Summer Yoga & Ayurveda Tips

In Ayurveda, the summer season corresponds to Pitta dosha and it is characterized by the heat of transformation. You can see it in nature throughout the growing season: the seeds planted in spring are transformed into the fruits of harvest. With the arrival of this new season it’s time to make some changes to our diets and yoga practices so that we can keep our cool.  Read on for your Summer Yoga and Ayurveda tips!

image of Summer Yoga and Ayurveda Tips

Summer Yoga and Ayurveda Tips

Summer Ayurveda Tips

In the summertime it is important to balance the heat of the season with foods that are naturally sweet, bitter, or astringent.  Luckily, mother nature provides us with exactly those foods in the summer growing season.  All you have to do is look at what is abundant in the farmers market and eat tons of those foods!

Foods to Favor in Summer

  • Leafy greens like swiss chard, kale, collards, dandelion greens
  • Broccoli, cauliflower
  • Zucchini, summer squash
  • Cucumbers, bell peppers
  • Quinoa, barley, rice
  • Lentils, beans
  • Ghee, coconut oil
  • Berries, stone fruit & melons
  • Cilantro, coriander
  • Mint or hibiscus teas

There are certain foods that should be reduced or avoided during the summertime.  These are foods that build heat in the body and contain the tastes of sour, salty and pungent (aka spicy).  Consuming them without moderation is like throwing fuel on the fire!

Foods to Reduce in Summer

  • Spicy foods like chili peppers
  • Salty foods like salt, soy sauce, or miso
  • Sour foods like pickles, yogurt, or sour cream
  • Lemons
  • Beef, pork, or dark meat poultry
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

Summer Yoga Tips

Just like the foods that we eat can add fuel to the fire so can our yoga practices.  Thus, it might be best for you to to avoid heated power flow classes!  Summertime on the yoga mat is for practices that are more gentle, calming and cooling in nature.  If possible practice in the coolest parts of the day – early morning or evening.

Yoga Poses to Favor in Summer

  • Twists like lunging twist, revolved side angle, revolved triangle, reclining twist
  • Side stretches like seated side stretch, extended side angle, gate
  • Forward folds like wide-legged forward fold, pyramid, seated forward fold
  • Restorative poses like reclining bound angle, legs up the wall

To finish your yoga practice rest in a savasana that takes up a lot of space!  Think about taking the shape of a star fish so that there is lots of room for your skin to do one of its primary jobs – dissipate heat.  And don’t be shy about spending some extra time in relaxation.  Oftentimes summer becomes a go, go, go season where we try to get in ALL the activities while the weather is divine but that can lead to burnout so remember to rest!

Supported Backbend Video Tutorial

I’d like to introduce you to one of my very favorite yoga poses.  Supported backbend!  It’s a pose I do every single day for 5 minutes a day.  Occasionally, it might even appear an extra time during the day.  It’s that helpful to me in daily life.  And because I want you to reap those same benefits I made you a supported backbend video tutorial!

Why do I love it so?  Supported backbend effectively, and rather passively, undoes the caved in chest, forward rounded shoulders, and overstretched upper back that is the result of hours and hours in front of computers and other devices.  If we don’t work to balance this tendency in our yoga practice, this shape of the shoulders and spine will often lead to nagging aches and pains in those body parts.  Not to mention it sets us up on a trajectory to be stooped and rounded forward later in life….and I think most of us would love to still be standing tall at 90 and beyond!

In this supported backbend video tutorial I walk you through two versions so that you can chose the one that makes the most sense for your body.  Are you a beginner?  Chose the first option I demonstrate.  Set your timer for 1 minute and little by little work your way up to longer and longer in the pose.  Have you been practicing this pose for a while?  Chose the second option I demonstrate.  Set your timer for 5 minutes and enjoy.   I hope you’ll watch the video and start incorporating this pose into your daily life.  I think you’ll find it as beneficial and worthwhile as I do!

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is yoga’s sister science and India’s ancient system of medicine. Its literal translation from Sanskrit, the language of Yoga and Ayurveda, is “the science of life”.

Two Goals of Ayurveda

The primary goal is to maintain health in the healthy by nipping any imbalances in the bud.  It is about prevention of disease.   Secondarily, it looks to alleviate and manage disease in the unhealthy. We achieve these two goals through diet, lifestyle, and culinary herbs.

image is Ayurveda is ancient personalized medicine

Ayurveda is Ancient Personalized Medicine

Each of us is born with a unique constitution or make up. Therefore, Ayurveda takes a highly personalized approach to health. It looks at the individual — mind and body — in order to determine what that person needs to restore balance and well-being.

What does that mean? What one person needs to deal with their digestive upset might be completely different than what another person needs. It’s not just the symptoms that determine the diet and lifestyle recommendations.  It’s everything about the person that determines them.

