Pitta Yoga Cooling Ayurveda Sequence for Late Summer

By: Steph Ball-Mitchell, ERYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP

Pitta Yoga Cooling Ayurveda Sequence for Late Summer

Enjoy our Pitta Yoga Cooling Ayurveda Sequence for Late Summer intended to cool your fire.

Pitta Yoga Cooling Ayurveda Sequence
Summer is Fire Season

As we come into August, it's fire season!  Looking at the season through an Ayurvedic lens, the pitta dosha rules. Pitta imbalances can cause anger, inflammation and heartburn.  The perfect way to counter balance the season of fire is by using your yoga practice to cool the mind and body. You can achieve this by keeping the breath flowing in and flowing out, focusing on asanas that emphasize the abdominal area (twists, forward folds) and including fun and playful poses (half moon).

Pitta Yoga: Cooling Ayurveda Sequence

Try these Pitta Balancing Poses to stay cool and breezy this Summer:


Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutation A)

Standing at the top of the mat in mountain pose, take a big inhale and circle the arms up to the sky.  As you exhale, forward fold.  Inhale, lift half way, flat back extension.  Exhale, forward fold, step or hop back to chaturanga.  If you step back, step into high plank and then lower slowly in chaturanga.  On an inhale, pull the chest through into upward facing dog.  On the exhale, press the hips back into downward facing dog.  Take an inhale here, stretch back.  As you exhale, step or hop to the top of the mat.  On an inhale, lift the chest halfway and gaze out.  Exhale, forward fold, let it go.  Inhale, rise and float both arms up to the sky.  Exhale back to mountain pose. 
You can begin any yoga practice with Sun Salutations.  We start our Pitta Yoga: Cooling Ayurveda Sequence with Sun Salutations to burn out the fire energy contained within and to center ourselves. 


Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana)

Begin in Mountain pose.  Step the right foot about 3 or 4 feet in front of the left, depending on your body.  The right toes point towards the front, short edge of the mat.  The back foot is turned slightly to the right.  Align the heels with one another. 
Hug muscles to bone in the thighs and keep the right thigh externally rotated.  You want the center of the right knee to align over the center of the right ankle.  Keep the shoulders wide and gliding down the back.  
As you exhale, begin to hinge at the waist and lean the torso towards your right, over the right leg.  Hinge from the hips and not from the waist.  Your movement should be anchored by the strength of the left leg.  Actively press the outer edge of the left foot into the earth.  Rotate the torso to the left and imagine that you can keep the right side just as long as the left.  Pull the left hip forward slightly as you send the tailbone long. 
The right hand can come on to the right ankle, shin or a block.  You want to maintain the length in the spine and the sides of the body.  It is more important to keep the length than it is to bring the hand as low as you can.  Extend the left arm towards the ceiling, in line with the tops of the shoulders.  The head should stay in a neutral position and the drishti is up towards the left thumb unless that hurts the neck, in which case you can gaze down towards the right foot. 
revolved triangle pose



Revolved Triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana) 

Let's keep our pitta yoga: cooling sequence for ayurveda moving!  From triangle pose, square the hips off in Pyramid for a few breaths.  The right foot should be forward and the left foot should be behind. From pyramid, lengthen the spine long from squared hips and keep the pelvis neutral. 
Bring a block to the inside of the right foot.  Bring the hands onto the hips to help bring awareness to this region of the body.  On an inhale, lengthen through the crown of the head.  As you exhale, start to rotate towards the right, keeping the length in the spine.  The shoulders stay plugged into the back and the right chest rolls open.  
Check in with your body at this point.  Sometimes in this posture, we feel a lot of compression.  Know that you can stay right here, with the right hand on the right hip and the chest rolling open.  Check in with the belly and notice if the belly is feeling compressed.  You can bring the hands onto the belly and shift it towards the middle if that helps you to create some space.  You can scoop the low belly upwards to create space if you're feeling compressed near the upper thighs.  Take another inhale and try to grow a bit longer through the crown of the head.
As you exhale, there's the option to drop your left hand down onto the block that you placed on the inside of the right foot.    Keep the left heel rooting strongly into the mat.  It tends to rise at this point in the posture.  The left hip should drop slightly towards the floor.  The right hip sometimes juts out to the side and starts to rise, shortening the length between the right shoulder and right hip.  This leads to rounding of the spine.  If this happens, slightly internally rotate the right thigh and send energy towards the right hip, lengthening the right side body.  Your right hand on your right hip can help you to create this space and bring awareness to what's happening with the right hip.  
If it feels right in your body, you can send the right arm up towards the sky.  However, this is not necessary and if you feel more space with the right hand on the right hip, you can keep it there.  The drishti may be up towards the right hand.  If that is painful in the neck or it causes imbalance, you can look straight forward or down towards the floor.  

Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana)

As you come out of twisting triangle, come back to Pyramid to neutralize first.  Then move into triangle posture again, keeping the right foot forward.  From triangle, bring the left hand onto the left hip as you put a slight bend in the right knee and bring the right hand about a foot in front of the right foot, probably on a block.  Begin to straighten the right leg as the left leg lifts off of the earth. 
From here, take a moment to get grounded.  With the left hand on the left hip, start to slowly roll the left hip open.  With the spine long, the left shoulder and chest open with the left hip.  Firm the left leg, keeping it as straight as possible for your body.  The spine should be parallel to the floor, or as close to parallel as possible for you.   If it feels okay in your body, begin to extend the left arm up towards the sky.  The gaze can go up towards the left hand or can look down towards the floor.  

Repeat Triangle, Reverse Triangle and Half Moon on the Left

As we continue moving through our Pitta Yoga: Cooling Ayurveda Sequence for Late Summer, be sure you repeat these postures on the left side in the same order, transitioning through Pyramid to neutralize the spine.  Once you get down to the ground, we have an inversion for you that will help to cool you off.  


Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana)

Shoulderstand is often most comfortable with blankets.  Fold a few blankets into rectangles and stack them on top of each other.  These blankets can come to the top of your mat.  They will support the upper arms while you are in the pose.  Lie down on the mat with the shoulders supported by the blankets and your head on the floor. Make sure the head is not on the blankets.  Your arms are long by the sides to begin.  
Bend the knees and bring the heels close to the sit bones.  As you exhale, press the arms into the floor and push the feet away from the floor as you pull your thighs into your chest.  Start to lift as you curl the pelvis in and pull the back off of the floor, bringing the knees towards the face.  The arms lengthen out for support and the fingers press down into the floor, with the thumbs pointing behind you.   Let the elbows bend and pull them in towards one another.  
Continue lifting as you bring the hands to the low back for support, keeping the back of the upper arms on the blanket.  Lift the pelvis over the shoulders.  Imagine that you could stack the hips directly over the shoulders so that the torso is perpendicular to the floor.  Start to walk the hands up the back, which means the hands are moving towards the floor.  Don't let the elbows splay wide.  They should stay in line with the shoulders.  
Take a big inhale and start to straighten the legs, moving the feet towards the ceiling.  The thighs stay in line with the torso and the heels should be over the ankles.  The ankles are over the knees.  The knees are over the hips.  The hips are over the shoulders. 
Keep the throat soft, and keep the tongue soft.  Make sure the shoulder blades are firm and plugged into their sockets on the back. The sternum comes towards the chin.  The forehead should be parallel to the floor with the chin perpendicular to the floor.  Keep the back of the upper arms grounded and the tops of the shoulders rooted into the blanket for support.


Plow (Halasana)

From Salamba Sarvangasana, exhale and bend from the hips to start slowly lowering the toes to the floor with the legs outstretched behind the head.  It is always safest to exit shoulderstand through Plow.  Try to keep your torso perpendicular to the floor and the legs fully extended.  If you need to bend the legs, you can.  
With your toes on the floor, press the tops of the thighs and the tailbone towards the ceiling and draw your inner groins deep into the pelvis.  Continue to draw your chin away from your sternum and soften your throat.
You can continue to press your hands against the back as if you're going to push the back up towards the ceiling or you can release the hands down and stretch the arms out behind you on the floor with the hands clasped and pressing into the floor for support. 


Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Lie flat on the back with an option to place a thickly folded blanket under your shoulders to protect your neck. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible. As you inhale, begin to lift the thighs and the hips away from the earth.  Keep the thighs and inner feet parallel to one another.  You can clasp the hands below the pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of the shoulders. 

Lift until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Keep the knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, lengthening the tailbone toward the backs of the knees. Lift the pubis toward the navel. The chin lifts slightly away from the sternum and the shoulder blades are firm against the back. Press the top of the sternum toward the chin. Keep the outer arms firm and the shoulder blades broad as you try to lift the space between the shoulder blades at the base of the neck up through the torso. 


Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Sit on the floor, possibly with folded blankets underneath you for support.  You want to make sure the pelvis is neutral in your starting point.  Often times, we need support under the sit bones to keep the pelvis neutral when we extend the legs long.  From Dandasana, staff pose, press actively through the heels. 

Wiggle back and forth from the left to the right sit bone to get grounded and shift the fleshy part away, even if it means using your hands. The upper thighs are slightly internally rotated and pressing down to the floor. The fingertips or palms are pressing into the ground beside you.  Using the hands as leverage, press down and lift up on an inhale.  Imagine that you can lift the upper body out of the hips.  Find as much length as you can in the torso and lengthen through the crown of the head.  

As you exhale, begin to hinge at the hip joint and press the chest forward as you lower down.  Throughout this forward bend, the goal is to keep the spine long.  The moment that you lose the length in the spine, you lose the pose.  Make sure you are not hinging at the waist, but from the hip joint.  

If you feel compression in the belly, move it around so that you have some space. Lower to your own degree, and feel free to use a strap if that feels good for you.  If your hands happen to reach your feet, grip the sides of the feet with the hands, bringing the thumbs on the soles of the feet and keeping the elbows fully extended.  You want to keep the elbows straight, with or without a strap. 

Don't muscle your way into the pose.  Surrender into this forward bend.  That's part of our pitta yoga: ayurveda cooling sequence.   

With every inhale, grow longer and with every exhale, go deeper.