What does it mean to live in harmony with nature and the cycle of seasons? And how could our yoga practice help?
As the seasons change we begin to make changes in our lives. In winter we want to spend more time indoors and rest more. When summer arrives and the temperatures rise we begin to spend more time outdoors in nature. These are usually very natural changes we notice as our bodies are connected to nature and the cycle of the seasons.
June 21st marks the summer solstice; the longest day of the year and the first day of summer. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, summer is the element of fire and ruled by the heart and fire is the energy of creativity and resolve. The extra hours of sunlight and the warmth of the sun can help us recharge after the colder months - we may spend more time socialising and travelling. It is the season of growth and we can also see this in the natural world.
Whilst the warmer weather can help energise us we may also experience excessive heat, and when this happens we look for water - a cold glass of water, a shower, maybe a swim - we seek balance. Fire is the most 'yang' element and water is the most 'yin' element. And this same idea applies to our yoga practice too; when our internal temperature rises in the warmer weather we look to find balance by cooling the body.
We can do this in a number ways, for example we can add poses like forward folds to our practice to help cool the body and calm the nervous system. We can also practice cooling pranayama such as Sitali (curling the tongue and inhaling as if drinking through a straw and exhaling through the nose).
As the summer invites us to spend more time socialising and being outdoors, our practice is an opportunity to bring harmony; balancing this external focus with internal reflection... for example we might move more slowly and add restorative poses to our practice. This awareness of the energy of the season and how we restore balance can help us feel more connected and in rhythm with nature.
In our summer flow workshop we will explore how we connect with our changing environment as we move from spring to summer. In a practice informed by the teachings of Katonah Yoga (a Hatha based practice incorporating Taoist theory and geometry) we’ll get creative with our sun salutations, exploring the element of water and move through a flowing sequence towards more restorative poses. With cooling pranayama and a grounding meditation this workshop will set you up to feel more connected and energised for the season ahead.
Elson M. Hass, ‘Staying Healthy with the Seasons’