Igniting the Fire Element
May 21st - 20th June
We find ourselves during this time, somewhere between Spring and Summer, that exciting time when Nature teases us with a taster of longer days and warmer weather. In seasonal yoga we use these weeks between the seasons to prepare and warm the body for the heat of summer; the most yang phase of the year.
Early summer yoga is all about igniting the fire, or agni, in our bodies, warming up and stretching the connective tissue, generating heat and circulating energy.
Connective tissue is a living web of tissue which permeates every fibre of our body, separating and yet connecting everything within us. It binds, supports and protects other tissues of the body, giving us shape and helps to restrain our movements. The connective tissue acts as a protector in times of trauma or stress, by freezing and protecting the tissues of the muscles, organs, ligaments and tendons which it surrounds. This freeze however can result in the tissues tightening and if this is left over time, can cause a stiffening and hardening of the tissue and a ‘blockage’ may arise, stopping the flow of energy and communication to cells.
This is why it is so important to keep the connective tissue moving and hydrated, and yoga helps to stretch and compress these blocked or damaged fibres, allowing for lengthening and freeing up any built-up toxic particles.
The energy for Early Summer is of calmness, sociability, feeling relaxed and having a clear mind. An imbalance in energy creates absent mindedness, over focus on work, shyness and excessive joking.
How are you feeling at the moment? Assess your energy levels, re-balance your yin and yang, find that happy medium whereby you are busy and active but not stressed or over-worked.
The organs related to this season are the Pericardium, which is the sac that surrounds and protects the heart, and the Triple Heater, which creates heat and circulates energy via our connective tissue/fascia. Interestingly the Triple Heater is directly linked to the Hypothalamus, which is the body's thermostat. When we are angry it causes the heat in our body to rise to our head and neck. When we are fearful the heat is directly downward, and explains why the colour is drained from our face and we can go pale when in shock or fear. However when we feel balanced and calm, the heat tends to be distributed evenly over the body.
The meridian lines (energy pathways that flow through our body) for the pericardium, starts just above the nipple, runs up the shoulder, all the way down the inner arm, crossing the palm and ending in the corner of the middle finger.
For the triple heater, the meridian starts from the tip of the ring finger, all the way up to the shoulder, then round the back of the neck and ear, ending in the corner crease of the eyebrow.
In our yoga practise, the focus for early Summer is stretching the fascia, opening the fabric of the body and creating heat in the body.
Include sequences and flows in your practise that take the energy out and then back in again. Open your chest and spread your arms wide, opening the heart centre, physically and emotionally. Use your mat and flow from one side to the other, stretching and lengthening to open the fascia and warm your body.
Work the Pericardium and Triple Heater meridians in the arms by including poses such as:
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II), Vashistasana (Side Plank), Garudasana (Eagle)
A few rounds of Sun Salutation every morning is a wonderful way to wake up the body, stretch the connective tissue and flush the energy from head to toe!
The colour for Early Summer is red, so when it comes to food, choose fresh ingredients such are strawberries, beetroot, red peppers and tomatoes.
Increase your Vitamin C intake as this is very important to the heath of your immune system and connective tissue.
Look after your skin at this time of year, as it is the largest piece of connective tissue of the body. Keep hydrated - drink plenty of water. By working on the fascia we stimulate blood flow and help the lymphatic system to drain waste products.
Try dry skin body brushing; exfoliating; moisturising with lotions or oils; have a massage to release any tension, either in the body or mind.
Roll out your mat, put a smile on your face, and get your body and mind ready for the summer!