Summer has arrived and the one question out there for every yogi has to be: What can you do this season to live your yoga on and off the mat? The answer might not be what you’re thinking.
As busy yogis, we sometimes forget in our quest for handstand or our drive to master touching our toes, that one of the deeper benefits of yoga is the power it gives us to simply…live better.
Yoga's Biggest Gift and What to Do With It
Yoga teaches us to cultivate awareness, live with intention and take inspired action.
With these simple ideas as a guide, and a little Ayurvedic wisdom as a foundation, we have all we need to navigate through the ups and downs of each moment and each season in a way that allows us to look, feel and be the healthiest and most authentic expression of who we are.
Ayurveda teaches us that seasons are a big deal because what goes on outside of us, is also going on within. So if you’re wondering how to do summer as a yogi and to really shine this season, start with awareness.
If we really want to be at our best this summer, it’s important that we transition fully into it by acknowledging everything that comes with it from the weather (what’s it like where you are…hot, dry, humid, intense), to the food (what’s in season in YOUR local area) to the way it makes us feel (hot, tired, happy, energized, aggravated).
Then let's ask ourselves, how can we use everything we love and despise about the season to create an opportunity to shine?
From there, the only thing left is to take inspired action! Which might look a little bit like this:
Summer is one of the busiest times of the year and life can get pretty intense. If we’re not careful, we can start to feel the heat inside and out, and experience things like inflammation, skin issues, anger, aggravation, and even digestive upsets.
One of the keys to staying balanced during this time of year is tuning in to your own tendency to push yourself or overdo things. Pause and take a closer look at how the intensity on the outside is impacting your internal weather, and then ask yourself what you can do to…
Balance the mental and physical intensity of the season by resolving to find as many ways as possible to keep your cool…which can actually be as simple as just thinking, "I’m cool!"
Give yourself space to step back from potentially heated interactions, and hang out in cool spots like the pool, the beach, or even the movies! Use the cooling power of the breath (sheetali pranayama, and chandra bhedana “left nostril breathing") as your own internal A/C, and make sure to…
Eat This, Not That
Go easier on the alcohol and caffeine. Take a break from processed foods and dive into the juicy, sweet fruits and veggies that nature has made readily available this time of year; melon, grapes, sweet berries and stone fruit (plums, apricots, etc.), leafy greens, sprouts and root veggies are all perfectly balancing options for summer!
Hang up your hot sauce, ease up on the chilis and slow your consumption of sour and salty stuff, especially if you’re feeling the heat. You’ll also want to…
Follow the Energy
Harmonize your day with the cycles of nature. Try getting up a little earlier to greet the sun and avoid losing your cool by staying busy in the early part of the morning, saving the late morning to early afternoon time slot for slower, less intense and more routine activities (like enjoying a nice lunch).
Resist the temptation to stay up late (especially if the sun goes down late where you are), and try to get to bed by 10pm. And when it’s time to jump on your mat…
Practice Earth and Water
Earth is strong and stabilizing and water is fluid, tranquil, soft and yielding. Seek to embody these qualities in your summertime yoga practice.
Forward bends and gentle twists can weave release into your practice while standing poses cultivate steadiness, ease, and just the right amount of stillness to leave you feeling luminous rather than burned out.
Consider how you can make the shift in your yoga to create a balance between these two sets of qualities that offsets the intensity of the season, and nourishes everything else that’s going on your life.
Remember, yoga teaches us that
The only real life is one that is lived awake and in harmony with the world around us.
Oh, and if you’re someone who naturally thrives during the summer, consider these recommendations as an opportunity to tap into and fine tune the more subtle aspects of you and your relationship with summer.
And although our practice of yoga is there to help us discover the truth about who we are, the only real way to live it is by taking our yoga off the mat!