With spring and summer come warmth, the promise of more time outside and, for some of us, the waning of our yoga practice. This summer has been a special one - sunshine for weeks on end, with the promise of more to come.
I understand. If it’s a hot day, you’re feeling too sluggish.
If it’s a nice day, you’d rather be outside.
For some, the school holidays have started, the kids are home and you’ve got no childcare. You’re going to be out of town a lot. The list goes on.
But here’s the thing: practicing yoga during the warmer months is a whole different animal. Like some sort of flexible relaxed animal (think cat lying supine in the sun). Your body is more open and your muscles juicier with the warm weather. And that peaceful, easy feeling of summer lends itself nicely to your yoga practice. You know it won’t let you down.
Still, all of those reasons for allowing the yoga practice to falter during the warmer months loom.
Everybody has their own reasons for coming to the mat.
In the beginning, you may have come to the yoga practice for the physical benefits. Many of us did. The studio was warm and it felt good to stretch, build muscle, get your heart going and sweat. Then when the warmer weather came, you traded in the practice for cycling, running, swimming or other outdoor activities.
But over time, the practice started to penetrate deeper and though you still love those outdoor activities, something’s missing.
It’s yoga. It’s the breath, the mindfulness and that certain peace of mind that come with the practice. And when you stop the practice, you notice that absence.
So what’s a parent/heat dodger/outdoor enthusiast/ traveler to do?
If you’re a parent, you know that summer brings a compromise to your freedom. The children are home and there are new challenges. (You know what we’re talking about.) So really, this is NOT the ideal time to drop your practice. If anything, you need it now more than ever.
Find a parent who practices around the same time you do, and watch each other’s children while taking class. For example, you watch the kids during the 5:15 PM, and the other parent watches the kids while you’re at the 6:45 PM. Take them to the library or a nearby park for a picnic. The kids get some time to run around and you get your time to centre.
It seems too hot to do any kind of movement.
During the warmer months, there’s this thing called morning.
Actually, it’s available during the winter too but largely avoided as winter’s version of morning is often unkind. In the summer though, the morning is wonderful.
The birds chirp, the air is clear, the sun is just waking up and it’s cooler. Sometimes SO MUCH cooler.
Having a regular morning yoga practice during the warmer months is great because it gets you up and stretched and ready to take advantage of all of the activities that come with the summer. A morning practice can also keep you from feeling depleted from the heat at the end of the day.
If you are an avowed night owl and the morning just doesn’t jive with your circadian rhythms, then consider a gentle class later in the evening when the sun is lower and you don’t require coffee to be human.
Also, keep in mind that your body has different nutritional needs in the summer than in the winter. While outdoor gatherings abound with rich and heavy foods, try to also take advantage of the fresh fruits and leafy greens available in abundance during the summer months.
And drink water. A lot of it. Making these changes can help you face the heat of the day and sustain your practice without you fizzling out by 2pm.
You just don’t feel motivated to practice when it’s nice outside.
And there will be days when the blue of the sky, the smell of the flowers or the happy hour on the patio will call to you. So be it. Take advantage and enjoy. But it doesn’t take long for many of us to soon find an excuse the next day, and the next day, and the next day… you get the point.
And soon enough, you’re feeling “off.”
Consider creating a challenge. It could be goal of a certain number of practices each week, or setting a specific schedule with a friend and making each other accountable. You could even talk to the studio owner and see if they’d be interested in starting something studio-wide to get more people involved.
There’s strength in solidarity. Plus, you can all go out for coffee or tea afterward. Or happy hour.
I’m definitely not motivated when I go on holiday.
Then give yourself a break. Seriously.
You want your practice to be a place of salvation, not a prison. And if you’re scheduling a vacation and trying to cram in a practice every day, then practice some surrender. Taking a short hiatus of a week or two isn’t going to cause you to lose your practice. Sometimes it’s just what you need.
Consider it a long savasana where your body gets to assimilate your steady and consistent practice up to that point. And when you return to the mat, you’ll feel refreshed and restored in your practice.
In a nutshell, summer is an amazing time to practice yoga.
You can enjoy the sultriness of the air, the increased flexibility of your body and maybe even do a little detoxing if you sweat.
When you keep up with your practice in the warmer months, it’s all that much easier to jump back into the routine once September rolls around. Having sustained your steady diet of yoga, you’ll be sporting a great peace of mind.