I consider the weather and seasons when I create a yoga class. Ayurvedic principles allow me to see summertime sequences through the eyes of earth and space.
Space allows you to slow down, reflect and expand your body. Earth is the foundation that allows expansion. Yoga focuses on the earth element through standing poses, where the feet and hands are rooted to the ground.
This sequence is meant to balance the pitta qualities that are most prevalent in summer. Pitta, which is a mixture of water and fire, is responsible for hot, humid days and a hot, sticky physique.
This pitta-balancing exercise starts strong and slowly slows down to encourage coolness, introversion, etc.
Mountain with Mudras
Stand at the top of your mat and do Mountain Pose. bring your palms together in front of your heart. The thumbs and little fingers remain connected at the bend in the wrist.
Let the index, middle and ring fingers open gently into Lotus Mudra. The hands will appear like a flowering blossom, as the name suggests. This creates space and softness in the palms. It invites coolness and an open mind.
Standing Sun Breaths
Inhale and reach your arms up to the sky. Your fingertips will touch the ground. Gently press your fingertips toward the ground as you exhale. This movement can be repeated three to ten times. Slowly slow down, and you exhale as the progress of the movement.
Half Sun Salutation
Exhale and lift your arms. Inhale and stand forward, with your knees bent on the floor. Halfway up, inhale and hold the position. Your hands should press on your shins or touch the floor with your fingertips.
Fold forward and exhale. For Lotus Mudra, inhale and raise your arms above the heart. Half Sun Salutation can be repeated rounds. You can move slowly and at your own pace.
As the flow is less heating, I prefer the gentler Moon Salutation in summer to the more vigorous Sun Salutation.
Exhale and lift your arms. Inhale and move into Standing Forward Bend. Fold forward on an exhale and return to Low Lunge with your back knee on the floor. Exhale and lift your arms.
Inhale and do Half Splits. Straighten your front leg by folding it over, keeping your hands on the front leg. For support, place your hands on blocks if your hamstrings are tight. Breathe in, bend your right knee, and raise your arms above the head.
Warrior II Flow
Reach your arms out in a T for Warrior II by bending the right knee over the right ankle. To promote cooling, place your palms facing up in this variation. For three to five deep breaths, hold Warrior II.
Take a deep breath and straighten your right knee into Triangle. Your right hand can reach for the floor, the shin or a block with your right hand. To increase heat, lift your right hand from the base. For five to ten breaths, hold Triangle.
Inhale and move your right hand a few inches ahead of the right foot. If you have one, you can also bring your block. Then lift the left leg into Balancing Half Moon. As the right hip stacks above the left, the left leg extends back. The right arm can hold on to the right hip or reach the sky. Relax your gaze, which can point toward your big toe or upwards toward your thumb. Relax your back and feel the space between your limbs. For three to five deep breaths, hold Balancing Half Moon.
For the Tree pose, ground down through your right knee and place the soles of your left foot on the inside side of your right leg. You can rest your left foot on the shin or the thigh above the knee. Make sure your foot does not press into the knee joint. Either reach your arms high above your head or rest them on your hips. Whatever arm option you choose, ensure that your arms move away from your midline to open up your waist and armpits. Hold the Tree pose for 5-10 breaths.
Keep your left foot elevated from the Tree. Reach for your left foot and reach for your big toe. Then, extend your left leg straight ahead for the Extended Hand-toss-toe pose. For those unfamiliar with this pose, bend your left knee and wrap your fingers around the front part of the shin. For three to five deep breaths, hold the position.