Practices to Balance Pitta Dosha

Practices to Balance Pitta Dosha

(How to Beat the Summer Heat!)


The summer heat has really began to kick up here in SoCal; and with this rise in heat, we are also experiencing a rise in Pitta energy. In Ayurvedic Medicine, the sister science of Yoga, Pitta  is fire, heat, and transformation.

And just like we need the warming heat of Summer, we need the warming heat of Pitta. Balanced Pitta is joyful, energetic, clear, concise, vital, and productive. And when in balance, it properly controls and regulates digestion, metabolism and energy production in the body.

Pitta out of balance (in excess), on the other hand, can lead to dehydration, high acidity, inflammation, heartburn, irritability, anger, and impatience! So, you can see why keeping our fire in balance is so important!

It’s not “good” or “bad”… It’s all about balance!

Just like a good fire, we want our Pitta to remain steady, bright and smoldering… Too hot, your fire will burn up all of the energy it needs to sustain itself. Too cold, energy will remain stagnant and sluggish.

 

Don’t know your Dosha? Use this easy to follow guide to find out!! 

How to balance Pitta Dosha:

In Ayurveda, opposites are used to heal and bring balance to areas of imbalance. So, to balance Pitta- the energy of fire- you would want to use the cooling energy of water – the Kapha Dosha. This could look as simple as taking a cool shower, going for a dip in the ocean or a cool lake, or drinking a big glass of water!

Movement, breath and conscious consumption are all tools to call upon in your healing. Whatever you preferred method, there is a way to keep your Pitta in balance.

MOVEMENT and BREATH:

Cooling Asana: Very gentle backbends which shape the thoracic spine, like Cobra Pose, Cow Pose, and Fish Pose are cooling for the body and nervous system.

Breath: Practicing the Sitali Breath is exceptionally cooling. In this practice, you can literally feel the cool breeze coating your lungs. It’s as simple as rolling your tongue into a “taco” and inhaling. If you can’t roll your tongue, breathe in gently through your teeth. You can release your air through your mouth or your nose.

COOLING WATERS:

Stay Hydrated! This is perhaps one of the most important steps to take in calming Pitta. Drink lots and lots of water (slightly chilled or room temperature), especially in the summer months. On days you know you’ll be active, drink even more water than usual.

Take A Dip: If you have a cool body of water close by, take a dip in the evening when the sun isn’t so intense. You can also try doing a Cold Rinse after your shower. Just turn the knob all the way to Cold, and soak your head and full body in the chilly water for 30 seconds – 1 minute. (This is also a great trick for calming inflamed, sore muscles)!

AYURVEDA:

Cooling Tea: There are many blends you can choose from, but Pitta balancing teas often include fennel, peppermint, cardamom, cilantro, coriander, hibiscus flowers, rose petals,  and chamomile flowers.

Food Is Medicine: Eat more foods that are astringent, sweet and bitter. Cold foods like salads, veggies, fruits and coconut oil! Avoid foods that are spicy, sour, salty, hot and dry, like coffee.

There you have it! Easy practices to bring your fire-water energy back into balance.

May your summer be balanced and bright!

Namaste,

Stacy McCarthy

YogaNamaStacy

 

Do The Twist – Bharavadjasana – Simple to Complex

Do The Twist!

Bharavadjasana – Simple to Complex


 

Just as important as backbending and forward folding, twisting is an integral part of a balanced yoga practice. A well balanced practice will take the body in all directions available, so that you end feeling balanced and whole.

For some, however, twisting brings up many concerns. If shoulders, low back, or hips are tight, it’s likely a challenge to twist in a way that feels good. And if you’ve ever had a neck or back injury, twisting may down right scare you…

But! The good news is this: Twisting is accessible for almost everyone! 

You don’t need to go into the deepest expression of a pose to reap the rewards. With the use of simple modifications, props and good instruction, you’ll be doing the twist in no time.

