Summer Chill Out
Summer is upon us, and with it comes longer days, warmer temperatures, and a jam packed calendar. According to Taoist philosophy, Summer is a Yang time of year, and our activities and physical vitality certainly reflect this as we soak in as much solar energy as possible in this short-lived period. Caught up in the momentum of the season, our bodies work overtime, and with all that we pile on, it’s easy to overheat, and dry up – physically and energetically. This added fire can increase irritability, and lead to imbalance. Alternatively, the humid, dog days of summer can leave us sluggish or lethargic, causing a stagnation of energy. Our organs, though easily overlooked, take the brunt of the load, with the heart, small intestine, stomach, and spleen working hard to circulate the blood, regulate temperature, absorb nutrients and maintain optimal digestion.
If we take our cues from nature, this would be the ideal time to take some of the vigor out of our yoga practice, and invite more cooling and slower paced movements. Yin Yoga, specifically, is an ideal choice as the long-held postures can welcome some much needed grounding, and also stimulate the energy body to promote the flow of stagnant qi.
The intention of the following sequence, aptly titled, Summer Chill Out, is to give a much needed break from the internal and external heat generated this time of year. These postures highlight the lines of the body that correlate with the meridians of the commonly affected organs, and the manner in which they are practiced will hopefully encourage stillness and reflection. Take some time to practice in its entirety, or select a few postures to complement your summertime activities.
How to Practice
There are four main principles of Yin Yoga. First, we come into a shape and go to the first point of resistance, and from that mild “edge” of sensation, observe what is being felt. Sensation should be no more than a mild, dull ache, and not gravitate toward anything sharp, stabbing or burning.
The second principle is to remain still. With the muscles relatively relaxed, the stress will transfer to the denser connective tissues. Keep in mind, you are not fixed in a single spot for the duration of the pose. Do be sure to change the angle of the pose to accommodate for any release, or to back away from sensation that becomes too intense.
Third, yin postures are held for longer periods of time. Postures can be held anywhere from three to even 20 minutes, but start with a time frame that makes sense for you, honoring the foregoing tenets.
Lastly, a fourth principle can be observed, and that is to release each pose with care. There will likely be a sense of fragility in the body as the tissues respond to the stress. Move slowly and mindfully as you transition.
Practice the postures sequentially as listed, allowing for 3-6 minutes in each pose. The postures that are suggested to be practiced in a series can be held for less time if needed.
Be certain to honor the tenets of the practice, and release sooner or change the angle of the pose in the event pain or sharp sensation arises. Get creative with how you navigate your experience, and be sure to give yourself at least 1-2 minutes between postures to rest in a prone or supine savasana, observing the effects. Static, muscular holds and even some slow, controlled dynamic movement are also appropriate ways to transition. It is normal to feel some fragility as you exit a posture, and that sensation may stay present for a minute or two.
Disclaimer: Not all yoga poses are suitable for all persons. Always consult your health care provider and obtain full medical clearance before practicing yoga or any other exercise program.
The information provided in this blog is strictly for reference only and is not in any manner a substitute for medical advice or direct guidance of a qualified yoga instructor.