‘Tis a Gift to Be Simple


The days are stretching longer and warmer. As we move toward the longest day of the year, summer solstice, that movement can seem accelerated. As the days get warmer and warmer and the foliage more lush in these glorious mountains, there is an undeniable fullness in the air. Life-force is palpable. The air is thrumming. In Ayurvedic terms, we are entering the season of pitta dosha, characterized as fiery, assertive and active.

It may seem that with longer days, life would feel more spacious, and that may indeed be the case for some. For many of us though (especially those with a great deal of pitta dosha in our constitutions), the more daylight hours we have, the more activities we will try to pack in. When in balance, pitta types are the embodiment of confidence, passion, dynamic energy and strong digestive fire; when out of balance, pitta types can tend to be overly competitive, aggressive and irritable (think “road rage!”).

Our culture itself might be characterized as pitta in nature. We tend to value achievement, ambition and consumption, possibly to our own detriment. A busy lifestyle is glorified; to take a more leisurely pace may be viewed as lazy. This “glorification of busy” can make those prone to pitta imbalance more vulnerable, especially this time of year!

If you’ve been practicing for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that how we approach our practice often reflects how we approach life off the mat, and vice versa. How can we practice in a way that nourishes rather than exacerbates tendencies towards pitta imbalance?

A key may lie in simplicity. Our lives are full and complex, but it is often the simple moments that are the most gratifying. It is all to easy to rush through life trying to achieve/win/consume, always trying to get something or “get ahead.” However, it is the instances when we simply give our awareness to momentary sensations that can bring us deep joy and peace that create residual effects on our quality of being. Noticing how sunlight hits a wall, the smell of honeysuckle wafting by on a warm breeze, or even appreciating the sounds of bustling urban life while stuck in traffic, can add timeless depth and beauty to the “daily grind.”

Next time you are on the mat, whatever style of practice you choose, instead of trying to “do” a pose, trying to “take” deep breaths, see what it feels like just to be in the pose. Be with the breath. Feel the trusty yoga mat under your feet. Be with the simplicity of this animal body that carries us through this life. Use the senses as tools to experience this moment, rather than constantly seeking more stimulation and distraction.

By Leaflin Winecoff