of exercise is actually of the same qualities as pitta. So, what do we do?
This doesn't necessarily mean that we need to not exercise, it's just about exercising smart. Even pitta folk need to be challenged and motivated to take care of the body, and exercise is definitely one of those ways to stay motivated.
When looking at exercise routines in the summer, one of the first things we want to think about is avoiding activity in the middle of the day, especially between the hours of 10-2. That is prime pitta time, thus we want to stay away from that. Remember, a lot of activity can be pitta-aggravating. Utilizing the cooler hours of the morning is a great time to do your exercises, especially in the morning as the sun is rising. If you're an outdoor cardio enthusiast (such as running, biking, etc.) definitely think about going in the mornings!
Let's talk about intensity next. When looking at your exercise routine, it's important to vary the intensity levels. The more vigorous and heart-pumping exercise is (and, to reiterate--it's good to get your heart pumping), the more important it is to make sure you're one, doing a proper cool down routine, and two incorporating gentler, more restorative practices along with it. This may look like walks to balance the runs, a restorative yoga class to balance out the vinyasa classes.
As you're working out, it's going to be important to maintain your breathing through the nose--this helps to ensure sustained breath and support to the body as the muscles and bones are going. If you begin to start breathing through your mouth, it's a great sign in Ayurveda to slow down, back off, or even end your workout.
For my yogis, it's best to avoid a lot of hot classes in the summertime. It can really aggravate pitta if your body isn't prepared properly. If you're a hot class lover, look at lessening the number of classes you're doing in a week (or a day if that's you! ;) ). We LOVE a good swim in the summer time. Water is cooling, nourishing, and so supportive for pitta and summertime. Not only qualitatively does it check off all of the boxes, swimming is great in general to build what I like to call soft strength--the kind of strength that is gentle and a slow build.
Some other things I want you to keep in mind is being gentle. Pitta time of year isn't to all of a sudden start training for marathons and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Very intense activities all of a sudden can actually wear pitta out and make it more fatiguing... those sorts of things actually require more kapha than we think. So, go gentle. Be soft with yourself. It's okay if your summer didn't involve conquering the 7 summits.
Finally, I want you think of FUN. What excites you? What do you enjoy doing? How can you take your workout out of the mind and truly into the body. As pitta people may understand (speaking from experience), we tend to get stuck in the results and analytical side of all the things that we do, that we tend to forget about the joy moving our body gives us. We can have a beautiful experience if we view activity as taking care of this humble abode we've been blessed with. Can you approach your workout from a lens of gratitude and worship instead of the physicality that comes with it? Summertime is only going to amplify these things in our being, so we have to put in that much more effort.
I hope you find this summer to be fruitful and giving. Take time to truly slow down and appreciate the things in your life, including your body. Make movement fun, not operating from a sense of necessity.
Have fun. Enjoy. Smile.