By Sylvia Channing, June, 2018
Moving into summer, the yoga practice should shift towards containment and purification of the expansive, creative spring energies of April and May. In June, berries take the place of blossoms and the trees send their energy to be stored in sweet fruit. The body’s internal furnace, shifting to accommodate sunshine and longer days, must be stoked to create energy for summer projects.
In some ways, June is the fullest time of year. The earth is nourished, radiant and pregnant with possibility. This is a time to take a moment and survey the work you’ve done on your asanas this spring, add up the lessons and look at the whole picture. Does the tree have roots deep enough to bear the summer harvest? Is there a major leak or blockage in the system? Does a pose’s anatomy support its physiology?
The asana practice purifies the body with heat (tapas). The torso, or “kumba” is considered a container for tapas. With three main bandhas, loosely translated to energetic locks or “valves,” the kumba can leak energy without proper alignment in the pose. If we overwork, the way we release this heat from the body (grunting, breathing heavily, injuring ourselves) can leak heat and important life energy, or prana, and it is lost before nourishing all the systems of our body.
In June, let a strong focus on grounding give way to a feeling of expansion. Seek not endless, unchecked expansion, but instead let communication inside the pose be such that expansion is entirely supported by grounding. Keep coming back to the bones of the pose, but start to lean back, relax and see how the whole thing is humming along.
If spring is a time for clearing out the old, building new schedules, patterns, routines; early summer is the time to put those new patterns into play. Let the focus of your practice start to tip from form towards function. Tune your attention to alignment but see the whole pose. Enjoy your time on the mat. Let the poses sing! Listen and respond. Let the cues from your teacher (or if you’re a teacher, the ones you use yourself) help create a container for your practice. The patterns of attention, compassion and action we work on in class can emanate out to the farthest reaches of our experience. Have santosha (contentment) with what is and see the bigger picture. There is beauty abounding.