In yoga and ayurveda, summer is known as the pitta time of year, a time where we honor the fire in ourselves and in the earth. It is a perfect time to cultivate a yoga practice because our bodies are warmer, and our muscles more receptive to a little lengthening and detoxifying. Also with summer, you can welcome the chance to find an outdoor space for your practice. Maybe a patch of grass under a favorite tree, a rooftop terrace, or better yet a sandy beach!
Finding time for a yoga practice can be intimidating. Maybe in your mind you are imagining that you are required to carve hours out of your busy day in order to have a “real” practice. Before I had my baby, I was used to having the time for a rigorous 2 hour practice. I needed to find a way to still make yoga a part of my life without feeling like I wasn’t doing enough. In this article, I will detail ways that you can build a practice to fit your day. It’s all about the way in which you begin and end your practice that gives it integrity. I will give you the tools to “book end” your practice, giving you the freedom to put whatever you need in the middle. I come from an Ashtanga background and find that the flow of this particular practice is comforting to me. We will begin with the Sun Salutations, end with the 3 Lotus Flowers, and I will give you some suggestions for postures in between. If you and your partner are both aspiring yogis, this can be a simple practice you can do together, or even with your children.
It is best to begin each practice with a few moments of quiet in a comfortable seated position. Now is the time to think about the intention of your practice. This will help you stay focused. If you find your mind drifting, you can bring your thoughts back to your intention and back to your practice. Perhaps you just want to concentrate on the breath, or even something as simple as warmth. I find that once we search for an intention, it is often the first thing we think of that we need the most.
Suryanamaskara A (or Sun Salute A)
Start with your hands by your sides, big toes touching.
With an inhale, reach up, look up.
Exhale. Fold at the waist, placing your hands on the mat on either side of your feet.
Inhale. Take your gaze forward.
Exhale, hop or step back, and lower down into Chaturanga.
Inhale into “Up Dog.”
Exhale into “Down Dog” and hold for five breaths. Make sure that your inhales and exhales are even and equal.
Inhale, take your gaze forward, and hop or step up to your hands.
Exhale. Tuck your chin.
Inhale. Come all the way back up, extending your arms overhead.
Repeat at least two more times
Now I am going to show you the way to end your practice. Some days, you will only have time for the Sun Salutations, Three Lotus Flowers, and Rest. It is important to understand that this can be a complete practice. Having a true beginning and end makes it whole and won’t leave you with an unfinished practice.
Three Lotus Flowers
You want to hold each of these three postures for ten breaths. Breathe deeply, in and out through your nose.
The first “Lotus Flower” is Yoga Mudra. It signifies the lotus that begins closed in the mud…
and floats away.
Here is a modification for the last posture.
It is not necessary to have your legs in a full lotus position. Simply bring the right foot in towards the body and stack the left foot in front. I like this option for many of my students because it allows the knees to open.
Take rest. Lie on the mat with your palms facing up. Allow your feet to fall open to the sides. Take a few inhales through the nose and exhale with a sigh. Ahhhh…
I close my classes with the Loving Kindness Meditation:
May you be filled with Loving Kindness.
May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy.
Now, here are a few options for other poses if you have time for a longer practice. I tell my classes that during a home practice, it is important to remember to stretch the spine in all directions.
Setu Bandasana B
I hope that you can use these tools to build a practice that feels like your own. Enjoy the pitta time of year. Namaste.
Jenna Wray Dworkin is an Ashtanga yoga instructor in Cairo, Egypt. She is a knitter, baker, quilter, wife to Ira, and a new mama to baby Ramona. To say hello to Jenna and learn more about her life in Egypt, visit her blog, Cairo Yogi.