Before we jump into posturing, let’s review some of the benefits and fundamentals of twisting:

Twisting the body is a little like ringing out a wet towel- the process of rotation helps to squeeze out toxic fluids and make space for new, fresh fluids to take their place. In this way, twists detoxify the body. Incorporating twists into your daily practice will increase your spinal flexibility and strength, give more dynamic strength to your core muscles, create more space for breath, and will actually help to “ring out” your internal organs (aka: healthier digestion, more regular bowel movements, and easier processing of nutrients).

Twisting postures range from simple to complex. Keep in mind that twisting is all about elongating (2/3 Lengthening, 1/3 Twisting)! As you twist, lengthen gently with your inhales, and then rotate gently with your exhales. Remember that you can’t move into a twist if there is “no room”.

*Please Also Note: Contraindications to twists include bulging or herniated disks, sciatica, severe scoliosis, any back or neck injury that is upset by twisting movements, pregnancy, menstruation. Always listen to your body. If there is any glimpse of pain in a posture, do not practice it in that moment. Consult an experienced yoga teacher, physical therapist or physician should you need further guidance.

One of my favorite twisting postures is Bharavadjasana. This seated twisting pose opens up the low back, hips and shoulders all in one, and acts as a great example of how to modify any twisting pose to suit your ability.

 

 Bharavadjasana, Simple to Complex:

 

 

 

Variation A: Seated on a Block / Front leg in Sukhasana variation / No bind of arms

When you need to focus on gently opening up the back and hips, and elongating the spine, this is the variation for you. Sitting on the block will give space to those with less range in their hips, and will help keep the pelvis in proper alignment. As you twist, take the opposing hand to the thigh of the front leg. The back hand will act as a reminder to lift (hint: do NOT dump your weight onto this hand- this will throw off the alignment of your shoulders and bring unwanted lateral flexion to the spine).

 

 

 

 

Variation B: Seated on Mat / Front leg in Sukhasana / Bind of back arm to front arm

This variation is for those whose hips and low back feel comfortable seated directly on the mat. (hint: both sit-bones will be evenly weighted, and the pelvis in proper alignment). As you twist, the opposing hand will meet the front thigh, while the back arm will gently internally rotate from the shoulder in order to wrap around the mid-back. The back hand will meet the front arm, just above the elbow crease. (hint: keep your shoulders opening gently away from the heart center, and breathe as evenly as possible into both sides of the lungs).

 

 

 

 

Variation C: Seated on Mat / Front leg in ArdhaPadmasana / Full bind of arms

The final variation of Bharavadjasana is for those with open hips and shoulders; whom need a little more intensity from their seated twist. The front leg is bound in ArdhaPadmasana, offering greater opening to the front hip (hint: as in the previous variation, make sure both sit-bones have even placement on your mat). As you twist, the opposing hand will reach to the front knee, while the back hand will reach for the bound foot. Some find this connection at the big toe, and others can reach around the full foot. (hint: use your inhalations to consciously lengthen, while keeping the pelvis weighted, and the exhalations to gently deepen the twist).

 

 


There you have it, yogis.

Get on your mat + Happy Twisting!

With Love + Namaste,

Stacy McCarthy

 

 

 

How Fast Are You Aging?

Do you remember the first time you realized your body was “aging”?

Maybe it started in your thirties with a few more aches and pains in the morning. A tendency to get tired earlier in the day. The first signs of wrinkles around your eyes. A memory not quite as sharp as it used to be.

As the years have progressed, those little twinges have probably gotten more frequent. And if you’re like most people, you brushed it off as a “normal” part of the aging process… just something that happens when we get older.

The thing is, you don’t have to give in to the frailty, disease, and memory issues associated with aging. These symptoms are not “inevitable.” They are signals that your body needs something.

When it comes to aging, we’ve been fed a load of unsubstantiated assumptions our entire lives. But emerging research from top experts suggests that we can have all the advantages of youth, well into our later years.

That means a lean, strong, flexible body….supple, smooth skin….. a brain that is sharp… energy to last all day… and an immune system that provides powerful protection against illness.

We are a body-oriented culture. We judge ourselves by our appearance and our body’s ability to perform. When our bodies change—as they inevitably do—our self-worth goes with them, for better or for worse.

