Summer is Here!
I love the summer months. There is something freeing about being able to walk out of the house without having to put on coats, hats and scarves. I also tend to be cold all the time, so when most people are complaining about the heat I am reveling in the fact that I am finally not cold.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a downside. Being on the east coast, the increased humidity creates an oppressiveness that can definitely take its toll on the lungs. The heat can also make it more difficult to exercise and stay hydrated without losing too much salt . . . and dealing with those potential consequences. That’s not even getting into all the potential allergens of the blooming season to add to the already existing inflammation.
In short, summer can be rough.
If you’re like me, summer was about getting outside and being active when you were young. If it involved moving around and breaking a sweat, I was doing it; canoeing, camping, hiking, swimming (just to name a few). Even though the logistics have become a little more complicated over the years, I still enjoy spending time being active in nature.
One thing all of these activities have in common with yoga, besides the physically active component, is that they facilitate the mind being in a more meditative state without even realizing it. I think that was my original draw to all of these activities. The feeling you get when you are so immersed in what you are doing that everything else falls away. All that is left is you, in this moment. You have found your flow state. . .
What is a Flow State?
Finding a “flow state” is different for everyone. It doesn’t even have to come from doing something physical, either. The potential for reaching a flow state exists in any activity you enjoy that requires complete focus and challenges you. It isn’t something that happens every time you practice, but it can definitely help you feel more motivated to continue practicing once you have felt it four yourself.
In yoga, we sometimes call this state “finding your edge.” Coming into the practice with focus and awareness of the body. Finding whatever challenges you and pushing yourself right to that point, but not beyond it where frustration can set in (that’s the hard part). Letting go of judgment and feeling the enjoyment in each moment you spend on the mat.
Let’s Celebrate the Sun!
As Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, quickly approaches, it is only fitting that my classes for the month of June will be structured around the Sun Salutation. A traditional Summer Solstice practice is to complete 108 Sun Salutations. Completing this many is very challenging both physically and mentally, but can also be a very cleansing experience. (Don’t worry, we are not going to be doing that many in my classes.)
Although Sun Salutations can be a strong and vigorous practice, there are also ways to make it accessible to everyone no matter what your ebb and flow of the day might be. The key is knowing what options are available and giving yourself the space to make the choice that is right for your body in the moment, without judgment. Allowing yourself to find your edge, your flow in the practice.
Make your practice Yours!
With all of the adjustments constantly being made within our bodies, it makes sense to allow our yoga practice to change as well. As we practice this month, I encourage you to make choices that are right for your body. Allow yourself to experiment each class and find what your edge feels like in the moment. Give yourself the space to be in a different place every time you practice. Challenge yourself to find your flow.
Each time we step on to the mat is a new experience, a new opportunity to let go of judgment and be right where we are.
Heather Brown is a yoga instructor and adult with CF. Join her for Gentle Kripalu Yoga on Monday mornings in June! If you’re not registered yet for CF Yogi’s virtual yoga classes for the Cystic Fibrosis community, sign up here!