At the end of the day Ayurveda looks to return you to the “truth of you” by restoring balance to your unique constitution. Because a healthy you means you can do all that you’re meant to do in this world!

Setting up a home yoga practice: The props

I once read that a yoga teacher was asked by a student, “How many times a week should I get on the mat and practice?” The teacher’s response was once a week is better than zero, twice is better than once, and on and on.

Getting to a yoga studio for a 75 – 90 minute practice 7 days a week is probably not likely given our life schedules. What is possible though is getting on the mat every day at home. And good news! It needn’t be a lengthy practice to see great benefits. By showing up on the mat every day anywhere from 5 – 30 minutes you will feel better in your body and your mind.

And more good news! You don’t need a lot of gear to get started. From my point of view there are two things that everyone should invest in.  The rest can be gathered up from around the house.

Yoga props to invest in….and those to find around the house

Invest

  1.  A high quality yoga mat:: Invest in a heavy sticky mat that won’t crawl all over the floor while you’re practicing. It should also give you enough padding to help cushion your knees when kneeling.
  2. A pair of sturdy blocks:: Blocks help create possibilities in our poses. They help us access actions and movements in the body that might otherwise be inaccessible when, say, straining to reach the floor. It’s not a crutch or a cheat!

Shop Your House

  1. A blanket:: Most of us have plenty of options from which to choose already laying around the house. Blankets create a perch to sit upon so that you’re nice and tall. And the obvious? A cozy layer to rest under during savasana.
  2. A belt, towel or long scarf:: Having something at the ready that helps you to reach your feet or get your hands behind your back is a must have, especially while we patiently wait for hamstrings to lengthen and shoulders to open. There are so many options around the house to help in this endeavor!
  3. A dense pillow or couch cushion:: In a more restorative yoga pose extra props create the shape for you so that you don’t have to do the work. A dense pillow or couch cushion will take the place of a bolster anytime you need some extra R&R.

Want some more specifics about what props I use in my home practice? Request my Home Practice Toolkit guide below.  It even includes how to shop your house to make similar substitutions with what you already own.

 

P.S. Are you new to yoga? Check out my 3 Tips for Yoga Beginners

It’s Time

Several years ago I gave up resolutions in favor of choosing one word to guide my year. It’s my way of setting an intention. It serves as a simple reminder of where I want my energy to go every day in order to continue building and living a life I love. This year I chose TIME.

Time to set aside fear.

Time to take the next big step.

Time to bust open doors.

Time to close others.

Time to go deeper.

Time to celebrate.

More time with family and friends.

Less time mindlessly scrolling on a little screen.

These are just a few of the things I hope time helps guide me towards this year. It is the my most precious commodity. And I want to squeeze every bit of value out of my life by living one that is not fleetingly busy but one that is beautifully full and deep.

Releasing tension in the neck

Releasing Tension in the Neck
Does this sound familiar? You’re at your desk working away at your computer. Your shoulders are hiked up towards your ears. Your chin is jutting out towards the computer screen. By the end of the day you are reaching to massage the back and sides of your poor aching neck.

These three stretches are little miracle workers for releasing tension in the neck. They are my go-to when I literally have a pain in the neck or feel a headache coming on. As a bonus they take less than 5 minutes to do. Remember: slow and steady wins the race so always work gently and mindfully.  In these stretches less is more!

Pain in the neck or headache? Try to these 3 quick stretches to ease an achy neck. Click To Tweet

Back of Neck Stretch

 

Back of the Neck: Interlace the hands at the back of the head.  Allow the chin to drop towards the chest until a stretch is felt at the back of the neck.  With the interlaced hands providing gentle resistance lightly press the back of the head into the interlaced hands for 10 seconds.  It’s as if you were trying to return the head to center but the hands prevent you.  Let that go and drop the chin any closer to the chest, until a stretch is felt at the back of the neck once again.  As before gently lift the head into the interlaced hands for 10 seconds.  Repeat this process 1-2 more times.

Side of Neck Stretch

 

Side of the Neck: Lean the right ear towards the right shoulder.  Reach overhead with the right hand and rest it on the left cheek.   With your hand, gently press the right ear to the right shoulder until a slight stretch is felt on the left side of the neck.  Reach the left fingertips towards the floor.  With the right hand providing gentle resistance lightly lift your head into your hand for 10 seconds.  It’s as if you were trying to return the head to center but the hand prevents you.  Let that go and drop the right ear any closer to its shoulder, until a stretch is felt on the left side of the neck once again.  As before gently lift the head into the hand.  Repeat 1-2 more times and then switch sides.

 

Front of the Neck: Rotate your chin towards the right shoulder until you feel a slight stretch towards the left side of the neck.  Rest your left hand on your left cheek.  With the left hand providing gentle resistance lightly rotate the cheek into the hand for 10 seconds. It’s as if you were trying to rotate the chin back to center but the hand prevents you from moving the head.  Let that go and rotate the chin any further towards the right, until a stretch is felt on the left side of the neck once again.  As before gently rotate the cheek into the hand.  Repeat 1-2 more times and then switch sides.

