Summer Heart Opening Yoga (part two-revised)
**This is an updated post that I originally posted a year ago. It's the second part of a series. Click here for the first part. It's important to me as a yoga teacher and practitioner to keep the information on my site current.**
I discussed why summer can bring about low energy and lethargy in part one of Summer Heart Opening Yoga Sequence. This post will focus on the imbalance of excessive heat, which can bring about feelings of aggression or negative energy during the summer. This Summer Heart Opening Yoga Sequence features yin yoga poses to invite inner peace and inward vision. Going inward can help to calm the excessive heat that is heightened in some bodies during the warm seasons.
When agni, the fire element, becomes too much in the body, aggression, irritation and impulsiveness can result. If this describes you during the summer or maybe at this moment, balancing the body by doing cooling and soothing activities can help. Swimming, slow yoga or resting can help the body. Using restorative yoga or yin yoga can help easy the body and mind as well. Take some time to slow down and breath for a few minutes (or longer, if you like) many times throughout the day. This will help allow the heart space to receive rather than to react.
Practicing chest opening poses within a slower yang (faster paced yoga) or yin (longer held poses) yoga practice can help bring balance to overactive fire in the body. These slower paced practices can help to cool the body and internal fire. Using meditation and imaging can help to reduce fire in the body as well.
Other Ways to Cool the Body
Another ways to manage fire imbalance is by taking in more cooling foods. Foods with more water content like apples, cranberries, watermelon, cucumber, lettuce, and kale help hydrate and cool the body.
The following yin yoga sequence opens the heart and large intestine meridians, which can push toxins and imbalances out. If you prefer a more yang based yoga practice, you can do the following poses without holding for minutes at a time. Move between two or three poses, holding for 4-5 breaths at a time before moving to the next set. Or try this Summer Heart Opening Yin Yoga Sequence to tame the abundance of fire in the body.
Yin Yoga Sequence
Seated Meditation: Sitting in sukasana (easy cross-legged pose) bring palms to the knees. Closing the eyes, begin to focus the breath and slow the mind. Be in the present and make the inhales match the exhales. Stay here for at least 10 breaths.
Anahatasana (melting heart pose): Come to hands and knees, walk the hands out toward the front of the mat. Inhale and begin to melt the chest down toward the mat, bringing the forehead to the mat. Breath here for 3-5 breaths.
Salamba Bhujangasana (sphinx pose): From hands and knees, lower down to the belly, bringing elbow under the shoulders. Walk the inner thighs and feet together. Inhale extending the crown of the head up, gazing forward. This stretches the front body from the collar bones to the belly.
Tadpole with shoulder stretch: In hands and knees, walk the knees out slightly wider than the hips, turning the toes out (like a frog). Inhale, raising the right arm, exhale interlacing the right arm in between the left arm and left leg. Rest the right temple on the mat, breathing into the area between the legs and shoulder blades. Take a few breaths here and switch sides.
Caterpillar pose (Paschimottanasana): From a seated position, extend the legs out in front of you. Rooting down through the seating bones, inhale the arms up above your head. Exhale reaching forward, slowly bringing the heads to the shins, ankles or feet. Being mindful that the hips do not rotate back and that the low back is not strained. Put a bend in the knees if needed or a folded blanket under the hips.
Supported Fish pose: Using a block, rolled mat or blanket place the prop on the mat, parallel to the long side of your mat. Lay down facing up, with the prop right under the chest (in between the shoulder blades). Allowing the crown of the head to reach the mat and feeling the chest open and expand. Stay here as longs feels good.
Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana): Lay on your back, bringing your knees in toward your chest. Inhale, parting your knees and exhale as you reach your arms in between the legs and grabbing the outer edges of your feet. Keep the bottoms of the feet parallel to the sky, bending the knees along side the torso. Stay still or rock from side to side, massaging the low back. This pose helps to reset the spine and stretch the hamstrings and inner thighs.
Twisted Roots: Place the soles of the feet on the mat, with knees bent and hip width apart. Walk the left foot toward the midline of the body and cross the right leg over the left. Inhale extending the arms out into a "T". Exhale and release the knees over to the left, coming into a twist. Gaze up or out toward the right hand, keeping the shoulder blades working into the mat. Stay here a few breaths and inhale to center, switching sides.
Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana): Walk the soles of the feet together while laying on your back. Allow the knees to open to the sides, letting gravity pull the knees closer to the earth (if there is discomfort here, place a block, or books if you don't have yoga blocks, under each thigh, to bring the earth closer to you). Close the eyes and relax here with arms by your sides, palms facing up. Stay here as long as you like.
Disclaimer: The information on this website (Alt Yoga Vibe) is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical treatment or hands on instruction. If you are experiencing any severe pain or symptoms, please consult a healthcare practitioner.