To best sync with this specific time of the year, we take advantage of the long days, the warmth in the air and the beautiful ripeness of the natural world, by soaking up rays, traveling, eating ripe fruit, spending time appreciating nature’s bounty and socializing more than we do throughout the rest of the year. In our practice, we take on expressive postures, especially more backbends. The heart is the organ associated with Summer and the element is fire. We stoke the flame and stretch open the front of the body. Try these postures to harmonize perfectly with the season and take advantage of the high energy.
1. Wheel: Wheel is a fully expressed back bend. It stretches open the front of the body and opens the wrists. Start laying on your back, bend your knees and place the soles of the feet down, hips width apart. Place your palms by your ears. Press down into your hands and feet and lift first onto the crown of your head. Wrap the elbows in, and push down to lift yourself all the way up. Want more? Extend the legs up one at a time. Start with 5 breaths.
2. Pigeon as a back bend: Come into pigeon on the right side. Make sure your right knee is off to its own side, with your shin at a nice diagonal and your heel pulled close to the opposite groin. Bend the left leg and grab for the ankle with the left hand. There are several variations with the arms, depending on the openness of the spine and shoulders. Start easy and work towards full expression. Each side, 5 breaths, working towards more and deeper expressions.
3. Dancer’s Pose: This standing backbend works at opening the heart, quadriceps, hip flexors and balance. Stand into the right foot and bend the left ankle grabbing the foot on the inside arch. Begin to lift the knee and take the chest forward. Reach the right arm up. Perhaps, slide the foot into the crook of the knee and clasp hands. Take each side for 5 breaths.
4. Warrior: This balancing posture is strengthening and energizing. Stand on the right foot, bending the knee slightly. Begin to cantilever, extending the left leg back as the torso comes forward. There are many hand variations. Clasping the hands behind the back helps to spread the collar bones and keep the chest lifted. Hands in prayer is lovely. Extending the arms forward is the most difficult. Try out a few. Settle on one and take 5 deep breaths on each side.
5. Square at the Wall: Squares are an incredible technique for opening up the back, deepening the hip creases and inverting the body. First sit at the wall and extend your legs, placing a block or some kind of marker where your feet hit. Then get up and place your hands just inside the measure. Walk your legs up the wall until they come to 90 degrees, creating a square with the floor and the wall. Bend the knees, stick the sit bones up. Let the head dangle and allow the spine to decompress. Work towards 10 breaths, optionally extending one leg up at a time.