Happy Summer Solstice! Any Pittas Out There?

Whatever hemisphere you are in, we just passed through the solstice; an important annual event in the astronomical calendar. Though the idea of the days getting longer or shorter may seem like it has more to do with your electric bill, the amount of daylight we receive sets the tone for our food choices, practices, and spiritual pursuits.

On a sunny day in the height of summer, it is perhaps easier to “see yourself in the light” as our spirit is fully awake.

The summer solstice is the height of the masculine, intellectual, solar powered heating energy, (sometimes referred to as yang in Chinese medicine or in yoga, the pingala nadi within our subtle body). We are literally being bathed in the heating energy of the sun. It is also the time of year when the fiery Pitta Dosha (fire and water) is the strongest. From this place of warmth and radiance, we all typically enjoy more external socialization (summer BBQ anyone?!) and encounter more heating movement willfully. The Pitta Dosha should be in heaven in summer! But as a Pitta, I can tell you that this time of year is not an all access pass to eat endless amounts of spicy food, party all night and equate perspiration with a successful yoga practice.

If you are a Kapha (earth and water), summer solstice season can provide just the fire you need to get going and have more energy for the people you love. A challenging, heating yoga practice may come easier in the summer than it would in winter. The Vata Dosha (air and space) flies with the wings of a social butterfly and has more hours to be creative in summer; and you might even complete some projects that were all but abandoned!

But Beware: Pitta aggravation is a real thing.

All humans have all three dosha types – Vatta, Pitta and Kapha, in our constitution in some amount; the question is, how much? Even if your prominent dosha isn’t Pitta (or you don’t know what it is) as climate change pushes summer temperatures to new extremes, most people will experience an increase of Pitta in the body and mind.

Unlike in the darkness of winter, I struggle to do a still morning meditation when the sunlight is abundant at 5 am – even though I need to be solo more than any other time of year. In winter, waking before the sun keeps the automatic mental “to do” list hidden in the dark. In summer, it is also difficult to stay on my circadian scheduled bedtime when it is light at 10:30 pm – I could be kicking ass a bit longer and checking things like window cleaning off my list! (Yes, I did this the other night). Sometimes, unheated morning hot tubs, drinking coconut water, carrying fragrant rose petals and adding mint and cucumber to everything isn’t enough. Writing this helps. But when the Pitta fire is stoked by the long heated days, the smolder shows as frustration, impatience, insensitivity and anger.

Just like the skin needs protection from the sweat and burn of the sun, Pitta personality needs the safeguarding of an intuitive, cooling lunar practice. In the video, you get to play around with both a lunar and solar practice. See if you can figure out where your practice needs to be when you are in the power of the sun. Or if you are in the southern hemisphere, how can your practice help you to welcome the light back?

Whatever your personal tendencies and wherever you are on the planet, consider this astronomical phenomenon an invitation to reconnect to you inner radiance and celebrate the light that connects us.

Happy Belated Solstice,

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