By Blair Phillips of Dune Folk Yoga & Wellness
In observing Mother Nature and her stunning changes over the course of a year, a beautiful rhythm can be seen.
Energies shift, evolve and flow with the seasons in a stunning symphony that is nothing short of awe inspiring.
As we humans are so intrinsically linked to nature, it stands to reason that our own energies ebb and flow with the seasons. We too can look to nature to help us navigate our way through the energetic shifts throughout the year.
I’ve previously written Journal posts on the other three seasons* that you might wish to refer to (linked throughout this paragraph), but in short the flow of energy can be summed up as follows: In Autumn the energy begins to move inward and like the trees shedding their leaves, we too are called to release what is no longer serving us. Winter is a time for introspection and hibernation, when we draw our attention and energy inward, slow down, reflect and rejuvenate. Spring is the season of change and rebirth, where our energy begins to move outward. It is a perfect opportunity to plant seeds and set intentions for what we wish to cultivate in the coming months. Then comes Summer, a season of expansion, action, vitality, joy, movement and abundance where we are able to enjoy the manifestation of all we have created over the previous months.
Let’s delve more deeply into this sunshine season to learn how we can make the most of this coming Summer.
For me, Summer brings with it sweet thoughts of long days spent at the beach, nights that go on forever, salty skin and sandy toes (this also has the less appealing side effect of sand in my bedsheets, but I digress…). Your personal association with Summer will vary, but for all of us the longer days and shorter nights generally invite a greater ‘fullness’ to life. The warmer weather and longer days make most of us more inclined to be drawn out of our homes and into our communities, increasing our physical and social activity.
This expansive and more outward energy of Summer encourages time outdoors in mother natures playground, as well to making it easier to connect and experience joy with others.
While this is invigorating and fun, sometimes all of the activity and stimulation can be unsettling, so it’s important to undertake practices that are cooling, grounding and calming to balance the fullness of Summer.
In your yoga practice, the heat of Summer can be draining, so slower movements and longer holds in asanas (physical postures) make for a beautiful cooling practice on warm days. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, Summer is ruled by the fire element and the heart and small intestine meridian pair are dominant. The heart meridian, broadly speaking, runs from the chest, through the arm pit and down the inner arm and is associated with enthusiasm, laughter, warmth and joy and expresses itself in our creativity, communication and interactions. Yin shapes targeting the upper body such as melting heart, sphinx, bananasana, open wing pose and reclined twists with the arm overhead are beautiful to include in your Summer yin practice.
Alternately, you might feel into the active and vital energies of Summer and ramp up the intensity of your yoga practice with more dynamic practices such as vinyasa or slow flow. Incorporating heart opening (backbend) poses including camel, bridge, wheel and fish are a great way to connect to the abundant heart energy available in these months also. Just be sure to try to bookend the day with these stronger practices rather than doing them in the hottest part of the day as they tend to exacerbate heat in the body. As always, take the time to get quiet, still and connect inward when you come to the mat. This will enable you to follow your intuition and move in a way that best serves you at that time, just don’t forget to find follow the joy in your practice, as joy is so deeply connected to the heart and Summer.
With all of this outward and expansive Summer energy, a regular meditation practice to keep you connected inward is a wonderful asset. To stay grounded, walk barefoot in nature and feel your feet connect to the earth. This is a particularly beautiful practice for sunrise. If you feel ‘heady’ but can’t get outside, no worries! You can visualise walking barefoot in the great outdoors or practice alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana) for similar grounding effects.
Finally, I encourage you to bring ritual into your life to help to recognise and more deeply connect with the flow of energy throughout the year. A beautiful ritual to observe is the Summer Solstice, the day where the earth is bathed in the most light, which for us Southern Hemisphere folk occurs on December 21st. You might wish to watch the sunrise and/or sunset on this day, wear bright sunny colours such as yellow, red or orange, mediate outdoors, enjoy a feast of Summer produce with loved ones or practice sun salutations in your yoga practice. Otherwise, make a ritual of your own or share it with your family or friends. In any case, it’s a beautiful opportunity to invite light and love to the world and feel deeply into gratitude for the sun, earth and mother nature and all they gift to us.
So, there you have it friends, some ideas for how to embrace the energy of Summer and make the most of this beautiful season. I hope it’s one filled with connection, love and happiness for you and your special ones.
*It is important to be aware that these four seasons (Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring) are just one interpretation of a yearly rhythm that connect to the four most well known seasons observed in western culture, however, there are many other versions of seasons in different, such as those observed by Indigenous Australians which vary according to the climate in different parts of the country.
‘Insight Yoga’ by Sarah Powers
‘The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga’ by Bernie Clarke