Yoga for the summer
I hope you’ve all been enjoying the sunshine, and maybe you’ve even managed to get outside to do your yoga practise.
Generally speaking summer is a time for feeling good. Warmer temperatures, longer days, more opportunity to be outdoors and for many relaxing holidays to enjoy, all contribute to our good health.
Fish pose is perfect for the summer
Summer is a great time to practise yoga because the muscles are warmer and therefore more inclined to stretch, it’s easier to relax in the heat (anyone who has tried to relax on a cold floor in January knows what I’m talking about!), and although you might perspire a bit more just think of all the toxins you’re getting rid of!
There are a couple of things, though, that we need to be mindful of in the heat. According to Eastern philosophies the element of fire is increased during summer. This can manifest in hayfever, prickly heat and skin irritations and inflammations, whilst the heart is also put under strain during the heat. The digestive system, liver and eyes can also all be affected by the heat – think itchy sore eyes, and general irritability, sometimes referred to as being liverish. So a summer yoga practise is all about reducing heat from the mind and body.
Work with plenty of abdominal stretches and twists along with poses that massage the abdomen to keep the intestines happy. Triangles (trikonasana), any of the the twisting poses and back bends such as Cobra (bhujangasana), Fish (matsyasana) and Camel (ustrasana) are all great for releasing heat from the digestive tract.
The sitting forward bend (paschimottanasana) will help to boost liver and digestive function, which is perfectly followed by Bridge (setubhandasana) pose, which will help to open the heart centre. In Dru Yoga we use the beautiful Seat of Compassion sequence to open the heart and reduce heat. Remember to rest in savasana after your practise to let the body settle and the heat ebb away.
Personally I love doing balancing poses outside. Tree (vrksanana) seems especially lovely done in bare feet on the grass. The balance helps us to feel more grounded (we can be a little scattered and unfocused in the summer, so many distractions!) and the Dru version is great for opening the chest and heart region and balancing the heart chakra (anahata).
It is best to avoid too many inverted poses in the summer, such as Dog or Shoulderstands, as these will bring heat up to the head, are extra work for the heart and can increase heat and irritability.
I am also a big fan of the cooling breaths. Why not try this one when the heat is on? Sheetali pranayama: Roll your tongue into a tube, and as you inhale draw the air in through this tube, then exhale through the nose. Repeat a few more times, feeling the coolness of the air entering your body, leaving you relaxed and chilled out.
I hope this gives you some ideas of things to practise and next time I’ll be talking about other natural ways to make the most of the glorious weather. Ix
PS. Don’t forget we’ve launched our “Dru Yoga Outside” photo competition, to make sure you’re practising during the summer holidays! For more details give me a shout or go to www.facebook.com/insideoutdruyoga