 


 

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A savasana to eliminate shoulder knots

Last month I introduced you to positional therapy, a way to address the muscle imbalances in the body that lead to pain.  After a session, I always recommend homework to help keep the balance we worked to create so that achy body parts and stubborn knots become a thing of the past. The good news is that unlike the hours of homework we may have endured every night in high school, this homework takes only a minute or two here and there throughout the day. Even better, some of the homework can be snuck into our yoga practices and that’s what I’m going to share with you today — my favorite piece of homework to help you get rid of that glorious knot on the top of your shoulder.

You know the one.  It’s right where the top of the shoulder runs into the base of the neck. Throughout the day you reach up to massage what feels like a goose egg lodged underneath the skin. So how do we get rid of it?  By marrying positional therapy homework with savasana!

Got a knot on the top of your shoulder? Try this savasana variation! Click To Tweet

 

 

A Savasana to Eliminate Shoulder Knots

When you come to rest in savasana at the end of your yoga practice, allow the right forearm to rest on the forehead.  To make it even yummier, you can let the right ear tilt slightly towards the right shoulder.  Hold for 1 to 2 minutes.  I highly recommend using a timer here.  We often vastly underestimate how long a minute is in a pose, even the restorative ones! Resting with the arm in this position brings the two ends of the muscle closer to one another which allows the muscle to relax and unwind. Now switch and do the left side.  Finally, end your savasana with 1-2 minutes in the classical pose.  Arms are at a bit of an angle away from the sides of the body  with the palms facing the ceiling.  Let the shoulders rest heavily on the floor.

If you give this modified savasana a try, I’d love to hear what you think!  I don’t think you’ll miss those annoying shoulder knots one bit.


 

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Positional therapy: the gentle pain reliever nobody knows about (yet!)

positional therapy

Never heard of positional therapy? I think it’s time that I change that!  Along with yoga, positional therapy is one of the most amazing tools in my toolbox.  It not only keeps me pain free and feeling great {good bye low back pain and angry muscle knots!} but I’ve been using it for the last 3+ years in one-on-one sessions to help others do the same.

What is positional therapy?

Positional therapy is a really gentle and super effective method for relieving common aches and pains in the body.  It works because it doesn’t just address the symptom but gets to the root of the problem: the muscular imbalances that are causing the issue in the first place.

Learn about the gentle pain reliever nobody has ever heard of....positional therapy! Click To Tweet

What are muscular imbalances?

Muscular imbalances result when muscles become too short or too long due to injury, stress, and/or the repetitive ways in which we carry out daily life.  These imbalances lead to pain that is commonly experienced in the low back, shoulders, neck, knees, elbows….and the list could go on.

Picture this:: you’re sitting at your desk, in front of the computer.  Your upper back and shoulders are rounding forward and your chest is caving in.  Try as you might it is nearly impossible to sit up straight and tall, with shoulders back, for more than a few moments at a time.  Sounds familiar, right?  This is muscular imbalance at work.

Because we practice this position so frequently (daily and for hours at a time!) the muscles across the front of the chest have become too short, rounding the shoulders forward.  As a result the muscles across the upper back have become too long.  These overstretched muscles are also weak which makes it that much more difficult to sit up with good posture…..so we slouch forward because it feels better.  And so the vicious cycle continues!

Too much time seated at a desk? Your achy low back might need positional therapy. Click To Tweet

How does positional therapy work?

It’s simple.  The muscles that are too short are lengthened and the muscles that are too long are shortened.  It is a combination of gentle, assisted stretching and passively held positions of comfort. {And it all happens on a really comfy massage table!  Easy peasy, right?}  By getting the muscles back where they belong pain is greatly diminished and even eliminated!

It is amazing how great you’ll feel after a positional therapy session!  {Some have told me they love the sessions more than a massage!} To keep you feeling that way, though, you’ll need to do some quick daily homework or incorporate some of these important pieces into your home yoga practice.   Once things are back where they belong it takes only a few minutes a day to keep them there.  Now isn’t that magical?  If you are interested in learning more about my 1:1 sessions click here.

 


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A Yogi Gift Guide

With the holidays right around the corner I decided to create a gift guide for you.  Each and every item in the guide is something that I love and use all the time.  I think you and the yogis in your life will love them too! {Don’t be shy about sending this over to spouses, friends, or bosses! They just might appreciate the helpful hint.}

Use my guide to get the perfect gift for the yogis in your life. Click To TweetGift Guide Photo

 

In the gift guide you’ll find a very special holiday bonus. Purchase a single private session gift certificate and get an extra 15 minutes added on to the session.

Grab the gift guide

 

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