Previously on this blog, we’ve talked about the pitta dosha and strategies to cool its fire. I’d like to share how yoga has helped me to enjoy the benefits of my pitta nature and reduce some of its downside.
People with a heavy dose of pitta in their nature are great “doers”. We move easily from task to task striking one item after the next from our to-do lists. We are great with “running with an idea” – thinking about something and then just doing it. While these qualities can be very useful, they also have a shadow side – a failure to inhabit the pause. In rushing from one task to the next, I often forget to savor the moment of completion. I forget to enjoy the sweetness of a house momentarily dust-bunny free, the satisfaction of graded exam papers, or the smooth blending of the transition from one yoga pose to another. Failing to inhabit the pause also means there may be little space between impulse and action with the result that my actions are less thoughtful and possibly less kind than I would prefer.
My yoga practice has helped me to learn to create and inhabit pauses. In taking time to set up a pose, moving slowly into and out of it, I separate the impulse from the action. It’s not Warrior 1 – Ta Da here it is—but Warrior 1: start in lunge, square hips, slowly rise, raise the arms, sink a little lower …. Moving in this way is not about finding a pose with perfect alignment (what’s that anyway) but about appreciating each element of the pose as I move into and out of it. Savasana has also been an excellent teacher for learning to pause. I sometimes (okay often) find myself wanting to move, needing to move while lying there. I try, instead, to notice how that want, need to move shows up in my body – what muscles tighten, how does my gut feel … I’ve learned to notice (well, sometimes) when these physical sensations show up off the mat and to take them as a signal to slow down and not act. By inhabiting a pause, I can choose more thoughtful, kinder actions than if I had simply forged ahead.
Consider adding pauses into your yoga practice. Maybe choose down face dog or child’s pose rather than a more active vinyasa. Maybe move more slowly into one or two postures each practice. Maybe treat savasana as a teacher than as an endurance test. Then see if these pauses carry into your life off the mat. Thanks for reading. I think I’ll pause now.
**Joni teaches on Mondays at 4:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. at Grassroots. Join her for an insightful and grounding practice that will help you keep your cool all week long!