Summer is a time for relaxation and fun with more open schedules, warmer weather, outdoor activities and vacations. However, there can also be a sense of pressure and stress in trying to meet our expectations of a laid-back season.
Just the other day, I looked at my calendar and felt overwhelmed by all of the activities on it. Delving deeper, I realized that I needed to create some space to simply be: read a book, go deeper into my meditation practice, savor the smell of a peach as I cut into it or the smell of flowers while sitting in my yard.
Taking the time to be present in the moment is a beautiful practice in its own right, and yoga and meditation are two ways achieve that goal by creating a space within, bringing your attention inward and turning your thoughts away from distractions.
Yoga peels away the layers and helps you become attuned to your true identity — connecting body, mind and breath.
Through a regular yoga practice you learn to listen to your body, tune into your breath and become aware of the chattering taking place in your head, eventually creating peace and freedom from anxiety, stress and unrealistic expectations.
In the heat of summer it’s easy to become consumed by the sensations brought on by the heat: irritation, fatigue, anxiety, anger and restlessness. Beat the heat and take the opportunity to slow down. Try a slower yoga class, such as Yin Yoga, which involves deeper floor stretches, or opt for a slower flow class if you’re a Power Yoga person.
Meditation keeps you refreshed during the heat of the summer — allowing an open mind to explore the rhythm of the season.
Meditation helps keep the mind relaxed, which is extremely important during the peak of summer when the rising temperatures outside cause an increase in body heat, adding to the level of stress and irritation within.
Just taking the time to be still and find something to focus on — your breath, the beat of your heart, a mantra or a meaningful word — can help you slow down and appreciate the abundance in your life.
Combine the art of yoga and meditation by doing cooling breathing exercises.
If you only have a few minutes in your day to devote to yourself, combine the benefits of yoga and meditation by doing one or both of the following cooling breathing exercises:
Left nostril pranayama: Starting with your right thumb, hold your right nostril closed and breathe slowly in and out through the left nostril. Pause at the inhale and exhale. Do for 4-8 minutes.
Shitali pranayama: Shitali in Sanskrit literally translates to “cooling.” Sitting in a comfortable position, take 2-3 deep breaths, roll your tongue (or purse your lips in a “O” shape if you can’t roll your tongue), and inhale deeply through your mouth and exhale through your nose. Do this 5-10 times until you feel the cooling effects.
By taking the time to tune into your breath and body through yoga and meditation, you can truly nurture yourself, allowing greater awareness and ability to enjoy the summer season, being present to all it has to offer.