The Sanskrit word for “Bless you!” is Bhagavadanugrahapraptirastu!, and if you’re a New York City yogi, it’s probably a good idea to learn it. New York makes the cut when it comes to the top five worst states to live in if you have seasonal pollen allergies, and there’s plenty of suffering to go around: because of our great American variety of allergen-producing flora, every region in the U. S. offers it own unique aggravations for your histamine supply. Moreover, rising temperatures across the globe have lengthened spring and summer at both ends, creating an allergy season that begins as early as February and lasts as late as November, depending on where you live. If you travel cross-country frequently and suffer from seasonal allergies, God help you: your allergy season is basically ten months long. Bhagavadanugra-hapraptirastu! indeed.
Do you change your diet in hot, humid weather? What about your sleep? Or how and when you exercise? Summertime, which here in the eastern U.S. means hot, humid weather with lots of sun and light, is also known as “pitta season.” Pitta is one of the three Ayurveda doshas.
Ayurveda is a technology - a skill - that teaches us how to live optimally through creating balance physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in relation to ourselves and the environment we live in. Ayurveda understands that all things are made of the elements - earth, water, fire, air and space - and that combinations of elements create the doshas. The doshas - vata, pitta, and kapha - are discernable states produced by relationship to the elements, and an expression of the qualities of the elements. Pitta, for example, is made of the elements fire and water, and expresses the qualities of hot, liquid, sharp, light, spreading, and oily.
On the official list of Things You’ll Never Hear a Yogi Say, “When is this hot weather going to end?” ranks just below “I don’t think turmeric will help with that.” It’s no secret that yoga practitioners tend to love our warm weather. And according to the official meteorological calendar, in the Northern Hemisphere the seasons are allocated fairly, with winter and summer each lasting three months. But after slogging through a typical New York City winter, no one would blame us for claiming that winter feels a lot longer than summer. After putting up with months of snow, sleet, and a sun that seems to set not long after lunch, who doesn’t greet the first signs of summer with relief? But the delights of summer—hot days, breezy nights, sailing out of the house without a thought of a coat or boots—seem to fade to memory just as we’re getting used to them. The sad truth is that summer just doesn’t last long enough, which is why it’s so unfair to have to sacrifice one moment of it to the dreaded summer cold.