Sun salutations

Mollie McClelland Morris offers some tips for how to ‘summerise’ your yoga practice

Many people find that their yoga practice shifts during the course of the year. This can happen because the body feels different, based on the temperature of the environment, and how much we get out and about. Or it can be a conscious change to make the practice reflect the seasons. Either way, with a series called ‘sun salutations’ as part of the daily repertoire, there are many adjustments you can do in the summer to shift your practice and enjoy the summer through yoga.

Yoga in fresh air

Of course, the first option is just to take it outside. Some practitioners notice a real change when they practise in the fresh air, like their energy circulates, and they feel in their environment in a different way. This might be why photos of yoga poses on the beach are so popular.

How to take it outside? Look out for special events from your teachers in parks, or classes as part of festivals and city events. Many yoga clothing companies host outdoor classes in the summer, many of which are free. Or, just take your own mat to your local park, and spend a few minutes doing your own outdoor practice.

Here are a few tips. Mats feel really different on grass. I prefer to practise without a mat, or even on something different like a picnic blanket. Find what works for you. You might find you still like your mat for lying down, but standing up feels better on the ground. Practise in layers. A breeze that you don’t notice can give you a chill when you are sweaty. So, if you practise outside, make sure you have some clothing options. And adjust your practice. Balancing might be more of a challenge, and some sequences are difficult on bumpy ground. Be flexible with your practice and feel what works. It can be an opportunity to be creative with yourself. For example, practising handstands can be great on grass because it feels a bit freer than a studio setting.

Expand your movement range

Many yoga teachers adjust some of their sequences, imagery and inspiration based on the seasons. Most yoga studios are heated well but, even still, the body generally needs less of a warm-up in the summer. It can be a time to practise more mobility exercises and expand your range of movement because the body is generally warmer and more supple. Because the body is generally more mobile, it is not a time to overstretch. Treat your yoga poses as an expression of the mobility and range of the body, rather than as a chance to push it.

At its essence, yoga is about connecting to your body, breath and spirit, and connecting your individual experience to the greater and wider world. So, you can bring the practice of awareness and connection to any activity, from walking on the beach, to swimming, to simply feeling the sun on your skin. Take the time to feel the experience deeply, the feel of your skin, the light, how your body experiences moving. In the cold we tend to shrink, to wrap ourselves up, to huddle into ourselves. In summer, the body might experience more spaciousness. If you do have moments of feeling that, let your mind register it. You can then take those experiences into your practice.

Imagining the experience of the summer sun on your skin can transform how you feel in your practice. When you do your regular yoga practice, imagine your skin bathed in sunlight, especially the skin on your face. Or imagine swimming between your poses, like you are moving through water. This kind of imagery can transform your embodiment – how you experience your yoga in your body. You might become more mindful of your transitions and the micro movements in your body, which has added benefits.

In the summer, many of us are more inspired to move so it is a great time to practise yoga. Whether you decide to take your body outside to practise, or imagine the outside in your body, it can be inspiring and uplifting to connect to nature through your yoga practice, especially on a beautiful summer’s day.

Mollie McClelland Morris is a renowned London-based yoga teacher with more than 16 years of experience teaching, mentoring and encouraging people to live healthy, happy, mindful lives.
Visit www.molliemorris.com
/mollieyoga or
@mollieyoga

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