Everything in nature is connected. So as human beings, we too are enmeshed in the natural world.
This means that as the seasons change, our bodies, minds, and emotions are affected by the altering weather. As June is upon us, we can shift with the changing climates and more joyfully transition into summer as we alter our lives to be in harmony with our environment.
Change can often put us out of sorts—even with wonderful changes, like the welcoming of a new time of year. We can become so excited about the extra hours of light, the warmer breezes, the social events, barbecues, camping—perhaps even more love—that we become carried away.
We can also become agitated by the heat of these months, overextended, and burned—and not just on our noses and shoulders.
Being swept up by this marvelous time of year is wonderful, but it may wreak havoc on our bodies and emotions when we do get too carried away. In yoga, the focus is always on balance. June is the opportune time to begin practicing leveling out the more hectic pace of summer.
As a fundamental goal of yoga, we attempt to create union and synchronicity between body, mind, and breath, but also between our outer world and our inner one. We believe that as we calm our internal experience, our lives—work, family, study, and play—become more equanimous as well.
A traditional Indian medicine that is practiced as a sister science to yoga, is called Ayurveda (often referred to as the “science of life”). This is an ancient skill of healing that works from a holistic approach and focuses on adjusting our lifestyles with the seasons.
It is believed that the different times of the year are represented by different doshas (temperaments) and so are each of our bodies. Doshas are a primary energy or characteristic that is present and must be balanced in order to create harmony. The three doshas are Vata (air element, which is represented by cold, dry, and light), Kapha (water element, which is represented by heaviness, slowness, and lubrication), and Pitta (fire element, which is represented by heat, moistness, and burning).
In Ayurveda, the temperament of summer is Pitta. Often, we use foods to balance out these doshas and we also use yoga postures.
So as June unfurls her sweet petals, we can stay open to her warm charms by practicing a little ancient wisdom. Here is a yoga pose that is perfect for creating balance in June, as well as a few foods to focus on when we are feeling we need cooling and slowing down:
Legs-up-the-wall, Viparita Karani (Viparita = Reversed and inverted. Karani = Doing and action).
This pose is spoken of throughout the yogic world as the pose that could heal most anything. It is a go-to when we need calming, centering, and restoration. It is also said to help with anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, and arthritis.
For this posture, we will be lying on the floor with our legs vertically resting up a wall. We may want to use a yoga mat or blanket to lay on, as well as another blanket to roll up and put beneath our sacrum while our legs are inverted.
Step 1) Lay out mat or blanket next to a wall. Depending on our height, place rolled up blanket closer or farther away from the wall. If we are taller, it will be farther away—shorter, it will be closer.
Step 2) Next, we lie on our right side with a rolled blanket behind us and the wall next to our buttocks and feet. As we exhale, roll to the left swinging legs up the wall and sacrum onto rolled up blanket in one motion. Adjust blanket and buttocks so that they are a comfortable distance from the wall so that legs can extend upward enjoyably. Depending on flexibility this may mean our buttocks are right next to the wall or up to five to nine inches away. Follow what feels right for your unique body.
Step 3) Connect to your breath. Notice the exhale and the inhale. Try to slow your breathing down, just a bit. Keep legs relaxed, but firm enough to hold them in place. Enjoy our heals against the wall. Relax the belly and let the sacrum sink into the rolled up blanket beneath it.
Stay in this pose between 5-15 minutes. When finished, press feet into wall, remove blanket under sacrum. Lower bottom down to the floor as we exhale and bend knees and roll back to the right side. Take a few breaths and rise up when ready.
Cooling foods that help balance June’s Pitta:
>> Choose foods that are moist by nature, like cucumbers, melons, and fresh greens.
>> Light foods are best for the summer months, so are partially raw meals. Rich and dense foods can be lessened now.
>> Spices that balance pitta are mint, fennel, cilantro, cumin, and coriander. (A great salad for this month is homemade coleslaw with mint, cumin, and coriander dressing instead of mayonnaise.)
As we unite with the splendour of June, our bodies will naturally be inclined to crave balance. Let’s support them in doing so with movements and foods that enable us to.
Summer, we want to welcome you!
Author: Sarah Norrad
Editor: Travis May