In Siddhartha, a novel about enlightenment and self-discovery the prince, Siddhartha, ventured out of his palace for the first time, he was shaken by his first glimpses of a person bent with age, a person wracked with illness and the body of a person who had died. Seeing the inevitable path of all our bodies to our final demise caused him to inquire into how he might transcend the suffering he had witnessed. This led him to realize that in order to transcend suffering, he had to transcend his attachment to and identification with the body. He had to look deeper, beyond the pleasures and suffering of the body, for lasting happiness.

This is what our yoga practice teaches us. Any person in a body who is practicing Yoga is living in a yoga body, regardless of age, build, gender or flexibility. And the deeper practices at the heart of Yoga—meditation—require a body simply as an anchor for awareness. 

I think most people when coming upon my age may scour, but I’m truly looking forward to the unfolding lessons, increasing self awareness and growing self love that comes with aging. I’m reminded that this is the start of a brand new year- and that there are still infinite opportunities for growth along my journey. Within every moment lies a miracle. And within every burden lies a blessing. 

Namaste~

DIY Home Retreat Pt. 1 – Body

Namaste yogis,
Here is Part One of my DIY Home Yoga Retreat Series!
Whether you follow the program exactly, or just use this information as a guide to create your own path to successful health, I hope you find these newsletters both useful and inspiring.
Week One will focus on maintaining a healthy body by mastering How You Move and How You Eat.
Because each of our needs are a little different, the following schedule will be structured around the phases of your day, rather than by an exact time-table. Do your best to wake up early and take the entire day to nurture yourself- as if you were at a secluded resort with nowhere else to be. If any of the following recommendations do not suit you, then kindly skip over them, and do what you need. Remember this is YOUR time to relax, rejuvenate, revitalize and heal your body.
Are you ready?!
A few tips to help get you started:
+ Remember Sthira Sukham Asanam. This yoga sutra tells us that every posture should be done with a balance of effort and ease. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits, but challenge yourself so that you grow.
Results take time. Don’t worry about perfecting your practice today. Just take the time to get started, and have the patience to stay committed. Do your practice, all is coming…
You have a community of support behind you! Staying focused and motivated at home can be a challenge. Know that you are being supported and cheered for; and that your effort is inspiring me too!! If it helps to have another to keep you on track, then invite a friend to participate in the retreat with you.
I look forward to hearing about your DIY Retreat experience. Send me an email at stacy@yoganamastacy.com or post on your social media account and tag @yoganamastacy. When you share, you are helping to create and promote a community centered around health and wellbeing.
Happy Retreating!!
Stacy

Energy Boosting Yoga Poses

Anytime, Any Place Energy Boosting Yoga Move

As busy moms, we don’t always have time for a full yoga class, but what about a simple move you can do to help pick up your energy at home? I shot a series of short Yoga videos with Lifetime Moms here’s one of my first with Zen Mom Angela Chee. Check out the Busy Mom Yoga DVD for a full yoga practice.

Core Essentials in Yoga & Life

Feel like you need a breakthrough in moving your yoga practice or life to the next level?
Awakening your core is the key to untapped strength, unlocking your hips & inversions.
We can so easily be knocked off balance by reaching outside ourselves to fulfill the needs of others. In our yoga practice, strengthening our core connects us with balance, stamina, strength, energy & power within – yet we get off our mat and begin grasping for balance by managing our time or juggling priorities. Reconnect with your core & flourish in your yoga practice & in life.
The Core Essentials Workshop is designed to:
* Ignite the Power in Your Core
* Move Beyond Limitations
* Find True Balance from within
* Align with what works for you
* Command Your Energy & presence
* Cultivate the benefits of Yoga with Core Life Practices
This workshop is lead by myself & Cindy Silbert, Author & Transformational Guide.
Date: Saturday, November 21st
Time: 2:30 -4:30pm
Cost: $39 Sign up before November 16th
$49 After November 16th
Email us at Stacy@yoganamastacy.com or Cindy@BringUtoLife.com for more information.