July Newsletter: Stay Cool & Calm with Restorative Yoga
Greetings and namaste!
Happy (belated) Summer Solstice to you all! The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, and is the heart of Pitta season. In addition, the International Day of Yoga is observed on the Summer Solstice! Did you know that the United Nations established June 21 as the "International Day of Yoga," aka, "Yoga Day" on December 11, 2014? The intention of the UN establishing International Day of Yoga is to raise global awareness of the benefits of practicing yoga. Here in Nashville, the local non-profit sevas & karma yoga organization, Small World Yoga hosts an annual free International Day of Yoga celebration. Hundreds of practitioners from the greater Nashville yoga community come to practice together to vibrate higher through this uplifting experience.
I was invited to co-teach last year's International Day Of Yoga celebration, and here are a few photos of the class:
Now that we're in the thick of pitta season, some of us may feel energized and ready for regular summer adventures. Some of us may already be feeling some of the energy depleting aspects of all the heat and humidity and seeking some sense of relief. Some of us may resonate with both of these sensations. However you may handle the summer, incorporating more cooling and restorative yoga asana can help keep you feeling energized and ready, in addition to helping you unwind and relax before or after a long hot summer day.
In Ayurveda, the primary pitta region of the body is the solar plexus including the mid-spine region (lower thoracic and upper lumbar area), small intestines, liver, pancreas and spleen; here is also the seat of our fire element and Mani Purna chakra. When our pitta dosha increases, we can find ourselves feeling overheated, inflamed, easily aggravated, overly competitive and experience a burning sensation in our digestive track. If our internal fire gets too hot it can burn up all of our energy, leaving us feeling depleted, exhausted and constantly hungry. Three effective ways to help balance pitta dosha is practicing spinal twisting asanas, cooling pranayama breathing and regular meditation.
Seated, back-laying or belly-laying supine twists are perfect ways to relax the mind-body by gently stretching the spinal muscles and internally massage the digestive track. If the chest, shoulder blades, upper back and/ or neck is feeling tight as well, try a belly-down supine twist. To do this, lay on your right side with your knees bent and stacked; then lift your torso, and slowly lower down to the front of the chest; open your arms up to a "T" shape and try laying on your left ear, then right ear. Hold the shape for 10 long slow breaths, then switch sides.
Practicing certain pranayama breathing techniques has a cooling and deeply relaxing effect on the body such as nadi shodhana, sitali or sitkari, and bhramari. Pranayama is an easy and very effective way to help calm the nervous system, relax the body, quiet down the mind and balance pitta dosha. Nadi shodhana is alternate nostril breathing--if you have attended any of my classes, there's a good chance you have practiced some variation of the pranayama with me; sitali is called "straw breath" because you roll your tongue into the shape of a straw while inhaling; sitkari is breathing through the teeth with the jaw lightly closed and the teeth exposed--a great alternative for those who can't roll the tongue into the necessary shape for sitali; Bhramari is called "bee's breath" because of the gentle yet audible humming sound while exhaling.
Starting a regular meditation practice is a great benefit to your overall health and well-being every season of the year, but the calming and relaxing aspects of meditation can particularly ease an imbalanced pitta dosha and cool down the inner fire from burning out of control. Check out my 10 minute guided meditation video!
Stay tuned for my fall class schedule! Starting in September I have a new FREE WEEKLY PUBLIC CLASS at the Vanderbilt University Black Cultural Center!! Every Thursday 6-7pm you'll be able to join me for "Air & Earth" vinyasa flow & restorative mix-up. This will be an all-levels class, so everyone is welcome regardless of skill or experience!
In addition, I have added a new monthly community meditation class at the Downtown Nashville Public Library! This is also free and no experience is needed! Join me the 1st Monday of every month 12:15-12:50pm for a guided group meditation on the 2nd floor of the Downtown library in the Children's Theatre.
Also, I would like to share some great news on my personal journey:
It's hard to believe it's already July! I am moving into the 4th module of my Ayurvedic Counselor program and I'm heading out of country for a month in just 2 months. I find it fitting that September begins on a Saturday--and if you're following my logic, it's also fitting that October begins on a Monday.
Being a summertime baby, this season is always a happy time for me as I get ready to celebrate my 35th year in August. I find that for me personally, summer is a great time for me to try something new, and this year my new life adventures for this turn around the sun will be water-skiing and international travel, so wish me luck :-)
I find it ironic that my earliest memory was in the summer. I was 2-almost-3 years old, and looking back, I can discern that it would have been in June or July because it was a beautiful warm sunny day, all the flowers in my mom's garden were in bloom, and it was near my birthday so we would go to the beach often. It is a random and wildly mundane memory, but I hold it dear as it was when I first recognized my face in the bathroom mirror and realized I am "me." It is also the first time I remember helping my mom get breakfast ready. And by "help" I mainly just watched and asked questions. My mom's voice was warm honey in my ears and her face was a vision of the highest beauty I had yet to behold. I already loved my mom, but I think I fell in love with her that summer day and was attracted to her just like a little duckling to its mother. I'm not sure if anyone else recalls an early or first memory like this, but if you do hold a tender early life memory, please feel free to share it with me sometimes and we can indulge in what our first memories were.
Love & Light <3