Oh, score! I got a spot right in front of the fan tonight! I set up my mat and waited for class to begin.
I thought about my first real yoga teacher, Robert. As soon as the temperature would start to rise, he'd
get out the fan and position it directly in front of me. After a while I didn't even have to ask, he would just
know when I needed the fan on. I really appreciated that.
The bhavana for tonight's class was pitta reducing practices. Remember from my previous blog, pitta relates to the elements of fire and water in our bodies and minds. When the temperature rises outside, our internal temperature rises, both physically and mentally. In Ayurveda, summer is considered pitta season. The practice tonight was all about cooling the body and the mind and keeping whatever heat that was generated in the abdominal area.
We began with several rounds of pranayama - Shitali breathing. *This breath has a cooling effect and therefore it is not recommended for practice during the winter.
"Sit in easy pose. Roll the tongue lengthwise into a tube while the tip of the tongue sticks slightly out of the mouth. Draw the air through the tongue like sipping through a straw, fill the lungs completely. Drop the chin into Jalandara bhanda (chin lock). Hold the breath for 5 seconds and exhale thoroughly through the left nostril" - YOM teacher training manual
So far, so good. I'm feeling pretty good. It's warm in room but not uncomfortable. We transition onto our hands and knees. Inhaling into dog tilt, exhaling into cat round. Wait a minute, I'm not feeling that fan at all!
The fan is oscillating but just as it reaches the edge of my mat...... It turns in the other direction! Damn. It's such a tease, just when I think I'm going to get a little cool breeze -- Nothing!!
No time to adjust the fan, we're onto to slow sun salutations. After a modified tree pose we do another sun salutation (Surya Namaskar) but a little faster the second time around. I felt myself enjoying the faster paced sequence more.
I loved the pauses between the dynamic sequences. I could feel the heat that was generated during the poses, cool a little during the periods of rest. ( Although I admit I really did want to open the window) The practice also included several twists which SD reminded us are really good for reducing pitta.
*Note to self: Eat lunch on Tuesdays so that you don't have to eat dinner before yoga class! (Twists are not fun on a full stomach).
In keeping with the theme of the class, savasana was longer than usual. I felt myself wanting to move after a few minutes, I had difficulty staying still and even more difficulty keeping my mind from moving ahead to the next task. Tonight, savasana was the most challenging pose for me. Maybe repeating a mantra would have helped. I'll have to try that next time. Which mantra would be good for reducing pitta? I'm thinking simply SO HUM. Listening to the sound of the breath, So on the inhale, Hum on the exhale.
There are some important things to remember while doing an asana practice during the summer.
*Don't push yourself
*Back off from your effort a little
*Keep your chin slightly tucked - avoid lifting the chin up
*Do not hold poses for too long
*Include pauses between poses
*Practice twists & forward folding postures
*Long rest at the end of the practice
*Shitali & release breaths whenever you are getting too hot
These are just some of the things that I need to remember for my own practice. Perhaps you'll find them helpful in your practice as well.
During savasana I did finally feel the cool breeze from the fan. Or was it the effects of the pitta reducing practice??