Summer activities should be fun and not produce so much heat that we become dehydrated and exhausted. Walking, biking or jogging on pavement during midday when it is the hottest may result in a ‘pitta imbalance’. This type of imbalance usually doesn’t feel good from the heart center outwards. A pitta imbalance will result in inflammation mentally, physically and emotionally.
Allow your yoga to change in the summer months. Instead of driving to a class, lay out your mat and trust yourself to choose a flow of postures in the supine position that stretch the big muscles of the hips and legs encouraging space for increased flexibility in the entire organism! Move your body instinctively by following your own easy breath. Practice your yoga outside in a shady spot in the morning or in the evening by yourself or with others. Tune in to your senses, it’s guaranteed to be the best music you’ll ever hear; see the leaves on the trees and the color of the sky; feel the weather on your skin and stop and smell the flowers, you’ll be glad you did.
Your yoga practice may be Savasana only, let it be and surrender.
We need to trust ourselves and slow down. Use conscious breathing for 6-10 cycles to know what you are hungry for…a salad, a swim, a cool drink, a leisurely walk by yourself or with friends. Take a vacation from work or home by planning to turn off your phone or TV and go outside. Enjoy yourself during the summer months a breath at a time.
Practice simple breath awareness any time, anywhere. Breathing can be conscious or unconscious…start by observing your natural breath. Close your eyes to take away distraction and focus on your breath. As soon as you become a silent observer of your own breath, notice how you may want to take a deeper inhale or you might feel like sighing through the mouth on an exhale. Take your time and shift your attention from the natural breath to where your body moves when you breathe and back again to the breath. Scan the body, from the belly to the side ribs, up into the chest, as well as the upper, middle and lower back. Can you feel the air circulating at your nostrils as you inhale and exhale? Continue to focus on shifting your attention from the breath to the body and back again to the breath…this is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the first step in the relaxation response decreasing cortisol levels and resulting in stress release. Lots of people never even realize they are ‘stressed out‘ until they begin a mindfulness exercise like breath awareness.
Why should we stop and listen to our breath? It helps bring awareness to what we really need in the moment. When we actually stop and listen, the body will tell us to what it needs…food, water, rest, maybe a swim or stretching.
Go outside more this summer and sit or lie down on the grass or sand in the cool morning or evening hours and tune in to your senses…seeing without really looking, hearing without listening and enjoy nature. Enjoy relaxing rather than rushing and your body will respond by decreasing the hormones insulin and cortisol, reducing stress and tension. Before or after you eat, take a 30 minute vacation outside and do nothing, absolutely NOTHING and enjoy what you feel, see, hear and smell during the summer.
This is mindfulness meditation.